Please, share the heck out of this one.
And for now, that’s all I’m allowed to say about that.
That’s from the man himself, Astro Teller, head of the company’s Google X lab:
Wearables, from Glass to smartwatches, also need to be cheaper — a lot cheaper — before they go mainstream.
“Every time you drop the price by a factor of 2, you roughly get a 10 times pick up of the number of people who will seriously consider buying it,” Teller said in an interview at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. That means “two more rounds of halving in price” for most wearables before they’re an attractive buy.
For certain products, like $30 or $40 pedometers, a big price cut probably won’t make much of a difference, he said. “But for a $200 watch, or Glass, or anything in between, I think it’s sort of fair.”
For Google Glass, which costs $1,500 today, cutting the price in half twice would mean a drop to $375 — though the company said it couldn’t comment on a price target or timeline for any cut. But Google, which generated almost $60 billion in sales and $13 billion in profit last year, could absorb the cost cut — if it did want to make Glass a mainstream gadget rather than a novelty.
More than the price, Google needs to do something to reduce Glass’s Creep Factor,
British police harassed a grandmother for hanging in her window a hand-knit baby gorilla for the neighborhood kids to enjoy:
Feast said she explained to the officers that she loved to knit and loved even more to display the toys she had knitted in her window for the amusement of neighborhood children.
According to Feast, officers said that — gorilla or not! — she still had to take down the toy because it had offended someone. But she refused, and a police department spokesman later said that there had not actually been a complaint at all:
“The police did not receive any calls from members of the public about this,” a spokesman for Cambridge Police said.
“Instead, while out on patrol, two PCSOs saw an object hanging from a window which they thought might be seen as a potentially racially offensive object.”
I would make a joke about armed art critics, but I don’t want to give the White House any ideas.
Admittedly, the subject is a sensitive one, but still:
For at least the second time since 2012, the federal government has brought criminal charges, accusing someone of training people on how to beat a polygraph test.
On Friday, prosecutors announced an indictment against Douglas G. Williams, a 69-year-old man from Norman, Okla., who’s accused of coaching people “how to lie and conceal crimes” during federally administered lie-detector tests.
Mr. Williams, who operates a company called Polygraph.com, says the mail fraud and obstruction of justice charges leveled against him are an “attack on his First Amendment rights.” The indictment follows the federal prosecution of an Indiana man who received eight months in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to similar charges.
“This indictment was brought to punish and silence me because I have the audacity to protest the use of the polygraph,” Mr. Williams said in a statement Monday.
There has got to be a First Amendment case to be made here, not just in defense of Williams but for throwing out ream after ream of so-called “criminal” offenses.
Roger Cohen and the “trauma” of ISIL and the chaos in the Middle East:
What is unbearable, in fact, is the feeling, 13 years after 9/11, that America has been chasing its tail; that, in some whack-a-mole horror show, the quashing of a jihadi enclave here only spurs the sprouting of another there; that the ideology of Al Qaeda is still reverberating through a blocked Arab world whose Sunni-Shia balance (insofar as that went) was upended by the American invasion of Iraq.
And more: that the loss of 4,500 American combat troops in Iraq and more than 100,000 Iraqi lives produced no victory or clarity, but only a broken society and country; that the Arab Spring, which promised a way out of the mutually reinforcing confrontation of quasi-military dictatorship and political Islam, ended (outside Tunisia) in frustration and a revenge of the extremists; that “Jihadi John,” for now, has the upper hand on “moderate Mohammed.”
The nightmare, in short, has less to do with the barbaric image itself than with the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness and déjà vu and exhaustion that it triggers.
President Obama has vowed to “destroy” Islamic State. But even if that were achieved, and for now the means deployed do not seem commensurate with the objective, in what metastasized configuration would Islamic State’s ideas resurface?
Read the whole thing.
The brutal truth is that we don’t need to destroy ISIL any more than we needed the Arab Spring to bring democratic republicanism and manicured lawns to the Nile Delta or to the suburbs of Damascus. What we tried and failed to do in Iraq was to create an island of stability, via a benign and overtly generous neo-neo-colonialism, to the very heart of the Middle East — in the one Arab country with a big and educated population, and something like a functional middle class. Having given up on that, our best hope is to keep the miserable place buzzing internally, in hopes that none of those bastards figures out a way to nuke or otherwise destroy an entire American city.
