The Anti-War President’s New Iraq War

The beheading of James Foley seemed to be a game changer as far as Presidential resolve in the war on terror.  You can read his remarks here, but I recommend that you watch the video to get the full flavor of the President’s apparently real anger at ISIS.

Just to highlight some of his remarks…

 Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.

They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people. So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.

This isn’t typical Obama-speak.  This sounds closer to vintage George W. Bush.  The President’s reaction seems different to the beheading than previously, when he’s been forced, for the sake of protocol, to condemn some terrorist action that he really wasn’t worked up about. I think for the first time, Obama and his administration are actually appalled by an example of Islamic terrorism.  Maybe because it’s a journalist; someone “like them” instead of a soldier, contractor, or missionary.  Those are people generally incomprehensible to this administration’s biases.

And that’s probably why the press coverage is so different this time.  The media has trotted expert after expert on TV telling how this is the greatest threat EVER and there seems to be no push back from the usual foreign policy leftists.

Tellingly, there also  hasn’t been any push back from either the President’s allies or opponents in the Congress.  Republicans are not exactly bragging to the high heavens about it, but they seem to be supporting the President.  Meanwhile the administration is releasing security bulletins that indicate Chicago is a new terrorist target and the President is considering widening his air war against ISIS into Syria.

I think we might be on hand to witness one of the greatest ironies of modern times; an administration that came to power on an anti Iraq war platform now preparing us to go to war in Iraq.

 

Putin Makes Obama Look Weak…Again

The Olympics had barely wrapped up and the wild dogs released back into Sochi when the Ukraine began a fracturing internal crisis that lead to Vladimir Putin seizing the Crimea back from Ukrainian control,  in a de facto, if not de jure annexation.

English: Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder

English: Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American response?  Obama and Putin spoke on the phone and Obama expressed “grave concern.”  Take that Putin!

It’s pretty clear that Putin has taken the measure of Obama, found him wanting as a serious leader, and has decided he can ignore him in most matters.  After the Putin checkmate in Syria, I’m sure he feels he has free range to act in what he perceives are his interests worldwide.  But let’s not give Putin too much credit here, the US foreign policy juggernaut he faces are Obama and that blowhard John Kerry; a pair that would find themselves outfoxed at a high school model UN.

The US does have alternatives in dealing with Putin; it’s not a choice between craven surrender or total war.  Putin does want things, and has gotten things already that he hasn’t deserved.  Maybe some of those things should be taken from him.

One is membership in the G-8.  The G-7 was a group of the largest economies on that planet.  And Russia wanted in to showcase that it too, was a big power.  Maybe Russia should be kicked out.  It’s something that would make Putin furious and take from him something he really wanted.

Another is to withdraw from the New START treaty.  That’s the current treaty governing the reduction of US and Russian nuclear forces.  Of course the problem with this is that START is something that Obama probably wanted more than Putin does.  But because Obama wants it so much, it would send a message on how serious Obama is on Russia’s intervention.  Of course, for that very reason, START would never be on the table.  Obama just isn’t that serious.

Wow, I just wrote something profound!  But that’s the problem, and one of the reasons among many that Putin feels free to walk over the international community and particularly President Obama.

Because Obama just isn’t that serious.

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What Liberals Don’t Get About Conservatives

What liberals don’t get about conservatives is basically everything.  This occurred to me this weekend while chatting on the political web forums.  Someone posted a news story of a crazed Republican School Board member going into a strange rant on 9/11, cryptanalysis, and George Bush.  Anyone viewing the video would be hard pressed not to draw the conclusion that the woman is undergoing a breakdown and probably needs some sort of mental health counseling.

Unless of course you’re a liberal who views that as typical right-wing behavior.

This could be dismissed as a comment of a troll, of which there are plenty on the internet, but I had the impression that the person was more or less sincere in viewing people on the right as crazed and irrational.  And there could well be a more or less scientific reason for this.

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist who has written the book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. The book tries to show how morality is different depending on your political ideology. Reading a review of the book at a law blog, I came across this point:

One other point that I find really interesting and important about Haidt’s work is his findings on the ability of different groups to empathize across these ideological divides. So in his book (p. 287) Haidt reports on the following experiment: after determining whether someone is liberal or conservative, he then has each person answer the standard battery of questions as if he were the opposite ideology. So, he would ask a liberal to answer the questions as if he were a “typical conservative” and vice-versa. What he finds is quite striking: “The results were clear and consistent. Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal.’ The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the Care and Fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives.” In other words, moderates and conservatives can understand the liberal worldview and liberals are unable to relate to the conservative worldview, especially when it comes to questions of care and fairness.

