The President and ISIL

With recent pushes into Kurdish territory and the beheading of 21 Christians in Libya, there is a growing fear that ISIL is growing more and more powerful. The President has asked for an authorization for the use of military force (finally). I’ll get to that in a moment. But my first concern is that he’s been making the argument, yet again, that ISIL doesn’t represent “real” Islam, even dragging out the old arguments about the Crusades as a moral equivalence.

The thing is that ISIL doesn’t agree with him. They are not like Al-Qaeda, which was an amorphous terrorist movement dedicated to bringing about the caliphate but operating within the modern world. ISIL wants to create the caliphate right now and the caliphate they want to create is violent, barbaric, medieval and based heavily on old-school Islam and literal interpretations of the Koran:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

(You really should read that entire article. Think Regress has posted a lame response that basically ignores Wood’s point: that while many Muslims don’t take the Koran’s more violent texts at face value, organizations like ISIL do.)

When the President says that violent extremists like ISIL are not the real face of Islam, he is both right and wrong. The face of Islam can be one of tolerance and peace. But it can also be one of intolerance and violence. Islam has gone through periods of enlightenment and gone through periods of horrific fundamentalism. At this point in history, it hangs in the balance caught between hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims and violent sects that, while a minority, wields enormous power and influence. We’ve seen in pre-war Afghanistan and in the ISIL-controlled territory what these people want: beheadings, slavery, crucifixion, stoning. Their ideology recognizes no authority other than “pure” radical Islam. Whether they represent a minority or not is beside the point. The Nazis were never a majority in Germany. The Communists were never a majority in the countries they ruled with an iron fist. But they were able to control massive parts of the world and enormous armies through violence, intimidation and bloodshed.

The “most Muslims are good” argument, while based in truth, has no practical meaning. Most Germans are good people. We still had to defeat them in two wars. Most Russians are good people. We still had to fight a dangerous and tense Cold War against the Soviet Union. Most Japanese are good people. We still had to drop two atom bombs on them. It doesn’t really matter what the vast majority want when the monsters have the floor. The problem is that while most people are good, they are also easily persuaded or coerced to do bad things or stand aside while bad things are done. This is true of everyone in the world. There is not a religion or country that isn’t capable of doing horrible things. The question is: who is in charge? We’ve seen what happens when people like ISIL are in charge: entire regions of the world become unspeakably violent.

The President has finally asked Congress to recognize the semi-war we’ve been fighting for a while. I think they should do so, but with some limitations. A land war is not necessarily going to solve ISIL (although letting them overrun Baghdad or Kurdistan — as they’ve threatened to — would be a disaster). In fact, it could play right into their apocalyptic prophecies. But I do know that we can not disengage. It’s important that we keep ISIL and AQ from reconciling (which the President’s rescue attempt threatened to do). The longer ISIL survives and the more territory they conquer, the more legitimacy and power they will accumulate in the eyes of radical Muslims. Stopping them might mean air support, training, weapons and/or money to the forces opposing ISIL. If that means what we end up propping up one side in a bloody decades-long struggle for the soul of Islam … well, that’s what it means. We have a national interest in preventing the rise of ISIL to a real caliphate. The only way it will end is when this supposed peaceful majority rises up and ends it.

Suggestion Box

I wanted this post to be a collaborative effort involving the other main authors, a pooling of ideas if you will in an attempt to resuscitate a dying blog, but was unsuccessful in reaching out, so everything that follows is of my own doing (thus offering plausible deniability for the others).

Although the writing was clearly on the wall, Section8 ‘s comment a few days ago put a face on it (figuratively), and identified the obvious, namely that what was once a great thriving vibrant blog, as turned dull and barren. Although I understand the sentiment of the comment, he is wrong when he says ,” Conservative interest left this place a long time ago”. We, OK, I continue the fight when I feel so inspired to post here, which I admit has become less and less urgent. I also don’t think it is time to bail, although I get that sentiment as well, it is hard watching the patient wither away with only a feeding tube and heart monitor to keep him company.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is the way the blog is being administered. It has very basic structural deficiencies which makes it cumbersome for the users. All the author tools we had before for comments (hyperlinks, quotes, bolding, italics, and the all important EDIT button) disappeared. The PM (private messaging) service is bollocks, a useful tool for contacting members individually and something that I used regularly, now broken and unusable. The CONTACT button is also useless, said comment getting lost in cyberspace.

