Free Markets, Free People

Iran

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 15 Dec 13

This week, in the last podcast of the year, Bruce, Michael and Dale talk about Iran, government, and Obamacare.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

Having a problem picking which bit of nonsense to write about

So, instead, I’ll just pitch a lot of it out here.  Call it “clearing the browser tabs” if you will.

ObamaCare is a giant redistribution scheme.  I know most readers here have known or figured that out long before now.  But it appears the media is suddenly discovering it as well.

Oh, and this … this is just funny (in a sad sort of way) because it lays out all the other promises that were made by Obama to ease the passage of their redistribution scheme:

President Obama has said a lot of things about health care reform, not just that if you liked your health insurance plan, you could keep it. In a prime-time news conference in July 2009, his rationales for a new law stacked up like planes on an airport runway during a holiday weekend: It would provide “security and stability” for families; it would “keep government out of health care decisions”; it would prevent insurers from “dropping your coverage.” He said the program “would not add to our deficit,” that it would “slow the growth of health care costs in the long run,” that it would be “paid for” but not “on the backs of middle-class families.” Most important, he said, “I want to cover everybody.”

Security and stability for families.  Ha!  Millions with cancelled insurance.  Keep government out of health care decisions – you know, like keeping your doctor if you want to.  Prevent insurers from dropping your coverage?  In fact it demands insurers drop your coverage if it isn’t coverage of which ObamaCare approves, thus the millions with cancelled insurance.  “Would not add to deficit?”  Well, that’s if the redistribution works properly and you don’t count all the cost of the government bureaucracy added to make it work (unless those 19,000 IRS agents are working for free).   Slow the growth of health care costs in the long run?  Not with the size of the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies they plan.  “Paid for” but “not on the backs of the middle class”.  It’s going to be paid for on the backs of the young – who are mostly middle class, if they can maintain that.

What a freakin’ joke.

Meanwhile the apologists for ObamaCare have found Kentucky and are touting it as proof ObamaCare is loved and wanted.  Why?   Because over 56,000 have signed up.  Irony no?  Kentucky – a state the folks in the North East like to point to as Hillbilly heaven actually has a working website.    But, of course, if you actually look at the numbers, they don’t at all support the premise that ObamaCare is working at all (certainly not as it’s advocates said it must work to succeed):

“Places such as Breathitt County, in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky, are driving the state’s relatively high enrollment figures, which are helping to drive national enrollment figures as the federal health exchange has floundered. In a state where 15 percent of the population, about 640,000 people, are uninsured, 56,422 have signed up for new health-care coverage, with 45,622 of them enrolled in Medicaid and the rest in private health plans, according to figures released by the governor’s office Friday,” the Post wrote. “If the health-care law is having a troubled rollout across the country, Kentucky — and Breathitt County in particular — shows what can happen in a place where things are working as the law’s supporters envisioned.”

So first, not even 10% have enrolled, and of those that have enrolled, only 20% are “billpayers”, i.e. people who will actually pay for their own health care insurance and subsidize the other 80% of those who are on Medicaid.  In other words, out of 640,000 eligible, 56,422 have enrolled, and of those 56,000, 45,622 are going to be Medicaid recipients.

And liberals call this “success”.   Seems it would have been a lot easier just to expand Medicaid, because that’s primarily what’s happening here.  Other than the Medicaid bunch, less than 1% of those 640,000 have sought out insurance on a system the Democrats point to as working well.

Then there is this story about the green movement’s rank hypocrisy when it comes to environmentally friendly nuclear power.  What arguments do they use against nuclear power (an power source that actually works as advertised)?  The very same arguments they have used to argue for wind, solar, etc, of course:

Having demanded policies to make energy more expensive, whether cap and trade or carbon taxes, greens now complain that nuclear energy is too expensive. Having spent decades advocating heavy subsidies for renewable energy, greens claim that we should turn away from nuclear energy because it requires subsidies. And having spent the last decade describing global warming as the greatest market failure in human history, greens tell us that, in fact, we should trust the market to decide what kind of energy system we should have.

