Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them - Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Upping the Ante

The Liberal Echosphere is exploding in condescending guffaws (here is Maddow, if you can stomach her combination of arrogance and ignorance) over John Boehner indicating that we should raise the Social Security/Medicare retirement age to 70 (and means-test).

Yes, that’s much worse than the liberal plan for saving these debt-ridden systems.  That plans is ... wait a minute ... I’m sure I have it here somewhere ... oh, yeah, here we go ... that plan is to do nothing and let the system implode.  Actually, I’m wrong.  Their plan is to create “Medicare for all” and make the problem much much much worse.

Good on Boehner for actually having the temerity to say what everyone knows: we can’t keep the system going in its present form.  Anyone who says otherwise is smoking something.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/30/10 at 07:00 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Overaged Drama Queen Denied the Whoosh of the Air Conditioner

Oh man, this is classic.  This guy really wants to go shopping.

Note: See update.

LOL--"WE ARE THE TORONTO PUBLIC, WE WANT TO SHOP!” I love how he makes a complete spectacle of himself for at least 2 minutes, then tells the dude filming him, “I didn’t give my permission for you to film me.” That, and he demands, “Why are you putting people through this?!” yet at the end, he whines to the people on the street, “DON’T YOU CARE?!!!?” No you stupid hippie, they’re too busy laughing at a fossil whose freaking out because he can’t get in to buy pumps to go with his manpurse.

The fact that his clothes clearly mark him as some commie asshole (check out the Red Star shirt with a peace symbol in the center that says “Resist” on it; I can’t make out the rest of the script) just makes it that much more hilarious.  You think he’d be happy that a corporate entity was being forced to lose money by closing early during the G20 meetings, but I guess shoe shopping trumps political principle when the rubber hits the road.

The teenager at 0:45 takes the video to a different level of absurdity.

Update: The original was removed, but some kind people at YouTube are on it: Click here for the funny. Rocketboy also posted a link in the comments. 

Posted by on 06/29/10 at 07:26 PM in Fun and Humor   Those Wacky Canadians  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Research 1000

Hmm.  It turns out that Daily Kos’s polling company may have been making shit up:

There’s a great deal of evidence suggesting that the polls commissioned from Research 2000 by Daily Kos were either inappropriately cleaned up, or outright fabricated.  To summarize crudely, there doesn’t seem to be any random statistical noise in the data; there are no outliers, and there’s an extremely odd tendency for the male and female crosstabs to both end in either an odd, or an even number; since these numbers vary pretty randomly, there’s no reason that they should consistently be both odd or both even

To his credit, Kos was the one who made this known.  To his discredit, however, this was discovered long after the poll that proved that Republicans were a bunch of insane lunatics who want gay teachers out of schools, contraception out of stores and foreign-born Obama out of the Oval Office.  And not to blow my own horn, but I called it:

I hate to impugn the source.  I don’t think Kos is cooking the number or anything.  But given his attitude toward the GOP, I think the poll results are being greeted with a lot less skepticism than they warrant.  If a similar poll had come out in 2002 on Democrat beliefs, I would have called bullshit (and often did) and so would any reputable source.  But a poll indicating lunacy in the GOP is greeted with utter acceptance.

And here I pointed out that DKos’s results were wildly at variance with Gallup’s on the gays in the military question:

That’s 32 points of difference between DKos and Gallup or 16 times their supposed polling uncertainty.  This poll, my friends, is what you will find if you look up “horseshit” in the dictionary; assuming your library hasn’t pulled them from the shelves because they also define oral sex.

I was right.  Now I wonder how quickly the same people who trumpeted this poll will admit it may have been crap.  So far, nothing from the usual left wing sites.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/29/10 at 04:13 PM in Polls and Surveys  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The gravy train continues

While the political oligarchy in DC are trying real hard to stick it to Wall Street before July 4th session closes, in a nice Kabuki show intended to distract the dumb peasants from their role in the whole debacle have hit a snag, and the MSM does its best to help the demcorats blame republicans for the failure, the real story about how bad things are still to be is about Freddie & Fannie.

