VodkaPundit

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You Can’t Spell Wisdom Without “W”

July 23rd, 2015 - 12:28 pm

The former President speaks to Time magazine about his brother Jeb, Hillary, and 2016:

“I can’t tell you who is going to win, but I can tell you what’s going to happen,” Bush says. “There’s kind of a general pattern. And there will be flash in the pans, there will be this crisis, there will be the funding thing. There will be all these things that happen, but eventually the person who can best lead their party will be nominated.”

Given the near certainty of Hillary’s bid, Bush’s logic about his brother Jeb entering the campaign was mathematical: “What difference does it make,” he said at the time, “if the order is Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama/Clinton or it is Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama/Bush?”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 23rd, 2015 - 11:22 am

Another day, another failure:

Health care analysts are predicting that the 13 states — and the District of Columbia — that are currently offering Obamacare insurance exchanges will cease operations within five years.

According to a report on CNBC.com, federal subsidies provided to the states as part of the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 are ending, after the government invested $5 billion overall to establish the exchanges.

Where will consumers go for information on cheap, Obamacare-compliant health insurance policies? Most likely, analysts said, they will go to HealthCare.gov, the troubled federal exchange site set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Another $5,000,000,000 down the drain? Meh. That’s nothing compared to the endless bills we’ll pay for Medicaid expansion and all the new middle class entitlements.

Once the few state exchanges close, everything will be handled, if I haven’t stretched that word all out of shape, at the federal level. Yet insurers still won’t be allowed to sell — and compete — across state lines.

The stupid, it hurts.

BREAKING: Congress Is Suckers

July 23rd, 2015 - 10:02 am
Close the door. Have a seat. (AP photo)

Close the door. Have a seat.
(AP photo)

Now it’s Congress’s turn to get Lando’d:

The Iran nuclear agreement includes two secret side deals covering a key Iranian military site and other past arms activities, according to two lawmakers who are demanding that Congress be granted access to the documents.

The secret agreements were reached between Iran and the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) on Tehran’s past nuclear arms work and are a central component of the Vienna accord reached by Iran, the United States, and five other states.

A key part of the nuclear agreement requires Iran to disclose all military nuclear arms work before international sanctions are lifted. The IAEA has until December to report on the past military activities.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, (R., Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee, said in an interview he first learned of the secret side deals by questioning IAEA officials.

Pompeo, who first revealed the agreements along with Sen. Tom Cotton, (R., Ark.), said there may be additional secret pacts the Obama administration has not disclosed to Congress as required by legislation covering congressional review of the Iran nuclear agreement.

Congress has been off-loaded its legislative responsibilities to the Executive branch for decades, effectively enabling the bureaucracy to write it’s own legislation filling out what Congress “intended” to do with vague, wish-list laws. Why? So that Congress doesn’t have to make so many tough choices which could impair congresscritters’ ability to get reelected. (See also: The Roberts Court) As a result, the Executive branch does more or less as it damn well pleases.

Now Congress has off-loaded its treaty power to the Executive, and is now somehow shocked, shocked to learn that the Executive branch is doing whatever it damn well pleases.

The award-winning British actress calls out Hollywood:

Actress Emma Thompson, who plays a 77-year-old prostitute in her newest film “The Legend of Barney Thompson,” says sexism in Hollywood is more prevalent now than when she started out as a young actress.

“I think it’s still completely s– actually,” Ms. Thompson said in this week’s issue of Radio Times magazine. “I don’t think there’s any appreciable improvement and I think that for women, the question of how they are supposed to look is worse than it was even when I was young. So, no, I am not impressed at all.”

That Hollywood can hardly think of anything any starring roles for a talent like Emma Thompson should tell you everything you need to know about the status of women in the movie industry.

If you want a rare treat this weekend, pick up a copy of The Tall Guy, starring Thompson and Jeff Goldblum, and Rowan Atkinson in a wicked supporting role.

Taking All the Fun Out of Sex

July 23rd, 2015 - 7:34 am
It's OK; they're both sober. (Still courtesy Universal Pictures)

It’s OK; they’re both sober.
(Still courtesy Universal Pictures)

Reason reports that at Coastal Carolina University, all drunk sex is rape:

That’s right: a simple “yes” is not good enough from the standpoint of CCU administrators. Students who want to hook up must agree to each and every sex act beforehand, they must express consent enthusiastically, and they must be sober.

The university’s definition of consent is at odds with the legal one—as well as any common sense understanding of how sex happens. If complete sobriety were required before every sexual encounter, than any person who was even slightly drunk could be branded a rapist. In fact, it’s incapacitation that renders consent invalid, not mere intoxication.

