“Mr. President, when the government has proven that it can indeed cut spending and cut it drastically, and it has done everything it can conceivably do in that regard, if there is a revenue problem at the bottom of it, then we can discuss tax increases. But until such a time that it is proven – through action, you know actual cuts – that the government has done all it can in the area of spending cuts, there’s nothing further to discuss in terms of tax increases.”Exactly. Let's hope Congressional Republicans stick to that position. I'm not entirely confident they will.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
he is willing to cut spending on a range of programs by more than $1 trillion, to trim the defense budget and to look for ways to control entitlement costs.Every member of the GOP should know by now what Obama's promises are worth. Any Republican paying even the slightest bit of attention should also be aware that Democrats don't want to make even the most minor cuts -- except to defense of course. If Republicans were stupid enough to go along with the president, new revenue would just provide Democrats with even more reason to resist making substantial spending cuts. The GOP should continue to block new taxes of any kind until the president and Democrats in Congress sign off on significant cuts to government spending -- real ones, not empty promises. Once government spending starts falling, then there will be time to talk about ways to increase revenue. Voters in 2010 didn't elect Republicans to help Obama pass new tax hikes.
- The criticism of Obama's foolish "engagement" policy is on point
- Recognition that strong U.S. support for Israel gives a better chance for peace than a pretense that we are some sort of neutral broker.
- Threat to cut off Palestinian aid.
- a strong fetish for democracy promotion, and a seeming failure to understand that democracy is other countries is not necessarily in the U.S. interest.
- call to pressure friendly nations over human rights issues
- a way too optimistic view of Arab uprisings
- offhand dismissal of realpolitik in favor of what I consider unwarranted optimistic idealism
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Even if you support minimum wage laws you don't need the federal government involved. Since minimum wage laws are popular, most states already have their own laws. And if states don't wish to have a minimum wage, there's no reason for federal interference. Bachmann and Cain are right to support repealing the federal minimum wage.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Moammar Gaddafi has been a brutal dictator for a long time. In addition to his typical repressive actions at home, he's also had extensive ties with terrorists. There are reports that he personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing. But now, after all this time, with Gaddafi fighting for the survival of his regime, the ICC has decided to issue a meaningless arrest warrant for him for supposed "crimes against humanity."
Not only has the ICC waited until his regime is embroiled in a civil war, where his ruthless attempts to crush the rebels are pretty standard tactics, but it waited until NATO was already trying to kill him. What's the point of this ridiculous indictment? The Libyan government responded by saying that the "ICC has no legitimacy whatsoever." Gaddafi isn't right about much, but he's right about that.
Friday, June 24, 2011
"The president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk that I was originally prepared to accept," Admiral Mullen said. ... Petraeus said, "the ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation, if you will, in terms of the timeline than what we had recommended." ... Petraeus said he supports the president's decision and will carry it out, but he refused to say he is comfortable with it.Robert Kagan claims military commanders "know Obama's decision is a disaster."
The entire military leadership believes the president’s decision is a mistake, and especially the decision to withdraw the remainder of the surge forces by September 2012. They will soldier on and do their best, but as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, put it, in characteristic understatement, they believe the decision will increase the risk to the troops and increase the chance that the mission will not succeed.Let's assume this is true, and the statements by Mullen and Petraeus indicate that it might be. Kagan writes,
Under our Constitution, military leaders have no choice but to endorse the president’s decision after giving him their best advice. They could resign, of course, but to have the entire senior military leadership resign over a president’s decision contrary to their advice would be a disaster, and not least for the troops on the ground.Kagan is dead wrong. If our military leaders truly believe that the president's decision is disaster done for political reasons, they have a duty to resign in protest. You can't have it both ways. If you go along with the president, then you automatically sign off on the plan. When you get to the level of a General Petraeus or an Admiral Mullen, you have a duty to resign if you feel that the president is doing the wrong thing and will harm U.S. national interests.
