Rule Five Friday

2014_06_20_Rule Five Friday (1)Let’s talk about Iraq again, just for a bit, as things are still developing.  First up is this bit from the always-worth-reading Dr. Thomas Sowell:  A Bitter After-Taste.  Excerpt:

Some say that we should never have gone into Iraq in the first place. Others say we should never have pulled our troops out when we did, leaving behind a weak and irresponsible government in charge.

At a minimum, Iraq should put an end to the notion of “nation-building,” especially nation-building on the cheap, and to the glib and heady talk of “national greatness” interventionists who were prepared to put other people’s lives on the line from the safety of their editorial offices.

Those who are ready to blame President George W. Bush for everything bad that has happened since he left office should at least acknowledge that he was a patriotic American president who did what he did for the 2014_06_20_Rule Five Friday (2)good of the country — an assumption that we can no longer safely make about the current occupant of the White House.

I rarely disagree with Dr. Sowell and do not disagree with the substance of his assertions in this article, although in response to that last point in the excerpt I tend to think President Obama’s misadventures in foreign policy are probably better ascribed to ineptitude than maliciousness.  And let’s be honest, a good deal of that ineptitude was on the part of the previous administration as well, not least of which was the notion – as Dr. Sowell points out – that we could do nation-building “on the cheap.”

But the end result is the same – gains won at the expense of American blood and treasure are not dissolving, giving way to gains made by the very worst sort of bloodthirsty, Dark Ages-type savages.

So what to do?  Our pals at The Atheist Conservative have some interesting ideas on the matter.  Excerpt:

2014_06_20_Rule Five Friday (3)Yes. It would be greatly good if the savage fight now underway between two Muslim armies in Iraq, Sunni and Shia, could end in the destruction of both.

We quote from an article at American Thinker, by Mike Konrad, who argues the desirability of leaving the two sides to fight it out:

    I know, I know, the recent ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) gains have everyone scared. No doubt, the Islamophilic administration will want to step in, and save Islam from itself once again.  Let me advocate a course of action that will make sense to all sides in America; the left and right; from militarists to pacifists: Let the Muslims kill each other. …

    ISIS is presently a large group of thugs with guns. They have no navy, no air force, except for a few captured helicopters, which they will soon break.  The only ones they can threaten are their fellow Muslims. If they take over Iraq, who cares? They will soon reduce the Levant to the seventh century.

2014_06_20_Rule Five Friday (4)Yr. obdt. approves – that may indeed be the best option for the United States to follow.  Let them kill each other, and by all means let Russia and China also attempt to wrestle with the Mesopotamian tar baby.  We’ve had enough.  There may even be some pieces to pick up when the dust settles – then again, there may not.

Either way, I think we’ve done enough.  There have been mistakes made in the past, but that’s past – and as that great American philosopher and sage, W.C. Fields, was known to state:  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Then quit.  No point in making a damn fool of yourself over it.”

2014_06_20_Rule Five Friday (5)

Animal’s Daily News

Fishing BearAaaannd the Obama slide into lame-duckery continues – nay, accelerates.  Excerpt:

President Obama’s approval rating has dropped to 41 percent, a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of foreign policy issues, he has lost support from the Hispanic community and Americans actually think his administration is less competent than the Bush White House post-Hurricane Katrina, according to a new survey from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.

In short, the poll is nothing but bad news for the president.

The survey would appear to be so bad, in fact, that NBC News’ Chuck Todd said Tuesday that the poll basically means the public has declared the Obama presidency to be over.

This is what we get for putting a Kelly Girl in the White House.

While I did not vote for Barack Obama (a choice which I think recent history has proved correct) and consider him the least competent President of my lifetime – a lifetime, I hasten to point out, which has included Presidents Nixon and Carter – I do not ascribe to the “he is a closet Muslim/fifth columnist/Manchurian candidate” school of thought.  I do think he is easily the least capable man to sit in the White House since Andrew Johnson – maybe since James Buchanan.

There is an old saw that state “never ascribe to malicious intent Fishing Trip Bearwhat may more easily be attributed to incompetence.”  Barack Obama, accurately described as a product of the Chicago Machine, a Hyde Park liberal and a disciple of Saul Alinsky, is incompetent and what’s worse, he surrounds himself with incompetents.  (As evidence I present our current SecState.)