This reality—and much else—is lost on CCU.

A threesome is now defined as him, her, and their notary.

Slightly more seriously, I’m old enough to remember when drinking and sex were the primary reasons for attending college — now they’re just another whip for progressives to make life miserable for others. And for gaining political power over undesirable classes, such as men.

F-35 Closer to Operational Status

July 23rd, 2015 - 6:19 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

What’s it take to become operational? First, you need enough flyable planes, which has taken longer than originally planned. And then you need three more things: Practice, practice, practice:

The F-35A is still a year away from its initial operating capability date but F-35A pilots flew SEAD missions in the recent Air Force Weapons School Integration Phase out of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., for the first time.

Air Force officials didn’t offer many details on the F-35A’s performance and pointed out that many of the sensors and software is not yet ready for many of the SEAD missions.

However, Air Force leaders highlighted the ability to add the F-35A to mission packages has opened up F-22 pilots to focus more on air-to-air responsibilities.

SEAD is tough. It means going after the people who shoot down fighters for a living… with a fighter.

Fear and Loathing on Trifecta

July 23rd, 2015 - 5:15 am

Part II of my Trifecta Triple, and this time it’s the GOP’s turn to get what they have coming.

Thought for the Day

July 22nd, 2015 - 4:19 pm

Those Stealth Bomber Blues

July 22nd, 2015 - 11:24 am

Russia’s PAK-DA stealth bomber project has been delayed out past 2023 and has had it stealthiness removed:

The reason behind the delay is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s May 2015 decision to revive production of the Tupolev Tu-160M2 long-range supersonic strategic bomber.

During a visit at the Samara-based Kuznetsov plant of the United Engine Corporation, Russian deputy defense minister Yuriy Borisov stated that “[a]ccording to the plans, serial production of the [Tu-160] aircraft new version [the Tu-160M2] is to be implemented starting from 2023.”

Back in February, Russian defense officials said that the resumption of the production of the Tu-160M2 will not impact the PAK-DA design and production schedule. However, during a Q&A session at the plant Borisov remarked: “The PAK DA project will be somewhat shifted beyond [2023, when it is currently to slated begin entering service], otherwise there is no sense in it.”

Originally intended to be a stealthy hypersonic aircraft, the PAK-DA now appears to be a subsonic strategic bomber with an emphasis on heavy payload and long-range capabilities.

Putin would not have revived Tu-160 production — roughly equivalent in age and abilities to a USAF B-1 bomber — if the PAK-DA project were going well. And removing the PAK-DA’s stealth characteristics means Russia will still be without a stealthy bomber well into the 2030s.

It seems unkind to mention that the Tu-160 still hasn’t met all of its mission requirements, even though it first flew in 1981 and became operational in 1987. Modernization efforts continue however.

Russia’s other PAK project, the PAK-FA fifth generation stealth fighter, has also had its productions plans radically scaled back due to problems with its engines, reliability, and actual stealthiness.

ISIS Blows it Again

July 22nd, 2015 - 10:04 am

Turkey’s “live and let live” policy towards ISIS may be over following a terror attack in Suruç:

The attack is the final nail in the coffin for anyone inside the Turkish government still holding on to the illusion that an “entente cordiale” with ISIL can continue. Murmurs of such an agreement with ISIL began in earnest last year when Turkey was able to negotiate the release of 49 citizens taken hostage by ISIL. Turkey’s unwillingness to open its airspace to international airstrikes against ISIL further fueled suspicions that the Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government had in fact struck a deal with the devil. None of this means the Turks were “actively” cooperating with ISIL, but it does suggest that the Turkish government was pursuing some form of a “live and let live” policy towards the terrorist group.

The real likelihood that such a policy existed has less to do with any religious affinity between ISIL and the AKP-dominated government — as some voices have suggested in the past — and more to do with cold realpolitik and hard security calculations. The reality is that ISIL kept both the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Syrian Kurds in check, which killed two birds with one stone for Turkey. In addition, Turkey’s geographic exposure to ISIL meant Turkish leaders preferred to avoid antagonizing the group lest it unleash a wave of ISIL-inspired terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

But clearly, this position has gradually started to change.

I wrote over a year ago that ISIS was likely to drown in its own bloodlust, and here’s yet another indication of just that.

Unlikable, untrustworthy, unconcerned. (AP photo)

Unlikable, untrustworthy, unconcerned.
(AP photo)

Hillary Clinton’s favorability ratings are underwater in three swing states President Obama won handily:

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that Clinton has strikingly negative favorability ratings among voters in Virginia, Iowa and Colorado, especially compared with where she stood in the spring.

