Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

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Hiroshima

In a few days the usual “outrage” for the “war crime” of dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima will begin to wend its way around the world.

That narrative grows stronger each year – mostly because of the death of the generation that fought the war in the Pacific and because the narrative continues to be fueled by a need for moral preening and fact free opinion that doesn’t ever seem to die out.

My father was one of those who fought through the Pacific war.  His bonafides were Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa.  He was a recon guy.  And following Okinawa, his next job was going to be the recon of the landing sites on Kyushu, the big southernmost island on what was considered the Japanese “mainland”.  Operation Downfall.  To be opposed by the Japanese “Ketsu Go” in defense of the Japanese home.

My dad never talked much about the war, but I remember the first time I brought up Hiroshima and the bomb and how many people it killed.  He didn’t waste much time on niceties, but turned his hard eyes on me and said, to both me and my two brothers, “if we hadn’t dropped that bomb, you and your bothers wouldn’t be here.  And a lot of your friends wouldn’t be here.  Because I wouldn’t have come back from the war and neither would have their dads.”

That was it.  He had no sympathy for the apologists.  He felt they were making their case in a contextless and ignorant way.  They didn’t know the facts, they hadn’t fought the enemy all the way across the Pacific and they hadn’t the foggiest notion of the mind of the enemy he had fought.  So he dismissed their criticism out of hand.

Bill Whittle had a similar experience as you’ll see in this video.  What Whittle does, however, is muster facts to make the argument that backed what my Dad had said all those many years ago.  He points out why it was both necessary and prudent to do what was done and how, in the end, it probably saved literally millions of lives.

Watch it.  Understand why Jon Stewart, who is featured in the video, is essentially ignorant and, frankly, stupid when he calls Harry Truman a “war criminal”.  And when the anniversary of this comes around on August 6th, be armed with these facts and do the generation that is all but gone a favor – dispute those that are historically ignorant and feel the urge to do a little moral preening to the detriment of those that fought and won that war.

Don’t let them get away with their moral preening and don’t let them ignore the facts for the narrative.  The decision to drop these bombs was hard, but it was right.  And it is the sort of decision none of those who stroke their own vanity by claiming the moral superiority of the present have ever or will ever be called upon to make.

All I have to day is “thank you” to those who made this tough but just decision.

Thank you for my life.

~McQ

Property and privacy rights? Or drone rights?

Interesting story:

A Kentucky man shot down an $1,800 drone hovering over his sunbathing daughter and was then arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first-degree wanton endangerment.

“My daughter comes in and says, ‘Dad, there’s a drone out here flying,’ ” William H. Merideth, 47, told a local Fox News affiliate reported Tuesday. The Bullitt County father shot at the drone, which crashed in a field near his yard Sunday night.

The owner of the drone claims he was only trying to take pictures of a friend’s house, the station reported.

“I went and got my shotgun and I said, ‘I’m not going to do anything unless it’s directly over my property,’ ” Mr. Merideth said, noting that the drone briefly disappeared when his daughter waved it off. “Within a minute or so, here it came. It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky. I didn’t shoot across the road, I didn’t shoot across my neighbor’s fences, I shot directly into the air.”

Most people would say, “good for him”.  He felt his privacy and property rights were being violated by some possible peeping Tom and he took action to protect both.  As he says, he “didn’t shoot across the road, I didn’t shoot across my neighbor’s fences, I shot directly into the air.”

He had a good, sound reason to take action:

“He didn’t just fly over,” he said. “If he had been moving and just kept moving, that would have been one thing — but when he come directly over our heads, and just hovered there, I felt like I had the right.”

“You know, when you’re in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy,” he said. “We don’t know if he was looking at the girls. We don’t know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing.”

Exactly.  The unknown, coupled with the concerns plus the fact that the drone was purposely and repeatedly being flown where it had no permission to fly, prompted Merideth to action.  And he removed the possible threat.

End of story?

Hardly.  The 4 people who were engaged in flying and hovering the drone over his property showed up to confront him.  Then the police showed up.  Who got arrested?  Well the property owner, of course.

