Friday, July 21, 2017

Blue Spending Blues

Democrats stay true to tradition:
The DNC raised just $5.5 million over the June fundraising period and outspent themselves by about $200k, finishing the month with $3.3 million in debt, according to the most recent FEC filings (RELATED: New Democratic Slogan Is Reminiscent Of Papa John’s Pizza)

Comparatively, the RNC outpaced the DNC by $8 million, raking in a record-breaking $13.5 million in total contributions.

The RNC has $44.7 million cash on hand compared to the DNC’s $7.5 million.
Always spending money they don't have...

Mad Maxine 2020

Oh, please do:
Ahead of an appearance in New Hampshire, Waters, who has repeatedly called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, was asked by the Daily Caller if she would consider running for president.

Waters said she was in New Hampshire just to support the Democratic Party, but when pressed by the Daily Caller, she admitted her presidential ambitions.

“I’m not running for anything but my own seat,” Waters said. “I don’t have any presidential aspirations.

“If the millennials want me to do it, I’d do it, though,” Waters said.
The problem is that nobody else would...

Deal Time

Who wants a new deal?
Politico, which first reported on this, suggested the “Better Deal” hearkens back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” which was created in response to the drought and dust storms of the 1930s that escalated into an environmental disaster.

According to Politico, “The slogan, which is still being polled in battleground House districts, aims to convince voters that Democrats have more to offer than the GOP and the self-proclaimed deal-maker in the White House.”

“Democrats will try to pass it legislatively for a year and campaign on it in 2018,” Schumer reportedly told ABC last month. “It’s what we were missing in 2016 and in the past.”
Some new ideas might help, too...

Spicy Spiked

Sean Spicer is out:
Mr. Spicer’s turbulent tenure as the president’s top spokesman was marked by a combative style with the news media that spawned a caricature of him on “Saturday Night Live.”

He had hoped to last a year. He lasted six months and a day.

His rumored departure has been one of the longest-running internal sagas in an administration brimming with dissension and intrigue. A former Republican National Committee spokesman and strategist, Mr. Spicer was a frequent target of the president’s ire — and correctives — during the first few months of the administration.

His resignation is a serious blow to the embattled White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the former Republican Party chairman who brought Mr. Spicer into the West Wing despite skepticism from Mr. Trump, who initially questioned his loyalty.
As he rides off into the sunset, remember:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Wait Is Over

At long last, an exemption:
In 2012, the American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, filed a lawsuit against the IRS on behalf of the Albuquerque Tea Party as well as other conservative groups whose requests for tax-exempt status seemed to be put on hold during the Obama administration.

"The ACLJ is pleased to announce that after a long, arduous legal battle, our client, the Albuquerque Tea Party, has finally received their tax-exempt status – nearly eight years after originally filing their 501(c)(4) application," the organization said in a statement on its website Wednesday. "This is a major victory for free speech."

"The widespread and coordinated attacks against conservative groups like the Albuquerque Tea Party began in early 2010," the ACLJ said. "The IRS literally took their money and then ignored their application requesting tax-exempt status for eight long years.

"This is outrageous," the group said. “No organization should ever be forced to wait that long for a determination."
There's not enough opportunity for corruption in being quicker...

Poverty For Profit

Making money on behalf of poor people is good work if you can get it:
The groups pursue various activist causes, but each participates in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Approved Counseling Agencies program, which pays nonprofits across the country to help people “find housing, make more informed housing choices, or keep their current homes,” according to HUD.

HUD awarded at least $42 million to 204 such groups in 2016, which was predicted to assist more than 1.4 million households, agency data shows.

The department even has a step-by-step guide that shows organizations how to become a nonprofit and ultimately a counseling agency. HUD considers the charities’ prior performance when vetting their applications for the grants, which includes the number of impacted clients, past budgets and how grant money was spent previously.

At least 14 recipients appear to be national-level activist groups and have raked in $916 million across government from 2013 through 2015, TheDCNF’s analysis found.
They love redistribution, at least among themselves...

One-Man Show

What happens when a politician debates himself:
The situation came about after other candidates raised objections with the debate format, which involved a six-way debate between six minor vice-presidential candidates, accompanied by a face-off between the two frontrunners later on in the evening.

A letter signed by all six minor candidates on Sunday accused Debate Media Limited, the alliance of broadcasters behind the debate, of running an “unconstitutional, illegal and discriminatory process,” and confirmed that they would only participate if all eight vice-presidential candidates were to debate simultaneously.

“We made it clear that we shall take part at 8pm Debates that was to bring all candidates together,” Ekuru Aukot, presidential candidate for Third Way Alliance, wrote on Twitter.
Politicians do love to hear themselves talk, so at least he had that going for him...

Clowning For Climate Change

All those old people need to die, he said:
Nye, 61, responded to a question on the generational differences in views of climate change, and said that those willing to embrace his take on climate change tend to be younger, and that those he calls “climate deniers” tend to be older.

In order for his views to advance, Nye told the LA Times that older people will have to die:

It just sounds like people are scared. It just sounds like people are afraid. And the people who are afraid in general — with due respect, and I am now one of them — are older. Climate change deniers, by way of example, are older. It’s generational. So we’re just going to have to wait for those people to “age out,” as they say. “Age out” is a euphemism for “die.” But it’ll happen, I guarantee you — that’ll happen.

The LA Times later asked Nye if he ever thought he’d be defending “science” in political circles. Nye suggested his political involvement was forced, and called his climate change opponents “clowns.”
As opposed to fake scientists?

Brother, Can You Spare A Venue?

It's always for "security reasons":
Seems UC Berkeley — known as the birthplace of the free-speech movement in the 1960s — only can accommodate venue requests “when events are held at a time and location that allow for the provision of any required security measures,” according to a letter from Greenwell and the student organization coordinator, the College Fix noted.

YAF said the school’s “inability to find a lecture hall more than two months in advance is laughable,” the College Fix added.

But Bradley Devlin, secretary of the Berkeley College Republicans, on Thursday wrote a scathing piece for the Daily Wire, ripping his school administration for trying to block Shapiro’s speech using “lies, deceit, and incoherent policy” — and then putting officials on notice.
Safety over free speech?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What's Yours Is Theirs?

Sessions supports seizure:
Sessions argues that increased civil forfeiture powers gives law enforcement officials an effective tool to go after lawbreakers. The ability to freeze funds and seize assets allows authorities to hit alleged criminals where it hurts the most – their wallets.

But Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who sponsored legislation earlier this year to regulate asset forfeiture, said Sessions’ agenda is “a troubling step backward” that would “bring back a loophole that’s become one of the most flagrantly abused provisions of this policy.”

He added, “Criminals shouldn’t be able to keep the proceeds of their crime, but innocent Americans shouldn’t lose their right to due process, or their private property rights, in order to make that happen.”

There have been multiple cases where the authorities have stepped on the paper-thin protections people have against asset forfeiture.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas also has gone on the record about asset forfeiture reform in the past.
Is theft still theft when the government can do it?

In Memory Of Robo Mall Cop

He was a robot who apparently had a brief but tough life:
People laid colorful flowers and left behind letters at the spot where the robot had been based at Washington Harbour in Georgetown.

“In Loving Memory of our security robot... but more importantly our friend,” one missive read.

Steve was about four feet tall and oblong. He was a roving robot charged with keeping an eye on the business and retail complex. He was new to the job, with about a week under his belt. While on patrol Monday, Steve fell down some concrete stairs and into the ankle-deep waters of a fountain. He was eventually rescued.

Knightscope, a Silicon Valley start-up that made the robot, said the accident was "an isolated incident" and promised to deliver a new robot this week for free.

Photos of Steve's misfortune set off a flurry of online attention.

The memorial featured a photo of a candle with the words "Never Forgotten," a box of tissues, photos of people posing with the robot, several letters, a set of batteries (for the robot hereafter, perhaps) and what appeared to be a cassette tape.
Perhaps Steve realized what the robots were planning and didn't want to be a part of it? Rest (or rust?) in peace...

Oh, Bother

Silly, silly old censors:
Obviously not every instance of Winnie the Pooh online would have to do with President Xi, but bloggers have been using him to make references to the president.

BBC pointed out some examples from over the last few years. In one, Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are compared to Pooh and Eeyore after what the internet saw as a disastrous attempt to shake hands in 2014. In another, President Barack Obama is compared to Tigger walking alongside Pooh.

