Watching his victory speech on Fox News right now. He's talking about making the GOP more desirable to all Americans (e.g. winning in Northeastern states). Steele is fiscally conservative but socially moderate, so hopefully he'll provide some much needed leadership once the Democrats fuck everything up and they're voted out of office. Not that I want America to fail under Obama's leadership, but it seems inevitable at this point.
31 January 2009
Watching his victory speech on Fox News right now. He's talking about making the GOP more desirable to all Americans (e.g. winning in Northeastern states). Steele is fiscally conservative but socially moderate, so hopefully he'll provide some much needed leadership once the Democrats fuck everything up and they're voted out of office. Not that I want America to fail under Obama's leadership, but it seems inevitable at this point.
The influential economist Paul Krugman writes today that we need nationalized health care...now! So it's a pretty sure thing that the Democratic Party has issued their marching orders and is going to dump the big turd that is socialized health care on the taxpayers. Ideological opposition to health care isn't a difficult case to make. It's way outside the Constitutional responsibilities of the federal government, breeds a culture of sloth and reliance on federal aid, and socialized health care allows the government to interfere more with citizens private affairs. Practically speaking, it's too damn expensive and the government isn't even capable of providing effective health services to disabled vets via the VA. But that didn't stop some opportunistic Dems from slipping in free health care as part of the stimulus plan. From Hot Air:
Rahm Emanuel once advised that crisis means opportunity, and the Democrats have taken that message to heart. They’ve exploited the sense of economic crisis in order to build a Trojan Horse stimulus bill that encompasses all of their legislative goals — and they’re trying to stampede people into supporting it out of panic. Hope and Change? More like Fear and Loathing.Powerline has the details of how Medicaid is going to be made available to damn near everyone if the stimulus package becomes law. Also, CATO took out a full page ad in the NYT to warn America that the stimulus was going to be a bust. Some might say the Cloward-Piven strategy of orchestrating mass chaos in society to usher in a new regime is a bit conspiratorial. But it certainly seems to be going that way.
What this does has nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Worse, it exponentially increases the difficulty in reforming entitlements, and Medicare already was the one program most in need of reform. It’s heading into insolvency even without the additional load of ten million new and unplanned subscribers in three weeks. Now, we will have even more subscribers to throw into the reform grinder, making it more painful than ever to effect the necessary changes to bring the program back into solvency.
Most people say all kinds of bad things about their employer and/or boss. But it's generally in hushed tones at work and not to an international media source, like Samatha Powers did last March when she called Hillary a "monster" while she was an Obama aide. From CBS:
The Associated Press reports that Power will serve as senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council. This may make for some awkwardness: In her new capacity, Power will be in close contact and may have to travel with Clinton, the new Secretary of State.Haha, to please Hillary Powers probably had to kiss her ring like some 14th-century penitent in the Vatican. Photos of Samantha Powers in the stockade outside Foggy Bottom will be posted once they become available.
Since the media firestorm that greeted her comments, Power has been inching back into a more public role in the Obama fold. She reached out to Clinton and was on transition teams for the State Department and the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
Officials close to the transition told the Associated Press that Power's gestures of apology have been well-received by Clinton. The two have met privately since the election. Both Clinton and Power appeared at the recent announcement of Obama's special envoys to South Asia and the Middle East, where they exchanged brief remarks.
30 January 2009
This is something bloggers like The Sniper and myself have been trying to do ever since Obama got elected! God bless these technically-savvy social deviants for providing such an important PSA. From Fox News:
Transportation officials in Texas are scrambling to prevent hackers from changing messages on digital road signs after one sign in Austin was altered to read, "Zombies Ahead."ABWF tips us off with video footage from Austin, but there were no zombies filmed feasting on brains. They must be still slogging their way back from the coronation in D.C. last week.
Chris Lippincott, director of media relations for the Texas Department of Transportation, confirmed that a portable traffic sign at Lamar Boulevard and West 15th Street, near the University of Texas at Austin, was hacked into during the early hours of Jan. 19.
Brandon Friedman (A-stan vet) has some sharp analysis on why we need more troops in Afghanistan that's worth a read. Other COIN luminaries have called for more troops in Afghanistan, and the President has as well. I agree, but there still needs to be a larger active-duty force, which has been pretty steady since 9/11 to prevent morale/readiness problems. But at least it looks like things are going okay in Iraq. Ramblings from a Painter (works at the new embassy in Baghdad) has the scoop on the Provincial Elections scheduled for Saturday:
With over 14,400 candidates vying for 440 council seats, there are a lot of people looking for air time for their messages. I was watching an Iraqi channel on TV a little while ago and saw non-stop political ads. I mean non-stop: there wasn't any scheduled programming! Just ads for this candidate or that, with a bunch of "rock-the-vote" style ads in between.If "too many candidates" is the biggest problem facing Iraqi elections, I'd wager that's pretty good. This is in comparison to 2005 where the Sunnis all boycotted and violence went through the roof. Sure, Iraq still has a lot of problems with poverty, refugees, and corruption, but as far as our military is concerned..."Mission Accomplished". Yeah, I said it, and I'm not even wearing a flight suit with a cod piece. Hopefully our forces can leave Iraq without a lot of problems, because the writing is on the wall that Afghanistan is ramping up.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted at his impeachment trial and thrown out of office Thursday, ending a nearly two-month crisis that erupted with his arrest on charges he tried to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.Blago is pretty much the embodiment of every politician: self-absorbed, super sleazy, and always prattling on about how they "help" poor or working families. We will all miss his shenanigans.
Blagojevich becomes the first U.S. governor in more than 20 years to be removed by impeachment.
