Thursday, November 29, 2012

Obama: "We Have To Stop The Fiscal Cliff" Reality: Hasn't Met Congressional Leaders in 13+ Days

Above the Post Update
Apparently, these fiscal cliff negotiations are so urgent, they're forcing Barack Obama to change his vacation plans so he can be in Washington, DC, just in case he needs to sign anything.

Just kidding.  He'll be in Hawaii from December 17 through at least January 2- meaning he won't be available to sign any legislation crafted to avoid the fiscal cliff, if any even exists then.

Original Post: 

Q: How do you know Barack Obama is lying?  A: His mouth is moving.
Q: How do you know Barack Obama is about to go play golf?  A: He just called something an urgent priority.

Immediately after winning re-election back on the 6th, Barack Obama immediately returned to form.  That is: he demogogued against the Republicans and then beat feet to avoid any actual work.

Specifically, he claimed that the "Hard work" of averting the "Fiscal Cliff" would have to begin immediately.  He claimed that Republicans were responsible for the fiscal cliff, despite the fact that the vast majority of the deficit spending, both current and future, is due directly to policies he and his complete control of Congress had implemented before the Republicans took over the House in 2011.

Now, via Twitchy, comes word that he has not met with Congressional Leaders in 13 days.

Frankly, I think the American people voted for the fiscal cliff, and I think they should get it good and hard.  Me and mine can trim sails and survive.  It'll suck, but the American people re-elected everyone who devised this lack-of-a-plan in the first place. 

That said, Barack Obama claimed this was a priority.  He claimed that going over the fiscal cliff would be completely unacceptable.  He then insinuated that the only reason we would go over the fiscal cliff is if Republicans were unwilling to compromise.  Now he's not even meeting with them?  If this were such a priority, wouldn't he be meeting with them every day?

Of course, as with everything he says, this is more demagoguery and lies from Barack Obama.  He doesn't want to stop the fiscal cliff.  Why would he, because of John Boehner's incompetence, he gets everything he wants.  He gets to increase taxes on everyone, and not just a little.  He gets to gut defense spending, and Medicare spending.  More importantly he gets to blame it all on Republicans.  You see, they were the ones who didn't "compromise."  They were the ones who "let" it happen.  If they'd just completely capitulated, then... well, he won't explain what would happen, because that's not politically expedient.

Some Republicans and Conservatives have suggested giving Barack Obama everything he wants.  I submit that it will not work.  For once in his miserable life, Harry Reid will actually open up the bill for debate on the Senate floor, and will oppose any attempt at cloture.  He'll claim that the bill is so important, unlike, say ObamaCare, that it must be fully debated and understood.  And then, by the time he finally allows a vote, the bill will be approved too late.  There are all kinds of things the Democrats can do to delay passage of a bill averting the fiscal cliff.  Thanks to their allies in the Mainstream Media, most people will still believe that those evil, intractable Republicans are to blame.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Benghazi Files: The "Talking Points" Were Never The Issue

So, showing their usual complete absence of feck, Senate Republicans seem to have missed the point of the Benghazi scandal.  That, or they've actively decided to assist Barack Obama in covering up his treasonous behavior.

Because of the Senate investigation, all of the news around the Benghazi attack has been over the talking points.  Even I fell for it to some extent yesterday.  "Who changed the talking points?"  "Who is responsible for the talking points?"  "Why was Rice sent in front of cameras?"  People keep asking these questions, and the real question has gotten lost.

Here are the important questions: What did Barack Obama know about the substandard security for the Benghazi mission, and when did he know it?  What did Barack Obama know about the terrorist attack against the Benghazi mission, and when did he know it?  What did Barack Obama know about the orders not to send support during the attack, when did he know it, and why didn't he countermand them?

The talking points are tangential.  The talking points are about the lies after the fact.  Even investigating the "talking points" makes it seem like the problem was the lie, not the fact that 4 Americans were left to die.

Now, you know, and I know, and everyone paying any attention at all knows that the responsibility for all of this lies with Barack Obama.  Anyone with any moral character whatsoever knows that Barack Obama should resign in disgrace or be impeached for the Benghazi attack.  But I want it official.  I want Congressional Republicans to get it on the record that Barack Obama holds ultimate responsibility.  Then I want him impeached by the House. 

Yes, I know that Democrats, who control the Senate, won't vote to impeach him.  But I want that on record, too.  I want them to go on record explaining why it's not an impeachable offense to approve substandard security for a mission in an area where terrorist organizations were known to be.  I want them to go on the record explaining why it's not an impeachable offense not to have insured that the security at said mission was increased on the anniversary of 9/11 when Al Qaida and Al Qaida linked groups were known to a) want to attack us and b) be operating in the area.  I want them to go on the record explaining why it's not an impeachable offense to have authorized, whether at the time or through prior orders, two stand-down orders to the CIA on the scene, and to have prohibited help from Signolla Air Base.

I want that on the record.  And I want Conservative Media to scream about it so much that the Mainstream Media has no choice but to cover it.

The Avengers: Even With The Praise, Still Under-Rated

I know I'm late to this party, but I was re-watching The Avengers last night, and I'd just like the opportunity to point out that Joss Whedon may be one of the best writer/directors in Hollywood right now.  Every time I re-watch the movie (and that's fairly frequently), I'm once again blown away by everything from the visuals, to the effects, to the characters themselves.

This isn't going to be a review, since the movie is already out on Blu-Ray and DVD, but rather a look into why I think the movie was so good. 

First, I have to give great respect to the team at Marvel for coming up with the plan for the Avengers and sticking to it.  Would I have preferred the "real" Avengers team of Iron Man, Ant Man, Wasp, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America?  Yes.  For various reasons that particular line up was not in the cards however, and the inclusion of Hawkeye and Black Widow was both well done and satisfying.  The patience and planning required to build this movie is just staggering.  Five lead up movies from five different writing/directing teams were used to build the foundation for what may be the first successful Superhero Epic.

Second, I have to pay respect to the technical team.  The visuals were, if not "stunning," completely evocative of what they were going for.  You could believe in the SHEILD Helicarrier.  The sets were magnificent from the beginning all the way to the end.  The visual effects were mostly not noticeable- and that's high praise.  Oh, certainly, if you don't let yourself get pulled into the story you can say "Oh, Iron Man in flight is CGI," or "Oh, the Hulk is a CG creation."  But in the moment, you don't notice them.  They just feel right.  They're not done to say, "hey, look what we can do," but to tell the story.

That said, none of this works without Joss Whedon.  He is, hands down, the best ensemble director currently in Hollywood.  I first fell in love with Joss Whedon's work with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.  No, not that one, this one.  But that wasn't exactly an ensemble.  The TV Show, however, was.  Indeed, it had to be.  If it had simply been Buffy the whole time, it would quickly have gotten stale and boring.  As he did it, however, we came to love all the characters.  Everyone in my circle of friends saw ourselves as Xander, if perhaps a little more with the learning.  We were all "the Zeppo."

Then came Firefly, which died too early a death.  Again, while Mal Reynolds may have been the headline character, the show was not just about him.  We all loved the whole crew.  I think my personal favorite, after Mal, was Reverend Book.  More so even than Buffy, which was "about" the monsters, Firefly was about the crew.  Yes, it was cowboys in space.  It was also, for lack of a better term, a man's soap opera.  At least, it was a soap opera that wouldn't cost you man-points for watching.  Yes, I am still bitter at Fox for mishandling the show.

So when I heard that Joss Whedon was going to direct The Avengers, I was over the moon.  When I heard that he was re-writing portions of the script, I was even happier.  His dialogue can say more in a quick quip than some writers can say in a full on soliloquy.  And there were plenty of those quips.

Indeed, I believe Joss Whedon is as responsible, if not more, for how well the characters played together. 

Let's look at the introduction (in this movie) of Black Widow.  She's sitting, tied to a chair, in some arms dealer's warehouse.  As she describes it, she is "in the middle of an interrogation, and this moron is giving [her] everything."  Then, when Agent Coleson mentions that Hawkeye "has been compromised," her eyes narrow and you know violence is about to ensue.  Now, in other movies, the hot chick tied to the chair might say something like "I'm going to use this chair to kick all your asses," or something that boils down to that.  Indeed, had this been a sceen in Buffy, we'd probably get some quip about getting this situation "tied up" as quickly as possible.  Not so with Widow.  She just proceeds to kick all their asses in athletic fashion.  All the while, Coulson is simply waiting on the other end, as though he knows exactly what's happening, and just wishes she would hurry up.

I could write a book about moments like this.  The fight between Thor and Iron Man was classic "Super Hero Duel" material.  Unlike many, I even really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner.

Perhaps the best part, however, is the complete characterization each of the heroes gets to show.  Nothing could have stopped Robert Downey, Jr. from portraying Tony Stark as the "genius billionaire philanthropist play-boy," but it could have been made to seem out of place, or overwhelming.  In this cast, with this direction, it was spot on.  More telling, however, are the other characters. 

