Friday Night Videos

October 9th, 2015 - 10:41 pm

Quite by accident the other day I noticed that The Cars’ Heartbeat City was missing from my collection. The album’s three hit singles were in there, but somehow I’d never managed to buy a CD to replace my long-ago worn-out cassette.

Before clicking over to Amazon to correct that egregious oversight, I pulled up the band on Wikipedia to see what they’d been up to the last 20 or 25 years, and was saddened to learn that bassist Benjamin Orr had died of pancreatic cancer back in 2000. The surviving members got back together a few years ago to record their first new album since 1987, Move Like This. I’ve only previewed a few tracks on iTunes, but The Cars still sound like The Cars — this album has a very Summer of ’78 vibe, without sounding dated.

Well, at least it doesn’t sound dated to my aging ears.

Heartbeat City is still, I believe, their bestselling album, although I was a little surprised to learn that their bestselling single was “Drive,” which is far more languid that almost anything else they recorded. It’s a great tune, but very much in a One of These Things Is Not Like the Other kinda way.

But forget all that! What really made me feel old, reading old news about one of my favorite old bands, is that tonight’s cut, “You Might Think” was MTV’s very first Video of the Year, way back in 1984. Back then, in my sophomore year of high school, Video of the Year was a new and important thing.

Does anyone still honestly care about videos anymore? I think the reason we cared then was something more than just the novelty of promotional videos for popular music. What grabbed us back then is that almost all of these things were shot using absurdly primitive tech on absurdly small budgets. Those limitations — just like practical effects versus CGI — forced the bands and studios to heights of creativity we’d never seen before in short-format TV.

And you know what? Despite the primitive video effects, “You Might Think” is still one entertaining little video.

I had a crush on model Susan Gallagher back then, and watching this now — heh, I still do. She’s an absolute doll, and a great sport for taking on such a goofy job.


Thought for the Day

October 9th, 2015 - 4:49 pm

This doesn’t seem at all creepy:

The wireless carrier announced the shift via an update on its website, according to The Verge. Unlike most cookies, which originate from an individual site or group of sites, Verizon’s identifier tracks subscribers as they move around the Internet for the sake of the company’s Relevant Mobile Advertising and Verizon Selects ad programs.

The AOL Advertising Network has a presence on some 40 percent of websites, and affiliated parties could potentially build more detailed profiles of Verizon customers as a result. The carrier bought AOL in May.

Although Verizon subscribers can opt out of the supercookie, it’s enabled by default and can potentially allow various parties to follow users around the Internet, including not just advertisers but savvy hackers and government agencies. The U.S. National Security Agency is known to use cookies from companies like Google to monitor people it wants to investigate.

You may opt out here.

The War on Shale

October 9th, 2015 - 12:29 pm
In this Sept. 17, 2015 photo, Part of the 4L RV Ranch is mostly empty, in Gonzales, Texas. To see what’s at stake for Texas in a shrinking oil economy, one need look no further than Gonzales, 65 miles south of Austin and in the central portion of the Eagle Ford Shale area, which stretches roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long in a sweep across what were once some of South Texas’ poorest counties. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

In this Sept. 17, 2015 photo, Part of the 4L RV Ranch is mostly empty, in Gonzales, Texas. To see what’s at stake for Texas in a shrinking oil economy, one need look no further than Gonzales, 65 miles south of Austin and in the central portion of the Eagle Ford Shale area, which stretches roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long in a sweep across what were once some of South Texas’ poorest counties. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

I’m only posting this in order to explain why not to worry about it:

To their credit, shale drillers and operators in Texas and North Dakota have hung on for far longer than anyone expected after Opec launched its pre-emptive oil price war last November. However, a year of oil prices trading at an average of around $50 per barrel is finally succeeding in reversing the dramatic increases in US production that had been so troubling the Gulf’s oil-rich sheikhs.

Total US output has fallen by almost 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) since the end of the first quarter, with the biggest declines occurring recently as operators begin to crack under the financial pressure caused by Opec’s squeeze on prices. By next year, the US government expects output to decline to an average of 8.6m bpd, down from an average of 9.3m bpd in 2015.

