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Showing posts from 2017

Some Media Are More Equal Than Others

When snobs attack:Schumer said, “Here is the greatest thing I worry about this country, we are no longer fact based. The Founding Fathers created a country based on fact. Then we debated the facts. We debate them at the constitutional convention. We debate them in town hall throughout America. We are supposed to debate them in the legislature. We don’t have a fact base if, say, Breitbart News and The New York Times are regarded with equal credibility, you worry about this democracy.”I worry about this democracy when a politician defends fake news...

Le Sore Loser

A French mayor lets his constituents know how he feels:“It is catastrophic,” Mr. Delomez said. “It’s possible that I will step down as I do not want to dedicate my life to arseholes.”

Far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon came in distant second in the town with 19.25 per cent and came fourth overall in the race. Mélenchon’s policies were highly controversial amongst the wealthy of France after he called for a 90 per cent tax rate on anyone making over €400,000 a year. Some elites even spoke of leaving the country if Mélenchon had made it to the presidency.

“I was annoyed that so many people could vote FN,” Delomez said. He told media that he initially voted for Mélenchon, but would now switch his vote to pro-globalist candidate Macron in the second round of the French presidential elections on 7 May. Delomez said that he intends to present his resignation after discussing the matter with his political group in the local council on Tuesday.Public meltdowns have the habit of making you radioacti…

Forward Rail Pass

Is there a place for high speed rail after all?In a Las Vegas Review-Journal story, the paper cited the impending arrival of the Raiders, along with the Trump administration’s pledge to spend on infrastructure, as reasons for the revival of a once-thought doomed project:

The recently completed investment grade ridership and revenue forecast study completed by Southern California’s High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority reiterated what longtime Las Vegas developer Tony Marnell has suspected all along — that there would be significant demand for the XpressWest high-speed rail project linking Southern California with Las Vegas he wants to build.

President Donald Trump’s desire to invest in infrastructure projects, the favorable ridership study and a new reason for Southern Californians to make quick trips to Las Vegas in a few years — NFL football games, concerts and other special events — add up to new hope to press forward on the $7 billion rail project that has been under consider…

Flotation Device

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Doesn't Delta have enough problems?

Working Class Guardian?

Chris Pratt runs afoul of Hollywood's defenders after criticizing Hollywood:The “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” star said today’s polarizing political climate is keeping people from relating to one another. Pratt, who is from Washington state but now lives in Los Angeles, dared to suggest he could help bridge those differences, since he doesn’t feel he fits neatly into either established political side.

“I really feel there’s common ground out there that’s missed because we focus on the things that separate us,” he told the magazine. “You’re either the red state or the blue state, the left or the right. Not everything is politics. And maybe that’s something I’d want to help bridge because I don’t feel represented by either side.”

But Pratt was met with backlash almost immediately after Men’s Fitness published his comments.
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Pratt responded on Twitter to the Marie Claire piece, writing: “That was actually a pretty stupid thing to say. I’ll own that. There’s a ton of movies ab…

Here's Not Looking At You

The eyes have it?The university’s “Equality and Diversity Unit” recently informed students and staff that “not speaking directly to people” is a form of “subtle racism” and “racial micro-aggression” that can lead to “mental ill health,” according to the Telegraph, which is published in London.

The information was included in the school’s Trinity term newsletter, which also informed students and staff that asking someone where they’re “originally” from is another form of racism because it implies they aren’t British.

“Sometimes called ‘micro-aggressions,’ subtle everyday racism can appear trivial,” the newsletter said, according to the Independent. “But repeated micro-aggressions can be tiring and alienating (and can lead to mental ill health).So can political correctness...

Not Their Party

Who says their party is out of touch?The national poll found that 62 percent of respondents feel the Republican Party is out of touch with most Americans’ concerns, while 58 percent view President Trump as out of touch.

ABC News notes that in March 2014, 48 percent said the Democrats were out of touch with most Americans’ concerns. Three years later, 67 percent of Americans feel that way about the Democratic Party — a 19 percent increase.

“The biggest change has occurred chiefly among the party’s own typical loyalists, with ‘out of touch’ ratings up 33 points among liberals, 30 points among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and 26 points among moderates and nonwhites alike,” ABC News reports.Keeping the faith is harder when you don't earn it...

Le Election

What the French election is really about:The election is widely being seen as a vote on the future of the European Union — with most of the French candidates railing against its institutions.

Both Le Pen and Melenchon — from opposite extremes of the political spectrum — have supported pulling France out of the 28-nation bloc and its shared euro currency in a so-called “Frexit.”

A French exit, however, could spark a death spiral for the EU, for France and Germany are the bloc’s strongest economies and biggest proponents of a united Europe.

If either Le Pen or Melenchon wins a spot in the runoff, it will be seen as a victory for the rising wave of populism reflected by the votes for Brexit in Britain and Donald Trump in the United States.Will France finally stop surrendering to the EU?

Political Climate Science

When science becomes ideology:"When they behave like partisan hacks in the name of science, they politicize science and undermine trust in science," Marlo Lewis, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), declared at a Heritage Foundation event on Wednesday. "When you use your expertise as a license to regulate others and tax others ... ordinary people are going to get very skeptical, not only about your expertise but about your motives."

The "March for Science" started as a form of opposition to President Donald Trump, whom many have accused of launching a "war on science." The march's original statement declared "certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives" such as "the Earth is becoming warmer due to human action," and "the diversity of life arose by evolution."
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"This is an attempt now to silence and chill speech through the threat of litigation and prosecution,&quo…

The Battle Of Berkeley

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Bill Maher defends a fellow free speech advocate:

Blue Versus Blue

Can't they all just get along?Just as the Republican establishment battled the nascent Tea Party over conservative purity after its 2008 loss, Democrats are enduring internecine strife over what it means to be a progressive.

“Anytime your party is out of power, you face a choice,” said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist. “Do you want to hunt down heretics or seek out converts?”

Mr. Sanders and his supporters are the ones preaching inclusion, at least on social issues.

“Every single Democrat is not necessarily pro-choice,” said Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator from Cleveland and an ally of Mr. Sanders. “And Democrats need to understand that, and not vilify people because of it.”Maybe they should focus on why they lost instead of each other-but why mess up a good thing?

Street Fighters Against Free Speech

They're the anti-fascist fascists:Many are blaming the violent protests targeting conservative speakers on the left-wing agitator group Antifa. Critics say Antifa, a group that calls itself “anti-fascist,” has sparked violence on college campuses across the country to further its radical agenda.

In the UC Berkeley riots that broke out recently, pictures and video were tweeted out of rioters beating people with “Antifa” flagpoles and then spraying them with pepper spray. Antifa rioters often wear masks to conceal their identity. And to separate themselves from anarchists in the black bloc, they often wave distinctive red and black flags that were often seen at the Berkeley riots.

“In no uncertain terms we are working in close concert with local, regional, and national law enforcement agencies on investigations concerning the group referred to as the black bloc,” UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof told Fox News.