For American taxpayers, now on the hook for some $145 billion in housing losses connected to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, that amount could be just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the losses could balloon to $400 billion. And if housing prices fall further, some experts caution, the cost to the taxpayer could hit as much as $1 trillion.

That $1 trillion quote will end up to be a low ball end number, I predict. These two government controlled and wholly DNC owned entities are likely sitting on far more than a measly $1 trillion in bad loans. It’s going to cost us a lot more to prop these monsters up. And I had to laugh at this:

Two things are clear: Taxpayers don’t want to foot the bill, and Fannie and Freddie, taken over by the government in 2008 to stanch the financial bloodletting, need a major overhaul.

Emphasis mine. Taken over? Please! Government has always owned these two, even if they pretended that was not the case, damn it. Stop the dumb propaganda already.

If these morons really wanted to put a halt at the problem they would chop up both Freddie & Fannie, get rid of the laws forcing lending to bad risk people, and let the morons that loan money to risky people go belly up. Just like the “Savings & Loans” crisis of the 80s we would see a slew of failure, and then things would get better. Of course that can’t ever happen when the ideological agenda gets in the way. Hey Franks, how is the health of Freddie and Fannie now? You going to step up and admit you called people racist for daring to say these two were behemoths that would because of the idiotic practices pushed cripple our economy some day, and that you were of course wrong? Nah, the MSM will continue to blame Wall Street and evil republicans for ya, so why bother.

Posted by AlexinCT on 06/29/10 at 11:15 AM in Elections   Election 2010   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, June 28, 2010

I have a different question than all the others are asking…

If you missed it, the usual suspects in the MSM are all abuzz about some jerk-off by the name of David Weigel, a supposed correspondent hired at the WaPo to cover conservatives, that got dismissed from the after trying to prove his liberal bonafides on some “Journolist” – a secret internet group hosted online were a bunch of collectivist masquerading as a journalist get together to decide what’s news and what’s not in order to help the progressive agenda – by attacking Matt Drudge and the Drudge report. Weigel, which was hired by the WaPo to cover all things conservative, said these real nasty things in order to appease the 400 or so rabid libs that pass themselves off as journalists on that secret list, in order to make them understand he was one of them. Maybe he wasn’t getting the respect he felt he deserved from them because they believed or suspected him of being a conservative for occasionally giving conservative causes and topics what the losers on this list felt was unjust coverage (a.k.a neutral coverage). Forget the questions why a newspaper that supposedly is unbiased would need one of those conservative coverage guys. I mean, do they have correspondents tasked with covering liberals? Yeah, sure. Anyway, this guy was secretly outted by someone on the list, and the WaPo hoping to save face and make the story go away fired him.

Have no doubt that what we had here was some guy that at best pretended to be neutral to conservatives & their causes was covering them. So the leftists in the MSM, now that it is obvious one of their own is under fire, are defending Weigel and disagreeing with his dismissal at the WaPo. Too harsh, or some such drivel. The Kos-nutjobs are even acting like this guy was railroaded in an illegal way. How evil that some lefty turned on another lefty! Forget the questions about the justice of his dismissal, if this guy’s rights were violated, if he was set up or not, or if this was fair or not. These are all beside the point, as well, and of no serious consequence to the real issue at hand. They are all bull to distract us, and all these questions are flying around about the story, are being asked except the one I and everyone of us should be most interested in: there is a secret meeting place where those tasked with providing us the news meet to rig the news to favor progressive causes? W-T-F????

Is it that we have become so used to the bias in the media that nobody but me freaks out when people nonchalantly skip over the fact that the news is skewed to favor the left, and hence one political party, and that these people meet in secret to set strategy, drive the news, and push a disgusting ideological agenda? This is scary stuff. Does anyone doubt that if this had been done by conservatives that we would have the left screaming about a fifth column and demanding an investigation by the DOJ? Do you hear the accusations of the right manipulating the news and people for their advantage? And yet, nary a peep on the fact that the left has just such a list of people that are supposed to be responsible journalists tasked to do just that: manipulate the news to favor the left and their causes. Again, W-T-F???

