VodkaPundit

VodkaPundit

Friday Night Videos

September 4th, 2015 - 10:11 pm

The Summer of Covers concludes.

This has been too much fun — and yet we’ve barely scratched the surface. So consider this a promise to do this again in a summer or two from now.

Until then, let’s finish up the Summer of Covers ’15 with a philosophical question: Can an artist cover their own song?

I don’t mean whether an artist can record the same song in a new style — Sinatra did that kind of thing all the time, often with tremendous results. Asking me to choose between my favorite version of “I Get A Kick Out Of You” or of “Last Night When We Were Young” is like asking me to choose my favorite cocktail — can’t I just have more?

See, the best covers are when an artist takes someone else’s song and does something distinctive with it, something to make it their own. So is it possible for an artist, over the course of years or decades, to grow (or maybe just change) enough, that their new record of their old song is so distinctive that it’s practically by a new artist?

I don’t know.

So let’s use a famous pair of recordings by Joni Mitchell as a test case.

Joni recorded her second studio album, Clouds, as a young woman of 25 or 26. The concluding song was also one of her most famous, “Both Sides, Now,” which she’d written as an even younger woman two years previous.

Here’s her original recording from 1969.

That’s a bright, wistful performance of a bitter lyric about heartbreak, loss, and moving on. But it might be fair to say that it’s sung by a woman who has maybe done or felt these things once or twice before, or who has merely seen her friends do them.

If Joni’s 1969 performance might seem a little too …breezy… for the weight of the material, maybe it’s because everything feels lighter when you’re only 25 years old.

With that in mind, let’s flash forward three decades to Joni’s famous live performance from 2000.

The folksy guitar has given way to strings. The original four-and-a-half minute runtime is stretched to over six minutes in this more recent version. Her voice has lost its wistfulness and gained a smoky, almost husky quality.

And that phrasing — wow, her phrasing. Whatever you might think of Joni Mitchell personally, she knows how to sell a song.

This is not a performance you listen to. This is a performance which sucks you in and makes you hurt.

That’s not a young woman who has suffered or witnessed some heartache. This is a person of age and stature who has had the years pounded into her by the inevitable mistakes and loss of a life lived large.

The early version is a clever young woman who thinks she knows something about being human. The later recording is by a woman who finally understands she’s all too human.

So maybe it is possible for an artist to cover their own song — but maybe they have to go through hell first.

Thought for the Day

September 4th, 2015 - 4:22 pm

Oh, Those Classified Emails

September 4th, 2015 - 1:06 pm

Oy:

Daily Mail political editor David Martosko said on “The Kelly File” that the agency knew that an eastern European man was selling a cache of Hillary Clinton’s private emails.

Martosko explained that the agency believes that the man could have gotten the emails from notorious Romanian hacker Marcel Lazăr Lehel, better known as “Guccifer,” who got the emails by hacking longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal’s email account in 2013.

It seems nearly everybody in the world has read Hillary’s email — except for the American people.

Maybe she can explain again how secure her private bathroom server was.

The Three Anti-Trumps

September 4th, 2015 - 12:12 pm

Your Trifecta stalwarts devote a little extra time, and maybe even a little extra thought, to the immigration crisis in this first segment of another Trifecta Platinum series.

The Fall Guy

September 4th, 2015 - 11:30 am
Not goodbye, but au revoir. (AP photo)

Not goodbye, but au revoir.
(AP photo)

Monica Crowley details the secret war between the Obamas and the Clintons:

The Clintons have never taken a political hit lying down. But given their weak and panicky reactions to Mr. Obama’s current, well-orchestrated hit on her — the FBI investigation into her alleged mishandling of classified material as secretary of state — they have appeared to passively absorb the escalating attack. Until now.

As he presses his attack, Mrs. Clinton has two choices. Option one: fold early and negotiate a mild end to the investigation in exchange for dropping out of the race. But Mr. Obama is not a forgiving sort, and now that he’s drawn blood, he’s likely to go for the kill.

