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30151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Henryk Mandelbaum on: June 18, 2008, 11:41:35 AM
Henryk Mandelbaum, 85; Jew was forced to empty the gas chambers at Auschwitz
From Times Wire Reports
June 18, 2008

Henryk Mandelbaum, a member of the Sonderkommando -- Jewish prisoners who were forced to empty the gas chambers at Auschwitz after fellow Jews were gassed and burned -- died Tuesday. He was 85.

Mandelbaum died at a hospital in the southern Polish city of Bytom several days after undergoing heart surgery, said Igor Bartosik, a historian at the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum who has co-written an upcoming book on Mandelbaum.

Bartosik said he did not know the exact cause of death, and hospital officials refused to comment.

Mandelbaum was Poland's last surviving member of the Sonderkommando, in which he was forced by the Nazis to search the body cavities of fellow Jews for valuables and pull out gold teeth and fillings after they were executed. They then had to carry the bodies to crematories for burning and when the crematories were filled to capacity they dug huge pits to burn the bodies.

"I thought I was in hell. Fire and smoke were everywhere. I had to clean the gas chambers and put the bodies in the crematoria, or burn them outside when the extermination was in full swing and the crematoria were not enough," he told reporters some time ago.

Mandelbaum was forced to do the work from his arrival in Auschwitz, at age 21, on April 10, 1944, until January 1945, when the Nazis forced him and other fit inmates on a death march to flee the advancing Red Army. He was able to escape the march and hid at a farm for several weeks. The Soviets liberated the camp Jan. 27, 1945.

During his months in the camp, Mandelbaum -- inmate No. 181970 -- witnessed the death of some of the 400,000 Jews brought in transports from Hungary in the summer of 1944, and handled their dead bodies.

"He saw people going into the changing rooms, he saw people changing, he saw the moment of the gassing, the throwing of the Zyklon [B gas] into the gas chambers, he heard the screams," Bartosik told the Associated Press.

Mandelbaum was born Dec. 15, 1922, in the southern Polish town of Olkusz.

As the oldest of four children, he went to work cutting stone in a quarry to help support the family when his father's butcher's business became bankrupt. He developed physical strength that helped him pass an initial selection at Auschwitz, separating those capable of work from those who were sent immediately to the gas chambers.

Bartosik said Mandelbaum spent decades trying to teach younger generations about what happened during the Holocaust. He gave guided tours of Auschwitz and spoke frequently to groups about his experience.

Mandelbaum found himself in the spotlight in May 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI visited Auschwitz. In an emotionally charged event, the German-born pope prayed at the Wall of Death, where the Nazis executed thousands.  There he met with 32 camp survivors, most of them Catholics; he stopped to speak to each one, and kissed Mandelbaum -- the only Jewish survivor in the group -- on both cheeks.

Mandelbaum's parents, along with a brother and sister, were killed in the Holocaust. He is survived by his wife, a son, a sister and grandchildren, Bartosik said.

LA Times
30152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 18, 2008, 09:11:59 AM
When cell phones first came out, they did not have GPS.  Then the State mandated that they do so.  Why should I have to allow the State to track me in order to use the telephone?!?

I appreciate the point about no reasonable expectation of privacy in public places, but when developed that doctrine did not have to address as we do now the matter of having all of one's comings and goings tracked. 

Private entities are limited to their space, and cannot bring the power of the State to bear on whom they observe; contast Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
30153  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 6/22 Guro Crafty seminar at Surf Dog's in Hemet on: June 18, 2008, 08:55:20 AM
I suppose it would be a good idea to include the location and contact number , , ,  embarassed

Lester "Surf Dog" Griffin:
114 E. Florida
Hemet, CA 92545
phone: 909-766-0702
30154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: Limitations of federal govt. on: June 18, 2008, 08:26:06 AM

"[T]he government of the United States is a definite government,
confined to specified objects. It is not like the state
governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part
of the legislative duty of the government."

-- James Madison (speech in the House of Representatives, 10
January 1794)

Reference: Elliot's Debates,
30155  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: June 18, 2008, 08:20:15 AM
While I was on the road, while allowing someone to pass my guard I got overstacked and my left hip went out.  Dull, aching pain for several days, lessened by my remedial actions, but there nonetheless.  Back home now, today I am grateful for my absolutely wonderful chiropractor of many years, Dr. Shelly Bosten.
30156  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: June 18, 2008, 08:16:40 AM

Delighted to have another woman coming.  As always, the Gathering will be held somewhere in the Los Angeles region.  The plan is for me to look at two locations tomorrow. 

30157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 17, 2008, 11:53:07 PM
Well 42 posts on this thread has 2888 reads at present.  That averages to , , , almost 69 reads per post.  Do a similar calculation on some of the other threads, and consider that this forum-- no brag just fact-- tends to attract above average IQ readership. 

I think we do important work here.
30158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 11:49:49 PM
You said that we were a long way from having a GPS on everyone, and I pointed out that in point of fact they already do have a GPS on most people, so it is rather non-responsive to say that one can avoid it by handicapping oneself in the efficiency of daily communication.

As for the ease of searching the database of camera networks, I agree that at present it is a tedious thing to do, but the tedium and the load on the system of doing so in diminishing with extraordinary rapidity.  I offer for your consideration that your logic is like the frog in the pot who does not notice until too late that the temperature is heading for boiling.  Once the network are in place, do you think it possible to draw some sort of bright line based upon processing speed?
30159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 07:27:50 PM
Well, the GPS device is already mandated in everyone's cell phone, and in this thread we have seen networks of cameras covering everyone's comings and goings.
30160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 17, 2008, 07:26:13 PM
And you and I and some others are the Paul Reveres "The Islamo Fascists are coming!  The Islamo Fascists are coming!  One if by border crossing, two if by sea, three if by air!!!"
30161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim Hairdresser covers her hair, makes $4000 Euros on: June 17, 2008, 07:24:04 PM
How I nearly lost my business after refusing to hire a Muslim hair stylist who wouldn't show her hair

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith
Last updated at 10:10 PM on 17th June 2008

It seems too lunatic to be true. But here a hair salon boss reveals how she was driven to the brink of ruin - and forced to pay £4,000 for 'hurt feelings' - after refusing to hire a Muslim stylist who wouldn't show her hair at work

For Sarah Desrosiers, meeting Bushra Noah was not a moment in her life that she would describe as especially memorable.
Not only was it brief - lasting little more than ten minutes - but it was rapidly obvious to Sarah that Bushra was not the person for the junior stylist position she was trying to fill at her hairdressing salon.

Sarah's reasoning? Quite simply that Bushra, a Muslim who wears a headscarf for religions reasons, had made it clear she would not be removing the garment even while at work.

Sarah Desrosiers says she did nothing wrong by not employing Bushra Noah and would have done the same if an employee refused to remove a baseball cap.  Sarah felt that a job requirement of any hairdresser was that the stylist's hair would provide clients with a showcase of different looks. Especially one working in a salon such as hers, which specialises in alternative cuts and colours. Yet the ten minutes during which Sarah's world collided with Bushra's has resulted in an extraordinary employment battle, in which she was accused of 'direct' and 'indirect' discrimination.  For a year, Sarah has been facing financial ruin, due to a compensation claim for £34,000 brought by Bushra, 19, who has maintained she is due that figure after being turned down for a job at the Wedge salon in London's King's Cross.

In the event, the tribunal ruled this week that while Bushra's claim of direct discrimination failed, her claim for indirect discrimination had succeeded.  Sarah has therefore been ordered to pay £4,000 compensation by way of 'injury to feelings'.  Although this is a smaller sum than she'd feared she might have to hand over, Sarah, 32, is still outraged.

'I am a small business and the bottom line is that this is not a woman who worked for me,' says Sarah.

Bushra Noah says that Sarah Desrosiers 'hurt her feelings' by not employing her after a ten minute interview

'She is simply someone I met for a job interview, who, for a host of reasons, was not right for the job. I cannot see how she deserves £4,000. As for the notion that I've injured her feelings - well, people's feelings get injured every day. I dread to think the sorts of things that people will try to claim injured feelings for now that this precedent has been set.'

In its ruling, the tribunal said it was 'satisfied that Bushra was not treated less favourably than Sarah would have treated any woman who, whether Muslim or not, wears a hair covering at all times when at work'.

Accordingly, the claim of direct discrimination failed.

But with regard to the issue of indirect discrimination, they found that Sarah had pursued a 'legitimate aim - that aim being to promote the image of the business'.  However, the burden of proof was on Sarah to prove that her means of achieving that legitimate aim was proportionate. She was not able to prove her contention that employing someone with a headscarf would have the negative impact on her business's stylistic integrity that she feared.

Since the judgment, Bushra, who is of Syrian descent and has worn a headscarf since she was 13, has, so far at least, chosen not to comment.  But, speaking last year, she admitted she had attended 25 interviews for hairdressing jobs without success. But Sarah, she told the tribunal, had upset her the most.

She said: 'I felt so down and got so depressed. I thought: "If I am not going to defend myself, who is?" Hairdressing has been what I've wanted to do ever since I was at high school.

'This has ruined my ambitions. Wearing a headscarf is essential to my beliefs.'
Bushra had a job in a salon in London, where her tasks included cutting hair, highlighting, tinting and perming, before she left to get married in Syria in 2006.

But on her return to Britain, she was unable to find work. She has given up her ambitions to become a hairdresser and is studying travel and tourism at Hammersmith and West London College while working part-time in a shop. At the tribunal, Bushra was asked if Sarah had made derogatory remarks about her headscarf.

She replied: 'She did not. She just asked me if I wore it all the time, or whether I'd take it off.'

Although Bushra is believed to have been acting alone, in the past similar cases have been championed by Muslim traditionalist groups.
In 2006, the Law Lords overturned a court ruling that teenager Shabina Begum's human rights were violated when she was banned from wearing full Islamic dress at school.

Sarah in her salon - Wedge - located in north London says that the discrimination case against her almost ruined her business
The extremist Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir later admitted that it had 'advised her'.

Meanwhile, Sarah Desrosiers is wondering how to raise the £4,000 she has been ordered to pay Bushra. She has spent her savings on her legal battle and simply has no money left.

'I am a one-woman band, and am already in debt due to the set-up costs of opening my own salon,' says Sarah. 'I dread to think how many haircuts I'm going to have to do to earn the £4,000 I have to pay Bushra. This has, without doubt, been the worst year of my life.'

Such a messy set of circumstances, let alone the strain of having the case bought against her, was certainly not what Sarah expected when she started out on her career aged 17. From the outset, she had grand ambitions, telling her mother that she would one day have her own salon.

'Even back then, I realised how important your own hair is to the job,' says Sarah. 'I went into hairdressing a rather plain brunette, but within a few weeks I had a bright red crop. I wanted to provide clients with inspiration through my own hair. Whether they're in a conventional High Street salon, or something slightly different like my salon, customers expect to see the stylists with hair that is on trend, striking and can give them ideas for their own look.'

In 1997, Sarah got a job at a salon on London's Portobello Road, where she remained for almost a decade. In March 2006, feeling ready to spread her wings, she wrote a business plan, secured a loan and invested £5,000 of her savings into the lease on a small salon on Caledonian Road. She named it Wedge, and planned to specialise in 'urban and edgy' cuts, rather like the cerise colour she often dyes her own hair.

'I'd never felt as proud as I did on the day I picked up the keys to my salon,' says Sarah.  'I was prepared to put my heart and soul into my business in order to make ends meet, and for the first few months, I worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, all by myself. I barely saw daylight, but I didn't mind because I was fulfilling my ambition. Of course, there were a few nerve-racking moments, such as when another salon opened a few doors away. But that is part of owning your own business, and I felt proud of all I was achieving.'

By March 2007, the business was doing so well that Sarah needed to take on another stylist. To minimise her overheads, she decided the best way to do this would be by renting out a chair in her salon to an experienced stylist - who would take a share of her profits - and employ a junior to work for both of them.

Sarah received dozens of applications for the junior position, one of which was from Bushra Noah.

'Her CV didn't stand out because I was looking for someone who lived locally - something I'd specified in the advert so that I could call them in as and when required - and she lived several miles away in Acton,' says Sarah.
'One day she rang up to see if I'd got her CV and begged me for an interview. I told her I had concerns about where she lived, but she sounded so desperate that I agreed she could come in for a chat.'

A few days later, Bushra duly arrived at the salon.

'I have to say I didn't take to her,' says Sarah. 'She waltzed into the salon and hung up her coat as though she already had the job.

'Naturally, I noticed her headscarf. But I presumed that, as she's a hairdresser, she'd take if off when she was working. In 16 years, I've never known any stylist cover their hair with a headscarf. And this particular headscarf came all the way down to her eyebrows and covered her entire hairline.'

Sarah broached the subject with Bushra, who said she would not be removing the garment. After ten minutes, with the interview complete, Sarah said she would come back to Bushra about the vacancy.

'As she left, Bushra turned to me and said that she'd been turned down for jobs before,' says Sarah. 'And I admit I thought: "Well, what do you expect? It was not a religious matter. If she'd come in wearing a baseball cap and saying she wouldn't take it off for work, then she wouldn't have got the job either.'

One morning in the second week of June 2007, an innocuous white envelope landed on Sarah's doormat. It contained a letter saying that she was being sued for £15,000 for indirect and direct discrimination by Bushra Noah. This, the letter stated, related to compensation for injury to her feelings and lost earnings. Later, that figure was increased to £34,000.

