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Thought for the Day

July 29th, 2015 - 4:04 pm

Herded Out of the Tribe

July 29th, 2015 - 1:32 pm

Thanks to Insty, you might have already caught Josh Blackman’s writeup of Laurence Tribe’s early Obama Administration agonies. Blackman called the sad story “a fascinating insight into how administration politics work,” and that’s certainly true enough.

But for me the real story is hidden in this one little detail:

Tribe envisioned himself as some sort of Rule-of-Law Czar to handle Guantanamo and other big issues.

Tribe was offered assurances of a high-level job. In 2009, he wrote a private letter to Obama suggesting a “newly created DOJ position dealing with the rule of law.” He seemed like an ideal candidate to sort out dilemmas like Guantánamo. “I thought that for me to be giving broader advice on constitutional issues would make sense,” Tribe says.

This position ostensibly would have been outside the normal DOJ hierarchy–Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, etc. The “czar” position would have hovered over a lot of turfs–among both political appointees and civil servants. He would have had direct access to the President himself. [Emphasis added]

It should take your breath away to realize that even a good liberal like Tribe thinks our Department of Justice needs an in-house official to school it on the rule of law.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 29th, 2015 - 12:28 pm

Here comes that bend in the cost curve — up, way up:

Growth in national health spending, which had dropped to historic lows in recent years, has snapped back and is set to continue at a faster pace over the next decade, federal actuaries said Tuesday.

The return to bigger growth is a result of expanded insurance coverage under the 2010 health law, a revived economy and crunchtime as Medicare’s baby-boom beneficiaries enter their 70s.

American spending on all health care grew 5.5% in 2014 from the previous year and will grow 5.3% this year, according to a report from actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published in the journal Health Affairs. In the years through 2024, spending growth is expected to average 5.8%, peaking at 6.3% in 2020.

That Means It’s Working™

Mullah Omar Dead?

July 29th, 2015 - 11:25 am

Maybe, but the real kicker is in the last line:

His death, if confirmed, raises questions about who will lead the movement that allied with al Qaeda, fought a war with the U.S. and is now divided over whether to pursue an elusive peace deal with Afghanistan’s new government.

A Taliban spokesman wasn’t immediately reachable for comment on Wednesday, and it remains unclear when and how Mullah Omar apparently died. Voice of America reported that a Taliban spokesman had denied his death.

According to Afghan officials and people close to the Taliban, he has been dead for at least two years.

Oh.

Full Impulse Power, Mr Sulu

July 29th, 2015 - 10:36 am
Assume standard orbit. (Still courtesy Paramount Television)

Assume standard orbit.
(Still courtesy Paramount Television)

How about a new form of microwave propulsion which could get us to Mars in 70 days, which breaks the laws of physics as we know them, but works anyway?

It’s real:

As efficient as this type of propulsion may sound, it defies one of the fundamental concepts of physics – the conservation of momentum, which states that for something to be propelled forward, some kind of propellant needs to be pushed out in the opposite direction.

For that reason, the drive was widely laughed at and ignored when it was invented by English researcher Roger Shawyer in the early 2000s. But a few years later, a team of Chinese scientists decided to build their own version, and to everyone’s surprise, it actually worked. Then an American inventor did the same, and convinced NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories, headed up by Harold ‘Sonny’ White, to test it.

The real excitement began when those Eagleworks researchers admitted back in March that, despite more than a year of trying to poke holes in the EM Drive, it just kept on working – even inside a vacuum. This debunked some of their most common theories about what might be causing the anomaly.

Now Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at Dresden University of Technology in Germany, has played around with his own EM Drive, and has once again shown that it produces thrust – albeit for reasons he can’t explain.

Tajmar presented his results at the 2015 American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Propulsion and Energy Forum and Exposition in Florida on 27 July, and you can read his paper here. He has a long history of experimentally testing (and debunking) breakthrough propulsion systems, so his results are a pretty big deal for those looking for outside verification of the EM Drive.

