Friday, November 30, 2012
Now, we have to work up some story since the rover decided to beam images of the beads back to Earth.
A couple of Supreme Court victories and a bunch of unbiased social studies later, the most astonishing sign is a growing number of liberal pundits accept firearms are here to stay. For the most part, they are using the same arguments conservatives are! Who know what will follow?
Illinois is the only state in the nation that legally prohibits concealed carry, although there are no shortage of legal ways to keep a firearm near you at most times. In response to this, numerous legislators long ago started an annual drive to legalize concealed carry in the Land of Lincoln, and each year put forth a bill to that effect; each year, its margin of defeat grows ever closer, and last year it was so close that gun control advocates became alarmed. Indeed, the growing expectation is that the Illinois congress will pass it this time.
Our third idiot governor in a row, Patrick Quinn, who continuously takes the wrong position on everything (to the point that many Democrats oppose him as wel) has repeatedly stipulated that he will veto any such bill that comes before him. In response, the prosecutors of a few counties in Illinois announced that they were going to stop prosecuting all cases of concealed carry.
|Hey, if you want to be this silly with your M1911, the Czar says go for it. And, it seems, a growing number of liberals will agree. Welcome!|
The number of county prosecutors announcing a refusal to prosecute concealed carry cases has about doubled now from the original five. And Governor Quinn is hopping mad about it because when prosecutors start obeying the will of the people instead of the will of the governor, well, shucks. Whats the point of having a weak state constitution and an inept governor to enforce it, then?
The Czar does not enjoy that part of the story, by the way: prosecutors should do their damn job, and if you dont like your governor, you replace him. Quinn, who is a complete toolexcept tools generally have some purposewas re-elected in 2010. So there you go. Take it up with the voters.
But the part of the story that amuses us is someone elses reaction: Chicagos perpetually offensive Father Michael Pfleger. The way-too-unbusy priest sees a television camera and immediately dives in front of it. Now, Pfleger has returned to one of his favorite crusades: gun control. He has been much in the news lately, screaming to anyone that likes attention whores that concealed carry must not pass in Illinois. His argument: has anyone seen how bad gun violence is in Chicago, and you want to make guns more available?
A curious argument indeed. As you likely know, Chicago gun violence is seriously out of control. As of about now, more than 400 people have been killed in Chicago since January, the majority of which are shooting victims.
But hold on: none of those victims appear to have been armed. In fact, it appears that all the gun violence was caused by a few dozen people against hundreds. The problem isnt widespreadonly the victims are.
Second, where is the parallel? 49 states have concealed carry now, most recently was Wisconsin. 49 states are not seeing a massive rise in homicide, including Wisconsin. Indeed, violent crimes that can be resolved by shooting situations are dropping. Indeed, the NRA and others have begun keeping track of shooting solutions (both which end well or end badly for the victim), and the positive news is overwhelming the negative news. Guns work.
Third, what then makes Chicago unique? Well, it resides in Illinois, which prohibits concealed carry (you know, to protect residents from handgun violence). Next, it resides in Cook County which makes defensive handguns outrageously expensive to own and operate (you know, to protect residents from handgun violence). Finally, it is Chicago, which illegally prohibits ownership of handguns (you know, to protect residents from handgun violence). So how are we doing on that protection?
In some respects, getting a firearm in Chicago has never been harder. The weapons in general are heavily taxed, there are no ranges to shoot them, and getting ammunition for them is difficult, and handguns are still, pace Heller, de facto forbidden. Indeed, handguns are for the most part completely unobtainable by a law-abiding person: truly the liberal dream.
But this is a binary topic: you need only look at the homicide rate to see if this is working or not. And it is not. And for Governor Quinn, Fr. Pfleger, or any of the Cook County officials to pretend otherwise is pure fantasy. Your dreams of gun control have come true: just like Mexico, where there is 100% gun control! Homicides are epidemic. It isnt working.
Meanwhile, in every other area of Illinois where guns are more commonand you can own just about anything you likecrime is also at a record low. Huh.
So while the Chicago-based politicians wax and froth about needing more gun laws, they cannot effectively articulate what more they could possibly want to forbid. And lots of people keep dying. But hey, Chicagotake it to the voters. You elected these chumps, too.
First, there are groups of people that say that the whole "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year is artificial and we shouldn't be this worked up about it. The cliff and its end of 2012 timeline were created by President Obama and the 2010 Congress when they agreed to extending the 2001 and 2003 tax rate policies. President Obama owns this issue as much or more so (in his role as President) than any GOP member. The President needs to lead on this issue and get a solution agreed upon by both sides. Blaming a group without serious attempts at negotiating a compromise is not leadership.