'I read it and re-read it and stood there dumbfounded,' says Sarah. 'I remembered Bushra, and I guessed straight away that the claim related to the headscarf. In my mind I was saying "But I wasn't discriminating, it's just a part of the job", over and over again. I dialled the number at the top of the letter and was told I needed to get a solicitor, but that because I worked, I wasn't entitled to Legal Aid. I thought: "This is it - my business is over." I was devastated.'

Using her savings of £2,000, Sarah employed a lawyer who helped her draft a statement about her meeting with Bushra. But with his fees at £280 an hour, she knew she couldn't afford to fight a satisfactory legal battle. Her parents - her mother is a nurse, and her father is retired - weren't in a position to help her out financially either.

'I was at my wits' end, and I had no idea how I was going to pay for my legal fees,' says Sarah. 'I was virtually being accused of racism, which is ridiculous. I've cut the hair of people from all walks of life, including transsexuals, and you can hardly run an alternative salon if you are prejudiced.'

Help came when a friend tipped off a reporter about what was happening, and Sarah's case gained publicity, first locally, then nationally. Since then, she has received support from hundreds of people in the hairdressing industry, including black celebrity stylist Errol Douglas. Still, the wave of support did little to ease the stress as she fought to clear her name.

'For months, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I felt as though my whole life was on hold. All I could see was that I'd be forced into bankruptcy and lose my business.'

In the course of preparing for her trial, Sarah estimates she has lost £40,000 of her salon's annual income.  She also faced a further blow when it emerged that Bushra had increased the figure to £34,000 to compensate for hate mail she had received following Press coverage of the trial. In March, Sarah faced a three- day employment tribunal, and endured four hours of cross-examination.

'I managed to defend myself and not cry, but it was incredibly difficult,' she says. 'I'd even had to ask my accountant, who is a Muslim, and another Muslim friend to write letters confirming that I am not racist. The whole experience was so humiliating and, most importantly, unnecessary. I kept thinking: "I've worked hard all my life - how can it be possible that someone can come into my shop, talk to me for ten minutes and then sue me for £34,000? How is that possibly fair?".'

As she reels from the verdict, Sarah is contemplating her next move. While part of her is tempted to pay, simply to close the door on this unpleasant episode, she also feels she should fight to clear her name. Her lawyers are advising her on whether or not she can appeal.

'Because of this there will be a black mark against my name for the rest of my life,' she says. 'I feel I have not done anything wrong, and this is a terrible price to pay for a meeting that lasted ten minutes.'
30162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 17, 2008, 05:05:41 PM
Iran: Terrorists will get bomb

[Excerpted from Patriot Post Digest, June 13, 2008]

"Last week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech in which he predicted that terrorists would obtain nuclear weapons and 'take away security from all the tyrants of the world.' He later made it clear that by 'tyrants' he meant the United States. The statement is darkly ironic, since Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, and the pariah state is almost certainly in pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Khamenei was quick to add that Iran could never possess or use nuclear weapons since they are against 'Islamic beliefs,' but Iran’s Islamic government has never been known for being straightforward, and the supreme leader urged his listeners to continue exporting the Islamic revolution. If anything, Khamenei’s statement could be interpreted as a warning that Iran’s nuclear weapons will not be used by the country’s military, but rather by proxy terrorist groups. Meanwhile, the international 'community' finds itself incapable of taking any real action against Iran thanks to strong opposition from China and Russia, making it likely that whoever challenges Iran militarily will do so alone.

"Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz seems willing to take that chance. Mofaz recently announced his candidacy to succeed Ehud Olmert as Israel’s leader, and should he win, he intends to deal with Iran using whatever means necessary. 'If Iran continues its nuclear weapons program, we will attack it,' Mofaz said last week. 'Other options are disappearing. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear program.' Given Israel’s expertise in destroying such programs (Osirak, Iraq in 1981 and al-Kibar, Syria in 2007), Iran would do well to heed Mr. Mofaz’s warning."

So, "Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei...predicted that terrorists would obtain nuclear weapons and 'take away security from all the tyrants of the world.' He later made it clear that by 'tyrants' he meant the United States." No, he didn't add, "...and Iran will supply those terrorists with nuclear weapons", but I'm not sure it doesn't still stand as a de facto declaration of intent. At least some Israelis aren't fooled, or worried about making a clear statement of intent of their own.
30163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 05:03:35 PM
"As long as there is police power, there is the potential for the abuse of the police power. Is the answer then to not have police? That would ensure there were no abuses of police power. There are certainly those who call themselves libertarians that advocate such a position. I think a cost/benefit analysis is a better method of examining the issue."

Exactly.  So what is the cost/benefit of the government being able to keep track of everyone's comings and goings?
30164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iraq votes for McCain on: June 17, 2008, 12:20:16 PM
Why Iraqis Back McCain
June 17, 2008; Page A21
However it turns out for John McCain this fall -- and so far he's running his general election campaign the way Gen. Ricardo Sanchez ran counterinsurgency ops -- the Arizona Republican is sure to carry at least one battleground state by a landslide. That state is called Iraq.

Last week, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey of more than 24,000 people in 24 countries. Result: From Japan to Tanzania to Germany to Russia, the world has "more confidence" in Barack Obama than in his Republican rival to "do the right thing regarding world affairs."

But Pew did not poll Iraqis, whose opinions about the choice America makes should weigh at least as heavily with us as the collective wisdom of, say, Brazil. Whom would they prefer as the next U.S. president?

Associated Press 
Constraints of time and money being what they are, I have not gotten round to phoning 1,000 Iraqis to get their views on Obama-McCain. But I did sit down last week with four key provincial Iraqi leaders, Sunnis and Shiites, who -- without actually endorsing Mr. McCain -- made their views abundantly clear.

"The Iraqis are really fearful about some of the positions the Democratic Party has adopted," says Sheik Ahmed Abu Rishah. "If the Democrats win, they will be withdrawing their forces in a very rapid manner."

Mamoun Sami Rashid al-Alawi, the governor of Anbar province, agrees. "We have over a million casualties, thousands of houses destroyed," he says. "Are we going to tell [Iraqis] that the game is over? That the Americans are pulling out?"

Messrs. Abu Rishah and Awani, both Sunni, have possibly the toughest political jobs on the planet. Sheik Abu Rishah inherited the leadership of the Iraq Awakening movement when his brother was killed by al Qaeda last September. Gov. Awani's immediate predecessor was kidnapped and killed by insurgents, and he has survived more than a score of assassination attempts.

Today, the governor speaks with a mixture of confidence and foreboding. He insists al Qaeda has been vanquished. But, he adds, "Iraq is in a strategic location and has huge resources. There are a lot of eyes on Iraq." Later in the conversation, he makes his point more precisely. "Liberating Iraq is a very good dish. And now you are going to hand it over to Iran?"

A sense of incredulity hangs over the way Iraqis see the U.S. political debate taking shape. The governor tells a moving story about their visit to Walter Reed hospital, where they were surprised to find smiles on the faces of GIs who had lost limbs. "The smile is because they feel they have accomplished something for the American people."

But the Iraqis came away with a different impression in Chicago, where they had hoped to meet with Mr. Obama but ended up talking to a staff aide. "We noticed there was a concentration on the negatives," the governor recalls. "The Democrat kept saying that Americans have committed a lot of mistakes. Yes, that's true, but why don't you concentrate on what the Americans have achieved in Iraq?"

The Iraqis are even more incredulous about Mr. Obama's willingness to negotiate with Iran, which they see as a predatory regime. "Do you Americans forget what the Iranians did to your embassy?" asks the governor. "Don't you know that Ahmadinejad was one of [the hostage takers]?"

Here Hussein Ali al-Shalan, a Shiite from Diwaniyah in southern Iraq, offers a view. "For a long time, Iran has felt like Iraq is theirs. Our fear [about U.S. negotiations with Iran] is, you will be giving them something that we believe would prolong our agony. We are not against Iran. We have to coexist and work toward our mutual interests. The question is, is this possible at this stage? That's why we need the army to give a final push so the Iraqis can feel the fruits of our democracy."

It's not just Iran. "There is no other country that supports us," says Gov. Awani. "What is happening in Iraq scares everyone," by which he means the neighboring autocracies that have something to fear from a successful democratic model in their midst.

That only makes America's ambivalence toward its democratic creation that much stranger to the Iraqis. Will the next administration abandon both its principles and its friends in the region? For what?

The administration and the Iraqi government are now wrangling over a status-of-forces agreement -- evidence that Iraq has reached a point where it can once again act like a sovereign nation. But the Iraqis leave no doubt that they want a deal, not least "so Iraq would be able to protect U.S. interests in the region," as Sheik Abu Rishah puts it. Having lost 4,100 Americans for Iraq, the Iraqis are offering to return the sacrifice -- assuming only that the alliance endures.

Throughout our interview, the men did not stop fingering their prayer beads, as if their future hinges on their ability to make their case to the American public. They're right: It does. Which is why Iraq, all but alone among the nations, will be praying for a McCain victory on the first Tuesday in November.

Write to
30165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD- WSJ on: June 17, 2008, 11:36:36 AM

McCain Tiptoes Back to Reality on Energy

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" is a famous riposte attributed to the economist John Maynard Keynes.

John McCain could employ a political version of that line tonight when he delivers a major speech on energy in the Oil Patch capital of Houston, Texas. Faced with $4 gasoline and evidence that China is about to drill for oil off U.S. shores with Cuban help, Mr. McCain will call for ending the federal moratorium on offshore drilling. I'm further told he may be given air cover by an executive order from the Bush administration that will address that very issue on Wednesday.

"I don't want to dictate to the states what they should do," Mr. McCain told reporters in explaining why he was dropping his objection to offshore drilling. At the same time, he reiterated his view that areas such as the Alaska coastal plain are "pristine" and should continue to be off limits.

The Barack Obama campaign quickly set up a confrontation with Mr. McCain over his new stance. "John McCain's plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan told reporters.

Shaping up here is a debate worth having, one that will present suffering motorists with a clear contrast between the candidates.

-- John Fund

Obama Says 'Hi' with One Finger

Barack Obama has sent a clear but unmistakable response to the pressure he's been getting to put Hillary Clinton on his ticket as the vice presidential nominee. Yesterday, his campaign named Patti Solis Doyle, the former Clinton campaign manager who was fired in February and has not spoken to Mrs. Clinton since, as the chief of staff who will help guide whomever he picks as his running mate.

A major Clinton fundraiser told the New York Observer he considered the move "the biggest f--- you I have ever seen in politics." According to the unnamed Clinton donor, "Clinton loyalists view [Ms. Doyle] with deep suspicion and believe that she is shopping around a book deal and acted as a background source for an extremely harsh Vanity Fair piece about Bill Clinton."

"Either one of two things happen," predicted the fundraiser. "Hillary is selected as vice president and they fire Patti, or Hillary is not going to be the vice president."

Team Obama insists no message is being sent in the hiring of Ms. Doyle, who was one of several campaign staffers whose appointment was announced on Monday. But Clinton insiders say the former First Couple is livid over the appointment and it will not make repairing relations between the two camps any easier.

Syndicated columnist Selena Zito couldn't resist speculation about other possible Obama hiring decisions. "What's next?" she joked. "I wonder if Obama plans on hiring [estranged Clinton strategist] Mark Penn as chief of staff for the future First Lady?"

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"Rather than issuing statements, Sen. [Chris] Dodd needs to answer any and all questions about the circumstances of his attaining the Countrywide loans. We join the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in calling for the Senate and House ethics committees to investigate whether the acceptance of bargain rate loans violated the prohibition against accepting gifts. The committees need to determine if any other congressmen received favorable loans in possible violation of the ethics rules.... The public needs confidence that those proposing ways to solve the subprime mortgage crisis did not take advantage of their positions to get deals from the very folks largely responsible for causing the crisis" -- editorial in The Day newspaper in New London, Ct., on Connecticut Senator and Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd's acceptance of sweetheart loans from subprime lender Countrywide Financial.

Quote of the Day II

"If Barack Obama really wants to sell his message of hope to American voters this November, he needs to stop treating us like pathetic victims unable to compete economically with people in Mexico or China.... Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, Obama pandered in the Democratic Party primaries to labor unions and others in the party base who blame low-wage foreign countries for stealing American jobs. He vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and he whined about China's currency" -- columnist Tom Walsh, writing in the Detroit Free Press.

No Message, But Please Accept this Toy

My sources at the Republican National Committee say they are stunned by the dropoff in contributions this election cycle, but a big part of the problem is an absence of an agenda. It's getting harder and harder to finish this sentence: "Vote for Republicans in November because..." The Republican campaign committees are getting more angry mail than checks as a result of failing to stop earmarked spending and the GOP's recent failure to support President Bush's veto of the inexcusable $300 billion farm bill.

So instead of a message this fall, the GOP is trying to promote donations with a new stuffed animal elephant with the RNC logo on its belly. For $35 donations, donors can get the toy elephant, which party fundraising letters declare will be the "hit of your July Fourth Party." The fundraising letter continues: "The RNC elephants are wonderful plush toys and make a perfect gift for your favorite Republicans."

Several big Republican donors have told me they're infuriated by the juvenile fundraising pitch. "What has the RNC turned into, Sesame Street?" one donor fumed. Others complain that the letters are just further evidence that the party has no message right now -- especially on the core issue of cutting government spending.

No word yet as to whether "Sam" the GOP elephant is jumping off the shelves, but if this is the best pitch Republicans have to wrench money out of donors, perhaps another couple of years in the wilderness is what the party needs -- and deserves.

