Sunday, August 25, 2013

Syrian Gas Attacks

 Warning:  This post contains graphic images unsuitable for children and other living things. 


Sometimes, words simply cannot suffice.

"There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child.  Things never get back to the way they were."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The Syrian government has launched new gas attacks on Syrian rebels, killing at least 1,400, including many, many children and women.

It is said that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned."  Our UN ambassador was partying in Ireland - after 19 days on the job! - during an "urgent" Security Council Meeting last Wednesday concerning Syrian gas attacks.  She sent her deputy.  Where are our priorities?

We have no gas warfare red line.

We have abandoned any pretense to a moral high ground.

We are not our brother's keeper.

There is no Golden Rule.

We have no deeper interest than self interest.

Evil exists.

We are lost.  We have no leader or plan.  The wilderness is lonely and we are terrified.

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"Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi dismissed the possibility of an American attack, warning that such a move would risk triggering more violence in the region."

More violence than children dying of poison gas?  How?

Do something now, Mr. President.  I know, it's a war and it's dangerous but we need you.  The world needs you.  Don't lead from behind.  Now's not the time.

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"I don't oppose all wars.  What I am opposed to is a dumb war.  What I am opposed to is a rash war." 

"We have real enemies in the world.  These enemies must be found.  They must be pursued and they must be defeated."

"We're not going to baby sit a civil war."

"Why can't I just eat my waffle?"

All, Barack Obama

* * * * *

"We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people.  Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way."

"Better to fight for something than live for nothing."

Both, George S. Patton

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Student Loans ... Changing the Change


These people borrowed nearly a trillion dollars from you and they don't want to pay it back.

Why is that a problem?  

We previously looked at the reformed and inferior Federal Student Loan Program on March 30, 2010, at  Student Loans and the IRS.  I hope you'll take the time to read it. Student loan reform was a bad idea then and has been implemented poorly since. 

How do we know it was a bad idea?  The prez told us so.  He was speechifying about student loans last week.  In preparation, The White House announced:

"We have to fundamentally rethink how higher education is paid for in this country."  (Thank you, The Atlantic)

But that's what was supposed to happen in 2010.  The prez was mighty proud of his student loan reform back then, part of his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Obamacare to most: 
"With this bill, and other steps we've pursued over the last year, we are finally undertaking meaningful reform in our higher education system..."  Barack Obama, quoted by on March 30, 2010
Mr. Obama called it "one of the most significant investments in higher education since the GI Bill."  (Thank you, Christian Science Monitor)
The prez promised us $60Bil in program savings that would be used partly fund Obamacare, part to be spent on community colleges, part for Pell Grants, part to ease stringent repayment requirements and on and on.  Wow, who wouldn't be on board with something as cool as that?  

But if that had been true, why would we want to fundamentally rethink the president's own reforms from which he promised us such miraculous results?  Answer:  It wasn't true.

Here are two more answers:

1)  The education reform issue was advanced to give the prez a political wedge issue;  

2)  It provided for the federal government to take over a profitable private sector (although admittedly publicly funded) business activity.  You know, like ObamaCare usurped the health care industry. 

The wedge issue is a dandy and conservatives have wilted under it.  
"Hey kids, want some student loan money (stubux?)?  Let me help you out there.  Interest rates too high?  Let's cut them in half for a while by borrowing from Social Security.  Yeah, I told you it's bankrupt but what the hey, let's do it anyway. (Oh, you didn't know that?)  And don't forget, VOTE DEMOCRAT!"

Rates will go up again, of course.  It's a part of the plan that he doesn't bother to mention.

Then comes the reason behind the reason:  When the built-in failure happens, he'll blame the Republicans and lead a crusade to "fundamentally rethink how higher education is paid for in this country."  (See above.)  He's doing it right now.  

"Changing the change" might actually work if he can get enough of us to forget that the original plan was his, not the Republicans'.  "Hope and Change" and all.

Reason #2:  Central planning is all the vogue again.  The gummint knows better than we do about everything.  Therefore, we should do things the gummint way because, you know, it's a matter of smarter people taking better care of us than we can care for ourselves.  Personal responsibility morphs into "it takes a village." Why should the private sector make a profit?

The gummint has taken over major industries on the grounds that the Washington can, and therefore should, run them better than the private sector.  The gummint took control of crop production during the Great Depression.  Wiki notes of a Woody Guthrie song:
In addition to being a lament for the braceros killed in the crash, the opening lines of "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)":
"The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps."
are another protest by Guthrie. At the time, government policies paid farmers to destroy their crops in order to keep farm production and prices high. Guthrie felt that it was wrong to render food inedible by poisoning it in a world where hungry people lived.
A popular refrain is "Government, stay out of my bedroom."  True that, and the exact same sentiment applies to everything else in our lives - including crop production - except for the powers and duties conferred on the federal government by the Constitution.  "Stay out of my doctor's office" works, too.