When is the last time a high-ranking officer resigned in protest of a presidential policy decision on military affairs? Today we have military officers who don't want to end their careers, and just go along with things they supposedly feel are terrible decisions. In my opinion that's an abdication of responsibility.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Half-measures have been the American way of war since the conclusion of World War 2., The president's latest move, to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan is based on little more than political calculations, and bad ones at that. Is there anyone who seriously believes the situation in Afghanistan is so improved that we can reasonably start pulling out troops? Does anyone really think the incredibly corrupt and incompetent Karzai government and Afghan military are ready to start taking over their own war effort any time in the foreseeable future? Is there any question that we will have to keep troops in Afghanistan indefinitely unless we drastically change our strategic objectives?
In my opinion this withdrawal has two main political calculations. First, by starting limited withdrawals, Obama is offering the pretense that our efforts have achieved such success that we need less troops in Afghanistan. In other words, he wants to be able to claim successful prosecution of the war. Second, he wants the American people -- a majority of whom are sick of the Afghanistan War -- to see withdrawals in the hope that they believe he is winding the war down. I'd be willing to bet that very few people, at least among those paying attention, are buying either of those propositions.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
If you subscribe to the idiocy of American Atheists as noted in the previous post, the city of Los Angeles is one giant violation of the constitution. First off, it is named after angels. Like heaven, angels are part of Christian theology. Therefore calling it the city of angels must be a violation of church state separation. But it gets worse. Not only is it named for mythical beings endorsed by Christianity, but it actually has 86 streets named after Catholic saints. Maybe American Atheists should get right on that and start filing lawsuits. That wouldn't be any crazier than objecting to a street sign saying "seven in heaven."
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
A street has been named for them which, unfortunately, encroaches unnecessarily on the separation of Church and State. ... Named “Seven in Heaven Way”, the street uses the tragedy of 911 to legitimize Christianity by asserting that Heaven is a real place, and that all these heroes are actually there.I've seen some stupid and counterproductive claims by atheist groups before, but this one has to be the most idiotic. These people are just looking for something to offend them. The idea that a sign saying "seven in heaven," a phrase that can be interpreted metaphorically and which refers to no specific religion, is some sort of violation of church state separation is utterly ludicrous. Making such a claim against an innocuous memorial street sign not only promotes hostility toward atheists, but undermines the credibility of both the New York atheist group and American Atheists. The next time either organization has a legitimate case against a real violation of church state separation, it will be easy for opponents to dismiss them as extremists nuts who want to ban public use of words with any religious connotations.
Monday, June 20, 2011
From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars. ... far less widely known are the sheer size, variety and audaciousness of a rapidly expanding drone universe, along with the dilemmas that come with it.The roles and uses of drones will continue to expand, on land, sea, air and in space. The Times article looks at miniaturization and efforts to copy the flight of insects, but there are numerous other applications and possibilities for drone technology.
The Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. Within the next decade the Air Force anticipates a decrease in manned aircraft but expects its number of “multirole” aerial drones like the Reaper — the ones that spy as well as strike — to nearly quadruple, to 536. Already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.
One thing is rarely mentioned in the many articles I've read about drones: defense against them. At the moment we are the leading user of drones and at the forefront of drone technology. Our opponents are non-state forces that are relatively low-tech in comparison. But at some point we might face an adversary with a sophisticated drone arsenal of its own, especially as drone technology not only becomes more advanced, but more widespread. With our extensive research efforts in developing drones, I hope we are also devoting some resources to defensive measures against enemy systems.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
A President Obama impersonator was pulled off the stage Saturday at the Republican Leadership Conference, after telling a string of racially themed jokes about the president. ... He proceeded to tell a series of off-color jokes poking fun at Obama’s biracial heritage and a gay member of Congress.That's just great. Democrats already claim that the slightest Republican criticism of Obama is based on racism. Let's give them some ammunition. The moron who booked this guy should be fired immediately.
Friday, June 17, 2011
[Carle] said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole ... Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. ... It is not clear whether the White House received any damaging material about Professor Cole or whether the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies ever provided any information or spied on him.There is no corroboration for this story.
Intelligence officials disputed Mr. Carle’s account, saying that White House officials did ask about Professor Cole in 2006, but only to find out why he had been invited to C.I.A.-sponsored conferences on the Middle East. The officials said that the White House did not ask for sensitive personal information, and that the agency did not provide it.The Bush administration had plenty of enemies in the CIA, so this sort of uncorroborated story is highly dubious at best. Naturally the Times would like an anti-Bush story to be true, and happened to leave out an important detail which was brought to my attention by Alana Goodman in Commentary.