-- Stephen Moore

30166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: June 17, 2008, 11:33:40 AM
Mexico Security Memo: June 16, 2008
Stratfor Today » June 16, 2008 | 2330 GMT
Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Targeting Children
Twelve-year-old Alexa Belen Moreno was found shot dead in the back of an abandoned sport utility vehicle June 9 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Police later reported that Moreno and two other young girls had been kidnapped in a park near where Moreno’s body was discovered. The three girls reportedly were kidnapped to be used as bargaining tools with rival groups, but the scenario changed when the kidnappers were intercepted by a rival group. The kidnappers proceeded to use the three as human shields as they engaged in a gun battle with the rival faction, resulting in Moreno’s death and the injury of another of the girls.

While violence has been aimed at young people before, even the cartels largely eschew the tactic. (La Linea, an alliance of corrupt police officials that acts as the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel, later left a note next to the corpse of an individual stating, “This is what happens to those who involve the innocent.”)

The child kidnappings and the killing of Moreno reveal a trend seen before with the Arellano Felix Organization, aka the Tijuana Cartel. As the Tijuana cartel began to dissolve under pressure from multiple sources, elements of it diversified their criminal interests into different areas such as kidnapping.

The split between the Sinaloa cartel and the Juarez cartel over the Juarez plaza has been well documented, and is the source for the majority of the violence taking place in the border town. While the Sinaloa cartel continues to fracture, we will likely see the remaining Sinaloa elements in Juarez either move elsewhere or adopt this practice of diversifying their criminal enterprises. However, the narcotics trade will still be the central focus for these factions because that is where the most money is to be made.

Cuban Illegal Immigrants Abducted
A bus carrying 33 Cuban nationals guarded by National Institute of Migration (INM) guards was hijacked June 11 by an unknown number of armed men on the Palenque-Ocosingo road 140 kilometers (about 87 miles) outside Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas state. The 33 Cubans were arrested in Cancun earlier in the week when the boat they were traveling in was intercepted by the INM. They were on the bus along with other Central American detainees traveling to an immigration detention center in Tapachula.

Cuban Ambassador to Mexico Manuel Aguilera de la Paz revealed that elements of the “Miami Mafia” were behind the hijacking in Chiapas. Human trafficking has been a large money-maker for the Cuban mafia, especially the Miami syndicate, for some time now. Recently, human smugglers have begun to take different routes through Mexico and across its porous border with the United States due to increased patrols by the U.S. Coast Guard along the Florida coast. Cuban nationals must only be present at the border and be able to identify themselves as a Cuban national to be granted asylum in the United States; they do not have to cross the border first. Families pay members of the Miami Mafia between $10,000-$15,000 per person to transport loved ones from Cuba to the United States, making this group of Cuban nationals quite valuable at just under $500,000. The Mexican Attorney General’s Office later announced that the Miami Mafia possibly could be cooperating with Los Zetas, using plazas controlled by the Zetas to transport Cubans to the U.S. border.

(click to view map)

June 9

The Police Chief of Jaltipan, a city southeast of Veracruz, was murdered by a group of armed men inside his home as he returned from work in the afternoon.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza announced an “Arms Crusaders” program to prevent cross-border arms transactions; he also announced the exchange of real-time intelligence between Mexican and U.S. authorities.
June 10
The corpse of Jorge Velazquez, the chief of security for Reclusorio Sur — a Mexico City prison — was found wrapped in a blanket on the side of the street in the Iztapalapa area of Mexico City. Authorities believe his murder resulted from a prison drug deal gone wrong. Prison officials later confiscated all cell phones belonging to prison inmates.
June 11
The head prosecutor for Mexico City announced that two kidnapping gangs still operating openly in the city are responsible for four recent abductions that remain under investigation.
Mexico’s attorney general said violence in the struggle against drug trafficking has not reached its peak yet, but will decline over the next few years.
June 12
Citizens of Morelia, frustrated with the inactivity of local law enforcement, posted three signs around town warning criminals not to commit petty crimes.
An informant provided the Mexican Attorney General’s office with information connecting high-ranking Public Security Secretariat official Juan Guadalupe Aguilar to Sergio Villareal — aka El Grand — a high-ranking member of the Beltran Leyva group with connections to the Los Zetas.
June 13
The bodies of a young married couple executed in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, were discovered in a house on a ranch, bound with gunshot wounds to the backs of their heads. This was the second such incident in a week in Michoacan.
June 14
“Commando Negro” leader Rosario Flores Rojas was captured outside Ensenada, Baja California state, in a joint operation between the Mexican Army and state law enforcement officials. Commando Negro has protected drug traffickers, operated a kidnapping ring and been involved in various incidents of score-settling.
June 15
Five people died in a shootout between two rival drug gangs and federal, state and local officials in Ciudad Obregon and Navajoa, Sonora States.
Back to top
30167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 11:17:23 AM
Would it be rational to be concerned about a Governor such as Eliot Spitzer using police intel capabilities for personal political reasons?
30168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams: Cost of Freedom on: June 17, 2008, 11:07:42 AM
"Posterity! You will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it." John Adams, 1777
30169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 10:40:04 AM

No worries!

May I suggest using this moment as an opportunity to reconsider the concerns that others and I express-- disconnected from the guises and disguises of those who take similar positions for other reasons?
30170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: The source of rights on: June 17, 2008, 10:33:54 AM
"A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of
nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."

-- Thomas Jefferson (Rights of British America, 1774)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Lipscomb and Bergh,
eds., 1:209.
30171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 09:41:10 AM
Ummm, , , is that aimed at me?  If so, I don't deserve it.
30172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: June 16, 2008, 10:27:47 PM

The one Sarah clip that did play for me (the yogurt one) was funny, but very funny was the one about insuring only women cheesy

Anyway, lets see if I can take a stab at answering your post of May 29-- I hope my formatting is clear (MD-1 is my original post, MD-2 is my response to your response to MD-1):

First, my basic attitude is that gays/lesbians are free to be gay and others are free to make of it what they will.  That includes thinking it is wrong, repulsive, condemned by God, something to avoid, whatever.
My basic though that all human beings are created in the image of G-d have certain rights including a right to marriage.  I also think all human beings be treated with respect at all times though I don't think that should be legislated.

What you think is all well and good, but please feel free to go through the necessary steps to modify the US Constitution and/or relevant state constitutions-- at present honestly read they do not compel gay marriage.  I agree respect cannot be legislated.

MD-1: Flowing from the first thought, is the second, making anti-gay thoughts, feelings, employment practices, etc. illegal is liberal fascism.  Government is force and contrary to the Orwellian liberal use of the word "progressive", progress is increasing the amount of voluntary human interaction.  Increasing violence and coercion i.e. the role of the State in human interaction, is the opposite of progress.
Is it okay to discriminate against Older people, Women, Jews, People of Color,etc because people don't want to voluntary (sic)  associate with them? Why  should gays receive less protection than any other group?

a) Whether/to what extent gay/lesbian is a matter of nature or nuture remains a matter of great debate.  It most certainly is a matter of behavior.   Why should it be illegal to think less of a man e.g. for confusing his intestines with a woman's uterus?

b)Given the relentless expansion of the logic of anti-discrimination law, I have experienced backlash in my own thinking.  Now I am quite willing to entertain the notion that non-discrimination laws should be limited to governmental action. 

Third, by definition marriage is between a man and a woman.  It is not for the courts to redefine the foundational relationship of our society.  Just like Roe v. Wade, the only basis for the CA S. Ct decision and the MA S. Ct. decision is liberal arrogance and judicial imperialism.
We will have to discuss Roe v, Wade at a later date.

Marriage by definition has changed. Men used to have the right to beat and rape their wives.  It some parts of the world the definition of marriage  includes a man's right to marry multiple women.   All of these things  use to part of the fabric our society.   There were Jews from Arab Countries that when they immigrated to Israel had multiple wives.   I'm positive you don't t think any those things are okay.   The  definition of marriage has changed over time and it made the world a better place .  Plenty of terrible awful things slavery etc used to be part of the fabric of our society.

a) As long as the woman has free choice, why do you seek to deny her the right to marry whom she pleases simply because the man is already married if he wishes to marry her too?  Where does Wife 1 get her right to deny them their happiness-- especially if polygamy was part of the deal going in?  The issue is who/what institution is to say what the rule is and say when the rule is to change.  In our system of government, the special role of the judiiciary requires that it exercise its power only with rigorous intellectual honesty and humility.  To say that our Consitution compels allowing fetuses to be killed is absurd.  To say that our Constituion compels gay marriage is equally absurd.

Fourth, liberal fascism does not seem willing to compromise.  The offers of compromises such as "domestic partnership" and "Don't ask, don't tell" are disingenuous lies used simply to work towards imposing through the violence of government action an Orwellian  thought crime.
Why should someone have to compromise about their civil rights?  I don't see the connection between a right to marry and a Orwellian thought crime. Would you please flesh that out.

Well, here we go in a circle-- where do they get these alleged civil rights?  The Orwellian thought crime consists of making discrimination against gays illegal.  Again, gays are free to do what they do, and others are free to make of it what they will-- which includes being grossed out and looking to not have it around.  Speaking for myself, I have no problem with plenty of gays, and some I find creepy and would rather not have them around.  As a free man in a free country I see absolutely no role for government action in this.

Fifth, there are areas where discrimination probably is a pretty good idea.  For example, a lesbian probably should not be taking a girls school group on an overnight outing.  I don't want a gay scout leader in my son's cub scout troop.    (I note that liberal fascism hounds the Boy Scouts for this very reason-- this fine, wholesome group faces litigation wherever it goes, particularly if it wants to use a facility with some sort of governmental qualities.)  Because I have never served I defer to those that have, but it seems to me that the military is probably a good place for discrimination too.  I would not want to be in a squad with a gay sargeant when it came to deciding who had to take lead the way through the minefield.  It seems quite logical to me that in the close quarters of combat operations in particular, that disciplinary problems could result.
Historically there have been fierce gay warriors that lead men successfully into battle.
There are  straight ( or straight enough to be married with children )  sexual predators  that attack people of the same sex.   I don't think the  assault rate is higher for  GBLT.   It is very hard to get statistics  in that area because I don't believe most sexual abuse cases  are  reported.   If you want to protect your kids from of abuse   never let them   repeatedly   be one on one with another adult or have nanny cam etc.  Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts  have troops of kids and many leaders so that it wouldn't worry me to have a Gay/Lesbian troop leader at all.

a) You miss my point about gays in the military-- it is that sexual energies can lead to favoritism that corrodes unit morale and cohesion.
b)  Allow me to explain something to you about the human penis and those of us attached to it.  There is a period in the human males life where the crack of dawn had better not bend over or he will try to nail it.  cheesy If he is hetero, he will be looking for a vagina.  If he is gay, he will be looking for a male anus.  When my daughter hits puberty and goes on a school trip, if I think it better that she be chaperoned by a hetero woman than a hetero man, then IMO the government has no fcuking business getting in the way of that.  Similarly, if my son is going on a Cub/Boy Scout camping expedition and he is scared at being away from home in the forest, I do not want to have him getting pestered by a gay troop leader-- whom during the day has been his authority figure. 

This is such simple common sense-- how dare the government seek to get in the way of this!!! angry angry angry

Sixth and last, and probably the most important, I think it should be a strike against someone who wants to adopt.  We can squabble over the exact %, (I think it around 97%) but most children are straight and to place them in the care of "parents" who are not is profoundly wrong.  Children are born to imitate, their parents most of all, and to have a hetero boy naturally and inadvertently absorb the mannerisms of a fairy father and the man who _______ him is to indulge narcisstic cruelty of the highest order.  To have a hetero girl have to turn to lesbian mothers as she seeks to mature into the complexities and challanges of what it is to be a woman and think it does not matter that her "mothers" are at best clueless about men and at worst quite hostile to them is to be an intellectual coward.

I don't think it is necessary or usually narcissistic to want a child.   Children are not carbon copies of their parents. Do you think mixed race adoptions are also  wrong?  Is gender and sexuality the most important thing in human being. Is it more important  than shared values,  race,   personality type, intelligence level or anything else?     A straight male raised by two gay men might have some more challenges than a child  raised in a traditional nuclear family. It would obviously depend on the traditional nuclear family.   However children  born  in a nuclear family are in the minority and the divorce rate is over 50 percent .  Are you for outlawing all non nuclear families and if you are  what about if there is divorce or a death.  I believe  most kids raised with two loving parents or one loving parent turn out okay and of course  some kids with terrible parent(s) turn out fine. Someone could refer to me as just the person my husband sleeps with. It wouldn't make me any less his life partner.  All lesbians don't hate men. I happened to know a women who previously  was married (to a guy)and  who has currently  been with her partner over  20 years and managed to marry off all thee of her daughters and one son to wonderful people.She now has perfectly normal grandchildren.  I know  another family  where a gay man and his partner of over 20 years are both beloved uncles.     Obviously one example doesn't it make it true in all cases but gay marriage hasn't really existed long enough in any country  for there to be a lot of data. How does gay marriage even effect you personally?   I have respect for the lessons and wisdom  of the past but I won't let it dictate the present for me.   
a) Of course we are discussing statistical probabilities, not certainties so of course one can point to this case or that to the contrary without it changing the larger point in the slightest.
b) In my opinion it is precisely narcisstic to think more of oneself than of the child.    The overwhelming probability (98% is my understanding) is that the child will be straight.  The human animal is an amazing organism-- one born to receive the culturization that nutures its nature.  What a cruelty to take the wondrous ability to emulate and imitate and produce a heterosexual child with homosexual mannerisms!!! How vain! How cruel! How narcisstic! How clueless!   You ask how gay marriage affects me personally-- to respect the privacy of the individuals involved I will say only that within my extended family I have seen exactly how it can affect people.

