Friday, August 30, 2013

Interesting Forecast

At 9:15am the temperature is 87 degrees, with a forecast high for the day of 85 degrees. The day's high here is typically around 3:00pm, so...

Master of Indecision

The British people, through their parliamentary representation, have said “fuck you” to America’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient in his drive to start another war, something that our Congress as a whole would almost certainly not do. Congress will be critical of him after he starts the war and make ineffectual gestures trying to get him to stop said war, but Congress never actually stops a president from doing anything.

That suggests that America, which claims to have invented democracy, has given up on it, while Britain, which fought a war with America to prevent the invention of democracy, is still operating in a democratic manner. Who could have predicted that?

Part of it may have to do with the fact that we directly elect our President, while they do not directly elect their Prime Minister. So if they get an idiot in Downing Street they are perfectly free to turn on him in a heartbeat, while if we get an idiot in the White House, which we usually do Well, you get the point. Democrats are still required to continue their adoring support of a Democratic president, and must even deny that he’s an idiot.

This particular saga of idiocy started with “Assad must go.” Nobody has ever explained the reason for that masterpiece of illogic. It was not based, certainly, on America’s interests because Assad was actually serving our interests rather well and had even made overtures of peace towards us and toward Israel. He was not coping very will with the flood of refugees from Iraq, admittedly, but who caused that mess?

The administration tried to explain it based on Assad being a “brutal dictator,” but that explanation has always struggled since we support equally brutal dictators in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar, to name just a few, and have supported far worse dictators in the past. Perhaps Mr. Obama personally hasn’t, but we’re talking about national policy here, not presidential personal whim.

He accelerated the idiocy with the “chemical weapons would be a red line” thing, which is what we call in sports lingo an “unforced error.” That means the opponent did not knock the ball out of your hands, you just got butter fingers and dropped the damned thing without contact. An answer along the lines of “I don’t discuss hypotheticals” would have made perfect sense, but no, he decides he needs to look all manly and tough. Oops, somebody fall on that ball.

And so the big moment arrives, the “red line is crossed” and Keystone Kops ensues. Obama gets all “we know who done it, we have no doubt, and we are kicking ass big time,” followed by Wait for it Crickets.

“We don’t need Congress, or the United Nations,” he says, “because we have a large coalition of nations beside us on this issue.” Not Russia or China, of course. And, oops, not Britain either. Nor Germany. The “Coalition Of The Willing” suddenly doesn’t believe us and our “definite proof” which we will not reveal because it would “compromise our sources,” and has become the “Coalition Of The Unwilling”

The word “compromise” has two meanings, you realize; one is to reveal who they are, the other is to reveal that they don’t exist. The longer we refuse to reveal them, the more it appears that we fear the second meaning. At this point, even our own intelligence services do not believe what our own president is claiming.

The military opposed the use of military force until the executive said he is definitely going to do it, at which point they began saying, "We are ready any time he gives the word." Sec’y of Defense, CJOS, and several Admirals are champing at the bit. “The ships are on station right now,” they say, ”and we can fire missiles within minutes of the President giving the word.”

Days later Prez is still silent, carrying fecklessness to new heights.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ditherer In Chief

Great howls of outrage because we know for absolute certain that the monster of Syria, Assad, has slaughtered his own people with a heinous attack using weapons of mass destruction. There is no question whatever that he crossed Obama’s “red line,” and we are by God going to do something about it. What we are going to do is going to really teach him a lesson and assure that he will never, ever do that again. The military is poised and ready, ships are on station, we have signed up a “coalition of the willing.”

Obama, on multiple occasions, has told us that “our national security is at stake” because these chemical weapons affect the “stability of the region” and that they one day “may be directed at us.” The “smoking gun that might be a mushroom cloud” has appeared.

But, five days later, our esteemed president has not yet decided what to do.

Obama has made it very clear that his delay is not because of any doubt about Assad’s guilt. He himself has made it very clear that there is no such doubt, and multiple spokesman have said that doubts expressed by the United Nations or by allies are not going to affect our decision to punish Assad with military strikes. It is merely that he is “considering his options” and is consulting with his advisors.

