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Islamists Sieze Golan Checkpoint

August 27th, 2014 - 2:43 pm

This must be an …uncomfortable… position for Jerusalem and Damascus to find themselves in together:

Islamist militants battling the Syrian government seized control of the Quneitra border crossing between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Wednesday, according to an Israeli military spokesman and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Among the fighters were members of al-Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel group with ties to al Qaeda, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

And while the Islamist forces are no match for Israeli troops in the heavily militarized zone, the takeover represents a new dynamic in a war long feared not only for its deadly effects inside Syria but for threatening to widen into a destabilizing regional conflict, CNN’s Ben Wedeman reported Wednesday.

“Essentially, now you have the Nusra Front facing off just a couple of hundred meters from the Israeli army,” he said, adding that United Nations peacekeepers are stationed between the two.

The Israelis are often criticized for having a siege mentality, but given the neighborhood they live in, I sometimes wonder if it’s enough of a siege mentality.

Surprise: We Have a Spending Problem

August 27th, 2014 - 1:42 pm

We’re in trouble:

The Congressional Budget Office’s “Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024” reports a federal deficit of $506 billion for fiscal year 2014 (which ends on September 30), slightly above its April projection of $492 billion. Spending in 2014 will be about $3.5 trillion, growing by about 2 percent compared to the previous year. The debt will rise slightly as a percentage of GDP to 74 percent, staying at a level not seen since World War II.

Over the next decade, government spending is projected to grow annually on average by 5.2 percent. Eighty-five percent of this projected growth in spending will be due to three main budget components: Social Security (the largest federal program), health care (spending on which will overtake Social Security spending by 2015), and interest on the debt.

The government is growing over 5 percent a year while the economy grows just 2 or 3 percent. Should the economy enter a recession and shrink, government growth will increase. This situation is brought to you by the same people who like to lecture about “sustainability.”

But I’m sure saving a few billion dollars delaying the refueling (or scrapping) of an aircraft carrier will fix the problem — no?

We’re eating our seed corn while we sit and wonder why the future no longer looks so bright.

Sign “O” the Times

August 27th, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Oh, SNAP:

According to the Department of Agriculture’s most recently released data, the number of individuals enrolled in the food stamp program (known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) has remained above 45 million every single month for three years straight.

In May 2011, 45,410,683 individuals received food stamps. As of May 2014 (the most recent date for which data are available), 46,225,054 people were on food stamps. At no point between the two dates did the number of food stamp enrollments ever fall below the 45 million mark.

Part of the problem is that food stamps — embarrassing, awkward, and obvious food stamps — have been replaced by little plastic cards with little magnetic strips that look just like the little plastic cards issued by banks which hold our own money rather than other people’s money.

There ought to be a strong social stigma against spending other people’s money, as just one incentive to getting off the dole and becoming full adults and autonomous human beings.

And that is why we have SNAP cards, because people who aren’t on the dole and who are full adults and autonomous human beings tend not to vote for Democrats.

News You Can Use

August 27th, 2014 - 11:17 am

PULLED

You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Good lord:

Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Vacca was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.

Video released Tuesday by sheriff’s officials shows the 9-year-old, wearing a gray T-shirt and pink shorts with her hair pulled back in a long braid, holding the firearm in both hands. Vacca, standing to her left, tells her to turn her left leg forward.

“All right, go ahead and give me one shot,” he tells the girl, whose back is to the camera during the entire 27-second video. He then cheers when she fires one round at the target.

“All right full auto,” Vacca says. The video, which does not show the actual incident, ends with a series of shots being heard.

I’m not exactly going out on a limb here when I say that this guy did not have the judgement necessary for a shooting instructor.

Caliphs Gotta Caliphate

August 27th, 2014 - 9:22 am

UN demands action to avert Shia massacre in Iraq

Iraq is massing forces to relieve the besieged town of Amerli:

Thousands of Shiite militiamen from groups including Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr Organization are gathering in the Tuz Khurmatu area of Salaheddin in preparation for a battle to break the siege, a civilian volunteer commander said.

