The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Pledge

Most Progressives rail against Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, and the man behind the GOP's "No New Taxes" GOP pledge. Norquist is represented as the man behind the curtain—evil to the max. The characterization is nonsense, but the Pledge itself is also rather silly. Absolutes are impossible in politics.

But since we're on the topic of pledges, Debra Saunders suggests that the Democrats have one too. She characterizes the Dem's unwritten and unsigned, but no less restrictive pledge as follows:
If spending exceeds revenue, I pledge to oppose spending cuts and support only tax increases. Or throwing more dollars onto the $16 trillion mountain of national debt.

I pledge to argue for a "balanced" approach while I steadfastly weasel away from any meaningful attempt to curb spending on social programs.
The Dems are simply not serious about cutting the true cost centers in our federal budget.

They talk with feigned emotion about "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor" (recently amended to the middle class as well) and always fail to mention that: (1) many of the most over-extended programs (e.g., Social Security and Medicare) apply to rich and poor alike, (2) programs for the poor have grown precipitously over the past four years, and (3) the definition of "poor" has changed dramatically, and now families on "assistance" can pull in as much as $67,000 per year (the value of all benefits included) from the government.

They talk about a "balanced" approach but never (and I do mean never) become specific about what goes into the balance.

They talk about phantom cuts (e.g., no more war in Iraq) and then have the gall to project them out of ten years. They never talk about real cuts for the coming year. In fact, "cuts" aren't cuts at all—they're just decreases in the increase in spending.

They embrace the delusional belief (see Paul Krugman or Robert Reich) that debt doesn't matter and that balanced budgets are elitist, racist, and generally a bad idea.

So yeah, absolute adherence to a no taxes pledge can be foolish. But absolute adherence to the Dem's version of a "balanced approach" is grossly irresponsible and magnificently dishonest. No new taxes won't bankrupt the country, but continuing trillion dollar a year deficits will. And that's the end result of the Democrats silent no spending cuts pledge.

Addendum I:

Investors Business Daily
discusses the President's cynical approach to taxation and spending cuts (i.e., there will be no substantive spending cuts) when it states:
Even the liberal press is exposing Obama's disingenuousness. The New York Times noted on Wednesday that Obama "has barely discussed how he would pare back federal spending, focusing instead on the aspect of his plan that plays to his liberal base."

The Los Angeles Times on Thursday observed Obama "hasn't said anything publicly about his targets for entitlement savings or cuts in discretionary spending. Instead, he's tacitly stuck with the proposals in his fiscal 2013 budget, which Congress has already rejected."

Obama touts what he calls a "balanced approach" in which Republicans raise tax rates, and he promised during the campaign this year to "cut 2-1/2 dollars" in spending "for every dollar in increased revenue."

But now, with signs that Republicans will agree to increase taxes, the L.A. Times reports that "Democrats seem to have become more entrenched in their resistance to the other half of Obama's formula."

The Dems are a lot like the dog that catches the truck. They'll get what they want, but instead of doing what is right (cutting spending), they are relying on their silent "no cuts" pledge. It's irresponsible, but it does buy votes from the dependency class, and that what matters in the end.

Addendum II

Jennifer Rubin adds this comment in The Washington Post:
A lot of smart conservatives have argued that Republicans should walk away from the fiscal negotiations or dare President Obama to go over the fiscal cliff if he going to insist on making ridiculous proposals that set back the negotiations. Listen, it is his recession, too, and at least we would get away from the fiction that only raising taxes on the rich will pay for Obama's super-sized welfare state.

My reaction is: We may get there. but not yet. It is really too soon to tell if Obama is wasting time (albeit in a dangerously unhelpful manner). It is still preferable to try for a package that includes real spending cuts as well as entitlement and tax reform. If that becomes impossible, only then would the cliff look more attractive.

For now, however, Senate and House Republicans are playing it right. They have even got the mainstream media to notice how unreasonable Obama's non-offer, offer is. ("no concessions"). Some even recognized that the president's "offer" in response to the Republicans' move on revenue was identical to his post-election opening bid.

In their own ways, Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the past couple of days rather expertly. McConnell's reaction to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's ludicrous proposal -- laughter -- was exactly right. It is a joke, and rather than railing at specific parts, a guffaw nicely communicates to voter how un-serious the president is at this point.

Likewise Boehner's more-in-sadness-than-in-anger tone after his call with Obama keeps his party from becoming unhinged and keeps a respectful dialogue with the president.

Addendum II

And finally, this all-too-true comment from Peggy Noonan [subscription only]:
You watch and wonder: Why does it always have to be cliffs with this president? Why is it always a high-stakes battle? Why doesn't he shrewdly re-enact Ronald Reagan, meeting, arguing and negotiating in good faith with Speaker Tip O'Neill, who respected very little of what the president stood for and yet, at the end of the day and with the country in mind, could shake hands and get it done? Why is there never a sense with Mr. Obama that he understands the other guys' real position?
Because at the end of the day, it's counter to amost all of Obama's life experience. From the time he was a boy, Obama sat at the knee of people—many people—who were extreme-Left, who viewed conservatives as the enemy, who taught a young Obama that social justice trumped all else, that achievement was a ruse to oppress the working people, that income redistribution was the right way. It worked, and today, although Obama sometimes plays the role of a moderate, he isn't even close. He's dealing with the "enemy" and his petulance and arrogance reflects exactly that.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Going Galt

The Telegraph newspaper in the UK reports that "Almost two-thirds of the country’s million-pound earners disappeared from Britain after the introduction of the 50p [percent] top rate of tax, figures have disclosed." That means that high achievement, high income people voted with their feet.

I'm sure the Left would applaud this news, saying "good riddance." What they can't seem to process is that the rich pay the majority of taxes that keep big government running (as it closes in on bankruptcy), and it's the rich that create the majority of jobs by investing in big businesses and starting new ones. No matter -- good riddance!

The Telegraph provides additional information:
In the 2009-10 tax year, more than 16,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million to HM Revenue and Customs.

This number fell to just 6,000 after Gordon Brown introduced the new 50p top rate of income tax shortly before the last general election.

The figures have been seized upon by the Conservatives to claim that increasing the highest rate of tax actually led to a loss in revenues for the Government.

It is believed that rich Britons moved abroad or took steps to avoid paying the new levy by reducing their taxable incomes.
Barack Obama's never-ending war on those who have been financially successful won't accomplish much very even if every millionaire stays put. I discussed that in a recent post. But what if the U.K.'s experience is repeated here?

In fact, as the dependency class grows ever larger, allowing those who pander to the dependency class to win election after election, we begin to approach the dark world described in Atlas Shrugged.

Atlas Shrugged is a novel (actually, it more of a polemic) written in the 1959 by Ayn Rand, a conservative who viewed socialism with a jaundiced eye. In the novel, a character named John Galt becomes fed up with the government's continuing demands on his business and on his personal income. He goes dark, purposely making no income and therefore providing no revenue for a government he views as corrupt and rapacious.

The actions of the rich in the U.K. are often described as "going Galt," defined (somewhat stridently) at an Atlas Shrugged website in the following manner:
"Going Galt" means asking in the face of new taxes and government controls, "Why work at all?" "For whom am I working?" "Am I a slave?"

"Going Galt" means recognizing that you're being punished not for your vices but for your virtues ...

"Going Galt" means recognizing that you do not need to justify your life or wealth to your neighbors, "society," or politicians, or bureaucrats. They're yours, period!

"Going Galt" means recognizing that the needs of others do not give them a claim to your time, effort, and achievements ...
Sure, the definition is a bit extreme, but there's more than a kernel of truth in it.

As Barack Obama and his supporters on the Left continue and expand their successful class warfare meme, there's only one thing that stands in their way. It's already happening in the U.K., and it just might begin to happen here. It's called going Galt.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reasonable Proposal

I've been watching the kabuki theater that is Barack Obama "negotiating" with Speaker of the House John Boehner in an effort to avoid "the fiscal cliff." It shouldn't surprise anyone that Obama seems ill-at-ease negotiating with an opponent, given that he couldn't negotiate anything of any consequence during his first term. Recall that the abomination that is the ACA was rammed through congress without a single vote from the opposing party—unprecedented for major legislation.

So rather than negotiate or propose a broad based plan for addressing our budget crisis, Obama seems happy to "tax the rich"—a purely symbolic gesture to mollify the Left and stoke the embers of his successful class warfare meme. In practical terms, the money raised from taxing the rich will run the government for 8 days. The other 357 days? Who cares, it's the symbolism that's important, isn't it? After all, taxing the rich will reduce Obama's trillion dollar deficit to a measly 920 billion dollars on an annual basis. Good stuff.

But in my view, John Boehner and the GOP are missing an important opportunity here. They should accept the tax hike on the rich, publicly and with great fanfair. Only two conditions would apply and both would certainly be supported by those Americans who are not part of the dependency class.

First, the President must propose immediate spending cuts for 2013 to match his own deficit reduction commission's recommendation of $3 in cuts to every 1 dollar in tax hikes. This means that Obama must propose $245 billion in cuts effective immediately—not later next year or in 2017 (after he leaves office). This represents less than 8 percent of our annual budget, so maybe the best approach would be an 8 percent across the board cut, but whatever.