On one level I am pleased, because the longer we delay making idiotic and illegal attacks on other sovereign nations the better chance there is that we might be talked out of making them. There are not real high odds of that happening, but there is a better chance of silence if a bell is not rung than there is when trying to “unring” it.

At the same time, one wants to say to the dithering idiot in the White House, “Oh for God’s sake, just make up your feeble mind and do something.” He’s waiting for a “consensus” to emerge; waiting for a fucking parade to form so that he can get in front of it; waiting for someone to tell him what to do. This is not “leading from behind,” this is just being behind.

But one small light appear at the end of the tunnel, and it may not be the headlight of an oncoming train. Clapper and company have leaked information saying that our evidence of Assad’s guilt on this issue is full of holes, pardon me “includes a few key caveats.” Same thing.

It’s interesting that Clapper and company are expressing concern that our attack on Assad to punish him for chemical weapons use might be complicated by a possibility that “the attack could be tied to al-Qaida-backed rebels later,” while Obama has made statements which make it plain that he does not share any such concern. He has said repeatedly that there is simply no doubt possible, and multiple spokesmen have said that any doubts expressed by the United Nations or allies will not affect our decision regarding military strikes.

The only concern that Obama has expressed is that his attack might be to small to satisfy Republicans, thereby exposing him to criticism.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Olbermann Is Back

Keith Olbermann was mostly pretty annoying doing news commentary, but he is mostly pretty entertaining doing sports. It seemed like his snark was designed to be offensive when it was aimed at differing opinion, but when he is poking fun at a baseball player who tripped over his own feet in an empty grass outfield... He manages to be merely pointing out how funny it looks, which it does.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Reluctant Warrior

Obama is giving a rather convincing imitation of a president who does not want to use military force in Syria. My concern takes two forms; first is that he is a very convincing actor and we have fallen for his impersonations many times, the second is that even if he does not want to use force he has Susan Rice and Samantha Power screaming at him that “people are dying and WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING“ and he may not have the courage to resist them. Remember Libya; and people weren't even dying - yet.

“Doing something” about people dying involves, of course, missiles, bombs and various other miscellaneous forms of high explosives. We resolve the evil of people dying by making sure that even more people die.

He may also have backed himself into a corner with all of his own unthinking “tough words” about “red lines” and “Assad must go” nonsense. These are all words issued to maintain his own image as “tough on national security” to assuage the political right, even though they didn’t vote for him and their legislators will not vote for his policies until Hell freezes over, and probably not even then.

He doesn’t waste his breath catering to the people who did vote for him, and Democratic legislators will vote for his policies regardless of how many wars he starts or whatever else he does.

Not to mention that Syria has nothing to do with our national security.

It doesn’t help that Hagel is posturing and strutting about the positioning and prior use of cruise missiles, because if Obama doesn’t use those missiles than it will look like his Secretary of Defense is tougher than he is.

Actually, my cat Molly is tougher than Obama, but...

Finally, all of Obama’s posturing about not wanting to use military force could merely be a smoke screen to later provide him with a “reluctant warrior” stance when he does use force. “I never wanted to do this and held out as long as I could, but I no longer had any choice.” That gives him the best of both worlds, a new war to satisfy the neocons, and a position that does not alienate his “liberal base.”

He is, after all, renowned for three dimensional chess.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CBS Becomes The Comedy Channel

CBS Evening News manages to get on the wrong side of everything; following, of course, the lead of the Obama administration. It would be comedic if the misguidedness of it weren’t so damned tragic.

For months they were bleating about the “terrible plight” of the Syrian rebel cause, running film clips provided by the rebels, and citing statistics and quoting rebel fighters accusations uncritically; providing no balancing information from the Assad government's point of view. They made it sound as if Assad was lurking in one small of the corner of the country, bunkered with a tiny handful of loyalists who were defecting from him in droves.

In reality Assad did and still does have the loyalty of a majority of the Syrian population, something like 56% the last time I saw any specific citation. In particular he has the strong support of a sizeable Syrian Christian community, who will be slaughtered to the last person if the rebels win. No one seems to find it odd that Obama and our news media wants a government overthrown which is protecting a Christian population.

