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Go East, Young Man!

April 17th, 2015 - 5:24 am
All hail Freedonia! (Image courtesy Paramount Pictures)

All hail Freedonia!
(Image courtesy Paramount Pictures)

Wow:

A Czech man named Vit Jedlicka proclaimed the new republic between Serbia and Croatia on the western bank of the Danube on Monday and has been doing the media rounds all week. With a land area of about 2.7 square miles, Liberland would be the world’s third-smallest country, after the Vatican City and Monaco. According to its website, it has a flag, a motto (“to live and let live”), and an official language (Czech, which seems ill-advised). Jedlicka is taking applications for citizenship, though you’ll have to apply by email because there’s no post office yet. Liberlanders must be people who:

have respect for other people and respect the opinions of others, regardless of their race, ethnicity, orientation, or religion
have respect for private ownership which is untouchable
do not have communist, nazi or other extremist past
were not punished for past criminal offences

Still a member of the Czech Republic’s libertarian, euroskeptic Party of Free Citizens, Jedlicka says he is working on writing a constitution that “significantly limits the power of politicians so they could not interfere too much in the freedoms of the Liberland nation.”

America hasn’t been the same since we closed the frontier and ran out of places to run away to — maybe the lawless areas of the Balkans, the Middle East, and someday perhaps Siberia could be made into new outlets for rugged individualists.

CLOSEUP

A lovely photo essay by Erika Smalley — a genuinely really real Iowan who tried to get to see Hillary Clinton.

A Long Time Ago…

April 16th, 2015 - 2:19 pm

I got chills.

Wow.

The weird part? The very last bit was a bit of a letdown — but the rest of it, nothin’ but chills.

Required Reading

April 16th, 2015 - 1:14 pm

shutterstock_156695750

A former TSA agent writes:

The recent story of two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport manipulating full-body scanners in order to grope men’s crotches is disturbing, but it came as no surprise to me.

Over the course of my six years with the TSA, the leveraging of rules and surveillance tools to abuse passengers was a daily checkpoint occurrence. Has the TSA screener searching your luggage suddenly decided to share with you the finer points of official bag-search procedure just as your final boarding call is being announced? There’s a good chance that he or she just doesn’t like you. Or in some cases, as we’ve seen, it may be that the screener finds you attractive and wants to use the TSA rules as an excuse to get his or her hands on you.

Has any presidential candidate come out in favor of abolishing TSA? This could be a populist issue with staying power, and a good starting place for a discussion about privacy, security, and that old warning of Ben Franklin’s.

News You Can Use

April 16th, 2015 - 12:45 pm

TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT

Oh, Japan:

Japanese game show Sing What Happens seriously tests their male contestants’ karaoke skills by giving them hand jobs while they sing. The object of the game is for the contestants to know the song by heart and to not be distracted by the hand job. They need to be able to hit the proper notes—perfectly—in order to win. Sometimes a hand is used and other times feet are used for zee sexual gratification. The contestants must be able to carry a tune until they…

Until they… you know.

Enter the Matrix

April 16th, 2015 - 11:20 am

LOCUST

I have seen the future, and it includes Laurence Fishburne asking me to take either the red or blue pill. Apparently:

The Office of Naval Research has unveiled what it is calling the future of the American military’s drone technology—lightweight, flying killer robots that can swarm and overwhelm an adversary.

As more than 120 countries convened at the U.N. in Geneva to discuss the future of drone warfare this week, the Navy’s research arm announced it had started testing its LOCUST drones (Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology). And while the acronym may conjure a kind of dystopian sci-fi nightmare, Navy scientists insist that LOCUST drones will give sailors and marines a tactical advantage on the battlefield.

Currently, the military relies on MQ-Reaper drones, one of which costs $16 million and requires the guiding hand of a human being. LOCUST drones are far smaller and cheaper, and they guide themselves, says the military. According to Engadget, when dispatched, “they team up and overwhelm enemy aircraft like honey bees defending their hive.”

Picture a Virginia-class nuclear attack sub. Now replace a few of its Tomahawk cruise missiles with a launchable container full of LOCUST drones. The container/missile pops out of the water, proceeds to its destination, then unleashes a swarm of LOCUST drones ready to strike.