This struck me since it matches up pretty well with my own anecdotal experiences.  Conservatives get where Liberals are coming from, but Liberals just don’t get where Conservatives are coming from.  In the US, we live in liberal-land. The educational system is run by liberals, TV & Movies are made and produced by liberals, and most importantly, all of the major news media, either Newspapers, magazines, or TV news, are run by liberals (liberals can bleat, “but what about Fox?”- But that just shows Fox is an outlier). So I’m constantly, surrounded by the worldview of liberals. For me to take a test or pass as a liberal would be ridiculously easy. I could go to a Netroots Nation, Think Progress convention or meeting and easily pass for one of them. I know your buzzwords and prejudices. As Patton said, (and I paraphrase) “You liberal bastards, I read your book!”

All things being equal, knowing nothing of politics, people should tend to be liberal. Of course the caveat to that is all things are not equal, but you can see the power of liberal institutions to set the agenda. That’s why, in an attempt to turn the conversation away from Obamacare, the administration started talking about about income inequality,  The MSM dutifully followed along because being liberal institutions, they would rather talk about income inequality than Obamacare too. We really should be talking about economic growth and job creation but that’s not an issue that can help the administration or that they have any real ideas about.  But because we all live in liberal land, liberals never have to think about their ideology or challenge any of their premises, which is something that conservatives have to do all the time because they are constantly getting push back on their premises.

As if to double down on Haidt’s ideas, last week The Nation ran an article called, Why the Curious Right Wing Silence on Michael Sam? Some passages are well worth highlighting:

Yes, the crazies in Westboro Baptist Church and some of the more reptilian swamps of the right-wing blogosphere have let loose with the homophobia, but the mainstream has been silent. It is not just Fox. Doesn’t National Review or The Weekly Standard have anything interesting, or even uninteresting, to say about any of this? Nothing? Really?

The New Republic’s Cohn even put out a plaintive tweet asking people on the right, “What do conservatives & Republicans think about a gay player in the NFL? Honest question, hoping for positive answers.” He did receive a curt tweet or two in response, mostly of the, “I don’t care as long as he can play football” variety.

In other words, the left cannot accept that in political terms, this is mostly a non story on the right.  For them, this is HUGE!  The answer is too simple for the Left to accept. For them, identity politics trumps everything. It’s why they can’t accept opposition to Obama’s policies as being anything other than closeted racism. When the most important thing about President Obama is his race, how else could opposition to his economic, social or foreign policies be interpolated as anything other than racism?

On the one hand, it’s kind of amusing that the Left is so clueless on figuring out the Right that even the simplest explanations elude them.  But on the other hand, I really wish they understood what I was trying to say.  When their default to anything I say is along the lines of a mentally ill school board member, it shows how large the gulf is between us.

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The Year in Hate Crime Hoaxes

As far as year end wrap ups go in the right blogosphere, 2013’s dizzying number of hate crime hoaxes seem to be soaking up much of attention.  I of course honor the wacky left perpetrators of hoaxes who so believe in the ever present danger of racism, sexism, and homophobia that they deliberately went out of their way to create the fear of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Oprah Winfrey at her 50th birthday party at Ho...

Oprah Winfrey at her 50th birthday party at Hotel Bel Air (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no good way to rank these in terms of “best hoax.”  But I thought I would list a few of my favorites.  These are the ones that tickled my fancy in some way, either through the oddness of the accusations or the gullibility of everyone involved no matter how unlikely the scenario of a “hate crime” these seemed to be.  This, of course is not an all inclusive list.  This year, that would be impossible as our hoaxers were out in full force, bringing attention to whatever their pet cause by the most logical means possible for leftists: fraud.  As always, read the comments to these linked stories.  Some people sniff these out as fakes immediately and others are totally incredulous.

Jenny Harding of Guernsey, NJ, claimed that her dog Alice was the victim of a homophobic attack (aimed at Ms Harding I presume, not the dog).  The dog was attacked with a hammer and lost an eye.   However after a little police investigation, “police said this morning that they were no longer looking for anyone in connection with the attack. “  And of course, the dead giveaway, “Ms. Harding tells us she wishes to withdraw her allegations and would like all donations offered by sympathizers to be returned.”  Apparently Ms. Harding is a serial hoaxer and has a record of making similar complaints.

Oleander Cuthrell, the minister of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Petersburg, VA, was arrested on arson charges after setting both his house and car on fire after painting racial slurs on the side of his house.  The motive seems obvious in this case.  The good reverend’s parents named him Oleander.

