sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ATF-Fast and Furious

Those of you who read my blog will note that I am not often critical of law enforcement - however people have been appropriately critical of ATF with their handling of situations that went horribly wrong (such as Waco-Branch Dravidians). Those of you who know me personally know that I recently ran a multi- agency federal-state-counties-cities task force targeting Asian Organized Crime. ATF provided my group a lot of manpower and equipment and some very good special agents. We bought a lot of machine guns on the streets of Los Angeles from organized crime - but I can't imagine a situation where we would have SOLD machine guns such that they would have "walked" from the point of sale from the US and into the hands of narcotics cartels in Mexico. Just because you can do something does not mean that you should.
(CBS NEWS - LINK) "Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let gobegan showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets... the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence.
One e-mail noted, "958 killed in March 2010 ... most violent month since 2005." The same e-mail notes: "Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone," including "numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles."
Dodson feels that ATF was partly to blame for the escalating violence in Mexico and on the border. "I even asked them if they could see the correlation between the two," he said. "The more our guys buy, the more violence we're having down there."

What is the Obama Justice Department thinking?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Johnny Quest - The Cartoon

When I was a kid my favorite cartoon (ok, it tied with the Road Runner) was Johnny Quest. In the video clip below, Joe Barbera talks about his vision for the series and about how it all began in the 1960's.

They had very cool gadgets, the adventures had a flare of realism. There were underwater habitats, advanced aircraft and different venues and I never tired of Jonny Quest. The cartoon became one of the main targets of parental watchdog groups such as the radical liberal organization, Action for Children's Television (ACT), for its multiple onscreen deaths, murder attempts, use of firearms and deadly weapons and tense moments. Reruns were taken off the air in 1972, but returned to Saturday morning, in edited form.

Yes, I could turn this to a rant against political correctness and liberal whackos, but it wouldn't do any good. All of the episodes are on YouTube and you can watch them there in their original form - as you can with Road Runner cartoons. I really don't understand it at a gut level, but liberal activists really enjoy taking fun out of everything. My response (as a young man as now) is to tell them to go to hell. Then again if you were politically correct, you wouldn't be reading my blog.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Foreign Aid to Libya - and Border Security

Fox News reported (LINK HERE) that at roughly the same time President Obama called Qaddafi a threat to his own people, President Obama lobbied Congress to give the Libyans $1.7 million. 

I need to repeat this:

According to Fox News, just one month before attacking Libya the president asked Congress to increase U.S. aid for Qaddafi's military to $1.7 million. According to State Department figures, the money was earmarked to train Libyan military officers, improve its air force, secure its borders and to counter terrorism.

Ok, maybe I'm slow (because I believe in God, guns and the Constitution). But, as I understand the POLICY of the Obama regime -->  While the US Border is porous and our ineffective border security plan allows Mexican cartel narcoterrorists to cross with tons of illegal narcotic products, and allows millions of illegal aliens to cross every month, we're giving money to LIBYA for border security. Is that what this regime proposed, a month before we attacked them?  In what universe does that make any sense to anyone?

Fox News (cited above): Libya isn't the only repressive Arab regime benefiting from U.S. military aid. Obama wants $120 million for Yemen next year, including $20 million for a military accused of brutally putting down a popular revolt, and $11 million to promote democracy and human rights, something critics say doesn't exist in Yemen. Read more:

It almost smacks of treason.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bloody Mexico - The War Intensifies

The internecine killing between Mexicans who have affiliated themselves with drug cartels is escalating with a reported split in the Sinaloa Federation (parent organization of Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación - below)

The cartel violence and the battle between mafia style groups for control of turf and valuable trafficking routes increased with the economic pinch that the world economy has trickled down to Mexico.

In dystopian México, the absence of a just and moral government has led to a vacuum where evil runs virtually unchecked. Society festers where an underground empire rules a land in self-destruct mode. Rampant corruption at all levels thrives in an environment where many compromise their principles and their virtue for narco-money. Recent violence as a result of the cartel wars may have topped 100,000 dead—but nobody really knows the numbers and the Méxican government hides the death toll for the sake of ‘national credibility’. There are states in México where the narcos rule and the government’s efforts to restore the rule of constituted law have been repeatedly thwarted. 

Narcotics are not just a Mexican or an American problem. Worldwide people spend more money on narcotics than they do on food. The wars between entrepreneurs who would be king for control of the drug trade are as vicious as they are unrelenting. The Mexican cartels have made billions of dollars by moving cocaine that was grown in Peru and Brazil and refined in Colombia through México and into the world’s largest consumer of everything, the United States of America. 