And an army lieutenant general said that security forces were mobilising in the Jabal Hamreen area, to the south of Amerli, to attack from for the southern flank.

Iraqi aircraft have being targeting Islamic State jihadist positions around Amerli, and carried out nine strikes on Tuesday, an officer said.

Time is running out for the 12,000 mainly Shiite Turkmen residents of Amerli, who face danger both because of their Shiite faith, which jihadists consider heresy, and their resistance against the militants, which has drawn deadly retribution elsewhere.

There is “no possibility of evacuating them so far,” and only limited humanitarian assistance is reaching the town, said Eliana Nabaa, the spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq.

Here’s a case of knowing exactly where the bad guys are, yet our air forces don’t seem to be doing much about it.

Introducing Hyperlapse

August 27th, 2014 - 8:10 am

Whoa.

My boys are going to love this.

Me too.

President Bezos

August 27th, 2014 - 7:08 am

AMAZON

On the heels of this morning’s news that our federal and state governments have spent $1.7 billion dollars (and counting) to build a few questionable websites, we have this bold claim from Michael Case at the Verge:

If the government is ever going to completely retool itself to provide sensible services to a growing, aging, diversifying American population, it will have to do more than bring in a couple innovators and throw data at the public. At the federal level, these kinds of adjustments will require new laws to change the way money is allocated to executive branch agencies so they can coordinate the purchase and development of a standard set of tools. State and local governments will have to agree on standard tools and data formats as well so that the mayor of Anchorage can collaborate with the governor of Delaware.

Technology is the answer to a lot of American government’s current operational shortcomings. Not only are the tools and systems most public servants use outdated and suboptimal, but the organizations and processes themselves have also calcified around similarly out-of-date thinking. So the real challenge won’t be designing cutting edge software or high tech government facilities — it’s going to be conjuring the will to overcome decades of old thinking. It’s going to be convincing over 90,000 employees to learn new skills, coaxing a bitterly divided Congress to collaborate on something scary, and finding a way to convince a timid and distracted White House to put its name on risky investments that won’t show benefits for many years.

There’s a great line about basic economics, but I can’t remember who said it or find it online. It goes, “Show me a man’s incentives, and I’ll tell you how he behaves.” In other words, incentives are so powerful that a basic understanding of them allows you to extrapolate fine detail about how they work in the real world — assuming you’re able to understand them.

Here we have a smart writer with a failure to understand government’s incentives, and at a very basic level. His complaints are accurate, but they’re fundamental to the functioning of a government bureaucracy, rather than a problem with a fix.

That’s one reason why the Founders wanted to keep the federal government small and in most ways powerless. Nevertheless, we’ll probably spend billions trying to enact reforms like the ones Case proposes, and then wonder where all the money went.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 27th, 2014 - 6:21 am

How much did it cost to build the exchanges, including the notorious Healthcare.gov? More than you might believe:

hanks to the Office of the Inspector General (IG) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we have some more detail on the costs and contracts associated with building the key technological infrastructure for the law.

According to the report, which was released today,the total value of the 60 contracts associated with the build out of HealthCare.gov is about $1.7 billion, with contract values ranging from as little as $69,000 all the way up to about $200 million.

Those values could end up higher. In a footnote, the report explains that these are expected values, and that they could be more if “modifications” are made to the scope of work in the contracts.

Given the state of the federal government’s exchange, and the delays and cost overruns it has seen so far, it seems likely that the actual costs will end up being higher. Of the 60 contracts, 20 had already gone over budget by February of this year, according to the IG report. Seven of those 20 were over budget by at least 100 percent.

If you’re wondering why they’re called “exchanges” instead of “websites,” which is all they really are, it’s because “exchanges” sounds more expensive.