Captain America was the guy every boy grew up hoping he'd be.  You could just spout the Boy Scout Oath, and that's Captain America.  But Whedon wasn't content to let that be.  He had to highlight those things in the Captain.  From lines like "There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that," to stopping in the middle of a fight with an alien army to help direct the emergency response, the Captain's Character and Responsibility shone through. 

Thor was also spot on.  You could see his balancing of responsibility to the people of Earth and his desire, even his need, to be reconciled with his brother.  He wasn't the cocky bully he'd been in the Thor movie, but you could still see that kid in there.  It was an organic kind of growth that made sense.  Even at the end of the movie, when Loki has opened the portal for the alien bad guys, Thor wants to be reconciled and "stop this... together."

It's easy to think that Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner was "just kind of there," but I disagree.  Much of his performance was done non-verbally, however.  He did have some good lines, don't get me wrong, but so much of his performance was one of physical manner.  From the purely deflated look he gets when he realizes that the girl he was going to help in Calcutta was just a lure, to the "don't think about the guns, don't think about the guns" body language when he first arrives on the helicarrier, his performance was actually spot on, to me.

In all of these cases, none of this works without the right actors.  Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo brought their heroes to life.  Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Clark Gregg slipped right back into their roles as if they'd never left.  But through it all, the thing that gave each of these heroes a chance to shine, and a chance to be heroes, was Joss Whedon.

If you've been living under some rock somewhere and haven't seen this movie, go see it.  If you have seen it, you already know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Treason: Rice Admits White House Lied About Benghazi Attack

Via Ace

Here was Ms. Rice's Statement after speaking to a Senate Panel about Benghazi, and her roll in lying to the American People (Emphasis mine):
In the course of the meeting, we explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi. While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.

Get that, "neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead."  But we already know the facts are that terrorist action, and not some YouTube Video, was already known to be the cause of the Benghazi attack.  We know that the CIA submitted talking points that addressed the terrorist attack.  So if they never "intended to mislead," did they instead believe that the CIA was lying to them?

No.  They didn't believe that, but they're hoping you'll believe that they believe that.

So, to be clear one more time:

The Secretary of State had to sign off on leaving the Benghazi compound under-defended.  Since Obama was routinely pointing to Libya as a foreign policy success, it is unreasonable to believe that he was unaware of that decision, and could have over-ruled his Secretary of State. 

When the attack occurred, the White House had immediate visual intelligence via drone and the compound's own security cameras.  They knew the nature of the attack.  Nevertheless, someone made the decision not to send help.  Remember, that was an active order: "stand down."  Barack Obama could have over-ridden that order.  He was either not available (and therefore derelict in his duty as President and Commander in Chief) or actively chose not to override that order, thus sentencing our people to death.

After the attack occurred, the White House approved a set of talking points to be delivered by Ambassador Susan Rice which explicitly excluded any reference to a terror attack, and instead referenced a "spontaneous demonstration" which they already knew had never existed.

Barack Obama consigned those men to death, and then lied to the American People about it.

He must be immediately impeached.

 Update: Commenter 'Jane D'oh' at the AoSHQ points out that Susan Rice is also partially responsible for Bill Clinton's decision not to take Bin Laden when Sudan offered him to us on a silver platter.

Charity that Works: Give a Goat

The first in a new occasional series, I'm going to highlight a charity that actually works.  I'm not sure if this is the same organization, specifically, that my church uses, but it does the same thing. 

My congregation, the Mansfield Church of Christ in Mansfield, TX, supports a missionary, Salvidor Cariaga, in the Philippines.  His focus is on empowering the people of the Philippines to lift themselves out of poverty.  Among the tools he uses is "Give a Goat."

There are a few groups that do this.  The idea is this: to an impoverished family, a goat is a gift that keeps on giving.  A goat's wool (well: fleece) provides a source of income.  A goat's milk provides nourishment.  There are more than a few successful families now in the Philippines that have graduated from Cariaga's program.

See, families are not just given a goat and told, "go and prosper."  Families are selected based on criteria (specific selection criteria vary from group to group), and are then helped in preparing for becoming, in essence, small business owners.  They're educated about how to raise the goat, how to market the fleece milk products.  Many of them use the proceeds from the goat products to buy additional goats, and start farming them.  In this way, they not only expand their own wealth, they then begin hiring others to tend their flocks, thus helping others out of poverty as well.

This is the way charity should work.  Government is not involved any more than is absolutely necessary.  The people helped are not merely given a gift which they will, by human nature, not particularly value.  Recipients are not merely the people who are "the most needy" but those most likely to succeed and, in their success, bring others out of poverty as well.

This is charity done correctly.  Charity should not be a government endeavor.  The nature of government is such that it can never be done correctly.  Charity should not make life easy.  Charity should require work on the part of the recipient.  And one gift should have the opportunity to assist more than just the initial recipient.

One of These is Not Like the Others

Here, check out these links:
* 401(k) Plans on the Chopping Block
* Home Mortgage Interest Deduction on the Chopping Block
* Rand Paul: Why must we raise taxes to reform entitlements?

Hmm... one of those is not like the others. 

In fact, Rand Paul is one of the few voices of fiscal sanity remaining.  As friend Vic over at the AoSHQ would point out, our budgetary problems are not revenue problems.  They're spending problems.  Yet, because the assumption is that all money comes from the Government, it is a very short step from there to believing that any budget problems are because the government gives away too much "revenue" by having tax breaks.  It's an equally short step from the government being the source of money to the Government then being morally obligated to take care of everyone's needs.

And that's exactly where our national discourse is at the present time.  At least 52% of voters believe that it is the job of Government to ensure that everyone is cared for.  In short, they believe in redistribution of wealth.  This is what must be addressed.  We must get people to see that the ever expanding roll of government, that is: spending, is the problem.

These are two completely different visions.  If wealth comes from the people, then the government is morally obligated to confiscate as little as possible, but the people are morally obligated to provide for themselves; the government cannot rob Peter to pay Paul.  On the other hand, if wealth comes from the government, the government is morally obligated to take care of the people, and the people are morally obligated to work for the good of the State.

So the question we must put to people, then, is where they believe wealth comes from, and why.  If someone believes that wealth comes from the government, why do they believe that?  If they believe wealth comes from the people, then why do they believe that?  Similarly, we have to seek out people who believe the inherently contradictory ideas that wealth comes from the government, but the government is not then obligated to care for the people (I know of none of these sort), or people (a surprisingly large number) who (at least claim to) believe that wealth comes from the people, but that the government has an obligation to provide for the people's needs.  Then we must ask them why they believe those ideas.

I do not know their answers, and could not even begin to speculate.  Those notions are so foreign to me that I can't understand them at all.  Nevertheless, it is our duty, as Conservatives, to find such people and educate them on the reality.  Either money comes from government, and we have no defense against the government taking everything for which we labor, or money comes from the people, and the government has no obligation to directly provide for the needs of the people.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Denis Kucinich- Good Riddance

Among the wise decisions made in Redistricting in 2010 was the decision of the Ohio Legislature to redistrict Denis Kucinich out of a seat in the House.  As if he's determined to prove that, Mr. Kucinich seems to be doubling down on some typical Democrat idiocy.

Today, Politifact, which should really have its own laugh-track, has a piece out trying to paper over some stupid statements by Mr. Kucinich.  Despite their desperate flailing, however, they miss some important things.  Now, I really recommend you go read the whole thing.  Everyone needs a laugh once in a while.  But I'd like to focus on one particular piece of stupidity from Mr. Kucinich:

"The way the federal funding system works," Kucinich said, "is that if we give a tax break in one place, we need to replace that lost income from somewhere else, like with higher taxes from the rest of us. In other words, this tax break is a massive subsidy for the junk food and fast food industry."

This is typical Liberal ignorance.  It has, as its premise, the same idea that has been opposed here and other places many times- that the Government is the right and proper owner of all the wealth of the nation, and that it merely deigns to let us keep part of what we earn.  This is a dangerous idea, besides being inherently tyrannical.  It's tyrannical, because it views the citizenry as slaves of the State.  It's dangerous for two reasons.  First, if the State succeeds in making that the basic premise of all tax, and therefore all government, policy, then it will drive wealth producers away, meaning there's less wealth in the first place.  Second, the only logical conclusion from that premise is that Government must confiscate all wealth, and dole it out "fairly" to the citizenry.  Besides a quick collapse, this is likely to lead to a real, bullets flying, people dying revolution.

The Government does not own any wealth.  It must take what is uses from the produce of its citizenry, seizing some portion of their wealth.  While taxation in some form is necessary, it should not be confused with being right, or good.  Giving tax breaks for certain activity does not deprive the government of money, it abstains from appropriating that wealth from the private sector.

Whatever else Kucinich said- and it was all stupid- it all breaks down because of this one fatally flawed premise.

I Know! Let's focus on "Fundamentals!"

Okay, Cowboys fans, it's time for a serious talk.  It's over.  It was nice while it lasted- in the early 90's- but the Cowboys as a winning franchise has been over since at least 2000, and probably before that.  You see, we have one "fundamental" flaw with our franchise, and it hasn't been addressed in working on 20 years.  Our GM sucks.

