Europe embraces its collapse with carbon reduction requirement

As we careen toward Election Day, the rest of the world drones on. Across the Atlantic, the European Union has decided to try reducing carbon emissions by 40% over the next fifteen years. Anthony Watts thinks it’s nuts…

Eric Worrall writes: The European Union has just committed economic suicide, by agreement a landmark deal, to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030.

Given that European emissions, by any rational measure, have been rising steadily, this would at first seem to be an impossible goal.

But anyone who is expecting a rational re-appraisal of European environment policy – don’t underestimate the blind determination of Europe’s green elite, to fulfill their dream of an emission free Europe. They will, in my opinion, happily bomb the European economy back into the stone age to achieve their ridiculous goal.

…and he’s not necessarily wrong. I do think, however, he needs to take into account the nature of the European economies. The Mediterranean nations are back on their…backs. France is slumping badly. Even Germany appears headed for recession (Open Europe). Yet the perverse quest for “ever closer union” continues in the EU.

So, the Eurocrats had two choices: acknowledge their grand political and economic experiment has been a bust, or embrace the collapse and try using it to achieve something politically correct.

Is it really a surprise which one they chose?

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Meanwhile, in Brazil…

This summer, most eyes were on Brazil for the World Cup. Far fewer noticed the uproar in the country over how badly the Brazilian government went through $11 billion to prepare for it. Once Brazil was embarrassingly bounced from the tournament by Germany, I felt that uproar would be a lot more important.

Well, yesterday, the Brazilian people had their say, and a leading opposition figure (Aecio Neves) scored a “surprise” surge to force a runoff in three weeks (CNN, BBC). Incumbent president Dilma Rousseff is considered the favorite, but Neves has already outperformed polling just to get to the runoff.

I humbly submit that the World Cup will prove to be Roussef’s undoing.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Meanwhile, Europe continues to fray at the edges

In the span of a couple of weeks, we are seeing three signs that Europe is falling into Yeats’ most well-known phrase (“Things fall apart; the center does not hold”).

The first took place in France, of all places. A recent IFOP poll revealed that Marine Le Pen, daughter of fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen and successor to him as leader of the Front National (FN), would “win” the first-round of the 2017 presidential election. She’d even defeat President Francois Hollande in the second round. To be fair, the poll also shows Hollande would not make the second round in any event; the center-right nominee would beat him to second place, and then go on to defeat Le Pen. However, that Le Pen has the strength reflected in the poll is a sign that her emphasis on getting France out of the eurozone is finding a hearing in what was – and still is – a core nation in the European Union.

Outside the eurozone, the nation that has long been the epitome of European sophistication and socialism – namely, Sweden – pitched out its center-right government (whose eight-year length in office was itself a modern record), yet the incoming left-wing coalition barely won any more votes than four years ago. The center-right government instead lost nearly 7% of the vote to the anti-establishment, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats (Coffee House). How the leftist coalition will survive this parliamentary session (four years) is anybody’s guess right now.

Finally, of course, there is Great Britian, which simply put, seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown (Coffee House). Scotland will vote Thursday on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom and form its own state again, and the polls are close enough that a panicked London is trying out plans to hand a slew of powers to the Scots if “No” wins. Already, pundits outside Scotland are wondering if the Kingdom’s leaders have gone mad (especially the acerbic yet side-splitting Dan Hodges).

Underlying all of the political quakes is a fault line right through the continent: the very battles between the elites and the common folks that run visibly through the Republican Party here (and, under the paper-thin loyalty to the president, through the Democrats as well). In Sweden, the center-right’s assumption that it can be more center than right has led to votes being bled to the Sweden Democrats. In the UK, the Tories are losing votes to UKIP in England, while Labour has bled Scottish voters to the Scottish Nationalist Party for so long that the UK itself might lose Scotland itself.

The lessons in Europe should be crystal clear for us here on our side of the Atlantic. Forty years ago, the idea of a right-wing populist party holding the balance of power in Sweden, the rise of a neo-fascist party on a euroskeptic platform in France, and Scotland leaving the United Kingdom were unthinkable nightmares. Today, two are reality, and the third may hit by the weekend. Who knows what disaster could face us in 2054…

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Impeachment?

