Monday, July 6, 2015

San Diego vs. Chargers - All Over But the Divorce Decree

Mayor Faulconer appears to have played a weak hand badly with regards to negotiations with the Chargers, if his goal was to keep the Chargers in San Diego.  Jeffrey Siniard has been covering the situation at
Mistakes made by the City of San Diego:
1. Mayor Faulconer and his staff got in over their heads the moment they didn't realize how much pressure the Chargers were under to make a deal, and assumed it was primarily an attempt by the Chargers to manufacture leverage.
2. A better understanding of the situation by Falconer and his staff could have led to an earlier City/County partnership, earlier hiring of negotiating experts, who then could've worked with CSAG to produce a polished offer in shorter time.
3. Instead of ignoring all of the noise coming from the Chargers, the City has instead chosen to respond in kind, which abets the Chargers "We have to Los Angeles" narrative.
But I also agree with Siniard said earlier in the same article, Falulconer's main goal seems to be to avoid blame should the Chargers leave town.  Charger attorney Fabiani's overheated rhetoric serves that end so well, it makes you wonder if it isn't a conspiracy.

In a more recent post Siniard argues that the December election is a sure loser for the City:
- There is no solution the Chargers and/or the NFL will accept in San Diego for 2015. Stop trying to come up with one. Much as people want the Chargers to accept San Diego's idea, they are a private business and are under no obligation to accept it.
- All of the options presented by San Diego for getting around the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) carry a significant degree of risk from a successful lawsuit, or take too long to complete for a vote in 2015.
- Furthermore, no deal in San Diego can beat the deal the Chargers have put together with the Raiders in Carson. Until that option disappears, there's no reason for the Chargers and/or Raiders to negotiate in good faith with their home markets. The Chargers and Raiders are going to see how Los Angeles plays out this year. They'd be stupid to do otherwise.
I have argued that there is no way the Chargers can remain in town, because we will never be able to compete with Los Angeles in terms of what the city gives away to the team.  Siniard take the view that the only way to keep the Chargers here is to apply pressure on the NFL. But he is clear that it only buys some time for an election to be held during "prime time" that would have a chance of passing a plan that would satisfy the Chargers.  Too many ifs, in my opinion; better to just let the team walk rather than divert leadership attention from other pressing problems.

Qualcomm Stadium By Intersofia at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0], from Wikimedia Commons

What You Should Be Reading:

  • The Voice of San Diego, because even if they are left of center, they break important stories.  It's called journalism and the national press should take notice.  Going after Dumanis in today's edition with more great investigative work

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Taking Sides in a Religious Civil War

In order to to not offend Muslims, the President has taken pains to try to distance himself from the idea that we are fighting a religious war, so as not to offend Muslim allies.  This is understandable, but shows a lack of understanding of the true nature of the problem.  His administration has taken to saying silly things such as ISIS is not truly Islamic.  This could not be further from the truth, ISIS is nothing if not Islamic.  Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to have a doctorate in Islamic studies and certainly speaks with the rhetorical flourishes characteristic of a learned Muslim scholar.  Graeme Wood's excellent article in the Atlantic says this about ISIS' Islamic pedigree.
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.
. . .
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
Essentially, ISIS represents a sect of Islam that is different but related to Salafism, a Sunni sect.  We are witnessing a civil war within Arab Islam that has ethnic and tribal components as well, typical of any civil war.  We are choosing to take sides in this religious civil war, because it is in our national interest to do so. We make no judgment about the theological correctness of any side. We merely seek the defeat of those who have pledged destruction of us and our allies.  In Islamic thought, there is no distinction between the political and the religious, so when we attack ISIS' conception of political rule, we engage in a religious war whether we like it or not.

CDR Salamander's shorter summary, "Often, it isn't what you think about religion that matters, it is what the other guy thinks."

The harder question is what to do about the problem.  By taking sides in the conflict, we risk granting moral authority to ISIS which can correctly claim that America, (the Great Satan or some such term for infidels) is supporting other forms of Islam.  The obvious inference is that the Salafist Saudis or Shiite Iraqis are therefore tainted by our help.  This tends to draw recruits to ISIS sides, because in the 21st Century, people appear to be craving the moral certainty such a brand of religion brings.

Failure to intervene works against our interest as it brings to power a religious and political movement inimical to our goals of stability and peace throughout the world.  From the same Graeme Wood article:
Abu Baraa, who maintains a YouTube channel about Islamic law, says the caliph, Baghdadi, cannot negotiate or recognize borders, and must continually make war, or he will remove himself from Islam.
This is a classic wicked problem, defined as such because any attempt to solve the problem only seems to make the problem worse.  The best option appears to be to provide support to those reliable allies such as the Kurds who won't be tainted by U.S. help.  Putting boots on the ground only as a last resort to prevent catastrophes would also be necessary.  Finally, given the Caliphate's (ISIS' term for itself) need to continually be at war, a slow bleed of its resources and war making capacity is needed.  This would mean bypassing the national Iraqi army, as equipment destined for that sorry group only ends up captured and use by ISIS.  But in the end, we have to acknowledge that this is a religious war with political consequences.  We are taking sides to protect our national interest.  It doesn't mean that we have a theological view, just that we care about our own vision of the world order.

But in the longer term, if Western Culture doesn't provide something to offer beyond nihilism, we will be defeated by the likes of this man. (See this and this.)

The Caliph has studied Islam more than you have.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Battle Hymn of the Republic - Memorial Day

I hope you are enjoying Memorial Day.  Take a moment to read Mark Steyn's short history of the Battle Hymn of The Republic and enjoy this video from Judy Collins.  The Civil War imbued the ideals of America with deeper meaning that Lincoln summed in the Second Inaugural address.  This song is one of the great songs to come out of that conflict.

What You Should Be Reading

  • Mark Steyn, of course, because he nails the meaning of America in ways that we native born seem to miss.
  • If you are a Christian, Dalrock (this and this), who seems to stand almost alone in fighting the feminist assault on the church.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Insurance Costs, ER Visits Up Under ACA - Uninsured? Not So Much

As I have said before, that the left's "solutions" to problems only creates more problems for government to solve is just icing on the cake for them.  Today's Case: The ironically named Affordable Care Act (ACA) was supposed to reign in medical costs, reduce emergency room use and end the tragedy of lack of coverage in America.  How are we doing?

First, health insurance costs (from the WSJ):
Health Insurers Seek Hefty Rate Boosts
Major insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law, setting the stage for an intense debate this summer over the law’s impact.
In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25%.
All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act.
Emergency Room Visit Reductions (from USA Today):
Contrary to goals, ER visits rise under ObamacareThree-quarters of emergency physicians say they've seen ER patient visits surge since Obamacare took effect — just the opposite of what many Americans expected would happen.
Ending the tragedy of lack of insurance?  According to the widely quoted Kaiser Family Foundation survey on the uninsured the rate of uninsured will go from 17.87% to 14.22%.  So we wrecked the entire insurance market in America for 3.66% of the population and still left four times that number uninsured?  Another way of saying it is that only about one in five uninsured got covered.  That's disgusting.  The whole bill is disgusting.

What You Should Be Reading:

  • CDR Salamander, because he takes on the Diversity Bullies every Thursday.  As he posts in that link, we are having some success.
  • The Rational Male, if you have young men you need to mentor about relationships.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Gavin McInnes Nails It

Being interviewed in the Hollywood Reporter, Gavin McInnes nails my political philosophy (and I don't care if you think he's trolling):
"I am a socially liberal libertarian who is not for open borders," he says. "That's my only problem with libertarians. I want almost no laws, I want the smallest government possible. I don't want anyone telling anyone what to do. But I also see the merit in tradition and I think that women and men are different."
When THR pointed out that this sounds more like a socially conservative position, McInnes laughed. "Yeah, I guess so."
For those who misread yesterday's post, this is my philosophy as well.  We should be free to use social pressure to re-institute a conservative social order that will make the country prosper and become far happier.  But unlike, the left I don't care to impose such a social order through the government. Such a culture is robust and successful that it doesn't need government to impose it, unlike leftism.

If you don't think a lack of social cohesion and purpose is a destroyer of culture, I ask you to ponder this piece by Leon Wolf at RedState bookends quoted here:

There’s a very simple reason why extremist Islam – a culture that is unable on its own merits to progress scientifically beyond the beginning of the 18th century or so – is able in the modern world to consistently embarrass countries possessed of vastly superior military might. That reason is this: extremist Islam believes that it has a claim to a superior message for the world. Christendom no longer does.
. . .
There is a reason that every week brings a new story about a kid raised in comfort here in the West running off to join ISIS, to the shocked dismay of his/her parents. ISIS, at least, presents a front that says that the world and life has objective meaning and that they, ISIS, have a claim to that meaning. Here in the West, by way of contrast, we allow our kids to just float adrift on a sea of meaningless moral relativity and nihilism. As C.S. Lewis noted, the human psyche tends toward rejection of a meaningless explanation for existence – and if the West cannot offer such meaning, people will get it somewhere else.
Leftism is doomed, it will eat the societies it conquers.  The real question is whether we Americans can restore the sense of our exceptionalism based on a Christian culture.

What You Should Be Reading

Monday, May 18, 2015

How Your Support for Gay Marriage is a Threat to Craft Beer

Alternate title:
The Left and Government Sanctioned Destruction of the Culture

The key insight that brings conservatives and libertarians together in an alliance against the left is that liberty in a constitutional republic can only be predicated on a conservative culture. A conservative culture constrains the bounds of behavior so that government can exercise a light touch over a society that will still function properly. This is why the left is seeking to destroy the pillars of conservative culture in America; marriage and family, the Christian church, and the language. This is being accomplished through government aided destruction of those institutions; while simultaneously "solving" the problems so created and simultaneously growing government.  I am not making an accusation of conspiracy; merely stating that there is a shared realization on the part of the leaders of the left, whether intuitive or explicit, that traditional American culture is a bulwark against their desire for a socialist society.  Hence the movements to delegitimize the keepers of this cultural flame.

The Christian religion, and in particular, the Northern European interpretation of it, has led to a culture of individualism. In this interpretation, one's salvation is determined by an individual decision to follow Jesus. This relationship with God, an intensely personal one, without the benefit of an earthly mediator, leads directly to the conclusion that each man and woman is responsible for the ordering of his or her own life within the constraint of belief. This gives the individual the mental freedom to be entrepreneurial which is usually disruptive to the established order.  Further, within this theological understanding, the grace granted by God should lead to good works in this life as evidenced by one's hard work and frugality.  This idea of this Protestant work ethic being related to the rise and success of capitalism is not new, having been proposed by Max Weber in 1905.  There is a natural cultural pairing of Christianity and capitalism, especially in America. The left, which is nothing if not anti-capitalist, naturally views traditional Christian belief as embodied in the conservative church as an enemy.

This Christian culture is not going to survive without actual Christian belief, so the left seeks to attack both Christian belief and institutions at every opportunity.  Gay marriage is only the latest example.  The move to legalize gay marriage was followed without pause by a public campaign of persecution against those who have religious and moral objections to that outcome.  In some cases, the persecution has taken the form of state sanction against bakeries.  The seamless transition to persecution gave the lie to the notion that this was about equal rights. The gay marriage movement was clearly a ploy to delegitimize traditional Christian belief.  In the meantime, there is no parallel movements against Muslim belief, even though Islam is much more harsh in its treatment of gays than Christians. Why? Because the Left sees Muslims as potential allies to attack the traditional Christian culture.

Destroying traditional pillars of culture and morality results in the need for more government control to make up for the lack of self-control in the population. This is a feature, not a bug, of the process of destroying the culture and is embraced by the left. For example, rampant sex between undergraduates on college campuses is the norm today, or so we are led to believe. While perhaps that has always happened to some extent; it was far less in degree and done with far greater discretion in times past.  But since this behavior gives rise to sex under questionable circumstances, we have the California have the California State Legislature considering how to regulate sex on campus. Here is KTCat's take:
Of course, as we all know, freedom isn't free. No, there's a price to be paid for freedom. We must maintain eternal vigilance lest the dark powers of Christian morality and its wretched partner, chivalry, attempt to come back.
Well, vigilance and affirmative consent rules, ruthlessly enforced by the State, that is. After all, we need something to do the job of a national culture based on Judeo-Christian objective morality.
The same groups who demand that government, to include colleges acting in loco parentis, stop prohibiting sex are now those who demand that government become involved in sex at college.  Why the shift?  This has to do primarily with feminism, which seeks the destruction of traditional gender roles in society and is almost always allied with leftism for that reason.  The initial calls to deregulate sex allowed women more sexual freedom.  Coupled with the wide-spread introduction of no-fault divorce, and state support for single mothers; this shifted economic power away from bread-winning males to the state.  (Time precludes a full exposition of this theory, see Dalrock for more detail.) I note that the government has taken to jailing fathers who don't pay child support in fairly large numbers, further shifting power away from men to the government.  This is necessary because it is men who are likely to be the revolutionaries that rise up against state power.  Now, the new change in attitudes with regards to sex on college campuses is to make it easier for women to accuse men of rape and for consequences to be meted out, without the benefit of trial.  Again there is power shifting towards women, who can claim rape without having to go to trial. The shift of power to single women suits the left just fine, because they tend to be reliable supporters of left-wing candidates.  Married women are much more conservative, because the power of government robs their family of provisioning resources, since intact families are much more likely to be paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits from the state.

So how does the left act in power?  They seek to regulate all facets of society to shift ever more power to the government, in the name of protecting the ordinary worker and consumer, often harming those same groups in the process.  It is not a coincidence that the same political groups that set themselves against traditional culture are the ones who also argue for larger government.  I may add examples later, but the fight over uncontrolled illegal immigration has to do with how fast our society can today assimilate immigrants without damaging our current culture.  Those who favor amnesty and open borders that would inevitably bring in more immigrants call their opponents racist; claiming that is the only reason that traditionalists would wish to control immigration. But society can only assimilate immigrates so fast.  So the call for amnesty and open borders is a cal to subvert traditional American culture by overwhelming it with immigrants who have not had the time to assimilate.  For the most part, those supporting amnesty also support increased government spending and regulating, such as the Affordable Care Act. In turn, government spending and regulating is destructive of free markets.  The left consists of an alliance of groups such as union leaders, environmentalists, and feminists seeking to both increase the scope of government and undermine traditional society.  These goals are complimentary not separate.

Which brings me to craft beer.  My observation is that craft beer is largely a pursuit of white males who are just starting to disrupt the current market for beer dominated by large corporations like AB-InBev.  Budweiser's Super Bowl commercial was evidence that the big companies are taking notice.  AB InBev has a large contract with the Teamsters in North America.  If craft beer threatens union jobs, how long before craft brewers come under pressure?  There will be calls to raise wages, to increase regulatory scrutiny and to change alcohol distribution laws to protect the big boys and the union jobs.  (Look at what Walmart endures.)  Further, the whiteness and maleness of the industry will come under attack by the cultural marxists. (Don't believe me, perform a search on "San Diego Craft Brewers Guild" under images and look at the faces in the various pictures.) The guardians of political correctness will seek to make sure that craft beer will be seen as somehow racist or anti-feminist or some other pejorative.  When craft beer is seen as a threat, and that is just starting, then the persecution will begin.

So this is why your support for gay marriage threatens craft beer.  By supporting gay marriage you are joining an alliance that views entrepreneurs, such as craft brewers, as a threat and who wish to destroy the culture that allows free markets to thrive.  You are voting for socialism, whether you like it or not.

Yes, that's a picture of Jesus watching over my craft beer drinking.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Look Who is Opposed to Fracking

So you oppose fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to produce natural gas. Would it surprise you to know that you agree with Vladimir Putin? Just follow the money:
A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. . .
. . .
The foundation
[funded by the Bermuda company] passed those millions along to some of the nation’s most prominent and politically active environmentalist groups. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for American Progress were among the recipients of Sea Change’s $100 million in grants in 2010 and 2011.,
. . .
The Sierra Club, which received nearly $8.5 million from Sea Change in 2010 and 2011, launched its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign the following year. The effort has become one of the largest and best-funded environmentalist campaigns combating fracking and the extraction of natural gas in general.
Russia's interests are served by higher energy prices worldwide, so opposition to U.S. fracking by them is understandable.  All those years of using the KGB to foment propaganda against the West are still being put to use.

Getting beyond ad-hominem attack, I have always believed that environmentalists reflexive opposition to the new technology is based on a hatred of industrialization not a love for the environment. This is clearly the case with fracking and the increased production of natural gas.  Environmentalists should be ecstatic about the use of natural gas, instead we see the Sierra Club launching a campaign against it.  Last year, greenhouse gas emissions from the United States fell to their lowest levels since 1995.  It is well understood that increased use of natural gas to displace coal, has been a key factor in this reduction.   From the MIT Technology Review:
. . . the trend is largely the result of a rapid drop in coal-fired electricity, and a corresponding rise in electricity generated by cleaner fuels, especially natural gas.
You would think this would be cause for cheer amongst green groups. But then, you have to expect it will actual consistency from the environmentalists.

American Heroes, Engaged in Fracking Operations