Friday Night Videos

October 2nd, 2015 - 10:10 pm

You might have seen that Telegraph story from a week or two ago, detailing how Keith Richards “became everybody’s favourite Rolling Stone.”

I read the story, but there was really no need to — I know exactly when Keith became my favorite Stone.

Fall of ’88, sophomore year at Mizzou, I picked up his just released solo* album, Talk Is Cheap, on a whim. The album is a solid effort with tons of big names performing on it, including Ivan Neville, Steve Jordan, Mick Taylor, Bootsy Collins, Patti Scialfa, and more.

I got hooked by the opening of the first track, “Big Enough,” just as soon as I’d pressed play on the cassette deck. That funk-reggae-rock sound — not sure I’d ever heard anything like it before, and it was good. Halfway through the song I might have paused just long enough to wonder, “Mick who?”

“Big Enough” has more hooks in it than a Bass Pro Shop, and it maybe never sounded better than when Keith and the X-Pensive Winos played it live on the album’s promotional tour — and so that’s what you’re getting tonight.

P.S. Charlie Watts is also a perfectly acceptable choice for your favorite Stone.

Thought for the Day

October 2nd, 2015 - 4:47 pm

Russia Hits ISIS

October 2nd, 2015 - 1:36 pm
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Pentagon officials urged the Russian military on Thursday to focus its airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State fighters rather than opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. administration officials said. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Pentagon officials urged the Russian military on Thursday to focus its airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State fighters rather than opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. administration officials said. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

At least that’s the claim after Russian warplanes hit Raqqa yesterday:

The strikes were carried out against an Islamic State training camp and a command post near the city of Raqqa, expanding the scope of a three-day old air campaign that had previously focused on attacking rebel groups opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Defense Ministry official spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Raqqa strikes took place overnight Thursday and were among 18 sorties conducted over the previous 24 hours, bringing to 30 the total number of raids since Moscow launched its air campaign in Syria Wednesday.

While I remain dubious (to say the least) about Russia’s intentions, it’s impossible to argue with hitting ISIS, and hitting ISIS hard.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 2nd, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Ed Morrissey took note of Hillary’s retreat from her previous support for ♡bamaCare!!!’s “Cadillac tax,” and says that’s just the beginning of a “long torturous retreat” for Democrats from the Totally Settled Law of the Land™.


Delaware announced approval for premium hikes of 22.4 percent, while AIS’ Health Business Daily reported last week to its subscribers on a long list of approvals by states for double-digit premium increases.

The list includes key swing states such as Florida (16.2 percent for UnitedHealth, 13.9 percent for Aetna), Iowa (19.8 percent for an Aetna subsidiary), and Michigan (average increase of 11.4 percent across all 14 plans). The Street’s Brian O’Connell reported that insurers “are just now starting to get a firm grip on costs,” which has been complicated by “the underlying growth in health care costs,” and premiums may rise again by as much as 40 percent in some states.

Remember when President Obama promised that Obamacare would “bend the cost curve downward,” and that the exchanges would broaden consumer choice? Instead, consumers have seen premiums repeatedly skyrocket, and choices for less expensive coverage evaporate. AIS notes that Blue Cross Blue Shield will pull out of New Mexico, cutting 35,000 individual-market customers after losing over $19 million in 2015.

Related: Obamacare—Still Failing and Picking Your Pocket

Why? The company was denied an application for a 51.6 percent average increase for its plans. Other insurers have shut down operations in state exchanges as well, or blinked out of existence altogether. O’Connell also points out that Obamacare has resulted in a series of mergers among insurers, noting, “Less competition means higher prices.”

So it’s really no surprise to see Democrats backing away from Obamacare.

That Means It’s Working™

First VW, Now… Samsung?

October 2nd, 2015 - 11:16 am
Smarter than your average eco-regulator? (Shutterstock image)

Smarter than your average eco-regulator?
(Shutterstock image)


Independent lab tests have found that some Samsung TVs in Europe appear to use less energy during official testing conditions than they do during real-world use, raising questions about whether they are set up to game energy efficiency tests.

The European commission says it will investigate any allegations of cheating the tests and has pledged to tighten energy efficiency regulations to outlaw the use of so-called “defeat devices” in TVs or other consumer products, after several EU states raised similar concerns.

