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I Did Not Sea that Coming

August 21st, 2014 - 11:07 am



There are a lot of things in space, but terrestrial sea plankton was not one of them –at least, so we thought. Yet traces of the microorganisms were found on the windows of the International Space Station, as reported by Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency.

Experiments had previously shown that microorganisms such as bacteria are capable of surviving in space, and, further, propagating endospores — but sea plankton is certainly a new discovery, Vladimir Solovyev, chief of the Russian ISS orbital mission, told the news agency.

“The results of this experiment are absolutely unique,” he said. “We have found traces of sea plankton and microscopic particles on the illuminator [window] surface. This should be studied further.”

Life, as Dr. Ian Malcolm says, finds a way.

Americans Love a Winner

August 21st, 2014 - 10:19 am


There’s hope for this country yet.

Meet Israel’s Doomsday Boats

August 21st, 2014 - 9:47 am


Don’t ƒ¨¢% with the Jews:

Right now, three Dolphin II-class submarines are under construction at Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems shipyards in Kiel. Once the submarines complete their trials and head towards the Mediterranean, they will become the most powerful Israeli submarines ever.

More than 225 feet long, the diesel-electric Dolphin II class is part attack submarine, part nuclear strike ship and part commando taxi.

They’re also painted in an unusual combination of black, blue and green colors. That’s “meant to make the ship less visible, and thought to be especially effective in Mediterranean waters,” Defense News noted after recently publishing new photographs of the fat, oddly-shaped boats in dry dock and on sea trials.

The most serious part comes further down in the story:

Although not admitted by the Israeli government, the Dolphin II is widely believed to soon possess nuclear-tipped Popeye Turbo cruise missiles. The submarine’s armament includes non-nuclear anti-ship Harpoon and anti-helicopter Triton missiles.

That’s a lot of hurt for the bad guys packed into one boat — and Israel is buying three of them.

Sign “O” the Times

August 21st, 2014 - 8:37 am


Here we go again:

Borrowers with shaky credit histories? A rush to fill out paperwork to facilitate loans for them? Bundling pools of those loans and selling them to investors? No, this is not the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008. This is the sub-prime auto loan business of 2014. Since 2009, total auto loan securitizations have surged 150 percent, to $17.6 billion last year. And the securities contain loans made to consumers with sub-prime credit.

Now the other shoe may have dropped. Credit reporting service Experian reveals that delinquencies and repossessions are rising, primarily driven by borrowers who would be classified as subprime and deep subprime. While Experian says this uptick is to be expected as the industry sells more vehicles, some are already saying a bubble in subprime auto loans may already be here.

The broke will be forced to bail out the incompetent for lending to the insolvent — again.

Required Reading

August 21st, 2014 - 7:29 am

Thomas Sowell on Ferguson:

We all know what has happened since then — and it has been a complete disgrace by politicians, the media and mobs of rioters and looters. Despite all the people who act as if they know exactly what happened, nevertheless when the full facts come out, that can change everything.

This is why we have courts of law, instead of relying on the media or mobs. But politics is undermining law.

That’s been precisely the goal for a very long time.

Read the whole thing.

Wargaming November

August 21st, 2014 - 6:26 am


This week’s column is now up on the PJM homepage.

Texas Two-Step

August 21st, 2014 - 5:18 am

Required Reading

August 20th, 2014 - 2:14 pm

What the coach of the losing team in the Little League World Series said to his players after their tough loss — just click it and read it already.

So Long Syria

August 20th, 2014 - 9:46 am

Carol E. B. Choksy and Jamsheed K. Choksy:

It’s time to accept that the Syrian Arab Republic established in 1946 is no more. In its place totter small regions with constantly fluctuating communal and geographical boundaries. Within those temporary enclaves, some leaders attempt to maintain or expand influence by force and ideology; others try to do so by bringing safety, food, shelter, and fuel to people caught up in havoc. Rebels of disparate religious, political, and ethnic shades—some backed by Saudi and Gulf Arab money, others inspired by nationalistic ideologies—shuffle the conflagration and the persons caught up in it back and forth as they fight to the bitter end against the Syrian army and militias like Hezbollah, who are buttressed by Iranian and Russian resources. Yet all sides are losing, for stability is gone in Syria and from there instability is rippling outward.