After a four-day trial, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to convict him on the broad charge of abuse of power, then again to disqualify him from ever again holding office in Illinois.
29 January 2009
This whole messy ordeal has advanced my Botox start date by at least two years. Like every other DABA girl, the economy was wreaking havoc on my relationship and youthful good looks. Phone calls went unanswered, Hamptons invitations un-extended, plans canceled (including, but not limited to, expensive opening night tickets to the ballet, which were scalped instead of being graciously offered to me and a galpal), and so forth and so on. Until – the horror of all horrors – my FBF lost his job, which I guess technically downgrades him to just my BF.In general, being an attractive woman is an excuse for just about any sort of egregious behavior. But not this time! At first you might be led to believe that this site is high satire and ask yourself "Are these broads for real?", but a NY Times article reveals that this is indeed not a joke. NYT:
About 30 women, generally in their mid- to late-20s, regularly post to the Web site or attend meetings.The Huffington Post sympathizes with the plight of these money-grubbing wenches to the surprise of no one.
“We do make light of everything on the blog and it’s very tongue in cheek,” said Laney Crowell, 27, who parted ways with a corporate real estate investor last month after a tumultuous relationship. “But it all stems out of really serious and heartfelt situations.”
This is why America will fail. People are fast becoming accustomed to lavish lifestyles and expecting government intervention and external forces to make it all better. I suggest sending these women to live in the garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia so they can learn about real hard times. As an aside, I'm going to take a shot in the dark here, and assert that most of these women voted for Obama.
Sometimes I am flabbergasted by what conservatives (particularly of the evangelical variety) get so worked up about. The stimulus is chocked full of a lot of porky goodness, but sharpshooting the contraceptive portion of it seems like an exercise in futility (especially when it's a mere drop in the bucket as far as funds are concerned). The GOP leadership is probably making a big stink about this to gratify the part of the base that thinks the Earth is only 5000 years old, but it seems as though there are bigger fish to fry IMHO. Here's House Minority Leader Boehner freaking out. From Politico:
“How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) asked after meeting with the president at the White House on Friday. “How does that stimulate the economy?”I understand his point that contraceptive and economic stimulus might have a tenuous connection besides a funny punchline (huh huh stimulus). But I believe there is a need for federal promotion of safe sex. Primarily, because AIDS is an ongoing public health emergency and education plus condom promotion are the best methods to prevent loss of life to this wretched disease. The GOP should recognize that some of the religious right were the nitwits that thought AIDS was divine intervention to kill sodomites (most notoriously Sen. Helms), and opposed any sort of federal response to this epidemic during its initial outbreak in the 1980s.
Waxman had included the funds as part of a $300 million package to slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
The proposal aimed to reduce costs for the states by making it easier for states to pay for contraception for women who qualified under Medicaid and whose income was 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
This ideological, evangelical base opposed to any sort of science that continues to mix their religious beliefs with federal policy needs to quietly go away. Hopefully, if Steele wins RNC chairman, he might make that happen.
Geithner, the recently appointed Treasury Secretary who couldn't figure out TurboTax, has vowed to continue giving the imbeciles on Wall Street that ruined the American economy our taxpayer dollars. However, he has vowed to restrict lobbyist access to what's left of $700B TARP bonanza. From WaPo:
"American taxpayers deserve to know that their money is spent in the most effective way to stabilize the financial system," Geithner said in a statement yesterday. "Today's actions reaffirm our commitment toward that goal."This sounds like a move in the right direction, since the American public has no clue how the first $350B of TARP funds was spent, and all we here from these greedy banks is that they want more. But Geithner is just putting on a dog-and-pony show, because he just hired a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist to be his Chief of Staff. From USA Today:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner picked a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as a top aide Tuesday, the same day he announced rules aimed at reducing the role of lobbyists in agency decisions.So lobbyists might be barred from stealing your tax dollars under this bailout scam, but it's okay for former ones to be the go-to guy in the Treasury department...W-T-F.
Mark Patterson will serve as Geithner's chief of staff at Treasury, which oversees the government's $700 billion financial bailout program. Goldman Sachs received $10 billion of that money.
It's long been known that DC is a cesspool of sleaze and corruption, but the Obama administration rode into power vowing to change all that and impose restrictions on former lobbyists working for its staff. But, already there's a Raytheon lobbyist at the DoD, this Goldman Sachs shill, and the "global warming" czar was on the board of directors for a carbon-offsets firm in 2008. Obama must think the American public and media are so stupid that they wouldn't notice these "minor details". Unfortunately, it's already too late to make a difference.
One humorous anecdote from the USA Today article:
Dave Wenhold, of the American League of Lobbyists, said lobbyists bring expertise to the job. "Just because you are registered to lobby doesn't mean that you are evil, " he said.Maybe not "evil" in the Hitler sense, but having a career based on manipulating public funds to your private employers benefit certainly makes you an asshole.
Nothing has been as bizarre as the Gov. Blagojevich media campaign to profess his innocence. Appealing to suburban housewives by appearing on The Biew, comparing himself to Gandhi, and talking with Geraldo for a solid 10 minutes during an ambush interview. But let's not lose perspective. He abused the authority of office to benefit himself and shake down others for campaign contributions. Governors have been run out of town for less (see Gov. Spitzer). It is an embarrassment to America that Blagojevich was not suitcase-tossed out of office the day these FBI tapes surfaced. This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue, but rather a rule of law vs. corrupt oligarchy issue.
