Thought for the Day

October 6th, 2015 - 4:40 pm

The Best Places to Die

October 6th, 2015 - 2:05 pm

Morbid, but something to think about as we all get older:

A study was conducted to know the best places in the world to die. For the study, the researchers compared end-of-life care in 80 nations and reached at the conclusion that the UK is at the top position, with Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Belgium at the top five.

Reasons behind the UK taking the top slot include the integration of palliative care into the NHS, specialized staff and deep community engagement. Annie Pannelay, of EIU healthcare, said, “A very strong marker in our index is the availability of specialized palliative care workers and this is where the UK scores particularly well. The UK has a long history of providing treatment in palliative care”.

Dying: The one thing national health care gets right.

The Russians Are Coming

October 6th, 2015 - 12:34 pm
In this photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official website on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, a Russian SU-24M jet fighter prepares to take off from an airbase Hmeimim in Syria. A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry has rejected claims that Russia in its airstrikes in Syria is targeting civilians or opposition forces. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

In this photo taken from Russian Defense Ministry official website on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, a Russian SU-24M jet fighter prepares to take off from an airbase Hmeimim in Syria. A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry has rejected claims that Russia in its airstrikes in Syria is targeting civilians or opposition forces. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia has built up “substantial” forces in Syria, and confirmed what everybody knew — that Putin is targeting anti-Assad forces in the west of the country rather than ISIS in the east.


“I will not go into any specific numbers but I can confirm that we have seen the substantial build-up of Russian forces in Syria – air force, air defences but also ground troops in connection with the air base they have,” he continued.

“And we also see increased naval presence of Russian ships and naval capabilities outside Syria or in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

“So there has been a substantial military build-up by Russia with many different kinds of capabilities and forces, over the last weeks.”

Perhaps the best we can hope for now is that we take turns with the Russians. Putin can accomplish what he wants to do fairly quickly, by pounding the snot out of anti-Assad rebels. Then Russian forces can (mostly) stand down while we go back to ineffectual little pinprick attacks against ISIS.

Obama can tell Putin he’s getting stuck in a “quogmire” all he likes, but that’s just a silly thing to say to the man who flattened Grozny.

OK, Google — Get Lost

October 6th, 2015 - 11:21 am
"Hey, Siri -- punch it." (Image courtesy Porsche)

“Hey, Siri — punch it.”
(Image courtesy Porsche)

Porsche will preload Apple CarPlay into new 911 Carrera models, but not Google’s rival Android Auto.

Here’s why:

As with any other carmaker, Porsche had the option to include Android Auto as a user-selectable connected infotainment option, but ultimately decided against it, citing Google’s data gathering proclivities, reports Motor Trend.

While not mentioned in the official PR line, Porsche was not too keen on handing over raw data gleaned from the 991/992′s onboard diagnostics unit, known as the OBD2 in automotive parlance, to Google as per Android Auto’s user agreement. For reasons unknown, the Internet search giant demands manufacturers allow access to metrics relating to vehicle speed, throttle position, coolant and oil temp, engine revs and other system specifics.

Don’t be creepy, Google.

Fossils Then, Fossils Now

October 6th, 2015 - 10:40 am
Outfoxed the dinosaurs. (Image courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Outfoxed the dinosaurs.
(Image courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Meet the plucky little proto-beaver:

While an asteroid impact, earthquakes and volcanoes wiped out much of life on earth, one survivor apparently emerged, a furry, buck-toothed creature science has dubbed Kimbetopsalis simmonsae.

Identified from fossils, the new species was a member of a group of mammals known as multituberculates, named for the many cusps, or tubercles, found on their teeth.

The rodent-like animals lived alongside the dinosaurs, but unlike the doomed reptilian giants, they managed to live for another 30 million years after the asteroid that pushed the dinosaurs off the evolutionary stage.

What was bad for the dinosaurs proved a boon to Kimbetopsalis, researchers explain.

