New Offensive in Obama’s War on the Middle Class

August 4th, 2015 - 9:27 am

I don’t know what else to call the EPA’s new rules on carbon emissions:

The final rule aims to accomplish a 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the nation’s fleet of power plants by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, against 30 percent in the EPA’s original 2014 proposal. Emissions are already down 15 percent from that peak.

The plan will accomplish this by in part by giving states credit for solar or wind projects that break ground in the next few years, before the rule takes effect in 2022. It will also force utilities to run natural gas plants more or encourage customers to use less electricity.

Power generation, specifically the burning of coal to make electricity, is the biggest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., and until now there was no cap on those emissions.

“The way electricity is being produced is being significantly transformed,” said Michael Brune, president of the Sierra Club. “It will amount to a move away from fossil fuels toward clean energy.”

“Clean energy” is another way of saying “expensive energy.” The rich can afford it. The poor will get subsidies. The middle class, or whatever is left of it, will feel the pain.

Today’s news release didn’t include the words “necessarily skyrocket,” but it didn’t need to. We know this Administration’s agenda, and it is endless war in myriad ways on the vast middle of the country.

Hey, Where the White Women At?

August 4th, 2015 - 8:18 am

Wherever they are, they aren’t with Hillary Clinton:

In the first three months of the year, suburban women by a margin of 18 points had a positive view of Mrs. Clinton. In July, those numbers took a dramatic turn for the worse. By a five-point margin, suburban women had a negative view of Mrs. Clinton.

Among white women with at least a college degree, 51% had a positive view of Mrs. Clinton and 38% a negative as of June. In July, those numbers had turned to 43% positive and 47% negative.

“There is no way you can say she’s in the same position this month compared to last month,” said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who directs the WSJ/NBC News survey along with Democrat Fred Yang. “She’s been dented and she’s in a weaker position.”

If she can’t win back those voters, Clinton can’t get elected President.


It isn’t quite Panic Time for the Clintons and the Democrats, because one poll is after all just one poll. But one or two more like this, and the sharks will circle.

Vice President Joe Biden at the Bobrick Washroom Equipment Factory in Los Angeles, describing to workers there his favorite bowel movement.

Vice President Joe Biden at the Bobrick Washroom Equipment Factory in Los Angeles, describing to workers there his favorite bowel movement.

By the numbers, from Noah Rothman:

An Economist/YouGov survey released this spring revealed that Biden’s favorability rating among black voters is comparable to Clintons (46 percent describe their feelings toward the vice president as “very favorable” compared with 45 percent who say the same for Biden.

That same survey found Biden is viewed favorably by 42 percent of women compared with Clinton’s 55 percent, but Clinton has seen her appeal toward women crater in the intervening months. YouGov’s latest survey, released last week, shows Clinton’s favorably among women collapsing to 45 percent while another 45 percent view her negatively. Whereas 52 percent of voters age 18 – 29 viewed Clinton favorably in the spring, only 40 percent feel the same today. Just 7 percent of younger voters described their views toward Clinton as “very favorable.”

Considering the fact that the GOP nominee is almost certain to be younger than Clinton on Election Day, the Democrats’ “coolness deficit” is going to be especially acute. The party that has spent the better part of the last decade manufacturing a celebrity cult of personality around Barack Obama is on the verge of an identity crisis perhaps best typified by the tortured liberal effort turn the “notorious” octogenarian Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg into a rock star. But unlike Hillary Clinton, who never fails to project coldness and insincerity, Joe Biden is a natural retail campaigner and a figure that effortlessly connects with his audience.

The best argument in favor of a Biden run is watching Hillary go into Permanent Eye Roll mode.

No Smoking Gun at Planned Parenthood?

August 4th, 2015 - 6:29 am

Bob Cesca reports for Salon:

Last week, Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey became the latest in what’s sure to be a long list of state attorneys general to conclude the same thing. Specifically, Healy concluded,

“Over the past week, my office has conducted a thorough review and found that Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts’ health care centers are fully compliant with state and federal laws regarding the disposition of fetal tissue. Although donation of fetal tissue is permissible under state and federal law, PPLM does not have a tissue donation program. There is no evidence that PPLM is involved in any way in the buying or selling of tissue. As such, our review is complete.”

