Saturday, November 30, 2013

Music Man

The viola organistra, as imagined by Leonardo Da Vinci:

Neither/Or

Meet the preferred college crowd:
"Because I go to an all-women's college, a lot of people are like, 'If you don't identify as a woman, how did you get in?'" said sophomore Skylar Crownover, 19, who is president of Mouthing Off! and prefers to be mentioned as a singular they, but also answers to he. "I just tell them the application asks you to mark your sex and I did. It didn't ask me for my gender."

On high school and college campuses and in certain political and social media circles, the growing visibility of a small, but semantically committed cadre of young people who, like Crownover, self-identify as "genderqueer" — neither male nor female but an androgynous hybrid or rejection of both — is challenging anew the limits of Western comprehension and the English language.

Though still in search of mainstream acceptance, students and staff members who describe themselves in terms such as agender, bigender, third gender or gender-fluid are requesting — and sometimes finding — linguistic recognition.

Inviting students to state their preferred gender pronouns, known as PGPs for short, and encouraging classmates to use unfamiliar ones such as "ze,'''sie," ''e," ''ou" and "ve" has become an accepted back-to-school practice for professors, dorm advisers, club sponsors, workshop leaders and health care providers at several schools.
It's a vowel movement...

Price Control

The Revolution staggers on:
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said a stricter wave of inspections for suspected price-gouging would begin on Saturday in an aggressive pre-election “economic offensive” aimed at taming the highest inflation in the Americas.

“We’re not joking, we’re defending the rights of the majority, their economic freedom,” Maduro said on Friday, alleging price irregularities were found in nearly 99 percent of 1,705 businesses inspected so far this month. …

He says “capitalist parasites” are trying to wreck Venezuela’s economy and force him from office.
You can't destroy an economy without breaking a few scapegoats...

Nobody Trusts Nobody

Who don't you trust?
These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say "you can't be too careful" in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.

"I'm leery of everybody," said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, N.Y. "Caution is always a factor."
Sometimes I don't even trust myself, so I know what that's like...

Robo-Guard

The cop of the future?
The K5 is the work of Mr. Li, a former Ford Motor Company executive, and Stacy Dean Stephens, a former police officer in Texas. They gained some attention in June for their failed attempt to manufacture a high-tech police cruiser at Carbon Motors Corporation in Indiana.
....

The robot, which can be seen in a promotional video, is still very much a work in progress. The system will have a video camera, thermal imaging sensors, a laser range finder, radar, air quality sensors and a microphone. It will also have a limited amount of autonomy, such as the ability to follow a preplanned route. It will not, at least for now, include advanced features like facial recognition, which is still being perfected.
Given the recent spate of knockout attacks, this might not be such a bad idea...

Comet Comeback

This is not an ex-comet?
New images being analyzed Friday showed a streak of light moving away from the sun that some said could indicate it wasn't game over just yet.

"It certainly appears as if there is an object there that is emitting material," said Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Basically a dirty snowball from the fringes of the solar system, scientists had pronounced Comet ISON (EYE'-sahn) dead when it came within 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) of the sun Thursday.

Some sky gazers speculated early on that it might become the comet of the century because of its brightness, although expectations dimmed over time. But it wouldn't be all bad news if the 4.5-billion-year-old space rock broke up into pieces, because some scientists say they might be able to study them and learn more about comets.

The European Space Agency, which had declared ISON's death on Twitter late Thursday, was backtracking early Friday, saying the comet "continues to surprise."
The return of the living comet?

Mini-Me's Mini-Me

Call him Lil' Kim, 2.0:
"We joked back and forth 'Maybe I should get dressed up and do some gigs with it'. After all, I'm a musician, so it's about the performance," said Howard, who declined to give his surname in order to keep his music and impersonation careers separate.

He turned heads and drew giggles this week when he paraded down the streets of a popular shopping district in Hong Kong. During the arranged media shoot, he jokingly waved at wide-eyed passersby and posed with a pornographic magazine for photos.

"Is he the real one or is he just impersonating? I can't tell them apart. He really looks like him," said Hong Kong resident Ada Ho.

At 34, Howard is older and taller than 30-year-old Kim, but they share many facial similarities. Howard has bushier eyebrows and weighs less, but he joked that he would work on that.
Actually, if he want s to look like a real North Korean, he should eat as little as possible...

Up From Rock Bottom

I guess it's good to think positive:
"I've gone up and down pretty much consistently throughout," Obama told ABC's Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview at the White House. "But the good thing about when you're down is that usually you got nowhere to go but up."

Obama's Affordable Care Act,, which was meant to be a centerpiece of his presidency, has been hit with enormous backlash since its website, Healthcare.gov, went live in October and has continued to suffer from technical glitches. The race is now on for the tech-surge team to produce a fully functional website.

"I continue to believe and [I'm] absolutely convinced that at the end of the day, people are going to look back at the work we've done to make sure that in this country, you don't go bankrupt when you get sick, that families have that security," the president said of his health care law. "That is going be a legacy I am extraordinarily proud of."
You've got to believe!

Small Package, Big Country

The past returns:
The head of Shenzhen's social welfare centre, Tang Rongsheng, points out that nearly 100 abandoned infants have been handed over to his centre this year. "The shelter embodies the idea of prioritising the interest of the child," he says.

Shenzhen is not the only Chinese city to consider such a system. Shijiazhuang apparently launched one in 2011 and has since received 170 infants. Other cities are expected to follow suit, the Jiangsu Province web portal reports. Baby boxes, common in medieval Europe, are making a comeback in countries such as Germany. But the boxes have been criticised by the UN for violating the rights of children.
going medieval-it's for the children...

Working Around Obama

President Obama, the non-ideological ideologue:
It appears that President Obama believes that dissenting views are irrational or the result of clouded, lesser thinking. Being blind to his own ideology makes him unable to respectfully deal with others who might readily embrace an ideological point of view. The president’s inability to effectively work with Congress, orchestrate Washington, or build strong alliances or even friendships overseas probably stems from his belief that others should defer to his clear thinking without many questions or objections. He doesn’t see politics as a great debate with multiple possibilities among equal voices.

After about five years as president, it is unlikely he will change his modus operandi. In fact, given all we have observed about Obama, it is safe to say that he cannot adapt and will never be able to produce win-win outcomes among competing interests and ideologies. For anything to get done, others must manage around him.
The opposition isn't the problem, Mr. President...

Game Theory

Life and fake death in the GTA universe:
In real life, the sudden accumulation of wealth may lead one to buy nice clothes, take a vacation, give to a charity or make sound investments. But in the world of grand theft auto, I spent my glitched cash on more lethal goods and services. I purchased a tank. I purchased an attack helicopter. I purchased a sniper rifle. Those were the goods. As for the services, I now had money to send mercenaries and airstrikes against players I did not like. Yes, the game has something called “Merryweather Security” because “everybody needs a private army.”

It was payback time. I went after as many of my tormentors as I could find. I no longer worried about dying either. With millions in my in game account, why did it matter? It was exhilarating going from hunted to hunter. Nor did I feel any guilt about cheating. This is, after all, a game where you pretend to be a criminal.

But the joke it turns out was on me. Once the challenge was removed, the game stopped being fun. After a while it gets boring coming up with new ways to kill other players.
And there lies the rub-out, as it were...

Forever Obama

Would the third time be the charm?
With President Obama's job-approval numbers down sharply, Zimmerman indicates that the nation's chief executive is perhaps being hampered by the fact that he's in his final term, giving GOP opponents and even Democrats little incentive to support him on issues that might hurt their own re-election chances.

