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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Let’s face it — the Israelis are already at war with Iran. Or maybe we are.

It’s the Stupid Economy

November 30th, 2011 - 12:43 pm

The White House continues to engage in “Nyah, nyah, I’m not touching you!” games when it comes to domestic oil production:

Obama has cited it as an example of areas where the oil companies could drill but are reluctant to, knowing full well his administration has walled off preferred areas offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

The problem is that at least one oil company, Conoco Phillips, has said it will go after the oil and gas in the NPRA, estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to hold 2.7 billion barrels of oil and 114.36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

To get it out, Conoco Phillips wants to build a road bridge and pipeline over the Colville River on the edge of the NPRA to get drilling supplies in and the oil and gas out.

The Army Corps of Engineers, backed by the usual environmental suspects, says a pipeline under the river, which is frozen half the year, is preferred even though the oil company has said it would be less safe.

The oil firm argues that since the pipeline will carry a mix of oil, gas and water, it would be at greater risk of corrosion and leaks under the water. An above-ground pipeline would be easier to monitor and maintain.

But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has impeded domestic energy production anywhere he can on environmental grounds, supports the Corps’ decision.

Message: You can drill there — if you can get there, suckers.

The Most Transparent Administration in History

November 30th, 2011 - 12:17 pm

A Plan So Cunning It’s Worthy of Baldrick

November 30th, 2011 - 10:21 am

Trifecta: Harry Reid has a secret plan to give the Senate back to the GOP.

So, like, cool.

Been There, Done That

November 30th, 2011 - 10:10 am

Glenn posts: “HMM: China Reduces Reserve Ratios to Spur Bank Loans. That doesn’t sound promising.”

Easy money, less-secure financial institutions, all to prop up sagging home values — what’s not to love?

Ben Bernanke’s Steel-Toed Ballet Slippers

November 30th, 2011 - 8:39 am

Jim Pethokoukis sums up today’s Fed action on the eurozone:

Euro zone governments now have a bit more time to figure out how to save the euro zone. Markets are happy because it seems the ball is moving forward. But without deep structural reforms in at-risk economies, the ECB probably won’t act. As Paul Ashworth, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, puts it, “This is a very helpful move. The markets clearly love it and liquidity is half the battle. But there is still a broader question to be resolved about solvency. If Italy defaults on its debt tomorrow, it wouldn’t matter how much liquidity you had.”

The can-kicking has become almost ballet-like in its sophistication. But it’s still can-kicking.

You’re Welcome

November 30th, 2011 - 8:36 am

Best story teaser evah:

Drama in Thailand as Israeli lifeguards save two drowning Iranians. ‘When we told them we were Israeli they just got up and fled’

There must be a moral in there somewhere, but I simply can’t imagine what it might be.

And Yet We Knew It Was Coming

November 30th, 2011 - 8:18 am

US official economic reporting “officially a farce” — unexpectedly!

Golf Tango Foxtrot Oscar Barney

November 29th, 2011 - 2:56 pm

Trifecta: In which three men happily happily drag the memory of Barney Frank through its very own muck.

Pro Mac Pro Tip

November 29th, 2011 - 12:38 pm

I’ve spent the last few months just hating Apple’s OS X Lion. I thought they should have given it a better nickname, like “System Hang” or “Patience is a Virtue.” I spent more time starring at the dreaded spinning beach ball of death than I did getting work done. Where I once kept open as many browser windows and tabs as I liked, I began closing everything I didn’t absolutely need right then. Aperture 3, which I adore, had become impossible to use.

Things had gotten so frustrating, I was seriously thinking about doing a clean system install — something I used to have to do every 6-12 months with Windows, and was one of the reasons I made the switch.

But there were other things I could do to speed things up, and here they are in no particular order:

• Replace system HDD with a super fast SSD. But that’s expensive, and a hassle. First you have to clone your existing system on it, and all four of my drive bays are full. So I’d have to put the SSD in a FireWire-freindly enclosure, clone it the slow way, then swap it in for the HDD.

• Put in a faster video card. This seemed the least-likely to do any good, and I’m not exactly taxing the card this machine shipped with more than two years ago.

• New CPU. I could install a non-sanctioned EFI update, and swap out my quad-core Xeon for something sexier. But not only is that expensive, it also voids my warranty.

• More memory! This is usually the go-to upgrade. It’s easy. It isn’t very expensive. And even if it doesn’t do a whole lot, you know you want it anyway.

