DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Humor
on: June 01, 2005, 11:08:29 AM
Subject: FW: Dictionary For Women's Personal Ads-
Adventurous.......................Slept with everyone
Contagious Smile..................Does a lot of pills
Emotionally Secure......................On medication
Free spirit.........................! ...........Junkie
Friendship first..........................Former slut
New-Age................Body hair in the wrong places
Outgoing........................Loud and Embarrassing
Large frame................................Hugely Fat
Wants Soul mate...............................Stalker
DICTIONARY OF WOMEN'S ENGLISH:
1. Yes = No
2. No = Yes
3. Maybe = No
4. We need = I want..
5. I am sorry = you'll be sorry
6. We need to talk = You're in trouble
7. Sure, go ahead = You better not
8. Do what you want = You ! will pay for this later
9. I am not upset = Of course I am ups et, you moron!
10. You're certainly attentive tonight = Is sex all you ever think about?
DICTIONARY OF MEN'S ENGLISH:
1. I am hungry = I am hungry
2. I am sleepy = I am sleepy
3. I am tired = I am tired
4. Nice dress = Nice cleavage!
5. I love you = Let's have sex now
6. I am bored = Do you want to have sex?
7. May I have this dance? = I'd like to have sex with you
8. Can I call you sometime? = I'd like to have sex with you
9. Do you want to go to a movie? = I'd like to have sex with you
10. Can I take you out to dinner? = I'd like to have sex with you
11. I don't think those shoes go with that outfit = I'm gay
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / KALI TUDO (tm) Article
on: May 31, 2005, 11:14:54 PM
Herewith a semi-polished draft of what I have submitted to Black Belt for their September issue on our subsystem of "Kali Tudo (tm)".
It is probably far longer than what they will actually print.
I may have a couple of days to make amendments, so comments and suggestions will be appreciated.
PS: Note that on the Front Page of the site that there is now a teaser clip for our Kali Tudo (tm) double DVD. Pre-release orders now being taken. Actual release date July 15 or sooner.
Kali Tudo 5.1
Those motivated principally by young male ritual fighting will always be a large percentage of the martial arts world. A very large percentage of them will cease to train as they achieve whatever competitive level that they will and face the prospect of decline.
In contrast, Dog Brothers Martial Arts (DBMA) has as its mission ?To Walk as a Warrior for All Your Days?. In our vision, The Path of the Warrior is a path Of Life, and it is For Life. As such, it must embrace all facets of Aggression -- not only young male ritual hierarchical fighting.
As such DBMA seeks to prepare for the un-ruled and unruly world wherein 360 awareness and unequal and unexpected situations are the criteria. This means that tools, tactics and techniques (?the Three Ts?) that exceed the inherent limitations of hierarchical fighting will be used?which of course presents the perennial question of how to prepare the Three Ts. The hierarchical competitor knows his Three Ts because he uses them on a resisting opponent, but ?secret techniques? and ?too deadly techniques? tend to be an untested techniques?at least as far as the individual being taught them is concerned!
So, what are we who seek to prepare ourselves for the full panoply of Aggression to do? Is there a way to test these skills in the Cage? Indeed, do we have something to offer today?s MMA competitor?
I believe that we can accept the challenge to bring a modified version of Kali Silat to the Cage that will enable us to test ourselves and our ?Three Ts? in a way that allows us to deepen our non-sportive fighting skills. And I believe that today?s MMA competitor, even though he lacks substantial portions of our skill sets, can incorporate some of what we do to his substantial benefit.
Most of us are familiar with many stories of embarrassing and/or sad endings for those who felt that their approach to fighting was ?too deadly? for martial sport. Some of these were seen in the early days of the BJJ triggered UFC revolution. In the context and crucible of the octagonal cage the theories, techniques, training and performance of many martial arts systems and styles were found lacking.
This has led however to the UFC and similar events such as Pride being considered by many as THE legitimate laboratory for what works in unarmed combat. People of this persuasion tend to respect only combat sports systems such as BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing, Sombo, Greco-Roman, and Wrestling-- the blend of which we may call ?Generic Mixed Martial Arts?.
Those who claim their technique is ?too deadly? for this form of fighting are seen as self-deluded fools who, unwilling to train hard with resisting training partners and hostile opponents, are probably afraid to put themselves to the test? often with good reason. As I once heard one person of this school of thought say, ?If someone tries plucking my eyeball out I?ll neck crank his butt into a wheel chair.? One can often hear something to the effect of ?I can do that biting, eye plucking stuff too, and my delivery system (i.e. my physical animal and its skills) are superior to yours.?
Let?s take a look at this thought process a bit further.
From the beginning of the UFC there have been rules-- and the list has expanded considerably since then, so it is clear there are some techniques that are ?too much?. The following list may not be complete, but if I remember correctly from when I was a judge at UFC 10, the original rules prohibited biting, gouging, eye attacks, small joint locks (toes, fingers) and fishhooks. Since then the list has expanded, and depending on the event typically the prohibited techniques will be some or all of the following: groin strikes, head butts, elbows, elbows to the head, kicks to a man on the ground, kicks to the head of a man on the ground, kicks to the legs of a man on the ground, knees, knees to the head of a man on the ground, strikes to the spine, etc and so forth.
Why is it that these techniques are ?too much?? Although it may seem intuitively obvious (analogous to Supreme Court Justice Potter?s infamous definition of pornography ?I know it when I see it.?) upon reflection, is this really an sufficient criterion? Not really. I think we can be more precise than this.
Aggression has different purposes. A large percentage of those in martial arts are young males looking to compete in ritual hierarchical contests. No surprise here-- in the continuum of a human male?s life-- that is what young males tend to do. (Females compete too, but in general their behavior in this regard is different.)
Social groups are hierarchical groups?contrast ?the anonymous horde? of a school of minnows. Social groups (e.g. a pack of wolves) consist of animals that band together for mutual benefit. To the extent that hierarchical contests damage the loser, the pack/tribe/etc becomes weakened?thus it makes perfect sense that hierarchical contests have rules and limitations.
So where does this leave those of us who have purposes outside of and beyond hierarchical competition?what we in Dog Brothers Martial Arts call ?To Walk as a Warrior for all your days?? We seek to defend our land, women and children?not to engage in fair fights. Thus, precisely what is ?too much? for cage fighting is exactly what interests us!
We need to think about this with clarity because again and again we have seen many who say their techniques are ?too deadly? fail when confronted with a young well-trained cage fighter who, unlike the ?too deadly? practitioner, has experienced using his techniques in the adrenal state upon a resisting opponent.
Before moving on in this discussion, we also need to note that this point can be overstated. We need to remember that we have seen reflexes honed in the adrenal state of combat sport, disastrously manifest in the adrenal state outside of the ritual space. This is sometimes forgotten.
These disastrous manifestations may appear in unorganized (as versus ritual) male hierarchical fights: open guard makes much more sense when one is wearing a cup on the mat or in the cage than in the parking lot outside the night club where someone can vigorously step on your genitals. Releasing a triangle choke can get your femoral artery or genitals bitten. A takedown to side control for ground-and-pound may mean that your attacker can hold on to you long enough for his friends to arrive.
Cage reflexes can also manifest in matters of judgment. For example there is the recent case of a kickboxing champion in CA whose car was sideswiped in front of his gym by a hit-and-run driver. Understandably angry at the misdeed and confident in his superiority, he ran out of his gym while in his MT shorts and chased down the fleeing car and caught up with it at a red light at the corner-- whereupon he was promptly shot and killed by the driver-- who was a thief who had stolen the car.
Yet with all that said, it seems to me that we have still danced around the underlying question presented.
In my humble opinion we of the Kali Silat persuasion need to have a facet to our Art that accepts that challenge of the cage while doing so in a way that furthers our purposes as warriors on a lifelong path as well as generating success in young male hierarchical fights. If the ?delivery platform? we test and hone in the crucible of the cage is consistent with the idioms of movement, the tactics, the tools and the training for weaponry, then we are ahead of the game in a subtle and powerful way when it comes to ?walking as a warrior for all our days.?
In Dog Brothers Martial Arts we call our sub-system for this ?Kali Tudo ??.
The meaning of the name is a pun/rhyme on the Brazilian Portuguese term ?Vale Tudo? which is usually translated as ?Anything goes.? If we look at the Latin roots of the Vale Tudo we may recognize that the English words of common ancestry are ?Valid Total?.
In the Portuguese pronunciation of ?Vale? the ?e? is pronounced like ?e? in ?hey? whereas the in the American pronunciation it is pronounced like the ?ee? in ?seek?.
In the American pronunciation of ?Kali?, the ?i? is also pronounced like the ?ee? in ?seek?. Thus the rhyme is created between the American pronunciation of Vale Tudo and our sub-system ?Kali Tudo ??.
Kali Tudo does not seek to replace what is in the cage right now. The fighters of today are outstanding and what they do is not to be dismissed lightly. I would note in passing though that much more than is commonly appreciated, much of what is in the cage right now has strong southeast Asian influence. Muay Thai is but a ring sport branch from the tree of the Thai military weaponry system of Krabi Krabong which comes to us in DBMA through the teachings of Guro Inosanto and Ajarn Arlan ?Salty Dog? Sanford.
The contribution of the Filipino Art of Panantukan to boxing is quite substantial. Indeed some believe that the shift from the palm up structure of the John L. Sullivan era to the palm down and evasive head movements of the modern era date to the interaction of the US soldiers and the Filipino people in the aftermath of our suppression of the Filipino independence movement after the Spanish-American War of 1898. This is a matter for another day. Those interested may peruse the many points of view in http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=206&start=0
The principal systems upon which we draw are Inosanto Blend Kali and other FMA systems, Inosanto Maphilindo Silat and other Silats, Krabi Krabong, Burmese Bando, and Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We also draw upon what we see currently happening in the cage.
Those familiar with this list of influences will note that with the exception of the Machado BJJ, all fall within the concept of the Majapahit Empire as described by Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje of Pekiti Tirsia and Guro Inosanto.
What are the distinctive features of our approach?
1) Even as we seek success in the Cage, we seek to minimize the installation of behaviors unsuitable for 360 degrees. We seek to maximize skills, tactics, tools and techniques suitable for the 360 degrees of the street.
2) Following the Kali principal of zoning away from the rear hand, we pay particular attention to fighting in striking range to unmatched lead. (This can apply to clinch range as well.) Thus in order to be able to fight both right lead and left lead fighters, we pay considerable attention to bilateralism. This serves us well in 360 degree situations as well due to the battlefield tactical options thus enabled.
3) This matter of bilateralism enables, indeed calls for, triangular footwork. When a fighter?s skill set is indifferent to which side is forward he may freely shift between the two and this more than doubles the number of triangles possible (Triangles that maintain right lead, triangles that maintain left lead, and triangles that change leads) In our system these skills are developed during our approach to Siniwali (double stick) training.
4) Striking skills ARE based upon our approach to weaponry?both siniwali and knife. Punching is only one of several striking modalities. Trapping most certainly is part of the mix. At the simplest level this means at two (and occasionally three) hits per shift of body weight in contrast to the one hit per shift of body weight of boxing. Furthermore, the nature of these strikes makes them more usable during clinch and ground game?often to surprisingly instantaneous results.
5) The integration of these strikes with bilateral triangular footwork, developed during our approach to weaponry, yields an approach quite different to what is currently seen. Indeed, it can often look quite freaky. It is applied in principally in four ways ways. In addition to the already mentioned clinch and ground ranges, this approach has considerable merit in maintaining a fight in striking range. In the cage this can force an opponent to overextend himself in his efforts to close the distance. In the street, the art and science of keeping someone from entangling you can be a matter of life and death. The remaining category is in aggressive attacks that are both triangular and crashing at the same time. .
6) It is precisely the present absence of triangular striking crash combinations in cagefighting today that explains the current difficulties in applying Kali Silat in the closer ranges. Conversely, its presence enables it. Kali Silat works.
7) Young male hierarchical competition is a secondary motivation?although in my humble opinion we have plenty to offer a young MMA fighter, even one without Kali Silat skills. That said, our principal motivation is to install real time, real world skills in the adrenal state that will prepare us to ?Walk as a Warrior for all our Days?. Our subsystem of Kali Tudo ? is but a step in that process.
Kali Silat does require some training methods distinct from those of generic MMA. Currently many people deride this training as ?dead patterns?. This can be, and often is, true when the training stops at this point in the process.
But just how does one train a Silat takedown that calls for ripping the medial miniscus of the knee safely upon a resisting opponent?
IMHO part of the answer lays in what Guro Inosanto calls "cooperative quarter lever" technical training wherein the correct leverage is identified but applied only a little bit in order to facilitate the development of the understanding of the application AND DANGERS of Kali Silat. Part of the answer lies in BJJ/submission type training. And part of the answer lies in working with training partners who have done both quarter lever training BJJ/submission type training.
In other words, both need to have an understanding of the risks/consequences of Silat techniques, a sense of what uncooperative people feel like, AND the ability to roll and/or strike at partial intensity without accelerating-- as the Machado Brothers say, ?leaving one?s ego at the door.?
Not only is this type of training highly effective in installing these dangerous skills for real time application, it also is relatively safe and quite fun.
The same process described here for learning and training Silat leverage also applies to Kali Silat striking.
This conception of training methodology is essential to manifest Kali Silat in the cage.
Why have we not seen Kali and Silat in cagefighting/NHB/MMA?
My answer is that we have not seen it yet, but we will?very soon. I will go further and predict that it will change the fighting-- as have other systems that have come before it.
When I was a flag carrying fighter for the Dog Brothers twice a year at time and place certain I was available to all comers and put my ideas to the test. I did this until I was 48 years old. I am now 52 and am past the age when I can plausibly step into the Cage.
Still I test myself and these ideas in sparring at Rico Chiapparelli?s R1 Gym, a world class MMA facility. I thank the fine fighters there for matching my diminished level of physicality so that I may continue to play and research. In addition to Rico, I thank Frank Trigg and Vladymir Matyushenko for their help.
The three men I have worked most in our ?Kali Tudo? are Chris Gizzi, DBMA Lakan Guro ?Dog? Jeff Brown, and DBMA Guro Benjamin ?Lonely Dog? Rittiner. Although in my opinion Chris (who you see in the photos in this article) has the physical gifts and the understanding of this material to take it all the way, Chris has decided to stay with his roots in football (he was a standout linebacker for the Green Bay Packers) and now trains pro football players and other elite athletes as well as mere mortals.
Jeff, in addition to being a Lakan Guro in DBMA is also highly ranked in Silat under Herman Suwanda (with considerable training in Indonesia) and in Silat and Kali under Guro Inosanto, in Bando under GM Gyi, and others. He competes in Bando kickboxing and BJJ. I think Jeff expresses Kali Tudo very well
So too does DBMA Guro Lonely Dog. Rico has graciously complemented him on his quality participation in hard sparring at R1 using this material.
These three men can be seen with me in our double disc DVD of ?Kali Tudo ?? which principally covers the portion of the subsystem dedicated to triangular crashing striking combinations.
Allow me to flesh out my prediction that Kali Silat will alter the course of Cagefighting.
My thinking in this regard began with my experience in Dog Brothers Real Contact Stickfighting when I started BJJ with the Machado Brothers in the summer of 1990 and others in our tribe began shortly thereafter. At that time (Pre UFC) most of the martial arts world was blissfully unaware of the realities of grappling in the context of fighting, particularly so in the mostly FMA world of ?Dog Brothers Real Contact Stickfighting?. )
In most of the Filipino Arts in America the received wisdom was, and is, that in the presence of the skilled use of weapons (either impact or cutting) grappling was pretty much a non-issue. Yet in the context of our fighting, we found otherwise. It is true that in many of our fights grappling range was created due to the increased survivability of head shots due to the fencing masks we use, but in my considered opinion we developed many fighters capable of consistently closing to grappling without taking any shots to the head and in the naivete of that era even moderate blue belt level skills produced results that were nearly magical. This is not surprising. Our opponents at that time were unfamiliar with the structure and its dynamics that we were using?just as I believe will happen as we begin to apply Kali Silat in the cage.
This is not a rare dynamic. We have seen this pattern of new and unfamiliar structures changing the fighting repeatedly in the UFC too.
In the beginning, those who entered the event prepared only by training and fighting focused on various forms of striking tested by ritual hierarchical contests with rules designed to isolate striking tended to do quite poorly. They were unfamiliar with the structures of grappling and their dynamics.
Naturally in response to these experiences people did not stand still! Most everyone learned the basics of BJJ?and sought weak links in its structures to exploit with the strong links of other structures.
For example some people looked to shootfighting and Sambo for their leg locks to counter BJJ?s guard game and it was the turn of some BJJ fighters to be surprised as their knees, ankles, and feet were locked.
Another example would be that in the beginning of the BJJ revolution against non-grappling strikers, BJJ fighters could create almost any sort of tangled mess to drag the fight to the ground and then win it there. But then wrestlers such as Greco-Roman man Randy Couture came on the scene?and the BJJ people lacked the skills to bring such men down. Often the result was that either or both looked to use Muay Thai type skills in the clinch?even though fighters trained exclusively in Muay Thai had not fared well previously.
Although those trained solely in BJJ often could not bring down the wrestlers, the wrestlers often could bring down the BJJ fighters into highly unfavorable positions for a ?ground and pound? game that made good use of the grapplers? good base and balance.
Trained by boxing trainer Eddie Stanky, Vitor Belfort brought in sport boxing to excellent effect. Even though most of his early wins were with boxing hands, I think it fair to say that his foundational skills in BJJ Vale Tudo and the attendant understanding of range gave him an understanding of how to use boxing in the context of cagefighting.
Yet then we saw Randy Couture?s ?dirty boxing? (something the Filipino art of Panantukan has taken to a very high level) neutralize Belfort?s sport boxing.
In short, in the Cage we have seen new structures and dynamics come in with dominating results again and again. In a similar manner we have seen again and again that over time there will be responses that neutralize and/or counter these structures and dynamics. Advantage is transitory. Indeed as I write, the current UFC Champ Chuck Liddell won his belt with boxing strikes over superb grappler and great champion Randy Couture. How the wheel has turned from the early UFC!
