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> "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore": ducks, the taliban, life, the universe and everything
totomoto
post Dec 21 2006, 11:52 PM
Post #281


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


A few fotos for your amusement.

http://aycu34.webshots.com/image/9753/2006...41195037_rs.jpg

http://aycu33.webshots.com/image/7952/2006...27220642_rs.jpg

http://aycu24.webshots.com/image/8503/2006...07923683_rs.jpg

http://aycu04.webshots.com/image/9043/2001...42008512_rs.jpg

http://aycu25.webshots.com/image/8504/2001...97486861_rs.jpg

http://aycu14.webshots.com/image/9453/2001...40419479_rs.jpg

Hi Tesao and Anarch. smile.gif Good to see you. I'll try to get back more often.

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anarch
post Dec 17 2006, 09:33 PM
Post #282


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 873


yeah. I miss your posts too, toto. Come back!




The husband had just finished reading a new book: 'YOU CAN BE THE MAN OF YOUR HOUSE.'

He stormed into the kitchen and walked directly up to his wife.

Pointing a finger in her face, he said sternly, "From now on, YOU need to know that I AM the MAN of this house, and my word is law! You will prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I'm finished eating my meal, you will serve me a sumptuous dessert afterward. Then, after dinner, you are going to go upstairs with me, and we will have all the sex that I want.

After that, you are going to draw my bath so I can relax. You will wash my back and towel me dry and bring my robe. Then you will
massage my feet and hands. Then after that's done, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?"

His wife replied, "The funeral director would be my guess!!"
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tesao
post Dec 17 2006, 03:29 PM
Post #283


olha, que coisa mais linda.....
***
Posts: 1,361
From: somewhere south....VERY south


Toto!!!!!!!!!!!!! come back!!!! we meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeece you!!!!
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totomoto
post Oct 30 2006, 01:42 AM
Post #284


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


laugh.gif

good joke!
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anarch
post Sep 21 2006, 08:49 PM
Post #285


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 873


Sexist old guy who's a surveyor needs to hire a new assistant, but he's so cranky that no one wants to work for him. Finally he reluctantly hires a woman, who's no happier about working for him than he is about having to depend on a woman's (no doubt unreliable and inferior) work, but she's taking what she can get for the time being.

First day goes ok. Next day, he sends her down the valley to do her work. In the afternoon he reaches for his hammer. It's not where he thought he left it. "Damn woman!" sez he to himself, "She must've gone off with it."

He waves his arms to get her attention then signals:

[points to right eye] "I
[points to right knee] need
[pumps right arm like he's hammering] my hammer."

After a few seconds she signals back:
[points to right eye]
[grabs left boob with left hand and shakes it]
[mimes grabbing crotch area and shakes]

Old surveyor mutters, "What the - ?!"
He signals again, more energetically:
[points to right eye] "I!
[points to right knee] need!
[pumps right arm more vigorously, like hammering] my hammer!"

She signals back with the same moves as before:
[points to right eye]
[grabs left boob with left hand and shakes it vigorously]
[mimes grabbing crotch area and shaking vigorously]

"Damn fool woman!" he exclaims, really pissed off now. He jumps into his truck, roars down the valley, slams on the brakes when he reaches her site, jumps out of the truck and stomps over to her. "What the hell are you playing at? I told you very clearly that
[points to right eye] "I
[points to right knee] NEED
[pumps right arm vigorously, hammering] MY HAMMER!"

"Yeah," she says, "And I told you very clearly that


[points to right eye] I

[grabs left boob with left hand and shakes it vigorously] LEFT IT

[mimes grabbing crotch area and shaking vigorously] IN THE TOOLBOX!"

(This is a fun one for performing in front of people.
Sorry I haven't posted much. I've been getting things done for a change.)
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totomoto
post Sep 15 2006, 11:55 PM
Post #286


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


STRATFOR WEEKLY Stratfor Weekly Archive

The GOP Strategy: Indirection and Timing
September 14, 2006 2135 GMT


By Bart Mongoven

The U.S. mid-term congressional election campaign began in earnest Sept. 8, when President George W. Bush announced the end to the CIA's secret prisons system and the transfer of 12 high-value al Qaeda suspects to detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The announcement was essentially the first significant political statement to come from a Republican Party leader in two months. Over the summer, the GOP all but watched in silence as its support numbers fell and public discussions about a Democratic takeover in one or both houses of Congress gained volume. This period of relative quiet, however, appears to have been deliberate -- part of a national strategy to help Republican candidates maintain control of the House and Senate despite Bush's low approval ratings among voters.

The GOP strategy that appears to be unfolding is one that would accept a skeletally thin majority in the House and Senate this November as a "victory," and which depends on winning a number of very close congressional races. Intriguingly, Republicans are not campaigning with any particular vigor to attract the political middle, but appear dedicated to preserving their traditional base of support (which relies heavily on the votes of national-security, social and fiscal conservatives) in such a way that does not completely alienate the middle. While they will not win a majority of the total votes cast nationally through such an approach, Republicans appear to be betting that Congressional district gerrymandering will do the rest of the work for them.

It is difficult to say at this point whether the strategy will achieve its ends, though early indicators do suggest a degree of success at this point. So far, the strategy has been only partly implemented. The portion that has become visible suggests the Republicans will use a highly indirect approach to maintain their hold on Congress, and will rely heavily on a number of players (Democrats and the media particularly) behaving in predictable ways.

There are, however, two critical issues that must be considered, and which doubtless will weigh heavily on the minds of Republican Party strategists in the coming weeks. The first is that this game plan -- even if successful for the November elections -- will not be a panacea for the larger ills the GOP faces. Second, there is the possibility that Bush -- and by extension, his party -- have grown so unpopular that 2006 could become another "tidal wave" election year, akin to 1954, 1974 and 1994. In those off-year elections, an unpopular sitting president and a sense that the nation was adrift resulted in significant political shifts and a turnover of leadership in Congress.

If 2006 should turn out to be a tidal wave year, no amount of intricate maneuvering or strategizing will be able to forestall a political shift.

The Gerrymandering Tactic

The Republican Party's requirements for November are quite simple: Capture 218 seats to retain control of the House. Most of those seats already can be viewed as safe from changing hands. Aided by computers, state legislators for years have been improving their ability to gerrymander congressional districts for Republicans and Democrats alike. According to Congressional Quarterly, only about 40 of the 435 seats in the House are truly up for grabs, and the Senate appears even safer for the party.

In light of that assumption, the GOP would not need to win a majority of total votes cast in November, but merely retain sufficient control of its own support base to win 50.1 percent of the vote in the 218 districts.

The effectiveness of gerrymandering is a critical pillar in this year's GOP strategy, and one that has been long in the making. As a result of GOP victories at the state legislature level during the 1980s and 1990s, Republicans have been able to redraw political maps to their advantage in Congress. One of the most important, but frequently overlooked, tenets of gerrymandering holds that all of the minority party's supporters should be consolidated in as few districts as possible. This means that the opposition party will firmly control the seats for those congressional districts, but it also does much to dilute that party's strength in the other districts. Thus, it is entirely possible that minority party candidates will win their seats with high margins (frequently 75 percent of the vote) while majority party candidates have slimmer showings (often around 60 percent) -- yet, crucially, will still outnumber their opponents in Congress.

