Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Never Forget"? I Remember

I remember 9/11. My family lived through the aftermath in a personal way - lots of time apart, in uncertainty.  I look at the mess the government has made of the post 9/11 efforts of our military.  Either the government sent out us to do things we shouldn't, or the government took its eye off of national security and began to look to politics, or both.
My conclusion is simple.  Government is not competent to much of anything, especially wage war.
We argue about whether the death penalty is right or wrong, and whether it was Bush or Obama or Kennedy or Johnson or Nixon or the Democrats that are to blame for the seeming disasters of our incompetent foreign interventions.  Those people are just the bit players in a political system.  We commit the lives of the military with high sounding big talk about 1% risk of this or that, and then back up all the talk - after the blood is spilled and limbs lost and brains scrambled and the civilians get whipsawed as we blast in and breeze out - with decisions based on political polls and electability and some froth about the political legacy of this or that buffoon sitting behind the desk in the oval office.

Political legacy?  Pathetic.

I don't think it is possible for our government, any government, to wage a just war beyond a war of survival.  I don't think any government is competent enough to deprive a citizen of his/her life, no matter the crime that citizen may have committed.

I would prefer that the US military withdrawal from the world stage were conducted competently, rather than accidentally, but I think if it is allowed to continue, military withdrawal will eventually be a good thing.

I think of the valor of many soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines who are not here to remember.  I think of hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis who were killed in the turmoil that we created and then recreated when political expedience dictated that we leave.  Only the soulless can ignore all those who pay for the incompetence and short sightedness and soullessness of the US government.

Let other peoples' incompetent governments screw their lives up - let's get our pathetic politics out of that business, so that at worst, we Americans and only we Americans pay the cost for the idiots we elect.

Honor to you my fallen brothers and sisters.  Honor to those who did their duty, who bore the costs, who did as they had sworn they would, who defeated the enemy in the field and cared for many non-combatants who needed your care.  Honor to those who lived the horror, saw the dying and paid in blood for the privilege.  It's not your fault that politicians are who they are.  The things you were fighting for were real, and those things were much larger and more real and more meaningful than the sots who sit in DC and choose our fates based on their insatiable need for significance.  I salute you.  

Blacks Must Confront Reality - Walter E. Williams - Page full

A sordid tale of woe.
The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities -- for example, violence and predatory sex. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation's population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it's 22 times that of whites. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Coupled with being most of the nation's homicide victims, blacks are also major victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good-Bye, Treaty | National Review Online

The Obama administration reckoned that climate-change diplomacy had to be based on the recognition that opposition from China and India put a climate-change treaty beyond the realm of the realizable. The Senate was not going to ratify a treaty that did not include all the major emitters, and, as a matter of arithmetic, all the major emitters had to sign the treaty if it were to have any chance of tackling global warming.
It was the same logic that had led President George W. Bush not to send the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification. Instead, his administration developed a strategy aimed at including the major emerging economies. That strategy was adopted by President Obama. Success required overcoming the division between developed and developing nations that was enshrined in the 1992 U.N. climate-change convention. It is why the Senate adopted, 95–0, the Byrd-Hagel resolution shortly before Kyoto. Speaking with one voice, the Senate said that the U.S. should not ratify any climate-change treaty unless it included specific, timetabled commitments from developing nations.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Limited Government, So It Cannot Dork Things Like This Up

The question arises, of course, after President Obama's startling confession on Thursday that he has not yet developed a strategy for confronting the Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-rooted terrorist organization still often called by its former name, ISIS – an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham refers to Greater Syria.
You may have noticed that President Obama calls the group ISIL, preferring the acronym that refers to the Levant to the one referring to al-Sham. After all, anything that invokes Syria might remind you of red lines that turned out not to be red lines and the administration's facilitation of the arming of "moderate rebels" who turned out to include, well, ISIS. The fact is that the president has never had a Syria strategy, either — careening from Assad the Reformer, to Assad the Iranian puppet who must be toppled, to Assad who maybe we should consider aligning with against ISIS — ISIS being the "rebels" we used to support in Syria . . . unless they crossed into Iraq, in which case they were no longer rebels but terrorists . . . to be "rebels" again, they'd have to cross back into Syria or cruise east west to Libya, where they used to be enemy jihadists spied on by our ally Qaddafi until they became "McCain's heroes" overthrowing our enemy Qaddafi.

Monday, September 8, 2014

America’s real ice bucket challenge - The Washington Post

Federal debt will reach 74 percent of gross domestic product this year, more than twice what it was at the end of 2007 and higher than in any year since 1950, the nonpartisan CBO found. In a decade, it will hit 77 percent; in 25 years, 100 percent — "a level seen only once before in U.S. history, just after World War II."
What's more, 85 percent of the federal government's spending increases between now and 2024 will be consumed by just three items: Social Security (which will claim 28 percent of the increase), Medicare and other health-care programs (32 percent) and interest on the debt (25 percent). Spending on everything else — military and domestic programs alike — would fall to the lowest proportion of the economy since at least 1940, when such statistics were first collected.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Who Gets Shot in America? | RealClearPolicy

Who Gets Shot in America?

