With Senator Spector jumping to the Democratic brand, we will have the legislative and executive branch firmly in the hands of the Democrats. Unless, the Democratic leadership cannot trust it’s rank and file, the trillion dollar agenda that will beggar our grandchildren can not proceed unobstructed. Won’t even be a need for the charade of “reconciliation” to push this agenda through. And, most of all, Obama can shed the pretense that he is president and revert to this true calling as prime minister (or secretary general).
Have it all! Canadian-style single payer health care. Cap and trade. And, the next time Obama meets the king of Saudi Arabia, he needs not stop at a bow; go on, go all the way, the royal crotch was only another six inches away. Chavez, Castro, Kim, Ahmadinejad, your reservation at the Lincoln Bedrooms awaits.
Spread the wealth? Spread away. Why stop at 90% AIG-style tax rates? If you making $250K per year, you’re rich enough. Everything above that belongs to the feds (and by extension ACORN).
And, we can all be greener than Kermit. The folks out in Pennsylvania will now really have a reason to be bitter when our carbon-free future throws them all out into the unemployment line when their coal mines are shut down. All they will have, then, is their guns and religion to cling to.
Torture “truth” commissions? Why stop there? Call up Robespierre and the Committee for Public Safety. Why stop with some DOJ lawyers who nobody can remember? How about Rove? Heck, why not Cheney or even W?
Hyperbole? Hopefully no, but stripping away some of the sarcasm, everything in this post has happened. Obama did bow to a king. Obama talked about more than cap and trade. He talked about bankrupting new coal fired generation plants. He talked about checking your tire pressure as an alternative to drilling for more oil.Pelosi is pushing for a “truth” commission.
Ninty percent tax rate? Such a thing existed from the 1930’s until the 1960’s. The top marginal rate then remained at 70 percent until the Reagan tax cut of 1981. The Obama, Reid, Pelosi trioka are just testing the waters. They’re getting us used to the word “trillion.” And, to banana republic economics; the ones that issue paper money that has the feel of Monopoly money. First it was taxing away the AIG bonuses. Again testing the waters to see if we’re ready for settling for the mediocracy of “free” health care in exchange for having everything over $250,000 taxed away since that’s rich enough.
But, there is a silver lining to all of this. Now, Obama and the Democrats will be in complete, and I mean complete, ownership of this mess. The high taxes, prolonged recession (?depression) and the hyperinflation.
War and tortue should be subjects abhorrent to those who value the protections and benefits of a constitutional republic and the rights secured by the Bill of Rights. We carefully parse the law to the nth degree in every capital punishment case. It may take ten or more years to bring such a case to its conclusion with the execution of a criminal. But, a single soldier with an automatic weapon or machine gun, a pilot releasing a cluster bomb, can kill more people in a mere instant than our criminal justice system will do in ten years of executing criminals.
In like fashion, torture, or some enhanced interrogation technique, very rapidly crosses the line over the right to not self-incriminate.
It is why it is best to treat acts of war as such and not as criminal proceeding. And, it is why it is best to conduct these acts of war far from our shores and our citizens. There are some acts, forced by extreme necessity that need to be, in every respect, utterly circumscribed.
Our country is populated with millions of military veterans, all decent and honorable people, who would care not to reflect on some of their actions when in combat. Actions made necessary by the desperation that is combat.
Yet, in this less than perfect world, evil people force otherwise peaceable people to undertake morally ambiguous actions. Actions, regardless of the immediate circumstances, that good people will never be comfortable reflecting upon in more comfortable times.
Further, in the hands of good people, these morally ambiguous actions are recognized as such. Which is why there are only applied in the most extreme of circumstances. The alleged “torture” of al Queda terrorists was not gratuitous sadism with the intent of coercing a “confession” for use in some propaganda show trial. Rather, it was applied to specific persons with the reasonable expectation that they did indeed possess specific and critical information needed to stop further terror acts and thereby save lives of innocent people. There simply is no moral equivalence between what the United States did with these interrogation techniques and the torture visited upon political prisoners in Stalin’s purges or Castro’s prisons. Or, despite our humane treatment of prisoners of war in our custody, the torture visited on our POW’s in the hands of the Japanese, North Koreans or North Vietnamese.
Then, there are the specific factors of specific circumstances. We’ve all, in taking Ethics 101 in college, debated the classic senario of a ticking atomic bomb in the middle of Manhattan, set to explode in one hour. And, we debated the ethics of torturing a prisoner, who knows the whereabouts of said bomb. Is it right to tortue? To what degree? Is it right to commit one atrocity to prevent an even greater atrocity?
