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Headline of the Day

July 23rd, 2014 - 11:22 am

HEADER

Gee, what could have made things so bad in Gaza that Hamas just had to start launching missiles from behind human shields? For that let’s go to the NYT:

Hamas had been struggling. The turmoil in the region meant it lost one of its main sponsors, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom it broke with over his brutal fight against a Sunni Muslim-led insurgency, and weakened its alliance with Iran. It lost support in Egypt when the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted and replaced with a military-backed government hostile to Hamas.

Unemployment in Gaza is around 50 percent, having risen steeply since Israel pulled out its troops and settlers in 2005 and severely tightened border restrictions.

Hamas appeared powerless to end the near-blockade of its border by Israel and more recently Egypt. It could not even pay its 40,000 government workers their salaries.

Israel pulled out its settlements — some forcefully — to gain peace. When none came, Israel sealed the border. Hamas was so brutal (not to mention corrupt) that Egypt sealed its side of the border. Hamas keeps its people in a permanent state of poverty on purpose, because resentful people will do things like make themselves human shields for missile launchers.

You’d think that might be news. But no. It’s all the fault of the Egyptian military and those damn Jews.

JOEL

Big honor for Billy Joel, set to become only the sixth recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Details:

“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billlington said in a statement.

“There is an intimacy to his song writing that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music.”

Joel, whose career has spanned 50 years, is one of the most popular recording artists and has had 33 top-40 hits. His multiple Grammy wins include song and album of the year in 1978 for “Just the Way You Are.”

I’m an unabashed fan of Joel’s, the overplayed (and overwritten) “Piano Man” aside. The five slick studio albums — and one intriguing concert album — he put out between 1977 and 1983 showed that video had not yet killed the radio star.

After ’83 things were… not so good.

An Innocent Man was an instant classic. But we had to wait two long years until ’85 for the inevitable Greatest Hits collection, and its pair of underwhelming new singles tacked on at the end like an embarrassing afterthought. He still generated a couple hits from 1986′s The Bridge, which was so godawful he fired longtime producer Phil Ramone, then teamed up with Foreigner’s Mick Jones for Storm Front in 1989 with mixed results. His last album of new popular music, River of Dreams, was released 21 years ago. I gave it a full listen for the first time in years, and while it’s far from his best material, it’s aged better than the previous two albums. Sadly, it’s been a long time since I even gave up waiting for a new album.

His pre-Stranger albums were all fine, but definitely the work of a talented singer-songwriter who was still finding his voice.

But the middle period from 1977 to 1983… wow.

While the album covers all read “Billy Joel,” they might as well have had “The Billy Joel Band” printed on them. The band’s lineup during this period, touring and studio, was remarkably static. Liberty DeVitto on drums (has there ever been a better name for a drummer? Other than the Muppets’ Animal, I mean), Doug Stegmeyer on bass guitar, Richie Cannata on sax, and a small rotation of acoustic and electric guitar players, including Steve Khan, Hugh McKracken, and Russell Javors. And of course Joel on piano and keys. The biggest change in the lineup came in 1983, when Cannata was unceremoniously replaced by Mark Rivera. I heard a rumor years ago that Cannata was fired due to a drug problem, but can’t confirm that.

The albums were all solid creations, each with a sound all its own.

The Stranger was just a fine collection of pop ballads and twisted love songs, with a little rock’n'roll on the side. It’s one of those you can still listen to front to back, even though it’s been decades since we had to flip any vinyl. His followup, 1978′s jazz-infused 52nd Street, is so slickly produced that it’s easy to forget it’s actually a concept album, written from the point of view of a struggling young New York City musician. In 1980 Joel went pure New Wave with Glass Houses, the title of which was a rebuke to critics who considered him to be just a balladeer. That was followed in ’81 by a very unusual concert album, Songs In The Attic — a collection of songs he loved to perform but which had never been hits. The next year we got The Nylon Curtain, combining Beatlesque sounds with Talking Heads-like Cold War neuroses. Then his magnum opus, An Innocent Man, a tribute to the rock’n'roll of the late ’50s and early ’60s, with a sound that was still pure Billy Joel.

That’s a fine body of work for any writer of popular music, and Joel deeply deserves this award.

Caliphs Gotta Caliphate

July 23rd, 2014 - 9:12 am

Meanwhile, on the other side of Mesopotamia:

Using its own version of “soft” and “hard” power, the militants of Islamic State are crushing resistance across northern Iraq so successfully that their promise to march on Baghdad may no longer be unrealistic bravado.

