Sunday, June 25, 2017

Signed And Delivered

Dear media: While you were obsessed with Russia, President Trump was getting stuff done:
The bills include an act to improve weather forecasting, a long-term vision for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and reforms for the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The three pieces of legislation all had bipartisan support.
....

The other bills, while not as consequential, still involve Trump carrying out his agenda. The American Law Enforcement Heroes Act prioritizes giving federal grants to law enforcement agencies that hire veterans. The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act works to reduce the time families of fallen officers have to wait to receive survivor benefits.

Fifteen of the 40 signed bills repeal Obama-era regulations. Examples of these regulations include a rule that made it tougher for states to drug test welfare recipients and a regulation that imposed permitting requirements on mining sites. These bills signed by President Trump utilized the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to nullify any rule or regulation created in the previous administration’s final six months.
Things happen when you aren't paying attention...

Common Core Is Hard

It's the new math:
“It’s a tough test—but not so tough to pass,” the Post reported. “New York high-schoolers who took the Regents Common Core Algebra I exam this month had to earn just 27 of 86 points, or 31.4 percent, to pass.”

“On the Regents grading scale, that gives them a minimum passing score of 65,” the Post reported. “The required number of right answers remains at its lowest level since the exam—which kids must pass to graduate—was introduced three years ago, records show.”

This manipulation of passing grades is “aimed at raising the overall pass rate,” according to the Post.

In August 2014, 31 points, or 36 percent was a passing mark, with last year’s cutoff at 30 points, or 34.9 percent.

“As a result, 72 percent of students statewide passed the exam last year, back to the pre-Common Core level in the 2013-2014 school year,” the Post reported. “The pass rate had plunged to 63 percent in 2014-2015, when the harder exam was launched.”
If you want your failure, you can keep your failure...

Stamped Out

Georgia discovers that work works:
Last month, 7,251 of the estimated 11,779 people receiving food stamps in 21 Georgia counties dropped out of the program—a drop of 62 percent, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The steady decline comes as the state continues to expand its work requirements for food stamps recipients.

The work requirement is active in 24 counties currently, with 60 more counties being added next year. The state’s goal is to include all 159 counties by 2019.

Georgia’s unemployment rate has bounced back to pre-recession levels; however, the decline in the state’s food stamp program has not dropped at the same rate.
Give it time...

The Trump Papers

Pay no attention to the firm behind the files:
Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources says it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump agenda.

“These weren’t mercenaries or hired guns,” a congressional source familiar with the dossier probe said. “These guys had a vested personal and ideological interest in smearing Trump and boosting Hillary’s chances of winning the White House.”

Fusion GPS was on the payroll of an unidentified Democratic ally of Clinton when it hired a long-retired British spy to dig up dirt on Trump. In 2012, Democrats hired Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And in 2015, Democrat ally Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to investigate pro-life activists protesting the abortion group.

More, federal records show a key co-founder and partner in the firm was a Hillary Clinton donor and supporter of her presidential campaign.
Shady is as shady does...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Russia Fatigue

People are tired of it:
The poll, conducted by Harvard-Harris, found that 64% of voters view such investigations as dragging down the country; 56% think that there are more important matters to be focused on, and another 73% fear that the Trump-Russia investigations are distracting Congress from issues that are actually relevant to the American people.

In fact, 62% felt that there wasn't enough evidence to substantiate claims of collusion.

Additionally, 58% of voters don't think Trump committed obstruction of justice for requesting that fired FBI director James Comey go easy on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, although 37% of those voters did feel that Trump's request was "inappropriate." Another 60% felt that Comey should have publicly stated that Trump is not being investigated.
Russian overload can cause apathy...

Big Men Fighting

It's Tom Brady sumo wrestling:

Twilight Of The Guitar Gods

Who killed the electric guitar?
According to the Post, electric guitar sales are down by 500,000 units in the last decade, and the two biggest manufacturers—Fender and Gibson—are both in debt. Back in April, Moody’s downgraded Guitar Center, which is facing $1.6 billion in debt.

One prominent guitar store owner, George Gruhn, who’s sold guitars to Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and Paul McCartney, thinks it has to do with the death of the “guitar hero.”

Of course, there is no dearth of legacy heroes like Clapton, Young, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and B.B. King. But young guitarists who are learning the instrument for the first time don’t have contemporaries to look up to. As Gruhn notes, young guitar players aren’t trying to emulate pop star-guitarists like John Mayer.

It’s also about how the younger generation of musicians is making music—as the impact of all the digital shortcuts and more electronically minded music that kids are streaming or listening to on their mobile devices.
Rock on, if you still can...

Government Property Values

When is a man's home not his castle?
Writing for a 5-3 court, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that state and local officials can combine separate parcels of land in assessing whether local government has effectively seized private property through regulation, requiring compensation. Kennedy’s opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a fiery dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

The case concerned a Wisconsin family called the Murrs, who argued that the government has unconstitutionally taken their land by refusing to allow them to sell it.

“This is an unfortunate decision for the Murrs, and all property owners,” said John Groen, general counsel and vice president of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest group that represented the family. “We are disappointed that the Court did not recognize the fundamental unfairness to the Murrs of having their separate properties combined, simply to avoid the protection of the takings clause.”
What's yours is somebody else's?

Land Of Junk

Illinois goes to the financial scrap yard:
Ratings agencies have been downgrading Illinois' credit rating for years, though they've accelerated the process as the stalemate has dragged on between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly.
The agencies are concerned about Illinois' massive pension debt, as well as a $15 billion backlog of unpaid bills and the drop in revenue that occurred when lawmakers in 2015 allowed a temporary income tax increase to expire.
"In our view, the unrelenting political brinkmanship now poses a threat to the timely payment of the state's core priority payments," S&P stated when it dropped Illinois' rating to one level above junk, which was just after lawmakers adjourned their regular session on May 31 without a deal.
Moody's did the same, stating: "As the regular legislative session elapsed, political barriers to progress appeared to harden, indicating both the severity of the state's challenges and the political difficulty of advocating their solutions."
Nobody wants to pay for their state's mistakes...

Fake News Falls Flat

Fake news is forced to apologize:
Frank, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2012 while at USA Today, had reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee was investigating a “$10-billion Russian investment fund whose chief executive met with a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team four days before Trump’s inauguration.”

In addition to retracting its story, CNN also apologized to Anthony Scaramucci, an adviser to Trump during the presidential campaign and a member of his transition team’s executive committee, who was mentioned in the story as having met Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that the network said is overseen by Vnesheconombank, a state-run bank that is currently under U.S. sanctions.

According to the report, the meeting between Scarmucci and Dmitriev could have included the issue of sanctions being lifted, but a spokesperson for the RDIF told Sputnik News, a state-run Russian news channel, that the fund is not a part of Vnesheconombank.
Facts matter! Even with fake news...

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mail Call

The real scandal begins:
The letters, dated Thursday and signed by the committee’s bipartisan leadership, demand answers and documents related to the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, especially reports that Clinton campaign operatives expressed confidence Lynch would keep that investigation from “going too far.”

The demand comes as the Judiciary Committee investigates the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of ex-FBI Director James Comey, in which the material may take on a new significance.
....

According to a press release from Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the investigatory letters come “as the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey as FBI Director.” Lynch, Renteria, Bernardo, and Open Society Foundations General Counsel Gail Scovell all were sent letters. By July 6, the Judiciary Committee requests copies of the documents and emails in question, and well as answers as to whether they existed in the first place and if the FBI had previously tried to obtain them for the recipients.

The Washington Post claimed that by August of 2016, the FBI was confident the Russian report was a forgery. Wasserman Schultz and Bernardo have denied sending any emails to or even knowing each other. Renteria has similar denials about knowing Attorney General Lynch.

Whatever the doubts about it’s authenticity, however, the document is widely claimed to have played into Comey’s decision to make his public pronouncements about the Clinton email investigation, the putative reason for his firing by President Donald Trump this May. Comey’s concern that the document might be leaked supposedly went far in convincing him he needed to get out of ahead of it and accurately characterize the investigation.
They'd like to hear from all of you...

