H/T: Political Gates
Back in 1953 ... "Deacon Andy Griffith" made a live comedy recording entitled "What It Was, Was Football." This record, Griffith's variation on an ancient Vaudeville routine, is a monologue in which he plays the part of a naive and unworldly country preacher who stumbles upon a college football game and tries to make sense of what he sees, having never before witnessed such a contest. His guesses, though incorrect, are inspired. He identifies the referees as convicts, the field as a "pretty little green cow pasture," and the football itself as a pumpkin (or "punkin," in the Deacon's twangy vernacular). Once the coin toss (or "odd-manning") is over, Griffith describes the action thusly:So Deacon Andy Griffith was perplexed by the comings and goings-on and the violent action event that some people think, to this day, rivals the Roman Games at the Colosseum. But since I am writing this piece, I will point out that the utter confusion experienced by the young parson in Griffith's monologue is not unlike the disorganization prevailing in the Republican Party as we prepare to select a candidate to unseat Prez Zero in 2012.
Well, after a while, I seen what it was that they was odd-manning for. It was that both bunches full of them men wanted this funny lookin' little punkin to play with. They did! And I know, friends, that they couldn't eat it because they kicked it the whole evenin' and it never busted. But, anyhow, what I was a-tellin' was, that both bunches full wanted that thing. And one bunch got it and it made the other bunch just as mad as they could be! And friends, I seen that evenin' the awfulest fight that I ever have seen in my life! I did! They would run at one another and kick one another and throw one another down and stomp on one another and grind their feet in one another and I don't know what-all, and just as fast as one of 'em would get hurt, they'd tote him off and run another one on!
Friends, . . . [there is] nothing to fear. Whenever the dialogue . . . starts to get you down, just keep in mind the wise words of Deacon Andy Griffith, who concluded his football monologue with these words:
And I don't know, friends, to this day, what it was that they was a doin' down there, but I have studied about it. And I think that it's some kindly of a contest where they see which bunch full of them men can take that punkin and run from one end of that cow pasture to the other 'un without either gettin' knocked down or steppin' in somethin'.
Victor Davis Hanson has experienced some disturbing situations in the past six months living at his grape farm in the Central Valley region of America's paradise and soon to be bankrupt state of California. Here is his narrative:
They say the Central Valley is the ugliest part of the state; I disagree. Last week from my great-great-grandmother’s upstairs balcony I could see snow capped mountains tower just thirty miles away; in-between were millions of green trees and vines and the water towers of small towns in every direction. Nothing in Spain or southern France is prettier. A man would have to be mad to leave such beauty, and the brilliant work of his predecessors who as artists built the dams and canals, laid out the agrarian patchwork, founded these communities that serve as bookends to the works of architectural and municipal genius in San Francisco, or Los Angeles and San Diego. Yes, a man would have to be mad — or quite rational — to leave paradise lost.VDH goes on, describing the worst performing schools in the nations manned by the highest paid teachers; rural roads that have not been improved in 40 years carrying 15 times the traffic for which they were built despite drivers paying the highest gasoline taxes in the nation by far; and 250,000 acres of irrigated farm land shut down in the middle of a world food shortage to save the three inch smelt.
You see, here is the situation in California. Tens of thousands of prisoners are scheduled by a U.S. Supreme Court order to be released. But why this inability to house our criminals when we pay among the highest sales, income, and gas taxes in the nation? Too many criminals? Too few new prisons? Too high costs per prisoner? Too many non-violent crimes that warrant incarceration? God help us when they are released. We know what crime is like now; what will it be like if thousands are let go? I doubt they will end up in the yards of the justices who let them out.
I think I have a clue to what’s ahead. Here is an aside, a sort of confession of my last six months in the center of our cry-the-beloved state:
December 2010: rear-ended by a texting driver; I called 9/11 and the police; she called “relatives” who arrived in two carloads. You get the picture. Luckily the police got there before her “family” did, and cited her. Still waiting to fix the dented truck.
March 2011: riding a bike in rural California, flipped over a “loose dog,” resulting in assorted injuries. Residents — well over 10 in various dwellings —claimed ignorance about the dogs outside their homes: no licenses, no vaccinations, no leashes, no fence. Final score: them: slammed door and shrugs; me: ruined bike, injuries, and a long walk home.
May 2011: two males drive in “looking to buy scrap metal.” They are politely told to leave. That night barn is burglarized and $1200 in property stolen.
Later May 2011: a female drives in van into front driveway with four males, “just looking to rent” neighbor’s house. They leave. Only later I learn they earlier came in the back way and had forced their way in, prying the back driveway gate, springing and bending armature.
Later May 2011: shop is burglarized — both bolt and padlock knocked off. Shelves stripped clean. It is the little things like this that aggravate Californians, especially when lectured not to sweat it by the academics on the coast and the politicians in Sacramento.
In the modern administrative state, the rule of law is an increasingly hazy memory, and citizenship is confined to obeying rules that come down from unaccountable bureaucrats. The Congress and state legislatures, alongside such private "stakeholders" as they choose, pass so-called laws that are hundreds, even thousands, of pages long, which authorize administrative agencies to make such detailed rules as they like. Judges make up and strike down these rules as pleases them and their friends. Our schools teach increasingly that the American people have always been a blight on the planet because they have distinguished themselves from other nations.
Former Utah Governor and Obama appointee Jon Huntsman has yet to announce whether he is running in 2012. Given that he is currently traipsing through New Hampshire and South Carolina, all indications are that he is planning on doing so. And if this video – which was “leaked” to me by someone…uh…very close to me – is any indication, his will be anything but a traditional campaign.
Since I’ve clearly just violated the Eleventh Commandment by producing this, let me clarify that I think Huntsman should get in the race. Whether we like it or not, there is clearly some constituency for these types of ideas. For proof, stop and consider that in his effort to tack to the right President Obama is preparing to portray himself to the American people in 2012 as someone very much like Jon Hunstman. Or the Jon Huntsman of 2008, anyway.
Because Huntsman, for his part, will probably do everything he can to disassociate himself from these views. In fact he already is. Whether he succeeds or not will go long a way in determining the outcome of his candidacy, if he chooses to run.
Like many others, I strongly believe that traditional conservative ideals can and should prevail in 2012. But the path will not be laid for us, and conservative policy ideas, around entitlements and budget reform especially, still need to be tested with the electorate. So consider the primary campaign a warm-up for the main event, and Huntsman a proxy for what we might face in the general election.
I for one am ready.
According to the Weekly Standard , Indiana governor Mitch Daniels is not interested in understanding what incontrovertible scientific evidence exists to support claims of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming.
He’s an agnostic on the science of global warming but says his views don’t matter. “I don’t know if the CO2 zealots are right,” he said. “But I don’t care, because we can’t afford to do what they want to do. Unless you want to go broke, in which case the world isn’t going to be any greener. Poor nations are never green.”As an AGW skeptic, I should be happy with his position, but his words and actions seem to be on both sides of the issue. For example:
No one in Indiana is arguing for the status quo: Hoosiers have been eager to pursue a new energy future. We rocketed from nowhere to national leadership in biofuels production in the last four years. We were the No. 1 state in the growth of wind power in 2008. And we have embarked on an aggressive energy-conservation program, indubitably the most cost-effective means of limiting CO2. Most importantly, we are out to be the world leader in making clean coal — including the potential for carbon capture and sequestration. The world’s first commercial-scale clean coal power plant is under construction in our state, and the first modern coal-to-natural gas plant is coming right behind it.Then came Mitch's uplifting speech to Rose-Hulman graduates:
A relentless project has inundated Americans for years with the demand that we must drastically reduce the carbon dioxide we emit as a society. It is asserted that the earth is warming; that this warming would have negative rather than positive consequences; that the warming is man-made rather than natural; that radical changes in the American economy can make a material difference in this phenomenon; and that utility bills in Indiana must double because no better or less expensive alternative to this policy is discussable.So -- can we now believe that Daniels has seen the light? Does he finally understand that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant -- and that it has little to do with the very small increase in temperatures that has occurred in the past hundred years? Does he now know that our sun has more to do with temperature fluctuations than "greenhouse gases?"
Well. All these contentions may be correct. It may be that they will all be borne out over the coming decades. But the average citizen has no way to be sure of that for now. Although there are scientists, and scientific studies, that are deeply skeptical of all these claims, they are rarely heard in what passes for public debate. The debate, so far, has been dominated by "experts" from the University of Hollywood and the P.C. Institute of Technology.
Joining this discussion will require more than technical competence; it will take courage, too. In what has become less a scientific than a theological argument, anyone raising a contrary viewpoint or even a challenging question is often subjected to vicious personal criticism. Any dissident voice is likely to be the target of a fatwa issued by one Ayatollah or another of the climate change theocracy, branding the dissenter as a "denier" for refusing to bow down to the "scientific consensus."
The late author and scientist Michael Crichton spoke witheringly of this pattern in a speech at Cal Tech. He said, "I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that should be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled." He went on, "Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus." He's right, of course: Galileo was a denier. Darwin was a denier. Einstein denied virtually everything men "knew" at the time.
Crichton concluded by saying, "There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."
“We need to call this what it is,” said Zac Elliot, statewide organizer for the Citizens Action Coalition. “They want to use carbon to yield more carbon and call it sequestration. That’s ridiculous. They’re trying to turn carbon into a commodity, to pipe it around the country and make a lot of money off it.”
A realistic way to gauge the fairness and financial sustainability of retirement benefits for government workers is to estimate how much it would cost if everyone in the U.S. received the average pension granted a state or local worker in California. How much would each active worker need to pay to support these retirees?The first part of the City Journal riddle addresses how much the average pension payment would be to each retiree on average. $55,000 was chosen despite the fact that CalPERS actually averages paying out $66,828 per year to retirees with at least 30 years of service, which is 79% of average wages actually paid per year. With Social Security benefits included, these retirees will be six-figure per year pensioners!
The latest U.S. Census Bureau data show 128 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 54, and 81 million Americans who are 55 or older—a ratio of 1.58 to one. If every American over the age of 55 received a pension of $55,000 per year, it would cost current workers $4.45 trillion per year, an amount equivalent to nearly one-third of America’s annual GDP. Put another way, it would cost every one of the 128 million Americans of working age $34,800 per year to support retirees. [. . . ]American taxpayers have been screwed for years by the unfettered public unions (and now the UAW ) who negotiated in bad faith with union-elected politicians to attain future benefits that are obviously too costly to pay. The Congress and most state legislatures are not reacting to solve these problems. Soon the United States will be bankrupt.
But by 2030, the Census Bureau projects the United States will have 139 million citizens between the ages of 25 and 55, and 112 million citizens 55 or older—a ratio of 1.24 to one. That works out to $44,300 per worker per year to support the retired population.
The real Osama bin Laden, like the real al Qaeda over which he presided, was never as important as reports from Arab (especially Saudi) intelligence services led the CIA to believe. Osama's (late) role in Afghanistan's anti-Soviet resistance was to bring in a little money. Arab fighters in general, and particularly the few Osama brought, fought rarely and badly. In war, one Afghan is worth many Arabs. In 1990 Osama told Saudi regent Abdullah that his mujahideen could stop Saddam's invasion of the kingdom. When Abdullah waved him away in favor of a half-million U.S. troops, Osama turned dissident, enough to have to move to Sudan, where he stayed until 1996 hatching sterile anti-Saudi plots until forced to move his forlorn band to Afghanistan.According to Codevilla, the CIA made a point to jump all over the now-determined-to-be-fake Osama bin Laden "confession" video that "admits" responsibility for 9/11 while downplaying and even ignoring two actual Osama video interviews where he denied responsibility. It is much easier politically to justify waging war against rogue individuals and organizations than it is to go after the rogue nations that incite and perpetrate world conflict. If we think back, Bill Clinton started it all by launching a Cruise missile into a remote mosque in Afghanistan in 1998 and another Cruise that took out an aspirin factory in Khartoum after Osama supposedly bombed two US Embassies.
There is a good reason why neither Osama nor al Qaeda appeared on U.S. intelligence screens until 1998. They had done nothing noteworthy. Since the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, however, and especially after director of Central Intelligence George Tenet imputed responsibility for 9/11 to Osama "game, set, and match," the CIA described him as terrorism's prime mover. It refused to countenance the possibility that Osama's associates might have been using him and his organization as a flag of convenience. As U.S. forces were taking over Afghanistan in 2001, the CIA was telling Time and Newsweek that it expected to find the high-tech headquarters from which Osama controlled terrorist activities in 50 countries. None existed. In November 2008, without factual basis and contrary to reason, the CIA continued to describe him and his organization as "the most clear and present danger to the United States." It did not try to explain how this could be while, it said, Osama is "largely isolated from the day to day operations of the organization he nominally heads." What organization?
Why such a focus on an organization that was never large, most of whose known associates have long since been killed or captured, and whose assets the CIA does not even try to catalogue? The CIA's official explanation, that al Qaeda has "metastasized" by spreading its expertise, is an empty metaphor. But pursuant to it, the U.S. government accepted the self-designation as "al Qaeda" of persons fighting for Sunni-Baathist interests in Iraq, and has pinned the label gratuitously on sundry high-profile terrorists while acknowledging that their connection to Osama and Co. may be emotional at most. But why such gymnastics in the face of Osama's incontrovertible irrelevance? Because focusing on Osama and al Qaeda affirms a CIA axiom dating from the Cold War, an axiom challenged during the Reagan years but that has been U.S. policy since 1993, namely: terrorism is the work of "rogue individuals and groups" that operate despite state authority. According to this axiom, the likes of Osama run rings around the intelligence services of Arab states ...
In short, insisting on Osama's supposed mastery of al Qaeda, and on equating terrorism with al Qaeda, is official U.S. policy because it forecloses questions about the role of states, and makes it possible to indict as warmongers whoever raises such questions. Osama's de facto irrelevance for seven years, however, has undermined that policy's intellectual legitimacy. How much longer can presidents or directors of the CIA wave the spectra of Osama and al Qaeda before people laugh at them?
Questioning Osama's relevance to today's terrorism leads naturally to asking how relevant he ever was, and who might be more relevant. That in turn quickly shows how flimsy are the factual foundations on which rest the U.S. government's axioms about the "war on terror." Consider: We know that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) planned and carried out 9/11. But there is no independent support for KSM's claim that he acted at Osama's direction and under his supervision. On the contrary, we know for sure that the expertise and the financing for 9/11 came from KSM's own group (the U.S. government has accepted but to my knowledge not verified that the group's core is a biological family of Baluchs). This group carried out the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and every other act for which al Qaeda became known. The KSM group included the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings Abdul Rahman Yasin, who came from, returned to, and vanished in Iraq, as well as Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of that bombing, who came to the U.S. from Iraq on an Iraqi passport and was known to his New York collaborators as "Rashid the Iraqi." This group had planned the bombing of U.S. airliners over the Pacific in 1995. The core members are non-Arabs. They had no history of religiosity (and the religiosity they now display is unconvincing). They were not creatures of Osama . . .
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U.S. Finds Saddam Hussein Hiding in a Hole
Thirty-eight weeks after the United States began hunting for Saddam Hussein, the deposed Iraqi dictator was finally found hiding in a hole last weekend.
Some 600 American soldiers swept into a rural farm 10 miles south of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit Saturday, carrying out a mission aimed at capturing or killing the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
In the end, it was a soldier who used a spade to unearth the hidden entrance to an underground chamber of hard-packed dirt.
U.S. soldiers find Saddam in an underground chamber"He was just caught like a rat," Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of the Fourth Infantry Division, told reporters at his headquarters in Tikrit on Sunday.
"He could have been hiding in a hundred different places, a thousand different places like this all around Iraq. It just takes finding the right person who will give you a good idea where he might be."
The head of ground forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, called the hideout a "spider hole" that had just enough space for a person to lie down inside.
Saddam surrendered without putting up a fight and admitted his identity. Troops also detained two other unidentified men. The raid also netted two AK- 47s, a pistol, 750,000 U.S. dollars in $100 denominations, and a white and orange taxi that officials believed Saddam used to travel around the area.
Forget the U.S. version of the Bin Laden raid. Any adult male found in the compound was a dead man.By William Saletan Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011, at 12:24 PM ET
As new details of the raid on Osama Bin Laden's Pakistan compound are reported, apparently based on accounts from the SEAL assault team, crucial elements of the initial U.S. story are being abandoned. Instead, the U.S. is justifying its shoot-to-kill decisions based on the team's state of mind.
Here's what the latest reports indicate:
1. The only shots fired at the SEALs came from the guest house.
The compound had a main house and a guest house. Bin Laden's courier fired at the SEAL team from the guest house. Nobody in the main house fired a shot.
2. The shooting at U.S. personnel ended early in the raid.
Initial U.S. claims of an ongoing firefight throughout the raid seem to be discredited.
3. Nobody in the main house was carrying a weapon.
NBC News and the AP are explicit about this. In the absence of immediate, objective grounds for shooting to kill in the main house—armed occupants, gunfire from within, an ongoing firefight in the guest house—the U.S. is emphasizing background conditions that justified its shooting decisions
4. The initial gunfire from the guest house created a presumption of armed threat.
The New York Times reports that according to administration officials, "because the Special Operations troops had been fired upon as soon as they touched down in the compound, they were under the assumption that everyone inside was armed." An officials tells the Times, "They were in a threatening and hostile environment the entire time."
5. Weapons found in the house reinforced the presumption of armed threat.
That early gunfire indicated to the SEALs that they might expect further resistance. And they did find a small arsenal of weapons in the home. "We recovered three AK-47s and two pistols from the compound. They weren't storming a PTA meeting. They were storming into Osama Bin Laden's fortress hideout," said the same U.S. official.
6. The presumption of armed threat led the SEALs to perceive occupants as armed.
According to NBC News, "The second SEAL team entered the first floor of the main residence and could see a man standing in the dark with one hand behind his back. Fearing he was hiding a weapon, the SEALs shot and killed the lone man, who turned out to be unarmed." The Times adds: "When the commandos moved into the main house, they saw the courier's brother, who they believed was preparing to fire a weapon. They shot and killed him."
7. The presumption of armed threat did not extend to women.
The SEALs then made their way up a staircase, where they ran into one of bin Laden's sons on the way down. The Americans immediately shot and killed the son, who was also unarmed. Once on the third floor, the commandos threw open the door to bin Laden's bedroom. One of bin Laden's wives rushed toward the NAVY SEAL in the door, who shot her in the leg. Then, without hesitation, the same commando turned his gun on bin Laden, standing in what appeared to be pajamas, and fire two quick shots, one to the chest and one to the head.
8. Did Bin Laden appear to be armed?
The new accounts specify weapons near Bin Laden. ABC News says "at least one AK-47 was found in bin Laden's room." The Times says the SEALs killed him after they entered the room and saw him "with an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol in arm's reach." But recall the NBC News report: After shooting Bin Laden's onrushing wife in the calf, "without hesitation, the same commando turned his gun on bin Laden, standing in what appeared to be pajamas, and fire two quick shots, one to the chest and one to the head." It's hard to imagine how this commando, who must have been focusing entirely on the charging woman until he pivoted to Bin Laden, had time to notice anything about weapons lying around before he put the two fatal bullets in the guy in the pajamas. Commandos are trained to focus on people and whether they're armed, not on unaccompanied objects. I doubt the inventory of weapons in the room was taken until later.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. would divulge no further details about the raid. He read a statement: "The team had the authority to kill Osama bin Laden unless he offered to surrender; in which case the team was required to accept his surrender if the team could do so safely." It seems increasingly clear that the SEALs went into the compound with a presumption that while women and children would be spared, any adult male would be killed, in part to avoid U.S. casualties and in part because one of the men might be Bin Laden. The initial gunfire from the guest house reinforced that presumption. After that, if you were found in either house, you were a dead man.