As Scott Shackford of Hit & Run points out:

You’d think it would be obvious that it’s not a good idea to pilot an expensive piece of surveillance equipment just casually over other people’s properties, not just out of respect for other people’s privacy, but because you could lose the thing.

You’d think.  But instead it is the man who was guarding both is privacy and his property rights who ends up going to jail.  Apparently his expectation of privacy and his property rights concerning trespass weren’t enough to save him from catching a ride in the police van.

Tell me again about our “Constitutional rights” to both privacy and property?  Apparently drone’s trump them.

~McQ

Sanders gets one right … kinda

Ezra Klein of Vox interviews Bernie Sanders.  Meh.  Nothing particularly newsworthy there.  But in the process of this softball interview, the question of immigration comes up.  Read the exchange:

Ezra Klein

You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view. I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders. About sharply increasing …

Bernie Sanders

Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.

Ezra Klein

Really?

Bernie Sanders

Of course. That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. …

Ezra Klein

But it would make …

Bernie Sanders

Excuse me …

Ezra Klein

It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?

Bernie Sanders

It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.

OK, you can quit laughing now.  Klein caught flat footed and gasping.  Sanders echoes exactly what the right has been saying while at the same time trying to put the blame on … the right.

Yeah, no sale Bernie, but the rest?  Right on.  Nailed it.  Oh, and about that $15 minimum wage … yeah, you just killed it.

In reality Bernie likens businesses who want cheap labor with the “right wing”.   Hardly true but for many on the left, business = “right wing”.

However, to categorically call “open borders” a “right-wing” idea is simply absurd.  It certainly isn’t the right in this country pushing for amnesty and open-borders (well, except for some establishment GOP types).  It isn’t the right-wing that has established sanctuary cities.  And it definitely isn’t a right-wing federal administration refusing to enforce immigration laws.

But you all knew that.

So what is Bernie telling us with all this nation-state talk?  That maybe, its really a form of “national socialism” he prefers?

Oh, wait …

McQ

Hillary’s renewable energy plan

As you’ll see it’s as unachievable and utopian as all the other “clean energy” plans we’ve heard.  In fact, IBD calls it a “farce”.  And rightfully so.

Why?  Well here are the basics:

Clinton says she has two big goals that she’ll start working on “day one” to combat climate change. First is to expand solar energy supplies by 700% by installing half a billion solar panels by 2020. Second is to power “every home in America” with renewable energy by 2027.

She describes these as “bold national goals.” The more appropriate label is “expensive pipe dream.”

Again, the latter description is more apt.  Consider the goal of half a billion solar panels by 2020.  That’s 5 years from now, folks.  We all know that solar panels are a) expensive and b) don’t live up to their billing as to making us energy independent (well unless we are willing to carpet every sun touched surface on our house and property with them).  So how will she accomplish this goal?  Well, with your tax dollars (or borrowing) of course.  Subsides, tax credits, outright grants, subsides to solar panel manufacturing and big government projects that install millions of panels in desert areas (Environmental impact? Only pipelines have that.).

My goodness, haven’t we done this before?  And what’s that popular definition of “insanity”?

Also consider that perhaps the cleanest renewable energy, one that has contributed most to the use of renewable energy, is hydroelectric energy (46%).  That source has been in decline due to pressure from environmental groups.  We have less hydroelectric power now than we did in 2000.  And that trend is likely to continue.

Biomass comes in second (9%) and is also in disfavor with environmental groups (greenhouse gasses).

That leaves three “renewable” sources – geothermal, solar and wind.  Between the three, they currently contribute just “6.7% of the nation’s electricity capacity, according to the Energy Department.”  In total, we have about 15% of our energy from all renewable sources.  So you get an idea of how small the contribution of these three really are.

While Clinton didn’t say much about the other two, wind is a favorite of the renewable energy crowd.  The problem with both wind and solar is the usual – powerful environmental groups oppose both.  Especially groups concerned with the negative impact on wildlife they’ve demonstrated.  It is no secret that both wind installations and large solar instillations are abattoirs for wildlife, especially birds.