The numbers come at a time when Clinton has a massive fundraising lead, relatively weak competition for the Democratic nomination and more federal government experience than other candidates. Even with these advantages, the poll shows Clinton may be vulnerable in states that by all accounts will have an outsize say in who wins the White House next year.

Then there’s this:

45/50 on the “needs and problems” question in Virginia isn’t a good sign for the would-be first female president.

Clinton would have had a lock on the 2008 nomination had it not been for a charismatic young senator from Illinois with a hint of the messianic about him. Even then it was a close-run thing, with Hillary having a slight edge in the popular primary vote, but Obama doing the hard ground work of winning more delegates in the caucus states.

This time around Clinton’s main challenge is a septuagenarian socialist Senator from Vermont with no hint of the messianic, but who connects with the Democrats’ increasingly populist-progressive base. Unlike ’08, Hillary won’t make the mistake of concentrating her efforts on the big headline primary states, but is already spending vast sums building grassroots organizations even in places as unlikely as Oklahoma.

So even with Clinton “feeling the Bern” in IA and NH, 2016 probably won’t be another close-run thing.

Her problem comes in the general election, because the polls show that she isn’t very likable and she’s even less trustworthy — which brings us to her campaign’s central dilemma.

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I Am Fearful; I Am Hopeful

July 22nd, 2015 - 7:07 am

Paranoia, worry, and hope during progressive rule.

What Manner of Spirits Is This?

July 22nd, 2015 - 6:40 am

If you’ve never seen Londoners outrageously drunk, I can’t un-recommend it highly enough. But now there’s this:

A new cocktail spot in London doesn’t require taking a sip to get intoxicated — all you have to do is breathe. In a soon-to-come installation at London’s Borough Market called “Alcoholic Architecture,” drinks are served in the form of a “walk-in cloud of breathable cocktail.” The event description describes the “fully immersive alcohol environment” as an “alcoholic weather system.”

Guests enter a chamber filled with a thick mist that City Lab reports is “one part spirits to three parts mixer” and then proceed to intake alcohol through their lungs and eyeballs. The room is immensely humid — apparently it’s difficult to see more than a meter in front of you — and guests need to wear protective ponchos. Respiratory scientists have deduced that 50 minutes in the chamber is the equivalent of one liquid drink.

“Here’s mud in your eye” still isn’t real mud, but it is in your eye. And in your lungs.

Ew.

The best part of drinking isn’t the top shelf booze, although that I can and do recommend highly. The best part of drinking is the social aspect, of sharing with people you know and love, or would at least like to get to know and maybe love after Last Call. Drinking alone isn’t sad because it’s depressing or a sign of alcoholism; drinking alone is sad because you’re missing out on the best part of drinking.

And then there’s the ritual — the tiny pop of the cork being removed from your favorite scotch; the intricacies of a making a proper martini; the gentle shake over ice to chill your margarita; your favorite bartender saying hello and starting your first cocktail before you even get to the barstool. These simple acts bring us pleasure for no reason more complicated than that they are pleasurable.

Instead of all that then, you’re supposed to breathe booze vapor directly into your lungs and eyeballs, in a room more humid than a Mexico beach, and so foggy you can barely see the person with whom you’re “sharing” your “drink?”

Thanks, but I won’t be needing one for my baby or for the road.

Old Grumbles from the New China

July 22nd, 2015 - 5:16 am
A Chinese investor watches share prices reverse their recent slides. (AP photo)

A Chinese investor watches share prices reverse their recent slides.
(AP photo)

Slowing economic growth in China, but especially public distrust of the official numbers, is causing unrest in the Middle Kingdom:

Because of the Internet, and despite Chinese efforts to “control” (censor and influence) information, it is possible to gather enough economic data to seriously challenge official government numbers. This is forcing the Chinese to reveal ugly truths they would prefer to keep hidden. The government is trying to clean up the corruption in the banking sector and state owned enterprises but does not want the public watching. That’s partly because a lot of senior officials (present and past) were criminally responsible for this mess and partly because if these credit and government budget problems are not fixed there could be a major financial crises and years of economic depression. Most Chinese also know that if a crises is imminent government officials want to get the information first so they can save their own personal wealth before the Chinese currency and stock markets lose most of their value. This is one reason why the government wants to control anti-corruption efforts, lest the public find out too many details of how badly behaved their leaders still are. This is particularly true of cases where corrupt officials with powerful friends use that influence to escape punishment. This is particularly the case with children and grandchildren of families that were in leadership positions when the communists took over in the 1940s. Nearly as frightening is growing publicity (despite efforts by censors) of corruption in state owned companies. This is no secret to most Chinese but the details create public anger towards the government that seems to tolerate all this misbehavior. Equally embarrassing are the official and unofficial revelations about senior people in charge of anti-corruption efforts who are found to be corrupt. Publicity of this sort of corruption is particularly dangerous to the government because it makes the ruling (since the 1940s) Chinese Communist Party look incapable of reforming itself.

