Saturday, October 31, 2009
Reid, Pelosi and the prez?...
In a tribute to this special night of scariness, I bring you the following:
He just can’t stop trying to scare people: Al Gore, whose very name evokes memories of old monster movies, is at it again. Over at The American Thinker, Al’s latest predictions have some light put on them. ““The North Pole ice cap is 40 percent gone already and could be completely and totally gone in the winter months in the next 5 to 10 years,” he writes. Such thaw, cautioned Gore, “could increase sea levels by 67 metres” and that “each one metre of sea level rise (SLR) is associated with 100 million climate refugees in the world.” That’s up a full 47 meters from the already horrifying predictions he’s made previously.” Needless to say, even scientists who have sided with him on some global warming issues are backing off this…way off.
Free speech for me but not for thee?
Don’t say boo! – So we’ve got an administration attacking Fox News, attacking Edmunds (the automotive analysts for their take on “Cash for Clunkers”) and – earlier in October, Hillary Clinton's “State Department joined Islamic nations in adopting language all-too-friendly to censoring speech that some religions and races find offensive.” And if you read what some administration officials, you’ve got to wonder what the future state of free speech in this country will be.
Scary tax news from Sacramento: According to the Los Angeles Times, “California to withhold a bigger chunk of paychecks - The amount goes up 10 percent on Sunday as Sacramento borrows from taxpayers. Technically, it's not an income tax increase: You'll get the money back eventually.”
Was Gavin biting off more than he could chew?
Speaking of California: And then there was one – at least in the Democrats’ gubernatorial race. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has dropped out of the contest, leaving the Democratic pickings to former governor/former Oakland mayor/current state attorney general Jerry Brown.
Time to recycle your ‘70s jokes?
Add Jerry Brown: One of Brown’s aide’s was “put on leave” after it was learned he’d been secretly recording phone calls with the media. Prediction – this is not over yet.
He saw it coming...
Scary prospects (accompanying future nationalized health care)? – According to syndicated columnist Steve Chapman, take a look at Medicare if you want to see that future. “If Medicare were a bank, federal regulators would be closing its doors, selling its operations and sacking its managers,” he writes. “Thanks to soaring costs, the program is fast running out of money -- even though it pays such low fees that many doctors refuse to take Medicare patients. Meanwhile, Medicare fraud costs taxpayers some $60 billion a year, according to a report by CBS's '60 Minutes,' making it among the most profitable fields for felons."
And like a ghost, she’s gone: The Politico’s THE SCORECARD reports, “Republican Dede Scozzafava has suspended her bid in next Tuesday’s NY 23 special election, a huge development that dramatically shakes up the race. She did not endorse either of her two opponents -- Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman or Democrat Bill Owens. The decision to suspend her campaign is a boost for Hoffman, who already had the support of 50 percent of GOP voters, according to a newly-released Siena poll, and is now well-positioned to win over the 25 percent of Republicans who had been sticking with Scozzafava.” This, by the way, coupled with a probable GOP win in the Virginia gubernatorial race – and a possible GOP upset in the New Jersey governor’s race ( Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie are running nearly even) – could be an early warning sign of troubles to come for President Barack Obama and the Democrats.
Burn, baby, burn...
Add scary New York story: Yankees win Game 3 of the World Series, going up 2-1 on the Phillies.
Friday, October 30, 2009
That rise in the Gross Domestic Product might be a “mirage.” How so? “If a scientist or engineer is laid off, does it affect gross domestic product? The third-quarter GDP figures, released on Oct. 29, showed the economy growing at a 3.5% annual pace, breaking a string of four consecutive negative quarters. The growth was driven mostly by a surge in the production of motor vehicles and other manufactured goods. This number was greeted by many economists and journalists as confirmations that the recession is over. What's more, the rise in real GDP, combined with a sharp fall in employment in the third quarter, implies that productivity also soared during the period. Good news, right?” Not so fast.
Cut back on your future at your own risk...
Add GDP Mirage: As friend, blogger and political pundit Russ Snyder put it so well, “Add It's a truism in business that when times are tough, you cut back on coffee and toilet paper, but not on R&D. That's your seed corn. When Apple Computer was on the ropes in the early 1990s (and their stock was around $25), the cut everything BUT R&D, which they INCREASED. Now we have the iPod, iPhone and who-knows-what-else in the pipeline. Companies that were probably going to fail anyway may be cutting R&D, but not the smart ones.”