Closing on a more personal note, recently I showed a rough edit of our Kali Tudo DVDs to Top Dog for his thoughts on it. One of the things he said to me was ?This almost feels like you are letting out a secret.?
I do confess to sharing his feeling in this regard.
So why do I do it?
I must confess what provoked me into starting my journey into KT was a bit like the plot line of many a Chop Socky movie: ?You can?t say that about our teacher!? The attacks by some on his teachings concerning sticks??dead patterns!? they said, I felt were well answered by the performance of the Dog Brothers?no teacher has produced more, either directly or through his students such as me.
?But what of the FMA claim that the unarmed motions are just like armed motions?? these people persisted.
This question I acknowledged did not have the answer (YET!) that the weaponry question did.
As I thought about it, it certainly made no sense to ask someone to use the weaponry motions while unarmed if they couldn?t use the weaponry motions when armed! Thus, it seemed to me that I was, despite my modest physical gifts, due to my training in the Art and my 140 or so Dog Brothers stickfights, in a position to step forward to respond to this challenge.
And so I have. It is the Dog Brother way, the Tao of the Dog if you will, to search for Truth.
The Adventure continues, , , ,
Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers
Founder and Head Instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts.
For a sidebar to the article:
What some people say about Guro Crafty:
Rico Chiapparelli: (2x World Wrestling Champion, world class MMA coach)
Awareness of and through movement is essential in any
fighting situation. "Kali Tudo" is an interesting
perspective on real fighting that I have seen applied
in hard training sessions and combat.
Marc's intstructions are clear and educational, that
along with the various live, training and technical
video shots, make the DVD quite entertaining.
Expression of truth comes in many forms, all forms are
Frank Trigg (noted UFC and Pride competitor)
It is amazing to see a master of his expertise always trying to increase educational curve by trying to learn new things on a daily basis. His fighting tactics, although unconventional and unorthodox to the untrained eye, are deeply rooted in the true spirit of the warrior. We dig having him at the R1 Gym.
John Renken (Pride, Pancrase, and Shooto;
IFC Lightweight champion
Hook n Shoot Absolute Champion
SFC Middleweight Champion
Extreme Challenge 14 Lightweight Champion
Hook n Shoot Middleweight Champion
Fight Zone Middleweight Champion)
The material on unmatched leads in his Kali Tudo ? DVDs alone is worth the price of admission. My last five opponents were southpaws and I sure wish I knew then what I learned in these DVDs! Even though I am not a Kali guy, I found many things of great applicability to my MMA game. Also, Marc is a gas to train with!
Rik "Captain America" Stardy Jr.
Head Instructor of the RealJitsu Academy
Head of Security for The Rave and Eagles Ballroom
"I have 23 years of martial arts experience (including being an apprentice instructor under Rorion Gracie), I've done different types of competitions and worked on and off for 13 years in nightclub security. So I have plenty of real life fighting experience under my belt and feel that I know what I'm Talking about. I have studied under some "world renowned" instructors often walking away thinking 1. I have just wasted time and money 2. I could have bitch slapped that guy to death. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE WITH GURO DENNY!!!!!!!! I just recently spent $XXXX to study with him for the weekend AND IT WAS WORTH IT!!! If you are interested in studying a reality/weapons based art, my first, second and third recommendation would be Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny. The synergy of his teaching is the fact that he is not only a great martial artist and fighter but also a gifted and patient instructor. I was also pleasantly suprised at how very functional his Kali Tudo is. I will be a life long student of Guro Denny's.
Robert W. Young
Editor Black Belt Magazine
Marc ?Crafty Dog? Denny is the epitome of the martial arts ideal. He appreciates the hard work of the past masters, yet isn?t blinded by devotion. Instead he always seeks to test what he has learned from the past in the crucible of today?s full contact arena. It is the way the evolution of the martial arts was meant to be.
I want to take a moment to HIGHLY recommend Guro Crafty's Kali Tudo DVDs. They 'bridge the gap' between stickfighting and empty hands, between theory and reality, and between Mixed Martial Arts and the Southeast Asian weapon arts. Kali Tudo will make life a lot easier for you and a lot harder for your sparring partners!
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / grandfathers speak
on: May 31, 2005, 11:06:17 PM
The Grandfathers DVD is done. The box cover is done. The only thing holding back its actual release it that we have to have three DVDs to give to the duplication house at the same time to keep costs down. At the moment we have Grandfathers, the conversion of POWER from the first series, and have finished the master of the double disc Kali Tudo (tm). As soon as we finish the box cover for it, we should be ready to roll.
The DVD of "The Grandfathers Speak" contains an additional 30 minutes of footage based upon an interview I did with GM Leo Giron about his experiences in WW2.
Editor Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel has done a stellar job on this mixing in extraordinary footage you probably have never seen.
I admit to misting up on the ending of it.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: May 31, 2005, 03:25:03 PM
The FBI Sting and Two New Militant Suspects May 31, 2005 1735 GMT
Following a two-year sting operation, the FBI has arrested two men it says
were conspiring to join al Qaeda and provide material support to the
jihadist network. Agents apprehended Tarik Ibn Osman Shah on May 27 inNew York City and Florida doctor Rafiq Sabir a day later near Boca Raton, Fla. Shah and Sabir "allegedly agreed to provide training in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat to al Qaeda members and associates, while Sabir allegedly agreed to provide medial assistance to wounded jihadists in Saudi Arabia," according to a joint statement issued May 29 by the FBI and federal prosecutors.
The FBI claims the men pledged allegiance to al Qaeda during a May 20
meeting in New York City with a person they believed was recruiting them
into al Qaeda, but who actually was an undercover FBI agent.
Information released about Shah allegedly reveals a connection to the
so-called Virginia Jihad Network, an informal network centered around Falls Church, Va., that has been the common denominator in many arrests related to conspiracy to commit or support terrorist acts. According to federal prosecutors, Shah had the names and phone numbers of individuals who had attended terrorist training camps in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Among these names was Seifullah Chapman, a member of the Virginia Jihad Network who was convicted in Virginia in March 2004 for providing material support to a Pakistan-based terrorist group.
Several people associated with the Virginia Jihad Network have been arrested on charges of conspiring to support terrorist groups, of participating in terrorist activities or of encouraging others to take part in militant activities against the United States. Among these are Masoud Khan, who was sentenced to life in prison in June 2004 under the Neutrality Act for conspiring to support terrorists; Ali al-Timimi, an Islamist ideologue convicted in April 2004 for urging his followers to travel to Afghanistan to resist the U.S.-led invasion; and Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was indicted in February for providing support to al Qaeda, including "material support and resources" in a plot to assassinate U.S. President George W. Bush. Like Shah and Sabir, all three are U.S. citizens who were living in the United States.
If the FBI case against Shah and Sabir is upheld in court, it could reveal
that the two lacked the operational skills required to successfully commit a
terrorist act on U.S. soil, but that they could have been useful to al Qaeda
in other ways -- such as providing valuable logistic and financial support
for the planning and staging phases of a terrorist attack. Furthermore, as
U.S. citizens already living in the country, they could have operated in the
open without attracting undue attention.
If the two are proven guilty, the case will demonstrate FBI improvements in surveillance and infiltration of jihadist cells in the United States -- and
the bureau's ability to gain intelligence from the arrests. Although the
meeting between the two and the undercover agent allegedly took place May 20, the men were not arrested until a full week later, after they had
returned to their homes. By apprehending the two at their homes, federal
agents gained access to potentially crucial evidence and intelligence, such
as address books and computer files. This could lead to further action
against alleged U.S.-based jihadists.
These arrests also demonstrate FBI interest in the Virginia Jihad Network.
FBI telephone taps or reviews of phone records allowed under the Foreign
Surveillance Intelligence Act likely tipped off agents as to Shah and
Sabir's alleged commitment to the jihadist cause -- and an undercover agent was assigned to perform the sting.
Another more disturbing revelation coming from Shah's arrest is a possible
connection between jihadists and Black Muslims in the United States. Shah is the son of "Lieutenant X," a former top aid of Malcolm X.
If Shah and Sabir are found guilty of conspiring to support al Qaeda, it
would prove there still are U.S. citizens in the United States who are
willing to support and participate in terrorist groups. In any case, more
arrests are likely to follow.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Frank Trigg on VH1 tonight
on: May 30, 2005, 03:21:47 PM
Comments from the Mixed Martial Arts Underground:
First off LOL!
This has probably been talked about to death on here, but I am avoiding the site so no dumbass drops a Bushido spoiler on me.
I thought the guy was happily married?
I did a double take a first when I saw him, then when she comented on his ears I took a harder look and was sure. I think he has a solid chance because most of those goons are like 20 years old and immature as hell. WTF is he doing on that show anyway? Does he really want to be that wrinkled ole road whores boy toy or is he just trying to break into the spotlight?
well, the more reality tv show coverage you have in america, the more people know your name and face which is good for your popularity as a fighter.
I watched it for like 5 minutes last night. I was hoping one of those fag boys would pic a fight with him.
wtf is kept?
Its a VH1 reality show where a bunch of guys compete to win Jerry Hall. ( Mick Jaggers x wife)
she's a nasty old hag. you couldn't pay me enough to snuggle up to her. wtf with trigg on that show? He's really just a soft puppy dog.
I don't have the attention span to watch more then 5 minutes of that crap. Is Jerry Hall American?
she's from texas originally, I think.
She's a nasty american broad pretending to be british with nasty british teeth.
You guys should help the man realize his dream and vote for him: http://www.vh1.com/shows/dyn/kept/87177/episode.jhtml
Jerry was a big model from Texas in the 70's then was married to Mick Jagger for a while.
That show was terrible, I was just hoping Trigg would do something obnoxious to make a mockery of it all.
He's smart, he's just doing it for the exposure for himself. He should really play up the UFC angle more
Reality TV any more is just a bunch of losers attention whoring to try to get famous
"She's a nasty american broad pretending to be british with nasty british teeth."
It seemed like she was almost putting on a fake English accent at times. It was awful.
I guess he is divorced.
i couldn't believe it when i saw him...
Trigg explained this all in an interview. He thinks Jerry is an old hag and is simply trying to get his name and clothing line on national tv...job well done Frank!
"I was hoping one of those fag boys would pic a fight with him. "
Dude.. is this trigg on the show? http://www.vh1.com/sitewide/flipbooks/img/shows/kept/flipbooks_kept/sharp_dressed_men/11.jpg
"That show was terrible, I was just hoping Trigg would do something obnoxious to make a mockery of it all. "
I saw it last night, fairly entertaining. I hope Trigg gets into it with another contenstant.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / An Untold Triumph
on: May 29, 2005, 06:34:02 AM
AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH SELECTED FOR NATIONAL PRIMETIME BROADCAST ON PBS
HONOLULU/WASHINGTON D.C. - The filmmakers of the award-winning
documentary, AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH, which tells the story of the U.S.
Army's 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments, have just received
word that PBS has accepted the film for its national primetime
PBS has scheduled the documentary to air on Memorial Day, May 30,
2005 at 10:00 PM following a repeat broadcast of the American
Experience program "Bataan Rescue." AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH includes a
retelling of the Bataan Death March from the Filipino soldier's
and, in a somewhat related vein:
Japanese Trying to Contact WWII Soldiers
By OLIVER TEVES, Associated Press Writer 44 minutes ago
Japanese diplomats pressed ahead Saturday with efforts to contact two
World War II soldiers reportedly living in the southern Philippines
since they were separated from their division six decades ago.
The men -- who would be in their 80s -- were said to have been
separated from the 30th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army and then
stayed in the remote mountains on Mindanao island for fear of being
court-martialed in Japan.
The astonishing claim that World War II holdouts may still be alive has
attracted huge interest in Japan, where veterans are marking the 60th
anniversary of the war's end.
But the Japanese government urged caution, saying the report came from
somebody who had not seen the men himself. Efforts to contact the pair
also were complicated by the fact that the area in which they
supposedly were found is notorious for ransom kidnappings and attacks
by Muslim separatists, who have waged war for three decades. Communist
rebels also are active there.
Tokyo first learned of the former soldiers in January, from a Japanese
trader on Mindanao who has been trying since Friday to arrange a
meeting so officials could try to confirm the men's' identities,
Japanese Embassy spokesman Shuhei Ogawa said.
But Ogawa stressed that the trader had not seen the men and was relying
on a Filipino contact, who himself got word of the mystery soldiers from
yet another Filipino.
"You should know this type of information comes in all the time," he
said. "We really have no idea if these two people exist."
He said the diplomats who traveled to General Santos city, 600 miles
south of Manila, were still "trying to work out (the details of) a meeting."
On Sunday, they will be joined by an official from the Japanese Health
Ministry, which is in charge of keeping records of former soldiers who
survived as well as recovering the remains of those killed during the war.
According to Japan's Kyodo News agency, the two missing soldiers might
be Yoshio Yamakawa, 87, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 85.
The Philippines, then a U.S. colony, was a major battleground in the
Pacific. The Japanese occupation is remembered as brutal for its
massacres of civilians and deaths of hundreds of thousands of U.S. and
Filipino soldiers. After the United States retook the islands from the
Japanese, the country became independent in 1946.
According to Japanese government records, the men could have been part
of a unit of 16,000 soldiers on Mindanao, of which only about 3,000
were believed to have survived the war.
Japan's financial daily Nihon Keizai reported problems negotiating
their free passage through jungles controlled by armed groups. Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi's spokesman, Yu Kameoka, also said that
large crowds, including about 100 Japanese journalists, apparently gave
the men pause.
The Japanese invaded the Philippines on Dec. 20, 1941. Years after the
war ended, there were signs in the Philippines warning about Japanese
soldiers still in the hills.
A few surrendered as late as 1948. In March 1974, intelligence officer
Lt. Hiroo Onoda came out of hiding on northern Lubang island, but he
refused to give up until the Japanese government flew in his former
commander to formally inform him the war was over.
The last of the three known former Japanese soldiers to surrender, in
December 1974, was Taiwanese national Teruo Nakamura, who fought for
the Japanese army on Indonesia's Morotai island. He returned to Taiwan
at age 57.
In 1972, Shoichi Yokoi, who had hid for 27 years in the jungles of the
Pacific island of Guam without knowing the war had ended, also returned
to Japan. He died at age 82 in 1997.
Rumors of other soldiers hiding out have surfaced but were never
The Yomiuri newspaper, Japan's largest, reported Saturday that the two
missing soldiers currently sought were first seen in August by a
Japanese lumber businessman, who relayed "the near-unbelievable tale of
their survival" to a veterans' association, which then sent members to
the island to contact them.
The two former soldiers reportedly said they feared being
court-martialed and executed if they returned to Japan, Yomiuri said,
adding the association tried to allay their concerns by sending them
old magazines that reported Onoda's case.
Meanwhile, the convergence of Japanese reporters on the bustling port
city of General Santos raised security concerns in the volatile area,
and the embassy warned them not to venture out in search of the men or
follow anyone offering to guide them. Philippine police issued a
Associated Press reporter Kenji Hall in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: May 28, 2005, 12:01:57 AM
'No god but God': The War Within Islam
By MAX RODENBECK
THESE are rough times for Islam. It is not simply that frictions have intensified lately between Muslims and followers of other faiths. There is trouble, and perhaps even greater trouble, brewing inside the Abode of Peace itself, the notional Islamic ummah or nation that comprises a fifth of humanity.
News reports reveal glimpses of such trouble -- for instance, in the form of flaring strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in places like Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the greater tensions, while similarly rooted in the distant past, are less visible to the wider world. The rapid expansion of literacy among Muslims in the past half-century, and of access to new means of communication in the last decade, have created a tremendous momentum for change. Furious debates rage on the Internet, for example, about issues like the true meaning of jihad, or how to interpret and apply Islamic law, or how Muslim minorities should engage with the societies they live in.
What is unfolding, Reza Aslan argues in his wise and passionate book, ''No god but God,'' is nothing less than a struggle over who will ultimately define the sweeping ''Islamic Reformation'' that he believes is already well under way across much of the Muslim world. The West, he says, is ''merely a bystander -- an unwary yet complicit casualty of a rivalry that is raging in Islam over who will write the next chapter in its story.''
Amid the surge of Western interest in Islam since 9/11, other quiet voices have argued similarly that the historical process we are witnessing is less a clash of civilizations than a working out of suppressed internal conflicts. Aslan's contribution to this line of thought is threefold. He traces the dogmatic splits in Islam to their historical origins. He provides a speculative but well-reasoned look at how Muslim beliefs are likely to evolve. And he does all this beautifully, in a book that manages to be both an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.
Aslan does not shy from controversy. Conservative Muslims will certainly challenge some of his bold assertions -- among them, that there is scant support in authentic Islamic tradition for the veiling of women; that laws are created by people, not God; and that, as he puts it, ''the notion that historical context should play no role in the interpretation of the Koran -- that what applied to Muhammad's community applies to all Muslim communities for all time -- is simply an untenable position in every sense.''
Yet even the most hidebound traditionalists would find it hard to refute the main thrust of his argument, which is that the original message of Islam, egalitarian, inclusive, progressive and liberating, has been twisted and diminished over time. Aslan is at his best in trying to explain and recapture what was initially inspiring about Islam and what remains powerful -- things that can be hard for outsiders to see these days because of what some do in the name of their faith.
By carefully drawing in the social and political setting from which Islam emerged, Aslan presents a persuasive case for viewing the religion as very much a product of its age. He notes the appearance in the region of Mecca, during the prophet's youth, of religious fashions like iconoclasm and the fusing of faiths into one embracing doctrine, ideas that were to become central to Muhammad's message. Not just outsiders but Muslims themselves need reminding that during Islam's first centuries, the Torah was often read alongside the Koran. Both Muslims and their detractors also often forget that the Koran calls specifically on Jews, Christians and Muslims to ''come to an agreement on the things we hold in common.''
Aslan's wish to emphasize the tolerant, merciful side of Islam can lead to pitfalls. It is not particularly comforting to learn that when the prophet triumphantly returned to Mecca, the city of his birth that had rejected him, there were no forced conversions and ''only'' six men and four women were put to the sword. The killing and enslavement of Jewish tribes at Medina receives a similarly light gloss, although Aslan may be right to point out that their ''Jewishness'' may have been rather vaguely defined.
