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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Friday Night Videos

January 31st, 2014 - 10:29 pm

Nothing fancy this evening. Just a pumped up little ballad from Blondie about stalking the one you love.

Could Four Words Doom the ACA?

January 31st, 2014 - 3:15 pm

George Will:

The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.

So the IRS, which is charged with enforcing the ACA, has ridden to the rescue of Barack Obama’s pride and joy. Taking time off from writing regulations to restrict the political speech of Obama’s critics, the IRS has said, with its breezy indifference to legality, that subsidies shall also be dispensed to those who purchase insurance through federal exchanges the government has established in those 34 states. Pruitt is challenging the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and there are similar challenges in Indiana, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

I’ll pop the corn.

Sign “O” the Times

January 31st, 2014 - 2:08 pm

NRO’s Andrew Johnson:

As the deadline for 2014 enrollment nears, Obamacare is increasingly growing unpopular, especially among the uninsured. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds that about twice as many uninsured people have an unfavorable view of the health-care law than have a favorable one.

Among the uninsured, 47 percent view Obamacare in a negative light versus the 24 percent who view it favorably. That’s a change from 43 percent who viewed it unfavorably last month, and 36 percent who viewed it favorably. Overall, half of Americans view Obamacare unfavorably, while just over one-third have a positive take on the law.

This is why, during the 2012 election, Professor Wiggleroom always clenched his teeth during that brief time when he tried to embrace calling it “♡bamaCare!!!.”

He knew what was coming. So did Mitt Romney. America refused to listen to Romney, or take a proper read on Wiggleroom.

Flying the Sucky Skies

January 31st, 2014 - 1:01 pm

StrategyPage has more on India’s complaints about Russia’s T-50 pseudo-stealth fighter:

Indian Air Force officers have had an opportunity to check out a prototype of the new Russian “5th generation” T-50 (or PAK-FA). This is the Russian answer to the U.S. F-22 and according to the Indians, who have contributed $6 billion to development of the T-50, the Russian aircraft is in big trouble. The Indian officers noted that the T-50 as it is currently put together is unreliable. The Russian radar, which promised so much has delivered, according to the Indians, insufficient performance. The Indians also noted that the T-50s stealth features were unsatisfactory.

The T-50 is not meant to be a direct rival for the F-22 because the Russian aircraft is not as stealthy. But if the maneuverability and advanced electronics live up to the promises, the aircraft would be more than a match for every fighter out there except the F-22.

It’s been a while since Russian electronics lived up to any promises, but I could see China buying a few, cloning them, and installing their own electronics suites.

Put. The Coffee. Down.

January 31st, 2014 - 11:54 am

As most anybody with an ounce of brain matter knows, caffeine can be hard to kick — but now there’s even a study:

The study, coauthored by American University psychology professor Laura Juliano, shows that more people are suffering withdrawl symptoms and are unable to reduce caffeine consumption which is causes the “caffeine use disorder.”

“There is misconception among professionals and lay people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up. However, in population-based studies, more than 50 percent of regular caffeine consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing caffeine use,” Juliano said in a press release. ”Through our research, we have observed that people who have been unable to quit or cut back on caffeine on their own would be interested in receiving formal treatment—similar to the outside assistance people can turn to if they want to quit smoking or tobacco use.”

My thought is: So what?

Lots of things aren’t easy to give up, but coffee isn’t exactly killing anyone. Back before my hyperthyroid was diagnosed, I gave up coffee because I thought it was what was making my hands shake. So for about three days I had a nasty withdrawal headache, and then that was that.

We do what we need to do.

Soon as my thyroid was taken care of, I went right back on the coffee — knowing full well how much and how long it would hurt if I had to give it up again.

But coffee!

It’s a good thing. And it isn’t just for closers.

Your ObamaCare Fail of the Day

January 31st, 2014 - 10:47 am

Bruce Japsen:

Patients are waiting an average of 18 days to schedule an appointment for a doctor, according to a study of appointments for commonly used specialty physicians in 15 major U.S. cities.

