Friday, November 30, 2012

Nigel Farage on the Subjugation of Europe by the EUSSR

Another good one.  On a side note, congrats to Nigel Farage's UKIP for coming in second in 2 bi-elections the other day.  Finally, right thinking Brits have a real alternative.  The only alternative really to fascism (both of the left and the right) and decay:

A Visual Representation of Who Israel's Real Friends Are

Here is a map of how all the countries voted on the UN Palestinian member status upgrade question.  Red is for "no", dark gray is for "abstain" and then green is for "yes".  Once again, the Jewish state is practically alone in the world.

When Push Comes to Shove, Democrats Would Prefer We Import Poor Welfare Cases Rather Than PhD's

House Republicans recently passed the STEM Jobs Act, which essentially creates a new class of visas for those with advanced science, technology and engineering degrees.  Essentially they are exactly the kinds of people who should be granted visas to come to this country.  People who can immediately contribute to our economic growth while probably not needing to be on any sort of government assistance.  Most of Silicon Valley supports the bill with Steve Case, the founder of AOL saying:

My view is if there is a way to come together around broader immigration reform quickly, that would be great. But if that doesn't happen, then we shouldn't delay the issue because every year -- and again it will happen in May and June next year -- 40,000 to 50,000 people will be graduating with Ph.D.s and masters' degrees, and half or so will end up having to leave. Some of those people will go back to their countries and start companies that could end up being the next Googles or Facebooks.

Seems to make sense doesn't it?  While 27 Democrats did vote for the bill, the bulk voted against it and it likely won't pass the Senate.  On what grounds are they opposing this you ask?  You guessed it, "racism".  The same accusation that is bandied about if you do something like oppose federal funding of Planned Parenthood or Obamacare is being used to oppose this bill.  The problem the Democratic leadership has is that the visas are being taken away from the Diversity Visa program which awards visas to people with no particular set of qualifications other than they won the visa lottery (and obviously a much higher chance of being on public assistance than PhD's).  And the Diversity Visa program gives about 46% of its visas to people from Africa (as well as 30% from Asia and about 19% from Europe).  If you look at the breakdown of the current immigration for "employment based preferences" and assume that the STEM visas will be in line with that, we will see 61% coming from Asia, 16% from North America, 12% from Europe and only 3% from Africa.  Note that in either case, we will still be importing mostly minorities and therefore adding to this country's diversity, simply the mix would be different and that is just verboten for the Democrats despite the fact that this is clearly in the national interest. 

Importing the poor and huddled masses into Ellis Island was great when the rest of America didn't have to pay for their food, housing, healthcare and education.  Back then, if they made it great, we all benefit, if not, no skin off our backs.  Now, if they don't make it, we're funding their lives in perpetuity.  Such an immigration policy just doesn't make any sense.  Shame on the Democrats for opposing a program which is such an obvious net positive for America to everyone with a brain.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Great Jeff Sessions Speech on the Fiscal Cliff

Senator Jeff Sessions has a great speech on how the President is just not serious about actually fixing the problem, otherwise he would have publicly released a plan to fix the fiscal cliff.  He just wants to keep taxing and spending (h/t Powerline):

I rise today to express my reservations about the fiscal cliff negotiations that are currently underway.

Over the last two years, Congress and the President have held an endless series of secret negotiations. There have been gangs of six and eight, a supercommittee of 12, talks at the Blair House and the White House. But the only thing these secret talks have produced is a government that skips from one crisis to the next. Everything has been tried but the open production of a 10-year budget plan as required by law and open discussions of the difficult choices.

All of this secrecy allows the President to position himself as being in favor of a "balanced" plan while the only comprehensive proposal he put on paper, his FY 2013 budget, increases taxes to fuel a further increase in spending. In fact, despite a massive tax increase of $1.8 trillion, his budget also calls for $1.4 trillion in new spending. The result is $25.4 trillion in total debt at the end of 10 years—an unacceptable course.

Insofar as I can see, a tax-and-spend policy remains his goal today. The White House isn't planning to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, but to grow the government. I don't believe Congress will accept such a deal if that is what is being discussed.

President Obama campaigned on a tax increase of "only" $800 billion. But now the White House is demanding $1.6 trillion in new taxes. Don't the American people have a right to see these taxes and where they will fall? Shouldn't the President of the United States, the only person who represents everybody in the country, lay out his plan, or must that remain a secret too? Will it just be revealed to us on the eve of Christmas or eve of the new calendar year? We will be asked to vote for it, to ratify it like lemmings, I suppose.

The White House has repeatedly asserted that they believe in $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in taxes hikes. So if the White House now wants $1.6 trillion in new taxes, where is the $4 trillion spending cut?

In fact, the President is giving speeches calling for even more spending. On Tuesday, he gave a speech in which he said he wants to use the tax hikes to "invest in training, education, science, and research." Investment, of course, is just code for spending.

Not once in the speech did he discuss entitlements, our $16 trillion debt, or the economic catastrophe that could occur if we don't get off this unsustainable path.

The President will go out to the press and use all the buzz words—he says he's for a "balanced plan," and talks about a "responsible path to deficit reduction." But where are the cuts? What is the plan? It seems to me the President's plan is to talk in general, to meet in secret, and then, under threat of panic, to force through some deal that maintains the status quo: more taxes, more spending, more debt.

That's why the process needs to be taken out of the shadows. With public debate, people would learn facts that are now obscured.

People would discover that, according to CBO, mandatory spending—that's entitlement programs of all kinds—is going to increase nearly 90 percent over the next decade. We already spend $2.32 trillion on mandatory costs today, but will spend $4.12 trillion in the 10th year of the budget window. That's a huge increase.

People would also learn that welfare costs are now the single largest item in the budget—exceeding Medicare, Social Security, or defense. We spend enough on these poverty programs to send every household beneath the poverty line a check for $60,000. And the President's budget did not deal with that at all; in fact, welfare spending would increase another 30 percent over the next four years.

The Budget Control Act that was passed 15 months ago explicitly failed to address some of these programs. Is this going on again? Like the Budget Control Act talks, is welfare spending off limits, not to be discussed? Or will welfare reform be part of the framework?

I don't see how we can support a plan that doesn't at least begin to reform these programs and improve their operation.

Meanwhile, as the President demands more taxes, he refuses to do anything about government waste. Lavish conferences, duplicative programs, billions in refundable tax credits being mailed every year to illegal immigrants. No one is managing this government effectively. Why should the American people send one more dime in taxes to Washington when we won't reform and manage the money we are already getting from them?

So I am concerned about the nature of these secret talks and the fact that the Senate is really not participating. News reports say that it is only the Speaker and the President of the United States who are negotiating. Apparently the Majority Leader of the Senate is not intimately involved, the Chairman of the Budget Committee is not involved, the Chairman of the Finance Committee is not involved. These are Democratic leaders in the Senate. Certainly Republican leaders are not involved.

The Senate is a great institution, and we ought to be engaged. The engagement of the Senate would allow the American people to know what's happening. They are entitled to that. I believe we can do better. We must do better.

Jewish Woman Murdered, Cut in Two, For Not Moving Out of Her Home to Make Way for a Mosque Expansion

The religion of peace strikes again:

A Jewish woman in Isfahan, Iran, was murdered and cut in half by Muslim extremists who wanted to take over her home, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

Relatives of the woman said she had lived next to a newly built mosque, and worshippers had demanded that she and her family leave their home so the mosque could be expanded.

The woman submitted a complaint to authorities about the efforts to take over her home. On Monday, a group of thugs came to her house, murdered her, and, according to reports, cut her body in half.

TSA Agent Selects 17 Year Old Girl in a Sundress for a "Pat down", then Pulls Down Her Dress

This is becoming par for the course but is no less outrageous.  A 17 year old girl, traveling with her church group to Australia, is selected for a pat down. The screener then pulls down her dress, exposing the girls breasts for everyone in the screening area to see as of course, the girl was never offered a private screening.  And of course, the TSA has decided to blame everything on the 17 year old girl for wearing a "loose fitting, full-length, strapless sun dress" and the TSA agent is still employed and molesting kids on a daily basis to this day.  Maybe the TSA should provide travelers with a pamphlet next time to guide us as to the proper attire for the groping we must face when we travel.  God forbid we wear comfortable close that can be easily pulled off by the ham fisted screeners.

