Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Oracle of Tickbite College Football Review: Week 1

Well first off I was gonna commend Virginia for a good showing against UCLA, but CW already beat me to it. It's the first game so who knows, but certainly CW has reconsidered his morbidly pessimistic view of the Wahoos. But it cannot be said CW is a fair-weather fan, he loves those bums. (by the way, take a gander to the left, those Southern California schools still understand what cheerleading is all about don't they? Jesus H. Christ, what feminism has wrought!)

So, now lets get down to it going from low to high. My dearly beloved Wolfpack came back against a pretty good Georgia Southern squad. Georgia Southern you ask, aren't they just a bunch of Div II clowns? Well yes they are, and those clowns have won 6 National Championships and their last outing was in the Swamp where they handed the Flawda Gators an ass whipping. You might recall a few years back another Div II school that cruised into Ann Arbor, Michigan and hung one on the #5 or 6 team in the country before 110,000 admiring fans, so don't discount Div II too much. Speaking of which there was a rematch yesterday that wasn't quite so unexpected, Big Blue beat Appalachian State 52-14. Oh well, ski season is coming up.

In top 25 action I guess the biggest surprise (wouldn't call it an upset) the Lamecocks of South Carolina lost to Texas A&M 52-28 at home. Plus judging by the boxscore it didn't really look close. Spurrier has a great home opener record so this must really be a bummer for the fans. Note to S.C., schedule a donkey first game! It was a tough day all around in the Palmetto State, Clemson lost to Georgia 45-21.

The best game was Wisconsin down in Tigerland against LSU. The Badgers folded the tent in the second half allowing a 17 point rally eventually losing 28-24. So those corn-fed, freckle-faced white boys go home crying in their Budweiser (of which they consume by the pitcher).

Can you believe they have UNC at preseason #23? They beat Jerry Falwell U 56-29 yesterday in Kenan. OK OK, it was just a scrimmage but even still, Liberty shouldn't have scored a point. You know this Carolina corruption thing is not just about sports rivalries. We all hate UNC athletics and justifiably so. They're a bunch of arrogant pricks! They're the kind of people where you know you go to a frat party in Chapel Hill because you got a buddy who knows somebody there and anyway you go and you have a few and you hook up with a smoking hot Tar Hellian coed and you take her upstairs and shag the ass off her and she does tricks you haven't seen since the circus was in town and anyway you call her the next day and it's like, "Who the hell is this? Oh right, was that you?" and the next time you see her she's with some CW looking ponce wearing a Carolina blue blazer and a UNC baseball cap. See what I mean? That dear friends is the Carolina way!

Well that's it, see ya next week.

The President Has Run Out of Political Capital

PBO in his summer weight suit--The Audacity of Taupe
This week's admission by the President that he lacked a comprehensive strategy for combating ISIL in Syria and Iraq raises the ugly truth that for all his supposed political dexterity, President Obama has simply run out of political capital.

Let's face it.  Being President of the United States is an unusually difficult job.  I cannot even begin to understand the pressure under which that man operates every day, and the dark things with which he has to contend.  But Mr. Obama's position is no different than any other President's...the job was tough for all of them.  Where Mr. Obama's Presidency differs is the degree to which he has squandered the political capital he amassed as the darling of the media, the darling of the left (but I repeat myself), the darling of the young, and the darling of the apolitical. Five and a half years into his Presidency, the President is alone, marginalized, and treading water.

As the linked to article says, a politician makes a "gaffe" when he accidentally tells the truth.  Putting aside for a second the obvious truth that by saying there is no strategy the President leaves himself open to fears among the governed that he isn't up to the job...the strong likelihood that he was telling the truth, and the degree to which the truth was simply unacceptable to the media and the chattering class (my member number is 2387490) is just another sign of the utter lack of capital the man possesses.  The media is increasingly hostile to the President, slow to realize the degree to which he has been a disappointment though quick to natter on about how he hasn't been as cooperative with them as they would like.

The left has also turned on the President, for seemingly not being left enough.  Cornell West's deeming of the President as a "counterfeit" is just one of the many cries from the left indicating their discomfort with Obama. Folks like me and many of the readers of this President have been from the beginning, hostile to his programs and his ideology, but this turn from the left is noteworthy.