The Adventure continues!
30173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 16, 2008, 01:09:39 PM
Yet more in this vein, this time from Stratfor:

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that a Pakistani-based ring led by the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear program had in its possession detailed blueprints for the construction of nuclear weapons small enough and rugged enough to be fitted to missiles. The ring, led by A.Q. Khan, has been known about for several years (it was busted in 2004). It has also been known that the ring provided nuclear technology, in the form of parts, to Libya, Iran and North Korea. What the Post has revealed is that Khan’s group also had blueprints for a usable nuclear weapon. The data were found in 2006 on a computer owned by a Swiss businessman. Therefore, the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have known about the data since then. However, according to the Post article, it is not known whether the information was given to the Iranians — which is what makes this report disturbing, to say the least.

It has been Stratfor’s position that the Iranian nuclear program ought not to be taken particularly seriously, because merely possessing enriched uranium does not give you a weapon. It might give you a device that could be detonated under careful controlled circumstances, but not a weapon that could be reliably delivered on a missile. Before that could happen, the device would have to be turned into a weapon. It would have to be miniaturized and ruggedized, able to withstand the stresses of launch, possible time in vacuum or very low air pressure and the heat of re-entry.

If the Post report is true, that is what these blueprints would provide the Iranians: knowledge of how to turn a device into a weapon. It must be remembered that a blueprint does not by itself enable you to build the weapon. A blueprint for a house would allow me to build the house, but I would need expertise in implementing the blueprint. It is not clear that the Iranians have enough expertise to follow even the most precise instructions, nor the prerequisite equipment. Knowing the kinds of materials or electronics needed to build the weapon doesn’t mean you have the facilities or engineers, in sufficient quantity, to do the job. We continue to think that the Iranians could not actually build a weapon. They lack things like sufficient quality-control engineers and technicians to get the job done. However, they might have the blueprints, and that is a huge barrier to have crossed.

But it simply isn’t clear that the Iranians actually have the blueprints. According to the author of the report, David Albright, who worked for the IAEA, “These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world.” He also said that Iran and North Korea “both faced struggles in building a warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit.”

The United States and Israel obviously have known since 2006 that these blueprints existed. Both countries’ intelligence services clearly had one mission above all others: find out if the Iranians had received the blueprints. The fact that there is no weapon yet does not mean that the Iranians don’t have the blue prints. Even with step-by-step instructions, it would take years to build a weapon and marry it to a missile. At the same time, while it might not be known whether they have the blueprints directly, equipment acquisitions, personnel movements and facilities construction could be tracked. If the Iranians were weaponizing, from whatever data source, that likely would be noticeable.

Neither the United States nor Israel has attacked Iran. That indicates that either they know that the Iranians do not have the plans or the process of implementing them has not progressed to a stage of imperative concern. When we recall the National Intelligence Estimate’s finding on Iran’s nuclear program, it would appear not to have triggered visible movement.

But here is the problem. Intelligence is not a science. Yesterday, our view was that the Iranians do not have the know-how or facilities to build a nuclear device. Today, our view is that they might have the know-how and almost certainly do not have a viable program. That’s quite a leap in a short time. What is comforting is that the possibility that they secretly have these plans has been known about for two years and no one has attacked Iran, possibly because no one is sure what to attack. But certainly this report has reduced our comfort level a notch.

That is some set of blueprints floating around. Apart from the obvious questions, it raises some new ones. A.Q. Khan wasn’t just peddling spare parts for the hobbyist. He had in his possession, outside the Pakistani nuclear establishment, the cookbook for weapons. Is there any way that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, which oversaw Pakistan’s nuclear program, did not know about what Khan was doing? And given that the United States and the Israelis were obsessed with Pakistan’s nuclear program, how could they have missed the fact that the head of Pakistan’s nuclear program was conducting negotiations with Libya, North Korea and Iran? It should have lit up every radar screen of every intelligence service in the world.

Until now, we didn’t much care. The stuff that Khan was delivering was not going to do much for anyone. With this revelation, our attention is, shall we say, piqued. There is something that does not add up here. How did Pakistan’s nuclear plans go walkabout and discussions get held with the most closely watched regimes in the world, and no one noticed until 2006?
30174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Factual on: June 16, 2008, 12:24:53 PM
  "Factual Questions for Obama" by George F. Will

  "Senator, concerning the criteria by which you will nominate judges, you
said: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize
what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's
like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old." Such
sensitivities might serve an admirable legislator, but what have they to
do with judging? Should a judge side with whichever party in a controversy
stirs his or her empathy? Is such personalization of the judicial function
inimical to the rule of law?


 . Voting against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, you said:
Deciding "truly difficult cases" should involve "one's deepest values,
one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the
depth and breadth of one's empathy." Is that not essentially how Chief
Justice Roger Taney decided the Dred Scott case? Should other factors-say,
the language of the constitutional or statutory provision at issue-matter?

 . You say, "The insurance companies, the drug companies, they're not going
to give up their profits easily when it comes to health care." Why should
they? Who will profit from making those industries unprofitable? When
pharmaceutical companies have given up their profits, who will fund
pharmaceutical innovations, without which there will be much preventable
suffering and death? What other industries should "give up their profits"?


 . ExxonMobil's 2007 profit of $40.6 billion annoys you. Do you know that
 its profit, relative to its revenue, was smaller than Microsoft's and many
other corporations'? And that reducing ExxonMobil's profits will injure people
who participate in mutual funds, index funds and pension funds that own 52
percent of the company?


 . You say John McCain is content to "watch [Americans'] home prices
decline." So, government should prop up housing prices generally? How?

Were prices ideal before the bubble popped? How does a senator know ideal
prices? Have you explained to young couples straining to buy their first
house that declining prices are a misfortune?


 . Telling young people "don't go into corporate America ," your wife,
Michelle, urged them to become social workers or others in "the helping
industry," not "the moneymaking industry." Given that the moneymakers pay
for 100 percent of American jobs, in both public and private sectors, is
it not helpful?


 . Michelle, who was born in 1964, says that most Americans' lives have
"gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl." Since 1960, real
per capita income has increased 143 percent, life expectancy has increased by
seven years, infant mortality has declined 74 percent, deaths from heart
disease have been halved, childhood leukemia has stopped being a death
sentence, depression has become a treatable disease, air and water
pollution have been drastically reduced, the number of women earning a bachelor's
degree has more than doubled, the rate of homeownership has increased 10.2
percent, the size of the average American home has doubled, the percentage
of homes with air conditioning has risen from 12 to 77, the portion of
Americans who own shares of stock has quintupled . Has your wife perhaps
missed some pertinent developments in this country that she calls "just
downright mean"?


 . You favor raising the capital gains tax rate to "20 percent or 25
percent." You say this will not "distort" economic decision making. Your
tax returns on your 2007 income of $4.2 million show that you and Michelle own
few stocks. Are you sure you understand how investors make decisions?


 . During the ABC debate, you acknowledged that when the capital gains rate
was dropped first to 20 percent, then to 15 percent, government revenues
from the tax increased and they declined in the 1980s when it was
increased to 28 percent. Nevertheless, you said you would consider raising the rate
"for purposes of fairness." How does decreasing the government's financial
resources and punishing investors promote fairness? Are you aware that 20
percent of taxpayers reporting capital gains in 2006 had incomes of less
than $50,000?


 . You favor eliminating the cap on earnings subject to the 12.4 percent
Social Security tax, which now covers only the first $102,000. A Chicago
police officer married to a Chicago public-school teacher, each with 20
years on the job, have a household income of $147,501, so you would take
another $5,642 from them. Are they undertaxed? Are they rich?


 . This November, electorates in four states will vote on essentially this
language: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential
treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color,
ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public
education or public contracting." Three states- California , Washington
and Michigan -have enacted such language. You made a radio ad opposing the
Michigan initiative. Why? Are those states' voters racists?


 . You denounce President Bush for arrogance toward other nations. Yet you
vow to use a metaphorical "hammer" to force revisions of trade agreements
unless certain weaker nations adjust their labor, environmental and other
domestic policies to suit you. Can you define cognitive dissonance?


 . You want "to reduce money in politics." In February and March you raised
$95 million. See prior question
30175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Catching up on: June 16, 2008, 12:18:51 PM

"My confidence is that there will for a long time be virtue and
good sense enough in our countrymen to correct abuses."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Edward Rutledge, 1788)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Memorial Edition),
Lipscomb and Bergh, eds., 7:81.


"[H]onesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and
only true policy; let us then as a Nation be just."

-- George Washington (Circular letter to the States, 14 June 1783)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (244)

"We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that
the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is
the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another shape -
that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to
the views of political institutions of a different form? It is
too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the
public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is
the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government
whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the
attainment of this object."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 45)

Reference: Federalist No. 45.

"Where liberty dwells, there is my country."

-- Benjamin Franklin (letter to Benjamin Vaughn, 14 March 1783)

Reference: Respectfully Quoted, p. 201

"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national
capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more
than any appellation derived from local discriminations."

-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 1796)

Reference: Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United

"So that the executive and legislative branches of the national
government depend upon, and emanate from the states. Every
where the state sovereignties are represented; and the national
sovereignty, as such, has no representation."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 191.

“The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” —Samuel Adams


Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens.” —James Madison


“And as to the Cares, they are chiefly what attend the bringing up of Children; and I would ask any Man who has experienced it, if they are not the most delightful Cares in the World.” —Benjamin Franklin


“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” —James Madison
30176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 16, 2008, 11:03:35 AM
"Technology will continue to advance. If there is an answer to your concerns, it's from legislation. What legislation do you suggest that will protect your privacy? Would this legislation cover both gov't and private entities? What technology should law enforcement be allowed to use, if any?"

Good and fair questions-- and I readily admit to not having answers to them worked out.  I do think though that as a society we had really better get to it though, before it is too late to stop things from going too far.

I will say that I have no problem with monitoring radiation as discussed in your previous post  cheesy
30177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / unpleasant speculation on: June 16, 2008, 10:51:12 AM
Following up on the preceding post:

Two stories that were in the news yesterday offer interesting opportunities for speculation. Note: what follows is exactly that, speculation.
The first comes from the Washington Post:
An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups. The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

This relates to the Khan group, which, led by a Pakistani nuclear scientist, sold Pakistan's nuclear secrets to rogue nations. The significance of this new discovery (the discovery reportedly dates to 2006 but is now being made public) is that the Khan group may have sold the design for a nuclear weapon that was more advanced than previously believed--more advanced because it was small enough to fit on missiles that countries like Iran and North Korea already possess. The Post's sources say that they have no idea what countries (if any) may have received these advanced nuclear weapons designs from Khan.

It occurs to me that this story could possible be related to the controversy last winter over the NIE that claimed that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003. That conclusion, trumpeted by the NIE itself, was obviously overstated: if you read the NIE, it acknowledged that Iran's work on uranium enrichment--the hardest part of nuclear weapons development--continued unabated, but claimed that Iran had stopped its "nuclear weapon design and weaponization work." Let's assume that the CIA did get information to the effect that Iran stopped its nuclear weapon design effort in 2003. Given what we now know about the "products" made available by the Khan network, isn't it possible that Iran did so because it had the weapons designs it needed? And if so, shouldn't the NIE, to the extent we place any credence in it, make us more concerned about Iran's nuclear program, rather than less so?

The second story comes from the London Times; I haven't seen it picked up in the U.S. yet. (But then, I haven't scoured the papers yet this morning.) The story's headline is arresting, even though it is supported only by implication in the article itself: "Get Osama Bin Laden before I leave office, orders George W Bush."
The TImes writes:
President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House. Defence and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks. “If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,” said a US intelligence source. ***
One US intelligence source compared the “growing number of clandestine reconnaissance missions” inside Pakistan with those conducted in Laos and Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam war. ***
A Pentagon source said US forces were rolling up Al-Qaeda’s network in Pakistan in the hope of pushing Bin Laden towards the Afghan border, where the US military and bombers with guided missiles were lying in wait. “They are prepping for a major battle,” he said.
The main operations in Pakistan are being undertaken by Delta, the US army special operations unit, and the British SBS.

I've wondered for a long time whether we have had a better idea of bin Laden's whereabouts than has been publicly revealed, and whether we have preferred to leave him at large rather than to capture or kill him. Why could this be the case? Presumably because we have cracked the security surrounding bin Laden and have been able to acquire valuable intelligence by leaving him at large.

This may be what was going on with Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, the Pakistani whose laptop was seized several years ago, revealing a number of al Qaeda plots. It may be that Khan was bin Laden's link to the outside world, and that bin Laden's instructions to cells around the world were being intercepted by our intelligence agencies. After Khan's capture was made public, it may be that bin Laden's new links to the outside world were likewise penetrated.

This is, as I said above, pure speculation. But the administration's success in preventing new attacks after September 11 has long suggested the possibility of an intelligence coup equal in magnitude to Enigma. If bin Laden's security was penetrated years ago, it would explain why the administration has preferred to leave him at large despite the occasional annoyance of his propaganda missives.

