Monday, September 30, 2013

In The Mood

Change! Americans are now more conservative than they've been in sixty years:
The latest update of Stimson’s policy mood series suggests that the American public in 2012 was more conservative than at any point since 1952. (Actually, since mood in each year is estimated with some error, it seems safer to say that the current level of conservatism roughly equals the previous highs recorded in 1980 and 1952.) While the slight increase in conservatism from 2011 to 2012 is too small to be significant, it continues a marked trend that began as soon as Barack Obama moved into the White House.

Obama’s election in 2008 was hailed as the advent of “The New Liberal Order” and cited as evidence that “liberal views have re-emerged with a vengeance.” His reelection in 2012 was even more improbably described as “the most decisive mandate for an assertive, progressive governing model in well over a generation.” In reality, Stimson’s data show, the public was already more conservative than usual in 2008, and a good deal more conservative by 2012.
Never assume what the people are thinking...

Final Round

The shutdown now seems inevitable:
On a strict party-line vote, the U.S. Senate rejected a measure passed by the House which would fund the government and delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year. By a vote of 54 – 46, the Senate rejected the measure and sent the bill back to the House. A government shutdown looms if the Congress cannot agree to a continuing resolution by midnight.

Included in the measures the Senate rejected was a delay on the ACA and a repeal of its tax on medical device makers.

Democratic Senators have told the press that they will not accept a continuing resolution that only funds the government for another week – another measure the House GOP was reportedly considering.
Back to you, John Boehner...

To Free Or Not To Free

"Free" is apparently a relative term:
From at least June 26, 2013 to as recently as September 15, under the topic, "Where can I get free or low-cost care in my community?" the following statement appeared: "If you can't afford any health plan, you can get free or low-cost health and dental care at a nearby community health center."

However, sometime between September 16 and September 23, the reference to "free" care was dropped. The title of the topic was changed as well, and now reads: "Where can I get low-cost care in my community?"

The page in question is not a new one, as the webpage's Internet address remains the same, still containing the word "free": However, there is no notation anywhere on the page that it was revised; the change just appeared unannounced.

Other changes include dropping references to "dental" care and the availability of "prescription drugs," as well as exchanging the phrase "specialized care for more serious conditions" for the milder "referrals to specialized care."
Remember when team Obama promised "Free care" for all? Neither do they...

Fat Apple

New York has become fat city:
The city’s obesity rate among adults has skyrocketed 25 percent since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, city Health Department figures show.
That year, nearly one in five New Yorkers was considered obese. Now almost one in four is.
The figures are surprising given Gotham’s residents are doing better according to other health indicators.
For example, the percentage of adults who drink one or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day dropped to 28 percent last year from 36 percent in 2007, says the Health Department’s Take Care New York 2012 report.
The data also show more people are physically active and eating vegetables.
Nanny stating breeds depression, which makes people eat more...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Social Crime

Crime moves online:
Extremists spread their propaganda via video. Gangs post their colors, signs and rap songs to showcase their criminal enterprises. Prostitutes and drug dealers troll for new customers. Teens trash a former NFL player's house and brag about it with photos on Twitter.

But while Twitter can serve as a valuable recruitment and communications tool, it also can be a double-edged sword: Public boasting about illegal deeds can serve as a road map for law enforcement officials and lead to arrests.

Extremist groups, domestic and international, have been particularly savvy in their use of social media, says Evan Kohlmann, a senior partner with the security firm Flashpoint who specializes in the online communications of extremist groups. Twitter has become their site of choice because it is easy to sign up and remain anonymous among millions of users and tweets.

"These groups realize they need to reach as many people as possible," he says. "And Twitter and Facebook is where you find people."
The stupid ones, unfortunately...

Haters Gotta Hate

The Democratic blame game:
It all starts with President Obama, who routinely accuses Republicans trying to thwart his spending plans by putting “party ahead of country.” Last January, when talking—as Dan Pfeiffer was this week—about GOP insistence on trading spending cuts for agreeing to raise the nation’s debt limit—the president said he wouldn’t negotiate with those holding “a gun at the head of the American people.”

Joe Biden asserts Republicans are holding the country “hostage” with their spending stance, and in a 2011 meeting with congressional Democrats the vice president agreed with the suggestion that Tea Party groups were “terrorists.”

Among Democrats on Capitol Hill, it starts at the top, too.
Failure usually does...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Missed Information

If you can't explain the global warming pause, ignore it:
The report, produced by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), could not explain "why the planet has largely stopped warming over the past 15 years." So it just ignored it. According to the climate data from the U.K.'s weather-watching Met Office, "global surface temperatures rose rapidly during the 70s," but they have "have been relatively flat over the past decade and a half, rising only 0.05 degrees Celsius (0.09 degrees Fahrenheit)."
In September, a draft of the U.N. report simply could not explain why the surface temperatures have not warmed.
“Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends,” the report now reads. "There may also be ... an overestimate of the response to increasing greenhouse gas and other anthropogenic forcing."
Judith Curry, professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said if the "if the pause continues beyond 15 years (well it already has), they are toast.”
And cold toast, at that...

Like A Rolling Stone

Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize laureate?
Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience. His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.
The answer is blowin' in the wind...


"What is this Obamacare of which you speak?"

The Retail Dead

This could also be useful during elections in Florida:
The owner of the newly opened Zombie Survival store in Florida said the shop carries everything a customer could need for an undead apocalypse.

Kurt Josephs, owner of the store in an Orlando strip mall, said the store's wares include surplus supplies from the U.S. Army and Navy such as gas masks, books, camouflage gear, backpacks, machetes and MRE rations, the Orlando Sentinel reported Friday.

"Zombies get people excited," Josephs said. "It's a craze right now."
Bring out your wallets...

Gambling Man

I hope this isn't a widespread problem:
Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, who heads Strategic Command, suspended the deputy commander, Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, from his duties on Sept. 3, according to the command's top spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze. Giardina is still assigned to the command but is prohibited from performing duties related to nuclear weapons and other issues requiring a security clearance, she said.

Kehler has recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Giardina be reassigned, Kunze said. Giardina has been the deputy commander of Strategic Command since December 2011. He is a career submarine officer and prior to starting his assignment there was the deputy commander and chief of staff at U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Two senior U.S. officials familiar with the investigation said it is related to gambling issues. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe in incomplete.

Strategic Command oversees the military's nuclear fighter units, including the Navy's nuclear-armed submarines and the Air Force's nuclear bombers and nuclear land-based missiles. It is located near Omaha, Neb.

Kunze said Strategic Command did not announce the Sept. 3 suspension because Giardina remains under investigation and action on Kehler's recommendation that Giardina be reassigned is pending. The suspension was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald.
At least at the card table he'd have the ultimate trump card...

Seize The Wealth

Wealth "redistribution" goes global:
The precedent that was set in Cyprus is being used as a template for establishing bail-in procedures in New Zealand, Canada and all over Europe. It is only a matter of time before we see this exact same type of thing happen in the United States as well. From now on, anyone that keeps a large amount of money in any single bank account or retirement fund is being incredibly foolish.
Better get that mattress ready...

Paid Advertising

NBC is all in for a final ad campaign for Obamacare:
Timed to coincide with the rollout of new insurance exchanges, “Ready or Not, the New Healthcare Law” begins airing Monday, Sept. 30. The series will appear on such network mainstays as “NBC Nightly News” and “Today,” as well as on social media and other digital outlets.

The programs will provide interactive tools “to help shed light on what the healthcare act means for [consumers] and explain how to enroll” in the new marketplaces opening on Oct. 1, according to the statement. Additionally, the series will include reporting on the Obama administration’s messaging, primary-care physician shortages, changes to emergency rooms and other topics related to the law’s rollout.
Will this include telling businesses how they can avoid laying off workers or families how to keep their premiums from skyrocketing?