Parties don’t generally reform themselves until they’ve spent some time out of power. Democratic republics hold elections to throw the bums out when they deserve it, but in single-party states only violence or political collapse does the trick.

Thought for the Day

July 21st, 2015 - 4:04 pm

This Deal Keeps Getting Worse All the Time

July 21st, 2015 - 2:52 pm
We're all praying he doesn't alter it any further.

We’re all praying he doesn’t alter it any further.

Stephen Carter says “probably nothing” is what happens if Iran cheats on the nuke deal:

Let’s take an example. Under the action plan, Iran is permitted to enrich uranium only at its Natanz facility, and only up to 3.67 percent, well below weapons-grade. Suppose that a few years down the road, once things are humming along, the U.S. discovers, through its fabled if imperfect “national technical means,” that Iran has illegally established a second enrichment site apart from Natanz. The U.S. thinks that the regime is using its new, secret facility — we’ll call it Site X — to enrich uranium up to 5 percent, a range not uncommon in light water reactors. This figure would not be sufficient to produce weapons-grade fissile material, but it would still exceed the 3.67 percent allowed under the agreement.

Now what happens?

Presumably the U.S. passes the information along to the IAEA inspectors. The next part of the process is guided by Part Q of Annex I of the action plan. Under paragraph 75, the IAEA will ask Iran for “clarification.” If the explanation is not satisfactory, paragraph 76 allows the inspectors to “request access” to Site X. Paragraph 77 entitles Iran to offer an “alternative means” rather than inspection to resolve the issue.

Cheating is a feature, not a bug — and the White House and State Department know it.

How Much Is that Adjective in the Window?

July 21st, 2015 - 1:29 pm

Washington is spending $125,000 to determine if some adjectives are more sexist than others.

No, really:

“The proposed research predicts that stereotypes activate different standards of judgments for members of different groups; therefore, evaluations (adjectives) mean different things depending on the person described,” according to the grant for the study.

“For example, in a masculine work domain where women are stereotyped as less competent, ‘good’ for a woman may mean something objectively less good than ‘good’ for a man,” it said.

The project will examine letters of recommendation to see whether letters for women and minorities are “influenced by gender and racial stereotypes” that affect chances of admission into graduate school.

Make it an even $100,000, and I’d be willing to spend six months studying the effects of margaritas on gender-stereotyped bikini girls.

For science.

Too Much Heritage Action?

July 21st, 2015 - 12:06 pm

GOP lawmakers are increasingly unhappy with the Heritage Foundation’s political arm:

Members, congressional aides, and GOP strategists say the intellectual power that made the group a cornerstone of the conservative movement and garnered them access to offices across Capitol Hill for decades has been tainted by their political group’s pursuit for absolute purity. Heritage Action for America, the organization’s 501(c)(4), keeps score of votes, judging members based on how they line up with the group’s conservative priorities. And many members say they are tired of Heritage Action’s lack of discretion or rationale.

“Perhaps it is just that I am not smart enough to know … but there doesn’t always appear to be a lot of rhyme or reason,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina, even as he emphasized his strong and consistent relationship with the Heritage Foundation’s leader. It was DeMint, he said, who empowered him to run for office in the first place. But Heritage Action is beginning to be a problem for conservatives.

“I separate out Heritage and Heritage Action. DeMint is Heritage to me, [Heritage Action CEO Michael] Needham is Heritage Action. I couldn’t pick Needham out of a photo lineup, and Jim DeMint is the gold standard for conservatism in my state,” Gowdy said.

Conservative/libertarian think tanks generally do their best work as research & idea factories, as opposed to acting as party whip agents.

There is supposed to be a degree of intellectual anarchy on the Right, as timeless principles rub up against new circumstances — requiring new policies to best protect those principles.

It’s much easier — and for them, more desirable — to get the Left to march in lockstep on its road to Perfect Statism.

Peace in Our Time, But Not Quite Yet

July 21st, 2015 - 10:47 am

Brett Stevens explains the Iran deal’s collapsing rationale:

“The U.S. is specifically looking at ways to expedite arms transfers to Arab states in the Persian Gulf and is accelerating plans for them to develop an integrated regional ballistic missile defense capability,” the Journal’s Carol Lee and Gordon Lubold reported Monday. The goal, they add, is to prevent the Saudis “from trying to match Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.”

