March 28, 2011

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

The Dictator Longevity Chart

Via Derbyshire comes this chart of Dictator longevity. In so far as Obama actually has an Obama Doctrine it seems to boil down to stabbing in the back friendly dictators, sucking up to unfriendly ones, and bombing the ones that France tells us to.

So as long as Kim il Jong stays on Sarkozy's good side, he's got no worries.

dictator_long_chart_1.png
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Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:54 PM | Comments (657)
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Obama To Retroactively Make the Case For War He Already Committed the Public to at 7:30 Eastern
— Ace

Ten minutes or so.

Meanwhile, some discontent from the liberal hinterlands.

...we're basing our military decisions on the wills of other governments. In fact, the Obama administration appears to be taking this idea one step further. Tapper asked Clinton to reconcile the Libya mission with two quotes from 2007. One was Obama's: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." The other was Clinton's: "If the administration believes that any—any—use of force against Iran is necessary, the president must come to Congress to seek that authority."

...

In other words, when the mission is "internationally authorized," the president doesn't have to consult Congress.

I'm no Tea Partier, but that sure sounds like a substitution of foreign for congressional authority. It's worse than outsourcing. Outsourcing is when you hire somebody abroad to do what you want. In Libya, we're doing the opposite. We're hiring ourselves out to do what somebody abroad wants....

I don't see any basis for that in the text or spirit of the Constitution.

My Mistake: He's not making the case for war; he's just "updating" on us on what the Europeans have decided our military should do.

"We Took A Series of Swift Steps:" Oh, you mean after you dithered around with the same basic facts for three weeks.

You mean after all that delay, you finally made a decision, and then the military acted swiftly.

"I Refused to Let That Happen:" Ah, okay, just as long as I know who the hero is here.

By the way, he's super-proud that he waited until the last possible moment to save Benghazi (but none of the towns and cities along the decimated way to Benghazi). Apparently those other towns he let be demolished as he dithered didn't count.

Only the dramatic, last-second decision to spare Benghazi specifically should matter.

Hilarious: He says that he's all about getting other countries to bear the burdens. He says, to that end, that he's transferred command to NATO.

Um, so, if I'm getting this right, our pilots and seamen are still fighting this war, they're just being bossed around by a foreign general, right?

And that general isn't actually in the fight, right?

Seems to me that all Obama is doing is distancing himself from any possible failure while keeping our troops in harm's way.

We Can't Embrace Regime Change Because Doing So Would... Require Ground Troops??!! That, he says, or huge civilian casualties (collateral damage in airstrikes).

That's absurd. Another lie. We're not embracing regime change for various diplomatic stupidities. We certainly could seek regime change and use the military, if it had a clear shot, to do so. Sometimes you will have intelligence about the location of a high-value target; a missile will hit that exact square meter of real estate.

He then claims that "To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq." Nonsense -- we went down the ground-troops road in Iraq not for the sake of regime change but to establish order post decapitation of the Baath regime; we could have effected regime change without ground troops (eventually), but skipped the "police the country" part of it. It would have been bloodier, probably, but we could have done that. (I would argue we should have, actually.)

But you certainly don't need ground troops for a decapitating strike.

To check the chaos that flows afterwards from that, yes, but we can be grown-ups about this and finally say "Hey, we killed your tyrant, the rest is up to you."


Obama in 2002:

Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

Compare that to his new position that the US, as a nation, cannot sit idly by as a slaughter occurs.

Seems to me he was pretty cool with Saddam's slaughter.

Posted by: Ace at 02:20 PM | Comments (835)
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Media Continues Determined Embargo on Death Threats in Wisconsin
— Ace

Vicious. If exposing and denouncing alleged "uncivil remarks" by Tea Partiers is intended to foster safety by establishing political violence as wholly impermissible, then what is the intent of the exact opposite tactic?

It seems to me that if exposing and denouncing violence-tinged remarks is intended to forestall the possibility of political violence, then whitewashing and excusing actual death threats is intended to increase the possibility of political violence. So long as the right people are targeted.

The media is of course a nonresponsive institution; they are fond of saying "X Corporation declined comment on our allegations," and let the reader draw from that silence the intended conclusion Therefore they confess them by silence, and yet the media itself will not respond to detailed questions on its systematic and deliberate left-wing propaganda.

There is no way to compel them to answer questions. However, there is a way to spur them to do so, and it frustrates me that it's not done.

Every week, when McConnell or Boehner or whoever is being interviewed on a Sunday talk show, they should have a plan in agreement to ask their questioners about any unaddressed bias in reporting, preferably something entirely off-topic (so there can be no charge made that they are attemtping to dodge the question on whatever they're being asked about).