Because we all know 9/11 was just the warmup act. Pulling down some skyscrapers is one thing, but ripping the heart out of the Great Satan would be quite something else. But every one of these Islamists killing each other over there is one less to worry about planting a dirty bomb — or worse — in downtown Manhattan, on the Las Vegas strip, or at the Port of Los Angeles.
It doesn’t matter what name the group goes by, the goal of nihilistic mass destruction of the West is the goal. So perhaps Obama here can succeed by failing.
Maybe not the whole publication, but it looks like Obama has lost Danny Vinik on immigration. Read:
Still, Democrats could also lose some of their ability to claim the moral high ground on such issues. And that could matter very soon, because some Republicans are so angry about a potential immigration order they are considering using a government funding bill to block it, possibly setting up another shutdown. The last time the GOP shut down the government in 2013, they were clearly the party in the wrong—they were the ones violating common understandings of acceptable practice in politics. This time, they’d claim Obama was the one overstepping traditional boundaries—and it’d be a lot harder to say they were wrong.
The policies that reportedly the president is planning to implement are those about which intelligent people of good will can agree or disagree. He’s going to shield from deportation millions of people who actually face no realistic prospect of deportation. He’s going to give work permits to millions of people who are already working, most of them. I’m not saying it’s trivial, but put this in context. And he’s going to direct in the enforcement discretion the agents to concentrate on (a) criminals and (b) people who arrived recently. Fine. The policies are defensible. The process is execrable. Beyond the legalities, beyond the precedents of executive discretion and beyond the constitutional questions, there’s a simple etiquette of democracy, particularly after we have had, as Tom Cotton said here, an election in which this issue featured in many states, and the results were clear. The country opposes what the president is doing.
The joke’s on you. The second quote was really from George Will on Fox News Sunday last weekend. But we’ve come to a place where you can’t tell Danny Vinik from George Will without a scorecard — what a country!
After seven years and $40 million of development, the US Navy has finally sent its prototype laser weapon, one capable of blowing holes clean through UAVs, on patrol throughout the disputed Persian Gulf.
The Laser Weapon System (LaWS) prototype has been affixed to the bow of the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport ship, since August. Its 30kW beam, generated by focusing the apertures of six solid-state commercial welding lasers onto a single point, is multi-functional—equally capable of dazzling approaching ships and burning UAVs clean out of the sky—and only costs about a dollar a shot, John Miller, the 5th Fleet commander, told Bloomberg News in an e-mail statement last Friday.
If you ask me, $40 million sounds cheap to develop a dollar-a-holler laser drone zapper.
That’s what Al From offers Politico readers:
After last week’s senatorial and gubernatorial elections, it’s time for the Democrats to think about retooling our message once again.
Today’s Democratic Party has not fallen to the depths of the 1980s. But we need to face up to the breadth of our losses. Not only did the Republicans win control of the Senate, they also elected more House members than any time since the 1940s and won key governorships in Democratic strongholds of Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois. They now control 31 statehouses and more than two-thirds of state legislative chambers across the country.
And there are warning signs that we cannot afford to ignore as we look ahead to 2016. On the two issues of most concern to the American people — the economy and their dissatisfaction with government — our message did not connect and voters overwhelmingly favored the Republicans.
Our principal strategy this year was a turnout strategy — to “fire up the base” and turn out groups of voters — young millennials, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and women — who tend to vote Democratic. That strategy worked spectacularly in 2008 and 2012 with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Much of our campaign message was part of that strategy, directed at those Democratic constituencies. But this year, with the president not on the ballot and his approval ratings down, turnout favored the Republicans.
From has made several fundamental errors here. The first is that while it’s true that the Democrats “fallen to the depths of the 1980s,” that’s not a good thing. In fact, from the statehouses on up, the Democrats have fallen to the depths of the 1920s. When somebody is off by 50-plus years and 25 or so election cycles, they may have a perception problem big enough to render their advice suspect. For example, if I told you to mix 1.5 quarts of vodka into a 5-ounce glass of Steve’s Bloody Holiday Mary Mix, you might not even bother reading down to the part where I tell you what kind of pickle to use for garnish. (Trü Kosher Dills, FWIW.)