Senator Lindsay Graham it talking about impeaching President Obama.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/208264-gop-senator-obama-faces-impeachment-push-if-more-prisoners-leave-gitmo

Impeachment over this would not be wise:

1) The President is Commander in Chief and so he is the person that runs wars, not Congress. President Obama has argued that Congress did not have the power to impose this restriction on presidential powers. One can argue back and forth on this, but there should be a very clear violation in an impeachment. This is not a clear violation.

2) Republicans impeached President Clinton for lying about cheating on his wife. Impeachment is not just a legal question; it’s also a political question. Lying about cheating on your wife is not a political high crime or misdemeanor. If anything, it would have been more outrageous if Clinton had boasted of his cheating. Republicans lost a lot of credibility with the Clinton impeachment that may take decades to regain.

3) The Senate is run by Democrats loyal to Obama and there is no way the Senate will convict. An impeachment by the House will not remove Obama from office.

4) For millions of voters, there is an almost religious devotion to Barak Obama. An attempt to remove him from office, successful or not, would create enormous ill will that would take decades to dissipate.

Like it or not, we are stuck with President Obama until 2017.

Rob Wittman for Re-election

Unlike the painful situation in the 7th District, Republican voters in the 1st (which included me until I moved into the 4th last year) are blessed with two superior choices: incumbent Rob Wittman and challenger Anthony Riedel. They are both near-perfect on the issues (the only major blemishes are Wittman’s farm policy votes and Riedel’s overly doctrinaire non-interventionism). Either would do their constituents proud.

However, I am endorsing Wittman, for one very simple reason: he opposed TARP, not once, but twice.

Readers of this blog know how much importance I give to the bank bailout. I have called TARP a policy mistake practically since its conception, and I am still convinced of that. I am also certain that support for TARP has been a serious problem for Republicans. Given this, when presented with Republican elected officials who were willing to defy their own president, their own candidate for president, and their own party leaders to do the right thing and vote No, I am compelled to stick by them.

Thus, I am sticking by Rob Wittman.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

They did it again: global warming alarmists caught politicizing the science

It’s easy to claim “consensus” when you suppress dissenting voices (Times of London):

Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was “less than helpful” to their cause, it was claimed last night.

In an echo of the infamous “Climategate” scandal at the University of East Anglia, one of the world’s top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as “harmful”.

These were the exact words of the unnamed “scientist” (yes, I used scare quotes) who rejected the piece:

Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of “errors” and worse from the climate sceptics (UK sp) media side.

Oh yes. Heaven forbid we get oversimplified claims from the media. Oh, wait.

For those who are keeping track (admittedly not easy given the numbers), we have now reached forty-seven examples of data manipulationerrorssuppressionand other shenanigans from global warming alarmistsand that’s just from what I’ve been able to blog on this subject since Climategate broke in November of 2009which is now about four and a half years ago…and here I thought they were slowing down.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

IMF Introduces Ukraine to Faux-sterity

No matter what the situation, no matter how bad the problem, no matter how catastrophic the state of affairs, a nation can always count on the International Monetary Fund to make things worse.

This week, Ukraine is about to learn that painful lesson.

The IMF is sending $18 billion to the new Ukraine government, but like everything else the IMF does, it’s merely a loan, and it comes with crushing conditions that will damage the already-flattened economy there even more.

Among the faux-sterity demands on the IMF….

An income tax hike from 17% to 25%: yet another reminder that “supply-side” is still foreign to the IMF (The Hindu)…

An increase in consumption taxes: showing that at least the IMF is consistent – they don’t understand Keynesian economics either (Wall Street Journal).

A reduction in gas subsidies (which is good), but not a privatization of the Naftogaz gas firm (which is bad): When you manage to make the governor of Yanukovic’s home province (Donetsk) sound like Mr. Clean, you’re doing it wrong (WSJ again).

Some (perhaps) reduction in the government bureaucracy: although it’s hard to tell just how many. CNN says 24,000. Russia Today says 80,000, but limited to the “law enforcement” sector only – leaving aside than anything out of RT should be taken with a lotswife of salt. Either way, at least the IMF learned not to try the government-pay-cuts that kept Greece’s government just as large in size and scope while pretending to cut its cost.

