Saturday, December 31, 2016

Red Tape Trail

Obama has been busy:
Whilst Congress passed 211 laws over the course of the year, they had an accompanying 3,852 new federal regulations, costing billions of dollars in both implementation and losses to businesses. This was 443 more regulations than 2015.

There was also a record number of pages of red tape, with 97,110 pages printed on the 2016 Federal Register.

However the level of regulation per new law passed is still down considerably compared to 2013, when the Obama administration introduced 3659 new regulations for just 72 new laws, a record 51 pieces of regulation for every new law.
When in doubt, regulate on your way out...

The Washington Hacks

It's another fake news alert:
The Post story was titled, “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, officials say.”
The story said, “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.”

The Post published the story before being able to get comment from the two utility companies in Vermont. The Burlington Electric Department would end up putting out a statement showing the premise of The Washington Post story as being untrue.
That never stopped "real" reporters before...

The Secret Histories

The maps of the CIA:
Before the advent of satellites and other high-tech surveillance capabilities, cartographers were a valuable asset to any military or intelligence operation. Since its inception all the way through the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the CIA used cartographers to draw up specialized maps for their intelligence needs. Even today, mapmakers are invaluable to the agency, because they are able to represent demographic elements on the ground that satellites cannot discern from orbit.
Recently, the CIA declassified a cache of these historic maps from the days of its predecessor, the OSS, in the 1940s, to 2010. The collection provides a peek into the art of cartography, and more importantly, a unique view of history.
The CIA World Guidebook?

Hanging Around

He's not going anywhere:
Obama initially said earlier this year that when his presidency finally came to an end, he would like to live outside of the spotlight for a while and spend time quietly with his family. Well, that was when he thought Hillary Clinton would succeed him as president.

However, since Trump won the White House last month, Obama has sang a much different tune. In the days following the election, Obama said that he will be very involved in politics and plans to offer public criticism of Trump whenever he deems it to be necessary.
What do you do with the guy who doesn't realize he's overstayed his welcome?

Wanted: Deregulators

They're going to have their work cut out for them:
Trump created a new position in the White House for the billionaire investor to serve as a “special adviser on regulatory issues,” where he will seek to trim back rules that businesses consider unnecessary and burdensome.

"Under President Obama, America's business owners have been crippled by over $1 trillion in new regulations,” Icahn said in a statement issued by the Trump transition team. “It's time to break free of excessive regulation and let our entrepreneurs do what they do best: create jobs and support communities."
Icahn, 80, is the founder of Icahn Enterprises, and has become known over the years as an activist shareholder.

Trump, who has done deals with Icahn in the past, called him “one of the world’s great businessmen.”

“His help on the strangling regulations that our country is faced with will be invaluable,” Trump said in a statement.
President Trump is going to need it...

Online At Their Convenience

When government try to control the Web:
The biggest losses are clustered near the top, with three major contenders. Conservative estimates suggest that India lost nearly a billion dollars due to its shutdowns, while Saudi Arabia managed nearly half a billion on its own. Morocco gave up $320 million.

Even governments that didn’t wall off the entirety of the Internet still blocked access to social media in some cases, and their methods have steadily become more sophisticated. As time goes on, it grows more and more difficult for citizens to find any way around restrictions on digital information.

Olukotun would like to see “telecommunications companies [push] back on government orders, or at least document them to show what’s been happening, to at least have a paper trail.” The UN’s International Telecommunications Union could also discourage such measures by shining a light on the events as they happen.
They just don't want you to know more than they do...

Friday, December 30, 2016

SEIU Later

Another casualty of the Trump Era:
Over the three-and-a-half year battle, the SEIU was reported to have spent over $30 million in support of “Fight for $15” and to unionize low-wage workers during the campaign. After gaining the endorsement and donations of the SEIU, Democrat Hillary Clinton in August 2015 committed to signing a $15 minimum wage if elected president. Given the reported polling by the media, SEIU thought they had accomplished their national goal.

But President-elect Donald Trump’s win came as a shock to the SEIU. Bracing for lean times during and a continuing populist revolt against big government, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that according to an SEIU internal memo, the union is planning for a 30 percent budget for 2017.

Blaming the coming Republican control of all three branches of the federal government and the need for the SEIU to re-evaluate its strategy, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in the December 14 internal staff memo: “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” She warned that the union “must plan for a 30% reduction” in budget by Jan. 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut beginning January 1.
Folding ahead of schedule?

Kitchen Sink Diplomacy

Well, that didn't work:
Putin said he was already looking ahead to the incoming Trump administration -- but he vowed that Moscow would stand firm. "Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible 'kitchen' diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-U.S. relations based on the policies of the Trump administration," he said in a statement.

The Russian president described the White House actions as "unfriendly," but suggested he would take the high road. "We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year's holidays. Moreover, I invite all children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's parties in the Kremlin."
Spoiled brats can stay in Washington...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Environmental Pizza Agency

It's the war on yeast?
The proposed regulation published Wednesday would make the emissions standards for industrial yeast makers much more strict.

The EPA said beer, champagne and wine makers, all of whom use some form of yeast, are safe for now. The real targets are those who produce high levels of hazardous air pollutants. It's not the bread, bagel and pizza makers who are targeted under the rules, but the less than a dozen big plants that produce the yeast needed to produce the valuable bread-based products.

The cost of complying with the upgraded standards could be passed down to consumers. The yeast manufacturers must install a number of new monitoring technologies under the proposal to track the amount of hazardous pollutants that are being emitted to significantly control them.
You can't have your bread, and bake it, too...

Trumping Canada

The Trump Effect, Canadian style:
Leitch is ahead of about a dozen candidates in the most recent opinion polls on the Conservative leadership election, scheduled to be held on May 27, 2017. The candidate chosen by party members will be their flag bearer for the October 2019 general election, against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals.

"Elites pretend this isn't an issue, but Canadians want to talk about it (immigration)," Leitch said in an interview last week from her farmhouse in rural Ontario.

She has professed admiration for Trump's embrace of the ordinary voter, and acknowledged similarities in their agendas.

"I am talking about screening immigrants, I am talking about building pipelines, I am talking about making sure Canadians have jobs, so yeah, some of the ideas and language are the same," said Leitch, an energetic and plain-spoken former labor and women's affairs minister.

Just as Trump did not initially have the backing of mainstream Republicans, Leitch has alienated many in her party establishment who fear that she will struggle to win Canada's urban, mainly immigrant, voter base in the general election.
The Trump of the North?

This Election Not For Sale

George Soros is upset because he couldn't steal the election:
In the liberal billionaire’s view, Trump, though unable to ultimately overthrow democracy in the United States, will inspire democratic instability around the rest of the world:

I am confident that democracy will prove resilient in the US. Its Constitution and institutions, including the fourth estate, are strong enough to resist the excesses of the executive branch, thus preventing a would-be dictator from becoming an actual one.

But the US will be preoccupied with internal struggles in the near future, and targeted minorities will suffer. The US will be unable to protect and promote democracy in the rest of the world. On the contrary, Trump will have greater affinity with dictators.


Unlike previous American presidents, who have rejected dictatorial regimes, Soros predicted the president-elect “will have greater affinity with dictators,” allowing “them to reach an accommodation with the U.S., and others to carry on without interference.”

“Trump will prefer making deals to defending principles. Unfortunately, that will be popular with his core constituency,” he charged.

In mid-November, Soros held a meeting with fellow progressive donors and think tank leaders to formulate a plan to “take back power” from the imminent Trump administration.
In a Republic, you do that by voting against him, not trying to buy him...

A Tale Of Two Presidents

Can we actually have two presidents at once?
Although he has just three weeks left in office, Obama has pursued an aggressive slate of foreign policy moves, environmental rules and executive orders in an attempt to tie up the loose ends of his policy agenda before Trump can begin to dismantle it.

Meanwhile, Trump has already begun to pursue his own agenda — a course that has repeatedly brought him into direct conflict with the sitting president.

"There's no question that Trump is a unique animal, but what Obama is doing is unprecedented," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.
Refusing to go quietly?

Tiny Plastic Bubbles

The return of Bubblewrap:
Historically, the industry served mostly manufacturing and wholesale clients. But today, e-commerce is playing a much bigger role. In the last decade, retail has gone from less than 20 percent of packaging sales in the U.S. to nearly 30 percent. Freedonia forecasts that the U.S. demand for air cushions alone is up by 5.5 percent this year.

