Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Worst Laid Plans

How not to escape:
Two years after his infamous prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility in Upstate New York, David Sweat plotted a potential escape from his newer cell in the maximum-security Five Points Correctional Facility. As detailed with flourish in Sunday’s New York Times, the scheme included homemade tools out of security screws, the disarming of an electric sensor and a tourniquet like device made out of water-soaked bedsheets to tear a hole in a grate. But, Sweat didn’t go through with his plan this time. He used his girlfriend as an intermediary to bargain the information for special privileges, including an extra visit with his lover each week and food packages. Instead of meeting his demands, prison officials moved him to the notorious Attica Correctional Facility.
The Shawshank Redemption, it wasn't...

Red Railroad

This is no way to run a railroad:
The National People’s Congress in Beijing voted on Wednesday to make part of the station subject to mainland laws, particularly immigration rules. The idea was to check passengers into China at the Hong Kong station, rather than making them leave the train and go through immigration procedures after the train passes over the border between Hong Kong and mainland China.

The rules were presented as a convenience to passengers, but the Chinese legislature raised hackles in Hong Kong by declaring it “appropriate” that the relevant portion of the Hong Kong train station be “regarded as belonging to mainland China.” This was seen as a direct violation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which states clearly that mainland laws do not apply.

The Chinese legislature wants the infraction ignored because it applies to such a small area, is directly related to mainland China’s legal concerns, and is intended to make the rail line more convenient for travelers.

“Setting up a Mainland Port Area inside the West Kowloon station does not change the administrative area of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, does not affect the HKSAR’s right to a high degree of autonomy accorded by the law, does not reduce or harm residents’ rights and freedoms accorded by the law,” the congress said in a statement.
A government run railroad? What could go wrong?

Drinking And Leaking Don't Mix

Friends don't let their campaign advisers talk drunk:
Then-Trump adviser George Papadopoulos allegedly made the comments to a key Australian diplomat while partying at an upscale London night club in May of 2016, according to the Times report. Papadopoulos reportedly knew that Russia had thousands of damaging emails about Hillary Clinton. And the emails had the potential to ruin her presidential bid.

Although Papadopoulos was viewed by some as insignificant, he was clearly more than a “coffee boy,” the report states.

“Interviews and previously undisclosed documents show that Mr. Papadopoulos played a critical role in this drama and reveal a Russian operation that was more aggressive and widespread than previously known.” The Times report states. “They add to an emerging portrait, gradually filled in over the past year in revelations by federal investigators, journalists and lawmakers, of Russians with government contacts trying to establish secret channels at various levels of the Trump campaign.”

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation.

What exactly did he say?
It’s not clear exactly what and how much Papadopoulos allegedly said to the Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, the Times reported. But two months later, leaked Democratic emails were published online. Australian officials noticed and passed along the information to “current and former American and foreign officials.”
Sometimes you need a designated conversationalist?

Safe Space Revolution

Everyone deserves a safe space-until they get shot:
"Government bodies should provide space for legal criticism and protest," Rouhani said in his first public comments since the protests began on Thursday.

He also said US President Donald Trump had "no right" to sympathise with Iranian protesters who he has previously called terrorists.

"This man who today in America wants to sympathise with our people has forgotten that a few months ago he called the nation of Iran terrorist," Rouhani told the cabinet meeting.

"This person whose whole being is against the nation of Iran has no right to feel pity for the people of Iran."
What about a theocratic regime that has no pity for its own people?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bill Nye The Sanctions Guy

Because states are like countries, or something:
Nye said, “Only 40 percent of people in the U.S. think that Congress should be addressing this and that’s because certain conservative groups, especially from the fossil fuel industry, have been very successful in introducing the idea that scientific uncertainty, plus or minus two percent, is the same as plus or minus 100 percent.”

He continued, “There’s a lot of emphasis from conservatives on what are writ-large states rights. Just watch out, conservatives, if states rights include California, Illinois, New York — these places that, where people voted in a progressive fashion — watch out if all those places start to address climate change and then impose economic sanctions, either overtly or by default, on places that have not embraced the work that needs to be done. Then you’ll end up with this states rights working the other way.”
You will be punished, he said...

Big Government Bonus Time

Who had a good year at your expense?
the report details the roughly $1 million per minute that taxpayers spend on the $136 billion in pay and benefits to federal workers — over $20.6 billion of which is contained within the Washington, DC “Beltway” alone. Recent years have reportedly seen a marked increase in large payouts, with 165% more federal employees making more than $200,000 a year, and 406,960 making at least $100,000. These findings prompted Open The Books to dub $100,000 the “minimum wage” for government employees.

The most-paid man in the federal government is reportedly a heart surgeon at the Department of Veterans Affairs who is bringing in $403,849 annually, while the largest bonus was reportedly $141,525 paid out to a human resources manager at Presidio Trust in San Francisco. The aforementioned surgeon makes more money than President Donald Trump himself. The average worker takes 10 holidays off, 13 sick days, and 20 vacations days — and up to two full months of vacation, after three years’ employment.
Working less for more is the government way...

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Long Mile

How much for just the track?
The estimated cost of the Long Island Rail Road project, known as “East Side Access,” has ballooned to $12 billion, or nearly $3.5 billion for each new mile of track — seven times the average elsewhere in the world. The recently completed Second Avenue subway on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and the 2015 extension of the No. 7 line to Hudson Yards also cost far above average, at $2.5 billion and $1.5 billion per mile, respectively.

Continue reading the main story
The spending has taken place even as the M.T.A. has cut back on core subway maintenance because, as The New York Times has documented, generations of politicians have diverted money from the transit authority and saddled it with debt.

The Times found that a host of factors have contributed to the transit authority’s exorbitant capital costs.

For years, The Times found, public officials have stood by as a small group of politically connected labor unions, construction companies and consulting firms have amassed large profits.
A little graft goes a long way...

Robots Don't Care

Some people just need to vent:
It's a robot, dummy! No matter what you do, it can't hear you or respond. So the only people you jerks are upsetting are little kids who came to have a magical time with their parents (who blew a ridiculous amount of money).

(And is he saying "F*ck him up!" or "Lock him up?" I can't tell. And knowing the left, it's probably the former.)

TDS is fast becoming a plague that Merck should seriously spend some time and money trying to solve. There's got to be a pill for this. Someone needs to do something about the unhinged among us who can't stop themselves from screaming at strangers in salons and trying to shout down a robot that doesn't even resemble President Trump.
But it's close enough for the nutcases...

Please Don't Steal This Election

Because he'll come for your votes, or something:
Soltis Anderson said she is worried that if Republicans face large losses in 2018, President Trump will fear having a Democratic Congress that may begin to pursue impeachment proceedings and the result will be an attempt to question “the validity of elections, period.”

The bizarre theory demonstrates the paranoia that is often depicted on liberal networks and the statement is even stranger because it was uttered by a Republican.

She admitted that her theory isn’t “likely” but compared the scenario to what has occurred during the aftermath of a special election in Alabama. Doug Jones became the first Democrat in 25 years to be confirmed as the winner of a Senate seat in the state, but his opponent hasn’t conceded and even filed a lawsuit urging officials to delay certification because of “systematic election fraud.”
It's paranoia all the way down...

The European Imperium?

Gee, I wonder why:
The plan to turn the bloc into a federal superstate by 2025 was put forward by Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament and a contender for German chancellor, earlier this month.

He called for an EU constitution and for the bloc to rapidly expand its power and erode the sovereignty of nation-states, as well as demanding that any country standing in the way must be ejected.

In a survey conducted before Christmas and published Thursday, YouGov found that 30 per cent of German respondents favoured the idea, making Germany the country that was most supportive of the plan among the seven European nations surveyed.
Too bad for them nobody else seems to be...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Moore No More

It's over:
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Jones will be certified as the winner of the Dec. 12 election on Thursday afternoon. He will be sworn in on Jan. 3.

A spokesman for Jones earlier called Moore’s action a “desperate attempt … to subvert the will of the people.”

“The election is over. It’s time to move on,” Sam Coleman wrote in an email.

Jones defeated Moore by about 20,000 votes. Moore’s campaign was deeply wounded by accusations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls decades ago. Moore denied the accusations and said he has taken and passed a polygraph test to prove they are false.