Posted by AlexinCT on 06/28/10 at 12:16 PM in Blegging   Celebrity Idiots   Deep Thoughts   Elections   Election 2010   Left Wing Idiocy   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink


Read em, and weep. If you can filter out the MSM attempt to make this bumbling moron appear as an intellectual, what you see here is Joe either setting the stage for the Obama administration to come out and say GWB still is holding us back so we can’t deliver on the promises we made, but lets flush another few trillions down the debt hole in a pretend attempt that will funnel the bulk of that cash to our buddies, or Joe is telling the truth by accident, and we yet again see Obama and the donkeys for the inept morons they are.

Vice President Joe Biden gave a stark assessment of the economy today, telling an audience of supporters, “there’s no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession.” Appearing at a fundraiser with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) in Milwaukee, the vice president remarked that by the time he and President Obama took office in 2008, the gross domestic product had shrunk and hundreds of thousands of jobs had been lost. “We inherited a godawful mess,” he said, adding there was “no way to regenerate $3 trillion that was lost. Not misplaced, lost.”

The only thing missing in that “inherited” quote of Joe’s is the fact that this goes straight back to the ideologues on the left forcing lending institutions to give loans to terrible people that were risks, then using Freddie & Fannie to launder those crappy loans and create CDAs that the morons on Wall Street went along and traded in despite the obvious.

Here is some reality for you: as long as these “only government can save us” morons are calling the shot, the economy will stay bad or get worse.

Last week the White House put out a Recovery and Reinvestment Act update claiming that between 2.2 million and 2.8 million jobs were either saved or created because of the stimulus as of March 2010. In signing the Recovery Act into law on Feb 17, 2009, Mr. Obama said the measure “will create or save 3-and-a-half million jobs over the next two years.”

Oh, please! The only jobs they created or saved were government jobs, as private pay shrinks while government workers make out like bandits, never the less, and the private sector contracts as the public one expands. And that 2-3 million number is a joke. At best we have 400K temporary census workers that will be out of work come November, hopefully like most of these demcorats, whom will swell the ranks of those needing to feed at the government’s teat because the collectivists are trashing and robbing blind those that create jobs. The only thing old Joe left out was some “Hope & Change”, but I guess as many of us predicted what we are getting is hope that we are left with some of our own change after these bandits rob us.

Update: Editted to add missing stuff.

Posted by AlexinCT on 06/28/10 at 09:58 AM in Elections   Election 2008   Election 2010   Fun and Humor   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Universal Second Amendment

Outstanding news:

The Supreme Court held Monday that the Constitution’s Second Amendment restrains government’s ability to significantly limit “the right to keep and bear arms,” advancing a recent trend by the John Roberts-led bench to embrace gun rights.

By a narrow, 5-4 vote, the justices also signaled, however, that some limitations on the right could survive legal challenges.

Writing for the court in a case involving restrictive laws in Chicago and one of its suburbs, Justice Samuel Alito said that the Second Amendment right “applies equally to the federal government and the states.”

Those laws appear to be the only outright bans left in the country.

I’ve only seen selected quotes, but the dissent appears to bend over backward to justify a handgun ban.  Incorporation of constitutional rights is something the liberal wing of the Court has traditionally upheld.  I guess that goes out the window when it comes to guns.

I’ll be posting links to commentary throughout the day.  Right now, I’m seeing some very nice quotes from Thomas’ concurring opinion.  But just remember that, according to his critics, Thomas has never issued a significant ruling.

Update: SCOTUS also ruled on Sarbanes-Oxley today. They didn’t change much but Bainbridge has a stirring quote from Roberts.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/28/10 at 08:25 AM in 2nd Amendment  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Byrd Down

Robert Byrd is gone:

West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, the self-educated son of a coal miner who became the longest-serving member of Congress, died early Monday at age 92, the senator’s office said.

Byrd, a nine-term Democrat, was known as a master of the chamber’s often-arcane rules and as the self-proclaimed “champion of the Constitution,” a jealous guardian of congressional power.

His speeches were laced with references to poetry and the Greek and Roman classics, often punctuated by the brandishing of his pocket copy of the national charter.

He was also known as the “King of Pork,” using top positions on the Senate Appropriations Committee to steer federal spending to his home state—one of the nation’s poorest.