But, Blago's schmoozing with the media and hiring Drew Peterson's PR people seems to be achieving it's desired effect. A regular WaPo Op-Ed contributor proclaims the man's innocence (yes really). From Eugene Robinson:
But it is unclear to me what else Blagojevich has done that a duly constituted jury would find illegal. Even in the matter of his menacing mop, at worst he's a co-conspirator in a dastardly act committed by his barber.The liberal Crooks and Liars echoes sentiment that Blago is guilty by suggesting that this is Republican hit job on a guy who has the misfortune of being goofy. Political opinion has become so ideologically polarized that pundits and analysts rush to defend politicians "on their team", no matter how damning the evidence. A sad state of affairs.
Truth is always stanger than fiction. From San Diego:
A mistrial was declared Monday when a home-invasion robbery suspect smeared human feces on his attorney's face then threw more at the jury.Not sure why the prosecutor is surprised that the juror didn't know he was about to get hit with a big pile of shit. Unless you're in a monkey cage, it's pretty safe to say you're probably not gonna get hit in the face with a turd.
Weusi McGowan, 37, was upset because San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser refused to remove Deputy Alternate Public Defender Jeffrey Martin from the case, prosecutor Christopher Lawson said.
At the mid-morning break, McGowan produced a plastic baggie filled with fecal matter and spread it on Martin's hair and face, then flung the excrement toward the jury box, hitting the briefcase of juror No. 9 but missing the juror himself.
"That juror didn't even see it coming," Lawson said.
28 January 2009
Tom Ricks shares a comprehensive powerpoint showing the percentages by rank and by branch that have served in a combat zone. Not surprising when two wars are going on, but it's pretty damn high. The fact that the number of military on active duty has hardly increased is most likely to blame for repeated deployments, national guard mobilizations, stop-loss, and a host of other issues which threaten morale and readiness. You can thank Rumsfeld for that. But will Obama make good on his promise to increase the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the USMC by 27,000 Marines. Stay tuned.
The cigarette tax wasn't enough for these people, but it's progressive think tankers in DC we're talking about here. Nothing makes these people happier than finding new and improved ways to extort money from rubes in flyover land under the guise of "it's not good for you". Matthew Yglesias, the same bonehead who proposed cars being manufactured to not exceed 75 mph, brings attention to a gentleman who says alcohol taxes just aren't high enough. From Prospect:
Over the past 50 years, Cook reports, the inflation-adjusted value of federal liquor taxes declined by a factor of six while the inflation-adjusted value of federal beer taxes declined by a factor of 3.6. Both taxes are well below what is required to recoup the alcohol-related “externalities” problem drinking imposes on the community.Typical nanny-state nonsense to socially engineer the rest of America to be like some MoveOn.org party in the Upper West Side. Understandingly, alcohol is primarily enjoyed by the middle and working-class to cope with the crushing bane of existence, despite some of liquor's problems. Furthermore, alcohol is most consumed by red states outside the bible belt (see Time's interactive map). Why don't they impose a tax on crap elite, urban white people prefer like Pilates Balls, Emo Glasses, or Yoga Mats? America is a cosmopolitan place with a vast array of interests and activities for the citizenry. Why do certain groups of people always feel like they have to attack those different from them?
A prof who blogs at The Huffington Post theorizes why colleges have become more liberal: Because boomer parents plopped out so many babies in the 80s. From HuffPo:
When it comes to politics, today's college freshmen resemble their baby boomer parents of 40 years ago in all ways except two. One way makes perfect sense; the other is a puzzle.So much for college being a place where you form many political opinions, it seems to be pre-programmed. Pelosi sure was smart to nix the contraception portion of the stimulus package. A government plan to encourage breeding in key congressional districts will ensure a generations worth of citizens who will be completely reliant upon government services and, therefore, will consistently vote Democrat.
The evidence about kids and their parents isn't anecdotal; it's documented in a study just released by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, which has been investigating the attitudes of a massive national sample of American freshmen since the 1960s.
More freshmen today say they frequently discuss politics than at any time since Lyndon Johnson announced that he wouldn't run for re-election.
The Democrat stimulus package is fast becoming the "You're Either With Us or Against Us" for the new Obama administration. Lefty blogs are already on witch-hunts for conservative pundits who dare ask questions about how close to trillion dollars will be spent. Liberal economist Paul Krugman lashes out at the new traitors of our nation. From New York Times:
But here’s the thing: Most Americans aren’t listening. The most encouraging thing I’ve heard lately is Mr. Obama’s reported response to Republican objections to a spending-oriented economic plan: “I won.” Indeed he did — and he should disregard the huffing and puffing of those who lost.A trillion dollars isn't exactly an impulse buy of a spatula at the Albertson's. This is a lot of dough! And with a lot of money that will be unaccounted for, there's always Congress parasite or two to come looking for a handout. Senator Durbin is already looking for a billion dollar project for some "clean coal" power plant in his district, and Saxby Chambliss is already talking about the USAF needs more F-22s to keep jobs in his district. There's no reason to believe that Obama will be the savior of America or that the government will fix our catastrophic economic problem that was caused by people living beyond their means. It's just politics as usual.
What a shame! Is there any finer cuisine than Buffalo Wings? From Fairfield, Connecticut:
Nobody was able to cross the road Monday afternoon in front of Archie Moore's restaurant after 200 gallons of chicken wing sauce spilled onto Sanford Street.Oh the humanity!
The street was closed several hours after the 1:30 p.m. spill as the state Haz-mat team was dispatched to the scene.
Chicken wings are a signature item on the restaurant's menu and four large barrels of sauce for the spicy concoction were being delivered by Estes Express Line. As the truck driver was pushing a barrel toward the open truck door, it tipped over and spilled into the street, right in front of the restaurant.
"There's sauce everywhere," Perez said. "It's halfway across the street."