So how likely is a President Clinton to see this bit of campaign positioning come to fruition?  Well thankfully not very. It’s a slapdash bit of campaign nonsense. It is pure pandering with no hope of realization.  It is the usual political campaign “policy” making that is all talk with no walk.  It has no possibility of being realized and is just thrown out there to feed the base and keep them happy.  It is the underpants gnomes in action.

It doesn’t even stand up to casual scrutiny.  But don’t worry, her base has no reason for even casual scrutiny.  If she said it, they believe it and that ends it.

Meanwhile, upon finishing her delivery of this devilish clever energy plan, she boarded her private jet and smoked off to her next destination.

~McQ

Is ISIS transforming into a “functioning state?”

According to some, that’s exactly what is happening:

While no one is predicting that the Islamic State will become the steward of an accountable, functioning state anytime soon, the group is putting in place the kinds of measures associated with governing: issuing identification cards for residents, promulgating fishing guidelines to preserve stocks, requiring that cars carry tool kits for emergencies. That transition may demand that the West rethink its military-first approach to combating the group.

“I think that there is no question that the way to look at it is as a revolutionary state-building organization,” said Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is one of a small but growing group of experts who are challenging the conventional wisdom about the Islamic State: that its evil ensures its eventual destruction.

Granted, the tools it uses to establish and maintain control are terror and violence, however that’s not much different than hundreds of totalitarian regimes throughout history. And, at this point, it is in its first generation of “rulers”, which means they’re likely to be the most true to their warped “principles”. So corruption, pre se, isn’t yet a problem (they’re too frightened of their own organization to accept bribes, for instance).

Remember history, say the experts:

Drawing on parallels from history, experts say, the group’s violence can be seen in a different light. Mr. Walt mentioned the guillotine of the French Revolution, and the atrocities of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Communist one in China — imperfect analogies, to be sure, but ones that underscored the violence and oppression that can precede creation of a revolutionary state.

Then there’s Pol Pot’s Cambodia. It finally failed, but the same formula was applied there.

The problem, of course, is this isn’t the way it had to be. Certainly the left will say “if that evil Bush hadn’t invaded Iraq, it wouldn’t be that way”. Well with people often disappearing into wood chippers in Saddam’s day, Iraq was already that way.

The problem, as we face it now, really comes down to ideology and neglect – squarely placed in this administration’s lap. Gen. Ray Odeirno, outgoing Army Chief of Staff, said as much in an interview:

But Odierno had pointed words on the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria – suggesting it didn’t have to be this way.

“It’s frustrating to watch it,” Odierno said. “I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.”

Odierno said the fall of large parts of Iraq was not inevitable, reiterating concerns about the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal there.

“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,” he said. “I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.”

But this administration wasn’t interested in staying longer regardless of the possible negative outcome of pulling troops from Iraq early. It had a campaign promise to fulfill, one of the few it ever has fulfilled. So it made routine SOFA negotiations impossible for Iraq to agree with, then blamed the lack of an agreement on Iraq and pulled our troops out before the job was done – giving ISIS the opportunity to rise.

Odierno made it clear that wasn’t the only problem we’ve let ‘rise':

“Two years ago, we didn’t think we had a problem in Europe. … [Now] Russia is reasserting themselves. We didn’t think we’d have a problem again in Iraq and ISIS has emerged.

“So, with Russia becoming more of a threat, with ISIS becoming more of a threat, in my mind, we are on a dangerous balancing act right now with capability.”

The answer to these problems?  Cut the end strength of the Army so we’re even less capable.

Can’t you just feel it?

We’re in good hands.

~McQ

Guess what TIME blames for what it sees as America’s decline?

My guess is most of us would agree that America seems to be in decline, but not for the reasons TIME magazine does.  Much of the decline is centered in the politics and policies of the governing party.

