Friday, August 29, 2008

As long as you're sure...

'We all expected McCain to pick someone underwhelming to run with him. But we never could have expected a pick worse than Quayle. Yet that's what we got. Thanks, John!

(And for those who are certain to point out that Bush-Quayle won in '88 -- do you really think that Barack Obama is remotely close to Michael Dukakis in political skill? No? Didn't think so.)'

Writing rapidly (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt) makes us write funny things. So Michael Dukakis political skills knock BO's into a cocked hat? Yeah, didn't think thats what you meant...

We don't often wander over to the Kos. Its not worth the tripe- sorry trip. But I bring this article to your attention for one reason. It doesn't mention Hillary Clinton and the PUMA gals at all. Now Markos Moulitsas is a guy, and maybe older women do nothing for him, but older women are going to do something for Barack Obama. They are going to determine whether he wins or loses the election. Simple.

So how they vote is a big deal. Not mentioning that Sarah Palin just might hold some appeal to older female voters grumpy about not getting Hillary as the Dem nominee despite her superior experience and qualifications is just obtuse. The thing about older women is they show up at the ballot box. Young people get very excited about elections and then more pressing things like keg parties come along and voting gets shunted slightly down the priority list. Elections are determined by the people who show up. Obamas mighty legions just might forget to pop along and do the boring ticking of boxes on the day.

But thats ok- Kos assures us that 'The Palin pick takes a race already leaning toward Obama and pushes it further into his corner'. So thats sorted!

But do they WANT to pay homage to ML King?

'The question that screams out at us is why, in the face of all of America’s progress with regard to race, Sen. Obama does not fully embrace the complete fulfillment of King’s dream by supporting efforts to ensure that all Americans are “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Anyone who truly wants to pay homage to Dr. King should complete the journey that he charted.'

Is the enterprise on which the Democrat party has embarked to 'pay homage to Dr. King'? I don't think so. Grievance, disgust and hatred are what they seek. They want African-Americans to feel aggrieved; they want Americans to be disgusted by the terrible atrocities of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the torture at Gitmo, and the appalling state of the US economy, and the deep hatred for America felt throughout the world because of its unilateralism, and the increased threat of terrorism from the middle east and the terrible disastrous defeat in Iraq. The belief of the Democrats is that if they can get this grievance and disgust and hatred geed up high enough, people might entrust their vote to them.

Sadly, not only the day-to-day experience of Americans, but increasingly the front page of their newspaper and news website fails to tally with the Dem narrative line. The gap between the two is actually widening daily. Atrocities? They just didn't happen, unless you call killing incompetent insurgents murder. Torture at Gitmo? Only if you call too much pudding torture. US economy? Growing at one point four percentage points faster than the forecasters predicted... Anti-Amreican hostility? Been around since granddaddy was knee-high to a grasshopper... Increased threat from middle east terrorism? Er, is that from the dead AQiI guys, or the dead Taleban guys? Terrible defeat in Iraq? Postponed indefinitely...

Lets face it- if the Democrats were sitting in a sequin covered tent at the fair with a glass ball, they'd have been lynched by a mob of people wanting their money back. Pretty much every single one of their predictions about the future turned out to be horse-ptuey. And like a sad alcholic begging you for a fiver, he wants you to believe he'll do it all better next time. 'I promise you, I've drunk my last shandy'. 'I promise you, our next prediction about a Republican-caused catastrophe will actually BE a catastrophe'.

Yeah right. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I'm probably a Democrat voter. Fool me every time, I'm Nancy Pelosi.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Your recession is a flight of fancy

'The US economy grew at a revised 3.3% annually in the second quarter of 2008, the Commerce Department said, much higher than its first estimate of 1.9%.

The rebound was linked to strong US exports, helped by the weak dollar, while government tax rebates also boosted consumer spending.'

Instapundit has an ongoing taunt for lefties called, Dude, wheres my recession? Thats because despite deafening wailing and gnashing of teeth about the economy from Dems in the states, there is little or no actual evidence for economic woes. The US unemployment rate is less than 5%, its industries are selling at a tremendous rate, and the startup rate for new businesses is the highest for about a decade. So where does all the Dem crap originate? Price of houses going down? Great news if you're a poor person... can't get a dodgy mortgage? Er, you shouldn't have EVER been able to get one of those... lost loads of money in the mortgage market? You should NEVER have been giving money away that freely...

