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Thought for the Day

July 18th, 2014 - 11:47 am

Ouch

July 18th, 2014 - 9:23 am

Truesbury13_July18

Upon learning of Truesbury last week, it immediately became one of my daily stops.

Required Reading

July 18th, 2014 - 8:04 am

Moral Clarity in Gaza” is the headline to this week’s Krauthammer:

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.

Those niceties are of no interest to the Hamas death cult.

Making the Pain Last and Last

July 18th, 2014 - 6:49 am

I’ve always been a “rip the Bandaid off all at once” kind of guy, so the latest from Redmond strikes me as a bad move:

Microsoft yesterday said it could take as long as a year to lay off the 18,000 workers who will be eventually shown the door, a long, drawn-out morale-busting process that was criticized by both labor experts and industry analysts.

“I’m definitely not a fan,” Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, and like many at the Kirkland, Wash. research firm a former Microsoft employee, said of the lengthy process. “You owe it to your long-term Nokia and Microsoft employees to do it as quickly as possible. You also owe it to yourself to do it as cleanly and quickly as possible. The longer it drones on, the more randomized people get.”

There are some simple rules for keeping a happy ship. One is to praise your people in public, and to scold them in private. Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer were both pretty bad at this, if by “pretty bad” you mean “terrible.” Another is that when you have to let people go, let them go ASAP so that the survivors can stop worrying and get back to work.

What the hell is Satya Nadella thinking? It’s clear he has a major restructuring in mind, but stretching out the layoffs like this indicates that it isn’t ready for implementation yet. It makes no sense to me to make this a drawn-out two-step. Cuts, but over the next six-to-twelve months. Restructuring, but not yet.

Or as a better writer once wrote, “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.”

PPR: GOP Now 75% Likely to Win Senate

July 18th, 2014 - 5:24 am

senate_map_071514

This must be the weekend to spend some time scanning the various pollsters and reports and put together the next Wargaming column, but in the meantime here’s Tom Dougherty:

We recently made two rating changes; Iowa is now a Toss-Up (previously Leans D), and Virginia moved to Leans Democrat (previously Likely D).

Several particular factors have influenced the latest ratings on an overall basis, and there is much new information in most of the individual races.

While often considered more of a house race metric; the Generic Congressional Vote continues to hover near even, down from a Democratic advantage late last year of 5% to 7%, demonstrative of the general attitude of voters toward each party.

President Obama’s approval rating is trending downward again, and approaching his worst numbers (minus 16%) in the last year. Real Clear Politics reports his current average rating at minus 12.7%, but that includes an apparent outlier from Rasmussen Reports. Most distressing for Democrats, outliers or not, is that the trendlines are negative and at the least opportune time.

The middle of the summer is when the incumbent party needs those polls to start showing an upswing, and recent headlines from Ukraine, Gaza, and our own southern border aren’t going to be of any help to the White House or to Harry Reid.

Thought for the Day

July 17th, 2014 - 1:58 pm

18,000 ‘Softies Hitting the Bricks

July 17th, 2014 - 12:35 pm

Microsoft announced its biggest layoffs ever, and the underlying message is that buying Nokia was a mistake. Workers at the formerly-independent phonemaker will take the brunt of the cuts.

Google tried to buy its way into relevance as a smartphone maker by buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. They sold it off barely more than two years later for less than $3 billion. Late last year Microsoft bought Nokia’s handset division for $7.2 billion, and that has already turned out not to be worth much more than the prices of several thousand pink slips and severance packages.

These troubles are nothing unique to Google or to Microsoft — mergers & acquisitions are hard, and rarely work out as planned. And that’s if they work out at all. Ford and GM went on a buying spree of foreign automakers (SAAB, Jaguar, Aston-Martin, etc) and proceeded very quickly to drive them all into the dirt. It’s very difficult for a company to buy its way into relevancy in new markets. Ford had about as much business building Jaguars as Google did building its own smartphones.

When buyouts do work, it tends to be when a much bigger company is the buyer of a much smaller company, to gain needed technology or desired expertise, and then impose its own corporate culture on the buy-ee. Marriages usually work best as a partnership of equals; buyouts usually work best when one company completely loses its identity.