To top it off, his system produced a similar amount of thrust as was originally predicted by Shawyer, which is several thousand times greater than a standard photon rocket.

A ten-week trip to Mars without the need for massive rocket engines changes everything.

Laser Beam Me

July 29th, 2015 - 9:37 am
Up next: Proton torpedos? (Shutterstock image)

Up next: Proton torpedos?
(Shutterstock image)

Coming soon to an AC-130 gunship near you — fricken laser beams.

That’s right:

The USAF has retained some of its spare AC-130U “Spooky” gunships to be used as flying testbeds for emerging laser technologies. According to Lt. Gen, Bradley Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, the idea is that in the not so distant future not only will the new and ever evolving AC-130J Ghostrider be able to cook a single individual in a crowd from on high, or be able to disable vehicles with a high-powered laser, but it will also be able to disperse crowds via a powerful, non-lethal, “active denial system.

Such a system would use rapid bursts of microwave energy over a specific area, which makes individuals feel as if their skin is on fire, while at the same time having no long-lasting effects, if used correctly at least. Active denial systems, often referred to as “pain rays,” have been in development for well over a decade, and have even been tested in prisons here in the U.S., but such an evolved active denial capability would give one of the most deadly flying machines ever invented a true “less than lethal” option.

Is it asking too much for a laser beam powerful enough to melt Nazis? Let’s hope not.

But it isn’t all good news:

Once proven on the AC-130, an airborne active denial system could be deployed to other fixed-wing platforms, and domestic applications are not out of the question.

Let’s stop giving military-grade weapons — especially fricken laser beams — to local cops.

I Am Locutus of Capitol Hill

July 29th, 2015 - 8:40 am

BREAKING: People Lie to Pollsters

July 29th, 2015 - 7:17 am
Hillary Clinton and Bicycles. Still life, 2015 (AP art)

Hillary Clinton and Bicycles.
Still life, 2015
(AP art)

Keep the headline in mind as you read this:

According to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday, 95 percent of registered voters believe it very or extremely important for the presidential candidate elected in 2016 to be honest and trustworthy.

The enthusiasm for this characteristic is consistent across demographics, and significant majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters–95 percent and 97 percent, respectively–agree honesty is an important characteristic for the incoming commander-in-chief.

Assuming she wins the nomination, about half of those respondents will vote for Hillary Clinton.

People lie to pollsters.

News You Can Use

July 29th, 2015 - 6:33 am
(Photo courtesy Ed Lambert.)

(Photo courtesy Ed Lambert.)

Florida Man comments on an EPA proposal to mandate increased usage of biofuels:

“What the hell is wrong with the EPA, we have more oil available than ever and higher food prices due to Ethanol and you want to add more of that Ethanol junk????????” the Florida man wrote to the agency in publicly filed comments.

“Fuck You!” the man wrote in comments, first reported by Politico.

Florida Man is having a good day for a change.

The Fruits of Victory

July 29th, 2015 - 5:20 am

Julie Kelly writes for National Review that the anti-GMO movement “was dealt a major blow last week” with passage of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which eliminates “the state-by-state labeling patchwork that would serve to confuse consumers, stigmatize GMO crops, and raise food costs.”

More:

Culinary crusaders boiled over. Opponents of the bill referred to it as the DARK Act, Denying Americans the Right to Know. Organic-industry leaders, who would hugely profit from the scarlet letters of a GMO label on non-organic products, lobbied heavily against the bill. “We are disappointed but not surprised that the majority of House members have sided with large chemical and food companies to protect corporate interests,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Organic and a major funder for various anti-GMO front groups. Celebrity chef and left-wing activist Tom Colicchio wrote that members of Congress were “actively trying to deny us the basic right to know what we are putting in our bodies.”

They also howled that Republicans were denying states’ rights, even though the bill will preempt a labeling law in only one state (Vermont, home to Democratic presidential candidate and ardent GM foe Bernie Sanders) while preventing a labyrinth of 50 different labeling requirements.

