Friday, February 27, 2009

What's a Simon? What Does he Say?

I don't watch American Idol or much television period, save for House, Burn Notice, and whichever Law and Order whatever network it is happens to put on on a given night. Consequently, I miss a few things.
Along those lines, who and what is Simon? Does he matter? What does he say? Are these questions important? Why should we care?
These and many other issues are no doubt things I need to think on, possibly with a glass of wine or two. The popular-culturally-connected may want to enlighten me beforehand.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hurray! Bernanke's Happy

Debt as far as the eye can see. Then, the new President wants to blithely throw troops into a war that's probably hopeless. North Korea can't feed its people, but the Dear Leader's slaves can build nukes, and some missiles; and the Land of the Kims is about to thumb its nose at Obama and everybody else by playing rocket games. Meanwhile, China has its own stimulus problems.
Still, Ben Bernanke's in a good mood, so stocks go up 230 points or so. This would seem to place an awesome responsibility on Bernanke's restauranters of choice, his wife, his family, his barber, masseur and others charged with keeping him happy. Hey, it's good that some people in this world know what they have to do.
The market's down 3oo or so on Monday. Up 230 today. Nothing whatever has changed, except Bernanke's in a good mood, and St. Barack's going to grace our televisions with a speech. Woo Woo! Life is good.
The secret, dear reader, is that the "leaders" - the movers and shakers who run our money and are charged with our security -- know less than NOTHING about whatever the Hell they think they're doing. They're a herd of leaderless cows ready to moo because Bernanke had a good wine with lunch and was happy today. The bears will just as easily stampede them tomorrow.
Is it any wonder that people think that the Harvard MBA types in charge of the money in this country are absolute total dolts and morons?
If you're not angry yet, you're not paying attention.

Blog Quietness

As longtime readers possibly notice, posting has slowed down lately. Since the election -- more accurately, since October, when it became apparent electoral disaster was approaching, I've just kind of been snoozing.
As a spiritual outsider, I've been watching the Obamaites enjoy their triumph. Sometimes, watching present goings-on makes me think a little of an English Civil War royalist, Baron Astley of Reading. When the wrong side prevailed, and Astley surrendered, he allegedly told his captors: "You have now done your work and may go play, unless you will fall out amongst yourselves."
For the moment, the loons run the asylum, and I've been interested in other things. Obama and crew are working on it, but the world hasn't ended quite yet. I've reconnected with people I used to know on Facebook. I have a place in the country I like to visit. The Heir and SWMBO need attention, and the Heir is growing up. There are mountains of books needing my attention; I've become interested in the care and feeding of various firearms; and, there are surely many tasty foods and bottles of wine in dire need of consumption. Working is good too: all these habits definitely need supporting.
But I'm going to do better with posting. Obama and his friends, unfortunately, are providing us with mountains of fodder for comment, and as time goes on, St. Barack of Obama is going to be an even greater recruiter for the conservative cause than Reagan.

Friday, February 13, 2009

We Go to Hell, Nancy Goes to Rome. . .

The House of Representatives has just passed the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" draft bill agreed upon in the Senate/House of Representatives conference. (Confederate Yankee more accurately calls the bill the "Multi-Generational Financial Rape Act").
The vote was 246-183. Seven Democrats voted against it. One Democrat voted present. Zero, zip, nada Republicans voted for it. Two Republicans did not vote.
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the Republicans had not been shown the draft bill. At 1000 pages plus, it seems unlikely that few of the Representatives could have actually even begun to read the text of the legislation: which is going to expend $1 trillion plus of your dollars ($787 billion is the figure bandied about, but the rest is in the details). The Senate is supposed to vote today also, and they haven't read it either.
Why the hurry? Maybe so Nancy Pelosi could go to Rome today?
The government of this country is absolutely insane.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lost Weapons in Afghanistan (gasp!)

Agence France-Presse reports that thousands of US weapons provided to the Afghan police and military (including assault rifles and grenade launchers), have turned up missing in a General Accounting Office audit.
Yawn.
Don't get me wrong, this is a matter of serious concern. But it is hardly news. Show me one war, anywhere on Earth, fought by anybody, anytime since man left the caves (and before) -- where supplies and weapons have not disappeared in big batches, walked off, been sold by their bearers, stolen, lost or otherwise gone unaccounted for.
Move millions of dollars of supplies and weapons all the way around the world, and give huge dollops of them to allies and auxiliaries in a place where the concept of money is itself rocket science, and stuff goes missing. Stuff goes missing anyway. If it's NOT going missing: you can only assume that the quartermasters are doctoring the books worse than usual.
Running empires is never cheap, easy, or safe, as much as the bean-counters might want it so.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Bomb vs. Da Bomb

Yahoo! (Yahell?) says that Jennifer Aniston's first movie was "a bomb." Uh. . .since she's still Da Bomb, who cares about details?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

About Us, Without Us. . .

