Date ►►► August 31, 2013

Punting from the End Zone

Hatched by Korso

"This could be a long series of articles," said a certain ace reporter to her boss Perry White in the first Superman movie. "Making sense of senseless killings by Lois Lane." As I recall, Perry didn't care too much for the idea -- but I thought it might be a good time to resurrect it, only with a modern twist: Making Sense of Senseless Foreign Policy by Korso.

I didn't have to look too far for inspiration:

The president, in a surprise decision Saturday, announced he would seek a vote in Congress on launching a military attack against the Assad regime.

One senior State Department official, though, told Fox News that the president’s goal to take military action will indeed be carried out, regardless of whether Congress votes to approve the use of force.

Other senior administration officials said Obama is merely leaving the door open to that possibility. They say he would prefer that Congress approve a military attack on the Assad regime, in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons, and will wait to see what Congress does before making any final decisions on authorizing military force.

Everybody got that?

Admittedly, I had to read it a couple of times before it sank in-- but that only left me more confused, kind of like the one time I tried to watch Pink Floyd The Wall without the benefit of alcohol. Thankfully there was beer in the fridge, and after a wee heavy things actually started to make more sense. You see, the trick is to look at everything this administration does the same way the administration does -- i.e., through a political prism. Once you take that into account, you realize that the president isn't necessarily thinking about Syria in terms of what's best for national security and America's image in the world, but instead what's going to make Barack Obama look the least bad.

In a way, I can't really blame him for this one. In terms of Syria and its use of chemical weapons against their own people, we don't have any good options. Maybe we could have lobbed a couple of cruise missles at Bashar Assad back when he had first used those weapons, and that might have made him think twice about doing it again. But instead of taking action when it mattered, the administration dithered and projected weakness, ignoring its own bluster about "red lines" and letting Assad get away with it. From that point on, he had no reason to take Obama seriously. That tends to happen when you don't follow through on your threats.

So now we're faced with a situation where the only effective means to teach Syria a lesson is military action on a much bigger scale -- and guess what? No sane person in this country wants to jump hip-deep into yet another Middle Eastern basket case of a war, not with our heads still throbbing with a hangover from our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our president, while not the most astute observer of international relations, understands this -- which is why he doesn't want to get involved either. There's just that pesky business of those red lines, a corner that Obama now wishes he hadn't backed himself into.

So what's a guy left to do? Punt it to Congress, that's what!

Think about it from Obama's point of view. In the unlikely event that Congress approves a military action that 80% of the public doesn't want, he gets political cover for an unpopular decision; but in the far more likely event that they refuse, he can simply shrug and say that the decision was out of his hands. What's the press going to do? Point out the obvious contradiction with Obama's decision to act unilaterally in Libya? That would be a real hoot.

Of course, the official line renains that the administration reserves the right to use a military option even if Congress says no, but I seriously doubt that will happen -- and even if it does, the strikes will probably be so limited that they won't inflict any real damage on the Assad regime. To my mind, that would be worse than doing nothing at all -- a fact the British seem to have absorbed, hence the reason they're sitting this one out. On the other hand, Obama can claim another historical milestone: For the first time in over a century, America could head into battle without its closest ally. Way to go, Mr. President.

Hatched by Korso on this day, August 31, 2013, at the time of 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► August 29, 2013

Rampant and Irresponsible Speculations About a Millinery Action That Hasn't Even Happened Yet

Hatched by Dafydd

Suppose for the moment that President Barack "Leading from behind" Obama doesn't chicken out, and does order some half-vast strike on Syria, or on Syrian assets, or on the Syrian leadership, or on Syrian churches, synagogues, and monastaries, or (most likely) on a dozen tents -- with the object to hit several camels in the tokhes, doing it "one louder" than Obama's immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton *.