It was only a couple of years ago that $70 crude was going to put US shale out of business, but our frackers are so damn good that they’ve brought their breakeven price down by nearly a third in a remarkably short period of time. Yes, there’s still a floor under fracking production, but more importantly the ceiling on Saudi prices is that much lower. Every time the Saudis try and raise prices above that ceiling, another Texas or North Dakota shale field will come back into production.

And the other thing to remember is that our shale isn’t going anywhere — it will just sit there underground, as our frackers wait for better market conditions or improved fracking techniques.

The Saudis can’t wait us out; they can only learn to make do with less.

You Stay Classy, Esquire

October 9th, 2015 - 11:28 am


I’m old enough to remember when Esquire represented the epitome of classy masculinity.

Just kidding — not even I’m that old.

Required Reading

October 9th, 2015 - 10:10 am

Kevin Williamson explains why we’ll always have income inequality, and what happens when government tries to say otherwise:

The textbook American case of this happened when President Franklin “The Hyde Park Hammer” Roosevelt decided he was so smart that he knew what every American should be paid and what everything should cost, which he decided to enforce under color of law through federal controls on wages and prices. The Hammer actually wasn’t half as clever as he thought he was, and when he started threatening to throw newspaper editors in jail for giving their staffers raises, people kind of looked askance, and businesses started giving their best employees raises without giving them raises: company health insurance, the company car, the other “fringe benefits.” (When I was little, I thought this was “French benefits,” which turn out to be a lot more generous in reality and come with really good coffee.) This is, incidentally, why you are in the situation of getting your health insurance through your employer, whose incentives on that matter are very different from yours. (See cost-shifting, above.) The people with lots of market power, because their products or labor were more highly valued on the underlying hierarchy of real values, got paid more. It’s just that we had to waste a lot of resources figuring out a way to pay them more while creating an enormously destructive and deeply stupid health-insurance system, which we’re still trying to sort out.

Read the whole thing.

Ain’t No Crime

October 9th, 2015 - 8:45 am


So much wrong in one little story:

A South Carolina man called 911 early this morning to complain that his girlfriend would not have sex with him, according to an arrest report.

When a cop responded to his Spartanburg residence, Patrick Doggett, 53, “stated he called 911 because his girlfriend, Ms. Faye Woodruff, would not give him any ass.”

Woodruff told police that Doggett had been drinking all day and “didn’t know where he was at.” She added that Doggett got into bed and wanted to have sex, but “she had her grandchild with her.”

So, Woodruff noted, Doggett “got up and then dialed 911.”

Doggett was arrested for public intoxication, but if you ask me the officers should have shown more mercy. If getting drunk because you aren’t getting any was a crime, I’d have spent half of the ’80s in prison.

Pakistan: Too Big to Fail

October 9th, 2015 - 7:50 am

Kevin Hulbert reports:

Today, Pakistan finds itself in a very complicated security situation where there is little differentiation among radical groups. Terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, are suddenly allied with al-Qaeda, while Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Pakistan Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, and other assorted miscreants and non-state actors are intent on bringing down the elected government of Pakistan. While the Pakistan government dithered, the militancy in the country took firm hold.

But, aside from the very compelling terrorism issue, there is also an overlay of a troublesome and rapidly growing Pakistani nuclear program along with an unusual problem: Pakistan is not a rogue state that might go nuclear, but rather a nuclear state that might go rogue. Such a situation presents an almost endless stream of nightmare scenarios for U.S. policymakers.

Pakistan also has one of the highest birthrates in the world and a population paradigm that is exploding with young people entering the workforce. Into this maelstrom, there is a corrupt, faltering, and virtually bankrupt economy that, for the last 13 years, has limped by, largely financed by the hat trick of IMF “loans,” U.S. coalition support funds, and U.S. foreign aid. There is little hope for millions of young men entering the workforce every year.

I can’t think of a single instance where the United States, the West, the UN or any other organization has managed to rescue a failed state, or to prevent a deteriorating state from failing — certainly not one as large and as populous as Pakistan.

We need to have some serious (and needless to say, extremely quiet) talks with India on how to deal with Pakistan’s nukes if and when the worst comes to pass.