The Secretary of Defense is testifying to the House Armed Services Committee where he noted that things have not been going well in Afghanistan (thank you Mr. Obvious). Wired has pulled an interesting quote from his testimony regarding the DoD bureaucracy and how it has handled modern warfare:
Efforts to put the bureaucracy on a war footing have, in my view, revealed underlying flaws in the institutional priorities, cultural preferences, and reward structures of America’s defense establishment – a set of institutions largely arranged to plan for future wars, to prepare for a short war, but not to wage a protracted war. The challenge we face is how well we can institutionalize the irregular capabilities gained and means to support troops in theater that have been, for the most part, developed ad hoc and funded outside the base budget.Can anyone not say that acquisitions/procurement have been an absolute disgrace during the last 8 years? Last week, Lt. Col. Yingling took note of the type of officer culture of trying to get costly, but ineffective, weapons systems into production to support big defense contractors from bellwether states. The legacy of the last 8 years is hillbilly armor on humvees, an FBI raid on Murtha's buddies that he gave money to, and billions of dollars down the drain. Maybe the whole Cold War-era concept that the Defense Department should only exist to "create jobs" should be scrapped in light of COIN conflicts that have been going for over 7 years, but the GS-13s working for Uncle Sucker in DC have failed to notice.
Blackfive has more on the conventional vs. irregular warfare debate, and they suggest that we should be prepared for both. I agree! But that's not what Gates is griping about. He's talking about the faceless bureaucracy that is completely opposed to do anything differently based on strategic threats and continues to advocate this obsolete view of the world. We're paying for this government, might as well try to get them to do a good job.
27 January 2009
Just kidding about the post title, but Obama did an interview with the popular, international media outlet Al-Arabiya for an interview recently. Al-Arabiya is owned by some rich sheikhs from Saudi Arabia and a few other Gulf states, and has been strongly opposed to terrorism in the past. I respect what Obama is trying to do: utilizing public diplomacy to squash some rumors regarding America that continue to persist in the Middle East. For example, many citizens in moderate countries, like Jordan, believe that 9/11 was not caused by terrorists. Obama walked the tightrope on the Israeli/Palestinian issue, which the interviewer hit him up with first. From the transcript:
Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it's time to return to the negotiating table.Probably a smart move, as there's no greater polarizing issue in the Middle East than Israel, and we'd be best to keep our distance to some extent. I don't understand our nation's preoccupation with sustaining Israel through aid and completely unwavering support. Is it in our constitution somewhere? If they're such great allies, how come they don't contribute any military forces to Iraq or Afghanistan? I have nothing against Israel, but I don't see why America needs to bend over backwards to support them even at our own diplomatic peril.
Although, his comments about Iran were a bit strange and come near the end:
But I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.Since Al-Arabiya is from the Gulf, I doubt they have much sympathy for Iran. Also, it doesn't look like Iran is going to want to talk to us in the first place. We'll see how that works out. Maybe Ahmadinejad will unleash some creepy hour-long rant about how there are no Persian homosexuals like he did at Columbia.
From the Apocalypse font at Drudge:
Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming.There's a certain scientific laziness in attributing every winter storm to proof that global warming is a hoax, but the "Gore Effect" seems to be recurring...and equally hilarious.
But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings.
A 'Winter Storm Watch' has been posted for the nation's capitol and there is a potential for significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations.
"I can't imagine the Democrats would want to showcase Mr. Gore and his new findings on global warming as a winter storm rages outside," a Republican lawmaker emailed the DRUDGE REPORT. "And if the ice really piles up, it will not be safe to travel."
A spokesman for Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the committee, was not immediately available to comment on contingency plans.
Frequently in the past, in all types of federal programs, a noticeable lag has occurred between sharp increases in funding and resulting increases in outlays. Based on such experiences, CBO expects that federal agencies, states, and other recipients of funding would find it difficult to properly manage and oversee a rapid expansion of existing programs so as to spend added funds quickly as they expend their normal resources. The seasonal nature of some spending also affects the speed at which activities can be conducted; for example, major school repairs are generally scheduled during the summer to avoid disrupting classes.So, money authorized by the feds to spend on "shovel-ready" projects will get tied up in paperwork at various echelons of government offices. This unseen cost of administration probably explains why the VA has a budget of $90 Billion a year, but vets have to wait 8 months to see a dentist. The Washington Post takes note of this even though they are a bit more optimistic than me. No matter how awesome you may think The Obama is as president, he is no match for the Kafka-esque foe of federal bureaucracy.
Not since Blackwater stood accused of massacring over a dozen Iraqi civilians has the media been so receptive to such a shamelees PR campaign. Hot Rod has hired the firm that worked for wife-killer Drew Peterson, so you know the company has to be prestigious. So far, his best work has been comparing himself to Gandhi. From Washington Times:
In an interview on NBC's "Today" show, Blagojevich said his impeachment trial is "rigged" and the federal charges that he tried to sell his appointment for the U.S. Senate vacated by Barack Obama are false, according to a transcript of the interview.Last week, Blago compared the attacks on his family to Pearl Harbor, but now he is comparing himself to actual people instead of events, which may have initially confused some Americans out in zombie land. Sounds like that high-priced PR firm is really paying off.
"I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi and trying to put some perspective in all of this," he said of his Dec. 9 arrest.
