Thursday, July 31, 2014

Paying For Green

The head of the IMF wants Europeans to pay up:
"On this point, let me be crystal clear: we are generally talking about smarter taxes rather than higher taxes," Lagarde said, according to prepared remarks for the launch of the book.

She said higher energy taxes are the most efficient and simple way of dealing with environmental harm and would allow governments to stop relying on a "patchwork" of other uncoordinated policies to deal with climate change, such as subsidies for renewable energy.

Higher energy prices would prompt people to shift to cleaner fuels or more fuel-efficient vehicles on their own, Lagarde said, adding that they could also allow governments to lower other taxes on consumption or income to reduce the burden on people, or pay down more public debt.
At least she's honest about wanting to kill Europe's economy...

California Rising

Obamacare in California hasn't quite worked out so well:
The cost of health insurance for individuals skyrocketed this year in California, with some paying almost twice what they did last year, the state’s insurance commissioner said. …

For 2014, consumers purchasing individual policies paid between 22% and 88% more for health insurance than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived, Jones said Tuesday.

[State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones] said he has authorized a study of health insurance rates after receiving numerous complaints about rising costs.

“The rate increase from 2013 to 2014, on average, was significantly higher than rate increases in the past,” Jones said in a news conference in Sacramento.

The hardest-hit were young people, he said. In one region of Los Angeles County, people age 25 paid 52% more for a silver plan than they had for a similar plan the year before, while someone age 55 paid 38% more, according to a report that Jones released Tuesday.
Why does Obama hate the kids so much?

Default Lies Within

Argentina's semi-hot former soap opera star president is not happy:
Argentine stocks plummeted Thursday as the repercussions of the default began to set in, and were down 6.45 percent in afternoon trade.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner's cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, blamed the American government for the default, brought on by a US court ruling that blocked Buenos Aires from servicing its restructured debt without also paying the hedge funds in full.

"If there's a judge who's an agent of these speculative funds, if the mediator is their agent, what is this justice you're talking about? There's a responsibility of the state here, of the United States, to create the conditions for the unconditional respect of other countries' sovereignty," he told a press conference in Buenos Aires.
But whose fault is it?

King Andrew's Fall

Andrew Cuomo is in more trouble with the US Attorney's office over his in-state shenanigans:
In an escalation of the confrontation between the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the governor’s cancellation of his own anticorruption commission, Mr. Bharara has threatened to investigate the Cuomo administration for possible obstruction of justice or witness tampering.

The warning, in a sharply worded letter from Mr. Bharara’s office, came after several members of the panel issued public statements defending the governor’s handling of the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, which Mr. Cuomo created last year with promises of cleaning up corruption in state politics but shut down abruptly in March. …

At least some of those statements were prompted by calls from the governor or his emissaries, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation who were unwilling to be named for fear of reprisal.

One commissioner who received a call from an intermediary on behalf of the governor’s office said he found the call upsetting and declined to make a statement.

The letter from prosecutors, which was read to The New York Times, says, “We have reason to believe a number of commissioners recently have been contacted about the commission’s work, and some commissioners have been asked to issue public statements characterizing events and facts regarding the commission’s operation.”

“To the extent anyone attempts to influence or tamper with a witness’s recollection of events relevant to our investigation, including the recollection of a commissioner or one of the commission’s employees, we request that you advise our office immediately, as we must consider whether such actions constitute obstruction of justice or tampering with witnesses that violate federal law.”
You can't fool all of the prosecutors all of the time...

Too Warm For The Room

Climate changers versus cool temperatures:
The Climate Reality Project brought its “I’m Too Hot” trucks and offers of free ice cream to this week’s Environmental Protection Agency hearings on power-plant emissions, but the climate wasn’t cooperating.

The plan was to tout the EPA’s emissions proposal as a solution for hot weather brought on by global warming, but when the hearings began at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Denver, the temperature was a chilly 58 degrees. Plus, it was raining.

The other cities hosting the hearings Wednesday were also hit by cooler-than-usual temperatures. The high in Atlanta was forecast at 82 degrees, while it was a pleasant 70 degrees in Washington, D.C., when the hearings began at 9 a.m.
Mother Nature just doesn't seem to want to listen to its own Cult...

Organization For Inaction

What, exactly, have they done lately?
By the most important metric, the group is largely ineffective. Of the priorities above — which, according to the group’s mandate, are meant to bolster federal efforts — none has seen national legislative action. The president introduced new restrictions on carbon pollution, but that was an executive action, not legislation. Immigration reform has stalled; there hasn’t been a national minimum wage increase. All of these things are difficult, given the opposition the president faces from Republicans in Congress, but that’s the point, right? Encourage people to take action in their communities? Bottom up change and all that?

Carson sent updates from a variety of places, but most were areas that already have Democratic legislators. Los Angeles, New York, and lots of Chicago, of course. It’s clear that Sonoma County has an active OFA membership, but that’s northern California. Same with Albuquerque, New Mexico — which is represented by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). There were some events in Tennessee and Texas and the redder parts of Michigan, but most of the activity appeared to be in Democratic areas.

Among the smattering of tweets and photos and reports that Carson sent, a few activities stood out. There was a report on a day of action around climate change in late June. Another report looked at a series of events meant to build support for economic issues. There was OFA engagement in a minimum wage fight in New Mexico. And an unexpected fight over an arcane policy in California.
But hey, at least they got to wish President Obama happy birthday...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The GAO Report

Yes, they did screw up:
GAO concluded:

— Contractors were not given a coherent plan, and instead they were kept jumping around from issue to issue.

