Sunday, April 30, 2017

Former President Moneybags

Whatever happened to Obama, man of the people?
In a 60 “Minutes” interview in 2009, Obama famously said: “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.”

But come September, Obama will accept a $400,000 check from Cantor Fitzgerald for a one hour keynote speech.

And while the decision breaks with years of rhetoric from the former Democratic president, it also breaks with what Obama said just prior to leaving the White House.

In a “60 Minutes” interview just days prior to leaving office in January, “60 Minutes” host Steve Kroft asked Obama: “You’re not going to go to Wall Street, make a lot of money?”

“I am not going to Wall Street,” Obama replied. “The amount of time that I’ll be investing in issues is going to be high. But it’ll be necessarily in a different capacity.”
Not so much now, it seems...

Fly The Hungry Skies

In North Korea, airline food eats you:
Described by the Los Angeles Times “as always served cold, and always on a paper doily,” the Koryo burger is composed of a bun, “a piece of unidentified meat, a slice of processed cheese, a dash of shredded cabbage or a lonely lettuce leaf, and a dollop of sweet, brown sauce.”

No one is quite sure what the meat in the burger is. Some speculate it’s pork, others say beef. Most are too scared to find out.

Bloomberg reported in February 2016 the Koryo burger could soon be phased out. North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, has said he wants tourism in the extremely isolated nation to skyrocket to 20 million per year by 2020, infusing the nation with much-needed foreign cash. As part of those efforts, North Korea began giving a facelift to Air Koryo, which has historically been ranked the worst airline in the world.
So there's something that Delta can be thankful for...

Hungry For What?

Liberals at Yale aren't happy that they got trolled over their "hunger strike" by the opposition:
Later reports indicated that the students left for themselves a gigantic loophole in their “hunger strike”: If one of the participants gets hungry or sick, someone else can come and switch places with the “starving” protester. A former Yale student, Dimitri Halikias, posted a pamphlet about the strike on Twitter and acknowledged the hunger strike is really only “symbolic.” Halikias, who said the strike is “still inspirational” despite the loophole, later deleted the tweet from his account.

Conservatives across the country had a lot of fun with the Yale students’ “inspirational” attempt to force the university to provide better union benefits, but the College Republicans at the prestigious institution seemed to enjoy the absurdity of the spectacle more than the rest. On Friday, the GOP student group held a barbeque in close proximity to the hunger strike to mark the ridiculous event.

Needless to say, lots of liberals were outraged by the move. For instance, Vice politics writer Eve Peyser said the move was “gross” and “cruel.” Far-left editor at ThinkProgress Ian Millhiser called the College Republicans “self-entitled pricks.”

“Turns out the Yale College Republicans are exactly the kind of self-entitled pricks you would expect them to be,” Millhiser wrote on Twitter, along with a link to a scathing article about the barbeque.
One could say the same thing about the people who organized the so-called strike...

Skipper Sinks ESPN

Who killed ESPN?
ESPN’s management and apologists consistently claim that the network’s financial troubles have nothing to do with its leftward lurch, insisting that subscriber cord-cutting isn’t ideological. But a number of surveys in recent years have clearly debunked this claim as a vast majority of its viewers expressed their displeasure with the politicization of sports programming. ESPN’s bottom line is being hurt by lower ratings and reduced advertising revenue as sports fans abandon its non-live sports shows in massive numbers.

Ticking off your customer base is never a good idea, whatever business you are in.

So Skipper decided to make a move that was purely window dressing to placate parent company Disney’s antsy shareholders. He shed some of ESPN’s most valuable assets – journalists who actually do their jobs by reporting on sports, with the vast majority of them never wading into politics in any shape or form. This only serves to make a sports fan want to watch ESPN’s programming or visit its website even less.
Going down with the ship isn't what viewers want...

Fakers On Defense

fake news tries to defend itself:
Mason began by discussing the accomplishments of the media in recent months and their interaction with President Trump, saying, “We have worked very hard to build a constructive relationship with his [President Trump’s] press team. There are clear dividends from those efforts. The press is still in the White House briefing room, and we are still on Air Force One.”