If the recent study on pork is to be believed, this was a key reason why his state was so poor.  I’ll refrain from calling him names today.  You don’t have to look very far to find out what I thought of him.

Update: This.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/28/10 at 08:13 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fix Everything But the Government

As oil continues to leak into the gulf, we are getting more and more insight into how this Administration handles problems in government.  What we’re seeing is not very encouraging.

First, there’s the vile Minerals Management Service.  Obama is going to solve that problem right away.  He’s going to change its name.

So the Obama administration is giving MMS a makeover.  The agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service will hereafter be known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement.

That’s exactly how the Bush administration dealt with the unpopularity of the Health Care Financing Administration, the agency responsible for Medicare and Medicaid: by changing its name to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The MMS is fundamentally flawed.  It is an agency that is supposed to both maximize revenue from federal lands and regulate the industry.  Those goals are in opposition to each other.  I said a few weeks ago that this agency needed to be taken behind the barn and killed with an axe.  Obama is taking it behind the barn and putting some makeup on it.

Then we have Ken Salazar, the comic relief in this tragedy.  Recently, his panel of experts recommended a ban on off-shore drilling.  Oh, wait no they didn’t.

Eight of the 15 experts consulted by the Interior Department for a report about oil drilling safety on the Outer Continental Shelf that was commissioned by President Barack Obama said they disagreed with the report’s call for a six-month halt on current deepwater offshore drilling operations--that was added to the text of the report without their knowledge only after they had reviewed the text. The eight experts outlined their objections in a June 8 letter to Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).

“A group of those named in the Secretary of Interior’s Report, ‘Increased Safety Measures for Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf,’ dated May 27, 2010 are concerned that our names are connected with the moratorium as proposed in the executive summary of that report,” the experts said in their letter.

“There is an implication that we have somehow agreed to or ‘peer reviewed’ the main recommendation of that report,” the eight experts wrote. “This is not the case.”

Well, you may have heard that a federal judge overturned the moratorium.  Salazar’s response?  Ignore it.

A new order imposing a moratorium on deepwater drilling could be refined to reflect offshore conditions, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday.

Salazar has said he plans to issue a new drilling freeze after a federal judge struck down a previous ban on Tuesday. But Salazar told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday said the new ban “might be refined.”

He said the order, which is still being developed, could include provisions to allow drilling in areas where reserves and risks are known rather than in exploratory reservoirs.

The new order is likely to include criteria for when the ban would be lifted, Salazar said, adding that more details will be made public in coming days.

To be fair, there’s a lot more going on here to work the problem.  But these little stories make me concerned that the eventual investigation of this incident is going to ignore the big glaring problems in government that contributed mightily to the incident.  There may be no attention paid, for example, to government models of oil spills that predicted a far smaller problem.

But at least the government is learning.  They’re going to regulate milk the same way they regulate oil.  ‘Cuz it has non-petroleum oil in it and that’s kinda like crude oil.  Or something.


Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/26/10 at 07:35 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, June 25, 2010

They are not just burrying us in debt..

They are also actively trying to rig the game in their favor. The “they” in question here is the most ethical ever promised Pelosi/Reed congress, and the stink here is another crooked bill that denies anyone but demcorats and their allies an advantage:

The resulting DISCLOSE Act, according to its backers, will ensure transparency in campaign ad funding. Thursday, the House of Representatives approved the bill 219-206, with 36 Democrats and 170 Republicans in opposition to the measure, which was written by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year, and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who led the Senate Democrats’ campaign panel in 2008.

The bill is full of draconian restrictions on individual political speech expressed via corporations, but gives privileged status to the Democrats’ union masters. A provision pushed by Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Bob Brady, for example, allows unions to transfer unlimited funds among affiliated groups to pay for political ads with no disclosure whatever. That makes campaign funding more transparent?

I think the author answered their own question there. While the demcorats are trying to lay low and not let the people find out they are turning America into a third rate banana republic economically, they have certainly not given up on doing so with our freedoms as well.

As usual, DISCLOSE was rammed through the House after being introduced with only a few hours’ notice and too little debate allowed. Because Democrats have abandoned doing a federal budget for the year, couldn’t they find a little more time to allow Congress and the people it is supposed to represent to read and discuss this measure at greater length? Next we will see if Senate Democrats are as determined to throw out the First Amendment as were most of their House colleagues.

