Election 2014: New Democratic Strategy Goes After Koch Brothers
This depresses me beyond words:
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 25, 2014
Of the photo, the LA Times reports:
North Korea appears to be missing in an image taken from space.
NASA says of the nighttime image, taken from the International Space Station: “North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China. The darkened land appears as if it were a patch of water joining the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan.”
Capital city Pyongyang has a population of more than 3 million, yet is a tiny island of light.
The dictator-ruled nation is in the dark in more ways than one. Electricity is sporadic and unreliable, with those who have it often receiving power only a few hours a day, according to U.S. News & World Report. Citizens struggle with chronic fuel shortages. Most get their fuel for heating and cooking on the black market, Global Post reports, or go out and gather fuel — such as firewood — themselves.
Lisa Ling, a journalist who was imprisoned in North Korea, wrote about the nation and creeping change in 2012 in the L.A. Times. She noted that North Korea was as “isolated and backward” as South Korea was “wired and technologically advanced.” The average North Korean, she said, has no knowledge of YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.
As the article insinuated, where there is no shining light there is no power for the people of North Korea – in more ways than one.
I weep – and pray.
**Posted by Phineas
Long ago, the Roman writer Vegetius wrote perhaps the wisest thing anyone has ever written regarding war and peace:
“If you want peace, prepare for war.”
In other words, if your potential foes know you are strong, that you are willing to use force to defend your interests, and that they are not likely to win, then they will not pick a fight with you.
President Obama and his dullard Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, have evidently never read Vegetius:
Stating that a postwar environment was the time to do some shrinking, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled a budget proposal Monday that reduces the Army to pre-World War II levels despite “a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances more threatening to the United States.”
“Our force structure and modernization recommendations are rooted in three realities: first, after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations; second, we must maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries; and, third, the military must be ready and capable to respond quickly to all contingencies and decisively defeat any opponent should deterrence fail,” Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon today.
You can read the details in Bridget Johnson’s article, but, quickly, the Army would be reduced to 450,000 soldiers, the Marine Corps to 182,000, the Navy would be kept at 11 carrier battle groups (unless further cuts are needed), and, among other cuts, the Air Force would eliminate its entire force of A-10 “warthog” ground-support aircraft. I’m sure infantrymen everywhere are thrilled with that one.
Hagel’s opening statement is nonsensical: in one breath he proposes devastating cuts to our military capabilities, while, in the other, he claims (rightly) that the world is growing “more volatile, more unpredictable,” and “more threatening.” When he claims this configuration will allow us to defend ourselves from foes by relying on high tech, he ignores his own assertion that the world is unpredictable. Who knew on September 10th, 2001, in the wake of the Clinton-era defense cuts, that we would find ourselves in a war that required liberating and occupying two nations? While we are leaving Afghanistan and have left Iraq (God help them), we are still at war with a transnational terror group waging holy war against us. What if they should take over another country as a base (Syria? Mali? Iraq, again?)? Do we then shrug our shoulders and say “No can do?” What if North Korea decides to invade the South, again? Those A-10s will be sorely missed, I guarantee it.
Those are just two among the myriad possible threats we face as dictators grow emboldened by our feckless leadership. When Ronald Reagan launched our military buildup in the 1980s, it wasn’t just to have plenty of ships and tanks on hand, it was to demonstrate a will to resist the world’s tyrants, so that they would make no miscalculation. The Obama-Hagel defense cuts, on the other hand send just the opposite message, one of weakness and a lack of confidence, of opportunity for the enemy because this administration is renouncing our traditional role as guarantor of a liberal world order.
And it’s deliberate. In an essay that now seems truly prescient, Charles Krauthammer made it plain that, for an ideology that sees American power as a problem, not a solution, for the world’s challenges, decline is a choice, one made in sacrifice to the desire to turn the US into a gelded European social democracy:
This is not the place to debate the intrinsic merits of the social democratic versus the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism. There’s much to be said for the decency and relative equity of social democracy. But it comes at a cost: diminished social mobility, higher unemployment, less innovation, less dynamism and creative destruction, less overall economic growth.
