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Headline of the Day

December 15th, 2014 - 1:12 pm

JEB

The photo caption reads “Please, don’t.”

On the off chance those two perfect words aren’t enough, here’s plenty more from Michael Brendan Dougherty:

By the time 2016 rolls around, it will have been eight years since the previous Bush presided over an economic disaster. The economy may have mostly recovered, but it is drastically more unequal. What is Bush’s cheerleading going to do for that? Does anyone think the GOP needs another captain of private equity to be its leader? And as loathsome and un-American as it may seem to hold someone’s family name against him, this point needs to be emphasized: the GOP and the country don’t need another Bush.

Although recent years have made me appreciate the creative realism of George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy, Jeb Bush seems to be taking after his moralizing and confrontational brother, rather than his more restrained, consensus-building father. A recent speech in Miami revealed that Bush accepts the “we’re-rubber, you’re-glue” moral calculus of the most hawkish voices. When America kills foreigners, the foreigners are to blame. But when Russia invades Ukraine, or Syria disintegrates into civil war, that’s America’s fault for not doing something. This is stupid and dangerous.

The George H. W. Bush style of domestic policy that both his sons inherited is one of giving liberal programs half the funding and authority liberals want, but dolloping on so much conservative-branded “accountability” that it can be sold to the right. Poppy pushed “standards-based reform.” W. did No Child Left Behind. And Jeb is the leading GOP advocate for what’s become of Common Core. Whatever the merits, being identified so closely with a Bill-Gates subsidized education scheme hated by both the the right wing to Louis C.K. will prove costly.

Read the whole thing.

Jeb Bush seems like a decent guy, the kind of guy you’d like as a neighbor, maybe even to head up your Boy Scout troop.

But this country ought to be done with political dynasties, especially one as tarnished as the Bushes.

Good Advice to Ridley Scott

December 15th, 2014 - 12:17 pm

The famed director’s latest, Exodus: Gods and Kings, looks like a flop — although I suspect it will do better on home video. Generally speaking, Hollywood seems to have a problem in this century with making decent biblical epics. A year ago I asked “Who in their right mind thought Darren Aronofsky was the right director to helm a Biblical epic?” And sure enough, Noah was pretty awful. Biblical epics made by actual practicing Christians tend to be of the basic cable variety — with scripts, actors, and production quality to match. Where’s Cecil B. DeMille when you need him?

Anyway, Wired has some advice for Ridley Scott:

In the last 10 years, you’ve made eight movies, half of which have been sweeping period epics or ambitious tales of science fiction. Prometheus, Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood, and now Exodus. It’s clear you love to paint with a big, fantastical brush, so why not make a miniseries? Give yourself 12 hours to tell a story instead of two. Maybe then you won’t have to sacrifice character development in favor of world-building and we won’t have to spend more than two hours in a theater and still leave unfulfilled. We can’t lie to you, Ridley. We haven’t felt emotionally invested in the outcome of one of your protagonists since American Gangster in 2007, and when you’ve got knockout stars like Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Christian Bale in your stable, we should have at least cared about someone on accident.

But you’ve turned cold on us, Ridley, casting heavyweights to immerse themselves in could-be-genius source material only to leave them extremely under-utilized. In Exodus, a plague of frogs got more screentime than Sigourney Weaver, which should never happen, and nearly every A-lister with a pulse was in The Counselor and it still felt empty. After your early 2000s run from Gladiator to Matchstick Men, almost everything else has felt like “Because I can.” And because you obviously can, that’s exactly why it’s time to try something new.

I would watch the hell out of a Scott-helmed miniseries, and I bet I’m not the only one.

Thought for the Day

December 15th, 2014 - 11:05 am

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

December 15th, 2014 - 9:55 am

VIOLIN

Need some cheery news during this holiday season? Then you don’t want to read the latest totally unintended consequence of the completely settled law of the land:

The Affordable Care Act is spelling the demise of free healthcare clinics across the country, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Of clinics across 28 states, almost a dozen in the past two years have cited Obamacare as their reason for shutting their doors.

Both The Good Samaritan Free Clinic in Rock Island, Illinois, and the Ninth Street Ministries Free Medical Clinic in Polk County, Arkansas, shut their doors this year saying their missions were complete. Now that most of their former clients have medical insurance, many through expanded Medicaid, they are no longer needed, they say.