We've tried new coaches, new schemes, and new players.  We have a fancy new stadium (the City of Arlington is grateful for that, by the way).  We have as much talent on the current Cowboys roster as was on the early 90's teams, but nothing to show for it.  As Bob Costas pointed out several weeks ago, the only thing that hasn't changed is Jerry Jones.

Now, I understand this will be hard.  Jerry Jones did such a bang-up job in the early 90's.  Three Superbowl championships in four years is impressive.  Wait, you mean Jerry wasn't the GM during those Superbowl runs?  You mean that Jimmy Johnson was the one making those calls until he was fired, and then Jones just left the same pieces in place?  The deuce you say!  And you mean that now, Jerry Jones is an even worse GM than he was in the late 90's because he's so busy being a celebrity and selling Pizzas and Buffalo Wings?

Well I don't believe it.  No one could be so egotistical that they would ruin good men's careers as sacrifices for their own self-image.  No one could possibly be such an idiot that they'd refuse to hire someone competent for a position simply because they didn't want to be shown up.  It simply isn't possible that anyone would be so blind that they would allow an icon of success to turn into a laughing-stock, and themselves with it.

Nevertheless, however hard this decision may be, it is necessary.  If the Cowboys are ever going to be a winning franchise, then the Owner must fire the General Manager, and hire someone competent to handle those duties.

Before the back office becomes even more of a laughing-stock.

Peace from the tip of a Sword

It has been said that there is a certain kind of peace that only comes out the other side of a war.  George W. Bush famously stated that "peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the presence of justice."  When the European Powers of the 1930s would make moves of appeasement toward Hitler's Germany, they would secure peace for a year or two, or sometimes just months.  It was not until Germany was opposed and defeated that the threat of Nazi Germany was completely removed.

Over the last six decades, Israel has spent much of its time defending itself from Islamic threats.  The so-called "Palestinians" have demanded more and more land, with the express purpose of removing the State of Israel.  They now own the Gaza strip, in another failed land-for-peace deal.  Yet every year more and more rockets of greater efficacy pour into Israel in a rain of indiscriminate death.  Then, when Israel feels it is being forced to respond, they are somehow made to be the bad guys.

The most recent example of this, of course, was Operation Pillar of Defence (in Hebrew, I'm informed this is a reference to the Pillar of Fire/Smoke that God used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt).  So the United States and Egypt stepped in to "negotiate a peace" which was really just Israel agreeing not to demolish Hamas, and Hamas admitting they were completely outclassed, and wanted to rest up before starting another attack.

Until this is allowed to sort itself out through the use of applied violence, there will always be this tension and terror in Israel.  Remember that there is no reason for a "separate Palestinian" state.  It is not illegal to practice Islam in Israel.  I'm not even certain Muslims are barred from serving on the Knesset.  Muslims have no additional burdens on themselves when they live in Israel.  What Muslims hate about Israel isn't that they "kicked out the inhabitants" (they didn't), or that they're "oppressing" Muslims (they aren't), it's the existence of a Jewish State at all that they hate, and they will not stop until it is destroyed, or it has proven that they cannot destroy it.

If we really want peace in the Middle East, we must stop being a weight on the sword-arm of Israel.  We must allow them to complete the mission and force the Palestinians into capitulation.  Only when that occurs will Israel be able to negotiate from a position of strength.  And since Israel is the party there that is not fully invested in the destruction of their opponent, they are the ones we should want negotiating from strength.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama and his State Department, with the help of the now Islamic Tyrannical State of Egypt, imposed a peace which will only result in more war, more destruction, and more death.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why I'm Thankful

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving (and, er, thanksgiving), I thought it appropriate to say what I'm thankful for.  I won't be around tomorrow or Friday because I'll be hanging out with my family, so I figured I'd do it now.

I'm thankful that God the Son chose to descend into his own creation, live a mortal life, and die by vicious torture, all so that my sins, and yours could be forgiven.

I'm thankful that I live in a country of free men, created by free men, and defended by free men.

I'm thankful that I have a somewhat successful career, and can provide for my family.

I'm thankful for two loving parents, married to no one but each other, and the advantages that "accident of birth" gave me.

I'm thankful my mom didn't exercise her "rights" as dictated by the Supreme Court under Roe v Wade (I was an unplanned pregnancy).

I'm thankful for my father, uncle, and brother who all served in the United States Military.

I'm thankful for my mother, who reared me to be the man I am.

I'm thankful for my wife and my children; I would be an empty husk without them.

I'm thankful that, in our worst times, when we could barely make ends meet, that my wife and I are part of the richest nation ever to grace the planet.  I'm thankful that I have the ability to be annoyed when traffic backs up.  I'm thankful that I can be vexed when the coffee pot breaks.

I'm thankful for ace, the cob-loggers, and the rest of the Moron Horde at at the AoSHQ.

Whatever else is true, I know that I am one of the most blessed people ever to walk the face of this earth.  Sometimes I lose sight of that, and complain about things that don't matter.  So sometimes I have to remind myself:

I'm thankful I don't have to worry where my next meal will come from.

I'm thankful I don't have to worry if my children will die from malnutrition or disease.

I'm thankful I don't have to boil my water before I drink it.

I'm thankful I don't have to worry about missing work if I'm sick.

I'm thankful I don't have to work all day, every day, just to survive.

Not everyone has all of these blessings.

What Happened To Thanksgiving?

It seems people say it every year, but Christmas sales, and Christmas promotions, and Christmas decorations seem to come out earlier and earlier every year.  This year, my local stores had Christmas stuff up starting before Halloween.  One of the local radio stations started playing Christmas Music last week.  People are camping out at stores to get "Black Friday Deals" already.

What happened to Thanksgiving, or, for that matter, thanksgiving? 

I get it.  Thanksgiving is not a big retail holiday.  People don't give each other Thanksgiving gifts.  They don't buy each other Thanksgiving Baskets or decorate Thanksgiving Eggs.  They don't buy Thanksgiving costumes.  From a retail standpoint, Thanksgiving is a non-entity.  Sure, the grocery stores like it, but they like Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July just as much.  Best Buy couldn't care any less.

Just because the stores do it, doesn't mean we have to encourage it, though.  Right now, people in general are depressed and disheartened.  All the "news" is bad news.  Families wait on pins and needles to find out if their children in Afghanistan are still safe.  People with family in Israel have similar fears over their loved ones.  Over 23,000,000 people don't have jobs, and are having to rely on charity for food.

In the midst of all of this, we should be thankful.  We should be joyful.  I say this both as a Christian and an American.  As a Christian, I'm commanded to thanksgiving and joy anyway.  I don't always live up to that, but I'm instructed to give thanks even when I'm burdened by troubles.  As an American, I am one of the most wealthy people in the history of the world.  As a somewhat successful computer programmer, I can afford to feed my family just on my income, so my wife can rear our children.

Later, I'll post a list of what I'm thankful for, and why.  For now, why don't you fill the comments with your thanks?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Susan Estrich: I Didn't Vote For Obama's Policies, Just For Obama

Well, then, Ms. Estrich, why did you vote for him?  His stunning success as cutting the deficit in half like he promised?  Did you vote for his stellar record of job creation and unemployment numbers?  Oh, I know, you voted for him because of his amazing facility for quieting our international foes while bolstering our allies.

Oh, that's right.  You voted because somehow no one can do what you explicitly state you were able to do.  To whit:
I voted for Obama. I voted for him because I know how hard it is to buy health insurance for a single person with even a minor pre-existing condition. In the case of my nanny/housekeeper/dear friend, it was gastritis. Thank God for Kaiser, which sold me the insurance that some years later saved her life when she was diagnosed with cancer. So call it what you will, but I did not want to see Obamacare repealed.

Now she's complaining because Obama claims he has a mandate to raise taxes.  Guess what, Ms. Estrich, he believes he does.  Why might he believe that?  How about the fact he ran on tax increases.  His answer to everything for the entire election season was "Tax the Rich."  And now you have the gall to be surprised that he wants to raise taxes?  I mean, it's obvious you're stupid from the paragraph I quoted, but exactly how stupid are you?  Are you only able to "type" because someone gave you Dragon, Naturally Speaking and showed you how to use it?

This kind of thing drives me nuts.  It's absolutely stupid, and I hate stupidity.  Democrats run on competing ideas all the time.  They want to raise taxes "on the rich" but won't raise taxes.  They're all about Amnesty when talking to Hispanic voters, and all about border control when talking to rural Whites.  So many Democrats are single issue voters, and they choose not to notice the Democrats' positions on the other issues.

So, yes, Ms. Estrich, you did vote for Barack Obama to raise your taxes.  He claimed that was his specific intent, and you voted for it.  You also voted for continued drone strikes and involvement in Syria.  You voted to stone-wall the investigations into Fast and Furious and Benghazi.  You voted for a porous border.  You voted to spend billions on "green energy" schemes which are doomed to failure, and continued refusal to drill for oil on Federal land.  You voted for massive spending cuts in Medicare and Defense.  You voted to support Hamas and Al Qaida over Israel.

These are all things that Barack Obama stood for during re-election.  If you voted for him, you voted for all of them.

