Monday, August 21, 2017

There Goes The Sun

Here comes the eclipse:

Here Comes The Judge

A judge has taken a big step in making the IRS more accountable:
The targeting scandal drew much attention in 2013 when the IRS, headed at the time by Lois Lerner, admitted it was applying extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.

“That was wrong,” Lerner said at the time in the press. “That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. ... The IRS would like to apologize for that.”

But director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch Chris Farrell, whose organization is also involved in litigation with the IRS on this issue, told Fox News that the IRS owes litigants “real accountability.”

“This was creepy, chilling stuff,” Farrell told Fox News. “Judge Walton has accomplished more with one ruling than all of the rest of the federal government—all three branches—over the last six years.”
Sometimes all it takes is one...

The Wilderness Brigade

Even Joe Scarborough admits it:

Gruber Gets Got

The Architect is out:
Under the terms of the settlement, Gruber will no longer work as a taxpayer-funded economic consultant for the state’s health care system and he won’t seek to be paid any money he might be owed, reports the Rutland Herald, a Vermont newspaper.

For its part under the agreement, the Vermont’s attorney general will not pursue legal action under the Vermont Civil False Claims Act.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced the settlement on Friday after state investigators wrapped up an inquiry into Gruber’s billing practices.

Officials in Vermont had hired Gruber as an economic consultant to assess, examine and provide economic models for a now-abandoned plan to roll out a single-payer health care system across the tiny state.

The single-payer health care scheme, called Green Mountain Care, was the brainchild of former Gov. Pete Shumlin.
Not so great minds think alike...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Climate By Committee Is Dead

Donald Trump does away with another do-nothing committee, causing liberal outrage everywhere:
The skinny
The panel, aptly named, “Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment,” is a 15-member panel comprised of people from different backgrounds whose purpose was to simplify the findings of the National Climate Assessment for people in and out of the government, according to The Hill.

Ben Friedman, acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, informed the committee on Friday that its charter would not be renewed, according to the Washington Post.

The National Climate Assessment was intended to be updated and released every four years, but only three reports have been released since 1990. The next report was due to be released next year.

Former President Barack Obama established the committee in 2015.

The controversy
There was controversy surrounding the panel earlier this month after the New York Times reported that next year’s report had been leaked to them. However, the reported wasn’t leaked and it had been publicly available for months.

The Times seized on the opportunity to posture the Trump administration in a negative light because the report concluded that human activities were causing a rise in global temperatures. The Times’ report quoted scientists who suggested the Trump administration was trying to suppress the report. However, that was proven false.
Why pay liars when you don't have to?

The King Of Comedy

RIP Jerry Lewis:
Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after World War II with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Mr. Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Mr. Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.

After his break with Mr. Martin in 1956, Mr. Lewis went on to a successful solo career, eventually writing, producing and directing many of his own films.

As a spokesman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Mr. Lewis raised vast sums for charity; as a filmmaker of great personal force and technical skill, he made many contributions to the industry, including the invention in 1960 of a device — the video assist, which allowed directors to review their work immediately on the set — still in common use.

A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Mr. Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.
He never stopped going, and maybe still is:

Thumbing For The Gold

Finally: Video games at the Olympics?
According to Associated Press, Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, will hold talks with the IOC and eSports officials on the matter. He believes a competition involving digital skills should be considered, especially if they’re going to appeal to a younger generation of fans. Estanguet says the discussions will help everyone understand why competitive gaming has been successful, Associated Press reports.

The eSports market is expected to make $696 million in revenue this year and rise to $1.48 billion by 2020, according to Business Insider. Its total audience is expected to grow from 385 million in 2019 to 589 million over the next three years.

The talks are set to begin in 2019, according to the Associated Press. The Paris program will be finalized by the IOC shortly after the 2020 Olympics, giving eSports supports ample time to lobby their cause.
World of Warcraft for the Gold?

Blogging In The Years: 1982

What it's like to get lost in an eclipse:
You do not see the moon. So near the sun, it is as completely invisible as the stars are by day. What you see before your eyes is the sun going through phases. It gets narrower and narrower, as the waning moon does, and, like the ordinary moon, it travels alone in the simple sky. The sky is of course background. It does not appear to eat the sun; it is far behind the sun. The sun simply shaves away; gradually, you see less sun and more sky.


