Friday, June 30, 2017

Who Killed Illinois?

The Illinois death spiral continues:
After two years without a budget, many people who depend on state services — public university students, drug addicts, troubled teenagers, the elderly — have already felt the repercussions.

Continue reading the main story
RECENT COMMENTS

mjb 1 hour ago
It is really too bad that state governments cannot go into receivership.Reagan started this with his anti-government ideology mantras. ...
You Got It Wrong 1 hour ago
Typical. You say Madigan objects to the "budget" being attached to Rauner's proposals. Wrong. A balanced budget here cannot be written...
Tim Garibaldi 1 hour ago
What's interesting about the level of dysfunction is that we are also there in the US Congress. One would hope that once the dysfunction...
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But perhaps the most peculiar part of this endless budget standoff has been the opposite: Life has gone on uninterrupted for many residents. Because of court orders and other stopgap measures, state workers were paid. Schools opened. Prisons functioned. Roads were built. After a while, some people seemed to grow inured to the risks and consequences of a budget deadlock.

“This impasse has been very cleverly designed to minimize the immediate obvious impact on middle-class families that don’t have a need for state-funded social services,” said Andrea Durbin, the chief executive of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, an association for providers of youth and family services.

“The people who get impacted are the people who are sick, who need the support from the state to be safe and healthy and get back on their feet and become self-sufficient, or to live their final days in dignity,” Ms. Durbin said.
Too bad the same can't be said for the state...

Don't Call It A Loan

Bernie Sanders insists his wife isn't a crook:
Sanders’ wife is accused of falsifying the loan application while serving as President of the Burlington College to secure funds for a campus expansion. The college only generated an annual endowment of $4 million, and it inevitably went bankrupt. Jane Sanders hired two high-priced attorneys last week from Washington to represent her in the case. The media largely ignored the issue during last year’s presidential primary, but The Daily Caller News Foundation closely followed the situation in March 2015.

Hayes confirmed that Bernie Sanders and his wife had retained legal counsel, and asked point blank if he had abused his senatorial power to obtain the loan.

“And do you know where that allegation came from? That allegation came from the vice-chairman of the Vermont Republican party and Donald Trump’s Vermont campaign state director,” Bernie Sanders replied. “That is an absolute lie.”
Until it's proven otherwise...

Footing The Climate Change Bill

Climate change taxes for thee, not for me:
In a recent report from the Rasmussen Poll titled, “Are Voters Willing To Pay To Combat Global Warming?”, a national telephone survey of registered voters found only 6 percent of Americans are willing to pay $1,000 or more annually in higher taxes and utility costs to subsidize the cost of adding more sustainable energy to fight global warming.

26 percent are willing to pay $300 a year, or $25 per month; another 24 percent are only willing to pay $100 a year, or $8.33 per month; 41 percent of Americans are not willing to pay anything more, or $0.00 per month; and 3 percent gave no answer.

The Hollywood forum’s supposed demonstration of bipartisanship conveniently never highlighted the additional costs Californians already pay to subsidize sustainable energy.
Going green always requires somebody else's green...

The Pronoun Police

They are here:
The chart provided by the police in Halton — which is just south of Toronto — included tips for using newfangled pronouns such as “ze-hir-hir,” “ze-zem-zir” and “ey-eir-em” in sentences. (You know, in case you’re ever in the mood to observe that “Ze went to the store to buy hirself a hat. I saw him wearing hir hat today,” as one example notes.)

While the tweet didn’t note consequences for failing to use preferred pronouns, it comes after the Canadian Senate passed bill C-16, which would prohibit discrimination against transgenders and protect them against hate speech and hate crimes, the Globe and Mail reported.