Let’s follow this logic. If the Iran deal is as fail-safe as President Obama claims, why not prove it by giving the Saudis exactly the same nuclear rights that Iran is now to enjoy? Why race to prevent an ally from developing a capability we have just ceded to an enemy? What’s the point of providing the Saudis with defense capabilities they presumably don’t need?

A hypochondriac convinced he has cancer isn’t usually offered a course of chemotherapy. What we have here is ObamaCare for Arabia.

This item from David Ottaway seems related:

While President Obama is seeking to open a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations, Saudi Arabia and Iran appear to be headed toward a showdown. The Saudis lead a coalition of nine Arab nations in a campaign to drive Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from power in Yemen–and have demonstrated their willingness to confront Tehran’s proxies with force. The Saudis need U.S. logistical and intelligence support for their air campaign in Yemen. Meanwhile, the Obama administration seeks Saudi support for its campaign to degrade Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The allies are at loggerheads over Syria, where the Saudis want to concentrate on ending the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the U.S. is focusing on ISIS. But tensions are clear over Yemen: The United States had pressed for a week-long “humanitarian pause” in fighting to allow emergency food and medical supplies into Yemen and encourage negotiations for a political settlement. It was supposed to start July 10 and last to the end of Ramadan on July 17.

The Saudis initially seemed likely to comply, but at the last moment they rejected a cease-fire, saying that the Arab coalition had not been formally asked by the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to stop the bombing. This is a flimsy pretext given that the president’s government is currently headquartered in the Saudi capital.

PJM’s own David Goldman (aka Spengler) has argued that for peace to come to the Middle East, a whole lot of people need to get killed in war first:

Really big wars typically last for two generations. You kill the fathers in the first phase of the war, and in the second phase you will their sons. Usually there aren’t enough grandsons to continue the war. The American Civil War is a big exception: with their characteristic energy and dedication, the Americans of the mid-nineteenth century managed to accomplish in four years what took other peoples thirty.

The second is that casualty rates typically rise in inverse proportion to the probability of victory. The young men who fight great wars are not game theorists, calculating the likelihood of dying in battle against the probability of victory. On the contrary, casualty rates typically rise sharply after hope of victory has faded. What matters is to “matter.”

He goes on to note:

We are only in the first phases of a great Sunni-Shi’ite war in the Middle East, but it seems likely to produce similar results. The bulge in military-age population occasioned by the high fertility rates of twenty years ago has produced an enormous number of young men with little hope of employment or marriage who learn daily that they do not matter. As ISIS terrorists they can claim to matter, and will continue to sacrifice their lives with abandon.

By allowing Syria to fester, Iraq to collapse, the Saudis and Israelis to think they’re on their own, and Iran to get nukes, perhaps Obama will inadvertently give the Middle East the war it “needs.”

Required Reading

July 21st, 2015 - 9:23 am

The Day Israel Died” is a frightening bit of pre-history from Kurt Schlichter:

On a warm September day in 2015, the United States Senate failed to override Obama’s veto of the measure rejecting his Iranian nuclear agreement. Every one of the 54 Republicans voted against the agreement, which would deliver to the mullahs $150 billion, lift the conventional weapons embargo, and validate Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for vague promises not to go nuclear for 10 years. Twelve Democrats, coincidentally the Democrats holding the 12 toughest seats, were allowed to vote against the bill. Because Congress had surrendered its treaty power, 67 votes were required to stop the agreement instead of the 67 required to enact a treaty under the increasingly irrelevant Constitution.

The promised money flowed into Iran and, as predicted, the money flowed out again to America’s enemies – Hezbollah, the Syrian regime, the Houthis, and even the Taliban. Their services included a massive surge in advanced IED attacks on the dwindling U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Dozens of Americans died, hundreds were maimed.

The Iranians, from the beginning, cheated on a massive scale, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s government immediately redoubled its efforts to ensure the Iranians could not cross the line from aspiring to actual nuclear power.

Read the whole, chilling thing. Kurt’s take on President Obama is spot on, and maybe the best part of his piece.

It was adapted from a chapter in his book, Conservative Insurgency, but plays better with a few rewrites. As originally written, the nuclear deal and the eventual attack on Israel took place a couple years in the future, under President Hillary Clinton. But it didn’t read quite right, perhaps because Clinton acted more like Obama than like herself.

Anyway, click to it.

A Worthy Cause

July 21st, 2015 - 8:02 am
(Image courtesy NASA/public domain)

(Image courtesy NASA/public domain)

The Smithsonian has launched its first-ever Kickstarter campaign, to raise enough money to preserve and display Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit:

For the Smithsonian’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign, we are proud to announce plans to conserve, digitize, and display Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit in time for this milestone anniversary. We want to preserve Armstrong’s spacesuit – and the story it tells of its incredible journey – down to the particles of lunar dust that cling to its surface. Just like the Apollo program, we will accomplish this in collaboration of thousands of people across the country and around the world. And that’s where you come in.