And really, whether or not this incident was an accident, isn't the real point.  It should never have happened at all.  The 4th Amendment to the Constitution reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Where is the probable cause?  Are many 17 year old girls in sundresses from Texas traveling with their church groups to Australia closet jihadists?  I'd venture that none of them are and probable cause is defined as:

A reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person's belief that certain facts are probably true.

Would any prudent and cautious person even think about selecting a 17 year old girl in a sundress for a patdown?  Maybe if they were a prudent and cautious person who was also a molester, but otherwise no.

What's funny is that the Israelis are much more in tune with our Constitution than we are with their travel screening procedures.  They ask you questions about who you are, where you are going and if any red flags are raised, they take you to a private area to ask you more questions and search your stuff.  They only bother going through the extra effort when there is at least a hint of probably cause that a traveler could be up to trouble.  But then again, they are actually trying to stop terrorists.  I don't know what we are doing anymore. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just Say No to Higher Taxes

Some of the less principled Republicans are starting to talk about agreeing to higher taxes on the "wealthy" in order to avoid the fiscal cliff.  This is just stupid.  First, it would be recessionary as higher taxes invariably reduce consumption.  Money that would be spent elsewhere is taken by the government and spent either inefficiently or just vanishes if it is used to reduce the deficit.   I know raising taxes on 2% of the population doesn't sound like much but they are responsible for ~30% of our national income so it would definitely have an impact on our economy. 

Second, these higher taxes, which will hurt our economy, will only fund the government for a total of 8 days!  We don't have a tax problem in the US (at least not on the wealthy, more on that below) we have a spending problem.  As I've written before, it would actually be impossible for us to raise taxes enough to close our deficit, it's just too big and the taxes necessary to close it would send us into a deep depression, depressing the tax revenues that were meant to increase.  We are also running out of time before we have a full blown sovereign debt crisis.  We are running out of available capital to buy our debt.  Either we make them now or we wait a few years and have to cut even deeper then.  Holding back will just mean that more baby boomers will have already retired and we will have even more debt on our shoulders.  Plus, it will be much easier to make the necessary cuts when interest rates on the 10 year treasury is below 2%, rather than above 10%.

Third, the problem with are tax revenues aren't that the wealthy "aren't paying their fair share", quite the opposite.  The top 5% and the top 20% are essentially giving up the same percentage of their income to the Federal government (income taxes + social security + medicare) as they did 30 years ago.  It's the bottom 80% who are paying historically low rates.  Check out this handy chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve:

So just from a "fairness" angle, its the 80% who are shirking, not the top 2%.  Not that I think that anyone's taxes should go up.  I view most taxation as highway robbery, where the robber is an employee of the state.  Why exactly should my hard earned money go to people who may not even deserve it?  How have they earned it exactly?

So what should the Republicans do?  I think I agree with Pat Buchanan on this one:

Republicans are being told that they either vote for something they believe to be wrong and ruinous — or get something worse. Pay the ransom, fellas, Obama is demanding, or take the blame for a second recession.

Like the Panama Canal debate that made Ronald Reagan a hero, this is a defining moment. No GOP senator who agreed to the Carter-Torrijos treaty ever made it onto a national ticket.

What are the perils for Republicans who sign on to an Obama deal?

They will sever themselves permanently from much of the base of the party. While their votes may ensure that tax rates or revenues rise, they will have no assurance that the promised spending cuts will ever be made. Even Reagan fell victim to this bait-and-switch.

Then, if the tax hikes slow the economy, Republican collaborators will share the blame. Not only will they have gone back on their word, they will have damaged the recovery. What would be their argument for re-election?

If you believe higher tax rates or tax revenues would be like poisoning an already weak economy, why would you collaborate in administering that poison? Why not just say no?

Having lost the presidency and seats in both houses, Republicans should not partner with a president with whom they disagree on principle.

They should act as the loyal opposition in a parliamentary system whose duty it is to oppose, to offer an alternative agenda and to wait upon the success or failure of the government, as Labor is doing in Britain and the conservatives are doing in France.

What should Speaker John Boehner do?

Tell the president politely that America’s problem is not that we are taxed too little but that we spend too much — and the GOP will not sign on either to tax rate or tax revenue increases. For Republicans believe that would further injure the economy — especially an economy limping along at between 1 and 2 percent growth.

Then Boehner should depart the White House, go back up to the Hill and urge his Republican caucus to do two things.

Pass an extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut and block its automatic rise from 4.2 percent of wages to 6.2 percent. To raise that tax now and scoop off the discretionary income of most of America’s families in this anemic economy makes no sense economically or politically.

The House should then vote to extend the Bush tax cuts for another year, with a pledge to do tax reform — lowering tax rates in return for culling, cutting or capping deductions for the well-to-do in the new year.

Then let Harry Reid work his will. If the Senate votes to let Social Security taxes rise, let Harry and his party explain this to the middle class that gets hammered in January. If the Senate votes to let the Bush tax cuts lapse for those over $200,000, decide in the caucus whether to negotiate — or to go home for Christmas and New Year’s.

As for the automatic sequester that would impose $100 billion in cuts next year, half in defense, do nothing. Let it take effect. The budget has to be cut, and while these cuts are heavy on defense, the depth and mixture can be adjusted in the new year.

If Republicans walk away from tax negotiations with the White House, market investors, anticipating a sharp rise in tax rates on dividends, interest and capital gains next year, will start dumping stocks, bonds and investments to take advantage of the last year of lower taxes.

The market may tank. Let the party of high taxes explain it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Due to Welfare Benefits, You Actually "Make" More Money Earning $29,000 In Your Job Than If You Earn $30,000-$69,000

A shocking chart from Gary Alexander, the Secretary of Public Welfare for the State of Pennsylvania (h/t ZeroHedge):

The GOP Establishment's War on Conservatives Continues

Once again, the GOP establishment seems to be telling conservatives to sit down and shut up and just to nominate whoever they choose will be most "electable", whether or not they share our conservative principles.  Check out Jennifer Rubin's piece yesterday attacking the Club for Growth and Jim DeMint (who she refers to as "far right" like extreme leftists do) for not supporting Shelley Moore Capito for the soon to be vacated Senate seat in West Virginia:

After years in which prominent Republicans courted her to run for the Senate, the popular Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) announced today that she will run for the Senate in 2014, when Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) may retire. She has statewide name recognition and a 70.27 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.
But lo and behold the Club for Growth — which backed such stellar (not!) Senate candidates as Richard Mourdock in 2012 and Sharron Angle in 2010 and losers like Mark Neumann (who did a good job beating up eventual nominee Tommy Thompson in the Wisconsin Senate primary) and Don Stenberg of Nebraska — comes out to blast Capito for voting for "big government."

Oh my, a whole 70.27 lifetime rating from the ACU?!?  Clearly the Club for Growth doesn't know what they are talking about as she is clearly a principled conservative!  Or maybe they do.  John McCain, who was a darling of the left at times and is by no means a small government Republican, has a lifetime rating of 82.52.  So Shelley Capito is by far more liberal than John McCain.  The worst thing is that in 2011, her rating was only 60!