Oh, one more condition. Obama must commit to modifications to social security and medicare to make both programs solvent through 2060, and have those modifications in place not later than September, 2013.

Tax the rich!! Great idea, Barack, but at the same time, control spending and fix entitlements. And do it now.

Sounds like a plan to me, but I'll bet my tax increase that Obama would never, ever agree to such a reasonable proposal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Marching behind their newly re-elected President with beatific smiles of joy, some Democrats and virtually everyone on the Left see a utopian America where "taxing the rich" and doing nothing to change our near-bankrupt entitlements will lead to social justice, full employment and reduced debt. Maybe they're right, and if they are, their perception of the future reflects one end of a spectrum of expectations for the second Obama term and beyond.

Unfortunately, the President and his supporters have not proposed anything substantive to achieve their utopia other than more taxes (by the way, that's more taxes on everyone,), more regulation on an already over-regulated economy, and more spending to ensure that their broad and growing constituency of government dependents will become ever larger. Spending cuts (with the exception of "elimination of fraud and abuse" and defense) are anathema to those who strive for social justice.

There is, however, another view that represents the other end of the spectrum. In a response to a long commentary on the consequences of the election by Victor Davis Hansen, a commenter calling himself "Stallion" makes the following dark assessment:
Even with the MSM overwhelmingly flying air cover for him, someone with the record of ‘achievement’ like Obama could not have won the election if the electorate was like that of 20 or 30 years ago. Consider also that despite an abominable record, the democrats actually increased their hold of the senate and gained some seats in the house.

We’re no longer a center–right nation. Those days are gone. We are now distinctly leftist, especially in the 44 and under group. That’s why the election was treated by 52% of the voters with all the seriousness, careful consideration, deep analysis, common sense, thoughtfulness and judgement as picking the winner for American Idol.

We are no longer a nation whose majority believes in the individual, personal achievement and personal responsibility. We are a majority collectivist country who actually believes that the government has its own money and should be taking care of us and regulating what we do, say and think “for the greater good” ...

The Majority publicly professes to be willing to pay more in taxes, while quietly avoiding tax burdens in every way they can, including illegally, and enthusiastically agreeing with demagogic calls to tax those who have more than them.

We’ve crossed the threshold to becoming a European state with a socialist economy and a soft fascist political and social environment. And we’ve made that crossover at the worst possible moment – when the nation’s private consumer finances are a disaster (with a huge percentage of mortgage holders underwater, a $1T and growing student loan burden, and unemployment at least twice the ‘official’ rate), it’s private financial market finances are an apocalyptic catastrophe (nearly all the top 50 banks insolvent by strict GAAP rules and carrying a minimum $760T in liabilities from the derivatives trade, in addition to 10′s of trillions more in the shadow banking system), and it’s state and federal finances on the edge of Armageddon ($16.2T federal debt, with additional uncounted GAAP liabilities of $206T and rising, and state debt rising above $11T, [and unfunded government pension liabilities in the trillions])

... [E]ven a cursory analysis leads to the inescapable conclusion that we are on the edge of a great precipice, and there is no way to avoid tumbling into the abyss below. The emergence from that abyss simply cannot take anything less than two full decades, and the earliest we might see light at the end of the tunnel would be 2030 or thereabouts. But that light is not guaranteed to be a welcoming beacon, because history shows that collapsed and ruined societies – especially democratic ones – most often transition to militaristic authoritarian regimes.

Face this. It will make things somewhat less painful along the road we must travel.

I still cling to the faint hope that there is a future, and that it may still be a bright and promising one. That possibility, faint as it is, does exist. But if in that future, the Union is still whole, I will consider it a bona fide miracle.
So ... a spectrum whose left edge is utopia and whose right edge is ruin. Which will it be? Likely, somewhere in between, but I have the gnawing feeling that the things that Barack Obama has put into motion will lead us closer to the spectrum's right end. I have a "faint hope" that that won't be the case, but it's fading with every passing day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bengazigate? What's That?

Let’s think back to the scandal that lead to the postfix “-gate” for all political scandals that followed. In June, 1972, a third rate break-in occurred in the DNC headquarters by operatives of a Republican administration. The operatives were captured and arrested. As facts began to be uncovered by a dogged media, the Nixon administration tried to suppress the truth—in essence, they stonewalled, claiming that all accusations were politically motivated.

Members of the Republican administration lied early and often—all to protect their president. But the media and the President’s opposition kept at it. Thousands of newspaper articles, hundreds of TV investigative reports, and dozen of books all attempted to uncover the truth. Every media outlet participated with vigor, and before long, the phrase “what did he [Nixon] know and when did he know it?” became the operative meme for the investigation. A special congressional committee was formed to investigate, and ultimately, the man who tried to stonewall the truth, Richard Nixon, resigned in disgrace.

Fast forward 40 years. Rather than a third rate burglary at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC, a terrorist attack resulting the murder of an American ambassador and three other Americans occurred in Libya on September, 11, 2012. There were warnings before the attack, there was no action taken to save the Ambassador and his colleagues during the attack, and there are indications that someone gave the military the order to “stand down” as the attack unfolded. After the attack and during the final months of a presidential campaign, the administration fostered an outright lie, claiming that the attack was the result of a anti-Islam video. This lie was promulgated by the UN ambassador, Susan Rice, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the President, Barack Obama. It wasn't retracted for 10 days.

When questions began to be raised about the lie, the administration began to stonewall, suggesting that a full investigation would be conducted (and therefore no comment could be made) and then later, that it was all (1) the state department’s fault and/or (2) an intelligence failure.

As questions from the President’s opposition grew, the media remained curiously uninterested. Sure they reported the bare facts, but there was absolutely no vigor, no real interest in learning the truth. Most MSM outlets were more than happy to let the story die, and that’s exactly what they have attempted to do.

I wonder why that is?

Of course, the president’s many defenders suggest that there nothing more to look at (the media seems to agree). But how do they know that? How can they be so sure that there isn’t a lot more to this story? Ironically, Richard Nixon's defenders claimed exactly the same thing 40 years ago. It turns out they were wrong.

During Watergate, all of the media probed, they interviewed, they looked for someone in the administration that would leak information, they asked “what did he know and when did he know it?” And that's why the story stayed alive, grew, and finally lead to punishment of those that knowingly lied.

And now, with four Americans dead and an administration story that changes by the day, the media remains uninterested. Worse they suggest that anyone who is interested is politically motivated. Gosh, that’s deeply insightful—as if the opposition who pushed and pushed during Watergate had only the purest of intentions.

But no matter, the media must protect its chosen President—at all cost. If that means disinterest, if it means suppressing what it has learned, if it means defaming those who would like to know the truth, it’s all good.

Good, that is, for everyone except the American people and the truth.

Update (11/26/12):

A further comment from Michael Walsh:
The Arab Spring, falsely painted by a soft-headed US media as a purely pro-democracy movement, has in fact prompted seizure of power by Islamists. Benghazi, an armed hotbed of radicalism, was a fine target of opportunity for a strike at the Great Satan.

What’s also heart-rendingly clear is that our diplomats and security personnel understood the danger they were in, repeatedly requested more resources — and were left to die, as US military and intelligence assets monitored their deaths in real time, lacking the orders to protect them.

Benghazi was a first-class military and moral disgrace, and one that the Democrats paid absolutely no price for in the recent election.

But the questions won’t go away. Who gave the order to stand down as the consulate was under fire? Who came up with the cockamamie story — so eagerly peddled by UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other administration spokespersons right after the event — that the sacking and looting were in response to an obscure video that lampooned the origins of Islam and had been posted on You Tube for months?

And why did President Obama cling to such a risible explanation, and then (with a timely assist from Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate) turn on a dime and claim he knew the assault was terrorism all along?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reckless Endangerment - II

During the first term of the Obama presidency, the President and his Democrat supporters developed an effective meme: George W. Bush was solely responsible for the financial crash of 2008 and therefore, Barack Obama was a victim of Bush's missteps and could not be blamed when he failed to reduce unemployment, failed to reign in spending, and failed to reduce the nation's debt, but rather increased it to "save" us from Bush's financial crash. Like all good lies, the "Bush did it" meme worked because it had small elements of truth, but that's all it had.

In their book, Reckless Endangerment, Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner (both left of center) dissect the 2008 financial crash and lay blame appropriately—on both political parties. Further, they note that the financial crash had its origins in the progressive, "best of intentions" housing policies of Bill Clinton.

Noemie Emery summarizes rather nicely:
In 1995, President Clinton launched his "National Homeownership Strategy" (Bush continued it as part of his "ownership society"), designed to increase mortgage lending to low-income Americans by requiring bankers to make loans to people with poor or nonexistent credit ratings. This drew in people who were unable to pay off their debts, and speculators, who were betting housing prices would keep rising forever. In retrospect, we can see it was bound to implode, and it did.

