Obama’s Non-War

The usual course of action is that when the guns go off, we citizens are to rally ’round the flag and back our forces in the pursuit of victory. But that is a bit impossible right now – Obama and his Administration are telling us, over and over, that this isn’t a war. That we’ll be bombing the heck out of things and that lots of people will die horrific, violent deaths at our hands doesn’t count: per Obama and Co, war is only in existence is U.S. troops are on the ground doing the fighting.

So, no war – and thus no rallying ’round the flag. And even if we decided – correctly – that Obama and Co are just full of “stuff” and that this is a war so we’d better rally anyways, what would we be rallying for? Not for victory, because there can be no victory in this non-war. Its not like the enemy commander can offer to surrender to a drone. We’ll bomb a lot and kill a lot of people and this will help those who are fighting the people we’re bombing – and that, in turn, might lead others to victory. A Kurdish victory would be ok, as the Kurds seem a lot of very decent people – but it could also lead to Assad’s victory in Syria and Iran’s victory in Iraq; not exactly ideal outcomes for us. It could also lead to victory for non-ISIS, non-Assad forces in Syria, this might not work out well, either. Let’s just say I have my doubts about Administration assurances that they can pick the non-Islamist-screwball forces in Syria for us to back.

We can also get the worst of all worlds – we blow a lot of stuff up and kill a lot of people with attendant video showing what a bunch of hideous war criminals we are but after all that, Assad still rules his part of Syria, ISIS still rules vast tracts of Syria and Iraq and Iran has secured itself the part of Iraq it cares about (ie, Baghdad plus the oil fields). That sort of outcome is made doubly bad because if ISIS survives in any form, it will become the Islamist hero as it stood up to us, endured a pounding and emerged from the welter of slaughter with victory. Of course, all of this won’t fully come out until after Obama leaves office, so he probably doesn’t care in the least about it, even if he’s aware of the possibility.

This whole thing is the terribly bad decision of a man – Obama – who knows nothing of history, nothing of the world and yet sits assured that he’s the smartest guy in the room. I hope it works out – and I hope our losses are small. But the rule of thumb for war is that you either go all in, or stay all out. Our choices for ISIS were two:

1.  Go all out to war against them until they are all killed or taken, regardless of cost.

2.  Surrender to them and allow them to do as the wish.

Either course of action can have rational arguments to back them up. We have failed to choose between them – we’re just going to bomb a bit and hope for the best. I believe we will be disappointed – and maybe in a vastly worse geo-strategic situation two or three years from now.

UPDATE: Reeling from criticism about us not being at war, the Administration has decided we are at war with ISIS, just as we are against al-Qaeda. Meaning? I guess that six years from now ISIS will be around and a threat, just as al-Qaeda is still around and a threat after six years of Obama…

Just Not Getting It – Open Thread Version

I meant to write a post about this article last week, and have since noticed that there is now a Part II version, which I have yet to read. But you see, according to the author, the reason why the racial divide still thrives is because of smug White delusion. We just don’t understand the plight of Black Americans. We’re too stupid and we need to have more conversations on this issue because we just haven’t discussed this topic enough. Like Eric Holder says, “we are a nation of cowards”. There were many statistics included in the article to support the authors contention, one of which was this:

The black-white income gap is roughly 40 percent greater today than it was in 1967.

One obvious conclusion to me for this result could be that the Democrats coveted “war on poverty” is a colossal failure. Another stat was this:

Because of the catastrophic experiment in mass incarceration, black men in their 20s without a high school diploma are more likely to be incarcerated today than employed

I don’t remember any “experiment in mass incarceration” – can anyone help me out here?

The way I see it, Black America has a huge cultural problem within their own community and that is a problem that only they can resolve. There have been an untold number of government programs and initiatives designed to lift them up, individually and collectively, and obviously they have all failed, and I just don’t think more “conversation” is going to help either. One idea does come to mind – improving the economy. 

Feel free to speak your mind on this issue and prove Eric Holder wrong! 

If You Really Want to Fight ISIS…

…then you’d better be willing to go to war. I mean real war. With two million American personnel over in the Middle East for a decade and a complete re-casting of Middle Eastern life under American rule for a long while.