But TIME is pretty sure that, given the study that they cite, the reason is … capitalism.  Here’s the “it was great, but” reason:

“We looked at very broad measures, and at individual measures, too,” said co-author Hershey H. Friedman, a business professor at Brooklyn College – City University of New York. The most dangerous sign they saw: rising income and wealth inequality, which slow growth and can spark instability, the authors say.

“Capitalism has been amazingly successful,” write Friedman and co-author Sarah Hertz of Empire State College. But it has grown so unfettered, predatory, so exclusionary, it’s become, in effect, crony capitalism. Now places like Qatar and Romania, “countries you wouldn’t expect to be, are doing better than us,” said Friedman.

I wish those who opine about this sort of thing would begin to delink capitalism and “crony capitalism”.  Because as soon “crony” is added, “capitalism” is no longer evident.  Instead you have powerful corporate/social/political constituents helping write laws that raise bars to entry in a markets to impossible heights.  You have the same entities suggesting regulations which have the same effect.  Capitalism, in its barest essence, is a voluntary transaction between two free people which ends profitably for both.  That’s it.  When government begins intruding with regulations and laws designed to limit and protect certain constituencies, from corporations to unions, that’s not capitalism, whether you stick “crony” in front of it or not.

It is certainly cronyism.  The government attacks, for instance, on Uber are rampant cronyism.  They’re designed by government to protect an existing constituency that doesn’t like the competition (and has had a government granted monopoly for decades).  Of course, in the end, it is the consumer – i.e. the citizen – who is hurt by this sort of cronyism.

And it appears that cronyism has gotten worse and worse over the past few years.  So while America may be in decline, it isn’t because of capitalism.

It’s because of cronyism, government favoritism, or whatever catch word or phrase you wish to tag the phenomenon with.  But leave capitalism out of it.

~McQ

“Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional arms and ballistic missile embargoes on Iran? In nuclear negotiations?”

That’s the question Charles Krauthammer asked today.

Anyone care to make a guess?

When asked Wednesday at his news conference why there is nothing in the deal about the American hostages being held by Iran, President Obama explained that this is a separate issue, not part of nuclear talks.

Are conventional weapons not a separate issue? After all, conventional, by definition, means non-nuclear. Why are we giving up the embargoes?

Because Iran, joined by Russia — our “reset” partner — sprung the demand at the last minute, calculating that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were so desperate for a deal that they would cave. They did. And have convinced themselves that they scored a victory by delaying the lifting by five to eight years. (Ostensibly. The language is murky. The interval could be considerably shorter.)

There is the second pregnant question – if the hostages are a separate issue, so are conventional weapons, aren’t they?

But then, you find out that both Obama and Kerry fell victim to a negotiating trick that only a rookie would cave too.  The tactic is well known and has been associated with Cold War USSR negotiations for decades. They teach it in Negotiating 101.  This is what they always do and you have to know your opponent well enough to expect it and have a strategy to counteract it.  As usual, Obama and Kerry were unprepared.

What Obama said about the hostages, if he really believes it, was the perfect answer to the Iranians when they sprang this on them.

But desperation is what the Iranians and Russians were counting on.  Anything to make the deal. They knew how desperate these two were.  So they held one of the most outrageous demands until the seeming end of the negotiations.  When the end was tantalizingly in sight and time was running out.  The Iranians gauged well the desperate desire for an agreement that the Obama/Kerry cabal had.

And so they used it against them to make a mockery of the deal.

Stunning.  The incompetence and ineptness aren’t what stun anyone – that’s been demonstrated so many times in the past 6 years it’s the new normal for this administration.  What’s stunning is what they gave away when they didn’t have too.

But then, this is the Obama administration and the Secretary of State is John Kerry.

‘Nuff said.

~McQ

“Legacy” … that’s what Iran was about

Abe Greenwald explains:

As far as legacy, what politician doesn’t want one? For Obama, a nominal nuclear deal may make him feel as if he’s earned the Nobel Prize once furnished him as election swag. John Kerry’s own efforts to earn a Nobel by brokering Middle East peace became another footnote in the story of Palestinian obstinacy. He too had something to prove.