The Truth About Germany’s Muslim Refugees

October 9th, 2015 - 6:40 am
Migrants and refugees crowd in a line as they wait for their registration at central registration center for refugees and asylum seekers LaGeSo (Landesamt fuer Gesundheit und Soziales - State Office for Health and Social Affairs) in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Migrants and refugees crowd in a line as they wait for their registration at central registration center for refugees and asylum seekers LaGeSo (Landesamt fuer Gesundheit und Soziales – State Office for Health and Social Affairs) in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Good lord:

A Czech doctor, who works in a German hospital, is so disgusted and overwhelmed with the Muslim migrant invaders that she is threatening to leave the country and go back home to the Czech Republic. She explains, via an email letter (because the press is forbidden from reporting on this), how horrific the conditions are in these hospitals, with the Muslim invaders bringing diseases they weren’t even prepared to treat. But that’s just part of it. The superior attitudes of these Muslims and their belief that they should get everything for free is wreaking havoc everywhere, from the hospitals to the pharmacies.

The Right Scoop has the video, along with a quick & dirty transcription for you.

But you might want to hold off until well after breakfast.

The Inmates Really Are Running the Asylum

October 9th, 2015 - 5:14 am

What you are about to read is not a parody news item, it is in fact a real story written by Tim Mak & Nancy Youssef — two genuine journalists whom this blogger trusts for real news items about things which really happened.


The Russian airstrikes on Syria are a sign that U.S. policy is working, a senior State Department official told shocked Syrian-American advocates in a private meeting on Monday.

The “Russians wouldn’t have to help Assad if we didn’t weaken him,” U.S. special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said, according to multiple participants in the meeting and contemporaneous notes. Russian intervention, he went on to say, is a sign of success for American policy on Syria.

The special envoy’s remarks come even as Russia began launching long-range cruise missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea. It’s a move that Pentagon officials called an attempt to both emasculate the United States and support the Assad regime.

“This is Russia demonstrating on a global stage that it has a lot of reach,” one U.S. defense official explained. “And we are not responding.”

Rainey isn’t incompetent. He isn’t an amateur. He isn’t even out of his depth.

He’s delusional.

Thought for the Day

October 8th, 2015 - 4:53 pm

Introducing Speaker Nobody

October 8th, 2015 - 1:28 pm


Ryan really doesn’t want the job, but it’s got to be hard to tell the outgoing Speaker no — especially given the chaos on the Hill.

[Original post below]

(Image courtesy Chuck Barris Productions)

(Image courtesy Chuck Barris Productions)

Guy Benson explains the Republicans’ dilemma:

It’s a common refrain these days, but its undeniable truth bears repeating: Given the unchanged political dynamics within the fractured GOP caucus, who would want this job right now? The next Speaker will inevitably endure harsh criticism a relatively small group of dissatisfied conservatives, who often seem long on complaints but short on workable strategies. This faction’s intransigence has hamstrung party leaders repeatedly over the last five years; they’ve now collected two prized “establishment” scalps, yet appear to have no viable alternative in mind. The next Speaker will answer to dozens of moderate-leaning members intent on retaining swing district seats won over back-to-back midterm landslides. The next Speaker will also contend with an entrenched, very liberal, very disciplined Democratic minority — on whom he or she may occasionally be forced to rely for votes, thanks to the “hell no” hard-right flank’s tactics. (This phenomenon, incidentally, affords Democrats much more leverage than they’d otherwise have, allowing them to extract policy concessions as a price for their cooperation, making legislation less conservative). And the next Speaker will have to navigate all of these perilous crosscurrents with a string of unpleasant deadlines looming.

I still say give it to Trump.

STUDY: More Sex Can Make You Pregnant

October 8th, 2015 - 12:28 pm
Taking a chance on love. (Shutterstock photo)

Taking a chance on love.
(Shutterstock photo)

Having more sex increases the odds of getting pregnant, according to “breakthrough” research conducted by Indiana University:

Women’s bodies respond to regular sexual activity by their immune system releasing more “Type 2 helper T cells” and immunoglobulins, or antibodies, as a preparation ahead of a possible pregnancy.

