Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ditching The Grade

No more grades?
“The grading system is pretty broken,” says Kate Reeser, Director at San Domenico School in San Anselmo.

She and other administrators there are exploring a new school of thought when it comes to grading. They want to do away with the concept of letter grades entirely.

“It’s about gaming the system, students no longer care about learning the information it’s about getting the A,” says her Cecily Stock who heads the school.

San Domenico is one of more than 100 schools across the country participating in the mastery transcript consortium. It is a new teaching model that aims to evaluate how well a student has ‘mastered’ a concept. Rather than receiving a letter grade, students will be given a review from their teacher.

“Instead of a B it would look like more of a narrative,” Says Reeser.
But what if your kid is still failing the narrative?

Babies Wanted

The welfare state is not good for kids:
Demographics are a concern across the developed world, of course. But they are particularly problematic for countries with a generous welfare state, since they endanger its long-term survival.

For Heidi Schauman, the statistics are "frightening."

"They show how fast our society is changing, and we don't have solutions ready to stop the development," the Aktia Bank chief economist said in a telephone interview in Helsinki. "We have a large public sector and the system needs taxpayers in the future."

To do that, the fertility rate should equal two per woman, Schauman says. It was projected at 1.57 in 2016, according to Statistics Finland.
Who wants to buy another generation?

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Challenge

Hillary goes there:
Clinton stated that she believes the Russian government influenced the election in favor of Trump, and that this could make the outcome illegitimate.

“[Trump knew] they were trying to do whatever they could to discredit me with emails, so there’s obviously a trail there… There’s no doubt they influenced the election: We now know more about how they did that,” Clinton said in the interview.

However, Clinton went on to add that she does not think there is a “mechanism” in place to officially overturn the election results.

“There are scholars, academics, who have arguments that [the election should be challenged], but I don’t think they’re on strong ground. But people are making those arguments. I just don’t think we have a mechanism,” she concluded.
Or any basis in fact...

SNAP Inspection

Food stamps have fallen fast:
Food stamp usage has been on a steady decline since Donald Trump began his presidency in January 2017, with the latest data showing that SNAP enrollment decreased by more than 1.3 million, or 3.23 percent, since the beginning of his term in office.

A closer look at the data shows that food stamp usage has been consistently decreasing each month since January 2017.

Here is the breakdown of how many people dropped off the food stamp rolls each month of 2017:

January to February- 408,956
February to March- 95,152
March to April- 521,295
April to May- 176,527
May to June- 178,648
The most significant drops in enrollment took place from January to February and March to April.
It's like people don't need them anymore, or something...

Tapping In

No, Trump wasn't paranoid:
The report said the secret court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had authorized a surveillance warrant against Manafort for an investigation that began in 2014, looking into his firm, the Podesta Group, and another firm’s lobbying work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian former ruling party.

“The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence,” a source told CNN.

However, the FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended early into this year. The report notably does not say when the new warrant was obtained. Manafort joined the Trump campaign as its chairman in May 2016.

The new warrant was “part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives,” according to the report.

The report notes, “such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials” — but doesn’t specify which top Justice Department and FBI officials had approved it.
Did it matter? They were literally all out to get him...

Cotton Pickin' Moment

Cotton-the other white cloth?
Now perhaps these people didn’t get a proper high school economics education, so I’ll break it down quickly.

Cotton rules the economy.

It has for centuries. We fought a war about it. The Antebellum South exported lots of things, namely cotton, tobacco, and indigo. It’s true, these products were largely cultivated dependent on slavery, which was eradicated after the Civil War.

A hundred-some-odd years later, though, and the South still exports these things. Without slaves. Do you know how many things are made of cotton nowadays? You can’t go five minutes without coming into contact with something made of cotton. Most of our clothes are cotton byproducts. Bedsheets, rugs, coffee filters, even some fire hoses are made of cotton.

Is Daniell Rider perhaps suggesting we let houses burn down because fire hoses are racist?
Clothing is racist!

Making Plans With Nigel

For those who really need help:
The robot named ‘Nigel’ uses artificial intelligence (AI) to become aware of its user’s life and utilise the information by offering advice to user’s including how to vote.

Robot developed that helps you vote, AI taken too far?
Mounir Shita hopes Nigel will be able to assist with voting by next year.
Unlike other AI robots Nigel programmes itself as it goes, rather than teach itself how to perform and effectively carry out tasks. It works solely on how the user is themselves, for example if they offer traits of a left wing supporter he will adapt to that life style.

However, Nigel will offer alternative advice if it thinks that certain aspects of the user ‘don’t add up’ based on different algorithms from its system, prompting them to make a different decision. The robot is described as the first human like artificial intelligence to date.
Nigel knows better?

Deadline Time

The quest to replace Obamacare continues:
Under the plan, Obamacare money that pays for an expansion of Medicaid and that subsidizes coverage for many of those who buy insurance on the exchanges would be pooled and instead given to states as block grants. The states would tailor the money to their own health care plans.
The bill would immediately repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring people to get coverage or pay a tax and its rule requiring large employers to provide coverage or face crippling penalties. It also scraps the 2010 law’s tax on medical device sales.
There are “people coming out regularly and saying they’re for it, either privately or publicly,” Mr. Cassidy said.
But Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, announced Friday that he is staunchly opposed to the bill, lengthening the odds of success as his party continues to struggle with its seven-year promise to scrap the Affordable Care Act.
AARP, an influential lobby for older Americans, also said it opposes the bill, enthusing Obamacare supporters.
Senate Republicans must act by the end of the month under the 2017 budget to help avoid a Democratic filibuster.
Can they fit it into their lack of a schedule?

Welcome To Softball Dome

Do not question the Queen:
Clinton was on the show last Wednesday promoting her book “What Happened,” with conservative Bila calling her “tone deaf” and asking the former presidential candidate a tough question.

“To be fair, it hasn’t just been Republicans who have taken issue with the writing of this book. Some Democrats have come out as well,” Bila said to Clinton. “Former campaign surrogates of yours, former fundraisers and said, ‘This book puts us in the past and we wanna move forward, we wanna figure out where to take this party, how to succeed in the future. And this places us in the past.’ How do you respond to Democrats also coming out in criticism of you writing this?”

“I think they first should read the book,” Clinton answered.

“There was a lot of staff who were upset about how that interview was handled,” says the source, speculating that “The View” wants the former secretary of state to appear on the show multiple times. “They had a lot to say to Jedediah about calming things down.”
Too much excitement for them?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reform When?

Whatever happened to tax reform?
As with healthcare, Republicans have been talking about tax reform for years. Think tanks, former presidential candidates, and even congressional GOP plans released in the recent past should have been good starting points so that tax reform could hit the ground running.

But here we are, eight months into Trump's presidency, and congressional leaders appear only now to be waking up and starting from scratch.

It is to be hoped that GOP leaders have learned from their mistakes in the Obamacare repeal debacle and are plotting a different legislative approach for tax reform. Their repeal and replace bills were largely negotiated in secret and sent directly to the chamber floors rather than deliberated in committee. That lack of transparency was, justifiably, a major factor in the public's distaste for the bills. You can't win over public opinion if you don't go out and sell the details. Sell them?! Goodness, the GOP hardly even allowed them to be visible.

It's concerning that a "big six" group of negotiators from Congress and the administration have done most of the work so far on tax reform. There is the apparent confusion even within that group about how much detail will be released in the "outline" on Sept. 25. Congress and the administration should discuss these things, but the fruit of their discussions should be only the start of a transparent process open to input from the whole GOP conference.

The time is now for tax reform. Successfully getting tax reform passed is crucial for the long-term political future of the Republican Party and the economy. As the Obamacare debacle showed, legislating is harder than it looks. That's especially true if you don't learn anything from your own failures.
People can tell when you're not serious. Republicans, be warned...

Know Your What?

What people don't know can hurt them:
39 percent “strongly” or “somewhat favored” congressional prohibitions on “news media [reporting] on any issue of national security without first getting government approval.” 49 percent “strongly” or “somewhat opposed” such a measure.

26 percent could not name any of the three branches of the federal government; consistent with previous years’ polls of the same question: 21 percent in 2016; 22 percent in 2015; 25 percent in 2014; 24 percent in 2013; 22 percent in 2011.