Second, the reason this is such an issue is that both sides have used attacks on their stance as political devices against their opponents. Bear with me through this. The GOP will accuse any attempt at a cut to the defense budget as impacting our national security. To a degree, this is true. Having worked in and around the defense and intelligence sector of the federal government for 20 years, there are programs and efforts that could be trimmed and made more efficient. Other parts of the federal government are equally wasteful and could use a trim. The concern to those of us hearing plans that include cuts like this are that the implementation will be broad-brushed and not surgical. While surgical would take longer to execute, it would be better in the long run. There are defense and intelligence organizations who are looking in a bottom-up approach at how they are spending their budgets and does it make sense. We need more of this and bubble up the results so intelligent decisions can be made on how to allocate agency-level funding.
On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats will demonize anyone that wants to touch Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. However, it's easy to see that these entitlement programs are at the root of the fiscal problems facing our country. Discretionary spending (including the defense & intelligent budget) is about a third of federal spending. $2.293 Trillion will be spent by the federal government in mandatory programs - 88% of which are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and associated programs. Keep in mind, the estimate federal revenue for FY13 is $2.9 Trillion. Do you see the problem? The mandatory spending consumes almost all (and depending on variations in the tax revenue can consume all) of the federal tax revenue. This is why kicking the can down the road by fighting for increased tax revenue that the NY Times reports economists estimate to be $850 Billion over 10 years. Let's be generous and say that the revenue is evenly spread over those 10 years making the revenue from the expiration of the tax rate reductions on the wealthy for the fiscal year about $85 Billion. If we apply that kind of increase to the federal revenues for FY13, we can easily see that federal revenues would rise to $2.985 Trillion and federal mandatory spending would be $2.1 Trillion leaving $692 Billion for the discretionary spending that, in FY13, has a Congressional cap of $1.047 Trillion (although, House Republicans are using a cap of $1.028 Trillion that was passed in their March FY13 Budget Resolution) and budgets have planned (ignoring the caps, I guess) $1.510 Trillion.
Do the math and it's pretty simple to see that unless we effectively shutdown about two-thirds of the discretionary funded federal government programs, we have a deficit that will only continue to add to the national debt. Now, both sides posture as to having increased economic output and they both agree that more jobs means more taxpayers and therefore more federal tax revenue. They will differ in their projections of economic growth but we would need some significant growth in the near term to erase this kind of difference. To put some numbers in perspective, if the federal government confiscated the recent $587.5 Million Powerball jackpot, it would hardly put a dent in these numbers and only contribute 87 minutes of federal government operation.
We need to address the mandatory spending side of the federal government NOW. And it's largely going to affect my generation and the ones behind us but it needs to be done.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
The GOP has acknowledged that they are open for negotiations that would include additional tax-based revenue*. In true form following President Obama's call for working together to address these problems, the Democrats have offered to raise taxes on the wealthy and consider, at a later time, longer term solutions to debt reductions. Huh? Hey, Mr. President, Sen. Reid, Rep. Pelosi, guess what - the math doesn't work. In addition to the increase in tax revenue that they expect to get from the expiration of 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, it is expected that the Democrats will work to get an increase in the debt ceiling. Let me translate that: the debt is going to go UP not down with this increased tax revenue. How is this even considered a reasonable attempt at addressing the country's problems?
Jay Carney characterized President Obama's (incomplete) plan as "pragmatic". Someone in the press corps room should pass Mr. Carney a dictionary. It is not practical to leave federal spending unaddressed and just attempt to raise the revenue side. There are plenty of liberals out there that agree we need to cut spending. We might differ in where in the federal budget cuts should be made but there is large support nationwide that federal spending cuts must be made.
Senator Reid said Democrats are still waiting for a reasonable proposal from Republicans on how to avoid a potential financial meltdown. Excuse me but as many pundits on the left are saying, Obama won and the Democrats held the Senate, so why aren't they leading this? Is this another example of the Democrats "leading from behind." The White House on Thursday called Boehner's demand that any increase in debt limit be matched in cuts "irresponsible." Someone needs to explain to me why that would be irresponsible. Please? Anyone?
Let me make it simple:
- The GOP is looking to address the issue now with a bent towards keeping taxes low.
- Democrats are looking to increase federal tax revenue and ignore the spending issue.
* I'm sure the GOP is using this language intentionally to angle for limiting deductions, closing loopholes, and other means of increasing tax-based revenue without raising tax rates.