The government is trying to stop ridicule of its leader and is also trying to stop Pooh from becoming a go-to symbol for anything beyond a chubby, iconic children's character.
Well if they want chubby there's the fat kid running North Korea...

Baa Baa Boring

The world's most boring movie?
"Baa Baa Land" consists entirely of slow-motion shots of sheep in a field. The film was shot in Essex, England, and was produced by the founders of a digital meditation app, Calm.

"We don’t expect it to break box-office records but believe there is at least a niche audience for it", Michael Acton Smith, one of the film's executive producers and a co-founder of Calm said in a statement.

"We’re in discussion about U.S. and wider distribution and in talks with an American TV channel", he said.

Producer Peter Freedman, said in a statement that he believed it could be the dullest film ever, adding: "We hope that audiences will, too".
Hollywood's made worse...

Pork Cuts

There's still a lot of pork going around:
The 15-page Pig Book shows the number of appropriations earmarks increased from fiscal 2016 to 2017 -- as well as the cost, from $5.1 billion to $6.8 billion.

The report acknowledged the recent totals are lower than during the earmark heyday -- fiscal 2006, when a record $29 billion was inserted to appropriations bills.

However, it also pointed out that totals have steadily increased since the $3.3 billion recorded in 2012, the first year after Congress agreed to an earmark moratorium.

“We’re no longer finding indoor rain forests or teapot museums, but there are some concerning findings,” group President Thomas Schatz said.
Everybody seems to want their pork, but guess who's paying for it?

Postal Politics

Neither rain, nor snow, nor campaign contributions:
According to a report from, the Office of Special Counsel recently determined that the USPS violated the Hatch Act by allowing nearly 100 employees to take leave from work in order to participate in the AFL-CIO’s “Labor 2016 program.”

The OSC report says the USPS showed “bias” by allowing workers to take leave to help conduct the union campaign activities. The report says 97 postal workers were granted “union leave.” Those workers took weeks off from their jobs at the postal service and were reimbursed by the National Association of Letter Carriers for their campaign work.

“The Labor 2016 program sought to ‘elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country,’” according to the OSC report.

The workers who took leave were primary from key battleground states: North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Nevada. Their campaign work consisted of “door-to-door canvassing, phone banks and other get-out-the-vote efforts,” according to Fox News.
The U.S. Mail is always there for your vote...

No Plan, No Gain

First, repeal goes down. Next, tax cuts?
The budget plan unveiled Tuesday is crucial because its passage would pave the way to pass a tax overhaul this fall without the fear of a filibuster by Senate Democrats.

But it also proposes trillions of dollars in cuts to the social safety net and other domestic programs and puts congressional Republicans at odds with Trump over cutting Medicare. It also would sharply boost military spending.

“In past years, the budget has only been a vision. But now, with the Republican Congress and a Republican White House, this budget is a plan for action,” said Budget Committee Chair Diane Black, R-Tenn. “Now is our moment to achieve real results.”

Unclear, however, is whether GOP leaders can get the budget measure through the House. Conservatives want a larger package of spending cuts to accompany this fall’s tax overhaul bill, while moderates are concerned cuts to programs such as food stamps could go too far.

“I just think that if you’re dealing with too many mandatory cuts while you’re dealing with tax reform you make tax reform that much harder to enact,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.

Black announced a committee vote for Wednesday, but was less confident of a vote by the entire House next week; a delay seems likely because of the ongoing quarrel between the GOP’s factions.
When in doubt, delay, and delay again?

Back To Basic?

Is it really time for a basic income?
The concept has been around, with different names and in different countries, for centuries, said Karl Widerquist, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network.

It enjoyed a wave of U.S. popularity in the 1910s and ’20s and again in the ’60s and ’70s when it was championed by free-market economist Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King and, for a while, Richard Nixon.

It resurfaced again after the 2008 financial crisis, when soaring unemployment and corporate bailouts focused attention on the “99 percent.” The concept picked up steam in recent years as studies started predicting widespread unemployment because of automation.

Basic income has fans across the political spectrum, but for very different reasons. Libertarian backers would replace all or most welfare programs with a monthly cash payment as a way to prevent poverty, reduce government bureaucracy and let people decide for themselves how to use the money.
A nice idea, but since when has any plan actually allowed that to happen?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

That Old Fashioned Internet

Web nostalgia is real:
Some websites are purposely cumbersome to navigate, with loud, clip-art-filled pages. Others employ a simplistic Craigslist-style utilitarianism that feels like a throwback to an era when web pages were coded by hand.

“There’s a lot of animated GIFs and flames, but mixing it with something new,” Mr. Lee added.

While millennials and members of Generation Z — those born in the years from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s — may not remember what the web looked like in the era of AltaVista and GeoCities, the retro designs tap into the current cultural revival of all things ’90s. (See the return of “Twin Peaks,” “Will & Grace” and concert T-shirts.)

For those who are older, these sites recall the improvised internet of their youth, in the days before mobile optimization and beta-tested user interfaces brought a sleek uniformity to modern web design.
Of course, if you're really nostalgic, you can still see what it was really like back then:

The Long Stay-Cation

Some might call this a good thing:
A funny thing happened on the way to libertarian utopia. Indeed, it turns out that the GOP-controlled Congress can't seem to pass any meaningful laws at all. Either they have forgotten how, or the divisions in their own increasingly radicalized caucus are proving too difficult to surmount. Whatever the explanation, thus far these GOP legislators are on track to be the least productive group since at least the Civil War.

Now, okay, technically the Ryan-McConnell 115th Congress is so far actually a bit more active than recent Congresses, if you measure by the 43 laws that President Trump has adorned with his garish signature. Obama was at 40 at this point in 2009. George W. Bush had signed even fewer midway through 2001. But sheer number is not the best way to think about how much is being achieved. As The Washington Post's Philip Bump pointed out, a majority of the bills signed by Trump thus far have been one page long, meaning many are just symbolic or ceremonial.
If they don't want to work, perhaps voters should ask why we should hire them...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Don't Call It A Bribe

Brother, can you spare a vote?
The House-passed bill, otherwise known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), included an amendment known as the “Buffalo Bribe.” Rep. Chris Collins sponsored the measure to prevent state governments from forcing local counties to contribute to a state’s Medicaid program. The Buffalo bribe appeared in the Senate healthcare bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which would make the bill easier to pass in the House if the Senate passes it.

The BCRA, like the House’s AHCA, places per capita caps on Medicaid spending and winds down Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion after seven years. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) pushed for the revised BCRA to allow for exceptions to the caps on Medicaid spending in the event of an emergency, such as the Zika virus outbreak in Florida.

The Senate bill also changes the funding formula for hospitals based upon a state’s number of uninsured citizens, rather than the number of Medicaid enrollees that the original BCRA used. States that did not expand Medicaid such as Florida would benefit from this change.

Under the new BCRA, states that expanded Medicaid can now include their expanded population if they chose to block grant their Medicaid spending. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson lobbied the Senate leadership to include this change to Medicaid block grants.
One man's kickback is another's reward...

Who Cares About Hacking?

Not them:
Democrats have claimed that they deplore hacking and view cyberattacks as a dangerous frontier. Wasserman Schultz introduced an amendment Thursday aimed at blocking a “security clearance for any individual in a position in the Executive Office of the President, who is under a criminal investigation by a federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government.”

Yet the lawmaker has refused to fire Imran even after House law enforcement banned him from the network.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she wasn’t familiar with the issue.

“I haven’t followed that very closely,” she said. She shrugged at Wasserman Schultz’s continued employment of Imran, saying “there are plenty of people who are under investigation who still have their jobs.”
And many of them hold political office...

Social What?

What is this socialism thing of which you speak?

The Anti-Trump Stump

What does the Democratic Party stand for, if anything:
The poll found that Trump’s overall approval rating has dropped to 36 percent, down from 42 percent in April. His disapproval rating climbed five percentage points to 58 percent.

However, as the president’s poll numbers slip, Democrats are struggling to tell the American people what their core message is.

Just 37 percent of respondents said the Democratic Party stands for something, while 52 percent say the party mainly stands in opposition to Trump.

A majority of independent voters — 55 percent — said the Democratic party merely stands against the president. A majority of Democrats say their party stands for something, but over a quarter of Democrats — 27 percent — said the party mainly opposes Trump.

The vast majority of Republicans — 82 percent — said the Democrats just stand against Trump.
Standing for nothing is easier than standing for something most people wouldn't vote for...

