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CLAIM: Hillary Has a Lock on Obama Voters

May 6th, 2015 - 2:13 pm
In this AP photo, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook is seen desperately trying to quiet the overenthusiastic masses at a recent campaign rally.

In this AP photo, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook is seen desperately trying to quiet the overenthusiastic masses at a recent campaign rally.

Clinton campaign chief Robby Mook doesn’t seem to be worried about his boss’s ability to mobilize the Obama Coalition in 2016:

“That coalition of voters that was so strong for Obama, including young people, we’re seeing in the polling and as Hillary is out campaigning, they’re on board,” Robby Mook told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Voters are looking for a president who will be a champion for everyday people, Mook said. For young voters, that means creating the conditions that will allow them to get a college education without taking on debt and find employment after graduation, he added.

For seniors, it means standing up for Social Security and Medicare, two entitlement programs Clinton has a track record of protecting, Mook said.

All that “enthusiasm” explains why Clinton has been campaigning in tiny venues like private homes, and why she polls best among millionaires and billionaires.

Sign “O” the Times

May 6th, 2015 - 1:00 pm

GALLUP

Consumer confidence drops sharply in new Gallup poll:

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index was -9 for the week ending May 3 — its lowest weekly score since December. This reflects a six-point decline from the previous week, and is the largest week-to-week drop since last July.

After falling from the high points in January and February this year, the index had barely moved in the previous six weeks. It had wavered between -3 and -4 since late March, before dropping last week. This included an average of -3 for all of April. And nearly all weekly readings in 2015 prior to now had been close to zero, with little week-to-week change.

Even after last week’s sharp decline, the index’s latest figure is well above most readings Gallup recorded from 2008 to 2014.

Gas prices are a delightful and obvious bright spot for consumers, one we get reminded of every time we fill up the tank. Yet even that isn’t enough to stop the slide.

News You Can Use

May 6th, 2015 - 11:39 am
(Image courtesy DNAinfo)

(Image courtesy DNAinfo)

Here’s the weirdest case I’ve ever seen of adding insult to injury:

Police say a Chicago man robbed a Subway sandwich shop with a knife, and then crossed the street and bought a sandwich at Subway’s competitor, Potbelly, where he was arrested.

Fredrick Warren, 43, was still eating his Potbelly sandwich when police arrived just before 5 p.m. on April 26, police said.

Investigators caught Warren’s trail by watching Loyola University Police surveillance video, according to Chicago and Loyola police departments.

It showed Warren walking south down Sheridan Road, crossing the street and then walking back north to Potbelly at 6464 N. Sheridan Road, police said.

There was no sign of him leaving the Potbelly, so they went inside and found him eating near the back of the shop, his gold coat draped over his seat, police said.

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

Former UN SecGen: Eat Bugs, Peasant

May 6th, 2015 - 10:28 am
Kofi Annan in 2014, looking well fed. (AP photo)

Kofi Annan in 2014, looking well fed.
(AP photo)

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has a tasty way to beat global warming:

In an interview with The Guardian, Annan called the global livestock industry “a major threat to the climate” and suggested insects as an alternative protein source to meat.

“Eating insects is good for the environment and balanced diets,” he said.

Annan told The Guardian that the growing population and middle class are making it more difficult to meet meat demands.

“It represents 14.5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” he said.

You first, Kofi.

Iowans Burn Bush

May 6th, 2015 - 9:18 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Scott Walker has a comfortable early lead with Iowa GOP voters, which isn’t a huge surprise given he’s been governor of neighboring Wisconsin and making national news there in a positive way. But the new Quinnipiac polls gets really interesting further down:

In the scramble for second place are U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 13 percent each, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 12 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 11 percent. Physician Ben Carson has 7 percent, with 5 percent for Bush. No other candidate is above 3 percent and 6 percent are undecided.

Bush tops the list at 25 percent, followed by New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie with 20 percent, when likely Republican Caucus participants are asked if there is any candidate they would definitely not support.”

Bush’s name and money haven’t bought him much love in Iowa.

Religion of Peace Update

May 6th, 2015 - 8:20 am

DRUDGE

I’m sure the feminists will be up in virtual arms against ISIS now that the self-proclaimed Caliphate has declared war against one woman:

ISIS appeared to declare war on right-wing blogger Pamela Geller Tuesday in an ominous online message claiming it has fighters across America ready to attack “any target we desire.”

The threat, posted on JustPasteIt, singles out Geller, who helped plan a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas over the weekend, which was attacked by two gunmen. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting early Tuesday in a radio broadcast, making it the first time the terror group called an American attack one of its own.

The chilling Tuesday post also boasts of ISIS having “71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack,” specifically naming only Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan and California.

It’s impossible not to notice that they didn’t name Texas.

