This looks, this feels, like Star Wars. For the first time since the announcement, I’m feeling more excitement than dread about what JJ Abrams could do to restore the franchise.
PS I have got to see that new Sith lightsaber in action!
This looks, this feels, like Star Wars. For the first time since the announcement, I’m feeling more excitement than dread about what JJ Abrams could do to restore the franchise.
PS I have got to see that new Sith lightsaber in action!
TNR’s Reid Cherlin reports on the trip he took halfway around the world with Chuck Hagel
It was a weird trip, that jaunt to Asia. Hagel was due at a meeting of defense ministers from the ASEAN countries, being held in Brunei, and he made stops along the way in Hawaii, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Manila to show off the Obama Administration’s “strategic rebalance,” better known as the “pivot” to Asia. The day before Hagel took off from Andrews Air Force Base, however, Bashar al-Assad launched a Sarin attack on his own people, and Washington began to gear up for punitive airstrikes. It left the Secretary in the unenviable position of having to embark on a low-stakes diplomatic trip as the real decision-making was going on back in the capital. Hagel and his press staff made a big deal about how he was staying up all night to join secure videoconferences with the White House, and how a modern-day Pentagon chief needs to be able to walk and chew gum—but it was painfully awkward that the President was planning a war and hadn’t recalled the Secretary of Defense to come and help. Instead, this veteran legislator and heterodox thinker—boss of the world’s largest military—was asked to be a human placeholder.
But I doubt the next SecDef will do any better.
I’ll rerun this holiday classic every year until they stop doing Thanksgiving.
The Perfect Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Club
[The above photograph is for demonstration purposes only. Please don't think you can come over here and eat my sandwich. Also, don't lick the screen.]
Leftover turkey. White meat, dark meat — it’s all good.
Bacon. And lots of it.
Bread. Whole wheat.
Tomatoes. Sliced and deseeded.
Mayonnaise. Real. If it comes out of a squeezy jar, it ain’t real.
Salt & pepper
The trick to making a perfect sandwich is in the layering. Also, if you’re piling it up tall, don’t toast the bread — you’ll need something you can grip. If not, lightly toasted is very nice.
Now then: The layers.
I live at a shade under 7,500 feet above sea level. So I have to move fast, take the bread out last, and spread on the mustard and mayo right away to help keep it moist. If you do, too, get all your mise on, then get your bread.
On the lefthand slice, spread on the mayo. On the right, the mustard.
Continue piling everything else on the mayo side, in this order:
Season the tomato right now with a little salt and too much pepper.
Bacon. No fewer than four slices, if you know what’s good for you.
Now add the mustard slice on top — mustard down, please — to complete it.
Nom nom nom.
You want your B and L and T all together, because they make a classic combo. And you want them on the mayo side, because that’s classic, too. And you need the lettuce in-between the tomato and the bread, to keep the bread from getting soaked as you squeeze that bad boy down to fit in your mouth. (I know, I know — can’t let the bread get too dry, can’t let the bread get too wet. I’m picky. But there’s a reason we call this sandwich “perfect.”)
The turkey and the bacon go great together, too, so you want them right next to one another. And turkey and Gulden’s together? Heavenly. Lastly, and for reasons I cannot fathom, the sandwich works best with the veggies on the bottom and the meats on top — so don’t be a damn fool and eat it upside-down. There’s a right way and a wrong way to eat perfection. And that’s meats up/veggies down.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Casa Verde.
♡bamaCare!!! “customers” might not be prepared for all the new hassles coming their way in the New Year:
That worries officials at Connecticut’s exchange, Access Health CT.
Acting CEO Jim Wadleigh is concerned the Internal Revenue Service won’t be prepared to handle the call volume from customers who aren’t familiar with the tax process and will have more complicated returns because of the health law.
He also worries that many of the exchange’s customers will have questions about how to handle their taxes and about the tax form they’ll receive in January to show that they bought coverage through the exchange. The exchange isn’t allowed to offer tax advice, but Wadleigh expects many customers will call seeking guidance.
And so, in the midst of a busy sign-up period for coverage, the exchange is also working on a push to prepare this year’s customers for tax time. That includes sending multiple letters to explain the new tax form that exchange customers will receive in January. The form will be required for completing their taxes.
It seems like just yesterday that the Complicit Media and its hangers-on in the Explanatory Field were parroting the White House’s claims that ♡bamaCare!!! would save us billions by eliminating needless paperwork. Instead, hospitals and doctors are drowning in new forms, and soon it will be the turn of ♡bamaCare!!!’s happy mandate-customers.