Moore’s attorney wrote in the wide-ranging complaint that he believed there were irregularities during the election, including that voters may have been brought in from other states. He attached a statement from a poll worker that she had noticed licenses from Georgia and North Carolina as people signed in to vote.

The complaint also noted the higher-than-expected turnout in the race, particularly in Jefferson County, and said Moore’s numbers were suspiciously lower than straight-ticket Republican voting in about 20 Jefferson County precincts. The complaint asked for a fraud investigation and eventually a new election.
Time to ride off into the sunset...

For White Hippies Only

Because farmer's markets are racist, or something:
The Routledge anthology, “Just Green Enough,” features the musings of SDSU professors Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando J. Bosco, who believe that the “whiteness of farmers’ markets” contributes to “environmental gentrification” wherein “environmental improvements” are a catalyst in displacing long-term, indigenous residents.

According to Campus Reform, Joassart-Marcelli and Bosco argued that farmers’ markets in urban areas are also exclusionary, because oftentimes, many residents cannot afford the food and “feel excluded from these new spaces.”

The duo also alleged that 44 percent of San Diego area farmers’ markets cater to “households from higher socio-economic backgrounds,” which, in turn, helps to increase property values and effectively “[displaces] low-income residents and people of color.”
Your tomatoes are racist?

The Doctor Is Out

The bad side of Doctor Phil:
America’s best-known television doctor presents himself as a crusader for recovery who rescues people from their addictions — and even death. But in its pursuit of ratings, the “Dr. Phil” show has put at risk the health of some of those guests it purports to help, according to people who have been on the show and addiction experts. Guests have been left without medical help as they face withdrawal from drugs, a STAT/Boston Globe investigation has found, and one person said she was directed by a show staff member to an open-air drug market to find heroin for her detoxing niece.

While McGraw has been buffeted by controversy and lawsuits since he broke out as a celebrity on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” two decades ago, the show’s handling of guests seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders has largely escaped scrutiny.

McGraw declined an interview request through a “Dr. Phil” show representative. Martin Greenberg, a psychologist who serves as the show’s director of professional affairs, said guests have never been provided alcohol or directed to where to buy drugs.

In a statement, he denied Herzog was left alone with a bottle of vodka in his dressing room, or given Xanax. “We do not do that with this guest or any other,” he wrote. He called the allegations “absolutely, unequivocally untrue.”
True or not, it's a good reason why you should trust a real doctor more than the TV version...

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

How To Hire A Spy

How the KGB recruited spies:
THE 108-PAGE DOCUMENT is marked “secret” in Russian and titled “Political Intelligence from the Territory of the USSR.” It is dated Moscow, 1989 (the year the Soviet bloc collapsed) and comes with the following disclaimer: “Approved by the USSR KGB PGU as a teaching manual for students of the Andropov Red Banner Institute in special discipline course 1 and agents of external intelligence.” PGU stands for Pervoye Glavnoye Upravlenie, or the First Chief Directorate, and the Andropov Red Banner Institute is the famous finishing school for Soviet operatives.

The document is a how-to guide for recruiting and running foreign agents who traveled to the Soviet Union, using institutions ostensibly dedicated to everything but espionage. Such as?

Well, such as: “The Foreign Ministry, the Ministry for Foreign Economic Ties, the State Education Committee, the Ministry of Culture, the Peace Committee, the Academy of Science, etc. can be used as well as theatre, art shows, cinema, tourism… Opportunities for contact with foreigners come when they have to solve problems and resolve a conflict situation, for example, violation of customs rules, road accidents, or violation of other Soviet laws. Agents can be placed in trains, planes and hotels to make these approaches.”
Just tell them you are on vacation, comrade...

The Cure For The Disease

Welcome to the Love Hospital:
A married woman who took advantage of the “Weiqing Love Hospital” described the service as a combination of extensive marriage counselling, including lessons on “positivity and how to be a better, more dutiful wife,” plus strongarm tactics in which “operatives” were sent to “persuade” her husband’s 24-year-old secretary that “she could do better than hang around with a man twice her age.”

This package of services is described as costing thousands of dollars, but the BBC does not reveal whether the goon squad sent to “persuade” the secretary cost more than the marriage counselors. There is also no mention of whether Mr. X attended any of the sessions at which Mrs. X was taught how to save her marriage by becoming a more dutiful wife. Evidently, part of the “mistress dispelling” process involves reminding women that under Chinese divorce law, their husbands don’t have to part with money or assets they held before the marriage began, and the husband’s family usually gets custody of the children.

Clinic co-founder Shu Xin was coy about exactly how mistresses are “dispelled,” discussing only four of the 33 techniques he said he has developed. The four methods he was willing to talk about are amusingly underhanded: “persuading the mistress to fall in love with someone else, getting the husband’s boss to relocate him to a different city, getting parents or friends to intervene, and attempting to disgust the mistress by describing the husband’s rotten character and nasty hereditary diseases.”

The other 29 techniques are trade secrets that could not be discussed with the press, which is rather ominous when one of the techniques Shu was prepared to discuss involves convincing mistresses that their married paramours are rotten S.O.B.s teeming with communicable diseases.
Wealthy Communist problems?

The Least Private Place On Earth

No more privacy at the inns?
The markers have been swapped out for “Room Occupied” signs that will alert maintenance and staff that guests are currently in their rooms, but will not stop Disney staff from coming in.

The sign accompanies another new policy that requires Disney employees to enter each hotel room at least once a day to ensure “the safety and security of guests and property,” Walt Disney World News Today reports.

Under the old rules, employees would pass by rooms marked with the “Do Not Disturb” sign. However, now Disney says “the hotel and its staff reserve the right to enter your room for any purpose including, but not limited to, performing maintenance and repairs or checking on the safety and security of guests and property.”

Though guests will no longer have the option to keep staff out, the company assures that its guests will be given notice prior to entering the room by knocking and announcing that they are coming in, WDWNT reports.
Your room is their room...

The Blue Train

So Thomas the Tank Engine is apparently a fascist:
"'Thomas,' the long-running television franchise about a group of working trains chugging away on the Island of Sodor, has been called a 'premodern corporate-totalitarian dystopia' in the New Yorker, imperialist and sinister in Slate, and classist, sexist and anti-environmentalist in the Guardian. And yet people -- presumably parents -- spend $1 billion on 'Thomas' merchandise every year," Strauss said.

She added that "'Paw Patrol' is equally polarizing. The show, about a group of rescue dogs led by a boy named Ryder, is a regular source of complaint among parents and of adoration among their kids.... 'Paw Patrol' is ubiquitous. Branded merchandise featuring Ryder and the gang outsells most other television shows, according to recent data from the Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association. A recent Amazon search for 'Paw Patrol' yielded 24,814 results."

The problem is, kids like these shows, which weren't meant to be political. These shows tend to revolve around following the rules, something the left had no problem with prior to a total GOP takeover of the government. Now that we have President Trump, it's an issue.
While we're on the subject of fascist animation, I wonder what the left's thoughts are on the feud between the white (well, gray and white) Bugs Bunny and the black Daffy Duck?

Getting Over Her

Vanity Fair dares to mock Her:
Vanity Fair’s editors posted a video of themselves drinking wine and giving Clinton 6 pieces of advice for 2018. While sipping wine, the editors advise Clinton to steer clear of politics in the new year and completely forget about running again in 2020.

The video sparked immediate backlash on Twitter, even starting a #CancelVanityFair hashtag.

Former advisor to the 2008 Clinton campaign Peter Daou called the video a “cheap shot” at “one of the most accomplished women in the history of the United States.”
Accomplished at what, exactly? Her own supporters couldn't say. How could anyone else?

Great Scott

Ridley Scott speaks truth to Hollywood:
While out doing publicity for his latest movie, All the Money in the World, the 80-year-old behind such iconic films as Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, The Martian, Thelma and Louise, and Black Rain, was not even asked about President Trump or taxes. Answering a question about the “value of human life, class struggles and the role of wealth in society” and how it pertains to the “this moment in America,” Scott volunteered this defense:

Well, let’s take the tax bill. People say (Republicans) are doing it for the wealthy class. What they forget is if you get a clever, un-selfish business person — I don’t care if it’s a corner store or a big business — who’s suddenly saving 15 percent, they’ll put it back in this business. Then you’re going to get growth and therefore (people) will get employed.
....