After the asteroid impact pushed many species to extinction, “all this ecological space became available and the mammals went a bit nuts,” says University of Edinburgh paleontologist Sarah Shelley, co-author of a published study on the discovery.

Imagine how nuts we human-mammals will go once the lefty dinosaurs trying to run everything finally die off.

Syria on $50 a Day

October 6th, 2015 - 9:42 am

About those Russian volunteers heading to Syria…

“It is likely that groups of Russian volunteers will appear in the ranks of the Syrian army as combat participants,” Komoyedov told the Interfax-AVN news agency.

The Kremlin has said that Russia has no current plans to deploy ground troops to Syria and will confine itself to conducting air strikes to support the Syrian army instead. It has not yet offered a view on the possibility of Russian volunteers or mercenaries fighting in Syria.

Komoyedov was commenting on unconfirmed media reports that some Russian volunteers who had previously fought alongside Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine had been spotted fighting with the Syrian army.

“What attracts volunteers apart from ideas? Of course money most likely,” said Komoyedov, a lawmaker with the Communist party.

Interfax-AVN quoted unnamed media reports as saying that such volunteers could make $50 per day.

At those prices, you couldn’t hire a Seattle barista to fight for you in Syria — not that you’d want to.

But wait, there’s more. This next bit is veddy, veddy interestink:

Komoyedov spoke after Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Russian internal republic of Chechnya, told a Russian radio station on Friday he was ready to send Chechen forces to Syria to carry out “special operations” if President Vladimir Putin gave his blessing.

Those Chechen are basically Mob enforcers but without the civility and tact.

The Final Countdown

October 6th, 2015 - 8:27 am

It seems unpossible, but the big Bullets & Bourbon conference is just two months away at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, TX.

I’ll be handling the model rocket launches (true) and am putting together a presentation on the ultimate penumbra emanating from the Constitution — the right to pleasure (also true). One of those truths self-evident to sports shooters is that the Second Amendment brings an awful lot of pleasure.

I’m also trying to put together a little something, maybe even a contest, on making a proper Old Fashioned. But the Lodge is in a dry county, and I’m told that complicates things. The Lodge itself isn’t dry, of course, and guests all become members, which allows them to enjoy the bourbon, and…

…well, you see what I mean by complications.

The list of speakers includes Glenn Reynolds, Dr Helen Smith, Mark Rippetoe, Kevin Williamson (whose brain I’m dying to pick), Ed Morrissey, Roger Simon, Dana Loesch, and I hope I’m not forgetting anyone.

I’m told reservations are still available

News You Can Use

October 6th, 2015 - 7:52 am
Life of the party. (Shutterstock image)

Life of the party.
(Shutterstock image)

Read why Florida Libertarians want to kick Sol Invictus out of the party:

“He is the absolute exact opposite of a Libertarian. He’s a self-proclaimed fascist. He’s promoting a second civil war,” states Wyllie. “It’s absolute insanity. We must explain to people this is the opposite of Libertarians. This guy has no place in the Libertarian Party.”

Wyllie knew that the 32-year-old lawyer would be trouble ever since he walked into the race, claiming that he’s using his candidacy to actively recruit neo-Nazis into the party in hopes of starting a civil war against the government.

Sol Invictus — “who changed his given name to a Latin phrase that means ‘majestic unconquered sun’” — admits to performing the pagan ritual yet took issue with what he calls Wyllie’s smear campaign.

“I did sacrifice a goat. I know that’s probably a quibble in the mind of most Americans,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “I sacrificed an animal to the god of the wilderness … Yes, I drank the goat’s blood.”

You know you’re not supposed to do that even at frat parties, right?

Hillary Clinton performing her beloved "invisible wall" mime routine for supporters at Broward College, Florida. (AP photo)

Hillary Clinton performing her beloved “invisible wall” mime routine for supporters at Broward College, Florida.
(AP photo)

I mentioned Hillary Clinton’s “comically expensive” campaign yesterday, linking to that report that she’d spent $9,000 for “experts” to put together her campaign’s event playlist.