Kyle Shideler, director of the Threat Information Office…

Wiki Bust

Julian Assange comes home?Prosecutors first had issues pressing charges as they debated whether the information published by WikiLeaks fell under the First Amendment, but now believe that they have discovered a way to move forward. During the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and other Justice Department Officials determined that due to WikiLeaks not being the sole publisher of the documents, prosecution would be difficult. This lead to the investigation being put on hold.

Following the Ecuadorian election, US officials hoped that Assange’s asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy would be revoked with a new government. However, after the victory of Lenín Moreno over his opponent Guillermo Lasso, Assange will most likely be permitted to continue living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Moreno previously stated that he would allow Assange to stay in the embassy, upholding the decision made by his predecessor, Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum in 2012.If they want to…

Russian Dressing

How to start a fake narrative:The authors detail how Clinton went out of her way to pass blame for her stunning loss on “Comey and Russia.”

“She wants to make sure all these narratives get spun the right way,” a longtime Clinton confidant is quoted as saying.

The book further highlights how Clinton’s Russia-blame-game was a plan hatched by senior campaign staffers John Podesta and Robby Mook, less than “within twenty-four hours” after she conceded:

That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

The Clinton camp settled on a two-pronged plan — pushing the press to cover how “Russian hacking was the major …

Small Spaces And Smaller Minds

Because tiny houses are offensive, or something:From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor-household staples, it’s become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle  -- and it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.

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It’s likely, from where I sit, that this back-to-nature and boxed-up simplicity is not being marketed to people like me, who come from simplicity and heightened knowledge of poverty, but to people who have not wanted for creature comforts. For them to try on, glamorize, identify with.While it's true that hipster poverty seems to be a thing with some people, what are people who don't live in rich liberal enclaves like San Francisco supposed to do if things get tough? Apologize for "income appropriation?"

Fraud For Fun And Profit

Why it's so hard to get rid of fraud at the IRS:At issue is an IRS effort to replace the Electronic Fraud Detection System (EFDS) – which dates back to 1994 -- with an update called the Return Review Program (RRP). In 2010, the IRS described the EFDS “too risky to maintain, upgrade or operate beyond 2015.”

However, despite the program being in development since 2009, the replacement is not expected to be completed until 2022.

And that time is money.

According to a 2015 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report, a two-year pilot program found the new program missed tens of thousands of fraudulent returns, amounting to a cost of $313 million.

The CAGW noted a 2015 Government Accountability Office report also found the program exceeded its initial budget by $86.5 million.

“This is unfortunately typical of information technology modernization projects throughout the federal government,” Tom Schatz, president of the CAGW, told Fox News. “The unfortunate result…

Vouching For Vouchers

Choice comes to California:Among adults, the survey finds 73 percent of African Americans, 69 percent of Latinos, 56 percent of Asian Americans, and 51 percent of White Americans favor school vouchers. Republicans are more likely to favor school vouchers than Democrats, 67 percent to 46 percent.

At the same time, results of the poll show that most Californians give passing grades to their local public schools. Among adults, 54 percent give their public schools an A (22 percent) or a B (32 percent), with only 7 percent giving a grade of F.

Most adults (64 percent) and likely voters (66 percent) also say current funding for public schools is inadequate.

“Most Californians give passing grades to their local public schools,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “But many believe that the state isn’t spending enough money on K–12 education and should also spend what it has more wisely. In this context, many are willing to raise their local taxes and consider a voucher system.”It w…

Repeal Deal Two

Another deal in the works:The agreement, brokered by House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), would allow states to eliminate Obamacare’s community rating system, a rule that prohibits health insurers from pricing health care plans based on age, gender, or health status. States that repeal Obamacare’s community rating rules would have to join a federal high-risk pool or establish a local high-risk pool to obtain the waiver.

The deal, known as the MacArthur amendment, would also reinstate Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits, although states could waive Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits if they were to prove that eliminating those regulations would lower premiums, increase the number of people insured, or “advance another benefit to the public interest in the state.”

Essential Health Benefits require that health insurance plans must cover certain services such as doctors’ services, inpatient or outpatient hospital care, …

Censorship By Choice

Fear is an ugly weapon:More than two-thirds of those questioned said they had suffered threats of violence, a third cited police intimidation and 53 percent said they were subjected to online harassment, the report by Europe’s leading human rights monitor said.

“It should therefore come as no surprise that the survey found high levels of self-censorship among journalists,” the report said.

“Many are compelled to tone down controversial stories, or abandon them altogether,” the report added, after sounding out reporters from five media associations, including Reporters Without Borders, in member states and non-member Belarus.

The council’s secretary general Thorbjoern Jagland called on its 47 member states to fully implement its 2016 recommendation on affording journalists protection and safety in their work “to create a climate of open debate and free speech.”The new fascism works through cooperation...

Bill's Last Hurrah

Bill O'Reilly is out:Mr. O’Reilly’s departure comes two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly even as sexual harassment allegations piled up against him. The Times found that the company and Mr. O’Reilly reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.

Since then, more than 50 advertisers had abandoned his show, and women’s rights groups called for his ouster. Inside the company, women expressed outrage and questioned whether top executives were serious about maintaining a culture based on “trust and respect,” as they had promised last summer when another sexual harassment scandal forced the ouster of Fox News’s chairman, Roger Ailes.Maybe they can go on "vacation" together now...

Their Losing Season

It has not been a good year for Democrats:For all the anger, energy, and money swirling at the grass-roots level, Democrats didn’t manage to pick off the first two Republican-held congressional seats they contended for in the Trump era, and the prospects aren’t markedly better in the next few House races coming up: the Montana race at the end of May, and the South Carolina contest on June 20.

Their best shot at knocking Donald Trump down a peg appears to be Ossoff’s runoff against Republican Karen Handel, also scheduled for June 20. But the Democrat will be an underdog in that contest, when there won’t be a crowded field of Republicans to splinter the vote.

After that, it’ll be a further five months before the New Jersey and Virginia elections for governor, leaving some strategists and lawmakers wondering how to keep the furious rank-and-file voters engaged in fueling and funding the party’s comeback — especially given the sky-high expectations that surrounded Ossoff’s ultimately unsu…

Not Their Boss

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It's tough being the leader of your party when your own party doesn't like you:

Goodbye Dolly

Talking dolls really are evil?The unique selling point of My Friend Cayla is that not only does the doll speak, but it uses speech-to-text protocols to be able to have conversations with the children. An example on the website has a girl asking the doll what a baby kangaroo is called, with the doll correctly identifying it as a joey. However, this listening functionality leaves the doll open to hacking. Anyone who has access to a valid version of the doll’s connected mobile app can access the toy via Bluetooth.

The FNA, Germany’s telecommunications network, first raised the problem of the dolls back in February, instructing parents to destroy it for containing a “concealed transmitting device.” Now it is taking the extra step of completely banning the sale, purchase, and ownership of the dolls.

Stefan Hessel, a law student who helped formulate the FNA’s legal opinion to ban the doll, told the Wall Street Journal that “it’s pretty bad bringing a doll on the market anybody in a 30-feet …

Eager To Believe

Another bad day for fake news:The original post, which can be viewed here, was written by someone named Shelley Garland, who claims to be a philosophy student.

Except, according to Huffington Post SA Editor-in-Chief Verashni Pillay, Garland isn’t a real person.