Clinton and Bush were both smart politicians, but there was one thing that both men got wrong. As Glenn Reynolds explained, they tried to expand the middle class by subsidizing things owned by middle-class people -- like college educations and homes -- assuming that middle-class status would come along with them. But in fact, home ownership was a result of middle-class values -- of being willing and able to save, and to defer gratification -- and not the cause of them. Instead of expanding the middle class, dodgy home loans for people with no past record of saving merely led to unfunded investments and debt. And to speculation. "All of us participated in the destructive behavior -- government, lenders, borrowers, the media, rating agencies," said Warren Buffett. "At the core of the folly was the almost universal belief that the value of houses was bound to increase."

Twice, Bush tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and twice Democrats (Obama included) moved in to stop him. Especially culpable were Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Dodd claimed that the institutions were "fundamentally strong," and Frank said he wanted to "roll the dice a little bit more in his situation" rather than impose stricter regulation on Fannie and Freddie. He did roll those dice, and they came up snake eyes at the end of the Bush years. The same could have just as easily happened in the Gore or Kerry administrations, had they existed, and it would not have been due to their policies, either. It was due to bad sense, bad judgment, greed and a lot of misguided good will.

Bush didn't create the conditions that led to the crash; he inherited them from Bill Clinton, and a large cast of thousands all played their own parts. Republican policies had no role in the crash; and the Democrats' policies would have had no role, either.

This was not a case of free markets run wild; it was a case of government policy distorting the markets by removing their built-in restraints.
But the democratic "Bush did it" meme was a strong one, and because Obama's many friends in the main stream media did absolutely nothing to assess its validity, it became conventional wisdom. In fact, although Reckless Endangerment was a #1 NYT best seller, the usual MSM talk shows and interviews avoided Morgenson and Rosner as if they had some communicable disease. They did—its called the truth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Battlefield Affirmative Action

A cease fire in the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas was announced a few hours ago. It will accomplish nothing, except to give the Palestinian terrorist group a chance to re-arm by smuggling still more long range rockets from Iran. Incredibly, Hillary Clinton has "negotiated" an agreement that has the Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood policing the Gaza border to keep weapons smuggling from happening. Yeah ... right.

Throughout 2012 and prior to recent hostilities, Hamas and its sister terrorist groups in Gaza have launched almost 1000 rockets with the intent of killing Israeli citizens. I was in Eilat, Israel in April when one such rocket landed with a very loud explosion in an empty field. Israel did not respond to that rocket or hundreds of others.

Finally, it did something that Barack Obama has done dozens of times in Afghanistan—it used a weaponized drone to assassinate the terrorist leader of Hamas. When rocket fire escalated, Israel finally acted with precision air power, destroying missiles sites purposely embedded in civilian neighborhoods, next to schools, hospital, and mosques. Even with precision weapons and great skill, collateral damage in the form of civilian deaths had to occur.

These deaths are the fault of Hamas—and Hamas uses them in what Charles Krauthammer calls "Grief Porn." First, Hamas purposely puts Palestinian civilians in harm's way, then when injuries or deaths inevitably occur, it parades the results of its use of human shields to an all too complicit western media. As I mentioned a few posts back, this is standard operating procedure for Hamas.

Worse, far too many Western diplomats and virtually all Leftists condemn Israel for being "disproportionate" in their defensive response. Michael Goodwin discusses the idiocy of this position:
Double standards are par for the course in the Mideast and all the Jew-hating salons from Turtle Bay to Paris. While the hatred is shouted with a clenched fist on the smoldering streets of Gaza City, equally absurd claims are made by striped-pants diplomats and left-leaning sophisticates who insist Israel is guilty of “disproportionate” force because it uses its huge military advantage.

Their argument moves the goal posts. They tacitly accept Israel’s right to respond, but only up to a point. No matter its losses, the Jewish state must never “escalate” because that would be unfair.

Think about that: Affirmative action has come to the battlefield, where the results must be level for the sake of fairness. Coming soon, the demand that Israel turn over half of its weapons to its enemies. Perhaps Hamas would like an Iron Dome of its own?
But none of this comes as a surprise.It's all part of the Groundhog Day feel to this conflict. The only real outcome is more of the same, postponed until Hamas can smuggle still more weapons under the less-than-watchful eye of the Muslim Brotherhood. Someday, when Hamas' weapons become more deadly, Israel will act more forcefully—as it should. That will be the day that affirmative action on the battle field dies. It will also be the day that Hamas will finally meet its bloody end.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Real Journalist

For the past four years, the main stream media has fawned over Barack Obama and his policies, much to the detriment of the people of the United States. The media has a responsibility to be adversarial, to uncover the truth, to expose hypocrisy and corruption, to keep politicians honest, to challenge even annointed politicians like their beloved Barack Obama. They haven't done that -- not even close.

In a rare and refreshing departure from the fawning, protective tone that occurs in most Obama administration-media encounters, an AP reporter does his job while questioning a state department spokesperson. The fireworks are worth the 2:30 minute video. It's too bad more "journalists" don't learn from his example when they question other branches of the Obama administration.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Groundhog Day

In the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, the main character wakes up every morning and relives the same day, making small changes to events in an effort to reshape the outcome. The movie is a comedy, and events remain predictably the same, regardless of the protagonist's moves.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has all of the elements of a tragic version of Groundhog Day -- predictable events, predictable reactions, and a predictable outcomes. In every case, the events are the same:

  1. The Palestinians are promised significant benefits by Western Nations immediately after they precipitate yet another Israeli defensive action. Vast sums of Western money ("Humanitarian aid") flow into their corrupt pseudo-government, but conditions on the ground never change
  2. They promise to abide by conditions—e.g., no importation of offensive weapons, no terror attacks, blah, blah blah ...
  3. They proceed to violate every promise, but are defended by Western Leftists because they are "oppressed."
  4. They wait for a few years until they have illegally acquired (smuggled) sufficient weapons (most recently rockets) and then launch on Israeli civilian population centers.
  5. Rockets are launched from schools, hospitals, and mosques in an effort to use unwilling human shields and maximize collateral damage when Israel responds.
  6. The main stream media largely ignores all of this.
  7. Israeli civilians are under fire, and Israel's air force responds in an effort to take out the rocket launching sites.
  8. Western leaders make a show of being evenhanded by stating that Israel has every right to defend its citizens from attack.
  9. Within hours, Western leaders begin to state that Israel's response should be "proportional."
  10. The Left leaning main stream media waits about 48 hours and then begins to report on Palestinian "civilian" casualties, never validating casualty claims, never considering that many of the casualties were de facto Hamas fighters or unwilling human shields, and absolutely never noting that Hamas' action put their own civilians in harm's way.
  11. Within the next 24 hours, useful idiots like CNN's Anderson Cooper are embedded in Gaza, lamenting all of the death and destruction (the amusing thing about this is that Hamas would cut the throats of every Left-leaning "journalist" were these intrepid reporters not shilling for Hamas on an international stage).
  12. Israel escalates its defensive attacks and begins to take offensive action against Hamas targets, control centers, communication facilities, etc.
  13. Immediately, Western leaders begin to pressure Israel to stop these actions.
  14. Hamas knows that they're protected by the Western media, many Western politicians, and a vast majority of those on the Left, who over the last few decades have cultivated a virulent antipathy toward Israel.
  15. A "cease fire" is brokered with significant bribes for the Palestinians and empty promises for the Israelis.
  16. Hamas thumps its chest, declaring that it has "defeated" the IDF.
  17. Ground Hog day restarts at step 1
In my view, this process will never end, until Israel is pushed to finish Hamas once and for all. There is no settlement that can be reached with a group of elected terrorist thugs and the populace that supports. There is no negotiation that can succeed when one side breaks every promise and is perfectly willing to follow the Islamist dictate of Tacqqia—approved lies to infidels. There is no good outcome ... none. And with that in mind, Israel must be wary of "friends" like Barack Obama—a man who clearly sympathizes with the anti-Israel attitudes of his leftist brethren worldwide. Update: ------------- And so it begins. This from Rachel Maddow, queen of the leftist crew at MSNBC:
MADDOW (after referring to President Obama's visit to Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar): And of course the whole trip to Asia comes in the midst of a very scary flareup between Israel and Gaza. Now, we do not know exactly what started this most recent round of fighting, but we do know that an Israeli air strike killed the top commander of Hamas in Gaza on Wednesday. And we know then that that was followed by rocket attacks aimed at southern Israel and then Tel Aviv and then today, Jerusalem. Israel has been pounding Gaza with air strikes. The attacks appeared today to be rapidly escalating, including signs that Israel is preparing for a ground incursion into Gaza. The New York Times tonight citing reports of Israeli tanks massing on the border with Gaza.
Newsbusters vets Maddow and shows the virulent lies that pass for Leftist media commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Gee, if only Israel hadn't inexplicably killed that poor misunderstood Hamas commander. Conspicuously absent from Maddow's narrative is any mention of Israel's rationale for the attack -- Hamas targeting Israel with hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza, as they've been doing every year for the last decade. Indiscriminate savagery that does not distinguish between military and civilian targets, in marked contrast to Israel's response, which was to kill one of Hamas's leading terrorists. Maddow rearranges the chronology more to her liking, claiming that Israel killed Hamas's top commander, "followed" by Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, instead of the actual sequence which was the other way around. Seeing how this elephant-in-the-room omission about Hamas bellicosity isn't a problem for Maddow, it is too much to expect she'll ever mention another inconvenient fact -- Hamas targeting Israeli civilians with rockets from the same territory Israel reliquished to Palestinian control in 2005. Land for peace, indeed.