This means that having more sex results in a different kind of immune system for women, and one which makes them more fertile and likely to fall pregnant.

Tierney Lorenz, the lead author of the report and a visiting research scientist at the Kinsey Institute in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, said in a press release that the research was a breakthrough.

Studies, what would we do without them?

Sign “O” the Times

October 8th, 2015 - 11:50 am

Chart of Doom

Welcome to the Great US Debt Selloff of 2015:

Central banks around the world are selling U.S. government bonds at the fastest pace on record, the most dramatic shift in the $12.8 trillion Treasury market since the financial crisis.

Sales by China, Russia, Brazil and Taiwan are the latest sign of an emerging-markets slowdown that is threatening to spill over into the U.S. economy. Previously, all four were large purchasers of U.S. debt.

But fear not! There are still plenty of buyers for all that debt:

While central banks have been selling, a large swath of other buyers has stepped in, including U.S. and foreign firms. That buying, driven in large part by worries about the world’s economic outlook, has helped keep bond yields at low levels from a historical standpoint.

It’s cool. Central banks can’t run out of other people’s money.

McCarthy Is Out for Speaker

October 8th, 2015 - 10:37 am

Did not see this coming:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has pulled out of the race for House Speaker, NBC News confirmed Thursday.

The California Republican had been considered the frontrunner to replace John Boehner after he surprisingly announced his resignation late last month.

Best guess is that McCarthy is trying to avoid a civil war on Capitol Hill — same as Boehner.

Good on both men. Now let’s see if we can get a better one as speaker.

UPDATE, via Jeff B.

I missed this one yesterday:

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) wants to avoid the possibility of a member of the new House GOP leadership resigning from office because of a scandal.

In a letter to House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Jones asked that Republicans discuss urging candidates for leadership to drop out if they might one day embarrass the party because of past indiscretions.

“With all the voter distrust of Washington felt around the country, I’m asking that any candidate for Speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican Conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public,” Jones wrote.

I take it back — the Civil War on Capitol Hill may be on already.

All 8,400 Pictures Taken by Apollo Astronauts

October 8th, 2015 - 9:46 am


They’re all on Flickr, every single one.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 8th, 2015 - 8:07 am

Sucks to be you, Hawaii:

HONOLULU (AP) – The state has approved rate hikes for members of Kaiser and the Hawaii Medical Service Association under Affordable Care Act plans.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that members of HMSA, the state’s largest health insurer, will see a 27 percent increase in rates, and Kaiser members will see a 34 percent increase starting next year.

That Means It’s Working™

Can PA Come Out to Play?

October 8th, 2015 - 7:21 am
(Chart courtesy Quinnipiac/RealClearPolitics)

(Chart courtesy Quinnipiac/RealClearPolitics)

Quinnipiac published some their first head-to-head matchup numbers in the vital swing states of Florida, Ohio, and… Pennsylvania?

Blue Pennsylvania? The GOP’s will-o-the-wisp for almost 30 years?

That Pennsylvania?

Yes. Pennsylvania.

Note that Hillary Clinton loses to everybody but Trump. Rubio is the next-weakest GOP contender, and yet even he beats Clinton by better than the margin of cheating.

Biden on the other hand — and this really makes you wonder about the timing of the poll — beats everybody except Carson.

And it feels like rubbing it in to mention this, but even Bernie Sanders beats Trump. And he does so by a wider margin than Clinton does.

If PA is in play, it’s difficult to see the Democrats taking OH or FL — FL especially if there’s a Bush or a Rubio on the ticket. In that scenario, MN and WI might even be up for grabs, and Harry Reid’s NV machine doesn’t seem to be what it once was.

I’d like to see the RNC start hitting the PA burbs soon, and hitting them hard.

Straight Outta Vilnius

October 8th, 2015 - 6:30 am

Vytautas Landsbergis, “the patriarch of Lithuanian politics,” sat down for an interview on Russia, NATO, and recent attempts by Russian planes to ensnare Turkey in the Syrian Civil War:

Why does Russia want one more party in the Syrian conflict?