It’s possible that in another twenty years, with the seasoning that comes with age and experience, he may have made a better President.  Then again, he may not have.  But now, all we can do is hope for his replacement to be someone capable of undoing much of the previous eight years.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Inflation, anyone? Some quick indicators:

Gasoline at U.S. Pumps Set to Hit Six-Year Seasonal High.  No surprises there – the current Administration has been openly hostile towards any form of energy development in the continental United States, Alaska and any of our coastal waters.

Price Index for Meats, Poultry, Fish & Eggs Rockets to All-Time High.  Note that these first two indicators hit everyone – everyone – right where they live.

Consumer Prices Rise Sharply in May.  No shit.

Note that every action the pols in the Imperial City and the Fed have taken since about 2007 have been inflationary; one of the few things holding inflation in check have been interest rates, held artificially low by the Fed for a loooooong time now.

Shy BearBut remember Stein’s Law.  This situation can not continue indefinitely; sooner or later something will break, and rising interest rates will drive capital costs through the roof, squashing growth, or maybe another housing market collapse will crush homeowner equity, or maybe another stock market collapse will destroy millions of taxpayers’ retirement funds.

Every major financial crisis since the Civil War has been caused not by the free operation of markets but by government interference in markets.  The next one will be no exception.

Animal’s Daily (Science) News

Harp BearA few tidbits from the world of science:

It seems there is now a super-banana.  The bananas are engineered to contain boosted levels of several essential vitamins.  One wonders if this will get the anti-GMO nitwits all spun up, and if they will attempt to deprive African children of a tasty source of essential vitamins.

Star within a star discovered.  Insert the obligatory joke about the marital lives of Hollywood actors here.

On that note:  Why are these bears having oral sex?  Now there’s a question you didn’t expect to see asked.

From the “answers to questions nobody is asking” category:  Mystery solved:  why a Turkish family walks on all fours.

What if the Earth stopped spinning?  (video.)  Maybe all of the politicians would be flung into space – in which case it would be tempting to conclude it was worth it.

Finally, bonobos reveal the evolution of human kindness.  Since there seems to be a rather dramatic shortage of human kindness going around the world at the moment, maybe we should ask the bonobos for a refresher lesson?

On that kindly note, we return you to your Tuesday, already in progress.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Once more into the workday breach, dear friends, once more!

Also once more, our thanks to Robert Stacy and Smitty (and Wombat-socho) for the Rule Five links.  Danke!  Vielen danke!

This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: War Was Interested in Obama.  Excerpt:

Leon Trotsky probably did not quite write the legendary aphorism that “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” But whoever did, you get the point that no nation can always pick and choose when it wishes to be left alone.

Barack Obama, however, never quite realized that truth, and so just declared that “the world is less violent than it has ever been.” He must have meant less violent in the sense that the bad guys are winning and as they do, the violence wanes — sort of like Europe around March 1941, when all was relatively quiet under the new continental Reich.

One of Obama’s talking points in the 2012 campaign included a boast that he had “ended” the war in Iraq by bringing home every U.S. soldier that had been left to ensure the relative quiet and stability after the successful Petraeus surge. In the world of Obama, a war can be declared ended because he said so, given that no Americans were any longer directly involved. (Remind the ghosts of the recently beheaded in now al Qaeda-held Mosul that the war ended there in 2011.)

Iraq is in flames, as is “lead from behind” Libya, as is “red line” Syria, and as are those places where an al Qaeda “on the run” has migrated. Had Obama been commander in chief in 1940, he would have assured us that the wars in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and France were “over” — as they were in a sense for those who lost them, but as they were not for those next in line.

Angry-BearSomeone once said “history may not repeat, but it frequently rhymes.”  That may be the case here, not just in Mesopotamia but also in Europe, where Vladimir Putin is loudly proclaiming he has no territorial ambitions beyond the Sudetenland Crimea.

Predictions are notoriously hard to make, especially when they’re about the future – but it’s hard to look at the state of global affairs today and see anything much good coming out of the next decade or so.

Rule Five Friday

2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (1)Are School Homicides Becoming the Norm?  Short answer:  No.  Long answer:  Read the article.  Excerpt:

In the aftermath of yesterday’s shooting at an Oregon high school, the president worried that such slayings are “becoming the norm.” I’ve written skeptically in the past about whether the number of mass shootings in America is actually increasing, as the word becoming implies—see my posts here, here, and here—but there’s always a haze of uncertainty around those numbers, thanks to the varying definitions of “mass shooting” that different people use.

2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (2)But maybe that isn’t the best thing to be measuring in the first place. The Oregon incident isn’t a “mass” shooting at all—the gunman killed two people, and one of those was himself—but it obviously speaks to the same sorts of fear and grief. If your son was just shot, after all, it’s hardly a comfort that his classmates survived. A map darting around the Internet this week claims to show all the school shootings since Sandy Hook. Note the modifier: school, not mass.