The Dark State Rises

August 27th, 2014 - 5:17 am

Scott Ott has the Trifecta Triple this week, and there’s some powerful stuff in his coverage of the rise of the IS/Caliphate.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 26th, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Remember how ♡bamaCare!!! had lost “some of its campaign punch for Republicans?” Well:

The voters didn’t get that memo. They revile the health care law more than ever. Even the left-leaning Huffington Post admits, “A majority of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, the highest share since President Barack Obama’s health care reforms became law more than four years ago.” And this isn’t due to ignorance about the law, as its supporters frequently claim. The voters have been inundated with information about “reform,” and they have correctly concluded that it will do more harm than good. A recent Rasmussen survey reveals that likely voters in general expect Obamacare to have an adverse effect on American health care.

More to the point, Obamacare is an important factor in the “enthusiasm gap.” According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, “The Republican Party holds a clear advantage in voter engagement in this fall’s midterm elections.” Why? The answer has long been obvious. Politico spelled it out months ago: “Obamacare will be a huge voting issue for Republicans.… They’ll turn out in droves because they hate the law.” Yet the promoters of the new meme would have us believe that revulsion among voters for the law has somehow been neutralized as a motivating force during the past two or three months.

Reduced ad spending on this particular issue looks like it has more to do with diminishing returns than voters suddenly falling in love with the President’s signature domestic achievement. At this point, why spend millions on new ads when a cancellation notice or a drastically higher copay will get the message out for free?

Thought for the Day

August 26th, 2014 - 1:20 pm

Putting Out the Fire Phone

August 26th, 2014 - 12:49 pm

Amazon-Fire-Phone

Nice try, Amazon, but hardly anybody is buying your smartphone:

You could argue that if the Amazon Fire Phone under-indexes, it probably isn’t by much; you could multiply the number by 25%, based on the average of the Samsung and HTC figures. That takes you up to about 33,000 devices.

Therefore even allowing for margins of error, it seems unlikely – based on Chitika’s data and the ComScore data – that there were more than about 35,000 Fire Phones in use after those 20 days.

Amazon had not responded to a request for comment on the calculation by the time of publication.

Ouch.

Although I can’t say I’m surprised. The phone is phugly, and by nearly every account, the user interface is an unusable and clumsy mess. And it’s priced the same as an iPhone or a top-tier Android device, when clearly it’s neither.

Still, it’s comforting to know that not even Amazon’s marketing muscle — and I say this as a happy and devoted customer of theirs — isn’t enough to push people into buying overpriced craptaculence.

Wither Whiskey?

August 26th, 2014 - 11:10 am
To dependence!

To dependence!

Scottish independence is a worrisome matter for the proto-would-be nation’s famed distilleries:

The currency debate is especially important to Scotland’s financial services industry, which accounts for 25 percent of the region’s economy, excluding oil and gas. Scotland-based groups such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life, which rely on the stability provided by the pound, have warned about the potential risks of independence.

Part of that would come from the fact that an independent Scotland may be forced to drop out of the European Union and have to reapply for membership. The union of 28 countries guarantees free movement of money and people – a precious asset for companies, particularly multinational corporations, as well as exporters.

Nine out of 10 bottles of Scotch are sold overseas for a value of 4.3 billion pounds ($7.1 billion) a year. Being outside the EU would raise the prospect of new export duties to the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc with over 500 million people. Many distilleries import grain from EU countries to make whisky, something that could become more expensive. Scotland would also have to take on the job of shielding the drink from unfair trading practices, protect its trademarks and safeguard an estimated 35,000 jobs.

Left unsaid is that Scotland would be run entirely by assorted lefties, without a sane voice to be heard. What that would do for Scotland’s business climate is a subject no one should try to consider while sober.

Required Reading

August 26th, 2014 - 10:28 am

BEYONCE66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Show

Guess which of these two images modern feminists approve of, and which one has them all up in arms.

Mollie Hemingway explains in luscious detail.