Now this is totally classy! If you haven't turned on a cable TV station in the last 6 months, you may have missed out on the latest edition in the "missing and/or dead white girl" saga. The most recent media obsession is Caylee Anthony, who's corpse got fished out of the swamp last month. In trial by media fashion, the mother is widely suspected of being the culprit. This would make the photos of her shaking her ass at a club after the daughter was murdered even more bizarre. To further exploit death and misery beyond just what the Greta Van Susterens of the world are doing, a toy company in Jackson is making a dolly of the dead child that sings. From Orlando Sentinel:
A Jacksonville promotions company plans to sell a doll as a tribute to slain toddler Caylee Marie Anthony.The don't mention what song the doll sings if you tape it's mouth and chuck it in the trunk of your car, hi-yo!
The Inspirational Caylee Sunshine Doll will go on sale Tuesday for $29.99.
The blonde-haired, 18-inch doll wears jeans and a T-shirt depicting a sun and the phrase: "CAYLEE SUNSHINE." The song "You Are My Sunshine" plays when her belly button is pushed.
26 January 2009
Respected conservative commentator George Will sounds the alarm on runaway federal spending that is certain to bankrupt the country. From Real Clear Politics:
If he does tackle the problem of the teetering entitlement system, he will do so at an unpropitious moment: Events are making reform more necessary while making it seem less urgent. A nation in which $350 billion was but the first half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and in which TARP is distinct from the perhaps $850 billion "stimulus" program, is a nation being taught not to take seriously sums with merely nine digits and two commas.It's easy to fall into the line of thinking that because the federal government spent billions and billions on Wall Street banks, then they might as well spend money on everything from the auto companies to free college education. Hell, all democracy in America is about is voting blocs trying to get themselves chunks of government largess. Not many people are really taking the time to ask how all this shit is going to be paid for. I'm glad at least one respected guy is.
Washington Times takes note of the real winners of the proposed $825B stimulus package:
A Washington Times review of lobbying disclosure reports found that 18 of the top 20 recipients of federal bailout money spent a combined $12.2 million lobbying the White House, the Treasury Department, Congress and federal agencies during the last quarter of 2008.To hell with investing in mutual funds, looks like the real money is investing in lobbying! Obama's economic adviser criticized the the stimulus package saying it was only going to help "white male construction workers", to which the lefty blog Crooks and Liars responded that many Americans were only capable of menial office work as opposed to physical labor. But, it seems like the lobbyist biz in D.C. is quite lucrative already. No wonder there is no recession in Washington.
For instance, the government bought $3.4 billion in American Express Co. stock on Jan. 9 as part of an aid package. In the last quarter of 2008, the company spent more than $1 million on federal lobbying.
24 January 2009
Missiles fired from a suspected U.S. spy plane killed seven people Friday on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border, a lawless region where al-Qaida militants are known to hide out, officials said.These intelligence-driven, cross-border airstrikes are authorized at the highest level of the chain of command, as seen during the strike in Syria last October, which killed a high-level Al-Qaeda facilitator. There will be some ostentatious criticism of these air strikes, and they alone will not be able to completely eliminate the terrorist presence in the lawless region of Northwestern Pakistan. But consider these facts before you rush off to go protest the President's decision to continue with this controversial strategy:
The strike was the first on Pakistani territory since the inauguration of President Barrack Obama.
Pakistani leaders had expressed hope Obama would halt the attacks, more than 30 of which have been launched since the middle of last year, reportedly killing several senior militants.
The pro-U.S. government routinely protests them as a violation of the country's sovereignty, but most observers speculate it has an unwritten agreement allowing them to take place.
- The 36 UAV airstrikes in Pakistan during 2008 killed five senior Al-Qaeda leaders [Long War Journal]
- Trans-national militants based in the tribal areas are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. and allied troops and thousands of Afghan civilians [NYT]
- Pakistan's response was to the Mumbai massacre has been weak, and they even moved combat brigades from the Northwestern Provinces onto the border with India [Bloomberg]
- Pakistan continues to make deals with the Taliban despite that area of the country becoming extremely chaotic
- Newsweek warned that Pakistan was ground zero for jihadis back in 2007, and it has only gotten worse
- The Obama administration has vowed to aid Pakistan (like we did during the earthquake in 2005), but "hold them accountable for security in the border region with Afghanistan" [WhiteHouse.Gov]
- The governor of the Northwest Frontier Province continues a media campaign of lies and says that Afghanistan is really the problem (WTF!) [Tom Ricks]
Frankly, I was very surprised to see Michelle Malkin vying for Moran of The Day with this awful analysis of the situation which is a form of shameless partisanship:
Reader John has a few questions: “Where are the anti-war liberals? Where are the baby-killer signs? Why [aren't] the major media networks showing pictures of dead children as a result of Pres. Obama’s air strike?”IMHO, bipartisanship is no vice when it's a matter of us getting all killed.
Hey, haven’t you heard? CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA.
23 January 2009
Considering my political leanings, it would be a "convenient truth" if I were getting out of the Navy because of Obama's inauguration, but I made this decision long ago in about 2006 while on my second deployment somewhere underwater in the Pacific. I'm grateful there's people that stay in and go on to become senior officers, but it's not for me. I don't hate the Navy or anything, and I hope people out there consider serving in the Armed Forces or consider making the military a career. The best way to describe it is kind of like the Zipper ride at the state fair: Lots of ups and downs, you vomit up corn dogs, some angry carney yells at ya, glad to see it in the rear view mirror, but you're happy you did it. Tomorrow is where I get to hear the two sweetest words in the English language: "Honorable Discharge".
