What everyone misses about Gruber is his implicit admission that the American people are too smart for his craptaculent legislation.
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) November 12, 2014
Tyler Durden explains:
Wholesales Inventories and Sales beat expectations (+0.3% and +0.2% respectively) but, thanks to significant downward revisions in August, hope for a Q3 GDP boost are dashed. Sales growth remains near 2014 lows and inventory growth hovers near 14 month lows. Inventories-to-Sales ratios were flat in September at 1.19 months. Petroleum inventories plunged 5.3% MoM and down 13.2% YoY – the largest since Jul 2009.
Let’s hope the election results restore some confidence before this whole mess unravels.
It’s all about power, it always is:
Most things are not public policy issues, yet get turned into such. Obama’s letter is purely about taking a thriving enterprise — our wild and wonderful Internet — and turning it into a public utility (the legalistic details behind the scenes involve a “reclassification” of up-until-now free Internet services as a public utility).
Google, Yahoo, and the world of media are synergistic with service providers, and each is moving into the other’s territory in ways that foretell that none will escape this new regulatory regime. ISPs will holler today, but they’d all best beware.
It is irksome when politicians take credit for the creations of others, and set “rules” for the future that assure political involvement in what should be liberalized, non-politicized industries.
Microsoft spent the ’90s being proud of the fact that they never “paid to play” with Washington — and got whacked with an antitrust suit from which the company never recovered.
Now it’s the internet’s turn.
Saying it out loud makes it even cooler. Try it.
“We’re landing on a comet.”
A miniature spacecraft cast off from its mother ship Wednesday to start a lonely, nerve-wracking descent to the rugged terrain of a comet.
The European Space Agency’s washing-machine-sized spaceship, named Philae, detached from its carrier just after 3:30 a.m. ET. It faced a seven-hour trip to the comet’s boulder-strewn surface, with no way to steer or turn back.
If it touches down safely, Philae will enter the record books as the first craft to make a safe landing on a comet.
It took ten years to get there, and what we learn will make it all worthwhile — if they can stick the landing.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Obama struck a deal Wednesday to limit greenhouse gases, with China committing for the first time to cap carbon emissions and Obama unveiling a plan for deeper U.S. emissions reductions through 2025.
China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, pledged in the far-reaching agreement to cap its rapidly growing carbon emissions by 2030, or earlier if possible. It also set a daunting goal of increasing the share of non-fossil fuels to 20 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030.
Obama announced a target to cut U.S. emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, the first time the president has set a goal beyond the existing 17 percent target by 2020.
Obama just put hobbles on our economy in exchange for a promise from China to do the same to theirs — 15 years from now.
If you think that’s bad, Obama has put us on the fast track to even higher energy prices, at a time when wages are stagnant or shrinking.
I can’t wait to see what deal he strikes with Iran, can you?
BREAKING: China will gladly pay us Tuesday for our carbon emissions today.
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) November 12, 2014
How’s it feel being the Democrats’ useful idiot?
I’m a little surprised that the GOP’s number is up over 50%, even if by not much, given the party’s track record over the last eight years. But seeing Obama drop below what I had assumed was a floor of around 40%, that was a big shock.
That’s what the Army is doing in order to get the tech skills it needs:
After years of increasing and then enforcing physical standards, the U.S. Army is changing the rules so that it can accept recruits with desperately needed technical skills. To cope with a shortage of techies, especially those with Internet and software skills, the army is going to change its physical fitness requirements so that there are lower standards for essential technical personnel that are not expected to be in combat. Only about ten percent of army personnel have a job that involves spending a lot of time in a combat zone and actually fighting. Another 20 percent of troops have jobs that are likely to get them into a combat zone some of the time and possibly expose them to combat. Another 50 percent could find themselves in a combat zone in wartime but are unlikely to need to fight. The new physical fitness standards will not demand that the tech troops can run as fast or do as many pushups as are now mandated. Infantry and other combat troops have even higher fitness standards. The tech troops will still be expected to keep their weight (but not body fat percentage) under control and look passable in a uniform. This move is controversial but army personnel experts point out that there is no other way to get the tech troops the army needs.
I don’t think there’s anything controversial about this at all — standards can and should change to changing requirements and to changing parameters of warfare.
The Army we fielded in the 1980s — the one which stood down the Soviets on the intra-German border and then went on to defeat the Iraqi Army in 96 hours — had lower physical fitness standards than today’s Army. It had to, because the old Army was much larger, and drawn from a smaller population. As the Army shrinks and the talent pool grows, it gains the luxury of being pickier about who joins, and how fit (or well educated, or well behaved) they must be.
Now we need guys who can sit in front of a computer terminal for 18 or more hours in a row, screwing up the bad guys by remote control. They might not look the part, but they can be deadlier than a flamethrower in the hands of some Captain America-looking GI on a South Pacific hellhole getting real up close and personal with the enemy.
Here’s Dingding Chen with a story I’d missed until just now:
Chinese President Xi Jinping just announced that China will establish a Silk Road fund with $40 billion to support infrastructure investments in countries involved in the “one belt, one road” plan. This new proposal is in addition to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) proposal that 21 countries have already joined. A critical element of such plans is to “break the connectivity bottleneck” in Asia and beyond, which has seriously hindered development in many developing countries. Presumably a large amount of funding will go to building roads, railways, and ports in these countries. Thus, many analysts (see for example here, here, and here) have labeled China’s new initiatives as a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan, indicating that China would use such initiatives to seek influence and even dominance in Asia.
To be sure, there are some seeming similarities between China’s “one belt, one road” initiative with the U.S. Marshall plan, with the main one being that both plans aim at exporting their country’s capital, technology, and capacity to others who need them badly.
Americans were once the masters of infrastructure. We took a mostly empty continent and in the space of 150 years or so, filled it up with people and cities and roads and bridges and dams and water works and everything. Today… not so much, as we saw this morning in my previous post.
China has been on a similar construction spree these last 25 years, and except for the rice paddies pretty much everything in the country is brand spankin’ new — including the famous ghost cities, because China has commies in charge of all the construction. The important thing isn’t that the construction make any sense or serve any purpose, but that it happens.
Now they’re taking those new construction skills abroad, in an attempt to build its own trade partners by building the infrastructure necessary for Third World countries to afford to buy more Chinese goods.
It’s a daring plan, but with the commies still in charge, they run the risk of spending billions developing ghost countries to match their ghost cities.
Now that a crucial section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been replaced by a new $6.4 billion span, nobody needs it anymore — nobody except about 800 birds who call the decrepit, 78-year-old segment home.
The double-crested cormorants – protected, though not endangered – have nested along the bridge for decades, and have so far shown no interest in relocating to the shiny new section that replaced the eastern section of the famed bridge. Officials have tried pricey decoys, bird recordings and even specially-made nests installed underneath the new span to lure them roughly 100 feet next door. The effort to demolish the old section, damaged 25 years ago in the massive Loma Prieta earthquake, is being held up by the birds’ unwillingness to move, and critics, who say the delays could cost taxpayers $33 million, are crying fowl.
“They’re spending $33 million to get rid of these 800 birds – that comes out to about $40,000 a bird- that’s more money than most people in the United States make in a given year!” said Brian Sussman, a conservative radio talk show host in San Francisco.
We’re million-dollar, gold-plated idiots.
Its would-be F-35 killer:
“It will strengthen our ability to compete for air supremacy with Japan and the U.S.,” he said, the Financial Times reported. “Sometimes, militaries need to reveal their fists.”
So far, reaction has been tepid.
“It looked good,” said one German military official who watched the J-31 fly, the news outlet said. “But the performance wasn’t very impressive. There weren’t a lot of high-G maneuvers. But then, I don’t think that was the point.”
The J-31 is powered by Russian engines, though AVIC’s goal is to replace those with Chinese-made ones eventually.
Russian engines suck, and China has spent the last 30 years trying and failing to make engines which suck less than Russia’s.
(Hat tip, Will Collier.)
We have a threefer for you this morning, believe it or not, and just in time for the next open enrollment period. First up, Jason Pye at FreedomWorks:
Though President Obama says the administration is working to make sure HealthCare.gov performs “super well,” the Washington Post reports that officials are crossing their fingers in hopes that they won’t see another disaster. For example, they’re planning to use “throttling” if the system becomes overloaded, basically turning the experience into a DMV where customers take a number and wait their turn for service.
The administration also appears to be vastly behind on notices to consumers who already have coverage through the exchanges. These notices, due to arrive on Saturday, when the open enrollment period begins, contain subsidy eligibility information. If consumers decide not to go through the process of picking a new plan, given the dreadful experiences they may have had last year, they’re going to be on the hook for significant premium increases
That might explain the Administration’s “contingency plans” as described by Amy Goldstein for the Washington Post:
“We’re really making sure that that Web site works super well,” [He's super-cereal this time! -ed.] President Obama said at a news conference a few days ago. “We’re double- and triple-checking it.”
Despite such efforts, the confidential documents written in recent weeks hint at elaborate backup planning that undercuts the administration’s predictions that an improved HealthCare.gov will be able to handle everyone who wants to sign up. More broadly, they reflect the high stakes confronting the administration as it tries to avoid last year’s mistakes and deal with new threats to the Affordable Care Act: the Republican gains in the midterm elections and the Supreme Court’s decision to review the government insurance subsidies that are a linchpin of the law.
But I’m less worried about a repeat of last year’s Healthcare.gov crash for a couple reasons. The first is that Washington has thrown another half-billion dollars or so at the problem, and money fixes everything (cough, cough). The second reason is that ♡bamaCare!!! is too popular — nobody buys it anymore:
The Obama administration on Monday offered a surprisingly modest estimate of the number of people who would sign up for health insurance in the second round of open enrollment, which begins on Saturday.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, said she was working on the assumption that a total of 9.1 million people would have such coverage at the end of next year.
By contrast, the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that 13 million people would be enrolled next year, with the total rising to 24 million in 2016.
You want to know the real kicker to that last item? WaPo oh-so-helpfully headlined it with “Estimate of Health Coverage Enrollment Leaves Room to Grow.”
Left room to grow — that ought to go on this law’s tombstone.
It’s the feel-good story of the entire season, as the Democratic machine worked its patooty off to get out the wrong voters:
The Daily Beast has learned that in the crucial swing states of Iowa, North Carolina, and Colorado, the DSCC made a decision in September to put an increased emphasis on persuasion, talking undecided voters into supporting Democratic candidates rather than turning out its base voters. In other words, instead of going after the type of people who reliably vote Democrat but don’t reliably show up on Election Day, they focused on voters who were somewhat more likely to vote but hadn’t firmly made up their minds
These undecided, persuadable voters were identified via a computer model that ranked and ordered voters as targets of persuasion not just through volunteer contact but through direct-mail paid media as well. The problem was that, at least in Iowa, this model was imperfect.
You’d have to go back to the births of my two boys or my wedding day to find anything else that ever made me this happy.
What was it, not even all of two hours ago that I wondered if President Obama’s latest efforts didn’t even rise to the level of phoning it in? And just maybe you figured it couldn’t get much worse?
It got worse. His Chinese hosts find him rude:
Obama eschewed the Red Flag limousine service that ferried other leaders one by one from a nearby building to a banquet, cultural show and fireworks at the aquatic venue. Some Chinese went online to criticize his preference for the familiar security of a U.S.-supplied vehicle, while others understood his choice, but what happened next surprised many here.
Obama emerged from his car chewing gum; he’s a well-known user of Nicorette, the smoking-cessation gum. But Chinese Internet users, accustomed to the highly formal standards of their stiff party leadership, quickly characterized the leader of the world’s most powerful nation as an impolite “idler,” or careless “rapper.”
“We made this meeting so luxurious, with singing and dancing, but see Obama, stepping out of his car chewing gum like an idler,” wrote Yin Hong, a professor of journalism at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo micro-blog service. Twitter, like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, is banned in China, whose censors fear such services could aid political protest.
One of the smartest comedies ever made was the 1980 sleeper/indy flick, Simon. Alan Arkin plays Simon, a likable but low-rent college psych professor working with sensory deprivation. (It’s very much a movie of its time.) A secret government thinktank made up of supergeniuses with zero supervision and an unlimited budget decide to have a little fun at Simon’s expense. They “hire” him, stick him in his own sensory deprivation tank for way longer than is recommended, then juice him full of hypnosis and chemicals to convince himself and the world that he’s an alien from outer space.
Before you know it he’s started a cult — did I mention it’s very much a movie of its time?
Very funny stuff, especially given all the comedic talent on board. The merry band of prankster scientists is headed up by Austin Pendleton, but also include Wallace Shawn, Max Wright, and others. Madeline Kahn is as delightfully smart & sexy as always. Fred “Herman Munster” Gwynne has a small but unforgettable role as the Army general sent in to the thinktank to restore order. My favorite bit might be the evolutionary sight gag as Simon stumbles out of his SD tank and back into the real world, hitting every “step” in the famous Ascent of Man poster. Brilliant stuff, and I still can’t hear “Mr. Sandman” without remembering a truly demented joke involving a microscope and Simon’s alien sperm.
That’s really all I can say without ruining it, and if you’ve never seen Simon, it did finally get a DVD release a couple years ago.
I do bring all this for a reason, of course.
We’re introduced to the scientists of the thinktank via mockumentary footage. One of the scientists mentions “the Nixon Replacement Project” offhand, and so the documentary narrator asks him about it. “The Nixon who went to China? He was not the same one who came back.”
I’m afraid there is no Obama Replacement Project in the works for us.