I also love how Jennifer Rubin brings up Richard Mourdock and Sharron Angle (while skipping Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who the Club for Growth also supported).  Oh the establishment has never backed candidates who have lost general elections.  Ha!  Mitt Romney was essentially crammed down our throats under the guise of electability.  Fox News, National Review and hacks like Jennifer Rubin would constantly nitpick over everything in a conservatives history but would leave Romney, who had Romneycare and other skeletons completely alone.  Remember when they made an issue about what was written on a rock on land that Rick Perry leased?  Or Newt's consultant contracts?  Jennifer Rubin even attacked Herman Cain's 999 plan because it made the tax system less progressive (as if that was a bad thing!).  Then they screamed socialism when Newt attacked Romney's Bain history, attacks that might have prepared Romney for the general if his lackeys hadn't done all the heavy lifting for him in the primaries.  I also love the fact that she seems to assail the conservative candidate for "beating up" the establishment candidate, Tommy Thompson in the Wisconsin Senate primary, as if that is what cost him the election.  See, conservatives should just take what we get in those back room deals.  If the establishment has been courting someone for years to run, well they just know better.  We only cause trouble when we try to have a say.  Guess what?  Thompson lost mainly because the establishment candidate at the top of the ticket didn't get the base to come out.  Romney's received 46.1% of the vote in Wisconsin and Thompson got 45.9% with his percentage only being lower because of the 2% that went for the Libertarian candidate.  2 lame establishment candidates lose in the general and somehow the establishment can't possibly be to blame.  Nope, it's the conservatives fault!

Anyway, here is more from Jennifer Rubin:

Among her supposed sins are voting for the budget of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), rather than the Republican Study Committee's budget, and No Child Left Behind legislation, which numerous conservative Republicans supported.

Oh see, we are just being unreasonable now.  It can't possibly be a sin to vote for Paul Ryan's budget can it?  That nonsensical budget that reformed little and would have raised taxes on the middle class.  And No Child Left Behind?  Everyone was doing it, it couldn't possibly be wrong!  Oh yes it could.  Irresponsible Republicans are as much or even more at fault for the mess we are in than Democrats because Republicans are supposed to know better and campaigned on smaller government, not more federal government largesse.  And of course Jennifer Rubin is, as usual, being dishonest about Shelley Capito's voting record.  There are far more problems than just those two.  As I mentioned before, her ACU rating in 2011 was only 60%.  That means that 40% of the time, she voted either for liberal legislation or against conservative legislation.  The ACU rating is based on 25 votes, so her 60% score means that she voted the wrong way on 10 of them.  Let's take a look at how she voted:
  • Voted against cutting funding for the wasteful Legal Services Corporation
  • Against expanding the federal pay freeze to raises due to seniority, meaning she is in the pocket of SEIU and government workers at the expense of the rest of us
  • Against a measure that would have limited funding for enforcement of "prevailing wage" requirements on federal projects, which always inflate the cost of these projects.  Again, she is clearly in the pocket of the unions and government employees.
  • Against the conservative Republican Study Committee Budget
  • Against barring funds for abortion training
  • Against forcing the government to try terrorists before military commissions
  • Against eliminating the Foreign Agricultural Service
  • Against eliminating wasteful electric car subsidies
  • For raising the debt limit and for the omnibus appropriations bills which were negotiated in secret
She's also voted for all the bailouts and doesn't seem to have many government programs she doesn't like.  Do we really need more Republicans like her?  Or should we at least try to get a real conservative in office?

Jennifer Rubin finished her piece by quoting a Republican insider who used to work for Cantor, supporting Capito and criticizing the Club for Growth.  Oh my, she found an inside the beltway type that supports her way of thinking.  Shocking.

The battle for the soul of the Republican Party is clearly on.  The establishment wants to move the party even further to the left by nominating more RINO's and by attacking conservatives (like Rand Paul who was criticized recently by one of Jennifer Rubin's former colleagues for not attending a speech by Bibi because he was busy filibustering legislation and for not disavowing his own father). 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Iron Dome is Helping Bankrupt Hamas

Some math shows that the Iron Dome missile defense system is helping to bankrupt Hamas as the cost of killing one Israeli through rockets is now $5 million.  Once again Reagan was right and missile defense is key:

The actual marginal cost of production of a Tamir interceptor is low and reflects the costs of the basic raw materials; metal, fuel, explosives and electronic components used in its manufacture, and the labor required to run the assembly line. If the IDF ends up ordering 10 times as many interceptors as originally estimated, then their "cost" will likely drop to around $5,000. At 100 times as many the "cost" will approach the marginal cost of less than $1000.

Thirdly, the real cost of the rockets and missiles which Iron Dome intercepts is vastly underestimated by most commentators. Grad rockets may well cost Iran only $1,000 each on the open market, but this is not the delivered cost to Hamas in Gaza.

The supply line from Iran to Gaza is an extremely convoluted and expensive one which involves huge losses from IAF action bombing convoys and factories in Sudan, and interception by western navies. Large bribes have to be paid at every step of the way, particularly to the Beduin in Sinai and the Egyptian soldiers in Rafah who are supposed to be stopping the smuggling.

And the losses continue once the Grad gets to Gaza, with the IDF regularly destroying rocket caches. Thus, 1,000 Grads, which cost Iran $1 million to purchase, may end up as 300 Grads which cost a further $2 million in "delivery charges." This turns a $1,000 Grad rocket in Iran into a $10,000 Grad rocket in Gaza.


With each upgrade the interception rate will improve and the range of missiles it can intercept may also improve further. It is therefore that we can expect Iron Dome to reach a 95 percent or higher interception rate in the next year or two, and to continue to improve as the speed and processing power of the computers that make up its brain and eyes (radar) advance.

The practical upshot of this is that the number of rockets per Israeli fatality has risen from 50-75 (Lebanon and Gaza pre-Iron Dome) to 300 in 2011 (75% interception) and around 500 in 2012 (90% interception), despite Hamas using more lethal rockets.

The strategic implications are that the current rocket-based terror strategy of Hamas and Hezbollah has been rendered both ineffective and economically unsustainable. I estimate it is currently costing Hamas (and thus its patron Iran) around $5m. (500 rockets at $10,000 each) to murder a single Israeli. When Iron Dome reaches 95% interception rate these figures will double and at 97.5% they will double again.

Contrary to some suggestions, the terrorists cannot bankrupt Israel by firing millions of rockets because the real cost of their rockets exceeds the marginal cost of the Tamir interceptor.

Palestinian Terrorist Attempts to Kill Woman and 4 Small Children While They Sleep

Not sure what the military value here was, oh yeah, because there is none.  It's just savage terrorism like the murderous attack on that family in Itamar.  Luckily the woman and her children survived and there is one less terrorist to worry about:

An armed intruder broke into a woman's home early Monday morning in a community in the Eshkol border region and was fought off by a tenacious mother protecting her four children. Later in the day, the mother, Yael — who was only identified by her first name and who was lightly injured in the attack — had her version of the story related to Ynet by her father.

The intruder, a Palestinian man who apparently infiltrated Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, broke into Yael's home in Sde Avraham at 4 a.m., armed with a crowbar and a knife. Upon entering the master bedroom where Yael and her 2- and 4-year-old children slept, the man reportedly attempted to attack the woman. But Yael confronted her assailant, and during the ensuing life-and-death struggle she was stabbed in the face and shoulder. But she nonetheless succeeded in repelling the attacker, and ushered her children into the house's safe room.

The armed man threw various household objects at Yael, including a mirror which shattered. She managed, nevertheless, to shove the attacker into the adjacent bathroom and bar the door with the bed.

"While the attacker was in the bathroom, she managed to call her neighbor, who was [on the community's] security detail, and her husband, who serves [in the IDF]," Yael's father told Ynet. The intruder then exited from the bathroom window and fled the scene.

"He realized that he couldn't overpower her and that she's strong and determined," he said.

IDF troops and police who arrived moments later chased the man to a nearby greenhouse and attempted to detain him. When the suspect failed to halt when ordered, he was shot and killed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

IDF Soldiers: Bibi is a Loser

I'm not the only one who noticed that Bibi talks like Churchill but acts like Chamberlain. Here are some IDF soldiers spelling out "Bibi Loser" in Hebrew:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hamas Won Because Bibi Talks Like Churchill and Acts Like Chamberlain

Despite the fact that there was a bus bombing in Tel Aviv just this morning, which is a red line that the Palestinians should not have been allowed to cross, the Israelis have folded. Part of the reason is clearly bullying from our anti-Israel thug from Chicago President, but Bibi should be standing up to him, especially with Israeli lives in danger.  But no, when push comes to shove, Bibi is just all talk.  He lost the initiative of a great initial strike against Hamas and handed them a victory.  Just take a look at the cease fire terms:

Agreement of Understanding For a Ceasefire in the Gaza Strip

1: (no title given for this section)

A. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.

B. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.

C. Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents' free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.

D. Other matters as may be requested shall be addressed.

2: Implementation mechanisms:

A. Setting up the zero hour for the ceasefire understanding to enter into effect.

B. Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon.

C. Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations Egypt as the sponsor of this understanding shall be informed to follow up.

As you can see from section 1C, Hamas is being rewarded for its attacks by a loosening of the blockade on Gaza.  How is it that the aggressor who started this whole thing and was on its heels gets a payoff?  That's just ridiculous.  And where is the enforcement/consequences of Hamas continuing to launch attacks against Israel after the ceasefire takes hold?  In Section 2C all it says is that Egypt will be told and they will follow up.  Yes, Egypt, the country headed by the anti-semitic Muslim Brotherhood.  Bibi just folded like a pack of cards under severe American pressure and appeased Israel's enemies for nothing but promises (and not very strong ones at that).

A ceasefire is just horrible news for Israel for a number of reasons that I listed yesterday:

1.  It would allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to rearm and regroup.  After all those targeted assassinations and attacks on communications networks, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are probably in relative disarray.  That would quickly go away as any terrorist can always be replaced and communications networks can be rebuilt.

2.  It would further improve Hamas' standing relative to Fatah.  Now, I'm no lover of Fatah but they are fat, corrupt and lazy terrorists, who I find preferable to the more crazy and radical Hamas.  The fact that Fatah has been almost completely silent while Hamas has faced the brunt of Israeli military power will not be lost on the Palestinian populace.  Neither will the fact that, once again, Hamas will have survived such an encounter while taking shots at both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

3.  It will erode Israeli deterrence further.  Hamas has launched hundreds of rockets, including some at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and all that happens are some airstrikes?  And then the international community shuts it down before Israel actually does anything meaningful?  Seems like a process that would incentivize Hamas to do this again, over and over in fact.  Haven't the million Israelis who have had to run into bunkers for much of this year, suffered enough?  Don't they deserve a definitive solution?  Or are they supposed to continue being 15 seconds from a shelter as the status quo is reinforced?  This entire operation could be a relatively huge waste of time.  It started out nice, a bit of shock and awe that erased a key Hamas military figure from human existence.  That would have been a great time for some blitzkreig tactics, while Hamas was organizationally in disarray.  But instead, there was a lot of waiting around.  And the rockets keep coming.  If the ceasefire is agreed to, what exactly will have been achieved?  Nothing.  Millions of lives affected, an economy disrupted and absolutely nothing achieved.

4.  I seem to remember an IDF that played to win, now they seem to play to tie.  Or are just going through the motions.  If I am thinking that, other people are too.  That would be disastrous for Israel longer term.  A ceasefire will only make the IDF look unserious, at least in comparison to its former self.  IDF of the Six Day War, of Entebbe, of the Suez Crossing in 1973. Not the Israeli army that was sitting in the shade in the 2nd Lebanon war waiting for orders that never came.

Elections have consequences and those 70% of Jews who voted for Obama just sold Israel down the river. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Israel Should Just Say No to a Ceasefire

As I right this, it's just been officially announced that Israel has rejected the ceasefire terms from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  It's thought that this rejection is temporary as Hillary Clinton has just arrived in Tel Aviv and will likely be able to get Israel to agree.  I'm writing this with the hope that they don't allow themselves to be bullied.

I know that a ceasefire would be welcomed by many Israelis who are currently living in fear, for themselves and their loved ones in the military.  I share some of that feeling myself as I have a number of relatives in the IDF currently and even more currently worried for their safety, whether they will openly admit it or not.  However, I think that from a logical standpoint, a ceasefire would be the exact wrong thing to agree to right now and Israel needs to finish the operation that it started.  Anything else grants Hamas a victory as well as the ability to fight another day, when it will be even more ready than it is now.

It's also very clear that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are DESPERATE to have a cease fire signed as soon as possible.  How can I tell?  Because they publicly scheduled a press conference with Egyptian President Morsi before one was agreed to and kept telling people that an agreement was coming very soon.  I think they were trying to create a groundswell that would effectively "deem" a ceasefire a fait accompli no matter what the exact Israeli demands were and whether they were met.  Israel would just be too wary of looking like a warmonger not to agree to one.  Luckily, the gambit hasn't worked.  Yet.  We'll see what threats Hillary Clinton uses against the Jewish state to coax them into laying down their arms.

If Hamas and Islamic Jihad (as well as Egypt, Turkey and the Obama administration) are so desperate to have a ceasefire, doesn't that tell you that one is just not in Israel's interests?  That it should just press on because it has those genocidal terrorists on the ropes?  A ceasefire at this time would be bad for a number of reasons:

1.  It would allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to rearm and regroup.  After all those targeted assassinations and attacks on communications networks, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are probably in relative disarray.  That would quickly go away as any terrorist can always be replaced and communications networks can be rebuilt.

2.  It would further improve Hamas' standing relative to Fatah.  Now, I'm no lover of Fatah but they are fat, corrupt and lazy terrorists, who I find preferable to the more crazy and radical Hamas.  The fact that Fatah has been almost completely silent while Hamas has faced the brunt of Israeli military power will not be lost on the Palestinian populace.  Neither will the fact that, once again, Hamas will have survived such an encounter while taking shots at both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

3.  It will erode Israeli deterrence further.  Hamas has launched hundreds of rockets, including some at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and all that happens are some airstrikes?  And then the international community shuts it down before Israel actually does anything meaningful?  Seems like a process that would incentivize Hamas to do this again, over and over in fact.  Haven't the million Israelis who have had to run into bunkers for much of this year, suffered enough?  Don't they deserve a definitive solution?  Or are they supposed to continue being 15 seconds from a shelter as the status quo is reinforced?  This entire operation could be a relatively huge waste of time.  It started out nice, a bit of shock and awe that erased a key Hamas military figure from human existence.  That would have been a great time for some blitzkreig tactics, while Hamas was organizationally in disarray.  But instead, there was a lot of waiting around.  And the rockets keep coming.  If the ceasefire is agreed to, what exactly will have been achieved?  Nothing.  Millions of lives affected, an economy disrupted and absolutely nothing achieved.

4.  I seem to remember an IDF that played to win, now they seem to play to tie.  Or are just going through the motions.  If I am thinking that, other people are too.  That would be disastrous for Israel longer term.  A ceasefire will only make the IDF look unserious, at least in comparison to its former self.  IDF of the Six Day War, of Entebbe, of the Suez Crossing in 1973. Not the Israeli army that was sitting in the shade in the 2nd Lebanon war waiting for orders that never came.

So am I suggesting a ground invasion?  I would want everything to be done to avoid one.  I think the assassinations should become more aggressive.  I think that no building, be it mosque or hospital should be spared if it houses terrorists.  Any terrorists that they spare will only cost Israeli lives down the line and protecting Israelis is the primary responsibility of the Israeli government.  I'd rather have some bad press rather than a ground invasion because some weapons or terrorists couldn't have been taken out because of their proximity to civilians.  And finally, how about a complete embargo of all supplies into Gaza.  No more humanitarian aid.  No more water. No more food.  No more electricity.  Again, I prefer bad press to a ground invasion.  Then, if Hamas refuses to comply with Israeli demands after all that, then there should be a ground invasion to completely obliterate Hamas and all their arms.