Secondly, From insists that what the Democrats have is a messaging problem, when that’s simply not the case. Bill Clinton really and truly moved his party rightwards towards the center, and achieved some stunning political and practical success. Barack Obama moved the party further left than it has ever been since 1972, or maybe ever, and then enjoyed a two-year honeymoon in which his every leftwing dream was turned into real policy. It’s those policies, not the messaging, which the American people rejected two weeks ago.
Finally, From has yet to internalize what the White House admitted last week, that Obama’s voters are not necessarily Democrat voters. There’s a lot of overlap, but the Venn circles do not perfectly mesh. It’s more like a three-note chord, played by Obama, the Democrats, and the Mainstream Media — on a piano that can only be played in presidential election years. (Weird piano, eh?)
From begins his political recommendations saying that “The cornerstones of our retooled message must be economic growth and government reform.”
The question is whether voters will be willing to trust the party which choked off the recovery and weaponized the IRS, with future growth and meaningful reform.
♡bamaCare!!! deeper underwater than ever according to the latest from Gallup:
Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama’s pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn’t change after the ACA was passed.
The current 37% reading comes on the heels of last week’s midterm elections, in which Republicans won full control of both houses of Congress. Already, party leaders are discussing efforts to repeal the unpopular law.
For those keeping score at home, ♡bamaCare!!! is now 19 points underwater, a new low.
Keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the new open enrollment period, and people are just starting to learn of cancellations and premium hikes.
But War on Women, yo.
Looks like NBC, to quote Rick Grimes, is screwing with the wrong people:
Well, this is becoming a bit of a weekly tradition now, isn’t it? For a third consecutive week and the fourth time this season, The Walking Dead has solidly beat Sunday Night Football among adults 18-49. In the sixth episode of its fifth season, the blockbuster AMC series drew a 7.3 rating among the key demo while the New England Patriots’ 42-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts got a 6.2. That’s a 15% spread.
Two things. The first is that 8-2 Pats vs 6-4 Colts was kind of a big deal. The second is that NBC is seen virtually everywhere, but AMC requires basic cable. Oh, and the ratings blowout doesn’t include viewers like me who bought Sunday night’s show on the iTunes Store.
They ought to rebrand the network EndBC.
Jonathan Clements sums up what’s wrong with Wall Street in the Era of Cheap Money:
The long rally has done wonders for my portfolio’s value. But it also means stocks are now more richly valued—and expected returns are lower. Unless you never again plan to add to your stock portfolio, you should have mixed feelings about the market’s heady gains.
Think about all the money you’ll invest in stocks in the years ahead, whether it’s with new savings, reinvested dividends or by shifting money from elsewhere in your portfolio. Wouldn’t you rather buy at 2009 prices than at today’s nosebleed valuations?
Indeed, I find it hard to get enthused about the prospects for U.S. stocks over the next 10 years.
Two things, one more serious and the other less so.
The first is that we’re caught in the tangled web of the New Trickledown. In the old trickledown economics, regulations were eased, top marginal tax rates were cut, and inflation was curbed in order to get business expanding (or entrepreneurs to entrepreneur-ate) and hiring workers. Accelerated depreciation was another part of the deal, so that many of those new jobs would be in high-paying technical and manufacturing fields. The “trickledown” was the wealthy creating new wealth to benefit those who had been jobless, and the entrepreneurs making themselves and their partners rich, too. It wasn’t a 100% success, but the Reagan years sure beat the crap out of the Nixon-Carter mess.
The New Trickledown works like this: Big fat government sits its big fat bottom on the economy’s face, smothering it with scads of new regulations, insurance schemes, taxes, fees, and all the rest. However, the Fed keeps the printing presses going to inflate the equities markets so that the rich can keep on spending, thus generating jobs in the low-paying retail and food service industries. For the unlucky millions who can’t find even crappy jobs, Congress keeps the welfare teats fully plumped. The middle class has had the door shut on them by the New Rich, and is having the floor cut out from under them by the Permanent Poor.
Everything the Left unjustly accused Reaganomics of being, is exactly what they’ve foisted on us in the last six years.
My second point is even wearier. Clements details only some of the pains we’re going to have to suffer to get out from under Big Fat Government while at the same time weaning ourselves off our addiction to cheap money. So whether the next President is a Democrat or a Republican, I pity the fool who gets sworn in on January 20, 2017.
So what’s it take to be a legal gun carrier in the District of Columbia? Nothing much, just the willingness to be treated like a criminal. Stephen Gutowski explains:
DC Police fingerprinted me yesterday. But I’m not a criminal—I paid them to do it.
That’s because I’m applying for one of the city’s new concealed carry permits.
I live in Virginia and have been licensed to carry there for more than a year. I even carried into the city legally during the brief period after DC’s gun carry ban was declared unconstitutional. In response to that ruling, DC recently implemented a heavily restrictive concealed carry law.
If I want to bring my friends Smith and Wesson along when I travel into the city to file pieces for the world’s greatest fish-wrapped anti-Clinton website (and I do, since I both love working here and not being killed) I need to get a permit. Or, more accurately, try to get a permit.
I took a visit to the Firearms Registration Unit of the Metropolitan Police Department Thursday afternoon and I handed over my application, driver’s license, Virginia concealed carry license, and $110. Now I’m well on my way to wasting $110.
The D.C. concealed carry law is what’s referred to as “May Issue.” That means a bureaucrat has final say over who gets to bear arms and who doesn’t.
Pucker up, pilgrim.
That’s right — with the open enrollment season upon us, it’s time to bring back your Daily Duel ♡bamaCare!!! Fails. This afternoon’s story is from here in Colorado:
The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative paid Obamacare advocate and administration analyst Jonathan Gruber to produce an “independent” report in support of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011. This work came after the analyst’s failure to disclose his paid work to editors at newspapers which published his columns advocating for the law. The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative describes itself as “active supporters” of Obamacare and its implementation here in Colorado.
Gruber is currently under scrutiny for a series of video clips in which he 1) acknowledges having lied about the content Obamacare in order to help get it passed, 2) refers to the “stupidity” and “economic illiteracy” of the American public as assets in passing the law, and 3) admits that the plaintiffs’ argument in pending litigation is correct—enrollees on the federal exchange were specifically and intentionally excluded from receiving subsidies.
Forgotten, however, is that in January 2010, Gruber was penning op-ed pieces in the Washington Post and New York Times advocating for Obamacare, without having disclosed to his editors that he received nearly $400,000 from the administration to produce an “objective analysis,” that would be used in promoting the legislation.
Gruber got his — what are you proles going to do about it?
This one would make for an excellent game of Name That Pundit, but go ahead and brace yourself for WaPo’s own Fred Hiatt takedown of the White House’s Russia non-policy:
Each successive Putin outrage takes Western leaders aback: the seizure of Crimea, the brazen insouciance when a jetliner is shot down, the breaking of his word not to recognize the separatists’ “election,” now the soldiers and weaponry pouring across the border in defiance of his promised cease-fire. These actions are not rational, from a Western point of view; they isolate Russia further; they will hurt the Russian economy.
But Putin does not share America’s view of what is rational. Breedlove believes the Russian leader is sending forces into Ukraine to mold his enclave into “a more contiguous, more whole and capable pocket of land in order to then hold on to it long-term.”
Read the whole thing, because Hiatt’s summation of Obama’s delusions, his lack of resolve, and his excuse-mongering is practically Krauthammerian.
From the XX Committee:
Then there is the far from trivial matter of confusion in Washington, DC, about what exactly Operation INHERENT RESOLVE is supposed to achieve. Reports this week reveal that the Pentagon cannot decide internally just what its new Iraq war is trying to do, while coordination with the White House, and particularly Obama’s deeply troubled National Security Council, falls short of the abysmal standards of civil-military relations set by the Johnson Administration during their failed war in Vietnam. Also as in the late 1960s, Pentagon displeasure at NSC micromanagement of the air war, particularly by the unpleasant and unqualified National Security Adviser Susan Rice, has leaked into the media in impressive, and depressing, detail.
