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30251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Time to bust Telmex on: May 29, 2008, 07:02:25 AM
It's Time to Bust the Telmex Monopoly
May 19, 2008; Page A13

It is a decade overdue, but Mexico finally has a clear path to ending the near-monopoly status of Telmex – Carlos Slim's Telefonos de Mexico. Whether President Felipe Calderón seizes the day will signal just how serious he is about modernizing his country's economy.

The cost to the economy of Telmex's dominance cannot be overstated. Lack of competition is the reason Mexicans pay some of the highest telecom charges in the developed world, according to a report last year by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. It's also the reason Mexicans' access to telephone services – landlines and mobile – is "one of the lowest in the OECD." As a result, while the world forges ahead in the information age, Mexico is being left in the Stone Age.

Mexico finally has a clear path to ending Telmex's near-monopoly. But will President Felipe Calderón seize the opportunity? Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports. (May 18)
Good news came last week when the government ordered Telmex to provide interconnection to a key competitor. It is the first time since 1997, when Telmex's monopoly privileges ran out, that the government has been willing to enforce the terms of the 1990 concession title. That is the agreement signed at the time of privatization.

Even so, the ruling does nothing to solve the main cause of Mexico's inefficient and costly telecom market. Until Telmex is forced to provide competitive pricing to non-Telmex carriers that have to use the network, and simple number portability to customers who want to switch to other carriers, competition will not evolve. Telmex should also have to cease its practice of cross-subsidizing its telephony businesses.

Until now, Mr. Slim has been an immoveable object. When his monopoly privileges expired in 1997, regulators tried to make him provide network access, at competitive rates, to the other carriers. But by then he had gotten used to the spoils of the monopoly. Whenever regulators have tried to force competitive practices, he has used the courts to block them.

Mexico's largest special interest is also known for using his influence in the halls of Congress and with the executive. During the presidency of Vicente Fox (2000-2006), a former Telmex employee was miraculously named the minister of communication and transport. Judging from how little was accomplished under Mr. Fox, that minister wasn't shy about looking after his former boss's interests.


Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.Until now, Mexicans have been wary of crossing the powerful Mr. Slim, who is said to control 40% of advertising in the country. But the problems caused by Telmex's uncompetitive practices can no longer be ignored. To that end the telecom regulator, known by the Spanish acronym Cofetel, has drafted a proposal aimed at creating an environment where competition can flourish. The initiative calls for interconnection for all competitors at cost-based rates. It would also introduce an institutional framework similar to that of most OECD countries, and bring Mexico into compliance with the World Trade Organization.

The trouble is that Mr. Slim has already shown that he can litigate to eternity anything coming from the regulator. So even if the new regulation is adopted, Telmex is likely to use the injunction process to block its effectiveness. That is, unless Mr. Calderón trades Mr. Slim something for his cooperation.

Economic giants have gigantic appetites, and Mr. Slim's needs to be fed again. Having consumed Mexican telephony, he now wants to begin eating into the television market by delivering video. But the terms of his 1990 purchase of Telmex strictly forbid such an expansion.

So all the Calderón government has to do to tame the Telmex beast is to enforce the terms of the existing title concession. This would mean that the company would have to adopt accounting practices that avoid cross-subsidization. It also would mean making it clear to Mr. Slim that the Telmex concession title prohibits the provision of television services.

If Telmex wants to change the terms of that original contract so it can compete in video, Mr. Calderón should exact a price. If the company otherwise complies with its original obligations, the Cofetel plan can be put on the table, along with a fee, as the cost of a television license.

Standing firm on this point is important to the future of both television and telephony in Mexico. Right now cable companies are trying to deliver telephone services, but Telmex's interconnection rates are making it difficult to compete. Mr. Slim will crush these midsized competitors if he is allowed to offer video without opening telephony.

The Slim dynasty cannot prosper if it cannot expand into television. If Mexican regulators get smart and begin to aggressively privatize the wireless spectrum, its odds are even slimmer. That's why this is the moment to drive a stake through the heart of the Telmex monopoly. If Mr. Calderón passes up the chance, he will seal his own fate as a reformer and practically guarantee that Mexico will fail to live up to its potential in the next decade.
30252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 29, 2008, 06:30:04 AM
I don't understand how the US legal system has obtained jurisdiction over battlefield matters in Iraq:
30253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Asian Banks and Rising Commodity Prices on: May 29, 2008, 12:39:33 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Asian Banks and Rising Commodity Prices
May 28, 2008
Export-based economies that depend on a steady stream of dollars are beginning to feel the effects of an economic slowdown in the United States. This was evident Tuesday when central banks in Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea began selling dollars in what is most likely an effort to strengthen their currencies against the dollar — a conscious decision to demote the importance of cheap exports in favor of controlling inflation.

Typically, East Asian countries hoard dollars in order to keep their own currencies weak. Weak currencies translate into lower prices and higher demand from foreign markets which in turn supports the export-centric East Asian economies. But this system works best when the dollar is strong and the price low for raw material like minerals (including oil), building supplies and food.

Right now this is not the case. With oil at $130 per barrel, grain prices at record highs and raw materials in fierce demand, the situation is becoming dire for manufacturing economies.

The currency-strengthening move undertaken by the central banks Tuesday is a shift in policy. Historically, a weak-currency export strategy has been a mainstay in East Asian economies. In fact, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore all dragged themselves out of post World War II doldrums using this strategy. Since then, they have migrated from manufacturing-based economies to ones that are technological and service-centered. Others like Indonesia (which is still largely agriculturally based) are also hurting from the recent rise in commodity, energy and food prices but not to the degree of a manufacturing-based economy.

The recent currency manipulation strategy raises the specter of the East Asian financial crisis, set off by the Thai government’s decision in 1997 to float the baht. While the events Tuesday do not necessarily signal the beginning of another crisis, they certainly show that at least a few East Asian countries have hit some sort of threshold. They can no longer keep up with rising commodity prices. While Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea are lower- and mid-level economies in East Asia, the decisions by their central banks are important, especially as a sign of what may come.

In fact, the real pain from high commodity prices is not necessarily being felt by the countries that tinkered with their currencies Tuesday, but by China and Thailand. As of 2006, manufacturing made up 41 percent and 35 percent of the Chinese and Thai economies respectively. By far, these countries operate the most manufacturing-dependent economies in East Asia.

In China and Thailand, factories are the backbone of the economy. In order to fuel the machines that produce the goods, these economies demand electricity, heat and large amounts of commodities ranging from iron to copper to platinum. Trucks, trains and boats are required to get those products to port and all consume fuel also. Compared to economies such as Japan, which is much more technology- and service-based, China and Thailand use far more energy and raw materials per dollar of wealth created.

Therein lies their weakness. China in particular is feeling the pain of high commodity prices. Like the other East Asian countries, it also has an export-based economy. But China’s case is special in that its top priority is political stability — a balance derived by providing its people with basic requirements like food. Thus far, China has been successful in doing so by reaping the benefits of a red-hot economy that has brought it wealth at a rapid pace. But rising commodity prices threaten the country’s economy and political stability in two ways. First, the high cost of raw materials and energy means that factories are seeing their already-tight profit margins shrink even further. Second, the rising cost of food can quickly lead to social upheaval if workers cannot afford to feed their families.

Although it has not employed the same methodology as the central banks on Tuesday, China has been taking action to strengthen its currency gradually since July 2005 — not by selling off dollars that it holds, but by making its yuan policy more flexible.

While other countries can buy breathing room by selling off chunks of U.S. dollars, the same luxury does not exist for China. If the yuan stays relatively weak against the dollar, then the country will continue to suffer high commodity prices and become vulnerable to food and energy shortages and thus social unrest. However, if China suddenly ramps up the current gradual strengthening of the yuan, then it risks shuttering factories that depend on exports and thus increasing unemployment. China also runs the risk of devaluing a significant portion of the approximately $1.7 trillion in savings it holds in foreign exchange reserves.

Ultimately, these actions — and those taken by the central banks Tuesday — do not change the fact that China, like all manufacturing-heavy economies, is in for some challenging times ahead.
30254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove says on: May 29, 2008, 12:28:37 AM
Obama's Revisionist History
May 29, 2008; Page A15

This week's minor controversy about Barack Obama's claim that an uncle liberated Auschwitz was quickly put to rest by his campaign. They conceded that it was a great uncle whose unit liberated Buchenwald, 500 miles away.

But other, much more troubling, episodes have provided a revealing glimpse into a candidate who instinctively resorts to parsing, evasions and misdirection. The saga over Rev. Jeremiah Wright is Exhibit A. In just 62 days, Americans were treated to eight different explanations.

First, on Feb. 25, Mr. Obama downplayed Rev. Wright's divisiveness, saying he was "like an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with." A week later, Mr. Obama insisted, "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial," suggesting that Rev. Wright was criticized because "he was one of the leaders in calling for divestment from South Africa and some other issues like that."

The issue exploded on March 13, when ABC showed excerpts from Rev. Wright's sermons. Mr. Obama's spokesman said the senator "deeply disagrees" with Rev. Wright's statements, but "now that he is retired, that doesn't detract from Sen. Obama's affection for Rev. Wright or his appreciation for the good works he has done."

The next day, Mr. Obama offered a fourth defense: "The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation." Mr. Obama also told the Chicago Tribune, "In fairness to him, this was sort of a greatest hits. They basically culled five or six sermons out of 30 years of preaching."

Then, four days later, in Philadelphia, Mr. Obama finally repudiated Rev. Wright's comments, saying they "denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation." But Mr. Obama went on to say, "I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother. . . ."

Ten days later, Mr. Obama said if Rev. Wright had not retired as Trinity's pastor, and "had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended . . . then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church." (Never mind that Rev. Wright had made no such acknowledgment.)

On April 28, at the National Press Club, Rev. Wright re-emerged – not to apologize but to repeat some of his most offensive lines. This provoked an eighth defense: "[W]hatever relationship I had with Rev. Wright has changed, as a consequence of this. I don't think that he showed much concern for me. More importantly, I don't think he showed much concern for what we are trying to do in this campaign . . . ." Self-interest is a powerful, but not noble, sentiment in politics.

The Rev. Wright affair is just one instance where the Illinois senator has said something wrong or offensive, and then offered shifting explanations for his views. Consider flag pins.

Mr. Obama told an Iowa radio station last October he didn't wear an American flag lapel pin because, after 9/11, it had "became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues . . . ." His campaign issued a statement that "Senator Obama believes that being a patriot is about more than a symbol." To highlight his own moral superiority, he denigrated the patriotism of those who wore a flag.

Yet by April, campaigning in culturally conservative Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama was blaming others for the controversy he'd created, claiming, "I have never said that I don't wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us . . . ." A month later Mr. Obama was once again wearing a pin, saying "Sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don't."

The Obama revision tour has been seen elsewhere. Last July, Mr. Obama pledged to meet personally and without precondition, during his first year, the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. Criticized afterwards, he made his pledge more explicitly, naming Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Venezuela strongman Hugo Chávez as leaders he would grace with first-year visits.

By October, Mr. Obama was backpedaling, talking about needing "some progress or some indication of good faith," and by April, "sufficient preparation." It got so bad his foreign policy advisers were (falsely) denying he'd ever said he'd meet with Mr. Ahmadinejad – even as he still defended his original pledge to have meetings without precondition.

The list goes on. Mr. Obama's problem is a campaign that's personality-driven rather than idea-driven. Thus incidents calling into question his persona and character can have especially devastating consequences.

Stripped of his mystique as a different kind of office seeker, he could become just another liberal politician – only one who parses, evades, dissembles and condescends. That narrative is beginning to take hold. If those impressions harden into firm judgments, Mr. Obama will have a very difficult time in November.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
30255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Blame Congress on: May 29, 2008, 12:05:16 AM
Poor Tom-- here's yet another one for you  grin


Blame Congress for High Oil Prices
May 29, 2008; Page A17

Gasoline prices are through the roof and Americans are angry. Someone must be to blame and the obvious villain is "Big Oil" with its alleged ability to gouge consumers and achieve unconscionable, "windfall" profits. Congress is in a vile mood, and has dragged oil industry executives before its committees for show trials, issuing predictable threats of punishment, e.g. a "windfall profits tax."

But if there is a villain in all of this, it is Congress itself. That venerable body has made it impossible for U.S. producers of crude oil to tap significant domestic reserves of oil and gas, and it has foreclosed economically viable alternative sources of energy in favor of unfeasible alternatives such as wind and solar. In addition, Congress has slapped substantial taxes on gasoline. Indeed, as oil industry executives reiterated in their appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 21, 15% of the cost of gasoline at the pump goes for taxes, while only 4% represents oil company profits.

To understand the depth of congressional complicity in the high price of gasoline, one must understand that crude oil prices explain 97% of the variation in the pretax price of gasoline. That price, which has risen to record levels, is set by the intersection of supply and demand. On the one hand, world-wide demand has accelerated mainly due to the rapid growth of China and India.

On the other hand, supply has been curtailed by the cartel-like behavior of foreign national oil companies, which control nearly 80% of world petroleum reserves. Faced with little competition in the production of crude oil, the members of this cartel benefit from keeping the commodity in the ground, confident that increasing demand will make it more valuable in the future. Despite its pious denunciations of the behavior of U.S. investor-owned oil companies (IOCs), Congress by its actions over the years has ensured the economic viability of the national oil company cartel.

It has done so by preventing the exploitation by IOCs of reserves available in nonpark federal lands in the West, Alaska and under the waters off our coasts. These areas hold an estimated 635 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas – enough to meet the needs of the 60 million American homes fueled by natural gas for over a century. They also hold an estimated 112 billion barrels of recoverable oil – enough to produce gasoline for 60 million cars and fuel oil for 25 million homes for 60 years.

This doesn't even include substantial oil shale resources economically recoverable at oil prices substantially lower than those prevailing today. In an exchange between Sen. Orin Hatch (R., Utah) and John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Company during the May 21 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the point was made that anywhere from 800 million to two trillion barrels of oil are available from oil shale in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

If Congress really cared about the economic well-being of American citizens, it would stop fulminating against IOCs and reverse current policies that discourage, indeed prohibit, the production of domestic oil and natural gas. Even the announcement that Congress was opening the way for domestic production would lead to downward pressure on oil prices.

There is an historical precedent for such a step: Ronald Reagan's deregulation of domestic crude oil prices at the beginning of his first term. At the time, thanks to the decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to curtail output, the price of oil was at a level that in real terms is only now being matched. Domestic price controls ensured that the OPEC cartel would face little or no competition in the production of oil.

Price controls were exacerbated by other wrongheaded policies stimulated by the two "energy crises" of the 1970s. One of the most egregious was the infamous "windfall profits" tax, designed to punish oil companies for alleged profiteering. But since it applied to even newly discovered oil, its main impact was to discourage the exploration and drilling that would have increased oil supplies.

Although the energy problems of the 1970s were traceable to government policies, Reagan's decision to deregulate oil prices was ridiculed by policy makers, especially those who had served in the previous administration. For instance, Frank Zarb, who had been Jimmy Carter's "energy czar," predicted that decontrolling the price of crude oil would lead to gasoline prices of $10 a gallon. Instead, the world price of oil plummeted, helping to fuel the extraordinary economic growth of the 1980s.

Reagan's deregulation of crude oil prices created incentives for domestic producers to invest in exploration and to increase production. The threat of increased output by non-OPEC producers destroyed the discipline among OPEC members necessary to restrict production to maintain high prices. Facing the likelihood that an increase in supply would lead to lower future prices, OPEC producers increased output in the hopes of maximizing profits before prices fell. The cascading effect caused oil prices to tumble.

As in the 1970s, U.S. energy policies have essentially restricted the exploitation of domestic sources of energy. Curtailed supplies have combined with rapid, world-wide energy demand to increase the price of oil and other sources of energy. This provides leverage to foreign producers and threatens U.S. energy security. Freeing up domestic energy resources will do today what President Reagan's decision to deregulate oil prices in 1981 did then: cause oil prices to fall, thereby enhancing U.S. energy security.

