Dana Milbank, opining in today’s WaPo on the IRS’s Targetgate:
The president “found out about the news reports yesterday on the road,” he added.
And now that Obama has learned about this extraordinary abuse of power, he’s not doing a thing about it. “We are not involved at the White House in any decisions made in connection with ongoing criminal investigations,” Carney argued.
Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason asked how Obama felt about “being compared to President Nixon on this.”
The press secretary laughed. “People who make those kinds of comparisons need to check their history,” he said.
Carney had a point there. Nixon was a control freak. Obama seems to be the opposite: He wants no control over the actions of his administration.
First, I’d like to apologize for having even thought of, much less typed out “Targetgate.” And secondly I’d like to say that when a Vile Prog has lost Dana Milbank, then you can safely bet this is the scandal that will cleave the MSM from being permanently on its knees for Obama.
But now let’s get to the meat.
Milbank is having a little fun here at the President’s expense, and he certainly sounds like he’s upset over the whole thing — but he hasn’t really thought this one through.
“Plausible deniability” is called that because the deniability is plausible, not because it’s true. The President doth protest too much, don’t you think? But even if Obama really is so far out of the loop on this one (and all the other ones), this Administration certainly enjoys a Nixonian tone. And where that tone comes from is the question Milbank hasn’t asked. But anyone who has ever worked for a large organization (a major newsdaily, just as an example) knows that underlings take their cues from the top. The Boss doesn’t have to say, “Bug these particular reporters at this particular news organization.” But he shouldn’t have to, either. People know what the Big Boss likes — particularly when it comes to the nasty bits.
So when Milbank writes that Obama “wants no control over the actions of his administration,” he’s really taking on Jay Carney’s job of providing public cover for Obama, even if this once it’s minus the lip service. Carney needs to paint a picture of a clueless President, just for appearances sake, because that’s his job. He’s Obama’s press flack, and a particularly offensive one at that. Milbank is a political reporter and columnist at the newspaper that brought down Nixon. There’s a difference between the two, or at least there’s supposed to be.
Instead, Milbank seems to have bought fully into Carney’s excuses that everyone in the Executive Branch is lawless — except for the President himself.
Really? That’s an awful lot of deniability you have to find plausible, month after month, in a series of crises spiraling up in number and in seriousness.
Repeating Carney’s talking points is still repeating Carney’s talking points, even if it’s done with Milbank’s knowing sneer. He should instead be asking the tough questions about why Obama seems content to be a passerby in his own Administration. Because either we have another President who is every bit much as power-hungry and vindictive as Nixon, or we have a thuggish community organizer who has been way out of his depth since Day One.
Which is it, Dana?
White House Press Weasel Jay Carney today in that squirmingly awful press briefing today says he believes in an “unfettered” press. But, you know, with exception. Like when the Attorney General’s office has to tap the phones at AP. So I have some questions for Carney, and I’d like to see at least one or two of these get picked up by some sharp White House Steno Pool reporter.
That’s the Drudge headline above. Here’s the story:
The division of the Internal Revenue Service that improperly scrutinized the tax-exempt status of conservative groups sent confidential information on 31 conservative groups to the well-funded liberal nonprofit journalism organization ProPublica, according to a revelation made by ProPublica Monday.
“The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year,” according to the ProPublica report.
Breitbart was right; this is war.
Larry Connors, a veteran local news anchor at KMOV Channel 4 in St. Louis, says that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting him since an April 2012 interview he conducted with President Obama — a fact that he dismissed as coincidence until the recent reports about the IRS targeting conservative groups.
“Shortly after I did my April 2012 interview with President Obama, my wife, friends and some viewers suggested that I might need to watch out for the IRS. I don’t accept ‘conspiracy theories’, but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me,” Connors wrote on his Facebook page late Monday night.
Connors did not specify how the IRS has been “hammering” him. He did not immediately respond to a request for calrification.
