Alison Grimes campaign to out-of-state volunteers: Don’t let Kentucky locals see you wearing Obama t-shirts.
Alison Grimes campaign to out-of-state volunteers: Don’t let Kentucky locals see you wearing Obama t-shirts.
That’s the word on the streets of Pyongyang:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in firm control of his government but has hurt his leg, a source with access to the secretive North’s leadership said on Thursday, playing down speculation over the 31-year-old’s health and grip on power.
North Korea’s state media, which usually chronicles Kim’s whereabouts in great detail, has not made any mention of his activities since he attended a concert with his wife on Sept. 3.
The source said that Kim hurt his leg while inspecting military exercises.
“He ordered all the generals to take part in drills and he took part too. They were crawling and running and rolling around, and he pulled a tendon,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
All kinds of accidents can happen to a busy leader on the move.
Harry Reid’s bodyguard attacks “Crapitalism” author Jason Mattera.
Another open enrollment period, another massive wave of policy cancellations:
It looks like several hundred thousand people across the country will receive notices in the coming days and weeks,” said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
The policies are being canceled because states that initially granted a reprieve at the request of President Obama are no longer willing to do so.
In coming weeks, 13 states and the District of Columbia plan to cancel such policies, which generally fall out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because they don’t offer the level of coverage the law requires.
Virginia will be hardest hit, with 250,000 policies expected to be canceled.
If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.
The Democrats have it — does the GOP need it?
Your Trifecta gang is on a bunch of different pages on this one.
It’s lonely at the top — or bottom, or wherever President Obama is when he isn’t at a fundraiser:
The disenchantment with Obama is in part a reflection of inevitable fatigue with a president entering his final years in office. But some Democrats say it is also a consequence of the president’s insular approach to governing and his preference for relying on a small cadre of White House advisers, leaving him with few loyal allies on Capitol Hill or elsewhere.
“This president is supremely independent,” said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and longtime adviser to President Bill Clinton. “In many ways that is a very good thing. He probably came to the presidency owing less to other people than any president in memory. The risk is that independence can morph into isolation.”
Here’s a fun game you can play right there at home or in your office. Name a longtime, non-political friend of Obama’s. I’ll give you a minute.
It’s OK. I couldn’t think of any either.
Now name a longtime friend of Obama’s who holds elective office in Washington.
Give up? Me, too.
He has his Chicago cadre, but even that has shrunk over the last couple of years. And his relations with Capitol Hill, such as they are and have ever been, leave him with few shoulders to lean on and little sage advice to be whispered in his ear.
I’ve written on several occasions (as recently as last week regarding Stevie Wonder) about rock stars who reach that pinnacle of success where no one — not their bands, not their managers, not their producers — can tell them No anymore and make it stick. And then the music starts to suck and the record sales decline. The fans, at least, get to say no.
But instead of an unlistenable album by an aging rock god, we get ebola and ISIL and a disintegrating southern border. Honestly, I’d rather listen to Stevie Wonder’s In Square Circle on autorepeat until the cows die of boredom.
Speaking of listening, or of not listening, here’s Ed Morrissey:
When George Bush asked for Rumsfeld’s resignation, it was because Bush had followed Rumsfeld’s advice, for better and worse, and knew a new direction was needed. Reagan asked chief of staff Donald Regan to resign during the Iran-Contra scandal because Reagan needed a new hatchet man to handle the crisis. A fresh team won’t have the same value in this case. As Panetta, Clinton, and Gates make clear in their memoirs, Obama wasn’t taking their advice anyway. It’s likely that he’s not listening to his current team any more than his previous team, except to the extent that they tell Obama what he wants to hear.
Do you get the idea that Obama reached the Aging Rock Star phase around the time he published his first memoir shortly before his 33rd birthday?
Ron Fournier, back on the warpath:
A senator. A House member. A former presidential campaign manager. An adviser to President Obama. All Democrats, these officials have made it a habit to call or email me almost every week of Obama’s second term to share their concerns about the course of his presidency.
They ask only that I don’t identify them. Some fear retribution; others don’t want to compromise their financial or political standing inside their party. These Democrats speak admirably about the president’s intellect, integrity, and intentions, but they question his leadership—an admittedly squishy term that can be unfairly deployed against people with the guts to lead. But their critiques are specific, consistent and credible—and they comport with what many other Democrats are telling other journalists, almost always, privately.
Leon Panetta speaks for them now.
Read the whole thing. For what it’s worth, Fournier just convinced me to buy Panetta’s book.
Jeff Cox wonders aloud…
Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side.