The downside, of course, is that when the majority party faces serious problems, its candidates are still facing close (and consequently, tougher) election battles and are vulnerable in the event of a political tidal wave.

A Fractured GOP Base

For the past three months, the Republican Party has engaged in only half-hearted campaigning. This appears to have been intentional; there was little good news on important issues -- such as the war in Iraq or gasoline prices -- over which they could boast, and the party's liabilities, clearly visible in the president's low approval ratings, were numerous. There are few political strategies for dealing with a confluence of bad news of this sort -- lamenting over a "national malaise" has proved an unwise tactic in the past -- but also, in the middle of the summer preceding an election, would not be necessary. For Republican candidates, the less they said, the better.

The most significant problem the party faced was the fact that its core constituencies have grown disappointed and, increasingly, disaffected. The Republicans had not delivered on issues that were important to either the fiscal conservatives or social conservatives, such as deficit spending controls or abortion. To some degree, this was a natural and expected circumstance, since the true support bases of any political party tend to comprise idealistic activists who are not prepared for the compromise that inevitably comes after winning power in Washington. Republican voters, however, have reached an unusual pitch of frustration over the failure of party leaders (particularly the president) to address economic and financial issues and, crucially, with the conduct of the war in Iraq.

Thus, the party's primary challenge now is ensuring it retains the bulk of its traditional base in November.

The Strategy: Indirection and Timing

Its efforts to do so have required the GOP to remain patient. For example, candidates by and large have refrained from discussing hot-button issues, such as immigration and stem cell research, which appeal to the base but turn off the political middle. But the most intriguing aspect of the strategy is the apparent decision to let the media and Democrats openly discuss the odds of a Democratic takeover of Congress -- rather than mobilizing the GOP base through direct appeals, as would traditionally be the case. Republicans occasionally have mused about the possibility of a "Speaker Nancy Pelosi," but rather than directly setting up a "Speaker Pelosi" as bogeyman in July and August, GOP strategists appeared content to let Democrats and the media do the work instead. Republican voters would not require statements from the leadership to the effect that Pelosi is a liberal who is out of step with their values -- nor would going into attack mode, when the party's standing was already at a low ebb, aid the GOP.

By allowing the concept to take root in the minds of Republican voters as a very real possibility, party strategists apparently hope to force their supporters to think long and hard about what really is at stake in the congressional election, rather than focusing on the president.

Two keys to this effort are timing and momentum.

Journalists like to present elections as horse races, continually analyzing who is ahead today and why they are ahead. Political strategists, however, view elections with a very different concept of time. Some have compared elections to wave action: Each campaign has its ups and downs, but the key to victory is peaking at the right time. Certainly, if a candidate can always be ahead of (or above) his opponent, that's a good thing, but the key is to be at the height of popularity come Election Day.

Momentum also is crucial. Building momentum in July, months ahead of the vote, would be meaningless -- unless a candidate entered the race at such a disadvantage that he or she needs the whole period merely to emerge as competitive by November. Momentum becomes much more important around mid-September, and emerges as critical in October. Candidates build momentum with the expectation that it will wane, and in hopes of peaking at the right moment. Sen. John Kerry was a good example of this: He won the 2004 Iowa primary, despite having placed anywhere between third and fifth in polls building up to that vote. He crested at the right moment in the primaries and then rode the momentum as the most "electable" Democrat.

Notably, candidates who emerge as front-runners early in a campaign often grow troubled as elections approach. The time they spend out in front brings intense scrutiny from the media and speculation about actions they will take once in office. The Republicans ceded the summer to the Democrats, and the media obligingly began to scrutinize the party and its leaders. Ultimately, however, a media debate in August about Rep. John Murtha's possible role in the next congressional leadership does Democrats no favors.

The Strategy in Operation

A month ago, the GOP was in the difficult position of needing to win back the support of key constituencies -- and of having to do so without appealing directly to the most idealistic party members on their own terms (which tends to alienate more moderate members and swing voters). The party's gains in polls after Labor Day weekend support the idea that at least some of the Republican base is intact, and suggest that the strategy of indirection has succeeded to some degree. For example, the president's approval rating has climbed from the mid-30 percent range, as of two months ago, to 38 percent three weeks ago, to a mediocre (but not moribund) 42 percent on Sept. 11, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.

However, as Bush's recent speeches have signaled, the time for inaction has passed and the time for building momentum has come. The next phase of the Republican strategy will require more direct methods of shoring up the support base -- and none more critical than the national-security conservatives, who have felt the war in Iraq particularly hard (and who are being actively courted by Democrats, with the homeland security aspect of that party's campaign).

Bush's recent announcement that captured al Qaeda figures have been moved to Guantanamo Bay to await trial was designed to appeal to the national security Republicans, as was his Sept. 11 speech about the link between Iraq and the larger war against al Qaeda.

Though "national-security conservatives" traditionally could be defined as current and former members of the military and their families, it has taken on a much wider meaning since the 9/11 attacks, as more Americans have come to view politics through the single lens of al Qaeda and the terrorist threat. Current and former military members are not as likely as these others to be moved by the administration's acknowledgement, and cancellation, of secret CIA prisons.

Whoever might be swayed by it, the administration's effort seems designed to take the focus off the "war against terrorism" -- now linked in the public mind to news photos of exploded ordnance and burned-out markets in Baghdad -- and recenter it squarely on the "terrorists" against whom the war is being waged. From the GOP's standpoint, the ideal outcome would be to return the country, which has been badly fractured by the conduct of the war, to the unity that was apparent soon after the 9/11 attacks. It also sets the stage for coming congressional debates over the efficacy of controversial techniques, such as wiretapping and financial surveillance, that have been used in the war against al Qaeda and could help to frame these discussions to the party's advantage.

Looking Ahead

It is clear that the Republicans have embarked upon a highly indirect election strategy, which -- given the unpopularity of Bush, the war in Iraq and emerging, though still nebulous, concerns about the economy -- might be the national party's best bet. If enough of the GOP's traditional support base can be mobilized in November, the Republicans can hold the House.

Nevertheless, there remains a possibility that this strategy does not address -- and which it could not withstand, should it emerge as a reality: the possibility that the Democratic wave, which expanded from a ripple in May to the heights seen in August, was really the initial swell in what will become a tidal wave of general opposition to the president. If the public's distrust and dislike of Bush and his administration should spill over to congressional candidates -- making the mid-terms a referendum on Bush and Iraq -- the tsunami would wash out the significance of any polling (which so far has focused on a "ferocious 40" districts as being seriously in contention) and overwhelm the abilities of party strategists to cope.
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totomoto
post Sep 15 2006, 05:04 PM
Post #287


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


Oh, we nuked them till they glowed,
and turned their countries into glass,
and looked in everybody's home for
every Islamofascists ass,
turned every island and atoll,
into little Gitmos,
and then said God, Freedom and
Democracy had won.