Still, overall, this is a painfully unnecessary set of “reforms,” which will badly miss revenue targets and likely put Ukraine in a far deeper economic contraction than the current projection of 3%.

Meanwhile, the Russian creditors get full return, despite propping up the Yanukovic regime that put Ukraine on its back in the first place (Telegraph).

So Ukraine will follow Greece and Spain over the economic cliff…

…while Putin and his cronies laugh all the way to the bank.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Can the Crimea be saved? Yes.

There will be a temptation to consider the Crimea “lost” after Sunday’s plebiscite (under armed guard) and Putin’s dramatic acceptance of the same this morning (Telegraph, UK).

Despite the fanfare and forces on the ground in Crimea, the Ukrainian province can still be saved.

For starters, the fellow who claims to speak for the province isn’t from the party of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych (Party of Regions), but rather a radical pro-Russian party (Russian Unity) that couldn’t get to 5% in the last free Crimean election (Time). In addition, the Russia Unity leader (Sergei Aksyonov) managed to get himself declared leader of the province by a parliamentary vote that was not only conducted under armed guards loyal to him, but also officially included “aye” votes from members who are insisting they were nowhere near the building when the vote took place (Aftenposten, Norway). Meanwhile, Crimean Tatar leaders (admittedly, not an unbiased source) are claiming that Askyonov-regime claims of turnout are ridiculously inflated, and that only a minority of Crimeans actually voted on Sunday (Euromaidan PR).

In other words, the notion that Putin and Aksyonov speak for a majority of Crimeans is anywhere from tenuous to laughable.

As such, there are things the United States and its allies can do – well short of war - that can free Crimea from its current plight. I’ve listed a few of them before: Asset-freezes on certain Russians, military aid to Ukraine, and support for the resistance in Crimea (details here). To be fair, the last one (which I think has the most potential) may already be under way (the Clinton Administration was aiding the Serbian democratic resistance in 2000 without anyone knowing until years later), but I suspect if it were, the Administration would have leaked it already (not that I would have objected to said leak). Either way, it should be done.

One thing I can’t emphasize enough: Russians are terrible imperialists. No one who comes under their thumb enjoys it for very long (if at all). Even among those who did vote in Sunday’s referendum, there will be plenty of Crimeans feeling regret very soon.

It is far, far too early to write off Crimea as lost.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Why we must come to Ukraine’s aid

It is a painful irony that the right seems to have dropped the “What would Reagan do?” meme at the very moment when it is most apt. As Vladimir Putin tries to carve off the Crimea from Ukraine, the argument about how to react has devolved into two sides talking past each other on the dangers of doing nothing or going to war. Yet Reagan knew – and used – a plethora of options between those extremes in his winning battle with the Soviet Union. Those options are still in front of us.

In short, we can help Ukraine liberate itself from Putinist aggression. Here are the options (none of which are mutually exclusive, and many of which should, in my view, be taken).

Freeze Russian assets and block Russian tourists here: As Ben Judah notes in Politico, Russia’s kleptocrtatic elite has been squirreling money abroad for years, and we’ve let them do it. That in itself is not a bad thing for us; in fact, it grants us some decent leverage in moments like this. Russia’s central bank has already jacked up interest rates to protect the ruble’s value – and the market ran right over it (Bloomberg). If Putin’s rich cronies can’t get to their money, he has a problem.

Provide military aid to Ukraine: The statements out of Kyiv make it fairly clear that Ukraine sees the Crimea carve-off as an act of war, but there seems to be little the Ukrainian military can do (Telegraph, see note at 11:59); Putin knows this. Both sides might change their calculations if American arms started showing up in Ukrainian military installations. Even now, Russian troops haven’t entered Ukrainian military bases in Crimea – a sign that Putin isn’t looking for a fight. Make it clear he’ll get one if he stays – not from us per se, but from the locals using our arms – and he might rethink his position.