To illustrate his point, he uses two topics in the headlines: the implemention of the new health care law and the nuclear agreement with Iran.

He writes:

"Many of Obama’s fellow Democrats have distanced themselves from the reform and from the president. Even former president Bill Clinton has said that Americans should be allowed to keep the health insurance they have. Or consider the reaction to the Iran nuclear deal. Regardless of his political approval ratings, Obama could expect Republican senators such as Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) to attack the agreement. But if Obama could run again, would he be facing such fervent objections from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)? Probably not. Democratic lawmakers would worry about provoking the wrath of a president who could be reelected. Thanks to term limits, though, they’ve got little to fear."

Zimmerman adds, "Nor does Obama have to fear the voters, which might be the scariest problem of all. If he chooses, he could simply ignore their will. And if the people wanted him to serve another term, why shouldn’t they be allowed to award him one?"
Because many of them don't want to...

God Is My Psychologist

Whatever works:
The latest study, by German psychologists at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim, found that praying helps people maintain self-control.

'A brief period of personal prayer buffered the self-control depletion effect', wrote the team, whose findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology online.

'These results are consistent with and contribute to a growing body of work attesting to the beneficial effects of praying on self-control.'

Praying has already been linked in the past to reduced levels of infidelity and alcohol consumption.
Usually after the fact...

Save Our Rocks

A Utah lawmaker wants more done:
Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden, said "there just isn't much" in state law for use against the October toppling made infamous by a YouTube video. One Scout leader films the other pushing over a mushroom-shaped sandstone pillar and then they and another companion cheer and high-five.

They claimed it might have been ready to fall and kill a visitor. The rock formation they toppled was eroded from sandstone deposited about 170 million years ago, parks officials have said.

"We have nothing to deal with this type of desecration," Pitcher said. "We can deal with graffiti, people who would cut down a tree, who do general vandalism, but we don't have anything to deal with people who actually destroy geologic formations or antiquities in the parks. We have nothing to put the fear of God in them."
Except maybe for rocks falling on them...

Carter Country

Jimmy Carter's grandson runs for office:
Carter, a 38-year-old Duke- and University of Georgia-educated lawyer with an attractive young family, is a respected voice in the state Senate, and he has inspired a groundswell of enthusiasm in the state’s Democratic political class and in Washington. He’s pitching himself as a centrist Democrat who will work to reform education and state ethics laws. Highly ranked by the NRA, Carter stressed his pro-gun bona fides during a phone interview last week, at one point describing the gun with which he taught his child to shoot.

Some polls show he could put the governor’s seat in play as Deal also fends off primary challenges. Carter announced his candidacy earlier this month, a move that comes as Democrats are already energized about their 2014 prospects with Michelle Nunn — daughter of Georgia legend Sam Nunn, a former senator — seeking a Senate seat.
Malaise, the next generation?

Death Of A Sales Pitch

It's hard out there for an Obamacare sales rep:
Some 10 minutes later, we encounter Welly Corgelas, an African-American auto detailer, on the sidewalk in front of his house. He’s talking to a crunchy-looking white guy named Jeff. When Katie moves in for the literature drop, Jeff sounds reasonably open to shopping around, even if he already has insurance. Though he seemed more interested before he knew who we were, when he thought we were petitioning on behalf of medical marijuana. I tell Jeff that Obamacare forces insurance companies to cover marijuana. It doesn’t—at least I don’t think so. But it does force them to cover obesity screening and counseling, among many other electives. So who knows? Give it time.

Welly is not having any of this, and decides to give the girls a workout. He’s a little on the sore side. A small-business owner who is a healthy 37 years old, he just had his insurance plan canceled because it didn’t meet the new Obama-care requirements. (His insurer, apparently, hasn’t gotten the message about Obama’s one-year patch, to forestall cancellations.) Katie, sensing opportunity, makes her push. But Welly says he wouldn’t dare go near the website, with all the security concerns. When she floats the Navigator/phone support option as an alternative, he rebuffs her more aggressively.

“I’m going to be honest with you, I’m probably not going to call them,” he says, breaking things down animatedly. “This is how I see it: The government is still running it. That’s the problem. Insurance companies have always taken advantage of people. Government takes advantage of people. But like, the two of them are going to get together and create something that helps the people? I’m very skeptical, okay? Two barracudas getting together and saying we made something good for you? I just don’t buy that.”

If you want to help people get better insurance, says Welly, the government never had to be involved. They could’ve incentivized employers with tax breaks to better cover employees, he theorizes. “So you’re saying just tell the businesses to pay more?” asks Katie, still thinking like an Obamissar. “No!” barks Welly. “Not tell the business, incentivize the business.”

Right about now, a squad car pulls up, and a buzz-headed cop motions for Welly to come over. I am incensed on his behalf. A black man gets a little lippy with some white girls, and immediately the cop assumes he’s harassing them? But the cop doesn’t want to talk to Welly, he wants to talk to the girls. He asks them who they are and what they’re doing. He explains the police have had some complaints about them causing disturbances in the neighborhood. They point out that they’re just educating people about their health care options, and haven’t disturbed anybody. I second them, as the Obamacare pom-pom girls are nothing if not mannerly. The cop says it doesn’t matter. If they want to canvass door-to-door, they have to get a permit at city hall.

A smile creeps across Welly’s face as the officer drives away. “What kind of sense does that make?” he says, now running up the score. “Think about that. You’re doing the work of government, then the government comes over and says, ‘Hey’ .  .  . ”
Welcome to the real world...

Colorado Crazy

More left-wing "tolerance" in the Rocky Mountain State:
“As we speak, we have multiple cars monitoring us at our offices and filming us from the parking lot,” Mike McAlpine, who headed up the recall effort, told me yesterday. “This is not a one-off event. We hold sign-and-drive events on the sidewalks near to busy intersections, and we hold signs inviting people to pull over and sign the petition. Our opponents have taken to blocking us: as cars pulls in, they run up to the driver’s side door and physically stand next to the door so that the person inside cannot open the door and come outside.”

Elsewhere, opponents have formed human chains in order to block anyone who wants to sign. “They yell at the person while they’re at the table trying to sign, or blow an airhorn in their ear,” McAlpine added. “There have been a half-dozen examples of that. In addition, when we go out to knock on doors and present the petition, they will follow us down the sidewalk and scream and yell.”
Given the thinner air, I'm surprised they can keep it up...

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Binge

The life of a binge reader:
My binge reading is not limited to fiction. I have read every word of Joan Didion’s collected nonfiction (as well as two of her five novels). I found Richard Dawkins’s Magic of Reality so well written, so thought-provoking, that I have gone from River Out of Eden to The Selfish Gene to The Extended Phenotype. On my shelves, Dawkins’s books sit next to the complete Carl Sagan. Which is near the complete William F. Buckley Jr. Which is above the complete Charles Murray. Which is across the room from the complete Paul Krugman. The inhabitants of my library, I am happy to say, loathe one another.

If forced to make a choice, I would opt for binge reading over binge watching. The former demands an active not a passive intelligence, and the items on the menu are varied and limitless.
Some forms of binging can be good for your brain...

City On The Sea

It's Super Ship:
It would have enough room for 50,000 permanent residents within its 25 storeys and boasts schools, hospitals, art galleries, shops, parks, an aquarium and a casino. It would even have its own airport on the roof, with a runway serving small private and commercial aircraft carrying up to 40 passengers each.

Roger M Gooch, director and vice-president of Florida-based firm Freedom Ship International, said: ‘The Freedom Ship will be the largest vessel ever built, and the first ever floating city.’

His company is trying to raise the estimated £6billion needed to turn the dream, which has been several years in the planning, into an ocean-going reality.

‘This will be a very heavily capitalised project and the global economy in the last few years hasn’t been too inviting for unproven progressive projects like ours,’ he added.

‘[But] in the last six months we’ve been getting more interest in the project and we are hopeful we will raise the $1billion (£600million) to begin construction.’ The ship would spend 70 per cent of its time anchored off major cities and the rest sailing between countries.
The city without a country?

Baby, It's Cooling Outside

Tweeters discover winter:
This phenomenon used to be known as “weather,” but today it’s known as “climate change.” Meanwhile, the Arctic ice cap is expanding. It should come as no surprise that some tweeters have begun to worry about global cooling.
It might be the lack of sunspots. Don't tell Al Gore...

Bagged

Well, this is certainly, er, Presidential:
“I . . . appreciate your concern about the toxic political environment right now. I do have to challenge you, though, on the notion that any citizen that disagrees with me has been ‘targeted and ridiculed’ or that I have ‘made fun’ of tea baggers . . . [I] defend strongly the right of everyone to speak their mind — ­including those who call me ‘socialist’ or worse.
“I believe that health care reform will be the right thing for the country . . . It certainly wasn’t the smart ‘political’ thing! And I hope that in the months to come, you will keep an open mind and evaluate it based not on the political attacks but on what it does or doesn’t do to improve people’s lives. Sincerely, Barack Obama.”
At the very least it's a historical souvenir that perhaps reveals a bit more of what President Obama thinks than he wanted...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reds

Redskins isn't racist, says an actual Native American:
Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, said the group's trip was paid for by the Redskins. The four men met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name, Hawthorne said.

Still, he said he would endorse the name if asked, and the televised appearance in which three of the Native Americans wore Redskins jackets spoke for itself.

"We didn't have that in mind but that is undoubtedly what we did do," Hawthorne said when asked if he was intending to send a statement with the appearance. "My opinion is that's a name that not only the team should keep, but that's a name that's American."
I guess that settles that...

Kanye's Millions

Apparently it's all about connections:
Man, let me tell you something about George Bush and oil money and Obama and no money. People want to say Obama can't make these moves or he's not executing. That's because he ain't got those connections. Black people don't have the same level of connections as Jewish people. Black people don't have the same connection as oil people.
So says the $100 million dollar man.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Weather Report

Who doesn't believe in global warming? People who actually know about the weather:
Nearly half of meteorologists and atmospheric science experts don’t believe that human activities are the driving force behind global warming, according to a survey by the American Meteorological Society.

The survey of AMS members found that while 52 percent of American Meteorological Society members believe climate change is occurring and mostly human-induced, 48 percent of members do not believe in man-made global warming.

Furthermore, the survey found that scientists who professed “liberal political views” were much more likely to believe in the theory of man-made global warming than those who without liberal views.

“Political ideology was the factor next most strongly associated with meteorologists’ views about global warming. This also goes against the idea of scientists’ opinions being entirely based on objective analysis of the evidence, and concurs with previous studies that have shown scientists’ opinions on topics to vary along with their political orientation,” writes survey author Neil Stenhouse of George Mason University.
Needless to say, ideology and science don't go well together...

Rent-A-Protester

The National Labor Relations Board is looking for a few good marchers:
OUR Walmart, which presents itself as a group of disaffected Walmart workers, is identified as a subsidiary of UFCW in the memorandum. Along with another UFCW-backed group, Making Change at Walmart, UFCW has been orchestrating a series of public relations attacks against the retailer.

It is not clear how widespread the practice of offering the $50 gift cards was, although the memorandum says the card was advertised on the main OUR Walmart website.

Peter Schaumber, a former NLRB chairman who now works with pro-business groups, agreed the practice would not be illegal, "but really, what it says is that those people are out there protesting because they are getting paid."

UFCW’s members mostly work for Walmart’s rivals. The union has tried for years to organize Walmart’s 1.3 million-member U.S. workforce with no success.
Walmart workers aren't interested in working for the competition...

Obamacare Dues

You can keep your plan-if you're in a union:
Union-managed multi-employer health insurance plans are getting a special exemption from an Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — tax. To make up for the lost revenue, taxes are going up on other plans.

The rules change, first proposed by the White House earlier this month, was announced by the Health and Human Services Department on Monday evening. The change exempts “self-administered, self-insured group health plans” from the law's reinsurance fee.

The shift will raise the cost of the tax for those who do pay to $44 a year. It had previously been $42. In essence, the change is forcing those who don't get the exception to pay an extra $2 for those who do.

The phrase “self-administered, self-insured group health plans” would include multi-employer plans. These are also known as “Taft-Hartley plans” and are widely provided by organized labor groups to their members.

An administration official disputed to Fox News that the change was aimed “solely” at union plans. “This definition would exempt any self-insured group health plan that does not use a third-party administrator for claims processing or enrollment, not only union plans," the official said.
But the union plans are the ones getting special treatment, aren't they?

Radical Shame

The NSA is on the hunt:
The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT” — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.
....

According to the document, the NSA believes that exploiting electronic surveillance to publicly reveal online sexual activities can make it harder for these “radicalizers” to maintain their credibility. “Focusing on access reveals potential vulnerabilities that could be even more effectively exploited when used in combination with vulnerabilities of character or credibility, or both, of the message in order to shape the perception of the messenger as well as that of his followers,” the document argues.
Maybe they're just jealous...

Corrupt Quacks

The Culture of Corruption claims another:
“I have notified President Obama that I intend to resign as Director, effective December 31, 2013,” Cohen told employees in a memo obtained by the Examiner.

“I am happy to report that I leave the agency in very good shape with the admiration and respect coming from private parties, federal government agencies, and public sector organizations and their respective union representatives.

“I also gave Scot and Allison special thanks for their untiring efforts and the superb quality of their performances,” he said, referring to his deputies.

Allison Beck-Chernikoff and her sister-in-law, Bonnie Chernikoff, who is Cohen’s administrative assistant, participated in no-bid contracting and spending on luxury items, emails reviewed by the Washington Examiner showed. Scot L. Beckenbaugh is another deputy of Cohen's.

Asked whether Obama White House officials pressured Cohen to resign, FMCS spokesman John Arnold would say only that “we are in contact with the committee. Director Cohen has no further comment.”
There shall be no taint near the top...

Dangerous Waters

Is this a warning?
Defying China, two long-range American bombers flew through contested airspace over the East China Sea, days after the Chinese announced they were claiming the right to police the sky above a vast area that includes islands at the center of a simmering dispute with Japan.
....

A senior Pentagon official said that the mission overnight Monday from Guam “was a demonstration of long-established international rights to freedom of navigation and transit through international airspace.” The official said the unilateral Chinese declaration of expanded control “was provocative,” and “only increases the risk of miscalculation in the region.”
I'm sure our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President will send John Kerry to China as soon as possible...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Free Spending Isn't Free

The Obama administration goes after big spending-in politics:
The new regulations would affect a broad swath of political nonprofit groups that have come to play an outsized and influential role in federal elections.

Crossroads, founded by George W. Bush adviser Rove, along with its sister super PAC together spent $325 million in 2011 and 2012 against Obama and Senate Democrats. Priorities, set up by former Obama aide Bill Burton, raised $10.7 million in the 2012 cycle.

Dozens of these political nonprofits have used 501(c)(4) tax status as a way to shield their donors.
....

The new draft Treasury and IRS regulations would explicitly exempt certain political activity on behalf of candidates as counting toward the promotion of “social welfare.”

For example, candidate-related political activity includes communications within 60 days of a general election clearly identifying a candidate or party.
In other words, some groups would be more exempt than others based on their ideology. You can keep your freedom of speech, as long as it's the right kind of speech...

Gore's Greens

Al Gore goes vegetarian:
An individual familiar with Gore's decision, who asked not to be identified because it involved a personal matter, confirmed that Gore opted a couple of months ago to become vegan. Gore's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is unclear why Gore, one of the nation's most visible climate activists, has given up dairy, poultry and meat products. People usually become vegan for environmental, health or ethical reasons, or a combination of these three factors.
Bill Clinton explained in a 2011 interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta that he adopted a vegan diet primarily for health considerations. Known for consuming a high-fat cuisine while in office, Clinton -- who was 65 at the time -- said he realized he had “played Russian roulette” with his health for too long, and that since making the switch, “I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy.”
Now he really will be Super Cereal...

Bleeding Out

Obamacare can't stop the bleeding:
Almost 80 million people with employer health plans could find their coverage canceled because they are not compliant with ObamaCare, several experts predicted.

Their losses would be in addition to the millions who found their individual coverage cancelled for the same reason.

Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute said that in addition to the individual cancellations, "at least half the people on employer plans would by 2014 start losing plans as well." There are approximately 157 million employer health care policy holders.

Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute added, "the administration estimated that approximately 78 million Americans with employer sponsored insurance would lose their existing coverage due to the Affordable Care Act."
Maybe this is why SCOTUS is taking another look at this mess...

Baldwin Out

Alec Baldwin is gone:
Baldwin’s dismissal was decided on partly because of his diva-like behavior toward co-workers, a source said.

Besides demanding a humidifier because he claimed the air at 30 Rock was too dry, Baldwin alienated staffers when he demanded a separate makeup room being used by a woman with cancer who is sensitive to hairspray.

When Baldwin was told he couldn’t have his way, he allegedly bellowed at the top of his lungs, “I don’t give a f - - k if she has cancer or not, I want that f - - king makeup room.”
Outfits like MSNBC get what they pay for...

Monday, November 25, 2013

In The Wind

A wind farm has to pay:
The Charlotte, N.C.-based company pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at its Top of the World and Campbell Hill wind farms outside Casper, Wyo. All the deaths, which included golden eagles, hawks, blackbirds, wrens and sparrows, occurred from 2009 to 2013.

"Wind energy is not green if it is killing hundreds of thousands of birds," said George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, which supports properly sited wind farms. "The unfortunate reality is that the flagrant violations of the law seen in this case are widespread."

There could be more enforcement. The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and about a half-dozen have been referred to the Justice Department.
Green energy-it's a killer...

Havana Eyes

Life in a surveillance state:
The regime posts guards outside their houses and points cameras at their windows and doors. I’ve been told by reliable sources that state security agents will sometimes commandeer next-door apartments and houses to tighten the screws even more. If I were to walk into that kind of surveillance umbrella, there’s virtually no chance I’d get in and out without being questioned and tailed, and there was a strong chance I’d be arrested.
Unfortunately our own would-be surveillance state doesn't seem that much different...

The Princes Of Silicon Valley

I for one welcome our new tech overlords:
Two years ago the Occupy movement of progressives raised a battle cry against the “1 percent,” who were supposed to be striped-pants, Republican-voting tycoons lifted from the Monopoly board. What they didn’t know was that the 1 percent actually wear rubber shower sandals, ride bicycles—$20,000 bicycles—and vote Democratic and green, green, green. It was them. It was the future, and it has already arrived in the Silicon Valley.
Welcome to the new feudalism...

Blogging In The Years: 1983

It's a nerd version of The Dating Game:

Mayors On Parade

Drunk mayors aren't limited to Canada (warning: language NSFW):

On The Hook

How much will Fisker really cost taxpayers?
The bankruptcy of Fisker Automotive could end up costing the U.S. government much more than the $168 million it loaned to the maker of the Karma plug-in hybrid sports car.

According to its bankruptcy filing on Friday, Fisker owns tax breaks worth $320 million.

Fisker’s bankruptcy papers said the Southern California-based company plans to sell its automotive operations to a business affiliated with Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li, but it will hold on to the tax breaks after it emerges from bankruptcy.

Fisker piled up some $800 million in net operating losses in recent years, which have a future cash benefit worth approximately $320 million, according to the bankruptcy filing.

That lost tax revenue would add to taxpayers’ pain from Fisker’s failure.
Their loss, your pain...

Sunk

Obama's approval ratings are drowning:
Only four out of 10 Americans believe President Barack Obama can manage the federal government effectively, according to a new national poll.
....

Obama's woes are not limited to honesty and his managerial skills. Fifty-six percent say he is not a person they admire, and an equal number say he does not agree with them on important issues. Fifty-six percent also say he does not inspire confidence, and 53% don't view him as a strong and decisive leader. All of those figures are all-time records for Obama in CNN polling.
This is not what a successful presidency looks like...

Hollywood Animals

The disturbing history of animal abuse in the movies:
A THR investigation has found that, unbeknownst to the public, these incidents on Hollywood’s most prominent productions are but two of the troubling cases of animal injury and death that directly call into question the 136-year-old Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit’s assertion that “No Animals Were Harmed” on productions it monitors. Alarmingly, it turns out that audiences reassured by the organization’s famous disclaimer should not necessarily assume it is true. In fact, the AHA has awarded its “No Animals Were Harmed” credit to films and TV shows on which animals were injured during production. It justifies this on the grounds that the animals weren’t intentionally harmed or the incidents occurred while cameras weren’t rolling.

The full scope of animal injuries and deaths in entertainment productions cannot be known. But in multiple cases examined by THR, the AHA has not lived up to its professed role as stalwart defenders of animals — who, unlike their human counterparts, didn’t themselves sign up for such work. While the four horse deaths on HBO’s Luck made headlines last year, there are many extraordinary incidents that never bubble up to make news.
It does seem that an industry which is awash in liberal propaganda over animal rights is being hypocritical here...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Best Of The Best

The states that made the cut:
Many of the best-run states in the nation benefit from an abundance of natural resources. North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, and Texas, among the best-run states, are all among the states with the greatest concentration of GDP in the mining industry, which includes activities such as oil and natural gas extraction, as well as coal mining. The presence of this industry benefits states in several ways. North Dakota and Texas led the nation in real GDP growth in 2012, while Alaska has used its oil revenue to establish a permanent fund that pays residents an annual dividend.
Not just resources, but the willingness to use them...

Old Hat

Old and busted: The revolution. New hotness: fast food culture:
Among the espresso crowd, "Death to USA!" — the cherished motto of Iran's hard-liners — seems an unwelcome throwback to a distant era.

"I wear jeans and I eat fake American fast food," said Sasan, 26, seated in a cafe near Revolution Square, who, like others interviewed, asked that his family name not be used because of privacy concerns. "The Islamic revolutionary culture has not influenced our tastes. In fact, our parents' generation has failed to instill revolutionary values in us."
I'd say Khomeini would be spinning out of his coffin, but he did that once already, so...

Pay The Toll

Time to break out the old mattress?
Leading US banks have warned that they could start charging companies and consumers for deposits if the US Federal Reserve cuts the interest it pays on bank reserves.
....

Banks say they may have to charge because taking in deposits is not free: they have to pay premiums of a few basis points to a US government insurance programme.

“Right now you can at least break even from a revenue perspective,” said one executive, adding that a rate cut by the Fed “would turn it into negative revenue – banks would be disincentivised to take deposits and potentially charge for them”.
Banking is a business...and business doesn't seem to be good.

The Letter

The press corps is unhappy with the way they're being treated:
We write to protest the limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House. We hope this letter will serve as the first step in removing these restrictions and, therefore, we also request a meeting with you to discuss this critical issue further.

Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties. As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government.
I guess those journalistic White House huddles haven't been working out...

The Other Wealthy

Some rich people get more preferential treatment than others:
Articles in which the totemic names “Koch” or “Adelson” appear have a habit of being published in the prime time of an election cycle, and share the uncanny ability to float, bubble-like, to the front-page. Stories that deal with the liberal moneymen who finance the Democratic Party and its affiliates, by contrast, tend to appear after the fact or when nobody is looking, and, like ballast, fall to the back of the A section, obscured by ads for Tiffany’s, Burberry, and Zegna.
"Good" money doesn't get talked about as often...

Lazy Days

They love to work at nothing all day:
So far, this Congress has only enacted 49 laws, the fewest since at least 1947, when the Congressional Record began tallying legislative activity on a yearly basis. In fact, the 80th Congress — famously dubbed the “do nothing” Congress by President Harry Truman — enacted 388 public laws by July 1947.

In the last 66 years, there are just four occasions in which fewer than 100 laws were enacted by a similar point in the legislative calendar. And two of those instances were in the last two Congresses, with the previous Congress making just 62 laws through November 2011.
Considering what can happen when they do work, this might be a good thing...

Happy Anniversary

Punking a prankster:

Leading Late Night

Maybe this is part of the reason why Letterman looks so old these days:
Looking at the numbers for the first eight weeks of the television season (Sept. 23-Nov. 17), “Tonight” is the clear leader in the three-network weeknight battle at 11:35. Its average adults 18-49 audience of 1.11 million — a three-year high — is up 12% from last year at this time and comfortably ahead of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (919,000, up 37% from his year-ago average when it started 25 minutes later); ABC’s lineup is seeing slight overall gains from last year in 18-49, even though “Nightline” remains down sharply in its new, later time.

CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” continues to struggle, with its 18-49 audience (736,000) down 20% from last year. As a result, the “Tonight Show” advantage over “Late Show” has swelled to 51% after standing at just 7% at this time a year ago.

In total viewers, “Tonight Show” is leading with 3.69 million — up 9% from last year and its best start to a season since the fall of 2008 — and is followed by “Late Show” (2.94 million, down 5%) and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (2.60 million, up 36% from last year). Letterman is up 3% from last year in adults 50-plus, underscoring the fact that his audience is aging.
This is what going out on top looks like...

The Deal

From President Obama's statement on Iran:
While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.

These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb. Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.

On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions. We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions. But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously. And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.
It looks like Kerry did his job...or did he?

The Collective

Talk about Stockholm syndrome:
Police said the captives, a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old Irishwoman and a 30-year-old Briton, had not been physically restrained at the couple's apartment, but were bound to their captors by "invisible handcuffs" in a "disturbing picture of emotional control".
"We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a 'collective'," Commander Steve Rodhouse said in a statement.
"Somehow that collective came to an end and how the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects ... for over 30 years is what are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims' lives."
Cults claim many lives...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Railroaded

Environmentalist whackos doing what they do:
Opponents of oil sands are targeting rail terminal projects in California, Washington state and elsewhere and pushing federal regulators to mandate expensive retrofits to tanker cars that could impede efforts by producers to expand their fleets. The campaign represents a threat to Canadian oil, which together with natural gas is Canada’s largest export to the U.S. …

Kristen Boyles, a spokeswoman for Earthjustice, said one concern voiced by critics was that the terminals would receive oil sands products, which can be harder to clean up in a spill than conventional crude.
Maybe, but their own solutions have proven to be largely unworkable. So, naturally, this is pretty much all they've got left...

Pill Punishers

Who's really against e-cigarettes?
Big Pharma is the real foe of e-cigs, and Big Government is their weapon of choice — on both sides of the pond.

This fall, the European Parliament considered new rules regulating e-cigs. E-cigarette manufacturers, of course, lobbied like crazy to block the proposal, and it seems they won. But the drugmakers fought for stricter regulations, for obvious reasons: E-cigarettes compete with prescription drugs that are supposed to help people stop smoking.

GlaxoSmithKline sells Nicorette gum and Johnson & Johnson manufactures nicotine patches. The New York Times reported these companies helped lead “strong opposition” to e-cigarettes.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is about to announce new proposed rules on e-cigarettes. Big Pharma’s shadow hangs over the rule-making.
It does stand to reason that the makers of nicotine patches and gum wouldn't like the competition...

The Book Of Obama

A new kid's bio of The One may be, shall we say, somewhat biased:
The book, “Barack Obama,” was published by Lerner Publishing in 2010 as part of their series “History Maker Bios.” All presidents going back to Richard Nixon -- except George W. Bush -- were the subjects of similar biographies published by Lerner, which did not respond to questions from FoxNews.com.

Critics also say the new Obama book is biased, pointing to a passage that reads, “but some people said Americans weren’t ready for that much change. Sure Barack was a nice fellow, they said. But white voters would never vote for a black president.”

Kyle Olson, founder of the conservative Education Action Group Foundation and EAGnews.org, said that is a problem.

“I have no problem with kids learning about Barack Obama ... he’s the President of the United States," said Olson. "However, the book teaches fourth graders that white voters didn’t want to vote for black men.”
So I guess all of the white voters who voted for Obama were racist, too?

Frankenweenie Speaks

Al Franken surrenders:
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) says he would be open to a brief delay in the individual mandate if the problems with HealthCare.gov aren't fixed by the end of the month, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

"I think then we have to consider extending the deadline for the mandate, but let’s hope that doesn't happen," Franken told MPR.

Franken has so far been relatively quiet about potential changes to the health-care law, but he now joins a growing group of Senate Democrats in seats that could be targeted by the GOP in 2014 who are speaking up on the issue.
He just wants to keep his phony-baloney job...

Magnum Farce

Remember Crystal Magnum?
During the trial, Mangum and her lawyers had tried to argue she was afraid for her life and stabbed Daye in self defense. In his closing argument, defense attorney Daniel Meier told the jury that before the stabbing, Daye had Mangum on the floor choking her.

"He was bigger than her. He was on top of her. He was choking her. [She gave him a] single stab wound to the flank," said Meier.

But in her closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Charlene Franks said Mangum deliberately attacked Daye and characterized her as a serial abuser with a history of physical violence towards boyfriends - including a domestic violence arrest involving another man in 2010.

"The defendant was the abuser, the defendant is guilty of first-degree murder," said Franks.
From a liar to a convicted murderer. You've come a long way, baby...

Anger Nation

Why are we so mad?
If it seems like Americans are angrier these days it's because we are.

What has you seeing red? Maybe it's the traffic or the ups and downs of the stock market. For one guy seen on a viral video, he threw a tantrum over a city street trombone player. I guess he didn't like the tune.
....

Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a psychiatrist, said it is not all a coincidence. Americans really are angrier now than they've ever been before.

A recent study from the USA Today found 60 percent of Americans report feeling angry or irritable. That is up from 50 percent when a similar poll was taken in 2011.
We've come a long way from Hope and Change...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Smoked Out

It's come to this: A city in California (where else?) bans smoking in your own home:
The ban, passed by the city of San Rafael, applies to both owners and renters, ABC News reported Thursday.

It covers any multi-family residence with three or more units, including condominiums, co-ops and apartments. The ban took effect Nov. 14.

"I'm not aware of any ordinance that's stronger," said Rebecca Woodbury, an analyst in the San Rafael's city manager's office who helped write the ordinance.

She cited studies that found secondhand smoke seeps through walls, ventilation ducts and even cracks as justification for the ordinance.

Critics jumped on Woodbury's reasoning and the ordinance itself.

"The science for that is spurious at best," said George Koodray, the state coordinator for Citizens Freedom Alliance and the Smoker's Club in New Jersey.

Steve Stanek, a research fellow at the free-market oriented policy group Heartland Institute in Chicago, supported the rights of smokers.

Stanek, a non-smoker, said, "My sympathies aren't with smokers because I am one, it's because of the huge growth in laws and punishments and government restricting people more and more."
Including in their own homes...

Hip Hop Hooey

Russell Simmons says Obamacare is a lifesaver:
Yes, we initially wanted single payer, and we had to compromise back in 2009 for the Affordable Care Act. But, it is a damn good piece of legislation that has already saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. So, let us not give up now.
....

And please don’t tell me this about people whose healthcare was canceled…because that healthcare is predatory and it is unconscionable that we would allow anyone in this country to own such policies.
You mean, the policies President Obama said they could keep?

Blogging In The Years: 1963

Covering the aftermath of President Kennedy's death:

Robo-Mule

Coming soon to a battlefield near you?

Remembrances

In looking back, another death took place in 1963:
Unlike J.R.R. Tolkien with Lord of the Rings, Lewis apparently intended Narnia to express Christian philosophy and doctrine in literature form to younger readers. Lewis tackled the subject more directly in his famous work Mere Christianity, but the work that resonates most with me is The Screwtape Letters, which I only read for the first time last year. It’s witty, charming, utterly accessible, and delivers one of the best and most efficient treatises on spiritual warfare imaginable.
C.S. Lewis was also known for his forays into science fiction. It would have been interesting to see what Lewis might have been like had he been a Golden Age science fiction writer.

Green Loss

Fisker is officially done:
The Energy Department has sold off its $192 million loan guarantee to Fisker Automotive to Chinese billionaire Richard Li for $25 million — the biggest taxpayer loss on a green loan since the failure of Solyndra.

The Energy Department will announce the “selling of the promissory note” to Hybrid Tech, which is owned by Chinese billionaire Richard Li, according to sources familiar with the sale. The DOE sold the loan to Li for $25 million after lending the financially troubled green automaker a total of $192 million since 2009.
Losing other peoples' money is what big government does best...

Shock On The Hill

Democratic staffers are suddenly shocked that they, too, are paying more for health care:
Veteran House Democratic aides are sick over the insurance prices they’ll pay under Obamacare, and they’re scrambling to find a cure.

“In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up 3-4 times what they were paying before,” Minh Ta, chief of staff to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), wrote to fellow Democratic chiefs of staff in an email message obtained by POLITICO. “Simply unacceptable.”
It's always different when it happens to you...

Seattle Slew

Seattle's new socialist council member gets right to work:
Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that “democratic ownership.”

“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” she said.
I guess she'll be calling for their arrests next. After all, it's what a good socialist leader would do...

Jet Setters

Surprise! Google company jets aren't so green, after all:
Through H211 LLC, a shell company controlled by Google’s Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt, the “NSA’s leading vendor” maintains a hangar of fuel-devouring private jets. In total, according to flight data I analyzed, Google executives have flown more than 3.4 million miles, burning an average of 100,000 gallons of fuel every month in recent years.

All that jet fuel comes from refined crude oil – lots of it. Google’s planes burned through nearly 59 million barrels of crude since 2007, much of it gallivanting to elite playgrounds and exotic destinations (almost 300 flights by my count) like Nantucket, Aspen, Costa Rica, St. Maarten, Hawaii, and Bermuda, and even obscure island paradises like Babelthuap, Tortola and Tahiti. Astonishingly, the amount of crude used to fuel Google’s planes could provide all the gasoline used by 11,500 American drivers for a whole year. The supposedly environmentally conscious company’s jets have emitted more than 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the last four years alone.

Google has snagged a few favors from Uncle Sam to lower the cost of maintaining its jet fleet along the way, too.

Since 2007, the private airplane fleet owned by Google execs has been housed in a hangar at NASA’s Ames Research Center just outside Google’s Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. The taxpayer-funded hangars are intended for aircraft performing scientific research to assist NASA, but it appears that Google’s jets perform very little actual scientific research (unless calculating the circumference of Mai Tai umbrellas on the beaches of Babelthuap somehow qualifies).

In addition to the publicly subsidized hangar space, Google received another money saving perk courtesy of U.S. taxpayers: Millions of dollars’ worth of jet fuel at below-market prices from NASA and the Department of Defense. Google officials spent an estimated $29 million on jet fuel at the facility, roughly $10 million less than what they would have paid on the open market.

Perhaps that explains why Google execs have flown to the nation’s capital more than 100 times in the past 6 years?
Flying the profitable skies...

Time Runs Out

Even TIME is now skeptical:
Obama's supporters can decry a "feeding frenzy," but this is a critical moment for a President whose agenda for a second term amounted to little more than being not as lame as the other guy. The HealthCare.gov website may or may not get fixed on deadline, the senior staff may be booted and rebooted, but it is already too late to avoid a pageant of media scrutiny, Republican merriment, a rebuke even from Bill Clinton and a host of existential questions: Can this policy be saved? What is left of Obama's second term if it is consumed by fixing an unpopular policy from the first? How could a White House appear so confident and incompetent at the same time?
For this administration, it seems to be easy...

The Prodigy

A series of concussions brings out hidden talent:
When Lachlan got out of the hospital, doctors said he shouldn’t play contact sports anymore. That was a heartbreaker for Connors, but in the wake of that disappointment Connors found that he suddenly could play music almost effortlessly.

Connors can now play “roughly 10 to 13 instruments.” That includes piano, guitar, mandolin, ukelele, harmonica, karimba and bagpipes — both Scottish and Irish ones.

“When Lachlan plays it’s absolutely beautiful,” his mom said.

Dr. Spyridon Papadopoulos told CBS4 it’s as if those concussions turned on a new part of Connors’ brain.

“This was not a small injury for him,” Papadopoulos said.

“The thought is just a theory — that this was a talent laying latent in his brain and somehow was uncovered by his brain rewiring after the injury. Clearly something happened in his brain and his brain had to recover from injury and change happened. And change may have uncovered this ability no one knew he had.”
The kid's not bad:

King Harry

Rand Paul takes on Harry Reid:

Daily Bread

Are sandwiches racist?
“Take the peanut butter sandwich, a seemingly innocent example a teacher used in a lesson last school year,” the Tribune said.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez asked. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”
But what about white bread? Or is that racist?

Knobs

Vancouver bans... doorknobs:
The ban not only applies to municipal buildings such as Vancouver City Hall, where most of the treasured art deco style doorknobs will be removed, but extends to all new homes built within city limits.

The bylaw is not retroactive, so residents won’t have to get rid of doorknobs they already have in their homes.

Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs said residents who want doorknobs in their new homes cannot install them.

"No, I don’t think so. They would be asked to put in an accessible doorknob,” Meggs said. “If they were really adamant I suppose they could go back later and retrofit them.

"I mean, the rules are there for a good reason. They’ve been looked at by contractors. They’ve been looked at by people with disabilities.”
The only people who haven't looked at them are the actual homeowners...

The Final Word

It's time to let the conspiracy theories die:
Look, guys. Lee Harvey Oswald murdered JFK. Oswald was a Communist. Not a small c, “all we are saying is give peace a chance and let’s support Negro civil rights” kind of Communist, but someone so committed to the cause (and so blind to the nature of the USSR) that he actually went to live in the Soviet Union. And when that didn’t work out, Oswald became a great admirer of Castro. He apparently would have gone to live in Cuba before the assassination if the Cubans would have had him. Before assassinating Kennedy, Oswald tried to kill a retired right-wing general. As near as we can tell, he targeted Kennedy in revenge for Kennedy’s anti-Castro actions.

The attempt to at best distract us from who the killer was and why he killed JFK, and at worst to pin the blame on entirely innocent people for inciting Dallas opinion against JFK (or perhaps to imply that the right-wingers plotted the assassination), even though those innocents were exactly the type of people Oswald hated, is just pathetic, and the Times and Post should be embarrassed for publishing these pieces.
Like most historical losers, Oswald was desperate for attention. It's just too bad he got so much of it after his own death.

Their Generation

The kids abandon Obama:
Millennials may be young, but they’re not stupid. As bad as Obama’s time in office has been for older Americans, nobody has taken it on the chin quite as bad as kids under 30, who are more likely to be unemployed, broke, and facing decades of sub-par wages if and when they do finally get a job.

Observers sympathetic to the president and a progressive Democratic agenda chalk the sharp decline up to the clusterfucked rollout of Obamacare. “Because they came of age watching a Republican president fail massively in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crisis, Millennials are predisposed to favor Democrats,” writes Peter Beinart, coming up with arguably the most inventive new variation on the old “blame Bush” meme. Beinart notes that even as Millennials are less trusting of government than Gen Xers and baby boomers had been in their 20s, they were more likely to support both Obama and his health care reform plan. “If Obamacare never gets fixed,” frets Beinart, “it might just sour the single best relationship the Democratic Party has: its love affair with the young.”

Well, then, the Dems are officially on the market for a new love connection. While there’s no question that the launch of Obamacare has been a major disaster, the fact is that the youth revolt against Obama started almost immediately after he moved into the White House. In 2008, Obama won 66 percent of votes cast by 18-29 year olds. In 2012, he racked up just 60 percent. More tellingly, the participation rate among younger voters dropped precipitously between those elections, with Obama pulling 2.4 million fewer votes from 18-29 year olds in 2012. The second time around, he just wasn’t putting young asses in the voting booth anymore.
Like it says, they're not stupid, but the Democrats treat them that way.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Kennedy Enigma

JFK, the forgotten conservative?
The New York Times’ executive editor calls Kennedy “the elusive president”; The Post calls him “the most enigmatic” president. Most libidinous, certainly; most charming, perhaps. But enigmatic and elusive? Many who call him difficult to understand seem eager to not understand him. They present as puzzling or uncharacteristic aspects of his politics about which he was consistent and unambiguous. For them, his conservative dimension is an inconvenient truth. Ira Stoll, in “JFK, Conservative,” tries to prove too much but assembles sufficient evidence that his book’s title is not merely provocative.
It's probably true that Kennedy might have been considered too far to the right for today's Democratic party. Which is unfortunate, because it seems to have forgotten his original principals while mythologizing him.

Nuclear War

Harry Reid goes there:
The Senate went nuclear on Thursday, making a dramatic change to the Senate rules for confirming judicial and executive nominees and significantly curbing the power of the minority party.

Under the new rules, only a simple majority would be needed to clear a procedural hurdle in the approval process for executive nominees and judicial nominees. Currently, 60 votes are required to clear that hurdle, which gives the minority party the power to filibuster and block nominees of whom they disapprove. For Supreme Court nominees, the 60-vote requirement would remain in effect.

In the past several weeks, Republicans have filibustered three nominees to the District of Columbia Circuit Court, prompting Reid to call for an end to the “gridlock” and move forward with the rules change.

“The need for change is so very, very obvious,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday, as almost every senator sat at his or her desk in recognition of the significance of the moment. “It’s clearly visible. It’s manifest we have to do something to change things.”
Sounds like Harry is worried about the 2014 elections big time...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Because, Because

Just because:
However it originated, though, the usage of "because-noun" (and of "because-adjective" and "because-gerund") is one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language. It conveys focus (linguist Gretchen McCulloch: "It means something like 'I'm so busy being totally absorbed by X that I don’t need to explain further, and you should know about this because it's a completely valid incredibly important thing to be doing'"). It conveys brevity (Carey: "It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone").

But it also conveys a certain universality. When I say, for example, "The talks broke down because politics," I'm not just describing a circumstance. I'm also describing a category. I'm making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I'm offering an explanation and rolling my eyes—and I'm able to do it with one little word.
Because!

Leading The Charge

A coalition of the greedy:
The G77 and China bloc led 132 poor countries in a walk out during talks about “loss and damage” compensation for the consequences of global warming that countries cannot adapt to, like Typhoon Haiyan. The countries that left claim to have the support of other coalitions of poor nations, including the Least Developed Countries, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Africa Group.

Poor countries have demanded that the developed world give them $100 billion annually by 2020 to prepare for the impacts of global warming, such as heat waves and droughts. Brazil even put forward a proposal last week that would have made rich countries pay for historical greenhouse gas emissions.

“The US, EU, Australia and Norway remain blind to the climate reality that’s hitting us all, and poor people and countries much harder,” said Harjeet Singh, spokesperson for ActionAid International. “They continue to derail negotiations in Warsaw that can create a new system to deal with new types of loss and damage such as sea-level rise, loss of territory, biodiversity and other non-economic losses more systematically.”

Rich countries have so far resisted these proposals. Australia, Europe and the U.S. have all argued that the issue should be addressed in 2015, when the world is set to discuss a comprehensive climate agreement. Developed countries have also banded together to block attempts to create a whole new bureaucracy to handle climate “reparations” to poor countries.
Nobody wants to pay extortion...

Bodega Bums

It's literally a scam:
Authorities busted up a massive multi-million dollar welfare fraud scheme that has been running rampant in Asian communities throughout the city, sources said.
Around 20 delis and bodegas were raided across Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan Wednesday in a joint operation between Department of Homeland Security Investigations, The New York State Department of Health and New York Attorney General’s office that uncovered the endemic corruption, sources said.
Store owners would allegedly purchase customer’s WIC coupons and give the recipient a percentage of the cash value.
The store owners would then pocket their cut of the money before being reimbursed by the government for the coupons, sources said.
I suppose this is as opposed to the official endemic corruption...

The Next Wave

More cancellations are on the way:
An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.

"The impact I'm mostly worried about is on small young, entrepreneurial firms that will suddenly face much higher health insurance premiums if they want to offer health insurance to their employees," said AEI resident scholar Stan Veuger. "I think for a lot of other businesses ... they can just send their employees to the exchanges or offer them a fixed subsidy every month to buy health insurance themselves."
It's enough to drive one to drink...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ford Fail

Rob Ford goes off the air:
The TV show of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was canceled Tuesday, just one day after it debuted.
He and his brother hosted "Ford Nation" on Canada's Sun News Network.
"It beat our record of 100,000 viewers," but the time and production the show required does not make it a viable option, said Kory Teneycke, vice president of Sun News Network.
The Ford brothers will appear as regular guests on Sun News programming, he said.
The show debuted Monday, the same day the Toronto City Council voted to strip the mayor of most of his powers in a tumultuous meeting during which a charging Ford knocked down one of its members.
Being a nutcase in public doesn't help your ratings. Ask Alec Baldwin...