The unstable and unsustainable situation in México, caused in great part by the narcotics cartels, is quickly becoming a matter of concern to American national security planners, as the border is not destroyed with a bang, but by intentional neglect. 

The face of the Jalisco (and Guadalajara) Cartel - it's in Spanish so if you don't understand the language much of it may be lost on you. If you visit Guadalajara and are beheaded, these are the guys who will be doing it. Or if you're sitting in a restaurant having dinner, and a hand grenade is thrown in, it's better than even odds that these guys will have thrown it.

Interrogations of members of Los Zetas, the paramilitary cartel that roams through much of Mexico murdering and terrorizing.

Does the Libyan Revolution Matter?

The Obama Administration did not sell the Libyan operation to the American people and didn't explain why we were going to war there. Barack Obama may consider launching 100 fire-and-forget cruise missiles to be his contribution to a token effort because President Sarcozy (France) shamed him into helping, but the American people demand more. Failing to explain 'why' to the American people and to Congress has met with a generally negative reaction toward Obama across the political spectrum because the Obama regime failed to tell the people that Libya matters to the United States not for its oil or intrinsic importance, but because it has been a key part of the rapidly evolving transformation of the Arab world. 

For Arab protestors and regimes alike, Gaddafi's bloody response to the emerging Libyan protest movement has become a litmus test for the future of the Arab revolution. If Gaddafi succeeded in snuffing out the challenge by force without a meaningful response from the United States, Europe and the international community then that would have been interpreted as a green light for all other leaders to employ similar tactics. The stakes for the US couldn't be higher, but the current US Administration seems to consider it an annoyance at best - a distraction from endless vacations, and from political wrangling at home.
Libya's degeneration from protest movement into civil war has been at the center of the Arab public sphere for the last month. An enormous number of Arab activists and protest organizers and intellectuals from across the region  have said that events in Libya would directly affect their own willingness to challenge their regimes. 

The US should not ignore the powerful place which Libya occupies in the emerging Arab transformations, and how the outcome there could shape the region's future. Failure to act on our part emboldens brutality across the region, and leaving Qaddafi in place to wreak great harm is not in the American national interest.

The Arab world is changing and dictators are dropping like flies across Arab North Africa. The Obama Administration may not see or understand the central role that the US must play as the glue that holds European coalitions together - or maybe Obama simply doesn't care (the links seem to call to him). Failure of the US to assume a central role will result in more human suffering and enduring dictators like Gadhafi - who should have been removed from power when they sponsored terrorist acts against the US decades ago.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Libyan Operations

US Psyops Activity

The US contribution an Expeditionary Strike Group (ARG + escorts and submarines) and no more than 40 USAF aircraft, only 15 of which are actually USAF strike aircraft so far have been participating in the reduction of defenses and command, control and communication capability within Libya. 

Libya is the first war participated in by America outside the Western hemisphere since WWII where the US has not deployed an aircraft carrier (there are French and Italian aircraft carriers on station in the Gulf of Sidra area). The reason that is significant is because a single US nuclear aircraft carrier has more strike fighter aircraft than what the USAF has committed to Libyan operations to date. Despite the overwhelming show of force the last 24 hours, the US military footprint supporting operations against Libya is actually very small by US military standards, but it exceeds what our allies are able to do.

The coalition seems to be led by France, with other European and a couple of small Arab nations contributing small resources. It will eventually lead to soldiers on the ground and my sense is that the US will not participate in that portion of this operation. Whether or not Gadhafi remains in power in Tripoli will be a function of European decision making (with US input).

Will the coalition bungle the operation or will they have the resolve necessary to remove the dictator? In my opinion, leaving him in office, in power, is far more dangerous to the Europeans primarily at this point than forcing regime change.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Earthquake and Volcano Nexus?

Will earthquakes trigger a massive Yellowstone (Wyoming, US) volcano?

Most earthquakes around the pacific tectonic plate are associated with plate boundary motion, either slip motion (as in So Cal, where the Pacific plate is heading north relative to the North American plate) or subduction (one plate diving below another), which creates earthquakes and volcanoes in places like Japan and Chile. 