As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming.
No one, Kemosabe? I’ve been warning for years that absent the Fed, there’s not enough market demand to soak up our new debt and to refi our old debt.
What do you do with a Department of Agriculture employee who failed to notice a rat infestation at a pasta factory? Overturn his punishment and reward him with back pay, of course:
Now, a federal labor board has directed an arbitrator to consider whether taxpayers also should reimburse the $67,589-a-year federal worker for legal costs–which his union already covered–even though the food inspector didn’t notice rat feces in a storage room where a bag of flour was ripped open.
Critics of government inefficiency call the sequence of events a cautionary tale about the difficulty of punishing, much less firing, federal employees for poor work — even when it endangers public health.
Irvin Boesen is now also suing to recover his legal fees.
Sure looks that way if this report turns out to be true:
NBC is holding crisis meetings over the future of “Nightly News With Brian Williams” after rival ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” scored a historic ratings win, the New York Post reports.
For the week of Sept. 29, ABC’s newscast scored an across-the-board win in total viewers — 8.4 million — as well as the golden demos, adults 25 to 54 and adults aged 18 to 49. NBC’s “Nightly News” trailed with 8.2 million viewers.
Sources tell The Post that after the release of the figures Tuesday, “the NBC News morning call was very somber. A meeting was held with the ‘Nightly News’ executive producer to try to motivate the staff. There will be further crisis meetings.”
I wrote about NBC’s declining fortunes almost exactly five years ago. Here’s the crux of what I said then:
By the turn of the century, the anchor programs of NBC’s Thursday nights (Friends, W&G, E/R) had all gone stale, and NBC had lost its nerve to take the risks necessary to develop and nurture fresh replacement shows. “Hill Street” was still going pretty strong at the end. “Cheers” went out on a high note. But “E/R” had been barely watchable for four or five entire seasons before NBC finally, mercifully pulled the plug.
NBC first forgot its brand, then it forgot how to compete. Now it’s losing to F/X, which I wasn’t even sure was a real network until just now.
That’s NBC’s entertainment division, but the NBC News division seems to be in just as much trouble. The entertainment side stopped taking risks on quality new shows, and the news division forgot how to develop new talent with appeal outside of MS/NBC’s core audience of lefties.
The time to panic was when Tim Russert passed away and there was nobody with even half his stature waiting in the wings as his replacement.
That was six years ago.
Another disappointing quarter for the South Korean electronics giant:
The company said it would report an operating profit of $3.8 billion for the quarter ending in September — a decline of nearly 60 percent from the same time a year earlier. Sales fell to $44 billion, off 20 percent from a year ago.
The preliminary guidance, which Samsung issued ahead of its quarterly report, due later this month, failed to meet the $5.2 billion average profit estimate of 43 analysts pulled by Thomson Reuters.
The South Korean electronics giant said that while smartphone shipments increased, its operating margins fell because of higher marketing costs, fewer shipments of high-end phones and a lower average selling price for the devices.
The company said it is responding with a new smartphone lineup that will include new midrange and low-end devices, which would make Samsung’s products more competitive in markets such as China.
Scrambling for low-margin sales against even lower-margin competitors in a low-margin market doesn’t seem like the best way to increase margins.
I’ve just coined a new phrase. “Cold-blooded insouciance.” Here’s why:
The key Syrian border city of Kobani will soon fall to ISIS, but that’s not a major U.S. concern, several senior U.S. administration officials said.
If Kobani falls, ISIS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey — a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).
The U.S. officials said the primary goals are not to save Syrian cities and towns, but to go after ISIS’ senior leadership, oil refineries and other infrastructure that would curb the terror group’s ability to operate — particularly in Iraq.
I warned a month ago that the President’s war strategery would force ISIL into the cities, from which we’d have an nearly impossible time weeding them out, and even retired General John Allen has warned that “Expectations need to be managed” in a campaign which “could take years.”
The people of Kobani will have their expectations managed quite brutally.
Presidents often need new energy and talent to refurbish their second terms. George W. Bush opted for such a shake-up in 2006 and it arguably saved his presidency. Barack Obama is now facing a similar moment, and there are signs he’s looking to make some personnel changes after the November congressional elections.
The benefits that can come from new blood can be seen in Bush’s second term. In 2006, the Iraq War was going badly; the country was bitterly divided; policy decisions were not always being implemented. Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, told the president he needed someone new running the White House.
