Archive for September, 2013

Obamacare is coming next month

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

UPDATE: So far, as October 4, there is no evidence that anyone has enrolled in Obamacare. The one person alleged to have done so has now been shown to have been lying and the details he offered to the eager press, were phony. It appears the IT collapse is continuing.

UPDATE #2 There appears to have been 1% or less of applicants who negotiated the maze actually signed up. The web site is closed for the weekend to fix “glitches.” I still suspect it would have been better strategy to allow the October 1 rollout of this mess and focus on the debt ceiling for a potential shutdown.

UPDATE #3: Here is an informed discussion of Obamacare and the IT mess that created it.

To add insult to injury, the administration outsourced the building of this costly contraption to CGI Group, a Canadian firm. CGI, whose U.S. operations are based in Northern Virginia, “just so happened” to increase the number of H-1B visas it requested from 172 in 2011 to 299 in 2012. It seems more than a little likely that the Obamacare project gave jobs to foreigners while needlessly leaving fully dozens or perhaps even hundreds of qualified citizen IT professionals on the unemployment line.

It gets even worse. CGI was “officially terminated in September 2012 by an Ontario government health agency after the firm missed three years of deadlines and failed to deliver the province’s flagship online medical registry.”

Oh well.


The consequences of the Syria fiasco

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Syria farce played out with Obama’s speech last night. When you are a Democrat and are being ridiculed in left wing magazines, you are in trouble.

This brings up what will happen next. That will not include any surrender of Syrian WMD. The Syrians have been Soviet and Russian clients for many years. There is no chance that Putin will allow his client to be disarmed.

As Slate relates:

Kerry never thought that he was making a bold bid to avert military strikes that his president’s party and public had no interest in supporting. He simply suggested that if Bashar al-Assad handed all of his chemical weapons over in a week, that might stave off an impending U.S. attack—and of course, Assad wasn’t going to do that. The State Department rushed forward to clarify that Kerry wasn’t floating an actual proposal—he was just speaking rhetorically. You know, riffing. To say that the Obama administration is freelancing when it comes to foreign policy is an insult to freelancers.

Still, Vladimir Putin knows an opportunity when he sees it. The Kremlin pounced on Kerry’s diplomatic spitballing. So now, everyone—the French, the British, the Chinese, the Obama administration—is hoping that the Russians can craft a verifiable plan for Assad’s regime to hand over its chemical stockpile. For the West, a price can be exacted from Assad, while the dangerous unpredictability of military strikes can be avoided. Meanwhile, Russia and China can keep their man in Damascus.

What is the result ? Obama jumped at the chance to get off the weak limb he was astride.

But if your foreign policy has to be rescued by a dictator, you are doing it wrong. That’s where President Obama finds himself today. Putin is providing Obama an out he couldn’t find for himself.

This will not end well. In 1961, newly elected President John F Kennedy went to a summit with Nikita Kruschchev and was perceived by that dictator as a weakling. The result was Soviet missiles in Cuba and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Democrats, and even some credulous people of other parties, consider this was a victory for Kennedy. It wasn’t. It guaranteed Cuban communism for 50 years and US missiles were removed from Turkey. The two consequences were kept secret for the last 50 years. The Kennedy brothers then tried to get personal revenge on Castro and that effort may have blown back as the Kennedy assassination. None of this history suggests diplomatic skill.

What we see now is even less diplomatic skill, or even competence. Even Slate is unhappy with their president.

If Putin’s maneuver doesn’t pan out, Obama’s foreign policy will still likely fall victim to the vicissitudes of a dictator. Because one message is already clear in Damascus: The Obama administration will do everything in its power to do nothing at all. If Assad finds himself up against the wall, he will likely gas his fellow Syrians again. Maybe he will reduce the scale and scope, but it is doubtful that he will abandon the weapons. How will President Obama respond then? It is hard to say. Because no one knows what the president is doing. At least he has the element of surprise.

We will reap severe consequences from this disaster. And they will not be long in coming. Iran has been watching, no doubt with great interest. I have been despondent about the domestic consequences of Romney’s loss last fall. Now I have to face disastrous consequences in foreign policy. The next three years, and beyond if we are unlucky enough to see Hillary elected, will be the most dangerous time in our history since the Civil War.

Richard Fernandez sums it up well.

No, the man known as President Obama left the building after his Syria speech. What’s left in the White House is Barry Soetoro or whatever he goes by now: a shrunken, confused husk surrounded by court jesters, second-rate ideologues, and sycophants. And while it may be tempting to gloat at his reversal of fortune, the truth is that the collapse of the presidency represents the most dangerous moment in America since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

My only disagreement with him is that I think it’s worse than that.

I guess it’s too late to move to Australia

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

I have always liked Australia and have visited a couple of times. In 1987, I thought about buying land in Queensland. Some friends in Toowoomba offered to help me look but I haven’t been back and the idea was stillborn.

A few years ago, I lamented the ingratitude of the Australian electorate.

Last week, the most recent example of the startling rejection of a successful leader was seen in Australia. The defeat of Prime Minister John Howard after four hugely successful terms was a shocker. It is compared, and I think with good reason, with the defeat of Margaret Thatcher in 1990. The difference was that the Conservative Party, itself, ousted her, only to lose the next election to Labour and Tony Blair. In Howard’s case, he has been criticized for failing to withdraw and allow a successor to take his place before the election.