Now CBS News is presenting the Muslim Brotherhood as Egypt’s last hope for a democratic government, notwithstanding that that organization was actually in the process of corrupting the democratic government and installing a theocratic state, that more than three million people had been in the streets demanding the overthrow of the Morsi government, and that the Army enjoys the enthusiastic support of some 80% of the Egyptian population. Not to mention that the Muslim Brotherhood is burning Christian churches and killing Christians all over Egypt.

CBS News seems to be uncritically enamored of the overthrow of dictators and/or the unconditional support of uprisings, except when the dictator and the uprising is in Bahrain, Qatar or in Saudi Arabia. In those cases not so much, because those dictators are our dictators.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Who Have We Become?

When I enlisted in the Navy I encountered something that many regarded as hardship. Awakened at 4:30am by the sound of a Coke bottle rolling around inside an empty corrugated garbage can and a Chief Petty Officer bellowing “Reveille.” Out to the wash racks to hand wash one pair of dungarees, then inspection in the other pair. After breakfast, close order drill and miles of route march. You get the idea.

Call me crazy, but I loved it form the first day. Many did, actually. Of course I was raised on military bases, by an officer who had served first in the enlisted ranks. A significant number found it difficult; hated it, but learned to cope and made it through. Once in a while someone broke; could not handle it; wimped out. That was a very rare event and shocked us all.

The other day I read this, written by a career soldier in today’s Army.

The United States, IMO. has declined politically, institutionally, morally, and ethically with a rapidity that is hard to find mirrored in history. … So few Americans are willing to serve in the armed forces that "thank you for your service" has become even more of a mockery than it was before 9/11. The suicide rate is high in the armed forces? Consider that many of those who have not served in combat are the people who kill themselves. Consider that over half of the reported sexual assaults in the armed forces are of men on men. What sort of children are you raising?

Not only are 50% of those willing to join as enlisted soldiers inferior physical specimens but they are often weaklings in spirit as well who cannot bear the discipline of military life. Pathetic.

Food for thought, I think, food for thought.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Think Filner Is Toast

Today is the first full day for gathering signatures to recall Mayor Bob Filner, and there was a waiting line at my local grocery store to sign the petition. The only people who were not signing were declining by saying "I already signed it," or "My husband is circulating a petition on Adams Avenue." The atmosphere was rather festive, actually, sort of turning the Albertson's parking lot into a Filner petition signing party.

I don't think there is going to be any problem getting the required 109,000 102,000 signatures.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Paul Krugman Again

Paul Krugman has two posts today, on two different subjects, which prove that he really should stick to economics. He may or may not know anything about economics, but at least he has received an education on that subject and doesn’t make a total fool of himself.

In one article he discusses the benefits of electrification, describes a typical factory before electricity came along as being a “multistory building with narrow aisles” which allowed machinery to be driven with shafts and pulleys. Fine so far, but then he says that the “big payoff” of going to electricity was “let you shift to a one-story, spread-out layout with wide aisles and easy materials handling.”

Well, no. That was an advantage, of course, but not really a major one and offset by having to move the material longer distances. The “big payoff” was to be able to deliver a great deal more power to each of the machines; orders of magnitude more power that was more easily controlled.

In the very next piece he discusses tomato canning, which he says, “produces a pretty good product.” So, in addition to being exquisitely ignorant on the subject of mechanical engineering, he has no palate either. Canned tomatoes are not fit to eat. Even canned tomato sauce requires a great deal of massaging to make it palatable, but nothing can make canned tomatoes fit for human consumption.

Well, okay, chop them in small pieces and them bury a smallish quantity in a sufficiently large dish and they are marginally useful. But even then they are nothing more than useful and cannot reasonably be considered a “pretty good product.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Whose Side Are We On?

Been busy this week due to five medical appointments in three days. Nothing wrong, just the normal process of advancing age happening to coalesce inconveniently. I did find out yesterday that at some point more than two years ago but less than eight years I had a significant heart attack, which came as a bit of a surprise. I see the cardiologist again the end of next month and will find out more about that.

He says I appear to be at “no significant risk of another one,” which is comforting, but then I was not at any significant risk of that one either, so Doctors are not always clear in their explanations. Whatever.