Yellowstone is unconnected with any of this. Yellowstone National Park is the site where huge caldera eruptions happened 2.05 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago. These eruptions were 2,500, 280 and 1,000 times bigger, respectively, than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The eruptions covered as much as half the continental United States with inches to feet of volcanic ash. The Yellowstone caldera, 40 miles by 25 miles, is the remnant of that last giant eruption.

Yellowstone appears to be the current surface intercept of a deep-seated mantle plume. (LINK) Researchers discuss recent seismic imaging that has the plume at over 400 miles deep - for reference, a crustal plate is about 40km deep - at a maximum under the Himalayas its about 70km deep - so the plume at Yellowstone is not a crustal plate feature - it's at least 10 times deeper. The suggestion is that Yellowstone represents the dormancy of the same plume that caused the flood basalts of the columbia plateau in Washington. The plume has remained stationary as the North American plate moved over it. This is the same reason you have the Hawaii-Emperor chain of islands off to the west of the plume that is currently active on the big island (plume still, plate moving). Bottom line to all of this: Yellowstone plume / caldera volcano and plate boundary earthquakes: completely unrelated and extraordinarily unlikely to trigger each other.

The Yellowstone caldera, like other calderas on Earth, huffs upward and puffs downward repeatedly over the ages, usually without erupting. Since 2004, the caldera floor has risen 3 inches per year, suggesting recharge of the magma body beneath it.

For more background (LINK).

(h/t Mark Richardson)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Shores of Tripoli

The French Government has assumed principal responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. (DETAILS from Yahoo) and shot down at least one Libyan Air Force jet over the city of Benghazi, where Gadhafi's loyalist troops are bombing and strafing rebels (apparently with an unholy glee). Gadhafi has tried to take an advantage of a time lag between the imposition of a UN Resolution and the imposition of a no-fly zone to bomb his own city of Benghazi 'back to the stone age'.

The international outrage over Gadhafi's conduct includes Italy where Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa has offered seven naval and air bases for NATO forces engaged in the effort against Libya. He said that the Italian government is prepared to offer, "moderate but determined military support".

The US portion of the effort to protect the rebels from slaughter appears to be mid-air refueling, cruise missile strikes (from surface vessels and submarines) on Libyan airfields, coastal and air defenses and Libyan Air Force infrastructure. The US will also control the littoral portion of Libya to prevent the Libyan navy from attacking Benghazi from the sea. For a comprehensive list of reports from Reuters (CLICK HERE)

For a video of a Libyan fighter being shot down by a French aircraft - (CLICK HERE).

Libyan dictator, Moamar Gadhafi blames "Western powers" for the revolt that has shaken his nation, but the Arab League has called on NATO and "The West" to prevent the slaughter of innocent Libyans at the hands of the 'unstable' Gadhafi.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan - humanitarian relief update

The environment in the disaster zone in Japan is hampering relief efforts as a winter storm smacked into the impacted area with high winds and snow. 

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.     – 1 Kings 19:11-12

The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is conducting relief operations off the East coast of Japan. Assuming the aircraft carrier is supporting operations points north of Sendai, the aircraft carrier is a minimum of 50 miles (and likely more) away from the Fukushima nuclear plant suffering from radiation problems. As if debris in the water and winds with nuclear radiation didn't add enough hazards to the relief operations from sea, a winter storm added visibility problems and impacted flight operations yesterday. Specifically, the USS Ronald Reagan was unable to fly any sorties yesterday due to visibility problems, although other ships in the Strike Group were able to conduct relief operations.

The US disaster relief efforts are being focused on Sendai airport and sea port (now closed), which must be reopened so it can serve as a hub for the international relief effort. The Amphibious Ready Group grouped around the USS Essex is dedicated to that project.

Other US Naval vessels are transporting Japanese Self-Defense Forces and their vehicles, supplies and other equipment along the coast and into the impacted area. 

The US military is pulling out the stops to support the Japanese recovery efforts in every way possible. Japan is home to many US military service personnel and their families. In a very real way, the US service relief effort is directed toward their home since they live there and their children go to school there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Israeli Naval Action

Iranian corvette, Kharg


Israeli Navy Seizes Suspected Arms Vessel

March 15, 2011 - 6:57 AM | by: Yonat Friling
The Israeli navy intercepted the Liberian flagged ship 200 nautical miles from Israeli coast. Israeli Army Spokesman said that the “Victoria” originated from the Lattakia port in Syria and sailed to Mersin, Turkey. It was seized while on its way from Turkey destined for the El-Arish port in Egypt.