If the Times' report is correct, then perhaps President Bush has decided that al Qaeda is sufficiently degraded, or the intelligence recoverable through bin Laden is no longer sufficiently valuable, so that it makes sense to try to kill or capture him. No doubt President Bush would like to bequeath his successor a world free of both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. So it's pure speculation, but for what it's worth, I wouldn't be shocked to see bin Laden killed or captured between now and January.
30178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 16, 2008, 10:33:58 AM
As far as this particular quote goes, fair enough-- but I am thinking the "we" envisions the US more than the US and France-- and not appearing here is Chirac's sordid history of personal friendship with SH dating back to those years, , , Furthermore, IMHO Chirac played a pretty despicable role during the UN's Oil for Food program and during the run up to the Iraq War.
30179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Smugglers had design for advanced warhead on: June 16, 2008, 10:25:46 AM
Duplicating on this thread GM's post on the Homeland Security thread:

Smugglers Had Design For Advanced Warhead
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 15, 2008; A01

An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

The computer contents -- among more than 1,000 gigabytes of data seized -- were recently destroyed by Swiss authorities under the supervision of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, which is investigating the now-defunct smuggling ring previously led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

But U.N. officials cannot rule out the possibility that the blueprints were shared with others before their discovery, said the report's author, David Albright, a prominent nuclear weapons expert who spent four years researching the smuggling network.

"These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world," Albright wrote in a draft report about the blueprint's discovery. A copy of the report, expected to be published later this week, was provided to The Washington Post.

The A.Q. Khan smuggling ring was previously known to have provided Libya with design information for a nuclear bomb. But the blueprints found in 2006 are far more troubling, Albright said in his report. While Libya was given plans for an older and relatively unsophisticated weapon that was bulky and difficult to deliver, the newly discovered blueprints offered instructions for building a compact device, the report said. The lethality of such a bomb would be little enhanced, but its smaller size might allow for delivery by ballistic missile.

"To many of these countries, it's all about size and weight," Albright said in an interview. "They need to be able to fit the device on the missiles they have."

The Swiss government acknowledged this month that it destroyed nuclear-related documents, including weapons-design details, under the direction of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency to keep them from falling into terrorists' hands. However, it has not been previously reported that the documents included hundreds of pages of specifications for a second, more advanced nuclear bomb.

"These would have been ideal for two of Khan's other major customers, Iran and North Korea," wrote Albright, now president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "They both faced struggles in building a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit."

It is unknown whether the designs were delivered to either country, or to anyone else, Albright said.

The Pakistani government did not rebut the findings in the report but said it had cooperated extensively with U.N. investigators. "The government of Pakistan has adequately investigated allegations of nuclear proliferation by A.Q. Khan and shared the information with IAEA," Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said yesterday. "It considers the A.Q. Khan affair to be over."

A CIA official, informed of the essential details of Albright's report, said the agency would not comment because of the extreme diplomatic and security sensitivities of the matter. In his 2007 memoir, former CIA director George Tenet acknowledged the agency's extensive involvement in tracking the Khan network over more than a decade.

Albright, a former IAEA inspector in Iraq, has published detailed analyses of the nuclear programs of numerous states, including Iran and North Korea. His institute was the first to publicly identify the location of an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israeli warplanes last September.

A design for a compact, missile-ready nuclear weapon could help an aspiring nuclear power overcome a major technical hurdle and vastly increase its options for delivery of a nuclear explosive. Such a design could theoretically help North Korea -- which detonated a nuclear device in a 2006 test -- to couple a nuclear warhead with its Nodong missile, which has a proven range of 1,300 kilometers (about 800 miles).

Iran also possesses medium-range ballistic missiles and is believed by U.S. government officials to be seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons in the future, although an assessment late last year by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iran had discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Weapons experts have long puzzled over whether Tehran might have previously acquired a weapons design from the Khan network, which sold the Iranian government numerous other nuclear-related items, including designs for uranium-enrichment equipment.

The computers that contained the drawings were owned by three members of the Tinner family -- brothers Marco and Urs and their father, Friedrich -- all Swiss businessmen who have been identified by U.S. and IAEA officials as key participants in Khan's nuclear black market. The smuggling ring operated from the mid-1980s until 2003, when it was exposed after a years-long probe by the U.S. and British intelligence agencies.

Khan, who apologized for his role in the smuggling network in a 2004 speech broadcast in Pakistan, was officially pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf without being formally charged with crimes. The Tinner brothers are in Swiss prisons awaiting trial on charges related to their alleged involvement in the network. They and their father are the focus of an ongoing probe by Swiss authorities, who discovered the blueprints while exploring the heavily encrypted contents of the Tinners' computers, the report said. Several published reports have asserted that Urs Tinner became an informant for U.S. intelligence before the breakup of the smuggling ring, but that has not been officially confirmed.

Switzerland shared the finding with the IAEA as well as the United States, which asked for copies of the blueprints, the report states. The IAEA has acknowledged that it oversaw the destruction of nuclear-design material by Swiss authorities in November 2007. However, IAEA officials would neither confirm nor deny the existence of a second weapons design or comment on Albright's report.

Albright, citing information provided by IAEA investigators, said the designs were similar to that of a nuclear device built by Pakistan. He contends in the report that IAEA officials confronted Pakistan's government shortly after the discovery, adding that the private reaction of government officials was astonishment. The Pakistanis "were genuinely shocked; Khan may have transferred his own country's most secret and dangerous information to foreign smugglers so that they could sell it for a profit," Albright said, relating a description of the encounter given to him by IAEA officials.

Pakistan has previously denied that Khan stole the country's weapons plans. Musharraf has not allowed IAEA experts to interview Khan, an engineer who is regarded as a national hero for his role in establishing Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Khan, in interviews last month with The Post and several other publications, asserted that the allegations of nuclear smuggling were false.

Albright said it remains critical that investigators press Khan and others for details about how the blueprints were obtained and who might have them. Because the plans were stored electronically, they may have been copied many times, he said.
30180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Sharansky- Democracies can't compromise on core values on: June 16, 2008, 09:16:45 AM
Democracies Can't Compromise on Core Values
June 16, 2008

As the American president embarked on his farewell tour of Europe last week, Der Spiegel, echoing the sentiments of a number of leading newspapers on the Continent, pronounced "Europe happy to see the back of Bush." Virtually everyone seems to believe that George W. Bush's tenure has undermined trans-Atlantic ties.

There is also a palpable sense in Europe that America will move closer to Europe in the years ahead, especially if Barack Obama wins the presidential election.

But while Mr. Bush is widely seen by Europeans as a religious cowboy with a Manichean view on the world, Europe's growing rift with America predates the current occupant of the White House. When a French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, declared that his country "cannot accept a politically unipolar world, nor a culturally uniform world, nor the unilateralism of a single hyper power," President Clinton was in the seventh year of his presidency and Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas.

The trans-Atlantic rift is not the function of one president, but the product of deep ideological forces that for generations have worked to shape the divergent views of Americans and Europeans. Foremost among these are different attitudes toward identity in general, and the relationship between identity and democracy in particular.

To Europeans, identity and democracy are locked in a zero-sum struggle. Strong identities, especially religious or national identities, are seen as a threat to democratic life. This is what Dominique Moisi, a special adviser at the French Institute of International Relations, meant when he said in 2006 that "the combination of religion and nationalism in America is frightening. We feel betrayed by God and by nationalism, which is why we are building the European Union as a barrier to religious warfare."

This attitude can be traced back to the French Revolution, when the forces fighting under a universal banner of "liberty, equality and fraternity" were pitted against the Church.

In contrast, the America to which pilgrims flocked in search of religious freedom, and whose revolution amounted to an assertion of national identity, has been able to reconcile identity and freedom in a way no country has been able to match. That acute observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, long ago noted the "intimate union of the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty" that was pervasive in America and made it so different than his native France.

The idea that strong identities are an inherent threat to democracy and peace became further entrenched in Europe in the wake of World War II. Exponents of what I call postidentity theories – postnationalism, postmodernism and multiculturalism – argued that only by shedding the particular identities that divide us could we build a peaceful world. Supranational institutions such as the EU, the International Court of Justice and the United Nations were supposed to help overcome the prejudices of the past and forge a harmonious world based on universal values and human rights.

While these ideas have penetrated academia and elite thinking in the U.S., they remain at odds with the views of most Americans, who see no inherent contradiction between maintaining strong identities and the demands of democratic life. On the contrary, the right to express one's identity is seen as fundamental. Exercising such a right is regarded as acting in the best American tradition.

The controversy over whether Muslims should be able to wear a veil in public schools underscores the profound difference in attitudes between America and Europe. In Europe, large majorities support a law banning the veil in public schools. In the U.S., students wear the veil in public schools or state colleges largely without controversy.

At the same time severe limits are placed on the harmless expression of identity in the public square, some European governments refuse to insist that Muslim minorities abide by basic democratic norms. They turn a blind eye toward underage marriage, genital mutilation and honor killings.

The reality is that Muslim identity has grown stronger, has become more fundamentalist, and is increasingly contemptuous of a vapid "European" identity that has little vitality. All this may help explain why studies consistently show that efforts to integrate Muslims into society are much less effective in Europe than in America, where identity is much stronger.

Regardless of who wins in November, the attitudes of Americans toward the role of identity in democratic life are unlikely to change much. Relative to Europe, Americans will surely remain deeply patriotic and much more committed to their faiths.

Europeans, meanwhile, may move closer to the Americans in their views. The recent shift to the right in Europe – from the victory of conservative leaders like Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi to the surprise defeat of the leftist mayor of London, Ken Livingston – might partially reflect a belated awareness there that a unique heritage is under assault by a growing Muslim fundamentalism.

The logic of the struggle against this fundamentalist threat will inevitably demand the reassertion of the European national and religious identities that are now threatened.

Europeans are now saying goodbye to Mr. Bush, and hoping for the election of an American president who they believe shares their sophisticated postnational, postmodern and multicultural attitudes. But don't be surprised if, in the years ahead, European leaders, in order to protect freedom and democracy at home, start sounding more and more like the straight-shooting cowboy from abroad they now love to hate.

Mr. Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident, is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He is the author, most recently, of "Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy" (PublicAffairs).

See all of today's editorials and op
30181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: New Evidence on: June 16, 2008, 09:13:22 AM
New Evidence on Government and Growth
June 16, 2008

In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan embraced the ideas of a small group of economists dubbed "supply-siders." They argued that lower taxes and slimmer government would stimulate growth, enterprise, harder work and higher levels of saving and investment. These views were widely ridiculed at the time, dismissed as "voodoo economics."

Barbara Kelley 
Reagan did succeed in lowering some taxes. But a Democrat-controlled Congress weakened their impact by raising government spending sharply, resulting in large budget deficits.

A quarter of a century later, many more countries have cut taxes and reined in heavy-handed government intervention. How far have they gone down this path, and with what success?

My study, "Big, Not Better?" (Centre for Policy Studies, 2008), looks at the performance of 20 countries over the past two decades. The first 10 have slimmer governments with revenue and expenditure levels below 40% of GDP. This group includes Australia, Canada, Estonia, Hong Kong, Ireland, South Korea, Latvia, Singapore, the Slovak Republic and the U.S.

I compared their records to the 10 higher-taxed, bigger-government economies: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Both groups cover a representative range of large, medium and small economies measured by their gross national incomes. The average incomes per capita of the two groups are similar ($27,046 and $30,426 respectively in 2005).

Most governments have reduced their top tax rates and spending-to-GDP ratios over the last decade or so, according to data published by the OECD, IMF and World Bank. But slimmer governments have done so at a faster pace, and to significantly lower levels. Their highest tax rate on personal income fell to a group average of 30% in 2006 from 36% in 1996. Top corporate rates were lowered to an average of 22% from 30%. Their average ratio of total government outlays to GDP fell to 31.6% in 2007, from an average peak level during the previous two decades of 40.4%

Investment growth jumped to an average annual rate of 5.9% in 2000-2005, from 3.8% over the previous decade. Exports have risen by 6.3% annually since 2000. The net result was a surge in economic growth. The IMF reports that GDP soared in the slimmer-government group at a 5.4% average annual rate from 1999-2008 (including its forecast for the current year), up from a 4.6% rate over the previous decade.

Over that same period, the bigger-government group was more timid in its tax reductions. Their highest individual rates declined to an average of 45% from 49%, and corporate rates to 29% from 35%. Furthermore, their average spending-to-GDP ratio only fell to 48.3% from a peak of 55.2%.

The bigger-government group therefore failed to gain any competitive advantages in global markets by generating or attracting larger investment funds. Their investment growth slowed to an average annual rate of 0.8% in 2000-2005, from 4.1% in 1990-2000. Their export growth rate almost halved to 3.1% annually in 2000-2005, down from 6.1% in 1990-2000. The bottom line is a drop in their average annual GDP growth rate to 2.1% in 1999-2008, from 2.3% over the previous decade.

Nor did they balance their books. They ran budgetary deficits averaging 1.1% of GDP in 2006, whereas slimmer governments generated an average surplus of 0.3% of GDP. Their net government debt averaged 39.2% of GDP in 2006, more than four times higher than the latter's. Interest payments on their debt took 2.3% of their GDP, compared with an average of just 0.5% in the slimmer-government group.

Slimmer-government countries also delivered more rapid social progress in some areas. They have, on average, higher annual employment growth rates (1.7% compared to 0.9% from 1995-2005). Their youth unemployment rates have been lower for both males and females since 2000. The discretionary income of households rose faster in the first group. This allowed their real consumption to increase by 4.1% annually from 2000-2005, up from 2.8% in 1990-2000. In the bigger-government group, the growth of household consumption has slowed to a 1.3% average annual rate, from 2.1% during the 1990-2000 period.