To make matters worse, the current American strategy to defeat Da’ish, inasmuch as it exists at all, is based on the assumption that the United States and its allies will bring airpower to act as the hammer to crush Da’ish on the anvil of the Iraqi military. That force, created at enormous expense in American time, talent and treasure over the past decade, is frankly a joke. Yesterday, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey explained the requirement concisely: “We’re going to need about 80,000 competent Iraqi security forces to recapture territory lost, and eventually the city of Mosul, to restore the border.” Regrettably, Baghdad has nowhere near that many “competent” troops, despite the expenditure of billions of U.S. dollars to that end. In reality, the Iraqi military has roughly nine serviceable brigades, a bit more than 20,000 battle-ready troops who can be relied upon to confront Da’ish with any hope of success — and even that may be an optimistic estimate.
We can complain about the Iraqi military, our own optempo, intelligence failures, or strategic listlessness all we like, but everything that’s going wrong in Iraq finally comes down to just one very basic thing.
ISIL has the audacity and ruthlessness to win a war, and we do not.
That’s not to say they will win — groups this murderous tend to drown themselves in the blood of their victims. Eventually. But win or lose, it will take years of concerted effort at home and abroad for the United States to prove that it has become something other than a paper tiger.
Today we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter. We cannot begin to imagine their anguish at this painful time.
Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity. Like Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents. While ISIL revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction, Abdul-Rahman was a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict. While ISIL exploits the tragedy in Syria to advance their own selfish aims, Abdul-Rahman was so moved by the anguish and suffering of Syrian civilians that he traveled to Lebanon to work in a hospital treating refugees. Later, he established an aid group, SERA, to provide assistance to Syrian refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon and Syria. These were the selfless acts of an individual who cared deeply about the plight of the Syrian people.
ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own. Today we grieve together, yet we also recall that the indomitable spirit of goodness and perseverance that burned so brightly in Abdul-Rahman Kassig, and which binds humanity together, ultimately is the light that will prevail over the darkness of ISIL. [Emphasis added]
What a curious thing to say.
I can’t think of any religion with beheading as a fundamental tenet. Beheading has been used as a form of execution in various places with various religions at various times. France’s last execution was about 30 years ago, using the guillotine. In Saudi Arabia, swordsmen still perform the ultimate punishment, and all too often.
Remember how NIH and CDC were unprepared for even a minor ebola outbreak of two or three patients? Here’s where some of the money went:
The federal government has invested over $10 million developing and promoting a video game about a young teen that must escape a town full of fat people, as a method to fight obesity.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) paid for the development of two video games that promote healthier eating, including “Escape from Diab,” a “nightmare” fictional city where people are only allowed to eat junk food.
“The story centers around five children who must get healthy enough to escape the evil King Etes,” explains Archimage, Inc., a computer game company that received $9,091,409 to develop the games. King Etes is a fat ruler who forces his people to eat out of vending machines.
Unless you are extremely rich, the Feds spent more money on this one stupid, useless, offensive project than you and your family will ever pay in taxes.
Fire them all, along with a lifetime ban on future Federal work, including contracting.
Do those ♡bamaCare!!! rate hikes have you down in the dumps? Look at the bright side, buckaroo — they make a lovely companion to those increased out-of-pocket expenses:
After he left the hospital, the Paducah, Ky., businessman paid $2,000 more, the rest of his insurance deductible. “Luckily, I could take out a credit card and pay. A lot of people can’t,” Edwards said.
His experience, being asked to pay a sum upfront for surgery, has become increasingly common as doctors’ practices and hospitals navigate the world of employer-provided high-deductible health plans and the launch of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Hospital executives say they’re struggling to keep their mountains of bad debt in check when patients frequently can’t pay the share required under insurance plans for non-emergency tests, procedures and services.
“The bad debts are just going through the roof. That’s been a trend,” said Nancy Galvagni, senior vice president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, an industry trade and advocacy group that represents the state’s hospitals and health systems.
Cadillac prices for catastrophic coverage is not what most people imagined when they were promised that they and their family would save $2,500 a year.
MyWay news caught an underreported story out of Oregon:
Even as Oregon voters were legalizing recreational marijuana and expanding Democratic majorities in state government, they decided by a margin of 66-34 to cancel a new state law that would have provided driver’s licenses to people who are in the United States illegally.