Interesting documentary on the History Channel about the Eisenhower administration, and something I just learned for the first time was that Ike didn't even want to run for Prez initially. From his bio:
Although he had previously rejected numerous overtures from members of both parties to run for the presidency, Eisenhower yielded to the appeal of liberal Republicans in 1952.This sounds a lot like Gen. Powell in 1996, which Helium has a good bio on:
In 1993 Conservative America issued a genuine call to duty to Colin Powell, one-time Reagan National Security Adviser and George H. W. Bush's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was, after all, the first military leader in forty years to be seriously considered by both Republicans and Democrats as a candidate for President of the United States. Favorably compared to President Eisenhower, Powell's personal popularity transcended all political and cultural bounds.The article goes on to hypothesize that Powell didn't run because he feared the scrutiny of being not white, but Obama's huge win shows that race isn't necessarily a barrier to the executive branch in America. Imagine what America would be like today if we had a moderate with proven leadership to make decisions in a world of post-Cold War threats? Obviously, Powell sealed his political fate with his famous speech to the U.N. about WMDs in Iraq, which he later called "the lowest point in my life", so don't expect him to come back to power anytime soon.
I imagine that America would be much stronger nowadays, but I guess I just like to dream up weird scenarios. That's probably why Philip K. Dick's book The Man in the High Castle is one of my faves, because it's about an alternate world where the Nazis and Japanese won the war and occupy America. It's odd how small events can have huge ramifications on the future. I suppose why you shouldn't step on a butterfly if you travel back in time.
The institutional military operates under a different incentive system. Those responsible for acquisition operate under powerful incentives to procure expensive, high-tech weapons, even if those weapons are not the ones combat forces need. Those responsible for organizational design operate under powerful incentives to defend existing force structure from claims by other branches and services, even if the existing force structure does not meet the needs of combatant commanders. Finally and most importantly, military officers operate under powerful incentives to conform to senior officers' views, even if those views are out of touch with battlefield realities. Unlike combat forces, the institutional military operates under an incentive system that rewards conformity and discourages adaptation. It's simply not reasonable to expect that large groups of people operating over long periods to behave in ways contradictory to the incentives under which they operate.This might be a REMF vs. Grunt thing, but the acquisition process for the military has certainly been getting a lot of bad press lately. Particularly that they totally dragged ass on fielding MRAPs (an excellent counter-IED vehicle in Iraq), while the Future Combat Systems has cost $200B taxpayer dollars and soldier's have not donned the Mega-Man uniforms as of yet. Based on current trends, it's hard to believe that the Navy was able to field strategic submarines in 5 short years during the Cold War from Lockheed Martin, which were nukes capable of turning Russia into a glass parking lot. I'm not one to go around using buzzwords like the "military-industrial complex", but...
To parlay on the last post about the drinking age being 18, this event out in Florida shows that stupidity is much more a function of the person involved rather than their age. From Tampa Bay Online about a gentleman of 33 years of age:
Roberto Benigno Campos thought there ought to be a law for kicking a man out of a bar at closing time, police said.Longtime resident Wek explains the Florida whackjob phenomenon here. Good thing I stuck with the advice of my pops who said "Beware of countries and states where it doesn't snow".
When the staff at the ShangriLa Gentleman's Oasis scooped up his drink about 3:15 a.m. today to shut down for the night, Campos called 911 to say he'd been robbed, an affidavit states.
Tampa police were not amused.
Officers arrived at the bikini bar at 2310 N. Dale Mabry Highway, sized up the situation and told Campos no crime had been committed.
Campos, 33, was undeterred and called 911 three more times to report a drink robbery, an affidavit states.
The St. Petersburg man also advised authorities that police did not help him because he was a supporter of President Barack Obama, the affidavit states.
At that point, police were glad to help Campos to jail.
Police charged him with misdemeanor misuse of the 911 system for calling the emergency number "for a purpose other than obtaining public safety assistance," the affidavit states.
I will make one policy proposal. Some of my fellow libertarians hope that the Obama administration will put an end to the drug war. I hope so too, but I'm not too optimistic. Instead, I propose a smaller step toward freedom -- eliminating the federally mandated drinking age of 21. This mandate was a creature of Elizabeth Dole (who is no longer in the Senate to complain at its abolition), and it has unnecessarily limited the freedom of legal adults, old enough to fight for their country, to drink adult beverages.Might be a tough battle, since the MADD nannies have already come out against even military members aged 18-21 drinking on bases. I suggest we start there, as one brave SC statesman has done against a sea of opposition by those who can't mind their own damn business. Then the seriously encroaching Reagan-era federal law that prevents Highway funds to states if the drinking age is below 21 could get nixed. After that, our puritan country could be in the clear to start treating people over 18 as adults like every other goddamn nation in the world.
It can't come too fast either, because it seems college kids are eschewing booze for intoxicating Obama rhetoric! From a Higher Ed study of my alma mater (by way of Reason):
The proportion of students who describe themselves as “middle-of-the-road” politically continues to decline, hitting an all-time low of 43.3 percent, while the proportion who describe themselves as liberal and far left grew to 31 and 3.2 percent, respectively. “This is the largest percentage of students categorizing themselves as liberal since 1973,” states the survey. The survey finds that 20.7 percent of freshmen characterize themselves as conservative, down slightly from 23.1 percent the year before.Unlike Obama's Keynesian economic beliefs of the power of "stimulus", a massive binge on Natural Ice will only fuck you up for one night instead of prolonging the pain and agony of a depression for 8 years. While the computer science nerds are sipping on their Obamaesque Pepsis, cooler college kids could be guzzling booze and talking about the collapse of the dollar under a Democrat-controlled congress...or just have unprotected sex, whatever. Is this shameless policy promotion to woo young people politically? You betcha!
The report finds increasing support among freshmen for liberal causes — including same-sex marriage. Support for environmental causes continues to grow.
Freshmen are also, apparently, partying less in high school. In 2008, 18.8 percent say they partied an average of six or more hours a week, half the 36.8 percent total in 1987.