Mr. Owens is a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.
30256  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches on: May 28, 2008, 11:48:53 PM
I grew up in New York City.  I'm guessing that my sense of personal space was affected by riding on the subway  cheesy  When I first moved to LA, I sensed I was irking a lot of people.  Turns out that my New Yorker's custom of "participatory listening" out here was considered "interrupting"  cheesy cheesy   On my motorcycle I was nearly rear ending cars every day until I figured out that out here people slow down for pedestrians -- when I saw a pedestrian in front of the car in front of me I had seen no reason for it to slow down cheesy cheesy cheesy  A good friend of mine has done serious door work in Germany and Switzerland for many years and can discuss quite intelligently how the same hand gestures mean different things to an Italian or a Yugoslav, etc.  I'm told that in the Arabic cultures men can walk down the street holding hands without it being gay-- try that going into a country music bar in Wyoming. (I read a passage in an article referring to a US officer having to hold hands with a Sunni sheik as part of cross-cultural communication-- VERY funny)

Perhaps Michael would have been a little more artful if he had said something like "black ghetto culture" and "white suburban culture", but does anyone here really think that the body language of the two cultures does not have some differences?

30257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / You can't appease everybody on: May 28, 2008, 08:49:30 PM
Ann has become , , , uneven in recent years, but this one works for me.

You Can't Appease Everybody
by Ann Coulter

Posted: 05/28/2008
After decades of comparing Nixon to Hitler, Reagan to Hitler and Bush to Hitler, liberals have finally decided it is wrong to make comparisons to Hitler. But the only leader to whom they have applied their newfound rule of thumb is: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
While Ahmadinejad has not done anything as starkly evil as cut the capital gains tax, he does deny the Holocaust, call for the destruction of Israel, deny the existence of gays in Iran and refuses to abandon his nuclear program despite protests from the United Nations. That's the only world leader we're not allowed to compare to Hitler.

President Bush's speech at the Knesset two weeks ago was somewhat more nuanced than liberals' Hitler arguments. He did not simply jump up and down chanting: "Ahmadinejad is Hitler!" Instead, Bush condemned a policy of appeasement toward madmen, citing Neville Chamberlain's ill-fated talks with Adolf Hitler.

Suspiciously, Bush's speech was interpreted as a direct hit on B. Hussein Obama's foreign policy -- and that's according to Obama's supporters.

So to defend Obama, who -- according to his supporters -- favors appeasing madmen, liberals expanded the rule against ad Hitlerum arguments to cover any mention of the events leading to World War II. A ban on "You're like Hitler" arguments has become liberals' latest excuse to ignore history.

Unless, of course, it is liberals using historical examples to support Obama's admitted policy of appeasing dangerous lunatics. It's a strange one-sided argument when they can cite Nixon going to China and Reagan meeting with Gorbachev, but we can't cite Chamberlain meeting with Hitler.

There are reasons to meet with a tyrant, but none apply to Ahmadinejad. We're not looking for an imperfect ally against some other dictatorship, as Nixon was with China. And we aren't in a Mexican stand-off with a nuclear power, as Reagan was with the USSR. At least not yet.

Mutually Assured Destruction was bad enough with the Evil Empire, but something you definitely want to avoid with lunatics who are willing to commit suicide in order to destroy the enemies of Islam. As with the H-word, our sole objective with Ahmadinejad is to prevent him from becoming a military power.

What possible reason is there to meet with Ahmadinejad? To win a $20 bar bet as to whether or not the man actually owns a necktie?

We know his position and he knows ours. He wants nuclear arms, American troops out of the Middle East and the destruction of Israel. We don't want that. (This is assuming Mike Gravel doesn't pull off a major upset this November.) We don't need him as an ally against some other more dangerous dictator because ... well, there aren't any.

Does Obama imagine he will make demands of Ahmadinejad? Using what stick as leverage, pray tell? A U.S. boycott of the next Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran? The U.N. has already demanded that Iran give up its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad has ignored the U.N. and that's the end of it.

We always have the ability to "talk" to Ahmadinejad if we have something to say. Bush has a telephone. If Iranian crop dusters were headed toward one of our nuclear power plants, I am quite certain that Bush would be able to reach Ahmadinejad to tell him that Iran will be flattened unless the planes retreat. If his cell phone died, Bush could just post a quick warning on the Huffington Post.

Liberals view talk as an end in itself. They never think through how these talks will proceed, which is why Chamberlain ended up giving away Czechoslovakia. He didn't leave for Munich planning to do that. It is simply the inevitable result of talking with madmen without a clear and obtainable goal. Without a stick, there's only a carrot.

The only explanation for liberals' hysterical zealotry in favor of Obama's proposed open-ended talks with Ahmadinejad is that they seriously imagine crazy foreign dictators will be as charmed by Obama as cable TV hosts whose legs tingle when they listen to Obama (a condition that used to be known as "sciatica").

Because, really, who better to face down a Holocaust denier with a messianic complex than the guy who is afraid of a debate moderated by Brit Hume?

There is no possible result of such a meeting apart from appeasement and humiliation of the U.S. If we are prepared to talk, then we're looking for a deal. What kind of deal do you make with a madman until he is ready to surrender?

Will President Obama listen respectfully as Ahmadinejad says he plans to build nuclear weapons? Will he say he'll get back to Ahmadinejad on removing all U.S. troops from the region? Will he nod his head as Ahmadinejad demands the removal of the Jewish population from the Middle East? Obama says he's prepared to have an open-ended chat with Ahmadinejad, so I guess everything is on the table.

Perhaps in the spirit of compromise, Obama could agree to let Iran push only half of Israel into the sea. That would certainly constitute "change"! Obama could give one of those upbeat speeches of his, saying: As a result of my recent talks with President Ahmadinejad, some see the state of Israel as being half empty. I prefer to see it as half full. And then Obama can return and tell Americans he could no more repudiate Ahmadinejad than he could repudiate his own white grandmother. It will make Chris Matthews' leg tingle.

There is a third reason to talk to dictators, in addition to seeking an ally or as part of a policy of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur talked with Japanese imperial forces on Sept. 2, 1945. There was a long ceremony aboard the USS Missouri with full press coverage and a lot of talk. It was a regular international confab!

It also took place after we had dropped two nukes on Japan and MacArthur was officially accepting Japan's surrender. If Obama plans to drop nukes on Ahmadinejad prior to their little chat-fest, I'm all for it. But I don't think that's what liberals have in mind.
30258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 28, 2008, 07:25:56 PM
One more for you Tom:

No doubt speculation is a part of this, but ultimately speculation is a zero sum game that punishes most of its players.


A bold and long-overdue move aimed at curbing the spread of the latest economic cancer — the seemingly unstoppable rise in oil and gas prices — may soon be on the way.

That's the sunny forecast from one of the country's leading heavyweight investment strategists, Bill Knapp, who tells me relief could be coming via a sharp increase in margin requirements for the purchases of oil futures, an event he sees occurring in the next two to three months.

Speculative trading fueled by low margin requirements, where buyers can acquire a barrel of oil (now around $132.40) for about $6 or $7, or at a leveraged ratio of roughly 20 to 1, has been the major driver of the skyrocketing price.

Congress has been pushing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates commodity futures and options markets in America, to hike margin requirements on crude purchases in an effort to temper the rise in oil prices and give consumers some relief at the gas pump.

Given the impending presidential election and the national uproar over swelling gas prices, Mr. Knapp, who helps guide strategy at a $37 billion money management subsidiary of New York Life, MainStay Investments, gives Congress a 50-50 chance of bringing about higher margin requirements and increasing the leveraged ratio to possibly 4:1.

Oppenheimer & Co.'s veteran energy analyst, Fadel Gheit, sums it up: "With the stock market acting so erratically, oil is the only game in town; it's the last bastion for traders. Government action to boost margin requirements is badly needed and long overdue."

A CFTC spokesman declined to comment.

With the price of gas likely within days of exceeding a national average of $4 a gallon, and growing speculation that prices of $5-plus will begin popping up frequently during the upcoming summer driving season, government action to halt the rise through higher margin requirements on oil purchases is also viewed as probable by a number of other pros. Each $1 a barrel increase or decrease in the price of oil eventually adds up to 2.5 cents more or less at the gas pump.

Mr. Knapp believes that an increase in margin requirements could trigger an avalanche of oil sales by traders that could knock the price down to between $60 and $80 a barrel. "Considering all the speculation, you could see a wave of profit taking by speculators that could drive down oil prices pretty quickly," he says.

He also says the price of oil could come under pressure from a falloff in demand from developed countries, notably America, Japan, and some in Europe.

Mr. Knapp cautions, though, that "if the price of oil doesn't come down really soon, you could see the U.S., as well as the whole world, dip into a recession later this year and in early 2009." Actually, given his projected boost in margin requirements for oil purchases, he thinks a recession can be avoided. This assumes, he points out, "we can weather the triple whammy, namely the downturn in housing, the credit crisis, and elevated energy prices."

The latest housing numbers, however, show continued weakness, with the backlog of single-family homes at the highest level in more than two decades. At the same time, April sales of existing homes fell for the eighth time in the past nine months as prices dropped 8% from a year ago. Still, Mr. Knapp sees some positive signs. He points, for example, to some pockets of recovery, increased affordability due to the decline in home prices, pent-up demand, and decent mortgage rates. Taking note, as well, of recent peppier figures on housing starts and permits, he reckons a housing recovery could kick off this summer.

As for ongoing credit worries, he thinks they may be overblown, given declining write-downs in the financial sector.

In arguing against a recession, Mr. Knapp holds out the possibility of a single quarter of negative growth in the gross domestic product sandwiched in between two quarters of puny GDP growth. A better-than-expected trade deficit in March suggests to him that first-quarter GDP will be revised upward to 1% growth or better from the initial estimated growth of 0.6%.

Relating his thinking to the likely direction of the stock market, Mr. Knapp observes that equities are basically attractive, assuming you burst the oil bubble, lower inflation expectations, and housing rebounds.

Technology stands out at the moment as his top-rated sector. What about those rampaging energy stocks? Despite the big gains, he views their valuations as reasonable, based on the current price of oil.

30259  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The man in the parking lot on: May 28, 2008, 07:17:24 PM
About two months ago, my wife took her children along with her to the supermarket.  As she approached the van, a large aggressive panhandler came out from behind the van.  Her maternal spidersense tingled strongly.  The panhandler kept spewing his approach patter as she hustled our children behind her and sought to assert her space.  One of the men who worked for the supermarket happened to be outside and saw what happened.  Immediately and forcefully he got into the panhandler's face and ran him completely out of the parking lot.  My wife thanked him and came home.

That evening she told me of this Adventure in her day.  Inside I felt somehow wrong that I had not been there.  Foolish of course, but still, there it was.

When she was done I asked her to describe the man who had helped her.

For the past two months, I have looked for a man of that description whenever I was in the supermarket.  A couple of days ago I saw a man who matched the description helping another customer.  He carried himself with quiet dignity and pride in his work.  I waited for him to finish and approached and asked him if he had helped a woman of a certain height and hair color with children deal with an aggressive panhandler a couple of months ago.  He said he had.  "I'm the husband of that woman and the father of those children.  I want to shake your hand in thanks." 

As we shook hands I could sense his emotions at this unexpected moment in his workday.  Then a thought crossed his face as it crossed his mind.  "How did you know it was me?"

"I asked my wife for your description so I could personally thank you."

"Oh, the black guy" he guessed.

Actually the description had been slender build, about 60 years old, black, dignified-- but of course he was right that this had been part of the description-- a bummer that this touched something sad in him.   As he was there in front of me I sensed he had grown up in a different time and place-- a time and place where race could sneak up and ding a man if he weren't careful. 

Moving the conversation along, I repeated in my thanks in different words and we became simply one man thanking another for stepping forward to protect his family.  We shook hands again and I could feel his quiet pride as I walked away. 

And I felt whole for expressing my gratitude to him.
30260  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches on: May 28, 2008, 05:20:02 PM
Lets stay light here people.  Surely we can all agree that there are cultural differences in body language?  Delineating where the cultural boundaries lay and how they are defined is a separate and additional point.
30261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 28, 2008, 04:30:45 PM
"Its really hard for me though, to deal with the idea that we have allowed ourselves into the situation that has now evolved.......and why did it take so long to happen?"

Well, we have-- and a goodly portion of the reason is that for a variety of reasons, some good, some understandable, and a lot of them really stupid-- for decades the liberal left has sedulously worked to prevent the development of additional supplies.

The reason it has taken so long is that this is an amazing country that has a relatively free market (though a lot less than it used to be).

Glad to see you expanding your reading to this forum.  I think if you go back into the threads that address issues of interest to you, you will find them to be wonderful tools of self-education and research.  It is why this forum is organized this way.

ACTION ALERT: Fight Back Against High Gas Prices And the Politicians Who Will Make them Higher Still
By Newt Gingrich 

There must be something about springtime in Washington that makes Senators forget where they came from.

Next week, the Senate is set to begin debate on a bill that will raise the price of gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and aviation fuel.(view this Heritage Foundation state-by-state breakdown to find out how much Warner Lieberman will cost you). It's the Warner-Lieberman global warming bill, and its supporters are as misguided and out-of-touch with the American people as the supporters of last spring's immigration amnesty bill - and we all remember how that turned out.

Our Goal: 100,000 Voices the Senate Can't Ignore
There are two things you can do now to fight back.

First, call or email your Senator and tell him or her to vote "no" on Warner-Lieberman - "no" on raising the cost of driving to work, heating your home, and feeding your family.

Second, visit and sign our "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" petition.

The petition is simple but powerful. It says:

We, therefore, the undersigned citizens of the United States, petition the U.S. Congress to act immediately to lower gasoline prices by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries.

In just a few short days, over 45,000 Americans have signed the pledge.

And with your help, as the Senate begins to debate Warner-Lieberman, American Solutions will present the names of 100,000 of their constituents who will hold them accountable if they fail to allow America the freedom to use its own energy resources instead of relying on foreign dictators.

Americans truly have a choice - a choice between the Pay More, Send More Money to Foreign Dictators and Cripple America Left and the Produce More, Enjoy More, Pay Less, Stengthen American Center-Right Majority.

Make your choice by visiting
Newt Gingrich
30262  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: desperately seeking dogbrother on: May 28, 2008, 04:25:03 PM

No doubt you are not alone  cheesy but I feel it best to keep a description of the actions of a troubled individual off this public place.

30263  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: home made equipment on: May 28, 2008, 04:21:39 PM
Today this knuckledragger just picked up up two used large tires for sledgehammere work.  Simple mind, simple pleasures  cool
30264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: US Iranian negotiations on: May 28, 2008, 11:52:28 AM
The U.S.-Iranian Negotiations: Beyond the Rhetoric
February 12, 2008 | 1943 GMT
By George Friedman

Tehran has announced that Iran and the United States will hold a new round of talks on the future of Iraq at some point next week. The Iranians said that the “structure of the discussions have been finalized but the level of participation has not yet been agreed.” Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to visit Iraq before March 20, the Iranian New Year. The United States has not denied either of these reports. There thus appears to be some public movement occurring in the U.S.-Iranian talks over Iraq.

These talks are not new. This would be the fourth in a series of meetings; the most recent meeting happened last August. These meetings have been scheduled and canceled before, and because who will attend this go-round remains unsettled, these talks may never get off the ground. More significant, no Iranian president has visited Iraq since the Khomeini revolution. If this visit took place, it would represent a substantial evolution. It also is not something that would happen unopposed if the United States did not want it to; by contrast, the Iraqi government lacks much of a say in the matter because it does not have that much room for maneuver. So we can say this much: Nothing has happened yet, but the Iranians have repositioned themselves as favoring some sort of diplomatic initiative from their side and the Americans so far have not done anything to discourage them.

