Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gary Johnson on Entitlements

I promised some thoughts on Gary Johnson's campaign. I have given him some grief for placing the drug war so high on his list on priorities. However, I am in agreement with those positions, I just don't think that it should be the Tea Party's number one concern. I still think that the war on drugs is inconsistent with Tea Party positions. Most interesting to me is how the candidates are approaching the entitlement spending crisis. From Gary Johnson's web site:

MOST PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON SEEM TO THINK that we can control spending and balance the budget without reforming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This is lunacy.

  • Identify and implement common-sense cost savings to place Medicare on a path toward long-term solvency.
  • Block grant Medicare and Medicaid funds to the states, allowing them to innovate, find efficiencies and provide better service at lower cost.
  • Repeal ObamaCare, as well as the failed Medicare prescription drug benefit.
  • Fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth to inflation. It's time for Social Security to reflect today's realities without breaking trust with retirees.
Amen to that brother. However, I think he fudges just a tad on the Medicare issue. People are going to continue to live longer. There are no common-sense cost savings that will reduce Medicare spending unless we turn it into a block grant plan directly to consumers. However, I like his courage in not shrinking from the entitlement issue.

Clearly, we need this man's voice in the debate. Am I all in? No way. Still more research to do. I will also comment more on Johnson later.

More Auto Follies - UPDATE

Dean reports today on the curious machinations of the Obama administration, keeping Chrysler on life support with shady loans to pay of . . . shady loans. (A friend with contacts in the industry told me that it is widely understood in the auto industry that Chrysler will inevitably fold, Daimler stripped it of its engineering talent during its brief sojourn as Daimler-Chrysler.)

Meanwhile, given the heavy tax subsidies involved in purchasing a Chevy Volt, (I have yet to see one on the road) GM dealerships are taking possession of the vehicles themselves, then selling them as "used" to say, Kia dealerships and pocketing the $7500 tax credit. I'm thinking this is all part of the plan? Meanwhile, sales of the popular all electric, or mostly electric, vehicle were a whopping 281 sales in February 2011, nationally. No wonder dealerships are pocketing the quick tax credit revenue rather than sitting on these dogs.

Is there anything in federal government more foul than the tax code? It enriches the insiders and impoverishes the rest of us suckers.


Dean points out in the comments that the vehicle pictured top left is not the Chevy Volt. True, but is GM gaming Google search? When I search on Google images for "Chevy Volt" many pictures of this silver Camaro pop up. However, I should have known better, a car that good looking couldn't have been the Volt. Those Camaro's are fine looking aren't they? Here is an actual Volt, from the GM web site, not quite so stylish.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Union Battle Flag - Civil War.

The blogging has been light over the long weekend, as we spent some time with family. We honor those who have fallen in war today, and offered up their names in prayer. Last year I posted about the origins of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day's origins are rooted in the Civil War, where a larger percentage of nation's young men were killed than in any other American war, before or since. The war was gruesome, long and cruel.
With the death of Osama bin Laden, this Memorial Day I look forward to a plan to reduce our presence in the Middle East, and indeed throughout the globe. I supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Libya, not so much. But the time has come to find an exit strategy from all three wars. Our current strategy in Afghanistan appears to commit us to a never ending commitment. Iraq has an elected government and needs to start working out its own problems. The engagement in Libya is illegal, as I have previously discussed. Once the humanitarian crisis ended, Libya was no longer any of our business.

I am not proposing, immediate unilateral withdrawal in Iraq and Afghanistan, but a clear vision of what the conditions for withdrawal would look like and a plan to get there. Those who have given there lives in the service of their country risked their lives in the belief that they were advancing the ideals of our nation. The sacrifice of blood and treasure that war entails requires clear thinking about the ends intended to be achieved. I know that the Tea Party has famously stayed away from foreign policy issues, but we can all agree that open ended military commitments drain the treasury and burden the tax payer and cause us to pay the greatest price of all, the loss of incredible young men and women who die in their country's service.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Presidential Handicapping - Libertarian Republicans

I have been reviewing the potential Republican candidate for President of late. An angry and anonymous commenter took me to task for ignoring Ron Paul. Further, fellow SLOB, Dueling Barstools, has been supporting Gary Johnon, former governor of New Mexico. I am not enamored of either candidate, but I agree with their positions more closely than any of the other candidates. My reasons are partly due to style and partly due to some heartfelt differences over policy.

Ron Paul is on his third run for President. It is not widely remembered that he was the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988. (On a local note, it is interesting that long time San Diego taxpayer hero, Richard Rider is leaving the LP to register as a Republican.) It is important for the political health of the country that there be a strong libertarian wing in the Republican party, and Ron Paul is certainly the acknowledge leader of that wing. Looking over his positions there is little with which I disagree. A small sample:
  • Taxes: [Paul] supports the elimination of the income tax and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He asserts that Congress had no power to impose a direct income tax and has introduced legislation to repeal of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified on February 3, 1913.
  • Free Trade: [Paul] is a proponent of free trade and rejects protectionism, advocating “conducting open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations.”
  • Border Security: A nation without borders is no nation at all. . . . We must do whatever it takes to control entry into our country before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals.
  • Health Care: There is only one solution that will lead to true health and true freedom: making health care more affordable. Ron Paul believes that only true free market competition will put pressure on the providers and force them to lower their costs to remain in business. Additionally, Ron Paul wants to change the tax code to allow individual Americans to fully deduct all health care costs from their taxes.
However, I am troubled by two issues. First, with respect to the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, Ron Paul said that he wouldn't have given the order to do so. This is a big deal to most Americans. They expect the President to take seriously the fight against Islamist terrorists. Does this mean that our commitment in Afghanistan should be unending? Of course not, but we have the right to wage war on those who have waged war against our country.

Second, Ron Paul comes off like a crank. He is on the right side of the argument on the Federal Reserve, for example, but he always does a bad job making the case. He is so reflexively anti-war that he never acknowledges our need to defend our own interests. He often sees conspiracies all around, which is a frightening mindset in a President. Even in the discussion about health care, he makes the following accusation.
These natural and inexpensive ways of regaining one’s health are being suppressed by the FDA and the medical establishment not because of safety concerns (they’ve been around for hundreds of years), but because they cannot be patented and would therefore cut into the pharmaceutical industry’s profits.
This sort of thing goes to temperament and ability to lead. At the end of the day I am looking for someone who seems more ready to lead than Ron Paul. Would I vote for him over Obama? Of course. In fact, I would be excited that libertarian ideas had taken such a firm foothold. But I would fear that a Ron Paul presidency would be the disaster for libertarianism that Obama's has been for leftism.