Faster economic growth in the first group also generated a more rapid increase in government revenue, despite (or rather, because of, supply-siders suggest) lower overall tax burdens.

Slimmer-government countries seem to have made better use of their smaller health resources. Total spending on health programs reached 9.5% of GDP in the bigger government group in 2004, 1.6 percentage points above the average in the slimmer-government group. Yet slimmer-government countries have raised their average life expectancy at birth at a faster pacer since 1990, reaching an average level of 78 years in 2005, just one year below the average for bigger spenders. Average life expectancy is now 80 years in Singapore, although government and private health programs combined cost only 3.7% of its GDP.

Finally, spending by bigger governments on social benefits (such as unemployment and disability benefits, housing allowances and state pensions) was higher (20.3% of GDP in 2006) than that of slimmer governments (9.6%). But these transfers do not appear to have resulted in greater equality in the distribution of income. The Gini index measuring income distribution is similar for both groups.

Other forces clearly helped to narrow income disparities in slimmer-government economies. These forces include wage-setting practices, saving habits, the availability of employer-funded pension schemes, and income sharing among extended families.

Both groups reduced the share of defense spending in GDP over the past decade. The slimmer-government average fell 0.1 points to 2.2% in 2005, but this level was 0.5 percentage points above the bigger-government average. The average share of armed forces personnel in the total labor force in the bigger-government group fell to 1.1% from 1.5% in 1995, whereas it grew to 1.7% from 1.5% in the slimmer-government group.

Information on public order and safety expenditures is incomplete. But for the 11 countries for which data are available, slimmer governments seem to take their responsibilities more seriously. They spent an average of 1.8% of GDP on these functions in 2006, compared with 1.5% by bigger governments.

The early supply-siders were right. My findings firmly reject the widely held view that lower taxes inevitably result in cuts in public services, slower growth and widening income inequalities. Today's policy makers should take note of how tax cuts and the pruning of inefficient government programs can stimulate sluggish economies.

Mr. Marsden, a fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies in London, was previously an adviser at the World Bank and senior economist in the International Labour Organization.

30182  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: A Father's Question on: June 16, 2008, 09:03:18 AM
"I am reflecting on the day as I write this and I apologize for waxing away here."

Actually, to my sense of things this is a perfect thread to do exactly that and I for one am glad that you have done so and hope that others will do so as well.
30183  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Relaxed vs. Prepared on: June 16, 2008, 08:58:33 AM
Woof David:

May I ask where/in what kind of area do you live?
30184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 15, 2008, 07:43:31 PM
"I'm not sure what the answer is to your concerns. , , , We live in a technology driven society, why should law enforcement not use technology commonly in use in other areas of the public and private sector? Do you avoid Las Vegas casinos because of the surveillance technology? I assure you the private security entities in the average strip casino use technology outside the wildest dreams of most anyone in law enforcement. Why is state of the art video and pattern recognition software good in the Bellagio and lowest bidder, outdated tech in the hands of cops have us on the cusp of 1984?"

Actually I don't go to Vegas-- it is a voluntary tax upon the mathematically impaired  cheesy 

A big part of what concerns me with all this is not where we are, but where we are going.  The logic you use and the technology coming down the pike combine to something that can pretty much keep track of where we go and what we do.  Amongst various negatives, this make really deter anyone with a colorful, adventurous life, or simply a sense of privacy, from wanting to go into politics or take on governmental misdeeds.
30185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 15, 2008, 07:35:38 PM

You are clearly a bright gal, so I will deny myself the cheap shot about reading comprehension and suggest you read this again:


Apparently from his diaries Regan believed The French was going to save Israel which is about as intelligent as saying ketchup is a vegetable.

“Sun. June 7 • Got word of Israeli bombing of Iraq—nuclear reactor. I swear I believe Armageddon is near.
Returned to W.H. at 3 p.m. More word on bombing. P.M. Begin informed us after the fact.
Tues. June 9 • Ended day with an N.S.C. meeting re the bombing of Iraq. P.M. Begin insists the plant was preparing to produce nuclear weapons for use on Israel. If he waited 'til the French shipment of "hot" uranium arrived he couldn't order the bombing because of the radiation that would be loosed over Baghdad.


The point is that delay would have meant that the French shipment TO SH/IRAQ would have taken place, thus making for a lot of collateral damage via radiation.

BTW, the French minister responsible for the nuke program with SH was one Jacques Chirac.
30186  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Piracy, Youtube, renting, etc on: June 15, 2008, 07:23:50 PM
Woof All:

Like we say at the beginning of our DVDs, we do our best to give you full value and to treat us fairly and ask the same of you.  The purpose of this thread is to ask any and all of you to let us know at if someone is posting our material on youtube, renting it, etc.

Thank you,
Crafty Dog
30187  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Canton OH 7/12-13 on: June 15, 2008, 01:30:46 PM
The University of Akron Presents

Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny
Head Instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts.


-interface of gun, knife and empty hand
-interactions under ten to six feet or less
for more information go to

Place: Canton Police Academy
1430 Cherry Rd SE Canton Oh.

When: July 12th and 13th

Cost for the two day seminar $150.00

To register contact Dave Clouse at 330-418-7759
or e-mail at 
30188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 15, 2008, 11:39:11 AM
And how much worse would it have been had they had them?

GM, you continue to give good examples of how these technologies can be used to the good, but for me the profound concern raises when the State thinks to use them for control and oppression , , , AND for there is something viscerally creepy about having your everymove watched and recorded.
30189  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Fitness on DVD ? on: June 15, 2008, 11:26:46 AM
Woof Yomitche:

There are some reviews at


If anyone knows of any clips of this anywhere, please let us know for they are not authorized.

Thank you!

30190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yon: on: June 14, 2008, 11:38:16 PM
The trend lines are clear. Iraq war seems to be winding-down. At this rate it is entirely conceivable that at the end of 2008 we will be able to say, in good conscience, that the Iraq war has ended.

Of course this is speculation.

Grabbing headlines today is the news that Australia is drawing down it’s forces from Iraq. The Australian military is comprised of some of the finest soldiers in the world. Yet the Australian government’s commitment to the war in Iraq has been militarily insignificant. The loss of the Australian military contingent is strategically irrelevant.

I’m in constant communications with forces on the ground in Iraq. al-Qaeda continues to be hammered into the dirt. The Iraq Army has demonstrated great competence in Sadr City. They are at the fore front of destroying al-Qaeda in Nineveh province.

Washington Post reports growing success in Basra by the Iraq security forces. Violence in Iraq is reaching an all time low, perhaps lower than at anytime in several decades. But make no mistake Iraq and it’s people have been ravaged by decades of war. Finally they are getting their chance at freedom thanks to the sacrifice of the men and women who have set them free from tyrants. With any luck, on my next trip to Iraq I will see little to no combat.

There are several new dispatches on the website. Free copies of Moment of Truth in Iraq are available with a one year subscription to Town Hall Magazine.



30191  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife for Self Defense on: June 14, 2008, 11:30:26 PM
Maija and/or anyone:

"I think it is an interesting balance you talk about between expecting danger at any moment, and not thinking it will ever happen .... how do you live a relaxed and happy life and at the same time keep prepared for the unexpected?"

This is a profound question; IMHO worthy of its own thread.  If anyone feels like kicking it off please have at it.

30192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Fair Enough? on: June 14, 2008, 06:54:37 AM
Fair Enough?
Barack Obama's Rise Has Americans Debating
Whether Affirmative Action Has Run Its Course
June 14, 2008

WARREN, Mich. -- Stan Sheyn, a white student who attends community college in this working-class Detroit suburb, supports Barack Obama for president. But he has no time for what he calls "double standards and propagation of victim mentality."

"The fact that a black man can run for the position of the President of the United States of America only corroborates that there is enough opportunity and equality for great things like that to happen," he says. "And that there is no need to create special advantages for any demographic group."


U.S. perceptions of race have changed considerably over the last half century. As a result, do you think race is over-emphasized or under-emphasized in the U.S. today? Do we still look closely at another person's race, or are we in an age where race matters less than it once did? And do you think affirmative action should continue to have a future in the U.S.? Share your thoughts.Electra Fulbright, a black small-business consultant in prosperous Southfield, Mich., couldn't disagree more.

"Obama's privileges and his accomplishments are minute compared to the black population at large," says Ms. Fulbright, who plans to vote for Sen. Obama. "When we talk about Obama, we are not talking about the average black American. There is injustice in this country, and until we correct it, we need affirmative action."

Few issues have been as incendiary in the workplace and on college campuses as affirmative action -- in large part because so many blacks and whites have been personally affected by affirmative action, in ways both good and bad.

Now, Sen. Obama's rise is prompting some whites to ask -- and some blacks to fear -- the question: Does America still need affirmative action, given that an African-American has made it to the top of American politics?

The question has been asked before, as other blacks have risen to high positions. But Sen. Obama's swift ascent to the verge of the presidency may have created a turning point in the debate.

Associated Press 
Affirmative action has stirred controversy for decades, including this 2002 protest.
The issue of affirmative action is likely to dog Sen. Obama on the campaign trail as he seeks to win over white blue-collar voters in battleground states like Michigan. For many of these voters, affirmative action has been divisive since the 1970s. Ward Connerly, a prominent affirmative-action opponent, is seeking to place anti-affirmative action referendums on the ballot in Arizona, Nebraska and Colorado. Voters would be asked to ban "preferential treatment" of women and minorities in state university admissions, the filling of state-funded jobs and awarding of state contracts.

Favoring the Middle Class

White anger over affirmative action has diminished as the Supreme Court has systematically narrowed the scope of programs in colleges and the workplace. Still, the gap between black and white opinion remains wide.

More than half of blacks -- 57% -- say the country should make "every effort to improve the position of blacks and minorities, even if it means giving preferential treatment," according to a poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan Washington think tank that studies social attitudes. Just 27% of whites agree with that view. The same poll shows that nearly half of whites -- 48% -- believe the U.S. has "gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country." Far fewer African Americans -- 27% -- agree.

Opinions about affirmative action vary depending on how researchers word their questions; support tends to grow, for example, when the question describes the programs in more detail. But the Gallup polling firm says that regardless of the wording, all of its surveys on affirmative action show blacks overwhelmingly support it, while whites tend to be much more divided.

Sen. Obama's success has also stirred an uncomfortable debate within the black community over who has reaped the gains of affirmative action. Some argue the policies skew toward middle-class blacks instead of poor blacks, and have favored too many individuals like Sen. Obama -- people with a biracial background or the children of African and Caribbean immigrants, as opposed to blacks born in the U.S.

In a 2000 interview with the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Sen. Obama, then an Illinois state senator, said: "I have no way of knowing if I was a beneficiary of affirmative action either in my admission to Harvard or my initial election to the [Harvard Law] Review. If I was, then I am certainly not ashamed of the fact, for I would argue that affirmative action is important precisely because those who benefit typically rise to the challenge when given an opportunity."

Sen. Obama's newfound prominence has also prompted some successful blacks to wonder whether his achievements, and theirs, mean affirmative action should be modified to help poor and working-class whites.

"You have this traditional assumption that whites have made it and have it all -- that 'because I am black, I am disadvantaged,' and 'because I am white, I am advantaged,' " says Rev. Carlyle Stewart, who holds degrees from the University of Chicago and Northwestern and heads a large middle-class black church in Southfield, a short drive from Warren. "It may be time to broaden that discussion."

Sen. Obama "believes that no one can deny that our country has made tremendous progress in the past 50 years," said campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor in a statement. "But the suggestion that somehow Senator Obama's campaign represents an easy shortcut to racial reconciliation is just not realistic." He said Sen. Obama believes "affirmative action in universities today is appropriate only if race is one of many factors. The Supreme Court has made that clear."

Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain opposes "affirmative action plans and quotas that give weight to one group of Americans at the expense of another," says McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "Plans that result in quotas, where such plans have not been judicially created to remedy a specific, proven act of discrimination, only result in more discrimination and violate the concept of equality of opportunity."

Early Challenges

Affirmative action began in 1961, when President Kennedy issued an executive order declaring that federal contractors should "take affirmative action" to integrate their work forces.

The initiative broadened to include policies that favored women and minorities in hiring and promotion at work and in college admissions, the goal being to overcome past discrimination.

Many whites charged that this amounted to "reverse discrimination." In the landmark Bakke case of 1978, the Supreme Court narrowed the definition of affirmative action, declaring unconstitutional the use of some rigid quota systems. But it upheld the principle of affirmative action.

In 2003, a more-conservative Supreme Court again upheld the principle of affirmative action, but narrowed the interpretation still further, adding in a majority opinion, "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary." Opponents of affirmative action recently filed another suit challenging affirmative action in Texas.

Many economists and sociologists agree that affirmative-action programs have helped spur the growth of the black middle and upper classes, defined as households making more than $40,000 a year. Today, this group accounts for about 40% of black households, up from about 25% in 1970, according to U.S. Census figures. During that same period, the percentage of white households in the middle class and above has risen to about 60%, from just under 50%.

Affirmative action policies have helped blacks gain access to large corporations and top universities, studies have shown, and the presence of blacks in these places has encouraged others to follow. The number of African Americans at the country's top 50 colleges and universities has doubled in recent decades, according to Harry Holzer, a Georgetown University economist. Women have benefited, too, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, when they began breaking into traditionally male-dominated fields.

A Leg Up for Whites

Michigan's Macomb County is home to many of the fabled "Reagan Democrats," the conservative working-class whites who left the Democratic Party largely over social issues including race in the 1980s. Here, life has been changed by affirmative action and the rise of the black middle class. In the past five years, the African-American population has doubled to about 6% from about 3%, in part as blacks have left Detroit for safer suburbs with better schools.


