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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why Is Coal Ok in Africa?

President Obama pledged 7 billion dollars in Africa to help upgrade the power plants in Sub-Saharan areas. Meanwhile, at home he is issuing executive orders which will shut down coal fired plants.  If the African expenditure was limited to non coal fired plants, it might at least be understandable--but it is not.  So we have a president who seems to think that electricity from coal makes sense in Africa but not in America.  I wonder if he even realizes the conflict.

What a jerk.

Nelson Mandela and President Obama

The New York Times has a big headline today about how the poor condition of Nelson Mandela has made a meeting between Mandela and president Obama impossible.  According to the Times, the two men are each major international symbols.

Sadly, the Times has once again gotten it wrong.  Nelson Mandela is a hero because of what he accomplished during his lifetime.  He changed the course of the history of South Africa in incredible ways.  Mandela's race factors into his achievements but they are not the cause of his accomplishments.  Obama, on the other hand, is notable as the first black American president.  For Obama, it is race that makes him him notable.  He has been a mediocre president with little in the way of actual accomplishments.  Nothing about Obama in particular other than his race makes him worthy of being remembered by history.  Mandela is famous for what he did, while Obama has fame for who he is.  It is an important distinction.

An Irish Update

A few days ago, I said that I would report on the reactions of the Irish to the recent visit by president Obama when I was closer to where the president actually attended the G-8 meeting.  I had the chance to check in about the visit in Killybegs and Beleek which are very close to the meeting place.  (Beleek is actually in Northern Ireland and is part of the UK although it is only about ten miles from Killybegs in the Republic of Ireland.)

Once again, the response was uniform.  These people all knew that the G-8 had been held nearby.  To a person, all they talked about was the traffic caused by the meeting.  They did not seem to care about the presence of the world leaders or Obama.  They just remembered the traffic jams that happened in places where they almost never do.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Recent Events

One of the nice things about being out of the country is that I have not had to live through all the endless coverage of things like the immigration debate in the Senate and the trip to Africa by president Obama.  It is amazing to me just how little interest there seems to be in internal American politics in Europe.  I have just gotten little bits of news about what is happening each day in the USA.  Even so, a few things have been made clear:

1.  The prosecutors who are pursuing George Zimmerman should be ashamed of themselves.  Their own witnesses seem better for the defense than for the prosecution.  I do not pretend to know what happened between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.  I do, however, know that a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  There is no way that this can be done.  These prosecutors should have had the courage to do what is right and refrain from prosecuting Zimmerman.

2.  The Senate immigration bill is much ado about nothing.  Most likely the House will not pass anything even close to the Senate bill.  Those voting for the bill embarassed themselves by once again passing a bill that no one had yet read and understood.  Just for once, it would have been nice to see and hear reasoned political debate rather than political pandering.  Don't get me wrong.  I am neither for nor against the bill.  I have not had a chance to read it.  I just think that before the bozos in the Senate pass the thing, they ought to have at least read and understood it.

3.  Fighting climate change by Executive Order is one of Obama's worst mistakes yet.  First of all, global warming has stopped -- at least according to the thermometers.  And it has stopped for the last fifteen years.  There is no reason to cripple the American coal industry to fight an imaginary problem.  Here too, political pandering is beating out rational thought.

4.  The Supreme Court is one institution that seems to be doing its job.  In the last week, it announced some really important decisions.  For the most part, they seemed truly trying to follow the Constitution and not the current political thought.  Sadly, if only one of three branches of the government is doing that, we are in trouble.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Is It a Coup?

Egyptian troops are being deployed around that country in advance of the upcoming protests which will be launched against president Morsi.  According to reports, the troops are not there to support Morsi.  Nor are they planning to support the protesters.  The current thinking is that the armed forces of Egypt are about to use the upcoming unrest to take control of the government once again.

We will have to wait to see if a coup takes place.  If it does, it will bring a major improvement in the regional situation.  The army in Egypt has ruled before and it generally behaves in a responsible manner.  All the sectarian strife which was unleashed by the very narrow victory by Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood should be stamped out if the army takes control.  Further, the armed forces are just about the only Egyptian national institution that has the respect of the Egyptian people.

I hope that if the armed forces do take back control of the country, that the American government does not oppose the move.  It would be just like the new group of advisors around president Obama to take steps to alienate the new Egyptian government even though our relations with the current one are strained at best.

The Unbelievable Double Standard

In the last two days, an obscure Texas state senator has won national media praise for launching a filibuster to prevent the Texas legislature from passing a bill to modify the abortion laws in that state.  The law will now be passed during a special session in a few weeks.  Meanwhile, the IRS spent years persecuting pro life groups around the country and there is absolutely no sympathy expressed for those groups in the media.

Why is the national media so ardently pro-abortion?  Why can't it cover the issue like a news story rather than like a football game in which it roots for one side?

DOMA and California

The Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage issues were hardly surprising.  The Court refused to rule directly on gay marriage as a civil right, instead side stepping the issue on the grounds that the appellants lacked standing.  This allowed the ridiculous ruling of the trial court to stand, a decision that overturned an amendment to the California constitution resulting from a popular vote on a very shaky federal constitutional analysis.  No matter where one stands on the issue of gay marriage, it is sad that the matter is left up in the air -- particularly in this way.

On the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court went the other way.  There it struck down part of the act on what should have been an easy federalism decision.  Once a state had made a determination as to the requirements for marriage, that determination is entitled to be recognized by all states and the federal government.  For an issue like marriage which has always been a state issue, there was no basis for the federal government to step in to change the state decision.  Instead of taking the easy way out, however, the Court used a much harsher analysis.  It actually concluded that there was no rational basis for the federal government to define marriage as between one man and one woman.  That is -- pardon the honesty -- idiotic.  Since gay couples will not be the natural parents of offspring, there is clearly a rational basis to treat them differently from heterosexual couples.  So the Court used an almost nonsensical analysis to reach the proper result.