It’s an expensive lesson, but business leaders never seem to tire of learning it.

*****

Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle

SHOT DOWN

All I have to add to this story is, prepare for more just like it in the years ahead. Global lawlessness is increasing as the cost of obtaining offensive weaponry decreases. Not only is that a dangerous combination, but the two trends, absent strong global leadership, are mutually reinforcing.

The One-State Solution

July 17th, 2014 - 9:56 am

IS

Israel annexing the West Bank in its entirety — it’s the kind of thing you’re not supposed to say out loud in polite company. And yet today we have two columnists saying that’s exactly what might happen. Let’s start with Seth Lipsky in today’s New York Post:

The collapse of a ceasefire plan for Israel and Hamas would be a moment to test the Jewish state’s super-weapon — Caroline Glick. Or, more precisely, her idea of a one-state plan for peace in the Middle East.

Glick laid out the plan in a book called “The Israeli Solution.” Her idea, which I wrote about in March, is to absorb into a single state — Israel — all of the West Bank and the Arab and Jewish populations who live there.

It’s as controversial as an idea can get. She leaves aside Gaza, where there is no Israeli presence and which is ruled by Hamas. Yet her plan for the West Bank fairly begs to be put on the table after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s press conference Friday.

And then at Tablet, we have fellow PJM columnist David “Spengler” Goldman:

A one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is upon us. It won’t arrive by Naftali Bennett’s proposal to annex the West Bank’s Area C, or through the efforts of BDS campaigners and Jewish Voice for Peace to alter the Jewish state. But it will happen, sooner rather than later, as the states on Israel’s borders disintegrate and other regional players annex whatever they can. As that happens, Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is becoming inevitable.

The central premise of Western diplomacy in the region has been pulled inside-out, namely that a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue was the key to long-term stability in the Middle East. Now the whole of the surrounding region has become one big refugee crisis. Yet the seemingly spontaneous emergence of irregular armies like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) now rampaging through northern Mesopotamia should be no surprise. The misnamed Arab Spring of 2011 began with an incipient food crisis in Egypt and a water crisis in Syria. Subsidies from the Gulf States keep Egypt on life support. In Syria and Iraq, though, displaced populations become foraging armies that loot available resources, particularly oil, and divert the proceeds into armaments that allow the irregulars to keep foraging. ISIS is selling $800 million a year of Syrian oil to Turkey, according to one estimate, as well as selling electricity from captured power plants back to the Assad government. On June 11 it seized the Bajii power plant oil refinery in northern Iraq, the country’s largest.

The region has seen nothing like it since the Mongol invasion of the 13th century.

Lipsky offers up Glick’s annexation proposal as an almost tidy solution to a decades-old problem, a way to fulfill the original promise of Zion as a place of “Arab and Jewish amity in a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.” Goldman’s vision is darker, bleak even — and is almost certainly closer to reality. He notes that “four Arab states—Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq—have effectively ceased to exist.” The Levant has devolved (I’ve been using that word here to describe Araby since before the Iraq War) into a nearly-stateless landmass where competing tribes, ethnicities, and religious factions will grab what they can, when they can. The only hard currency is hate, traded for blood and oil.

Radicalized Islam is both sociopathic and nihilistic, killing because it can and destroying because it’s pleasurable. Given these pathologies, there will be ethnic and religious cleansing on a regional scale if anything like peace is to be achieved. The tragedy of these brutal population expulsions isn’t just that they happen, it’s that they work. Again, that’s an observation and not an endorsement.

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Millennials: The Next Generation

July 17th, 2014 - 9:05 am

Pre-Excuse Mongering

July 17th, 2014 - 7:40 am
Saul Alinsky, GOP savior.

Saul Alinsky, GOP savior.

Would you believe the midterms don’t (won’t?) actually mean anything? That’s Tod Lindberg in The New Republic:

True, a GOP-controlled Senate would launch a few more investigations of the Obama administration’s misdeeds, real and imagined. But the House already has such investigations underway, and with all due respect to “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” an investigation that proceeds with support strictly along party lines is no more credible when the Senate is doing it. The confirmation process for judicial nominees was going to slow down in the final two years of the administration anyway. Other administration appointments simply don’t matter all that much this late in the term, and even a GOP-controlled Senate will face pressure to approve some nominees for appearance’s sake.