“There are a lot of reasons why air cushions are well-suited to take advantage of e-commerce,” explained Katie Wieser, an analyst at Freedonia Group. “In general, it comes down to performance. The great thing about bubble wrap and air cushions is that a lot of the stuff we buy online doesn't need a ton of protection, it just needs to stay put in the box.”

The biggest market share holder in the American protective-packaging space is Sealed Air, a company with a very literal name that has some historical origins. The company was founded in 1960 by Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, the inventors of bubble wrap. At the time, bubble wrap was invented for use as wallpaper. That trend never caught on, but the material’s use as protective packaging took off. Before bubble wrap, the most common options for cushioning goods in transit were sawdust, newspaper, and rubberized horsehair.
Plus, it's more fun to pop than a newspaper...

The Eight Armed Mind

What does the octopus know?
First, different individuals have different temperaments. Some are shy, some are bold; some are inquisitive, some aggressive. Because of this individuality, people who hang out with them, whether in the sea, at a public aquarium, or in the laboratory, tend to give them names—an honor normally reserved for mammals such as dolphins and chimpanzees. Cousteau spoke of an octopus called Octopissimus; one scientific paper I read referred to Albert, Bertram, and Charles.

Second, some octopuses will engage with you. They might reach out an arm and touch your hand. They will investigate an object you present to them, giving every impression of thinking about it as they do so. All the while, they will appear to watch you with their large, mobile eyes. Again, these are behaviors we associate with dolphins and dogs—but not with, say, fish, let alone animals such as sea urchins or clams.
It knows more than you think?

Don't Quote It

Whatever happened to quotes?
Major periodicals have fallen prey, including those with a long and continuing print edition. Not long ago, Rolling Stone had straight quotes in its news-item previews, but educated them for features; the “smart” quotes later returned. Fast Company opts generally for all “dumb” quotes online, while the newborn digital publication The Outline recently mixed straight and typographic in the same line of text at its launch. Even the fine publication you’re currently reading has occasionally neglected to crook its pinky.

This baffles Matthew Carter, a type designer whose work spans everything from metal type’s last stand to digital’s first, and whose dozens of typefaces, like Verdana and Georgia, are viewed daily by a billion-odd people. “I have no idea why people don’t use proper quotes. They are always [included] in the font,” Carter says.
The lost art of quotation?

The Thing Under The Ice

Not saying it's aliens but it's aliens:
It stretches for a distance of 151 miles across and has a maximum depth of about 848 metres.

Some researchers believe it is the remains of a truly massive asteroid which was more than twice the size of the Chicxulub space rock which wiped out the dinosaurs.

If this explanation is true, it could mean this killer asteroid caused the Permian–Triassic extinction event which killed 96 percent of Earth’s sea creatures and up to 70 percent of the vertebrate organisms living on land.

However, the wilder minds of the internet have come up with their own theories, with some conspiracy theorists claiming it could be a massive UFO base or a portal to a mysterious underworld called the Hollow Earth.

This “Wilkes Land gravity anomaly” was first uncovered in 2006, when NASA satellites spotted gravitational changes which indicated the presence of a huge object sitting in the middle of a 300 mile wide impact crater.
Perhaps it's best not to disturb it...

Monuments Man

Wait until he makes one for himself:
The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah will cover 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners region, the White House announced Wednesday. In a victory for Native American tribes and conservationists, the designation protects land that is considered sacred and is home to an estimated 100,000 archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

It's a blow for state Republican leaders and many rural residents who say it will add another layer of unnecessary federal control and close the area to new energy development, a common refrain in the battle over use of the American West's vast open spaces. Utah's attorney general vowed to sue.

In Nevada, a 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument outside Las Vegas would protect a scenic and ecologically fragile area near where rancher Cliven Bundy led an armed standoff with government agents in 2014. It includes rock art, artifacts, rare fossils and recently discovered dinosaur tracks.

The White House and conservationists said both sites were at risk of looting and vandalism.

"Today's actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes," Obama said in a statement.
Has everybody gotten their own monument yet?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Spirits Of The Force

Just because you're dead, doesn't mean you still can't have a cameo:
Carrie Fisher’s iconic Princess Leia, one of film’s most beloved heroines, had taken on the mantle of General in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, leading the Resistance forces against foes both old and new. Episode VIII director Colin Trevorrow was excited to see where the movies might take Leia and her twin, Luke Skywalker.

Fisher had only just finished filming her role in Episode VIII and appears as a digitized younger version of her character in the Rogue One spin off now playing in theaters. She was expected to play a key part in Episode IX, but it may take some digital Jedi mind tricks to bring her character to the screen.

Disney will be forced to either rewrite the ninth film, to digitize Fisher into the movie in a similar manner to Rogue One, or even recast the role. The last option would no doubt raise a furor among long-time fans, who would generally rather see her given a proper send-off. She could be represented by a virtual marionette — much the same way as Peter Cushing reprised his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, despite his death in 1994.
I find their lack of faith in live actors disturbing...

Caffeine Crazy

Friends don't let friends drive on...caffeine?
Joseph Schwab was driving home from work in Solano County when he allegedly cut off an agent from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Claiming Schwab was driving erratically, the officer pulled him over and gave him a breathalyzer test. The result turned up as 0.00%.

Regardless, she arrested him and took him to jail where they decided to do a blood test to see if he was on anything else. Everything in the illegal column came back negative, but it did show that Schwab had some caffeine in him. With that, California police charged Schwab with a DUI.

If you’re confused as to how police could charge Schwab with a DUI for being under the influence of a substance that is literally sold to keep drivers awake and alert, you’re not alone. Schwab’s attorney is just as perplexed.
One too many lattes?

Sprinting To The USA

Making America work again:
Trump said the deal "was done through" SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, a Japanese billionaire and technology investor. Earlier this month, the pair announced in New York that SoftBank agreed to invest $50 billion in the U.S. and aimed to create 50,000 jobs.

It is unclear whether all of the positions announced Wednesday are part of the 50,000 jobs pledge detailed previously.

SoftBank owns about 80 percent of Sprint and earlier this month invested $1 billion in OneWeb, a U.S. satellite venture that aims to provide affordable internet. Son said at the time that the OneWeb investment was the "first step" in his commitment to Trump.
Trump Effect on line one...

Meter Men

Can parking meters stop begging?
The first meters went up in 2007 in Denver, and other cities have followed suit. They were recently installed in Pasadena, California; Indianapolis; and Corpus Christi, Texas.

"We get at least one call a month from cities who are looking to replicate the program," said Julie Smith, a spokeswoman for Denver's Road Home, which runs the meter program in that city.

But some advocates for the homeless say the meters do little to stop the needy from requesting handouts and question whether it's worth the cost to install and maintain them.

Panhandling is not illegal, and people who need money will still ask for it, meters or no, said Mark Horvath, a national advocate for the homeless and founder of the advocacy group Invisible People. The meters, he said, reinforce the stereotype that all panhandlers are bums who want money for drugs or booze.
Well, in all fairness, you don't need to be a bum to spend your money on drugs or booze...

Protein Zombies

The high that doesn't die:
FosB is part of the activating protein AP1, which is involved with regulating gene expression in response to a range of stimulus, including stress and bacterial infections.

Due to a constant supply of drugs, such as heroin, FosB turns into DeltaFosB, which is increasingly stimulated in cases of chronic use and even influences growth factors and structural changes (neuronal plasticity) in the brain - approximately in the region where memory is formed.

The evidence that the modified protein lingers after death was discovered by the Medical University of Vienna's Department of Forensic Medicine, which examined tissue samples from the nucleus accumbens (an area of the brain) of 15 deceased heroin addicts.

'Using highly sensitive detection methods, DeltaFosB was still detectable nine days after death,' the team explained.
The addicted dead?

Congratulate Yourself

This is what winning early looks like:
“The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS!” he writes on Twitter.

“Thanks Donald!” he added, in an apparent attempt to kick off a slogan similar to the sarcastic “Thanks Obama” slogan that blamed the President of the United States for anything bad that happened.

Trump’s message triggered liberals, who immediately sent outraged messages in response.

“This guy Donald Trump is out of his mind,” wrote Keith Olbermann in response. “‘Thanks Donald!?’ Seriously? Not ‘Thanks – Donald’ or ‘My thanks’ – HE’S THANKING HIMSELF.”
Don't worry-the rest of the country will be thanking him soon enough...