Israeli Navy commando unit took control of the ship early Tuesday morning, without a struggle, when it was around 200 nautical miles off Israel’s coast and towed it to the port in Ashdod. According to the IDF Spokesman Unit, the ship was carrying “tons” of concealed weapons that are allegedly destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Security source told Fox News that the ship was monitored and tracked for the past few days, and while the time was right, on Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized the operation.

A joint statement from the IDF and Israeli Foreign Ministry said that German officials have been alerted of the ship’s seizure, as the ship belonged to a German company. Liberian officials have also been alerted due to the Liberian flag on the ship. The operating company of the ship was from France, and thus French officials were also made aware of the situation.

This is not the first time that Israel has seized a ship carrying concealed weapons. The most famous incident was in 2003, when the Israeli military seized the Karine A, a vessel with 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Read more:

COMMENTARY:  Is it coincidence that several weeks ago the Iranian Navy docked two ships in Lattakia, and today the Israeli Navy seized a ship from Lattakia full of arms heading for Hamas? You be the judge. Pravda Reports that the Kharg and the Alvand were the first Iranian ships to pass through the Suez Canal and into the Med since 1979. The Russian news agency commented, "Their passage into the eastern Mediterranean comes as the Arab world grapples with a vast wave of protests that is radically changing the political landscape, and leaving Israel increasingly concerned about its security."

I haven't heard of any outrage coming from the White House over this - and I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, March 14, 2011

US Debt - Tsunami Perspective.

Reuters - Japan's reconstruction bill from the damage caused by the 9.0 earthquake is pegged at $180 billion. 

While that may sound like a lot of money, the Obama Administration spent $800 billion on a "stimulus bill" that did absolutely nothing. So perhaps we need to keep everything in perspective. The Obama Administration saddled the American people with $3 trillion in debt over the last two years and succeeded in driving up unemployment in the process. (Yes, it's tough to do, but he did it. Is that why he received the Nobel Prize?)

We could have decided not to spend the $800 billion in stimulus, rebuilt Japan, and we would have been roughly $600 billion ahead. It's food for thought in light of the present tragic disaster in Japan and the present financial disaster in Washington DC - which is a tsunami by metaphor.

Senator Marco Rubio recently said, "I will no longer support short-term budget plans. While attempts at new spending reductions are commendable, we simply can no longer afford to nickel-and-dime our way out of the dangerous debt America has amassed,” ( Rubio is one of very few who take this sort of stand in the face of the economic tsunami facing the United States. Most politicians prefer to "hope the problem will go away" and the President blames George W. Bush with the usual fervor - while waiting for former President George W. Bush to fix things in his 'political theater of the absurd'.

As we look at our friends in Japan, suffering with this horrible crisis, we need to consider that we have been handed a crisis (also of Biblical proportions) at home, and that very few politicians care one whit about it. Clucking your tongue and blaming somebody else, is not solving the problem. Promising to cut $6 or $60 billion in spending when you consider the debt we're groaning under is -- almost goofy. Yes, better $60 billion than nothing, but Obama spent $3 trillion over the past two years and we have nothing to show for it. I think we could grade the Andes mountains, fill the Amazon basin and pave it for $3 trillion. If we did that, we could point to our national treasure and say we did something with the money.

To US Legislators: You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the conquences of avoiding reality (Ayn Rand)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another Rule 5 Warning

Rule 5 on Virtual Mirage takes a cautionary note today.

Middle-aged women should consider abstaining from alcoholic beverages.

And middle-aged men need to drink responsibly:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Humanitarian Rescue Efforts in Japan

The United States Navy has established a 'Sea Base' off the coast of the Miyagi Prefecture to assist Japanese authorities with providing at-sea search and rescue and recovery operations in support of the Japanese Self Defense Forces. Japan is leading their own recovery effort, but the US is providing support in this time of crisis following the 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that inundated the Japanese coast. Roughly 90,000 people are missing, many feared dead. Over 200,000 Japanese civilians have been relocated to disaster recovery sites where they will have food, water and shelter. Many of these people have lost everything they owned.

The initial US contribution to this sea base will be centered around the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The USS Ronald Reagan will serve as a helicopter support base offshore for both US Navy and Japanese SDF helicopters. As is usually the case, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier is poised to be the most versatile and flexible capability in responding to the needs following an international catastrophe. The Ronald Reagan will be supported by the USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), and USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10).

A number of US Navy ships will be following this initial force including the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).