Imagine putting the enemy aircraft-killing capabilities of an aircraft carrier in a stealthy underwater platform.

Granted, a sub would have to return to base to reload on LOCUST missiles, so it wouldn’t enjoy a surface aircraft carrier’s ability to sustain operations. But its stealthiness and survivability would make LOCUST-equipped SSNs a valuable addition to — not a replacement for — our carrier strike groups.

The Fix Is In

April 16th, 2015 - 10:10 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Politico reports that Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street backers have a “wink wink, nudge nudge” understanding about her populist rhetoric:

Hillary Clinton sounded like a woman on a mission after her long drive into the heartland: “There’s something wrong,” she told Iowans on Tuesday, when “hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 when I was driving here over the last two days.”

But back in Manhattan, the hedge fund managers who’ve long been part of her political and fundraising networks aren’t sweating the putdown and aren’t worrying about their take-home pay just yet.

It’s “just politics,” said one major Democratic donor on Wall Street, explaining that some of her Wall Street supporters doubt she would push hard for closing the carried interest loophole as president, a policy she promoted when she last ran in 2008.

There’s going to be a lot of populist rhetoric this cycle — from both sides. Honestly, I don’t care what a candidate threatens to do to Wall Street. What I care about deeply is what they promise to do to re-empower entrepreneurs and the middle class.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

April 16th, 2015 - 9:00 am

Must-read stuff from Cliff Asness in today’s WSJ:

While the administration might be forgiven for cheerleading, pundits such as Steven Rattner and Paul Krugman and many others have cited these statistics as serious evidence that ObamaCare is working.

That more people would be insured was never in dispute. If you mandate that people buy something, penalize them if they don’t and give it away to some, more people will end up with it. The proper response to this is: Duh.

The real question is how many of those covered by ObamaCare were previously uninsured, how increased coverage is translating into more or better health care, and at what cost this comes both to public finances and personal liberties—all compared with what other alternatives? That is the stuff for serious debate.

That’s why instead of a serious debate, ♡bamaCare!!! supporters give sob stories and accusations of cruelty.

Islamic State of Iraq, Syria, and… Mexico

April 16th, 2015 - 7:47 am

shutterstock_57979540

Well:

Islamic State fighters are operating training bases near the U.S. southern border and are being aided by violent drug cartels to smuggle terrorists into states like Texas, a report published Tuesday by a watchdog group claims.

The Judicial Watch report, which cited an unnamed Mexican Army officer and a Mexican police inspector, raises new fears that the fight with ISIS is closer to the U.S. than previously thought.

The report identified the locations of the two bases, and said one is as close as 8 miles from Texas in a town west of Juarez. Mexican authorities found possible evidence — plans written in Arabic and Urdu — last week in the town of “Anapra,” the sources said. These sources told the watchdog that “coyotes” who work for drug cartels assist in smuggling terrorists between Fort Hancock, Texas, and other undisclosed locations.

We can get serious and build a fence, or we can get people blown up.

It’s really that simple.

The Republican Obama?

April 16th, 2015 - 6:27 am

Matt Lewis has an interesting piece at The Week, discussing the styles of presidential contenders, and whether those styles do or don’t match the shifting moods of the electorate. You might want to read the whole thing, but start at least with this:

Cruz and Obama do indeed have some things in common, including an ambition to seize the brass ring after 15 minutes in the Senate, a keen intellect, and an Ivy league pedigree. But Cruz’s Texas style and penchant for hurling red meat to the base make him awfully dissimilar to the professorial Obama.

A much better model might be Marco Rubio. As both Politico and Hot Air point out, Rubio could best be seen as the Republicans’ Obama. This comparison has zero to do with political philosophy. And no, it’s not because Rubio’s is also a first-term senator (he made a pretty compelling case to Kasie Hunt about why he has more experience than then-Sen. Obama did in 2008). It’s really about style and temperament. Obama and Rubio both seem calm, reasonable, intellectual, professorial. They seem like they’d be more comfortable in a big cosmopolitan city than clearing brush on a Texas ranch. They’re telegenic thinkers, not brash doers.