No Cult, Please

No cult for him:
Granma, the Cuban government’s official media agency, said the law bans the use of Castro’s name “to designate institutions, plazas, parks, avenues, streets and other public places, as well as any type of decoration, recognition or honorary title.”

The law also bans using his likeness “to erect monuments, busts, statues, commemorative strips and other similar forms of homage.”

The National Assembly passed the prohibition on Tuesday citing 1959’s Law No. 174, which bans monuments, statues and busts honoring national personalities. Castro died late November.

Castro’s name could be used in the future to establish institutions that will study Castro’s “invaluable trajectory in the history of the nation.”

Cuba’s industrial sector is also banned from using Castro’s name and likeness on commercial merchandise but Cuban artists “inspired by Fidel” will be allowed to use him in arts including music, literature, dance and cinema.
How can you be a good dictator without one?

Life Without Babs

Farmers rejoice:
“I, like most of the Valley farmers, [am] glad to see Boxer retire,” John Harris, CEO of Harris Ranch, told the Fresno Bee. “She won’t be missed.” Some in the farming sector said they had a good working relationship with Boxer, and recalled that she had defended portions of the state’s agricultural economy, such as citrus and poultry farms. However, memories of her help in specific fights were overshadowed by her opposition to increasing the water allocation to drought-stricken farmers.

In her four elections, Boxer was never able to win Fresno County, or to exceed 45.4% of the local vote, the Bee reports.

Boxer had faced off against the Central Valley — and, oddly, against fellow liberal Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — over the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bipartisan effort that had been hammered out by California legislators in both houses. The bill provides over half a billion dollars for desalination and water storage, and includes an amendment that would allow federal and state water managers to pump additional water to farmers, beyond current environmental limits, during storms.

Boxer had threatened to filibuster the bill, but eventually yielded before the Senate adjourned for the year, and the bill passed. President Barack Obama signed it before leaving Washington, D.C. for vacation.
Their drought may be over, but what about the rest of the state?

What's That Sound?

Do you know what it is?
Sometimes it’s a jingle engineered to burrow into your brain. Other times, it’s a tone simply meant to get your attention. Much like the design of a logo or the wording used in a catchphrase, branding experts are used to sculpt sounds as well.
Sonic branding experts Andrew Stafford and Steve Milton use their intuition to distill a message or feeling into a few notes. For instance, the sound of a Mac computer starting up “feels like a gentle rub on the back,” says Stafford, co-Founder and director at Big Sync Music. But, creating an identity from a sound is easier said than done. It requires an incisive sense of popular culture and how an audience will instinctively react.
Listen, and remember...

The Art Of Denim

He's a blue jeans master:
Berry is the king of denim jeans—a medium that most people usually wear right out, throw away, or dare we say, turn into jorts (we’re looking at you, Brooklyn hipsters). Like paint, denim is in great supply—and comes in a range of blues and other colors, so Berry need not look far to find his next source.
Says Berry of his works:
“I strive for photorealist perfection and it’s amazing how denim can aid with this … I get a lot of jeans donated to me and I tend to use the ones that have the most character within them so, in a sense, that pair almost becomes my palette.”
Berry has found fame the world over for his denim art, and recently had a solo exhibition in London in November. He’s also attracted the interest of famous fans, including Debbie Harry (who commissioned a portrait) and fashion icon Giorgio Armani.
Blue jeans aren't just for wearing anymore...

Go To Class, Again

Welcome to grownup school:
The website www.theadultingschool.com actually has a laudable list of goals:

You're smart and capable - your education just didn't provide you with all the skills you need.
We know you're sick of feeling like you're pretending to be a grown-up and that someone's going to realize you don't know the sh%#t you're supposed to know.

You're putting together the pieces of the puzzle for successful adulting and we've got the pieces you're missing!


The courses of study include Financial Basics, Health and Wellness, Make-It & Fix-It Skills, and Relationships & Community. You can give the Gift of Adulting in the form of a gift certificate (one month of adulting class costs $19.99; a full year is $180). You can even take the quiz to determine your Adulting IQ.
Are you smart enough to be an actual adult?

The New Trump Economy

It begins:
Consumer confidence climbed in December to the highest level since August 2001 as Americans were more upbeat about the outlook than at any time in the last 13 years, according to a report Tuesday from the New York-based Conference Board.
Confidence index increased to 113.7 (forecast was 109) from a revised 109.4 in November
Measure of consumer expectations for the next six months rose to 105.5, the highest since December 2003, from 94.4
American households are expecting a Donald Trump administration to deliver. They are more upbeat about the prospects for the economy, labor market and their incomes, according to the Conference Board’s report. The results corroborate surveys by the University of Michigan and the National Federation of Independent Business, which showed jumps in household and business sentiment on Trump’s pledges to boost jobs, cut taxes and ease regulations.
Winning means never having to apologize for optimism...

Age And Wisdom

Thomas Sowell leaves behind a legacy of both:
“Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export…. Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea — in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders. ”
There are many more, all of them worth remembering...

Here Comes The New AG

President Trump will now have his man in charge:
The court provides a new opening to Trump and his attorney general designate, Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions. A congressional vote confirming Sessions could occur as early as Jan. 10, but Senate Democrats indicated they will put up a stiff fight to defeat the nomination.

Tuesday’s decision in “Judicial Watch vs. Kerry” affects emails the former secretary and her aides sent and received using private email addresses and a homebrew server in Clinton’s New York mansion to conduct official business. About half of the 55,000 pages of emails from the server were voluntarily handed over to the State Department by Clinton’s lawyers.

Current Secretary of State John Kerry refused to refer the matter to the attorney general as federal law requires. Instead, he allowed State Department officials to pick and choose which emails could be withheld and released to the public.

But the three-judge appeals court panel ruled that the Federal Records Act, “requires the agency head and Archivist to take enforcement action through the Attorney General if those (search) efforts are unsuccessful.”
Better late than never to have an administration that would actually follow the law...

Final Debt

President Obama's debt legacy:
A breakdown of Obama’s budgets for each fiscal year and the amount they added to the debt comes from an analysis produced by thebalance.com:

FY 2016 – $1.423 trillion.

FY 2015 – $327 billion.

FY 2014 – $1.086 trillion.

FY 2013 – $672 billion.

FY 2012 – $1.276 trillion.

FY 2011 – $1.229 trillion.

FY 2010 – $1.652 trillion.

FY 2009 – $253 billion. (Congress passed the Economic Stimulus Act, which spent $253 billion in FY 2009. This rare occurrence should be added to President Obama’s contribution to the debt.)

While he was running for president, Obama criticized President Bush’s deficit spending, calling it “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
So what did that make Obama?

Lands Of The Lost

Thanks, Obama:
Democrats lost a total of 1,042 seats at the state and federal level, including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships, and the presidency, Fox News reported.

Obama’s popularity failed to bring support for his allies. Although Hillary Clinton brought out the first family for numerous campaign appearances, the country voted for President-elect Donald Trump.

The presidency wasn’t the only place that saw a partisan change since Obama took office in 2009.

Democratic U.S. Senate seats dropped from 55 to 46, their share of House seats fell from 256 seats to 194, and Democratic governorships fell from 28 to 16, according to figures from Ballotpedia.

Over the Obama years, Democrats lost 958 state legislative seats in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and the new movement that’s coalescing around Trump that has yet to be defined.
Doing the job that the Republicans wouldn't?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

She Returns

Hillary is back?
“I believe it is our responsibility to keep doing our part to build a better, stronger, and fairer future for our country and the world,” Clinton wrote on her official Facebook page.

“I wish you and your family health, happiness, and continued strength for the New Year and the work ahead. I look forward to staying in touch in 2017. Onward!” she continued.

Clinton later used another social media platform to hint at her possible intention of re-entering the limelight.
Onward...into further oblivion?

Senior Blues

Yes, the Democrats are old:
In a profile for New York Magazine, Reid was informed about Vice President Joe Biden’s possible interest in running for president. Asked if he would support the Vice President, Reid replied:

“It depends on who’s running. It appears we’re going to have an old folks’ home. We’ve got [Elizabeth] Warren; she’ll be 71. Biden will be 78. Bernie [Sanders] will be 79.”

Reid just turned 77, and is retiring from the Senate for good.

“I didn’t make it in life because of my athletic prowess,” Reid said earlier this month as he mused about his political career.
Certainly not in the gym...