Japan has dispatched 50,000 troops to the region including over 190 aircraft so far. Japan has asked for the US military to transport 900 troops and 250 vehicles as part of the relocation of thousands of Japanese SDF troops from various regions of the country. News reports also indicate a large (but unknown number) of Marine Corps helicopters are being shifted from Okinawa to bases north in Japan to support operations. The anticipated role of the US Marine Corps helicopters will be to ferry supplies and logistics to the stricken area.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bloody Mexico - Are Drug Lords Terrorists?

Every single day the drug wars continue throughout Mexico. It has moved north into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, and the US Government pays lip service to the problem. If they were from the Middle East, there would be a military solution. Because they aren't, and have the potential to be Democratic Party voters, the Obama Administration pretends to take action.

Everyone who lives down on the Border has a story based on real experience.

It's time to bring order to the border and to keep the blood and horror that is part of everyday life in Mexico on the other side of the line.

BUT it won't be coming from the Obama Administration.

Obama's Teleprompter is loose with the truth again

I'm glad that some of you watch Obama news conferences because I simply can't. I'm sure he'd say that his teleprompter lied to the American people, and since he's only the 'spokesman' for the real decision makers, he can't be held accountable for his lies.

The surprising thing about recent speeches is that there's not even a shallow attempt to provide a truthful statement. It's a 'goofy' spin and then he moves on. The US has more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil. In 2008 the US Geological Survey announced that the Arctic holds about 90 BILLION barrels of Oil, more than Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Mexico combined. We don't exploit it. The US has considerable oil reserves but we don't authorize companies to drill for it. We prefer to rely on foreign oil with its shady and often unreliable governments, many of whom hate us almost more than the money they earn from us.

A 2009 study by the non partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS)  shows that the U.S. supply of recoverable oil is 167 billion barrels, the equivalent of replacing America's current imports from OPEC countries for more than 75 years. And that's just the oil, when you include gas and coal, the U.S. has energy reserves the equivalent of 1.3 trillion barrels. I wonder WHY the president of the United States chose not to cite our rich petroleum resources?

The bottom line is that you can't believe a word he says. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bloody Mexico - Mayo's Drug Tunnels

Ismael Zambada García (born January 1, 1948), also known as El Mayo Zambada, is a Mexican drug lord and one of the two Sinaloa cartel leaders, who are responsible for trafficking the majority of the cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine across theU.S.-Mexican border.

Mayo has suffered setbacks within the last month as one-after-another of his tunnels linking Mexico and the US in the Mexicali area have been discovered by US Officials. This is but one example (LINK). I've heard that this hit El Mayo's organization particularly hard because those tunnels had provided him with safe and secure means to move his narcotics into the United States from Mexico. Now, he's forced to look to trafficking routes in the greater Tijuana area. In that turf he has some competition from the Arellano Felix Organization and it's simply a lot riskier than it was pushing load after load through the tunnels.

The tunnels, constructed at considerable expense fell like dominoes because of informers and the disaffected competition. So Mayo is scrambling and I'm sure he's executing anyone who he suspects of betraying him. That's how it works in Bloody Mexico.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carnival in Trinidad

Every year there are carnival celebrations around the globe as spring arrives. In New Orleans, it's Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday. Last week I (sadly) missed the carnival in Trinidad because I was in St. Lucia when the celebration kicked off.  Talk about really bad timing on my part. Some St. Lucians, headed for Trinidad, are pictured in the photo (left) wearing St. Lucia's national colors on their outfits.

Carnival is an excuse to play music loud, to dance and to strut your stuff. There are usually substances available as well. 

In the US there is also the Burning Man in Nevada every year which boasts the same sort of vibe as Mardi Gras in New Orleans. However they try, I don't think that the Americans who flee to the heat of a dry lake in Nevada will be able to top the languid, humid air of the Caribbean spring in Trinidad.

The St. Lucian (teams) should account themselves and their island well and all those hours of the gym will have paid off with another successful three day strut!

I asked friends in St. Lucia why they planned to go to Trinidad instead of the larger and even more unrestrained Rio Carnival. They cited the language barrier and the inability to speak Brazilian Portuguese as the defining reason.

Carnival is now over, and the feathered costumes will have to be put on the shelf for another year. (The costumes cost about US$600 each and some of the more popular regae and steel drum bands can have as many as a thousand dancers, each in similar costumes following the band and dancing)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Office of Bilateral Implementation - Mexico

In BLOODY MEXICO: A Novel of Cartel Wars, the Office of Bilateral Implementation in Mexico city received mention more than once because characters in the story interacted there. There has been a lot of talk in Mexico and in the US, suggesting that it is a 'nest of spies' or that its presence represents a significant increase in US clandestine interest in Mexico. 

