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Friends and Enemies: Israel and Pakistan

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 1 month ago

A fascinating interview by Fox News provides an infuriating look into all that is wrong with U.S. foreign policy and the so-called “war on terror.”

Fox News claims to have gained access to Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who cooperated with the CIA in verifying the location of Osama bin Laden in 2011.   The magnitude of Afridi’s statements have both the Pakistani government, the ISI and prison officials all denying that the interview took place.   Even Afridi’s lawyers deny that Afridi spoke to Fox News.  On the other hand, this BBC news account raises the possibility that the interview could have taken place using a cell phone secretly passed to Afridi by relatives.   The denials are, at any rate, less than categorical.   Speculation posits that Dr. Afridi may be making a desperate bid to generate news and sympathy in the U.S. for his plight in the hope that he will be released or the prison term reduced.

According to the Fox News story:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan –  Pakistan’s powerful spy agency regards America as its “worst enemy,” and the government’s claims that it is cooperating with the US are a sham to extract billions of dollars in American aid, according to the CIA informant jailed for his role in hunting down Usama bin Laden.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Shakil Afridi, the medical doctor who helped pinpoint bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound before last year’s raid by SEAL Team 6, described brutal torture at the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, and said the agency is openly hostile to the U.S.

“They said ‘The Americans are our worst enemies, worse than the Indians,’” Afridi, who spoke from inside Peshawar Central Jail, said as he recalled the brutal interrogation and torture he suffered after he was initially detained.

***

The ISI, Afridi said, helps fund the Haqqani network, the North Waziristan-based militant group that was last week designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The agency also works against the U.S. by preventing the CIA from interrogating militants captured by Pakistan, who are routinely released to return to Afghanistan to continue attacks on NATO forces there.

“It is now indisputable that militancy in Pakistan is supported by the ISI […] Pakistan’s fight against militancy is bogus. It’s just to extract money from America,” Afridi said, referring to the $23 billion Pakistan has received largely in military aid since 9/11.

TCJ readers will not find any of Afridi’s statements surprising.   Pakistan’s duplicity is well documented over the years since the 9/11 attacks.   Nonetheless, the Afridi interview serves to highlight the futility of fighting a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan while allowing both Iran and Pakistan to actively support the insurgents.    Moreover, the U.S. government goes out of its way to curry favor with Pakistan, providing billions of dollars in aid while they assist our enemies.   This is simply immoral and an insult to the families who have lost loved ones in the Afghanistan theater of operations.

Finally, compare the treatment of Pakistan and their barely concealed contempt for the U.S. with the treatment given to Israel.  Setting aside any considerations of cultural or religious ties to Israel, from a national interest perspective, Israel is an irreplaceable ally in the heart of the Middle East.   Israel provides the U.S. with intelligence of all kinds that is otherwise unavailable (given our severe lack of human resources).   Israel effectively ties down the military assets of Egypt, Syria and the quasi-states of Gaza and Hezbollah-stan in Lebanon.   The Obama Administration is simply throwing Israel under the bus when it comes to a nuclear Iran.  Israel has sensibly asked for some “red lines” to be set in an attempt to stop the Iranian rush to obtain nuclear weapons.    Obama refuses.   More than that, Obama undercuts efforts by Israel to act on its own to protect itself from an Iranian threat that is catastrophic.

This insanity cannot continue.  It is hard to imagine that President Obama could have brought the U.S. to the brink of irrelevance in the Middle East in just four, short years, but, as U.S. embassies and consulates are attacked with impunity throughout the region, we are witnessing the first bitter fruits of what promises to be a horrific harvest to come.

E.P.A. Idiocy in Action: Inventing New Technologies for a Bogus Problem

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 3 months ago

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Isn’t this just swell?  According to this article in Technology Review, there are two, new approaches being tested for making coal-burning power plants cleaner and more efficient:

A pair of new technologies could reduce the cost of capturing carbon dioxide from coal plants and help utilities comply with existing and proposed environmental regulations, including requirements to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Both involve burning coal in the presence of pure oxygen rather than air, which is mostly nitrogen. Major companies including Toshiba, Shaw, and Itea have announced plans to build demonstration plants for the technologies in coming months.

The basic idea of burning fossil fuels in pure oxygen isn’t new. The drawback is that it’s more expensive than conventional coal plant technology, because it requires additional equipment to separate oxygen and nitrogen. The new technologies attempt to offset at least some of this cost by improving efficiency and reducing capital costs in other areas of a coal plant. Among other things, they simplify the after-treatment required to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The article doesn’t state how much money is being sent down the rat hole to develop these new technologies, but, regardless of the amount involved, this is such a colossal waste that I don’t know whether to laugh or punch the fake rhino head on the wall.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still on a holy crusade against “global warming” by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, despite the fact that the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory has been repeatedly exposed as a sham.   As a result, precious time, money, talent and resources are being directed towards solving a “problem” that doesn’t exist.

The Left wants to talk about stimulating the economy, but what about the stimulative effect of lowering the cost of electricity to businesses and consumers?  Imagine the effect of simply eliminating the EPA’s carbon dioxide emission standards on the generation of electricity?  This is the sort of thing that should be high on Romney’s to-do list in January 2013.