Obama is considering acting on his own, as early as this week, to possibly shield from deportation up to 5 million immigrants now living illegally in the country. Some Republicans in Congress are threatening a government shutdown if the president follows through.
“The Oregon measure tells you these measures are not easy or simple,” said Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute. “The political cost may be significant, even in blue states.”
It may well be that the only reason President Obama hasn’t pushed through “executive amnesty” yet is the very real pushback he and his party are already feeling, even in places like Oregon. And if you’re wondering why I put “executive amnesty” in scare quotes, it’s because there’s nothing “executive” about it — it’s the White House stomping on the Congress, in a way the Founders would have called tyranny.
But where’s the GOP pushback, the one we can see and here out here in the sticks? It’s one thing for John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to threaten some sort of Congressional action — which Obama obviously doesn’t fear — but it’s another to wage an active campaign for the hearts and minds and votes of those who would be most hurt tyrannical amnesty.
This one courtesy of the New York Times:
The Obama administration on Friday unveiled data showing that many Americans with health insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases next year — in some cases as much as 20 percent — unless they switch plans.
The data became available just hours before the health insurance marketplace was to open to buyers seeking insurance for 2015.
That Means It’s Working™
The new data means that many of the seven million people who have bought insurance through federal and state exchanges will have to change to different health plans if they want to avoid paying more — an inconvenience for consumers just becoming accustomed to their coverage.
Mickey Kaus made the subtle point a while back that people hate it when their insurance companies jerk their plans around — and the Democrats stupidly put themselves in the place of the insurance companies. But they were too drunk on the power of Teh Won and His Permanent Democratic Majority to notice any subtleties.
I hope I’m wrong about this, but I’ve always felt that Squeeze didn’t get half the respect they deserved. They were too personal for ’70s arena rock, too nice for punk, too unironic for New Wave, too smart for pop. Just some decent English lads doing songs about beer, money, and women, and in about that order.
Yeah, they sold a lot of records and I hope they made a ton of money, but it feels like their inability to get pigeonholed kept them from superstardom.
Dang, though, could they write a lyric and a song.
“Up The Junction” is a simple tale of a small dream pissed away, with a spare lyric earning its impact from small details. The music might sound dated, but it’s such a perfect match for the lyric that you just can’t fault it.
I’ll play some of their more upbeat stuff at a later date, but after a month of disco I figured we needed a little downtime.
That’s what Peggy Noonan thinks about Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom:
I have never seen a president in exactly the position Mr. Obama is, which is essentially alone. He’s got no one with him now. The Republicans don’t like him, for reasons both usual and particular: They have had no good experiences with him. The Democrats don’t like him, for their own reasons plus the election loss. Before his post-election lunch with congressional leaders, he told the press that he will judiciously consider any legislation, whoever sends it to him, Republicans or Democrats. His words implied that in this he was less partisan and more public-spirited than the hacks arrayed around him. It is for these grace notes that he is loved. No one at the table looked at him with colder, beadier eyes than outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , who clearly doesn’t like him at all. The press doesn’t especially like the president; in conversation they evince no residual warmth. This week at the Beijing summit there was no sign the leaders of the world had any particular regard for him. They can read election returns. They respect power and see it leaking out of him. If Mr. Obama had won the election they would have faked respect and affection.
Except for the impersonal love he gets and receives while campaigning, I can’t remember seeing Obama show much enjoyment from the company of others — have you? As others have noted before and for many years now, he’s that very curious politician who doesn’t actually like people. Certainly, his relations with Capitol Hill have been strained from the get-go, even when his own party enjoyed supermajorities in both houses. Obama would press the flesh on his way too or from the podium, but could rarely be bothered to pick up the phone and schmooze with a Congressman whose support he needed.
And now that he’s a loser, people don’t seem to like him back.
Given the requirements of the job, this was probably inevitable. Given the content of his character, I can’t muster any pity.
But beyond that, Noonan reminds us, somewhat ominously, that “Nixon’s isolation didn’t end well.”