Now, this Xeon processor has three memory channels, but the motherboard has four memory slots. If you fill all four, your memory takes a speed hit — but you can fit in more memory. If you use just three matched memory sticks, the processor can take full advantage of its memory architecture.

When I bought this box, I also picked up four 2GB memory sticks. I figured I could try it both ways: 3 sticks for 6GB of faster access or all 4 for 8GB of restricted access. Under previous versions of OS X — Leopard and Snow Leopard — things ran faster and smoother with the full 8GB.

Well let me tell you: Lion does not like slow memory. Not one bit.

Yesterday I ditched all four 2GB sticks and replaced them with three 4GB sticks. The 50% increase in memory space is a nice bit of room for Lion to run around in, but I’m wagering that leaving that fourth slot unfilled was what really did the trick. Because let me tell you, right now this Lion roars. All the bad things I said about Lion? I take them all back. And if you’re a frustrated Mac Pro/Lion user, heed my advice.

At this very moment, I’m looking at email, 40 or 50 browser tabs in six windows, my calendar and iTunes blown up to full screen, ripping a Blu-Ray and crunching it down to 720p at 30fps, sorting through more than 2,000 RAW images in Aperture, doodling around with three different Pages documents, and two Christmas shopping spreadsheets — all strewn across nine virtual desktops, while in the background iTunes is serving up two video streams to Apple TVs upstairs and Time Machine is cranking away to keep my data safe.

My Mac is a Mac again.

…the second time as farce?

November 29th, 2011 - 8:14 am

Iranian students storm western embassy in Tehran — it really is Carter Redux, isn’t it?

Are You Ready for Newtmentum? [LINK FIXED!]

November 29th, 2011 - 8:13 am

Hair of the Dog: Newt pwned the Sunday shows, Jon Huntsman gets his 13 minutes, and Grover Norquist has got some serious clout with Chuck Schumer.

Bonus: Meet the Press really is the worst thing on TV right now, including maybe iCarly, and I can prove it.

The Authors Acted Stupidly

November 28th, 2011 - 2:11 pm

How to revive President Obama’s standing? Put him in a new wrapper! That’s what a couple of branding gurus say:

First, Obama has to acknowledge the problem exists. “People are not stupid, and if you deny their reality they will turn on you as a brand,” says Kaskowitz.

Second, Obama has to be honest about his plans. “He does not want to be seen as defending himself nor attacking others for the problem. Instead, he wants to remain true to the core values that got him elected originally,” Kaskowitz says.

Third, the president who brought us “hope and change” has to tell voters how he plans to correct the problem in a straightforward way.

And lastly, the Obama team has to remember what got him elected in 2008—standing for something bigger than partisan politics, says Kaskowitz.

Kaskowitz has, in my measured opinion, the situational awareness of a fossilized flatworm.

The Continent is in the Very Best of Hands

November 28th, 2011 - 1:48 pm

These are the folks in charge of saving the euro:

The thing about crises is that the choices they generate are never comfortable. I found last week’s picture of ‘Merkozy’ instructing Mario Monti, their new man in Rome, quite nauseating. Naked German and French power and electoral politics are clearly at play behind the pretence of Berlin and Paris to be speaking for Europe. As a Briton I also find it galling that the world’s fifth or sixth largest economy has been deemed by the disaster-defying duo simply not to exist. Although much of the blame for that I lay at the door of PR-Meister Cameron who has been ‘outed’ by this crisis as a very little leader of an increasingly irrelevant country. Above all, as a Dutch taxpayer, I find it particularly distasteful that two so narrowly-motivated foreign politicians are deciding the future fate of my hard-earned money.

These are the folks we’re going to run the printing presses for.

Ben Bernanke better set his two-speed printing presses from “Fast” to “Way Fast,” because President Obama wants to put us on Europe’s meathook. Here’s the headline:

OBAMA: US ready to do our part to help Europe resolve crisis.

No story yet, but you could probably write it yourself without having been there or even having spoken with anyone.

If the President means it, there’s no way we get out for less than a trillion.

Paris and Berlin, working furiously to prevent the inevitable:

Berlin and Paris aim to outline proposals for a fiscal union before a European Union summit on December 9 increasingly seen by investors as possibly the last chance to avert a breakdown of the single currency area.

“We are working intensively for the creation of a Stability Union,” the German Finance Ministry said in a statement. “That is what we want to secure through treaty changes, in which we propose that the budgets of member states must observe debt limits.”

Moody’s Investors Service warned that the rapid escalation of the euro zone sovereign debt and banking crisis threatened all European government bond ratings.