26 percent could name all three branches of federal governance; down from previous years’ polls of the same question: 26 percent in 2016; 31 percent in 2015; 26 percent in 2014; 28 percent in 2013; 38 percent in 2011.
Ignorance is bliss for those exploiting it...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Still His Castle

Asset forfeiture takes a hit:
Asset forfeiture is the controversial law enforcement practice that allows police to seize property and assets – including cars, homes and bank accounts – from individuals suspected of crime or illegal activity, regardless of whether there’s a conviction. Critics and civil liberties groups have blasted the practice, arguing that it places an unfair burden on the suspect and encourages law enforcement corruption.

Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) banded together in introducing an amendment to the 2018 federal government spending package. The amendment was approved through voice vote on the House floor Tuesday.

The Obama administration in January 2015 implemented measures that limited the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture practices, but Sessions in July directed his agency to reverse course, calling asset forfeiture an effective tool in reducing crime in certain circumstances. Amendment 126 bars the administration from using appropriated funds to eliminate the Obama-era restrictions. The Obama-era measures specifically targeted so-called equitable sharing, a process by which local officials can circumvent state law and work with federal officials in confiscating property.

“This practice is outrageous,” Amash, who led the amendment, said on the House floor during debate. “It supplants the authority of states to regulate their own law enforcement, and it further mires the federal government in unconstitutional asset forfeitures.”
Theft is still theft...

Just The Sports, Please

So now ESPN has apparently decided that too much politics is bad for business:
“ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express.”

“We have issues of significant debate in our country at this time. Our employees are citizens and appropriately want to participate in the public discussion. That can create a conflict for our public facing talent between their work and their personal points of view. Given this reality, we have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.”
I guess some people didn't get the memo...

Taking A Meeting

Hillary Clinton tries to explain herself:
Clinton, shaking her head, said:

“Judy, I just don’t buy that — I honestly reject that premise partly because there’s a chain-of-command in the Justice Department.”
“The optics looked bad, I admit that.”
“What we know happened: The investigation was getting nowhere, there was nothing to find. And [Comey] was in a position of having to accept the evidence that there was no case.”
“I think what he did, against the advice of people around him in the FBI and the Justice Department, was in large measure due to political pressures that he was under from people that he had worked with before.”
“If you’re a prosecutor or FBI director, if there’s no case there’s no case. And instead, he had a press conference and really went after not just me, but the entire state department.”
“[The press conference] was a breech of professional ethics and responsibility and rejection of protocols in the Justice Department.”
“What really was costly, and what I believe is the proximate cause of my defeat, was [Comey’s] Oct. 28 letter, which has never been adequately explained or defended.”
She did better with the election...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Curse Of D.C.

Well, most of Washington society is already a cult:
For nearly 50 years, the entire social and political world of DC revolved around this couple. Bradlee and Quinn were the New Camelot (his career took off in large part because of his friendship with John F. Kennedy), the Gatekeepers of who was in and who was out, the Elite Deciders among our Ruling Class with the extraordinary power of the Washington Post, and by extension the rest of the mainstream media, to abuse and weaponize their will against the rest of us.

Well, to put it as bluntly as possible, we are now learning that the Queen of Camelot is an occultist, a witch of sorts who honestly believes (according to her own new memoir) that she murdered three innocent people through the dark art of the hex: a young woman who committed suicide after flirting with Quinn’s boyfriend; a magazine editor who published an unflattering profile of her, who decades later died of cancer; a psychic who died of a cerebral hemorrhage before the end of the year after telling Quinn something she did not want to hear.

The anecdote about the magazine story, published in 1973, and her son, who was born in 1982, informs us that Quinn, who was born in 1941, practiced the occult in the most demonic ways imaginable well into adulthood.
That might explain a few things about Washington...

Faked But Flagged

The line between real and fake news continues to blur:
The study, entitled “Assessing the Effect of ‘Disputed’ Warnings and Source Salience on Perceptions of Fake News Accuracy,” put 24 news stories from 2016-2017 in front of 7,500 participants. Half of the stories presented were true, and half were fabricated. Those involved in the study were asked to rate the accuracy of a random selection of 12 of the headlines. The study was further divided into groups. In the first, the stories were presented as-is. In the second, fake news was tagged as “disputed.”

The results were marginal, at best. With false stories flagged, users who support President Trump were only 1.2% more likely to correctly gauge whether or not a story presented was factual. Supporters of Hillary Clinton were slightly more trusting, with an increase of 4.3% over the unflagged group.

It appears Trump supporters were generally less inclined to trust a headline in general — whether or not it has been checked by a third party. This skepticism is unsurprising in a climate that has shown consistent aggression toward those who have supported the POTUS, both before and after the election. In point of fact, only about 15% of Trump voters have any trust in the media at all, according to a recent Edelman poll.
Why trust what can't be verified?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Price Of Working For Her

Hillary's lawyers may be in trouble:
The ruling came after Ty Clevenger, an attorney in New York City, filed the complaint. He recently was denied files from the FBI related to Clinton’s email investigation, due to what the bureau called a lack of public interest.

Clevenger argued that the lawyers should be investigated for wrongdoing by destroying evidence, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Harris said Clevenger’s appeal to have the lawyers investigated “appears to have merit,” the Times reported.
What did they delete, and when did they delete it?

Exiling All The Lawyers

White House lawyers suddenly realize they're working for a conservative administration:
The article notes that the Trump administration has been particularly receptive to input from social conservative and religious groups, quoting a number of leaders within such organizations as celebrating their newfound access to the White House.

Many of the disenchanted lawyers are reportedly concerned about the administration’s elimination of specific protections for the LGBTQ community — specifically, the DOJ’s removal of references to LGBTQ youth from a description of a federal program aimed at preventing child sex trafficking.

The article cites increased spending by groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, to demonstrate the recent wave of conservative enthusiasm.
One man's enthusiasm is another's sad time...

Crashing The Ceiling

Mitch McConnell gives in:
Mr. McConnell said that he insisted the newly passed legislation preserve Treasury’s ability to apply ‘extraordinary measures’ and shift money within government accounts to pay off debt and extend federal borrowing power.

That will delay the need for another increase in the debt limit well beyond the December deadline that Democrats have been trumpeting as their big moment of leverage. And Mr. McConnell said he did so over the objections of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader and aforementioned counterpart.

In fact, Mr. McConnell said, the debt limit will not have to be increased until well into 2018, taking that volatile subject off the table for the December spending talks, and eliminating the Democrats’ most dangerous bargaining chip in the first round of negotiations.
When you can get them to listen, you can get results...

Don't Eat Me

Are vegans killing their food?
Vegetarians and vegans often cite cruelty to animals as a reason for their lifestyle choice not to eat meat or to avoid animal products altogether. But a 2014 study from the University of Missouri found that thale cress, which is closely related to broccoli, kale and mustard greens, can distinguish between the vibrations from normal stimuli in the environment and an invasive predator.

The thale cress reacted to being munched by caterpillars by producing an extra boost of the mildly toxic mustard oils in its leaves; however, wind noise didn’t produce the same toxic injection.

“Vegetarians and vegans need to pay heed,” Keith said.

“I know,” Doc countered. “It makes me want to eat vegetables more now that there’s suffering involved.”

A University of Missouri researcher involved in the study compared their findings to previous research that has shown that plants respond to musical vibrations.
Please don't eat the salad?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Clown Shoes

Clown lives matter?
It, about a group of misfit kids who band together to battle an amorphous killer spirit that frequently takes the guise of "Pennywise" the clown, tapped into something primal among moviegoers who, after spending all summer avoiding the cinema, crept back into theaters to experience the murderous carnival act first hand.

In Canada, though, non-murderous clowns banded together for a clown protest march outside a number of theaters showing the thriller, because, they say, clowns deserve to be treated with all the respect owed to a profession full of accomplished balloon-animal makers and jugglers.

"We feel that this has done great harm in the business of clowning and for clowns," an entertainer who goes by the name Dottie The Clown told Vice News. "A number of clown clubs have actually folded due to the negativity surrounding it."

"You need to remember that clowns are people too."
Even the evil ones?

Huff And Puff

The Huffington Post goes low:
The post, written by Dexter Rogers, states, “… the world has been seriously duped into believing the terrorists ascended from abroad when actuality they were born and bred on American soil.”

The article quickly goes on to accuse Bush and the U.S. government of committing an inside job on 9/11.

“Bush managed to ride off into the sunset after destroying this country by socially engineering people that 9/11 was perpetrated by outsiders when it was an inside job by the American government,” Rogers says.

He expounds on his theories, stating, “Considering how the three towers collapsed many believe they were blown up demolition style. If you all remember, Tower No.7 fell and it was never hit. Also, where is the debris from the plane that supposedly hit the Pentagon?”