The Kitten is a relatively apolitical being, but even she had to admit that she has more and more conversations with friends who are also apolitical--but who voted (twice)--where those friends indicate their disdain for the President and their regret at having voted for him.

How did all this happen?  Well, for one thing, I have to conclude that the golfing thing really is hurting the President.  The scenes of him running off for the golf club after crying his crocodile tears for a beheaded journalist strike many a simple person as unpresidential.  We all get that he needs time off -- but the manner in which he is pursuing it is rubbing people the wrong way.  Don't come at me now with your "well, Eisenhower golfed...."  Yes, he did.  And he won World War II.  And he didn't serve during the days of a 24 hour cable news cycle.  The comparison is idiotic.  Hell, Roosevelt (T) road horses all the time.

Secondly, his foreign policy choices are increasingly questionable.  The President's pollsters tell him that the American public is war-weary and that they don't want to get involved in entanglements abroad.  They are right.  I think the American public does feel that way.  But the American public also likes being top-dog, they like our power and influence in the world, and they like knowing that we CAN do something about things even if we DON'T.  Here is where the President is failing.  He is so obsessed with the former that the latter concern escapes him.  And the public is losing confidence as a result.  They have come to believe that we don't act because we are incapable of acting, and that is causing deep in their bones anxiety that plays out in their support (or lack of it).

Finally, although the media did their best to deny and obfuscate, enough truth about Obamacare has gotten out that the public (appropriately) believes they were lied to.  Serially.  Blatantly.  The trust is gone and Mr. Obama's Presidency is gone with it.

Can he recover?  Never say never.  But the likelihood is low, and we will find ourselves in 2016 with the interesting
spectacle of Democratic candidate(s) running against the "transformational" President that they were in love with just a few short years ago.

UCLA 28 UVA 20

UVA replacement QB Matt Johns (Courtesy: Daily Progress)
Went down to Charlottesville  for the home opener yesterday against #7 (and Lee Corso's pick to win it all) UCLA and expected to get beaten like a drum.  Instead, I came away with a sneaky suspicion that we aren't as bad as I thought and that we might beat a few teams this year.

Our offense gave away three touchdowns...two pick six and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.  Starter Grayson Lambert looked horrific, the play calling was terrible, and it looked to be a long game.

But the defense was pretty damn good....we put pressure on UCLA's star QB all day.  We gave up some big plays, but that's something we always do.  The suspect offensive line didn't give up any sacks... and our second string QB came in and led the team on two scoring drives and got us deep inside UCLA territory at 5:50 left with the score 28-20.  We were in position to send it to overtime...and then disaster.  First down up the gut....nothing.  Second down up the gut...nothing.  Third guessed it...up the gut.  Fourth down incomplete, that's the ball game.

But the third down play was not supposed to be a run.  It was signaled in as a pass and the replacement QB (who may have earned a starting job), went to his wrist band, pulling off the wrong play.  While that excuses the horrible third down does nothing to excuse the first and second down plays.  Simply horrible.

All that said, it was a beautiful day, was with awesome people, and we played a good team tough.  Hope springs eternal...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Aw, what's the matter, Chief?  Your home opener this Saturday against the #7 team in the country?  Got "no strategy" for ISIL?  Share your pain, it makes it hurt less.

No weigh-ins for me.  Giant. Slovenly. Slothful.

UVA's football season, you ask?  Well, here it is:

vs UCLA  (L)
vs Richmond (W)
vs Louisville (L)
at BYU (L)
vs Kent State (W)
vs Pitt (L)
at Duke (L)
vs  UNC (L)
at Ga Tech (L)
at Fl State (L)
vs Miami (L)
at Va Tech (L)

Is Virginia this bad?  Well, no, not really.  They will be better than they were last year.  But the schedule is crushing and everyone else is better.  Hell, Richmond is one of the best teams in their division and could easily take this game, what with two former Virginia QB's on their roster...

The last six games is going to be brutality.  But win or lose, I am a Wahoo.  Wahoowa.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

When Will They Learn?