Look, I do understand the desire for peace.  But if Israelis want to live in Israel, they will just have to fight for it, the neighborhood is only getting tougher.  They simply have no other choice.  Otherwise they should just move to New Jersey and forget about the promised land.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Soon There Won't Be Enough Money in the World to Fund US Debt

I just started reading After America by Mark Steyn which I highly recommend to anyone.  It is probably the most humorous book on the economic apocalypse you'll ever read.  Anyway, Mark Steyn refers to a paper called "Financing US Debt:  Is There Enough Money in the World - and At What Cost?" by US Treasury official (and former Chief Economist of the Office of Management & Budget) John Kitchen and Menzie Chinn of the Robert M. La Follete School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin.  Using estimates from the CBO, they calculate how much US Treasury debt foreign governments will have to buy over the coming years to keep funding our government at current interest rates.  The results are simply not pretty.  It is becoming increasingly evident that the US debt is just so enormous that we will eventually not have enough people around to actually buy our debt from us.  Check out this key chart:

As you can see, the way we are going, foreign ownership of US debt will have to be  over 20% of non-US world GDP by 2020!  The worst part about all this is that this figure was in the low single digits just a decade ago.  We are headed for a crisis and soon, probably in the next four years (though exactly when is unknown as nobody knows which level will be the tipping point). 

Don't believe me?  I know one of my lefty friends likes to point out that things can't be so bad otherwise US debt wouldn't be trading at such a low yield right now.  As if complacency amongst the masses is a good justification to be complacent yourself.  I would just like to point out that Greek 10 year debt was trading at a 4.5% yield in August of 2009 and was trading at 29% just two and a half years later!  When things stop working, they can stop working very very quickly.

There just simply isn't enough money out there.  Just think about the graph above.  In a given year, about 20% of our debt has to be refinanced, so at 20% of world GDP, that means that foreign governments will have to expend 4% of their GDP every year just for us to roll over our debt!  Considering most governments account for 30-40% of GDP, we are talking about at least 10% of government budgets that would have to be allocated towards US Treasury purchases.  Why exactly would they do something like that?  Especially with such uber low interest rates on US debt? 

The worst thing is that we are already seeing the largest foreign owner of our debt start to actually reduce their holdings.  China, who we seem to assume will constantly be willing to buy our debt because our economies are so linked, has actually reduced its holdings of our debt by $115 billion in the last year, that's a 9% reduction in just one year.  Without China providing incremental demand for our debt, where are we going to find additional buyers?  Remember, most of the larger economies are also struggling to pay off their social safety net promises and don't have the excess cash to spend on us, not in any meaningful way.

Like it or not, we are likely to see a combination of these three policies in the next few years by our government to deal with  the coming crisis:

1.  Money printing from the Federal Reserve, which has pretty much already begun.  In 2011, as part of QE2, the Federal Reserve bought a whopping 61% of US debt issuance in that year.  Eventually Brazilian type hyperinflation will be rearing its ugly head.  This will hurt the poor especially as they won't have any real property that will increase in value to counterbalance the across the board increase in expenses they will face.
2.  Interest rates on our debt will simply have to increase to attract more investors.  1, 2 and 3% yields will be a thing of the past as those aren't even close to attractive returns on investment.  Unfortunately, increasing yields will kill our real estate market (again) and balloon our deficit further as our interest expense burden will mushroom.
3.  Severe austerity will be forced on us.  If this austerity is tax heavy, expect it to kill the economy and not actually close the funding gap much, which is a phenomenon we've seen in Greece.  Eventually, even entitlements will have to be cut, but the longer we wait the less help it will do and more pain it will cause.

Most people have been thinking the problem will only come to a head in 20-30 years.  Based on the foreign holdings data, that crisis is coming very soon and unfortunately we have the very worst President possible to deal with that crisis.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Is Hamas Winning?

A thought provoking piece from Jonathan Tobin at Commentary.  Israel needs to do much more in order to win:

Though the group has taken a pounding from the IDF, it may well have achieved the objectives it had in mind when it decided to use the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election to escalate the conflict with Israel. Whatever else has happened in the last week, Hamas has demonstrated the irrelevance of the Palestinian Authority and made clear that it, and not PA head Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, is the face of Palestinian nationalism. By slamming hundreds of missiles in the last week into Israel it may have squandered part of the arsenal of more than 10,000 rockets it has amassed in the last four years and suffered a blow to its leadership. But it has also illustrated that the independent Palestinian state it has erected in Gaza is supported by the Arab and Muslim world and is, for all intents and purposes, invulnerable to international pressure or Israeli attacks. If that isn't a victory for terrorism, I don't know what else you could call it.


Rather than Hamas being isolated, as it was in 2008, the Islamist governments of Egypt and Turkey are now powerful supporters of the Gaza regime. The Egyptians are openly backing Hamas and even sending their prime minister to Gaza to express solidarity while the group's missiles rain down on Israeli civilian targets. Rather than counting on foreign volunteers or Palestinian civilians to serve as human shields for its terrorist cadres, Hamas can now depend on high-ranking Egyptian officials to visit even while it is still shooting at Israel.

Hamas is also counting on the usual routine of international diplomacy to save them from the consequences of their aggression. Though the Obama administration, along with the West, is backing Israel's right to self-defense, tolerance for Israeli counter-attacks is probably limited and it won't be long before Washington joins Moscow in calling for a cease-fire that will rescue Hamas from having more of its leadership and its weaponry eliminated.

Hamas also knows that although Israel is calling up reserves and sending them to the border in an attempt to intimidate the group into ending the shooting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reluctant to launch a ground attack that will result in more casualties on both sides. A ground operation might do much to increase the pain for Hamas and to alter the cost-benefit ratio of their offensive so much as to perhaps turn this victory into a defeat. But that would come at a steep price for Israel in terms of its already shaky diplomatic situation.

All this means that if a cease-fire is agreed to in the next few days without much more damage being inflicted on the group, Hamas will have won a not inconsiderable victory.


While a cessation of missile fire will be a relief if it happens in the coming days, neither Israel's government nor its population or its foreign supporters should take any satisfaction from what has happened this week. Netanyahu had no choice but to respond to Hamas and to do what he could to maintain Israel's deterrence. But what we are watching shows that when you have a terrorist state on your doorstep that the world will not allow you to depose, there are no good options available to you and little chance for a good outcome.

Egyptian President Morsi Openly Threatens Israel with War

That was a great move by Obama forcing Mubarak out.  Morsi sounds like he is whipping up war fever against Israel and decidedly not trying to calm things down:

After concluding the Friday prayer at a mosque in Cairo, Morsi warned Israel of the consequences of its strikes in Gaza. According to the al- Shorouk newspaper, Morsi tweeted on his Twitter page: "We have the power to uproot the aggressiveness just like it uprooted exploitation.

"I don't want to take unusual steps," Morsi added, "but if I see that the homeland is in danger, I won't hesitate."

Morsi said earlier that "Gaza will not remain alone as it was," adding that the aggressors "know they will pay a heavy price is they continue their aggression."

He further said that the post-Mubarak Egypt was completely different and that all Egyptians were determined to stop the offensive on the Gaza Strip.

According to Morsi, "The blood spilled over there will not get the other side peace and will serve as a curse on them. It will incite all the people of the region against them."

Morsi added that the Egyptian prime minister's visit to Gaza stressed the message stressed by revolutionary Egypt and will "stop this brutal aggressiveness."

He also said that "the Egyptians throughout their history were not an aggressive people, but they are capable of stopping any attack."

The Egyptian president also said that "Egypt doesn't want to fight and constantly calls for peace, but real peace is not just for one side at the expense of another side, so that one side enjoys the good life while the others suffer from attacks and ongoing killing."

The al-Ahram newspaper's website reported that the audience chanted slogans against Jews while Morsi spoke.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Read This And Let Me Know if You Think Our Diplomats Have Any Clue About Egypt and Their Intentions on Gaza

From today's State Department briefing, it really sounds like our diplomats are using wishful thinking:

QUESTION: -- you said numerous times now that you both – the U.S. and Egypt – agree based on these conversations that there needs to be a de-escalation. But do you – does that agreement extend to how the de-escalation should come about? The Egyptian officials who have spoken publicly about this talk about the Palestinians' right to defense. They talk about how this is Israeli aggression. Clearly, you don't agree on that, or are they giving you some other message behind the scenes?

