Archive for the 'General' Category

45 years ago

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Pretty exciting for black and white TV.

Planning and execution in the 2014 narrative

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

A US Government solicitation from the GSA posted Jan 29, 2014 planned for the big jump in UACs:

Procurement Type: Request for Information (RFI)/Sources Sought
Title: Escort Services for Unaccompanied Alien Children

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has a continuing and mission critical responsibility for accepting custody of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) from U.S. Border Patrol and other Federal agencies and transporting these juveniles to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelters…

There will be approximately 65,000 UAC in total: 25% local ground transport, 25% via ICE charter and 50% via commercial air…the following two circumstances may occur: (1) The contractor could initially provide transportation services only in the Southwest Region of the U.S. for those juveniles who are apprehended in the state of Texas; or, (2) The Contractor may be required to provide transportation services for all juveniles who are in DHS custody throughout the continental U.S.

So there was a plan in January 2014 to bring 65,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelters. What is the ORR?

Office of Refugee Resettlement
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) gives new populations the opportunity to maximize their potential in the United States. ORR’s programs provide people in need with critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society, such as cash, social services, and medical assistance.

So all of this was supposed to work out nicely on TV screens across the land, and to the electoral benefit of the media’s allies, with the government compassionately caring for our adorable small fellow citizens. It’s interesting to watch the political-media machine at the meta-level, seeing how the narrative for an election year is scripted and constructed. This one planned for 65,000 child refugees, initially starting in Texas, but then being dispersed throughout the United States. That’s of course exactly what has happened.

The objectives were well chosen: (a) legislation that would give the administration a big win; or (b) in the event of a loss, an effective cudgel to beat their opponents with. We met Eric Cantor at a small gathering earlier this year, and we think the chances of “getting something done” were pretty good. He was supposed to win his primary in the same week as Lindsey Graham, and that was going to provide momentum for a deal. When Cantor lost, surprisingly and decisively, that killed the prospect of a deal, so back to the narrative.

Unfortunately, as we’ve previously noted, while this crew has been outstanding at creating and sustaining the arc of the political-media narrative, it is lousy at tasks requiring executive skill. Ultimately, this makes their team look somewhere between silly and deranged, at least to those who are paying attention to facts, not narrative.

Andy McCarthy is in high dudgeon about all of this. We’re more interested in how many people are still fooled by the TV show, since global events are almost uniformly off-script. It’s a sad state of affairs to be governed by fiction writers while the world is demonstrating that it is not a sitcom.

Check back in 2016

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Commentary:

almost everyone agrees that there is very little chance of the Taliban’s capturing any Afghan city, let alone Kabul, after the departure of ISAF forces later this year. They do control large areas of certain provinces, but they lack the capacity and perhaps even the desire to take any of the country’s cities.

Okay then, that’s settled. But just to be on the safe side, let’s check back in 2016, which will be ten years after this story.

That mysterious bond market rally explained

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

WSJ:

Investors wrestling with the mysterious U.S. bond rally of 2014 got a clue about where to look: China…The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note has fallen to 2.54%, from 3% at the end of 2013…

The Chinese government boosted its official holdings of Treasury debt maturing in more than a year by $107.21 billion in the first five months of 2014…Japan, the second-largest foreign owner of Treasury bonds, increased its note and bondholdings by $9.56 billion… the Treasury report isn’t a complete picture because it doesn’t account for China’s holdings at third-party custody institutions in other nations, such as the U.K. and Belgium…

China’s foreign-exchange reserves currently approach $4 trillion, the world’s biggest in size. China doesn’t disclose the composition of the reserves, but analysts say most are denominated in U.S. dollars…

“The big picture is that China buying may be helping to keep bond yields lower than they should be ahead of the Fed moving closer to raising rates,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. “The market could wake up and get quite a shock…if China changes course.” The risk for the U.S. economy, said Mr. Rupkey, is that any slowdown in Chinese purchases could push U.S. bond and mortgage rates higher, which would put “the fragile housing recovery in jeopardy.”

There’s an economic reason for China to be doing this of course. But you do have to wonder if it’s part of another strategy as well. We’ve seen China jab and retreat in Vietnam, and then there’s Japan. Wheels within wheels is our guess.

Today’s short quiz

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

What’s missing from this story? Oh yeah, this.

Looking backwards

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Consider the remarkable changes of the last 130 years:

Some signal facts of our progress in the last century. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy was in the forties, and GNP per capita was about $4000. If you are born today, your life expectancy in about eighty, and statistically, as an average American, you are ten times richer. In reality you are a hundred or a thousand times richer, if you factor in your ability to be in Paris tomorrow for $1000, your ability to watch events from fifty years ago as they actually happened, etc. – not to mention that your toddler’s severe pneumonia can be reliably cured in 48 hours or so. Only a little of this has to do with government.