Why the hell don’t they cut to the chase and just tell us who can vote and how often they can? Scratch that. Just do away with the whole election charade. I mean that’s the end goal here anyway.

Posted by AlexinCT on 06/25/10 at 09:02 AM in Elections   Election 2010   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Slouching Toward Insolvency, The Big Picture

Just to keep hammering the point home on debt, check out The Economist, which lists debt for 14 different countries.  Right now, the US is 66% of GDP in debt, comparable to India, Brazil, Canada and Germany.  Our government debt situation is actually worse than Spain and Britain.  Only France, Italy and Japan really outpace us.

The country of note here, for me, is Japan, which has government debt load of 200% of GDP.  That’s the country we’re modeling our current Keynesian economic policy on.  It’s a much more apt comparison than Greece.  If we stay on this path, we’re going to have another lost decade.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/25/10 at 08:09 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Slouching Towards Insolvency

Slouching?  Heck, we may already be there.

Karl “The End is Nigh” Denninger had an interesting article based on this exchange between Sen. Alan Simpson and Alex Lawson from Social Security Works.  Given Hal’s post on the Democrats playing “Hear No Evil” with the budget, this seems to be an appropriate follow-up.

Karl links to the transcript here, and it’s worth reading, but what really stands out about this exchange is this ridiculous bit of fallacious appeal to emotion by Lawson right off the bat:

ALAN SIMPSON:  We’re really working on solvency… the key is solvency

ALEX LAWSON: What about adequacy? Are you focusing on adequacy as well?

SIMPSON: Where do you come up with all the crap you come up with?

SIMPSON:  We’re trying to take care of the lesser people in society and do that in a way without getting into all the flash words you love dig up, like cutting Social Security, which is bullshit. We’re not cutting anything, we’re trying to make it solvent.

SIMPSON:  It’ll go broke in the year 2037.

LAWSON:  What do you mean by ‘broke’? Do you mean the surplus will go out and then it will only be able to pay 75% of its benefits?

Contrary to what firedoglake asserts, Lawson doesn’t know jack shit about Social Security, or its solvency, or even basic reality.  In an article at ZeroHedge, Bruce Krasting points out that Social Security is already broke, and includes these handy charts:


Damn, that’s ugly.

Karl, of course, refutes Lawson’s intellectual lunacy (Emphasis in the original):

Blow up the above pie chart (click it.)[Note: the pie chart is in Karl’s post at the link above] Notice that the so-called “pre-funding” that the 1983 commission allegedly did was a lie.  The government took all that money and spent it, rather than hanging onto it.  That is, they stole it.

Apparently Alex Lawson hasn’t figured out that a bunch of IOUs sitting in a vault in Virginia are not a trust fund.  And he also doesn’t realize that if a system is insolvent, “adequacy” is completely irrelevant.

Karl ties this into the whole issue of the deficit crisis: (Emphasis removed)

What Alex Lawson wants, along with the rest of the left, can’t happen.

It can’t happen because the math doesn’t work.  It is not about “mean people”, it’s not about “tax cuts for the rich”, it’s not about “sacred defense programs.”

It’s about mathematics.  You need to find $1.5 trillion in budget savings and there is no way to get there without digging deeply into promises that were made by the left but cannot be kept, because they were unfunded when made and worse, the very same government STOLE all the temporary surpluses the programs generated and spent them!

President Bush papered over the reality when it was 1/3rd as bad as it is now.  He did so with lies and deceit, and President Obama has now compounded that error by a factor of three, and appears to have built in a $1.5 trillion structural deficit where Bush’s was $600 billion or so.  Neither was able to be funded in perpetuity, and instead of fixing Bush’s idiocy in driving straight toward the cliff at 50mph when President Obama took office he floored it and now we’re doing 150mph - in the same direction.

The math doesn’t care whether you like what it says or not.