MR. TONER: Well, again, I don't want to get into the substance of our conversations. We both are in agreement that the violence needs to end. We need to de-escalate the situation.


MR. TONER: Let me finish. Let me finish. As I just said, our position is clear that there's no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against Israel, and the onus is on them to cease their rocket attacks so that this de-escalation can take place.

QUESTION: Yeah, but is that the Egyptian position as well, that there's no justification for these attacks?

MR. TONER: You'll have to ask the Egyptians.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I don't think that's the Egyptian position at all, and so it's kind of disingenuous to say that you agreed on the endgame, which is that there shouldn't be any violence, that all violence should stop. But if Egypt is saying, okay, the easiest way to do that is to just get rid of Israel, then you have fundamental disagreements with – if that's the case or something like it, you have fundamental disagreements on how one arrives at a de-escalation.

MR. TONER: Look, just – we --

QUESTION: So I think it's pretty --

MR. TONER: We believe the Government of Egypt --

QUESTION: I think it's --

MR. TONER: -- remains committed to --

QUESTION: Oh, yeah?

MR. TONER: -- its peace treaty with Israel. We are in close consultation with them as we go forward on this, we're in close consultation with Israel, and we're looking for a de-escalation.

QUESTION: Do you know – have the Egyptians been told about what abrogation of the peace treaty would mean for them, particularly in terms of money from the U.S.?

MR. TONER: Again, that's – you can ask them that question.


QUESTION: That is based on these phone calls? Because – or something else? And the reason I ask the question is that this – at least this building's assessment or analysis of Egypt – I think back to the Secretary talking about how Mubarak's government was stable amid the Tahrir Square protests – your assessment and analysis of the situation in Egypt hasn't always been right. So are you absolutely sure and have you gotten reassurances in the last two days from Egyptian officials that they are, in fact, committed to the peace treaty?

MR. TONER: Matt, I'm just going to say that we are consulting closely at very high levels but also through our Embassy in Cairo that we're in regular contact with President Morsi's office. We're conveying the same message that we want to see a de-escalation of violence, that the onus for de-escalating the violence is on Hamas, and I'm going to leave it there.

QUESTION: Well, okay, but that --

MR. TONER: I mean, I'm not going to – I just said that we believe that they remain committed to their peace treaty.

How Things Could Get Really Hairy in the Current Israel-Hamas Conflict

I'm a Russian Jew so I have a genetic predisposition to always hope for the best but expect the worst.  That said, I hope that this conflict can have minimal loss of life (for the Israelis) and will be over soon (once the goals are achieved).  But there are some very dangerous wildcards that can turn this situation into a real clusterf*ck.  The biggest wildcard in my mind is Egypt.  It has 80 million Arabs, 70-80% of whom hate Jews with a passion and believe all the vile anti-semitic conspiracy theories that have ever reared their ugly head (like the discredited Protocols of the Elders of Zion).  The timing of this conflict is such that I think the Egyptian government would prefer to sit this one out.  They are still busy consolidating power and their economy is in shambles due to the revolution, that is hardly the time to seek adventures in a treasury depleting war.  However, internal pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is a branch) and the even more extreme Salafists might force their hand.  They have already recalled their Ambassador to Israel, chased away the entire Israeli diplomatic staff from their embassy in Cairo (either directly or through not being able to promise security) and now the Egyptian Prime Minister is planning on going to Gaza to show "solidarity".  Discrete weapons sales (possibly of American make) and Egyptian "volunteers" bolstering Hamas' ranks could be coming down the pike.  What happens if there is a ground invasion and there are Israeli vs. Egyptian clashes in Gaza?  Nothing good, obviously.  Israel is not prepared for heat coming from the Egyptians.  So even though Egypt would rather have better timing, they could think that its better to go in now when the Israelis are also unprepared.

Then, of course, there is Hezbollah in Lebanon.  I think Iran will want to hold back their Lebanese proxy from helping their Gazan proxy because they need to keep Hezbollah whole in case Israel attacks Iran.  Also, Hezbollah is currently otherwise engaged in Syria so their front line strength is not what it could be. But what if the Iranians calculate that this might be a great excuse to spark a larger regional war.  That they can have the anti-US and anti-Israel blowback without having to first be attacked by one or both of them?  When bullets fly, strange things happen.  Nobody thought millions would die because Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia either.

I just want to reiterate that I don't think either of these scenarios will happen.  I think the timing of this is as good for the Israelis as possible.  The Egyptian government is still consolidating power and Hezbollah is waiting to use its arsenal in the even of an attack of Iran.  But it's also true that even the best timing might not be good enough.  We'll see.

Whatever happens remember, Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.

A Picture of the Victims of a Savage Rocket Attack by Hamas

This morning, Mira Sharf, who was pregnant, was killed by a Hamas rocket and her husband and 1 year old son were seriously injured. And below is a picture of them together. Once again, in a war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.  Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.

(h/t The Muqata)

Funny How All the Bad News Was Waiting Until After November 6

Just an amazing string of negative events that were held off until after November 6th:

1.  The CIA Director resigned due to an affair with his biographer who pilfered classified documents
2.  Horrible unemployment claims data (a 104,000 claim jump in one week) which include big increases in states unaffected by Sandy like OH and PA and even a reduction in claims in NY.
3.  The Philly Fed Index plunged to -10.7 after a miraculous runup to +5.7 last month.
4.  The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is running out of reserves and will need a taxpayer bailout
5.  And of course, war between Hamas and Israel.  Hamas had been trying not to be too provocative before the election and Israel was also not terribly reactive

How Hamas Works

(h/t The Muqata)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Timeline on the Unprovoked Attacks Suffered by Israel Leading up to Today's Action

Imagine this happened in Texas, you don't think the US military would have acted?  From the Jerusalem Post:

October 23
An IDF officer is critically wounded by an explosive device while on patrol near the Gaza border fence. PFLP takes responsibility.

November 6
An explosion along the Gaza border fence injures three IDF soldiers. Palestinians later fire a Kassam rocket into southern Israel. The same day, Palestinians detonate a massive tunnel along the border, causing no injuries but knocking an IDF jeep sideways.

November 8
In a firefight with Palestinians, apparent IDF fire kills a 13-year-old Palestinian boy. Palestinian mortar shells lightly injure an IDF soldier along the border later in the day.

November 9
Palestinians fire an anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep on patrol along the Gaza border, wounding four soldiers. Immediately afterwards, IDF tanks return fire into Gaza, killing five Palestinians and wounding at least 25. Palestinians later fire a number of Kassam rockets into southern Israel.

November 10-12
Palestinian terror groups fire upwards of 100 rockets and mortars into southern Israel. Islamic Jihad and a Salafi Jihadist group claim responsibility for a majority of the rockets. At least eight in the attacks.

November 13
An apparent cease-fire is mediated between Israel and Hamas, with both sides conditioning their silence on the other side's halting attacks. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warns of future strikes, saying "I am responsible for choosing the right time to exact the highest possible price - and so it will be."

November 14
Four rockets hit southern Israel in the morning; the IDF says it is looking into the possibility the rockets were fired from Sinai.

Later Wednesday, the IAF assassinates Ahmed Jabari, head of Hamas's armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades in the central strip. The IAF hits an additional 20 targets throughout Gaza, mostly targeting long-range rocket storage sites and reportedly assassinating a regional Hamas commander.

IDF Spokesman: There is no hourglass over this operation, we have been given the green light

Looks like the assassination of the Hamas military commander was not a one-off at all and we are looking at what could be another lengthy operation:

IDF spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said: "We are facing a lengthy period during which we must prepare resiliently at the home front, listen to instructions, and stay close to protected areas. In the coming hours, the smoke will continue to rise above Gaza. The Chief of staff in the war room and the Air Force proceeds with aggressive and accurate attacks. We are in the midst of a campaign that will keep increasing. There is no 'Hourglass' over this operation – we've received the green light from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. If I were a senior Hamas official – I would be looking for a place to hide. There will be a ground operation should the need arise. Infantry brigades are being diverted to support the war effort."

Pretty brilliant.  Start off by cutting off the head and then move in against the rest of the terrorist organization.  Pray for Israel and for this operation to be quick and relatively bloodless (for the Israelis at least).

Looks like Hamas was just reminded that there is a price for attacking Israel. Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari was just killed

I was a bit worried that Hamas would go unpunished for raining hundreds of rockets down on innocent Israeli civilians in southern Israel.  Looks like the IDF was able to get them a big fish, Ahmed Jabari, who is the head of Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam brigades.  He is the man directly responsible for not only the rocket attacks against Israel but the kidnapping of Galid Shalit.  The pilots who got the car should get a case of beer for that one.

Times of Israel has a picture of his car.  My guess is that it's totalled but that's just a guess:

Update: Looks like this isn't just a one off. The IDF has said they have "begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the Gaza Strip, chief among them Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Funny How Hamas Starts a New Offensive Against Israel Right After Obama Wins Re-Election

In case you missed it, since Saturday 160 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel for little to no reason.  Sometimes they things happen after Israel assassinates a terrorist leader on his way to kill Israelis, some rockets are fired but then everything just kind of dies down as even Hamas knows its not in their interest to face the full brunt of Israeli military strength..  Now, Hamas is not only firing rockets into Israel, they have officially said they have no interest in a ceasefire.

The only thing I can think of is that Hamas is emboldened by the fact that Obama just won re-election and will no longer be dependent on Jewish money for his campaign or Jewish votes in Florida.  They clearly view him as a natural ally who sympathizes with the goals of Hamas, with only political realities leading him to be even partially pro-Israel.  This attack, which probably isn't THE big one, is possibly meant as a probe to see if Obama's actions are any different than before.

On a related note, I'm struck by how the world governments only start denouncing Palestinian terrorist rocket fire once the Israelis start talking about doing something about it. EU representative Catherine Ashton called on both sides to refrain from "exacerbating the situation".  The French foreign ministry also asked for both sides to exercise "great restraint to avoid escalating the situation". I'm sorry, so Israel shouldn't do anything to defend itself because it could exacerbate things?  Hamas is clearly the aggressor in this attack and yet it is Israel who should restrain itself?  The situation right now is that Hamas is launching dozens of rockets against civilian populated areas with almost zero response from Israel.  I guess Europe wants to keep it that way.  Jews should just walk quietly into the ovens and not make a mess for the Europeans.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Immigration Trap

Since Romney lost on Tuesday, many Republicans, like Sean Hannity and John Boehner, have been promoting a change in the Republican views on immigration policy to attract more hispanic/latino voters.  Unfortunately, I think this is a trap that will make Republican electoral prospects worse, not better.

Just do the math, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country.  Let's say you do what Sean Hannity proposes and give those already here a "path to citizenship".  Now, assume they don't magically become Republicans when they gain their citizenship and 71% vote Democratic like in the last election. That means that we'll have 7.8 million more Democratic votes and only about 3 million Republican ones, a potential gap of 4.8 million (I realize turnout wouldn't be anywhere close to 100%, which is why I used the term "potential").  Considering Romney just lost by 3 million votes, this number is not one to sneeze at and could effectively create a permanent Democratic majority, the exact opposite of what the Republican "path to citizenship" folks are trying to achieve.

Plus, what will stop millions more from coming into this country illegally now that they know they will just have to wait out any reticence from the US government to give them amnesty.  Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in 1986 and all we got from that was 11 million more.  Thus, the illegal immigration issue will never go away and trust me, the Democrats will always out-pander the Republicans on this issue. Simply, they know who the newly minted citizens will be voting for.

Also, there is really no evidence that the immigration issue is all that is keeping hispanics from voting Republican.  They have very good reason for voting Democratic en masse as they are the recipients of quite a few government handouts given their relatively low median household income.  Take a look at this chart of median household income by race in 2011 dollars:

As their economic condition is more in-line with that of the African-American community shouldn't their vote be relatively in-line with them too?  Romney won voters who made more than $50k a year and lost those making less than $50k and the average hispanic household is making well under $50k.  Seems pretty simple.  My guess is that Romney ran close to even or better amongst those in the top quintile or two though I have absolutely no data to support this.  By that logic, it would be far more effective to target this group of voters by championing ways to promote economic development in their local communities. Providing them with an easier path to the middle class would be what really can move them into the Republican column.

What about social issues?  There really is no evidence that the hispanic community will vote for "family values" and, if anything, are probably more attracted to the Democrats' socially liberal platform.  The illegitimate birth rate amongst hispanic mothers is 52%, nearly double the 28% we see with caucasian mothers.  That just seems like a population that will be more responsive to pro-abortion rhetoric and free contraception handouts than the opposite.

Hence, I think any switch by the Republicans on immigration/amnesty will make things worse for them, not better.  If the Republicans are really interested in fixing our immigration system, why don't they make legal immigration easier for qualified individuals?  Those with professional degrees and skills we need should not have to go through many hoops to come to this country.  They are the ones most likely to provide an immediate boost to our economy as well as its long term prospects.  They will find jobs the quickest and be the least likely to go on government assistance.  Don't we want more of those?

I'm sure some of you are thinking "so what should the Republicans do then?"  Well, how about for starters, next time there is a primary battle, don't run a scorched Earth campaign against the other candidates like Romney did.  With the help of the GOP establishment media, he was effectively able to eviscerate all the other candidates.  The bad blood in the party was really bad and obviously quite a few Republican voters decided to stay home because of it.  Even I had said "Screw the GOP" at one point.  I came back and loyally fought for Romney but obviously many didn't.  If it was a fair battle based on ideas, you wouldn't have seen that.  Instead you had Romney carpet bomb the airwaves with attacks about Newt's consulting business and laughable accusations that Newt was too liberal (a huge laugh coming from Romney).  And you even had the GOP establishment media (e.g. Fox News, National Review) obviously coordinate attacks effectively doing for Romney what the MSM does for Obama.  One last thing on this topic. What was up with Sarah Palin not speaking at the convention?  She's a rockstar with the base.  If she spoke and passionately supported Romney, I bet that would have helped heal some wounds.

Something else that would have been nice would have been to actually provide good ideas of how you will be different from Obama. Romney ran as a Democrat-lite or as what used to be called an 80%-er (a term for Republicans who generally believed in what the Democrats believed, just 80% of it).  This immigration argument seems to say that Romney was too conservative (!!!) and that we need to have a candidate who is even more moderate.  In the final months he was as moderate as they come.  There was no distance between him and the President at the third debate, they practically agreed on everything and there was no mention of how the President left Americans to die in Benghazi despite their 7-hour long pleas for help.  A viable tax plan would also have been nice.  I never wrote to defend it because I always knew it was a hunk of garbage since the primaries.  Why would I favor a program that might increase my taxes?  I don't give a rat's ass what the official tax rate is, I only care what my effective tax rate is and it was unclear for many that their taxes would be reduced by this plan.  Finally, the Democrats had a whole message about a fictitious "war on women", why didn't the GOP have a message focusing on the very real "war on Catholics"?  Or something? 

During this election season, Romney seemed to get everything backward.  He eviscerated his fellow Republicans then treated Obama like a gentleman, one who he agreed with on much but just differed on style.  Our next candidate for President not doing that would be a great start towards retaking the White House.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Melanie Phillips: America Goes Into the Darkness

A spot on piece from across the pond:

Four years ago, America put into the White House a sulky narcissist with an unbroken history of involvement in thuggish, corrupt, far-left, black power, Jew-bashing, west-hating politics. Obama's agenda has been crystal clear from the get-go: to increase the power of the state over the citizen at home, and to neutralise American power abroad. Four more years of this and he'll almost certainly have succeeded.  The impact upon western security could be cataclysmic.

