A Wisconsin Democrat has left his party, leaving control of the state Senate in doubt:
State Sen. Tim Cullen, a moderate Democrat from Janesville, broke with his party’s caucus Tuesday, saying he may become an independent over what he felt were political “insults” by the Senate majority leader…
The immediate result of the defection is not known. Democrats took control of the Senate on July 16 by a 17-16 margin and are still moving into new offices. State Sen. Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee, is stepping down Aug. 6 to take over as Gov. Scott Walker’s deputy chief of staff, so even if Cullen leaves the party, Democrats will still hold a slim majority: 16-15-1.
THat’s gotta hurt:
We know that Obama heavily outspent Romney in June, in part because the Romney campaign can’t yet spend funds earmarked for the general election. We know that these ads have focused incessantly on the presumptive GOP nominee’s experience at Bain Capital, and that they are quite good. We know that the media has piled on, with questions about when Romney’s tenure at Bain ended and why he refuses to provide the traditional number of income tax returns. And we know that the president leads Romney in the RCP Averages, both nationally and in most of the swing states.
But where is the evidence that anything has changed, outside of the media narrative? PrioritiesUSA, the Obama campaign’s super PAC, suggests this as the key finding: “37% of voters say that Romney’s business experience at Bain Capital make them LESS likely to vote for him. Just 27% say it makes them MORE likely to vote for him.”
Come to think of it, though, we really shouldn’t be surprised. This isn’t the first time Obama has blown through a hundred million bucks to no effect.
ABC News: “How Apple’s Phantom Taxes Hide Billions in Profits.”
It’s really just simple accounting, but since ABC can put “Apple” in the headline, they can generate their own profits. Anyway, here’s how it’s done:
Where Apple does differ from other companies is that it sets aside a portion of these overseas profits, marking them as subject to U.S. taxes sometime in the future. Essentially, it’s saying “this is money that we’ll likely have to pay U.S. federal income taxes on” because we intend to repatriate it, says Willens.
But because Apple doesn’t actually bring the profits into U.S. accounts, it doesn’t pay the taxes. Instead, it records a tax liability. When Apple reports quarterly results, it subtracts these liabilities from its profits, even though it hasn’t actually paid the taxes.
Apple — and everyone else — keeps their foreign profits overseas for a very good reason: Our tax system is evil and corrupt and induces such “bad” behavior.
I could be wrong here, but I believe the US is the only country to tax overseas profits. If Apple were a British corporation and sold an iPad in Germany, then Germany would (as it does now) collect the tax on any profits Apple made in Germany. Britain has no business in the transaction, but would be happy when Apple brings home its German profits and sticks it in British banks and then invests them in British businesses.
We do things a little bit differently here.
When Apple sells an iPad in Germany, Germany taxes the profit. If Apple wants to repatriate its profit, Washington demands that Apple pay the IRS, as if it had sold the iPad right here in the US. Washington wants to collect taxes on profits it had nothing to do with. Germany built those roads, to put things in Obama’s language. And so Apple, like any other American company, wisely keeps its overseas profits overseas. But Washington doesn’t care that Apple paid what it owes, to the country to whom it was owed. Washington’s attitude is straight out of Goodfellas: “Fuck you, pay me.”
This is what Democrats call “corporate greed.”
ONE MORE THING: When Apple takes my money, I get shiny new iDevices. When Washington takes my money, I become a silent partner in Solyndra.
We need to revisit that George Freeman piece from earlier today, particularly two grafs on the last page.
This relieves the United States of the burden of containing Iran. We continue to regard the Iranian sphere of influence as a greater threat to American and regional interests than Iran’s nuclear program. The decline of al Assad solves the major problem. It also increases the sense of vulnerability in Iran. Depending on how close they are to creating a deliverable nuclear weapon — and our view is that they are not close — the Iranians may feel it necessary to moderate their position…
But perhaps the most important losers will be Russia and China. Russia, like Iran, has suffered a significant setback in its foreign policy that will have psychological consequences. The situation in Syria has halted the foreign-policy momentum the Russians had built up. But more important, the Russian and Chinese hope has been that the United States would continue to treat them as secondary issues while it focused on the Middle East. The decline of al Assad and the resulting dynamic in the region increases the possibility that the United States can disengage from the region. This is not something the Russians or Chinese want, but in the end, they did not have the power to create the outcome in Syria that they had wanted.