This Was CNN

August 26th, 2014 - 9:51 am

Ouch:

Some 550 buyouts are to be offered at Time Warner’s Turner network this week, including a large number of those at CNN and HLN, which will lead to layoffs if they are not taken voluntarily, according to an individual with knowledge of the network’s plans.

The buyouts will come across the Turner division, with a couple of hundred expected at CNN and HLN, the individual said.

A CNN spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

A quarter century ago, when MTV dove deep into original programing, one critic said it has become “the MTV channel.” It wasn’t music television anymore, just another channel showing the game shows and stuff.

CNN once stood for Cable News Network, and we all watched it — starting right around the time MTV abandoned its original mission. But that was a long time ago, and somewhere along the way it became “the CNN channel.”

Caliphs Gotta Caliphate

August 26th, 2014 - 8:43 am

islamic-state-676x450

Here’s a particularly bleak assessment from Indira A.R. Lakshmanan of the IS/Caliphate:

The Islamic State, which now controls an area of Iraq and Syria larger than the U.K., may be raising more than $2 million dollars a day in revenue from oil sales, extortion, taxes and smuggling, according to U.S. intelligence officials and anti-terrorism finance experts.

Unlike other extremist groups’ reliance on foreign donations that can be squeezed by sanctions, diplomacy and law enforcement, the Islamic State’s predominantly local revenue stream poses a unique challenge to governments seeking to halt its advance and undermines its ability to launch terrorist attacks that in time might be aimed at the U.S. and Europe.

“The Islamic State is probably the wealthiest terrorist group we’ve ever known,” said Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury terrorism and financial intelligence official who now is director of the counterterrorism and intelligence program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They’re not as integrated with the international financial system, and therefore not as vulnerable” to sanctions, anti-money laundering laws and banking regulations.

At what point did the President wake up and realize that the “jayvee team” was in fact an “imminent threat?”

There’s an App for Hijacking Your Phone

August 26th, 2014 - 7:37 am

Android

That is, there’s another app for hijacking your phone:

You are guilty of child porn, child abuse, zoophilia or sending out bulk spam. You are a criminal. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has locked you out of your phone and the only way to regain access to all your data is to pay a few hundred dollars.

That message — or variations of it — has popped up on hundreds of thousands of people’s Android devices in just the last month. The message claims to be from the F.B.I., or cybersecurity firms, but is in fact the work of Eastern European hackers who are hijacking Android devices with a particularly pernicious form of malware, dubbed “ransomware” because it holds its victims’ devices hostage until they pay a ransom.

Ransomware is not new. Five years ago, criminals in Eastern Europe began holding PC users’ devices hostage with similar tools. The scheme was so successful that security experts say many cybercriminals have abandoned spam and fake antivirus frauds to take up ransomware full time. By 2012, security experts had identified more than 16 gangs extorting millions from ransomware victims around the world.

Now those same criminals are taking their scheme mobile, successfully infecting Android devices at disturbing rates. In just the last 30 days, roughly 900,000 people were targeted with a form of ransomware called “ScarePackage,” according to Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm.

900,000 isn’t a whole lot of mobile phone users in a global market of billions — but it’s enough to generate the profits necessary to keep these illicit activities growing.

What Resolution iPhone 6 Displays?

August 26th, 2014 - 6:22 am

Want to know the resolution of the new iPhones due to be announced next month? John Gruber did the math — all of the math — to come up with the best educated guess I’ve seen:

But after giving it much thought, and a lot of tinkering in a spreadsheet, here is what I think Apple is going to do:

4.7-inch display: 1334 × 750, 326 PPI @2x
5.5-inch display: 2208 × 1242, 461 PPI @3x

@2x means the same “double” retina resolution that we’ve seen on all iOS devices with retina displays to date, where each virtual point in the user interface is represented by two physical pixels on the display in each dimension, horizontal and vertical. @3x means a new “triple” retina resolution, where each user interface point is represented by three display pixels. A single @2x point is a 2 × 2 square of 4 pixels; an @3x point is a 3 × 3 square of 9 pixels.

