For the week of 7/13/2014 to 7/19/2014
Yes, Big Bad Vlad is this week's squirrel. You might think that Vlad shouldn't count as a squirrel, and you're probably right. But the shooting down of the MH17, while almost certainly done by Russian backed rebels, shouldn't really be a geopolitical event. The reason is this: What the Hell were people thinking flying a civilian airliner through a war-zone? That is the height of irresponsibility. However bad these pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels might be, they are actually fighting a war, and should be expected to shoot at people and things they don't recognize as friends.
So talk of Vladimir Putin's awfulness is entirely beside the point. As is talk of pressuring Russia to cease hostilities. They'll likely stop when good and ready, but I doubt anything the US can do will accomplish anything meaningful, save perhaps to fuel Lurch's ambitions to be President. Europe, which has large amounts of trade with Russia, will have to lead on this front, and they're entirely ambivalent about doing anything. Russia has them by the short and curlies at least as much as they have Russia by the short and curlies. But as it is, Europe is so serious about opposing Russian ambitions that they're selling weapons to Russia!
So, Vlad really is a squirrel, you see, because all the bluff and bluster means nothing.
Monday, July 21, 2014
For the week of 7/13/2014 to 7/19/2014
Thursday, July 17, 2014
From Razib Khan:
Qatar is going to spend $200 billion over a 10 year period on amenities for soccer because it is hosting the World Cup in 2022. Yes, the World Cup is a very big deal. But did you know that NASA’s budget for 2012 was less than 20 billion dollars. In other words Qatar could create its own rival to NASA if it wanted. But why would they?Comments number 2 and 7 are particularly noteworthy. A warning, though: Don't comment at Razib's site unless you've got a good point and can express it clearly, as he moderates comments and is brutal about it. (I thank him for that, too.)
More thoughts later, if I can find two functions brain cells in my cranium and get them talking to each other.
ADDED: Actually, a thought now. It should be noted that Qatar is a small country, and that the money they are spending is basically for a one-off event. A lot of what they're doing will be completely pointless by 2023.
Of course, in 2014 one could say the same about the entire history of the US manned-space program from 1959 to 2011, given that we can no longer get people into orbit ourselves unless we hitch a ride with a country with whom we have hostile relations. Progress!
Monday, July 14, 2014
Sunday, July 13, 2014
For the week of 7/6/2014 to 7/12/2014
Last week we started hearing about the need to be kind to poor "migrant" "children" flooding across the borders. Given that a large percentage (I've seen numbers reported as high as 80%, but who can tell when the Administration is keeping everything this secret?) of these children are 14 or older (allegedly), and that they're coming here with no intent to return, this is just blatant manipulation.
Sunday, July 06, 2014
For the week of 6/29/2014 to 7/5/2014
The Border Meltdown continues, the employment report was NOT as good as the headlines suggest, we're still 3,671,000 full-time jobs short of where we were before the recession started, and any number of other issues, and a tragic story of little significance to those outside the Atlanta area is sucking the air out of the news.
Just another week of hard-hitting "journalism".
Thursday, July 03, 2014
For the week of 6/22/2014 to 6/28/2014
Again, we didn't really get a squirrel last week. There's too much happening for even the American news media to come up with squirrels for diversion. I almost choose The DREAMer for the squirrel, or rather the propoganda version of same, but all those propaganda efforts have failed to hide that the US Federal government has unilaterally dissolved the southern border.
UPDATE: Fuckin' A, bubba! CNN is featuring a story on Casey Anthony today (July 3). Between this and that case in Cobb County, Georgia, Nancy Grace must be in Heaven.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014
Other significant findings include:Remember all this when our lords and masters feed you that line of bullshit about not having enough native labor to do the jobs. If that were true, wages would be rising, but the opposite has been occurring. It's the people running the country, people like Obama and Bush (pick one), Boehner and Pelosi, Reid and McConnell, and all the big money behind them, such as Buffet, Zuckerberg and Soros, against most of the rest of the country.
- Because the native-born population grew significantly, but the number working actually fell, there were 17 million more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.
- The share of natives working or looking for work, referred to as labor force participation, shows the same decline as the employment rate. In fact, labor force participation has continued to decline for working-age natives even after the jobs recovery began in 2010.
- Immigrants have made gains across the labor market, including lower-skilled jobs such as maintenance, construction, and food service; middle-skilled jobs like office support and health care support; and higher-skilled jobs, including management, computers, and health care practitioners.
- The supply of potential workers is enormous: 8.7 million native college graduates are not working, as are 17 million with some college, and 25.3 million with no more than a high school education.
Unfortunately both parties have enough stooges and useful idiots that we can't get any real change in the direction of the country.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
What the title says. Got a suggestion for a completely non-relevant person, place or thing that is taking away attention from the real news of the day? Let me know here. Nominations are for the week running from 6/22/2014 to 6/28/2014. The judge's decision, though, will ultimately be his own, and will be subject to completely arbitrary criteria.