“When we started we said if there ever was almost universal health care, our mission was accomplished,” Good Samaritan co-founder Kerry Humes told the Journal.

I guess the sick joke is on them.

UPDATE: Rasmussen says most Americans still expect health care to worsen under ♡bamaCare!!!. Whatever could have given us that idea?

Dems Double Down on Dumb

December 15th, 2014 - 8:40 am

Stephen Moore wants to know if Republicans will “seize the opportunity” created by the latest Democratic blunders, described thusly:

Right after Democrats got routed in the midterm election, the left-wing group MoveOn.org blasted their activists with a message not to panic. Party leaders should, in fact, “double down on progressive policies.”

This is the kind of advice you would expect from a gang of young ideological activists, but what is amazing is that Barack Obama and the Democrats have followed it. On immigration, energy, climate change, regulatory overreach—Obama issued 3,000 new rules before Thanksgiving—the Democrats have pretended that the election didn’t happen.

Obama’s immediate response to middle- and working-class economic anxiety was a new global warming deal with China and a call to close down coal-burning power plants, both of which will destroy even more jobs. The White House followed up with a new program centered on “gender equity” in the workforce.

They learned this behavior — “pretending that the election didn’t happen — from the man at the top. Obama doubled down after the 2010 debacle, and he came out swinging at his re-innauguation with a speech devoted to More of the Same, Only Bigger. He’s the one-trick politician at the head of a one-trick party.

Great Britain: You’re No Fun Anymore

December 15th, 2014 - 7:06 am

It’s a long way down from the comedic genius of Monty Python’s “Sit On My Face” (above, mildly NSFW) to this:

Sex workers and campaigners have gathered in front of parliament to protest against changes to UK pornography regulations.

Organiser Charlotte Rose called the restrictions “ludicrous” and said they were a threat to freedom of expression.

Protesters say the list of banned activities includes “face-sitting”, and campaigners planned to carry out a mass demonstration of this while singing the Monty Python song Sit On My Face.

“These activities were added to this list without the public being made aware,” Charlotte Rose said. “They’ve done this without public knowledge and without public consent.

“There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but it’s not just about sexism, it’s about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permissions.”

There is absolutely nothing which political busybodies can’t and won’t suck all the fun out of.

(Hat tip, Glenn, who ought to be kicking himself for not going with Monty Python first!)

Extra Extra

December 15th, 2014 - 6:06 am

EXTRA

This week’s Trifecta Extra is yet another riches of embarrassment!

BONUS: I only flub my intros when we’re running late, and we were running spectacularly late.

“Elizabeth Warren Is Catching Fire”

December 15th, 2014 - 5:22 am

WARREN

The headline seemed to promise a big story about something going terribly wrong on the Senate floor, perhaps with an ill-chosen prop. But instead of a Capitol Hill horror show, we get the delightful tale of the next Great White Progressive Hope:

Progressive activists haven’t agreed on what to call the movement urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president, but they largely concur on this: With every recent anti-establishment move, the Massachusetts Democrat grows more attractive as a 2016 candidate, both in her own right and as a progressive foil for Hillary Clinton.

Such sentiments were on vivid display this week at RootsCamp, a gathering of some 2,000 progressive activists held in Washington, D.C. The event was held as Warren and others on the left have been denouncing the “cromnibus” spending bill winding its way through Congress over provisions they say are too friendly to Wall Street.

One panel at the conference, for instance, was called #HillaryProblems, and it delved into the disconnect between the Democratic establishment and the grass roots. Another was devoted to the “Draft Warren” movement, and it included members of groups such as MoveOn.org, which has pledged to spend at least $1 million to nudge the senator into the race, something she has said she won’t do.

Her mouth says No, but her firebrand eyes say Yes.

If she does run — and nobody has any real idea if she will or not — Warren would be the most outspokenly far-left candidate since George McGovern. I use the modifier “outspoken” because although she might not actually be any further to the left than President Obama, he ran a stealth campaign (which many of us on the right saw right through) based on biography rather than on ideology.

McGovern of course went on to lose roughly 57 states against Richard Nixon.

But this isn’t 1972, and two important dynamics have changed since then.

The first is that Warren wouldn’t be running against a GOP incumbent. Second — and this is the truly salient point — the Culture Wars weren’t nearly so far along, but instead were just really getting heated up. Nixon could count on his “Silent Majority” of Americans who hadn’t yet gone totally bat guano crazy, steeped in mythical tales of the War on Women, cisnormative patriarchal racism binders, and the like. And back then probably a majority of our public schools still produced graduates with enough math and civics to allow them to fully function as adult citizens.