H/T Ace.  Again.

The Growing Police State: Email Edition

When Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy first introduced his internet surveillance bill, he claimed that it "provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by... requiring that the government obtain a search warrant."  That doesn't seem to be true anymore.  After receiving push-back from law enforcement, Mr. Leahy is suggesting a series of amendments which basically mean that law enforcement and other government agencies do not need to prove probable cause to gain access to your electronic information, they merely need to subpoena the information they want.

According to CNET, the bill does the following:
* Grants warrantless access to Americans' Electronic Data to over 22 Federal Agencies.  Only a subpoena would be required.
* Allows State and Local officials warrantless access to Americans' electronic correspondence which is "stored on systems no offered 'to the the public,' including university networks."
* Allows any law enforcement agency warrantless access without judicial review if they invoke an "emergency."
* Requires providers to notify the Government if they are going to warn users that their data has been targeted.
* Increases minimum time for the government to notify users from 3 days to 10 days, and allows for postponement for up to 360 days.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall, the 4th Amendment allows us to be secure in our "persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."  Further, that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized."

I'm so sorry that it's more difficult to our Feudal Lords to prosecute us when they have to observe the niceties of proving probable cause before a judge, but that's the way the rules work.  This is flagrant disregard of the 4th Amendment, and must be stopped forthwith.

Join me in calling for Republican to Filibuster this legislation.  It is not enough that it be defeated in the House, if it were to be so defeated, our Senators must rise up and protect our Constitutionally preserved rights.

Are you angry yet?

Treason: DNI Clapper Goes Under the Bus

The Media continues to focus on "Who edited the talking points" instead of "Who ordered the stand-down" regarding the 9/11 Benghazi attack by Al Qaida, or Al Qaida linked terrorists.  Readers of this blog already know that the answer comes back to Barack Obama anyway, but let's play along.

According to CBS News, the talking points that Susan Rice received (talking points that blamed a YouTube video no one had heard of and fewer had seen) were edited by the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and approved by the CIA and FBI. 

Now, what you're supposed to believe from this is that DNI James Clapper got the original talking points from the CIA that included language about the Al Qaida link, then that he changed that language.  You're also supposed to believe the following:

* Barack Obama never saw the original talking points.
* DNI Clapper never ran the updated talking points by the President for his approval.
* That the link to Al Qaida was too weak to for DNI Clapper to approve it, but the link to the YouTube video was somehow iron-clad.

These are all rediculuous on the face of them.  Worse than that, they're insulting.  Barack Obama knew what the CIA said.  He then knew what the DNI wanted to say- indeed, he probably instructed him to find some scape goat other than terrorism.  DNI Clapper then framed a man for exercising his first amendment rights, and Barack Obama approved that change.

Barack Obama is supporting terror and terrorists over the First Amendment Rights of legal US Residents.

He must be impeached.

H/T Ace of Spades (permalinked in sidebar)

Are You Angry Yet?

The Government is stealing your private property.  Have you noticed?  Are you angry?

Private Property rights are the source from which all Liberty flows.  Private Property rights are based on the idea that you have a limited number of hours of life, and you should be able to spend them how you choose, and dispose of the produce of your labor as you choose.  The income tax is a tax on the produce of your Labor.  It is, in essence, the Government proclaiming that it, not you, owns your labor and that it, not you, gets first choice of how the produce of that labor is spent.

Are you angry yet?

One of the things one can do with the produce of his labor is accumulate private property, especially real property (that is: land).  When the government taxes your property, they are claiming that they own it, not you, and that they get first choice of how to dispose of it, not you.

Are you angry yet?

Between the income tax and the property tax, the Government is stealing hours of your life away.  Then, once you die, they again seize your property.  So-called "inheritance taxes" are ostensibly designed to prevent people from becoming "too" rich.  Even if such were possible it would be evil- I should be able to accumulate as much property as I am able, and then should be able to dispose of it as I choose- including willing it to my descendents upon my death.  In the real world, of course, the very rich find ways of avoiding the death tax, while it is the upwardly mobile who are most punished by it.

Are you angry yet?

If the President has his way with the Fiscal Cliff negotiations, more of your income will be seized by the state through your income taxes.  Spending will be cut drastically (generally a good thing, really) with no plan or design to guide the cuts (a bad thing).  One consequence of this will be States increasing their own taxes (income, property, or both) stealing yet more of your income to use in ways you might actively oppose.  Additionally, the death tax, currently in abayance, will return at 55%  More than half of the wealth of the moderately successful will be seized upon their deaths, while the truly rich will have already divested themselves of direct ownership of their assets- thus avoiding most of the brunt of such a tax.

Are you angry yet?

If you aren't, you should be.  If you are, what are you doing about it?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Treason: Benghazi "Video" Talking Points came from White House

This is hardly news, but how many times does it have to be confirmed before Congress does something about it?  As the attack on the Benghazi compound was happening, the US Government already knew that Al Qaida, or and Al Qaida linked group, was behind the attack.  This information was communicated to the White House.  When Barack Obama chose to send US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice out to say "be calm, all is well," the talking points had been scrubbed of any reference to terrorism.

Now, Republicans confirm that those changes came "from the Administration."  Let me say something they are restrained (for a variety of reasons) from saying.  Barack Obama made that decision.  Barack Obama, the same man who mandated that references to "terror organization" and "terrorism" be scrubbed from FBI training manuals, chose to scrub the talking points of references to Al Qaida.  Why he did this I can only speculate.  Whatever his motive, however, the effect is the same: he aided our enemies by not sending help immediately to kill them and save as many American lives as possible, and then he provided them comfort when he refused to identify the attack as a terrorist attack, and waited nearly two weeks to send investigators to the compound.

Now, I've received some push-back on this "aid and comfort to the enemy" formulation, so let me illustrate it another way.

Let's say the US was in a war, and the Commander of a Forward Operating Base received an urgent distress call from a team in the field.  This call was corroborated by surveillance from a drone in the air, and other assets were already in the area.  Additionally, this commander had forces under his command he could order into the area, some of them would arrive in an hour, others after a few hours.  Then let's say he chose not to send help.  Okay, well, that's just dereliction of duty (which, by the way, should be enough to get the President impeached). 

But let's go further.  When he reports on the incident to his chain of command, he claims that he doesn't know what force was responsible for the attack, and hints that some completely unrelated event caused the fight.  He then waits for two weeks while the bad guys get further and further away, giving them plenty of time to regroup and organize further attacks.  Now he's lied to his superiors. 

At that point, we're beyond mere "dereliction of duty," we've found direct, conscious choices which provided aid and comfort to the enemy.  I don't think anyone would balk at charging that commander with Treason.

Well, that is almost exactly what happened with Benghazi, but "the commander" is the President of the United States.

Barack Obama is a traitor.

Fighting Back

Okay, so let's assume we're not just going to surrender.  Let's assume we either want to actively attack, or make a strategic retreat to shore up our defenses.  What do would our goals be?  How could we accomplish them.

Goal 1 - Reform Education
This has a couple of different fronts, and we should work on all of them.  Whether we're attacking into Blue areas, or just shoring up the Red, the tactics are largely the same.

1- Run, baby, run.  Are you clean and articulate?  Do you have the fortitude to pound the pavement for several months out of the next year?  Then let me recommend getting plugged in with both your local Tea Party and local GOP groups, then run for a spot on the School Board or your City Council.  It's hard to think much bigger than that, for most people, so let's work on making our local governments as conservative as possible.

Then, support current local politicians who are solidly conservative for State-wide positions, including your State Board of Education.  Let's get Conservative ideas taught in schools. 

2- Let those who can, teach.  Are you moderately successful in your profession, and have a degree?  Are you now unemployed?  Let me recommend an alternative teacher's certification.  Not all States have these, but I'm pretty sure that most do.  This is a teachers certification for people who did not get education degrees.  Different states handle them differently. 

Remember that liberal Government and Economics teacher you had?  Imagine if he had been conservative.  How many high schoolers could have learned solid conservative economic lessons?  Remember when you had to read "Of Mice and Men" in High School?  Imagine if your teacher had been a Conservative using it to teach lessons about personal responsibility and the need of a society to protect itself?

How many times have Conservatives complained about the liberal bent of education?  Well, it won't change if we don't change it.

Goal 2- Reform the Culture
I've mentioned this a couple of times recently, but we really need to get into the culture war and start fighting.  If we want to be taken seriously, we have to act seriously.  Again, I don't think these tactics change much no matter whether you're on the strategic retreat, or the attack side.

1- Conservative culture warriors. We have a plethora of conservatives in entertainment.  Many of them are afraid to 'come out' as conservatives because of what it would mean to their careers.  We need them to step up despite their fear.  We need conservative leaning action movies, dramas, and romantic comedies.  We need conservative TV shows and music.  In return, we need to vociferously defend any entertainer who comes out as conservative, and support them monetarily.

2- Get in the local game.  Your city has a Fourth of July festival.  Your local GOP and/or Tea Party group should sponsor a float and a booth.  Make sure the name of your local GOP or Tea Party group is on the list of sponsors of Christmas toy drives, or Thanksgiving food drives.  Make sure their names show up as sponsors of local 5Ks and bike races.

