September 2nd, 2015 - 7:21 am
(Chart courtesy Heritage Foundation)

(Chart courtesy Heritage Foundation)

Heritage busts union claims that Right-to-Work laws harm worker:

Unions and their advocates argue that, by reducing their membership, RTW laws reduce wages. They claim that weakening union power reduces the pressure on businesses to pay more.

In its new study, The Heritage Foundation has replicated the research that unions and some economists use to support that claim, and has found it fundamentally flawed, as it only partially controlled for cost-of-living differences among states.[2] Using the same model but fully controlling for price differences shows that RTW laws have no effect on private-sector workers’ purchasing power. Heritage did find that government employees make approximately 5 percent less in RTW states.

Unions remain stuck in the New Deal fallacy that the way to riches is to make everything more expensive.

Carded for Coke

September 2nd, 2015 - 6:10 am

Deep in your heart you had to know this was coming:

New York State Assemblyman Matthew Titone, D-Staten Island, has proposed legislation that would ban the sale of sugary drinks 16 ounces or larger to minors across the state.

That means, yes, you’d have to show ID before buying a bottle of cola.

Though minors couldn’t buy soda on their own, adults could do it for them, Titone told reporters when he announced the bill.

“If the adult buys it for the minor, that’s fine. That’s a parent or a guardian making an informed decision,” Titone said, according to reports from CBS-2 in New York. “We allow children to see G-rated movies on their own, but they can’t see R-rated movies on their own. It’s the same concept,” he said.

Kids can’t play outdoors by themselves, they can’t ride bikes without enough protective gear for a week on Mars, and now we have to stop them from buying soda.

These are Heinlein’s Crazy Years — we just live in them.

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Ashe Schow says that Hillary has nowhere to go but down:

It is when Clinton is not in the spotlight that she is most popular. That may sound like a sexist “women should be seen not heard” observation, but it is a problem unique to Hillary. The same issue does not and has not existed for other First Ladies such as Laura Bush or Michelle Obama, although they haven’t sought office after leaving the White House as Clinton has.

Since the digital age allowed Americans greater access to the First Lady, their approval ratings have been high. Clinton, the first digital-age First Lady, did not register the same approval ratings as Ms. Bush or Ms. Obama, and her negatives were always two to three times that of her successors, reaching a high of 40 percent in January 1995. Conversely, Ms. Bush’s highest disapproval rating was 13 percent, and Ms. Obama’s highest was 8 percent. Neither Ms. Bush nor Ms. Obama’s approval rating fell below 60 percent during their time in office, while Clinton’s did – to 54 percent in 1995. That’s obviously still high, but it is low for First Ladies.

Currently, Clinton’s favorable rating is a dismal 39 percent, while her unfavorable rating sits at 51 percent. At this point in the 2008 election, Clinton’s favorability rating was at 55 percent.

People are waking up to the fact that Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Oh, and send Ashe a big congrats for her new gig at

Thought for the Day

September 1st, 2015 - 4:45 pm

China on the Brink

September 1st, 2015 - 1:45 pm

ZeroHedge reports on China’s brand-spankin-new currency control:

Overnight, China decided to take steps to reduce “macro financial risks.”

And by that they mean “do something quick to help ease pressure on the yuan” and by extension, on the PBoC’s rapidly depleting FX reserves.

To that end, starting October 15 banks will have to hold the equivalent of 20% of clients’ FX forward positions with the PBoC, where the money will sit, frozen, for a year, at 0% interest.

Obviously, that will drive up the cost of taking speculative positions which the PBoC hopes will help narrow the gap between onshore and offshore yuan and bring down volatility, although the degree to which this will help fill the CNY-CNH spread looks like an open question.

“It’s a move to ease the reduction in foreign-exchange reserves,” Tommy Ong, managing director for treasury and markets at DBS Bank Hong Kong, tells Bloomberg. “It will also remove lots of speculative trades that aim at short-term gains as the reserves have a minimum lock-up period of one year,” adds Stan Chart’s Becky Liu.