The Invincible Idiot

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...super rapper?
Police say Mazi was waiting to order food when someone opened fire and he was shot in the chest.

Hours after the shooting Yung Mazi tweeted, “God made me bulletproof.”

The rapper claims he’s been shot multiple times during the course of his life, including once in the head. Mazi said in an interview with DJ Smallz Eyes posted to YouTube in June that he had been shot 10 previous times.

In the interview, Mazi said that he “keeps getting shot” in part due to his skin tone, the fact that “some people don’t like real dudes,” as well as the expensive accessories he wears.
Or maybe he's just being shielded by his massive ego...

Don't Appeal For Her, Argentina

Argentina's former soap opera star President has been indicted:
Federal Judge Julian Ercolini approved charges of illicit association and fraudulent administration against Fernandez, and two former aides: ex-Planning Minister Julio de Vido and former Public Works Secretary Jose Lopez.

Also named was businessman Lazaro Baez, whose Austral Construcciones company allegedly benefited from irregular contracts.

The judge's order froze the equivalent of up to $633 million of each defendant's assets, though it was not clear they have that much.

The ruling published by official Center of Judicial Information said the defendants are accused of associating to illegally take public fund meant for public works between May 2003 and December 2015.
A semi-hot thief is still a thief...

The Sand Kings

They'd better enjoy it while they can:
The royal family’s fortune derives from the reserves of petroleum discovered during the reign of Salman’s father, King Abdulaziz ibn Saud, more than 75 years ago. The sale of oil provides billions of dollars in annual allowances, public-sector sinecures and perks for royals, the wealthiest of whom own French chateaus and Saudi palaces, stash money in Swiss bank accounts, wear couture dresses under their abayas and frolic on some of the world’s biggest yachts out of sight of commoners.

King Salman serves as chairman of the family business unofficially known as “Al Saud Inc.” Sustained low oil prices have strained the economy and forced questions about whether the family — with thousands of members and still growing — can simultaneously maintain its lavish lifestyle and its unchallenged grip on the country.

“The people have less money than before, but the royal family have the same,” said Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, a dissident member of the extended family living in Germany. “There is a lot of state money which is concealed from the budget, which is determined by the king alone.”
It'll be even harder without a Secretary of State to bribe...

RIP Princess Leia

Carrie Fisher is gone:
Fisher starred in a host of popular 1980s movies, was married or engaged to famous singers and actors, suffered from bipolar disorder and drug addiction and eventually became a mental health advocate. She had a medical emergency while on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23, during which she stopped breathing. She was later taken to an intensive care unit, but never recovered.

Fisher was born on Oct. 21, 1956 with showbiz – literally – in her blood. The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, Carrie appeared, at the age of 15, in the Broadway show “Irene,” which Reynolds starred in. But the theater turn cost her school time and contributed to Fisher never finishing high school.

She first appeared on the movie screen in 1975’s “Shampoo,” though her career took off when she was cast as Princess Leia Organa in the inaugural Star Wars film, which was released in 1977. She would go on to reprise the role in subsequent films, most recently appearing in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
The Force was with her, always...

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Aquarium Artist

How a former NASA engineer creates art in his fish tank:
“Timing of the shots is crucial and short-lived, as the process of releasing the dyes and pigments quickly transforms into a random event. It is a very freeing process. I can explore color and form like never before….Even after 20,000 shots I can’t predict which will be completely successful and only a fraction are printed. But I have accepted the lack of control and embrace the randomness.”
The artist and the engineer...

Forever Wild Cats

Why they can't be tamed:
“When people set out to domesticate the first animals, we targeted animals that were easy to keep in confined spaces, and animals that would eat a variety of things—think of a pig or a goat, which will eat any old swill left over from your kitchen. Cats eat only fancy food, meat that we could eat ourselves.”
....

“We also tended toward animals that had social hierarchies that we could dominate. Dogs and cattle have lead animals, and we can control them by acting the alpha dog or the lead steer. But cats are solitary animals that don’t have social hierarchies. They’re hard to physically control, and they don’t tolerate confinement well.”
Remember, they own you, not the other way around...

Smart Is As Smart Does

When it comes to "settled science," who's really smarter?
Putting aside the fact that no one denies that climate changes, should we wonder why the most scientifically literate conservatives are least likely to accept manmade disastrous climate change? Could it be that those of us who have a more intimate knowledge of scientific research and practice are better able to sort out fact from fiction and form our own conclusions?
....

Could it be that those who are merely curious without an intimate comprehension of science and scientific practice are more easily influenced by "settled" scientific assertions and more inclined to demonstrate their understanding of science by going with the "consensus" views?
Conformity in the name of a cause isn't "consensus..."

One More Win?

Because he's just so awesome, or something:
“I am confident in this vision because I’m confident that if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it,” he told David Axelrod, his former chief strategist, during an interview on CNN’s “The Axe Files” podcast.

“I know that in conversations that I’ve had with people around the country,” he added, “even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.”

Following Trump’s unexpected victory last month over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Obama said many voters are concerned his 2008 “hope and change” was a “fantasy” — something the outgoing president apparently believed was still alive and well until 2016.
Except that it wasn't...

Fake News Goes Boom

That time actual fake news almost started a war:
According to the Huffington Post, an outlet called awdnews.com quoted a former Israeli government official, Moshe Yaalon, who resigned in May, but does not quote the current defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Less than a day later, reports CNN, the Israeli Ministry of Defense responded on Twitter, saying, “The statement attributed to (former Defense Minister) Yaalon (regarding) Pakistan was never said. Reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false.”

So-called “fake news” has become a hot-button issue since the surprise general election of Donald Trump. Some have gone so far as to attirbute President-elect Donald Trump’s win to the proliferation of “fake news.” Social media giant Facebook is involved in controversial internal discussions over efforts to combat the spread of fake news on social media. This is the first time the issue has had a tone serious enough to suggest potential military aggression between nuclear-capable countries.
Pushing the fake button?

The Final Fawning

An AP reporter gushes one last time:
I think that he’s going to be looked at as a consequential president in terms of actions he took and the range of issues that he’s dealt with both in the U.S. and overseas if you look at everything from the economic crisis to the civil war in Syria. I also think though that to Mike’s point, part of his legacy will just be the lack of scandal. the fact that he and his family were really beloved by many Americans and respected by many other Americans who may disagree with them on policy.
I could think of a few...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Midnight Marathon Man

President Obama is not going quietly:
In the last week alone, the Obama administration blocked future oil and gas leases in swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans; granted a record number of pardons and commutations for a single day; and scrapped a dormant registry for male immigrants from a list of largely Muslim countries.

Defense officials told Fox News there is an effort underway to transfer up to 22 additional detainees out of Guantanamo Bay. And Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations stunned Israel on Friday by abstaining on a Security Council measure condemning settlement activity, allowing it to pass.

And Obama still has a month left in office. The most recent announcements were made while the first family was on vacation in Hawaii – leaving unclear what Obama has in store for when he gets back to Washington.
More damage to be undone?

Father Figure

Another one gone-RIP George Michael:

Nut Rapper

Keeping the Nutcracker real, yo:

Who Stole The Court?

The New York Times has an odd theory:
The Times accuses Republicans of impugning the institutional integrity of the court by a hyper-partisan charade, arguing the justices derive their legitimacy from their separation from the two political branches of government.

“Mr. McConnell and his allies took a torch to that idea — an outrageous gambit that, to nearly everyone’s shock, has paid off,” the Grey Lady says. “But while Republicans may be celebrating now, the damage they have inflicted on the confirmation process, and on the court as an institution, may be irreversible.”

The prospect of a Republican president appears to have helped the Times’ editorial board discover shortcomings of a confirmation process many believe has been broken for decades.
Because Democrats were so fair to Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas...

Leaving The Left Coast

California secession seems to have become a thing:
If its ballot measure succeeds, Yes California would pursue a 2019 vote to declare the state’s independence. At least half of the state’s voters would have to cast ballots and 55 percent would have to choose independence for California to become its own nation, according to document Yes California filed with the Attorney General’s office.

Talk of California secession is nothing new. But it gained momentum after Donald Trump’s election. Hillary Clinton got 62 percent of California’s vote in defeating Trump, the largest margin of victory for a presidential candidate in the state since 1936.

The November election, which gave Republicans the White House and continued congressional dominance, underscored California’s political divergence from the rest of the country.