A black high school student (unidentified due to age), running for Student President received racist text messages urging him to drop out of the race apparently was the one who sent those same text messages.  When you text yourself, would that be a “textie?”  Although the race for student President at Saint Peter’s Preparatory School didn’t work out for our aspiring candidate, it seems like a viable campaign tactic (Hillary take notice!)

Andrea Brazier, apparently spray painted the N word on her own house in order to (and the motive is just speculation at this point) pin the blame on football players at her son’s school who were bullying her son.  This generated a vigil of support and the cancellation of the football team’s remaining season.  Next time Andrea, be sure and get rid of the incriminating spray cans before calling the police.

This year there was not one but two hoax restaurant receipts. Toni Jenkins, a waitress at Red Lobster, posted a picture to her Facebook, showing a receipt with no tip but the N word once again scribbled on the receipt. Unfortunately the person who actually left the receipt took exception to being categorized as a racist, particularly after he began receiving threats when the story went nationwide. His attorney hired a handwriting expert that cleared him and his wife.  But racism pays, and Jenkins received $11,000 in donations.  With that sort of payday, it’s a wonder there isn’t more.

Well maybe there will be.  There was another restaurant receipt hoax immediately after the Red Lobster one.  Dayna Morales was a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in New Jersey, who also posted a receipt on Facebook showing no tip but a lesson in morality, “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not approve of your lifestyle.” But just like the Red Lobster customer, people don’t like being smeared and the family in question contacted news media to inform them that they did tip, and provided the credit card charge to prove it.  In fact, the husband involved stated that he didn’t even vote for Chris Christie because of his lack of support for gay marriage.  Eventually Morales was fired from the restaurant.  Although she said that she would donate her donations (why are people sending money to these frauds?) to the Wounded Warrior project, I doubt Wounded Warriors will be holding their breath.

Charlie Rodgers (Charlie is a girl), an ex college basketball star who made the false claim that she was raped by attackers who carved anti gay slurs into her.  Under the slightest bit of police investigation, the story fell apart and wonder of wonders; she actually got jail time for it.  But I direct you to the dedication she showed to her craft:  she actually carved anti gay slogans into her own skin.  That’s dedication to the cause.  I’m not into giving awards or rating these hoaxes, but if there was a Tawana Brawley award for willing to go the distance to pull off a hoax, I believe Ms. Rodgers would make the short list for that.

But why, you may ask, not the winner?  Could there be another candidate with similar dedication?  You’re darn right!  May I present, Morgan Triplet.  She was determined to have the best presentation at the University of California-Santa Cruz Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues by announcing she was a victim of rape, a real one.  As reported:

“Prosecutors said Friday that Triplett allegedly placed two ads on Craigslist, one requesting someone to shoot her in the shoulder with a small caliber gun in exchange for sex. The second ad was a request for someone to punch, kick and bruise her in exchange for sex. In the ads, placed in the Santa Cruz County region of Craigslist, Triplett also stated that she would not file charges.”

That’s definitely being a good sport about the whole thing.

So she got her rape, but is it really rape when you volunteer for it?  Tricky legal issues, but what wasn’t tricky was that she filed a false police report.

This one gets an honorable mention, if only because we never get to a satisfying conclusion, we’re only left to go “hmmm…”

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful women in entertainment in the world, recounted her heartbreaking tale of struggle of being beaten down by racism while shopping in Switzerland:

Oprah told Entertainment Tonight this week that while in Zurich, Switzerland for Tina Turner’s wedding in July, she walked into a shop and a handbag behind the counter caught her eye.

While many average shoppers might hesitate to lay hands on a bag with worth close to $40,000, Oprah says she asked to see it, but the shopkeeper said, “No. It’s too expensive.”

Oprah — who made $77 million in the last year alone, according to Forbes magazine — told ET’s Nancy O’Dell she asked to see the bag at least two more times, but the shopkeeper refused to take it off the shelf and suggested other, cheaper bags instead.

“One more time, I tried. I said, ‘But I really do just want to see that one,’ and the shopkeeper said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt your feelings,’ and I said, ‘Okay, thank you so much. You’re probably right, I can’t afford it.’ And I walked out of the store,” Oprah recounted.

Normally that would be the end of the story.  Oprah said, it, it happened, get over it.  However this time, the powerless shop girl fought back, calling Oprah a liar.

 “This is not true. This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer. Really, never. Good manners and politeness are the Alpha and the Omega in this business,” the woman told SonntagsBlick.

“It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag,” the woman said.