That suggests that the Clintons are going with option two: fight him — as part of an elaborate, unspoken negotiation between them over their secrets and futures. That requires a plausible defense. Their go-to strategy has always been to blame others, or inanimate objects such as documents, servers, “processes” — and to designate a fall guy (or gal) to take the rap.

Crowley posits that Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jacob Sullivan is the prime candidate, since he’s an outsider and the other two candidates, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, are too wired in to take a fall.

While the MSM might be satisfied letting Sullivan rot to protect the Her Evitableness, he’s small beer as far as the Oval Office is concerned. The goal remains Anybody But Clinton for 2016.

Crowley says the war “won’t end until one side is destroyed,” and I’ll just remind you what Kissinger said about the Iran-Iraq War…

It’s a pity they can’t both lose.

News You Can Use

September 4th, 2015 - 10:02 am
(Poster courtesy Columbia Pictures)

(Poster courtesy Columbia Pictures)

I thought I was prepared to handle the inevitable Birds & Bees talk with my sons, but now I have to add another item to the list of dos and don’ts — don’t email naked selfies to prospective employers:

A Chicago area man has lost a job offer after he accidentally sent nude pictures of himself to a manager.

Police say the unnamed man sent two nude photographs between 11-13 August to the human resources manager before phoning her.

The female manager for the unidentified St Charles company received the texts while at home and contacted police.

Police spoke to the man, who admitted to sending the texts, but said that the images were intended for someone else.

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

Required Reading

September 4th, 2015 - 8:35 am
Donald Trump and some other famous person. (AP photo)

Donald Trump and some other famous person.
(AP photo)

Matthew Continetti distills Trumpness to its essence in today’s must-read column:

Trump’s media appearances are devoted to analyses of his latest verbal barrages against Mexicans, John McCain, Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly, and whomever he’s attacking as you read this. The media are far more interested in Trump’s response to another candidate’s response to something Trump said than in, for example, his support for single-payer health care. He drowns out every other candidate, every other subject. As I write, the economy isn’t the biggest issue of 2016. Trump is.

“Hillary Clinton is truly the luckiest person in America right now because of all this Trump noise,” said Joe Scarborough in early August. There’s no doubting the extent of Trump coverage: An analysis of 10 print and electronic publications conducted in July by Time magazine found that “Trump has been mentioned in more articles than all leading Republican presidential candidates except Bush.”

Read the whole thing.

I’ll repeat a question asked here and elsewhere over the last few months: If Trump were a front for Hillary, what exactly would he be doing differently?

National Security Pros Defend National Security

September 4th, 2015 - 7:12 am

Like so:

Just 26 percent of U.S. national security workers believe that the West’s nuclear agreement with Iran is good for America, and even fewer think it will help Israel or Saudi Arabia, a new Defense One survey shows.

Asked to evaluate the statement “The Iran nuclear deal is a good deal for the United States,” some 66 percent of responders disagreed — and two-thirds of that group “strongly disagreed.”

The group’s outlook was even dimmer about the deal’s effect on U.S. allies.

Nevertheless, most Congressional Democrats were more concerned about their President getting a “win” than about national (or international) security.

A few, like Chuck Schumer, raised their voices in protest, but you knew the outcome was never in doubt.

China’s Carrier Killer Revealed

September 4th, 2015 - 6:02 am
Military vehicles carry YJ anti-ship cruise missiles during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Military vehicles carry YJ anti-ship cruise missiles during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military’s most cutting-edge technology.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China says it will cut 300,000 men from its army (there’s a lot of that going on), but its armed forces are getting at least one major upgrade:

Back home in Beijing, China made another clear statement about its ambitions to assert control over its own backyard Thursday at a massive military parade to commemorate the end of its war with Japan in 1945, the last of the regional conflicts that constituted World War 2.