Our Founders feared that a powerful federal government would threaten the freedom of Americans.  The Constitution tells us what the government can do, but that wasn't enough.  

The Bill of Rights tells us what we can do.  Nowhere is there a mention of gummint doing anything just because it feels like it.  Hello, Obamacare.  Oh, that's right, it's a tax.  Who knew?

Cars, banking, health care, student loans, crony capitalism loans to politically connected fat cats for solar panels and batteries that never worked or were never competitive or never existed.  Choose your industry.  Which one is working better than before gummint took it over?

Next up:  Gummint rates schools and directs students to the ones it thinks are best by increasing the amounts of individual student loans for them.  No, really.  (Thank you, BusinessWeek.)

Hey!  Gotcha again, didn't I?

* * * * *
"The bottom line is we're not broke, there's plenty of money out there, it's just that the government doesn't have it."
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) 
July 25, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Doing Business With al-Qaeda -- Where's Our Outrage?

The US Army is doing business with al-Qaeda.  Literally.  

Their guys:

Think about that for a moment.  Americans are killing, and being killed by, these a-Qs but we're doing business with those a-Qs, who are using the profits to fund the first a-Qs.  The mind reels.

According to a published report:  "Special Inspector General John Sopko said his office has urged the Army to suspend or debar 43 contractors over concerns about ties to the Afghanistan insurgency, "including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda."  (Thank you,

Our guys:



The Army's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has strongly recommended that the Army stop doing that business.  Makes sense to me.  You?  But noooo!  (Thank you, John Belushi.)  The Army is going to keep doing business with the enemy, thank you very much.  SIGAR writes, and I'm embarrassed to quote this:
"In other words, they may be enemies of the United States, but that is not enough to keep them from getting government contracts.
Then WTF WOULD be enough to keep them from getting US government contracts?!  Regicide?  They'd like to.  Nukes?  They're trying.  Baby barbeques?  They're already doing that, so clearly that's not enough.  Killing our best and brightest young men and women?  They're doing that, too, yet we continue to do business with them.  Ramming loaded passenger jets into tall office buildings?  Yep.

The result?  We are co-sponsoring this:

And this:

And this:

Congress has taken note and at least one Representative has spoken out but, no surprise, Congress hasn't done anything about it. They're on vacation now, don'cha know?
"The fact that U.S. taxpayer money has ended up in the hands of terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan is totally inexcusable. It's sickening to think that we've been giving money to the very people who are killing our brave service men and women," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, one of the co-sponsors, said in a statement. 
In the report, Sopko's office noted that the U.S. has suspended 59 contractors and debarred 68 contractors following allegations that they were engaged in fraud and other misconduct. 
But the report said the refusal to send the same message to companies allegedly supporting terror and militant organizations is a "continuing problem." 
The report challenges the Army's claim that there was not enough evidence. The report said in each of the 43 recommendations, the office provided "detailed supporting information demonstrating that these individuals and entities are providing material support to the insurgency in Afghanistan." All were turned down. 
I wish I could vote for Rep.Chaffetz. 

And where is the Prez in all this?  Voting present, apparently.  He's in charge, f'God's sake, and we're at war.  One order, like, say, "Stop doing that, you idiots!" would be enough.  You can't be in a war and be afraid of confronting the enemy.  It's mutually exclusive.

* * * * *

"When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use."  Did Joseph Stalin say that?  Well, no, but it's a good story.  Supposedly said to his very close comrade Grigori Zinoviev in the '20s.  They were such close comrades that Stalin had him imprisoned and shot.  Fast forward to today:  "When we blow up the American imperialists they will sell us the explosives."  Same thing. 

What's the point here?  The ultimate point, I suppose, is that some of our tax dollars are buying the bullets and bombs that are killing some of our soldiers... and there is no outrage.  Is that what you want?  What's wrong with us?  Where's YOUR outrage?

I get it about war.  A lot of good young men and women die but aren't they supposed to die for something?  If we can boycott Iran, why can't we stop doing business with al-Qaeda?  At the very least, don't sponsor their killers.

The prez, like his predecessor, can't stop the war and he won't escalate it, either.  There is NOTHING in this war for America.  

Here's the Alibi for Ignorance proposal:  Have John Kerry meet with a-Q reps in Geneva, just like HenryK did in the '60s and'70s.  Escrow $50Bil in a Swiss bank for 120 days, at the end of which the US will be entirely out of Afghanistan.  No troops, no aid, no embassy, no USAID, no CIA, no NOTHING.  If the withdrawal was reasonably peaceful, a-Q gets to keep the money

Costs us the $50Bil plus the cost to depart.  After the $50Bil+, no more current costs and no more battlefield casualties.  We lick our wounds again, treat our damaged veterans and try to figure out how best to use our military next time.  God knows, we blew it this time.  Again.

And we remember this:

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"When the war of the giants is over the wars of the pygmies will begin."
Winston Churchill