The apparent discrepancy between real-world and test performance of the TVs is reminiscent of the VW scandal that originated in the US last week.

If First World governments weren’t on a crusade to impoverish the middle class by making everything conform* to ridiculous energy requirements while also making energy impossibly expensive, then this wouldn’t be a problem.

News You Can Use

October 2nd, 2015 - 10:35 am

Differently abled,” my left foot:

A North Carolina woman says she is happier than ever after she fulfilled her lifelong wish of becoming blind.

Jewel Shuping, 30, has Body Integrity Identity Disorder, according to Barcroft TV.

BIID is a condition in which able-bodied people believe they are meant to be disabled.

“By the time I was six I remember that thinking about being blind made me feel comfortable,” she said.

Shuping says that when she was a teenager, she started wearing thick black sunglasses, and even got her first cane when she was 18.

By the age of 20, Shuping says she was fluent in braille.

“I was ‘blind-simming’, which is pretending to be blind, but the idea kept coming up in my head and by the time I was 21 it was a non-stop alarm that was going off,” she told Barcroft TV.

Her need to lose her sight increased as she got older, and by 2006, she claims she found a psychologist who was willing to help her.

Shuping says the psychologist put numbing eye drops into her eyes, and then a couple of drops of drain cleaner.

“It hurt, let me tell you. My eyes were screaming and I had some drain cleaner going down my cheek burning my skin,” she said. “But all I could think was ‘I am going blind, it is going to be okay.”

Can you imagine permanently disfiguring yourself in order to feel okay?

Required Reading

October 2nd, 2015 - 9:11 am

Meet Shin Dong-hyuk, who survived 24 years in one of North Korea’s “total control zone” death camps — and is the only known escapee:

He said: “There was a room, a chamber type. It’s like a cell within the prison camp where these tortures take place.

“When I first entered it. I immediately felt that the atmosphere itself was terrifying.

“When I was brought in, without saying a word the proceeded to tie my ankles and wrists together and hung me from above.”

Showing shocking burn marks on his back, he spoke of how he was placed over a charcoal fire until he ‘smelled his skin burning’.

He said: “As the fire started rising up toward my back, I could feel that it was scorching hot and I could even smell my own flesh burning.

“I begged for my life to be spared but it was completely useless. It was just so hot and I kept squirming.”

Shin was born in a North Korean prison in 1982 and made a daring escape in 2005.

His crime was being born in a concentration camp.

Read the whole thing — and give due consideration to a liquid lunch immediately after.

Christian Killing Spree

October 2nd, 2015 - 8:08 am

Yesterday’s shooting in Oregon was even worse than I could have imagined:

A gunman singled out Christians, telling them they would see God in “one second,” during a rampage at an Oregon college Thursday that left at least nine innocent people dead and several more wounded, survivors and authorities said.

“[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., told CNN.

A twitter user named @bodhilooney,” who said her grandmother was at the scene of the carnage, tweeted that if victims said they were Christian “then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs.”

Overall, violent crime continues it’s long, slow decline — including mass shootings like this one. What is it that drives our modern psychopaths to seek their wretched glory by singling out specific groups for mass murder?

Sign “O” the Times

October 2nd, 2015 - 7:15 am

Whatever life had finally been breathed into the jobs market by years and years of free money seems to have died:

U.S. hiring slowed sharply in September, and job gains for July and August were lower than previously thought, a sour note for a labor market that had been steadily improving.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added just 142,000 jobs in September, depressed by job cuts by manufacturers and oil drillers. The unemployment rate remained 5.1 percent, but only because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.

All told, the proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one fell to a 38-year low.

It’s easy to joke about the downward revisions — lord knows I’ve made more than my share — but try and keep one thing in mind. Every single one of those imaginary jobs represents a fellow American who couldn’t find work, but whose imaginary employment was abused to show how well Obamanomics is “working.”

And each drop in the participation rate (can you remember even one month that it’s gone up since the recovery began?) represents thousands of your fellow Americans who have simply given up, possibly never to find, or even hope to find work again.

That’s the truth about Obama’s recovery.