Sure, Massachusetts is a leftward-leaning state, but Indiana is very much not. Back on July 16, Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., launched an investigation of Planned Parenthood following the release of what was obviously a doctored and misleading video. The probe focused on facilities in Indianapolis, Bloomington and Merrillville, and this past week the Indiana Department of Health reported it was “unable to find any non-compliance with state regulations. Therefore, no deficiencies were cited.”

I’m all for defunding Planned Parenthood, although that probably has more to do with my philosophical stance against public funding for much of anything other than police, courts, and military. But while it’s easy to argue with Salon, it’s more difficult to argue with investigations which turn up nothing.

Then again, those videos do seem both unaltered and unambiguous.

There must be more to this story, but it’s impossible yet to say what it is.

Stump Trump

August 4th, 2015 - 5:20 am
Contents may settle during shipping. (Shutterstock photo)

Contents may settle during shipping.
(Shutterstock photo)

Mollie Hemingway notes that Chuck Todd failed to ask Donald Trump a single substantive policy question on Meet the Press on Sunday:

Chuck Todd is the ultimate issues guy! So imagine my surprise when the very same Chuck Todd interviewed Donald Trump by phone for the first time on Meet the Press this weekend.

The ultimate issues guy literally didn’t ask a single “issue” question apart from what Trump thinks about Black Lives Matter. And Trump isn’t running for a seat in the House of Representatives. He’s running for president.

For his time with Trump, though, Todd asked the following questions:

•Why do you think you’re resonating so quickly in the Republican field?
•Why do you believe there is this sort of polarizing view of you?
•Why did you downplay your expectations on debating?
•How would you advise a candidate to debate you onstage?
•What is this? Seriously, what kind of silliness is this?

In what world do you put a random economics professor from nowhere through some economic and foreign policy ringer but handle a man with decades of international media experience with kid gloves? I don’t get it.

I’m sure Mollie is being coy, because of course she gets it — Trump is a useful distraction from the actual conservative candidates, and will be propped up by Todd and his ilk for as long as Trump remains useful.

Thought for the Day

August 3rd, 2015 - 3:05 pm

Required Viewing

August 3rd, 2015 - 2:18 pm


Last Days of the Clinton Empire?

August 3rd, 2015 - 1:07 pm


This page last covered Huma Abedin, the Clintons, and Teneo back in June (“Dirty Deeds Done for a $250,000 Monthly Retainer“), but now there are fresh details:

Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said an inspector general probe suggested Huma Abedin leveraged her State Department job to benefit her two other employers at the time: the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm called Teneo Strategies.

Teneo Strategies was founded by a longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Douglas Band, and boasted the former president as a paid board member when it first launched in 2011.

Abedin allegedly sent or received more than 7,000 emails on her government account that involved Band, the letter said.

As an example of the potential conflicts of interest at play, Grassley cited an email exchange in which Band pressed Abedin to encourage her State Department boss, Hillary Clinton, to facilitate a White House appointment for one of his clients.

Judith Rodin, the Teneo client in question, was then president of the Rockefeller Foundation, “which donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, a fact which Mr. Band allegedly noted in his email to Ms. Abedin,” the letter said.

“[E]mail evidence allegedly suggests that Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills shared a desire to find a way to ensure the Department paid for Ms. Abedin’s travel to and from New York,” the letter continued.

To refresh your memory about Teneo, here’s what I found two months ago:

And what is it Teneo does, exactly? The company claims to provide “integrated counsel for a borderless world.” Here’s more from Teneo’s corporate website:

Leveraging the deep global relationships, experience and intellectual capabilities across all 12 of our operating divisions, we sit at the center of information and networks, offering unparalleled execution to capture opportunities and solve complex problems.

That, my friends, is a whole lot of nothing. In other words, Teneo is in the shady business of protecting wealthy people who have done or who wish to do shady things.