When I was a kid and first fell in love with dinosaurs, they were lumbering, cold-blooded beasts who died of stupidity. So much of the past keeps changing:
Carrying around an exoskeleton of bony armor is hard work. But armored ankylosaurs figured out a way to shoulder the load and stay cool. These Cretaceous dinosaurs had “Krazy Straw” nasal passages that helped them air-condition their brains, according to a new study.
“These heads are just covered with bone they just look like rocks with eyes. And yet, when you look inside, they have these noses that go all over the place,” said Jason Bourke, a doctoral student at Ohio University who presented his findings on ankylosaurus noses Nov. 8 at the annual meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology in Berlin.
It gets better:
The airway discovery is interesting, Bourke said, because most modern mammals and birds have their own method for warming air headed to the lungs and for cooling exhaled air: They have respiratory turbinates, or blood-rich structures in the nasal cavity that warm and humidify the air coming in.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to show that an animal that doesn’t have these turbinates found another way around heating the air up or cooling it down, just by making the airway superlong and then curling it around,” Bourke said.
Duck-billed dinosaurs, or hadrosaurs, have similarly loopy noses, he said, which have been linked with helping the dinos create resonant bellows. It’s very likely that, in both hadrosaurs and ankylosaurs, the structures served a dual purpose: warming and cooling air, and amplifying sounds, Bourke said.
I’d like to see one of these skulls 3-D printed into the world’s biggest, loudest conch shell.
I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Are you listening?
The president announced a new visa agreement plan with China’s government.
Obama said Chinese student visas will be extended to five years, and business and tourist visas to 10 years. The move will also apply to U.S. citizens in China. Previously, visas were granted on a year-at-a-time basis.
Obama said Asia represented an incredible opportunity to create jobs in the U.S. The White House said the new visa agreement could inject billions into the U.S. economy. It said by 2021, Chinese travelers to the U.S. will contribute nearly $85 billion a year to the economy and support up to 440,000 jobs.
At this point I’m no longer sure it would be fair to say he’s even just phoning it in.
We all know what happened to the hope, and here’s what’s left of the change:
Leaders in both the House and the Senate — including Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — are expected to retain their spots atop the party in the next Congress, while the White House, in similar fashion, says it will keep its top staff largely intact.
“The president is somebody who doesn’t make personnel changes just for cosmetic reasons,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.
The decision to stick with the status quo sends a clear message that Democrats believe Tuesday’s disastrous outcome was caused by factors beyond their control, and that they see themselves as best suited to steer a comeback.
But it’s also sparked concern among some party operatives and rank-and-file members that the Democrats’ rebound strategy lacks fresh voices, novel ideas and a new public image.
Eventually the long knives will have to come out, unless there’s a wave of leadership retirements in 2016. But the Democrats need fresh faces now, to set the stage for the next cycle. And as a political observer, I’m more than tired of Pelosi and Reid, who have been doing this act together since they were the opposition the first time around — that’s a decade ago.
But there is still some entertainment to be had watching them flail about, so I guess we’ll have to take what we can get.
It’s easy to forget while still basking in last week’s victory that the real problems for the Democrats have just begun. Noah Rothman explains:
The scale of the Democratic Party’s losses over the course of the Barack Obama era is becoming clear, and they are vast. On Saturday, Politico reported that Democrats are coming to the grim realization that much of the party’s talent pool was crushed on Tuesday.
In Maryland, the state’s lieutenant governor, an Iraq War veteran and Harvard alumnus, failed to win the state’s governor’s mansion despite Barack Obama personally campaigning for him. In Georgia and Kentucky, New Southern Democrats Michelle Nunn and Alison Lundergan Grimes were defeated by a political newcomer and Republican incumbent respectively. In Texas, Wendy Davis, hailed in the press as the women who might finally turn Texas blue, had precisely the opposite effect on her state. The state Senate seat she once held will be occupied in January by a pro-life, tea party-friendly Republican woman.
I’m sure you remember — how could anyone forget? — just how cringe-worthy the last GOP primary race was. The selection of candidates ranged from weak, to old, to bizarre. The strongest of them was unable to do any better in the general election than to wrest away Indiana and North Carolina, which never would have gone blue in 2008 without the Obama Circus that was going on. Think about that: The worst recovery since the Great Depression, and the GOP still fell flat.
There were two root causes behind the 2012 loss. The first was that there simply hadn’t been enough time since “the failed policies of George Bush,” as the Democrats said at every opportunity. Voters just weren’t ready to trust the Republicans again, for reasons both fair (Iraq) and unfair (the banking meltdown).
But the other reason was the real killer: 2006. The GOP was absolutely slaughtered that year, from statehouses to the Senate. The party didn’t win one contested election of note. They limped into 2008 only to have the same thing happen again.
It’s true the GOP did nicely in the House in 2010, but you don’t recruit winning presidential candidates out of first-term House members. The country had already gone Full Dumbass in 2008 and made a president out of a first-term senator, and look at where that got us.
But I digress….
Only the second part is new, but here’s more:
Second-term US presidents traditionally seek solace on the global stage. Barack Obama is no exception. Following last week’s drubbing in the US midterm elections, he lands in China on Monday for a summit with Xi Jinping. He is unlikely to find Beijing more pliable than Washington DC. As time goes on, it becomes ever harder to separate his domestic weakness from his global standing. Even the tone is spreading. “US society has grown tired of [Obama’s] banality,” China’s semi-official Global Times said last week.
They have no idea.
I can (almost) promise you that I’ll never play Kool & The Gang again — but you can’t blame me this one time, can you?
Look, I understand they’re mostly cheesy. K&TG was to funk what Foreigner was to rock — chart-friendly & risk-free pop fluff.
But “Celebration” is perfect right now and this live performance from 1983 is 90% funk and only 10% cheese.
I’m really of two minds about this guy.
On the one hand, isn’t he endangering himself, his unit, and even his family by going public?
On the other, given the Administration’s treatment of Special Forces, hasn’t he earned the right, or maybe even the obligation, to tell the real story?
Going to have to think this one through before writing anything about it — which probably makes me a lousy blogger.
Some NSFW language. And I shouldn’t be laughing so hard, but I am.
The guy playing Seated Obama doesn’t look the part, but he’s got the voice down.
Peggy Noonan is (very gently) on fire this morning:
A sweep this size tends to resolve some things. The landscape shifts, political figures accommodate themselves to it.
Common sense says a chastened president would acknowledge the obvious—some things aren’t working, he has made some mistakes—and, in Mr. Obama’s case, hit the reset button with Congress. Reach out, be humble. Humility has power. It shows people that you have some give—you get the message, you are capable of self-correcting.
That is not what he’s doing. The president is instead doubling down on hostility, antagonism and distance.
He’s a community organizer, a campaigner, a rabble rouser — this is what he knows. I also get the feeling that, as always, Obama has his eye on the next election, even if he isn’t in it. He needs a Democrat to win in 2016, and any Democrat will do, to seal his legislative legacy. Such as it is.
To that end, he’s keeping the base aroused — even as he shrinks it. The hope, if there is one, is to shrink the GOP base even more, while turning off independents as completely as possible.
If that’s true, it’s an supersized version of 2012. But what worked once against a milquetoast candidate with a technologically backwards campaign, won’t work as well against a savvier campaign with a base fired up by Tuesday’s big wins.
Most importantly, I think 2012 was a one-off in the sense that the American people, regardless of ideology, get sick of that sh*t real quick. Tuesday I believe was an indicator of that, and two more years of Bad Obama are going to get… tiresomer.
And if that’s not a word, it should be.
Go Team Blue:
The U.S. Aegis missile defense system on Thursday destroyed two cruise missile targets and one ballistic missile target nearly simultaneously in a test conducted by a U.S. Navy destroyer off the coast of Hawaii, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said.
The test, which took place just after noon Hawaii time/0100 GMT, validated a new upgrade of the Aegis missile defense system built by Lockheed Martin Corp, and two different missiles built by Raytheon Co, the agency said.
The successful test comes amid ongoing tensions between the United States and Russia over Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine earlier this year.
I question the timing.
Slightly more seriously, I sometimes get a heads up before it hits the papers when the Norks are up to no good. My FIL does this stuff for a living, and sometimes has to make an unscheduled trip to Hawaii to help people practice knocking stuff out of the sky.
Then sure enough, a couple days later there’s a report about one of the various Kims threatening to launch various things at various countries. But we’re getting really quite very seriously good at the knocking them out of the sky.
That’s what I’m afraid of after reading this writeup about Mark Halperin:
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin declared Tuesday’s midterm elections a loss for Hillary Clinton as she prepares to announce her candidacy for president in 2016.
The Democrat’s election debacle disrupted Clinton’s campaign plan and added a new level of complexity to her camp’s operation.
“The party is now in disarray,” Halperin said. “Hillary Clinton and her team are so cautious–they overthink, overanalyze everything–this gives them a lot of new complexity to deal with.”
Complexity is especially important, because when talking the Clinton campaign, Halperin said, “this operation does not deal well with complexity.”