The electorate has corrected their previous error.

The Coalition has been swept to a convincing election victory in a result that could keep Labor in the political wilderness for a decade, with incoming prime minister Tony Abbott declaring the country is “under new management”.
ALP seats fell across the country on Saturday, ensuring Tony Abbott will be the 28th prime minister of Australia and have a commanding majority, holding up to 90 seats in the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.
From today I declare that Australia is under new management.

Mr Abbott said he would methodically deliver on his promises with a government that accepts it will be judged more by its deeds than its words.

Kevin Rudd, at least, realized that his “green” agenda was unrealistic. Obama has not found such wisdom and, instead, his chief strategist, Ms Jarrett, has stated his second term agenda.

Jarrett is very excited about a 2nd term agenda and a big part of that agenda is to punish everyone who opposed them during the first term and the campaign. Strange that everything was “Ms. Jarrett wants this, and Ms. Jarrett is looking forward to that”. You hardly heard Obama’s name mentioned by her which I guess reinforces what people are saying. Valerie Jarrett really is the power in the White House. I know that when her representative showed up it was like royalty was visiting. All the big dogs were lined up to meet her and acting real friendly and they gave us a heads up an hour before and told us we better “put on a good show” while she was here.
The part that really stuck out to me was when I overheard the rep say that Jarrett told them, “After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time. Everyone not with us is against us and they better be ready because we don’t forget. The ones who helped us will be rewarded, the ones who opposed us will get what they deserve. There is going to be hell to pay. Congress won’t be a problem for us this time. No election to worry about after this is over and we have two judges ready to go.” She was talking directly to about three of them. Sr. staff. And she wasn’t trying to be quiet about it at all. And they were all listening and shaking their heads and smiling while she said it. Pretty creepy.

Syria does not seem to have been a large part of the agenda. This is what we will have to deal with for the next four years.

I wish I had moved to Australia when I thought of it.

Syria confusion.

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

UPDATE #2: Well, the problem is solved. By the Russians ! Even Obama’s base is calling this a “clusterfuck.”

Last night, President Barack Obama, who, just over a week ago, had said he was ready to act, tells the nation’s cable watchers that he’s now discussing this bogus plan with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that he’s “going to take this very seriously” while also not letting up on the drumbeat of military strikes while. On Tuesday, Syria said it had accepted Russia’s proposal and France said it would seek the UN Security Council’s backing for the proposal.

This, in other words, is no light at the end of the tunnel. This, to borrow a phrase from a Congressional staffer at his wits’ end, “is an unmitigated clusterfuck.”

Nothing to see here. Just the end of America’s role in the world.

UPDATE: The debate so far has been interesting in how incompetent it has been. Kerry said that “boots on the ground” might be necessary, then backtracked to minimize that comment. Still, it didn’t help his case.

Then Hagel called the proposed action “war.” He quickly backtracked and has been shown to be particularly inept during the confirmation hearings. He contradicted Obama administration in his testimony before being corrected by an aide.

The House hearings today should be even more interesting where the two have fewer allies.

Obama has made up his mind several times this week on Syria. Sec State Kerry has twice given speeches advocating an attack. Obama said he would do so without consulting Congress (publicly), then, yesterday, said he would ask for a Congressional vote. His reasons were typical.

He wants members on the record, rather than simply criticizing from outside whatever action he takes.”

Thus, his reasons are political rather than strategic. One suggestion that I like is for the Republicans to vote “present.”

The Syrians are now taking credit for “frightening” Obama into the delay.

Richard Fernandez has it right.

Whether Obama admits it or not, his leash has been pulled taut. He must get Congressional approval or it’s off. One problem the President will face is that he can no longer fob off the legislator’s questions. They will ask for names, dates, documents. They may even ask about Benghazi. Asking for permission will be a very uncomfortable experience for the man who was formerly above everything.

This will be the opportunity to get him on the record about Benghazi, for example.

My own thought is that no action will be taken and Obama will try to blame the Republicans.

I can’t improve on Victor Davis Hanson.

Deriding the Iraq war was Obama’s signature selling point. He used it to great effect against both Hillary Clinton (who voted for the war) in the Democratic primaries and John McCain in the general election. For the last five years, disparagement of “Iraq” and “Bush” has seemed to intrude into almost every sentence the president utters.

And now? His sudden pro-war stance makes a number of hypocritical assumptions. First, the U.S. president can attack a sovereign nation without authorization from Congress (unlike the Iraq war when George W. Bush obtained authorization from both houses of Congress). Even if Obama gets a no vote, he said that he reserves the right to strike.

My opinion is heavily influenced by that of Michael Totten. He has expressed some serious reservations which I accept as more informed than my own opinion.

But the mistake that both Mr. Cameron and Mr. Obama are making, like their predecessors Tony Blair and George W. Bush, is to focus solely on chemical weapons.

Mr. Cameron ruled out regime change as the aim, yet it is obvious that unless he is deposed, Bashar Assad (like his father Hafez Assad before him) will continue to use the genocidal methods to destroy the rebels that have already cost well over 100,000 mainly civilian lives and displaced up to three million refugees.

The attacks now planned by the allies are thus explicitly intended to leave Mr. Assad and his regime in place, but to deter them from deploying WMD. This makes no sense. More likely, airstrikes with this limited purpose will merely embroil the West in a protracted civil war.

I can’t say it any better than that.