Did Congress overstep state powers with HR 1599? I’d argue that the law falls under Congress’ “weights and measures” clause. The market for food and produce is a national one, and has been for decades. Having a single measure for tomatoes grown in California and eaten in Vermont, and for ice cream made in Vermont and eaten in California, promotes trade amongst the several states and competition among producers. Or am I missing some state prerogative here?

As for Tom Colicchio, I respect the hell out of his cooking, but it’s obvious that he uses his celebrity status to use leftwing causes to appeal to his wealthier clientele.

Thought for the Day

July 28th, 2015 - 4:25 pm

You Can’t Spell Public Works Without Pee

July 28th, 2015 - 1:23 pm

In Soviet San Francisco, wall pees on you.

Genius.

Lying Liars Who Lie About the Weather

July 28th, 2015 - 12:15 pm
(Chart courtesy RealClimateScience.com)

(Chart courtesy RealClimateScience.com)

Good lord:

The measured US temperature data from USHCN shows that the US is on a long-term cooling trend. But the reported temperatures from NOAA show a strong warming trend.

They accomplish this through a spectacular hockey stick of data tampering, which corrupts the US temperature trend by almost two degrees.

The biggest component of this fraud is making up data. Almost half of all reported US temperature data is now fake. They fill in missing rural data with urban data to create the appearance of non-existent US warming.

That’s Tony Heller, writing for RealClimateScience.com.

The lies never stop, do they?

Bosch Fawstin Draws It Again

July 28th, 2015 - 11:43 am
'Nuff said.

‘Nuff said.

Details, if you really need them, from The Freedom Post.

Carly’s Up, Hill’s Down

July 28th, 2015 - 10:52 am
Nary a pants suit in sight. (AP photo)

Nary a pants suit in sight.
(AP photo)

First, the good news — Carly Fiorina might just win a spot at the first GOP debate:

The former Hewlett Packard CEO-turned-Republican candidate ranked seventh and eighth in the two most recent polls from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling and YouGov/Economist. She’s tied with other candidates in both but, if her current rise in the polls continues, Fiorina will make it into the top 10 — the metric Fox News is using to pare down the remarkably crowded Republican field. That means that at least seven candidates who are expected to run will be sitting out the party’s first debate.

Fox News will factor in the most recent five big national polls — and notably that wouldn’t include the above mentioned polls — when they decide on debate participants. If the cutoff was today, Fiorina wouldn’t make it on the stage: She scores second to last, according to NBC News’ calculation. However, the two new polls do signal rising momentum.

Fox should suspend their own rules and bring Fiorina in for a completely different reason: She’s electric. Nobody who watched her moribund 2010 Senate race would ever have predicted that, but Fiorina has come alive. She’s smart, tough, and most importantly, fast on the counterpunch. She’d liven up Fox’s debate stage and likely goose their ratings. Whatever you think of the politics of including Fiorina even if her poll numbers don’t rise high enough, it would make great business sense.

And now, for the even better news:

imrs-1.php

Phillip Bump explains:

Clinton’s favorability tends to swell when she’s not running for office and dip when she is. CNN, in partnership with ORC, released its own poll Sunday, which included a long-term track of Clinton’s favorability. If you look at it since 2006, when she was widely expected to be the 2008 Democratic nominee, to today, you can see that trend.

But notice, too, that her net favorability now is lower than at any point over the last 10 years. Why?

CNN also broke out Clinton’s favorability by demographic. She’s very, very popular among Democrats and very, very unpopular among Republicans. Among independents? Let’s say very unpopular — with only one “very” this time.

The net result is that Clinton will be forced to rely on minority voters to at least the degree Obama did, but lacking his ability to connect with and inspire them.

Popcorn, anyone?