And suppose that such a strike has, as one of its consequences (no matter how long it may take), that chemical and biological weapons (CBW) inspectors are allowed into Syria. I pose these two questions:

  1. What percent of Bashar Assad's CBW will bear the distinctive markings of next-door Iraq, from the Saddam era?
  2. How long will it take for Obama for Hans Blix for Secretary General of the U.N. Nanki Poo to spraypaint over those markings using permanent and indelible paint?

Conspiring minds want to know!


* One of President B.O.'s recent executive orders formally removed the years 2001 through 2008 from official history. (I think they also made a commissar vanish.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 29, 2013, at the time of 3:47 PM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► August 24, 2013

...Because Usually, Something Beats Nothing

Hatched by Dafydd

Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard claims Republicans have actually been working, in secret, on a health-insurance bill, a "big replacement package" for Obamacare.

While a large majority hates the Avoidable Scare Affordable Care Act, they might still be queasy to "replace it" with "nothing" (as liberals put it), with the status quo ante we had in 2008. The only argument the Left has in favor of Obamacare -- other than "Isn't it great that we're thiiiis close to government-run socialized medicine?" -- is to say, "Republicans just want to go back to the bad old days, when thirty million people died every year from a severe lack of government medicine!"

Sadly, such non-argument arguments still sway a disturbingly large percent of voters. But if the GOP can produce an understandable, believable plan by early 2014, one that resolves the main problems (rightly or wrongly) perceived prior to Obamacare, it might dramatically improve Republican chances in the midterm election and subsequent insurance wars.

We'll see what they come up with, but I'm hopeful: As a good-faith start, I woud like to see the following problems addressed:

  • Insurance portability from job to job -- Probably the biggest fear is that when an employee is laid off (in a bad economy like this), and he suddenly loses his health insurance too, just when he doesn't have the money to buy private insurance.
  • Pre-existing conditions -- If that's not addressed, more and more Americans will find themselves shoved completely out of the insurance regime. That would be disaster. Maybe some combination of phasing in pre-existing condition coverage and implementing "assigned risk" pools similar to those for bad drivers.
  • Insurance-plan choice -- All we are saying... is give Capitalism a chance! Stop the federales and state bureaucrats from throwing roadblocks and rent-seekers in between sellers and buyers.
  • Tort reform of medical malpractice and other health-related litigation -- This is vital to reduce the overall cost of health care. Get rid of the bogus lawsuits, the high-paid "expert" witnesses (who say whatever their plaintiff bosses tell them to say), defendants going bankrupt even when they win the lawsuit, threats against medical device manufacturers, and the skyrocketing med-mal insurance premiums, and you'll have a much cheaper health-care system. That helps everybody (except trial lawyers).
  • And the rational but problematical insurance rejection by young adults -- Offer incentives (both carrot and stick) that make it financially attractive for the young to buy some kind of high-deductable catastrophic care coupled with a medical savings account. As they age, they'll probably want more expensive and inclusive coverage.

I would love to see something like this; it would really help both those who currently have insurance and also those who don't, and who worry what might happen if they're injuried skiing or contract a devastating disease even at a young age. And when we address those issues -- which we can do piecemeal, one "issue" at a time -- that will virtually eliminate pressure to vote for a one-size-fits-none comprehensive health-care boondoggle, like Obamacare.

Then we can repeal that Obamunist monstrosity, and everybody will feel more secure. Everybody but dyed in the wool socialists, that is.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 24, 2013, at the time of 2:18 AM | Comments (3)

Date ►►► August 21, 2013

Employment Embolisms

Hatched by Dafydd

This will be interesting to watch. Gallup, which tracks unemployment by periodically polling about 30,000 respondents, just caught a great leap backwards: Unemployment jumped from 7.7% on July 21st to (deep breath) 8.9% today.

That's got to hurt.

Typically, they match pretty well with the Labor Department's own unemployment figures. For example, at the end of July, Labor had 7.4% unemployed, while Gallup had 7.8%.