Under Act 2, any public school student in the state attending a public school that is rated "C," "D" or "F" by the state education department can apply to receive a voucher that can be used at any approved educational institution in the state, including religiously affiliated schools. Eligibility is limited to students from families earning less than 250% of the federal poverty level each year.
To 'Puter, Louisiana's efforts are worthy of praise. 'Puter's railed in the past about segregated (by income) education being one the last great civil rights issue. Let's state it clearly. If you have the misfortune to be born poor, your odds of receiving even an average education are about the same as winning a Powerball jackpot. Louisiana knows this and is doing something about it.
If you're a poor kid in Louisiana, damned by fate of birth to an unacceptable "education" administered through piss-poor teachers in dangerous schools (due to both attendees and lack of maintenance), Gov. Jindal and the legislature have given you a chance. You can tell your local school to take their textbooks and shove them where the sun don't shine, and walk with enough money to go to a better school, even a Catholic school.
Awesome, right? Not if you're the Louisiana State Teachers' Union. Not if you're a local school board. Kids' futures be damned, they say. Keep the kids right where they are, in sub-performing or failed schools. In fact, these asshats have actually sued the state to prevent children from escaping their local gulag of "learning."
You heard 'Puter right. Teachers' unions have sued Louisiana to prevent poor students from access to a good education. It's that simple.
"But what's their motive, 'Puter? We all know teachers are the bestest, most nicest people in the whole big wide universal thingy, right? Some teachers even go that extra mile, meeting with students after school, or even during school, to provide one-on-one tutoring on human reproduction."
Unions only care about one thing: money. Well, that's not exactly true. Unions care about power as well, but that flows from money. Therefore, teachers' unions only care about school kids because kids equal money. Butts behind desks equals money in their wallets, and money to buy more politicians.
|Louisiana's state teachers' union executive|
committee holds a board meeting to discuss
its response to Louisiana's educational voucher
program. Randi Weingarten was late.
Individual teachers care about your kids and their education. Teachers unions don't. In fact, teachers' unions are more than willing to throw your kids under the school bus if it means fewer days worked for higher pay for their members.
'Puter suggest the following approach. Let's insist the court apply the same legal standard it would in a domestic or family court proceeding. That is, the court should determine what's in the best interest of the child or children involved.*
'Puter, arguing as an amicus curiae, would simply pose this question to the presiding judge. "Are Louisiana's children attending failed or failing schools better off remaining in those schools, or are they better served by attending higher performing schools elsewhere?"
As a follow up, 'Puter would simply state that the unions are asking the court to hold as matter of law that teachers' unions' grown members' monetary interests trump the interest of Louisiana's children in an adequate, never mind exceptional, education.
It really is that simple.
*N.B. 'Puter hates this B.S. so-called legal standard. "Best interest of the child" is so squishy it's an invitation to legislate from the bench. One judge may believe child support should include sums sufficient to keep kids in Gucci and Prada, carrying the latest iWhatever, while a second judge may think that if Sears Toughskins and VanCamp's Beenie-Weenie was good enough for her, they're good enough for the kids. 'Puter's just using this liberal-sociological piece of horseshit because it's Schadenfreude-licious to hear liberals scream when they're held to their own standard.
|McDonald's fries went downhill when they moved to Canola Oil|
That being said, he loves French Fries. Mrs. Dr. J. prefers he order the fruit kebab poolside at New Atlantis Country Club, but on occasion, he has to indulge, especially if it is somewhere where the fries are divine.
Here in New Atlantis, Bobbie's Dairy Dip is a city landmark and the truth is that you can't go there and not get the fries. They are cooked Belgian style (fried twice) and compliment a twist frozen custard nicely.
A restaurant called Burger Up, known for their high end burgers also makes some mean truffled french fries.
For a chain, Five Guys does a good job as well.
If you move north to Philadelphia, a Belgian restaurant called Monk's Cafe was notorious for great mussels, Belgian drafts, and fries. It was a frequent haunt of Dr. J.'s when he was a resident.
Dr. J. brings this up because a Facebook friend (not Spooky Witchy Facebook Friend, but a friend of a friend friend) linked to this article in Travel in Leisure.
They cover a number of places across the country, but none of Dr. J.'s haunts, surprisingly.
Enjoy your fries, before Michelle Obama and Michael Bloomberg crack down.
Before Dr. J. could get cracking, The Czar penned this interoffice memo:
Here is what the Czar does.