Sticking Points

Witness the government's war on buckyballs:
Scraping together $2,000 with a partner, Zucker in 2009 began importing small, high-powered magnets from China. Dubbed "Buckyballs," the BB-sized magnets could form all kinds of shapes and quickly became a hot seller. A year of trade shows, blog posts and word of mouth brought sales to $10 million, and Zucker projected more than doubling that by 2012. With his product in 1,500 stores, the 34-year-old Zucker was living his entrepreneurial dream.

"It was the great American success story," Zucker recalled.

But then the complaints started coming in. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned that small children - younger than the 14 and over age group Zucker was targeting - could swallow the powerful magnets, then pull them against their stomach walls with other Buckyballs. They were a danger, the agency declared. In fact, since 2009, the CPSC says, some 1,700 children have been hospitalized after ingesting Buckyballs or similar, high-powered magnets.

Zucker says he worked vigorously with the agency and had five warning labels on the product. Maxfield & Oberton, Zucker's company, quickly complied when the agency sought a recall in 2010, asking to adjust the warning label on the product. But in 2012, the agency sought a "stronger recall of the product."

"Essentially, it was a declaration that we were going out of business," Zucker said.
Government does not innovate, and it discourages those who do...

Dictatorship By Decree

This is how democracy dies:
Venezuelan lawmakers granted President Nicolas Maduro yearlong decree powers on Tuesday that he says are essential to regulate the economy and stamp out corruption but adversaries view as a thinly veiled power grab.

Hundreds of supporters of the ruling Socialist Party cheered outside the National Assembly as the so-called Enabling Law was passed, while a recording of Maduro's late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, singing Venezuela's anthem rang out inside the hall.

Though winning the decree powers hands Maduro a political victory in the runup to December 8 municipal elections, he still faces a severely distorted economy with embarrassing product shortages and inflation surging to nearly 55 percent.

"With this Enabling Law we are following an order by President Chavez," said Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly and a staunch supporter of Maduro.

"He told us to pass all the laws necessary to wring the necks of the speculators and the money launderers."
In this case, it means actually wringing their necks...

Pipeline

Former President Bush supports Keystone:
Speaking at the DUG East Conference with top executives from oil and gas companies, the 43rd president said that the pipeline’s construction from Canada to Texas would help put the focus back on the country’s private-sector of the economy, reports Desmogblog.com.

“I do think we’re underperforming economically, and I think the reason why is there’s not enough focus on private sector growth, said Bush. “I think the goal of the country ought to be: ‘How do we grow the private sector?’ That ought to be the laser-focus of any administration. And therefore, once that’s the goal, an issue like Keystone pipeline becomes a no-brainer.”

“If private sector growth is the goal and Keystone pipeline creates 20,000 new private sector jobs, build the damn thing,” he said to applause.
If you build it, the prosperity will come...

The Long Deployment

Remember when the antiwar crowd was accusing Bush of wanting endless war?
A draft of a key U.S.-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.
The wide-ranging document, still unsigned by the United States and Afghanistan, has the potential to commit thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and spend billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new, open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan in the name of training and continuing to fight al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be ending, but renewed under new, scaled-down U.S.-Afghan terms.
“The Parties acknowledge that continued U.S. military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate and agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward that end,” the draft states.
Well, cooperation in Afghanistan is a two-way street, and often it seems one-way...

Out Of Touch

When in doubt, go on strike-even when you don't have to:
Taxpayers in Will County have offered its public employees a hefty pay raise and are willing to pick up 90 percent of the cost for their health insurance, but that’s not good enough for members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 1028.

Its 1,300 members went on strike Monday, decrying a “paltry” offer from the county that would have given workers a 14.5 percent pay hike and have taxpayers pay for the overwhelming majority of their health insurance costs.

“That gives an indication of just how out of touch government workers are,” Steve Stanek, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute, told Illinois Watchdog. “I think they’ve become more radicalized and more out of touch as they have become more unionized.”

Stanek is quick to point to numbers that show labor unions are growing only in the public sector.

“You can go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics … and you will see the government sector is unionized at, I think, six times the rate as the private sector.”
Being lazy on the taxpayers' money is a full-time job...

Insult After Injury

Sexism is an ugly thing:
“Last Friday, on this broadcast,” bashir said, “I made some comments which were deeply offensive and directed at Governor Sarah Palin. I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin, and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said. My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics, and they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said.”

“In the battle of ideas, America leads the world in whole-hearted discussions and disagreements,” he continued, “and these arguments can be heard on a daily basis. But what I did on Friday had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that great tradition, and I am deeply sorry. Upon reflection, I so wish that I had been more thoughtful, more considerate, more compassionate. but I was not. And what I said is now a matter of public record.”

“But if I could add something to the public record,” Bashir added, “it would be this: That I deeply regret what I said, and that I have learned a sober lesson in these last few days. That the politics of vitriol and destruction is a miserable place to be, and a miserable person to become. And I promise that I will take the opportunity to learn from this experience. My hope is that it will renew in me a spirit of humility and humanity, that looks for the good and that builds upon the great things that this country has to offer to all of us, regardless of our political persuasion. This will be my guiding light and compass in the days ahead. But once again, I am truly sorry for what I said on Friday.”
It would be nice to think he actually meant it...

The Ministry Of Silly Walks

They're putting the band back together:
British comedy veterans Monty Python are set to reunite for a new show in their first major collaboration in 30 years, member Terry Jones revealed on Tuesday.

"We're getting together and putting on a show -- it's real," Jones told the BBC.

"I'm quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!"

The BBC reported that the new collaboration -- the first major project since the 1983 film "Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life" -- would come in the form of a theatre show.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition...

Numbers Racket

Unemployment? What unemployment?
Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.
And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.
“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.
The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.
I guess they couldn't wait for President Obama to fake the numbers...

Attack Dogs

Political thuggery in Wisconsin:
Subpoenas have been issued demanding correspondence and donor information of right-leaning organizations and individuals and raids have been conducted resulting in law enforcement officers taking computers and files in a secret investigation, according to reports.

“In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders,” the Wall Street Journal writes.

It continues, “Copies of two subpoenas we’ve seen demand ‘all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications’ both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.”

The WSJ says the latest actions are taking place under Wisconsin’s John Doe law, which makes it difficult for the groups involved to defend themselves publicly.
When all else fails, go with the tried and true methods of intimidation...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cheat Sheet

Well, this might explain a few things:
College students who cheated on a simple task were more likely to want government jobs, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania found in a study of hundreds of students in Bangalore, India.

Their results, recently released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggest that one of the contributing forces behind government corruption could be who gets into government work in the first place.
....

“Overall, we find that dishonest individuals -- as measured by the dice task -- prefer to enter government service,” wrote Hanna and coauthor Shing-yi Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

They added, “Importantly, we show that cheating on this task is also predictive of fraudulent behaviors by real government officials.”
Behavior is learned early...

The Used

Kanye West is out of love with Obama:
“Oh, you talking about how he use to come and visit me and my mama and tell me he’s about to run for president?” Mr. West replied. “I just think that we’re pop icons, and the president likes to use that type of thing just to be down. People was fine with me being everyone’s punching bag for about five years — ‘This is the person we love to hate, so if you want to distract people from everything that’s going on … just say you hate Kanye and there’s going be 30 other people who say they hate Kanye.’ That was kind of my position in culture and he kind of used that too — ‘Oh, he’s a jackass’ — because that’s how the world felt.

“I don’t care if someone’s the president or not,” Mr. West said. “I care about thoughts and how you helping people and what you bring to the world.”
So does this mean that President Obama doesn't like black people, either?

Blue Spending Blues

Democrats stay true to tradition: The DNC raised just $5.5 million over the June fundraising period and outspent themselves by about $200k, ...