This is a huge threefer win for us, if Assad falls. (Less so for Israel, but that’s another story.) So what does that tell us about the Arab Spring, and President Obama’s foreign policy? Let’s look at the three countries most affected by it.
There was Egypt, where our interest should have been to help keep a lid on things. The two most likely outcomes there were — and still are — against our interests. The first, is the Egyptian military keeps a lid on things, right up until it can’t. In that case, Egypt becomes Somalia-on-the-Med, a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented scale. In the second, the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, and the Islamists add a country of 80 million to their roster. Currently, it’s a contest between the Army and the Brotherhood for ultimate control over the world’s next failed state.
So what did Obama do? He threw Mubarak under the bus, and helped to pave the way for our own little Middle Eastern Kobayashi Maru.
Then there’s Libya. We don’t really have any interest at all there, so long as Gaddafi remained in his cage, more or less. Since he gave up his nuclear program, quite coincidentally, just after US forces pulled Saddam Hussein out of his hide hole, he posed no threat to us whatsoever. And given the state of Libya generally, none of his likely replacements would pose any threat, either.
So what did Obama do? He led from behind in an embarrassingly long war against a weak opponent, and in the process caused the Brits and the French to over-use their tiny air forces. It will be a good while before either of them will be able to fight again — even in places where we really do have strong interests.
Now we come to Syria. As we discussed earlier, removing Assad from power removes Iran from the Med. It weakens Hezbollah. It embarrasses Russia and China. It strengthens the Iraqis while weakening the Mullahs’ position in Tehran. You can’t get much more Winning! than that.
So what did Obama do? Well, other than a sure-to-be-vetoed UN resolution, he sat on his hands. Now, I don’t advocate getting involved at all in the Arab Spring. Not one bit. But Obama did chose, and he chose poorly. He wasted our reputation and our allies’ strength pointlessly in Libya, he sealed the fate of the only man able to keep a lid on Egypt, and he refused to do anything to push for change in Syria, where change is our friend.
This SCoaMF has no clue what our interest are or how to pursue them, and if things do turn out rosy somehow, it won’t be because of anything he’s done. It will, like his Presidency, be the most unlikely of accidents.
George Freeman looks at the increasingly likely fall of the Assad regime in Syria, and concludes the biggest loser would be Iran – which is obvious to anyone with eyeballs. But the winner might surprise you:
As the Russians withdraw support, Iran is now left extremely exposed. There had been a sense of inevitability in Iran’s rise in the region, particularly in the Arabian Peninsula. The decline of al Assad’s regime is a strategic blow to the Iranians in two ways. First, the wide-reaching sphere of influence they were creating clearly won’t happen now. Second, Iran will rapidly move from being an ascendant power to a power on the defensive.
The place where this will become most apparent is in Iraq. For Iran, Iraq represents a fundamental national security interest. Having fought a bloody war with Iraq in the 1980s, the Iranians have an overriding interest in assuring that Iraq remains at least neutral and preferably pro-Iranian. While Iran was ascendant, Iraqi politicians felt that they had to be accommodating. However, in the same way that Syrian generals had to recalculate their positions, Iraqi politicians have to do the same. With sanctions — whatever their effectiveness — being imposed on Iran, and with Iran’s position in Syria unraveling, the psychology in Iraq might change.
This is particularly the case because of intensifying Turkish interest in Iraq. In recent days the Turks have announced plans for pipelines in Iraq to oil fields in the south and in the north. Turkish economic activity is intensifying. Turkey is the only regional power that can challenge Iran militarily. It uses that power against the Kurds in Iraq. But more to the point, if a country builds a pipeline, it must ensure access to it, either politically or militarily. Turkey does not want to militarily involve itself in Iraq, but it does want political influence to guarantee its interests. Thus, just as the Iranians are in retreat, the Turks have an interest in, if not supplanting them, certainly supplementing them.
Given the state of Turkish politics today, the Turks might not be a big improvement over the Mullahs.
In just the last couple of hours, I’ve had two readers tell me they’ve seen Obama attack ads on TV, despite living in bluer-than-blue-can-be parts of New York. While I doubt Obama 2012 is going to lose the Empire State, it’s no small thing that he’s spending money there to shore up his base.