Provide support to the Crimean resistance: Putin will definitely rethink his position if his troops have to act like occupiers. While the majority of Crimeans may be Russian-speaking, that doesn’t mean support for Putin’s invasion is unanimous. Ethnic Ukrainians and Tartars in Crimea are likely furious at what has happened. Helping their efforts to resist occupation is right out of Reagan’s playbook. He used it to liberate Nicaragua (arming rebels), Afghanistan (ditto), and Poland (whose resistance preferred weapons of information – fax machines, printers, etc.), without any American military presence. Putin and his troops are acting as if they’re doing Crimea a favor. If Crimeans themselves rise up against him, this entire operation turns into a major Moscow headache.

If you want to put American troops in the region, put them in Kyiv or Lviv: An American military force in Ukraine (but not Crimea) will make clear that we stand with her against Putin, without setting off any triggers. I should note that this action is actually the weakest of the bunch, and I wouldn’t recommend it by itself. Still, a gesture of goodwill could be helpful.

Amidst all the talk of “resurgent Russia” and Putin’s attempt to recreate a Russian empire, we should keep one thing in mind: Russians are terrible imperialistsTheir first 20th century war to protect their empire from the Kaiser led to complete national collapse and a Communist revolution. The Communist version of the empire was so brutal and incompetent that the occupied peoples actually cheered the Nazis whenever they showed up. Stalin’s attempt to extend the empire into Eastern Europe lasted less than fifty years. Even now, the “statelets” of Abkhazia (Georgia) and Transnistria (Moldova) are seeing elections in which the voters are going off-script and rejecting the pro-Putin candidates.

There is no reason to doubt Putin will wear out his welcome in Crimea, too. In the meantime, we need to make it clear to him, Crimeans, other Ukrainians, and everyone else that we can and will help those resisting this irridentist aggression.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Meanwhile, in Canada…

…the supposed nirvana in health care policy (single-payer) takes another hit (National Post):

Two Albertans who paid thousands of dollars for surgery in the United States after facing long waits for treatment back home will argue their constitutional challenge of the province’s ban on private medical insurance before a Calgary judge on Thursday.

The lawyer for Darcy Allen and Richard Cross says Alberta’s “monopoly” on health care and inability to manage long wait lists leave patients little choice but to suffer for months and years or to shell out big dollars for private health care outside Canada.

Mr. Carpay said a mix of public and private health-care would make for a healthier system. “It’s fine for the government to have a health-care program, and we’re not disputing that. We’re saying people should have the freedom to access health care outside of it.”

That “freedom to access health care outside of it” has been the bête noire of the left in America (and, to be fair, much of the Anglosphere) for decades. Canada’s system (which is not actually single-payer, due to the fact that the provinces finance and control health care directly, not Ottawa) has been held up by many Americans on the center-left is utopia for years, never mind what actually happens up there.

This Alberta court case is yet another reminder of the reality in Canada.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Britain sells the Post Office

While so many conservatives here in the United States worry about Robertscare turning the country “into Europe,” the folks who actually live in Europe are showing that the trend doesn’t always fall in the leftist direction.

The British government privatized its post office (the Royal Mail) this week, and as Fraser Nelson (Spectator Coffee House) noted, it’s been a huge success:

The Royal Mail privatisation (UK sp) has been a resounding success: shares were priced at the top range of 330p and are now trading at 440p. The 99.7 per cent of Royal Mail staff who took shares have today seen the value of their stake jump by a third. Ditto the 15,000 Royal Mail middle managers who applied for a medium-term share programme (UK sp) and will keep the stake for three years.

At this rate, according to the Telegraph, the Royal Mail could lose over a fifth of its value and still make the FTSE 100 (the British Dow Jones).

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

More wonderful news from the EUtopia

The single currency has become such a strait-jacket for Greece that it’s encouraging the one thing “ever closer union” was supposed to prevent: a rise in violent fascism (The Corner):

So what’s the state of the opinion polls in Greece, a few days after the arrest of a large slice of the leadership of the neo-Nazi (or thereabouts) Golden Dawn?

Macropolis has some details:

“Two new opinion polls were made public late on Monday night. Both put New Democracy narrowly ahead of SYRIZA and had Golden Dawn as Greece’s third biggest party, reaffirming the figures that have been seen in the past few days from other surveys. The GPO poll indicated New Democracy was on 21 percent, against SYRIZA’s 20.5. Golden Dawn was at 7.8 percent, still surprisingly high but lower then that 10.1 percent that it had polled in May in another GPO survey.”