Do you recall the Romney/Obama debates? I know CW does, for him it was like watching 70's (pre-body wax) Swedish porn. Remember the moderators? Well there was the appropriately named Candy Crowley weighing in at just under 275, and Martha Raddatz who was once married to one of Obama's buddies (and at the time FCC Chairman). What did they expect out of these two mainstream network leftists I wonder? I'm not sure but I'll tell you what they got, moderators who steered the conversation where they wanted it to go and acted like a tag team against poor Romney. Of course AFTER the election everybody did a mea culpa and said that maybe Romney got the short end and gosh awfully sorry about that Benghazi thing...our bad. Well no need for an apology, nobody screwed up at all and certainly not the cetacean Ms. Crowley. They did exactly what they planned to do. No the screw up was by Romney's people for allowing the bias twins to moderate.

So now comes our Republican National Committee approved Senate candidate for North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis, along with his entourage of big-time campaign managers and consultants (Lee Atwater they ain't). So far they have advised him to let them handle it, stay out of the limelight, don't worry we got this one. We'll soften Hagan up with ads and then kick her butt in the debates and it's all downhill from there, cruise on home to victory. But for God sake don't do anything stupid like actually present a position or stand for something. You'll only invite attacks and besides, voters are tired of gridlock and bickering. They want politicians to get along and if you're too critical you'll be seen as an asshole or bully or worse. Just relax, you're in good shape.

In keeping with that looser strategy which has never worked and will never work, guess who will be moderating the two Hagan/Tillis debates? The ever so professional and fair (in a Bill Ayers kinda way) Norah O'Donnell and Mr. "He's So Cute" (but not lately) himself George "Stephie" Stephanopoulos. You may recall Stephie kicked off the "War on Women" by badgering a perplexed Mitt Romney during the '12 primary debates about abortion when ABSOLUTELY NOBODY was talking about abortion! But if you're going to gin up an issue you gotta start somewhere and apparently Stephie was only too happy to oblige.

In my humble opinion if you want to win you have to be willing to lose. Take the fight to your opponent, set out your position clearly and concisely and defend it. Win or lose let everybody know where you stand. It worked for Reagan and it worked for Newt in '94. Plus it's the only thing that does work. So if you want to put your constituency to sleep and energize your dispirited and disheartened competition then keep listening to the Steve Schmidts of the world, you'll end up in McCain or Romney land real quick. So I ask again, when will they learn?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's It Gonna Be?

I doubt you've noticed but we've got a vote coming up in September to extend the authorization for the Import-Export Bank. The Import-Export Bank you ask, is that like a credit union? No it isn't. The "bank" is an official agency established by FDR that is independent from the executive and it really doesn't loan money. What it does is take on the "risk" that business would otherwise not take so as to facilitate exports. In other words if a business wants to do business in Upper Volta but is afraid the local Generalissimo (who two years ago was a staff sergeant) might spend the national treasury on a villa in Nice then the Import-Export Bank guarantees the business will get paid. In fact they pay the business up front to take the risk (that they didn't take) and if the deal goes ass over tits the business still gets paid (with taxpayer cash). I know, it's complicated but what it really means is the "bank" hands out taxpayer money to companies that big politicians like. For example, about 44% of the cash goes to Boeing (and you wonder why Washington state is so damned leftist!).

Now everybody knows this is just a boondoggle but hey, big business likes it, the politicians like it, the corporate lapdog Chamber of Commerce likes it, and money don't mean shit these days so who are we to complain? Well there are a few malcontents out there such as myself who, I don't know, think that just maybe corporate welfare to connected multi-national companies at the expense of the US taxpayer just ain't right. But I'm just being difficult I guess.

But here's the thing. This is a good litmus test for our Republican politicians. Most to the Tea Party types are of course against this, but Boehner is, as would be expected, foaming at the mouth to vote HELL YES! So keep an eye out, it's going to pass there's just no doubt, but let's see who walks the walk.

Monday, August 25, 2014

History... What History?