Whatever the case, he is clearly correct in stating that the more damaging influences on the faith were yet to come. Over the 14 centuries that followed Muhammad's 22 years of revelation, Muslim kings and scholars distorted its tenets to serve their own narrow interests, and then cast these accretions in stone. Not only were the words of the Koran reinterpreted, but so were the hundreds of thousands of traditions and sayings collected by the prophet's contemporaries. As one example, Muhammad's comment that the ''feebleminded'' should not inherit was taken by some to mean that women should be excluded from inheritance, despite the clear Koranic injunction to grant women half the portion of male inheritors.
Immediately after Islam's glorious early years of expansion, a great intellectual clash pitted rigid literalists against more rationalist interpreters. That the rationalists essentially lost is a subject of lament for Muslim modernists, particularly Western-educated intellectuals like Aslan, an Iranian-American scholar of comparative religion. His arguments for reintroducing rationalism, for accepting the utility of secularization and for contextualizing the historical understanding of the faith all put him in distinguished company among contemporary Muslims.
The Syrian reformist Muhammad Shahrour, for instance, proposes an elegant solution to the question of how to apply the controversial corporal punishments specified by most understandings of Islamic law, or Shariah. Instead of taking what some see as God's rules literally, he suggests that things like hand-chopping should be viewed as the maximum possible penalty. Anything more severe would contravene Islam, but it would be up to a secular, elected legislature to determine what lesser level of severity to apply.
Sadly, the dominant voices in Islam are still those that see the faith not simply as a path of moral guidance but as a rigidly prescriptive and exclusive rule book. Ferment is certainly in the air. If the Osama bin Ladens of the world have achieved one thing, it is to force Muslims to confront some of their demons. Even archconservative Saudi Arabia is slowly evolving. In April, its top religious authority declared that forcing a woman to marry against her will was an imprisonable offense. A full-blown ''reformation'' in the heartlands of Islam, however, is still a long way off.
Max Rodenbeck is the Middle East correspondent for The Economist.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gender issues thread
on: May 26, 2005, 11:19:13 AM
From today's LEFT Angeles Times:
Lawmakers Retreat on Women in Combat
By John Hendren, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON ? In a major reversal, congressional Republicans on Wednesday abandoned an effort to limit the role of women in combat and instead instructed the Pentagon to keep Congress informed about the status of women deployed in war zones.
The compromise, part of a $490.7-billion defense spending bill for 2006, marked a retreat from a campaign by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and other Republicans to restrict the role of women in the military.
That plan raised hackles across Washington, drawing the opposition of Army Secretary Francis Harvey, the American Civil Liberties Union and lawmakers of both parties.
Commanders feared that any new restrictions on women in combat would make it more difficult to fill the ranks at a time when wars on two fronts have dampened enthusiasm among young Americans to enlist and have left the Army missing its recruiting targets.
Democrats on Capitol Hill derided it as a sexist effort to carve into law a special ? and reduced ? status for women in uniform.
"At a time when our armed forces are overstretched, we shouldn't be turning away people who want to serve their country," said Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Walnut Creek).
Invoking the names of two female soldiers captured by Iraqi insurgents and later freed, she added, "This step is a slap in the face to the Jessica Lynches and Shoshana Johnsons of our military, who served our nation ably and nobly."
The measure on women in combat was stripped from the defense bill that authorized $441.6 billion in regular defense spending plus $49.1 billion in emergency budget authority to support costs related to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The overall bill, approved on a 390-39 vote, would provide a 3.1% pay raise to military personnel and authorize 10,000 more Army soldiers and 1,000 more Marines. The bill also includes $3.4 billion for the Army's next generation of combat vehicles and weapons systems, and $7.9 billion for ballistic missile defense. Those numbers could change when the Senate takes up its version of the defense bill.
As of Wednesday, 35 women were among the 1,649 American troops who had been killed in Iraq, and six female troops had been killed in Afghanistan.
Another 279 women in Iraq and three in Afghanistan had been injured. Women comprise 22,020, or nearly 10%, of the 232,974 U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding regions.
In his proposal on women in combat, Hunter sought to codify a 1994 Pentagon policy that barred women from serving in most direct combat roles in armor, artillery, infantry and Special Forces units. It allowed them to serve in the military police and, since last year, in combat support jobs.
The policy, based on Cold War-era concepts of warfare, was rendered partly moot by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan who do not distinguish between troops on front lines and those on theoretically safer missions elsewhere, such as escorting cargo convoys.
Women now serve as gunners atop Humvees on perilous Iraqi streets. Hunter was particularly concerned that women were allowed to serve in armored Stryker vehicles that are used in combat situations.
In proposing stricter laws, Hunter said he feared that the Pentagon was violating the 1994 rules and placing women at risk. Hunter agreed to the compromise Wednesday after meeting Tuesday with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, although Pentagon officials stopped short of saying that Rumsfeld opposed Hunter's earlier legislative wording.
The final measure would require the Pentagon to give Congress 60 days' notice ? instead of the previous 30 days ? before changing the role of female troops. The compromise was approved by a vote of 428 to 1.
"It has always been our intent to inject Congress into any policy changes that the Department of Defense may propose regarding the assignment of women to units such as infantry, armor and artillery," Hunter said. "This provision does that."
Rumsfeld, apparently satisfied, wrote Hunter on Wednesday, saying, "I do not anticipate any shift in present department policies, nor in the quality and scope of opportunities available to military women."
The battle to oppose the measure was led by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), the only female veteran in Congress.
"In the history of this country, there has never been a law limiting the assignment of women in the Army, and we will not do so now," Wilson said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politically (In)correct
on: May 26, 2005, 11:17:30 AM
Author Charged With Defaming Islam
From Times Wire Reports
A judge ordered author Oriana Fallaci to face trial on charges of defaming Islam.
The case arose after Muslim activist Adel Smith alleged that parts of Fallaci's book, "The Strength of Reason," are offensive to Islam, such as a passage that calls Islam "a pool ? that never purifies," said Smith's attorney, Matteo Nicoli.
Fallaci, in her 70s, said she is accused of violating a law barring "outrage to religion." No date has been set for the trial in the northern town of Bergamo.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gender issues thread
on: May 26, 2005, 12:40:24 AM
No Women In Combat Passes House
May 19, 2005
WASHINGTON - Women in the military would be barred from serving in direct ground combat roles, under a House bill that sets Defense Department policy and spending plans for the upcoming budget year.
The House Armed Services Committee approved the overall measure early Thursday on a 61-1 vote. The same committee in the Senate passed a different version last week. The House and Senate are to vote on their respective bills next week.
President Bush requested $442 billion for defense for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, excluding money to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The House bill, like the Senate's version, envisions creating a $50 billion fund for the conflicts for next year - but provides no money for it.
The measure also calls for increasing the military by 10,000 Army soldiers and 1,000 Marines, boosting pay grades for uniformed personnel by 3.1 percent and permanently providing all Reserve and Guard members access to military health care services.
In a nearly 15-hourlong committee hearing, the most contentious issue was the role of women in combat.
The language would put into law a Pentagon policy from 1994 that prohibits female troops in all four service branches from serving in units below brigade level whose primary mission is direct ground combat.
"Many Americans feel that women in combat or combat support positions is not a bridge we want to cross at this point," said Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., who sponsored the amendment.
It also allows the Pentagon to further exclude women from units in other instances, while requiring defense officials to notify Congress when opening up positions to women. The amendment replaced narrower language in the bill that applied only to the Army and banned women from some combat support positions.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps currently operate under a 10-year-old policy that prohibits women from "direct combat on the ground" but allows the services discretion to open some jobs to women in combat as needed.
"We're not taking away a single prerogative that the services now have," McHugh said.
Democrats opposed the amendment, saying it would tie the hands of commanders who need flexibility during wartime. They accused Republicans of rushing through legislation without knowing the consequences or getting input from the military.
"We are changing the dynamic of what has been the policy of this country for the last 10 years," said Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark.
Added Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the committee's leading Democrat: "There seems to be a solution in search of a problem."
The issue arose last week, when Republicans, at the behest of Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., added a provision that would have banned women from being assigned to "forward support companies."
Those units provide infantry, armor and artillery units with equipment, ammunition, maintenance and other supplies in combat zones. The Army started allowing women to staff such support posts last year and says it is complying with the 1994 policy.
Some Republicans aren't so sure. "The Army is confused. They're all over the place on this one," Hunter said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday the Army is working with Congress and battlefield commanders "to find an appropriate way that's consistent with our country's view on that subject."
He said the Army's attempt to reorganize and an asymmetrical front line on the battlefield muddies the issue.
Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., cast the lone dissenting vote on the overall bill.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Recipes for padded weapons?
on: May 26, 2005, 12:04:13 AM
For those of you beginning to appreciate just how much time and work can go into padded sticks, you may wish to take another look at the Actionflex that we sell here on the website
Yeah they're expensive, but we think they are really good.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: May 25, 2005, 03:06:36 PM
I don't see this one as a matter of WW3 or WW4 for that matter-- geopolitical matters certainly, but not war.
The amount of business between the US and China increases dramatically on a daily basis and I suspect that there will be a lot of people on BOTH sides of the Pacific who would regard war between us as a helluva silly way to screw up making money.
Not that this doesn't bear watching, but I am certainly not feeling apocalyptic about this one yet.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: May 25, 2005, 12:15:56 AM
Leaving the left
I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.
I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.
I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.
My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.
Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.
Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point. The time has come to walk in a different direction -- just as I did many years before.
I grew up in a northwest Ohio town where conservative was a polite term for reactionary. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of Mississippi "sweltering in the heat of oppression," he could have been describing my community, where blacks knew to keep their heads down, and animosity toward Catholics and Jews was unapologetic. Liberal and conservative, like left and right, wouldn't be part of my lexicon for a while, but when King proclaimed, "I have a dream," I instinctively cast my lot with those I later found out were liberals (then synonymous with "the left" and "progressive thought").
The people on the other side were dedicated to preserving my hometown's backward-looking status quo. This was all that my 10-year-old psyche needed to know. The knowledge carried me for a long time. Mythologies are helpful that way.
I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in 1972 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic convention.
Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, although I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.) All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.
A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.
When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.
My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.
I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.
Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.
Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.
All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.
These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.
I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left.
In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style." The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts ...).
Wait, it gets better. When actor Bill Cosby called on black parents to explain to their kids why they are not likely to get into medical school speaking English like "Why you ain't" and "Where you is," Jesse Jackson countered that the time was not yet right to "level the playing field." Why not? Because "drunk people can't do that ... illiterate people can't do that."
When self-styled pragmatic feminist Camille Paglia mocked young coeds who believe "I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's room without anything happening," Susan Estrich spoke up for gender- focused feminists who "would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing 'yes' as a sign of true consent is misguided."
I'll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America's political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today's best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback?
He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators. Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as King did when he insisted on justice for "all of God's children."
My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic.
In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders' talk -- and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.
America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.
At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, "that the ever renewing society will be a free society (whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up." A continuously renewing society, Gardner believed, is one that seeks to "foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women and give them room to breathe."
One aspect of my politics hasn't changed a bit. I became a liberal in the first place to break from the repressive group orthodoxies of my reactionary hometown.
This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness. I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.
True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.
Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.
All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.
Keith Thompson is a Petaluma writer and the author of "Angels and Aliens" and "To Be a Man." His work is at www.thompsonatlarge.com
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DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Humor
on: May 24, 2005, 06:29:06 PM
A lawyer and a blonde are sitting next to each other on a
long flight from LA to NY. The lawyer leans over to her and
asks if she would like to play a fun game. The blonde just
wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls over
to the window to catch a few winks.
The lawyer persists and explains that the game is really
easy and a lot of fun. He explains: "I ask you a question,
and if you don't know the answer, you pay me $5, and
Again, she politely declines and tries to get some sleep.
The lawyer, now somewhat agitated, says, "Okay, if you don't
know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don't know the
answer, I will pay you $50" figuring that since she is a
blonde that he will easily win the match.
This catches the blonde's attention and, figuring that there
will be no end to this torment unless she plays, she agrees
to the game.
The lawyer asks the first question: "What's the distance
from the earth to the moon?"
The blonde doesn't say a word, reaches into her purse, pulls
out a five-dollar bill and hands it to the lawyer.
Now, it's the blonde's turn. She asks the lawyer: "What goes
up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?"
The lawyer looks at her with a puzzled look.
He takes out his laptop computer and searches all his
references. He taps into the digital cellphone via wireless
connection to his modem port and searches the Net and the
Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends E-mail to all his
co-workers, friends, clients, and suppliers that he knows.
And then some. All to no avail. After over an hour, he wakes
the blonde and hands her $50. The blonde politely takes the
$50 and turns away to get back to sleep.
The lawyer, who is more than a little miffed, wakes the
blonde and asks, "Well, so what IS the answer?"
Without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the
lawyer $5, and goes back to sleep.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: May 24, 2005, 01:18:09 PM
Al Qaeda Arrests and the Hunt for Osama bin Laden
May 23, 2005 1852 GMT
The May 2 capture of senior al Qaeda leader Abu Farj al-Libi in Pakistan set off a chain reaction of militant arrests in the country -- suggesting the
net is closing in on al Qaeda's top leadership -- including Osama bin Laden.
Within days of al-Libi's arrest, Pakistani forces captured 14 other al Qaeda
suspects near the border with Afghanistan. Then, on May 18, Pakistani police in Lahore arrested Maulvi Mohammed Sadiq, who allegedly provided logistical and financial support for al Qaeda operations.
Meanwhile, as the al Qaeda network unravels in Pakistan, arrests also are
being made in the Middle East and Europe. Amar al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Abbas, a key aid to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was captured May 5 in Iraq. On May 18, authorities in northern Italy arrested three suspects with links to al Qaeda. Italian police said the suspects also are accused of dealing in false documents and drug trafficking.
Three days later, German police arrested a Palestinian living in Marburg.
The suspect, identified only as Ismail Abu S., reportedly is linked to al
Qaeda. He is the brother of Yasser Abu S., whose January arrest allegedly
foiled a plan for Yasser to fake his death in Germany and then travel to
Iraq to carry out a suicide attack against U.S. troops there. The insurance
payoff for the faked death was to be used to fund further al Qaeda
activities, according to German police.
Fraud investigations in the United States, Europe and Asia have led to the
arrest of several other al Qaeda members who allegedly have been using money laundering and document fraud to finance the network.
Several factors are working against al Qaeda at the moment. First, the close interpersonal relationships among the leadership -- which until now had spawned a loyalty that ensured operational security and personal protection-- are now becoming a detriment, as captured militants reveal details about others, as in al-Libi case has shown. Second, Pakistani intelligence officials cite a rift between al Qaeda's Arab and non-Arab members as a factor in many of the recent arrests. Captured Chechen, Uzbek and Tajik militants, officials say, have been giving up information about their Arab colleagues, which has enabled U.S. and Pakistani counterterrorism forces to close in on them.
Also, Pakistan has been changing its tone about bin Laden. Some officials
are openly saying his capture is imminent -- and even are acknowledging
cooperating with the United States in hunting him. Pakistani military
spokesperson Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said May 22 on Dubai-based ARY
television that projectiles fired by the U.S. military in Afghanistan during
offensive operations against militants had landed in Pakistani territory.
Sultan clarified that the U.S. military command in Afghanistan had notified
Islamabad in advance of the operation and of the possibility that the
projectiles would end up on Pakistani soil. In the not-so-distant past,
Islamabad would have been reluctant to acknowledge the extent of its
cooperation with Washington for fear of agitating the sizable segment of its
population that sympathizes with al Qaeda.
Perhaps most significant in the hunt for bin Laden is the U.S. State
Department program Rewards for Justice. Many of the biggest names in
international terrorism have been arrested after being informed on under
this program. Bin Laden's capture likely will be a direct result of this
program, as more high-value targets are arrested and the concentric circles of confidants around him shrink.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly
on: May 24, 2005, 01:03:26 AM
Lion Mutilates 42 Midgets in Cambodian Ring-Fight
An African Lion much like this is responsible for the death of 28 Cambodian Midgets
Spectators cheered as entire Cambodian Midget Fighting League squared off against African Lion
Tickets had been sold-out three weeks before the much anticipated fight, which took place in the city of K?mp?ng Chhn?ng.
The fight was slated when an angry fan contested Yang Sihamoni, President of the CMFL, claiming that one lion could defeat his entire league of 42 fighters.
Sihamoni takes great pride in the league he helped create, as was conveyed in his recent advertising campaign for the CMFL that stated his midgets will "... take on anything; man, beast, or machine."
This campaign is believed to be what sparked the undisclosed fan to challenge the entire league to fight a lion; a challenge that Sihamoni readily accepted.
An African Lion (Panthera Leo) was shipped to centrally located K?mp?ng Chhn?ng especially for the event, which took place last Saturday, April 30, 2005 in the city?s coliseum.
The Cambodian Government allowed the fight to take place, under the condition that they receive a 50% commission on each ticket sold, and that no cameras would be allowed in the arena.
The fight was called in only 12 minutes, after which 28 fighters were declared dead, while the other 14 suffered severe injuries including broken bones and lost limbs, rendering them unable to fight back.
Sihamoni was quoted before the fight stating that he felt since his fighters out-numbered the lion 42 to 1, that they ?? could out-wit and out-muscle [it].?
Unfortunately, he was wrong.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: May 20, 2005, 11:14:18 PM
Related to the 'nuclear option' debate below is the question of which nominees are 'extremists', in a negative sense.
What Sens. Schumer and Reid call extremists are exactly the type of jurists that candidate Bush said he would appoint. Almost 55 Senators share a similar view. By definition, a nominee chosen by an elected President and favored by a majority of senators is not far out of the mainstream, but the critics might be (IMO).
This controversial speech is cited by both sides of the Janice Rogers Brown confirmation argument. She seems to favor a market economy over a big government, collectivist system. http://www.constitution.org/col/jrb/00420_jrb_fedsoc.htm
"A Whiter Shade of Pale": Sense and Nonsense
The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics
Speech of Janice Rogers Brown,
Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
The Federalist Society
University of Chicago Law School
April 20, 2000, Thursday
Thank you. I want to thank Mr. Schlangen (fondly known as Charlie to my secretary) for extending the invitation and the Federalist Society both for giving me my first opportunity to visit the City of Chicago and for being, as Mr. Schlangen assured me in his letter of invitation, "a rare bastion (nay beacon) of conservative and libertarian thought." That latter notion made your invitation well-nigh irresistible. There are so few true conservatives left in America that we probably should be included on the endangered species list. That would serve two purposes: Demonstrating the great compassion of our government and relegating us to some remote wetlands habitat where ? out of sight and out of mind ? we will cease being a dissonance in collectivist concerto of the liberal body politic.
In truth, they need not banish us to the gulag. We are not much of a threat, lacking even a coherent language in which to state our premise. [I should pause here to explain the source of the title to this discussion. Unless you are a very old law student, you probably never heard of "A Whiter Shade of Pale."] "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is an old (circa 1967) Procol Harum song, full of nonsensical lyrics, but powerfully evocative nonetheless. Here's a sample:
"We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more.
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away.
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray."
There is something about this that forcibly reminds me of our current political circus. The last verse is even better.
"If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean...."
Sound familiar? Of course Procol Harum had an excuse. These were the 60's after all, and the lyrics were probably drug induced. What's our excuse?
One response might be that we are living in a world where words have lost their meaning. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. It seems to be an inevitable artifact of cultural disintegration. Thucydides lamented the great changes in language and life that succeeded the Pelopennesian War; Clarendon and Burke expressed similar concerns about the political transformations of their own time. It is always a disorienting experience for a member of the old guard when the entire understanding of the old world is uprooted. As James Boyd White expresses it: "n this world no one would see what he sees, respond as he responds, speak as he speaks,"1 and living in that world means surrender to the near certainty of central and fundamental changes within the self. "One cannot maintain forever one's language and judgment against the pressures of a world that works in different ways," for we are shaped by the world in which we live.2
This is a fascinating subject which we do not have time to explore more thoroughly. Suffice it to say that this phenomenon accounts for much of the near hysterical tone of current political discourse. Our problems, however, seem to go even deeper. It is not simply that the same words don't have the same meanings; in our lifetime, words are ceasing to have any meaning. The culture of the word is being extinguished by the culture of the camera. Politicians no longer have positions they have photo-ops. To be or not to be is no longer the question. The question is: how do you feel.
Writing 50 years ago, F.A. Hayek warned us that a centrally planned economy is "The Road to Serfdom."3 He was right, of course; but the intervening years have shown us that there are many other roads to serfdom. In fact, it now appears that human nature is so constituted that, as in the days of empire all roads led to Rome; in the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery. And we no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens.
It is my thesis today that the sheer tenacity of the collectivist impulse ? whether you call it socialism or communism or altruism ? has changed not only the meaning of our words, but the meaning of the Constitution, and the character of our people.
Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase. Aaron Wildavsky gives a credible account of this dynamic. Wildavsky notes that the Madisonian world has gone "topsy turvy" as factions, defined as groups "activated by some common interest adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community,"4 have been transformed into sectors of public policy. "Indeed," says Wildavsky, "government now pays citizens to organize, lawyers to sue, and politicians to run for office. Soon enough, if current trends continue, government will become self-contained, generating (apparently spontaneously) the forces to which it responds."5 That explains how, but not why. And certainly not why we are so comfortable with that result.
America's Constitution provided an 18th Century answer to the question of what to do about the status of the individual and the mode of government. Though the founders set out to establish good government "from reflection and choice,"6 they also acknowledged the "limits of reason as applied to constitutional design,"7 and wisely did not seek to invent the world anew on the basis of abstract principle; instead, they chose to rely on habits, customs, and principles derived from human experience and authenticated by tradition.
"The Framers understood that the self-interest which in the private sphere contributes to welfare of society ? both in the sense of material well-being and in the social unity engendered by commerce ? makes man a knave in the public sphere, the sphere of politics and group action. It is self-interest that leads individuals to form factions to try to expropriate the wealth of others through government and that constantly threatens social harmony."8
Collectivism sought to answer a different question: how to achieve cosmic justice ? sometimes referred to as social justice ? a world of social and economic equality. Such an ambitious proposal sees no limit to man's capacity to reason. It presupposes a community can consciously design not only improved political, economic, and social systems but new and improved human beings as well.
The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law. The greatest fiasco ? the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people. Tom Bethell notes that the security of property ? a security our Constitution sought to ensure ? had to be devalued in order for collectivism to come of age. The founders viewed private property as "the guardian of every other right."9 But, "by 1890 we find Alfred Marshall, the teacher of John Maynard Keynes making the astounding claim that the need for private property reaches no deeper than the qualities of human nature."10 A hundred years later came Milton Friedman's laconic reply: " 'I would say that goes pretty deep.'"11 In between, came the reign of socialism. "Starting with the formation of the Fabian Society and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ambitious project was the reformation of human nature. Intellectuals visualized a planned life without private property, mediated by the New Man."12 He never arrived. As John McGinnis persuasively argues:
"There is simply a mismatch between collectivism on any large and enduring scale and our evolved nature. As Edward O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants, remarked about Marxism, 'Wonderful theory. Wrong species.'"13
Ayn Rand similarly attributes the collectivist impulse to what she calls the "tribal view of man."14 She notes, "[t]he American philosophy of the Rights of Man was never fully grasped by European intellectuals. Europe's predominant idea of emancipation consisted of changing the concept of man as a slave to the absolute state embodied by the king, to the concept of man as the slave of the absolute state as embodied by 'the people' ? i.e., switching from slavery to a tribal chieftain into slavery to the tribe."15
Democracy and capitalism seem to have triumphed. But, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of celebrating capitalism's virtues, we offer it grudging acceptance, contemptuous tolerance but only for its capacity to feed the insatiable maw of socialism. We do not conclude that socialism suffers from a fundamental and profound flaw. We conclude instead that its ends are worthy of any sacrifice ? including our freedom. Revel notes that Marxism has been "shamed and ridiculed everywhere except American universities" but only after totalitarian systems "reached the limits of their wickedness."16
"Socialism concentrated all the wealth in the hands of an oligarchy in the name of social justice, reduced peoples to misery in the name of shar[ed] resources, to ignorance in the name of science. It created the modern world's most inegalitarian societies in the name of equality, the most vast network of concentration camps ever built [for] the defense of liberty."17
Revel warns: "The totalitarian mind can reappear in some new and unexpected and seemingly innocuous and indeed virtuous form. [?]... t ... will [probably] put itself forward under the cover of a generous doctrine, humanitarian, inspired by a concern for giving the disadvantaged their fair share, against corruption, and pollution, and 'exclusion.'"18
Of course, given the vision of the American Revolution just outlined, you might think none of that can happen here. I have news for you. It already has. The revolution is over. What started in the 1920's; became manifest in 1937; was consolidated in the 1960's; is now either building to a crescendo or getting ready to end with a whimper.
At this moment, it seems likely leviathan will continue to lumber along, picking up ballast and momentum, crushing everything in its path. Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.
But what if anything does this have to do with law? Quite a lot, I think. In America, the national conversation will probably always include rhetoric about the rule of law. I have argued that collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country's founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document. In his famous, all too famous, dissent in Lochner, Justice Holmes wrote that the "constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the State or of laissez faire."19 Yes, one of the greatest (certainly one of the most quotable) jurists this nation has ever produced; but in this case, he was simply wrong. That Lochner dissent has troubled me ? has annoyed me ? for a long time and finally I understand why. It's because the framers did draft the
Constitution with a surrounding sense of a particular polity in mind, one based on a definite conception of humanity. In fact as Professor Richard Epstein has said, Holmes's contention is "not true of our [ ] [Constitution], which was organized upon very explicit principles of political theory."20 It could be characterized as a plan for humanity "after the fall."
There is nothing new, of course, in the idea that the framers did not buy into the notion of human perfectibility. And the document they drafted and the nation adopted in 1789 is shot through with provisions that can only be understood against the supposition that humanity's capacity for evil and tyranny is quite as real and quite as great as its capacity for reason and altruism. Indeed, as noted earlier, in politics, the framers may have envisioned the former tendency as the stronger, especially in the wake of the country's experience under the Articles of Confederation. The fear of "factions," of an "encroaching tyranny"; the need for ambition to counter ambition"; all of these concerns identified in the Federalist Papers have stratagems designed to defend against them in the Constitution itself. We needed them, the framers were convinced, because "angels do not govern"; men do.
It was a quite opposite notion of humanity, of its fundamental nature and capacities, that animated the great concurrent event in the West in 1789 ? the revolution in France. Out of that revolutionary holocaust ? intellectually an improbable melding of Rousseau with Descartes ? the powerful notion of abstract human rights was born. At the risk of being skewered by historians of ideas, I want to suggest that the belief in and the impulse toward human perfection, at least in the political life of a nation, is an idea whose arc can be traced from the Enlightenment, through the Terror, to Marx and Engels, to the Revolutions of 1917 and 1937. The latter date marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution. All of these events were manifestations of a particularly skewed view of human nature and the nature of human reason. To the extent the Enlightenment sought to substitute the paradigm of reason for faith, custom or tradition, it failed to provide rational explanation of the significance of human life. It thus
led, in a sort of ultimate irony, to the repudiation of reason and to a full-fledged flight from truth ? what Revel describes as "an almost pathological indifference to the truth."21
There were obviously urgent economic and social reasons driving not only the political culture but the constitutional culture in the mid-1930's ? though it was actually the mistakes of governments (closed borders, high tariffs, and other protectionist measures) that transformed a "momentary breakdown into an international cataclysm."22 The climate of opinion favoring collectivist social and political solutions had a worldwide dimension.
Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and effected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century. Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers' conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests. Because the only way to come to terms with an enduring Constitution is to believe that the human condition is itself enduring.
For complex reasons, attempts to impose a collectivist political solution in the United States failed. But, the political failure was of little practical concern, in a way that is oddly unappreciated, that same impulse succeeded within the judiciary, especially in the federal high court. The idea of abstract rights, government entitlements as the most significant form of property, is well suited to conditions of economic distress and the emergence of a propertyless class. But the economic convulsions of the late 1920's and early 1930's passed away; the doctrinal underpinnings of West Coast Hotel and the "switch in time" did not. Indeed, over the next half century it consumed much of the classical conception of the Constitution.
So secure were the intellectual underpinnings of the constitutional revolution, so self-evident the ambient cultural values of the policy elite who administered it, that the object of the high court's jurisprudence was largely devoted to the construction of a system for ranking the constitutional weight to be given contending social interests.
In the New Deal/Great Society era, a rule that was the polar opposite of the classical era of American law reigned. A judicial subjectivity whose very purpose was to do away with objective gauges of constitutionality, with universal principles, the better to give the judicial priesthood a free hand to remake the Constitution. After a handful of gross divisions reflecting the hierarchy of the elite's political values had been drawn (personal vs. economic rights, for example), the task was to construct a theoretical system, not of social or cultural norms, but of abstract constitutional weight a given interest merits ? strict or rational basis scrutiny. The rest, the identification of underlying, extraconstitutional values, consisted of judicial tropes and a fortified rhetoric.
Protection of property was a major casualty of the Revolution of 1937. The paradigmatic case, written by that premiere constitutional operative, William O. Douglas, is Williamson v. Lee Optical.23 The court drew a line between personal rights and property rights or economic interests, and applied two different constitutional tests. Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status.24 If the right asserted was economic, the court held the Legislature could do anything it pleased. Judicial review for alleged constitutional infirmities under the due process clause was virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, if the right was personal and "fundamental," review was intolerably strict. "From the Progressive era to the New Deal, [ ] property was by degrees ostracized from the company of rights.25 Something new, called economic rights, began to supplant the old property rights. This change, which occurred with remarkably little fanfare, was staggeringly significant. With the advent of "economic right
s," the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new "rights" imposed obligations, not limits, on the state.
It thus became government's job not to protect property but, rather, to regulate and redistribute it. And, the epic proportions of the disaster which has befallen millions of people during the ensuing decades has not altered our fervent commitment to statism. The words of Judge Alex Kozinski, written in 1991, are not very encouraging." 'What we have learned from the experience of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union ... is that you need capitalism to make socialism work.' In other words, capitalism must produce what socialism is to distribute."26 Are the signs and portents any better at the beginning of a new century?
Has the constitutional Zeitgeist that has reigned in the United States since the beginning of the Progressive Era come to its conclusion? And if it has, what will replace it? I wish I knew the answer to these questions. It is true ? in the words of another old song: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."27
The oracles point in all directions at once. Political polls suggest voters no longer desire tax cuts. But, taxpayers who pay the largest proportion of taxes are now a minority of all voters. On the other hand, until last term the Supreme Court held out the promising possibility of a revival of what might be called Lochnerism-lite in a trio of cases ? Nollan, Dolan, and Lucas, Those cases offered a principled but pragmatic means-end standard of scrutiny under the takings clause.
But there are even deeper movements afoot. Tectonic plates are shifting and the resulting cataclysm may make 1937 look tame.
Lionel Tiger, in a provocative new book called The Decline of Males, posits a brilliant and disturbing new paradigm. He notes we used to think of a family as a man, a woman, and a child. Now, a remarkable new family pattern has emerged which he labels "bureaugamy." A new trinity: a woman, a child, and a bureaucrat."28 Professor Tiger contends that most, if not all, of the gender gap that elected Bill Clinton to a second term in 1996 is explained by this phenomenon. According to Tiger, women moved in overwhelming numbers to the Democratic party as the party most likely to implement policies and programs which will support these new reproductive strategies.
Professor Tiger is not critical of these strategies. He views this trend as the triumph of reproduction over production; the triumph of Darwinism over Marxism; and he advocates broad political changes to accommodate it.
Others do not see these changes as quite so benign or culturally neutral. Jacques Barzan finds the Central Western notion of emancipation has been devalued. It has now come to mean that "nothing stands in the way of every wish."29 The result is a decadent age ? an era in which "there are no clear lines of advance"; "when people accept futility and the absurd as normal[,] the culture is decadent."30
Stanley Rosen defines "our present crisis as a fatigue induced by ... accumulated decisions of so many revolutions."31 He finds us, in the spirit of Pascal, knowing "too much to be ignorant and too little to be wise."32
I will close with a story I like a lot. It's a true story. It happened on June 10, 1990. A British Airways jet bound for Malaga, Spain, took off from Birmingham, England. It was expected to be a routine flight. As the jet climbed through the 23,000-foot level, there was a loud bang; the cockpit windshield directly in front of the captain blew out. The sudden decompression sucked Captain Lancaster out of his seatbelt and into the hole left by the windscreen. A steward who happened to be in the cockpit managed to snag the captain's feet as he hurtled past. Another steward rushed onto the flight deck, strapped himself into the captain's chair and, helped by other members of the crew, clung with all his strength to the captain. The slipstream was so fierce, they were unable to drag the pilot back into the plane. His clothing was ripped from his body. With Lancaster plastered against the nose of the jet, the co-pilot donned an oxygen mask and flew the plane to Southampton ?approximately 15 minutes away ? and lande
d safely. The captain had a fractured elbow, wrist and thumb; a mild case of frostbite, but was otherwise unharmed.
We find ourselves, like the captain, in a situation that is hopeless but not yet desperate. The arcs of history, culture, philosophy, and science all seem to be converging on this temporal instant. Familiar arrangements are coming apart; valuable things are torn from our hands, snatched away by the decompression of our fragile ark of culture. But, it is too soon to despair. The collapse of the old system may be the crucible of a new vision. We must get a grip on what we can and hold on. Hold on with all the energy and imagination and ferocity we possess. Hold on even while we accept the darkness. We know not what miracles may happen; what heroic possibilities exist. We may be only moments away from a new dawn.
1 James Boyd White, When Words Lose Their Meaning (Univ. of Chicago Press 1984) p. 4.
3 F. A, Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Univ. of Chicago Press 1994).
4 Golembiewski & Wildavsky, The Cost of Federalism (1984) Bare Bones: Putting Flesh on the Skeleton of American Federalism 67, 73.
6 Hamilton, The Federalist Papers No. 1 (Rossiter ed. 1961) p. 33.
7 Michael W. Spicer, Public Administration and the Constitution: A Conflict in World Views (March 1, 1994) 24 American R. of Public Admin. 85 [1994 WL 2806423 at *10].
8 John O. McGinnis, The Original Constitution and Our Origins (1996) 19 Harv. J.L.& Pub. Policy 251, 253.
9 Tom Bethell, Property Rights, Prosperity and 1,000 Years of Lessons, The Wall Street J. (Dec. 27, 1999) p. A19.
13 John O. McGinnis, The Original Constitution and Our Origins, supra, 19 Harv. J. L.& Pub. Policy at p. 258.
14 Ayn Rand, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal (New American Lib. 1966) pp. 4-5.
16 Jean Francois Revel, Democracy Against Itself (The Free Press 1993) pp. 250-251.
17 Id. at p. 251.
18 Id. at pp. 250-251.
19 (198 U.S. at p. 75.)
20 Clint Bolick, Unfinished Business (1990) p. 25, quoting Crisis in the Courts (1982) The Manhattan Report on Economic Policy, Vol. V, No. 2, p. 4.
21 Jean Francois Revel, The Flight From Truth (Random House N.Y. 1991) p. xvi.
22 Id. at p. xxxvii.
23 348 U.S. 483.
24 Tom Bethell, The Noblest Triumph (St. Martin's Griffin, N.Y. 1998) p. 175.
25 Id. at p. 176.
26 Alex Kozinski, The Dark Lesson of Utopia (1991) 58 U.Chi. L.R. 575, 576.
27 Buffalo Springfield, For What It's Worth (1966).
28 Lionel Tiger, The Decline of Males (Golden Books, N.Y. 1999) pp. 21, 27.
29 Edward Rothstein, N.Y. Times (April 15, 2000) p. A l7.
31 Stanley Rosen, Rethinking the Enlightenment (1997) 7 Common Knowledge, p. 104.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: May 19, 2005, 06:15:33 PM
May 17, 2005, 1:07 p.m.
The Smug Delusion of Base Expectations
Count me out of the Newsweek feeding frenzy.
We're in the grips of a pathology. And it's not media bias.
Here's the late-breaking news (you'll want to be sitting down for this): The mainstream media is ideologically liberal and instinctually hostile to George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy, and the American military.