The even more interesting question is how much of this big increase in unemployment is due to Obamacare, with so many companies shedding jobs due to skyrocketing health-care costs, and due to dropping worker hours below the critical thirty per week, to avoid having to offer employees health insurance.

That's got to hurt double!

There are three distinct possibilities going forward:

  • The Obamunist numbers come in wildly better than the Gallup numbers, creating an extraordinary gap that has almost never been seen before; the gap is dismissed by Presidential Prevaricator Jay Carney as a "phony scandal."
  • After top executives of the Gallup organization are summoned to la Casa Blanca, Gallup issues revised results that perfectly match the Obama numbers. Barack "Forward to the Past" Obama blames the Koch brothers for the obvious sabotage.
  • The Obama administration admits a huge jump in unemployment and underemployment, proving their economic plan is in ruins...

As I said, there are two distinct possibilities going forward...!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 21, 2013, at the time of 6:06 PM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► August 14, 2013

Tears of a Clown

Hatched by Korso

In a sane country, this story would have appeared as a feature in The Onion:

Rodeo clowns asked to take ‘sensitivity training’

Alas, we live in America, where the juxtaposition of racial and presidential politics has taken us to a bizarro land the likes of which haven't been seen since H.R. Pufnstuf went off the air. Look on the bright side, though -- at least we can take heart that soon, we'll get back to the kind of sly, incisive political commentary we've come to expect from the rodeo clown establishment.

Hatched by Korso on this day, August 14, 2013, at the time of 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► August 11, 2013

Would I Lie to You?

Hatched by Korso

One of my favorite scenes from the Tim Buton's first Batman film is when the Joker lures the good citizens of Gotham out to the streets with a wild parade and the promise of millions in cash. True to his word, he delivers as promised -- and poses a question to the crowd:

Who do you trust, indeed?

Rather the same can be said of the Obama administration. Not that Barry O is looking to slap a permanent smile on everyone's faces -- at least not the way the Joker would have it -- but his approach to the public has been somewhat simlilar. After throwing trillions of tax dollars at the public with promises of job growth, free health care and security for all, the country does seem to have very little to show for it. To wit, the "stimulus" amounted to little more than a public-sector union payoff. Obamacare, on the other hand, hasn't even implemented its death panels yet but has already proven to be an effective killer of full-time jobs. As for national security -- well, let's just say that Edward Snowden's revelations are the least of Obama's problems, what with Al Qaeda making us flee our embassies in the Middle East faster than businesses getting out of Detroit.

Add to that the ever-expanding IRS brouhaha and the lies about Benghazi, what you have here is a serious breach of trust -- and that presents a real problem for Obama, who has relied on his speechmaking along with a compliant press to maintain the facade that he's a stand-up guy. I think that's why the business with Snowden is so devastating, not to mention dangerous.

How so? Well, coming at the end of a long list of scandals, even Obama acolytes are starting to become less inclined to believe the president when he says that the NSA isn't spying on ordinary Americans. After all, an administration that would sic the IRS on its political enemies hasn't exactly earned the benefit of the doubt -- and it isn't that a big stretch to suggest that perhaps it might use intelligence gathered by the NSA for political purposes.

And here's where the dangerous part comes in. Knowing what I do about the NSA, I happen to believe that what they're doing is vital to the national security interests of the United States. I also happen to believe that Snowden, far from performing a public service, has actually placed this country in great peril with his shenanigans. The problem is that the Obama administration has so abused its powers that nobody has any reason to believe the president when he assures us that this time, everything is on the up and up. The end result, unfortunately, will be a constrained intelligence apparatus that can't do what it needs to do -- and that will, at some point, lead to an increased risk of terrorist attacks.

That's what happens when you lie first, and worry about the consequences later.

Hatched by Korso on this day, August 11, 2013, at the time of 1:00 PM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► August 8, 2013

Run Away, Run Away!