This affects the ability to project power. Growth provides the sinews of dominance–the ability to maintain a large military establishment capable of projecting power to all corners of the earth. The Europeans, rich and developed, have almost no such capacity. They made the choice long ago to devote their resources to a vast welfare state. Their expenditures on defense are minimal, as are their consequent military capacities. They rely on the U.S. Navy for open seas and on the U.S. Air Force for airlift. It’s the U.S. Marines who go ashore, not just in battle, but for such global social services as tsunami relief. The United States can do all of this because we spend infinitely more on defense–more than the next nine countries combined.
Those are the conditions today. But they are not static or permanent. They require constant renewal. The express agenda of the New Liberalism is a vast expansion of social services–massive intervention and expenditures in energy, health care, and education–that will necessarily, as in Europe, take away from defense spending.
This shift in resources is not hypothetical. It has already begun. At a time when hundreds of billions of dollars are being lavished on stimulus and other appropriations in an endless array of domestic programs, the defense budget is practically frozen. Almost every other department is expanding, and the Defense Department is singled out for making “hard choices”–forced to look everywhere for cuts, to abandon highly advanced weapons systems, to choose between readiness and research, between today’s urgencies and tomorrow’s looming threats.
That was in 2009, and now we’re seeing the inevitable product of that vast expansion of the welfare state. And the world is going to become much more dangerous because of it.
To paraphrase Vegetius, “If you want war, pretend your enemy wants peace.”
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
**Posted by Phineas
This is truly a popcorn-worthy use of your time, my friends.
Background: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), one of the leading progressives in the Senate, took a trip to Cuba recently. Perfectly legal, members of Congress can go on such fact-finding missions when they wish. The senator must have visited an alternate-Earth Cuba, however, because, when he came back, he had nothing but praise for the Communist dictatorship:
It makes sense that as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Tom Harkin would want to check out how other countries are doing when it comes to public health. So he spent last week in Cuba, where he saw all sorts of things that made quite the impression on him.
Cuba is a “poor country, but they have a lower child mortality rate than ours,” the Iowa Democrat said to reporters Wednesday. “Their life expectancy is now greater than ours. It’s interesting—their public health system is quite remarkable.”
This was all a bit much for Marco Rubio (R-FL), himself the son of Cuban refugees who had to flee the island to escape that wonderful health system, and so much else. (1) So, in a speech before the Senate, he proceeded to mop the floor with Harkin’s useful idiocy. From the Miami Herald:
This wasn’t some Cold War-era fulmination about Castro’s regime.
Rubio’s speech was about current events: the protests in Venezuela, the Maduro government and the ties it has with the Castros, who repress their own people and helped inspire the suppression in Caracas.
Venezuela is becoming the new Cuba.
For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.
My only question is at what point did Harkin sneak out in embarrassment?
I know Rubio has lost his luster with conservatives because of his support for the Senate immigration bill last year. Indeed, he’s fallen well-off my own short list, as I came to question his judgment. But, in this speech on tyranny in Cuba and Venezuela, on the fecklessness of the Obama administration’s policy in the region and the fatuousness of Castro apologists such as Tom Harkin, all I can say is “Viva, Marco!”
RELATED: More at Hot Air.
(1) If you want to read one of the best books about what life under the Castro brothers has really been like, I recommend Armando Valladares’ memoir, “Against All Hope.” I’m tempted to send Tom Harkin a copy.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
From the Hollyweird files of far left conspiracy theorist/actress Roseanne Barr:
i want to use my vagina photo as my new icon here
— Roseanne Barr (@TheRealRoseanne) February 25, 2014
I don't think that's a good idea, ma'am. RT @TheRealRoseanne: i want to use my vagina photo as my new icon here
— Stacey-SisterToldjah (@sistertoldjah) February 25, 2014
Please, Ms. Barr – keep that sort of thing between you, your doctor, and and your significant other – as any self-respecting woman SHOULD do. Thank you.