I could be wrong on either or both of these conjectured new iPhones. I derived these figures on my own, and I’ll explain my thought process below.

It’s a fascinating and extremely detailed (Ha! Get it?) report, explaining the difference between pixels and points on an iOS screen, and how simply increasing the pixels wouldn’t necessarily lead to fitting more stuff onto a larger screen — at least not in a sensible way, and not at resolutions other than the ones he determined.

My only hope is that the rumors are wrong, and that Apple continues to produce at least one model with the same size screen as the iPhone 5 and 5S. For me it’s the perfect size for easily sliding in or out of a pants pocket, without making too much of a bulge. This trend towards bigger phones goes against everything that was once cool about electronics, where small & light should rule the day.

Piece in Our Time

August 26th, 2014 - 5:22 am

UKRAINE

What might a deal between Russia and Ukraine look like? Patrick Smith says Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel are working one out, and it might look like this:

The international community would have to accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea last spring. Gulp. Kiev would also devolve some political and administrative powers to the eastern region. No gulp here: It is imperative that Kiev recognize the legitimacy of the Russian-majority east’s desire for greater autonomy.

The give-backs: Russia would cease its involvement in eastern Ukraine, whatever it may be, and pay $1 billion to compensate for the rent it paid for stationing its fleets in the Crimea until the region voted for independence.

Next. Poroshenko would agree not to join NATO. The trade-off here would be Russia’s commitment to accept Kiev’s new relations with the E.U. as agreed in a pact signed after Poroshenko took office. Ukraine would also get a new long-term agreement with Russia’s Gazprom covering future gas supplies and pricing – critical if Ukraine is to sustain any kind of economic recovery.

That’s not a bad deal, in that it recognizes there’s no getting Russia out of Crimea short of war, and there’s no getting Ukraine into NATO without one either. The unanswered question is whether Putin would see “greater autonomy” as an open door for future meddling (and eventual annexations), or as the end state of the crisis he engineered.

Blue Staters Gotta Blue State

August 25th, 2014 - 2:33 pm

Mobility is one of the great American virtues. When we see a better opportunity somewhere else, we pack up and move. Or if things get bad enough in our present locale, we’ll go to a better one. But some things are best left behind:

Over the last few decades, residents of many traditionally liberal states have moved to states that were once more conservative. And this pattern has played an important role in helping the Democratic Party win the last two presidential elections and four of the last six. The growth of the Latino population and the social liberalism of the millennial generation may receive more attention, but the growing diaspora of blue-state America matters as well.

The blue diaspora has helped offset the fact that many of the nation’s fastest-growing states are traditionally Republican. You can think of it as a kind of race: Population growth in these Republican states is reducing the share of the Electoral College held by traditionally Democratic states. But Democratic migration has been fast enough, so far, to allow the party to overcome the fact that the Northeast and industrial Midwest contain a smaller portion of the country’s population than they once did.

Locusts.

Two Libyas for the Price of One Illegal War

August 25th, 2014 - 1:35 pm

If it isn’t totally inappropriate to sigh “oy vey” over Libya…

The newly elected (and much more anti-Islamic terrorist) parliament is now operating in Tobruk, far away from the violence in the two largest cities; Tripoli (the capital and 1,600 kilometers west of Tobruk) and Benghazi (in the east and long dominated by Islamic terrorist groups.) Parliament has condemned the militias, especially the Islamic terrorist ones and called for NATO (or any international body, like the UN) to come back and help impose peace. The parliament has singled out Islamic terrorist groups Fajr Libya (based in Misrata as the Misrata Union of Revolutionaries) and Ansar al Sharia (based in Benghazi) as most responsible for the current violence. Most government officials have moved from Tripoli to Tobruk. Only 19 percent of eligible voters and 27 percent of registered voters showed up for the June 25 th parliamentary elections (the since Kaddafi was overthrown in 2011). Voters were discouraged by all the violence, factionalism and poor performance of those elected the first time around.