SWAT-capades

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

Recommended that SWAT units around the country stand down and relax just a bit, I have.  Regarding the ATF SWAT failure in Greeley, Colorado:

… apprehension can be done safely and without ugly incidents such as this one.  According to my friend, Captain Dickson Skipper of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, most apprehensions can be done physically, or with the really belligerent ones, using pepper spray.  But military tactics have replaced basic police work in America, with the behavior of tacti-cool “operators” justified by judges looking the other way, as if all of this is necessary to maintain order and peace.

And regarding D.C. Police bullying:

That night it would have been perfectly reasonable to send over a couple of uniformed officers (common uniforms, shirts and ties), knock on the door, and then communicate their concerns: “Sir, we received a phone call concerning a potential problem or disturbance in this area, and we would like to sit and chat with you for a few minutes.  May we come in, or perhaps you would like to come down to the precinct to chat with us?”

But with the increasing militarization of police activities in America, this is rarely good enough any more.  But the police aren’t the military, and even if they were, such tactics are inherently dangerous.  PoorEurie Stamps perished in a mistaken SWAT raid due to an officer, who had no trigger discipline, stumbling with a round chambered in his rifle and shooting Mr. Stamps (due to sympathetic muscle reflexes) who was prone on the floor.  Mr. Jose Guerena was shot to death in his home in a SWAT raid that looked like it was conducted by the keystone cops.  Such tactics are also dangerous for the police officers conducting the raids.

But a recent raid in Evansville, Indiana, proved just how reflexive it has become to conduct military-style raids on unsuspecting victims – and how unnecessary and dangerous it has all become.

The long-standingheavily documented militarization of even small-town American police forces was always going to create problems when it met anonymous Internet threats. And so it has, again—this time in Evansville, Indiana, where officers acted on some Topix postings threatening violence against local police. They then sent an entire SWAT unit to execute a search warrant on a local house, one in which the front door was open and an 18-year old woman sat inside watching TV.

The cops brought along TV cameras, inviting a local reporter to film the glorious operation. In the resulting video, you can watch the SWAT team, decked out in black bulletproof vests and helmets and carrying window and door smashers, creep slowly up to the house. At some point, they apparently “knock” and announce their presence—though not with the goal of getting anyone to come to the door. As the local police chief admitted later to the Evansville Courier & Press, the process is really just “designed to distract.” (SWAT does not need to wait for a response.)

Officers break the screen door and a window, tossing a flashbang into the house—which you can see explode in the video. A second flashbang gets tossed in for good measure a moment later. SWAT enters the house.

On the news that night, the reporter ends his piece by talking about how this is “an investigation that hits home for many of these brave officers.”

But the family in the home was released without any charges as police realized their mistake. Turns out the home had an open WiFi router, and the threats had been made by someone outside the house. Whoops.

So the cops did some more investigation and decided that the threats had come from a house on the same street. This time, apparently recognizing they had gone a little nuts on the first raid, the police department didn’t send a SWAT team at all. Despite believing that they now had the right location and that a threat-making bomber lurked within, they just sent officers up to the door.

“We did surveillance on the house, we knew that there were little kids there, so we decided we weren’t going to use the SWAT team,” the police chief told the paper after the second raid. “We did have one officer with a ram to hit the door in case they refused to open the door. That didn’t happen, so we didn’t need to use it.”

Their target appears to be a teenager who admits to the paper that he has a “smart mouth,” dislikes the cops, and owns a smartphone—but who denies using it to make the threats.

De-escalation is the order of the day.  There is no reason to reflexively assume that a SWAT raid is in order, and every reason to take more care and concern for the unintended consequences of the use of such military tactics on American citizens.  Note to police departments around the nation: relax, call a uniform, and let him tell you what needs to be done, if anything.

Prior:

DEA SWAT Raid And Ninth Circuit Ruling

ATF SWAT Failure

D.C. Police Bullies

One Police Officer Dead and Five Wounded From No-Knock Raid

Judges Siding With SWAT Tactics

The Moral Case Against SWAT Raids

Department Of Education SWAT Raid On Kenneth Wright

The Jose Guerena Raid: A Demonstration Of Tactical Incompetence

Environmental Extremists Unite! (and move to North Korea while you’re at it)

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 4 months ago

Right now, the U.S. is saddled with more hydrocarbon riches than we know what to do with.  Well, that’s not quite accurate.  Many of us know exactly what to do with them: produce mind-boggling wealth and energy independence and national security for the rest of the 21st Century at least.

But since the mid-1970′s or so, the Environmental Extremists, or “Greenies” among us, have been thwarting every effort by normal Americans to develop and use our abundant, natural resources.   They long for a pure and Green planet that will turn away from nasty, dirty, global-warming-causing hydrocarbon fuels.

What do we do with these mindless utopians and their lackeys in Congress and the White House?

The answer is at hand in this article in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Talk about North Korea usually centers around how the regime starves its people, whether it has the bomb, and if Kim Jong Un is really in charge. The UN’s Kyoto Protocol doesn’t make the list.

Yet under the terms of the protocol, North Korea, as a developing country and a member of the United Nations, has the right to build clean energy projects that may apply for Certified Emission Reductions, or CERs, popularly known as carbon credits. The North Koreans can then sell them to a rich country or company that needs the credits to offset its own greenhouse gases. Dig into data from the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, and you will find seven North Korean projects registered for carbon trading.