He goes to Wal-Mart or Target and purchases the nice, typical first aid kit in the water-tight white box with FIRST AID emblazoned on it.
Then he takes it home and throws away all the cheap Chinese bandages, novelty items (smelling salts? Really? And ibuprofen packets?) and keeps the box.
Then he packs it with trauma-oriented gear:
Medical scissors (stainless steel) for cutting bandages and clothing. Stainless steel lets you clean them in the dishwasher if they get used.
A folding knife (stainless) for cutting heavier cloth and even seat belts. The butt can be used to break windows on locked car doors.
Stainless steel tweezers
Latex gloves in your size
Both white waterproof tape and Coban-type for compression bandages.
3" x 5" bandages
A variety of band-aids of different sizes, from small (kid fingers) to large adult sizes to big honkers for burns and scrapes. Try to get 6 of each.
Zip-loc bags, quart size. These are essential for irrigation (fill with water, poke a hole, and squeeze to flush wounds to clear out dirt, grime, and sand.
They can also be used (seriously) to collect teeth, severed finger tips, or other leave-behinds so the surgical hospital can reattach.
Chemical packets that produce cold when cracked.
3" x 3" sterile gauze pads
4" x 4" sterile gauze pads
Aquaphor or stronger antibiotics.
Then, the Czar suggests you pack one of these for each vehicle.
Then, replace most of this each year: antibiotics typically fail first due to temperature extremes. Bandages decompose subtly after 18 months. Latex gloves degrade as well. Basically, the stainless steel gear and the plastic bags are all one keeps for years. It is essential that you rotate this stock out in every vehicle.
Home first aid kits should be much more extensive and have a larger variety of bandage sizes, cold and flu stuff, burn kits, etc.
We keep one in the kitchen (near the door to the exterior for fast access) and the second floor.
The Czar recommends a smaller subset for hiking and travel.
We have a small waterproof kit that fits in a backpack and contains basically the same stuff as the vehicle kit, but in fewer quantities.
Do not confuse first aid kits with personal survival kits [ed. PSK's].
That is a larger subject, but keep one in your disaster-go-to-place at home as well as the trunk of the car. Your car kit should be different from your home kit for obvious reasons. Do not mix PSKs with first aid kits: they serve two different functions and you want to keep them separate. No matter what you elect to keep in a PSK, never ever include anything that you do not know how to use in the dark with one hand.Fred,
The Czar covered the bulk of it. I do, however feel some things should be added to the first aid kit. They add bulk, and weight, but if it is for the home or the car, it should be fine. A hiking grade kit should be lighter.
Dr. J. recommends the following over the counter medications:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sterile saline in bottles - Dr. J. likes to irrigate with something sterile rather than something clean.
- Bacitracin (triple-antibiotic) ointment
- Antiseptic spray
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Aspirin (at least 325 milligrams, preferably chewable)
- Glucose (for hypoglycemic attacks)
- Pepto Bismol, if you think 'Puter will be requiring use of your First Aid Kit
He would also recommend the addition of the following hardware:
- Sterile low gauge (thick) needles - to puncture holes in above saline bottle.
- CPR mouthpiece (if CPR certified, which you should be).
- Waterproof matches and a candle
|She has Dr. J.'s vote.|
While many have screamed 'eleventy' over the nominaton, Dr. J. finds it a fitting punctuation mark to the year known as 2012. Ms. Fluke is the perfect storm of what is wrong with the progressive movement, the academy, the millenial generation, and, as was made evident by the 2012 election, over one half of the electorate.
Specifically the worldview of the typical American has had shifted substantially leftward and away from the the center-Right American ideals. And for those of you who disagree with the notion that the American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, limited government, fiscal responsibility and self-determination transcend political divides, please refer to the hate spewed by the left at Tea Party types, and those who succeeded by the sweat of their brow.
Now, a large swath of Americans, including those of means to provide for themselves, feel, much like Sally Brown in the Peanuts Christmas Special, "wanting what's coming to them, wanting their fair share.' Dr. J. has a cardiologist colleague (aka 1%er) who's previous employer was a Catholic hospital in New Atlantis. When Dr. J. asked him how he thought the Catholic hospital was going to comply with the HHS mandate he intimated that he felt that the hospital was stupid for making his wife pay for her own birth control when other employer insurance plans cover it. When Dr. J. said that the hospital was run by the Catholic Church who shouldn't pay for an elective treatment (and contraception and abortions ARE elective, mind you) that violates its tenets, he makes over six figures, AND contraception treats physiology, and not pathology, he just shrugged and said that he just thinks he shouldn't have to pay anymore than he already does especially since its supposed to be free now. #headdesk
|Sally, the first Julia.|
|Julia was the name of the party aparatichik in 1984. Coincidence?|
Because Obama got his wish and has fundamentally transformed America, he seems the most likely Time MotY nominee, but he couldn't have done it without Sandra Fluke and millions of Julias (and Julios) following her off the fiscal cliff.