Many of us in the Center have watched debt spiral upward during the Obama years and cringed at the unworkable math going "forward." Even worse, the current administration's own budget projections appear to increase debt by $1 trillion each year through 2016—and that's an optimistic estimate.

As we approach and then pass the time when more than 50 percent of the populace depends directly or indirectly on government support, there appears to be no political incentive to suggest that programs that limit (dare I say it) "gifts" to this new majority dependency class should be controlled or cut.

Jim Tynen offers a very dark view of a future that could come to pass if we continue on our current trajectory:
A great bet is underway, a poker game with stakes in the trillions, between those who are buying time with central bank money and believe that they can continue as before, and the others, who are afraid of the biggest credit bubble in history and are searching for ways out of capitalism based on borrowed money.

Great. Yet it just says what we all know when we dare to think about it.

We're broke. Europe is broke. China is broke. The system will end.

I'd suggest this isn't just a financial system, but ... a transformation of the world civilization. It's not like the Great Depression, it's more like the Renaissance or Reformation or the Industrial Revolution: one civilization is dying, another will take its place.

That's the real message of the election: There is no electoral majority of any significance either for either stimulus economics or cutback economics. Obama has no mandate; he merely was better in rousing his base for one day. Romney, even if he had squeaked out a "victory," would have had no backing for trying to reverse our headlong plunge toward the abyss.

We don't have the vision and/or guts to make the choices that could save us; so the crash will come.

Maybe there isn't a way. Maybe we've gone too far; maybe as has been said democracy ends when 50.1 percent of the voters realize they can plunder the rich and the public treasury. Maybe the mass delusion that we can magically create wealth is too widespread.

My main consolation is that the change will uproot many of the delusions that have sprouted up. My main fear is that history shows this is never, ever, a peaceful process.
Many on the Left are fond of spouting platitudes about the benefits of "revolution." Those same Leftists might even embrace the idea of one civilization dying while another takes it's place.

My advice to Leftists who believe that their deluded view of utopia will lead to a better place: Be very careful what you wish for.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Haaretz reports:
Iran is poised to double its output of higher-enriched uranium at its fortified underground facility, the UN nuclear agency [the IAEA] said Friday - a development that puts Tehran within months of being able to make the core of a nuclear warhead.

In its report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was ready within days to ramp up its production of 20 percent enriched uranium at its plant at Fordo using 700 more centrifuges.

That would double Iran's present output and cut in half the time it would take to acquire enough of the substance needed to make a nuclear weapon, reducing it to just over three months.
As still another red-line passes, our re-elected President and his State Department looks the other way, hoping that no one will notice. The main stream media obliges as it always does with this President.

But its reasonable to ask why the focus on Iran during a time when many other events in the Middle East seem more important? After all, the Iranians have nothing to do with Benghazigate or with the current fighting between the Israelis and Hamas, do they? in fact, they do.

Richard Fernandez has an interesting take:
Benghazi was not a sui generis. It was part of a coordinated counterattack on a broad American policy in the region. Why was the whole series of attacks ascribed to the infamous “video”? Perhaps the answer to this elusive mystery can be approached indirectly. Lee Smith sheds some light on what policy faction in Washington could gain from the dismissal of David Petraeus. “The general was one of few who understood that Iran was at war with the U.S., and no bargain could be struck”.
As commander of American forces in Iraq from February 2007 to September 2008 and in Afghanistan from July 2010 to July 2011, Petraeus fought Iranians’ local proxies and frequently the Iranians themselves, often drawn from the Qods Force. As head of Central Command from October 2008 to June 2010, the general had a large area of responsibility that afforded him an overview of Iranian activities throughout the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, the Persian Gulf states as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. During the course of almost a decade, Petraeus became Washington’s institutional memory of all of Iran’s activities directed against the United States and its allies.
An institution is characterized by what it chooses to forget as much as what it chooses. By who it chooses to get rid of and who it promotes. What Washington appears to remember almost to the point of obsession, is its desire to strike a deal with Teheran. That is going to be advanced at all costs, whatever the setbacks.

AOL Defense reports, “the United States and its allies would like to have a “face to face” meeting with Iranian officials before the end of the year, even as they struggle with just what to offer the Islamic Republic.” And to make it sweeter, Washington now feels it safe to signal that any military action against Iran is off the table. The ever reliable conduit CNN says “an all-out U.S. war with Iran, including an invasion by American troops, would cost the global economy close to $2 trillion in the first three months and could go as high as $3 trillion, according to a Washington think tank.” Translation: Obama will never do it.
So ... it seems that Iran can act with impunity, sponsoring terror groups through the Middle East without worry that it might get spanked by the U.S. Oh sure, I know, the sanctions are working, aren't they? If you're deluded enough to believe that, re-read the first three paragraphs of this post.

What about Iran's client Syria? Obama has signaled that he will cluck his tongue, but do little else to either topple the current Assad regime or secure the tons of chemical weapons (WMDs?) in its possession.

And the growing violence in Gaza? Again, Iran has fingerprints all over this. According to STRATFOR, it is Iran that is supplying Hamas with long range rockets that are being targeted at civilians in Israel's major cities. It is Iran who has supplied Hezballah with thousands of rockets, all targeted at Israel. And as a consequence, it is Israel that must act to neutralize these threats. Iran can sit back and act with impunity. Richard Fernandez connects the dots:
Obama has signaled he will talk no matter what. This provides a tantalizing, if indirect set of clues as to what Benghazi was all about. Let’s list the clues again:

- Eastern Libya, that part closes to Egypt, is now overrun by al-Qaeda like militias;
- Obama will not strike Iran under any circumstances;
- Obama will not intervene decisively in Syria;
- Petraeus was a possible roadblock to any deal with Iran.

This creates the a bag of loot to sweeten a Grand Bargain. By denying himself the military option Obama may believe he makes a diplomatic solution foregone. One scenario that emerges is that Obama entrusted the entire management of the Middle East to a combination of covert action and diplomacy (called “Leading From Behind”) in which the military has no real part as an active instrument of policy. He is committed absolutely to it.
Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East is in shambles—another manifestation of an incompetent presidency. But worse, the signals that Obama has sent to the thugs in Iran project fecklessness and weakness. That's a bad combination when you're eye to eye with a terrorist regime.
Syria, Benghazigate, and the hostilities in Gaza are all connected. The common thread is Iran and the common problem is Obama's fantasy foreign policy.

Richard Fernandez notes this when he states: "If Benghazi was a lie, it would not be the first time in history that falsehood has ridden to the rescue of fantasy."

The problem for Barack Obama going "forward" is that reality crushes fantasy every time—except in the 2012 U.S. election.

Foreign policy was not a major issue among Obama's constituency, so I suppose he has no need to worry. Yet.


As they always do, CCN and other MSM outlets parade a stream of Palestinian apologists throughout their Middle East coverage and tell us about the "human rights violations" being visited on the "oppressed" Palestinians (you know, the same group that launches hundreds of rockets indiscriminately targeting innocent Israeli civilians). They lament deaths and injuries but never mention that the dead and injured were placed in harms way not by the Israelis, but by Hamas—a terrorist organization that locates missile launching sites conveniently near schools, hospitals and Mosques. Andrew McCarthy adds a postscript:
Just days before the presidential election, the terrorist organization — begotten by the [Muslim] Brotherhood and serving as its Palestinian branch — spearheaded an Islamist offensive, firing in just a few days over 120 rockets into the Jewish state from its home base in Gaza. You may not have heard about it until a few days after the election. Like Iran’s act of war in shooting at a U.S. drone in international waters, it signaled a further dangerous unraveling of the Middle East that undercut the media narrative of Obama as foreign-policy chess master, so it was tucked under the rug. But it could not be ignored forever, for it is not just another spike in the ever-thrumming Gaza border skirmish. It is the renewal of an unending war — an existential one for Israel, which is expected to fight “proportionately,” with both hands tied behind its back, yet blithely accept, as the international community has, the barbaric Islamist claim that nothing short of Israel’s destruction will be satisfactory.
No matter, all eyes should be on Israel's "greatest friend," Barack Obama, as these hostilities move forward. Will he support a democratic ally under fire, or will he stand by silently, trying to be all things to all people? We'll see.

Friday, November 16, 2012


From the very first day that the Arab spring began, many observers (including me) warned that Barack Obama's naive view of the events would lead to serious problems in the Middle East. But Obama and his supporters on the Left believed that a group liberal college students using Facebook and Twitter could defeat well-organized and well armed Islamists in the political arena. They were wrong.

Now, as Israel rightly acts to stop cross border rocket attacks by Hamas and at the same time remove long range rockets from their weapons cache, the region's temperature heats up dangerously. Arab Spring-like protests in Jordon are on the rise. The Obama-supported Islamist government in Egypt is making noises about supporting Hamas militarily, and Syria is launching rockets (however inadvertently) into Israel.

In the aftermath of Benghazi, some curious things are happening with regard to our military and intelligence leadership in the region. Richard Fernandez explains:
Meanwhile the Obama administration is carrying out an undeclared personnel revamp of key military and intelligence figures in the Middle East.

RADM Charles Gaouette, USN, Commander of the Stennis battlegroup, recalled Oct 17, 2012 as his force entered the Fifth Fleet’s area of operations. “The Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and coast off East Africa as far south as Kenya.”

General Carter Ham, USA, AfricaCom. Replacement announced Oct 18, 2012.

General John Allen, USMC, ISAF Commander, linked to ‘inappropriate’ emails, mid-November, 2012.

David Petraeus, Director, Central Intelligence Agency, resigned November 9, 2012.

General William E. Ward USA, former AfricaCom commander, demotion announced Nov 13, 2012.
All of these changes occurred after Benghazi and some of the players may have been directly involved in any order to "stand down" as the consulate was under attack. Are these changes directly linked to Benghazi, and if so, how? If they are not, does it make sense to replace five flag officers at such perilous time?

The dots just keep popping up but "the most transparent administration ever" is trying very hard to discourage us from connecting them. Let's hope that a few people in congress and possibly one or two real journalists will try. Benghazigate is a true scandal and has all of the elements of Watergate—shady activity, an administration cover-up, good people doing what appear to be very odd things, firings, and one more thing that Watergate didn't have: one dead U.S Ambassador and three other dead Americans.

Where are Woodward and Bernstein when you need them?


Today, General David Patraeus, head of the CIA at the time, testified under oath that he knew that Benghazi was a terrorist attack from the beginning, and yet, someone changed the story line over the 11 days that followed the attack. Jennifer Rubin comments:
Sometimes a dastardly conspiracy is just a dastardly conspiracy. Indeed the Benghazi episode, at least the response to the attack, is beginning to look more and more like the work of a partisan cabal afraid of upsetting the president’s reelection prospects, exactly as conservative critics have been saying for two months.
Of course, supporters of the President scoff at this, but provide absolutely no explanation for the misinformation campaign except to say that things we unclear. No. They. Weren't. And any indication to the contrary was purposeful deception on the part of Barack Obama, Jay Carney, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice, not to mention dozens of other Obama flaks. The question is why?

Again, Rubin asks a few pertinent questions relative to the talking points that caused the administration to insist that Benghazi was a movie review gone bad:
Watergate had the tape with the 18 1/2-minute gap, and now we have the mystery of the talking points. This raises a slew of questions including these:

* If they were changed, who changed them?

* Why were they changed?

* Did the president know or approve of the changes?

* If Petraeus saw that they were changed, why did he not come forward sooner?

* If other senior officials were aware of the change in story, why didn’t they alert others, Congress or the American people?

* What was national security adviser Thomas Donilon’s role in this?

* Did U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice have access to the original talking points and/or was she aware they had been changed?

* If she didn’t know anything other than the talking points and had no operational responsibility for Benghazi, what was she doing on the talk-show circuit on Sept. 16?

* What information did the secretary of state have and when did she have it. If she, like Petraeus, knew what the real origin of the attack was, why weren’t she and her press staff being more forthright with the public?

* Fox reports that Petraeus’s agency “determined immediately that ‘Al Qaeda involvement’ was suspected.” If the CIA knew immediately that it was a terrorist attack, why did the White House press secretary insist on Sept. 14 it was all about the anti-Muslim video? Why did the president take the same approach in interviews with Univision and “60 Minutes”?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Prior to the election, the main stream media did everything in its power to downplay or in many cases, silence any news of the aftermath of the terrorist attack on our Benghazi consulate and the murder of a U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans. This blatant dereliction of journalistic duty was, of course, an effort to protect Barack Obama from any criticism in the weeks just before the election. In fact, the MSM went so far as to castigate Mitt Romney for his criticism of the Benghazi affair immediately after it happened. The fact the Romney was right was of no consequence.

Now, a salacious affair between David Petraeus and his biographer has gotten the media's 24-7 attention, but they're focusing on the "housewives" aspects of the story and studiously avoiding the real scandal in which David Patraeus played a part. Michael Walsh comments:
The silver lining, of course, is that l’affair Petraeus might lead the MSM to finally notice a scandal that, by rights, could bring down Obama, the same way that Watergate (summer of 1972) eventually ended the presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon in 1974. There are so many outrageous elements to this story — the deliberate abandonment of an American ambassador on a murky mission in a dark and savage land, the order to stand down to the military, the Agency’s callous attitude toward its own people, the loss of top-secret intelligence, and the revelation that the Benghazi “compound” was in fact a very politically inconvenient CIA station and possible prison — that it’s easy to lose track of them all (which is something you can bet the Obamanauts are counting on, in the same way the public was eventually confused and exhausted by all the Clinton scandals).
Congressional hearings on Benghazi begin today with predictable political posturing and obfuscation. But those of us who remember Watergate recall that political posturing and obfuscation also occurred, but at the end of the day, the truth about a corrupt and dishonest Presidency also came out.

The entire Benghazi affair stinks to high heaven. It began with a tragedy that morphed into a lie, that transitioned into a full-blown cover-up. We can only hope that Congress and (dare I say it) the media follow this story until some semblance of the truth is known. My guess is that the truth will not reflect well on the Obama administration or the key administration players in this scandal.

Soak the Rich!

The centerpiece of Barack Obama's "plan" as we approach the fiscal cliff negotiations is his insistence that "the rich" pay their "fair share." Of course this plan won't solve a thing, but it warms the hearts of those on the Left and apparently, it's the only tactic that Obama either understands or can enunciate with any degree of specificity.

If you want to better understand the impact of Obama's approach to our fiscal problems, it's worth visiting a website entitled "Soak the Rich!" It begins with a quote and a comment:
“We have looted the future to bribe the present. You can do that for a little while, but eventually it catches up to you.” Mark Steyn, appearance on CSPAN-2 BookTV, 02/05/2012

Politicians, the editorial page of The New York Times, the talent at CNN, and the average Fine Arts professor agree: the answer to America’s debt crisis is to make The Rich pay their “fair share.” With this consensus from such a broad swath of America’s leading minds, who are we to argue?
You then get to see the impact of doubling income taxes on the nation’s largest employers and taking all of their CEOs’ pay on industries in 30 different economic sectors.

The sad reality (yeah, I know, Obama and his supporters are much more into symbolism than reality) is that if corporate taxes in every one of the sectors were doubled and CEO pay was confiscated, we'd only reduce the yearly deficit of $1.3 trillion by 24.9 percent. We'd only reduce our overall debt by just over 2 percent.

We need real solutions to deficits and debt, and Barack Obama is either unwilling or unable to propose them. That's no surprise for those of us who opposed his re-election, but it's cold comfort indeed.

We need real compromise and real solutions, not rhetoric and posturing by the President. Unfortunately, real solutions will cause pain—and not just for "the rich." But with its verdict on Barack Obama, a majority of Americans seem perfectly willing to "loot the future to bribe the present." Sad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Over the past four years and especially in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, the prevailing meme used to explain Barack Obama's many economic failures has been that he is impotent in the face of an "obstructionist" GOP Congress. Over the past 48 months, as unemployment remained far too high, deficits skyrocketed, and debt burgeoned to over $16 trillion, Obama supporters used the evil specter of Grover Norquist and his no-tax pledge as an excuse for Obama's failed economic leadership. They, along with a compliant MSM, characterized the Tea Party as "intransigent" because they had the temerity to suggest that spending and debt must be cut before taxes are raised yet again.

Obama, of course, is blameless in all of this. The debt limit talks in 2012? Speaker John Boehner was the problem. The lack of action (no budget in almost 4 years) in the senate? Minority leader Mitch McConnell was impossible to deal with. I guess from the point of view of the Left (and the President himself), there should be no opposition to Barack Obama, because ... well, just because.

In any event, the fiscal cliff is approaching, and once again Obama supporters and their extension within the MSM are suggesting that the GOP is unwilling to compromise.

In reality, it may be that Obama's hard left supporters may be even more unwilling to compromise than the GOP. Investor's Business Daily reports:
Two days after the election, Obama's favorite economist, Paul Krugman, set the tone for the intransigent left in a column titled: "Let's not make a deal." Boiled down, his advice to Obama was this: Don't give in to any Republican demands, even if doing so would "inflict damage on a still-shaky economy." After all, Obama would be better positioned to "weather any blowback from economic troubles."

Krugman's advice may be disturbingly cold and calculating, but he has plenty of company on the left.

Robert Kuttner, co-founder of the liberal American Prospect magazine, suggests Obama should just sit it out, let all the Bush tax cuts expire, the automatic spending cuts kick in and expect public pressure to force Republicans to give in entirely.

The left-wing Daily Kos called any kind of "grand bargain" between Obama and the GOP a "Great Betrayal."

And several Democratic lawmakers have suggested that the correct approach would be to let the country go over the fiscal cliff, since that will only strengthen Obama's position. "It's a hand Democrats are looking forward to playing," according to the liberal Huffington Post "news" site.
Here's the problem. When Obama and his supporters on the Left use the word "compromise" they mean capitulation. They want to raise taxes now, but postpone any meaningful and specific modification of the many things that actually have caused our economic pain:

1) cuts to on-budget spending (the driving force of our yearly deficits)
2) restructuring of our tax code (as tax revenues continue to drop while fewer and fewer people pay any income taxes at all)
3) restructured of social security (as insolvency rapidly approaches)
4) restructuring of medicare (as bankruptcy rapidly approaches)
5) modification to Obamacare as its unintended side effects (all bad) begin to become known

If meaningful and specific modifications to the five items noted above were proposed by Barack Obama, there is little question that the GOP would accept tax increases. Why not make those recommendations, Mr. President? Unfortunately, Barack Obama has never suggested any meaningful and specific modifications to the five items above. But that's what "leading from behind" is all about, isn't it?

Update (11/15/12):

It's interesting to note that Ohio reported 6,450 new jobless claims in the week after the election, due in large part to layouts in manufacturing. Ohio's new unemployment claims are second only to (drum roll, please) Pennsylvania, with 7,766 new claims. Recall that Obama ran thousands of ads in Ohio dishonestly suggesting that Romney was a destroyer of jobs while he was at Bain capital. It's quite convenient that these numbers appeared just after, rather than just before, the election. Why am I not surprised.

Monday, November 12, 2012

De-Fund the Rich

As we move toward "fiscal cliff" negotiations it seems that "taxing the rich" is a central point of contention. Never mind that it won't reduce our national debt in any appreciable way, it's the symbolism that energizes the president and his legion of Left-leaning supporters.

Okay ... let's tax the rich! But only if Barack Obama agrees to de-fund the rich as well. What do I mean? Read on.

First, it's kind of important to understand the problem. There are two fundamental reasons that our national debt is frighteningly large and getting larger by the day: (1) we spend too much and get too little in return, (2) we have created unstable entitlement programs (and just added a new one—Obamacare—that is even worse) that will either go bankrupt themselves or bankrupt the country. Entitlements are the problem—not tax rates on "the rich." But it's quite apparent that Obama and his constituents would rather not look at the problem, meaning that any viable political solution is impossible. Hence, the road to ruin.

Since the re-elected president must now deal with an economy as it is (low GDP, high unemployment, high regulation, a dispirited business community ... I know, the election demonstrated that none of this could possibly be Obama's fault, he's simply a victim of G.W Bush and the meany GOP congress) it might be worth considering a few actual solutions, rather that class warfare-oriented rhetoric that will solve nothing (I understand that actual solutions and results are counter to type for Barack Obama, but one can always "hope").

Here's a modest proposal that has appeared a number of times in this blog over the years:

Since entitlements are going bankrupt and will bring the USA down with them, it might be time for means testing them—that is, de-funding "the rich" who participate in these programs. As an example, consider the following anecdote noted by Robert Samuelson:
[Entitlement] Programs have strayed from their original purpose. Take Social Security. Created to prevent destitution among the elderly, it now subsidizes the comfortable. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about a couple (he 66, she 70) touring the world. They've visited London, Paris, Florence and Buenos Aires. Their financial adviser sends them $6,000 a month from investments and proceeds from their home sale. They also receive Social Security. How much? They don't say. My hunch: between $25,000 and $50,000 a year. (I emailed the couple for details but received no reply.)

Is this what Franklin Roosevelt intended? Should Social Security be tilted more toward the less affluent? Good questions, but politicians rarely ask them. Anyone who does risks being attacked as hard-hearted.
The couple noted by Samuelson is representative of approximately 4,000,000 seniors who could easily survive with reduced social security payments. The savings would be substantial, and if coupled with other meaningful structural reforms (e.g., increasing the retirement age over time, reducing eligibility for social security disability insurance, reducing or eliminating COLA increases) it might actually have a beneficial societal effect. So where's our class warrior president in all of this? Crickets ... as usual.

But let's not stop there. Medicare should also be means-tested. Should a comfortable senior really pay $0.63 for a monthly supply of blood pressure medication, while a 40 year old with private health insurance pays $63.00? Should that same comfortable senior visit the doctor and pay nothing (no co-pay at all) while a 40 year old with good private health insurance might have a co-pay of, say, $35.00? The answer is obvious, but not to our class-warrior president who insists that a program similar to medicare (Obamacare) is cost effective, (it isn't) and solvent programs offered by the private health insurance industry are inherently broken. (they aren't)

Engineers learn early on that if you don't understand the problem (or refuse to see it), you can't possibly craft a meaningful solution. Barack Obama and his legion of supporters refuse to understand the problem, so they craft "solutions" that don't solve a thing. Four more years of that approach and ... well, get out the popcorn, sit back, and watch what happens.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Now that the celebration of Barack Obama's re-election has died down just a bit, one rather sobering fact remains. Our debt continues to grow by $1 trillion per year and our newly re-elected President provides no concrete plan for reducing it. Sure he offers us his usual pap—a "balanced" approach that includes "taxing the rich" and ... well, he's a lot less specific on spending cuts, entitlement reform, and tax reform, but why should he be ... after all, he was re-elected, wasn't he?

Worse, the new (and likely, permanent) majority that re-elected Barack Obama doesn't seem to give a damn about trivial matters like deficits and debt, and if you think about it for just a moment, why should they? Obama's unbeatable coalition includes large voting blocks who are dependent on the federal government for direct income (a considerable majority of government workers), indirect income (many recipients of social security and medicare), government assistance (everything from ADC to welfare to foodstamps to Obamaphones), millions of the unemployed (recipients of years of unemployment compensation followed by record numbers of "disability" claims) and of course, the Left wing who just love to see major modifications to the capitalist system.

So we get four more years. Barack Obama tells us he's willing to "compromise," that he'll be "bipartisan," and that the infamous "fiscal cliff" is nothing to worry about. Here's Mark Steyn's take:
In the weeks ahead, Democrats and Republicans will reach a triumphant “bipartisan” deal to avert the fiscal cliff through some artful bookkeeping mechanism that postpones Taxmageddon for another year, or six months, or three, when they can reach yet another triumphant deal to postpone it yet again. Harry Reid has already announced that he wants to raise the debt ceiling — or, more accurately, lower the debt abyss — by $2.4 trillion before the end of the year, and no doubt we can look forward to a spectacular “bipartisan” agreement on that, too. It took the government of the United States two centuries to rack up its first trillion dollars in debt. Now Washington piles on another trillion every nine months. Forward!
Yeah, forward. Unfortunately, buying off the new majority simply can't sustain itself. Leftist economists like Paul Krugman or Robert Reich insist that it can, but Greece, France, Britain, Portugal, Spain,and Italy—real places with real people and real, albeit struggling, economies, with real existing tax-the-rich schemes—tell us that big government eventually hits a wall. Reality is a bitch. Again, Mark Stein comments:
The good news is that reality (to use a quaint expression) doesn’t need to swing a couple of thousand soccer moms in northern Virginia. Reality doesn’t need to crack 270 in the Electoral College. Reality can get 1.3 percent of the popular vote and still trump everything else. In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow about five dollars and 60 cents. There’s no one out there on the planet — whether it’s “the rich” or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return. According to one CBO analysis, U.S.-government spending is sustainable as long as the rest of the world is prepared to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. We already know the answer to that: In order to avoid the public humiliation of a failed bond auction, the U.S. Treasury sells 70 percent of the debt it issues to the Federal Reserve — which is to say the left hand of the U.S. government is borrowing money from the right hand of the U.S. government. It’s government as a Nigerian e-mail scam, with Ben Bernanke playing the role of the dictator’s widow with $4 trillion under her bed that she’s willing to wire to Timmy Geithner as soon as he sends her his bank-account details.

If that’s all a bit too technical, here’s the gist: There’s nothing holding the joint up.
But no worries, Barack Obama is leading us forward.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Transformative Event

To paraphrase a well-worn aphorism—Fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice, shame on us.

Barack Obama is re-elected for another four years. Obama’s win is remarkable, given his four-year record of economic failure and foreign policy missteps. It demonstrates that a demagogic campaign strategy that pits one segment of the population against another while at the same time demonizing an opponent early and often is an effective lever that can overcome an atrocious record— historic levels of unemployment, staggering debt, growing levels of government dependency, and a chaotic, ineffective foreign policy. It also demonstrates that the demographics of the United States are changing, and that those who depend on government are becoming an increasing large voting block. So be it. Barack Obama continues on as President.

After he was first elected to the Presidency in 2008, I wrote the following in this blog:
I HOPE that Obama does well and that my reservations about him were overblown and incorrect. Nothing would please me more than to see him address the problems we face with intelligence and good judgment. The country needs that.

I HOPE that he’ll select advisors who are wise before they are ideological …

I HOPE that he’ll mature very quickly as he takes office, recognizing that government cannot and will not solve all of our problems …

I HOPE that he’ll recognize that wealth in America is NOT a zero sum game …

I HOPE he’ll recognize that just as force is not necessarily a strength, talk is not necessarily a solution …

I HOPE that he’ll come to understand that the United States of America is NOT the cause of … the hundreds of ills that pervade the planet …

I HOPE that he’ll learn that our country’s interests do not always align with those of our allies and trading partners …

I HOPE that he’ll avoid appeasement at all cost …

I did not vote for Barack Obama [in 2008], but I wish him well. As a person who believes that the center of politics offers the best road forward, I will hope that his promises of bipartisanship will be kept. That his claims of good judgment will be verified as the months and years pass. That his charisma will morph into effective leadership for all Americans. If those things happen, his election will have been a good thing, maybe even (as Colin Powell remarked) a “transformative” event.
After observing Barack Obama as President in the intervening four years, I’m saddened to say that every one of the HOPEs I wrote about the morning after the 2008 election have been dashed. Every. One.

I have no HOPE that Barack Obama will do anything different in his second term. He is far too hubristic, ideological, and politically combative for that. Our debt will continue its frightening upward spiral, our politics will become even more fractured, and our foreign policy will ping pong between meaningless talk and rudderless action. I also worry that his infamous side comment about “more flexibility” will lead to an ‘unplugged’ Obama that is even more extreme during the next four years.

In re-electing Barack Obama to a second term, the majority of American voters have demonstrated that style trumps substance, that words mean more than results, that excuses, finger-pointing, and blame assignment are now an acceptable characteristic of presidential leadership, and that incompetence is something to reward, not punish.

Ironically, by postponed the worst of his legislation until after the 2012 election, Barack Obama has set the stage for even more bad results over the next four years. In essence, he has made it harder on himself.

The re-elected President delayed most of the high cost, high impact Obamacare mandates until after this election, setting the stage for still another drag on business and erasing any hope of significant job growth. By insisting that "massive, job-killing tax increases" (Obama’s own words in 2010) become law on January 1st, he provides a disincentive for investment, penalizes seniors whose primary source of income is investments (capital gains increases occur both as a consequence of Obamacare and as part of Obama’s new tax rates), and further removes the potential for a strong recovery.

On the international front, the seeds that Obama sowed in the Middle East have yielded poisonous fruit throughout the region. In addition to explaining the major scandal that is “Benghazigate,” he’ll have to deal with newly empowered Islamists (including al Qaida) throughout the region, and in theory (my bet is he will not) confront Iran as it closes in on developing nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama was quick to blame George W. Bush when the myriad failures and broken promises of his first term became apparent. I wonder if he’ll blame the President who was in office from 2009 – 2012 when he struggles to correct the damage he has already caused. Then again, I suspect that Barack Obama doesn’t see the economic damage, or the profligate spending, or the hyper-partisan legislative failures, or the foreign policy missteps his policies have caused. And at the end of the day of his re-election, that might be the most worrisome aspect of all.

In the end, this election is a "transformative" event. As the years pass, government dependency will grow and with it, a voting block that will increasingly demand more spending on its every need. There will be little concern about financially unstable programs and entitlements, we'll just continue to borrow and tax—and despite the fantasy currently in vogue, new taxes won't be levied only on "millionairies and billionaires." Politicians like Barack Obama are at the leading edge of those who will happily feed the ravenous demands of a growing dependency class, and as a consequence, our debt will grow until it begins to crush our initiative. The nation has chosen this path. It will be interesting to watch the results.

Update (11/8/12):

John Hinderaker provides commentary:
I can see only one good outcome from yesterday’s election: the fact that Barack Obama will be the president who inherits the mess left by Barack Obama. The economy is in awful shape; it won’t get much better given Obama’s policies, and may get worse. Many billions of dollars in capital that have been sitting on the sidelines, awaiting the outcome of this year’s election, will now give up on the United States and go elsewhere. Plants will be built in Korea and Brazil that would have been built here if the election had gone differently. The chronically unemployed–a group that is larger now than at any time since the Great Depression–aren’t going back to work. Nor are the millions who have signed up for permanent disability. Incomes will continue to stagnate. I don’t understand why anyone would vote for four more years of unemployment and poverty, but that is what the American people voted for, and that is what they are going to get.

But I digress: back to the silver lining. Obama will now have to reveal his agenda for a second term, heretofore a closely-guarded secret. In particular, what is he going to do about the nation’s $16 trillion debt? Obama’s answer during his first term was “nothing.” His budget, incorporating any number of optimistic assumptions, called for the debt to rise to $20 trillion. I don’t see how Obama can get through his second term without articulating some plan, however half-baked, for dealing with the debt. Ben Bernanke can’t keep interest rates at zero for another four years; at least, I don’t think he can. As soon as interest rates start to rise, the budget–no, wait, we don’t have a budget, but you know what I mean–is blown. It will be difficult for the press to conceal from the American people the fact that we are broke.
And this gloomy little tidbit from Tyler Durden:
The first day of the "next 4 years" is starting in a very auspicious fashion. First, the market crashes. Then, a major blue chip company, Boeing, just announced it would cut 30% of management jobs from 2010 levels. And finally, the US Treasury just added $24 billion in debt, or enough to fund Greece for over one year, sending the total debt load (the US is now at 103% debt/GDP) ever closer to the debt ceiling breaching $16.4 trillion. But don't worry: over the next 4 years, the US government will add another $6-8 trillion in debt, so those who didn't get their allocation in this auction will have more than enough opportunity.
Just speakin' truth to power, folks.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Biggest Loser

Regardless of who wins today's presidential election, the biggest loser is the main stream media—ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Newsweek, Time, The NYT, The WaPo and hundreds of other outlets whose outright and blatant bias in favor of Barack Obama sullied their reputation for fair and objective coverage. The MSM can no longer be trusted as an objective observer of the American scene.

Two quick examples:

1. the tragedy in Benghazi is a major news story and an evolving scandal that has occurred during the last eight weeks of the Presidential campaign. The MSM chose to spike the story, either under-reporting it (e.g., page 6 in the NYT, p. 9 in the WaPo, 30 seconds on CBS) or not reporting it at all. Instead of aggressively confronting the White House to better understand why its spokespeople repeatedly and knowingly lied about the cause of the attack, who the attackers were, what level of protection was provided at the Benghazi consulate, and most important, who made the decision not to apply readily available military assets to protect the U.S Ambassador and his people before and during the attack, the MSM looked the other way, afraid that their reporting would hurt their candidate, Barack Obama.

2. the coverage of suffering on Staten Island and South Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy took on a far different tone than the coverage after Hurricane Katrina, even though the devastation and human suffering, the ineptitude of the federal response, and Obama's in-and-out concern were analogous to what happened during the Bush administration. Instead of split-screen TV images showing crying Staten Island residents next to a smiling President on stage with Jay-Z and The Boss, the media clucked their collective tongues about the tremendous damage, but editorializing about the federal response was non-existent. Stated simply, they were afraid that honest reporting would hurt their candidate, Barack Obama.

There are dozens of other major cases of outright bias (e.g., reporting on Fast and Furious, reporting on the implosion of Egypt's "democracy"and Obama's support for Islamists in that country, reporting on the many combat deaths in Afghanistan), human interest stories on the millions of unemployed over the past four years, stories about the long term impact of the debt), but there’s really no point in discussing them beyond a quick mention.

If Mitt Romney is elected President today, the MSM will return from its four-year hiatus of bias and cheerleading to re-emerge as the adversary to the new President. Every scandal, real or imagined will be reported with enthusiasm, any news that reflects badly on Romney will be front page, above the fold. There will be no attempt to spike any story; reporters will ask aggressive questions at news conferences—remember those? In essence, the MSM will do their job. But why the four-year vacation?

Ironically, the MSM’s extreme bias in favor of Obama did him far more harm that good. It allowed an inexperienced and incompetent President to believe his own B.S. It allowed Barack Obama to think that he was bulletproof, that his hubris and virulently partisan positions were acceptable, that his many domestic and international failures were small potatoes, because they were not questioned or exposed by the MSM. In the end, all of that may not matter if Obama wins, but it will matter over the next four years. Regardless, the MSM’s behavior was disgraceful and just a little bit frightening. During the past four years we got a glimpse of what a censored, state-run media is like. It wasn’t pretty.


Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel write the obituary of the MSM, so afflicted with liberal bias that they won’t last beyond the next decade:
The point is that many in the press are every bit as corrupt as conservatives have accused them of being. The good news is, it’s almost over. The broadcast networks, the big daily newspapers, the newsweeklies — they’re done. It’s only a matter of time, and everyone who works there knows it. That may be why so many of them seem tapped out, lazy and enervated, unwilling to stray from the same tired story lines. Some days they seem engaged only on Twitter, where they spend hours preening for one another and sneering at outsiders.

By the next presidential cycle most of these people will be gone. They’ll have moved on to academia or think tanks or Democratic senate campaigns, or wherever aging hacks go when their union contracts finally, inevitably get voided. They’ll be replaced by a vibrant digital marketplace filled with hungry young reporters who care more about breaking stories than maintaining access to some politician or regulator.

All of this was probably inevitable, but it came faster than expected. Through their dishonesty the legacy media hastened their own end. Their moral authority has evaporated. So has their business model. Wave them goodbye on the way out.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Horrible Season

On this day before the Presidential election, everything that needs to be said has been said. Every data point has been considered, every element of leadership has been assessed, and every consequential decision and policy made over the past four years has been discussed. It's now time for the American people to decide—do we continue our current trajectory and reward incompetent leadership, or do we vote for change?

Cat del Valle Castellanos, a young woman who you'd think would have been frightened by the Obama campaign's mendacious claim about Romney's "war on women" makes the following comment on her voting decision:
The truth is that voting for a candidate doesn't mean you stand united on every issue. This is not Build-a-Bear. I cannot create my own candidate, taking the best features from each then add a glowing heart and a soft, plush, huggable exterior.

Nevertheless, I have made a choice. I'm young, female and decided. Drumroll, please...

I'm voting for Mitt Romney.

"Well, duh, your dad's a Republican strategist."

My father Alex Castellanos' affiliation has not affected my decision. Although I respect his "suggestions," my choices are my own, as even he would tell you.

What has resolved this contest for me? Was it the cantankerous candidates in the last debate, fighting to fight for the safety of our great nation?

No. Personally, I found the last debate tremendously boring, except for President Obama's "bayonets" comment.

Ultimately, my decision came down to this: I could not rehire Bobby Valentine.

Valentine, manager of the Boston Red Sox this past year, was fired after a horrible season.

His team's poor record wasn't entirely Bobby's fault. In fact, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said, "Bobby was dealt a difficult hand." No doubt Valentine inherited a lot of problems.

But looking ahead, there was no reason for Sox fans to hope that next season Valentine would lead his team differently or deliver a better record.

Obama inherited a lot of problems, too. In his defense, our expectations for hope and change were too high. Unless he Midas-touched his way through the White House, Obama was destined to disappoint us.

But manager Obama has not achieved the goals he led us to believe he would. He has not turned his team around.

You don't keep a failing manager when there is an acceptable alternative. It's time for a replacement.
I can only hope that millions of other young men and women will look at Obama's record, recognize that he's had a "horrible season," and vote for his replacement. Tomorrow, we'll know.

Final -- Preference Cascade Update:

In the final hours of the campaign, additional centrist or liberal newspapers that endorsed Obama in 2008 recognize their error and now endorse Mitt Romney. To date, eight major newspapers in swing states that endorsed Obama in 2008 have decided against endorsing him in 2012. Interesting.

“Four years ago, the Daily News endorsed Obama, seeing a historic figure whose intelligence, political skills and empathy with common folk positioned him to build on the small practical experience he would bring to the world’s toughest job. We valued Obama’s pledge to govern with bold pragmatism and bipartisanship. The hopes of those days went unfulfilled. . . . The regrettable truth is that Obama built a record of miscalculations and missed opportunities.” The New York Daily News

“Had Barack Obama done the job of president with the same passion and vision he displayed in seeking it, he would likely deserve another term. He did not. . . . Romney’s potential to put America back to work earns him our endorsement.” Long Island Newsday

"...election is about jobs, the slow economy and Washington’s dysfunction. Our leaders can’t even pass a budget, much less stabilize soaring debt that’s burdening our children and grandchildren." Wisconsin State Journal

Sunday, November 04, 2012


The scandal that will become known as "Benghazigate" is the single most important untold news story of this waning election season. The pro-Obama main stream media (with the possible late defection of CBS) has decided that the murder of a U.S. ambassador and four other Americans at a consulate in Benghazi, Libya, aren't worthy of detailed coverage. That the subsequent misrepresentation (lies?) that suggested that a coordinated terrorist attack by an al Qaeda affiliate terror group was really a movie review gone bad aren't worthy of any coverage whatsoever. We are asked to believe that the misrepresentations and stonewalling by the Obama administration, including attempts to first throw Hilary Clinton (DoS) and then David Patraeus (CIA) under the bus, were nothing more than an attempt to be "measured" in drawing any conclusions about the attack. For more than 50 days, the Obama administration has conducted a "study," but no results will be offered until after the election. Hmmm.

Mark Steyn (certainly no friend of Barack Obama) comments:
Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket [Obama appeared in a bomber jacket as he toured the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy] declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats’ calls for help — even though he had aircraft and special forces in the region. Too bad. He’s all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America’s uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite special forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany, and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandos? In Iraq, al-Qaeda is running training camps in the western desert. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are all but certain to return most of the country to its pre-9/11 glories. But in Washington the head of the world’s biggest “counterterrorism” bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees.

I don’t know whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can fix things, but I do know that Barack Obama and Joe Biden won’t even try — and that therefore a vote for Obama is a vote for the certainty of national collapse. Look at Lower Manhattan in the dark, and try to imagine what America might look like after the rest of the planet decides it no longer needs the dollar as global reserve currency. For four years, we have had a president who can spend everything but build nothing. Nothing but debt, dependency, and decay. As I said at the beginning, in different ways the response to Hurricane Sandy and Benghazi exemplify the fundamental unseriousness of the superpower at twilight. Whether or not to get serious is the choice facing the electorate on Tuesday.
Harsh? Possibly, but the story of Benghazi and the subsequent cover-up is indicative of an administration that is at the very least incompetent, and if one is to examine the purposely misleading statements immediately after the Benghazi incident, consciously dishonest. Even worse, the dishonesty appears to be driven by political motives, not national security concerns.

Barack Obama couldn't run for President on his abysmal domestic and foreign policy record, exemplified by the incompetent and dishonest management of Benghazi and its aftermath. Therefore, Obama's most ardent campaign managers recognized early-on that the President is actually running against his own record. So for the past four months, the Obama campaign and the big money PACs that support it have tried to change the subject, by savaging his opponent. That's politics, and Mitt Romney is a big boy, he took the punches, punched back, and will likely win the election on Tuesday. If that happens, "national collapse" will hopefully have been averted and we can begin the slow and painful process of undoing the severe damage that the 44th President of the United States has left behind.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Local Knowledge

In a editorial that bordered on irrational, The New York Times (ardent supporter of both Barack Obama and Big Government) used Hurricane Sandy and its disastrous aftermath to argue that big government was good and that Mitt Romney was somehow bad because he dared (in a speech months ago) to criticize the FEMA bureaucracy. The NYT suggested that only big government can provide effective assistance in a natural disaster and that local and state government just wouldn't do. They suggested that allowing private enterprise to take over some of the responsibility was "absurd."

Mary Katherine Ham comments:
The logical conclusion of the editorial, read with more charity than they afforded Romney, is that FEMA and federal disaster relief run perfectly well and that no one should propose changes to their structures unless that change is to give them more money. The NYT scoffed at the idea that “profit-making companies can do an even better job” and discounted the contributions of state and local governments entirely. As too many do with government functions, they assume spending more money means FEMA is doing more good. Of course, more money could just mean more poison trailers and more fraud, but we’ll all feel good that the agency is spending more money, I suppose.

Perhaps the New York Times editorial writers should read their own newspaper, as it updated us on the lingering weaknesses of FEMA Monday—a GAO report found inconsistencies in how it trains and hires disaster assistance employees— and offered this nugget about FEMA director Craig Fugate’s plans:
Since [Katrina] it has tried to strengthen its ability to respond to a major disaster, both by rebuilding its own supply management system and personnel, and by fostering stronger ties to outside parties, including the Defense Department and even the owners of big box retail stores, which Mr. Fugate said might be turned to as a backup for emergency supplies.
This is the same Fugate, praised for leading FEMA competently through Midwestern tornadoes and hurricanes alike, who coined the term “Waffle House Index”* to describe the metric FEMA now uses to determine where its resources are needed most. Here’s how it works. The Waffle House chain has a huge number of stores located in the Southeast and Midwest in areas that frequently see devastating storms. As such, it has created an enviable corporate culture so attuned to disaster recovery that Fugate knows, “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”
Because Barack Obama supports big government solution for just about everything, it's not the least bit surprising that the NYT and almost all Obama supporters heartily agree. Could it be that they're right? The simple answer is "No, they're not."

In the same issue of the NYT, James Pethokoukis (quoted by Ham) makes the following observation:
A superstorm requires supersmart government. But making wise decisions from a distance is hard. Economists call this the problem of local knowledge. [emphasis mine] The information needed for making rational plans is distributed among many actors, and it is extremely difficult for a far-off, centralized authority to access it. The devil really is in the details. (This is why the price system, which aggregates all that dispersed insight, is more economically efficient than a command-and-control system.)

So emergency and disaster response should be, as much as possible, pushed down to the state and local level. A national effort should be reserved for truly catastrophic events. Indeed this preference for “local first, national second” can be found in the legislation authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The closer that decision making is to the problem—whether its disaster relief, education, social services, medical care or just about anything other than national defense and infrastructure—the better decisions and resource allocation will be, and as a consequence, the better the end-result. But don't tell big government types that simple reality. After all, according to the NYT, the folks in Washington, D.C know best—as long as they're Democrats, that is.