Bush recruited Josh Bolten as chief of staff for his last two-and-a-half years, and it proved an inspired choice. Out went Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, John Snow at Treasury and Porter Goss at the CIA. In came Gates, Henry Paulson and Michael Hayden — three of Bush’s best Cabinet appointments.
Ignatius missed one political angle, and for that we need to go back to just after the 2006 election.
The GOP lost, as I’m sure you remember, and lost big. Bush got the message, finally fired Don Rumsfeld and announced the Iraq Surge. But the rank & file Republicans on Capitol Hill were absolutely furious — why didn’t he do these things before the election, when they might have done the GOP some political good? Instead, Bush waited until after the November Massacre, and the party has yet to fully recover these eight years later.
Obama is in a similar fix. If he makes big moves now, it looks like panic. If the Democrats get shellacked next month, Obama wins himself no friends. (Although unlike most presidents, having friends on Capitol Hill was never one of Obama’s priorities.) The time to move was last spring; anything else looks reactionary and weak, even if the personal changes do end up leading to better policies and a more smoothly-functioning White House.
That said, I don’t at this late date expect to see much improvement in this Administration, even if the President does announce big personnel changes for his last two years — unless one of those changes involves sending Valerie Jarrett back to Chicago on a full-time and permanent basis.
If you like your full-time job, you can keep your full-time job:
The ACA’s overall impact on employment, however, will arguably be larger than that of any single piece of legislation since World War II.
• The ACA’s employment taxes create strong incentives to work less. The health subsidies’ structure will put millions in a position in which working part time (29 hours or fewer, as defined by the ACA) will yield more disposable income than working their normal full-time schedule.
• The reduction in weekly employment due to these ACA disincentives is estimated to be about 3 percent, or about 4 million fewer full-time-equivalent workers. This is the aggregate result of the law’s employment disincentives, and is nearly double the impact most recently estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.
• Nearly half of American workers will be affected by at least one of the ACA’s employment taxes—and this does not account for the indirect effect on others as the labor market adjusts.
• The ACA will push more women than men into part-time work. Because a greater percentage of women work just above 30 hours per week, it is women who will be more likely to drop to part-time work as defined by the ACA.
War on women, indeed.
I’d just add one other thing. This is Obama’s part-time nation, we just work in it — if we’re lucky.
A South Korean naval ship fired warning shots on Tuesday after a North Korean patrol boat crossed a disputed sea border off the peninsula’s west coast and fired shots back before retreating, a South Korean defense official said.
There were no casualties on the South Korean side and none of the shots by either side was aimed at the other’s vessel, he told Reuters.
It was the latest in a series of similar altercations near Yeonpyeong island, which was bombed by the North in 2010 killing four people, including two civilians.
It would be easy to ascribe too much to this incident, given all the uncertainty about North Korea’s leadership. But as that last graf indicates, these things happen all the time around the DMZ and Korea’s coastal waters.
On the other hand, Norks be crazy.
David Sax says the bacon boom is no accident:
In terms of economic impact, nothing beats bacon. While most food trends tend to trickle down from the gourmet market into the mouths of mass consumers, that wasn’t the case with bacon. Bacon mania was sparked not in the kitchens of fancy restaurants in New York or Chicago, but in the pork industry’s humble marketing offices in Iowa, where people like Joe Leathers engineered a turnaround for an underappreciated cut of pig.
Turnaround? Underappreciated? I honestly don’t understand.
I’ve witnessed the bacon boom, sure, but always figured it was just a fun social trend about a food everybody already knew and loved. You couldn’t turn around bacon’s appeal anymore than you could turn the tide — it’s something which simply is.
Except that apparently I had it all wrong, and until recently most people really did think that God’s Own Pork Product was just for breakfast.
I won’t ask what took everybody so long. It’s just nice to have you all aboard.
Scott Ott has the Trifecta Triple this week, and we had a lot of fund with the very serious topic of the midterms and the two parties’ campaign strategies.
The producer of a new movie that criticizes Obamacare has reportedly become the latest prominent conservative slapped with an IRS audit.
Logan Clements, producer of “Sick and Sicker: ObamaCare Canadian Style,” announced via press release Tuesday that he is being audited for the first time ever.
“I had never been audited before I made this movie,” he says in a YouTube video. “There seems to be a pattern here.”
The news comes one month after the conservative Breitbart News announced that it, too, was being audited and that the action was probably politically motivated.
More politically-motivated audits? It isn’t as if this White House weren’t already known for doubling down on shoddy policies.
