Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Week

How a college campus fights the "war on women":
The Sex Week events are sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, Student Health and Counseling Center, the Graduate and Professional Student Association, and others, Dianne Anderson, director of communications at the university, told CNSNews.com via email.

“It is a series of conversations about healthy sexual relationships for those who chose to participate. It is not a required University training and attendance is completely optional,” she added.

Sex Week is part of the Women’s Resource Center’s overall strategy to prevent sexual violence from occurring on campus,” Summer Little, Women’s Resource Center director, told the UNM Newsroom. "We are using controversial titles, and some subject matter, to bring the message to the intended audience." In response to questions from CNSNews.com, Little said, “Our purpose is to provide medically accurate sex education, and information on healthy relationships, consent, healthy communication, as well as respect within relationships.”

Little said the event is consistent with university policy, including “the unfettered flow of ideas,” “freedom of expression,” and “the exchange of diverse viewpoints,” which “may expose people to ideas some find offensive, even abhorrent.”
On with the, whatever...

Out Of Bounds

Because this is the most important problem the NFL has right now:
A law professor filed a petition with the agency earlier this month, claiming that the name "Redskins" violates federal rules barring any indecent content on broadcast television.

At a press conference Tuesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he is reviewing the filing.

"We will be dealing with that issue on the merits, and we will be responding accordingly," Wheeler said.

The FCC chief said he personally finds the term offensive and urged the team to change the name. But he didn't say whether he thinks it is illegal.

"There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used for a time that are inappropriate today," he said. "I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those."
I guess "domestic abusers" is still in play...

Bagged

Thus it begins:
Under SB270, plastic bags will be phased out of checkout counters at large grocery stores and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Target starting next summer, and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers. It allows grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags.

State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, credits the momentum for statewide legislation to the more than 100 cities and counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, that already have such bans.

The law marks a major milestone for environmental activists who have successfully pushed plastic bag bans in cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Austin and Seattle. Hawaii is also on track to have a de-facto statewide ban, with all counties approving prohibitions.

"This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself," Brown said in a signing statement. "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."
Plastic bags? Oh, the horror...

Shake The Disease

Ebola has arrived:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case diagnosed in the United States.

The patient left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. It’s the first patient to be diagnosed with this particular strain of Ebola outside of Africa.

“[The patient] had no symptoms when departing Liberia or entering this country. But four or five days later on the 24th of September, he began to develop symptoms,” said Frieden.

The patient, who was in the U.S. visiting family in Texas, initially sought care on September 26, but was sent home and was not admitted until two days later. He was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where he remains critically ill, according to Frieden.

“The next steps are basically threefold,” said Frieden. “First, to care for the patient … to provide the most effective care possible as safely as possible to keep to an absolute minimum the likelihood or possibility that anyone would become affected, and second, to maximize the chances that the patient might recover,” said Frieden.
I'm sure there's nothing to worry about...

Unlocked Room Mystery

The head of the Secret Service says she's sorry:
“It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly. I take full responsibility; what happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again,” Pierson said in her opening remarks to the committee, which addressed a security breach on Sept. 19. A 42-year-old Texas man, Omar J. Gonzalez, was able to scale the White House fenceand enter the front doors of the building, which were apparently unlocked. On Monday, CBS News reported that Gonzalez ran through the main entrance and all the way into the East Room before he was apprehended, contrary to initial reports from the Secret Service that he was caught just inside the North Portico doors.
You can't just keep relying on luck.

The Buck Gets Passed Here

President Obama's blame game wears thin:
The difference between bureaucratic incompetence and not being fully truthful with the American public is a big one. In the aftermath of scandal, it's easy to understand why the administration, when choosing between portraying the president as disconnected or dissembling, has chosen the former. But throughout his presidency, Obama has acted far from detached. In his second term, he's relied increasingly on loyalists who are less likely to push back against the president's wishes. It's hard to square a president who reportedly is micromanaging airstrikes in Syria with a president who was unaware of the growing threat from Islamic extremists, which had been increasingly trumpeted on the network news.
Sooner or later, people see the man behind the curtain...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Equally Alienated

Where do fed-up voters turn to?
From chic farmers markets in Madison to industrial Illinois, in midsize towns of Ohio, Virginia and New York, voters' sentiments match polling data that show we are in the longest state of pessimism with Washington in modern history — and we firmly believe that Washington is not only broken but that no one is fixing it.

To a person, such voters want thoughtful leaders, not ideologues; they want elected officials to work across the aisle, want their next president to be less of a celebrity or a divider and more of a bold reformer, tough on corruption and decisive on the day's big issues.
....

Voters think both parties have a ridiculous amount of nothing going on.

And therein lies the problem: This has been an election about nothing; mechanical and ideologically scripted, it has sucked the life out of the robust debate that American politics used to be, and has left voters searching for something new.
We have become Seinfeld?

Who Is Greg Orman?

Does even he know?
Orman, who entered the race in June, has surged on the strength of his pitch to fix a broken Washington without any allegiance to a political party. But now the enigma is under increasing pressure from voters to provide a clearer sense of his ideology and politics, while facing attacks from the Roberts camp over his business ties and Democratic past.

“I’ve been impressed with Greg so far, but we’re still in the ‘I’m an independent’ stage,” said Lynda Neff, 68, a retired teacher. “I’m ready to move past that and hear about some issues. . . . I will support him if he gives me a little more information.”

Perhaps the biggest test for Orman, a multi­millionaire investor who is partially funding his campaign, is surviving the intensifying public scrutiny of his business and personal relationships with Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs board member who was convicted in 2012 of insider trading and is serving a federal prison sentence.
I can see why he might not want to mention that little tidbit...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Whither Tax Cuts?

Whatever happened to tax cuts?
Though tax cuts have been a mainstay of their campaigns since at least Ronald Reagan, though the top marginal tax rate is now the highest since the 1980s, though the party could win control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in almost a decade, Republicans are barely mentioning reducing tax rates with voters.

“In a campaign, you talk about what people are interested in,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “I keep notes on all my town meetings” and “tax cuts haven’t come up.”

Some lawmakers — including ones no one would confuse for moderates — said they’re less interested in tax cuts than tax reform, a subtle distinction that has major political and policy implications.

Republicans can cut tax rates in a Tax Code overhaul, but not without making wrenching changes elsewhere, as they‘ll need to replace the revenue lost to the Treasury. That means there will be losers — lots of them — unlike, say, with George W. Bush’s tax cuts, when the main question facing Republicans was how to distribute the goodies.
Wasn't that part of the problem?

Caffeine Intelligence

What's it like to serve Starbucks at the CIA?
The baristas go through rigorous interviews and background checks and need to be escorted by agency “minders” to leave their work area. There are no frequent-customer award cards, because officials fear the data stored on the cards could be mined by marketers and fall into the wrong hands, outing secret agents.

It is one of the busiest Starbucks in the country, with a captive caffeine-craving audience of thousands of analysts and agents, economists and engineers, geographers and cartographers working on gathering intelligence and launching covert operations inside some of the most vexing and violent places around the world.

“Obviously,” one officer said, “we are caffeine-addicted personality types. ”
Even spies need their caffeine...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Manning The Legal Barricades

The person who used to be Charles Manning is suing Chuck Hagel:
The legal complaint, lodged with a US district court in Washington DC, accuses the army of repeatedly ignoring her pleas for appropriate treatment for her condition. It names as defendants: the secretary of defence Chuck Hagel, major general David Quantock of the army corrections command, and colonel Erica Nelson who commands the disciplinary barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning is held.

“Every day that goes by without appropriate treatment, [Manning] experiences escalating anxiety, distress and depression. She feels as though her body is being poisoned by testosterone,” the suit says.
Too much male inside? That might be a plus in prison...