Why, or more importantly, how anyone of any intelligence takes them seriously any more is beyond me. But this is so typical of that movement.

As for the “Iran deal”, Victor Davis Hanson gives you a peek behind the curtain:

The Iranian agreement comes not in isolation, unfortunately. The Syrian debacle instructed the Iranians that the Obama administration was more interested in announcing a peaceful breakthrough than actually achieving it. The timing is convenient for both sides: The Obama administration needed an offset abroad to the Obamacare disaster, and the Iranians want a breathing space to rebuild their finances and ensure that Assad can salvage the Iranian-Hezbollah-Assad axis. The agreement is a de facto acknowledgement that containing, not ending, Iran’s nuclear program is now U.S. policy. . . .

Aside from the details of this new Sword of Damocles pact, one wonders about the following: In the case of violations, will it be easier for Iran to return to weaponization or for the U.S. to reassemble allies to reestablish the sanctions? Will Israel now be more or less likely to consider preemption? Will the Sunni states feel some relief or more likely pursue avenues to achieve nuclear deterrence? Will allies like Japan or South Korea feel that the U.S. has reasserted its old global clout, or further worry that their patron might engage in secret talks with, say, China rather than reemphasize their security under the traditional U.S. umbrella?

The president’s dismal polls are only a multiplier of that general perception abroad that foreign policy is an auxiliary to fundamental transformation at home, useful not so much to create international stability per se, as to enhance Obama influence in pursuing his domestic agenda. Collate reset, lead from behind, “redlines,” “game-changers,” ”deadlines,” the Arab Spring confusion, the skedaddle from Iraq, Benghazi, the Eastern European missile pullback, and the atmosphere is comparable to the 1979–80 Carter landscape, in which after three years of observation, the opportunists at last decided to act while the acting was good, from Afghanistan to Central America to Tehran.

There is not a good record, from Philip of Macedon to Hitler to Stalin in the 1940s to Carter and the Soviets in the 1970s to radical Islamists in the 1990s, of expecting authoritarians and thugs to listen to reason, cool their aggression, and appreciate democracies’ sober and judicious appeal to logic — once they sense in the West greater eagerness to announce new, rather than to enforce old, agreements.

Nothing of any substance gained, but certainly, with the easing of sanctions, relief for Iran and most likely problems ahead should the US want to see sanctions resumed or added to in the future.  Pitiful.

But Insty has the silver lining in all of this – “Obama, bringing together Democrats and Republicans, Saudis and Israelis in opposition to his policies. He’s a uniter, not a divider!”

Finally, reality continues to take it’s toll on Barack Obama:

Only four out of 10 Americans believe President Barack Obama can manage the federal government effectively, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning also indicates that 53% of Americans now believe that Obama is not honest and trustworthy, the first time that a clear majority in CNN polling has felt that way.

Well deserved numbers as I see it.  He has lied and he’s proven he’s incompetent.  The only discouraging part of it all is somehow, 47% of those taking the poll somehow have convinced themselves that even in the face of overwhelming facts to the contrary, he’s honest and trustworthy.  I imagine a lot of them live in Maine.

~McQ

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 24 Nov 13

This week, Bruce McQuain makes his triumphant–albeit mean-spirited and cruel–return, to talk with Michael and Dale about Iran, The Census Bureau. and the Senate’s filibuster rules.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

Amateur hour in foreign affairs

What’s the saying? “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?

Living proof:

Iran is enduring economic sanctions designed to slow the country’s nuclear weapons program, but President Obama’s team thought the regime might abandon dictator Bashar Assad over his use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war.

Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, hoped that a team of UN investigators — many of whom, presumably, have a longstanding relationship with Iranian leaders — could write a report that would convince Iran to abandon its ally at the behest of the United States.

“We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks,” Power said at the Center for American Progress as she made the case for intervening in Syria.

“Or, if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran — itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 — to cast loose a regime that was gassing it’s people,” she said.

Good lord … how freakin’ naive and inept is this bunch, really?