Lets face it, the 'recession' in the US is the Dems last best hope of beating McCain. Iraq is now chalked up firmly in the 'win' column, so no grist in that mill. The Dems record in Congress has been awful to the point of parody. It was only the will-o-the-wisp of economic mismanagement that might have seen them home- and now it looks like it was a mirage. Darn it.

War for Oil for who?

China's state-owned oil firm CNPC has agreed a $3bn (£1.63bn) oil services contract with the government of Iraq.

The two parties renegotiated a 1997 deal to pump oil from the Ahdab oilfield, the Iraqi oil minister said.

Under the new deal, output from the oilfield will be 110,000 barrels per day, up from the 90,000 barrels forecast in the original deal.

The deal is the first major oil contract with a foreign firm since the US-led war in Iraq, reports say.

Its war for Oil... for China (apparently)!!!?!

Not sure how that fits into my current conspiracy theory, but its not going to be easy....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

That'll make a difference!

'"No matter what happens we have already achieved our goal by proving that ordinary citizens with ordinary means can mobilise a defence of human rights for Palestinians," organiser Paul Larudee told the AFP news agency.

"We want people to see the Palestinian problem as one of human rights, not feeding them rice," he added'

Weird, because the stated goal of the boat ride is 'an attempt to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip'. So surely, anything other than the breaking of Israels blockade would be failure? Of course, the boat ride really epitomizes the ludicrous state that European politics has reached. There are no more actions, just these highly symbolic 'statements' which stand in for actual actions. Israel has the fourth largest standing army on the planet. Can two boatloads of champagne socialists ("The activists include Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British PM Tony Blair, ... Also on board is left-wing Greek MP Tasos Kourakis.") wafting about the Mediterranean making statements to lefty mouthpiece Agence France Presse achieve something that say, the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon could not achieve?

I'm thinking no. Not only that, what is the moral foundation of a protest against the Israeli blockade, imposed because of the choice made by Palestinian voters? Is the point of these savants that no matter what the Palestinians do, not matter how much they assault Israel and no matter which party they vote into power, there should be no consequences? I guess because the original sin was the creation of Israel, the only solution acceptable to these European humanitarians is the annihilation of Israel, during which no Palestinian should suffer a shortage of cooking oil. Sad how reality and our wishes diverge so much of the time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Todays Media Bullshit

I am going to start a regular feature: media bullshit watch. This weeks is

The Deteriorating Security Situation

'The ambush came amid signs of deteriorating security in Afghanistan.' If I called up the last fifty BBC stories on Afghanistan, at least forty-nine would have that rediculous phrase in them. What does that actually mean? How do you measure a security situation in the middle of a war? Having lived in a country at war, I can tell you that on most days, it doesn't really seem like there is a war on, apart from a nagging fear at the bottom of your stomach that never goes away. For Afghans, it is exactly like that. Some weeks, there are lots of ambushes and IED attacks, and others there are few. Why? A million reasons. In the summer, there is lots more Taleban activity because its not freezing cold and the mountains are easier to wander about in. Does that mean August sees a Deteriorating Security Situation, and January an Improving Security Situation. No folks, thats just bullshit. The fact is, until the enemy are beaten, the war continues. Thats it.

The nature of warfare in Afghanistan has always been small scale bands roving about killing and stealing. Just like now. The bands are guys from the mountains, and the people they kill and rob are from the lowlands. Like now. What NATO is trying to do is help create a 20th Century (lets be realistic here) state in the lowlands, while killing as many of the 7th century throwbacks as possible so they can't stop it happening. Is it succeeding? In much of Afghanistan, yes. But not the south east third, which is the part accessible from the mountains, strangely. Will it work long term? As yet to be determined. Helped by depressive turgid BBC articles? You be the judge.

No South Ossetia for Zimbabwe

"Zimbabweans must realise that the country is in a practically binding state of socio-economic emergency," Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said.

"As such, there is need for a universal moratorium on all incomes and prices for a minimum period of six months," he added.

What does a country need when its economy has been completely trashed by its government? Some verbosity and grandiosity from its Reserve Bank governnor, obviously. '...a practically binding state of socio-economic emergency'? What'dya do, eat the dictionary?