The parade debuted a new ballistic missile that some analysts say will be capable of sinking aircraft carriers, the most important hardware component of the U.S.’s security guarantee to allies such as Japan. The Dongfeng (East Wind) DF-21D missile is designed to go into orbit like an inter-continental ballistic missile before re-entering the atmosphere and delivering its payload on or near a ship. With a range of some 900 miles, the missiles could easily cover the East China Sea, making it much harder for the U.S. Navy to intervene in places like the Taiwan Strait.

Hitting a moving target with a ballistic missile is hard. It also risks escalation into full-fledged nuclear war whether or not the warhead is nuclear. A ballistic missile launch looks like a ballistic missile launch, and an incoming warhead looks like an incoming warhead, no matter if the payload is nuclear or not. There’s no way to tell the difference until the thing goes “Boom!” by which point the intended target might have already told HQ it is under nuclear attack.

That’s a mighty big risk to take.

But the risks might be worth it, to take out a US Navy carrier battle group. When Pearl Harbor was struck by Japan, FDR rallied the nation, the Navy almost immediately invented a new carrier-based naval doctrine, and we avenged that attack in the most thorough way imaginable.

Would today’s leadership, civilian or military, be so bold if China sank one of our carriers? Or would we acquiesce?

Thought for the Day

September 3rd, 2015 - 4:13 pm

ISIS Using, Making Own Chemical Weapons

September 3rd, 2015 - 2:15 pm

It’s just what the headline says, confirmed by the Pentagon:

Pentagon officials are aware of rocket and mortar attacks using the blistering agent mustard after samples from four locations in the region were analyzed, said defense officials familiar with details of the assessment.

Few details have been released of the confirmed use of chemical arms. However, officials said the chemical agent appears to have been manufactured from chemicals obtained by the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL, and did not appear to be from current or older chemical weapons stockpiles kept in either Syria or Iraq. [Emphasis added, because damn.]

Still the jayvee, Mr President?

We’re long past time for action, serious action, against the Caliphate.

Clinton Aide to Take the Fifth

September 3rd, 2015 - 1:23 pm
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

But of course:

On Monday, Mark MacDougall, the attorney for former State Department employee Bryan Pagliano, sent a letter to House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy indicating that Pagliano would assert his Fifth Amendment right not to appear before the Select Committee for a deposition on September 10, 2015. A copy of the letter was obtained by CNN.

MacDougall also says that Pagliano would likewise “decline to produce documents that may be responsive to the subpoena.” In the letter, MacDougall defends the decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment by expressing concern about “the current political environment” surrounding Clinton’s email use.

Political climate — or legal climate, compadre?

300,000 Vets Died Waiting for VA Care

September 3rd, 2015 - 12:02 pm

The Operative: “It’s worse than you know.”

Capt. Mal Reynolds: “It usually is.”

-From Serenity

Joss Whedon’s timeless dialog could very well have been about our very own Veterans Administration, according to new findings:

The IG report says “serious” problems with enrollment data are making it impossible to determine exactly how many veterans are actively seeking health care from the VA, and how many were. For example, “data limitations” prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when.

But the findings would appear to confirm reports that first surfaced last year that many veterans died while awaiting care, as their applications got stuck in a system that the VA has struggled to overhaul. Some applications, the IG report says, go back nearly two decades.

The report addresses serious issues with the record-keeping itself.

More than half the applications listed as pending as of last year do not have application dates, and investigators “could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment” in VA health care, the report said.

The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic “transactions” over the past five years.

Jail is too good for these sons of bitches.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Disband the VA entirely, prosecute hundreds or thousands of these SOBs under RICO, and provide each vet a simple voucher for care anywhere for service-related healthcare needs.

And did I mention prosecuting the hell out of these VA SOBs?

It Isn’t Just Hillary

September 3rd, 2015 - 10:42 am

The FBI is just getting started:

EmailGate has barely touched the White House directly, although it’s clear that some senior administration officials beyond the State Department were aware of Hillary’s unorthodox email and server habits, given how widely some of the emails from Clinton and her staff were forwarded around the Beltway. Obama’s inner circle may not be off-limits to the FBI for long, however, particularly since the slipshod security practices of certain senior White House officials have been a topic of discussions in the Intelligence Community for years.