Legislation that passes the GOP House will get consideration in the Senate rather than the high-handed dismissal with which Reid has greeted it. Yet the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes for legislation to proceed in the Senate remains intact, and it’s unclear that a GOP Senate majority would blow it up—especially since Obama can veto anything that Congress passes. And he will.

That’s meaningless?

Forcing a President to veto puts him — and his would-be Democrat successor — on the spot. Again and again. A veto isn’t a “pen and phone” situation; it’s a major event, rarely used.

There are all kinds of popular positions, from the border fence to the individual mandate/tax hybrid thingy, where the GOP could take Obama (and by extension the Democrats) and “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.”

Now, that might be meaningless in the sense of actually changing or fixing bad legislation. Then again, Saul Alinsky, the author of that famous advice, was all about tearing things down, not building things up. And a GOP Congress would have the means to do just that to the Progressive wing of the Democrat party, which has been in full control of the Donks for years now.

Those are pretty high stakes — and Lindberg knows it.

Required Reading

July 17th, 2014 - 6:13 am

Jonah Goldberg on the lie of “Israeli genocide” against the Palestinians:

One perverse complaint, often subtly echoed in the mainstream media, is that it is somehow unfair that Israelis are not dying, so far, from Gaza rocket strikes. The Israelis have the Iron Dome defense system, which intercepts the rockets aimed at civilians. They also have bomb shelters; the Palestinians do not. They have these things because, as Netanyahu said, Israelis are interested in protecting their citizens.

As Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin notes, no one is asking why the Palestinians don’t have bomb shelters. The assumption seems to be that the Gazans don’t have the wherewithal to build them. This is untrue because they do have bomb shelters — they just reserve them for Hamas’s leaders and fighters. Indeed, Hamas has dug thousands of tunnels under Gaza, largely so it can smuggle in, and store, more rockets to fire on Israel. Better that those tunnels were used as shelters for civilians, but that would mean not letting them die for the greater “good.”

Read the whole thing.

The worst thing I learned from the column is that the Jew-haters (Tammy Bruce reminded me a few weeks ago that “anti-Semites” isn’t really true) have a #HitlerWasRight hash tag on Twitter.

Who Are the Millennials?

July 16th, 2014 - 5:13 pm

Today’s Irresistible Clickbait

July 16th, 2014 - 9:31 am

tumblr_m993huqDWN1rp2h1mo1_1280

An computer artist rendered his childhood doodles in photorealistic HD. A charming idea, brilliantly executed.

Out-Foxed

July 16th, 2014 - 8:29 am

Huh:

Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) today confirmed that it rejected a proposal from Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) to acquire all of the outstanding shares of the Company for a combination of 1.531 of Twenty-First Century Fox Class A non-voting common shares and $32.42 in cash per share (the ” Proposal”).

The Time Warner Board, after consultation with its financial and legal advisors, determined that it was not in the best interests of Time Warner or its stockholders to accept the Proposal or to pursue any discussions with Twenty-First Century Fox. The Board is confident that continuing to execute its strategic plan will create significantly more value for the Company and its stockholders and is superior to any proposal that Twenty-First Century Fox is in a position to offer.

What did Fox see worth buying in T-W — its cable business?

Or, uh, something like that. Over at the PJM home page, Steve Caulk has a nice piece on Colorado Democrats like Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Udall snubbing the President when he visited Denver last week. The key bit is here:

The question is whether this strategy of disassociation is really so obvious, and how effective it might be in the long run. There also has to be the question of how tolerant and understanding the president might be. His press office did not respond immediately with an answer to that question. But Ciruli felt free to speculate:

“My prediction is we won’t see the president again in this election cycle in the state of Colorado,” he said.

Which might come as a relief to Udall and his gang. If Udall had second thoughts about his strategy, his press office was not offering any insight.

“It (strategy) may be too smart,” Ciruli said. “It has become so transparent, the act itself is subject to a host of criticism.”

I’m less certain. I’m reminded of a story I might have told here once or twice, of 60 Minutes, Ronald Reagan, and (I think) Mike Deaver. 60 Minutes did a hit piece on Reagan, reported IIRC by Mike Wallace. The White House knew it was coming, but was nevertheless generous enough to give CBS video crews access to the President as he vacationed on his California ranch. The hit piece ran on Sunday night, complete with B-roll footage of Reagan in his cowboy hat, riding his horse, chopping wood, clearing scrub brush, etc.

The next day, Deaver called up 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt to thank him for running the piece. Deaver — and this is the dumb part; he should have kept his mouth shut — explained that the only thing people were going to remember from yet another hit piece on Reagan was the visuals of the President. And sure enough, polls showed Americans responded positively to seeing the President working and relaxing on his ranch. The report was pretty much ignored.

Here in Colorado we have a “dog that didn’t bark” case of the visuals that didn’t happen — there’s no video of Hickenlooper warmly welcoming the President to yet another fundraiser, or of Obama praising Udall for all his support in the Senate. Without the visuals, did the story ever happen?

People like us, who pay attention to these things like Jerry Seinfeld obsessing over a minor point of etiquette — we noticed. But the generic casual voter? Maybe not so much.

Historic Apple/IBM Mobile Agreement

July 16th, 2014 - 6:08 am

ibmpcvsappleiiSomething like 98% of Fortune 500 companies were already considering or had already deployed (with the accent on “deployed”) iOS devices with their employees. But now IT might not grumble so much about having to do it:

Apple has announced a strategic partnership with IBM that will see the enterprise giant transfer over 150 of their enterprise and IT apps and tools to Apple platforms natively, and will also have IBM selling Apple iPhones and iPads to its business clients all over the world. In an interview with CNBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook and IBM CEO Virginia Rometty both told the network that Apple and IBM are like “puzzle pieces” that fit perfectly together.

“We knew that we needed to have a partner that deeply understood each of the verticals,” Cook told CNBC. “That had scale, that had a lot of dirt under their fingernails so to speak from really understanding each of these verticals and we found a kindred spirit in IBM.”

Apple touts the access the partnership gives them to IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, and talks about how the apps that it produces with IBM will be developed “from the ground up for iPhone and iPad.” These apps will supplement new cloud services aimed at iOS specifically, including security and analytics solutions, and device management tools for large-scale MDM deployments.

That’s big. How big? BlackBerry shares pretty much disintegrated in afterhours trading. IBM calls it “MobileFirst,” which should give you some indication of where Android ranks in their plans. Or as Larry Dignan reports:

The biggest challenge for team Android is that Google and Samsung, two partners with enterprise ambitions, will have to herd cats to reach corporations. Android will need channel, integration and services support and there are few players that can match IBM’s reach.

The irony is workstation-class. In 1981, Apple gently teased IBM [See print ad above] for being late to the personal computer revolution, when they introduced the IBM PC four years after the Apple II debuted. Behind the scenes Steve Jobs was deeply worried, and thought the Macintosh, then under top secret development, was the Rebel Alliance’s only hope for saving the galaxy from IBM — he could be a little dramatic sometimes. When the Mac debuted, it was to Ridley Scott’s famous “1984” Super Bowl ad, in which Big Blue was Big Brother.

Could this deal have happened under Jobs, or was Tim Cook a necessary ingredient? I don’t know; both companies are very different, and in very different positions, than they were 33 years ago. But in the Apple vs Android wars this is a typical Apple-like move. Instead of going against Android’s strengths by trying to sell cheaper iPhones and iPad, Apple is increasing the utility of their existing, premium devices with a strategic partnership.

Android won’t be going away, simply because it enjoys too much utility as a perfectly serviceable OS for OEMs who don’t want to (or can’t) spend much money on little things like the user experience. But Apple just got a huge leg up with the corporate buyers who place orders for thousands of devices at once.

Speaking of 2016 Contenders…

July 16th, 2014 - 5:24 am

BuzzFeed says Democratic Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is getting “aggressive” with the nuts and bolts of running for President:

The odds aren’t great against Hillary Clinton, but the Democratic governor from Maryland is doing the actual things people do before running for president: donors, new policies, campaign travel, distance from Obama. “I think people are going to be surprised at the amount of time he does this.”