Anybody with eyes and the willingness to look could see this coming. Here’s what I wrote last year concerning a book I read in the last last century:

Although the same nations still officially exist along the crescent from Marrakech to Baghdad, those borders mean less than they once did. The place we still call Syria might soon devolve into more political entities than are now extant in the entire region. Not too far away, Somalia is already three places, one of which is barely a place. Neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea went their separate ways in the ’90s, but still haven’t been able to figure out who gets the house and who gets the kids. Sudan is now Sudan and South Sudan — and yet the fighting over the new border hasn’t stopped. West Africa was never as tidy as it appears on the map, and is getting messier all the time.

It’s true the Black Africa and Arab Africa are special cases, with borders drawn decades ago by outsiders, with zero acknowledgement of “facts on the ground.” But now that these centrifugal forces have been set loose, they’re becoming more and more difficult to control.

IS/Caliphate is one of the results of those centrifugal forces. Whether it can survive the chaos it feeds on and also helps create remains to be seen.

Sign “O” the Times

August 20th, 2014 - 8:40 am

Edward Lazear writes that while the job market has “improved significantly” since the end of the Great Recession, it’s also “far” from recovered:

Reductions in employment during recessions come about primarily because the hiring rate declines, not because layoffs pick up. It is easy to cut employment to recession levels simply by a freeze in hiring for a month or two. It is the number of hires that tells us how close we are to getting back to pre-recession levels.

The data released last week showed that hires reached 4.8 million in June, the highest since February 2008.

This is good news. During the recession and first three years of the recovery, hires averaged about 4.2 million per month.

Nevertheless, before the 2007 recession began, hiring peaked at 5.5 million per month and averaged 5.1 million a month from 2000 through 2007.

The labor force is larger now, so more hires are needed, specifically about 5.2 million in the average month. We are just past the halfway point in getting hiring back to normal levels.

After five years of “recovery.”

The Practical Side of Star Wars

August 20th, 2014 - 7:33 am


Most encouraging Star Wars news I’ve read since George Lucas sold his franchise:

As if videos from the set of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars movie featuring live-action alien costumes and full-scale X-Wing Fighters haven’t been enough of a clue, Rian Johnson, who will pick up the franchise after Abrams, says Star Wars: Episode VII will feature more practical, traditional effects.

“They’re doing so much practical building for this one. It’s awesome,” Johnson said on the latest Girls in Hoodies podcast. “I think people are coming back around to [practical effects]. It feels like there is sort of that gravity pulling us back toward it. I think that more and more people are hitting kind of a critical mass in terms of the CG-driven action scene lending itself to a very specific type of action scene, where physics go out the window and it becomes so big so quick.”

This goes right back to a conversation we had in this space just last May:

Up until, and I guess including Jurassic Park, Hollywood could drop our jaws with only the special effects. Something really new might come along every once in a great while like the wire work from The Matrix, but once the computers took over we became jaded pretty quickly. We used to marvel at practical special effects, because some smart and talented people had to figure out a means to make something jaw-dropping happen, really happen, in front of a camera. Now the computer artists just draw it, if you’ll allow me to oversimplify the amazing work that they can do. But we’ll never again wonder, “How did they do that?”

Maybe Star Wars will bring back some of the wonder.

Up-Armored Law Enforcement

August 20th, 2014 - 6:02 am

In which I bring together Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians and conspiracy nuts and the White House and pretty much everybody who doesn’t suck.

News You Can Use

August 20th, 2014 - 5:12 am


You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Oh, who am I kidding — that is awesome with a capital AWE.

It Just Isn’t California’s Day

August 19th, 2014 - 2:22 pm


Decade, really. On top of this morning’s story that the Golden State’s recovery is already tarnished, we have this item out of LA:

From buckling sidewalks to potholed thoroughfares to storm drains that can’t handle a little rain, the infrastructure that holds the second-largest U.S. city together is suffering from years of deferred maintenance. Bringing pipes that deliver water to 3.9 million people up to snuff could cost $4 billion — more than half the city’s annual operating budget. The bill for repaving streets will be almost that much, according to estimates from a city consultant, and patching or replacing cracked sidewalks will require $640 million.

City Council members recently gave up on a proposal to ask voters for a sales-tax increase to finance street and sidewalk repairs, and Mayor Eric Garcetti has ruled out raising water rates anytime soon to upgrade pipelines.

“We’re in trouble,” said Jack Humphreville, the budget advocate for L.A.’s advisory neighborhood councils. His estimate, based on figures provided by the city, is that getting public works into good shape will take $10 billion to $15 billion. “This is no different from debt.”

Councilman Mitchell Englander added, “We can’t tax our way out of this,” since Los Angeles already has one of the highest sales taxes in the nation, and that’s on top of the state’s income tax, which is also among the nation’s highest.

California has trouble keeping the water inside the pipes, but they’ve got the money to build high-speed passenger rail connecting Palmdale to Merced.

Bad governance sucks.

The Hillary-Madonna Axis

August 19th, 2014 - 2:16 pm

Local reporters are making hay about the former SecState’s royal ways. Here’s Jon Ralston in Las Vegas:

We don’t have kings and queens in America, or at least we shouldn’t. But when I see the red carpet UNLV is rolling out for Hillary Clinton in two months I start to wonder. Unless you’re a mindless partisan, the details of that contract with the UNLV Foundation should disturb you. They were uncovered, as I said by the RJ’s Lara Myers, and published over the weekend. The contract reads as if Hillary is being given the, yes, royal treatment. Now it is bad enough that the UNLV Foundation folks agreed to that outrageous $225,000 fee as students struggle to make ends meet.

Hillary can’t seem to decide if she’s running against President Obama or with him, and her behavior indicates she might not be running — or that she’s entirely too out of touch to be running at all.

Most celebrities have a limited shelf life. A few do manage to age with as much grace and glamour as they began with — I’m thinking now of some of the old school greats like Lauren Bacall and Cary Grant. Kevin Costner is sticking mostly with age-appropriate roles, as is Helen Mirren. Neither is allowing their personal lives to detract from their public personas. There are other examples, but you get the idea.

They’re the exceptions though. Some stars get too weird (Michael Jackson) to keep their shine. Tom Cruise, despite being well into his 50s, keeps starring in increasingly-ridiculous sci-fi action flicks, when he ought to be letting some gray show through — and showing guys my age how to do it right. Superstars like Madonna reach a place where they can’t be told No, and cease being recognizable as fellow earthlings. Others burn out, some fade out.

Others — I’m thinking again of Madonna — have so much money and they just won’t go away no matter how much we’d like them to. Lady Gaga would like to go down that road, but she’s probably already past her shelf life.

In the second half of the 20th Century we had our first celebrity-presidents, starting with JFK, formalized by Reagan, and perfected by the Clintons. The Obamas are a whole new ballgame, taking the White House from mere celebrity to superstardom.

Hillary seems determined lately to follow that example, but she also seems to have too much of Madonna’s brittle remoteness to make it work.

The Worst Silver Lining Ever

August 19th, 2014 - 1:04 pm

Is the (lame) party almost over for the US economy? Jim Pethokoukis has a definite-maybe on that question:

What could go wrong? Well, a lot. Wall Street certainly has worries aplenty. The advance of the militant group ISIS in Iraq and Syria threatens important oil exports, which could jack up global oil prices. The eurozone economy isn’t growing at all and risks a triple-dip recession with knock-on effects here. Then there’s the Fed. It’s winding down its “quantitative easing” bond-buying program and is expected to begin raising interest rates at some point next year.

Now, none of those things is necessarily an existential threat to the recovery. But with slow-growth expansions — of whatever age — you just never know what’s going to screw them up. They’re just really fragile.

The good news is that this weak recovery doesn’t leave us all that far to fall.

The bad news is that the good news is a lie.

One of Our Commanders-in-Chief Is Missing!

August 19th, 2014 - 12:12 pm

At the Daily Beast, Stuart Stevens wants to know what happened to that “hopeful, eloquent man we elected in 2008.” Read:

Six years into the Obama presidency, it’s still true that no problem confounds America like black-white relations. In the country that defines itself by an assumption that no challenge is beyond our grasp, the quest for a post-racial society is like the elusive cure for an ever-transmuting disease. Great effort and time has produced grudging improvements in quality of life, but the sickness defies a cure. It is always there, ready to strike without warning.