I’m a natural-born hunter because that’s who I am. No one taught me that. I started from scratch. I arrived in Hollywood with a wristwatch and stayed at the YMCA. You have to learn the curve. But don’t (expletive) moan about it. It’s about doing. There’s always a way in.
Moaners need not apply...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Full Time Job

Mueller probably isn't going anywhere soon:
In August, Ty Cobb, one of the lawyers handling the White House’s approach to the Russia inquiry, said: ““I’d be embarrassed if this is still haunting the White House by Thanksgiving and worse if it’s still haunting him by year end.”

However, with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleading guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI, and the ongoing prosecution of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to the campaign itself, there is every possibility that the Special Counsel will extend his investigation for months or even years, even if he strays far afield from his original mandate to probe Russian “collusion.”
Every investigator needs something to do in their spare time...

No Country For Snowflakes

it's hard out there for a liberal:
American culture and U.S. politics are under growing duress. Conservatives are becoming less democratic, more fearful and more aggressive. Instead of purging their predators and liars, they are nominating them for high office. The White House is run by people who exhibit contempt for suckers who tell the truth and follow the law. A bitter, nation-defining fight -- likely over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and its consequences -- is coming.

To preserve the institutions they revere, and on which civil society depends, liberals have to shed some ungainly weight, muscle up and step into the ring.
Fight to lose?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Pagan Day

How we got our Christmas spirit:
Christmas did not become an official, federal holiday in America until June 26, 1870. Before then, whether Christmas was celebrated at all depended largely on the region. The Puritan pilgrims shunned celebrations of Christmas where they settled, whereas the settlers of Jamestown celebrated Christ’s birth freely, according to History. Boston actually outlawed Christmas from 1659 to 1681, and authorities fined any citizen perceived to celebrate it. Rejection of Christmas became more widespread after the American Revolution, as Christmas was seen as an English practice.

Christmas became popular in America in the early 19th century, however, largely due to the influence of authors Washington Irving and Charles Dickens. Irving and Dickens reinvented Christmas celebrations in their works, beginning with Irving’s “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent,” and followed by Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Irving’s work, published in 1819, presented a series of Christmas celebration activities, all of them almost utterly fictitious, which portrayed Christmas as a peaceful time in which different groups of people joined together in harmony. Dickens’ work, published in 1843, furthered that perception with the message that Christmas was about having and displaying generosity and good will toward all and love toward one’s family.
And then came the airing of grievances:

Merry Crazy

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

Judge Arthur L. Alarcon read from the psychiatrist’s report in court in September 1971, according to a FrontPage Magazine report.

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

“This man now presents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and delusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment,” the report said.
You don't have to be crazy to create a fake holiday-oh, wait...

"That Looks Like A Giant..."

No, it wasn't aliens:
The streak of white light would create what turned out to be a fish-shaped pattern, prompting locals to speculate on social media as to what it was.

Local television stations as well as law enforcement agencies received a number of telephone calls from amazed witnesses who were eventually told that what they saw was a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California.

One news report said that at least 130 people in just one part of Los Angeles County called 911 on Friday evening.
....

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, quipped on Twitter that the object in the sky was a 'nuclear alien UFO from North Korea.'

Twitter users were having a ball with the sighting.

'#SpaceX gotta give a better Public notice... I aint know if this was a Rocket, aliens, Santa Claus, or North Korea,' tweeted one user.

The reused SpaceX rocket that was launched on Friday carried 10 satellites into space from California.
Doctor Evil couldn't be reached for comment...

Santa Goes South?

So claims a Canadian website:
Policy Horizons was created to advise government officials on emerging public policy issues. The group put out a series of Christmas-themed blog posts that tie into emerging liberal policy concerns.

Horizons also put out blog posts on Santa relying on a self-flying sleigh, investing in Bitcoin and even using 3D printing technology to make toys. The latest blog post, however, is meant to focus on climate refugees.

“Santa’s relocation agreement marks the first time that the international community agrees on a common legal definition of climate change that includes refugees as corporations, as well as individuals,” reads the Horizons website.

“This deal is expected to lead to the deployment of a global climate change refugee visa system that in the near future could help to more easily relocate individuals and corporations facing the impacts of climate change,” the website continues.

Politicians and environmentalists have been claiming for years that man-made global warming will increase the number of peoples displaced by extreme weather events and violent conflicts.
But what about the elves?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bad Elf

No holiday for them:
As AOL reports, the Kim Jong Un’s recent edict to ban any “gatherings that involve alcohol and singing” will certainly affect any residual holiday merrymaking.

The news of North Korea’s latest assault on fun came courtesy of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. The regime justified the move saying participants may transmit or receive forbidden messages of political opposition while they indulge in unrestrained Christmas caroling.

Kim is apparently worried that economic sanctions aimed at North Korea are driving more of the population into open rebellion. By any estimate, those sanctions are taking an increasingly painful toll on a country that is already short of everything except government propaganda.

The North Korean dictator actually banned Christmas last year. Kim urged citizens to honor the memory of Kim’s grandmother — who just happened to be born on Dec. 24, 1919.
It was definitely an unholy night...

The Government's Secret Santa

Never let a year go to waste:
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake released part of a special Christmas-themed wastebook Friday, highlighting projects like subsidies for a reindeer slaughter house, dressing a man in a Santa Claus outfit as part of a traffic sting operation, and helping a confectioners trade association market candies and sweets.

“After years of playing secret Santa for special interests, the U.S. national debt now surpasses $20 trillion, and for that, Congress deserves a lump of coal,” Flake said in a statement.
....

The largest item on Flake’s wastebook is a $1.3 million Department of Agriculture grant to the National Confectioners Association (NCA) to promote companies who make chocolate, candy, gum and mints. The grant, awarded for 2018, matches up to 50 percent of costs for promotional activities “including advertising, sample shipments, public relations, seminars, certain publication expenditures and many trade show-related expenses.”

NCA’s members include sugar giants like The Hershey Company, Nestlé USA, Mars, Russell Stover Chocolates, and Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc.
Everybody gets their stocking stuffers...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Geography Is Hard

Washington where?
District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton sent a letter Tuesday to TSA Administrator David Pekoske Wednesday about a Washington, D.C. resident who had issues at the Newark International Airport with her driver’s license.

Holmes Norton said that a TSA officer denied that the I.D. was valid and had to consult with colleagues before allowing the D.C. resident to catch her flight.

“As I am sure you can imagine, it can be humiliating for a U.S. citizen to be delayed because a federal government does not recognize the name of the District of Columbia,” Del. Holmes Norton wrote in her letter.

A Washington journalist tweeted in 2014 that a TSA agent in Orlando “never heard of ‘District of Columbia.’ Demanded passport because he didn’t believe my drivers license was from US!?”
Welcome to America, from America?

Desperate Blues

Yes, they are getting ready for it:
When it comes to the i-word, most Democrats have walked a tightrope — with even Nadler hesitant to mention impeachment in interviews before votes were cast Wednesday.

Leaders have cautioned the rank and file not to push for impeachment, because the public might view it as an overreach. The House’s few remaining moderate Democrats from swing districts have regularly warned the party’s liberal flank against making the 2018 midterm elections about Trump or the investigations into his presidential campaign.

“Look, Robert S. Mueller III is on the case,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), from a western Illinois district that swung to Trump last year. “We’ve got to let him do what he’s going to do and let the facts go wherever they’re going to go. In the end the truth comes out, but I don’t think we need to rush anything more than that.”
But it seems they will anyway...

Whose Plan?

This is not the plan they think it is:

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Team Clinton's Turn?

Turnabout is fair play?
The Mueller investigation is arguably a case of "lawfare" against the Trump administration, similar to the Obama investigation into the Bush CIA and similar to the pending Uranium One investigation into Hillary Clinton. Political opponents often engage in legal investigations as an attempt to discredit their political enemies.

The Clinton camp's response to Uranium One investigations — that this is a "debunked" story distracting from real matters of national security — mimics the Trump deflections on the Mueller investigation well.