No kidding. Really. If you want to throw the off-switch for the cognitive part of your brain- as many conservatives seem only to happy to do this week- then, by all means, that is the story you want to run with in this latest media scandal.
Newsweek, in reckless pursuit of a scoop that might score the daily double of embarrassing the Bush administration while heaping more disrepute on the Left's favorite punching bag, Guantanamo Bay, falsely reported a martial toilet-flushing of the Koran. Oops, I'm sorry, I mean the Holy Koran- after all, I don't want to be left out of the new, vast right-wing "we can be just as nauseatingly pious as they can" conspiracy.
The false report, according to the New York Times, instigated "the most virulent, widespread anti-American protests" in the Muslim world since...well, since the last virulent, widespread anti-American protests in the Muslim world- particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where at least 17 people have been killed.
That's right. The reason for the carnage is said- again and again, by media critics and government officials- to be a false report of Koran desecration. The prime culprit here is irresponsible journalism.
Is that what we really think?
Here's an actual newsflash- and one, yet again, that should be news to no one: The reason for the carnage here was, and is, militant Islam. Nothing more.
Newsweek merely gave the crazies their excuse du jour. But they didn't need a report of Koran desecration to fly jumbo jets into skyscrapers, to blow up embassies, or to behead hostages taken for the great sin of being Americans or Jews. They didn't need a report of Koran desecration to take to the streets and blame the United States while enthusiastically taking innocent lives. This is what they do.
The outpouring of righteous indignation against Newsweek glides past a far more important point. Yes, we're all sick of media bias. But "Newsweek lied and people died" is about as worthy a slogan as the scurrilous "Bush lied and people died" that it parrots. And when we engage in this kind of mindless demagoguery, we become just another opportunistic plaintiff-- no better than the people all too ready to blame the CIA because Mohammed Atta steered a hijacked civilian airliner into a big building, and to sue the Port Authority because the building had the audacity to collapse from the blow.
What are we saying here? That the problem lies in the falsity of Newsweek's reporting? What if the report had been true? And, if you're being honest with yourself, you cannot say-- based on common sense and even ignoring what we know happened at Abu Ghraib-- that you didn't think it was conceivably possible the report could have been true. Flushing the Koran down a toilet (assuming for argument's sake that our environmentally correct, 3.6-liters-per-flush toilets are capable of such a feat) is a bad thing. But rioting? Seventeen people killed? That's a rational response?
Sorry, but I couldn't care less about Newsweek. I'm more worried about the response and our willful avoidance of its examination. Afghanistan has been an American reconstruction project for nearly four years. Pakistan has been a close American "war on terror" ally for just as long. This is what we're getting from the billions spent, the lives lost, and the grand project of exporting nonjudgmental, sharia-friendly democracy? A killing spree? Over this?
In the affirmative-action context, conservatives have written trenchantly about the "soft bigotry of low expectations" - the promotion of a vile dependency-ethos that says "you don't need to strive for better," as a result of which many people who might, don't. Our cognate sense of the Islamic world has become the smug delusion of base expectations.
Someone alleges a Koran flushing and what do we do? We expect, accept, and silently tolerate militant Muslim savagery and lots of it. We become the hangin' judge for the imbeciles whose negligence "triggered" the violence, but offer no judgment about the societal dysfunction that allows this grade of offense to trigger so cataclysmic a reaction. We hop on our high horses having culled from the Left's playbook the most politically correct palaver about the inviolable sanctity of Holy Islamic scripture (and never you mind those verses about annihilating the infidels - the ones being chanted by the killers). And we suspend disbelief, insisting that things would be just fine in a place like Gaza if we could only set up a democracy - a development which, there, appears poised to empower Hamas, terrorists of the same ilk as those in Afghanistan and Pakistan who see comparatively minor indignities as license to commit murder.
"Minor indignities? How can you say something so callous about a desecration of the Holy Koran?" I say it as a member of the real world, not the world of prissy affectation. I don't know about you, but I inhabit a place where crucifixes immersed in urine and Madonna replicas composed of feces are occasions for government funding, not murderous uprisings. If someone was moved to kill on their account, we'd be targeting the killer, not the exhibiting museum, not the "artists," and surely not Newsweek.
I inhabit a world in which my government seeks accommodation with Saudi Arabia and China and Egypt, places where the practice of Christianity results in imprisonment...or worse; in which Jews have been driven from almost every country in the Middle East, and in which the goal of destroying their country, Israel, is viewed by much of the globe as legitimate foreign policy; and in which being a Christian, an animist, or the wrong kind of Muslim in Sudan is grounds for genocide ? something the vaunted United Nations seems to regard as more of a spectator sport than a cause of action.
In my world, militant Muslims, capitalizing on the respectful deference of others, have been known tactically to desecrate the Koran themselves: by rigging it with explosives, by using it to secrete and convey terrorist messages, and, yes, even by toilet-flushing parts of it for the nuisance value of flooding the bathrooms at Guantanamo Bay. Just as they have used mosques as sanctuaries, as weapons depots, and as snipers' nests.
There's a problem here. But it's not insensitivity, and it's not media bias. Those things are condemnable, but manageable. The real problem here is a culture that either cannot or will not rein in a hate ideology that fuels killing. When we go after Newsweek, we're giving it a pass. Again.
Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
'NEWSWEEK DISSEMBLED, MUSLIMS DISMEMBERED!' By Ann Coulter
Wed May 18, 7:01 PM ET
When ace reporter Michael Isikoff had the scoop of the decade, a thoroughly sourced story about the president of the United States having an affair with an intern and then pressuring her to lie about it under oath, Newsweek decided not to run the story. Matt Drudge scooped Newsweek, followed by The Washington Post.
When Isikoff had a detailed account of Kathleen Willey's nasty sexual encounter with the president in the Oval Office, backed up with eyewitness and documentary evidence, Newsweek decided not to run it. Again, Matt Drudge got the story.
When Isikoff was the first with detailed reporting on Paula Jones' accusations against a sitting president, Isikoff's then-employer The Washington Post -- which owns Newsweek -- decided not to run it. The American Spectator got the story, followed by the Los Angeles Times.
So apparently it's possible for Michael Isikoff to have a story that actually is true, but for his editors not to run it.
Why no pause for reflection when Isikoff had a story about American interrogators at Guantanamo flushing the Quran down the toilet? Why not sit on this story for, say, even half as long as NBC News sat on Lisa Meyers' highly credible account of Bill Clinton raping Juanita Broaddrick?
Newsweek seems to have very different responses to the same reporter's scoops. Who's deciding which of Isikoff's stories to run and which to hold? I note that the ones that Matt Drudge runs have turned out to be more accurate -- and interesting! -- than the ones Newsweek runs. Maybe Newsweek should start running everything past Matt Drudge.
Somehow Newsweek missed the story a few weeks ago about Saudi Arabia arresting 40 Christians for "trying to spread their poisonous religious beliefs." But give the American media a story about American interrogators defacing the Quran, and journalists are so appalled there's no time for fact-checking -- before they dash off to see the latest exhibition of "Piss Christ."
Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas justified Newsweek's decision to run the incendiary anti-U.S. story about the Quran, saying that "similar reports from released detainees" had already run in the foreign press -- "and in the Arab news agency al-Jazeera."
Is there an adult on the editorial board of Newsweek? Al-Jazeera also broadcast a TV miniseries last year based on the "Protocols of the Elders Of Zion." (I didn't see it, but I hear James Brolin was great!) Al-Jazeera has run programs on the intriguing question, "Is Zionism worse than Nazism?" (Take a wild guess where the consensus was on this one.) It runs viewer comments about Jews being descended from pigs and apes. How about that for a Newsweek cover story, Evan? You're covered -- al-Jazeera has already run similar reports!
Ironically, among the reasons Newsweek gave for killing Isikoff's Lewinsky bombshell was that Evan Thomas was worried someone might get hurt. It seems that Lewinsky could be heard on tape saying that if the story came out, "I'll (expletive) kill myself."
But Newsweek couldn't wait a moment to run a story that predictably ginned up Islamic savages into murderous riots in Afghanistan, leaving hundreds injured and 16 dead. Who could have seen that coming? These are people who stone rape victims to death because the family "honor" has been violated and who fly planes into American skyscrapers because -- wait, why did they do that again?
Come to think of it, I'm not sure it's entirely fair to hold Newsweek responsible for inciting violence among people who view ancient Buddhist statues as outrageous provocation -- though I was really looking forward to finally agreeing with Islamic loonies about something. (Bumper sticker idea for liberals: News magazines don't kill people, Muslims do.) But then I wouldn't have sat on the story of the decade because of the empty threats of a drama queen gas-bagging with her friend on the telephone between spoonfuls of Haagen-Dazs.
No matter how I look at it, I can't grasp the editorial judgment that kills Isikoff's stories about a sitting president molesting the help and obstructing justice, while running Isikoff's not particularly newsworthy (or well-sourced) story about Americans desecrating a Quran at Guantanamo.
Even if it were true, why not sit on it? There are a lot of reasons the media withhold even true facts from readers. These include:
A drama queen nitwit exclaimed she'd kill herself. (Evan Thomas' reason for holding the Lewinsky story.)
The need for "more independent reporting." (Newsweek President Richard Smith explaining why Newsweek sat on the Lewinsky story even though the magazine had Lewinsky on tape describing the affair.)
"We were in Havana." (ABC president David Westin explaining why "Nightline" held the Lewinsky story.)
Unavailable for comment. (Michael Oreskes, New York Times Washington bureau chief, in response to why, the day The Washington Post ran the Lewinsky story, the Times ran a staged photo of Clinton meeting with the Israeli president on its front page.)
Protecting the privacy of an alleged rape victim even when the accusation turns out to be false.
Protecting an accused rapist even when the accusation turns out to be true if the perp is a Democratic president most journalists voted for.
Protecting a reporter's source.
How about the media adding to the list of reasons not to run a news item: "Protecting the national interest"? If journalists don't like the ring of that, how about this one: "Protecting ourselves before the American people rise up and lynch us for our relentless anti-American stories."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA SEMINAR: DAYTON OH This weekend!
on: May 19, 2005, 11:08:32 AM
In a crafty bit of marketing (not) I have neglected to post here on the forum about this seminar until just now.
Guru Jeff Brown hosting.
Dog Jeff is one of the two people I have worked most with our "Kali Tudo" (tm) and so we will probably work that a bit as well as SIW (Short Impact Weapons) vs Empty Hand-- e.g. a palm stick against the neighborhood Tank Abbott.
Always great fun to be with my good friend Jeff.
PS: Tulisan, thanks for spotting the error on the area code-- it is now corrected.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Camp 5/14-15: Short Impact Weapons
on: May 19, 2005, 11:03:20 AM
Thanks for all the kind words-- they put a wag in my tail.
I love what I do and weekends like this are my idea of a really good time.
Welcome to the DBMAA "isthereadog?". We'll be seeing you over at the Members's site I trust , , ,
Thanks Dog Corey for the kettlebells and the "Thor's hammer". Although i haven't tried the TH yet, I have begun exploring the KB. Indeed I used one as a means of warming up for sparring yesterday at RAW-- very quick and efficient!
Argyll, a pleasure meeting you and thank you for the legal pieces-- very useful to me.
Vigil-- I know what you mean by looking around the gym and realizing that the place is full of people you have seen fight. BTW, Vladamir Matyushenko (along with Coach Rico) are in Brazil at the moment for his fight this weekend. Frank has been very helpful to me-- indeed his unmatched lead striking game is, with his blessing, something we draw upon in our to-be-finished-tomorrow-with-any-luck "Kali Tudo" (tm) double disc DVD
We call the two techniques shown "Triggonometry 101 and 102"
The Adventure continues!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: May 18, 2005, 01:29:13 PM
Jose M. Lopez, 94; Battle of the Bulge Hero Killed 100 German Soldiers
By Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer
Jose M. Lopez, the nation's oldest remaining Latino recipient of the Medal of Honor, who earned the award for single-handedly killing more than 100 German soldiers in a skirmish during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, has died. He was 94.
Lopez died Monday of cancer at the San Antonio home of his daughter, Maggie Wickwire. He had lived in San Antonio since 1973.
On Dec. 17, 1944, the 5-foot-5, 130-pound sergeant was on a snowy patch of ground near Krinkelt, Belgium, when he saw that German tanks and infantry were about to overrun his company. He lugged his heavy Browning machine gun into a shallow hole and started firing, first killing 10 enemy soldiers and then another 25. As the Germans kept coming, Lopez changed positions repeatedly, praying to the Virgin of Guadalupe that he be spared. He stopped shooting only when he ran out of ammunition, and killed so many enemy soldiers that officials stopped counting after 100.
"Sgt. Lopez's gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy," his citation read when President Harry S. Truman presented him the Medal of Honor on June 18, 1945, "were almost solely responsible for allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive."
Modest and self-effacing, Lopez told the San Antonio Express-News in 2001, "You learn to protect the line and do the best you can with the ammunition you have, and I did it."
More than a decade ago, the retired sergeant was one of 10 veterans who returned to their World War II battlefields with Bill Moyers to film the 1990 PBS documentary "From D-Day to the Rhine."
Although Lopez candidly discussed his battlefield terror in the documentary, he also told Moyers: "I believe any man would do the same thing."
At war's end, Lopez remained in the Army and went on to serve two combat tours in Korea. After his military career, he worked for the Veterans Administration.
Although military records list Lopez's official birthplace as Mission, Texas, he was born in the mountain village of Santiago Huitlan, Mexico. He acquired the Texas birthplace listing in 1935 when he bought a false birth certificate to join the Merchant Marine. Orphaned at 8, Lopez lived with a teenage uncle in Mexico and at 13 hitchhiked to Brownsville, Texas, where another uncle lived. He spent several of his teen years picking cotton in the Rio Grande Valley and hopping freight trains to find work around the country.
The scrappy youth happened into a professional boxing career when a promoter saw him win a street brawl in Atlanta. From 1927 to 1934 Lopez was a lightweight billed as Kid Mendoza, building a record of 52 wins and only three losses. He retired from the ring after losing to British fighter Jacque Burgess in Melbourne, Australia, telling the San Antonio Express-News decades later, "I just didn't want to fight anymore."
The boxing career instilled in him a lifelong appreciation for fitness, and he continued to work out three times a week until a few months ago.
Lopez spent six years in the Merchant Marine, leaving Hawaii only three days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Returning to the mainland, he barely escaped arrest when California authorities mistook him for a Japanese man. The following April, Lopez, then 31, enlisted in the Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Evolutionary Biology and Psychology
on: May 18, 2005, 12:46:08 AM
Inventing Our Evolution
We're almost able to build better human beings. But are we ready?
Monday, May 16, 2005; A01
The surge of innovation that has given the world everything from iPods to talking cars is now turning inward, to our own minds and bodies. In an adaptation from his new book, Washington Post staff writer Joel Garreau looks at the impact of the new technology.
Some changes in what it means to be human:
? Matthew Nagel, 25, can move objects with his thoughts. The paralyzed former high school football star, whose spinal cord was severed in a stabbing incident, has a jack coming out of the right side of his skull. Sensors in his brain can read his neurons as they fire. These are connected via computer to a robotic hand. When he thinks about moving his hand, the artificial thumb and forefinger open and close. Researchers hope this technology will, within our lifetimes, allow the wheelchair-bound to walk. The military hopes it will allow pilots to fly jets using their minds.
? Around the country, companies such as Memory Pharmaceuticals, Sention, Helicon Therapeutics, Saegis Pharmaceuticals and Cortex Pharmaceuticals are racing to bring memory-enhancing drugs to market before the end of this decade. If clinical trials continue successfully, these pills could be a bigger pharmaceutical bonanza than Viagra. Not only do they hold the promise of banishing the senior moments of aging baby boomers; they might improve the SAT scores of kids by 200 points or more.
? At the Defense Sciences Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, programs seek to modify the metabolisms of soldiers so as to allow them to function efficiently without sleep or even food for as much as a week. For shorter periods, they might even be able to survive without oxygen. Another program seeks to allow soldiers to stop bleeding by focusing their thoughts on the wound. Yet another program is investigating ways to allow veterans to regrow blown-off arms and legs, like salamanders.
Traditionally, human technologies have been aimed outward, to control our environment, resulting in, for example, clothing, agriculture, cities and airplanes. Now, however, we have started aiming our technologies inward. We are transforming our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities and our progeny. Serious people, including some at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, consider such modification of what it means to be human to be a radical evolution -- one that we direct ourselves. They expect it to be in full flower in the next 10 to 20 years.
"The next frontier," says Gregory Stock, director of the Program on Medicine, Technology and Society at the UCLA School of Medicine, "is our own selves."
The process has already begun. Prozac and its ilk modify personality. Viagra alters metabolism. You can see deep change in the basics of biology most clearly, however, wherever you find the keenest competition. Sport is a good example.
"The current doping agony," says John Hoberman, a University of Texas authority on performance drugs, "is a kind of very confused referendum on the future of human enhancement." Some athletes today look grotesque. Curt Schilling, the All-Star pitcher, in 2002 talked to Sports Illustrated about the major leagues. "Guys out there look like Mr. Potato Head, with a head and arms and six or seven body parts that just don't look right."
Steroids are merely a primitive form of human enhancement, however. H. Lee Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the recent Athens Olympics may have been the last without genetically enhanced athletes. His researchers have created super-muscled "Schwarzenegger rats." They're built like steers, with necks wider than their heads. They live longer and recover more quickly from injuries than do their unenhanced comrades. Sweeney sees it as only a matter of time before such technology seeps into the sports world.
Human enhancement is hardly limited to sport. In 2003, President Bush signed a $3.7 billion bill to fund research at the molecular level that could lead to medical robots traveling the human bloodstream to fight cancer or fat cells. At the University of Pennsylvania, ordinary male mouse embryo cells are being transformed into egg cells. If this science works in humans, it could open the way for two gay males to make a baby -- blurring the standard model of parenthood. In 2004, a new technology for the first time allowed women to beat the biological clock. Portions of their ovaries, frozen when they are young and fertile, can be reimplanted in their sixties, seventies or eighties, potentially allowing them to bear children then.
The genetic, robotic and nano-technologies creating such dramatic change are accelerating as quickly as has information technology for the past four decades. The rapid development of all these fields is intertwined.