There’s more:

O’Malley has bucked the administration on immigration before; this spring, he announced that Maryland would no longer comply with parts of the federal program that facilitates deportations. But his comments last weekend signaled the extent to which O’Malley looks like a guy running for president.

Aides say that was always the idea. In the last year, the governor has stepped up efforts to put together what he has called a “framework” for a national campaign: He’s traveling the country to stump for Democrats, he’s speaking at state party dinners, he’s raising money, and he’s working on developing new policies.

In recent months, those efforts have intensified. About a dozen friends, former aides, strategists, and a handful of donors and fundraisers ready to support O’Malley if he runs, say they see the governor moving forward with those plans without a shade of hesitation.

He looks to be covering the same part of left field as Elizabeth Warren, but without her charisma, 1/32 Cherokee credentials, or vagina.

O’Malley might be good on paper, but he lacks the rock star quality Democrat voters will be looking for as a followup to having nominated and twice elected the nation’s first black President.

News You Can Use

July 15th, 2014 - 11:25 am

Rampage_00143903631853

Poltergeist Under Couple’s Bed Turns Out to Be Meth Addict:

The couple had started to pick up the mess left in their bedroom when Bridget O’Neill found a pair of shoes that didn’t belong to her. Minutes later, Brian O’Neill moved their bed slightly to pick up a bracelet off the floor, he says. Suddenly, something under the bed started to stir. “It was a noise coming from something alive,” Brian O’Neill says. “It sounded like a dying possum or raccoon. I had only heard wounded animals make that kind of noise before.”

Bridget O’Neill wondered aloud if something had happened to one of their two cats, Mogwai and Gizmo. “I was like, ‘I don’t think it’s the cat,’” Brian O’Neill says.

The animal noise grew louder. Then the couple heard the sound of fierce scratching. They fled the bedroom and called the cops again. The Seattle Police Department rushed back to the scene and later offered its own tongue-in-cheek take on the bizarre occurrence. “Now facing the possibility of having to figure out how to arrest a poltergeist, officers dutifully sped back to the University District condo,” the department wrote in its entertaining and often-hilarious crime blotter.

The O’Neills waited outside their condo when the police returned and went inside. The officers emerged a few minutes later with a lanky, wild-eyed woman.

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

The Amnesty President?

July 15th, 2014 - 10:18 am

Cathy Burke for Newsmax:

President Barack Obama’s vow to go-it-alone on immigration reform can be far-reaching: His 2012 executive action to defer some deportations has already given “temporary reprieve” to 550,000 illegal immigrants, Bloomberg reports.

But politics may ultimately rein him in.

“As a legal matter, his discretion is really broad,” UCLA law professor Hiroshi Motomura told Bloomberg Monday. “As a political matter, I think it’s much more constrained.”

The popular opposition to President Obama on this one is high and rising — and rising amongst Democrats and independents; Republicans were already against him.

So the conspiracy theorist’s view of his choice here is whether he’s willing to deal a blow to his party in order to deal a blow to his country.

Sign “O” the Times

July 15th, 2014 - 9:57 am

Alhambra Investments advises:

The extraordinary extends to the economy and economic policy as well. The Fed has kept interest rates at zero for 6 years now and their expectations setting forward guidance says 7 is in the bag. For all those who worried that the US might turn into Japan, well worry no more, that ship has sailed. Over a half decade of zero interest rates says we already have become Japan, with the same demographic, productivity and structural problems so well documented. High taxes, a shrinking workforce, offshored production, protection of large incumbent firms, political gridlock, a falling savings rate, a growing xenophobia and an affinity for sushi all point to America as the economic kissing cousin of the land of the setting sun. Turns out the Vapors were not just one hit wonders but keen eyed economic forecasters as well.

The US economy isn’t acting normally, now in the 6th year of an anemic expansion the likes of which we haven’t seen since, well, never.