Mostly it is because perhaps more than 50% of everything ever invented in the history of humanity was invented in the last 130 years, and perhaps 50% of that was invented by Americans. Milton Hershey invented the candy bar, Carrier invented the air conditioner for a tire plant, Sears invented catalogue distribution, Henry Ford invented cheap cars, some guys from Bell Labs invented, and some others from TI commercialized, the transistor. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the invention and wide use of brand names, which communicate the quality and dependability of every product we buy. This alone deserves a Nobel Prize. And it was a large and growing market, the availability of risk capital, the development of standardized accounting principles, and protection of intellectual and personal property by the courts that made this possible.

We are at the end of an era; soon, there will be no one in America who remembers what life was like without telephones, running water, indoor plumbing, cars, airplanes, central heating, or electric lights; for our purposes here, we’ll include the children and grandchildren of these men and women as participating in a chain of continuity to those old days. One of our favorite quotes from Henry Adams is apt: “The American boy of 1854 stood closer to the year 1 than to the year 1900.” Soon, almost no one in America will have a visceral understanding of what 1854 was like, and what the heck Adams was talking about.

Over at the book nook

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Here’s a review of The Jet Set by Liz Smith, who thought it was fabulous. Here’s one in the WaPo by Jonathan Yardley, who not only detested the book but said the much-published author, a friend of ours, “can’t write.” Stadiem isn’t the only one belittled by Yardley; so was “Juan Trippe, who constructed Pan Am out of whole cloth and eventually presided over its demise, though he was influential in opening international jet travel to those who sat in what he called ‘tourist class’.” In fact the fascinating and complicated pioneering airline Pan Am existed from 1927 to 1991; Trippe died in 1981. Ah well.

Update. On CBS Sunday Morning in an author roundtable, Lee Child mentioned Jet Set as a book he recently enjoyed; Bill said it produced a notable increase in sales on Amazon. The most dramatic recent example of this of course is when the clever use of the Costco kerfuffle sent America to number one overnight at Amazon.

It’s le-lak, not namrepus

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

As you may know, you get back from Mr. Mxyztplk’s planet by saying your name backwards. Backwards indeed. It’s Opposite Day every day now. And we do indeed live in Bizarro World. All of which brings us to this Jonah Goldberg piece. Very puzzling how someone can go through life this way.

Or maybe not. Here’s a fellow who says US foreign policy is going swimmingly in many areas, and that it’s your own fault if people lie to you. Bizarro World indeed.

Fasten your seatbelts

Friday, July 11th, 2014

A spokesman for the border patrol’s labor union:

The aliens who are getting released on their own recognizance are being allowed to board and travel commercial airliners by simply showing their Notice to Appear forms…This is not the CBP or another federal agency renting or leasing an aircraft, these are the same planes that the American public uses for domestic travel…we are allowing them to travel commercially using paperwork that could easily be reproduced or manipulated on any home computer. The Notice to Appear form has no photo, anyone can make one and manipulate one. They do not have any security features, no watermark, nothing.

They are simply printed on standard copy paper based on the information the illegal alien says is the truth…We do not know who these people are, we often have to solely rely on who they say they are, where they say they came from, and the history they say they have. We know nothing about most of them, ICE releases them into the American public, and now they are boarding aircraft at will with a simple paper document that anyone can easily alter or reproduce themselves

This should end well, yes? (Meanwhile….)

Rare and meaningful opportunity

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Read this and watch this and this. If this isn’t an opportunity, what is? What’s that we hear, crickets?

Well worth reading

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

We don’t recall reading anything previously by Mollie Hemingway but this is well worth your time.

The B word

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

A Democratic congressman:

He’s so close to the border. And let me say this: when I saw, and I hate to use the word bizarre, but under the circumstances, when he is shown playing pool in Colorado, drinking a beer, and he can’t even go 242 miles to the Texas border, and plus, if he doesn’t want to go down to the border, there’s the Air Force Base where HHS is holding some of the young kids from the border. He could at least make that trip to San Antonio…I think it’s worse if he doesn’t even show up. Either way, he’s going to be tied into this humanitarian crisis. he either can roll up his sleeves and go down to the border, or he can just look aloof and detached

Meanwhile, the administration lectures Israel while it’s being attacked by Hamas. B word indeed. (If Democrats are now saying these things on TV, what are they saying behind closed doors?)

Another day…..

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Forbes:

NOAA established a network of 114 pristinely sited temperature stations spread out fairly uniformly throughout the United States. Because the network, known as the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), is so uniformly and pristinely situated, the temperature data require no adjustments to provide an accurate nationwide temperature record. USCRN began compiling temperature data in January 2005. Now, nearly a decade later, NOAA has finally made the USCRN temperature readings available. According to the USCRN temperature readings, U.S. temperatures are not rising at all – at least not since the network became operational 10 years ago. Instead, the United States has cooled by approximately 0.4 degrees Celsius, which is more than half of the claimed global warming of the twentieth century.

