Meet the Press — Please

April 28th, 2015 - 1:40 pm

Zach Cohen performed yeoman’s work, collecting and collating every single question Hillary Clinton has taken from the press since launching her “campaign” two weeks ago — and each of her answers.

Actually, it wasn’t so much hard labor for Cohen as it was some copying and pasting, since it seems the “candidate” has fielded just seven questions from the mainstream media during her “campaign.” That is, she’s taken fewer than one question every other day. That’s not even four per week.

Here’s a sample:

Question 2: “…Regarding the play for pay allegations in the latest book, emails back in 2012.”— WMUR, a local ABC affiliate in New Hampshire.

Clinton: “You know, those issues are, in my view, distractions from what this campaign should be about, what I’m going to make this campaign about, and I’ll let other people decide what they want to talk about. I’m going to talk about what’s happening in the lives of the people of New Hampshire and across America. Thank you, all.”

All of her answers are like that one — evasive non-answers to substantive questions about serious subjects.

The press will take a lot of abuse from, and provide a lot of cover for, favored candidates. But like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, they will not be ignored!

That’s why I’ve been putting “candidate” and “campaign” in scare quotes for the last week or so, as Clinton has shown she’s not interested in real campaigning, and until and unless she does, she isn’t a real candidate.

Zach Cohen at National Journal seems to have figured this out, too.

Who’s next?

Apple Watch: Will it Blend?

April 28th, 2015 - 12:22 pm

Of course it will blend.

Philosophically, I’m opposed to the destruction of meticulously crafted gadgets just for the sake of destruction. But then I always watch these Blendtec videos anyway, and catch myself laughing.

There’s no accounting for humor.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

April 28th, 2015 - 11:30 am

Whelp, another ♡bamaCare!!! prediction is coming to pass — a prediction made by the law’s critics, and not by its supporters. Read:

A new report by the National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education, finds that the funding difficulties states will be facing because of the “huge growth” in Medicaid spending, caused by their expansion, could lead to a “tipping point” for public education institutions.

Here are the sobering statistics.

State spending nationwide on Medicaid was 15.6 percent of overall state budgets in 2013. That spending will increase to 17.9 percent by 2024, estimated the report, which is based on projections from Moody’s Analytics.

This increase in Medicaid spending “will siphon away $60 billion more from state budgets over the next decade.”

I hate sobering statistics.

News You Can Use

April 28th, 2015 - 9:50 am
(Image courtesy CBS Los Angeles/KCBS-TV)

(Image courtesy CBS Los Angeles/KCBS-TV)


The LAPD is asking the public’s help to find a brazen graffiti artist who tagged the hind quarters of one of its horses in broad daylight.

The incident of vandalism occurred Tuesday at Venice Beach.

While working a crime-suppression detail at Venice Beach, an unknown suspect marked the horse, a member of the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division’s Mounted Platoon.

The silver graffiti was removed from “Charly” later that evening.

CBS2’s Rachel Kim said someone tagged the initials R.B.S. on Charly.

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

Iranian Pot Meets Saudi Kettle

April 28th, 2015 - 8:21 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Here’s a feat of chutzpah unmatched since 1998, when I told my best friend David he enjoyed his martinis too much:

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of treachery against the Islamic world and compared the kingdom to Israel, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“Today, the treacherous Saudis are following in Israel’s footsteps,” Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying.

“Saudi Arabia is shamelessly and disgracefully bombing and mass killing a nation that is fighting against the arrogant system,” or world powers, he said. He was apparently referring to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been waging a monthlong air campaign against Iran-supported rebels, known as Houthis.

Treacherous Saudis, indeed.

To be fair, as a Saudi national pastime, treachery ranks fourth behind scotch, European call girls, and exporting jihad — but it’s a close fourth.

Connecting the Uranium Dots

April 28th, 2015 - 6:59 am
"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, 97.5% of the people like me." (AP photo)

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, 97.5% of the people like me.”
(AP photo)

Speaking of chutzpah, wait’ll you see what recently reelected Kazakhstan strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev had to say about his own reelection:

Preliminary results show Nursultan Nazarbayev — who’s ruled the former Soviet republic since 1989, and long faced accusations of vote-rigging — scoring yet another landslide victory over nominal opposition.

Nazarbayev reportedly even apologized Monday for the scale of his victory, but said it would have “looked undemocratic” for him to have intervened just to make his victory look any less decisive.

On the off chance you’d forgotten, in 2010 while his wife was still Secretary of State, former US President (and current full-time American scoundrel) Bill Clinton was on the receiving end of a $500,000 speaking fee “for a speech in Moscow by a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that assigned a buy rating to Uranium One stock.” And there’s a wee-tiny connection between Uranium One and Kazakhstan:

In Kazakhstan, Uranium One holds a 70% interest in the Betpak Dala joint venture, which owns the Akdala and South Inkai uranium mines, a 50% interest in the Karatau joint venture, which owns the Karatau uranium mine, a 50% interest in the Akbastau joint venture, which owns the Akbastau uranium mine, a 49.67% interest in the Zarechnoye joint venture, which owns the Zarechnoye uranium mine, and a 30% interest in the Kyzylkum joint venture, which owns the Kharasan uranium project.

But you can be certain that President Hillary Clinton, who belongs in jail, won’t go easy on election-stealing autocrats like Nazarbayev, or their crony capitalists.


Cheap Money Isn’t

April 28th, 2015 - 5:00 am

A must-read think-piece from Tyler Durden on how central banks around the world are inadvertently creating deflation when what they’ve been trying to do is inflate their various currencies:

On Saturday we once again explored the question of whether central banks are creating deflation. The idea that post-crisis DM monetary policy may be causing disinflationary pressures to build is somewhat counterintuitive on its face but in fact makes quite a lot of sense. Here’s how we explained it:

The premise is simple. By keeping rates artificially suppressed, the central banks of the world effectively make it impossible for the market to purge itself of inefficient actors and loss-making enterprises. As a result, otherwise insolvent companies are permitted to remain operational, contributing to oversupply and making it difficult for the market to reach equilibrium. The textbook example of this dynamic is the highly leveraged US shale complex which, by virtue of both artificially low borrowing costs and the Fed-driven hunt for yield, has retained access to capital markets in the midst of the oil slump and has thus continued to drill contributing to the very same price declines that put the entire space in jeopardy in the first place.

Expanding upon that a bit, we might say this: those who have access to easy money overproduce but unfortunately, they do not witness a comparable increase in demand from those to whom the direct benefits of ultra accommodative policies do not immediately accrue.

“When you’re up to your ass in alligators,” the saying goes, “it’s difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.”

It’s fascinating stuff from Zero Hedge, and while perhaps it doesn’t tread much new ground, it does a fine job of tying many of our various economic troubles together into one piece.

I’d add one more thought to help complete the even broader picture.

Prices, as we all learned in Econ 101, are just information, the data which allow producers and buyers to make informed decisions under ever-changing conditions. Governments screw with prices — that is, they mess with the data — all the time. They subsidize this thing, the tax the bejeebus out of that thing, they mandate another thing. When prices reflect what government wants, rather than what producers require or what consumers desire, then poor decisions are made by all parties.

The housing bubble is a fine case and point. Washington made the political decision that riskier home loans shouldn’t be priced any higher than less-risky home loans. Banks had to do something to pass along the risk, and so credit default swaps were created to peddle the high-risk loans to the secondary market, right alongside the solid loans. Investors bought into this madness, and everybody enjoyed the boom right up until it went bust — and nearly brought down the entire global economy with it.

That’s not to say individuals and business don’t make bad decisions — they do it all the time. The late ’90s tech bubble is a prime example of just that, as seemingly everybody got caught up in the dotcom frenzy, fueled in part by massive equipment upgrades. Everybody needed new computers to run the new 32-bit Windows upgrades, and lots of old equipment needed replacing to avoid the Y2K bug. Then the upgrade cycle ended and the dotcom profits never materialized, and the boom went bust.

But there’s a major difference between those two bubbles.

When the Dotcom Bubble popped, we were left with all that awesome new equipment and software, and the internet companies which survived were largely the smart and efficient ones. The underlying economy was still just as fine as it ever was.

To really screw things up requires government intervention, like we saw in the housing bubble. That bubble diverted more than a trillion dollars — a trillion! — away from productive investments in new businesses and new technology, and towards giant houses few people really needed and, as it turned out, fewer still could afford. The result, as I said, nearly brought us Great Depression II: Home Loan Boogaloo.

I haven’t been able to find a study backing this up, but my gut tells me that the housing bubble is also responsible in large part for our lame productivity gains since the turn of the century. You can’t suck a trillion investment dollars out of productive industries and stick it into vanishing home values without taking a hit to productivity.

Interest rates are the “price” of money — the information borrowers and lenders need to make smart decisions. But our central banks have decided that in these troubled times, money should be essentially free. But nothing makes people crazier or stupider than free money.

That’s what Zero Interest Rate Policy means, that’s what Quantitative Easing does. Banks don’t have good information, borrowers don’t have good information, central bankers don’t have good information, but all three are letting the free money flow like crazy, trying to convince scared (and scarred) consumers that this time the bubble won’t pop.

And so we have commodities producers chasing shrinking profits on ever-greater outputs. The result this time could very well be Great Depression II: Commodities Boogaloo.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. (AP photo)

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
(AP photo)

It’s exactly what it sounds like:

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop brokered the deal with the country during her weekend diplomatic mission to Iran. Bishop has called the agreement an “informal deal,” one that will particularly target Australian citizens traveling to Iraq and Syria to join IS.

“During my discussions with the national leadership here it was agreed that we could share intelligence,” Bishop said at a press conference in Tehran on Sunday. “We discussed the opportunities to share intelligence, information on who is in Iraq — clearly we want information on Australians and they agreed that they would be prepared to share intelligence.”

Did you know that Australians have fought alongside us in every war since WWII, including Vietnam and Iraq?

And now this.

It’s not really a betrayal or anything — Australia was, is, and will continue to be our friend. All they’ve done with this deal is made an accurate estimation of which country is the strong horse in the Middle East now.

You’re on Candid Dashcam

April 27th, 2015 - 12:14 pm

Hot from The Blaze, skip ahead to about the 2:00 mark to see a stupid, avoidable accident — caused by two jerk drivers and captured on dashcam.

If you do skip ahead, here’s the setup. A jerk in a Camaro attempted to pass a pickup truck on the right — moving in from directly behind a semi. The pickup driver turned out to be just as big of a jerk, speeding up and then pacing the semi, effectively trapping the Camaro alongside the semi.

Two idiots, I’d wager, with big engines and tiny penises.

Everybody else on the road — especially the semi driver — deserved better.

Fortunately no one was inured, but in an ideal world they’d both lose their licenses for a very long time.

UPDATE: Regarding the jerk in the pickup truck, there are really only two smart ways to deal with jerks like the one in the Camaro.

If the jerk is fast and aggressive, get over, slow down, let him pass — and stay slow long enough for him to get at least half a mile ahead of you. That way, if and when he causes an accident, it’s far enough ahead for you to avoid it.

If the jerk is slow and stupid, do what you can safely do to get in front of him. That way, when and if he causes an accident, it’s behind you.

Colorado drivers are among the worst, with more of our fair share of slow, stupid jerks hogging the passing lane. As a result, we have more than our fair share of fast, aggressive jerks trying to pass them on the right.

Don’t be a jerk.

Name That Pundit!

April 27th, 2015 - 11:01 am

It’s another exciting episode of everyone’s favorite fake internet game show — Name That Pundit! Today’s mystery writer has been a defender, a fan, and perhaps even a friend of Hillary Clinton’s for more than two decades. And yet, when this longtime Washington insider got a hold of Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash, here’s what they had to say:

If the data in Schweizer’s upcoming book, Clinton Cash, survives the vetting it will get from the mainstream media, Clinton will have to clean up her act. Aside from actual wrongdoing, and there’s no evidence of that, this is about the appearance of conflicts of interest, and in politics, appearances are everything.

The most damaging concerns have to do with foreign money seeping into the Clinton family foundation and whether any of that money found its way to her campaign. Should she become president, would these foreign friends that have enriched the Clinton Foundation and the Clintons themselves through exorbitant speaking fees receive preferential treatment?

“If I were a foreign government, I know which horse I would back,” says Craig Holman, public affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.

Can you Name That Pundit?

Would you believe…

Eleanor Clift?

That’s right, folks, Eleanor Clift.

Et tu, Eleanor?

Maybe this has something to do with Clift’s turnaround:

The Clinton Foundation has been added to a charity watchlist that includes the American Red Cross and the Breast Cancer Society, Inc. The Charity Navigator website aggregates several instances of misconduct over time, before officially adding charities to its watch list.


As far as why the Clinton Foundation was added to the list, Charity Navigator cites several instances from reputable sources.

Keep in mind also that the Foundation has given only 15% of its donations to actual charities. The rest has gone… where, exactly?

That’s the next big story I’d like Clift to look into.

Until then, thanks for playing Name That Pundit, and remember — Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Abandoned Hope, All Ye Who Campaign Here

April 27th, 2015 - 9:41 am
Enter stage left? (AP photo)

Enter stage left?
(AP photo)

Team Clinton just lost a top bundler:

New York businessman Jon Cooper, who Team Clinton enlisted for its elite corps of early fundraisers known as “HillStarters,” said that he decided not to tap his donor network for Mrs. Clinton because she hasn’t provided enough answers about foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while she ran the State Department, her exclusive use of private email for official business as America’s top diplomat and her commitment to liberal priorities.

“I’m officially on the fence,” said Mr. Cooper, a bundler for President Obama’s campaigns who is active in Democratic politics in New York, which Mrs. Clinton represented in the U.S. Senate and where she has set up her campaign headquarters.

Cooper “hasn’t ruled out eventually supporting” Clinton if she’s the nominee, but stories like this one won’t exactly help her become the nominee, and might just continue to haunt her should she be the nominee.

So… this is just the most awesomest story ever then.

News You Can Use

April 27th, 2015 - 8:41 am

Florida Man strikes again:

A Florida man was bitten in the face by a venomous snake after trying to kiss it, authorities told ABC Tampa affiliate WFTS-TV.

Austin Hatfield, 18, of Wimauma, told his friends he took a liking to the snake and decided to keep it as a pet, Robin Belcher, the mother of his best friend, Jason Belcher, told ABC News.

“It was a cottonmouth snake, 4 foot, and he pulled it out of pillow case and laid it on his chest and it ended up striking him on the face,” Belcher said.

This guy is lucky to be alive — cottonmouths are nothing anyone should mess around with.

Spoiled Kids with Mom & Dad’s Amex

April 27th, 2015 - 7:30 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Patrick Gavin has a bone or three to pick with Nerd Prom:

Everyone knows the White House Correspondents Association dinner is broken. What started off decades ago as a stately formal celebration of the best of presidential reporting has morphed into a four-day orgy of everything people outside the Beltway hate about life inside the Beltway—now it’s not just one night of clubby backslapping, carousing and drinking between the press and the powerful, it’s four full days of signature cocktails and inside jokes that just underscore how out of step the Washington elite is with the rest of the country. It’s not us (journalists) versus them (government officials); it’s us (Washington) versus them (the rest of America).

Something has to change.

Gavin’s main problem with the WHCA Dinner is that it doesn’t actually raise much money for the student journalists which it’s supposed to be helping, and that the red carpet attracts too many Hollywood types who don’t really know nothin’ about nothin’.

Fair complaints, especially when Gavin adds, “The week acts as a tacky and vainglorious self-celebration at a time when most Americans don’t think Washingtonians have much to be commended for.”

If that line doesn’t sting, it ought to.

But the real problem goes deeper than that. Washington behaves exactly like a no-account heir using Mommy and Daddy’s credit card to pay for a fabulous Prom Night with all the fixins — limo, booze, Armani tux, throwing the whole party for his entire clique. His failing grades? No matter. Mommy and Daddy will keep on paying no matter what.

And so of course the party is fabulous, and of course it’s entirely meaningless. And of course the heir feels completely entitled to all of it.

The WHCA Dinner isn’t “Nerd Prom.” It’s Entitlement Prom. The only thing it’s missing is Caesar Flickerman as the emcee.

If Gavin is serious about fixing what’s wrong with Entitlement Prom, he could endorse policies which would take money and power away from those who deserve neither.

Panic Time at the DNC?

April 27th, 2015 - 6:15 am
"My campaign will raise one million dollars!" (AP photo)

“My campaign will raise one million dollars!”
(AP photo)

John Fund reports from the White House Correspondents Association dinner:

Cecily Strong, the Saturday Night Live comic who followed President Obama on the podium, was so blatantly in Hillary’s corner that it was jarring. But what was striking about last night’s dinner was that many people have come to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in deep trouble and she is no longer as inevitable as people once thought. Working reporters who cover her and other Democratic politicians wouldn’t go on the record, but you heard the same thing from several of them:

“It’s not that she’s too old — she just can’t relate to younger generations.”

“A couple more scandals, and you’ll wonder if they will start to define her campaign.”

“Younger women know a female will become president in their lifetime; many of them don’t think it has to be or even should be Hillary.”

“How can she possibly distance herself from the Obama administration she served for four years, but whose policies increasingly alienate independent voters she needs?”

The fact remains that Clinton’s popularity is mostly theoretical in nature — people like her more the less they see her. The other fact remains that campaigning involves being seen a lot.

Clinton launched her “campaign” by attending a series of small, private functions and smaller, private fundraisers. This is a smart move, in that in allows her to campaign without being seen, in the hopes that her climbing Emailgate negatives will dissipate. Maybe they will, but now we have the Clinton Foundation scandal on top of that, and who knows what else is coming — and there’s always something else coming with the Clintons.

The hiding in plain sight this can only do so much for so long; a Presidential contender can’t campaign from a hole in the ground. But will voters see her or her shadows?

UPDATE: I just now noticed the name of the event in the photo, “Women in the World.”

As opposed to where?

“You gotta kill ‘em.”

April 27th, 2015 - 5:15 am


That’s former President George W. Bush on foreign policy:

Bush said he views the rise of the Islamic State as al-Qaeda’s “second act” and that they may have changed the name but that murdering innocents is still the favored tactic. He defended his own administration’s handling of terrorism, noting that the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured on his watch: “Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they’re doing it on TV.”

Obama promised to degrade and destroy Islamic State’s forces but then didn’t develop a strategy to complete the mission, Bush said. He said that if you have a military goal and you mean it, “you call in your military and say ‘What’s your plan?’ ” He indirectly touted his own decision to surge troops to Iraq in 2007, by saying, “When the plan wasn’t working in Iraq, we changed.”

“In order to be an effective president … when you say something you have to mean it,” he said. “You gotta kill em.”

Let’s leave aside that Bush held the course in Iraq for two years while that country slid into civl war, before “we changed” to a smarter policy. Those two years poisoned his presidency, gave the House and Senate to the Democrats, and paved the way to a first-term Senator of no discernible accomplishments to win the White House.

While that is a major aside, the fact remains that “this mess” Barack Obama “inherited” in the Middle East, while not exactly on the mend, was at least at a manageable level of permanent crisis. Given everything else, that was no small feat. It was of course all thrown away by Obama, who views foreign policy with the same contempt the star high school quarterback feels for math class — that awful, boring, frustrating thing he must cope with in between the real work of high school, which is being supercool out on field.

There was a part of me — a small part, but real — which thought Obama might get serious about foreign policy in his last two years. That’s the typical escape for lame duck presidents, and it’s not like he didn’t have plenty to get done overseas.

Instead he’s chosen to beat his head against the wall, trying to get a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. Meanwhile, the Middle East burns — and sits on the edge of a nuclear arms race.

It’s the worst of all possible worlds, and Obama helped make it that way.

Friday Night Videos

April 24th, 2015 - 10:51 pm

In honor of Google’s latest antics, here’s one hit wonder Rockwell with “Somebody’s Watching Me.” In case you’d forgotten, that is indeed Michael Jackson doing the background vocal.

Pretty effective video, for something that looks like it was shot over the course of an evening and a few cocktails.

A Better Boomer?

April 24th, 2015 - 2:14 pm
(Image courtesy Jane's)

(Image courtesy Jane’s)


In a 15 April testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of US Pacific Command (PACOM), said China has three Type 094 (Jin-class) submarines in service already and may have eight in service by the end of the decade.

“The Jin-class submarine carries the JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile [SLBM] with a range capable of reaching the US and will give China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent. Nuclear deterrence patrols will likely commence this year,” he said.

Adm Locklear’s comments mark an increase over previous US intelligence community estimates. In 2007 the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) estimated that up to five Type 094 SSBNs could be built, while the 2008 annual Pentagon report to US Congress on China’s military stated that up to five Type 094s could be built by 2010.

The real question isn’t the number of boats, but if the boats are any good. Russia built about a jillion nuclear- and diesel-powered subs, most of which were about as stealthy as my nine-year-old hopped up on Halloween candy and with an air horn in each hand. The Chinese missile subs are so unreliable and so loud, our own Navy isn’t sure if they’ve engage in even one deterrence patrol in all these years.

I’m not worried — yet.

PAK Man Fever

April 24th, 2015 - 1:49 pm
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Russia’s attempt to build a fifth-generation fighter jet is running into serious problems, and that has their Indian partners up in arms:

In late March Russia finally admitted that they were having serious problems with their new “5th generation” T-50 (or PAK-FA) stealth fighter. The admission came in the form of a decision to cut the number of production T-50s to be built by the end of the decade from 52 to 12. Russia already has five development models of the T-50 flying, although one was damaged in a fire. The Russian announcement did not cover specific reasons for the change. But Indian Air Force officials have been criticizing the progress of the T-50 program for over a year. This aircraft is the Russian answer to the U.S. F-22 and according to the Indians, who have contributed $300 million (so far) to development of the T-50, they are entitled by the 2007 agreement with Russian to have access to technical details. The Russians were accused to refusing to provide development updates as often and in as much detail the Indians expected. The Indians know from experience that when the Russians clam up about a military project it is usually because the news is bad and the Russians would rather not share.

Stealth is like selling safety as a feature in an automobile — it used to be something only one or two brands focused on, but now safety is just as standard as the steering wheel or doors. In other words, you’ve got to have it in order to compete.

And the Russians don’t have it.

Kerry in a Pants Suit

April 24th, 2015 - 12:18 pm


I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster regarding Hillary Clinton since the email scandal first broke. When it did, and the seriousness of her breaches became obvious, and watching her tired attempt to deal with it — it felt like she was toast.

But she soldiered on and appeared to recover.

Then I watched her “launch” her “campaign.” One uninspired video, followed by stops at “more intimate venues” signaled a candidate who wasn’t really interested in campaigning, and a public which wasn’t really interested in the candidate.

But she soldiered on and appeared to recover.

This week has seen revelations about her foundation’s taxes, about a deal to let Russia control a good chunk of our uranium production — and sell some of it to Iran, and more.

Will she soldier on and recover?

I don’t know, but the hits do keep on coming, don’t they?

Required Reading

April 24th, 2015 - 11:07 am

Ralph Peters:

Hundreds of drone strikes so far this year, from Syria to Pakistan. Hundreds of dead terrorists, many of high rank. Thousands of lives saved. And what makes headlines?

Two Western hostages killed in an otherwise successful drone attack.

Sorry, folks. That’s war. And warfare will never be dainty or fully precise. We should be awed by the accuracy of our weaponry and the unprecedented reduction in the loss of innocent lives.

Instead, we bitch because military operations — humanity’s most complex and fraught endeavor — aren’t perfect.

Read the whole thing.

Peters adds an important reminder, “We may regret the loss of an American and an Italian aid worker, but they’d voluntarily placed themselves in danger.” That’s exactly right, and gets forgotten in the urge to point fingers at the Administration. I’d remind you that unless the Pentagon or the White House was somehow lax in its efforts to ID the targets, the President was exactly right to order the kill.

Obama’s Drone War is no substitute for a concerted effort to kill some seriously bad guys who are in serious need of some killing, but it’s a nice addition.

Now if we only had that concerted effort…

Pump, Baby, Pump!

April 24th, 2015 - 9:37 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Someday, I hope to live in a world where the perfectly groomed and dressed attendant at the full-service gas station pays me a small fee for allowing him to fill my tank with the excess gasoline which the station simply must get rid of. While the attendant goes about the business of crediting my account and filling the tank, a statuesque masseuse straight out of a Helmut Newton photoshoot comes by to spend a few quality minutes on my neck and shoulders.

The margaritas, I should add, are fabulous. The station’s bartender strains the fresh lime juice and uses exactly seven Alaskan glacier ice cubes, just the way I like.

After he’s done his job, the attendant thanks me for my business, adds a small tip to my fee, and reminds me that when I return in a week or two, the free tapas bar should finally be open.

That world may be one small step closer to reality:

Saudi Arabia has a response to the global surplus of oil: Raise output to near-record levels and then pump even more.

The world’s biggest oil exporter, having abandoned last year its role of keeping global markets in balance, now has incentive to maximize output and undermine rival producers by using its reserve capacity, according to Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG. Just meeting its own domestic demand this summer will require a lot more fuel, others estimate.

The increase — a snub to fellow OPEC members calling on the kingdom to cut production — will heighten tensions when the organization meets in June. Oil plunged to a six-year low near $45 a barrel in January, six weeks after the Saudis overcame opposition within the group to keep up output despite surging U.S. shale supplies.

If you’d like to play the World’s Smallest Violin for OPEC, the corner gas station has a Stradivarius available for loan to customers just like you.

That’s the headline to an …unusual… New York Magazine takedown by Jonathan Chait. It’s unusual because first you have things like these four bullet points, which if you’re on Team Clinton have got to hurt:

•The New York Times has a report about the State Department’s decision to approve the sale of Uranium mines to a Russian company that donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, and that a Russian investment bank promoting the deal paid Bill $500,000 for a speech in Moscow.

•The Washington Post reports that Bill Clinton has received $26 million in speaking fees from entities that also donated to the Clinton Global Initiative.

•The Washington Examiner reports, “Twenty-two of the 37 corporations nominated for a prestigious State Department award — and six of the eight ultimate winners — while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State were also donors to the Clinton family foundation.”

•And Reuters reports, “Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors.”

But the lead-in offers the Clintons something of a way out:

All sorts of unproven worst-case-scenario questions float around the web of connections between Bill’s private work, Hillary Clinton’s public role as secretary of State, the Clintons’ quasi-public charity, and Hillary’s noncompliant email system. But the best-case scenario is bad enough: The Clintons have been disorganized and greedy.

“Unproven worst-case scenarios” is the kind of line James Carville would be field-testing on MSNBC before going on one of the big networks people actually watch. And Chait might think he’s being evenhanded or something, but when I read “disorganized and greedy” I do not think “presidential timber.”

Then Chait writes that the Clintons public-private role (privately raising gobs of money from foreign governments while Hillary was in charge of the nation’s foreign relations) was a “difficult situation to navigate.”

Really? How about not taking the money? No? Apparently this doesn’t occur to the Clintons or to Chait, who goes out of his way to blame the mess on others:

And yet the Clintons paid little to no attention to this problem. Nicholas Confessore described their operation as “a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest.

If the Clintons had only paid more attention, they could have cleaned the mess right up? Is that what Chait is trying to say here? What a ridiculous assertion. The operation was set up explicitly to use the couple’s power and influence to shake down anybody with a fat paycheck, which is precisely what they did.

And now the Clintons are using the Audacity of Corruption to distract the easily distracted — like Chait — in the little details, so that they’ll miss the one big obvious fact: Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian Supreme Leader office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Erdogan is visiting Iran despite tensions with Tehran over the crisis in Yemen, where airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition are targeting Iran-backed Shiite rebels who have taken over much of the country. (AP Photo/ Office of Iranian Supreme Leader)

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian Supreme Leader office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Erdogan is visiting Iran despite tensions with Tehran over the crisis in Yemen, where airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition are targeting Iran-backed Shiite rebels who have taken over much of the country. (AP Photo/ Office of Iranian Supreme Leader)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pistol-whipped the military, encouraged Islamic extremists, worried his NATO allies, seems pretty comfortable with the idea of a nuclear Iran — and now this:

According to the figures released by the Turkish Statistics Agency (TUIK) last week, the official unemployment rate has climbed to 11.3%, with women taking the heaviest blow. The rate translates to 3,259,000 jobless people, including 2,117,000 men and 1,142,000 women.

The TUIK figures, however, ignore a crucial factor that makes unemployment look lower than it actually is: the hopeless. People who have lost hope of finding a job and stopped looking for one are not factored in. Their number has reached 2,535,000, which, added to TUIK’s official figure, brings the total number of jobless to 5,794,000.

Sound familiar?

Land Spreading Out So Far and Wide…

April 24th, 2015 - 6:28 am

Dude, You’re Shooting a Dell

April 24th, 2015 - 5:10 am
(Image courtesy The Smoking Gun)

(Image courtesy The Smoking Gun)

I present this story under the assumption that it didn’t come straight from Apple’s PR department:

A Colorado man says he has no regrets after unloading eight rounds into his dysfunctional Dell desktop, though he faces a fine for doing so.

“I just had it,” Lucas Hinch, 38, told The Smoking Gun (via Ars Technica). Apparently the PC had thrown up one too many blue screens of death in recent months, so Hinch took it into an alley, loaded up a 9mm Hi-Point pistol that he’d purchased on Craiglist, and let the bullets fly.

“It was glorious,” Hinch told the Los Angeles Times. “Angels sung on high.”

Hinch admitted that the murder was “premeditated, oh, definitely,” and that he’d made sure there was nothing behind the desktop, and nothing from which the rounds could ricochet. The deed went down behind Hinch’s home, where he and his girlfriend also run a homeopathic herb store.

Despite his precautions, Colorado Springs police issued Hinch a citation for discharging a firearm within city limits.

Back when a 500MHz Pentium III was still a screaming machine, I owned a Dell. While I was never — OK, almost never — tempted to pump eight bullets into it, it was the source of the strangest tech support solution I ever heard.

Once on a reboot, the system powered down and refused to power back up. It was, as Dickens wrote, dead as a doornail — assuming that doornail was a thirty pound desktop tower priced at $2999 in 1998 dollars, and hooked up to a then state-of-the-art 19″ Sony Trinitron monitor. To have that thing bricked (nailed?) had me seriously cheesed off.

I tried everything I knew to try before finally calling Dell’s tech support line.

The tech guy tried walking me through the usual — “Have you tried turning it off and then on again?” — but I interrupted and walked him through all the steps I’d already taken. Tech guy said something like, “Good, then I know what this is and we can skip right to the weird part.”

The weird part — and he assured me a couple of times that he wasn’t pranking me — was Dell’s documented method for unbricking their XPS PIII 500.

“What I want you to do,” he finally told me, “is switch off your power strip and swap the tower and the monitor power cords.”

“You want me to unplug the power cord from the back of the monitor and plug it into the back of the tower, and take the cord from the back of the tower and plug it into the monitor.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“What if I just unplug them both and plug them back in where they go?”

“Then you’ll still have a bricked computer.”

“But if I swap the identical power cords, it will work?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

So I did. And it worked. My computer was unbricked.

And then I asked the tech guy how the hell swapping identical power cords made any difference.

“Nobody knows. We just know it works.”

And it’s significantly cheaper than eight bullets at today’s prices.

UPDATE: I should have added one more thing. Several more times over the lifetime of that Dell, the same issue occurred where the machine powered down on a reboot and refused to power back up. Each time, I dutifully swapped the power cords, and each time it sprang right back to life.


An Army of One Going “Pew-Pew”

April 23rd, 2015 - 3:34 pm

James E. Burke wants to fit his “Pulser” electricity guns onto the M4 rifles already carried by our troops:

The military, too, has been experimenting with so-called energy weapons for decades, including lasers. “Most of these are vehicle-towed and require a huge power system,” Burke noted. “The antennas are sometimes seven feet.” The Burke Pulser, meanwhile, fits into an M4 rifle like a standard suppressor. Burke estimates that the cost to mass-produce them would be less than $1,000 each.

What do you do with an energy gun? You don’t shoot people. The gun is intended for use against electronics, potentially giving dismounted soldiers an edge against the ever-wider range electronic and cyber threats that they might face on patrol:Bluetooth-enabled improvised explosive devices, consumer drones modified to be more deadly, and the like.

The Army is currently testing the Pulser against an assortment of devices, a 555 timer, a bipolar junction transistor and a yellow light emitting diode, or LED, combined into a single target. “All these things pretty much generalize all the common electronics you’ll find in a circuit board,” Burke said.“What we’re going to do is fire at it. If the LED light stops blinking, it was defeated and if smoke comes up, it was destroyed.”

I scoured YouTube for a video, but there’s nothing — yet.

Will keep you posted.

Pentagon Lying About ISIS?

April 23rd, 2015 - 2:01 pm


Tim Mak has the story, and the above map:

Pushing ISIS back is clearly a good step. But the information from the Pentagon is, at best, misleading and incomplete, experts in the region and people on the ground tell The Daily Beast. They said the map misinforms the public about how effective the U.S.-led effort to beat back ISIS has actually been. The map released by the Pentagon excludes inconvenient facts in some parts, and obscures them in others.

The Pentagon’s map assessing the so-called Islamic State’s strength has only two categories: territory held by ISIS currently, and territory lost by ISIS since coalition airstrikes began in August 2014. The category that would illustrate American setbacks—where ISIS has actually gained territory since the coalition effort began—is not included.

I’m shocked, shocked to find that dishonesty is going on in this Administration.

Of course it could just be that nobody is really certain what the hell the situation on the ground is — and I’m not certain whether ignorance or dishonesty would be preferable in this case.

Turkey Season

April 23rd, 2015 - 12:41 pm

I suppose this was inevitable:

Ankara has recently moved to diminish Turkey’s military dependence on the West, including last month inaugurating rocket testing and a radar technologies facilities. Both are part of Turkey’s effort to boost a fast-growing arms export industry that also is supplying its own forces with locally built tanks, warships, drones, missiles and—by the republic’s centenary in 2023—a jet fighter.

Ankara has also rejected bids by its NATO allies for a missile-defense system in favor of a Chinese-built one that one these partners say is incompatible with their technology and threatens intelligence cooperation.

“Turkey is recasting itself as a nonaligned country in its rhetoric, which is making NATO very uncomfortable,” said a Western official in Brussels. “Turkey’s stance will be an issue for years to come, not only if the Chinese missile deal happens, but also because of its politics.”

Turkey’s membership in NATO is becoming meaningless, a process which started a dozen years ago when they refused passage for our troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Anyway, we’re no longer the strong horse in Mideast power politics, and Russia, China, and Iran will pick up whatever is left — and I guess we can hope and pray or whatever that our confused allies manage to defend themselves.

Thought for the Day

April 23rd, 2015 - 11:45 am

News You Can Use

April 23rd, 2015 - 10:45 am
(Image courtesy IBT)

(Image courtesy IBT)


A halal sex shop that will sell “Islamically approved” adult products exclusively to Muslims will be opened in the Saudi city of Mecca.

According to a report published in Alyaoum24, an Arabic news portal, the shops will “strictly cater to Muslim customers in Mecca” and are being opened after due consultation with Saudi clerics, who have approved it as ‘halal’.

Abdelaziz Aouragh, who is the owner of a Dutch halal sex shop called El Asira, will open the halal sex shop in Mecca. El Asira is famous for its sensual oils.

I plan on opening a shop next door selling t-shirts that read, “My husband went on hadj and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”