I know what the answer will be, because it's the answer the media always gives-- "We covered that fairly and spent resources on that" and et cetera. It's a lie. They haven't. When Boehner goes on to ask George Stephanopolous why ABCNews hasn't covered the death threats in Wisconsin, he should come armed with detailed numbers of how many minutes of reportage were spent on blaming the Tea Party and Republicans for Gabbie Giffords versus how many were spent on death threats in Wisconsin. And, like a reporter, Boehner should then force Stephanopolous to commit to a yes or no answer -- is he disputing these figures or not?

He must be made to commit to an answer. That's what reporters do -- they will badger you into taking some position, one way or another, so that you can be proven wrong or dishonest. Allowing someone to vaguely say "I don't know" or whatever is letting them escape unharmed.

And every major Republican should do this on every show. And yes, it should be coordinated. There is no need to actually derail the whole program; ten minutes should do it. But there is a need to not merely make a statement, but to ask whatever media jagoff they're talking to if they accept or dispute the figures regarding proportionality of coverage. If they dispute them, challenge them to rebut them the next week -- and insist on coming back to do so. (And if they won't let you -- then your next Republican on will take up the argument where it left off.)

Force them to accept these figures as accurate and then, at some point, force them to offer an explanation as to why they believe this is proper.

This has to be both confrontational and personal, personal, in the sense that Stephanopolous must not be allowed to hide behind the entire ABCNews organization and say "Well I don't know what a big organization is doing."

Of course he does, and in any event, Stephanopolous is a high profile spokesman of that organization, and apologist for it; the media does not let corporate PR shill off the hook for tough questions just because the shill doesn't represent everyone in the corporation.

There is no way to force the media to sit down and answer questions about its reportage. But when you have them on camera, you can make them squirm.

And ultimately it's about questions -- and getting answers that can later be hanged around their neck.

Posted by: Ace at 02:07 PM | Comments (48)
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Rolling Stone's Report on "Kill Team"
— Ace

I had meant to link this with Rolling Stone's absurd attempt to connect this up somehow with Sarah Palin. (Maybe she taught Track to body-check too aggressively, zealously and that caused Morlock to...?)

Absurd bias aside, it's worth reading. At least Rolling Stone distinguishes itself from the rest of the media by deeming this newsworthy.

Early last year, after six hard months soldiering in Afghanistan, a group of American infantrymen reached a momentous decision: It was finally time to kill a haji.

Among the men of Bravo Company, the notion of killing an Afghan civilian had been the subject of countless conversations, during lunchtime chats and late-night bull sessions. For weeks, they had weighed the ethics of bagging "savages" and debated the probability of getting caught. Some of them agonized over the idea; others were gung-ho from the start. But not long after the New Year, as winter descended on the arid plains of Kandahar Province, they agreed to stop talking and actually pull the trigger.


...

While the officers of 3rd Platoon peeled off to talk to a village elder inside a compound, two soldiers walked away from the unit until they reached the far edge of the village. There, in a nearby poppy field, they began looking for someone to kill.

...

He was a smooth-faced kid, about 15 years old. Not much younger than they were: Morlock was 21, Holmes was 19. His name, they would later learn, was Gul Mudin, a common name in Afghanistan. He was wearing a little cap and a Western-style green jacket. He held nothing in his hand that could be interpreted as a weapon, not even a shovel. The expression on his face was welcoming. "He was not a threat," Morlock later confessed.

Morlock and Holmes called to him in Pashto as he walked toward them, ordering him to stop. The boy did as he was told. He stood still.

The soldiers knelt down behind a mud-brick wall. Then Morlock tossed a grenade toward Mudin, using the wall as cover. As the grenade exploded, he and Holmes opened fire, shooting the boy repeatedly at close range with an M4 carbine and a machine gun.

Mudin buckled, went down face first onto the ground. His cap toppled off. A pool of blood congealed by his head.

...

Back at the wall, soldiers arriving on the scene found the body and the bloodstains on the ground. Morlock and Holmes were crouched by the wall, looking excited. When a staff sergeant asked them what had happened, Morlock said the boy had been about to attack them with a grenade. "We had to shoot the guy," he said.

...

To identify the body, the soldiers fetched the village elder who had been speaking to the officers that morning. But by tragic coincidence, the elder turned out to be the father of the slain boy. His moment of grief-stricken recognition, when he saw his son lying in a pool of blood, was later recounted in the flat prose of an official Army report. "The father was very upset," the report noted.

The father's grief did nothing to interrupt the pumped-up mood that had broken out among the soldiers....

Then, in a break with protocol, the soldiers began taking photographs of themselves celebrating their kill. Holding a cigarette rakishly in one hand, Holmes posed for the camera with Mudin's bloody and half-naked corpse, grabbing the boy's head by the hair as if it were a trophy deer. Morlock made sure to get a similar memento.