And already this morning, the Czars jaws dropped to see not one but two (possibly three) media pundits wonder if the United States government should run a Federal lottery to help pay down the debt.
After all, they suggest, $600 million is a lot of money. Imagine how fast you could pay our debt down with that kind of scratch.
Um, are you that totally ignorant? Could you possibly put down your Iron Man action figure long enough to pay attention to how bad our debt is?
Our debt is already approaching $16 and a half trillion dollars. Remember when a couple of you newsies bothered to mention that our debt hit an even $16 trillion last summer? We are well on our way to $17 trillion already.
And the thing with debt is that it snowballs, morons. The time it will take to hit $17 trillion from 16 trillion will be a lot less than the time it took to go from $15 trillion to 16 trillion. And so on, until we are putting up another trillion bucks every 8 weeks or so.
So your proposal is to use a lottery system which produces a half billion dollars every...well, in fact, this is the first time it has. Using a half billion dollars to pay down seventeen trillion dollars is like this. See if you liberal media eggheads can follow along.
A guy owes you seventeen hundred dollars and you really need it back. You ask him about it and say he needs to pay you back by the end of the week. So his buddy, who is standing right there, suggests he buy a raffle ticketfrom youin which he could possibly win 5 cents from you to pay it back.
How many times would he need to win your lottery each time he played it? Thats right, 34,000 times.
Would you take the deal? Or would you ask this guy to step outside while you broke your buddys wrist?
Know how you stop a hurricane? You dont. You wait for it to hit dry land, which cuts off its supply of warm water. This kills the massive convection engine that creates the damage. With a massive debt problem, you cut the spending which drives it.
No matter how hard the liberal media wants to pretend otherwise, as they pick up their Iron Man action figures to get back to playing, the only way to stop the insane debt is to stop the spending. Adding more revenue, either involuntarily through taxation or voluntarily through a lottery system, is never going to work...any more than you would be willing to foot the cost for a raffle prize to pay you back a sliver of what your buddy owes.
The instant we saw that idea floateda national lottery, which would of course starve out existing lotteries that pay for local costs within a communitythe more realize you dopes still dont get how money works.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
As you probably heard, Angus Jones has recently become some flavor of over-the-top Christian, and like many recently converted under-thirty-year-olds, is lashing out at everything in his life. As you certainly heard, this includes his own television show. By now you have read the quotes in which he advises people to stop watching the show due to its filth content.
The entertainment media is making good hay out of this because (a) he is absolutely right and (b) because he is a Christian, we can kind of make fun of him for it. So while his anti-anti-values message is getting across, the media are portraying this as a whimsical adventure for another kooky (probably anti-pro-choice) Christian. Ha! What a beleagured show, they might agree, if any of them knew what that word meant.
The Czar thought that Two and a Half Men should have been axed years ago, even before Charlie Sheen left. In fact, pretty much every television should should be whacked after four to five years; make about 100 episodes, get them into distribution, and make a pile of money for everybody of residuals. Most shows, including the once incredible The Simpsons cannot go more than seven years without turning into crap.
So yes, Mr. Jones is correct when he describes his show as filth. Completely bereft of fresh ideas, the show changed in about 2008 from some fairly clever Odd Couple remakes commenting on social culture to a junior high-level cheap laugh show revolving around sex. It got unfunny fast, especially when every plot became a variation of the same theme.
But this is the norm on network television. The Czar actually doesnt care if you love or hate Two and a Half Men, and thinks you can watch it if you want. He further agrees with Angus Jones on the shows content, but disagrees with Mr. Jones obvious hypocrisy in condemning a show that pays him a handsome salary at the same time. Nor does he support Mr. Jones advising you not to watch it; thats your business, not his.
The Czar is getting annoyed with the ongoing Two and a Half Men-ization of network comedies, some of whom are trying to grab Two and a Half Mens fleeing audience by emulating the show in style and content. Hey, if you want to have a show like that on your network, by all means. God knows CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC have no clue to how program successful television comedies, and when they do coincidentally get one, they overrun it and kill it.