From the administration’s standpoint, the deal was a grand slam. If it left Iran as an official nuclear power on the perpetual verge of a breakout, well, that was always the bargaining chip to get everything else. And with the United States having shown extraordinary cooperation and forgiveness, the thinking goes, even a nuclear Iran will become a less bellicose and more collegial member of the community of nations. What good the deal has already done, the administration believes, will continue to pay dividends. As is his wont, Obama is now declaring as much. But by the time his vision is upended by facts, he’ll be out of office, and we won’t have the luxury of fighting reality with abstractions.

Obama is desperate for a positive legacy.  Obamacare is the White Elephant in the room.  It will, one day, be declared the disaster it really is (but that will require the time for it to really demonstrate how horrendous a piece of legislation it truly was … it’s getting there).  The man who wanted to make “government cool” has managed to make it not only cool but the butt of jokes.  Ratings for all branches of government have plunged on his watch. Race relations and corruption are worse on his watch.  And his foreign policy has been clueless.  It has also be reactive and rudderless.  Just as respect for government has plunged, so has respect for the US (even Jimmy Carter admits this).

So yeah, two guys who have accomplished little or nothing in their lives are wanting to leave a mark.

Too bad it will more likely resemble a skid mark in a pair underwear, when all is said and done, than any mark of accomplishment.  But then, we’ve always known the left was more into style than substance.   And Obama and Kerry have built in some blame shifting room in the Iran agreement.  If, 8 or 10 years out, Iran has the bomb, it will be the fault of whoever is in the White House (and GW Bush, if they can swing it), not them.

Just watch.

~McQ

Mini ice-age? Impossible, per the consensus!

Iran, agreement, blah, blah, blah … we’ll talk about it when all of the details come out rather than the preferred ones.

In the meantime, did you know?

The earth is 15 years from a “mini ice-age” that will cause bitterly cold winters during which rivers such as the Thames freeze over, scientists have predicted.

Solar researchers at the University of Northumbria have created a new model of the sun’s activity which they claim produces “unprecedentedly accurate predictions”.

They said fluid movements within the sun, which are thought to create 11-year cycles in the weather, will converge in such a way that temperatures will fall dramatically in the 2030s.

Solar activity will fall by 60 per cent as two waves of fluid “effectively cancel each other out”, according to Prof Valentina Zharkova.

The article goes on to tell you why, given these two waves and their position at the time, these scientists are “97%” sure their prediction is accurate.

Yes, it’s that big, hot yellow thing that hangs in the sky each day that seems to be driving our climate and not some trace gas as some scientists would have us believe.

Speaking of those “scientists”, I found this the other day and, well, had a little chortle:

Every year brings a new batch of data regarding the progression and likely effects of climate change, and the results are almost always worse than previous models had predicted. In fact, they’re frankly terrifying: rapid and accelerating deterioration of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets that will yield massive sea-level rise and submerge coastal cities; paralyzing drought on continental interiors that will lead to Dust Bowl–style famine; and incredibly powerful floods and storms that happen more frequently — five times as often now, in fact, as in the 1970s.

Most of the worst predicted outcomes will occur down the road. In the meantime, though, the people making these predictions — climate scientists — are dealing with a heavy psychological toll, as a piece in Esquire by John H. Richardson points out. They are living, as Richardson puts it, a “surreal existence.”

One psychologist who works with climate scientists told Richardson they suffer from “pre-traumatic stress,” the overwhelming sense of anger, panic, and “obsessive-intrusive thoughts” that results when your work every day is to chart a planetary future that looks increasingly apocalyptic. Some climatologists merely report depression and feelings of hopelessness. Others, resigned to our shared fate, have written what amount to survival guides for a sort of Mad Max dystopian future where civilization has broken down under the pressures of resource scarcity and habitat erosion.

The alarmists are dealing with psychological problems.

You have to wonder if it because the “big lie” they’ve been pushing for so many years is collapsing like a wet cardboard box?  Or it’s just the wages of “true belief”, regardless of what other scientists are saying (with “97%” accuracy).

~McQ

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