Just Sign Here

If you can't force workers to join a union, trick them:
Workers at the two-year-old Chattanooga plant informally indicated support for bringing in the United Auto Workers, a decision that could pave the way for letting the powerhouse labor organization represent workers in collective bargaining. However, since Tennessee is one of 24 so-called "Right to Work" states, plant employees don't have to sign up or contribute dues.

Now, some eight workers at the plant, which employs about 1,600, say they thought they were simply agreeing to have a secret vote on bringing in the union, when in fact, they were signing cards professing their support for it. The workers also say that when they objected, they were told they had to go to the local union hall in order to reclaim the cards. The National Right to Work Foundation filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

“There’s been a long history of bad actions in pushing workers into the union,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of legal information for the NRTW foundation, told “These workers were told that it was a secret ballot vote. They were being forced into the union illegally.”
In the old days they would have just broken a few heads...

Friday, September 27, 2013

High In The Middle

Surprise, surprise:

Extra Crumbs

Apparently they had something left over after all:
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed just last weekend that "there's no more cuts to make." Pelosi made the comments in response to Republicans demanding additional cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

"The cupboard is bare," she told CNN.

Apparently not completely bare.

Gene Sperling, chief economic adviser to President Obama, told the Associated Press the administration scrounged through the federal budget and found untapped money that "either had not flowed or had not gotten out or not directed to the top priorities."

That money is now being sent to Detroit.
Funny how that works out...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Stupid Tax

Finally, I agree with Harry Reid:

Regulations Not Required

Why did the EPA impose new rules for coal plants? Just because:
“The EPA does not anticipate that this proposed rule will result in notable CO2 emission changes, energy impacts, monetized benefits, costs, or economic impacts by 2022,” the EPA writes under the comments section of its proposal.

The EPA also admits that “the owners of newly built electric generating units will likely choose technologies that meet these standards even in the absence of this proposal due to existing economic conditions as normal business practice.”
If it's not necessary, the government will do it anyway...

Final Payoff

Detroit collapsed, but some people still got paid:
The payments, which were not publicly disclosed, included bonuses to retirees, supplements to workers not yet retired and cash to the families of workers who died before becoming eligible to collect a pension, according to reports by an outside actuary and other people with knowledge of the matter.

How much each person received is not known. But available records suggest that the trustees approving the payments did not discriminate; nearly everybody in the plan received them. Most of the trustees on Detroit’s two pension boards represent organized labor, and for years they could outvote anyone who challenged the payments.
Presiding over the ruins is expensive...

Punch Line

Not funny:
“Dan Nainan comes over to me and says, ‘Are you Josh Rogin,’ and I said yes and then he punched me in the jaw, then he pushed me, then he walked away and about 10 seconds later he came over and punched me again,” Rogin told Whispers directly after the fight. (Whispers was also an eyewitness to the incident.) “At that point I yelled, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ other people noticed and they courted him off and the bouncers escorted him from the show room and we called the police and he’s in the process of being arrested,” Rogin continued.

Nainan was unavailable for comment about what provoked the incident, as he was being led out of the venue by D.C. Police in handcuffs.
I'm shocked. There are still Newsweek journalists?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

By The Premiums

Obamacare does discriminate:
Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.
Some premiums are more equal than others...

Heavy Rollers

It's the armored car that fries paparazzi:
The cars aren't sold in the U.S., leaving plenty of business for companies like Texas Armoring Corp. in San Antonio, which has custom-built bulletproof rides for Steven Seagal and rap star T.I. and for a referral-only L.A. company co-owned by America's Got Talent judge Melanie Brown and husband Stephen Belafonte that rents armored cars. Texas Armoring strips a vehicle to the frame and installs countermeasures like electrified door handles that deliver nonlethal shocks to carjackers and overzealous paparazzi. The finished cars take two to three months to convert at a cost of as much as $100,000 and are virtually indistinguishable from unarmored vehicles.
Shades of Robocop:

The Dark Empire

May the Force be with him?

Treaty By Decree?

Bob Corker warns:
It is my understanding that Secretary of State John Kerry will sign the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on behalf of the United States. The ATT raises significant legislative and constitutional questions. Any act to implement this treaty, provisionally or otherwise, before the Congress provides its advice and consent would be inconsistent with the United States Constitution, law, and practice.

As you know, Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution requires the United States Senate to provide its advice and consent before a treaty becomes binding under United States law. The Senate has not yet provided its advice and consent, and may not provide such consent. As a result, the Executive Branch is not authorized to take any steps to implement the treaty.

Moreover, even after the Senate provides its advice and consent, certain treaties require changes to United States law in the form of legislation passed by both the House and Senate. The ATT is such a treaty. Various provisions of the ATT, including but not limited to those related to the regulation of imports and trade in conventional arms, require such implementing legislation and relate to matters exclusively reserved to Congress under our Constitution.
Well, that's never stopped Team Obama before...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kids For Care

The Secretary of Explaining Stuff wants the kids to come on down:

Red Bill

I'd call this playing the Commie card, except that, well, de Blasio actually was one:
Mr. Lhota had already criticized Mr. de Balsio yesterday following a New York Times report that described Mr. de Blasio’s past support for revolutionary Nicaraguan politics, as well as his desire for a “democratic socialism” vision for society–which Mr. Lhota called “unfortunate.”

But Mr. Lhota doubled down today in far harsher words–calling on Mr. de Blasio to “explain himself” and equating Mr. de Blasio’s views with communism.

“Bill de Blasio needs to explain himself — and explain himself now — to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who escaped Marxist tyranny in Asia, Central America, and from behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe,” he said in a statement.

“Mr. de Blasio’s involvement with the Sandinistas didn’t happen in 1917; it happened 70 years later when the cruelty and intrinsic failure of communism had become crystal clear to anyone with a modicum of reason. Mr. de Blasio’s class warfare strategy in New York City is directly out of the Marxist playbook. Now we know why.”

Mr. de Blasio yesterday dismissed Mr. Lhota’s criticism as ”a right-wing tactic,” telling reporters, “I’m very proud to be a progressive.”

This morning, during an appearance on PIX 11 news, he was asked whether he was a “radical, left-wing Democrat.”

“I’m a progressive and I’m a Democrat, that’s right,” he responded, describing his philosophy in the tradition of President Franklin Roosevelt. He went on criticize the “wrong, … failed Reagan-Bush policies” of the 1980s and said he was “very proud” to have been involved in work opposing them.
Between nannystaters, Weiners, and former Communists, New York City seems to be getting exactly the politicians it deserves...

The Power

Who do you mistrust?
Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the federal government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the government has too much power. Thirty-two percent now say the government has the right amount of power. Few say it has too little power…

This new high encompasses Republicans (81%), who are now more likely than at any time since 2002 to say the government has too much power, and Democrats (38%), who now are more likely to say this than at any time since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
He hasn't exactly done a whole lot to change that perception, either...

Women's Club

Ted Turner opines on men:

I actually agree with Ted on one point. He should stay as far away from political office as possible.

Olive Branch Time

From President Obama's speech at the U.N.:
Since I took office, I have made it clear – in letters to the Supreme Leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani – that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully, but that we are determined to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon. We are not seeking regime change, and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy. Instead, we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and UN Security Council resolutions.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.

These statements made by our respective governments should offer the basis for a meaningful agreement. We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful. To succeed, conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable. After all, it is the Iranian government’s choices that have led to the comprehensive sanctions that are currently in place. This isn’t simply an issue between America and Iran – the world has seen Iran evade its responsibilities in the past, and has an abiding interest in making sure that Iran meets its obligations in the future.
Will this be Obama's Nixon in China moment?