— The cost of the sign-up system ballooned from $56 million to more than $209 million from Sept. 2011 to Feb. 2014. The cost of the electronic backroom jumped from $30 million to almost $85 million.

— CMS, representing the administration, failed to follow up on how well the contractors performed. At one point the agency notified one contractor it was so dissatisfied it would start withholding payments. Then it quickly rescinded that decision.
I am shocked that they didn't think this through-or maybe they did...

Court Date

There may be no impeachment (yet) but the lawsuit goes on:
In a strict party-line 225-201 vote, Republicans approved the legislation that accuses the president of exceeding his Constitutional authority by changing how his signature health care bill was implemented. The measure does not require Senate approval.

No Democrats voted for the bill.

Democrats, including Obama, have called the suit a waste of taxpayers time and money. Some have also said it is the first step towards Republicans ultimate goal of impeaching the president, something the president’s party has used as a rallying cry to raise campaign donations in recent days.

“‘Impeachment is off the table,’ why hasn’t the speaker said that?” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said ahead of the vote.
That's strange, I thought he had...

Damaged Goods

Jesse Ventura isn't helping himself here:

Bringing The Crazy

Maybe she should have destroyed those emails, after all:

as

For The Love Of Money

Liberals like the rich:
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said the central bank's goal is "to help Main Street not Wall Street," and many liberal commentators seem convinced that she is advancing that goal. But talk to anyone on Wall Street. If they are being frank, they'll admit that the Fed's loose monetary policy has been one of the biggest contributors to their returns over the past five years. Unwittingly, it seems, liberals who support the Fed are defending policies that boost the wealth of the wealthy but do nothing to reduce inequality.
It's only inequality if it's not their share...

Incompetent Minds

The FBI is in some hot water over a lot of old cases:
U.S. officials began the inquiry after The Washington Post reported two years ago that flawed forensic evidence involving microscopic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people. Most of those defendants never were told of the problems in their cases.

The inquiry includes 2,600 convictions and 45 death-row cases from the 1980s and 1990s in which the FBI’s hair and fiber unit reported a match to a crime-scene sample before DNA testing of hair became common. The FBI had reviewed about 160 cases before it stopped, officials said.

The investigation resumed after the Justice Department’s inspector general excoriated the department and the FBI for unacceptable delays and inadequate investigation in a separate inquiry from the mid-1990s. The inspector general found in that probe that three defendants were executed and a fourth died on death row in the five years it took officials to reexamine 60 death-row convictions that were potentially tainted by agent misconduct, mostly involving the same FBI hair and fiber analysis unit now under scrutiny.
Unfortunately, the real FBI isn't always like a TV show...

Don't Be Hatin'

Well, maybe his critics have reason to:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fluke For Fluke

When in doubt, support yourself:
Liberal darling and free-birth-control advocate Sandra Fluke is her own biggest donor in her state Senate race, according to official California campaign finance reports.

Fluke donated $12,000 to her campaign and $4,826.27 in non-monetary contributions. While $16,826.27 may not sound like a lot, Fluke also loaned her campaign $100,000.
....

As a family, the Mutterperls have given Fluke $20,500. Fluke’s own family has donated $9,600 to her campaign (her mother gave one donation as Betty and one as Elizabeth).

While it’s not unusual for family members to donate to a campaign (it would be far more telling if they didn’t give), the fact that the donations, along with Fluke’s loan, accounts for 33 percent of Fluke’s fundraising is notable.

In total, Fluke has raised $416,185.28, according to disclosure forms.
Self-sufficiency, politics style...

Incompetency Test

Obama gets a failing grade:
Obama was elected in 2008 on a stated promise that he would restore competence to government. He pitched himself as the antidote to "Heck of a job, Brownie" and the Bush years, the person who would always put the most qualified candidate in every job in his Administration. That the basic functioning of government would never be in question.

Almost six years on from that election, however, Obama is faltering badly on the competence question and, in so doing, badly imperiling not only his ability to enact any sort of second term agenda but also Democrats' chances this fall. A series of events -- from the VA scandal to the ongoing border crisis to the situation in Ukraine to the NSA spying program -- have badly undermined the idea that Obama can effectively manage the government.
One could argue that the bar wasn't set very high to begin with...

No Labels No More

The curious fate of No Labels:
Like many other outside political groups, No Labels spends a disproportionate part of its budget maintaining and promoting its own organization, trying to keep its profile high while ensuring a steady flow of fundraising dollars, whose donors they keep secret, in a cluttered nonprofit environment. As part of its efforts to gain legitimacy and grow its membership, No Labels has also occasionally waded into congressional contests in ways that have raised suspicions among Democrats about the group’s own commitment to bipartisanship.

And though No Labels has positioned itself as a warrior against gridlock, an internal document obtained by Yahoo News suggests the group is banking on more political dysfunction in an attempt to find “opportunity” and relevance for itself.
In other words, No Labels now has labels...

The Big Scare

Sorry, Democrats-no impeachment for you:
"We have no plans to impeach the president; we have no future plans," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told a news conference on Tuesday. "This whole talk about impeachment has come in from the president's own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Why? Because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's election. "Listen, it's all a scam started by Democrats at the White House."
Just for the record:

You're Not Fired

They want to keep their phony-baloney jobs:
In a statement on Monday, the Senior Executives Association said it “continues to take exception to the belief that large numbers of senior executives are problem employees who are not held accountable.”