Today’s Russia and its leadership need as much tension as possible everywhere. They exploit it to win influence. They use threats, because it’s very effective. Read: you must talk with us because we are unpredictable. And “with us” means “by our rules”. That’s the goal of the Kremlin’s masters.

The Turkish president has said his country will not remain an idle observer, that Russia’s actions against Turkey are actions against NATO. What kind of response should we expect from Turkey? What do you think Turkey should do?

The most straightforward response from Turkey would be this: Make sure there’s no bad weather, because next time your plane might not return. Or if you get lost, make sure you’re ten kilometres away from the Turkish border, because if you do, the plane might not return. This would be serious talk, whereas now there are just laments and promises to talk. Putin laughs at this. He uses a simple formula: they talk, I act.

Then there’s this:

What do you think about US President Barack Obama’s policy and position in the situation? What is it down to?

I think it is down to his weak character and the weakness of his team. Barack Obama sometimes makes very strict statements, but there are no strict actions. He has vetoed initiatives to rearm Ukraine, since he knows that Moscow will be very upset by it. There are probably people counting days until the US presidential election, thinking what more Moscow could win until then.

My only quibble is with the word “probably.”

Re-Back to the Future II

October 8th, 2015 - 5:32 am

Thought for the Day

October 7th, 2015 - 4:16 pm

Honor Killing in Germany

October 7th, 2015 - 1:24 pm

Here’s how Germany is being thanked for welcoming in Arab migrants:

A rape victim branded “unclean” by her family after the assault in her native Syria has been murdered in Germany amid claims her mother ordered the honour killing.

The woman, named only as Rokstan M, was found buried in a shallow grave in an allotment in the eastern German city of Dessau after being stabbed to death.

Police believe the 20-year-old was murdered by her father and brothers, who thought she had brought shame on their family through the sex attack by three men.

And Rokstan’s former employer, author Mark Krüger, has claimed the young woman’s mother was behind the slaying, ordering the men to carry out the murder.

The eventual backlash might prove just as ugly.

Hillary’s IT Provider Smelled a Coverup

October 7th, 2015 - 12:15 pm
"Shady, like a nice porch or something?"

“Shady, like a nice porch or something?”

Seems legit:

“This whole thing really is covering up some shady s–t,” the employee said in an Aug. 19 company email obtained by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The concerns by the Colorado-based Platte River Networks employee were aired after the Clinton camp ordered a reduction in the data stored during each server backup.

The limits were ordered after the State Department contacted the former secretary of state in summer 2014 to inquire about her private email records.
In October, the department sent a formal request to turn over documents.

The employee was so suspicious that he sent an ­email to a colleague asking for a copy of the email from Clinton Executive Service Corp. to document “their directive” to limit the number of emails stored.

Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Don’t Do Stupid S*** Revisited

October 7th, 2015 - 11:03 am
Afghan security forces inspect the site of a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. The new leader of the Afghan Taliban says their capture of the northern city of Kunduz was a "symbolic victory" that showed the strength of the insurgency — even though the Taliban pulled out of the city after three days. (AP Photo)

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. The new leader of the Afghan Taliban says their capture of the northern city of Kunduz was a “symbolic victory” that showed the strength of the insurgency — even though the Taliban pulled out of the city after three days. (AP Photo)

Heavy fighting continues in Kunduz, despite assurances from the Pentagon and Kabul that the city had been retaken by forces loyal to the Afghan central government:

The reports from Kunduz contradicted testimony by the American military commander, Gen. John F. Campbell, before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on Tuesday. He told the panel that most of the city had been retaken from the Taliban, and that the continued fighting had been relegated to isolated pockets in the city as the insurgents “for the most part melted away, left the city.”

Public assessments issued by Afghan leaders on Tuesday mostly lined up with General Campbell’s portrayal. “The enemy was pushed out of the city yesterday, the Afghan security forces, especially the Afghan National Army, recaptured the city yesterday,” said Lt. Gen. Afzal Aman, director of operations for the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

But the accounts of many Kunduz residents on Tuesday greatly differed, as did details from senior Afghan military officers who spoke off the record because they did not want to publicly contradict government spokesmen who were also claiming improvement in the city.

Read the whole thing — which is redolent of Vietnam in all the worst ways.