The survey by physician staffing and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins comes as a doctor shortage looms as more patients seek medical care under the Affordable Care Act. The health law is bringing millions more Americans health benefits and therefore the ability to pay for a visit to the doctor’s office.

The longest wait to see a doctor was in Boston where the average wait was 45.5 days to schedule an appointment with a family physician, dermatologist, cardiologist, orthopedic surgeon or obstetrician/gynecologist.

I’ll just note that Massachusetts is home to RomneyCare, which served as the model for ♡bamaCare!!!.

Better Than the Puppy Bowl?

January 31st, 2014 - 9:40 am

I am such a sucker for this stuff, so I’m just going to go ahead and declare that the Super Bowl has already been won — by Budweiser.

(H/T, the lovely and talented Tabitha Hale.)

They Joined the Club

January 31st, 2014 - 8:33 am

Trifecta: It’s Part III of Bill Whittle’s series on executive lawlessness, this time focusing on the media’s role.

Emilie’s Story: ObamaCare is hurting people like me

Breaking: Joan Walsh Says Something Crazy

January 31st, 2014 - 6:18 am

RACEBAITER

With a tip of the hat to Eddie Scary, here’s Walsh in her own words:

By now you know the story: Interviewed by NY1 reporter Mike Scotto, Grimm called the president’s speech “divisive.” But when Scotto went on to try to ask Grimm about his own myriad legal and ethical troubles, well, Grimm threatened to divide Scotto, literally, as in “I’ll break you in half like a little boy.”

As they stood along a railing in the Capitol, Grimm blasted Scotto for not sticking to SOTU questions. “If you ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off the fucking balcony.” When Scotto defended asking Grimm about a campaign finance probe, the congressman, presumably thinking the camera was off, went on: “No, no, you’re not man enough … I’ll break you in half like a little boy.”

There’s so much awful about the Grimm video, especially the macho posturing and the vaguely sexual menace as he threatens to harm the clearly rattled Scotto, who stands just over 5 feet tall. [Emphasis added]

If I ever needed a reminder that I never ever want to know what Walsh gets up to in the bedroom, that statement is it.

Save the A-10!

January 31st, 2014 - 5:10 am

a10thunderbolt1

Everett Pyatt has a not-new plan to save the Warthog from the Air Force’s decades-old desire to rid itself of that unwelcome beast of a plane: Give it to the Army. That idea has been floated pretty much every time the Air Force has threatened to retire its A-10 air fleet. They wanted to kill the A-10 after the Cold War ended, but then the ‘Hog became the stuff of legend during the First Gulf War. It survived the axe again thanks to continued stellar performances in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So why doesn’t the Air Force want to keep such an effective plane, especially one that’s so cheap to operate? Two reasons:

• It isn’t a fast sexy fighter.

• It serves an Army function.

But the Air Force steadfastly refuses to let the Army have the ‘Hog, either. The Air Force has a legal monopoly on fixed-wing aircraft and is afraid that breaking their monopoly would put them at a disadvantage with the Army at obtaining money for future planes.

Well, OK — the Navy and Marines are allowed to have fixed-wing aircraft, too. But not if the Air Force had anything to say about it.

Fact is, the Air Force was divorced from the Army after WWII, and lives in fear of a forced reconciliation. That’s bad for the A-10 which is bad for the Army and a boon to the bad guys.

Huck Leads the Pack

January 30th, 2014 - 3:55 pm

HUCKSLUCK

Oh, GOP — just when I thought we were about to kiss and make up:

n the wake of his “Uncle Sugar” comments at the Republican National Committee Winter Meeting, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has taken the lead in a hypothetical 2016 Republican primary, according to a new poll.

Huckabee gained 3 points in the past month to top the GOP field at 16 percent, according to a left-leaning Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday.

I’m not sure how much faith I’d put in a PPP poll of GOP contenders, not to mention that we’re still a couple years away from getting serious. That said, I hope Huck’s rise has more to do with Christie’s troubles than it does for any extra Republican love for Huckabee.