News You Can Use

July 28th, 2015 - 9:40 am
(Still image courtesy Woodrocket.com)

(Still image courtesy Woodrocket.com)

In case you were wondering, of course there’s a seven-foot-tall Darth Vader made entirely out of sex toys by a 29-year-old tattooed porn star.

Venezuela Nationalizes Food Distribution

July 28th, 2015 - 8:31 am
Ukraine's Holodomor. (Public domain image)

Ukraine’s Holodomor.
(Public domain image)

No matter how many times the story of collectivization gets told, it always ends the same:

Farmers and manufacturers who produce milk, pasta, oil, rice, sugar and flour have been told to supply between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their products to the state stores. Shortages, rationing and queues outside supermarkets have become a way of life for Venezuelans, as their isolated country battles against rigid currency controls and a shortage of US dollars – making it difficult for Venezuelans to find imported goods.

Pablo Baraybar, president of the Venezuelan Food Industry Chamber, said that the order was illogical, and damaging to Venezuelan consumers.

“Taking products from the supermarkets and shops to hand them over to the state network doesn’t help in any way,” he said. “And problems like speculating will only get worse, because the foods will be concentrated precisely in the areas where the resellers go.

He pointed to statistics showing that two thirds of hoarders – or “bachaqueros”, giant ants, as they are nicknamed in Venezuela – buy their goods from the three state-owned chains, to resell at a profit.

“Consumers will be forced to spend more time in queues, given that the goods will be available in fewer stores.”

Nationalization is never for the benefit of its ostensible beneficiaries.

The link comes from Forbes’ Tim Worstall, who says that “Venezuela is now one harvest away from serious starvation.

Unexpectedly.

Defining Safety Down

July 28th, 2015 - 7:54 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

It looks like we’re all lovey-dovey with Ankara again – for now:

Turkey and the United States have agreed in general terms on a plan that envisions American warplanes, Syrian insurgents and Turkish forces working together to sweep Islamic State militants from a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border, American and Turkish officials say.

The plan would create what officials from both countries are calling an Islamic State-free zone controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents, which the Turks say could also be a “safe zone” for displaced Syrians.

Believe it or not, there once was an ISIS-free “safe zone” in Syria. It was called “Syria.” There used to be one in Iraq, too, known as “Iraq.” And one in Libya called “Libya.”

Of course, all those countries as we once understood them are gone now. ISIS has filled the military and moral vacuums left in the wake of American retreat and indecision. This is what the Obama Administration calls “not doing stupid shit.”

Still, it is nice to have Ankara back on our side, even if only out of desperation. We’ll see how long the Turks stick with us, and you’d be right to suspect that that will depend on whether the White House allows the Pentagon to implement a serious warplan.

You should also wonder about the wisdom of allowing Syrian insurgents in on establishing this safety zone. They seem more likely than not to be ISIS or terrorists by some other name — so it’s a safe bet they were included at Obama’s insistence.

There’s all kinds of pre-fail baked right into this plan.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 28th, 2015 - 6:43 am

“If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

-Ronald Wilson Reagan

What ♡bamaCare!!! takes with one hand, Washington promises to return with the other:

The Obama administration has made Memphis’ medical device manufacturers eligible for a federal program to train thousands of new employees, but, nationwide, the industry is laying people off because of a steep Obamacare tax.

One might wonder why the feds are spending perhaps as much as $1 billion — if you believe a press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis — for jobs that might not exist in the future.

Cohen’s press release also says the program, called the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative, might add 45,000 new jobs to the medical device manufacturing industry in Memphis and nine surrounding counties.

Whatever the result in this particular case, in general the important thing is that the money and the decision-making power flow through Washington first, last, and always.

Boomers or Bust

July 28th, 2015 - 5:33 am
USS Ohio. (AP photo)

USS Ohio.
(AP photo)

Our Ohio-class nuclear missile submarines are nearing the end of their service lives, and we still don’t have a replacement — or the money:

Ballistic missile submarines — nicknamed “boomers” — are the centerpiece of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. Moving stealthily undersea, they are considered the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad. By 2018, when the U.S. military adjusts to the terms of the New START treaty, submarines will carry about 70 percent of America’s deployed nuclear arsenal, according to Navy officials.