It was a bizarre day for SCOTUS.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It is really not surprising

The latest news is that Anthony Weiner is in the lead in the latest polls for the New York Mayor's race.  That's right, the same Weiner who tweeted pictures of his genitals and other naked body parts and who resigned in disgrace from Congress is leading in the Democrat primary race.  This news is shocking until you consider Weiner's competition in the primary.  There is the lesbian candidate, the crook, and some non-entities each of whom tries to outdo the others is showing just how far left they really are.  These folks make current mayor, Bloomberg, look like a rugged individualist.

For all his peccadiloes, Weiner at least seems to be almost rational, a rare charactgeristic among Democrat mayoral candidates.  Weiner actually might win.

One thing is certain, however:  with this group of candidates fighting it out for the Democrat nod, the chances of a Republican mayor keep rising.  It is still less than 50% likely that the next mayor will be a Republican, but that number is no longer zero.


There is so much news zooming around these days that I want to take a moment to talk about a really important story that got little play in the media.  Specifically, Jon Corzine is about to be sued civilly by the Commodities Trading Commission for his part in the collapse of the trading firm he headed.  We know that close to one billion dollars somehow was taken from customers' accounts and that the money "disappeared".  Allegedly, the funds were used for independent trading bets made by Corzine's company in the bonds of various European nations (and then lost).

Despite the extremely questionable trades made by Corzine's company, the Department of Justice just stepped back and let Democrat heavyweight Corzine get off completely without consequence.  Just imagine if Corzine had been a conservative Republican!  They would have sent the IRS and the DOJ to hound him for the rest of his days, but as a Democrat, there were no consequences.

The Commodities Trading group is an independent agency that does not answer to the president directly.  That allows the group to act in the best interests of the country rather than in the interests of the Democrat party.  Corzine certainly appears to have liability for what happened, and he should be held responsible for his conduct..  Bravo for the commission for acting where the Obamacrats had circled the wagons around their crony.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

1965 is finally over

When the Voting Rights Act was first passed in the mid 1960's, congress put in place special measures that allowed the federal government to review voting and related laws in certain states and counties with a history of racial discrimination.  That restriction has stayed in place since that time -- until today.  This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that the preclearance restrictions were no longer a valid way to proceed.  Chief Justice Roberts pointed out in his decision that there was no way that Congress could validly make distinctions in treatment of the various states on the basis of conditions in place fifty years ago and before.  Congress has to consider current conditions.

This ruling is long overdue.  Not only have voting restrictions in Southern states been long gone, even the people who voted at that time are gone.  It is ridiculous to treat North Carolina and Indiana differently because half a century ago, conditions in North Carolina were different from those in Indiana.

If there is any racial or other discrimination in voting laws, Congress can still step in to remedy the situation.  The South, however, is no longer a second class area when it comes to voting rights.

There are those who surely will be upset by this result.  Many are the people who see racial discrimination in every voting law change.  You know who I mean, the folks who believe that a photo ID requirement is the equivalent of poll taxes and literacy tests.  The members of Congress were too scared that they would be labelled bigots and racists if they updated the Voting Rights act to conform to current conditions.  This is one of those times when having a judiciary appointed for life came in handy to allow reason to triumph.

Postcard from Aberfoyle

I was in the small Scottish town of Aberfoyle yesterday.  It is located just near the start of the highlands, about thirty five miles from Glasgow.  We went to the Woolens Center which was much like an outlet mall in the USA.  The point of the visit, however, was not the shopping.  We were there for the demonstration by the sheep dogs.  It was a fascinating time.

For starters, the host of the show (and the master of the dogs) was an Italian named Ricardo.  It seemed stranger that the shepherd in rural Scotland would be Italian, but in Europe these days national boundaries are less important than in the past.  Ricardo was in Scotland, he told us, because that is where the sheep are.  The Scots have something like two and a half sheep for each person in the country.  We got to see about fifteen varieties of sheep at the start of the show.  I have always pictured sheep as white and fleecy; they actually come in all sorts of colors and shapes.

After the sheep, we met the sheep dog.  Ricardo's dog is a border collie, that black and white breed that lives to herd things.  In our show, the dog was given the task of herding geese.  That's right, you read that correctly.  The dog was herding geese.  He managed to get a group of six geese to go through an entire set of obstacles.  The geese went through a long plastic tube, they went up a ladder and down a slide, and they ended up in an enclosure.  For someone who has never seen a sheep dog in action before, it was an eye opener.  The dog was masterful.  It is true that Ricardo was giving directions with oral commands and whistles, but the dog did the work.

The visit to Aberfoyle was a look back to a simpler time.  It is too bad that we cannot unleash sheep dogs on the federal government in order to get things accomplished.  It would surely be an improvement.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Diversity in the University

The Supreme Court ruled today on the issue of the use of race in admissions for public universities.  The decision was 7 to 1 (justice Kagan recused herself).  The justices ruled that universities can try for diversity in their student bodies and are entitled to deference if they do this on some basis other than just using race as a deciding factor.  Then, the same justices said that the universities will be held to strict scrutiny if they consider race as part of the determination.  In other words, the universities will have to show that there is no other method that could be used to obtain the same result.

Translating all this into English, one finds that the Supreme Court has ruled that in most instances universities cannot use race as a criteria in determining admission.  After all, if the schools base the diversity considerations on family income or something similar, they will be able to get a very diverse student body without using race.  For now, that should make it impossible for any remaining form of affirmative action to continue in the context of university admissions.

