Monday, October 19, 2009

The United States of Emasculation 

I have reluctantly come to the opinion that the United States is deeply engaged in, to put it in most vulgar terms, cutting its own balls off.

This process began, at the latest, during the Clinton administration (remember the "peace dividend"?) and continued at a diminished rate during the Bush administration, but in the past the instrument used might be likened to a political scalpel, whereas now the Obama administration favors a chainsaw.

Let's look at the record. In a little under 10 months the Obama administration, with its allies Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, has enacted legislation and adopted policies that has tripled or quadrupled (depending on whom you believe) the deficit for FY 2009 and which has given rise to a projected annual deficit of $1 trillion(!) for each year of the coming decade. That means the national debt will increase by $10 trillion over that period (the annual deficit being the amount that must be borrowed in order to pay for government programs that cannot be paid for using tax revenues). And this doesn't count whatever the health care "reform" now going through the Congressional sausage factory will cost.

At some point, either taxes will have to be raised to confiscatory rates to pay the interest on the accumulated debt (not to mention the principal) or the debt will be monetized, which will result in extreme inflation. I won't go into the decrease in the confidence in the dollar in international markets, which will have its own unpleasant effects on both the US economy and US stature among the nations of the world.

Politically, Mr. Obama has to all reports gained immense popularity in other countries as a result of his globe-trotting campaign of apology for America's success over the last 200 years, and especially since the end of WWII. Unfortunately, none of this is reflected in improved relationships with other nations. Rather, it has given rise to fear among our allies and contempt among our enemies.

Our allies fear that the US will abdicate its role as defender of freedom (the US military being the only one that can stand up to Russia;s and China's) and that they will finally either have to take responsibility for their own defense or kowtow to the likes of Russia and China now, and perhaps Iran and Venezuela later. The willingness, and maybe even ability of the US to maintain the strongest military in the world is now in question for the first time since 1950.

Our enemies now believe that the United States is unwilling to do what it takes to deter them from acting to the detriment of the United States and its allies. For example, Obama canceled the ABM installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, but has received no quid pro quo from Russia in terms of the Iranian nuclear program nor anywhere else. Russia is embarked on a program to make Western Europe dependent on Russian natural gas, which will give it immence leverage over our NATO allies. Even Iran itself seems convinced that the Obama administration has no stomach for military intervention and so is willingly engaging in useless negotiations to keep us busy while it continues its enrichment and weapons programs, including both bomb manufacture and delivery systems.

I could go on and on with examples of how the Obama administration is seemingly embarked on a program to sap the economic, military and diplomatic strength of the United States. The result is not going to be pretty, either in terms of our standard of living or our security.

Realizing that Mr. Obama will not be running in next year's Congressional elections, I believe that the only thing that will rescue the United States from a very bleak future is to unseat the enablers in Congress who are either actively pursuing or going along with Obama's programs. This includes Republicans as well as the perhaps more obvious Democrats. But if Obama's supporters lose their majorities, then a lot of the damage might be aborted before the programs take root and begin to grow.

The problem is, as Glenn Reynolds has pointed out many times, our present political class is the worst in our nation's history. I personally suspect that a majority of them would have been bunko artists, but they're too incompetent to make it in the marketplace, so they ran for elective office instead, where they commit a form of bunko every day and it's legal. The honorable members of Congress are in the minority, and in my observation it's difficult to attract people who both have talent and honor to run for office.

To quote C3PO, "We're doomed!" Where are Luke Skywalker, Obi-wan, Yoda and Han Solo when we need them?

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize 

Well, that came out of the blue! What has he done to deserve it? (The last sentence, by the way, was my 16 year old daughter's reaction when I told her the news at breakfast.)

Actually, I think this event says a lot more about the Nobel Prize committee than it does about Barack Obama. According to one of the talking heads on Fox News Channel, the nominating deadline for the prize was 12 days after Mr. Obama was inaugurated. I have no idea who might have nominated Mr. Obama, but he clearly hadn't accomplished anything of note at that time, other than being elected, and preaching very nebulous "hope and change." That the Nobel folks would give serious consideration to a novice president suggests that the Peace Prize is much more about politics than merit.

In fact, at least in modern times it seems that if someone is elected (or maybe appointed) to high public office in the United States and then goes around the world bashing his homeland, that person is a shoo-in for the Peace Prize. Really. How else does one explain Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and Barack Obama? USA bashing is certainly the biggest thing they have in common that sets them apart from other presidents and vice presidents.

Sadly (at least to me), this is one more example of how the once-prestigious and meaningful award has become cheapened by virtue of applying subjective rather than objective criteria in selecting the winner. It appears that talking the talk is a lot more important than walking the walk.

For next year I'll go out on a limb and predict the winner will be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his groundbreaking work on finally solving the Israel-Palestinian problem.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

The REAL Cost Of The Health Care Bill 

Further to the post immediately preceding:

Here are some guys who won't be taking my bet. Presumably the folks at the Cato Institute know what they're talking about. At least they've got a lot more academic "wallpaper" than I do. They say the true cost of the Senate Finance Committee bill (the "Baucus bill") will be upwards of $2 trillion over 10 years, rather than $829 billion. That's in the neighborhood of three times the amount the CBO came up with. And that still assumes that Congress won't inflate the spending after getting this particular fraud passed.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Question re CBO Report on Health Care Bill 

The Congressional Budget Office has released an estimate that the Senate Finance Committee health care bill would cost $829 billion over 10 years, according to a story at LA Times online. The CBO also estimates that the plan would reduce the federal deficit by $81 billion over the same period.