The problem with the inevitable, of course, is that it always seems to happen.

Besides, the eurozone may only have until December 8 at the longest.

Sign “O” the Times

November 28th, 2011 - 11:19 am

America’s increasingly-hostile business climate is sending more jobs offshore — right offshore, onto a ship to be anchored near Silicon Valley. Read:

Some of the Silicon Valley’s most important companies, including Intel, Google, and Yahoo, were cofounded by immigrants. Yet America’s creaky immigration system makes it difficult for talented young people born outside of the United States to come to the Bay Area. There have been various proposals to make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the United States, but they’ve made no progress in Congress.

So a new company called Blueseed is seeking to bypass the political process and solve the problem directly. Blueseed plans to buy a ship and turn it into a floating incubator anchored in international waters off the coast of California.

The story goes on:

Ars talked to Blueseed founder Max Marty. He acknowledged that it would be better for America to reform immigration laws and thereby make his company unnecessary.

Ya think?

Absurd notions like this become profitable business ventures, only when government becomes absurd. And we passed that point long ago.

The eurozone “has ten days at most” to take action or face oblivion. That’s the verdict of FT‘s Wolfgang Münchau, who writes:

Technically, one can solve the problem even now, but the options are becoming more limited. The eurozone needs to take three decisions very shortly, with very little potential for the usual fudges.
First, the European Central Bank must agree a backstop of some kind, either an unlimited guarantee of a maximum bond spread, a backstop to the EFSF, in addition to dramatic measures to increase short-term liquidity for the banking sector. That would take care of the immediate bankruptcy threat.

The second measure is a firm timetable for a eurozone bond. The European Commission calls it a “stability bond”, surely a candidate for euphemism of the year. There are several proposals on the table. It does not matter what you call it. What matters is that it will be a joint-and-several liability of credible size. The insanity of cross-border national guarantees must come to an end. They are not a solution to the crisis. Those guarantees are now the main crisis propagator.

The third decision is a fiscal union. This would involve a partial loss of national sovereignty, and the creation of a credible institutional framework to deal with fiscal policy, and hopefully wider economic policy issues as well. The eurozone needs a treasury, properly staffed, not ad hoc co-ordination by the European Council over coffee and desert.

Do you see any of these happening in the next week or so? It’s difficult to imagine them happening ever.

At this point, the EU’s best shot would be to join EFTA en masse and then be dissolved. Free trade is good for Europe. Brussels and the ECB are not.

He’s Out

November 28th, 2011 - 8:12 am

Barney Frank won’t seek reelection next year, undoubtedly to spend more time with his family.


Will somebody please report in from MA and tell me if there’s a challenge brewing amongst the Democrats against Frank? He’s a good backbencher (no jokes, please) and has spent enough time now in the minority, that I doubt the prospect of two more years of minority-member status drove his decision.

So what is? Another scandal? He’s survived plenty of those already. He can’t be sick of the taste of Washington’s culture of corruption, since he’s one of its chefs. It would take… well, it would take a miracle for a Republican to unseat him.

So what’s going on back east? Chime in and let me know.

Strolling Up to the Oncoming Train

November 27th, 2011 - 12:42 pm

What plans are being made in case the eurozone falls apart? Well…

“While in the United States there is clearly a view that Europe can break up, here, we believe Europe must remain as it is,” said one French banker, summing up the thinking at French banks. “So no one is saying, ‘We need a fallback,’ ” said the banker, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Too many in Europe still have their blinders on. That can’t end well.

Kimberly Webb Joyner

November 27th, 2011 - 8:34 am

James Joyner is one of the good guys in DC, and a virtual friend going back to the early days of blogging. We’ve shared a scotch or three in the real world a time or two.

His bride, Kimberly, passed away suddenly last night for reasons unknown. She leaves behind James and their two little girls, Katie and Ellie. Dealing with my own health problems and having two little boys, this news hits in a very tender spot.

James, just love the hell out of your girls.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

November 25th, 2011 - 1:01 pm

Winter weather perfection.

Friday Recipe

November 25th, 2011 - 10:09 am

The Perfect Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Club

[The above photograph is for demonstration purposes only. Please don't think you can come over here and eat my sandwich. Also, don't lick the screen.]

You’ll need:

Leftover turkey. White meat, dark meat — it’s all good.
Bacon. And lots of it.
Bread. Whole wheat.
Lettuce. Romaine.
Tomatoes. Sliced and deseeded.
Mustard. Gulden’s.
Mayonnaise. Real. If it comes out of a squeezy jar, it ain’t real.
Salt & pepper

The trick to making a perfect sandwich is in the layering. Also, if you’re piling it up tall, don’t toast the bread — you’ll need something you can grip. If not, lightly toasted is very nice.