But the Ohio-class boats that carry the missiles will begin reaching the end of their service lives in 2027, with the final one scheduled to retire in 2040. The Navy hopes to start procuring the Ohio replacement in 2021, and ultimately buy 12 of them to replace the 14 Ohio-class ships.

But building a dozen SSBN(X)s will be enormously expensive. In a March report, the Government Accountability Office estimated the total cost of the Ohio replacement to be $96 billion. In December the Congressional Budget Office came up with an even higher estimate, putting the total price tag at $102 billion to $107 billion, depending on R&D expenditures.
The Navy is expected to spend about $10 billion over the next five years on development and advance procurement even before the first ship is built, according to the Pentagon’s future years defense program.

Navy officials have rejected suggestions that the service could build fewer than 12 Ohio replacements in order to save money.

$107 billion, spread out over a ten or 15 year construction program, is ten billion less than Washington spends every year on “Education, Training, Employment and Social Services.” You should also note that while the Constitution has zero to say about the federal government’s power to spend a dime on education or training or employment or social services, the Navy is explicitly authorized by Article I, Section 8.

It isn’t that we don’t have the money for new subs. We could even build them more cheaply than expected by sticking with the tried-and-true Virginia platform, and stretching it to accommodate a missile compartment. But we can’t scrape together the funds out of a nearly $4,000,000,000,000 to maintain our Navy, because Washington blows it all on a broken procurement system, middle-class welfare programs, and make-work for otherwise unemployable progressive functionaries who don’t care if the nation is defended so long as their nests are feathered.

Winning elections doesn’t seem to change anything, either — so now what?

Thought for the Day

July 27th, 2015 - 4:21 pm

John Kerry: Rube of State

July 27th, 2015 - 2:09 pm
Not a leg to stand on. (AP photo)

Not a leg to stand on.
(AP photo)

Pardon my English, but for fuck’s sake:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday vowing to defy American policies in the region despite a deal with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program was “very disturbing”.

“I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy,” he said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television, parts of which the network quoted on Tuesday.

“But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling,” he added.

In October of 1938, British PM Neville Chamberlain negotiated, he thought, in good faith with Adolph Hitler. Hitler got the Sudetenland, and Chamberlain got a promise from Hitler of no more territorial demands for Germany. Six months later, in March 1939, Hitler (along with Hungary) occupied and annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Chamberlain knew he’d been chumped, and acted accordingly. He gave Britain’s guarantee to Poland and sped up Britain’s rearmament program. Chamberlain even attempted to bring the Soviets in on the Franco-British anti-Nazi alliance. Chamberlain manned up the best he could and tried what he could to box Hitler in.

When Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia, what Chamberlain did not do was mumble, “I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy.”

And here’s the real kicker.

The Iranians have very publicly promised to continue their very public ass-raping of Obama and Kerry. And what will Obama and Kerry do? They will continue to push this shitty agreement through Congress, making fools of themselves and of us along the way. Oh, and then there’s the part where the public ass-raping is the cherry on top of the nuclear crap sandwich Israel is being forced to eat.

Hitler invaded Poland because he didn’t believe Chamberlain’s promise. I don’t care to think what Iran will try because Khamenei believes that Kerry enjoys the public ass-raping.

Austin Goes to War Against BBQ

July 27th, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Unbelievable, yet probably inevitable given Austin’s political climate:

“If this resolution passes, we would be forced to close or move. It would destroy Austin barbecue.” says Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin’s BBQ in Austin.

Austin, Texas has long been a destination for Americans of all stripes in their quest to find the best barbecue in the nation.

However, if the Austin City Council gets their way, food tourism may soon be a thing of the past.