The planned legislation would allow the VA to fire or demote senior executives for “poor performance and misconduct,” according to a summary from Miller’s office. Employees would have one week to appeal the decisions, and the Merit Systems Protection Board would have to issue a ruling within three weeks.

Questions remain about whether the MSPB, which ensures fair treatment for federal workers, can handle a likely increase in appeals. The tiny agency is still digging itself out from thousands of furlough appeals that came after spending cuts last year forced many government employees to stay home without pay for several days.

“There’s no way the MSPB can process these cases within 21 days — it’s not physically possible,” said Kristin Alden, a D.C.-based attorney who specializes in federal-employment law and litigation. She added that the agency aims to issue rulings within 120 days under its own regulations.
Being unaccountable by design is no policy...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sanctioned Sales

Sanctions? What sanctions?
U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade data show that exports rose 17 percent from March through May _ the most recent months for which the data is available _ compared with the previous three months, before sanctions were imposed. The value of exports has risen in each consecutive month this year, an unusual trend in a trade relationship that historically fluctuates on a monthly basis.

Russian markets account for less than 1 percent of U.S. exports, but what the U.S. sells to Russia is largely high-tech and expensive goods, including technology and equipment for the energy sector, which faces the threat of targeted sanctions.

Robert Kahn, a senior fellow in international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the rise in exports was evidence that Russian companies were stockpiling goods with the expectation that future sanctions would prevent U.S. companies from selling to their country.
Not that they would seem to matter much...

Cat Food

Your cat, their cuisine?
Despite an official ban on eating cats, restaurants in the Southeast Asian nation still offer the forbidden meat on their menus, reports Agence France-Presse. In fact, the consumption of felines appears to be rising, prompting cat owners to fear for their pets’ safety.

“Eating cat meat is better than eating dog as the meat is more sweet, more tender than a dog,” said chef Le Ngoc Thien.
Of course, this is not unique to Vietnam, or even Asia:
This recipe for "Roast Cat as It Should Be Prepared" is from Ruperto de Nola, Libro de Cozina, 1529: Take a cat that should be plump: and cut its throat, and once it is dead cut off its head, and throw it away for this is not to be eaten; for it is said that he who eats the brains will lose his own sense and judgement. Then skin it very cleanly, and open it and clean it well; and then wrap it in a clean linen cloth and bury it in the earth where it should remain for a day and a night; then take it out and put it on a spit; and roast it over the fire, and when beginning to roast, baste it with good garlic and oil, and when you are finished basting it, beat it well with a green branch; and this should be done until it is well roasted, basting and beating; and when it is roasted carve it as if it were rabbit or kid and put it on a large plate; and take the garlic with oil mixed with good broth so that it is coarse, and pour it over the cat and you can eat it for it is a good dish.

In England in the Middle Ages, it was considered lucky to roast a cat alive on a spit before a slow fire prior to eating the first meal in a new house. Whether the cat formed part of the meal was uncertain as cat-torture was rife at the time. However, the cat was also used in medicine. An old recipe "for hym that haves the squyhansy [quinsy" begins "tak a fatte katte, flae hot wele and clene." The cat is then stuffed with hedgehog fat, resin, fenugreek, wax and other ingredients before being roast. After roasting, it's not the flesh that is consumed, but the grease that is used to anoint the patient. While not eating a cat, it certainly demonstrates a willingness to roast one.

During Britain's Industrial Revolution (late 18th to early 19th century), the Livestock Journal and Fancier's Gazette published and article called "Eating Cats in West Bromwich" (a West Midlands town close to Birmingham). Cat has also been eaten in Britain. During wartime rationing, cats found their way into "rabbit" stews/pies and hence earned themselves the nickname "roof-rabbit".
So, historically speaking, cultural attitudes and tastes literally change with time, and need...

The War On Other Women

The women against feminism that has gone off the rails:
For the most part, Women Against Feminism are quite willing to acknowledge and credit feminism’s past battles for women’s rights in the West, as well as the severe oppression women still suffer in many parts of the world. But they also say that modern Western feminism has become a divisive and sometimes hateful force, a movement that dramatically exaggerates female woes while ignoring men’s problems, stifles dissenting views, and dwells obsessively on men’s misbehavior and women’s personal wrongs. These are trends about which feminists have voiced alarm in the past — including the movement’s founding mother Betty Friedan, who tried in the 1970s to steer feminism from the path of what she called “sex/class warfare.” Friedan would have been aghast had she known that, 50 years after she began her battle, feminist energies were being spent on bashing men who commit the heinous crime of taking too much space on the subway.
Feminists in the USA do have the unique luxury of having the freedom to claim that women are oppressed when, for the most part, they're not...

Environmental Patrol

Don't disturb the crossings:
GOP lawmakers argue federal regulations intended to protect land and wildlife have become an obstacle for Customs and Borders Protection officers because they restrict their ability to drive near the border, build infrastructure or install surveillance technology.

“There is no doubt that the restrictions on accessing land along the border have made it more difficult for the Border Patrol to do their job,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who traveled to McAllen County, Texas, earlier this month to meet with officials about the surge of child migrants into the United States.

Smugglers know where agents cannot patrol or monitor, Cruz said, so they target those areas when moving people across the border.

“It seems a commonsense reform to say that the border patrol should be able to fully access and patrol the border,” he said.
Everyone else seems to be able to...