No Treason Here

No, it wasn't treason, says Alan Dershowitz:
“If it were to be prosecuted, the First Amendment would trump. A candidate has the right to get information from whatever source the information comes. It’s very much like the New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers story or the Washington Post publishing information stolen by [Edward] Snowden and [Chelsea] Manning,” Dershowitz said. “You don’t prosecute the newspaper, they have a First Amendment right. And you don’t prosecute the candidate or the candidate’s son. They have a First Amendment right to get the material.”

Dershowitz explained that, legally speaking, you can only prosecute people who illegally obtain information, not people — even political candidates — who use illegally obtained information.

“So you can’t include information under the campaign finance law. That would be unconstitutional,” Dershowitz said.
Not that it matters to the anti-Trump fanatics...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

No Kids For The Welfare State

While environmentalists might claim that having kids is bad for the planet, having less of them also hurts another liberal sacred cow:
The causes of the declining birth rates and delays in childbearing are both economic and a result of changing societal roles for women, who have more career and educational opportunities than in the past. Southern California’s cost of living also continues to outpace wages, and owning or renting a house to start a family now often requires two household earners.

In California, what had been 20.4 seniors per 100 working-age residents in 2000 could climb to 28.6 in 2020, then to 38.3 in 2030, burdening old-age programs, the study found.
You can't have your welfare state and expect others who don't exist to eat it for you, too...

Pork For Play

Everybody still gets their share?
Trump’s proposed 2018 Budget would close the PTWC to reduce NTWC total staffing from 55 to 15, to save $12 million annually. Given its almost complete automation, staff reductions would still provide a minimum of two staff tsunami monitors 24-hours per day.

According to a recent “Downsizing the Federal Government” study, annual federal civilian compensation costs per worker average $123,160, or 76 percent more than the average of $69,901 private-sector compensation costs per worker. Civilian federal workers earn average wages of $86,365 and benefits of $36,795, whereas the 112 million private-sector workers earn average wages of $58,726 and $11,175 in benefits.

Federal employee unions have argued that government needs a high-end workforce. But the federal workforce has always been heavily populated by supposedly skilled professionals, such as lawyers.
I guess even they have to make a living-but why off our largess?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

State Of The State

Trump wants to remake the State Department:
Trump’s budget proposal would gut the State Department budget by as much as 30 percent. One of the areas hardest hit could be foreign aid, which has long been decried as a source of wasteful spending by nationalists — money that could be spent on rebuilding infrastructure at home rather than in faraway countries.

The Hill reports that the 30 percent number, which could be cut as much as half by budget negotiations in the House, has even former Republican administration officials spooked.

“We have never before seen a third of their budget potentially being eliminated,” Anita McBride, who worked in the Bush and Reagan administrations, told the outlet. “If we pull back too much and it affects the good work on the ground, those countries will see it as a reason to not invest as much as they should.”
It's our money and goodwill that's being spent. Sometimes I think these other countries forget that...

Have A Lawsuit And A Smile

Because people are dumb, or something:
The lawsuit alleges the two pastors have repeatedly tried to teach their congregations about the harmful effects of sugar, but have been stymied by Coca-Cola’s advertising.

“Pastor Lamar’s efforts to provide spiritual guidance to congregant families and the larger community regarding the hazards posed by sugarsweetened [sic] beverages are hampered by Defendants’ deceptive marketing, labeling, and sale of Coca-Cola’s sugar-sweetened beverages,” the complaint states.

“Faced with a growing scientific consensus linking sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, Defendants made numerous false and deceptive representations, including … sugar-sweetened beverages’ purported value as healthful sources of hydration for most consumers,” the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit.

Coca-Cola says the plaintiffs’ allegations are “factually meritless.”

“The allegations here are … legally and factually meritless, and we will vigorously defend against them,” Coca-Cola said in a statement.

The plaintiffs’ claims about Americans’ view of sugar is not supported by the available evidence. In fact, most surveys show people believe sugar to be harmful, but choose to consume it anyway.
Darn that freedom of choice...

Friday, July 14, 2017

What About Mike?

Where in the world is Mike Pence?
Despite the drama, Pence himself is keeping up appearances as an enthusiastic partner to Trump, using his Twitter account to demonstrate loyalty to the president as the Trump Jr. email controversy dominates headlines.

“Many Media & Dems will try to stop us but now more than ever we owe the American people to continue to deliver what @POTUS & I campaigned on,” Pence tweeted on Wednesday.

In another tweet, the vice president tweeted an image that said: “Thanks to the leadership of President Trump, we are in the midst of a great national renewal.”

As he sought to distance the vice president from the controversy involving Trump Jr., Pence’s spokesman also went out his way to express Pence’s allegiance to Trump.

“The vice president is working every day to advance the president's agenda, which is what the American people sent us here to do,” Lotter said.
For now, anyway...

The Not So Golden State Goose

Why even California Democrats are leery of single payer:
National Democrats — especially those from swing districts — are even more risk-averse than their counterparts in deep-blue California, and many of them would be similarly inclined to avoid voting on a measure that opponents could caricature as a budget-busting foray into “socialized medicine.” National Democrats also receive a lot of money from the health industry — $69 million in 2016 alone. If Democrats can’t pass single-payer in Sacramento, there’s little chance they could pass it in Washington, D.C.

Not that this will prevent more and more Dems from running on single-payer in the coming elections. After all, that’s what Democrats have been doing in California for decades now. In fact, if the party does win back Congress in 2018, legislators may even send a single-payer bill to Donald Trump’s desk, just as California Democrats did with Schwarzenegger. What the state’s latest single-payer skirmish shows, however, is that the calculus changes when it’s a Democrat who would have to sign such a bill into law.
Somebody always has to foot the bill...

Libertarianism Is Here

I blame the Lannisters:

Russians In The Green

Where there really are Russians:
Russian financing makes up a significant part of “a concerted effort by foreign entities to funnel millions of dollars through various non-profit entities to influence the U.S. energy market,” the congressmen assert in their letter.

They also reference public statements by European officials as well as the U.S. intelligence community declaring that “Russia and its government corporations are funding a covert anti-fracking campaign to suppress the widespread adoption of fracking in Europe and the U.S.—all in an effort to safeguard the influence of the Russian oil and gas sector.”

Along with statements from NATO officials, the congressmen also cite Wikileaks revelations suggesting that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was well aware of Russian efforts to subvert the U.S. energy sector by financing “phony environmental groups.”
Do you know where your environmentalism is coming from?

Special Subsidy Delivery

Why Amazon gets a government subsidy:
In 2007 the Postal Service and its regulator determined that, at a minimum, 5.5% of the agency’s fixed costs must be allocated to packages and similar products. A decade later, around 25% of its revenue comes from packages, but their share of fixed costs has not kept pace. First-class mail effectively subsidizes the national network, and the packages get a free ride. An April analysis from Citigroup estimates that if costs were fairly allocated, on average parcels would cost $1.46 more to deliver. It is as if every Amazon box comes with a dollar or two stapled to the packing slip—a gift card from Uncle Sam.
Postal favoritism is not a free market solution...

The Invisible Cuts

Whatever happened to tax cuts?
“We’re almost at the 200-day mark,” Meadows said during a “Conversations with Conservatives” event today on Capitol Hill. “It’s not a good story.”

Meadows said Republicans would not be able to pass a tax reform package if they wait to begin the legislative process in September.

“I think we may need to move it up sooner. If we are waiting until September that means we will not get tax reform, guys, if we’re waiting until September. You guys have all been around. If we wait until September that means that we get legislative text maybe in October, that means that we maybe get it out of here if it’s fast-tracked by the end of October, which means that it goes over to the Senate and it sits there,” Meadows said.

“There’s zero chance that gets enacted into law before the end of the year. I think the tax cut needs to be retroactive so we get the economy moving right away,” he added.
The problem with putting something away for another day is that another day comes soon enough...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Land Of Insolvency

There's enough risk to go around for everyone:
In many ways Illinois is simply the poster child for what is wrong with states. They are supposedly the providers of education, roads, parks, mass transit and public safety, among other services to their residents. But their real purpose in many instances has been to appease militant public sector labor unions.

Unions representing public workers have managed to persuade state agencies to reward them with gold-plated pension plans, and in some cases, retiree health care. These plans have been agreed to with little or no public input, or understanding by bureaucrats and lawmakers who know they will not around when the bills come due.