His Other Half

Bernie Sanders' wife has some problems:
Jane Sanders served as president of Burlington College from 2004 until 2011 and is blamed for leading the school into bankruptcy by falsifying a loan application. Rich Cassidy, a lawyer based in Burlington, Vt., and Larry Robbins, an attorney from Washington, D.C. who previously defended politicians on both sides of the aisle, are representing Jane Sanders against the allegations, a representative for Sen. Sanders confirmed to Politico.

The Daily Caller News Foundation first broke the news of the allegations against Jane Sanders in March 2015. The Department of Justice and the FBI will not confirm the existence of an investigation, but recent interviews conducted by officials from the FBI and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), independently confirmed to TheDCNF, suggest an investigation is ongoing.

The federal probe is allegedly weighing on Sen. Sanders’ decision whether or not to run for president in 2020.
He could at least say "I'm not my wife..."

As The Worms Turn

Loretta Lynch will take the stand:
In a letter to Ms. Lynch, the committee asks her to detail the depths of her involvement in the FBI’s investigation, including whether she ever assured Clinton confidantes that the probe wouldn’t “push too deeply into the matter.”
Fired FBI Director James B. Comey has said publicly that Ms. Lynch tried to shape the way he talked about the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails, and he also hinted at other behavior “which I cannot talk about yet” that made him worried about Ms. Lynch’s ability to make impartial decisions.
Mr. Comey said that was one reason why he took it upon himself to buck Justice Department tradition and reveal his findings about Mrs. Clinton last year.
The probe into Ms. Lynch comes as the Judiciary Committee is already looking at President Trump’s firing of Mr. Comey.
One investigation deserves another...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Master Of Disaster

Because she's got mad political skills, or something:
“History is on our side,” she said, noting that presidents almost always lose House seats in their first midterm election.

“You want me to sing my praises?” she asked defiantly. "Well, I'm a master legislator. I am a strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country, and that is why I'm able to attract the support that I do."

Pelosi added that Republican opponents will always go after the other party’s leaders — “and usually they go after the most effective leader.”
Nancy's the best. She says so!

Obamacare Staggers On

Somehow, it's still alive:
Johnson told NBC News that he “would not call this Obamacare repeal,” adding that “it’s definitely not repealing Obamacare.”

“I’m just saying, I think I have a difficult time thinking, again, I’m an accountant, I’m a business guy, I know it takes time to develop this information in such a complex system, I have a hard time believing I’ll have the information prior to when leadership may want to vote on it,” Johnson reportedly said. “I would certainly say it’s trying to address and fix some of the mess, just some of the mess, created by Obamacare. But that’s my concern, I’m not sure it’s fixing enough.”

Paul, who has criticized the House’s bill, told MSNBC that “it looks like we’re keeping Obamacare” and “not repealing it.” He said he and other Senators would be releasing a more detailed statement on the matter later in afternoon.

President Donald Trump said that “a little negotiation” would be needed but the end product would “be very good.”

“Obamacare is dead and we’re putting a plan out today that is going to be negotiated,” Trump reportedly said.
But why would you negotiate over a dead body?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hacked By Their Own Design

You can't help people who want to be hacked:
In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Johnson also said that the DNC, much to his “disappointment,” did not cooperate in any way with DHS to respond to the hacks.

Johnson said that he first became aware of intrusions into DNC systems sometime last year, several months after the FBI had learned of the breach.

He testified that hacks in 2015 on the Office of Personnel Management spurred him to press his staff “to know whether DHS was sufficiently proactive, and on the scene helping the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities,” according to prepared remarks he submitted to the committee.

“I was anxious to know whether our folks were in there. The response I got was FBI had spoken to them, they don’t want our help, they have CrowdStrike,” Johnson testified, referring to the cybersecurity firm that investigated the Russian hacks on behalf of the DNC.

“And that was the answer I got after I asked the question a number of times over the progression of time.”
The fault, dear Democrats, lies not in the hackers, but yourselves...

A Fool And Their Money

Now he tells us:
In an interview Tuesday, NPR’s Rachel Martin asked Ossoff whether or not the amount of money spent during the campaigns — more than $56 million between both candidates’ campaigns and their supporters — disturbed him.

“The role of money in politics is a major problem and particularly the role of unchecked anonymous money,” Ossoff replied. “There have been super PACs in Washington who have been putting up tens of millions of dollars of attack ads on air for months now. When you have that kind of an environment, it’s necessary to raise the resources to fight back.”

Ossoff’s campaign raised at least $24 million, with 65 percent of the funds coming from small donations of $200 or less, according to OpenSecrets.org. He also received support from many Hollywood celebrities, including Samuel L. Jackson, Chelsea Handler, and George Takei, who led their fans and followers in supporting and donating Ossoff’s.

According to the New York Times, most of Ossoff’s itemized contributions came from large Democratic states, with just 14 percent coming from within Georgia. Handel’s in-state itemized fundraising was at 56 percent.
Will the real reformer please stand up?

The Queen Is Dead?

No more for Nancy?
Some Democrats want to replace Pelosi atop their caucus, as they have since last November’s poor showing at the polls; they say there is no way to get back in the majority with her as their leader. And others who backed her in last year’s leadership challenge have now flipped their stance.

“I think you’d have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top,” said Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), who supported Pelosi in her last leadership race. “Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that Ossoff lost. But she certainly is one of the reasons.”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), who backed a challenge to Pelosi last year, said the results of the Ossoff race further underscore that Pelosi should let someone else take the reins.

“There comes a time when every leader has to say, ‘For the good of the order and for the betterment of the party, it’s time for me to step aside.’ And I wish that that would happen right now,” Rice said in an interview. “This is not a personal thing. I want to get back in the majority.”
It'll take more than a name change to do that...

Team Players

Turnabout is fair play:
Under sworn questioning, Comey has veered off the topic of President Trump and Russia and revealed several damning incidents in which his predecessor’s administration politically interfered in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. And now the Senate will investigate Team Obama for obstruction of justice.

Specifically, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced last week it will hold hearings to “examine then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s involvement in the Clinton email server investigation.”

The findings of the powerful panel, which has oversight of the Justice Department and FBI, could lead to a separate criminal investigation and the naming of another special counsel — exactly what Trump needs to distract attention from his growing legal woes.
Special counsels for everyone!

Who Killed Journalism?

RIP real news:
Paglia called what she said the Democratic Party had done to journalism “absolutely grotesque” and warned it would take decades to recover.

“It’s obscene,” she said. “It’s outrageous, OK? It shows that the Democrats are nothing now but words and fantasy and hallucination and Hollywood. There’s no journalism left. What’s happened to The New York Times? What’s happened to the major networks? It’s an outrage.”

“I’m a professor of media studies, in addition to a professor of humanities, OK?” she continued. “And I think it’s absolutely grotesque the way my party has destroyed journalism. Right now, it is going to take decades to recover from this atrocity that’s going on where the news media have turned themselves over to the most childish fraternity, kind of buffoonish behavior.”
Children shouldn't play with dead trees...

Three Time Winner

Daniel Day Lewis calls it quits:
The 60-year-old star, praised for his versatility and known for going to extreme lengths for his performances, reportedly has one untitled film awaiting a December 25, 2017 release.

Day-Lewis is the only actor to ever win three best actor Oscars—for playing paralyzed writer and artist Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989), as an oil baron in There Will Be Blood (2007) and for the title role in director Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012).

He also received two Academy Award nominations for In the Name of the Father (1993) and Gangs of New York (2002).
He drank their milkshake...

Portraits Of The Bad Artists

It's the Bad Art Museum:
With over 700 pieces in its collection, the MoBA is the “only museum dedicated to bringing the worst of art to the widest of audiences.”

Founded in 1993, the museum is a community-based, non-profit institution that has received attention from the likes of NPR and the New York Times.

The name doesn’t mean the pieces go through much less scrutiny than higher brow art. Submissions sent it to the museum are reviewed by curators and must be original works of art, and pieces that would never hang in a museum.

Unfortunately, the museum will not accept children’s art submissions.
Bring on the best of the worst...

Clinton Clearance Sale

Hillary Clinton, in trouble again:
The department’s investigation aims to determine whether Clinton and her closest aides violated government protocols by using her private server to receive, hold and transmit classified and top-secret government documents. The department declined to say when its inquiry began, but it follows the conclusion of the FBI’s probe into the matter, which did not result in any actions being taken against Clinton or any of her aides.