Does the date August 24th. jar a nerve in you psyche? Probably not. Look it's no problem, for many of you history started when you got your first car, or first ride (wink wink) or maybe your iPhone (for CW it was his first double-breasted blue blazer from Jos. A. Bank, he was nine). It's ok, you're just an quick, who was Salmon P. Chase? But for all you history illiterates out there the 24th was the day Paris was liberated in World War II. World War II you ask? OK, half of you can stop reading, House Wives of New Jersey just started. For the rest of you what happened was Tom Hanks landed on the beach at Normandy then George C. Scott commanded a bunch of tanks and, well they ended up in Paris somehow. So, yesterday they celebrated the 70th. anniversary of the event and let me tell you, what a hoedown! It's was like Paris Fashion Week with a haute couture military theme.

Now you have to hand it to them, the French are very good at paying tribute to the French. It was a patriotic celebration for Paris' few remaining non-Africans led by French President Francois Gerard Georges Nicolas Hollande (pronounced eh...screw-it, say it any friggin' way you want) honoring the French resistance (the most famous resistance EVER!) and Charles De Gaulle. There was not much mention of the US 4th. Infantry Division, the British, Dutch, Canadians, Polish or Wild Bill Donovan. No it was strictly a Francophilic exercise in national masturbation.

But before you get your panties in a twist I'll remind you of what General De Gaulle said at the time (at least they're consistent).
“Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the support of the armies of France, with the help and support of the whole of France, of the France that fights, of the only France, of the true France, of the eternal France!”
Eternal France my ass, eternally ungrateful dickheads maybe.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dispatch from the Road: San Diego

Returning to the scene of the 1999-2001 crime, San Diego.  Here is where I spent 15 months as XO of a Cruiser--USS PRINCETON (CG 59)--a truly great ship with a truly great crew.  I needed those things, as it turned out that when I set out for my cross country trip to SD to start the tour, a young woman was about to remove my heart from my body and blow-torch it to dust.  That ship and that crew had a lot to do with putting the spring back in my step.

But I never quite got San Diego.  I missed the change of seasons.  I missed the snap of chill in the air come fall.  I lived an idyllic life in Coronado where the temperature is 75 and the sun shines virtually all days of the year, save for two months (May/June) when the marine layer does its cloudy, cool bit.  But I never really took to it.

I think it was the heartbreak.  Without that, I'd probably have eaten this place up.  I posted on Facebook recently that I had not been back here since I left in 2001--but that isn't true.  I simply forgot the time I came here in 2009.

Mine looked just like this.  A magnificent beast.
This time is different though.  I will likely be coming out here regularly on business now, and I am going to have a great attitude about it.  I am staying at this quirky little hotel in Point Loma, a place I am enjoying though there is no coffee maker in my room.  I arrived home from dinner last night to a rocking pool scene and screening of the movie "Point Break" on a large screen above the pool.  The dining options within walking distance are limited, but so what.  I like it.

Had dinner the other night with a friend of long-standing who retired around the same time that I did from the Navy.  He's now an executive at a shipyard out here and doing wonderfully.  Great to see good guys thrive.  During our dinner, another exec from his company came by for drinks...a guy who also happens to be a friend of 27 years.  I have to imagine their company is in good hands, with these two guys running things.

I did not appreciate how beautiful SD was when I lived here.  Driving last night on "the 8" (they say that out here--add a "the" in front of the highway number) west, the hills rising, be-speckled with signs of human life, it is hard not to like it.  If you can afford to live in Southern California, then there are much worse places to live.

As I drove on the highway, I had a crystal clear memory of the Saturday morning that I bought my baby, a brand new 2000 BMW Z3.  Late on a Friday afternoon, I had come home from a day on the ship--I got a phone call.  The voice was familiar, a man from the Navy I knew well.  He was calling to tell me that I had "deep-selected" to the rank of Commander.  I was ecstatic.  It had been a tough, tough year.  So that night, I decided that I would wake the next day and go buy my Z3.  An impulse buy?  Yep.  Responsible?  Nope.  The right thing to do?  Absolutely.  I loved that car, and I am quite certain there is another Z in my future, after I get this other hip swapped out.
The drive back to Coronado from the dealer was an typical San Diego day.  Sunny, low 70's.  I had the top down--mostly left it down--and I was blasting the radio.  Those memories were so clear last night I could taste them.