That last line isn’t entirely true. The last time we had a major government-induced financial collapse was in 1929, and the government responded by jacking spending and taxes, while going to war against private enterprise — and the result was the Great Depression. Back then, the Fed sucked jillions of dollars out of the money supply, so GDP shrank or was stagnant. This time, the government responded by jacking spending and taxes, while going to war against private enterprise — and the result was the Great Recession. The Fed has injected trillions into the money supply, resulting in what looks like another stock bubble, and the illusion of GDP growth. But the most important result, millions permanently unemployed and increasingly unemployable, is no different from the Depression.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 15th, 2014 - 8:41 am

CBOUIprojectionsJuly20141

The chart above comes from Chris Conover, who gathered in one place all the various estimates of the reduction in the uninsured. That includes those who purchased insurance privately (and can be assumed to be contributing to keeping insurance profitable and self-sustaining), those who bought on the exchanges (and will be receiving tax dollars for subsidies), and those covered by Medicaid expansion (and represent endless claims on the public purse). It’s safe to assume the second two groups vastly outnumber the first one.

A couple things are telling. First is that the numbers are all over the place, from a high of 50% to a low of just under 7%. Presumably the Wiggleroom Administration has (or could produce) solid numbers, but chooses not to. If the real figure were anywhere near 50%, I assume the White House wouldn’t shut up about it. The second is that even after mandating private insurance purchases, subsidizing the bejeebus out of it, and radically expanding Medicaid, nobody can produce even a made-up, imaginary reduction of the uninsured better than 50%.

That’s like giving people money and beer to attend your concert, and still filling only half the seats. Message: Your band sucks.

And so does ♡bamaCare!!!.

Buddy, Can You Spare a Line?

July 15th, 2014 - 7:30 am
(Not actually John Kerry)

(Not actually John Kerry)

Ladies and gentlemen, your US Secretary of State:

I was privileged to speak to the graduating class of Yale this year, and it was particularly a pleasure because it happened to turn out to be, literally, I hate to say it, 48 years to the day that I was privileged to speak as a graduating senior to my own class. And I talked to them about sort of the world we’re in right now, but at the end I tried to remind them all, which I remind you of, we are – I get always a little uptight when I hear politicians say how exceptional we are – not because we’re not exceptional, but because it’s kind of in-your-face and a lot of other people are exceptional, a lot of other places do exceptional things.

Does John Kerry understand what makes the United State exceptional? It isn’t that we make fine luxury touring sedans (other than the CTS-V, we don’t really make any at all.) It isn’t our fine selection of cheeses or wines (France’s is better). It’s not that we’re adept at miniaturization (that’s still Japan’s bailiwick). It isn’t our space age rocket industry (Russia does much of the heavy lifting). It isn’t our history of fine arts (Italy, natch), or classical music (Austria), or even our timekeeping (Switzerland).

What makes America exceptional is that we are “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The results speak for themselves, or at least they used to.

I don’t think John Kerry understands that. Or if he does, he seeks to undermine it like Syndrome in The Incredibles who plotted, “Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super… no one will be.”

Required Reading [Linked Fixed]

July 15th, 2014 - 6:15 am

George Packer reports on “Ali,” an agnostic Iraqi engineer who once worked for the US Army:

Ali tried to downplay threats. “I’m the guy who believes if you hear the mortars whistling they’re already past you,” he said last week. “I worry about the mortars you haven’t heard.” He remained proud of his job with the U.S. Army, and liked working as a human-rights researcher: “I was dreaming of a better Iraq.” Similarly, Karim held on through the worst years of the civil war: “I always said, ‘It’s my country, I am an engineer, I have a future here.’ ”

Two years ago, Ali finally stopped dreaming. In May, 2012, he applied for a Special Immigrant Visa to the U.S.—a category created by Congress, in 2008, for Iraqis and Afghans who worked for the American government and military during the wars. In November, 2012, Ali’s application fell into “Administrative Processing,” a bureaucratic black hole that offers no further explanation, and remained there. Earlier this year, Karim also applied. The process has been notoriously slow and opaque, with thousands of visa slots going unfilled while thousands of applicants languish, their money and their hope ebbing away as they wait to be told whether they have a future in America.

Ali and Karim were still waiting last month when militant fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham attacked Mosul and other Iraqi cities.

Read the whole thing.

Ali seems exactly like the kind of immigrant this nations needs. But while our southern border falls apart and the Administration asks for unnecessary billions to feed, shelter, and transport those migrants across the country, Ali remains trapped in a “bureaucratic black hole.”

Why do you think that might be?