What annoys the Czar is when hes watching football with the family, or another family-themed program, and finds the family treated with promotional commercials for the networks edgy comedies, in which the whole brood of all ages is treated to throw-away lines involving menstruation, homosexuality, masturbation, promiscuity, teen sex, unprotected sex, and pubertyall in the same commercial break.
Day after day, week after week, the same types of ads. Okay, we shout, We get it. Your show is about sex. It is evidently only about sex. It is not even clever or funny or witty or observant about sex; it is purely giggling 12-year-old cheap shots about sex.
And heres the kicker; didnt we spend the last two decades trying to convince everybody that sex wasnt dirty? The Czar sure thought so, and was happy to learn we could move on to bigger and better things. But evidently network television doesnt think so. To watch their promotional advertisements for the current crop of sitcoms, you have to assume the executives are behind the garage with a couple of dads old Playboys trying to figure out what else is behind the crossed arms and knees while giggling.
Once again, we are compelled to say that the 1990s Beavis and Butthead was a dire warning to parents everywhere about the future. Because thats who is now in charge. Sigh.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Regarding Europe, the 'One World Government Utopians' would be the first to tell you that we are destined to be a united world with a single government. For sources, they will site Gene Rodenberry, Aldous Huxley and Sir Thomas More. In other words, fiction writers. Even J. Michael Strazinsky, the creator or Babylon 5 was sufficiently pragmatic as to suggest that even in the future, humans build communities plural. While EarthGov was essentially a foreign policy arm, there were multiple nation states that ultimately included its former colonies on Mars, Proxima Centauri and B5 itself. Dr. J anticipates that the E.U. will wither on the vine, become castrated, however it won't ever disappear (think the metric system in the US).
Go to a college cafeteria. Folks say hi to each other in line, or coming and going, but who do they sit with? Typically folks like themselves. Bender Dorm folk with Bender Dorm folk. Athletes with athletes, roommates with roommates, Pikes with Pikes, Kappas with Kappas, A Capella singers with A Capella singers, Asian-Americans with Asian-Americans. These aren't hard and fast rules, but think back to your college days. Indeed back at Ivy University, Dr. J. decided to sit with two (Asian-American) South Jersey chums. While we were dining, a number of their Asian-American friends of his chums sat and joined us. One particularly obnoxious guy (who went to high school 5 miles from Dr. J.) said, "How do you like being the only white guy at the table?"
Dr. J. replied, "I hadn't noticed until now, thanks for pointing it out. Would you like me to leave?"
He was silenced and Dr. J. went back to hanging out with other varsity letter winners moving forward.
Besides, smaller states are easier to manage than large nation states if one wants to maintain a certain degree of freedom for its citizenry.
Regarding Syria, Dr J. agrees that we need to stay out. Really, Dr. J. is fairly isolationist unless we have a clear goal, can utilize overwhelming firepower and it serves our nation's interests. Liberating Kuwait was the right thing to do. Liberating Europe was the right thing to do. Laying the smackdown on the Taliban was the right thing to do. We probably should have wished Karzai good luck a while back, but still the initial foray. Iraq, we can quibble, but if only to get it off of our plate (no fly zones and such are a pain to maintain and cripple us with regard to being able to project power) it may or may not have been a good idea. Iraq, as it stands, is better off than the product we got in Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and even Turkey courtesy of the Arab Spring. We didn't expect a proxy-war with Iran, but as you can see, the Middle-East is and always has been a hot mess. We care because of oil. If we were energy independent which should have been a goal for the last 30 years, we could say to the Middle East, "A pox on [all] your houses, just leave Israel the hell alone or deal with us." If we weren't debt laden, we wouldn't have to worry about China as an economic power run with our dollars and slave labor, and could take the moral high ground. If our economy were vibrant and dynamic rather than stagnating under tightening regulations and taxes, private citizens and a responsible government would have more wealth with which to useful good for the poor of the world.
In other words, we have to clean up our house before we can have a private and government foreign policy with any sort of moral clarity and sense of purpose.
Back to your regularly scheduled pony break, the Lil Resident insisted:
Also, Island Dweller writes in to...dunno...something about Syria and his Esteemed Associate.
Most illustrious majesty:If only Europe was better run, they too could derive some energy independence and make the Middle East unimportant; heck, the Middle East could become solely Chinas problem. Lets ask the Uighurs and Tibetans how well that works out for their clients.
ID and EA (hey, there's an acronym for you - IDEA!) have reviewed your last posted missive re: Syria with some interest, as it is a subject we discuss with some regularity. We believe there is one other factor to be considered and, oddly enough, it has nothing to do with stability and in fact argues against it.