Update: Apparently not.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Defund Or Die

Why the call to defund won't work:
The whole concept of “defund” is to block funding for other, unrelated government functions until Democrats agree to trade away funding for Obamacare. This detail is vital — and I’m convinced that most conservatives who have bought into this strategy have been misled to believe we can hold off Obamacare for a while with a government shutdown. Cruz has repeatedly said, as he does in the interview above, that he’s just trying to keep Democrats from funding Obamacare. But that’s a bit misleading. Obamacare is already funded, and that won’t change if this bill gets stalled by a filibuster. During the shutdown, the Marines don’t get paid, but Obamacare gets funded.
Ted Cruz and company need to do a better job of explaining this, at that.

Jabba's Revenge

He's all yours, Bounty Hunter:
A photo of the surface of the planet Mercury has set astronomers giggling with what appears to be Star Wars' hero Han Solo -- frozen in carbonite.

The picture, released by the Messenger spacecraft division of NASA, shows a formation in the terrain of the Caloris basin "in the shape of a certain carbonite-encased smuggler who can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs."

"If there are two things you should remember, it's not to cross a Hutt, and that Mercury's surface can throw up all kinds of surprises," the NASA website posted.

The region of Mercury's surface was shaped by magma ejected during the formation of the Caloris basin. The body-shaped lumps may be remnants of what was there before.
Well, he was very well-preserved...

Putin Mania

The Cult of Putin?
Putinphilia is not, of course, the predominant position of the conservative movement. But in certain corners of the Internet, adoration for the leader of America's No. 1 frenemy is unexceptional. They are not his countrymen, Russian expats, or any of the other regional allies you might expect to find allied with the Russian leader. Some, like Young and his readers, are earnest outdoorsy types who like Putin's Rough Rider sensibility. Others more cheekily admire Putin's cult of masculinity and claim relative indifference to the political stances—the anti-Americanism, the support for leaders like Bashar al-Assad, the oppression of minorities, gays, journalists, dissidents, independent-minded oligarchs—that drive most Americans mad. A few even arrive at their Putin admiration through a strange brew of antipathy to everything they think President Obama stands for, a reflexive distrust of what the government and media tells them, and political beliefs that go unrepresented by either of the main American political parties.
Well, you can feel that way and still not like Putin, either. "Certain corners of the Internet" always have their own brand of crazy.

The Exploited

Never let a tragedy go to waste:

With all due respect, Mr. President, maybe the real conversation should about how we deal with the dangerously mentally ill.

Network News

Patients may have fewer choices under Obamacare after all:
When insurance marketplaces open on Oct. 1, most of those shopping for coverage will be low- and moderate-income people for whom price is paramount. To hold down costs, insurers say, they have created smaller networks of doctors and hospitals than are typically found in commercial insurance. And those health care providers will, in many cases, be paid less than what they have been receiving from commercial insurers.

Some consumer advocates and health care providers are increasingly concerned. Decades of experience with Medicaid, the program for low-income people, show that having an insurance card does not guarantee access to specialists or other providers.

Consumers should be prepared for “much tighter, narrower networks” of doctors and hospitals, said Adam M. Linker, a health policy analyst at the North Carolina Justice Center, a statewide advocacy group.

“That can be positive for consumers if it holds down premiums and drives people to higher-quality providers,” Mr. Linker said. “But there is also a risk because, under some health plans, consumers can end up with astronomical costs if they go to providers outside the network.”
Things might not be so great inside the network, either...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Empty Pockets

Nancy Pelosi swears there's nothing left:
“The cupboard is bare,” the California Democrat said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “There’s no more cuts to make.”

“We all want to reduce the deficit,” she added. “Put everything on the table, review it, but you cannot have any more cuts just for the sake of cuts. Right now you’re taking trophies.”
Oh, I'm sure her colleagues could find something if they tried...

All Your Media Are Belong To Us

Out: The vast right-wing conspiracy. In: The vast media comspiracy:
But I think you’ve got to give it the Republicans. They have a much more reliable media base. And they just say no. They know what they want. They want power to cut taxes, eliminate regulations, take government down except for what they like. And they can fill the atmosphere with a lot of static.

When you’re trying to get something done, it requires a much more deft strategy because you have to explain what you’re trying to do, and it’s a little tougher for us.
Yes, the Republicans have such a huge media base out there...

Breaking North Korea

North Korea has gotten into the meth business:
The nation, hit hard by the collapse of the Soviet Union which supported it with aid, began making methamphetamine in large laboratories in its poorer northern regions for export.

These were scaled down about eight years ago as the drug began flooding back into the country.

But instead of slowing down production, this sparked explosive growth in crystal meth manufacture.

Jobless scientists and technicians created their own ‘kitchen labs’, teaming up with smuggling gangs that blossomed during a deadly famine in the Nineties.

‘They were rather old people and their lives were tough,’ one defector told the report’s authors. ‘Private entrepreneurs began to look for such people and employ them.’

Users include soldiers in the world’s most militarised state, women taking it for weight control and sick people unable to access medicines in a country with such chronic healthcare that doctors use old beer bottles for hospital drips.

‘People in North Korea do not realise what the side effects will be,’ said Professor Kim Seok-Hyang, who co-authored the report. ‘They think it is a good thing to relieve their pain. A cure-all medicine.’
They're poor, desperate, and dealing drugs to make a living. It's a perfect socialist success story...

Still Open For Business

Good news, if you can call it that:
Several officials running new state-based insurance exchanges that are due to open for enrollment next month said they expected to have access to funds in the case of a shutdown, which if it happens, would also start on October 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.

But they were unsure of the consequences for the federal agencies they work with, in part because they have not been briefed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency taking the lead in implementing the reform law.

The exchanges are key to the success of "Obamacare," as they aim to help millions of uninsured Americans receive benefits by providing government subsidies to buy insurance.

Officials involved in building the online marketplaces have already warned of technical bumps and glitches in the first few weeks after they go live, contributing to a slow start to enrollment.
In other words, the exchanges will pretty much run as expected...

The Ethanol Game

Who really benefits from it?
When Congress created an ethanol mandate in 2005 and expanded it in 2007, this was widely, and correctly, derided as a political gift to the ethanol industry. But it’s worth noting that big Wall Street players were also pushing for the ethanol mandate.

In fact, Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson was lobbying on ethanol within a year of becoming Treasury Department chief of staff in the Obama administration.

When I write about the big guys lobbying for and profiting from big-government, some liberal bloggers yawn and ask “who cares if someone’s getting rich?” (See, for instance, Brad Plumer, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein.)

But figuring out who believes they will profit off of a law can help us detect flaws in the law we may not have previously detected. In other words, we should ask “what are these lobbyists seeing that we’re not?”

In the case of the ethanol mandate, that flaw may be the ability of big banks to rig the market in ethanol credits.
It's a long con, and once again the poor are the real losers.

Let Them Eat Stagnation

Where the wealthy are:
From the mid-1980s to around 2007, the median household income rise in DC remained pretty closely linked to that of the nation as a whole. Anyone remember what happened in 2007, besides the economic slowdown that would turn into the Great Recession? Democrats took control of Congress and federal spending shot upward ever since. And at least according to the Fed, that disparity is actually accelerating, at least to 2012, with DC median income skyrocketing while the rest of us stagnate.
The disconnect starts here...

Green Goes Bust

Meat-eaters in Germany, rejoice:
In what could be a cautionary tale for First Lady Michelle Obama's efforts to tweak Americans' diets, Germans look set to punish the Green Party for urging that public cafeterias go meat-free on a designated "Veggie Day" each week in order to help the environment and reduce cruelty to animals. Borrowing colorfully from English, German newspaper Bild described public reaction to the idea as a "shitstorm."