It is of great importance that only one justice disagreed with this ruling.  It means that this issue is unlikely to change at any time in the near future.  Race can some day be considered if other factors will not achieve the goal of diversity, but that is unlikely.

All things considered, this is a victory for those who want a color blind society.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Won't It Be Great When The IRS Runs Obamacare?

We already know that the IRS spent three years persecuting Tea Party and other conservative groups under direction from Washington.  We also know that the IRS went after Christian groups like the Billy Graham Ministry, Jewish groups supporting Israel and pro-life groups across America.  We also know that confidential information about many enemies of the president were leaked to leftist groups like Pro Publica and even the co-chair of the Obama re-election campaign.  Much of this activity by the IRS is criminal if proven.  Indeed, it seems that the IRS was very good at attacking enemies of Obama and the Obamacrats even though it was not supposed to do these things.

Now we learn, however, that the IRS has been very slipshod in doing the tasks it was actually supposed to carry out.  Here is one headline from today's news:  "IRS Sent $46,378,040 in Refunds to 23,994 ‘Unauthorized’ Aliens at 1 Atlanta Address"  Tens of thousands more illegal aliens were sent many millions at other addresses across America by the IRS.  To say the least, the IRS ought to be able to pick up the fact that ten thousand returns are filed seeking refunds for illegals from one address.  Even Lois Lerner should have been able to do that (although she probably would take the Fifth if asked about it.)

When the IRS takes over full control of Obamacare, things should only get worse.  Who knows how bad it will get.

The Battle Lines Form in Syria

Things in Syria have gotten worse.  (I think that this is about the fiftieth time that I have written that sentence.)  The civil war has now got international forces backing both sides.  No longer are the combatants just the Assad regime and the Sunni majority rebels.  Assad has active backing from his Shiite co-religionists in Iran and Hezbollah as well as logistical support from the Putin regime in Russia.  The rebels who were outgunned at Qaysir are now seeing supplies flow in from the Saudis, Turks, Jordanians and French.  Libyan arms that were "liberated" from the old Gaddafi forces are also arriving daily in Syria for the rebels.  Ever more belligerent language is spewing from the Morsi government in Egypt which has severed diplomatic relations with the Assad regime.  We are watching much of the Middle East take sides in the battle, and the fighting may spread as well.

There are major dangers in all this for the United States.  First of all, dangerous weapons are being given to groups affiliated with terrorists.  The latest reports say that the rebels have acquired anti-tank missiles and shoulder fired anti aircraft weapons.  Think of the havoc that these anti-aircraft missiles could cause if they are turned against civil aviation.  The savage nature of this war will also be made worse by the upgrade to the available weapons.  the 100,000 dead to date may quickly double or triple.  Indeed, when one side or the other prevails, we may see mass slaughter of the losing side.  Second, it may not take much more of a spark for the armies of Turkey or Jordan to enter the fray.  Indeed, if the Assad forces attack again into Turkish refugee camps, Turkey may call upon its NATO allies for support and launch a counter attack.  That could spread the war from Syria into a major regional conflict.

Many Americans currently believe that the national interests of the USA are not involved in this fight.  That is not true.  Our allies such as Turkey, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia could soon be fighting on the front lines.  That will threaten American interests in major ways.  Our ally Israel is just over the border from Syria and is also likely to get sucked into this mess if it does not end soon.

President Obama has done his usual foreign policy maneuver of giving a speech and then doing nothing else.  That plan did not work in the past and it will not work now.  Hiding is not a rational way to approach the foreign policy of the United State.  Washington has to wake up and smell the gunpowder.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Was He Here?

I am in Cork in Ireland today.  Not surprisingly, my wife and I were out shopping for sweaters and other woolen goods (which by the way are incredible in this country.)  During our travels, I spoke to a fair number of folks while my wife browsed the merchandise (I get bored with shopping pretty quickly.)  I asked each one what they thought of president Obama's recent trip to Ireland.  The response was uniform:  each one of these ordinary Irish folks was surprised to learn that Obama had been in Ireland.

There really is not reason why people in Cork should have paid much attention to the visit of a foreign head of state in Dublin which is far north of here.  Nevertheless, if one were to read the American media, one would get the impression that every single Irishman was thrilled with the Obama visit.  The truth is something quite different.

I will be in Dublin tomorrow.  If I have time, I will ask the same questions there.  It will be interesting to see if there is any difference.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Who Are the 44%?

The latest Rasmussen poll on president Obama's job performance find that 44% approve and 55% disapprove.  It makes me wonder just who the 44% are.  Think about it.  In the last year, Obama has failed to protect diplomats in Benghazi; failed to respond to calls for help when those same diplomats were under attack, lied about the cause and the perpetrators of that attack, sent Susan Rice out to lie to the entire country about Benghazi, run the IRS as a secret police force designed to attack his political enemies, done nothing to stop those political attacks when the misconduct was discovered and made public, allowed the NSA to spy on all Americans in the name of stopping terrorism when much less intrusive measures would have worked as well, had his HHS secretary illegally shake down insurance companies for funds to "implement" Obamacare, ignored world problems like the civil war in Syria, angered our allies and emboldened out enemies, and generally screwed up everything he touched.

Who in the world are these 44%?

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Attorney General Eric Holder finally answered questions from Congress about his false testimony regarding the investigation of James Rosen.  You may recall that Holder said he had never heard of "potential prosecution" of any reporter  even though Holder had specifically approved telling a federal court that Fox reporter James Rosen needed to be the subject of a search warrant because Rosen was a likely co-conspirator in espionage with potential criminal liability.  Congress asked Holder to explain the clear contradiction between his statement and his actions.