While conventional states try to win hearts and minds abroad before necessarily resorting to military force, the militant group is also achieving its aims by psychological means – backed up by a reputation for extreme violence.

The Islamic State, which in June captured a vast stretch of territory in the north including the largest city Mosul, used this strategy when its fighters met armed resistance from the town of al-Alam for 13 days running.

They kidnapped 30 local families and rang up the town’s most influential citizens with a simple message about the hostages: “You know their destiny if you don’t let us take over the town.”

Within hours, tribesmen and local leaders caved in to save the families.

If Baghdad falls, that’s probably pretty much it for Iraq, even if the IS/Caliphate doesn’t last.

Cold War Redux?

July 23rd, 2014 - 8:18 am

Some of this Trifecta segment is a rehash of Monday’s Feinstein post, but I just had to get input from Scott Ott and Bill Whittle.

And we lured in a pro-Russian troll on the PJTV page, if you’d like to help me feed him.

Thought for the Day

July 23rd, 2014 - 7:04 am

Don’t Track Me, Bro

July 23rd, 2014 - 6:38 am

Here’s the latest from the world of cybertracking your web browser:

A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.

First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.

YouPorn quickly turned around and announced they they were “completely unaware that AddThis contained a tracking software that had the potential to jeopardize the privacy of our users,” and that they’d stopped using it. No such announcement came from the White House.

Pornographers 1, Washington 0.

Sign “O” the Times

July 23rd, 2014 - 5:09 am

solyndraandobama

The CBO has a dire warning about the rapid rise in publicly-held federal debt, reported here by Gene Epstein:

Based on its “extended baseline” scenario, which assumes no change in laws, the CBO foresees the debt soaring above 100% by the late 2030s and rising rapidly from there. Based on its “extended alternative fiscal scenario,” which essentially consists of informed judgments on how the budgetary situation is likely to play out in the real world of politics, the agency’s projections are far more dire: The debt-to-GDP ratio would rise above 180% by the late 2030s and continue climbing from there.

Either way, in the CBO’s understated language, the “debt would be on an upward path, relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.” That unsustainable upward path is fraught with risks. And while it is generally true that long-term forecasts are not worth betting on, this one is too plausible to ignore. The next dozen years will be the relative calm before the storm because the retiring baby boomers have yet to reach critical mass. This year, they will range in age from 50 to 68; 12 years from now, the range will be 62 to 80. Combine that with slow expansion of the working-age population, and the grim demographics are virtually baked in the cake.

Washington collected more in revenue that ever before last year, yet the deficit was nearly 50% bigger than George W. Bush’s worst non-TARP year. I don’t include TARP because that was a one-time expenditure, most of which has since been paid back, partly masking the true size of Obama’s first-term deficits. Bush’s worst non-TARP year was also the most expensive year of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — one of which is over, and the other is winding down.

So why the big deficits today? We’re expanding the welfare state (personal and corporate) on credit, which unlike spending on wars or TARP, never ends.

Well, right up until the financial collapse and/or hyperinflation.

Thought for the Day

July 22nd, 2014 - 2:39 pm

Rand Paul’s Jewish Offensive

July 22nd, 2014 - 1:24 pm

Rand Paul

His charm offensive, that is, reported by National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher:

Rand Paul, who has said he knew only a single Jewish family growing up in small-town Texas, has even found his own rabbi (one he shares with Rush Limbaugh) to help him navigate the cultural divide.

“Clearly, he is making a concerted effort and a sincere effort to really build relationships,” said Matt Brooks, executive director of the influential Republican Jewish Coalition, a political group that aims to represent Jewish interests within the GOP.

The charm offensive has two goals at its core. The first is to try to establish Paul in the foreign policy mainstream of Republicanism, particularly on the signal issue of Israel, which is of key importance to both Jewish voters and evangelical Christians. The second is to win over, or at the least neutralize, the moneyed class of hawkish Israel defenders—free-spending billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer chief among them—who Paul’s advisers know represent among the most significant impediments to his becoming the party’s next standard-bearer.

Paul has two handicaps going into the GOP nomination process. The first is his dad. If, as I’ve written before, Ron Paul isn’t actually a Jew-hater and a racist, he certainly doesn’t make it easy to defend him against those charges. The second is Rand’s libertarian tendency to want to talk shop (political philosophy) with anybody willing to engage in an intellectual discussion. That’s great fun for college students of all ages, but makes for easily-manipulated sound bytes when taken out of context. Paul the Younger had an early stumble doing just that when he first ran for Senate.

Since then, however, Paul has taken seriously the very serious business of running for President. He’s kept the shop talk private, and is now putting some comfortable distance between himself and his father on foreign policy generally, and with this Jewish outreach specifically.

He still looks like a longshot candidate to me, but he’s showing enough political savvy to shorten those odds.

Overrating Warren

July 22nd, 2014 - 12:55 pm

David Harsanyi thinks Elizabeth Warren is overrated:

Still, it seems to me that a lot of people are overestimating the appeal, uniqueness and popularity of Warren. Those who believe she has crossover appeal are fooling themselves. What’s most enticing about Warren right now is the perception of her, not the reality.

Once you get past the impassioned sermons, and they can be quite entertaining, the most striking aspect of Warren’s big-message progressivism — the driving principles are laid out in the much-discussed “11 commandments” speech — is how small and ordinary it all is. For starter, while Warren’s critique of capitalism might resonate, most of her agenda items look like everyone else’s agenda items. She might offer Americans more “commandments” than God, but many of her directives can found on the “issues” page of any middling Democratic candidate’s website.

I’m going to disagree a bit with Harsanyi on Warren. Yes, Warren is overrated — and you should read his whole column to learn just why. But the fact that most-if-not-all of her positions are identical to “any middling Democratic candidate” isn’t one of those reasons. I’d argue instead that it’s an indication of just how far to the left the Democrats have moved. A Jack Kennedy, a Lloyd Bentsen, probably even Al Gore v1.0, has little place in today’s party.

The fact the a mediocrity like Warren is the progressive Left’s rising “young” star just proves that the movement has grown just as stale as it has grown powerful.

Join the Consurgency!

July 22nd, 2014 - 11:45 am

If you missed it at PJTV yesterday, my interview with Kurt Schlichter about his new book, Conservative Insurgency, is up on YouTube.

Turning Colorado Red Again

July 22nd, 2014 - 10:40 am

The headline isn’t quite accurate because Colorado was never really red. Our politics have always tended towards hardcore conservative Republicans and deeply weird (Richard Lamm, Gary Hart) Democrats. And the occasional outlier, too — Colorado voters went for Ross Perot by a bigger margin than any other state. Twice. But the GOP has been in Circular Firing Squad Mode for nearly a decade, and our state Democrats have undergone a major shift to the left. So with all that in mind, read this RCP report on our off-year election:

The election will also be a test of lessons learned by the party, locally and nationally. The GOP was dealt a blow in Colorado four years ago by Ken Buck, whose series of incendiary gaffes cost the party a Senate seat in one of the most favorable climates for a pickup. Republicans believe they have avoided that risk this year with Cory Gardner, a young and charismatic congressman from the conservative 4th Congressional District whose entrance into the race cleared the GOP field.

There’s a lot riding on him. While Republicans don’t necessarily have to win Colorado to take control of the U.S. Senate, a victory there is viewed as integral to the party’s hopes in 2016.

Wadhams said that if Republicans don’t win the Senate seat, or at least the gubernatorial race, “in a year like this, with a tired, beleaguered incumbent, when the issues are with us … my question is — and I’ve lived in Colorado all my life — when are we going to be able to win again?”

Good question. I might have an answer for you in November.

Maybe.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 22nd, 2014 - 8:40 am

Whoopsie:

In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped nearly 5 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.

A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.

The decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.

I bet Nancy is wishing she’d read it first.

More seriously, the Supremes are likely to uphold the lower court’s decision, and probably by a better than 5-4 margin.

You Too Can Learn to Fire a Russian SAM

July 22nd, 2014 - 8:17 am

2K11 Krug

There’s an app for various Russian surface-to-air missile launchers:

After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the Hungarian amateur surface-to-air missile community—yes, there is a community for this—got access to detailed documentation on how to operate the country’s various, decommissioned Soviet-made SAMs. The sleuths also got into contact with some of the out-of-work operators and came close enough to photograph the instrument panels.

Put it all together, the result is a free simulator—known as SAM Simulator—that is a close approximation of the real thing. There’s no Buk missile launcher. But the 2K11 Krug is available. Both the Buk and the Krug use semi-active radar homing missiles.

These things were designed to be used by young conscripts, straight off the collective farm.

Headline of the Day

July 22nd, 2014 - 7:09 am

BIAS

I’d have gone with something like “Despite Losses, Hamas Still Supports Launching Rockets at Cities,” but that’s just me.

The Neverending Rickroll

July 22nd, 2014 - 6:15 am

RICK

Oh no:

It’s easy for someone in your home to interrupt your Chromecast stream and play something of their own, but you can always retake control… right? Well, don’t count on it. Analyst Dan Petro has built the Rickmote Controller, a proof-of-concept device that hijacks Google’s media stick to play everyone’s favorite Rick Astley video (and theoretically, any media) on loop. The Raspberry Pi-based box simply floods the Chromecast with WiFi disconnection requests, kicking the adapter into its setup mode; after that, it’s easy for the Rickmote to make its own connection and deliver non-stop ’80s pop.

If elected, I will ask Congress to institute the death penalty for this offense against good taste.

Russia’s Least Funny Home Videos

July 22nd, 2014 - 5:23 am

That’s reportedly a Russian BM-21 Grad mobile rocket launcher firing at Ukraine. Do we have any Russian or Ukrainian speakers to translate?

Thought for the Day

July 21st, 2014 - 3:33 pm

Required Viewing

July 21st, 2014 - 2:23 pm

I got to talk to Kurt Schlichter about his new book, Conservative Insurgency, and healing the rift between conservatives and libertarians, between the Establishment and the Tea Party.

Video here. Book here.

Geek Out Over a Worthy Cause

July 21st, 2014 - 1:10 pm

USA Today claims that JJ Abrams just unveiled the “new (old) X-Wing Starfighter,” but that looks more like the Z-95 Headhunter, which preceded the T-65 X-Wing.

So is JJ throwing us off the scent by showing us an outdated fighter which won’t actually appear in the new movie? Or is the situation so dire for our old friends the New Republic that they’re forced to rely on antiquated starfighters?

I really hope it’s the latter.

Anbar Awakening II

July 21st, 2014 - 11:50 am

IRAQ-UNREST-ARMY-EXECUTION-US-RIGHTS-HRW-FILES

StrategyPage:

ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) is attracting a specific type or recruit (Islamic fanatics, especially the young, especially teenagers, who are not good for much beyond being suicide bombers) and that is becoming a problem. Many of these recruits are foreigners and foreigners are particularly unpopular in Iraq, especially if they are armed and looking to kill Iraqis. This has contributed to the growth in local resistance to ISIL. In Iraq and Syria the Sunni tribes and secular Sunni groups (like the Baath party in Iraq and secular political groups in Syria) are now openly opposing ISIL. These anti-ISIL Sunni groups kept quiet as ISIL strove to take control of western Iraq earlier this year, and especially after ISIL grabbed Mosul and most of northwestern Iraq in June. But as ISIL began imposing their lifestyle rules the resistance began to become tangible. What was really annoying was ISIL sending out groups of religious zealots (some of them armed women) to attack women for not wearing a covering up properly or being out without a male relative as an escort. ISIL also punishes anyone caught drinking alcohol or smoking in public. Watching videos or popular TV shows (like the World Cup) is forbidden as is the use of drugs or playing musical instruments or most sports. In other words, most forms of “fun” are forbidden. ISIL members are expected to rely on sex with their wives (up to four), eating and listening to live or recorded sermons by acceptable Islamic preachers for entertainment. Tormenting and killing infidels (anyone not Moslem) and heretics (especially Shia) is also encouraged.

These extremist policies always backfire.

For all Iraq’s problems, its people have enjoyed the taste of liberty on and off these last 11 years — and experienced the death and violence of the Islamists, too. It shouldn’t come as a surprise which they prefer.

But that’s not to say there’s going to be a happy ending, even if “these extremist policies always backfire.”

The first is that IS/Caliphate might have dealt Iraq the Humpty Dumpty blow — an artificial state, kept together first by brutality and then out of habit, which may never be put back together again. The second is the nature of the self-proclaimed Caliph himself. Anybody with ego enough to proclaim himself the first Caliph in nearly a century, and bloody-minded enough to hire teenage suicide bombers by the busload, isn’t going to go away quietly. It’s great that the people of Iraq are turning on him, but he has the means to make them pay for their defiance.

From the President’s Statement on MH17

July 21st, 2014 - 10:53 am

Confuzzled

WashEx has the writeup:

“Now is the time for Rusisa and Putin to pivot away from the strategy he been taking and get serious” about resolving the conflict in Ukraine, Obama said in a statement Monday morning in the White House Rose Garden.

He also issued a vaguely worded threat.

“My preference has and continues to be finding a diplomatic solution with regard to Ukraine,” he said. “If Russia continues to back these separatists … then Russia will only further isolate itself with the international community” and increase its costs within the international community.