But let’s put her spending and fundraising in perspective, by comparing them to rival Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders:

Clinton vastly outraised Sanders during the second quarter as their respective campaigns began, drawing in $47 million compared to his $15 million.

But Sanders narrowed the gap considerably in the second quarter, raking in $26 million compared with Clinton’s $28 million.

Sanders said based on these fundraising results, he is “very confident” his campaign can pull off “one of the major political upsets in American history.”

The Vermont senator said he is proud that his campaign’s average contribution is below $30.

“Well I am very proud of that in the era of Citizens United and in the era of super-PACS, where millionaires and billionaires are making huge contributions to campaigns, we don’t have a super PAC,” Sanders said.

“And the overwhelming, overwhelming, overwhelming majority of our contributions are coming from middle-class and working class-people. I think our average contribution may be less than 30 bucks.”

The Clinton campaign also reported that it had a burn rate of 89 percent in its second quarter, whereas the Sanders campaign said it spent approximately 50 percent of its cash.

If I’m doing my math correctly, Clinton entered the third quarter with about $5.2 million in the bank from $47 million raised, and Sanders entered with about $7.5 million in the bank on $15 million raised.

Note that although Clinton is currently up by five points in Iowa, her lead is shrinking — while Sanders catches up in the polls and in the fundraising.

A quick look back at Iowa in 2008 might be instructive, too. Clinton left the Iowa Caucuses “dead broke” (for real this time) and even then was only able to buy herself a third place finish behind John Edwards. What saved her bacon was a convincing win in New Hampshire just five days later.

But as of right now, Clinton trails Sanders badly in New Hampshire.

The next stop 11 days after New Hampshire is a closed caucus in Nevada — and Clinton tends to fare poorly in caucus states, which are more easily dominated by Progressive True Believers.

Clinton’s firewall then is the South Carolina primary — but will she have enough money left to buy the airtime she’ll need?

Or will Bill have to cut her another seven-figure check to keep her in the running?

Stay tuned.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 6th, 2015 - 5:13 am

The Commonwealth Fund’s Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey conducted telephone interviews with nearly 5,000 American adults, to discover if Affordable Care Act had actually made care more affordable.

The results were analyzed by Motley Fool’s Sean Williams, and this part stood out:

If there was a silver lining in the Commonwealth Fund’s survey, it’s that most adults, regardless of where they obtained their health coverage, believe they could afford medical care if they became seriously ill. In total, 80% of employer-covered individuals believed they could cover their medical costs if they fell seriously ill, and 65% of ACA-covered consumers responded in the affirmative.

That’s the silver lining in an otherwise meh-at-best report?

Fewer Americans covered by the Affordable Care Act report that they think their care will be affordable than do Americans who get their insurance the old-fashioned way. And the Affordable Care Act is designed to get more people off of employer-based insurance and into the less-affordable ♡bamaCare!!!.

So when exactly is the affordability supposed to kick in?

Thought for the Day

October 5th, 2015 - 4:24 pm

As I was saying…

[Original post below]

You might have read the headline about Russia’s violation of Turkish airspace, but the NYT report buried the real lede seven grafs down:

But Russia, which began its air campaign in Syria last Monday, showed no sign that it was backing down. In fact, Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, the head of the armed forces committee in Russia’s Parliament, told news services that pro-Russian veterans of the conflict in eastern Ukraine side will most “likely” start showing up as a volunteer battalion in Syria.

300,000 Chinese “volunteers” crossed the Yalu River in 1950 to save North Korea — and they did. Those People’s Liberation Army soldiers weren’t any more volunteers than these Russian troops, but up against thugs and terrorist (and without restrictive ROEs), they’ll probably do more than their bit to save Assad.

Then there’s this piece I found elsewhere this morning:

The real question here is where would Russia[n ground forces] strike first? Undoubtedly, Russia’s first targets would be in already-bombed locations. Analysts at the Sentinel Analytical Group believe Homs could very well be Russia’s first major objective. The fact that Homs is completely isolated from other rebel-led areas makes it an ideal target for al-Assad and its Russian ally, affording Russian forces an opportunity to get the measure of the operational environment quickly.