Here’s a hint as to how bad things are in Greece these days: SYRIZA, the party so far to the left it outflanks the Communists, is very close to becoming the second left-wing endorsement ever from yours truly (if they were willing to exit the eurozone, my endorsement would be a done deal).

Yes, it’s that bad in EUtopia.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Remember when the EU was supposed to bring Europe closer together?

It appears Spain didn’t get the memo. As the Spaniards suffer under policies designed not to bring them prosperity but to keep them trapped in the single-currency eurozone, their feckless leader has embarked on a typical distraction campaign aimed at…fellow EU member Britain (Telegraph), replete with new art celebrating a potential invasion of Gibraltar and mass slaughtering of Britons there (Telegraph).

I don’t remember the Brusselian Empire predicting such strife as a consequence of “ever closer union,” but then again, Britain still refuses to join the single currency, so perhaps that makes Spain’s bloodthirsty jingoism OK.

In any event, the fact that Madrid feels strong enough to lay into London but weak enough to kowtow to Brussels tells us all we need to know about the state of the EU…and it’s not good.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

AfD misses the cut

Damn.

Alternative for Germany came less than a third of a percent shy of qualifying for the German Parliament.

While all of the talk in Germany is about Angela Merkel’s strong performance, it should be noted that the left actually has a majority of seats. They could freeze her out, if they choose (Open Europe).

More likely, Merkel will pick one of them off as a coalition partner. I suspect the Greens: they’re smaller than the Social Democrats, they don’t have the bad history of the Grand Coalition (which did the SDP serious political damage), and Merkel has already swallowed their green energy nonsense whole.

What that would mean for the rest of Europe is less clear. The Greens are europhilic in the core, but more euroskeptic on the periphery (the Greens in Britain, for example, have been sour on the single currency for years). The one certainly is the power bills and energy poverty will rise in Germany, and not by a little either.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Alternative for Germany hits 5% in INSA/YouGov Poll

If the poll is correct (and most pollsters actually presume they’re underestimating the euroskeptic party’s support due to a German equivalent of the Shy Tory factor – see UK Polling Report for what I mean), then AfD (its German initials) would pass the threshold needed to enter the Bundestag…and put a serious crack in the German “consensus” about Europe in general and the single currency in particular (The Corner).

It would also mean the chasm between a euro-enthusiast German political class and a far more euroskeptical German electorate might begin to shrink (Open Europe).

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Whaddya know…al Qaeda in Syria now fighting against the Free Syrian Army

Remember my post last week about the Assad regime and al Qaeda working together?

Turns out now they’re both explicitly taking aim at the Free Syrian Army (Wall Street Journal):

An al Qaeda spinoff operating near Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, last week began a new battle campaign it dubbed “Expunging Filth.”

The target wasn’t their avowed enemy, the Syrian government. Instead, it was their nominal ally, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army.

Across northern and eastern Syria, units of the jihadist group known as ISIS are seizing territory—on the battlefield and behind the front lines—from Western-backed rebels.

Some FSA fighters now consider the extremists to be as big a threat to their survival as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

ISIS is short for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

If nothing else, this confirms clear separation between al Qaeda and the secular rebellion in Syria. It’s time to step up and support the latter.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Are Assad and al Qaeda working together?

Bridget Johnson drops what could be a geopolitical bombshell on the entire Syrian debate (Pajamas Media):

In a chilling alliance that could turn conventional wisdom about the current Syria debate — and the revolution’s players — on its head, signs continue to mount that show al-Qaeda is working not against Bashar al-Assad but in concert with the dictator.

This includes assassinating key Assad opponents, coordinating attacks, not targeting each other’s positions and helping push a War on Terror narrative to keep Assad in power.

Johnson goes into some detail about how Assad and al Qaeda have cooperated in the past…then shows just how recent that past could be:

As its power has grown, al-Qaeda has been handily taking out longtime foes of Assad and advocates for a democratic Syria.

Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest who called Syria home since the late 1970s, welcomed tens of thousands of Syrians, the majority of those Muslim, through his Monastery of Saint Moses north of Damascus each year. As Assad’s regime waged a bloody crackdown on peaceful Arab Spring demonstrators beginning in 2011, Father Paolo became an icon of the revolution, a constant leader of opposition protests and a thorn in Assad’s side until the regime finally expelled him from the country in June 2012. Syria’s state news agency smeared the priest a year ago, saying he was on al-Qaeda’s payroll.

By January, Father Paolo was back. He wanted to bring all factions of the opposition together for cohesive dialogue with the goal of moving forward as one and ousting Assad. He was kidnapped at the end of July by al-Qaeda fighters of the ISIS and killed, thereby ridding Assad of a unifying figurehead against his regime.

He wasn’t alone either. The ISIS crew (short for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) have also taken out dissidents Dr. Mohammed al-Abyad in Aleppo, Mohammed Hamadeh, and Kamal Hamami – the last of these a Free Syrian Army commander. As Johnson puts it, “When a high-profile opponent of Assad’s is rubbed out, there’s a consistent calling card: al-Qaeda.”

Now, it should be noted that these reports have not made it Long War Journal, my usual go-to site for the Wahhabist-Ba’athist-Khomeinist War, although Thomas Jocelyn himself made it clear in his testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security that al Qaeda didn’t start the Syrian rebellion and “does not control” it. Jocelyn did say that al Qaeda had a strong presence in the country, ostensibly on the rebel side. After Johnson’s report, however, “ostensibly” is a required qualifier.

To those outside the Middle East, the idea of Assad and al Qaeda partnering up may seem strange, but in 2007 I tracked numerous reports of out Iraq revealing al Qaeda and the Iranian mullahcracy working together despite the conventional wisdom that they were at each others throats.

As it happens, Assad (an ally of the mullahcracy for over three decades), seems to be using some of the same methods (Johnson again):

Another defector, top Air Force intelligence aide Affaq Ahmad, confirmed that the jihadists don’t get into conflicts with the regime forces. “They also decline to get into fights in the coastal areas due to an agreement between them and the regime that had been brokered by the financial backers of these brigades,” Ahmad said in an interview after fleeing Syria. “Actually, the jihadist groups and brigades were very useful for the regime because they provided a justification for the regime’s insistence on a military solution, and provided some legitimacy under the cover of the War on Terror.”

Under that agreement, he added, the regime accepted the killings of minorities including Assad’s own Alawite sect “in order to use that to convince these minorities to rally around the regime and hold on to it.”

One of the al Qaedite groups – Al Nusra – has even struck oil deals with Assad’s forces (Guardian, UK).

According to Nawaf Fares, a former Syrian Ambassador to Iraq who defected last year, Assad and al Qaeda even cooperate on False Flag operations (if I have the term correctly) designed to make the rebels look like terrorists (Telegraph, UK):

Mr Fares’s most damaging allegation is that the Syrian government itself has a hand in the nationwide wave of suicide bombings on government buildings, which have killed hundreds of people and maimed thousands more. By way of example, he cited the twin blasts outside a military intelligence building in the al-Qazzaz suburb of Damascus in May, which killed 55 people and injured another 370.

“I know for certain that not a single serving intelligence official was harmed during that explosion, as the whole office had been evacuated 15 minutes beforehand,” he said. “All the victims were passers by instead. All these major explosions have been have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda through cooperation with the security forces.”

Fares speaks from personal experience:

He himself, he added, knew personally of several Syrian government “liaison officers” who still dealt with al-Qaeda. “Al-Qaeda would not carry out activities without knowledge of the regime,” he said. “The Syrian government would like to use al-Qaeda as a bargaining chip with the West – to say: ‘it is either them or us’.”

Gee, where have we heard that before? Ah yes, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan…

Again, this is just one report, but it is detailed enough to ask some very serious questions, and perhaps rethink the entire Assad vs. al Qaeda narrative that has just happened to allow both to prosper.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

If Britain is America’s future in health care, we’re in big trouble

I have found it to be painfully ironic that Democrats are increasingly calling for “single-payer” health care just as the one nation most identified with it (the United Kingdom) is coming to terms with its titanic flaws.