Time precludes me from diving into Gary Johnson's candidacy, however, the prominence of the drug issue is a distraction. I need more research to properly evaluate his candidacy.

Back to Ron Paul, I urge fellow Tea Party members and others to explain your concerns with Mr. Paul, as I have heard many of you discuss your misgivings.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rick Perry to Enter the Republican Mix? My Tea Party Perspective

As most of my readers have already read on HotAir and elsewhere, then Rick Perry is considering entering the Presidential race. What would his entry mean from a Tea Party perspective? My first thought is great, more candidates piling in would mean that there is a sense of Obama's vulnerability. As to Perry himself, Erin McPike and Scott Conroy at RealClearPolitics claim that Rick Perry has always been a Tea Party type, even before there was a Tea Party, but is it true?

With regard to taxes, Perry seems to have made the right enemies in Texas, Jason Embry in the Austin Statesman writes:
The economic downturn isn't helping the shortfall, but it's not driving it, either. The driving factor is a decision by Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature in 2006 to reduce property taxes by $14 billion every two years and raise only about $9 billion to replace that money. In other words, the Legislature committed $5 billion every two years to holding down property taxes instead of spending that money on education, public safety or other priorities.
More Tea Party love is showered on the governor by the Dallas Morning News. .
The options are few when it comes to finding $25 billion in the state's budget. Texas already ranks 50th nationally in per-capita state spending, so big cuts will have to come from essential services.
But at the same time, Texas has been an economic powerhouse compared to California and the rest of the nation. According to the Business Journals,

The inventory of private-sector jobs in Texas increased by 732,800 between April 2001 and the same month this year, according to an On Numbers analysis of new federal employment data.

No other state registered an increase of more than 100,000 private-sector jobs during the decade. Only 19 states and the District of Columbia posted any gains at all.

The creation of jobs while state spending to the lowest per person in the nation is the perfect antidote to Obama. OK, I'm starting to think, what's not to like? Maybe this?

In my view, his loose talk of secession is damaging to his potential candidacy. First, this is a settled issue, so it just makes him look like a kook. Second, historically, secession was the chosen instrument used to perpetuate the institution of slavery and the term is tainted with the poison of racism. I firmly believe that the meaning of this nation was reforged in the crucible of the Civil War. We affirmed that the intent of the Founders was to extend the blessings of liberty to all citizens, including those who were then slaves. I am not accusing Governor Perry of racism, but to reopen this debate in any form is a repudiation of a tenet to central to our nation's meaning. If you listen to Rick Perry's other speeches you will hear a man who consistently is standing up against the overreach of the federal government as it encroaches on our liberty. I applaud him for that. He must carefully choose the means he proposes to fight back.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The Tea Party are dedicated to preserving freedoms that are being crushed under an omnipresent federal government. It is our fervent desire to restore that government to its rightful sphere. It has often been a guarantor of freedom in this country and throughout the world. Talk of secession has no place in our movement. I call on Governor Perry to retract his words, so that he can enter the race for President, because his record is exceptional.

Weekend Music Chill

This weekend's music comes from my eldest son's collection. He likes modern updates to he 60s sound. First the Raveonettes from Denmark, with Love in a Trash Can.

I was also going for the Nebulas doing El Barracho, but this band The Eliminators does a creditable job.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Palin Running? Tea Party Torn

You would think so by the Drudge headline: IT'S ON: PALIN HITS TRAIL. But I am still not sure. I'll say this for Sarah Palin, she has learned how to manage her brand. Starting her bus tour by attending a motorcycle rally that serves as a reminder of our POW/MIAs and a patriotic rally is sure to play well to her base and generate enthusiasm for her brand. And I admit I like it a lot. But it doesn't answer the question of whether or not she is running, for reals, as it were. I am balways torn by her, she is so unapologetic for my so many of my core values that I can't help but smile when she zings the media, the left and Obama. But she doesn't inspire my confidence, in the same way that Obama didn't inspire confidence in the 2008 elections.

As much as our side disliked John McCain, I respected him for this, he could wade into a hostile town hall meeting, take tough questions, and provide answers without losing his cool. Neither Obama nor Palin seem able to do so. Obama still can't after two years on the job, and I frankly don't think he is very intelligent.

Meanwhile, Palin is certain to suck down the oxygen in the race for a while with the tour. Too bad. She needs to declare soon, so that we can get down to the nitty-gritty of examining positions, responses to current events and her record. Not finishing her term in Alaska is going to come back to haunt her if she runs. Further, she missed the opportunity to show what she could do as governor, in spite of opposition from her own party or the Democrats. After all, how will it be different as President?

Within the Tea Party movement, there will be no unanimity on Palin's candidacy. Even among the SLOBs here in San Diego, we are seeing wide diversity of opinion. But she sure makes the race more interesting.

Here is the official video for the Rolling Thunder rally.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back in Business - Tea Party Presidential Handicapping

Liberator readers, my apologies for the lack of punditry for the last couple days. I have had a challenging business trip to Charleston, SC with little time to blog. I did sample the local beer tonight, so I look forward to hearing from Dean and Max.

While I was gone, fellow SLOBs Dean and Leslie weighed in on the rapidly changing Republican field, and get out in front of some of my favorite discussion items. First from Dean, is he really warming up to Tim Pawlenty (aka T-Paw) with an article titled Ticking off all the right people? Indeed, Mr. Pawlenty is winning my heart by arguing against ethanol in Iowa, which, as I have lamented before, this is a rare piece of political bravery, and he tops it with pointing out the need for Social Security reform in Florida. From Dean:
We're heartened that Pawlenty is making these kind of statements especially in the territories he is doing so. The timing of them, being the first significant policy statements by any of the prospective GOP field, helps to shape and drive the debate. Energy subsidies and entitlement reform are important topics that we can ill-afford to leave unaddressed.

