Friday, April 15, 2011

The DEA, Charlie Sheen, and Caged Animals

Last week, WaPo ran a story about how the murderous drug cartels in Mexico are now targeting children. As I've noted before, the cartels there are particularly brutal--decapitations, genital mutilation, and mass graves have become standard operating procedure--so that they've moved on to killing children cannot really be all that surprising:

A Chihuahua state police commander was attacked as she carried her 5-year-old daughter to school two weeks ago. Both died of multiple gunshot wounds.
In February, assassins went hunting for a Ciudad Juarez man, but the intended target wasn’t home, so they killed his three daughters instead, ages 12, 14 and 15
In March, a young woman was bound and gagged, shot and left in a car in Acapulco. Her 4-year-old daughter lay slumped beside her, killed with a single bullet to her chest. She was the fifth child killed in drug violence in the resort city in one bloody week.
 Awful, but not surprising.

What was surprising, to me anyway, was the DEA chief's reaction in the story:
“It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs,” said Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The cartels “are like caged animals, attacking one another,” she added. (emphasis added)
Tens of thousands of drug war murders in the last four years alone is "success" in a Charlie Sheen sort of way: epic denial of cocaine-fueled violence and humiliating failure, egged-on and financed by self-important sadists who watch from afar.

DEA: Duh, winning.

As for the rhetoric, the cartels aren't caged animals--they are businessmen (and women) who are afforded no property rights. They are rich--Forbes list rich--because drug prohibition makes easily grown plants expensive. Yes, it takes a cold, sociopathic brutality to commit such heinous acts, but history is replete with people of all walks of life committing acts of unspeakable butchery. The animal comparison is unfair to the Mexican people because it depicts them as something different from us--something beneath us--so the horror of their daily lives can be so crassly characterized by the American government as "success."

It makes one wonder who the real "animals" are.

bellum medicamenti delenda est.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Obama's "Plan" and All Its Hollow Glory

Since the NYT put up its paywall, I've been avoiding the site pretty steadily. But someone tweeted this handy little chart explaining the differences in the President's anti-Paul Ryan budget plan.(click to enlarge)

I'll leave it to the Left to demolish Ryan's plan, as they have already on so many occasions. Let's look at this new plan that so many were defending on Twitter today.

Medicare: "The proposal seeks to reduce the growth in Medicare spending, including lowering prescription drug spending "by leveraging Medicare’s purchasing power.""

Translation: 'Leveraging Medicare's purchasing power' is a nice way to say "extortion." When you have a virtual monopoly on medical care for the elderly--a class dependent on drugs--the monopolistic power of Medicare is a blunt tool with which to extort favorable prices from drug companies. These "savings," of course, will be paid for by younger folks who see their over the counter or chronic ailment medicine increase in price to make up for the lost revenue. We have antitrust laws, in theory, to protect consumers from monopolistic practices and price fixing. Of course, when the government does it, it's just fine. In fairness, this "negotiating" with drug companies isn't anything new, it's just going to be accelerated and amplified because of Bush's Prescription Drug Benefit.

Medicaid: "President Obama has asked governors to recommend ways to make the program more efficient. Medicaid spending would be cut $100 billion over the next decade."

Translation: I hope to cut $100 billion, but will let the governor's do the dirty work because I want to shirk responsibility if things go wrong but will happily take credit if all goes well. (cf. "Clinton's" twice-vetoed Welfare Reform of 1994)

Social Security: "Mr. Obama said that, while Social Security is not a cause of near-term budget problems, "both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security.""

Translation: PUNT!

Military: "Military spending would be cut $400 billion over the next 12 years."

Translation: Kinetic Military Actions not pursued = SAVINGS!*

Discretionary Spending: "Mr. Obama proposed cutting $600 billion over 10 years, including $400 billion identified in his 2012 budget proposal."

Translation: I'll make symbolic cuts to maintain the entitlement programs that are actually bankrupting us.

Taxes: "Mr. Obama endorsed the Fiscal Commission's recommendation to eliminate tax breaks to both lower tax rates and reduce the deficit. He called for allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for top earners and limiting itemized deductions for them."

Translation: We've shown we can't spend your money responsibly, so we're going to need more of it. Also, the rest of my budget commission bummed me out, so we're just gonna table the rest of that noise.

Again, Ryan's plan has its own shortcomings, but I don't know how much of the 'Twitter base' it rallied on the Right. But to believe this "plan" is anything but obfuscatory rhetoric is just delusional.

*If he's serious about making Defense cuts, great. But he's shown nothing to indicate that he is, indeed there is much more evidence to the contrary, so I won't treat it like it is.