Now, do Republicans really need their own Obama in 2016? Maybe.

What if 2008 marked a somewhat permanent political shift in presidential elections — away from the rural, rustic machismo of the Bush era and toward a more sophisticated, cosmopolitan ideal for a leader? Could it be that Republicans can only win again by playing this game — by casting aside the tough Southern thing, the Bush “swagger” — and nominating a young-ish, cosmopolitan conservative?

If the country has changed this way, and the GOP needs its own Obama — a conservative who can appeal to minorities, urbanites, and millennials — they might well turn to a Marco Rubio, a Bobby Jindal, or possibly a Jeb Bush.

I’m going to have to disagree strongly with Lewis’ take on Bush’s appeal, which doesn’t seem to exist outside of the GOP money machine and temporarily in the minds of lower-information voters who recognize the name and not much else. Scott Walker might fit that mold better, even if he lacks the Ivy League credentials. But that’s just an aside, a small detail — it’s Lewis’ premise about “style and temperament” which needs further exploring.

At this point in the pre-primary cycle, I’m like my young boys let loose in the toy section at Walmart. There’s so much to choose from, so much to take off the shelves and check out — the GOP bench is an embarrassment of riches like the party hasn’t seen since… since maybe not in my lifetime.

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Dynasty

April 16th, 2015 - 5:21 am

Tom Clancy Drool Fest

April 15th, 2015 - 1:35 pm
Zumwalt DDG 1000 the first Zumwalt Class Multi-Mission Destroyer is seen before its christening ceremony Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The ship is named after Admiral Elmo “Bud” R. Zumwalt Jr., who served as Chief of Naval Operations from 1970-1974. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Zumwalt DDG 1000 the first Zumwalt Class Multi-Mission Destroyer is seen before its christening ceremony Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The ship is named after Admiral Elmo “Bud” R. Zumwalt Jr., who served as Chief of Naval Operations from 1970-1974. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

The Navy is looking to install electromagnetic rail guns on all three of its absurdly expensive Zumwalt-class destroyers, making them that much more expensiver — and deadlier:

[Captain Mike] Ziv said Navy leaders believe the DDG 1000 is the right ship to house the rail gun but that additional study was necessary to examine the risks. A rigorous study on the issue should be finished by the end of this year, Ziv said.

“I think it’s an ideal platform. There is a little bit more work needed to understand the details,” he added.

The DDG 1000 is 65-percent larger than existing 9,500-ton Aegis cruisers and destroyers with a displacement of 15,482 tons,.

The DDG 1000′s integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 58 megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to the possibility of firing a rail gun.

It is also possible that the weapon could someday be configured to fire from DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

“We’ve looked at ships as small as DDG 51s. It takes something of that size. This isn’t something you are going to put on an LCS,” Ziv added.

When I’m Secretary of the Navy, we won’t build any ships too small to be armed with electromagnetic rail guns. And we’re going to build a lot of ships.

Some NSFW language.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

April 15th, 2015 - 10:47 am
“When I sign a bill into law, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less." (AP photo)

“When I sign a bill into law, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
(AP photo)

Actually, it’s a great big win — for the Arbitrary State. Jonathan Adler has the story:

In a series of posts at “Notice & Comment,” the blog of the Yale Journal on Regulation, Professor Andy Grewal documents two additional cases in which the IRS has rewritten the PPACA’s tax credit eligibility requirements so as to expand eligibility beyond what Congress authorized. Combined with other instances of the IRS and HHS disregarding the PPACA’s plain text, it appears the federal government has little regard for what the PPACA actually says.

In his first two posts, Professor Grewall explains how IRS regulations disregard the statutory text so as to extend tax credit eligibility to some low-income aliens not lawfully residing in the U.S. In this way, the IRS regulation “casts a wider net than the statute” by expanding the number of people eligible for tax credits. Yet the IRS never provided any rationale for this change. Indeed, if one had just read the IRS explanation for what its regulations accomplish — as opposed to the regulations themselves — one would not even be aware of what the IRS did.

The IRS, with no authorization from Congress, is using your tax dollars to subsidize insurance purchases to illegal aliens.