Monday, June 23, 2014
For the week of 6/15/2014 to 6/21/2014
Not much in the way of Squirrel action last week, either, but Hillary did manage to take the title away from Government IT Guy. The Hillary book, plus the Hillary book tour, plus the reporting on the problems with the Hillary book sales and the Hillary book tour interviews made her the winner, although again it was a week dominated by actual news. Government IT Guy getting thrown under the bus was a distraction from real news, but it was also a case of actual news, too.
But I just can't take the kick-off to Hillary's latest Presidential run seriously. Partly it is that I just don't believe that she will be the Dem Nominee in 2016 (due to age and campaign-competence factors), and partly because I refuse to acknowledge that this crap matters at this stage.
Monday, June 16, 2014
From ComputerWorld: Read it and weep. And remember this the next time some Tech Billionaire complains that there aren't Americans capable of or willing to do the work. They're lying, as are the bastards in government trying to expand the H-1B visa program. This is all about driving down wages in this country.
There was no Squirrel of the Week! They tried to resurrect the OJ story, and if they had succeeded in a meaningful way I would have named OJ Simpson as Squirrel of the Week. But it didn't happen! On the day CNN.com heavily promoted a story featuring Kato Kaelin, Mosul fell. With all the grim news last week, squirrels were largely ignored.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Okay, so this group ISIS is overrunning large sections of Iraq, and may well take over most of the non-Kurdish parts.
Many here and elsewhere believe that we (the USA) need to act to protect that government. Also pledging support to the Iraqi government are the Ba'athist regime of Bashar Assad, and the Ayatollahs of Iran. ISIS is also fighting a war with al Qaeda in Syria at the moment, and at this point in time are probably the world's most accomplished killers of al Qaeda.
So, if we do what so many think we should do, we will be allying ourselves with al Qaeda, Ba'athists and the Ayatollahs.
This is more fucked up than fizbin. This is more fucked up than a German porno. In fact, I think we can safely say that our foreign policy has jumped the shark.
I think it may be time to admit that the Middle East is too much for us to handle, and to get the Hell out.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Bowe Bergdahl, our first repeat winner!
I've picked Bowe Bergdahl as the winner the last two weeks because he is he distraction within a distraction. Let me explain.
First, Bergdahl's status (as either the All-American Hero to hear the Administration tell it, as a deserter to hear his former platoon members tell it, or as a possible traitor to hear many others tell it) is largely irrelevant. It would be relevant if he is a traitor, but that has not been determined in legal fashion, and if we want to maintain the fiction that we are a nation of laws and not a nation of men, that matters. He's one of ours and at least in theory we should want him back even if it is to try him for treason and hang him.
Second, the emotional state of both Bergdahl and his family is largely irrelevant to most of us. We don't know them, and we don't know what pressures they've been subjected to. I would be happy if we left the parents alone. (That implies they leave the public arena, though. The father may be unwilling to do that.)
No, what matters isn't who we traded for, but rather (a) that we traded in the first place, (b) the terms of the trade, and (c) how the trade was executed.
Concerning (a), a reasonable case can be made for conducting a prisoner swap. Such things have been done in prior wars, they will be done in future wars. But was a prisoner swap really the reason for this trade? I don't believe that it was.
I believe getting Bergdahl back was merely cover for doing the trade in the first place. I suspect the Administration is trying to prove its good faith with the Taliban in order to negotiate a political settlement to the situation in Afghanistan. We're leaving (as have just about every other force that has invaded Afghanistan for centuries), we're leaving an approximately allied government behind, we have not defeated our enemies in that miserable land, and the Administration and the American people are in a hurry to get the Hell out of that benighted land and forget about it. A political "solution" to the conflict would provide good cover for the US, and particularly for the President and the Democratic Party. I believe this is all about proving to the Taliban that we're good guys that can be trusted as a basis for future good faith negotiations. I think this is a sign of total stupidity and incompetence on the part of the Administration, at best, but that's neither here nor there for this post.
Concerning (b), I don't think anyone but the Administration and its sycophants believe this trade was a good deal. Based on the reaction in the media and in Congress, even some of the sycophants think this deal stinks. You can read widely about that everywhere, and I won't go over it here as I've nothing to add.
Concerning (c) .... Well, here's the rub. A tremendous amount can be said about how this trade was done.
First off, my understanding at the moment is that the Administration didn't really negotiate at all - the Taliban simply told them how things would be, end of discussion. So much for negotiating prowess.
Secondly, the Administration apparently overrode many internal disagreements within the executive branch in order to make the trade. This is a matter for some concern, but not too much. Ultimately the President is the person in charge, and what he commands (within Constitutional limits - see below) his subordinates should do, or should resign. But it is interesting that this deal was ready to go two years ago and the internal pressure within the Administration killed the deal. It wasn't until they traded for another Republican SecDef that they overcame internal resistance to the deal. This is all interesting and worthy of debate.
Thirdly, the Administration ignored both Congress and the Constitution in order to make this deal. By a law that this President signed, he was to give Congress 30 days notice before letting anyone go from Guantanamo. He didn't do this. And for those doubting that the President has to follow Congress on these matters, I can point to the Constitution itself (thanks to Dave Schuler for pointing out the particulars). Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution contains the following two clauses:
(11) To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; [emphasis added]
(14) To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;That seems pretty straightforward. The Administration's claims that they needed to limit the number of people that knew about the deal to protect Bergdahl's life, and that they needed to act with alacrity in order to save Bergdahl's life, both seem to lack credibility at this point. And they seem to know it as they keep changing tactics for justifying the deal.