While the GOP controls most state legislatures and governorships, Republicans are a shrinking minority in the Golden State, where Democrats control the Legislature, 39 of 53 congressional seats and all statewide elected offices.

California’s Democratic leadership has vowed to fight Trump over his plans to deport undocumented immigrants and repeal Obamacare, and California’s battle against global warming is at odds with climate change skeptics in Trump’s cabinet.
On the positive side, they couldn't blame the Electoral College for losing the next election if they went it alone...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Immoral Morality

How wealthy liberals hurt the poor:
The idea behind his thesis is this: The wealthy elite (some in Hollywood notwithstanding) tend to live in more traditional enclaves in intact families. They can afford to send their kids for the best education, and they even often map out their children's career paths in advance for them. Even as they profess tolerance, as well as the freedom that supposedly accompanies such attitudes, their lives are more or less conventional.

On the other hand, poor families catch wind of relaxed morality as it is preached through the culture, and they often follow suit, regardless of their circumstances or means. The young woman whose favorite actress or singer publicly declares that she doesn't need a husband or steady man to be a mom chooses to do so herself. The husband who hears that he should follow his heart over his responsibilities decides to abandon his family for another.
Bad examples and moral hypocrisy don't mix...

Happy Fake Holidays

Meet the nutcase behind Kwanzaa:
A psychiatrist who examined Karenga in 1971 concluded he was insane. A September 1971 sentencing hearing transcript shows that the unidentified psychiatrist believed that the founder of Kwanzaa was “both paranoid and schizophrenic.”

Judge Arthur L. Alarcon read from the psychiatrist’s report in court, according to FrontPage Magazine.

“Since his admission here he has been isolated and has been exhibiting bizarre behavior, such as staring at the wall, talking to imaginary persons, claiming that he was attacked by dive-bombers and that his attorney was in the next cell,” the psychiatrist’s report said, in part. “During part of the interview he would look around as if reacting to hallucination and when the examiner walked away for a moment he began a conversation with a blanket located on his bed.”

“This man now presents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and elusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment,” the report said.

Karenga concocted Kwanzaa in 1966 as a secular, “nonreligious” pan-African holiday. At the time, he was a twentysomething graduate student living in Los Angeles.
You don't have to be insane to create a fake holiday, but it helps...

Happy School Days

It's for the children:
The aftermath of the November elections has particularly raised the hopes of school choice advocates. They support tax credits for families who opt for private over public schools and vouchers that allow public tax dollars to pay for private-school tuition. They also want to expand public charter and magnet schools to give parents additional choices.

Trump pledged during the campaign to spend $20 billion during his first year in office to help states expand school choice programs, and he wants states to divert an additional $110 billion of their own education budgets toward the cause. His pick for education secretary is Betsy DeVos, chairwoman of the school choice advocacy group American Federation for Children.

The federation’s political arm backed 121 state and local candidates this year, winning in 108 of the races, said spokesman Matthew Frendewey. Now it’s focusing on at least a dozen states— nearly all of which have Republican-led legislatures — where it believes school choice laws could be enacted or expanded in 2017.

“The environment is ripe for this, and there’s a hunger for expanding choice and creating more educational options for families,” Frendewey said.
The choice will be yours-literally...

Blogging In The Years: 1991

The Soviet Union is dead, long live...what?
There was no ceremony, only the tolling of chimes from the Spassky Gate, cheers from a handful of surprised foreigners and an angry tirade from a lone war veteran.

Reactions to the death varied widely, according to Pravda, the former mouthpiece of the empire: "Some joyfully exclaim, 'Finita la comedia!' Others, heaping ash on their heads, raise their hands to the sky in horror and ask, what will be?"

The reaction depended somewhat on whether one listened to the ominous gunfire from Georgia, or watched spellbound the bitter if dignified surrender of power by the last leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mr. Gorbachev.

Most people vacillated. The taboos and chains were gone, but so was the food. The Soviet Union had given them pitifully little, but there was no guarantee that the strange-sounding "Commonwealth of Independent States" would do any better.

As for Mr. Gorbachev, public opinion polls indicated a virtually universal agreement that it was time for him to move on -- not because he had failed, but because there was nothing more he could do.
The real question may be, what will Paul McCartney sing now? "Back in the Commonwealth of Independent States" doesn't quite have the same ring to it. And how will James Bond find work?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Pipemas

It's Santa riding a unicycle, playing flaming bagpipes:

Left Wing Apocalypse

Preppers to the left of me?
What is ironic about all of this is that on the other end of the political spectrum interest in prepping is probably the lowest that it has ever been in the history of the modern prepper movement. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how it was like “a nuclear bomb went off in the prepping community“, and nothing has changed since that time.
In fact, since I originally wrote that article we have gotten some hard numbers that show how dramatically optimism about the future has surged among those on the right.
Just before the election, CNBC’s All-America Economic Survey found that only 15 percent of all Republicans believed that the economy would improve over the next year, but after the election that number skyrocketed all the way up to 74 percent.
But among Democrats it is a different story altogether. That same CNBC survey found that optimism about the economy on the left fell by more than half after the election. At this point, it is sitting at just 16 percent.
One man's winning is another's doomsday?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Hillary Method

They had to get rid of the evidence:
The IG claimed EPA officials never “intentionally” violated the Federal Records Act and did not include the low number of archived texts in the body of its report, relaying it instead to congressional staff.

Multiple federal laws and regulations require that officials preserve all documents — including email and text messages — created in the course of conducting official business of the U.S. government.

“I applaud the inspector general at EPA for recognizing that there is a problem with EPA officials using texting for official business and the conflict it presents for maintaining records,” Smith said in a statement. “Out of the 3.1 million text messages analyzed by the IG, only 86 of the text messages were logged into the enterprise system at EPA as a federal record.
Maybe they just didn't know how to use this newfangled tech stuff...

Big Blue Money

Win or lose, Democrats still get paid:
More than 82 percent of $4.3 million in donations from nine major federal unions went to Democrats, Center for Responsive Politics data shows, FedSmith.com reported Wednesday. Likewise, Democrats raked in 82 percent of $6.6 million in donations from employees of 11 federal agencies and Senate and House of Representatives staff. (RELATED: IRS Employees Fuel Democratic Candidates, Causes)

The American Federation of Government Employees — the biggest of the major civil service work unions — gave Democrats the largest amount, with nearly 1.8 million, representing almost 92 percent of their contributions. The National Treasury Employees Union gave Democrats the largest share with nearly 96 percent of its donations.

Another two federal employee unions – the National Association of Postal Supervisors and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union – also sent around 93 percent of their political donations to Democrats.
It's a good con if you can get it...

Myth Busted

Fake news, real scam:
After divorcing from his first wife, Barbara Mikkelson, David Mikkelson married Elyssa Young, a former porn star and current escort who now works for Snopes as an administrator, according to the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail also revealed that top Snopes “fact-checker” Kim LaCapria claimed on her personal blog that she has “posted to Snopes” after smoking marijuana. As TheDC previously revealed, LaCapria describes herself as “openly left-leaning” and once claimed that Republicans fear “female agency.”

As originally reported by TheDC, Snopes almost exclusively employs leftists as fact-checkers, many of whom have exhibited a clear distaste for Republican voters. TheDC could not identify a single Snopes fact-checker who comes from a conservative background.
But they're all "hard working..."

One Last Lie

Harry Reid won't be missed:
The caller asked Reid if he thought that “the brazen lie he told about Mitt Romney not pay his taxes has in anyway contributed to the fake news debate that we now find ourselves in.”

Reid, who is leaving the Senate next month, denied the accusation. But he offered up a flimsy and fact-devoid defense of those 2012 claims.

“First of all, there were no brazen lies. What I said is the truth,” he maintained.

“There’s no brazen lies. I did what was necessary,” he said a few moments later.
Go back to fighting with your gym equipment, Harry...

Obamacare On Hold?

Will some of its taxes remain?
GOP lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee discussed the possibility of keeping some of the taxes in place during a retreat last week at the Library of Congress, the sources say.

Even if some of the taxes are not removed as part of the initial repeal bill, it does not necessarily mean they will remain indefinitely. Some ObamaCare taxes could be dealt with as part of a larger tax reform bill later in the year.

Still, there is at least a possibility that some taxes could remain in place to provide revenue for a replacement healthcare measure.