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venetia
post Sep 12 2006, 12:26 AM
Post #288


Hardcore BUSTie
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Posts: 456
From: Aotearoa (aka New Zealand)



Meanwhile here's what's happening in my part of the world lately:

Eccentric bachelor to rule Tonga
12 September 2006
By MICHAEL FIELD

Tonga's Crown Prince Tupouto'a, the poverty stricken nation's new king, is an eccentric bachelor who collects toy soldiers, studied at an exclusive British military academy and has a penchant for wearing self-awarded medals.
The new king, 58, was sworn in yesterday in the capital, Nuku'alofa, by Wellington lawyer Anthony Ford, who himself had been sworn in as Tonga's chief justice only hours earlier.
The ascension follows the death of the 88-year-old King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, whose 41-year reign ended with his death at an Auckland hospital late on Sunday night, surrounded by members of the royal family.
The New Zealand air force will fly his body home to Tonga tomorrow ahead of a state funeral, followed by a month of mourning.
Meanwhile, the new king, whose coronation is expected to be held next year, assumes the monarch's powers immediately.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Government had extended its condolences.
"His death will be a cause of great sorrow in Tonga."
Clark said she would pay her respects at the royal residence in Auckland today.

King Tupouto'a has a colourful past and a love-hate relationship with his new subjects.
He has previously said Tongans are squatters who "left to their own devices they would urinate in the elevators. As it is, they see nothing wrong with allowing their pigs to run all over their townships leaving pig droppings everywhere."
He was educated at Sydney's Newington College and at Britain's exclusive Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.

FULL TEXT


Crocodile Hunter gets private funeral

10 September 2006

SYDNEY: A private funeral service was held for Steve Irwin on Saturday and he will be buried at his family's zoo in the northern state of Queensland, local media reported.
Irwin's father, Bob Irwin, had declined a government offer for a state funeral for his son.
Irwin, known as the Crocodile Hunter after his popular TV documentaries which aired around the world, was killed six days ago by a stingray barb to the chest while diving on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

FULL TEXT

Clark admits wanting to Taser Mallard
12 September 2006

Labour hardman Trevor Mallard could be in for a rude shock if he steps out of line in Parliament this week, with Prime Minister Helen Clark admitting she would like to Taser him.
Last week, Mr Mallard, on the attack after months of bitter debate over the Taito Phillip Field and election spending affairs, threatened to dish the dirt on National MPs' personal lives.
National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee said his MPs would retaliate in kind, a policy akin to the cold war threat of mutual self-destruction.

FULL TEXT
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totomoto
post Sep 11 2006, 09:50 PM
Post #289


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


QUOTE(venetia @ Sep 8 2006, 03:11 AM) *

Awww, the US was played by the US. As my late Grandmother would say, "if Iran told you to jump off a cliff would you do it."
---------------------------------
It would be nice to get an adult response.
----------------------------------------

Good to see you too Toto. How's life?




Contact John Mauldin
Print Version

Volume 2 - Special Edition
September 7, 2006



Iraq: The Policy Dilemma
By George Friedman


Today I am sending out a Special Edition of Outside the Box. My good friend George Friedman, the President of Stratfor.com, has posted a very insightful essay on the dilemma facing the U.S. on the situation in Iraq. Contrary to many of the conflicting assessments by politically motivated pundits, each with their own agendas, that are put forth as "analysis," Stratfor provides reality based in-depth and logical analysis. Again, if you are in the business of managing money (someone else's or your own) where an eye to what is happening in the world is critical, or you are a student of geo-politics, or both, I strongly suggest that you stay up-to-date on the geopolitical landscape as it can have broad implications for both investment and political decision making.

As I have said in the past, Stratfor is my main and favorite source for geo-political news and analysis. They have often been referred to in the mainstream press as a 'private CIA,' but I would say in Stratfor's defense that they seem to be more right than their government counterpart.

A subscription to Stratfor is well worth the money as George tells me that the renewal rates are close to 90%, which demonstrates how valuable their readers regard the information that they receive on a daily basis. While this essay is on Iraq, they also cover the rest of the world, and you can get information on whatever part of the world you are interested in on their website.

Once again I talked George into dropping his subscription price to half. Click here to find out more and to signup. And I would say I hope you enjoy the essay, but what George suggests the new reality of Iraq to be is not actually fun reading. Iraq may be on its way to becoming a real problem with no easy answers from a US perspective.

John Mauldin, Editor





Iraq: The Policy Dilemma
By George Friedman


U.S. President George W. Bush now has made it clear what his policy on Iraq will be for the immediate future, certainly until Election Day: He does not intend to change U.S. policy in any fundamental way. U.S. troops will continue to be deployed in Iraq, they will continue to carry out counterinsurgency operations, and they will continue to train Iraqi troops to eventually take over the operations. It is difficult to imagine that Bush believes there will be any military solution to the situation in Iraq; therefore, we must try to understand his reasoning in maintaining this position. Certainly, it is not simply a political decision. Opinion in the United States has turned against the war, and drawing down U.S. forces and abandoning combat operations would appear to be the politically expedient move. Thus, if it is not politics driving him -- and assuming that the more lurid theories on the Internet concerning Bush's motivations are as silly as they appear -- then we have to figure out what he is doing.

Let's consider the military situation first. Bush has said that there is no civil war in Iraq. This is in large measure a semantic debate. In our view, it would be inaccurate to call what is going on a "civil war" simply because that term implies a degree of coherence that simply does not exist. Calling it a free-for-all would be more accurate. It is not simply a conflict of Shi'i versus Sunni. The Sunnis and Shia are fighting each other, and all of them are fighting American forces. It is not altogether clear what the Americans are supposed to be doing.

Counterinsurgency is unlike other warfare. In other warfare, the goal is to defeat an enemy army, and civilian casualties as a result of military operations are expected and acceptable. With counterinsurgency operations in populated areas, however, the goal is to distinguish the insurgents from civilians and destroy them, with minimal civilian casualties. Counterinsurgency in populated areas is more akin to police operations than to military operations; U.S. troops are simultaneously engaging an enemy force while trying to protect the population from both that force and U.S. operations. Add to this the fact that the population is frequently friendly to the insurgents and hostile to the Americans, and the difficulty of the undertaking becomes clear.

Consider the following numbers. The New York Police Department (excluding transit and park police) counts one policeman for every 216 residents. In Iraq, there is one U.S. soldier (not counting other coalition troops) per about 185 people. Thus, numerically speaking, U.S. forces are in a mildly better position than New York City cops -- but then, except for occasional Saturday nights, New York cops are not facing anything like the U.S. military is facing in Iraq. Given that the United States is facing not one enemy but a series of enemy organizations -- many fighting each other as well as the Americans -- and that the American goal is to defeat these while defending the populace, it is obvious even from these very simplistic numbers that the U.S. force simply isn't there to impose a settlement.

Expectations and a Deal Unwound

A military solution to the U.S. dilemma has not been in the cards for several years. The purpose of military operations was to set the stage for political negotiations. But the Americans had entered Iraq with certain expectations. For one thing, they had believed they would simply be embraced by Iraq's Shiite population. They also had expected the Sunnis to submit to what appeared to be overwhelming political force. What happened was very different. First, the Shia welcomed the fall of Saddam Hussein, but they hardly embraced the Americans -- they sought instead to translate the U.S. victory over Hussein into a Shiite government. Second, the Sunnis, in view of the U.S.-Shiite coalition and the dismemberment of the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Army, saw that they were about to be squeezed out of the political system and potentially crushed by the Shia. They saw an insurgency -- which had been planned by Hussein -- as their only hope of forcing a redefinition of Iraqi politics. The Americans realized that their expectations had not been realistic.

Thus, the Americans went through a series of political cycles. First, they sided with the Shia as they sought to find their balance militarily facing the Sunnis. When they felt they had traction against the Sunnis, following the capture of Hussein -- and fearing Shiite hegemony -- they shifted toward a position between Sunnis and Shia. As military operations were waged in the background, complex repositioning occurred on all sides, with the Americans trying to hold the swing position between Sunnis and Shia.

The process of creating a government for Iraq was encapsulated in this multi-sided maneuvering. By spring 2006, the Sunnis appeared to have committed themselves to the political process. And in June, with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the announcement that the United States would reduce its force in Iraq by two brigades, the stage seemed to be set for a political resolution that would create a Shiite-dominated coalition that included Sunnis and Kurds. It appeared to be a done deal -- and then the deal completely collapsed.

The first sign of the collapse was a sudden outbreak of fighting among Shia in the Basra region. We assumed that this was political positioning among Shiite factions as they prepared for a political settlement. Then Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), traveled to Tehran, and Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army commenced an offensive. Shiite death squads struck out at Sunni populations, and Sunni insurgents struck back. From nearly having a political accommodation, the situation in Iraq fell completely apart.

The key was Iran. The Iranians had always wanted an Iraqi satellite state, as protection against another Iraq-Iran war. That was a basic national security concept for them. In order to have this, the Iranians needed an overwhelmingly Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, and to have overwhelming control of the Shia. It seemed to us that there could be a Shiite-dominated government but not an overwhelmingly Shiite government. In other words, Iraq could be neutral toward, but not a satellite of, Iran. In our view, Iraq's leading Shia -- fearing a civil war and also being wary of domination by Iran -- would accept this settlement.

We may have been correct on the sentiment of leading Shia, but we were wrong about Iran's intentions. Tehran did not see a neutral Iraq as being either in Iran's interests or necessary. Clearly, the Iranians did not trust a neutral Iraq still under American occupation to remain neutral. Second -- and this is the most important -- they saw the Americans as militarily weak and incapable of either containing a civil war in Iraq or of taking significant military action against Iran. In other words, the Iranians didn't like the deal they had been offered, they felt that they could do better, and they felt that the time had come to strike.

A Two-Pronged Offensive

When we look back through Iranian eyes, we can now see what they saw: a golden opportunity to deal the United States a blow, redefine the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf and reposition the Shia in the Muslim world. Iran had, for example, been revivifying Hezbollah in Lebanon for several months. We had seen this as a routine response to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. It is now apparent, however, that it was part of a two-pronged offensive.

First, in Iraq, the Iranians encouraged a variety of factions to both resist the newly formed government and to strike out against the Sunnis. This created an uncontainable cycle of violence that rendered the Iraqi government impotent and the Americans irrelevant. The tempo of operations was now in the hands of those Shiite groups among which the Iranians had extensive influence -- and this included some of the leading Shiite parties, such as SCIRI.

Second, in Lebanon, Iran encouraged Hezbollah to launch an offensive. There is debate over whether the Israelis or Hezbollah ignited the conflict in Lebanon. Part of this is ideological gibberish, but part of it concerns intention. It is clear that Hezbollah was fully deployed for combat. Its positions were manned in the south, and its rockets were ready. The capture of two Israeli soldiers was intended to trigger Israeli airstrikes, which were as predictable as sunrise, and Hezbollah was ready to fire on Haifa. Once Haifa was hit, Israel floundered in trying to deploy troops (the Golani and Givati brigades were in the south, near Gaza). This would not have been the case if the Israelis had planned for war with Hezbollah. Now, this discussion has nothing to do with who to blame for what. It has everything to do with the fact that Hezbollah was ready to fight, triggered the fight, and came out ahead because it wasn't defeated.

The end result is that, suddenly, the Iranians held the whip hand in Iraq, had dealt Israel a psychological blow, had repositioned themselves in the Muslim world and had generally redefined the dynamics of the region. Moreover, they had moved to the threshold of redefining the geopolitics to the Persian Gulf.

This was by far their most important achievement.

A New Look at the Region

At this point, except for the United States, Iran has by far the most powerful military force in the Persian Gulf. This has nothing to do with its nuclear capability, which is still years away from realization. Its ground forces are simply more numerous and more capable than all the forces of the Arabian Peninsula combined. There is another aspect to this: The countries of the Arabian Peninsula are governed by Sunnis, but many are home to substantial Shiite populations as well. Between the Iranian military and the possibility of unrest among Shia in the region, the situation in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Peninsula is uneasy, to say the least. The rise of Hezbollah well might psychologically empower the generally quiescent Shia to become more assertive. This is one of the reasons that the Saudis were so angry at Hezbollah, and why they now are so anxious over events in Iraq.

If Iraq were to break into three regions, the southern region would be Shiite -- and the Iranians clearly believe that they could dominate southern Iraq. This not only would give them control of the Basra oil fields, but also would theoretically open the road to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. From a strictly military point of view, and not including the Shiite insurgencies at all, Iran could move far down the western littoral of the Persian Gulf if American forces were absent. Put another way, there would be a possibility that the Iranians could seize control of the bulk of the region's oil reserves. They could do the same thing if Iraq were to be united as an Iranian satellite, but that would be far more difficult to achieve and would require active U.S. cooperation in withdrawing.

We can now see why Bush cannot begin withdrawing forces. If he did that, the entire region would destabilize. The countries of the Arabian Peninsula, seeing the withdrawal, would realize that the Iranians were now the dominant power. Shia in the Gulf region might act, or they might simply wait until the Americans had withdrawn and the Iranians arrived. Israel, shaken to the core by its fight with Hezbollah, would have neither the force nor the inclination to act. Therefore, the United States has little choice, from Bush's perspective, but to remain in Iraq.

The Iranians undoubtedly anticipated this response. They have planned carefully. They are therefore shifting their rhetoric somewhat to be more accommodating. They understand that to get the United States out of Iraq -- and out of Kuwait --they will have to engage in a complex set of negotiations. They will promise anything -- but in the end, they will be the largest military force in the region, and nothing else matters. Ultimately, they are counting on the Americans to be sufficiently exhausted by their experience of Iraq to rationalize their withdrawal -- leaving, as in Vietnam, a graceful interval for what follows.

Options

Iran will do everything it can, of course, to assure that the Americans are as exhausted as possible. The Iranians have no incentive to allow the chaos to wind down, until at least a political settlement with the United States is achieved. The United States cannot permit Iranian hegemony over the Persian Gulf, nor can it sustain its forces in Iraq indefinitely under these circumstances.

The United States has four choices, apart from the status quo:

1. Reach a political accommodation that cedes the status of regional hegemon to Iran, and withdraw from Iraq.

2. Withdraw forces from Iraq and maintain a presence in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -- something the Saudis would hate but would have little choice about -- while remembering that an American military presence is highly offensive to many Muslims and was a significant factor in the rise of al Qaeda.

3. Halt counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and redeploy its forces in the south (west of Kuwait), to block any Iranian moves in the region.

4. Assume that Iran relies solely on its psychological pre-eminence to force a regional realignment and, thus, use Sunni proxies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in attempts to outmaneuver Tehran.

None of these are attractive choices. Each cedes much of Iraq to Shiite and Iranian power and represents some degree of a psychological defeat for the United States, or else rests on a risky assumption. While No. 3 might be the most attractive, it would leave U.S. forces in highly exposed, dangerous and difficult-to-sustain postures.

Iran has set a clever trap, and the United States has walked into it. Rather than a functioning government in Iraq, it has chaos and a triumphant Shiite community. The Americans cannot contain the chaos, and they cannot simply withdraw. Therefore, we can understand why Bush insists on holding his position indefinitely. He has been maneuvered in such a manner that he -- or a successor -- has no real alternatives.

There is one counter to this: a massive American buildup, including a major buildup of ground forces that requires a large expansion of the Army, geared for the invasion of Iran and destruction of its military force. The idea that this could readily be done through air power has evaporated, we would think, with the Israeli air force's failure in Lebanon. An invasion of Iran would be enormously expensive, take a very long time and create a problem of occupation that would dwarf the problem faced in Iraq. But it is the other option. It would stabilize the geopolitics of the Arabian Peninsula and drain American military power for a generation.

Sometimes there are no good choices. For the United States, the options are to negotiate a settlement that is acceptable to Iran and live with the consequences, raise a massive army and invade Iran, or live in the current twilight world between Iranian hegemony and war with Iran. Bush appears to be choosing an indecisive twilight. Given the options, it is understandable why.





You can send questions or comments on this article to analysis@stratfor.com and or to me (John) and I will forward them on. And to subscribe for 50% off you can click on this link.

Your not liking this picture analyst,


John F. Mauldin
johnmauldin@investorsinsight.com




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John Mauldin is president of Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor. All material presented herein is believed to be reliable but we cannot attest to its accuracy. Investment recommendations may change and readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions.

Opinions expressed in these reports may change without prior notice. John Mauldin and/or the staffs at Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC and InvestorsInsight Publishing, Inc. ("InvestorsInsight") may or may not have investments in any funds, programs or companies cited above.

PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN MANAGED FUNDS. WHEN CONSIDERING ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.

Communications from InvestorsInsight are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made by various authors, advertisers, sponsors and other contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of InvestorsInsight, and should not be construed as an endorsement by InvestorsInsight, either expressed or implied. InvestorsInsight is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided "AS IS" without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.

We encourage readers to review our complete legal and privacy statements on our home page.

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venetia
post Sep 7 2006, 08:54 PM
Post #290


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 456
From: Aotearoa (aka New Zealand)


Awww, the US was played by the US. As my late Grandmother would say, "if Iran told you to jump off a cliff would you do it."

Good to see you too Toto. How's life?
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totomoto
post Sep 7 2006, 06:03 PM
Post #291


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


QUOTE(venetia @ Sep 2 2006, 07:53 AM) *

I didn't understand that, but I don't want this thread to die!


Stratfor reports that it appears the US was played by Iran. Iran provided false intelligence which helped cause the invasion of Iraq. (Remember Chilabi?) Now the gambit to unify Iraq appears to have failed, with the Shia rejection of an overture put together by the US and the Sunni, and increase in Civil War.

Iran supports Hizbela, and has great influence on the Shia in Iraq. We are in a position where Iran can cause any attempt to unify Iraq to fail, and apparently has already done so.


Good to hear form you Venetia. biggrin.gif cool.gif
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venetia
post Sep 2 2006, 01:36 AM
Post #292


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 456
From: Aotearoa (aka New Zealand)


I didn't understand that, but I don't want this thread to die!
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totomoto
post Aug 10 2006, 11:19 PM
Post #293


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal



Contact John Mauldin
Print Version

Volume 2 - Special Edition
August 10, 2006



Breakpoint in Iraq:
What went Wrong
By George Friedman


Today I am sending out a Special Edition of Outside the Box. My good friend George Friedman at Stratfor.com has posted a very powerful essay on the new situation in Iraq. I must warn you, it is disturbing for those who, like myself, want a positive and peaceful outcome in Iraq. But since our thinking and investing should reflect reality and not wishful thinking, I suggest you take the time to read this piece.

As I have said in the past, Stratfor is my main and favorite source for geo-political news and analysis. They have often been referred to in the mainstream press as a 'private CIA,' but I would say in Stratfor's defense that they seem to be more right than their government counterpart.

Again, if you are in the business of managing money where an eye to what is happening in the world is critical, or you are a student of geo-politics, or both, I strongly suggest you get your own subscription to Stratfor. George tells me that the renewal rates are close to 90%, which demonstrates how valuable their readers regard the information that they receive on a daily basis. While this essay is on Iraq, they also cover the rest of the world, and you can get information on whatever part of the world you are interested in on their website.

Once again I talked George into dropping his subscription price to half. Click here to find out more and to signup. And I would say I hope you enjoy the essay, but what George suggests is that reality is not actually fun reading. Iraq may be on its way to becoming a real problem with no good answers from a US perspective.

John Mauldin, Editor





Breakpoint: What went Wrong
By George Friedman


On May 23, we published a Geopolitical Intelligence Report titled "Break Point." In that article, we wrote: "It is now nearly Memorial Day. The violence in Iraq will surge, but by July 4 there either will be clear signs that the Sunnis are controlling the insurgency -- or there won't. If they are controlling the insurgency, the United States will begin withdrawing troops in earnest. If they are not controlling the insurgency, the United States will begin withdrawing troops in earnest. Regardless of whether the [political settlement] holds, the U.S. war in Iraq is going to end: U.S. troops either will not be needed, or will not be useful. Thus, we are at a break point -- at least for the Americans."

In our view, the fundamental question was whether the Sunnis would buy into the political process in Iraq. We expected a sign, and we got it in June, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed -- in our view, through intelligence provided by the Sunni leadership. The same night al-Zarqawi was killed, the Iraqis announced the completion of the Cabinet: As part of a deal that finalized the three security positions (defense, interior and national security), the defense ministry went to a Sunni. The United States followed that move by announcing a drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq, starting with two brigades. All that was needed was a similar signal of buy-in from the Shia -- meaning they would place controls on the Shiite militias that were attacking Sunnis. The break point seemed very much to favor a political resolution in Iraq.

It never happened. The Shia, instead of reciprocating the Sunni and American gestures, went into a deep internal crisis. Shiite groups in Basra battled over oil fields. They fought in Baghdad. We expected that the mainstream militias under the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) would gain control of the dissidents and then turn to political deal-making. Instead, the internal Shiite struggle resolved itself in a way we did not expect: Rather than reciprocating with a meaningful political gesture, the Shia intensified their attacks on the Sunnis. The Sunnis, clearly expecting this phase to end, held back -- and then cut loose with their own retaliations. The result was, rather than a political settlement, civil war. The break point had broken away from a resolution.

Part of the explanation is undoubtedly to be found in Iraq itself. The prospect of a centralized government, even if dominated by the majority Shia, does not seem to have been as attractive to Iraqi Shia as absolute regional control, which would guarantee them all of the revenues from the southern oil fields, rather than just most. That is why SCIRI leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim has been pushing for the creation of a federal zone in the south, similar to that established for the Kurdistan region in the north. The growing closeness between the United States and some Sunnis undoubtedly left the Shia feeling uneasy. The Sunnis may have made a down payment by delivering up al-Zarqawi, but it was far from clear that they would be in a position to make further payments. The Shia reciprocated partially by offering an amnesty for militants, but they also linked the dissolution of sectarian militias to the future role of Baathists in the government, which they seek to prevent. Clearly, there were factions within the Shiite community that were pulling in different directions.

But there was also another factor that appears to have been more decisive: Iran. It is apparent that Iran not only made a decision not to support a political settlement in Iraq, but a broader decision to support Hezbollah in its war with Israel. In a larger sense, Iran decided to simultaneously confront the United States and its ally Israel on multiple fronts -- and to use that as a means of challenging Sunnis and, particularly, Sunni Arab states.

The Iranian Logic

This is actually a significant shift in Iran's national strategy. Iran had been relatively cooperative with the United States between 2001 and 2004 -- supporting the United States in Afghanistan in a variety of ways and encouraging Washington to depose Saddam Hussein. This relationship was not without tensions during those years, but it was far from confrontational. Similarly, Iran had always had tensions with the Sunni world, but until last year or so, as we can see in Iraq, these had not been venomous.

Two key things have to be borne in mind to begin to understand this shift. First, until the emergence of al Qaeda, the Islamic Republic of Iran had seen itself -- and had been seen by others -- as being the vanguard of the Islamist renaissance. It was Iran that had confronted the United States, and it was Iran's creation, Hezbollah, that had pioneered suicide bombings, hostage-takings and the like in Lebanon and around the world. But on Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda -- a Sunni group -- had surged ahead of Iran as the embodiment of radical Islam. Indeed, it had left Iran in the role of appearing to be a collaborator with the United States. Iran had no use for al Qaeda but did not want to surrender its position to the Sunni entity.

The second factor that must be considered is Iran's goal in Iraq. The Iranians, who hated Hussein as a result of the eight-year war and dearly wanted him destroyed, had supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And they had helped the United States with intelligence prior to the war. Indeed, it could be argued that Iran had provided exactly the intelligence that would provoke the U.S. attack in a way most advantageous to Iran -- by indicating that the occupation of Iraq would not be as difficult as might be imagined, particularly if the United States destroyed the Baath Party and all of its institutions. U.S. leaders were hearing what they wanted to hear anyway, but Iran made certain they heard this much more clearly.

Iran had a simple goal: to dominate a post-war Iraq. Iran's Shiite allies in Iraq comprised the majority, the Shia had not resisted the American invasion and the Iranians had provided appropriate support. Therefore, they expected that they would inherit Iraq -- at least in the sense that it would fall into Tehran's sphere of influence. For their part, the Americans thought they could impose a regime in Iraq regardless of Iran's wishes, and they had no desire to create an Iranian surrogate in Baghdad. Therefore, though they may have encouraged Iranian beliefs, the goal of the Americans was to create a coalition government that would include all factions. The Shia could be the dominant group, but they would not hold absolute power -- and, indeed, the United States manipulated Iraqi Shia to split them further.

We had believed that the Iranians would, in the end, accept a neutral Iraq with a coalition government that guaranteed Iran's interests. There is a chance that this might be true in the end, but the Iranians clearly decided to force a final confrontation with the United States. Tehran used its influence among some Iraqi groups to reject the Sunni overture symbolized in al-Zarqawi's death and to instead press forward with attacks against the Sunni community. It goes beyond this, inasmuch as Iran also has been forging closer ties with some Sunni groups, who are responding to Iranian money and a sense of the inevitability of Iran's ascent in the region.

Iran could have had two thoughts on its mind in pressing the sectarian offensive. The first was that the United States, lacking forces to contain a civil war, would be forced to withdraw, or at least to reduce its presence in populated areas, if a civil war broke out. This would leave the majority Shia in a position to impose their own government -- and, in fact, place pro-Iranian Shia, who had led the battle, in a dominant position among the Shiite community.

The second thought could have been that even if U.S. forces did not withdraw, Iran would be better off with a partitioned Iraq -- in which the various regions were at war with each other, or at least focused on each other, and incapable of posing a strategic threat to Iran. Moreover, if partition meant that Iran dominated the southern part of Iraq, then the strategic route to the western littoral of the Persian Gulf would be wide open, with no Arab army in a position to resist the Iranians. Their dream of dominating the Persian Gulf would still be in reach, while the security of their western border would be guaranteed. So, if U.S. forces did not withdraw from Iraq, Iran would still be able not only to impose a penalty on the Americans but also to pursue its own strategic interests.

This line of thinking also extends to pressures that Iran now is exerting against Saudi Arabia, which has again become a key ally of the United States. For example, a member of the Iranian Majlis recently called for Muslim states to enact political and economic sanctions against Saudi Arabia -- which has condemned Hezbollah's actions in the war against Israel. In the larger scheme, it was apparent to the Iranians that they could not achieve their goals in Iraq without directly challenging Saudi interests -- and that meant mounting a general challenge to Sunnis. A partial challenge would make no sense: It would create hostility and conflict without a conclusive outcome. Thus, the Iranians decided to broaden their challenge.

The Significance of Hezbollah

Hezbollah is a Shiite movement that was created by Iran out of its own needs for a Tehran-controlled, anti-Israel force. Hezbollah was extremely active through the 1980s and had exercised economic and political power in Lebanon in the 1990s, as a representative of Shiite interests. In this, Hezbollah had collaborated with Syria -- a predominantly Sunni country run by a minority Shiite sect, the Alawites -- as well as Iran. Iran and Syria are enormously different countries, with many different interests. Syria's interest was the domination and economic exploitation of Lebanon. But when the United States forced the Syrians out of Lebanon -- following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005 -- any interest Syria had in restraining Hezbollah disappeared. Meanwhile, as Iran shifted its strategy, its interest in reactivating Hezbollah -- which had been somewhat dormant in relation to Israel -- increased.

Hezbollah's interest in being reactivated in this way was less clear. Hezbollah's leaders had aged well: Violent and radical in the 1980s, they had become Lebanese businessmen in the 1990s. They became part of the establishment. But they still were who they were, and the younger generation of Hezbollah members was even more radical. Hezbollah militants had been operating in southern Lebanon for years and, however relatively restrained they might have been, they clearly had prepared for conventional war against the Israelis.

With the current conflict, Hezbollah now has achieved an important milestone: It has fought better and longer than any other Arab army against Israel. The Egyptians and Syrians launched brilliant attacks in 1973, but their forces were shattered before the war ended. Hezbollah has fought and clearly has not been shattered. Whether, in the end, it wins or loses, Hezbollah will have achieved a massive improvement of its standing in the Muslim world by slugging it out with Israel in a conventional war. If, at the end of this war, Hezbollah remains intact as a fighting force -- regardless of the outcome of the campaign in southern Lebanon -- its prestige will be enormous.

Within the region, this outcome would shift focus way from the Sunni Hamas or secular Fatah to the Shiite Hezbollah. If this happens simultaneously with the United States losing complete control of the situation in Iraq, the entire balance of power in the region would be perceived to have shifted away from the U.S.-Israeli coalition (the appearance is different from reality, but it is still far from trivial) -- and the leadership of the Islamist renaissance would have shifted away from the Sunnis to the Shia, at least in the Middle East.

Outcomes

It is not clear that the Iranians expected all of this to have gone quite as well as it has. In the early days of the war, when the Saudis and other Arabs were condemning Hezbollah and it appeared that Israel was going to launch one of its classic lightning campaigns in Lebanon, Tehran seemed to back away -- calling for a cease-fire and indicating it was prepared to negotiate on issues like uranium enrichment. Then international criticism shifted to Israel, and Israeli forces seemed bogged down. Iran's rhetoric shifted. Now the Saudis are back to condemning Hezbollah, and the Iranians appear more confident than ever. From their point of view, they have achieved substantial psychological success based on real military achievements. They have the United States on the defensive in Iraq, and the Israelis are having to fight hard to make any headway in Lebanon.

The Israelis have few options. They can continue to fight until they break Hezbollah -- a process that will be long and costly, but can be achieved. But they then risk Hezbollah shifting to guerrilla war unless their forces immediately withdraw from Lebanon. Alternatively, they can negotiate a cease-fire that inevitably would leave at least part of Hezbollah's forces intact, its prestige and power in Lebanon enhanced and Iran elevated as a power within the region and the Muslim world. Because the Israelis are not going anywhere, they have to choose from a limited menu.

The United States, on the other hand, is facing a situation in Iraq that has broken decisively against it. However hopeful the situation might have been the night al-Zarqawi died, the decision by Iran's allies in Iraq to pursue civil war rather than a coalition government has put the United States into a militarily untenable position. It does not have sufficient forces to prevent a civil war. It can undertake the defense of the Sunnis, but only at the cost of further polarization with the Shia. The United States' military options are severely limited, and therefore, withdrawal becomes even more difficult. The only possibility is a negotiated settlement -- and at this point, Iran doesn't need to negotiate. Unless Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shiite cleric in Iraq, firmly demands a truce, the sectarian fighting will continue -- and at the moment, it is not even clear that al-Sistani could get a truce if he wanted one.

While the United States was focused on the chimera of an Iranian nuclear bomb -- a possibility that, assuming everything we have heard is true, remains years away from becoming reality -- Iran has moved to redefine the region. At the very least, civil war in Lebanon (where Christians and Sunnis might resist Hezbollah) could match civil war in Iraq, with the Israelis and Americans trapped in undesirable roles.

The break point has come and gone. The United States now must make an enormously difficult decision. If it simply withdraws forces from Iraq, it leaves the Arabian Peninsula open to Iran and loses all psychological advantage it gained with the invasion of Iraq. If American forces stay in Iraq, it will be as a purely symbolic gesture, without any hope for imposing a solution. If this were 2004, the United States might have the stomach for a massive infusion of forces -- an attempt to force a favorable resolution. But this is 2006, and the moment for that has passed. The United States now has no good choices; its best bet was blown up by Iran. Going to war with Iran is not an option. In Lebanon, we have just seen the value of air campaigns pursued in isolation, and the United States does not have a force capable of occupying and pacifying Iran.

As sometimes happens, obvious conclusions must be drawn.





There is not much to add. Again, if you are interested in a subscription to Stratfor, just click here to signup.

Your wondering how it can turn around analyst,


John F. Mauldin
johnmauldin@investorsinsight.com




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Reproductions. If you would like to reproduce any of John Mauldin's E-Letters or commentary, you must include the source of your quote and the following email address: JohnMauldin@InvestorsInsight.com. Please write to Reproductions@InvestorsInsight.com and inform us of any reproductions including where and when the copy will be reproduced.

For advertising inquires please contact adsales@investorsinsight.com


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
John Mauldin is president of Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor. All material presented herein is believed to be reliable but we cannot attest to its accuracy. Investment recommendations may change and readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions.

Opinions expressed in these reports may change without prior notice. John Mauldin and/or the staffs at Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC and InvestorsInsight Publishing, Inc. ("InvestorsInsight") may or may not have investments in any funds, programs or companies cited above.

PAST RESULTS ARE NOT INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS. THERE IS RISK OF LOSS AS WELL AS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GAIN WHEN INVESTING IN MANAGED FUNDS. WHEN CONSIDERING ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS, INCLUDING HEDGE FUNDS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER VARIOUS RISKS INCLUDING THE FACT THAT SOME PRODUCTS: OFTEN ENGAGE IN LEVERAGING AND OTHER SPECULATIVE INVESTMENT PRACTICES THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF INVESTMENT LOSS, CAN BE ILLIQUID, ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE PERIODIC PRICING OR VALUATION INFORMATION TO INVESTORS, MAY INVOLVE COMPLEX TAX STRUCTURES AND DELAYS IN DISTRIBUTING IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION, ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE SAME REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS AS MUTUAL FUNDS, OFTEN CHARGE HIGH FEES, AND IN MANY CASES THE UNDERLYING INVESTMENTS ARE NOT TRANSPARENT AND ARE KNOWN ONLY TO THE INVESTMENT MANAGER.

Communications from InvestorsInsight are intended solely for informational purposes. Statements made by various authors, advertisers, sponsors and other contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of InvestorsInsight, and should not be construed as an endorsement by InvestorsInsight, either expressed or implied. InvestorsInsight is not responsible for typographic errors or other inaccuracies in the content. We believe the information contained herein to be accurate and reliable. However, errors may occasionally occur. Therefore, all information and materials are provided "AS IS" without any warranty of any kind. Past results are not indicative of future results.

We encourage readers to review our complete legal and privacy statements on our home page.

InvestorsInsight Publishing, Inc. -- 14900 Landmark Blvd #350, Dallas, Texas 75254

© InvestorsInsight Publishing, Inc. 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED





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totomoto
post Aug 9 2006, 05:11 PM
Post #294


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


Three contractors are bidding to fix the White House fence.

One from Florida, another from Kentucky, and the third from DC. They go with a White House official to examine the fence.

The Florida contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring,then works some figures with a pencil.

"Well," he says. "I figure the job will run about $9,000.: $4,000. for materials, $4,000. for my crew and $1,000. profit for me."

The Kentucky contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, "I can do this job for $7,000.: $3,000. for materials, $3,000. for my crew and $1,000. profit for me."

The DC contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers: "$27,000."

The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"

"Easy," the guy from DC explains, "$10,000. for you, $10,000. for me and we hire the guy from Kentucky."
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totomoto
post Aug 7 2006, 10:17 PM
Post #295


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


The Los Angeles Times issued a special report yesterday on recently declassified US Army investigations into atrocities by US servicemen during the Vietnam War.

The long and damning article, by Nick Turse and Deborah Nelson, can be found at this URL:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/a...6,0,92368.story

To summarize briefly, the US Army undertook many more investigations than were ever made public. Now they have decided to declassify these investigations. Brig. Gen. John H. Johns (ret), a Vietnam veteran who served on the task force, told the LA Times that he had once supported keeping the records secret, but he now believes that they deserve wide attention in light of alleged attacks on civilians and abuse of prisoners in Iraq.

He is quoted as saying, "We can't change current practices unless we acknowledge the past."

From the report:

Among the substantiated cases in the archive:

-- Seven massacres from 1967 through 1971 in which at least 137 civilians died.

-- Seventy-eight other attacks on noncombatants in which at least 57 were killed, 56 wounded and 15 sexually assaulted.

-- One hundred forty-one instances in which U.S. soldiers tortured civilian detainees or prisoners of war with fists, sticks, bats, water or electric shock.

As we have seen over and over again in interactions here on Political Asylum, in the absence of solid public investigations there are always some individuals who refuse to believe that our soldiers are ever guilty of committing atrocities. Worse, they accuse those who claim that atrocities do happen of treasonous behavior.

The LA Times quotes Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard (ret), who during the 1970s oversaw the investigatory task force while a brigadier general in the Pentagon, as saying, "We could have court-martialed them but didn't. The whole thing is very disturbing."

Very disturbing?

IMHO, this is much worse than merely disturbing. It proves that vital information on the conduct of US soldiers under extreme stress was withheld from the American voters. As a consequence, I believe, our political process has been significantly distorted for forty years. Those who argue that the nation must not become embroiled in counter-insurgency operations were deprived of crucial information that could have been used in multiple decisions on whether to go to war.

Let us never forget who is sovereign in this country: it is the voting citizens, not the government. When anyone deprives the sovereign of critical information necessary to decide between war and peace, very bad decisions are the result.

Loren


My friend Loren cobb ia a Quaker and an atheist. cool.gif

Totomoto

Thanks ginger!
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ginger_kitty
post Aug 6 2006, 03:16 PM
Post #296


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 1,237


Those are great!!!


--------------------
-We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different.

-What we think, we become.
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totomoto
post Aug 5 2006, 11:04 PM
Post #297


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal


Subject: Bumper Stickers - redoux Date: 8/5/06 9:42 AM

Recommendations: 19

BLIND FAITH IN BAD LEADERSHIP IS NOT PATRIOTISM


IF YOU'RE NOT OUTRAGED, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION


IF YOU SUPPORTED BUSH, A YELLOW RIBBON WON'T MAKE UP FOR IT


POVERTY, HEALTH CARE & HOMELESSNESS ARE MORAL ISSUES


OF COURSE IT HURTS. YOU'RE GETTING SCREWED BY AN ELEPHANT


BUSH LIED, AND YOU KNOW IT


RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM: A THREAT ABROAD, A THREAT AT HOMe



BUSH SPENT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY ON HIS WAR


PRO AMERICA, ANTI BUSH


WHO WOULD JESUS BOMB?


IF YOU SUPPORT BUSH'S WAR, WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? SHUT UP AND SHIP OUT


FEEL SAFER NOW?


I'D RATHER HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO SCREWED HIS INTERN THAN ONE WHO SCREWED
HIS COUNTRY


JESUS WAS A SOCIAL ACTIVIST - THAT IS A LIBERAL


MY VALUES? FREE SPEECH. EQUALITY. LIBERTY. EDUCATION. TOLERANCE


IS IT 2008 YET?


DISSENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF PATRIOTISM -- Thomas Jefferson


DON'T BLAME ME. I VOTED AGAINST BUSH -- TWICE!


ANNOY A CONSERVATIVE; THINK FOR YOURSELF


VISUALIZE IMPEACHMENT


HEY BUSH! WHERE'S BIN LADEN?


CORPORATE MEDIA = MASS MIND CONTROL


STOP MAD COWBOY DISEASE


GEORGE W. BUSH: MAKING TERRORISTS FASTER THAN HE CAN KILL THEM


KEEP YOUR THEOCRACY OFF MY DEMOCRACY


DEMOCRATS ARE SEXY. WHOEVER HEARD OF A GOOD PIECE OF ELEPHANT?


ASPIRING CANADIAN


CORPORATE MEDIA: WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION


DON'T CONFUSE DYING FOR OIL WITH FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM


STEM CELL RESEARCH IS PRO LIFE


HATE, GREED, IGNORANCE: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION


HONOR OUR TROOPS; DEMAND THE TRUTH


REBUILD IRAQ? WHY NOT SPEND 87 BILLION ON AMERICA?


FACT: BUSH OIL
1999 - $19 BARREL
2006 - $70 BARREL


THE LAST TIME RELIGION CONTROLLED POLITICS, PEOPLE GOT BURNED AT THE
STAKE


I'LL GIVE UP MY CHOICE WHEN JOHN ROBERTS GETS PREGNANT


SUPPORT OUR TROOPS; IMPEACH BUSH
=


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tesao
post Jul 28 2006, 05:03 AM
Post #298


olha, que coisa mais linda.....
***
Posts: 1,361
From: somewhere south....VERY south


muito thank you toto!

that was hilarious!

especially the french version!!! hahahahahah! laugh.gif
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totomoto
post Jul 27 2006, 07:24 PM
Post #299


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 212
From: SoCal



Anarch!! biggrin.gif And I will email you Tes!

And here is a humble offereing:


Everyone who knows anything about the World Cup incident involving Zinedine Zidane should find this funny. The rest of you can interpret this as a rough guide about how the media from different countries cover the same event. Well, it's funny to me anyway.....

German view :
http://img2.imagepile.net/img2/76103german.gif

French view :
http://img2.imagepile.net/img2/63777french.gif

Italian view :
http://img2.imagepile.net/img2/69461italian.gif

USA view :
http://img2.imagepile.net/img2/88533usa.gif

Hollywood view :
http://img2.imagepile.net/img2/1612holliwood.gif

Cheers, PB

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anarch
post Jul 24 2006, 09:12 AM
Post #300


Hardcore BUSTie
***
Posts: 873


Joke I picked up while I was on vacation:

Two nuns are riding down a cobblestone street in Rome.

One nun says to the other nun, "I've never come this way before!"

Second nun says, "Hmmm..."









"Maybe it's the cobblestones." biggrin.gif
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