Hillary Clinton was far from the only senior Obama appointee to play fast and loose with classified materials, according to Intelligence Community insiders. While most counterspies agree that Hillary’s practices—especially using her own server and having her staffers place classified information into unclassified emails, in violation of Federal law—were especially egregious, any broad-brush investigation into security matters are likely to turn up other suspects, they maintain.

This is the most entitled crew to staff the White House since maybe ever — an attitude which starts at the very top.

The question isn’t if foreign intelligence has years of our secrets, or even how many secrets were spilled. The question is how many years will it take to clean up the damage, and how much we’ll be hurt until then.

Required Reading

September 3rd, 2015 - 9:20 am

DRUDGE

You’ve probably seen The Independent’s front page today, or at least Drudge’s above-the-banner treatment of it. Now read Noah Rothman’s take on how that young Syrian boy ended up dead on beach in Turkey:

It was President Barack Obama who declared the use of chemical weapons on civilians in Syria a “red line” for action, and it was President Barack Obama who flinched when it became clear that the regime in Damascus had ignored him. Soon, images began to filter into the Western press revealing the horrors wrought by these WMDs. Rooms full of bodies; people seizing, foaming at the mouth; children contorted and writhing as they met their horrible, terrifying end. The West had to act, but it did not.

Instead, jealous guardians of our comfort and privilege, Western governments opted for an off-ramp. Confronted by obstinate and recalcitrant voters both at home and in ostensibly allied states like Great Britain, Barack Obama declined to make the case for intervention in Syria. Instead, he made a case for a Trojan Horse. The Russian government had offered to preserve its client in Damascus in exchange for an unworkable plan to remove chemical weapons from Syria. Today, their client remains, but the chemical weapons were not entirely removed. Many of them are still in theater, and some have now fallen into the hands of ISIS – a terrorist enterprise of unfathomable brutality.

In reward for Obama’s pliant response to Russian overtures, Moscow responded to turmoil on its Western border by invading and annexing sovereign territory in Europe for the first time since World War II. Today, the flames of war again lap at European heels.

Read the whole thing.

Buying Ink by the Capsule

September 3rd, 2015 - 8:05 am

Nothing is too small to escape the nanny-stater’s gaze — even tattoo ink, which is set to come under intense regulation in New York:

Cuomo signed the bill, which forces tattoo artists to use only single-use ink capsules, in August—but apparently failed to consult a single tattoo artist before doing so.

A major concern for tattoo artists is perfecting their ink mixtures. One New York City artist told Gothamist that professionals “spend their entire career seeking pigments and perfecting recipes for ink.”

The regulation would force the tattoo parlors to buy mass-produced single-use capsules, taking the artistry out of the industry, critics say.

According to the petition, “single use, prepackaged inks” are “incredibly expensive and not offered by any of the better quality brands of ink.” The prepackaged inks are also only available in certain pigments.

At one point the story says Governor Cuomo has already signed the bill, but elsewhere it says that there’s still time to change the language of the bill.

Which is it? Not even a New York tattoo artist knows for sure.

Oh, Those Classified Emails

September 3rd, 2015 - 7:29 am

Via Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ jlw comes today’s big whoops:

Just as email-gate looked to be winding down, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned a person claiming to be a computer specialist has come forward with the stunning news that 32,000 emails from Hillary Clinton‘s private email account are up for sale. The price tag — a whopping $500,000!

Promising to give the trove of the former Secretary of State’s emails to the highest bidder, the specialist is showing subject lines as proof of what appear to be legitimate messages.

“Hillary or someone from her camp erased the outbox containing her emails, but forgot to erase the emails that were in her sent box,” an insider reveals to Radar of the Presidential contender’s latest nightmare.

I’m far from convinced this seller has the real goods — but it does seem just comically incompetent enough to be true, doesn’t it?

An Army Literally of One

September 3rd, 2015 - 6:40 am

The Army is taking steps to address a new threat — UAVs armed with IEDs:

That’s why the Army is adapting C-RAM [originally designed to protect against designed to counter rockets, artillery and mortars] for use against UAVs. “The smaller and smaller the protective area, the more efficient the gun systems become compared to missiles,” Luciano said. “You don’t need as many, and the gun system has certain logistics advantages.”

The EAPS ARDEC gun alternative could include a 50mm cannon to launch command guided interceptors and use a precision tracking radar interferometer as a sensor, a fire control computer and a radio frequency transmitter and receiver for launching munitions into an engagement basket, the Army said.

In April, the development team tested the system by shooting down a class 2 UAV – a short range tactical UAV such as the RQ-7A/B Shadow 200 – with command guidance and command warhead detonation.

It won’t be long before each infantryman has enough firepower (both offensive and defensive) on his own person, carried by a robotic exoskeleton, to have all the firepower of a platoon of 30 men. He’ll also have all the logistical needs of a platoon, all of a platoon’s intel requirements, and more computing power than a modern workstation.

And what happens to the grunt, to the privates and the lower NCOs, when the job of a single infantryman requires the skills, training, and pay of a commissioned officer? It takes a lieutenant to lead a platoon, but the way we’re headed eventually that lieutenant will be the platoon. The grunts, I suspect, will be the lieutenant’s little robot friends who scurry from depot to battlefield and back, keeping him full of ammo, batteries, water, and all his other logistical requirements. There will also be semiautomated drones flying around him, looking for bad guys, firing the occasional missile, and engaging in miniature air battles with enemy drones.

The platoon-infantryman will have to be kept apprised of all of these robotic goings on through an AI system which is able to separate all the wheat form the chaff, presenting him only with the information he needs, exactly when he needs it. All of this, I should add, is on top of his moving, firing, and coordinating with his fellow platoon-infantrymen and with the brass commanding his unit.

You get the idea that all that gear would emit enough to fry an egg simply by tossing it into the air.

The bad news is, there might not be many men (or women) who possess the physical and mental acumen to perform all of these tasks at once, even with all the computer and robotic aid they’ll receive. The good news is, if you can think about it this way, is that we won’t be able to afford to equip and field many platoon-infantrymen.

Still, it would be nice to have some real grunts around for when all the high-tech gear goes Tango Uniform.

Book Her, Danno

September 3rd, 2015 - 5:34 am

Last week my five-year-old came home from kindergarten with a nasty little stomach bug — poor kid was up half the night throwing up everything in his stomach and then some. Friday was Melissa’s turn. On Saturday my nine-year-old got it, and lost most of a precious Saturday to the Angry Toilet Gods. When I didn’t come down with it by Tuesday, I figured I was safe. Then came the Zero Dark Thirty hours of Wednesday morning, and it was every bit as awful as my little family had led me to expect.

But that bug wasn’t nearly as sick-making as the latest on Hillary Clinton and her wheeler-dealing as secretary of State:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails reveal how prominently the Clinton Foundation factored into her thinking as America’s top diplomat, raising questions about where she drew the line between official business and aiding the family charity run by her husband and daughter.

In one instance, Mrs. Clinton appeared to try to steer a Haiti earthquake recovery project to the foundation, according to new emails released this week as the State Department belatedly complies with open records requests for her communications during her four years in office.

Another email shows Mrs. Clinton directing a State Department employee to handle solicitation of money from Norway for a program she was about to announce in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010, and which was being run by the United Nations Foundation, another nonprofit created by Ted Turner that has close ties to her family’s operation.

These are the insider sweetheart deals we know about. The former secretary, when she wasn’t busy pimping out her husband, found the time to delete 32,000 emails. What was contained in those? We may never know, but it’s safe to assume that they weren’t all wedding plans and yoga positions.

There’s more:

In another exchange, Mrs. Clinton praised an idea to set up schools in Haiti, developed by David Domenici, longtime domestic partner to top Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, who was her chief of staff at the department.