Associated Press 
Allan Bakke graduates from the U.C. Davis medical school after a Supreme Court ruling granted him admission in 1978

Key Events Involving Affirmative Action:
1961: President John F. Kennedy signs an executive order that instructs federal contractors to take 'affirmative action' to ensure against discrimination
1964: Civil Rights Act prohibits race-based discrimination by large employers. The Act forms the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a driving force in affirmative-action policies
1965: President Lyndon B. Johnson issues an order requiring federal contractors to expand job opportunities for minorities
1971: President Richard M. Nixon issues an executive order directing federal agencies to develop specific program goals for national Minority Business Enterprise contracting program
1978: The Supreme Court rules in favor of a white man who was denied admission to medical school. The opinion upholds the use of race in choosing among qualified applicants but rules that inflexible quotas are unconstitutional
1986: The Supreme Court upholds a judicially ordered 29% minority 'membership admission goal' for a union that had intentionally discriminated against minorities
1995: President Bill Clinton asserts that affirmative action is still needed but calls for elimination of any federal program that creates quotasSuch changes make some whites here wonder why affirmative action is needed at all. "If blacks are living in the same houses that I am living in, and they can afford the same things I can afford, why shouldn't I have the same breaks as they do?" says Tony Licata, a professional photographer in Macomb County who is white and says he is leaning toward voting for Sen. McCain.

"Race should not be the deciding point about who gets what," says Jessalin Horne, a white working-class college student who plans to vote for Sen. Obama in the fall.

In conversations, many white blue-collar and middle-class workers in Macomb County said they blame competition from China, India and elsewhere for their job losses, not competition from blacks. But the economic battering that many poor and working-class whites have taken as Michigan's auto industry has shrunk makes some whites feel that it's their turn for a leg up.

"I have been a supporter of affirmative action, but it needs to be refocused -- other groups need to be included," says Marceia Lugo, a divorced white mother of three whose mother and ex-husband have left Michigan to look for work. Ms. Lugo says she backed Sen. Clinton but will now vote for Sen. Obama. "I am not black, so I don't know those issues. But I have been poor, and I have had to struggle, so I should get special treatment."

Wooed by Elite Colleges

A half-hour drive from Warren lies Southfield, Mich., a leafy, integrated middle-class and upper-middle-class suburb that is a testament to the impact of affirmative action. Barbara Talley, now a retired financial analyst and a Southfield resident, became one of the first black owners of a KFC franchise in the 1980s, after Rev. Jesse Jackson lobbied the company to sell more franchises to African Americans. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Southfield's black school superintendent, has been the first black in several teaching and administrative positions at area schools. "That wouldn't have happened without affirmative action," says Ms. Cook-Robinson.

Many blacks here don't want to lose the boost that they say affirmative action gives them. Stephen Kemp, a successful black funeral director in Southfield, sends his son to a $24,000-a-year private high school. His son, a junior, has been receiving letters from elite colleges wooing him to apply. "When they look at his application they see he is an African-American male -- he has so much opportunity," says Mr. Kemp, who himself attended the University of Michigan. "Brown called him yesterday."

Associated Press 
President Lyndon B. Johnson turns to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the signing of the Civil Rights Act
Mr. Kemp thinks it is fine that his son gets special attention, because diversity on campus benefits whites as well as blacks. "If you are getting a true education, that has to reflect all kinds of people," he says.

The election, especially Sen. Obama's success in winning white voters, has Mary Donaldson thinking that affirmative action is likely to fade away in coming years as the country continues to change. "My son is 9 years old. Just because he is black, he can't think he's going to get special treatment," says Ms. Donaldson, who works at a pre-school in Southfield and supports Sen. Obama. "I don't want him to totally depend on something like that."

Twyla Griffin, who works for a health-care company and attends church in Southfield, says she thinks bias lives on. "It's fear -- 'this black boy is going to take my little white Johnny's job,' " says Ms. Griffin. Affirmative action, she says, simply levels a still-tilted playing field.

"It would be great if Obama made all the decisions for us, but there are a lot of people who still have decision-making power who are still a little prejudiced," says Marilyn Hobbs, an intellectual-property manager who supports Sen. Obama

James Jackson, a black banker and another Obama supporter, nods in agreement. He says he doesn't put his photograph on his business card like many of his white colleagues, because he thinks it will discourage white customers. "Race is a real issue still, no matter what happens in November," he says.

Write to Jonathan Kaufman at
30193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Don't tell the teacher unions on: June 14, 2008, 06:50:32 AM
Amazing Teacher Facts
June 14, 2008
This month 3,700 recent college grads will begin Teach for America's five-week boot camp, before heading off for two-year stints at the nation's worst public schools. These young men and women were chosen from almost 25,000 applicants, hailing from our most selective colleges. Eleven per cent of Yale's senior class, 9% of Harvard's and 10% of Georgetown's applied for a job whose salary ranges from $25,000 (in rural South Dakota) to $44,000 (in New York City).

Hang on a second.

Unions keep saying the best people won't go into teaching unless we pay them what doctors and lawyers and CEOs make. Not only are Teach for America salaries significantly lower than what J.P. Morgan might offer, but these individuals go to some very rough classrooms. What's going on?

It seems that Teach for America offers smart young people something even better than money – the chance to avoid the vast education bureaucracy. Participants need only pass academic muster and attend the summer training before entering a classroom. If they took the traditional route into teaching, they would have to endure years of "education" courses to be certified.

The American Federation of Teachers commonly derides Teach for America as a "band-aid." One of its arguments is that the program only lasts two years, barely enough time, they say, to get a handle on managing a classroom. However, it turns out that two-thirds of its grads stay in the education field, sometimes as teachers, but also as principals or policy makers.

More importantly, it doesn't matter that they are only in the classroom a short time, at least according to a recent Urban Institute study. Here's the gist: "On average, high school students taught by TFA corps members performed significantly better on state-required end-of-course exams, especially in math and science, than peers taught by far more experienced instructors. The TFA teachers' effect on student achievement in core classroom subjects was nearly three times the effect of teachers with three or more years of experience."

Jane Hannaway, one of the study's co-authors, says Teach for America participants may be more motivated than their traditional teacher peers. Second, they may receive better support during their experience. But, above all, Teach for America volunteers tend to have much better academic qualifications. They come from more competitive schools and they know more about the subjects they teach. Ms. Hannaway notes, "Students are better off being exposed to teachers with a high level of skill."

The strong performance in math and science seems to confirm that the more specialized the knowledge, the more important it is that teachers be well versed in it. (Imagine that.) No amount of time in front of a classroom will make you understand advanced algebra better.

Teach for America was pleased, but not exactly shocked, by these results. "We have always been a data-driven organization," says spokesman Amy Rabinowitz. "We have a selection model we've refined over the years." The organization figures out which teachers have been most successful in improving student performance and then seeks applicants with similar qualities. "It's mostly a record of high academic achievement and leadership in extracurricular activities."

Sounds like the way the private sector hires. Don't tell the teachers unions.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
30194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Counterinsurgency on: June 13, 2008, 10:19:24 PM
Our troops have been ridden hard by President Bush and former Secretary of Def Rumbo.  IMHO one of the greatest failures of President Bush was his failure to increase our military back in 2003-2004 when it would have been much more easy to do so than now and when much sadness could have been avoided.  This piece calls for longer tours-- an even greater hardship on the troops involved.  I have no idea whether to ask this of them is fair, but this article raises what seems to me to be questions worthy of consideration.


In War Too, Personnel Is Policy
June 14, 2008

As it becomes clear that the surge in Iraq is working – and with the Marines in southern Afghanistan succeeding where the British spent two years in a stalemate – we should beware of the temptation to congratulate ourselves on getting counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine right. In following a well-planned and executed counterinsurgency in Khost Province, Afghanistan, from summer 2007 to the present, I've seen that doctrine is not enough.

There are recognized best practices, such as living among the people and separating them from the insurgency. But in the societies where an army is likely to be fighting an insurgency – tribal, badly governed, poorly educated, and where politics is overwhelmingly personal – the role of commanders' personalities may be larger than we want to acknowledge.

Experience – and the intuition it brings – may be as valuable as doctrine. The long tours of duty that the U.S. Army has been mandating in Iraq and Afghanistan are thus an excellent idea – at least for our fight against terror, if not for military families.

On three embeds – in July and November 2007 and March 2008 – I saw the American military adopting best-practice COIN strategies. The troops in question were the 619 paratroopers of the second battalion of the 321st regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. They spent most of a 15-month deployment in Khost, and all but two returned home.

As a result of their efforts, this million-population, San Francisco Bay-sized border province became known as the "model province" among the 14 under American command.

But the real secret was the decision of Khost maneuver commander Lt. Col Scottie D. Custer to move his men off the big base at Salerno, and to live, platoon by platoon, in eight Force Protection Centers around the province, providing security to the people. Also playing key roles were Arsala Jamal, Khost's efficient 43-year-old governor, and Navy Cmdr. David Adams, an unusually gifted Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) commander.

"Key to our counterinsurgency success in Khost was that projects went hand-in-hand with our presence in the districts," Cmdr. Adams explains. "We would respond to every attack with a new project ceremony in order to point out that the Afghan government and coalition were partnering to rebuild the country, while the enemy was just blowing things up. It seemed after a while the insurgents got tired of competing because the tribes were clearly on our side."

As a result, 11 of Khost's 12 districts supported the Afghan government by the end of the battalion's deployment. (The two paratroopers who were killed died in the 12th district, Sabari.) In later 2007 and early 2008, a greater number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were being called in before they could explode. Khostis were engaging with local government in increasing numbers. A network of asphalt roads crisscrossed Khost, 50 schools were built by the American military and 12,000 jobs added to the economy.

In April 2008, the 82nd Airborne troops in Khost went home. They were replaced by soldiers from the 101st Airborne. At the same time, Gov. Jamal went to Canada to see his family.

Suddenly, the successful COIN program in Khost began to show signs of strain. Within two months, five American troops and one military civilian died in IED and vehicle-born IED attacks in Sabari. A new type of IED began to appear, essentially 20 pounds of explosives in a plastic bucket. Without any metal elements, it can't be detected by mine sweepers.

A young officer of the 101st serving in Khost explained to me that these "command-pull" IEDs "are accurate, and can be targeted against any vehicle in an element. Sure, the attacker exposes himself during the attack, but if you are 300 meters away and can immediately drive off, there's little threat."

This same officer emailed me that two months after the arrival of the 101st, no area of Khost was secure from IEDs anymore, the Taliban was gaining political support, and the people's cooperation with the government was deteriorating in Gov. Jamal's absence.

A more senior officer who served in Khost confided that the success there was at least in part "a perfect storm" created by personality, the fruit of the collaboration of Gov. Jamal with the brilliant and personable Lt. Col. Custer and Cmdr. David Adams. These men left and were replaced by commanders still at the beginning of their learning curve.

As Lt. Col. Custer put it, "despite the best COIN pre-deployment training in the world, it took me 90 to 120 days to understand the battlefield environment, personalities, and gain trust with the Afghan officials. It is only at this point does the ground maneuver commander become effective."

The original genius of COIN theory, the Tunisian-French pied-noir colonel David Galula, touches on this problem in the last pages of his masterpiece, "Pacification in Algeria. 1956-1958."

Galula's big idea was simple: Place small numbers of the 100 soldiers under his command in isolated villages, living among the populace. Galula's men supervised and funded the building of the area's first schools, latrines, garbage pits and street cleaning in their villages. According to Galula, the very fact that he could disperse his company so much was proof of success.

Galula realized that the objective wasn't to kill terrorists so much as to create an environment in the civilian population where they could not find support. This idea – which was eventually adopted by the entire French Army in Algeria – is the kernel of all subsequent COIN theory.

"There were no sharp edges to Galula," recalls defense expert Stephen Hosmer. "He was charming." Just days after Galula finished his rotation in Kabilya, his successor was shot dead on an evening patrol. That officer's replacement was then assassinated after eight months in command.

Perhaps Galula's success stemmed as much from his extraordinary personality as from his innovative ideas. This implies that the U.S. should approach our counterinsurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan in the spirit of true conservatism – skeptical of grand claims, patient and aware that war is more art than science.

Ms. Marlowe is a New York-based writer. This year she completed her 10th trip to Afghanistan and her third embed with U.S. forces there.
30195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Charter school promotes Islam on: June 13, 2008, 10:14:05 PM
Charter Schools Shouldn't Promote Islam
June 14, 2008


At what point does a publicly funded charter school with strong Islamic ties cross the line and inappropriately promote religion?

That's a question now facing us in Minnesota. For the past five years, the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., has operated in close connection with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The school accepts public funds, and thus the broader constitutional requirements placed on all public schools. Nonetheless, in many ways it behaves like a religious school.

A teacher talks to her students at Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, Oct. 12, 2004.
The school is named for the Muslim general who conquered Spain in the eighth century. It shares a building with a mosque and the headquarters of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The cafeteria serves Halal food. Arabic is a required subject. There is a break for midday prayers.

On Fridays, many students join with Muslim teachers and attend religious services in the school's gym. There are voluntary Islamic Studies classes held "after" school, but before the buses leave to take the school's 400 students home. Most of the students are the children of low-income Muslim immigrants.

