See you in 2015 — hope you enjoy your holidays and some downtime just as much as we’re enjoying ours here at Casa Verde.
See you in 2015 — hope you enjoy your holidays and some downtime just as much as we’re enjoying ours here at Casa Verde.
There’s music lined up for all of Christmas day, but let’s settle in for a long winter’s nap with Dino.
If you absolutely, positively have to have some politics today — here you go.
If not, come back on Friday and this will still be here.
I don’t plan on doing anything more ambitious today than making (and helping to drain) a pitcher of Bloody Marys, stuffing myself with assorted gourmet treats, and peeling small children off of large wrapped boxes.
There might even be napping.
If Louis Armstrong had been born white, 30 years later, and grown up to be a punk rock drag queen…
…wait, we already have a Buster Poindexter!
While perhaps a coincidence, the failure of the country’s computer connections began only hours after President Obama declared Friday that the United States would launch a “proportional response” to what he termed an act of “cybervandalism” against Sony Pictures.
Over the weekend, as North Korean officials demanded a “joint investigation” into the Sony attacks and denied culpability — an assertion the United States rejected — Internet service began to get wobbly. By early Monday, the Internet went as dark as one of those satellite photographs showing the impoverished country by night.
Experts who monitor the health of the global Internet called it one of the worst North Korean network failures in years.
We talked about this very thing taping the week’s Trifecta segments yesterday, and part of my answer was that if I were President, I’d very quietly give our hackers the Go order.
If President Obama has done just that, my hat is off to him.
Forget ISIS — Iran has a much more immediate problem:
According to Iranian media, and the talk on the street, Iran is winning the conflict with the rest of the world over their nuclear program. The sanctions are being reduced and the next round of talks on the Iranian nuclear program are seven months away. The countries (China, France, Germany, Russia, the Great Britain and the United States) handling the anti-nuclear negotiations with Iran cannot agree on a strategy and are unable to get stronger sanctions imposed. But all this is an empty victory for Iran because what hurts Iran the most is the plunging price of oil. It’s down by half (from $110 to $55 a barrel) since 2013. Iran had long depended on $100 a barrel oil for their budget planning. That was recently cut to $70 and some officials admit that planners are now looking at what will happen if it gets down to $40. Such an event would be disastrous and every Iranian would feel the loss personally. Nearly half the government income comes from oil (which normally accounts for 25 percent of GDP). Iran is looking at serious (over ten percent) GDP shrinkage if low oil prices continue.
God bless the Saudis and American frackers.
Presented without comment, other than howls of pained laughter.
Merry Christmas, suckers:
In an ongoing effort to keep Obamacare numbers elevated, CMS has embarked on the next step of its government takeover of healthcare.
It seems CMS is taking a page from Jonathan Gruber’s book; rather than allowing the “stupid” masses to make a decision on their own health plan, CMS has proposed a new rule that includes an overly reaching provision allowing CMS to re-enroll anyone who has not made the annual trek back to healthcare.gov in a cheaper plan of CMS’ choosing.
That’s right, the government will choose your plan, perhaps limit access to your doctor, and ultimately make the decision on what is “best” for you.
Not to worry, just like Lady Justice, who wears a blindfold when determining guilt or innocence, CMS will use a blindfold to pick your plan. The agency will select your plan without knowing your medical history. They will do so without knowing if you are currently undergoing treatment or working with a specific doctor. They will do so without knowing your financial status. Despite the fact that the millions of people who already enrolled chose the plan that they believed was best for them.
With every new government program, the avenues for individual choice and action become narrower. Eventually the only signposts will read “ONE WAY” and “DEAD END.”
How low can oil go? Further:
OPEC met on Nov. 27 and declined to cut production despite a slide in prices, marking a shift in strategy towards defending market share rather than supporting prices.
“As a policy for OPEC, and I convinced OPEC of this, even Mr al-Badri (the OPEC Secretary General) is now convinced, it is not in the interest of OPEC producers to cut their production, whatever the price is,” Naimi was quoted by MEES as saying.
“Whether it goes down to $20, $40, $50, $60, it is irrelevant,” he said.
I used to drive a ’77 Mercedes SL which got 10 in the city and 14 on the highway — when I wasn’t goosing it up over 100 when the lanes were clear. Right now I’m thinking seriously about buying another one just like it.
Bill Bonner explains the fix we’re in:
US GDP is reported to be $18 trillion a year – with $3.5 trillion coming from US federal government spending. Add state and local government spending, and the total rises to more than $6 trillion.
This means that the private sector – the part that pays the bills – is only $12 trillion. Total debt – government, corporate and personal – in the US is now $58 trillion (misreported yesterday as $59 trillion… but what’s a trillion dollars between friends?). That’s nearly five times the real economy that supports it.
And it helps explain why it is so hard to “grow your way out” of debt. Assuming an annual interest rate of 2%, even if you could contain debt increases to 3% of GDP a year, the productive part of the economy would have to grow at 5% just to stay even. No developed economy in the world is growing that fast.