You’d think somebody could have seen this coming.
All of us on the other side said this is exactly what would happen.
One of us.
Heads ought to roll, but instead they’ll just learn to parrot the new pravda and to explain away the next legislative disaster.
Are you ready and willing to bail out the unions?
According to the recently released 2014 annual report from the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, the deficit in PBGC’s multiemployer program increased from $8.6 billion in 2013 to $42.4 billion in 2014.
This massive deficit is problematic for the millions of workers who stand to receive mere pennies on the dollar in promised pension benefits.
It’s also a problem for taxpayers, who could be charged with bailing out private-sector pensions that were never intended to be public liabilities.
Both policymakers and the public have paid relatively little attention to the dire financial status of PBGC’s multiemployer program. This year’s report of a five-fold deficit increase may help expose an overlooked problem.
Private rewards, socialized risk. See, we’re all in this together, but some are more together than others.
Jon Gruber was telling the state of Wisconsin that premiums would spike under his pet law, at the exact same time his boss, whose signature adorns the unloved legislation, was promising the average American family would save $2,500 a year. Kelly Riddell has the story:
Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist currently under fire for suggesting the Obama administration tried to deceive the public about the Affordable Care Act, was hired by former Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010 to conduct an analysis on how the federal health-care reform would impact the state.
Mr. Gruber’s study predicted about 90 percent of individuals without employer-sponsored or public insurance would see their premiums spike by an average of 41 percent. Once tax subsidies were factored in, about 60 percent of those in the individual market were projected to see their premiums go up 31 percent, according to his analysis.
The difference between Obama and Gruber is that you will occasionally get the truth out of Gruber.
Meet Al Hunt, broken record:
Democrats, to be sure, will keep stressing pay equity — appealing to female voters — and raising the minimum wage, which will be higher in Germany and the U.K. They will also press to expand the valuable earned income tax credit for the working poor. However, these measures only marginally affect wage stagnation and the lagging middle class.
There are smart Democratic policy researchers who think about this a lot, including Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger, both Princeton University economists and former top Democratic officials.
In general, their message for Democrats is to shift from a defensive posture as deficit reducers to become proactive advocates of stimulus measures, especially a major infrastructure initiative. A robust economy won’t end wage stagnation or income inequality, but it’s a step.
Spending our way to prosperity is totally gonna work this time.
Christian Bale on learning that Ben Affleck would play Batman in the next Superman movie:
“I’ve got to admit initially, even though I felt that it was the right time to stop, there was always a bit of me going, ‘Oh go on … Let’s do another,’” he told Empire magazine, according to Comic Book Movie.
“So when I heard there was someone else doing it, there was a moment where I just stopped and stared into nothing for half an hour,” Bale added.
“I’m 40,” he said. “The fact that I’m jealous of someone else playing Batman … I think I should have gotten over it by now.”
I’m 45 and I’m jealous of them both.
Hell, I’m jealous of Adam West.
It’s a big week for turning against Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom. Here’s Dick Morris hopping on the bandwagon:
President Obama’s amnesty for illegal immigrants will produce a disaster of unparalleled magnitude when the ObamaCare employer mandate kicks in.
Those granted amnesty will not be eligible for ObamaCare. The amnesty will merely keep them safe from deportation; it won’t make them legal. And ObamaCare can only go to citizens and legal noncitizens living in the U.S.
But the employer mandate in ObamaCare requires large companies to offer insurance to each of their full-time workers or pay a hefty fine to the government for failing to do so.
Combine these two programs and you have a huge incentive for employers to dismiss any blue-collar workers on their payroll and replace them with illegal immigrants covered by amnesty. These folks are allowed to work but not to get ObamaCare. An employer can’t be fined for failing to offer ObamaCare to employees who are ineligible to receive it. It’s an employer’s dream!
Morris has never really been on anyone’s side other than his own, but it’s also not like him to turn so forcefully against someone so powerful.
So I guess the lesson here is that the President is no longer so powerful.
Chuck Schumer is a consummate politician, in every slick and oily sense of the word “politician.” With that in mind, read this:
While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies “are and will continue to be positive changes,” he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.
“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them,” Schumer said. “We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform.”
The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such “a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense.”
Ignore for the moment Schumer’s rehash-of-rashed policy prescriptions, and his lame attempt to pivot to more of the same, and consider something else instead.
Schumer, about to join the Senate minority caucus for the first time in eight years, telegraphed that the anti-♡bamaCare!!! backlash has only just begun.