Fajr Libya has asked the Islamic terrorist dominated GNC (originally formed in mid-2012 to create a new constitution for the country to vote on and rule until that was done) to reform and meet in Tripoli to run the country. The revived GNC is supposed to have its first meeting today. The GNC was replaced in June by a new parliament. At the end of 2013 the deadlocked GNC extended its power for another year. This was seen by many Libyans as an illegal act.

When Bush “broke” Iraq, it was with the hope of staying around long enough to fix it. After Obama led from behind to break Libya, he turned his back on the poor country and that was that.

See Wolfs?

August 25th, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Virginia_Class_Submarine_7

Sigh:

Submariners can collect intelligence, protect surface ships and launch Navy SEAL teams in a region brimming with international tensions — all with minimal chance of detection.

However, the one thing that the U.S. fleet hasn’t been able to do is escape the realities of both age and cost.

The U.S. Navy’s attack submarine fleet is slated to drop steadily from 55 currently active to 41 by 2028, according to the service’s most recent shipbuilding plan.

Even at a projected rate where the Navy acquires 22 of its $2 billion Virginia-class subs by 2028, the numerous Los Angeles-class submarines built during the 1970s and 1980 are running out of time too quickly to keep pace.

We got into World War I in large part because of Germany’s use of unrestricted submarine warfare. The supreme historical irony is, just as soon as it became desirable and feasible for us to wage unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan, we did so with a ruthless efficiency the German must have marveled at. We shut Imperial Japan’s shipping down.

Today’s subs are of course even more efficient killers, and with a variety of missions unimaginable to WWII skippers. But each boat can stay on patrol for only so long, and each boat can delivery its deadly force within only a given “bubble” on the sea’s surface above it.

At some point during a RIF, too few hulls is simply too few hulls — and the Pacific is a very large ocean.

The Not-So-Great Raid

August 25th, 2014 - 11:23 am

A sad reminder of how Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom earned his nickname, this time from the rescue of James Foley that was never ordered:

The operation was reminiscent of the 1970 mission to free American prisoners of war from North Vietnam’s Son Tay prison camp. It was flawlessly executed but the North Vietnamese had moved the prisoners a day earlier.

For President Barack Obama the decision to send in the Night Stalkers was an agonising one. The audacious bin Laden raid in Pakistan had been a success but also preying on his mind was the failed 1980 Delta Force operation to rescue American hostages in Tehran.

Sandstorms and mechanical troubles led the mission to be abandoned and eight American troops were killed when two aircraft collided. The debacle cast a shadow over Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

Pentagon sources said Foley and the others might well have been rescued but Obama, concerned about the ramifications of US troops being killed or captured in Syria, took too long to authorise the mission.

It was with thoughts of Son Tay in mind that I hadn’t criticized the President over the failed rescue op earlier this year. Sometimes the bad guys get wind of what’s up, and vacate the premises. Other times it’s just bad luck that the bad guys moved the prisoners for some other reason. And sometimes you give the go order at just the right time, but the op goes Tango Uniform anyway. We can’t expect prescience out of our President and we can’t expect perfection from even our Special Forces.

But this charge that Obama dithered until it was too late — well, it rings true, doesn’t it? We’ve read this story before, although not usually with such visibly gruesome results.

Required Viewing

August 25th, 2014 - 10:54 am

The “legal” solution to most any problem these days seems to involve lawlessness.

Relax, Don’t Do It

August 25th, 2014 - 9:40 am

RELAX

The message comes from none other than WaPo’s Chris Cillizza:

Obama drew criticism from the left for not being forceful enough in speaking out on the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson and from the right over the death of Foley and the rise of the militant Islamic State. Then there was the golf; nine rounds during his 16 days on Martha’s Vineyard, including a trip to the links immediately after his condemnation of Foley’s killers.