Keep spinning, Politico. Keep spinning — you may get your Savior out of this yet. But don’t count on it.
Incidentally, Connor is a St. Louis institution. He’s been anchoring the news there at least since I was in middle school, and I have zero clue what his politics are or might be. You know, the way it’s supposed to be done. The idea that the IRS would go after him in this way is offensive and just a little frightening.
Scandal politics are sweeping Capitol Hill.
Just days after news broke that the IRS targeted conservative nonprofits, Speaker John Boehner’s House committees will morph into mock courtrooms where the White House will be the defendant in what amounts to a number of high-stakes political trials.
Hearings? No. It’s a kangaroo court of “political trials” held in “mock courtrooms” with Obama in the docket, because wimpy little Republicans can’t stand a little targeting by the IRS in what amounts to nothing more than just “scandal politics.”
[REDACT] you, Politico. [REDACT] you.
Your Department of Homeland Security hard at work, uh, securitamatizing the homeland and stuff:
Boston and Massachusetts law enforcement officials confirmed Thursday that federal agents left them in the dark on the growing warning signs about Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the run-up to the Boston Marathon bombing.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, in testimony on Capitol Hill, said his officers on a joint terrorism task force were never told about an explicit warning from the Russian government or about Tsarnaev’s travel to the Chechnya region last year. Davis said he would have liked to have known about that activity, and that it “absolutely” would have merited a second look at Tsarnaev.
Davis and Massachusetts homeland security official Kurt Schwartz testified that their officers were not looped in on Tsarnaev until after the bombing.
“At no time prior to the bombings did any member of the Massachusetts State Police or the fusion center have any information or knowledge about the Tsarnaev brothers,” Schwartz said.
The Russians knew. Maybe the Saudis knew. DHS knew something, but did nothing.
Heads should roll for this one, but good luck with that.
So China’s economy might not overtake the US by 2030 after all. Or even in the 21st Century. Here’s why:
China’s catch-up spurt has a few more years to run in the Western hinterlands perhaps, but when the full story comes out we may find that nationwide growth has already fallen below 7pc.
Mr Li complained in a US diplomatic cable released on WikiLeaks that Chinese GDP statistics are “man-made”, confiding to a US diplomat that he tracked electricity use, rail cargo, and bank loans to gauge growth. For a while, analysts use electricity data as a proxy for GDP but the commissars kept a step ahead by ordering power utilities to fiddle the figures.
The National Bureau of Statistics has since revealed that data collected by the regions overstates GDP by 10pc, though they have not acted on the insight. It is well-known why this goes on. The reward system of the Communist hierarchy has been geared to talking up growth, and officials gain kudos by lowering the stated “energy intensity” of their zone.
China’s Development Research Council (DRC) expects growth to drop to 6pc by 2020. It could be much lower. The US Conference Board says it will average 3.7pc from 2019-2025 as the ageing crisis hits. Michael Pettis from Beijing University thinks it is likely to slow to 3pc to 4pc over the next decade, deeming this entirely desirable if it comes from taming the runaway state enterprises.
There’s also an assumption here that China isn’t in the midst of a bubble — which must eventually pop. And when Beijing runs out of money to prop up the SOEs, then a secondary, but larger, bubble will also pop.
We have our own problems — deep, structural problems. And our own asset and housing bubbles to deal with, too. But we have institutionalized revolutions staggered every two, four, and six years, which gives us a resiliency China’s one-party state lacks.
And if you think I mean to imply that things could get really very quite ugly in China…
It’s Matt Welch talking about the Republican batter over libertarianism. And I can tell you, I’ve been caught in this crossfire and Welch is mostly spot-on with this one.
This is from CNN’s interview with Charles Ramsey after he helped save Amanda Berry from ten years of rape and imprisonment:
Since the events of Monday afternoon in Cleveland, Ramsey seems to largely reject the hero worship heaped upon him. Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the suddenly famous man again eschewed the label, telling the anchor his action were simple common decency:
“No, no, no. Bro, I’m a Christian, an American, and just like you. We bleed same blood, put our pants on the same way. It’s just that you got to put that – being a coward, and I don’t want to get in nobody’s business. You got to put that away for a minute.”
During the interview, Cooper mentioned a reward offered by the FBI for information leading to the whereabouts of Amanda Berry, but Charles Ramsey seemed wholly uninterested — in fact, he believes any money offered should go not to him, but to Berry:
“I tell you what you do, give [the reward] to them. Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway. Just went picked it up, paycheck.”
What a man.
All that money Uncle Ben is printing has to go somewhere, and last month oodles of it went to China:
China’s central bank signaled on Wednesday it was prepared to change its monetary strategy to fend off inflows of speculative capital, as Beijing struggles to control a tide of cash washing in from overseas markets.
The move came as April exports blew past expectations, which appeared on the surface to indicate that both China’s economy and global demand were on the mend. But economists were quick to suspect the figures were artificially inflated by investors who were disguising speculative bets on the yuan currency as trade payments.
Little is what it seems in China, until it turns out to be exactly what you suspected.
Hat tip to Toadold for forwarding news of big changes coming to Microsoft’s “incremental” Windows 8.1 release:
“Key aspects” of how the software is used will be changed when Microsoft releases an updated version of the operating system this year, Tami Reller, head of marketing and finance for the Windows business, said in an interview with the Financial Times. Referring to difficulties many users have had with mastering the software, she added: “The learning curve is definitely real.”
Analysts warned that changing course would be a significant admission of failure for Steve Ballmer, chief executive, who called the October launch of Windows 8 a “bet-the-company” moment as Microsoft sought to respond to the success of Apple’s iPad.
You don’t beat your competitors by copying them — weirdly. And consumers have responded, or not responded, appropriately. The 8.1 retreat isn’t exactly Bill Gates’ famous “Internet Tidal Wave” memo, but it is a slap in the face to Steve Ballmer.
Now the article does go on to praise Ballmer for at least (and I’d add: At last!) embracing risk-taking and innovation in Redmond. But Win8 specifically, and “Windows Everywhere” generally, have done nothing to help Microsoft in mobile, and might have actually hurt them on the desktop.
I’m pretty sure they’re already on the endangered species list, but this news won’t help replenish their numbers:
After mentioning on Twitter that the newly announced Star Wars games from DICE and Visceral will be running on DICE’s powerful Frostbite 3 engine, Andersson responded to a reader concern that this will mean the games will not be available for the Wii U.
“[Frostbite 3] has never been running on WiiU,” Andersson tweeted. “We did some tests with not too promising results with [Frostbite 2] & chose not to go down that path.”
This statement follows a Eurogamer interview from March’s Game Developers Conference in which DICE’s Patrick Bach admitted DICE “could probably make a Wii U game in theory” but said the company is not currently interested in devoting “development time” to the system. “To make the most out of the Wii U, that’s a different game because of the different peripherals. We want to utilize all the power of each console… It’s about ‘where do you put your focus?’ And the Wii U is not a part of our focus right now.”
So it’s not just a question of focus but a question of performance.
“Underpowered” was cute for the original Wii, which Nintendo was able to sell at a profit from the very first unit. But the company’s ambitions were much bigger for the Wii U — which doesn’t appear to be up to the task.
Benghazi was a long time ago, and what difference does it make?
Of course the Pentagon is planning for Syria — planning is what they do there. They probably have a plan in a filing cabinet somewhere for invading New Zealand. But now they’re talking about Syria outside the building:
The Pentagon is stepping up plans to deal with a dangerous regional spillover from Syria’s possible collapse—a scenario it had recently seen as remote—drawing up proposals including a Jordanian buffer zone for refugees secured by Arab troops, said U.S. officials familiar with the discussion.
The plans seek to minimize direct U.S. involvement, but they reflect a reassessment of the Pentagon’s hands-off approach. The shift comes after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s trip last month to the Middle East, during which Arab leaders appealed for the U.S. to focus on the danger of Syria’s disintegration into warring sectarian fiefdoms.
“The Syria message was loud and strong,” said a senior diplomat briefed on Mr. Hagel’s trip. “Everybody’s scared. And nobody knows what the hell we are going to do there.”
I’m pretty sure that last assessment includes the White House.
When I’m holding my third generation iPad, I often wish it were my older son’s iPad mini. The eight-inch screen isn’t too much smaller, but the weight saving is spectacular. It also requires less elbow room on the airplane, which is no small thing (pun intended). But when I’m toying around with Preston’s mini, I usually find myself wishing I had the bigger display.
The question I guess is how Apple implements Retina in the mini.
One is simply to shrink the iPad’s ten-inch, 2,048-by-1,536 pixel screen down to 8 inches. Developers would love it, because then there would be only one iPad image size to worry about, and Apple would get some new bragging rights with an even more glorious-to-look-at screen.
But it presents a couple of problems, too. First, that pixel density would be extremely expensive and difficult to produce. Apple got hammered for lower profit margins last quarter, which was due in large part to the lower-margin mini cannibalizing sales from the full-size iPad. That pixel density comes with another cost, too: Battery. Pixels packed that tightly require a much brighter backlight. And that means sacrificing either battery life or tablet size. The former is a big no-no to Apple’s way of thinking, and the latter takes the “mini” out of “iPad mini.”
The other way to achieve Retina density would be to produce the exact same panel used in the full-size iPad, but cut down to mini proportions. “Retina” is determined by pixel density in a given space at a given distance, not by total pixel count. My back-of-the-envelope math says this new mini screen would have a narrow-side resolution of about 1,000 pixels — which is nearly “1080p” worthy. Apple would also gain some very nice economies of scale, since they’d only have to produce one kind of iPad panel, but merely cut into two different sizes.
The problem with this route is that “nearly.” Nearly HD ain’t HD, which seems a ridiculous compromise to make on an eight-inch tablet — especially when there are five-inch phones that display 1080. Also, 1,350 x 1,000 or whatever pixels is just a weird size.
Then there’s what I’m calling in my head, “1080p Plus.” The iPad (correctly) uses a 4:3 screen, just like an old lo-def TV. So what if Apple made the wide-side resolution exactly 1,920 — just like a new HD TV. But then there’s all that extra leg room at the bottom, for a narrow-side resolution of about 1,400…
Wait… 1,920-by-1,400 is almost identical to the big iPad’s 2,048-by-1,536. And it doesn’t make any sense at all to produce two completely different (yet equally expensive) LCD panels. The economies of scale just don’t add up.
Best guess: The Retina Mini will have the exact same resolution as the ten-incher. If Apple can pull of that feat without sacrificing weight, size, or battery life, they’ll have achieved something I would have thought was impossible just a year or two ago.
Bill Gates on the iPad:
Bill Gates took to CNBC today to pitch Microsoft’s line of Surface tablets, and he had some choice words for Apple’s iPad and similar tablets. “A lot of those users are frustrated,” said Gates. “They can’t type, they can’t create documents, they don’t have Office there.”
Uh-huh. Apple has sold more iPads since their introduction in 2010, than Microsoft has sold Tablet PC licenses since 2002. By a factor of ten. Or maybe 100. Could be 1,000. Nobody can really say, because nobody has ever really bought very many.
So Microsoft re-thunked up its tablet strategy, and introduced the Surface RT and the Surface Pro with Windows 8 for Finger, Stylus, Keyboard, Trackpad, and Mouse. But nobody bought those, either. Microsoft has shipped a few million to retailers since last fall, and perhaps sold a million to actual users — or about what Apple sells on the first day or three after they bring out a new iPad.
Tell me again now: Who is frustrated?