Hickenlooper Stacks the Deck

January 30th, 2014 - 3:03 pm

The corruption in Colorado over ♡bamaCare!!! doesn’t just run deep — it appears to run all the way to the top:

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is facing another obstacle in his reelection campaign, as news has come out that his administration is accused of stacking an investigative panel over charges Sen. Mark Udall pressured state insurance regulators to edit Obamacare cancellation figures.

Following an outcry by Republicans who said the prospect of a sitting senator bullying government workers to adjust their data was “reprehensible,” the governor’s office appointed a team to investigate the issue.

Following the investigation the panel said no bullying ever occurred nor did any department of insurance employees feel pressured.

However, when media outlets pushed for more details, including the members of the panel, Gov. Hickenlooper’s administration attempted to keep the names secret, arguing that it was doing so to protect them from “potential politically motivated challenges of inquisitions.”

Under pressure from media outlets, the names were eventually released and it was discovered that they consisted of three Democrats in the governor’s administration. The revelation immediately drew questions about the objectivity of the panel during the investigation.

You don’t say.

Comment of the Day

January 30th, 2014 - 1:56 pm

On yesterday’s Tapery Tapering Tapered Taper post, Formerly Neil wrote:

Not-necessarily-coincidentally, the Fed tapered by approximately the amount that Treasury net debt issuance was reduced by the sequester. This is another data point that supports the idea that QE is monetization, not stimulus.

If the Treasury has to increase debt issuance due to the new budget, then I’d guess QE will increase (all other things being equal). In the short term, an increase in Treasury rates will only happen if people start to get the idea that the Treasury can’t or won’t pay out on the existing debt. The only other way is for demand-driven inflation to get started, and I can’t see that happening when the feds are reducing everybody’s disposable income through aggressive taxation and regulation.

I’ve come to the necessary conclusion that central banks are inherently evil.

Required Viewing

January 30th, 2014 - 1:34 pm

If the GOP wants to get distracted by immigration and lose focus on an issue independents are starting to care deeply about, then I can’t help them win.

I just can’t.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day [PM Edition]

January 30th, 2014 - 12:49 pm

80PERCENT

Of course that’s not what the liberal Brookings Institute meant to say, but you should read the “verbal gymnastics” in this PDF file of their report.

That’s a Feature Not a Bug

January 30th, 2014 - 11:42 am

While Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom distracts with big populist talk, Tim Carney has more on Wiggleroom’s corporatist actions:

In other less-than-populist news, Obama’s billionaire fundraiser and advisor Warren Buffett may get a federal grant of immortality – or at least his finance firm, Berkshire Hathaway, might.

Bloomberg News reported that the Financial Stability Oversight Council – created by the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill – is considering dubbing Berkshire Hathaway a “Systemically Important Financial Institution.” This designation would bring some added oversight, but it would also, in effect, protect Berkshire from failure by declaring it too big to fail.

Meanwhile, Obama’s party is furiously fighting off Republican efforts to block a bailout of the health insurers who are finding Obamacare’s exchanges to be less of a gold mine than many had expected.

Don’t listen to what’s coming out of his mouth; watch instead where he’s sending your money.

Another Big Lenovo Deal

January 30th, 2014 - 10:35 am

They’re picking up Motorola Mobility from Google:

Lenovo Group Ltd’s purchase of the Motorola Mobility business, a money-losing subsidiary owned by Google Inc, will give the Chinese company advantages in exploring the global tablet and smartphone markets, analysts said.

The comments came after Lenovo said that it will announce a “major acquisition deal” on Thursday.

The deal, worth at least $2 billion, will include a large volume of mobile communications patents currently held by the US company, a person familiar with the matter told China Daily.

Google is smart to get what they can out of Moto, while they can. They’ve sunk billions into that pit trying to “protect” Android, yet still make more income off of search on Apple’s iOS.

As Greg Hill reminds me, Google paid $12 billion for Moto not all that long ago.