The Color Of Journalism

What's missing in certain news reports?
If America’s reporters are so concerned about race relations in the country that such descriptions are included immediately when discussing a case where a white person is charged with injury to an African American, how is such discussion less valid when the roles are reversed? Violence takes place all the time, and the fact is that both attackers and victims cover the full spectrum of skin tones. If it’s an important question for us to ponder as a nation, are not all examples pertinent to the discussion?
Not all the time...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Goodbye Mom

No posting tonight as my mother passed away. RIP Mom 1944-2014

Kim Jong Unseen

Whatever happened to Kim Jong Un?
Kim, usually a focus of North Korean state media, has not been seen since Sept. 3, when he appeared at a concert with his wife.

This absence has sparked much speculation in the South Korean press, with many suggesting that Kim is in poor health: During the summer, North Korean state television showed him walking with a slight limp, which many had taken as a sign of a wider problem at the time. Chosun Ilbo notes that Kim appeared in the North Korean media earlier this week, but it was noted that he was "laboring on" in the heat: Perhaps a reference to fatigue, the South Korean newspaper suggests.

Wilder theories have sprung up further afield. Britain's the Daily Mirror suggests that Kim could have become ill from eating too much imported cheese. The Swiss-educated North Korean leader has developed an infatuation with Emmental cheese, the tabloid reports, and may be suffering ill health due to the weight he has since gained. The Daily Mirror provided no source for this theory.
Blame it on the cheese?

Rocky Mountain Hype

Colorado's Mark Udall is discovering that the war on women isn't working out so well:
The problem is not that the attacks on Gardner haven’t worked, Democrats say — it’s that Udall is swimming against a far tougher tide than many had initially expected, even when the party was preparing for a tough cycle.

They point in particular to President Obama’s underwater approval rating in the state, and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s own tougher than expected reelection thanks, in part, to self-inflicted wounds.

“There’s a little dissatisfaction with Obama that translates down the Democratic ticket,” admitted Mike Feeley, a former Democratic state Senate minority leader. “I think Udall is trying to overcome that.”

Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli, who’s done work for both parties, said that “for a while, the national environment turned very negative against the Democrats” — and agreed that Udall’s “war on women” attacks may be growing stale.

“I do think there is a case to be made that it has run out of impact, that it’s gotten to its marginal utility,” said Ciruli. “And now, there may be a feedback loop making fun of it.”
Feedback can hurt your ears...

Hot Tub Party Machine

No more hot tubs for you:
The grand jury charged Jeffrey Neely, who was a regional administrator for the GSA, with submitting fraudulent reimbursement claims and making false statements, said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and GSA Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge David House.

If convicted, Neely faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for each of the five charges.

Neely, 59, was infamously pictured in a hot tub during a government-funded junket in Las Vegas that cost taxpayers $823,000.
A picture is worth $250,000.00...

Animals

Why do liberals hate animals?
As horrific as de Blasio’s crime was, it pales in comparison to the carnage President Obama routinely inflicts upon the animal kingdom. His victims include: bald eagles, golden eagles, kit foxes, baby tortoises, and baby bats. Obama’s preferred methods of killing are significantly more brutal, including decapitation via wind turbine and incineration via solar panel heat laser. The mainstream media has done its best to ignore this trend, but it’s only a matter of time before the American people wake up and demand an end to the butchery.
They do have a history of this...

Iron Chef

Emeril is not a fan of Obama:
“It’s becoming a very challenging industry to become a very successful average restaurateur,” continued Lagasse. “I can’t charge $300 a person in my restaurant or I would not be in business. Am I using any different ingredients? Not really. Am I using any caliber of service staff? I don’t think so. I think our service is as good or better than most places.”

“And then you add all the Obama nonsense to what it’s become in the last several years. I don’t have anything against Mr. Obama. I’m just saying the way that, you know… the government should stay out of things. [...] Pretty soon, they’re going to wipe a lot of the middle restaurateurs and restaurant cooks. [...] If it continues, then watch: you’re going to have high-end, and you’re going to have fast food, and you’re going to have chain restaurants.”
Common sense is not on the government's menu...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"It's Working, Dammit!"

Ezra Klein insists it is. Others aren't so sure:
Obamacare has shattered virtually every major promise its supporters advanced during the public debate of 2009 and 2010. Premiums are still rising (sharply, in many cases), out-of-pocket costs are increasing, access to care is receding, millions have been unable to retain their preferred plans and physicians (with many more cancellation letters to come), the national health spending trajectory is still pointed upward, the enrollment process is still plagued by technical problems, major components of Obamacare’s less-than-secure website still aren’t built, nonpartisan experts agree that the law is harming the economy, a supermajority of Americans directly impacted by the law thus far say they’ve been hurt by it, and its overall approval rating has languished underwater by double digits for years on end. “Working.”
In Ezra Klein's world, perhaps...

What About Al?

Al Sharpton has ideas:
In a newly-released statement, Al Sharpton announced that he and his organization, the National Action Network, were “engaged in immediate conversations with the White House on deliberations over a successor whom we hope will continue in the general direction of Attorney General [Eric] Holder.”

To be clear, as he told BusinessInsider, he’s not actually picking picking the next candidate for Attorney General. “We did not say we are in the decision making,” he told them in an update. “We are in conversation to reach out to them to have meetings about what we want to see in a successor.”
What could go wrong?

Striking Green

Is the US trying to wage environmentally friendly war?
Officials said the strikes wouldn't target fixed oil fields, a precaution intended to minimize the potential for environmental damage. The U.S. instead targeted small capacity mobile refineries used by Islamic State around northeastern Raqqa province and other locations in eastern Syria, officials said.

The modular refineries produce between 300 and 500 barrels of refined oil a day, the defense department said in a statement. The military said that initial indications were that the strikes were successful. The make-shift refineries are located near the towns of Al-Mayadeen and Albukamal in the eastern oil-rich province of Deir Ezzour and in adjacent al-Hasakah province, the Defense Department said.

Islamic State uses the mobile refineries to process oil from the Syrian fields into diesel fuel. The diesel fuel is then smuggled across the border into Turkey.
Well, you can't really smuggle solar energy...

All Your Properties Are Belong To Us

Vladimir Putin is desperately looking for extra revenue:
Russian courts could get the green light to seize foreign assets on Russian territory under a draft law intended as a response to Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

The draft, which was submitted to parliament on Wednesday by a pro-Kremlin deputy, would also allow state compensation for an individual whose property is seized in foreign jurisdictions.

Italian authorities this week seized property worth about 30 million euros ($40 million) belonging to companies controlled by Arkady Rotenberg, an ally of President Vladimir Putin targeted by the U.S. and European Union sanctions.

The draft law, published on a parliamentary database, would allow for compensation for Russian citizens who suffer because of an "unlawful court act" in a foreign jurisdiction and clear the way to foreign state assets in Russia being seized, even if they are subject to international immunity.
In Russia, property owns you...

Not Our Jihad

Iran tries to shift the blame:
During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, Rouhani said, “Today’s anti-Westernism is the offspring of yesterday’s colonialism; today’s anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday’s racism,” according to a live translation. “Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of madmen who now spare no one.”

“All those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terrorist groups must acknowledge their errors, which have led to extremism,” he continued. “They need to apologize not only to the past generations, but also to the next generation.”

He also chastised Western media for identifying the Islamic State as being motivated by Islam.

“I am astonished that these murderous groups call themselves ‘Islamic,’” he said. “What is more astonishing is that the Western media in line with them repeats this false claim, which provokes the hatred of all Muslims.”
He's shocked that there are murderous groups in his establishment...

Holder Calls It Quits

Eric Holder is out:
Holder most wants to be remembered for his record on civil rights: refusing to defend a law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman; suing North Carolina and Texas over voting restrictions that disproportionately affect minorities and the elderly; launching 20 investigations of abuses by local police departments; and using his bully pulpit to lobby Congress to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Many of those sentences disproportionately hurt minority communities.

And then there's his relationship with Congress. From the day Holder's nomination was announced, Republicans led by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., signaled that he would be a political lightning rod.