A War for Oil — And So Much More

October 2nd, 2015 - 6:31 am
This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)

This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)

This morning’s column is a follow-on piece to yesterday’s, partly in response to criticism (some fair, some not) down in the comments. Many readers wondered why we should be bothered that Putin is killing jihadis and defending Syria, which has been a Russian ally for decades. I’ll get to why that’s going to haunt us in the second half of this column.

The first half is in response to New York University’s Burdin Hickok, and his belief that Putin’s War in Syria is all about oil. It is about oil, but only in part. So let’s go to Hickok for that angle:

With Russia and allied Iran increasing their presence throughout the Middle East, ostensibly to combat ISIS, Saudi Arabia stands with a large target on its back. Iran has been recognized by the Saudi leadership as an existential threat. Saudi Arabia’s principle tool to counter Iran adventurism has been increasing oil production, which pressures the price of oil and keeps the Iranian economy weak.

Iran, of course, has not been the only player hurt by lower oil prices. The Russian economy has been hammered by the one-two punch of sanctions imposed from their involvement in Ukraine and the drop in oil prices.

Now with Russia’s growing presence in Syria, a partnership with Iran and a retreating U.S., Saudi Arabia is faced with a new and unfriendly world. Without confidence that the U.S. will have its back, Saudi Arabia may feel compelled to bend to Russia and Iran’s inevitable pressure to reduce oil production. And this will lead to greater pressure for all OPEC countries to reduce production and support higher prices.

There’s more to it than just oil.

Israel’s ability to defend itself against Hamas is hampered by Russia’s growing presence in Syria, and her ability to strike at Iran’s nascent nuclear program is similarly contained by Russian overtures towards Iraq. If Saudi Arabia is forced to acquiesce to the Russo-Iranian Axis then Egypt, dependent on Saudi munificence to stay fed, will follow suit.

Israel would then be boxed in like at no time since before 1967′s Six-Day War — only this time with Russian troops right next door and a nuclear-armed Iran to contend with as well.

For Iran and Russia, this might be “merely” a war for economic advantage. But Israel’s very existence is threatened like never before.

Then there’s the threat to us.

While Obama was overcommitted to the wrongheaded “right war” in Afghanistan, Putin and Khamenei were preparing a much bigger play for the heart of the Arab Middle East — which will be pointed like a dagger, not just at Israel, but at the entire Western world.

Let me explain.

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Making Hillary Likable

October 2nd, 2015 - 5:19 am

Not even Steven Spielberg could do it.

Thought for the Day

October 1st, 2015 - 4:09 pm

Colorado Governor Backing Away from Hillary

October 1st, 2015 - 2:04 pm
"Blunt?  What, like a marijuana cigaret or something?"

“Blunt? What, like a marijuana cigaret or something?”

There’s daylight showing between Hillary Clinton and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper — who had quietly endorsed the former SecState back in July, but now feels the need for some blunt talk about her chances.

From the Denver Post:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday became the latest Hillary Clinton supporter to express doubt about her candidacy for president, telling a Denver audience that the 2016 election is “kind of grim, to be blunt.”

Unlike most Republican candidates, Hickenlooper said he believes Clinton has the necessary background needed to run the country.

“But,” he added quickly, “I don’t know where this whole thing is going to go in terms of her … (e-mail) server and whether there is something in there that is really going to turn out to have broken the law — which I think would be the death knell.”

But Clinton did break the law, as Ken Cuccinelli explained earlier this week:

According to Cuccinelli, Clinton knowingly set up her e-mail system to route 100 percent of her e-mails to and through her unsecured server. And, although Clinton states that none of the emails were marked as “classified,” Cuccinelli argues that as secretary of state she knew that “the marking is not what makes the material classified; it’s the nature of the information itself.”

While it is possible for a private residence to be an “authorized” location, there are specific and severe requirements to achieve such status and Cuccinelli says that there is no known evidence that Clinton received the proper authorization.

The question remains whether Clinton will be charged or not.

At this point Hillary simply must win the White House, or the FBI might catch up with her before she has the chance to pardon herself.

Florida Heat

October 1st, 2015 - 12:58 pm

And it’s on!