Holder could have said that he did not recall his prior actions when he testified.  That would have gotten him off the hot seat with regard to potential criminal liability for perjury.  Instead, Holder said this:

“I do not agree that characterizations establishing probable cause for a search warrant for materials from a member of the news media during an ongoing investigation constitute an intent to prosecute that member of the news media. I do believe that a thorough investigation of the disclosure of classified information that threatened national security was necessary and appropriate.” 

Got that?  Holder tells a federal judge under oath that Rosen is a likely criminal with criminal liability for espionage, but that is not "and intent to prosecute".  Holder did not talk about the intent to prosecute.  he spoke about potential prosecution.  That word is POTENTIAL, not actual.  Clearly if Holder tells a judge that Rosen is a likely criminal with liability, that means he could POTENTIALLY be prosecuted.  In other words, Holder lied to Congress while under oath which is perjury.

The Attorney General has to resign...........NOW!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Unbearable Truth

I happened to read the international version of the New York Times today while visiting Guernsey in the UK.  I was struck by an article discussing the failure of president Obama's foreign policy in connection with Russia and China.  The Times actually said that charisma only goes so far; after that one needs good policy to proceed.  Printing that sentence must have been unbearable for the editors of the Times.  Just imagine discussing that Obama had no actual foreign policy and that he was relying on charisma to succeed.  The truth really must hurt.

Let's Not Forget the IRS

With all the discussions about Edward Snowden and the NSA scandals underway, it is important that Americans do not forget the ongoing mess that is the IRS scandal.  Here we are, many weeks after the news of IRS improprieties first surfaced, and we still do not know who directed this whole endeavor at the IRS.  We are sure that the original story from the administration was a lie.  This was not the act of just a few rogue agents in Cincinnati; Washington was involved and in charge.  The question, though, is just who in Washington put the persecution of conservatives into place.

We know that confidential IRS information was given to the co chair of the Obama re-election campaign.  Did campaign officials direct the efforts of the IRS?  We don't yet know.  We know that Treasury Department and White House officials knew of the IRS efforts weeks, months and even years before they became public, and that nothing was done to stop the targeting of conservatives.  Was the IRS misconduct directed by Treasury or White House officials?  We don't know that for sure either, although circumstantial evidence certainly points in that direction.

These are extremely important questions that require answers.  We cannot let them get lost because another scandal is taking up attention.  We know that the House committees investigating the matter are continuing their work, but that effort cannot be allowed to be forgotten.  The basic freedoms of Americans are at stake.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Rose that Stinks

Pesident Obama appeared on Charlie Rose's show to discuss the NSA surveillance scandals.  With a defense of the sort that Obama put forward, prehaps he should have stayed off of the TV.  Obama explained  that the NSA cannot legally listen to phone calls of Americans without a court order.  Charlie Rose than almost fell off his seat trying to get Obama to says that the NSA DOES NOT do that.  Obama agreed.

So what.  We keep getting stories that do not agree with what Obama is saying.  Indeed, just the other day, the reports came out that NSA analysts have the authority to listen to calls if they deem it necessary as part of their investigations.  We need to know which version of the story is true.  Does the NSA listen in, or not.

Even more important, we need to understand what use is made of the so called meta data that everyone agrees is being collected by NSA.  For example, we know that NSA collects the location of cell phones that have GPS locators in them.  That involves most newer cell phones, so it is a heck of a lot of data.  Suppose that the FBI has been following a suspect.  Can the FBI give the locations where the suspect has been and ask for a list of which cell phones have been in close proximity over the last month?  Will that sort of information put innocent people on a list of suspects if they happened to eat in the same restaurant as the suspect?  Once that proximity is identified, will the calls and email of that innocent person then be reviewed by the FBI or NSA?  Would this proximity alone be enough for the feds to get a warrant from the FISA court?  Right now, it appears that the answer to all these questions is yes -- if you happen to be near a suspect, you get swept up into the investigation too.

What all this means is that the feds are not providing a basis to a court to conduct a search of many people.  Instead, the feds are creating that basis by manipulating the meta data.  So much for privacy.

Distance Gives Perspective

I just spent the last two days in London and had the chance to talk a bit with a few English folks about events in the world.  It was extremely interesting to hear a non-American perspective on the news.

First of all, people in London (Okay, the few to whom I spoke) were completely uninterested in what we would call the scandals regarding Benghazi and the AP.  There was some interest in the IRS scandal.  On the other hand, there was great interest in what the NSA has been doing.  One man was certain that the NSA was listening to his calls and intercepting his email.  He thought the whole thing was funny though, since he assured me that his mail and calls were really dull.

Second, the Londoners were very unimpressed by the current American government.  In general, the view was that the high hopes that they had when president Obama first took office had been dashed.  They said that Obama had promised much but delivered little.  I got the impression that these people really did not have a deep understanding or even knowledge about what has happened in the USA during the Obama years, but they just had gotten a general impression from years of news stories to which they had paid little attention.  Since much of the American media portrays the international view of Obama as highly favorable, I was somewhat surprised by the general disappointment with Obama that I found.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Running Out of Other People's Money

Margaret Thatcher once said that socialist systems fail because eventually they run out of other people's money.  The statement could be the new slogan for the city of Detroit.  As of today, Detroit is now essentially in default on nearly all of its obligations; full bankruptcy is shortly ahead down the road.  One has to wonder how it was possible that a city like Detroit could reach this point.  The answer is pretty clear:  Detroit adopted liberal/progressive tax and spend policies that squeezed its citizens and led many to depart.  When the auto industry fell on hard times and the city lost its biggest tax payers, most of the rest of the folks who could afford to leave, did just that.  All that is left are the poor.