“I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV. … If it had all taken place as she claimed, why has she not complained the next day at the wedding of Tina Turner with Trudie Goetz, my boss? She was there also at the Turner wedding as a guest. I don’t understand it. … I spoke to Oprah Winfrey in English. My English is OK but not excellent, unfortunately. … I didn’t know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn’t have made any difference if I had.”

So someone challenged the Oprah.  An American would know enough to realize that the only honorable course after displeasing The Oprah is Seppuku.  These primitive Swiss know nothing of honor!  Instead…Oprah apologized…sort of.  At least she backpedaled, making excuses for the shopgirl.   Naturally no media outlet wanted to follow up on this but given that she was telling this story while doing promotion for the movie, The Butler, one has to wonder if she was supplying a racial incident to complement a racial movie.  Eh, as I said, we are only left saying “hmmm…”

Again, I’m not giving awards, but if there was an Academy of Hate Hoaxes, it’s hard to imagine that the Oberlin College Race Hoax wouldn’t win hoax of the year.  A brief summary of the hoax is as follows:  On the morning of March 4th Oberlin student Sunceray Tabler saw, or thought she saw, a hooded KKK Klansman wandering the campus.  This is a fairly preposterous, but there was already agitation on the campus due to racist graffiti being found on various spots around campus.  The school handled things in a manner that only makes sense to the academic left.  They cancelled classes for the day and held teach in’s on the usual, diversity, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

But Oberlin was silent on the issue and it took reporters to pull the police report and find out that the student graffiti was committed by two committed student leftists.  The Police conclusion on the wandering Klansman was that it was just a student walking around wrapped in a blanket.  What makes this such a large issue is that the school administration knew who the culprits were early on, knew they were leftist nuts, and said nothing to the student body, allowing it to think the Klan had free reign over campus; walking around leaving racist graffiti in their wake.

The irresponsibility of the school administration boggles the mind, and I find it amazing that alumni weren’t outraged that the school decided to keep secret that there was no KKK and the students responsible for the graffiti were no longer on campus.  The school apparently  just wanted to keep the racial agitation to go on and on.

And that explains MSNBC!

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Obamacare Math

I’m no mathematician, but I’ve come to some interesting conclusions from “running the numbers” on the Obamacare debacle.

First, about 14 million people are covered under the individual health insurance market.

Of those, in 2013, 13% were covered by grandfathered plans; or plans that could be renewed for 2014.  So that’s 1.82 million who for sure can “keep their plans;” at least for 2014.

That means as many as 87% of individual health plans could be cancelled.

We know for sure that as of last week (this is a week by week changing number) 4.8 million people have already gotten cancellation notices.  These are people who were covered this year, and if they want to continue to be covered, need to choose and purchase new insurance plans by January 1st.

The CBO estimated that 7 million people would be covered in the health insurance exchanges in 2014, but that was an estimate based on a fully functional Obamacare website.  I’ve no doubt that that the Obamacare site will eventually be fixed, but how long will that take?  I’m pretty comfortable guessing that the problems will not be fixed by the end of November, as promised by the administration.

The administration estimates that 200,000 people have signed up for coverage with the exchanges by mid-November.  That means as of right now, of the people who had coverage under the individual health insurance market this year, 4.6 million of them still don’t have coverage for 2014.   Although I’m sure that the number of enrolled people will steadily increase over the next few weeks, does anyone think that the remaining people who lost their coverage because of the Obamacare requirements will have coverage by the start of the New Year?

Even the Obama administration isn’t that optimistic.

That means that thanks to Obamacare, more people will start off the year without health insurance coverage than had it this year.  Congratulations President Obama!  You’ve successfully wrecked the nation’s health insurance market!   I think the administration should have applied the lessons learned from the Hypocratic Oath: First, do no harm.  Instead, the administration burned down the house, only to learn that their plans for the new house were incomplete.

If the percentage of uninsured in this country is greater this time next year than it is now, it will be pretty clear who will be responsible for it.  I hope someone is smart enough to remind people of that for the elections.

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Schadenfreude, and the Obamacare Timebomb

Considering the disaster of a rollout that Obamacare turned into, you would expect a lot more schadenfreude from the political right.  After all, it’s the President’s signature domestic policy.  For good or ill (and it’s mostly ill), this will be the domestic program that will be identified with President Obama.  And so far it’s a mess.  So why aren’t conservatives happy?  Part of it I think is that the right is still licking its wounds from the shutdown debacle.  They are still trying to heal a party that was pointless split for no good reason.  See?  I’m still trying to heal.  But the major part of this is that unlike a lot of wacky social programs that the left invents, screws up, and leaves to move on to the next big thing, healthcare is something that affects everyone.  The damage that Obamacare has done to the entire nation’s healthcare system, not just to the minority in the individual insurance market, is extensive, and much of it is permanent.  So there is no schadenfreude to be found in mocking the woman who said, “I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it.”