Elizabeth-Warren-2016-us-democratic-party-34217150-500-500

I cribbed that headline from a Washington Post story which reads:

[Elizabeth] Warren stumped in Kentucky late last month for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who, like Tennant, is running for the Senate in a state easily won by Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Later this week, the freshman senator and former Harvard professor will be in Michigan supporting Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters.

Warren also has visited Oregon, Ohio, Washington and Minnesota this year and has made dozens of e-mail solicitations on behalf of Democratic Senate colleagues — an unusually aggressive effort by a senator who has repeatedly denied interest in a presidential campaign. In Kentucky, Warren raised more than $200,000 for Grimes, who is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Two weeks ago I wrote when Warren’s tour was announced that “She’s looking an awful lot like a 2016 contender,” and it looks as though the people she needs responding to her like a contender are doing just that.

Somewhere, a pair of Clintons plots…

Sign “O” the Times

July 14th, 2014 - 2:16 pm

Corporate profits_0

Corporate profits are being sold as a sign of economic strength — but Zero Hedge says not so fast. They quote a Bank of America report which says, “The decline in corporate profits is indicative of weaker aggregate demand and a drop in productivity.”

Hang on tight.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

July 14th, 2014 - 1:09 pm

The numbers, they are awful:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 39% of Likely U.S. Voters share a favorable opinion of the health care law, while 54% view it unfavorably. This includes 13% with a Very Favorable opinion and 38% with a Very Unfavorable one.

That second set of numbers is the most worrisome for Democrats going into November, with a 25-point intensity gap between “very favorable” and “very unfavorable.”

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that “more voters than ever say the law has had no impact on them,” although the free report doesn’t specify how many that is. But for a law which was promised to save every American family $2,500, “no impact” is a pathetic best-case scenario.

And yet there it is.

Supercaliphragilisticexpialidocious!

July 14th, 2014 - 12:47 pm

SUPERCALIPHRAGILISTIC

If the Caliphate/IS had been given the opportunity to choose their adversaries, they couldn’t have chosen better than Iraq, Iran, and the United States. We have a triple update for you this afternoon, starting with the NYT:

As Iraq’s deadlocked Parliament was again unable to reach a deal to name a new speaker on Sunday, Sunni militants carried out a raid near Baghdad, a symbolically significant attack signaling their intent to move closer, even if only by a few miles, toward the Iraqi capital.

Although the pretext for the delay was a severe sandstorm that prevented northern Iraq’s Kurdish lawmakers from flying to Baghdad, the real reason appeared to be that last-minute deals between the largest Shiite bloc and the Sunnis were falling apart.

This is akin to fighting over the deck chairs on the Titanic, or maybe getting into dueling fiddles with Nero while Rome burns. But if Iraq remains divided politically, at least the military is… infiltrated. From Fox News:

A Pentagon draft assessment of Iraq’s security forces has concluded that only approximately half of the country’s military units are capable of being advised by American commandos, and many units have been infiltrated by either Sunni insurgent informants or Shiite militia members backed by Iran, according to a published report.

The New York Times reported that the assessment warns that Iraqi forces loyal to embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are so dependent on the Shiite militias, as well as advisers from Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force that American advisers could face safety risks if they are assigned to train certain units.

Does that make Iran the dominant player in Iraq? (Hasn’t it been since we pulled out in 2011? –ed.) Maybe not, if this CSM analysis is on the rial:

Iran, like the US, is struggling to determine the best course of action in Iraq. The Sunni militants’ declaration of an Islamic caliphate over swathes of Syria and Iraq – along with its ambitions to expand from Algeria to Pakistan – prompted Iran to send advisors and military hardware to Baghdad.

But Tehran is leery of deeper entanglement, particularly if it entails a de-facto alliance with the US. And it seems unsure what its end goal should be.

“The Iranians are faced with the same dilemma that the Americans are in Iraq, precisely because the Iraqi political dynamic is independent,” says Farideh Farhi, an Iran expert at the University of Hawaii now in Tehran. “Should they push Maliki out, or should they try to convince him to be much more inclusive?”