I think if we could focus on these two goals, using these four tactics, we could make great strides.  Think, if you're a "strategic retreat" type of deep, deep Red States churning out conservatives from their education systems, backed with a culture with which people can identify.  Eventually we would be big enough to attempt the Diaspora without losing our strongholds.  If you're an "attack" type, imagine Purple states turning Pink, and Pink states turning Red as the next generation is reared with conservative ideas.

But whichever side you're on, none of this works if you don't get in the game.

Surrender, Retreat, or Attack?

I mentioned this over in the comments at the Ace of Spades HQ (link in sidebar), but thought I would expand on it here.

After the devastating (morally, if not mathematically) loss by Mitt Romney to Barack Obama in the November 6th election, Republican recriminations have been thicker than flies on a carcass.  When boiled down, Republicans (and Conservatives; the two do not completely overlap) seem to fall into one of three camps.

  1. Surrender
  2. Retreat
  3. Attack
The surrender group is actually made up of two different groups, not at all in agreement.  One group says we should surrender our principles.  They suggest that Republicans lost because they were "too far to the Right."  They suggest that a North Eastern somewhat Liberal Republican was too conservative for the US Electorate.  The other group says we should just give the Democrats everything they want.  The theory behind this "let it burn" mindset is that the collapse is inevitable, and either a) we'll be getting what we deserve or b) it will be less painful in the long run to get it done now.

The retreat group is also made up of two different groups, though I think they largely agree on the ultimate goal, and just disagree tactically.  The first of these groups agrees that the collapse is inevitable (and, indeed, may also be in the "let it burn" category), and says that the correct answer is to look to your own family, and do everything you can to prepare for the collapse.  Once the collapse then comes, the argument goes, "we" will survive in much better shape to guide whatever rises from the ashes.  The second group believes in a Mass Conservative Migration.  This group believes that conservatives from irredeemably Blue States should move to Red (or even swing) States and build a very strong Conservative base in those areas.  They do not believe the collapse is inevitable.

The final group seems also be made up of two groups.  The first group says that we should attack the Democrats on everything.  We should fight the fiscal cliff fight, for example, demanding everything we want, and be just as willing to go over the fiscal cliff as the Democrats are.   The second group recommends what I've heard described as the Red Diaspora.  This would be the reverse of the Mass Conservative Migration.  Instead of Conservatives in Blue States moving to Red States, Conservatives in Red States would move to Blue States, trying to make them into Swing States.

The only group I'm sure I disagree with is the "attack" group.  I do not believe we currently have the resources to make either of those strategies work.  For the political opposition line to work, I think we would need a strong Conservative leader.  Instead we have John Boehner.  I don't think the risk of turning reliably Red States into swing (or worse: Blue) States is worth the relatively minor gains we would see from Diaspora.

I find myself at least in partial agreement with both "Let it Burn" (surrender and retreat varieties) and with the Mass Conservative Migration retreat groups.  You might call these "strategic retreats."  They are falling back to stronger positions to reorganize and strengthen our "army."

Fill the comments with your thoughts.  I think this is of vital importance to decide before local elections next year.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fratricide: Bakers' Union Kills Nearly 13,000 Other Union Jobs

Well, they did it.  Hostess said Wednesday that if the Bakers weren't back to work by end of day Thursday, they'd liquidate.  The Teamsters (hardly a friend of corporations) backed them up, saying that Hostess really couldn't afford a better deal than it was offering.  The Bakers still didn't believe them, and refused to return to work.

This morning, Hostess has declared it will seek judicial permission to liquidate its assets, shutter all of its plants, and lay off approximately 18,000 mostly union workers.  The Bakers union was the second largest, after the Teamsters, for Hostess.  The represent about 5,000 employees.  These 5,000 employees decided that it was better that no one get anything than that they take an 8% pay cut.

Think about that.  Rather than take 92% of their prior pay rate, they would rather take 0% and force the other workers (again: largely union workers) also to get 0% of their prior wages.

Heck of a job.

Now, I'm not sure what the Bakers Union told the employees, but I suspect people didn't really think things all the way through.  You see, when a company normally lays off employees, they are eligible for some benefits.  These include Unemployment and COBRA.  When a company liquidates, however, all of those benefits go away.  That includes for people currently on them.  So it's not just current employees who are being screwed over by the bakers, it's employees who had been fired, laid off, or otherwise left the company in the last 18 months.  I'm sure in this time of (real) 14+% unemployment, they'll really appreciate not having access to Unemployment benefits or COBRA.

Then there are retirees.  Pensions?  Gone.  Retiree health benefits?  Gone.  The company will discharge all of those liabilities in bankruptcy.  The bakers union has absolutely destroyed well upwards of 18,000 lives, because they didn't want to take an 8% pay cut.  Zero percent was better, in their minds, than 92%.

Now, it's easy to pin this just on the bakers union.  In this particular case, it's where the blame belongs.  But there is a larger point, here.

Unions often talk about a fraternity, or a sense of mutual respect even between unions.  One of the reasons strikes are often effective is that when one union strikes, others often will in solidarity.  Unions help each other out.  Union members respect members of other unions.  They're not like those icky Scabs who just want to work for a wage, and don't particularly care about Sticking It To The Man. 

But when it comes down to it, they'll throw that fraternity away.  Their selfish desires mean they'll use the other unions, but they don't really care about them.  If they think they can get more, even if losing the gamble means ruining other lives, they'll take the gamble.

And why shouldn't they?  It's not the union bosses who are going to be out of a job on Tuesday.  They won't be the ones losing their pensions and benefits.  The union bosses won't be looking for work in this economy.  What skin is it off their nose if these 18,000 families suddenly have no, or at least greatly reduced, income?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Tax Hike Lie

While Mitt Romney was running for President, he kept making one mistake over and over (beyond any election-day specific mistakes, or mistakes about the lay of the political land).  Every time the question of his tax plan would come up, he claimed he wanted to keep taxes 'revenue neutral' by 'closing loopholes.'  In short, he wanted to do exactly what Barack Obama wants to do- keep taxes on everyone except "the rich" low, and raise taxes on those evil rich.  The difference is that Obama said it outright, and Romney did not.

Part of this comes from a fallacy, too long accepted as fact, on the part of Republicans- the idea that tax cuts need to be "paid for."  This should be laughed at, mocked, and ridiculed until no Democrat has the courage to say it ever again.  Lowering marginal tax rates increases tax revenue.  Every time that a Democrat or someone from the Media (BIRM) asks about "paying for tax cuts," the response should be, "They categorically pay for themselves.  Decreased tax rates result in increased tax revenue." 

Now, Republicans will be challenged on this.  They'll receive push-back.  But, as with so many things, the facts are on our side.

George W. Bush lowered tax rates, and revenue climbed.  Maybe he's not the best example, because he spent too much.
Ronald Reagan lowered tax rates, and revenue climbed.  He also "spent too much," but he had to deal with a Democrat House.  But maybe he's not the best example either, since Democrats hated him so much.
John F. Kennedy lowered tax rates, and revenue climbed.  I really like that one, because it tends to make Democrats apoplectic.  They can't criticize him, because they've made JFK their patron saint.  But neither will they concede that ground.  It's fun watching their rhetorical gymnastics to get out of that bind.

Every single time someone says anything to the effect of "we have to raise revenue," the Republican answer must be, "Then History demands we lower tax rates."

Every.  Single.  Time.

The Growing Police State: Dog Poop Edition

Welcome to Nazi California, where allowing your dog to poop in your own yard can cost you up to $100,000.00.  Per day.

Per the North County Times (a San Diego News Paper), San Diego is about to implement a policy whereby... well, I'll just quote them:
California’s latest experiment in faith-based policymaking is being unleashed today on the San Diego public, as regional water-quality officials begin hearings on new regulations that seem crafted to turn most owners of a car, house or dog into criminals within a decade or so. We wish we were exaggerating.

Under the draft rules, ordinary homeowners may face six years in prison and fines of $100,000 a day if they are deemed serial offenders of such new crimes as allowing sprinklers to hit the pavement, washing a car in the driveway, or, conceivably, failing to pick up dog poop promptly from their own backyards, let alone the sidewalk.

"Allowing sprinklers to hit the pavement?"  "Washing a car in the driveway?"  Seriously, what kind of State are you living in, Californians?  That's just stupid.

Now, the rules claim to be for "water quality," but, in reality, they're for revenue generation.  Think about it: even if you have automatic sprinklers, water is going to hit the pavement.  This is even more true with manual sprinklers.  Criminalizing washing your own car does two things: if you comply with the law, that means you're going to a car wash, who are paying lisence fees and taxes to the city, and if you don't comply, they can fine and even jail you.

And, dog poop?  Seriously?  Now, I hate when people don't pick up after their dogs in public as much as the next person, but one of the reasons I have a yard is so I don't have to pick up after my dogs daily.  I would hardly have time for anything else.