White supremacist organisation, the Ku Klux Klan is rebranding as the “new Klan” by trying to increase membership to Jews, black people, gays and those of Hispanic origin.
However, all those wanting to join the ultra-right wing society will have to wear the white robes, masks and conical hats. The Klan is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members according to figures released in 2012.
The Ku Klux Klan is notorious for racist violence, including lynchings of black people. It is classified as a hate group by the anti-semitism organistion Anti-Defamation League and the civil rights law firm Southern Poverty Law Center.
The requirements for joining the new KKK group, called the Rocky Mountain Knights, are to be aged 18 and live in the Pacific Northwest.
This doesn’t happen even once in a blue moon, but I got nothin’.
Help a brother out?
Ted Galen Carpenter says the biggest threat to NATO isn’t Russia, but some increasingly authoritarian regimes within the western alliance:
Another development that has received less media attention, but could prove extremely disruptive to NATO is the emergence of ugly authoritarian trends in some members, especially Romania, Hungary and Turkey.
The rising tide of domestic authoritarianism in NATO countries is not a small concern. True, the Alliance has previously tolerated illiberal regimes and even outright dictatorships as members. Founding member Portugal was a quasifascist country under Antonio Salazar. Throughout the Cold War, the military was the decisive power broker in Turkey’s political system, and on occasion the country even lapsed into outright military rule. Greece groaned under a brutal military dictatorship in the late 1960s and early 1970s without forfeiting its NATO membership.
But it would be far more difficult in the twenty-first century for the Alliance to look the other way if a member succumbed to dictatorial impulses.
Greece and Turkey represented NATO’s southern flank, with the ability to deny the Soviets access to the Mediterranean and the Middle East — we had to give them leeway, or risk inciting Moscow to throw the dice. Furthermore, Turkey’s occasional military governments were a feature (built into the system by Ataturk) and not a bug. The Turkish Army (since neutered by its Islamic government) was the guarantor of Ataturk’s western reforms, against backwards elements in Turkish politics and culture.
But that is just an aside.
25 years ago, NATO should have thrown itself one hell of a victory party, then dissolved in the afterglow. The core states of northern and western Europe and the US could have enjoyed a less formal éntente cordiale , and non-core, non-democratic states could have gone on their merry ways. Should a big enough threat emerge (or re-emerge), the threatened states could always form a new alliance. But absent a real threat, a defensive alliance is a contradiction in terms.
Instead of happy dissolution, NATO chose expansion — right up to the borders of the old USSR. And NATO made promises, and held out the carrot of potential membership, to former Soviet Republics like Ukraine and Georgia. So while it may be true that Vladimir Putin is paranoid, but it’s certainly true that NATO has fed his paranoias. Just as bad, or worse if Carpenter has it right, we’ve invited in, or kept on, states with no democratic traditions, whose democracies are unraveling.
What was a defensive alliance of (mostly) likeminded westernized nations became an expansive alliance of… well, let’s just say some not-so-likeminded nations were shown the blue carpet.
And now the contradiction, as contradictions must eventually do, has come back to bite us on the ass.
The Law of Intended Consequences bumbles on:
Since the beginning of 2010, 43 rural hospitals — with a total of more than 1,500 beds — have closed, according to data from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. The pace of closures has quickened: from 3 in 2010 to 13 in 2013, and 12 already this year. Georgia alone has lost five rural hospitals since 2012, and at least six more are teetering on the brink of collapse. Each of the state’s closed hospitals served about 10,000 people — a lot for remaining area hospitals to absorb.
The Affordable Care Act was designed to improve access to health care for all Americans and will give them another chance at getting health insurance during open enrollment starting this Saturday. But critics say the ACA is also accelerating the demise of rural outposts that cater to many of society’s most vulnerable. These hospitals treat some of the sickest and poorest patients — those least aware of how to stay healthy. Hospital officials contend that the law’s penalties for having to re-admit patients soon after they’re released are impossible to avoid and create a crushing burden.
“The stand-alone, community hospital is going the way of the dinosaur,” says Angela Mattie, chairwoman of the health care management and organizational leadership department at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University, known for its public opinion surveys on issues including public health.
Read the whole thing for the awful story of what ♡bamaCare!!! is doing to those bitter clingers out in the sticks.