At her party's final campaign rally on Saturday, Merkel joined in, slamming the Green proposal.

"You will never hear from the Christian Democratic Union party when you should eat meat and when you shouldn't," Merkel said to loud applause from her supporters and campaign workers in the Tempodrom theater.

"I grew up in a Christian house. We didn't eat meat on Fridays. I think every restaurant should have a vegetarian dish, but we are a party confident people can manage their own lives," the German prime minister added. "We are confident people will live a reasonable life and we don't want to deprive them of this opportunity."
The old fascism told you what to think. The new fascism tells you what to have for dinner.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Choppy Seas

There be bean-counters here:
It’s costing seafaring nations, who supply the ships and aircraft for the anti-piracy patrol, over $7 billion a year to maintain these defenses. A lot of that cost is borne by the shipping companies in the form of additional security expenses for their ships and ultimately by shippers in the form of higher transportation feed. As more time passes with no pirate successes there will be a temptation to cut back on the security efforts. That’s what the pirates are waiting for and the insurance companies know from experience that this is how the world works.
Basically, all the pirates have to do is...wait for the accountants to do their work for them?

The Awesomeness Of The One

Um, okay:
“Striking a tone of disgust, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ridicules the GOP as obsessed with its loathing of President Obama and hell-bent on hurting him politically, regardless the cost. She assigns little to no blame to the president (even though Democrats privately say that’s laughable) and instead portrays him as saintly, above reproach and the victim of jealousy or something worse. After 26 years in the House, she says, ‘I haven’t seen anything like it. I haven’t seen anything like it.’ Throughout a 50-minute interview on Thursday in her second-floor Capitol office, where the late Speaker Tip O’Neill used to receive supplicants, Pelosi was sharply derisive about the scorn Republicans have for this president. …‘You know why it is. He’s brilliant, … he thinks in a strategic way in how to get something done … and he’s completely eloquent. That’s a package that they don’t like.’
Republicans are confounded by President Obama's brilliance. Yeah, that's the ticket!

The Kid Friendly Party

It's the latest example of liberal tolerance:
Allan Brauer, the communications chair for the Democratic Party of Sacramento, Calif., told an aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) on Friday that he hoped her children “die from debilitating, painful and incurable diseases.”

Brauer’s twitter bio says his tweets are “my own, not on behalf of any organization with which I work.”
You can get in trouble for articulating what your fellow lefties are actually thinking...

Paper Revolution

Some things you just can't live without:
A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.
Critics of President Nicolas Maduro say the nagging shortages of products ranging from bathroom tissue to milk are a sign his socialist government's rigid price and currency controls are failing. They have also used the situation to poke fun at his administration on social media networks.
A national agency called Sundecop, which enforces price controls, said in a statement it would occupy one of the factories belonging to paper producer Manpa for 15 days, adding that National Guard troops would "safeguard" the facility.
"The action in the producer of toilet paper, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers responds to the state's obligation to ensure a steady supply of basic goods for the people," Sundecop said, adding it had observed "the violation of the right" to access such products.
The Revolution will not be denied...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

None For Us

Federal workers aren't fans of Obamacare:
A new survey of 2,500 federal employees and retirees found that 92.3 percent believe federal workers should keep their current health insurance and not be forced into ObamaCare. Only 2.9 percent say they should become part of the new health insurance exchanges.


To put it simply: Federal employees and retires almost unanimously prefer to stay in their generous taxpayer-funded health insurance program, known as the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP), rather than being dumped into liberalism’s two greatest monuments to government-run health insurance, ObamaCare and Medicare.
Obamacare for thee, not for me...

Strange Concepts

"What is this income inequality of which you speak?"
What was particularly interesting was using this tool to isolate some of the most super-wealthy regions of the United States. Since rising income inequality is such a profound issue, finding the counties that benefitted the most from it is an interesting task. The result was striking, and goes to explain a long way why the folks in Washington D.C. don't seem to care about this issue — mostly, because they seem to have no concept of it.
Which might explain why they seem to have so much trouble understanding how spending works...

Lowering The Alarm

The reports of a climate change apocalypse may have been greatly exaggerated:
The big news is that, for the first time since these reports started coming out in 1990, the new one dials back the alarm. It states that the temperature rise we can expect as a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide is lower than the IPPC thought in 2007. Admittedly, the change is small, and because of changing definitions, it is not easy to compare the two reports, but retreat it is. It is significant because it points to the very real possibility that, over the next several generations, the overall effect of climate change will be positive for humankind and the planet.
We can be part of the solution, not the problem...

No Boys' Town

How to end the War on Boys:
This gap in education engagement has dire economic consequences for boys. . . . Young men in Great Britain, Australia, and Canada have also fallen behind. But in stark contrast to the United States, these countries are energetically, even desperately, looking for ways to help boys improve. Why? They view widespread male underachievement as a national threat: A country with too many languishing males risks losing its economic edge. So these nations have established dozens of boy-focused commissions, task forces, and working groups. Using evidence and not ideology as their guide, officials in these countries don’t hesitate to recommend sex-specific solutions.
Creating an unequal underclass isn't healthy for society...


The GOP seems to be making a comeback:
Republicans are now rated higher than Democrats on handling the economy and foreign policy, and the GOP's lead has strengthened on several other issues, including dealing with the federal deficit and ensuring a strong national defense.
Hopefully they won't blow their chances this time...

Arm Benders

There were tough guys in those times:
“We started arguing about who won the Cold War,” Rohrabacher told a local radio station about the vaguely symbolic dustup. ”We decided to settle it the way men do when they had too much to drink in the pub. So we got down to these arm-wrestling matches.” Though America clearly won the Cold War, Rohrabacher did not fare as well in the arm-wrestling match, held in the early 1990s at the Irish Times pub in Washington, D.C. before Putin became Russian president/dictator/king or whatever he is. “I ended up being paired off with Putin. He’s a little guy. But boy, I tell you, he put me down in a millisecond. He is tough. His muscles are just unbelievable,” Rohrabacher said.
These days, Putin seems to be winning battles of wits against unarmed individuals in the current administration...

Labor Pains

Sorry, unions-no subsidies for you:
Low-income workers on union health plans are not eligible for the same federal subsidies available to those who buy insurance in the new state health care marketplaces, the White House said Friday. The decision is a disappointment for labor unions, coming shortly after top union officials met for more than an hour with President Barack Obama to press their case that subsidies could be extended to union-sponsored plans. Labor leaders have complained for months that without the subsidies, the Affordable Care Act would drive up the cost of some union plans, leading employers to drop coverage and jeopardizing health coverage for millions of union members. The White House cited a Treasury Department letter saying there is no legal way for union members in multiemployer group health plans to receive subsidies. In a statement, the White House said it would work with unions and encourage them to offer their multiemployer plans "through the marketplace, on an equal footing, to create new, high-quality, affordable options for all Americans."
President Obama no longer has need of your services...

The Immortals

Paging Doctor Zoidberg:
In other living creatures, strands of DNA get shorter as cells replicate and die, and they eventually become too badly damaged to copy new cells. But in lobsters, telomerase prevents DNA strands from shortening, allowing perfect cells to replicate again and again, according to biologist Simon Watts, founder of The average lobster weighs under 2 pounds, but near the coast of Maine in 2009, fishermen caught a lobster that weighed 19 pounds, meaning the creature was approximately 140 years old.
If you want to know how to live forever, ask a crustacean?