I just got off the phone with a desperate-sounding Kurdish intelligence official, Rooz Bahjat, who said he fears that Kobani could fall to ISIS within the next 24 hours. If it does, he predicts that ISIS will murder thousands in the city, which is crammed with refugees—Kurdish, Turkmen, Christian, and Arab—from other parts of the Syrian charnel house. As many as 50,000 civilians remain in the town, Bahjat said.
“A terrible slaughter is coming. If they take the city, we should expect to have 5,000 dead within 24 or 36 hours,” he told me. “It will be worse than Sinjar,” the site of a recent ISIS massacre that helped prompt President Obama to fight ISIS. There have been reports of airstrikes on ISIS vehicles, but so far, Bahjat said that these strikes have been modest in scope and notably ineffective.
Kobani is located on the Turkish border, but Bahjat said he is receiving reports that Turkey is pulling its troops back, rather than risk armed confrontation with ISIS. “It’s unbelievable—Turkey is in NATO, so you literally have NATO watching what is happening in this town. Everyone can see it—the TV cameras are there, watching. It’s terrible.”
ABC News reports that airstrikes near Kobani are doing nothing to stop ISIL.
This is what real persecution looks like:
A prominent Nigerian reverend has revealed Islamist terror group Boko Haram destroyed over 180 churches in the West African country following its capture of towns and villages in the north-eastern states of Borno and Adamawa.
Reverend Gideon Obasogie, the director of Catholic Social Communication of Maiduguri Diocese in Borno State, said the group’s seizure of territory in both states has seen 185 churches torched and over 190,000 people displaced by their insurgency.
In his statement, Obasogie said Boko Haram’s “ransacking and torching” of churches had forced priests to leave their homes for two months while displaced civilians were still unable to return to their towns and villages.
The last Ralph Peters novel I read was The War After Armageddon, in which a radicalized “United God-Fearing States of America” wages all-out war against the Islamic world, following the nuclear destruction of Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was an exhausting read, and not just because of the constant and vivid scenes of brutal combat.
It’s far-fetched of course, and a work of fiction. But it’s an all-out religious war that we’re trying to avoid by working with more moderate and modern elements within the Islamic world, and why backing elements such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the Iranian government is a mistake. Gangs like Boko Haram would make Peters’ fictional vision come true if given the chance — or maybe it would be more accurate to say, “if given enough chances.”
Put down the coffee and pick up the blood pressure medication before reading Kevin Williamson:
Home-schoolers represent the only authentically radical social movement in the United States (Occupy Wall Street was a fashion statement) and so they must be suppressed, as a malevolent committee of leftist academics and union bosses under the direction of Governor Dannel Malloy is preparing to do in Connecticut, using the Sandy Hook massacre as a pretext. The ghouls invariably rush to the podium after every school massacre, issuing their insipid press releases before the bodies have even cooled, and normally they’re after your guns. But the Malloy gang is after your children.
Malloy’s committee on the Newtown shootings is recommending that Connecticut require home-schooling families to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction. For anybody even passingly familiar with contemporary government schools, which are themselves a peerless source of social and emotional dysfunction, this development is bitterly ironic.
It seems Dana Milbank’s feelings are hurt:
Leon Panetta, in an interview with USA Today’s Susan Page published just before Jindal’s speech, criticized Obama in harsh terms that would have been dismissed as partisan sniping — if Panetta weren’t a Democrat who had served as Obama’s CIA director and secretary of defense.
George W. Bush got criticism from former advisers (Paul O’Neill, John DiIulio), as did Bill Clinton (George Stephanopoulos, Dick Morris), but this level of disloyalty is stunning, even though it is softened with praise for Obama’s intellect.
At the start of the year, Robert Gates, Obama’s first defense secretary, wrote a memoir full of criticism of Obama’s handling of Afghanistan, saying Obama made military decisions based on political considerations. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who also published a book this year, criticized Obama for rejecting her advice on Syria and mocked the “Don’t do stupid stuff” phrase used by administration officials to describe Obama’s doctrine.
The lack of message discipline is puzzling, because Obama rewards and promotes loyalists.
Puzzling? Really? Disloyalty presumes loyalty was at some point earned. I Googled “Obama under the bus” and got over 42 million results — beginning, if memory serves, with his own grandmother.
Chickens coming home to roost, indeed.
After 80 years in publishing limbo, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s grownup memoirs are finally available:
Wilder’s Pioneer Girl, the story of her childhood, was begun by the author in 1930, when she was in her early 60s, but was rejected by editors at the time. It contains stories omitted from her novels, tales that Wilder herself felt “would not be appropriate” for children, such as her family’s sojourn in the town of Burr Oak, where she once saw a man became so drunk that, when he lit a cigar, the whisky fumes on his breath ignited and killed him instantly. In another recollection, a shopkeeper drags his wife around by her hair, pours kerosene on the floor of his house, and sets their bedroom on fire.