Personal hobby-horse: 'Mr Mugabe has denied he is ruining the economy, laying the blame instead on international sanctions he says have been imposed against Zimbabwe.' Where is the editor? Does he or she not know that this is a blatant, and easily disprovable, lie? There aren't any international sanctions against Zim, just targeted ones against ZANU PF, as any fule kno. Sadly, because the BBC and many other big media outlets don't bother to correct lies like this, every cab driver and pub pundit I talk to rails against the persecution of Zimbabwe by the domineering West, especially Britain. The fact is, there has been virtually no action on Zimbabwe at all, outside of a lot of grumping. Should there have been?

I just saw on Fox News Milliband saying that Russia probably broke international law in Georgia. When talking about places like Zimbabwe and Georgia, surely we ought to steer clear of invoking International Law? Both Mugabe and Putin love to trumpet the Wests picking and choosing when International Law suits and when not. Lets not give them a freebie. There is no International Law, none that means anything. For International Law to work, there would need to be something bigger and stronger than nations to enforce the law when the big nations got out of line. And there isn't. Wishing don't make it so. Far better than the fiction of International law is a commitment by all nations to a few crucial principles- like not carving up other peoples countries viz both Serbia and Georgia.

Russia has been waiting since Kosovan independence to show the world that this principle, of national integrity, was no longer valid in the international arena. It has now, and I'm not sure its wrong. That doesn't mean I don't sympathize with the Georgians, although Saakashvili is a tool. His hubris and overreach brought upon his people a terrible shock- although the casualty figures seem to have been multiplied dramatically by both sides for the same reason. It will take Georgia some time to come to terms with what happened. They have yet to lay the blame at the right door- their own stupid leader.

Is there an element of truth in the Russian story? Was theirs a humanitarian intervention of sorts, much like the NATO one in Serbia on behalf of the Kosovans? There is prima facie evidence for it. Saying that, it seems vastly overshadowed by the faux-SuperPower geopoliticizing which followed the initial intervention. So, who is going into Zimbabwe? A small invasion on behalf of the White Farmers anyone? Crickets chirp, tumbleweeds blow past.

The self-defeating Cause

'Until 2006, hardcore European jihadists would have traveled to Iraq. But the numbers doing so now have dwindled to almost zero, according to several European counterterrorism officials. That's because al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq has committed something tantamount to suicide.'

Suicide is the defining quality of Wahhabism. Normal people don't want to commit suicide. Given a good exposure to Wahhabism makes normal people realise they are psychopaths dressing up their murderous hate with religious platitudes. So with the suicide bombings comes organisational suicide. Look at the approval ratings of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden in the Arab world, especially the Sunni parts, most especially Iraq; now as opposed to five years ago (except at Al Jazeera of course). What caused the change? By their fruit ye shall know them.

Most people want their kids to go to a good school, find some congenial work, and grow old peacefully. Those things are of no interest to the Wahhabists. Even the dumbest folk work that out eventually.

Your AP at work, Ladies n Gennelman

'AP's Misreading of GAO Report Repeated Uncritically by Other Media

Washington, D.C., August 12, 2008 - An AP article today on the GAO's [US Government Accountability Office] new report on corporate tax liabilities contains a serious error that undermines the story's thesis.

The AP reported that, according to the GAO study comparing tax liabilities of corporations from 1998-2005, "about 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes [in 2005] were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts." Furthermore, this claim was repeated in numerous stories.

After careful review of the AP's story, Tax Foundation economist Josh Barro found that the AP significantly overstated the number of large corporations not paying corporate taxes.

"The actual report reflects that, of the 1.26 million U.S. corporations with no 2005 tax liability, just 3,565 were large," says Barro. "That's 0.28%, which is 90 times less than the figure reported by the AP. Policymakers and the public should not be deceived by this story that misrepresents the GAO report."'

Bah- 0.28% and 25%, whats the difference? The point is, the NARRATIVE was correct. Hate hate hate the big Corporations right?

Can't win for losing

This article reflects exactly my thinking on the Georgia situation- Russia had done everything right, but because of Putins clunking inability to do diplomacy...

'we have since seen the following developments:

Four presidents and one prime minister from Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic states arrived in Tblisi to show solidarity with the Georgians. They addressed a large, enthusiastic crowd alongside Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili.

George Bush issued a strong statement condemning Russian behavior, put the Pentagon in charge of humanitarian aid and reconstruction in Georgia, and sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to demonstrate U.S. backing for Georgia.