Anyway, I watched CBS Evening News the night that the Egyptian Army cracked down on the Morsi supporters and, while certainly there was nothing amusing about the events of that day, and nothing unexpected either, I had to be amused at the efforts by CBS to paint the Muslim Brotherhood as “the good guys” in this national tragedy.

They had three different “reporters,” who I would label more as “elocuters” or “emoters” than reporters, and as each one of them spoke emoted they replayed the same set of film clips of Morsi supporters being gunned down, being carried on bloody stretchers and having name tags placed on their dead bodies. They spoke of “bloodbath” and “brutal attacks,” and showed Morsi supporters “valiantly defending themselves” with rocks and sticks.

They didn’t show the Morsi supporters using AK-47s to kill 50 policemen, nor did they show them attacking and burning Copt Christian churches and killing people sheltering there. They didn’t elaborate on the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Morsi government, nor did they describe the extent to which the Morsi government was promoting an Islamic theocracy.

Nor did they mention that the United States was, at that point scheduling joint military exercises with the Egyptian Army, which have since been cancelled, or that we are providing the military government with $1.5 billion in financial support, which we are continuing to do.

John Kerry, meanwhile is urging the Muslim Brotherhood to avoid violence. He seems not to have noticed what the Egyptian Army is doing. There is a lot that John Kerry doesn’t notice. John Kerry holds several international records for not noticing. John Kerry's world view is so lofty that he would not notice if you pissed on his shoes.

He also says that “Violence never solved anything,” which is sort of mind boggling coming from any American official. Tell that to the people of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen I guess it depends on your definition of “solved.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kudos To The FBI

I poke sarcasm at the FBI regarding some of their little “stings” where they persuade idiots to plant bombs, sell them play dough, and then parade them as masterminds of terror, but I have to give them credit for the manner in which they handled the abduction and hostage case this past week.

They deployed the Amber Alert system in multiple states, used media publicity in a professional and constructive manner, and when they got the tip they moved swiftly and accurately and resolved the issue every bit as perfectly as any of us could have hoped. This was the FBI the way we want them to be. Well done.

And, they even rescued the cat.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Small Worries

Like everyone else I was grateful to hear that Hanna was rescued alive and unharmed, or at least not injured. I have to admit that I have some small satisfaction that DiMaggio was killed; apparently he wanted to happen, and these long drawn out trials can make things even worse for the family.

One little thing nags at me. I keep telling myself it's trivial, but I can't shake it off. It's reported that DiMaggio had taken a gray cat with him into the Idaho wilderness and no one is saying what happened to the cat. The poor thing is not equipped to survive in that wilderness, particularly not in winter, and I wonder if anyone rescued the cat.

Update, Tuesday evening, The cat was rescued by the FBI: The feline was found Sunday morning by an FBI SWAT team securing the crime scene, according to U-T San Diego. “He rode out at shift change with the team to safety,” FBI Special Agent Jason Pack said of the pet. He was returned to 16-year-old Hannah on Sunday.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Suspicion

From the New York Times, August 8, 2013, “Since July 27, drone attacks have killed 34 suspected militants.” (emphasis mine)

Suppose I get pissed off at my neighbor for something and call the police, telling them that I overheard him planning to rob a bank and kill the bank guards. The police respond by coming in the middle of the night with guns and rockets and blowing up his house, killing him and his entire family. They don’t try to arrest him, call on him to surrender or even announce their presence; they just blow up his house and kill everyone in it.

That would be okay, right? He is, after all, suspected of being a bank robber and a killer based on my accusation. I would be wrong for making the false accusation, but the police would be correct in their response. Right?

You’re shaking your head and saying that I am utterly insane, and yet you feel okay with your country firing Hellfire missiles and killing suspected militants; men, women and children whose names we do not even know.

If you live in this country there is an elaborate process that must be followed to prove that you actually did something wrong before you can even be imprisoned, but if you live in a Muslim country we can kill you based merely on the suspicion that you might be thinking of planning to do something someday in the future that might be wrong. We can, in a word, kill you merely for not liking us; and we do.

We don’t even bother to hide it. We brag about it.