Deals In Our Time

Crisis averted?
Under a “framework” agreement, international inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November, Mr. Kerry said, speaking at a news conference with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey V. Lavrov. In addition, Syria must submit a “comprehensive listing” of its chemical weapons stockpiles within a week. American and Russian officials also reached a consensus on the size of Syria’s stockpile, an essential prerequisite to any international plan to control and dismantle the weapons. “If fully implemented,” Mr. Kerry said, “this framework can provide greater protection and security to the world.” If President Bashar al-Assad of Syria fails to comply with the agreement, the issue will be referred to the United Nations Security Council.
So no war, at least for this week...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Left U-Turns

Why the liberal establishment lost three elections:
If the Colorado results showed the limits of liberal paternalism’s appeal, voters in prosperous Australia and Norway rebelled against liberal governments they perceived as incompetent and too focused on peripheral issues...


Michael Barone, the co-author of The Almanac of American Politics and an analyst of international elections, tells me that many people driven by ideology often feel elections should revolve around their concerns and reflect their priorities. “That can happen on the left or on the right,” he says. “But liberals are especially prone to not recognizing the public does care if their policies actually work in practice and are in sync with their everyday concerns.” In all three elections held in the last week — from Australia to Norway to Colorado — liberals forgot that their priorities aren’t often those of the average voter. In each case, they were punished for it.
The average voters often know more about what concerns them than those who claim to speak for them...

Exports Are A Gas

The natural gas business adds another exporter:
The Obama administration on Wednesday authorized natural gas exports from a fourth U.S. facility, unexpectedly accelerating a review process that would-be gas exporters and their allies in Congress had criticized as too slow. This speed at which the latest approval was reached – just five weeks after the previous project – puts the Department of Energy on a potential pace to rule on several more projects before year’s end. But the permits are drawing concerns from skeptics of unlimited exports who warn that the United States risks giving away the nation’s economic advantage of cheap and abundant energy. They warned that the nation is quickly approaching a threshold that could lead to a spike in natural gas prices that would harm consumers and businesses.
Considering that the skeptics were against natural gas in the first place, I'm inclined to be...skeptical.

We, The Exempt

Harry Reid on defense:
Responding to the hoopla surrounding the health insurance policies on Capitol Hill, the Nevada Democrat flatly stated Thursday, “That’s what the law says, and we’ll be part of that.” Reid said the Republicans and critics are just using the issue as a “diversion” to “try and embarrass the president.” “Let’s stop these really juvenile political games,” Reid said. “The one dealing with healthcare for Senators and Housemembers and our staff. We are going to be part of exchanges.”
Until your colleagues decide otherwise, Harry?

Google Vs. Google

Is that you, Google?
Earlier this week, Techdirt picked up on a passing mention in a Brazilian news story and a Slate article to point out that the US National Security Agency had apparently impersonated Google on at least one occasion to gather data on people. (Mother Jones subsequently pointed out Techdirt's point-out.) Brazilian site Fantastico obtained and published a document leaked by Edward Snowden, which diagrams how a "man in the middle attack" involving Google was apparently carried out. A technique commonly used by hackers, a MITM attack involves using a fake security certificate to pose as a legitimate Web service, bypass browser security settings, and then intercept data that an unsuspecting person is sending to that service. Hackers could, for example, pose as a banking Web site and steal passwords. The technique is particularly sly because the hackers then use the password to log in to the real banking site and then serve as a "man in the middle," receiving requests from the banking customer, passing them on to the bank site, and then returning requested info to the customer -- all the while collecting data for themselves, with neither the customer nor the bank realizing what's happening. Such attacks can be used against e-mail providers too.
So, in other words, it was pretty much like the real thing...

Wolf Man

Meet the other Obama:
Wolf is a prominent tea-party activist in the state and nationally who has made several media appearances, such as on Fox News as well as penning columns in the Washington Times. Last month, he sent an e-mail to Republican activists in the state asking if they wanted more senators in the mold of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, according to Politico. He also criticized Roberts’s record and his time in Congress. “It’s time for the patriots to save America from our failed political class,” he wrote in the e-mail. Obama and Wolf are related through Thomas Creekmore McCurry, who is the the president’s great-great-grandfather and Wolf’s great-grandfather.
I wonder if President Obama considers him the black sheep of the family...

Mock Soup

Mocking John Kerry overseas:
Secretary of State John Kerry's negotiations with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov got off to a rocky start Thursday, with the Russian mocking Kerry right at the outset. "They got off to a really bad start yesterday --- partly because of the Putin op-ed and partly because Kerry in the opening remarks spoke at length --- and I mean at length --- compared to the unprepared few welcoming comments from the Russian counterpart," NBC News foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell said on "Morning Joe." "And then the Russian minister said at the end, very tartly, 'Sometimes diplomacy demands silence.'"
It's kind of tough to talk anyway with your foot in your mouth all the time...

Moving In Stereo

Lower your headphones in his memory:
Ray Dolby, who pioneered noise-reducing and surround-sound audio technologies which are fundamental to the music and film industries, has died aged 80, the company which bears his name announced Thursday. Dolby had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for a number of years, and was diagnosed with acute leukemia last July, it said, adding that the Oscar-winning scientist died at home in San Francisco. "Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary," said Kevin Yeaman, President and CEO of Dolby Laboratories, the company which the young Dolby created in 1965. "Ray Dolby founded the company based on a commitment to creating value through innovation and an impassioned belief that if you invested in people and gave them the tools for success they would create great things. He added: "Ray's ideals will continue to be a source of inspiration and motivation for us all."
It's because of him that generations of kids were able to listen to everyone from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin in all their stereophonic glory. RIP.

Into The Void

Voyager leaves the nest:
The transition happened a year ago, around August 25, 2012, but scientists didn't realize it until recently, when they analyzed the vibrations made by an explosion on the sun in March of 2012, which arrived at the spacecraft in April 2013. As NASA explains, "The pitch of the oscillations helped scientists determine the density of the plasma. The particular oscillations meant the spacecraft was bathed in plasma more than 40 times denser than what they had encountered in the outer layer of the heliosphere. Density of this sort is to be expected in interstellar space."
Just so long as it doesn't come back looking for The Creator...

The Help

Say, whatever happened to journalistic integrity?
Why would anyone enamored enough with an Obama administration they want to go work for, do anything that might make a potential employer uncomfortable — you know, like actually report on ObamaCare and the economy honestly, or dig into Benghazi and the IRS? The media is left-wing and crusading enough without the potential of a cushy government job being held out as a carrot. And don’t think the Obama administration isn’t doling out these jobs for a reason. What a wonderful message to send to the world of media: Don’t go too far, don’t burn a bridge, don’t upset us too much and there just might be a lifeline off the sinking MSM ship. And obviously it is working.
Being a eunuch is good work if you can get it...

No Bain, No Gain?

A little more info on President Obama's new economic advisor that the MSM might have missed:
The appointment was leaked to the New York Times on Friday. The paper did not not mention the advisor’s controversial connection to Bain or Romney. Politico’s Playbook failed to mention the appointment entirely. On the campaign, Obama repeatedly slammed Romney’s management-consulting business, and one of his TV-ads even suggested Romney was responsible for the death of a former employee’s spouse, who passed away after a battle with cancer. The appointment of Jeff Zients is likely to annoy some union officials and some liberal groups who are focused on declining working-class wages and growing poverty, and it clashes with the populist anti-business invective used by Obama and his aides on the 2012 campaign trail to paint Romney as uncaring.
Well, as they say, that was then, this is now...

The Shield

Sorry, Nancy:
Journalists and bloggers who report news to the public will be protected from being forced to testify about their work under a media shield bill passed by a Senate committee Thursday. But the new legal protections will not extend to the controversial online website Wikileaks and others whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents … without authorization.” … Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website. “I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” she said.
A win is a win...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Walker Wins Again (And Again...)