It may be that analysts on the Right rush to connect the breadcrumbs in Uranium One in much the same way as analysts on the Left rush to connect the breadcrumbs in Trump-Russia. The evidence for bribery in the case of Uranium One seems much more firmly established than the evidence for treason in Trump-Russia, however.
Will the real traitors please take the stand?

One Vote, No Money

Nikki Haley puts the UN on notice:
In a speech ahead of the vote, Haley tore into the general assembly countries, accusing them of anti-Israel bias and a lack of respect for the U.S. and its financial contributions to the U.N. She warned that the Trump administration would keep the vote in mind when U.N. countries ask for assistance in the future.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley said. “We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

The vote in the general assembly came three days after the U.S. vetoed the same resolution in a vote within the 15-member U.N. security council. After blocking the security council resolution, Trump suggested Wednesday that a general assembly vote against his Jerusalem decision could affect “billions of dollars” in U.S. foreign aid.

“Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot,” he said. “We don’t care. This isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing.”
At the very least they could be forced to pay their parking tickets...

Party Of Debt

Where did all the money go?
This is the lowest fundraising year for the DNC in an non-election year since 2007.

The DNC has reported low fundraising numbers all year. In June, Democrat nominee Jon Ossoff ran for Congress in Georgia’s 6th district in the most expensive House race ever, and lost.

The RNC closed November 2017 with $39.9 million cash on hand, while the DNC closed November 2017 with $2.6 million in debt.
Waste not, lose not...

No Impeachment, Please

A Democrat surrenders:
Coons said, “I’m not calling for the president’s impeachment at this point because I don’t think we’ve seen the sorts of evidence that would justify it at this point. I’m a political realist. It’s a Republican-controlled House and Senate. Impeachment won’t move forward unless there is something that shocks the conscience of the average American and persuades a majority of Republicans this president committed high crimes and misdemeanors. It’s premature to even discuss that.”
Wait for it-or not...

Fake Or Fail

Facebook discovers that stopping "fake news" isn't as easy as they thought it would be:
Facebook published two posts on their blog recently, both mentioning that the tag would soon be dropped. One of the posts reads:

Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs — the opposite effect to what we intended. Related Articles, by contrast, are simply designed to give more context, which our research has shown is a more effective way to help people get to the facts. Indeed, we’ve found that when we show Related Articles next to a false news story, it leads to fewer shares than when the Disputed Flag is shown.

In another post published on the blogging platform Medium by three Facebook staffers working to prevent the spread of what they consider to be fake news on the platform, the staffers explained that giving more context to stories led to a sharp drop in the spread of allegedly fake news and that adding related articles to a disputed story was more effective than just branding it with a tag:

During these tests, we learned that although click-through rates on the hoax article don’t meaningfully change between the two treatments, we did find that the Related Articles treatment led to fewer shares of the hoax article than the disputed flag treatment.

The three staffers claim that academic research shows that further context given to fake news could help to “reduce misperceptions.”
If it weren't real, would they still know?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

With Your Permission

No unwanted sex please, we're Swedish:
The government has said the new laws, which will go into effect in July of next year, will require both partners to have explicit verbal or written consent in order to engage in sexual activity, or be open to potential rape charges Die Welt reports.

Previously Swedish law stated that sexual relations were deemed consensual as long as neither partner said “no” except in cases of extreme intoxication. The new legislation claims to only require oral permission beforehand but many have speculated that in a potential rape allegation it would be wiser to have the permission written down on paper.

Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven defended the new legislation on Sunday saying, “The message is simple. You need to ask the person you want to have sex about if she wants it. If you are unsure, you have to leave it. Sex must be voluntary.”
To be signed in triplicate?

Pie Man

He came for the pies, and freedom:
Orion heard about the defector’s craving for the popular snack and decided to send him boxes to welcome him to South Korea. The company sent 100 boxes to the hospital to start off.

“We sent the Choco Pies as a welcoming present to Oh, who came to Korea after going through hardship. It was not an act for publicity,” an Orion spokesperson told the Korea Herald.

Oh told officials he knew about the sweet snacks after North Korean workers got a hold of them at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, located across the demilitarized zone, where South Korean companies could manufacture their products using North Korean labor.
Pies for peace?

Unquiet Waters

Ted Kennedy is gone, but his past still comes back to haunt his legacy:

Beyond The Treeline

I think that I shall never see:
Many longtime residents of the neighborhood previously told The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun they believed the trees were planted for racist reasons in the 1960s, and remained a lasting remnant of the history of segregation in the city. Residents said the invasive tamarisks, which block views of the Tahquitz Creek Golf Course and San Jacinto mountains, have artificially depressed property values and prevented black families from accumulating wealth in their property over the past half century.

Roberts apologized to the Crossley Tract residents for any wrongdoing by the city in the past and said he and the rest of the council wanted to make the necessary changes to ensure future generations didn’t have to deal with the same problems current and past residents faced.

“You asked why it took us this long,” Roberts told about 50 residents gathered for the meeting. “I can’t answer that. But guess what? We’re here now.”

Moon said Sunday he and Roberts had only a combined four years on the council and the problems posed by the trees only recently came to their attention. Moon said after he became aware of the issue, he visited the neighborhood to get a first-hand idea of what residents' concerns were.

Both Moon and Roberts assured residents that the neighborhood had the support of the entire council.

“It’s a new city council and a new time,” Moon said.
What about other forms of vegetation? Would palm trees be acceptable?

Who Hosts For More?

Working for less on cable:
Ms. Sadler, who co-hosted at the E! News desk with Mr. Kennedy and hosted “Daily Pop,” E!’s daytime talk show that launched in May, made the announcement Tuesday on her personal blog, saying she decided to leave her dream job after learning “there was a massive disparity in pay” between her and her “similarly situated male co-host,” who started at the network the same year she did.

“Information is power,” she wrote. “Or it should be. We are living in a new era. The gender pay gap is shrinking, although admittedly we have a long way to go. And well, I learned this first hand. My team and I asked for what I know I deserve and were denied repeatedly.

“Know your worth,” she continued. “I have two decades experience in broadcasting and started at the network the very same year as my close friend and colleague that I adore. I so lovingly refer to him as my ‘tv husband’ and I mean it. But how can I operate with integrity and stay on at E if they’re not willing to pay me the same as him? Or at least come close? How can I accept an offer that shows they do not value my contributions and paralleled dedication all these years? How can I not echo the actions of my heroes and stand for what is right no matter what the cost? How can I remain silent when my rights under the law have been violated?”
Adore your co-host, hate his salary...

Land Over Law

The Justice Department seems to have messed up:
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro also dismissed the jurors after seven weeks of testimony on charges brought against Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and Ryan Payne in Las Vegas federal court.

“The judge is obligated to disclose all evidence that might be favorable” to defense attorneys, she said.

She said the federal prosecution had failed to disclose information in five areas: “records about surveillance and snipers at the Bundy Ranch; unredacted FBI logs about activity at the ranch in the days around the standoff; threat assessments about the Bundys dating to 2012; and internal affairs reports about the BLM,” according to the Arizona Republic.

The mistrial comes as the second this year involving the 19 defendants in the three-tiered trial and another defeat for the Justice Department in cases involving the Bundy family and its protests against federal land-management policies in Nevada and Oregon.
You need a case to make a case...

No Plan, No Pay

In another win, Obamacare is officially dead:
Trump said, “The individual mandate is being repealed. When the individual mandate is being repealed that means Obamacare is being repealed because they get their money from the individual mandate. So the individual mandate is being repealed. So in this bill not only do we have massive tax cuts and tax reform, we have essentially repealed Obamacare. And we’ll come up with something that will be much better. Whether it’s block grants or whether it’s taking what we have and doing something terrific. But Obamacare has been repealed in this bill.”

He added, “We didn’t want to bring it up. I tell people specifically, be quiet with media because I don’t want them talking too much about it, because I didn’t know how people — but now that it’s approved, I can say the individual mandate on health care where you had to pay not to have insurance — okay, think of that one. You pay not to have insurance. The individual mandate has been repealed.”
Now you just pay if you want insurance, but isn't that the way it's supposed to work?

Losers On The Left

Tax cuts passed, socialists hardest hit:
Sanders said, “Well, it is a victory for billionaires like Donald Trump. It’s a victory for wealthy campaign contributors like the Koch brothers. But this is a disaster for the American people. According to the Tax Policy Center, at the end of ten years, Wolf, 83 percent of the tax benefits go to the top 1 percent. Sixty-percent of the benefits go to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.”