There are a few key pieces of information the Times leaves out. One is that Carle’s soon-to-be-released book (which the Times only mentions in passing), is about Carle’s disillusionment with the CIA and the war on terror. ... Sounds like Carle isn’t a big fan of the Bush administration. It might have been helpful for the Times to include that piece of background in its article.Goodman also points out that Cole has no credibility anyway except with leftists, so why would the administration even bother to go to those lengths?
Is it possible that the Bush administration misused the CIA as Carle claims? Sure. But is it likely, given what we know from this story? No. What is more likely that Carle a) is one of the many people who still suffers from Bush Derangement Syndrome, b) read way too much into an innocuous request asking why Cole was at that conference, and c) is spinning a fairy tale in an effort to sell books.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
An army has to wage war on behalf of something real. For better or worse, “king and country” is real, and so, mostly for worse, are the tribal loyalties of Africa’s blood-drenched civil wars. But it’s hardly surprising that it’s difficult to win wars waged on behalf of something so chimerical as “the international community.” If you’re making war on behalf of an illusory concept, is it even possible to have war aims? What’s ours? “[We] are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people,” General Petraeus said in April. Somewhere generations of old-school imperialists are roaring their heads off, not least at the concept of “the Afghan people.” But when you’re the expeditionary force of the parliament of man, what else is there?The whole article is worth reading.
h/t The Atheist Conservative
"From the base of skull and jaw beyond his lower back and into his right arm as well," ... "He has 50 pellet wounds. That is only one that was removed during surgery. He is going to be carrying around buckshot for the rest of his life."Luckily, it looks like he's going to be okay. The reason I'm posting on this story is that it was also picked up by the Huffington Post. Check out the comments. There are a significant amount of people actually defending the shooter, or basically saying that even though he went too far, the kid had it coming.
I'm about as pro-gun and pro-self defense as you can get, but this guy gives gun owners a bad name. I've read multiple accounts of this story and find no information that these kids were doing anything other than ringing doorbells and running away. I don't care how annoying it is, you can't shoot them -- especially when they run from you. There's no defense for this idiot's actions, and it's a travesty that he was released on only 10,000 dollars bail. Someone that would do such a thing is a clear and obvious threat. He's apparently unable to distinguish the difference between an irritating but harmless situation, and one justifying lethal force. What's next, attempting to kill some kid who cuts across his lawn?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.Although I'm strongly opposed to the Libyan intervention because I don't think it is in the U.S. interest, I also oppose this lawsuit for the following reasons.
1. The War Powers Act itself is constitutionally dubious at best. As a general rule, I oppose its use.
2. I believe that as Commander in Chief the president should have wide latitude in the use of U.S. forces, even though I am against this particular operation. I'm not in favor of tying the president's hands when it comes to whether or not to employ the military in foreign policy situations.
3. Whether or not the president can commit troops to a foreign intervention without Congressional approval is not something that should be the subject of a lawsuit, or that a federal judge should have any authority to rule on. If Congress wants to block the Libyan operation they can just cut off funding. And if they think the president is actually breaking the law, or violating the Constitution, they can impeach him.
4. Because Congress as a whole is not willing to exercise the above remedies, this action by only 10 of its members amounts to a stunt. It is a typical minority attempt to circumvent the normal functioning of our democracy by looking for a judicial fiat.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
it was striking that the ideas on offer were largely conservative boilerplate: There is no problem, it seems, that can’t be solved by cutting taxes, slashing government and eviscerating regulations.Dionne doesn't seem to realize that Republican mantras compare quite favorably with Democratic solutions to most problems: raising taxes, bigger government, and increased regulation & bureaucracy.
I have to laugh when I read all the analysis in the wake of the first Republican presidential debate. Most of it seems to ignore the fact that it's June 2011, nowhere near even the primaries, let alone the general election. Jumping to conclusions based on one minor event so far out is ridiculous, but that hasn't stopped pundits and bloggers.
Apparently the general consensus is that Michele Bachmann did well, Tim Pawlenty did not, and everyone else was relatively unremarkable. Will this debate have any serious effect on the Republican nomination? I doubt it. There's an eternity in political time still to go before the GOP selects its candidate.