Lawbreakers giving your money to lawbreakers, in other words.

There ought to be firings (or jail sentences) for the former and deportations for the latter. Instead, promotions and bonuses for the former and Democrat voter registrations for the latter seems more likely.

Or as another arbitrary ruler once put it, “L’Etat c’est Moi.”

WHY?

April 15th, 2015 - 9:35 am

Sea Lion ’73

April 15th, 2015 - 8:47 am
(Map courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

(Map courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

This is new to me, but back in 1973 British military historian Paddy Griffith put together a large-scale wargame of Hitler’s plan to invade Britain — Operation Sea Lion — in September of 1940. The game, reports Al Nofi, was “based on traditional kriegsspiel methodology… with several dozen players and umpires, all isolated from each other except by means of simulated signaling. Many of the players and umpires were veterans of the war from both sides.” The results might not surprise those of us who enjoy modern and serious-minded computer simulations like Norm Koger’s “The Operational Art of War.” Read:

Although the Germans had elements of 10 divisions ashore, perhaps 90,000 men, most units were still awaiting their second echelons. These could not be dispatched across the Channel due to the presence of the Royal Navy and deteriorating weather. Late in the day the senior German players held an acrimonious staff meeting, during which the Army demanded reinforcements, while the Navy pointed to the poor situation in the Channel, and the Air Force protested a shortage of resources, since it was still bombing London and other cities while also trying to cover the invasion. A decision by the senior German player (“Hitler”) resulted in orders for second wave forces at Calais to cross to Folkestone, leaving troops further west along the coast in Sussex to fight it out with diminishing supplies.

Overnight on the 23rd-24th, the Germans advanced on Canterbury and Dover in Kent, but they were less successful in Sussex. Meanwhile, the Calais-Folkestone convoy managed to get to sea before dawn, as the weather cleared. But about daylight a British destroyer flotilla found the convoy about ten miles out to sea, and cut it to pieces, despite escorting U-boats and motor torpedo boats. The Luftwaffe intervened, but the RAF threw in 19 fighter squadrons. While the British suffered serious damage to several cruisers and destroyers, nearly two-thirds of the German transport barges were sunk. Though some small ships managed to make it to Folkestone, the port was so seriously damaged they could only unload slowly.

This air-sea fight in the Channel was the decisive action of the campaign. German forces ashore in England were rapidly running out of men, equipment, and ammunition, and were unable to effect further advances; at best they might be able to hold out for a week or so on what was at hand. With perhaps three-quarters of the German transport barges lost, further reinforcement was unlikely. As British ground forces began pressing the invaders back into their bridgeheads, the Germans ordered an evacuation. By enormous effort, the Germans were able to pull out about 15,400 of the 90,000 troops who had landed in England.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to succeed at Unternehmen Seelöwe in various board and computer games like Koger’s which use historically accurate models. But given the weather and the orders of battle on both sides, the Germans just can’t get enough men across the Channel, or keep supplied the ones they do get across. Getting the bulk of their troops back across the Channel in a “Reverse Dunkirk” is about the best the German player can hope for.

It’s comforting to know someone like Griffith and his crew of WWII vets couldn’t do any “better” — a comfort personally and historically.

Thought for the Day

April 15th, 2015 - 7:48 am

What the heck — let’s make it a twofer.

News You Can Use

April 15th, 2015 - 6:35 am

ROBOT STATUE

Turns out Ankara is a way cooler place to live than I’d ever thought:

Taxpayers hit the roof when Mayor Melih Gökçek pulled the sheet off his Transformer-like masterpiece, saying it is an enormous waste of their money – and rightly so, as he blew a pretty big budget on it.

The off-the-wall mayor is now being sued by the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers, who have described the robot as a ‘monstrosity’.

I for one welcome our new robot statue overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted internet personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Kill Your Television — Slowly

April 15th, 2015 - 5:07 am
It's too nice a job to rush.

It’s too nice a job to rush.