Discussions are still in flux, however, and ObamaCare taxes could be repealed right away. Including the law’s taxes in a repeal bill could be an easier political move for Republicans, given the importance many have placed on repealing as much of the law as possible.
Sooner rather than later...

Coming To America

More winning:
Cao Dewang's $600-million investment comes after Donald Trump threatened to declare Beijing a currency manipulator and slap 45 percent punitive tariffs on Chinese imports to protect American jobs.

The 70-year-old tycoon's decision to open a glass factory in the eastern American state of Ohio in October -- a rare case of jobs being exported from China to the US -- triggered an outpouring of criticism on social media.

The phrase "Cao Dewang has escaped" became a hot topic, generating nearly 10 million views on the Twitter-like Weibo microblog and many comments urging China to "not let Cao Dewang run away".

Cao's Fuyao Glass Industry Group -- a supplier to big names including Volkswagen and General Motors -- claims to be the biggest exporter of auto glass in the world, reporting 2.6 billion yuan ($370 million) profits last year.

Cao defended himself in an interview with the Beijing News Wednesday, saying he "did not run and will not run. The centre of my business is in China because I'm Chinese".

"I'm a business man and I'm doing business in the US," he said. "I'm merely reminding the government" that taxes and labour costs are too high.
Socialist governments usually work that way...

Le Cave

Call it the original man cave:

Sneezing Etiquette

How to sneeze, UK PSA style:
Following WWII, public health initiatives soared in Britain. While most posters were banal, films educated citizens in a wry manner, despite the serious nature of the messages. The film below, called “Coughs and Sneezes,” is a tongue-in-cheek video to teach Brits proper etiquette for sneezing. The film features a portly man with a large nose sneezing haphazardly in public before the narrator intervenes to set him straight. It was designed to show how easy it is to avoid spreading disease, and how inconsiderate it was to not make an attempt at it.
The film’s star is also featured in several other PSAs, such as the 1948 films “Pedestrian Crossing” and “Jet Propelled Germs.”
Carry on sneezing...

Beware The Slime

How slime thinks:
They are slime molds —yellow, oozing, amoeba-like organisms found on decaying logs and other moist areas. They have no brains. They have no neurons. Each consists of just a single, giant cell. And yet, they’re capable of surprisingly complicated and almost intelligent behaviors. The species that Dussutour studies, Physarum polycephalum, can make decisions, escape from traps, and break out of Petri dishes. “It’s a unicellular organism but it looks smart,” she says.

At its smallest, Physarum can exist as microscopic cells, which actively swim about. These cells are attracted to each other, and when they swarm together, they can merge. The result is a single giant cell called a plasmodium, which can extend for meters. It moves with a top speed of 4 centimeters per hour, by extending tendrils in any direction. A single plasmodium can tear itself into fully functioning pieces, and the pieces can fuse right back again.
The slime is learning...

Put It In Your Pocket

A brief history of pockets:
Derived from the Anglo-Norman poket, meaning “little bag,” the pocket is an object built solely to contain other objects. It first emerged in the late 17th century when it replaced the reticule, a small, embroidered bag closed with a drawstring. Although men’s pockets have remained relatively stable over time, women’s pockets have undergone a number of transformations. Pockets of the 1780s looked much different than they do today. Easily detachable, they were tied around the waist and worn under aprons, skirts, and petticoats—hence why Lucy Locket lost her pocket. Pockets allowed women to move beyond the boundaries of the home.

The cumbersome pockets of the 18th century were large enough to hold a range of curious items: pencils, chestnuts, corkscrews, needles, buttons, handkerchiefs, scissors, knives, lumps of sugar, flasks, and—as in the case of Samuel Richardson’s 1740 Pamela—“above forty sheets of paper, and a dozen pens, and a little phial of ink … and some wax and wafers.” By the mid-19th century, pocket-sized objects had multiplied: pocket almanacs, pocket calendars, medical pocket-books, and pocket maps, which made for easy transport of items that were previously too large for carrying. Women were also likely to keep pocket diaries, which they could access quickly to jot down daily occurrences or observations.
What's in your pocket?

The Navy Name Game

If you like your job title, you can keep your job title:
In what was originally an effort to be more politically correct, the Navy announced their plans to eliminate their long-standing traditional titles back in September. They decided to instead refer to the sailors by their rank only, like “petty officer” or “chief,” to ensure titles were more gender-neutral.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson explained in a memo that modernizing the naval ranking was only meant to give sailors more flexibility in training and assignments. He went on to say that using a more uniform ranking would help civilians understand the system better and essentially make it easier for the sailors to get jobs after leaving the service.

But after months of angry feedback, Navy officials decided the job titles would remain as is, canceling their revamping plans.

“We have learned from you, and so effective immediately, all rating names are restored,” Richardson said in a memo released Wednesday.
All politically incorrect hands on deck...

Trade For Tariffs

Tariffs all around?
One of Trump’s key platforms throughout the campaign was to put an end to free trade, with the President-elect even going so far as promising to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement that the United States currently has with Mexico and Canada. He also frequently came down on some of the country’s international trading partners like China and Japan, asserting that current U.S. trade practices put American workers at a disadvantage.

Sources told CNN that Reince Preibus has stated to D.C. insiders that the idea of a 5% tariff on imports is being debated internally. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Priebus was explicitly warned that the move could mark the beginning of new trade wars and hurt economic growth.
One of the sources explained he was surprised the transition team is still considering the idea after the negative reaction in the business community and the strong opposition from GOP leadership.
Or, people who benefit the most from outsourcing and cheap labor?

You're All Fired

Somebody had to pay for his screw-ups:
Schumer fired almost all the staffers in the Senate Democrats’ internal video department, the Senate Democratic Media Center, to make room for a new digital operation focusing on viral social media content, Politico reported.

“On Friday, December 16, 2016, my colleagues and I in the Senate Democratic Media Center were informed by the incoming Democratic Leaders office that our services were no longer needed,” said one staffer in a goodbye email to other Democratic staffers.

Sources said that more than a half-dozen people were fired.

The media center employs eight people, according to data from LegiStorm.

The firings come as Democrats have dealt with the turmoil of being without a chairman for the Democratic National Committee and losing both the White House and the Senate majority. Democrats have been left without a leader or messenger as a result.
And now, apparently, employees...

The Healing Pain

We need better healing:
It wasn’t smooth and it wasn’t fast. But President Barack Obama will leave behind, by most measures, an economy far stronger than the one he inherited. Unemployment is 4.6 percent, a nine-year low. Stocks keep setting highs. An additional 20 million Americans have health insurance coverage. The nation has shifted toward cleaner energy sources: natural gas, wind and solar.

Yet it’s also an economy that left many people feeling neglected. Polling after the November election found that nearly two-thirds of voters described the economy as “not so good” or “poor.”

The costs of housing, college and prescription drugs kept outpacing paychecks. Job options had been dwindling for workers with only high school diplomas even before Obama took office, but the downturn and slow recovery magnified the pain of that trend. Many people gave up looking for work. Struggling rural towns never enjoyed the uplift that benefited major cities.

Fueled in part by such challenges, voters chose to pass the presidency to Donald Trump, a Republican who had railed against a weak economy and promised to undo many of Obama’s policies.
A band aid isn't a cure...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hardwired

Why James Hetfield left San Francisco:
Speaking on the Joe Rogan podcast, Hetfield explained that, despite calling Northern California home for the last several decades, he had to move because he could no longer take being looked down upon for his lifestyle choices and political views.

Instead, Hetfield says that liberal San Francisco residents accept “diversity” only if you’re like them.

“I kind of got sick of the Bay Area, the attitudes of the people there, a little bit,” Hetfield said. “They talk about how diverse they are, and things like that, and it’s fine if you’re diverse like them. But showing up with a deer on the bumper doesn’t fly in Marin County.”

“I love the ocean, and I love the Bay Area, I love what it’s got to offer, but there’s just an attitude that it was — it wasn’t healthy for me,” he added. “[I was] starting to feel like I was just fighting all the time, and I just had to get out of my own head.”
Help him leave this never land...

The Basement Generation

More adults are staying home:
The number of young adults sticking around has been increasing since 2005, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ten years ago, before the recession hit, one out of three were living with their family.

However, unlike in 1940, when the U.S. was in recovery mode following the Great Depression, younger Americans are not wanting to venture out on their own, despite the recent economic upturn:

The trend runs counter to that of previous economic cycles, when after a recession-related spike, the number of younger Americans living with relatives declined as the economy improved.