But just exactly what constitutes “discrimination” and “hate speech” has many folks worried about free speech disappearing. The bill still must be approved by the governor general before becoming law.
This being Canada, at least they'll be polite about enforcing this nonsense...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Fantasy Impeachment Island

Wishing won't make it so:
Is it possible that Trump’s presidency will end in Nixonian disgrace? Sure. But there’s a much greater likelihood that it won’t, that Rich’s prediction will age about as well as Van Jones’ March 1 proclamation that Donald Trump “became president last night,” or Fareed Zakaria’s proclamation on April 7 that Donald Trump “became president last night.” If Trump somehow lurches through four or eight years, history will view the left’s starry-eyed Watergate dreams as in the same genre of smug as Clinton acolytes’ cockiness going into the final stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign. Litanies of Trump-Nixon comparisons amount to little more than fantasy, wastes of precious time that could have been better used on reality.
Donald Trump is not Richard Nixon, and 1973 is not 2017.
Fantasy is the last refuge of the desperate...

Who Killed Reform?

If they can't do one, what about the other?
A day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delayed a vote on a bill to scrap much of Democrat Barack Obama's health law, questions lingered about whether congressional Republicans could pass big, complicated pieces of legislation.
"The whole idea is to do health care first because you gain an advantage there to go on and do tax reform," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. "We've sort of bollixed that up, but I'm encouraged."
Senators were still struggling Wednesday to reach an agreement on key parts of the health bill before they leave Washington for a week-long recess. Moderates complained that too many people would lose coverage while conservatives said the bill wouldn't do enough to lower insurance premiums.
It is important for Congress to resolve the health bill before moving on to a tax overhaul.
Here's why: The health bill provides nearly $1 trillion in tax cuts that won't add to the nation's mounting debt. Republicans are counting on those tax cuts to help them write a new tax code that raises less money.
Also, Republicans are using a complicated rule that enables the Senate to pass both a health bill and a tax package with a simple majority, preventing Senate Democrats from blocking the legislation. Under the rule, Congress has to resolve health care — by either passing a bill or killing it — before lawmakers can pass a tax package.
"They need to resolve health care one way or another before they do tax reform," said Rohit Kumar, a former tax counsel for McConnell who is now with PwC.
Assuming that even gets done...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Time Off

They're only not doing their jobs:
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Wednesday that the House would no longer be expected to hold votes this Friday, cutting their work week short and allowing lawmakers to head home early for the week-long Independence Day recess.
This is the second time this month McCarthy has canceled a planned Friday session. At the start of the year, House leaders had anticipated spending this time period advancing a tax overhaul, but now they're not expecting such legislation to start moving until the fall.
House Republicans have also moved back an already delayed timetable for advancing a fiscal 2018 budget resolution and appropriations bills. Intraparty squabbling over using the budget reconciliation process to push cuts to mandatory spending continues to hold up an agreement on a budget resolution. House leaders also plan on using the reconciliation process to push their tax overhaul.
Congress-it's good non-work if you can get it...

Squared Circle Politics

Here is your winner, again:
Many expected Gianforte, who was running to fill Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vacant house seat in a May 25 special election, to lose after he grabbed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs by the neck and threw him to the ground.

Instead, Gianforte won the election by a six percent margin and raised more than $100,000 on election day, according to campaign disclosures first reported by The Guardian.

The election day donations totaled more than the previous five days of fundraising combined, a rare feat in political fundraising since a campaign can’t do much with donations on the day of the election.
They do say that politics can be a blood sport, complete with pay per view events?

Some Incomes Are Less Unequel Than Others

Meeting poor people does not make others want to subsidize them:
According to the data, which was published Wednesday, only 6 percent of people would sign the petition after passing a poor-looking white actor on the street. By comparison, 14 percent signed the same petition when they passed an affluent-looking white actor.

The petitions were held by students who were placed just feet away from the actors.

Nothing changed when the same test was conducted with poor- and affluent-looking black actors. In addition, support for a different cause, eliminating plastic bags, remained constant regardless of the socio-economic status of the actors involved.

Sands’ study was one of the first to utilize income inequality in a real-world setting to determine people’s openness to higher taxes.

“One way this study departs from what’s been done previously is that this is the first study to experimentally manipulate inequality in the real world,” Sands said. “Most prior studies used a survey approach, in which they would show participants a chart or provide them with some information, and then ask questions.

“This is a big departure from that,” she continued, “because we’re creating what I call ‘microsettings’ of inequality.”

