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Belmont Club

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Can’t Buy Me Love

February 28th, 2011 - 1:01 am

Lost amid the crisis shaking the region was an Egyptian Army operation against Coptic Monastery in Egypt after Mubarak had fled. The news was reported on Al Masry al Youm — not exactly daily reading inside the Beltway — and featured on a YouTube video, which you may view after the Read More. Interestingly, the Al Masry al Youm says that the Copts gathered in Tahrir Square to protest the use of armor against the monastery.

Around 2000 Copts gathered on Wednesday in Tahrir Square to protest reports that an Egyptian army unit had attacked the Monastery of Saint Pishoy in the Nitrian Desert earlier on Wednesday.

Protesters said that a military unit using armored vehicles had demolished newly-built fences surrounding the old Coptic monastery. They claimed that the soldiers fired live bullets at monks. They added that two had been injured and transferred to the Anglo-American hospital in Cairo.

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If you’ll just pay

February 27th, 2011 - 1:24 pm

Tigerhawk has a chart which summarizes the deficit problem at a glance.  One the left hand side is where the government gets its money. On the right is how much it spends and how it spends it. The two things to notice are the relatives sizes of income and expenditure. Expenditure dwarfs income. The second is the distribution of where the money is spent. It is entitlements.  Unless something changes, government will have become a mechanism whereby money is transferred from one set of people to the other.

The key issue in Wisconsin is whether the very people who work in government have the “right” to insist that taxpayers deal with them and only them. Maybe the word isn’t “collective bargaining” but manos arriba.

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All over this land

February 27th, 2011 - 2:13 am

The all-out effort to force Wisconsin to back down on public sector unions will eventually fail because there isn’t enough money to pay for a leftist victory. The Washington Post conveyed the stark message of  National Governor’s Association: the states are broke.  Between the budget cuts Congress is proposing and demands by the public sector unions, the state budgets are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Don’t the unions know that? They probably do. What the unions are probably aiming for is something more subtle:  control over the process of any reductions to their entitlements so that they still stay in charge.

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The Root of All Evil

February 26th, 2011 - 10:12 am

It was not a day, but a week of rage. Protests rocked Kurdistan, as clashes broke out between demonstrators and security forces in Sulaymaniyah over the issue of corruption.  In Baghdad, similar clashes were reported as demonstrators waved dinar bills challenging the authorities to “live on” these measly amounts. Twenty three people have been killed so far, even as Iraq’s biggest oil refinery was attacked and production halted.

Meanwhile, the political coalition in Yemen took a hit as a prominent tribal leader, considered the second most powerful man in the country, defected from President Saleh’s ruling party and called for his overthrow.  This came as tens of thousands oppositionists rallied in the streets. Bahrain swore in five new cabinet ministers for “housing, labor, health, cabinet affairs and electricity and water”, in an attempt to deflect unrest.  This came as thousands greeted the arrival of a senior Shi’ite cleric, opposition leader, Hassan Mushaima, as he arrived from the UK.  Efforts by the Saudi King to boost welfare payments in the Kingdom by $36 billion were indications it’s “greatest nightmare” had arrived.

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Obama’s almost-hostage crisis

February 25th, 2011 - 3:38 pm

The Pakistani Government announced that it would put Raymond Davis, who the US says has diplomatic immunity, on trial for shooting two men that were attacking him.

Davis, who says he acted in self-defence when he shot the men on a busy street last month, has been charged with double murder and faces possible execution.

The case has triggered a major diplomatic row between America and Pakistan after Washington insisted he had diplomatic immunity and must be repatriated.

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Farce and Tragedy

February 25th, 2011 - 1:21 pm

Maybe the feared government spending cuts have started already. US citizens arriving on a ferry from Libya may have been stuck in Tripoli because the State Department chartered too small a ship to safely put to sea. At 68 meters in length, the US-charted Dolores is less than half of the length of a Burke Class destroyer (154 meters) and a Russian tycoon’s private yacht (164 m).

President Obama has been under intense criticism for his muted response to the bloodshed in Libya, with speculation that Colonel Gaddafi had intimidated the White House into silence by blocking the evacuation of U.S. citizens.

And last night, while the Dolores remained stranded, the president enjoyed a White House pop concert in celebration of Black History month.