Britain and the Europeans love Obama because they think he will end American exceptionalism and turn the US into a pale shadow of themselves. What they don't realise is that, all but lobotomised by consumerist rights, state dependency, victim culture, sentimentality, post-religion, post-nationalism and post-Holocaust and Empire guilt, Britain and Europe are themselves fast going down the civilisational tubes.

Romney lost because he refused to provide an alternative to any of this for fear of being labelled a warmonger, flint-heart or social reactionary. He refused to engage with any of the issues that made this Presidential election so truly momentous. Up against the bullying of the totalitarian left, he ran for cover. He played safe, and as a result only advertised his own weakness and dishonesty. Well, voters can smell inconsistency from a mile away; they call it untrustworthiness, and they are right.   

Romney lost because, like Britain's Conservative Party, the Republicans just don't understand that America and the west are being consumed by a culture war. In their cowardice and moral confusion, they all attempt to appease the enemies within. And from without, the Islamic enemies of civilisation stand poised to occupy the void.

With the re-election of Obama, America now threatens to lead the west into a terrifying darkness.

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset: We Will Not Capitulate Before Obama

Right on!  Here are the comments from Danny Danon, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and member of the Likud Party:

Obama's victory demonstrates that the state of Israel must take care of its own interests. We cannot rely on anyone but ourselves. Obama has hurt the United States by his naïve leadership in foreign policy, which prefers the Arab world over the Western world, along with Israel. The state of Israel will not capitulate before Obama.

Now that Obama has a second term we will see what he really thinks about Israel now that he doesn't need Jewish money for his campaign or Jewish votes in Florida.  It's not going to be pretty.  His first trip of his second term is going to be in the Middle East and once again he is skipping Israel.  Instead, he is going to Islamist Turkey.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

America Voted For Its Own Decline Last Night

You know, I'm not so upset because Romney lost as I am because, basically, America lost last night.  Romney is a decent guy and a good manager but I am pretty sure that he would have pissed me off during his Presidency by constantly "reaching out" to liberal democrats at the expense of conservative values, something that I wrote about back in February, when I was arguing against his nomination tooth and nail.  But he would have been a better President than Barack Obama and he would have at least given us a sliver of a chance to get out of the mess we are in. 

We are to the point where we are structurally unable to balance our budget, where our entitlement spending plus our interest on our debt is about equal to our tax revenues.  And that is even before the expenses that will come from the giant behemoth of a boondoggle known as Obamacare (which we now have to live with forever).  What was Obama's answer to that?  Force employers to offer free contraception as a payoff to single women voters, who voted for him 67-31%.  Talk about raising taxes on the rich to "pay for" spending that will go to those that don't really pay much taxes.   That helped Obama take the under $50k a year crowd by a margin of 60-38%.  These are people who have effective tax rates in the single digits, if they pay any net taxes at all.  They aren't paying for their Obama phones or Obama money so why should they care where the money actually does come from or what has to be done to pay for it. Note that all other income groups, people who actually are impacted by tax increases because they actually make money, all went for Romney.  The point is, Obama doesn't have any solutions, he only has payoffs to get his base to vote for him.  He has no plan that can fix anything.  Just more of the same, taxes and payoffs.

What could Romney have done differently?  I think he needed to do more to excite the base.  He should have gone on more conservative talk radio and other venues to excite them.  He should also have unleashed Paul Ryan instead of shackling him.  One telling number is that Obama received slightly fewer votes in Ohio in 2012 than McCain did in 2008, which is sad since McCain practically didn't even have a Get Out the Vote organization there.  Ohio was eminently winnable if people were willing to turn out.  But they weren't, not as much as they should have given his organization and funding.

Other than that, I don't think Romney could have done much more.  The demographics of this country have changed so much over the last couple decades.  Romney won the white vote 59-39%, the highest margin since Bush I beat Dukakis 59-41% enabling a 426-111 electoral landslide.  Obviously the black vote was completely off limits as they are completely in the pocket of the Democrats who offer them handouts and special treatment in exchange for votes.  Outreach and inclusion of the Latino community might have been a good idea but it's unclear if it would work.  He would have essentially have had to endorse some version of amnesty and that would have created a firestorm amongst the base.  This is a quandry that needs to be figured out and fast as we continue to import more natural democratic voters every single year.  Even amongst legal immigrants, only 8.5% of permanent residents come from Europe.  The rest come from areas with histories of questionable governments and lax views of the rule of law with no real affinity for arguments regarding the constitution or what the founding fathers intended (just like Obama).

Our one last hope to right our fiscal ship may come in the negotiations over the fiscal cliff (which we go off on January 1) and the debt ceiling (which we will hit before the end of the year and all extraordinary measures to keep spending going will expire in February or March).  If Republicans don't waiver like they did last time, we might get serious spending cuts.  They just need to be prepared to pull the trigger.  Though I have a feeling they will do nothing, hoping to put off any real decisions as long as possible, as usual.

Just about all empires decline and fall at some point and it looks like America will be no different.  It just is sad that we are doing it so that toothless bums can get Obama phones and 30 year old law students can have sex at the expense of the rest of us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Early Voting Results Suggest Trouble for Obama in Ohio

It looks like all the polls overestimated the early vote, which always broke heavily for Obama:

Virtually every Ohio poll this cycle was weighted on the basis that early voting would occupy a massive chunk of the total Ohio vote. Rasmussen's final poll ceded 40% of the total vote to early voters (EVs). PPP gave EV's a more reasonable 35%. The Columbus Dispatch calculated early voting to take up an astounding 47% of the total Ohio vote. Almost every other Ohio poll seems to have weighted early voting between 35% and 45% of the total vote.

The reported early voting numbers, however, show that virtually every single Ohio poll overestimated the amount of early votes cast. If early voting is calculated at 1,787,346, in order for total voter turnout to rival 2004 numbers, early voting cannot occupy more than 32% of the total votes cast — and even in that scenario, that high of a percentage means that total voter turnout will be lower than it was in 2008. In order for turnout to match 2008 levels, early voting can only account for 31% of total votes cast.

The next important piece of data is what the polls consistently report: Obama leads by huge margins among early voters but trails Romney among those who say they will vote on election day. This inverse in voting segments is why the proportion of early votes in the total votes — and that virtually every poll overestimated this proportion — is so tantamount. In most polls (which usually only have Obama leading by a small margin, although some give him a more comfortable ~+5%), lowering the percentage of early votes in the polling sample means lowering Obama's lead drastically. And when Obama's lead is only one or two percentage points, that can mean handing the election to Mitt Romney.

Our forecast is based largely on the reported margins between Romney and Obama among early voters and election day voters as reported by the Columbus Dispatch, Rasmussen, and other polls (all polling data considered is represented in the graphic below). The Columbus Dispatch gives Obama +15% among early voters; Rasmussen gives him a much wider 23%. Other polls for Ohio EVs: CNN/Opinion Research, Obama +28; Gravis Marketing, Obama +13; PPP, Obama +21. For our forecast we assumed a more conservative Obama +18 among EVs, averaging Rasmussen and the Columbus Dispatch.


Based on these assumptions — which in turn are based on a combination of polling data and the state's actual reported early vote — if early voting accounts for 32% of the vote (a very conservative number which would place total voter turnout slightly below that of 2004), Romney wins by a whopping 50.9% to Obama's 47.8%. The higher voter turnout is — and therefore the lower the percentage of early votes in total votes — the higher Romney's margin becomes.

In this scenario, even if we assume our model's margins between Obama and Romney among early voters and election day voters are somehow skewed in Romney's favor, Romney still has padding that those margins could be reduced and he still wins. If early voting is only 31% of the total vote — putting Ohio's total vote at just above 2008 levels — Romney has incredibly more wiggle room.

The lower-than-anticipated turnout among early voters suggests the Obama campaign's lead in Ohio was largely hot air. And this does not even seriously consider the county-by-county early voting results, which appear to be even more damaging to Obama.