Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Egypt Opening to Gaza

Egypt is permanently opening its border crossing into Gaza. In response, at least 400 al Qaeda terrorists have already moved into Sinai, ready to move from there into the Gaza strip — presumably to take up operations against Israel.

What could possibly go wrong?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

I have seen a number of Memorial Day tributes, today and in past years. This one — originally posted in 2001 and reposted for today's holiday — is one of the best. Go read it all. You'll be glad you did.

I would also say that saying “thank you” is not enough.

Enjoy your holiday, and remember why we have it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


We keep hearing from the Obama Administration, and from other associated Democrats, that Republican proposals to reform Medicare — especially the plan put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — “will end Medicare as we know it.” The latest I've seen push this is new Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL) on CBS' Face the Nation this morning. She said Ryan’s plan would “throw seniors to the wolves” and result in insurance companies “dropping them for pre-existing conditions, and denying them care.” [Quotations are approximate, written down from short-term memory during the show.]

As with so many statements coming out of the Left these days, there are a few things wrong with these statements. Among these are:

  • “Medicare as we know it” is already ending. Democrats insured that when they stole a half trillion dollars from the program as part of their Obamacare bill (disingenuously titled the “Patient Protection and Affordable Cara Act”). Democrats’ claim that taking that amount of money from the program, and cutting its already substandard reimbursement rates, will make the program viable for a much longer time than would have been the case before. These claims completely ignore reality and/or are deliberate falsehoods.
  • Underlining the above, Medicare’s actuary says that, under what is now the current law, Medicare will be bankrupt within a decade. Translated, that means Medicare is now a “dead man walking.”
  • That means something must be done to save the program. Is the Ryan plan the way to do that? Good question. But the Ryan plan is the only one on the table. The Democrats haven’t presented a plan. It looks like the Democrats’ plan is to suck their collective thumbs and expect a miracle. (Frankly, that makes less sense than relying on holding the winning lottery ticket!)
  • The Obama Administration and the rest of the Democrats are especially incensed at the Ryan plan’s use of health care policies issued by existing health insurance companies. Rep. Ryan says that just mirrors the practice used in Medicare Part D (the prescription drug program), which he says is costing 41% less than expected — unheard of for a government program. He says that is because Part D makes use of the competition inherent in the private sector’s free market. If verified, this would make a fairly compelling argument for something like this plan.
  • As noted above, a primary part of the Democrats’ argument against using private insurance companies is the claim that puts seniors at risk because the companies will deny seniors needed medical care. Their solution is to keep all decisions under Medicare. In this case, however, the “cure” is worse than the disease. The AMA’s National Health Insurer Report Card for 2008 (apparently the latest year available) shows that Medicare denies claims at twice the insurance company average, and at a higher rate than any individual private insurer surveyed. In other words, keeping seniors in “Medicare as we know it,” and away from the private insurance companies, is dangerous to their health.
It seems to me the best that can be said of the Democrats’ arguments is that they don’t hold water. (It really looks more like they are disingenuous and false.) And that's not even counting the vicious deliberate bullshittery of the Democrats' at showing a Paul Ryan stand-in pushing Grandma over a cliff, which is most similar to the Left’s deliberate lies to seniors in previous decades that Republicans “want to take away your Social Security” and “ are going to make you eat dog food — if you can even afford that.”

The Ryan plan may not be the best attempt at a solution. (And, of course, no initial proposal ever gets through Congress unmodified.) But the hysterical pseudo-arguments the Democrats are putting up are making the Ryan plan look pretty good. All the Democrats are providing is demagogic scaremongering. And that’s not worthy of any participant in a democracy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

When "Land for Peace" Goes Bad

Noise is being made that Egypt may abrogate the peace treaty it agreed to with Israel.

Does that mean Egypt will give back the land it received from Israel under that treaty? (That would be the entire oil-rich Sinai.)

UPDATE: The conflict is not about land.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


We keep hearing from the Obama Administration, and from other associated Democrats, that if the debt ceiling isn't raised by some date (from last week to next August or so) the United States will default on its debt. Most of the associated Democrats keep saying that hitting the debt ceiling means an automatic default by the United States, with all the economic damage that would entail. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is being more reasonable and responsible, reporting that he can move money around among accounts (including taking "contributions" — involuntarily — from government workers' pension funds) and can delay the government's default until August. (Geithner is asking for a debt ceiling increase that will let the Administration keep at their profligate spending until after the 2012 election.) These people keep making these statements in hopes of panicking Congress into raising the debt ceiling without any attempt to rein in the spending that is the cause of this problem.