Syria is very much a client state of Iran. Hezbollah (they may call themselves "Lebanese," but rest assured they are Iranian in all but name) is in Syria in force, whether by active or reluctant consent from Assad. They have brought with them a massive arsenal of short- and medium-range rockets for use against Israel. Who knows what kind of warheads are on those missiles? We can venture a pretty accurate guess by saying that in turn has something to do with Saddam Hussein's WMDs, that went to Syria via truck convoy just prior to Gulf War II. At any rate, the Russians have cynically but realistically figured out it's in their interest to keep Assad in power, or at least fighting to retain it, rather than foster something new.
Containable internal unrest and instability in Syria means continued relative peace in the neighborhood as everyone inside Syria is busy killing each other - not Israelis, Turks, Iraqis, Lebanese, or any other nationality - including Russia's neighbors. A peaceful Syria with Assad in power means, however, Hezbollah shooting at Israel and other nations sooner rather than later. We agree with Dr. J - with only one exception, there are no good guys or bad guys in the Middle East - there are just "guys." Intervention in Syria is not worth the bones of one British grenadier - or Marine or soldier, either. Energy independence can't come too soon.
ID & EA
Obviously, you and Esteemed Associate are right on this one: the problem with Syria may not be Syria as much as everybody else there. But evidently you are right; let us continue to stay away for as long as we can.
Monday, November 26, 2012
While I agree that it is, as Dinesh D'Souza postulates in a news clip used in the film, another view of Obama (from the anti-colonialism perspective), I think the belief that Obama is systematically implementing policies through the office of the President to deconstruct the America we know in a reaction to colonialism is a reach. I still maintain that Obama can deliver great speeches (particularly from teleprompters) but I don't think he is that savvy - I think there are those around him that are manipulating him to advance their own specific, little pet issues.
I do recommend seeing the movie at some point to gain a perspective that is not widely known but don't read it too much or expect some grand prognostication about 2016.
Ah, the good old days when we pretended to spend only as much as we had.
Sure, sequestration just kicked the fiscal can down the road, but it was the best Congress and the President could do at the time, without sacrificing the world's belief in America's debt as the last safe place to store one's wealth.
This approach also most closely aligns with the Republicans' approach, which has reality on its side.
Here are some indisputable conclusions sane people can reach from the facts.*
‘Puter’s takeaway, after all the facts and figures, is simply this. If Americans can spend other people’s money without immediate personal consequence, they will do so regardless of longer term impact on self and country. ‘Puter fears that America hit the tipping point some time shortly after 2008, and that only a national economic meltdown on par with Greece will cause us to correct our course.
When you read that possibly Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi cutting a deal with no less than al-Qāʿidah in order to free up weapons to send to the revolters in Syria, you realize how screwed up this all is. Imagine Ambassador John Caldwell going to Ethiopia in 1943 to partner with the Nazis so that some old rifles could be sent to the Italian Resistenza partigiana to fight Mussolini, and you have some idea how nuts this all is.
And why are we trying to sneak old, forgotten weapons from Libya to the Syrian revolt? Because Russia is quietly, and sometimes not so quiety, moving in powerful military hardware so the Assad régime can use it to slaughter his own people. Rightcovert operations to thwart Russian interests. Because despite all of the Obama State Departments protestations to the contrary, they are continuing to fight the Cold War. Like Skyfall, sometimes you stick with what you know.
The problem with the Middle East remains: good guys are so hard to find over there that everything becomes a moral dilemma: you cannot stand by and watch children get slaughtered, but that means making friends with people who would more readily want to slaughter your children.
Libertarians are screaming to get our military out of these engagements. Democrats are screaming that we need to avoid another new war. Republican conservatives ought to be screaming the something similar: if we go into Syria, we are going to open up a bigger bag of garbage. The United States found itself working awkwardly with all sorts of criminals in Iraq and Afghanistan for better or worse results; there are almost no good players in Syria.
Call it a hunch, but President Obama quietly knows this. He wont admit itand the Czar is not actually being terribly critical herebut he knows the Arab Spring was a disaster for the world, and that his sing-song gung-ho foray into Libya (which made so much sense when he was erring about the Arab Spring) wound up being a nightmare that should have cost him the election and should not have cost Chris Stevens and three other Americans their lives.