Those days, needless to say, are over — and Warren could very well prove to be the first Marxist American to run and win as a Marxist American.

She has to want it, and she has to want it badly enough to go head-to-head against the entire Clinton Machine. But culturally the country has never been more ready for President Marxist American.

Politically? That’s the real test, and right now the Democrats are hurting. Here’s a little something from Jamelle Bouie at Slate:

As Amy Walter notes for the Cook Political Report, Democrats lost big at all levels of government, including the states. “Today,” she writes, “about 55 percent of all state legislative seats in the country are held by Republicans. That’s the largest share of GOP state legislators since the 1920s.” What’s more, “just 11 states have an all Democratic-controlled legislature,” and Democrats hold single-party control in just seven states. By contrast, “Republicans have a legislative majority in 30 states, including the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina,” and single-party control in most of the South.

This, Walter says, is a slow-moving disaster for congressional Democrats. She’s right. Absent major gains in 2016, 2018, and 2020, Democrats will be shut out of the next round of redistricting. If, she writes, “Democrats can’t get a seat at the redistricting table in 2020, they may find themselves locked out of a congressional majority for another 10 years.” And even if they do get a seat at the table, argues Greg Sargent for the Washington Post, there’s still the problem of population distribution; even in blue states, most Democratic voters are crammed in a handful of urban areas, which dilutes their strength in House elections.

If conservatives and libertarians are serious about fighting the Culture Wars which someday will produce a President Marxist American, there’s never been a better time or opportunity to launch a counteroffensive — from the states and counties first.

Friday Night Videos

December 12th, 2014 - 10:20 pm

The holiday season is really starting to impose on my Friday night blogging, so just turn up The Cars and enjoy three and a half minutes of rockin’ high school angst.

Everybody’s Wrong About Money

December 12th, 2014 - 11:37 am

Jeffrey Snider explains… nearly explains… tries to explain… what the heck Europe’s and America’s central banks have been up to since the start of the Great Recession and the Weensy Recovery:

One significant factor where I find myself in total agreement with the monetarists over at the FOMC is that “reserves” are meaningless in every context but the setting of monetary policy. This is not uncontroversial terrain, but it should be. Banking is not what most people think of it and in the modern “shadow” (wholesale is a better word, as is “eurodollar standard” for the global end of it) system there are far more important settings. The liability created by the Federal Reserve, titled “reserves”, is only a byproduct of whatever it is the Fed is trying to influence through the Open Market Desk.

That has not stopped nearly everyone from commenting on the status of reserves, especially as four successive episodes of QE followed ZIRP. At the outset, there was no end to hyperbole about how the rapid accumulation of reserves would unleash a torrent of “inflation.” Now on the other side, the conjecture has fallen to the opposite position.

So that’s where more traditional thinkers (myself included) have been wrong, at least so far. And I apologize for the lengthy excerpts, but we need even more to see the larger point:

One of the primary problems in the acute stages of panic (there were actually two phases to the panic; one began on August 9, 2007, and then flared again in September 2008 when the FOMC had already declared, as Ben Bernanke did publicly in June 2008, that the worst was behind) was the sudden and unintelligible (for orthodox economists) decline in the federal funds rate below, often significantly and durably, the Fed’s target. During the worst parts of the panic in autumn 2008, the federal funds effective rate not only fell far below target but remained there.

To answer that, the Fed began searching for ways to “drain” or “soak up” reserves. Such a task becomes even more paramount as the desperation “forces” the monetary agency down to the infamous monster of the zero lower bound (ZLB). There is not an orthodox central banker alive that does not, still, fret the ZLB. The ECB has crossed that rate Rubicon in June, and is now living with the whirlwind of having done so (it’s getting ugly).

The IOER was scheduled for launch in 2010, but was moved up to October 2008 in an attempt for the Fed to gain control of short-term interbank rates that were defying its target to the downside. By removing “excess liquidity” and locking it up at the Fed (by paying a small interest rate) the idea was that the private market for federal funds would see rates rise to where they “should” reside. They did not. This has remained a problem, spiking intermittently in the years since, throughout.

