Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Disorder In The Courts

The appeals courts can't seem to make up their minds:
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the subsidies available under the 2010 health-care law may be provided only to residents of states that set up their own health insurance marketplaces. Less than two hours later, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the subsidies, ruling in a separate case that the law’s language was ambiguous, giving the Obama administration the authority to allow the subsidies nationwide.

The divergent rulings increase the likelihood that the question will be decided by the Supreme Court. If the subsidies ultimately are struck down for states that did not set up their own marketplaces, it would be a crippling blow to the federal program, dramatically reducing the ability of low- and middle-income Americans to pay for health insurance, which is now mandatory for most people.

The government immediately announced it would ask the entire appeals court to review the decision in the D.C. case. The ruling does not have an immediate impact, because the judges gave the government time to appeal the decision.
It may not be enough...

The Conservatarians

It's a new identity:
“I call myself a conservative with libertarian leanings,” said Evan Baehr, co-founder of Able. “Conservatarian? It’s new for me, but it’s a fit.”
Senator Paul seems hungry to win over these newly minted conservatarians. They have deep pockets. He has big ideas for changing the status quo, and changing political minds in Silicon Valley.
“I come out here, and people say, ‘we loved President Obama, we’re all for President Obama, we’re from the tech community’ but why?” said Senator Paul. “He’s not for innovation, he’s not for freedom, he’s for the protectionism crowd, the crowd that would eliminate the activity of these companies.”
Asking questions is the first step towards opening minds (and presumably wallets...)

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Self-Importance of Being Earnest

Some anonymous sources are more equal than others:

Standards And Actual Practices

Do as they say, not as they do:
Liberal activists, politicians and institutions are never short of ideas for how they can use the government to force us to do as they say. The actions of the same activists, politicians, and institutions often reveal they may prefer the method of force because they need it themselves. Again and again, on the Left’s most prominent issues—the ones they use to make moral monsters of the rest of us—they fail to live up to their own standards.
Being a dedicated liberal means never having to apologize for your hypocrisy...

Not Your Father's Liberals

Is the next generation turning more right than they realize?
According to a Pew survey, the “next-generation left” has a huge, generational disagreement with older, traditional left-liberals. Among the older liberals, for instance, 83% identify “circumstances” as the cause of poverty. Nexties are almost evenly split on this, with 47% blaming circumstances and 42% blaming “lack of effort.”
Fifty-six percent of the older Democrats think Wall Street does more harm than good, whereas 56% of the younger ones think the reverse. When asked whether blacks are primarily responsible for their condition or victims of discrimination, 80% of the older liberals said discrimination. Sixty-eight percent of the nexties said blacks are mostly responsible for their status, with only 19% blaming discrimination.
Less surprisingly, next-generation liberals tilt hugely left on social issues, and this, they say, is the reason they vote Democrat, in many cases against their stated economic beliefs.
They'll learn-or, maybe the Republicans will...

Territorial Gains

Some people did have a choice, after all:
On no legal basis, all 4.5 million residents of the five U.S. territories were quietly released from ObamaCare. Where does everybody else apply?

The original House and Senate bills that became the Affordable Care Act included funding for insurance exchanges in these territories, as President Obama promised when as a Senator he campaigned in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other 2008 Democratic primaries. But the $14.5 billion in subsidies for the territories were dumped in 2010 as ballast when Democrats needed to claim the law reduced the deficit.

As a consolation, Democrats opened several public-health programs to the territories and bestowed most of ObamaCare’s insurance regulations, which liberals euphemize as “consumer protections,” such as requiring insurers to accept all comers and charge the same premiums regardless of patient health. “After a careful review of the law,” said Health and Human Services in a 2012 letter, HHS granted the territories’ request to apply these rules “to the maximum extent permitted by law.” …

Laws are made by Congress, but all of a sudden last week HHS discovered new powers after “a careful review of this situation and the relevant statutory language.” For simplicity’s sake, the territories will now be governed by the “state” definition that excludes the territories for both the subsidies and now the mandates too. But the old definition will still apply for the public-health spending, so the territories will get their selective exemption after all.
It would be nice if they expanded this right to everyone else...

Finger Wagging Time

What was said, what is undone:

Conspiracy Country

Some people will believe anything:
One-in-four adults (24%) are convinced that the U.S. government knew in advance about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and did nothing to stop them, and 19% more are not sure. Only 57% say that conspiracy theory is false.

Just as many (23%) say the theory that Obama is not an American citizen is true, with another 17% who aren't sure. Sixty percent (60%) reject that theory as false.

Interestingly, however, more Americans (82%) are willing to declare as false the theory that Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in 1966 and replaced by the Beatles than are willing to reject any of the other conspiracy theories we asked about.
Elvis and the Illuminati were unavailable for comment...

Noise In The Hood

Some old traditions die hard:
Last week, that five-year-old initiation ceremony stunned residents of the small town of Fruitland Park, who found out an investigative report linked two city officers with the secret hate society that once was violently active in the area. Ann Hunnewell's ex-husband, George Hunnewell, was fired, and deputy chief David Borst resigned from the 13-member Fruitland Park Police Department. Borst has denied being a member.

James Elkins, a third officer who Ann Hunnewell says recruited her and her husband, resigned in 2010 after his Klan ties became public.

The violence against blacks that permeated the area was more than 60 years ago, when the place was more rural and the main industry was citrus. These days, the community of less than 5,000 residents about 50 miles northwest of Orlando has been infused by the thousands of wealthier, more cosmopolitan retirees in the area. Those who live in the bedroom community, which is less than 10 percent black, have reacted not only with shock, but disgust that officers could be involved with the Klan, the mayor said.
Given the group's history, it's probably not too hard to guess which party these members belonged to...

Crash Test

Lois Lerner apparently wasn't alone:
The new round of computer crash victims includes David Fish, who routinely corresponded with Lois Lerner, as well as Lerner subordinate Andy Megosh, Lerner’s technical adviser Justin Lowe, and Cincinnati-based agent Kimberly Kitchens.

“You stated at the time that document was produced to Congress, the document, the white paper in Exhibit 3[the June 13 memo], that it was accurate to the best of your knowledge. Is it still accurate?,” a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigator asked Kane.

“There is an issue as to whether or not there is a ‑‑ that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the 6‑month retention schedule,” Kane replied.

“So some of those backup tapes may still exist?,” the investigator asked.

“I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but it’s an issue that’s being looked at,” Kane said.
That's an awful lot of dogs for homework...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Football, Nyet

No World Cup for Putin?
Putin believes that a World Cup in Russia can be sold to his people as an endorsement of his rule. Why should the world become an accomplice in a dictator’s Ponzi scheme of pride? As he preened for the cameras at the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, it was clear that Putin regards Russia’s staging of the cup’s next edition as a propaganda godsend, a global vote for his achievements. Imagine his consternation if he were prevented from putting on such a show.

Putin preys on the fact that the West thinks money and sport are neutral, or at least civilizing influences. So when Russian money comes to Wall Street or the City of London, it stops being political for the West; it is also a peculiarly Western conceit that the gathering together for sport has a civilizing effect on the nations participating. But for Putin, money and sport are tools, or weapons. Hosting the World Cup is the weapon he uses to prove to his people that he is all-powerful, that there is no point in opposing him. In letting him host that cup, we all become part of that weapon.
Peace through FIFA?

Team Hillary

It's what she demands:
“Hillary is incredibly unrealistic about journalists,” Abramson told me. “She expects you to be 100 percent in her corner, especially women journalists. She got angry with me because when I became the top-ranking woman at the New York Times, she thought I should be loyal. An editor is going to be independent, always.”
Some demand loyalty; others earn it...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Quiet Sun

What's up with the sun?
"It is weird, but it's not super weird," said Phillips, who writes about solar activity on his website SpaceWeather.com. "To have a spotless day during solar maximum is odd, but then again, this solar maximum we are in has been very wimpy."

Phillips notes this is the weakest solar maximum to have been observed in the space age, and it is shaking out to be the weakest one in the past 100 years, so the spotless day was not so out of left field.

"It all underlines that solar physicists really don't know what the heck is happening on the sun," Phillips said. "We just don't know how to predict the sun, that is the take away message of this event."
Maybe it just got tired of people trying to tell it what to do...

Tea Court

The Tea Party case against the IRS goes forward:
In her ruling Thursday, Judge Susan Dlott allowed two of the tea party groups' claims — including that the IRS discriminated and retaliated against them based on their views in violation of their free speech rights — to survive to trial.

The Cincinnati-based Dlott did dismiss a third claim, ruling the tea party groups could not pursue allegations of privacy violations on behalf of their individual members. The individuals themselves have to do that, she said.

Edward Greim, the lead attorney for the tea party groups, said Friday he is pleased the case will move forward.

"If the government is right in this case, it means that from now on, no matter who the president is, the IRS can pick out a group of people that disagrees with the president and pull those people out, delay them, harass them, target them, and there's nothing anyone can do about it," Greim said. "And our position is very simple: That cannot be true and that's not the republic that we live in."
It is, unfortunately, what many "tolerant" liberals want...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Run, Grandma, Run

Elizabeth Warren, the song:
The contrast in styles with “Yes We Can” is revealing. That song was celebrity-heavy and hymnal, both of which fed the idea of Obama as icon. He was an object of veneration, the left’s epitome of cool. Warren doesn’t have one one-thousandth his personal charisma and, unlike him circa 2007, she does seem to care about policy on the merits, beyond whether a given position will help or hurt her nascent presidential campaign. (Remember, Obama’s signature achievement as president began as an applause line he stuck into a stump speech because he didn’t want to seem less interested in health-care reform than Hillary.) They liked Obama because they saw him as an agent of political and cultural deliverance; watch “Yes We Can” again and see for yourself how hollow and ridiculous it looks now. They like Warren, I think, because they see her as authentic and substantive, in contrast to the Hopenchange light show. She’s basically their hippie grandma. Her song, naturally, is folk-y. She’s progressivism unplugged.
Out with the new, in with the old?

Travel Tips

Somebody forgot something:
Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained a lawsuit filed in the California Central US District Court claiming that former US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a current candidate for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, was provided thousands of dollars’ worth of free private jet travel without declaring the trips on the federal government required forms, paid for by the powerful International Union of Operating Engineers based in Pasadena during the same period she was undergoing confirmation hearings to become part of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

Sources close to the case tell HMG-CN that Solis was given transportation on IUOE Local 12′s Cessna Citation XL Jet and that Solis failed to report the in-kind gift to the Federal Election Commission as required under law.
When you buy an Obama administration official, you get what you pay for...

Not A Fan

Angelina Jolie really doesn't like President Obama:
"She hates him," a source close to the actress said in the latest issue of Us Weekly magazine. "She's into education and rehabilitation and thinks Obama is all about welfare and handouts. She thinks Obama is really a socialist in disguise."

Despite her displeasure with the leader of the Democrats, the 34-year-old actress is reportedly not a Republican like her father, actor Jon Voight.

Jolie, who has been a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador since 2001, is said to think the President is all "smoke and mirrors."
Unfortunately, most of her Hollywood friends would rather look at the smoke and mirrors...

Junk Food King

President Obama's junk food tour:
In recent weeks Obama strolled to Starbucks for tea, ate pizza with small business owners and others in Denver, plunked down more than $300 for barbecue in Denver, sipped a beer while shooting pool during a big night out with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and brought working parents to Chipotle. Obama's love of burgers runs deep, so of course he had a few out on the road. In Minneapolis he brought a working mother to a place that stuffs the cheese inside its burgers, because laying it on top isn't good enough, and ferried four workers on a Washington construction project to a Shake Shack.
I guess Michelle doesn't mind...

The Dead Grass Of Home

Only in drought-stricken California:
Michael Korte and Laura Whitney, who live near Los Angeles in Glendora, said on Thursday they received a letter from the city warning they had 60 days to green up their partially brown lawn or pay a fine ranging from $100 to $500.

"I don't think it's right for us to start pouring water into our lawn in the middle of July during a drought," said Whitney. "We're kind of in a quandary about what to do."

The letter, bearing the official symbols of Glendora and its police department, came the same week that statewide water regulators passed emergency drought restrictions for outdoor water use. Those regulations, to take effect this August, require cities to demand cutbacks in water use, and empower them to fine residents up to $500 for overwatering their lawns.
They were just ahead of the curve...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Justice's Turn

They are apparently looking into it:
Deputy Attorney General James Cole testified before a House oversight committee that the Department of Justice is taking a closer look at how some of Lerner’s emails disappeared – a new area of inquiry for the DOJ.

“I can tell you the investigation includes investigating the circumstances of the lost emails from Ms. Lerner’s computer,” Cole said during his opening statement.

He also acknowledged that both the DOJ and Federal Bureau of Investigation were taking the matter seriously, but said it was a lengthy process.

“While I know you are frustrated by the fact that I cannot at this time disclose any specifics about the investigation, I do pledge to you that when our investigation is completed we will provide Congress with detailed information about the facts we uncovered and the conclusions we reached in this matter,” he said.
Did he put that in writing?

They All Laughed

Will John Boehner have the last laugh, again?
Writing in USA Today in February 2012, Turley argued that Obama's attempt to circumvent the legislature with these appointments "strikes at the very heart of our system of government and dangerously tips the balance of power."

He added that "replacing an intransigent Congress with an imperial president is no bargain for those who value our constitutional system."

Turns out Turley had it right. So right, in fact, that the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Obama violated the Constitution in making those appointments.

It's worth noting that the same cast of characters also mocked legal challenges to ObamaCare until the high court found several chunks of it unconstitutional.

Now these stray shooters are busy ridiculing Boehner's legal challenge, which seeks to rein in Obama's many other efforts to circumvent Congress.

Tribe says of the suit, "There's no there there," adding that it's "painfully clear that it lacks merit." The Times' David Firestone calls the suit a "mean-spirited attempt to deflect attention — specifically from the House's refusal to engage in the act of governing."
Well, we'll see, won't we?

Territorial Loss

Sorry, territories, no Obamacare for you:
The definition of "state" in the Public Health Service Act indicates that the ACA market rules don't apply to the territories, HHS wrote. The department said group health plans in the territories must still comply with other requirements in the law, like the ban on lifetime and annual limits, a ban on rescission and a coverage of preventive benefits (which includes contraception coverage).

A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is overseeing ACA implementation, said the agency recognized the territories' insurance markets experienced adverse selection issues because of their special circumstances.
Like implementing the law in the first place?

Mom, Dad, And The Kids

It's the live-in generation:
About 23.6% of people age 25 to 34 live with their parents, grandparents or both, according to Pew. That’s up from 18.7% in 2007, just prior to the global financial crisis, and from 11% in 1980.

For the first time, a larger share of young people live in multigenerational arrangements than of Americans 85 and older.

Historically, large numbers of the elderly live with and are cared for by their own children. The share of people in the older age group living in multigenerational households rose between 2000 and 2012 to 22.7%, but the percentage of millennials living with their parents jumped even more.

The number of multigenerational families soared during the recession. It has continued to rise since then, although at a slower pace.
What do you do, when you can't afford to move out, and your parents can't afford to take care of you, or themselves?

Obama Responds

President Obama on the Ukraine plane downing:
“Obviously, the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Ukraine border,” Obama said in brief comments before a planned speech in Delaware. “And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.”

“Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority. And I directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government,” Obama said. “The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.”
It's been a rough day for the retirement tour.

Le Critique

Everybody hates critics:
A French judge has ruled against a blogger because her scathing restaurant review was too prominent in Google search results.

The judge ordered that the post’s title be amended and told the blogger Caroline Doudet to pay damages.

Ms Doudet was sued by the owner of Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France after she wrote a blogpost entitled “the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino”.

According to court documents, the review appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant. The judge decided that the blog’s title should be changed, so that the phrase: “the place to avoid” was less prominent in the results.
The French critic is dead; long live the lawsuit?

The Plague Room

Well, this isn't comforting:
Federal officials found more than just long-forgotten smallpox samples recently in a storage room on the National Institutes for Health campus in Bethesda, Md. The discovery included 12 boxes and 327 vials holding an array of pathogens, including the virus behind the tropical disease dengue and the bacteria that can cause spotted fever, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the lab in question.
I'm sure they were going to get around to this stuff eventually...

The Spy Room

Welcome to the CIA Museum:

Patted Cell

On the job training?
The man, who was wearing khaki pants and a blue polo, may have swiped plastic blue gloves to look the part.
According to authorities, the man returned to the passenger screening area and convinced a passenger who was already screened to go to a private booth. What happened inside isn’t exactly clear, because she disappeared to catch her flight.
Real TSA agents became suspicious of the man when he was seen ushering another woman into the private screening area, because men are only allowed to screen women in the booths if a female agent is present.
So the difference between this guy and the real thing was...?

Joe Comes Clean

Joe Biden admits?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taking The Case

Well, well:
As part of its criminal probe into the IRS’s treatment of politically active conservative groups, the Justice Department is “investigating the circumstances of the lost emails from [former IRS official Lois Lerner's] computer,” according to prepared testimony by James Cole, the deputy attorney general. Mr. Cole is set to appear at a hearing scheduled for Thursday before a panel of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Wall Street Journal reviewed his prepared testimony on Wednesday.

Mr. Cole’s comments underscore the potential seriousness of the email loss, which has roiled congressional probes of the matter and angered some top GOP lawmakers. The IRS has blamed the loss on a crash of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive—a common occurrence at the agency, officials say. They add a backup tape also was routinely recycled after six months.
Sounds like somebody at the DOJ might be worried about their job...

Old Man

is this the world's oldest human being?
Jose Aguinelo dos Santos was born on July 7 1888, just two months after slavery was abolished in Brazil - the last country in the world to outlaw the trade.
Yet the batchelor, who never married or had children, still walks without a stick, eats four meals a day and has no health problems - despite smoking a packet of cigarettes a day for the last 50 years.
Jose - known simply as Ze - was apparently 26 when the First World War broke out, and already a pensioner at 65 when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the British throne.
If the birth certificate is genuine, he would have been 52 when Brazil football legend Pele was born - and 62 when Brazil last hosted the World Cup, in 1950.
Insert your "he's so old" joke here...

Blogging In The Years: 1964

From Barry Goldwater's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, the portion that is perhaps more relevant to conservatism than the quote which is making headlines:
We Republicans see in our constitutional form of government the great framework which assures the orderly but dynamic fulfillment of the whole man, and we see the whole man as the great reason for instituting orderly government in the first place.

We see, in private property and in economy based upon and fostering private property, the one way to make government a durable ally of the whole man, rather than his determined enemy. We see in the sanctity of private property the only durable foundation for constitutional government in a free society. And beyond that, we see, in cherished diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We do not seek to lead anyone's life for him - we seek only to secure his rights and to guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.

We Republicans seek a government that attends to its inherent responsibilities of maintaining a stable monetary and fiscal climate, encouraging a free and a competitive economy and enforcing law and order. Thus do we seek inventiveness, diversity, and creativity within a stable order, for we Republicans define government's role where needed at many, many levels, preferably through the one closest to the people involved.

Our towns and our cities, then our counties, then our states, then our regional contacts - and only then, the national government. That, let me remind you, is the ladder of liberty, built by decentralized power. On it also we must have balance between the branches of government at every level.

Balance, diversity, creativity - these are the elements of Republican equation. Republicans agree, Republicans agree heartily to disagree on many, many of their applications, but we have never disagreed on the basic fundamental issues of why you and I are Republicans.

This is a party, this Republican Party, a Party for free men, not for blind followers, and not for conformists.
It's a message that may play well better in future years than it does now...

Hammer Time

Thor, Goddess of thunder?
“The inscription on Thor’s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it’s time to update that inscription,” says Marvel editor Wil Moss. “The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!”

Series writer Jason Aaron emphasizes, “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”
With even longer locks?

Snitch Country

Do we really want to be a society of snitches?
While it remains hyperbolic to suggest the United States is fully embracing a Stasi-like culture of denunciation, the times are changing.

California is in the midst of a historic drought this year, one which is forcing authorities to institute particularly strict restrictions on water usage in arid parts of the state. As an enforcement mechanism, some California municipalities are encouraging their residents to become professional snitches.

“Some towns are even encouraging ‘drought-shaming,’ asking residents to rat out their neighbors breaking the new water conservation laws,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported approvingly on Wednesday. She noted that this encouragement from authorities is resulting in a “flood of incriminating photos” posted online featuring local residents violating the dictates of the state.

The tactic has been quite successful. “The snitch campaign has resulted in 3,245 water waste complaints in 2014,” read a dispatch from the city of Sacramento in April of this year.
Why stop at water wasters? Can you say "slippery slope?"