Unlike Hillary’s private email server, Abedin’s 7,000 emails with and about Band on her government account are a matter of public record, and ought to be subpoenaed posthaste by Senator Grassley.

We’ve already had the Obama Administration destroy electronic evidence of wrongdoing by the IRS, but would they dare do that again to protect Hillary Clinton? And if someone at State did take that chance, yet another round of these Nixonian antics might prove too much for even the Complicit Media to ignore. There can be only so many cries of “Will no one rid me of these meddlesome hard drives!” before people take notice.

We have a dirty Administration protecting a dirty candidate’s dirty personal assistant. Eventually, somebody may be forced to sell out somebody else — and Senator Grassley is in the perfect position to force somebody’s hand.

Russia Over the Baltic

August 3rd, 2015 - 12:04 pm
Russian Tu-160 heavy bomber. (AP photo)

Russian Tu-160 heavy bomber.
(AP photo)

NATO intercepts of Russian warplanes are up — way up:

Fighters from Belgium, Italy, Norway, and the UK assigned to the Baltic Air Policing Mission were scrambled to intercept 22 Russian aircraft as they transited through the region in a number of different formations over a two-week period.

In two of the largest interceptions ever seen, the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) Eurofighter Typhoons based at Amari Airbase in Estonia identified and shadowed four Sukhoi Su-34 ‘Fullback’ strike aircraft, four MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’ interceptors, and a pair of Antonov An-26 ‘Curl’ transport aircraft on 24 July, while five days later NATO fighters tailed four MiG-31s, four Sukhoi Su-24 ‘Fencer’ strike aircraft, as well as three An-26 and one Ilyushin Il-76 ‘Candid’ transport aircraft that had been flying close to Latvian airspace.

As reported in the Financial Times , NATO officials said that the alliance has launched more than 250 scrambles against Russian aircraft so far this year over Europe – more than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Of these, 120 have taken place over the Baltic region.

But the news isn’t all doom & gloom, as Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told Congress that the F-35′s teething problems are being dealt with:

“It has taken us too long, it has cost us way more money than we ever imagined possible,” James said of the most expensive weapons program in Pentagon history. “We’re very focused from now on to driving the cost down per unit and they are coming down.”

However, she noted that there were additional challenges to making the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II operational. “I would sum it up in one word – software,” James said, noting the 24 million lines of code in the aircraft.

James also agreed that an F-35A “didn’t do so well” in mock dogfights with an F-16 last January. The test pilot’s assessment, first reported by War Is Boring, said that the F-35 lacked the maneuverability to keep up with the F-16 and the F-35 pilot’s helmet cut down on his vision.

“There were multiple occasions when the bandit [F-16] would’ve been visible but the helmet prevented getting in a position to see him,” the report said.

On the hardware side, trimming that helmet down to a more manageable size might be a very prudent investment — not just to improve visibility, but to reduce pilot fatigue.

News You Can Use

August 3rd, 2015 - 11:15 am

Hong Kong residents donned bras and took to the streets to protest the imprisonment of a woman for assaulting a police office with her breast:

Around 100 people gathered for the light-hearted “breast walk” protest outside police headquarters in Wan Chai district, with some holding up bras and others wearing them over their tops.

“We better watch out as one day police might accuse us of attacking with our penis or buttock,” a topless male activist wearing a black bra told the crowd.

Retired teacher James Hon, 66, wearing a pink bra over his white polo shirt, told AFP: “It’s the first time to wear a bra in my entire life.”

“We have come to this rather odd method to tell the world how ridiculous it is,” he said.

The crowd chanted “Breasts are not weapons — give back our breast freedom” and “Shame on police” as a representative handed in a petition letter to a police officer.

Despite treaty guarantees of political freedoms for the residents of Hong Kong, Beijing has imposed strict breast control measures on the people there.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, listens during a foreign ministers meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. Kerry is meeting his Gulf Arab counterparts for talks in Qatar as he attempts to ease the concerns of key allies over the Iran nuclear deal. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, listens during a foreign ministers meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. Kerry is meeting his Gulf Arab counterparts for talks in Qatar as he attempts to ease the concerns of key allies over the Iran nuclear deal. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool Photo via AP)

First, the good news from Quinnipiac:

American voters oppose 57 – 28 percent, with only lukewarm support from Democrats and overwhelming opposition for Republicans and independent voters, the nuclear pact negotiated with Iran, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Voters say 58 – 30 percent the nuclear pact will make the world less safe, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.