“Huffington Post SA has removed the blog ‘Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?’ published on our Voices section on April 13, 2017,” Pillay wrote to her readers over the weekend.

“We have done this because the blog submission from an individual who called herself Shelley Garland, who claimed to be an MA student at UCT, cannot be traced and appears not to exist,” she explained.They'd have made her up on their own soon enough...

A Taxing Education

People pay the taxes they deserve?Some 57% of taxpayers don’t know what a W-4 is, the Nerdwallet survey found, and 59% don’t know that April 18, 2017 is the deadline for making a tax-deductible contribution to a traditional individual retirement account for the 2016 tax year. What’s more, 58% of taxpayers incorrectly believe that getting a tax extension means they can delay the due date of their income tax payment.

The majority knew about tax withholdings from their paycheck, but they understandably struggled with more complex questions about Roth IRA and individual retirement accounts, says Alex McAdams, product manager at NerdWallet. People shouldn’t be too quick to celebrate an income tax refund, which averaged $2,860 in 2016. “You are essentially giving the government a free loan as opposed to having control of that money all year long and putting it in a savings account or maybe even investing it,” he says.

“Some of the questions were easy, but others I wouldn’t expect people to …

New Internet Rules?

Free speech for none?Speaking at an event called “Future of Democracy,” Ravel argued the proliferation of “fake news” and political advertising on platforms like Facebook influenced elections. She warned that the lack of disclosure by the creators of these campaigns was becoming a huge problem.

“We know that there’s a lot of campaigning that’s moved to the internet, whether it’s through fake news or just outright advertising and there is almost no regulation of this, very little,” she said. “And so that the disclosure that we expect as to who is behind campaigns is not going to exist soon”

“Some people are even predicting that by 2020 most of the advertising is going to move from television to the internet, and I think this is a serious issue that requires a lot of discussion,” continued Ravel.

During her tenure as the chairwoman of the FEC, Ravel previously called for right-leaning websites like the Drudge Report to be “regulated,” and blamed hostile responses towards her proposals o…

Hurry Up And Wait For Reform

It looks like tax reform will...have to wait:Mnuchin told the Financial Times in an interview that the target to get tax reforms through Congress and on President Donald Trump's desk before August was "highly aggressive to not realistic at this point".

"It is fair to say it is probably delayed a bit because of the healthcare," Mnuchin told the newspaper. (on.ft.com/2oPJlTX)

Mnuchin also told the Financial Times he agreed with Trump's view that the dollar's strength in the short term was hurting exports, but said he saw the currency's strength over the long term as a positive.

"As the world's currency, the primary reserve currency, I think that over long periods of time the strength of the dollar is a good thing," the Financial Times quoted Mnuchin as saying.

Trump has signaled he wants to streamline the income tax system, cut federal regulations, reduce corporate income tax and add new taxes to prod companies to keep or move production…

The Bad Boss Defense Fund

Your taxes pay their salary?Lobbyists for the Washington, D.C., law firm Shaw, Bransford & Roth (Roth) — which earns its money representing federal employees who are being disciplined — “proposed” and secured passage of the obscure bill Congress passed in 1996, according to the website of a group connected to the firm. That bill requires taxpayers to pay for legal insurance for management-level employees.

Roth lawyer Anthony Vergnetti then left the firm to launch the Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS), just such a legal insurance business that, Vergnetti acknowledges, primarily steers clients to Roth when they have insurance claims, and profits off their premiums when they don’t.

Roth got its legislative sway by operating through the Senior Executives Association (SEA), which is ostensibly an organic group representing managers, but which is actually founded and run by the law firm’s partners and employees, as TheDCNF showed last year. SEA collects dues from members and pays…

Looking At Leakers

Who leaked what to whom?Judicial Watch has requested the Office of Congressional Ethics to look into whether Vice Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) broke House ethics rules for disclosing classified information to the public, with which left-wing groups have targeted its Republican chairman.

Last month, progressive groups MoveOn.org and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested an investigation into Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) after they said he had done the same thing.

Nunes temporarily stepped aside from leading a high-profile probe into Russia’s involvement into the U.S. presidential elections while the Office of Congressional Ethics is looking into whether any rules were broken.Will the real rule breakers please stand up?

How To Elect A Dictator

People get the government they deserve:Returns carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency showed that with nearly 99 percent of the vote counted, the "yes" vote had about 51.3 percent compared to 48.7 percent for the "no" vote.

Turkey's main opposition party vowed to challenge the results reported by Anadolu agency, saying they were skewed.

Erdogan has long sought to broaden his powers, but a previous attempt failed after the governing party that he co-founded fell short of enough votes to pass the reforms without holding a referendum.

Opponents argued the plan concentrate too much power in the hands of a man they allege has shown increasingly autocratic tendencies.You can't have a dictatorship without breaking a few rigged elections...

Grid Off The Green

Learning from others' mistakes:“We are blessed as a nation to have an abundance of domestic energy resources, such as coal, natural gas,” Perry wrote in a memo to his chief of staff, Brian McCormack. The DOE chief was referring to sources of energy he and President Donald Trump believe should be included when discussing the country’s energy grid.

Perry’s review also seeks to evaluate to what extent regulatory burdens, subsidies, and tax policies “are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.”

The grid study comes after Perry said he and international counterparts discussed the need for a diverse supply of electricity during a G-7 Energy Ministerial meeting in Rome.

“It impressed upon me that the United States should take heed of the policy choices our allies have made and take stock of their consequences,” Perry said, not referring to any specific country.No bird killings for us, please...

Face Paper

In China, toilet paper uses you:With toilet paper in short supply in China, some of the country’s 1.3 billion citizens have been helping themselves to the free toilet found in public bathrooms in places like the popular Temple of Heaven park in Beijing.

The government’s solution to blunt the outbreak of toilet paper pilferers was to install a new, high tech toilet paper distribution system…machines equipped with cameras that scan the face of the person before they enter the stall. Once the face is recognized, approximately two feet of toilet paper is dispensed.

What happens if you need more paper? Well…you can get more paper. However, the machines are programmed to wait nine minutes before delivering an additional serving of the precious paper. Depending on your situation, those nine minutes could feel like an eternity.When you gotta go...

Blue Haven

Where Democrats still win?The state Democrat party disputes a report that it gave Thompson just $3,000 late in the race but has failed to provide documentation showing the group in fact backed the first-time candidate’s campaign from the start.

The DNC contributed no last-minute money to counter the GOP infusion, with newly-installed Chairmen Tom Perez telling The Washington Post: “There are thousands of elections every year, though. Can we invest in all of them? That would require a major increase in funds.”

DNC spokesman Joel Kasnetz told Fox News on Wednesday that the outcome of the Kansas race -- in a district Trump won in November by 27 percentage points -- proves voters’ “resounding frustration” with the president’s agenda and that Washington Democrats are “committed to organizing in every zip code.”

Meanwhile, the DCCC, which declined to comment for this story, is already sending staffers to Southern California to establish a base camp for 2018 House races in the state and in N…

Nothingburger Weekend

What do liberals protest against instead of taxes?On Saturday, thousands are expected to attend 'Tax Marches' in approximately 150 cities, including several affiliated events overseas.