Temple of Mut points out that there is no "Tea Party" presidential pick, including Palin, I might add and that the Republicans in Congress aren't acting on their promises. If what was reported about Boehner is true, then I may have to rethink my support to date. Debt limit ceiling vote will be a crucial test. She also implores us to take another look at Palin and warns that giving to Bachmann's PAC may not be wise. In the same article, I am also scooped on the Grand Jury report that reached the same conclusion as I did that the new City Hall project was hyped.

Meanwhile, the top headline on Google news is that the top issue in New York 26 special congressional district election that went Democrat is medicare. Left Coast Rebel gives the lie to this tomfoolery. The Democrat winner got 47% of the vote, the Republican 42% and the so-called Tea Party candidate 9%. Hardly a ringing endorsement of liberalism, if you ask me. The Republican party needs candidates who can excite the Tea Party and their base. This didn't appear to be the case. In this climate, I give Pawlenty even more points for pushing on entitlements.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mitch Daniels Out - Leaves a Void

Just heard the news that Mitch Daniels announced he is not running. A 1:00 a.m. Sunday announcement is about as deep as you can try to bury the story. Nice try.

I am more upset than I anticipated. I agree with Indianapolis Star:

Daniels was the one potential candidate from either major party who appeared ready to lead a serious conversation about the immense dangers created by a $14.3 trillion, and still rapidly climbing, national debt.
. . .
Other Republican candidates so far have been too afraid of the possible political fallout
[from discussing Social Security and Medicare] to engage in that much-needed discussion. President Obama, for his part, has done virtually nothing to shore up the major entitlement programs, despite prompting from his own debt commission.

The country is the worse off for not having a candidate in the race who has both the guts to discuss the issue of entitlements sensibly AND the proven executive experience dealing with a state budget.

2012 won't be 2010. The public will want proven experience, having been burned by hopey-changey empty-suited rhetoric. Where is that experience going to come from?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Perpetual Adolescence of Leftists

Dean and others have posted this Reason video on the definition of socialism. It is worth viewing to gain a better understanding of the meaning of socialism. However, the real money quote comes around 4:20 in the video where Kevin Williamson ascribes the continuing romance with socialism to "perpetual adolescence."

I think that he is right in more ways than he even knows. I previously discussed the psychology of leftism and some of that bears repeating in this context. The adolescent, is by definition, immature and dependent, despite outward appearances. Dependence is a form of powerlessness that pervades the psychology of the left. The result is a desire for the Mommy state to take care of everyone, because on their own, the leftist doesn't believe that individuals can overcome the challenges of life. These challenges can be due to circumstance, the need for health care, the need to overcome poverty or racism for example. Or the challenge can be to have the work and life skills to navigate the workplace and marketplace of corporate America. The leftist believes that since those adults in corporate America don't really love them, they need a surrogate Mommy or Daddy, in the form of the government to protect them from life's vicissitudes and from the exploitation of strangers.

The key to the leftist mindset is that they cannot imagine adult to adult relationships, hence the "perpetual adolescence" and immaturity in both political tactics and rhetoric. Libertarians and most Conservatives imagine the world in terms of adult relationships, so we can't understand their mind set. Voluntary transactions require a level of maturity beyond adolescence where life is dominated by the welfare from one's parents and frankly from the school system. Fortunately, in America the rewards that accrue to transcending this childish world view provide incentive so that a minority of Americans are leftists.

Among the leftist elite, there is also a view of powerlessness of a different variety. The leftist elite would like to fill the parental role because even though they are the smartest and most moral, in their view, America's unfair capitalist system reward the filthy grubby skills of entrepreneurs, engineers, managers and anyone else whose skills let them rise to the top of society. Such injustice can only be overcome in a society that elects the elites to rule over the "little people" for their own good. A dictatorship of the proletariat elite, to coin a phrase. You see this in Obama who doesn't understand that doctors don't amputate legs for profits, who thinks businesses aren't hiring just to hurt his administrations chances of re-election, and wants to rule businesses through labor rules because businesses can't be counted on to even pay workers without government oversight. Obama thinks he is the smartest professor who knows what's best for everyone and can't understand why not everyone else agrees. You see this in the mediscare ads, where of course, seniors are too weak and helpless to select their own form of health insurance. Granny is in a wheel chair and the metaphor isn't lost on those of us who think seniors are still citizens, not wards of the state.
From my previous post, where I am quoting another source:
Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives.
. . .
His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.
What this means in practice, I am still working out. But a start would be to consistently point out how the left conceives of citizens as subjects, children or wards of the state. That is not the self image of most Americans and appealing to their inner adult seems a winning proposition.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend Music Chill

I was listening to my eldest son's playlist on the Sonos today, using the downloaded Sonos app for Mrs. Daddy's Samsung Epic. There was quite the variety of surf music, and I particularly like this surf genre update on the guitar classic Malaguena.

Since we love comparing versions, here is my favorite version done in the classic style:

It was one of the few songs without lyrics that can move me to tears.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tea Party Review of Presidential Issues and Priorities 2012

Tea Party types are a divers lot, and even among the small group of SLOBs here in San Diego, there has been much debate over the relative merits of the presumed and declared candidates. In an attempt to impose some ideological purity, which is of course doomed to failure, I offer the following observations.

First and foremost, I would like to remind both the Tea Party and the nation that the biggest threat to our liberty and our prosperity is the unchecked growth of government. Our soaring debt is threatening to crush our ability to grow the economy for the next twenty years. Don't believe me? Look no further than Japan, where the lost decade has stretched to two. They have been piling up debt and big public works during this time to no avail. The only candidates worth looking at have the political will and demonstrated record to deal with this mess. This disqualifies Gingrich, based on his crass and self-serving criticism of Paul Ryan. I think Sarah Palin doesn't fare well by this standard either. Her tenure in Alaska is hardly preparation for dealing with the federal budget, as Alaska is the most socialist part of America except Puerto Rico, due to Alaska's oil revenue.

Closely related to the growth of entitlements, is the growth of both government regulation and bureaucracy. Reversing Obamacare before its main provisions kick in is my most important immediate political goal. Which candidate is going to do so? Do you really think that's Romney, who can't bring himself to disavow his own Massachusetts plan, even though it is proving a failure? Further, any support for the regulatory nightmare of cap and trade should be a non-starter for Tea Party members. Even if you believe in AGW, you would not support cap and trade, because it is inherently ineffective and prone to fraud. This would exclude Pawlenty, for his past support, but to his credit he has recanted. The third leg of this stool is the need to curb the power of government unions. Christie and Daniels stand out for their records in this regard, although.

Reforming the tax code goes hand in hand with reducing the complexity of government. The tax code is just another avenue of regulation of the economy, but one especially prone to manipulation by business interests. It is the source of the sea of special interest money in campaigns. I am looking for candidates supporting a flat tax or scrapping the income tax altogether. I like Herman Cain's support of a national sales tax, mostly because it replaces the income tax.

There is also the matter of focus. Foreign policy is important but not over riding, ditto for social issues. Most Tea Party members will decry Obama's declarations about Israel's borders today, but I submit that this should not be the over riding concern for our movement. In my view, candidates with significantly out of the mainstream views on foreign policy, even if we agree with them, should not receive our support. This excludes Ron Paul from my support. His statement that he wouldn't have targeted bin Laden in Pakistan makes him unelectable, in addition to his overall crankiness. However, see Tim Daniel's analysis of foreign policy issues from our perspective.

One could also take this view on social issues. So Santorum, who has been a vocal social conservative and Gary Johnson, with whom I agree on drug policy, should be viewed with caution. Controversial and distracting social positions takes the focus off the budgetary and regulatory issues that need to be our main focus. Gary Johnson's position on marijuana legalization is already a sideshow threatening to derail his candidacy. In the general election, this will open up a line of attack that will peel away enthusiasm of social conservatives for the Republican nominee. Politics is about coalitions, we need to focus on the core of our coalition, reducing the size and scope of government.

So there you go Tea Partyers, you unofficial chief ideologist has spoken, or at least written. I am sure you will give this all the due deference you give to the edicts of Republican establishment. Good on you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No to Tax Increases in California

I closed my poll on whether or not Republicans should allow a vote on putting tax increases on the ballot over a month ago. Here are the results:
Yes - 2 votes.
No, not without pension reform - 7 votes.
No, use leverage to prevent tax increases - 2 votes.

Sorry that the screen capture is so small, click to enlarge.

Last month's action by Jerry Brown to allow prison guards to cash in all of their unused vacation days has put an additional $600 million whole in the California budget. From George Will:
Henceforth, guards can cash out at retirement an unlimited number of unused vacation days. Most California employees can monetize only 80 accrued days. Many guards will receive lump sums exceeding $100,000. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that guards possess time worth $600 million. The union contributed almost $2 million to Brown’s 2010 campaign.
So the consensus that Brown wouldn't do squat to reign in unions was correct.

Here's the official Tea Party position, "Vote no tax increases in this state."

Quote of the Week

From Vincent Carroll in the Denver Post:
Newt Gingrich is a morally challenged, self-important opportunist who last weekend dismissed the House Republicans' Medicare reform with the equivalent of a Bronx cheer.

Ruling Class Arrogance

Doo Doo Economics has an excellent post dissecting the arrogance of prominent tax cheat Timothy Geithner, in his speech at Harvard on May 17. He lies about the debt ceiling, mischaracterizes the constitution, and tells us peons, too bad, Obama's "reforms" have screwed you forever. And oh by the way, I am so much smarter than all of you. Great analysis by a fellow SLOB. Time to remind ourselves of what we can accomplish when we rise up against oppression.

California Tax Day Tea Party from Lipstick Underground on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just Waiting

Family time tonight, so light blogging. Frankly, I am just waiting for Mitch Daniels to tell us if he is running. I am unhappy about his ethanol stand, but think that a Daniels-Christy ticket crushes Obama-Biden on all fronts. He has a great record other than ethanol and he has the experience necessary, that Obama still lacks even after two years on the job.

But let their be no doubt, Obama is so execrable as President, that I would work to elect Romney, if he were the Republican nominee. I care deeply and passionately about repealing Obamacare. That's going to take a Republican President and a Senate majority. A filibuster proof Senate would be nice, but repeal, by defunding would make me happy.

Saw that Democrats called Congressman Paul Ryan a "coward" for not running for the Wisconsin Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl (D). Clear indication that he is being super effective as chair of the House Budget committee. But what babies, as if calling Ryan a name will dare him to do something stupid.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Help For Small Businesses in San Diego?

Lorie Zapf and Tony Young have released a Small Business Assistance Package designed to help small businesses cut through the red tape of city government and get the local economy growing. The effort is in part the result of an outreach effort by Zapf to small businesses. Some key provisions.

1. Code Compliance Amnesty
2. Small Business Liaison / Code Compliance Representative
3. Reinstitute Regulatory Relief Days
4. Business Improvement District Enhancement/Small Business Policy Innovation Zones
5. Implement Sunset Clauses in Business Regulations
I am not a business owner, but the details sound good. Helping business expand is just what we need. Driving around this district, I see too many vacant storefronts and lots. Had some questions as well.

1. Why can't small businesses always be granted time to correct code violations? Why just an amnesty period?

2. The Innovation Zone proposal states in part: ". . .expediting permits within the zone, lifting sign ordinance restrictions within the zone and creating specific programmatic EIRs (or some variation) for the zone." It is a sad state of affairs that permit expediting is needed at all. Since tax revenue accrues to growing businesses, one would think that hiring more staff to expedite permits would pay for itself through increased tax revenue. Is there a flaw in my thinking?

3. Sunset clauses are one of the best ways to prevent regulatory creep, because it keeps the regulators on the defensive defending the need to regulate. Why couldn't this be a California amendment?

This is good work from our council member, good to see her fighting the good fight.

Thought I had the scoop on this item, but it looks like the U-T beat me to the punch. News 8 as well.

Cross-posted to sdrostra.

Newt Beclowns Himself

HotAir has the full dish, but Newt Gingrich appears to be self destructing already. His criticism of Paul Ryan's proposals generated a little hate and discontent from an Iowa Republican who suggested “Get out now before you make a bigger fool of yourself,” This seemed a fitting follow up to my previous post. From HotAir:
Philip Klein adds a good point to deepen the mystery: Why would a guy like Newt whose brand has always been about Big Bold Solutions criticize Ryan for offering … a big bold solution? (Especially one which Newt himself once seemed to support.) His best argument against the rest of the field was that he’s always been willing to consider radical policy alternatives that more timid conservatives wouldn’t; now Ryan comes along trying to solve the entitlements crisis and suddenly Gingrich goes cold.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Presidential Handicapping

Now that Huckabee is out of the race, and Romney, Pawlenty and Gingrich are in, it is shaping up to be an interesting contest to unseat Barack Obama. I have not doubt that the Republicans can nominate a candidate that can beat Obama, but will their penchant for establishment types kill their efforts (think Bob Dole in '96)? The big question mark is still Mitch Daniels, IMHO. That he is a threat is indicated by the press his wife is receiving over leaving their marriage and returning. This is clearly a warning to him that his wife will have to pay a high price if he runs, which tells me that the Democrats fear his candidacy.

Of course, one could opine at this point that there is not a single candidate who can win the Republican nomination, but obviously someone will. First, I hope it's not the guy on the right:

And this guy clearly has issues:

If you can watch the last video without gagging or laughing, more power to you. Flip-flopper? Mitt? No way. Romney missed his moment in 2008. He could have run as an experienced businessman who understood the economic mess, instead he went faux-social conservative and people saw right through it, because it didn't fit. There is a life lesson in there.

Meanwhile, many people in the Tea Party love Sarah Palin, but I can't tell if she is running in earnest. I don't think she will be successful if she does. Here's why, running for President is a team sport. Her celebrity style of operation means that she hasn't really built the full team needed for the marathon that is the Presidential campaign. (This is what Obama does have going for him, an experienced and successful campaign team.)

Chris Christie appears sincere in taking himself out of the running. I would love to see him on the ticket as the Veep; watching him smack down Biden in a debate would be pure cotton candy. Not very nutritious but dang, a lot of fun.

Which brings me to the mid-westerners Pawlenty and Daniels. I was horrified at Pawlenty's performance in the South Carolina debate. I just don't get where his base is. Being the governor of a slightly left leaning state is a handicap in the Republican race, because he has taken positions aren't all that Tea Party:
. . . he shows on a softer side on issues like mass transit, education, and the environment (especially global warming). He favored a 75-cent cigarette tax -- he claimed, with the agreement of the Minnesota court system, that it was a "user fee" -- and even advocated a statewide smoking ban. And Pawlenty overrode his normal free-market tendencies to support the importation of price-controlled prescription drugs from Canada.
(As an aside, why is supporting free trade in drugs from Canada not free market? I am all in favor, because it would cause the artificial price controls on drugs in Canada to collapse, ending in effect, a U.S. subsidy of their market.) But after Pawlenty's debate performance and adopting a fake southern drawl, I see the guy in the same light as Romney, not quite certain enough of his own brand to vigorously promote it.

Finally, Daniels has supported ethanol, anathema to me, but maybe not so much to the rest of the party. What might hurt him are the social issues "truce" remarks he has made. We still see a segment of the Republican party for which this is important. Daniels' actual record is of a very socially conservative person, his signing of the Indiana abortion law and defunding Planned Parenthood may insulate him.

I know that Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are more pure in their Libertarian/Tea Party leanings than some other candidates I have discussed. I can't see Ron Paul winning with remarks on bin Laden (a President Paul wouldn't have gone into Pakistan to kill bin Laden). Gary Johnson is not too well known and has been out of politics for awhile.

There you have it. No one is going to be nominated by the Republicans, remember you heard it here first.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Big Oil Kabuki*


Senator Rockefeller and fellow Democrats engaged in Kabuki theater on Capitol Hill today, hammering oil company execs for the misdeed of making profits when the price of their commodity soared. They were asked to answer false analogies like "What's more important, your tax breaks or student aid?" As if the wealth of their companies existed at the whim of the senators. The senators tried to get the CEOs to admit there was some level of profit at which they should pay higher taxes. What crap, those profits go to share holders who could probably use some relief in the aftermath of Democrat control of the economy. Further, those profits will be taxed anyway. Finally, the high oil prices are not the fault of these executives, but of market forces.

Professor Perry at Carpe Diem, points out that oil company profits by per cent are 114 out of 225 major industries.

Here are the lavish tax breaks the Senators propose to repeal:
  • A tax credit on payments to foreign governments — including petroleum income taxes — that they pay in exchange for some economic benefit. The five biggest oil companies would still be able to deduct foreign payments.
  • A domestic manufacturing deduction, which has generally been available to a broad range of U.S. firms.
  • A deduction for intangible drilling costs, such as the cost of repairs, site preparation and hauling supplies. Currently, integrated oil companies can expense 70 percent of the cost of these intangible drilling costs, but the legislation would require the big five oil companies to instead capitalize all of these costs.
  • A percentage depletion deduction for oil and natural gas wells, computed using a portion of the revenue from the sale of those hydrocarbons.
Are you kidding? These are normal accounting practices. To what extent are they different from the credits to mining or any other extraction industry? Probably not at all different. If the price of coal soared, would you see Senator Rockefeller hauling in Big Coal and taking away their mineral depletion allowance?

This is all hogwash designed to hide the fact that we don't allow drilling in this country, which would increase supply and therefore reduce prices. Maybe not by much, but who knows, we let the free market work that out. The Democrats are so reflexively against everything that produces jobs in this country its a wonder any of them ever get elected.

*In common English usage, a Kabuki dance is an activity or drama carried out in real life in a predictable or stylized fashion, reminiscent of the Kabuki style of Japanese stage play. Source Wikipedia citing Webster's Dictionary of Allusions.

Weekend Music Chill

Welcome back readers, I got lazy Wednesday and then blogger went down for a while. This weekend's music is from a band I liked when I lived in South Carolina and was going to sea on the Boomers. It was a perfect evening relaxing ear candy after a long day underway, making way, submerged and undetected.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

John Boehner Leverage the Debt Limit

John Boehner went into the belly of the beast, figuratively speaking, telling Wall Street types what the GOP is demanding in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. The always left of center LATimes has the details.
Boehner told the Economic Club of New York that there would be no increase in the debt ceiling unless certain conditions were met. He demanded $2 in spending cuts for every $1 the debt ceiling was raised, specific spending reductions rather than targets, and no tax increases. That sounds like he's picking a fight with Democrats, not demonstrating fiscal responsibility.
Good for him. This is a fight that needs to be picked. The WSJ had a decent editorial take on the issue.
"It's true that allowing America to default would be irresponsible," Mr. Boehner told the New York Economic Club. "But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process."
. . .
The real question isn't whether the U.S. will meet its debt obligations but what the government will do to control its spending habits. Federal debt held by the public—the kind the government has to pay back—as a share of GDP has soared in the Obama years and is now near 70% and rising. No one knows when the world's creditors will lose their appetite for U.S. debt, but no nation should want to tempt fate.
Boehner continues to do a creditable job of keeping the focus on reducing government. I know he has come in for criticism for not cutting enough, but we are trending in the right direction.

Housing Bubble - More Graphics

In yesterday's post, commenters Foxfier and Hal (GT) requested a graph of housing prices vs. inflation. Couldn't find that, but jparsons.net provides pictures of the housing bubble in inflation adjusted terms.

Note that there has been a long term trend where housing prices have outstripped general inflation. Why this is so, I don't know. But we can see from the graph above that this bubble still has not deflated to the long term trend. If you think that the long term trend is also an aberration caused by years of government tax and other policies that have subsidized housing, there may still be a further drop.

One more graph that I believe to be more relevant, housing prices vs. rental equivalent. The reason it is more relevant is that the rental market is a substitute good to the good of home ownership. It is irrational to believe that they will diverge in the long term.

Note the divergence really gets rolling at the end of the Clinton era when we have Fannie Mae pushing loans to everyone, regardless of qualification.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Housing Bubble Still Not Deflating

Today's WSJ headlines shows that housing prices are still declining. This is actually a good thing, but should have happened sooner. The sooner we get to market clearing prices, the sooner the whole of the U.S. economy will recover. I will repeat myself.
When the housing bubble deflates or any other asset bubble, buyers move into the market to snap up bargains. In housing and in many other areas, that initial investment is followed by renovation and restoration, causing an uptick in economic activity. This is why I have repeatedly said that the official policy of the government should be to let housing prices fall to free market levels. Through its various attempts to prop up the market, including the failed HAMP program, they have damaged the economy by delaying the deployment of fresh capital into the market.
And I also repeat this graphic to show the futility of propping up the housing market.

Finding That Cloud in the Silver Lining

Well poor Jerry Brown, rising tax revenues are complicating his plans to raise taxes. Headline from the Mercury News:

Higher tax revenue complicates Brown's tax pitch
California's tax revenue is running well ahead of projections, but the governor's office said Friday that has not simplified the challenge of closing the state's $15.4 billion deficit.
Of course it hasn't, because the Governor wants to raise your taxes, no matter what.

Meanwhile, teachers unions and their allies demonstrate the height of hypocrisy by holding a prayer vigil at a Catholic church?
About 300 teachers and other advocates, organized by the California Teachers Association, staged a religious-themed rally and prayer vigil Monday on the steps of Sacramento's historic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
This, from a group that opposes both prayer in schools and any form of private school? Oh well, I oppose prayer in public school also, but these people are absurd. They claim they are protesting "for the children."

As Roger Hedgecock pointed out today, if these teacher unionists really cared about the children, they wouldn't oppose vouchers. They would allow school choice, even within the public school system. They wouldn't cling to a seniority system that requires layoffs of the most recently trained teachers. They actually care only about their own power as union officials and the teachers that support the unions care only about their job security and children can go hang.

The public education system is less and less effective. It does nothing to engage parents in the teaching of children and thus fails utterly. It costs more than the equivalent Catholic systems which are similar in size. We need vouchers and choice, because if parents and children were consumers of education, innovation and improvement would follow.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Obama Leaves the Seals Hanging - Legally Speaking

If you need a lawyer, you're on your own.

I previously posted on my unease over the subsequent handling of the bin Laden killing. In the comments, Dean said
The only aftermath bit that kind of bothers me is Panetta saying it was the SEALs' decision on whether or not to kill bin Laden. What? I'm calling bullshit.
This is indeed a problem for the administration. They are opening themselves and the SEALs to potential legal action. Volokh.com, as usual, has sound insight.
This was an armed lethal attack upon a a criminal adversary of the United States in an armed conflict, without cavil or apology. They were sent to attack and kill him as someone who was targetable with lethal force and no warning at any time. Which, as explanations go, and at least as it appears at this moment, does have the virtue of being true, as well as legally sound.

The NGOs and advocates and activist-academics have an instinctive sense for exploitable weakness and go after it; after all it’s part of their job. Brennan (as well as later spokespeople, including Holder) was not direct in stating that of course it was legal to target OBL, legal to target with lethal force, legal to target without warning or invitation to surrender, and that has always been the US legal position.
. . .
Firing on a lawful target, even an unarmed one and even when one knows a human target is unarmed, is not unlawful — that is what potentially happens when one drops a bomb, after all. Refusing to grant quarter or refusing to grant surrender, on the other hand, is a serious war crime
But if the administration takes the position that this was a kill OR capture mission, the SEALs are now in a tough spot, having to prove that bin Laden "resisted arrest." This is crap. He was a legitimate military target, shooting him on sight is a legitimate order in time of war. But of course, the Commander-in-Chief should be the one making this argument, not a bunch of bloggers.

Republican Debate - A Little Late

I listened to portions of a rerun of last week's debate in Greenville, SC on Fox. I have to give Fox credit for asking tough questions. I listened with an ear to Tea Party issues. I had issues with every candidate, but I especially took exception with the way Pawlenty often did not really answer questions. There is much to like about him as a potential candidate, but I didn't believe he acquitted himself well.

As usual, Ron Paul makes the most sense, but I took exception to his calling Guantanamo a "secret military prison." I agree that we need to get on with trials, because it hurts our national interest to keep detainees locked up indefinitely. He still comes across as a crank.

Herman Cain was very charismatic, but his call for energy independence doesn't resonate with me. It is rhetoric from the Carter era. He talked in generalities on Mideast policy issues. I like his support for eliminating both the payroll and income taxes. It would be good for the party if he picks up support.

Governor Gary Johnson talked about immigration sensibly and said we need to make sure that it is easier to get a work visa. I like that he recognizes the root cause of the problem to be economic. But he fails to recognize the need to secure the border, which is the necessary condition for other reforms. Why can't we discuss that it is more humane for the country to get the border secured.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Original Source of my Libertarian Beliefs

My eldest son is reading Eichmann and the Holocaust by Hannah Urendt for his history class. Seeing the book brought back the first sickening memories I had, when introduced to the horrors of the those events as a teenager. Like many young people, I wanted the world's problems solved by a government that implemented solutions, so that we could get on with the historical march to utopia that was my birthright. Reading about the utter fear that the Nazis inflicted upon both the German and conquered peoples got me wondering about the roots of their evil. I read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer about this time (along with Atlas Shrugged, a nice lengthy summertime read.) I saw that Hitler rose to power promising to solve the real problems facing Germany in the late 1920s and early 30s. But his "solutions" only resulted in the perpetration of hideous atrocities on people. It disturbed me because I realized that my grand ideas to solve the world's problems might result in horrible evil as well. I had no way of knowing in advance.

Simultaneously, I was introduced to Murray Rothbard and other libertarians, as well as Ayn Rand. I realized that the foundation of good government is in fact the vision that our founding fathers had for our government. It is essential that government be dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals than in solving any particular problem. All other political philosophies are dedicated to an end that is seen as greater than individual liberty. They all result in mass graves of innocent victims when the thugs take over from the philosophers to wield the power of the state.

People forget that national socialism, i.e. Nazism was a socialist philosophy, intending to harness the power of the state over the corporation to protect the working class and achieve national greatness. Sound familiar? Socialism and communism, were by contrast internationalist movements intending to harness the power of the state on behalf of the workers. However, no fewer innocent victims were slaughtered due to their internationalist beliefs. The philosophy of Al Qaeda, as much as their is one, is to subordinate any individual liberty to Islam. Indeed democracy is seen as an evil, because people could sin by voting against the party of Allah. This is also the philosophy behind the mullahs thinking in Iran. The resulting horror of innocent blood inevitably follows.

Our response to those who seek to expand the role of government into areas that infringe on personal freedom shouldn't be only to argue that it will not work. We should also argue that from a moral and constitutional perspective it is wrong to interfere with the rights of citizens to conduct their own affairs. The same impulse to control others that gives rise Nazi Germany is behind the desire to tell me what manner of health care plan I should be allowed to purchase. The disease of leftism remains the same, and needs to be combated in matters large and small.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Obama's Jimmy Carter Moment? UPDATE

I was at Vons today, filling the cart for a BBQ tomorrow. I was strike by rising prices and especially the lack of specials on bread products and chips. I have already been annoyed by the rising price of beer over the last two years, so further financial pain over having some burgers and chips seemed just too much. Turns out I'm not the only one. The mother of C. Larry Pope, CEO of pork processor Smithfield, can't afford her bacon, according to the WSJ. Mr. Pope's expert view?
. . .politics indeed plays a large role, as Congress subsidizes favorite industries and the Federal Reserve pursues an expansive monetary policy.

Ours is a timely chat, given the burst of food inflation the world is living through. Mr. Pope is running a multibillion-dollar business in the midst of economic turmoil, and he has strong views about why prices are rising and what can be done about it.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate grew and more importantly, initial jobless claims jumped to 474,000 for last week. Now, I put little stock in the unemployment rate as an absolute number, because it excludes those who are not seeking work, because they gave up. However, an uptick in the number, plus more unemployment claims is not good news. Interestingly, nonfarm payrolls grew by 244,000, ahead of expectations. My theory is that people are re-entering the work force on the "news" about the recovery, and indeed a bit of a recovery is in progress. Unfortunately, it is being killed even as it gets underway by the pernicious evil of inflation. Previously long-term unemployed who start to look for work, because they are optimistic of finding it have the perverse effect of increasing the unemployment percentage until such time as they find work.

As for my trip to the store, this U.S. News story confirms that gasoline and food prices are both contributing to inflation, so its not my imagination. In fact, the headline refers to "stagflation," a 1970s term for those of us old enough to remember wherein unyieldingly high unemployment was combined with high inflation to produce ever higher scores on the so-called misery index. Which brings us to the current President's predicament. Jimmy Carter wasn't primarily defeated for re-election in 1980 because of the Iranian hostage crisis, although it surely didn't help. It became apparent that he had no good ideas for dealing with the twin crises of high unemployment and inflation. As a result, the American people were ready to turn to a man that the main stream media of the day had painted as an amicably dangerous right wing extremist, Ronald Reagan.

Who will fill Reagan's shoes in 2012, and tell the American people the hard truths they need to hear while still inspiring and believing in the great things of which we are capable? I believe the Fed has unleashed another round of inflation that will not cool by 2012. Further, unemployment is far worse than the official statistics concede. Labor force participation rates remained flat for the fourth straight month, that is not a sign of recovery. By all rights Obama will not be re-elected, unless the Republicans fail to find an inspiring candidate.

Hat tip to Sarah Bond who got me researching this topic by passing some of the relevant links.


Jennifer Rubin's take on why the divergence between unemployment and jobs created (H/T Hotair):

The economy added 244,000 jobs but the unemployment rate went up to 9 percent. Is this a political problem for President Obama — as the economy improves, more enter the workforce and the unemployment rate looks horrible?

It’s actually even worse than it looks. The unemployment rate went up because of a divergence of the surveys, not an increase in the number of people looking for jobs. In the household survey, which determines the unemployment rate, we lost 190,000 jobs in April, and only 15,000 new people entered the workforce. Hopefully, the two?????? surveys will both indicate robust job growth soon, but not this month.

There is certainly danger for the president in the number of discouraged workers who are not in the labor market. As they reenter, a rising unemployment rate will be a headline risk for the White House. But we have to start creating jobs on a robust consistent basis before that happens, and despite a good headline number today, we are still looking at a very mixed job market.

Not sure I fully understand her logic, but it is good to remember that both the unemployment numbers and the new jobs numbers are due to surveys, neither are "hard facts." My personal take is that businesses are growing and hiring is increasing, but that the economy is running into headwinds due to inflation. Stay tuned.

Weekend Music Chill

The week's events made me think of this video, don't ask me why.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Unease - Post Facto Handling of bin Laden Killing

Is it me, or is there growing unease after the initial jubilation over the defeat of bin Laden? Consider these items:
  • Choosing to go to Ground Zero to lay a wreath, when he had otherwise ignored the 9/11 remembrance date. See Left Coast Rebel.
  • Not releasing photographs of bin Laden dead.
  • News that Obama waited 16 hours after the attack was ready to give the order, despite the lengthy time spent in preparations for the attack.
  • Contradictory official versions of events. Was Obama Osama armed? Did he use a human shield? Did he resist? It's not exactly clear. Since there is a clear legal standard that requires our armed forces to take prisoner someone who is surrendering, contradictions in the official version of events leads to speculation of an illegal action.
  • Refusing to answer questions on whether the lawyers who approved enhanced interrogation should be prosecuted.
However, I have to say that I don't believe a particular story I read about members of the military "overruling" the President. Our senior officers take their oath of office too seriously for me to believe that would happen; the consequences are just too serious for failing to follow the lawful order of the commander in chief.

My point is that the President's team hasn't really handled the aftermath all that well, despite the President giving a decent speech on the night of the attack.

Commenter drozz pointed out my mistake in fourth bullet above, corrected.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Really? Miserable Hack Update

The Department of Justice has sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert asking why the association does not have a major-college football playoff and it wants to know if Emmert believes some aspects of the Bowl Championship Series system do not serve the interests of fans, schools and players. Really. More here.

So that miserable hack that runs the inJustice Department has nothing better to do with his attorneys? Why is this a federal matter?

I guess since he is no longer involved in the KSM prosecution, he has too much time on his hands.

Conflation Problem - Enhanced Interrogation vs. Torture

A debate on whether or not enhanced interrogation led to the killing of Osama bin Laden has broken out. However, during the course of the discussion, enhanced interrogation (think waterboarding) has been equated with torture. So there has been a debate on the efficacy of "torture." I think that this issue requires clarification in the law, because we have a dangerous debate, namely, that the President should be allowed to violate the law, in order to enforce the law. Whether or not waterboarding is torture, or to what extent its application is torture is not a matter of settled law.

I would like to see the Congress establish the exact limits interrogation, to make the law clear. If waterboarding is deemed to be over the line, fine, but the law should be clear. It is more important to the preservation of our liberty that we strictly follow the rule of law than selectively decide when the law will be applied based on a perceived threat. If certain techniques that are close to torture require Presidential authorization to prevent their abuse, that too would be helpful. But conservatives do themselves no favor by arguing that we should violate treaty and liberals do themselves no favor by denying the efficacy of these methods.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Insanity of Ethanol

Makes more sense than paying to convert it to ethanol.

I am waiting for a Republican candidate to renounce ethanol tax breaks and subsidies. In the meantime, I reiterate the shear insanity of the policy of burning food as a motor vehicle fuel. I have made many of these arguments before. The insanity of our current policy of providing tax incentives to turn corn into ethanol are many:
  1. Ethanol yields 30% less energy per gallon than gasoline, so it harms fuel efficiency.
  2. It is not clear whether or not the production of ethanol actually produces more energy than it consumes. Regardless, it produces less energy than drilling for oil.
  3. It is heavily subsidized. That means the free market has determined that ethanol is not an efficient way to produce fuel for vehicles. Subsidies are almost always a waste of taxpayer dollars, ethanol is no exception.
  4. Ethanol subsidies increase the price of corn, which in turn increases the price of meats. Essentially, we are burning food and driving up its price. World food prices are rising, increasing starvation. Ethanol has been fingered. This is a moral issue as well.
  5. Ethanol isn't good for the car engine of the most fuel efficient car in my family. So any purported benefit is mitigated by the damage it does to fuel efficient vehicles.
  6. Corn is not the most efficient way to produce ethanol. Switchgrass is more efficient.
  7. Drilling for domestic oil reserves would reduce dependency on foreign oil far more effectively than ethanol subsidies. The foreign oil dependency argument is the favorite one advanced by conservatives.
  8. And lest we not forget, conversion of farmland to subsidized corn production crowds out barley production, raising the price of beer.
More expensive, thanks to Iowans.

The only reasonable explanation for the continuation of the policy is that it favors Iowa, which holds the first test of Presidential electoral strength due to its first in the nation caucuses held in January of each election cycle. Who will be the candidate of principle to announce his or her disdain for ethanol in Des Moines?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Congratulations to President Obama

In all the hubbub, I forgot to thank and praise the President for making the right call, not just to take out bin Laden, but to do so in a way that left no doubt, no U.S. casualties and no collateral damage. Further, he learned the lesson from Clinton's mistake, of not notifying Pakistan of the operation. For all this, he deserves credit. Well done.

Musharraf - Are You Kidding

Former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, whining about the violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.
Mr. Musharraf said the “lack of trust is very bad.”

“If two organizations [are] conducting an operation against a common enemy, there has to be trust and confidence in each other,” he said.

Lack of trust? Common enemy? When you were probably complicit in hiding the world's most wanted terrorist? Words fail.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More on bin Laden

Killed in a mansion? Near Islamabad? What does this say about the level of protection afforded al Qaeda inside Pakistan? Just asking.

bin Laden Dead! Now What?

Just saw the news that Osama bin Laden is confirmed dead. This is indeed great news for the United States. He was reportedly killed in Pakistan last week in ground operations. That he was in Pakistan and that U.S. forces are operating in that country will have huge implications in the aftermath of this news.

We should certainly take a moment to celebrate, as the attacks by his organization have altered the course of our history for the worse and of course killed thousands of Americans.

However, I would imagine that al Qaeda has contingency plans in place to launch terror operations in the wake of bin Laden's death. No doubt we will see the military in an increased protective posture. If you work on a military base, get up early tomorrow to get to work.

The President is starting his speech at 8:35 p.m. I imagine he will do a good job.

What will this mean with regards to Pakistan? We are not well liked, and our incursion into that country will have to be explained by Pakistan's leader, Asif Ali Zardari. I am concerned that this will topple his government, because either he knew or didn't ahead of time, and either way will have to explain to a restive populace that is not friendly to the United States.

Obama makes the good point that we are not at war with Islam, following Bush's lead. This is correct. Counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan is being touted by our President. We will see how this plays inside Pakistan.