I’ve heard plenty of arguments from the left about how badly the Republicans raised the deficit.  It’s partially true, but it’s really just a cheap talking point because the Republicans had full control of the executive and legislative branches for about 5.5 of the last 35 years when our debt started going parabolic after the oil embargos of the 1970s.  As I’ve mentioned before, does anyone know the last time any of the national debt was actually paid down year-over-year?

1957.  It’s been 53 fucking years since we’ve paid back any of our debt on an annualized basis.  Don’t believe me?  Just check the Treasury’s own data here and here.  There’s plenty of blame to be put on both parties here, and it’s rather dishonest of the left to not acknowledge this fact.

Irrespective of “who started it,” Denninger’s essential point stands--we’re broke. And Obama and Congress are making things worse by acting as if this is a liquidity crisis and not a debt crisis.  Neo-Keynesians like Krugman and Lawson are having to resort to pathetic attempts at emotional blackmail (Granny’s going to eat cat food! Riots in the streets! Total chaos!) to argue for increasing deficit spending in this environment, which is like trying to cure an alcoholic by giving him Jack Daniels every day.

Until the debt is cleared from the system, or at least substantially reduced, there will be NO sustainable recovery.  Period.  What’s ironic is that if the various regimes of the United States going back to Hoover hadn’t made the American people psychologically and financially dependent on the federal government to act as a safety net--taking the role in society that families, various charities, churches, and local communities used to be responsible for--there would be very little need for such threats by the left of the country degenerating into some ludicrous Hobbesian nightmare.

Posted by on 06/24/10 at 04:34 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Budget Shell Game

Yet more from the Most Ethical and Wonderful Congress Ever:

House Democrats are readying an alternative budget measure that would set next year’s spending levels without requiring a vote on deficits.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) said the alternative would be the “functional equivalent” of a full-fledged budget. But because it won’t be a traditional budget resolution, it will be silent on future deficits, which are expected to average nearly $1 trillion for the next decade.

Democrats have expressed concern about voting for a document showing lots of red ink in an election year.

Gee, ya think?  I’m not sure what game the Democrats think they’re playing here.  P. J. O’Rourke once described high-flying budget rules (such as Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and PAYGO) as trying to quit smoking by hiding your cigarettes from yourself.  This is trying to quit smoking by closing your eyes when you smoke.  This is dealing with the ravenous bugblatter beast of traal by wrapping a towel around your head.  It’s like they think if they don’t admit there are deficits, the deficits will cease to exist.  And the Republicans and the voters will accept this.

If they believe in this budget and all these programs, the should pass it and take the political consequences.  I am absolutely sick of this sort of political cowardice.  Punting the Iraq War decision back to the President; punting global warming legislation to the EPA; punting the budget deficit into Fantasyland.  They want all the credit for the “good” things they do—getting rid of Saddam Hussein, saving the planet, “stimulating” the economy—but refuse to take the blame for the inevitable tradeoffs—dead soldiers, job losses and deficits.

That’s not the way things around here.  And hopefully the voters will remind them of this.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/23/10 at 07:37 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


You’ve probably heard about and should certainly read this article about Stanley McChrystal, currently our general in charge of Afghanistan.  The portrait, to say the least, is of a man who does not like to play politics:

Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.” The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile

This report does not exactly meet that requirement.  It goes into the numerous political fights McChrystal is having with the Administration and the State Department. He has a clear idea of how he wants to run the war and he’s not shy about letting this reporter see his disdain for anyone with whom he disagrees.  He disparages Obama specifically:

Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn’t go much better. “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

As Ed Morrissey points out, this is something you put in memoirs or a resignation.  It’s not something you leak the press in the middle of a war.  McChrystal also disparages Biden and Holbrooke and slams advisors to Obama. The only person he praises is Hillary.  And that’s not because she’s a genius; it’s because she backs him 100%.

The controversy over his disparaging of his higher-ups comes from a small part of a long and interesting article. I strongly recommend that you read the entire thing. Most of the article is a profile of McChrystal, who turns out to be difficult to pigeonhole. It goes over his roles in the Pat Tillman cover-up and Camp Nama and his rise to command out troops in Afghanistan. It describes his implementation of Counter-Insurgency strategy. Contrary to the screaming of various media outlets, the restrictive ROE on our soldiers comes from McChrystal, not Obama.