Kick in a few bucks, wait a few years, then treat yourself on a visit to Washington.

Your donation is fully tax deductible and totally awesome.

Haggling Over Baby Organs

July 21st, 2015 - 7:17 am

So this is what Planned Parenthood has come to as another director, Mary Gatter, tries to settle on the right price for late-term aborted baby parts:

Gatter continues: “You know, in negotiations whoever throws out the figure first is at a loss, right?” She explains, “I just don’t want to lowball,” before suggesting, “$75 a specimen.”

Gatter twice recites Planned Parenthood messaging on fetal tissue collection, “We’re not in it for the money,” and “The money is not the important thing,” but she immediately qualifies each statement with, respectively, “But what were you thinking of?” and, “But it has to be big enough that it’s worthwhile for me.”

Gatter also admits that in prior fetal tissue deals, Planned Parenthood received payment in spite of incurring no cost: “It was logistically very easy for us, we didn’t have to do anything. So there was compensation for this.” She accepts a higher price of $100 per specimen understanding that it will be only for high-quality fetal organs: “Now, this is for tissue that you actually take, not just tissue that someone volunteers and you can’t find anything, right?”

By the lunch’s end, Gatter suggests $100 per specimen is not enough and concludes, “Let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”

Video at the link.

Congress, Schmongress

July 21st, 2015 - 6:45 am
Rapper name: Old Traitorous Bastard (AP photo)

Rapper name: Old Traitorous Bastard
(AP photo)

Ladies and gentlemen, your Secretary of State explains why President Obama took the Iran deal to the United Nations for ratification before bothering to submit it to your own Congress:

Kerry claimed that the administration was between a rock and a hard place. Either the White House risked getting flak at home, he said, or Iran and the other negotiating nations would balk at the idea of holding their landmark international agreement hostage to one country’s legislature.

“Frankly, some of these other countries were quite resistant to the idea, as sovereign nations, that they were subject to the United States Congress,” Kerry said.

“When you’re negotiating with six other countries, it does require, obviously, a measure of sensitivity and multilateral cooperation that has to take into account other nations’ desires.”

Your elected representatives — such a nuisance to busy Secretaries of State and ambitious Presidents.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 21st, 2015 - 5:21 am

Reason’s Peter Suderman got hold of a Government Accounting Office draft report on how the states spend — or misspent — their ♡bamaCare!!! development grants:

The report, still in draft form and dated July 2015, says that several states “lacked comprehensive and detailed information to show how their marketplace grant funding had been used for IT projects supporting their marketplaces” between September 2010 and March 2015. Neither select states examined by the GAO nor the federal government tracked how much of $2.78 billion in Medicaid matching funds were used to fund exchange operations or development. (The law required states to connect Medicaid programs, which are run by states and jointly funded by states and the federal government, to a federal data hub.)

The uncertainty exists because Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not require states to track spending on specific product categories, nor to report on how Medicaid matching funds were used. As a result of the lack of reporting requirements for Medicaid, the report charges that CMS, which oversaw the exchange development process, “is not in a position to account for all federal funds that went toward the establishment and support of marketplace [health insurance exchange] IT systems.”

It’s unknown just how much money was spent developing the state “exchanges,” but we do know that a couple of those websites could never be made to function after throwing hundreds of millions at them, and the rest cost far more than privately developed web storefronts.

It’s almost as though as those billions in matching funds were really just a massive slush fund for Democratic contractors.

It’s Bush vs Walker vs Iran Nuke Deal

July 20th, 2015 - 12:12 pm
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Stephen Hayes reports from Ames, Iowa:

Speaking to reporters here Saturday after an appearance at the Family Leader Summit, Walker said the next president will need to be prepared to take aggressive action against Iran, “very possibly” including military strikes, on the day he or she is inaugurated, and said he would not be comfortable with a commander in chief who is unwilling to act aggressively on day one of a new presidency. In his announcement speech at the beginning of the week, Walker had promised to ‘terminate’ the Iran deal on day one of his presidency, and Bush, at a town hall four days later, said ending the deal on the first day of a new administration was unrealistic and suggested that promises to do so, while politically appealing, reflected a lack of seriousness

Walker advisers suggested Bush was softening his opposition to the deal, claims that the Bush campaign denied. “They are purposefully misrepresenting his view,” says one Bush adviser. And Bush, in a statement to THE WEEKLY STANDARD Sunday night, called the agreement a “terrible deal” and said if elected president he “would begin immediately to responsibly get us out of this deal.”