So I have a favor to ask.
Do you live in a blue state or a blue city or live near a blue campus? If you do, and you see an Obama attack ad on a local channel, please jot down the time. Then shoot me an email, or leave a comment to this post — or to any post here on VodkaPundit. I’ll leave this post at the top of the page for a while.
We’ll get our hive mind together to figure out where Obama thinks he’s weakest, and I’ll use the info you provide in my next exciting episode of Wargaming the Electoral College.
Thanks in advance!
We now return you to our regularly-scheduled blogging.
Karol Markowicz celebrates her 34th year in America and writes:
In 1977, the year I was born and the year my father, his mother, his aunt and many other Jews left the Soviet Union (my mother and I left in 1978), the Soviet propaganda machine began circulating a rumor. It went, roughly: life in America is so terrible that the old people eat cat food.
People didn’t quite get it: they have food specifically made for cats in America? What a country!
Indeed. Now go read the whole thing. It’s just the kind of story we need reminding of now and then.
GregQ forwarded an interesting poll to me Monday, but I didn’t get a chance to write about it until now. SurveyUSA has President Obama up six points on Romney — in Minnesota. Worse, Obama is four points under 50%. I must reiterate that this is in Minnesota. That’s with a 4.3% margin of error, so Obama doesn’t seem to be in too much danger of losing MN.
Or does he?
Ed Morrissey dug a little deeper and noticed a little something else:
The likely voter breakout may undersample Republicans just a bit. The D/R/I on the sample is 38/32/28, with a D+6. In the big Democratic wave of 2008, when Obama won Minnesota by double digits, the exit polls showed a D+4 advantage, 40/36/25. (There are no exit polls for MN from 2010.) Democrats may well be slightly less inclined to turn out in 2012, but I’d guess that Republicans are more charged up in Minnesota than they were in 2008, and that the 32% is too low.
And — boom! — Romney is back within fighting distance.
That’s not where the bad news ends for Obama, however. SurveyUSA also asked MN voters about a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The results aren’t promising for the Left (or for libertarians like myself):
Even youth voters are at best split evenly on the issue. And the older a voter gets, the more likely they are to support the amendment. This puts the Democrats in a real quandary. Get enough voters to the polls to give Obama the state, and risk losing on gay marriage. The infighting might prove quite vicious, as Democrat candidates bail on the measure.
A similar amendment to require voters to present valid photo ID breaks more than two-to-one in favor — including almost half of Democrats and a whopping 65% of independents. Again, this is an issue Democrats have demagogued on the national level, against the apparent wishes of MN voters.
Maybe I should have headlined this one “Required Reading,” but that might obscure the larger point. Anyway, here’s a snippet from a newspaper editorial:
These desperate times for Americans have called forth desperate measures from an incumbent weighed down by an 8.2% unemployment rate and the barest flicker of job growth. Say, why not suggest that Romney could even be a felon? Oh, right, an Obama aide did that.
Masterfully and disappointingly, the President’s campaign is branding Romney as a rich (repeat, filthy rich) corporate buccaneer who made a fortune sending jobs overseas and bankrupting companies.
And that’s one of the nicer bits in a scathing editorial.
You may ask, “So what? Obama gets hit with stuff like that all the time.” Sure, all the time in the Orange County Register or the Washington Times.
But this editorial came from the editorial board of the left-leaning New York Daily News.
UPDATE: Just watched this video again, and I’m so in love with it I’m going to use it for one of my Trifecta segments when we tape tomorrow.
Politico explains President Obama’s Pacific shift in our military forces:
The Obama administration’s real change is not a shift of resources from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but the attempt to do more in both oceans with smaller forces. This White House is asking our military to protect U.S. interests with far fewer ships, fewer planes and fewer soldiers and Marines.
I have one small quibble here. Obama doesn’t honestly want our forces to do more with less. Rather, he wants them to do less with less. American power is an embarrassment and an anachronism to the progressive left — and the less of it the better.
Of course, some future President will inherit this shrunken force, and will someday be required to ask our men and women to do more with less. As a result, more of them than necessary will die.
It doesn’t take a genius to deduce whose hands their blood will be on.
Scientists concluded that CFL light bulbs can be harmful to healthy skin cells.
“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation,” said lead researcher Miriam Rafailovich, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University, in New York, in a statement. “Skin cell damage was further enhanced when low dosages of TiO2 nanoparticles were introduced to the skin cells prior to exposure.”
According to Rafailovich, with or without TiO2 (a chemical found in sunblock), incandescent bulbs of the same light intensity had zero effects on healthy skin.
The scientists found that cracks in the CFL bulbs phosphor coatings yielded significant levels of UVC and UVA in all of the bulbs — purchased in different locations across two counties — they examined.
I was an early adopter of CFLs, but have since removed almost all of them from our house. Not because of reports like this one, or because of the potential for expensive cleanups after a broken one, or any of the other many problems the screwy little bulbs create.
No, I took them out because the light sucks. And also because they’re too expensive, don’t last as long as advertised, and therefore aren’t any cheaper to run.
I still keep a few installed, mostly outside. The sconces around our house have frosted covers, which masks just how damn ugly the light is. Besides, we’re trying to make it possible to see the sidewalk at night — not to put on makeup in the bathroom mirror or prepare tasty-looking food in the kitchen. It’s also nice to run the equivalent of ten 100-watt fixtures on just a fraction of the apparent wattage.
We keep two in the garage, also — but that’s out of three ceiling fixtures. I’ll explain in a moment.
CFLs broke a lot of promises.
The first promise was that you could go five or six years between replacements, but that just isn’t so. Fluorescent bulbs don’t burn out all at once like incandescents do. Instead, they lose their apparent wattage output over time. In my experience, CFLs have a half-life of about 30 months in normal usage. In other words, a 1000-lumen CFL will produce only 500 lumens after two-and-a-half years. By the time the rotten thing finally does completely give up the ghost, you’ll be half-blind from squinting.
The second promise is that warmup times haven’t improved, especially for outdoor installations. Our garage has three ceiling fixtures, and since it’s a big space, it needs a lot of light. So I put in three 100-watt equivalent CFLs. Then I tried to pick something out of the chest freezer at night in winter. You could grow a beard before those bulbs put out out enough light to see what the hell you were doing.
So you know what I did? I replaced one of the CFLs — the one directly over the chest freezer — with a real 100-watt incandescent — and I bought enough of the poor, banned things to last the garage a lifetime. Take that, vile progs.
Finally, dimmable CFLs aren’t. I mean, they kinda-sorta are, but not really. Dim them to 40% or less, and they turn off all they way — so much for that romantic mood lighting. And I can promise you that a woman who has seen what her face looks like under one CFL, isn’t going to want to show any more skin under another CFL. And if you’re using fancy electronic dimmers (like the Lutron switches I install everywhere), then 3-ways won’t work at all. I don’t know what it is about CFLs, but they prevent those switches from “talking” to each other. Only the master switch will work at all.
Oh, and the damnable things cost $15 a pop, and burn out faster than cheapo halogens.
But other than sucking in every possible way while destroying American jobs and harming your skin, CFLs are just great.
There is just no good way for the Democrats to spin this one:
Facing an uphill battle to retake control of the House from Republicans, about one third of Democratic House members are refusing to pay any dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Another 109 members have made only partial payments…
The Democrats have tried everything to get deadbeat members to pay up, including denying the scofflaws a premium convention package that would get them a nice room at a choice hotel, and full access to all convention activities. But GOP pockets run deep this year and most members believe that they are going to need every dollar they can get to prevail in their own races.
That’s from our own Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler, riffing on a Politico piece. Taking a second look at it just now, I think Rick has provided the Democrat spin for them: “We’re focused on taking back the House!” Close your eyes and you can picture Nancy Pelosi saying that to George Stephanopoulos with a straight face, as he nods in solemn understanding.
But let’s take a harder look at the numbers, shall we?
There are currently 191 Democrat members of the House — a long way down from the Halcyon days of just two years ago, when they held 257 seats. So if “about one-third” of D members have refused to pay any dues to the DCC, that’s about 60 or so of them. And if 109 have made only partial payments, then probably no more than ten House Democrats have bothered to pay their full dues to the DCCC.
It’s a fair bet that among those ten or so Democrats, some of them hold leadership positions — such as Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. They almost certainly would have paid their dues in full, in order to set a good example for the rest of the yapping deadbeat back benchers.
Take them out of the equation, and you have single digit Democrats with enough faith in their party to pay what they “owe” to regain Democrat control of Congress.
I told you last week the House was never in play this year. Of course, that’s so obvious, damn near every Democrat knows it already.
Here’s your headline of the day: President Obama Praises Self for Ending War in Iraq on Bloodiest Day of the Year in That Country.
That’s from Jake Tapper who asks, “Is it bad timing or irrelevant?”
Neither, Jake — it’s a big, fat lie.
President Obama didn’t end squat. He followed the Status of Forces agreement, to the letter, negotiated by President Bush’s State Department. Obama put his name on somebody else’s homework, and now is trying to take credit for it.
And you know the worst part? The teacher graded it a D.
“Hey, look at this D, everybody! I earned it all by myself!”
Now that’s your real headline of the day.
Here we go again? Maybe:
In an interview with the Financial Times, John Williams, president of the San Francisco Fed, said that the weak outlook and the extent of downside risks “would argue for further action” but the counter-argument was doubts about tools such as QE3.
However, Fed officials are determined to ensure that the economy makes progress towards lower unemployment. In June, the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee still forecast a decline in the unemployment rate over the next few years, albeit very slowly. Any downgrade to that forecast would be a likely trigger for further action.
Repeat after me: Printing money does not make people rich. Letting people figure out how to make money in a free market, that’s what makes people rich.
Washington has forgotten this (and Obama never knew it), which is why the Fed has resorted to trying to make people feel rich, by printing all this Monopoly money. As long as the former continues, so will the latter.
But it still won’t work.
The Hill: Voters blame Obama for bad economy. Yeah, it took more than three years, but, honestly, that’s only fair. The poll
found that 66 percent believe paltry job growth and slow economic recovery is the result of bad policy. Thirty-four percent say Obama is the most to blame, followed by 23 percent who say Congress is the culprit. Twenty percent point the finger at Wall Street, and 18 percent cite former President George W. Bush.
The results highlight the reelection challenge Obama faces amid dissatisfaction with his first-term performance on the economy.
Look, everybody knows about “this mess I,” King Obama, “inherited.” And you might have read Obama’s complaint that he was dealt a really “bad hand.”
Message to President Obama: Hey, bub, if you didn’t want the job, you shouldn’t have ran. President Bush expected to be the Republican Clinton — the guy who got to tinker around the edges during a generally peaceful and prosperous time. Then came the attacks of 9/11, and he found himself a wartime President. You might not have agreed with his decisions, but you didn’t hear him whining about the situation, either. You also didn’t get 40+ months of Bush blaming his predecessor — which he could have very rightly done.
The fact is, however, Obama did inherited a real mess. The problem is, everything he did to correct it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Obamanomics consists of taking the economy when it’s down, putting his boot on hard its throat, then beating it on the head with a big bag of money and shouting, “Produce some damn jobs, you greedy bastard!” When that fails, get a bigger bag.
More than three years after the failed stimulus, more than two years after the hated ObamaCare was passed, almost exactly two years after Dodd-Frank turned the banking industry into a cowardly lion, and as the Fed prepares for yet another round of quantitative easing, the result is clear: Obamanomics has failed to produce a recovery.
Maybe he meant well, but Obama has crushed the recovery like John Candy trying to hatch a Fabergé Egg.
He owns it now. The people have realized that — which is Obama’s major problem going into November. And it’s our problem, trying to undo this mess Obama has created — hopefully starting in January.
I think you’ll find that Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz go best with an Old Fashioned.
2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon.
1 sugar cube
1 dash bitters
1 teaspoon mineral water
1 handful whole ice cubes
And, of course, an Old Fashioned rocks glass
A grownup cocktail doesn’t need a bunch of useless fruit in it — so put away the maraschino cherries and the giant orange wedge.
Hit the sugar cube with the bitters, then muddle it into the water. Add ice, pour in the bourbon, and quickly stir.
Yes, you could just use a tablespoon of simple syrup and skip the cube and the muddling. But that would be like a heroin addict using a pre-bent spoon.
Here’s the one I just made. Cheers.
I think it’s safe to say the bloom’s off that particular rose.
One of those rare cases where the remix is far superior to the first recording. In the original version, lead singer Marc Campbell sounded so petulant you couldn’t believe he’d ever known just one woman.
Oh, and this one’s NSFW.