It was in 1965 that Gordon E. Moore, director of Fairchild's Research and Development Laboratories, noted, in an article for the 35th-anniversary issue of Electronics magazine, that the complexity of "minimum cost semiconductor components" had been doubling every year since the first prototype microchip was produced six years before. And he predicted this doubling would continue every year for the next 10 years.
Carver Mead, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, would come to christen this claim "Moore's Law."
Over time it has been modified. As the core faith of the entire global computer industry, it is now stated this way: The power of information technology will double every 18 months, for as far as the eye can see.
Sure enough, in 2002, the 27th doubling occurred right on schedule with a billion-transistor chip. A doubling is an amazing thing. It means the next step is as great as all the previous steps put together. Twenty-seven consecutive doublings of anything man-made, an increase of well over 100 million times-- especially in so short a period -- is unprecedented in human history.
This is exponential change. It's a curve that goes straight up.
Optimists say that culture and values can control the impact of these advances.
"You have to make a distinction between the science and the technological applications," says Francis Fukuyama, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics and director of the Human Biotechnology Governance Project. "It's probably true that in terms of the basic science, it's pretty hard to stop that. It's not one guy in a laboratory somewhere. But not everything that is scientifically possible will actually be technologically implemented and used on a large scale. In the case of human cloning, there's an abstract possibility that people will want to do that, but the number of people who are going to want to take the risk is going to be awfully small."
Taboos will play an important role, Fukuyama says. "We could really speed up the whole process of drug improvement if we did not have all the rules on human experimentation. If companies were allowed to use clinical trials in Third World countries, paying a lot of poor people to take risks that you wouldn't take in a developed country, we could speed up technology quickly. But because of the Holocaust -- "
Fukuyama thinks the school of hard knocks will slow down a lot of attempts. "People may in the abstract say that they're willing to take that risk. But the moment you have a deformed baby born as a result of someone trying to do some genetic modification, I think there will be a really big backlash against it."
Today, nonetheless, we are surrounded by the practical effects of this curve of exponential technological change. IBM this year fired up a new machine called Blue Gene/L. It is ultimately expected to be 1,000 times as powerful as Deep Blue, the machine that beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. "If this computer unlocks the mystery of how proteins fold, it will be an important milestone in the future of medicine and health care," said Paul M. Horn, senior vice president of IBM Research, when the project was announced.
Proteins control all cellular processes in the body. They fold into highly complex, three-dimensional shapes that determine their function. Even the slightest change in the folding process can turn a desirable protein into an agent of disease. Blue Gene/L is intended to investigate how. Thus, breakthroughs in computers today are creating breakthroughs in biology. "One day, you're going to be able to walk into a doctor's office and have a computer analyze a tissue sample, identify the pathogen that ails you, and then instantly prescribe a treatment best suited to your specific illness and individual genetic makeup," Horn said.
What's remarkable, then, is not this computer's speed but our ability to use it to open new vistas in entirely different fields -- in this case, the ability to change how our bodies work at the most basic level. This is possible because at a thousand trillion operations per second, this computer might have something approaching the raw processing power of the human brain.
Nathan Myhrvold, the former technology chief of Microsoft, points out that it cost $12 billion to sequence the first human genome. You will soon be able to get your own done for $10, he expects.
If an implant in a paralyzed man's head can read his thoughts, if genes can be manipulated into better versions of themselves, the line between the engineered and the born begins to blur.
For example, in Silicon Valley, there is a biotech company called Rinat Neuroscience. DARPA provided critical early funding for its "pain vaccine," a substance designed to block intense pain in less than 10 seconds. Its effects last for 30 days. Tests show it doesn't stifle reactions. If you touch a hot stove, your hand will still automatically jerk away. But after that, the torment is greatly reduced. The product works on the inflammatory response that is responsible for the majority of subacute pain. If you get shot, you feel the bullet, but after that, the inflammation and swelling that trigger agony are substantially reduced. The company is deep into animal testing, is preparing reports for scientific conferences, and has now attracted venture capital funding.
Another DARPA program, originally christened Regenesis, started with the observation that if you cut off the tail of a tadpole, the tail will regrow. If you cut off an appendage of an adult frog, however, it won't, because certain genetic signals have been switched off. This process is carried out by a mass of undifferentiated cells called a blastema, also called a regeneration bud. The bud has the capability to develop into an organ or an appendage, if it gets the right signals. Early results in mice indicate that such blastemas might be generated in humans. The program, now called Restorative Injury Repair, is aimed at allowing regrowth of a blown-off hand or a breast removed in a mastectomy. (Instances of amputated fingertips regenerating in children under 12 have long been noted in scientific journals.) "We had it; we lost it; we need to find it again" was Regenesis's original slogan.
Snooze and Lose?
There are three groups of people usually attracted to any new enhancement. In order, they are the sick, the otherwise healthy with a critical need, and the enterprising. This became immediately obvious when a drug called modafinil entered the market earlier this decade. It is intended to shut off the urge to sleep, without the jitter, buzz, euphoria, crash, or potential for paranoid delusion of stimulants such as amphetamines, cocaine or even caffeine.
The FDA originally approved modafinil for narcoleptics who fall asleep frequently and uncontrollably. But this widely available prescription drug, with the trade name Provigil, immediately was tested on healthy young U.S. Army helicopter pilots. It allowed them to stay up safely for almost two days while remaining practically as focused, alert and capable of dealing with complex problems as the well rested. Then, after a good eight hours' sleep, it turned out they could get up and do it again for another 40 hours, before finally catching up on their sleep.
But it's the future of the third group -- the millions who, in the immortal words of Kiss, "wanna rock-and-roll all night and party every day" -- that holds the potential for changing society. Will people feel that they need to routinely control their sleep in order to be competitive? Will unenhanced people get fewer promotions and raises than their modified colleagues? Will this start an arms race over human consciousness?
Consider the case of a little boy born in Germany at the turn of this century. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, his doctors immediately noticed he had unusually large muscles bulging from his tiny arms and legs. By the time he was 4 1/2 , it was clear that he was extraordinarily strong. Most children his age can lift about one pound with each arm. He could hold a seven-pound dumbbell aloft with each outstretched hand. He is the first human confirmed to have a genetic variation that builds extraordinary muscles. If the effect can be duplicated, it could treat or cure muscle-wasting diseases.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals is testing a drug designed to do just that as a treatment for the most common form of muscular dystrophy. Will athletes try to exploit the discovery to enhance their abilities?
"Athletes find a way of using just about anything," says Elizabeth M. McNally of the University of Chicago, who wrote an article accompanying the findings in the New England Journal of Medicine. "This, unfortunately, is no exception."
Views of the Future
Ray Kurzweil, an artificial-intelligence pioneer and winner of the National Medal of Technology, shrugs at the controversy over the use of stem cells from human embryos: "All the political energy that has gone into this issue -- it is not even slowing down the most narrow approach." It is simply being pursued outside the United States -- in China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Scandinavia and Great Britain, where scientists will probably achieve success first, he notes.
In the next couple of decades, Kurzweil predicts, life expectancy will rise to at least 120 years. Most diseases will be prevented or reversed. Drugs will be individually tailored to a person's DNA. Robots smaller than blood cells -- nanobots, as they are called -- will be routinely injected by the millions into people's bloodstreams. They will be used primarily as diagnostic scouts and patrols, so if anything goes wrong in a person's body, it can be caught extremely early.
As James Watson, co-winner of the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, famously put it: "No one really has the guts to say it, but if we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes, why shouldn't we?"
Gregory Stock of UCLA sees this as the inevitable outcome of the decoding of the human genome. "We have spent billions to unravel our biology, not out of idle curiosity, but in the hope of bettering our lives," he said at a 2003 Yale bioethics conference. "We are not about to turn away from this."
Stock sees humanity embracing artificial chromosomes -- rudimentary versions of which already exist. Right now, the human body has 23 chromosome pairs, with the chromosomes numbered 1 through 46. Messing with them is tricky -- you never know when you're going to inadvertently step on unanticipated interactions. By adding a new chromosome pair (Nos. 47 and 48) to the embryo, however, the possibilities appear endless. Stock, in his book "Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future," describes it as the safest way to substantially modify humans because, he says, it would minimize unintended consequences. On top of that, the chromosome insertion sites could have an off switch activated by an injection if we wanted to stop whatever we'd started. This would give future generations a chance to undo whatever we did.
Stock offers this analysis to counter the argument offered by some bioethicists that inheritable genetic line engineering should be unconditionally banned because future generations harmed by wrongful or unsuccessful modifications would have no control over the matter.
But the very idea of aspiring to such godlike powers is blasphemous to some. "Genetic engineering," writes Michael J. Sandel, a professor of political philosophy at Harvard, is "the ultimate expression of our resolve to see ourselves astride the world, the masters of our nature. But the promise of mastery is flawed. It threatens to banish our appreciation of life as a gift, and to leave us with nothing to affirm or behold outside our own will."
Stock rejects this view. "We should not just accept but embrace the new technologies, because they're filled with promise," he says. Within a few years, he writes, "traditional reproduction may begin to seem antiquated, if not downright irresponsible." His projections, he asserts, are not at all out of touch with reality.
Adapted from the book "Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to Be Human" by Joel Garreau, to be published May 17 by Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc. ? 2005 by Joel Garreau. Reprinted with permission.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People
on: May 16, 2005, 10:40:48 AM
Barking Up the Wrong Tree:
Who Will Help the Helpless?
David Nissen Kahn, M. D.
?2004 All rights reserved.
In a recent article (Myths of the Gun?ght-2, Tactical Operator Newsletter, 8, 2; Nov/Dec 2004), combatives/shooting instructor Gabe Suarez observes, "First of all, Grossman's On Killing to the contrary, it is NOT unnatural for humans to kill each other. Historically, we've been doing it with skill and gusto for ages." And he goes on to explain:
The problem with this facet of the [Grossman's] study is that much of it is based on the study of police actions. [Actually, the work is based on historical analyses of military combat, but the conclusions are still valid.] In case you don't realize, police are NEVER trained to be gunfighters, or trained to call up their level of violence in "official" schools. In fact, most "offcial" schools, as provided by the state, are pure garbage. The officers that DO get further education generally do so on their own (a very small percentage at best). And of those who will have their minds right in a fight (because they are warriors at heart and they've decided beforehand to do so), are an even smaller percentage of that (sic).
As our lawyer friends have it, res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself. But we-the people who teach and support self-defense and personal security-aren't listening.
The unnaturalness Grossman talks about, the hardwired resistance to killing within one's species, appears real, and he makes a careful, logical case for it. Gabe really doesn't contradict it; in fact, he solidifies Grossman's argument. Untrained-or improperly or inadequately trained-people are much more likely to fail, to freeze or to hesitate when they are confronted with physical force. Grossman's whole point is that proper conditioning, not only physical but mental, is essential to getting desired responses to stimuli. Most people don't fight, much less kill, without conditioning. And that's the key. While we do pretty well with the people we train, we don't attract nearly enough of them. And that's our failure.
Most of the citizens who study any sort of fighting-knife, stick, gun, empty hand, whatever-have already decided that "it" might happen to them. They've confronted themselves and decided that they can hit back, or think they can, and want to. Even so, some people come to the event, whether in training or in real life, and wilt. Mas Ayoob thinks that, sometimes, it's a failure of technique. Maybe so, sometimes; but clearly sometimes it's not. Then it's a failure of will. And that's a failure of attitude and worldview.
Well, then, if supposedly well trained people can fail, what about the "average" person, sliding through daily life without a constructive thought about it. He or she's already given up before the fact. Who's helping him or her? Because they can be helped.
We all recognize that "having a gun just makes you a gun owner." But even having a gun-or any other tool-is a step ahead of most folks. As a bumper sticker reads, "When you buy a drill, you don't want a drill. You want a hole." The great majority of the population isn't able to use the tool, never mind to get the requisite skills, because they don't have the mindset to do it. And they don't have the mindset because they don't see that they need it . . . or, worse and more blameworthy, no one's shown them that getting it is an achievable goal. Or an appropriate one.
That's our fault. We smugly preach to the choir, educating, training and explaining ourselves to each other: we're isolated from the larger community. And, bewilderingly, we're not displeased with that. We've looked at Dave Grossman's well-argued, solid work and taken only part of the message. And we're guilty of failing to squeeze all the juice from what we have taken.
Gabe makes the point again that attitude is everything. Who among us doubts that? Sun Tzu said, "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." Well, of course. That's the whole point of all our exercises. But if we continue to keep the knowledge among ourselves, we disserve ourselves as professionals-and we disserve our society as well. We're in a situation akin to scientific investigation: unpublished, unused discoveries are trivial beyond puffng up egos. Especially in this unhealthy 21st Century environment, in which everyone is called to the battle-even though with silly, meaningless, colored coded "threat levels"-it is singularly important for people who know to evangelize people who don't.
Personal security, self-defense, safety must be demystified and made commonplace, acceptable and expected. Knowledgeable people realize that those things may be complex in practice, but they're simple in theory-and that that theory is the foundation of attitude, and that attitude and mental lifestyle are the keys to individual and group well being and survival.
If the face we present to the larger world is only that of the warrior-hard-bitten, grim, cold, disdainful of everyone else-then we surely lose our credibility with the very people we can help. Must help. True enough, much of what there is to be taught is bleak, and the great majority of people will never be joyous, exalted fighters. But so what? If they do the right thing and then spew up their breakfasts, defecate in their underwear and weep, who cares? The good guy isn't dead. The terrorist attack didn't kill awful numbers of people. And we've done a sufficient, professional job. Not every solution is elegant or precise or on script.
We must discard our reassuringly superior, self-congratulatory, dismissive attitude toward the "sheep people" and replace it with studied, sympathetic compassion. Most combatives instructors are busy-especially now-and they simply don't have time to preach to the unbelievers. Or, often, want to. So, some of their disciples must "get out there" and talk to and teach ordinary, everyday people how to think about their world and their security. Some of those people will be converted fully to the faith. And those folks will study the arts and expand the base. That'll be wonderful, and good for them.
But that's not the primary goal. The goal is to make everyone able to see problems and know how to decide what to do. When to run. When to call for help. And, for some, when to fight. Relatively few people will ever be armed citizens; fewer will become warriors; fewer still will be masters of any discipline, and even fewer will study more than one. But such niceties don't matter. We can be satisfied with ourselves and proud of our work if more people just understand and live in Condition Yellow-because most of the time, unglamorous though it is, that's enough. It's enough for warriors; it's enough for everyone else.
If we can achieve that-no matter how partially-we'll have fulfilled our professional obligation, and our moral one, too. Fewer bad things will happen to good people. Fewer people will be afraid of the world. And, eventually, the world will be a nicer, better place to live. That's a reachable goal. But we have to begin. No one else can do it. And no one else will try.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: May 14, 2005, 07:24:59 AM
United States: The Questionable Merits of the 'No-Fly' List
May 13, 2005 1653 GMT
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) diverted Air France
flight 332 to Bangor, Maine, on May 12 after authorities discovered that one of the 169 passengers onboard matched a name on the federal government's "no-fly" list. The passenger and two of his family members -- a woman and a young child -- were taken off the Airbus A-330 flight from Paris to Boston at the Bangor International Airport, and the flight continued on to Boston. TSA officials later determined the "person of interest" was not the one on the list and he and his companions were released.
Although the no-fly list is meant to enhance security of air travel, its
effectiveness as a true protective measure is questionable. The list,
enacted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks and maintained by the TSA,
includes names of people suspected of posing "a risk of air piracy or
terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety." Passenger manifests
of airline flights are checked against the list and, if matching names are
found, the TSA can order the flight diverted and the individual detained.
Although it initially denied the list's existence, the TSA acknowledged in
October 2002 that it was, indeed, keeping -- and constantly updating -- such a list. The U.S. government declines to say how many names are on the list, but the number reportedly is as high as 31,000.
In April 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a nationwide
class-action lawsuit challenging the no-fly list on behalf of several
people. The suit is based on the argument that innocent travelers whose
names appear on the list are singled out as possible terrorists. According
to FBI documents obtained in 2004 by the American Civil Liberties Union,
more than 350 Americans had been delayed or denied boarding since the list's inception -- and apparently all were false alarms. Once added to the list, people usually are unable to find out why they were identified as a security risk and are unable to get their names removed.
Exacerbating the issue is the problem that the names on the list often are
transliterations into English of names in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and other
Middle Eastern, South Asian and African languages. Considering that many
terrorists are militant Islamists, Arab/Muslim names -- in their phonetic
form -- appear frequently. Add to this the fact that many Arab/Muslim names are commonly used -- such as Mohammed, Ahmed and Ali -- and the system raises a red flag if it picks up even one part of the name: first, middle or last. Further complicating the system is the unusual number of birthdates on the first or last day of a given month, which stems from lack of accurate record keeping in some areas of the third world. A person may know the month in which he or she was born, but not the date. Clerks issuing identification cards, then, often assign the birthday as the first or last day of the month. It is no surprise, then, that birthdays often match.
TSA officials said the man detained on the Air France flight had a slightly
different spelling and the exact birthday of someone on the no-fly list.
Without elaborating, the TSA officials said the name in question belonged to a "serious bad actor" with connections to terrorism.
One of the most notable examples of the confusion over names occurred in 2004 when U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy was stopped and questioned at airports five times because the name T. Kennedy appeared on the no-fly list. The phonetically spelled name al Kannadi (The Canadian) apparently was the nom de guerre of an al Qaeda member on the list. It took the senator three weeks and a personal appeal to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge before his name was removed from the list. If a prominent U.S. senator experienced these difficulties, it stands to reason that an ordinary individual with no high-level connections would find it nearly impossible to fix the problem.
Terrorists rarely travel with their real passports and make a point of using
many different aliases. The no-fly list would be effective if terrorists
used passports borrowed from individuals already on the list, such as those identified as having traveled to training camps or other safe havens.
Because the existence of the no-fly list is well known, however, someone
contemplating a terrorist attack likely would create a totally clean
identity, which is not difficult to do. The perpetrator would then "test"
the new document by taking a flight to see if it passed the security check.
The Sept. 11 hijackers took similar reconnaissance flights to observe flight
routes, times and airport/airline security measures.