That series of events left the impression of a disconnected president, frustrated with both the expectations and the limitations inherent in being the nation’s leader at this moment in history.

Or maybe, my fellow Americans, he just isn’t that into you.

Sign “O” the Times

August 25th, 2014 - 8:33 am

YELLEN

Fed Chair Janet Yellen is nervous about raising interest rates:

Ms. Yellen’s first keynote speech at the annual conference here in the shadow of the Grand Tetons was mostly an extended explanation of the reasons for the Fed’s caution, and an effort to buy time for the Fed to deliberate. She emphasized her view that no single factor, including inflation, could be used to judge the recovery.

“While these assessments have always been imprecise and subject to revision, the task has become especially challenging in the aftermath of the Great Recession,” she said, both because of the downturn’s “nearly unprecedented” depth and because of simultaneous changes in the economy separate from the ups and downs of the business cycle, including the aging of the work force.

Of course she nervous. We’ve been running on cheap money since shortly after Alan Greenspan engineered the “soft landing” of 1995. The so-called “Maestro,” you may recall, fully expected another soft landing in 2006. But you can’t build recoveries on eternal pain avoidance, with so many and such massive government-induced distortions in our spending and investments.

1995′s soft landing was followed by a harder landing in 2000-01, and then by Great Recession from which we still haven’t fully recovered. Yet the Fed still refuses to give up the sauce of cheap money.

Required Reading

August 25th, 2014 - 7:24 am

Roger L Simon tells libertarians that it’s time to put on their big boy pants:

But paradoxically, during this same time frame, it has become perhaps even more evident that one of the apparent tenets of libertarianism — a kind of neo-isolationism — is, well, to put it bluntly, insane. In the era of the Islamic State (not to mention a dozen other similar murderous, increasingly global organizations we could name or are being invented as I write), anyone who believes we can roll up the gangplanks to create the perfect libertarian state and everything will be just ducky is living in dreamland.

But a fair number of libertarians are. As an example, one of the leading spokesmen for the movement (I’ll be gracious by not naming him, because he’s probably embarrassed at this point) was quoted as likening the problem of Islamic terrorism to herpes — I guess he meant an annoyance you can live with if you find the right partner (who doesn’t behead you).

Do those same isolationist libertarians think that one Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, current leader of the Islamic State, was kidding when he said “See you in New York” when let out of detention camp in Iraq in 2009?

Read the whole thing.

I’ve been saying much the same — although probably not as well — since about 9/12/2001.

The idea that Islamists with global ambitions would leave us alone if we were only more libertarian… it’s not just nuts, it’s dangerously nuts.

The Heat is Onski

August 25th, 2014 - 6:00 am

Novoazovsk

What may be regular Russian forces are moving on eastern Ukraine. Lots of reports to follow here, some conflicting.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 25th, 2014 - 5:13 am

2,000 more ♡bamaCare!!!-induced policy cancellations here in Colorado, on top of the previous quarter million or so:

Following a dust-up earlier this year between Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and the Division of Insurance, Republicans have requested regular updates on policies that are cancelled because they don’t conform to ObamaCare or because companies are getting out of the individual insurance market.

Udall disputed the original number of nearly a quarter million cancellations in the immediate wake of ObamaCare’s rollout in late 2013, arguing that almost all of those whose plans were canceled were given options for renewing them early.

Emails obtained by the website Complete Colorado showed that Udall’s staff pressured the insurance commission to make that distinction to the point where some staffers felt bullied.

Since the ruckus with the insurance commission became public in January, state Senate Republicans have requested regular updates from the insurance commission about continuing cancellations. In March, the commission reported 1,755 cancellations and in June another 2,320. Last week’s total was 2,105.

In all, nearly 340,000 Coloradans received cancellation notices, although not all are because they don’t conform to the ACA; some carriers are leaving the individual insurance market altogether.

That’s a lot of presumably unhappy Coloradans.