The reforms stay:
Wisconsin’s collective bargaining reforms, which prompted strong protests from organized labor, do not violate the free speech and equal protection rights of public sector union workers, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

The reforms, passed in 2011 by Republican lawmakers, severely limit the bargaining power of public sector unions while forcing most state workers to pay more for benefits such as health insurance and pensions. They also made payment of union dues voluntary and forced unions to be recertified every year. …

The reforms, which do not apply to public safety workers, do not violate equal protection rights of workers because the government has the right to set wages and benefits for individual workers based on performance and skills, according to Conley.
In Wisconsin, this is what beating a dead horse looks like...

Brass Winds

It's a wind farm of one:
The U.S. Army has picked 17 companies that will be eligible to receive orders for wind energy under an umbrella contract valued at up to $7 billion, the Pentagon said on Monday.

The companies include many large energy producers including Dominion Energy, a unit of Dominion Resources Inc ; the U.S. unit of Spain’s Acciona SA ; Duke Energy Corp ; the U.S. unit of France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles; and the U.S. unit of Spain’s Iberdrola SA.

All the companies were awarded potential “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity” contracts that have a cumulative value of up to $7 billion, the Pentagon said in its daily digest of major contracts.
We can rest assured that the windmills will remain a vital part of our national defense...

Le Loophole

Are French footballers exempt?
The French football federation initially claimed it had received reassurances that clubs would not have to pay the tax as they were not considered "large businesses". But that was shot down by the government, which said: "The new system will apply to all businesses that pay salaries of more than one million euros (£850,000)," including football clubs.
Mr Moscovici's comments provide a fresh glimmer of hope for football clubs, although he did temper them by saying: "It will have to be a more general measure. It's not possible to do a measure for football clubs alone."
Football chiefs tentatively welcomed the comments. According to Le Figaro, an exemption could save clubs 82 million euros (£69 million), with the richest, Paris Saint Germain saving 32 million euros alone, Marseille 14.2 million euros and Lyon 12.5 million euros.
Philippe Diallo, general director of the French union of professional football clubs said: "The government appears to have heard the warning messages from French football." He told Le Figaro: "Still, we remain very cautious as these declarations are worth clarifying, as the tax rules keep changing."
Some seventy-five per centers are more equal than others...


Via My Way News:

One World Trade Center rises above the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, in New York. Ceremonies will be held Wednesday at the memorial to mark the 12th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Desperate Times

Things are tough all over:
Facing what AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka called a “crisis” of membership, officials took the dramatic step at their annual convention of adopting a resolution that invites anyone in the country to join, regardless of union affiliation.

The move faced stiff resistance from union officials who fear the AFL-CIO’s primary mission of representing workers will be left behind if the federation becomes a mouthpiece for liberal and progressive groups.
Despite the resistance, the resolution was adopted without a single “nay” vote being heard in the convention hall.

Supporters of the move to a broader membership standard said the AFL-CIO can no longer define itself by the narrow collective bargaining laws that are being challenged across the country.

“This resolution issues an invitation to every worker in the United States to join the movement for social justice,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “The freedom to choose to be part of this movement must be a freedom available to every worker.”
Unfortunately for the unions, "Social justice" doesn't pay the bills, which may be why they're having problems...

Falling Flat

Welcome to the stagnant era:

It's one thing for the glass to be half-full; it's another for it to always be that way...


Anthony Weiner's campaign ends the only way it could:
Anthony Weiner’s clownish run for mayor ended like a three-ring circus last night, as he admitted to a crushing defeat at a campaign party that ended with him flipping the bird at a reporter.
“I have to say we had the best ideas, but sadly, I was the incorrect messenger,” said Weiner, who got only 4.9 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.
The night began with yet another humiliation for “Carlos Danger” when Sydney Leathers, the porn star who sunk his campaign by exposing their secret sexting affair, showed up at the Midtown bar where he was speaking.
They never met, because the disgraced former congressman sneaked into his own event through the back door like a party crasher.
The party's over...

Rocky Mountain High

In Colorado, kicking the bums out:
The election, which came five months after the United States Senate defeated several gun restrictions, handed another loss to gun-control supporters. It also gave moderate lawmakers across the country a warning about the political risks of voting for tougher gun laws.

The recall elections ousted two Democratic state senators, John Morse and Angela Giron, and replaced them with Republicans. Both defeats were painful for Democrats – Mr. Morse’s because he had been Senate president, and Ms. Giron’s because she represented a heavily Democratic, working-class slice of southern Colorado.

In an emotional concession speech, Mr. Morse called the loss of his seat “purely symbolic” and defended the record of the last legislative session as “phenomenal.”
Legislative sessions have consequences...

Phoning It In

It was just a mistake:
In 2006, the NSA asked for and won approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, to routinely collect the dialing records of domestic phone calls. The judges, to the surprise of some outside lawyers, agreed that all of these phone records could be "relevant" to an investigation, and therefore, could be collected.

The agency insisted, however, that it would hold these records and tap into them only when it had a "reasonable and articulable suspicion" that a phone number was linked to a suspected terrorist.

But in January 2009, top officials of the intelligence agency learned that about 18,000 phone numbers were on the "alert list" that could subject them to daily monitoring. Of these, about 16,000 had not been shown to be reasonably linked to a terrorist. The agency notified the judges of the mistake and said they were making needed changes in their software that tracked phone numbers.
They were just spying on you for your own good...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Weiner Battle

The final battle:

By The Numbers

That's some clever accounting:
The Treasury reported that at the close of every single business day in August, the federal debt subject to a legal limit by Congress remained exactly $16,699,396,000,000.

That is approximately just $25 million below the legal limit on the debt that is $16,699,421,095,673.60

If the federal debt had climbed by the same $146 billion that the deficit climbed in August, it would have exceeded the legal limit by almost $146 billion.

In fact, according to the Daily Treasury Statements that the Treasury publishes at 4:00 p.m. on each business day, the debt subject to the legal limit has remained at exactly $16,699,396,000,000--or about $25 million below the legal limit--every day since May 17.

With the release of the Daily Treasury Statement for Sept. 6 (which occurred at 4:00 p.m on Sept. 9), that makes 112 days that, according to the U.S. Treasury, the debt has been stuck at $16,699,396,000,000.
It would be nice to know how they managed that...

Somebody's Watching You

Blame Bush-oh, wait:
The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.

What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.
Obama lied; the government did spy...

If You Tax It, They Can't Build

A company lays off employees due to Obamacare's device tax:

Monday, September 09, 2013

Moving Violations

No deliveries here:
The Energy Department said Friday it will lose about $42 million on a loan to a now-shuttered Michigan company that made vans for the disabled.

Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, suspended operations in February and laid off 100 workers. The company had paid back $5 million of a $50 million federal loan this spring, and the remainder of its debt was sold at auction this week to Humvee manufacturer AM General, which paid $3 million to buy the Energy Department loan.

VPG, of Allen Park, Mich., received a federal loan in 2011 under the same clean-energy program that provided a $529 million loan to electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. Fisker had received $192 million before a series of problems led U.S. officials to freeze the loan in 2011. The Obama administration has seized about $28 million from California-based Fisker, which has laid off three-fourths of its workers.
The definition of government insanity is giving money to these companies over and over again and expecting a different result...

Penalty Box

Don't forget to pay the fine:
Beginning Oct. 1, any business with at least one employee and $500,000 in annual revenue must notify all employees by letter about the Affordable Care Act’s health-care exchanges, or face up to a $100-per-day fine. The requirement applies to any business regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act, regardless of size. Going forward, letters are to be distributed to any new hires within 14 days of their starting date, according to the Department of Labor.