Currency controls are a bad, bad sign for any economy. In one the size of China’s…

Buy canned goods and ammo.

Sign “O” the Times

September 1st, 2015 - 1:39 pm
United States President Barack Obama delivers remarks after meeting with members of his national security team concerning ISIS. From left, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. David Rodriguez, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph L. Votel. President Obama recieves an update on ISIS at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, America - 06 Jul 2015 (Rex Features via AP Images)

United States President Barack Obama delivers remarks after meeting with members of his national security team concerning ISIS. From left, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. David Rodriguez, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph L. Votel. President Obama recieves an update on ISIS at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, America – 06 Jul 2015 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Special Forces morale is plummeting as White House rules interfere with their mission and unjustly ends promising careers:

In recent months, the Army has disciplined, admonished and ended the careers of a number of Green Berets for actions that the soldiers themselves believe were part of combating an evil enemy. Pristine standards for fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda are not achievable, some in the community say.

“There is certainly a belief that upper echelons of leadership have morphed into political positions, and leaders are a lot less willing to risk their own career to support their soldiers,” Danny Quinn, a former Green Beret team leader and West Point graduate, told The Washington Times.

Examples abound.

Read the whole thing.

Saudis Ask Fox to Guard Henhouse

September 1st, 2015 - 12:26 pm
Jordan's Prince Faisal bin Al-Hussein, right, and Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the way to meeting Jordan's King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (Muhammad Hamed / Pool Photo via AP)

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin Al-Hussein, right, and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the way to meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (Muhammad Hamed / Pool Photo via AP)

One of the richest potentates in the world will come to the White House begging:

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s three-day visit, strategically scheduled just days before Congress votes on the agreement, offers the Saudi leader a powerful platform to insist that the United States help combat Iranian “mischief.” The king is seeking assurances in the fight against Iran’s proxies across the region, as well as with elements of the nuclear deal itself.

The visit “underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Aug. 27.

“The president and the king will discuss a range of issues and focus on ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, including our joint security and counterterrorism efforts,” Earnest said. “They will also discuss regional topics, including the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and steps to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

Assuming the deal goes through, Iran will suddenly become $150,000,000,000 richer, with more to come.

That kind of money can buy an awful lot of “mischief,” which to me is the main reason to oppose the deal. The question isn’t if Iran goes nuclear, but when. The key concern then is containment, which becomes nearly impossible after the sanctions regime is removed.

Required Reading

September 1st, 2015 - 11:44 am

John Schindler exposes Wikileaks as a front for Russian intelligence:

Evidence that Wikileaks is not what it seems to be has mounted over the years. Assange’s RT show didn’t help matters, neither did the fact that, despite having claimed to possess secret Russian intelligence files, Wikileaks has never exposed anything sensitive, as they have done with the purloined files of many other countries. To say nothing of Assange & Co. taking unmistakably pro-Russian positions on a host of controversial issues. Questions logically followed.

Now answers are appearing.

Read the whole thing.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

September 1st, 2015 - 10:38 am
(Photo courtesy

(Photo courtesy

Does anybody really care? Apparently so, if an iMore user survey means anything.

While trying to divine Apple Watch sales is still a fool’s game, but according to that survey, the people who do own them actually use them — a lot.


93% of those who took the iMore survey wear the Apple Watch 5 or more days a week. 95% wear their Apple Watch for 8 hours or more a day and 79% wear it for 12 hours or more a day. Next we asked which features are most important to our readers.

98% say notifications are the most important.
84% say timekeeping.
77% say health and fitness.
72% say communications.
44% say Apple Pay and Passbook.
42% say information lookup (calendar, maps, stocks, weather, etc.).
23% say remote control or home automation.

Mine became my go-to device almost immediately, replacing my phone in nearly every instance that I don’t actually need the bigger screen or non-Watch functional apps.