Monday, June 13, 2011
After losing the NBA championship to the Dallas Mavericks, LeBron James had this to say on Twitter.
"The Greater Man upstairs knows when it's my time," James tweeted. "Right now isn't my time."This joins the many sports quotes attributing losses or victories in some way to God, rather than to things that are just a bit more concrete. Maybe LeBron hasn't considered that it was his time, but he just blew it. His apparent malaise in the fourth quarter throughout most of the series, his invisibility in game 4, and the Heat's inability to hold a lead late in most of the games might have had a bit more to do with their loss than whether or not God thought it was time for for LeBron James to win a championship.
I know I'm picking on LeBron, but I was just reading post-game coverage and happened to notice his tweet. There were the usual interviews after the game with Mavericks players thanking God, as if an imaginary being chooses sides in sports contests. Then again, maybe he hates the Miami Heat too, like most people who aren't Heat fans.
Treasure-hunter Bill Warren of California has reportedly launched a search operation in the North Arabian Sea to discover the body of Osama bin Laden, as he does 'not believe in the statement given by the US government' that his body was buried at sea.As the article points out,
Warren insisted he will go ahead with the search despite the fact that the use of hi-tech equipment and several boats would make it an extremely expensive affair.This idiot is actually planning to waste significant time and money looking for a single body that was buried at sea, all based on a ridiculous conspiracy theory. When he fails to find the body,will he even consider the long odds against locating a single weighted corpse at some unspecified place in the sea? I doubt it. It's far more likely that his failure will just reinforce his conspiracy theory beliefs.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
The Court ... ruled Thursday that France had failed to protect the Great Hamster of Alsace, sometimes known as the European hamster, the last wild hamster species in Western Europe. If France does not adjust its agricultural and urbanization policies sufficiently to protect it, the court said, the government will be subject to fines of as much as $24.6 million.Since hamsters, much like mice and other rodents, are pests that damage crops, French farmers used to kill them. Now, not only can't they kill them, but they have to grow food for them.
France “now must work to raise the population of hamsters up to 1,500,” which would be enough to preserve the species, he said, and the prefecture of Alsace “must stop some urbanization projects and restore” older agreements to grow certain cereals that hamsters eat.You can't make this stuff up.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Using data released last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles and the operations of its nuclear program, U.S. weapons expert Gregory Jones calculates it could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb in just eight weeks. ... According to Mr. Jones, there is nothing the U.S. or Israel can do to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons--short of a military occupation. Since the odds of that happening are virtually nil, Jones believes an Iranian bomb is a foregone conclusion.As the post notes, if these recent assessments are correct, it looks like the cyber attacks and various covert actions against Iran have been less successful than originally thought. According to a study by the RAND Corporation, attempts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability can already be considered a failure. Here's what RAND recommends.
The goal of U.S. foreign policy should now shift to dissuade Iran from taking the next step of making a weapon, the study says, adding if that fails, Washington should have a back-up strategy to deter a nuclear-armed Iran.If we couldn't talk them into giving up their nuclear aspirations, it is equally unlikely that we can somehow persuade then not to take the final step. Rather than continuing with our official policy of wishful thinking, we should recognize reality and get ready to implement a deterrent strategy. In the meantime we should step up covert action aimed at sabotaging all elements of the Iranian nuclear program.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Defence Secretary Robert Gates announced plans for the base during his visit to Singapore last week. ... According to the Singaporean Defence Ministry, those steps include deploying to Singapore ‘one or two’ of the new Littoral Combat Ships current under construction in the United States. The 400-foot-long, high-speed warships, optimized for shallow-water operations, would be the first US military vessels permanently stationed in the tiny Southeast Asian country, although the Navy for many years has maintained a support facility there.The linked article speculates that this might be a response to Chinese naval expansion
Monday, June 6, 2011
The front page of the Washington Post online leads with the headline story, "For GOP, no new taxes — and no compromise." The article is a thinly-disguised anti-Republican propaganda piece pretending to be analysis. It goes something like this. Back in the old days the GOP used to be fiscally responsible, but today's Republicans are unreasonable, blind ideologues who oppose all tax increases for no good reason that we can possibly imagine. How did this rigid orthodoxy on taxes come to be? And look, here are some "good" Republicans who agree with us.