I debated such in my own midnight dorm room bull sessions back in the late 1970’s. Back when the nuclear club was indeed very exclusive and the senario of a terrorist organization capable of such a situation was indeed very hypotheticalal. Today, this is no longer a hypotheticalal. We have a death-cult ideology, that is Islam, that would do such a thing in a heart beat. The death toll of 9/11 was only 3000 only because these terrorists could only commandeer civilian aircraft; not atom bombs. Now, we have the Taliban making moves to entirely destabilize nuclear-armed Pakistan and potentially gain excess to those very weapons. Millennials now with the means to really deliver.
If our Ethics 101 senario did indeed happen today (and, it’s very plausible), would those charged with national security be morally obligated to even pull out every finger nail to find that bomb? Or, would you be content to just inform that terrorist of his Miranda rights?
But, Obama, in his overweening sense of moral superiority and self-righteousness probably never gave the above the slightest thought. That beyond the immediate bounds of the current debate on waterboarding, there is a bigger question to be answered. That question is that there are times when good people must commit to morally ambiguous actions that they, in their worst nightmares, would never even dream of doing, because of pressing and real concerns that evil, even greater than their actions, must be stopped. And, now people who were never directly in the maw of those front line decisions will, years later, second guess with the threat of criminal prosecutions.
Additionally, along the lines of Monica Lewinsky, this controversy now becomes an issue that will so consume Washington as to consume Obama’s agenda. Bill Clinton had an opportunity to create a durable center-left governing coalition. But, Clinton along with his partisan fellow-travelers decided, in 1992, that the millennium arrived and decided to push as far left as possible. And, that was before Clinton’s own proclivities intruded with his extra-curricular sexual appetites and escapades finally ground down any agenda in the bonfire of the Lewinsky impeachment scandal.
And, here is the “scandal” that will grind Obama’s agenda to a halt. Releasing these so-called torture memos is an act of a narcissist so impressed with himself and his mission that he will sacrifice national security with a distraction of banana republic-style show trials. It is yet another example as to Obama’s lack of executive experience and fitness to lead. True executive experience would have informed Obama to pace and prioritize his agenda. To build public confidence in his leadership by systematically building a record of accomplishment and then using the record to pitch further agendas to a public more confident and more reassured of his leadership capacity. True leadership and executive experience would have also informed Obama that there are just some items that will distract you from the really big, important stuff. There are items that you just let go; its just not worth it. True leadership and executive experience means making choices and saying “no.”
Getting through this economic meltdown should be his only priority. He does that successfully, and he’s going to have the running room to put forth the rest of his agenda.
It is possible, at this late date, that if Obama gets in front of this problem and flat out says no to hearings, prosecutions, commissions or investigations that he could quell the firestorm he just touched off. But, even then, there will be a residual of distrust. As it stands, we have the makings of 41 GOP senate votes to make each and every filibuster now stand. This issue, if not ended quickly and definitively, will indeed result in open warfare on the Senate floor with scorched parliamentary tactics that will freeze the entire Obama agenda. Making, ultimately, Obama’s four years as president a mere asterisk as the first black president. Even Senator Reid realizes that; which is why he’s trying to tamp down Speaker Pelosi’s “truth” commissions. No, this is not (yet) a banana republic. This is a constitutional republic of constrained powers. Prime Minister Obama better start realizing that Alinsky is not a good governing role model.
Barry O, prime minister of the world, is now going to solve our traffic jams with high speed rail. The brilliance of the guy just doesn’t stop. Here it is, the solution, heretofore hidden from the rest of us lesser mortals, until his superior intellect hits on the idea and makes it clear to rest of us. But, somewhere along the way Obama missed why the railroads got out of the passenger business–and unloaded Amtrak on us. And, why intraurban mass transit it a horrible money loser propped up only by tax subsidies.
Let’s start with the logistics. Mass transit, of any type, depends on a lot of people going to and from the same destination at about the same time. This requires densely populated corridors or two terminuses that have a lot of like minded people–like minded in that they want to travel to and from these two terminuses.
Moreover, one must account for the fact that you don’t just travel from train station to train station (or airport to airport for that matter), but you must come from your home or place of business and ultimately arrive at another such destination such as a hotel or another place of business. So, you step off your high speed train and you still may be miles from your ultimate destination.
From my own experience, if I can reach a particular destination in four hours by car, it’s probably faster to do that than take the train or plane. Simply because the time spent getting to, through and out of an airport more than makes up for the time saved by the actual flying. Also, once you get to your destination, you’re going to need a car anyway. If you drove, you have one. If you flew, that’s even more time waiting for the car rental bus to transport you to the far reaches of the airport to get said rental.