Kurt Schlichter has an idea or three on how to take the fight to the Progressives’ home turf:

The mainstream media, also known the Democrats’ Steno Pool, looks invincible, but it’s vulnerable too. It needs eyeballs to live, so look elsewhere for your news and information. Every time you watch NBC News, you validate and empower liars who hate you and everything you stand for. So don’t. There’s a growing segment of conservative traditional and alternative media, and even a few mainstream journalists who still try to be objective, like Jake Tapper at CNN. Patronize them. Starve the lib-loving media until it either dies or reforms. The MSM needs you a helluva a lot more than you need it.

The same goes for popular culture. Is your favorite TV cop show disrespecting you? Did last week’s CSI: Rancho Cucamonga episode make the guy responsible for the massacre the Olive Garden be the Tea Partier who went on a shooting spree because the restaurant served breadsticks to black people? You don’t need that crap. Watch something else.

Empower conservative culture by patronizing quality conservative-created entertainment – as thriller writer Brad Thor says, doing so is an act of conscience. It also hits the enemy where it hurts – the wallet.

I’ve been thinking about exactly this, more so since Ace published his piece a week or two ago encouraging people to simply quit watching television.

Due to the nature of my work, it’s just not possible for me to stop reading msnbc.com or HuffPo or any of the rest — they’re my bread & butter. And there are shows I’m simply not ready to give up. Besides, even though I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, I get the feeling that giving it up is hard.

(ASIDE: It isn’t always that difficult. I used to watch Bones with my bride, more out of habit than for enjoyment. But I quit in a huff last year, when a Rush-type radio host was murdered — just after discovering his true liberal self and about to come out in favor of gun control. The killer turned out to be a liberal, but the show made it clear that the real bad guys are those gun-toting NRA types.)

Here’s the thing though. Shows end, don’t they? Finding new shows, quality ones worth watching, that takes effort too, doesn’t it?

Mad Men is about to end, which is sad because this week’s episode was especially good. But unlike AMC, I don’t have a 8PM Sunday slot* which needs filling. Over at AMC, they’re busy trying to come up with the next Mad Men to air — but who says I have to find the next one to watch? AMC is working like mad (heh), however all I have to do is sit back, do nothing, and get an hour of my life back each week.

Game of Thrones? Same story. I’m so angry at HBO most of the time, that I’m happy enough being a year behind and getting the discs “free” from Netflix — that’s less money into HBO’s pocket, and less out of mine. And in two or three years, Game of Thrones will end, too. Who says I have to fill the Netflix queue back up with something else?

Writing this, I realize it’s been years since I watched a sitcom, and I can’t say I miss the format one bit. Police procedurals? Unless you count Castle and Sherlock (which are really adventure stories), then I haven’t seen one of those since I-don’t-know-when. Good dramas are harder to give up, but Justified is about to air its final episode, and not even The Walking Dead can stumble around forever. Banshee is still new, and it’s too much trashy fun to just up and quit — I’ll stay until the end.

But other than that — and a couple other exceptions so unexceptional I can’t think of them off the top of my head — weening myself of TV shouldn’t be that hard. All I (or you) have to do is wait for the inevitable cancellations, and replace that hour of your life with something that isn’t force-fed progressive gruel.

Hit them where it hurts, indeed.

*I don’t actually know what time Mad Men is on. I get stuff from Netflix or iTunes and watch at my convenience.

Caliphs Don’t Gotta Caliphate

April 14th, 2015 - 3:35 pm

There is some not-so-bad news out of the Middle East today, courtesy of StrategyPage:

American intelligence analysts, based on surveillance photos, electronic intercepts (of Internet, radio and cell phone discussions), captured documents and prisoner (and deserter) interrogations, believe that ISIL is now definitely on the defensive in Iraq, despite recent major attacks in Anbar. Although foreign volunteers continue to get to ISIL held areas in Syria and Iraq most of them have few useful skills (combat and otherwise). Meanwhile ISIL is suffering heavy losses (from combat and desertion) among its experienced fighters and specialists. There are growing discipline and morale problems that the senior leadership have few good solutions for. Executing commanders who do not win and lecturing the others is a short term solution that makes things worse in the long term.