The most generous states are Alaska, California, Colorado and Nevada, where the average career worker pulls in more than $60,000 annually and many take in six figures. Those in the worst fiscal shape are Illinois, Kentucky, Connecticut, Alaska and Kansas.

What is most inexplicable about all of this is that progressive groups and progressive voters continue to support public sector unions even as make off with the family jewels.
Not really, since it's in the name of "redistribution..."

Looking For A Few Good Workers

Local businesses in Maine discover the need for American workers:
Because the H-2B visa program has already reached its annual quota, Bar Harbor’s hotels, restaurants and shops can’t bring in any more foreign workers for the rest of the busy summer tourist season. Like hundreds of similar coastal resort towns, Bar Harbor has for many years depended on the H-2B visas for temporary workers. The program allows non-agricultural companies to bring in foreign labor if they are unable to find suitable employees domestically.

Now they are coming up with creative ways to attract local labor, reports the Bangor Daily News.

The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce will hold a job fair Saturday in an effort to recruit significant numbers of workers from the region. Just about every kind of business in the town is looking for help, says chamber executive director Martha Searchfield.

“All types of businesses — retail, restaurants, the tour boats, all the trips, everything. All types of workers are needed,” she told the Daily News.
Especially those who actually want to work...

Travel Time

Trips for me, not for thee:
The FEC — which includes three commissioners each from Democratic and Republican parties — has withheld records related to 17 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed more than three years ago, according to an agency document obtained by TheDCNF. Of the 17, 10 have been pending for nearly four years, another will be five this year and the oldest turned six in June.

The requested documents span a variety of topics, ranging from communications regarding former FEC official Lois Lerner, the central figure in the IRS targeting scandal, to internal communications and commission policy documents.

Four unfulfilled requests, including the oldest, seek records related to FEC commissioners’ travel. These documents are especially relevant because of a recent report showing the Democratic members of the commission have taken at least 50 trips funded by foreign groups, governments and U.S. taxpayers since 2002.

Additionally, foreign groups funded overseas travel for Democratic FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub who recently proposed a plan to defend against foreign influence in U.S. elections following allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential contest, TheDCNF previously revealed.

None of the current Republican commissioners have taken such trips.
Maybe they didn't have as much to hide...

The Media Mystery Tour

They're all going to look for America:
Hadas Gold of Politico notes:

Starting in September, a traveling party of rotating HuffPost staff members led by editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen will visit more than 20 cities, eschewing the coasts for the likes of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Oxford, Mississippi and Odessa, Texas. At each city, the site will host events, roll out planned stories with local media outlets, send out reporters to write about the communities and collect stories from residents “in their own words.”

Through the trip, Gold adds, “HuffPost is seeking to reinforce its new, less partisan image.” However, the structure of the trip suggests that it is aimed more at connecting to liberal enclaves in the interior, rather than listening to the conservative views that prevail in “flyover country.” Editor-in-chief Lydia Poltgreen tells Politico that the trip aims to “report out the story of who we should be in the world,” as opposed (perhaps) to who Americans actually are.
I'm sure they'll be welcomed with open arms...

Special Guest Privileges

Who let the lawyer in?
The Moscow lawyer had been turned down for a visa to enter the U.S. lawfully but then was granted special immigration parole by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the limited purpose of helping a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, her client, defend itself against a Justice Department asset forfeiture case in federal court in New York City.

During a court hearing in early January 2016, as Veselnitskaya’s permission to stay in the country was about to expire, federal prosecutors described how rare the grant of parole immigration was as Veselnitskaya pleaded for more time to remain in the United States.

“In October the government bypassed 
the normal visa process and gave a type of extraordinary 
permission to enter the country called immigration parole,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Monteleoni explained to the judge during a hearing on Jan. 6, 2016.

“That's a discretionary act that the statute allows the attorney general to do in extraordinary circumstances. In this case, we 
did that so that Mr. Katsyv could testify. And we made the 
further accommodation of allowing his Russian lawyer into the 
country to assist,” he added.
Some Russians were more equal than others...

Don't Join The Club

Finally-Harvard bans...groups?
In explaining its reasoning, the committee cited the school’s “commitment to non-discrimination, inclusion, and a healthy social climate,” adding that the impact of the single-gender clubs “permeate[s] the fabric of campus culture.”

“As reflected in survey comments, these organizations directly and negatively influence the undergraduate experience for many students who are not themselves members of these organizations,” the committee’s report states. “The discriminatory practices of these organizations undermine our educational mission and the principles espoused by this faculty and distance their members from their college experience.”

The recommendation came from a committee created in March to determine whether new rules could make the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus more inclusive.

If the policy is adopted by administration, students will be barred from participating in any sororities, fraternities, or other “exclusionary social organizations.” Those who do join any such organization will face “disciplinary action” from the administrative board.

As Harvard’s student-run newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, astutely pointed out: “The committee’s recommendations will likely draw heavy criticism from both alumni and undergraduates in social groups, who have repeatedly attacked the existing policy as overreaching and unnecessary.”
They'd rather you experience their own groupthink instead...

Feeling The Bern, Again?

Sanders 2020?
Asked on SiriusXM Progress’ “Make It Plain With Mark Thompson,” if he is considering another run for the White House, Sanders replied, “I’m not taking it off the table.”

“I just have not made any decisions,” said Sanders, 75. “And I think it’s much too early.”

Sanders said he is currently focused on defeating President Donald Trump’s agenda.

“Our job right now is to not only fight against this disastrous health care proposal, it is to take on all of Trump’s reactionary proposals,” he said. “He is a representative of the billionaire class. He’s at war against the working class. We’ve got to raise the minimum wage right now, we’re working on that, to 15 bucks an hour. We have got to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. We’ve got to be aggressive on criminal justice reform.”
Well, his wife would certainly know about the criminal justice system...

Idiocy Appreciation Day

Traumatizing kids, because cows:
Kayla Leaming, an organizer for Direct Action Everywhere, stood by the violent demonstration. She told WTVT-TV that it was intended to push back against Cow Appreciation Day and highlight the cruelty of animal slaughter because, in her view, animals have the same rights as human beings.

The goal, she said, was to “show the reality” of what’s happening to animals slaughtered for food.

“We feel like [Cow Appreciation Day] was feeding into the speciesism that we’re trying to fight,” Leaming said. “Speciesism is basically just the idea that one life is more important than the other, simply because of the body they were born into.”
It is when you're hungry...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An Impeachable Moment?

Thus it begins?
The articles accuse Trump of violating “his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of president of the United States.” Trump “has prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice during a federal investigation,” Sherman’s resolution says.

Both chambers of Congress as well as a special prosecutor appointed by the Department of Justice are investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

The articles of impeachment introduced Wednesday accuse Trump of knowingly trying to shut down the FBI investigation of his campaign activities and firing former director James Comey as part of that effort.

“In all of this, Donald John Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States,” the articles read. “Wherefore, Donald John Trump, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.”
How far will this go? I suppose it depends on how crazy his colleagues are...

Socialist Two-Step

Brazil's former president is going to jail:
According to Moro’s ruling, Petrobras had significantly overpaid on multiple contractor projects over the years; the contractors would then give some the extra money back to politicians as a kickback to ensure that they would receive continued business. Lula, the ruling states, personally benefitted from this scheme, purchasing a luxury triplex apartment with the money.

The Brazilian magazine Veja reports that Moro and his team found that Lula personally had a hand in diverting 87 million reais, or about $26 million, in Petrobras funds.

“Upon assuming the office of the presidency of the Republic, Lula ordered the formation of a criminal scheme to divert public resources destined to illicitly enrich as well as ensure criminal perpetuation in power, buy parliamentary support, and finance expensive electoral campaigns,” the prosecution wrote in the case.

Lula, prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol concluded, was “the maestro of this grand orchestra.”
Socialists sure do love redistribution...

Unmade In Japan

Why are the Japanese having less kids?
Marriage has become a minefield of unattractive choices. Japanese men have become less career-driven, and less solvent, as lifetime job security has waned. Japanese women have become more independent and ambitious. Yet conservative attitudes in the home and workplace persist. Japan's punishing corporate world makes it almost impossible for women to combine a career and family, while children are unaffordable unless both parents work. Cohabiting or unmarried parenthood is still unusual, dogged by bureaucratic disapproval.
Of course, Japan isn't the only developed country undergoing a demographic as well as an existential crisis. But this one seems to have been self-inflicted.

Hey Joe...

Where you gonna run to now?

Losing The Russian Narrative

No more Russians for him:
Newsom said, “It doesn’t do anything for Democrats. At all. It’s not going to get one of our statehouses back.”

He added, “It’s a loser, and I don’t know what more evidence you need. I mean, at the end of the day, even if you game this thing out, you get rid of Trump, you’re left with a guy who’s out there talking about conversion therapy. It doesn’t do anything for the Democratic Party and our agenda. So, unless we deal with the issues of economic anxiety, cultural issues, in a substantive way and we get in the how business and we actually demonstrate with some acuity and strength a clear conviction in terms of the fate and future of this country, then we’re never going to take back these statehouses.”
Sounds like a man who doesn't want fake news to get in the way of any future plans...

Who Wants Obamacare?

The GOP saves Obamacare?
Obamacare regulations? Still here. Taxes? Many still in place, totaling hundreds of billions of dollars.

Insurance company bailouts? Those, too. Remember when Republicans complained about Obamacare’s risk corridors? Remember when we called the corridors nothing more than insurance company bailouts? I remember when one prominent GOP candidate during a presidential debate explicitly called out the Obamacare risk corridors as a bailout to insurance companies. Does anyone else?

Now, the Senate GOP plan being put forward is chock full of insurance bailout money – to the tune of nearly $200 billion. Republicans, present company excluded, now support the idea of lowering your insurance premium by giving a subsidy to the insurance company.

Remarkable. If the GOP now supports an insurance stabilization fund to lower insurance prices, maybe they now support a New Car stabilization fund to lower the price of cars. Or maybe the GOP would support an iPhone stabilization fund to lower the price of phones.

The possibilities are limitless once you accept that the federal government should subsidize prices. I remember when Republicans favored the free choice of the marketplace.
Of course, that was when they actually used to be conservative...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Worst Of The Fifty

Illinois can take some comfort in the fact that they're not alone when it comes to fiscal irresponsibility:
Kentucky and Maryland round out the top five fiscally mismanaged states. Illinois, New Jersey and Kentucky have been in the bottom five in recent years and are "consistently doing poorly," said Adam Millsap, a Mercatus researcher. "There's probably a case to be made that those three are in the worst shape."

On the other end of the spectrum, five red states can claim to be the best managed: Florida, the Dakotas, Utah and Wyoming.

The Mercatus Center's ranking takes into account not just states' ability to pay short-term bills and their ability to make long-run spending commitments, but also states' underfunded pensions and healthcare plans, a major problem facing many parts of the country. The ranking also considers whether the state would be able to provide new services if they are needed or if it's already overtaxed and financially stretched.
Unfortunately the latter seems to be happening...

The Email Chain Gang

Do the emails really tell the tale?
The meeting took place on June 9, 2016. In addition to Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, attended. Trump Jr. forwarded the email chain to both Manafort and Kushner before the meeting.

Trump Jr. has said that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, did not have the promised opposition research and instead arranged the meeting to press for changes on a U.S. policy that restricts adoptions of Russian children.

But the emails reveal new details about how the meeting at Trump Tower in New York came to be and show that Trump Jr. appeared eager to receive damaging information on Clinton obtained by the Russian government.

The messages are likely to come under scrutiny from federal and congressional investigators probing Russia’s 2016 election interference and whether any Trump associates colluded with the effort.
Opposition research? Clearly nobody's ever done that before...

Return Of The Campaign King

The eternal campaigner returns:
Obama will be attending a fundraiser at a private home in Washington, D.C. hosted by former Attorney General Eric Holder, and that will be attended by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is proud to have the support of President Obama as we work to undo gerrymandering and create fairer representation in our democracy,” Holder said, according to Politico.

Holder is currently leading the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

According to Politico, Obama is expected to make his return to the campaign trail in the fall, on behalf of Ralph Northam, who is running for governor in Virginia. Northam is part of the “anti-Trump” and “resist” movement.

The fundraiser is reportedly a small, private event and is the only political event currently on Obama’s schedule. It will focus on redistricting efforts that are in tow with the Democratic Party’s plans to mobilize at state levels in order to secure Obama’s already hindered legacy.
I'm sure he'll "help" them all he can...

Under The Table Taxes

Are California Democrats trying to pull the wool over voters' eyes?
Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), who is leading the repeal effort and is running for governor in 2018, told the Times that “almost everything” in Becerra’s description of the referendum was misleading.

The battle over language is only the latest controversy in the fight over the gas tax. Democrats are trying to change the rules for recall elections to protect State Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), who voted for the gas tax. (The Wall Street Journal accused them of “rigging the recall rules” to move the election from this fall to next June, when Democratic turnout is expected to be higher.) Democrats are also trying to remove campaign finance restrictions on legislators so that they can donate unlimited amounts of money to Newman’s effort to defend his seat in the recall. And Democrats are suing members of the California College Republicans who gathered signatures for the recall, alleging that the students misled voters by telling them that recalling Newman would mean repealing the gas tax.
It depends on what the meaning of "repeal" is...

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Anti-College Try

Higher education isn't what it's cracked up to be:
Pew found that fifty-eight percent of Republicans viewed college education negatively, while 36 percent of GOP voters saw these institutions positively.

Democrats, on the other hand, overwhelmingly viewed higher education favorably, with 72 percent of the party’s self-described voters having a positive opinion of it. Only 19 percent of Democrats had a negative view of higher education, according to Pew.

The prestigious research firm said that Republican views on college have dramatically changed over a short period of time. In just two years, the number of Republicans who positively viewed higher education declined from 54 percent to 36 percent, Pew reports.

The study also reported that self-described conservative Republicans were more likely to suspiciously view college education — 65 percent versus 58 percent for all GOP voters.

Pew didn’t offer reasons for why the sudden change in Republican views of higher education, but it is possibly due in part to greater attention toward the left-wing excesses on campus that have shut down conservative speech and pushed progressive views on students.
They don't need no thought control...

Sanders Land

Mrs. Sanders goes to court?
The federal investigation is focused on actions by Jane Sanders in 2010, when she was president of Burlington College.

At the time, she sought a multi-million dollar loan for a new campus on 33 acres along Lake Champlain. Sanders reportedly told college trustees and bank lenders that the college had millions of dollars in donations that could be used to repay the loan.

But The Washington Post reported Monday that trustees said they discovered many of the donors had not agreed to the amounts or the timing of donations listed in materials Mrs. Sanders provided.
If you're going to swindle someone, at least have something for collateral...

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Chocolate Madness

Rise of the chocolate heads?
This suspect product has no clear health value,” he said in a statement. “I can’t think of a single parent who thinks it is a good idea for their children to be snorting over-the-counter stimulants up their noses.”

Marketed as “raw cacao snuff,” Coco Loko includes cacao powder, which comes from beans used in making chocolate; they contain some caffeine. Manufacturer Legal Lean Co. doesn’t detail other ingredients online, but according to news reports, Coco Loko also includes common energy-drink ingredients.

It promises feelings of well-being, mental focus, ecstasy-like euphoria and a rush of “motivation that is great for partygoers to dance the night away without a crash,” according to Orlando, Florida-based Legal Lean’s website. It notes that the claims haven’t been vetted by the FDA.

The agency has said it hasn’t yet determined whether it has authority to regulate snortable chocolate.
Well, chocolate is the ultimate evil...

The Lawyers Are Coming

The NY Times uncovers...another nothingburger?
The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has reportedly been fighting the Magnitsky Act — an American law that blacklists Russian human rights abusers and triggered Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt American adoptions of Russian children.

In a statement to the Times, Trump Jr. said the “short” meeting involved discussion of “a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”

Circa also reported that the meeting was short, lasting only 20 minutes. The outlet also reported that the president’s legal team believe the meeting may have been part of an election-year opposition effort to create the appearance of “improper connections” between Trump and Russia.
Or, it may have just been exactly what they said it was about. Next?

New Kid In Town

Kamala who?
“She’s not on our radar,” RoseAnn DeMuro, a supporter of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, told the New York Times about Harris’ potential White House run. “She’s one of the people the Democratic Party is putting up. In terms of where the progressives live, I don’t think there’s any ‘there’ there.” DeMuro heads National Nurses United, as well as the California Nurses Association.

Veteran Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein also appeared to distance herself from supporting the rising senator.

“She just got here,” Feinstein said. “What she should do is concentrate on being a good, and possibly a great, United States senator. The rest will either happen or not happen.”
Wait your turn, they said...