Interurban high speed rail has the same limitations at either terminus. But, even at 150 miles per hour, said train is going to be about half as fast as the plane.
Which gets us to speed. You’re going to have to build trackage parallel to the existing trackage. The existing trackage is completely saturated with freight traffic. More importantly, the current trackage cannot support rail trackage if excess of about 80 miles per hour; about what you can do on the interstate highway system. The high speed trains that run in Europe and Japan run on special trackage that will actually support train speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour. In sum, Obama’s high speed rail will need a parallel rail system solely dedicated to these high speed trains.
By the way, the cost of materials is about $100 per foot of track. Then there’s the cost of labor and cost of the underlying right-of-way. Here as of 2003. One rail is going to run you about $20 per foot. A standard 200 foot wide right of way works out to about 24 acres of land per mile.
The next limitation is that European rail solutions will not work here. Naturally, Obama and his bi-coastal elites think anything European is naturally superior. But, on the practical side, Europe is generally crowded and densely populated. Therefore, you are going to have a lot of people filling the criteria of a lot of people going to the same places at the same time. Moreover, Europe is smaller making distances traveled shorter. The overall effect is shorter, more heavily travelled corridors making such high speed rail a consideration. And, there are such corridors in the United States; the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington being the best example. By some mysterious coincidence train service exists there. With the Acela Express leading the was with an average speed of 80 mph; it being impossible to get the money or past the NIMBY’s to construct trackage for exclusive use by the Acela. So kiss 150 mph speed good bye.
Here’s the map from the White House web site showing the rest of the high speed corridors “envisioned” for the future. You find a lot of the trackage is going to go over a lot of empty land. Take a look at the Houston/New Orleans route; a lot of that goes over swamp just like the current Interstate 10. Then there’s the Texarkana/Little Rock corridor. Wow, must be lots of folks who need to get to the Bill Clinton Library. Oh, and there’s that Tulsa/Oklahoma City corridor.
The fact of the matter is that the US has an overall population density of less than 100 persons per square mile. Far less than the population densities of Europe or Japan that have hundreds if not over a thousand persons per square mile. Our transportation system is reliant on the car for that simple reason–population densities are too low to make mass transit viable except in some select urban corridors. Highways are cheaper to construct and maintain. Highways allow people to travel at will, thereby eliminating the need to try to schedule or run train schedules that would result in very expensive conveyances with only one or two passengers. For the really long haul, it’s far cheaper to pave two miles of concrete at each end of the trip; they’re call runways.
Our transport system is the reflection of the efforts of thousands of civil engineers and tens of millions of the traveling public who already worked through all of the above. Yet, in their supreme arrogance, Obama and his toadies seems to think they have hit on a solution that has somehow eluded the rest of us since the invention of the wheel.
The really sad thing is that all of the above is already apparent to Obama. But, all Obama cares about is coming up with any excuse to stiff our great-grandchildren as much spending as that quick little mind between those big ears can gin up.
Let’s just put the concept to rest; that global warming is bad. Long before the emergence of SUV’s the earth has warmed and cooled. Probably secondarily to solar activity. The biggest advances in human civilization occurred during periods of warming. Longer growing seasons, more more land, further north, available for settling and cultivation and so on. Here we see a case that some of greatest advances in civilization occurred during such periods of warm. The Roman warming, from 300 B.C. to 400 A.D. coincided with the rise of Rome and the Pax Romana. And, when earth starting cooling in 400 A.D. tribes from the north were pushed against the boundaries of Rome. Rome fell and the dark ages commenced.
In general, a rough pattern emerges. Civilizational advances during times of warming and contractions during times of cooling. Rome and the Pax Romana rose during the Roman warming only do fall with the onset of the dark ages in 400 A.D. The Medieval warming from 900 A.D. to 1300 A.D. I would submit one of the factors that led to the Renaissance. Now, since the end of the little Ice age since about 1850 is our current warming period with its contaminant advances in science, technology and prosperity.
It all makes sense. Cooling periods make less land available for food production and living. Relative scarcity and crowding will lead, as it did, to famines and plagues. And death.
So, given that some of these past warming periods greatly exceeded our current warming period, we have very little evidence that we have anything approaching a crisis. In fact, the historical record would clearly show that warming periods produced untold benefit for the human race and cooling periods the reverse. Of course, the bi-coastal elite trust-fund babies aren’t terribly worried that they will have to suffer the least privation that lesser humans will have to bear with the next cooling.
Let’s look at what the EPA now wants to regulate in the name of global warming–nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons. These are gases released from volcanoes. Go to Yellowstone National Park and smell the rotten egg smell around the geysers near Old Faithful. Yes, sulfur compounds. Naturally released from volcanic activity that existed from time immemorial. Long before an SUV ever graced the roads of Yellowstone NP. (Lake Yellowstone is actually a super-volcano caldera.) Maybe, in the name of global warming, Albert Gore needs to pave over Old Faithful.
And, the EPA wants to regulate methane and carbon dioxide. The former is what we fart out and the latter what we breathe out. We are going to regulate farts and breath.
So, what we really have is a whole political movement based on fraud. Not only is global warming not a problem, it historically has been times of some of the greatest advances in the human condition. The warm that we now have is something to be welcomed and cherished; for hard times, dark and cold will come again.
The purpose of this fraud? Global warming is the latest manifestation of a rapacious governing class, and their fellow travelers, to gin up a rationalization for even more power and revenue. A rapaciousness so out of control that it will create any myth with only the thinnest veneer of “science” to create an excuse to regulate an newly discovered “health menace” and to impose an economy killing tax known as cap-and-trade. Even if this regulation, at its core, is to regulate farts and breath. Farts and breath.
The Easter Sunday rescue of the skipper, Richard Phillips, of the SS Maersk Alabama was exactly how piracy should be handled. My only criticism, outside allowances to tactical considerations of our SEALs on the spot, was the slowness in response. The order, from Obama, of shooting only in the face of “imminent” harm, belies a fundamental mindset that these pirates are somehow entitled to due process. Certainly, a brilliant Harvard lawyer, like Obama, should be aware of the fundamental legalities that were worked out by the ancient Romans that pirates operate outside any civilized norms and deserve not of the courtesies afforded to people who choose to subscribe to those civilized norms. There is only one policy, one solution, to piracy–summary execution.
But, though the outcome was positive–a failed piracy attempt, our crew alive and free and three dead pirates–Obama backed into this happy outcome. His order of “imminent” harm gave away the game. It was Obama, prime minister to the world, that crafted that order. What Obama, president of the United States should have immediately recognized was that it was American sovereignty under attack, it was protections of the Bill of Rights for America’s citizens that were under attack. It was these principles that were paramount and required immediate and muscular defense. It is these principles that take precedence over even the lives of the crew. Had this attack come from a governmental entity on the Horn of Africa, this would constitute an blatant act of war. Along the Horn of Africa, Geneva Conventions don’t apply; these are non-uniformed combatants who don’t even deserve Gitmo.
And, so, we have a lot of luck that allowed a happy conclusion to l’affaire Alabama. Obama still has the legacy of a robust Navy that actually had assets in the area that could be brought to bear rapidly. Obama had the advantage that American individualism is still the norm and this allowed a successful repelling of the pirate takeover. And, of course, was the brave actions of the skipper, Phillips, who was able to spare his crew and ship and move the venue to a lifeboat. Finally, thanks to the Navy, Phillips was kept at sea which made his eventual rescue so much more easy.
We also had the luck that this pirate takeover took the pirates by surprise since the usual script, a passive surrender by the crew, did not occur.
But, the ante is now raised. Unless there is strong follow-up resulting in the repeated forceful repellings of pirates by American flagged and/or crewed ships, these pirates are going to specifically seek out American ships if for no other reason than to kill Americans in revenge. The long term result is that the American military is going to need to more than double down in supressing piracy along the Horn of Africa. This is going to include action at sea and direct military intervention against the pirate’s land bases.
The pirates lost nothing last Sunday. The three pirates killed were bottom feeders in the pirate chain of command; completely expendable. Nor, did last Sunday’s rescue, measurably dent the pirate operations; certainly not the profitability of these piracy operations.
Unless, the US Navy significantly ramps up its operations, there’s just too much money for last Sunday’s setback to serve as a deterrent. Moreover, this money isn’t just buying a lot of cars, whores and booze for the pirate warlords. A significant fraction of this money is making its way into the hands of Islamic terrorists. These pirate warlords only exist at the sufferance of what passes for governmental authority in Somalia. A sufferance purchased by cutting Islamic Imperialism in on the profits.
Which brings us to the final point. Self defense. Like something that fires lead; not those idiot devices like slippery foam that sounds like a project out of the Dangerous Book for Boys. I suspect that part of the successful repelling of the pirates off of the Alabama was facilitated by a stray pistol or two in the duffels of the Alabama’s crew. Oh yes, those things aren’t allowed by company policy so we’ll probably never know. But, especially when its your butt on the line, gun restrictions and guns laws are largely observed in the breach.
Now, every American is now going to carry a particularly steep price on his head; those that aren’t killed outright when the next American flagship is successfully boarded. Which means that our government is going to have to actually trust that individual Americans can defend themselves responsibly. (A fact more than amply supported by our experiences with “shall-issue” concealed handgun permits.) We are going to need to arm our merchant ships and our merchant marine. A modern naval cruiser traveling at 35 knots (about 40 mph) is going to be unable to respond fast enough. That means that this high seas criminality is going to have to be dealt with on a “retail” level. That is, merchant crews, trained to spot a boarding and, with lethal force, repel such boardings. The administration and State Department is going to have to insist that armed merchant ships and armed American merchantmen will be allowed access to foreign ports.
Also, handling piracy on an immediate level has a way of preventing these incidents from blowing up into major international crisises. Imagine how much different the history of the last eight years would be if the pilots of the four 9/11 airliners were armed. Everyone used to make a big deal about resisting a hijacking. And, guns, heaven forfend! We’d have airliners blowing up and crashing out of the sky! Which was just what happened on 9/11. In the same fashion, there would be no international incident with an American warship involved had the Maersk Alabama been armed. Just the bodies of four dead pirates to be quietly kicked overboard.
Obama better enjoy last Sunday’s victory. It isn’t going to last long unless he’s willing to follow through.
There was a reason our founding fathers posited a requirement in the US Constitution that the President of the United States be a natural born citizen. And, Obama proves the point. Only by luck of his American citizen unwed mother getting knocked up in Hawaii did Obama make the grade. But, while technically a natural born US citizen, Obama has displayed all of the characteristics of a third-world cabinet minister (and I mean that comparison is a very negative sense); an EU or UN grandee. Moreover, this is not an affectation, but an ingrained, reflexive characteristic of a man who simply knows nothing else.
And, like the “bitter” comments, Obama’s bow to the king of Saudi Arabia probably wasn’t planned. Or, planned in a manner to specifically offend American audiences. Rather, it was an act that came to Obama naturally; an act of a third world cabinet minister showing the obeisance due to such a potentiate such as the king of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it was beyond the incompetence of his staff that failed to brief Obama; probably not even imagining that Obama would be so unschooled in such etiquette that Americans do not bow to anyone.
Tens of thousands of Americans lie dead, having taken up arms to defend that very point. Starting with the dead that lay upon the Lexington Green in April 1775, we fought for a concept of liberty and equality that recognized that no one before God and before the institutions of our Republic stands above another. To hold an office of public trust only, temporarily, as the first among peers. But, never your superior. For, in reality, the electorate is ultimately your boss.
But, Obama never grew up in that environment. From the ages of six to ten, those first formative years as an elementary school student, were spent in Indonesia. A Muslim country, with a Muslim father where the young Obama was listed on governmental records as a Muslim. This was not the usual issue where the children of, say, military personnel, are schooled in American schools with a sense of America even in that foreign land. An island of America thousands of miles from home. Obama even attended a madrass during this period. I doubt that the young Obama, though technically a natural born US citizen, in those first ten years of life had any sense of being American.
And, so, this foreigner comes of age in America. He is attracted to socialism which is a truly foreign concept to America and American exceptionalism. Socialism arose in Europe in an environment of rigid social stratifications of royalty. Socialism was the disaffected’s answer, the rabble rouser’s answer to overturn that rigid social stratification. But, to overturn that rigid stratification with a new one with the once rabble rouser securely now occupying those upper tiers of that new system. Merely a coup to displace the old power structure with a new equally authoritarian power structure. One, in an egalitarian veneer, dispenses with such labels as king, duke or count and now replaces is with “minister of” or “president.”
So, our young, impressionable Obama seeks the company of vogue Marxist professors and aging radicals such as Ayers. He seeks a political system, the Chicago machine, that functions like a third-world banana republic. He seek religious solace from the like of Reverend Wright; who’s anti-semitism and anti-Americanism is the closest “Christian” theology to Islam.
But, along the way, Obama missed out on why those thousands of American now lie dead on countless battlefields; Lexington, Concord, Antietim, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Cantigny, Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, Normandy, Bastogne. Obama missed out on the concept of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as being gifts of God (not Allah). He missed out on the fundamental concept, reinforced by the conceit of an Ivy League education, that government is a servant of the people to create a framework of order and law to allow each individual to achieve his best. That it is the efforts of millions of individuals that define the state and not the state that defines the individual.
But, for all of his life, Obama lived outside that experience. And, instead of an American, an equal, with the authority of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights behind him, prime minister Obama subordinated the greatness that is America. Subordinated the blood of thousands of Americans who made our founding documents more than just parchment and prostrated himself to a king.