The attorney general's portfolio, which spans sensitive law enforcement cases and hot-button social issues including marijuana and gay marriage, didn't help. But even longtime aides say Holder didn't do enough to help himself by shrugging off preparations and moot sessions before congressional appearances and speaking off the cuff — and obliquely.
Things hit a crisis point when the GOP-led House voted him in contempt for refusing to hand over documents about a gun trafficking scandal known as Fast and Furious. That represented the first time an attorney general had ever been rebuked that way, but still Holder held on to his job.
Not any longer. And then there were two.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Midwestern Dead

What's the matter with Kansas zombies?
State officials say the preparations needed for a fictional zombie attack are a good exercise for the natural disasters that could actually hit Kansas in the near future. The agency is calling on Kansans to devise a survival plan that they could implement in the unlikely event that a horde of zombies descends upon the Sunflower State. Five of the best entries will be highlighted during "Zombie Preparedness Day" on Oct. 25, an event that will take place in Topeka.

"If you're equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse, then you're prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire, and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces," said Devan Tucking, a Human Services Officer with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.

And Kansas isn't the only place preparing for the arrival of the living dead. In Virginia, Northern Virginia Community College is planning an event Thursday where zombie look-alikes will swarm the campus sharing tips with students about how to plan for disaster.
That'll come when they have to try and pay their tuition...

First Amendment Wilderness

Don't photograph that mountain without permission:
Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation's 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.

Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don't get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they'd allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.

"It's pretty clearly unconstitutional," said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. "They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can't."
Trees like their privacy?

War For Peace

President Obama, wartime pacifist:
The threat from the Islamic State group has already drawn Obama back into conflicts in the Middle East that he has long sought to avoid, particularly in Syria, which is mired in a bloody three-year civil war. Just months ago, the president appeared to be on track to fulfill his pledge to end the U.S.-led wars he inherited in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama sought to distinguish this current military campaign from those lengthy wars, declaring that he has no intention of sending U.S. troops to occupy foreign lands. He also pressed Middle Eastern nations to look beyond military action and take steps to reject the ideology that has spawned groups like the Islamic State and to cut off funding that has allowed that terror group and others to thrive.
"No external power can bring about a transformation of hearts and minds," Obama said in his nearly 40-minute address.
He does seem to be using a lot of it, though...

Walking While Stoned

Tony Stewart wasn't to blame:
"There is toxicology evidence in the case relating to Kevin Ward that indicates that at the time of operation he was under the influence of marijuana," Tantillo said. "The levels determined were enough to impair judgment."

Tantillo also said two videos - one from a fan, the other from the tiny track in this New York hamlet, had been examined and enhanced. Both showed Stewart did not do anything wrong and that there was no "aberrational driving."
Being a pothead at home might be one thing. On an open race track, however...

Rush To Silence

Who are the people trying to shut up Rush Limbaugh?
Information compiled by Limbaugh’s team — and first provided to The Daily Caller — demonstrates that nearly 70 percent of the tweets targeting Limbaugh’s advertisers come from the same ten Twitter users, all of whom are actively involved in the “Stop Rush” campaign, which keeps a database of all of Limbaugh’s advertisers.

While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is presenting its current anti-Rush campaign as a genuine repudiation of out-of-context remarks Limbaugh made on his radio show (replete with a fundraising email from Sandra Fluke), the Stop Rush effort is small, organized and existed long before the most recent controversial Limbaugh comments.

The activists even use technology to “machine-tweet” anti-Rush comments in robotic fashion to ensure maximum Twitter exposure for their insular group’s efforts.
They want everyone else to behave like robots, so that makes sense...

California Turnin'

Support for Obamacare is dropping-in California?
A new survey released late Tuesday found some 42 percent of state residents generally view the law favorably, while 46 percent harbor unfavorable opinions. Support is down somewhat since May, before a wave of targeted TV ads began in a handful of competitive congressional districts.

Democrats view the law positively while an overwhelming majority of Republicans (80 percent) see it unfavorably. Of the 1 in 5 Californians who say that they were aided by the law, 31 percent say that it allowed them or a family member to obtain or retain health care. Meanwhile, of the 1 in 5 who said they have been harmed by the law, more than half reported it led to higher costs while about 20 percent say it made it more difficult to get coverage.
Slowly catching up with the rest of America?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Climate Change By Decree

President Obama finally issues an executive order...on climate change:
The measures join a host of commitments Obama will announce at the summit, where more than 120 world leaders will gather on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly to galvanize support for a global climate treaty to be finalized next year in Paris. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the summit's host, is expecting leaders to come with specific pledges in hand to mitigate climate change, as a way to show they're serious about ambitious emissions reductions in the treaty.

Obama's goals at the summit: to convince other nations that the U.S. is doing its part to curb greenhouse gases, and make the case that other major polluters should step up, too.

"It's very clear to the international community that the president is extending considerable political capital at home in order to implement his climate plan, and that's true," said Nigel Purvis, a U.S. climate negotiator in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. "The hope is that when we take action, others will do so as well."
Or, maybe not...

Frat Girls

Another university makes its fraternities go co-ed:
Wesleyan follows Trinity College in Hartford, which began the transition starting in 2012, citing problems with drinking and drug use in Greek organizations. It also comes less than a month after Wesleyan closed the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house after a woman attending a party there was seriously injured after falling from a third-floor window.
But school spokeswoman Kate Carlisle said the changes are not a response to any one incident.
“This has been the subject of ongoing concern and discussion among the people in the administration, the school community, the alumni community and so forth for a number of years,” she said.
Male and female students partying together like they do anyway...what could go wrong?

Community Sentence

Dinesh D'Souza avoids jail time:
D'Souza had been lobbying for community service, though federal prosecutors didn't take kindly to his claims of persecution. "Based on the defendant's own post-plea statements, the court should reject the defendant's claims of contrition on the eve of sentencing," prosecutors wrote in a public filing where they argued D'Souza should serve 10-16 months in prison. The maximum sentence he faced was two years.

D'Souza's attorneys at Brafman & Associates in New York also argued in court documents that their client was "singled out for more vigorous prosecution." Cases the government prosecutors cite in order to convince the judge that D'Souza deserved time in prison were "disingenuous" because in each case there were "aggravating factors," such as wire fraud or political favors, the attorneys said. "The distinctions, we submit, are so significant that to cite those cases in support of a sentence parity argument requires a tortured logic," the attorneys wrote.

Conservatives had also noted that the lead prosecutor, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was appointed by Obama after he donated money to the president's 2009 inauguration. Cruz, along with fellow GOP senators Mike Lee, Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions fired off a letter to FBI director James Comey asking for clarification of the "routine investigation," while Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request in June for those details, though the conservative watchdog group says it's still awaiting a response.
But it wasn't political...

Air Wars

They told me that if I voted for Mitt Romney, we'd be at war in Syria:
American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants, known as the Islamic State. American defense officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region.

The strikes are a major turning point in President Obama’s war against the Islamic State and open up a risky new stage of the American military campaign. Until now, the administration had bombed Islamic State targets only in Iraq, and had suggested it would be weeks if not months before the start of a bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria.
Will it work? Whose side will we be on in Syria itself?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Believe!

Accentuate the positive:

Gore Gets Got

Turnabout is fair play:
Al Jazeera claims Gore, whose former Current TV network raked in more than $400 million when purchased by Al Jazeera, is improperly seeking to squeeze another $75 million from Al Jazeera.

Gore, who frequently accuses scientists who disagree with his alarmist global warming views as being motivated by money, claimed that although he and his partners received $425 million from Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera still owes another $75 million. Gore has personally netted approximately
$100 million from the sale, according to Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera claimed Current TV agreed to reimburse Al Jazeera for many of the costs Al Jazeera incurred while acquiring Current TV. Gore and trial lawyer Joel Hyatt, who were major shareholders in Current TV, asserted they are not required to pay the costs.
Maybe they can sue each other out of business...