Opposing the Iran deal are Republicans 86 – 3 percent and independent voters 55 – 29 percent, while Democrats support it 52 – 32 percent. There is little gender gap as men oppose the deal 59 – 30 percent and women oppose it 56 – 27 percent.

Why, it’s almost as if 35 years of kidnapping and killing our people hasn’t engendered much trust between the Mullahs and the American people.

The bad news is it probably doesn’t matter what the American people think — or even what Congress thinks:

A majority of House lawmakers now support a resolution to reject the recently signed nuclear agreement with Iran, marking another blow to the White House’s aggressive push to convince Congress to back the deal, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

At least 218 Republican lawmakers have signed on to support a resolution expressing “firm disapproval” of the nuclear deal, which would provide Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief while enabling it to continue work on ballistic missiles and other nuclear research.

The measure, which is being led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill) and was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, comes as Congress takes 60 days to review the deal before voting on it.

Unless both houses of Congress can muster up veto-proof majorities, it won’t matter how much “firm disapproval” they come up with, because they already effectively voted themselves out of the process.

Rather than requiring 2/3rds of the Senate to approve a treaty, Congress rigged the game so that it will require 2/3rds of the Senate and the House to kill what is effectively a treaty.

Even if the Iran deal were a good one (and it isn’t) the Founders would be aghast at these anti-Constitutional actions — I know I am.

Et tu, Joe?

August 3rd, 2015 - 9:12 am

There are three levels of satire.

The lowest level is mere sarcasm, in which you say something absurd that you don’t mean, and in such a way that everyone knows you don’t mean it. To rise to actual satire, you must say something absurd that you don’t mean, and in such a way that your audience thinks you might just mean it. Great satire is saying something absurd that you don’t mean, and in such a way that your audience thinks they might just think that your absurdity a great idea.

The Wilderness has published an over-the-top and I think satirical case for Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee. But like any good satire, there’s more than a hint of truth in it:

If Biden, with the guidance of Obama and Jarrett, can take off the toon mitts against Hillary, the fight won’t even be close. Biden has spent seven long years learning the ways of the master. Hillary’s war chest is offset by Biden’s ability to use AF2 whenever he needs it, and his Secret Service entourage will more closely resemble the ’85 Bears than Hillary’s Visiting Angel detail. Biden will deploy his bellowing-clown debate tactics against a dour old woman flop-sweating over her desperate last chance for relevance, and then when the time is right, he’ll descend in for the kill by laying blame for the September 11th Benghazi attacks squarely at her feet (conveniently exonerating Barack Obama’s legacy in one fell swoop as an added bonus). Hillary can grin through her fangs, listing off how many miles she’s traveled as Secretary of State, but Biden can end her campaign with one devastating statement:

“In fact Mrs. Clinton, on the night of September 11th as our Embassy was under attack, you assured me and the President that you had the situation under control and that our Ambassador was safe.” Checkmate: nomination Biden.


Hardly anybody cares about Benghazi, because the Complicit Media has allowed and encouraged them not to care about Benghazi. Biden could put it right back on the map — and into Grandma Hillary’s lap, where it belongs.

Hillary, of course, belongs in jail.

Required Reading

August 3rd, 2015 - 8:36 am

Robert H. Scales saw the Army “broken” when his father served in Korea, and again in the ’70s during and after his service in Vietnam. He’s watching the Army break again today:

Sadly, the Army that stayed cohesive in Iraq and Afghanistan even after losing 5,000 dead is now being broken again by an ungrateful, ahistorical and strategically tone-deaf leadership in Washington.