Established by the Merida Initiative, OBI/BIO (depending on your pleasure the acronym still means the same thing) provides a fusion center for US and Mexican relations in their ongoing efforts to stem the flow of illegal narcotics products through Mexico and into the United States. It's not a spy agency.

The office assists the Mexican government through funding equipment purchases and in other technical measures used to combat the narcotics cartels.

The predatory and violent drug cartels continue their reign of terror in Mexico and it only makes sense that the US would take appropriate efforts to support their allies to the extent they are able and to the extent that the Republic of Mexico requests it. In the photo (right) three people hang from a freeway overpass in Ciudad de Tampico, Tamalupas.

It's not at all uncommon to stumble across hanging corpses at overpasses, though the Mexican Army and Marines (Naval Infantry) work diligently to cut them down when and where they are found.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What do Wisconsin VOTERS want?

The public employee unions have been strident to the point of shrillness in their demands to keep their (the union's) political lives going. The truth may be that the teachers and others will get a better deal in the long run without the unions bleeding their members and the state white, but we can't really argue that because nobody can predict the future.

A Rassmussen Report (LINK) out suggests that the voters favor spending cuts to tax hikes. Ultimately this is where the power rests. You can read the results for yourself, but in summary, households earning under $60K/year favored only spending cuts and those earning over $75K/year favored a blend of spending cuts and tax increases.

Where does this leave the teachers (representing the most vocal portion of the union represented public employees)? I FAVOR better pay and more accountability for teachers as a general rule. That's my bias. I believe that making the public sector more professional, making those jobs attractive to the best and brightest, etc. is a GOOD THING. It makes the country stronger and makes the system work better.

But what happens when the government can't pay its bills during a recession (in some parts of America) or depression (in other parts)? There are a lot of companies that have gone out of business and there are a lot of people and companies who are close to the edge. The Wisconsin voters can accept higher taxes to insure that teachers get 'free' benefits and a princely wage - or they can decide that some compromise is in order.

Ultimately it's up to them.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aren't adolescents cute?

I have raised children through adolescence. And once you've done that, you have a better understanding of the situation with the Teachers in Wisconsin. Adolescents hold adult notions of consumption: they understand the comfort of a pricey car; they appreciate the status conveyed by a particular sort of handbag or sunglasses; they sense how outward consumption and refined tastes can translate into popularity and envy; and they appreciate how a slogan or world view can win acceptance among peers without worry over its validity. But they have no adult sense of acquisition, themselves not paying taxes, balancing the family budget, or worrying about household insurance, maintenance, or debt. Theirs is a world view of today or tomorrow, not of next year —or even of next week.

Adolescents throw fits when denied a hip sweater or a trip to Disneyland, concluding that it is somehow “unfair” or “mean,” without concern about the funds available to grant their agendas. We see that adolescent mindset in Wisconsin. “They” surely can come up with the money from someone (“the rich”) somehow to pay teachers and public servants what they deserve. And what they deserve is determined not by comparable rates in private enterprise, or by market value. For instance, if the DMV clerk loses a job, does another public bureau or private company inevitably seize the opportunity to hire such a valuable worker at comparable or improved wages?

The childlike, irresponsible attitude of today's adolescents is a reflection of our attempts as parents to shield them from the real world; to give them a better life than we ourselves may have had; to limit the hardships and even the pain we might have experienced when we were their age. They are clueless about the real world because we have protected their childlike innocence. Parents who have raised children will join me in raising their hands, red faced, and will plead guilty to the charge. 

The adolescent-adults of the Obama Democrat variety have little incentive to grow up, since they believe that "the rich" will always be there to rescue them from their own poor judgement and self-destructive behavior. All they have to do is tax those "rich" people more and more and more; and then they can overspend, overindulge, and party like there's no tomorrow-- or like it's 1999. 

Whenever the taxpayer loudly complains and says, "ENOUGH!", they become sullen and ungrateful, muttering darkly about how they're doing it "for the children" (which, when you think about it, they are since they ARE the children in this picture); or bringing up the old reliable Marxist class warfare scenario to justify their adolescent rantings. 

(h/t Wisconsin Teachers for providing this classic example of puerile behavior)