Fourth, the Administration's roll out of this swap and reaction to the response has been astonishingly inept. The tone deafness of it all suggests an Administration that has never had any contact with any actual Americans ever. Not only does the Emperor have no clothes, neither does anyone on his staff. In fact, none of them seem to have ever heard of the concept of clothing. The fact that the Administration is this isolated is probably the biggest issue concerning this matter.I'll stop at this point, and return to Bergdahl's status as a squirrel. Nothing about Bowe Bergdahl the individual or the soldier pertains to (a), (b), or (c) as listed above. Discussions of him and his status are a separate issue, and frankly a minor issue. Large and important matters of foreign policy, prisoner exchanges before a war has concluded, and Presidential authority to ignore the Congress and the Constitution are at hand, as well as the problem of a dangerously isolated President. Every minute discussing Bergdahl is mere distraction to issues that are far more important.
But even here, with the importance of some of these issues, other issues are at hand, issues which cover most of the larger issues listed above and have much greater impact on America. And the prisoner exchange provides a distraction from those issues.
A partial list:
: The country's economy continues to be a shambles, and neither the President nor anyone in Congress really wants to address the topic. I won't go into much in the way of details, but we are at a minimum a good 10,000,000 jobs below where we need to be to pretend we have full employment, the jobs that are out there are of diminishing quality (more part-time work, more temp work, more service work, lower pay, etc.), consumer debt is rising, etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
: Questions of the Administration's basic competence at governance abound. Everything from the VA scandal, the IRS/FBI scandal, the botched roll-out of the ObamaCare exchanges, the Administration effectively changing laws without Congress, to the fact of the Administration completely refusing to enforce border control or immigration policy all point to an Administration that has no competence at anything other than getting elected. Given that we've got two and a half more years of this coming, this is important.
: The apparent lawlessness of this Administration is becoming more and more apparent. This overlaps the second point. As someone quipped recently, Obama has become the President that Nixon always wished he could be.* The attitude is very much one of complete contempt for everything that has long distinguished American politics: the President and his minions are anti-federalist, anti-republican**, anti-Constitutional restraints on Presidential authority. They are completely ignoring any and every law that inconveniences them. Discussing this prisoner swap at any level besides this and  is a distraction.
These issues are all far more important than this prisoner swap, and the prisoner swap itself is far more important that anything about Bowe Bergdahl. Truly, Bergdahl is the distraction within a distraction.
Bowe Bergdahl may well be the Squirrel of the Year.
* "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal." Richard M. Nixon, TV interview with David Frost, May 20, 1977
** Please note the lower-case 'r'.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Sunday, May 25, 2014
At least in part.
Amongst all the talk and writing about the recent spree killings in Santa Barbara is the idea that we shouldn't give this "loser" publicity.
I do agree with this in part: We shouldn't make a "celebrity" out of such people. (Apparently there are some people "swooning" over the killer on Twitter. I'm not going to bother linking to stories about that, as I'm sure that of my three (potential) readers, all are capable of finding the stories for themselves.)
However, that doesn't mean the case shouldn't be discussed.
First off, I don't think calling this person a "loser" is either accurate (in the way conveyed) or helpful. I haven't gone out of my way to read about this story, but it is abundantly clear that this individual was deeply disturbed and could accurately be described as broken, and had been for a very long time. He himself identifies his problems as going back to when he was fourteen. His problems probably went back even farther.
He complained that he had been rejected by girls since that age, and thought that the problem. More likely that was merely a symptom. What girl in her right mind would want to be with someone so obviously and deeply disturbed as he apparently was?
No, most likely something was very wrong with him, possibly from birth, but at least from a long time back. Since I have the advantages of obscurity I can even speculate that whatever was wrong with him was probably as severe as schizophrenia, even if that wasn't his particular problem.
In light of that, showing what was wrong with him may help others in the future identify other such broken individuals, and may help prevent similar crimes from occurring. Someone recently prevented a possible massacre, though in that case it seems that it was mere observation of suspicious behavior rather than knowledge of the suspect individual. But perhaps greater awareness of such mentally disturbed individuals might prevent future massacres.
In fact, someone in the Santa Barbara killer's family appears to have called the authorities with concerns about the state of the killer at the end of April. Unfortunately the authorities weren't able to do anything at that time to hold the individual. But perhaps greater awareness can eventually lead to more effective preventative methods.
But covering this up won't accomplish anything. Besides, the internet provides everyone with the ability to publicize their own crimes, as the killer's "manifesto" and YouTube videos prove. These things can't really be covered up anyway.
Posted by Icepick at 5/25/2014 05:00:00 PM
I used to worry not that I was being too cynical, but that I wasn't being cynical enough.
Now I know that I'm definitely not being cynical enough, at least regards the world beyond the confines of my home. (I have just the right amount of cynicism for dealing with a four year-old.)