A viable strategic location due to the petroleum refinery, a ground operation in Homs would also deal a huge blow to the American effort in arming and supporting anti-Assad rebel groups.

Boom. That target kinda picks itself.

Keep an eye on Homs.

News You Can Use

October 5th, 2015 - 1:34 pm
Career counselor. (Image courtesy AVN/Wikipedia)

Career counselor.
(Image courtesy AVN/Wikipedia)

A Rockland County Christian college softball coach is being sued for trying to turn his female players into porn stars:

Kurt Ludwigsen, 44, was arrested in April for improper sexual conduct with his Nyack College players, but lawsuits filed by three of his players reveals scandalous new information about his cocky coaching.

“The outrageous conduct of Ludwigsen includes, without limitation, routinely licking his players’ ears, kissing their lips and faces, slapping their buttocks, grabbing their breasts, [and] directing them to sit on his lap,” the Manhattan federal court lawsuits state.

Ludwigsen also harassed and assaulted the young co-eds by, “inviting a pornographic actress known as Allie Haze to practice and directing students to life counselling sessions with her, [and] directing an underage drinking outing where his players were instructed to dress in cocktail dresses and dance with male strangers and offering to assist players to attain employment in the adult entertainment industry.”

Please tell me you know you’re not supposed to do even one little bit of that.

Nice Arms Embargo You Have There

October 5th, 2015 - 12:20 pm
You'd be smiling, too. (Mikhail Klimentyev, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

You’d be smiling, too.
(Mikhail Klimentyev, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

What else did Obama give up to keep Iran at the negotiating table long enough to work out a bad deal? The arms embargo:

Addressing concerns that a landmark nuclear deal reached this year could boost Iran’s military power, the Obama administration reassured critics that it would maintain and enforce its remaining tough sanctions against the country.

Yet the U.S. government has pursued far fewer violations of a long-standing arms embargo against Iran in the past year compared to recent years, according to a review of court records and interviews with two senior officials involved in sanctions enforcement.

The sharp fall in new prosecutions did not reflect fewer attempts by Iran to break the embargo, the officials said. Rather, uncertainty among prosecutors and agents on how the terms of the deal would affect cases made them reluctant to commit already scarce resources with the same vigor as in previous years, the officials said.

The more relaxed enforcement raises questions over how strictly the arms embargo and other remaining sanctions will be applied in future, since the nuclear deal still needs to be implemented and Iran will likely remain sensitive to a tough sanctions regime.

As I was forced to conclude back in March, Obama wants Iran armed to the teeth — “he wants it.”

How (Not) to Make War

October 5th, 2015 - 10:55 am

Here’s what American friendship is worth now:

U.S.-backed rebels in Syria appealed to the Obama administration Friday for anti­aircraft missiles to defend their positions against relentless Russian airstrikes that have so far mostly targeted the moderate opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

A joint statement issued by the United States and other Western allies who have collectively aided moderate rebel units urged Russia to stop targeting moderate rebels and “to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL,” the acronym referring to the Islamic State.

U.S. officials indicated that there is no immediate plan to offer additional assistance to the rebel units that have been armed and trained under a covert CIA-led program aimed at supporting moderate groups and weakening Assad’s hold on power.

This is a tricksy position Putin has put Obama in. Obama can continue to support our “friends” in the Syrian opposition and risk allowing them to shoot down Russian jet. Or Obama can cut and run (which is what he’s doing) and show to the world that the US is not a trustworthy ally, but that the Russians are.

More accurately, Obama put himself in this situation by drawing red lines which weren’t, and by pledging just enough support to keep our “allies” dragging the conflict on, but not enough to topple Assad.

Run, Joe, Run!

October 5th, 2015 - 9:35 am
"YES!" (AP photo)

(AP photo)

Hillary Clinton is losing some fundraisers to Joe Biden — and they aren’t all being quiet about it:

A few of the fundraisers have gone public with their presidential preference. Others have quietly decamped and signaled their intentions to the Draft Biden 2016 super PAC that is working to prod the vice president into the race for the White House.