Lois Speaks

She swears she's innocent:
Lois Lerner is toxic — and she knows it. But she refuses to recede into anonymity or beg for forgiveness for her role in the IRS tea party-targeting scandal.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lerner said in her first press interview since the scandal broke 16 months ago. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.”
Also, the dog ate her emails...

Over The Fence

Some more info on that White House fence jumper:
Federal prosecutors alleged Monday in federal court that a man who jumped a fence and ran into the White House’s unlocked front door Friday night posed a threat to President Obama and was keeping 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car, parked blocks away.

Omar Jose Gonzalez, 42, formerly of Copperas Cove, Tex., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola of the District on one charge of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.
....

The Secret Service on Saturday began a security review to learn how Gonzalez, who was carrying a Spyerdco VG10 folding knife with a 31 / 2- inch serrated blade in his pocket, was allegedly able to breach the White House doors after jumping the Pennsylvania Avenue fence and sprinting more than 70 yards across the North Lawn. It is the first time a fence-jumper has entered the White House.

Obama and his family had left the White House about 10 minutes before the incident occurred at 7:20 p.m. Friday.
Scary business, but I'm sure everything is just fine.

Green Marcher Madness

What do climate change marchers want? Even they don't seem to know:

Homeland Insecurity Blues

Working for Homeland Security isn't all it's cracked up to be:
“It’s a very dysfunctional environment, the hardest I’ve ever worked in,’’ said one former senior Obama administration DHS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal operations. “There were certainly times where you would say, ‘I just got the crap kicked out of me, and I’m making way less than I can make in the private sector.’ ’’

Surveys of employee morale show it has plunged to new lows in the past few years. According to the Partnership for Public Service’s annual “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” survey, DHS ranked dead last among large agencies last year.
Nobody seems to want to be The Man, even when they are...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are You Ready For Some Taxation?

Harry Reid and some of his friends think they've found a way to cure the NFL's ills:
Reid’s teamed up with Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) to propose taking away the NFL’s tax exemption, for as long as it promotes the Redskins name.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), himself a former Stanford football player, has a proposal that would scrap the exemption for all professional leagues, and send the proceeds to domestic violence prevention programs.

But lawmakers who have long battled the tax exemption don’t see any reason to believe Congress will act soon.

“It think it’s posturing,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has long led the fight against the NFL’s tax-exemption, said about the new bills from his colleagues. “You see the NFL’s getting some negative deal, and now you jump on a bill?”

The arrest of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and a video showing former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice hitting his now-wife sparked the recent furor on Capitol Hill.

But Congress has also now skipped town for the next six weeks or so, and it’s far from guaranteed that an NFL bill would get considered in the lame-duck session after November’s election. A spokesman for Reid said it was too soon to predict how the post-election session would play out.
Punting the ball, as they say, is Washington's favorite sport, along with squirrel-hunting...

Ghosts Of Baghdad

Paranoia strikes deep:
“We know about who made Daesh,” said Bahaa al-Araji, a deputy prime minister, using an Arabic shorthand for the Islamic State on Saturday at a demonstration called by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to warn against the possible deployment of American ground troops. Mr. Sadr publicly blamed the C.I.A. for creating the Islamic State in a speech last week, and interviews suggested that most of the few thousand people at the demonstration, including dozens of members of Parliament, subscribed to the same theory. (Mr. Sadr is considered close to Iran, and the theory is popular there as well.)

When an American journalist asked Mr. Araji to clarify if he blamed the C.I.A. for the Islamic State, he retreated: “I don’t know. I am one of the poor people,” he said, speaking fluent English and quickly stepping back toward the open door of a chauffeur-driven SUV. “But we fear very much. Thank you!”
Never let a conspiracy theory go to waste...

Commie Climate

Those green marchers look awfully red:
While the protest remained peaceful, much of the “People’s Climate March” appeared to be made up of fringe elements of the political left.

Dozens of signs denouncing capitalism were spotted at the demonstration, often held by self-proclaimed socialists.

“Capitalism is destroying the planet,” a sticker on one woman’s shirt read, “We need revolution, nothing less.”
And they'll accept your donation for it...

That's Not Your Refund

If you like your tax refund, you can't keep your tax refund:
Those affected took advance payments of the premium tax credit for health insurance. Some married couples could owe $600 or $1,500 or $2,500 or even more. It might feel like a raw deal for some who are already suffocating under the escalating costs of health insurance.

"Health insurance is confusing enough, and now they're adding the complexities of the Tax Code," said Lorena Bencsik, a member of the Michigan Association of CPAs and owner of Prime Numbers in Ferndale.
If it was easy, it wouldn't be government-approved...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Burning Their Bridges

Now that Chris Christie has been exonerated, MSNBC finally abandons its obsession:
Consider that between January 8, when the story broke nationally, and January 17, CNN mentioned “Chris Christie” more than 500 times on the air. MSNBC mentioned the governor around 850 times. He merited just 300 mentions on Fox News. None of the networks had mentioned him more than 35 times from December 30 to January 7.

Even the Left grew tired of the coverage. The Daily Kos hit MSNBC for its 24-hour-a-day Christie-mania. Even Bill Maher tweaked the network, writing a Valentine’s Day message to Maddow & Co. on his blog that paid MSNBC the ultimate insult: “Look at yourself. You’re turning into Fox News. Bridgegate has become your Benghazi.”

Opting for wall-to-wall coverage of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, CNN eventually left Bridgegate behind. But MSNBC remained on the story.

Until Thursday, when sources revealed that the Bridgegate scandal was no national scandal at all. Then MSNBC became conspicuously busy covering other, no doubt urgent, news. Al Sharpton, on air when the news broke, gave nine minutes to the story. Maddow gave twelve. Matthews, Hayes, and O’Donnell apparently did not find the story worth mentioning. From 5:00 a.m. to noon on Friday morning, Chris Christie’s exoneration earned 14 total minutes of coverage on MSNBC.
Governor Christie was only news when there wasn't something there...

The Man Who Would Cheat Death

Peter Thiel wants to overcome the inevitable:
Thiel is an amiable, softly spoken man who gives the impression of thinking out loud. Questions are frequently greeted with a series of ‘ums… aahs… I think… let me put it this way…’, beginning a thought, stopping, trying another, and then another, as if he is testing the best way to be as precise as he can possibly be. ‘Hobbes said that in the state of nature life is nasty, brutish and short,’ he says. ‘And, um, I do think we want to overcome the state of nature. It is true that you can say that death is natural, but it is also natural to fight death. But if you stand up and say this is a big problem, we should do something about this, that makes people very uncomfortable, because they’ve made their peace with death. In some ways it’s a microcosm of the whole complacency of the Western world. I do think there is this danger that our society has made its peace with decline. I’d like to jolt them out of their complacency a little bit.’
Sorry, Mr. Thiel, you're as mortal as the rest of us...

An Honest Crook

One man's felon is another's candidate with job experience:
Edwin W. Edwards recently spent nine years in prison after being convicted for extorting millions of dollars in exchange for riverboat gambling licenses, and now he’s running for office.

The 87-year-old, who served four terms as Lousiana governor and four terms in Congress, is running against nine Republicans in a blood red district for a chance to claim a job in Washington, reports CNN.

Responding to those who might question sending an ex-con to represent them in D.C., Edwards said of congressmen, “People say they’re all crooks anyhow, you might as well send an experienced one.”
Given where he's already been, he could claim that as a plus...

President Who?

Obama? Never heard of him:
Much has been written this election cycle about the Democrats distancing themselves from Obama ahead of the midterm elections. Some Democratic candidates in tough races regularly emphasize their differences with the president. And Obama is persona non grata on the campaign trail (unless it’s inside private high-dollar fundraiser dinners).