Yeah, they must be building bridges...
“Last week alone, more Californians filed for jobless benefits for the first time than the number of jobs created by the “stimulus” since it passed nearly nine months ago. The Golden State had largest increase in claims for benefits (of any state) with 5,774 citizens asking for government help after being laid off (H/t Instapundit).
“According to recovery.gov, the “so-called stimulus” created (or saved) 2,260 jobs in the Golden State since the President signed the bill in February. At that time, the Golden State’s junior Senator, Barbara Boxer, heralded Senate passage of the legislation, promising it would ‘put Californians to work. This bill will put Californians to work now building the highways, bridges, transit and rail systems, and renewable energy sources of the 21st century.”
The data show layoffs “in the construction, services and agricultural industries.” So, maybe 2,260 Californians are building bridges for the state. 5,774 fewer are building other things (or otherwise engaging in productive and remunerative activities -H/t for this entire section Gay Patriot.)
Overstating the obvious...
An early progress report on President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports
Maybe they know something...
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, “public option premiums will be higher than private plans.” The story goes on to say, “The public insurance option would typically charge higher premiums than private plans available in the exchange, according to the CBO analysis of the House bill. That surprising conclusion raises doubts about Democratic promises that a government-run insurance plan would provide a lower-cost alternative to consumers. At the same time, it calls into question Republican charges that the plan amounts to government takeover of health insurance -- because only 6 million people would enroll in the plan, according to the CBO.”
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
And no wonder…
It’s the economy, Mr. President…
What recovery? Did I say “93,784 foreclosures?” I guess I forgot the zero. There were 937,840 foreclosures in Q3 in the US, according to RealtyTrac, the highest quarterly level since they starting issuing reports in 2005.
This gives a whole new meaning to “Escape from New York.”
From the “It doesn’t matter how much you dress things up” Dept (below):
Even the alternative, typically “Left” news media is speaking up: Over at Gawker.com - “Dear White House Flickr Feed: Enough With the Hagiography. Thanks.- At left is President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on October 20. At right are Robert Kennedy (standing) and John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office in April 1962. White House photographer Pete Souza likes Obama too much.
So what’s being done to earn the halo?
Shades of the Lincoln Bedroom scandal during the Clinton White House years?
Bailout news: The auto finance giant GMAC is talking with Treasury in the hopes of getting a third handout from taxpayers. It’s said to be somewhere in the neighborhood of between $2.8 billion and $5.6 billion. We taxpayers, who have already fronted GMAC $12.5 billion, already “owns” more than a third of the lender.
I guess it’s OK so long as it isn’t George W. Bush doing it…
I guess it’s OK so long as it isn’t a white male writing it…
With stuff like that, it’s no wonder the nation’s formerly leading paper is tanking…
Speaking of newspapers tanking: According to mediabistro.com’s “Revolving Door” e-newsletter, “Daily newspaper circulation plummets another 10 percent, down to less than 30.5 million. That would be pre-World War II levels, in case you're scoring at home. Sunday circ fared slightly better, but is still off more than seven percent from a year ago. The biggest loser: the San Francisco Chronicle, which falls more than 25 percent, while the New Jersey Star-Ledger loses almost a quarter of its readers, as well. Virtually every major paper except for The Wall Street Journal had a decreased circulation.”
Last add newspapers: A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation Over the Last Two Decades – “Every six months, the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases data about newspapers and how many people subscribe to them. And then everyone writes a story about how some newspapers declined some amount over the year previous. Well, that's no way to look at data! It's confusing—and it obscures larger trends. So we've taken chunks of data for the major newspapers, going back to 1990, and graphed it, so you can see what's actually happened to newspaper circulation. (We excluded USA Today, because we don't care about it. If you're in a hotel? You're reading it now. That's nice.) Some surprising trends: the New York Post has the same circulation it had two decades ago! Also, the once-captivating battle of the New York City tabloids has become completely moot. Some unsurprising trends: the Los Angeles Times is an absolute horrorshow. Not shown: the Boston Globe disappearing off the bottom of this chart, in a two decade decline from 521,000 in 1990 to 264,105 this year.”