Obama’s statement came after a weekend in which his administration grappled with the fallout over the downed Malaysian jetliner with reports that Russian-backed separatists were tampering with evidence and removing bodies along the 10-mile crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Obama said such tampering has “no place in the community of nations” and said given Russia’s direct influence over the separatists, Putin has the “responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation.”

I don’t mean to be a spoilsport, but couldn’t the President have announced a concrete step or two, rather than yet another lecture about international norms and community and other stuff Putin clearly doesn’t care about?

Obama could have announced something that hurts Moscow — rapid deployment of scrapped anti-missile systems to Poland and the Czech Republic, a broad expansion of drilling and exporting of American oil, or the exclusion of Russia from further talks with Iran and fully imposing sanctions on Tehran.

If our relations really have dropped to Cold War levels, then it’s time to get serious about treating Moscow as a real adversary.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 21st, 2014 - 10:35 am

♡bamaCare!!! is the settled law of the land.*

Last week’s burst of world disorder was ideal for a news dump, and the White House didn’t disappoint: On no legal basis, all 4.5 million residents of the five U.S. territories were quietly released from ♡bamaCare!!!.

As recently as last year, HHS instructed the territories that they “have enjoyed the benefits of the applicable consumer protections” and HHS “has no legal authority to exclude the territories” from ObamaCare. HHS said the law adopted an explicit definition of “state” that includes the territories for the purpose of the mandates and the public-health programs, and another explicit definition that excludes the territories for the purpose of the subsidies. Thus there is “no statutory authority . . . to selectively exempt the territories from certain provisions, unless specified by law.”

Laws are made by Congress, but all of a sudden last week HHS discovered new powers after “a careful review of this situation and the relevant statutory language.” For simplicity’s sake, the territories will now be governed by the “state” definition that excludes the territories for both the subsidies and now the mandates too. But the old definition will still apply for the public-health spending, so the territories will get their selective exemption after all.

*Void where prohibited.

I wouldn’t use the term “Holocaust” for what is really a regional ethnic cleansing, but the fate of Middle East Christians has been sealed:

In a region where Christians predate Muslims by centuries, over one million Christians have been killed or have had to flee because of jihadi persecution, while America is basically standing by and watching. This is the sad news that Breitbart’s National Security Editor and one of the world’s leading experts on asymmetric warfare, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, brought to Breitbart News Saturday, hosted by Editor in Chief Alex Marlow on Sirius XM Patriot Radio.
Dr. Gorka explained that “in the last 48 hours, ISIS, which is now called the Islamic State in Mosul, has painted the letter “N” for Nazarene on the houses of all the surviving Christians in the city. ISIS has basically given an ultimatum to all the Christians left: You can either flee or convert to Islam, or we will kill you.”

Gorka points out that, over the last 20 years, America has stood up around the world to save Muslims. “Whether it was to save the Muslims in Bosnia or the Albanians, Kosovars, and Muslims in Serbia, it is now time for a humanitarian operation to save the remaining Christians in Iraq,” he said. “It is time for the American people and our representatives to do something for our co-religionists remaining in the Middle East.”

Marlow observed that the blatant religious cleansing is horrifying and asked Gorka: “Why is it that the mainstream press is not interested in the story?”

Now that part I can answer.

If there’s one thing our Mainstream Media suffers from even more than simple bias, it’s white guilt. For just one recent example, here’s the NYT’s Carl Zimmer yesterday on Twitter.

Four hours later he walked back that tweet with a column-length “Twit Longer” post, with the excuse that “Twitter is an ambiguous medium.” But what I saw was an unambiguous insult on Twitter, followed by 600 words or so of self-evident pablum meant to explain away the insult. I could be wrong, of course, but it isn’t like we don’t see those kinds of mean-spirited bromides, these thinly-veiled accusations of racism from the Left all the damn time.

So how does this relate to the underreported religious cleansing of Christians from the Middle East?

Nearly a thousand years ago, some cruel-hearted white European Christians decided to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims who had previously conquered it from Christian Byzantium. Despite their cruelties, the Europeans ultimately failed, and were forced back out of the Middle East by equally-cruel Muslims. That the Holy Land had previously been Jewish or Christian, that the bloody cruelties extended to both sides, and that the Muslims eventually triumphed, have never kept Muslims from decrying the Crusades as the worst injustice in history, and claiming themselves as the sole victims. And that’s pretty much how it’s taught in our universities and high school, too.