If you live in a Muslim country and you don’t like us, you better keep quiet about us, because if you advertise that you don’t like us there is a pretty good chance that a Hellfire missile will come down on you and blow you into little pieces. And when we announce that we killed you, we will not even say your name.

It’s hard to describe how angry I become every time I read that the nation whose uniform I once wore with pride is killing suspected militants; that we are killing people without even knowing that they are our enemies; that we are killing them because we can kill them without any risk; that we are killing them merely because it is easy and inexpensive to do so.

It makes me angry and it makes me want to weep.

Filner Update

It appears that Filner has finished his inpatient sexual attitude treatment, a week ahead of schedule. It is being claimed that he started it a week early and completed the two weeks that he said he was going to undertake, but that is crap. That would mean he left town in July, and he clearly did nothing of the sort. He cut the treatment short.

While he was out of town the last two City Council members turned against him, so the Council is now unanimous in demanding that he resign. The locks on his office were changed while he was away, and the City Attorney says that he doesn’t know why that was done but that he has no problem with it. Given the relationship between Goldsmith and Filner, that comes as no surprise.

Labor union leadership is about the only support remaining in his camp, saying that the mayor is entitled to due process and should not resign. They may be out of touch with how their rank and file members feel.

Filner is “taking some personal time,” which is understandable but hardly constructive under the circunstances. The shit through which he is wading is getting deeper by the day, and remaining in the proverbial “undisclosed location” is not doing much to lower the level.

I particularly like the bit about changing the locks on his office.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Missing The Point

There was an article in the U-T San Diego the other day about California revenue, which said that sales tax revenue had dropped because people were spending more on services and non-taxable items and were spending less on items which are subject to sales tax. I think the writer missed the point, and the Editorial Board compounded the missed point today. Our local paper continues to set records for obtuseness.

Their idea seems to be that consumer thinking goes, “I’m trying to decide between groceries and a new electric drill. I think I’ll buy the groceries, because the electric drill is subject to sales tax.” Most people choose the groceries because they are what is called a “necessity,” which is why they are not subject to sales tax. The new electric drill is an optional purchase, which is why California subjects it to sales tax. That is the principle which prevents sales taxes from being entirely regressive.

People are not buying fewer taxable items because they are taxable. They are buying fewer taxable items because they are optional purchases and the economy sucks. Raising taxes is not going to help the economy and cause people to buy more, thereby increasing California revenue.

What will increase revenue is creating more jobs, and in particular more jobs that pay better wages. We could start that process by electing legislators who have something inside their skulls other than sawdust.

Finding media with brains is, however, something beyond our power.

All Things Are Relative

Time is actually around, believe it or not, and displays another example of its irrelevance yesterday with an article applauding Obama for canceling a visit with Putin prior to the G20 summit meeting next month. They are highly pleased that Obama worked up the courage to kick Putin in the gonads, or at slap him in the face, or whatever it is that this cancellation represents.

Reading between the lines, I’m thinking that the Russians were a lot less impressed by the cancellation than Time was. The Russian media barely mentioned it in passing, while American media has been hyperventilating about it for days. Of course, Russians don’t think our president is quite as overwhelmingly important as we do.

“The actual news — that Obama had decided not to meet with his Russian counterpart before, after or during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next month — was clearly not something the official spin doctors wanted to advertise,” according to the Time piece.

Or, perhaps, they simply didn’t think it mattered all that much.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Sometimes We Need A Reminder

Watching an episode of “Chopped” today, one of the contestants was a young woman whose parents brought her to this country from the Ukraine when she was a young child, escaping from a collapsing Soviet Union. When asked why she was competing today she started by saying, “I want to show my parents that my success is worthy of their struggle.”

She went on to say that her parents had been esteemed professionals in the Ukraine and, like many refugees, had been reduced to working as menial laborers in this country. As she grew up she watched them rebuild their lives and regain professions worthy of their educations and experience again, after years of hard work and patience. “It is the story of their lives,” she said, “that motivates me.”

How can you not be inspired by such a person?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Irrational Discourse

I don’t hold a lot of truck with today’s Republican Party but, as those who read my work regularly know, I don’t spend waste any of my time and energy bashing them either. I have not voted for any of them lately, do not consider myself part of them, and I don’t think I bear any responsibility for whatever power they hold in governance.