More bad news (for the White House in its battle against Fox News): From the Baltimore Sun - “The White House keeps up its attack on Fox News as biased in this video with Valerie Jarrett, another senior adviser to President Obama making the claim. But watch how fast Jarrett folds when CNN anchor Campbell Brown asks her if pro-administration MSNBC isn't just as biased. MSNBC is one of the giant holes in the administration's argument that Fox isn't a "real" news organization and should be ostracized. Worse, the administration's acceptance of MSNBC and attack on Fox show how intellectually inconsistent and hypocritical the White House is willing to be in trying to bully the press and shut down criticism. Here's the video.
Bad news for big states: A potentially big loss on a number of fronts - “Republican senator’s proposal to count only United States citizens when reapportioning Congress would cost California five seats and New York and Illinois one each, according to an independent analysis of census data released Tuesday. Texas, which is projected to gain three seats after the 2010 census, would get only one. “
Finally: It’s not news -Proof that Michael Moore is a “big, fat liar” – “Fat propagandist Michael Moore told Jimmy Kimmel that he consumed tequila with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at 2 AM. Socialists are furious! In Moore's story—which, we remind you again, was an amusing anecdote delivered on a late-night comedy talk show program—he went to Chavez's hotel room to ask him to please quiet down and ended up partying with him all night. They consumed a bottle and a half of tequila. And the punchline was that Chavez's speech to the UN was made up mostly of things Moore said to him, while drunk. Now. According to the public record, Chavez and Moore met in Venice for three hours during the day. And also Chavez is a teetotaler.” There’s someone who’s responsible for dumbing everyone down.
Here's the remainder of my clips from U2's stop in Las Vegas last Friday...
"City of Blinding Lights"
"No Line on the Horizon"
"Where the Streets Have No Name"
"Sunday, Bloody Sunday"
"The Unforgettable Fire"
"Where the Streets Have No Name" pt. 2
"Viva Las Vegas"
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It can be beautiful - and dangerous...
Let’s start this edition of The Bliss Index© off with some breaking news: Bay Bridge closed after repair falls apart. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Three pieces of an emergency repair to the Bay Bridge's cantilever section made over Labor Day weekend snapped and crashed onto the upper deck of the span late Tuesday afternoon, striking three vehicles and forcing the indefinite closure of the region's busiest bridge.” Trust me; two things are going to come from this: 1.) a massive traffic tie-up throughout the region until repairs are complete; and, 2.) closer scrutiny of the bridge and ongoing seismic retrofitting.
Add California news: How California's New Water Laws Inform the Coming National Crisis -
“California has its share of problems these days; the state carries billions of dollars in debt, drug cartels have made their way in from Mexico and the wild fire season came and went with great force. As if the governor didn't have enough on his plate, California is also in the midst of one of the biggest water crises this nation has ever seen. Farmers and fishing communities, businesses and a growing population are locked in a battle over water rights—scrambling for what has become a dwindling resource. To stop the problem, a task force has studied the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta for two years and came up with dozens of proposals to alleviate the water crisis. Here are six of the most prescient proposed items—problems and solutions that may be coming to a local assembly (or a courthouse) near you.”
When it comes to Those In Power™, it’s always a good idea to look at where they got their ideas from. Upon review, it appears the Party In Power® has an interesting foundation. The Fabians, founded in England in 1887, had a different kind of approach when it came to revolution – do it gradually.
In the article, “A Fabian Socialist Dream Come True,” Stuart Chase’s 1942 book - "The Road We Are Traveling" - is cited for its explanation of the system of planning the Fabians had in mind (when it came to changing the face of our society); the interesting thing is to look at that plan in comparison to 2008 America. These steps – mind you, written down in 1942, include:
1. Strong, centralized government.
2. Powerful Executive at the expense of Congress and the Judicial.
3. Government controlled banking, credit and securities exchange.
4. Government control over employment.
5. Unemployment insurance, old age pensions.
6. Universal medical care, food and housing programs.
7. Access to unlimited government borrowing.
8. A managed monetary system.
9. Government control over foreign trade.
10. Government control over natural energy sources, transportation and agricultural production.
11. Government regulation of labor.
12. Youth camps devoted to health discipline, community service and ideological teaching consistent with those of the authorities.