Result of naive thinking?

Rather than “cast loose” Assad after the latest chemical weapons attack, as the Obama team hoped, “Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned the Obama administration against any proposed military strike on Syria,” as the International Business Times reports.

Look, it’s fairly simple – if the US is “for” something, Iran is most likely going to be against it. It has been like that for decades. And, in Iran’s world, Iraq does not equal Syria. More importantly, no matter what Syria does, it isn’t the “Great Satan”. And nothing his bunch has done in 4 1/2 years has changed that calculation one bit.

Incompetence on a level not yet seen before.

~McQ

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 21 Oct 12

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about the vice presidential debate and game the electoral college.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

The “Obama Doctrine?

It sort of works out like this – if you’re Libya, look out but if you’re Iran or China, don’t worry about it.  Allahpundit explains:

Via Greg Hengler, it’s simple as can be. If (1) there’s a preventable humanitarian crisis looming and (2) the benefits of intervention outweigh the costs and (3) there’s international support for intervening, then “go for it.” Question: What if (1) and (2) are satisfied but not (3)? Just … let ‘em die, then?

For instance, how about Syria?

At least 10 people have been killed and dozens wounded after Syrian police opened fire on people protesting against the deaths of anti-government demonstrators in Deraa, witnesses say.

Hundreds of youths from nearby villages were shot at when they tried to march into the centre of the southern city.

A Syrian human rights activist told the BBC that at least 37 had died.

Troops also reportedly shot at people attending the funerals of six people killed in a raid on a mosque overnight.

Why that sounds almost exactly like things that happened in Libya prior to the international coalition finally taking action.  Again, just as in Libya, we have “civilians” being killed by their government.

Time to apply the Obama Doctrine?   Is that crickets I hear?

If you think that I’m making this up – about the Obama Doctrine that is – here’s Andrea Mitchell to explain it to you:

 

So who gets the full Monty and what popular uprising gets ignored by the doctrine? We know Iran gets a free pass.  And apparently so does Syria.  Who else? 

~McQ

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So what’s happening in N Africa and the ME?

All sorts of fun stuff … but has anyone noticed how the coverage of Egypt had all but ceased?  What’s up with that?

Uncovered by most of the media has been the return from exile of the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who has, for years, hosted one of the most watched talks shows on Al Jazeera. 

And this:

Some of the young activists who launched the Egyptian uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak say they are skeptical about the military’s pledges to hand over power to a democratically elected government.

They also warned Western diplomats in Cairo Monday that the remnants of Mubarak’s regime that still hold positions of power could overturn the uprising’s gains.

Nah … that can’t be true can it?  And who do those who ran through the streets denouncing Mubarak, Israel and the US want to help ensure the military keeps its word?

The seven activists – representatives of a broad coalition of youth groups – also called on the international community to support Egypt’s transition toward democracy, and asked for help in tracking down Mubarak’s assets – rumored to be in the billions of dollars.

The activists spoke as senior U.S. and European officials, including British Prime minister David Cameron, were to arrive in Cairo for talks with the country’s military leaders.

Why us, of course.

Meanwhile in Gadaffi land, things have gone from bad to worse.  The old boy has managed to get a fatwa issued against him.

‘Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr Gaddafi should do so,’ Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric who is usually based in Qatar, told Al-Jazeera television.

Qaradawi also told the Libyan army not to fire on protestors.  And there are reports in some areas of Libya that those instructions are being followed.

Probably most interesting about the collapse going on in Libya are the words of Gadaffi’s son about what may follow:

"Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt. Libya is composed of clans and tribes. There are alliances. Libya does not have a civil society with political parties. No, Libya is composed of clans and tribes. [...]

"There will be civil war in Libya. We will return to the civil war of 1936. We will kill one another in the streets. Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt. Libya has oil, and that is what united the country. An American oil company played a pivotal role in the unification of Libya.

"We have a single source of income – oil. It is found in central Libya – not in the east or the west. It is in central and south Libya. That is what all five million Libyans live off. If secession takes place – who will give us food and water? Who will control the oil wells? Who is capable of managing the oil sector in Libya? [...]