Allahpundit has today’s best take on Jeb versus Marco:

Here’s the clip [above], the funniest part of which comes when Bush is challenged to say directly whether he thinks Rubio has the skills to fix things. For a moment he seems to grasp for a politic way of saying no without actually saying it, and then he just says it — and seems almost surprised that he did. You’d see the exact same look on the face of a “sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom” upon getting into a fight and suddenly finding himself landing a hard right to his opponent’s jaw. He didn’t know he had it in him! That’s the first clip. The second is of Trump calling BS — really — on the Bush/Rubio friendship. Exit question: Should we start a pool on when Jeb drops out and endorses Rubio as the only man in the race with the skills to fix things? I’ll take the day after the Florida primary.

Not a chance I’ll take that bet against Allah, unless he’s willing to give me Jeb and 15 points. The latest poll still has Trump on top, but second place Rubio beats Bush by eight points — a number which seems likely to increase in a state where both men are already well known. And if Trump does end up slipping, Carson and Fiorina seem much more likely than Bush (or anyone else) to pick up the slack.

Rubio still worries me — has he learned his lesson on immigration, and has he grown up any since letting Chuck Schumer take his lunch money over it? But I’m certainly not going to weep over Jeb’s troubles.

Straighten Up and Fly Right

October 1st, 2015 - 11:27 am
(Shutterstock photo)

(Shutterstock photo)

China seems to be engaging in some wishful thinking — and some shady sales practices — with its new J-31 stealthy-ish fighter:

Recently someone in China anonymously posted performance data for the new Chinese J-31 fighter. This was in the form of a sales brochure (for trade shows) that had not been distributed to the public. So far the manufacturer has been vague about J-31 performance data. This despite the fact that the J-31 has been showing up at Chinese weapons shows. But so far this promotion has been all about looking at the impressive appearance of the J-31, not crunching any numbers.

It gets more interesting when you realize that the recently posted data ascribes better engine performance than actual engines the Chinese have in service or access to. There were also descriptions of J-31 electronics that sounded more like a Chinese wish list than anything the Chinese have or are known to be developing. Many in the industry see this as some kind of desperate publicity stunt. Efforts to sell the J-31 have not been very successful so far.

Countries buy Chinese when they can’t afford Russian, and they buy Russian when they care more about looking good on parade than performing well on the battlefield.

Still, give Beijing credit on the J-31 for making a crappy copy of our gear instead of a crappy copy of Russian gear.

Putin’s Middle East

October 1st, 2015 - 10:09 am
Bashar Assad sitting pretty because Vladimir Putin has his back. (AP file photo)

Bashar Assad sitting pretty because Vladimir Putin has his back.
(AP file photo)

It’s been more than two years since Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ were first warned of the Russo-Iranian Axis that would come to dominate the Middle East — and now here it is in action:

Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join government forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters.

“The (Russian) air strikes will in the near future be accompanied by ground advances by the Syrian army and its allies,” said one of the sources familiar with political and military developments in the conflict.

“It is possible that the coming land operations will be focused in the Idlib and Hama countryside,” the source added.

The two sources said the operation would be aimed at recapturing territory lost by President Bashar al-Assad’s government to rebels. [Emphasis added]

Please pay particular attention to that last line as we venture back to the UN so that we might see the Obama administration’s reaction:

[Secretary of State John] Kerry told the United Nations Security Council that the U.S. would not object to Russians hitting Islamic State or al-Qaida targets, but airstrikes just to strengthen the hand of Syrian President Bashar Assad would be worrisome. Later, after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Kerry said he had spoken about U.S. “concerns about the nature of the targets, the type of targets and the need for clarity with respect for them.

“It is one thing obviously to be targeting ISIL. We are concerned obviously if that is not what is happening,” Kerry said.

Anyone who can read a map — this definition would seem to exclude most senior members of Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom’s administration — isn’t at all surprised by Russia’s airstrikes. Senator John McCain “said he could ‘absolutely confirm’ that members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), who had been funded and trained by the CIA, were among those targeted.” The Syrian rebels, our supposed allies, hold the areas closest to Damascus and the coastal regions still held by forces loyal to Assad. The ISIS-held areas mostly lie far to the east, closer to Iraq.

So of course Russo-Iranian forces are concentrating on defeating the rebels, who pose the most immediate threat to Assad. And yet Obama negotiated in good faith with Putin on Monday, with some sort of expectation that Putin would attack our enemies rather than his own.

Naiveté. Idiocy. Madness. As though anybody in the Middle East cares about Kerry’s “concerns” while Moscow and Tehran are actually taking strong action.