In the European version of monetary “plumbing”, the ECB offers a rate “corridor” of three primary levers. Without getting too far into the details, they essentially establish a ceiling, a midpoint and a floor by tailoring incentives and structures so that the private market “behaves.” Except that in Europe, too, the private market has not.

So the central bankers can’t get it right, either.

My takeaway from all this consists of nothing more than two small items:

• Not even the smartest people in banking can fix the bubbles and collapses created by Big Government’s perverse incentives — not even with unlimited funds and untrammeled (and largely unexamined) powers.

• Yet neither Big Government nor the Smartest People in Banking will ever give up on big government or central banking as solutions to everything.

Lather, fail, repeat.

News You Can Use

December 12th, 2014 - 10:01 am

ESCAPE VELOCITY

Florida Man has done it again:

A Florida man was arrested after he stole a front-end loader and led authorities on a chase for up to an hour-and-a-half, police say.

Donald John Clark, 32, was being held at the Pinellas County jail in St. Petersburg, Fla., on $32,000 bail for stealing a Volvo L110G — a 20-ton, $250,000 front-end loader — from a construction site Saturday before leading police on a chase that lasted over an hour.

After receiving a tip about a front-end loader being driven erratically, police attempted to pull over Clark, who ignored sirens and emergency lights. The Tampa Bay Times reports Clark hit curbs and ran stop signs as he cut through side streets and neighborhoods.

Police traced the movements of the front-end loader, which traveled at a top speed of 25 mph, but officers had few ways to stop the vehicle.

That last line is priceless, but you know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Instagram Use Surpasses Twitter

December 12th, 2014 - 8:45 am

It’s not Facebook big, or even (dare I say it?) VodkaPundit.com big — but it’s big:

Just nine months after hitting 200 million users, Instagram now says 300 million people use its photo app every month, with 70% of them coming from outside the US. That makes Instagram officially bigger than Twitter, which had 284 million active users as of six weeks ago.

Instagram’s been going strong for four years now, and despite fears that the acquisition by Facebook would screw it up, there’s now 70 million photos shared each day, and over 30 billion total. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says “Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community.”

The story came my way via John Gruber, who adds:

Instagram is clearly run by people who get what it is that makes Instagram a cool thing. Twitter seems run by people who just don’t get Twitter.

Exactly. Most of the conventions which make Twitter wonderful — the @, the RT, the #FF — were created by its early users, and not by Twitter’s creators. In other words, Twitter began as an easy-to-use and easy-to-modify social platform. What Twitter has become is a confused and impossible-to-modify web app.

That’s a shame, too. I think of Twitter as a 24-7 cocktail party, where I can flit about, enjoy fun conversation, and occasionally rub elbows with people far higher up the media food chain. I go there when I want to, and unlike some other social media platforms I could name, Twitter never bugs me when I don’t want to be there. That part still works great.

But the company has squeezed almost all the life out of the market for Twitter apps and front ends, in a shortsighted effort to homogenize the Twitter experience. The Wild West days are over; the Progressive Era has begun.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

December 12th, 2014 - 6:38 am

From Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ “cfbleachers” regarding yesterday’s “Fail” post:

Here’s a kicker for you, Steve….my partners and I have about 12 clients. (In our business that’s about as much as you can handle at a time)

5 of the 12 are healthcare related.

We deal with hospitals all over the country.

They are in deep trouble. They are forced to survive on subsidized patients with low reimbursement and they are cutting and slashing to survive. Doctors are going concierge and benefits are not available to hire and retain the best.

The “flip” side of CommunistCare is the destruction of quality…the crappy coverage that punishes “the privileged” is only a fraction of the disaster. They are crushing the hospitals in a boa constrictor squeeze.

We are working like mad to try to replace what the small c communists are destroying. You will NEVER see THIS story in Propagandaland.

I asked if he would mind if I used his comment on the main page, and he replied:

Anything I ever write to you is yours.

Hopefully we can find some additional research so I’m not sole source.

Also, I don’t know if the hospitals want this public for PR purposes. I want to help them, not hurt them as a mission.

The squeeze on reimbursement and the bloating of subsidized patient eligibility is sold as “populism”. It isn’t. It’s the dismantling of private healthcare. It is the creeping assault on the free market.

Single payer, public provider.

Large hospital systems can withstand the attack…for now. Smaller systems are getting crushed. Also depends on demographics to a degree.

If the state can control payment, it can control who gets care.

That sound you hear is the ratchet effect taking hold of you, your doctor, and your care.

Junk Food Junky

December 12th, 2014 - 5:08 am

Michelle have mercy on me.

Run Noisy, Run Pierside

December 11th, 2014 - 2:36 pm

JIN CLASS

The pucker factor on this story about China’s “first” “real” nuclear missile submarine to close to zero. But Bloomberg is treating it like a big deal, so somebody needs to provide some perspective. Here’s the fuss:

China is preparing to arm its stealthiest submarines with nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S., cloaking its arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike.

The nuclear-powered subs will probably conduct initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to an annual report to Congress submitted in November by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Deploying the vessels will burnish China’s prestige as Xi seeks to end what he calls the “cold war” mentality that resulted in U.S. dominance of Asia-Pacific security. Since coming to power, Xi has increased military spending with a focus on longer-range capacity, including plans to add to the country’s tally of a single aircraft carrier.

“For the first time in history, China’s nuclear arsenal will be invulnerable to a first strike,” said independent strategist Nicolas Giacometti, who has written analysis for The Diplomat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s the last leap toward China’s assured nuclear-retaliation capability.”

Talking about China’s “stealthiest submarines” is not much different from talking about my “most sober Saturday nights,” with the big difference being that I often go out on Saturday nights but China’s subs are usually tied up in port. And I haven’t been a noisy drunk since the early ’90s. China has yet to build a boat up to Russian standards — of the 1980s. Word is, when Chinese boats do actually make it out to sea, they’re about as stealthy as a puppy festooned with empty tin cans and tiny bells. For reasons I cannot fathom, the puppy has been trained to operate one of those canned air horns.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but Military Today reported that “the Type 094 class boats are as noisy as Soviet submarines of the 70s.”

The SSBN referred to in this story is the Type 094 or Jin-class, and Beijing is believed to have built five out of a planned five or six hulls. The first Type 094 was commissioned ten years ago, nobody seems to be able to say if it has actually completed a single deterrence patrol.

I have been unable, over the course of a long lunch, been able to find any stories about a Chinese SLBM test launch which didn’t contain the word “failed,” although the fireworks display is impressive.

So China has inexperienced crews manning noisy subs armed with failure-prone missiles.

That’s not to say China won’t someday work out all these kinks, which is why we need to build enough Virginia-class boats to keep an eye on things — and keep them out to sea long enough to make sure our crews are always, always, always the best-trained on the seven seas.

Racism: Still a Lefty Pastime

December 11th, 2014 - 1:28 pm

BARACK vs BILL

God bless the North Korean hackers for giving us a treasure trove of emails revealing what Hollywood really thinks of President Obama:

Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal and major movie producer Scott Rudin mocked President Obama’s race in the latest email exchange leaked by hackers.

“What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?” Ms. Pascal asked Mr. Rudin, referring to a breakfast hosted by DreamWorks Animation head and major Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg, Buzzfeed reported.

Mr. Rudin, known for producing blockbuster hits like “Moneyball” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” responded, “Would he like to finance some movies[?]”

“I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Ms. Pascal, a major Democratic donor, asked.

“12 YEARS,” Mr. Rudin responded, referring to the 2013 Academy Award-winner “12 Years a Slave.”

“Or the butler. Or think like a man? [sic]” Ms. Pascal replied, assuming the president’s favorite movies are ones starring black actors.

“Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart,” Mr. Rudin joked.

Hollywood seems to have more respect for America’s other first black president, who happened to be white.

She Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges

December 11th, 2014 - 12:26 pm

Hillary Rodham Clinton

On the heels of this morning’s report that security at Benghazi was a confused mess under SecState Hillary Clinton, comes this report about stonewalling at State:

The State Department has failed to turn over government documents covering Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state that The Associated Press and others requested under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act ahead of her presumptive presidential campaign. They include one request AP made four years ago and others pending for more than one year.

The agency already has missed deadlines it set for itself to turn over the material.

The State Department denied the AP’s requests, and rejected the AP’s subsequent appeals, to release the records sought quickly under a provision in the law reserved for journalists requesting federal records about especially newsworthy topics.

The fix is in.

Nice Majority You Have There…

December 11th, 2014 - 11:48 am

…it would be a shame if anything was to happen to it.

That’s the GOP’s Senate position going into 2016, because it closely mirrors the Democrats’ position this year. The Crystal Ball’s Kyle Kondik explains:

Republicans find themselves in almost the same position Democrats did four years ago, when the 2012 election cycle was taking shape. The GOP is defending 24 seats, while the Democrats only need to protect 10. The 2016 map is also the product of not just one previous big Republican victory, but two. In 2010, the last time this Senate class was contested, Republicans netted six seats. And six years before that, in 2004, Republicans netted four seats.

It gets worse:

All 10 current Democratic seats are in states that President Obama won in 2012 by at least five points, and only two of those states — Colorado and Nevada — are swing states in a competitive presidential election.

Meanwhile, of the 24 states the Republicans are defending, Obama won seven in 2012: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Additionally, Republicans are defending North Carolina, which Obama won in 2008 and only lost by two points in 2012. [Emphasis in original]

18 months of playing it (mostly) safe, followed by a sane Senate GOP primary process, and a strong Presidential nominee with some coattails — that’s all it should take to maintain, maybe even build on, the current majority.

But I’m afraid we’ll get the “safe” part, which is also the most distasteful part, along with a Akin or two to tarnish the party, and a milquetoast presidential nominee — and my liver can’t handle a repeat of 2012.

Neither can the country.

Ships with Frickin Laser Beams

December 11th, 2014 - 10:26 am

LAWS

The Navy’s ship-deployed laser we talked about last month has been deployed on the USS Ponce — and tested, too. And it works:

The Navy announced that it had deployed and fired a laser weapon this fall aboard a warship in the Persian Gulf. During a series of test shots, the laser hit and destroyed targets mounted atop a small boat, blasted a six-foot drone from the sky, and destroyed other moving targets.

“This is the first time in recorded history that a directed energy weapons system has ever deployed on anything,” Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, told reporters at the Pentagon. “A lot of people talk about it—we decided to go do it.”

It was built cheap, using lots of COTS parts — a rare instance of our procurement system working as advertised.

Ready to Be a Late President on Day One

December 11th, 2014 - 9:12 am

HILLARY OOPS

This doesn’t look good:

The guard force at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in such disarray prior to the 2012 terrorist attack that the security status there was described as an “emergency” just three hours before the assault that left four Americans dead, according to State Department emails.

The emails also suggest the security contractor responsible for protecting State Department personnel there did not have a valid operating license.

“These documents show the situation in terms of security was toxic on September 11, 2012,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Fox News. Judicial Watch obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

“The State Department didn’t know what to do about security, all this was happening literally hours before the attack,” he said.

This was all on Hillary Clinton’s watch, yes?

Screech-Haw

December 11th, 2014 - 8:58 am

One great lady? You make the call!

Thought for the Day

December 11th, 2014 - 7:02 am

Required Listening

December 11th, 2014 - 6:18 am

Heavy metal Christmas carols with vocals by…

Christopher Lee?

That’s right: Christopher Lee.

My holidays are officially happy.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

December 11th, 2014 - 5:06 am

WAPO

I had to screencap the headline before someone at WaPo with an ounce of sense changes it. It’s right up there with, “Brick-like object held outside office window, yet somehow falls to ground when released.”

Here’s the text from WaPo “Wonkblog” writer Jason Millman:

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is facing a new threat from an unlikely source: the law itself.

An additional 9.1 million Americans have been added to the Medicaid rolls in the year since the program expanded under Obamacare. But a scheduled cut in Medicaid payments — built into the law — could steer doctors away from taking new patients covered the program.

That’s because a temporary payment bump to Medicaid primary care doctors, included in the Affordable Care Act, is likely to expire at the end of the year. That will mean an average payment cut of 42.8 percent to Medicaid primary care doctors next year, according to a new Urban Institute analysis.

The federal Medicaid reimbursement to doctors vary by state, but they’re lower than the rates paid by private insurers and the Medicare program.

“Unlikely!” That takes a lot of nerve, even for a wankblogger.

Fact is, even without the bump, Medicaid doesn’t pay doctors as well as private insurance does. So the “surprise!” for a wankblogger is that when doctors lost privately insured patients due to ♡bamaCare!!!’s narrower networks, and have boatloads of new Medicaid expansion customers showing up, then somehow, mysteriously, doctors get paid less money.

Gosh, it’s almost like math or something.

Everything we on the right said about ♡bamaCare!!! has come to pass, and yet the Wankblog goes right on as before as each new “revelation” (predicted by the right well in advance) comes true.

Heads should roll, but instead “explanatory journalism” will go on.

And on.

And on.

I had to see it to believe it.

More from WFB:

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin that the CIA should “absolutely” issue an apology after Tuesday’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation techniques.

Speier said she was “shocked” by the report and said “that is not what this country is about. We have got to shut this down.”

“Every single page had something in the executive summary that shocked me,” Speier said.

Unbefuckinglievable, if you’ll pardon my English

An Iranian Fighter Explains…

December 10th, 2014 - 2:30 pm

It’s a shame “Required Reading” has been done already today, because otherwise this would be it. War Is Boring features a partial republication of an interview with Sayyed Hassan Entezari, an Iranian fighter for Syria’s Assad regime. Entezari was injured an paralyzed in the fighting, and offers what WIB calls “rare insight into the proxy fighters’ beliefs and motives.”

Read:

[Assad] was the one who protected the resistance line in the region and established a connecting bridge between Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. What Arab country do you know that has provided such a connection for Iran? Syria even supported Iran during the war, even if they [Syria’s leaders] were members of the Ba’ath Party.

Hafez Al Assad [Bashar’s father] stayed beside Iran, even though he was a member of the Ba’ath party. All Arab states embargoed Iran during the war, but it was Hafez Al Assad who stayed beside Iran. We got most of our weaponry through Hafez Al Assad. Nobody can deny this support from Al Assad. He was a supporter of Iran and when this war and intrigue happened to them, how could we abandon them and not support them?

So one of the reasons why we are supporting them is because they supported us during the war and now they are our ally in the region.
Iran made an innovation in Syria. It looked at the situation rationally. Foreigners were saying that Bashar must go and they didn’t care about the people or the regime.

But Iran said that the regime should be preserved, but it needed some reforms, which included some elements in their constitution and their political structure. In this regard, Iran gave consultations about to how elect the president by the people and through a democracy.

In this way, Iran gave political legitimacy to the Syrian regime and Bashar Al Assad, and told the opposition, ‘The president that you claim has no political support has been elected by the people.’

I know it’s a long excerpt, but it captures the mix of hard fact and fantasy which frames war and civics in the Middle East. To combat believers like Entezari and thugs like Assad and Rouhani, Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom has decided that in the spring we will begin the process of locating rebel factions suitable for months-long training and equipping to fight Assad and his Iranian patrons.

That’s assuming we can find suitable rebel factions, and that they remain suited to our interests after having received our training and equipment. Meanwhile, it’s a safe bet that our would-be friends in Syria suffer from religious and geopolitical delusions much like Entezari’s, if somewhat more to our liking.

You know, for now.

Bob Kerrey, the CIA, and the Truth About Torture

December 10th, 2014 - 1:52 pm

This is from the former Democratic Senator’s editorial in USA Today:

I will wait until I have fully read and considered Tuesday’s report to enter the debate over whether the CIA handled interrogation of detainees in an appropriate manner. Thanks to the 2005 and 2006 efforts of Senator John McCain I do not have to wait to be certain our interrogation policies and procedures are aligned with our core values.

I also do not have to wait to know we are fighting a war that is different than any in our country’s past. The enemy does not have an easy to identify and analyze military. In the war against global jihadism, human intelligence and interrogation have become more important, and I worry that the partisan nature of this report could make this kind of collection more difficult.

I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.

I have doubts about the efficacy of what we’ve come to call “enhanced interrogation.” I also have doubts that it meets the historical measure of torture — we’re not binding feet with the kia quen, breaking backs on the wheel, or forcing prisoners to sit on the Judas cradle. (If you’re unfamiliar with any of these, an unpleasant visit to Wikipedia will provide more education than you might want.) What we have done, and continue to do despite promises from Senator and later President Obama, is engage in psychological torture — sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and the like. Let’s be honest with ourselves though and admit that while these “enhanced” techniques might not measure up to what many or most people would call torture, they certainly count as abuse.

Do these methods work? It’s impossible to tell from the “report” issued yesterday, but fair-minded opinions differ fairly.

I don’t worry about the so-called “rights” of those who have set aside the rules of war, and even their own humanity, pursuing the nihilistic slaughter of innocents. If it’s destruction they want, it’s destruction we should bring them.

There is however a legitimate complaint with the longterm abuse of captured jihadis, although it has nothing to do with the jihadis themselves. I worry instead about the corrosive effects such acts have on the honorable American men and women we have tasked with fighting this war. If a jihadi is in possession of actionable intelligence, it likely won’t remain actionable for long. I would find it preferable, if still distasteful, to get whatever information he has — or not to get it — followed by a quick execution. If there’s doubt as to whether the captive is actually a jihadi, let him go. If he’s captured a second time, all doubt should be removed — followed by a quick execution.

If a firing squad seems to good for them, it’s still in line with our values, and in line with our treaty commitments under the Geneva Conventions.

The rest frankly, I don’t lose any sleep over. I see little need however to continue a policy which might on occasion produce actionable intelligence, but more often seems to provide little other than propaganda coups for jihadis, Progressives, and others who despise American power.

Beijing’s Getting Serious

December 10th, 2014 - 12:43 pm

J-31

It’s nice having an air force with lots of modern jets and Soviet-style training, provided you like having great numbers of your jets crash during peacetime or get shot down during wartime. China however is moving away from that model:

China is revising its combat pilot training program. Until recently this took ten years of academic and flight training. The new program cuts that to 5-7 years, while increasing flight hours by over 40 percent. This is more in line with Western methods, while the older system owes more to the one the Russians developed during the Cold War. The new system puts more emphasis on trainee pilots demonstrating combat flying skills before they can graduate. Cold War era Russian aircraft designs, like the MiG-21/J-7, were not designed for the heavy use required for Western style pilot training.

The new training program is actually an evolution of the need for new training methods to prepare pilots to handle the more modern aircraft. Training for pilots of these new fighters has been more intense than for any previous aircraft. In addition, China is also holding training exercises directed at fighting other modern fighters, like those flown by Taiwan, Japan, and the United States.

Tell me again why we capped F-22 production at a mere 187 planes, then shut down the lines to ensure production could never be restarted?

It Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Cartel

December 10th, 2014 - 11:38 am

Whoops:

The Opec oil cartel no longer exists in any meaningful sense and crude prices will slump to $50 a barrel over the coming months as market forces shake out the weakest producers, Bank of America has warned.

Revolutionary changes sweeping the world’s energy industry will drive down the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), creating a “multi-year” glut and a much cheaper source of gas for Europe.

Francisco Blanch, the bank’s commodity chief, said Opec is “effectively dissolved” after it failed to stabilize prices at its last meeting. “The consequences are profound and long-lasting,“ he said.

The only ones who seem to benefit from cheap energy are actual consumers. Why they — we! — aren’t everyone’s primary concern when talking about energy prices, I have no idea.

I’m kidding, of course. I mean, somebody has to pay for all the Saudi palaces and Russian invasions and “green energy” boondoggles — and it certainly isn’t going to be the Saudi princes or Russian adventurers or politically-connected Democrats.

“Established by the State…”

December 10th, 2014 - 10:30 am

GRUBER

Pretty simple words in the headline, quoted from several of ♡bamaCare!!!’s 2,000-plus pages — and yet Peter Suderman must explain for Jonathan Gruber why Gruber meant what he meant when he said what he said about ♡bamaCare!!! subsidies and state exchanges:

Nor does he raise the possibility that the federal government might fail to set up an exchange in the other recording. In that recorded speech, he says that “if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.” Again, he’s not saying, “if your governor doesn’t set up the exchange and the federal government also doesn’t set up an exchange.” He’s just saying that this is the result of a state not building its own exchange.

Gruber’s suggestion that he was thinking that the federal government might fail to create an exchange is also odd given that the federal government is required by law to do so if a state does not. Asked about this requirement today by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Gruber claimed not to recall the exact details of what the law entails. That’s tough to believe given that Gruber spent years as a high-profile, well-paid consultant to states considering setting up their own exchanges. But even if he does not remember the details now, it is even harder to believe that Gruber did not know about this requirement back in 2012, when he was in the midst of exchange-relaed consulting work for multiple states.

Finally, Gruber admitted that he has come up with this explanation for what he must have been trying to say entirely after the fact. While “thinking about how I could have made that statement, I believe that’s what I had in mind,” he said today. This is an explicit admission that he’s rationalizing his prior statement in order to fit with what he now believes.

What Gruber is hoping is that the GOP Congress is as “stupid” as the Democrat voters he helped to dupe in 2009-10, and continues to try and dupe.

Good luck with that.