“Whether people support him or not, [releasing his tax returns] is something that people think he should do. I think there is a chance something like this could move him,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs at Public Citizen, one of the groups organizing the marches.

The president's supporters, however, see the marches -- and the persistent tax return focus -- as a waste of time.

In Colorado Springs, Trump backers plan to hold a counter-protest on Saturday. For them, what is in Trump's tax returns pales in comparison to what could be in his tax plan.

"Their whole message is they want to see the president's tax returns. I care far more about his policy than his tax returns," Trevor Dierdorff, El Paso County Republican Party chairman, told the Colorad…

The Art Of Undoing The Deal

A bad deal is a bad deal:“It’s a bad deal for America,” he continued. “It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs.”

Pruitt’s comments increase the likelihood the U.S. will pull out of the agreement, which requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise, as well as regularly report on their progress. Pruitt has previously referred to the agreement as a “bad deal,” but has never openly called for America to quit.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump was a prominent critic of the deal, promising to “cancel” it, and this week he refused to sign a statement endorsing the agreement. Although Trump could not instantly pull America out, he could initiate the process for the country’s exit.

Since taking office, Trump has revoked a range of environmental legislation—including Barack Obama’s climate orders—with a plan …

Spring Cleaning

How to drain the swamp:His weapon has been the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which Politico calls “obscure.” It was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, when he was campaigning for re-election and determined to prove he had learned the lessons of the 1994 midterm elections — that “the era of big government is over.” The CRA allows Congress to overturn rules by a federal agency 60 days after they are reported to Congress. It was aimed at rules made by “lame duck” presidents.

But as the Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberly Strassel noted in January, two factors make the CRA particularly powerful. One is inherent to the legislation itself, which provides that a regulation, once repealed, cannot be promulgated again without a new act of Congress.

The other factor is the arrogance and incompetence of the Obama administration, which failed to report many rules to Congress — meaning the 60-day window never began even for some earlier Obama rules.Some rules were meant to be thrown out...

Change For Climate Change

The deal's off?The much-talked about climate deal requires the U.S. to dramatically reduce greenhouse gasses. Former President Barack Obama signed the deal last year without the Senate’s consent. The agreement has become a contentious point within the Trump administration.

Bannon and Pruitt represent the side most opposed to the agreement, while Tillerson and Kushner have staked out more conciliatory positions. The secretary of state believes the deal could be an effective diplomatic tool.

Pruitt, a Republican who sued the EPA more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, has made no bones about his antipathy for the deal, telling reporters last week the Obama-era deal is a “bad deal for this country.”Bad deals were made to be broken...

Free Speech Hurts

A college newspaper goes there:“Wellesley students are generally correct in their attempts to differentiate what is viable discourse from what is just hate speech,” the paper declared. “Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech. The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government.”

The editorial board at the paper then ascribes a new meaning to the First Amendment. “The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging,” the demand.

The reason “hate speech” exists is that the United States is a racist country, according to the paper. “We have all said problematic claims, the origins of which were ingrained in us by our discriminatory and biased society. Luckily, most of us have been taught by ou…

Reds Versus Reds

Never trust socialists to fight other socialists:The Socialist International has invested so heavily in supporting Venezuela’s opposition for the simple reason that a number of MUD coalition parties are also members of the SI, and among the Vice Presidents of the organization is Henry Ramos Allup, the head of the Democratic Action Party (AD), both an SI and MUD member.

Four SI members parties operate in Venezuela: (AD), Popular Will, Movement for Socialism (MAS), and A New Era (UNT). Three of the four are members of the MUD. The fourth, Popular Will, advocates in their manifesto for the second-generation human rights popularized at the United Nations by the Soviet Union: “the right to a comfortable home… the right to fresh food, potable water, health care, and medicine… the right to education.”

The result of this relationship between the SI and the allegedly anti-socialist Venezuelan opposition has been a stunted attempt at restoring fundamental rights and freedoms. With its undue res…

Wasting Time

Clocks are racist, or something:The curriculum depicts several different fictional scenarios. One slide features a man named Alejandro, who is planning a meeting between two groups, each of which contains foreign professors and students. One group shows up 15 minutes early, the other 10 minutes late.

The guide says it would not be “inclusive” of Alejandro to “politely ask the second group to apologize” for wasting the time of the group that arrived several minutes before the designated meeting time — 9 a.m. Instead, Alejandro should “recognize cultural differences that may impact the meeting and adjust accordingly.”

It is important for Alejandro to understand “that his cultural perspective regarding time is neither more nor less valid than any other,” the training continued.Laziness is a cultural right?

Fake Free Speech

Fake news, or improper views?Ravel, who has previously called for regulation of political websites such as The Drudge Report, stated that without regulation of the internet and digital platforms, the role of the FEC will essentially become obsolete as the FEC focuses mainly on TV and radio content.

“We know that there’s a lot of campaigning that’s moved to the internet, whether it’s through fake news or just outright advertising and there is almost no regulation of this, very little. And so that the disclosure that we expect as to who is behind campaigns is not going to exist soon,” said Ravel at the Berkeley law school. “Some people are even predicting that by 2020 most of the advertising is going to move from television to the internet, and and I think this is a serious issue that requires a lot of discussion.”

Ravel claimed that the use of Facebook and other social media platforms by political campaigns is a problem. “I’ve talked to a lot of campaign consultants and they buy some g…

European Staycation

Whatever happened to Bill O'Reilly?O’Reilly said he likes to take vacation around this time and that he booked this year’s break months ago. That would appear to stave off stories that the cable host had been pressured to make himself scarce for a while. His show has seen an advertiser exodus since reports emerged of settlements reached with five women to keep quiet about harassment accusations.

Fox would not discuss whether network executives influenced the duration or timing of his break. O’Reilly’s announcement immediately set off speculation about whether cable television’s most popular host will return at all.

“I grab some vacation, because it’s spring and Easter time,” O’Reilly said Tuesday. “Last fall, I booked a trip that should be terrific.”And maybe longer than he planned?

Le Panic

CNN is worried, mon ami:The piece, which was written by David A. Andelman, claims that French media is behaving much like U.S. media did in the run-up to the election, “effectively baptising one of the two leading candidates the winner even before the first ballot is cast”.

French newspaper Le Monde asked readers: “What would the first months of an Emmanuel Macron presidency look like?” which Andelman said evoked U.S. media who claimed that Hillary Clinton could not lose. Some outlets like the Huffington Post gave her a 98.2 per cent chance to win on election day.

Andelman claims the two front runners, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, are both “alarming”. Le Pen because she wants to remove France from the European Union and the euro, as well as tackle Islamisation, and Macron because “he has no party machine behind him to back him in any tough battle in the National Assembly”.Le democracy sucks when the other side wins, oui?

They Pay, You Stay?

Working for the people?U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican in his third term, held the forum in Jay, Okla., and didn’t appreciate one of the questions, which was based on the premise that his constituents are the ones paying his congressional salary.

“I’m going to address two things: One, you said you pay for me to do this? Bullcrap, I pay for myself,” Mullin said quickly. “I paid enough taxes before I ever got there and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.”

“I do it as an honor and a service,” he added.

Several audience members spoke up, challenging his position. “Who pays you to go there?” one audience member can be heard asking.

Mullin did not directly answer, but instead doubled down on his previous claim: “I’m just saying this is a service for me, not a career, and I thank God this is not how I make my living.”A public service, mind you...

Taking Out The Gunman

At long last, caught:A $250,000 reward had been sought for information leading to the arrest of Osorio-Arellanes, who was captured at a ranch on the border of the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua. U.S. authorities have said they will seek his extradition.

Terry was killed on Dec. 14, 2010 in a gunfight between Border Patrol agents and members of a five-man cartel "rip crew," which regularly patrolled the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border looking for drug dealers to rob.

The agent's death exposed Operation Fast and Furious, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation in which the federal government allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico. But the agency lost track of more than 1,400 of the 2,000 guns they allowed smugglers to buy. Two of those guns were found at the scene of Terry's killing.Justice is served. Now what about the suspects in the Obama…

You Dropped A Bomb On Me

Did anyone else feel that?The MOAB -- Massive Ordnance Air Blast -- is also known as the “Mother Of All bombs.” It was first tested in 2003, but hadn't been used in combat before Thursday.
President Trump told media Thursday afternoon that "this was another successful mission" and he gave the military total authorization.
Trump was also asked whether dropping the bomb sends a warning to North Korea.
"North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of," said Trump.They weren't expecting an Earth-shattering kaboom...

Weed Whacker

Jeff Sessions gets some push-back on pot:Sessions, a stanch opponent of legalization, is currently reviewing the Cole Memorandum, a set of guidelines established in 2013 that direct DOJ to focus marijuana enforcement efforts on violent crimes and distribution in states without legalization laws.

“When they nominated me for attorney general, you would have thought the biggest issue in America was when I said, ‘I don’t think America’s going to be a better place if they sell marijuana at every corner grocery store,'” Sessions said Tuesday, according to AZ Central. “(People) didn’t like that; I’m surprised they didn’t like that.”

Sessions also touched on illegal immigration and border protection Tuesday, reiterating his belief that a wall and bolstered enforcement will greatly cut down on the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S.

Sessions claimed in February “there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think, and there’s big money involved.”Well, if it weren't so illegal, …

Hard Left Hits?

A Democrat argues that liberal journalists are actually tougher on...Democrats:During remarks at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., at an event titled “The President and the Press: The First Amendment in the First 100 Days,” Palmieri said that the media covers infighting in presidential administrations in order to avoid covering issues, which she said leads to reporters revealing their biases.

Palmieri said that she thinks “most journalists are probably leaning more to the left than the right.”

“Think about the kind of person that’s drawn to do this as a career,” Palmieri said. “They believe in government, they think politics matters, they like it, they find it interesting, they don’t make a lot of money. … But what I’ve found is it means they come after us harder on what I describe as the crap. They come after us harder on the palace intrigue, on the process, on things that really shouldn’t matter.”

Palmieri, who previously worked in the Barack Obama and Bill Clinton administrations, a…

Order From The Court

Rolling Stone settles:The settlement brings an end to a lawsuit that had roiled the U-Va. community with a case study in the practice and ethics of journalism.

“We are delighted that this dispute is now behind us, as it allows Nicole to move on and focus on doing what she does best, which is supporting victims of sexual assault,” said Libby Locke, a lawyer for Eramo, in a statement Tuesday.

Rolling Stone called the settlement an “amicable resolution.”

The magazine’s November 2014 story, “A Rape on Campus,” recounted the shocking story of a young woman’s gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity house — a story that was discredited after serious flaws were revealed.Even liars sometimes have to pay up...

Going For Broke

Puerto Rico reaches its tipping point:When U.S. Congress last year passed the Puerto Rico rescue law dubbed PROMESA, it froze creditor lawsuits against the island so its federally appointed oversight board and creditors could negotiate out of court on the biggest debt restructuring in U.S. municipal history.

The freeze expires on May 1, however, and an extension by Congress is "not going to happen," said a Republican aide to the House Committee on Natural Resources, which is in charge of territory matters.

A round of mediated talks is scheduled to begin on Thursday. But absent an agreement soon, a growing number of analysts say Puerto Rico will seek protection from creditors under PROMESA's court-sanctioned restructuring process, akin to U.S. bankruptcy.

Forbearance deals could let negotiations continue past May 1, but a source directly involved in the talks said avoiding an eventual bankruptcy is "impossible."Bad management all around...

The Unfriendly Skies

United Airlines screws up royally:Yes, United's contract of carriage gives them the ability to bump passengers. But United could have — and given the circumstances should have — continued to increase its offer price until it got enough volunteers. At some point, there would have been a rush to give up seats.

The result: Everyone would have gone away happy. The passengers who agreed to get off the flight would have received something they valued more than arriving on time, and United would have been able to get its own employees where they needed to be without raising a fuss.

Instead, United tried to impose its own form of price controls and then have the police enforce its nonmarket decision.

Does that sound familiar to anyone?

It should, because this is precisely what happens when government interferes in any market, either by forcing prices higher or lower, or mandating businesses offer this or that, to accommodate some other alleged social goal — and then forcing everyone to ab…

Big Poverty

How the government keeps people poor:Arguably the program that has set back upward income mobility ‎for the poor the most is the government school system in inner cities. Every study finds abysmal educational outcomes and even unsafe environments for schoolchildren despite cities spending upward of $20,000 per child. In Catholic inner-city schools, these same kids could and should be receiving a better education at half the cost. Yet liberals who champion the poor oppose school choice programs that would raise educational achievement and future earnings. (Look at the disgraceful treatment of Trump’s education chief Betsy DeVos).

These examples merely scratch the surface of scores of governmental polices that are regressive. Could it be that the gridlock and polarization in Washington would be ended by a bipartisan reform movement to scout out and remove laws and rules that hurt those at the bottom of the income scale the most? One universal goal that we should all agree on and aspire …

DOE, DOA?

Why the Department of Education is a dinosaur:The DOE was created in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter, basically to satisfy the teachers’ unions, and is little more than a social engineering organization, constantly promoting big government ideology through new regulations which cost taxpayers a lot and adds little value to students. The DOE consumed $78 billion in fiscal year 2016 in discretionary and mandatory spending only to have a minimal impact at best.

It may seem unimaginable but education existed in the United States before President Jimmy Carter. Prior to the establishment of the DOE, graduation rates were higher, student debts and college tuitions were lower, and there was more skilled labor in the workforce. So what value has the DOE added? It appears to be another example of an unnecessary federal agency, this time, tragically, impacting our schools and children.

The American education system needs to evolve to meet 21st century challenges, and this starts at the DOE. Cutti…

Target Trail

There's more evidence that the IRS went after conservatives:The documents were produced after a revelation by the IRS that it had located “an additional 6,924 documents of potentially responsive records” relating to a 2015 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit about the Obama IRS targeting scandal. These new records are the first batch of nearly 7,000 documents that had been hidden from JW, Congress, and the American people. (Our FOIA lawsuit seeks records about the IRS’ selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting nonprofit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).

Of the 695 pages of documents released by the IRS, 422 (61 percent) were completely blacked out. Again, this new material was not in the “Congressional Database,” which the IRS created in 2013 to house records responsive to congressional inquiries into the IR…

Zapped

Maybe they could use this on politicians:The researchers applied transcranial direct current stimulation over a region in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC). This noninvasive brain stimulation method makes brain cells more sensitive i.e., they are more likely to be active. When the researchers applied this stimulation during the task, participants were less likely to cheat. However, the number of consistent cheaters remained the same. Christian Ruff, UZH Professor of Neuroeconomics, points out "This finding suggests that the stimulation mainly reduced cheating in participants who actually experienced a moral conflict, but did not influence the decision making process in those not in those who were committed to maximizing their earnings".On the other hand, you'd have to find their moral centers first...

Bentley Busted

The governor is out:The extraordinary agreement, hammered out over the weekend and throughout the day by lawyers for the Alabama Attorney General's office and Bentley attorneys Chuck Malone and Cooper Shattuck, requires Bentley to repay the state for misused funds and perform community service.

In response, the state attorney general's office will not pursue other felonies against Bentley, including those referred for prosecution last week by the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Bentley, as part of the deal, was expected to:

Resign immediately and leave public life.
Plead guilty to two campaign violations: converting campaign contributions for personal gain and failing to report campaign contributions.
Serve one year of probation.
Perform 100 hours of unpaid community service as a physician.
Repay the $8,912 his campaign spent on the legal fees of former aide Rebekah Mason, whose involvement with Bentley led to the charges against him.
Forfeit all the money in his campaign account,…

Creative Math

Another government accounting success story:According to the report released in March, HUD reissued financial statements for fiscal 2015 and 2016 "due to pervasive material errors that we identified." Those errors were contained in a November filing.

"The total amounts of errors corrected in HUD’s notes and consolidated financial statements were $516.4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively," the IG said.

The office also noted other circumstances that apparently made it difficult for the IG to obtain “sufficient, appropriate evidence” as part of the report. According to the IG, this included weak internal controls over financial reporting which led to errors and delays in preparing financial statements; several “significant deficiencies”; and instances of noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations.

In response, HUD revised the statements and said the “errors” were solely in “presentation” of financial information which had since been corrected. A February…

Two Worlds Are Not Enough

The divergent realities of the mainstream media and practically everyone else:...when it came to Rice, Americans were about to see conservative and mainstream news outlets come up with two very different answers to that question — a symptom of the increasing extent to which Americans often seem to live in one nation but inhabit two widely divergent realities.

One version these days typically comes from Fox News and other outlets that echo the Trump White House line. A much different one can often be found on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media.

So it was with the Rice “story,” which for nearly two days the mainstream media largely ignored, and when it couldn’t any longer, dismissed as irrelevant.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Tom Hollinan, a professor of political communication at the USC Annenberg School. “One of the things that a healthy democracy and a deliberating public need is the ability to participate in a common conversation. They should …

Trumped By Success

The Trump Economy keeps booming:“The Gallup Job Creation Index rose to +37 in March from +35 in February,” Gallup reported. “This is the third month in a row the index has hit a new record high after remaining relatively flat for much of 2016.”

The index has increased by four points since the start of 2017 — the same increase that occurred throughout all of 2016, Gallup reported, noting that the index “typically rises during the first quarter of the year, with two- to three-point increases seen during this period in most years since 2010.”

The Gallup Job Creation Index is calculated based on the perception of employed adults in the United States on whether their employer is hiring or laying off employees, with results reached “by subtracting the percentage of those who say their employer is cutting jobs from the percentage of those who say their employer is adding jobs.”

Last month, 46% of employees said their company was hiring, up from 44% in February, while the percentage who said …

Payment By Committee

How the swamp stays full:Here’s how it works for Republicans. If you want to serve on a committee, you have to raise money for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). The amount varies depending on the committee and role. For example, to serve on a B or C level committee, a GOP House freshman member must raise $220,000 every two years. I paid that amount to the NRCC in my first term in Congress, but now must pay more than double that amount. Veteran members on A committees must raise more than twice that amount—$450,000. That’s right, almost half a million dollars to do what the people elected them to do.

Republican representatives from districts deemed to be at risk by the NRCC get their dues discounted by at least 30 percent. Twelve Republican members were designated in 2015 to be part of this “Patriot” program, but other members whose districts were equally at risk, like Rod Blum, were not included in the program, because they did not play the leadership’s game.

As …

A Lost Cause?

Image
Joe Manchin on fighting battles you might not be able to win. But what does he propose as Obamacare continues to collapse?

SEIU Later

Whatever happened to SEIU?While the union picked up a modest 15,000 new members in 2016, it has seen revenues fall, leading to staff layoffs inside its Washington, D.C. headquarters, according to the report.

According to McMorris, the $61.6 million figure was $13 million higher than what was spent in 2014, but $51 million less than what the union spent during former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

The SEIU, which represents over two million members in the public sector, service, and healthcare industry, made plans to cut its budget by 30 percent after President Donald Trump defeated Clinton in November.Losers still losing...

North And South

Attitudes like this aren't helping the EU's case:Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers, has been under fire from countries in southern Europe over an interview last month with German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which he said: “I cannot spend all my money on liquor and women and then ask for your support.”

The comment stoked widespread criticism across southern Europe as it was seen as a direct reference to them requiring state bailouts from primarily richer countries in northern Europe. Many politicians, including Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, called for Dijsselbloem’s resignation.

Dijsselbloem said tiredness may have played a part in his comments, which came three days after Dutch national elections in which his Labor Party slumped to a large loss of seats in Parliament’s lower house.

Dijsselbloem added that his comment “was my way of expressing that solidarity is not charity,” but denied that it was aimed specifically…

The Tax Conundrum

Whatever happened to tax reform?A complete tax overhaul will likely miss the August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. The White House is trying to learn from the failure of enacting a new health care law to replace ObamaCare and take a more active role in getting legislation passed.

White House aides told The Associated Press Monday that the goal is to cut tax rates sharply enough to improve the economic picture in rural and industrial areas of the U.S. However, the administration so far has swatted down alternative ways for raising revenues, such as a carbon tax, to offset lower rates.

Trump has not said which trade-offs he might accept and had remained noncommittal on the leading blueprint for reform from Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Brady has proposed a border adjustment system, which would eliminate corporate deductions on imports, to raise $1 trillion over 10 years that could fund lower corporate tax rates.

But that possibilit…

No Defense For History

When you've lost Tom Daschle:“Today is just amazing the symmetry that exists between those who believe that it’s wrong today but to believe in doing it before it’s…what I would I fear the most is a lack of respect and appreciation of the institution itself,” Daschle said.

He continued:

Unfortunately, Democrats have far dirtier hands when it comes to the erosion of the institutional pillars of the Senate than Republicans going all the way back to–you know, they used to do filibusters in the House and the Senate. And the Senate the House took them away in the 1830s, and the Senate began taking them away under Woodrow Wilson in 1917–then getting rid of the talking filibuster in the 70s–and then the whole budget process was a Democratic product, and that was in my view a procedural disaster.

Daschle added, “Then we lowered the threshold from 67 to 60. That was a Democratic effort. And then in 2013, we took it away completely for nominations and that was Democratic. So, Democrats who ma…

Speaking Jive

Because English is hard, or something:To avoid any hurt feelings some people may feel by attempting to speak standard, correct English, Gallagher wants to eradicate the stigma associated with Ebonics — or African–American Vernacular English, a nonstandard dialect of English spoken by some black people.

“I want to center the voices of the people who need to be centered,” Gallagher, a participant in the UW-Madison writing fellows program, told The Daily Cardinal. “As a white-passing person, I have a lot of power and privilege that should be shared.”

Ultimately, she explained, she wants to expand her research and eventually create a nonprofit group which urges teachers across the United States “to be more accepting” and to present their classes with disclaimers urging students to speak using the language which makes the students most comfortable.Up next: Reading, writing, and arithmetic are all racist because you need to use your brain while studying them...

Pork For Play

Guess who supported Jerry Brown's gas tax, and why?The Times said:

… Brown and legislative dealers promised nearly $1 billion for the pet projects of lawmakers who had been sitting on the fence before they were persuaded to vote for the bill.

The funding “arrangements,” as Brown called them, helped the governor and legislators break a two-year Sacramento stalemate on transportation funding.

Some legislators said the horse-trading taints the legislative process, but Brown defended the deals as justified, a moderate investment compared with the payoff of a bill that will generate $5.2 billion annually in the first 10 years for road repairs, and billions more in future years.

One of the more prominent deals was the one that secured the vote of State Sen. Anthony Canella (R-Ceres), who was the only Republican in either chamber to support the measure, which includes raised fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

That side deal turns out to have been the costliest of all, amounting to …

The Oil Shore

Trump undoes another Obama era ban:The action would fulfill campaign promises Trump made last year when he routinely vowed that under a Trump administration, the U.S. would increase domestic energy production, which includes offshore drilling for crude oil and natural gas.

Trump already signed an executive order last week to undo nearly all of Obama’s climate policies. The order also directed the Interior Department and other government agencies to proactively find ways to undo Obama-era climate policy.

However, it will likely take a year or two to completely rid the government of Obama’s drilling lease plan, given its complexity and deep roots. But it will be worth it considering the billions of crude oil reserves that are ripe for harvest.The sea awaits to give up its crude...

Payment Options

Paying students to graduate early?Under the program, which is administered by the Idaho Department of Education, students who graduate early get a $1,500 scholarship to use at a state post-secondary school for every year skipped. A student who graduates two years early would get $3,000, enough to cover one full year of college at some state schools and about 40 percent of the cost of a full-time student’s first year at the University of Idaho.

To help students graduate more quickly, students in grades 7 through 12 are given $4,125 in an online account that can be used to pay for “overload courses”—extra high school classes—and courses at a college that offers dual credits, which count toward a high school diploma and a college degree. Students can also use the funds the cover Advanced Placement tests—which can provide them with additional college credits—other college exams and even to obtain a professional certification.

The program was developed in reaction to a report issued by the…

Bugging In

For the IRS, this is a feature:According to Koskinen, identity thieves took advantage of a bug in one of its web-based data tools that allowed it to file false tax returns that could have potentially cost the federal government millions had it not been caught.

From the Washington Times:

The agency’s “data retrieval tool” is designed to import financial records between the IRS and the Department of Education’s website to help taxpayers completing a lengthy college financial aid form know as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. According to the commissioner, however, criminals harnessed a security flaw within the tool to steal other people’s data and then file and collect false tax returns.

Koskinen says the IRS had disabled the tool last month, but not before issuing 8,000 fake tax returns, costing $30 million. 14,000 others were spotted by investigators before the refunds went out, and 52,000 were stopped before anything could happen at all.

Despite Koskinen stating …

The Peoples' Choice

The revolution against the Revolution:The demonstration came a day after Maduro's government barred top opposition leader Henrique Capriles from running for office for 15 years. The ban was the latest in a series of steps that critics and foreign governments warn are bringing Venezuela closer to dictatorship.

Authorities on Friday banned Capriles from seeking office for 15 years for alleged administrative irregularities as governor of Miranda state. The move, decried by his supporters and foreign governments, followed last week's short-lived Supreme Court decision to gut the opposition-controlled legislature of its last vestiges of power.

"Nobody can disqualify the Venezuelan people," Capriles said from a stage in brief remarks before Saturday's demonstration began. When he called on protesters to march to the government's ombudsman's office, the crowd broke into a rendition of Venezuela's national anthem and stepped off toward downtown.Power to the p…

Prime Time Tinfoil

Let the conspiracy theories begin:O’Donnell said, “[W]ouldn’t it be nice if it was just completely, totally, absolutely impossible to suspect that Vladimir Putin orchestrated what happened in Syria this week so that his friend in the White House could have a big night, with missiles, and all of the praise he’s picked up over the last 24 hours? Wouldn’t it be so nice if you couldn’t even in your wildest dreams imagine a scenario like that?”

He added, “I don’t know what it is. Is it a 2% chance? Is it a 50% chance? Is — I don’t know. But what — I don’t think it’s a 0% chance, and it used to be, with every other president prior to Donald Trump.”

O’Donnell further stated, “Well, when Bill Clinton fired missiles during his presidency, Republicans questioned that. They questioned whether that was to distract attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and that was a legitimate question.”Or, maybe not...

Big Boycott Is Watching You

Boycotts versus free speech:Obviously, advertisers have every right to decide what sort of programs their spots air against. Before the scandal broke, Mercedes, BMW and others purchased time on O’Reilly’s show not because they agreed with his idiosyncratic right-wingish political views or approved of his bullying TV demeanor. They were, presumably, agnostic on those points. They advertised because they believed his viewers were likely to buy their products. Today, they’re changing that tune, fleeing the show because O’Reilly’s foes have convinced them that their advertisements signal approval of the man.



When we encourage corporate advertisers to police content and commentators, we end up making them the guardians and arbiters of journalism, always a bad choice….

Of course, nobody is policing O’Reilly’s content directly. Instead, they’re using the harassment accusations to implore advertisers to scuttle his show. Media Matters President Angelo Carusone has called for O’Reilly to be …

California Gas

Jerry Brown wants Californians to embrace his big idea:The so-called Road Repair and Accountability Act would ratchet up the state’s gas tax by 12 cents a gallon, and raise the tax on diesel fuel by 20 cents a gallon. It also etches out an additional charge to annual vehicle license fees ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the car’s value.

The Senate passed the bill, 27-11 on Thursday. Republicans did not support the measure.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, supports the measure and says it will raise $52 billion for transportation projects, including repairs to roads and bridges. He told reporters Tuesday the increase will save California taxpayers money in the long run.

Brown poked fun at the Republicans for holding what he believes are backward positions concerning gas taxes – they argue an increase in the gas tax is not necessary to fix the state’s roads.

“The Republicans in Sacramento want to fix our roads. They love the idea,” he said earlier this week. “They just don’t want to b…

Confirmation Day

Gorsuch is in:Gorsuch's confirmation ends the longest Supreme Court vacancy since 1862 during the American Civil War, with the court down a justice for almost 14 months since long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, 2016.

"He's going to make an incredible addition to the court," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor.

McConnell said Gorsuch, who also worked in the Justice Department under Republican former President George W. Bush and is the son of the first woman to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has "sterling credentials, an excellent record and an ideal judicial temperament."

Illustrating the importance of the moment, Vice President Mike Pence served as the Senate's presiding officer during the vote.

Republicans, possessing a 52-48 Senate majority, on Thursday overcame a ferocious Democratic effort to block a confirmation vote by resorting to a rule change known as the "nuclear option.…

Tax Codes Are Hard

The average taxpayer knows the feeling:"Actually, I do get a refund myself. And what I usually do is then figure out how much of it I can use to start paying my estimated taxes for the next year, as that goes. So I'm just like everybody else – confused a little by the tax code. I do not do my own tax return, even though I went to law school and took tax courses, but the code, compared to when I was in law school, is phenomenally more complex and more difficult to understand,” Koskinen said during a National Press Club luncheon on Wednesday.

“My life is fairly simple. You become the IRS Commissioner and you give up a lot of stuff and get rid of a lot of stuff, so I'm a relatively simple economic being – but the annual return is still much more complicated than it needs to be,” he added.

Koskinen was asked if he thinks tax reform will be more difficult to accomplish than healthcare reform for the GOP-led Congress.

“I think it is. As someone noted, healthcare reform, as peop…

It's Blame All Around

Hillary knows who's responsible:“Certainly misogyny played a role,” Clinton told a Women in the World Summit on Thursday. “I mean, that has to be admitted.”

She then went on to claim that people felt uncomfortable with her being a successful woman, claiming that there is an “inverse relationship” between success and popularity that only applies to women.

Clinton’s comments were in response to a question on why she lost the election, to which she said she believed that there was no single reason.

“[Like] in any campaign, there are so many different crosscurrents and events, and some have a greater impact than others,” she said.All of them, apparently, except herself...

Missile Command

The US appears to have gotten much more involved in Syria:The strikes represented the first time a U.S. military operation deliberately targeted the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said the chemical attack in Idlib province on Tuesday had changed his thinking on Syria and Mr. Assad.

Speaking inside his Mar-a-Lago resort, President Trump said he ordered targeted missile strikes at a Syrian airfield as a response to the “barbaric” chemical weapons attack. The Assad regime, Mr. Trump said, “choked out the lives of helpless” people in Syria.

“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Mr. Trump said. “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons.”

The strike represented a limited operation and was intended in part to signal that the chemical attack wasn’t acceptable. But it also thrust Mr. Trump, his still-forming administrati…

Viva La Stink

The stench of the law:The case arose out of a long-running battle between neighbors in an apartment complex in the town of Monfalcone along the Adriatic coast. Nearby residents complained about a married couple cooking large vats of pungent pasta sauces and “fritti misti,” a mixed fried seafood dish.

The food fight was first heard by a local court in the town of Gorizia. There, the offending couple was found guilty of anti-social behavior. The couple appealed that decision, taking the squabble to a higher court in Trieste, a nearby city.

When the higher court upheld the lower court’s ruling, the disgruntled duo took the case all the way to Rome, which ultimately upheld the two lower courts’ rulings.

The Roman judges said the couple’s unrelenting cooking brought about “the emission of odors and noises in the overhead apartment on the third floor,” which is owned by a different couple. The scent was so poignant, the judges determined, it was “beyond the limits of tolerability” and const…

Fake But Inaccurate

Whose side is fake news on?According to the poll, 62 percent of Americans believe that the media favors one party over the other, while only 27 percent believe it favors neither party.

Gallup asked respondents, who said that the media favors a party, which party it favors: 64 percent said the media favors Democrats, and 22 percent said it favors Republicans.

Gallup notes that in 2003, the last time they asked the question, Americans were about evenly divided on media bias. They were also about evenly divided when Gallup first asked the question in 1995.

In December 2000, during the election recount between former President George W. Bush and his opponent, former Vice President Al Gore, just over half of Americans — 51 percent — said that the media had a partisan bias, while 41 said it did not.

Gallup notes that Americans who say that the media favors one party have consistently believed that it favors Democrats.In other real news, the Sun rises in the East...

Franco Is Still Dead

Don't make fun of a dead dictator's flunkies:Vera wrote 13 posts on Twitter between the years of 2013 and 2016 making light of the assassination of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, who was killed in a car bomb attack in 1973 carried out by the ETA, a group supporting the national liberation movement. Blanco was the prime minister of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

In the attack, Blanco’s car was blown over the roof of a church where he had just attended mass. Vera reportedly tweeted out remarks such as ““ETA combined a policy against the use of official vehicles with a space programme,” and “Did Carrero Blanco also go back to the future with his car?”

Although she was sentenced to the year-long jail term, Vera is not expected to actually serve the term because those in Spain convicted of a non-violent crime with a sentence less than two years are usually not imprisoned.If you can't offend a dead dictator, whom can you offend?

Nuked

The Republicans go there:The 52-48 party-line vote called for by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday will let the Senate confirm Neil Gorsuch on Friday to take a court seat that Republicans refused to let President Barack Obama fill during his last year in office.

The rule change means Gorsuch and all future Supreme Court nominees can be confirmed with a simple majority vote and will no longer face a 60-vote hurdle.

McConnell said Democrats’ move to filibuster Gorsuch is part of a “much larger story” in which the left is trying to politicize the courts and confirmations.

“It’s a fight they have waged for decades with a singular aim, securing raw power no matter the cost to the country or the institution,” McConnell of Kentucky said on the Senate floor. “It underlies why this threatened filibuster cannot be allowed to succeed."Honestly, what did the Democrats expect? But this is where we are.

Rice Runaround

Rand Paul has questions:“I don’t think she answered the question, ‘did she unmask people in the Trump administration?'” the Kentucky Republican first posed. “She said, ‘maybe I did, but I didn’t do it for political reasons.'”

“I think it’s incumbent on her to show to the American people why it wouldn’t have been a political reason.”

“If someone were investigating the Trump administration, it ought to be the F.B.I. not someone in the White house,” he continued. “She’s a political appointee that reports directly to the president.”

“The real question we need to ask is did the president eavesdrop and sift through all of the mountains of intelligence we have?”It sure looks like somebody did...

Common Cause

He hasn't forgotten:This month, concerns had arisen about Trump’s commitment to his oft-repeated campaign promise to end Common Core. Toward the tail end of his campaign, Trump’s message shifted from the termination of the controversial standards to school choice.

American Principles Project senior fellow Emmett McGroarty welcomes the return of Trump’s attention to the problematic standards that were quickly adopted by states in exchange for the promise of federal cash and relief from onerous federal regulations.

“More than any other President — or even presidential candidate — ever, Donald Trump has empathized with our citizens, particularly parents, who have seen firsthand the damage done by federal efforts to shape and dictate education policy,” McGroarty said in a statement.

“Today’s comments show that President Trump has not forgotten his promise to end Common Core and return to local control of education,” he added. “He is taking seriously the assurance he made in his Inaugu…