Sixty years ago, Detroit had just under two million people within its borders.  It was a symbol to the world of America's manufacturing might, the home of the auto industry.  In the 1960's there were riots that hit Detroit, like many of America's cities.  The move to the suburbs began to accelerate at that point, and Detroit's population fell, like so many other large American cities.  But then something much different happened in Detroit.  Instead of people leaving just the city, they began leaving the area.  The suburbs still grew, but Detroit metro was a laggard.  It went from the 5th largest area to the 14th largest, and there are actually fewer people in the metro area than there were 40 years ago. 

Today, while the metro area is still large, Detroit itself is just a shadow of its former self.  It now has about 700,000 people, meaning that it lost nearly two thirds of all its residents in the last fifty years.  The median household income in the city is just over $27,000 per year.  Just under 40% of the population lives below the poverty line according to the Census Bureau.  Detroit is a city of poor people.

Properties across the city are vacant.  That is certainly no surprise.  A city that used to be home to almost two million loses two thirds of its people, so there are empty houses.  There are also some neighborhoods that are nearly empty.  People who owned homes in the city watched the value of those properties evaporate and not just after the last recession.  People move out, they don't move in.

The answer of the city government is the usual one from the left:  increase city services, increase taxes, increase borrowing, spend, spend, spend.  The city squeezed more and more out of less and less.  It did next to nothing to try to improve the business climate in the city in order to bring folks and business back.  And now, it has run out of other people's money.

Without a doubt, there will be attempts in both the Michigan legislature and the Congress to "rescue" poor Detroit.  Hopefully, neither the state nor the federal government will step in to help, unless and until the city cleans up its act completely.  City workers have to be reduced so that they reflect the needs of a much smaller city.  All the sweetheart deal of the politicians have to be jettisoned.  Even social services need to be reordered so that the goal is not to support the people but rather to encourage them to support themselves.

It won't be easy, and it won't be popular.  Nevertheless, it has to be done.  Inevitably, many people from Detroit will move to other cities to hop back on the "things as usual" wagon.  That cannot be stopped, but, at least, it will mean less will be required for Detroit to recover.

The entire city government has to be rethought in Detroit.  The whole social service network must be revised.  The "idea" of Detroit has to be changed in major ways.



Small Arms and Radios?

As the new Obama policy on Syria is unfurled, one thing is very clear and that is that the policy itself is anything but clear.  America is arming the rebels -- maybe.  There could be a no fly zone, but it is unlikely.  Nothing will be done about the use of chemical weapons, the supposed reason for arming (maybe) the rebels.  The USA is supplying heavy weapons to the rebels; no it is not.  Even the spokesman explaining the new policy says that he either cannot or will not explain what that policy actually is.

Everything I said in the first paragraph is accurate.  Unfortunately, no one understands it.  When I say no one, I include all the folks in the White House.  Once again, America under Obama has a foreign policy that has no focus.  It also seems to have no one in charge.  Did Susan Rice advise that announcing that we are arming the rebels but then not sending anything that they need is a good policy?  Did Kerry or Hagel advise that it would be best to promote confusion or is the confusion just the result of the lack of leadership?

Supposedly, the United States is making a major shift in its policy on Syria.  It is up to president Obama to come forward and explain what he is doing.  He has time for LGBT awareness day celebrations and ceremonies for kids who are no longer being abused (two activities of the last two days), but he cannot tell us what, if anything, our military is doing.  I mean, we do not need any tactical details, but a broad brush description would be nice.

What is Obama thinking?  If things do not go well in Syria, will he come out and announce how angry is he after he just learned what happened there?  Will his staff tell us that Obama knew nothing?  Is he recycling the IRS plan again?

This is not funny stuff.  People -- and that is thousands of people, are dying in Syria.  Terrorists are fighting terrorists, but most of the dead are civilian.  The weapons that threaten America are being ignored by America.  Instead, we seem to be trying to extend the fighting that is killing civilians.  We won't give the rebels anything that might actually give them a chance to win.

America deserves better than Obama.

One last note:  I apologize for the somewhat stream of consciousness state of this post.  It is hard to present a coherent description and commentary on something as unfocused and haphazard as Obama's policy on Syria. 


Major Misleading

The New York Times was back at its main mission today:  misleading millions of Americans.  Let me ask you this:  what, if anything, is wrong with a headline at the top of the front page of today's edition of the Times that says "Moderate Leading in Iranian Vote"?  And, for those of you who think that the media do not use the same talking points, how about a report highlighted on Yahoo News that a "reformist" is leading in the Iranian vote.

Are they kidding?  There were eight candidates for president in Iran.  Each one had to be approved in advance by the Ayatollah.  Each one passed muster specifically because he was not a moderate or a reformist.  Those men were rejected by the Ayatollah.  Anyone who would call a presidential candidate on the ballot in Iran a moderate or a reformist is either an idiot or a propagandist.

If one wanted to get America used to the idea that we will not take steps to stop the Iranian nuclear program after years and years of saying that we would, what better way is there than to convince Americans that Iran is moderating.  If Iran is reforming, do we really need to destroy that nation's nuclear capabilities?  Of course not! 

That, my friends, is why these media propagandists for the administration are reporting nonsense. 

When the first post nuclear crisis with Iran erupts -- and it will -- no one will remember what the Times and Yahoo published today.  Sadly, though, on that day, millions will be in the cross hairs of nuclear destruction, and they will all wonder why we never did anything to prevent that.  I guess on that day, we can all say "Today, we are all the American ambassador to Libya."


Friday, June 14, 2013

Running Out of Shoes -- 2

Earlier today, I posted about Sharyl Atkisson of CBS News whose computers were hacked last year by someone who searched through her documents and then tried to cover up what had been done.  It seems that the likely culprit is the federal government which has the skills and the motive for the attack on Atkisson.