He thought the Arab Spring was a good thing because he was fooled like so many Americans by believing an incompetent media, who promoted this as 1989 all over again. With the Mandate of Heaven so ordained, so interpreted by the United Nations, the United States military went into Libya to help speed to process. Except the Arab Spring appears to be the Wests Autumn, and Libya is falling into the wrong hands. More so, Libya set a clear predecentSyria is almost exactly the same situation, and while Syrians wonder where their help is, the United Nations phone line is suspiciously busy everytime they call.
Let it go to voice mail, says Ban Ki Mun, Well say we were mountain biking this weekend and couldnt get a good signal. The inability of the UN to take action in Syria is a pretty clear indication that they consider Libya a huge mistake.
Bottom line: the United States can watch Syria and its people go down in flames, or we can get involved and watch Syria and a mix of our people and Syrians go down in flames. Sometimes the Czar wonders if this part of the world wants America to help, or just wants a common enemy to reunite the two sides.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
|Europe, circa 2230.|
The Czar looks across the rich expanse of European history and sees, well, not very much change.
Many, many years ago the Czar was entertaining a Brit by showing him around Chicago. The visitor seemed most taken with some of the abandoned and gloomy warehouses and train lines, and even suggested they should be restored at taxpayer expense as working museums heralding Chicagos centrality in intermodal shipping. The Czar believed that Chicagoans would be more interested in highlighting some of their more colorful history and probably more inclined to provide a TIF for this dead area and turn it into something vibrant, new, and alive.
Like most Europeans, our visitor never misses the chance to lecture an American on cultural ignorance; he went on to explain that this was a fundamental problem with Americansalways renovating, renewing, and rebuilding, but never holding on with pride to the past. Consider, he said to us, that Euope is positively awash in history. Your country is still so new, he explained, that it has yet to learn to hold onto her history and embrace it.
Uh, okay. Basically, Europes history, as it is, goes back to the fall of the Roman empire and the subsequent forced creation of nation states. In other words, there isnt a lot of Neanderthal culture still imposing itself on the public consciousnessand no, dont throw the Paris Metro at us; Neanderthals were much more evolved and cultured than that.
The point is that if you bookended most of European history and squeezed it into the years 1776-2012, America would probably have a tad more history per yearin terms of global significance and importancethan all of Europe. The history of individual countries line up well with the history of individual states. The Czar bases this on watching European history over the centuries, and confessing that a lot of it was frankly dull and painfully repetitive. The entire Thirty Years War, for example, was almost as exciting as the Battle of Bull Run alone.
You may disagree with that conclusion, and well you can because the Czar is basing it on presumption, not on fact or research. But he will state something you might have missed in your own study: Europe has changed very little since the fall of Rome.
In fact, the entire history of Europe is largely one of disintegration. Attempts to unify Europeby the Germans (twice), the Soviets (once), and the EU (make that thrice for the Germans) only seem to result in chaos and suffering.
Meanwhile, you look at Czechoslovakia. Pretty decent country. But how much better it became when the Czechs split from Slovakia. Want to suppose that the Czech Republic could easily split into three smaller countries: Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia?
Look at Yugoslavia. As soon as they could, the Yugoslavs split into six countries. And then Serbia and Kosovo split up. Eventually, Bosnia and Herzegovina will probably split.
Today, Catalan is looking to leave Spainand with good reason. The Catalans are a hard-working, industrious, free-market driven culture who are increasingly tired of seeing their income taxed away to pay Spanish 20-somethings to drag race their motorcycles at dangerous speeds on Barcelonan main streets all day.
Scotland feels the same way about Great Britain, as do an increasing number of Welsh. Why are we working so that the Labour movement can pay the English to do nothing?
Likewise, Belgium is again poised to split into Wallonia and Flanders, with each side blaming the other; if this happens (and Catalan independence will surely stoke these fires), Wallonia will probably split into some Grand Duchy-like fiefdoms.
And thats your Europe, right there: a bunch of fiefdoms and provinces who continue to harbor centuries-old resentments about all their neighbors, divided by religion, language, or economics.
So way back when, when the Czar heard about European unityand some Americans worried about a United States of Europethe Czar burst out laughing. Zoom out, folks, and look at European history from the big picture. You are still watching the ongoing breakup of the Roman Empire and attempts to unify European communities is like trying to dam up a river with a couple of rocks. The water will just continue to flow around them until the rocks wash away.
The Czar recommends Catalan secede from Spain and divest itself of the EU and its liberal nanny culture. Dr. J has been there and will tell you that Catalan is where its at in Spain anyway.
And in time, the Czar will welcome the Republic of Sorbia, the Bavarian Republic, and Le Republique de Bourgogne and a host of other 1-million population countries across Europe.