Earlier this summer, the employer mandate, which states that every business with at least 50 or more full-time employees must offer workers acceptable coverage or face a $2,000 penalty per-worker, per-year, was pushed back until 2015. But the Oct. 1 employee-notification deadline stands. Keith McMurdy, partner at FOX Rothschild LLP, says the $100 per-day fine has been “unfortunately overlooked” by many small businesses, and the dollar amount on the penalty comes from the general per-day penalty under the ACA.
It's the fine print that always gets you...

Between The Red Lines

Kerry's gaffe is Putin's gain:
President Obama on Monday called a Russian proposal for Syria to turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors in order to avoid a military strike a “potentially positive development,” that could represent a “significant breakthrough,” but he said he remains skeptical the Syrian government would follow through on its obligations based on its recent track record.

“Between the statements that we saw from the Russians — the statement today from the Syrians — this represents a potentially positive development,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News, according to a transcript provided by the network. “We are going to run this to ground. [Secretary of State] John Kerry will be talking to his Russian counterpart. We’re going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are.”

Hours earlier, in London, Secretary of State John F. Kerry sketched out a transfer-of-control scenario similar to the Russian proposal, then dismissed it, after being asked by a reporter whether there was anything that Assad could do to avoid an attack. “Sure, he could turn over every bit of his weapons to the international community within the next week, without delay,” Kerry said. “But he isn’t about to.”

Kerry also sparked criticism by commenting that any U.S. strike would be “an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
It's enough to make one wonder what exactly is the strategy here...

Labor's Love Lost

Big Labor isn't so comfortable with the idea of green alliances:
Union leaders told The Hill that they have questions on how the nation’s largest federation plans to include environmental and civil society organizations under the AFL-CIO banner. …

“However, to say that we are going to grow this labor movement by some kind of formal partnership, membership, status, place in this federation, I am against. This is the American Federation of Labor. We are supposed to be representing workers and workers’ interests,” [International Association of Fire Figthers (IAFF) Harold] Schaitberger said. “We are not going to be the American Federation of Progressive and Liberal Organizations.”

Others in labor, especially in the building and construction sectors, have aggressively pushed back against the proposal. Those unions have clashed repeatedly with environmental groups over building the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Does that mean we are going to turn energy policy of the AFL-CIO over to the Sierra Club? I have concern about that, as well as I should,” said Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).
It's always different when it's your constituency at risk...

Norwegian, Would

As goes Australia:
Norway's centre-right opposition was on course to seize power as votes were counted in the country’s election on Monday night, ending eight years of centre-left rule and making Erna Solberg the oil-rich country’s new prime minister.
Polls based on an initial count of postal votes on Monday night gave four centre-right parties 93 seats while the four centre-left parties received 76 seats; 85 are needed for a majority. Labour remained the largest party, with 30.2 per cent of the vote.
The results, if confirmed by formal results later in the evening, would mark a decisive rightward shift in the Nordic country of 5m inhabitants where more than a decade of oil wealth is raising questions of how to spend that money.
The Conservatives, which exit polls gave 26.2 per cent of the vote, have campaigned on investing more in Norway’s relatively poor infrastructure as well as its schools and healthcare.
They want to debate a potential break-up of the country’s $750bn oil fund – the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – as well as use money from it more for long-term investments and tax cuts. Many state-owned companies could be part-privatised.
Privatization! Oh, the horror...

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Ice Age

The ice is back:
A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent.

The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.

Instead, days before the annual autumn re-freeze is due to begin, an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores.
There's a chill wind blowing through the Climate Change Cult...

Taking The Pledge

The Pledge still stands:
The pledge, published in 1892, was first challenged on religious grounds in 1943, before the reference to God was even written in. That year, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Supreme Court ruled that students could not be compelled to salute or say the pledge in classrooms after a Jehovah's Witness refused to participate at school.
The pledge went for another decade without reference to the godhead until the early 1950s, when the Knights of Columbus began pushing at annual meetings to have the phrase added for general recitation. Lobbied by groups including the Knights, Congress passed a joint resolution in 1954 that inserted the phrase, with the approval of President Dwight Eisenhower.
"These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble," Eisenhower wrote in a 1954 letter to the Knights, thanking them for their contribution. "They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded."
The sponsors of the 1954 bill signaled their anticipation that other people might be less enthusiastic about the addition to the pledge, saying that, "A distinction must be made between the existence of a religion as an institution and a belief in the sovereignty of God."
"The phrase 'under God' recognizes only the guidance of God in our national affairs," they said.
An attorney who is representing the Massachusetts family that wants to strike the phrase said in the state's Supreme Court on Wednesday that the words, when recited in classrooms, "validates believers as good patriots and it invalidates atheists as non-believers at best and unpatriotic at worst."
Unfortunately, said attorney is also invalidating sincere nonbelievers by wasting the court's time...

Line Of Sight

I believe in the Second Amendment, but:
Private gun ownership — even hunting — by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But the practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can’t deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing,” said Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff’s office, referring to a visual disability.

Polk County officials say they’ve issued weapons permits to at least three people who can’t legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments.

And sheriffs in three other counties — Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware — say they have granted permits to residents who they believe have severe visual impairments.

“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware Sheriff John LeClere said. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.”
Yes, that could be...problematic...

Grape Nuts

Witness the strange story of one farmer's battle with the government over...raisins:
Since 1949, the government has been taking its share of their harvests under a Department of Agriculture protectionist order - Marketing Order 989 – originally designed to keep prices high and growers in business.

“It began as 25 percent and then it went to 35 percent and then the year in question, they told us, we're going to take 47% of your crop. I said you’re not taking any of it,” Horne told me as we trod softly through the avenues of sugary sweet Thompson grapes, waiting to be trimmed by seasonal Hispanic harvesters.

Reserves for agricultural products had existed before World War II. Today, apart from diamonds and oil, no other commodity is required to be placed in special stockpiles.
Can't run out of those raisins, you know...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Canadian Bacon

So this is what it takes to get Keystone approved:
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has written to President Obama to say that he is prepared to work on a joint plan between the two countries to reduce carbon emissions, in an attempt to secure approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

Harper reportedly wrote to Obama in late August, the Wall Street Journal reports, signaling his willingness to accept carbon-reduction targets proposed by the U.S. and to address concerns raised by the White House about Keystone and its impact on the environment.

The proposed Keystone XL project would carry heavy crude from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, and has triggered intense opposition from environmentalist groups concerned that it will contribute to climate change. The project is presently under review by the U.S. State Department, and will require final approval from President Obama.

Harper’s letter immediately triggered a strong reaction, with Thomas Pyle, President of the Institute for Energy Research in Washington D.C., slamming the letter in a statement as a “capitulation to the White House political machine that has unnecessarily delayed the project for almost five years.”

Pyle criticized the U.S. government too, saying: "At the end of the day, White House officials are more concerned about cutting a deal with environmental extremists than they are with the Canadian prime minister.”
Unless the Canadian PM does things the Chicago Way...

Big Blue Blues

And now, IBM:
International Business Machines Corp. plans to move about 110,000 retirees off its company-sponsored health plan and instead give them a payment to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange, in a sign that even big, well-capitalized employers aren't likely to keep providing the once-common benefits as medical costs continue to rise.

The move, which will affect all IBM retirees once they become eligible for Medicare, will relieve the technology company of the responsibility of managing retirement health-care benefits. IBM said the growing cost of care makes its current plan unsustainable without big premium increases.

IBM told retirees that its current retiree coverage will end for Medicare-eligible retirees after Dec. 31, 2013, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by IBM.

"Cost increases under our current retirement group health care plan are no longer sustainable for you," IBM said in the notices. "Health care costs under IBM's current plan options for Medicare eligible retirees will nearly triple by 2020, significantly impacting your premium and out of pocket costs," the notice said.
The number of people who were told they can keep their insurance seems to be dropping dramatically...