The result is that there is far less demand for housing than would be expected for the millennial generation, now the largest in U.S. history. The number of adults under age 30 has increased by 5 million over the last decade, but the number of households for that age group grew by just 200,000 over the same period, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.


Much of that decision to stay home, analysts say, is influenced by lofty rent costs in big cities and rigid mortgage-lending standards, which make it more difficult for young adults on limited incomes to fly solo.
In the family poorhouse?

The Fake Free Republic

Just because you're not really a country, doesn't mean you can't have your own embassy:
Louis Marinelli of San Diego is a leader of Yes California, which wants the state to split off from the United States and form its own nation. Marinelli, in Russia to work on immigration issues related to his wife, told the Los Angeles Times the "embassy" was opened last weekend in order to "start laying the groundwork for a dialogue about an independent California joining the United Nations now."

Yes California argues that the state, which has the sixth largest economy in the world, could "do more good as an independent country than it is able to do as just a U.S. state." The group also says it feels the United States "represents so many things that conflict with Californian values," and continued statehood "means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children."
What about other states that have to subsidize California to their own detriment?

The Great Cough Of China

China is under siege from smog:
Across the region, construction sites closed and authorities reduced the number of vehicles allowed on the roads in hopes of reducing the thick haze.

In Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern Hebei province, planes could not take off or land, according to a post on a verified social media account of the city’s international airport.

Levels of PM 2.5 — microscopic particles harmful to human health — climbed to 844 in the area, according to the web site aqicn.org.

The number is almost 34 times the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum exposure level of 25 over a 24-hour period.
Where are the environmentalists when you need them? Oh, right...

Final Drilling Decree

President Obama's last act is designed to make life difficult for the new boss:
President Barack Obama announced he was placing swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic “indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing.”

The protection covers an area of the Arctic roughly the size of Spain or Thailand and 31 sea canyons in the Atlantic.

A senior administration official said that there was a “strong legal basis” for the move, and suggested Trump could not revoke the decision without an act of Congress.

The move, based on a law from the 1950s, was taken in tandem with the Canadian government and introduces an additional headache should Trump try to row it back.
It doesn't mean he can't. Make drilling great again!

Social Justice Warrior Princess

Why was Wonder Woman fired?
Soaked as the UN is with social justice adherents, a petition was made that gathered around 44,000 signatures, and soon the UN was giving Wonder Woman the boot as ambassador.

This, however, did not sit well with Gal Gadot, who thought the whole objection childish seeing as how women are facing untold persecution and abuse in parts of the world that are currently lacking a respectable amount of protest from the same people who find Wonder Woman a pop-culture imperialist.

“There are so many horrible things that are going on in the world, and this is what you’re protesting, seriously?” she said in a statement.

“When people argue that Wonder Woman should ‘cover up,’ I don’t quite get it. They say, ‘If she’s smart and strong, she can’t also be sexy.’ That’s not fair. Why can’t she be all of the above?”
Real heroes fight for real justice, not the PC kind...

Happy Free Holidays

Have a merry libertarian Christmas:
If you don’t know what to get your liberty loving friend or family member this year, then Reason suggests things such as…

A Milton Friedman Chia Pet, a gift card to eminentdomain.com — which allows you to seize websites that already belong to someone else — and entitle-mints…already charged to your children.

Speaking of the kids, they also have the TSA: See n’ Say, Security Puppet Theatre, and Hungry Hungry Venezuelans.
For the libertarian in your family...

Life After The Electoral College

What are they going to do now?
Republican lawmakers and mainstream conservative voices for the most part have indicated they're ready to work with Trump. Some were buoyed by conservative picks in his Cabinet such as Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., for Health and Human Services secretary and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for attorney general.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton, too, signaled immediately after the election that Democrats should give Trump a chance.

But some Trump critics remain, if nothing else, on high alert for any constitutional violations from the Trump presidency.
Brother, can you spare a cause?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Green Stops Here

No more green gravy train:
“How much does the Department of State contribute annually to international environmental organizations in which the department participates?” reads one question on a list sent to the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, multiple sources told The Washington Post.

It’s not clear what groups Trump is looking at, but before the election, Trump said he’d “cancel billions of dollars in global warming payments to the United Nations” and reallocate that money to domestic environmental projects.

Trump’s team clarified he would “cancel all wasteful climate change spending,” including funding going to the U.N. Trump’s team claims cutting this spending could save $100 billion over eight years. Auditors estimated federal agencies spent $77 billion on climate programs from 2008 and 2013.
The con is over?

Santa Claus Isn't Coming To Town

This is what a socialist Christmas looks like:
"Last year I bought everything for my daughter," said Dileida Palacios, a 40-year-old hairdresser dressed in black to mourn her son killed in crime-rife Venezuela a few weeks ago.

"This year I had to tell her everything is tough and Santa Claus isn't coming."

Like Palacios, about 38.5 percent of Venezuelans think this Christmas will be worse than last year's, and 35 percent think it will be the worst ever, according to a poll by consultancy Ecoanalitica and Catholic University Andres Bello.

Several days of unrest over a national cash shortage have added to the grim national mood.

Once merrily decorated during the holidays, Caracas looks shabby. Many stores are empty, closed or selling cruelly expensive toys, Christmas trees, and holiday treats like "hallacas," a cornmeal dish wrapped in plantain leaves.
They're dreaming of a free Christmas...

Fining The Fakers

Facebook, or Fakebook?
Social Democratic Party parliamentary chairman Thomas Oppermann suggests fines as high as $519,000 for violations, according to an interview with German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.

“If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 euros.”

He also said Facebook hasn’t dealt with the problem enough. “Facebook did not avail itself of the opportunity to regulate the issue of complaint management itself,” Oppermann said. “Now market dominating platforms like Facebook will be legally required to build a legal protection office in Germany that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
What would Mark Zuckerberg do?

The Final Count

The hackers that weren't?
The only silver lining for Democrats’ hacking hysteria was Morning Consult’s conclusion that “despite doubts over whether the intelligence assessments are accurate, a plurality (45 percent) said it was important to raise questions about the democratic process and the accuracy of the 2016 election because of possible voter fraud or tampering by a foreign government. Thirty-four percent said it was dangerous and could lead to widespread mistrust in the electoral process.”

However, that answer includes all forms of election mischief, including the kind of voter fraud Democrats loudly insist we should not be worried about. That 45 percent level of agreement that questions should be raised about the democratic process will dissolve very quickly, the moment someone asks a specific question, or proposes a remedy.
One person's fraud is another's fake vote...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mister President-Elect

It's official:
The president-elect easily racked up the 270 electoral votes needed to send him to the White House. Interest in the normally mundane voting process spiked this year as opposition to Trump continues to fester, fueled by Clinton's success in capturing more than 2.6 million more votes than her Republican opponent.

Anti-Trump protesters descended on state capitols throughout the U.S. in a last-ditch effort to persuade so-called "faithless electors" in states Trump won to change their vote. Many of the Republicans casting ballots said they were inundated with calls and emails urging them to switch their votes.

And some electors did break with how their state voted, albeit in unexpected ways. In Washington, a state Clinton won by 16 points, the former secretary of state received just eight of the state's 12 electoral votes. Colin Powell received three votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one as part of an effort to promote a candidate other than Trump.

An elector in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast a ballot for Bernie Sanders, who unsuccessfully challenged Clinton in the Democratic primary. However state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both efforts.

Only one Republican elector, Christopher Suprun of Texas, publically pledged not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the president-elect last month. One other Texas elector also abandoned Trump in the final vote.
In the end, none of it mattered. Say hello to President Trump.

The Nutty Interview

It's Jerry Lewis unleashed, or unhinged. Charlie Sheen, take notes:

The Gay Nose

Rudolph the...gay reindeer?
Moylan sets up his argument like this:

The film starts in the North Pole, where traditional gender roles are quickly reinforced. Mrs. Claus does all the cooking and nags her husband about not eating enough. The elves, identical in shape and apparel, are at work on Santa’s toys, the boys wearing blue and the girls wearing pink. Rudolph is born to Donner, who immediately hates his son’s red nose and thinks that something so different will keep him from leading a heterosexual life where he pulls Santa’s sleigh and marries a nice doe someday.
So in an effort to find acceptance, the Vulture writer submitted, Rudolph “heads off into the wilderness to live alone.” But it is there he meets a colorful little elf named Hermey, who Moylan describes like this:

The only elf with any hair, and it’s a flamboyant blond wave. He also has especially red lips, a feminine-shaped face, and eyelashes any doll in Santa’s workshop would be jealous of. He speaks with a Paul Lynde cadence, as if his ascot is tied on a little too tight. He’s also signaled as different by his professional aspirations: He wants to be a dentist rather than a toy maker.