**Posted by Phineas
For Stephen Blackwood, that horrifying possibility is not hypothetical.
Mr. Blackwood’s mother was diagnosed with cancer at age 49 in 2005. She needs the drug Sandostatin to have a fighting chance at survival. Though her policy with BlueCross/Blue Shield was expensive, it met her needs for a very expensive treatment, paid for the drug, and let her see any physician she needed. She and her family were satisfied with it.
Then along came Obamacare, and Mr. Blackwood’s mother lost her insurance. I’ll let him take the story from here:
The repeated and prolonged phone waits were Sisyphean, the competence and customer service abysmal. When finally she found a plan that looked like it would cover her Sandostatin and other cancer treatments, she called the insurer, Humana, to confirm that it would do so. The enrollment agent said that after she met her deductible, all treatments and medications—including those for her cancer—would be covered at 100%. Because, however, the enrollment agents did not—unbelievable though this may seem—have access to the “coverage formularies” for the plans they were selling, they said the only way to find out in detail what was in the plan was to buy the plan. (Does that remind you of anyone?)
With no other options, she bought the plan and was approved on Nov. 22. Because by January the plan was still not showing up on her online Humana account, however, she repeatedly called to confirm that it was active. The agents told her not to worry, she was definitely covered.
Then on Feb. 12, just before going into (yet another) surgery, she was informed by Humana that it would not, in fact, cover her Sandostatin, or other cancer-related medications. The cost of the Sandostatin alone, since Jan. 1, was $14,000, and the company was refusing to pay.
The news was dumbfounding. This is a woman who had an affordable health plan that covered her condition. Our lawmakers weren’t happy with that because . . . they wanted plans that were affordable and covered her condition. So they gave her a new one. It doesn’t cover her condition and it’s completely unaffordable.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Blackwood’s mother, in order to receive the treatment she needs, has to somehow come up with $14,000 on her own. Her case is currently on appeal with Humana.
And the next time…?
Apologists for the law will of course blame Humana, and, to be sure, I do not excuse them. The incompetence is infuriating, bordering on the Kafkaesque.
Still, none of this would be happening without that anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, which the Democratic Party shoved down the throat of a nation that did not want it, that was mostly satisfied with the insurance it had, and wanted them instead to deal with the economic crisis we were then facing.
But the progressives who knew so much better than we what we needed had other plans in mind, and so Stephen Blackwell’s mother now faces the very real, very frightening possibility that she will not be able to find insurance to cover the treatment she needs to stay alive, or that she might have to beggar herself and her family to get it.
Or do without.
Via Roger Kimball, whose final paragraph is worth quoting:
You won’t find chilly, insulated elites like Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama admitting it, but the blood of Mrs. Blackwood and millions of other Americans harmed by their thoughtless legislation is on their heads. Obamacare is a totalitarian scheme masquerading as a humanitarian enterprise. Its human cost is incalculable, but already, just a few months in, we’re beginning to get a sense of the suffering it will cause. When your treatment for cancer is disallowed, when your daughter cannot get the medicine she needs, when your mother’s insurance is cancelled, will you still go gently into that good night of liberal sanctimony? Or will you finally realize that when Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America,” this might not have been the beneficent program The New York Times and other such outlets led you to believe?
The Democrats deserve every bit of electoral hell coming their way, and so much more.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
Via The Hill:
Democrats believe they are winning the battle over the minimum wage, despite an official budget report this week that found it would cost the economy a half-million jobs.
House and Senate Democratic aides told The Hill they believe they can discredit and overcome the CBO report, which offered ammunition to Republicans who argue a wage hike would hurt the economy.
The Democrats bolster their case by pointing to a November Gallup poll that found 76 percent of those surveyed favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.
They also argue the CBO report is contradicted by other economic research, and tout a letter pushed by the White House in which 600 economists say raising the minimum wage would have no major effect on jobs.