U.S.-Iranian negotiations are always opaque because they are ideologically difficult to justify by both sides. For Iran, the United States is the Great Satan. For the United States, Iran is part of the Axis of Evil. It is difficult for Iran to talk to the devil or for the United States to negotiate with evil. Therefore, U.S.-Iranian discussions always take place in a strange way. The public rhetoric between the countries is always poisonous. If you simply looked at what each country says about the other, you would assume that no discussions are possible. But if you treat the public rhetoric as simply designed to manage domestic public opinion, and then note the shifts in policy outside of the rhetorical context, a more complex picture emerges. Public and private talks have taken place, and more are planned. If you go beyond the talks to actions, things become even more interesting.

We have discussed this before, but it is important to understand the strategic interests of the two countries at this point to understand what is going on. Ever since the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq has been the buffer between the Iranians and the Arabian Peninsula. The United States expected to create a viable pro-American government quickly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and therefore expected that Iraq would continue to serve as a buffer. That did not happen for a number of reasons, and therefore the strategic situation has evolved.

The primary American interest in Iraq at this point is a negative one — namely, that Iraq not become an Iranian satellite. If that were to happen and Iranian forces entered Iraq, the entire balance of power in the Arabian Peninsula would collapse. Whatever the future of Iraq, U.S. policy since the surge and before has been to prevent a vacuum into which Iran can move. The primary Iranian interest in Iraq also is negative. Tehran must make sure that no Iraqi government is formed that is dominated by Sunnis, as happened under the Baathists, and that the Iraqi military never becomes powerful enough to represent an offensive threat to Iran. In other words, above all else, Iran’s interest is to avoid a repeat of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Obviously, each side has positive goals. The United States would love to see a powerful, pro-American Iraqi government that could threaten Iran on its own. The Iranians would love to see a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Neither side is in a position to achieve these goals. The United States cannot create a pro-U.S. government because the Iranians, through their influence in the Shiite community, can create sufficient chaos to make that impossible. Through the surge, the United States has demonstrated to the Iranians that it is not withdrawing from Iraq, and the Iranians do not have the ability to force an American withdrawal. So long as the Americans are there and moving closer to the Sunnis, the Iranians cannot achieve their positive goals and also must harbor concerns about the long-term future of Iraq. Each side has blocked the other’s strategic positive goal. Each side now wants to nail down its respective negative goal: avoiding the thing it fears the most.

Ever since the 2006 U.S. congressional midterm elections, when President George W. Bush confounded Iranian expectations by actually increasing forces in Iraq rather than beginning a phased withdrawal, the two countries have been going through a complex process of talks and negotiations designed to achieve their negative ends: the creation of an Iraq that cannot threaten Iran but can be a buffer against Iranian expansion. Neither side trusts the other, and each would love to take advantage of the situation to achieve its own more ambitious goals. But the reality on the ground is that each side would be happy if it avoided the worst-case scenario.

Again, ignoring the rhetoric, there has been a fairly clear sequence of events. Casualties in Iraq have declined — not only U.S. military casualties but also civilian casualties. The civil war between Sunni and Shia has declined dramatically, although it did not disappear. Sunnis and Shia both were able to actively project force into more distant areas, so the decline did not simply take place because neighborhoods became more homogeneous, nor did it take place because of the addition of 30,000 troops. Though the United States created a psychological shift, even if it uses its troops more effectively, Washington cannot impose its will on the population. A change in tactics or an increase of troops to 150,000 cannot control a country of 25 million bent on civil war.

The decline in intracommunal violence is attributable to two facts. The first is the alliance between the United States and Sunni leaders against al Qaeda, which limited the jihadists’ ability to strike at the Shia. The second is the decision by the Iranians to control the actions of Iranian-dominated militias. The return of Muqtada al-Sadr — the most radical of the Shiite leaders — to ayatollah school and his decision to order his followers to cease fire dramatically reduced Shiite-on-Sunni violence. That would not, and could not, have happened without Iranian concurrence. If the Iranians had wanted the civil war to continue unabated, it would have. The Iranians cannot eliminate all violence, nor do they want to. They want the Americans to understand that they can resume the violence at will. Nevertheless, without the Iranian decision to limit the violence, the surge would not have worked.

If the prime Iranian threat against the United States was civil war in Iraq, the prime American threat against Iran was an air campaign against Iranian infrastructure. Such a campaign was publicly justified by the U.S. claim that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. With the Iranians having removed the threat of overwhelming civil war in Iraq, the United States responded by removing the threat of an air campaign. The publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stating that Iran does not have a nuclear program at present effectively signaled the Iranians that there would be no campaign.

There was intense speculation that the NIE was a “coup” by the intelligence community against the president. Though an interesting theory, not a single author of the NIE has been fired, none of the intelligence community leaders has been removed, and the president has very comfortably lived with the report’s findings. He has lowered the threat of war against Iran while holding open the possibility — as the NIE suggests — that the Iranians might still be a threat, and that a new NIE might require airstrikes.

The Iranians reduced Shiite violence. The United States reduced the threat of airstrikes. At various points, each side has tested and signaled to the other. The Iranians have encouraged small-scale attacks by Shia in recent weeks, but nothing like what was going on a year or two ago. During Bush’s trip to the region, the United States triggered a crisis in the Strait of Hormuz to signal the Iranians that the United States retains its options. The rhetoric remains apocalyptic, but the reality is that, without admitting it, each side has moved to lower the temperature.

Clearly, secret negotiations are under way. The announcement that an agreement was reached on the structure and subject of a public meeting this week by definition means that unpublicized conversations have been taking place. Similarly, the announcement that Ahmadinejad will be visiting Iraq could not have come without extensive back-channel discussions. We would suspect that these discussions actually have been quite substantial.

The Iranians have made clear what they want in these negotiations. Mottaki was quoted in the Iranian media as saying, “We did express our readiness for entering into negotiations with the U.S. when the talks were held by the five Security Council permanent members plus Germany over Iran’s nuclear program.” He also said that, “Revising its policies toward Iran, the U.S. can pave the way for us to consider the circumstances needed for such talks to be held.” Since talks are being held, it must indicate some movement on the American part.

It all comes down to this: The United States, at the very least, wants a coalition government in Iraq not controlled by Iran, which can govern Iraq and allow the United States to draw down its forces. The Iranians want an Iraqi government not controlled by the United States or the Sunnis, which can control Iraq but not be strong enough to threaten Iran. Iran also wants the United States to end sanctions against Iran, while the United States wants Iran to end all aspects of its nuclear program.

Ending sanctions is politically difficult for the United States. Ending all aspects of the nuclear program is difficult for Iran. The United States can finesse the sanctions issue by turning a blind eye to third powers trading with Iran and allowing U.S. companies to set up foreign subsidiaries to conduct trade with Iran. The Iranians can finesse the nuclear issue, maintaining limited aspects of the program but not pursuing all the technologies needed to build a weapon.

Rhetoric aside, we are therefore in a phase where there are ways for each side to get what it wants. Obviously, the political process is under way in both countries, with Iranian parliamentary elections on March 14 and the U.S. presidential race in full swing. Much domestic opposition is building up against Ahmadinejad, and an intensifying power struggle in Iran could be a fairly large distraction for the country in the short term. The Iranians also could wait a bit more to see how the U.S. presidential campaign shapes up before making any major decisions.

But then, a political process is always under way. That means the rhetoric will remain torrid; the public meetings few and low-key; the private discussions ongoing; and actions by each side sometimes inexplicable, keyed as they are to private discussions.

But it is clear from this week’s announcements by the Iranians that there is movement under way. If the Iranian president does visit Iraq and the United States makes no effort to block him, that will be the signal that some sort of accommodation has been reached. The United States and Iran will not recognize each other and will continue to condemn and even threaten each other. But this is truly a case where their rhetoric does not begin to reflect the reality.
30265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: May 28, 2008, 11:47:57 AM
E-mail Warning in Juarez
While there was a slight increase in the number of murders in Ciudad Juarez over the weekend, it was hardly the bloodbath predicted in an e-mail that began circulating among residents May 22. The anonymous e-mail promised it would be “the bloodiest weekend in the history of Juarez” and warned residents to stay in their homes because gunmen would be shooting at malls, restaurants and other public places.

The e-mail referred to the upcoming violence as “La Limpia” or “The Cleansing,” which prompted Juarez Public Safety Secretary Orduna Cruz to issue a statement urging the citizens of Juarez to stay calm. As it turned out, the most significant murders of the weekend were those of police officers Fabian Reyes Urbina and Carlos Valdez Rodriguez –- both were wearing full uniforms when they were gunned down May 23 while getting into a 1993 Ford Escort. That same day, five bodies were discovered at an intersection wrapped in blankets; two of the five were decapitated and their heads were found in plastic bags next to the bodies — the typical signature of a cartel killing. Press releases from government officials in Chihuahua state put the total number of murders in Juarez over the weekend at 22. Murders for this past week totaled 33, a slight increase from 25 the previous week.

The e-mail warning had its effect in Juarez. Several night clubs and restaurants were closed over the weekend and traffic was scarce on many city streets as most of the residents stayed in their homes. Regardless of the unknown author’s intentions, the e-mail demonstrated that such a warning could have significant economic impact. Some store owners reportedly lost as much as 60 percent of their business over the weekend. Cross-border tourism from Juarez’s sister city, El Paso, Texas, essentially came to halt over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, which is normally a high-traffic holiday.

Target Lists
Banners with the names of 21 state police officials appeared on overpasses and bridges May 25 in Chihuahua City. The names were written in black ink and signed by Gente Nueva, a break-away group from the Gulf cartel that is funded by factions of the Sinaloa cartel, which has been fighting for influence in the area since early 2007. The emblazoned names are reminiscent of the list found at the fallen officer memorial in Juarez in January. Since then, of the 17 officers named, almost half have been assassinated.

May 19
A banner reading “Join us or die,” referring to local police, was posted in Juarez.
Four people thought to be Americans were shot in the head and dumped in a notorious drug-smuggling area of Rosarito.
José Martínez Quiñónez, a top commander of the security arm of the state attorney general’s office in Chihuahua state, was assassinated outside his home in the Juarez suburb of Parral.
May 20
The bodies of two high-level state police officials in Morelos state were found in the trunk of a car on a highway between Cuernavaca and Mexico City. The bodies had single gunshot wounds to the head and showed signs of torture. A note attached to the car read, “This is what happens to those who walk with El Chapo.”
Former army major Roberto Orduna Cruz took over the 1,600-man Juarez police force.
Sixteen people were killed in a firefight in Durango.
May 21
The Mexican military took control of Villa Ahumada, a small town 80 kilometers south of Juarez, after the entire police force quit. Officers were afraid of being assassinated.
May 22
An anonymous e-mail began circulating around Juarez and El Paso advising residents to stay indoors over the upcoming weekend. The e-mail also claimed that recent executions in Juarez were in response to threats made by the Juarez cartel.
The U.S. Senate passed the Merida Initiative, a $400 million aid package designed to help the Mexican government halt drug traffic into the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives passed its own aid package the previous week.
May 23
Fabian Reyes Urbina and Carlos Valdez Rodriguez, two municipal policemen in Juarez, were shot and killed as they were getting into a 1993 Ford Escort.
Juarez police discovered the charred remains of three individuals in a burned out car.
Five blanket-wrapped bodies, two of which had been decapitated, were found in the middle of an intersection in Juarez.
Four decapitated heads were found in four separate ice chests six kilometers outside of Durango.
May 24
Two men were found dead in the Rio Bravo neighborhood in Juarez.
One man was found dead in his SUV in Juarez with over 100 bullet holes in his vehicle.
May 25
A charred body was found in the back of pickup truck in a parking lot in Juarez. Authorities were unable to identify the sex of the body because of the extensive burns.
The unidentified body of a male between the age of 35 and 40 and with five bullet wounds was found at an intersection in Juarez.

30266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 28, 2008, 11:41:34 AM

If elections for the U.S. Senate were held today, they would be a disaster for the Republican Party approaching the scale of its 2006 defeat when the GOP lost six seats in the upper chamber. That's the conclusion as analysts examine the latest polling on the 35 seats in contention this November.

The Hill newspaper reports that Democratic candidates now have a lead or are within the margin of error in races for a stunning 11 Senate seats held by the GOP -- meaning almost half of the 23 Republican-held seats are in serious jeopardy. In contrast, only one of the 12 Democratic seats in play this year (Mary Landrieu's in Louisiana) is currently at serious risk.

Admittedly, polls at this stage in a race often prove poor forecasting tools, especially if one of the candidates is not well known. In addition, incumbents often are able eventually to recover by bringing their superior fund-raising firepower to bear and resetting the campaign agenda to their advantage.

Still, Republicans admit to being worried that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is trailing his Democratic challenger by five points in a new Rasmussen Reports poll. A rattled McConnell campaign promptly released its own poll showing their man with an 11-point lead.

Similar worry is being expressed about Senator Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina. A new poll from the Civitas Institute has her holding only a two-point lead over her Democratic opponent.

Other seats held by GOP Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi are also in jeopardy. No one expects Republicans to lose all of the seats now threatened, but Democrats in theory could achieve their goal of a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate, allowing them potentially to ram through a far-reaching agenda with the help of a Democratic House and a new Democratic president.

-- John Fund

Mugged by Reality

John McCain is discovering just how tricky it can be to comply with our nation's Byzantine campaign-finance laws. At least it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, since he wrote many of those laws and defends them so vigorously.

Last week he cashiered Craig Shirley, a consultant to the campaign, after asked how Mr. Shirley could be working for the McCain campaign at the same time that he was being paid by a 527 group called "Stop Her Now." Mr. Shirley describes "Stop Her Now" as a "lighthearted" 527, not a swift-boating operation, but that wasn't enough to save his McCain account.

Mr. Shirley downplayed the connection, and the McCain campaign pleaded ignorance. But it's just the latest sign that even a careful campaign can run afoul of McCain-Feingold's intrusive restrictions on political speech. Such 527 groups were created to evade the law's restrictions on fund-raising and spending by candidates, so to pass legal muster they have to evince "independence" and a lack of "coordination" with any candidate's campaign. That's harder to do when the same personnel are working for both.

You can expect more such stories between now and November about campaign consultants and staffers with fingers in multiple pies -- the hapless Rube Goldbergism of the campaign finance laws virtually guarantees it. And the Senator from Arizona has himself to thank.

-- Brian M. Carney

The Obama Doctrine

HONG KONG -- Look no further than this week's meeting between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese leader Hu Jintao. The international trading order is reshaping itself in ways that seem to anticipate a Democratic victory in November's U.S. presidential election.

As difficult as the China-Korea relationship has been, China is already Korea's largest trading partner, and now both have placed a possible free-trade agreement on their to-do lists. South Korea is considering moving forward with such a deal (and, for that matter, a similar pact with the European Union) even as its free-trade deal with the U.S. languishes unratified in Washington. The message to the Democratic Congress is clear: The world will move on while American politicians stall.

Barack Obama, who has been all over the map on trade, should take note. He recently pledged to "maintain strong ties" with South Korea, yet has adopted the Democratic litmus stance of opposing free-trade deals. The Europeans and China's Mr. Hu understand why this won't fly in today's world even if Mr. Obama apparently doesn't.

-- Joseph Sternberg

Quote of the Day

"Imagine that John McCain named a young running mate to campaign with him, and this national rookie suggested America had 58 states, repeatedly used the wrong names for the cities he was visiting, and honored a Memorial Day crowd by acknowledging the 'fallen heroes' who were present, somehow alive and standing in the audience. How long would it take for the national media to see another Dan Quayle caricature? Let's raise the stakes. What if it was the GOP presidential candidate making these thoroughly ridiculous comments? This scenario is very real, except it isn't McCain. It's the other fellow. ABC reporter Jake Tapper follows politicians around for a living. On his blog, he suggested Barack Obama has a problem: 'The man has been a one-man gaffe machine'" -- Brent Bozell, head of the conservative Media Research Center.

He's Seen Their Kind Before

The Senate is poised to debate a controversial "cap and trade" system that would put an overall limit on U.S. carbon emissions in an effort to combat global warming. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, an economist who has studied Europe's experience with cap-and-trade, flew into Washington yesterday to tell the National Press Club just how bad an idea it really is.

Mr. Klaus is the author of a new book, "Blue Planet in Green Shackles -- What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?" He argues that the regulatory ambitions of today's global warming crowd "resemble very much the dreams of communist central planners" who ruled his country from 1948 to 1989.

"The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is no longer socialism,'' he told the National Press Club. "It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism. Like their [communist] predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality. In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat -- this time, in the name of the planet."

After his talk, Mr. Klaus was asked why so many scientists seem to have climbed onto the global warming bandwagon. He replied that the careers and funding sources of many scientists now are dependent on "climate alarmism" and climate alarmists have become an interest group with the power to intimidate into silence skeptical colleagues and public figures. The climate issue, he added, "is in the hands of climatologists and other related scientists who are highly motivated to look in one direction only."

Yesterday, Mr. Klaus demonstrated that he remains one influential figure more than happy to challenge the conventional wisdom in public. He noted that he had several times challenged Al Gore to debate but had been refused. Mr. Gore has said that such debates would only elevate the skeptics, but he may have another motivation for avoiding Mr. Klaus. As the late William F. Buckley once put it, "Why does bologna reject the grinder?"

30267  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: home made equipment on: May 28, 2008, 10:50:40 AM
Good idea for a thread
30268  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches on: May 28, 2008, 10:49:50 AM
Also worth noting is that these hand gestures can also be used to mask the initiation of hostilities.
30269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dowd snaps on Hillibllaries on: May 28, 2008, 09:07:33 AM
Can He Take a Frisk?
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Published: May 28, 2008
After “Rahmbo” Emanuel, the Illinois congressman dubbed “the hostage negotiator” by the Obama forces, fails to talk Hillary down, Barack Obama knows that he is left with one final roll of the dice. He sets up a secret meeting with Bill Clinton in neutral territory at Rahm’s hideaway office in the Capitol.

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Maureen Dowd

Go to Columnist Page » Bill arrives two hours late, red-faced and truculent.

“If you brought me over here to cry uncle, shame on you, Barack Obama. You and your press lackeys are engaged in a cover-up even though Hillary’s winnin’ the popular vote and the general election.”

“Hey, Bill, please, stop wagging your finger at me. Call off Harold Ickes and the Hillaryland Huns. You’re right. I can’t win without her. The two of us can clean McCain’s grandfather clock.”

“Goshalmighty. You could knock me over with a hair on a biscuit, Barack. Smart move, everybody wins. Now Hillary won’t be the skunk at your Denver garden party.”

“That’s why they call me: No Drama Obama.”

“You’re a natural, like me. I was for hope; you are for hope. I was for change; you are for change. I took the Camelot sword from J.F.K.; you took it from Teddy. I would have been with you from the beginning except for that little deal I had with Hillary. She’s going to be so relieved that she doesn’t have to return to the back rows of the Senate with everybody there snickering that she flopped. And if something happens to you, God forbid, she’s right there in the Situation Room, ready to go at 3 a.m. on her Day One.”

“Yeah. I really want to announce this quickly, so let’s clear up a few niggling details.”

“Thank goodness you’ve got Jim Johnson frisking me. He’s the guy who missed all the baggage weighing down Geraldine Ferraro’s husband.”

“Mr. President, I’m going to run a very transparent administration, everything on C-Span. So I’ll need a full accounting of your foundation donors.”

“Oh, sure thing, buddy, from this day forward.”

“No, Bill, we’ll need full disclosure of your business dealings for the last eight years. And you can no longer accept Arab millions — not if I’m going to talk tough to them about oil. I can’t send Hillary on diplomatic missions to the Middle East if you’re taking money from Dubai and Kuwait. And no more trips to Kazakhstan. I wouldn’t want to have to put a Geiger-counter bracelet on you to check that you’re not involved in another shady uranium deal.”

“Ha, ha.”

“We need to know where that $11 million came from that you guys loaned your campaign. And the $15 million from Ron Burkle at Yucaipa and the $3 million from Vinod Gupta. And you must spill about any offshore accounts in the Caymans. And no more big-money speeches, Bill. You guys have already cashed in for more than $100 million.”

“You’re right, Barack, no more speeches. Just conversations. If a C.E.O. interviews me in front of a small audience, that’s fine. But no speeches.”

“I’m not debating the meaning of the word ‘speech,’ Bill. We’re going to have an administration so squeaky clean that it makes Jimmy Carter look like Marc Rich. All your trips abroad will have to be authorized by a higher authority.”

“The State Department? Fine, I’ll check with them.”


“Oh, no. Not that.”

“Yes, Michelle. She’ll have you on a much shorter leash, Bill, and it’s not so fun. There’ll be no more Ron Air, no Burkling and Binging. Eight long years of Michelle watching your every move. No eruptions of any kind. And that big telescope in the Naval Observatory is off limits. We’re going to be a family-values administration. And in the campaign, we’ll use you the way Al Gore did: Not at all. No more Bill YouTube meltdowns.”

“You know, Barack, the more I’m seein’ what you’ve got in mind for me, the more I’m worryin’ that Hillary’s just not cut out for this job. You don’t want her glomming on to everythin’. Since she’s almost even with the delegates, she’ll want to go halfsies in the government. She’ll want to run foreign policy, cause you know nothin’ about that. And legal stuff, because you never practiced real law. And economic policy, ’cause she connected better with working-class voters. And everything to do with white people, of course. I’ve got to level with you, man. Hillary’s a lot of work. And that Kathleen Sebelius is terrific and has those twinkly eyes.”

“So, Bill, you’re not wedded to Hillary being vice president? You won’t sabotage my campaign if I pick somebody I like, I mean, like, if I pick somebody else?”

“Nah. Now that I see the big picture, the idea of Hillary as your No. 2 was always a fairy tale.”
30270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: States rights, federalism on: May 28, 2008, 08:54:09 AM
"The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition
of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the
national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in
the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and
very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds,
in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 9, 1787)

Reference: The Federalist
30271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 27, 2008, 04:35:42 PM

I got about 4:30 into it and , , , that's as far as I can go.

The guy makes some sound points.  Yes there is an excrement load of undrilled oil out there in various forms.  Some of it is not being drilled because its really dirty, or would require refineries with capabilities as yet unbuilt.  Why hasn't the US built a refinery since the mid 1970s?  Good question , , , and its answer is not the rapacious oil companies, who would love to have lots of refineries, but the liberals who accuse the oil companies of being the problem.

Some of it is not being used because the planet cannot support the filth that would ensue from such dirty supplies.

Some of it requires huge investment in infrastructure (e.g. how the hell to get the Canadian tar sands to market?) and burn it cleanly?

Some of it is there, but not likely to be economically successful for a long time.

Some investment is forclosed because of security risks.  Woud you drill in Kazakstan if it were your money?  Some of it is blocked off due to foreign domestic politics e.g. Mexico.

Some of the guys numbers SOUND authoritative, but I'm not aware of the Russians having huge finds at 40,000' (40,000' Huh) beneath the Artic Sea.  I know they have been manuvering to claim most of the Artic sea bed with some tiny scientific drilling, (there's a thread on this forum devoted to this BTW) but to read this as something being held back from market is , , , silly.

Ultimately, just because it exists, does not mean its available in a politically secure, economically profitable, and environmentally acceptable manner.

Here's something from Stratfor I think a better use of our time:

May 27, 2008
By George Friedman

Oil prices have risen dramatically over the past year. When they passed $100 a barrel, they hit new heights, expressed in dollars adjusted for inflation. As they passed $120 a barrel, they clearly began to have global impact. Recently, we have seen startling rises in the price of food, particularly grains. Apart from higher prices, there have been disruptions in the availability of food as governments limit food exports and as hoarding increases in anticipation of even higher prices.

Oil and food differ from other commodities in that they are indispensable for the functioning of society. Food obviously is the more immediately essential. Food shortages can trigger social and political instability with startling swiftness. It does not take long to starve to death. Oil has a less-immediate — but perhaps broader — impact. Everything, including growing and marketing food, depends on energy; and oil is the world’s primary source of energy, particularly in transportation. Oil and grains — where the shortages hit hardest — are not merely strategic commodities. They are geopolitical commodities. All nations require them, and a shift in the price or availability of either triggers shifts in relationships within and among nations.

It is not altogether clear to us why oil and grains have behaved as they have. The question for us is what impact this generalized rise in commodity prices — particularly energy and food — will have on the international system. We understand that it is possible that the price of both will plunge. There is certainly a speculative element in both. Nevertheless, based on the realities of supply conditions, we do not expect the price of either to fall to levels that existed in 2003. We will proceed in this analysis on the assumption that these prices will fluctuate, but that they will remain dramatically higher than prices were from the 1980s to the mid-2000s.

If that assumption is true and we continue to see elevated commodity prices, perhaps rising substantially higher than they are now, then it seems to us that we have entered a new geopolitical era. Since the end of World War II, we have lived in three geopolitical regimes, broadly understood:

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, in which the focus was on the military balance between those two countries, particularly on the nuclear balance. During this period, all countries, in some way or another, defined their behavior in terms of the U.S.-Soviet competition.
The period from the fall of the Berlin Wall until 9/11, when the primary focus of the world was on economic development. This was the period in which former communist countries redefined themselves, East and Southeast Asian economies surged and collapsed, and China grew dramatically. It was a period in which politico-military power was secondary and economic power primary.
The period from 9/11 until today that has been defined in terms of the increasing complexity of the U.S.-jihadist war — a reality that supplanted the second phase and redefined the international system dramatically.
With the U.S.-jihadist war in either a stalemate or a long-term evolution, its impact on the international system is diminishing. First, it has lost its dynamism. The conflict is no longer drawing other countries into it. Second, it is becoming an endemic reality rather than an urgent crisis. The international system has accommodated itself to the conflict, and its claims on that system are lessening.

The surge in commodity prices — particularly oil — has superseded the U.S.-jihadist war, much as the war superseded the period in which economic issues dominated the global system. This does not mean that the U.S.-jihadist war will not continue to rage, any more than 9/11 abolished economic issues. Rather, it means that a new dynamic has inserted itself into the international system and is in the process of transforming it.

It is a cliche that money and power are linked. It is nevertheless true. Economic power creates political and military power, just as political and military power can create economic power. The rise in the price of oil is triggering shifts in economic power that are in turn creating changes in the international order. This was not apparent until now because of three reasons. First, oil prices had not risen to the level where they had geopolitical impact. The system was ignoring higher prices. Second, they had not been joined in crisis condition by grain prices. Third, the permanence of higher prices had not been clear. When $70-a-barrel oil seemed impermanent, and likely to fall below $50, oil was viewed very differently than it was at $130, where a decline to $100 would be dramatic and a fall to $70 beyond the calculation of most. As oil passed $120 a barrel, the international system, in our view, started to reshape itself in what will be a long-term process.

Obviously, the winners in this game are those who export oil, and the losers are those who import it. The victory is not only economic but political as well. The ability to control where exports go and where they don’t go transforms into political power. The ability to export in a seller’s market not only increases wealth but also increases the ability to coerce, if that is desired.

The game is somewhat more complex than this. The real winners are countries that can export and generate cash in excess of what they need domestically. So countries such as Venezuela, Indonesia and Nigeria might benefit from higher prices, but they absorb all the wealth that is transferred to them. Countries such as Saudi Arabia do not need to use so much of their wealth for domestic needs. They control huge and increasing pools of cash that they can use for everything from achieving domestic political stability to influencing regional governments and the global economic system. Indeed, the entire Arabian Peninsula is in this position.

The big losers are countries that not only have to import oil but also are heavily industrialized relative to their economy. Countries in which service makes up a larger sector than manufacturing obviously use less oil for critical economic functions than do countries that are heavily manufacturing-oriented. Certainly, consumers in countries such as the United States are hurt by rising prices. And these countries’ economies might slow. But higher oil prices simply do not have the same impact that they do on countries that both are primarily manufacturing-oriented and have a consumer base driving cars.

East Asia has been most affected by the combination of sustained high oil prices and disruptions in the food supply. Japan, which imports all of its oil and remains heavily industrialized (along with South Korea), is obviously affected. But the most immediately affected is China, where shortages of diesel fuel have been reported. China’s miracle — rapid industrialization — has now met its Achilles’ heel: high energy prices.

China is facing higher energy prices at a time when the U.S. economy is weak and the ability to raise prices is limited. As oil prices increase costs, the Chinese continue to export and, with some exceptions, are holding prices. The reason is simple. The Chinese are aware that slowing exports could cause some businesses to fail. That would lead to unemployment, which in turn will lead to instability. The Chinese have their hands full between natural disasters, Tibet, terrorism and the Olympics. They do not need a wave of business failures.

Therefore, they are continuing to cap the domestic price of gasoline. This has caused tension between the government and Chinese oil companies, which have refused to distribute at capped prices. Behind this power struggle is this reality: The Chinese government can afford to subsidize oil prices to maintain social stability, but given the need to export, they are effectively squeezing profits out of exports. Between subsidies and no-profit exports, China’s reserves could shrink with remarkable speed, leaving their financial system — already overloaded with nonperforming loans — vulnerable. If they take the cap off, they face potential domestic unrest.

The Chinese dilemma is present throughout Asia. But just as Asia is the big loser because of long-term high oil prices coupled with food disruptions, Russia is the big winner. Russia is an exporter of natural gas and oil. It also could be a massive exporter of grains if prices were attractive enough and if it had the infrastructure (crop failures in Russia are a thing of the past). Russia has been very careful, under Vladimir Putin, not to assume that energy prices will remain high and has taken advantage of high prices to accumulate substantial foreign currency reserves. That puts them in a doubly-strong position. Economically, they are becoming major players in global acquisitions. Politically, countries that have become dependent on Russian energy exports — and this includes a good part of Europe — are vulnerable, precisely because the Russians are in a surplus-cash position. They could tweak energy availability, hurting the Europeans badly, if they chose. They will not need to. The Europeans, aware of what could happen, will tread lightly in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen.

As we have already said, the biggest winners are the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Although somewhat strained, these countries never really suffered during the period of low oil prices. They have now more than rebalanced their financial system and are making the most of it. This is a time when they absolutely do not want anything disrupting the flow of oil from their region. Closing the Strait of Hormuz, for example, would be disastrous to them. We therefore see the Saudis, in particular, taking steps to stabilize the region. This includes supporting Israeli-Syrian peace talks, using influence with Sunnis in Iraq to confront al Qaeda, making certain that Shiites in Saudi Arabia profit from the boom. (Other Gulf countries are doing the same with their Shiites. This is designed to remove one of Iran’s levers in the region: a rising of Shiites in the Arabian Peninsula.) In addition, the Saudis are using their economic power to re-establish the relationship they had with the United States before 9/11. With the financial institutions in the United States in disarray, the Arabian Peninsula can be very helpful.

China is in an increasingly insular and defensive position. The tension is palpable, particularly in Central Asia, which Russia has traditionally dominated and where China is becoming increasingly active in making energy investments. The Russians are becoming more assertive, using their economic position to improve their geopolitical position in the region. The Saudis are using their money to try to stabilize the region. With oil above $120 a barrel, the last thing they need is a war disrupting their ability to sell. They do not want to see the Iranians mining the Strait of Hormuz or the Americans trying to blockade Iran.

The Iranians themselves are facing problems. Despite being the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, Iran also is the world’s second-largest gasoline importer, taking in roughly 40 percent of its annual demand. Because of the type of oil they have, and because they have neglected their oil industry over the last 30 years, their ability to participate in the bonanza is severely limited. It is obvious that there is now internal political tension between the president and the religious leadership over the status of the economy. Put differently, Iranians are asking how they got into this situation.

Suddenly, the regional dynamics have changed. The Saudi royal family is secure against any threats. They can buy peace on the Peninsula. The high price of oil makes even Iraqis think that it might be time to pump more oil rather than fight. Certainly the Iranians, Saudis and Kuwaitis are thinking of ways of getting into the action, and all have the means and geography to benefit from an Iraqi oil renaissance. The war in Iraq did not begin over oil — a point we have made many times — but it might well be brought under control because of oil.

For the United States, the situation is largely a push. The United States is an oil importer, but its relative vulnerability to high energy prices is nothing like it was in 1973, during the Arab oil embargo. De-industrialization has clearly had its upside. At the same time, the United States is a food exporter, along with Canada, Australia, Argentina and others. Higher grain prices help the United States. The shifts will not change the status of the United States, but they might create a new dynamic in the Gulf region that could change the framework of the Iraqi war.

This is far from an exhaustive examination of the global shifts caused by rising oil and grain prices. Our point is this: High oil prices can increase as well as decrease stability. In Iraq — but not in Afghanistan — the war has already been regionally overshadowed by high oil prices. Oil-exporting countries are in a moneymaking mode, and even the Iranians are trying to figure out how to get into the action; it’s hard to see how they can without the participation of the Western oil majors — and this requires burying the hatchet with the United States. Groups such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah are decidedly secondary to these considerations.

We are very early in this process, and these are just our opening thoughts. But in our view, a wire has been tripped, and the world is refocusing on high commodity prices. As always in geopolitics, issues from the last generation linger, but they are no longer the focus. Last week there was talk of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) talks between the United States and Russia — a fossil from the Cold War. These things never go away. But history moves on. It seems to us that history is moving.

30272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's Snipergate? on: May 27, 2008, 04:08:13 PM

Recollection of Obama Uncle’s War Service Missing Key Details

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Barack Obama is getting called out again for his knowledge of history, including his own family’s, after declaring to veterans on Memorial Day that his uncle helped liberate the Auschwitz death camp at the end of World War II.

Two problems with the tale: Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Army, and Obama’s American mother was an only child.

Speaking in Las Cruces, N.M., on Monday, the Democratic presidential candidate said he did not serve, but comes from a family that did sacrifice for the nation. He was speaking about the many members of the military who suffer post traumatic stress disorder and should be given better care.

“I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps and the story in our family is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn’t leave the house for six months, right. Now obviously something had really affected him deeply but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” he said.

However, a quick check on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site shows that Soviet forces were the first to approach Auschwitz, which was in Poland.

“On Jan. 27, 1945, the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners,” the site reads.

U.S. forces did liberate several camps, including Ohrdruf Concentration Camp on April 4, 1945; Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp on April 11, 1945; Buchenwald on April 12, 1945; Dachau on April 29, 1945; and Mauthausen on May 5, 1945.

Obama was raised in part by his grandparents, and his father served in the second World War. A request for clarification has been made to the Obama campaign.
30273  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Pre-emption and Sucker Punches on: May 27, 2008, 02:40:34 PM
We have Southnark's PUC DVD in our possession and will be offering it in our catalog quite soon.
30274  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 27, 2008, 01:16:51 PM

To maintain thread coherency, lets take the legal questions over to the Knife Law and Self Defense Law threads.


I'd love to see someone research the Karambiteer at a DB Gathering.  My suspicision is that, being designed more for FUTs than long range dueling, it will have a tough time at long range.

30275  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Toronto, Canada 7/19-20 on: May 27, 2008, 01:05:39 PM
july19th- 20th
Guro  Marc Denny
in Toronto
contact Rene cocolo @

Woof All:

I have emailed the flyer for the seminar to our webmaster who should have it up on the seminar page , , , soon.   In the meantime just contact Rene at his email address above.

Guro Crafty
30276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 27, 2008, 12:02:37 PM
And more in the same vein:,0,2392748.story

Iraqis losing patience with Sadr's militiamen
30277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Al Durra Case on: May 27, 2008, 11:58:13 AM

Al-Durra Case Revisited
May 27, 2008

It's hard to exaggerate the significance of Mohammed al-Durra, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli bullets on Sept. 30, 2000. The iconic image of the terrified child crouching behind his father helped sway world opinion against the Jewish state and fueled the last Intifada.

It's equally hard, then, to exaggerate the significance of last week's French court ruling that called the story into doubt. Not just whether the Israeli military shot the boy, but whether the whole incident may have been staged for propaganda purposes. If so, it would be one of the most harmful put-up jobs in media history.

You probably didn't hear this news. International media lapped up the televised report of al-Durra's shooting on France's main state-owned network, France 2. Barely a peep was heard, however, when the Paris Court of Appeal ruled in a suit brought by the network against the founder of a media watchdog group. The judge's verdict, released Thursday, said that Philippe Karsenty was within his rights to call the France 2 report a "hoax," overturning a 2006 decision that found him guilty of defaming the network and its Mideast correspondent, Charles Enderlin. France 2 has appealed to the country's highest court.

Judge Laurence Trébucq did more than assert Mr. Karsenty's right to free speech. In overturning a lower court's ruling, she said the issues he raised about the original France 2 report were legitimate. While Mr. Karsenty couldn't provide absolute proof of his claims, the court ruled that he marshalled a "coherent mass of evidence" and "exercised in good faith his right to free criticism." The court also found that Talal Abu Rahma, the Palestinian cameraman for France 2 who was the only journalist to capture the scene and the network's crown witness in this case, can't be considered "perfectly credible."

The ruling at the very least opens the way for honest discussion of the al-Durra case, and coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. French media could stand some self-examination. The same holds for journalists elsewhere.

On that Saturday in 2000, Palestinians faced off against Israeli troops at Gaza's Netzarim junction. Two months before, Yasser Arafat had walked out of the Camp David peace talks. Two days before, Ariel Sharon had visited Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The second Intifada was brewing. The French network's cameraman, Mr. Abu Rahma, filmed the skirmishes and got the footage to the France 2 bureau in Israel. Mr. Enderlin edited the film and, relying only on his cameraman's account, provided the voice-over for the report. He suggested Israeli soldiers killed the boy. He didn't say he wasn't there.

Along with the Temple Mount incident, the al-Durra shooting was the seminal event behind the second Intifada. Israel apologized. But nagging doubts soon emerged, as Nidra Poller recounts here. An Israeli military probe found that its soldiers couldn't have shot the father and son, given where the two were crouching.

Others including Mr. Karsenty asked, among various questions, Why the lack of any blood on the boy or his father? Or why did France 2 claim to have 27 minutes of footage but refuse to show any but the 57 seconds on its original broadcast? Mr. Enderlin said, "I cut the images of the child's agony, they were unbearable."

Under pressure from media watchdogs, and after years of stonewalling, France 2 eventually shared the additional film. It turns out that no footage of the child's alleged death throes seems to exist. The extra material shows what appears to be staged scenes of gun battles before the al-Durra killing. For a sample, check out, a site run by Richard Landes, a Boston University professor and one of Mr. Karsenty's witnesses.

Judge Trébucq said that Mr. Karsenty "observed inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions in the explanations by Charles Enderlin."

We don't know exactly what happened to Mohammed al-Durra. Perhaps we never will. But the Paris court ruling shows that France 2 wasn't completely open about what it knew about that day. It suggests the Israelis may not have been to blame. It makes it plausible to consider -- without being dismissed as an unhinged conspiracy theorist -- the possibility that the al-Durra story was a hoax.

To this day, Islamic militants use the al-Durra case to incite violence and hatred against Israel. They are well aware of the power of images. Mr. Karsenty is, too, which is why he and others have tried to hold France 2 accountable for its reporting.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

30278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Al Durra case on: May 27, 2008, 11:56:39 AM

Al-Durra Case Revisited
May 27, 2008

It's hard to exaggerate the significance of Mohammed al-Durra, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli bullets on Sept. 30, 2000. The iconic image of the terrified child crouching behind his father helped sway world opinion against the Jewish state and fueled the last Intifada.

It's equally hard, then, to exaggerate the significance of last week's French court ruling that called the story into doubt. Not just whether the Israeli military shot the boy, but whether the whole incident may have been staged for propaganda purposes. If so, it would be one of the most harmful put-up jobs in media history.

You probably didn't hear this news. International media lapped up the televised report of al-Durra's shooting on France's main state-owned network, France 2. Barely a peep was heard, however, when the Paris Court of Appeal ruled in a suit brought by the network against the founder of a media watchdog group. The judge's verdict, released Thursday, said that Philippe Karsenty was within his rights to call the France 2 report a "hoax," overturning a 2006 decision that found him guilty of defaming the network and its Mideast correspondent, Charles Enderlin. France 2 has appealed to the country's highest court.

Judge Laurence Trébucq did more than assert Mr. Karsenty's right to free speech. In overturning a lower court's ruling, she said the issues he raised about the original France 2 report were legitimate. While Mr. Karsenty couldn't provide absolute proof of his claims, the court ruled that he marshalled a "coherent mass of evidence" and "exercised in good faith his right to free criticism." The court also found that Talal Abu Rahma, the Palestinian cameraman for France 2 who was the only journalist to capture the scene and the network's crown witness in this case, can't be considered "perfectly credible."

The ruling at the very least opens the way for honest discussion of the al-Durra case, and coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. French media could stand some self-examination. The same holds for journalists elsewhere.

On that Saturday in 2000, Palestinians faced off against Israeli troops at Gaza's Netzarim junction. Two months before, Yasser Arafat had walked out of the Camp David peace talks. Two days before, Ariel Sharon had visited Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The second Intifada was brewing. The French network's cameraman, Mr. Abu Rahma, filmed the skirmishes and got the footage to the France 2 bureau in Israel. Mr. Enderlin edited the film and, relying only on his cameraman's account, provided the voice-over for the report. He suggested Israeli soldiers killed the boy. He didn't say he wasn't there.

Along with the Temple Mount incident, the al-Durra shooting was the seminal event behind the second Intifada. Israel apologized. But nagging doubts soon emerged, as Nidra Poller recounts here. An Israeli military probe found that its soldiers couldn't have shot the father and son, given where the two were crouching.

Others including Mr. Karsenty asked, among various questions, Why the lack of any blood on the boy or his father? Or why did France 2 claim to have 27 minutes of footage but refuse to show any but the 57 seconds on its original broadcast? Mr. Enderlin said, "I cut the images of the child's agony, they were unbearable."

Under pressure from media watchdogs, and after years of stonewalling, France 2 eventually shared the additional film. It turns out that no footage of the child's alleged death throes seems to exist. The extra material shows what appears to be staged scenes of gun battles before the al-Durra killing. For a sample, check out, a site run by Richard Landes, a Boston University professor and one of Mr. Karsenty's witnesses.

Judge Trébucq said that Mr. Karsenty "observed inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions in the explanations by Charles Enderlin."

We don't know exactly what happened to Mohammed al-Durra. Perhaps we never will. But the Paris court ruling shows that France 2 wasn't completely open about what it knew about that day. It suggests the Israelis may not have been to blame. It makes it plausible to consider -- without being dismissed as an unhinged conspiracy theorist -- the possibility that the al-Durra story was a hoax.

To this day, Islamic militants use the al-Durra case to incite violence and hatred against Israel. They are well aware of the power of images. Mr. Karsenty is, too, which is why he and others have tried to hold France 2 accountable for its reporting.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

30279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: May 27, 2008, 11:54:21 AM
Senator Vicki?

It took only hours after news of Senator Ted Kennedy's cancerous brain tumor before family retainers began maneuvering to keep the seat in the family.

The New York Daily News reports that Mr. Kennedy has told confidants he would like his wife Vicki to take his Senate seat. The 54-year-old Victoria Reggie Kennedy is the daughter of a politically active judge from Louisiana and has worked as a Washington lawyer.

But she isn't the only Kennedy with possible designs on the seat. Ted's nephew Joseph is sitting on $2 million in campaign funds left over from his time in Congress. On the downside, the younger Kennedy has baggage from a messy divorce and close ties to Venezuelan dictator Hugh Chavez, a benefactor of his Boston-based fuel company.

Some cynics speculate that the family is so eager to keep the seat that it might push one of the senator's sons, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, into running. There is the small matter that Mr. Kennedy currently represents neighboring Rhode Island in the House, but Boston wags note that Robert F. Kennedy had little connection with New York before he sought that state's Senate seat in 1964.

Given that this year's presidential election once was shaping up as the sixth consecutive race in which a Bush or Clinton was the presidential candidate of a major party, it's safe to say nepotism is making a comeback in America's public life. There remains a deep-seated American belief that those who gain public office through artificial privilege should be viewed with suspicion. But voters nevertheless seem to be resigned to the art form that nepotism has become. If another Kennedy should now take over the Senate seat that has been in the family for 54 of the last 56 years, it will only be one of the most brazen examples of a troubling trend in U.S. politics.

-- John Fund

Thanks for the Memories, Tom

Virginia Rep. Tom Davis stirred the pot with his widely-distributed memo last week on the failings of the Republican Party as it heads into the fall elections. In media interviews, Mr. Davis went further and predicted that John McCain would be a "20-point loser" if Democrats succeed in tagging him as "Bush III."

On paper, Mr. Davis's critique of Republican prospects offers some useful insights as he prepares to take himself out of the fray by retiring in the fall. In real life, his own career offers a vivid example of why the GOP is in big trouble.

Mr. Davis roiled the party with his 20-page assertion that this year's political atmosphere is the worst for Republicans "since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006." He plunged into the unfavorable polling data, surveyed the Democratic money advantage and concluded that the "Republican brand is in the trash can." Mr. Davis offered advice on policies the GOP might put forward to address voter concern about high energy prices and housing woes and the war in Iraq.

Yet this is the same Mr. Davis who last year requested a $1.5 billion earmark for the Washington D.C. Metro -- one of the largest requests in Congressional history. This is the same Mr. Davis who has made a career out of bragging about the federal money he's secured for Fairfax County, the wealthy Washington suburb he's represented for the last decade and half. In fact, take a look back through his 20-page memo and the one word you won't see is "earmark."

What's the old saying about actions speaking louder than words? Voters aren't going to believe Republicans have changed so long as they continue feeding at the trough. Mr. Davis suggested the GOP get a new "wardrobe." Voters might be looking for a GOP whose reforms go just a little deeper.

-- Kim Strassel

Quote of the Day I

"The Obama advocates declare that we have entered an entirely new political era. It is not only possible but also desirable, they say, for Democrats to win by turning away from those whom 'progressive' pundits and bloggers disdain variously as 'Nascar man,' whites, 'rubes, fools, and hate-mongers'.... In fact, all of the evidence demonstrates that white racism has not been a principal or even secondary motivation in any of this year's Democratic primaries. Every poll shows that economics, health care, and national security are the leading issues for white working class voters -- and for Latino working class voters as well. These constituencies have cast positive ballots for Hillary Clinton not because she is white, but because they regard her as better on these issues. Obama's campaign and its passionate supporters refuse to acknowledge that these voters consider him weaker.... Instead they impute racism to working class Democrats who, the polls also show, happen to be liberal on every leading issue. The effort to taint anyone who does not support Obama as motivated by racism has now become a major factor in alienating core Democrats from Obama's campaign" -- Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, writing at

Quote of the Day II

"t seems increasingly clear that what we have avoided with fire-arms is now being delivered through another weapon and, terrifyingly, one which is tougher to control. There have been 100 stabbings in London in the first five months of this year -- including, in the past six days, the Oxford Street murder of Steven Bigby, 22, and the baker's shop killing of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen, who now joins Stephen Lawrence and Damilola Taylor among the symbolic martyrs of a despairing era of street-life. Our biggest mistake was to assume guns are the greatest threat to life. Knives are easier to find -- they are present in every kitchen -- and simpler to use. It is impossible to improvise a gun from stuff found in the gutter or on a supermarket shelf, but a bottle can become a dagger with one smash. Gun control is difficult; knife control is all but impossible" -- Mark Lawson, a columnist for the Guardian, on the failure of Britain's sweeping ban on private gun ownership to halt violent crime.

Spoiler vs. Spoiler

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr had to sweat to become the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee over the weekend. The former Republican won 54% of the delegates on the sixth ballot, beating out Mary Ruwart, a scientist and educator whose individualistic purity is such that she believes child pornography shouldn't be outlawed.

To win, Mr. Barr had to renounce many of his votes in Congress, including those in favor of the Patriot Act and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Such concessions along with a strong debate performance apparently satisfied enough delegates that his less-than-pure record was outweighed by the media attention a Barr candidacy would gather for the Libertarian cause.

But will that attention translate into enough votes to cost John McCain the presidential election, much as Ralph Nader is said to have "spoiled" Florida for Al Gore in 2000? Libertarians say that's the wrong question, because while journalists routinely assume the party's supporters are disgruntled conservatives, many are actually liberals who oppose drug laws, foreign policy interventions and federal surveillance measures.

Indeed, a new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that in a four-way race, Barack Obama wins 42% of the vote, McCain 38%, Bob Barr 6% and Ralph Nader 4%. Significantly, Mr. Barr picks up 7% of the Republican vote, only slightly more than the 5% vote he draws from Democrats. He also wins 5% of those unaffiliated with any party. If anything, Mr. Nader's backers skew more in the direction of Mr. Nader's own leftish views. The consumer advocate collects only 1% of the Republican vote, but 3% of the Democratic vote and 8% support from the unaffiliated.

Of course, third-party candidates always poll better in the summer before the fall campaign, which usually ends up driving voters into one major party camp or the other. Ralph Nader wound up with only 2.7% of the vote in 2000, and well under 1% four years later. The best Libertarian showing came in 1980, when Ed Clark won 1.1% of the national vote.

Only if this fall's election is as close as the Bush-Gore race of 2000, Mr. Barr or Mr. Nader could indeed play a determining role in who ultimately wins. But caution is advised in drawing conclusions about which major party either man will draw the most votes from.

-- John Fund

30280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: How Bush sold the War on: May 27, 2008, 10:31:08 AM

How Bush Sold the War
May 27, 2008; Page A21

In the fall of 2003, a few months after Saddam Hussein's overthrow, U.S. officials began to despair of finding stockpiles of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The resulting embarrassment caused a radical shift in administration rhetoric about the war in Iraq.

President Bush no longer stressed Saddam's record or the threats from the Baathist regime as reasons for going to war. Rather, from that point forward, he focused almost exclusively on the larger aim of promoting democracy. This new focus compounded the damage to the president's credibility that had already been caused by the CIA's errors on Iraqi WMD. The president was seen as distancing himself from the actual case he had made for removing the Iraqi regime from power.

This change can be quantified: In the year beginning with his first major speech about Iraq – the Sept. 12, 2002 address to the U.N. General Assembly – Mr. Bush delivered nine major talks about Iraq. There were, on average, approximately 14 paragraphs per speech on Saddam's record as an enemy, aggressor, tyrant and danger, with only three paragraphs on promoting democracy. In the next year – from September 2003 to September 2004 – Mr. Bush delivered 15 major talks about Iraq. The average number of paragraphs devoted to the record of threats from Saddam was one, and the number devoted to democracy promotion was approximately 11.

The stunning change in rhetoric appeared to confirm his critics' argument that the security rationale for the war was at best an error, and at worst a lie. That's a shame, for Mr. Bush had solid grounds for worrying about the dangers of leaving Saddam in power.

In the spring of 2004, with the transfer of sovereign authority to the Iraqis imminent, the president was scheduled to give a major speech about Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld received an advance draft and he gave it to me for review. In keeping with the new trend, the drafted speech focused on the prospects for Iraqi democracy.

White House officials understandably preferred to declare affirmative messages about Iraq's future, rather than rehash the government's intelligence embarrassments. Even so, I thought it was a strategic error for the president to make no effort to defend the arguments that had motivated him before the war. Mr. Bush's political opponents were intent on magnifying the administration's mistakes regarding WMD. On television and radio, in print and on the Internet, day after day they repeated the claim that the undiscovered stockpiles were the sum and substance of why the U.S. went to war against Saddam.

Electoral politics aside, I thought it was important for national security reasons that the president refute his critics' misstatements. The CIA assessments of WMD were wrong, but they originated in the years before he became president and they had been accepted by Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as by the U.N. and other officials around the world. And, in any event, the erroneous WMD intelligence was not the entire security rationale for overthrowing Saddam.

On May 22, 2004, I gave Mr. Rumsfeld a memo to pass along to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and the president's speechwriters. I proposed that the speech "should deal with some basics – in particular, why we went to war in the first place." It would be useful to "make clear the tie-in between Iraq and the broader war on terrorism" in the following terms: The Saddam Hussein regime "had used WMD, supported various terrorist groups, was hostile to the U.S. and had a record of aggression and of defiance of numerous U.N. resolutions."

In light of 9/11, the "danger that Saddam's regime could provide biological weapons or other WMD to terrorist groups for use against us was too great" to let stand. And other ways of countering the danger – containment, sanctions, inspections, no-fly zones – had proven "unsustainable or inadequate." I suggested that the president distinguish between the essential U.S. interests in Iraq and the extra benefits if we could succeed in building democratic institutions there: "A unified Iraq that does not support terrorism or pursue WMD will in and of itself be an important victory in the war on terrorism."

Some of the speech's rhetoric about democracy struck me as a problem: "The draft speech now implies that we went to war in Iraq simply to free the Iraqi people from tyranny and create democracy there," I noted. But that implication "is not accurate and it sets us up for accusations of failure if Iraq does not quickly achieve 'democracy.'"

As was typical, the speech went through multiple drafts. Ms. Rice's office sent us a new version, and the next day I wrote Mr. Rumsfeld another set of comments – without great hope of persuading the speechwriting team. The speech's centerpiece, once again, was the set of steps "to help Iraq achieve democracy." One line in particular asserted that we went to Iraq "to make them free." I dissented:

- "This mixes up our current important goal (i.e., getting Iraq on the path to democratic government) with the strategic rationale for the war, which was to end the danger that Saddam might provide biological or [other] weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against us."

- "There is a widespread misconception that the war's rationale was the existence of Iraqi WMD stockpiles. This allows critics to say that our failure to find such stockpiles undermines that rationale."

- "If the President ignores this altogether and then implies that the war's rationale was not the terrorism/state sponsorship/WMD nexus but rather democracy for Iraqis, the critics may say that he is changing the subject or rewriting history."

Again, I proposed that the president distinguish between achieving our primary goal in Iraq – eliminating a security threat – and aiming for the over-and-above goal of democracy promotion, which may not be readily achievable.

Mr. Bush gave his speech at the Army War College on May 24, as Iraq was entering into the last month of its 14-month occupation by the U.S. The president declared: "I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security, not to stay as an occupying power. I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American. Iraqis will write their own history, and find their own way."

I had hoped the president would explain why sending American troops to Iraq had helped defend our security, but he did not. The questionable line about sending those troops to make Iraq's people free had remained in the speech. And it was rather late to be promising the Iraqis that we would not stay as an occupying power but instead let them find their own way.

The president had chosen to talk almost exclusively about Iraq's future. His political opponents noticed that if they talked about the past – about prewar intelligence and prewar planning for the war and the aftermath – no one in the White House communications effort would contradict them. Opponents could say anything about the prewar period – misstating Saddam's record, the administration's record or their own – and their statements would go uncorrected. This was a big incentive for them to recriminate about the administration's prewar work, and congressional Democrats have pressed for one retrospective investigation after another.

But the most damaging effect of this communications strategy was that it changed the definition of success. Before the war, administration officials said that success would mean an Iraq that no longer threatened important U.S. interests – that did not support terrorism, aspire to WMD, threaten its neighbors, or conduct mass murder. But from the fall of 2003 on, the president defined success as stable democracy in Iraq.

This was a public affairs decision that has had enormous strategic consequences for American support for the war. The new formula fails to connect the Iraq war directly to U.S. interests. It causes many Americans to question why we should be investing so much blood and treasure for Iraqis. And many Americans doubt that the new aim is realistic – that stable democracy can be achieved in Iraq in the foreseeable future.

To fight a long war, the president has to ensure he can preserve public and congressional support for the effort. It is not an overstatement to say that the president's shift in rhetoric nearly cost the U.S. the war. Victory or defeat can hinge on the president's words as much as on the military plans of his generals or the actions of their troops on the ground.

Mr. Feith was under secretary of defense for policy from July 2001 until August 2005. This article is adapted from his new memoir, "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism" (HarperCollins).
30281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 27, 2008, 10:00:19 AM
You may have missed it due to the nearly non-existant MSM covnerage yesterday, but "Iraqi Violence at a 4 year low, US says.  The Military gives credit to crackdowns launched my Maliki in the last two months."  (buried in yesterday's LA Times)
30282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: emminent domain on: May 27, 2008, 09:40:14 AM
"Wherever indeed a right of property is infringed for the
general good, if the nature of the case admits of compensation,
it ought to be made; but if compensation be impracticable, that
impracticability ought to be an obstacle to a clearly essential

-- Alexander Hamilton (Vindication of the Funding System, 1792)

Reference: Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton,
Frisch, 334.
30283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Change in driving habits on: May 26, 2008, 03:32:31 PM
U.S.: A Record-Setting Change in Driving Habits
Stratfor Today » May 23, 2008 | 2136 GMT

David McNew/Getty Images
Morning rush-hour traffic moves along a freeway in Riverside, Calif.Summary
The number of miles driven by Americans dropped 4.3 percent year-on-year in March, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The decline — the sharpest ever — represents a behavioral change that is a necessary precursor to a shift in the markets.

Car-loving Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles in March than they did a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported May 23. The 4.3 percent decline is the first year-on-year decline since the 1979 oil shock, and the sharpest decline ever.

While Americans typically think of themselves as pressed for funds, in fact they have the most disposable income per capita of any of the major developed states. Adjusted for inflation, the average American’s disposable income has increased by more than $10,000 since the 1979 oil shock as estimated by the Bureau for Economic Analysis. There are more than 300 million Americans, and the sheer size of their collective purchasing power is simply mammoth.

Thus, Americans can rather painlessly absorb nearly any price increase for basic goods. But apparently there is a level at which they begin to adjust their behavior. Oil prices are now above $130 a barrel, twice what they were a year ago, and gasoline prices averaged $3.79 this week. Whether the decline in miles driven is happening because of high oil prices or slower economic growth — or more likely a combination of the two — is irrelevant.

The point is that it is happening and that will have results. The current economic situation is changing driving and spending habits on a long-term basis. For example, wretched sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles have a counterpoint in phenomenal sales of hybrid vehicles. These shifts to a more energy-efficient lifestyle are factors that will shape oil demand for a decade, and permanently reduce the demand of a culture that has traditionally been the oil producers’ best customer.

This is not to say that the May 23 statistical release will become known as the turning point in the market, but never forget that the United States uses more oil in absolute and per capita terms than any other country in the world. Without a shift in American behavior, it is difficult to see how the markets could ever undergo a fundamental drop. With that shift, it is difficult to see how — given time — they cannot.

30284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 26, 2008, 03:31:21 PM
Second post of the day:

“I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...” —John Adams

Memorial Day is reserved by American Patriots as a day to honor the service and sacrifice of fallen men and women who donned our Armed Forces uniforms with honor. We at The Patriot pay our humble respects to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice as members of the United States Armed Forces. We will remember you always.

Accordingly, this tribute is in honor of our fallen American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen.

Please join Patriots honoring Memorial Day across our great nation on Monday by observing a moment of silence at 1500 local time for remembrance and prayer. Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, local time. Please give a personal word of gratitude and comfort to surviving family members who grieve for a beloved warrior fallen in battlefields defending our cherished liberties.

(For The Patriot’s tribute to our Armed Forces, see “To Support and Defend... So Help Me God.”)

“[L]et us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.” —Dwight Eisenhower

“No man can sit down and withhold his hands from the warfare against wrong and get peace from his acquiescence.” —Woodrow Wilson

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” —Sir Winston Churchill

“The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.” —Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” —Calvin Coolidge


“In November 1776, after Washington had lost four battles and just before he crossed the Delaware to Trenton, British commanders offered a pardon to all who would swear allegiance to the crown. It was time to put up or shut up. I can hope I would have remained steadfast then, resolute in confidence that neither I nor my family would ever again sing ‘God Save the King.’ I didn’t have to make that choice. Thousands of men and women who went before us did, and thank God for every one of them.” —Suzanne Fields

“Of our three national holidays, for me, Memorial Day is the most significant. The Fourth of July celebrates our independence. Harkening back to our beginnings, Thanksgiving recalls our religious roots. But it’s the blood and guts (the suffering and sacrifice) symbolized by Memorial Day that made America possible. To make ideals real—and to protect and preserve them—requires payment in the coin of strife and death.” —Don Feder

“A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad. The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.” —Ben Stein

“Once each May, amid the quiet hills and rolling lanes and breeze-brushed trees of Arlington National Cemetery, far above the majestic Potomac and the monuments and memorials of our Nation’s Capital just beyond, the graves of America’s military dead are decorated with the beautiful flag that in life these brave souls followed and loved. This scene is repeated across our land and around the world, wherever our defenders rest. Let us hold it our sacred duty and our inestimable privilege on this day to decorate these graves ourselves—with a fervent prayer and a pledge of true allegiance to the cause of liberty, peace, and country for which America’s own have ever served and sacrificed... Our pledge and our prayer this day are those of free men and free women who know that all we hold dear must constantly be built up, fostered, revered and guarded vigilantly from those in every age who seek its destruction. We know, as have our Nation’s defenders down through the years, that there can never be peace without its essential elements of liberty, justice and independence. Those true and only building blocks of peace were the lone and lasting cause and hope and prayer that lighted the way of those whom we honor and remember this Memorial Day. To keep faith with our hallowed dead, let us be sure, and very sure, today and every day of our lives, that we keep their cause, their hope, their prayer, forever our country’s own.” —Ronald Reagan

American Anthem

All we’ve been given by those who came before:
the dream of a nation where freedom would endure.
The work and prayers of centuries have brought us to this day.
What shall be our legacy? What will our children say?
Let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.

Each generation from the plains to distant shore
with the gifts that they were given were determined to leave more.
Valiant battles fought together, acts of conscience fought alone.
Those are the seeds from which America has grown.
Let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through,
America, America, I gave my best to you.

For those who think they have nothing to share,
who fear in their hearts there is no hero there,
know that quiet acts of dignity are that
which fortifies the soul of a generation that never dies.
Let them say of me I was one who believed in sharing the blessings I received.
Let me know in my heart when my days are through:
America, America, I gave my best to you.

Veritas vos Liberabit—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for The Patriot’s editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)

30285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Support our troops on: May 26, 2008, 02:29:57 PM
From Michael Yon's website:

Copies of my new book Moment of Truth in Iraq are in distribution, but this is the only place to get signed copies. Moment of Truth is available on and Barnes & It is also available in Barnes & Noble and other major bookstores. Download this handout to give to your military exchange, local bookstore or library so that they may order the book.

Please support this mission by buying Moment of Truth today, or by making a direct contribution. Without your support, the mission will end. Thank you for helping me tell the full story of the struggle for Iraq.

  Comments (1)
Curiouser and curiouser
  Bob Owens at Pajamas Media hunts it down:

Please Click here.

Copies of my new book Moment of Truth in Iraq are in distribution, but this is the only place to get signed copies. Moment of Truth is available on and Barnes & It is also available in Barnes & Noble and other major bookstores. Download this handout to give to your military exchange, local bookstore or library so that they may order the book.

Please support this mission by buying Moment of Truth today, or by making a direct contribution. Without your support, the mission will end. Thank you for helping me tell the full story of the struggle for Iraq.

  Comments (3)
Distributor Refuses to Carry "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on Military Bases
  Folks are asking why "Moment of Truth in Iraq" is not being carried on most military bases within the United States.

Here's why:

My publisher and literary agent have been working with the private companies who handle book distribution on military bases in order to get "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on their shelves. The process is arduous, to put it mildly.

They have succeeded in getting the book into overseas bases. But as the publisher and my agent are slowly working their way through US distributors who cover different geographic regions, they have been told "no" by the largest distributor, the Anderson News Company.

A letter from Anderson News:

Thank you for submitting Moment of Truth in Iraq to Anderson News for review. We have reviewed this book and do not consider it appropriate for our company to handle at this time, as it does not fit our current distribution needs and capabilities.

Thank you for considering us to distribute your book.


Book Purchasing
Anderson News Company

Stunning response. Over the past weeks, as my literary agent spoke to Anderson while they reviewed the book, Anderson told him that the desires of the base exchange customers would have no influence and play no role in their decision making process. Anderson also stated that even appeals from high ranking military officers could not persuade Anderson to carry a title. Apparently, in Anderson's mind, they outrank the Joint Chiefs of Staff when it comes to doing business on military bases.

Anderson News Company has almost a complete monopoly over the books carried on Army, Navy and Air Force book shelves in the following US states:


The two military agencies, AAFES and NEXCOM, handle book distribution on base exchanges and work directly with private distributors such as Anderson News. AAFES and NEXCOM allow companies such as Anderson News to choose the books they will sell.

The best way to encourage Anderson to do the right thing is to contact the AAFES and NEXCOM, and encourage them to pay attention to what Anderson is not doing. My publisher and agent have tried without success.

If this is important to you, please call and request that base exchanges carry the book. Please be polite. You may also contact Anderson directly.

AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service) handles Army and Air Force bases and the phone number for their book buying section is (214) 312-2741.

NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command) handles Navy bases and the phone number for their book buying section is (757) 631-3465 .

Anderson News Company may be reached at (865) 588-0254. That is a general number and you will need to go to the operator and ask for the book buyers for military bases.

Please look at or print this handout: it contains all necessary information about "Moment of Truth in Iraq." The ISBN No. is 978-0-9800763-2-5.

While we struggle to get the book on exchange shelves, signed copies are still available and Barnes & Noble and Amazon are fully stocked. It also goes on front tables in Barnes & Noble stores across the country today. Hopefully, if we sell in Barnes & Noble stores, other book sellers will realize this is an important book they need to carry.

As always, I humbly thank you for your help and your efforts. You continue to make my sacrifices worthwhile.


30286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 26, 2008, 02:23:36 PM

In Memory of SPC David Lee Leimbach
  CSM Jeff Mellinger is out there still "Walking the Line." He did the longest continuous tour in Iraq that I have ever seen: about 2.5 years without a break except for normal leave. Think 15 months is long? It is long, but 2.5 years straight is pretty doggone long in Iraq, and CSM Mellinger was seriously out in the red zone. I drove about 4,000 miles with him within Iraq checking on our servicemen and women, Walking the Line, and that was a tiny fraction of the work he did. And so he came back to the United States and is stationed in Washington D.C., but CSM Mellinger's duties have taken him back to Iraq and Afghanistan. I got an email from CSM Mellinger this morning from Afghanistan. He was remembering SPC David Lee Leimbach, the latest Great American to give his life in Afghanistan fighting dark forces that wish to do us great harm. CSM Mellinger had written a private tribute to SPC Leimbach, and I immediately asked if I may publish it so others may see. Just a few minutes ago, I spoke with CSM Mellinger on the phone. He's in Afghanistan Walking the Line right now, and says we are taking the fight to the enemy.

And so here is the private tribute written by CSM Jeff Mellinger in honor of our latest fallen warrior, SPC David Lee Leimbach, who gave his life in our defence:



This morning at 0600, we paid final respects to SPC David Lee Leimbach, a Taylor, South Carolina, National Guard soldier killed yesterday in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Just before 0500, an announcement came across the Bagram Airfield PA system for everyone to dress in their combat uniforms and assemble along the road which cuts through the middle of Bagram Air Base.

Little by little, troops from all services and many coalition countries began lining the main street of the base. They stood literally shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the road for nearly a mile.

At about 0530, a USAF C-17 landed (ironically from Charleston, SC), taxied, pulled into a space in front of the formed troops, turning its tail towards them. The ramp dropped, the engines shut down, the crew disembarked and lined up in front of the plane. All down the flight line, warriors stood at parade rest; talking and whispering stopped.

At 0600 on this bright, sunny day, the vehicle bearing the casket, having completed its drive from the mortuary to the airfield, turned onto the airfield. A single soldier walked in front of the vehicle to lead the way.

Along the road leading to the airfield, the troops that lined the road were standing at attention and saluting. On the airfield you could only hear the birds flitting around. In the distance were the sounds of aircraft flying their missions.

Now, the troops on the airfield came to attention and saluted as a bagpipe played Amazing Grace. The color guard moved into position, and those of us assembled near the plane came to attention and saluted.

Two cameramen ran ahead of the vehicle, recording the entire procession, and now the unloading and movement of the casket.

The casket, carried by soldiers of the unit, moved forward to the plane. The band played My Country, Tis of Thee. The casket was loaded on the plane, the senior personnel present (to include five general officers) walked onto the plane behind the casket, and final prayers and remarks were made, then those leaders and casket bearers disembarked.

As the assembled began to move from the site, the crew embarked, the ramp closed, the C-17 taxied and took off, and the fight continued.

I hope the family of this warrior knows that we loved him, too.
From every mountain side, let freedom ring!
Happy Memorial Day.

30287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine: Sunshine patriots on: May 26, 2008, 10:55:55 AM
"These are the times that try men's souls.  The summer soldier
and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the
service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the
love and thanks of man and woman."

-- Thomas Paine (The American Crisis, No. 1, 19 December 1776)

Reference: Thomas Paine: Collected Writings , Foner ed., Library
of America (91)
30288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCain on: May 25, 2008, 08:37:28 AM
Caveat Lector, its the NYTimes:

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign is in a troubled stretch, hindered by resignations of staff members, a lagging effort to build a national campaign organization and questions over whether he has taken full advantage of Democratic turmoil to present a case for his candidacy, Republicans say.

In interviews, some party leaders said they were worried about signs of disorder in his campaign, and if the focus in the last several weeks on the prominent role of lobbyists in Mr. McCain’s inner circle might undercut the heart of his general election message: that he is a reformer taking on special interests in Washington.

“The core image of John McCain is as a reformer in Washington — and the more dominant the story is about the lobbying teams around him, the more you put that into question,” said Terry Nelson, who was Mr. McCain’s campaign manager until he left in a shake-up last fall. “If the Obama campaign can truly change him from being seen as a reformer to just being another Washington politician, it could be very damaging over the course of the campaign.”

The ousters of some of the staff members came after Mr. McCain imposed a new policy that active lobbyists would not be allowed to hold paying jobs in the campaign.

Some state party leaders said they were apprehensive about the unusual organization Mr. McCain had set up: the campaign has been broken into 10 semi-autonomous regions, with each having power over things like television advertising and the candidate’s schedule, decisions normally left to headquarters.

More than that, they said, Mr. McCain organizationally still seems far behind where President Bush was in 2004. Several Republican Party leaders said they were worried the campaign was losing an opportunity as they waited for approval to open offices and set up telephone banks.

“They finally assigned someone to West Virginia three weeks ago,” said Doug McKinney, the state Republican chairman there. “I had a couple of contacts with him and I e-mailed him twice and I never heard back. I finally called and they said that the guy had resigned.”

Mr. McCain’s campaign has transmitted conflicting messages in recent days about how he would present himself, as he has sought to reassure conservatives nervous about his ideological consistency even as he has tried to expand his appeal to moderates and liberals.

He recently spent three days talking about global warming, a subject he used to emphasize his differences with Mr. Bush. But he ended that week with a high-profile speech to the National Rifle Association, a group suspicious of his views on gun control.

Mr. McCain’s advisers — some of whom gathered with the candidate for the holiday weekend at his Arizona ranch along with three Republicans assumed to be under consideration as his running mate — said the concern in the party reflected, in part, exaggerated concern about Senator Barack Obama’s strengths as a general election candidate. Mr. McCain, they said, was in a strong position entering into this next phase of the race.

Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser, said Mr. McCain had used the time since effectively winning the nomination to methodically raise his standing by traveling the country, delivering speeches on issues including national security and the environment, and raising money, to make sure he could at least hold his own with Mr. Obama going through the summer.

Although Mr. Obama has continued to raise far more money than Mr. McCain, Mr. Bush’s fund-raising machinery has helped keep the Republican Party competitive. The McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee, between them, have $11 million more on hand — about $62 million — than the combined cash-on-hand of Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee.

“How do you measure success over the course of the spring campaign?” Mr. Schmidt asked. “This is how: The reality of this race is the Republican Party brand is very, very badly damaged, in some places broken. We’ve lost Congressional seats in districts that have elected only Republican for a generation. And Senator McCain is running even or ahead of Senator Obama in most national polls.”

Mr. McCain has taken steps to inject new thinking into his campaign. He recently expanded his extremely tight circle of advisers by bringing on Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, which many Republicans view as the model for political management.

Last Sunday, he invited Mike Murphy, his longtime friend and political adviser, who is not involved in this campaign, to his home in Virginia. There, Mr. Murphy reportedly gave him a detailed and at times tough assessment of what Mr. McCain had done wrong.

Mr. Murphy urged him to tone down his attacks on Mr. Obama and stop coming across as so angry. He recommended that Mr. McCain concentrate on running as a reform candidate to strip that issue from Mr. Obama, and to make greater efforts to distance himself from Mr. Bush, Republicans familiar with the conversation said.

Some of Mr. McCain’s associates said that Mr. McCain might be interested in bringing Mr. Murphy back on board, but that his current circle of advisers was resisting that.

As soon as Mr. Obama secures the Democratic nomination, Mr. Schmidt said, Mr. McCain will begin a series of speeches intended to contrast their positions. Mr. McCain’s advisers said they did not think it made sense to do that until Mr. Obama wrapped up his battle against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, given how the two Democrats are dominating the news.
Page 2 of 2)

“The race changes the moment she drops out and he emerges as the official nominee,” said Charlie Black, a senior McCain adviser. “Then the focus becomes on a two-person race and that leads to us getting more equal treatment in terms of getting airtime. We’ve had to fight with one hand tied behind our back.”

Republicans said Mr. McCain certainly had time to get his campaign back on track, and they remained confident that he would be a strong general election candidate against Mr. Obama. Some said the level of concern was overstated, or reflected the general Republican apprehension about this electoral environment, rather than anything Mr. McCain had done wrong.

“I think any Republican who doesn’t say panic is in the wind is lying through their shirt,” said Ron Kaufman, who was a senior adviser this year for Mitt Romney. “The question is, is that panic caused by McCain’s campaign — or lack thereof in some respects — or is it the climate?”

The string of departures from the campaign was prompted by questions about lobbying activities by aides and advisers to Mr. McCain and a new policy, which he dictated, that active lobbyists not be allowed to hold paying jobs in the campaign. Mr. Schmidt said that policy was an example of how Mr. McCain would take tough action, part of a contrast he said they would draw with Mr. Obama for “giving great speeches” but having no record of accomplishment.

But Mr. McCain’s associates said the campaign had failed to anticipate the extent to which the news media would use the policy to examine Mr. McCain’s staff. The result was a run of damaging stories and resignations that highlighted not the policy itself but the backgrounds of top campaign officials, including Rick Davis, the campaign manager, and Mr. Black, both of whom have long lobbying backgrounds.

Some Republicans said they were concerned that the Democrats would soon unify around Mr. Obama, and that it was only a matter of weeks before Mr. Obama began unloading a huge round of advertising intended to define Mr. McCain. If that happens, they said, Mr. McCain may look back at this period as a time of missed opportunity.

Discussing what Mr. McCain needed to do, Mr. Nelson, another veteran of the Bush 2004 team, said: “Step No. 1 would be finding a compelling message that excited Republicans, and Step No. 2 would be having the ability to turn your voters out. From what I see, in both respects, they have a long way to go, but they have time.”

Mr. McCain has made some gains in reassuring conservatives nervous about his views on issues like immigration, polls suggest. But if he is going to rely on turnout in the Republican base more than on winning over independents and disaffected Democrats, there is evidence that he has not gone as far as he needs to — particularly given how energized Democrats appear to be.

“He is going to need extraordinary participation of Republicans if Democrats continue to flock to the polls the way they have,” said Kris Kobach, the Republican Party leader from Kansas. “It’s critical that he use this period to generate enthusiasm from his base.”

Mr. McKinney, the Republican chairman in West Virginia, said Mr. McCain’s identification with immigration legislation that would eventually permit some illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship continued to be highly problematic for him.

“But it doesn’t matter what we think — Senator McCain goes his own way,” Mr. McKinney said. “Always has and always will.”

30289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 24, 2008, 12:53:02 PM
Woof James:

I think you will find them all honored around here. 

This thread is not the place for a discussion of the point, but for the record my thinking is that one can patriotically have been against the decision to go into Iraq, and one can patriotically (albeit foolishly IMHO) support leaving.  I feel contermpt for those who speak recklessly with the result of stiffening the enemy's resolve.  I feel anger for those who care only returning to power.  I accuse of treason is those who sabotage the effort.

If you want to discuss the point further, this thread is not the place for it.

Returning to the subject of the thread-- yes the picture is quite powerful.  I admit to misting more than once from looking at it.  As part of my son's Cub Scouts, I just got back from taking my family to Memorial services which included the Cub and Boy Scouts placing flags at the graves of those who served.  My son is only 8, and frankly for his friends and him much went right over their heads, but I think we succeeded in planting seeds that his mother and I will water as time goes by.


My Cindy has spotted the complete Mills quote:


Mill demonstrated a deep appreciation for the military, noting in his essay "The Contest In America": “ War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. ”

This particular version of the quotation is often used as a condensed version by military doctrines in order to express the message simply. The original, wordier full quotation is:

“ But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other. ”
30290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Nothing but Misogynists on: May 24, 2008, 09:25:36 AM
'Nothing but Misogynists'
May 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton is now complaining that her candidacy has been harmed by sexism. Interviewed earlier this week by the Washington Post, Sen. Clinton said the polls show that "more people would be reluctant to vote for a woman [than] to vote for an African American." This gender bias, she grumbled, "rarely gets reported on."

So a woman who holds degrees from Wellesley and Yale – who has earned millions in the private sector, won two terms in the U.S. Senate, and gathered many more votes than John Edwards, Bill Richardson and several other middle-aged white guys in their respective bids for the 2008 Democratic nomination – feels cheated because she's a woman.

Seems doubtful. But hey, I'm a guy and perhaps hopelessly insensitive. So let's give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that her campaign has indeed suffered because of sexism.

This fact (if it be a fact) reveals a hitherto unknown, ugly truth about the Democratic Party. The alleged bastion of modern liberalism, toleration and diversity is full of (to use Mrs. Clinton's own phrase) "people who are nothing but misogynists." Large numbers of Democratic voters are sexists. Who knew?

But here's another revelation. If Mrs. Clinton is correct that she is more likely than Barack Obama to defeat John McCain in November, that implies Republicans and independents are less sexist than Democrats.

It must be so. If American voters of all parties are as sexist as the Democrats, Mr. Obama would have a better chance than Mrs. Clinton of defeating Mr. McCain. The same misogyny that thwarted her in the Democratic primaries would thwart her in the general election. Only if registered Republicans and independents are more open-minded than registered Democrats – only if people who lean GOP or who have no party affiliation are more willing than Democrats to overlook a candidate's sex and vote on the issues – could Mrs. Clinton be a stronger candidate.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. But if I ever become convinced that Mrs. Clinton is correct that sexism played a role in her disappointing showing in the Democratic primaries – and that she truly is her party's strongest candidate to take on John McCain – I might finally join a party: the GOP. At least it's not infested with sexists.

Mr. Boudreaux is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.
30291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Protesting the protestors on: May 24, 2008, 09:21:08 AM
Protesting the Antiwar Protestors
May 24, 2008

West Chester, Pa.

Memorial Day isn't until Monday. But for Rich Davis, a 20-year veteran of the Navy, it seems to come every Saturday. That's when he pulls out a handmade sign and heads for a street corner near the Chester County Court House in this suburban Philadelphia community.

Mr. Davis, 54, is a pro-military protester who makes a public stand each week in support of the troops and their mission.

Sean Carpenter 
Supporters of the Chester County Victory Movement rally on May 17, 2008.
In 2001, Mr. Davis retired from the Navy and ended up settling in West Chester, where he spent 2006 and 2007 watching antiwar protesters rally each Saturday from 11 a.m. until noon outside the courthouse near his apartment. The Chester County Peace Movement, Mr. Davis would later learn, had been demonstrating at the site since March 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq. At first he hoped someone would challenge the protesters, speak up for the troops, and defend their mission. On Sept. 8, 2007 he decided that someone had to be him.

Mr. Davis had been building to such a decision for a long time. He was just a kid during the Vietnam War, but he is still bothered by the disrespect heaped on returning Vietnam vets in the 1960s and '70s. In part that is because, in 1967, Mr. Davis attended the funeral of a man he idolized – his sister's boyfriend, Marine Lance Cpl. Alan R. Schultz from Levittown, Pa. Schultz was killed by mortar fire in Vietnam.

"Al was a great guy," Mr. Davis remembers. "When we got the word that he had been killed, I felt the bottom fall out. I cried the rest of that summer."

Even today, Mr. Davis can't look at an antiwar protest without thinking that Schultz, his comrades and their modern-day counterparts are being disrespected. So after seeing the war protesters each week, Mr. Davis said to himself, "Not this war. Not this time."

"We're not silent anymore," Mr. Davis told me. "We refuse to let antiwar protesters have the stage to themselves."

Not that he wants to stifle dissent. He just doesn't want to go unanswered the signs and protests that he believes encourage the enemy and demoralize U.S. troops. So, sign in hand in September, he walked to the corner praying he would have the strength to stand there, to be seen and heard.

Seen he was. Though there was plenty of room on the corner, he says he was bumped, shoved and challenged. One person asked, "Do you live in fear?" Another demanded, "Why don't you go and serve?"

"They had that corner for five years, every Saturday, unopposed," Mr. Davis told me. "They couldn't stand the thought of one person having a sign they couldn't tolerate."

More people than the antiwar protesters took notice. A few weeks after he started his own weekly protests, Mr. Davis had about 40 sign-holding, flag-waving supporters at his side, thanks to support from the Gathering of Eagles, a national organization supporting the troops.

The number of antiwar protesters began to swell in response, which led to an increase in taunts hurled between the two groups. Mr. Davis admits the childish behavior cut both ways. "At times we have been confrontational and done things that were inappropriate, especially in the early days." But now, he says, "I have zero tolerance for yelling and buffoonery."

In March, an angry antiwar protester hit a woman who covers the weekly demonstrations on her pro-troop blog. That led the local police to lay down a few ground rules. Now each group is to keep to its own side of the street, and the two groups swap sides of the street each week.

There are a few other changes. Mr. Davis's once informal group is getting organized. They have a name, Chester County Victory Movement, and a Web site ( that they use to share information about welcoming troops home, sending care packages, and joining discussions at West Chester University.

Mr. Davis also sends weekly emails to thank people for their support, and to pass on encouragement. A few members of Mr. Davis's group meet regularly to discuss problems. At these meetings, some people raise ideas aimed at embarrassing those on the antiwar side of the street. But Mr. Davis constantly refers back to the reason that brought him to the corner in the first place: letting the public and the troops know that there is a reservoir of support for the sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines who risk their lives to fight the war on terror.

"Every time we go out, I remind the guys that we represent more than ourselves," he told me. "The troops and their families look at us. So I hope we present ourselves with the same type of dignity, courage and honor that our own sons and daughters are showing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

What Mr. Davis wants those troops to see is the solid wall of red, white and blue of his group's flags and "Support Our Troops" signs. He averages about 30 supporters a week, but hopes for a larger turnout for Flag Day, June 14.

Mr. Davis notes that he has been accused of being part of a vast right-wing conspiracy that trains and pays pro-troop advocates. Asked about that, he offers an answer that may inspire others to join his efforts.

"In a way they're right," he told me. "I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it. And I am paid by troops and their families who say thanks for doing this, thanks for being here."

Mr. Ferris is an assistant editor and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
30292  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: May 24, 2008, 09:07:02 AM
"Another interesting question might have been, if I was stopped by the officer in LA and he noticed my 6" screwdriver on the seat next to me; what would he do?  Probably nothing, but IF he asked, "what is the screwdriver for?" and I said, "self defense", he would be entitled to arrest me for having a dagger longer than 3" (LA City Limit).

"But the issue still is not "intent".  The issue is whether the instrument is legal to carry or not."

Disagree.  By your own words it is precisely the intent that turns it into a dagger.

As for the right to not answer, I suppose so-- but I submit that an answer the equivalent of "I don't have to tell you" is likely to heighten the LEO's propensity to make all the negative inferences he can and act upon them.  Yes?
30293  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 24, 2008, 08:59:40 AM
I caught a bit of the buzz build show on Spike and heard BJ talking about how SS's use of steroids indicated a weak mind/heart.  SS denied using steroids.  Any athoughts on his innocence or guilt and the implications thereof?
30294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NY Times: Rain Forest for sale on: May 24, 2008, 08:45:25 AM
40 Million Acres of Rain Forest for the Greenest Bidder

Published: May 24, 2008
The other day I went to a meeting to hear Harrison Ford talk about saving the rain forests and ended up listening to a man who has a rain forest to save: Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The occasion was the announcement of a new campaign to protect the world’s rain forests, Guyana’s included, organized by the environmental group Conservation International. (Mr. Ford, a board member, was in New York to promote his new movie and somehow got his schedule wrong.)

That left the spotlight where it belonged: on Mr. Jagdeo and his mission to get the world’s rich nations to help save Guyana’s huge rain forest from chainsaws and prevent the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas.

Mr. Jagdeo caused a stir last year when he offered to cede the management of his country’s entire rain forest — 40-plus million acres, covering 80 percent of Guyana’s land mass — to a British government agency in return for British economic assistance. Though the British have yet to take him up on the deal, Mr. Jagdeo continues to press the case for protecting not only his rain forest, but all of them.

It is a noble and necessary mission. The rain forests form a cooling band around Earth’s equator. And their accelerating loss — from logging, farming, mining and burning — is a major cause of climate change, accounting for one-fifth of all carbon-dioxide emissions. That is more than the amount the United States puts into the atmosphere from all sources and more than the emissions generated by all of the world’s cars, trucks, buses and airplanes.

Rain forests serve many important purposes. They provide clean water, protection against floods and the basis for many medicines. Yet their most useful function in a warming world is to absorb carbon and store it.

For too long these facts have been undervalued in discussions of climate change. At the Kyoto talks in 1997, for instance, various nations proposed that industrialized countries be allowed to offset some of their own emissions by paying poorer countries not to cut down their forests. European environmental groups fiercely resisted the idea, warning that this would let rich countries off the hook, and engineered the proposal’s defeat.

That was a colossal blunder for which the planet has been paying ever since. Rain forests continue to disappear at a rate of 20 million to 30 million acres every year.

Mr. Jagdeo is the perfect champion for the rain forests. Guyana, together with Suriname, French Guiana and sections of Venezuela and northern Brazil form the Guayana Shield, an ancient geologic formation that contains 14 percent of the world’s carbon. The hope is that his example will inspire bigger countries like Brazil to take a far more aggressive role in protecting their forests from commercial development.

He also speaks with authority about the impact of global warming on poorer countries. He noted the other day that while climate change might require wealthy Americans to drive fewer S.U.V.’s, it is a matter of life and death for poor countries that face floods and drought. Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, is right at sea level. If the seas rise substantially, Georgetown goes.

Finally, as an economist by training, Mr. Jagdeo is a persuasive advocate for new ways of looking at the economic value of forests. Right now, he suggests, too many countries put no dollar value at all on their standing forests. So any payment they get from harvesting trees is seen as a clear profit. If forests are correctly valued — for the carbon they sequester and the damage they spare the planet — then there is far more to gain from leaving them in tact.

The good news is that the world is finally starting to see things Mr. Jagdeo’s way. Negotiators at last year’s climate change conference in Bali — the first of several meetings aimed at crafting a post-Kyoto treaty — agreed to address deforestation. The big climate bill that is expected to be debated on the Senate floor very soon provides incentives for American companies to invest in rain-forest projects abroad. Mr. Jagdeo may yet wind up with a buyer.
30295  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: desperately seeking dogbrother on: May 23, 2008, 11:56:32 PM
I once had a stranger show up at my house  unannounced shocked angry with a 6" DBMA logo tatooed on his chest with visions of sitting in front of my house until I accepted him as a student , , ,
30296  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 23, 2008, 11:54:36 PM
Any calls on Lyotto Machida's (sp?) fight?  I used to spar with him at RAW and coached him a couple of times on DBMA Kali Tudo.  He's a lefty and seemed very interested in the ideas we worked together.  Very nice guy-- naturally I am routing for him.
30297  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: May 23, 2008, 11:51:27 PM
Which brings me to my point. 

If a LEO pulls over someone with a baseball bat on his front seat, and conversation reveals no baseball game in the near past or future, and upon query as to the reason for the bat the answer is given "Self Defense", I'm thinking this could lead to legally unhappy consequences.

Re Section 12020, I'm thinking the same applies to that screwdriver in your pocket.  If frisked per a "Terry stop" (calling all LEOs, am I using the term correctly?) i.e. a pat down search and the screwdriver turns up and your answer is "self-defense", again I am thinking your intent could lead to legally unhappy consequences.

30298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 23, 2008, 07:24:05 PM
Woof Rachel:

You seem like someone worthy of having an intelligent conversation wtih.  The problem on my end is that I sense this to be a subject that once entered is likely to call for considerable and extended conversation-- and I have many demands upon my time.  My random participation in the thread could be misinterpreted as meaning I couldn't handle the conversation or was being rude or something like that.  If you can accept these limitations of mine in the conversation, I am game.

Also, I would like everyone to note the word "conversation".   I have some strong opinions on the subject and they are incorrect.  For anyone who cannot handle this, as my Tort professor in law school would say "too bad, so sad."  That said, as strongly as we may disagree, we need to keep the spirit of conversation at all times.

With that said, let me see if I can sort my thoughts out:

First, my basic attitude is that gays/lesbians are free to be gay and others are free to make of it what they will.  That includes thinking it is wrong, repulsive, condemned by God, something to avoid, whatever.

Flowing from the first thought, is the second, making anti-gay thoughts, feelings, employment practices, etc. illegal is liberal fascism.  Government is force and contrary to the Orwellian liberal use of the word "progressive", progress is increasing the amount of voluntary human interaction.  Increasing violence and coercion i.e. the role of the State in human interaction, is the opposite of progress.

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

Fourth, liberal fascism does not seem willing to compromise.  The offers of compromises such as "domestic partnership" and "Don't ask, don't tell" are disingenuous lies used simply to work towards imposing through the violence of government action an Orwellian  thought crime.

Fifth, there are areas where discrimination probably is a pretty good idea.  For example, a lesbian probably should not be taking a girls school group on an overnight outing.  I don't want a gay scout leader in my son's cub scout troop.    (I note that liberal fascism hounds the Boy Scouts for this very reason-- this fine, wholesome group faces litigation wherever it goes, particularly if it wants to use a facility with some sort of governmental qualities.)  Because I have never served I defer to those that have, but it seems to me that the military is probably a good place for discrimination too.  I would not want to be in a squad with a gay sargeant when it came to deciding who had to take lead the way through the minefield.  It seems quite logical to me that in the close quarters of combat operations in particular, that disciplinary problems could result.

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

Well, there it is.  The Adventure is begun.
30299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Oil and the Fed on: May 23, 2008, 02:13:19 PM
Second post of day

Oil and the Fed
May 23, 2008
So the Federal Reserve is signaling that its rate-cutting binge may finally be over, and we can be grateful for that small favor. The consequences of its easy-money bender will roll through the economy for years to come, however, so it's important to draw the right lessons.

All the more so because the Fed's most senior officials continue to insist that recent price increases have almost nothing to do with . . . monetary policy. Imagine that. The latest to wash his hands of responsibility for the value of the currency is Donald Kohn, the Fed's current Vice Chairman and long-time resident intellectual. In a speech in New Orleans this week, Mr. Kohn acknowledged soaring oil and food prices, but he blamed them on global supply and demand for corn, oil and so on.

"As interest rates in the United States fell relative to those abroad, the dollar declined, which could have boosted the prices of commodities commonly priced in dollars by reducing their cost in terms of other currencies," Mr. Kohn explained. "But the prices of commodities have risen substantially in terms of all currencies, not just the dollar. In sum, lower interest rates and the reduced foreign exchange value of the dollar may have played a role in the rise in the prices of oil and other commodities, but it probably has been a small one."

If Mr. Kohn really believes this, we're in more trouble than we thought.

For starters, he is simply wrong about the relative price of commodities and other currencies. The price of oil has risen far more rapidly in dollars than it has in euros since 2002. David King points this out today with a chart that we have run in the past. Had the Fed merely kept the dollar stable against the euro, the price of oil would be closer to $80 than to $131 a barrel.

No one denies that supply and demand play a role in commodity prices, but oil on global markets is denominated in dollars. When the value of the greenback falls, and especially when speculators anticipate that it will fall further, oil sellers demand more dollars for their product. This was the experience of the 1970s, the last time the Fed lost its monetary moorings, and we have been living through a sequel this decade.

As recently as last August, the dollar price of oil was only $70. The current spike in oil and other commodity prices coincides almost exactly with the Fed's decision to turn the monetary spigots wide open as a response to the credit crunch. They have since taken the fed funds rate down to 2% from 5.25%, while commodity prices have soared.

Oil prices have jumped recently on reports of higher global demand, but this too reveals a Fed miscalculation. The central bankers have justified their rapid plunge down the yield curve as necessary to avoid a recession, arguing that a slowing economy would mitigate any inflationary impact. Yet the economy has been far more resilient than either the Fed or its Wall Street beseechers expected, and we may still avoid a single negative quarter for gross domestic product this year.

As for inflation, this week's producer price numbers were alarming. The wholesale inflation figure is up 6.5% in the last year, despite an anomalous April decline in gasoline prices. That decline won't continue with $131 oil. With even the Fed's phony "core inflation" rate well above the 2% fed funds rate, Mr. Kohn and company are running a negative real interest rate policy.

No wonder inflation expectations have been rising. Economist Michael Darda points out that the University of Michigan's year-ahead inflation survey hit 5.2% in May, the highest reading since 1982. Yet some at the Fed continue to insist that inflation expectations are "well-anchored." Anchored on what planet?

The price for this Fed blunder is going to be very high, and we don't mean only at the grocery store or gas station. If inflation doesn't fall, the Fed will have no choice but to start raising rates again, perhaps rapidly and perhaps soon. That could put a damper on any economic recovery, especially if it coincides with the huge tax increase that Barack Obama is promising next year.

Politically, meanwhile, the Fed's commodity spike is proving to be deadly for the Republican Party that occupies the White House. As the nearby poll question shows, rising prices overall and gas prices specifically are by far the public's biggest economic worries. Voters are understandably furious because they can see that their real incomes are falling as prices rise. This is the real source of middle-class economic anxiety – not the housing recession, or jobs, or the liberal obsession with income inequality.

Republicans may be punished this November for forgetting that the Reagan policy mix had two levers – tax cuts and stable money. The Bush Administration got tax policy right. Its tragic error was falling for the siren song of dollar depreciation, and abetting a Federal Reserve that even now seems not to comprehend the damage it has done.
30300  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 23, 2008, 01:55:07 PM

I've pasted your post on the Self Defense thread.


I've pasted your post on a new thread "Knife Laws"

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