***

North Korea is now building seven hydroelecrtric plants, which provide some of the cleanest energy going. Most can earn tradable carbon credits. [Miroslav Blazek, who runs a company that facilitates such carbon trading] says the North Koreans “jumped” at the opportunity to get into carbon trading: “They immediately grasped that this is a way to make money.” Korea’s seven dams may generate as many as 241,000 CERs a year, worth almost €1 million ($1.3 million). “The projects are already in a relatively advanced phase,” says Ondrej Bores, director of carbon advisory services at Virtuse Energy in Prague, who’s worked with Blazek on other deals.

***

When he visited some of the hydro dam sites, Blazek saw workers digging with their bare hands. “Human labor has practically no price there,” he says. Maybe peaceful trade in carbon credits will make the regime a little less monstrous.

The bottom line: Although its initial foray into carbon trading may fetch only €1 million, North Korea has ambitions to be a player in the market.

[Emphasis added]

Yes!  Greenies no longer need to live bitter, frustrated lives here in Gaia-exploiting, meat-eating, pollution-ridden America.   North Korea is living the Greenie dream of eco-friendly hydroelectric dams everywhere, providing cheap, plentiful electricity to the mud and straw huts of its starving peasants!  Greenies can move there now and live their fantasy of a 18th Century society that is literally digging with their bare hands rather than use evil, polluting diesel excavation machines.   Imagine the teeny, tiny carbon footprint of North Korea:  virtually no automobiles to foul the air, the vast majority of the people living simple lives, close to the earth, eating whatever they can find (literally).   A model to the world of “sustainable living” in harmony with nature.   Sure, life is nasty, brutish and short, but, in the minds of Greenies, humans are afterall a kind of virus afflicting Mother Earth.  A short existence is a plus.

So do a small favor for any Environmentalist zealot you know and pass along the brochure for North Korea.  It sounds exactly like the kind of lifestyle that they want.

North Dakota’s Property Tax Repeal: Straining at the Leash

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 4 months ago

Hat tip to Drudge Report.

God bless the good people of North Dakota.  Apparently at least 30,000 of them decided that they were tired of living at the mercy of local tax authorities and decided to do something about it.

The New York Times gives a brief summary of a proposal to repeal all property tax assessments in the State of North Dakota:

BISMARCK, N.D. — Since Californians shrank their property taxes more than three decades ago by passing Proposition 13, people around the nation have echoed their dismay over such levies, putting forth plans to even them, simplify them, cap them, slash them. In an election here on Tuesday, residents of North Dakota will consider a measure that reaches far beyond any of that — one that abolishes the property tax entirely.

“I would like to be able to know that my home, no matter what happens to my income or my life, is not going to be taken away from me because I can’t pay a tax,” said Susan Beehler, one in a group of North Dakotans who have pressed for an amendment to the state’s Constitution to end the property tax. They argue that the tax is unpredictable, inconsistent, counter to the concept of property ownership and needless in a state that, thanks in part to wildly successful oil drilling, finds itself in the rare circumstance of carrying budget reserves.

“When,” Ms. Beehler asked, “did we come to believe that government should get rich and we should get poor?”

An unusual coalition of forces, including the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and the state’s largest public employees’ unions, vehemently oppose the idea, arguing that such a ban would upend this quiet capital. Some big unanswered questions, the opponents say, include precisely how lawmakers would make up some $812 million in annual property tax revenue; what effect the change would have on hundreds of other state laws and regulations that allude to the more than century-old property tax; and what decisions would be left for North Dakota’s cities, counties and other governing boards if, say, they wanted to build a new school, hire more police, open a new park.

“This is a plan without a plan,” said Andy Peterson, president and chairman of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, who acknowledged that property taxes have climbed in some parts of the state and that North Dakota’s political leaders need to tackle the issue. “But this solution is a little like giving a barber a razor-sharp butcher knife — and by the way, this barber is blind — and asking him or her to give you a haircut. You’ll get the job done, but you might be missing an ear or an eye.”

What I love most about this ballot measure is the way it brings into question every assumption of local governance for the last 100 years. You can almost hear the local politicians sputtering and choking as they consider the changes that would be needed if they suddenly did not have this $800 million to keep themselves employed.   Public employee unions, too, obviously see that the elimination of the property tax means an empty trough.   Although total elimination of the property tax may not be the exact solution, it forces everyone in North Dakota at least to re-think basic assumptions about public services and reconsider whether there might be alternatives.   This is the kind of thinking that America desperately needs today, and not just in North Dakota.

For example, one of the main arguments that supporters of the tax put forward is that police, schools, local government and fire and rescue will no longer exist without this tax money.   But that is simply not true and amounts to a scare tactic, a sure sign of a weak argument.  Elimination of property taxes simply means that government must find an alternative source of funding or that the provision of these traditional, taxpayer-funded services will have to change.   Might there be other ways of providing an education?  Public schools, afterall, are a 20th century creation.   Who is to say that there may not be a better way to educate children without the public school harness?   The same could be said for police, fire fighting and other local government services.   The failure here is one of imagination.   The supporters of the property tax simply cannot imagine a different way of doing things (and have no incentive to do so).

The fight over local property taxes also reveals in a stark way the limits of our actual freedoms.   Anyone who owns real property prefers not to think about the fact that we will never, truly own anything.   Even if we should manage to pay off the mortgage covering the purchase price of our home, the county government will always be there, year after year, demanding ever greater sums for the “privilege” of living on their land.

The usual, counter-argument here is that property owners benefit from all of the services provided to them by the county (fire, police, ambulance, schools, etc…), so it is only right to demand a contribution to the costs.    Setting aside the question of whether a tax assessment on the value of my property is even a rational or fair way to determine my “contribution,” however, there are fundamental problems with this kind of thinking.   What about those who make little or no use of county services?   They have no children in school, they provide for their own protection under their Second Amendment rights and they are more than willing to re-build with neighbors’ assistance in the event of a fire.   Anyone with any actual experience with local government officials knows that they do not improve the quality of our lives.  Just the opposite.   Furthermore, the coerced taxation of property owners entrenches an entire system of “public employees” who have absolutely no interest in any changes that would save taxpayers money, improve quality or find alternative means to provide services.   Simply compare the mindset of a business that must constantly respond to customers’ needs and compete with others to retain business or fail entirely with that of government.

Every indicator around us points to the fact that we cannot continue to follow the same, outdated model of taxation and governance.  Whether the North Dakota ballot initiative is the answer or merely the first, halting step, we had best be about re-inventing the American way of life.

When Getting to the Super Bowl is Not Enough: Republicans, Grow Up

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 5 months ago

Hat tip Hot Air.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) expressed profound regrets about the four years during the George W. Bush presidency when Republicans had control of Congress:

“During the Bush administration, they had four years where the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the executive branch. We had a great opportunity to do great reform to fix what was wrong with this country. We didn’t do it — that’s where careerism comes in,” Coburn told TheDC.

“Careerism isn’t just a problem for Democrats. It’s a problem for Republicans too. When the number one goal is to make yourself look good at home, rather than fulfill your oath and fix what the country needs to have fixed, you’re actually adding to our downward spiral, and so I think it was a missed opportunity of tremendous proportions that the Republicans didn’t embrace what they said they believed in during those times.”

***

In his new book, “The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America,” Coburn writes about a phone conservation he had with President Bush.

“The night of my victory in 2004, I received a call from President Bush. After he congratulated me, I said, ‘Mr. President, I’m looking forward to helping you cut spending.’ There was nothing but silence on the other end,” Coburn writes.

“By the end of 2004, Republicans were becoming increasingly agitated about President Bush’s excessive spending. I was determined to follow through on my campaign promise to go after earmarks and wasteful spending even if it meant clashing with my own party.”

Good of Senator Coburn to express these sentiments some eight years later.  Better late than never, I suppose.  But Coburn does not quite capture the essence of those times.   The problem then (as now) is not politicians trying to “look good” to the voters back home.  The problem is much deeper and more parasitic.

The problem, first and foremost, is the overwhelming power that has been invested, over the last 100 years, in the central government in D.C.  Our Founding Fathers could never have imagined the sheer size and scope of the Federal Leviathan today.   If so, it is doubtful that they would have proceeded with the Constitution as written.  This enormous power hopelessly corrupts all but the most invulnerable persons who spend any length of time in the Capitol.   It is not about looking good, Senator Coburn, it is about wielding power and influence that garners great wealth, special treatment, exemption from the laws that apply to the rest of us citizens, incessant flattery from hordes of sycophants and an almost irresistible temptation to hang onto to this power at all costs.

If there is anything like a glimmer of light at the end of this long, dark Debt Tunnel, it may be the election of principled conservatives to Congress who will not cave in to the “careerists” in Congress already infected with the power disease.

The danger is that new Congress Critters may fall into the same psychological trap that many an NFL team has fallen into when they make it to the Super Bowl: Just Happy To Be Here.

It is fine to talk about changing Washington and restoring the Constitution while on the campaign trail and let’s grant that all the talk is sincere and deeply authentic.   Nonetheless, like those hapless NFL teams that struggle against all odds to appear in the championship game only to be trounced by a veteran opponent, it is an open question whether freshmen in 2013 will be awed just to walk the halls of Congress and forget all about playing for keeps.

More TSA Follies

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 5 months ago

First comes this:

The Transportation Security Administration is once again the subject of national scrutiny, this time after aggressively screening a 7-year-old female passenger with cerebral palsy which caused her family to miss their flight.

The girl, identified as Dina Frank in a report by The Daily, was waiting with her family on Monday to board a flight departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York headed to Florida.

Since Dina walks with the aid of leg braces and crutches, she cannot pass through airport metal detectors, and must instead submit to a pat-down by TSA agents.

Dina, who is also reportedly developmentally disabled, is usually frightened by the procedure. Her family reportedly requests that agents on hand take the time to introduce themselves to her.

However, the agents on duty at the time began to handle her aggressively instead.

Then this:

A Transportation Security Administration baggage inspector at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is facing two to 10 years in prison for stealing Apple iPads from luggage over eight months, according to reports.

Clayton Keith Dovel, 36, of Bedford, Tex., was arrested Feb. 1 and indicted by the Tarrant County grand jury last week on charges of theft by a public servant of items valued up to $20,000, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Dovel is free on $5,000 bail and has been suspended indefinitely by the TSA.

Speaking of illegalities, there’s this:

A TSA agent arrested, accused of being involved in a massive oxycodone trafficking operation between Connecticut, New York and Florida, pleaded guilty on Thursday in court in New Haven.

Twenty people were arrested, including three Transportation Security Administration officers based at airports in Florida and New York, a Westchester County police officer and a Florida State Trooper, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice.said.

Brigitte Jones, 48, a TSA officer at Westchester County Airport, pleaded guilty on Thursday in court in New Haven. She is the third TSA agent to plead guilty to taking cash to help move the Oxycodone through airport security without being detected.

There’s also this:

The Transportation Security Administration is once again under fire after news leaked of how the agency threatened to close an entire airport because a 4-year-old girl hugged her grandmother.

The girl’s mother, Michelle Brademeyer, posted a harrowing account of the incident on her Facebook page, saying officers implied a gun was passed during the brief embrace.

Brademeyer’s daughter, Isabella, ran over to her grandma after the older woman had triggered alarms as she went through security at Wichita Airport in Kansas, she wrote. The family was on its way home to Montana after a family wedding.

Michelle Brademeyer said she and her two daughters passed through the screening with no incident, but her mother set off the alarm and was asked to take a seat and wait to be patted down.

It was then that the little girl ran over to her grandmother to give her a hug, said Brademeyer. “They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds. The Transportation Security Officers [TSO] who were present responded to this very simple action in the worst way imaginable,” she wrote.

“First, a TSO began yelling at my child, and demanded she too must sit down and await a full body pat-down. I was prevented from coming any closer, explaining the situation to her, or consoling her in any way. My daughter, who was dressed in tight leggings, a short sleeve shirt and mary jane shoes, had no pockets, no jacket and nothing in her hands. The TSO refused to let my daughter pass through the scanners once more, to see if she too would set off the alarm.

“It was implied, several times, that my Mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter,” wrote Brademeyer.

And now from the illegal to the absurd:

“She should switch to decaf.”

That’s from the New York Post, which reports a Transportation Security Administration screener was arrested at New York JFK for allegedly “hurling a cup of hot coffee at an American Airlines pilot who told her and some colleagues to tone down a profanity- laced conversation in a terminal … .”

The Post cited unnamed sources in reporting the incident, which is said to have occurred March 28. The newspaper apparently first learned of it this week.

The spat apparently began when 54-year-old American Airlines pilot Steven Trivett was leaving JFK’s Terminal 8 and overheard the screeners’ conversation.

The Post’s sources say Trivett admonished the screeners, suggesting they behave more professionally while in uniform. Trivett also told the screeners he thought they should “not use profanity or the n-word” while on the job, one of the Post’s sources said.

That’s when things escalated, according to the Post. One screener allegedly cursed at the pilot and told him to “mind his own business.” When the pilot tried to grab at the ID badge of 30-year-old TSA officer Lateisha El, she pushed him and threw a full cup of hot coffee on him, according to the Post’s unnamed sources.

And finally this:

The lines and pointless interference at Logan Airport were no worse than usual yesterday, but one TSA employee did manage to add a new wrinkle of misery to the experience. As we all stood in line like obedient sheep, he recited the usual litany about removing belts, shoes, liquids, emptying pockets, etc. At the same time, he also kept up a loud, non-stop monologue of unfunny, mildly sexist, and occasionally offensive jokes, to an entirely captive audience of travelers. No doubt he thought he was providing an amusing diversion, but he didn’t seem to notice that no one was laughing. And given the ever-present threat of a strip-search, nobody was going to tell this loudmouth in a uniform to just zip it. So in addition to the degrading inconvenience of the security checkpoints themselves, they’ve now added noise pollution.

As I have pointed out before, if we really cared about security, we would install explosive trace detection portals, just like those in use at the access portals to nuclear power plants in the U.S.  This, combined with abolishing the TSA and sending the work to private contractors, would actually benefit security and save money to boot.

But we don’t want that.  We would rather have ignorant goobers gawk at cute figures and have random violations of our fourth amendment rights.  What a strange world.

The TSA is a federal jobs program for incompetent people.  Nothing more.

Conservative Voters Will Re-Elect Obama (Or Not)

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 8 months ago

According to this article by Nate Silver in The New York Times:

Among the Republicans that the polling firm classified as definite voters, Mr. Santorum’s lead was larger, 11 points over Mr. Romney. However, Mr. Romney led Mr. Santorum 33 to 22 among voters the pollsters classified as more marginal.

Ordinarily, a candidate should benefit from having the support of more definite voters — and most polling firms give them the bulk of the weight in their turnout models, which is why Mr. Santorum leads the poll over all.

The universe of indefinite voters is broader. But those votes don’t count for anything unless the candidate can get the voters to the polls.

That’s something Mr. Romney has had trouble doing so far. In states and counties that would appear to be strong for him, turnout is generally running below its 2008 pace. But in his weaker areas — say, most of the state of South Carolina — it has been steady or has improved some.

The discrepancy may help explain why Mr. Santorum has a larger lead, 15 points, in another poll of Michigan from Public Policy Polling. That firm projects Michigan’s electorate to be decidedly more conservative than it was in 2008. For instance, it projects 48 percent of the voters to be evangelical Christians, up from 39 percent in 2008, and 38 percent of voters to be “very conservative,” up from 24 percent.

One can debate whether these are realistic assumptions or not. The Republican electorate as a whole has become somewhat more conservative than in 2008, but the poll is projecting a more decisive shift.

Automated polling firms, like Public Policy Polling, often have low response rates, meaning that they tend to poll only the most enthusiastic supporters. At the same time, turnout in primaries and caucuses is normally quite low — so if a poll’s sample is biased in the direction of more enthusiastic voters, it may nevertheless have strong predictive power.

The thrust of the article is a warning to Mitt Romney to step up efforts to get more of “his people” to the polls in the upcoming primary contests.   The big takeaway for me from this article is the bit about an increasingly conservative electorate.   In Michigan of all places, too.   While Mr. Silver downplays this forecast by the polling company, Public Policy Polling, it would go a long way to explaining the electoral tidal wave that occurred in November 2010, something that the Leftist Media seem curiously silent about these days.

If the electorate has made a “decisive shift” to conservative values since 2008, it will be quite difficult for Obama to win reelection.   His election in 2008 was heavily dependent upon:  1) a significant backlash vote against George W. Bush and the Republicans in general;  2) a surge of voting by the college age demographic that traditionally has been quite small in past elections, and; 3) (the most significant factor in my opinion) a marked drop in turnout among conservative voters.

To distill this even further, the election of Obama resulted in large part from a fairly unique convergence of high disaffection with the outgoing President and that president’s party, a New Flavor Candidate that promised change and a moderate GOP candidate that could not stir conservatives to turn out and vote.

The first, two factors will be noticeably absent in 2012.   Obama’s unvetted “Hope and Change” circus is well known now and he will be the focus of blame and dissatisfaction for all the ills of the last 4 years.  The so-called Youth Vote is one of the groups suffering the most and unlikely to vote in anywhere near the numbers in 2008.

The last factor remains undecided and it is Obama’s last, best hope for reelection.

If Obama can secure high turnout from his Leftist base of voters (which amounts to approximately 20% of the voting population) and pick off another 25% of Independents that lean Left or Center Left, he only needs to discourage the conservative vote (which comes in at around 40% of the voting population according to Gallup).     This calculation perfectly explains the policies of Obama in the last months.    The XL Pipeline had to be canned to please his base.   He could not afford to approve it.   The stance on contraception funding in religious organizations was similarly intended to secure the base.   Occupy Wall Street has been organized to stir up the Youth Vote if possible.

The final piece has been Obama’s strategy of bashing every GOP candidate that rises in the polls in the hopes of dispiriting conservatives and depressing their turnout in November.    The Democrat Party and its allies in the media are in non-stop campaign mode to ensure that, no matter who the GOP nominates, conservatives will be dissatisfied and disillusioned.   And the Republican Party has seemingly cooperated in that strategy by launching vicious attacks against each and every candidate, leaving a haze of discouragement.

Given the conservative shift in voting patterns cited by PPP in Nate Silver’s article, the fight over turnout by conservative voters may be the decisive battle of 2012.

Republican Media Resorts to Newtron Bombing in Support of Romney

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 9 months ago

I hesitate to post something that might drag TCJ directly into the GOP nominating process as I do not believe that TCJ is primarily about politics, but given the importance of the 2012 elections, I cannot resist making a cautionary post about what is happening in the Republican primaries.

Allow me to also state, up front, that I am officially undecided on my support.  Yes, I am a registered Republican (although I have flirted with the idea of going Independent given the state of the GOP), no surprise there.   Like most Republicans I was hoping that several, other candidates would enter the fray, but the top, three candidates at this point could credibly do the job and certainly better than Obama.

This post by Dafyyd Ab Hugh at Big Lizards is, I think, a good summary of the situation as it stood after Gingrich’s big win in the South Carolina primary:

The best news out of South Carolina — for all Republicans, independents, and even Democrats who dread a second term for Barack H. “Bubble Boy” Obama — is that the rift between those GOP-primary voters who support Mitt Romney and those who support the current flavor of NotRomney both make the same argument: Each side claims its own candidate is the most electable against Obama.

So far, I have not heard the meme from either camp that if the Other is nominated, We shall sit out the election or vote to reelect President B.O. This is important; one of three men will be the Republican nominee: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum. It would be utterly devastating if, say, Romney supporters said they would not support Gingrich in the general, or if Santorum supporters insisted that if Romney is the nominee, they will sit out the election.

Ridding the nation of Barack Hussein Obama is the single, most important goal that any, non-Leftist could have for the 2012 elections.  At least that is what I thougtht was the most important consideration.

But in the last few days, as poll numbers indicated that Gingrich was leading Romney in the critical state of Florida, a seeming conspiracy of otherwise reliably conservative media figures have rained down a hurricane of scorn and venom on Gingrich.

Big Lizards continues:

In 2008, I know a lot of conservatives and libertarians who were so enraged that none of their own was nominated that they did in fact refuse to vote for McCain; most just stayed home, but a few actually voted for Obama in a fit of pique. While I don’t believe that was determinative — Obamunism would have won the day anyway — it might not have been such a butt-whupping, and the Democrats might not have ended up with such a stranglehold on the Senate. In fact, I believe angry, anti-liberal “protest-voting” handed us ObamaCare and the Trillion Dollar Spree.

This is the very thing that I fear is now in the process of occurring.

For instance, I am a regular reader of the conservative blog, Powerline.   In the last week or so, however, I have been shocked and baffled at the contempt emanating from John Hinderaker over the rise of Gingrich in the polls.   Hinderaker created a minor firestorm on the blog by calling Gingrich supporters “delusional.” The National Review Online has taken it upon itself to be a veritable Kwik-E-Mart for Gingrich opposition research, recounting his days as Speaker of the House and criticisms of Ronald Reagan.   Ann Coulter, normally the most conservative pundit this side of Planet Earth, has taken to Mitt Romney and launched her own attacks on Gingrich, seemingly on cue.   This morning, The Drudge Report carried banner headlines about Gingrich’s past criticisms of Reagan and inconsistencies.