If the number of times they bring him up in front of the C-SPAN cameras is a measure, the Democrats detachment from the president is even evident on Capitol Hill – where every spoken word is recorded forever, so it’s especially crucial to choose them carefully.

As my grandmother always said, “You can’t take back the spoken word.”
Especially when you can be reminded of certain policies that you used to support...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hit Machine

Digging for dirt is big business:
The risks of wading into the thorny major issues vexing the body politic are rising, while the rewards are diminishing. There’s the growing intensity of a media cycle fueled by the salacious and voyeuristic. And, while there is exponentially more information available online about politicians and anyone in public life, there are ever fewer traditional political journalists to process and report on it.

These ferocious crosscurrents are being harnessed by an increasingly robust opposition research field that has grown from an ad-hoc collection of henchman roving from campaign to campaign into a lucrative private industry that is teeming with ambitious young operatives attracted by the glamour of notching scalps.
Perhaps Don Henley said it best:

Spooked

No more spy games?
The pause in decades of espionage, which remains partially in effect, was designed to give CIA officers time to examine whether they were being careful enough and to evaluate whether spying on allies is worth running the risk of discovery, said a U.S. official who has been briefed on the situation.

Under the stand-down order, case officers in Europe largely have been forbidden from undertaking "unilateral operations" such as meeting with sources they have recruited within allied governments. Such clandestine meetings are the bedrock of spying.

CIA officers are still allowed to meet with their counterparts in the host country's intelligence service, conduct joint operations with host country services and conduct operations with the approval of the host government. Recently, unilateral operations targeting third country nationals — Russians in France, for example —were restarted. But most meetings with sources who are host nationals remain on hold, as do new recruitments.

The CIA declined to comment.
They could, but then they'd have to kill you...

Occupy Nothing

Whatever happened to Occupy Wall Street?
The latest research from YouGov shows that most Americans (55%) say that the Occupy Wall Street movement has had no impact on the country. Overall, only 18% say that it had a positive impact, while 27% say that its impact was negative. Democrats are the most likely to say its impact was positive (28%) and to say that it had no impact (58%). Most independents say that it had no impact (55%), but 30% think that it had a negative impact. Fully 41% of Republicans, however, think that the movement's impact was negative while 50% think it had no impact.
You'd think it was a bunch of white liberal upper-income college students wasting their time, or something...

Divided We Stand

I guess it's a good thing this hasn't come to a vote, yet:
Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.

Anger with President Barack Obama's handling of issues ranging from healthcare reform to the rise of Islamic State militants drives some of the feeling, with Republican respondents citing dissatisfaction with his administration as coloring their thinking.

But others said long-running Washington gridlock had prompted them to wonder if their states would be better off striking out on their own, a move no U.S. state has tried in the 150 years since the bloody Civil War that led to the end of slavery in the South.
Back then, it was North and South. Today, it seems to be Washington and everyone else...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Under The Bridge

Sorry, conspiracy theorists:
The U.S. Justice Department investigation into New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie’s role in “Bridgegate” has thus far uncovered no information he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.

The September 2013 closures — where several entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Ft. Lee were shut down causing a traffic nightmare for commuters — has been the subject of several federal and state investigations.

Federal officials caution that the investigation begun nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that after nine months authorities have uncovered no information Christie either knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes.
That sound you hear is MSNBC's head exploding...

Robot Law

What happens when you give a robot "morality?"
The so-called ‘Ethical robot’, also known as the Asimov robot, after the science fiction writer whose work inspired the film ‘I, Robot’, saved robots, acting the part of humans, from falling into a hole: but often stood by and let them trundle into the danger zone.

The experiment used robots programmed to be ‘aware’ of their surroundings, and with a separate program which instructed the robot to save lives where possible.

Despite having the time to save one out of two ‘humans’ from the 'hole', the robot failed to do so more than half of the time. In the final experiment, the robot only saved the ‘people’ 16 out of 33 times.
....

The problem isn’t - thankfully - that robots are enemies of humankind, but that the robot tried too hard to save lives. Three times out of 33, the robot manages, through a cunning series of lunges, to save BOTH. The other times, it appears as if the robot can’t decide.

“The problem is that the Asimov robot sometimes dithers,” says Winfield. “It notices one human robot, starts toward it but then almost immediately notices the other. It changes its mind. And the time lost dithering means the Asimov robot cannot prevent either robot from falling into the hole.”
Ethical logic can be a deadly thing...

A Reporter Alone

Eric Holder and Media Matters go after a reporter for actually doing his job:
To be sure, Boyle is not a reporter who is beloved by other reporters and he’s been critiqued on any number of matters that include his youthful chipmunk cheeks, his previously questionable Twitter avatar and his TV skills. But his beat was DOJ and Eric Holder and shouldn’t a reporter be commended for going after an enterprising story or two on his beat?

Even Slate‘s Dave Weigel agreed with that sentiment. “I see Media Matters giving Holder a huzzah for calling the Caller out,” he wrote in November 2011. “But calling it out for what? Are news organizations not allowed to enterprise stories by asking people whether they think someone should resign? News organizations do this all the time. The Caller’s ‘sin’ seems to be doing it with no back-up from the rest of the press.
It's tough doing other peoples' job for them...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Blame Starts Here

Is it finally time to put the blame where it belongs?
It’s true that Obama hasn’t replicated Bush’s offenses, and it’s consoling. But it isn’t exactly reason for a parade, and it doesn’t inoculate him. The culpability that lies elsewhere doesn’t relieve the responsibilities that are now his.
No matter how hard his fans wish he could avoid them...

Failing Grade

Doctors give Obamacare an F:
In their comments that were included (but kept anonymous) in the report, a number of doctors complained about the vast amount of bureaucracy that has been added to the medical profession.

In their comments that were included (but kept anonymous) in the report, a number of doctors complained about the vast amount of bureaucracy that has been added to the medical profession.

"Get government OUT of healthcare," one doctor wrote.

Another wrote, "Repeal Obamacare."

Another comment read, "I'm a Canadian physician practicing in the United States. The politicians and policy makers need to understand that government involvement in healthcare never works."
I'm sure the "experts" like Michael Moore will be happy to tell them why they're wrong...

Debbie Downers

Not everyone in her party is a fan:
The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.
A politician with her own agenda? I am shocked.

Three The Hard Way

Bob Corker doesn't like what's going on:
Kerry got into a heated exchange with Corker who said, "I want to say as I said personally, we have three senators, president, vice president, secretary of state, that are exercising terrible judgment right now. And to say that you're going to do this regardless of what we say, you're not going to ask for buy-in by the United States Senate or House of Representatives on behalf of the American people in a conflict that's going to be multiyear. Some people say a decade. Taking us into another country with a different enemy, is exercising the worst judgment possible."
There seems to be more than enough of that to go around, at that...

Questions, Questions

Why is a university asking students and faculty abiut their sex lives-and threatening to punish them if they don't answer?
Jerry Knighton, Director of the Office of Access and Equity, told Campus Reform that the mandatory course is to comply with requirements from the Office of Civil Rights to ensure that federally funded colleges are educated on Title IX. Knighton said other institutions may have different approaches.

The email also said that students can choose whether or not to answer the questions truthfully. Dr. J. David Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson, told Campus Reform that he had heard from several students who had simply made up answers to the questions.

“I don’t understand why the university has a right to mandate this as forcible information when it’s so private, it’s personal, and no one should have to give that up,” Woodard told Campus Reform in an interview. “It’s so much of a disconnect from what we know this campus to be.”
You vill answer der question...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stepping Out

Meet the power walkers:
“The type of people you find on Capitol Hill are very competitive by nature,” said Alexa Marrero, a senior aide to Upton who competes with him. (He accuses her of cheating by moving to the Hill so she could walk to work.) “You have a bunch of Type A personalities in jobs prone to keeping you behind a desk all day, so there are a lot of people who have found this as a fun way to get up.”

The competitions are changing official Washington behavior in some corners. Elected officials insist on parking far away for meetings to get in their 10,000 steps a day, the total often recommended by fitness experts and dietitians. Legislative correspondents — they are underdogs in competitions because they answer e-mails all day — are finding ways to be at their desks less. Boehner’s staff even holds meetings in the Capitol Rotunda while walking in circles, which is not meant to be a metaphor for Washington politics.
“It’s much more pleasant to walk around this beautiful building than sit in some bland conference room,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, who uses a Fitbit.
At least afterwards they can claim they're too exhausted to do anything...

Club Book

What's a Facebook for rich people like?
In screen shots, user profiles include access to activity, profile, notifications, messages, location, friends, and followers. An update box lets you tell fellow members "where you are and what you're up to."
Users will also get unlimited cloud file storage, which is "similar to paid services like Dropbox or SkyDrive (and might very well replace those services for you)," the company said, without elaborating.
Your money will also provide an ad-free environment. Members can post ads in a classified section, but the site promised to "never" display third-party advertising or promote certain products.
The perks end there, though. "Please understand that Netropolitan is NOT a concierge service," the company said. "Our Member Service Associates will not book you a charter jet, or find you tickets to a sold-out Broadway show. They exist solely to help members technically navigate and find their way around the social club."
The rich are different from the rest of us-they have their own social networks...

The Grimdark Ages

Are people tired of the same old post-apocalyptic shtick?
"Maybe people are getting a little sick of the post-apocalyptic, dark, angst-ridden, suicidal movies. There's maybe a few too many of those," Foster said Tuesday during an appearance at the Bank of America 2014 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference.

The Imax exec added that tentpoles that performed well this summer, including Guardians of the Galaxy, "had a twinkle in their eye," or were mischievous and fun.
Bring back the twinkle! Or at least that gleam...

Old Debts

The debt that doesn't end:
A]n estimated two million Americans age 60 and older … are in debt from unpaid student loans, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Its August Household Debt and Credit Report said the number of aging Americans with outstanding student loans had almost tripled from about 700,000 in 2005, whether from long-ago loans for their own educations or more recent borrowing to pay for college degrees for family members. . . . While older debtors account for a small fraction of student loan borrowers, who have accumulated nearly $1 trillion in such debt, the effect of owing a constantly ballooning amount of debt but having a fixed income can be onerous, said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
It doesn't look so good for the current generation, either...

Anti-Feminist Feminism

If you're a feminist, do you have to be a liberal one?
If feminism is about empowering women to participate in American civic and social life without regard to the ends they pursue with that power and freedom, then of course these women are feminists. The opposite of being a feminist in this sense isn't to be an anti-abortion libertarian; it is to be powerless.

But many self-described feminists today define feminism in a way that is far more ideological and includes a range of specific policy proposals. To be a feminist in this sense, you must support abortion rights through all three trimesters, favor paid family leave, back government subsidized child care, and so forth.

Which means that to be considered a feminist, you must be a liberal Democrat.
Or you're not a "real" feminist...

The Dark Side

How much could Yahoo have been fined by the Government? Check out the chart:
Yahoo’s longtime outside counsel, Marc Zwillinger, who was lead attorney in the unsuccessful fight against the government’s data demand, calculated the cost of resistance at more than $25 million after the first month and $400 million in the second month. “And practically speaking,” Zwillinger noted in a blog post published Monday afternoon, “coercive civil fines means that the government would seek increased fines, with no ceiling, until Yahoo complied.”
Maybe the government should have stuck with the Death Star...

Association By Smell

Can someone's politics be identified by their B.O.?
A new study in the American Journal of Political Science from Brown’s Rose McDermott, Harvard’s Dustin Tingley, and Penn State’s Peter K. Hatemi has found preliminary evidence that people are more attracted to the body odors of others with similar political beliefs. In the study, participants rated the attractiveness of vials of body odors obtained from “strong liberals” and “strong conservatives” on a five-point scale. The participants had no prior knowledge of which vial belonged to which partisan armpit.

Some participants had particularly strong reactions to the vials, as the paper explains:

In one particularly illustrative case, a participant asked the experimenter if she could take one of the vials home with her because she thought it was ‘the best perfume I ever smelled’; the vial was from a male who shared an ideology similar to the evaluator. She was preceded by another respondent with an ideology opposite to the person who provided the exact same sample; this participant reported that the vial had ‘gone rancid’ and suggested it needed to be replaced.
Many feel that way when the opposition is in power...

Space Race

NASA gets back into the space travel business:
The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract aims to restore an American capability to launch astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station by the end of 2017. Since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, American astronauts have been transported to space on Russian-built Soyuz vessels.

"We know that going to space is hard," said Kathy Lueders, NASA's Commercial Crew program manager, during a press conference at Kennedy Space Center. "NASA and aerospace industry have accomplished hard things in the past."

In addition to SpaceX and Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin were all in the running for the $6.8 billion contract.
And congratulations to the folks at SpaceX, for helping pave the way.

Scotland The Unready?

David Cameron pleads with Scotland to stay:

Don't Mention The Polls

is Obama an unpopular president? Not according to network news:
Media Research Center analysts reviewed every reference on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts to public opinion polls from January 1 through August 31, 2014, and from the same time period in 2006. Eight years ago, the networks aired 124 evening news reports which cited public opinion polls about either President Bush’s overall approval rating or his handling of specific policies. In 2014, those same broadcasts produced only nine reports which mentioned public opinion surveys related to President Obama.

In Bush’s case, the networks routinely highlighted his falling approval ratings to illustrate his political weakness, and regularly cited polling data showing public disapproval of policies such as the Iraq war. This year, even as President Obama has suffered his own political meltdown, the networks have spared him from such coverage.
You don't hurt the boss's feelings...

The Lonely Man

Suppose they gave a climate change summit and nobody came?
Aussie PM Tony Abbott today defended his decision not to hop on an earlier flight to America, so he could attend the UN climate conference in New York, because he has more important matters to attend to, such as running the country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they likely won’t attend the summit.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated he will not be attending.

Even Angela Merkel, President of über green Germany, will not be attending the UN climate summit
Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio is available...

Plague War

Obama declares war on Ebola:
The U.S. plan, a dramatic increase from Washington's initial response last week, won praise from aid workers and officials in the region. But health experts said it was still not enough to contain the epidemic, which is quickly growing and has caused local healthcare systems to buckle from the strain.
U.S. officials said the focus of the military deployment would be Liberia, a nation founded by freed American slaves that is the hardest hit of the countries affected by the crisis.
....

His plan calls for sending the 3,000 troops, including engineers and medical personnel, to build 17 treatment centres with 100 beds each, train thousands of healthcare workers and establish a military control centre for coordination of the relief effort, U.S. officials told reporters. The White House said the service members will not be responsible for direct patient care.
We shall fight it in the hospitals...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Game Stupidity On

Swatting comes to gaming:
Authorities say the hoax that initially targeted celebrities has now become a way for players of combat-themed video games to retaliate against opponents while thousands of spectators watch. The perpetrators can watch their hijinks unfold minute by minute in a window that shows a live video image of other players.
“It’s like creating your own episode of ‘Cops,'” said Dr. John Grohol, a research psychologist who studies online behavior, referring to the long-running reality TV show that follows officers on patrol.
The players, who are often many miles away, look up their opponent’s addresses in phone directories, sometimes using services that can find unlisted numbers. They also exploit online programs that trick 911 dispatchers into believing an emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone or address. All the while, they conceal their own identities and locations.
Cowards and losers usually do...

Mad Mechanical Men

It's the rise of the shills:
Companies from Cadillac to Maker's Mark are utilizing automatons to make us think that not only are they the brands of today, but instead are furtively grasping at the future. And to be clear, we are not talking about CGI hyper-real fiction droids like Svedka’s discontinued Fembot. These are real, bread and butter, build-me-a-Tesla-type robots. Ones that, if we are not careful, may evolve into Skynet.
Would you buy a new car from this robot?

Climate Change Is Bleeding

Real science doesn't need an actor:
Science is never settled, but the current state of “climate change” science is quite clear: There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is causing catastrophic climate change.
Yes, the “executive summary” of reports from the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change continues to sound the alarm — but the summary is written by the politicians. The scientific bulk of the report, while still tinged with improper advocacy, has all but thrown in the towel.
And the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change lists thousands of scientific papers that either debunk or cast serious doubt on the supposed “consensus” model.
Oregon-based physicist Gordon Fulks sums it up well: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.”
If it doesn't exist, they make it up. Hollywood is good at that sort of thing...

Ms. Football

Should Condi Rice lead the NFL?
Earlier this week the Washington Post carried a piece by a member of its editorial board calling for Ms Rice, 59, to take over from Mr Goodell, who has come under fire over his handling of the domestic violence scandal which has engulfed the sport.
Politicians and women’s groups were enraged by the NFL’s decision to impose what they regarded as an inadequate two match ban on Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens’ running back who knocked his fiancée out cold in the lift of a New Jersey casino.
Why should she waste her time with thugs and criminals? She's already done that as Secretary of State...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nerd Country

Are we living in a nerd world now?
An engineering degree is also no longer a requisite to using technology, as seemingly anyone today can install a printer or upload a video. Similarly, another signifier of nerd status — knowing obscure facts about favorite subjects — has also lost its currency. The total number of “Simpsons” characters or the name of a constellation is only a Wikipedia entry away.

“Growing up, pre-Internet, possession of knowledge was such an identifier,” said Dave Goetsch, a co-executive producer of “The Big Bang Theory.” “That is no longer true; the Internet flattens things out.”
It's finally cool to be uncool...

Wilderness Run

Mark Sanford just can't seem to help himself:
So now Sanford, after a hard-won partial recovery from the problems he made for himself in 2009, has created all sorts of new, and very public, problems for himself in 2014. And they are likely to continue. Sanford now has two media-savvy women mad at him; they are unlikely to remain silent.

Sanford was the butt of a million jokes during the hiking-the-Appalachian-trail affair. Now, even as he asks South Carolinians for their votes again, many will be mocking him for turning his romantic travails into a very public melodrama. And of course, Sanford has no one to blame but himself.
Sad, but all too true...

As Goes Scotland...

What hath Scotland wrought?
From Catalonia to Kurdistan to Quebec, nationalist and separatist movements in Europe and beyond are watching the Scottish independence referendum closely — sometimes more so than Britons themselves, who seem to have only just woken up to the possibility that Scotland might vote next Thursday to bring to an end a 307-year union. A curious collection of left and right, rich and poor, marginal and mainstream, these movements are united in the hope that their shared ambition for more self-determination will get a lift from an independent Scotland.
What happens in Scotland, might not stay in Scotland?

Democrats Versus Free Speech

Why are Democrats so against the First Amendment?
Democrats pushing the measure to repeal free speech pretend that it is a campaign-finance measure, but the only criteria it establishes for Congress to ban an advertisement — or a book, or a film, or a television show, or a magazine — is that money is expended in an attempt to influence a political outcome. Under those rules, the Ohio Inquisition’s successful move to ban billboards critical of an embattled Democratic congressman would have been totally acceptable under the provisions of a gutted First Amendment.
Money talks in politics-and the Democrats want to make sure that their opponents can't spend theirs against them...

Land Of The Taxed

Congratulations, liberals-America now has a worse business climate than Europe:
With the developed world's highest corporate tax rate at over 39% including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.
....

The new ranking is especially timely coming amid the campaign led by Messrs. Obama and Schumer to punish companies that move their legal domicile overseas to be able to reinvest future profits in the U.S. without paying the punitive American tax rate. If they succeed, the U.S. could fall to dead last on next year's ranking. Now there's a second-term legacy project for the President.

The new index also suggests taxation is a greater burden on business in the U.S. than in countries that American liberals have long praised as models of enlightened big government. Finland, Germany, Norway and Sweden, with their large social safety nets, all finish in the top 20 on the new ranking. The United Kingdom manages to fund socialized medicine while finishing 11 spots ahead of the U.S.

The new champion of tax competitiveness is Estonia, where—liberals may be astonished to learn—people enjoy the rule of law and even paved roads, despite reasonable tax rates.
Maybe that's the difference...

The Smell Of The Herd

Are we all just part of the crowd?
Recent studies suggest that our sensitivity to crowds is built into our perceptual system and operates in a remarkably swift and automatic way. In a 2012 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, A.C. Gallup, then at Princeton University, and colleagues looked at the crowds that gather in shopping centers and train stations.

In one study, a few ringers simply joined the crowd and stared up at a spot in the sky for 60 seconds. Then the researchers recorded and analyzed the movements of the people around them. The scientists found that within seconds hundreds of people coordinated their attention in a highly systematic way. People consistently stopped to look toward exactly the same spot as the ringers.
We are all Walkers, we just don't know it?

Green Tightwad

So where's Richard Branson's money?
The British entrepreneur famously promised to divert a share of the profits from his Virgin airlines empire to find a cleaner fuel, after a 2006 private meeting with Al Gore.

Branson went on to found a $25m Earth prize for a technology that could safely suck 1bn tons of carbon a year from the atmosphere. In 2009, he set up the Carbon War Room, an NGO which works on business solutions for climate change.

But by Klein’s estimate, Branson’s “firm commitment” of $3bn failed to materialise.

“So the sceptics might be right: Branson’s various climate adventures may indeed prove to have all been a spectacle, a Virgin production, with everyone’s favourite bearded billionaire playing the part of planetary saviour to build his brand, land on late night TV, fend off regulators, and feel good about doing bad,” Klein writes in This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs The Climate.
Sacrifice as they say, not as they do...

Myth Gun Busters

The Democrats made it up:
Democrats decided to push for a ban of what seemed like the most dangerous guns in America: assault weapons, which were presented by the media as the gun of choice for drug dealers and criminals, and which many in law enforcement wanted to get off the streets.

This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with “military-style” features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.

Handguns were used in more than 80 percent of murders each year, but gun control advocates had failed to interest enough of the public in a handgun ban. Handguns were the weapons most likely to kill you, but they were associated by the public with self-defense.
The scarier-looking the gun, the easier it was to target...

Here Come The Judges

This would explain a few things:
Democratic appointees who hear cases full time now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. When Mr. Obama took office, only one of those courts had more full-time judges nominated by a Democrat.

The shift, one of the most significant but unheralded accomplishments of the Obama era, is likely to have ramifications for how the courts decide the legality of some of the president’s most controversial actions on health care, immigration and clean air. Since today’s Congress has been a graveyard for legislative accomplishment, these judicial confirmations are likely to be among its most enduring acts.
So I guess President Obama has that going for him, at least...

Happy Town

Santa Monica wants to know how happy you are:
This week, officials will begin asking residents how involved they are in community activities, if they know who to turn to in times of crisis, if they know their neighbors, how healthy they are, how lonely they might be and how good an education they believe their kids are receiving. Then they'll examine what changes are needed to make life better.

"It's really about trying to get a much clearer understanding of who the people of Santa Monica are, what they are doing and what we can do on a local government level to help ensure people are thriving," said Julie Rusk, assistant director of community and cultural services.

Some of the other four cities that won grants are going the more traditional route. Houston, for example, plans on building a better trash-collection system.
In Santa Monica, waste is what you make of it...

The Great Whitewash Of History

Which was the party of officially sanctioned prejudice, again?
The politicians who fought for segregation in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s were uniformly Democrats like George Wallace (who won his last election in 1982, as a Democrat), Orval Faubus and Strom Thurmond (who left the Democrats when he gave up supporting segregation). Former KKK members in national life included Democratic Senator and Supreme Court Justice (appointed by FDR) Hugo Black, who sat on the Court until the 1970s, and Senator Robert Byrd, who was still in the Senate until his death in Barack Obama’s second year in office.

If you want to put these facts in some historical context, of course, we can talk about history and context. But the Democrats’ official campaign website doesn’t do that – it never apologizes to African-Americans for the party’s history of supporting slavery and segregation, and actively celebrates the last 200 years of the Party’s history as an unbroken record of virtue in which “our party has led the fight for civil rights.” The only possible justification for this is the Democrats’ confidence that their own voters are completely ignorant of history.
Which is how the Democratic leadership would prefer it...

Stand At Attention (Even If You Can't)

Kanye West displays his keen observation skills:
The setting was the Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney, Australia, and West reportedly announced, “I can’t do this song. I can’t do this show until everybody stand up… Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and shit. ‘Imma see you if you ain’t standing up, believe me, I’m very good at that.” Then came the foot-in-mouth moment. Most of the fans got up and boogied, but then West spotted a pair who’d remained in their seats, and refused to continue the show until the stood up and danced like the rest. One of the fans raised a prosthetic limb, thereby proving that she did “get special parking and shit,” to which West replied, “Okay, you fine.”

West then homed in on Fan No. 2, who was still seated. He stopped performing the tune “The Good Life” and declared, “This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song, it’s unbelievable.” The crowd was reportedly trying to clue in Kanye to his epic blunder, with the entire section making wheelchair signals with their arms. But to no avail. West sent his bulky bodyguard Pascal Duvier into the crowd to confirm that the seated fan was, in fact, in a wheelchair. When it was confirmed, West said, “He is in a wheelchair? It’s fine!”
The intelligence of Kanye West is not to be underestimated...

Oh Say Can You Party

America's national anthem, a party song?
Most elementary school classes note that the music for "The Star-Spangled Banner" came from a British drinking song. But in his well-received book, historian Marc Ferris, author of “Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America's National Anthem” (John Hopkins University Press, August 2014) gives a more sophisticated reading.

“The words of ‘To Anacreon in Heaven,’ the song that Francis Scott Key borrowed for the melody of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' is a sly 1700’s paean to drinking and sex. Though understated, the line 'I’ll instruct you, like me to entwine; The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s vine' is unambiguous,” he wrote.
Party on, Francis...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Golden Dreams

Some advice for struggling writers:
If you only write one book in your whole life, and only sell 600 copies or less, nonetheless, I assure you, I solemnly assure you, that this book will be someone’s absolutely favorite book of all time, and it will come to him on some dark day and give him sunlight, and open his eyes and fill his heart and make him see things in life even you never suspected, and will be his most precious tale, and it will live in his heart like the Book of Gold.
Be persistent, be golden...

Tax 'Em If You've Got 'Em

The health police are getting desperate:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Raising taxes on tobacco in support of the reduction of tobacco consumption is a core element of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty that entered into force in 2005 and has been endorsed by 178 Parties.”

“Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce use and save lives,” added WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Determined action on tobacco tax policy hits the industry where it hurts.”
Along with everyone else...

Civilization

Nancy Pelosi opines:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pillheads

So Planned Parenthood is now against birth control:
Now you can understand why they wouldn’t want potential customers to be free to go to CVS or Walgreens or Rite Aid instead of heading to Planned Parenthood – providing those and other services is worth a lot of taxpayer money, $540 million in FY 2012 alone. And if you don’t provide those services, you can’t bill the taxpayers for them. Planned Parenthood’s hypocrisy here is borne out of their interest in survival as an institution, an impetus for rent-seeking over access. The existing and arbitrary government barrier to over-the-counter oral contraception is a major path to how they get customers in the door, and they know it. That’s why they want to keep the government’s ban on over-the-counter birth control intact.
Don't rock the gravy train...

A War By Any Other Name

So apparently we are:
Kirby said “this is not the Iraq War” from a decade ago, “but make no mistake -- we know we are at war with ISIL in the same way we are at war and continue to be at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

The comments are a sharp turnaround from how Kerry described the military operation on Thursday. In interviews with CNN and CBS News, Kerry described it as a “very significant” and “major counterterrorism operation.” He told CBS News that “war is the wrong terminology.”
I guess Kerry didn't get the memo...

Chilling On Climate Change

So why isn't it getting warmer?
Europe’s Joint Research Center (JRC) says the hiatus in warming since 2001 is due to “a combination of a natural cooling phase, known as multidecadal variability (MDV), and a downturn of the secular warming trend.”

European Union scientists don’t know the exact what caused the “downturn of the secular warming trend,” but say “ the Earth hasn’t warmed at the same pace during the 20th century.” JRC researchers analyzed surface temperature records going back to 1850 to “separate natural variations from secular” ones.
The Church of Climate Change doesn't like secularist explanations...

Smell Ya Never

Cabbies are fuming over fumes:
For years, inspectors with the San Diego Regional Airport Authority run down their checklist for each cabbie — proof of insurance, functioning windshield wipers, adequate tire treads, good brakes. Drivers are graded pass, fail or needs fixing.

Anyone who flunks the smell test is told to change before picking up another customer.

Leaders of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego union say the litmus perpetuates a stereotype that predominantly foreign-born taxi drivers smell bad. A 2013 survey of 331 drivers by San Diego State University and Center on Policy Initiatives found 94 percent were immigrants and 65 percent were from East Africa.

Drivers wonder how inspectors determine who reeks. Driver Abel Seifu, 36, from Ethiopia, suspects they sniff inconspicuously during friendly conversations in the staging area. Airport authority spokeswoman Rebecca Bloomfield said there is "no standard process" to testing.
One odor fits all?

The Color Of War

Is the Army too white?
“The issue exists. The leadership is aware of it,” Brig. Gen. Ronald Lewis toldUSA Today on Thursday. “The leadership does have an action plan in place. And it’s complicated.”

The Army reports that only 10 percent of its active-duty officers are black, which has contributed to its dearth of black officers leading soldiers with occupational specialties in infantry, armor and artillery.

“It certainly is a problem for several reasons,” Col. Irving Smith, director of sociology at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, told USA Today. “First we are a public institution. And as a public institution we certainly have more of a responsibility to our nation than a private company to reflect it. In order to maintain their trust and confidence, the people of America need to know that the Army is not only effective but representative of them.”
I thought it was supposed to be representative of who had the best leadership ability regardless of skin color...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Citizens United Is (Finally) Dead

The FEC finally gets on board with free speech:
The leaders of the Federal Election Commission announced the agreement on Thursday. It marks the apparent end of a protracted deadlock on the panel over how to comply with the controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling, which lifted restrictions on corporate and union spending in elections.

The agreement also gets the FEC on the same page with the more recent McCutcheon decision, which overturned aggregate contribution limits for donors.

"This has been a long time coming for the commission," Chairman Lee Goodman told FoxNews.com.

Political groups have not exactly been waiting on the FEC to update its rulebook. The Citizens United decision triggered a flood of new election spending and the proliferation of so-called "super PACs."

But Goodman said that for all this time, lawyers and others who look to the FEC for guidance nevertheless have been relying on "inaccurate and unconstitutional regulations" that have remained on the books despite those rulings, causing confusion. The new agreement would roll back those outdated restrictions.

"I think today we crossed the Rubicon," he said. "It's also a good day for the Constitution."
Better late than never...

The War From Women

They're just not that into him:
Women surveyed said they disapprove of Obama by a 50 percent to 44 percent margin — nearing an all-time low in the poll. It’s almost the reverse of the 55 percent to 44 percent breakdown for Obama among female voters in 2012, according to exit polls.

His approval rating among women has slipped four percentage points from a year ago and 16 points since his second inaugural in January 2013, when his approval was 60 percent among the group.
Obama fought the war on women-and lost?

Bitter Hardball

When you've lost Chris Matthews: Without naming names, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” told a crowd at Florida’s Miami Dade College that ...