ISIL also has financial problems. Iraqi offensives this year have cost ISIL over 90 percent of the oil production facilities it controlled. This oil was transported via truck to Turkey where criminal gangs bought it at a large discount and sold it on the black market. This provided most of the regular cash income ISIL could depend on. Now ISIL has to increase its extortion (of cash from populations it controls) and looting (of whatever they can get their hands on).

It’s good that ISIS is taking a beating. It’s bad that ISIS was ever allowed to fester so long. It may prove worse that Iran has been allowed to use the resulting chaos to make even bigger inroads into Iraq.

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Good lord:

An official at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Monday that Department of Veterans Affairs officials are known to be retaliating against VA whistleblowers by illegally going through their medical records, in an apparent attempt to harass and discredit these whistleblowers.

This surprising testimony from Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner was delivered at a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing, which was called to discuss the problems whistleblowers face when they try to expose the ongoing failure of the VA to provide medical care to veterans.

I’m afraid there’s no reforming the VA. Give each veteran a voucher good anywhere for treatment of health issues related to their service — and then nuke the entire VA from orbit.

It’s the only way to be sure.

Russian SAMs to Iran

April 14th, 2015 - 1:15 pm

Vladimir Putin

You could see this one coming — hot on your six:

After his recent absence, President Putin is back in business, now selling Russia’s advanced S-300 air-defense system to Iran. It’s a transaction that will shake up the Middle East.

Previously, Russia had yielded to American pressure not to supply the S-300 surface-to-air system to Iran, but Putin has apparently decided to roll the dice.

Some will say that this isn’t a big deal, pointing out that Russia has already provided this same weapons system to Egypt. But that’s a false comparison. Where Egypt’s defense posture, at least currently, is focused almost entirely on counterterrorism, Iran’s S-300 interest is far more aggressive. That’s because the S-300 affords Iran both a deterrent and a practical confidence that it could defeat a U.S.-Israeli military attack on its nuclear infrastructure.

I doubt the S-300 could actually defeat a U.S.-Israeli military attack, but it would certainly complicate things. However, getting the new missiles delivered and getting the crews trained — these things take time, if you hear what I’m saying.

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has a future so bright he’s gotta wear shades:

Mr. Patrick, a Democrat and close ally of President Obama, left office in January. At Bain, he is expected to concentrate on raising money for a new fund that will focus as much on positive social impact as it will on investment performance.

Bain Capital, which is based in Boston, is one of the biggest and best-known private equity firms, with roughly $65 billion in assets under management.

Yet Mr. Patrick will be joining a firm that became a lightning rod during the past two presidential elections: One of its founders was Mitt Romney, a predecessor of Mr. Patrick in Massachusetts, whose stint in private equity drew scrutiny and criticism from political opponents during his run for the presidency.

One of Bain Capital’s current leaders is Stephen Pagliuca, a longtime Democratic donor who ran unsuccessfully for a United States senate seat in Massachusetts in 2009.

Of course, the move by Mr. Patrick to Bain Capital isn’t the first by a public official to private equity. In 2013, Timothy F. Geithner, the former Treasury secretary, joined the investment firm Warburg Pincus as president.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just seems a bit curious is all, that Democrats seem to move between Washington and Wall Street just as easily as they slip between Washington and the Mainstream Media.

It’s almost as if one hand washes the other.

FIFY

April 14th, 2015 - 11:01 am

HILLARY!

That’s better.

UPDATE: If I were Hillary’s manager, I’d suggest the campaign slogan “Be Kind, Rewind” which elicits warm, fuzzy memories of the ’90s and gentle Jack Black comedies.

All He Is Saying Is Give Nukes a Chance

April 14th, 2015 - 9:35 am

Elizabeth Price Foley on Corker-Menendez:

If Congress can somehow get Corker-Menendez enacted, would it bind the President, or would he be free to ignore it, claiming his own, independent Article II authority to negotiate “executive agreements” with other nations?

My own opinion, FWIW, is that any modification of statutorily-imposed sanctions on Iran (and there are many) would require amendment to those statutes, which is what Corker-Menendez seeks to accomplish. I am deeply concerned, however, that Obama will veto Corker-Menendez, Congress won’t have the votes to override, and Obama will (once again) act unilaterally, claiming broadly worked waiver provisions in existing statutes give him the authority to lift sanctions in his discretion. He will then support a UN Security Council resolution lifting sanctions (with little to no verification regime). Once this is done, the US will have little practical ability to back out, as Iran will have the “blessing” and cover of the world community/international law.

And why wouldn’t the world flock to Iran, given that even the US President has given his tacit-verging-on-explicit acknowledgment that Tehran, not Washington, is to be the region’s next powerbroker?

This is the Obama Doctrine — surrendering American power and influence, and opening doors for Islamic radicals.

It’s a Sicilian Message

April 14th, 2015 - 8:18 am
"Be my friend... Godfather."

“Be my friend… Godfather.”

The last Vice President with no hope to ever hold the top spot was Dick Cheney — but then he always knew that. For better or worse, George W Bush didn’t pick a veep with the party’s future in mind. Instead, he picked someone with gravitas to add some heft to a young candidate, and to act as sort of a Prime Minister.

Young Senator Barack Obama also picked his veep for his gravitas (true story!), but poor Joe never knew he had no real future, no shot at the top spot. Biden’s real job was to act as a sort of gaffe deflector — and poor Joe never seems to have understood he had no real shot at the top spot.

Until now:

Biden has been toying with a presidential bid but said little about it in recent weeks as all focus has turned to his chief competitor, Clinton.

And Obama has talked Clinton up more than Biden, saying last week, “She was a formidable candidate in 2008. She was a great supporter of mine in the general election. She was an outstanding secretary of state. She is my friend.”

He added, “I think she would be an excellent president.”

You’re out, Joe.

Drudge, You Magnificent Bastard…

April 14th, 2015 - 7:12 am

DRUDGE

*slow clap*

Caliphs Gotta Caliphate

April 14th, 2015 - 7:05 am
Internally displaced people who fled from Tikrit, Iraq, because they feared Islamic State militants walk around a refugee camp outside Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Internally displaced people who fled from Tikrit, Iraq, because they feared Islamic State militants walk around a refugee camp outside Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

CNN reports from the Shariya refugee camp in ISIS-held Iraqi Kurdistan:

The vast majority of the camp’s occupants are from the town of Sinjar and fled the ISIS assault there back in August. But not everyone escaped. ISIS took thousands of Yazidis captive.

Men faced a choice — convert to Islam or be shot. But the Islamist militants separated the young women and girls to be sold as sex slaves

In its fourth edition of “Dabiq,” the ISIS online magazine, an article titled “The revival of slavery before the hour,” outlines the group’s twisted justification and guidelines for the enslavement of the Yazidis.

“One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar (infidels) and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of Shariah,” the article reads.

We’re told that women who have just given birth or are breastfeeding are considered impure and cannot be taken as sexual slaves — but Hanan, 19, was neither of those things.

“They separated all of us,” she says. “They dragged us away by our hair. They took married women, young ones. The youngest with us was just 10. We were all crying.

Read the whole thing — if you can.

News You Can Use

April 14th, 2015 - 6:51 am

Florida Man does in a squirrel or two:

Police received calls about 10 a.m. Sunday concerning a man with a BB gun walking in the area of St. Marks Avenue, just south of Parkway Drive. The man told police he believed the squirrels were a growing nuisance in the area, officers said.

“It’s not a call that we usually deal with. He had a problem with squirrels in his yard, and he had exterminated one, and his neighbor also had a problem with one,” Melbourne police spokesman Pete Mercaldo said. “The neighbors were complaining about seeing him with a BB gun.”

It was not immediately known how many squirrels the man — identified by police as the president of the neighborhood association for the area — had killed.

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

Nice Launch, Tim — Don’t Get Cocky

April 14th, 2015 - 5:09 am
The clasp that outsmarted the VodkaPundit, again and again.

The clasp that outsmarted the VodkaPundit, again and again.

Best estimate is that Apple sold nearly 1,000,000 Apple Watches just in the US on launch day, with expectations to sell between three and five million this quarter. If memory serves, it took the company about 70 days to sell the first million iPhones, and about a month to sell the first million iPads.