The Obama administration just announced a 40,000 reduction in the Army’s ranks. But the numbers don’t begin to tell the tale. Soldiers stay in the Army because they love to go into the field and train; Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently said that the Army will not have enough money for most soldiers to train above the squad level this year. Soldiers need to fight with new weapons; in the past four years, the Army has canceled 20 major programs, postponed 125 and restructured 124. The Army will not replace its Reagan-era tanks, infantry carriers, artillery and aircraft for at least a generation. Soldiers stay in the ranks because they serve in a unit ready for combat; fewer than a third of the Army’s combat brigades are combat-ready.

And this initial 40,000-soldier reduction is just a start. Most estimates from Congress anticipate that without lifting the budget sequestration that is driving this across-the-board decline, another 40,000 troops will be gone in about two years.

But it’s soldiers who tell the story. After 13 years of war, young leaders are voting with their feet again. As sergeants and young officers depart, the institution is breaking for a third time in my lifetime. The personal tragedies that attended the collapse of a soldier’s spirit in past wars are with us again. Suicide, family abuse, alcohol and drug abuse are becoming increasingly more common.

Read the whole thing.

Do You Have Your Papers, Comrade Aldrin?

August 3rd, 2015 - 7:04 am

As Doctor Leonard McCoy observed, “The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe.”

Run, Joe, Run!

August 3rd, 2015 - 6:40 am
At a recent  Association for a Better New York luncheon, Vice President Joe Biden explains to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo how he thinks he ended up with his pants on upside down. (AP photo)

At a recent Association for a Better New York luncheon, Vice President Joe Biden explains to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo how he thinks he ended up with his pants on upside down.
(AP photo)

Biden moneyman Josh Alcorn has joined the Draft Biden Super PAC — and you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to know what that means:

While Alcorn’s move isn’t formally sanctioned by the Biden family, his new role lends legitimacy to a group that’s built an email list of 170,000 potential Biden supporters. And amid news reports that a dying Beau urged his father to run for president, it’s one of the first concrete and public steps from a member of the son’s inner circle encouraging a challenge to Hillary Clinton.

Alcorn’s goal is to use his perch at Draft Biden – a small movement that’s persisted mostly online and hasn’t raised significant money or held large events – to gauge interest from major donors in Joe Biden and Beau Biden’s inner circles in supporting a bid. The super PAC can raise unlimited funds, and could allow top donors to send a message supporting Biden’s potential run.

“With Josh’s help, we’ll be able to expand our fundraising to show the VP the country is ready for him to enter the race,” Pierce said.

But the kicker is in the next graf:

Biden insiders say the former vice president is talking to aides and advisers as he weighs a bid. But many of Joe Biden’s closest political advisers have already signed on with Clinton’s campaign, including former national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

“Inevitability” was supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s thing in 2008 until a superstar young Senator from Illinois came along. This time around she’s leaving even less oxygen for other candidates.

But how weak is Clinton really, when even Biden’s people smell blood in the water?

The Final Freedom

August 3rd, 2015 - 5:45 am

Friday Night Videos

July 31st, 2015 - 10:30 pm

Summer of Covers continues!

Billy Joel recorded “New York State Of Mind” for his fourth studio album, Turnstiles, in 1976. The song never got a single release, but has become a standard anyway, recorded by… dang near everybody, it seems. Wikipedia lists among others, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Carmen McRae, Elton John, and even the Muppet’s Dr. Teeth And The Electric Mayhem. Now that’s a performance I have got to see.


Mel Tormé seems to have been the first to have caught on to what a great song it is, recording his version for A New Album just one year after Turnstiles. Mel’s version featured Phil Woods on sax, making it automatically superior to anyone else’s.

(ASIDE: Tonight I learned that on subsequent reissues, Joel replaced Richie Cannata’s sax solo with a new one by Woods. To this day I don’t know what the rupture was between Joel and Cannata [it happened in time for Cannata to be replaced by Mark Rivera for 1983's An Innocent Man and later albums], but I guess it was serious enough for Cannata’s work on “NYSOM” to get flushed down the memory hole.)