Drive Time

Destroying a hard drive:

Does Whatever A Felon Can

Spiderman gets busted:

The Right To Remain Stifled

Is surveillance intimidating those who defend us?
Journalists and lawyers face challenges—both to their ability to disseminate information and to hold the U.S. government accountable—said the report by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. The groups said the government's "massively powerful surveillance apparatus" limits and jeopardizes the privacy required by both groups.

"Journalists and their sources, as well as lawyers and their clients, are changing their behavior in ways that undermine basic rights and corrode democratic processes," it said.

The report is based on 92 interviews, including 46 with journalists, 42 with attorneys and five with current or former senior government officials.
There are creeps in both professions, but there are also good people who are trying to do their jobs. Are they being prevented from doing so?

Voter's Remorse

Well, it's too late now:
Americans are so down on President Obama at the moment that, if they could do the 2012 election all over again, they'd overwhelmingly back the former Massachusetts governor's bid. That's just one finding in a brutal CNN poll, released Sunday, which shows Romney topping Obama in a re-election rematch by a whopping nine-point margin, 53 percent to 44 percent. That's an even larger spread than CNN found in November, when a survey had Romney winning a redo 49 percent to 45 percent.
Of course, some people have been feeling this way since 2008...

Hashtag Evil

The devil's phone?
Parish priest Father Marian Rajchel from Jaroslaw, a town in south-eastern Poland, said he started getting the texts after carrying out an exorcism on a teenage girl.

But he said that the attempt to drive out the devil from the girl's soul clearly failed, and that it was now using the teenager to attack him by using mobile phone messages.

He told local media: "The author of these texts is an evil spirit who has possessed her soul."

He said that the devil and his followers were not shy about using modern technology but that in many cases their actions were not identified as being the work of evil.

He said: "Often the owners of mobile phones are not even aware that they are been used like this, however in this case it is clear."
Phone services are already evil; they don't need any help...

Bench Press

A man tries to sue the judge who was having an affair with his wife:
On Monday, the Sixth Circuit correctly (if you mean “applying the law as it currently exists,” and “incorrectly” if you mean “adopting the better policy”) held that Judge McCree is immune from a civil suit brought by a man McCree slapped with a tether and high child support payments. The man’s complaint is that while Judge McCree was coming down hard on him, Judge McCree was also coming down hard on the child’s mother — specifically sexting her from the bench and carrying on an affair that ultimately ended in an abortion. The man and his lawyer are seeking an appeal to the Supreme Court.
There went the judge...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Better Man

Hillary Clinton offers praise for...George W. Bush?
George W. Bush is very popular in Sub-Saharan Africa. Why? Because of the president's emergency program for AIDS relief. Whether you agree or disagree with a lot of what else he did — and I disagree with a lot of it — I am proud to be an American when I go to Sub-Saharan Africa and people say, ‘I want to thank President Bush and the United States for helping us fight HIV/AIDS.’
Isn't it about time somebody did?

Blogging In The Years: 1934

Gertrude Stein opines:
"I say that Hitler ought to have the peace prize," she says, "because he is removing all elements of contest and struggle from Germany. By driving out the Jews and the democratic and Left elements, he is driving out everything that conduces to activity. That means peace."

Her speech is already natural and marked by a strong feeling for the values and the niceties of words. It is the Gertrude Stein of the Toklas biography who is talking. You cannot find the faintest trace of "Tender Buttons." That is her experimental, her provocative side, and it does not appear in her everyday life.
With her it's hard to tell if she's being ironic or not...

Don't Eat The Rich

Look for the party label:
Republicans should be the party of the rich. But that also includes those who also aspire and work to become rich. The wealthy and successful build the structure for others to participate and follow the ladder upward. The government, by contrast, collects the earned rewards of others and redistributes them while building no structure for others to climb. That’s the message which voters need to be made to understand.
Success is not evil; the hypocrisy against it is.

The New Punk Rockers

Conservatives are the new rebels:
We conservatives want to tear it all down. We conservatives want to smash it up. Liberalism, I want to destroy you. We're where the action is, where the excitement is, where you can hear new music from bands you mainstream liberals have probably never heard of.

Liberals want to see themselves as punks. They aren't. They are sad conformists who frankly deserve the consequences of their inaction.
They wanna be sedated...

Enrollment Ironies

The reality of Obamacare becomes apparent:
Nationally, regulators and insurance agents are inundated with complaints, while lawmakers are considering rules to ensure consumers' access to doctors. For plans being submitted for sale next year, the federal Department of Health and Human Services said it will more closely scrutinize whether networks are adequate.

Insurers say they are simply trying to provide low-cost plans in a challenging environment. The new federal health law doesn't let them reject enrollees with health problems or charge them more just because they are sick. So they are using the few tools left to them — contracting with smaller groups of hospitals and doctors willing to accept lower reimbursements; requiring referrals for specialty care; and limiting coverage outside those networks.