He added, “This whole policy is based on the fraudulent theory of trickle-down economics, and that is if you give huge tax breaks to large corporations and the wealthy, somehow the middle-class and working families benefit. The problem is that theory has never worked. It didn’t work under Reagan. It didn’t work under George W. Bush. It certainly didn’t work recently in the state of Kansas. This is a payback for wealthy campaign contributors, and I think the Republicans will rue the day —they may be celebrating today, but I have the feeling that next November they will not be celebrating quite as much.”
It depends on how much of their own money they'll have, won't it?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Merry Taxmus

Here come the cuts:
Households earning between $40,000 and $200,000 make up around half of all American households, according to JCT data. Pew Research defines the American middle class for a family of three as running from $42,000 to $125,000 of pretax income. The JCT data do not break out data between $100,000 to $200,000, so its impossible to narrow the range without excluding many middle-income Americans.

The JCT data supports the Trump administration’s position that the middle-class would significantly benefit from the tax bill. Critics have said that the bill would not benefit the middle-class, an argument that the JCT data prove is false.

The very wealthy recieve a far smaller share of the tax cuts. Those earning over $1 million will receive 14 percent of the tax cuts, according to JCT data. Most of the benefit to the wealthy comes in the form of cuts to business taxes rather than individual taxes.
These are the cuts you have been looking for?

Send In The Troops

Bring in the blue helmets?
“Eighty percent of those who are being killed by gun violence are African American, and often killed at the hands of another African American,” he said to WBBM. “So we must protect these population groups, and that’s what the United Nations does. They’re a peacekeeping force. They know all about keeping the peace, and so we’re hopeful that they’ll hear our appeal.”

Boykin added that U.N. peacekeepers have been called on “in places like Africa and abroad” to “help protect minority and vulnerable populations, and so quite frankly I think the same can be said for here in Chicago,” the station said.

“I’m talking about physical security,” he told WBBM. “I’m also talking about maybe suggestions for what we can do in Chicago to help protect our minority populations. We’re being, again, decimated by the violence that we see here in Chicago. I mean this is really a genocide, and we have to do something to stop it.”

Boykin also told the station “we can’t wait until the mayor comes up with another 1,000 police to try to make the streets safer. Quite frankly, the people want to be safe right now in their homes and their neighborhoods, and we want to make sure that they’re safe.”
Actually, parts of Africa might be safer...

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Dead California Dream

The no longer Golden State:
Researchers at the Fraser Institute teamed with the U.S.-based Independent Institute’s Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation to gain insight into how much of America’s dismal loss of competitive standing was caused by California’s two-decade lurch to the left.

What they found is that California is now the second-least economically free state, with a score of 5.8 out of 10. That is about 30 percent lower than New Hampshire — America’s most economically free state, with a score of 8.3. New York continued to capture the booby prize for the least economically free with a score of 5.3.

To give a sense of just how far California has fallen, the nation of Mexico has a score of 6.17, or about 6.4 percent higher than California.

Independent Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan stated that California has become so toxic for economic opportunity that 10,000 businesses left the Golden State, reduced operations, or expanded elsewhere over the last 7 years. Census data reveal that 3.5 million residents left California for greener pastures from 2010 to 2015.
The Left won't set you free...

The Book Of Fraud

They did it for Kolob:

Bay State Bust

Massachusetts goes all in for mediocrity:
The fall in scores in the Bay State since Common Core was adopted is especially noteworthy, given the state’s prior first place ranking, but between 2011 and 2015, Massachusetts was one of 16 states that experienced a drop in their NAEP scores.

“The evidence is building that it was a demonstrable mistake for Massachusetts to adopt these standards,” said Jamie Gass, director of Pioneer’s Center for School Reform, according to the Gloucester Times. “It’s pretty clear from the recent data that we’re backsliding as a state. Common Core is failing kids.”

Another international measure of reading skills released last week showed that the achievement gap in the United States has widened since implementation of Common Core, a progressive reform that was supposedly going to shrink that gap.

According to results released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2016, the average score in the U.S. on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) dropped to 549 out of 1,000 from the average score of 556 in 2011. The results translate into the nation’s decline from fifth in international ranking in 2011 to 13th in 2016 out of 58 international education systems.
Common ground against Common Core?

The Last Jedis

Feel the Force:
The film “American Jedi” examines a group of “Star Wars” fans who see themselves as “real life Jedi” guarding peace in the galaxy, filmmaker Laurent Malaquais told the Huffington Post.

“The cinema was always a sacred space for me and ‘Star Wars’ kept bringing me back there,” he said.

He credited his upbringing in Northern California by parents whom he called “hippies” with giving him an open mind about religion.

“I grew up in an environment where spirituality was about being inclusive of many religious practices,” he said. “I connected with the idea of being a Jedi, which is half warrior and half enlightened seeker of spiritual truth.”

According to the Huffington Post, “American Jedi” follows one follower of Jediism in particular: Opie Macleod. While they were living in the Jedi community, Macleod discovered his wife was having an affair with his friend Miles Robinson, described as “a practicing Sith.”
I have a bad feeling about this...

Bernie Bigots

Democratic racists strike again?
The three flyers discovered Thursday at Temple University stated: “Hey you stupid n*****s Bernie would have won if it wasn’t for you. Seriously, f*** you all. This is all your fault.” This link shows an unredacted image of the flyers. (Content warning: Racial slur and profanity.)

Black voters overwhelming favored Clinton over Sanders in the primaries, WPVI-TV said.

“This is disgusting, hateful, and has no place on our campus,” Temple spokesman Ray Betzner told Philly.com, adding that campus police “are reviewing video footage and seeking witnesses who may have seen something.”

The national NAACP noted that students “should never have to face this type of hatred!”
Then maybe you should stop supporting the Party that practices it?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Beware The Fake News

It's a sin:
Now, we have no idea whether the pope is referring to Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer (we're guessing he doesn't keep on top of Hollywood or morning TV "news," so probably neither). And he's totally right that "giving just one side of the argument" or offering nothing more than "disinformation" is sensationalist — or more accurately, downright dishonest.

But finding "outdated and old things and bringing them to light" is pretty much what's been going on since the #metoo campaign against sexual harassment blew up in September. It's what has driven several elected lawmakers out of federal office and brought closure to hundreds of women who have lived for years with their private pain.

Still, the pope makes some good points. He says journalists have a noble mission and are bound — or should be, anyway — by the requirement to deliver “a version of the facts conforming as closely as possible to reality.” But that isn't happening now, he said, saying media is often dominated “by the drive for sensationalism” and “overheating of emotion” rather than “thoughtful reflection.”
Thou shalt not spread fake news...

Big Mouth

Hardball gets hit:
The woman alleged to executives that Matthews made “inappropriate comments and jokes about her while in the company of others” while she worked on his show “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

The network claims that they gave Matthews a “formal reprimand” at the time and concluded that his remarks were “inappropriate and juvenile” but did not constitute sexual propositioning by Matthews. MSNBC refused to answer whether this was the only claim made against Matthews in his history at the company.

The revelations about Matthews are the latest in an embarrassing run for NBC Universal as the network has been rocked with covering up major sexual assault reports, firing employees for sexual misconduct, and retaining an employee who made homophobic remarks in blog posts.
He gave them no thrills down their legs...

Entering Another Dimension

Submitted for your consideration:
It sometimes feels like period pastiche, a sort of sci-fi Rocky Horror Picture Show, and sometimes aspires to seem real and be alarming. And often it is marooned between those extremes. (It does not, it must be said, use too much of Marius Constant's famous theme tune.)

Anyway, the evening opens in stilted, self-mocking fashion in an Edward Hopper diner. There, a parody sheriff is ominously wondering why a bus, unable to get through a perilous bridge ahead, now contains seven passengers when it set out with six.

Has it, he gasps, been infiltrated by someone or something from outer space? And actually it has, as we discover later in the evening. Agatha Christie style, the most unexpected of the passengers turns out to be the alien, the only survivor when the bridge duly collapses with the bus on top.

Even greater oddities follow, but the acting of Richard Jones’s ten-person cast becomes less mannered while his production gets more confused and confusing.
Somewhere, even Rod Serling is going, "Huh?"