Poland signed the missile defense agreement with the U.S. that Russian prime minister (and de facto leader) Vladimir Putin had strongly and aggressively opposed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany — the country that had blocked the applications of Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO at the spring Bucharest summit — announced on her visit to Tblisi that Georgia’s membership was still open. In doing so she joined several other Western politicians and officials, including the NATO secretary general, who held out the continued prospect of NATO membership.

Ukraine, having left the Russian missile-defense system, has offered its interceptors to the new NATO one.'

It has been evident for some years now that this Russian administration just don't get international diplomacy. They seem to think that you can act like mafiosi and threaten people with extra-judicial murder and cutting off their vital supplies, and then merrily wander off to the next international diplomatic junket. What washes in Russia just doesn't wash in the West. And if Russia is ever going to challenge powerhouse economies like Brazil, it is going to need western money, expertise and good will. Lets face it, if the worlds largest country, with enormous natural resources, and a population twice that of France has HALF the GDP of the latter, you aren't doing well. Especially if your main export is oil... Much of that has to do with the brutality and criminality of the Russian business environment.

And sadly, there is a confluence of power between the top political criminals and the top business criminals in Russia. They are often the same people. The Russian constitution is a meaningless scrap of paper, as evidenced by Putin running the show in Georgia despite that being officially none of his business. It was funny in a sad way to see Medvedev plodding along in Putins wake like forlorn puppy. If Russians really want to head into the middle of the 21st century with a medieval kingship, are we in a position to chide them? Well, yes really. Because there are millions of good, honest, educated Russians who hate their newly rediscovered national pariah status, their lowest-common-denominator kleptocracy and the perennial loser attitude once again to the fore in international relations.

A strong, confident vibrant Russia is something everybody should want. But that is not what we have.

Friday, August 01, 2008

He'll need all the German and French votes he can get

Hilarious. Go on a World Victory Tour, get 200,000 Germans to come worship you, and watch your US poll ratings plummet. Couldn't happen to a nicer chap. All I can say is, I don't think this is short term. It reflects a long slow slide from utter dominance at the beginning of the Democratic primaries (I remember Obama polled 73% approval rating at one point) to todays middling mediocrity.

McCains support has been amazingly stable- but then the people who decided to vote for him are not wishy washy head-in-the-clouds teenagers or liberals. I'd count on virtually all McCains supporters turning out on a freezing, rainy November day; Obamas ditzy cheerleaders not so much.

Obama and the blue-collar vote,CST-EDT-Carol30.article

'A few hours after leaving the "Women for Obama" luncheon, I ran into Sarah, not her real name. I've known her for a few years. A single mom, she free-lances, working as many jobs as she can to support two growing boys. She dreams of a permanent gig with benefits, but it's still just a dream.

A 37-year-old Democrat, she is also a college grad and a news junkie who has watched this campaign like a hawk. She surprised me with her anger Tuesday, saying she's voting for McCain.

To Sarah, Barack Obama is like the organic chicken at lunch. Sleek, elegant, beautifully prepared. Too cool.

Though both Obamas have spoken often and in great personal detail of their own humble beginnings, of Michelle's hardworking blue-collar dad and Barack's struggling single mom on food stamps, it somehow hasn't sold Sarah. You might ask if she was a die-hard Clinton supporter. The answer is yes, a supporter, but die-hard? Not really.'

My feeling about the whole Victory Tour of Europe episode was that it would reinforce certain aspects of the Obama phenomenon that would not help him. The one that strikes me the most is the strong smell of entitlement coming from both Obamas. For millions and millions of Americans like the woman above, the arrogant sashaying around is a real smack in the face for people whose daily existence is a grind, and who are never the beneficiary of minority entitlements, or indeed any kind of entitlements. Both Obamas have cushy jobs that are very generously paid, but they don't seem even a bit grateful, nor conscious of just how lucky and rare their good fortune is. Bill Clinton always managed to persuade working class Americans that he fundamentally understood what made them tick, and in what ways their lives were both tough and rewarding.

Obama, with his musing about 'God, Guns and xenophobia' shows that his understanding of blue-collar America is theoretical at best. Bill Clinton vibrated at the same tonal levels as many millions of working class Americans, a fact they recognised subliminally and voted accordingly. Obama just doesn't. Going to Europe and poncing around reinforced that perception amongst an essential tranche of the US electorate- the regular joe (and joelene) in the low-paying job.