Another example of this came today via Conservative Home:

New analysis by Professor Brian Jarman, the respected expert on comparing the performance of hospitals, has revealed some shocking home truths for our healthcare system.

Jarman’s figures – compiled using 2004 data as the more recent numbers are not yet available – suggests that the death rate in English hospitals was 22.5 per cent higher than the average performance in six Western nations, and 45 per cent higher than America.

The link in the above comes from the Daily Mail, which also noted these bits from the study:

British patients were found to be almost 50 per cent more likely to die from poor care than those in America.

They have five times the chance of dying from pneumonia and twice the chance of being killed by blood poisoning.

Wow.
According to Mark Wallace, (the Conservative Home writer), Jarman was so stunned by his findings that he sent them around to his colleagues to tell him what he did wrong. They found nothing.

Lest anyone forget, the UK is the closest thing to “single payer” in the democratic world (it’s actually provincially divided, as is Canada, but without the health premiums some Canadian provinces have). The rest of Europe, contrary to the perception of the American left, is actually a mixture of public and private provision and financing of health care.

More and more Democrats in America are hoping Washington-driven health care will obtain the near-religious-icon status Britain’s National Health Services once held, without recognizing how far said Services have fallen.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

White House Chief of Staff calls “victory” what I would call vanilla

Once again, the Administration revealed that it is just not serious about Syria (Corner):

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough defined success for American intervention in Syria as deterring the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons again, rather than changing the balance of forces in the country’s ongoing civil war. Overthrowing the Assad regime is an “issue for Syrians to resolve,” he told NBC’s David Gregory on Sunday.

“Victory in this targeted effort means that he is degraded from doing it again, that deterred from doing it again,” McDonough said.

As Jerry Fuhrman would say…For the Love of God.

Folks, if Assad survives, he wins. If you’re not willing to get rid of him, this is a waste of time.

Cross-posted to RWL

The Senate resolution on Syria was amended, but not enough to win my support

After seeing the initial draft of the Senate’s Syrian military force authorization resolution, I declared that it met none of the three conditions I need to support the use of force there.

To recap, the conditions are: 1) Commitment to removing Assad from power and replacing him with a non-al-Qaedist regime; 2) Having a plan and the commitment to follow through on it; and 3) An explanation for how military action will make a non-terrorist government in Syria more likely, rather than less.

Now, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an amended version – which quickly won the endorsement of the White House (AP via Anchorage Daily News):

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a proponent of aggressive U.S. military action in Syria, joined forces with Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware to add a provision calling for “decisive changes to the present military balance of power on the ground in Syria.”

At their urging, the measure was also changed to state that the policy of the United States is “to change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria so as to create favorable conditions for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria.”

I’m sorry, but that is simply not enough. If the United States will engage in military action in Syria, the goal must be regime change, not “momentum” change, which is a lot harder to measure anyway. Anything less is a mistake, period.

If this is what military action in Syria means, then I oppose it. We can not afford to punish Assad; we cannot afford to weaken him (especially when Russia and Communist China will simply strengthen him once more); we must act to remove him. I cannot support anything less.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

I have seen the Senate resolution on Syria, and it fails the first test

This morning I listed three criteria the president had to meet in order to win my support for military action in Syria: 1) Commitment to removing Assad from power and replacing him with a non-al-Qaedist regime; 2) Having a plan and the commitment to follow through on it; and 3) An explanation for how military action will make a non-terrorist government in Syria more likely, rather than less. I had further stated that, as of the time I wrote the post, the president had not yet done any of these things.

Well, it’s still early, but I have seen the Senate draft resolution (via NBC News), and when I saw this requirement, I was crestfallen (emphasis added):

the use of military force is consistent with and furthers the goals of the United States strategy toward Syria, including achieving a negotiated political settlement to the conflict

Folks, a “negotiated political settlement” should not and cannot be the goal. The goal must be the replacement of the Assad regime with a non-al-Qaedist alternative.

If the authorization remains thus limited, I cannot support it. It fails the first of my three tests, and thus it fails all of them.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal