September 30, 2015

Overnight Open Thread (9-30-2015)
— Maetenloch

Quote of the Day I

"There is all the difference in the world, however, between two kinds of assistance through government that seem superficially similar: first, 90 percent of us agreeing to impose taxes on ourselves in order to help the bottom 10 percent, and second, 80 percent voting to impose taxes on the top 10 percent to help the bottom 10 percent - William Graham Sumner's famous example of B and C decided what D shall do for A. The first may be wise or unwise, an effective or ineffective way to help the disadvantaged - but it is consistent with belief in both equality of opportunity and liberty. The second seeks equality of outcome and is entirely antithetical to liberty."

-- Milton Friedman

Quote of the Day II

Having a two-star admiral say "we can all get along" while standing on the stage in London with a Chinese three-star admiral who says "we can get along if you totally agree with me" is foolish and arrogant at once. It suggests an ignorance of the current security climate, as well as the assumption that our advantages are so great we can appease the enemy without fearing the consequences. These statements also reveal a growing willingness by some in the military to acquiesce to the wishes of political leaders. This is troubling when considered alongside recent news that the Pentagon Inspector General is investigating allegations by intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command that their estimates had been altered by senior civilian and military officials to better support administration policies and desired political outcomes. Let us be clear: military officers, especially flag and general officers, are not political appointees. Their oath and duty is to the Constitution and the people whose sovereignty it embodies. The rising unwillingness to provide realistic assessments and strategies to protect American national interests is truly disturbing.

-- CDR Salamander in The USN Should Never Have a Low-T Moment

Quote of the Day III

"Barack Obama's not a failure because he was a first-term senator, or even for lack of experience. He's had seven years of presidential experience and, in my mind, he's still failing. Barack Obama has failed as president because his ideas don't work. And they wouldn't have worked if he'd been in the senate for 40 years. And they wouldn't have worked if he was the CEO of a major company. And they wouldn't have worked if he was a governor. His ideas do not work. They don't work in America, they've never worked anywhere in the world. Here's what works: free enterprise, a limited government, a strong national security. That's what we need from our next president."

-- Marco Rubio

Quote of the Day IV

FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974] isn't for the benefit of the student. It's a way for the universities to avoid accountability to the people who are actually paying the bills. Note how sometimes students are treated as adults, and sometimes as children. Note, too, that the way they're treated is always the way that's most useful to the university.

-- Glenn Reynolds on why tuition-paying parents aren't allowed to know if their children are even attending a university

Quote of the Day V

The "rich" are never people like the Clintons, who acquired their wealth by the sweat of their brows, toiling in the harsh icy policy-mines of Davos. They're not the guys who make a bundle off some clever bit of tech, sell the company, then pledge to spend a fraction of their fortune on outfitting polar bears with inflatable vests to help them survive their imminent inundation in the boiling waters of the Arctic. They're not people like John Kerry, who married his way into a pile of money derived from a ubiquitous condiment; they're not people like Apple CEO Tim Cook, because c'mon, he's gay. They're not the Kennedys, because the Kennedys could strike oil on their Hyannis Port compound, pay African orphans a dollar a day to work the pumps by hand, build a pipeline that ran through a protected Monarch-butterfly preserve, and the media would still hang halos over their heads because JFK was martyred in Dallas by a free-floating toxic cloud of right-wing hatred that inhabited the brain of a well-meaning Marxist.

These are rich people, but they're good rich people, because you can imagine any one of them writing a check to Planned Parenthood with the words "keep up the excellent mammograms" in the memo line.

-- James Lileks

The Great Stagnation: The Typical Male U.S. Worker Earned Less in 2014 Than in 1973

The typical man with a full-time job-the one at the statistical middle of the middle-earned $50,383 last year, the Census Bureau reported this week.

The typical man with a full-time job in 1973 earned $53,294, measured in 2014 dollars to adjust for inflation.

You read that right: The median male worker who was employed year-round and full time earned less in 2014 than a similarly situated worker earned four decades ago. And those are the ones who had jobs.

Pope Francis: People Who Make Guns or Invest in Gun Companies Shouldn't Call Themselves Christians

"If you trust only men you have lost," he told the young people in a long, rambling talk about war, trust and politics after putting aside his prepared address.

"It makes me think of...people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause.

He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today...they say one thing and do another."

Note that making a gun is neither good nor evil in itself - it's the actions of the person wielding it that determine this. It's also interesting to note that the heavily armed Swiss Guard rely on the very weapons made by these 'un-Christians' to protect the Pope's life.

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Hillary Is a Really Special Lady, a Continuing Series
— Ace


In addition, the count of classified emails on her system -- and most likely, therefore, the Russians' system -- has hit 400. And counting.

At least 400 emails that Hillary Clinton sent or received through her private computer server while secretary of state contained classified material, according to the State Department’s latest update Wednesday from its ongoing review of more than 30,000 emails.

In response to a public records lawsuit, the department released another 6,300 pages of the Democratic presidential candidate’s emails after partially or entirely redacting any containing sensitive U.S. or foreign government information on a range of issues.

What did Hillary Clinton do that Edward Snowden did not?

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Boehner's House Passes Short-Term Continuing Resolution, 277-151
— Ace

Why short term?

Some might guess it's to delay the vote on the longer continuing resolution (which will also fund Planned Parenthood, naturally) until it's too late for people to begin the process of primarying out wayward Republicans.

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Argentine President: In 2010, An Obama Administration Official Asked Me to Provide Iran with Nuclear Fuel; Obama Administration Official Confirms Story
— Ace

Jason Howerton at the Blaze:

Kirchner claimed Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, visited Argentina and suggested the nation provide Iran with nuclear fuel in 2010, two years into Obama’s presidency.

However, after the government in Argentina requested the fuel transfer request in writing, in keeping with protocol, Kirchner said the Minister of Foreign Affairs never heard from Samore again.

For full context, read her remarks via a transcript from the Argentine president’s official website:

In 2010 we were visited in Argentina by Gary Samore, at that time the White House's top advisor in nuclear issues. He came to see us in Argentina with a mission, with an objective: under the control of IAEA, the international organization in the field of weapons control and nuclear regulation, Argentina had supplied in the year 1987, during the first democratic government, the nuclear fuel for the reactor known as "Teheran". Gary Samore had explained to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hector Timerman, that negotiations were underway for the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease with its uranium enrichment activities or to do it to a lesser extent but Iran claimed that it needed to enrich this Teheran nuclear reactor and this was hindering negotiations. They came to ask us, Argentines, to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel. Rohani was not in office yet. It was Ahmadinejad's administration and negotiations had already started.


Mediate notes the oddness of asking Argentina, specifically, to supply Iran with nuke fuel -- given the bombing a Jewish center in Argentina in 1994, a case officially unsolved but believed to have been sponsored by Iran.

And perhaps there's a reason Kirchner is making this accusation now:

Coincidentally [???-- or not. Ace], the speech by Argentinian President Kirchner coincides with the release of the anticipated documentary film Los Abandanados, which examines the role of Iran in the 1994 AMIA bombing. The film also highlights the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of Nisman, who actively devoted his life to uncovering the judicial misconduct following the attack. Nisman was found dead in January at his home in Buenos Aires, hours before he was scheduled to address the Congress of Argentina.

Jason Howerton has now updated; Samore confirms he went shopping in Argentina for fuel for Iran's nukes.

Story is true that I went to Buenos Aires in August 2009 to ask Foreign Minister Timmerman if Argentina would be willing to manufacture fresh fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor in exchange for Iran shipping most of its stockpile of low enriched uranium to Russia.

As I recall, Minister Timmerman told me that Argentina could not participate in the project because of Iran’s refusal to cooperate in the AMIA investigation. I said that I understood the political sensitivities and accepted that Argentina could not be part of the project.

We subsequently approached France, which agreed to manufacture the fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.

In October 2009, Iran agreed to the deal: Iran would ship 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium hexafluoride (less than 5%) to Russia; Russia would further enrich the uranium to 19.5% and ship it to France for fabrication into research reactor fuel, which would then be shipped to Iran.

The idea is that we'd give Iran mid-enriched uranium and of course they would enrich it no further than that.

It's unbelievable. Unbelievable.

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Republican Congressman Jim Jordan to Planned Parenthood President Cecil Richards: If You're Claiming Those Videos Were "Heavily Edited" and "Misleading," Why Did You Apologize for the Statements Made on the Videos?
— Ace

The Fragrant Flowers of the SJW Coalition Women's Auxiliary are trying to make this a #WarOnWomen moment because men, get this, disagreed with a woman and said so.



Jim Jordan's point is simple, though Richards tries her hardest to miss it: She apologized for, and I quote, "the tone and the statements" in the first video released by CMP, where Dr. Nucatella talks about selling (or, um, "donating" for cash) fetal tissue in between bites of salad and swigs of wine.

Now Richards is claiming (based on a report paid for by, get this, Planned Parenthood) that the videos are all lies because they're "heavily edited" and "misleading."

So Jordan wants to know: Are you still apologizing for any statements in that first video, and if so, which ones? You don't apologize for inaccurate quotations; you apologize for accurate ones, so which did you have in mind?

But Richards' defense has obviously "evolved" as they've realized Holy Shit, the media really is going to completely cover-up for us and now she finds that initial (dishonest, manipulative) apology inconvenient.

And it's even more galling that the Strong, Independent Women Who Whine And Cry About Everything are claiming there's a #WarOnWomen because a man dared to dispute a woman.

In public!, if you can imagine such a thing. Where has gallantry gone?


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New York City Council Honors Ethel Rosenberg, Executed for High Treason for Delivering the US' Atomic Bomb Plans to the Soviet Union, for Her "Great Bravery"
— Ace

Great bravery.

They're not saying her "great bravery" consisted of delivering the bomb to the Soviet Union. Wink. Actually, they are saying that, but they want plausible deniability; so they're claiming they're honoring her "great bravery" in leading a labor strike, while denying the atomic spy charges. (Which are undeniable -- see the Venona intercepts. We had broken the Soviet's codes and were reading their messages to spies, a secret only revealed in 1995.)

Three council members joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in issuing two proclamations lauding Rosenberg, a Lower East Side resident, for "demonstrating great bravery" in leading a 1935 strike against the National New York Packing and Supply Co., where she worked as a clerk.

The proclamations also said she was "wrongfully" executed for helping her husband, Julius, pass atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

Look, there's no question that "OSA" (Russian for "bee;" Ethel's code-name) was a member of Karl Fuch's (code-name: KALIBR) spy ring charged with working on "ENORMOZ" (the code-name for the US atomic bomb program). She urged Ruth Greenglass to recruit her husband David Greenglass (who worked for the Manhattan Project) into the spy ring; she did, Greenglass joined, and Greenglass delivered over key information to the Soviet Union.

We read their secret communications at the time; we have since disclosed this fact; and former Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev said so in his pothumously-published memoirs.

From Wikipedia:

In his posthumously published memoirs, Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, said that he "cannot specifically say what kind of help the Rosenbergs provided us" but that he learned from Joseph Stalin and Vyacheslav M. Molotov that they "had provided very significant help in accelerating the production of our atomic bomb".

So there's no question she did what she was alleged to have done; nor, in fact, was there much doubt at the time -- most Soviet-leaning/communist-sympathizing progressives made the Rosenbergs their heroes not because they thought they were innocent, but rather because they knew they were guilty.

Or, as they would put it: they knew the Rosenbergs had "demonstrated great bravery" on behalf of the Worker's Paradise of Mother Russia.

Some of the Rosenbergs' stalwart defenders are quite open about this.

Today, so many decades later, the descendants of the people who proclaimed the Rosenbergs' innocence have now begun yet another campaign to rehabilitate them. They now argue that although it appears Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet spy after all, he gave little of value to the Soviets, was motivated by the desire to stave off atomic war, and in any case had nothing to do with handing over atomic information of any kind to the Soviet Union.

A new variation of this argument was penned recently by the activist historian and lawyer Staughton Lynd, writing in the Marxist journal Monthly Review, founded in 1949 by the late Leo Huberman and the late Paul M. Sweezy. I have written at length about Lynd’s article, but his argument can be easily summarized. Lynd now accepts as fact that Julius Rosenberg led a Soviet spy network, but he objects to what he calls the triumphalism of those like me who have asserted this for years. More important for Lynd is that the couple refused to "snitch," therefore making themselves heroes. He maintains that their trial was a "sham," and he argues that even if they were guilty, they must be viewed as unadulterated heroes. Why? Because, he actually writes, the couple had "obligations as Communists, and as citizens of the world." So, to Lynd, the Rosenbergs' obligation to spy for Joseph Stalin stands above any loyalty to their own country, not to speak of their willingness to make their own children orphans. Secondly, Lynd believes that if the Rosenbergs helped the Soviets get the bomb, that "might have been justified," since he believes Soviet strength stopped aggression by the American imperialists.

For years, the American Left argued that the Rosenbergs were framed and innocent. Now Lynd says they were guilty but that their actions were justified because they helped "preserve the peace of the world." In effect, he is saying that instead of still attempting to prove the Rosenbergs were framed, we should celebrate them for being traitors to their own country. His argument reveals only the desperation some on the left have to descend to in order to maintain their view that the only guilty party was the United States.

They were Atomic Spies for World Peace, or something.

Sixty years later, and it's no different; the crusty old communists of New York City's government are still heaping laurels on the Sainted Heroes of the Soviet Union, Julius (LIBERAL) and Ethel (OSA) Rosenberg, who delivered the Soviets and ENORMOZ boost in their atomic research.


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AoSHQ Podcast #117: Bobby Jindal
— andy

Ace, Gabe, Drew and John interview Louisiana governor and GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal.

Listen: Stitcher | MP3 Download
Subscribe: rss.pngRSS | itunes_modern.pngiTunes

Browse (and even search!) the archives

Follow on Twitter

Don't forget to submit your Ask the Blog questions for next week's episode.

Open thread in the comments.

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Open Thread
— rdbrewer


Ivan Fedorovich Choultse, "Soir d'Automne, Bois de Boulogne" (n.d.)

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Real World Costs Of OPM Hack Starting To Trickle Out
— DrewM

Well, at least it's not like it's important we have intelligence assets in China or anything.

The CIA pulled a number of officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure in the wake of the massive cybertheft of the personal data of federal employees, current and former U.S. officials said.

...

Because the OPM records contained the background checks of State Department employees, officials privately said the Chinese could have compared those records with the list of embassy personnel. Anybody not on that list could be a CIA officer.

The CIA's move was meant to safeguard officers whose agency affiliation might be discovered as a result of the hack, said officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

Of course China would never share that kind of information with others in hopes of hampering the agents ability to be stationed anywhere.

Strangely enough, this whole mess doesn't seem to be getting as much attention as Valerie Plame did. Funny how the media is so selective about when they gin up outrage.

Posted by: DrewM at 06:12 AM | Comments (191)
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Russia Begins Bombings In Syria
— DrewM

Turns out the Russians didn't send troops and aircraft to Syria for a fall vacation.

Russia has conducted its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, a senior U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday .

...

"We see some very sophisticated air defenses going into those airfields. We see some very sophisticated air-to-air aircraft going into these airfields. I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require SA-15s or SA-22s (Russian missiles). I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require sophisticated air-to-air capabilities," Gen. Phillip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander, said on Monday.

"I'm looking at the capabilities and the capacities that are being created and I determine from that what might be their intent. These very sophisticated air defense capabilities are not about ISIL. They're about something else," he concluded.

Yes, it's about keeping us out of Syria. The whole point of the exercise is to save Assad's regime (whether or not that means saving Assad personally is to be seen).

I know people are upset about this and think Obama should have done something.

Here's my question...what's that something entail?

Mostly they will say we should have created a no-fly zone. Ok. And we'd do something that would help the al-Qaeda rebels and ISIL forces why?

The Russian advantage in Syria is that they have an ally there. They are happy to save Assad. He's a long time client and the Russians want to keep access to the naval base at Tartus.

Our position in Syria was limited because no matter how many sides there are in the Syrian civil war, and there are many, none of them help us. No matter which side we came in on, we'd be helping an enemy of ours. There simply is, and never was, a moderate side in Syria which if they'd won, would improve our standing in the region.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab allies want Assad gone but are unwilling or unable to do it themselves. They would have been happy to see Assad go and let us deal with the ruins of Syria. While that was generous of them, it was an untenable position for us.

We need to have a more realistic vision of American power. Yes, we can knock any regime off we want anywhere in the world. What we're not very good at, because it's impossible to be good at, is building civil societies in the Mideast and Muslim nations like Afghanistan.

It's a conundrum that's going to take creative strategic thinking to find a path between "do nothing" and "bomb/invade all the places". I'm not sure that path exists but unless we start looking for it, we're never going to find it.

Until then we can enjoy the spectacle of Russia and Iran getting bogged down in the mess that Syria is and will be for a good long while. Remember the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 80s? That didn't turn out well for the regime. And with mounting casualties from their Ukraine operations, Vladimir Putin may be overplaying his hand. We should do what we can to make the price he pays for his adventures, like providing lethal aid to the Ukrainians, as high as possible.

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Morning Thread (9-30-2015)
— andy

Morning, all. The podcast with Governor Jindal will be posted around 12:30pm.

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September 29, 2015

Overnight Open Thread (9-29-2015)
— Maetenloch

Quote of the Day I

What Abdul made of being shanghaied by some high-class Nordic totty to serve as her cabin mate on a stomach-churching voyage of moral exhibitionism, I cannot say. But, from personal observation, the "refugees" around me seemed to take it for granted that asylum in Europe should come with complimentary first-class travel (see picture at top right, from a German train).

There were more shrugs at Malmö, when I asked a station official about it. He told me that, on the train from Stockholm the other day, a group of "refugees" had looted the café car. The staff were too frightened to resist. "Everyone wants a quiet life," he offered by way of explanation. Sweden prides itself on accepting more "refugees" per capita than any other European country, and up to a thousand a day are registering for asylum in Malmö. I daintily stepped around that morning's intake slumbering on the concourse.

-- Mark Steyn on his rail trip to Malmo, Sweden

Quote of the Day II

Hungary's efforts to barricade itself were recently criticised as "un-European", which rather misses the point. In fact, Hungary is trying very hard to remain European. Meanwhile, a debate has broken out over whether to describe Europe's future rulers as migrants, refugees or asylum seekers. I prefer the attractive Australianism "reffo", which deserves an international audience.

Of course, some view the term as offensive or pejorative. As a journo, I disagree.

-- Tim Blair

Quote of the Day III

Every Republican tax-reform plan should be rooted in this reality: If you are going to have federal spending that is 21 percent of GDP, then you can have a.) taxes that are 21 percent of GDP; b.) deficits. There is no c.

If, on the other hand, you have a credible program for reducing spending to 17 or 18 percent of GDP, which is where taxes have been coming in, please do share it.

-- Kevin D. Williamson

Quote of the Day IV

Our attempts to download the briefs and the accompanying booklet have not borne fruit this morning - as these documents exist at the nexus of interest by historians, the press's JFK cult, and conspiracy nut jobs, the Agency server's getting hit on like the only woman at a Dungeons and Dragons convention.

-- WeaponsMan on the release of Presidential briefing documents from the early 60s

Quote of the Day V

"Now my pleasure pillows are purely for my husband."

-- Helen Mirren declaring an end to any further public nudity

The Camp of the Saints Comes To Europe

Jean Raspail's dystopian 70s novel ain't just a novel anymore. Only in this case the migrants swarming Europe are overwhelmingly young Muslim men who are not from Syria but he pretty much nailed the feckless response from European leaders.

Rather than deal with the rapey proclivities of these immigrants the authorities warn young women to avoid showing any flesh lest it provoke the newcomers or simply unapologetically suppress any news of refugee-committed rapes.

Meanwhile the German and Swedish governments are evicting and confiscating housing from their citizens in order to give them to the immigrants.

And they want to criminalize free speech online to deal with any natives who might have the temerity to object to all this.

Why it's as if the leaders of Europe have simply decided to replace their clapped out old citizenry with a new, more vibrant populace and are just trying to make the whole volk transition happen quietly and efficiently with a minimum of fuss.

Read the article and weep.

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Agent in Place: Tyler Drumheller, Hillary's Personal Spymaster and Ex-CIA Clandestine Service Honcho, Was "Consultant" to CBS News During Benghazi Coverage
— Ace

So one of the people in her personal "spy network" worked at CBS and helped shape coverage on Benghazi, is all.

Remember that Tyler Drumheller, former clandestine service chief of Europe, who was on Hillary's (and Sydney Blumenthal's) payroll as part of The Haggard Queen's private spy network?

Well he was also a "consultant" at CBS News.


In March, an investigation by ProPublica and Gawker revealed that a "secret spy network" that was not on the State Department payroll, run by longtime Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, was "Funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State’s private account starting before the Benghazi attack." Now the WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA's clandestine service in Europe who was working directly with Blumenthal as a member of Clinton’s spy network, was concurrently working as a consultant to CBS News and its venerable news program 60 Minutes.


According to WEEKLY STANDARD sources, Drumheller was active in shaping the network's Benghazi coverage. His role at the network raises questions about what went wrong with the retracted 60 Minutes report on Benghazi that aired in October 2013. Despite his former life as a high ranking CIA official, Drumheller was laden with political baggage, making him a curious choice to be consulting with a major news operation--especially so given that he was working directly with Sidney Blumenthal, whose primary occupation appears to be manipulating media coverage on behalf of the Clintons.

CBS does not deny that Drumheller was working with the network, though a CBS spokesman would only say, "Tyler Drumheller was not involved in any way on the Benghazi story."

What the f*ck kind of f*cked-up dystopian Ultra Rome are we living in?

You should read this article. I read spy/conspiracy fiction on occasion (like Brad Thor's stuff), but as to the major premises, I'm usually happy to say "Well of course that part is jumped-up nonsense; we don't live in that kind of country."

Oh.... we sure do. We sure do.

Flashback, from Mark Hemingway's piece:

Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson pointed the finger at her former network for helping the Obama administration obfuscate on this point; the day after Benghazi attack, in an interview with 60 Minutes’s Steve Kroft, President Obama said it was "too early to know" whether the attack was terrorism. As the election neared, whether or not Obama had called the attack terrorism emerged as a major election issue with Republican candidate Mitt Romney attacking Obama for failing to label Benghazi a terror attack for 14 days, and the issue became a flashpoint during the second presidential debate.

Despite the fact the interview would have been especially newsworthy, CBS didn't show the clip, and only leaked a transcript of Kroft's interview days before the election

By the way, Drumheller is the most useful kind of operative: A dead one. He died last month of pancreatic cancer.

(Note: I should have noted that from the start, instead of letting a dark suggestion float out from the sentence. I should have checked on this and reported it properly, but I am sick to death of these people I just dropped the "he's dead" line out there, without context.

But I should not have let my gall cause me to be sloppy and mislead you guys.)

Posted by: Ace at 02:35 PM | Comments (610)
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Failure Theater: Boehner Says Why Sure I'll Consider Raising the Debt Limit on the Way Out the Door, Clearing the Decks for My Very Conservative Friend Kevin McCarthy
— Ace

We just wrapped the Jindal podcast, so for a quickie, how about that Hot Air button?

The idea is that Boehner will pass a host of unpopular measures, with support from the Democrats, which Kevin McCarthy can then pretend he objects to, while of course supporting Boehner's actions all along.

I find Erickson's charges to be paranoid. Why, that sure doesn't sound like the GOP Establishment I know.

Posted by: Ace at 12:37 PM | Comments (282)
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Politico and the Democrats Now Politicizing Mars
— Ace

Yesterday, there was a lot of #ScienceLoving over NASA's report that its satellites suggest (their word; not "prove") that there is flowing water on Mars -- not just water trapped in the caps as has long been believed, but "very briny" water flowing down its mountain peaks and leaving dark furrows as it goes.

Fun news.

Politico immediately turned it into a political matter -- a chance for liberals to self-promote "I f*cking love science so hard" -- by misleading its audience about a Rush Limbaugh riff.

Their claim:

Rush Limbaugh pans evidence of water on Mars as part of 'leftist agenda'
By ELIZA COLLINS 09/28/15 06:13 PM EDT

He said no such thing, of course. He did not posit a conspiracy, as this headline (and the tweet that promoted it) suggests.


Flowing water on Mars? That's just part of the liberal agenda, Rush Limbaugh says.

Nope! Not what he said.

The conservative radio talk show host addressed NASA’s announcement on Monday that it had found evidence of flowing water on present-day Mars, and -- spoiler alert --he doesn't believe it.

Also, not what he said.

"OK so there's flowing water on Mars. Yip yip yip yahoo. Hey, you know me, I'm science 101, big time guy, tech advance it, you know it, I'm all in. But, NASA has been corrupted by the current regime," Limbaugh said on his show, according to Media Matters. "Don't know how long it's going to take, but this news that there is flowing water on Mars is somehow going to find its way into a technique to advance the leftist agenda."

Limbaugh did not say he didn't believe the news, nor that the finding was itself part of the leftist agenda -- but that it would immediately be used to advance the leftist agenda.

As Media Matters immediately did, and then Politico did, quoting them.

I mean, Rush was totally, totally wrong, wasn't he?

Wasn't he?



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Public Trust in Media At All Time Low; Independents' Trust In Media Falls to Level of Republicans' Trust in Media
— Ace

Well, a statistical tie, anyway -- 33% of Independents say they have trust in the media, compared to 32% of Republicans.

The Washington Post's haplessly biased Chris Cilzza blames this on "partisans" sabotaging trust in the media.

I agree. Media partisans like Chris Cilizza are indeed the problem.

But, I believe really strongly that the decline in trust in the media is primarily attributable to partisans -- whether in politics or in the media -- who have a vested interest in casting the press as hopelessly biased. What better way for liberal or conservative talk radio to (a) lure listeners and (b) stoke outrage than to insist that the mainstream media is lying to you? What better way for politicians to raise money from partisans already skeptical about the media than to say the media isn’t telling the truth?

Several points here.

1, I think it's creepy that the forces of corporate-political conformity are so insistent that we trust them.

Why do you, complete strangers to me, think it is necessary for our national health for me to trust you, as a group?

I don't trust lawyers as a group -- specific lawyers, yes. But as a group? No.

And I'm not singling out lawyers either -- I don't trust doctors as a group, nor teachers as a group, nor mechanics as a group.

This idea that we must all be on the same page and believe the same things is not only a central pillar of collectivist thought -- it is absolutely necessary to the furtherance of the collectivist agenda that we all "agree" to trust a single narrative.

A single narrative explains to us (falsely, through mythology) what is Wicked in our society and how to go about Appeasing the Gods who will otherwise visit terrors upon us.

A plethora of competing narratives -- of arguments over first causes and political creation myths -- keeps the Clerisy, or the Cathedral as the Nrx crowd calls it, from leading the bewitched populace on their numerous crusades.

So I find Cilizza's starting premise that everyone agreeing that the media is non-partisan to be one of the most important partisan desiderata of the political left.

2, this is of course whining and special pleading from people who can't do their jobs very well but what to keep telling us how harrrrrrd it is in hopes we'll grade them on the curve.

Well, we already are grading you on the curve -- we've priced in most of your partisanship and incompetency -- and you're still failing.

Here's an idea for Cilizza and the rest of the would-be high priests of collectivist advance to ponder -- hey, maybe if you did your jobs better, and more competently, and less dishonestly, people would trust you more, and then you could stop whining at the rest of us that you're not held in the high social estimation to which you believe yourselves entitled.

Incidentally, Cillizza writes for the same Washington Post that published that ludicrously partisan piece calling Carly Fiorina a liar for having claimed to have been a secretary.

She was a secretary. No lie. Simple fact.

Let me tell you what this is really about. Here, I'll whisper it:

The abortion partisans of the media are angry at here for mainstreaming the Planned Parenthood videos are determined to get a scalp for that.

Thus, the intense pro-abortion SJW partisans of the media go into Political Attack mode.

But we're not supposed to notice.

We're just supposed to Trust them, for some reason.

Because they went to college, I guess.

Posted by: Ace at 10:27 AM | Comments (303)
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Kevin D. Williamson: I'm Not Sure I'm So Keen on Tax Cuts
— Ace

Everyone from Rubio to Trump has proposed some kind of tax cut for the nation; it's a standard bit of Republican electioneering.

But is it the right proposal?

Every Republican tax-reform plan should be rooted in this reality: If you are going to have federal spending that is 21 percent of GDP, then you can have a.) taxes that are 21 percent of GDP; b.) deficits. There is no c.

If, on the other hand, you have a credible program for reducing spending to 17 or 18 percent of GDP, which is where taxes have been coming in, please do share it.

The problem with the Growth Fairy model of balancing budgets is that while economic growth would certainly reduce federal spending as a share of GDP if spending were kept constant, there is zero evidence that the government of these United States has the will or the inclination to enact serious spending controls when times are good (Uncork the champagne!) or when times are bad (Wicked austerity! We must have stimulus!).

It is standard conservative theory that tax cuts and spending cuts go hand in hand. But after decades of ever-rising spending, coupled with occasional tax cuts, I'm not so certain of that any longer.

I believe it was after Reagan that Republican theorists began justifying his model of tax-cuts-now-spending-cuts-later as the "starve the beast" theory of limiting government -- if we cut taxes, therefore cutting government's resources, we should, logically, force the government to adapt itself to living with fewer taxpayer dollars. Ergo, spending should be forced down by the practicalities of the situation -- either you start cutting spending, or else you start running up dangerous, Greece-level of debts.

The problem is that this country has always elected the "or else" part of this syllogism: We are racking up dangerous, Greece-levels of debts, and we're barely even talking about that any longer.

The problem has grown so immense that we've decided to declare it officially a Non-Problem. (It will decide to re-assert itself as a Really Big Problem in a short period of time.)

So I no longer believe in the "starve the beast" theory, because the "starve the beast" theory relies upon Americans understanding the mid-to-longer term trajectory of their spending choices, which they plainly do not.

Since Americans are not capable of understanding the mid-to-longer term trajectory of their spending choices, it seems to me the only way to impose budget discipline and spending rollback is to offer Americans an immediate, as opposed to future, confrontation with reality: that is, if Americans wish to have so much government, they should be forced to pay for the level of government they are choosing, and not defer that payment (as they apparently will choose, every single time) into the future, to be imposed upon their children.

But, instead, they must be forced to reckon with the level of government they are choosing now by paying the full freight and cost of that government now.

That is to say: I believe that rolling back spending is only possible when Americans are made to feel the costs of the government they're choosing, and that will only happen when they're forced to actually pay for it.

If Americans want 21% of GDP to be wasted on government, then we should make them pay 21% of their GDP to pay for this clumsy, murderous goliath.

And when they grow tired of paying 21% of GDP for this level of gold-plated, clay-footed government, perhaps they will see the sweet reason of reducing government expenditures down to, say, 19% of GDP, or, dare we dream, 18%.

I don't see any other way, frankly. And removing ever-more people from the tax rolls altogether -- making lower income people not even pay a small amount of tax -- accelerates the growth of government, as we create a larger and larger class for whom Big Government has tangible inducements and no visible drawbacks.

I've been thinking about this for some time. Am I a tax-hawk, or a spending-hawk? The typical conservative formulation is that we should be both at the same time, but that results in an ever-growing deficit that will, in fact, one day soon overwhelm us. (As the captain said in Titanic said about the ship's alleged unsinkability: "She is made of iron. She will sink, I guarantee it.")

So I suppose I'm more of a deficit hawk -- and a spending hawk.

I just don't see how the American people -- or the GOP, for that matter, but I should say they are only doing what their irresponsible citizen voters demand -- can be trusted to choose less government at some later date.

It does not help that even fairly well informed conservatives still blather about cutting foreign aid and waste and fraud, while willfully blinding themselves to the fact that the major drivers of spending are Social Security, Medicaid, and military spending -- three things they all insist not be cut, ever, no ways.

The non-military discretionary part of the budget is only one sixth of total spending, so even if you imposed draconian cuts on this section of the budget, slashing it by a full half of all spending (and you know the shrieking that would occur from that), you would only have cut the budget by 1/12th -- a bit more than the net interest we have to pay just on servicing the debt we've already acquired.

No one, including conservatives, seems willing to deal with this reality, preferring Fantasy Mathematics in which we cut some ethanol subsidies and some foreign aid to UNESCO and we're all ship-shape and square on matters budgetary, so it's time to force some reality into people's thinking.

Cutting taxes while raising spending teaches people that there is no connection between spending discipline and lower taxes. It teaches us we can have our cake and eat it too, so why not do both?

But of course we cannot have both -- or, at least, not for very long.

A reckoning is coming. We ought to start paying for the things we buy, and we're buying an awful lot of government, and conservatives are very nearly as hungry for big government as the liberals they decry.

The only way to bring reason to this madness is to make people square up their accounts every year -- for each year you want 21% of GDP spending on government, you pay 21% of GDP in taxes.

Then maybe we can start talking seriously about cutting government.

Thinking Twice: I guess this is really just a call with a Balanced Budget Amendment with forced tax hikes if spending goes up the previous year -- therefore strongly underlining in the public's mind the direct consequences of that Democrat goody-bag Congress just passed (with, no doubt, some moderate Republicans in support who want to prove they "can govern").

Posted by: Ace at 09:17 AM | Comments (391)
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Taliban Re-Takes Key Northern City of Kunduz
— Ace

Obama is due to tell the Taliban that they're "isolated" and on "the side of the past."

They were joined by terrorist allies.

The Taliban have overrun the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, taking control of most areas and freeing hundreds of prisoners from its jail.

Hundreds of militants stormed the city before dawn, quickly seizing key buildings and advancing on the airport.

Obama did not come to end wars; he came to lose them.

He came to teach us all a lesson about American impotency.

Posted by: Ace at 08:10 AM | Comments (365)
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Open Thread
— rdbrewer


Emanuel de Witte, "Interior with a Woman Playing a Virginal" (c. 1660)

Posted by: rdbrewer at 03:55 AM | Comments (796)
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