I do pay attention to the policies and actions of Democrats because that’s how I have been voting until recently, I helped put them in office, and I am in part responsible for them being in office. To a large degree, I regret that.

Most Democrats do not focus on what their party is doing, but spend an enormous amount of energy declaiming on the evils of the opposition; writing at great length about not only how evil Republicans are, but about how crazy they are, how little contact they have with reality and what a total disaster it will be for the nation if they were to achieve a position of power.

Republicans may not be entirely rational, but Democrats have become utterly insane on the subject of how evil and insane Republicans are. I think that many of them may actually believe that Republicans invented AIDS and the Bubonic Plague. Paul Krugman actually wrote recently that “the madness of the GOP is the central issue of our time.”

Really? It’s not Republicans who are telling us that we are fighting in Afghanistan in order to “deny them space in which to plan their attacks.” It’s not a Republican administration which is executing American citizens without due process of law and defending their actions in court by claiming that executive review is “due process.”

Several writers have claimed that the current closing of embassies is a political ploy to distract the public from recent disclosures of the Democratic administration’s violations of our constitution, but Juan Cole at Informed Comment claims today that the blame for this alarm actually lies with the Republican Party.

After condemning the embassy closures as being harmful both to this nations image and its mission, which I think he exaggerates rather significantly, he then says that, “…the GOP is inadvertently pushing the US into a posture of dangerous diplomatic weakness.” The weakness is displayed, he claims, by the “unprecedented closing of 21 US embassies in the Middle East,” reportedly due to a “vague terrorist threat.”

“The Obama administration most likely took this weird step to insulate itself from any further witch hunts of the sort the Republicans launched over the tragic attack on a CIA safe house doubling as a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2011.”

That’s an interesting piece of mind reading, but how he can say this and think that he is insulting Republicans rather than describing a craven and utterly feckless Democratic administration escapes me. This, though, is the sort of thing that Democrats do these days. Whatever the government does, it’s the fault of Republicans, and they don’t even think about the words that are coming out of their mouths.

First, it’s the Democratic administration that shut down the embassies due to a “vague terrorist threat,” not the Republicans and, second, if they did it out of fear of what their opposition might do, then that is an act of almost unbelievable cowardice on the part of Cole’s precious Democratic administration. Does he not get that?

Cole says that he “can’t rule out” that the Obama is “playing that kind of politics,” that is to say that the embassy closings are being used as a distraction from the administration’s abrogation of the fourth amendment to the constitution, but he closes with his conclusion that “I think the story is a different and sadder one.”

“The Republican Party is now so Raptor-like that it is preventing an entire Department, the one first headed by Thomas Jefferson, from doing its job at a time of turmoil and danger in a strategic part of the world.”

If Eisenhower had reacted to the German army the way that Juan Cole thinks that Obama is reacting to the Republican Party, we would never have invaded Europe and would have lost World War Two. Cole’s assessment is a remarkable and utterly riduculous insult to the Obama administration and is about the silliest thing that I have read in a long time.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Oops, I Missed That

From the comments at Sic Semper Tyrannis, a thoughtful person points out something that I had missed completely:

Today we have an unspecified worldwide terror alert...right after the NSA had to appear before Congress to justify their snooping on Americans. No one in the media seems to have wondered if those dots connect.

Well, duh, of course those dots connect. How did I not notice that?

Another comment in the same thread compares this nation and its reaction to 9/11 to Moby Dick, in which Ahab is so blinded by his desire for revenge on the white whale that he sinks his ship and is himself killed in his irrational crusade to extract revenge. The white whale, of course, survives. Read it yourself, it's the second comment in the thread and is written by "mbrenner," whose comments are always worth reading.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Threat Matrix

We have been “killing our way to safety” for more than four years under Barack Obama’s program of using unmanned drones to “cut off the head” of terrorist organizations. We have killed the “number two man” in Al Queda so many times that I have lost count. We killed Osama bin Laden and then, later, the “number one man” who replaced him. We have been killing terrorists using unmanned drones in half a dozen nations in the Middle East and North Africa with whom we are not at war for half a decade.

