Voting Democrat? Let the machine get it. Watch the video and prepare to be amazed.
Pennsylvania? You don’t say.
When I see a headline which says, “Why Outrage Over Islands Full of Goats Is Crazy,” there’s no doubt I’m going to read the story. I should have known it was about the latest dispute between China and Japan:
It is easy to envision a couple of Japanese businessmen being dragged from their corporate offices in Shanghai and beaten, or even killed, by an angry mob. Things could get out of hand very quickly, which explains why Panasonic Corp. (6752) and Canon Inc. are shutting Chinese plants. That goes, too, for naval ships near the disputed islands. Miscalculations, collisions and gunfire that lead to broader armed conflict aren’t hard to imagine.
Japan and China should end this foolish row now. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese President Hu Jintao should be talking at this very moment to hash out a truce. Even better, commit to a meeting, perhaps on the very islands that their respective governments hold so dear. Or at the White House, where President Barack Obama’s team might help broker a deal.
President Empty Chair can’t be bothered to lead on the Middle East Embassy Burning Extravaganza. What makes anyone think he can be bothered with the Goat Crap Islands Conundrum?
It’s OK, but you’d be better off buying a shiny new iPhone 5, or even a discounted 4S.
The 5 is so sleek and light, I’m almost tempted to trade in my 4S after just 11 months of light use. I’d probably go ahead and take the AT&T hit, except that the camera isn’t really a whole lot better. It’s a wonder that Apple managed to fit the same-specced camera (five element lens, f/2) into 20% less space, but that doesn’t help me any. Apparently it’s great shooting in low light, but that’s what I have a Nikon SLR for. No phone is ever going to beat an SLR with a real flash you can bounce off the ceiling.
And about that flash? I refuse to use the one on my 4S, because it produces such crappy light. Well, it’s an LED flash, like on every other smartphone, and LEDs make bad for bad flashes. So I shoot in available light, which is fine, because I’m usually just grabbing pics of kids or food for Twitter.
Now I have updated my phone and iPad to iOS 6, and so far I have no complaints. Mostly I’m jazzed that Siri has come to iPad. But I did notice one very curious thing.
After my phone was finished upgrading, I noticed the screen seemed brighter. So I checked the brightness setting, and iOS 6 had defaulted it lower than I’d set it myself. Quite a bit lower, actually. That’s a neat trick, if Apple has managed to make the screen easier to see at lower settings. And, yes, my iPad defaulted to the same thing: Brighter screen; lower setting. I’m curious if battery life will be improved.
That right there might be the killer feature of the new OS.
President Empty Chair, in his own words.
Here’s Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, on Twitter today.
Can you imagine losing to this douche?
Shorter Jonathan Cohn: You didn’t build that.
On the off chance you need it, here’s a slightly longer bit from his piece today in TNR:
But the fact that the entitlement state has grown shouldn’t, by itself, alarm us. It’s actually a sign of progress, because it’s a reminder that the government has stepped in to do what the market would not. We saw, in the years before Social Security, what the world looks like when seniors don’t have adequate pensions. And we saw, in the years before Medicare and Medicaid and (now) the Affordable Care Act, what the world looks like when people can’t afford to pay their medical bills. It was not pretty.
Neither is the year 2027, when the US economy ceases to exist due entirely to the growth of the entitlement state Cohn worships.
The President got down and boogied with Beyoncé and a wall of gold champagne bottles. Real gold:
When President Obama addresses an elite roster of hipsters and multimillionaires, including hosts Beyoncé and Jay-Z, in New York tonight, he will do so next to a custom-designed tower of $800-per-bottle champagne that dominates the main room at Jay-Z’s 40/40 nightclub.
The 350-bottle champagne tower — designed by Jeffrey Beers — is a monument to Jay-Z’s favorite bubbly, Armand de Brignac, which is known colloquially by rappers, clubgoers and connoisseurs as Ace of Spades because of its gold-spade label.
While Obama most certainly does relate to you and feel your pain and all that, he’s also banned photos from the opulent event.
Sorry — that wasn’t very nice of me to say. What I should have said was, “While Obama most certainly does relate to you and feel your pain and all that, he’s also banned photos from the opulent event, suckers.”
There’s something deeply wrong with a lot of people in a world where that’s a headline. The cartoon isn’t the thing bring published in France. The cartoon is the violence in the Middle East — drawn up, invented, ridiculous.
It’s still real enough to get people killed, of course. This isn’t a Tex Avery cartoon, unfortunately, where somebody can take a cannon ball through the stomach and then walk around with a perfect, and bloodless, circle missing from his middle. And it’s real enough to force a powerful(ish) nation to close 20 of its embassies in a vital region of the world.
Now the Middle East isn’t vital because of the productivity of its industries, or the intellectual properties it produces, or the strength of its armies. The Middle East has craploads of oil, and the West needs craploads of oil. Increasingly, the East does, too. And in the middle? Millions of seemingly crazy people willing to kill over a charmingly incompetent movie trailer produced in the basement of a Los Angeleno with only a passing familiarity with reality, or because a Frenchman drew a cartoon picture of Mohammed’s pee-pee.
I suppose the willingness to commit senseless acts of violence across a host of nations on the flimsiest of pretexts is a sort of power, too. It’s the same power as the unkempt man who mumbles to himself on the sidewalk has, to force you to cross the street a block before you need to.
It ain’t much, but when it’s the only card you’ve got, you play it.
Trifecta: Newsweek’s most recent cover is a story from Ayaan Hirsi Ali about the “last gasp” of Islamic rage, in what can only be described as the magazine’s most recent attempt to not suck.
A couple weeks ago, they had Niall Ferguson telling President Empty Chair to hit the road — and now this? What the hell is going on at the lefty magazine everybody loves to hate?
This one time, Mitt Romney decided to make this election about the most important issues facing this nation: Restraining government, reforming entitlements, and getting the economy producing jobs again. There is — ahem — some overlap among the three. Romney pivoted from anti-Obama to pro-growth in one decisive stroke: He named Paul Ryan as his Veep.
And then he sort of forgot about all that stuff, it seemed.
But video emerged of Romney telling a group of his supporters that Obama’s supporters tended to be grievance-issue voters dependent in one way or another on government. Suddenly, whether Romney meant to or not this time, he made this an election about issues again. The Wall Street Journal sums it up thusly:
In his comments to fundraisers captured on video, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said 47% of Americans would almost automatically vote for President Barack Obama because they were “dependent” on the government, in part because they received government benefits and paid no federal income taxes.
The WSJ then goes on to break down the data:
26.4% of U.S. households had someone enrolled in Medicaid (the health-care program for low-income Americans)
16.2% of households had at least one member receiving Social Security.
15.8% lived in a household receiving food stamps
14.9% had a member with Medicare benefits
4.5% of households received assistance with their rent
1.7% had a member receiving unemployment benefits.
This is something, uncomfortable though it may be, which needs some serious talking about — all the partisan stuff aside.
There are plenty of Medicare recipients who vote Republican, and plenty of überrich Democrats, too. Just because you’re on the dole doesn’t mean you can’t support Romney. In fact, I can think of a few million people getting unemployment checks who might just be dying to vote for anyone but Obama. Twice, if need be.
We now live under a system where almost three trillion dollars get hoovered out of the economy, sent to Washington, and then (mostly) sent back to individual Americans in the form of some kind of benefit. People, especially people in power, enjoy this process so much that they magically conjure up out of thin air another trillion dollars, which is then (mostly) sent back to individual Americans in the form of some kind of benefit, too.
About half of the people pay no income tax, despite getting all these benefits. Ten percent of the people pay more the half the income tax. The payroll taxes which are supposed to pay for the two most ginormist benefits — Social Security and Medicare — have been gutted, in order to provide “stimulus.” While SS and Medicare are now going broke even faster than they were before the cuts, we’re still waiting for that stimulus to arrive. Any day now. Tick tick tick.
See, Obama broke the New Deal.
China needs close to 10% economic growth each and every year, to generate the 24 million new jobs, each and every year, it needs to accommodate the growth of the labor market and the influx of farmers to the cities. Well:
Standard Chartered late on Monday became the latest bank to downgrade its view on the Chinese economy. Its economists and strategists, led by Stephen Green, now forecast China’s gross domestic product will expand 7.7% in 2012 and 7.8% in 2013, down from their previous growth projections of 8.1% and 8.7%, respectively.
StanChart also expects interest rates on the mainland to be frozen at current levels until the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to an earlier call for one more cut. They see the next rate move to the upside in the October-December period next year, followed by more hikes the year after.
The GDP growth downgrade echoes market sentiment – a number of other banks, including Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup – have recently done the same.
With a once-in-a-decade leadership transition looming, the difficulties facing the incoming administration are significant. More importantly for those leaders, the game has changed, and is in need of a new set of rules, StanChart suggests.
The problem, of course, is changing the rules when you have only one ruling party and no legal or loyal opposition. Stasis is the desire; eventual collapse is the result.
Since Obama has taken office ….
[through Q2 2012 for comparative purposes]
–> For every $1 added to the economy, we’ve added more than $3 in debt
–> added $5.23 trillion in debt vs. $1.68 trillion to the economy
–> 50% increase in debt vs. 12% increase in economic output
Total Public Debt:
$10,626T [Jan 20, 2009]
$15,856T [Jun 30, 2012]
–> $5.23 trillion increase in debt
[source: Treasury Dept]
This policy is brought to you by the same folks who like to talk about “sustainability.”
We’re throwing a big-ass dinner party tonight, so Jazz & Cocktails is on hiatus until next week. But I found something so great, it’s going to take an extra week just to find the right drink to go with it.
I thought this one was fun and clever the first time I heard it, twenty-mumble years ago. Now it just pisses me off how much more true the song becomes every year.
Still love it, though.
We’re about to endure another credit downgrade, this time from Egan-Jones. The reason? I can give you the short answer in just two words: “Ben” and “Bernanke.” Here’s the longer answer:
The latest round of quantitative easing announced Thursday by the Federal Reserve will almost certainly trigger a rating downgrade by Egan-Jones.
Already the rating agency had warned on Wednesday when it affirmed the U.S. rating at AA that “QE3 will likely trigger a negative action.” Given that the outlook is already negative (AA-), a downgrade to AA- would be a logical next step for the rating agency.
“We are not receiving QE3 positively,” Vice President and co-manager of the ratings’ desk Bill Hassiepen told MNI Thursday, while the fiscal situation is a “nightmare.”
Repeat after me: Printing money never ends well.
I couldn’t be a bigger fan of Steven Spielberg or of Daniel Day Lewis — but this trailer makes the movie look like ass. I picture Christopher Walken playing Spielberg, shouting, “MORE PORTENT!”
What do you think?
AND ANOTHER THING: WTF is up with up with Tommy Lee Jones and that wig? I dare you to look at it without laughing and/or cringing. I double-dog dare you.
Egypt is remilitarizing the Sinai, in violation of the 1979 Camp David Peace Accord, while the President fiddles. Evelyn Gordon has the story:
The attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the Egyptian government’s lame response have understandably drawn international attention. But the same isn’t true for Egypt’s other provocative moves of the last month. And given that American and European officials have been claiming for years that Mideast peace is one of their top foreign policy priorities, their deafening silence over these moves is incomprehensible.
During this month, Egypt first violated the cardinal principle of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty by remilitarizing the Sinai, and then announced plans to spend a significant chunk of the international aid it is seeking on state-of-the-art submarines rather than its shattered economy. Both the treaty violation and the purchase of weaponry that has no conceivable use except against Israel clearly make the prospect of another Israeli-Egyptian war more likely, which ought to be reason enough to object: Of all the times Israel has tried ceding land for peace, the deal with Egypt is the only case in which it actually worked, so if the peace with Egypt goes, even doves like Israeli cabinet minister Dan Meridor have warned that Israelis will never sign another land-for-peace deal.
We aren’t allies with Egypt anymore, provided we ever really were. What a shame President Obama felt it necessary to so quickly recant such an obvious statement of fact.
Drudge, the master of collation and juxtaposition, strikes again.
I have Sally Field stuck in my head, exclaiming, “You like us, you really like us!” Ironically, of course.
It’s difficult to blame President Obama very much for the chaos. He certainly gave things a big push by tossing Hosni Mubarak under the bus, and Secretary Clinton’s performance has been lackluster at best. But mostly, the violence is just the latest symptom of the Arab world’s descent from sanity. Some American leadership here would save some lives, but nothing fundamental will change until two things happen:
1. Araby learns to function politely in the modern world.
2. And hahahahahahaha like that’s ever going to happen in our lifetimes.
So there you have it.
Here’s what Obama got wrong. His Drone War has been both tough and effective at taking out al-Qaeda’s leadership. It has also really pissed off the Arab Street. That’s fine — we’re used to having the Arab Street angry. They’re professionally angry; it’s what they do. The problem is, the president has tried (as is his wont) to have his cake and eat it, too. He’s tried to balance his tough guy Drone War with a personal approach of acting all lovey-dovey, cuddly-wumpus with Islam. But you can’t claim the godlike power to rain down death from above, while demanding to be loved. It makes you look feckless and weak, as though you don’t have the courage of your deadly convictions.
The Arab Street has caught on, and (with a little push from al-Qaeda?) is doing what it loves to do best: A bit of the old ultraviolence. Some killing, some rape, some burning — you know, Street-y stuff.
Meanwhile, another selection from Drudge.
Scott Conroy reports that Pennsylvania Democrats are confident that the state’s voter ID law won’t hurt Obama’s chances there. Why’s that? I can tell you in just one sentence, spoken by an Obama volunteer, Elisabeth Sims:
“In my phone calls, I haven’t had one person who’s said that they didn’t have ID, and I’ve made hundreds of calls,” Sims said.
Why, it’s almost as if voter ID were some controversy ginned up by the Democrats to tar Republicans as racists.