Ms. Mills, who served as a member of the Clinton Foundation’s board of directors before and after her stint at the State Department under Mrs. Clinton, forwarded the ideas to Mrs. Clinton, who responded enthusiastically.

“Great ideas (no surprise). Let’s work toward solid proposal maybe to Red Cross and Clinton Foundation since they have unencumbered $,” Mrs. Clinton wrote.

The Clinton’s private foundation — let us not insult actual charitable organizations by calling the Clinton Foundation a charity — was used to direct foreign aid dollars to cronies, while Clinton used her position as SecState to put the deals together.

Two more items for you.

The first comes from Fox News, which reports on State Department efforts to conceal the “true extent of classified information” on the privately-owned clintonemail.com by deliberately changing or hiding the Top Secret headers:

The changes, which came to light after the first tranche of 296 Benghazi emails was released in May, was confirmed by two sources — one congressional, the other intelligence. The four emails originally were marked classified after a review by career officials at the State Department. But after a second review by the department’s legal office, the designation was switched to “B5″ — also known as “deliberative process,” which refers to internal deliberations by the Executive Branch. Such discussions are exempt from public release.

The B5 coding has the effect, according to a congressional source, of dropping the email content “down a deep black hole.”

The next revelation comes from the Washington Post:

While she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote and sent at least six e-mails using her private server that contained what government officials now say is classified information, according to thousands of e-mails released by the State Department.

Although government officials deemed the e-mails classified after Clinton left office, they could complicate her efforts to move beyond the political fallout from the controversy. They suggest that her role in distributing sensitive material via her private e-mail system went beyond receiving notes written by others, and appears to contradict earlier public statements in which she denied sending or receiving e-mails containing classified information.

I’ll reiterate: These are the ones we know about. So far.

And the only proper response to WaPo’s weasel-phrase that these classified emails “appear to contradict earlier public statements” is to tell them, “My ass it appears that way!” C’mon, she was lying then and she’s lying now, even in the face of all this new evidence, that her State Department was her and Bill’s private and very profitable plaything.

Le Département d’État c’est moi, if I may paraphrase another entitled and corrupt world leader, sums up exactly how Clinton treated her time at State.

Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

RTW Is A-OK

September 2nd, 2015 - 7:21 am
(Chart courtesy Heritage Foundation)

(Chart courtesy Heritage Foundation)

Heritage busts union claims that Right-to-Work laws harm worker:

Unions and their advocates argue that, by reducing their membership, RTW laws reduce wages. They claim that weakening union power reduces the pressure on businesses to pay more.

In its new study, The Heritage Foundation has replicated the research that unions and some economists use to support that claim, and has found it fundamentally flawed, as it only partially controlled for cost-of-living differences among states.[2] Using the same model but fully controlling for price differences shows that RTW laws have no effect on private-sector workers’ purchasing power. Heritage did find that government employees make approximately 5 percent less in RTW states.

Unions remain stuck in the New Deal fallacy that the way to riches is to make everything more expensive.

Carded for Coke

September 2nd, 2015 - 6:10 am

Deep in your heart you had to know this was coming:

New York State Assemblyman Matthew Titone, D-Staten Island, has proposed legislation that would ban the sale of sugary drinks 16 ounces or larger to minors across the state.

That means, yes, you’d have to show ID before buying a bottle of cola.

Though minors couldn’t buy soda on their own, adults could do it for them, Titone told reporters when he announced the bill.

“If the adult buys it for the minor, that’s fine. That’s a parent or a guardian making an informed decision,” Titone said, according to reports from CBS-2 in New York. “We allow children to see G-rated movies on their own, but they can’t see R-rated movies on their own. It’s the same concept,” he said.

Kids can’t play outdoors by themselves, they can’t ride bikes without enough protective gear for a week on Mars, and now we have to stop them from buying soda.

These are Heinlein’s Crazy Years — we just live in them.

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Ashe Schow says that Hillary has nowhere to go but down:

It is when Clinton is not in the spotlight that she is most popular. That may sound like a sexist “women should be seen not heard” observation, but it is a problem unique to Hillary. The same issue does not and has not existed for other First Ladies such as Laura Bush or Michelle Obama, although they haven’t sought office after leaving the White House as Clinton has.