Of course, Californians could do something about this.  They could elect actual conservative leaders and stop sticking their hands out for more government goodies.  But, considering they also just passed a tax increase on themselves (a Liberal's wet dream, that), I guess we can't expect any such sanity any time soon.

Until then, I'll just point out that it isn't generally free societies that encourage people to rat out their neighbors for leaving dog poop in the yard.

No More Twinkies!?

When the Unions screwed over GM and Chrysler, I was upset.  When the Unions attempted to jeopardize our military by striking against Lockheed Martin, I was incensed (also, got some results, however minor).  When the Unions forced American Airlines into bankruptcy, I decried them.  But this is simply a bridge to far.

They are now imperiling my Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes. 

Hostess declared bankruptcy back in January.  Since then, they have been attempting to restructure both their debt and their organization.  The Unions, however, have fought them the whole way.  It seems they would rather have 100% of nothing, than 50% of something.  So, yesterday, Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn said that the company would liquidate its holdings if striking workers did not return to work by the end of business today.

That's over 18,000 jobs gone.  Not to mention the Twinkie, Hostess Cupcakes, Zingers, and other fine pastries.  Beyond the 18,000 jobs (and my precious cupcakes), there will be a ripple effect from this causing ancillary damage to the economy.  How many tons of flour must Hostess use in a day?  How many tons of butter, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients?  How many gallons of fuel do they use in their trucks?  Then there is their equipment which requires regular maintenance and replacement.

I'm not sure who is more to blame, here.  Hostess, the union workers, or the union bosses.  In the case of AMR, for instance, I know that AMR executives wasted a lot of good will when they got concessions from their unions several years ago, and then went ahead and paid bonuses to their executives.  So I can at least understand where the unions are coming from in that dispute, even if I think they're being self-destructive.  I have heard no such stories about Hostess, however.

Then there are the union workers.  Surely they're hearing what the company is saying?  Surely they realize that any job is better than none, and that it's better than a few hundred people get laid off (which means they would continue to collect unemployment, be eligible for COBRA, etc.) than for the company to completely liquidate (in which case none of those things is true)?  Why would they continue striking?

And finally there are the union bosses.  They, as always, are in it only for themselves.  They don't care about those jobs lost, they only care about those union dues, and you can bet union membership won't expire just because someone's job is gone.  Teamsters will keep their union membership up to date if they want to get another truck driving job elsewhere.  Same with the bakers' union.  And so on.  It's no skin of the union's nose if all of those jobs are gone, they still get their money.

It seems to me that union workers would wise up, here.  The Union bosses are not looking out for them, they're simply looking for a payday.  The company isn't looking out for them either, but it is more in the company's best interest to look out for the workers than it is in the Union's.  Be skeptical of both, but the one who is proving more trustworthy here is Hostess.

I hope this is resolved without loss of my beloved cupcakes.  But, if it's not, I side with the company.  What cannot continue will not, and if the union workers and union bosses refuse to acknowledge that simple fact, then I have no sympathy for them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

President Obama: I Instructed Ambassador Rice To Lie About Benghazi

Shorter Obama: Impeach me, please.

So President Obama had a press conference today.  As Ace explains it- he gave no real answers, but he did have time for "a smoghasbord of evasions and feigned outrage."

Here's the pull quote:
"As I said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and besmirch her reputation is outrageous," President Obama said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Now, Ace highlights a couple of things: that if President Obama is going to say "come after me, bro" then Senators McCain and Graham ought to say "Okay, we'll subpoena you for Friday."  He also points out the President's typically passive language.

I want to highlight something else:  Look at that formulation again.  Susan Rice "made an appearance at the request of the White House."  That would be President Obama, unless the physical White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC suddenly started talking.  "...She gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her."  In other words, despite the fact that we have documented that the White House knew before the terror attack was over that it was an Al Qaida linked terror attack, Ambassador Rice was given "intelligence" which indicated a YouTube video was to blame.

Now, I'm guessing that Susan Rice is not stupid.  I'm guessing she, like everyone else with a frontal lobe thought, "Seriously, that's the official line?"  And she did it anyway.  She lied- it doesn't matter whether or not she knew what the truth was, she certainly knew it wasn't the line she'd been fed.  She lied at the Presidents specific direction.

Then, the fact that other Administration officials supported this story- again, despite the fact we know know what the truth was, and knew even then what the truth wasn't- means that "the White House" (read: President Barack Hussein Obama) had given them that story and told them to repeat it.  Not only did they repeat it, they repeated it under oath.

So add that to the list. 
Barack Obama knew that the mission in Benghazi was woefully under-protected, and he did nothing.
Ambassador Chris Steven begged for more security, and Obama did nothing.
When the attack occurred, local support was ordered -twice- to "stand down."
When the attack occurred, a military response was never mounted, despite the fact that fighter planes could have arrived in an hour or less, and commandos in 3 hours or less.
When the attack occurred, Barack Obama WENT TO BED.
When questions started being asked, Barack Obama suborned perjury.

Okay, Messrs. Boehner, Cantor, Graham, and McCain.  You heard the man, go after him.  When can we expect the articles of impeachment?

It's All The Same

The American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Bolshevik Revolution.  What do these things (and, likely, every other "revolution" in the history of mankind) have in common?  An oppressive upper class which seemed to view the labor class as fodder for their own enrichment.

Now, each of these was wildly different in other respects, which is why one has been (until recently) a wild success, one was a miserable failure, and one looked like a success when viewed in poor light but led to hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths and eventually also failed.  But, at bottom, they all came back to one thing.  The ruling class- whoever they were- did not pay attention to the ruled class.  To their peril.

When the North American Patriots revolted against the English Crown, the proximate cause was the Stamp Act.  Many things went into that, including the fact the taxes had to be paid in silver or gold, which the colonists largely did not have, due to prior tax acts.  But the ultimate cause was that the English government saw the Colonies as little more than a piggy bank to be raided at will for more funds.  We were lucky that the Patriots were made up of men like Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

When the French rose up against their monarchy in a bloody revolution, the ultimate cause was also an assumption on the part of the noble classes that the commoners would simply surrender the produce of their own labor indefinitely, regardless of the results.  Whoops.

When the Russian Soviet rose up for the second time in about a year (the Tsars already having been overthrown and a "provisional" government already in place), it was because they believed that the Ownership classes- the Bourgeois- were seeking simply to replace the Tsars with themselves (the Bourgeois), not to actually establish a government, as we might say, "By, of, and for the People."

(Note: none of this investigates whether the people were correct in their beliefs, it simply gets back to what they believed).

What this shows is that people will bear up under a great deal of tyranny, but there is a breaking point.  Usually, if History is any indication, that breaking point involves people realizing that they are not in control of the produce of their own labor.  For if a man is not in control of the produce of his own labor, he is nothing more than a slave- whether to a private entity in the institution of Slavery, or to the Government.

Conservatives Propose Good Stewardship. Liberals Cry.

Why is this even a question?  A bill has been pre-filed for the upcoming (next year) Texas Legislative session which would require people applying for TANF to take (and pass) a drug test.  This is hardly an onerous requirement.  If I can be required to pass a drug test to get a job whereby my taxes can be used to pay for TANF, it is not unreasonable to have people applying for it also pass a drug test.

Of course, this is a bridge too far for Liberals for some reason (they're very free with your money).  As far as I can see, there are three lines of argument here.

1- "What about the children!"  This "argument" basically says that people applying for TANF who do drugs might have kids, and we can't possibly harm those kids by not giving their parents direct cash assistance. 

This is what Joe Biden might call "a load of Stuff."

First off, the bill would not affect food-stamps (well, now the LoanStar Card), so we're not exactly taking food out of the children's mouths.  Second, the State should not be responsible for your children, you should be.  If you can't be persuaded not to do drugs, I shouldn't be paying for your kids.  If you want to make them wards of the State, there are ways you can do that.  You don't get to keep custody of them and then demand that I care for them.

2- "They only get $174!"  I think the point of this argument is that each individual receives so little cash assistance that it's not worth controlling.

Again, this is "a load of Stuff."

It is correct that the average payment per case in the TANF Basic program is $174.  What that doesn't tell is how many payments someone receives.  Is that $174 per week?  Per month?  Per year?  All told, in October of 2012 alone, TANF paid $7,302,339.  A rolling 12 month average appears to be in the $7,000,000/mo range for a rough total of $84,000,000.00 in the last year alone.  And that's only for "Basic" cases.

Ask the Texas School System what they could do with an extra $84,000,000.00.  Or, for that matter, tax-payers.

The other thing to remember is that this is "direct cash assistance."  That means this is cash money (well, probably a check, but the point remains).  Once the recipient has that cash in hand, they can do whatever they want with it.  That "whatever they want" includes "buy drugs."  If we don't want them buying drugs with that money, then we need to take steps to make sure we're not funding drug users or drug dealers.

3- "No one else has done it correctly, why do you think we can?" - this argument speaks for itself, and it's the only one really worth rebutting as a serious argument.

It feels really strange to be on this side of the argument.  Normally it is Conservatives pointing to some Liberal tax-and-spend/redistributionist/communist policy and pointing out that it has never worked, with Liberals crying, "Oh, but this time we'll do it right!"  Conservatives roll our eyes and get ready to pick up the pieces.

In this case, they do have a point- the policy, while straight-forward sounding, will not be that straight-forward in implementation.  How are we going to pay for these drug tests?  Will it be required every time someone applies for TANF, or will they be random?  If we're testing everyone who applies for TANF (or even a significant percentage of them) are we really going to save the Texas Tax Payer any money?

Unlike Liberals, who generally explain "shut up," when confronted with these questions about their own policies, I'll answer honestly: I don't know.  I do think it's worth looking at.  I think the goal is noble, but that doesn't make it practical.  I certainly recommend the policy be thoroughly examined for practicality before being put in place.  If we spend $40,000,000.00 to save $30,000,000.00, we were better off without the program.  Just as it is not the State's duty to look after your children, it's not the States job to be your parent, either.

That said, my hunch is that it can be implemented well.  If I were to answer those questions, here would be my answer:
1- How are we going to pay? Use the money from the TANF program itself.  If a $50.00 drug test can prevent one person on drugs from getting assistance, then that one person has paid for two more tests of people who aren't using drugs.  As long as we don't spend more than we are already, we're not any the worse.  I can't justify spending any new money on the program, though.

2- Every person, or random?  Well, I would suggest that the first time someone applies for TANF, they have to get tested, and after that, random tests- just like most employers do.

3- Are we really going to save money?  Well, my suggestions would mean that we would at least not spend any more than we are right now, and, yes, we might save money.  That said, this, to me, is the linchpin argument.  If the number-crunchers look at the program and show that we are not at least breaking even, then the program should not be implemented.

With all of that said, it is important to realize that the argument, however valid it might seem to be, is entirely disingenuous.   Liberals do not care about "well it's never worked before" or they would abandon most of their own positions.  Liberals do not care about "how" it is going to work.  They do not care about how we would pay for it.  Liberals do not care about if it would save, or cost, the taxpayers money.

Liberals care that they can spend your money to bribe people to pay for them.  They want to be seen as "caring" for people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Real Victims of the Petraeus Scandal

When the news of General Petraeus's resignation suddenly broke last week, and with the resulting Springerian Nightmare (I just made that up), I think the country is starting to lose sight of something important.

The "real" victims of General Petraeus are 4 Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and their families.

Because of the scandal, General Petraeus's testimony before Congress has been postponed- possibly indefinitely.  Because of his infidelity, and the fact it was known for months prior, his judgement is in question and he was compromised from a security standpoint.  This means that key questions may never be answered.  It means that blame might be successfully shifted from President Obama (where, as chronicled here, it rightly belongs) to General Petraeus and the CIA (where it does not).

Because of the scandal, we may never know why the CIA operatives in Benghazi were given a stand down order.  Was it because the CIA was operating a secret prison in Benghazi?  I'm sorry, but that simply doesn't make sense.  Was it simply for political cover?  We now may never know.

Another real victim of General Petraeus?  Holly Petraeus, his wife.  I have seen some of the most vile comments about her, both from liberal and conservative sources, and they are undeserved.  There is no reason to speculate on "why" General Petraeus would violate his wedding vows and have an extended extramarital affair.  "Why" does not matter.  To lay any blame at the feet of Holly Petraeus is the worst form of blame-shifting (all the blame lays with Gen. Petraeus and his mistress) and misogyny.

Jerry Springer Goes to the Pentagon

Imagine you turn on the TV and you see the following.  Two kind of skeevy looking elderly dudes, and their wives and mistresses.  One the mistress of one outed the relationship between the other skeevy dude and his mistress.  While someone was digging into that, they discovered the affair between skeevy dude number 2 and his mistress.  Oh, and mistress number two has a crazy (as in: denied custody of her children by a judge because she was so crazy) twin sister.

Would you expect to see this on:
  A) The Evening News
  B) The Jerry Springer Show
If you answered "B" you would be wrong.  This almost exactly what happened in the case of General Petraeus and General Allen.  Except that instead of ruining a couple of lives and making them laughing stocks, a la Jerry Springer, this affair compromised National Security and (quite likely) cost thousands of good men and women their lives.

Now, a lot of pixels are being used, and ink being spilled, over this whole sordid affair.  Most of it seems to be centering on whose "fault" it is.  I have not seen very much spent at all on what effect this has had, and will have on the Intelligence and Military communities.

Perhaps most superficially, there is the PR nightmare.  Both of these men were highly decorated, highly respected Generals.  General Petraeus had been in President Obama's Cabinet since the beginning of his Administration, first over the Pentagon and then swapping with Leon Panetta to head the CIA.  Prior to that, he'd been the author of the COIN "Surge" strategy which largely completed our mission in Iraq.  General Allen was the head commander of our forces in Afghanistan, and was being considered for promotion.  That these men are now embroiled in, as Gabe from Ace of Spades puts it, "a love Pentagon," makes this a terrible blow to the trust Americans place in military leadership.

More importantly, what practical effects did this have on Intelligence and Military operations?  What things were missed because these men were getting some strange on the side?  How many lives were lost because Gens. Petraeus and Allen were not paying attention to their duties?  What cost was there to National Security?  After all, a powerful man in an affair is a compromised man.

I think these things need investigation.  And only one man can get to the bottom of it.  Only one man in America has shown the ability to sort through this kind of back-and-forth recriminations.

Jerry.  Springer.

Could This Really Happen?

So, the Texas Secession Petition more than reached its goal of 25,000 signatures yesterday.  I haven't even checked to see what it's up to, now, since the White House rules (assuming they follow them) require the President to address the petition if it meets that goal- any additional signatures are just gravy.  So, in theory, the President must "respond to" this petition.  Other States' petitions are also picking up steam.

So, could Secession really happen?  Is it possible that we could, once again, be the Republic of Texas?

As I see it, there are three major, practical, aspects to this question.  Is there the will?  Is the Texas Economy strong enough to support a separate sovereign nation?  Can Texas defend itself?  On top of these, there are two political aspects to this question.  Is it politically viable within the United States?  Is it politically viable with foreign powers?

I'll take these in reverse order.

Is it politically viable for Foreign Powers to acknowledge Texas as a sovereign nation?  You would think this would be a simple question.  In theory, no one else has a dog in this particular hunt, so why should they care?  If they don't care, then they should have no problem acknowledging Texas as a sovereign nation, presuming Texas were to secede successfully in the first place.  What makes it more difficult, however, is the Gulf of Mexico.  How would control of that body of water break down?  Then there are our oil resources, and the fact that countries would have to renegotiate a number of contracts, and so on and so forth.  Ultimately I believe it is feasible, but it's not as clear cut as one might think.

Is it politically viable for the US Federal Government to acknowledge Texas as a separate sovereign nation?  This really depends on how many States want to secede.  If it's just Texas, I think the answer is a qualified "yes."  With Texas's energy resources, including oil and natural gas, as well as our access to the Gulf, there would be a variety of agreements so that US Companies could continue operating in Texas and so forth.  The US Military Bases in Texas would have to be dealt with- would the US Forces withdraw completely?  How would that work?

On the other hand, if more than one State moves to secede, then there is no way that the Federal Government can allow the secession unopposed.  Taking the most likely choices, the first three to secede would be Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.  Among those three are the vast majority of the oil refining capabilities in the United States.  If those three leave, the US is in a world of hurt, energy wise.  That doesn't include the control that would be exerted over the Gulf, especially the mouth of the Mississippi river.  If more than one State asks to secede, then all will be denied.  That would mean either secession fails, or a shooting war.

That takes us to the next question: Can Texas defend itself?  This is even more tricky a question than the first.  Certainly Texas has many military bases, but they're all US Military bases.  Texas has the Texas Guard, it's own militia used mostly to supplement the border patrol and the National Guard (normally during disaster relief).  Certainly Texas has the means to produce what it needs to defend itself.  So the answer to this question comes down to the resolution of previous question.  If the US allows Texas to secede peacefully, then I see no reason Texas could not quickly arm itself to defend its own borders.  If Texas is not allowed to secede peacefully, something would have to be done about the US Military resources already in the State.

Is the Texas Economy strong enough to support a separate, sovereign nation?  I think the answer to this question is an unqualified "yes."  The Texas Economy is stronger than the average in the United States, and is larger than many other countries.  With our energy and technical resources, as well as access to the Gulf Coast, the Texas Economy could certainly support itself- perhaps better, once unfettered from the US Economy as a whole.

Finally, is there the will?  This I believe, at least currently, is a qualified "no."  Certainly people in some quarters really want to secede.  Some of them have even done a more in-depth analysis of what it would take than I have here.  They have counted the cost, and determined it is worth paying.  I think, however, the majority of the population has not seriously considered secession.  I believe most of them have not counted the cost.  I believe that, once they do, many of them would not support secession under any circumstances, and most of the rest would only support a peaceable secession.

In the end, this is the deciding factor.  I simply do not believe that Texas is currently fed up enough to secede.  I do think, however, that we are approaching that level.  Give it a few more years of Texas propping up California, Illinois, and New York, and you might see minds begin to change.  Give ObamaCare a couple of years of full operation, and you might see minds begin to change.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The "Liberty" Party

No, those aren't scare quotes, they're to denote that the word "Liberty" should be featured in Republican talking points.