In the fight against international terrorism, constant vigilance is
necessary -- though repeated false alarms call into question the
effectiveness of the TSA's no-fly list
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Libertarian themes
on: May 14, 2005, 06:58:58 AM
"You simply can not say one illegal substance should be more aggressivly attacked than another.
Wouldn't that be the same as a speeding driver saying GEE officer i was onley ten miles an hour over the limit what about the guy who was doing 130 that just flew by me...... Still guilty. "
Well it sure would make sense to me to say that the guy doing 130 should be more aggressively pursued by the police than the guy 10 over the limit. Indeed most police don't bother to ticket the guy doing 10 over , , ,
Similarly it makes sense to me to note that there is a difference between pot and narcotics like coke and heroin.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters
on: May 13, 2005, 11:15:58 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, May 13, 2005
Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Federal Security service, claimed
Thursday that foreign intelligence services were planning further
"uprisings," along the lines of Ukraine's Orange Revolution, in order to
undermine Russian influence in the former Soviet Union. Patrushev
specifically charged that the foreign services included U.S., British,
Kuwaiti and Saudi agents.
"Foreign secret services are ever more actively using non-traditional
methods for their work and with the help of different NGOs' educational
programs are propagandizing their interests, particularly in the former
Soviet Union," Patrushev said before the state Duma. "Our opponents are
purposefully and step-by-step trying to weaken Russian influence in the
former Soviet Union and the international arena as a whole. The latest
events in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan unanimously confirm this."
According to Patrushev, the next target will be Belarus' head of
intelligence, Viktor Veger, who also said that the attempts were being kept suppressed.
In a sense, there is nothing controversial in this view. The United States
has made it clear that it supports democratic movements in Eurasia, and that it is prepared to support these movements financially. The Russians have long charged that the Saudis were interfering in Muslim Central Asia,
supporting what they call Wahhabi movements. The inclusion of Kuwait in
Patrushev's statement is interesting, but only to a limited extent. This is
an old story.
In part, this is about a difference in perspectives. The United States
claims that it is simply supporting democratic movements. Moscow's view is that this is an internal affair for these countries, that the United States
is interfering with its sphere of influence and that the U.S. love of
democracy is simply a useful justification for power politics. All of this
is not, as we have been saying, particularly new.
What is new -- and extremely important -- is that the head of the FSB said
this in Russia's Duma. He undoubtedly said this with the knowledge and
approval of President Vladimir Putin, and he effectively linked Russian
interests to those of Belarus -- the state that has evolved the least since
the fall of the Soviet Union. It is also Russia's buffer with NATO and is of
vital strategic importance.
But most important is that the charge was made. It is now official that
Russia views the United States and others as conspiring against its
interests, and that the various democratic non-governmental organizations are actually operating as agents of the CIA. Put differently, the democratic movement in the former Soviet Union is perceived as a plot by Western intelligence to destroy Russia.
Now, if that is the Russian view, obviously some consequences follow. If
these NGOs are in fact CIA fronts, then their suppression is not only
permissible, but imperative. But more important still is the fact that if
these charges are believed, the Russian government must believe that the United States in particular is its enemy. Given what was said and who said it, it is hard to draw any conclusion other than that the Kremlin believes that the United States is plotting to destroy Russia -- and that Russia is going to resist.
We call that a cold war. It may not look and feel like the big one, but if
the Russians believe the charges they are making (and they do) and the
Americans won't back off (and they won't), that will pit the covert forces
of the United States against the covert forces of Russia. Caught in the
middle will be political forces in third countries from Belarus to Central
Asia, as well as, logically, liberal forces inside of Russia. Moreover, if
this speech is to be taken seriously, the counter-action by the Russians
should start quickly, since delay would be irresponsible.
It will be interesting in the extreme as to whether any senior Russian
official reinterprets these statements to give them a more limited or benign spin, or whether they will simply let them stand. The former would indicate that Patrushev simply got carried away; the latter, that this is a
calculated declaration of clandestine warfare, with NGOs caught in the
This situation is getting very serious, very fast. At the least, we know
that President George W. Bush must have really convinced Putin that he is
gunning for Russia.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Movies of interest
on: May 12, 2005, 12:31:58 PM
Being a father of a 5 and 2 year old, my wife and I don't get out much, so the reviews I post rarely are of movies I have seen, so I just share reviews that seem interesting.
Memo to: Website Moviegoers
From: Matthew Wanniski
Re: A Great Film ? and That?s No Accident
Coming off the great success of his screenplay for ?Million Dollar Baby,? Paul Haggis takes the director?s seat to deliver another emotionally-driven, powerfully-told story: the Lion?s Gate release, ?Crash.? The film is ostensibly about racism and it examines the issue from all sides from the streets of Los Angeles. It comes at a time when most people may no longer consider it with any great urgency, if they ever did at all. Haggis? film shows that, sadly, racism is still alive and kicking, still impeding our progress, so preventing us all from living happy and peaceful lives.
The story begins with a carjacking (inspired by a similar experience that Haggis and his wife once faced), an event that sets everything in motion. Two young black men pause in their discussion of racism to steal a car from white District Attorney Richard Cabot and his wife Jean. Larenz Tate and rap star Ludacris play the carjackers, and it is their argument that sets the tone for the rest of the film. While Richard contemplates the political impact, Jean feels as if her sense of security as been violated, affecting her far more acutely than her husband. Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock play the victimized couple very well. Fraser?s emotionally stand-offish D.A. stands in marked contrast to Bullock?s Jean, who really makes you feel her trauma, her anger, and her fear. There?s a distance between them, which Haggis deftly reveals to be just one small piece of the yawning chasm between everyone in the film, between everyone in the city, a distance even between body and soul.
On the other side of town, black L.A. police detective Graham and his Hispanic partner/lover Ria, played by Jennifer Esposito, investigate the murder of a young black man, whose body has been dumped along the road. Don Cheadle, who also produced the film, plays Graham, a tired and jaded man who doesn?t quite have his life together as it seems. Like everyone else, he has his own demons to deal with, and he tends to push away even those he loves most. Like D.A. Cabot, his career comes first, much to Ria?s dismay. It?s a familiar coping mechanism these men seem to have, cutting themselves off from everyone else to avoid the pain of love and loss. Such actions do have a tendency to backfire, however, and the characters are forced to face the consequences of their selfish actions.
There are several moments of such intensity and emotional impact, that they hit you in the gut and leave you reeling, such as the dramatic rescue from the burning car of the black wife of a successful black television producer. Thandie Newton delivers a fantastic performance in this role. Her torment over being saved by a racist white cop, played by Matt Dillon?who had earlier humiliated her and her husband when they were pulled over for no other reason than that they were black?is so incredibly raw and real that it?s just devastating to watch. Terrence Howard, who plays her husband, another emotionally distant man more interested in his career than his marriage, offers a wonderful performance of his own as a man coming to terms with his own identity as a prominent black man who masks his race behind his success.
The most poignant performances, however, comes from Michael Pena, who plays Daniel, a Mexican locksmith, and Ashlyn Sanchez, who plays Daniel?s 5-year-old daughter, Lara, who is afraid of being shot and killed while she sleeps, supposedly safe, in her bed. Their scenes together are truly beautiful and heartbreaking.
The film also takes the time to explore religious tension in the form of a Persian shopkeeper who is treated poorly by white men who believe he is an Arab, and therefore must secretly be a terrorist.
A overwhelming sense of foreboding seeps into you as you watch, filling you with dread and the belief that this is all going to end badly. Haggis is a very clever filmmaker, however. He turns expectations on their head, defying audiences to figure out how things turn out in end.
It?s no accident that this is an extraordinary film. Haggis and co-writer Robert Moresco expertly weave together the lives of these seemingly divergent characters, and does so in an unpredictable way, forcing us to look at the world through different sets of eyes and then turning our eyes inward for a good, hard look at ourselves. The film suggests that we don?t know ourselves as well as we think we do. It?s an uncomfortable fact to accept. Reusing to shy away from edgy, controversial subject matter is a bold move, and it?s an environment in which these actors shine. Haggis pulls tremendous performances out of his actors, even from those playing minor characters. They all make it look so effortless. Come Oscar time, this will be the one to watch.
Rated ?R,? for language, sexual content and some violence.
Matthew Wanniski is a writer, editor and story analyst for Anonymous Content, a talent management and production company in Los Angeles. He can be reached at Mattsreviews@aol.com
. His Thursday reviews here have been appearing Fridays to a much wider audience at http://www.worldnetdaily.com
, and can also be found at www.rottentomatoes.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Unorganized Militia
on: May 12, 2005, 10:46:35 AM
Our editor, Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel tells me the hero here used to be a bodyguard for Marcos.
LOS ANGELES; Alleged Carjacker Meets Match; [Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 7, 2001. pg. B.5
Full Text (204 words)
(Copyright (c) 2001 Los Angeles Times)
A stranded motorist apparently got more than he bargained for when he allegedly tried to rob a 65-year-old good Samaritan who stopped to lend him a hand in West Covina, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Thursday.
Authorities said Anthony Salinas, 19, of Azusa ran out of gas in a stolen car on a West Covina street Wednesday and was trying to push it to a gas station when Elio Bongon, a janitor from Fontana, happened by in his pickup truck. Bongon offered Salinas and his girlfriend a ride to the station and gave them $10 to buy gas.
At the gas station, according to police, Salinas pulled what turned out to be a BB gun and ordered Bongon to give up his money and his truck. Bongon refused and attempted to disarm Salinas, they said. The gun discharged during the struggle, with a BB striking Salinas in the shoulder, police said. They said Bongon wrestled the gun away from Salinas and began hitting him on the head with it.
Salinas fled but was arrested a short distance away.
The district attorney's office Thursday charged Salinas with carjacking, along with attempted carjacking and second-degree robbery in connection with the encounter with Bongon.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune (West Covina, CA)
Same story as covered by a more local paper
December 13, 2001
Carjacker gets 5 years in prison
Victim says he does regret trying to help Salinas
Author: Bill Hetherman Staff Writer
POMONA - An Azusa man who allegedly tried to rob a good Samaritan was sentenced Wednesday to five years and 10 months in prison.
Pomona Superior Court Judge Jack P. Hunt imposed the term on Anthony Salinas, 19. Salinas pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of carjacking and attempted carjacking. An attempted robbery count was dropped.
The good Samaritan, 66-year-old Elio Bongon, was once a bodyguard for then-Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
Using his training in the martial arts, Bongon, of Fontana, disarmed Salinas after the defendant pointed a weapon at him that turned out to be a BB gun.
Bongon had a mixed reaction Wednesday to the sentencing.
"Actually, I forgive him, but he has to pay for what he has done," Bongon said. "I hope he will repent and not come out trying to get revenge against me."
Salinas' lawyer, Joseph Gibbons, said Wednesday his client is sorry for what he did and that he was under t! he influence of methamphetamine at the time.
"I've seen so many young people with drug problems," Gibbons said. "My client is not really a violent guy."
Three days before the attack on Bongon, Salinas stole a car from Javier Gonzales in the parking lot of a convenience store on Gladstone Street in Azusa, police said.
Salinas had one hand on what appeared to be the handle of a gun in his pocket, Gonzales told Azusa police.
Salinas was driving Gonzales' car when it ran out of gasoline on Sunset Avenue about 1 p.m. Sept. 5. Bongon, a janitor at Piano City at 210 N. Sunset Ave. in West Covina, helped Salinas push the car into the parking lot of the business.
"He told me he had no money to buy gasoline, so I gave him $10," Bongon testified at an earlier preliminary hearing.
Bongon said he drove Salinas to two places to buy a gas container. Without warning, Salinas pulled out a gun and pointed it at Bongon's right side, he said.
Bo! ngon said he grabbed Salinas' arm, got the gun away and beat him with the weapon until he ran away.
Police caught Salinas a short distance away on Yaleton Avenue when he pretended to be visiting someone and knocked on the door of a home he chose randomly, officers said.
Bongon said Wednesday he does not regret trying to help Salinas and will come to the aid of someone else in need if it happens again.
"I surely will," Bongon said. "I don't think everyone would, but in my opinion I have to do it."
-- Bill Hetherman can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2236, or by e-mail at <A
(c) 2001 San Gabriel Valley Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.
Record Number: 1253649
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Humor
on: May 11, 2005, 11:54:13 PM
Texas Chili Cook-off
If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better. For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park. Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.
Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili! wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted."
Here are the scorecard notes from the event:
CHILI # 1 - MIKE'S MANIAC MONSTER CHILI...
Judge # 1 -- A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) -- Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.
CHILI # 2 - AUSTIN'S AFTERBURNER CHILI...
Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.
CHILI # 3 - FRED'S FAMOUS BURN DOWN THE BARN CHILI...
Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge # 2 -- A bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced from all of the beer.
CHILI # 4 - BUBBA'S BLACK MAGIC...
Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods! not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beermaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-LB woman is starting to look HOT. just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?
CHILI # 5 LISA'S LEGAL LIP REMOVER...
Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.
Screw those rednecks.
CHILI # 6 - VERA'S VERY VEGETARIAN VARIETY...
Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I crapped on myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my but with a snow cone.
CHILI # 7 - SUSAN'S SCREAMING SENSATION CHILI...
Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 -- Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the
4-inch hole in my stomach.
CHILI # 8 - BIG TOM'S TOENAIL CURLING CHILI...
Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. poor feller, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 - No Report
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters
on: May 10, 2005, 12:07:05 AM
THE GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
Debating Russia's Fate
May 09, 2005 23 13 GMT
It has been 60 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany. The leaders of the
nations that participated in that victory, along with those that didn't,
have gathered in Moscow to commemorate the anniversary. The gathering has a meaning that transcends the historical.
The question on the table is the future of Russia's relationship with the
West. The issue is simple: From Moscow's point of view, it is whether the
Russians squandered, over the past 15 years, the victory that was won at the cost of more than 20 million killed. From its erstwhile allies' point of
view, it is whether to take Russia seriously, not only as a global power,
but even as a regional power. How these questions are answered will
determine the shape of Eurasia for a generation.
From the Soviet point of view, World War II was simultaneously a catastrophe and a triumph. The catastrophe consisted of Josef Stalin's massive diplomatic and military miscalculations, which led to the occupation of vast parts of the Soviet Union by the Germans. The triumph was the fact that the Soviet Union not only won the war (along with its allies), it also emerged from the war as the dominant Eurasian power -- its borders effectively pushing into central Germany -- as well as a global power. It became the only challenger to the other great victor in World War II, the United States. Now the fruits of the victories of 1945 are gone.
Moscow's sphere of influence no longer extends to central Germany. In fact, it doesn't extend even through the former Soviet Union. The Baltics,
Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia are all slipping from its hands. It
is not even certain that the Kremlin can hold all of the Russian Federation.
From Moscow's point of view, the current generation has squandered the
victory and betrayed the sacrifices of its greatest generation.
The leadership of the Soviet and Russian recessional did not undertake this course out of indifference or confusion. Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Russian President Vladimir Putin all pursued a calculated policy, dictated in their minds by irresistible reality. Following the analysis of Yuri Andropov, the head of the KGB in the 1960s and 1970s, they recognized that the Soviet Union was -- imperceptibly to many in the West -- slipping into economic and social catastrophe, caused by two things. First, the Soviet economy was inherently inefficient; geography and ideology combined to create a fundamentally flawed system. Second, the decision by the United States in the 1980s to directly attack this weakness by accelerating the arms race created a crisis of unsustainable proportions.
The Soviet Union was poor, but geopolitically and strategically powerful. In order to retain that strategic power, it had to devote an enormous amount of economic energy to sustaining its military forces and the economic sectors that underpinned them. The cost of strategic parity with the United States rose and threatened the rest of the economy with collapse. Very quickly, the Soviet Union would be both poorer and weaker.
Moscow made a fundamental strategic decision to preserve the Soviet Union by rebalancing the relationship between geopolitics and economics. Gorbachev attempted to implement this policy by effectively ending the Cold War in return for technology transfers and investments from the West. He lost control of the situation for two reasons. First, regardless of the level of Western investment and aid, the economic sclerosis of the Soviet Union was so extensive that Moscow could not effectively utilize the Western funds in any politically meaningful timeframe. Second, the United States was not going to allow the Soviets to recover from their weakness.
Washington pressed home its advantage. First, it made alliances, covert and overt, in Eastern Europe that essentially pried the region out of the
weakening Soviet grip. Second, the loss of its Eastern European empire
created a dynamic that led to Gorbachev's fall and the rise of Yeltsin --
and the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. Retreat fed on itself, until
Moscow lost not only what it won in World War II, but also much more.
Yeltsin essentially extended Gorbachev's policies and deepened them. He
assumed that the economic benefits that Andropov had been searching for would materialize more quickly if Russia were not also responsible for
economic conditions in Soviet republics that lagged generations behind
Russia itself. In effect, Yeltsin continued to trade geopolitics for
economic relations with the West -- having abandoned the drag imposed by, for example, Central Asia.
Russians hoped for a massive improvement in their lives. While there was
substantial economic activity, wealth was not dispersed. The lives of
Russians outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as the elderly and
others who were not among the Westernized elites, went from difficult to
extraordinarily harsh. The reasons are complex, but they boil down to this: Capitalism is extremely rewarding, but it demands huge social sacrifices up front -- and Russia, having already paid the price of communism, had nothing more to offer. By this, we don't simply mean money; we mean the social dynamism that capitalism requires. Russia was exhausted by communism. Its social, political and legal structure could not change to accommodate the requirements of capitalism. Theft replaced production as a means of becoming wealthy.
Yeltsin could not have done anything about this had he wanted to. It was
hardwired into the system. As a result, there was no economic payoff in
return for Russia's geopolitical decline. Before the collapse of communism, Russia had been poor but enormously powerful. Afterward, Russia was even poorer and pathetically weak. Moscow had to struggle to hold on to Russia itself.
Geopolitics is not a sentimental game, and the United States is not a
sentimental country. It did precisely what the Russians had done in the past and would have done had the situation been reversed: It pressed its
advantage. Using a variety of mechanisms, such as NATO expansion, the United States first spread its influence into Eastern Europe, then into the former Soviet Union itself, in the Baltics. Washington has increased its influence in the Caucasus via its relationship with Georgia and others.The Americans moved into Central Asia -- first, through the development of energy resources there; then, as a side effect of Sept. 11, through the deployment of U.S. troops and intelligence services throughout the region.