Austin City Council members passed a preliminary plan in April to put restrictions on smoke from barbeque restaurants. Some Austin residents complain of the barbecue smoke saying they can’t enjoy their homes they purchased before some of these restaurants moved in.

The city council’s current proposal will require smoke diffusers and will also limit the amount of time that restaurants can smoke. These restrictions will require at least $100,000 in extra investments for most barbecue restaurants as they will be forced to buy extra smokers along with severely expensive diffusers, and in some cases will have to lease or purchase more property.

If this goes into effect, there won’t be a surviving mom & pop BBQ joint left inside the Austin city limits. There’s just no way they’d be able to afford the expense — especially given the effective limits on how much BBQ they can produce. Some operations might be able to relocate out past the city line, but then they’d lose most of the foot traffic they rely on to stay in business and win new customers.

Yo, Texas — still want to keep Austin weird?

News You Can Use

July 27th, 2015 - 12:12 pm

Florida Man uses his head:

The man, whose name is not known at this point, got off a Polk County bus at the Winter Haven Area Transit terminal around 11:35 a.m., but then decided he wanted to get back on and ride somewhere else. The man started to rage when the driver told him it’d be another $2 to continue riding.

The driver locks the bus and goes to the enclosed portion of the terminal. The passenger walks off for a bit, presumably to cool off, but then comes back and charges the bus door head-on hard enough to break the glass.

You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Digesting Crimea

July 27th, 2015 - 11:01 am
Russian navy battle ships station in the bay during a rehearsal of the Russian Navy Day parade in Sevastopol, Crimea, Friday, July 24, 2015. The Russian Navy Day is celebrated the last Sunday of July. (AP Photo/Alexander Polegenko)

Russian navy battle ships station in the bay during a rehearsal of the Russian Navy Day parade in Sevastopol, Crimea, Friday, July 24, 2015. The Russian Navy Day is celebrated the last Sunday of July. (AP Photo/Alexander Polegenko)

It isn’t all caviar and vodka for Russia’s newest province:

Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, has opened criminal investigations of three high-ranking Crimean government officials, accusing them of graft and other misdeeds. Four regional cabinet ministers have been forced from office in the past few months over allegations of corruption. And Kremlin auditors reported in June that two-thirds of the money Moscow sent Crimea last year for road building couldn’t be accounted for.

Crimean Governor Sergey Aksyonov, elected in April 2014 with Putin’s blessing, has reacted angrily to the allegations. Addressing Crimean cabinet ministers on July 7, he accused Moscow of trying to “destabilize” Crimea and using “fabricated” evidence against those under investigation, who include the region’s industrial policy minister, its chief tax inspector, and the director of the port of Yalta. “No one will make victims of our officials,” Aksyonov said.

The real friction? Dividing the loot between the new local government and Putin and his cronies:

The FSB investigations probably reflect a struggle for control of “the main valves of corruption” in Crimea, says Andrew Foxall, director of the Russia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society in London. “This same kind of thing happens in every Russian region.” Moscow tolerates some corruption among regional leaders, Foxall says, but expects them to share the spoils with Kremlin-backed interests. Those who don’t may be subjected to criminal investigation and arrest.

So it’s just business as usual then.

MSNBC on the Brink

July 27th, 2015 - 9:40 am
Newsin' it old school. (AP photo)

Newsin’ it old school.
(AP photo)

Dylan Byers reports:

On Thursday, our colleague Mike Allen reported that “Meet The Press” moderator Chuck Todd would add a daily MSNBC program to his portfolio. He will be joined by Brian Williams, the former “Nightly News” anchor, who is joining the network as a breaking news and special reports anchor following his fall from grace at NBC. Meanwhile, MSNBC is expected to soon announce the cancellation of several progressive talk shows, including “The Ed Show,” the loss of which is already being mourned by Bernie Sanders.