Now then: The layers.

I live at a shade under 7,500 feet above sea level. So I have to move fast, take the bread out last, and spread on the mustard and mayo right away to help keep it moist. If you do, too, get all your mise on, then get your bread.

On the lefthand slice, spread on the mayo. On the right, the mustard.

Continue piling everything else on the mayo side, in this order:

Tomato slices.
Season the tomato right now with a little salt and too much pepper.
Bacon. No fewer than four slices, if you know what’s good for you.
Now add the mustard slice on top — mustard down, please — to complete it.
Nom nom nom.

You want your B and L and T all together, because they’re just a classic combo. And you want them on the mayo side, because that’s classic, too. And you need the lettuce in-between the tomato and the bread, to keep the bread from getting soaked as you squeeze that bad boy down to fit in your mouth. (I know, I know — can’t let the bread get too dry, can’t let the bread get too wet. I’m picky. But there’s a reason we call this sandwich “perfect.”)

The turkey and the bacon go great together, too, so you want them right next to one another. And turkey and Gulden’s together? Heavenly. Lastly, and for reasons I cannot fathom, the sandwich works best with the veggies on the bottom and the meats on top — so don’t be a damn fool and turn it upside-down. There’s a right way and a wrong way to eat perfection. And that’s meats up/veggies down.


What Are You Thankful for This Year?

November 24th, 2011 - 9:04 pm

It’s a very Trifecta Thanksgiving.

If You’ve Lost Chris Matthews…

November 23rd, 2011 - 10:52 am

Trifecta: The tingle is gone as Chris Matthews turns on President Obama.

Ready… Aim… Kindle Fire!

November 22nd, 2011 - 1:38 pm

I posted a comment yesterday that I thought deserved a spot here on the main page. Regarding the Kindle Fire, longtime reader rbj asked, “I’m still happy with my HP TouchPad. Why doesn’t Amazon license or buy it from HP? It’s just sitting on a shelf over there.”

Here’s why:

That’s pretty much exactly what Amazon did. Amazon’s goal was to hit that magic $199 price, so they took a BlackBerry PlayBook and stripped it of pretty much everything (cameras, memory, hardware volume controls, etc) but its eye-pleasing 7-inch screen. Then they loaded it up with an obsolete version of Android (2.3), and prettied it up with their own UI and uglied it up with The World’s Worst Web Browser™.

Amazon loses a couple bucks on every sale, but makes it up with volume Amazon Prime subscriptions. More importantly, Amazon disintermediates Apple’s iTunes Store from many people’s content-buying process.

That’s the key: Don’t think of the Kindle Fire as a competitor to the iPad; Think of it as a competitor to the iTunes Store.

Jeff Bezos is nobody’s fool.

Rim Shot

November 22nd, 2011 - 1:13 pm

So, Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko got sentenced today to ten years in prison. That’s not so bad — he already spent the last three years under a bus.

Days Like These

November 22nd, 2011 - 9:10 am

Busy day ahead. First, up to Denver to see my endo for the third time in the last seven weeks. I made an emergency appointment a couple weeks ago, because even after the RAI treatment my hyperthyroid symptoms were getting worse instead of better. Like, intolerably worse. So she took some blood and told me, yep, my numbers we’re going up again. But, she assured me, they’d taper back down over a couple weeks.

And sure enough, they have. After a completely miserable couple of days last week, I finally stopped losing weight, stopped sweating at anything over 65°, and stopped shaking quite so much. So I expect today’s blood work to look pretty good.

Then I race back down here to tape Trifecta, then off to a much-delayed and desperately-needed haircut. All in all, tonight’s drunkblog will probably seem like sweet relief.

Back in a bit.

Programing Note

November 22nd, 2011 - 8:23 am

Yes, there’s another GOP debate tonight — this one devoted to foreign policy — and, yes, I’ll drunkblog it live. Check in at the PJMedia home page at about 7:45PM Eastern/4:45PM Pacific.

Pretty sure Rick Perry is going to promise to nuke the stuff out of something.

Welcome to the Sunday Theater of the Absurd

November 21st, 2011 - 3:58 pm

Hair of the Dog: Bob Schieffer forgets his manners when talking to Ron Paul, two Johns don’t make a right, and Chris Wallace dances with turkeys.

Bonus: Learn what Rahm Emanuel secretly wants to say to you.