“This report is not a major obstacle,” one House Democratic leadership aide said.
“Really the polling is so strong in favor of the minimum wage,” another House Democratic aide said. “Do centrist Republicans really want to go back to their districts and say they opposed this over some abstract report that lots of economists have criticized? There is just not enough there, there.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the lead sponsor of the Senate bill to raise the minimum wage, said the CBO report shows raising the minimum wage benefits a large number of people so it is a net positive.
“That’s why an overwhelming majority of Americans — on both sides of the aisle — want Congress to raise the wage, and I look forward to having this important bill on the Senate floor in the weeks ahead,” Harkin said.
Republicans say Democrats are kidding themselves.
“That CBO report showed what Republicans have been saying about raising the minimum wage – that it will destroy jobs, in this case up to one million jobs, dealing a devastating blow to the very people that need help most in the Obama economy,” one Senate GOP aide said.
The CBO report offered an analysis on what would happen if the minimum wage was raised to $10.10 per hour, as advocated by President Obama and congressional Democrats.
It found the wage hike would cost 500,000 jobs by 2016, but also that it would lift 900,000 people out of poverty by increasing incomes.
Senate Democrats say they are going forward with a likely March or early April vote on raising the wage.
In the House, Democrats are moving forward as soon as next week with the rollout of a discharge petition that would seek to force a vote in the lower chamber.
The discharge petition has the backing of about 190 of the 200-member Democratic caucus, aides say.
“We obviously hope it will win enough Republicans to pass,” the leadership aide added. “If they don’t pass it, then good policy is always good politics.”
Translation: We know it won’t pass but we’re gonna put it out there anyway because polling supposedly indicates most people are “for it” and we desperately need a “winning” issue that will lift us over the Obamacare hump – in spite of the fact that up to a million people could lose their jobs if the bill did somehow pass.
Just another shameless attempt at the left trying to buy votes from vulnerable, gullible citizens in a critical election year because they don’t have anything else to run on. Anyone surprised?
CNN President Jeff Zucker has decided to bring an end to Piers Morgan’s low-rated primetime show, network sources told POLITICO on Sunday. “Piers Morgan Live” could end as early as next month, though Morgan may stay with the network in another role.
Morgan, a former British tabloid editor, replaced Larry King in the 9 p.m. hour three years ago, prior to Zucker’s tenure as president. His show earned consistently low ratings, registering as few as 50,000 viewers in the 25-to-54 year-old demographic earlier this week.
“CNN confirms that Piers Morgan Live is ending,” Allison Gollust, head of CNN communications, told POLITICO on Sunday after an earlier version of this post was published. “The date of the final program is still to be determined.”
Earlier on Sunday, Morgan told The New York Times that the show had “run its course” and that he and Zucker “have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.” Sources who spoke to POLITICO said the decision to end the show was Zucker’s.
Zucker took the helm at CNN at the beginning of 2013 and has since brought incremental change to the network, including revitalized news programs and a new emphasis on films and documentary shows. Primetime remains the one area where Zucker has yet to impliment substantive change, a new 10 p.m. roundtable program with Anderson Cooper notwithstanding.
It’ll be interesting to see what CNN does with that slot after Morgan departs the network.
As to Morgan himself, while I certainly don’t advocate someone losing their jobs, Morgan has been a frequent mocker of the ratings of other TV shows in spite of the fact that his were consistently low. To say the guy’s lack of self awareness was strong would be the understatement of the week. I suspect Morgan was often a frequent embarrassment for the network, as he would have guests on frequently to talk about gun rights (his pet issue) and the Constitution and they usually ended up pretty much destroying his arguments with ease.
I look for Morgan to be offered a spot on MSNBC somewhere, somehow in the near future – considering they’ve all but declared themselves the “liberal” alternative to Fox News (which, in turn, hasn’t helped their ratings one iota). Something tells me the network would be perfect for Morgan and his ultra left wing views on gun rights and that pesky little thing called the Constitution.
As they say, stay tuned.