Not possible. The aliens control CAGW. Seriously, why all the fuss about CO2 when there is often 100x that amount in water vapor in the atmosphere? Here’s an interesting piece from a professor on the generally ignored issue. Why is this deemphasized in favor of the truly minuscule amount of CO2?

Some numbers on the UC’s

Monday, July 7th, 2014

ICE:

97% of UC’s not from Mexico come from Guatemala, El Salvador, or Honduras. Almost 30% are 10-14. A third of UC’s are girls. 95,500 UC’s are expected in FY2015.

Here are pictures of what this mess looks like. As we have asked previously, what kind of parents would abandon their young daughters this way?

No problem

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

LAT:

The number of immigrants under 18 who were deported or turned away at ports of entry fell from 8,143 in 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 1,669 last year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data released under a Freedom of Information Act request. Similarly, about 600 minors were ordered deported each year from nonborder states a decade ago. 95 were deported last year

Hmmmm. At that pace, you could clear up the problem of 52,000 in only 31 years.

Another charming fellow

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Ibrahim al-Asiri:

The 32-year-old, originally from Saudi Arabia, is a leading figure in the Yemeni-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and has been the brains behind a number of high-profile aircraft bomb plots. These have included the so-called “underpants bomber” who tried to blow up a plane as it approached Detroit airport on Christmas Day 2009, and the ink cartridge bombs uncovered at Dubai and East Midlands airport the following year…

Asiri’s fanaticism is such that he even blew up his own brother, Abdullah, in a failed attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s head of security. Asiri built a device that was concealed in his brother’s rectum and detonated by remote control from a mobile phone. Abdullah was killed instantly, although the Saudi official suffered only minor injuries.

Intelligence officials believe Asiri is now trying to develop a device that will escape detection by even the most sophisticated scanning equipment. His latest technique is to use an explosive known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, which has no odour, and therefore foils sniffer dogs and X-ray machines.

Telegraph: Travellers at Heathrow were subjected to “vigorous” body searches…It is feared that Western jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq, including hundreds of Britons, have been recruited as would-be suicide bombers.

Insane

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

NYT

As federal officials have begun to send the expected 240,000 migrants and 52,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border illegally in recent months in the Rio Grande Valley to cities around the county, Murrieta so far is the only place that has managed to turn them away. The reactions have been mixed

A country without borders is not a country. Read this vividly reported and disturbing piece by Major Garrett. These people are unhinged. It will be interesting to discover what percentage of Americans are okay with this unprecedented madness and why.

Today’s lesson

Friday, July 4th, 2014

King-craft: “they always bestrode the necks of the people”

we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it.

Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow.

What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden.

Timelier today than ever, n’est-ce pas? HT: PL

Hmmmm…..

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

As John Adams wrote on this date a long time ago:

Britain has been filled with folly, and America with wisdom. At least, this is my judgment. Time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting, and distresses yet more dreadful.

If this is to be the case, it will have the good effect at least. It will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies and vices which duces refinement, in States as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming in every part will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues, or they will be no blessings.

The people will have unbounded power, and the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe

Sounds kind of modern, neh? Except that the role of folly is now played by this country. HT: AS

Mariel Boatlift 2.0

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

The Mariel Boatlift was first regarded as a humanitarian issue. It morphed into something else as it enabled Fidel Castro then to empty Cuba’s prisons, asylums and hospitals. It appears that Mariel Boatlift 2.0 was contrived to hit the news big time just as Lindsey Graham and Eric Cantor won easy anti Tea Party victories. So the news would tout the bi-partisan demand for comprehensive immigration reform aka amnesty and the angle was that it’s all about the children. The children! When Cantor lost decisively and unexpectedly, the air went out of the bi-partisan angle to the media narrative. Pity. It was supposed to be effective political theater for election season, planned last year for roll-out now. As with so much of what this crew in Washington does, the media planning was excellent, but the executive competence was nil. So it’s now a disaster and a political loser, the only remedy for which is cover up and threaten whistle-blowers as usual.

It’s notable that the administration structured the narrative such that they were merely responding to a crisis that somehow appeared out of nowhere, a common enough technique if you find truth to be an inconvenience. (“Seit 5.45 Uhr wird jetzt zurückgeschossen!“) But it was very naive to expect this to remain a cute story for long, not when the kids include criminals and others who have measles, scabies, chicken pox and strep throat as well as mental and emotional issues, up to and including suicide. Nowhere have we seen the media pose these questions: what kind of parents would abandon their kids in this way, and what would be the characteristics of the children that they would choose to abandon? Mariel Boatlift…