As regular readers know, with Obama in the White House I have become a peacenik – all I am saying, is give peace a chance because I’m dead certain that any war Obama commands will be a lost war. But, maybe I’m wrong and Obama will turn into a regular Abraham Lincoln as war leader – and, so, let’s get to fighting, if that is what you want. After all, if ISIS isn’t worth fighting, then there’s never any cause to fight, ever.

But if we do this, then think about a few things. Don’t get upset about how long it takes: it will take a long time. Don’t get upset about harsh measures: harsh measures will be necessary. Don’t get upset about civilian deaths: civilians will die (especially as most of the people who would put up the stoutest fight are certain to use civilians as shields).  Think about what you want to accomplish: just to kill some ISIS guys, or to actually get to a general settlement of the Middle East?  Killing ISIS guys is fine; but just killing them won’t get rid of what created ISIS – which was not, by the way, Bush’s invasion of Iraq but a series of decisions of the past 1,000 years by the overall Muslim world as affected by various outside forces.

Resign yourself to a long, grinding, expensive fight among people who will alternately hate us or be resentful of us (with just maybe a few groups of people actually catching on that we’re helping them – these people will be invaluable to us). Or, just give it up and let things take their course.  Our choice. But let no one choose lightly. On either side is death and destruction – in a sense, there are no right answers to the problem.  There are a series of wrong answers, and we’d just be trying to find the least wrong thing to do, with a hope that we’ll eventually put things to right.

 

Settled Science

At the risk of being called a denier, and/or other names by the AGW mafia, I have to think that their fear driven, money grabbing, power based claims of the “world coming to an end”, might be just a bit premature, if not outright unfounded. As late as 2007, the chief AGW alarmist, Al Gore, predicted that the Arctic Sea would be ice free by 2014. Well considering this recent report, it seems as though he missed the mark:

……seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012.

That’s the problem with settled science based on consensus – it’s fact free, and based only on opinion and data. Two measures of which are easily manipulated and influenced by long sought after goals of centralized power and wealth distribution. Take for example, these “science based” conclusions:

- Dr Hawkins added that the decline seen in recent years was not caused only by global warming. It was, he said, intensified by ‘natural variability’ – shifts in factors such as the temperature of the oceans. This, he said, has happened before, such as in the 1920s and 1930s, when ‘there was likely some sea ice retreat’.

- Dr Hawkins said: ‘There is undoubtedly some natural variability on top of the long-term downwards trend caused by the overall warming. This variability has probably contributed somewhat to the post-2000 steep declining trend, although the human-caused component still dominates.’

- Dr Hawkins said these natural processes may be cyclical. If and when they go into reverse, they will cool, not warm, the Arctic, in which case, he said, ‘a decade with no declining trend’ in ice cover would be ‘entirely plausible’.

- Peer-reviewed research suggests that at least until 2005, natural variability was responsible for half the ice decline. But exactly how big its influence is remains an open question – and as both Dr Hawkins and Prof Curry agreed, establishing this is critical to making predictions about the Arctic’s future.

- ‘Ice-free in 2050 is a possible scenario, but I don’t think it is a likely scenario,’ she concluded.

In light of these inconvenient worldly occurrences and shifting scientific opinions, which are resulting in rational people questioning the heretic and apoplectic predictions of AGW alarmists, the UN and our President are now choosing to bypass the rational based crowd and forge agreements on their own to resolve this manufactured crisis. Perhaps they see their window of opportunity to distribute and hijack huge amounts of wealth closing. And of course, championing this effort by our radical President to hurt America’s economy are the legions of leftists who believe that if America would just give up our jobs and wealth first, other nations will follow:

President Obama “is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement” but “without ratification from Congress,….the U.N. framework gives poor countries a voice, and hence a means for extracting aid in return for their consent to a climate treaty. As I’ve explained, you can have either climate justice (meaning compensation for poor countries hardest hit by climate change) or a climate treaty—not both……………By citing an international agreement, by contrast, government lawyers may be able to convince courts that our regulations will in fact accomplish something, by inspiring reciprocal action by foreign governments.