It seems almost cruel to remind you, but here’s what Google said about the deal at the time.

DEAL

That didn’t quite pan out.

Neanderthal Style

January 30th, 2014 - 9:28 am
Our ancestors had it this good.

Our ancestors had it this good.

Fascinating stuff on our not-so-pegigreed origins:

When modern humans migrated out of Africa some 60,000 years ago, they found the Eurasian continent already inhabited by brawny, big-browed Neanderthals. We know that at least some encounters between the two kinds of human produced offspring, because the genomes of people living outside Africa today are composed of some 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.

Two studies published concurrently in Nature and Science on Wednesday suggest that while the Neanderthal contribution to our genomes was modest, it may have proved vitally important.

Some parts of non-African genomes are totally devoid of Neanderthal DNA, but other regions abound with it, including those containing genes that affect our skin and hair. This hints that the Neanderthal gene versions conferred some benefit, and were kept during evolution.

“It seems quite compelling that as modern humans left Africa, met Neanderthals, and exchanged genes, we picked up adaptive variants in some genes that conferred an advantage in local climatic conditions,” says Joshua Akey, who led the study in Science.

I believe “exchanged genes” is science talk for “getting it on.”

Sign “O” the Times

January 30th, 2014 - 8:21 am

Colorado’s Democrat Senator Mark Udall sat down with CNN’s Dana Bash and the subject of Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom came up:

“Is he a liability for you, the president back home?” Bash asked.

“When the president comes to Colorado and talks about our all-the-above energy approach — we’ve got lots of natural gas and solar power — that resonates with Coloradans,” Udall responded. “When he talks about making sure our veterans are treated properly that resonates with Coloradans.”

Bash then asked if that meant he would campaign alongside the president of the United States.

“We’re going to be running a strong campaign based on Colorado’s interests and Colorado’s future. My job, I think, is to protect Colorado’s way of life,” the Democrat said.

“That was not a yes or no,” Bash pressed. “Yes or No?”

“We’ll see what the president’s schedule is; we’ll see what my schedule is. But Coloradans are going to re-elect me based on my record, not the president’s record,” he replied, skirting the question for the third time.

Bash gave Udall one more chance to provide her with a yes or no answer.

“We’ll see what the schedule allows,” he added. “I’m running for re-election, not the president of Colorado.”

President of Colorado? That’s the best he could do? Udall is an idiot — but he’s no dummy.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

January 30th, 2014 - 7:14 am

CNN — which contrary to popular opinion does still report some news — took apart Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom’s SOTU claim that ♡bamaCare!!! has covered nine million new people:

Some 2.1 million had signed up for private insurance through the state and federal exchanges as of Dec. 31. This figure was updated to 3 million last week.

However, it includes both people who have paid their first month’s premium and those who have not yet fully enrolled. Those who don’t pay by their insurers’ deadline will not be covered.

More than 3 million young adults under age 26 obtained insurance through their parents’ policies. This provision was one of the earliest ones to take effect, starting in September 2010.

And another 3.9 million people learned they’re eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in October and November.

But this final figure is pretty squishy since it includes people who already had Medicaid and were simply renewing. Administration officials could not give the percentage of renewals. Experts say renewals could be a sizable chunk of that figure.

So here’s what we have.

We have one group of about three million people who may or may not have bought insurance, but the Administration won’t reveal the actual paying number.

We have another group of about three million post-adolosecents now, or still, being taken care of by their parents.

A third group of almost four million people consists of people who are now on welfare, but who may already have been on welfare prior to ♡bamaCare!!!’s Medicaid expansion. The actual number of new welfare cases is another number the Administration won’t reveal.

What we have here is the normalization of welfare dependency and the lengthening of familial dependency, along with the normalization of Administration stonewalling on revealing the extent of what might be the most expensive failure in American history.

Another Body Blow for Nintendo

January 30th, 2014 - 6:07 am

OUCH

How bad is it? This bad:

The company initially predicted that it would shift 9 million Wii U consoles, but the revised sales predictions for the financial year ending in March 2014 now stand at 2.8 million—less than a third of Nintendo’s previous figure. The modifications also see the 3DS sales figures tweaked downward, but on nowhere near the scale of the Wii U.

The company’s operating profit of 100 billion yen ($958 million) that was predicted at the start of the financial year has become an operating loss of 35 billion yen (around $335 million).

Ouch. But how bad is it really? Really this bad:

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has already said he won’t step down amid the company’s recent poor market performance, but that doesn’t mean he and other Nintendo executives aren’t feeling some of the company’s pain. Nintendo has announced (as reported by the AP) that Iwata will take a 50-percent pay cut for five months starting in February. Two high-level directors, including storied Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, will take 30-percent pay cuts, while seven members of Nintendo’s board will see their pay reduced 20 percent.

Executive pay doesn’t affect the bottom line enough to save a company losing hundreds of millions of dollars. So why bother? Simple: It’s the kind of morale-boosting move a company in trouble might make to accomplish one or two things.

• Show employees and investors that management is serious about fixing what’s wrong.

• Keep morale up high enough that your best people don’t start shopping their resumés around.

Preventing the second one from happening is the real trick for a company that’s been losing money and marketshare for three years running.

Who Do You Fear?

January 30th, 2014 - 5:00 am

Part II of Bill Whittle’s three-parter on executive lawlessness.

More Wargaming the Senate

January 29th, 2014 - 2:49 pm

BUHBYE

Today it’s Scott Bland at the National Journal sounding the alarm. Read:

One look at Obama’s state-by-state approval rating averages ought to send a shiver through the ranks of Senate Democrats.

Republicans need to capture six seats to win control of the Senate, and Democrats have to defend five deep-red states—Arkansas, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia—where Obama’s approval rating was at or below 35 percent in 2013, according to Gallup’s 2013 polling averages. The president was also far underwater in another two Democratic-held states he lost in 2012, Louisiana (40 percent) and North Carolina (43 percent), as well as purple-tinged Colorado and Iowa (42 percent), which Obama won.

Overall, Gallup calculated Obama’s average approval in 2013 at 46 percent. Oregon, New Hampshire, and New Mexico (45 percent) also just fell below that line. In two red states where Democrats hope to gain seats this year, Georgia and Kentucky, the president’s job approval stood at 45 percent and 35 percent, respectively, in 2013.

In the past 10 years, just nine senators of the president’s party have won elections in states where presidential approval slips below the national average, according to a review of exit polls and election results since 2004.

These numbers of course are all pre-SOTU. Can Professor Wiggleroom, wielding his mighty pen and phone, turn things around? In other words, can his use of the bully pulpit change the conversation? That’s the question WSJ’s Patrick O’Connor and Colleen McCain Nelson looked at today:

The challenge facing the president’s party can be seen in Mary Varsegi, a physician in Tampa, Fla., who voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 but now questions the president’s ability to pass an increase in the minimum wage and enact other policies she supports.

Dr. Varsegi echoes growing skepticism among other Obama supporters that the president isn’t looking out for people in the middle.

“Obama is protecting poor people and the very rich,” she said. “He’s not willing to make the middle class a priority.”

Historically, we’ve been a middle class nation. Lose the middle class and you lose the country. Wiggleroom’s policies have indeed been tailored to coddle both the rich and the poor, with everyone else feeling the squeeze. ♡bamaCare!!! is a chilling case and point, where the rich pay more but get more, the poor pay less and get to stand in line, and the middle class gets an effective salary cap (via subsidy losses). That prevents them from competing to join the upper classes, which makes ♡bamaCare!!!’s taxes a small price for the rich to pay.

But I digress. The question remains: Can Wiggleroom change the conversation?

bing_pulse_sotu

Bing Pulse (H/T, Tom Dougherty) found that Wiggleroom’s speech last night scored about as poorly with Independent voters as it did with Republicans. You’d expect Indies to rate a Democrat President somewhat lower than other Democrats would, and somewhat higher than Republicans. But no. That’s the anchor every single Democrat Senator wears going into November — unless there’s an open revolt, led by Democrats, right on the Senate floor.

Dougherty (read the whole thing) adds this:

Save for the opening, the mention of the USA Olympic team later on and the salute to Ranger Cory Remsburg, the green Independent line never crosses above 50 and spends most of the evening in the 25 to 30 range. Hardly what one would call “regaining a foothold with independents voters”.

The second mission was to engage Democrats running for election, particularly in the Senate, and given the rapid response from many Dems backing away from the President and his polices, Obama missed the target here as well.

That’s a far cry from an open revolt, but it’s certainly indicative. Even DWS is backing off from any grandiose claims about winning the House, and she’s about as connected to reality and truth telling as I am with Bill W and a twelve-step plan.

Required Viewing

January 29th, 2014 - 1:42 pm

Just watch.

More News You Can Use

January 29th, 2014 - 12:35 pm

LIVING LARGE

Um… no.

The Taper Tapers

January 29th, 2014 - 12:04 pm

File this one under “Happy to Be Wrong.”

Consensus that the Fed would extend its $10bn taper from December with a further $10 bn taper today (reducing the monthly flow to a ‘mere’ $65 billion per month – $30bn MBS, $35bn TSY) was spot on. We suspect the view, despite the clear interconnectedness of markets (and flows), of the FOMC is that “it’s not our problem, mate” when it comes to EM turmoil.

*FED TAPERS BOND BUYING TO $65 BLN MONTHLY PACE FROM $75 BLN
*FED SAYS LABOR MARKET `MIXED,’ `SHOWED FURTHER IMPROVEMENT’

Of course, “communication” was heavy with forward guidance on lower for longer stressed.

That’s still a lot of funny money, but at least the floodgates have been closed a little.

The Tapered Taper Caper

January 29th, 2014 - 11:27 am

With Janet Yellen at the helm, it’s Full Speed Ahead on QE:

The ultimate question: Does the granddaddy of all central banks still have control?

With the Federal Reserve due to make a monetary decision at 2 p.m. today, its yearlong dance with a global market obsessed with its fine-tuning of U.S. monetary liquidity arrives at an extremely difficult phase — an especially awkward pirouette, perhaps.

Does the Fed press ahead with its plan to remove another $10 billion from its monthly bond-buying program and so maintain an image of predictability in a sea of tumult? Or would that risk an even bigger panic by investors, who fret about the end of a long period of near-free money, and force it to make a credibility-challenging reversal in the days or weeks ahead?

Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ have been expecting unending loosey-gooseyness since Yellen got the nod last fall.

QE today, QE tomorrow, QE forever.

News You Can Use

January 29th, 2014 - 10:20 am

GOODTIMES

You know you’re not supposed to do that to the Professor’s former dealer, right?

Let’s hope he was former.

Anyhoo:

• Boyer was known as ‘Gay Ray’ to Obama and his marijuana smoking ‘Choom Gang’ of privately-educated kids at Hawaiian high school
• Ray was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in 1986, seven years after he supplied the future president and his friends with drugs
• Lover Andrew Devere, a male prostitute, gave police a variety of reasons for the murder
• He said surfer Boyer put him down constantly and broke wind in his face
Court documents uncovered for the first time by MailOnline
•Choom is island slang for pot smoking and group went on excursions to countryside to get high and party, sometimes in Ray’s surf van
•Devere is now living on the mainland after serving his life sentence
•Obama last week said marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol
•Devere’s new wife Elizabeth told MailOnline doing drugs is fine if you are rich and ‘have the tools to deal with it’ but not if you are poor with problems

How’s he living anywhere after serving a life sentence?

Little Debbie’s Nutty Bar

January 29th, 2014 - 9:13 am

Actually, this time Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is making perfect sense — she doesn’t expect her party to win back the House in November.

In another surprise development, I’m still feeling slightly groggy and dehydrated.