Tony Munoz Editor of shipping magazine The Maritime Executive said: ‘I don’t understand why this vessel didn’t leave earlier – The Maria Dolores is a new vessel built for Mediterranean seas.

‘I can only imagine the captain was refusing to sail because he felt the vessel was not capable enough of taking the sea on.

Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Munoz said that there was no comparison between the 68 metre Dolores and the 204 metre Hellenic Spirit, used by the Greek government to evacuate its citizens from Benghazi.

‘The U.S. needed to charter a bigger boat like the Greeks’ he said.

The administration may have taken a low profile out of concern for a potential hostage taking situation, but now with the official Americans safe in Malta they are now swinging into action. They are considering sanctions.

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Where are the carriers?

February 25th, 2011 - 1:29 am

In a previous thread, Belmont Club Commenters, thinking on the crisis in Libya and the possible need to cover an evacuation there asked, “where are the carriers”?

103. Cowboy — Here’s where they are:

CVN Enterprise: North Arabian Sea
CVN Vinson: North Arabian Sea
CVN Lincoln: Singapore
CVN Washington: Japan
CVN Stennis: San Diego
CVN Truman: Norfolk
CVN Reagan: Eastern Pacific
CVN Bush: Western Atlantic

No carrier group in the Med. … 105. Blast From the Past — Cowboy, That means that 3, the Nimitz, Roosevelt and Eisenhower, are in overhaul and can’t get underway. Another 4, the Stennis, Truman, Reagan and Bush are either undergoing training and preparing to deploy or are recently returned and awaiting an overhaul.

And now ten retired British senior officers have asked, “where are the carriers?” According to the BBC the officers criticized the British government for not having an aircraft carrier to cover a possible operation, to which a defense spokesman replied, ‘why should we when the Americans are not?’ The British can’t field a carrier because they have nothing to field. On the other hand, the USN has no carrier in the region because for some reason, they’ve decided not to field.
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Out of Money

February 24th, 2011 - 11:10 pm

In December of 2010 the NYT ran an article describing what happens when a government runs out of money to pay pensions that are required to be paid by law.

PRICHARD, Ala. — This struggling small city on the outskirts of Mobile was warned for years that if it did nothing, its pension fund would run out of money by 2009. Right on schedule, its fund ran dry.

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That Lonesome Road

February 24th, 2011 - 11:00 am

Wisconsin Democrats have agreed to participate in a vote on a bill restricting collective-bargaining rights for public employees. “Assembly Democrats agreed to offer only 38 more amendments, one for each member, and restrict debate on each to 10 minutes … That should allow a vote on the bill this afternoon.” Jennifer Rubin believes this will increase pressure of Wisconsin’s Democrat senators to come out of hiding.  “So senate Democrats are going to remain out of state while their assembly colleagues give way to the will of the majority?”

Walker may be winning by forcing the Democrats to re-engage using the oldest trick in the book: taking policy ground they can’t afford to surrender and forcing them to come out and fight for it. Rubin notes that “Republicans easily passed a bill repealing a requirement that law enforcement collect data on the race of all drivers they stop. Republican leaders also scheduled a vote for Thursday on a bill to require people to show photo ID to vote”.  In other words, Walker is coming after the race card and the non-id card, things that must on no account be allowed to happen.

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Bad and badder

February 22nd, 2011 - 7:39 pm

A senior Libyan has pleaded for U.S. intervention as Khadafi refuses to quit. “In Tobruk, Maj. Gen. Suleiman Mahmoud, who defected Sunday from his post as the commander of the local army garrison … urged the U.S. and other powers to support the uprising and not to allow their interests in Libya’s petroleum reserves, Africa’s largest, to keep them sidelined.” The UN Security Council demanded an “immediate end to the violence”; the Arab League suspended Libya and the EU — with Italy and Malta dissenting — called for sanctions, but only the maligned and despised United States has the capability to intervene.

U.S. intervention. Can it? Should it?  The answer to the first is yes and the answer to the second is: why? Simon Henderson and David Schenker, writing at ABC News, suggest a “no-fly zone” to ground the Libyan air force but predict that when the smoke clears, the Islamists are likely to emerge at the top of the heap:

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