The left driven agenda of “climate change” has never been about rational, fact based concerns of staving off “the end of times”. It has always been a purely political driven agenda with goals of centralizing power and control over national economies and redistributing wealth into the hands the noble worldly elite. To date, these goals have been not as transparent, but considering that the world’s climate just isn’t cooperating with the “consensus models”, I think millions of people are starting to wake up and disagree with this agenda and see it for what it is. What millions of people will agree with I think, are sensible plans to carefully extract our vast reserves of natural gas and crude oil and lessen our dependence on unstable, violent countries, while at the same time incentivizing entrepreneurs and the private markets to find a sustainable, cleaner and viable greener energy platform, and that is a winning strategy the GOP should pounce on.

The Official Unemployment Rate is, Well, Bogus

For lack of a better word:

The U.S. jobs report, a key measure of how well the economy is doing, has gotten increasingly less accurate in the past 20 years. The fix for that problem could be in a surprising place: Twitter.

Those are the conclusions of two separate reports out this month. The first report, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the unemployment number released by the government suffers from a problem faced by other pollsters: Lack of response. This problem dates back to a 1994 redesign of the survey when it went from paper-based to computer-based, although neither the researchers nor anyone else has been able to offer a reason for why the redesign has affected the numbers.

What the researchers found was that, for whatever reason, unemployed workers, who are surveyed multiple times are most likely to respond to the survey when they are first given it and ignore the survey later on…

This works out to an under count of the unemployed and/or an over count of people not in the labor force – the bottom line is that the official unemployment rate doesn’t really reflect the unemployment picture. This is something we’ve known for a while just by the labor force participation rate: if we are in a recovery, it should not be going down. The fact that it is down means that something is off – and calculations of unemployment based upon, say, a 2007 level of participation would still likely have the official rate in double digit territory. But now we see that aside from that, the basic survey is just flawed.

I’ve long had grave doubts about the whole methodology we use to judge the state of the economy.  We aren’t quite as bizarre as Spain, which is apparently set to use transactions in, shall we say, ladies who work in a very specialized form of entertainment, as part of their GDP, but we’re close. To me, there is something absurd in counting government spending as part of GDP, let alone counting what a lonely man blows a hundred bucks on. Real economic strength should be judged by what we make, mine and grow.

If the economy is improving, we’ll see it in statistics of corn production, gasoline refined, tons of iron ore mined, and things like that. These things can’t lie and they can’t be fudged. Did we, or did we not, produce more steel in July of 2014 than in June of 2014? July of 2013? July of 2004?  If the answer is “less” then that would be a bad indicator.  It still might be partially explained by other factors (maybe we’re more efficient in our use of steel, for instance), but the bottom line is that if the production is up, then things are better than if production is down…because people don’t produce for customers that don’t exist. I want to know the measure of production for real goods that people use – I want to know what it is last month, the month before that, the year before that and ten years before that…this way I can see how things are going in both the short and long term; and no need to seasonally adjust: each July will be pretty much like all other Julys. Just tell me what was made, mined and grown – I’ll then see for myself if things are worse, better or just the same…and that will also inform me of what the employment picture is like. If we’re producing less steel, it is a cinch that we’ve got less steel workers, and so on.

We don’t need to know how many people are working in the legal industry – it produces no wealth. Don’t need to know how many people are working in the tourist industry – it also produces no wealth, once you understand that wealth is not a casino mogul in Vegas raking it in hand over fist, but a farmer in the midwest growing corn. The reality is that the entirety of our economy – all of that government and law firms and casinos, etc – is dependent upon the ability of the United States to make, mine and grow things. If we don’t make, mine and grow enough things, then the economy is doomed, no matter how much money the Fed prints to keep things going for years after the economy collapsed. So, let’s start counting what matters and see what our economy is actually like – it’ll tell us what we need to do.