Over at Powerline blog, John Hinderacker has a post which says what many of us have been thinking upon hearing of this latest invasion into a reporter's notes and materials.  Hinderacker says it reminds him of the Watergate breakin.  His post is worth reading.

One last note on Atkisson:  the Department of Justice has announced that "to its knowledge", the DOJ did not invade Atkisson's computer system.  Amazing!  DOJ can only tell us that it did not do this TO ITS KNOWLEDGE!!  Are they kidding?  They don't know for sure if it was them or not?

How can the Department of Justice of the United States of America be so poorly managed that the spokesman for DOJ is not sure whether or not that department spied on Atkisson?



Bringing Honesty to the Debate

Have you heard that America's production of oil and gas is rising?  Have you seen president Obama respond to criticism of his energy policies by announcing that America is producing more oil and as than it has in decades?  Have you heard Obama tout all that he has done to promote oil and gas exploration?

I am sure that if you pay even a small amount of attention to what happens in Washington, you have heard all of this -- and more than just once.  Even so, it is important to bring honesty back into the debate.  That is something that the Institute for Energy Research has done in a recent release that summarizes the actually facts on this subject. 

Let's start with two very important facts:

1.  American production of gas and oil is indeed soaring. 
2.  The portion of American production that Obama could affect, namely, the production from federal lands, is now down to the lowest level in a decade.

What this means is that oil and gas production is up despite Obama, not because of him.  Oil production on federal lands is down 18% in the last two years.  Natural gas production on federal lands is down 16% in the last two years.  Obama and his people have done all that they could to prevent drilling and production of these fuels.  Meanwhile, oil and gas production on private land has risen by an average of 15% per year across America.  The places that Obama and the feds cannot control are producing oil and gas at a prodigious rate.

The next time you hear someone tell you that under Obama oil and gas production has risen, put the truth back into the discussion.  Tell him or her what is actually happening.



Do you trust the government?

It is a simple question, isn't it?  Do you trust the federal government?  Do you think that the feds are fair and impartial and trying to do the right thing?    Are the folks in DC just nice people struggling to get by in a troubled world, just like the rest of us?  Do the feds tell us the truth?  Do you believe much of what they say?

When I was growing up, these were not difficult or contentious questions.  Americans trusted their government in general.  Oh, we knew that there was incompetence in Washington.  We knew that some there were greedy.  We knew that there were those who only cared about themselves.  Nevertheless, the prevailing view across the land was that the federal government was -- on the whole -- trustworthy and believable.

That has really changed.  Almost no one who pays attention now trusts the government.  Even many who don't pay much attention to what is going on no longer trust the feds.

Today, Rasmussen released a poll about the NSA collection of data on phone calls and internet transmissions with the following results:

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters nationwide believe it is likely the NSA data will be used by other government agencies to harass political opponents. Only 30% consider it unlikely and 14% are not sure.

Do you get the full impact of those numbers?  It is not that 57% of the people do not trust the feds to handle the NSA data properly.  No, fifty seven percent of all Americans think that the federal government will actively use the NSA data to persecute Americans who do not support the government. 

This is an extraordinary indictment of Obama's Washington.  There is no trust and no faith in anything except that the feds will misuse this information. 

Obama was right about one thing.  He has managed to fundamentally transform America in one way:  we no longer trust the federal government even to obey the law.


Joining the Jihad

The latest news from the Middle East is that the Moslem Brotherhood which rules Egypt has announced that it is heeding the call from Sunni clerics to join a jihad against the Assad forces and their Shiite allies in Syria.  While the Egyptian government has said that it will not send forces to Syria (at least for now), it also said that it would not stop Egyptians Sunnis from traveling to Syria to do "relief" work.  This means that the Sunni Moslems who control Egypt are joining their co-religionists in Syria to fight against the Shiite forces of Iran, Hezbollah and Assad.  Syria is now a full fledged religious war which each side considers a jihad.

Isn't it amazing that for two years as civil strife continued in Syria, president Obama studiously avoided getting involved.  Now that the Sunni-Shia jihad is out in the open, Obama is diving into the mess by arming the Sunni side.

I have to wonder what genius decided that it made no sense to get involved when there were democratic forces fighting Assad, but that involvement was imperative once the Sunni terror groups took over the rebels.

Obama needs to look out for the long term interests of the United States.  It is too bad that he doesn't seem to care about those interests.


They Should Be Running Out of Shoes in Washington

With all the scandals swirling through Obama's Washington, each day brings news that, as they say, the other shoe has dropped.  It has gotten to the point of ridiculousness.

Today's big disclosure comes from CBS News which announced the result of a forensic investigation into computer hacking of the machine of CBS reporter Sharyl Atkisson.  According to CBS,

“A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.  This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion."

So what does this tell us?  First, someone with great computer skills broke into a CBS News' reporter's computer, reviewed her files and then took steps to hide the intrusion.  The sophisticated nature of the intrusion limits the identity of the hacker to just a few possibilities, the most prominent of which is the government.

Second, this tells us that in late 2012, the hacking was underway.  In other words, during the height of the presidential campaign, the computer of the principal reporter in the mainstream media who was covering the truth about the Benghazi scandal was hacked.  The information that the reporter had included the names of her contacts who were providing the truth about what had happened in Libya and thereafter.  That information would be of interest to not that many people other than the government.

This is big news.  While CBS has been careful not to point a finger at the Obama administration for hacking into Atkisson's computer, that is certainly the most accurate conclusion to draw from the statement that the network has released.  One has to wonder if the Obama administration bothered to get a warrant at the FISA court before this search of Atkisson's computer went ahead. 