No one seemed more pleased by the kill than Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the platoon's popular and hard-charging squad leader. "It was like another day at the office for him," one soldier recalls. Gibbs started "messing around with the kid," moving his arms and mouth and "acting like the kid was talking." Then, using a pair of razor-sharp medic's shears, he reportedly sliced off the dead boy's pinky finger and gave it to Holmes, as a trophy for killing his first Afghan.

Actually it's a little worse than that; a captain was suspicious, but took no action, and even ordered his staff sergeant to fire two bullets into the boy's body to make sure he was dead. I suppose to guarantee he was no longer a threat, but...

They were eventually caught because a fellow soldier, named, ironically, Stoner, got sick of them smoking hash around them and told them to find somewhere else to get stoned. They wound up beating Stoner badly ("snitches get stitches") and he blew the whistle on them in full.

The deal for Morlock was for 24 years, in exchange for his testimony against Gibbs, the squad leader.

And why did all of this happen? Seems like it was the unit's misfortune to have several inclined-to-psychopathic-behavior people in it, reinforcing each other's weird impulses, added to the horrible stress and doubt implicit in a war against terrorists masquerading as farmers:

By the time Gibbs arrived, morale in the Stryker Brigade had hit rock bottom. Only four months earlier, the unit had been deployed to Afghanistan amid a chorus of optimism about its eight-wheeled armored vehicles, a technological advancement that was supposed to move infantry to the battlefield more quickly and securely, enabling U.S. troops to better strike against the Taliban. By December, however, those hopes had dissolved. The Taliban had forced the Strykers off the roads simply by increasing the size and explosive force of their IEDs, and the brigade had suffered terrible casualties; one battalion had lost more soldiers in action than any since the start of the war. Gibbs, in fact, had been brought in after a squad leader had his legs blown off by an IED.

Posted by: Ace at 01:35 PM | Comments (101)
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Rolling Stone's Not Really Sure Who Jeremy Morlock's Commander in Chief Was But They Do Know Who He Used To Play Hockey Against
— Ace

Remember Abu Ghraib and how the media scrambled to connect it up to orders given by Dick Cheney?

Well, they're sort of doing that here.


Before the military found itself short of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, Morlock was the kind of bad-news kid who the Army might have passed on. He grew up not far from Sarah Palin in Wasilla, Alaska; his sister hung out with Bristol, and Morlock played hockey against Track.

Isn't that funny.

Posted by: Ace at 12:14 PM | Comments (217)
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Uh Oh: Iran Releases Propaganda Film Hailing The Coming of the 12th Iman, Who Will Lead the Muslims in Final War Against the West
— Ace

Was it Red Storm Rising where the Soviets, to galvanize public support of an invasion of Germany, concocted some sort of German killing of Russian kids and immediately re-released a classic patriotic Russian propaganda film? (Yeah, I think it was.)

So what's this? You don't whip up support for war unless you want to do something with that.

The propaganda footage has reportedly been approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government.

It's called The Coming is Near and it describes current events in the Middle East as a prelude to the arrival of the mythical tweflth Imam or Mahdi -- the messiah figure who Islamic scriptures say will lead the armies of Islam to victory over all non-Muslims in the last days.

"This video has been produced by a group called the Conductors of the Coming, in connection with the Basiji -- the Iranian paramilitary force, and in collaboration with the Iranian president's office," said Reza Kahlil, a former member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards who shared the video with CBN News.

Kahlili, author of the book, A Time to Betray, worked as a double agent for the CIA inside the Iranian regime.

"Just a few weeks ago, Ahmadenijad's office screened this movie with much excitement for the clerics," Kahlili told CBN News. "The target audience is Muslims in the Middle East and around the world."

To watch the video in its entirety, visit Kahlili's website.

The video claims that Iran is destined to rise as a great power in the last days to help defeat America and Israel and usher in the return of the Mahdi. And it makes clear the Iranians believe that time is fast approaching.

Bear in mind that the 12th Imam, according to these maniacs, can only come if they blaze the fires of war and chaos all over the world.

While saner mystics might look for omens and portents, this particular Religion of Madmen holds that mystics can create the circumstances necessary for the return of their blood-soaked savoir, and of course the circumstances needed are (what else is new with Muslims?) murder and mayhem.

“The messiah will not rise unless fear, great earthquakes, and sedition take place."

...