The next iteration of MSNBC, which will kick off sometime in September, is actually a return to an original vision. Before MSNBC became the liberal stalwart it is today—before the success of Keith Olbermann’s scorched-earth admonitions of the Bush administration ushered in the current era of Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton—NBC News types envisioned the channel as a smarter, more politically focused CNN.

Had that vision panned out, there would have been far greater synergy between NBC and MSNBC. Instead, many NBC News types chafed at the channel’s unabashedly liberal political orientation. Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell carved out spaces for themselves on the network, but others—most notably Brian Williams—kept their distance.

On the NBC side, they prefer their liberalism slightly more discretely unabashed.

Snark aside, I don’t know where MSNBC fits in. Fox News has the Populist-Conservative side covered, CNN owns the shrinking audience of Everyone Else, and MSNBC had the even faster-shrinking audience of Shrieking Progressives.

So unless there’s a sizable fourth audience I’m missing, MSNBC can either take on Fox (which it really can’t) or take on CNN for a slice of CNN’s already unimpressive viewership.

Any ideas?

Moscow’s Mules

July 27th, 2015 - 8:49 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

David Axe reports on a series of mysterious Russian satellite launches, beginning on Christmas Day of 2013:

It’s customary for Rodnik sats to deploy in threes, but in a notification to the United Nations, Moscow listed four spacecraft inside the Christmas Rokot.

The discrepancy was strange…and got stranger.

Rodnik sats, like most orbital spacecraft, don’t have engines and can’t move under their own power. So it came as a shock to some observers on the ground—a group including amateur satellite-spotters with radios and telescopes; radar-equipped civilian researchers; and military officials monitoring banks of high-tech sensors—when the Rokot’s fourth satellite, designated Kosmos-2491, moved, propelling itself into a slightly different orbit.

Whatever Kosmos-2491 was, it wasn’t some innocuous communications satellite. And over the next year and a half, Russia launched two more of the mysterious, maneuvering spacecraft, each time sneaking it into orbit as part of a routine commsat launch.

I have readers in the aerospace and the satellite communications/launch businesses — any clue what Moscow could be getting up to up there?

Red on Red Warfare [UPDATED]

July 27th, 2015 - 7:39 am
Democrat. (AP photo)

Democrat.
(AP photo)

Why do Republicans hate the GOP? David Harsanyi knows:

It’s conceivable, and I’m just spitballing here, that many conservatives are wondering: If the Republican Party is incapable or unwilling to make a compelling case against the selling of baby organs or the emergence of a nuclear Iran or the funding of a cronyist state-run bank—or all three—then really, what exactly can it do?

Setting aside presidential politics for a moment, three issues have filled the conservative ether the past few weeks: The administration’s pact abetting Iran’s efforts to become a threshold nuclear power, Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting controversy, and, to a lesser extent, the renewal of the Export-Import bank. None of these are hobbyhorses of the wild fringe. These are issues—ostensibly, at least—that strike at the heart of the modern GOP. And on all three, Republican leadership have, though they held plenty of leverage to raise a stink, capitulated. In fact, they have probably put more effort into evading confrontation than their standard response of pretending to court it.

That last part is key.

Mitch McConnell didn’t put up the good fight and lose — he fought for, and got, wins for the other side. He got called on it by Ted Cruz and a few others, but the GOP leadership was largely silent, acquiescent. In fact, McConnell went further than that. He used the Senate rules last weekend to ensure that the Democrats would win on two grassroots issues, and that his own side wouldn’t even have the chance to be heard.

The only conclusion you can draw is that the GOP leadership believes in, or is at least amenable to major Democrat positions on abortion funding, foreign policy, and crony capitalists.

So what’s an opposition party for, if not to at the very least put up a pretense of opposition? Instead, you have an opposition party whose Senate leadership has been coopted by the other side.

The case for term limits has never been clearer.

MORE: Mark Levin (H/T Glenn) went to Facebook to call for self-term limits on McConnell and Boehner. Here’s what he said:

It is time for Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to resign for the good of the nation and the Republican Party. The nation and GOP are both suffering as a result of the unwillingness or inability of McConnell and Boehner to effectively defend either. Instead, these politicians are consumed with consolidating their own power on Capitol Hill and silencing opponents who dare to challenge their ironfisted rule. Sadly, they rarely act in the best interests of America’s future. Indeed, time and again they have delivered victory after victory for Obama and his radical agenda — from spending, borrowing, and Obamacare to illegal immigration, Iran and “trade” power. Never before has a Congress controlled by one party been so thoroughly impotent. This is due to the disastrous leadership of McConnell and Boehner. It is time for younger, wiser, and more courageous Republican leadership — constitutional conservatives who understand the role of a statesman in perilous times — who are willing to truly lead the nation and the Republican Party based on America’s enlightened principles, advance the cause of liberty and republican government, and make the case everyday to the American people.

It will never happen, of course. Boehner and McConnell are fully creatures of the system they were sent to Washington to fight against. They haven’t been coopted so much as they’ve been assimilated by the Borg collective.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 27th, 2015 - 6:32 am

Ayla Ellison and Molly Gamble look at the consolidation in the health insurance and health care industries, due in no small part to ♡bamaCare!!!:

1. In the U.S., the big five payers have traditionally been Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield — which includes 36 companies, the largest being Anthem — Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. Whether looking at revenue, market share or presence in a specific area such as Medicare Advantage, each of these insurers is a major to dominant force in the industry.

2. With Aetna acquiring Humana and a deal in the works for Anthem to takeover Cigna, the landscape drastically changes, and there will be three key payers instead of five.

3. While not yet a single-payer system, consolidation is causing the system to look more like a small oligarchy. It may actually lead some parties who hated the idea of Medicare as a single payer to desire this. It may also over time lead to the proliferation of new payers.

4. The consolidation is quite frightening for smaller providers of all sorts as it leaves them with fewer access points for patients. The leverage of providers with payers will take a significant hit. [Emphasis added]

A few big players are easier for Washington to corral than a multitude of little ones. They’re also the only organizations able to cope with ♡bamaCare!!!’s never-ending paperwork demands, exposing Obama’s “reduce waste and fraud” lie.

Who’s Next?

July 27th, 2015 - 5:15 am

The Saudis, natch:

Jamal Khashoggi, head of the Saudi Al Arab news channel that is owned by a prince of the ruling Saudi royal family, and who previously was the media aide to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Prince Turki al Faisal, revealed that Saudi Arabia may be going nuclear very soon.

“I think Saudi Arabia would seriously try to get the (nuclear) bomb if Iran did. It’s just like India and Pakistan. The Pakistanis said for years they didn’t want one, but when India got it, so did they,” Khashoggi told Reuters on Tuesday.

The statement confirms the warnings by experts, who said that the Saudis will likely rush to obtain a nuclear weapon feeling threatened by the Iran nuclear deal, which critics warn will pave the Islamic regime’s path to a nuclear arsenal.

This comes via Jeff Dunetz who adds:

Defense News reported an end of June deal with France. The deal includes a study into the feasibility of building two nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia and a course in nuclear safety.

The study for two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) — which France considers the safest and most advanced in the world — takes on added significance given the current efforts by Saudi Arabia’s rival, Iran, to develop its own nuclear capabilities.

In addition to the study, France will sign an agreement to train the Saudis on nuclear safety and the treatment of nuclear waste.

Also at the end of June Russia and Saudi Arabia announced an agreement for cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for producing electricity and the construction of two more nuclear reactors. And in March Saudi Arabia and Argentina announced a joint venture with a goal to leverage Argentina’s nuclear experience and capabilities to help the Saudis implement its own nuclear power program.

Perhaps of less immediate interest than Riyadh perusing nukes is where Riyadh is looking to for help — and it ain’t to the US.

We aren’t trusted. We aren’t respected. We aren’t even feared.