Here is the report mentioned in the article, Indicators of School Crime 2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (3)and Safety, 2013.   Read it for yourself.  One relevant highlight:

Of the 31 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011, there were 25 homicides and 6 suicides. During the same time period, there were 11 homicides and 3 suicides of school-age youth (ages 5–18) at school.

During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school. During the 2010 calendar year, 3 of the 1,456 suicides of youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.

2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (4)Compare that to a typical weekend in, say, Chicago.

I don’t want to belittle any event of violence in any school, anywhere.  But as an Objectivist, I am compelled to evaluate facts – and the facts are that school shootings, while tragic, are not epidemic, and not increasing, demagoguery by some in the media aside – the numbers simply do not add up.

Reason concludes:

This much is clear: If you’re wondering where kids are likely to die, the answer plainly isn’t a classroom. (Quoting the BJS report one more time: “During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.”) And in the period for which we have clear data, the school homicide rate moved in the same 2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (5)direction as the overall homicide rate: downward. To bring it still lower, the first question to ask is what happened to get us that far.

Let’s also ask this:  What is the common thread among all of the highly-publicized mass shootings that have happened in the last several years?  One comes immediately to mind:  A history of untreated or undertreated mental illness.

Root cause analysis, True Believers – it’s something nobody in the media a) knows how to do, and 2) gives a damn about.

2014_06_13_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily News

eric_cantor_betting_against_americaSo, what happened to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor?

Reason.com has some ideas:

Who Is Dave Brat? Take a Look at the Ayn Rand Loving, Immigration Reform Hating, Cato Institute Referencing Man Who Beat Eric Cantor.  (That first qualification for Brat is interesting, being a Randian myself.)

Why Did GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Lose His Primary?  Because he spent too much time trying to be a national figure instead of listening to his constituents?   Because he was increasingly seen as part of the Washington establishment?

Eric Cantor to Step Down As House Majority Leader Following Primary Loss, Throwing GOP Leadership Into Chaos. 

Well, sure they are in chaos – Majority Leaders have lost elections before, but being shot down in the primaries – that’s something new.

Dave Brat, an economics professor described as a Randian and a free-market advocate (the two pretty much go hand-in-hand) is widely described as a Tea Party favorite, but I don’t think that factored into his primary victory nearly as much as Cantor’s Sleepy-Beartone-deafness to the people who set him in office.

It seems an occupational hazard of those we send to Washington that they forget they are not our leaders, but rather our employees.  In the House, particularly, they forget that they are not national figures but are elected to represent their Congressional district, and to present what the voters of that district see as their own best interests.

Cantor, evidently, forgot that.  And it cost him.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Let’s have a look at the current state of the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign:

Hillary Clinton Launches Book Tour, Slams Team Obama for ‘Sexism’ in 2008 Race.

Poor Mrs. Clinton (based on a verbal gaffe of astounding proportions.)

The backtracking begins: Hillary hustles to halt fallout from ‘dead broke’ controversy.  That comment, as noted above, rated about a 8.9 out of 10 on the Whoops-O-Meter.

ABC News’s Diane Sawyer destroys Hillary Rodham Clinton on Benghazi.

Honestly, all the this kerfuffle over Mrs. Clinton’s supposed 2016 campaign is, at this juncture, nothing but moonshine.  She is widely presumed to be the obvious candidate, but at this point in the 2008 campaign everyone knew the race would end up being a match-up between Mrs. Clinton and Rudy Giuliani – and we all know how that turned out.   If yr. obdt, was to hazard a guess, that guess would be that she will end up not being the 2016 nominee, if for no other reason simply that she really isn’t very good at campaigning – odd, since she is married to Bill Clinton, who despite his obvious and manifold personal faults was and is still one of the most capable political operators of our time.

Hillary is carrying around more baggage than a Samsonite warehouse.  Benghazi alone should be enough to sink her candidacy – but she does have one advantage.

Who else are the Democrats going to run?

Daffy old Uncle Joe Biden, who can’t open his mouth without something ridiculous coming out?

Derp BearElizabeth “Fauxcohantas” Warren?

Rahm Emmanuel?

If the GOP is smart enough to nominate a strong, principled, articulate candidate who can appeal to the largely independent Millennial vote – Rand Paul comes to mind – we may see an electoral landslide.  But I wouldn’t bet any serious money on that.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.