And of course I’m kidding about the feminists. They’ve become little more than toadies and suckups to anything anti-conservative, anti-liberty, and anti-individual.

Meanwhile, here’s how a genuinely strong and independent woman behaves:

Breitbart News: Are you planning another free speech event in the near future?

Pamela Geller: Yes, but we have no concrete plans as of yet.

Undaunted and undeterred by a tribal group of violent misogynists. So-called feminists could learn a lot from Geller.

Of Mousetraps and Men

May 6th, 2015 - 7:35 am

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

May 6th, 2015 - 6:28 am

After 123 years, Assurant Health will close its doors, unable to turn a profit under ♡bamaCare!!!’s loving strictures:

The company and industry watchers blamed its losses directly on the impact of Obamacare. Following implementation of the requirements to participate in the ACA exchanges, Assurant lost $63.7 million in 2014. The insurer raised its rates by 20 percent in 2015, in hopes of returning to profitability, but lost between $80 to $90 million during the first quarter of this year.

Assurant currently provides plans for approximately 1 million people, with a revenue of about $2 billion.

“In a letter to its shareholders, [the company] said it lost money because of a reduction in recoveries under Obamacare’s risk mitigation programs and increased claims on the health care law’s 2015 policies,” the Daily Signal reports.

“It’s significant,” Andrew Edelsberg, a vice president of the rating agency A.M. Best, told The Daily Signal of how Obamacare affected Assurant Health. “It’s impacted the industry.”

Ed Haislmaier, health policy expert at The Heritage Foundation, says that government intervention in the healthcare market is having the predictable effect of pushing private companies out of business.

Smaller companies simply can’t compete against the big ones when innovation is outlawed by government regulation.

Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Hillary is from an episode of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century." (AP photo)

Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Hillary is from an episode of “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”
(AP photo)

If there’s one thing the Clintons understand, it’s that you can’t make crony capitalists without cronies. Case in point:

Boeing gave heavily to the Clinton Foundation after Hillary Clinton helped it secure a major deal with a Russian airline in 2009, author Pete Schweizer noted in his book, Clinton Cash.

The company was also involved in funding one of Clinton’s pet projects at the State Department after the agency reportedly brushed aside ethical guidelines to secure a $2 million contribution.

Schweizer notes a $900,000 donation from Boeing to the Clinton Foundation came on the heels of a multibillion dollar contract between the Russian government and the aerospace behemoth.

Bill Clinton likes to say his family foundation did nothing “knowingly inappropriate.” That was difficult to swallow on Monday, and impossible to swallow after reading the latest from Pete Schweizer.

Hillary Clinton, who belongs in jail, claims she deleted 32,000 official emails about yoga class.

I Second that Emoji

May 5th, 2015 - 1:28 pm

FINGER

Talk about feature bloat — wait until you see the latest from Microsoft:

The U.S. tech giant will include support for a middle finger emoji on the Windows 10 operating system for mobile and desktop computers when it is released later this year, according to emoji website Emojipedia.

This means Microsoft could beat both Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS to become the first to include the rude gesture in its range of emoji—symbols used in electronic messages. And to ensure diversity when giving someone the finger, Microsoft’s emoji comes in different skin tones.

As a former user of FrontPage 97, I can tell you with authority that Microsoft has been giving users the finger for years and years.

The End of China’s Boom

May 5th, 2015 - 12:18 pm
(Chart courtesy Calafia Beach Pundit)

(Chart courtesy Calafia Beach Pundit)

Scott Grannis writes that foreign investors aren’t buying into China like they once were:

As the chart above shows, China has been buying foreign currency (thus increasing its holdings of foreign currency) for most of the past two decades, AND it has been allowing its currency to appreciate. Until recently, China has been the beneficiary of massive net foreign investment inflows—so massive that even $5 trillion of forex purchases by the Bank of China weren’t enough to stop the yuan from appreciating.

The Bank of China now holds about $4.7 trillion of forex reserves. However—and this is critical—China’s forex reserves have not increased over the past 18 months, and have actually declined by about $300 billion since last summer. This means that China is now experiencing net outflows of currency, and that in turn is a sign that China is no longer a magnet for capital. Foreign investment is no longer flooding into the economy because the opportunities for excess returns in China have diminished significantly. The bloom is off the Chinese rose.

I can’t find it in the archives, but I blogged a story years ago about a conversation between (I think) President George W Bush and (I think) Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. Bush had told Hu that the US economy needed to generate 2 million jobs a year or he’d be out of a job. Hu replied that the Chinese economy needed to generate 25 million jobs a year or there’d be a revolution.

The good news is that Beijing still has that $5 trillion in the bank, which is enough to paper over a lot of problems, and for quite a while.

But what happens if the money runs out?