Depending on the outcome of the current State Department inquiry, Clinton and her aides could have their access to sensitive government documents terminated.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, confirmed to Fox News the department’s formal inquiry.

Meanwhile, Grassley’s committee launched its own inquiry into Clinton’s handling of emails, an inquiry that began in March. Grassley cited among his concerns the July 5 statement of former FBI Director James Comey that the agency found Clinton and her staff members were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Grassley also contended there is “evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information...”
At least it's an investigation of actual wrongdoing...

Marching Past Georgia

There was no Blue Wave after all:
Democrats will say it should not have been so close, but Republicans can counter than outspending the GOP and still losing is a big deal. It is. The Democrats can note that the GOP was winning this district by twenty points regularly and now are barely winning. That is true, too.

But there are some fundamental problems for Democrats that they are going to overlook as they declare moral victory.

First, the national netroots rallied to Jon Ossoff, who was completely unknown to the sixth congressional district. There was a state senator from within the district who had a built in constituency that crossed party lines. But that guy got rejected for this unknown who lived out of the district.

Second, Ossoff did live out of the district and that cost him a number of votes. Democrats want you to believe this race was about health care and a referendum on Trump. The reality is more voters talked about Ossoff being a carpetbagger than they talked about where either candidate stood on the issues.

Third, Democrats got cocky. In the last two weeks of the race they started knocking on Republican doors to try to turn out the vote. Yes, they needed to persuade persuadable Republicans to vote Ossoff, but they did not just target those voters. They blanketed the district, knocking on the doors of Trump voters. They saturated the district with robocalls. They overbought television advertisements. They overexposed their candidate.
And they overplayed their hand...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Land Of Lotto

Who killed the lottery?
A top financial official just warned 100 percent of the state's monthly revenue will be eaten up by court-ordered payments. Rauner is calling a special session of the Democrat-led General Assembly in a bid to pass what he hopes will be the first full budget package in almost three years.

And Illinois will – literally – lose the lottery if the budget fails.

The state lotto requires a payment from the legislature each year. The current appropriation expires June 30, meaning no authority to pay prizes. In anticipation of a budget deadlock, the state already is planning to halt Powerball and Mega Millions sales.

“It is disappointing that the legislature’s inability to pass a budget has led to this development and will result in Illinois lottery players being denied the opportunity to play these popular games,” Illinois Lottery Acting Director Greg Smith told Fox News.
Don't worry; the state government still has plenty of other scams...

Holder's Run?

Are you ready for...President Holder?
“Up to now, I have been more behind-the-scenes. But that’s about to change. I have a certain status as the former attorney general. A certain familiarity as the first African-American attorney general,” Holder told Yahoo News. “There’s a justified perception that I’m close to President Obama. So I want to use whatever skills I have, whatever notoriety I have, to be effective in opposing things that are, at the end of the day, just bad for the country.”

The former attorney general has been working against Trump administration initiatives ranging from crackdowns on illegal immigration to increased prosecutions of drug dealers.

Holder further explained that Hillary Clinton’s loss inspired him to step into the spotlight.

“I thought, frankly, along with everybody else, that after the election, with Hillary Clinton as president, I could walk off the field,” the former attorney general elaborated. “So when she didn’t win, I thought, ‘We’ll have to see how this plays out.’ But it became clear relatively soon — and certainly sooner than I expected — that I had to get back on the field and be in effective opposition.”
Well, he would certainly know how not to follow the law...

The Pause That Changes

Climate change has in fact hit pause:
According to the paper’s abstract:

In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble.

And:

We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.

Translation: the real-world temperature increases were much smaller than our spiffy, expensive computer models predicted.
Real science speaks...

Some Reporters Are More Equal Than Others

What are they so scared of?
The Free Beacon was approached immediately upon entering Ossoff's Monday night event by Ossoff spokesperson Sacha Haworth, who proceeded to escort the reporter out of the event.

Asked why the Free Beacon was being restricted from covering the event, Haworth said, "Thank you very much for your interest in covering our race."

The Ossoff campaign has previously declined to provide the Free Beacon with information on the campaign's schedule.
Now go away, they said...

Friends Of Mac

The Soros slush fund?
The institute is intended to serve as a “legacy” for McCain and “is dedicated to advancing human rights, dignity, democracy and freedom.” It is a tax-exempt non-profit foundation with assets valued at $8.1 million and associated with Arizona State University.

Conservative and liberal critics, however, believe the institute constitutes a major conflict of interest for McCain, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

McCain, a former Navy pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and was then a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton until 1973, is a major political force in Washington, D.C. He is presently chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Critics worry that the institute’s donors and McCain’s personal leadership in the organization’s exclusive “Sedona Forum” bear an uncanny resemblance to the glitzy Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) that annually co-mingled special interests and powerful political players in alleged pay-to-play schemes.
Grandma and Grandpa do seem interchangeable at this point...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Free Offense

You can keep your name:
This case concerned a rock band called the “The Slants,” a reference to the racial slur for Asians. When Simon Tam, the band’s Asian-American frontman, tried to register his group’s name with the trademark office, he was told he could not get a valid trademark because the name was offensive to Asians. Before the Court, Tam’s attorneys argued that his intention was to “reclaim” the term “slants” and subvert its offensive potential.

The anti-disparagement provision, 15 USC §1052(a), has rarely had any practical effect, but has come to public notice in recent years as left-leaning advocates and public officials sought to use it to invalidate “offensive” trademarks. Most prominently, the Washington Redskins football team, who have twice had their trademark protections revoked for having a name that “disparages” American Indians.

Writing for the Court, Justice Samuel Alito reasoned that the entire purpose behind the provision rendered it facially unconstitutional. “It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” he wrote.
What's in a name? It depends on who's offended...

The Cost Of Being Single

Who's responsible for the price of single payer?
Single-payer health care systems, such as those seen in Europe and Canada, have always been popular with the liberal wing of American politics, with top liberal Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) calling for such systems in America. President Barack Obama also publicly supported single-payer when he was a senator.

The Post editorial is certainly sympathetic to those aspirations, arguing that such models are simpler for patients and employers. However, it says “the government’s price tag would be astonishing.”

When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a “Medicare for all” health plan in his presidential campaign, the nonpartisan Urban Institute figured that it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years, requiring a tax increase so huge that even the democratic socialist Mr. Sanders did not propose anything close to it.

Countering the argument of single-payer advocates that government-run systems tend to be more cost-efficient than the American system, the Post says the reason for that is political, blaming Republicans for framing ObamaCare’s Medicare cuts as attacks on the program instead of reform.
It's the cost, stupid...

Summer Jobs

Would politicians actually be willing to forego their vacation to do their jobs?
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) has pushed Senate Republican leaders for the past two weeks to cancel the August recess.

“I think absolutely we should truncate or cancel recess. We have a huge agenda. I think we can get a lot of it done, but what we don’t have is time,” said Sullivan. “We can make more time.”

The idea is gaining steam with colleagues elected to the Senate more recently.

“Congress has no business taking a recess when the people’s business remains unfinished,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

A Senate GOP aide expressed doubt, however, that Perdue, Sullivan and Daines will get very far in convincing McConnell to cancel the recess.
Class is still in session...

Georgia On Their Minds

So why does Georgia matter so much to the Democrats?
Democrats have much riding on the outcome. On the surface, conditions seem ripe for a nationwide Democratic renaissance, with a historically unpopular Republican president entangled in an investigation for possible obstruction of justice and the Republican agenda largely stalled in Congress.

But Democrats lost two special House elections earlier this year in conservative Kansas and Montana districts that Trump won by double digits last November. A failure in a more competitive district in Georgia, which Trump carried by just 1 percentage point, would be a morale killer for a party that has struggled to develop a coherent message beyond "We're not the party of Trump."

Democrats have steadily lost ground in recent years in state and local races. Republicans not only control the White House and both chambers of Congress, but also hold 33 governor's offices, the most in nearly a century.
When you have to outspend your opponent, is that really winning?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Federal Favors Commission

During the Obama era, some parts of the Internet were more equal than others:
Details of the highly friendly support were first described by then-The Washington Post’s Nancy Scola, who referred to it as an “unusual collaboration” in an in-depth report on the FCC’s filing system. Those details became significantly more incriminating after Mike Wendy, director of the market-oriented nonprofit MediaFreedom, recently received once-classified pieces of electronic communications years after he filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Wendy alleges that, along with other conservative organizations, they were not given the same effortful and enthusiastic treatment their liberal counterparts received.

The FCC hosted a period in 2014 where anyone could submit feedback on so-called net neutrality, a nebulous term loosely defined as the principle that internet service providers have no right to discriminate against certain forms of traffic (like spam), nor to offer faster speeds to higher-paying customers. For supporters (usually liberal), it means all traffic receives equal treatment. For critics (usually conservative), net neutrality is a government takeover that prevents companies from investing in faster infrastructure. The FCC at the time invited people to publish their thoughts about net neutrality on the public filing system in an attempt to have the rule-making process for internet regulation as democratic as possible. But how democratic and equal that process was can now be called into question.
Shouldn't neutrality mean neutrality?

Silence Of The Scams

Unions don't like daylight:
According to Michael Hartmann at the Capital Research Center, the scheme the Freedom Foundation is fighting against works like this:
“First, invent a state shell corporation which you as governor claim is the ‘employer’ of persons who receive state Medicare payments to care for disabled loved ones. Then have a mail-in ‘election’ in which few persons receiving payments even realized what is happening. Finally, no matter how few persons who received mail-in ballots ever vote on whether to be unionized, declare that the union has won the election, which means every single payment-recipient is now an SEIU member and so must have union dues automatically deducted from the state payment.”
Hartmann calls this set-up a “scam,” and the Freedom Foundation has been working to undermine this system since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that individual providers like those receiving Medicare funds to care for loved ones in Washington state can’t be forced to join a union or pay administrative fees. To combat this, the Freedom Foundation has worked to inform as many of these providers as possible that they have the right to opt out of paying any fees to SEIU, and it claims it has helped about 10,000 people in Washington state succeed in keeping more of their own benefits, costing SEIU close to $10 million, according to Freedom Foundation’s estimates.
Ya wanna keep your Medicare, don't ya?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Red Meanies

Whatever happened to R&R?
As it stands, the House-passed healthcare bill made major concessions to Obamacare. Though true that the bill repealed much of the taxes in Obamacare, it also left the law's regulatory infrastructure intact at the national level, and only allowed for limited waivers for states from some of the law's costly mandates. It delayed until the year of the next presidential election any roll back of the law's Medicaid expansion and subsidies. And then it replaced Obamacare's tax credit subsidy scheme with a new tax credit subsidy scheme.

Though the contents of the Senate bill remain shrouded in mystery, every indication is that it will preserve even more of Obamacare than the House bill does.

Senators have balked at even the very limited regulatory waivers in the House-passed bill, and want to preserve Obamacare's provision that drives up premiums on young and healthy individuals by forcing them to pay the same price for insurance as those with much higher medical costs. They fear the backlash from repealing Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, and want to spread out the rollback of the expansion over so many years, that it raises serious doubts about whether future Congresses would actually allow repeal to be implemented. Tax credits, meanwhile, are moving much more closely toward the type of income-based subsidies that exist under Obamacare.
Here to stay, the Republican way?

Ice Cream Warriors

Everybody's favorite hippie ice cream makers seem to be having labor pains:
Ben & Jerry's touts its social activism as much as its quirky ice-cream flavors such as Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey and Phish Food. Many of its raw materials, like sugar, cocoa, vanilla, bananas and coffee come from producers across the world that subscribe to the Fairtrade program, which promotes higher prices and better working conditions for farmers.

About 85 percent of the milk Ben & Jerry's uses in its ice cream made in North America comes from about 80 Vermont dairy farms. Its Caring Dairy program promotes sustainable farming by offering farmers cash incentives for keeping up with best management practices.

The Milk with Dignity program was developed in 2014 by farm workers and the Vermont group Migrant Justice to ensure that farms provide them fair wages and working conditions and decent housing. In 2015, Ben & Jerry's agreed to join the program. Since then, the two sides have been negotiating over the details.

"We've been negotiating in good faith," said Will Lambek of Migrant Justice. "It's an unacceptable delay."
You scream, they scream, for social justice?

Green Catastrophe

Did the UK's green laws burn it down?
It’s unknown what sparked the Grenfell Tower fire Monday, but the exterior cladding, or exterior insulation, added in 2015 to comply with “green energy” requirements, allowed the fire to quickly engulf the building.

Thousands of U.S. buildings also have cladding to increase energy efficiency, but that doesn’t mean that a Grenfell-like fire is likely to happen, according to Robert Solomon, who heads the building fire protection division at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“I don’t see this happening in the U.S.,” Solomon told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We actually apply a very constrictive and restrictive test protocol to those types of systems on buildings.”

“There’s not a comparable system applied to the cladding in the U.K.,” Solomon said.
Clad only when necessary, not politically correct...

They're Not Fired

Thus it begins:
“All Americans, regardless of party, agree on the fundamental principle that no one is above the law,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) told MSNBC Friday. “And if President Trump were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and then [get] special counsel Mueller fired, I believe Congress would begin impeachment proceedings.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) echoed Lieu’s sentiments, saying that Congress would come together to make sure they overrule Trump’s authority on the matter.

“Congress will not allow the president to so egregiously overstep his authority,” Schiff said in a statement.

“If President Trump were to try to replicate [former President Richard] Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in addition to Mueller, Congress must unite to stop him–without respect to party, and for the sake of the nation,” he added.
At least Nixon was impeached for a real reason...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Property Values

The man who would be Prime Minister has a suggestion that even Charles Dickens might find hard to swallow:
He suggested that "requisitioning" expensive vacant properties could help ensure that residents are housed locally.

The Government has committed to rehousing all those who lost their homes in the fire in the local area.

However Mr Corbyn said: “Kensington is a tale of two cities. The south part of Kensington is incredibly wealthy, it’s the wealthiest part of the whole country.

“The ward where this fire took place is, I think, the poorest ward in the whole country and properties must be found - requisitioned if necessary - to make sure those residents do get re-housed locally.

“It can’t be acceptable that in London we have luxury buildings and luxury flats left empty as land banking for the future while the homeless and the poor look for somewhere to live. We have to address these issues.”
Thus begins the socialist real estate monopoly...

Land Of Loose Change

Illinois goes there?
Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection could be extended to states if Congress took up the issue, although Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell noted in an article last year that he believed the precedents are iffy for extending the option to states. Nevertheless, Illinois is in a serious financial pickle, which is why radical options such as bankruptcy are being floated as potential solutions.

Ratings agency Moody's Investor Service earlier this month downgraded Illinois' general obligation bonds to its lowest investment grade rating, citing the state's growing pile of unpaid bills and its mounting pension deficit. Illinois, by the way, has the lowest credit rating of any state. Lower ratings mean higher borrowing costs, since lenders view such borrowers as riskier bets.

"Legislative gridlock has sidetracked efforts not only to address pension needs but also to achieve fiscal balance, allowing a backlog of bills to approach $15 billion, or about 40 percent of the state's operating budget," the agency noted.

As noted by the Fiscal Times, Illinois is the only state that's been operating without a balanced and complete budget for almost two years.

"We're like a banana republic. We can't manage our money," Gov. Bruce Rauner said after the Illinois Legislature failed to produce a full 2017 budget earlier this month.
And they can't afford the bananas...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Mueller's Law

President Trump may be in more trouble-or maybe not:
Mueller has requested interviews with senior intelligence officials about their conversations with Trump in an effort to investigate possible obstruction of justice, a former senior intelligence official with knowledge of the discussions confirmed to NBC News. The Washington Post was first to report the news.

Those who have agreed to be interviewed include Dan Coats, director of national intelligence; Mike Rogers, chief of the National Security Agency; and Richard Ledgett, who recently left his post as deputy to Rogers.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, criticized the Post report: "The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal."

The report in the Post cited anonymous sources who had been briefed on requests made by Mueller's investigators. It was not known whether the FBI was the source of the information in the report.
I'm sure they were just trying to "help..."

Fake News Fails Again

The NY Times tries rewriting history:
“An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established,” reads the correction, which was added shortly after Palin’s comments.

The theory that Loughner was inspired by Palin’s political group to shoot Giffords spread quickly after the shooting, which occurred in a parking lot near Tucson.

But it soon emerged that Loughner was a schizophrenic with a long history of bizarre behavior. Loughner himself touted numerous conspiracy theories in online postings.

“As I said yesterday, I’d hoped the media had collectively matured since the last attack on a Representative when media coverage spewed blatant lies about who was to blame,” Palin wrote on Facebook.

“There’s been no improvement. The NYT has gotten worse.”
Were they ever that much better?

Behind Closed Doors

They still don't want you to see what's in it:
The secrecy surrounding the Senate measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act appears to be remarkable — at least for a health care measure this consequential. In 1993, President Bill Clinton empowered the first lady, Hillary Clinton, to assemble health care legislation in private, with input from a panel of more than 500 experts.

That approach won scathing reviews from lawmakers in both parties. But it took place at the White House, not in Congress. Once the Clintons’ health plan reached Capitol Hill, it died in the public spotlight.

Republican leaders this week defended their actions.

“Look, we’ve been dealing with this issue for seven years,” the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said. “It’s not a new thing.”

Mr. McConnell said there had been “gazillions of hearings on this subject” over the years — a less-than-precise tabulation that offered little comfort to Democrats who want hearings held now, in this particular year, on the contents of this particular bill.
I suppose they could just pass it first without reading it-oh, wait...

Bug Off

Better late than never?
Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday dealt with the Y2K bug, according to a memo OMB released. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government.

The agency didn’t provide an estimate of how much time is currently spent on Y2K paperwork, but Linda Springer, an OMB senior adviser, acknowledged that it isn’t a lot since those requirements are already often ignored in practice.

Mulvaney said he hopes that by publicly eliminating the rules, departments and agencies will be inspired to review their own policies and procedures to reduce inefficiencies.

“Many agencies have forgotten how to deregulate,” he said. “It’s been so long since somebody asked them to look backwards.”
Be prepared...except when it's no longer necessary...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

King Typewriter

The typewriter, that symbol of lost technology, is making a comeback:
From public “type-ins” at bars to street poets selling personalized, typewritten poems on the spot, typewriters have emerged as popular items with aficionados hunting for them in thrift stores, online auction sites and antique shops. Some buy antique Underwoods to add to a growing collection. Others search for a midcentury Royal Quiet De Luxe — like a model author Ernest Hemingway used — to work on that simmering novel.

The rescued machines often need servicing, leading fans to seek out the few remaining typewriter repair shops.

“I haven’t seen business like this in years,” said John Lewis, a typewriter repairman who has operated out of his Albuquerque shop for four decades. “There’s definitely a new interest, and it’s keeping me very busy.”
The lost art isn't so lost after all...

Viva No Revolution

Socialism comes full circle:
Everything about Venezuela suggests this is a nation on the brink of collapse. Whether it is the ongoing violence, the extreme poverty, or the enormous piles of garbage in the street, nothing is working as it should be. In January, inflation reached over 800 percent, while some analysts predicting it could reach 1500 percent by the end of the year. Even at one of the city’s most exclusive hotels, breakfast offerings remain scarce and electricity and internet connection regularly cut out.

While some still solely blame the current crisis on the collapse in oil prices in 2012, a vast majority of Venezuelans believe the country needs serious economic reform. After 17 years of hardcore socialism, egged on by left-wing elites around the world, many in leadership appear hesitant to accuse the socialist system itself – and not the people running it – of being the problem.

Many within the opposition’s leadership structure are members of the Socialist International (SI). Popular Will, the party led by Leopoldo López before his arrest, belongs to the SI. López’s colleagues often find it easier to lay the blame at Maduro’s feet and call for elections, rather than demand a free, capitalist society, rebuilt from the ground up.

Yet the students and street protesters, who have put their lives on pause to fight Maduro, seem to understand that the institutional rot goes way beyond Maduro.

As one student put it to me: “Chávez succeeded in creating an equal society by making everyone poor.”
That's typically how these things work out, isn't it?

Sue Or Else

Never let a lawsuit go to waste:
During a call with reporters, Blumenthal said Trump has “repeatedly and flagrantly violated” the Emoluments Clause. Blumenthal said Trump has “never sought the consent of Congress” for profits received in deals in more than 20 countries where his businesses operate.

The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution says no person holding a federal office of profit or trust shall — “without the Consent of the Congress” — accept any “present, emolument, (or) office … from any king, prince or foreign state.”

Although the president holds a federal office of “trust,” the clause does not name the president specifically, unlike other clauses in the Constitution — which has generated division over interpretation. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled whether the Emoluments Clause applies to the president.

Blumenthal said Democrats believe Trump “must either sell his vast holdings … or he must tell us and disclose now” all the benefits he receives from foreign governments. The Democrats also want access to Trump’s tax returns and business records.
Shady deals with foreign governments is more of a Democratic thing, at that...

Blunder Woman

Because she's like Wonder Woman, or something:
Clinton began by thanking Women in Film for its “commitment to lifting up women directors, producers, writers, composers and executives.” Then the former Democratic presidential nominee suggested that she and Wonder Woman were both on a quest to “save the world.”

“Now I haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, but I’m going to, in part because it’s directed by the fabulous Patty Jenkins,” Clinton said in the video. “But something tells me that a movie about a strong, powerful woman fighting to save the world from a massive international disaster is right up my alley.”
Too bad there isn't one available...

Repeal Or Save?

There could be another reason to vote against the Republicans:
Republicans are looking to slowly phase out extra federal funds for Medicaid expansion, beef up the new tax credits for buying insurance and add money for opioid abuse treatment — but they’ll have to pay for it to ensure the bill passes muster.

That’s because the Senate healthcare bill must save at least as much money as the House’s legislation. Some senators are interested in additions to the healthcare bill that could cost the government, and savings would have to be found elsewhere, perhaps in some of the taxes, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chamber’s No. 3 Republican, said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is heavily involved in the healthcare discussions as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that his preference is to repeal all of the taxes but that senators would “look at everything.”

“We’re not going to ignore anything,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We’re going to have to really look very carefully.”

Delaying the repeal or keeping more of the ObamaCare taxes would be the easiest fix, but it risks creating a backlash on the right — and substantial pushback could imperil the bill’s prospects. About 45 conservative groups and activists said in a letter Tuesday that it “would be a mistake” for a Senate bill to not include the tax repeals that were a part of the bill passed by the House last month.
Two parties, same coin...

The Left Literally Attacks

One of their own snaps:
“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother, Michael Hodgkinson, said in a telephone interview shortly after he received the news on Wednesday. He added that he was not close to his brother and had not been aware why he remained in Washington.

“Totally out of the blue,” he added, saying that his brother was engaged in politics but otherwise led a normal life.

Michael Hodgkinson said his sister had spoken with the shooting suspect’s wife on Tuesday. According to his account, the wife said that Mr. Hodgkinson had called home to say he was planning to come home because he missed his wife and dogs.

Continue reading the main story
Instead, he is suspected of opening fire shortly after 7 a.m. on Wednesday at a baseball field just outside Washington and showering bullets on members of Congress, their staff and the police. Five people were wounded.
The Left has been fantasizing about something like this directed at Trump. How far will they really go now?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Equal Opportunity Hackers

Who hacked whom?
Heritage alerted employees to the phishing attempts in an email just two weeks before the election, adding that the FBI had contacted Heritage about the phishing attempts.

“The same threat groups that have been releasing information about the DNC, Hillary Clinton, and recently John Podesta have been targeting specific people within Heritage via phishing campaigns,” the email, dated Oct. 24, 2016, said. “Our security monitoring tools and services show no signs of an active compromise. However, we were contacted by the FBI agent-in-charge regarding emails sent to Heritage staff in August and September.”

TheDC has obtained a copy of that email, and former Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint confirmed the phishing attempts to TheDC on Tuesday. DeMint added that the hacking attempts (to his knowledge) were largely unsuccessful. DeMint said that the hackers targeted employees who were “outside” of Heritage’s firewall. DeMint added that they never had any indication that Russian hackers ever infiltrated Heritage’s internal computer systems.
Will the real hackers please stand up?

Sherman's Non-March

Not all Democrats are on board the impeachment bandwagon:
There must be ”a discussion within the caucus — in a public forum — before we do something that would position our colleagues or our future colleagues,” Capuano said, according to the source.

"Emotions are high. These issues have political implications and government ones."

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, also took issue with Sherman’s tactics on Tuesday after the meeting.

“We believe strongly that a discussion about impeachment is not timely,” he said.

Sherman told The Hill that he spoke with Capuano afterward to emphasize that he wasn't moving forward with a floor vote on impeachment without input from Democratic leaders and colleagues.

"I said, 'I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not doing anything until I consult with colleagues and leadership,'" Sherman said.
No impeachment for them, please...

Mac Attack

Just what is going on with John McCain, anyway?
McCain’s latest stunning public shot was to tell The Guardian that America’s standing in the world was stronger under former President Barack Obama, a man the Arizona senator has torched for a “feckless” foreign policy.

The statement came a month after McCain, his party’s 2008 presidential nominee, strongly criticized Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for downplaying the importance of basing foreign policy decisions on American values.

“With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere: Don’t look to the United States for hope,” McCain warned in a New York Times op-ed.

Also last month, McCain called reports that Trump had shared classified information provided by Israeli intelligence “deeply disturbing” and warned that allies may not share sensitive material in the future.

McCain is rarely afraid to speak his mind, noted John Weaver, a longtime political adviser to the senator.

“I’ve talked to a number of Republican senators who share the same viewpoint and for whatever reason are reluctant to say it,” said Weaver.
What mind he seems to have left, anyway...

An Unconstitutional Congress

Democratic rep Adam Schiff wants Congress to hire Mueller if Trump fires him, except that Congress can't do that:
In Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution’s separation of powers requires that the only branch of government that can create a federal office—Congress, through passing legislation—is also the one branch that can never then appoint someone to fill the office it had just created. Congress must, instead, specify in the statute who can appoint someone to fill that office, choosing between the president, one of the president’s senior subordinates, such as the attorney general or other cabinet officers, or the courts.

Quoting the rule from its 1926 case, Myers v. United States, the Court declared, “Legislative power, as distinguished from executive power, is the authority to make laws, but not to enforce them or appoint the agents charged with the duty of such enforcement.”

Consequently, the Court in Buckley struck down that provision in federal law for violating the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. Following that decision, all FEC commissioners are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

That is precisely the issue here. Schiff is threatening to take action that the Supreme Court has clearly and repeatedly held unconstitutional.
Well, it's not like Democrats with an agenda care...

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hoop Loops

One good nutjob deserves another:
The 56-year-old Rodman, who won five NBA championships as a player with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, previously traveled to North Korea in January 2014. On that trip, Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to dictator Kim Jong Un, who Rodman referred to as his "best friend."

The trip also featured Rodman and a squad of former NBA stars taking part in a pickup game as part of what Rodman called "basketball diplomacy."

Kim Jong Un reportedly is a fan of the NBA, especially the Chicago Bulls teams that Rodman played on in the late 1990s.
He's the only man in North Korea who's allowed to be taller than Little Kim...

No Tapes, No Case?

There are no tapes after all?
Trump has been coy about whether any recordings exist of his private conversations with Comey, who was dismissed by the president in May. Trump raised the possibility of tapes last month and told reporters last week that he would discuss their potential existence "in the very near future."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday an announcement would come "when the president is ready to make it."
Comey suggested in his high-profile Senate testimony last week that any recordings would back up his account over the president's, adding, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."
Lordy, it looks like Comey is out of luck...

Working In The Coal Mines

While Washington and the media are obsessing over Comey and Russia, the Trump Economy keeps moving right along:
In the first three months of 2017, U.S. mining corporations with assets of $50 million or more had combined after-tax profits of $1.957 billion, according to the Census Bureau, which has posted quarterly U.S. mining industry after-tax profits and losses going back to the fourth quarter of 2000.

The after-tax profit that the U.S. mining industry earned in the first quarter of this year was a dramatic reversal from the first quarter of last year, when mining corporations with assets of $50 million or more posted losses of $27.075 billion.
Making mining great again?

Zombie Teachers For Hire

It's the haunted school system:
The lawsuit charges that since 2011, more than $500,000 in tax funds have been used to pay for “ghost teachers,” or those who are paid as if they had jobs in public classrooms but are actually employed by the Reading Education Association.

The plaintiffs are seeking the return of the funds, including more than $400,000 in salaries, about $50,000 in pension contributions and about $73,000 in health benefits. They allege the funds were illegally funneled to officers of the union local.

“It’s clear that the Public School Code does not provide authority for this …” Karin Sweigart, deputy general counsel for the Fairness Center, told Watchdog.org. “At the end of the day, teachers should be paid to teach.”
In union parlance-they say they're teachers. You got a problem with that?

The Man For The Jobs

Democrats aren't happy with the guy they thought they could control:
“I would like to think he would be a moderating force … He has an understanding of why people want to come to this country, so I would think, hopefully, that would be part of his thinking,” a disappointed Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto grumbled to Politico.

“Look, we’ve had some arguments, the secretary and I,” Democratic Sen. Bob Casey told Politico. “I want to try to do whatever I can to work with him, but I think we probably have some basic differences.”

Instead of complying with the Democrats’ priorities, Kelly is building Trump’s border wall, and is complying with Trump’s “Hire American” priorities by declining to increase the annual inflow of roughly one million contract workers into the United States. “I know we already have large numbers [of contract workers] that come in and have been coming in over the years, but … in the current administration, this is all about American jobs versus people that come in and do the work,” Kelly told Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp at a June 6 hearing.

Kelly and Trump have made a few compromises with Democrats — but they have been gotten nothing in exchange except more Democratic hostility and growing worries among their blue-collar supporters.
If Democrats cared about jobs, they'd be worried about their base, too...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Double, Double

A man and his evil twin:
After years of pleading his case, Jones, who was convicted solely on eyewitness testimony, finally received help from the Innocence Project who believed him enough to begin looking into the claim of a doppelganger who may have been the real culprit, the Kansas City Star reported.

Jones’s lawyers investigated the prisoner’s story and believed they found the man everyone said looked so much like their client that they could pass as the same person.

“We were floored by how much they looked alike,” said Jones’s attorney Alice Craig of seeing the other man who some believe committed the crime instead of Jones.

The legal team then contacted the victim from the robbery to look at photos of the two men side-by-side. Photos of the two men show each with braided hair and a pencil-thin goatee. The two look so similar that they could easily be mistaken as two photos of the same man.
This was no transporter accident:

Old Man Out Syndrome

John McCain, not a fan:
Asked if the country stood on sturdier ground under Obama's leadership, McCain said "yes," according to the report.

“As far as American leadership is concerned, yes," said McCain, who also vocally criticized many of the Obama administration's foreign policy decisions.

McCain also lost to Obama when he ran as the GOP nominee in the 2008 presidential election.

The top Senate Republican was also asked what "message" the president delivered to the U.K. last week when he publicly criticized London's mayor, shortly after a terror-related attack that left eight people dead and many more wounded.
“What do you think the message is? The message is that America doesn’t want to lead,” said McCain, chairman on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
John McCain's message seems to be to remind people of why he never became President...

The Lynch Connection

Even Diane Feinnstein thinks Loretta Lynch might need to be investigated:
Asked whether Lynch was providing cover for Clinton, Feinstein said she couldn’t answer.

“I would have a queasy feeling too, though, to be candid with you,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think we need to know more about that, and there’s only one way to know about it, and that’s to have the Judiciary Committee take a look at that.”

But Feinstein emphasized that this investigation should be separate from the one into potential ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“I don’t think we should mix the two,” the California senator said.
One good investigation deserves another...

50 Plus One?

Will Puerto Rico ever become a state?
For statehood to win approval, the House and Senate must both vote to approve it, and the president must sign off on it. The last states to be added were Hawaii and Alaska in 1959.

With so many voters expected to stay home from the polls, the result won’t “reflect the will of the people,” making Congress unlikely to consider accepting Puerto Rico as a state, Suarez added.

“If they ignore the will of the people, they’re ignoring the will of American citizens, and they’re ignoring a democratic process, which becomes a very problematic assertion,” Rosselló said. “You’re keeping the will of the people of Puerto Rico, who are American citizens, somewhat in the shadows.”

Puerto Ricans themselves haven’t been united on what they want, but without a majority of voters saying yes to statehood, Congress won’t even consider the idea, noted Amilcar Barreto, an associate professor of political science, international affairs and public policy at Northeastern University.

“For the past half-century, preferences for the three status options have essentially been locked,” Barreto said. “The statehood movement is frustrated. … They can’t seem to get that majority because the electorate is divided.”
Given their financial circumstances, they might actually be better off without it...

This Investigation Paid For By...

So just how much will the Russia investigation finally cost?
I doubt we will ever know -- specific figures on such matters always seem to get smudged in the bookkeeping. But, although billions may be an exaggeration, I'd bet my house and everybody else's that when you added it all up, the number would be staggering on legal fees and research alone, not to mention the extraordinary waste of legislative time better spent on myriad topics far more consequential to the public. It would be fascinating if some eager investigative reporter would take it on her/his self to explore this, especially with infrastructure legislation about to battle its way through the House and Senate. Exactly how many bridges, highways, airports, hospitals, schools etc. could have been built for the cost of these investigations? If it's even one, it's a scandal.

That's because we have learned exactly nothing from these empty events, except that Donald Trump (like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Susan Rice and roughly 7/8ths -- make that 17/18ths -- of the Beltway) occasionally, or more than occasionally, lies. The hearings also reveal to some extent which senators and congressmen and women are better at asking questions, if that is significant information.
But none of them would be willing to foot the bill...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Life After May Day

British politics produces a real House of Cards:
The latest election shock is "yet another own goal" that will make "already complex negotiations even more complicated," said the European Parliament's top Brexit official, Guy Verhofstadt.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said it's not even clear whether May will now lead those negotiations.

"She might start off doing that but the Conservatives might well replace her mid-stream," he said. "That's going to make it difficult for the EU 27 because they're going to want to know who they're talking to and what their policy is."

In the Conservative Party, recriminations were immediate and stinging. Many analysts said it was unlikely May could remain leader for long now that her authority has been eroded. Steven Fielding, a professor of politics at the University of Nottingham, called her "a zombie prime minister."

"Honestly, it feels almost like she is almost not aware of what has happened in the last 24 hours," Conservative lawmaker Heidi Allen told LBC radio. Allen said she couldn't see May hanging on for "more than six months."
And now...PM Corbyn? You play with political fire, you get burned at the polls...

One Per Cent And Rising

Bernie Sanders, man of the people:
In 2016, the Economic Policy Institute published a study about wealth in the United States and included the average income of the top 1 percent of earners in every state (based on 2013 data). If EPI’s report is even remotely close to accurate, Sanders was not only in the top 1 percent of earners in the state of Vermont in 2016, he earned hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the average earner in that group.

According to EPI, the average earner in the top 1 percent in Vermont earned $735,607, nearly $60,000 less than the money Sanders received for his book deal and more than $250,000 less than what Sanders is projected to have earned when all sources of income are taken into account.

According to Senate.gov, Sanders’ Senate salary in 2016 was $174,000, the same salary he’s earned in the Senate since 2009. Sanders first joined the Senate in 2007, which means he’s earned more than $1.7 million in taxpayer funds alone since first being elected.

Incredibly, just days after news broke about Sanders’ earnings, the self-described socialist senator took to Twitter to bash the dreaded “1 percent,” who Sanders has long criticized for not paying their “fair share” and for earning their fortunes on the backs of the poor and disenfranchised.
So where's Bernie's "fair share?"

Comey The Criminal?

Did James Comey break the law?
“Comey – the nation’s top intelligence official – admitted under oath that he leaked privileged documents to a friend to give to reporters at the New York Times,” Sekulow wrote in the article. “Memos that he had written in the course of his official government duties about privileged conversations with the President. The reason: Comey testified that he did so to manipulate the situation and force the appointment of a Special Counsel. (And, as we know – that’s ultimately what occurred.)”

“Comey’s admission that he is a leaker also raises serious legal questions,” Sekulow also wrote later in his article. “In my view, Comey broke the law: 18 U.S.C. § 641 provides that it is a federal crime to, without authority, convey a record of the United States, in this case an FBI record he admits under oath he leaked after being fired.”

On Friday evening, during an interview with Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, Sekulow leveled the charge again.

“Here’s the real issue,” Sekulow said. “The contents of that memo [Comey sent to the New York Times], the substance of it, anyways, was already reported in the New York Times the day before the president tweeted anything. And then, Sean, he goes under oath and says, ‘I did this to get a special counsel’ — which by the way — is impaneled the next day!”

“Outrageous!” Hannity said.

“No, no,” Sekulow continued. “It’s more than outrageous. It’s a crime.”
Sounds like something that ought to actually be investigated...

Friday, June 09, 2017

Members Only

The Sopranos finale, ten years later:

Chase’s commitment to keeping his open ending open — foreshadowed, in retrospect, by the still-missing Russian from “Pine Barrens” — led to a brand-new kind of finale: one with no ending at all. Instead of wrapping the series up in a neat and orderly fashion, The Sopranos flabbergasted viewers by declining to even try. This was the series’ latest — and perhaps greatest — innovation. Tony was a mobster unlike any we’d seen before, forcing fans to confront what it meant to romanticize a criminal, but he was still a mobster, and one explicitly positioned in the lineage of pop culture mobsters past. (Sil’s Godfather impression!) “Made in America” had no precedent to tweak. Relinquishing a now-or-never shot at resolution for sustained ambiguity remains The Sopranos’ most radical move among many.
Personally, I think the cat did it, or had it done...


The Invisible App

An app that does...nothing?
I open it and start scrolling. Images of people, foods, and objects appear on and then vanish off the screen. Solar cooker. B.F. Skinner. Shoes. Marmalade. Sports Bra. Michael Jackson. Ganesha. Aurora Borealis. These are binks, the name for posts on Binky.

I can “like” a bink by tapping a star, which unleashes an affirming explosion. I can “re-bink” binks, too. I can swipe left to judge them unsavory, Tinder-style, and I can swipe right to signal approval. I am a binker, and I am binking.

There’s just one catch: None of it is real. Binky is a ruse, a Potemkin-Village social network with no people, where the content is fake and feedback disappears into the void. And it might be exactly the thing that smartphone users want—and even need.
There are naught but ghosts here...

Dirty Canvas

"Voter fraud? Who, us?"
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors say that 11 temporary canvassers working for the Indiana Voter Registration Project made and sent in an unknown number of fake voter applications. The canvassers’ supervisor, Holiday Burke, was charged as well.

The organization, the AP reported, is managed by Patriot Majority USA a group with strong ties to Democratic Party, including former President Bill Clinton and former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, as well as labor unions.

The investigation by state authorities began last August when a clerk in Hendricks County marked around a dozen voter forms with suspicious information. The probe went into 56 counties where the organization collected 45,000 applications. Patriot Majority rejected the notion the group engaged in any illegal activity.

“We looked onto the Statewide Voter Registration System and noticed that there had been an unusually high number of date of birth and first name changes,” the secretary of state’s office told CNN last October.
What's in a name change?

Got Brains?

CNN's most notorious zombie is out:
"CNN has decided to not move forward with production on the acquired series 'Believer with Reza Aslan' (season two)," a CNN rep told Fox News. "We wish Reza and his production team all the best."

A rep for Aslan did not immediately return Fox News' request for comment.

Aslan responded to Trump's June 3 remarks regarding the terrorist attacks in London calling Trump an "embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency" and a "piece of s--t."

He later apologized for his language.

Aslan's CNN show faced controversy earlier this year when the 45-year-old ate a human brain with a Hindu cannibalistic sect in an episode that aired in March.

"Believer" was meant to explore a variety of faith-based groups around the world. But his exploration of the cannibalistic sect in India had many people up in arms over what they saw is a misrepresentation of Hinduism.
When you talk sh*t about someone, don't be surprised if they throw sh*t back at you...

Freedom Of Disinformation

The media are their own worst enemy-and America's?
“The media really took it on the nose,” he went on, pointing out that Trump was not lying about the three times he claims Comey told him he personally was not under investigation. “How come that didn’t leak out? That is an interesting question because enough people knew on Capitol Hill, and it tells me that it was the media. And this was really the chilling part, that they have their narrative agenda, that Trump is in collusion, Trump is this, and Trump is that, and he’s under investigation. They did not want to challenge that narrative.”

“They weren’t reporting facts,” continued Caddell. “They were reporting sources who would give them statements that would contribute to their anti-Trump narrative. This is not a press. This is a propaganda machine. It’s full speed against the president.”

Caddell said he could turn to almost any network and predict its coverage, “If Trump walked on water, they’d say he couldn’t swim.”

“They are so negative, as they were in the campaign,” he went on. “They haven’t let up, and they have invested themselves in a political result, not in telling the truth, and that is a danger to democracy.”
When it's all about you, it's no longer about the truth...

The Prophet Of Doom

He's super serial:
In his comments, Gore equated the fight against global warming to a religious-based, moral crusade similar to the civil rights fight, women’s suffrage, and the abolitionist movement during the Civil War era. Gore insisted that it is a moral imperative to fight against climate change.

“Regarding the climate movement,” Gore said warming to his point, “there are people who say, ‘God is in complete control of everything that happens, and if the Earth is getting warmer, then maybe God intends that.'”

Gore then rejected that conceit.

“Well, no,” the million-dollar mansion-owing former veep insisted. “God intends for us to take responsibility for how we treat God’s creation, and if we choose to use the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet as an open sewer for 110-million tons of global-warming pollution every day, the consequences are attributable to us.”

He concluded saying, “And if you are a believer, as I am, I think God intends for us to open our eyes and take responsibility for the moral consequences of our actions.”
It could be worse. Some politicians think they are God...

Radical Reality

Channeling her inner extremist?
U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Epps expressed concern that Winner was apparently fascinated with the Middle East and Islamic terrorism, CBS News said.

Prosecutor Jennifer Solari said investigators seized a notebook from Winner’s house in Augusta, Georgia, CBS News reported, and that Winner wrote of traveling to the Middle East, writing at one point, “I want to burn the White House down … find somewhere in Kurdistan to live. Haha.”

Winner had expressed anger toward Republican President Donald Trump on social media, the New York Times reported.

“The government is not in any way suggesting the defendant has become a jihadist or that she is a Taliban sympathizer,” Solari said in court, CBS News reported.
She did that on her own...

Union Lessons

Hey, union-leave those teachers alone:
Under the current Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, the employer contributes a 50 percent match of an employee’s contribution of up to 6 percent of total compensation. In other words, the state government’s contribution to the teacher is capped at just 3 percent.

The new plan would call on the employer to contribute 4 percent of a school employee’s salary into the 401(k). In addition, the teacher would be able to contribute, and the employer would match the first 3 percent of an employee’s contribution.

The tentative proposal would also allow for the closing of the hybrid offering in the future if it becomes underfunded.

“We have a tentative framework,” Synder told reporters Thursday. “We still need to continue to work out some of the things that provide, I think, better retirement for school employees.”

The changes from the old plan to the new plan really aren’t much to call home about, but that hasn’t quashed the frustration from the left.

Democrats as well as organized labor have criticized the tentative changes, claiming they will only worsen a teacher shortage. Instead, Democrats and union leaders want to see the state increase classroom spending and focus more on infrastructure, according to The Associated Press.
Heaven forbid they should want to actually help teachers...

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Love On The Other Side

A feminist discovers the peril of crossing her own crowd:
“Nobody has the right to tell you who you can date, who you can love, who to share your body with,” posted Green this week, after she was attacked for dating someone with different political beliefs. “Your body and your life belong to you.”

In a video titled “Taking the red pill?” last month, Green revealed that she had started to talk to people of different opinions and was planning to host debates with anti-feminists.

Green, who hosted MTV’s digital series Braless and was named by TIME as one of the “30 Most Influential People on the Internet” in 2016, was immediately attacked by leftist activists following the video, and a follow-up video titled “Caught between extremes” and has since generated even more backlash following the announcement of her relationship.
True love knows no ideology...

Ozone Holes

The EPA finally realizes that Barack Obama is no longer in charge:
“States have made tremendous progress and significant investment cleaning up the air. We will continue to work with states to ensure they are on a path to compliance,” Pruitt said in a statement.

“We are committed to working with states and local officials to effectively implement the ozone standard in a manner that is supportive of air quality improvement efforts without interfering with local decisions or impeding economic growth,” he added.

The EPA’s statement cited “increased regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased cost to businesses.”

Pruitt stated that his decision to delay the air pollution rule relies on a stipulation in the Clean Air Act that would allow the agency to suspend rules up to a year if the agency has “insufficient information” to make compliance decisions.
It's always harder for fake science to come up with facts...

Bankers' Dozens

Dodd-Frank may get a little less odious:
The House passed the Financial Choice Act by a vote of 233 to 186, with Republican lawmakers in support and Democrats opposed.

The Choice Act is an ambitious piece of legislation that would replace many of the complex rules created by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 with a new paradigm of regulation. The bill would allow banks that fund their operations with capital beyond a certain threshold to step into a lower-touch system of regulation in which the amount of supervisory oversight would be greatly reduced.

Although it is supported by the Trump White House, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate. Democrats have signaled their ongoing support for Dodd-Frank and view the Choice Act as letting banks “off the hook” for the financial crisis.
Or maybe Dodd-Frank was part of the problem...

No Collusion, No Pressure

The long-running Russian collusion conspiracy theory comes crashing down:
North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asked Comey, “Did the president at any time ask you to stop the FBI investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections?”

The former FBI director replied, “Not to my understanding, no.”

Burr followed up by asking if any member of the administration made this request, and Comey replied, “no.”

The answers from Comey come after weeks of Democrats accusing Trump of being guilty of obstruction of justice. The former FBI director’s opening testimony said that Trump told him in a meeting that he “hopes” Comey can “let” the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn “go.”
Nothingburgers often leave a bitter taste...

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

People For The Fake Treatment Of Animals

First, there was fake news. Now, fake activism:
“The animal rights group has produced a disturbing new video that depicts a cat suffering at the hands of its owner. It’s difficult to watch. It’s also completely fake,” reports Mashable. “But it looks real; it is a skilled CGI work clearly meant to deceive viewers. Now, PETA is trying to enlist complicit media organizations to knowingly publish the fake video in an effort to make the lie go viral.”

“Through this marketing effort, PETA is trying to convince the media to report and share a fake video as if it’s real, in hopes of deceiving the public to create manufactured outrage,” Mashable continued. “As animal lovers, this is offensive. As a media outlet with a responsibility to truthfulness, this is unethical. As people with basic moral values, WTF?”
Considering how animal rights activists have "helped" animals in the past, you'd think PETA would have their own source material...

Tax And Spend Republicans

What's the matter with Kansas Republicans?
A coalition of conservative Republicans, some of whom voted for sweeping tax cuts in 2012 or defended them in the years since, sided with moderates and Democrats to override Brownback's veto of a $1.2 billion tax increase.

The law to increase taxes over the next two years comes as legislators seek to close a projected $900 million budget gap for that same period and bolster funding for K-12 schools under a Kansas Supreme Court order.

"It's a huge vote," said state Rep. Steven Johnson, a Republican and chairman of the House tax panel, adding that legislative leadership had explored many routes to find a tax solution that would gain sufficient support in both chambers. "It's a huge vote for looking for an option for Kansas among limited options."
I'm sure they'll realize why they have even more limited options soon...

Single State Solution?

Single payer is becoming a thing:
According to a January poll by Pew Research, 40 percent of Democratic voters favor a single-payer system. And a majority, about 60 percent of Americans, said the government has a responsibility to ensure every resident has healthcare.

In Congress, 112 of 193 House Democrats have co-sponsored a single-payer bill paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy.

"A number of states have tried to set up single payer – and they all abandon the effort because the taxes are too high and California is going to find out the same thing," said Roy.

The California bill still has no financial mechanism to pay for it. But the estimated price tag is $400 billion, more than the $290 billion state budget and considerably more than the $367 billion in state, federal and private money currently used to pay for healthcare in the Golden State.
Any takers?

Signed And Delivered

Dear media: While you were obsessed with Russia, President Trump was getting stuff done: The bills include an act to improve weather forecas...