People more in tune with such things than me have been digesting the election return numbers, but I think a couple of things are clear.  First, too many people that Republicans thought would be voting didn't.  Second, the margin of loss, while painful, was actually less than in 2008- that indicates we made up ground.  Third, the Republican Message is scary to people who live on Government Cheese.

For an example of that, go check out this post from Ace.  This isn't the only story I've heard of this kind.  When one party is offering free stuff, and the other is offering responsibility, people who are dependent upon (or believe they are dependent upon) that free stuff will vote for the free stuff.

While it is actually true that Romney's plan would be better for them, they never heard that; or if they did, they didn't believe it.  What they heard was that Romney wanted to end their entitlements to "pay for" tax cuts "for the rich."

So it's time to change the messaging.  I noted in this space last week that part of what we need to do is infiltrate popular culture.  Movies, TV, and music should all be things on which we focus.  But our politicians need to fine tune the message, too.

With respect to Mark Davis, I suggest we become the "Liberty" Party.  We're not for tax cuts, we're for "Economic Liberty."  We're not for school choice we're for "Education Liberty."  We're not against unions, we're for "Labor Liberty."

Liberty should be the national message, and it can be adapted to anything- including social issues.

Homosexual Marriage: "I'm neither for nor against same-sex marriage.  However, I believe in Moral Liberty and vehemently oppose anything that would restrict churches, organizations, or even employers from having their own rules regarding who they employee or what benefits they provide based on such issues.  I believe that, where it becomes a public policy issue, Liberty is better protected by the States exercising their authority than by the Federal Government making one-size-fits-all laws."

Abortion: "As a matter of official national policy, I do not have a specific stance regarding abortion.  I do believe that the States should have their just Liberty, under the 10th Amendment, to make whatever laws their People see fit regarding the availability of abortions.  Roe v Wade is not bad because it made abortions more easily available, but because it simultaneously usurped the role of the Congress as the Legislative branch, and violated the 10th Amendment Rights of the States."

It is important to remember that these are national stances.  At the State and Local levels, you have much more room to fit yourself to your direct constituents.  That also means that Republicans in Texas and Republicans in Massachusetts might take different State stances on same-sex marriage or abortion, but would take a single, unified stance at the national level.

There are probably others who are even better at this phrasing than I am, but I believe this is the message we need to be broadcasting: Liberty.

Simple Truth: Direct Taxes are Tyrannical

Government runs on taxation.  While a sovereign government can print its own currency, that currency means nothing if its people produce nothing of value.  Taxation is a charge on the value someone creates.  Taxes are necessary to the functioning of government, and a government which does not raise enough in taxes to cover its obligations is doomed, eventually, to failure.

There are two methods to raise these taxes, they are Direct Taxation and Indirect Taxation.  In general, Indirect Taxes will be conducive to Liberty and Direct Taxes will be conducive to Tyranny.  It behooves us to understand why.

Indirect taxation taxes the value created by a good or service.  In general, these will be sales taxes (a general tax on the value of any transaction) or a duty or levy (a specific tax on an item or category of items).  If you want to think of them that way, indirect taxes are a commercial transaction which takes place on top of another commercial transaction.

In any commercial transaction, payment is rendered for some good or service.  If you are the one who is "selling" then you are rendering a good or service in exchange for a different good- usually money.  If you are the one who is "buying" then you are rendering a good (again, usually money) for some other good or service.

In the case of indirect taxes, the "good or service" you are "purchasing" is the Government.  Specifically, it is to be hoped that what is being funded is the necessary operation of, or payment for, government obligations.  In theory, the taxes should have some baring on the item or transaction taxed.  As a specific example, gasoline taxes are supposed to be used to pay for road maintenance and new roads.  Another specific example would regulatory charges which pay for the operation of the regulatory agencies.  A more general example- a sales tax- simply pays for the operation of government generally.  It is assumed that the operation of government assists the sale in some way- for instance, by providing enough peace and stability for a money economy to function.

These are conducive to Liberty for two main reasons.

The first is that there is a limit to the amount of money an indirect tax can raise.  While a government can theoretically set any level of fee or taxation on any specific good, service, or transaction, the reality is that people do consider those fees and taxes into the cost of items before they purchase them.  Raising sales taxes too high will serve only to kill your money economy.  Barter and under-the-table economies will quickly rise to replace the "official" economy and thus deny funds to the Government all together.  To some degree this happens already.

The second reason is that indirect taxes are, to some degree, voluntary.  No one has to purchase cigarettes, or alcohol, or even gasoline for that matter.  Certainly many people do purchase these things.  Many people even view them as "necessities," but they are not.  The British Government thought of tea as a "staple item."  Weren't they surprised when some men in Boston most emphatically said, "no, it's not?"  So to the extent that various goods, services, and transactions can be avoided, so can those taxes be avoided.  That gives me many legal options for keeping more of my own money.

Direct taxes, however, are inherently tyrannical.  They are taxes on one of two things, in either case the tax is a form of tyranny.  Direct taxes are either a tax on simply being alive, or they are a tax on a person's labor.

Note that taxes, in these cases, would still be "commercial transactions."  That is, you're paying a good (money) for something- but what is that "something," and do you have the option to avoid that tax by not partaking in that something?  In the case of a "capitation" or "per-head" tax, the tax is simply on your life.  You are, in essence, paying the government just because you are alive.  Note that this is the kind of "tax, but not-a-tax" written into ObamaCare to enforce the individual mandate.  Simply being alive is enough to force you (in that particular case) to purchase a product or pay a tax.  Income taxes, however, are taxes on your labor.  Again, conceptually, you are paying the government for the right to produce something of value and reap the benefits of it.

In either case, the government is taxing one of your Natural (or "inalienable") Rights.  It taxes your right to Property in the case of income taxes, while it taxes your right to Life in the case of per-head taxes.

Now, that in itself is tyrannical.  Indeed, it is the definition of tyranny- you either live only at the sufferance of the State, or you work directly for the good of the State.  But beyond that, the same things that make indirect taxes conducive to Liberty are reversed in direct taxes.

Limit on taxation?  Well, there is a practical limit, in that those with means will eventually expatriate and renounce their citizenship if necessary to avoid insanely high taxation.  But those without means have no ability to avoid those taxes.  There is no surety against a 100% income tax and total redistribution of wealth.  Indeed, some on the Left have prescribed exactly that.

Voluntary?  Only insofar as you could always choose to commit suicide, or refuse to engage in any labor.  That is, they are only voluntary to the extent you can volunteer not to live, and not to obtain property.

I, personally, have been skeptical of the practical way in which a national sales tax could be implemented.  With the re-election of Barack Obama I no longer care.  Direct taxes are tyrannical.  Indirect taxes are not.  It is time to force the Government out of sectors it shouldn't be in in the first place, and back to its first principles.  Direct taxes, with their correspondingly lower revenues, are the best way to do that.

Cover Up: Obama Admin Knew About Petraeus Affair

As more information comes to light about General Petraeus's affair with his biographer, the White House looks worse and worse.

First: the affair apparently began before General Petraeus assumed leadership of the CIA.  Before he was able to take that office, he would have been vetted, including an interview while attached to a lie detector.  Are the CIA really that bad at finding this kind of thing?

Second: the FBI had been investigating this for months.  While at the onset the were not aware that Petraeus was the object of their investigation, they knew that part months ago.  Now, the FBI reports to the Attorney General who, in turn, reports to the White House.  That means that Eric Holder knew, and that Barack Obama should have known, that David Petraeus was having an affair and, therefore, compromised. 

That second piece is hugely important for two reasons.  The first is simple- outside of the President himself, the last person the US can afford to have so compromised is the head of the CIA.  I have not seen any reports that Petreaus was being blackmailed, but those rumors certainly exist.  Importantly, he had opened himself to blackmail, which is bad enough.  He should have been dismissed as soon as it came to light.  Not only was he not, but the whole affair was covered up by the Attorney General and (likely) the President.

As a result of that cover up, a compromised CIA Director was in place during the 9/11 Benghazi attack.  Is it possible that some of the problems in coordination and response were due to Mr. Petreaus being compromised?  Or because he was actively engaged in getting some strange at the time he should have been assisting with the response?  It doesn't matter that we'll never know the answers to those questions, the very fact they can be credibly asked is inexcusable.

Further, why was he left in place?  Was it the deeply cynical idea that removing him prior to the election would have been bad for Barack Obama?  I certainly hope not, but I cannot put it past the President who still has not acknowledged his own roll in Benghazi, nor the Fast and Furious scandal.  Was there some other reason?  I certainly can't think what it would be.

In either case, we once again come this statement: it's not the crime, it's the cover up.  People have affairs.  Some of them are powerful people.  Having an affair compromises your integrity; it also opens you up to a variety of negative consequences.  The more highly situated you are, the more negative those consequences have the potential to be.  By covering up the scandal instead of simply demanding General Petraeus's immediate resignation, Barack Obama left this country vulnerable.