Would you like some popcorn with your Thanksgiving dinner?
Another indecent act of explanatory journalism by Andrew Klavan.
Who’s in charge of Apple’s cloud services? No one, apparently:
While Apple is known for providing a top-notch integrated software and hardware experience, its ability to provide services, particularly those that run remotely, has been scrutinized in recent years. Apple Maps was a fiasco on its own, leading to a shakeup of the company’s executive team, and the company hasn’t fared particularly well since.
According to the report, iCloud Photo Library has been in flux because of the lack of a “centralized team working on core cloud infrastructure” at Apple. iCloud Photo Library also lacks a project manager to lead the initiative at One Infinite Loop, leaving developers responsible for working on “nearly everything on their own.”
“One person close to the company says Apple is taking some steps to build some common cloud technology but has moved slowly in part because it’s used to projects residing in isolated teams,” the report claims.
iCloud usually works just fine at what it does; the problem is it doesn’t do enough. That’s why millions of otherwise happy Apple customers still use third-party solutions like Dropbox and Google’s services. One of the smartest things Tim Cook has done so far as CEO was to eliminate Scott Forstall’s iOS silo, and force development across hardware and software lines.
It’s past time to do something similar for iCloud.
Automatic budget sequestration cut deeply into the U.S. Air Force’s training in 2012. Air Combat Command got just $3.1 billion—three-quarters of what it needed to fully train the thousands of pilots flying the command’s 1,600 F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighters, A-10 attack jets and B-1 bombers.
So the command did something radical—and with far-reaching consequences as American air power retools for fighting high-tech foes following more than decade bombing insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Air Combat Command stripped certain airplanes of many of their missions, thus cutting back on the number of flight hours a particular pilot needed to be officially war-ready. Air-to-air dogfighting and low-altitude maneuvering suddenly became much rarer skills.
Perhaps most interestingly, the command essentially barred F-16s—at a thousand strong, America’s most numerous fighter—from engaging any enemy jet newer than a 1970s-vintage MiG-23.
Air-to-air combat has become a rarity in today’s battlespace, but scrimping on training is exactly the kind of thing which gets people killed — and loses wars.
Howard Kurtz reports:
“I really want to stay out of the limelight,” said Rich Weinstein, a Philadelphia investment adviser. “This is not about me.”
But it is about him in the sense that if not for one slightly obsessed citizen, we wouldn’t have the videos of Jonathan Gruber saying the health care law was deceptively designed and its passage depended on the stupidity of the American public. And it is about his frustrating struggle to get that information out to the media.
Still, Weinstein would not be coaxed into an on-camera interview, or even provide a photograph. He doesn’t want his 15 minutes.
“I think people are going to look for a target. I don’t want to be Rich the Plumber,” he told me.
Weinstein is up front about the fact that his motives were personal. His insurance policy was canceled, he says, because of the Affordable Care Act, and his premiums wound up doubling.
He started out searching for another administration adviser and then switched to Gruber. He sat through hour after tedious hour of video taken at academic conferences and in other settings.
The lesson here is that the evidence was there, had been there for years — and that the Palace Guard Media was deeply uninterested in doing any kind of investigative reporting on the man who gave us ♡bamaCare!!!. But private citizens can still, in the immortal words of Ken Layne, fact-check your ass.
Still, you’d think by now all those six- and seven-figure Washington journalists would be sick and tired of getting scooped.
Sadly, this one doesn’t include some rare live performance I found on YouTube. Instead, we have Gideon Rachman explaining spheres on influence and “the Sinatra doctrine.” Read:
As Moscow sees it [Beijing, too], America’s global military reach is so pervasive that Washington has got used to treating the whole world as its “sphere of influence”. There are US troops in Japan and South Korea, US naval and air force bases in Bahrain and Qatar, and Nato bases all over Europe – to name just a few of America’s most high-profile global commitments.
The American response is to point out that the US global military presence is built around alliances between willing partners. Indeed, in an effort to underline the idea that America now genuinely repudiates the idea of spheres of influence, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, even declared last year that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is dead”. Henceforth, it seems, America will endorse what a Soviet spokesman once called “the Sinatra doctrine” – the idea that all nations can do it their way.
It will not be hard for the governments in Moscow and Beijing to point to continuing inconsistencies in America’s rejection of spheres of influence. But the US argument still rests on a basic truth. There is a vast difference between a sphere of influence based on willing consent and one that is constructed around intimidation and force.
The other guys never had a chance, really. “They hate us for our freedom” isn’t just an empty phrase we uttered to comfort ourselves after 9/11; it’s a simple truth, as true in Moscow and Beijing as it is in the caves of Afghanistan or in the meeting rooms of Tehran. But our freedom is also why America is a magnet — for immigrants and for willing allies.
But liberty is a precious gift, easy to squander. The more we become like a regular country, the less like a magnet we’ll become, too. That’s good news for the bad guys and bad news for everyone else.
One of the most noticeable was the road-mobile JY-26 “Skywatch-U” 3-D long-range air surveillance radar. China had plenty of road-mobile radars on display, but this one claimed a unique capability — “stealth target detection.” This towering radar is a clear symbol of China’s continued desire to locate and destroy stealth aircraft like the B-2 bomber and F-22 and F-35 fighters.
According to a brochure by the East China Research Institute of Electronic Engineering (ECRIEE), this radar “boasts double stealth target detection virtues thanks to operation in UHF [ultra high frequency] band and owning of large power-aperture product” for both air breathing targets and tactical missiles. The range of the UHF radar is not cited on the brochure, but other details are, including electronic counter-countermeasures and a complex digital active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar capable of tracking 500 targets.
Developments like these are why our stand-off capabilities must be further developed, from longer-ranged air-to-air missile to hypervelocity kinetic kill vehicles.
File this one in that big, fat, and growing folder labeled “Coverage Does Not Equal Care.” Read:
Millions of Americans bought health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act in the past year. Now, several shortcomings in the system have been discovered.
“Now,” Kemosabe? Some of us have been warning about just this for years. Anyway, pardon the interruption:
In some markets, doctors are reluctant to take on patients who bought health insurance plans through the state and federal exchanges that were created by “Obamacare.”
“I think doctors have a couple of problems with the exchange policies,” said Dr. Austin King, an otolaryngologist and president of the Texas Medical Association.
People often don’t understand their insurance coverage, so staff members have to educate them, “and that adds to the hassle of seeing these patients,” King said.
Another problem: Doctors are wary of the law’s provision giving people with subsidized coverage a 90-day grace period before their coverage is cancelled for failing to pay the premium. Doctors fear they could end up on the hook for care provided to people who lose their coverage, King explained.
Recent news reports also indicate that some doctors in states like New York and Florida are reluctant to accept Obamacare patients because reimbursement rates are well below those of traditional health insurance plans.
I would like to remind potential Democrat presidential contenders that Florida and New York ain’t exactly Flyover Red Country, and to take that into consideration before deciding to run.
On the heels of last hour’s story about the guy who had algorithms shred his drivers license, we have this little goody from Brandon Morse:
Candice Padavick took a cab home one night. Upon trying to pay the taxi cab driver with a credit card, she was told he only took cash. Fearing he wasn’t going to get paid, the driver called the police, but thankfully the security guard in Padavick’s building realized what was happening and paid the cab driver himself. The guard then told the cab driver to call the police back and inform them the matter was resolved.
That should have been the end of it.
It wasn’t much later that police were pulling Padavick out of her apartment. According to Padavick “They pull me out of the apartment and my towel fell of my head, and I started trying to run back inside, and the cops come into my apartment….And so he’s jerking me around and so I have his arm and my robe hanging off and this is completely open-nothing underneath. And then more cops up,” Police claimed they did not need a warrant to enter her home.
She was then cuffed, and detained completely naked in public for around 30 minutes.
Who the hell does this to a woman so obviously unarmed that she’s just out of the shower?
South Korea is cracking down on sellers of new-to-me tech called “selfie sticks.” Read:
Sadly, they’re not arresting them for the crime of making people look uncool. No, the Korean government are organising a crack down because the bluetooth devices haven’t been properly tested before going on sale and could cause other electronics to malfunction, Korea Times reports. Anyone found selling the untested tech could face fines of up to 30 million won (£17,000) and a prison sentence of up to three years.
Sophie Gadd is the author of this piece, and for once I’m going to take issue with the snark. Selfie sticks seem like a great idea for getting group shots, which used to put people at the mercy of strangers. “Hi, excuse me, would you take a picture of us?” And the stranger would smile and nod and say “sure” and then, about 60% of the time in my experience, take a really crappy photo. I know, I know — beggars can’t be choosers. But with a selfie stick, you don’t have to beg.
You do, however, need to keep the regulators happy, and that means making sure your Bluetooth shutter release is compliant with the local regulations.
New York magazine features a sympathetic interview with a gentleman from Canada who …dates… horses:
When did you first realize you were attracted to horses? Do you have a horse “coming of age” narrative?
The first time I saw a horse I was 7 years old. There was a carnival in a parking lot across the street from my house and it had a parade of them walking around in circles. I begged my parents to let me go so I could ride the ponies, but when I got on a horse’s back I was absolutely horrified. I bawled my eyes out. I think I was bothered by how awful the situation was for them. All they did was go ’round and ’round; I could sense something about that in their attitude.
Did you experience sexual feelings?
No, I was only 7. I started to notice horses in “that” way when I was about 11 or 12. Everybody else was stealing their dads’ Playboy magazines, but I had a book called The Big Book of the Horse.
I’m going to go Full Sergeant Schultz on this one and pretend it never, ever happened.
The Saudis have trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with C and that stands for civil war — the one in Yemen, that is:
The Shia takeover of the government has caused Yemeni border security to collapse. Most of the border guards have left their posts leaving the Saudis to deal with a lot more smugglers and illegal migrants. This is a major problem because the border is 1,700 kilometers long and most of it is with Saudi Arabia. Yemeni smugglers make a lot of money getting people across and then transporting them north to where the oil and jobs are. Many migrants, who can afford it, keep going to Europe. In a normal year (when the bribable Yemeni border guards are on duty) the Saudi border troops catch and turn back over a million illegal migrants, but several hundred thousand are believed to get through, at least based on the number later found to have settled in the north or made their way to Europe where they were interrogated by police there. The big problem here is that some of those getting through are Islamic terrorists and that’s why the Saudis also stop those trying to cross illegally into Yemen. But with the Shia rebel success in Yemen the Saudis are now concerned with Iran-backed Shia terrorists and spies coming north. The Saudis could invade Yemen to deal with the problem but even the Sunni majority down there is divided, and not all factions are agreeable to a Saudi intervention. It is a very unpleasant situation for the Saudis.
With ISIL in the north and chaos in the south, it must be getting harder and harder for the Saudis to buy themselves out of trouble. While my heart doesn’t exactly break for them, my head tells me the House of Saud is still better than any likely replacement.
In a move likely to further inflame tensions with Israel’s Arab citizens, the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a bill to legally define the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
The decision, which set off a stormy debate that could bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brittle coalition government, followed weeks of deadly Arab-Jewish violence and was denounced by critics as damaging to the country’s democratic character and poorly timed at such a combustible moment.
It now heads toward a full parliamentary vote on Wednesday.
Israel has always defined itself as the “Jewish state” — a term that was contained in the country’s declaration of independence in 1948. The new law seeks to codify that status as a “Basic Law,” Israel’s de facto constitution.
I don’t know what, if any, the practical effect of this law would be, but I am certain that this is a case of the Palestinians reaping what they sow.
Indeed, and here’s Brendan O’Neill to tell you about “the Stepford students” on college campuses everywhere:
Last month, at Britain’s other famously prestigious university, Cambridge, I was circled by Stepfords after taking part in a debate on faith schools. It wasn’t my defence of parents’ rights to send their children to religious schools they wanted to harangue me for — much as they loathed that liberal position — it was my suggestion, made in this magazine and elsewhere, that ‘lad culture’ doesn’t turn men into rapists. Their mechanical minds seemed incapable of computing that someone would say such a thing.
Their eyes glazed with moral certainty, they explained to me at length that culture warps minds and shapes behaviour and that is why it is right for students to strive to keep such wicked, misogynistic stuff as the Sun newspaper and sexist pop music off campus. ‘We have the right to feel comfortable,’ they all said, like a mantra.
I’m sure you know what Ben Franklin said about trading liberty for security. But these kids are so ignorant and spoiled, that they’d gladly trade their liberty for mere comfort. And that’s not physical comfort, like a nice apartment or a nice car, but the “moral” comfort of never having their puny little worldview ever challenged by anything ever.
But there’s probably nothing wrong with these kids that a week or so at something like Outward Bound couldn’t fix.
I can think of a (two-digit) number of cabinet officers who ought to get the boot before Chuck Hagel, but none more likely.
Now if you are President Obama, you have two choices to make regarding Hagel’s replacement:
• Another Chuck Hagel, bland but vaguely competent, who will sail through confirmation in the new GOP Senate.
• Play politics with an utterly contemptible and rejectable nominee who will play to some part of your base, while encouraging the absolute worst behavior from certain overly-excitable members of the opposition.
As the President, before choosing your course, remember the seriousness of our national security situation and the gravity of your decision.
Hoo boy, I really can tell a funny one, huh?
I needed that laugh. And now I’m going to cry.