If this were the first indication of federal government spying on a prominent reporter, most people would give the feds the benefit of the doubt.  Following the myriad of disclosures of improper surveillance of reporters of the last month, any benefit of the doubt has to go the other direction.  Most likely, the feds were spying on Atkisson.  One has to wonder whether or not that spying was undertaken in order to help the Obama re-election campaign.

Someone from the government better soon explain why Atkisson's computer was hacked.


Spreading Lies About Shale Gas

Drilling for natural gas in shale formations which is made possible by fracking is the target of the environmentalist extremists these days.  The opponents of fracking and shale gas are folks who think that any use of fossil fuel is bad.  They ignote the fact that burning the gas results in about 40% less emissions than a similar amount of other fossil fuels.  They ignore the fact that the gas is significantly less expensive than oil based fuels.  They ignore the fact that the gas is produced here at home rather than purchased from some country like Iran or Venezueala that is America's enemy.  Their problem, however, is that they are losing the battle.  Natural gas production continues to rise quickly.  Trucks using natural gas are beginning to spread across the country.  The benefits from natural gas are being seen by most Americans.

In an effort to turn things around, the environmental extremists have resorted to spreading lies about natural gas.  For example, the movie "Promised Land", a little seen flop starring Matt Damon had gas companies destroying rural America in a mad dash to profits.  In fact, it was all fiction.  The same is true about the lie that natural gas drilling destroys ground water; each time the EPA (yes the EPA!) has examined the issue, it has concluded that there is no indication that there has been any ground water contamination.

The latest attack is now class based, in the great tradition of the left:  gas benefits only the rich and hurts the poor.  A good example comes from an article in today's liberal media.  Reuters has a story today that American shale gas is a boon to manufacturers but not their workers.  It is completely phony.  Here are a few examples:

Reuters reports that the industries that are benefiting most are capital rather than labor intensive.  Reuters points to a $1.1 billion pipe mill opened by a French - Japanese consortium in Youngstown Ohio which will employ "just 350".  I am not kidding; Reuters actually says this.  Somehow, "just" 350 jobs is a bad thing.  Indeed, the hundreds or thousands who gained employment from the construction of a 1.1 billion dollar mill is ignored as well.  Are they kidding?  In an area with nothing much else creating jobs, all those jobs at the pipe mill are a good thing.

Reuters also points out that in Ohio, manufacturing has added 42,000 jobs since 2010, with a big chunk coming from gas drilling and related activities.  Somehow, this is spun as a bed thing because the state lost 110,000 manufacturing jobs in the years before the increase began.  In the warped view of Reuters, we are supposed to think that this slow recovery is due to natural gas drilling.  Wrong!  The recovery is due for the most part to gas drilling.  Without it there would be NO recovery, not one that went more quickly.




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hurting America's Working Poor

There is a large group of people across America who can best be described as the "Working Poor".  These are the millions of folks who have less education, work at lower paid jobs, and are nearer the edge of the cliff of poverty than the bulk of the country.  This group was particularly hard hit by the last recession, and they have been the slowest segment of society to recover.  Unemployment in this segment of the population is much higher than the nominal 7.6 percent figure that Washington announces for the nation as a whole. 

The amazing thing about this group is that right now, RIGHT NOW!!!, their futures are under attack.  Even worse, the attack on the working poor is being led by the politicians that this very group chose to go to Washington.  That attack is underway in the form of the so-called comprehensive immigration reform bill now pending in the Senate.

The Senate immigration bill will open America to something on the order of at least another twenty million immigrants above those who could get here under the present law.  Nearly all these new immigrants will be relatives of those currently here illegally.  These new immigrants will be relatively uneducated and without many skills.  They will come here and compete for jobs currently held by one group:  the Working Poor.  Simply put, all these extra immigrants will drive down wages, make jobs harder to find, and force millions of Working Poor folks into total povery and distress.  And who is pushing this bill the hardest?  It is the Democrats who see these extra people as future Democrat voters.  If these new immigrants force millions of African American poor over the cliff of destitution, the Democrats don't care; they want the extra voters no matter what it means for their constituents.  And all those other poor people about whom the Democrats perpetually claim to worry and care?  Well, the Democrats are neither worrying or caring about the negative impact on these poor if there are extra votes to scoop up.

So who is really going to gain the most from the immigration bill?  It is the people who employ low paid workers in large numbers.  These companies will have a guaranteed low wage labor pool for decades to come.  There will be no need to improve wages or benefits when there will always be another low skilled immigrant to take any open job.




Obama's New Syria Policy...........Huh?

The Obama White House announced today that it had concluded that the Assad forces in Syria had used chemical weapons and crossed president Obama's proclaimed red line.  This conclusion was no surprise; many other countries had already announced the same conclusion, including France which had actually had scientists who examined samples taken from victims of the sarin nerve gas sprayed by the Assad forces.  No explanation was forthcoming from either Obama or his spokesman as to why it took America and extra six weeks or so to reach its conclusion. 

In addition to the crossing of the red line by the Assad forces, the Obama spokesman stated that the USA would now begin offering more assistance to the rebels fighting Assad.  No clarification was given as to what the assistance would be.  Is it communications equipment?  Maybe.  Is it artillery?  Maybe.  Is it tanks?  Doubtful.  How about planes?  Very unlikely.  Are antiaircraft missiles on the way to Syria from the USA?  I hope not; after all, some of the rebels would likely use those missiles on American planes if they could.  Even a no fly zone has not been ruled out or ruled in.

The strange thing about all this is that Obama issued a non-clarifying clarification.  Actually, with this president, that is nor really all that strange.

America needs to destroy the chemical weapons held by the Assad regime.  Those are the weapons that could be used against us or our allies.  Those are the key items of danger in the entire Syrian mix.

It is hard to imagine that Obama waited for close to 100,000 Syrians to be killed before he mostly decided to consider whether or not to possibly act.