To our national shame, I believe the Obama Administration is the first in which our debt grew faster than GDP during every growth year.
All the right people are offended by Orlando’s newest tourist attraction, and I couldn’t be happier about it:
A new Orlando-area tourist attraction has opened up to add to the long list of other theme parks. But it’s unlike anything you’ll fins at Disney World, Universal Studiosm or Sea World. It’s called Machine Gun America.
It allows participants to fire live ammunition from fully automatic weapons.
“Everybody has something they always wanted to try,” General Manager Bruce Nierenberg told local CBS affiliate WTSP Channel 10 News. “This would be on people’s bucket list to try it and have a new experience.”
If you think that’s awesome — which it is — wait until you get to this next part:
Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of the 13,000 square foot facility being planted within the Mecca of Florida’s family-friendly theme parks.
“You’ve got Holy Land right there in Orlando. You’ve got Disney World, and Epcot,” said Lucia Kay McBath, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, “All places for family fun where they should feel protected.”
But it would appear that McBath is among the minority. The station is running a poll where it asks participants “Do you think it’s okay to allow kids as young as 13 to handle high-powered machine guns?”
Over 76% voted “Yes.”
I love this country.
Elizabeth Barber reports for Time:
Jürgen Todenhöfer, the first Western journalist to be granted access to territories controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), has returned with a warning: the terrorist group is “much stronger and much more dangerous” than its adversaries understand.
The veteran German writer and journalist is back in his home state after traveling through ISIS territories, just months after the extremist group began killing captive foreign workers and journalists. In Todenhöfer’s first interviews about the trip with German-language media, translated by the U.K. Independent, he presents ISIS as having achieved its namesake goal: an Islamic State — or rather, a collection of claimed lands hewed together by an audacious, baffling zealotry that will challenge efforts to beat the group.
“Boots on the ground,” that Obama era anathema, would have these guys routed in weeks.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” isn’t a song about date rape. It’s a cleverly told musical version of the age-old dance of seduction, where both dancers know exactly what they’re doing along the way to an almost predetermined (and happy!) ending. “Hook up culture” doesn’t teach those dance steps, which leads to lots of confusion and the occasional tragedy.
But enough of that — enjoy yourself some Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban.
Der Spiegel reports on Germany’s anti-Muslim wave:
What is going on in Germany, the world’s second most popular destination for immigrants? Has the open-mindedness for which Germans had long been praised now ended? Are we seeing a return of the vague fear of being overwhelmed by immigrants that Germany experienced in the 1990s, when a hostel for asylum seekers was burned down? How large is the new right-wing movement, and will it remain limited to Dresden, or is it spreading nationwide?
So far, protests held under the PEGIDA label in under cities — like Kassel and Würzburg — have attracted only a few hundred people at a time. In fact, some of the protests attracted significantly larger numbers of counter-demonstrators. And while thousands of “patriotic Europeans” aim to take to the streets in Dresden again in the coming days, their counterparts in Germany’s western states are taking a Christmas break. PEGIDA supporters are waiting until after the holidays to return to the streets in cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf and Unna.
Still, many Germans share the protestors’ views, according to a current SPIEGEL poll. Some 34 percent of citizens agreed with the PEGIDA protestors that Germany is becoming increasingly Islamicized.
“Tolerance” is hardly the word I’d use for Germany’s attitude — then or now — towards Muslim immigrants.
During Germany’s postwar Wirtschaftswunder, the country didn’t have enough workers to produce all the goods demanded by its newly-prosperous consumers and export industries. So Germany brought in millions of Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, mostly from Turkey. Back in 1984, I saw some of the Muslim areas in Cologne and West Berlin firsthand — and trust me, those slums were not the result of happy multiculti tolerance. The Turks were shoved into bad areas and assimilation with ethnic Germans was never on the menu.
So I’d argue that today’s protests aren’t some sudden U-turn in German-Gastarbeiter relations, but instead are a natural consequence of Germany’s decades-long refusal to assimilate its permanent “guests.”
There’s a lesson there, if only we’d bother to (re)learn it.
In the money sweepstakes, Bush is out to an early lead. Sitting in for me on my show Friday, “Hot Air”‘s Ed Morrissey asked “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd about the race for big donors now on between Bush and New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
“I think Christie’s going to be on the losing end of this,” Todd told Morrissey.
“I mean, look, Jeb Bush basically is the number one fundraiser, right now, will end up being the number one big fundraiser in Texas, the number one big fundraiser in Florida, the number one big fundraiser in California, and he might end up being the number one guy even in Wall Street in New York, because remember, a sitting governor has to be careful who he raises money from on Wall Street,” Todd added. “It’s a big, it’s a little bit of an arcane issue, but there’s a lot of issues there with sitting governors when it comes to raising Wall Street money.”
Bush is a former governor who hasn’t run a race since 2002, and he may already be sewing up the money for 2016? The GOP is finally developing a deep bench, and one candidate of moderate distinction, but with a an old family name, threatens to suck up all the oxygen.
That’s not America as I understand it.