The problem with these scary statements is that they are untrue. The Obama Administration and its associated Democrats are simply lying. Default, if it occurs, will be the Obama Administration's deliberate choice.

How can I say that? Easy! The government takes in a lot more income than is necessary to pay the interest on the debt and to redeem government bonds as they mature. Of course, applying that income to debt service will require cutting spending in other areas. By a lot. Not borrowing (or printing) still more money will also require cutting spending. By a lot. Will that be painful? Yes — a lot more painful than if the Democrats come to a spending cut agreement with the Republicans. Plus, if they do that, they can work out a deal to get a debt ceiling increase — hopefully a more limited one — in the bargain.

Thus, again, any default will be the deliberate choice of the Obama Administration. And all their prattling about automatic default is just demagogic scaremongering.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Progressive Budget — Dangerous to the Nation

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Democrats will not propose a budget for fiscal year 2012. Indeed, he says it would be "foolish" for Democrats to do so.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Democrats' left wing, believes differently — and has proposed their answer to the budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan. As Barron's notes

It claims to balance the budget in 10 years . . . . But it does so entirely with tax increases.
HUGE tax increases. (That does seem to be the usual Progressive answer to virtually everything.)

Barron's also says

We are always amazed by people who believe that spending cuts depress the economy while tax increases have no harmful effect.
I agree with them. That view strikes me as a sort of deliberate stupidity.

More on this issue later.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sen. Bingaman and the NLRB Boeing Ruling

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says Boeing is not allowed to move a 787 Dreamliner production facility to South Carolina. In saying that, the NLRB is being dishonest since Boeing is adding an additional 787 production facility, not moving its existing 787 facility from Washington state. It is also, quite apparently, simply repeating the false statements made to it in the union complaint.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman thinks that's just fine.

“They're asking to investigate what the motivation was for the move to South Carolina,” he said. “I think that's well within their rights to ask for that investigation, and it seems appropriate to see what the investigation concludes.”
That is, Senator Bingaman isn't supporting an investigation into whether Boeing's decision was legitimate, or even properly supported. He is supporting investigation of Boeing for a possible thought crime.

That's not legitimate. Nor, it seems to me, is it legitimate for an arm of the federal government to be telling a private company what states it is, and is not, allowed to operate in.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama's Middle East Speech — Dumb or a Fraud

President Obama made his Middle East policy speech today. In one part of it, he laid out his vision for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. A few things stood out to me in press reports of the speech.

Number one — with a bullet — is that Obama's feelings and beliefs are frozen far in the past. In this case, in about 1966. Obama must know the pre-1967 borders were indefensible. They were part of why all the surrounding Arab states attacked Israel repeatedly between 1948 and 1967.

Yes, it could be that I'm wrong about his frozen-in-time viewpoint, but that would require that he is actively and deliberately antagonistic to Israel and supportive of the deliberately racist Arab position.

Regardless of this, Obama has made the position of Israel a lot more dangerous. He has supported the position of those claiming Israel has no right to exist over the position of Israel (and the United Nations, which mandated Israel's creation).

Despite apparently promising — repeatedly — that he would not advocate the division of Jerusalem, he has now (in his speech) done precisely that. In doing so, he has shown that the word of the United States cannot be relied on, that it can change from president to president. That makes us appear more like a garden variety third world country, not like the world's sole remaining superpower.

And one other thing struck me. Obama insists “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” But by insisting on this right for the Palestinians, he explicitly denies this same right to the Israelis. To see why, just look at the map below. Is there any rational way to connect the territory on the West Bank (by the Dead Sea) with the Gaza Strip (on the Mediterranean coast) without cutting Israel into two parts, or taking a large fraction of Israel's already small territory? There doesn't seem to be a solution — unless Obama plans to move everyone from Gaza to the West Bank. Or the other way around. (That might be better — confine all the terrorists and their supporters in the Gaza Strip and seal them up there.)

I have no idea what exact words will be used when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with President Obama tomorrow, but I think I can divine the meaning of whatever words he will use:

Are you really as dumb as you sounded yesterday, or is it all an act? Or do you think we're really that stupid?
If Barack Obama has any honor at all, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be right and President Obama will take back his rhetoric and not make such demands. If he doesn't, then Knesset members are right and Obama is no different than unrepentent Arab terrorist Yasser Arafat.