13. Heavy progressive taxation.
American Samoa in the wake of a deadly tsunami...
Speaking of government and money…and stuff: “An investigation shows that federal grants to Samoa to build a tsunami warning system were instead used for things like flat screen TV's and trips to Vegas.” If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be another laughable example of bureaucracy (not) at work. h/t: Fark.com
The Hon. Barney Frank - at your service?
More speaking of government: Barney Frank (D-Masshole): Democrats are "trying on every front to increase the role of government."
Add Barney: the Congressman blasted also-ran/nutjob Ralph Nader recently, saying, "Ralph gets to luxuriate in the purity of his irrelevance." These guys are guarding the hen house, er, nation’s money. Good luck with that!
Finally: So the Balloon Boy hoax is…a hoax?
Monday, October 26, 2009
They've fallen and they can't get up...
CNN, which invented the cable news network more than two decades ago, will hit a new competitive low with its prime-time programs in October, finishing fourth – and last – among the cable news networks with the audience that all the networks rely on for their advertising.
Oscar-winner/former Scientology “showpiece” tells his former co-Xenuites, so long.
Legends of the Fall, Part deux?
Why is this man smiling?
Biden's popularity plunges; lower than Cheney's:Vice President Joe Biden's favorable rating has fallen to 42 percent in a new Gallup poll, down from a high of 59 percent just after last year's election. Biden's unfavorable rating in the new poll is 40 percent, up from 29 percent last November. (Eighteen percent of those surveyed say they have no opinion of Biden.)
The ink-on-pulp industry continues its death spiral.
(h/t: National Review Online’s “The Corner”)
October 26, 2009
The band, with Donald Fagen on keys...
Steely Dan: a 13-person operation...
The band played the landmark "Aja" in almost its entirety...
Internet request night at the Masonic...
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The massive stage/set...
Amazing. Simply amazing.
Where? - the University of Nevada Las Vegas' Sam Boyd football stadium (located on the outskirts of Las Vegas).
When? - Last night, Oct. 23, 2009.
Who? - U2 (and about 40,000 of the band's closest friends...plus the 42nd president of the United States).
What? - the 360˚ world tour.
Bono, on video, over his minions...
In the middle of the desert, outside of a neon-lit town built upon vice, they built a cathedral and held a church service. More than 40,000 people crowded into the worship space and listened to homily after sweet homily; rode the highs and lows of every emotion; and when it was all over they begged for more.
U2, the ubiquitous rock icons, brought it's latest world tour - in support of its latest album, "No Line on the Horizon," to Vegas for another of its patented arena concerts that have become such productions - literally and figuratively - that there has never been another act in the modern era that performs at the level they do.
For this tour, the band exceeded any expectations by bringing a set to stadiums so large, imposing, versatile and mind-bending that it almost defies any attempts to describe it. So let's try...the stage spans the width of a football field; as with previous tours, it includes "runways" that extend out to and encircle parts of the floor audience; there are bridges (which can be slid) reaching out from the main stage to the runways and the stage is open on all sides (hence, just part of the tour's "360˚" title).
But the most impressive aspects of the set/stage is the massive structure that resembles some sort of creature with four arms (think an upside-down octopus), which rises from the set's four corners and overhangs the stage. From the structure hangs speakers and lights, and in the middle of the structure is a multi-story tower that holds lights, speakers and smoke machines. And surrounding/hung from the bottom of the needle is a giant 360˚ video screen (Bono called it a video "carousel") that not only provided stunning video coverage and effects, but also was an effect all to itself at times - it can lower, rise and even break apart into literally hundreds of separate video screens.
(Accompanying this post, you will see several photos I snapped from my seat that provide an idea of what the staging encompassed.)
Oh, yeah...I almost forgot to mention - there was music played. It wasn't just about eye candy.
Kicking off the night with "Breathe" from their newest album, the band (Bono, vocals and rhythm guitar; The Edge, guitar, keyboards, and vocals; Adam Clayton, bass guitar; and Larry Mullen, Jr., drums and percussion) seemed determined to enjoy the staging but not to let it overshadow their sonic offerings.
They needn't have worried.