Sands sought to explain why the results were different from what she anticipated. She said the fact that people only received “momentary exposure” to the poor- and affluent-looking actors influenced their decision-making.

“In this study, people are not stopping and talking to the person, they’re not spending the day volunteering in a homeless shelter or seeing how the other half lives,” the doctoral student said. “It’s a momentary exposure … so I think the effect I’m finding here is something that just occurs in the moment, and with repeated exposure we might actually see the effect reverse.”
Or, maybe not...

Don't Help Us, Please

You shouldn't try to save those who don't need to be saved:
The reversal came after state lawmakers spoke with the workers whose wages the November referendum tried to raise. Many of the workers they talked with said they didn’t support raising the minimum wage because it would have the opposite effect and, in fact, lower their take-home pay.

Critics of a higher minimum wage for tipped workers argued that, if wages increased, prices would go up and customers would spend more but tip less.

Other critics argued that customers simply won’t tip if they know that servers already are paid minimum wage.

“The message we are hearing from servers is, ‘Thanks for trying to help us, but you’re not helping us; you’re hurting us, please don’t do this to us,” state Sen. Roger Katz, a Republican from Augusta, told the Portland Press Herald.
Real wage earners know better than wage hikers...

Name Givers

The name stays the same:
In the case of Matal v. Tam, an Asian-American music band was denied a trademark right because their band name included a racial epithet. But “The Slants” band leader Simon Tam sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and won a unanimous decision when the case went to the Supreme Court.

The patent office claimed the band name violated their rule against trademarks that “disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

The Supreme Court ruled sided with Tam, who said the intension of the name was not to insult or offend anyone.

And the Department of Justice shut down their case against the Washington Redskins in light of the Supreme Court decision.
Offense is in the eye of the beholder...

Fear And Loathing In Fake News

It's hard out there for a liar:
Speaking at the Aspen Ideas conference, Goldberg said that a “large” attack on journalists is his biggest concern. “The problem is, and this is what I worry about more than anything else, is that there are people in the country who don’t understand that this is a cynical reality TV game and are going to hear over and over again from the president that reporters, journalists are enemies of the state,” Goldberg told panel host Katie Couric. “And someone, I mean God forbid, someone is going to do something violent against journalists in a large way, and then I know where the fault lies. And we’re heading in this direction, and it’s quite frightening.”
Lies have consequences...

Dazed And Confused

Maybe it IS time for her to call it quits:

Not Their Party Anymore

As Democrats abandon middle America, middle America dumps them:
MOULTON: Look, a lot of the things they say about her are not true, and they’re not fair, but they’re nonetheless effective. And I think people look at our party right now as really out of touch with most of America. And when you have a party leadership that is out of touch with the rest of the country, then that’s a real problem for the entire party.

SIEGEL: Out of touch because she’s from San Francisco and her number two is from just outside Washington, D.C.? Is that the problem – geographical?

MOULTON: Well, some people – some people say that. But look, the question is – what do we do to fix this? What do we do to show that we are a big tent party that wants to include everybody in America?

SIEGEL: Well, who doesn’t feel – who today doesn’t feel they have a place under the tent?

MOULTON: Well, I think we need to show people that they have a place in the Democratic Party whether they come from San Francisco or St. Louis. Clearly, if you look at the congressional map, we’re doing very well on the coasts and we’re not doing very well in vast swaths of the country, even despite having policies that are very good for a lot of folks that we think should be voting for us yet consistently choose to vote for Republicans.
The question is, does "flyover country" still want a place with the Blues?

An Inconvenient Conversation

Rick Perry just wants to talk:
“The climate is changing. Man is having an impact on it,” Perry said. “I’ve said that time after time — the idea that we can’t have an intellectual conversation about just what are the actual impacts?”

Perry brought up that former Obama administration DOE undersecretary and agricultural scientist Steve Koontz also believed that a conversation about climate change, and man’s impact, was an important conversation to have, since he also did not believe the science on climate change was settled.

“Why not have a conversation about that? What is the other side, the people who say ‘the science is settled? It’s done. If you don’t believe that, you’re a skeptic, a Luddite,'” Perry said. ” I don’t buy that. This is America. Have a conversation. Let’s come out of the shadows of hiding behind your political statements and let’s talk about it. What’s wrong with that? I can be convinced, but why not let’s talk about it?”
Because they don't want to...

Whatever Happened To Real News?

While the media weren't paying attention, something else was going on:
Earlier this week, Fox News reported that the mainstream media has largely ignored the inquiry into former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, while they've continued to extensively report on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

From June 23 to 25, ABC News reported on Lynch for a total of 31 seconds. Meantime, NBC News and CBS News gave the story no time at all.

During that same time period, the networks devoted extensive time to the Trump-Russia probe. ABC News covered the story for 14 minutes and 22 seconds, NBC News did for 11 minutes and 42 seconds, and CBS News did for 19 minutes and nine seconds.
It's been their not so magnificent obsession...

The Scalia Legacy Lives On

Democrats are apparently quite worried:
Feinstein told POLITICO she’d looked at Gorsuch’s early rulings and saw no sign of moderation from conservative orthodoxy. “Right down the line. Everything — everything,” she said. “I’m surprised that it’s so comprehensive.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — a former Supreme Court clerk — said Gorsuch’s early record on the court is in tension with the humble and evenhanded approach he touted during his confirmation hearings in March.

“In a way, I’m surprised that he hasn’t demonstrated more independence. I am surprised because in his demeanor and his tone he really made a huge effort to show his openness — which some of us thought might be more an act than it was a real persona,” Blumenthal said, before adding: “So far, I have to say, I’m disappointed.”
Aren't they always?

The Church Of Zuckerberg

All hail Satan, er, Zuckerberg?
“People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity — not just because they’re religious, but also because they’re a part of a community,” he said during a rally last week in Chicago for Facebook users who’ve built online community-support groups, CNBC reported. “So that’s why it is so striking that over the past few decades, membership in all kinds of communities around the world has been declining, in a lot of places by as much as one-quarter. That’s a lot of of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.”

Churches have seen a decline in numbers. According to Church Leadership, church membership dropped almost 10 percent in the 1980s, fell another 12 percent in the 1990s — with some denominations reporting a 40 percent membership drop — and the early 2000s saw an even further decline.

“So this is our challenge,” Zuckerberg said. “We have to build a world where every single person has a sense of purpose and community.”
You will be assimilated...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Government Waters Run Deep

Waters can now flow free:
The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers said they would withdraw Obama's 2015 "waters of the United States" — or WOTUS — regulation, which expanded the number of waterways covered by the federal Clean Water Act. The agencies described a withdrawal process as an interim step and promised a broader review of which waters should fall under federal jurisdiction.

"We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and businesses," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, adding that the re-evaluation would be "thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public."

The EPA and the Army Corps said dismantling the Obama rule would not change existing practices because the measure has been stayed by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in response to opponents' lawsuits.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the move showed "the West has won in the battle over the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule.

"This regulation would have been a disaster for rural communities in the West and across the country, giving Washington near-total control over water resources," Ryan added. "The livelihoods of American farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs were at stake."
A man's waters are still part of his castle...

Lotto Losers

No more lotto for them:
Powerball ticket sales will be suspended at 9 p.m. Wednesday, while the Mega Millions sales will be suspended at 9:45 p.m. on Friday.

Greg Smith, the Acting Director of the Illinois Lottery, wants money that lottery players win to actually be available as part of the state budget.

Lottery players “should be confident knowing the Illinois lottery has the money to pay these winning claims,” Smith told KWQC. “That means the General Assembly needs to approve a truly balanced budget that includes Lottery funding in order to ensure all prize payments will occur.”
They gambled, and the state lost...

Fascist Fitness Gurus

Anti-fascist fascist thugs are now working out:
The gym serves two purposes — to train Antifa members to fight “white supremacy” and to combat “hetero-normative, masculine gym culture,” creating a safe space for those who feel threatened by “Trump’s America” and traditional gyms at large.

“A lot of people think that when you learn how to fight it’s all about being aggressive and learning about how to go start fights with people. That’s not what we’re about at all,” one of the Haymaker members says about the “gym” and its goals.

Another adds, “We’re really investing into the capacities for our bodies to just be stronger, because at the end of the day stronger people are harder to kill.”

One of the members, off camera, notes that “all are welcome” in the organization — except for select groups.

“Except police people that are affiliated with, uh, strong right-wing groups,” the man says.
They can train their bodies all they want; it's not going to improve their minds...

Fusion Confusion

Just who were they working for, anyway?
Fusion hired former British spy Christopher Steele to research Trump’s Russia connections. He produced a series of memos now known collectively as the dossier. The salacious document, much of which has been debunked, was leaked to numerous news outlets and published by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary committee, has taken an interest in the Democratic dossier donor’s identity, largely because the FBI used the document as part of the basis for its investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

“When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics,” Grassley wrote in a March 24 letter to Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and owner of Fusion GPS.
Even the opposition needs spies...

Who Are You?

Who are the Democrats?
Democrats trying to figure out what they’re doing wrong are focused on how they’ve seemingly lost a significant part of the Democratic base all while failing to turn out enough progressives.

There are different views about what to do across the party, with some questioning whether the white working-class voters can be won back by a party that seems to be tilting leftward with the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other liberal voices.

“I’ve spoken to some folks who think we have to only choose one or the other,” said one former senior aide to President Barack Obama. “And after this election cycle, I think there are some who believe there may be some truth to that.”
The wilderness is vast, and has many wanderers...

The Lying News Network

CNN has major egg on its face, but they're hardly alone:
Over and over, major U.S. media outlets have published claims about the Russia Threat that turned out to be completely false — always in the direction of exaggerating the threat and/or inventing incriminating links between Moscow and the Trump circle. In virtually all cases, those stories involved evidence-free assertions from anonymous sources that these media outlets uncritically treated as fact, only for it to be revealed that they were entirely false.
It's a liar's club, and they're all members...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Wage Hike Slaves

Who could have seen this coming?
The working poor are making more per hour but taking home less pay. The University of Washington paper asserts the new wages boosted worker pay by 3 percent, but also resulted in a 9-percent reduction in hours and a $125 cut to the monthly paychecks.

The law also cost the city 5,000 jobs, the report said.

Seattle's minimum wage ordinance, passed by the Seattle City Council and signed by Mayor Ed Murray in 2014, was sold as a way to close the income inequality gap and help those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder. More than a dozen cities and counties, mostly in California and New York, followed suit.

"This is a two-edged sword," said Jacob Vigdor, one of the team of researchers studying the issues for Seattle. "And if you raise this minimum wage the way Seattle did you run the risk of actually taking money away from the people you are trying to help."
Why do socialists hate the working class?

Family Business Pays

Corruption is all relative:
The amended bylaws for the foundation’s Articles of Incorporation in the state of Arkansas created the unpaid permanent board positions for former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, their daughter. Mrs. Clinton resigned from the board in April 2015 in her unsuccessful pursuit of the presidency.

“Category B” directors, who make up the majority of the current 11-member board, serve terms of up to three years, according to the amendment text provided by the foundation to officials in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Tax-exempt non-profits like the Clinton Foundation are expected by the IRS to maintain a high degree of independence among members of their governing boards. The foundation’s 2015 annual revenue was $109 million, a 37 percent decline from the previous year, according to the non-profit’s most recently published IRS Form 990 tax return.
Keep your friends close, and their money closer...

Bring Out Your Dead Voters

He was just following standard Democratic Party procedure:
Andrew J. Spiels worked for a Democrat-affiliated organization known as Harrisonburg Votes at the time he committed the crime, according to acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle .

“In July 2016 Spieles’ job was to register as many voters as possible and reported to Democratic Campaign headquarters in Harrisonburg,” a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson told CBS6. “In August 2016, Spieles was directed to combine his registration numbers with those of another individual because their respective territories overlapped. After filling out a registration form for a voter, Spieles entered the information into a computer system used by the Virginia Democratic Party to track information such as name, age, address and political affiliation. Every Thursday an employee/volunteer hand-delivered the paper copies of the registration forms to the Registrar’s Office in Harrisonburg.”

A staffer at the registrar’s office recognized a name on one of the registration forms submitted was the deceased father of a nearby county judge. At that point, the registrar’s office found numerous instances of “similarly falsified forms” after going through additional registrations.

“Some were in the names of deceased individuals while others bore incorrect middle names, birth dates, and social security numbers,” the spokesperson said. “The Registrar’s Office learned that the individuals named in these forms had not in fact submitted the new voter registrations. The assistant registrar’s personal knowledge of the names of some of the individuals named in the falsified documents facilitated the detection of the crime.”
Now how are they going to win votes?

Priorities And Paranoia

What do voters really care about?
“We can’t just talk about Russia because people back in Ohio aren’t really talking that much about Russia, about Putin, about Michael Flynn,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) said on MSNBC this week. “They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to make the mortgage payment, how they’re going to pay for their kids to go to college, what their energy bill looks like.”

Ryan, who recently launched a campaign to remove Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from her post, said, “if we don’t talk more about their interest than we do about how we’re so angry with Donald Trump and everything that’s going on, then we’re never going to be able to win elections.”

In Minnesota, a state Trump lost by 1.5 percent, gubernatorial candidate and Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) says the state’s residents simply aren’t concerned with the Russia-Trump investigation that has consumed Washington, DC.

“I did a 22-county tour. Nobody’s focusing on that,” Walz said, according to The Hill. “That’s not to say that they don’t think Russia and those things are important, [but] it’s certainly not top on their minds.”
Obviously they're being brainwashed to forget by the Russians...

Escapees In The Attic

Whatever happened to the people trying to escape Trump?
Refugee claims are taking longer to be completed than at any time in the past five years, according to previously unpublished Immigration and Refugee Board data provided to Reuters. Those wait times are set to grow longer after the IRB in April allocated “up to half” of its 127 tribunal members to focus on old cases. The number of delayed hearings more than doubled from 2015 to 2016 and is on track to increase again this year.

Hearings are crucial to establishing a claimant’s legal status in Canada. Without that status, they struggle to convince employers to hire them or landlords to rent to them. Claimants cannot access loans or student financial aid, or update academic or professional credentials to meet Canadian standards.

Canada's refugee system was struggling to process thousands of applications even before 3,500 asylum seekers began crossing the U.S. border on foot in January. It lacks the manpower to complete security screenings for claimants and hear cases in a timely manner. Often there are not enough tribunal members to decide cases or interpreters to attend hearings, the IRB said.

More than 4,500 hearings scheduled in the first four months of 2017 were canceled, according to the IRB data.
They're neither here nor there, but if Canada wants them...

Orders From The Court

Trump gets a win:
The administration has said the 90-day ban was needed on national security grounds to allow an internal review of screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries. Opponents say the ban is unlawful, based on visitors' Muslim religion. The administration review should be complete before Oct. 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.
A 120-day ban on refugees also is being allowed to take effect on a limited basis.
Three of the court's conservative justices said they would have let the complete bans take effect.
Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, said the government has shown it is likely to succeed on the merits of the case, and that it will suffer irreparable harm with any interference. Thomas said the government's interest in preserving national security outweighs any hardship to people denied entry into the country.
Some immigration lawyers said the limited nature of the ban and the silence of the court's liberals on the issue Monday suggested that the court had not handed Trump much of a victory. They said relatively few people would fall under the ban because people coming to study, work or visit family members in the United States already have sufficient relationships with others already is in the country.
Trump, though, hailed the high court's order as a "clear victory for our national security." He said in a statement that his "number one responsibility" is to keep the American people safe.
It helps when you have a friendly court...

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...

Creative Labeling

What do we call liberal arts? The word “liberal” is “politically charged,” the polling group’s essay says, “and ‘arts’ has a negative connot...