"Obamacare products have lower prices than they would have if they had had (larger) commercial networks," said Robert Laszewski, an industry consultant and former insurance executive. "They're one-size-fits-all networks designed for low-income people accessing insurance for the first time."
Just a reminder for those who were expecting different:

Worker's Payday

Right to work makes workers more money:
Michigan’s per-capita personal income increased from $38,291 in 2012 (before right-to-work became law) to $39,215 in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. That increase was the ninth highest in the country. (snip)

“The dire predictions of right-to-work detractors have not come true — Michigan has been a leader in income growth since passage,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

A study released this week by Richard Vedder, a distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University and an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise Institute as well as with the Mackinac Center, found that “incomes rise following the passage of RTW laws, even after adjusting for substantial population growth that those laws also induce. RTW states tend to be vibrant and growing; non-RTW states tend to be stagnant and aging.”
Kind of like the union leadership there...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Half-Baked Sale

Schools are rebelling against government-regulated bake sales:
The pushback is not about students' taste buds, but their wallets. Food fundraisers are a crucial source of revenue for schools, state education officials say. "Tough economic times have translated into fewer resources and these fundraisers allow our schools to raise a considerable amount of money for very worthwhile education programs," the Georgia Department of Education wrote in a recent press release. "While we are concerned about the obesity epidemic, limiting food-and-beverage fundraisers at schools and school-related events is not the solution to solving it."
Money is more important than Michelle Obama's menu...

Retirement Run

Has President Obama already checked out?
Obama’s not dumb, and he’s clearly capable of marshalling an effective propaganda campaign when he wants to. So what explains this series of bad optics, which might be described by PR professionals as political malpractice?
The only thing that makes sense is that he is exhausted and, perhaps, has checked out of the job early.
When you don't care, it shows...

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Wages Of Revolt

It's time for another low-wage uprising:
"We want to talk about building leadership, power and doing whatever it takes depending on what city they're in and what the moment calls for," said Fells, adding that the ramped-up actions will be "more high profile" and could include everything from civil disobedience to intensified efforts to organize workers.

"I personally think we need to get more workers involved and shut these businesses down until they listen to us," perhaps even by occupying the restaurants, said Cherri Delisline, a 27-year-old single mother from Charleston, South Carolina, who has worked at McDonald's for 10 years and makes $7.35 an hour.

Delisline said she and her four girls live with her mother, but the family still has difficulty paying utilities and the mortgage while providing for her children. She said she has not been to a doctor in two years and does not get paid if she stays home sick.

"To have a livable wage, it's going to need to be $15 an hour," said Delisline. "We make the owners enough money that they have houses and cars and their kids are taken care of. Why don't (they) make sure I can be able to do the same for my kids and my family?"
Becuase you can be replaced...

Cell Numbers

Cell phone bans don't work:
“Our main result was that we found no evidence that the California cellphone ban decreased accidents,” Colorado University economics Professor Daniel T. Kaffine, one of the lead autors of the study, said in a statement. “This is surprising, because a lot of prior studies had shown that people who talk on cell phones, while driving, are just as impaired as people who are intoxicated.”

Along with Colorado School of Mines mathematician Bob Yu and Rand Corporation analyst Nicholas E. Burger, Kaffine looked at the six months from January 1 to June 30, 2008 as the “before” period and July 1 to December 31, 2008 as the “after period” to avoid overlap with a ban on text messaging that took effect on January 1, 2009.

The researchers looked at the average daily number of collisions, verifying that other factors such as the number of miles traveled, rainfall and gas prices did not affect the numbers. The final figures also accounted for holidays, as the numbers show accidents fell 15 percent because people drive less on those days. No matter how the numbers were analyzed, the results did not change.

“When we go to the data we just didn’t see any evidence that accidents actually declined in the six months after this ban that was put in place,” Kaffine explained.
Bad drivers are simply bad drivers...

Dollhouse Collection

I'd call this creepy:
Police have now identified the stranger behind the random gift giving and believe it was not her intention to cause alarm.
“Investigators made contact with the female adult who admitted to placing the porcelain dolls on the porch of the various residences in the community,” said the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
“Investigators have concluded that her motivation was out of goodwill and that she intended it as a kind gesture.
“There will be no further investigation of this case.”
Police initially thought the unwanted gifts may have been part of a twisted prank, but it appears the woman was just trying to get rid of her creepy collection.
Nobody likes evil dolls...

The Pipes Of PETA

PETA wants to give the people of Detroit water-for a price:
Lindsay Wright, with PETA, says that a member of the group has offered to pay one month’s water bill and provide a basket of healthy and cost-effective vegan food for 10 residents.
“We hope that by introducing people to eating vegan for this month-long pledge that it will stick with some folks and that they’ll wind up saving on the stress of dealing with some difficult health conditions and save money on health care costs in the long run,” said Wright.
“At PETA we really see this as a win-win, you know it’s going to give 10 Detroit residents in need, some immediate help, getting out from under their water bills plus it’s something that is going to be helping animals and the environment and of course there are health benefits for people who participate as well.”
Yes, the ones who die of thirst will leave more veggies for the rest...

The Right Not To Know

I'd argue otherwise:

Miracle Worker

Is this the drug that could kill Medicaid?
Sovaldi has prompted fears among insurers and state officials that the breakthrough drug, despite its benefits, could explode their budgets. And that has sparked an urgent and highly sensitive debate in Medicaid offices across the country: How far should society go to make sure the poor get the best available treatments?

“The purpose of health care and the purpose of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to provide — and now mandates — access to quality and affordable treatment,” said Ryan Clary, executive director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, a patient group partly sponsored by drugmakers. “They’re now finding that they’re not able to get cured for the condition that’d been keeping them from being in the health care system.”
Maybe that mandate is part of the problem?

A Tax Is A Tax Is A Tax

Once again, another Obamacare falsehood:
It was always obvious that the penalty for not complying with Obamacare’s individual mandate was just another surtax:

The surtax is collected by, and enforced by, the IRS.
As shown by the newly released draft Form 1040, the surtax is paid as part of normal income tax filing by taxpayers.
The individual mandate surtax was written into tax law itself by the Obamacare statute.
Revenues derived from the individual mandate surtax have always been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as tax revenue.