Bullies Never Prosper

She may finally be fired:
Mizzou officials are currently implementing a round of massive budget cuts and approximately 400 layoffs in the face of a projected 7.4 percent plunge in student enrollment and a $14.7 million state funding cut.

Basler’s name, photo and contact information no longer appear among the staff members in the student life section of the public school’s website.

A cached version of the same webpage from late June 2017 shows Basler — Dr. Janna Basler — listed first and foremost among Mizzou’s student life staffers. Basler had been the assistant director for Greek life at the time of the protests. (After getting suspended for over a month for her actions in 2015, she managed an impressive promotion to senior associate director for Greek life.)

On Thursday, Mizzou’s top brass announced a merger of its department of students of affairs and its division of operations as part of a larger plan to cope with new budget realities.
How far they fall, when it comes down to dollars and some common sense...

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Hawaiian Noises

The 9th Circuit (yes, that (th Circuit) sort of has a broken clock moment:
The Ninth Circuit ruled that Hawaii should have asked Judge Watson to modify his previous injunction halting the Executive Order on March 15 (partially overturned by the Supreme Court on June 26) instead of asking for him to “clarify” the Supreme Court’s decision.

In order to obtain a temporary partial victory in the matter, the state of Hawaii could now appeal the current 9th Circuit decision directly to the Supreme Court–which could issue a ruling even though it is not in session if Justice Kennedy, who has that authority, chooses to act alone on behalf of SCOTUS.

Each court of appeals is under the supervision of a justice. Kennedy is the circuit justice for the Ninth Circuit. One of the things a circuit justice can do solo is to stay any appellate decision from his circuit.

Alternatively, it could follow the Ninth Circuit’s advice, file a new motion with Judge Watson, and hope for a favorable ruling, which would likely be appealed by the Department of Justice to the Ninth Circuit, whose ruling would be appealed to the Supreme Court again by the losing party.
Given the current Court, that may or may not happen...

The Declining News Network

CNN is losing to...Yogi Bear:
While Fox News and MSNBC continue to dominate cable news ratings, CNN last week dropped to 13th in the overall cable ratings competition, according to TVNewser. The ratings were average primetime ratings captured between June 26 and July 2.

Fox News dominated with an average of more than 1.8 million viewers, while MSNBC trailed with 1.34 million viewers. CNN, on the other hand, only averaged a mere 711,000 viewers.

Networks like HGTV, TLC, ESPN, USA, FX, the History channel, the Discovery channel and others topped CNN.

The ratings didn’t include the fallout over CNN’s apparent threat to dox the Reddit user. Doxing is what happens when someone exposes the personal identity of an internet user for malicious purposes.

However, a number of incidents last month likely contributed to the ratings fall.
When you race to the bottom, there's nowhere else but down...

Friday, July 07, 2017

Fake News Gets Sort Of Real

They're just jealous they didn't think of this first:
Maddow was sent the document on June 7, two days after The Intercept published its report. McDaniel did not say when BuzzFeed received its forgery.

Maddow noted on her show that the document she received appeared to be based on the document leaked to The Intercept.

McDaniel said that the tipster initially accidentally sent a copy of The Intercept document. After the outlet followed up, the person sent the same document that was given to Maddow.

He said that BuzzFeed will not publish the document “because we don’t want anyone to manipulate it further.”

McDaniel’s characterization of the forgery is notably different from Maddow’s.

Whereas McDaniel said that the document was “not a well done forgery,” Maddow called it “a fairly convincing fake.”

“Somebody, for some reason, appears to be shopping a fairly convincing fake NSA document that purports to directly implicate somebody from the Trump campaign in working with the Russians in their attack in the election,” Maddow said.

“This is news,” she said, “because: why is someone shopping a forged document of this kind to news organizations covering the Trump-Russia affair?”
Because before CNN's meltdown you would have accepted it?

Silicon Valley, WTF?

Seriously, WTF?
WTF, which currently has six employees and “additional backing” from former Walt Disney Studios Chairman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and venture capitalists Fred Wilson and Sunil Paul, is reportedly Pincus’ solution to a Democratic Party that is “already moving too far to the left.”

According to Recode, Pincus wants the group to be “pro-social, pro-planet, and pro-business.”

“I just don’t feel respected in the political process as a large donor or as a citizen voter,” expressed Pincus in an interview. “I just feel patronized. Everything I get is like, ‘Hey, you couldn’t possibly, it’s too complex and sophisticated what really goes on,’ and ‘Hey, leave it to us, and we will go and represent you and fight the good fight, and just give us money.’”

In their article, Vanity Fair remained unconvinced with the group’s pitch.

“While the Democratic Party may be in need of reform, the Silicon Valley vision for a millennial-friendly upgrade seems fatally flawed,” proclaimed writer Maya Kosoff. “At a time when the culture seems fed up with Silicon Valley navel-gazing, Win the Future brings to the table the worst aspects of the tech industry: the arrogance to think that politics can be ‘hacked’; the hubris to think that they are the one to overhaul it; and a total misunderstanding of the system they’re trying to disrupt.”
Who wants nerd money? Anyone?

The West Is Still the Best

Some are upset at Trump's defense of Western civilization:
Peter Beinart, writing in The Atlantic, asserted: “The West is a racial and religious term.” He added: “To be considered Western, a country must be largely Christian (preferably Protestant or Catholic) and largely white.”

Therefore, he said, Trump’s speech was racist, because some Europeans are Muslim, and some nations that have embraced democracy or modernity are outside the West’s geographic boundaries. “India is the world’s largest democracy. Japan is among its most economically advanced nations. No one considers them part of the West,” he noted.

In addition, Beinart also claimed that Trump’s statement that “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” a climax of the speech, “only makes sense as a statement of racial and religious paranoia.”

Binary’s commentary drew some ridicule on Twitter, with historian Niall Ferguson calling it “a masterclass in willful misreading of a speech,” and conservative Charles C. W. Cooke adding: “Trump finally makes a full-throated defense of NATO—is that code for “white people” too?—and this is the response? We’ve lost our minds.”
Go west, old liberals...

No Repeal, No Reform

Why are some Republicans still trying to save the Obamacare tax?
GOP lawmakers have floated keeping ObamaCare’s 3.8 percent net investment income tax to help pay for more generous healthcare subsidies for low-income people. Democrats criticized an earlier version of the Senate’s healthcare bill for eliminating the tax because it generally applies to high earners.

But prominent conservatives argue Democrats will criticize the bill regardless of what happens with the tax. They say the tax is harmful to economic growth and should be repealed.

“This tax, just like any tax increase, is an anathema to conservatives as it suppresses economic growth and opportunity throughout our nation,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement Wednesday. “Under no circumstances should the NIIT be included in any forthcoming Republican ‘repeal’ bill.”
Sometimes the glass isn't half full...

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Lost Party

Democrats struggle onward:
"The Democratic Party got fundamentally repositioned much farther to the left and out-of-touch with working class voters," Penn said. "Working class voters really want to see the values of hard work, family, religion as a strong part of a party that they can support for economic progress. And I think that they got left behind."

Figaro said the problem isn't that Democrats have lost their message, but that they lack the right messenger.

"Until we change the messenger of the message, we're just delivering more of the same," she said, arguing that messenger should not be someone like Hillary Clinton.

Penn pointed out that nearly three-quarters of Americans identify as moderate or conservative, while only approximately 27 percent identify as liberal. He argued that Democrats should cater to those moderate and conservative voters with a strong pro-growth economic agenda.

"The Democratic Party has got to bridge the gap here," Penn said. "Democrats could get back to winning if they combine the kind of zeal and passion for equality with a pro-growth economic policy. Let's bring back that kind of economic policy we saw with President Kennedy, we saw with President Clinton."
It's the message, stupid...

Ethical Leakage

Bad ethics? Or just sour grapes?
After Trump made it clear in January he would not sell off his global business empire to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, Shaub spoke out. He said Trump's plan to retain financial interests in the Trump Organization while handing over leadership to his adult sons and a senior executive "doesn't meet the standards" of Trump's own Cabinet nominees and four decades of previous presidents.

Since then, the OGE has unsuccessfully asked the White House to punish a senior adviser to the president over inappropriately promoting Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

Shaub will join the Campaign Legal Center, an organization in Washington that mostly focuses on violations of campaign finance law, according to the nonprofit’s Twitter.
Maybe he could ask Hillary or Obama about their ethical standards...