I’m curious to see how that compares to Android Wear and Pebble. Android Wear isn’t yet selling in huge numbers (although that should change before too long), and Pebble has a serious hardcore user set.

It’s a big move, and probably a smart one:

In a blog post this weekend, the company’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, explained that “a number of high profile” movies will leave the service next month as a result of Netflix’s decision not to renew the partnership. Films affected include ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, ‘World War Z’ and ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’, which viewers have until the end of September to watch.

“While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods. Through our original films and some innovative licensing arrangements with the movie studios, we are aiming to build a better movie experience for you,” Sarandos wrote.

Saving money on blockbusters you can see anywhere in favor of spending more money on exclusives you can’t makes a lot of business sense — especially if Netflix can maintain decent quality.

It also fits in with their CEO’s stated goal of “becoming HBO before HBO becomes us.”

Shannon Miles is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Houston. Miles has been charged with capital murder in the death of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth. He is being held without bond. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Shannon Miles is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Houston. Miles has been charged with capital murder in the death of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth. He is being held without bond. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)


The suspect in the slaying of Texas deputy Darren Goforth was found mentally incompetent in 2012 to stand trial on a felony assault charge, a prosecutor said Monday.

About three years ago, Shannon J. Miles was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after fighting a man at an Austin homeless shelter over the television remote control, said Joe Frederick, a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas.

Miles kicked and punched the victim, injuring his face, back and head, Frederick said. The deadly weapon used in the assault was his hands.

Before trial, Miles was found mentally incompetent and sent to Vernon State Mental Hospital for six months, Frederick said. He was determined to be competent and sent back to Travis County for trial, but prosecutors could not find the assault victim and the case was dropped, Frederick said.

We have deluded people freeing crazy people to be turned into killers by bad people.

Somewhere between the horrors and cruelties of early “mental health” asylums and today’s Let Them All Go policy there must lie something both compassionate to the incompetent and safe for society.


September 1st, 2015 - 7:19 am
"Catch me if you can." (AP photo)

“Catch me if you can.”
(AP photo)

The latest from investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson:

The newly-released batch of Hillary Clinton emails provides further proof that Freedom of Information (FOI) law has been blatantly violated. The documents include material directly responsive to a FOI request I made back in 2012 after the Benghazi terrorist attacks on the U.S. compounds. However, the material was not produced at the time, as required by law. Once again, there appears to be nobody who holds government officials and agencies accountable for their routine violation of this law. So the infractions occur frequently and with impunity. If nobody polices our government officials and agencies–if they are above the law–then how does a lawful society function?

Click here to view the WSJ database of emails. One of the many emails that should have been provided under FOI in 2012, but was not, is to Clinton from Huma Abedin on Sept. 14, 2012. Others include Clinton communications on Benghazi with her chief aide Cheryl Mills.

Then there’s this:

Read the email. Check the date.

Hillary Clinton, I don’t hesitate to add, belongs in jail.



If today turns out to be as full of these revelations as I think, I’ll make this post sticky.


I don’t know how she survives this.

Actually I do, but it’s difficult even for my jaded self to be quite that cynical.

THIS NEXT EMAIL isn’t quite as shattering as the first three, but it does raise a fascinating question about Huma, her priorities, and her relationship with the Secretary of State:

Let’s go to our friends at Think Progress (“Two Lies in One Name!™”) for the progressive take on what happened when Walmart unilaterally raised the minimum wage for its employees:

One anonymous Walmart worker near Houston told Bloomberg that her store had cut more than 200 hours a week by asking people to go home early. Another in Fort Worth was told that the store would cut 1,500 hours and said that employees who had been asked to stay late for extra work earlier in the week were told to take two-hour lunch breaks later on to make up for those hours.

In February, Walmart announced that it would raise its base pay to at least $9 an hour by April and $10 an hour by early next year, increasing wages for about 500,000 employees and spending more than $1 billion on the effort. At the time, the CEO said the company expected those changes to lower employee turnover and attract better talent, as well as to lead to better customer service that would boost sales.