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

May 5th, 2015 - 11:01 am

♡bamaCare!!! isn’t quite saving people money:

According to the online insurance marketplace HealthPocket, deductibles shot up 42 percent during the health law’s first year, compared to those for plans available pre-Obamacare. Today, almost one in seven Americans spends 10 percent or more of his or her income on out-of-pocket costs like deductibles.

Plans with high deductibles already dominate in many states. In Indiana, which uses the federally operated HealthCare.gov exchange, 24 of the 29 plans available have high deductibles — defined as at least $1,300 for individuals and $2,600 for families. In South Dakota, 31 of 38 plans do.

Next year will bring more of the same. A recent report from Modern Healthcare concluded that 60 to 80 percent of the plans sold in a given exchange market could have high deductibles.

These deductibles are squeezing ordinary Americans. According to a recent survey from the Commonwealth Fund, nearly half of all adults with annual incomes ranging from 100 to 399 percent of the poverty line — or about $12,000 to $48,000 — described their deductibles as “difficult or impossible to afford.”

That Means It’s Working™

Introducing the Diesel Tank Boat

May 5th, 2015 - 10:14 am

It’s already been an awesome morning for future vehicle news, but it just got a little awesomer with news of the X-18 Tank Boat:

North Sea Boats’ new X-18 Tank Boat feels like it should be a G.I. Joe toy. The 60-foot long catamaran can travel up rivers, carry a small inflatable boat on its back, and deliver either 20 Marines or Navy SEALs to shore. It also has a tank cannon in a turret on top of the main cabin, and if that isn’t enough, it’s possible to put an automated heavy machine gun turret on top of the tank turret.

Designed for a crew of four, the Tank Boat punches well above its weight. The smaller turret can be outfitted with guns ranging from 7.62 machine guns to 30-mm light cannons, and the bigger guns punch through armored targets up to 3 miles away. The 105-mm cannon can also angle up to 42 degrees, letting it lob explosives over 6 miles. Landing on beaches is never easy, but a landing craft with deadly firepower makes it a lot easier.

Enough firepower makes everything a lot easier, including otherwise lousy news cycles.

If we had had enough X-18 Tank Boats in 1941, the Japanese never would have risked attacking Pearl Harbor. And if they had, the war would have been over by mid-1942.

As an stress-relief exercise you can try at home or in your office, say “Tank Boat” out loud a few times. I promise you’ll be smiling.

The Evitable Candidate

May 5th, 2015 - 9:03 am
She ain't in no ways tired. (AP photo)

She ain’t in no ways tired.
(AP photo)

The good news for Hillary is that Democrats still trust her. The bad news is, hardly anybody else does. That’s according to the latest WSJ/NBC poll, which also shows that she enjoyed zero honeymoon period after announcing her candidacy:

In just seven weeks, a period in which Mrs. Clinton formally began her presidential campaign, the share of people with a negative view of her jumped to 42% from 36% in last month’s survey, and only a quarter of registered voters said they viewed her as honest and straightforward, down from 38% last summer.

But she remains highly regarded among Democrats, with 76% saying they viewed her favorably—a greater hold on party loyalty than any of her potential Republican rivals had in the poll taken between April 26-30.

The lesson here is that Democrats don’t give a rat’s ass about wealthy lawbreakers with an overweening sense of entitlement, just so long as they mouth the same old shopworn platitudes.

Mitt Romney was wrong. The problem with our elections isn’t the 47% of Americans who are on one kind of dole or another. It’s the 30% of Americans who identify as Democrats and have been on the intellectual dole since at least the 1930s.

Introducing the Electric Hover Plane

May 5th, 2015 - 8:35 am
(Image courtesy NASA/NBC News)

(Image courtesy NASA/NBC News)

Whoa:

NASA researchers took a rather unique prototype aircraft for a spin last week: Greased Lightning, a 10-engine electric plane with rotating wings that allow it to take off and land like a helicopter. Vertical take-off and landing aircraft, or VTOL, are not a new idea, but this particular configuration sure is. The GL-10 has four engines on each wing and one on each tip of its rear stabilizer — that’s much different from the large, tilting rotors of the V-22 Osprey or the rotating jets on a Harrier.

The GL-10, with its 10-foot wingspan, was never meant to be large. Instead, it’s envisioned as fulfilling a drone-like role or perhaps carrying one to four people in a scaled-up future model. And because it’s battery-powered, it’s quiet.

It isn’t just that it’s quiet, it’s that electric motors are extremely reliable. I’d like to see this thing scaled up — but to carry 150 passengers, not four.

C’mon, science, shrink those batteries already.

I know that last line is mostly wishful thinking at this point, but check out Greased Lightning in action:

Welcome to Rest Home Mars

May 5th, 2015 - 7:24 am

Long space voyages may trigger dementia-like symptoms in astronauts, according to a recent study:

In order to better understand what effect that highly energetic charged particles might have on a body, the researchers exposed rodents to charged particle irradiation. These particles are much like those found in the galactic cosmic rays that bombard astronauts during extended spaceflights.

The researchers found that exposure to these particles resulted in brain inflammation. This disrupted the transmission of signals among neurons. In addition, imaging revealed that the brain’s communication network was impaired through reductions in the structure of nerve cells called dendrites and spines. Additional synaptic alterations in combination with the structural changes interfered with the capability of nerve cells to efficiently transmit electrochemical signals.

“This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two- to three-year round trip to Mars,” said Charles Limoli, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Performance decrements, memory deficits, and loss of awareness and focus during spaceflight may affect mission-critical activities and exposure to these particles may have long-term adverse consequences to cognition throughout life.”

There’s no use in settling other planets if we arrive there unable to even care for ourselves.

Jordan Cuts Support for Syrian Rebels

May 5th, 2015 - 6:10 am
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows damaged cars and a motorcycle after a bombing attack in the Rokn al-Deen neighborhood, Damascus, Syria, Monday, May 4, 2015. A small group of insurgents, including a suicide bomber, carried out the attack in Damascus on Monday targeting a Syrian military logistics and supply facility, militants and activists said. (SANA via AP)

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows damaged cars and a motorcycle after a bombing attack in the Rokn al-Deen neighborhood, Damascus, Syria, Monday, May 4, 2015. A small group of insurgents, including a suicide bomber, carried out the attack in Damascus on Monday targeting a Syrian military logistics and supply facility, militants and activists said. (SANA via AP)

Jordan has quit trying to tip the scales in Syria, and instead will just try to look after Jordan:

For much of Syria’s civil war, Jordan has quietly supported the rebels fighting to topple the regime. In recent months, various coalitions of rebel forces have scored major battlefield gains, seizing towns and villages from the regime in the north and south of Syria.

But far from cheering these advances, Jordan is ready to pull the plug on the rebels.

Alarmed by the strength of Islamist militants in the rebels’ ranks and their recent seizure of a critical Jordanian border crossing, officials here say their priorities have changed from unseating President Bashar al-Assad to taking the fight to jihadists, including the self-declared Islamic State.

There aren’t any good choices left to be made in Syria, other than perhaps to try and quarantine that place on the map we still think of as Syria, and let the locals fight it out until the tragic end. But even that’s no good, as the survivors would undoubtedly prove to be the most effectively violent Islamists the world has yet to see.

There just aren’t any good choices left.

Encrypt THIS!

May 5th, 2015 - 5:10 am
"Fourth Amendment? Never heard of it." (AP photo)

“Fourth Amendment? Never heard of it.”
(AP photo)

Another fine idea from your friendly neighborhood all-present federal government:

THE FBI HAS been lobbying top internet companies like Yahoo and Google to support a proposal that would force them to provide backdoors for government surveillance, according to CNET.

The Bureau has been quietly meeting with representatives of these companies, as well as Microsoft (which owns Hotmail and Skype), Facebook and others to argue for a legislative proposal, drafted by the FBI, that would require social-networking sites and VoIP, instant messaging and e-mail providers to alter their code to make their products wiretap-friendly.

The FBI has previously complained to Congress about the so-called “Going Dark” problem – the difficulty of doing effective wiretap surveillance as more communications have moved from traditional telephone services to internet service companies.

This is akin to arguing that because some people rob houses, the FBI should have the power to enter your house — at will, and without a warrant. Or that because some people rob banks, the FBI should have the power to examine your accounts — at will, and without a warrant. Or… well, I’m sure you get the idea.

Police states are always sold as being for the benefit of the people, but it never seems to work out that way.

Poor, Poor Killer

May 4th, 2015 - 2:26 pm
In this courtroom sketch, William Campbell, Jr., father of Boston Marathon bombing victim Krystle Campbell, is depicted on the witness stand during the first day of the penalty phase in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in federal court in Boston. Krystle Campbell was one of three who died after two bombs went off near the marathon finish line in 2013. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP)

In this courtroom sketch, William Campbell, Jr., father of Boston Marathon bombing victim Krystle Campbell, is depicted on the witness stand during the first day of the penalty phase in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in federal court in Boston. Krystle Campbell was one of three who died after two bombs went off near the marathon finish line in 2013. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP)

From the Boston Bomber trial:

Family members of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, trying to keep him from death row, said he was a kind and caring young man who once cried while watching “The Lion King.”

His sobbing aunt briefly took the stand to tell jurors about his fawning relationship with his radicalized older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

“Dzhokhar loved his older brother very much,” the aunt, Patimat Suleimanova, said through tears. “You always listen to your older sibling and follow his example.”

Tamerlan died days after the bombings after a shootout with cops.

For the first time during the trial, Tsarnaev, 21, got choked up and wiped away tears as his mother’s sister wailed away on the witness stand. She was forced to leave the stand to compose herself.

Did he also cry before, during, or after killing three and injuring 264 others with a pair of homemade bombs set to detonate among the runners and audience members of the Boston Marathon?

Poor Bill’s Bills

May 4th, 2015 - 1:00 pm

Poor Bill Clinton:

One thing he won’t stop doing: giving high-priced speeches, even though he acknowledges being a wealthy man these days, reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars.

“I gotta pay our bills,” he said. “And I also give a lot of it to the foundation every year.”

The fees — $500,000 or more for 11 speeches while his wife was Secretary of State — are justified, he insisted.

“I spend a couple of hours a day just doing the research. People like to hear me speak,” he said.

He spends “a couple hours” reading and another hour talking, and brings in nearly ten times more than the average American’s income for the entire year.

Now I don’t begrudge Clinton his millions. For whatever reason, people find it worth their money — well, usually worth other people’s money — to hear him speak. And it’s nice to know that at his age he’s still keeping up with events.

But the tone-deafness on display here — could it be that Clinton has lost a small bit of that magic political touch?

Other than that, the NBC puff-piece quoted above isn’t worth your time. It claims the Clintons are “reportedly” worth tens of millions, as if there were even some small doubt about it, and lets Clinton get away with saying his foundation did nothing “knowingly inappropriate.”

C’mon, NBC knows how to parse Clinton Legalese, and a statement like that one should be an invitation to do a little digging.

But I won’t hold my breath.

J.J. Abrams Is My New Hetero Man-Crush

May 4th, 2015 - 11:45 am

From Vanity Fair:

For some Star Wars fans, there’s no May the Fourth news finer than this: director J. J. Abrams revealed that he’s thought about killing off the very controversial Jar Jar Binks. Sitting in an edit bay at his Bad Robot production office and pointing to a frame of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams told Vanity Fair contributing editor Bruce Handy, “I have a thought about putting Jar Jar Binks’s bones in the desert there. I’m serious! Only three people will notice, but they’ll love it.”

More great news, plus some lovely Annie Leibovitz photos, all at the link.

An Open Letter to Millennials

May 4th, 2015 - 10:06 am
"We'll go dancing in the dark, walking through the park and reminiscing." (AP photo)

“We’ll go dancing in the dark, walking through the park and reminiscing.”
(AP photo)

Dear Young’uns,

As I rock in the chair on my front porch, keeping an ear out for noisy dogs and a wary eye on those teenage hooligans with their backwards hats and Air Jordans and whatnot, I began to reminisce about the good ol’ days, back during the last century when most of y’all still wore your short pants, and the cell-you-lur phone your mommy carried was the size a one them mini fridges. The only app it had was called “call people up,” and you had to hit the keys, that’s real buttons mind you, yourself.

Why, back in those days we still thought Pluto was a planet — Pluto!

This might surprise you young folks, but back when the country last voted for a Clinton for President, NBC was a network people actually watched. Cross my heart, it’s true. They had seven of the top ten TV shows, if’n you can believe such a thing, with hits like “Suddenly Susan” and “Naked Truth” and “Single Guy.” They called it “Must-See TV.” There was also a fella called Seinfeld but I doubt you ever heard a him.

1996 was the year we learned how to do the Macarena. And you know what else we did back then? We used to ask people, “Do you have email?” Ask them if they had email! Can you imagine?

Now hold on, I was talking about music, wasn’t I? I forget things more these days. Anyhoo, Hootie and the Blowfish had a new album that year, too, but they were pretty much past their prime. I remember Celine Dion had a bunch a songs on the radio. Can’t say I remember all the names, but she sure sang them all again for us when Missus VodkaPundit and I caught her matinee show in Las Vegas a few years back. Seems like ages now.

You know you can still smoke indoors in Vegas? You can, just like we still could back in the ’90s. Hard to imagine, but I took a flight to Baltimore — it was still a nice town then — and sat in the smoking section. Lit up whenever I liked, and I don’t mean one of those fancy electronic cigarettes like you kids fart around with.

A lighter? Of course I carried a lighter on the plane — why do you ask?

‘Course, I didn’t vote for Clinton — that’s right, Bill Clinton — in 1996. But I did vote for him in 1992. I remember the year because that’s when “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was really getting good, and had that one where the Enterprise kept getting blown up again and again, crashing into this other starship caught up in some dang fool time loop. And we were all shocked at the end when the Captain of the other ship turned out to be Frasier from “Cheers.” You probably never saw “Cheers,” because that was the show Frasier was on before “Frasier” was on. You never heard a that, either?

Well I can tell you that Star Trek show really got good in season four, about the time as the First Gulf War. ‘Course, back then we just called it “The Gulf War.” That was a different President Bush, too. No, not the brother — the dad. The one that came after Reagan, but golly that was so long ago even I was too young to vote for Reagan!

I worked summers to pay for my college, but I knew a guy in my dorm who had a student loan. One year he racked up over two grand worth a debt. Why, kids like you now probably never even seen so much money.

But I’ve gone too far back, haven’t I? I wanted to tell you about 1996, the last time we elected a Clinton to be President. Times were pretty good, pretty good. We’d almost had a recession the year before, but the bump was so small you could barely notice it. The economy was growing, people were happy, people — even young people like yourselves — all had jobs if they wanted one. Bill Clinton didn’t seem like he was gonna mess any of that up, so we gave him another term. Worked out pretty good, too, except for that impeachment thing, but that was over something so tiny you probably never heard of it. You know how long ago it was when they left office? So long, the Clintons were dead broke at the time. Dead broke. Now Bill flies around on some fancy-schmantzy private airplane called the Lolita Express. Must be nice.

Seems like forever ago, but now we’ve got Hillary — that’s Bill’s wife, not the daughter — running for President. Yep, just like she did that last time almost ten years ago. Like I told you, we gave Bill that second term because he promised us more of the same, but now I see Hillary is running against a bunch of stuff Bill did when he was president, so I just don’t know what she’d get up to.

I know I’ve gone on about old music and shows and people and all the rest, but it doesn’t seem that long ago to me, not really. Why, did you know that the last time we elected a Clinton to the White House, they were both only a little bit older than I am now? Yep, true story.

All this talk has made me thirsty, so you’ll excuse me while I pour a Bartles and Jaymes and have a little shuteye.

Y’all have a good election now.

-Your Friendly Neighborhood VodkaPundit

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

May 4th, 2015 - 8:34 am

USATODAY CHART

Remember when ♡bamaCare!!! was going to result in fewer people visiting the emergency room for non-emergencies? Would you believe exactly the opposite has happened? Of course you would:

A poll released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that 28% of 2,099 doctors surveyed nationally saw large increases in volume, while 47% saw slight increases. By contrast, fewer than half of doctors reported any increases last year in the early days of the Affordable Care Act.

Such hikes run counter to one of the goals of the health care overhaul, which is to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by getting more people insured through Medicaid or subsidized private coverage and providing better access to primary care.

A major reason that hasn’t happened is there simply aren’t enough primary care physicians to handle all the newly insured patients, says ACEP President Mike Gerardi, an emergency physician in New Jersey.

“They don’t have anywhere to go but the emergency room,” he says. “This is what we predicted. We know people come because they have to.”

The ER is required by law to see you, unlike doctors who aren’t reimbursed enough under the Medicaid expansion.

Nothing Special About Baltimore

May 4th, 2015 - 7:27 am

Baltimore business owner Jay Steinmetz writes for the WSJ that daily life in downtown Baltimore is just a “slow-motion version of recent events.”

More:

Graffiti, which anyone with experience in urban policing will affirm is the first sign of trouble, regularly appears on the exterior of our building. From there the range of crimes escalates to burglarizing cars in the parking lot, and breaking and entering our building.

City policies and procedures fail to help employers address these problems—and make them worse. When the building alarm goes off, the police charge us a fee. If the graffiti isn’t removed in a certain amount of time, we are fined. This penalize-first approach is of a piece with Baltimore’s legendary tax and regulatory burden. The real cost of these ill-conceived policies is to the community where we—and other local businesses in similar positions—might be able to hire more of those Baltimoreans who have lost hope of escaping poverty and government dependency.

Escaping government dependency is not the goal of governments like Baltimore’s, or any other Democrat-run major American city.

Well of course they do:

Isis has claimed responsibility for an attack on an anti-Islam art contest in Texas in which an unarmed security guard was blasted in the ankle by fire from automatic rifles and the suspects shot dead by police.

Two heavily-armed men suspected to have been carrying explosives were killed by police after opening fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Dallas, at around 7pm during an controversial event where caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were being displayed.

The SITE Intelligence Group reported that an Islamic State (IS) fighter claimed on Twitter that the shooting was carried out by two pro-Isis individuals.

In a series of tweets and links, a jihadist named as Abu Hussain AlBritani, which SITE said was British IS fighter Junaid Hussain, claimed that ’2 of our brothers just opened fire’ at the Prophet Muhammad exhibition in Texas.

‘They Thought They Was Safe In Texas From The Soldiers of The Islamic State,’ added the tweet.

We’ve probably all entertained notions of how much damage a group like ISIS could do to this country’s psyche with just a few teams of gunmen at shopping malls or the schoolyards.

But they made a mistake, didn’t they, trying to shoot Americans who were on alert. An event like that in a place like Texas — that ain’t Charlie Hebdo, as ISIS just found out yesterday.

Or as Rick Blaine knew 70-plus years ago:

Major Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?

Rick: It’s not particularly my beloved Paris.

Heinz: Can you imagine us in London?

Rick: When you get there, ask me!

Captain Renault: Hmmh! Diplomatist!

Major Strasser: How about New York?

Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

Nowadays we just say “Don’t mess with Texas.”

Big Edit at the New York Times

May 4th, 2015 - 5:12 am

Before turning off the light and going to sleep last night, I sent myself a bookmark from the NYT writeup of that fatal shooting in Texas. What I should have done was screencapped it instead.

Last night, Liam Stack’s story described Pamela Gellar and her American Freedom Defense Initiative as being “anti-Islamist.” This morning, they’re both “anti-Islam.” That’s some big difference. “Islamist” refers to the radicals, the terrorists. “Islam” is the entire religion.

Last night, Stack’s story ended with a quote from Gellar about the security risks she faced, in what read to me like an attempt to make her sound paranoid — even though two gunmen had just shot up her event and a security guard. That graf has now been replaced with this instead:

Ms. Geller described Sunday’s event as pro-free speech, and said that Muslims had become a “special class” that Americans were no longer allowed to offend.

“The media is self-enforcing a Shariah,” she said, referring to Islamic law. “Under the Shariah you cannot criticize or offend Islam.”

The story has been changed so that now Gellar just seems paranoid about media outlets like the NYT, who “self-enforce” in favor of a “special class.”

Well — shouldn’t she be?

Friday Night Videos

May 1st, 2015 - 10:24 pm

Dick Tracy never had a chance — and it’s a shame, too, because Warren Beatty’s 1990 comic book flick is tragically underrated.

The movie left audiences going “Huh?” in part because of Touchstone Pictures’ lousy marketing. Touchstone had hoped to ride the superhero wave launched the year before with Tim Burton’s Batman, with all the usual toy and fast food promotional tie-ins.

But Dick Tracy wasn’t a recently-reimagined (darkly so, by Frank Miller) comic book superhero for kids and teens; he was a comic strip cop trapped (delightfully so) in the 1930s. Touchstone might have had better luck marketing Geritol to surfer dudes.

Leave aside the facts that Touchstone got the marketing wrong and that Beatty directed a big-budget movie with a small potential audience, and what you’re left with is a solidly entertaining and visually arresting comic book movie. And perhaps uniquely, a comic book movie which organically looks like the comic book it came from. Even the color scheme is a perfect reproduction of the three-color printing process from the funny pages. The makeup jobs on the bad guys look as though Beatty waved a magic wand over a comic strip and made it come life. Al Pacino’s Big Boy Caprice, Dustin Hoffman’s Mumbles, and Paul Sorvino’s Lips Manlis make the movie work more than Beatty does as Tracy — in no small part due to the makeup by John Caglione, Jr. and Doug Drexler. They won an Oscar for their work.

Maybe Touchstone thought that having Madonna on hand as nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney would be enough to draw the kids in — which brings us, nearly, to tonight’s song.

Yes, Dick Tracy had Madonna, but it had Madonna singing showtunes. Gloriously, outrageously, incongruously singing showtunes.

Madonna. Via Stephen Sondheim. Brilliant!

Brilliant… except… what young Madonna fan wanted to see Madonna sing showtunes?

Damn few, if box office receipts are anything to judge by.

But the resulting soundtrack — I’m Breathless: Music From And Inspired By “Dick Tracy” — is one of only three Madonna albums that ever enticed me to listen to all the way through. And now and then, I still do.

Tonight’s pick, “More,” has all the clever lyrical and musical tricks you’d expect from Sondheim. It also has a much better vocal performance than you’d expect from Madonna. I mean, she’s actually pretty darn good here, proving that she has the ability to rise up to better material — when she can be bothered to look for better material.

Here’s a bit of that better material:

Once upon a time
I had plenty of nothing which was fine with me
Because I had rhythm, music, love
The sun, the stars and the moon above

Had the clear blue sky and the deep blue sea
That was when the best things in life were free

Then time went by
And now I got plenty of plenty which is fine with me
‘Cause I still got love, I still got rhythm
But look at what I got to go with ‘em

Those last two lines still make me smile, even after a quarter of a century. And so unabashedly materialistic — you think Sondheim would bother writing it today?

While you enjoy the song, I’m going to cue up Dick Tracy on Apple TV and enjoy it in full HD glory. If you’ve never seen it, not only is DT an underrated gem, but it also marks the return of Pacino to his scenery-chewing glory, after spending the ’80s mostly in the wilderness.

Check it out.

News You Can Use

May 1st, 2015 - 2:01 pm

Let’s say you have a rugby player with some missing teeth, a brewery in need of a great ad, and a dentist who might not be entirely ethical. Here’s what you’d certainly do:

The Salta beer ad, created by agency Ogilvy Argentina, documented how the company teamed with an oral surgeon “to reward players who gave everything they’ve got on the field — including their teeth.”

“We decided to give rugby players back the teeth they had lost in battle,” the ad says. “But we weren’t going to give them a simple tooth back we developed a unique dental implant, a specially designed tooth to open beer.”

You know… that’s kinda useful, actually.

Rock You Like a… Cyclone

May 1st, 2015 - 12:19 pm
The U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1), USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Chinook (PC-9) and USS Typhoon (PC-5), transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise in the Persian Gulf.  (Photo courtesy US Navy via Wikipedia)

The U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships assigned to Patrol Coastal Squadron 1 (PCRON 1), USS Hurricane (PC-3), USS Chinook (PC-9) and USS Typhoon (PC-5), transit in formation during a divisional tactics exercise in the Persian Gulf.
(Photo courtesy US Navy via Wikipedia)

The Navy wants to spend billions on an all-new and unproven littoral combat ship, but it already has one — and it’s cheap:

When Iranian forces seized a U.S.-flagged container ship in the Persian Gulf on April 28, for reasons that remain unclear, an American destroyer rushed to the scene, along with three Cyclone-class patrol boats.

These 179-foot-long boats, armed with guns and missiles, are now viewed as among the Navy’s most important ships. Remarkably, they’re also some of the least expensive — setting U.S. taxpayers back just $20 million apiece when the Navy originally bought them in the early 1990s. Most Navy ships — admittedly far larger — cost hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars.

The Cyclones, which each have two 25-millimeter cannons, machine guns, grenade launchers, batteries of short-range anti-ship missiles and shoulder-fired antiaircraft rockets, are cheap because they’re so simple. They don’t have high-tech sensors, complex weapons or experimental equipment and design features. They’re straightforward metal hulls packing lots of simple guns and missiles that rely heavily on their hardworking 28-person crews to function, rather than on fancy automated systems like on many larger vessels.

Build another 20 and base them out of the Philippines as a tripwire force against the Chinese. Build 20 more and stick them in Tallinn, Estonia, to keep an eye on the Russians. Japan could base another 20, and buy or build 20 of their own.

We need combat power in coastal areas, and Cyclone has it. Not lots of power, mind you — but nobody sinks a US Navy ship without expecting the rest of the US Navy to show up for some payback. And with small pricetags and tiny crews, it’s a vessel — speaking in the cold calculus of war — we can afford to lose.

In naval matters, presence matters. “Showing the flag” is a time-honored Navy mission for precisely that reason. It’s difficult to have a global presence with as few ships as we have today, and it’s impossible to build a sizable fleet when even littoral ships cost a jillion dollars.

Then there’s the Cyclone, packing some punch and able to show the flag in contested shallow waters — quickly. Assuming, of course, we had enough of them, and the proper forward bases in which to berth them.

However:

In September 2010, the decision was made to recall all of the remaining ships of the class due to fatigue damage to their hulls. The class was designed for a lifespan of roughly 15 years. All but the newest member of the class, Tornado, have been in service longer. The vessels will be inspected and a decision will be made whether to refit them or to decommission the ships.

These ships are so in demand that they’re on deployment halfway around the world, years after their hulls were deemed “fatigued.”

So we should build more Cyclones, lots more. And don’t gold-plate them with oodles of new equipment they don’t need. Build ‘em fast, build ‘em cheap, and give our Navy some of its presence back.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

May 1st, 2015 - 11:28 am

CNN Money reports what ♡bamaCare!!! opponents have long known, and what ♡bamaCare!!! mandate-customers are painfully learning:

Deductibles, co-payments, and drug payments are higher under the average Obamacare silver-level plans — the most popular — than employer policies, according to a CNNMoney comparison of reports by Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust. The reports looked at policies offered on the exchanges for 2015 and those enrolled in employer plans in 2014.

To be sure, having Obamacare coverage is often better than being uninsured, especially if you rack up big bills through a major illness or accident.

“Often better?” But I thought universal coverage was so fiercely important that Democrats had to shred the Constitution and precedent to pass this law so we could find out what was in it!

But, no, being forced to buy pricy coverage isn’t always better. Minus the (unconstitutional) mandate and (“it’s a tax!”) penalties, a lot of people would be better of paying out-of-pocket, rather than paying Cadillac prices for catastrophic coverage.