By a vote of 61-37, Obama's so-called stimulus bill has passed the US Senate. By no stretch of the imagination can this very, very left-wing porkapalooza (Powerline's term) of a bill be described as bipartisan, unless "bipartisan" is understood to mean agreement with whatever Obama wants. Three northeastern Republicans (Snowe and Collins of Maine, and Spector of Pennsylvania -- Republicans in name only) joined all the Democrats in voting for this bill.
For those of us opposed to this bill, which will bring us ruin, and, probably, war; there is, for now, nothing that can be done but to watch. Our fate is no longer in our own hands. Obama has won his chance to drive the bus over the cliff, and we just have to watch him do it.
Republicans have the small consolation of having their votes against this disaster registered: and an epic disaster it will prove to be. Our President promised us catastrophe unless his bill was passed. He will soon have his bill, which cannot be paid for by taxes, and for which the money cannot be borrowed. There will be nothing left but to run the printing press. The President will have his stimulus, and get catastrophe, anyway.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Save the F-22 Raptor ? Yes, But for the Right Reasons

Two USAF F-22A Raptors of the 27th Fighter Squadron (Langley AFB, Virginia). form-up on a KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft while en route to Hill AFB, Utah. (USAF Photo: TSgt. Ben Bloker).

As per usual modus operandi, El Jefe spooled up the Drudge Report this morning and was greeted by a banner ad exhorting readers to help save the F-22 Raptor, because American jobs were depending on it.
The F-22A, presently entering USAF front-line service, is indubitably the finest fighter plane in the world, and is primarily intended to replace the several variants of the F-15 Eagle in the air superiority (fighter vs. fighter) role. The F-35, another new aircraft, is the projected replacement for the F-16. The original requirement was for 750 F-22's, but this has gradually been whittled-down to about 130.
I'm all for the F-22 and the F-35, and if I were El Jefe of America, rather than the Kingdom of Chaos, I'd be spending money on building 600 or so more F-22's and a fleet of F-35's them rather than on "community development block grants," university building projects and the various and sundry other Left-wing nostrums contained in the stimulus nightmare pending before Congress.
Actually I'd put the Navy destroyer, submarine and carrier building programs ahead of the F-22's. But that's beside the point. The banner-ad in Drudge irritated me a little because of the reasons it sought support for the aircraft program. We don't need to build F-22's as some sort of jobs program. We need them to maintain the combat power of the US Air Force and of the United States as opposed to other countries. End of story.
Prince Bismarck once said that people should never witness the making of sausages or legislation. I suppose such pandering for votes is all part of the usual course of business in a republic. Sort of like naming aircraft carriers for living politicians (a policy with which I've indicated some irritation in the past). If playing-up jobs will get the pro-F-22 vote of Congressperson Emptyhead from the State of Ultraleft, than I'm definitely for it. Repulsive to watch, however.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Choose Your Catastrophe

President Obama tells us that the recession will turn into a "catastrophe" if his over $900 billion "stimulus" (including health-care "reform" and green energy) isn't passed quickly. Congress should stop being "recalcitrant" as the AP puts it.
Here's a thought: suppose it's not a "my plan or catastrophe" situation? Perhaps it's "my plan AND a catastrophe;" or, more likely, an "any plan, or no plan and STILL a catastrophe" situation? I'm not blaming Obama for this, but suppose circumstances mean that catastrophe is baked into the cake already? Maybe what we really ought to be thinking about is the degree of catastrophe.
The US has no money for Obama's porkulus stimulus. It is simply not credible that Europe and Asia are going to continue to buy US treasuries and bankroll bailing out the US economy, not to mention Obama's version of Hillary care. One survey says 40 percent of Japanese investors think that there is a risk of a US government default on its debt. As Megan McArdle puts it at Atlantic:

There are other reasons to worry about US debt, like the downturn, the dollar, and our entitlement problems. But when the citizens of a country with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 1 and more than a decade of economic stagnation behind them start complaining that you're not such a good credit risk, it's time to start worrying.