Watching The Skies

Paging Mulder and Scully:
The so-called Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program operated from 2007 to 2012 and had $22 million a year in funding tucked away in the Pentagon’s gargantuan budget, the Times said, quoting program participants and records.

The program yielded documents describing sightings of unidentified flying aircraft that apparently moved very fast with no visible sign of propulsion or hovered with no apparent means of lift, the Times said.

Program officials also examined video of encounters between unknown objects and US military aircraft.

This included one released in August of a whitish oval object about the size of a jetliner, being pursued by two Navy fighter jets from an aircraft carrier off the California coast in 2004, the paper added.
Damn tourists...

Hot Green

Environmentalists have found a new cause for...climate change?
Is pornography in the digital era leaving a larger carbon footprint than it did during the days of magazines and videos? Obtaining raw numbers will always be a sticking point, because the stigmatized industry has never kept track of sales like the music and film industries, and has no significant archives. But if pornography experts’ estimates are accurate, they suggest a rare scenario where digitization might have increased the overall consumption of porn so much that the principal of dematerialization gets flipped on its head. The internet could allow people to spend so much time looking at porn that it’s actually worse for the environment.
Mother Nature doesn't like what you're doing there, kids...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Atomic Coast

Ah, the good old days of fearing nuclear Armageddon:
While analysts say North Korean missiles can probably reach most of the U.S., it’s unclear whether the country can mount a nuclear warhead on a missile or aim well enough to hit a city.

Still, “we just couldn’t ignore these constant threats and missile tests from North Korea,” said Vern Miyagi, Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency administrator. He stressed that a nuclear strike from the rogue state was unlikely, but he said state leaders felt a responsibility to address it because a nuclear missile aimed at Honolulu could cause 18,000 fatalities and 50,000 to 120,000 casualties.

While some officials worried that preparing for a nuclear strike could cause a panic, “what we’ve learned from the last few months is that the public can handle it,” Miyagi said. “People are welcoming this information, and we need to share everything we know.”

So far, there’s no nuclear preparedness campaign in the Bay Area or California that even approaches Hawaii’s push.

“We are not doing anything to that level now,” said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the California Office of Emergency Services.

Officials are holding weekly meetings with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security and receiving classified briefings about the nuclear threat to California, he said. But “the probability that Californians will be faced with a fire or an earthquake is so much higher than a nuclear detonation,” he said.
One apocalypse at a time, please...

The Last Lawyer Standing

Whatever happened to F. Lee Bailey?
Now 84, stripped of his license to practice law and living in Maine, Bailey has lost none of the zeal that made his name a household word when he was part of a team of lawyers that persuaded a jury to acquit Simpson of the grisly 1994 stabbing deaths of his estranged wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

The case Los Angeles police put together was “B.S,” prosecutor Marcia Clarke “wasn’t the brightest lawyer I ever met” and Americans “have the attention span of a 4-year-old,” Bailey declared on Porkins Policy Review, a New York-based podcast he did Tuesday from the Lake Worth offices of attorney John Romano.

His harangue, repeated in countless interviews and speeches since the nationally-televised “Trial of the Century” ended in 1995, is only partially aimed at rehabilitating Simpson, who is back in the news since he was paroled in October after serving nine years in a Nevada prison for armed robbery.

It is also a way to tell people of the wounds he said he continues to suffer from representing the wildly popular running back turned TV pitchman — arguably the most famous person in the country ever to have been charged with murder.

“Never in my life have I been punished more for getting an acquittal,” Bailey told those listening to the podcast. “Lawyers and judges have remonstrated with me for prostituting my talents because, they say, I was the reason O.J. got acquitted.”
It's not exactly something to be proud of...

Neutral Territory

No, the Internet is not in danger:
Responding directly to Kimmel, who called Pai a “jackhole,” Pai said objectors to the repeal of net neutrality have everything wrong.

“Those who’ve said the internet as we know it is about to end have been proven wrong starting this morning,” Pai said. “We have a free internet going forward.”

Pai added that Kimmel’s “name-calling hysteria is disappointing, but it’s not surprising.”

“Those on the other side have literally nothing other to peddle than hysteria and misinformation and fear about the light-touch approach that we’ve had for most of the internet’s existence,” he explained.
Online life goes on...

Adios, AIM

AIM is no more:
In a statement, Michael Albers, vice president of AOL parent company Oath, claimed, “If you were a 90’s kid, chances are there was a point in time when AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was a huge part of your life.”

“You likely remember the CD, your first screenname, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists. Right now you might be reminiscing about how you had to compete for time on the home computer in order to chat with friends outside of school,” he continued. “You might also remember how characters throughout pop culture from ‘You’ve Got Mail’ to ‘Sex and the City’ used AIM to help navigate their relationships. In the late 1990’s, the world had never seen anything like it. And it captivated all of us.”

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” Albers explained. “As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017. We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world.”
It may be the end of an era, but did anyone notice?

Friday, December 15, 2017

Science Fiction Age

Has TV saved science fiction?
when it comes to sci fi adaptations, TV is now the primary go-to place. Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End was made into a Syfy Channel mini-series, and Netflix has optioned John Scalzi’s futuristic military novel Old Man’s War. Next year HBO will debut a new version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (previously filmed by Francois Truffaut in 1966), starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon; Altered Carbon, based on the cyberpunk novel by Richard Morgan, is set to air on Netflix in February, and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is a series set for 2018 on Amazon (Amazon’s Man In the High Castle, also based on a Dick novel, has been renewed for a third season).

Why TV? “You get room to breathe,” says Morgan. “You’re not limited to two hours, and it’s cheaper. You can afford to take risks, and to find the audience.”

“Who cares about theatrical [releases] when television has produced wonderful shows like The Expanse,” says Adams, referring to an epic Syfy Channel series based on novels by James S.A. Corey. “Episodic television allows for a level of character and philosophical development that suits sci fi in a way that the heavy blockbuster format doesn’t.”
It helps if it's actually entertaining, too...

Unreliable Sources

The media trusts, but won't verify:
Since October of last year, when Franklin Foer at Slate filed an erroneous report on a computer server in Trump Tower communicating with a Russian bank, there have been an unprecedented number of media faceplants, most of them directly related to the Russia-collusion theory. The errors always run in the same direction—they report or imply that the Trump campaign was in league with Moscow. For a politicized and overwhelmingly liberal press corps, the wish that this story be true is obviously the father to the errors. Just as obviously, there are precedents for such high-profile embarrassments in the past. (Remember Dan Rather’s “scoop” on George W. Bush’s National Guard service?) But flawed reporting in the Trump era is becoming more the norm than the exception, suggesting the media have become far too willing to abandon some pretty basic journalistic standards.

Editors at top news organizations once treated anonymous sourcing as a necessary evil, a tool to be used sparingly. Now anonymous sources dominate Trump coverage. It’s not just a problem for readers, who should rightly be skeptical of information someone isn’t willing to vouch for by name. It’s a problem for reporters, too, because anonymous sources are less likely to be cautious and diligent in providing information. According to CNN, the sources behind the busted report on Trump Jr.’s contact with WikiLeaks didn’t intend to deceive and had been reliable in the past. Maybe so, but given the network’s repeated errors it’s difficult to just take CNN’s word for it.
The least trusted names in news...

Her Turn Too

It was bound to happen:
Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood, was one of the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas’ 3rd District.

She was running with the endorsement of Emily’s List, a liberal women’s group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights.

Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.

“In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard,” Ramsey said in a statement Friday. “For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has not endorsed anyone in the race, said in a statement that members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard.

“If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office,” said committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly.
Forget about the glass ceiling, remember the glass house...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Both Sides Of The Web

Net neutrality is now officially over. So what was all the shouting about?
The brouhaha has been so steadily raucous — and in most instances elusive of actual nuanced policy debates — that Jon Leibowitz, a Democratic commissioner at the FTC from 2004-2013, felt the need to write an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal (which officially endorsed Pai’s rollback) titled “Everybody Calm Down About Net Neutrality.”