Mason continued:

In fact, press access under President Trump has been very good. With all of the tension in the relationship, that aspect is often overlooked. We have had several press conferences, repeated opportunities to see and report on the president’s meetings, and with at least one notable and lamentable exception, good access to briefings with press staff and senior administration officials. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the rhetoric that has been employed by the president about who we are and what we do. Freedom of the press is a building block of our democracy. Undermining that by seeking to delegitimize journalists is dangerous to a healthy republic.

“It is our job to report on facts and to hold leaders accountable. That is who we are. We are not fake news.” said Mason, “We are not failing news organizations and we are not the enemy of the American people.”
Yeah, well, about the failing part...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sanders Territory

Bernie Sanders' wife may be in trouble:
An extremely ambitious expansion and fundraising effort spearheaded by Jane Sanders ended up bankrupting the tiny, private and now-defunct school in Burlington, Vermont. It closed its doors — suddenly and permanently — in 2016.

Emails obtained through an open records request by The Vermont Journalism Trust reveal that FBI agents and the US Attorney’s Office in Vermont have been analyzing Burlington College records for over a year. Also, the feds have subpoenaed at least one former Burlington College employee.

That employee, former Burlington College dean of operations Coralee Holm, told The Vermont Journalism Trust that FBI agents questioned her about the fundraising activities related to the expansion.

Jane Sanders, who was the president of tiny Burlington College from 2004 until 2011, masterminded the expansion plan, which would have more than doubled the enrollment of the school (from about 200 full-time students to over 400). The plan required the college take on $10 million in debt to finance the purchase of an expansive new campus.
Shady land deals seem to be a Democratic thing...

Grand Old Party Poopers

What, exactly, have Republicans done under Trump?
A restive right flank willing to defy party leaders dealt him a humiliating setback on health care last month. That called into question whether Republicans will ever make good on their longstanding promise of repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. If they can't, they will likely also struggle to produce the sweeping tax legislation and massive infrastructure investments that Trump promised.

The White House is pushing House GOP leaders to try again on health care, and there's been recent progress as the conservative House Freedom Caucus endorsed the latest version of the bill. But leaders are struggling to round up support from more moderate Republicans, and it's uncertain when or if the legislation will come to a vote.

Meanwhile, the government is operating under a one-week, stopgap spending bill to avert a shutdown on Saturday, which coincides with Trump's 100th day in office. Lawmakers needed more time to finish their sweeping $1 trillion legislation for the remainder of the 2017 budget year, work that is Congress' most basic function.

The White House intervened in the negotiations late in the game to make demands on issues including the U.S.-Mexico border wall - subsequently dropped. That was an intervention even some Republicans said was not productive.

With little in the way of actual results so far, some Republicans have begun to fret openly about their thin record of accomplishments, and sound alarms about a backlash from voters if the GOP doesn't begin to produce.
Remember why you got elected, guys...

The Turkey Game

So Turkey has apparently figured out who its real enemies are:
Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said it had implemented the ban against online encyclopedia Wikipedia.org with an administrative order.

Turkish state media said the ban was imposed because Wikipedia had failed to remove content promoting terror and accusing Turkey of cooperation with various terror groups.

There was no indication when the ban might be removed, with a formal court order expected to follow in the coming days.
....

In a decree issued late Saturday evening, Turkey also banned hugely popular television dating shows, a move that been mooted for months by the government.

"In radio and television broadcasting services, such programmes in which people are introduced to find a friend.... cannot be permitted," said the text of the decree.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in March that the ban was in the pipeline, arguing the shows do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs.

"There are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity," Kurtulmus said at the time.
What would Chuck Woolery have done?

Opinion Hit Squad

Do not challenge the orthodoxy:
As a noted “never Trumper” and climate skeptic, he has seen his fair share of hate mail and Twitter trolls over the past year-and-a-half — but nothing like what he’s endured since his article was posted, he says.