You'd think these people had never worked for the government before, but the Obama staff is furious that the White House is using antiquated technology. From WaPo:
Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.Facebook at work, what the hell is that? Most government-issue computers take so long to load up a goddamn Word document you'd be better off writing a report in Ottoman-era calligraphy. And a PDF? Fuggedaboutit! It might load up when the administration's over. All you can do is sit around, yell at your computer screen, and curse the Senator's brother who has the lucrative tech contract to set up this jenky-assed system.
What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.
For all the young and idealistic staffers in the West Wing, welcome to the "Hope and Change" of sluggish bureaucracy.
22 January 2009
Finally got the short story I was working on done (with some editing help from Sisu). It's about an ex-marine driving from California to NYC in sort of a negative American dream type tone. I got the idea after seeing some Marines coming through Kuwait back in June 2007. I vowed to get it done within the month I got back from Iraq, but better late than never. It's about 30 pages single-spaced 12 pt, but it's broken up into chapters using the blogger format with embedded tunes! Figured it'd be a more interesting and convenient format than just pdf-in' the thing and emailing it around. Hope you enjoy it. Links are always appreciated!
Read it right here.
21 January 2009
It seems a lot of media wags are happy that there was a peaceful transition of power in our robust democracy. Whoopty-fucking-do. Congrats America, we're not a third-world country. Besides an Obama administration suddenly making the blogosphere incredibly dull, he's got some pretty lousy ideas that will have serious ramifications for our Republic. Don't feel like he's beyond criticism, and that your patriotism is somehow in question because you don't agree with policy. Andy Levy has some good rules on taking on The Obama without coming off as a jackass.
I remember what politics was like when Clinton was around, and the "vast right-wing conspiracy" had a lot more interesting ideas than when they had to defend that imbecile Bush for the last 8 years. It's better to be a political minority, because you don't have to excuse the incomepetent missteps of those in power. I look forward to the public debate and seeing where politics goes from here. Should be interesting.
My fundamental political beliefs come from the fact that I believe politicians (and tyrants) will attempt to subvert the public consciousness with false rhetoric. I also believe that patriotism is important for a cosmopolitan nation like America to prevent internal strife based on factional rivalries and that mankind has "natural rights". From there I take a pragmatic approach and end up in the libertarian-conservative camp somehow, but that doesn't mean I hate liberals or anything. I grew up in a liberal city (Ann Arbor) and have spent most of life in liberal states (California, Hawaii, Washington, etc.), so categorically hating lefties would mean I'd have to board up all my windows and live on a diet of canned goods. Sometimes their ideas really piss me off, particularly when they pull stunts like using dead soldiers to get a political point across, but that hatred is probably necessary in a modern democracy.
So I was pretty bummed out when some of the big liberal blogs read like a press release from the Obama camp today. Whatever happened to eternal vigilance?!? Anyways, many of the big lefties were plugging the new Whitehouse.Gov site about two seconds after it went live in some diabolic, orchestrated plot. Daily Kos, Yglesias, and Sullivan were a few of the culprits. Crooks and Liars actually had this to say:
The entire Whitehouse.gov website has been renovated to reflect our new President, Barack Obama. It is a thing of beauty and nearly brought tears to my eyes - again.Shit, this ain't North Korea, feel free to criticize once in awhile. And the only thing that should make you cry on the internet is 2 Girls, 1 Cup, only because available women shouldn't do such hideous acts. These sycophantic blegs are really advancing the cult of personality that The Obama somehow transcends criticism. He even tried to squash any muckraking during his inaugural speech [Reason]:
"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them—that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply."Scared yet? But, at least Spencer Ackerman and David Weigel are explaining why they laughed at Wheelchair'd Cheney and booed Bush. And Wonkette had some funny pics of tourists leaving trash all over the place in DC. Maybe cynicism and snark aren't totally crushed yet, but give it a few months...
There is also no prohibition on blogs operated by individual members as private citizens. The DON recognizes the value of this communication channel in posting current information and supporting the morale of personnel, their family and friends. As long as personnel adhere to specific restrictions on content, the DON encourages the use of blogs and recognizes this free flow of information contributes to legitimate transparency of the DON to the American public whom we serve.Not sure what the reason was for Spinnaker deep-sixing his blog, but it's very possible that his XO wanted his musings to be a private affair. This Naval instruction does not necessarily prevent the command from doing what they see necessary. If you think military members have some inherent "right" to blog, well you've probably never been in the military.
While deployed in Iraq and A-stan, you have to inform your chain-of-command if you choose to blog, but it's not required elsewhere (run down of the rules are here). I recommend using a handle, not referring to your ship or unit specifically, and not talking about it with your buddies/co-workers. Best not to make waves. I've never had a problem with this issue like some other bloggers have, and please contact me if you're military and have any questions about this [ltnixonrants (at) gmail].
While the rest of the country was celebrating our national orgasm known as Inauguration 2009, a few scattered malcontents here and there dropped a big deuce in the celebration punchbowl. Here's some links to those unimpressed with the coronation:
Bouhammer: "Unlike the soon to be First Lady, I have always been proud to be an American and today is just one more reason why."
Crook's Shadow: "And why soviet style agitprop theme in all of Obama’s campaign art? Because its so fucking brilliantly effective and simple! Think about it, the October Revolution and its genocidal progeny was able to control an entire nation of tens of millions for 70 years."
Todd Seavey: "Instead of gushing about Obama, I will say that the idolatry surrounding him would be alarming in a president of any party — and I hope liberals are not so naive as to think that press fawning is only unhealthy when it’s one of the “bad guys,”"
Gateway Pundit: Nice job, Barack. The president's socialist rant sunk the stock market today. (note: it's a bit unfair to just blame The O for the disastrous policies enacted before he took office, but the stock market did tank today).