So, for a new product category, there’s no denying it’s been a big success — so far. While I can’t seem to locate the exact post, I’m with Jim Dalrymple that the real test for the Watch’s success will come in a few months. That’s when we’ll know the answer to the question: Are people actually still wearing and using them? If so, then that 3-5 million estimate looks low to me. If not, then Tim Cook has some ‘splainin to do.

Melissa and I did make it to our local Apple Store this weekend to sample all the new goodies. First impression? These are seriously well-made watches. If the guts were filled with timeless Swiss movements instead of limited lifetime electronics, I’d say the Swiss would have some serious worrying to do.

Second impression was that while thicker than I’d prefer personally, neither the 38mm or 42mm is too big or bulky. In fact, either size looked pretty good even on my skinny wrists.

Melissa was off-put at first, trying on the smaller watch with the Milanese loop bracelet. The thing wouldn’t sit still on her wrist, making it look bulkier than it actually is. She also complained it wasn’t comfortable. However, when she tried different models with either the fluoroelastomer or leather bracelets, the problem went away. There’s a reason Apple is encouraging customers to try on as many models as they like, and there it is.

There’s also a learning curve for the new interface, but I didn’t have any trouble at all figuring it out over the course of a couple of minutes. It works as advertised with all those Apple-y “oooh!” flourishes, but the Watch won’t get seriously interesting until the app developers have their way with it.

A few other brief impressions.

The butterfly-style latch on the stainless steel is a work of genius — but it might be a little too smart. There’s a learning curve to closing the thing, and I never did clear it. The only way I could latch it was to turn my wrist upside down and press the watch face against the table. Only then could I see and feel it well enough to make it work. Maybe that gets easier over time.

The Milanese loop is as pretty as I’d hoped, but the magnet is strong. That’s good for keeping it on your arm, not so good for removing the watch easily. Release the magnet, start removing the watch, and the first thing the magnet tries to do is re-attach itself — even from a distance. Again, I assume there’s a learning curve.

The leather bracelets are nice. Really nice. There’s a light pink/dove gray which my wife, who never wears pink, fell in love with. It will dress up or down with ease. I suspect that the stainless steel watch/pink-gray band is going to be a big holiday and birthday seller this year.

The aluminum Sport model is light, shockingly so. And the fluoroelastomer band is extremely soft and pleasant to touch.

There are no 18k gold Edition models available for sale or demo in Colorado, so we didn’t get to try those.

Overall impression? These are good watches — with a “but” and an “and.”

Let’s do the “but” first.

The Sport models would be overpriced, were it not for all the smartwatch features. Slap “CASIO” on the outside and put a cheap LCD screen under the crystal, and you’d have a $120 high-end digital watch. If you aren’t totally sold on smartwatches, don’t buy one of the Sport models just because they’re the cheapest and you want to see what all the fuss is about. Word is that the Sport model accounts for 60% of pre-orders so far, but I couldn’t recommend one to potential Apple Watch buyers on the basis of anything but price. Unless, of course, light weight is your primary concern.

And now the “and.”

The stainless steel Watch line has exactly the kind of quality and selection you’d expect from a $500-$1,000 traditional watch. You could spend the same money on something from Japan or Switzerland, and get a damn fine timepiece. Or you could give the money to Apple and get the world’s best smartwatch. Either way, if you’re seriously into watches or smartwatches, then it’s money well spent. However, I’m waiting to see how Jim Dalrymple’s three-month test pans out before I decide whether or not to splurge. Besides, shipping times have slipped into June and July, so there’s no rush to decide.

The Edition line is far too expensive to give any kind of review or recommendation — if you’re not a member of the “If You Have to Ask You Can’t Afford It Club,” then by all means, make the splurge. We’ll be seeing plenty of these on the wrists of Chinese businessmen’s wives and/or mistresses, some Hollywood types, and that’s probably about it.

Apple Watch is a solid first generation product, which fairly earns most of its complaints but none of the hate. (Yes, there is Apple Watch hate out there on the innerwebs. Weird.) First generation buyers will lose out on next year’s improvements, but like every other Apple device, it ought to maintain a high resale value.

Unless of course it ends up failing the Dalrymple Test, in which case Tim Cook really will have some ‘splainin to do.