“Instead of being ready for Hillary, we’re waiting for Joe,” said Bill Bartmann, the founder and chief executive of CFS2 Inc., and onetime donor to Mrs. Clinton’s friendly super PAC. Mr. Bartmann’s switch in allegiance prompted one Clinton campaign official to contact him and ask: “Why are you doing this?” he said.

Clinton fundraisers say they don’t expect many supporters to switch teams, should Mr. Biden enter the presidential primary race. Her campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Biden’s growing support base demonstrates the threat he could present in chipping away at Mrs. Clinton’s donor ranks, and her campaign is taking steps to stave off high-profile defections.

Taking steps, hmm?

I imagine those steps start at asking for a public pledge of support, and rising all the way to “Bill has photographs.” But money can’t buy you love, which is Hillary’s real deficit. That, and her comically expensive campaign.

She’s going to need to keep all the fundraisers she can.

Fifteen for Thee But Not for Me

October 5th, 2015 - 8:27 am

From the Department of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up:

The labor union that led the charge for a $15 minimum wage hike in cities across California is now moving to secure an exemption for employers under union contracts.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor buried the exemption on the eighth page of its 12-page proposal for the Santa Monica City Council to review Tuesday while deciding whether to follow Los Angeles and increase the minimum wage.

The loophole would allow employers with collective bargaining agreements to sidestep the wage hike and pay their union members below the proposed $15-per-hour minimum wage.

Nice work if you can get it — pricing everyone but themselves out of the entry-level labor market.

Clinton vs the Teamsters, Part II

October 5th, 2015 - 7:18 am

Last week Queen Cacklepants attempted to shore up her union support by coming out against the ♡bamaCare!!! Cadillac tax. Daniel John Sobieski noticed something I’d forgotten from the week before — Clinton’s “Pope News Dump” announcement that she would oppose Keystone XL and, as a consequence, all the union jobs the pipeline would support.


The oil will be extracted whether Keystone XL is built or not. The pipeline itself, which will also carry via a link Bakken crude from North Dakota, will create tens of thousands of high-paying union jobs. According to the American Economic Forum, the seven-year delay on Keystone has already cost the American economy $175 billion in lost economic activity.

That unions want Keystone XL was seen in the testimony before Congress of a key union leader in the under-employed construction trades:

Testifying on behalf of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Legislative Director David Mallino recently appeared before the House subcommittee on energy and power.

“The unemployment rate in the construction industry reached over 27% in 2010, and joblessness in construction remains far higher than any industry or sector, with over 1 million construction workers currently unemployed in the United States,” he testified. “Too many hard-working Americans are out of work, and the Keystone XL Pipeline will change that dire situation for thousands of them.”

The Keystone pipeline is safe, certainly safer than the oil trains that carry oil and are involved in frequent explosive derailments. It doesn’t threaten the planet and the Alberta oil will be extracted anyway. The only thing that may be in jeopardy if it isn’t built is Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

It’s a miracle Clinton can remember who she’s supporting in what way at any given moment, and who she just screwed over by doing so.

But there’s always tomorrow, and another promise to make or break, and another position to reverse or adopt.

Advisor to Clinton: Lawyer Up

October 5th, 2015 - 6:39 am
"Higher, like baby we couldn't get much?"

“Higher, like baby we couldn’t get much?”

A “trusted” legal adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton has told the New York Post that they have urged Hillary to hire a criminal defense attorney in the wake of Emailgate.


The adviser, who has been a Clinton confidant for more than 30 years, laid out his concerns about Hillary’s legal exposure in a wide-ranging interview.

“This e-mail thing is spiraling out of control,” he said. “To paraphrase John Dean of Watergate fame, it’s a cancer on her candidacy.

“Frankly,” he continued, “I am used to my advice on legal matters being taken very seriously and acted upon by the Clintons. I’ve told them repeatedly that this FBI e-mail investigation could go in a very dangerous direction very quickly.

