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Gray Lady Calls for White House Shakeup

October 30th, 2014 - 6:21 am

It looks like our friends at the NYT are trying to get ahead of the White House Disaster Curve, because even if the Dems steal a win next week, it’s obvious to everybody that the final quarter of the Obama Administration is going to require some fresh faces:

At a time when the Obama administration is lurching from crisis to crisis — a new Cold War in Europe, a brutal Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and a deadly epidemic in West Africa, to name just the most obvious ones — it is not surprising that long-term strategy would take a back seat. But it raises inevitable questions about the ability of the president and his hard-pressed national security team to manage and somehow get ahead of the daily onslaught of events.

Early stumbles in the government’s handling of the Ebola crisis as well as its belated response to the Islamic State have fueled speculation that Mr. Obama may shake up his team, which is stocked with battle-tested but exhausted White House loyalists and cabinet members, like Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who are viewed as less cohesive than the “team of rivals” in Mr. Obama’s first cabinet. George W. Bush took that route after the bruising midterm elections in 2006, when he dismissed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

First, take notice of the de rigueur “But Booosh!” in the second graf. NYT readers may nod their heads sagely at the reminder that whatever terrible thing might befall Teh Won, it first happened to Bush but worse.

Second, I do love the use of the phrase “battle-tested” to describe Obama’s “loyalists” and cabinet members. “Battle-test and found wanting” would have been closer to the truth, but undoubtedly too wordy when the real point of that graf was to comfort readers with the “But Booosh!”

If the Dems don’t manage to steal a win next week, then things will get seriously ugly.

Seriously, deliciously, delightfully, schadenfreudelly ugly.

Ace calls it a “schadenboner,” and who am I to disagree?

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 30th, 2014 - 5:14 am

SHOCKED

About those millennials who are giving up on the Democrats

Average insurance premiums in the sought-after 23-year-old demographic rose most dramatically, with men in that age group seeing an average 78.2 percent price increase before factoring in government subsidies, and women having their premiums rise 44.9 percent, according to a report by HealthPocket scheduled for release Wednesday.

The study, which was shared Tuesday with The Washington Times, examined average health insurance premiums before the implementation of Obamacare in 2013 and then afterward in 2014. The research focused on people of three ages — 23, 30 and 63 — using data for nonsmoking men and women with no spouses or children.

This next bit is, if I’m choosing the right adjective, rich:

“It’s very eye-opening in terms of the transformation occurring within the individual health insurance market,” said Kev Coleman, head of research and data at HealthPocket, a nonpartisan, independently managed subsidiary of Health Insurance Innovations in Sunnyvale, California.

“I was surprised in general to see the differences in terms of the average premiums in the pre-reform and post-reform markets,” Mr. Coleman said. “It was a higher amount than I had anticipated.”

What part exactly of requiring wider benefits and most people will never use or not charging sick people more than healthy people was supposed to decrease costs for the young.

And how did so-called experts miss this teensy little fact?

CurrentC is even worse than I thought:

After you’ve launched CurrentC you’re given two options: I Have An Invitation or I Need An Invitation. If you tap I Have An Invitation you’ll be asked for your email address and ZIP code. Entering an email that hasn’t been invited yet will kick you back to the first screen and give you a message saying they’ll let you know when CurrentC is available in your area. A concerning behavior I saw here is that regardless of what email you enter, CurrentC’s service will respond with a large dictionary of user data.

connectc_03

Now, I have to stress here, I never got CurrentC to return me a real user’s data. However, the fact that these fields exist is a good indicator that CurrentC plans to collect this data, and also why on Earth would you ever return these fields without any sort of authentication first? I never hit on an email that appeared to be a valid account, but I was honestly too nervous to keep trying given the data it seemed eager to send back.

Your CurrentC account, I should add, is tied directly to your checking account. This is ripe for all kinds of abuse, the least of which is all the tracking MCX retailers will put on you.

ONE MORE THING: They just got hacked. Read:

On Wednesday, those taking part in the CurrentC pilot program received a warning from the consortium of anti-credit-card retailers called MCX, or Merchant Consumer Exchange: The program was hacked in the last 36 hours, and criminals managed to grab the email addresses of anyone who signed up for the program.

MCX confirmed the hack, adding what’s become a go-to line for any company that loses your data: “We take the security of our users’ information extremely seriously.”

It’s a rough start for an app that aims to be a competitor to Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Over a million people happily gave their credit card numbers to Apple Pay in the first 72 hours, instantly making it bigger than every other e-payment system combined. It doesn’t seem likely that people will be lining up virtually to hand over their Social Security and checking account numbers to CurrentC.

Run Away! Run Away!

October 29th, 2014 - 2:14 pm

RUN AWAY

Running away from Bush worked so well for the GOP eight years ago, didn’t it? Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom isn’t making things easier for his own Senate caucus when he insists that while he isn’t on the ballot this year, his agenda is. But read past the headline to learn of Wiggleroom’s exasperation:

With so many Democrats trying to suggest a distance from Obama that doesn’t exist, Axelrod added, it’s natural for the president and his team “to be a little frustrated.”

Another senior Democrat who advises the White House, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the current feeling among Obama and his aides is “exasperation.”

“He doesn’t think they have any reason to run away from him,” the adviser said. “He thinks there is a strong message there.”

Because that’s what Valerie tells him.

GRRRRREAT

The Nanny State sees all, even things that aren’t there:

“You could tell straight away it wasn’t a real tiger,” says Andrew Holland, describing a video sent to him of a man in a tiger suit having sex with a woman. “Right from the word go, the tiger was talking.”

Unfortunately for Andrew, a 51-year-old bus driver from Wrexham, North Wales, police and prosecutors didn’t pick up on this subtle clue. Instead, they claimed the video was of a woman having sex with a real tiger (again, it was not a real tiger; it was a human man dressed as a tiger) and charged Andrew with possession of extreme pornography.

As he was the first person to fall foul of this offense under the recently amended Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, prosecutors were determined to make an example of him. That, coupled with the fact that “MAN FOUND WITH TIGER PORN” is a very clickable headline, effectively meant Andrew’s life was ruined from the second he was taken into custody.

He pleaded innocence, telling police, “It was a joke; my mate sent it to me. It’s not a real tiger—real tigers don’t say, ‘That was grrrreat.’”

Andrew has faced two sets of charges, “lost his job, suffered a heart attack, and, after being branded a pedophile, been physically assaulted several times.”

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

Too Cool for School

October 29th, 2014 - 12:55 pm

SWEATY

Millennials are abandoning Obama and the Democrats:

A new and massive poll of 2,029 18- to 29-year-olds from Harvard’s Institute of Politics just released found that of those who say they will “definitely be voting,” 51 percent want the GOP in charge, 47 percent favoring Democratic control.

The unexpected anti-Democratic swing prompted a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter quizzing poll experts on a media conference call to IOP blurted out, “How did the Democrats and Obama screw this up?”

All I have to say to the shocked reporter is, “Look around you, dumbass.”

But then I’d return to my normally polite self and thank them graciously for showing their true colors.

There is more to this story however than just a bitter laugh. Democrats’ big gains in the second half of the first decade of the 21st Century came from lopsided strength among single women, blacks, Latinos, and young voters. It does’t take a huge swing from those groups, or even just staying home*, to cause big electoral swings. We’re seeing cracks in three of those four groups (single women seem to be the exception), which is why I still believe the next two cycles are the right time for the GOP to launch a “50 State Strategy” of its own.

You can’t win if you don’t play, and the GOP has fooled itself for too long that it only has to play on its home turf.
(more…)

Sign “O” the Times

October 29th, 2014 - 11:45 am

FRETTING

Nancy Pelosi knows about shrinkage, but she’s about to learn more:

With President Barack Obama’s unpopularity hindering their candidates and Republican cash flooding into races across the country, Democrats are increasingly worried that the election will push them deep into the minority and diminish their hopes of winning back the majority in 2016 or beyond.

Looking to contain the damage, Democrats are pumping money into liberal congressional districts that were long thought to be safely in their column. Over the last several days, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has directed resources to maintain seats in Hawaii and Nevada, both of which broke sharply for the president in 2012 — an indication of just how much the terrain has shifted against the party over the past two years.

One of the great pains of the 2008 GOP nominating process (and the pains were legion) was watching the candidates twist themselves into low-sodium pretzels, trying to distance themselves from Bush without actually repudiating many of his policies they still agreed with, which most GOP primary voters still agreed with, but which most general election voters had despaired of. And of course the press was there to twist the stiletto at every opportunity, which is exactly its job.

Minus the stiletto-wielding press, it will be the singular great joy of 2016 watching the Democrat contenders do the exact same thing to Obama.

Required Reading

October 29th, 2014 - 10:31 am

BOOM

David Harsanyi takes on Jeffrey Goldberg and the anti-Israel wing of the Democrat Party:

But you know what is unmistakably anti-Israel? Gloating over how the United States has strong-armed Israel into living with a nuclear Iran, which seems like significant news to me:

This official agreed that Netanyahu is a ‘chickenshit’ on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a ‘coward’ on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. ‘It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.’

At the United Nations a few years, Obama reportedly offered to do whatever it took to prevent Iran from producing atomic weapons in exchange for Israeli assurances that it would not attack Iran’s nuclear sites before the presidential election in 2012. (And to think, Obama officials have the audacity to whine about Netanyahu’s “near-pathological desire for career-preservation.”)

A couple of things before you click over to read Harsanyi’s entire column — one trivial, the other not so trivial.

First, I’d just like you to remember that “chickenshit” Netanyahu led an IDF special forces unit in combat and took a bullet. Contrast that to Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom, who reportedly could barely bring himself to give the order to have other people kill Osama bin Laden. So there’s that.

Secondly (and much more importantly) please also take note of the tone in the Goldberg paragraph quoted above by Harsanyi. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the Administration sounds positively gleeful that it has “strong-armed Israel into living with a nuclear Iran.” Much worse than ISIL, this might prove to be Obama’s legacy in the Middle East — an intractable, hostile, and nuclear-armed Iran, and the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the most unstable part of the world.

And this White House knows it, and they’re happy with it.

Idiots.

♡bamaCare!!! Returns as a Campaign Issue

October 29th, 2014 - 9:26 am

And in a big way, according to recent ad buys:

According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), Republicans ran nearly 12,000 anti-Obamacare ads in Senate races during the week of October 13-19. That’s almost twice as many ads as they ran on jobs/unemployment, more than twice as many as they ran on international affairs, and more than three times as many as they ran on taxes. In fact, it’s more than they ran on jobs/unemployment, taxes, and social issues combined. It’s also more than they ran on jobs/unemployment and immigration combined.

The top-5 issues for the GOP in Senate races for the week of October 13-19 were as follows:

1. Obamacare (nearly 12,000 ads)
2. Budget/Government Spending (nearly 9,000 ads)
3. Energy/Environment (nearly 7,000 ads)
4. Jobs/Unemployment (more than 6,000 ads)
5. Immigration (nearly 5,000 ads)

A week earlier, the pattern was basically the same—as Republicans ran over 11,000 anti-Obamacare ads.

And after all those assurances from the professional punditry that ♡bamaCare!!! was no longer a campaign issue…

Free To Be Quarantined

October 29th, 2014 - 8:45 am

Trifecta takes on mandatory quarantines and where principle clashes with the real world.

Leave My President Alone!

October 29th, 2014 - 7:02 am

FLIRTY

Look, I know it’s too soon to gloat. In fact, I’m deep into the Night Sweats/Night Terror Zone where the bags under my eyes could store enough gear for a week in the woods — and I don’t pack light. And yet I did find one of my big toes doing a miniaturized Happy Dance whilst reading this story from Newsbusters:

The CBS This Morning crew on Tuesday alternated between confusion as to why Barack Obama may be driving Republicans to a big midterm victory and strident declarations that the GOP would have no mandate. Co-host Charlie Rose talked with political director John Dickerson and wondered of disenchanted voters: “So, why is it they don’t like this President so much? Is it a spillover from ObamaCare or something else?”

Dickerson declared that the midterm elections are not “about a set of ideas.” Perhaps looking for reassurance about next Tuesday, Rose insisted, “…If the Republicans win the Senate and control the Congress, they have no mandate.” Co-host Norah O’Donnell pre-spun the bad news: “If Republicans take control, they’re going to win in six Senate seats that Mitt Romney won by double digits in the last presidential election. Where’s the mandate for compromise in that?”

O’Donnell then tried to downplay the importance of the elections, noting, “Every midterm election, that since World War II, the President’s opposing party has lost an average of six seats. It’s really about a fickle public.”

A fickle public — I’m sure that’s exactly what O’Donnell was saying in October, 2006.

In case you’re wondering, I’ll be tuned into MSNBC exclusively next Tuesday night, because schadenfreude is a dish best served with a cold martini.

And if the election doesn’t pan out? Martinis go just as well with despair.

Your Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

October 29th, 2014 - 6:12 am

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 29th, 2014 - 5:00 am

From VAGOP: Joanne Grossie, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says you’re not “losing insurance” you’re being “invited to go into the marketplace.”

Pardon my language, but the horseshit verbal gymnastics generated by ♡bamaCare!!! ought to be an Olympic event.

The East German judge would award her a perfect 10.

Required Viewing

October 28th, 2014 - 3:34 pm

Doing the Job Jon Stewart Won’t

October 28th, 2014 - 2:56 pm

Christian Toto has “6 POLITICAL STORIES JON STEWART COULD MOCK (BUT WON’T)

I bet if Christian looked hard enough, he could find a lot more than six.

Heck, I bet he wouldn’t even have to look that hard.

Is it too late to bring back Craig Kilborn?

Required Reading

October 28th, 2014 - 1:51 pm

boehner_mcconnell

Great advice from Kurt Schlichter on what to do with a GOP-owned Capitol Hill:

If the consultant types fretting over candidates not babbling about their vision statements knew anything about winning, they would know that when you’re winning, you keep doing the things that made you be winning. There – I just provided you future candidates with better advice than 90% of those overpaid, under-slapped GOP consultants ever will. Now give me $100,000.

But we conservatives, among ourselves, do need to discuss our game plan as Election Day approaches since it appears that the GOP establishment might actually not blow it like it usually does. Our agenda should be very simple.

We need to neuter Barack Obama while setting the conditions to defeat Hillary Clinton and keep the Congress in 2016.

That’s it. That’s got to be our agenda.

Keep it simple. The “stupid” part seems redundant.

Your Data, Cop’s “Game”

October 28th, 2014 - 12:42 pm

apple-proof

Data thieves are everywhere:

A 23-year-old California woman claims she was arrested for suspected drunk driving and taken to jail in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Martinez. She allowed a California Highway Patrolman to access her iPhone, so he could retrieve the phone number of someone she needed to call. She allegedly gave him her passcode.

After she had been booked, she says, she noticed that certain of her private pictures — some featuring her in a state of undress — had been sent to a number she didn’t recognize. This number allegedly turned out to be that of the officer’s private cell phone.

Her lawyer, Rick Madsen, told ABC 7 News that his client believes up to six photos were sent from her cell phone to that of Officer Sean Harrington.

Then there’s this from another paper:

CHP Officer Sean Harrington, 35, of Martinez, also confessed to stealing explicit photos from the cellphone of a second Contra Costa County DUI suspect in August and forwarding those images to at least two CHP colleagues. The five-year CHP veteran called it a “game” among officers, according to an Oct. 14 search warrant affidavit.

I’ve read so many horror stories about CHP over the years, I’m inclined to believe the worst. But whether or not this story pans out, the lesson remains the same: Passcode protect everything and never, ever give the authorities access to your cell phone without a court order.

And fight one of those like crazy, too.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ge

A.B. Stoddard asks what happens if the Democrats hold the Senate next week:

A few scenarios could help the Democrats hold on this year. Louisiana could go to a well-funded runoff election on a weekend in December that could enable Sen. Mary Landrieu to better target her voters and win. Wild cards — like the prospect of Kansas’s Republican governor, Sam Brownback, dragging Sen. Pat Roberts down with him — are possible.

The victory for Democrats, and defeat for Republicans, could be compounded by another possibility: Hillary Clinton winning the presidency in 2016. Sure, she might not run, and she might not win — but Republicans everywhere are worried she will do both. As the party searches for a powerhouse who can raise a billion dollars, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney is suddenly back at the top of everyone’s list. A Clinton win would not only be historic, as our first woman president, it would break a trend in which only once has either party has managed to hold the White House (former President George H. W. Bush, in 1992) for three consecutive terms in 60 years. Unlikely, but again — entirely possible.

There is also a structural disadvantage for Republicans in 2016, as they will be defending 24 seats in the Senate while Democrats will be up in only 10.

I need a drink.

The Next Sino-Japanese War

October 28th, 2014 - 10:27 am

Lengthy piece from James Holmes in the National Interest, which I started yesterday and only got around to finishing this morning — and it was worth the time. As your faithful blogger, I was able to strip it down to its essence for you:

Here’s the rub: Clausewitz prophesies that each contender, mindful that it could be outdone, will apply more force than the bare minimum to avoid surrendering the first-mover advantage to the adversary. Leaders fear letting the opponent get the drop on them. Doing more, sooner, helps a protagonist stay ahead of the competition and bolster its prospects of victory. An escalatory dynamic takes hold if everyone does more than simple cost-benefit logic dictates. Washington and Tokyo should acknowledge this in their internal and joint deliberations.

Clausewitzian fatalism represents the beginning of strategic wisdom. It’s safe to assume the contestants will all strive to achieve their goals through minimal force — preferably without fighting at all. No one relishes the hazards of war. It’s equally safe to assume that they see yielding territory, status, or maritime freedoms as even worse than war.

A fight over seemingly minor stakes, then, could mushroom into a major conflagration arraying China against the US-Japan alliance. How much passion would an East China Sea imbroglio rouse among the combatants? China and Japan would be all in.

It nearly goes without saying that China is a nuclear power — and Holmes has me wondering how much longer before Japan becomes one.

The real kicker in a protracted (and therefore presumably non-nuclear) conflict is Japan’s or our ability to draw in third players like South Korea or Vietnam, and China’s ability to bring in the Russians. At that point, what we’d have is more or less a Third World War, begun over a small set of uninhabited rocks in the ocean.

The First World War started over an unloved archduke.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 28th, 2014 - 9:19 am

CONOVER

A new study from the well-respected and non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research (and published by Brookings Institution), overcomes the limitations of these prior studies by examining what happened to premiums in the entire non-group market. The bottom line? In 2014, premiums in the non-group market grew by 24.4% compared to what they would have been without Obamacare. Of equal importance, this careful state-by-state assessment showed that premiums rose in all but 6 states (including Washington DC).

Of course, Obamacare enthusiasts will argue that I’m ignoring all the subsidies provided to Exchange members. It’s certainly true that for those lucky enough to qualify for such subsidies, the typical size of a subsidy in any given state would have been sufficient to protect such individuals from the premium increases shown in the chart above. But that ignores the fact that out of an estimated 13.2 million people covered in the non-group market in second quarter 2014 (Kowalski’s estimate), only about 7 million qualified for subsidies.[2] Thus, there were 6.2 million in the non-group market who had to absorb these premium increases without the benefit of any help from Uncle Sam.

Moreover, the fact that federal taxpayers were handed the privilege of having to offset such premium increases using their hard-earned tax dollars should in no way obscure the reality that Obamacare caused premiums to rise in the first place.

The net result? Taxpayers are on the hook for a 24% increase in subsidy expenses due to ♡bamaCare!!!’s requirements and strictures.

But I’m sure we’ll make it up in volume.

A Whole New Terror Network

October 28th, 2014 - 8:15 am

Stupidity abounds:

Some asshat at Los Angeles International Airport ruined a plane-full of people’s days on Sunday night. He named a Wi-Fi network “Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork,” and a passenger about to take off on a 9am flight to London noticed it. The plane didn’t take off until 1pm as a result.

The plane was taxiing to the runway, when the one passenger reported the suspicious Wi-Fi network, and the airline told passengers that they were being delayed due to some sort of maintenance issue. After they landed, they learned from the local news that said maintenance issue was actually some asshat trying to be funny. And despite the fact that this was clearly a (bad) joke, police are now involved and presumably tracking him down, though likely not for his bad sense of humor.

The resources being wasted on one not-too-clever prankster could be being used on an actual terror cell. And what are they going to do if they find him?

A Harry Situation for Mary Landrieu

October 28th, 2014 - 7:38 am

Oy:

Senator Landrieu was asked a simple question, “Will you vote for Harry Reid for leader if you’re reelected?”

Her answer was, “If Harry Reid were the only problem, not Mitch McConnell, and not some the President himself, presents some problems, Harry Reid presents some problems, Mitch McConnell presents some problems. If it were that easy, you know, we could talk about individual personalities, but the country is polarized. That is the truth – the country is polarized.”

She wasn’t done, blaming the Senate itself for polarization.

“It’s very difficult where you’ve got House seats where people represent all conservatives or all liberals, but in the Senate the 100 of us represent whole states. So we can try to show that gridlock can be broken, and I’ve tried to do that.”

Having not addressed the question, the moderator re-asked it.

“I’m gonna make my decision,” she said. “I said a couple of months ago that I would, but I’m gonna make my decision based on what is before me and who is running.”

What is it with the Democrats this cycle? These are not difficult gotcha questions they’re dodging — they’re straight-up questions every candidate should expect and be prepared for. But in 2014 even some of the best D players sound like a D-list Todd Akin.

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that Landrieu could have have diffused the question with humor. “I’m just mild about Harry” and leave it at that, except for the “That’s all I can really say until the next Congress” in response to the inevitable followup.

Who Pays for Apple Pay?

October 28th, 2014 - 6:01 am

apple-pay1

It seems so simple: Plug your credit card information into your smartphone, which anonymizes your data, then uses your thumbprint and a “tap” at the register to authorize retail purchases. This should be win-win-win. You get added security and convenience, retailers get simplified payments, and banks get extra protection from fraud.

So why did drug store giants CVS and Rite Aid block Apple Pay (along with Google Wallet and Softcard) over the weekend? Here’s the story:

Objections to Apple Pay aren’t actually about convenience, reliability, or security—they are about a burgeoning war between a consortium of merchants, led by Walmart (WMT), and the credit card companies. Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart, Best Buy (BBY), and about 50 other retailers have been working on their own mobile payments system, called CurrentC. Unlike Apple Pay, which works in conjunction with Visa (V), MasterCard (MA), and American Express (AXP), CurrentC cuts out the credit card networks altogether. The benefit to the merchants is clear: They would save the swipe fees they now pay to the credit card companies, which average about 2 percent of the cost of transactions.

I feel for the CurrentC coalition on this one, since that 2% which is currently going to the giant ATM-issuing banks could easily double some of their retail profit margins. Retailing is a tough business even in the best of times, and these are certainly not the best of times.

Apple had this to say:

The feedback we are getting from customers and retailers about Apple Pay is overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. We are working to get as many merchants as possible to support this convenient, secure and private payment option for consumers. Many retailers have already seen the benefits and are delighting their customers at over 220,000 locations.

Somebody was going to put all the pieces of smartphone payments together. Google has been trying valiantly, but Android fragmentation hasn’t helped them, nor has Android’s main customer base of owners who use their Android smartphones merely as really nice feature phones — they just aren’t the vanguard users to establish new technology. Apple probably has a better shot at this, with a generally tech-savvier user base and with all those credit card companies on board, too.

The CurrentC coalition has… well, let’s just say I follow this stuff for a living, and this is only the second or third time I’ve read anything about CurrentC. And this time, they’re making what looks like a desperation play of blocking the competition, without having their own system ready to go as a real competitor. In fact, CurrentC looks like it’s too convoluted to ever catch on.

CURRENTC

Scan the product, then have your scan scanned by the retailer’s scanner, as compared to tap-to-pay from Google and Apple. With tap-to-pay, the cashier rings up your sale as normal, then you tap your smartphone on the scanner and you’re done. CurrentC requires you to make your own working scan of a QR code, then have the clerk make a working scan of each of your QR scans. This is the high-tech version of shopping in the old Soviet Union, where you had to stand in separate lines to pay for and then to receive your goods. It’s not that bad of course, but it still requires shoppers to do more, rather than to do less.

CurrentC reeks of a system designed by retailers for retailers — it protects them from fraud, but makes us do the work. Apple Pay and Google Wallet seem to have been designed for the shopper’s convenience, the brick-and-mortor equivalent of Amazon’s 1-Click. If anything, that seemingly tiny benefit is tap-to-pay’s killer app, so to speak.

There’s probably room in electronic retail payments for two or even more major players, but a shopper-hostile system like CurrentC probably won’t be one of them.

Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow, Either

October 28th, 2014 - 5:11 am

How bad have things gotten in the Hopenchange Era? “Don’t eat strange feces” is now considered solid advice:

Not sure about you but I nearly fell out of my chair giggling when I saw NY anchor Errol Lewis mouth what has to be the most side-splitting Ebola tip of the decade:

“Blood, mucus, feces, semen. Now if you came across some strange mucus or feces out there on the or subway or anywhere else, don’t eat it.”

Not My Kind of Soft-Serve

What’s the opposite of “I’ll be in my bunk?”

An Open Letter

October 27th, 2014 - 2:24 pm

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 27th, 2014 - 1:15 pm

HIV-positive patients in Florida are about to feel the squeeze:

“The landscape of healthcare has changed, and with the passage of the Affordable Care Act we have the opportunity to access and enroll in cost-effective health plans,” an official at the AICP wrote in a letter to its clients, including Tony Smith of Coral Springs.

Saying that AICP “saved my life,” Smith, 42, explained that under his current plan the program picks up $750 of his monthly $803 premium, as well as the monthly co-pay of $110 for medications.

However, with the Humana silver plan under Obamacare for example, Smith would have to pay a $1,500 prescription deductible and half of his total drug costs. His antiretroviral drugs alone would mean he’d have to shell out nearly $1,000 a month until he reached a $6,300 out-of-pocket limit, the Herald said.

“That’s just such a crazy jump from what I’m paying now,” Smith said. “I’m drowning in paperwork trying to figure out what sort of plan I’ll need. And I’m really worried that I’m just going to be stuck if enrollment opens and there aren’t any I can afford.”

That Means It’s Working™

Sign “O” the Times

October 27th, 2014 - 12:41 pm

A heartwarming story from Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago:

Corey Brooks, a South Side pastor featured in an ad endorsing Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, says he’s moved his family from his home while police investigate an overnight burglary of his church, as well as threatening derogatory phone calls he received which claim he’ll be beaten for being Rauner’s “puppet.”

On Saturday, Brooks rushed to the New Beginnings Church of Chicago after a maintenance employee found the church’s back doors shattered and an estimated $8,000 stolen from a glass charity box, meant to build a community center across from the church.

Tolerance for me but not for thee.

Required Reading

October 27th, 2014 - 11:09 am

Ralph Peters explains why we can’t “persuade men who, for the first time in their lives, have found meaning and a powerful sense of belonging that we know what’s best for them.” Read:

By embracing Islamist extremism and the terrorist mission, the misfit gains:

• Acceptance for the first time in his life
• A sense of belonging
• Structure (never underestimate the appeal of rigor to troubled souls)
• A comforting explanation for his failures
• Power and purpose
• Justification for hatred and his anti-social impulses
• Revenge and respect
• The thrill of torturing others and the ecstasy of killing human beings
• The prospect of fame
• Paradise, should he die on jihad, with a host of submissive virgins who cannot compare him to other, more potent, more appealing males

And what do we offer to those we hope to deter?

• A job stocking shelves at Walmart

Actually, the job at Walmart is optional. The condescending lecture about “real Islam” isn’t.

Anyway, read the whole thing.

More?

October 27th, 2014 - 10:48 am

The difference between the Fed and Mr. Bumble is that when Wall Street comes around with its cup asking, “Please, sir, I want some more,” the Fed whips out a ladle of trillion-dollar gruel. To wit:

“When you saw the selloff, there were moments of madness in stocks,” said Bryan Turley, managing director at MLV & Co. in New York. “I looked at a couple of stocks — you saw some dumping 20 percent and bouncing right back again — I mean, that’s bubble stuff.”

Turley was referring to the selloff in equities this month that sent the major indexes nose-diving, the S&P by as much as 7.4 percent from its record high on Sept. 18.

As volatility soared during the selloff, many investors saw it as Wall Street once again sending a message to DC: We need help or we can go belly-up before the midterm elections.

The market reaction, some contend, prompted St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard to call for a pullback on the taper.

Easing today, easing tomorrow, easing forever!

Follow My Non-Lead!

October 27th, 2014 - 9:36 am

HICKOX

President Obama wants New York and New Jersey to stop with mandatory quarantines:

Both governors, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, stood by their decision, saying that the federal guidelines did not go far enough.

At the same time, the first person to be forced into isolation under the new protocols, Kaci Hickox, a nurse returning from Sierra Leone, planned to mount a legal challenge to the quarantine order. Despite having no symptoms, she has been kept under quarantine at a hospital in New Jersey, where she has been confined to a tent equipped with a portable toilet and no shower. On Sunday, she spoke to CNN about the way she has been treated, describing it as “inhumane.”

The rapidly escalating events played out both privately, in intense negotiations and phone calls between federal and state officials, as well as publicly in Ms. Hickox’s pointed criticism of the New Jersey governor.

Surely there’s room to criticize how Hickox was treated, but given the White House’s slow-footed and ham-handed response (yes, you can do both at once) to the outbreak, it’s clear that the states have to take action.

This would be a good time for Obama to observe the First Rule of Holes, especially given public sentiment and the fact that there’s a little election coming up in eight days.