It was possible to make sense of the Bush Administration’s policy in Afghanistan. We maintained enough of a presence to “mow the lawn” as necessary, to keep the terror/Taliban presence at a manageable level. That there was no endgame for the Bush policy gave Senator Barack Obama the opportunity to declare that Afghanistan was “the right war,” and that as President he’d fight it to its conclusion.

Once in office, Obama put into place a surge which hardly surged at all — the buildup was too slow to have the same psychological effects as Bush’s Iraq surge. Making thing worse, as noted here years ago, Obama’s surge came with an expiration date, allowing the Taliban to decide the tempo of battle, knowing just how much punishment they could take before the inevitable drawdown began.

Once the buildup was complete, the Obama strategy was typically Obama — nuanced in the extreme. As Richard Fernandez noted this morning:

David Ignatius, writing in Real Clear Politics, provides a glimpse into the kind of template the Obama administration regards as a solution. He describes Washington’s efforts to create in Afghanistan and South Asia a stable division of spoils where power, influence and money are shared to the satisfaction of all. Then with everyone bought off, peace will return.

Peace has hardly returned to Kunduz — in the north of Afghanistan, where the Taliban were never strong, not even during their 1990s heyday. That there is real fighting going on there shows the futility of trying to “divide the spoils” with religious fanatics. That the Pentagon is in official denial shows how thoroughly politicized the military has again become.

Bush knew how to keep the fighting in Afghanistan at a manageable level, but not how or when to get us out. Obama never wanted anything but out, but failed to get anything for the additional blood and treasure he sacrificed there.

Re-Back to the Future

October 7th, 2015 - 10:15 am

Here’s William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, wanting you to know that unlike Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter could learn on the job:

Over the years, Mr. Carter’s name has become a synonym for American weakness abroad and decline at home, the former represented by the Iranian hostage crisis that plagued him until his last moments in office, and the latter by an economy that introduced American working families to words such as “stagflation.” Not until Ronald Reagan succeeded Mr. Carter did Americans see policies that would unleash the U.S. economy and eventually bring down the Berlin Wall.

Even so, there’s a serious point in Mr. Bolton’s quip. Mr. Carter may indeed be the gold standard for fecklessness and malaise. But toward the end of his tenure, President Carter proved himself capable of something that still eludes President Obama: a willingness to learn from mistakes and reconsider options.

And here’s your friendly neighborhood VodkaPundit, wanting you to know that unlike Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter could learn on the job:

Carter, for all his silly notions, learned on the job and came up with some decent policies — eventually.

Jimmuh was dealt an extremely weak hand on national defense, probably the weakest in the post-war era. The armed forces — especially the Army — were making the slow and painful transition to an all-volunteer force. Drugs were still a problem, and a sense of defeat still hung in the air after Vietnam. Public trust in the armed forces was at an all-time low. Carter couldn’t have engaged in any successful saber-rattling with the Soviets, even had he been inclined to. Instead, Carter made human rights the cornerstone of America’s foreign policy, setting the stage for Reagan’s “evil empire” speech. It was a weak policy, yes — but the best he could do given a weak hand. And when the invasion of Afghanistan made Soviet expansionism became too much to bear, Carter changed course. The defense buildup under Reagan really began under Carter.

Faced with inflation, Carter appointed inflation hawk Paul Volcker to head the Fed. Reagan kept him on for a second term. Faced with a weak economy, Carter undid New Deal transportation cartels. The man could and did learn on the job.

Which brings us to President Barack Obama.

The biggest difference between our two columns is that I wrote mine over four years ago.

Advantage: VodkaPundit.

ISIS Using Chemical Artillery Shells

October 7th, 2015 - 8:12 am

The New York Times has the story of a family in Marea, Syria, whose home was shelled in an ISIS attack:

Struck from afar by a blister-agent shell, the family would suffer from an agonizing form of violence that since the 1990s, when the Convention on Chemical Weapons took force in much of the world, had seemed to fade into the past, only to be revived by the Islamic State.

Since the spring, the group has used two types of chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria multiple times, according to international arms analysts, victims, local activists and Western officials, joining Syria’s government as a party in the conflict that has used chemical weapons.