“I think Bill takes the matter seriously. But Hillary is still acting as though it’s a political smear job by right-wing zealots.”

It’s a very short list of candidates for the Post’s “oldest and most trusted” source within the Clinton camp.

Anyone here care to take a stab at who it might be?

In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, an aerial view of a bomb explosion in Syria. According to information released by the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian aircraft have carried out 20 sorties in Syria in the past 24 hours. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, an aerial view of a bomb explosion in Syria. According to information released by the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian aircraft have carried out 20 sorties in Syria in the past 24 hours. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

It’s amazing how effective warfare can be when it’s actually waged:

The Russian air force began strikes in Syria on Wednesday. In the past 24 hours, it has carried out 20 flights targeting 10 ISIS positions in Idlib province, the Russian Defense Ministry announced in a statement Sunday.

Since 2011, Syria has been torn apart by a brutal civil war that has seen the rise of extremist groups including ISIS. Moscow supports the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and says it is targeting ISIS, al Nusra and “other terrorist groups.”

The non-Russian anti-ISIS coalition, feckless as ever, isn’t pleased with civilian casualties or with Russia’s choice of targets, but it’s safe to say that their cries will be ignored in Moscow and laughed at in Tehran.

Friday Night Videos

October 2nd, 2015 - 10:10 pm

You might have seen that Telegraph story from a week or two ago, detailing how Keith Richards “became everybody’s favourite Rolling Stone.”

I read the story, but there was really no need to — I know exactly when Keith became my favorite Stone.

Fall of ’88, sophomore year at Mizzou, I picked up his just released solo* album, Talk Is Cheap, on a whim. The album is a solid effort with tons of big names performing on it, including Ivan Neville, Steve Jordan, Mick Taylor, Bootsy Collins, Patti Scialfa, and more.

I got hooked by the opening of the first track, “Big Enough,” just as soon as I’d pressed play on the cassette deck. That funk-reggae-rock sound — not sure I’d ever heard anything like it before, and it was good. Halfway through the song I might have paused just long enough to wonder, “Mick who?”

“Big Enough” has more hooks in it than a Bass Pro Shop, and it maybe never sounded better than when Keith and the X-Pensive Winos played it live on the album’s promotional tour — and so that’s what you’re getting tonight.

P.S. Charlie Watts is also a perfectly acceptable choice for your favorite Stone.

Thought for the Day

October 2nd, 2015 - 4:47 pm

Russia Hits ISIS

October 2nd, 2015 - 1:36 pm
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Pentagon officials urged the Russian military on Thursday to focus its airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State fighters rather than opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. administration officials said. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Pentagon officials urged the Russian military on Thursday to focus its airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State fighters rather than opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. administration officials said. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

At least that’s the claim after Russian warplanes hit Raqqa yesterday:

The strikes were carried out against an Islamic State training camp and a command post near the city of Raqqa, expanding the scope of a three-day old air campaign that had previously focused on attacking rebel groups opposed to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Defense Ministry official spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Raqqa strikes took place overnight Thursday and were among 18 sorties conducted over the previous 24 hours, bringing to 30 the total number of raids since Moscow launched its air campaign in Syria Wednesday.

While I remain dubious (to say the least) about Russia’s intentions, it’s impossible to argue with hitting ISIS, and hitting ISIS hard.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 2nd, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Ed Morrissey took note of Hillary’s retreat from her previous support for ♡bamaCare!!!’s “Cadillac tax,” and says that’s just the beginning of a “long torturous retreat” for Democrats from the Totally Settled Law of the Land™.


Delaware announced approval for premium hikes of 22.4 percent, while AIS’ Health Business Daily reported last week to its subscribers on a long list of approvals by states for double-digit premium increases.

The list includes key swing states such as Florida (16.2 percent for UnitedHealth, 13.9 percent for Aetna), Iowa (19.8 percent for an Aetna subsidiary), and Michigan (average increase of 11.4 percent across all 14 plans). The Street’s Brian O’Connell reported that insurers “are just now starting to get a firm grip on costs,” which has been complicated by “the underlying growth in health care costs,” and premiums may rise again by as much as 40 percent in some states.