The post was published on HuffPost’s contributor section, which allows individuals to write stories and publish to HuffPost without being staff members.
Never let history get in the way of lunatic revisionism...

Evil Steve?

How to make someone look bad:
“It seems like 60 minutes would like you to listen less and look more at Steve Bannon. By subtly tweaking the color of the video, they make him look like a bleary-eyed drunk. I show you how they did it,” writes Duke on the video’s YouTube page.

Peter Duke has photographed Milo Yiannopoulos, Scott Adams and James O’Keefe.

In the video, Duke explains how CBS color adjusted Bannon’s shots to make his eyes and lips red by increasing the level of saturation. This results in curtains that are a brighter orange behind Bannon than they are in Charlie Rose’s shot. Rose’s shot was made “cooler,” to make the host’s make-up more subtle.

Duke then adjusted the interview’s lighting, removing Bannon’s redness and Rose’s “coolness.”

The result is a natural looking Bannon.
Sometimes, 60 Minutes, the evil is you...

What Really Happened

She's not leaving anyone out:
"I went from 26 points ahead to 13 points ahead, and I needed about 18 points in order to be sure to win Pennsylvania," Clinton said of the impact of Comey's notorious letter explaining he was re-opening the investigation. "I watched how analysts who I have a great deal of respect for, like Nate Silver, burrowed into all the data and said that 'but for that Comey letter, she would have won.'"
"So it was very personal to me," she said in an interview with CBS's Jane Pauley. "I think my general election prospects were badly damaged because of that, so that even though I was starting to come back, it was not enough time to overcome it."
Clinton also rattled off Russia, Wikileaks, and even fake news as other culprits in her failed presidential run.
"But even though [the Comey letter] was the primary blow to my campaign at the very end, it has to be looked at in context -- with the Russians weaponizing information, negative stories about me; this whole Wikileaks beginning to leak in early October of John Podesta's emails -- which if you read them all were, they're pretty anodyne, but they were taken out of context; stories were made up about them."
Clinton then cited a recent story about Facebook accepting advertising from a Russian firm as another reason for her loss.
"We now know that Facebook was taking money from Russian companies to run negative stories about me," she continued. "If you look at all of this, yes, it affected me and my campaign. But I am more concerned now going forward that we haven't come to grips with what it means for future elections."
What happens when she runs out of people to blame?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Buzz Of Life

From a newly discovered Kurt Vonnegut story, about employment, and bees:
He was about 50—very tall, and handsome in a lazy, ornamental way. His hair was golden, his eyes blue, and he stroked his mustache with his little finger as he shook my hand.

“You come highly recommended,” he said.

“Thank you, sir,” I said.

He brought his finger away from his mustache, and I saw that his upper lip was swollen on one side, as fat as a Ping-Pong ball. He touched the swelling. “A bee,” he said.


“It must be very painful,” I said.


“It is,” he said. “I won’t deceive you about that.” He smiled sourly. “Don’t let anybody tell you this isn’t a woman’s world.”

“How’s that, sir?,” I said.

“Only a female bee can sting,” he said.

“Oh,” I said. “I didn’t know that about bees.”
Do not bees sting?

Still Unsolved

The greatest unsolved code ever?
Taking it at face value, the problem with the first section, says Davis, is that little of it is new. Other scholars, cryptographers, and sleuths have looked at the illustrations of plants, astrological charts, and bathing and already surmised it has to do with health. For example, one of the texts where Gibbs finds illustrations matching up with the Voynich manuscript’s is De Balneis Puteolanis, a bathing guide. Voynich.nu, a popular website devoted to the Voynich manuscript, lays out the similarities between the two manuscripts.

In the second part—only two paragraphs long—Gibbs gets into the meat of his solution: Each character in the manuscript is an abbreviated word, not a letter. This could be a breakthrough, but the TLS presents only two lines decoded using Gibbs’s method. Davis did not find those two lines convincing either. “They’re not grammatically correct. It doesn’t result in Latin that makes sense,” she says.
Today's health guides are often just as inscrutable...

"Did I Sign That?"

Politicians get caught with their briefs down:
GOP Reps. Mark Meadows and Walter Jones signed an amicus (or friend-of-the-court) brief in Gill v. Whitford, a marquee case in which the justices will consider the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. Meadows and Jones were originally signatories to a brief from a bipartisan coalition of politicians urging the Court to find the practice unconstitutional, but the duo said Friday they did not mean to sign the brief.

“As he does with all action items, Congressman Meadows indicated he would be willing to review the amicus brief but never intended to formally sign on,” Meadows spokesman Ben Williamson told the Raleigh News & Observer. “His name was added in error and has been removed from the brief. We continue to enjoy a tremendous working relationship with the North Carolina state legislature and are grateful for everything they do.”

A spokeswoman for Jones also attributed the appearance of his name to an error.
I'm sure they'll pay closer attention next time...

Hurricane Control

Don't make it mad:
According to the story, tens of thousands of people signed up on a Facebook event to shoot at Hurricane Irma.

“YO SO THIS GOOFY LOOKING WINDY HEADA** NAMED IRMA SAID THEY PULLING UP ON US. LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST,” the event description reads.

As of Sunday morning, the time the event was scheduled for, more than 54,000 said they were interested in joining.

Obviously, the event was tongue-in-cheek, so the CSGV’s tweet advising against shooting at the hurricane was lit up with hilarious responses.
Remember, only you can stop hurricane violence...

Saturday, September 09, 2017

The Final Cut

Why pay them more for what you're not watching?
the reason your cable bill is so expensive is because — whether or not you watch these left-wing networks — the game has been rigged to the point where you are paying for them anyway.

The good news … and I do have good news, is that this carriage fee is the aforementioned one-legged stool. And this means that YOU have the power to kick that single leg out from under this rancid institution. You have the power to bring this entire dirty world crashing to the ground. You have the power to destroy CNN and ESPN. And that power resides within a single act…

Cut your Pay TV cord. Whether it is cable, whether it is satellite, you have to cut that cord.
We all have to cut the cord sometime...

Wasting Time And Money

Sorry, students, you bought it:
While student loans do pay for school first, any additional money is basically given to the student. They can then use that money for whatever...including things like drugs, alcohol, and their fraternity/sorority dues.

I'm curious just how many who engaged in this behavior now want their student loans forgiven. Even if we simply assume that these percentages hold up among any subgroup--not always a fair assumption, to be sure, but work with me here--then a majority of the people demanding debt forgiveness are people who want the American taxpayers to subsidize some aspect of their partying in college.
Party on your own dime, kids...

Friday, September 08, 2017

FEC Follies

The FEC is at it again:
Republicans on the FEC have claimed for years that the Democrats have been focused on the Internet in part because they want to silence conservative outlets like the Drudge Report, conservative videos, and even movies.

But the Facebook revelation and huge amount of money involved should give the Democrats a new weapon in their fight to regulate spending on Internet sites beyond paid advocacy. Under current rules, paid online ads that say, for example, "Vote For" or "Vote Against," are regulated. The so-called Internet freedom rule, however, exempts free Internet posts and advocacy by third parties.

Ravel, who is still influential in the campaign to regulate Internet spending, signaled in another tweet her support for a national campaign to pressure Congress to expand FEC rules to cover online campaigns.

"And it's becoming more and more important," she tweeted, "as all forms of campaigning moves to the internet."

Then late Thursday, Weintraub pushed further on Twitter, promising more action on the politically split FEC. "We're *very* late on this. Don't know why @FEC GOPers have obstructed us for months, but I'm not done fighting. Stay tuned," she wrote.

She attached her demand that the issue be discussed next week to a tweet that read, "So I'm putting it to a vote at @FEC: Do the American people deserve to know who's paying for the political info they see on the internet?"
Yes, but they also deserve a free Internet...

Trump Storm

Because Mother Nature is angry, or something:
“It’s scary,” she responded. “You know, it’s this new language that’s forming, I don’t even recognize it. It’s also scary to know, that climate change is due to human activity, and we continue to ignore it, and the only voice that we really have is through voting,” Lawrence stated.

“And you have voted very recently, as a country” the interviewer acknowledged.

“And we voted, and it was really startling,” Lawrence added. She then insinuated that the hurricanes were "Mother Nature's rage and wrath" at America for Trump.

“You know you’re watching these hurricanes now, and it’s really hard especially while promoting this movie, not to feel mother nature’s rage and wrath," she stated.
So what about Hurricane Sandy? Maybe it was Republican?