The weapons have included improvised bombs containing chlorine, a toxic industrial chemical that Sunni militants in Iraq have crudely weaponized in vehicle and roadside bombs for roughly a decade, and artillery or mortar projectiles containing a blister agent that appeared this summer after being fired from Islamic State battlefield positions.

These projectiles have delivered sulfur mustard, an internationally banned chemical warfare agent, according to American officials familiar with the analysis of soil samples, ordnance and victims’ clothing collected after several attacks. Two American officials said items analyzed from the Aug. 21 attack on Marea were among those that confirmed the agent’s use.

It might be fairly argued that President Bush took the threat of chemical weapons too seriously. But it’s for damn sure that President Obama doesn’t take the threat seriously at all.

Good news, but with a caveat we’ll get to in a moment:

The Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prison as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and ’90s, according to federal law enforcement officials.

The release is scheduled to occur from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, and will be one of the largest one-time discharges of inmates from federal prisons in American history, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing matters that had not been publicly announced by the Justice Department.

Mandatory minimums for non-violent offenders was never a good idea. However they were probably inevitable given the (somewhat understandable) anti-drug hysteria of the ’80s and ’90s.


It’s been noted many times before that prison is where petty criminals go to receive their education on how to become truly violent offenders. Someone might have gone in a non-violent offender in 1995, but maybe by 2015 they’re no longer quite so non-violent.

So we can only hope that Justice is vetting carefully.

The Guns of July

October 7th, 2015 - 6:24 am
The man with the plan. (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader, File)

The man with the plan.
(AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader, File)

Reuters tells the story of how the Russo-Iranian War for Syria began at a secret meeting in Moscow last July:

Major General Qassem Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian-Russian alliance in support of Assad.

As Russian warplanes bomb rebels from above, the arrival of Iranian special forces for ground operations underscores several months of planning between Assad’s two most important allies, driven by panic at rapid insurgent gains.

Soleimani is the commander of the Quds Force, the elite extra-territorial special forces arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and reports directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Senior regional sources say he has already been overseeing ground operations against insurgents in Syria and is now at the heart of planning for the new Russian- and Iranian-backed offensive.

Vladimir Putin once flattened Grozny — a major city in his own country — to stamp out a rebellion there. During the Iran-Iraq War, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were known to force-march kids across minefields in order to clear them.

Between the two of them, Putin and Soleimani certainly have enough ruthless cunning to save Assad.

Business Profile: Lex Luthor

October 7th, 2015 - 5:08 am
If you think he seems insecure now, wait until he loses his hair. (Image courtesy DC Entertainment)

If you think he seems insecure now, wait until he loses his hair.
(Image courtesy DC Entertainment)

Of all the things I expected to see today, a serious-sounding profile of Superman archnemesis Lex Luthor wasn’t even a fraction of one of them.


Alexander Joseph Luthor Jr. is a 31-year-old wunderkind who transformed an aging petrochemical and heavy machinery dinosaur into a tech darling of the Fortune 500 in what some call a superhuman feat.

This jeans-wearing genius is equally at ease rappelling the climbing wall in his employee “inspiration station” and coding in “the crucible”: the cutting-edge R & D lab where the baby-faced billionaire verbally extemporizes computer code like Miles Davis improvising a trumpet solo.

As we patiently wait our turn at the complimentary LexCorp vegan food truck (this day’s fare: pesto-olive pizza with raw almond crust), the son of Alexander Luthor Sr. — Lex Luthor — explains the evolution of LexCorp.

“Dad named the company after himself ten years before I made my unexpected entrance into his life. But investors seemed to respond to the idea of an adoring father building a legacy for his precious son. He used that to his advantage. It was a good shtick and, whatever else he was, he was a good businessman,” the younger Luthor explains.

Read the whole thing — it’s quite charming.

But please take note that the Big Bad of next year’s Batman vs Superman movie, the evil genius behind so many nefarious plots, has been retconned into a pretentious postmodern hipster — using somebody else’s fortune in his quest to destroy the man who represents “truth, justice, and the American way.”

I’m starting to get my hopes up for this movie.