Famously, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the individual mandate surtax is in fact a tax. However, that does not compel conservatives to agree that Obamacare’s individual mandate is Constitutional. The same decision declared the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. Conservatives can accept that this surtax is a tax increase without accepting the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
It is what they claim it isn't...

Son Of Justin

The next Justin Bieber?
Sivan could be the next Justin Bieber. Let’s just pray he’s not, in so many ways. He has a hit song called “The Fault in Our Stars.” He wrote, produced and released it in 2013, inspired by John Green’s novel. It’s not on the movie’s soundtrack. That CD produced no breakout single. You wonder why Sivan’s song wasn’t on it. We’ll find out.
Anyway, here he is:

Faking The Internet

Buzzfeed becomes a victim if Jayson Blair Syndrome:
The instances were brought to BuzzFeed's attention by Twitter users @blippoblappo and @crushingbort, who cited six instances in which Johnson lifted passages from sites like The New York Times, Wikipedia, The Heritage Foundation and National Review Online without attribution.

“There are three serious instances of plagiarism in this post," Smith told Poynter on Friday.

Gawker's J.K. Trotter had reported Thursday on other instances flagged by the two Twitter users, including passages lifted from Yahoo Answers, Wikipedia and U.S.News & World Report without credit.

Smith called those examples "serious failures" but stopped short of calling them plagiarism.

"Benny Johnson is one of the Web’s deeply original writers, as is clear from his body of work," Smith said at the time.
If that is even his real name...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Who Wants To Vote?

First, the good news:
Currently, 45% of registered voters who plan to support the Republican in their district say they are more enthusiastic about voting than in prior congressional elections; that compares with 37% of those who plan to vote for the Democratic candidate. The GOP had a 13-point enthusiasm advantage at this point in the midterm campaign four years ago (55% to 42%) and the Democrats held a 17-point advantage eight years ago (47% to 30%).
And now, the bad:
If Democrats hold onto the majority, the Republican-run House will block them. If Republicans retake the Senate, the Democrat-run White House will block Congress. It’s the least important election in years, and obviously much less important than 2010 was.
Trying something different probably won't help the Democrats, either...

No Assembly Required

It's furniture that puts itself together:
The EPFL biorobotics lab is developing self-configurable robotics known as "Roombots," which can merge with materials and furnishings to create adaptable furniture for the home and office.
"It's a bit of a science-fiction project in my lab to create intelligent furniture which can change shape and functionality," explains lab director Auke Ijspeert. "We envisage the Roombots moving and combining to create a diversity of elements including tables and chairs." The goal is to create furniture that can be re-used in multiple ways.

Designs would consist of Roombot modules -- which resemble two dice stuck together, and contain a battery, three motors for movements and pivoting, and a wireless connection. Each module is just 22cm long and the team imagine just 10 of them could combine to build a broad range of furniture. "The Roombots would be coupled with more passive materials such as a table top or cushion to create the end results," says Ijspeert.
Your room will be assimilated-and color-coordinated...

Definitions

What's in a word?
A search for synonyms of “obstructionist” on Thesaurus.com, which cites Roget’s, reveals that the source considers several words related to conservative and right-leaning political stances to fit the definition of a “person who is cautious, moderate; an opponent of change.” Under antonyms, it lists left-leaning words.

Included in the list of obstructionist synonyms are “right-winger,” “right,” and “rightist” and ”Tory,” the British conservative party.

Other synonyms listed for obscrutionst are “traditionalist,” “conserver,” “conventionalist,” “unprogressive,” and “redneck.”
If you wanted to look up "propaganda" would it be under the liberal antonyms?

Resetting The Reset

It worked?
"What I think I demonstrate in the book, is that the reset worked," Clinton told guest host John Harwood on NPR's “On Point” on Thursday during a conversation about her new memoir, "Hard Choices." "It was an effort to try to obtain Russian cooperation on some key objectives while (Dmitry) Medvedev was president."

Clinton later said the reset "succeeded" and was meant to be "a device to try to refocus attention on the transactional efforts that we needed to get done with the Russians."

The former secretary of state – and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 – said the signing of the 2009 New START treaty, the increased sanctions on Iran and the securing of supply lines to American troops in Afghanistan were all successes that came from the reset.

But hindsight has not favored Clinton.

Russia has stepped up its aggressiveness on the world stage and the country's relations with the United States have suffered. The front cover of the latest issue of TIME Magazine even declares "Cold War II: The West is losing Putin's dangerous game."
Yeah, on second thought, not so much...

Green Revolt

Greenpeace faces its own rebellion:
NL Times reports that staff members have now penned a letter to Husting and Greenpeace director Kuni Naidoo, calling for Husting’s sacking and also urging Naidoo to "consider his position", adding that only their departure can repair the damage they have caused the environmentalist group.
The letter has spread among the group’s employees and has now been signed by almost all important campaign leaders and senior staff. Only Dutch director Sylvia Borren is missing, as she believes that dismissal is unnecessary.
Staff are also angry at Husting’s salary, believing it to be far too high. At €6,075 (£4,790/$8,170) a month, staff members say that the amount is "multiple times the average income and a lot of money for most of our supporters".
The letter adds that there is no way for the group to recover its reputation unless both Husting and Naidoo go, as keeping them on will continued to undermine their credibility.
"It will come back every time as soon as we criticize politicians or organizations. Like is actually happening now already. If Greenpeace can't do it right, who can?"
The problem is, they never could...