Could Obama have done more to help heal the trauma of Brown’s death? He’s played a healing roll well in the past. If the president had stepped in early and reassured the Brown family, Ferguson, and the world that a fair and impartial investigation was under way, it is difficult to imagine it not helping. That would have required putting his personal credibility on the line as president and, yes, as our first African American president.

But clearly this president is uncomfortable in this role. For a political leader propelled to the heights by his ability to speak of race in transforming terms, he seems to have lost faith in his own voice.

The hope was a sham and the eloquence was scripted. Confronted with the realities of six years of bad policies and vindictive governance, I might conveniently lose my voice, too.

Sign “O” the Times

August 19th, 2014 - 11:00 am


Guess who’s lecturing us on how to deal with violent protestors? Egypt:

Egypt on Tuesday urged U.S. authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with racially charged demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri – echoing language Washington used to caution Egypt as it cracked down on Islamist protesters last year.


Bear Flag State Turns Bearish

August 19th, 2014 - 9:45 am

So it turns out that “California Comeback” was based on smoke and mirrors. IBD has the numbers:

This time last year, liberals around the country were trumpeting the big fiscal comeback of the Golden State in the wake of Jerry Brown’s giant tax increase — Proposition 30.

That initiative was passed by voters on Nov. 6, 2012, and it raised the personal income-tax rate on taxpayers making over $250,000 for singles and $500,000 for married couples to as high as 13% — which is the heaviest tax penalty on working and investing in the nation outside of New York City.

What was especially devious is that the tax hit was made retroactive to January 2012. Sacramento was so desperate for money that nobody seemed to mind this after-the fact taxation is really a form of confiscation.

In the short term, it worked and revenues climbed a whopping 21% because California’s top 2% had to pay taxes twice in 2013 — once on their current-year income and a supplemental check to pay for the retroactive tax on income from the year before.

And today? Sacramento’s personal income tax collections declined 11.1% last quarter, indicating that California is all out of tricks for disguising its serious spending problem. Besides, they can only hike taxes retroactively one time, right?


Why HRC is MIA for DNC

August 19th, 2014 - 8:24 am

Hillary Clinton

Michael Barone explains the former SecState and presumed 2016 contender’s absence from the campaign trail:

As Patrick Buchanan shows in his recent and characteristically vividly written book, “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority,” Nixon campaigned tirelessly for Republican candidates in the 1966 midterm elections.

That election produced big Republican gains, including 47 House seats (contrary to the obituaries written for the party after Barry Goldwater’s 1964 defeat), and helped elect Nixon president in 1968.

So why isn’t Clinton following Nixon’s example? For reasons as clear-eyed as her takedowns of Obama. First, she is in a stronger position to win her party’s nomination today than Nixon was 48 years ago.

Second, she, unlike Nixon in 1966 and like most sober-minded observers this year, doesn’t see this as a good year for her party.

The explanation might be simpler still. She could either Gulfstream her way to pre-scouted Presidential Suites in five-star hotels to give a brief speech for a quarter of a million dollars, or show up for hours at a grubby fundraiser hosted by some second-string candidate in one of those third-tier flyover states where the hotel has “Holiday” or “Comfort” in the name.

For a woman of Clinton’s stature, it’s a no-brainer.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 19th, 2014 - 7:09 am


It’s difficult to imagine that a website which still doesn’t have a fully functioning backend might also have a security problem, but here you go:

After promising not to withhold government information over “speculative or abstract fears,” the Obama administration has concluded it won’t publicly disclose federal records that could shed light on the security of the government’s health care website because doing so could “potentially” allow hackers to break in.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied a request by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act for documents about the kinds of security software and computer systems behind the federally funded The AP requested the records late last year amid concerns that Republicans raised about the security of the website, which had technical glitches that prevented millions of people from signing up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

This goes to the heart of a tangentially related story about the White House’s obsession with keeping you in the dark:

The civic watchdog group Cause of Action on Monday sued the Obama administration, claiming that presidential attorneys have interfered improperly in the release of public documents under the landmark FOIA law in an effort to curb the release of derogatory information about the White House.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the nonpartisan Cause of Action, names 12 federal agencies that the group says slowed the release of documents so officials could consult with White House attorneys under a review process established in spring 2009. FOIA analysts say this practice never occurred in prior administrations.

Prior administrations weren’t nearly so …imaginative… in the execution of executive powers — which is really saying something.

And then there’s this item, which isn’t directly related to ♡bamaCare!!! or to the White House, but which might prove telling nonetheless:

One of the biggest hospital groups in the US revealed Monday that it suffered a monumental security breach, which possibly led to 4.5 million patients’ data being stolen, according to Reuters.

Community Health Systems, which oversees 206 hospitals in 29 states, said the stolen information includes Social Security numbers, patient names and addresses, telephone numbers, and birth dates, according to Reuters. This is the largest known attack to involve hospital patient information since the US government began tracking these types of data breaches in 2009.

“One possible goal of this attack is to facilitate future targeted attacks,” Elysium Digital data security expert Joseph Calandrino told CNET.

Cyber security — which the Administration is keeping deliberately quite secret — is going to become an even bigger problem, as the ♡bamaCare!!! goal of getting everybody off of job-based insurance and onto the exchanges becomes more real. In the case of, the residents of 37 states will eventually have their records stored at a single digital location, the security of which the White House won’t discuss.

That’s one great big fail in the making.

Meet Amanda Curtis

August 19th, 2014 - 6:17 am

This is the Democrats’ real live Senate candidate in Montana, which is enough to make me feel slightly less bad about Todd Akin.

Thought for the Day

August 19th, 2014 - 5:05 am

Play It Again, Rog

August 18th, 2014 - 3:00 pm



It’s common for brain surgery patients to stay awake. That’s how surgeons know everything is going smoothly, after all. When concert violinist Roger Frisch started suffering from tremors that are only a problem when he’s playing, however, Mayo Clinic doctors had to resort to some rather unusual technology to find out if they were installing the necessary brain pacemaker correctly. The surgical crew gave Frisch a bow equipped with a motion-tracking sensor and asked him to fiddle during the operation; the team knew it had electrodes in the right spot when the musician’s performance was steady.

I’m speechless.

News You Can Use

August 18th, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Facebook is testing a [SATIRE] tag for their hard-of-reading users:

Here’s how it works: If a friend posts an Onion link to his or her Facebook feed, click on it for a laugh. Once you’re done at The Onion and come back to your desktop or laptop browser, Facebook will have generated three related articles in a box directly below whatever you’d clicked on. In the case of an Onion link, that box will usually contain at least one article from the same site, only that article’s headline will begin with the word “satire” in brackets. As of press time, we were able to duplicate this result on three different computers from different accounts, one of which is shown above.

We can only assume this was implemented as a reaction to users believing that Onion links are nonfiction reports (you can lose hours flipping through Literally Unbelievable, a site that catalogs such boneheaded moments), but we’re not sure what compelled Facebook to go so far as to assert editorial control. Maybe the company still feels bad about how users reacted to its intentional News Feed manipulation from 2012.

We’ve probably all been suckered on occasion by a good satire. One of the best is Duffel Blog, which took me in for days the first time I came across one of their stories. But that’s the part of what makes great satire great.

There are three levels of satire. The first is simple sarcasm, which is saying something outrageous that you don’t believe, in such an obvious manner, that everybody knows you’re kidding. The next higher level of satire is to say something outrageous you don’t mean, in a serious enough manner, that people think you might actually believe it. But the highest level of satire, and the most difficult one to produce, is to say something outrageous, in such a clever way, that people nod their heads in agreement with the outrageous thing.

Discovering you’ve been taken in by great satire produces a momentary but unique emotion — equal parts embarrassment and delight, which even the Germans probably don’t have a word for. Facebook would take away that moment.

Sign “O” the Times

August 18th, 2014 - 12:48 pm


Jonathon Trugman has today’s ominous observation:

Crude prices are down 10 percent since mid-June, when global tensions mushroomed.

Yes, oil continues to fall right smack in the middle of summer driving season.
It falls despite the US posting a respectable second-quarter GDP number.

It falls while Israel and Hamas are in an all-out war and the rest of the Middle East is burning and being taken over by violent Islamist extremists.

Well, here is one fact that we do know: During recessions and weak growth, energy prices do fall.

Look no further than during our own financial crisis; crude got down into the high $30s a barrel at the end of 2008.

Perhaps nobody is buying the first look at second-quarter GDP at 4 percent and are awaiting further downward revisions.

Partly the decrease is the result of Saudi Arabia increasing their oil output. As the low-cost producer of crude, they can keep the taps open at prices that would put many other producers out of business. So maybe the Saudis are trying to keep oil prices low enough to keep the global economy floating; maybe they’re trying to kill fracking in the womb. Maybe both. Although there’s an argument to be made that it’s impossible to keep the global economy afloat without fracking, because fracking production and jobs are keeping the American economy afloat, and without the American economy, there really isn’t a global economy. But that’s an aside.

The broader point is that for any product, demand only has to outstrip supply by a little, to cause prices to rise by a lot — frantic buyers get frantic, yo. Furthermore, oil prices almost always move in lockstep with international friction, and for the same reason. When tensions flair, buyers want to get their hands on the sweet crude now, before somebody nukes the Straits of Hormuz or before Russia gets sanctioned, or what have you. It’s even worse with a Progressive Democrat in the White House, because there’s no telling what domestic or offshore oil production he’ll shut down in a fit of smart diplomacy.

So, yeah, the US is in what is supposed to be peak summer demand while coming off a hot Q2 GDP increase, while Russia continues its crapstorm in Ukraine, Israel is at war again, and all the rest.

And oil prices are down 10%, as you can see for yourself.

Something doesn’t add up — but who are you gonna trust, the Federal government’s statistics or your own lyin’ eyes?

Name That Party!

August 18th, 2014 - 11:05 am


You might have read about how Missouri Governor Jay Nixon snubbed President Ditherton Wiggleroom. If not, here’s the report from St. Louis station KMOX:

Missouri’s governor on Monday ordered the National Guard to a St. Louis suburb convulsed by protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, and he reportedly did so without first telling the White House.

Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard would help “in restoring peace and order” to Ferguson, where protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer entered their second week. Police said they acted Sunday night in response to gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails.

“These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served and to feel safe in their own homes,” Nixon said in a statement. [Emphaisis added]

What you might not have read, because it wasn’t in the report, is that Nixon is a Democrat.

Thought for the Day

August 18th, 2014 - 10:17 am

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 18th, 2014 - 9:41 am


“I feel like I’m in labor all of the time,” Reed said.

The 49-year-old single mother says she hasn’t stopped bleeding since February. She has nearly a dozen growths on her uterus and ovaries. And one twisted ovary, she says, gives her pains comparable to child birth. A hysterectomy and cyst removal would fix Reed’s problems, but the surgery costs $30,000.

Until this month, Reed was listed as having no health insurance. But she has paid seven months’ worth of premiums to Nevada Health Link, the market place through which consumers buy subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s like paying for car insurance and getting into an accident to find out you don’t have coverage,” Reed said.

It bears repeating: Coverage does not equal care.

Perry Charges “thin but clarifying”

August 18th, 2014 - 8:36 am

I figured Salon would be the first major publication to find a writer willing to defend the trumped up “charges” against the Texas governor for using his constitutional veto power — but no, it was The New Republic and Alec MacGillis.

But regardless of how strong the charges against Perry are, it is worth noting how fitting they are. Put simply, the case against Perry points to an aspect of his political persona that is well known in Texas but has too often been overlooked in the national portrayal of Perry. On the national stage, Perry is alternately depicted as a hardened ideologue—the states’ rights gunslinger who openly flirted with secession—and as a bumbling buffoon who watched his high-octane 2012 presidential campaign flame out in a moment of debate-stage befuddlement. Both of these caricatures miss Perry’s essence. As I argued in a 2011 profile of him for this magazine, Perry is both more conniving and less ideologically-motivated than the national perception of him would have one believe. He is, at heart, a political operator and a striver who has wielded the many levers of power available to him as governor of the second-largest state less to advance a coherent conservative agenda than for his own aggrandizement and that of his cronies.