I've got a full day here in San Diego and then a red-eye back home tonight.  I promise to give San Diego the chance it deserves.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Video on climate change from the Heartland Institute conference

Paul Budline, a professional film-maker friend of mine who spends his free time irritating all the right people, put together a nice video around the Heartland Institute's recent conference on climate change. Paul made some waves last year with a revealing video about the "knockout game," which received millions of views. This effort does not scandalize in quite the same way, but it is a nice peek inside the dissident camp.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Our War and Now Their War

You may know there are two competing organizations who's job it is to get Senators elected on the Republican ticket. One is the National Republican Senatorial Committee (CW's homeys) that routinely back establishment types like Thad Cochran and Lamar Alexander. Then you have Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund DOESN'T give money to RINOs.
Now guess who heads the SCF? Ding-ding-ding-ding, good for you, that's right, Ken Cuccinelli. Apparently Ken landed on his feet after losing the Virginia gubernatorial race to the corrupt Clinton lackey Terry McAuliffe. But I have to say, I think Ken holds a grudge after getting NO support AT ALL from the national party and of course there's that thing about Eric Cantor's people actually helping the McAuliffe campaign (gee, how's he doing I wonder?).
Anyway, the two groups don't get along that well because, well it seems conservative money DOES have someplace to go other than to the establishment, and the establishment ain't grooving on that fact one little bit!!
Now dig this, the NRSC is bitching up a storm because the SCF won't give money to the NRSC's beloved RINOs (I sound a lot like Big Fred right now, sorry). They're saying stuff like the SCF hasn't spent a dime against Kay Hagan etc. OK, fair enough but the NRSC got the Republican nominee Thom Tillis (Jesus, learn how to spell "Tom" mofo!) through the primary, he's their boy and he's their friggin' problem. If he wins they get the proceeds and the piss-offs. By the way if he does win do you think the Beltway Republicans will give any credit to anyone other than themselves? HELL TO THE NO! Besides, where were the Country Club Republicans when we needed YOU? Not sure? Just ask SCF President Ken Cuccinelli, he knows.

It looks like Bill and Hillary have made their opening move. Hillary has been on Obama's case in the last week or so about the mess in Iraq. She's also hit his economic policy recently and there's more to come. I'm sure you guys have seen this so I won't go into detail, but ain't it great! Politically speaking she really has no choice, she has to distance herself from this idiot but I'm a little surprised by the timing. It would seem to me a better time would be AFTER the mid-terms. Doing it now will only cause some rifts and potentially hurt turnout. But maybe she WANTS a big Republican year. Maybe a Republican controlled Congress gives her more to run against in '16. I'm not sure what the reasoning is but I'm sure they've got something up their sleeve, exactly what I have no idea. But at this stage who give a shit? I'm just loving every minute of it. Kick some Kenyan ass Hillary, we're behind you 50%.

On the Act of Suicide

This one might turn out a little heavy for readers accustomed to my usual breezy style here on the old blog.  If you're bothered by that prospect or by the subject of the post, then by all means, don't read it.  No need to add to your already dyspeptic state.

I write today about suicide, with Robin Williams' recent successful attempt fresh in the news.  I want to get on the record first and foremost that I while I have enjoyed Williams' work immensely and believe him to have been a uniquely talented individual, I do not confuse my one way relationship with his reproduced image on a screen with having been a human relationship of any real sort.  He entertained me, but we were not in any sense of the word, acquainted.  So while I am sad at his death, I am find it interesting the degree to which my fellow Americans have indulged in great flights of mournful fancy at his passing.

Williams' suicide has however, brought forward (once again) the whole concept of suicide and the degree to which those who succeed at it are acting in a profoundly selfish and rational manner.  There have been lots of stories in the press about people who feel this way, and their criticism of the media outpouring of affection for Williams that include the sentiments that he is now "free", that his act in some way represented a positive, empowering act.  The fear of course, is that others will see suicide in the same light and we will then have something of an epidemic…so the logic goes.