Showing they weren't afraid to sail into uncharted waters from the beginning, U2 kicked the concert off with two other powerful, new numbers along"Breathe" - "Get On Your Boots" and "Magnificent" (the last of which is destined to become another in the long list of the band's concert "hymns"). It was a bold move but the adoring crowd had already been swept up by the typical pre-show anticipation and hype, not to mention the sight of the massive set inside the stadium. The band was in high gear from the get-go and notched it up from there throughout the show.
The rest of the show included "Mysterious Ways," "Beautiful Day" - "In God's Country" - "Fix You," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - "Viva Las Vegas," "Stuck In A Moment," "No Line On The Horizon, Elevation," "In A Little While," "Unknown Caller," "Until the End of the World," "The Unforgettable Fire," "City of Blinding Lights," Vertigo" - "All These Things That I've Done," "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight," "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," "MLK (Martin Luther King)," and "Walk On" - "You'll Never Walk Alone." The encore list included "One," "Amazing Grace," "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Ultraviolet," "With or Without You," and "Moment of Surrender."
It was a typical U2 concert and it wasn't. It was because it included many favorites (not hard with such a sizable/meaningful catalog); the crowd sang backing vocals; and appeals were made for various human rights causes. It wasn't the same and the staging was the proof.
The association between U2 concerts and spiritual experiences is nothing new - Bono has said as much during previous shows. But the band has stepped beyond that now. It has become so big, so significant, that even a typically large rock concert stage can't accommodate (certainly not contain) it. And while the structure had a "sci-fi creature on steroids" look to it as more than one person said, it had a very real feel of a medieval cathedral: massive arches, a spire, an altar, etc.
In describing the architectural significance of a cathedral, experts say they are "frequently the most imposing building, and one of the most ancient buildings in its town. The great size and splendour of the cathedral may be out of all proportion to the town itself. The money and talents expended on the building are seen as honouring God, and may also demonstrate both the devotion and the status of the patrons."
Hard to escape the parallels.
But as any devotee will tell you, the church might be beautiful on the outside but it's what's inside that's beautified.
In the case of last night's show, the temple out on the desert town's edge was impressive but it was what was going on inside that counted.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I'll spill the beans on it and throw in some additional media in a coming post, but it's late and this is all I have time for.
Good night, boyos!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Lord Christopher Monckton explains climatology.
A couple of key excerpts of concern:
- Page 18: Section 38 of the "Share vision for long-term cooperation action plan" contains the text for forming the new government.
- Page 44-45: Section 46 "Objectives, scope, and guiding principles" contains the text for enforcement and establishment of the rule of law.
These folks are deciding your future...for you.For what it’s worth, there has been considerable debate raised about Monckton's conclusion that the Copenhagen Treaty would cede U.S. sovereignty. His comments appear to be based upon his interpretation of the The Supremacy Clause in the U.S .Constitution (Article VI, paragraph 2). This clause establishes the Constitution, Federal Statutes, and U.S. treaties as the supreme law of the land. Concerns have been raised in the past that a particularly ambitious treaty may supersede the U.S. Constitution. In the 1950s, an amendment, known as the Bricker Amendment, was proposed in response to such fears, but it failed to pass.
Monckton served as a policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher. He has repeatedly challenged former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore to a debate to which Gore has refused. Monckton sued to stop Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" from being shown in British schools due to its inaccuracies. The judge found in-favor of Monckton, ordering nice serious errors in the film to be corrected. Monckton travels internationally in an attempt to educating the public about global warming.
Facts and figures...
(hat tip throughout: YouTube)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
A man on a horse...
Whoever thought the last elections would usher in a new era of civility, politeness and generally cordial relations ‘tween one and all was sadly mistaken.
We haven’t even completed our first year of Hope (fulfillment) & Change (can you spare some?) and we’re at each others throats like the next election is tomorrow. We can be comforted knowing that Americans have always gone toe-to-toe with each other over political, cultural and other subject matter – great and small. It’s just that today’s 24/7 news cycle, the speed and immediacy of the Internet, talk radio, cable TV and a host of other venues make the discourse seem louder/ruder than ever.
Over the course of the last week, we’ve seen the relationship between the White House and Fox News go from worse to “down the rabbit hole.”
Do the hustle...
Meanwhile, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh continues to – depending on your political views – lick his wounds from the NFL’s cold shoulder/make hay out of being pushed aside because of pressures exerted by people like the race-hustling Reverends Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Al Sharpton. Sure, he doesn’t have a minority ownership in the St. Louis Rams to brag about (like anyone would, anyway), but he has a whole new platform to stand on…and a new megaphone to yell with. He’s not just someone who can talk about “how the Left silences its critics,” he’s someone who stands as an example of it. No one thinks Rush is poor (or middle class…or even wealthy…he’s uber rich), but in getting swept aside by a government-like entity (the NFL) for expressing his views – and being slandered along the way with accusations of non-existent racist remarks – he’s become a symbol for many an aggrieved.
Feeling the heat for being called out for the false accusations of racism, numerous news outlets have either given half-hearted corrections (no apologies) or even taken to a renewed pursuit of Limbaugh. Earlier, a reporter who has been staking out the Limbaugh beat for CNN engaged a psychologist in attempt to gauge the talk show host’s “state of mind.” Needless to say, it wasn’t a favorable assessment. Limbaugh’s response? He “called Costello[the reporter] his ‘stalker’ before suggesting she ‘go sit on a fire hydrant and improve your day’.”
Shhhh, be vewy qwiet. It's Fox season...
Add words: If you’ve been watching what’s come out of the White House lately, you’ve got to wonder: who is the enemy…Iran or Fox News? Did the White House actually urge other networks to disregard Fox News? Interestingly, those rallying first – and loudest – to the Fox journos’ aid…have been other news people.
Add Fox dust-up: Perhaps the best push on this came from from ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper. Here’s the transcript from his ABC News blog, Power Punch:
From this morning’s gaggle in White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ office:
Tapper: It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one –
Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.
Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say –
Gibbs: ABC -
Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?
Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.
Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” -- why is that appropriate for the White House to say?
Gibbs: That’s our opinion.
Last add Fox vs. White House add: Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post puts it this way: ”There’s only one thing dumber than picking a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel — picking a fight with people who don’t even have to buy ink.”
Hello to my friend, Anita!...
Speaking of White House words: Megan McCardle over at “Radical Chic,” gives her view on White House Communications Director Anita Dunn’s ridiculous statement about Mao Tse-Tung being a philosophical touchstone: “I thought that this must be some kind of grotesque conservative exaggeration, but no, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn really did tell a graduating high school class to emulate Mao Tse-Tung's bold and imaginative attitude during his takeover of China. Most of us look at the tens of millions who died and maybe think twice about trying to imitate the late Chairman, but hey, think different!”
It's always nice to close with a Joe Biden gaffe: from “The Gaffe-inator”– “The U.S. is in a depression. The U.S. is in a depression.” (I'll bet the prez was thrilled with that revelation.)
Monday, October 19, 2009
Because it’s there…well, because of what's near there.
Pakistan, a corrupt, poverty-stricken, failed state that always seems to be at odds with the world’s largest democracy, India – also a nuclear power. Not countries with nuclear power but, instead, nations with nuclear weapons. Pakistan is a nation barely propped up by the United States which has taken Osama bin Laden and his comrades-in-arms at their word: get Pakistan to get nukes.
To be sure, bugging out of Afghanistan would only invite problems in that nation that eventually would be visited upon us again. The vacuum that nature – and unstable nations – abhors would be filled…quickly. And lest we forget, it was the vacuum left behind by the former invading/occupying Soviet Union that served as an incubator for the Taliban and its virulent cousin, al Qaeda.
Landlocked and not of any particularly great value when it comes to resources, the Central Asia nation shares borders with Pakistan, the friendly Iranians, China and the “stans” of the former USSR (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan). While we prop-up the Pakistanis and provide “aid” to some of the “stans,” it’s generally considered a neighborhood where you don’t want to go at night. Or in the day, for that matter.
Since we all know by now that the vast collection of tribal areas drawn into a fairly meaningless map, beginning with its founding in 1747, has become known as the “graveyard of empires” (namely the Russians and British), we won’t delve into its history too deeply. Of course, besides any interest Americans have held since “Charlie Wilson’s War” hit the big screen has been primarily limited to thinking that since 9/11, bin Laden is living there near its outer boundaries.