Part of the problem, is the paucity of contributing authors and comment worthy posts. A post a day, sometimes less, hardly promotes the type of traffic successful blogs get. I admit that in this area I am part of the problem, often finding post worthy topics but end with ,”Why bother?”, and go on to something else.

Part of the problem is the practices exhibited at times that drives regulars to leave. Although some could say that the ease at which they capitulate and flee says more about them and their convictions of argument, I would prefer that all would feel welcome, that pejoratives like “idiot” and “moron” be used less often, and more effort be made understanding the comment and not the motives behind it. Several of our old regulars, guys like Thrill, Mook, Blameme, Salinger, Kimpost (although given the state of Sweden nowadays I figured he just converted and spends all his free time praying to Allah) they have moved on, pity.

The other day I went to my local library, and attempted to register on the site as a new user. The last step involved the site emailing a password so I could log in and post comments, guess what? No email. This tells me that if somebody new stumbles on our site, likes what we offer and wants to become a regular, he can’t do it, no new members allowed, more evidence of a broken blog.

OK, here’s the deal, assuming it is even possible to fix these things, to make a more user friendly site and allow new members to join (maybe Hal has admin tools or someone knows a guy who knows a guy, etc.,etc.) what do you guys think we can do to up the traffic? Are there any suggestions coming to mind as to either content or individual postings? Do we need more authors? What could we be doing that we are not doing now?

I am coming at this from a frame of mind that I care about this blog (having been around since pretty much day one) and am tired of it getting sand kicked in its face. Maybe the handful of regulars are happy with the status quo and don’t welcome change. If that is the case, we can that it, we can do nothing and limp along. Some blogs exist out there with no readership, just some mope writing stuff to write. We are not far from that.

Any ideas?

Insurance is Not Healthcare

For a long time, conservatives and libertarians have been pointing out that Obamacare has come at a steep price for the insured. Not only are health insurance premiums rising, but the new plans cover less, demand healthcare within ever-shifting networks of approved providers and foist larger out-of-pocket expenses on patients.

Well, looks like the New York Times finally figured this out:

A study by the Commonwealth Fund this month found that the rise in health insurance premiums in employer-based plans had slowed in 31 states since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (good news, right?). But premiums were still rising faster than median incomes (hmm). More important, perhaps, the researchers found that patients were paying more in health care expenses than ever before, during a time of stagnant wages (not so great). In fact, nearly 10 percent of median household income now goes to pay premiums and deductibles, the study found. And that does not include other kinds of health payments that patients now encounter, such as co-pays and uncovered drugs or services.

A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 46 percent of Americans said they had trouble affording health care, up 10 percentage points in just one year. Some of the cost problems may ease as patients — now known as health care consumers — learn what to expect and how to choose and navigate their plans.

In other words, premiums slowed down … but only because out-of-pocket expenses increased. On balance, that might not be such a bad thing. I’ve long advocated high-deductible plans as a way to bring the healthcare consumer back into the picture. David Goldhill once pointed out that if we replaced Medicaid with a high-deductible plan, we’d save enough money to give every poor person a voucher to cover their deductible.

But this isn’t the high-deductible idea. This is creating a hyper-regulated marketplace in which insurers are expected to provide “reasonably priced” health insurance to everyone, no matter how sick they may be. So doctors flit in and out of approved networks. Out-of-state clinics come to be preferred over in-state ones. And all of this is enforced with the threats of massive bills if you don’t do the insurance company’s bidding. And if you do their bidding, you’re still facing far larger healthcare bills than you were dealing with before Obamacare.

All of this was predictable of course. You simply can not expand health care coverage to ten million people — many of whom couldn’t get coverage because of expensive medical conditions — and not have it make insurance more expensive. We warned people about this for years. We had concrete examples of this in places like New York and Massachusetts. And yet everyone is acting all surprised when they discover that healthcare isn’t free.

Note one thing the story leaves out: the increasing number of doctors who are refusing to see Medicaid patients. Medicaid expansion is a big reason the Obama Administration can claim that they’ve insured ten million people. Only a couple of million have gotten private insurance thanks to Obamacare; most are in the Medicaid gulag.

Given the media’s lag, I expect we’ll start seeing stories about that in about 2019, at which point it will be blamed on President Walker.

Addendum: You may remember that a big pillar of Obamacare was that it would be paid for, in part by the savings from Electronic Healthcare Records. Yeah, that’s not working out either. Again, this was predicted. The one thing we all knew going into this was that EHRs are very expensive.

Penal-tax bites the single-payer loving turds

Knowing full well what the repercussions at the polls will be once Americans figure out how fucked they are by Obamacare and the taxes hidden as fines and penalties that are part and parcel of this government takeover of the healthcare system, democrats likely impacted during the next election cycle are asking for rule breaks. It looks like the law that had to be passed so people could find out what was in it, has a few seriously frightening hiccups in it that worry these collectivists that passed it:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The official sign-up season for President Barack Obama’s health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance.

Three senior House members told The Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year.

The three are Michigan’s Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama’s law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.

The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it’s already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.

That means they could wind up uninsured for another year, only to owe substantially higher fines in 2016. The fines are collected through the income tax system.

Mind you, that I am quite sure that only an idiot should believe these scoundrels are concerned about the impact this government sponsored Leviathan has on the serfs. This faux concern is fueled solely by their self-preservation instincts. If they really were worried about how Obamacare was going to squeeze people, they would never have passed that steaming pile of shit in the first place. People are going to freak out when they realize how hard this law will screw them over come tax time. Of course, most of them will deserve the painful discovery that they are now slammed with new taxes, hiding as fees and penalties, since they were stupid enough to think other people would be paying for this “free shit”. The taxman cometh!

This year is the first time ordinary Americans will experience the complicated interactions between the health care law and taxes. Based on congressional analysis, tax preparation giant H&R Block says roughly 4 million uninsured people will pay penalties.

The IRS has warned that health-care related issues will make its job harder this filing season and taxpayers should be prepared for long call-center hold times, particularly since the GOP-led Congress has been loath to approve more money for the agency.

If we ever needed another reason to scrap the current tax system and institute a flat tax, this crap from the politically motivated IRS should make due.

Obamacare: the gift that keeps on giving.

Kitzhaber Out

The governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, has reportedly resigned. The reason is that his fiance, a member of his energy task force, was getting tens of thousands of dollar of undisclosed consulting fees from energy interests. You can read the details here. This is all from “clean energy” concerns, by the way, including the involvement of liberal billionaire Tom Steyer.

Keep this in mind the next time someone starts ranting about the Koch Brothers and evil oil money.

The left must really be desperate

The desperate leftards at WaPo have written an idiotic article which seems to basically be impugning Scott Walker’s credentials to be POTUS because he of all things dropped out of college. As Donald Trump points out, this reeks of desperation when these fucking idiots have tried to make a mountain out of this molehill when they have basically conveniently ignored far more for the asshole in the WH.

You have to wonder if these people simply lack common sense, a moral compass, or intelligence. Me, I think it is all of the above. Credentialed twerps that got their indoctrination and marching orders from the marxism infested academic swamps they now want to pretend one needs a seal of approval from to qualify for success doing a desperate projection, is all we have here. Maybe these morons would love for everyone to forget that getting credentialed by the Ivy league hasn’t really served us well, while successfully kick the living shit of marxist cock suckers in a seriously blue state.

BTW, George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan, all successful presidents that accomplished great things, also had no college degrees, while the fucking douchebag Manchurian candidate now in the WH is credited with all sorts of useless academic bullshit. The left is desperate, and I am loving the tears!

UNEXPECTEDLY! They spend a shitload again

We have had discussions here about the fact that the Obama administration has presided over an unprecedented growth of deficit spending and US debt. Most of us have pointed out things are not good and heading in the wrong direction. Some have argued otherwise. This administration looks like it wanted to settle the argument once and for all:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government ran a bigger deficit in January, pushing the imbalance so far this budget year up 6.2 percent from the same period a year ago.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday the deficit for January stood at $17.5 billion compared to $10.3 billion a year ago. For the first four months of the budget year that began in October, the deficit widened to $194.2 billion from $182.8 billion during the same period last year.

The budget deficit has gradually narrowed since 2012, which was the fourth straight year in which it topped the $1 trillion mark. The improvement reflects the country’s economic recovery from recession. The government is seeing higher tax revenues as people go back to work and smaller payments for safety-net programs such as unemployment assistance. It also represents efforts by Congress to control deficits through higher taxes and across-the-board spending cuts.