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Trump: Objectively Pro-♡bamaCare!!!

October 1st, 2015 - 8:43 am

Say it ain’t so!

Good lord:

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner claimed during the U.N. General Assembly on Monday that a former Obama administration official attempted to convince Argentina to “provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel.”

Kirchner claimed Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, visited Argentina and suggested the nation provide Iran with nuclear fuel in 2010, two years into Obama’s presidency.

However, after the government in Argentina requested the fuel transfer request in writing, in keeping with protocol, Kirchner said the Minister of Foreign Affairs never heard from Samore again.

I honestly don’t know what to add to this report, other than to tell you we can at least hope it isn’t true.

Or maybe that’s the most we can do.

Putin’s War

October 1st, 2015 - 6:16 am

I bet Vladimir Putin thinks it’s kinda cute when US officials try to act as forward air controllers for Russian warplanes in Syria.

Sooooo cute:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would have “grave concerns” if Russia used its airstrikes in Syria to support President Bashar Assad against groups other than Islamic State or al-Qaida.

Kerry spoke as Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria targeting what it said were Islamic State positions. U.S. officials and others cast doubt on that claim, saying the Russians appeared to be attacking opposition groups fighting Syrian government forces. On Wednesday, some U.S.-backed rebel groups claimed they were hit by Russian airstrikes but those claims could not be confirmed.

At the White House, presidential spokesman Josh Earnest also expressed concern over the Russia’s actions.

The last Obama White House spokesmodel, Jay Carney, evidently thought it was cute to have Soviet propaganda posters in his house.

Speaking of cute, read how Obama is “adamant” that Assad must go:

A day after clashing with Russian President Vladimir Putin over how to handle the crisis in Syria, Obama hosted a counterterrorism summit at the United Nations to take stock of the one-year air war against IS fighters in Iraq and Syria.

‘In Syria … defeating ISIL requires, I believe, a new leader,’ Obama told the gathering, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

We have concerns, grave concerns, and wishful thinking. Putin has warplanes bombing the crap out of Assad’s enemies.

This is Putin’s War now.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 1st, 2015 - 5:11 am

I remember when people were called crazy or racist or whatever for believing that ♡bamaCare!!! benefits might be extended to illegal aliens.


Congress’s most vocal immigration reformer introduced legislation Wednesday that would extend ObamaCare to the millions of people who are in the country illegally.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez said his bill serves both a moral and economic purpose. Invoking the recent visit of Pope Francis, the Illinois Democrat said expanding the law’s health benefits would help the nation’s most vulnerable.

“Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you means moving forward with no restrictions on which brother and sister and neighbor we think of as ‘eligible’ or ‘deserving,’ ” Gutiérrez said on the House floor.

Incentives, how do they work?

Thought for the Day

September 30th, 2015 - 4:50 pm

Drink to Your Health

September 30th, 2015 - 1:48 pm
Cures what ails ya. (Shutterstock photo)

Cures what ails ya.
(Shutterstock photo)

As the cold & flu season approaches, you might want to stock up on bourbon and honey:

Good news for those prone to nightcaps and chronic congestion: hot toddies might actually be good for you after all! Like any miracle cure, there’s still a catch… you can’t drink too much. A recent article on VinePair praised bourbon’s ability to naturally decongest all the crummy snot in your body, saying “the alcohol dilates the blood vessels, making it easier for your mucus membranes to deal with the infection.”

However, you should limit your intake to only one ounce of bourbon, as too much delicious whiskey can both dehydrate you and inflame the mucus membrane. Honey, the other vital ingredient in a hot toddy, also acts as a natural chest decongestant, according to a 2007 study which says some “parents rated honey most favorably for symptomatic relief of their child’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to upper respiratory tract infection.”

I do believe I’ll feel a sniffle coming on tonight around bedtime.

(With a tip of the hat to Sarah Hoyt, my new favorite enabler.)

Pray Vlad Doesn’t Alter It Any Further

September 30th, 2015 - 12:32 pm
Lando'd again. (Image courtesy Lucasfilm)

Lando’d again.
(Image courtesy Lucasfilm)

Yet another indicator that this is Putin’s Middle East now:

Russian warplanes began bombarding Syrian opposition targets in the war-torn nation’s north Wednesday, following a terse meeting at which a Russian general asked Pentagon officials to clear out of Syrian air space and was rebuffed, Fox News has learned.