Sharing The Basic Wealth

Mark Zuckerberg embraces free money:
“We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

In his recent Facebook post, Zuckerberg discussed his trip around America to visit all 50 states and specifically his time in Alaska. Zuckerberg praised the Alaskan social security system which provides residents with a yearly check from the Permanent Dividend Fund, a $52-billion fund comprised mostly of oil revenues. Residents receive approximately $1,000 to $2,000 a year from this fund. This system, while not exactly a universal basic income plan, stood out to Zuckerberg as an approach that he believes “may be a lesson for the rest of the country.”
As a state model, maybe. Nationwide? Who pays for the income in the end?

Endless Summer

The do-nothing party?
"Republicans, their deal with America was: If you give us the House of Representatives, we can play defense; if you give us the Senate, we can play a little bit offense; you give us the House, the Senate, and the presidency and we can actually get things done," Chaffetz said Wednesday night on Fox News. "And so here we are seven months into it and they haven’t even passed a bill yet."
Chaffetz also revealed that before Trump became president, Republican leadership pledged to have an ObamaCare repeal and replace bill on his desk by the time he was sworn in.
"I was the chairman, and we were told in November and December, that, hey, we are going to front-load the schedule into January so that by the time the president is sworn in and it is President Trump, he will have a bill sitting on his desk," Chaffetz said. "And I can tell you, there is a great deal of frustration in both the House and the Senate that there is not yet a bill because it really feels like they haven’t yet gotten together and figured out a plan.”
"We have been talking about it for seven years, and here we are turning the corner into July, and you still can't point to a single thing that will unite us," Chaffetz complained.
Voters may unite against them, however...

Fake News Feels The Heat

Turnabout is fair play:
“Frustrated by our critics’ double standards,” a CNN insider said on condition of anonymity. “Frustrated that CNN staffers’ private information is being published in ‘retaliation’ — when the network made the decision to not out the Reddit user. Frustrated by the speed in which misinformation, lies and hate spreads. Frustrated that POTUS’s son has no accountability.”

Some CNN employees are taking steps to protect themselves, but details are hush-hush as revealing them could jeopardize employing safety measures in the first place.
Those who live by the leak, die by the leak...

The Show Me Salary

Missouri becomes the latest state to lower its minimum wage:
“Our state needs more private sector paychecks and bigger private sector paychecks,” Greitens said in a statement. “Politicians in St. Louis passed a bill that fails on both counts: it will kill jobs, and despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people’s pockets.”

The move comes on the heels of a study that found that Seattle’s minimum wage hike actually hurt the people it was supposed to help, costing minimum wage workers an average of $125 per month, or $1,500 per year.

The St. Louis city government had passed a law raising its minimum wage to $11 starting in January 2017, but the new state law would nullify that increase as well, according to Fox 2 Now St. Louis.
The wages of economic reality...

Anyone For Taxes?

It seems not that many were interested:
Hammered by the opposition for slashing taxes and going on a spending spree with the country’s oil money, the center-right government has hit back with a bold proposal: voluntary contributions.

Launched in June, the initiative has received a lukewarm reception, with the equivalent of just $1,325 in extra revenue being collected so far, according to the Finance Ministry. That’s not much for a country of 5.3 million people, many of whom are already accustomed to paying some of the highest taxes in the world (the top rate of income tax is 46.7 percent).

“The tax scheme was set up to allow those who want to pay more taxes to do so in a simple and straightforward way,” Finance Minister Siv Jensen said in an emailed comment. “If anyone thinks the tax level is too low, they now have the chance to pay more.”
At least they were given a choice...

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The Stay At Homes

Americans aren't fleeing North after all:
The figures don't include Americans who have moved to the country in the hope of becoming permanent residents, or those who already live there.

However, the statistics do suggest that, overall, the numbers of Americans trying to become Canadian are trending down.

From 2007-2014, the yearly average of Americans applying for Canadian citizenship was 5,712; in 2015 and 2016 the country had 3,168 and 3,623 applicants, respectively.

Canada's immigration website did crash around the time of the 2016 election, but that may not be because of horrified Americans looking to flee north.
People don't seem to be as scared of Trump as they were of Obama. What does that say about the Obama years?

From Blackmail To Blackball

CNN steps in it again:
In a statement, Matt Dornic, a spokesman for the network, said that “CNN decided not to publish the name of the Reddit user out of concern for his safety,” and that “any assertion that the network blackmailed or coerced him is false.”

The user apologized and deleted his Reddit account before speaking with Mr. Kaczynski, the statement said.

“CNN never made any deal, of any kind, with the user,” Mr. Dornic said. “In fact, CNN included its decision to withhold the user’s identity in an effort to be completely transparent that there was no deal.”
Just the threat of one...

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Fakers Gotta Fake

The fake news has no clothes:
The relationship between Trump and the news media regularly hits new lows, with insults flying between the two camps and reporters warning that the president is inciting violence against journalists.

But Trump’s allies on the right believe the president’s claims that the mainstream media is “fake news” have been bolstered by recent missteps. They point to recent admissions from top news outlets — including CNN, the New York Times and the Associated Press — that bombshell stories were either overcooked or included incorrect details.

Adding insult to injury: Breitbart News, the pro-Trump media outlet that is scorned by many in the mainstream press, has been fact-checking their mainstream counterparts with some success.
Oh the horror of having to admit that there is fake news after all...

Le God Of France

He is their god now?
Summoning over 900 politicians from both houses of the French parliament to a rare Congress at the palace of Louis XIV – the ‘Sun King’ – in Versailles.

Such assemblies are usually reserved for times of national crisis, but the former banker used his to threaten to overrule lawmakers with a referendum if they try to frustrate the “reforms” he wishes to impose on the legislature.

Reuters reports him as saying he desires to reign as a “Jupiterian” president – “a remote, dignified figure, like the Roman god of gods, who weighs his rare pronouncements carefully”.
Careful, France, he might smite you...

Self Destruction Is Not An Option

When you've lost Dennis Kucinich:
“It’s a political statement, not a medical statement,” said Kucinich, a Fox News contributor. “I think it’s destroying the party as an effective opposition.”

He continued, “People want political parties to be focused on America’s economic needs, jobs, wages, heath care, education, retirement security and peace -- and they want American politicians to be constructive, not destructive.”

Kucinich speculated that some in his party are having a tough time trying to “reconcile” the results of the November election with their own politics but called for lawmakers to find common ground.

“What’s happening here is not good for the country,” Kucinich said.
Mental illness never is...

Monday, July 03, 2017

An Equal Opportunity Revolution

When everyone's poor, everyone revolts:
Residents in neighborhoods like La Candelaria, blocks from the presidential Miraflores Palace, erect barricades and yell slogans against Maduro’s government, banging pots and pans from inside their homes. They’re increasingly demanding a change in government, infuriated by mismanagement and Maduro’s proposed constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution -- and perhaps seize total control.

“Everyone protests, without differences, because the hunger of the stomach and the hunger for democracy have been united,” said Carlos Julio Rojas, a La Candelaria activist who has been menaced by pro-government militants called colectivos. He said that opposition activists have been joined at protests by government supporters, public employees, housewives and the unemployed.
The Revolution continues to eat itself...

The Secret Of His Success

Liberals, be warned-President Trump might actually be successful:
Niall Ferguson, a British historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California, said in May: “I think one of the things Guardian readers, and their counterparts on the American coasts, don’t want to think about is the possibility that despite his obvious ineptitude, Trump might actually be successful.

“I said last summer to a bunch of liberal friends: ‘Your worst nightmare is not a Trump presidency; it’s a successful Trump presidency.’ The successful Trump presidency scenario is one in which, despite it all, the economy does better thanks to deregulation and tax cuts, foreign policy delivers some big wins on North Korea, the Middle East.

“It doesn’t take an awful lot for a president to start looking good. If the expectations start really low, which they have done, it may be one win, and I definitely don’t rule out a kind of ‘success in spite of himself’ scenario. And then you begin to wonder if a left-of-Clinton Democrat in 2020 would be blown away. We’ll see. The fun thing about doing history is you really can’t tell at this point which way it will go. It could quite easily go Jimmy Carter and he could be a lame duck.”
Right now, it seems to be the media that looks lame...

Sunday, July 02, 2017

When Tax Cuts Are Bad?

Why some Republicans are now abandoning the tax cut mantra:
With the federal deficit growing and economic growth sputtering along in the low single digits, the Republican Party is facing questions from within over what many see as a blind faith in the theory that deep tax cuts are the shot of economic adrenaline a languid economy needs.

“Tax cuts — good. And that’s about as much thinking that goes into it,” said Chris Buskirk, a radio host and publisher of American Greatness, a conservative online journal. Now, he said, Republicans in Washington seem to be in an arms race to the lowest rates possible.

“Everybody is trying to overbid each other,” Mr. Buskirk said. “How much more can we cut?”
When does not enough become too much?

Whatcha Gonna Do?

So the media is now outraged at being body slammed:
While many of the president’s supporters online reacted to the video with humor, the consensus among journalists seemed to be that Trump was inciting violence against the media.

“It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters,” CNN said in a statement responding to the tweet.
For the record, here's the original event in question:

New Order In The Court

How Gorsuch is changing the Supremes:
The problem isn’t so much Justice Gorsuch’s judicial ideology, which is so far unsurprising. Presidents choose justices who they believe will rule in a way that aligns with their own views, and right-wing groups had long ago flagged Justice Gorsuch as a reliable conservative. He would surely have been a top choice of many Republican presidents. The problem is that he’s sitting in the seat that by rights should be occupied by Judge Garland. Had Mr. Garland been confirmed, the court would have had a majority of Democratic-appointed justices for the first time in almost half a century.

Instead, the court is back to a Republican-appointed majority, the consequences of which will only become more apparent next term, when the court is scheduled to hear high-profile cases involving partisan gerrymandering, Mr. Trump’s travel ban and religiously based challenges to anti-discrimination laws that protect same-sex couples.

The conservative majority will grow even stronger if more justices retire during Mr. Trump’s term, a very good possibility. At that point, the president and Senate Republicans — who destroyed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in order to confirm Justice Gorsuch — will be able to put anyone they like on the court.
And so could a liberal President with a majority. But at least Gorsuch seems interested in actually following the law.

Desperate Times

How notto save a bankrupt state:
An appropriations amendment passed the Illinois House 90-25, with 23 Republican votes. It must still be read a third time and passed. From there, it needs Illinois Senate approval. Lawmakers are being summoned back into session Saturday.

There’s still a long path to a resolution. Democrats must drum up support not only for the spending plan, but also for a politically unpopular revenue measure. There’s also a need for a measure to pay the state’s $14.7 billion backlog of unpaid bills.

Saturday marks the first day of a new fiscal year — meaning the state will enter its third straight year without a budget. But there were notes of optimism on Friday.

“We’re close. We’re close. But again, I need to be able to sell it to my caucus and look at it as a whole,” Durkin said en route to his second meeting with the speaker, noting the plan needs to include cuts, reforms and revenue.
So close, and yet so far left to fall...

The Sanders Way

Bad form, Mrs. Sanders:
Judicial Watch now reports that the parcel of land that Jane Sanders eyed for the college’s expansion included a group home for disabled people. Part of the deal was that she negotiate the transfer of the residents before the college took the property.
However, the watchdog reports that she tried to kick them out of their home instead. The report cites a letter to the group’s attorney in which she says, “It is simply not fair to expect the College to continue to carry the burden of the expenses associated with housing both your population and ours until February 2012.”

Judicial Watch claims that the letter is a sign not only of “Jane’s heartlessness, but also her incompetence as the college president for not ensuring the negotiated transfer of those disabled people before the school took over the property.”

The group was eventually moved out after being served eviction papers by the Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Mrs. Sanders told a Vermont weekly that she was not the bad guy.

“We are not trying to be the bad guys here,” she told Seven Days in 2011. “We have always said that we’d be helpful and we’d try to help them as they found a new home — and we have. At first, we agreed to delay for one semester, and even that was pushing it for us. Six months beyond that is not realistic.”
Somebody had to be sacrificed in order for the Sanders to maintain their lifestyle...

Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Twitter Coup?

As the Russian investigation fails to produce a real scandal, some Democrats are getting desperate:
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) earlier this year introduced a bill that proposes to create a congressional “oversight” panel to investigate whether or not Trump is “incapacitated.” If the panel declares Trump mentally unable to carry out the duties of his office, then they can remove him from office.

Except there’s only one caveat: they would need Vice President Mike Pence’s approval.

The 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967 in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and several other medical crises with prior presidents. The amendment establishes the presidential line-of-succession, procedures for filling a vice presidential vacancy and what to do when the president becomes “incapacitated.”

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows a majority of the president’s Cabinet, along with the vice president, to determine the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties,” then provide that determination in writing to Congress resulting in the president being dismissed from office. This is the only section of the 25th Amendment that has never been used.

But Raskin’s bill highlights some largely overlooked language in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. In addition to a majority of the president’s Cabinet, the amendment also allows a majority of Congress to reach the same conclusion to remove the president — along with the vice president’s approval, still.

In either of these cases, once the president is determined to be “incapacitated,” the vice president immediately becomes acting president.
Be careful what you wish for...

The Wages Of Internship

Some workers are more equal than others:
According to the study, congressional interns must pay roughly $6,000 in costs related to living in the expensive Washington, D.C., area to serve members of Congress, making it extremely difficult for lower-income Americans, no matter how talented, to pursue a congressional internship.

“The cost of interning on the Hill in unpaid positions diminishes the chances for students of color and low-income students to access the intern-to-staffer pipeline, but paid positions help offset the lack of diversity,” the authors wrote.

The authors note many full-time congressional staff positions, especially entry-level jobs, require having previously served as a congressional intern.
Not that working for congress is worth that much to begin with...

Son Of Fake News

The AP follows CNN's lead:
This time, the Associated Press invented an imaginary meeting between EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, and then alleged that some kind of impropriety happened as a result.

This is exactly the same mistake CNN made a week ago, when it alleged that Anthony Scaramucci—the founder of SkyBridge Capital and an associate and ally of President Donald Trump—held “meetings” with Russian investment fund leaders and was under investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee and Treasury Department as a result.

A Breitbart News investigation uncovered that no such “meetings” took place, the Senate Intelligence Committee was not investigating the matter, and the Treasury Department had already—at the urging of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to now Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before Trump’s inauguration—looked into it and determined the matter to be entirely “without merit.”
There's more than enough fake news to go around for everyone...

Friday, June 30, 2017

Who Killed Illinois?

The Illinois death spiral continues:
After two years without a budget, many people who depend on state services — public university students, drug addicts, troubled teenagers, the elderly — have already felt the repercussions.

Continue reading the main story

mjb 1 hour ago
It is really too bad that state governments cannot go into receivership.Reagan started this with his anti-government ideology mantras. ...
You Got It Wrong 1 hour ago
Typical. You say Madigan objects to the "budget" being attached to Rauner's proposals. Wrong. A balanced budget here cannot be written...
Tim Garibaldi 1 hour ago
What's interesting about the level of dysfunction is that we are also there in the US Congress. One would hope that once the dysfunction...
But perhaps the most peculiar part of this endless budget standoff has been the opposite: Life has gone on uninterrupted for many residents. Because of court orders and other stopgap measures, state workers were paid. Schools opened. Prisons functioned. Roads were built. After a while, some people seemed to grow inured to the risks and consequences of a budget deadlock.

“This impasse has been very cleverly designed to minimize the immediate obvious impact on middle-class families that don’t have a need for state-funded social services,” said Andrea Durbin, the chief executive of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, an association for providers of youth and family services.

“The people who get impacted are the people who are sick, who need the support from the state to be safe and healthy and get back on their feet and become self-sufficient, or to live their final days in dignity,” Ms. Durbin said.
Too bad the same can't be said for the state...

Don't Call It A Loan

Bernie Sanders insists his wife isn't a crook:
Sanders’ wife is accused of falsifying the loan application while serving as President of the Burlington College to secure funds for a campus expansion. The college only generated an annual endowment of $4 million, and it inevitably went bankrupt. Jane Sanders hired two high-priced attorneys last week from Washington to represent her in the case. The media largely ignored the issue during last year’s presidential primary, but The Daily Caller News Foundation closely followed the situation in March 2015.

Hayes confirmed that Bernie Sanders and his wife had retained legal counsel, and asked point blank if he had abused his senatorial power to obtain the loan.

“And do you know where that allegation came from? That allegation came from the vice-chairman of the Vermont Republican party and Donald Trump’s Vermont campaign state director,” Bernie Sanders replied. “That is an absolute lie.”
Until it's proven otherwise...

Blue Spending Blues

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