Walker has the better rhetoric here, but does Bush perhaps have the better method? Their end goals seem to be the same — laying rest to Obama’s capitulation to Iran. If so, then the question is how best to go about doing that.

In Bush’s favor, the sanctions regime will be gone or nearly so by the time the next President is sworn into office. Either man could tear up the existing deal on January 20, 2017, but neither man could magically summon the sanctions back into place. Assuming restoring sanction is possible, Bush’s slow-motion approach is really the only way to go — gently prodding our allies and our adversaries back into a commonsense containment policy.

But c’mon, who are we kidding?

Neither Russia nor China — UN veto powers, the both of them — would allow an incoming US President such a big diplomatic win on Day One. Ever the mercantilist power, France would hardly be likely to follow Bush’s diplomatic lead and let Chinese and Russian firms score all the big Iranian oil contracts. Britain would likely follow along in hopes of helping restore the Special Relationship, and surely Germany would be good to go, too.

But any sanctions regime which doesn’t include Russia with all her resources and China with all her cash is no sanctions regime at all.

The best bet then might the return of Cowboy Diplomacy, a clean break from eight years of the Obama Doctrine of retreat, surrender, and snubbing our friends and enabling our rivals.

If Reaganesque leadership and reviving the Western coalition means the creation of a Beijing-Moscow-Tehran Axis… well, isn’t Cowboy Diplomacy just a rational response to an Axis which in reality has already coalesced?

And it’s difficult to see how Bush’s go-it-slow maneuvers will resonate with GOP voters disgusted by Obama’s sellout to Iran. Bush’s position might even be read by some as a slow-motion entrenchment of Obama’s deal — which surely won’t win him any trust on other issues, such as a repeal-and-replace of ♡bamaCare!!!.

Walker on the other hand seems to determined to — what’s that word again? — oh yes, win. If that means hoots and hollers from Moscow and Beijing and disdain from All the Right People, so be it.

Bush might have been raised in Texas, but Walker is clearly the cowboy of the two.

Eminently Mockable Hillary

July 20th, 2015 - 10:50 am

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 20th, 2015 - 9:22 am

Everybody saw this one coming — especially those who lied to get ♡bamaCare!!! passed into law:

More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge beyond projections, raising concerns the added costs will strain their budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years.

Some lawmakers warn the price of expanding the health-care program for poor and lower-income Americans could mean less money available for other state services, including education.

In Kentucky, for example, enrollments during the 2014 fiscal year were more than double the number projected, with almost 311,000 newly eligible residents signing up. That’s greater than what was predicted through 2021. As a result, the state revised its Medicaid cost estimate from $33 million to $74 million for the 2017 fiscal year. By 2021, those costs could climb to a projected $363 million.

“That is a monstrous hole that we have got to figure out how to plug, and we don’t know how to do it,” said Kentucky state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican who leads the Senate budget committee and opposed expansion. “The two biggest things that keep me up at night are state pensions and the cost of expanded Medicaid.”

Whatever expenses ♡bamaCare!!! has already added to your annual health care bills, also tack on the added taxes you’ll pay for its Medicaid expansion.

Obama Freed Top Iranian Nuke Scientist

July 20th, 2015 - 8:00 am
Iranian worshippers chant slogans during their Friday prayer service at the Tehran University campus in Tehran, Iran, Friday, July 17, 2015. The main prayer service in the Iranian capital has been interrupted by repeated chants of "Death to America" — despite this week's landmark nuclear deal with world powers that was welcomed by authorities in Tehran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian worshippers chant slogans during their Friday prayer service at the Tehran University campus in Tehran, Iran, Friday, July 17, 2015. The main prayer service in the Iranian capital has been interrupted by repeated chants of “Death to America” — despite this week’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers that was welcomed by authorities in Tehran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Devastating revelation from Mitch Ginsburg and the Times of Israel:

Mojtaba Atarodi, arrested in California for attempting to acquire equipment for Iran’s military-nuclear programs, was released in April as part of back channel talks, Times of Israel told. The contacts, mediated in Oman for years by close colleague of the Sultan, have seen a series of US-Iran prisoner releases, and there may be more to come.

More:

American and Iranian officials have been meeting secretly in Oman on and off for years, according to a respected Israeli intelligence analyst, Ronen Solomon. And in the past three years as a consequence of those talks, Iran released three American prisoners, all via Oman, and the US responded in kind. Then, most critically, in April, when the back channel was reactivated in advance of the Geneva P5+1 meetings, the US released a fourth Iranian prisoner, high-ranking Iranian scientist Atarodi, who was arrested in California on charges that remain sealed but relate to his attempt to acquire what are known as dual-use technologies, or equipment that could be used for Iran’s military-nuclear programs. Iran has not reciprocated for that latest release.