The leftist worldview is so alienated from religion it cannot take it seriously or think anyone else takes it seriously. Therefore Khamenei, et al., must be masquerading for their own purposes. Theirs is just a negotiating stance, albeit of a longterm nature. Hence, Obama’s view that he could win over Ahmadinejad on nuclear weapons with discussion around a table accompanied by a bribe or two. But one viewing of this film reminds us there is nothing to discuss any number of bribes could resolve. Ahmadinejad sees an entirely different universe.

You can see the film at PJTV.

Posted by: Ace at 10:58 AM | Comments (334)
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Liz Taylor Offered Herself In Exchange For Prisoners At Entebbe?
— Ace

I don't think anyone mentioned her death -- I honestly am not familiar with her films. I guess the cobloggers aren't, either.

Here's something pretty special.

A 1977 report by the JTA unearthed in the aftermath of Elizabeth Taylor’s death reveals that the actress, “…offered herself as a hostage for the more than 100 Air France hijack victims held by terrorists at Entebbe Airport in Uganda during the tense days before the Israeli rescue raid.”

Posted by: Ace at 09:56 AM | Comments (240)
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Why Is the Media Covering Up The Kill Team Story?
— Ace

It's not that I want them to go hog-wild in attempting to destroy the armed forces with this story.

It's that I can only think of one explanation for why they did just that with respect to Abu Ghraib but have yet to ask Obama a single question about multiple murders.

Everyone who is honest know why. Now that our former "cowboy president" has given way to our "international out-reach artist," nothing which might end up in the minus column of Barack Obama's presidential ledger will be given remotely the same treatment. As of this writing, there has been no speculation about how high up the chain of command the current debacle goes, or what the president and/or his advisors knew, or when they knew it. No officers have been fired, as a brigadier general was during Abu Ghraib incident. "60 Minutes" has yet to do a show. Photos of the murdered victims haven't been plastered night after night on every news channel in the country. None of the current defendants have been turned into household figures the way Specialist Charles Graner "and his former fiancee," Specialist Lynndie England, were during Abu Ghraib. The bet here is that no Americans, other than dedicated news hounds, could name a single defendant in the current case.

Again, I bring this up not to illuminate the deficiencies of our military. It is our mainstream media which have revealed that there are no limits to their own depravity. Don't believe it? Ask yourself when the media ever downplayed a multiple-murder story, or soft-pedaled a military scandal. Ask yourself how it's possible that president Obama has neither been asked single a question, nor made a single statement about these murders, despite the fact that they occurred in 2009, and that Specialist Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, AK pleaded guilty to the crimes last week.

Reality check: the mainstream media is engaged in arguably one of the most damning and deliberate errors of omission ever orchestrated in order to protect "their man" in the White House. And take it to the bank that such "selective reporting" is going to increase exponentially the closer we get to the 2012 election. Our self-admitted cocaine-sniffing, communist mentored, paper-trail-less, terrorist associating occupant in the Oval Office will never be subjected to remotely the same journalistic rigor that will be directed at whomever his Republican opponent turns out to be.

Posted by: Ace at 09:24 AM | Comments (145)
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"When You Come To A Fork In Your Time-Limited, Scope-Limited Military Action, Take It"
— DrewM

My apologies to Yogi Berra but that's the thought I had when I read this series of tweets from a French journalist about the rebels in Libya.

Without further air strikes you cannot see the rebels advancing much further. They are asking for more help from the air. 7 minutes ago via web

It seems quite amazing that even heavily-armed rebel trucks left the frontline in panic when rockets started to drop. 8 minutes ago via web

A large convoy of rebels, many unarmed, left their positions very quickly as soon as rockets started getting too close for comfort. 10 minutes ago via web

The rebels have been stopped in their tracks on the road to #Sirte. Heavy artillery and rockes landed near the crucial coastal road. 11 minutes ago via web

See the problem is helping the rebels in offensive operation isn't part of the deal.

UN Security Council resolution 1973 -- the fruit of intense diplomacy to avoid Russian and Chinese vetoes while winning Arab support -- allows for "all necessary means" to support the limited aim of protecting Libyan civilians.

But coalition air strikes have struck Kadhafi's ground forces as well as targets in the capital Tripoli and the strongman's hometown of Sirte, prompting accusations that the alliance is over-reaching its mandate.

Pressed on whether the coalition was liaising with the rebels on the ground, the senior US official said: "In terms of coordinating with rebel forces, no. Our mission is to protect civilians.

"It's not about the rebels, it's about the protection of civilian populations. That's what UNSC 1973 has mandated and that's the mandate that NATO is now taking on."

Questioned on the apparent contradiction in rebels now attacking towns held by Kadhafi forces and perhaps putting civilian lives at risk, the official demurred.

"It's been very clear up to this point that it is the regime of Colonel Kadhafi that is engaged in horrendous acts against civilians and therefore it is those forces that are being targeted," the official said.