In March, substitute teacher Amanda Getz happened to be at the school on a Friday. She has said publicly that she was instructed to take her fifth-grade students to the bathroom for "ritual washing" and then to the gym for a prayer service. In the classroom where she assisted, an Islamic Studies assignment was written on the blackboard. Students were told to copy it into their planners. "That gave me the impression that Islamic Studies was a subject like any other," she said afterward.

Since starting the school five years ago, Asad Zaman and co-founder Hesham Hussein – both imams – have held top positions with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, and also with the school. The Muslim American Society, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, is the American branch of the international Muslim Brotherhood, "the world's most influential Islamic fundamentalist group."

Mr. Zaman is the school's principal, and Mr. Hussein was chairman of its governing board until he was killed in a car crash in Saudi Arabia in January. In 2004, Mr. Zaman told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that when students have family problems, he can call on a "network" of imams for help. "Children feel comfortable here asking questions about their own religion," a teacher told a reporter at the time.

If the school is promoting Islam, it would be in keeping with the mission of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. Last year, the society featured Shaykh Khalid Yasin at its annual convention. Mr. Yasin is well-known for preaching that husbands can beat disobedient wives, among other inflammatory messages. When he spoke at the society's convention, his topic was "Building a Successful Muslim Community in Minnesota." And until I wrote about the issue in my column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in March and April, the society also had "beneficial and enlightening information" about Islam on its Web site, including "Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr."

I've written just two columns critical of the school for the Star Tribune. But that was enough for State Rep. Mindy Greiling, the chairman of the Minnesota House of Representatives' K-12 Finance Committee, to publicly call for me to be fired from the newspaper.

After my columns appeared, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union began an investigation, which is still underway. The Minnesota Department of Education also investigated. Its report, released last month, concluded that the school is breaking the law by holding Friday religious services on school grounds; that it should stop Muslim teachers' practice of praying with students at that service; and that it must provide bus transportation home before Islamic Studies classes let out.

But the report was flawed in important respects. Most significantly, it was silent about the school's close entanglement with the religious organization with which it is affiliated.

It's a safe bet that if the school in question here were essentially a Catholic school, this wouldn't be a debate. Imagine a public charter located in the headquarters building of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Its principal is a priest and its board chairman is the archbishop. Catholic students there "are comfortable asking questions about their own religion." Latin is required, and the cafeteria serves fish during Lent. Students break for prayer and attend Mass during the school day, and buses leave only when after-school Catholic Catechism classes are over. Such a school would never open.

But with Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy we have something different. It's held up as a model, "religiously sensitive" public school. It is justified in terms of culture and "religious accommodation."

Minnesota education officials need both the backbone and the oversight tools necessary to prevent the blurring of lines between Islam and the public schools. If they continue their tepid response, a separate system of taxpayer-financed education for Muslims may take root here. Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy could be the first of many.

Ms. Kersten is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
30196  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / America's disappearing fathers on: June 13, 2008, 10:10:02 PM
The Tragedy of America's Disappearing Fathers
June 14, 2008

Walter Dean Myers, a best-selling author of books for teenagers, sometimes visits juvenile detention centers in his home state of New Jersey to hold writing workshops and listen for stories about the lives of young Americans.

One day, in a juvenile facility near his home in Jersey City, a 15-year-old black boy pulled him aside for a whispered question: Why did he write in "Somewhere in the Darkness" about a boy not meeting his father because the father was in jail? Mr. Myers, a 70-year-old black man, did not answer. He waited. And sure enough, the boy, eyes down, mumbled that he had yet to meet his own father, who was in jail.

As we celebrate Father's Day tomorrow, we should reflect upon a sad fact: It is now common to meet young people in our big city schools, foster-care homes and juvenile centers who do not know their dads. Most of those children have come face-to-face with their father at some point; but most have little regular contact with the man, or have any faith that he loves or cares about them.

When fatherless young people are encouraged to write about their lives, they tell heartbreaking stories about feeling like "throwaway people." In the privacy of the written page, their hard, emotional shells crack open to reveal the uncertainty that comes from not knowing if their father has any interest in them. The stories are like letters to unknown dads – some filled with imaginary scenes about what it might be like to have a dad who comes home and puts his arm around you or plays with you.

They feel like they've been thrown away, Mr. Myers says, because "they don't have a father to push them, discipline them, and they give up trying to succeed . . . they don't see themselves as wanted." A regular theme of their stories is that they feel safer in a foster care home or juvenile detention center than on the outside, because they have no father to hold together the family. There is no one at home.

The extent of the problem is clear. The nation's out-of-wedlock birth rate is 38%. Among white children, 28% are now born to a single mother; among Hispanic children it is 50% and reaches a chilling, disorienting peak of 71% for black children. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly a quarter of America's white children (22%) do not have any male in their homes; nearly a third (31%) of Hispanic children and over half of black children (56%) are fatherless.

This represents a dramatic shift in American life. In the early 1960s, only 2.3% of white children and 24% of black children were born to a single mom. Having a dad, in short, is now a privilege, a ticket to middle-class status on par with getting into a good college.

The odds increase for a child's success with the psychological and financial stability rooted in having two parents. Having two parents means there is a greater likelihood that someone will read to a child as a preschooler, support him through school, and prevent him from dropping out, as well as teaching him how to compete, win and lose and get up to try again, in academics, athletics and the arts. Maybe most important of all is that having a dad at home is almost a certain ticket out of poverty; because about 40% of single-mother families are in poverty.

"If you are concerned about reducing child poverty then you have to focus on missing fathers," says Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, based in Gaithersburg, Md. This organization works to encourage more men to be involved fathers.

The odds are higher that a child without a dad will have more contact with the drug culture, the police and jail. Even in kindergarten, children living with single parents are more likely to trail children with two parents when it comes to health, cognitive skills and their emotional maturity. They are in the back of the bus before the bus – their life – even gets going.

A study of black families 10 years ago, when the out-of-wedlock birthrate was not as high as today, found that single moms reported only 20% of the "baby's daddy" spent time with the child or took a "lot" of interest in the baby. That is quite a contrast to the married black mothers who told researchers that 88% of married black men, or men living with the mother, regularly spent time with the child and took responsibility for the child's well-being.

In his fictional books, Walter Dean Myers has found that the key to reaching young readers is to connect with their "internal life of insecurities and doubts." These doubts and insecurities involve answers to painful questions such as, "do you feel loved, do you ever feel lonely?" These are feelings that are hard to share with a teacher, a coach or even a friend.

More so today than in the past, reaching the heart of insecurity among young people means writing about the hurt of life without a dad. It also means writing about being young and black or brown in the midst of the flood of negative images in rap videos without a positive male role model. These young people see so many others just like them standing on street corners, unconnected to family life and failing at school and work and threatening violence – and in so many cases just like them, without an adult male to guide them.

When these children see Barack Obama, Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice, they tell Walter Dean Myers that those black people must be "special; they are not like me, they don't have the background that I have."

In his own life, Mr. Myers often looked down on the man in his house: his stepfather, who worked as a janitor and was illiterate. He felt this man had little to teach him.

Then his own son complained one day that he, Myers, "sounded just like granddad" when he told the boy to pick up after himself, to work harder and show respect to people.

"I didn't know it at the time," says Mr. Myers of his stepfather, "but just having him around meant I was picking up his discipline, his pride, his work ethic. . ." He adds: "Until I heard it from my son I never understood it."

Mr. Williams is a political analyst for National Public Radio and Fox News.
30197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 13, 2008, 06:42:45 PM
"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until the government makes it free."  PJ O" Rourke.
30198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What are your daily sources for News? on: June 13, 2008, 06:19:05 AM
Wall Street Journal/Opinion Journal/Political Diary
a skim of the NY Times email that comes in
various forums
an email group of some interesting people to which I belong
The Brit Hume Report (Fox)
readings sent by friends
30199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: President Kennedy on: June 13, 2008, 06:16:03 AM
President Kennedy
June 13, 2008; Page A14
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy isn't known for his judicial modesty. But for sheer willfulness, yesterday's 5-4 majority opinion in Boumediene v. Bush may earn him a historic place among the likes of Harry Blackmun. In a stroke, he and four other unelected Justices have declared their war-making supremacy over both Congress and the White House.

Boumediene concerns habeas corpus – the right of Americans to challenge detention by the government. Justice Kennedy has now extended that right to non-American enemy combatants captured abroad trying to kill Americans in the war on terror. We can say with confident horror that more Americans are likely to die as a result.

An Algerian native, Lakhdar Boumediene was detained by U.S. troops in Bosnia in January 2002 and is currently held at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. military heard the case for Boumediene's detention in 2004, and in the years since he has never appealed the finding that he is an enemy combatant, although he could under federal law. Instead, his lawyers asserted his "right" – as an alien held outside the United States – to a habeas hearing before a U.S. federal judge.

Justice Kennedy's opinion is remarkable in its sweeping disregard for the decisions of both political branches. In a pair of 2006 laws – the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act – Congress and the President had worked out painstaking and good-faith rules for handling enemy combatants during wartime. These rules came in response to previous Supreme Court decisions demanding such procedural care, and they are the most extensive ever granted to prisoners of war.

Yet as Justice Antonin Scalia notes in dissent, "Turns out" the same Justices "were just kidding." Mr. Kennedy now deems those efforts inadequate, based on only the most cursory analysis. As Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear in his dissent, the majority seems to dislike these procedures merely because a judge did not sanctify them. In their place, Justice Kennedy decrees that district court judges should derive their own ad hoc standards for judging habeas petitions. Make it up as you go!

Justice Kennedy declines even to consider what those standards should be, or how they would protect national security over classified information or the sources and methods that led to the detentions. Eventually, as the lower courts work their will amid endless litigation, perhaps President Kennedy will vouchsafe more details in some future case. In the meantime, the likelihood grows that our soldiers will prematurely release combatants who will kill more Americans.

To reach yesterday's decision, Justice Kennedy also had to dissemble about Justice Robert Jackson's famous 1950 decision in Johnson v. Eisentrager. In that case, German nationals had been tried and convicted by military commissions for providing aid to the Japanese after Germany's surrender in World War II. Justice Jackson ruled that non-Americans held in a prison in the American occupation zone in Germany did not warrant habeas corpus. But rather than overrule Eisentrager, Mr. Kennedy misinterprets it to pretend that it was based on mere "procedural" concerns. This is plainly dishonest.

By the logic of Boumediene, members of al Qaeda will now be able to challenge their status in court in a way that uniformed military officers of a legitimate army cannot. And Justice Scalia points out that this was not a right afforded even to the 400,000 prisoners of war detained on American soil during World War II. It is difficult to understand why any terrorist held anywhere in the world – whether at Camp Cropper in Iraq or Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan – won't now have the same right to have their appeals heard in an American court.

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution contains the so-called Suspension Clause, which says: "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Justice Kennedy makes much of the fact that we are not currently under "invasion or rebellion." But he ignores that these exceptions don't include war abroad because the Framers never contemplated that a non-citizen, captured overseas and held outside the U.S., could claim the same right.

Justice Kennedy's opinion is full of self-applause about his defense of the "great Writ," and no doubt it will be widely praised as a triumph for civil liberties. But we hope it is not a tragedy for civil liberties in the long run. If there is another attack on U.S. soil – perhaps one enabled by a terrorist released under the Kennedy rules – the public demand for security will trample the Constitutional delicacies of Boumediene. Just last month, a former Gitmo detainee killed a group of Iraqi soldiers when he blew himself up in Mosul. And he was someone the military thought it was safe to release.

Justice Jackson once famously observed that the Constitution is "not a suicide pact." About Anthony Kennedy's Constitution, we're not so sure.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
30200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: June 12, 2008, 10:05:36 PM
Sunnis to Baghdad
June 13, 2008
You can tell security is improving fast in Iraq because even some neighboring Arab countries are deciding to send envoys back to Baghdad. The United Arab Emirates announced plans last week to appoint an ambassador, and Bahrain and Jordan have since said they plan to do the same.

The Sunni-led Arab autocrats in the region have long been cool to Iraq's new government, not least because it is Shiite-led and democratically elected. In withdrawing their ambassadors, or staffing their embassies with junior-level diplomats since 2003, these countries could also point to security concerns. One of the insurgency's first car-bomb targets was the Jordanian embassy in August 2003, and terrorists later killed, wounded or kidnapped officials from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and the UAE.

But with violence markedly declining, the security justification is increasingly implausible. As UAE Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan recently explained, "the regional countries needed some time to understand the new Iraq, which has undergone a big change."

One Arab neighbor is notably absent from the list of returning Sunni nations. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal promised in September to open an embassy in Baghdad "soon," but the Saudis have made no visible progress. Numerous U.S. officials have asked the Saudis to do so, and last week Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker told us that he and General David Petraeus "spoke to the King [Abdullah] to stress the important changes in Iraq and the parallel importance of Arabs recognizing that change by re-establishing their diplomatic presence." The Saudis, Mr. Crocker added, expressed concern about Iranian influence in Baghdad, despite his argument that a Saudi presence would in that case be "a good antidote."

It's about time the Saudis began to play a role in Iraq other than as a recruiting ground for suicide bombers. The Wahhabis in Riyadh may not prefer a Shiite regime in Baghdad, but the government of Nouri al-Maliki has shown it is willing to oppose both Shiite and Sunni extremists. The Sunni insurgency in Anbar Province is dying, and a stable Iraq with a U.S. presence would be the best protection Saudi Arabia could have against Iran's regional adventurism.

The Saudis love to back a winner, and that is what the new Iraq increasingly looks like. As for the risks to the House of Saud from Iraq's democratic example, there's always the option of learning from it.
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