But things have changed.
With the war in Iraq essentially won (or at least turned tepid) with the Petreus Surge, our attentions – and soon another surge – focus on this dusty outpost of mankind too many time zones (and several eons of human development) away. Seemingly, each week is filled with reports of new American boys coming home from Afghanistan in American body bags. As President Barack Obama said, Afghanistan is “a war of necessity.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean our military there are bulletproof or that the job is an easier one than Iraq was.
Logistically, it will be tougher. Yes, we do have NATO on our side in this conflict, but the roles of our “allies” in the effort are often under-resourced and limited in such a way that it actually helps the terrorists, insurgents and Talibani more than it does us in many instances.
We should, if at all possible, find a way to restore Afghanistan to some semblance of what it once was. What it thought it could be. And we should not rest until the opposition is ruthlessly and finally crushed. Let us finish them – and the job –while we are in-country. But we’ve got to find ways to move the terrorists away from the Pakistani frontier and preserve what shreds of order and stability might exist in Pakistan.
Back to the original point of all this: Pakistan.
Since 1947, when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned and India and Pakistan became independent of Great Britain, the two have not been the best of friends. The worst clash between the two nations came in 1947–48, 1965, and 1971. At the root of the ongoing tension have primarily been attributed to hostilities between Hindus and Muslims and – as well as the “disposition of self-governing princely states.” (India, by the way, also is a nuclear power and isn’t afraid to protect itself just as it did in the previous wars.)
So Pakistan - a country always seeming to be justthisclose to dissolving into utter anarchy and then becoming another militant extremist Muslim state – has the bomb. And there’s the rub. You see, Pakistan having nukes by itself is bad enough – given all the bad blood it’s had with India all these years. But throw in the definite possibility that some nut job group of mullahs or Taliban/al Qaeda types with fingers on the trigger (or even giving away fissile material to other terrorists), and you can see why the Afghanistan problem can’t be allowed to spread.
Of course, Pakistan continues to be rocked on an almost daily basis by terror attacks that are designed to upset already tenuous circumstances there: inflict fear in/on the populace, demoralize military and police, encourage other low-lifers, and sow the seeds for a future conflict and/or takeover. That can’t be allowed to happen.
The good news is that the president has approved a significant increase in troops being sent to the area. "This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires," Obama said in a written statement. "The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe haven along the Pakistani border."
Let me say this: bravo, Mr. President. This is not a time to dither and play politics. The stakes of the game we're in are too large to wager on elections, special interests or even misplaced pressures from allies (and, possibly, the Nobel Prize Prize committee).
As bloody, tragic and horrible as the conflict there already is – and it will get worse – we do need to dedicate ourselves to finishing this effort…the right way. This isn’t about WMDs that “might” be there. This isn’t about anything having to do with oil. This isn’t about a proxy war with competing nations. This is about making sure a group of people who have promised to use nuclear weapons and who are capable of wanton, mass killings are stopped dead in their tracks before they get a chance to even think about their plans again.
Dead in their tracks.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
This is gonna be fun! Al Sharpton threatens to sue Rush Limbaugh for his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Like Sharpton can be defamed...
Sharpton vs. Limbaugh? Fight of the century?
All opposed…? According to a Democrat-funded study, just because you disagree with the president it doesn’t mean you’re a racist. Do tell…
And now, a special message from the French government: “Give us your money or you will die.” Seriously.
Last item: Balloon Boy saga brought down to Earth…
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Let's make a deal...
OK, you wanna hear my pitch for a reality show idea?
Here goes: each week, this looney family swaps kids with another family. The loons - who are total media whores, btw - pack the other family's kids into a giant helium balloon (and I'm working on a Jiffy Pop™ product placement deal here, baby) and let the thing go.
Yes, really, just let it fly. The balloon - filled with some cute kids - will drift aimlessly over America and we'll follow it with choppers, TV crews...huge ratings! Everyone will watch that thing to see where it lands.
What if it crashes? Well, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, right?
So I'll take 10% on the front AND back ends of the deal and a cut on merchandising...balloon hats, t-shirts, NASCAR cars. And maybe we can bring in a celebrity each week and throw them out of the balloon.
Whattaya say? Do we have a deal?