A U.S. official said Russian airstrikes targeted fighters in the vicinity of Homs, located roughly 60 miles east of a Russian naval facility in Tartus, and were carried out by a “couple” of Russian bombers. The strikes hit targets in Homs and Hama, but there is no presence of ISIS in those areas, a senior U.S. defense official said. These planes are hitting areas where Free Syrian Army and other anti-Assad groups are located, the official said.

According to a U.S. senior official, Presidents Obama and Putin agreed on a process to “deconflict” military operations. The Russians on Wednesday “bypassed that process,” the official said.

“That’s not how responsible nations do business,” the official said.

Vladimir would be happy to serve our Senior Official some cheese with that whine.

Trump Would Cut How Much?

September 30th, 2015 - 11:51 am
He'd cut taxes by THIS much. (Shutterstock photo)

He’d cut taxes by THIS much.
(Shutterstock photo)

There are some big scary numbers in Donald Trump’s tax plan:

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s tax plan would cost an eye-popping $12 trillion over 10 years, according a new estimate that runs directly counter to the billionaire’s pledge not to increase the deficit with the proposal.

The conservative Tax Foundation, which has been scoring candidates’ tax proposals throughout the race, found that Trump’s changes to the individual tax code would add $10.2 trillion to the deficit using traditional scoring methods, his corporate tax cuts would add $1.54 trillion and his proposal to eliminate the estate tax would add another $238 billion.

$12,000,000,000,000 over ten years isn’t exactly chump change.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is, at least under the Tax Foundation’s traditional scoring, is that Trump would add $1.2 trillion more to the deficit each year, on top of the $400 billion to $900 billion or so already baked into the budget each and every one of the next ten years.

And that’s before Trump gets his way on greatly expanding Washington’s commitment to spending on health coverage. By comparison, Bernie Sanders — the socialist — would add about $1.6 trillion each year.

Bernie of course comes at these huge deficits from the spending side, while Trump gets there from the revenue side. If I have to choose, I’ll choose Trump — but that kind of debt is unsustainable.

There is of course a simple solution: $1.25 in spending cuts for every $1.00 in tax cuts — and before too long, Washington is back to the size it was meant to be.

Another Hawk Bites the Dust

September 30th, 2015 - 10:46 am

The Defense Department is losing its top Russia hand, Evelyn Farkas, after five years at the Pentagon and an adult lifetime spent working on European security issues:

As assistant secretary of defense, she traveled widely as part of the ongoing international standoff with Russia over Ukraine. All along, however, Russia has been a deep point of contention between the White House and the Pentagon.

Obama pushed out his previous defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, after he urged a stronger American response to Russia’s aggression. Hagel also questioned the president’s strategy for arming so-called moderate Syrian fighters against the Islamic State, a program that has since all but imploded in an embarrassment for the administration.

Further complicating matters — and uniting those two crises — are Russia’s recent military deployments in Syria, which include some 32 combat aircraft along with attack helicopters, armored vehicles and many troops.

Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to learn more about Russia’s intentions in Syria. Obama has asked for answers from his national security team about Russia, but the limits he has placed on potential U.S. action might mean they don’t have many new options to recommend.

In testimony last year before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Farkas took a hard line on Russia, saying the country’s actions “stand as an affront to the international order that we and our allies have worked to build since the end of the Cold War.”

She seems like a bad fit for the current Administration.

Hillary’s Secret Spy Network

September 30th, 2015 - 9:38 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Today’s deep reporting from Mark Hemingway is not to bemused:

In March, an investigation by ProPublica and Gawker revealed that a “secret spy network” that was not on the State Department payroll, run by longtime Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, was “funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State’s private account starting before the Benghazi attack.” Now the WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA’s clandestine service in Europe who was working directly with Blumenthal as a member of Clinton’s spy network, was concurrently working as a consultant to CBS News and its venerable news program 60 Minutes.

According to WEEKLY STANDARD sources, Drumheller was active in shaping the network’s Benghazi coverage. His role at the network raises questions about what went wrong with the retracted 60 Minutes report on Benghazi that aired in October 2013.

Read the whole thing.