My interest in this story comes about as a result of a discussion I had with the Kitten recently--within the last two weeks--about suicide. The Kitten is multi-degreed in the field of psychology and does a good bit of grief counseling through the church.  She knows of what she speaks, and she has no problem taking issue with my variously strongly voiced yet thinly supported pronouncements on issues of mental health.

The subject came up as the result of a suicide in our town, the details of which are not important.  Our discussion centered around my perception of the SELFISHNESS of the act…I referred to suicide as the "ultimate" act of selfishness.  I have heard my very words from this conversation played back to me in the media over the past few days as those who see Williams' act in this light pontificate as I had.

Williams' death, however, has caused me to re-evaluate my position on this issue. I think the primary logical flaw in my worldview all along was that I felt that in the moment of despair, the suicidal person was making a rational, logical, choice to end their pain.  That they had weighed the consequences in a coherent manner, that they fully realized there would be ruin left in the act's wake, and that they chose death anyway.  This is where the selfishness comes in.

For whatever reason, I have been all along able to see depression itself as irrational….that the person suffering from it has a skewed view of the world and their place in it…but then at the moment of greatest despair and depression--I viewed that act as rational. Why I could see the sickness (depression) as irrational but the symptom (suicide) as rational is …in itself…irrational and illogical.  Robin Williams had everything to live for.  He was rich and possessed the means to stay that way.  He was immensely talented.  He was universally loved.  By every rational measure, he was on top of the world.  Yet he ended his own life anyway.  What could possibly be rational about that?

My view of suicide has caused me to be somewhat less than charitable to the memory of those who have died this way.  When the Chief of Naval Operations put a bullet in his own chest in the 1990's, I remember clearly thinking he had acted selfishly.  This view was challenged somewhat when a good friend of mine died by suicide a few years ago, but for whatever reason it wasn't enough to cause me to think differently about his death.  Williams' death--and The Kitten's counsel--have caused me to question my view of suicide at fundamental levels of understanding.

Although I maintain there are still instances of suicide that are acts of selfishness (mostly those that involve escaping punishment for some crime/act), I imagine those are much more rare than I thought.  I have come to believe that at that moment of greatest despair, investing a disconsolate person with the levels of rationality that I had, was simply the wrong thing to do.  I hope to be more understanding of the totality of the act in the future, and to judge less harshly those who die in this manner.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

On the Road This Week

Leaving a little later today for a trip to Newport, RI, where I will undergo three and a half days of grueling indoctrination (heh) designed to make me into a passable "Professor of Joint Maritime Operations".  I will be teaching a class on Thursday nights this year at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, for those "non-resident" students of the Naval War College interested in pursuing their studies.

My usual lodgings in Newport are full-up while I'm there, so I decided that this time I'd stay in Jamestown, just across the bridge.  I have a few friends there, and it is a quaint little place very different from the hubbub of summertime Newport.  Its expense exceeds the sum Uncle Sugar allots for my lodging, so I'll kick in a few sheckels each night to enjoy a little better QoL than I would at the Bates Motel in Newpawt.

I'm looking forward to teaching this class, even if I am somewhat infamous for my dissertations on the evil of excessive "Jointness".  While I am very happy to no longer be in uniform, I do miss the interaction with bright young whippersnappers, and I imagine this will land me squarely back in that briar-patch.  I shall pattern my instruction after Robin Williams' character in "Dead Poet Society"......

That part of the summer is upon us in which the Kitten begins to fret about not having accomplished all she wished, the Kittens are moaning about school, and frenetic activity abounds in an attempt to wring the very last bit of magic from the season.  I have been amazed at how lovely the weather has been, so nice in fact, that the annual series of running gun battles with the Kitten over the use of AC has been rendered moot.  We've kept the house open much of the time, and the week ahead looks like more of the same.  My lawn--which be this time in past summers had begun to turn a brownish grey, is still quite green and full.  All in all, it has been a wonderful summer.