Since I started paying attention to presidential politics in 1980, I cannot recall the knives coming out like this against any GOP candidate by conservatives.   Perhaps our more senior readers can compare this with the rain of fire upon Barry Goldwater in 1964.

In any event, I think the attacks on Gingrich are so voluminous and so over the top that they risk the very kind of splintered vote that Big Lizards and others fear.   I would be the first to point out Gingrich’s many failings and shortcomings.   I am not comfortable with his character as evidenced by his serial infidelities.   His ego could go toe-to-toe with Obama’s narcissism any day.   He has taken anti-conservative and Big Government positions in the past which he now denounces.   The list goes on.   But a similarly long, though different, list could be made about Romney’s shortcomings.   Can conservatives trust either one to govern in a conservative manner?   Probably not.    That’s why we need a reliably conservative Congress (House and Senate) in 2013 to keep whomever gets elected in check and on track.

But what conservatives like Hinderaker and Coulter and others are doing is approaching scorched earth.   I suppose they are driven by a near-fanatical desire to see Obama go down in defeat in November and, so, they are convinced that Gingrich as nominee is unelectable.   Maybe so.  But unless these commentators have powers of prophecy or a crystal ball, no one can say for sure who is electable in America, circa 2012.    The critics are risking a severe backlash, and by that I mean a deep resentment that conservatives were railroaded into a Romney candidacy.    If that happens, we may very well see another 2008 where a sizable chunk of conservative voters refuse to go along with the Mitt Machine and these critics, who acted so desperately out of fear of Obama getting re-elected will have accomplished the very thing they dreaded by their own desperation.

And I will close here with a prediction:  if Romney wins the nomination under the kind of duress being applied right now by some commentators and he loses to Obama, there will be a third party in America in 2013.   It will mark the beginning of the end for the Republican Party as the conservative rank and file will finally bolt the GOP in droves.

Nostradamus Predicts Economic Rebound on November 7, 2012

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 1 month ago

How bad have things gotten for President Obama?

So bad that even the slavish State Run Media are beginning to point out the obvious fibs and flaws in  Obama’s September 8th speech to Congress.

The Associated Press notes here at least four instances of fibbing by Obama in the speech.  The lede paragraph alone is something that we would not have seen even 10 months ago:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s promise Thursday that everything in his jobs plan will be paid for rests on highly iffy propositions.

It will only be paid for if a committee he can’t control does his bidding, if Congress puts that into law and if leaders in the future – the ones who will feel the fiscal pinch of his proposals – don’t roll it back.

The AP article points out that Obama’s claim that his new calls for stimulus spending will be fully paid for is unlikely at best given the reliance on a future Congress and president to come up with the money and/or cuts.   Obama’s assertion that his proposals have all been supported by Republicans at one time or another is also a distortion that does not take into account the changed circumstances of the economy and the federal deficits, nor Republican opposition to these very proposals.   The AP correctly notes that Obama’s claim that the new stimulus measures “will not add to the deficit” is patently untrue: since federal revenues are completely absorbed by defense and entitlement spending, any additional spending on stimulus can only come from borrowed (i.e. deficit) funds.  Finally, the AP calls out Obama on his claim that the new stimulus will create immediate employment as several of the proposals, such as the “infrastructure bank,” will take months if not years to set up.

In addition, as we saw with Stimulus I, even Obama admitted that there were no “shovel ready jobs” as he expected.  Repairs of roads, bridges, highway projects all take time to plan and implement and, given the contraction in the construction industry over the last, few years, it is quite possible that any infrastructure jobs that are ready to implement now will be given to the few, remaining companies that have managed to stay alive.   And we can never discount the crony factor when huge amounts of federal dollars are being doled out.   Much of that money will wind up in the pockets of political supporters rather than creating any new jobs.

But the Associated Press is not alone.

The New York Times and CNBC are pointing out the inherent weakness in Obama’s plan to jump start the economy.   CNBC reprints an article from the NYT printed September 10, 2011 titled, “Employers Say Jobs Plan Won’t Lead to Hiring Spur.”

The dismal state of the economy is the main reason many companies are reluctant to hire workers, and few executives are saying that President Obama’s jobs plan — while welcomed — will change their minds any time soon.

That sentiment was echoed across numerous industries by executives in companies big and small on Friday, underscoring the challenge for the Obama administration as it tries to encourage hiring and perk up the moribund economy.

The plan failed to generate any optimism on Wall Street as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average each fell about 2.7 percent.

As President Obama faced an uphill battle in Congress to win support even for portions of the plan, many employers dismissed the notion that any particular tax break or incentive would be persuasive. Instead, they said they tended to hire more workers or expand when the economy improved.

This is such a fundamental concept of business that it amazes me that a president of the United States could not grasp it.  As a small business owner myself, I can attest to the fact that no amount of payroll tax breaks or tax credits would induce me to hire an employee that I do not need.  In a business that is functioning normally — i.e., not skewed by cronyism, subsidies or other factors that distort profit-loss considerations– hiring is driven by demand for products or services that cannot be met with current staffing.  A tax break or credit, particularly one that is temporary, is not a reason to hire.