Russian weakness had created a vacuum. The United States inexorably moved into it. Putin came to power in the wake of the Kosovo conflict, in which the United States had treated Russian interests with indifference and even contempt. He did not wish to reverse the Andropov doctrine, but intended only to refine it. He expected there never to be a repeat of Kosovo, in which the United States attacked Serbia -- a nation regarded by the Russians as friendly -- without ever taking Russian interests into account. Putin also intended to reverse the consequences of the economic chaos of the 1990s. But he did not intend to create any fundamental change.
In other words, Putin wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He did not
want to change the foundation of U.S.-Russian relations; he simply wanted to rebalance it. The two goals contradicted each other. The relationship could not be rebalanced: It was built around the reality that Russian leaders had been dealing with for a generation with declining success. Russia didn't have the weight to rebalance the relationship. Economically, it remained crippled. Militarily, it was impotent. The geopolitical consequence - decline -- could not be stopped. For the past six years, Putin has been searching for the Holy Grail: a no-cost, no-risk solution to Russia's problems.
The United States has followed a consistent policy from Ronald Reagan,
through the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and now
George W. Bush as well. It has sought to prevent, under any circumstances, the re-emergence of Russia as a regional hegemon and potential global challenger. This has been a truly bipartisan policy. Clinton and George W. Bush have sought to systematically increase American influence in what the Russians call their "near abroad" while at the same time allowing the natural process of economic dysfunction to continue. More precisely, they have allowed Russia's weaknesses to create vacuums into which American power could move.
The breakpoint came in Ukraine. Washington took advantage of pro-Western forces there to create a situation in which it, rather than Moscow, was the most influential foreign force in Kiev -- including raising pointed
discussions about whether to include Ukraine in NATO. Ukraine lies on Russia's southern frontier; if it becomes a NATO country, Russia becomes
indefensible. This, coupled with growing U.S. power in Central Asia,
threatens Russia's position in the Caucasus. The situation quickly becomes hopeless for Moscow.
This explains why Putin recently referred to the collapse of the Soviet
Union as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in the 21st century. Western leaders expressed shock at the statement, but Putin was simply expressing the obvious. President Bush's travel itinerary surrounding Russia's V-E Day celebrations -- making his first stop in the Baltics and leaving by way of Georgia -- is intended to drive the point home. Discussion of internal Russian affairs -- the status of democracy there -- similarly drives home the inequality of the relationship. So, too, does the attempt to equate the Soviet occupation of the Baltics with the Nazi occupation, with Bush administration leaders saying that the fall of Adolf Hitler did not end oppression. All of this is designed rhetorically to put Russia on the defensive, just as it has been put on the defensive geopolitically.
The Russian decline and the U.S. exploitation of the situation have taken us to the breakpoint. If Ukraine is lost to Moscow, if Georgia becomes the
dominant power in the Caucasus, if events in Kyrgyzstan are extended to the rest of Central Asia -- all of which are very easy to imagine -- it will be difficult to imagine the survival of the Russian Federation. We will see a
second devolution in which parts of the Federation peel off. Russia, as we
know it today, will be finished.
It is not clear that the Russians have the will to recover. Putin seems to
be struggling with internal and external demons, and his heir is not
apparent. However, if Russia is going to make an attempt to recover, now is the time when it will have to happen. Another year and there might not be any chance. It might already be too late, but the Russians have little to
lose. It is really a case of now or never.
Russia will never have a vibrant economy. In the long run, centralized
command economies don't work. But neither does capitalism in Russia. A
centralized economy can do remarkable things in the short run, however.
Russia is particularly noted for short-term, unbalanced spurts -- sometimes with the government using terror as a tool, sometimes not.
It must always be remembered how quickly military power can be recovered. Germany went from a collapsed military in 1932 to Great Power status in five or six years. Economic authoritarianism, coupled with a pre-existing skilled officer class, transformed Germany's strategic position. It is not wise, therefore, to assume that Russia cannot recover significant military force if it has the will to do so. It might not become a superpower, but Great Power status -- even with an impoverished population -- is not beyond its capabilities. We have seen Russia achieve this in the past.
It therefore makes sense that the United States has been consolidating and extending its position in the former Soviet Union during the past few
months. Russia can recover, but only if given time. The United States,
having no desire to see Russia recover, doesn't intend to give it time.
Washington intends to present Moscow with a reality that is so unfavorable that it cannot be reversed. Russia is close to that situation right now, but in our opinion, not yet there. A window is open that will close shortly.
The question is simple: Will the Russians grab what might be a last chance, or are they just too tired to care?
(c) 2005 Strategic Forecasting, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.stratfor.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters
on: May 06, 2005, 10:46:44 AM
And here's some key support for the notion about China and Russia getting together , , ,
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, May 6, 2005
The major unfolding geopolitical event at the moment is, of course, the
Russian celebration of V-E Day on May 9. Everybody who is anybody will be there, and there will be an enormous number of planned and impromptu summits. The most important visit will inevitably be George W. Bush's. Russian-American relations are strained, and this summit will be an opportunity to see which way the wind blows in their relationship. Russia's behavior toward other countries will be heavily influenced by Moscow's perception of its future relationship with Washington. Therefore, many of the participants at the side meetings will be keeping a careful eye on this relationship.
To a great extent, the relationship now depends on Bush's view of Russia.
The Russians are more than ever locked into a position that holds that the
United States is moving in Russia's "near abroad" in an operation designed to undermine what Moscow regards as fundamental interests in its sphere of influence. Over the past months, beginning in Ukraine, the United States has supported forces that Moscow regards as antithetical to its interests. Washington's argument -- that it is simply supporting the evolution of democracy -- is regarded as a cover for the constriction and destruction of Russia.
Bush's decision to visit Latvia and Georgia in the course of this trip has
particularly infuriated the Russians. The loss of its sphere of influence in
the Baltics and the Caucuses is of particular concern to Moscow, and these stops -- in the context of Russia's V-E Day celebrations -- are seen as a deliberate provocation. Putin has called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in the 20th century. The geopolitical problem of the Soviet Union is characterized by these visits.
Leaders in Washington now must decide whether the United States can further constrict Russia or whether it should let up. Continuing to irritate Moscow simply generates further conviction that the United States is out to destroy Russia without actually doing it harm. In effect, the feeling that the fall of the Soviet Union was a catastrophe will be replaced by Russia's logical conclusion: the fall of the Soviet Union should be reversed. If the United States can render the Russians impotent, it doesn't matter how they react to Washington's moves. But if Russia is not impotent, it matters a great deal.
Russian leaders already have warned Bush not to come to Russia in order to condemn reversals on democracy. He also has been warned not to exploit the Soviet breakup to increase American influence further. Bush has gotten the message. Stories began to surface Thursday that Bush will warn the Georgians against provocations in South Ossetia, a region aligned with Russia. In addition, he will also tell the Latvians to work with the Russians.
Bush is pulling back, but only a bit. Warning the Georgians and Latvians
will neither restrain them nor convince Moscow that the United States is
not, in fact, seeking to surround Russia with enemies. A more fundamental issue is whether Tbilisi's demand that Russia withdraw its forces from Georgia -- and Moscow's counter, offering to do so in four years -- will be resolved. If the United States backs Georgia's demands, Moscow will not care what Bush says to the Georgians. The Russians will believe the American policy is continuing. If Washington forces Georgia to permit Russian troops to remain for a while, Moscow might be mollified.
The Russians have signaled clearly that they have reached their limit. Bush has not yet shown whether he will go for the kill or back off. If he will not back off, the most interesting meeting at the summit will be between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao. Neither country trusts U.S. intentions at the moment, and it won't take much to push them into each other's arms. If Russia collapses, that doesn't matter. If Russia doesn't collapse, it matters a great deal.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly
on: May 05, 2005, 11:31:33 PM
Thursday, May 5, 2005
BENTON HARBOR -- A pop culture controversy that has simmered for decades came to a head when a middle school marching band was told not to perform "Louie Louie."
Benton Harbor Superintendent Paula Dawning cited the song's allegedly raunchy lyrics in ordering the McCord Middle School band not to perform it in Saturday's Grand Floral Parade, held as part of the Blossomtime Festival.
In a letter sent home with McCord students, Dawning said "Louie Louie" was not appropriate for Benton Harbor students to play while representing the district -- even though the marching band wasn't going to sing it.
Band members and parents complained to the Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting that it was too late to learn another song, The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reported.
"It's very stressful for us to try to come up with new songs for the band," eighth-grader Laurice Martin told the board. "We're trying to learn the songs from last year, but some of us weren't in the band last year."
Dawning said that if a majority of parents supports their children playing the song, she will reconsider her decision.
"It was not that I knew at the beginning and said nothing," Dawning said. "I normally count on the staff to make reliable decisions. I found out because a parent called, concerned about the song being played."
"Louie Louie," written by Richard Berry in 1956, is one of the most recorded songs in history. The best-known, most notorious version was a hit in 1963 for the Kingsmen; the FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics before declaring they not only were not obscene but also were "unintelligible at any speed."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters
on: May 05, 2005, 10:58:41 PM
Here's an example of Russia being a pain in the a$$ for the US in a region outside of its true concerns , , ,
The Specter of Russian-Made Fighter Jets in Venezuela
May 05, 2005 15 09 GMT
Venezuela reportedly is looking to purchase Su-27 Flanker fighters from Russia instead of the less-capable Mig-29SMT Fulcrums it previously considered. This development would constitute a provocative move by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- one that would have serious implications in Latin America and beyond.
Venezuela has expressed interest in acquiring two squadrons of Su-27 Flanker air-superiority fighters from Russia, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported May 4. The Venezuelans apparently are interested in the base model Su-27, which has been out of production in Russia since Sukhoi Corp. began producing the Su-30 variants for the export market. If a contract for the reported $250 million deal is signed, the aircraft -- 20 to 24 fighters -- would be transferred to the Venezuelan air force (FAV) from the Russian air force inventory.
Venezuela's interest in the Su-27 is significant in that acquiring the aircraft would make the FAV the most potent air force in South America and the Caribbean. The Flanker has a much longer range than the Mig-29SMT Fulcrum -- which Caracas also is considering purchasing from Russia -- meaning it can operate much further from Venezuelan air space. With a combat radius of nearly 1,000 miles, a Caracas-based Su-27 could participate in dogfights over Colombia, Cuba, most of Central America and the entire Caribbean Sea. Caracas' efforts to acquire advanced weaponry will alter the security environment in Latin America -- and give the United States more to ponder as it figures out how to deal with Venezuela.
Whether the FAV chooses the MiG-29s, the Su-27s or both, the new fighters will replace its aging F-16s, which the United States provided in the early 1980s. The F-16s, which the FAV deploys in two squadrons based at El Libertador air base in Maracay, spend most of their time on the ground because of low serviceability. The U.S. government stopped supplying the FAV with spare parts for its F-16s in 2001 after the Chavez government suspended military relations with Washington. Although the FAV has managed to keep some F-16s in the air despite maintenance difficulties resulting from the embargo -- a point of pride for the FAV -- the jets' long-term serviceability is in doubt.
In February, Caracas purchased 10 Mi-17 and Mi-26 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles in a deal worth $120 million. Unlike these purchases, primarily intended to support border and internal security requirements, Su-27s would have implications far beyond Venezuela's borders.
The Su-27 is a long-range, advanced fighter capable of deploying powerful weapons. With even two squadrons of such jets, the FAV could dominate the air forces of neighboring countries. In other words, it would become the most powerful air force in Latin America, far surpassing the capabilities of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
Colombia always has eyed Venezuela with suspicion, but bilateral relations have deteriorated since Chavez came to power. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez has struck a nonchalant pose publicly, claiming he is not worried about the regional security implications of Chavez's arms-buying spree. Colombian media, however, recently disclosed an internal Defense Ministry memorandum that confirms Uribe is quite concerned about the Venezuelan arms build up. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush also has voiced its concerns repeatedly in Latin America, Madrid and Moscow.
Caracas initially had expressed interest in purchasing the MiG-29SMT Fulcrum, which has a range of 465 miles if external fuel tanks are not attached. The external tanks, which have a negative impact on the fighter's performance, also take up space on the aircraft that could be used for weapons. The Su-27's range on internal fuel alone is almost twice that of the MiG-29. With no need to carry cumbersome external tanks, the Flanker can participate in aerial combat with all of its external stores stations available for missiles.
Meanwhile, in even considering the sale, Russia has a "weapon" with which to exert geopolitical pressure on the United States. In response to recent U.S. inroads along Russia's periphery, Moscow might be deciding to muddy the waters elsewhere for the United States -- and Venezuela, as a sore spot for Washington already, is a good launching pad. Certainly, forcing the United States to channel its resources from Central Asia and the Caucasus in order to counter Russian-caused problems elsewhere would relieve Moscow of some U.S. pressure.
Russia had once hinted at supplying Tu-22M Backfire bombers to China, but later backed off the sale. More recently, Moscow agreed to supply Syria with the Strelets surface-to-air missile system, despite objections from the United States and Israel. Of course, the Su-27 deal could be called off, or scaled back like the Chinese Backfire deals have been, but the political implications of the sale of Su-27s to a regime that is openly hostile to Washington would keep Washington off balance without a fighter going to Venezuela.
Relations between Caracas and Washington have deteriorated markedly since Chavez came to power, especially as Venezuela moved closer to Cuba, aligning its military planning with Havana's. In fact, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently said she considers relations between Washington and Caracas beyond hope of improving. With the United States beginning to refocus its attention to issues outside the Middle East, Chavez believes his country could be targeted for U.S. intervention.
Long-range, heavily armed Su-27s in the FAV's possession, however, would complicate any U.S. military intervention in the region. Air superiority -- gaining and maintaining total control of the air over the battlefield -- is essential to U.S. military planning. In any U.S. operation against Venezuela, the formidable defensive obstacle presented by squadrons of Su-27s would have to be overcome before air superiority could be achieved. Moreover, the Su-27's long range would force U.S. air and naval units to operate further from Venezuelan skies.
If Chavez can acquire surplus Russian air force Su-27s for less than the cost of new MiG-29s, he certainly would get more bang for his buck, which would help ease the fiscal strain of his rearmament program. Combined with a huge militia reserve armed with new Kalashnikov and older FAL rifles, the Su-27 would provide another layer of defense between Chavez and Washington.
The specter of Chavez's air force operating the Su-27 would give Washington -- and its allies in the region -- plenty to think about.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: May 05, 2005, 05:06:27 PM
Peace Process in Crisis: Abbas' Dilemma
By George Friedman
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is now facing its first serious crisis since the death of Yasser Arafat. The process may not survive. The problem is the same that has plagued previous attempts at peace: Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is not able to guarantee that all Palestinian factions will honor an agreement.
The problem exists on both sides, obviously. There are Israelis who oppose the peace process as well as Palestinians. The Israeli opposition, however, is unlikely to derail the peace process so long as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon remains committed to it. Sharon is a man of the Israeli Right, and in many ways, historically, has embodied it. Many of his fellow Rightists are appalled at what he is doing, but in the end, this can never be more than a relatively small faction. When you are as far to the right as Sharon, your right-wing opposition is going to be more noisy than significant. Sharon can deliver if he wants to.
Abbas has a different problem: There is no equivalent consensus among the Palestinians. Instead, they are divided into three factions.
First, there are those who are prepared to accept a Palestinian state as a permanent solution and are prepared both to recognize Israel's right to exist and to permanently abandon a military option against Israel.
Second, there is the faction that is prepared to accept a peace agreement as a temporary solution -- perhaps one lasting for several generations -- but not a permanent one. In other words, this faction sees peace in terms of an extended cease-fire rather than as a permanent solution.
Third, there is the faction that will not accept even an extended cease-fire. This faction intends to continue waging war against Israel until it achieves its political ends, which for most include the destruction of the state of Israel.
For Israel, accepting the existence of a Palestinian state rests on a single premise: that there will be a state structure in place that can impose an agreement with Israel on all factions of the Palestinians. Most important, the Israelis expect a Palestinian state to suppress the third faction, which intends to continue carrying out attacks against Israel regardless of any political settlements. For Israel, unless there is a cessation of violence, the creation of a Palestinian state has no validity.
Sharon has a problem with his right wing, but in the end, he can control them. Abbas has a problem with his militant wing, but it is not at all clear that he can control them. The question of control is not theoretical. It has a simple, essential characteristic: Abbas must be able to disarm the militants, and his security forces must be able to halt attacks against Israel without the presence of the Israeli army.
It is becoming clear that Abbas is in no position to disarm the militants. Earlier this week, he ordered security forces to use an "iron fist" in containing Palestinian militants, after two armed Hamas members who clashed with Palestinian police were detained in Gaza on May 2. According to a PNA Interior Ministry spokesman, the men had rockets that they planned to launch against Israeli targets. Hamas then successfully pressured the PNA, with the help of an Egyptian official in Gaza, to release the two militants on May 3.
On May 4, Abbas' Palestinian Authority stated that it had no intention of disarming militants. Rashid Abu Shbak, head of the PA's security service, told a news conference that "we have no intention of withdrawing arms of resistance." Now, this did not come from Abbas, but it came from his security chief. Abbas can back off, but the statement is pretty blunt.
The problem is not that Abbas doesn't want to disarm the militants; the problem is that he can't. He simply lacks the force within the Palestinian community to prevail. Pushing the issue would trigger a civil war, and it is not clear that Abbas would win. If Hamas gives up its weapons, it loses its leverage in Palestinian politics. That won't happen.
Which means that the Palestinians are back where they started. Abbas cannot negotiate with the Israelis, because he can't enforce any agreements. Since this is what Sharon's old friends on the Right said would happen, Sharon will now be under pressure to halt withdrawals from the occupied territories. That will suit Hamas just fine, as it will undermine Abbas. It will also suit the Israeli Right.
It comes down to this: There is no consensus among the Palestinians as to what should happen. There are three strands of thought -- all with some base of support, and all of which are mutually exclusive. Israel could live with some sort of deal that includes the "let's have peace for a generation and then start the war again" faction. A lot changes in a generation. But Israel cannot make peace with a government that can't disarm Hamas.
Things are getting dangerous again. Actually, they never really stopped being dangerous.