Now, let's assume that the SFC bill is actually enacted and signed into law as it currently is written (IIRC, it doesn't include a government option but at least one of the three bills pending in the House does, and then there's another Senate bill, and then there's reconciliation) and assume further that the actual expenditures over that 10 year period do not exceed the estimates that the CBO is working with (when has that ever happened?). How is something that costs $829 billion going to reduce the federal deficit without a sharp increase in tax revenues?

Anybody care to explain that in terms your average Joe Six-pack can understand?

Anybody want to bet that 10 years from now the actual expenditures won't have far exceeded the $829 billion number?

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Charlie Rangel On The Bubble (Updated) 

As of this writing, Fox News online' s "Breaking News" banner reads, "House Takes Up Resolution Against Charles Rangel: Watch Live."

Mr. Rangel, who apparently lives pretty well but can't remember how he came into so much money, is the poster child for the "rules are for the little people" crowd, and should be removed from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for writing federal tax legislation. He has become an embarrassment to Congress and it will be very telling if the Democrats don't vote him out of his leadership position. What it will tell is that the Democrats are OK with corruption, favoritism and elitism. (I happen to believe that they're OK with those things now, but what they do about Rangel will be hard evidence.)

To paraphrase a high school colleague of mine, "He's chairman of the Ways and Means Committee because he has the meanest ways in Congress." Amen.

The people of the United States deserve better, and should not stand for Mr. Rangel's nonsense a minute longer.

UPDATE 20091007:1122 PDT Resolution Defeated

As I expected, the Dems defeated the resolution.

IIRC, Rangel was elected to the seat of Adam Clayton Powell, who himself was accused of corruption. Here's what Wikipedia says about the end of Mr. Powell's Congressional career:

Following allegations that Powell had misappropriated Committee funds for his personal use and other charges, in January 1967 the House Democratic Caucus stripped Powell of his committee chairmanship. The full House refused to seat him until completion of an investigation by the Judiciary Committee. Powell urged his supporters to "keep the faith, baby" while the investigation went on. On March 1 the House voted 307 to 116 to exclude him. Powell said "On this day, the day of March in my opinion, the end of the United States of America as the land of the free and the home of the brave."[5]

Powell won the special election in April to fill the vacancy caused by his exclusion, but did not take his seat. He sued in Powell v. McCormack to retain his seat. In June 1969 the Supreme Court ruled that the House had acted unconstitutionally when it excluded Powell, a duly elected member. He returned to the House, but without his seniority. Again his absenteeism was increasingly noted.[6]

In June 1970 Powell was defeated in the Democratic primary by Charles B. Rangel. In fall 1970, He failed to get on the ballot for the November election as an Independent. He resigned as minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and moved to Bimini. Rangel has continued to represent the district, as of 2009.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Pitchman-in-Chief Fails to Close Sale 

At this writing Fox News online is running the following in their "Breaking News" strip: "Chicago Eliminated in First Round of Voting for the 2016 Olympics."

Drudge's headline: "World Rejects Obama: Chicago Out In First Round--The Ego Has Landed." Heh.

So for all the commentary about how "they love him over there," the combined persuasive capability of Mr. and Mrs. Obama and Oprah Winfrey could not carry the day for Chicago. I wonder if the recent murder of an honor student by street thugs beating him to death had anything to do with the IOC"s decision.

The problem with putting the prestige of the American Presidency on the line for something that in the bigger picture is nothing but a sideshow is that failure to achieve the goal diminishes the individual president, the office of the Presidency and the United States as a nation in the eyes of the world. Of course "they love him over there"--he's an effete and feckless twit. And he's taking the entire country down with him.

Don't believe me? Check out this story. Money quote: "
The official jobless rate stopped short of topping 10 percent only because the Labor Department doesn't count people who have given up looking for work or settled for part-time jobs." Or how about this? And there's this.

The 2010 elections can't come soon enough. The voters need the opportunity to halt, if not reverse, the damage being done by Obama, Pelosi and Reid (Oh my!)

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Whoopi on Polanski 

Whoopi Goldberg has famously said that what Roman Polanski did was not "rape rape."

I've never agreed much with Ms. Goldberg's politics, but until now, I thought she had a brain.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Broken Hockey Stick 

Richard Fernandez at Belmont Club has a fascinating post about how Steve McIntyre, a Canadian mathematician, has discovered a dataset that calls into serious question (as in debunking) the infamous MBH "hockey stick" graph which purports to show a spike in global temperatures in the 20th century.

Since there were no thermometers available for most of the 1000 years that the temperature study covered, temperatures were estimated using proxy data, to wit: cores taken from larch trees that displayed the pattern of tree rings. It turns out that trees grow faster in warmer conditions, and so temperatures during the life of the tree can be estimated by analyzing whether the tree rings are close together (cooler) or farther apart (warmer).

It turns out that the dataset that was used to create the "hockey stick" was comprised of only 12 tree cores from a population of 252 cores known as the Yamal dataset. The dataset was being Bogarted for many years by Keith Briffa, a scientist at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UK). Through dogged persistence and patience, McIntyre was able not only to finally obtain Briffa's data, but also data from other sets of tree cores that were taken from trees that were not far away from those in the Yamal dataset.

When those other datasets were used with the CRU methodology, the "hockey stick" went away!

Dear reader, since the whole anthropogenic global warming thing is based almost entirely on the MBH study, it just may be that global warming is a myth. Surprise, surprise!

If I were Mr. McIntyre, I might be considering hiring a bodyguard, because powerful people have a lot invested in stopping global warming.

If you are interested in this sort of thing, be sure to read Bishop Hill blog, which tells the story in lay terms.

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