Bots For Tots

Hey kid, wanna get your own robot?
The government has spent $2.15 million so far for the five-year project, which is being led by Yale University. The project, “Robots Helping Kids,” will ultimately “deploy” robots into homes and schools to teach English as a second language, and encourage kids to exercise.

The project will develop a “new breed of sophisticated ‘socially assistive’ robots,” designed to help children “learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises,” according to a news release by Yale University when the grant was first announced in 2012.

“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study.
But can Johnny be programmed?

Censorship By The Book

Can the government censor book publishers?
“By failing to affirm this publisher’s constitutional right, statutory right, to disseminate a political book free from FEC conditions and regulations, we have effectively asserted regulatory jurisdiction over a book publisher,” warned Chairman Lee E. Goodman, one of three Republicans on the six-person FEC.

“That failure reveals a festering legal uncertainty and chill for the free press rights of books and book publishers to publish and disseminate political books free from government regulation,” he added.

His comments after the FEC OK'd Republican Ryan’s request to promote his new book, The Way Forward, were immediately and sharply rebuked by Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub. “No one is banning books,” she said.

Weintraub also hit Goodman for suggesting “that we are motivated by partisan bias, which is really not appreciated and untrue. I want to categorically deny that.”

The hard feelings continued after the morning session when Democrats on the commission refused to attend subsequent meetings, according to an insider.
Too busy finding books not to ban, probably...

Canada To The Rescue

It's come to this:
The Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians says the water will be carried in a convoy Thursday through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel to a rally outside Detroit City Hall around 4 p.m.
Organizer Randy Emerson says it’s a symbolic move, but one he hopes can pay dividends.
“We decided that we should bring water over to them and that way kind of embarrass the city and the state,” he said, “so that maybe they would stop shutting off the water for these people because water is a right.”
Emerson says at least a dozen vehicles will bring fifty, five- gallon jugs of water.
“The fact that the Canadians have to come over to help out Americans,” he noted, “that should embarrass the federal government, or the state government or the city of Detroit to either help out or stop these water shutoffs.”
There is no such thing as a free drop, except in Detroit...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Moore's Land

Michael Moore, man of the people?
His hit movies and best-selling books have begat a lifestyle far from most ballcap-wearing, duck-waddling denizens of Flint.

Moore and Glynn own nine properties in Michigan and New York, including a Manhattan condo that once was three apartments. CelebrityNetWorth.com pegs their wealth at $50 million.

In legal pleadings, Moore blames his wife for the expansion of the 10,000-square-foot home on Torch Lake, which has a value of $2 million.

He listed six media reports from 2011, which poked fun at the defender-of-the-poor for owning such a big house, as exhibits in the divorce case.

“He criticizes capitalism, but capitalism made him rich,” said Gary Tracy, owner of Bellaire Bait and Tackle.
A man's home is his tax shelter...

The Ukraine Proxy

Welcome to Cold War II:
President Barack Obama revealed earlier in the week that he had approved a plan to send $5 million in body armor, night vision goggles, and communications equipment to Ukraine. American financial support will also help Ukraine supply that nation’s State Border Guard Service.

The more cautious voice in the commentary class are quick to note that neither America nor Russia wants a new Cold War, and the West should be careful not to instigate one. But how is the situation in Ukraine — were two combatant parties armed and financed, to varying degrees, by Washington and Moscow — so distinct from any of the major proxy wars fought over the course of the Cold War?

While noting the absence of an ideological factor motivating the combatants, how is the present “civil war” in Ukraine markedly distinct from “civil wars” fought in Greece or Angola? Why is Ukraine, where militants are trained in Russia and sent to battlefields in Ukraine to fight American-backed indigenous militants so dissimilar from the Afghanistan experience in the 1980s?

Is it merely politically problematic to acknowledge the reality that Russia is reassembling its Soviet sphere by military means and the United States is resisting it, albeit covertly, in a similar fashion?
Don't mention the new cold war we aren't having...

He Knows All

Really?
Mr. Obama told supporters [at a Democratic fundraiser] that he doesn’t watch the news because, “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know.”

That contrasts with the explanations that the president and his aides have given from scandals in the past few years ranging from long wait times and deaths at the VA, to the IRS targeting tea party groups, to the Fast and Furious gun-running operation, and the Department of Justice spying on news reporters.
It seems to happen a lot:

Bidding War

Auction rules are for little people:
A private-equity company owned by a campaign donor to U.S. President Barack Obama won a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission that may help it bid in airwaves auctions.

Grain Management LLC may not have qualified for benefits reserved for small businesses because airwaves leases to AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. caused it to exceed the program’s income limits, the company had said in an FCC filing. The agency has adopted a waiver, an FCC spokesman, Neil Grace, said yesterday in an e-mail without providing details.

Grain Management, based in Sarasota, Florida, invests in media and communications and is controlled by David Grain, according to the company’s March 4 filing asking the FCC to waive the rule.

“Certainly there has not been a waiver like this,” Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a Georgetown University law professor, said in an interview. “The circumstances have not arisen” with the revenue of the largest wireless providers entering the picture.
I guess that depends on the circumstances in this case...

Fallen Boardwalk Empire

Atlantic City turns to junk:
Moody's Investors Service downgraded the general obligation bonds of Atlantic City, New Jersey to "junk" status on Wednesday, citing the struggling casino town's declining tax base.

The credit rating service cut the city's underlying rating to "Ba1" from "Baa2." It affects $245 million in outstanding debt.

"The downgrade to Ba1 reflects the city's significantly weakened tax base, revenue-raising ability, and broader economic outlook," Moody's said in a statement, adding that its outlook remained negative.
Whither the casinos?

Unplugged

GM drops the Chevy Volt-in Europe:
"After the eventual run-out of the current generation Ampera, we'll introduce a successor product in the electric vehicle segment," Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann said in a posting on Twitter. "Our next electric vehicle will be part of our massive product offensive — with 27 new vehicles in the 2014-2018 time frame."

Neumann didn’t give a reason for the decision or say if the poor results were a factor in scrapping the Ampera.

The Ampera is the European version of the Chevrolet Volt and was a winner of the 2012 European Car of the Year. Both the Volt and Ampera are assembled at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. GM is working on the second-generation of the Volt.

Volt sales have also struggled and never met GM's initial forecasts for sales growth.
Even Europeans don't like exploding cars...

President Vader

Lord Vader for President?
None of the 2016 hopefuls is polling higher than Darth Vader. You'll recall that Vader chopped off his son's arm and blew up an entire planet, but evidently in the eyes of the American public these are minor sins compared to Benghazi, Bridgegate and Gov. Rick Perry's hipster glasses. These numbers suggest that if "Star Wars" were real and Darth Vader decided to enter the 2016 presidential race, he'd be the immediate front-runner.
Are you ready for the Dark Side?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Disorder In The Courts

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

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

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

The Conservatarians

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Self-Importance of Being Earnest

Some anonymous sources are more equal than others:

Standards And Actual Practices

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

Not Your Father's Liberals

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

Territorial Gains

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

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

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

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

Finger Wagging Time

What was said, what is undone:

Conspiracy Country

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

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

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

Noise In The Hood

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

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

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

Crash Test

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Football, Nyet

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

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

Team Hillary

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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Quiet Sun

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

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

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

Tea Court

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 18, 2014

Run, Grandma, Run

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

Travel Tips

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

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

Not A Fan

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

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

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

Junk Food King

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

The Dead Grass Of Home

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

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

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Justice's Turn

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

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

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

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

They All Laughed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Territorial Loss

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

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

Mom, Dad, And The Kids

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

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

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

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

Obama Responds

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

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

Le Critique

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

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

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

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

The Plague Room

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

The Spy Room

Welcome to the CIA Museum:

Patted Cell

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

Joe Comes Clean

Joe Biden admits?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taking The Case

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

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

Old Man

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

Blogging In The Years: 1964

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hammer Time

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

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

Snitch Country

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Burning Rubber

Should NASCAR get tax breaks?
Industry advocates said tax advisers started telling motor sports parks that they should get the same ability to write off costs as amusement parks in the 1970s.

But about 15 years ago the Internal Revenue Service started to question whether racetracks should get the same tax treatment as amusement parks, Houser said last week, leading advocates to turn to Capitol Hill for help.

Congress eventually passed the current temporary provision in 2004, during the heat of a presidential election in which both then-President George W. Bush and then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) were competing for the votes of “NASCAR dads.”

Critics of the provision on both the left and the right acknowledge that the cost of other temporary preferences dwarfs the incentive for motor sports tracks.

Still, Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense said he didn’t buy the argument that motor sports and theme parks should be dealt with in the same way.

Ellis said the incentive subsidizes maintenance and improvements that tracks would have to do anyway, and that the chief beneficiaries of the preference are bigger companies like the ISC and the Charlotte, N.C.-based Speedway Motorsports.

“I don’t see how you can get around what it is — it’s corporate welfare,” Ellis said. “I don’t think anybody thinks of Mickey Mouse when they think of Talladega.”
This is not your father's race track...

California Split

This is apparently a thing:
A plan backed by venture capitalist Tim Draper to split California into six states has gained enough signatures to make the November 2016 ballot, the plan's backers say.

A Twitter account belonging to the nonprofit Six Californias tweeted on Monday that "#SixCalifornias will be submitting signatures in Sacramento tomorrow for placement on the November 2016 ballot. Stay tuned for coverage!"

On Tuesday, Draper told USA Today the campaign had garnered 1.3 million signatures, well over the approximately 808,000 needed.
Congress would still have to approve this, which means it has zero chance of actually happening. Still, the question will remain if California is simply too big for its own good or not.

Success Through Failure

What happened to all those uninsured that Obamacare was supposed to cover?
In February of this year, the CBO projected that Obamacare would reduce the number of uninsured by 13 million as of 2014. In April, the CBO had seen enough of the Obama administration’s skillful rollout of Obamacare to reduce that estimate to 12 million.

Now the Urban Institute finds that Obamacare has actually reduced the number of uninsured adults by 8 million since the rollout began last fall. (Gallup shows a similar number.) That’s far short of the number of newly insured that the CBO projected in April of this year, in February of this year, or in 2012 — and it’s less than half the tally the American people were told Obamacare would hit when they opposed it in 2010.

Yet Paul Krugman says that “health reform is — gasp! — working.” Only in Washington could something that fails to hit even half of its original target be considered a gasp-inducing success.
In Washington, failure is always an option...

Like Butter

The Butter Apocalypse is real: The problem began with the 2014 Russian embargo of European food items (note that 24 percent of the EU’s butt...