Let’s just say I’m not feeling oodles of empathy for Tehran right now, even though the prospect of a real Caliphate is even more unpleasant than the reality of Islamist Iran. Iran pretty much has to protect its Shi’a brethren in Iraq from the Sunni Caliphate/IS, but the Arab/Persian ethnic divide remains stronger than Shi’a unity — and always will.

Well, they wanted to be a regional power — and now they are one.

Is there a Farsi idiom to match “Be careful what you wish for?”

Required Reading

July 14th, 2014 - 11:03 am

Salena Zito has a must-read report on the underreported divides with the D-party:

Republicans have all types of factions dividing them as they look past November’s midterm elections to 2016.

“The Democrats have a very similar problem but, because we are the party in power, the focus is on the other guys,” said Larry Ceisler, a Philadelphia Democrat media consultant. “I don’t think, as Democrats, we are as fractured as the Republicans but I think we certainly have strong divisions and some of the same problems as the GOP.”

Adam Bonin, board chairman of Netroots Nation, the annual progressive convention that will descend on Detroit this week, breaks down the division between two types of Democrats: “There are the establishment Democrats who are supportive of the president, excited about Hillary, and who are interested in preserving the liberal state as we know it.

“Contrast that with the progressive Democrats, who are much more concerned with income equity and who are frustrated with Obama and his excessive connection to Wall Street, the NSA stuff, and felt that ObamaCare did not go far enough” — the single-payer crowd.

Many Democrats, like Marilyn, argue that scars remain from the Hillary-Obama primary race of 2008 and that no one from the Obama team reached across the divide to heal.

Read the whole thing, of course.

After eight years of George Bush, it was easy for the various factions in the Democratic coalition to gloss over their differences, which is usually the case for any out-of-power party. The Democrats in 2008 were further aided by “Black Jesus,” and the promise of supermajorities on Capitol Hill. Between the charismatic new candidate and unfettered access to trillions of dollars to divvy up, Democrats came together like at no time since 1964.

But then some actual governing had to be done and, as always, there were winners and losers within the coalition. The GOP coalition began to split after 9/11. Big-L Libertarians had doubts about even Afghanistan, and Iraq and the PATRIOT Act soured them on the GOP for perhaps a generation. Small-government types never reconciled with the “compassionate” wing after Bush and Hastert shoved Medicare Part D through the House, and rightly so. Libertarians bolted, and what was left was RINOs versus the grassroots — with the SoCons at turns sitting out, playing peacemaker, or trying to wrest control.

Six years out of the White House, eight years out of the Senate, and the GOP Civil War wages on. Even now, in Year Six of the “recovery,” and scads of weak Democrat incumbents, and winning the Senate back still isn’t a sure thing. Only the burst of Tea Party energy in 2010 allows the GOP any Washington credibility at all.

They key to winning in 2016 will be to find a way for Republicans to gloss over their differences, while creatively exploiting the fault lines amongst the Donks — but at this early stage, it isn’t looking very good.

Collateral Damage

July 14th, 2014 - 10:22 am

Ukrainemap-1

Time is on Putin’s side:

The decisive campaign in Ukraine’s separatist rebellion — the battle for Donetsk — is imminent, and the looming question is how much damage the jewel of the country’s economy will suffer.

Fearing that the faceoff between 30,000 Ukrainian military troops and about 10,000 pro-Russian separatists will destroy much of the city of 1 million people, tens of thousands of residents have fled Donetsk.

Afraid that the military will use the artillery approach, billionaire Donetsk industrialist Rinat Akhmetov went on television July 6, the day after the separatists fled Slovyansk, to plead: “Donbass (the Donetsk and Lugansk regions) must not be bombed. Cities, towns and infrastructure must not be destroyed.”

Ukraine is already dependent on the West for cash and on Russia for energy. Taking the Donbass — Ukraine’s most industrialized region — out of play would put Kyiv in the impossible position of have to rely even more upon the kindness of strangers. Putin enjoys the luxury of being able to determine how much force Kyiv will have to employ in the Donbass, by sending in additional fighters and/or heavier weapons. Kyiv faces the choice of destroying its own industrial heartland, or seeing it go the way of Crimea.

If I were Putin, I’d send in enough men and matériel to keep engaged, then really turn up the heat (so to speak) once the weather turns cold and Kyiv simply can’t do without Russian energy supplies.