According to President Obama the program is working. He has told us that we “have Al Queda on the run,” and that in Afghanistan we are “denying them space in which to plan their attacks.” He tells us that Al Queda is “decimated” and has been reduced “to a remnant.” He says, in effect, that we are winning the war on terror.

Then why are we closing embassies and issuing travel warnings, saying that a large portion of the planet has become unsafe for Americans to travel because of an Al Queda threat? We are still in Afghanistan “denying them space in which to plan their attacks,” so apparently they can plan attacks in places other than Afghanistan. Who could have imagined that? We’ve killed all of their leaders, several times in fact, so apparently they’ve come up with new leaders. Jeez, how did they do that?

Keeping America safe, baby, keeping America safe.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Priorities

President Obama took office with the worst recession since 1929 and a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party for two years. After hastily passing an anemic “stimulus bill” that was half tax cuts, he wasted the rest of those two years passing a “health care reform” policy which is not yet in effect four years later.

Meanwhile, employment participation which was at 63% before the recession and fell to 58% as a result of the recession is still at 58% today. The stock market, on the other hand, has not only recovered all of its lost value, it has soared to a level 50% higher than before the recession.

This fully reflects the priorities of the Obama administration.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

More Filner Saga

This Filner creature is a real piece of work. His latest thing is to claim that his woes regarding sexual harassment are the City's fault because they did not provide the sexual harassment training that city policy requires all city employees to receive within three months of being hired. That is to say that he’s been groping women because the city did not teach him, at age 70, not to do it.

I was stomping around the house mumbling obscenities last night, and my wife kept going all therapist on me and saying that Filner’s lawyer was just trying to establish a technicality defense, but even as a “legal technicality” this is nonsensical. That’s like a fifty-year-old man shooting his parents dead and then expecting mercy from the judge because he’s an orphan. The law may famously be “an ass,” but it’s not stupid.

Filner is stupid, though, or he is psychotically out of touch with reality, because he continues to insist that he is going to stay in office and be “an effective and constructive leader” for the next three years plus, despite his personality flaws and mounting evidence of a culture of corruption and abuse of power that has pervaded San Diego City Hall since he took office. And the guy is a Democrat.

The FBI is investigating him for two instances of extortion. In one case he vetoed building permits until contributions amounting to $100,000 were made to Filner’s pet projects, at which point he removed the veto. When the action was made public he gave the money back, because returning the money makes bank robbery no longer a criminal act. The FBI was unimpressed with the return of the money and is still investigating the extortion and in any case, if the money was donated to causes other than Bob Filner, how can he return the money?

In another case he halted construction on a building already under construction, something that it is unclear he actually has the authority to do. After the builder contributed unknown amounts to projects favored by Filner he allowed construction to resume. No evidence he gave that money back, and the FBI is investigating.

Shortly after taking office he and his fiancĂ© took a two-week trip to Paris, France. He claimed that the trip had to do with jobs in San Diego, but was not able to explain the connection. He then said that didn’t matter because the city had not paid for any portion of the trip. When asked who had paid for it, he said it was a charitable organization which he could not name because he could not remember the precise name.

City officers are not allowed to receive gifts unless they are from non-profit organizations, which I happen to think is a rather silly rule; non-profits are just as likely to seek political favor as are profits. But that’s the rule.

We finally find out the name of the Iranian organization that paid for the trip, but we also find out that the city did pay for the security that accompanied Filner on the trip, and we find out that two city staff members had their city credit card limits raised from the usual $10,000 per month to $30,000 per month in connection with that trip. No one is able to find out why that increase was made, how the credit cards were used and why, or how much taxpayer money was actually expended for that trip.

Now it turns out the organization that paid for the trip is not actually a properly registered non-profit organization after all, so Bob Filner is paying them back for what they spent on the trip because returning the money makes bank robbery no longer a criminal act.

Then there’s the closed City Council meeting where he called an African American Assistant City Attorney “boy,” told him to sit in the back of the room, and finally had the police eject him from the meeting, another instance where it is unclear that he was acting within his authority.

Not to mention that two petitions have formally been filed to recall him from office, and polls say that 70% of the public wants him removed from office. Filner, however, is not leaving willingly. Whatever actions he may be capable of, a graceful exit would not be one of them.