Since the digital age allowed Americans greater access to the First Lady, their approval ratings have been high. Clinton, the first digital-age First Lady, did not register the same approval ratings as Ms. Bush or Ms. Obama, and her negatives were always two to three times that of her successors, reaching a high of 40 percent in January 1995. Conversely, Ms. Bush’s highest disapproval rating was 13 percent, and Ms. Obama’s highest was 8 percent. Neither Ms. Bush nor Ms. Obama’s approval rating fell below 60 percent during their time in office, while Clinton’s did – to 54 percent in 1995. That’s obviously still high, but it is low for First Ladies.

Currently, Clinton’s favorable rating is a dismal 39 percent, while her unfavorable rating sits at 51 percent. At this point in the 2008 election, Clinton’s favorability rating was at 55 percent.

People are waking up to the fact that Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Oh, and send Ashe a big congrats for her new gig at Observer.com.

Thought for the Day

September 1st, 2015 - 4:45 pm

China on the Brink

September 1st, 2015 - 1:45 pm

ZeroHedge reports on China’s brand-spankin-new currency control:

Overnight, China decided to take steps to reduce “macro financial risks.”

And by that they mean “do something quick to help ease pressure on the yuan” and by extension, on the PBoC’s rapidly depleting FX reserves.

To that end, starting October 15 banks will have to hold the equivalent of 20% of clients’ FX forward positions with the PBoC, where the money will sit, frozen, for a year, at 0% interest.

Obviously, that will drive up the cost of taking speculative positions which the PBoC hopes will help narrow the gap between onshore and offshore yuan and bring down volatility, although the degree to which this will help fill the CNY-CNH spread looks like an open question.

“It’s a move to ease the reduction in foreign-exchange reserves,” Tommy Ong, managing director for treasury and markets at DBS Bank Hong Kong, tells Bloomberg. “It will also remove lots of speculative trades that aim at short-term gains as the reserves have a minimum lock-up period of one year,” adds Stan Chart’s Becky Liu.

Currency controls are a bad, bad sign for any economy. In one the size of China’s…

Buy canned goods and ammo.

Sign “O” the Times

September 1st, 2015 - 1:39 pm
United States President Barack Obama delivers remarks after meeting with members of his national security team concerning ISIS. From left, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. David Rodriguez, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph L. Votel. President Obama recieves an update on ISIS at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, America - 06 Jul 2015 (Rex Features via AP Images)

United States President Barack Obama delivers remarks after meeting with members of his national security team concerning ISIS. From left, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. David Rodriguez, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph L. Votel. President Obama recieves an update on ISIS at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, America – 06 Jul 2015 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Special Forces morale is plummeting as White House rules interfere with their mission and unjustly ends promising careers:

In recent months, the Army has disciplined, admonished and ended the careers of a number of Green Berets for actions that the soldiers themselves believe were part of combating an evil enemy. Pristine standards for fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda are not achievable, some in the community say.

“There is certainly a belief that upper echelons of leadership have morphed into political positions, and leaders are a lot less willing to risk their own career to support their soldiers,” Danny Quinn, a former Green Beret team leader and West Point graduate, told The Washington Times.

Examples abound.

Read the whole thing.

Saudis Ask Fox to Guard Henhouse

September 1st, 2015 - 12:26 pm
Jordan's Prince Faisal bin Al-Hussein, right, and Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the way to meeting Jordan's King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (Muhammad Hamed / Pool Photo via AP)

Jordan’s Prince Faisal bin Al-Hussein, right, and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the way to meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. (Muhammad Hamed / Pool Photo via AP)

One of the richest potentates in the world will come to the White House begging:

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s three-day visit, strategically scheduled just days before Congress votes on the agreement, offers the Saudi leader a powerful platform to insist that the United States help combat Iranian “mischief.” The king is seeking assurances in the fight against Iran’s proxies across the region, as well as with elements of the nuclear deal itself.