First off, the AP political hacks are full of shit when they pretend there has been an economic recovery of any kind. These assholes have been playing fast and loose with the numbers for 6 years now to convince people that the idiotic tax and spend, big government nanny-state, central planned practices favored by the collectivists in charge, actually work. But the facts are that the only people doing well are the super-rich and the freeloaders. And of course the political class has really raked in the dough and drastically expanded their ability to lord it over us serfs. The middle class however, is getting hammered. The number of employed people in this country is at an all-time low, and the trending shows that it will go lower despite all the efforts to pretend otherwise. The number of freeloaders has also hit a new record, and the trending shows that it will continue to go up. The really rich, the people the left loves to pretend to hate, are raking in the cash. The country is being invaded, by design, and with help from the nanny-state entities in our government that want to fundamentally change the balance of power by making the freeloader class undefeatable at the polls. That’s “social justice” and the signs of an economic recovery for the left I guess.

Recovery my fucking ass. And the government is raking in a ton of cash in taxes despite their actions and efforts, mostly by fucking over businesses and the upper middle class. The point that should never be lost is that the left will never lower spending. These excuse makers responsible for this propaganda piece masquerading as news all but admit that they are cool with the insane jump in spending, because the tax revenue is up! The label “Tax and spend” is absolutely accurate. I bet they saw a projected 3% jump in revenue, so they did a 6.2% jump in spending. That’s what leviathan does.

We need to get rid of the collectivists and dismantle the “vote for a living” state they have created before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Impotence Rendering

The right wing blogosphere is literally on fire over a report (trying to confirm it as these things tend to take on a life of it’s own) that the Marines guarding our Yemen Embassy were ordered to give up their weapons to the local rabble;

Central Command reportedly is furious over a State Department order that Marines guarding the U.S. Embassy in Yemen were told by the State Department to turn their rifles over to Yemeni officials before boarding a private plane to evacuate the country, Fox News reports.

The order is humiliating to Marines, who are essentially being told to break an oath they take during training, Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, told Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File.”

“We’re surrendering our embassy. And now we’re asking U.S. Marines to surrender their dignity, give up oaths they made, creeds that they lived by, and surrender their rifle,” Hegseth said. “I’m no Marine, but I know a lot of them and fought alongside a lot of them. Without their rifle they are nothing. They are taught you never give that up.”

The Rifleman’s Creed reads, in part, “My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.”

You can see some of the video here;

This duplicity never exists in a vacuum, so once exposed the tap dancing ensued;

Fox News later reported that the Marine Corps clarified that no “crew-served weapons” were turned over to anyone, but were destroyed at the embassy before the evacuation. “They say their personal weapons were not destroyed at the embassy. They were instead ‘rendered inoperable’ at the airport and the destroyed components were left behind at the airport,” Megyn Kelly said.

Like that is any better? This action still renders the Marine as useless since he is without his weapon. The symbolism of destroying the weapons first, rendering them inoperable rings hollow and is laughable on it’s face. And how about the destruction of government property? What signal does that send? More taxpayer money pissed away by grocery clerks at the State Dept. with way too much power and a distorted sense of their own self worth.

Honestly, I am so sick of the Obama minions politicizing our military and making it a laughing stock around the world. Again, stuff this outrageous needs verification but if it went down as portrayed here, heads really need to role. But they won’t, more humiliation from the income re distributor.

GoreSat Finally Orbits

One of my pet peeves is the contention that conservatives and Republicans are “anti-science” while liberals and Democrats are “pro-science”. Having been in the field for twenty years, I’ve observed little difference in how well science is funded under the two parties, with a slight bias in favor of Republicans. And while it’s true that Republicans are more dubious of science on the big topics du jour — global warming and evolution — that doesn’t mean they are more anti-science in general. When it comes to GMOs, vaccines or nuclear power, the Left is way more anti-science.

My dislike of this meme is embodied in the person of Algore, who has a reputation as this great scientific mind but has always crossed me as a poser: someone who pretends to be a friend of science because he wants to look smart (and, in his case, wants to advance a big government agenda). He wrote a well-praised book — Earth in the Balance — that was shredded in P.J. O’Rourke in All The Trouble in the World and proved to be massively wrong on many issues. He touted a plan to move the United States to alternative energy within ten years that was total science fiction. His advocacy on global warming — hypocritical advocacy — touted doomsday scenarios and marginal studies. It was ultimately a disservice to the climate debate.