So this is the tectonic divide between the Obamas of the world and The Rest of Us.   In Obama’s unshakeable faith in the Keynesian Religion, the only answer, always and forever, is stimulus.   He simply cannot see that the biggest obstacle to hiring is the very government action to which he is irrevocably committed. For The Rest of Us, a government that is imposing a huge, yet-to-be understood healthcare mandate, spending us and the next 3 generations into debt oblivion, corrupting the natural order of free markets in competition for customers and innovation, and going out of its way to demonize the “rich,” punish them and redistribute wealth to the unproductive class of society is ample reason to hunker down, save up your cash (or convert to hard assets), hire no one you will have to be regulated for, and wait out the storm of insanity that is Washington, D.C. right now.

Allow me to suggest two actions the government could take that could produce dramatic effects on the economy:  repealing Obamacare (or at least waiving its effects for all 50 states as suggested by Romney), and lifting most of the federal restrictions and bans on domestic energy production.   On this second point, the economic impact of oil and gas production (to say nothing of coal and nuclear) is astounding: both Texas and North Dakota (North Dakota!) have seen huge increases in employment due to a booming oil and gas industry exploiting both old wells and new ones with the process of hydraulic fracturing.

And to show that this boom is not limited to what we think of as the typical oil and gas states like Texas, there is this article from The Dayton Daily News that sketches the outlines of just how vast the natural gas reserves in Ohio might be:

DAYTON — Ohio appears on the cusp of a 21st-century oil and gas boom that could net tens of thousands of new jobs and perhaps build a foundation for new industry, proponents say. The source is natural gas-rich shale rock beneath three-quarters of the state.

***

The Utica Shale, which geologists say has yet to be fully analyzed, extends westward across three-quarters of the state from Ohio’s eastern border, state estimates show. It also lies under New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

It could extend to Montgomery County, but drilling potential remains unknown. Chesapeake said it will increase drilling rigs in the Utica to 20 by the end of 2012 and 40 by 2014.

This year, the state opened up parks and other public land to drilling over opposition from environmentalists.

It might seem a stretch that Ohio could profit from a boom based on oil and gas, an industry with roots here that date to the 19th century. But a new boom appears possible if Pennsylvania’s recent experience with new drilling in another formation, the Marcellus Shale, is any guide. The Marcellus has a smaller footprint in Ohio than the Utica and lies beneath Ohio’s easternmost counties.

Pennsylvania is weathering an iffy economy well, with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent. Its share of the Marcellus is helping. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry issued its estimate this month that natural-gas and crude oil extraction and related industries created 72,000 new hires from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2011.

It’s too tricky to attribute all the hires to new drilling, said Tim McElhinny, an analyst with the department. But there are so many new hires that a portion must be due to the Marcellus. Those jobs include well drilling, engineering, trucking, highway and bridge building, testing, metal fabrication and new government hires.

The jump in employment in the core gas industries — extraction, drilling and pipeline work — is smaller but nevertheless doubled to 18,837 from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2010.

For the immediate future, it looks like the eastern third of Ohio and the Marcellus Shale is where the action will occur. But longer term, besides offering job opportunities to out-of-work or underemployed residents, low-cost natural gas from the Utica could fuel industrial redevelopment in Ohio, propoponents say.

The U.S. Geological Survey in August updated its estimates for the Marcellus Shale region underlying New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, saying it contains 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, recoverable natural gas, vastly more than thought nearly a decade ago in large part because of new drilling and extraction technology. The last government assessment in 2002 suggested about 2 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The Utica Shale, some experts believe, could be bigger still. Tom Stewart, executive vice president for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said more drilling and analysis is needed to fully comprehend the Utica.

Consider for a moment the vast increase of estimated gas reserves cited above:  from 2 trillion in 2002 to 84 trillion as of August 2011.  This is only covering the Marcellus Shale formation.  The Utica Shale formation “could be bigger still.”

And lest anyone think that the impact of these dramatic discoveries is limited to the energy industry, the article notes:

Also promising have been expressions of interest by the chemical industry about locating close to a rich supply of low-cost, natural gas. New Ohio natural gas could be a key feedstock of chemical production, Stewart said. That could prove a rich spin-off from the finds, he said.

Natural gas has been touted by some as a potential transitional energy source to renewables because it’s a cleaner fuel than coal and has reduced impact on climate change.

Ignore the bit about “climate change” which is bunk.  Nonetheless, few people in the U.S. today realize that our economic salvation is at hand.  I hope to post an article in the near future on the amazing energy wealth that has been discovered in the U.S., but for now it is enough to say that the advances in technology hold out the very real potential to revolutionize our economy with cheap and abundant oil and natural gas.   Beyond the huge number of new jobs in the industry itself nationwide, estimated by some at 1 million in the next seven years, imagine the many ripple effects.   Even the very announcement of a new policy to fully tap into our energy resources is enough to significantly affect the global price of oil and bring down U.S. energy costs, effectively pumping billions of dollars into the economy.   As the price of oil goes down, the money flowing to fascist states like Iran is severely restricted.   Want to bring down the tyrants in Tehran?  Bring the price of oil down to even $60 per barrel and the Mullahs’ economy crashes and burns.

Of course, this kind of commitment to energy independence is not going to happen under this Administration.  Nor is any, other sensible plan going to emerge that would free up private enterprise and restore the shaky nerves of consumers.   So, barring a dramatic change at the White House, it is time to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm.   We will all have to wait until November 7, 2012, the day after the national elections.   Assuming that the American people come to their senses and reject Obama for a second term, I am officially putting on my Nostradamus hat and predicting, here and now, that the economy will begin a dramatic comeback from that point onward.


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