He should change his first name from Barack to Dither.

One last note:  I have been writing about the need for American action on Syria for years now. There are about forty different posts on this site discussing events in Syria and a possible course of action for the United States. As these post were written, president Obama did essentially nothing. One hundred thousand people were killed but Obama did essentially nothing. The situation went from bad to worse, particularly as it affects the interests of this country, but Obama did essentially nothing. Obama has raised doing nothing to an art form. Nothing that happened today changes that. Even Bill Clinton says that Obama will soon look like a fool if he continues to ignore what is happening in Syria.  Clinton is wrong; Obama already looks like a fool to the people in the Middle East.  The Iranians and Hezbollah are laughing at him, and they have good reason to do so.



Obamacare's Impending Disaster -- Update

Since I posted earlier today about the upcoming debacle that is Obamacare, I have received some rather "upset" email that takes issue with what I wrote.  Let's just say that there were some who question if I was being accurate. 

Rather than try to answer those who throw phony accusations around, I thought I would just post the the first few paragraphs of an AP article that was published in the last hour.

Remember, this is coming from the AP.  The AP is totally supportive of Obamacare.  The AP is totally supportive of president Obama.  The AP normally slants everything in favor of Obama and the Obamacrats.  So here is the article:

It's called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama's health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big chain restaurants, retail stores and hotels.
That might seem strange since the law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer "affordable" coverage or face fines.

But what's reasonable? Because of a wrinkle in the law, companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers. For the employee, it's like a mirage — attractive but out of reach.

The company can get off the hook, say corporate consultants and policy experts, but the employee could still face a federal requirement to get health insurance.

Many are expected to remain uninsured, possibly risking fines. That's due to another provision: the law says workers with an offer of "affordable" workplace coverage aren't entitled to new tax credits for private insurance, which could be a better deal for those on the lower rungs of the middle class.

In short, low wage workers will not be able to afford the coverage through their employers, they will not be elligible for subsidies and they will get hit with taxes/fines of something like one thousand dollars each because they will not have coverage.  That means no coverage but a big tax bill for the poor.  It is a disaster.



The Immigration Debate

Answer this question:  In the current debate about "comprehensive immigration reform", have you heard that the plan is to first control the border and then proceed with legalization of those already here?  Has someone told you that there will not be an amnesty, but rather that the federal government will close our porous border to prevent any further waves of illegals from coming across?

If you listen to political debates, you surely have heard this sort of talk.  Much of it has come from Marco Rubio who spent months promising that he would walk away from any measure that did not require control of the borders before dealing with the problems of the illegals already here.

We learned today that all that talk was just talk.  Indeed, the liberal media is out in full force trying to make even the idea of first controlling the border into some sort of racist rant.

Senator Grassley of Iowa proposed an amendment to the current senate bill that would have required that the federal government have control of the border with Mexico for six months before any other measures regarding the current illegals could go into effect.  Six months is not a long time, but Reuters reported that the Grassley amendment would "gut" the immigration bill.  Get it?  An attempt to have the bill actually say what many senators promised it would say is "gutting" the bill.

Once again, we are witnessing efforts to push through a bill before the actual content of that bill becomes known.  It is like Obamacare.  No one knew what was in that bill when it was passed.  Even Nancy Pelosi famously said that the House would have to pass the bill to find out what was in it. 

The polls show that by a margin of 4 to 1, Americans want the borders closed before anything is done to deal with the current illegals.  That's 80% support for that plan.  But the senate is ignoring the will of the people.  Instead, the senators are trying to sneak through a bill that starts with amnesty and ends with amnesty.  It is a disgrace.


The Open Mind of a Liberal Education

I was struck today by the dogmatic and closed minds produced by the liberal education of America's elite institutions.  Specifically, I saw a story about the reaction of a student columnist at Duke University who threatened a trustee of that school with "student action" if the trustee goes ahead in his private transactions with the sale of the Los Angeles Times to a company controlled by the Koch brothers. 

The most amazing thing about the student was his reason for making the threats.  Here it is in the words of the Duke student newspaper:

Spangher [the student] is personally opposed to the sale because the Koch brothers have given money to support scientific studies that will deny climate change. A group established by the brothers—The Koch Foundation—has been a significant funder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, which aims to address criticism of the planet’s temperature record.

Do you have that?  The Koch brothers established a foundation which in turn supports scientific research that undermines the basis for belief in climate change.  Let's ignore the connection through the foundation for now; that is bad enough.  Instead, let's focus on a college student at a supposedly enlightened institution who is upset that someone is funding SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH that might undermine his beliefs.

In many ways, this sounds much like the Catholic Church of the sixteenth century and its reaction to scientific research that said that the Earth orbited the Sun rather than having the Earth at the center of the universe.  Scientific research, by its very nature, is about the search for truth exposed as a result of experimentation and data collection.  This Duke neanderthal is upset that the truth to be discovered might conflict with the beliefs that he already holds.  It is the antithesis of an open mind.

So what does this paragon of liberal education do when his beliefs are threatened by science?  Does he use his intellect to review the data and find fault with the conclusions?  No.  Instead, he threatens "student action" against those who would fund such offending science.  This is the same closed mind set that allowed the IRS to target conservatives for holding beliefs contrary to those of the ruling group of the government. 

The truth is that Duke should act to support the original meaning of academic freedom.  This student, who threatens others with harm for funding scientific research, should be placed on probation.  If he continues on his course, he then should be expelled.  Of course, that is not likely to happen.  Indeed, much of the Duke faculty is of the same mindset as the student in question.  We saw that a few years back when the faculty ran to condemn the lacrosse players who were wrongfully accused of rape.

No wonder our educational system is failing.