[…]

Unlike Rudolph, Hermey refuses to live in the closet, so he leaves Santa’s workshop and heads to the wilderness himself to open up his own dental practice.
In the woods, Moylan wrote, Hermey and Rudolph encounter the “lumbersexual” Yukon Cornelius, “an older, hirsute gay man who embraces an over-the-top masculinity, despite being gay.”
I'd hate to see what he makes of the abominable snowman character...

Terror In Turkey

An assassination caught on video:
The assassin was identified as a Turkish special forces police officer, Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek told AFP. Gokcek said the attack was aimed at ruining relations between Turkey and Russia. The two countries had begun normalizing ties in June 2016. That followed a strained period caused when a Turkish combat aircraft shot down a Russian military jet in November 2015.

The gunman could be heard shouting in Turkish "Don't forget about Aleppo, don't forget about Syria," the BBC reported, citing a translation of video of the incident. Russian officials told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that the perpetrator was believed to be an Islamic radical. The gunman could also be heard yelling "Allahu Akbar." Russia is assisting the Syrian government in its campaign against rebel forces in that country.

"While [Karlov] was doing his tour of the exhibition, people that came in, they were really well dressed and, according to witnesses, they took out their guns and started shooting everyone," said Sky News producer Guldenay Sonumut, who is based in Istanbul.
The Obama world order continues to unravel, very quickly.

Protein Player

What do proteins sound like when they play the piano?

The Post-Movie World

Who killed the movies?
Film critic Manohla Dargis supplies some hope:
“The American movie industry has absolutely changed, and it’s very different, and we can regret some of those changes and we can also say, ‘It is what it is and let’s move on,’ [but] let’s actually look at the work versus anguishing that it’s not 1957. I personally don’t want to go back to 1957….The Godfather is one of my favorite movies, absolutely, but There Will Be Blood is also a masterpiece and one of the greatest movies of the last 50 years, and that was made by an independent company and released by a studio — so masterpieces still get made. It’s just different.”
Film historian Mark Harris, however, sees little but darkness:
“When you say, ‘Movies aren’t dead because Moonlight,’ you’re not really answering the question. Because the statement is not, ‘Nobody knows how to make a good movie anymore.’ It’s, ‘Good movies are now made almost exclusively either outside of or in spite of the system,’ and that is a really meaningful change. It’s been a change for long enough now so that there are a generation of young moviegoers who did not really grow up knowing anything else.”
Say goodbye to Hollywood?

Earth Calling

Who's calling down there?
Researchers at the Hatfield Marine Science Centre were shocked to hear the wailing noise while monitoring deep-sea whale communications in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

Lasting around three seconds, the moaning noise hits super-low, and then super-high frequencies.

The experts’ best guess is that they picked up a never before heard whale call while monitoring the uncharted depths.

Marine experts sent a machine called a hydrophone down to the deepest part of the trench, which lies between Japan and Australia.

The hydrophone can travel through the sea for months at a time and dive up to 3,281 feet.

It's there that it picked up the strange booming sound.
This is your Mother calling?

Kid Classics

They're classic books for toddlers:
Along with “On the Road,” KinderGuides recently published picture book versions of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” and Truman Capote’s melancholy novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” (It skipped over the awkward question of whether Holly Golightly is a prostitute.) In one of its most ambitious and bizarre efforts, it released a cheerful take on Arthur C. Clarke’s opaque, mind-bending science fiction novel, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” an allegory about the evolution of human consciousness that many adult readers find impenetrable.

With their bright illustrations and breezy language — “Sal is ready for an adventure!” pretty much typifies the tone of “On the Road” — the books almost seem like parodies, or the perfect gag gift for the hipster parent who has everything. But the creators of the series, the graphic designer Melissa Medina and her husband, the writer Fredrik Colting, insist they aren’t joking. They’re already working on the next four titles in the series — versions of Paulo Coelho’s best-selling novel “The Alchemist,” Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” J. D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” (minus the rape charges, Ku Klux Klan rallies and racial slurs).

“The goal of all of this is to get them really psyched about these books now, so that they’ll want to read the originals later,” Ms. Medina said.

Though the premise of their project may strike some as absurd — does a first grader really need to be introduced to Kerouac or Capote? — kiddie lit has become a surprisingly lucrative and crowded niche. Anxious parents who played Mozart for their babies in utero and showed them Baby Einstein educational videos have snapped up children’s books that promise to turn their offspring into tiny literature lovers.
"My kid is a literary critic?"

Sheep In The City

The sheep take Manhattan:
Bales of hay, flocks of sheep and other pastoral scenes that were shot in Wyoming are being beamed onto screens ranging in size from 15,000 square feet down to 32 — small enough to fit on the side of a newsstand. A sheep’s face peered over Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets as it appeared more than seven stories tall on the Nasdaq billboard.

The glimpses of rural life displayed in the heart of New York are part of “Midnight Moment,” a synchronized digital art exhibition curated by Times Square Arts that lasts from 11:57 p.m. to midnight each night. The footage, from a yet-to-be-released documentary called “Counting Sheep,” was first shown on Dec. 1 and will appear through Dec. 30.

The footage began its journey to Times Square in 2013 in Kaycee, Wyo., about 70 miles north of Casper, with two octogenarian sheep ranchers and two filmmakers.
Just following the herd...

On The Books

What do you do, with a really overdue book?
Ms. Roston, a Brooklyn native, checked out the book when she was 15. At the time she was a sales audit clerk at Macy’s, making $1 an hour.

Since then, she has lived in Massachusetts and Illinois, was married (her first wedding dance was to “Tara’s Theme” from the film version of “Gone With the Wind”), raised four children and got divorced. All the while, the book had been with her.

Until that Saturday this month, when she returned it.

Ms. Roston is hardly the first New Yorker to have a really, really overdue book. In 2013, a guide to divorce was returned to the New York Public Library 36 years late. That same year, the New York library system received a copy of “The Fire of Francis Xavier,” which had been checked out in 1958.
Better late than never...

Forget The Fakes

It seems that people do know the difference, after all:
Fake news site DenverGuardian.com, subject of coverage from the New York Times and the Washington Post, is ranked 91,688 in web traffic in the U.S., according to web analytics firm Alexa. To put that number in perspective: the site supposedly impacting the national political scene is more than 84,000 slots behind the website for a Virginia community college.

On Sunday, the New York Times devoted front-page coverage to a site called the “Patriot News Agency.” The Times’ story emphasized the fact that “operators of Patriot News had an explicitly partisan motivation: getting Mr. Trump elected.”

But “Patriot News Agency” is even less popular than the “Denver Guardian,” ranking in at 184,898 in the country, according to Alexa. The site’s Facebook page has 113 total likes at this time.
If you don't want fake news, don't publicize it for them...

No Decrees, Please

So says the Executive Order Executive:
“Keep in mind, though, that my strong preference has always been to legislate when I can get legislation done,” Obama said from the Cabinet Room in the White House. “In my first two years, I wasn’t relying on executive powers, because I had big majorities in the Congress and we were able to get bills done, get bills passed. And even after we lost the majorities in Congress, I bent over backwards consistently to try to find compromise and a legislative solution to some of the big problems that we’ve got — a classic example being immigration reform, where I held off for years in taking some of the executive actions that I ultimately took in pursuit of a bipartisan solution — one that, by the way, did pass through the Senate on a bipartisan basis with our help.”

In 2014, Obama signed executive orders that shielded millions living in the country illegally from deportation.

The 44th president is aware that the executive orders by the 45th president can undo his achievements over eight years in office.

“I think that he is entirely within his lawful power to do so,” Obama said.

But just as easily, Trump’s orders can also be wiped out.

“So my suggestion to the president-elect is, you know, going through the legislative process is always better, in part because it’s harder to undo,” he said.
Sign as he says, not as he did...

A Dishonest Profession

If he says so: Acosta said of the exchange, “Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going off on reporters, who she is accusing of intentionally misleadi...