Since it is not really any sort of objective analysis, the article fails to point out the main reasons Republican oppose tax increases, even ones that will supposedly help reduce the deficit.
1. There is no evidence that giving the government more money will help reduce the deficit, instead of just giving it more reasons not to cut spending. There is no political will to pass even the most modest spending cuts.
2. Democrats do not want to cut spending, with the exception of defense. In fact, most Democrats want to spend more money on social programs, government schemes that supposedly stimulate the economy, and all sorts of other things. When you are the party of big government, cutting government spending strikes at the heart of your political philosophy.
3. The large budget deficit and astronomical debt are the only reasons why much of the political class even gives lip service to ideas about fiscal responsibility. If they are provided with new tax revenues, there will then be no impetus to address our long-term fiscal situation. They will gladly pretend they are addressing the problems, while gleefully finding new ways to spend the increased taxes. In the absence of any serious resolve to cut government and limit spending, giving the government more money is clearly counterproductive.
In summary, since the political class as a whole, and the Democratic Party in particular, is still not serious about addressing the deficit, let alone the debt, there is simply no reason to increase the tax burden on Americans. All that will do is give the government more money to spend, which will preserve and strengthen big government. Far from being some sort of irrational, blind orthodoxy, Republican opposition to tax increases is based on reason, and an accurate assessment of political reality.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
David Cameron will emerge as the victor from a bitter cabinet battle over multiculturalism this week as the government unveils a hardline approach to tackling Islamist extremism.Apparently Clegg and other useful idiots for Islamism within the UK wanted to provide money to Islamic extremist groups as long as they didn't openly advocate violence.
Home Office sources say that Cameron has quashed Nick Clegg's argument for a more tolerant attitude to Muslim groups by insisting on a strategy centred upon the notion that violent extremism is incubated within the ideology of non-violent extremism.
Cameron said it was "nonsense" to fund groups with extremist elementsYou might think that would be obvious.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Spurred by online social networks, atheist and "free thinker" support groups are mushrooming in India's major cities.However,
as a recent survey reveals, the Western perception of India's benign, hippie spirituality is a fantasy. Despite 60 years of democracy, India remains one of the world's most repressive societies, according to a global study published in Science last week. And even as political groups routinely use religion to stoke hatred and provoke deadly riots, the constitution and the law seem bent on intertwining — rather than separating — religion and the state.The article goes on to note that Indian atheists face intense family pressure to conform to religious norms, and that open unbelief is the province of only a tiny fraction of India's huge population. Check it out.
If gas hydrates as well as shale gas, tight oil, oil sands and other unconventional sources can be tapped at reasonable cost, then the global energy picture looks radically different than it did only a few years ago. Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come. ... The abundance and geographic diversity of fossil fuels made possible by technology in time will reduce the dependence of the U.S. on particular foreign energy exporters, eliminating the national security argument for renewable energy. And if the worst-case scenarios for climate change were plausible, then the most effective way to avert catastrophic global warming would be the rapid expansion of nuclear power, not over-complicated schemes worthy of Rube Goldberg or Wile E. Coyote to carpet the world’s deserts and prairies with solar panels and wind farms that would provide only intermittent energy from weak and diffuse sources.The whole article is definitely worth reading.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
South African unions announced plans to strike at Massmart stores, and South African government officials promised to review the deal. But Massmart itself says that it plans to open 50 to 100 new shops in South Africa and Wal-Mart itself plans to expand deeper into the 53 other countries of the African continent.I wrote about Walmart-haters awhile back, who have succeed in depriving people of its benefits in some U.S. cities. It looks like South Africa may have Walmarts before places in the U.S. that could really use one, such as Detroit.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Mines are not glamorous, but they are deadly weapons, both on land and sea. Unfortunately, capacity to clear mines usually lags behind the ability to manufacture and deploy them.
The U.S., and other major navies, are hustling to improve their mine clearing capabilities. But based on historical experience, and technical advances, the smart money is still on the mines. ... While often ignored, naval mines, in general, are a formidable weapon. But they just don't get any respect. The historical record indicates that admirals should rethink their attitudes.China ostensibly needs all those mines to protect its long coastline. But as the article points out, mines can also be deployed offensively. And China has a lot of them.