Solomon, an independent intelligence analyst (who in 2009 revealed the crucial role played by German Federal Intelligence Service officer Gerhard Conrad in the negotiations that led to the 2011 Gilad Shalit Israel-Hamas prisoner deal), has been following the US-Iran meetings in Oman for years. Detailing what he termed the “unwritten prisoner exchange deals” agreed over the years in Oman by the US and Iran, Solomon told The Times of Israel that “It’s clear what the Iranians got” with the release of top scientist Atarodi in April. “What’s unclear is what the US got.”

I’d say it’s pretty clear what we got, but it involves imagery inappropriate even to this blog.

Now you just watch as Capitol Hill Democrats acquiesce to this rotten deal regardless:

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), for instance, has emerged as the leading Democratic critic in the upper chamber, warning that the agreement “legitimizes” Iran’s nuclear program and sets the stage for Iran to reap billions of dollars in financial relief it could use to bolster its stock of conventional weapons.

But Menendez has stopped short of saying he’ll join Republicans in a vote to disapprove the deal, saying he wants first to examine the agreement more closely, both on the Foreign Relations panel and in briefings with administration officials.

“It’s premature for some people to say they’re definitely against it and for others to say they’re definitely for it,” he said. “Let’s have the vetting.”

Menendez has been Obama’s toughest critique on Iran, and even he already has one foot on board — so you can kiss any hopes of a veto-proof majority goodbye.

And say hello to the Great Middle East Nuclear Arms Race.

Civilians inspect the scene of a deadly Friday night suicide car bombing at a busy market in Khan Beni Saad, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 18, 2015. The attack by the Islamic State group on a crowded marketplace in Iraq's eastern Diyala province has killed over 100 people, mostly-Shiite victims, including women and children, in one of the deadliest single attacks in the country in the past decade. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Civilians inspect the scene of a deadly Friday night suicide car bombing at a busy market in Khan Beni Saad, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, July 18, 2015. The attack by the Islamic State group on a crowded marketplace in Iraq’s eastern Diyala province has killed over 100 people, mostly-Shiite victims, including women and children, in one of the deadliest single attacks in the country in the past decade. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Good lord:

The findings build on previous reporting that ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has begun to adapt both suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to include chlorine and other chemicals and may seek to exploit the use of chemicals as it develops new weapons.

The two U.K.-based groups — Conflict Armament Research (CAR) and Sahan Research — sent teams to investigate allegations that ISIS used chemical munitions on three occasions last month. Two of the incidents occurred in Hasakah province in northern Syria, where ISIS is locked in battle with the Kurdish YPG group. The third involved a 120 mm mortar that landed near Kurdish positions at the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq but failed to explode.

CAR said this was “the first documented use by (ISIS) forces of projectile-delivered chemical agents against Kurdish forces and civilian targets.”

James Bevan, executive director of CAR, said the group’s investigators went to the scene of the Mosul Dam attack a week after it occurred. Even then, the dark yellow liquid leaking from the mortar emitted a powerful odor. “The investigation team also experienced headaches and nausea when in close proximity to the projectile/agent,” Bevan said, symptoms consistent with exposure to a chlorine chemical agent.

Imagine how fun things will be once the Great Middle East Nuclear Arms Race begins in earnest — assuming it hasn’t already.

Born to raise funds. (AP photo)

Born to raise funds.
(AP photo)

You’d better have money, honey, if you want to make it through the high-priced gauntlet known as the 2016 presidential primaries:

Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting Jeb Bush , estimates it will cost nearly $60 million just to run 10 days’ worth of advertising in the first 30 primary states. That doesn’t include turning on the lights of campaign offices and filling them with full-time staff dedicated to identifying supporters and getting them to vote.

The expanding roles of super PACs and a condensed nominating calendar are fundamentally transforming the way the 2016 primary campaign will be conducted. Gone are the days when campaigns could just scrape together enough money to advertise in Iowa and New Hampshire, counting on an early victory to spur an infusion of fresh contributions.

With 16 Republicans running and the polls muddled, this year more than ever, a premium is attached to building up enough money for a mad dash through big states. Roughly 62% of the delegates will be allotted in the first 52 days of voting, from Feb. 1 to March 22. Eleven states hold nominating contests on March 1, including Texas with its 20 media markets.

Why is it every time Washington tries to “help the little guy” by “taking the money out of politics,” it always seems to benefit the best-connected candidates?