Remember when President Obama promised that Obamacare would “bend the cost curve downward,” and that the exchanges would broaden consumer choice? Instead, consumers have seen premiums repeatedly skyrocket, and choices for less expensive coverage evaporate. AIS notes that Blue Cross Blue Shield will pull out of New Mexico, cutting 35,000 individual-market customers after losing over $19 million in 2015.

Related: Obamacare—Still Failing and Picking Your Pocket

Why? The company was denied an application for a 51.6 percent average increase for its plans. Other insurers have shut down operations in state exchanges as well, or blinked out of existence altogether. O’Connell also points out that Obamacare has resulted in a series of mergers among insurers, noting, “Less competition means higher prices.”

So it’s really no surprise to see Democrats backing away from Obamacare.

That Means It’s Working™

First VW, Now… Samsung?

October 2nd, 2015 - 11:16 am
Smarter than your average eco-regulator? (Shutterstock image)

Smarter than your average eco-regulator?
(Shutterstock image)


Independent lab tests have found that some Samsung TVs in Europe appear to use less energy during official testing conditions than they do during real-world use, raising questions about whether they are set up to game energy efficiency tests.

The European commission says it will investigate any allegations of cheating the tests and has pledged to tighten energy efficiency regulations to outlaw the use of so-called “defeat devices” in TVs or other consumer products, after several EU states raised similar concerns.

The apparent discrepancy between real-world and test performance of the TVs is reminiscent of the VW scandal that originated in the US last week.

If First World governments weren’t on a crusade to impoverish the middle class by making everything conform* to ridiculous energy requirements while also making energy impossibly expensive, then this wouldn’t be a problem.

News You Can Use

October 2nd, 2015 - 10:35 am

Differently abled,” my left foot:

A North Carolina woman says she is happier than ever after she fulfilled her lifelong wish of becoming blind.

Jewel Shuping, 30, has Body Integrity Identity Disorder, according to Barcroft TV.

BIID is a condition in which able-bodied people believe they are meant to be disabled.

“By the time I was six I remember that thinking about being blind made me feel comfortable,” she said.

Shuping says that when she was a teenager, she started wearing thick black sunglasses, and even got her first cane when she was 18.

By the age of 20, Shuping says she was fluent in braille.

“I was ‘blind-simming’, which is pretending to be blind, but the idea kept coming up in my head and by the time I was 21 it was a non-stop alarm that was going off,” she told Barcroft TV.

Her need to lose her sight increased as she got older, and by 2006, she claims she found a psychologist who was willing to help her.

Shuping says the psychologist put numbing eye drops into her eyes, and then a couple of drops of drain cleaner.

“It hurt, let me tell you. My eyes were screaming and I had some drain cleaner going down my cheek burning my skin,” she said. “But all I could think was ‘I am going blind, it is going to be okay.”

Can you imagine permanently disfiguring yourself in order to feel okay?

Required Reading

October 2nd, 2015 - 9:11 am

Meet Shin Dong-hyuk, who survived 24 years in one of North Korea’s “total control zone” death camps — and is the only known escapee:

He said: “There was a room, a chamber type. It’s like a cell within the prison camp where these tortures take place.

“When I first entered it. I immediately felt that the atmosphere itself was terrifying.

“When I was brought in, without saying a word the proceeded to tie my ankles and wrists together and hung me from above.”

Showing shocking burn marks on his back, he spoke of how he was placed over a charcoal fire until he ‘smelled his skin burning’.

He said: “As the fire started rising up toward my back, I could feel that it was scorching hot and I could even smell my own flesh burning.

“I begged for my life to be spared but it was completely useless. It was just so hot and I kept squirming.”

Shin was born in a North Korean prison in 1982 and made a daring escape in 2005.

His crime was being born in a concentration camp.

Read the whole thing — and give due consideration to a liquid lunch immediately after.

Christian Killing Spree

October 2nd, 2015 - 8:08 am

Yesterday’s shooting in Oregon was even worse than I could have imagined:

A gunman singled out Christians, telling them they would see God in “one second,” during a rampage at an Oregon college Thursday that left at least nine innocent people dead and several more wounded, survivors and authorities said.

“[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., told CNN.

A twitter user named @bodhilooney,” who said her grandmother was at the scene of the carnage, tweeted that if victims said they were Christian “then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs.”

Overall, violent crime continues it’s long, slow decline — including mass shootings like this one. What is it that drives our modern psychopaths to seek their wretched glory by singling out specific groups for mass murder?

Sign “O” the Times

October 2nd, 2015 - 7:15 am

Whatever life had finally been breathed into the jobs market by years and years of free money seems to have died:

U.S. hiring slowed sharply in September, and job gains for July and August were lower than previously thought, a sour note for a labor market that had been steadily improving.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added just 142,000 jobs in September, depressed by job cuts by manufacturers and oil drillers. The unemployment rate remained 5.1 percent, but only because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.

All told, the proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one fell to a 38-year low.

It’s easy to joke about the downward revisions — lord knows I’ve made more than my share — but try and keep one thing in mind. Every single one of those imaginary jobs represents a fellow American who couldn’t find work, but whose imaginary employment was abused to show how well Obamanomics is “working.”

And each drop in the participation rate (can you remember even one month that it’s gone up since the recovery began?) represents thousands of your fellow Americans who have simply given up, possibly never to find, or even hope to find work again.

That’s the truth about Obama’s recovery.

A War for Oil — And So Much More

October 2nd, 2015 - 6:31 am
This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)

This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)

This morning’s column is a follow-on piece to yesterday’s, partly in response to criticism (some fair, some not) down in the comments. Many readers wondered why we should be bothered that Putin is killing jihadis and defending Syria, which has been a Russian ally for decades. I’ll get to why that’s going to haunt us in the second half of this column.

The first half is in response to New York University’s Burdin Hickok, and his belief that Putin’s War in Syria is all about oil. It is about oil, but only in part. So let’s go to Hickok for that angle:

With Russia and allied Iran increasing their presence throughout the Middle East, ostensibly to combat ISIS, Saudi Arabia stands with a large target on its back. Iran has been recognized by the Saudi leadership as an existential threat. Saudi Arabia’s principle tool to counter Iran adventurism has been increasing oil production, which pressures the price of oil and keeps the Iranian economy weak.

Iran, of course, has not been the only player hurt by lower oil prices. The Russian economy has been hammered by the one-two punch of sanctions imposed from their involvement in Ukraine and the drop in oil prices.

Now with Russia’s growing presence in Syria, a partnership with Iran and a retreating U.S., Saudi Arabia is faced with a new and unfriendly world. Without confidence that the U.S. will have its back, Saudi Arabia may feel compelled to bend to Russia and Iran’s inevitable pressure to reduce oil production. And this will lead to greater pressure for all OPEC countries to reduce production and support higher prices.

There’s more to it than just oil.

Israel’s ability to defend itself against Hamas is hampered by Russia’s growing presence in Syria, and her ability to strike at Iran’s nascent nuclear program is similarly contained by Russian overtures towards Iraq. If Saudi Arabia is forced to acquiesce to the Russo-Iranian Axis then Egypt, dependent on Saudi munificence to stay fed, will follow suit.

Israel would then be boxed in like at no time since before 1967′s Six-Day War — only this time with Russian troops right next door and a nuclear-armed Iran to contend with as well.

For Iran and Russia, this might be “merely” a war for economic advantage. But Israel’s very existence is threatened like never before.

Then there’s the threat to us.

While Obama was overcommitted to the wrongheaded “right war” in Afghanistan, Putin and Khamenei were preparing a much bigger play for the heart of the Arab Middle East — which will be pointed like a dagger, not just at Israel, but at the entire Western world.

Let me explain.

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