Embry Howell, Sam Bieler, and Nathaniel Anderson of the Urban Institute have an interesting new paper (PDF) based on hospital data from six states. The number capturing headlines is their estimate that, nationwide, treating gun injuries costs almost $670 million a year, most of which is paid for by taxpayers.
We shouldn't get too caught up in this statistic. As the authors themselves have noted, the toll of gun violence goes far beyond hospital costs -- and I would add that, contrary to the widespread claim that $670 million is a lot of money in this (national) context, it amounts to just $2.13 per person in the U.S. There are many reasons to make the prevention of gun violence a priority, but the potential to save an amount of money equal to 0.01 percent of total government spending is pretty low on the list.
The paper offers a highly valuable account, however, of how gunshot injuries are unevenly distrubuted throughout the population. Here's one chart, for example, with the numbers for males age 15-34, broken down by race:

These numbers (like those discussed by Reihan Salam recently) go a long way toward explaining why we talk about black-on-black crime a lot more than we talk about white-on-white crime, even though most crime for both groups is intraracial. I think they also have ramifications for Ron Unz's argument that Hispanic and white crime rates are essentially the same. (The authors used the Census's American Community Survey to estimate the total population of each group. Given the problem of illegal immigration, any survey in the U.S. might undercount Hispanics, and perhaps there are problems with the hospital data too -- but it would take a pretty dramatic counting problem to produce the disparities seen above.)
I highly recommend reading the whole paper, which is just ten pages long.
Robert VerBruggen is editor of RealClearPolicy. Twitter: @RAVerBruggen

Paul Ryan’s Way Forward | National Review Online

Since 1999, when he became its second-youngest member, Ryan has been an intellectual ornament to the House of Representatives — and a headache for risk-averse Republican-party operatives. They pay lip service to electing conservatives who will make the choices necessary to stabilize the architecture of the entitlement system and unleash the economic growth that must finance the system's promises. But they want to let voters remain oblivious about the choices required by that architecture's rickety condition.
Such Republicans are complicit with Obama, who demonstrated the self-destructive nature of his now-evaporating presidency by his contemptuous, and contemptible, treatment of Ryan on April 13, 2011. After he loftily aspired to teach Washington civility, the White House invited Ryan to sit in the front row at a speech in which Obama gave an implacably hostile and mendacious depiction of Ryan's suggestions for entitlement reforms. Obama thereby repeated his tawdry performance in his 2010 State of the Union address, when, with Supreme Court justices in the front row of the House chamber, he castigated them for the Citizens United decision, which he misrepresented.

Both times, Obama's behavior bespoke the insecurity of someone who, surrounded by sycophants, shuns disputations with people who can reply. Ryan, however, has replied with a book that demonstrates Obama's wisdom in not arguing with a man who has a better mind and better manners.

Are Liberals the Real Authoritarians? - Bloomberg View

MM right on target.
In the ultra-liberal enclave I grew up in, the liberals were at least as fiercely tribal as any small-town Republican, though to be sure, the targets were different. Many of them knew no more about the nuts and bolts of evolution and other hot-button issues than your average creationist; they believed it on authority. 

Your Nude Selfies Will Never Be Safe - Bloomberg View

Two great quotes from a great writer:
"The feminists who get angry when people point out the obvious risks of taking nude selfies on your phone or getting extremely intoxicated at a big party full of adolescent guys seem to be arguing that if the patriarchy went away, guys could all be culturally conditioned not to steal nude photographs or rape people, with the few sociopaths restrained by the much harsher penalties that would presumably be enacted once we end "rape culture" -- that there is some way, in other words, to make it perfectly safe for young women to get trashed at frat parties or take all the nude selfies their phones can hold."
Perhaps the women's studies classes that engender these beliefs should spend a little less time assigning "Backlash" and "The Second Sex" and a little more time reading true-crime books. Because if you read those sorts of books (and I freely confess to a lowbrow taste for them), you cannot possibly subscribe to the idea that only social sanctions, well-designed law-enforcement penalties and a more equitable welfare policy stand between us and a nearly-crime-free utopia.
"But there’s only so far culture can go. Criminals don’t steal because they think theft is OK; I’m told they get quite indignant if someone steals from them. Penny-stock con men are not one good ethics class short of a regular sales job. Serial killers did not miss the memo on how killing is wrong. Some people do things that they know are evil because they want to, and they think they can get away with it. It is not “victim blaming” to urge their targets to protect themselves from that threat."