The only other alternative is that Obama is really as ignorant and inexperienced as he appears to be. And that would mean the United States is in a lot more trouble than we have thought.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Barbershop Harmony in Albuquerque

'Nuff said.

UPDATE: The show was great!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Definition of Chutzpah

If you look up "chutzpah" in the dictionary, you will find the definition has been changed since earlier this week. That's because al Qaeda has released a statement on the death of Osama bin Laden which has been reported in English translation here (also reported here) that includes this:

Even when the Americans managed to kill Osama, they managed to do ONLY that by disgrace and betrayal. Men and heroes only should be confronted in the battlefields but at the end, that’s God’s fate.
This from an organization of professional cowards who
  1. have never yet enterred an actual battlefield
  2. have never acted as soldiers of any sort, preferring to operate in a manner that would embarrass common thugs
  3. target women, children, and other defenseless people, avoiding situations where they might be confronted by those who might conceivably fight back
  4. are led by those (like bin Laden) who extoll the virtues of martyrdom to their ignorant followers while keeping themselves safe from risk and harm
Amazing that al Qaeda could have the degree of arrogance and self-delusion to make such a statement. These barbarians make the lowest primitives look civilized. And that's not counting their extreme chutzpah.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

White House Gang Can't Shoot Straight

Descriptions of the raid that killed Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden, as provided by President Barack Obama and senior members of his administration, have been changing day by day. That's not good, because the various descriptions contradict each other. And it's not just people mis-speaking, either — the official White House story of the raid has been changing. For example, Obama and administration officials said Osama bin Laden

  • was part of the firefight
  • used a woman as a human shield, and
  • was shooting from behind his human shield
Later, administration officials were saying bin Laden
  • wasn't shooting
  • wasn't armed, and
  • didn't use a human shield.
Contradictions like these simply had to be addressed:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday publicly revised the administration’s account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, telling reporters that the Al Qaeda leader wasn’t armed during the assault and didn’t use one of his wives as a shield.
Carney tried to explain:
“What is true,” Carney said, is that “we provided a great deal of information with great haste.”

“Obviously, some of the information was — came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated upon,” he said.

The Associated Press story, as printed in the Albuquerque Journal (apparently not available online) had a somewhat extended version of the same statement, saying
"We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you, and through you the American public, about the operation and how it transpired and the events that took place there in Pakistan," Carney told reporters Tuesday. "And obviously some of the information came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on."
It seems to me that Carney and the White House have embarrassed themselves here. This explanation is simply not believable. After all, Obama and the senior administration folks monitored the raid's progress in real time. In other words “Barack Obama watched US special forces' raid in 'real time'”. Another account put it this way
WASHINGTON -- From halfway around the world, President Barack Obama and his national security team monitored the strike on Osama bin Laden's compound in real time, watching and listening to the firefight that killed the terrorist leader.
The White House even released a photo taken during the raid.

The Situation Room: Obama and his National Security Team watching the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan (White House photo)

So the White House didn't have to wait for information on the raid, its progress, and its results to come in "piece by piece" and get assembled. They heard and saw it happen. Under these circumstances, the narrative contradictions that have come out of the White House and the administration are — at best — extremely unlikely to have occurred by accident.

At the very least, the White House has a lot of explaining to do.

The White House did something good in giving the raid task to a highly competent military organization to carry out. But in its information handling since that time, this White House has demonstrated the level of competence we have come to expect.

UPDATE: Now CIA director Leon Panetta claims there was no live video feed during the raid. In an interview with PBS, as reported in the London Telegraph, Panetta said,

"Once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn't know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information.

"We had some observation of the approach there, but we did not have direct flow of information as to the actual conduct of the operation itself as they were going through the compound.

The sequence and timing of the claims/admissions raises more questions, the most important of which is this: Are they slow (etc.) in getting actual information out, or is this another cover-up? (Some folks are fairly clear what they think the answer is.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden Is Finally Dead

We'd heard earlier today that the local Air Force Base went to a higher alert level, but the only thing said about why was "orders from higher headquarters". Guess tonight's announcement explains the reason.

Glad he's dead. Glad it was a US operation. Now to get the rest of the Al Qaeda leadership team.

U.S. Government Printing Gas Coupons

There's a new report the U.S. government is now printing millions of coupons that are each good for one gallon of gas. I was suprised to read that. But I've checked it out, and it's true!

UPDATE: And they're already printing another set for future use.