Despite the tragedies and miscues, McChrystal has issued some of the strictest directives to avoid civilian casualties that the U.S. military has ever encountered in a war zone. It’s “insurgent math,” as he calls it – for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies. He has ordered convoys to curtail their reckless driving, put restrictions on the use of air power and severely limited night raids. He regularly apologizes to Hamid Karzai when civilians are killed, and berates commanders responsible for civilian deaths. “For a while,” says one U.S. official, “the most dangerous place to be in Afghanistan was in front of McChrystal after a ‘civ cas’ incident.” The ISAF command has even discussed ways to make not killing into something you can win an award for: There’s talk of creating a new medal for “courageous restraint,” a buzzword that’s unlikely to gain much traction in the gung-ho culture of the U.S. military.

But however strategic they may be, McChrystal’s new marching orders have caused an intense backlash among his own troops. Being told to hold their fire, soldiers complain, puts them in greater danger. “Bottom line?” says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers’ lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing.”

Again, you have to read all of it to get the full context of what McChrystal is attempting.  Whatever else you may say of him, he’s not leading from behind the troops.  He’s frequently meeting with them and explaining the strategy.  The portrait that emerges is of a General who is tough, opinionated and almost reckless in his pursuit of his ideas.  Reading it, I wasn’t sure whether to hope for Afghanistan or hide under the bed.

However, the part that is drawing the attention is the oblique and not-so-oblique criticism of the President and the Administration.  Morrissey again:

Some will say that we have had plenty of brilliant generals who won wars while being difficult and opinionated. That is true, but even those generals understood to keep their opinions within a tight, private circle — and knew not to encourage insubordination among their staff. George Patton wound up getting fired for airing too many of his opinions about de-Nazification and the Soviets publicly while administering post-war Germany; Douglas MacArthur, one of the most self-centered military leaders in American history, succeeded brilliantly until he publicly challenged his Commander in Chief on war strategies. Being right, or at least mostly right, didn’t do either Patton or MacArthur much good in the end, nor should it have.

So far, McChrystal hasn’t earned enough leash by winning anything. Regardless of what one thinks of the current C-in-C, Obama is still the man elected by the people to run the executive branch and the military. The picture this article paints is one of a lack of discipline and respect, and the White House has every right to demand an apology and replace McChrystal with someone who understands better the subtleties of overall command and its politics.

I’m afraid I agree.  The President can’t be seen to be undermined by his own generals.  Private disagreements and arguments are fine.  Taking them public is unacceptable.

Update: CNN is reporting that McChrystal will resign.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/22/10 at 06:18 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Gone With The Wind

While I’m ingesting the McChrystal brou-haha, you might want to watch this debate over nuclear vs. wind power:

I came out of this more convinced than ever than the wind industry is blowing smoke.  Among the many deceptive arguments used by the wind advocate are that the footprint of wind is actually very small, because the windmills themselves don’t take up a lot of space.

This is complete bullshit.  If that’s the case, why don’t we build windmills right on top of each other?  Or in city alleys?  A windmill, to operate efficiently, needs a certain amount of open space—clear space.  The nuclear guy’s calculations—based on how much land is used by the entire wind farm—is the right one.

If I build a home, the greens will still count my lawn as residential land use.  If I build a farm, they’ll count the whole farm as land use, not just the actual corn stalks.  If I build a nuclear plant, they’ll count land use as everything around it.

I’m not opposed to wind energy.  I think it’s part of any energy solution.  But the fact is that European countries are pretty maxed out on wind and are only providing a tiny fraction of their energy needs.  To idea that wind can power our country is a fantasy peddled mostly by a politically-powerful wind industry.  I’ve been getting a little sick of this industry lately, as they’ve been on a full-tilt campaign for more government subsidies.  This is a principle reason I think any energy R&D funds need to be doled out by peer-review committees of scientists and engineers, not politicians.

(I’ll also note that one of his principle arguments against nuclear is the long time it takes to build a plant.  That is—he’s arguing that we shouldn’t build nuclear plants because greens like him drag out the process.)

Posted by Hal_10000 on 06/22/10 at 09:13 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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