But earlier this month, the company lowered its annual earnings forecast based in part on the higher cost of employee compensation. It had originally said the cost of higher pay would reduce profit by 20 cents per stock share, but then revised that to 24 cents a share.

Writer Bryce Covert* insists that hiking wages without a commensurate increase in productivity is somehow akin to “long-term investments that don’t pay off as quickly but can increase growth in the long run.” How that is supposed to work is best left to the fevered dreams of progressives.

Meanwhile, here’s how it’s playing out for actual Walmart employees:

GOOD NEWS: You’re getting a raise.

BAD NEWS: Your hours are getting cut.

GOOD NEWS: Your pay works out about the same.

BAD NEWS: Fewer hours mean you no longer qualify for benefits.

Entry level work sucks because it’s entry level — and that’s before well-meaning lefties start screwing with it.

What If You Won the Lottery But Nobody Paid?

September 1st, 2015 - 5:23 am
(Shutterstock image)

(Shutterstock image)

That’s what happened in Illinois:

Danny Chasteen and his girlfriend, Susan Rick, thought they had gotten their big break last month when Chasteen won $250,000 from the Illinois Lottery. Instead, they got an IOU.

The Chicago Tribune reported that disbursements of Illinois Lottery winnings of more than $25,000 have been halted because the state doesn’t have a budget.

“For the first time, we were finally gonna get a break,” Rick said. “And now the Illinois Lottery has kind of messed everything up.”

Under state law, checks for such winnings must be cut by the state comptroller’s office and, since lawmakers have yet to approve a budget, the office cannot release those funds, the newspaper said.

Chasteen and Rick had better hope the comptroller makes good on that IOU before lawmakers find some better use for other people’s money.

Thought for the Day

August 31st, 2015 - 4:52 pm

Scenes from a Detroit Courtroom

August 31st, 2015 - 2:05 pm

A horrible case with a sweet touch of real justice at its conclusion:

•Jasmine Gordon, 25, and her boyfriend Clifford Thomas, 34, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 3-year-old Jamila

•On Friday, Jamila’s biological father Dwayne Smith was set to give a victim impact statement in Detroit, Michigan court

•Instead of addressing his daughter’s mother and her boyfriend, he punched Thomas from behind

•Sheriff’s deputies had to intervene to keep the two men apart

•Court later resumed and Gordon and Thomas were sentenced; the judge declined to hold Smith in contempt of court for the outburst

About that last bullet point, sometimes justice can still be blind.

You, Me, and B-3

August 31st, 2015 - 1:46 pm
(Rendering courtesy Northrop-Grumman)

(Rendering courtesy Northrop-Grumman)

Cost overruns already plague the Air Force’s top secret follow-on to the B-2 Spirit stealth heavy bomber:

The problem began last year, when the service told Congress the yet-to-be-built Long-Range Strike Bomber would cost $33.1 billion between 2015 and 2025. It recently updated the estimate (from 2016 to 2026) to $58.4 billion—a hike of $25.3 billion, or 76%.

That works out to a swing of $169 for each of the roughly 150 million Americans who file federal tax returns. But, the Air Force acknowledged last week, the latest cost estimate to develop and buy the aircraft over the coming decade is pegged at $41.7 billion. Apparently, the fledgling stealth bomber can elude fiscal reckoning as well as enemy radar.

An extra $169 over ten years to fund the latest and greatest and invisiblest bomber ever?

Can I just write a check right now?

Compared to most of the places my tax dollars go, this one’s a bargain.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 31st, 2015 - 12:38 pm

Politico just now noticed that the ♡bamaCare!!! Cadillac tax* “could wreck popular medical accounts.”

Since I’ve already used “no s***, Sherlock” once today, I’ll just quote you Politico’s belated take:

Flexible spending accounts, which allow people to save their own money tax free for everything from doctor’s co-pays to eyeglasses, may vanish in coming years as companies scramble to avoid the law’s 40 percent levy on pricey health care benefits.