Friends Of Her

Hillary's people were apparently quite active in New Hampshire:
More than 6,500 people registered to vote in New Hampshire on Nov. 8 using out-of-state driver’s licenses, and since then the vast majority have neither obtained an in-state license nor registered a motor vehicle.

Conservatives say the state’s same-day registration is an invitation for fraud because of loose proof-of-residence rules.

New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper, a Republican, issued the numbers Thursday based on inquiries he made to the Department of State, which oversees elections, and the Department of Safety.
There apparently weren't enough dead voters around...

The Smoking Laptop

Is this Debbie Wasserman-Schulz's Watergate moment?
Imran entered a House office building the night of April 6, two months after he was banned by House authorities from touching its network, and placed the laptop, a copy of his ID, and letters to the US Attorney in a phone booth, according to a police report. There would be little reason to enter the phone booth, and it would be difficult to forget items there.

Imran also left in the phone booth a notebook that said “attorney client privilege,” which could be a reason why prosecutors gave Imran’s lawyer a copy of what could be Wasserman Schultz’s laptop. Prosecutors said they were giving him a copy under the legal process of discovery, in which defendants have a right to evidence being used against them.

He has only been charged with bank-fraud crimes related to trying to flee the country with cash, which is why its inclusion in discovery suggests prosecutors intend to bring charges related to the underlying cybersecurity and theft probe. Imran’s lawyer, Wasserman Schultz, and many in the media have said the misconduct involving Imran goes no further than bank fraud, but the timeline makes clear that a serious criminal investigation into those House issues was the impetus for those moves, and the notebook also included “case details” and letters about “the apparent owner of the bag being investigated,” well before he was accused of bank fraud.
By their hard drives you shall know them...

Full Plate Nation

America is less hungry now:
The USDA report says much of the drop is attributed to a decreasing unemployment rate and less inflation of food prices, meaning people can afford to buy more food.

“Food insecurity increased substantially with the recession,” Alisha Coleman-Jensen, the report’s lead author, told Bloomberg. “Along with falling unemployment, low levels of food inflation have also eased hunger in the U.S., she said. ‘We’re continuing the downward trend.'”

U.S. unemployment hit 4.4 percent in August, a 0.5 percent decrease from 2016. In May, the Department of Labor said that unemployment numbers fell to a 28-year low just months after President Donald Trump took office.
Prosperity breeds a full stomach...

New School Rules

The rule of law returns:
DeVos said:

The era of “rule by letter” is over.

Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach. With the heavy hand of Washington tipping the balance of her scale, the sad reality is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today.

This unraveling of justice is shameful, it is wholly un-American, and it is anathema to the system of self-governance to which our Founders pledged their lives over 240 years ago.

DeVos made herself clear at the start of her address that “acts of sexual misconduct are reprehensible, disgusting, and unacceptable. They are acts of cowardice and personal weakness, often thinly disguised as strength and power.”

Unlike her predecessors in the Obama administration, however, she gave significant attention to the problem of those students who are accused of sexual assault and denied their due process.

“We need to remember that we’re not just talking about faceless ‘cases,’” the secretary said. “We are talking about people’s lives. Everything we do must recognize this before anything else.”
Evidence still matters...

Thursday, September 07, 2017

What About Bob?

Bob who?
CBS, NBC, and ABC all began their programs discussing Hurricane Irma before reporting on President Donald Trump's decision to support a short-term debt-ceiling extension or providing an update on the recovery efforts in Texas for Hurricane Harvey victims.

"CBS Evening News" led off with a story about Hurricane Irma, followed by:

Houston's recovery from Hurricane Harvey
Trump's $1 million donation for Harvey relief
The latest on Trump's cancellation of the DACA program
Trump's deal with Democrats on raising the debt ceiling
Violence in Chicago
Hillary Clinton's upcoming memoir on her election loss
Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett's claim of police misconduct in Las Vegas
Safety ratings for pickup trucks
Wildfires in the western United States
Legos
"NBC Nightly News" also began with Irma, followed by:

FEMA's financial struggles to keep up with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
Republicans blindsided by Trump's deal with Democrats
Western wildfires
Michael Bennett
A shoplifter in Texas escaping handcuffs and stealing a police car
The latest on the U.S. Open
A young boy who got a police escort to school after his father, a cop, died
A woman making her wedding registry about donations to others
"ABC World News Tonight" began with Irma, followed by:

Trump's deal with Democrats
The latest on DACA
The Texas shoplifter's escape
Michael Bennett
Facebook revealing $100,000 in political ads bought by fake accounts based in Russia during the election
A safety recall on dressers
Jo Dee Messina revealing her cancer diagnosis
A plane flying by Hurricane Irma
NewsBusters noted that the ABC and NBC morning shows also ignored the trial Wednesday morning, while "CBS This Morning" did a brief blurb on it.
Some scandals are more equal than others...

Lost And Found

You've got to be more careful:
According to a report from the Daily Caller, Imran Awan, the tech who was arrested for bank fraud, left a laptop in a small public room at the Rayburn House Office Building for U.S. Capitol Police to discover. This was the laptop that Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the Capitol Police over in a now infamous video from an exchange in May.

“If the member loses the equipment, says they lose the equipment, and it is found by the Capitol Police, it should be returned,” Wasserman Schultz said in the very tense interaction with the police chief. He explained that it could not be returned if there was an ongoing criminal investigation.

“If the equipment belongs to the member, it has been lost, they say it has been lost, and it is identified as that member’s, the Capitol Police is supposed to return it,” she repeated.

With the laptop were discovered other items: “a Pakistani ID card, copies of Awan’s driver’s license and congressional ID badge, and letters to the U.S. attorney.”
When you're on the run, don't forget your laptop...

Ryan's Revolt

Now is the Fall of their discontent:
While the chances that a non-House member could mount a credible threat to Ryan are exceedingly slim, the fact the group has even toyed with the idea underscores their desire to create trouble for GOP leaders if they believe their demands are not being addressed.

The closed-door conversations are being led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, in consultation with his allies on the right, in particular Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist who recently returned to his perch as executive chairman of the Breitbart News website. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Freedom Caucus members are also involved in the talks to varying degrees, according to nearly a dozen people with knowledge of the discussions.

On Wednesday, Meadows, Jordan and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) took their concerns directly to Ryan, telling him in a private meeting in the Capitol that his failure to enact conservative priorities could diminish his support among conservatives.
Ryan wanted to lead, but failed to listen once he did...

Dealing In D.C.

The art of the deal?
For months, Mr. Trump had suggested that he might work with Democrats if Republicans couldn’t advance his legislative priorities, but he always pulled back at the last minute. The Republican president’s move Wednesday raised questions about whether he will now turn to Democrats to reach deals on tax reform and immigration.

The startling deal Wednesday, reached after a meeting between Mr. Trump and congressional leaders in the Oval Office, was driven by an urge to present a unified government at a time of crisis, as millions of Americans braced for Hurricane Irma’s wrath and others struggled to rebuild after Harvey, GOP leaders said.

If approved by Congress, the agreement would defer the threat of a partial government shutdown and a default on the country’s debt until Dec. 15 and dispatch the first $7.85 billion installment of Harvey relief, clearing the three most pressing items from the crowded September legislative agenda.
You'd think they'd be happy, then...

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Bruised And Bewildered

CNN is still trying to recover:
Questions linger about the way CNN handled the publication of the story and the retraction. The network’s swift and severe response drew coverage throughout the media world, and prompted some journalists to question whether CNN had bowed to political pressure and overreacted on a story it has never explicitly said was wrong. Instead, the network maintains there had been unacceptable breakdowns in the newsroom’s internal review process.

In interviews with The New York Times, more than half a dozen CNN staff members, including three with direct knowledge of the investigative unit’s operations, provided previously unreported details about the publication of the story and the fallout from its retraction. Citing fear of retribution, the people requested anonymity to discuss sensitive internal information.

In the weeks since the story was retracted, the investigative team has been reshaped and redirected. Its members were told they should not report on perhaps the most compelling political story of the year: potential ties between the Trump administration and Russia. That subject is now largely handled by CNN’s reporting team in Washington. The political whizzes of KFile, a group of Internet-savvy reporters poached from BuzzFeed that was untainted by the retraction, were transferred out of the investigative team.

The remaining team members have resumed publishing, but with a narrower reporting scope; they now focus on topics less glamorous than Mr. Trump’s potential ties to Russia, like the opioid crisis and the environment.
In other words, actual news...

Poor Man's Profit

Poverty is good work if you can get it:
Although the details of most of the SPLC's foreign investments are unknown, the portfolio includes at least several million dollars in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda, as Joe Schoffstall reported in the Washington Free Beacon last week. The Beacon quoted two financial industry executives who expressed surprise and incredulity about the SPLC's offshore investing.

When THE WEEKLY STANDARD inquired of the SPLC about the appropriateness of the $69 million in offshore investments for the U.S.-based civil rights group, SPLC president Richard Cohen responded: “It is common for universities, foundations and other nonprofit organizations to have a portion of their endowments invested in off-shore funds. Each such fund in which the SPLC is invested is a highly reputable one that was recommended by Cambridge Associates, one of the country's leading investment advisory firms for nonprofit institutions.”
Just a little extra cash...

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Idiot Winds

The angry male hurricane?
“Feminine-named hurricanes (vs. masculine-named hurricanes) cause significantly more deaths, apparently because they lead to a lower perceived risk and consequently less preparedness,” the researchers wrote in the world-renowned scientific journal last year.

According to CNN, the researchers not only analyzed death tolls from hurricanes occurring between 1950 and 2012, but also conducted their own independent experiments. One experiment had participants predict the intensity of 10 hurricanes — five with male names and five with female names.

The results showed that both male and female participants assumed the male hurricanes were more dangerous and deadly. Another experiment showed that participants would evacuate their homes at a much higher rate if the hurricane was named “Alexander” rather than “Alexandra.”

“These experiments show that gender-congruent perceptions of intensity and strength are responsible for male-named hurricanes being perceived as riskier and more intense than female-named hurricanes,” the study said. “These findings have important implications for hurricane preparedness and public safety.”

“For severe storms, where taking protective action would have the greatest potential to save lives, the masculinity-femininity of a hurricane’s name predicted its death toll,” it added.
Female hurricanes are nicer?

Tropical Futures

Hawaii takes a look at basic income:
Hawaii state lawmakers have voted to explore the idea of a universal basic income in light of research suggesting that a majority of waiter, cook and building cleaning jobs — vital to Hawaii's tourism-dependent economy — will eventually be replaced by machines. The crucial question of who would pay for the program has yet to be determined. But support for the idea has taken root.

"Our economy is changing far more rapidly than anybody's expected," said state Rep. Chris Lee, who introduced legislation to consider a guaranteed universal income.

Lee said he felt it's important "to be sure that everybody will benefit from the technological revolution that we're seeing to make sure no one's left behind."
Except, perhaps, for those who would be left behind...

Spice Talk

Whatever happened to Sean Spicer?
“Audiences around the world will benefit from the same candor, wit and insight that Spicer brought to the White House briefing room,” the speakers clearinghouse, which represents numerous political and business leaders, from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and vice presidential candidate Carly Fiorina to Virgin founder Richard Branson and investor star of “Shark Tank,” Barbara Corcoran.

“We are thrilled to provide Sean for our major trade association, corporate, university and public lecture series customers around the world,” a spokesman for Worldwide Speakers Group told Politico in a statement. “With his well-known candor and extensive experience, Sean is uniquely qualified to help audiences understand how the political environment will impact them now and in the future.”

It’s unclear how much Spicer will be paid for each speech.
It's good work if you can get it...

Less Is Moore

Roy Moore is not a fan of government education:
The federal government should have no involvement in education. Common Core is an example of an attempt to indoctrinate our children with ideas that most people – at least in Alabama – don’t agree with. And yet it’s pushed on us by using our own tax money to buy our children over. And I think that’s very wrong. I oppose Common Core…it’s a very bad thing…and I think it should be stopped in Alabama.

Moore continues in his video message that he recalls President Ronald Reagan talked about abolishing the federal education department.

He asserts:

I would have no problem with it being turned back to the states. I think the competition between the states is good, and I think they will improve their educational systems. And I think it they can use their own money for their educational system, they can give tax credits, they can give charter schools, they can give Christian organizations at schools. There’s many different forms of education, and I think we got to instill in the students the willingness and the “want to,” if you will, to become educated.
Hey, big government, leave those kids alone?

Monday, September 04, 2017

Dieting For Geeks

Food? What is that?
Over the last eight months the former CEO of Evernote and current CEO of AI studio All Turtles has shunned food for stretches of between two and eight days, interspersed with similar periods of eating. He’s lost almost 90lbs and describes getting into fasting as “transformative”.

“There’s a mild euphoria. I’m in a much better mood, my focus is better, and there’s a constant supply of energy. I just feel a lot healthier. It’s helping me be a better CEO,” he said over a cup of black coffee – one of many that day – at All Turtles’ Soma office. “Getting into fasting is definitely one of the top two or three most important things I’ve done in my life.”
More for the rest of us, then?

Exit, Due South

And don't come back:
The news comes from the 59-year-old star’s Instagram, where she posted two images with captions explaining that she’s moved to a new country after falling in love with the “energy.”

“The energy of Portugal is so inspiring. I feel very creative and alive here and I look forward to working on my film LOVED and making New Music!!!” she wrote. “This will be the next Chapter in My Book! It’s time to conquer the world from a different vantage point!!”
....

A spokesperson for Madonna explained to The Associated Press that the star first became infatuated with the country in 2004 after ending a tour there. She’s originally from Michigan but has been living in New York for several years.
They'll have to fumigate the city when she leaves...

Heavy Metal Mania

Heavy metal haters?
In addition to advising parents about children who “change their appearance” and “sudden lack of interest in school” — both of which are habits of typical teenagers — the list suggests that children who play “loud, heavy rock music with violent lyrics” may be part of a hate group.

The police force came under fire from the Canadian public shortly after they put out the memo. Speaking to Toronto Metro, a hardcore music fan accused the police of promoting outdated stereotypes about heavy metal and rock music.

“My son, he listens to heavy metal, and he’s one of the nicest kids ever, but I tend to see him lumped into a group he doesn’t belong in,” said Robert Riggs, adding that the stereotype was like the idea that video games cause violence.

“It’s not monkey see, monkey do,” he said. Kids see their parents go to work all time, and they don’t suddenly get up and find a job at seven-years-old.”

A spokesperson for the Calgary Police disagrees with Riggs, stating that listening to heavy rock music is a “common trend” in hate groups. “We’re not saying all people who listen to rock music are part of hate groups, but there tends to be a correlation – people who are involved with hate groups tend to be involved in that kind of music.”
So what about Antifa? Does alternative music make them violent?

Back to Semi-Work

Congress looks forward to...having too much to do?
Once Congress has shoved its way through the must-pass items on September’s calendar, it must also pass another set of must-do activities in October. They include the 2018 government budget, plus the border wall, and the tax bill.

Those requirements — especially the budget bills — will slip and slide their way into November and then December, leaving little time for a painful amnesty fight, especially because the voters can make themselves heard and felt during the Thanksgiving and Christmas recesses.

January is for rest and recovery, February is for getting back to the congressional routine, and March is when people start muttering about impending primaries.
The rest of the year is for pontificating on C-Span and taking vacations...

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Good Work, Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon's enduring appeal:

Since its publishing debut in 1947, Goodnight Moon, with its text by Margaret Wise Brown and its pictures by Clement Hurd, has sold 48 million copies. Goodnight Moon represents the high point of the partnership between Brown, the author of multiple children’s books, and Hurd, who studied art in Paris during the ’30s with Fernand Leger.
Unlike “Little Red Riding Hood,” Goodnight Moon does not grow out of folklore. Unlike “Cinderella,” it does not depend on miracles. Unlike Make Way for Ducklings, it does not have a plot. There is not even a memorable character in Goodnight Moon. The essence of Goodnight Moon is its faith in the way children invest their worlds with meaning. The central figure of Goodnight Moon is a young bunny who before going to sleep finds it reassuring to say goodnight to everything in his room.
Of course, it could also be a penguin:


Blogging In The Years: 1977

Voyager prepares to reach for the stars:
No weather problems were expected for the launching, which was scheduled for 8:56 A.M..

George Page, in charge of the TitanCentaur launch rocket, said today that “the cloud cover is moving west and it is quite probable we will have clear skies.”

Voyager 2 was launched Aug. 20, and has been speeding smoothly toward Jupiter since some early problems were corrected.

Voyager 1's trajectory is expected to bring it to Jupiter before Voyager 2. Voyager 1 is scheduled to make its closest approach to Jupiter on March 5, 1979, and its closest approach to Saturn on Nov. 12, 1980. Voyager 2 is expected to be closest to Jupiter on July 10, 1979, and to Saturn on Aug. 27, 1981.
It's a long trip, and there are no rest stops...

Welsh Washout

Government health care fails again:
The Labour-led Welsh government’s management of the health service has attracted fresh criticism after it emerged that the number of people waiting more than 12 months for an operation in Wales has risen by more than 400% in the past four years.
A freedom of information request by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) revealed the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks for surgery in the year ending March 2017 was 3,605. In March 2013, the figure was 699.

The number of people waiting more than a year for treatment in England – which has more than 17 times the population of Wales – was 1,302.

Tim Havard, regional director for Wales at the RCS and a consultant general surgeon said: “Long waits for surgery can be traumatising for patients and their families. In some cases patients will be in extreme pain or immobile, possibly unable to work or carry out daily tasks. A patient’s condition can also deteriorate the longer they are made to wait for treatment, meaning the eventual outcomes are not as good as they could have been.”
Patients dying because they couldn't get their operations tends to have that effect...

Fight Or Flight

Having failed to convince a majority of businesses or politicians that wage hiking actually works, the Fight for Fifteen crowd is going after a new target:
The national campaign to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour – the Fight for 15 – is hosting a strike over Labor Day weekend, as the movement shifts gears toward winning back Midwestern states from the GOP in upcoming elections.
“The number one job of politicians is to raise the standard of living for workers,” the Fight for 15’s strike invitation reads. “But in states across the country, Republican governors are doing the opposite – using their power to do everything they can to help corporations and billionaires at the expense of the rest of us … In 2018, the worst Republican governors – ones in battleground states – are ALL up for reelection. Let’s throw ‘em out.”
Because the Democratic versions have worked so well elsewhere, right?

Teachers' Pets

Those who can't do, indoctrinate:
One of BAMN’s most prominent organizers is Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle school teacher and pro-violence militant. Felarca currently faces charges of inciting a riot for her role in the Sacramento violence
After BAMN and other antifa groups staged violent protests in Berkeley to keep right-wing author Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking, Felarca defended her group’s acts of violence. BAMN was able to cancel another event, this time an April speech by pro-Trump author Ann Coulter, by promising a repeat performance of the Milo riots.
The FBI and DHS say Antifa groups like BAMN are engaging in “domestic terrorist violence,” according to the Politico report.
Molding the minds of the future Communists of America...

Russians Go Home

The Trump-Putin bromance appears to be over:
"These inspections were carried out to secure and protect the facilities and to confirm the Russian government had vacated the premises," the official said in a statement emailed Saturday to reporters by the State Department on condition the official not be named.

The official also denied Kremlin claims that American officials had threatened to "break down the entrance door" to one of the facilities, and that the FBI was "clearing the premises."

Russia has been incensed by the move to shutter its consulate in San Francisco and trade offices in Washington and New York, actions the U.S. took in retaliation for Moscow's decision last month to force the U.S. to cut its diplomatic personnel in Russia to 455.

Moscow has accused the U.S. of violating international law by shuttering the facilities, a charge the U.S. disputes.
And the Russia conspiracy theory takes another hit...

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Big Spenders Leave Campus?

The Left may be losing more than just hearts and minds on campus:
The defining issue is whether parents and donors see administrators as capable of containing clashes and responding firmly when protests get out of control, experts say.

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit that advocates for a variety of higher education issues, told Fox News that how a college handles freedom of expression matters greatly to prospective students, their parents and donors.

“When they look to what college to pick, parents and students are thinking of the largest investment their family is likely to make beyond the purchase of a home,” Pfeffer Merrill said. “Across the political spectrum, one of the most essential assets is [the opportunity] to be exposed to a wide range of views."
Too bad the protesters don't believe in that. But maybe having their allowances cut off will change that...

The Last Desperate Measures Of The MSM

Why the Mainstream Media now supports violence:
Rush Limbaugh is absolutely correct, the Democrat party is dead. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the party’s two supposed leaders, are non-entities. From top-to-bottom, the party is a feckless pile of incompetence. Knowing this, the media has told Schumer and Pelosi to hold their beer as they seize the levers of power in the leftwing cause. As a result, the media has used billions of corporate dollars to launch a propaganda campaign to unseat Trump and to keep the divisive issue of identity politics thriving.

Naturally, this rabid pursuit of so-called “social justice” is meant only to serve what has always been the overriding goal of leftwing tyrants: control of our lives through a centralized government.

Nevertheless, this represents the least of our media’s sins.

The media campaign to censor and silence the political right, most especially on the college campus and online, is being waged on two fronts: through the ever-expanding definitions of “hate speech” and the “alt-right,” and through large corporations.
When you no longer have the power, you have to try and take it back...

The Last Left Coast Outpost

Democrats target San Diego:
The San Diego Union Tribune reports:

The bill by Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, would allow for a charter amendment that would require races for county offices to be determined in the November general election, regardless of the results in the June primary. The bill only applies to San Diego County.

Currently, politicians can be elected into those offices if they receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. But if the charter is amended as authorized by Gloria’s bill, the top-two candidates in the primary will face each other in the November general election regardless of the primary outcome.

Pushing all countywide elections to the November general election will force campaigns to last longer and cost more, even if there is a clear winner after the primary under the current rules. This change will also give Democrats a strong advantage over Republicans, because Democrats turn out in larger numbers in general elections.

Even though county offices are supposedly nonpartisan, this bill will only affect San Diego County, where all the county supervisors are Republicans.
They never met an election they didn't like to rig...

Living Large In Retirement

Why are American taxpayers still paying for his lifestyle?
According to the Washington Times, Obama’s post-presidential needs will cost taxpayers $1,153,000 next year. The figure surpasses former Presidents George W. Bush by more than $100,000, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush by more than $200,000 and Jimmy Carter by nearly $700,000.

More from the Times:

By far the biggest cost for ex-presidents is renting office space. Mr. Obama’s office — 8,198 square feet in D.C. — will cost taxpayers $536,000 next year, the most of any ex-president. Mr. Clinton’s New York office is bigger, at 8,300 square feet, but slightly cheaper at $518,000. The younger Mr. Bush’s office in Dallas is $497,000, while his father’s space in Houston is $286,000. Mr. Carter’s Atlanta office is just $115,000.
The 1958 Former Presidents Act provides former living presidents with several lifelong benefits, including taxpayer funded office space, staff, travel and pension.

Post-presidential pensions begin at a base rate of $205,700, but former presidents can ask Congress for additional money. According to the Congressional Research Service memo, which details the numbers, Obama’s pension next year will be $236,000, the highest of his colleagues. Clinton’s is second-highest at $231,000 while the younger Bush’s is third-highest at $225,000.
From the endless campaign to the endless vacation...

The Yellow Peel Peril

because fruit is racist, or something:
Ole Miss Greek Life leaders cut their three-day leadership retreat to nearby Camp Hopewell short after black students discovered a banana peel dangling in a tree outside of one of the camp’s cabins.

The banana peel was later spotted by Alpha Kappa Alpha President, Makala McNeil, a leader from one of the campus’s historically black sororities.

The Daily Mississippian reported that McNeil had just left a group discussion about race relations when she spotted the banana peel in the tree.

“The overall tone [of the meeting] was heavy,” McNeil told the newspaper. “I mean, we were talking about race in Mississippi and in the Greek community so there’s a lot involved.”

She added that she and her friends were “all just sort of paranoid for a second” after noticing the banana peel, calling its appearance “so strange and surreal.”
It could have been worse. It could have been an orange peel, or an apple core, or...

Friday, September 01, 2017

The Case Of The Invisible Emails

What are they hiding?

A Voice From The Wilderness

They swear they have a message after all:

Archie A.I. Bunker

Software is now racist, or something:
Professor Vicente Ordóñez noticed a pattern with the system, “It would see a picture of a kitchen and more often than not associate it with women, not men.” This seemed to be due to the image sets that the AI system learned from which predominantly featured women in roles such as cooking or shopping while men were associated with coaching or shooting.

Alang then notes examples of A.I. discriminating against black people stating, “A ProPublica investigation revealed that justice systems were using AI to predict that chance of reoffending, and incorrectly marked black defendants as more likely to be future criminals.” The article further goes on to explain that while many may believe that “artificial intelligence” describes a computer system that can think for itself, what the term A.I. usually describes is simply “machine learning”, a process by which a system can recognize or understand certain situations or photographs once it is given enough reference data to compare new information to.

“Obviously, our phones are not sentient little beings in our pockets. But many apps use parts of artificial intelligence to do things like recognize faces or images, react to context such as adding one’s location to messages, or understanding commands we give with our voice,” Alang states. Alang’s solution for combating inherent bias that may appear within A.I. systems is to approach A.I. from a specific social justice perspective.
Why are you calling me a bigot, Dave?

Google Being Evil?

Has Google becomeBig Brother?
On the far-left, the World Socialist Web Site is claiming “a 70 percent drop in referrals from Google searches” and that the site’s “news articles and essays on politics, history and culture are being systematically blocked.” The group claims a Google algorithm change in April led to its content being blacklisted.

In an article published Wednesday, the WSWS claimed that “the top 45 search terms that formerly led readers to the WSWS are now blocked by Google.” The socialist website says Google is wrongfully censoring them under the guise of fighting fake news.

Also this week, a right-wing website called The Liberty Conservative claims to have received a letter from Google threatening to suspend advertising revenue from the site unless it pulled down an article written by an organizer of last month’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

“Yesterday morning, we received a very bizarre letter from Google issuing us an ultimatum,” Shane Trejo wrote in an article posted to The Liberty Conservative on Wednesday. “Either we were to remove a particular article or see all of our ad revenues choked off in an instant. This is the newest method that Big Brother is using to enforce thought control.”
Extremism might be one thing, but what happens when everyone becomes an extremist?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Swamp Spending

Congress gets ready to do what it does:
Congress must approve a catchall, massive spending measure to fund the government beyond Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. A slate of 12 annual appropriations bills pay for every government program. The House approved a conglomeration of four spending bills in July. The Senate hasn’t touched any of those. The House is now trying desperately to advance the remaining eight bills – if for no reason than to brag that it did its job and passed the necessary bills. But without Senate cooperation, that leaves the House and Senate one option: a “Continuing Resolution” or CR, a stopgap spending bill to fund the government for a short period of time and avoid a government shutdown.

The government shutters if there’s no spending plan in place by Oct. 1.

But there’s a problem with a CR when it comes to deficit spending: CR’s simply renew old funding to keep the government afloat. Congress can wield more authority and actually reduce spending if it individually approves the 12 annual appropriations bills. Granted, the total price tag of those 12 bills usually jumps each year. But Congress can better control spending if it handles the bills one by one rather than glomming everything together in a gigantic package.
But that would be too responsible...

Climate Reality Wins

The climate alarmists have lost:
On the topic of the science of climate change, including the causes and potential dangers, the debate is still very much alive and well. But the current climate-change debate held in most public forums, including in Washington, D.C., has never been particularly scientific (that is, adhering to the scientific method), and after three decades of debating the claims made repeatedly by climate alarmists such as Al Gore, it’s clear the debate is over, and the alarmists have lost.

What alarmists believe

The current climate alarmist debate involves only two groups. The alarmists are those who say climate change is happening, that it is now and has for decades been caused by humans’ greenhouse-gas emissions, that the warming is causing or will soon cause catastrophic problems, and, most importantly, that the evidence is overwhelming and beyond dispute. Anyone who doesn’t believe in all four of those assertions falls, whether they realize it or not, into the “climate skeptic” camp, a rather large tent.

If this description of the debate surprises you, it’s only because for 30 years alarmists have consistently and improperly been claiming climate-change skeptics are “deniers” — a name that was deliberately chosen because of its link to Holocaust “deniers” — who are stupid, corrupt, or both. They’ve spread countless falsehoods about what global warming actually is and have repeatedly made untrue claims about what skeptics believe.
Lying is pretty much all they have...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Media's Own Monument Mess

The Newseum is in trouble:
The museum charges $25 for what visitors to D.C. get for free at the National Air and Space Museum, Library of Congress, and Jefferson Memorial. This and the internet’s corrosive effect on the print journalism celebrated by the museum serve as the default answers to why the venture, built for $450 million less than a decade ago, struggles. But it really fails because journalists fail at their jobs. Americans don’t view their profession as one comprised of honorable people.

The problems of the Newseum serve as a metaphor, a literary device “Fall of the House of Usher” readers recognize, for the problems of the news media it celebrates. The mausoleum to dead-tree journalism features “sponsored content,” biased presentations, and mission creep ephemera, such as Lady Gaga’s meat dress. Like cable news’s fondness for showing cable news clips from other networks and the numberless shows on the press talking about the press, the Newseum lets the public know that journalists think very highly of journalists—and you should, too. The Newseum crumbles as the profession crumbles, and for the same reasons. Americans distrust and dislike journalists.
Celebrating your own failures is not the key to a lasting legacy...

Reform Or Die

We need it:
Reforming the tax code is the single most important thing that Congress could do to jump-start our economy, create jobs, and raise wages for American workers. Our current code is uncompetitive, overly complex and loaded with special interest provisions that unfairly create winners and losers. This drives down capital investment, reduces productivity and causes wages to remain stagnant.

Individuals and businesses continue to waste billions of dollars and millions of hours each year trying to figure out their tax bills — instead of spending more time with their families, or thinking about how to innovate and expand.

Our corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world. It has led to more American businesses being acquired by foreigners or struggling to keep pace with their foreign competitors. This means headquarter jobs are going to overseas cities instead of American cities. Our uncompetitive system has trapped more than $2.5 trillion overseas because American companies are penalized for bringing profits back by our high U.S. corporate tax rate, boosting other countries at the expense of our own.

This isn’t about helping companies like JPMorgan Chase. Yes, tax reform will help American companies become more competitive, but the real reason to do it is to increase jobs and increase wages.
Republicans used to support this kind of thing...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Blogging In The Years: 1993

The trials and tribulations of being President:
According to a new TIME/CNN poll, only 36% of the public approves of Clinton's handling of his job, a record low for a postwar President four months into his first term. Meanwhile, for the first time, fully 50% of the public disapproves of his performance as President. Dismayed by Clinton's preference for taxes over spending cuts, 58% of the public believes Clinton is a "tax-and-spend liberal." Such dismal ratings will make it easier for legislators to abandon the President in future contests. "At this moment," said a top political adviser, "nobody is afraid of him, and he has to find a way to change that."

Clinton can take heart from the fact that presidential popularity is an extremely volatile substance. George Bush won an 89% approval rating after the Gulf War in March 1991, but 10 months later it had dropped by half. Clinton can reflect that the polls can just as easily bounce the other way: he has plenty of time to recover from his error-filled start. Still, intimates say Clinton has been "sobered" by "how fast and how far he has fallen." Though most of them continue to insist the President seems to enjoy tough challenges, his advisers say they can detect the stress. Says one confidant: "He says he is fine. But he doesn't sound fine."
Just breathe, Bill...

Liberal Cartography

There are no neo-Nazis here:
The town had previously contested the claim, but the SPLC had stood by its marking the Amanas on the "hate map." Why? The organization claimed "it had confirmation that a group of individuals met sometime in September 2016 at a restaurant in the Amanas."

"The First Iowa Stormer Bookclub was a success!" a user with the screen name Concerned Troll posted in a September 26, 2016, thread. Concerned Troll did not provide specific details about the visit, but went on to suggest a subsequent meeting in Des Moines.

Local officials shot back, explaining that there are no such groups active in Iowa County. Amanas leaders denounced hate groups and their activities, saying none of their messages or activities are welcome in their town. They demanded that the SPLC remove their community from the "hate map."

While Amana had been previously marked on the "hate map," the local leaders remained unaware of this designation until Daily Stormer became infamous following the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va., on August 12.

On Monday, the SPLC finally agreed, removing the town from the map.
Now, if only they would remove their own prejudices...

Banned By The Boardroom

Corporate censorship by any other name:
The issue, in this specific case, involves Stormfront and the Daily Stormer, two white supremacist websites booted off the internet by their web hosts. Now that no one will host these racist sites, the Daily Stormer has been forced to retreat to what’s known as the Dark Net, which makes it inaccessible to most everyone.

But as the Guardian points out, this corporate censorship is not just taking place against neo-Nazis. Twitter and Facebook have become the 21st-century versions of Ma Bell, or the telephone (in other words, the primary means by which Americans communicate with one another) and both sites have become notorious censors and scolds. Under the guise of “hate speech” and the demonic media’s ever-expanding definition of the “alt-right,” today’s Ma Bells are always monitoring your phone calls and warning you not to say “this” or “that” under the threat of cutting your telephone wires altogether.

The lazy conservative argument is that “a corporation has every right to run itself as it pleases.” In a perfect world, yes. But conservatives should also oppose monopolies when a corporation becomes so large, overwhelming and necessary that you have no place else to go.
Where do you want your rights to end?

Army Surplus Sale

Should the police get military gear?
Police work is unquestionably difficult — and often thankless. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for those who put it all on the line to protect our communities, and I saw their bravery firsthand this summer when Capitol Police officers made all the difference during the attack on our congressional baseball game practice.

To support our local police, we must first realize they aren’t soldiers. But today the line between the two is being eroded.

It’s no surprise you can find big government right at the heart of this problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear.
Cops aren't soldiers, and the two shouldn't be confused with each other.

Dutch Tax Treat

Denmark goes for tax reform:
The center-right coalition of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen wants to shrink the country’s tax burden by 23 billion kroner ($3.7 billion), with the proposed measures to be phased in through 2025, according to a statement published on Tuesday. The administration also said it will “monitor” the corporate tax rate to ensure Denmark stays competitive with its trade partners.

“With this proposal, we’re tackling a number of concrete challenges,” Finance Minister Kristian Jensen said in the statement. “We’re increasing the gains associated with working, we’re making it more attractive to work more and we’re ensuring that it’s more worthwhile to save up toward retirement.”

A fast-growing economy has pushed down the jobless rate to just 3.5 percent, prompting concern about potential labor shortages. An aging population is also weighing on the state’s coffers.
Now, if only our own Republicans could get the message...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

How to troll the opposition:

Our Better Selves

Where the good guys are:
Currently dominating the headlines are stories about groups from both the left and the right fighting in the streets. Stories, articles, and picket signs that openly promote violence or hatred are immediately seen if you walk too close to a working television screen.

You would think our nation is on fire if you follow only the sensationalism on social media or the news. You would think America is on the verge of civil war as radicals with masks over their faces beat up bystanders on the streets and white-supremacists drive their cars into crowds.

But the hurricane — while bringing with it destruction and death — brought out the truth about this nation. We are not the divided mess you’re regularly shown. We’re still a united, giving, and selfless people.
When it comes to the best and the worst, the best still wins...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

IRS Endgame

Things may finally be coming to a head:
Although the arrogance of the IRS is breathtaking, it looks like they may have more than they can handle with Judge Walton. With the agency already proving that it tried to hide documents directly related to a FOIA request, how much nonsense will Walton put up with? He better have a low tolerance for word games and shenanigans by the IRS.

More names means more witnesses to be deposed under oath. Perhaps some promises of immunity are in order so that the truth can be wrung out of an agency that has been used to target the political opponents of a president and materially affect the ability of conservative groups to exercise their rights.
The truth will finally out?

Swamp Rats

Being part of the Swamp means never having to keep your word:
The opportunity arose for the vote to repeal Obamacare, and after huffing and puffing, and huffing and puffing some more, the dust settled and socialized health care remains the law of the land, perhaps permanently.

The opportunity arose for tax reform, to enact the cuts America desperately needs. It was never a matter of if, it was a matter of how much. It is now mid-August and nothing, absolutely nothing has been accomplished — even attempted!

And now we face the final test: the debt ceiling. Will we or won’t we stop the spending madness? Will the Republicans enact the cuts they’ve promised, or will they now be the ones to kick the can, piling evermore trillions of dollars of debt on their own grandchildren?

By every indication that’s precisely what they plan to do. The signal has come from President Trump, from Speaker Ryan, and from Majority Leader McConnell. The debt ceiling will be raised and no fiscal sanity will be restored.

There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Put them together. They are the swamp.
The Swamp is all...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Not A Drop To Tax

Paying for the privilege of drinking?
Senate Bill 623, backed by a strange-bedfellows coalition of the agricultural lobby and environmental groups but opposed by water districts, would generate $2 billion over the next 15 years to clean up contaminated groundwater and improve faulty water systems and wells.

“My message is short and direct: We are not Flint, Michigan,” co-author Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said at a Wednesday rally outside the Capitol, where demonstrators held signs reading “Clean water is not a luxury” and “Water is a human right.”

Ironically, many Californians are more aware of the crisis in Flint — where state and local officials in 2015 told residents about lead contamination in the drinking water, after claiming it was safe to drink — than about the water problems in their home state, said the measure’s main author, Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey. He called this “a pivotal time in our state’s history to do the right thing.”

SB 623 has been moving through the Legislature for months, but was amended Monday to include the tax on water for both homes and businesses. It also imposes taxes on farms and dairies, roughly $30 million annually, to address some of the contamination caused by fertilizers and other chemicals. Because it includes new taxes, the proposal will need a two-thirds vote in each house to pass, which supporters concede will be a battle.
Let them drink taxes?

Search Engines

While you weren't looking, Congress did it again:
The proposal for a safety commission to act as a wing of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority may sound logical, when its power includes thing such as the ability to “Adopt, revise, and distribute a written State Safety Oversight Program” and to “Review, approve, oversee, and enforce the adoption and implementation of WMATA’s Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan.”

However, there is one major red flag buried within the text of the bill that stems from the list of “powers” given to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, and it violates one of the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution.

“In performing its duties, the Commission, through its Board or designated employees or agents, may:Enter upon the WMATA Rail System and, upon reasonable notice and a finding by the chief executive officer that a need exists, upon any lands, waters, and premises adjacent to the WMATA Rail System, including, without limitation, property owned or occupied by the federal government, for the purpose of making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing as the Commission may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this MSC Compact, and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass.”

The text gives the Commission the authority to enter property near the Metro Rail System “without limitation” and without a warrant, for the purpose of “making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing.”
What could go wrong?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Super Happy Fun Land

Come for the Communism:
Reuters reported that each guest traveling to the communist country must first be “checked” and will be accompanied by North Korean minders to ensure “adequate behavior of the tourist and guarantee his safety.”

Pictures of military instillations are banned and talking to North Korean citizens for lengthy periods of time is “not recommended.”

According to Reuters, North Korea is attempting to open up a tourism industry due to a dire financial situation. During weeks of trading threats with the U.S. over North Korea’s continued development of nuclear missiles, Washington passed sanctions on North Korea that drove the country’s economy further into crisis.

Reuters reported that the most expensive tour is a 15-day “full immersion in the culture of North Korea” that will cost 118,090 rubles ($1,997). Guests will be taken to a farm, a mineral water factory, and a Buddhist temple. Tourists will also be taken on a walk through the mountains and allowed to try North Korean dishes.
In North Korea, tour takes you...

Don't Misgender Me

Children beware-the gender police are watching you:
“There was a little girl who had been in class with the little boy all last year,” England explained to the Times. “They’re in different classes now, but she saw him on the playground yesterday and called him by his name. The little girl was told ‘You can’t do that, his name is this name,’ and ‘You need to call him a ‘her.'”

After the little girl misgendered her school mate, she reportedly was called to the principal’s office for discussion.

England told the newspaper that she contacted the girl’s parents and said that they were “outraged” over the incident.

Chris Plante, who is policy director for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, defended the young girl.

“Imagine how difficult it is for that first-grader to try to understand that the person that she knew as a boy all last year is suddenly a girl,” Plante said. “And to hold her to account for that, to send her to the principal’s office because she honestly doesn’t understand what this means? It’s mind-boggling.”
Not by today's educational standards...

Gorka Gone

Sebastian Gorka is out:
Gorka’s letter expressed unhappiness with the direction the Trump administration’s foreign policy has taken, as signaled by the president’s recent speech on Afghanistan:

“Regrettably, outside of yourself, the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again,’ have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months. This was made patently obvious as I read the text of your speech on Afghanistan this week…

“The fact that those who drafted and approved the speech removed any mention of Radical Islam or radical Islamic terrorism proves that a crucial element of your presidential campaign has been lost…

“Just as worrying, when discussing our future actions in the region, the speech listed operational objectives without ever defining the strategic victory conditions we are fighting for. This omission should seriously disturb any national security professional, and any American who is unsatisfied with the last 16 years of disastrous policy decisions which have led to thousands of Americans killed and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent in ways that have not brought security or victory.”

During his time in the Trump administration, Gorka focused on issues such as countering the Muslim Brotherhood, the crisis in Qatar, supporting efforts to draft a new long-term national security strategy, and combating China’s economic warfare.
Will the last member of Trump's original team please turn out the lights?

Ditching The Grade

No more grades? “The grading system is pretty broken,” says Kate Reeser, Director at San Domenico School in San Anselmo. She and other adm...