Fool, you’ve doomed us all.

If Obamacare had only ruined the healthcare system for those who supported it, then yes, the right would have the freedom to cackle with glee and point fingers, but eventually, this will affect everyone.

OK we’re still doing the finger pointing, but we’re not happy about it.

Right now the big Obamacare story is the website, which is a mess, but eventually the website will get fixed.  The problem goes far beyond the website.  The health insurance plans in the exchange depend on getting enough young health people to enroll to keep the cost of premiums down for the next year.  They need people paying but not using healthcare to afford the people who will enroll and will be sick and will be using healthcare; a lot.  That’s what insurance is all about after all.  If those young healthy people don’t show up and enroll, then you are left with more people taking out of the insurance pool than are putting into it.  That spells extremely high rates for premiums in 2015, or collapse of the exchange insurance groups.

And what could be pulling healthy young people from enrolling in an exchange insurance plan?  In a word; Medicaid.

So far (and admittedly this is a changing number) the majority of enrollees under the Obamacare exchanges are enrolling in Medicaid.  Under Obamacare the Medicaid expansion increased the Medicaid Eligibility to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line.  So all of those young healthy hipsters, particularly the ones who have extremely low incomes like students, are being enrolled, but they are being enrolled as Medicaid clients, not people in the actual private insurance groups.  So rather than contributing to the insurance pool, these healthy young people will basically be put on the dole, to drain the Treasury of funds to support healthcare that they could have otherwise been contributing to.

So if in the upcoming year we have insurance plans filled with the sick, while the healthy coast on Medicaid, than that’s a bomb that will blow Obamacare wide open.

Great plan geniuses.

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Tea Party Defeats Itself

Just like with the Fiscal Cliff, the House drove us right to the brink until the Senate grabbed hold of the steering wheel, with the news that the Senate has put together a deal to end the government shut down, at least for a while.

As I predicted two months ago, there was no plan, nor any strategy for using the budget CR to defund Obamacare. Everything that happened, from the media spin, to plummeting poll numbers, to final defeat was all perfectly predictable.  There was never any reason that President Obama would negotiate.  He was never going to negotiate on defunding Obamacare. In fact, it’s obvious that he would have been perfectly willing to let us go right through the debt ceiling.  In fact, that could have worked to his advantage.  Any economic upheaval that would have been brought about by stopping the government’s ability to borrow more money could be blamed on the Republicans.  The 2016 campaign slogans write themselves.  Republicans broke the economy, Obama came in and fixed it, and Republicans broke it again.  Are you voting for the breakers or the fixers?

The only thing not predictable was how poorly the Obama administration bungled their handling of the shut down.  Between Harry Reid’s War on Cancer Kids to the administration’s fake and unnecessary closing of the nation’s monuments and other static displays that are normally opened 24/7 without being manned anyway, including the World War II Memorial; which lead to the unpleasant sight of Park Police strong arming elderly national heroes. How badly have you bungled when you pick a fight with cancer kids and World War II veterans in the same week?

Even the administration’s high fiving themselves on the fact that they were “winning” didn’t make them look too smug, since they were in fact winningConsidering that a government shutdown could only help the administration, there was really no way for them to lose, and that’s what irritates me the most; the Tea Party picked a fight in which there was no option that would have allowed them to win.

Although Ted Cruz is given most of the credit/blame for this debacle, I think a good portion of that has to go to talk radio.  Senators Cruz and Lee have appeared on Hannity multiple times talking up their “Don’t Fund it” strategy, but they never exactly explained how the strategy was going to actually achieve its goal of defunding Obamacare.  At no time did Hannity or Rush, who also was in favor of charging this windmill, question how this was supposed to succeed.  That’s a question I’ve been asking for two months and the reason I never got an answer is because there never was an answer.  Meanwhile talk radio egged it on.  On September 25th Hannity had Rand Paul on as a guest, who explained to Hannity that there was no mathematical way there would be votes to defund Obamacare.  Hannity seemed stunned and surprised that Rand couldn’t insure this strategy would work.  As recently as October 3rd, Rush was insisting that the Democrats were imploding on the issue.

The only thing that imploded was the Republican chances of winning the Senate in 2014.