“The rhetoric over net neutrality has reached a fever pitch, with each side predicting dire consequences if opponents get their way,” opened Leibowitz, who was was FTC chairman starting in 2009. “There is a critical need for protections from anticompetitive practices online, but both sides are exaggerating. Just as the sky did not fall when the FCC imposed its current Title II version of net neutrality in 2015, it also won’t fall if the FCC reclassifies broadband as an information service later this week.”

He describes the situation as that of “Chicken Little” because “the FTC, my former agency, is an experienced cop on the beat in this area. It protected internet users from unfair, deceptive and anticompetitive practices for the two decades before the FCC’s 2015 rule, which removed its jurisdiction.”
It's not the apocalypse after all...

Ryan's End

Paul Ryan calls it quits:
Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.

Ryan was tiring of D.C. even before reluctantly accepting the speakership. He told his predecessor, John Boehner, that it would be his last job in politics—and that it wasn’t a long-term proposition. In the months following Trump’s victory, he began contemplating the scenarios of his departure. More recently, over closely held conversations with his kitchen cabinet, Ryan’s preference has become clear: He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress. This would give Ryan a final legislative year to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform, while using his unrivaled fundraising prowess to help protect the House majority—all with the benefit of averting an ugly internecine power struggle during election season. Ryan has never loved the job; he oozes aggravation when discussing intraparty debates over “micro-tactics," and friends say he feels like he’s running a daycare center.
Let somebody else take care of the kids?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Vacancies Open

There may be a silver lining in the aftermath of Alabama:
The last Supreme Court nominee confirmed by an opposition Congress was Justice Clarence Thomas, who won confirmation from a Democratic Senate on a narrow 52-48 vote. The recent record on appeals court nominees is similarly mediocre. The Republican Senate confirmed just two of former President Barack Obama’s nominees in the final two years of his administration, one of whom was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court which deals primarily in patent law and veterans claims.

And that is the more urgent point — all told, it seems unlikely that an opposition Congress will confirm a Supreme Court nominee for the foreseeable future.

Therefore, Kennedy’s options appear limited. Unless he retires at or before the end of the Court’s current term, there is a reasonable chance his successor will not be confirmed until a single party again controls the White House and the Senate. If Republicans retain their Senate majority in 2018, he will have some flexibility. But if Democrats prevail, it may be years — perhaps a decade — before one party controls both branches of government and another justice is confirmed.
I don't think Kennedy wants to wait that long...

Christmas Toppers

Nothing says the holiday spirit more than...Hillary Clinton?
A British organization, Women to Look Up To, has created a line of suitable replacements for the traditional angel (or star) atop the Christmas tree, and Clinton made the list for production.

Others on the list include performer Beyoncé and tennis star Serena Williams.
....

According to the organization’s website, users can vote on the next tree topper to be released. Those currently available to vote on include former first lady Michelle Obama, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, American philanthropist Melinda Gates, actress Meryl Streep, attorney Amal Clooney, and singer Adele.

The organization’s website also notes their inspiration behind the holiday line:

The Christmas Angel, Fairy, Tree Topper, by whatever name you call her, is a woman from a bygone era; a woman made of no more than plastic and glitter. No wonder, when the Victorians invented her!

The old dame was due a modern makeover, so we thought why not venerate the real women inspiring us in 2017. Women leading politics, culture, business, who are worthy of wings – the likes of Serena Williams, Beyoncé, and a woman voted for by you.
Well, not by everyone. But if you want to ruin a perfectly good Christmas tree, that's up to you...

Rabbit Tracks

Saving animals is racist, or something:
Alongside theories that climate change helped fuel the devastating wildfires, Young added that “colonialism and aggressive industrialism have had an adverse effect on our environment. And I also know that this is a byproduct of manifest destiny — an existential edict ingrained in white people where they believe everything belongs to them.”

More from Young’s piece:

Nothing is off-limits. Not the rain forests, not your land, not the hair sitting on top of your head. And that apocalyptic hellscape was executive-produced by the same company that brought us timeless classics such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade and gerrymandering and redlining and other innocuous-sounding terms for really f***ed-up things and The Help.
And while Young recognized the man’s act of saving the rabbit was “fearless” and “altruistic,” he lamented the juxtaposition of “feelings expressed about this bunny with the feelings generally expressed when black people are in grave danger.
Maybe because some black people put themselves in danger?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hand Wringers Need Not Apply

Liars, go home:
Reporters and editors, like everyone else, make mistakes and when the best ones make them they’re obliged to correct them, explain what happened if they can, and move on. But sometimes the mistakes are not really mistakes, but failed attempts to get away with fudging the facts to make a point. The public, which is not as thick as some reporters imagine, notices when mistakes always seem to run to the left. A large part of the public has been persuaded that the media, which is what was once called the press, just can’t get over the results of the 2016 election, and is out to get Donald Trump by any means necessary.
The corrections, reflections, and over-the-top hand-wringing are set out now in everyone’s eye, thanks to a media dishing it out to everyone with a smartphone or a laptop. It’s often not very pretty.
Self-exposure rarely is...

Dirty AI

Even AIs get bored:
As reported by Motherboard, “There’s a video of Gal Gadot having sex with her stepbrother on the internet. But it’s not really Gadot’s body, and it’s barely her own face. It’s an approximation, face-swapped to look like she’s performing in an existing incest-themed porn video.”

“The video was created with a machine learning algorithm, using easily accessible materials and open-source code that anyone with a working knowledge of deep learning algorithms could put together,” they explained, adding that the fake videos are being created by a single Reddit user.

The user, a programmer who goes by the name “deepfakes,” has also created fake porn videos featuring Scarlett Johansson, Maisie Williams, and Aubrey Plaza.

“I just found a clever way to do face-swap,” declared the programmer in an interview with Motherboard. “With hundreds of face images, I can easily generate millions of distorted images to train the network… After that if I feed the network someone else’s face, the network will think it’s just another distorted image and try to make it look like the training face.”

“Every technology can be used with bad motivations, and it’s impossible to stop that,” he continued. “The main difference is how easy [it is] to do that by everyone. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for more average people [to] engage in machine learning research.”
I guess that's one way of putting it...

A Dishonest Profession

If he says so:
Acosta said of the exchange, “Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going off on reporters, who she is accusing of intentionally misleading the American people, when this president, as you know, time and again, Hugh, has repeatedly misled the American people. Journalists make honest mistakes. They don’t go out and intentionally mislead people. That’s not what we do. And yet, here you have the White House press secretary from the podium accusing us of doing just that. And so you know, Hugh, my job as a reporter, my job as the senior White House correspondent for CNN, is to report the news, but also to highlight and put a microscope on episodes of presidential hypocrisy.”
And then they lie about it...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Not Their Fair Share

Why don't Democrats like poor people?
In their push for tax reform, Republicans are trying to eliminate tax breaks that primarily benefit those whom Democrats usually say aren't paying their fair share — upper-income earners who earn in the six figures.

What an ungrateful crowd those Democrats are. Instead of thanking the GOP for getting the well-off to pony up a bit more, they're acting as though the sky is falling. You think we're exaggerating? House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., actually said of the tax bill: “It is the end of the world. … This is Armageddon.”

What has happened? The answer is that Democrats are all for making the rich pay more as long as it's not their rich.

Republicans are trying to limit the deduction that can be taken against federal taxable income for state and local taxes paid. Pelosi and other Democrats representing high-tax states would prefer that low-income households claiming the standard deduction continue to subsidize wealthy households that claim the lion’s share of the value of the state and local tax deduction and the mortgage interest deduction.
They'd rather have everybody else pay, while they play...

It's Not The Real Thing

Because, CNN:
The suspected bomber was identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah and police have called the incident an "attempted terrorist attack." An "effectively low tech device" was detonated in a subway passageway just before 7:30 a.m., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference.

While viewers scrambled to hear the latest news, several people took to Twitter to mock CNN’s programming’s decision. Blogger Ann Althouse noted that the New York Times article that first mentioned Trump’s soda habit came out a few days ago and added, “CNN is hopeless,” after expressing frustration that CNN didn’t offer the live report on the attempted terror attack.