So which is it? Are we simply protecting civilians or are we the rebel's air force?

Add this to Obama's statements about how American's policy is to topple the regime but the coalitions military action isn't and it's all as clear as mud.

At some point we have to take a fork in the road. Maybe the President will cue us in tonight.

As much of a skeptic as I am about this mission (whatever it is), I'd say the costs of leaving Gadaffi in power are too high. We had some sort of truce going with him but having led the effort to kill him and end his regime, I'm betting he'd be back to his old plane bombing ways if this ends with him in power. Of course, if we do kick him out or kill him, that probably means sticking around for years while Libya tries to dig out of 40 years of this maniac's rule. Hey, who is up for helping guys who fought us in Afghanistan set up a government in Libya?

Posted by: DrewM at 09:16 AM | Comments (55)
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Obama: America's Military Is "Being Volunteered" For Missions By The International Community, And That's A Good Thing
— Ace

What?

And that’s why building this international coalition has been so important because it means that the United States is not bearing all the cost. It means that we have confidence that we are not going in alone, and it is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally.

Wait, aren't the American people singularly empowered to "volunteer" our men and women under arms for dangerous action in hostile territory, acting through their representatives?

Many people have, and have rightly, made fun of “kinetic military action” — it’s what rubes like you, me, and General Patton would call “war”—but in a way the more disturbing thing about Ben Rhodes’s smarmy little evasion is the phrase “enforcing a resolution.” Just whose resolution are we talking about here? We know what he meant by “enforce”: he meant bombing various targets in Libya. But the question remains: whose resolution, whose will was being enforced?

Was it the will of the American people, expressed through its duly elected representatives, the folks in whom the authority to declare war actually rests? No. Was it the resolution of the UN Security Council, which (with the abstention of Russia, China, and Germany) had voted to authorize the use of military force against Libya? Possibly, but what is the connection between a UN resolution and the use of the American military? Or maybe it was the Arab League, who liked the idea of establishing a “no-fly” zone in Libya but, to judge by their sudden about-face when the bombs actually started dropping, had not yet taken on board the Marxist precept that he who wills a certain end also wills the means to that end.

Usually I don't get upset over bad word choice, or even very bad word choice. Often that's a gotcha answered by the reply, "Oh, you know what he meant."

I have to make an exception here, because this does seem to be a telling choice of words, one that comports perfectly with Obama's worldview.

Obama seems to be such a believer in the extra-constitutional, or, more accurately, anti-constitutional view that it is the "international community," whatever that is, that confers constitutional legality in matters of war rather than the body of Americans actually granted such power in the great national charter that he feels no need to pay even token, false lip service to the contrary position.

If Obama merely meant "We seek no empire, and come to this fight reluctantly, only at the request of foreign allies," well, he could have said that.

Implicit in the words this rara avis literary genius actually chose is the idea that foreign citizens have a more important role in determining America's status of "at peace" or "at war" than American citizens.

"Just words"? Obama himself gave many speeches, written for him by David Axelrod and previously used by Axelrod-client and Obama proof-of-concept prototype Devall Patrick, that words are not "just words" but full of crucial meaning.

So is this "just words"? Or is the co-author of Dreams of My Father suddenly not quite so supple with language as once advertised?


Posted by: Ace at 07:54 AM | Comments (183)
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Herman Cain: If Elected President I Will Not Appoint Any Muslims To My Cabinet Or The Courts
— DrewM

Alternate title: Herman Cain: I Promise To Violate My Oath Of Office Before I Even Get To Take It.

This is the problem with politically untested, boutique candidates...they say dumb stuff.

I think fighting expansionist Islam is as much, if not more, a social challenge than a military one. We can not allow people to misrepresent political Islam, lie about Islam's history in America or it's importance to the fabric of this country. On that score, I'm with Cain.

That said, announcing that you will violate the "No religious tests" clause of the Constitution is simply wrong and shows either a lack of familiarity with parts of the Constitution or a willingness to skip parts that don't work for you. When you become President, you don't get to enforce just the bits you like, you swear to "preserve, protect and defend" all of it. Even Article VI, even as applied to Muslims.

Posted by: DrewM at 07:29 AM | Comments (298)
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DOOM!...At Home, and Away
— Monty

Apparently, one Federal judge has worked it out: entitlement programs are apparently an "all or nothing" deal. If you choose not to take Medicare -- by this Judge's reasoning -- you are not eligible for Social Security either. Here's the money bit:

Yet in a stunning reversal, Judge Collyer last week revisited her decision and dismissed the case. In direct contravention to her prior ruling, the judge said the Medicare statute does — with a little creative reading — contain a requirement that Social Security recipients take government health care. The Medicare statute provides that only individuals who are “entitled” to Social Security are “entitled” to Medicare. Therefore, argues the judge, “The only way to avoid entitlement to Medicare Part A at age 65 is to forego the source of that entitlement, i.e., Social Security Retirement benefits.”