My only regret is that another summer has come and gone without me spending a week on the Outer Banks.  I have a need deep in my bones to get back out there...perhaps next summer...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's on your mind, Champ?  Gonna have to fight again where you told us we were finished?  Ebola got you worried?  Get it off your chest, friend.  Emote!

Weighed in at 187 today, not bad after last weekend's debacle of eating.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

All the data that is fit to cherry-pick

The New York Times has a little work to do in the cause and effect department:

Droughts appear to be intensifying over much of the West and Southwest as a result of global warming. Over the past decade, droughts in some regions have rivaled the epic dry spells of the 1930s and 1950s.
Uh, if the current drought is "a result of global warming," what caused those "epic dry spells of the 1930s and 1950s"?

Funding al Qaeda, European antisemitism, a few questions for Hillary, and a modest proposal

This week brought two interesting stories about Europe and the current troubles, neither of which have received nearly enough attention. On July 29, The New York Times ran a shocking front page story about the extent to which European governments are funding al Qaeda through ransom payments.

While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.
The short version is this: Al Qaeda has figured out that the continental European countries will pay lavish ransoms to get back their citizens who have foolishly wandered -- the chic term for this is "trekked" -- in to parts of the world where al Qaeda ranges unchecked. Al Qaeda then captures them, and after some agitated back and forth the Europeans fork over bales of cash which they then disguise on their books as "foreign aid" or "relief" because, well, they deny having done it. All of this happens over alleged U.S. and British opposition, neither of which stalwart country will pay ransoms (with the happy and obvious collateral result that al Qaeda has given up kidnapping American and British citizens). Intelligence estimates suggest that al Qaeda may be raising as much as half of its operating budget from feckless European governments.

In entirely unrelated news, Newsweek's cover story -- yes, it has a cover again, being back in print -- purports to explain "why Europe's Jews are fleeing once again." The violent return of antisemitism in Europe is scary enough, and if you think "it can't happen there" just remember that's what everybody thought about Germany in the 1920s. It's enough to make this Gentile want to wear a yarmulke in solidarity the next time we go to Europe. Except that we would be too afraid for our safety.

All of this leads to a few questions for the Obama administration and any current or former Secretary of State with presidential aspirations.

  • Why hasn't the Obama administration been screaming about this to high heaven? True, Bush was quiet about the few ransoms paid during his term, but he had the excuse of needing Europe's money and soldiers for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With no such dependency, why did it take the NYT to bring the extent of these payments to light? Or, might it be that the Grey Lady's story is the Obama administration screaming about this? This last possibility seems almost impossibly Europhobic for this administration, but if it were true we would have to dial up our respect for Obama's game. Slightly. He has not actually stopped the practice yet.
  • Reporters with self-respect and access to the administration might well ask, what did Hillary know and when did she know it? More importantly, what specifically did she do to persuade, cajole, or coerce European governments to stop making these payments that are converted in to arms for killing innocent civilians and American soldiers? Since there may not be any reporters that have both such qualifications, these are also good questions for the GOP nominee to ask in a presidential debate. Just make sure Candy Crowley isn't the moderator.
  • Regardless of the politics, we believe that the United States needs to punish Europe for financing its enemies. The question is, how to do that? Yes, well, President Obama could always lecture them, but that sanction seems to be losing its potency. The official Tigerhawk solution, however, is poetic in its justice and solves more than one problem: Offer refugee status to any European Jew who wants to come here because of antisemitism in Europe. The benefits of this solution ought to be obvious, but we here at the CW are nothing if not skilled at enumerating the reasons why our ideas are awesome:

  • We punish Europe by draining away many of its most productive citizens.
  • We get a bunch of really educated and economically productive new immigrants.
  • The United States enjoys a schadenfreude moment, insofar as we get to lecture Europe about human rights, rather than the reverse.
  • Perhaps most importantly, offering refugee status to European Jews now would be a small step toward expiating the original sin of the Roosevelt administration, the turning away of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Do not fail to appreciate the significance of this.
  • If the GOP had two brain cells to rub together, it would attach such a provision to legislation that provides more funding for immigration matters. What, pray tell, would Barack Obama have to say about that? Sadly, we detect no such imagination among the Congressional Republicans.

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