Eisenhower famously warned America against the Military-Industrial Complex, but today’s threat to liberty and prosperity lies in the Media-Government Complex.

Also: Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Hillary Is Running Scared

First Boehner, Then Mitch

September 30th, 2015 - 8:46 am

Who is your choice for House Speaker?

Mine might surprise you.

Putin’s War

September 30th, 2015 - 7:31 am

And so it begins:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia suddenly escalated the stakes in his contest with the West over influence in the Middle East on Wednesday, as Russian pilots carried out their first airstrikes in Syria.

Russian warplanes dropped bombs near the central city of Homs, according to American officials in Washington, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make a public statement. Moscow informed American officials in advance, they said.

The attack came hours after Mr. Putin pushed a measure through the upper house of Parliament approving the use of Russian military forces abroad.

Putin’s parliament might be more rubber stamp than democratic, but at least he got its seal of approval before going to war, unlike our American Caudillo who launched his illegal war in Libya without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress.

My paranoid side wonders if this whole thing isn’t a setup from the get-go. Based on snippets I’ve read here and there across the internet’s darker tubes, ISIS seems at least in part to be a front for Russian military and energy interests. Certainly, their propaganda/snuff films enjoy a level of professionalism one associates more with Russian intelligence than with Islamic death cultists. And a quick “defeat” of ISIS by Russian forces would position Putin as the savior of Syria, Iraq, and various Middle Eastern minority groups.

But those are just paranoid thoughts, probably best kept private.

Perhaps we’ll know more as we watch Putin’s War unfold.

Why Hillary Reversed Course on the Cadillac Tax

September 30th, 2015 - 6:10 am
"Support the Cadillac tax? You mean, like, with a pole?"

“Support the Cadillac tax? You mean, like, with a pole?”


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called for scrapping the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on pricey health care benefits.

In what amounts to a major break with the Obama administration, Clinton said the tax ought to be junked while promising to replace the estimated $91 billion hole that would blow in the government’s budget.

This one threw me for a loop, because ♡bamaCare!!!’s “Cadillac tax” isn’t widely understood by the public and won’t go into effect until well after the election. Even then, it’s a vise cranking down gradually on private insurance, rather than being implemented suddenly and painfully. (Hand it to the Democrats; they know how to screw you slowly.)

But then I saw the Chaser:

Teamsters officials met behind closed doors today. The union refused to endorse Hillary Clinton for president.

The officials told FOX News they want to meet with Donald Trump.
James Rosen reported:

“Union executives told me they want to sit down with Republican candidates, most noatably, front-runner Donald Trump who has collaborated with unionized work forces across his real estate career.”

The Clinton Coalition loses its shock troops if Hillary loses union support, and unions hate the Cadillac tax, which is aimed like… well, it’s aimed like a punitive 40% surcharge on private insurance.

On the other hand, the Cadillac tax is beloved by the Progressive True Believers, who correctly see it as an effective maskirovka on the long march to single payer.

So it would appear that Clinton has decided she needs her union shock troops more than she needs her Progressive True Believers, and has quite suddenly pulled away from her previously unwavering support for ♡bamaCare!!! as the Totally Settled Law of the Land™.

Hillary is running scared.

Putin’s Not-So-Secret War VII

September 30th, 2015 - 5:32 am
Czar Vladimir I (Shutterstock photo)

Czar Vladimir I
(Shutterstock photo)

Here’s NATO top general Philip Breedlove on Russia’s Syria deployments:

“As we see the very capable air defense [systems] beginning to show up in Syria, we’re a little worried about another A2/AD bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean,” said Breedlove to an audience at the German Marshall Fund Monday.

A2/AD stands for anti-access/area denial. During the early stages of warfare, A2/AD could have been a moat around a castle, or spikes dug into the ground—anything to keep the enemy off a certain swathe of territory. In the 21st century, however, A2/AD is a combination of systems such as surface-to-air missile batteries and anti-ship missiles deployed to prevent forces from entering or traversing a certain area—from land, air or sea.

Ostensibly Russia’s deployments are intended to defend the Assad regime from terrorists and rebels. But deployments are intentions, and neither the ISIS nor any of the rebel groups have airplanes to shoot down or warships to sink.

We and our allies, however, do.

Syria is fast becoming the Middle East outpost of the New Russian Empire.