But if you want Algore in a nutshell, I give you the Triana satellite, a version of which was launched today. Triana started with this crackpot idea of Gore’s to have a satellite launched which would sit in the L1 Lagrange point and take pictures of the Earth. That’s it. It would take pictures of the Earth to “raise awareness” of our climate. NASA devoted $100 million to this boondoggle, without any peer review, and desperately tried to get scientists to find some use for it. The best they could come up with measuring Earth’s albedo and cloud patterns, although Triana was not what you would have designed with that science program in mind. When the SOHO spacecraft was having trouble, they came up with a plan to put instruments on it to measure solar activity, since the L1 point is good for that.

Triana was mothballed after Bush won the White House but was resurrected by Obama. The satellite — now named DSCOVR — has been revamped so that its primary mission is to measure solar storms and provide and early warning of space weather. The Earth picture thing is an afterthought. Notice that’s NASA’s video doesn’t mention Algore’s original Triana mission at all.

If anyone other than Algore had proposed Triana, burned $100 million on it and had NASA scramble to find an actual scientific use for it, they would have been laughingstock. But today the press is filled with stories about how this is Algore’s “dream” even though his original proposal had nothing to do with DSCOVR’s primary mission.

DSCOVR is a good mission and I’m glad it launched today. I’m even gladder that it was launched by SpaceX. Space weather is a serious issue and we desperately need to address the impact that a severe solar storm could have on our planet (think about a world-wide power grid meltdown to get the picture). But let’s not pretend this has anything to do with Algore. This is NASA making some very good lemonade from a $100 million lemon.

Go Divest Yourself

When I was in college, “divestment” was a big thing. The idea was that colleges, which generally have nine or more figure endowments, should use their investments to bring political pressure on social issues, pulling their money away from “bad” companies and putting it into good ones.

As a rule, colleges and universities are reluctant to do this because the purpose of the endowment is to fund the school, not play politics. And once you start playing that game, you get lost in a morass of conflicting political squabbles trying to figure out which companies aren’t going to annoy some segment of the student population. But that didn’t stop student organizations from constantly agitating to divest from … well, whatever they were mad about that week. In my senior year, they were pressuring my college to divest from the Mall of America. Not because it was a shitty investment but because they had a Hooters there, if you can imagine such a thing. Because I’m sure the one thing that would persuade the Mall of America to boot out a profitable business was a for a small liberal arts college to pull their investment.

It turns out that, in the last twenty years, student organizations have only gotten stupider:

We have covered anti-Israel student government divestment votes the past couple of years.

Groups, typically led by Students for Justice in Palestine assisted by Jewish Voice for Peace, try to get student governments to vote to divest from specified companies doing business in Israel, such as Caterpillar and HP. Sometimes they succeed, mostly they fail. In the end, it’s purely symbolic, since student governments have no such power.

Symbolism matters, though, because the campus movement is part of a larger goal of demonizing and dehumanizing Jewish Israelis. Even when they lose a vote, the BDS crowd claims victory because they forced people to talk about their issue.

Last academic year there were a series of divestment initiatives that failed, but recently in the U. California system, several have passed. The anti-Israel groups are very strategic, taking the time to elect their supporters to student councils, and that long-term strategy has paid off in places like UCLA, which rejected divestment last spring, only to see it pass this fall after a change of board membership.

One thing that slowly is coming to light, however, is that the anti-Israel movement is not the grassroots, student-led movement it purports to be. In fact, it has a highly coordinated, well-funded action plan assisted and coordinated by outside groups.

Over $42 million has been designated for this kind of agitation, including money from the Students for Justice for Palestine, who featured a terrorist at their 2012 conference. Those of you old enough to remember the Cold War may remember that the Communists did the same thing: funding “grass roots” organizations to advance their agenda.

That’s not even the worst part:

The anti-Israel movement had another success today, at the University of California system-wide Student Council, where two divestment motions passed, 9-1-6.

The first Resolution was the usual divestment from Israel, and the Israel motion was the focus of heated protest.

Inside, the anti-Israel students also voted to support a boycott of the U.S., among other countries, through a second Resolution calling for divestment from American, Mexican, Russian, Turkish, Indonesian, Brazilian, Sri Lankan, and Egyptian government bonds.

Yes. The U Cal student government has called on the university to divest from America. As Jacobson points out, if you’re going to define Israel’s actions as worthy of divestment, you’re going to have to divest from basically the entire world.

There’s no crazy like student crazy.

Update: Speaking of divestment idiots.