Hey, Abbott

Meet Australia's new PM:
Mr Abbott, 55, has long been regarded as a somewhat comical figure and was widely believed by many – including several of his party colleagues - to be unelectable. His frequent appearances in tight-fitting budgie smugglers, or swimming costumes, or in tight-fitting cycling gear only added to his image as a macho, buffoonish brawler.
Before he voted on Saturday, he expressed regret that he not been able to surf.
“You will be pleased to know I am in a suit not in budgie smugglers [swimming costumes]," he told Channel Nine. "I wish I was out in the waves. It is a nice swell for an elderly long boarder."
Despite longstanding concerns about his attitudes to women, he has pledged one of the world’s most generous parental leave schemes and has frequently appeared during the campaign alongside his two younger daughters, Frances, 22, and Bridget, 20.
Mr Abbott has vowed he will scrap Labour’s carbon and mining taxes, cut the budget deficit, reduce foreign aid, boost defence spending and take a tough stance towards asylum seekers. He wants to pay rewards to young unemployed people who find work and plans to travel to an Aboriginal community for a week each year to govern from the outback.
“We will be a no surprises, no excuses government because you are sick of nasty surprises,” he said at his campaign launch on August 25.
Hope and change, Down Under style...

Friday, September 06, 2013

Mrs. Obama's Menu

The First Lady claims credit:
Obama said when she first began her signature initiative, she couldn't imagine a time when fast-food commercials advertised for breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites. And she praised restaurants like Red Lobster and Olive Garden for offering healthy choices.

Obama also reiterated an August study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed 19 states and territories saw obesity rates decline among low-income preschoolers.

But the first lady warned there was a still a "long way to go in solving this problem."
Like the kids and schools who don't want to eat government-approved food?

Her Honor

Sandra Day O'Connor laments the decline of civics:
"The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance," O'Connor said.

That ignorance starts in the earliest years of a child's schooling, she said, but often continues all the way through college and graduate school.

O'Connor argued that learning about citizenship is just as important for American children as learning multiplication or how to write their names.

"We have to ensure that our citizens are well informed and prepared to face tough challenges," she said. "If there is a single child not learning about civics or not being exposed to what they must do as citizens, then all our lives are poorer for that."
An ignorant society is easier for politicians to exploit and control...

Bunker Mentality

When you need a place to hide:
During George W. Bush’s presidency, the White House used the Roosevelt Room, not the Situation Room, for video-conferences not related to national security issues (as well as more than a few that were). That ground-floor West Wing space had one screen, nestled in an oversized cabinet, though aides could also wheel in other video-conference devices as needed…

A White House aide told Yahoo News on Friday that the Situation Room now serves for a variety of meetings, sometimes because there are few other spaces available that have its breadth of communications capabilities. The ACA meeting pictured, for example, included more than a dozen people calling in from outside Washington to discuss setting up state-based marketplaces for insurance.
They needed someplace to circle the wagons...


The wind power industry continues to battle with other Greens:
Every year, hundreds of thousands of birds are killed when they fly into wind turbines. It’s unclear how many of them are bald and golden eagles, which are protected by federal law, but the Fish and Wildlife Service gives permits to projects with conservation plans that are nonetheless expected to unintentionally kill a small number of the eagles.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a regulation that would extend the length of those permits from five years to 30. …

Conservationists are worried that the extension would give wind farms too much of a license to kill protected birds and that researchers need to be allowed to develop better preservation methods.
But that wouldn't be in their lobbying interests...

The Equality Planners

Most women might not want equality, after all:
...there’s good reason to think that women don’t want the sort of equality envisioned by government bureaucrats, academics and many feminist advocates, one imagined strictly by the numbers with the goal of a 50-50 breakdown of men and women in C-suites, law-school dean offices, editorial boards and computer-science departments; equal earnings, equal work hours, equal assets, equal time changing diapers and doing the laundry. “A truly equal world,” Sheryl Sandberg wrote in Lean In, which is still on the best-seller lists months after its spring publication, “would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” It’s a vision of progress that can only be calculated through the spreadsheets of labor economists, demographers and activist groups.

This hints at the problem with the equality-by-the-numbers approach: it presumes women want absolute parity in all things measurable, and that the average woman wants to work as many hours as the average man, that they want to be CEOs, heads of state, surgeons and Cabinet heads just as much as men do. But a consistent majority of women, including those working full time, say they would prefer to work part time or not at all; among men, the number is 19%. And they’re not just talking; in actual practice, 27% of working women are on the job only part time, compared with 11% of men.
You can have it all-but what if you don't want to?

Artful Dodgers

Obamacare hurts artists:
Up until now professional organizations have worked with insurance providers to craft reduced-rate plans for their members. But thanks to the fine print in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), on January 1, 2014, many of these plans will fail to pass legal muster.

The College Art Association website posted a notice this month: “The New York Life Insurance Company recently informed CAA that it will no longer offer catastrophic healthcare coverage previously available to CAA members.” Why? Because it “is no longer an option” for “associations whose members reside in different states” to provide such coverage. These members will have to seek help from their home states’ newly formed Obamacare exchanges. Plans offered to Modern Language Association (MLA) members will suffer a similar fate.

Other insurance providers are reporting cancellations. The Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust (TEIGIT) website posts the following notice: “All individual and/or Sole Proprietor Health Insurance will terminate January 1, 2014. This includes plans acquired as Members of our Affiliated Associations & their groups.” Those affiliated associations include the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Dramatists Guild, the Graphic Arts Guild, NY Women in Film and Television, and many others.
You can no longer get health care for art's sake...

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Thief

Have you heard the one about the EPA employee who got caught stealing?
Over the past 12 years, John C. Beale was often away from his job as a high-level staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency. He cultivated an air of mystery and explained his lengthy absences by telling his bosses that he was doing top-secret work, including for the CIA.

For years, apparently, no one checked.

Now, Beale is charged with stealing nearly $900,000 from the EPA by receiving pay and bonuses he did not deserve. He faces up to three years in prison.

Beale, 64, who was a senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation, is expected to plead guilty at a hearing scheduled for Monday at U.S. District Court in Washington.
Corruption always floats to the top...

It's All Glitches

Maybe Bill Clinton could do something:
Technical glitches still plague the display of new healthcare plans to be offered to millions of uninsured Americans starting in 26 days, including how medical charges and deductibles are listed, industry officials say. …

Although the signing of agreements with insurers is a mere two days behind the original schedule, it led to speculation that there were serious technical snags. Late last week a conference call between the government’s information technology contractors and insurance industry representatives revealed some of those problems, which centered on how information about health plans, such as charges for medical claims and deductibles, was displayed on a “preview” website, according to people with knowledge of the call.
The real snags come later...

Fund Follies

Some groups are more equal than others:
Conservatives at the University of North Carolina say the Tar Heel student government plays favorites when it comes to doling out budgets to campus groups, and they rank somewhere below self-professed anarchists.

The College Republicans of the school's Chapel Hill campus say their request for $8,000 to fund guest speakers editor and Fox News Contributor Katie Pavlich and filmmaker Ann McElhinney got chopped to just $3,000 because the Student Congress doesn't share their politics. And the GOP students note that the governing body had no trouble finding $3,000 for self-professed anarchist group UNControllables, and even more for a hard-core feminist group.

“It's frustrating, but not entirely surprising.” Peter McClelland, chairman of the College Republicans of UNC Chapel Hill, told “We’ve seen a pattern since last year which has culminated in a 75 percent total cut in budget for conservative groups. It’s safe to say that there’s a fair amount of hostility.”
Unless, apparently, you're an anarchist...

No Hackers Near Her

Joy Reid's story continues to fall apart: Cybersecurity expert Jason McNew, who spent 12 years working for the White House and Camp Davi...