The visit “underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Aug. 27.

“The president and the king will discuss a range of issues and focus on ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, including our joint security and counterterrorism efforts,” Earnest said. “They will also discuss regional topics, including the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and steps to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

Assuming the deal goes through, Iran will suddenly become $150,000,000,000 richer, with more to come.

That kind of money can buy an awful lot of “mischief,” which to me is the main reason to oppose the deal. The question isn’t if Iran goes nuclear, but when. The key concern then is containment, which becomes nearly impossible after the sanctions regime is removed.

Required Reading

September 1st, 2015 - 11:44 am

John Schindler exposes Wikileaks as a front for Russian intelligence:

Evidence that Wikileaks is not what it seems to be has mounted over the years. Assange’s RT show didn’t help matters, neither did the fact that, despite having claimed to possess secret Russian intelligence files, Wikileaks has never exposed anything sensitive, as they have done with the purloined files of many other countries. To say nothing of Assange & Co. taking unmistakably pro-Russian positions on a host of controversial issues. Questions logically followed.

Now answers are appearing.

Read the whole thing.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

September 1st, 2015 - 10:38 am
(Photo courtesy Apple.com)

(Photo courtesy Apple.com)

Does anybody really care? Apparently so, if an iMore user survey means anything.

While trying to divine Apple Watch sales is still a fool’s game, but according to that survey, the people who do own them actually use them — a lot.

Read:

93% of those who took the iMore survey wear the Apple Watch 5 or more days a week. 95% wear their Apple Watch for 8 hours or more a day and 79% wear it for 12 hours or more a day. Next we asked which features are most important to our readers.

98% say notifications are the most important.
84% say timekeeping.
77% say health and fitness.
72% say communications.
44% say Apple Pay and Passbook.
42% say information lookup (calendar, maps, stocks, weather, etc.).
23% say remote control or home automation.

Mine became my go-to device almost immediately, replacing my phone in nearly every instance that I don’t actually need the bigger screen or non-Watch functional apps.

I’m curious to see how that compares to Android Wear and Pebble. Android Wear isn’t yet selling in huge numbers (although that should change before too long), and Pebble has a serious hardcore user set.

It’s a big move, and probably a smart one:

In a blog post this weekend, the company’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, explained that “a number of high profile” movies will leave the service next month as a result of Netflix’s decision not to renew the partnership. Films affected include ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, ‘World War Z’ and ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’, which viewers have until the end of September to watch.

“While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods. Through our original films and some innovative licensing arrangements with the movie studios, we are aiming to build a better movie experience for you,” Sarandos wrote.

Saving money on blockbusters you can see anywhere in favor of spending more money on exclusives you can’t makes a lot of business sense — especially if Netflix can maintain decent quality.

It also fits in with their CEO’s stated goal of “becoming HBO before HBO becomes us.”

Shannon Miles is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Houston. Miles has been charged with capital murder in the death of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth. He is being held without bond. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Shannon Miles is escorted out of a courtroom after a hearing, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Houston. Miles has been charged with capital murder in the death of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth. He is being held without bond. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Damn:

The suspect in the slaying of Texas deputy Darren Goforth was found mentally incompetent in 2012 to stand trial on a felony assault charge, a prosecutor said Monday.

About three years ago, Shannon J. Miles was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after fighting a man at an Austin homeless shelter over the television remote control, said Joe Frederick, a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas.

Miles kicked and punched the victim, injuring his face, back and head, Frederick said. The deadly weapon used in the assault was his hands.

Before trial, Miles was found mentally incompetent and sent to Vernon State Mental Hospital for six months, Frederick said. He was determined to be competent and sent back to Travis County for trial, but prosecutors could not find the assault victim and the case was dropped, Frederick said.

We have deluded people freeing crazy people to be turned into killers by bad people.

Somewhere between the horrors and cruelties of early “mental health” asylums and today’s Let Them All Go policy there must lie something both compassionate to the incompetent and safe for society.