Yglesias (uncharacteristic for a lefty...gotta respect that): And I’ll admit that the festivities this whole weekend have actually left me feeling a bit curmudgeonly—I don’t like the monarchical qualities and I don’t like the way the need to strike a tone of unity and bipartisanship is making it impossible to talk in a serious way about the challenges facing the country.
Fobbits Need Ice Cream Too: Maybe your wife can help out on the stimulus fund by selling that $100,000 string of diamonds around her neck she was wearing today.
Ed Morrissey: Maybe Obama wanted to defuse the opposition and defang his own supporters, at least for a few days. That may not be a bad idea, but in the long run, the debate over specific goals, priorities, and policies will occur. This speech did not boldly engage on any level.
Me: Today's "historic" moment strikes me as bizarre that we choose to celebrate in such a bombastic fashion. Problems abroad and domestic woes about the economy highlights that this day is one of collective delusion for our nation. Kind of like the married guy taking the ring off his finger to party with the stripper named "Bubbles". No concern about the consequences of tomorrow! Obama's creepy way of using his lofty speech tone to "embiggen the smallest man" seems to politically capitalize on the self-importance phenomenon of our culture. In Obama's world, everyone is a great citizen just for driving a hybrid or making a pledge to The O. The cult of personality is incredibly frightening, but I admit I am incredibly interested to see where our country goes from here. So go produce some more Obama babies, America, let's party before it becomes impossible to do so due to a crippling destruction of society.
20 January 2009
The latest NY Times tripe on the military suggests that people only enlist for a steady cash flow during our recession. Certainly, the promise of a pay-check might tip the scales for some potential recruits in their decision-making process, but just joining the military for financial rewards is a pretty lousy idea. The pay scale for junior enlisted personnel is publicly available, and you can see that an individual would have a much better shot at bringing in the Benjamins if they opened up a roller-disco or something. But that doesn't stop the grey lady from propagating the myth that people only sign up to avoid financial ruin. From the NYT:
Sean D. O’Neil, a 22-year-old who stood shivering outside an Army recruitment office in St. Louis, said he was forgoing plans to become a guitar maker for now, realizing that instruments are seen as a luxury during a recession. Mr. O’Neil, a Texas native, ventured to St. Louis for an apprenticeship but found himself $30,000 in debt. Joining the Army, his Plan B, was a purely financial decision. With President-elect Barack Obama in office, he expects the troop levels in Iraq to be lowered.This type of reporting in the media leads society to believe that they should not respect the patriotism of the Armed Forces. Because they had "nowhere else to go", young Americans can feel "less guilty" that only a small percentage of folks have chosen to serve. Recruits come into the military for a variety of reasons, but it all becomes moot as everyone is familiarized into the military lifestyle and ethnic/class/political boundaries are broken down as everyone dons the same uniform.
The NYT writer, Lizette Alvarez, has covered the same beat for her journalistic career, always proclaiming the military's troubles. Recently, Old Blue did some outstanding analysis that her gripes with the military have nothing to do with objective reporting, and everything to do with making the current Republican administration look bad. So don't buy into the hype...maybe her articles will quietly go away after The O takes office.
What's disturbing is that imbeciles tend to believe this sort of nonsense that the military is not necessarily patriotic. Take Punk'd star and cougar-hunter Ashton Kutcher, who had this to say at HuffPo:
Today, serving our country no longer simply means drop and give me 20, this is your rifle, defend this land we call home. National service is becoming a term used to define a much broader and equally passionate category of patriotism. This brand of patriotism is inclusive of a pure humanitarian effort guided by the simple virtue of the giving of oneself for the benefit of another in the name of the United States of America.I am grateful that our nation has some excellent humanitarian workers here and abroad, but Ashton Kutcher isn't exactly Mother Teresa. And his flippant attitude that the military is just about "give me 20" is an embarrassment. It's a sad state of affairs when our nation's cultural elite think driving a hybrid is on par with sacrifices made in the military, but it's the reality we face.
If any of you ever pondered what Grover Cleveland (America's 22nd and 24th president) looked like during an orgasm, then this website is definitely for you [44 presidents coming]. Don't worry, the Obama caricature is set to arrive on the site tomorrow.
The Military Times is reporting that one of the many inauguration events in D.C., this one called the "Veterans' Inaugural Ball", has been canceled ane no one can locate the sponsor who sold all the pricey tickets:
As of 1:30 p.m. Monday, the links on the foundation’s Web site where tickets were sold — at prices topping $385 apiece — no longer work.Dante Hayes is listed as the president of a "A Brighter Future Foundation" which advertises itself as follows:
The St. Regis referred questions about the canceled ball to a phone number they had for Hayes, whom they identified as the sponsor and promoter. No one returned voice mails left for the foundation...
A representative of one veterans’ group that initially had been working with Hayes said he does not know what happened.
“He had been selling tickets online, but there were some kind of problems that we understand are now being investigated,” said the representative, who asked to not be identified.
The ABF (A Brighter Future) Education Foundation is a newly constituted conservative research and educational institute focusing on public policy issues impacting African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and other ethnic people. Our overarching goal is to promote policy initiatives that will offer historically disenfranchised Americans the opportunity to share equally in the access to and pursuit of the "American Dream."Obviously, corruption isn't limited to any specific political ideology. Caveat Emptor.
If you are going to the festivities in D.C., you can view some of the other inaugural events here. Hopefully, most of them aren't sleazy scams.