This is convoluted enough, but Judge Collyer’s truly novel finding comes with her implicit argument that to be “entitled” to a government benefit is to be obligated to accept it.

Someone will bust out that classic C. S. Lewis quote in the comments, so I'll save them the time and do it here: Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Over in England, the collapse of the welfare-state has stirred the populace to a bit of the old ultra-violence.

The Brits went all-in on the welfare-state after World War II, and they discovered the same thing we did: it's not sustainable. But they're also finding that when you take away government-sponsored goodies from the home folks, they tend to react rather like two-year-olds who had their binkies taken away.

I keep saying that the "entitlement mentality" is not just a problem here; it's a problem in the entire industrialized world. England, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, the USA...governments are beggaring themselves (and their productive taxpaying citizens) trying to fund their brobdingnagian welfare-state apparatus.
more...

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Straw Poll: Who do you want in 2012?
— Gabriel Malor

Two months ago, I asked who you guys want to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Sarah Palin carried the day with a whopping 46% of your votes. The nearest competitor was Herman Cain, who got just 13.4%.

Here's the latest on the possible candidates and then another poll.

Sarah Palin hasn't been in the news nearly as much as she was during our last poll, which was in the aftermath of the Arizona shooting. She did post the other day that she's through whining (her word) about the MBM. Technorati notes that Palin is winning the social media race. She has more than 2.8 million friends on Facebook and more than 462,000 followers on Twitter.

Mitt Romney continues to plug along. A Pew Poll of self-described Tea Party supporters just found Romney leading, with 25% making him their top choice in 2012.

Mitch Daniels says he hasn't decided whether to run yet, though he just collected the endorsement of Dick Armey, chairman of the Tea Party group FreedomWorks. Daniels' decision has been complicated by the Indiana legislative standoff. Democratic state lawmakers remain in Illinois, despite Daniels' weakness on passing a bill to curb union abuses.

Herman Cain is probably the most active candidate right now. He keeps popping up at events. This weekend he won the straw poll at Congressman Steve King’s Conservative Principles Conference in Iowa.

Newt Gingrich was on Fox News Sunday yesterday, where he's still trying to put the incessant discussion of his affairs and marriages to rest. Gingrich recently made the obligatory kowtow to revisionist Bryan Fischer of the AFA.

Haley Barbour was also in Iowa over the weekend, where he said that we should "proceed in national policy as if global warming is actually happening." He also criticized the Obama Administration, saying that it "too often thinks we’re too stupid to take care of ourselves."

Mike Huckabee shared the stage with, among others, Van Jones last night at a "State of the Student" summit put on by Florida State and Florida A&M. According to the news report, Huckabee was a favorite of students because he is "authentic."

Tim Pawlenty is fighting back against charges that he supported Sharia-compliant financing to encourage homeownership in Minnesota, which I didn't realize was a bad thing. A Pawlenty spokesman says the governor terminated the Sharia loan program as soon as he found out about it. Apparently, only three people used the program before it was killed.

Finally, Michelle Bachmann is still exploring the possibility of running. She was also at the Conservative Principles Conference in Iowa over the weekend, where she talked about the importance of two-parent families. Bachmannn will be back in Iowa on April 11.

That's the news, now the poll. more...

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:31 AM | Comments (678)
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Top Headline Comments 3-28-11
— Gabriel Malor

Space. It's huge. So huge, in fact, that if you'd lost your car keys in it, they would be almost impossible to find.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:57 AM | Comments (45)
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March 27, 2011

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

And now here's something we hope you'll really like.

The World Boobage Size Chart

Finally a scientific study results in something that the average man can relate to. I don't know if this chart is self-reported like the World Penis Size Chart but I would imagine that there's a bit more firm data on boobage sizes. But as they say any more than a handful of data points is a waste.

No real surprises here although I would have expected that Britain would come out on top in Europe since I've always read that British ladies are the bustiest in Europe. Plus all my pictorial research seems to back this up. Clearly more studies are called for in this area.

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Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:06 PM | Comments (544)
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ESPN Gave You Ten Full Minutes of The Basketballer In Chief Picking Like Dave in Texas
— Dave in Texas

This was his moment. He captured the nation.

It's a great tradition. I was enrapt. His advisors were almost as good as mine.

Good of him to take 37 seconds to mention the earthquake in Japan. I didn't hear anything about Libya but we know it weighed heavily on him while he was working on his bracket.

He's at least as good at foreign affairs as he is at pickin the final four. You have to admit that, he's got that smart goin on.

This idiot spent more time (on camera and off) working this nonsense than he did explaining his rationale for bombing Libya.

Because he knew, we really needed to be inspired, as a nation, at how fuckin good he was with NCAA brackets.

Sleep well. All is well. We've got Captain Jesus McAwesome on the job, 24 by 3 and a half.


tip via AndrewsDad

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 12:33 PM | Comments (331)
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"Nuclear Boy" Explains Fukushima Disaster to Japanese Children
— rdbrewer

You see, a nuclear plant in trouble is like a boy with digestive problems.

Press the red caption balloon icon in the lower bar to get rid of the caption.

I guess poo is more out in the open in Japan. Nuclear Boy helps me to better understand Poo Genie, a video I saw a few months ago. (Content Warning: Poo Genie depicts total nuclear meltdown in various scenarios.) It's a Japanese thing.

Open thread.

Posted by: rdbrewer at 11:59 AM | Comments (81)
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NATO: Fine, We'll Take This Libya Thing
— DrewM

Well, this is certainly a red letter day in our kinetic military action time-limited, scope-limited military action WAR in Libya. Now NATO will be in charge of not just the No Fly Zone but also the ground strikes to protect civilians.

Reuters news agency quoted one Nato official as saying: "Nato has decided today to implement all aspects of the UN resolution 1973 to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from the Gaddafi regime."

Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the takeover by Nato was "immediate".

However one diplomat, quoted by Associated Press, said the logistics of the transfer from US leadership could take several days.

Our correspondent says precise operational details have not been revealed by Nato but there will be a high-level committee of representatives from all of the countries taking part, in order to give broad political guidance to the campaign.

The Nato announcement came after a week of heated discussion among members, with Turkey and France in particular wary of a Nato leading role

How many more planes and ships does NATO have that aren't already involved? Right, none. So instead of the USA Africa Command running the show a Canadian general (or some such person) will be in charge. Of course that officer will be working under the military head of NATO who happens to be...an American admiral.

All of this pretty much glosses over the fact that NATO is pretty much a US show anyway. Apparently the added value is, um, a committee to run the war on which Turkey (a country that doesn't want to get rid of Gadaffi or attack his military too hard) more or less gets a veto.

Welcome to the Obama administration definition of progress. Now that the US is out of the lead (at least technically) it will be safe for Obama to come out and talk tomorrow night about this war that we're not really in or actually in charge of.

Added: Below the fold a visual explanation of the Obama/NATO leadership switch. more...

Posted by: DrewM at 10:55 AM | Comments (128)
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Gates: Libya Isn't In Our National Interest, Clinton: Yes it Is
— DrewM

Smart Power?

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Gates was asked, "Is Libya in our vital interest as a country?" He answered, "No, I don't think it's a vital interest for the U.S., but we clearly have interests there, and it's a part of the region which is a vital interest for the U.S." Gates' statement wasn't an entirely convincing rationale for a major military commitment, and moderator David Gregory responded by saying, "I think a lot of people would hear that and say well, that's quite striking -- not in our vital interests and yet we're committing military resources."

At that moment, Clinton jumped in to offer an extended justification for going to war. "Did Libya attack us?" she asked. "No, they did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries -- you just mentioned one, Egypt, the other Tunisia -- that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders? Yes. Do they have a major influence on what goes on in Europe because of everything from oil to immigration?"

At that point, Clinton suggested that the U.S. went to war to repay NATO allies for support in Afghanistan. "We asked our NATO allies to go into Afghanistan with us ten years ago," she said. "They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact that they were not attacked. The attack came on us…They stuck with us. When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies…This was in their vital national interest…"

We have to go to war when France and Italy's vital interests (aka Libyan Oil) are at stake? Really, that's the story Hillary is sticking with? No War for Europe's Oil!

The amazing thing is we've been engaged in kinetic military action time-limited, scope-limited military action WAR in Libya for over a week now and the Secretaries of State and Defense still can't their story straight on why. Maybe if there were a position of executive authority within the government who was ultimately responsible for this type of decision who could explain why we are in a kinetic military action time-limited, scope-limited military action WAR things would be clearer. Perhaps we could call that job "The President".

Breaking news update....I've just been informed we do have "A President". Here's the current holder of the office.

emptysuit.jpg
President Empty Suit*

As for Clinton's idea that it's in our vital national interest to stand behind our allies when they decide to go adventuring...um, no. The reason they went to Afghanistan is because they were pretty much bound to by a little thing we like to call the North Atlantic Treaty which declared an attack on one was an attack on all. We don't owe them a solid for living up to their sworn obligations. If we're keeping score, I'd say even factoring in Euro 'help' in Afghanistan, the whole, "thanks for saving us from the Nazis and keeping the Soviets in check for 40 plus years" account isn't quite even yet. But who is keeping score?

Oh and Hillary would like the world, especially Bahir Assad, to know this Libya thing is a one off and we're not going to get involved in Syria. So you know...take care of business, we're not going to say or do anything.

Arguing that Qaddafi's longstanding history of brutality distinguished itself from the regime of Syrian President Bashir Assad, Clinton said Syrian circumstances had not aligned in a fashion to suggest that the U.S. would undertake military operations there.

"The situation in Libya which engendered so much concern from around the international community, had a leader who used military force against the protesters from one end of his country to the other, who publicly said things like 'We'll show no mercy,' 'We'll go house to house,' and the international community moved with great speed in part because there's a history here," she told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "This is someone who's behaved in a way that's caused great concern in the past 40-plus years in the Arab world, the African world, Europe and the United States."

When asked about recent brutalities committed by the Syrian regime against civilians, Clinton suggested that "there's a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities, than police actions which frankly have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see."

I'm not advocating going into Syria (that's a job for Joe Lieberman) but Assad isn't as bad as Kadaffi? Really? I don't think the US Secretary of State should be laying out a road map for a dictator like Assad to follow to keep the killings under some threshold for concern. There's a little thing called "strategic ambiguity", it can be helpful to keep the bad guys guessing what might set you off. But no, Hills just said "have it at Doc!".

If this is Smart Power(tm), I think I would like some old timey Stupid Power about now.

One other thing, some guy over at the New Republic is pretty bummed that Obama hasn't gotten a bump in the polls out of his Libyan, er, thing. (safe link to the Daily Caller). You'll never guess whose fault that is.

A week into American and allied action in Libya, one political result is already clear: Barack Obama has not benefited in the polls. If anything, Obama’s Gallup approval numbers are actually down a few points since American involvement in Libya began.

We can look to political science to understand this trend—specifically, to the idea of the “rally around the flag” effect. A rally effect, by definition, is when a president’s approval numbers increase during a national security event. Unfortunately for Obama, there’s been no rally effect this week. Which, of course, begs the question: Why?

...To apply this to the current situation, when the United States acted in Libya, many prominent Republicans criticized the intervention—as they were likely to do, considering the extreme, anti-all-things-Obama sentiment that’s taken hold of the GOP. Newt Gingrich, for one, called the operation as “badly run as any foreign operation we’ve seen in our lifetime.” Speaker of the House John Boehner, meanwhile, said he was “troubled” by the fact that Obama undertook action “without clearly defining” the mission. Per Brody’s theory, Obama hasn’t gotten a poll bump.

Looking to the future, as the U.S. political scene becomes increasingly hyper-partisan—with each side of the aisle refusing to find common ground on practically any issue—we can expect that rallying around the flag will become less and less likely. Obama’s polling numbers after the Libya intervention could be just the tip of a future iceberg.

As Mickey Kaus points out at the link maybe it's not the criticism of the policy (which has been pretty mild and there's been a lot of GOP support) but the policy itself. But it can't be that! Obama is awesome and France and the UN said ok! It must be those evil, anti-war Republicans who won't get on board with this awesome new war.

I'd go back to the empty suit nature of this presidency. Obama launched a war and then went to South America for 5 days. Since returning he hasn't been seen in public except on Friday to celebrate Greek Independence Day. President's get support because they lead and ask for it. Obama has hidden first behind military leaders (Admiral Mullen was the only figure on the talk shows last week) and now Clinton and Gates (who can't get their stories straight). Obama will be MIA for about 10 days before we hear from him tomorrow night. I think people would like to support him but he's got to tell us what the hell we're supposed to be supporting first.

*Courtesy of the man, the myth, the legend...Slublog.

Posted by: DrewM at 06:47 AM | Comments (326)
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Did Natalie Portman Misrepresent Herself To Win Her Oscar?
— Ace

Natalie Portman won the best acting Oscar for her performance in Black Swan. But which part of her performance was being rewarded?

Her basic actor-ish performance of conveying emotion?

Or the presumed fact that she learned to be a headliner-level ballerina in less than year's worth of training?

Obviously the first part is always considered. Was the second part a strong factor? And if so, what to do if Portman really didn't learn much more about being a ballerina than you'd expect an actor to?

This video was leaked by a visual effects company that worked on Black Swan. Such a thing is sort of standard -- they're showing off their work for future clients.

But they began by showing off something that the studio apparently doesn't wish to be widely known.
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Posted by: Ace at 06:19 AM | Comments (239)
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