Hatched by Dafydd

"Congressional leaders agree on drastic response to al Qaeda terrorist threat"

Well there's something on which we can all agree: When the resurgent al-Qaeda threatens a massive terrorist attack against the United States, we had better initiate a drastic response! And about time.

Alas, the "drastic response" Congress and the Barack H. Obama administration have in mind is for the United States to flee the MIddle East, shutting down all our embassies and consulates across all the hot spots threatened by al Qaeda -- a.k.a., the strong horse:

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said that more than 25 of the country’s embassies around the world are particularly vulnerable, according to a briefing senators recently received from Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

“We need to know and realize we’re living in an increasingly dangerous world, and this specific threat that we’ve been briefed on over and over again has reached a new level,” Mr. Durbin said.

The U.S. posts that will remain closed for the week include embassies and consulates in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

I don't know how they missed Iraq, Dubai, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands; don't they deserve a panicked rout as well?

What exactly do they mean by saying our diplomatic missions will be "closed?" Does that mean they will be completely deserted? Left with an undefended skeleton crew? Turned over to native Mohammedans? Any way you slice it, it means that whatever level of "security" existed before the closure, it will necessarily be significantly degraded during the closure.

So let's think this through. By evacuating and shuttering the embassies, to whatever extent we do, we lower the risk of another Behghzai during closure; if all the top officials leave, none will be left to be slain by terrorists.

But on the other hand, by withdrawing all security and leaving the buildings defenseless (or defended by the natives who mostly dislike us anyway), al-Qaeda can roll over as many abandoned embassies and consulates as they please, even burning them to ashes. And then what? When President B.O. finally feels embolded enough to attempt to reoccupy said embassies -- where exactly will we go, if the physical structures have been razed? Any temporary or substitute diplomatic mission will of necessity be even less secure than the ones we will have given up.

(For that matter, al-Qaeda could leave the buildings intact, but booby-trap them, or bury huge bombs to be exploded after the boot-quaking Americans retuirn.)

So even if terrorists can't kill American embassy officials (or not right away), they nevertheless can force us out of that vital region: Our "temporary" vacation from the Middle East could turn into a permanent exodus back into Fortress America. And Paulite left-libertarians to the contrary notwithstanding, we cannot defend the homeland -- solely from within the homeland.

Without a forward deployment, without the capability of going on the offense against our enemies, without strongholds in every potential battleground, the vaunted "Fortress America" will crumble in the onslaught. We fight them in Yemen and Iraq so we don't have to fight them in Minneapolis and Los Angeles. If we withdraw within our own little fortress of solitude, the entire American homeland will become al-Qaeda's playground.

Funnily enough, the only senator speaking out against a cowards' march out of Arabia is the evil Republican "neocon," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 92%):

Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that shutting down the embassies and consulates was the right move in light of the intelligence.

But Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, cautioned against allowing the United States to be driven out of the Middle East completely, as resurgent elements of the global al Qaeda network reconstitute themselves in the volatile region.

"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in Iraq, al-Nusra, all of them have one thing in common: They want to drive the West out of the Mideast and take over these Muslim countries and create an al Qaeda-type religious entity in the place of what exists today," Mr. Graham said on CNN’s "State of the Union." "So this is an effort to terrorize us, to drive us out of the Mideast."

Has it occurred to anyone in the present administration or in Congress -- other than Lindsay the Bold -- that instead of running, we might try using some of that standing military we seem to support?

Bill Kristol puts it all in a nuthouse:

Four years ago President Obama gave a much heralded speech as outreach to the Muslim world," Kristol said during a panel discussion. "And now, four years later we are closing embassies throughout the Muslim world. A year ago, the president said al-Qaida is on the run. And now we seem to be on the run.

Miss W. yet?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 8, 2013, at the time of 1:09 PM | Comments (2)

Look! The Sun! Look At the Sun!

Hatched by Dafydd

Magnetic Field of Sun to Flip

Women, minorities hardest hit

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 8, 2013, at the time of 2:12 AM | Comments (0)

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