"We will be forced to emigrate from Libya, because we will not be able to divide the oil between us. There will be war, and all of Libya will be destroyed. We will need 40 years to reach an agreement on how to run the country, because today, everyone will want to be president, or Emir, and everybody will want to run the country.

"Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt. Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt."

Interesting points about Libyan society (lack of political parties meaning lack of democratic institutions/tribes and clans – Afghanistan in N. Africa, except it has oil.) Of course he also said:

"There is no alternative other than to adopt a firm stand. I tell you that the army will play a central role in this, and the Libyan army is not like the army of Tunisia or of Egypt.

"Our army will support Libya and Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi to the last moment, and it will be victorious, Allah willing. Matters will be set straight. We will destroy all the dens of strife. [...]

"In any event, our morale is high. The leader Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi is here in Tripoli, leading the campaign. We stand by him, and the armed forces stand by him. Tens of thousands of people are on their way to Tripoli. We will not sell Libya short. We will fight to our very last man, woman, and bullet. Under no circumstances will we leave our country.

"Let Al-Jazeera TV, Al-Arabiya TV, and the BBC laugh at us. Let those bullies and those traitors, who live abroad, laugh at us, and say that we are destroying our country, but we will not leave it." [...]

And he’s considered the “reasonable” one in the Gadaffi family.  My guess is our State Department has no clue about the societal implications and probable outcome of this particular revolution – so I expect sunny, moon-pony pronouncements about “democracy advancing” in Libya to be their stock answer to everything.

Morocco, Bahrain and Yemen are also undergoing disturbances and protests in some form or fashion  – and some of those are being met with violent government crackdowns.

Meanwhile in Iran:

Antigovernment protesters gathered throughout parts of Iran on Sunday, most concentrated in the capital Tehran, to mark the deaths of two men killed during demonstrations last Monday. The government mounted a stultifying security presence in the capital, with the police making arrests and using tear gas to try to prevent the unrest from escalating.

[…]

The security forces seemed prepared for them, and in some locations, witnesses reported that police officers and baton-holding mercenaries outnumbered the protesters. There were reports of police officers firing on the crowds, although those could not be confirmed, because most foreign journalists were not allowed to report in Iran.

Opposition Web sites and witnesses said that ambulances were driven into the crowds. Security forces, including riot-control units on motorcycles, deployed tear gas to disperse crowds in several places, including near Valiasr Square and Vanak Square.

Plainclothes officers stopped and frisked people on the streets and removed people from vehicles, witnesses said.

Business as usual.  And if not busy enough at home, Iran has decided now was a good time to provoke Israel by sending two warships through the Suez canal for “exercises” with Syria – the first time in 30 years Iranian warships have transited the canal.

Finally, something else to keep an eye on:

BEIJING—Chinese authorities detained dozens of political activists after an anonymous online call for people to start a "Jasmine Revolution" in China by protesting in 13 cities—just a day after President Hu Jintao called for tighter Internet controls to help prevent social unrest.

Only a handful of people appeared to have responded to the call to protest in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other cities at 2 p.m. Sunday, a call first posted on the U.S.-based Chinese-language news website Boxun.com and circulated mainly on Twitter, which is blocked in China.

Yeah, probably not happening — yet.

Not a good week for authoritarians it appears.  Of course be careful what you wish for – while we may see one crop of authoritarians shunted to the side, there is no indication that anything other than a different type of authoritarian regime would replace it in many of these places.  Change is definitely in the air.  But whether that’s finally a “good thing” remains to be seen.

~McQ

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Observations: The Qando Podcast for 16 Aug 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the troubling nature of Turkey’s re-alignment away from the West, and President Obama’s statements about the “Ground Zero” mosque.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Observations: The Qando Podcast for 06 Jun 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the employment numbers, and Turkey’s seeming intent to provoke a conflict with Israel.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Podcast for 04 Oct 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Obama Enigma, the current state of politics, and Iran’s progress towards nuclear weapons.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.