Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Obama Approves Arms Shipments for Egypt

WASHINGTON — Seeking to patch up relations with a longtime regional ally at a time of spreading war and instability in the Middle East, President Obama on Tuesday lifted an arms freeze against Egypt that he first imposed after the 2013 military overthrow of the country’s elected government.

Mr. Obama removed his holds on the delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles and M1A1 tank kits and in a telephone call assured President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt that he would continue to support $1.3 billion in annual military assistance for the Cairo government, the White House announced.

Is this a good idea? 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton has responded to the formal request from “The Select Committee on Benghazi”

Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chairman of the House Committee on Benghazi, released a statement detailing her answer and the next steps for the committee.
Here was Gowdy’s full statement:
“After seeking and receiving a two week extension from the Committee, Secretary Clinton failed to provide a single new document to the subpoena issued by the Committee and refused to provide her private server to the Inspector General for the State Department or any other independent arbiter for analysis.
We learned today, from her attorney, Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server. While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department.
Gowdy continues:
Not only was the Secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest.
In light of the Secretary’s unprecedented email arrangement with herself and her decision nearly two years after she left office to permanently delete all emails and because the equities at stake involve not only those of the Select Committee and Congress more broadly, but also those of the American people and their right to the full record of her tenure as secretary of State, we will work with the leadership of the House of Representatives as the Committee considers next steps. But it is clear Congress will need to speak with the former Secretary about her email arrangement and the decision to permanently delete those emails.”

 The U.S. Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 101, Section 2071, paragraphs a and b, specifically address crimes related to records and reports, and could potentially be used by the Department of Justice to subject Clinton to criminal charges.

Don't worry, this won't happen to us.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years.  During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
  • From control of the Wife into bondage.
  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage.
  • From bondage back into the control of the Wife.
This is a direct quote from Alexander Fraser Tytler.  What stage do you think we’re in?

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee FRSE was a Scottish advocate, judge, writer and historian who served as Professor of Universal History, and Greek and Roman Antiquities, in the University of Edinburgh. wikipedia.org
  • October 15, 1747
  • January 5, 1813
 “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
Alexander Fraser Tytler

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The latest and greatest AF1

 Nothing to good for a president, Hawaii, Martha's vineyard, Crawford, Texas.  Travel in style it's only tax payers money. 

18 trillion in debt and government knows no shame in spending.

The Pentagon is considering spending billions of dollars on three new Boeing 747s to use as Air Force One, the aircraft that shuttles the United States president.
According to CBS News, the current Air Force One fleet is getting old, and the U.S. military says it’s time for a new generation to carry future commanders in chief.
"We've got a pretty good size team working on it," said Air Force Col. Amy McCain, who is in charge of ordering the new Air Force One, according to the station.
McCain's team has grown to 80 people from 20 in the past year. The team is expected to swell to 100 shortly.
"It's actually cheaper in the long run to replace it."- Air Force Col. Amy McCain
Budget paperwork shows the military requested from Congress $102 million this year to buy the planes, with the numbers growing to more than $3 billion over the next five years. Those numbers do not include the final three years of the project, CBS reported.
Questions linger as to whether taxpayers can afford to buy a new presidential plane.
"The current airplane was fielded in 1991," McCain said. "It's the only 747-200 left in the United States that is flying. So it costs a lot more time and money to keep that airplane flying than it used to. It's actually cheaper in the long run to replace it."
"The top priority is an affordable aircraft that will meet the presidential requirements," McCain said. "We're buying up to three. It depends on all the availability of having two airplanes available for the president at any one time."
The Air Force expects to ink its first contract with Boeing sometime in 2015 for the next Air Force One, and wants to have the new 747s flying the president in 2023.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gowdy Accuses Clinton

(Source Politico)  Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Friday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wiped "clean" all private emails from her server, defying a subpoena from Gowdy requesting "any emails relating to Libya, weapons located in the country, the Benghazi attacks, and administration statements following the attacks on the compound," Politico reports.

Gowdy, who is chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, subpoenaed Clinton following reports that she had saved emails on a private server and used a personal email account while at the State Department. He said it appeared she deleted the emails permanently sometime after October 28, 2014.

An attorney for Clinton, David Kendall, responded to Gowdy in a letter stating that the 900 pages of emails Clinton has already provided to the panel cover the subpoena's requests. Gowdy responded that Clinton's defiance of the subpoena could move him and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to consider new legal actions against the former secretary.

The Value of a college degree


Friday, March 27, 2015

Ron Paul supporters turn their backs on Rand Paul

Rand Paul, Kentucky senator and expected Republican presidential contender.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Rand Paul is facing defections from an unexpected quarter: the idealists who powered his father Ron’s presidential campaigns.
Instead of embracing the younger Paul as he pulls together his expected presidential campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, many of the grass-roots activists who backed Ron Paul are turning their backs on his son. The problem, writes Politico, is their disillusionment with Rand Paul’s concession to mainstream politics. The chairman of Ron Paul’s 2012 Iowa campaign, for example, says the younger Paul is “moderating” on many key stances.

Christmas comes early for Lou and America, Harry Reid to retire in 2016

I looked out my window here in Vegas today and was surprised to see it snowing. On closer inspection, it was holy manna falling from heaven. The departure of Harry Reid can only portend to greatness for America as he leaves and takes with him all bad things that are ruining the country. Living here in Vegas, it might be entertaining to watch another round of challenges from some batshit crazy person like Sharon Angle, but I have to admit, I'm not really all that excited to see the gavel passed to either Schumer or my old Senator Dick Durbin. I would like to think that with Reid and McConnell no longer snapping each other in the ass with wet towels in the locker room, we might actually see some business get done. Probably not gonna happen. I'll give Reid credit for working on things that mattered to me, but I'm glad he's going.

Bush and the Environment

USA Today WASHINGTON — As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush spearheaded the ambitious effort to restore the Florida Everglades, championed efforts to ban oil drilling off the state's coast, and created the Florida Forever program that's spent almost $3 billion buying 700,000 acres of ecologically sensitive land.

Those who want to separate Bush from the rest of the GOP presidential field on policy issues point to his support of Common Core academic standards and immigration reform. But the scion of a Texas oil family also compiled a progressive environmental legacy that's likely to differentiate him from other conservatives contending for the White House.

"Bush has a true track record of advancing environmental programs and defending environmental laws and policies," said Eric Draper, a Democrat who is executive director of Audubon Florida. "And I would hope that if he becomes president, he would continue in that direction, and that he would bring some common sense to the Republican Party."

Glenn Beck is Leaving the Republican Party

Beck says he is tired of the Republican Party playing games. Specifically says that they are caving in to the Democrats.  Here is the video.:


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Scott Walker Changes His MInd on Immigrants

(Reuters) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told a private dinner of New Hampshire Republicans this month that he backed the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and to eventually become eligible for citizenship, a position at odds with his previous public statements on the matter.

Mr. Walker’s remarks, which were confirmed by three people present and haven’t been reported previously, vary from the call he has made in recent weeks for “no amnesty”—a phrase widely employed by people who believe immigrants who broke the law by entering the country without permission shouldn’t be awarded legal status or citizenship.

The changing positions by Mr. Walker, a likely candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, show the difficulty that some in the Republican Party face as they try to appeal both to the conservative GOP primary electorate—which largely opposes liberalizing immigration laws—and business leaders and general election voters who have been more supportive of granting legal status to undocumented immigrants.

Will John Kasich run?

Sixteen years after his first presidential campaign John Kaisich is sounding like a candidate again. His advantage: he says that, (unlike the other candidates) he is normal. I heard him on Bloomberg last night and I liked what he said. Here is the link.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How the U.S. Military Would Crush a Tea Party Rebellion

How the U.S. Military Would Crush a Tea Party Rebellion

A right-wing militia inspired by the Tea Party movement has taken over the city of Darlington, South Carolina, arrested the local government, and declared that the federal government should be overthrown. As the militia establishes checkpoints across I-95, other extremist groups across the nation rush to declare their support. South Carolina’s governor – a Tea Party supporter – declines to send in law enforcement to quash the militia, but quietly asks for federal intervention. The President invokes the Insurrection Act to authorize the use of federal troops, as the Pentagon prepares for war at home….
This is a drill, repeat, this is a drill. Actually, it’s a thought exercise by two authors exploring just how the U.S. military would respond to domestic insurrection. It sounds almost paranoid, except that nine days after Obama’s reelection, petitions for secession have sprouted in all 50 states, gun sales have soared for fear of what a second term means for gun owners, and white nationalist groups are elated over Obama’s victory. Add in a stagnant economy, a polarized electorate, and perhaps some disgruntled Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, and domestic strife seems improbable but not impossible.
The scenario appeared last July – before Obama’s reelection – in the respected Small Wars Journal. The article, titled “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future”, was written by Kevin Benson, a retired Army colonel who teaches at University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Jennifer Weber, a history professor at University of Kansas and a Civil War historian.
Benson and Weber (the team sounds like a cigarette brand) explored how the military might domestically apply its concept of full spectrum operations, which cover everything from all-out war to counterinsurgency and nation-building. In fact, the Army’s operating concept for 2016 to 2028  considers highly likely a future where the U.S. is threatened by “radical U.S. citizens operating domestically and abroad”. The Pentagon was probably thinking of Al Qaeda sympathizers in the U.S., but radicals come in all flavors.
Benson and Weber boldly argue that “if we face a period of persistent global conflict as outlined in successive National Security Strategy documents, then Army officers are professionally obligated to consider the conduct of operations on U.S. soil.”  They also argue that preparations for such a scenario must begin now, including proper equipment for the U.S. military as well as liaison between federal and state authorities. Actually, the issue is really the conduct of operations against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, but Benson and Weber (who declined to speak with the War Games blog) depict a convoluted situation where the military intervenes in South Carolina using techniques honed by hunting Taliban, while still trying to remain within the law.
Make no mistake, this isn’t the Pentagon providing military support to hurricane victims, or even sending troops to support local authorities as during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. This is a war. There will be casualties. Refugees from the fighting must be housed and fed. But it’s a strange kind of war. Thus U.S. forces begin, as any combat forces would, by attempting to collect intelligence on enemy forces – but then have to erase the intel within 90 days after operations are completed, in order not to run afoul of federal privacy laws. They will be eavesdropping on “enemy” communications, but only with a court order. They must depend on local law enforcement for information on the rebels, but the local cops may be rebel sympathizers. There will be “information/influence operations designed to present a picture of the federal response and the inevitable defeat of the insurrection.”
Curiously, the authors don’t really delve the fundamental issue of American soldiers firing on American civilians, except to note that troops would have to comply with standing rules on force, which require graduated levels of violence. Civil support in South Carolina makes counterinsurgency in Kabul look like a picnic.
Predictably, the Small Wars Journal article drew fire from outraged conservative newspapers and protestors. The critics missed the point. This wasn’t really aimed at the far right, except that insofar as there are heavily armed groups in America that dispute the authority of the federal government, they do tend be right-wing. Yet this scenario could just as easily be applied to radical left violence like the 1999 Battle of Seattle riots.
Benson and Weber present a scenario that is somewhat artificial. For example, American law enforcement has become militarized after 9/11. Who needs to call in Army troops when your local police force has armored vehicles, grenade launchers and automatic weapons? One has to wonder if a militia would be so formidable that the state National Guard couldn’t handle it. But then the premise of Benson and Weber’s scenario is that local authorities might not be able to trust local forces to fight rebels, or that local voters might punish politicians who try to do so.
The old gun lobby line that a pack of civilians with hunting rifles will stop a tyrannical federal government is silly. This isn’t 1776, the U.S. military is a tad better equipped than King George’s redcoats, and if the U.S. Army decides to crush an insurrection, it will do so. But it is also true that the nature of warfare is changing, as the spread of high-tech weapons has the Pentagon worried that even weak states can field missiles that make sending in the Marines a bloody operation. If Hamas and Hezbollah can obtain anti-tank missiles, why not a Michigan militia or a Los Angeles street gang? If drug cartels deploy heavy weapons on the Mexico-U.S. border, then perhaps only the U.S. military has the firepower to stop them.
However, the real question is this: under what circumstances should federal troops conduct military operations against American citizens on American soil? Is this scenario likely enough that the U.S. military prepare for such operations, or should we worry that preparation will inevitably lead to action? Note the part about American soil, because American supporters of Al Qaeda are already being killed on foreign soil. Laws like the Insurrection Act and Posse Comitatus are designed to tightly restrict using the military against the American people. But if there were a rebellion, I wonder if the President would stand on legalities. Lincoln is remembered for winning the Civil War, not suspending habeus corpus.

11/15/2012 @ 11:33AM

More States Added to ‘Jade Helm’ Military Exercise

'Realistic Military Training' exercise expands to as many as ten states
by Adan Salazar & Mikael Thalen | Infowars.com | March 24, 2015 

The US military has quietly added more states to its eight-week Jade Helm joint training drill, originally designated to take place in seven southwestern states.
Speaking of the exercise at the Brazos County Commissioners Court in Texas last month, Jade Helm Operations Planner and retired Green Beret Thomas Mead told an audience that the drill, which will run from July 15 to September 15, will now include the states Mississippi and Florida.
“The exercise is actually an eight-week exercise taking place across seven states,” Mead explains. “As you can see right there, it spans the whole southwest of the United States. We’ve also added Mississippi and we have a group also working out of Florida.”
“We’ll have Navy Seals that’ll be conducting targets and training down in the Mississippi area,” Mead also says.
The interagency, unconventional warfare exercise, lasting eight weeks, will utilize 1,200 special forces personnel from multiple branches of the US military, including Army Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division, according to a Powerpoint presentation regarding the exercise.
Operations Planner Francisco Oquendo Jr. also says “specific apparatuses” in the Brazos County area will be targeted for “surgical strikes” during a special extraction mission involving helicopters flying in from Louisiana.
A local Standard-Times report also lists “Louisiana” as one of the participating states.
The exercise serves to hone troops’ advanced skills in “large areas of undeveloped land with low population densities,” and will allow them to work alongside “civilians to gain their trust and an understanding of the issues.”
“This allows our soldiers to get a better training environment,” Mead said in an interview with news outlet MySouTex.com last year.
“We’re getting these guys back into the woods,” said Mead. “We’re getting them back into the field to make it hard for them.”
Additionally, two states – Texas and Utah – appear highlighted as “hostile” territory, according to the slideshow, leading to fears that traditionally conservative areas may be a simulated target for future domestic operations.
The U.S. Army has even built a mock American city in Virginia, complete with subway carriages carrying the exact same logo as those seen in Washington DC, to practice occupying urban areas.
U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria has attempted to tamp down concerns over the drills, claiming they are “Just a regular training exercise,” and adding that more information on the drills would be released later today.
Although similar drills have been carried out domestically in the past, such exercises are increasingly being conducted among civilian populations, suggesting an attempt to acclimate and condition the public to a persistent military presence.
In the past few years alone, the US Army has carried out numerous drills in American cities, with low flying “black helicopters” disturbing residents of Minnesota, buzzing residents of Dallas and frightening Miami residents with simulated gunfire.
As domestic drills intensify in frequency, military scholars have begun publicly laying out scenarios in which troops would be used to target political groups such as the Tea Party.
A 2012 report from the Small Wars Journal entitled, “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future,” even conceptualizes “How the U.S. Military would crush a Tea Party rebellion.”
The increasing shift towards targeting domestic political movements should be troublesome not only to the American public, but to military personnel who have been labeled a major terror threat by the Department of Homeland Security as well.
Although the vast majority of U.S. military members would undoubtedly reject orders to target their fellow Americans, incidents such as Hurricane Katrina – which saw law abiding citizens disarmed at gunpoint under a military gun confiscation directive – point to the growing need for vigilance against a domestic mission creep.

The tyranny of the executive power

"The executive power in our Government is not the only, perhaps not even the principal, object of my solicitude. The tyranny of the Legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come. The tyranny of the executive power will come in its turn, but at a more distant period."

Thomas Jefferson.

Have we reached the day of tyranny by the executive branch?

I would argue that if your a liberal/Democrat/progressive, a person getting theirs, the answer is no. 
To the rest of the country, the answer certainly looks different.

Keeping America Safe.

Washington, DC) –  76 pages of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents revealing that as of April 26, 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had released 165,900 convicted criminal aliens throughout the United States, including many convicted of such violent crimes as homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. (Reports recently detailed that ICE released another 30,000 in the most recent fiscal year, which brings the grand total of known criminals released by the Obama administration to 195,900.)

Thank you Obama for putting Americans first.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cruz and Obama

Lynchburg, Virginia (CNN)It's an audacious gambit, opening a presidential campaign after merely a brief stop in the U.S. Senate. But if it worked for a freshman senator from Illinois, could it work for one from Texas?

Barack Obama and Ted Cruz both have Ivy League credentials, with degrees from Harvard Law School. They both have two young daughters. They both served in the Senate for only two years before defying conventional wisdom and declaring their lofty White House ambitions.

The similarities may well stop there for Obama and Cruz, who at 44 is just one year younger than Obama when he launched his improbable presidential bid eight years ago. But the success of Obama -- at the ballot box, at least, in 2008 and 2012 -- is helping to fuel the aspirations of Cruz and other Republican hopefuls in the opening chapter of this campaign.
If Obama could overtake the mighty Hillary Clinton back then, could Cruz compete with the powerful establishment behind Jeb Bush's anticipated candidacy?

"prosecution on the charge of contempt to the Speaker of the House"

Trey Gowdy Lays Down the Law: Hillary Must Turn Over Email Server or Face ‘Full Powers of the House’

Congressman Trey Gowdy, who heads the Select Committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attack, sent a letter this week to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Gowdy’s letter firmly requests that Clinton turn over her email server by April 3rd to a neutral third party, or he plans to litigate:
Image Credit: Select Committee on Benghazi
Image credit: Select Committee on Benghazi
Gowdy, a former prosecutor, has stressed that the committee does not have police powers and therefore cannot force the former Secretary of State to turn over her property.
ABC News reports Gowdy’s objective is to answer persistent questions:
“The Committee must have objective assurances it, and by extension the House of Representatives as a whole, has received all relevant information requested and necessary for a thorough investigation into what happened before, during and after the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.”
Gowdy insists that Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal doesn’t just concern the Select Committee on Benghazi:
“More broadly, the equities in these emails extend beyond this Committee. The House of Representatives and the American people are entitled to a complete accounting of the Secretary’s official record during her time as Secretary of State.”
Gowdy sent the letter to Hillary Clinton’s attorney David Kendall, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings.
In the latter half of the letter, Gowdy warns Mrs. Clinton that if she refuses to act, she’ll be turned over for prosecution on the charge of contempt to the Speaker of the House:
Image Credit: Select Committee on Benghazi
Image Credit: Select Committee on Benghazi
Mrs. Clinton ran her own server reportedly from her Chappaqua, New York home. In a news conference last week, her explanation was one of convenience.
A perceived lack of precautions left the former Secretary of State’s server susceptible to online criminal activity. Some ‘white hat hackers‘ have claimed the software and email program she used left her server vulnerable to illegal entry.
According to Bloomberg:
“Hillary Clinton didn’t take a basic precaution with her personal e-mail system to prevent hackers from impersonating or “spoofing” her identity in messages to close associates, according to former U.S. officials familiar with her e-mail system and other cyber-security experts.”
“This vulnerability put anyone who was in communication with her clintonemail.com account while she was secretary of state at risk of being hacked. Clinton said at the United Nations last week that there were no security breaches of her personal e-mail server, which she used to send and receive more than 60,000 professional and personal e-mails. But former cyber-security officials and experts told us that there were gaps in the system.”
The Huffington Post offered this comparison:
“What if Dick Cheney, not Hillary Clinton had deleted 30,000 emails from a private, at home server?”
Mrs. Clinton said she handed over 30,000 of her emails to the State Department and deleted another 30,000 because she claimed they were “private.” The criteria she gave to the press to determine what is public, and what is private, has been inconsistent. 
The Associated Press is also suing the former Secretary of State for access to the remaining emails.

"organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," 

There will be adjustments living in Google's brave new world | Editorial

Can we trust a corporate giant accused of abusing monopoly power in ways that harm its users and rivals to be an arbiter of truth? (AFP/Getty Images)

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board 
on March 22, 2015 at 1:00 PM, updated March 22, 2015 at 6:34 PM

View/Post Comments

There are 48,000 Google searches every second. That translates to 3.5 billion per day, and 1.2 trillion per year worldwide. That's twice as many as there were just six years ago. Every six out of 10 searches on the Internet are through Google's engine.

You probably use it a dozen times a day yourself, even if you accept it as the gateway to a world often ruled by half-truths and witless lies, because the results they spit back at you are based more on popularity than veracity.

Now imagine the same portal, only with Mr. Spock as its gatekeeper.

Google is pondering something like that. And if workable, it is likely to change much of what we read online.

Consider: Scientists from the internet colossus believe they can someday base these searches not by how popular the Web pages are, but by their factual content. It'smerely a theory until an algorithm can be developed to evaluate web page accuracy, but its ramifications could be as unlimited as the Internet itself.

Some may lament the loss of witticisms from Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, but is that a good or bad thing? Does this mean we'll have to switch over to Yahoo in order to hear from any living politician? Do we want to live in a world governed by Factcheck.org? Or are no longer satisfied with whatever pops up when we type in the terms "Barack Obama" and "birthplace"?

Should we fear that our egalitarian stripes will wash off, even with Facebook and Twitter still summoning its two-billion-strong cacophony?

But here's the bigger question, to paraphrase Col. Jessep: Can we handle the truth?

The interweb's raison d'ĂȘtre is the crazy and uncensored interaction of plain folks, while the "reliable" media portrays itself as the reasoned counterweight, even though their own corporate sponsors often peddle a specific viewpoint.

Amid this noise, Google may soon appoint itself as an arbiter of truth - which is a leap of faith for all of us, given that the FTC has long accused it of having a "monopoly position in the markets for search and search advertising."

Beyond that, truth can be a moving target for the growing legions of willful ignorance, such as the evolution-is-just-a-theory crowd. But if Mark Zuckerberg can set rules for free speech on Facebook before the Supreme Court can do it, perhaps it's time Google took a crack at separating fact from fiction.

Presumably, it will take time for its algorithm to develop search integrity, because the aptly-named Google Bombing and Google Washing and Spamdexing - complexities in which page rankings can be manipulated for political or humorous purposes - would conflict with its aims.

But Google's prime directive is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," and make piles of money in the process. Never before did the mission statement say "truthful." Clearly, however, this was the next frontier.

We haven't arrived yet, but nothing moves faster than computer engineering. It's a brave new world, and now we just have to figure out whether we'll be comfortable living in it.

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king, would you weigh in on this?

Australia a puzzling hotbed of Islamic State recruiting

Mar 22, 2:25 AM (ET)


(AP) In this Dec. 15, 2014 file photo, armed police officers point as they stand...
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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A nightclub bouncer who reportedly became a terror group leader. A man who tweeted a photo of his young son clutching a severed head. A teenager who is believed to have turned suicide bomber, and others suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State movement. All of them, Australian.

The London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence reports that between 100 and 250 Australians have joined Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. Given Australia's vast distance from the region and its population of just 24 million, it is a remarkable number. The center estimates that about 100 fighters came from the United States, which has more than 13 times as many people as Australia.

Experts disagree about why Islamic State has been so effective recruiting in Australia, which is widely regarded as a multicultural success story, with an economy in an enviable 24th year of continuous growth.

Possible explanations include that some Australian Muslims are poorly integrated with the rest of the country, and that Islamic State recruiters have given Australia particular attention. In addition, the Australian government failed to keep tabs on some citizens who had been radicalized, and moderate Muslims have been put off by some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's comments about their community.

(AP) In this Dec. 15, 2014 file photo, a hostage runs to armed tactical response...
Full ImageGreg Barton, a global terrorism expert at Monash University in Melbourne, said Australia and some other countries underestimated Islamic State's "pull factor."

"We're all coming to terms with the fact that this is a formidable targeter and predatory recruiter that goes after individuals one by one with a very masterful use of technology, and our sense of confidence that because we've got society working well makes us secure misses the point," Barton said.

Muslims make up about 2.2 percent of the population in Australia, compared to just 1 percent in the United States. And while many U.S. Muslims are from families who migrated in pursuit of the American economic dream, a larger proportion of Australian Muslims are from families who fled Lebanon's civil war in the 1970s and '80s.

Australian Muslims of Lebanese origin are largely based in Sydney, the country's biggest city. They have been less successful in integrating into Australian society than many other groups, and the first Australian-born generation of these migrant families has been overrepresented in terrorism offenses and general street crime.

Mohammad Ali Baryalei, an ethnic Lebanese who reportedly became a high-ranking member of Islamic State's operational command, was formerly a Sydney nightclub bouncer and bit-part television actor. Australian security agencies suspect he single-handedly recruited dozens of Australians and helped them enter Syria.

Once a Sydney street preacher with the Muslim group Street Dawah, Baryalei was reportedly killed in battle in Syria last fall at age 33. The Australian government has yet to confirm his death.

Baryalei is accused in court documents of inciting from afar Islamic State sympathizers in Sydney to brutally slay a randomly selected victim. Security services recorded a telephone conversation between him and Omarjan Azari, who is awaiting trial on charges that include preparing to commit a terrorist act.

"What you guys need to do is pick any random unbeliever," Baryalei allegedly told Azari, according to court testimony. "Backpacker, tourist, American, French or British, even better."

Sydney-born Khaled Sharrouf, also ethnic Lebanese, horrified millions last year by posting on his Twitter account a photo of his 7-year-old son clutching the severed head of a Syrian soldier. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described the image as "one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed."

Sharrouf's appearance on the Syrian battlefield highlighted a flaw in Australia's defenses against Islamic State: lax border security. Sharrouf had served a prison sentence in Australia for planning a foiled terrorist attack and had been banned from leaving the country, but used his brother's passport to leave in 2013.

The Australian government acknowledged there was a problem with a system of airport security that was more focused on who was coming in than on who was leaving. The government announced in August that biometric screening will be rolled out at all Australian international airports as part of 630 million Australian dollars ($500 million) in new spending on intelligence, law enforcement and border protection.

Counterterrorism police units have been attached to major airports to screen passengers. The unit at Sydney Airport was instrumental in recently intercepting two Sydney-born brothers, aged 16 and 17, who were about to fly to Turkey without their parents' knowledge. Authorities suspect the brothers were headed to Syria.

Australia's net still has holes.

Jake Bilardi, an 18-year-old who converted to Islam a few years ago, had avoided Australia's counterterror radar when he left his Melbourne home for Syria in August. After Bilardi's family reported him missing, police found chemicals that could be used to make a bomb at his home. Images of Bilardi armed with a rifle in front of Islamic flags appeared on social media sites later that year.

A picture of a young man resembling Bilardi behind the wheel of a van was posted this month with claims from Islamic State that foreign fighters from Australia and other countries took part in a near-simultaneous attack in Iraq that involved at least 13 suicide car bombs and killed two police officers. The Australian government has yet to confirm Bilardi's death.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been granted enhanced powers to prevent Australians joining IS and, in some cases, from returning to Australia. She has canceled about 100 passports, including Bilardi's, though he left before his passport was revoked.

Keeping would-be militants from leaving Australia, however, increases the risk that they will wreak havoc at home.

Numan Haider, an 18-year-old Muslim Australian of Afghan origin, stabbed two Melbourne police officers and was shot dead in September, a week after his passport had been canceled. He had caught authorities' attention months earlier over what police considered to be troubling behavior, including waving what appeared to be an Islamic State flag at a shopping mall.

Australian authorities were clearly taken by surprise by the growing domestic menace posed by Islamic State followers. Less than a year ago, officials reduced security at Parliament House to cut costs. Since then, security at the seat of national government has been increased to unprecedented levels.

In September, the government raised Australia's terrorist threat level to the second-highest level on a four-tier scale. Police attempting to disrupt terrorist plots have raided scores of homes. Several suspects have been charged and others have been detained without charge under new counterterrorism laws. The nation's main domestic spy agency is juggling more than 400 high-priority counterterrorism investigations — more than double the number a year ago.

But the intensified vigilance was no hindrance to Man Monis, a 50-year-old Iranian-born, self-styled cleric with a long criminal history. In December, Monis took 18 people hostage at a downtown Sydney cafe, forced them to hold up a flag bearing the Islamic declaration of faith against a cafe window and demanded he be delivered a flag of the Islamic State group. Monis and two hostages were killed at the end of a 16-hour siege.

A government review found that Monis had fallen off a terrorist watch list despite repeated warnings to security services from members of the public concerned by his online rants. As a Shiite Muslim, he was thought an unlikely recruit to Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim movement.

As traumatic as the hostage crisis was, it could not be compared to the enormity of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States. Hass Dellal, executive director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, which promotes awareness of cultural diversity within Australia, said that history might make Americans more resistant to Islamic State recruiting.

Dellal also said public discussion of issues around radicalization and extremism is more balanced in the United States than in Australia, which effectively banned Middle Eastern Muslims from immigrating until the 1970s.

Some Muslims have been critical of comments by Prime Minister Abbott, accusing him of driving a wedge between them and the rest of Australia.

"I've often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a religion of peace. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it," Abbott in a speech in February that angered many Muslims with its suggestion of duplicity.

Barton, the Monash University expert, said Australia may prove to be not so different from the United States, if Islamic State expands its influence in America.

"It may be a lag effect," Barton said. "It may be in six months' time, the figures are much more comparable."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Any Large Group Of Individuals....

Of late I have kept myself quite occupied and have allowed myself only an occasional look in to read the comments posted here.  As par usual they tend to be the same rehash without any real discussion about the root cause of anything but in  http://mwamericanpolitics.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/a-milepost-nothing-lasts-forever.html  I did ask Max a question and in respect of the fact that he gave me an honest answer, I owe him no less than a reply.  The subject matter also speaks to various comments in more recent threads, so like a good congressperson I will create an ‘omni’ post to cover it all.

The original post speaks of a change in demographics that are relegating ‘right wing’ commentators such as Rush Limbach to history…  Yes, opinions change… how that change comes about is important.  Is the changed driven by the desire of one group to bury the ideas of another or are the ideas, as presented, so flawed that people reject them out of hand?  The subject of this thread comes from Max’s response to me in which he states: 

“It's not a matter of what I personally think needs to change. Rather, it's a matter that I believe any large group of individuals have the right to decide what is important to them.

When I read it, frankly I was taken back. I thought about it for a few days but then reengaged with my other endeavours but could not shake the comment.  This is not a statement of the Max I have come to know… or perhaps the statement is a reflection of a bias that resides in each of us and within likeminded groups of individuals; A bias of greed and self-interest that we must learn to isolate away from our government because a legitimate government  must operate impartially and most importantly, from a base of rock solid principles on which laws are built. ‘Any large group of people’ usurps that function, unless the group is large enough to amend the foundation, for which there is an agreed upon adequate provision in Article V.  Change to fundamental law which, because of its importance must be considerably harder to amend than a mere 50.1% of a population or in the case of a fragmented set of opinions… a mere plurality.

Growing up I listened to the cases made by many groups on civil rights, abortion, gay’s, women’s rights, etc.  Their points made a lot of sense to me.  They clearly objected to various laws based in unconstitutional principle and imposed by a populous power structure.  These groups, though small, skilfully, rightfully and vocally used the constitutional foundation of this country to show the unjustifiable premise of Jim Crow… of sodomy laws… and state prohibition of abortion.  Had they not had that avenue to argue (the constitutionality of), likely, many of these laws would still stand today.  They rightly pointed out the hazards of the ‘tyranny of the majority’.  Of course I also listened to the US government lecture Russia on a country’s right to self-determination and national sovereignty.  Hypocrisy large and small it would seem.

I suppose the foundations of my libertarian beliefs can be found in all of these arguments, but as history has shown while these groups used the constitution and not the power of any superior numbers to slice and dice unfounded standing law, the remedies they sought were not to resend bad law but to push law, just as unconstitutionally in the other direction… their direction… and at the same time impose a gag order on those who opposed them.

While government mandated segregation had no foundation in the constitution, neither does mandated integration… except of course within the government itself.   The reason we have continuing race problems today, IMHO, is a federal government that lead by example and never adhered to the constitution it is bound to and created by… to the point that the armed forces weren’t integrated until the 1950’s, the postal service and many other government agencies had segregated departments even though the federal government ordained itself ‘colorblind’ some 100 years earlier and all state and local government a short time later.  Housing and Urban Development (HUD) promoted redlining as a way to protect property prices (as if that is a somehow a function of the federal government)… before abruptly becoming self-righteous and outlawing people’s ability to pick and choose who they sold their own private property to... Which goes to the most egregious incursion into individual rights… some people just don’t want to associate with others, be it in their business or their community.  By me, that’s alright… businesses will either succeed or fail based on their model and communities will wither and die or flourish… none of the feds business and all part of the pursuit of happiness.  Had we not had forced integration, doubtless to say Ferguson would have grown up with a police force that reflected the majority black population it serves and sympathetic to its people?

Interestingly, the methods for creating law and societal direction that you espouse (the right of large groups) is the same deviation from the constitution and identical process that created Jim Crow laws with the aid of a judiciary that looked to congress and precedent for guidance rather than the constitution; the same exact thing that these small groups argued against not a half a century ago.

Of course we no longer hear about the right to self-determination as we send our military anywhere and everywhere, invited or not, nor do we hear about the constitution, as both are now an inconvenient obstacle to movements (right and left) that seems more interested in self-indulgent and immediate gratification than a solid society, the future of our country or the burdens and restrictions today’s decisions places on our children.  We do seem to hear a rise of antagonized voice about certain religions… whites (Particularly men) and the Jewish people among others… the new niggers of a changing majority?   After all, it seems from your words that, without a strong foundation of and adherence to a fundamental law, it takes only a likeminded plurality to make it so. 

The truly interesting thing here is the arguments that are raised in objection to the provisions of the Civil Rights Act that force integration and remove a person’s right of free association.   Within your own words a lesser message is that an individual should have the right to decide what is important to themselves as long as it does not breach the freedom of others to do the same, yet anyone who speaks negatively about those provisions is a racist, a bigot… a hater.

You speak of ‘any large group of individuals’….  For many years no one really cared about gays, homosexual, queers, or fags as they were known…(most liberals don’t care about them now except for the votes they drum up).  My only focus on the issue was the appalling way gays were treated (physical violence and legal isolation) because of what they did in privacy of their own homes. The majority had an opinion and it was that very opinion that made the state the arbiter of sexual rights and wrongs… and the dictator of social conscious.   I found the laws which made private consensual activity a crime appalling and was ashamed of a legal system that refused to enforce the laws against violence and intimidation which every citizen is entitled to.  What we got however was hate laws and political correctness that stifle opinion… opinion that may in the long run prove correct and laws that force people to hire, work with and service people with whom they passionately disagree… even if population of those who disagree is still of formidable size and was certainly much larger when the 1964 Civil rights Act was passed.

It’s like the marriage debate… there really is no debate if you look to the constitution.  Either the state makes itself available to each and every citizen to set up mutually agreeable associations or it doesn’t… period.  Society however shouldn’t be stifled in objecting to … or supporting gays in their communities… but they are. Churches shouldn’t be forced to administer its rites to people who do not abide by the rules of its organization… but increasingly the force of the state is being used to strong-arm a rather large group into conformity into another groups’ idea of righteousness… and the other group is by most measures a smaller one.

There is debate about the role of judicial deference in these discussions; a subject that goes back to Marshall.  Jefferson certainly didn’t find Marshall to be a friend of that deference and Madison argued to Congress that amending the Constitution to include a Bill of Rights would prompt the judiciary to serve as “the guardians of those rights.” In fact, Madison wrote, the judiciary “will be an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or executive.” I would not call that a roaring endorsement for or defence of judicial deference.

Of course libertarians and certain Tea Party types face an uphill battle within the republican party and indeed with the conscience of conservatives themselves who are firmly entrenched in the idea, like liberals,  that majority rule whether based on a religious conviction or a secular utilitarian dogma, regardless of its particular merits should push society to change.. many times just in the name of change without regard for concequence, without respect for future generations.

See… you either believe in the rule of law… real law based on a solid foundation that requires more than a whiff of populism to change… or you believe in the very thing you supposidly oppose… survival of the fittest… the rule of the biggest mob.

What I find odd in the argument is the very people, from the president, to academia who have worked tirelessly to instil their version of society rather than educating our children to think and reason for themselves, down to the minions who follow the call of these piedpipers; the very people who not 50 years ago who the very same documents to argue their cause are now calling those who point out the need to abide by the constitution… 'Extremists'…

To use the words of a regular patron here: “I saw what you did there...”