This is why I gave up smoking.
Vincent Reinhart, former Fed staffer and chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, thinks the Fed’s thinking is straight out of Peter Pan:
Reinhart said the Fed’s impossible thing is how they think they can raise interest rates with a big balance sheet without embracing its new tool – overnight reverse repo trades.
The Fed placed a $300 billion cap on volume of reverse repo trades. A reverse repo is when the Fed accepts cash from counterparties such as banks and money-market funds on an overnight basis in return for a security.
But the Fed doesn’t seem to want to want to make the reverse repo facility very large, wary of its market impact.
“If they don’t sell assets or drain them on a temporary basis in large scale, then the volume of reserves in the banking system will undermine the reserves market. They cannot have both small reverse repos and a meaningful effective funds rate,” Reinhart said in a follow-up email.
I’ve lost track of how many trillions are on the Fed’s balance sheet, or how many trillions cycle through the big central bank every year — but at some point, the numbers are just so enormous that it no longer matters. The fact is that there is so much money under the control of so few people that nobody really knows, nobody really can know, what will happen when the Fed starts to unwind that massive balance sheet.
The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is digging into its pockets again to help Euro Disney, operator of the troubled Disneyland Paris theme park complex. The U.S. parent is backing a €1 billion ($1.25 billion) bailout, including a 420 million capital increase and the conversion of debt it’s owed by Euro Disney into shares in the French company.
Paris-listed shares in Euro Disney (EDL:FP) plunged as much as 16 percent today, Oct. 6, on news of its second major recapitalization in two years. Euro Disney hasn’t made a profit since 2008, a situation exacerbated recently by declining attendance as the French economy falters. The company has said it could lose as much as €120 million this year, with sales down 3 percent. By contrast, sales at Disney’s U.S. park and resort operations are up 8 percent this year.
Maybe it’s time someone at corporate seriously questioned the wisdom of operating a theme park on a continent without children.
I never thought I’d be linking to a story about a man rolling a giant testicle cross-country, but it’s for a worthy cause:
Testicular cancer survivor Thomas Cantley is pushing a giant ball across America to raise awareness for men’s health.
He quit his job and sold his house to push a six-foot ‘testicle’ from Los Angeles to New York City after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, according to his website.
He’s travelled more than 1,500 miles so far, but the story doesn’t say how much money he’s raised. “Awareness” is a more difficult measure, but there is a giant rolling testicle involved.
Traveling slightly north, we have this potentially related story from Wake Forest:
Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are assessing engineered penises for safety, function and durability. They hope to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and to move to human testing within five years.
Professor Anthony Atala, director of the institute, oversaw the team’s successful engineering of penises for rabbits in 2008. “The rabbit studies were very encouraging,” he said, “but to get approval for humans we need all the safety and quality assurance data, we need to show that the materials aren’t toxic, and we have to spell out the manufacturing process, step by step.”
The penises would be grown using a patient’s own cells to avoid the high risk of immunological rejection after organ transplantation from another individual. Cells taken from the remainder of the patient’s penis would be grown in culture for four to six weeks.
This is great news for men with congenital defects or disfiguring injuries, but I fear what will happen when the porn industry inevitably gets hold of this technology.
File this one under Eliminating Waste & Fraud:
Non-profit group Southern United Neighborhoods got a $1.3 million federal grant in 2013 to serve as a “navigator,” enrolling people in Affordable Care Act coverage. The group subcontracted with United Labor Unions Local 100, which, according to Cause of Action, paid members less than it billed the government and, in some cases, paid them to recruit union members. The watchdog group discovered the alleged discrepancy in court papers filed by union workers suing the labor organization for unpaid overtime.
“Southern United Neighborhoods and ULU Local 100, both rebranded ACORN entities, present a risk of violating the law – this time by potentially misusing over $1.3 million of taxpayer dollars for union activities instead of enrolling individuals in the Affordable Care Act,” Daniel Epstein, executive director for Cause of Action said to FoxNews.com.
Epstein and his group sent a letter to the federal Health and Human Services Inspector General this week asking that SUN and the union be investigated for fraud.
“Given the amount of federal dollars at issue, the Inspector General should investigate SUN and conduct an audit into the potential misuse of ACA navigator funds,” read the letter.
There’s more slush in this law than in my garage in February.