One user wrote, “CNN was talking about the bombshell reporting that @realDonaldTrump drinks 12 diet cokes and watches 4+ hours of TV news per day AFTER the news broke about the bombing in NYC. I kid you not!” while another joked, “We interrupt our story on the suicide bombing in NY subway to update the current tally on President Trump's daily consumption of diet cokes! We now return you to our regular broadcasting!”
But what are the bomber's opinions on Diet Coke?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fake News Fails Again

Was this the media's worst week ever?
It is, of course, completely plausible that one source might innocently misread a date on a document. But how is it remotely plausible that multiple sources could all innocently and in good faith misread the date in exactly the same way, all to cause to be disseminated a blockbuster revelation about Trump/Russia/WikiLeaks collusion? This is the critical question that CNN simply refuses to answer. In other words, CNN refuses to provide the most minimal transparency to enable the public to understand what happened here.



Is that what happened here? Did these “multiple sources” who fed not just CNN but also MSNBC and CBS completely false information do so deliberately and in bad faith? Until these news outlets provide an accounting of what happened – what one might call “minimal journalistic transparency” – it’s impossible to say for certain. But right now, it’s very difficult to imagine a scenario where multiple sources all fed the wrong date to multiple media outlets innocently and in good faith.
The year is nearly over, but they're not done yet...

No Commies On The Field

No Reds for them:
On the Navy side, midshipmen held signs poking fun at their West Point counterparts for allowing admitted communist and Antifa supporter 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone to graduate.

As PJ Media reported back in September, photos posted on social media by Rapone showed the then-cadet posing with a Che Guevara t-shirt under his uniform and "Communism Will Win" written under his cap at his graduation from the academy in May of 2016.

One large banner that hung over the barrier between the field and the seats on Saturday read “Not Communist.”

Someone else on the Navy side held up a sign that read “Communism WON'T Win.”
The Navy gets the gravy, but the Army gets the red beans?

Snow Fall

I'm sure it was Trump's fault:
According to Fox News, “On Saturday, Vonn crossed the finish line in obvious distress, almost one second behind the then-leader, and slumped to the snow.

“Vonn’s tentative run after jarring her back early on placed her 24th, trailing 1.56 seconds behind the surprise winner, Jasmine Flury of Switzerland. The race was shortened due to strong winds higher up the mountain.

“Vonn stayed in the finish house to be treated, and one hour later limped slowly into a waiting car to be driven from the St. Moritz course.”
....

Vonn made it clear in an interview with CNN that she would “absolutely not,” visit the White House if invited. She also said that she would “represent the people of the United States, not the president.”

The two-time Olympic medalist went on to imply that President Trump does not represent America well in the world. “I want to represent our country well, ” Vonn said. “I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

“I was asked my opinion and I gave it,” Vonn told reporters Friday. “I mean, it’s not necessarily my place to be sticking my nose in politics, but as an athlete I do have a voice.”
And now, crutches...

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The Peoples' Court

Judges of the people, for the people?
The ruling Law and Justice party says the laws will make the courts more efficient and responsive to the needs of ordinary Poles.

Critics see a power grab since the laws would give the ruling party greater power over the courts.

A lawmaker with Poland’s ruling party says much-criticized legislation passed by the lower house of parliament will put the courts at the service of regular citizens.

Two bills — one that would change the functioning of the nation’s Supreme Court, another revising the process for naming the National Council of the Judiciary — won overwhelming approval.

Parliament member Wojciech Skurkiewicz told The Associated Press: “The judges are to serve the people, not humiliate them, as the party believes has been the case.”

He says judges “will now be equal to ordinary people, they cannot be above them.”
Court is now in open session?

Forged In Alabama Fire

Forgery is forgery:
Politifact labeled the claim “Pants on Fire,” and Facebook has even attached a pop-up warning to a Breitbart article about the alleged forgery.

On Friday, Nelson admitted that she had added “notes” to an inscription that she claimed Moore made in her high school yearbook. She still claims that Moore signed the yearbook, but admitted that some of the writing was hers.

That is textbook forgery.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “forgery” as follows (original emphasis):

forgery, n. 1. The act of fraudulently making a false document or altering a real one to be used as if genuine … 2. A false or altered document made to look genuine by someone with the intent to deceive … 3. Under the Model Penal Code, the act of fraudulently altering, authenticating, issuing, or transferring a writing without appropriate authorization.

Note that forgery includes altering a real document. It does not matter if part of the document — say, the signature — is real. If any part of the document is altered and presented as original and authentic, it is a forgery and the entire document is legally useless — or worse than useless, since it impeaches the credibility of the person presenting it.
If you're going to fake it, don't forget to do it in your own words...

Moving On Out?

Time to leave the Swamp?
There hasn’t been so much buzz about getting “Washington” out of Washington since Franklin D. Roosevelt sent 30,000 federal workers to the Midwest after a presidential commission advised such moves would ensure the prototypical federal employee “remains one of the people in touch with the people and does not degenerate into an isolated and arrogant bureaucrat.”

“We need to find out what we can move,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Youngstown, Ohio, who is seeking to create a commission that would identify parts of the bureaucracy that could be moved to economically distressed regions like his. A fellow Ohio congressman and political rival, tea party activist Warren Davidson, has mounted a parallel bureaucracy migration push. He calls it the “Drain the Swamp Act.”

None of it is going over well with die-hard Washingtonians. Many scold that the idea will flame out the same way it did when the Clinton administration pondered and then dropped a big relocation initiative, and the Reagan administration did the same before it.
Home is where the headquarters are?

Pay Now, Complain Later

A politician is shocked to learn that there were payoffs from his establishment:
A former congressional staff member named Winsome Packer claimed that the representative “touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job.”

She was stationed in Vienna and was required to travel with Hastings to other foreign countries. She said in her lawsuit that Hastings repeatedly asked to stay at her apartment or to visit her hotel room. Packer also said he frequently hugged her, and once asked her what kind of underwear she was wearing.
She filed a complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2010, and sued Hastings in 2011. That lawsuit was dismissed in 2012, and an ethics investigation in the matter was dismissed in 2014. However, the settlement came through the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment from the treasury.

What was Hastings response?

In a statement to Roll Call Friday, he called the accusations “ludicrous” and said he didn’t even know about the settlement previously.

“Until this evening, I had not seen the settlement agreement between the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and Ms. Packer,” he said. “This matter was handled solely by the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. At no time was I consulted, nor did I know until after the fact that such a settlement was made.”

“I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. Packer,” he said.
I'm sure he'll pay his own way from now on...

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Iceman Goeth

The Climate Police in action:
The charges stem from a lawsuit brought by Argentine environmentalists who claim Villalba’s 2011 glacier survey “did not comply with a law enacted in 2010 that was designed to give extra protections to Argentina’s glaciers,” Nature.com reported. The court put a $300,000 lien on his property.

Environmentalists allege Villalba rigged the glacier survey to favor mining interests, but the glaciologist denied the charges. In fact, scientists overwhelmingly support Villalba in the case, saying it’s a politically motivated witch hunt.

“There was no intention to favor mining companies,” Villalba told ScienceInsider. “No Argentinian institution has done more to safeguard and protect glaciers than IANIGLA.”

Villalba’s survey included glaciers of one hectare, about 2.5 acres, or larger, that is the international scientific standard for such surveys. Scientists do this to reduce the risk of counting short-lasting snow and ice.

“It’s surreal and kind of ridiculous,” Bruce Raup, a glaciologist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, told Nature.com. Raup co-authored a letter supporting Villalba.

“This is dangerous,” Etienne Berthier, a French glaciologist, told ScienceInsider. “A highly detrimental result could be that scientists would stop expressing themselves in public at a time where their expertise is more and more needed.”
For propaganda, perhaps, but not real science...

Don't Believe The Tax Cut Hype

What isn't true about the grand tax reform plan:
A few Americans–roughly 8 percent–will see their tax bills rise, largely due to the elimination of deductions and closing loopholes.

Yet polls show that Americans do not understand the Republican tax proposals. A stunning 41 percent of voters says that tax reform will increase their taxes, while just 20 percent say their taxes will fall, according to according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll.

So far there appears to be little work being done by news outlets to correct this false alarm on tax reform. To the contrary, the media is reporting that tax reform is very unpopular.

This may also be a sign of just how unpopular the Republican brand has become. People may be willing to believe falsehoods about tax reform because they think the GOP is a party for big business and the wealthy.
Even when it really isn't?

Mad Manning

So Chelsea Manning is running for Senate, and, um: