Monday, July 14, 2014

Hamas' War Crimes

Hamas is committing multiple war crimes.  In a more just world, Hamas leadership would suffer the same fate as convicted Nazi war criminals, to be hung by the neck until dead.  First, they are launching indiscriminate attacks aimed at civilian populations.  The rocket attacks on Israel violate International law as set forth in multiple treaties.  From the Red Cross' web site on international humanitarian law:
Rule 1. The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.
The principle of distinction between civilians and combatants was first set forth in the St. Petersburg Declaration, which states that “the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy”.[1]  The Hague Regulations do not as such specify that a distinction must be made between civilians and combatants, but Article 25, which prohibits “the attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended”, is based on this principle.[2]  The principle of distinction is now codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of Additional Protocol I, to which no reservations have been made.[3]  According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” means “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence”.[4] 
See the web site for the footnotes.

Second, Hamas delivers their rocket attacks while hiding in and amongst the civilian population.

Again, from the Red Cross (different page):
Rule 97. The use of human shields is prohibited.
In the context of international armed conflicts, this rule is set forth in the Third Geneva Convention (with respect to prisoners of war), the Fourth Geneva Convention (with respect to protected civilians) and Additional Protocol I (with respect to civilians in general).[1]  Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.[2] 
It's the law of the land, well the whole planet, for that matter.  But it seems unlikely that justice will be done or the law enforced with respect to Hamas.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Crumbling Institutions of the Left - Government Run Healthcare

Government run and funded healthcare is having a bad year.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has not delivered on its promise to insure all Americans, with 75% of those previously lacking insurance still lacking.  I also think that the situation might actually be worse, since I don't trust surveys in the social sciences.  Meanwhile, VA healthcare is no longer touted as a model of care for all.

In Virginia, Republicans have shown how principled opposition to Medicaid expansion can be popular and helpful to the state's finances.  
In January a poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University found that 38% of Virginians opposed the Medicaid expansion. By late April, 53% were against it.
Meanhwile, Medicare is being slowly changed by the semi-free market of Medicare Advantage plans.

Austin Frakt, writing in the NYT, says that Newt Gingrich's 1995 prediction that medicare would wither on the vine if people were allowed to choose subsidized private insurance is turning out to be correct.  From the article. 
No matter the reason, what’s clear is that Medicare Advantage is a strong and growing program, despite recent moderation in government subsidies. As Medicare Advantage grows, traditional Medicare necessarily shrinks and its influence on the American health care system weakens. If the trend continues, policies, including those in the Affordable Care Act, designed to use traditional Medicare as a tool to reshape health care delivery for all Americans may become less potent. Is there a tipping point at which traditional Medicare ceases to matter?
Meanwhile, the GOP is eventually going to have to provide some positive alternatives to the ACA.  There are no shortage of good ideas, see my proposals here.  Reason's Nick Gillespie steals some of these ideas (which I stole from John Mackey).

Friday, July 11, 2014

Crumbling Institutions of the Left - Teacher's Unions

Allysia Finley does a public service by pointing out the epic math fail of the National Education Assoication (NEA, aka the teacher's union, albeit there are others).  While their pension fund goes broke, the union (and not so much the teachers themselves) are calling for Arne Duncan's resignation over testing, and debating fracking, because, well ... leftists just can't help themselves.  Some lovely highlights:
NEA membership has declined is that student enrollment nationwide has dropped, meaning fewer teachers are needed. Enrollment has ticked up mainly in fast-growing states like Texas, where teachers don't have collective-bargaining rights and right-to-work laws make paying union dues and agency fees voluntary. Wisconsin's collective-bargaining reforms and new right-to-work laws in Indiana and Michigan have prompted tens of thousands of teachers to drop out of the union or stop paying dues.
 . . .
In 2007, the NEA promised employees that it would make their insolvent pension plan 100% funded by 2021—it was 84% funded as of last year—to prevent a mandated reduction in benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Pension Protection Act of 2006, which govern private-employer pension plans. Yet subsequent investment losses have caused pension costs to soar for the national union and its state affiliates.
Interestingly, the employees of the NEA union are also unionized and picketed the annual convention in Denver last week.  One of the AFSME beefs? The NEA passed along higher costs associated with the Affordable Care Act to the union members?  Ironic doesn't quite capture this outcome.  Even the left is being impacted by the actions of the left.  The good work done by Republicans in TX, WI and MI are helping to prevent your tax dollars from going towards the leftist agenda.  A little ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy Obama era.

What You Should Be Reading

  • KPBS tosses out a bunch of softballs for Scott Peters and Carl DeMaio in the CA 52nd race. Predictably there answers don't show much difference, except where DeMaio supports border enforcement.  Also, what the hell is DeMaio doing supporting net neutrality?  Peters has the better position on this, where he asks why the heck is the FCC considering labeling broadband providers as common carriers.  Still voting for DeMaio, because we need a strong GOP majority to keep Obama's lawlessness in check.
  • Eight straw donors to the 2012 Bonnie Dumanis mayoral campaign were fined a total of $60,000 by the San Diego Ethics Commission. A little more information from the Azano scandal.
  • Obama's top donor in the 2012 cycle (when you total donations of employees and contributions to PACs), University of California (I am pretty sure its the whole system, not just Berkeley).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Compassion and Leftist Lies About the Children's Immigration Crusade

WSJ headline: Few Children Are Deported.  Yeah, we knew that, but good to see some investigation into the truth.  The reason I knew, those to whom that information was most valuable; parents who also want to enter the U.S. were already acting on that information, sending their kids by the hundreds of thousands to the border.  Leftists are invoking "rule of law" to say that we can't just deport them.  How about preventing their entry in the first place?  We have a right, well recognized in international law, to prevent persons from walking across our border.

The other leftist plaint is that we should be compassionate.  How is it compassionate to send kids to wander through Mexico unescorted to our border?  The dangers, both man-caused and natural, are too obvious to enumerate here.

I saw a tweet from a leftish sort of dude that said that we should accept these kids because of . . . Darwin.  Somehow these kids represent the survival of the fittest.  News flash, these are not the skills you are looking for.  The fact that their parents risk their lives and the fact that they lack useful economic skills means that they are unlikely to become productive to our society.

Obama keeps talking about immigration reform as the only way to fix this problem.  Another lie, of course, because the root of the problem is the perception that the children will be allowed to stay.  Ramp up deportation, don't let them cross in the first place.  Maybe even fund Mexico to secure their border.

What You Should Be Reading

  • CDR Salamander, if you care at all about what is happening to our military and the Navy in particular.  He is particularly adept at deconstructing the ludicrousity of the diversity bullies.  But their latest antics leave him speechless, the comments are very funny to this Navy vet.  My favorite: A collection of the most intelligent non-PC minds in the universe COULD. NOT. POSSIBLY. MAKE. THIS. SHIT. UP.--even if they tried for a thousand years--yet it all comes naturally, automatically, reflexively to the PC crowd.
  • Dalrock shows that divorce continues to plague America, despite what some people are asserting. I applaud his close look at the actual census numbers.
  • In much better news, Carpe Diem reports that there are over 3000 breweries in America today.   The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a local brewery, and with almost 2,000 planning breweries in the BA database, that percentage is only going to climb in the coming years.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bonnie Dumanis - Political Death Watch

I didn't vote for Bonnie Dumanis, because my gut instinct was that too many years in office, coupled with a high-handed attitude meant that there was some corruption lurking.  Bob Brewer didn't run a very good campaign, so he lost.  Now I am watching the news for items that indicate her term in office is unraveling.  For the record, I didn't think that Filner would make it either.  Today, she released what would seem to be an innocuous letter of recommendation for a young man to be admitted to the University of San Diego.  Innocuous, if you didn't know the back story.

Liam Dillon, at the VOSD has a nice summary:
Dumanis was recommending the son of a man charged with making more than half a million dollars in illegal contributions to local campaigns – including Dumanis’ own mayoral bid. 
Dumanis allegedly benefitted from hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions from Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, a wealthy Mexican citizen. Dumanis hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing in the case, but she has consistently given misleading and incomplete statements about how well she knew Azano and the actions she took on his behalf before and after he allegedly helped finance her losing 2012 mayoral campaign.
Dillon goes on to make the case that Dumanis' account of her relationship doesn't appear truthful, including the whopper that she didn't write the letter on official stationery of the DA's office.  Let's say that's true; then this letter certainly is a fraud, as it looks like official stationery and she signs as "San Diego County District Attorney."

For more on the whole Azano affair, the U-T has a series of interesting articles, including details of Dumanis' prosecution in 2003 of a youth who allegedly shot Azano's son with a pellet gun.  This case was eventually dismissed.

Dave Maass, who did some great original reporting that eventually led to the prosecutions in this case, says that this letter shows that Dumanis violated the California Public Records Act by withholding the letter when it was requested.  Maybe that's why she is sticking with the whopper that it isn't "official."

What You Should Be Reading

  • KTCat accurately summarizes the current state of foreign affairs as normal; if normal means there isn't any regard for the U.S. role as enforcer of norms.
  • Not Thomas Piketty, darling of the left for claiming that wealth inequality is worsening.  Read Alan Reynolds on why Piketty's numbers are fanciful.
  • And in more proof that leftist, progressive policies are racist policies, Milton Friedman takes down the minimum wage and why it has disparate impact on blacks.

"Moreover, the effects have been concentrated on the groups that the do-gooders would most like to help. The people who have been hurt most by the minimum wage laws are the blacks. I have often said that the most anti-black law on the books of this land is the minimum wage law."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Crumbling Arguments of the Left - Unemployment

Democrats like to argue that extending unemployment benefits somehow benefits the economy because, well I can't even remember an argument they presented that was coherent enough to merit repeating.  The actual facts on the ground have proved difficult.  First, hooray for Federalism, North Carolina went its own way on the issue of unemployment benefits.
A year ago, North Carolina became the first state in the nation to exit the federal government's extended-benefits program for the unemployed. 
The left and the media, but I repeat myself, were of course outraged, and outrageous protests of outrage ensued.  Then, reality.
North Carolina didn't descend into the Dickensian nightmare critics predicted. For the last six months of 2013, it was the only state where jobless recipients weren't eligible for extended benefits. Yet during that period North Carolina had one of the nation's largest improvements in labor-market performance and overall economic growth. 
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of payroll jobs in North Carolina rose by 1.5% in the second half of 2013, compared with a 0.8% rise for the nation as a whole. Total unemployment in the state dropped by 17%, compared with the national average drop of 12%. The state's official unemployment rate fell to 6.9% in December 2013 from 8.3% in June, while the nationwide rate fell by eight-tenths of a point to 6.7%.
Meanwhile on the national level we see the same scenario playing out.
Krauthammer noted that the sharp drop in unemployment has coincided with the end of emergency unemployment benefits. Obama and the Democrats, who insisted that the benefits be extended, wrongly predicted that their expiration would come as a calamity to the poor. Instead, their end has demonstrably had “precisely the opposite effect.” 
“These six months coincide with a decrease in the medium length of unemployment from 17 weeks to 13 weeks — the largest six-month decline in the length of unemployment ever measured,” he said. “Which means the real problem of long-term unemployment was a function of this anomaly of emergency-extended unemployment, which should never have happened, and whose end has contributed to this excellent result. The debate on that extension is over, and the conservatives were right.”
Thomas Sowell pretty much sums up the left's inability to see reason (although speaking about central planning):
But, by the end of the 20th century, even socialist and communist governments began abandoning central planning and allowing more market competition. Yet this quiet capitulation to inescapable realities did not end the noisy claims of the Left.
By the way, under disparate impact theory, leftism is racism.  Here's how: Unemployment disproportionately hurts minorities. Leftist policies exacerbate unemployment, therefore disparate impact, therefore racism.  See how easy that was.

What You Should Be Reading.
  • The WSJ editorial pages detail even more Democrat inspired race-baiting rhetoric.  Just part of a scheme to have HUD replace your local zoning board, because, you know, racism.
  • The bizarre U.S. corporate tax code is ensuring that may big, formerly U.S. firms become foreign owned.  I note that Coors, Miller and Anheuser-Busch are all foreign owned.
  • KTCat sums up the so-called compassion for illegal immigrants in clear concise prose.
  • Unfortunately, not Dean at Beers with Demo, who seems to have taken an unannounced hiatus from blogging.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

The words of the Declaration of Independence continue to inspire after more than two centuries. It's words and principles inspire the tea party movement and I believe is a source of discomfort to those on the left, even if they won't admit it.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
I continue to be optimistic for our country.  The institutions being built by the left cannot endure in competition with the institutions built by free markets and civil society.  I will blog more about their successive failures; but consider the disaster the left is making of our health-care system and the implosion of so-called liberal arts as the worth of those degrees continues to be revealed.  In the early 1980s, I came to believe that it was only a matter of time before the Soviet Union collapsed due to economic and ethnic forces; and that belief was rewarded.  I believe the same thing about the left and its attempts to control every aspect of American life.  People resent it, and eventually fight back and win.

  • The militarization of the nation's police forces is harmful to liberty, see a great compendium at AlterNet.  (H/T CarpeDiem).  The founders would be appalled, no doubt.
  • Minimum wage response?  McDonald's experimenting with mobile platform tech for ordering ahead.
  • I always thought that it was in our long term best interests to divide into three countries; our failure to do so has enabled further Sunni radicalization under ISIS.  See commentary from Israel in Haaretz on this subject.  Washington's warning against foreign adventures accrued precisely to our inability to understand the roots of these foreign conflicts.  The situation remains fluid, but I expect ISIS to consolidate gains and unite portions of Syria and Iraq, see HotAir.
  • KTCat asks how compassionate is it to allow kids to trek across Mexico to the U.S. border?  He argues for border enforcement, but I think the deeper issue is that the world has come to believe that the Obama administration will not deport anyone.  How compassionate is that policy turning out to be?
  • The Volokh Conspiracy for nuanced understanding of Constitutional law from a conservative/libertarian perspective.  Randy Barnett has a great explanation of the Declaration of Independence today.  He makes the great point that even then, the founders considered ourselves "a people" who had inalienable rights.