“After 20 months of being harangued by bullying Trump supporters, I’m reminded that the nasty left is no different. Perhaps worse,” Stephens tweeted Friday afternoon, as the hateful messages kept rolling in.

“Go eat dog d—s,” fumed one Twitter user.

“When is the Times going to get rid of you?” another asked.

Stephens even managed to tick off fellow journalists.

“You’re a s–thead. a crybaby lil f–kin weenie. a massive twat too,” tweeted Libby Watson, staff writer at Gizmodo.

“I’m gonna lose my mind,” seethed Eve Peyser, politics writer at Vice.

“The ideas ppl like @BretStephensNYT espouse are violently hateful & should not be given a platform by @NYTimes,” she said.
How dare he express his own opinion! What does he think this is, a free country?

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Free Web

If it ain't broke:
During a speech at the Newseum on Wednesday, Pai said he plans to roll back the net-neutrality regulations and to restore the light-touch regulatory system established by President Bill Clinton and Congressional Republicans by the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Net neutrality passed under former Democrat Tom Wheeler’s FCC in 2010. The rule, known as the Open Internet Order, reclassified the internet as a public monopoly. Critics chided the rule, stating that it would diminish the freedom of the internet. Proponents argue that the regulations prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against content providers.

Chairman Pai said during his speech that the internet prospered before net neutrality was enacted. Pai said, “The internet is the greatest free market success in American history.”
Yes, so why doesn't the government just leave it alone entirely?

Doctor No Good

The doctor is out of luck:
Prosecutors contended that the 62-year-old Melgen stole up to $105 million from the federal insurance program between 2008 and 2013, by giving patients treatments and tests that couldn't help them.

Melgen's attorneys argued that any billing issues were simply mistakes.

Melgen and Menendez face a joint trial in the fall in New Jersey on charges the doctor bribed the senator to get help on a variety of issues.

Steven Sandberg, a spokesman for the senior U.S. Senator for New Jersey, referred an NJ Advance Media reporters' inquiry to a statement released earlier in the day by Menendez's attorney, Abbe David Lowell.

"I have spoken to Sen. Menendez and he is saddened for his long-time friend and is thinking of his family on this difficult day," wrote Lowell.
You're on your own, buddy...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Return Of The Book

Who says print is dead?
It is the second year running that sales of consumer ebooks – the biggest segment of the £538m ebook market, which fell 3% last year – have slumped as commuters, holidaymakers and leisure readers shelve digital editions in favour of good old fashioned print novels.

“I wouldn’t say that the ebook dream is over but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens,” says Stephen Lotinga, chief exeutive of the Publishers Association, which published its annual yearbook on Thursday.

“There is generally a sense that people are now getting screen tiredness, or fatigue, from so many devices being used, watched or looked at in their week. [Printed] books provide an opportunity to step away from that.”
Time to pick up a good book again?

Russians, Russians Nowhere

Is this the final chapter on the Russian collusion claims?
Anchor Chris Cuomo asked Schiff, “No proof, Peter King says. I’ve seen no proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Carter Page says the allegations are laughable. What do you say?”

Schiff answered, “Well, Carter Page is a person of interest to the committee, and I think, probably likely to come before the committee, so I don’t want to comment on anything he’s had to say in particular. But I do think that we need to get to the bottom of these allegations of collusion or coordination. I have to disagree with my colleague in terms of whether there is any evidence of collusion. I believe that there is. But nonetheless, this is something that we need to investigate. I think there was a reason why the FBI began its investigation, and why it continues that investigation. I don’t think it’s something the FBI does without any basis. But that’s about as much as I can say without going into particulars. I will say this, I think it would be deeply irresponsible of us not to follow the facts wherever they lead, to do it objectively and not to predetermine a conclusion. But there’s certainly, as we have seen from many of the public reports, ample reason to do this investigation.”
Except for maybe actual evidence that anything happened...

The Hunger Strike Games

You're not yourself when you're on strike:
“Yale is saying that we have to wait, that bargaining would be too premature. They’re saying that because they want to game the legal system, file motion after motion,” Local 33 Chairman Aaron Greenberg told the Yale Daily News. “We’re saying, ‘OK, we’ll wait, but we’re going to wait without eating.’”

As it turns out, “wait without eating” carries some pretty attractive stipulations.

See, Greenberg told the paper that he and his fellow “hunger strike” participants not only got a checkup from local medical professionals Wednesday afternoon — but also they’ll switch places with other union members if their health goes south.
Any takers?

Four Poems And A Network's Funeral

Poetry isn't their thing:
DaMaris Hill’s poem “Revolution” had led the April 25 ESPNW.com feature “Five Poets on the New Feminism,” which was produced “in honor of National Poetry month…to reflect on resistance, redefining feminism and movement,” according to a site description. But Hill’s poem opened with the dedication “(for Assata Shakur),” honoring the one-time Black Liberation Army member who has been hiding out in Cuba to avoid finishing a prison term for her murder rap.

“There was an oversight in the editorial process for selecting the poems for the ‘Five Poets on the New Feminism’ feature on espnW,” a spokesperson told Fox News in an email. “Dr. DaMaris Hill is a respected professor and poet, who submitted this poem based upon her personal feelings toward Assata Shakur. While the editors welcomed a contribution from a notable writer and chose it as a reflection of this one poet’s experience, upon further review we have decided it is not an appropriate selection for our site and have removed the piece from the feature.”

Later Thursday, the title of the feature had been changed to “Four Poets on the New Feminism,” Hill’s poem was gone and an editor’s note at the bottom of the page informed readers of the changes.
Remember when they used to be about sports?

Circuit Breakers

Getting rid of the 9th circus:
Republicans have long complained that the 9th Circuit is not only liberal-leaning but far too big – covering a sprawling amount of territory.

GOP Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona introduced legislation earlier this year to carve six states out of the court circuit and create a brand new 12th Circuit.

If they succeed, only California, Oregon, Hawaii and two island districts would remain in the 9th.

Under Flake’s bill, the new circuit would cover Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona and Alaska.

Congress created the court in 1891. At the time, the area was sparsely inhabited – only 4 percent of the U.S. population lived in the area compared to today’s 20 percent.

In 1998, Congress appointed a commission to re-examine the federal appeals courts’ structure. The commission ultimately recommended against splitting the 9th Circuit.

But carving up the large circuit isn’t out of the realm of possibility. In 1929, Congress split the 8th Circuit to accommodate a population boom and increased caseloads.
is it time once again to break out the carving knives?

The California Cure?

Single payer for California?
The bill, SB 562, would establish a publicly run healthcare plan that would cover everyone living in California, including those without legal immigration status. The proposal would drastically reduce the role of insurance companies: The state would pay for all medical expenses, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency services, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care.

The measure says the program would be funded by "broad-based revenue," but does not specify where that money would come from.

"How can we go forward with this bill without a fiscal analysis, a detailed financing plan?" asked Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove).

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), a coauthor of the bill, said a detailed financial study would be completed in May, before the bill is heard in the Appropriations Committee, a key fiscal panel.

"Sen. [Toni] Atkins and I are not just going to do this on a whim," Lara said, referring to his coauthor, a Democrat from San Diego. "We want to make sure it's sustainable."
So what happens when it turns out that it isn't?

Muddied Waters

Maxine Waters has another meltdown:

Cashing In, Checking Out

Liberals are shocked by Obama's Wall Street payday:
Democratic Party leaders and grass roots activists alike are at a loss to explain how the onetime champion of the 99 percent could cash in with a September address at a health care conference run by investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

“Spiritual leader of the people’s #Resistance cashes in with $400k speech to Wall Street bankers,” read one tweet.

“Obama’s $400,000 Wall Street speech will cost @TheDemocrats much more than that," read another. "It reinforces everything progressives hate about Democrats.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said she “was troubled by that,” when asked her opinion on Sirius XM’s “Alter Family Politics” radio show this morning. But she held back from criticizing the president directly while referring repeatedly to her new book, “This Fight is Our Fight,” in which she outlines her concerns about big money’s influence on American politics.

“One of the things I talk about in the book is the influence of money. It’s a snake that slithers through Washington,” Warren said.
The former head snake seems to enjoy his...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Taxes Chainsaw Massacre

It's the Trump tax plan:
He wants to replace the seven income tax brackets with three new ones, cut the corporate tax rate by more than 50 percent, abolish the alternative-minimum tax and estate tax, and create new incentives to simplify filing returns.

But the White House stopped short of answering key questions that could decide the plan’s fate. For example, Trump administration officials didn’t address how much the plan would reduce federal revenue or grow the debt. They also didn’t specify what income levels would trigger the new system for paying individual income taxes.

The goal, White House officials said, was to cut taxes so much and so fast that it led to immediate economic growth, creating more jobs and producing trillions of dollars in new revenue and wealth over the next decade.
Release the economic hounds?

The Year Free Speech Died

Remember when liberals used to believe in free speech?
Ms. Coulter, the acid-penned conservative writer, canceled a planned appearance on Thursday after the political organizations that invited her rescinded their support over fears of violence. “It’s a sad day for free speech,” she said.

But across the country, conservatives like her are eagerly throwing themselves into volatile situations like the one in Berkeley, emboldened by a backlash over what many Americans see as excessive political correctness, a president who has gleefully taken up their fight, and liberals they accuse of trying to censor any idea they disagree with.

The situation adds up to a striking reversal in the culture wars, with the left now often demanding that offensive content be excised from public discourse and those who promote it boycotted and shunned.
You reap what you sow, lefties...

Bill Nye The Gender Guy

So where's the science?
Sure enough, just over 5 minutes into the first episode, viewers are treated to an explanation of how climate change will kill the pandas.

But it’s episode nine of Shill Nye the Sellout Guy Bill Nye the Science Guy’s where the former kid’s TV hero really crosses the line from science to political quackery. This is the episode where Bill Nye jumps off the deep end into the leftist view on gender, an empirically bankrupt position only defended by postmodernists and social theorists. (In other words, college educators and their dogmatic student followers).

The episode can best be summed up by the closing segment of the show, which features an internet meme singing a song about her vagina.
What does this have to do with climate change? I suppose viewers need to use their imaginations on this one...

NAFTA, RIP?

No more NAFTA?
A draft order has been submitted for the final stages of review and could be unveiled late this week or early next week, the officials said. The effort, which still could change in the coming days as more officials weigh in, would indicate the administration’s intent to withdraw from the sweeping pact by triggering the timeline set forth in the deal.

The approach appears designed to extract better terms with Canada and Mexico. President Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to renegotiate NAFTA, a trade deal signed in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton that removes tariffs and allows for the free flow of goods and services between the three countries in North America. Trump in recent weeks has stepped up his rhetoric vowing to terminate the agreement altogether.
Fair trade over free trade?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Trade Offs

Do deficits really matter?
Budget deficits arise when the federal government issues bonds to investors instead of balancing all of its spending with taxes and fees on households and businesses. They can be increased when tax cuts reduce revenue and aren’t offset with spending cuts. They fall when the government increases the amount of money taxed relative to spending, which reduces the share of the budget funded by bond-investors.

Since Treasuries are dollar denominated, there is no risk that the United States government will not be able to repay its debt, as the government can always pay debt issued in the currency it controls. The only risk to the economy that deficits create is higher inflation. Despite several years of historically high deficits, all indicators say that inflation will remain quite low for decades to come.

During a meeting inside the Oval Office last week, President Donald Trump said that he wants massive tax cuts, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. He ordered them to prepare a plan to slash the corporate tax rate to 15%, prioritizing tax cuts over attempts not to increase the deficit, according to “a person familiar with the directive” who spoke with WSJ.
Debt does matter, and should be avoided, as anyone who's ever borrowed knows...

Left Hits

Sean Hannity isn't backing down:
I've worked for radio for 30 years and I've been at the Fox News Channel for 21 of those. I’ve endured countless attempts to smear, slander and besmirch me. Every second I am on the air, there are people out there recording and monitoring every word I utter in the hope that I say something they can twist, distort and use against me. They want to destroy my reputation and silence my conservative voice.

These tactics, right out of Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" playbook, have gotten worse in the age of President Trump. It’s no secret that I support the president. And a lot of folks know I have a pretty thick skin. But now it has gone too far.

I can no longer remain silent and allow the alt-radical left's slander against me slide. From this point on, if any person, group, organization or media outlet lies about me or besmirches my character, I'm going to call them out. And I have hired a team of some of the nation’s best attorneys to help me do it.
Don't make him angry...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Some Media Are More Equal Than Others

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

Le Sore Loser

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

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

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

Forward Rail Pass

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

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

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


There has not been rail service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas since Amtrak abandoned the line in the late 1990s. A typical drive between the two cities takes at least four hours through the high desert in ideal conditions. But on a busy weekend, that 280-mile journey can easily take up to seven hours each way.

A viable high-speed rail can eliminate a lot of that congestion on the Interstate 15, deliver millions of travelers within three hours each way, and boost the already booming tourism for Sin City.
And it would show how not to create a boondoggle...

Flotation Device

Doesn't Delta have enough problems?

Working Class Guardian?

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

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

But Pratt was met with backlash almost immediately after Men’s Fitness published his comments.
....

Pratt responded on Twitter to the Marie Claire piece, writing: “That was actually a pretty stupid thing to say. I’ll own that. There’s a ton of movies about blue-collar America.”
For every "flyover country" movie they make, they make a dozen others that have nothing to do with flyover country. Sounds about right for people who don't know any actual blue collar people.

Here's Not Looking At You

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

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

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Not Their Party

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

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

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

Le Election

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Political Climate Science

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

The "March for Science" started as a form of opposition to President Donald Trump, whom many have accused of launching a "war on science." The march's original statement declared "certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives" such as "the Earth is becoming warmer due to human action," and "the diversity of life arose by evolution."
....

"This is an attempt now to silence and chill speech through the threat of litigation and prosecution," Lewis explained. He warned that this kind of politicizing of science delegitimizes the public view of science as neutral and focused on truth rather than an agenda.

"No government agency, once it gets on this gravy train, wants the science to find out that the problem is not as alarming as it was thought to be," he explained.
It's the science of big money for fake research...

The Battle Of Berkeley

Bill Maher defends a fellow free speech advocate:

Blue Versus Blue

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Street Fighters Against Free Speech

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

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

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

Kyle Shideler, director of the Threat Information Office at the Washington D.C.-based think tank Center for Security Policy, said Antifa proudly trace its roots back to Antifaschistische Aktion, the street fighting wing of the German Communist party in the 1920s and 1930s.”
Fascism and Communism often went hand in hand in those days, and still do...

Wiki Bust

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

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

Russian Dressing

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

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

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

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

The Clinton camp settled on a two-pronged plan — pushing the press to cover how “Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign, overshadowed by the contents of stolen e-mails and Hillary’s own private-server imbroglio,” while “hammering the media for focusing so intently on the investigation into her e-mail, which had created a cloud over her candidacy,” the authors wrote.
When you lose, lie early about why...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Small Spaces And Smaller Minds

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

[...]

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

Fraud For Fun And Profit

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

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

And that time is money.

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

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

“This is unfortunately typical of information technology modernization projects throughout the federal government,” Tom Schatz, president of the CAGW, told Fox News. “The unfortunate result is that many of its projects are behind schedule, the technology is outdated, and they usually have large cost overruns.”
Or, as the government calls it, business as usual...

Vouching For Vouchers

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

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

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

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

Repeal Deal Two

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

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

Essential Health Benefits require that health insurance plans must cover certain services such as doctors’ services, inpatient or outpatient hospital care, prescription drugs, pregnancy, childbirth, and mental health.
The essentials of reform, or saving the status quo?

Censorship By Choice

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bill's Last Hurrah

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

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

Their Losing Season

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

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

After that, it’ll be a further five months before the New Jersey and Virginia elections for governor, leaving some strategists and lawmakers wondering how to keep the furious rank-and-file voters engaged in fueling and funding the party’s comeback — especially given the sky-high expectations that surrounded Ossoff’s ultimately unsuccessful run at the 50-percent threshold that was necessary to win the seat outright.
A low bar can still be a hurdle...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Not Their Boss

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

Goodbye Dolly

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

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

Stefan Hessel, a law student who helped formulate the FNA’s legal opinion to ban the doll, told the Wall Street Journal that “it’s pretty bad bringing a doll on the market anybody in a 30-feet radius can connect to… A regular Bluetooth loudspeaker is better protected.”
No dolls for you...

Eager To Believe

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

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

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

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

A Taxing Education

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

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

“Some of the questions were easy, but others I wouldn’t expect people to know,” says Ian Gillespie, founder of IGG Software and creator of iBank, an online personal finance manager. “American tax law is extremely complicated and a lot of these feel like they could be trick questions.”
As perhaps they were designed to be...

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Internet Rules?

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

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

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

During her tenure as the chairwoman of the FEC, Ravel previously called for right-leaning websites like the Drudge Report to be “regulated,” and blamed hostile responses towards her proposals on “misogyny.” She claimed it was within the purview of the Federal Election Commission to oversee internet political activities, including the airing of political viewpoints.
Even censoring "fake news" can have real consequences for everyone else...

Hurry Up And Wait For Reform

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

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

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

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

Trump has signaled he wants to streamline the income tax system, cut federal regulations, reduce corporate income tax and add new taxes to prod companies to keep or move production to the United States.
Don't make promises you can't keep right away...

The Bad Boss Defense Fund

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

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

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

SEA’s website says it “proposed and secured legislation” requiring taxpayers to pay for the insurance in 1996. As a result, “Agencies are required to reimburse executives, managers and supervisors for up to one-half the cost of their liability and legal defense insurance,” it says. “SEA endorses Federal Employee Defense Services.”
It's for our own good...

Looking At Leakers

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

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

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

Sunday, April 16, 2017

How To Elect A Dictator

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

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

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

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

Grid Off The Green

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

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

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

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

Face Paper

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

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

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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Blue Haven

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the DCCC, which declined to comment for this story, is already sending staffers to Southern California to establish a base camp for 2018 House races in the state and in Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
In other words, the rest of you don't matter...

Nothingburger Weekend

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

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

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

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

"Their whole message is they want to see the president's tax returns. I care far more about his policy than his tax returns," Trevor Dierdorff, El Paso County Republican Party chairman, told the Colorado Springs Gazette.
If it weren't for windmills, they'd have no cause at all...

The Art Of Undoing The Deal

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

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

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

Since taking office, Trump has revoked a range of environmental legislation—including Barack Obama’s climate orders—with a plan to focus on energy independence and revitalize the coal industry. In his first White House budget, Trump also proposed a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s overall budget.
Real change is different than climate "change..."

Spring Cleaning

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

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

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

Change For Climate Change

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

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

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

Free Speech Hurts

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

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

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

As for speakers and student who do not conform to what the paper deems acceptable speech, the editorial says violence may be justified. “(I)f people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted,” the editorial states.
Hostility can cut both ways, especially when it comes to lawsuits...

Reds Versus Reds

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

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

The result of this relationship between the SI and the allegedly anti-socialist Venezuelan opposition has been a stunted attempt at restoring fundamental rights and freedoms. With its undue respect to the constitution of Venezuela – implemented by Hugo Chávez in 1999 – and failed dialogue with Maduro, the MUD has been the target of increasing frustration on the part of opposition leaders unaffiliated to the SI, like the aforementioned Capriles and legislator María Corina Machado. This socialist infiltration has not only paralyzed the opposition but threatens to deform the future of a Venezuela without Maduro into something that looks quite a bit like the country’s present and recent past.
You can't have it both ways...

Wasting Time

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

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

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fake Free Speech

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

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

Ravel claimed that the use of Facebook and other social media platforms by political campaigns is a problem. “I’ve talked to a lot of campaign consultants and they buy some groups in Holland or in Russia who figure out who the target audience might be and then they go through circuitous mechanisms to put ads or fake news or whatever it is on Facebook.”
Well, we can't have politicians lying on the Web like they do on TV, can we?

European Staycation

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

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

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

Le Panic

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

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

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

They Pay, You Stay?

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

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

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

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

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

Taking Out The Gunman

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

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

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

You Dropped A Bomb On Me

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Weed Whacker

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

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

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

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

Hard Left Hits?

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

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

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

Palmieri, who previously worked in the Barack Obama and Bill Clinton administrations, also argued that reporters are likely to be harder on Democrats in general.
I guess they have a different definition of "tough" than other people...

Order From The Court

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

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

Rolling Stone called the settlement an “amicable resolution.”

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

Going For Broke

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Unfriendly Skies

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

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

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

Does that sound familiar to anyone?

It should, because this is precisely what happens when government interferes in any market, either by forcing prices higher or lower, or mandating businesses offer this or that, to accommodate some other alleged social goal — and then forcing everyone to abide by these rules. The result is economic inefficiency, rising animosity and a growing police state.
In the airline's case, literally...

Big Poverty

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

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

Where are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi and the class warfare warriors on reversing government policies that are stealing money and opportunities for low income and minority families? Do they care about protecting the poor? Or do they care more about protecting big government?
I think it's the latter...

DOE, DOA?

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

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

The American education system needs to evolve to meet 21st century challenges, and this starts at the DOE. Cutting unnecessary regulations would lower tuition costs and make college more affordable. Eliminating wasteful programs like the Community Services Block Grant, an exercise in failure costing taxpayers $715 million per year, would be a good start. This program is so bad even the Obama administration wanted to get rid of it.
So why didn't they?

Target Trail

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

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Zapped

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

Bentley Busted

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

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

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

Resign immediately and leave public life.
Plead guilty to two campaign violations: converting campaign contributions for personal gain and failing to report campaign contributions.
Serve one year of probation.
Perform 100 hours of unpaid community service as a physician.
Repay the $8,912 his campaign spent on the legal fees of former aide Rebekah Mason, whose involvement with Bentley led to the charges against him.
Forfeit all the money in his campaign account, which is currently $36,912. The money will go into state coffers.
In response, the state attorney general's office will not pursue other felonies against Bentley, including those referred for prosecution last week by the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Whether the governor faces jail time on the misdemeanors - which are technically punishable by as much as a year in prison - is left to the judge who will sentence him. It is unlikely he will serve time.
Being governor of Alabama might have been punishment enough (I kid, I kid)

Creative Math

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

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

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

In response, HUD revised the statements and said the “errors” were solely in “presentation” of financial information which had since been corrected. A February letter from HUD’s Chief Financial Officer Courtney B. Timberlake also argued that the corrections “did not represent a change in cash balances, any improper payments, or misallocation of HUD resources.”
Ignore those cooked books...

Two Worlds Are Not Enough

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

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

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

“It’s a huge problem,” said Tom Hollinan, a professor of political communication at the USC Annenberg School. “One of the things that a healthy democracy and a deliberating public need is the ability to participate in a common conversation. They should be able to share news and understand facts in a way that helps them make sense of the world around them and make good decisions.”
But the media won't do that, so is it any surprise that people would turn elsewhere?

Trumped By Success

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

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

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

Last month, 46% of employees said their company was hiring, up from 44% in February, while the percentage who said workers were being let go held at 9%.
Are we tired of winning yet?

Payment By Committee

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

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

As it is, some members of Congress spend at least half their time fundraising to keep their dues paid and campaign coffers full. If you become the chair of a B committee—congratulations—you’re now expected to raise $875,000 a year for the NRCC. Chairing an A committee means you must raise $1.2 million. The higher your role in the House leadership, the higher the price tag.
It costs money to keep the game rigged...

Bitter Hardball

When you've lost Chris Matthews: Without naming names, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” told a crowd at Florida’s Miami Dade College that ...