Part of the first verse didn’t sit quite right with Tormé, the part which goes like this:

I’ve seen all the movie stars in their fancy cars and their limousines.
Been high in the Rockies under the evergreens

If, like me, you have trouble picturing a tuxedoed Mel Tormé smoking a joint out in the woods, then you understand why the race car-driving crooner changed it to this:

Been down to Mozambique, climbed a mountain peak, drove a racing car
Made plans for Tahiti, but that’s way too far

Now that sounds more… Melish.

Much as I love Tormé’s ’77 studio recording and Woods’ original sax solo, I came across this 1982 concert recording without Woods and with a band I’d never heard of. However, Tormé is at his concert best here, playing with the lyric, with the audience, and even throwing in a little of his trademark smooth-scat.

It’s such a fine performance it’ll almost make you wish you lived somewhere you can get decent Chinese food at 3AM.

Thought for the Day

July 31st, 2015 - 4:03 pm

Slaughter at MSNBC

July 31st, 2015 - 12:27 pm


Back to Dylan Byers for the latest on the troubled network’s efforts at reinvention:

MSNBC has formally decided to cancel three programs — “The Cycle,” “Now with Alex Wagner” and “The Ed Show” — as part of a larger effort to shift its daytime lineup away from opinion programming, network sources told the On Media blog on Thursday.

Alex Wagner and Ari Melber, a “Cycle” co-host and MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, will remain with the network. Ed Schultz, the host of “The Ed Show,” will leave the network, as will “Cycle” co-hosts Abby Huntsman, Krystal Ball and Toure. MSNBC President Phil Griffin announced the news in a memo sent shortly after the initial version of this item was published.

The cancellations, which have been expected for some time, come as NBC News chief Andrew Lack moves to refashion the liberal cable channel as a straight-forward news and politics offering, at least in daytime. In September, MSNBC will add a 5 p.m. program hosted by “Meet The Press” moderator Chuck Todd, while Brian Williams, the former “Nightly News” anchor, will serve as the network’s breaking news and special reports anchor.

I’m going to go ahead and guess that any “straight-forward news” makeover relying on Democratic-operative-with-a-byline Chuck Todd and serial fantabulist Brian Williams is probably doomed from the start.

Required Reading

July 31st, 2015 - 11:19 am

Michael Brendan Dougherty explains “the astonishing weakness of Hillary Clinton.”


Hillary Clinton has never won a competitive election. This can’t be repeated enough. She beat Republican Rep. Rick Lazio for her Senate seat in 2000. And she defeated a mayor from Yonkers in 2006. In her first competitive race, the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, she began as a heavy favorite and she lost.

What has she done to improve her chances in that time? She’s aged well, I guess. And she served without distinction as secretary of state. The most notable addition to her CV was her strenuous support of military intervention in Libya, which has left that nation in ruins and vulnerable to ISIS. In turn, Libya has left Clinton with a new scandal about her home-brew email server and the deletion of thousands of emails that congressional oversight might have used against her.

She has high name-recognition. Until she started campaigning she was polling well even with Republicans. She has the Obama coalition, and an electoral map where Republicans need significant pickups. But boy, it all seems underwhelming. What is the task for Democrats in the post-Obama era? Why is Clinton the one to take on this mission?

Who else have they got?

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 31st, 2015 - 10:06 am
Their work here is done. (AP photo)

Their work here is done.
(AP photo)

Yet another pilot program is running out of other people’s money:

Nonprofit co-ops, the health care law’s public-spirited alternative to mega-insurers, are awash in red ink and many have fallen short of sign-up goals, a government audit has found.

Under President Barack Obama’s overhaul, taxpayers provided $2.4 billion in loans to get the co-ops going, but only one out of 23 — the one in Maine — made money last year, said the report out Thursday. Another one, the Iowa/Nebraska co-op, was shut down by regulators over financial concerns.

The audit by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office also found that 13 of the 23 lagged far behind their 2014 enrollment projections.

That Means It’s Working™

More seriously, more than one Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ has commented that they use, or have looked into using a nonprofit co-op as their insurer. Would you please get back to me here in the comments with an update or two?

The Right Brothers

July 31st, 2015 - 8:48 am

For anyone interested at all in the past and future of flight, this week’s Afterburner is quite good.

That’s Some G****** Interesting Maps

July 31st, 2015 - 7:28 am
(Map courtesy Strong Language)

(Map courtesy Strong Language)

Jack Grieve, from the UK’s Aston University, geo-plotted the curse words used in the Lower 48 states out of 8.9 billion words from Twitter. Click the link for the full set of maps, with blue meaning infrequence use and red being more frequent.

No kidding, there was one I’d never even heard of before.

The other item of local interest is that in map after map, curse word after curse word, is how little cussing we do here in Colorado.

Which is odd, given how many Californians are on our roads nowadays.

Social Security Isn’t

July 31st, 2015 - 6:06 am

Social Security is certainly social enough — the part where other people spend your money. But secure? Hardly.

Here’s what Myra Adams just noticed when taking a closer look at her Social Security statement:

At first glance, the statement did not appear menacing. I was told I could expect to receive a benefit of “about $2,136 a month” upon reaching age 70 — which certainly seems like good news. But immediately I thought of a parallel of President Obama’s infamous Obamacare promise: “If you like your Social Security, you can keep your Social Security.”

Then, as if on cue, I saw an asterisk with the following message:

The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits.

I could not believe I was seeing the equivalent of what I was just thinking, but with a new twist, “If I like my Social Security, I can keep 77 percent of it.”

With an asterisk, my beloved government was informing me that they will be unable to fulfill their part of a financial arrangement into which, as their statement attested, I had been making mandatory contributions starting in 1971 at age 16.

Adams did some of the math — that the number of payees is shrinking relative to the number of beneficiaries, and concludes, “There are just too many Baby Boomers and too many financial promises with elected leaders too afraid to inflict the necessary pain of real reform.”

I mean no disrespect to Mrs. Adams, but welcome to 1985.

That’s the year I turned 16 and had my first real summer job. Like most anyone with their first pay stub, I was disappointed with, you know, the actual number left over after all the taxes were taken out. I did a little reading and learned that the 1983 Social Security reform had jacked up taxes, but added only about 20 years of solvency to the program. Conclusion: I was never going to see those benefits.

And it wasn’t just me, either. Poll after poll shows that Gen X kids (kids then, middle aged now) had little faith in Social Security being there for us, despite us paying in at the higher rates for all of our working lives.

And again, no disrespect to Mrs. Adams, but by and large we felt this way because we knew our Baby Boomer parents, and we knew their Baby Boomer friends, and we were pretty sure nothing was going to get done to fix the program. The time to act would have been in the 1990s — when the first Baby Boomer president had plenty of time, political popularity, and tax income to have pushed for real reforms before things got too painful.

But no.

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Get Your Scorecards Here

July 30th, 2015 - 1:29 pm
(Scorecard courtesy BBC)

(Scorecard courtesy BBC)

Got that?

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger

July 30th, 2015 - 12:26 pm

Here’s a great big Android security flaw:

Trend Micro peeps say they have discovered a security bug that miscreants can exploit to seemingly murder millions of Android smartphones.

A device will appear lifeless and unable to make calls, with a dead screen and no sound output, if an attack is successful, we’re told. All a victim has to do is visit a dodgy webpage, or run an app containing a malicious file. Rebooting the supposedly dead smartphone will revive it.

Google’s solution is to simply get over it, not browse untrusted websites on your phone, and avoid installing evil applications. A patch to fix the hole is on its way, we’re told.

The vulnerability stems from an integer overflow bug in Android’s media server service, which can be exploited by a malformed video file in a Matroska container. When Android tries to index the file, it crashes, bringing the rest of the operating system down with it.

That bit about avoiding dodgy websites and not installing bad apps is always good advice.

Still, now might be a good time to make sure your phone is upgradeable to the latest & greatest version of Android.

Florida Man Rejects Plea Deal

July 30th, 2015 - 11:01 am

And you’ll applaud him for it.

On July 4, 2015, 22 year-old Lane Pittman decided to take his electric guitar and play the Star Spangled Banner on the street outside his friend’s house in Neptune Beach, near Jacksonville.

Pittman says that after a police officer asked him to stop, he asked if it was okay to play on the sidewalk, and was told that was okay. And play he did:

“I don’t think I ever played that song as good in my life as I did on that day. It felt right. It was an emotional roller coaster.”

The crowd topped 200 people, spilling onto the street around him:

Then Pittman was, to his surprise, arrested for breaching the peace.

Read the whole story, including Pittman being accused of having “white skin privilege.”

You can help with his legal fees by buying this t-shirt.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby Carrier

July 30th, 2015 - 9:53 am
First in her class, the USS America. (Photo courtesy US Navy)

First in her class, the USS America.
(Photo courtesy US Navy)

Get ready for another Marine amphibious assault ship with fricken stealth fighters on it:

Scheduled for launch in in July 2017 and with a tentative induction date set for December 18, the ship is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, along a host of other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters.

The USS Tripoli, called LHA 7 [Landing Helicopter Assault] 7, is being assembled at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Once finished, the ship will displace more than 44,000 tons–similar to the size of fixed-wing aircraft carriers in France and India. Measuring 844 feet long and 106 feet wide the ship, in fact, is a small aircraft carrier.

“The ship is optimized for aviation and capable of supporting current and future aircraft with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities. LHA[Landing Helicopter Assault] 6 will be a Flight I ship, reintroducing the well deck without sacrificing aviation capability,” the U.S. Navy’s website notes about the USS Tripoli’s sister ship, the USS America.

The Essex-class fleet aircraft carriers were the US Navy’s bread-and-butter warships versus the Imperial Japanese Navy, and we built a still-impressive two dozen of the things. The best (and biggest*) full-size carriers in regular use during the war, they displaced 33,000 tons — or one quarter less than the Marine Corps’ new baby carriers.

They also didn’t carry 1,600+ Marines on board, ready to fly Ospreys ashore and kick some behind.

Sign “O” the Times

July 30th, 2015 - 8:41 am

We’re reached the sad state of economic affairs where we see 2.3% quarterly growth and want to shout, “Great news!

So here’s the great news:

The rebound in April, May and June was largely expected, after a dismal performance in the first quarter of 2015.

Before the report on Thursday from the Commerce Department, analysts on Wall Street had been expecting to see a growth rate of about 2.5 percent for the second quarter.

“I think it’s an O.K. performance. Underlying growth is stable but not spectacular,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS, a research firm based in Lexington, Mass. “The economy is plodding along.”

While hardly exceptional by the standards of the 1990s or even compared with the 5 percent burst of growth in the summer of 2014, the pace of expansion is largely in line with the trajectory of the recovery, which began exactly six years ago.

“Recovery?” They keep using that word; I do not think it means what they think it means.

Trump Card, Wild Card

July 30th, 2015 - 7:25 am
Donald Trump in a rare moment, posing next to an expensive personal possession with his name on it. (AP photo)

Donald Trump in a rare moment, posing next to an expensive personal possession with his name on it.
(AP photo)

Hillary is starting to look weak in the general election:

Across nearly every key metric, from trustworthiness to caring about voters to leadership, Clinton has seen an erosion in public approval, as likely Republican rivals have erased her leads in the poll. Clinton has a net -11 favorability rating in the poll, with 40% of the American public viewing her positively and 51% negatively, with more than 50% of independents on the negative side.

If the election were held today, Clinton would be tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the poll—down from significant leads in a May 28 survey—but would top the current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

The trick with Trump of course is how to keep his voters while quietly showing him the door. He doesn’t have a realistic chance of winning the election (or even the nomination), but the eventual GOP nominee can’t win the general without Trump’s “Perot voters.”

The shades of 1992 are familiar, aren’t they?

It’s almost enough to make you wonder if Trump — not a Republican, not a conservative, generous giver to Democrats and liberal causes — identified a potent GOP wedge issue and entered the race for the sole purpose of exploiting it for the Clintons. Any money he spends now he can surely get back from sweetheart deals under Queen Hillary, because as you well know, that’s how the Clinton Machine operates.

I’m not usually the paranoid type, but I find myself looking over my shoulder this morning.