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit).

The stimulus packages cannot be paid for with taxes -- even if the rich are expropriated wholesale. That leaves the printing press. The Obamaites, who cannot even manage to adequately check out appointees for government office, are going to wind up trying to bail the overdrawn US economy out by debauching the currency. Pardon me, but I'm a little skeptical about rapid solutions favored by Obama and Ms. 500,000,000-jobs-lost-Pelosi.
The financial contagion is worldwide. Andrew Stuttaford this morning describes Britain as "Iceland without the fish" -- that is, flat broke. A lot of that going around. There are other pots boiling: Pakistan's imploding (which is a problem with an army in Afghanistan). Putin, Chavez and the Iranian mullahs: all dissatisfied with the present world system, are all, rhetorically at least, on the march. With Obama wanting a ten percent cut in the military budget, I wonder how long their trouble-making stays rhetorical?
I could go on, but my bet would be that catastrophe is already a done deal. Sorry, it's just how I see it. If trouble's coming, it would be prudent to be very careful on where we throw our last row of poker-chips. Why make it worse by dropping a trillion dollars we don't have because the former "community organizer" says we need to hurry about it? Maybe, but some care is called for here. Congress, in other words, shouldn't be panicked or railroaded into anything.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ayatollahs Launch a Satellite. What's Next?

Well, the Iranians claim that they have put a satellite in orbit. The US says it's "gravely concerned."
Gee, ya think?
An anonymous security official says this launch is not a "game changer." Perhaps not, but it's getting pretty close. Rocket boosters powerful and reliable enough to orbit satellites can certainly carry other payloads. The United States and other powers (guess which) must consider that the mullahs can not only now determine for themselves which countries segregate swimming pools by sex as the Ayatollahs consider just and right; but that the Iranians may soon have the ability to fry those not in compliance with their particular version of shari'ah.
The US Intelligence Community, in November 2007, issued a National Intelligence Estimate stating that the Iranian nuclear program had effectively stopped in the fall of 2003. We must hope the spook-lords, who have such a great post World War II track record (Korean Conflict, fall of the Soviet Union, 9/11, invasion of Kuwait...etc) were correct: because in November 2007, their conclusion effectively (and probably deliberately) robbed the Bush administration of any military option, or any options period beyond listening to ourselves talking.
Now the Iranians have a real missile. And we have Obama. We'd better do some praying.

So Much for the New Diplomacy. . .

The EU doesn't like the "Buy American" provisions contained in President Obama's Socialism pack. . . er, excuse me, stimulus package pending in the Senate. The Stimulus Bill contains provisions mandating that only US made steel and goods be used in programs funded and established by the bill.
Okay, but I thought Obama was bringing the world a new era of good feeling, concord between America and Europe, all made possible by a new respect for treaties, unlike in the Bad Old Bush era. The problem is, the "Buy American" provisions in the Socialism Bill may be inconsistent with US membership in the World Trade Organization, not to mention the North American Free Trade Agreement. Nothing like a new era that begins with a good trade war with, say, Canada, eh?
Considering the attitude towards the recent US elections of foreign elites, particularly in Europe, it's hard to feel too sorry for some of the loudly complaining suspects -- this is the President they wanted, right? Well, congrats to the Euros, because they've sure got him. So do we. Shocking, isn't it, that the Euros' pet-American President would want to protect American union workers and not Euros?
Still, not for the first time, El Jefe wonders if this man and his party have even the smallest clue about what they're doing?

Puff Daschle Blows Away

Tom Daschle, President Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary has asked the President to withdraw his nomination. "Puff" Daschle, former Majority Leader of the Senate, who used to lead Senate filibusters preventing confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominees, has been hoist on his own confirmation petard. Senator Daschle was driven out of contention by, among other things, tax problems with a car and driver provided by a former business partner.
Quite amazing: to my recollection Daschle's the first Senator nominated for a position not to benefit from the old-boy network and be confirmed since John Tower failed confirmation for Secretary of Defense, in George H.W. Bush's administration.
Additionally, the President's proposed "Chief Performance Officer," Ms. Nancy Killefer, withdrew her name from consideration for this new position this morning. It seems Ms. Killefer has tax problems of her own. All this comes after Treasury Secretary Geithner fessed-up to nanny-tax issues prior to his own confirmation.
One wonders what the story is with Obama's vetting process. Can't anybody play this game?