“They’ll be one of the first things to go,” said Rich Stover, a health care actuary and principal at Buck Consultants, an employee benefits consulting firm. “It’s a death knell for them. If the Cadillac tax doesn’t change, FSAs will go away very quickly.”

That fact alone could dramatically alter the political equation surrounding Obamacare, potentially blindsiding middle-class voters who may be only vaguely aware of the Cadillac tax.

This comes from Politico’s Brian Faler, who presumably spent January 2009 through July 2015 in some kind of coma.

EXIT QUESTION: If middle class voters are only “vaguely aware” of a great big tax aimed right at their health insurance plan, where might a political news service — named, say, “Politico” — most fairly place the blame for such ignorance?

Just Gimme One More Hit of ZIRP, Man

August 31st, 2015 - 11:16 am

CNN’s Virginia Harrison boldly proclaims that the “world is still hooked on cheap money.”

Or as we used to say in high school back in the ’80s, “No s***, Sherlock?*”

Harrison comes close to desiring the crux of the problem, but never quite fleshes it out — perhaps to keep her readers from repeating that 1929 classic sporting event, the Wall Street Swan Dive. Here’s as close as she gets:

Central banks in Canada, India, Australia, and Norway have cut interest rates this year and most of those countries are expected to ease further. Rates in Switzerland have languished in negative territory since late last year. And policymakers in Europe and Japan are printing money as a tool to support growth.

The efforts illustrate cracks in the world economy. Five of the seven biggest economies are in cheap money mode, while the U.S. and the U.K. remain stuck in neutral — at least for now.

The U.S. was on track to raise rates as early as next month, but the problems plaguing China and rest of world may put that off. On Wednesday, president of the New York Federal Reserve William Dudley poured cold water on an imminent rate rise, though more clues could come this week when Fed policymakers gather for their annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here’s the fleshier version.

Our economic problems are global, but the roots are strongest in just two places — Washington and Beijing.

The Fed (and previously Congress) pumps cheap money to keep the economy afloat, hoping for a mild bout of inflation to cure the “disease” of business hoarding cash instead of spending it, and to inflate away that other teensy problem called the national debt.

China pumps cheap money to keep the jobs machine working overtime, hoping to continue papering over decades of malinvestment, and to keep the export sector thriving. China also has the teensy problem of needing to create 15-20 million jobs each and every year, to prevent city-bound peasants from revolting against the regime.

The Fed keep trying to inflate, but China keeps exporting deflation to us in the form of cheap goods. Should the Fed raise rates here, like they keep threatening to do, the capital flight from China would create a credit crunch China can’t afford — which would likely bring down the global economy in yet another deflationary spiral.

Meanwhile, the Fed’s cheap money encourages speculative, bubble investing, and China’s cheap money encourages continued malinvestment and overproduction of export goods.

The two biggest economies in the world are run by drug pushers, and everybody’s an addict.


Iran Cheating Already?

August 31st, 2015 - 10:09 am

That didn’t take long:

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog — indicates Iran is in broad compliance with its nuclear commitments, but also notes with concern indications of construction activity at the Parchin military site, where Iran is suspected of having carried out covert nuclear-related activities in the past.

The document — part of the agency’s routine review of Iran’s program — states that the IAEA “has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment and probable construction materials.”

“In addition,” the report continues, “a small extension to an existing building appears to have been constructed.”

Critics of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran are likely to seize on this detail of the report.

Ya think?

But don’t believe those crazy critics for even a moment. Iran sent one of their top men — top men! — to check it out, and he swears everything is on the up-and-up.

Scenes from the Central Valley

August 31st, 2015 - 9:59 am


Maria Marquez, a 50-year-old widow, panicked when her shower abruptly ended in June 2014. They couldn’t afford to move, and who would buy a house without running water? Drilling her own new well would cost more than years of earnings from the food truck where she works.

Unlike Lozano, who rents his home, Marquez was eligible as a homeowner to get a tank installed for washing and flushing, to be filled each Monday by a county truck, as well as bottled water for drinking and cooking through California’s $3.7 billion drought relief program, which includes $38 million for drinking water and tanks.

“It’s our home,” said her daughter Judy Munoz, 26. “She doesn’t want to leave it behind.”

California is John Steinbeck novel — again.

REPORT: ISIS “Growing Like Crazy”

August 31st, 2015 - 8:44 am

Free Beacon has the story via NBC News:

Despite recent developments with Turkey allowing the U.S. to conduct strikes from their bases, the radical Islamic caliphate is showing strong resistance, and their numbers continue to multiply.

“To quote one U.S. official, ISIS’s international branches are growing like crazy,” Engel said on Meet the Press. “ISIS has spread rapidly across north and west Africa, Arabia, Afghanistan, even into the far east. ISIS has expanded far more quickly and extensively than al Qaeda ever did.”

Engel noted the struggles of training the Iraqi army, training Syrian rebels and the inability of air strikes to make a significant dent in IS numbers.

Obama originally referred to the group as the “JV team” and downplayed their threat to Americans.

I’ll just leave things be with that last line.

Venezuela Passes the Buck to Colombia

August 31st, 2015 - 7:20 am

StrategyPage reports on the deteriorating situation down south:

The economic collapse in Venezuela and the inability of the government there to do anything about it has led to Venezuela blaming Colombia and closing a major border crossing in northeast Colombia. Ambassadors have been recalled and Venezuela is expelling thousands of Colombians who live on the Venezuelan side of the border. Over 7,000 Colombians have left since the expulsion order on the 21st. Venezuela also blames its record high murder rate (and most other crime) on Colombian gangs, even though most of this crime occurs far from the border where there are few Colombians and most of the perpetrators who are caught turn out to be Venezuelans.

The reality is different. There is lots of legal trade across the border, much of it involving food. Most of the trade is from Colombia to Venezuela. The primary legal items coming into Colombia from Venezuela are industrial products (steel, iron, chemical products and petroleum products). This trade has been declining because of the collapse of the Venezuelan economy and the shortage of foreign currency to pay for imports. The food is desperately needed, mainly because of the illegal export of subsidized food to Colombia. Closing the border will slow down (because the main roads can no longer be used) but not disappear. It is too lucrative for the smuggling gangs and corrupt Venezuelan officials who make it work.

The further any economic activity is driven underground, the less efficient trade becomes and costs and prices are forced ever higher.

This is something Venezuela is going to have to relearn the hard way, in an economy already teetering on the edge of hyperinflation.

Bring Back the Battleship?

August 31st, 2015 - 6:29 am

It’s a question we’ve been asking now and then, probably since Montana-class super-battleship contraction was abandoned during WWII, in favor of more aircraft carriers. Still, the issue remains ripe as we continue to look for ways to add more firepower and survivability to our shrinking Navy.

Robert Farley puts it this way in The National Interest:

With the advent of the age of airpower (and missile power), size no longer dramatically increased lethality for surface warships. At the same time, a proliferation of threats made ensuring survivability more difficult. The huge battleships of the Second World War could not survive concerted air and submarine attack, and could not punch back at sufficient range to justify their main armament. Except for aircraft carriers, where lethality still increased with size, naval architecture took a turn for the petite. The chief surface ships of the U.S. Navy (USN) today displace less than a quarter that of the battleships of World War II.

But what about a big ship with a 20th Century-style 16-ince cold-rolled hull, for a ship bristling with 21st Century active and passive defenses? That’s where the discussion heats up:

The biggest reason to build big ships may be the promise of electricity generation. The most interesting innovations in naval technology involve sensors, unmanned technology, lasers, and railguns, most of which are power intensive. Larger ships can generate more power, increasing not only their lethality (rail guns, sensors) but also their survivability (anti-missile lasers, defensive sensor technologies, close-defense systems). The missile magazines that large ships can carry although them to draw together these elements and lethality and survivability better than their smaller counterparts.

What about a true successor to the classic battleship, designed to both deal out and absorb punishment? Advances in materials design have certainly increased the ability of other military systems (most notably the tank) to survive punishment, and a serious effort to create an armored ship would undoubtedly result in a well-protected vessel. The problem is that passive systems need to protect a ship from a wide range of different attacks, including cruise missiles, torpedoes, ballistic missiles, and long-range guns. Keeping a ship well-protected from these threats, all of which it could anticipate facing in an anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) situation, would likely prove cost-prohibitive.

There’s also the issue of shipbuilding capacity, which is able to cope with our current, lackadaisical procurement rate, but lacks the trained workers or facilities for much more.

But we do still have four perfectly good Iowa-class hulls. We brought them back into service for a brief time during the ’80s and early ’90s, modernized with Harpoon missiles, advanced radar, and all the current goodies.

Why not bring them back once more — only more thoroughly modernized? As I think we’ve discussed here before, it wouldn’t be easy or cheap, but it might be doable.

Remove the armored deck and take out the insides, including those big diesels. Drop in three or four of the Navy’s tiny, long-lived A1B reactors from the Ford-class CVNs, then replace the armored deck and festoon it with AEGIS radar sets and enough fricken laser beams to melt the Moon.

I’m not sure I’m kidding about this, either.

Pentagon Won’t Target ISIS Training Camps

August 31st, 2015 - 5:15 am

ISIS camps produce about 1,000 new trained fighters each month, but we aren’t bombing them for fear of collateral damage:

The camps are spread throughout Islamic State-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria and are off limits in the U.S.-led international bombing campaign because of concerns about collateral damage, said officials familiar with planning and execution of the yearlong bombing campaign.

Additionally, the IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) camps have been so successful that Islamic State leaders are considering expanding the camps to Libya and Yemen. Both states have become largely ungoverned areas in recent years.

The failure to target the training camps with U.S. and allied airstrikes is raising questions among some defense and intelligence officials about the commitment of President Obama and his senior aides to the current anti-IS strategy of degrading and ultimately destroying the terror group.

“If we know the location of these camps, and the president wants to destroy ISIS, why are the camps still functioning?” one official critical of the policy asked.

It’s better to judge a person by their actions rather than by their words.

Now I don’t actually believe President Obama is pro-ISIS — that would fly in the face of six years of him behaving objectively in Iran’s favor. But I do think he’d rather let Iraq sink into further chaos than risk even a little bad press for causing any collateral damage near the camps — and he knows he won’t take any blame for the targeted damage those fighters will cause once their training is complete.

There’s also a more out-there case to be made that the chaos in Iraq fits in with Obama’s (Jarrett’s?) broader ambitions for Iran. Defeating ISIS is going to take boots on the ground, and already some of those boots belong to Iranian soldiers. Who’s to say that they ever leave, and effectively* annex much of the Shi’ite provinces of Iraq to Shi’ite Iran?

It wouldn’t be easy. Co-religionisists aside, there’s still the age-old ethnic hatred between Persians and Arabs. But an Iran flush with $150,000,000,000 and trade deals flooding in from Europe, Russia, and China might just be able to pull it off.

An enlarged, enriched, emboldened, and nuclear-armed Iran might prove to be Obama’s truly lasting foreign policy legacy.

I’m Addicted to Trump

August 29th, 2015 - 11:13 am

Bolivian marching powder no more. (Shutterstock photo)

Bolivian marching powder no more.
(Shutterstock photo)

When the US Drug Enforcement Agency was unceremoniously told to get the heck out of Bolivia, the usual hand wringers wrung their hands over another big loss in the Drug War. But now there’s this:

After the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was kicked out of Bolivia, the country was able to drastically reduce the amount of coca (cocaine) produced within its borders. According to data released by the United Nations, cocaine production in the country declined by 11% in the past year, marking the fourth year in a row of steady decrease.

It was just seven years ago that the DEA left Bolivia — and only three years after that, progress was finally made. The strategy employed by the Bolivian government may be a surprise to many prohibitionists because it did not involve any strong-arm police state tactics. Instead, they worked to find alternative crops for farmers to grow that would actually make them more money.

Read the whole thing.

You can’t fight drugs with strong-arm prohibition tactics, any more than they worked against alcohol in the 1920s.

Imagine what we could do here if we kicked the DEA out of this country.

You Had One Job, Jeb

August 29th, 2015 - 6:51 am
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaks to supporters at a town hall meeting, Friday, Aug. 28 2015 in Norfolk, Va. (AP Photo/Jason Hirschfeld)

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaks to supporters at a town hall meeting, Friday, Aug. 28 2015 in Norfolk, Va. (AP Photo/Jason Hirschfeld)

No matter what might happen in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, there was one early primary Jeb Bush was going to easily win: The money primary.


Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly parted ways with his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy, POLITICO has learned.

There are different versions of what transpired. The Florida-based fundraising consultants — Kris Money, Trey McCarley, and Debbie Alexander — have said that they voluntarily quit the campaign and were still working with Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise Super PAC. Others said the three, who worked under the same contract, were let go because they were no longer needed for the current phase of the campaign.

Politico’s source inside the Bush campaign said “personality conflicts” were to blame and that “they were glad to go.”

Regardless, you don’t usually read these stories coming out of well-oiled, winning campaigns.

Friday Night Videos

August 28th, 2015 - 10:14 pm

Summer of Covers does the walk of shame!

I’d always enjoyed Juice Newton’s “Angel Of The Morning” as nothing more than a bittersweet love song. Or perhaps some of my enjoyment was a result of Helsinki Syndrome — the song went to Number One in 1982, part of a time I spent listening to a lot of Top 40 radio. And by “a lot” I mean I’m not sure I ever turned it off, except to watch NBC’s original Friday Night Videos after Carson signed off for the night.

It wasn’t until more recently that I realized that the “bittersweet love song” was actually about a one night stand followed by the inevitable walk of shame:

There’ll be no strings to bind your hands
Not if my love can’t bind your heart
There’s no need to take a stand
For it was I who chose to start

I see no need to take me home
I’m old enough to face the dawn

And Juice always seemed like such a nice girl — I kid, I kid.

What I didn’t realize until this week was that “Angel” wasn’t originally a Juice Newton song at all. Written by Chip Taylor, Evie Sands was the first to record it in 1967, but it wouldn’t generate a hit single until Merrilee Rush took a stab at it the following year. Between then and Newton’s ’82 record, it looks like at least half a dozen artists made covers of their own — and so I’m not sure exactly how I managed to miss it completely during my musical coming-of-age during the ’70s.

Chalk it up to bad luck, because it really is a lovely song.

I never owned a copy, so after a number of years it became just another one of those songs I used to listen to sometimes — still a pleasure, but a half-forgotten one. Then Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) performed it at Central Perk in a cameo appearance of the second season of Friends. The performance was great, her little scene opposite Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe was charming, and so I went out bought what I thought were “both” versions of “Angel.” This of course was back in the day when we went out to buy music.

Tonight you get Chrissie Hynde’s cover of a cover of a cover of a cover. But my mission this weekend is to locate and download the others before I half-forget the song again.

Because walk or not, that would be the real shame.

Thought for the Day

August 28th, 2015 - 4:06 pm


An FBI “A-team” is leading the “extremely serious” investigation into Hillary Clinton’s server and the focus includes a provision of the law pertaining to “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information,” an intelligence source told Fox News.

The section of the Espionage Act is known as 18 US Code 793.

A separate source, who also was not authorized to speak on the record, said the FBI will further determine whether Clinton should have known, based on the quality and detail of the material, that emails passing through her server contained classified information regardless of the markings. The campaign’s standard defense and that of Clinton is that she “never sent nor received any email that was marked classified” at the time.

…Stuff… just got real.