 

A Progressive (Sorta) Figures it Out

But cut him some slack on being 7 years or so later than the non-Progressives – after all, he’s a highly respected and credentialed academic and so his knowledge of reality is on the low end of the scale. Anyways, Cornel West has some gripes about The One:

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair…

Brother Cornel’s real problem is that he, himself, is shackled to Progressive thought as much as Obama is. It never occurred to Professor West that the reality is that Progressives are the Ruling Class.  And as such, they defend the status quo because any change to that means Progressives will be out of power and out of wealth. People like West think they are still out there getting ready to storm the barricades of the Ruling Class never realizing that they are the merest tools and foot-soldiers of the Ruling Class.  The Ruling Class likes people like West – they provide a patina of intellect to a class of people who are only in it for the money, power and fame. They also cook up arguments which allow the Ruling Class to pretend they are on the side of the people.  If West were to actually sit down and think about it all, now that he’s seen Obama for the fraud that he is, then he’d also start to realize that his Progressive ethic is the foundation of the fraud (seen more clearly in the way West – and the rest of the left – turn reality on ts head and find themselves on the side of bloodthirsty tyrants in Hamas vs the liberal democrats of Israel).

I actually have all sorts of sympathy for Mr. West.  He’s sincere. He really believes what he believes.  He really wants justice and mercy and equality to prevail – but he’s also been suckered his whole life by a left wing narrative and he’s so far proven himself incapable of breaking out of it, even when the stark, cruel truth is right in front of him. If he’d just realize that Obama hasn’t conned people any more than Reid or Pelosi or Sharpton or Jackson or Biden or Clinton (both of them), etc, etc, etc then he’d be on the route to being useful in the fight for liberty and justice for all. Solzhenitsyn noted this problem with Progressives in his Gulag Archipelago. Writing about the true-blue communists that Stalin, in his humor, raked in along with the “kulaks” and “wreckers”, Solzhenitsyn noted this inability to draw conclusions.  The communists remained convinced that the communist system was good; that Stalin was good – they couldn’t go from Step A to Step B and realize that if a gross injustice is carried out under the authority of those who claim to be for justice, then maybe they aren’t telling the truth. West is still stuck in the rut – certain that Obama is a fraud, he can’t go past that and realize that Obama is just one of many frauds…and maybe, just maybe, some on the right are better allies?

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some blind people on the right, as well – but they are only a small minority compared to the blind on the left. In reality, you have to be a bit blind just to be of the left. You have to ignore some basic facts about humanity and history in order to really think, for instance, that a set of bureaucrats in DC could, say, craft a health care system for all Americans. But I still take it as encouraging that someone like West has at least partially awakened – and it makes me hopeful that maybe over 2014 and 2016 we can do some genuine good…that we can really get some hope for change.

A Lesson from Ferguson: Our Criminal Justice is Broken

This is just astounding:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

Was Brown stopped just so the police could write a revenue-generating ticket?  That is something we need to determine as the investigation goes on – regardless of how the shooting is ruled or what happens to the police officer.

It has been growing on me for years now that we are massively over-law’d in the United States. There are too many laws, too many fines – and the police and prosecutors have too much discretion in deciding whom will enter the meat grinder of our criminal justice system.  Of course, as long as you have money, you’re going to be ok – OJ Simpson, after all, got away with double murder because he had the scratch to hire an all-star defense team. But for some poor body in the inner city who gets pulled over for a traffic violation or gets picked up for minor drug possession?  Forget it: he’s screwed…and once the criminal justice system gets hold of him, it won’t let him go.  Remember, if you don’t appear in court (and maybe you don’t because you have a job you can’t get out of – or have children you can’t find a sitter for and the judge won’t let you bring them into court), you get a warrant for your arrest…and if arrested, you’ll get more fines on top of the original fine.  And if you can’t pay, then you just get in more trouble.

Things like this really make me wonder – do murders go unsolved because there’s no revenue upside for the city?  Are high crime areas ill policed because the cops are out writing tickets? Last time I got a ticket (figured that STOP meant Short Tap On Pedal) the officer was about 20 minutes writing me up.  Twenty minutes he wasn’t out patrolling the streets. He writes 10 tickets per shift and how much time does that leave for the actual job of the police?  Additionally – when we hear someone has a criminal record, does that mean he’s a murderer, or just someone who got busted for pot?

We really need to rethink this – most importantly, the fact that the revenues from fines goes to the municipality which issued the ticket. There’s just too much incentive for cash-strapped cities and counties to see fines as a means to revenue rather than a tool for law enforcement. Maybe make fewer fines and more community service, instead?  I don’t know, but we need to think about this – and I think we might have a situation where the poor, especially the urban poor, are caught in a bind.