Now, nearly a thousand years later, the remaining Christians are being forced to flee, or convert, or die. This isn’t news because it is justice — legitimate payback for the Crusades. Just like, I suppose, illegal immigrants carrying infectious diseases is payback for racist Southern teabaggers whose forefathers brought smallpox to North America. The sins of the white racist fathers are the sins of the white racist sons — which is newsworthy, unlike the religious cleansing of “virtual whites” from Iraq.

The Muslim or the illegal can almost never be the victim, and the Christian (or Israeli Jew) or the American is almost always the devil. That’s the narrative, and the facts on the ground may be altered or ignored to fit it.

President Hillary? Fuggidaboudit

July 21st, 2014 - 8:05 am

Robert W. Merry:

Hillary Clinton isn’t likely ever to become president of the United States. In fact, there is a greater possibility than is generally recognized by the Washington cognoscenti that she won’t even run. If she does, though, the barriers she faces will prove overwhelming. Her 2008 campaign was her last good shot for the office, and she failed. Since then, numerous developments have conspired steadily to diminish her prospects. Those prospects are now near zero.

This analytical framework holds absolutely no credulity in Washington.

That last line might be the most convincing reason Merry has.

Required Reading

July 21st, 2014 - 6:41 am

Speaking of the Russian bear, here’s Matthew Continetti:

“The bear is loose!” President Obama has been saying, whenever he leaves the White House to visit Starbucks, or sandwich shops, or burger joints, or BBQ shacks, or neighborhood diners, in his increasingly rote and pathetic attempts to “connect” with “real people.” Obama, we have been told, is frustrated, “restless,” bored with the responsibilities and chores of office. He thinks of himself as the bear—intimidating, wild, untamed, roving—escaping his den. But he is flattering himself. Obama is not the bear. He is the cub: aimless, naïve, self-interested, self-indulgent, irresponsible, irresolute. The bear is in Moscow.

That might be the single most devastatingly accurate paragraph I’ve ever read about Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom, but you’ll want to read the whole thing.

Man Up, Man

July 21st, 2014 - 5:38 am

FEINSTEIN

Has Senator Diane Feinstein suffered a mental break from reality? I think that’s a fair question to ask after the Senate Intelligence Chairwoman said the following to CNN’s Candy Crowley:

“The issue is, where is Putin? I would say, Putin, you have to man up,” Feinstein said. “You should say if this was a mistake, which I hope it was, say it. Even if it was a mistake, it was a horrendous mistake to make. And I think it points out the futility of what’s happening in the Ukraine.”

Man up? That man, Putin, already seized Crimea, and his strategy is making eastern Ukraine ungovernable is working so well that an airliner with nearly 300 aboard was shot down over the skies there late last week. Putin has shown that he can, in what is basically a local dispute, crank up the violence to a degree intolerable not only to Kyiv, but to the entire world.

And what will the world do? There are only two parts of the world that really matter here, outside of Russia. One part, Europe, will wring its hands and then go right back to buying Russian energy. The other part, the United States, will probably slap some more sanctions on Moscow — yet another an act of “petulant impotence.” on our part.

Put Putin next to Feinstein. One of them is using a new form of warfare to get exactly what he wants; the other goes on national TV to make outrageously and demonstrably false claims. One is so unserious it beggars belief; the other is deadly serious about taking what he wants.

Feinstein is correct however when she says our relations have reached “Cold War levels.” What she failed to mention is that is in large part because we have a Jimmy Carter II enjoying the fruits of his second term “flexibility.”

Friday Night Videos

July 18th, 2014 - 10:08 pm

Man, but do I love it when somebody other than Bob Dylan sings a Bob Dylan song — so here’s the terminally smooth Robert Palmer performing “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” along with an otherwise-useless cover band, UB40.

I was happily surprised to find that there was a video made of this record, since I don’t recall it ever being released as a single. It came off his 1990 album, Don’t Explain, which featured the mega-selling medley of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me” and “I Want You.” It was a big album of 18 tracks, and a nice return to Palmer’s Pop/Bahamian roots after his wildly successful foray into more guitar-driven material with 1985′s Riptide and 1988′s Heavy Nova.

If you can’t find some joy in a Bob Dylan lyric set to a Caribbean sound with a Palmer delivery, then you might be listening wrong.

News You Can Use

July 18th, 2014 - 2:08 pm

Br8PKDBIcAAxmKl

So here’s a picture of a cat riding a burrito in outer space.

Thought for the Day

July 18th, 2014 - 11:47 am