The sky’s blue was deepening, but there was no darkness. The sun was a wide crescent, like a segment of tangerine. The wind freshened and blew steadily over the hill. The eastern hill across the highway grew dusky and sharp. The towns and orchards in the valley to the south were dissolving into the blue light. Only the thin river held a trickle of sun.

Now the sky to the west deepened to indigo, a color never seen. A dark sky usually loses color. This was a saturated, deep indigo, up in the air. Stuck up into that unworldly sky was the cone of Mount Adams, and the alpenglow was upon it. The alpenglow is that red light of sunset which holds out on snowy mountaintops long after the valleys and tablelands are dimmed. “Look at Mount Adams,” I said, and that was the last sane moment I remember.
The moon may not be blue, but there is blue light nonetheless...

Frank Lloyd Wright's Last Island Dream

What would Frank Lloyd Wright have done with Ellis Island?
What Wright proposed was a city of the future. On the square, grassy foundation of Ellis Island, Wright placed another grassy round second level in something of a large-scale Lazy Susan that hovered over the island.
On top of that piece would sit everything a modern community could ever need. Apartments were situated in towers that had long suspension cables extending from their roofs down to the edge of the island.
Visitors could stay at the 500-room hotel, while glass-domed structures dotted around the island would house a theater, planetarium, nightclubs, restaurants, shops, banks, a hospital, a library, a sports stadium, a church, and more.
A swimming pool was cordoned off in the sea, moving sidewalks were placed around the community, and up to 450 boats could dock on the sides of the island under cover from the top piece of land.
“It’s incredible. It’s a little nuts,” Sam Lubell, co-author of Never Built New York, told The Daily Beast. “It’s sort of the part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career where he had really been seduced by futurism, and some of it’s a little over the top, but it’s also extremely interesting and intricate and kind of wonderful, something that never gets old this whole idea of ebullient futurism.”
Perhaps some things are better left unbuilt...

The Writer's Best Friend

Why the typewriter still matters:
In a scene about half-way through the film, Shepard, in what will surely be one of, if not his last onscreen performance after his July 27 death, is sitting in his indexed library in front of a vintage Swiss-made Hermes 3000 typewriter essentially bleeding his heart out over his keyboard. He talks of apparitions and magic, and then apologizes for sounding “all hocus-pocus” about the experience and solitude of being alone with his typewriter as his one true writing companion.
He speaks lovingly about the feel of the keys under his fingers and the ‘splat’ of the ink as the letter hammer hits the paper. “When you are going to go ride a horse, you have to saddle it,” he says. “When you are going to use a typewriter, you have to feed it paper. There is a percussion about it. You can see the ink flying onto the surface of the paper.”
But what he really captures is the companionship a good typewriter offers to its owner, which even the latest version of Siri can never provide. “I feel my great strength as a writer is being alone,” he says poignantly, grazing the keys of his Hermes. “Aloneness is a condition of writing.” Alone, of course, with his typewriter.
Sometimes all you need is a little creative, mechanical companionship...

Elvis Who?

Remember the King?
Before long we may have more Elvis imitators than Elvis fans.
Unlike, say, Johnny Cash, his fellow Sun Records alumnus, Elvis never caught on in a big way with the generations born after he died. But then, Cash was perennially cool in a way Elvis was not.
Elvis’ appeal was more mysterious. First of all, it wasn’t merely about his music, at least not after the first few years. After he left the army and went to Hollywood and Vegas, the music became just another facet of the empire that his manager, Col. Tom Parker, built and ran off Elvis’ back for more than two decades. There would be more good songs (“Suspicious Minds,” “Burnin’ Love,” best jukebox song ever), but long before he died nobody thought of Elvis as anything but this weird cat in a class all his own.
Is Elvis really eternal, or just generational?

Russian Cash Cow

Don't tell the Democrats:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has accepted more than $60,000 in small donations from Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born energy billionaire with ties to Russian oligarchs, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation examination of the Democrat’s financial disclosure reports .

Blavatnik plowed $25,000 into Schneiderman’s political war chest in January of 2017 – his generous contribution was one of the largest individual donations given to the New York Democrat this year. Blavatnik had previously donated $38,000 to the anti-Trump lawman from 2011 to 2014.

Schneiderman’s office has not responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment in time for the publication of this article.

His fundraising efforts highlighted various legal challenges against the president have earned Schneiderman $1.7 million in contributions during the first half of this year, Politico reported in July. Schneiderman’s first half of contributions were consistent with the $1.6 million he reported in January.
Looking for fake Russians with the help of real Russians is good work if you can get it...

Bottle Backers

Plastic bottles are back:
“While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park, particularly during hot summer visitation periods,” Acting National Park Service (NPS) Director Michael Reynolds said in a statement released Wednesday.

A 2011 directive from the Obama administration allowed park officials to ban the sale of water bottles at national parks but allowed bottled soft drinks and juices.

The purpose of the directive was to reduce the sale of plastic bottles throughout the National Park System.

Park Service officials said that only 23 of the 417 national parks in the system, adding that the policy took away “the healthiest beverage choice” available to visitors.
It's all water under the park bridge now...

Water Vapor Trails

Defying the...water authority?
It began when a person by the name of Blake Albert tweeted a short video of himself vaping near a city utility vehicle to appear “gangster.” He tweeted the video at the Lawrence Police Department, presumably because he thought the car he posed in front of was a cop car.

But it wasn’t — and Lawrence PD was quick to inform him.

“I’m sorry Blake, this is awkward, but that’s not a police car. You vaped in front of a water service vehicle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯,” the police department tweeted.
It's a clear case of H20 brutality...

Saved By A Hair

Haircuts are now racist:
The man aimed for his head over his car door, but Witt blocked the blow with his hand, which needed three stitches.

“I threw my hands up and once the knife kind of hit, I dived back into my car and shut the door and watched him run off west, behind my car."

Witt, who is in no way a neo-Nazi, joked that he believes it was indeed his haircut that confused the anti-fascist, and said he's considering changing his style. He has no other marks that would make his attacker mistake him for a white nationalist, he said.

“Apparently, my haircut is considered a neo-Nazi statement,” he told The New York Post.
Sometimes a haircut is just a haircut...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

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 connotation regarding improving graduates’ job prospects.”

“The words ‘liberal’ and ‘arts’ just don’t resonate in the minds of far too many Americans, especially those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.”

In support of its claim, Gallup cites data indicating that a majority of Republicans believe higher education is detrimental to the nation. Specifically, a majority of Republicans voters and those voters who lean toward the GOP say they are apprehensive about the value of a college education because they believe the campus environment is “too liberal.” (Majorities of GOP voters do not cite cost or career prospects as reasons for apprehension.)

Also, Gallup notes, a recent poll shows that a large percentage of U.S. parents who have children currently in middle school or high school say they believe “no college at all” is more likely to lead to a good job than a “liberal arts degree.”
Perhaps that's because most jobs require a real degree?

A Tax By Any Other Name

Where do they get these ideas?
Recently, the Daily News and Washington Times reported that party leadership is considering replacing the failed border adjustment tax with revenue raisers from former Rep. Dave Camp’s (D-MI) 2014 tax reform plan. Allegedly, one of the top contenders for replacement is his old advertising tax provision, which would scrap advertising’s full deductibility as a business expense and make it only half deductible, with the other half being amortized over a ten-year period.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) are too smart to let this tax go into their soon to be released tax reform proposal. If it arises, they must use their knowledge and instincts to kill the provision, because passing such a tax would undoubtedly be political and economic suicide.
....

By holding back Americans’ money for over a decade, the Camp ad tax proposal would be violating that amendment by essentially making free speech a dollar and cents game. Only those who could afford to do without the money would be able to continue.

It’s clearly unconstitutional, and as constitutional scholar Bruce Fein at Huffington Post and litigation attorney Christopher Cooke at The Hill have detailed, there’s plenty of Supreme Court precedent to prove it. Under the plan, advertising would be treated worse than every other business expense that receives full expensing, making it a clear violation of the First Amendment that would lead to the bankrupting of local newspapers and radio stations. This would keep communities in the dark about what’s going on around them, all while adding more monopoly strength to the already-powerful cable news giants. Essentially, it would do exactly what our founding fathers tried to prevent.
Censorship by tax? Leave it to politicians to be this dumb...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Corruption Pays

If you were a crook before, the IRS is willing to rehire you:
According to the document, 13 of those rehired employees had previously been terminated from the IRS for falsifying employment forms, and both official and unofficial documents. Two of those employees had repetitively falsified employment forms by omitting prior convictions or terminations, TIGTA found.

Four of the 213 rehired employees were previously terminated or resigned for “willful failure to properly file their Federal tax returns,” and another 15 separated from the agency for various other tax issues.

Another four of those who were rehired by the IRS had previously separated from the federal agency while under investigation for unauthorized accesses to taxpayer information, while TIGTA cited 86 employees as having separated due to absence and leave, workplace disruption, or failure to follow instructions.
Being a government employee means never having to worry about really losing your job...

Bannon Begone

Steve Bannon is history:
The White House confirmed in a brief statement that Bannon, a hardcore populist who often sparred with his West Wing colleagues, would make Friday his last day -- just over a year after he joined the Trump presidential campaign.

"White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."

One White House aide told Fox News the departure was a long time coming, and that Bannon actually submitted his resignation in writing two weeks ago.
This would have been just days after Kelly joined as chief of staff. Kelly was said to have been the driving force in the ouster of former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and speculation swiftly centered on Bannon as the next one to go.

Sources say Bannon has become increasingly isolated in the White House. Adding to the pressure, some critics also publicly attacked Bannon in the wake of last weekend's Charlottesville violence, in which a counter-protester was killed at a white nationalist rally. Trump came under intense criticism for his response to that violence, and some blamed Bannon for the tone -- though it's unclear how much influence he had in Trump's remarks.
And now, apparently, no more...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Portrait Of A President

John Quincy Adams in black and white:
Adams, who sat for more than 60 portraits over the course of his life, was intrigued by the uncanny likenesses produced by the new medium of photography, even if he wasn’t always charmed by the results. In his diary on March 8, 1843, he recorded his first visit to the Washington studio of Philip Haas, where he sat for three daguerreotypes. (Daguerreotypes, which are made directly onto chemically treated plates, are unique objects; no negatives are involved.)

“The operation is performed in half a minute; but is yet altogether incomprehensible to me,” Adams wrote. “It would seem as easy to stamp a fixed portrait from the reflection of a mirror; but how wonderful would that reflection itself be, if we were not familiarized to it from childhood.”

He returned a week later, interrupting a sitting of his friend Horace Everett, a congressman from Vermont. Adams sat for three more daguerreotypes, according to his diary, and at some point gave one of them to Everett.
The daguerreotypes make the man...

Time To Pay The Payers

A judge rules that it's time for the IRS to come clean:
IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner initially said the problem was rogue employees at an Ohio office who botched the handling. But subsequent investigations revealed that IRS officials at the highest levels of Washington were aware of the delays and extra scrutiny.
Some applications are still awaiting approval, though the IRS as of late last month had agreed to a process for deciding on one of the key outstanding cases.
Still, some tea party groups say they feel they are being treated unfairly.
Carly Gammill, a lawyer at the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing some of the groups in the lawsuits, told Judge Walton that they are concerned about an email sent by IRS employees during the initial targeting speculating that they would approve applications but would review them later for follow-ups.
“We suspect we will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications,” Holly Paz, a top Lerner aide, said in one 2011 email. “We will also refer these organizations to the Review of operations for follow-up in a later year.”
Ms. Gammill said the case against the IRS has been open for four years and that it’s time the agency explain what it did and whether it’s still treating tea party applications differently.
An explanation is long overdue...

Avert Your Eyes

Some things are best left unseen:
In just the past month, residents in California, Kansas, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, Houston, and Nevada have been shocked to see naked and agitated men in their neighborhoods, acting in bizarre and, in some cases, threatening manners.

On Wednesday, a suspected car thief led police on a chase that ended in a standoff "when the man climbed a crane at the Port of Los Angeles and got naked."
....

In Lawrence, Kansas, earlier this month, "scores of people" were left speechless when 34-year-old Kyle Carlson nonchalantly decided to walk down the street completely in the buff. Carlson was promptly arrested, but immediately shed his clothes again when he was let out of jail later in the day.
The nude apocalypse?

Pardon Time?

Does Julian Assange really have the inside scoop?
"He reaffirmed his aggressive denial that the Russians had anything to do with the hacking of the DNC during the election," Rohrabacher told the Orange County Register. "He has given us a lot of information. He said there's more to come. We don't have the entire picture yet."

Assange "emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails," according to a statement from Rohrabacher's office.

Rohrabacher, a former Reagan White House communications aide, is an outspoken defender of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of the Democrats' top targets for the 2018 midterm elections. He is a fervent supporter of President Trump, who has also cast doubt on whether Russia was involved in the 2016 election meddling.

Speaking of the information he says he obtained from Assange, Rohrabacher told the Register it would have "an earth-shattering political impact. It wouldn't be so important if Democrats hadn't focused so inordinately on the Russians. Democrats are creating a total upheaval over this."
Will Assange create even more upheaval for them? We'll see.

Blade Runners

That's not a knife:
In a twist on typical open-carry laws that deal with guns, Texas starting Sept. 1 will end its ban on the open-carry of any blade longer than five-and-a-half inches.

“Some other states are looking at us as a return to the old Wild West,” said Dianna Knipp, owner of Charlie’s Knife Shop in El Paso.

The new law, while drawing some attention in the press, has stayed relatively under the radar. Some Texas residents Fox News spoke with didn’t know about the change.

“I think it will be similar to the open-carry law in Texas [for firearms] in that it will be a big stir for a while and then it will die down,” Knipp said.
In the end, there can be only one...

Fake News Fight

Do not make fun of the Fake News:

Tax Reform The Hard Way

Can the Republicans still do reform?
Some are pushing for Republicans to embrace a long-shot strategy to tie tax reform to an infrastructure spending package to bring Democrats on board.

Others have given up hope that Congress will be able to pass anything more than a temporary tax cut for individuals — maybe the only measure that can attract 50 Republican votes in the Senate.

“We’ll end up with some lower rates and some business tax changes and probably some tax cuts that are probably temporary because they’re doing it all with Republican votes,” said Randy Hardock, a partner at Davis & Harman who worked for Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) in 1986.

The landmark tax legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 is the standard by which all other tax reform efforts are judged. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acknowledged the current bill will be less ambitious, Hardock and half a dozen other present-day lobbyists who were involved in the 1986 effort say it underscores just how difficult it will be to pass a true tax reform package.
You can't always get what you want, even when you have the votes...

Blues In The Red

Democrats are still hurting for cash:
Many Democrats are frustrated by the sluggish fundraising pace, which comes even as President Trump's sagging approval rating drives Democratic outrage across the country.

They're also concerned about the implications of being financially outgunned ahead of a pivotal midterm election cycle, where Democrats will attempt to take the House while defending a number of Senate seats.
"We really should be kicking their asses," one longtime Democratic donor said. "It shouldn't even be close, considering all hell is breaking loose on their side."

The donor, like many top Democratic donors and fundraisers who requested anonymity to share their candid assessments with The Hill, conceded that it’s “still early” in the cycle. The group still thinks there's time for new DNC Chairman Tom Perez to right the ship following a bruising 2016 run for Democrats.

“We all know that the last six months has been a complete rebuild of the party structure with Tom Perez and it seems like they are trying to be very methodical on how they rebuild. So it’s not surprising that their fundraising isn’t as aggressive or advanced right now,” one top Democratic fundraiser said.

“What happens six months, nine months, 12 months from now will be a much clearer signal on whether the Democrats are truly in trouble.”
Seems to be happening sooner than that...

No Symbols Allowed

See no Southern evil?
Outlawing all Confederate flags, symbols, statues, and groups would not only be indescribably impractical — taking into account the existence of battlefield monuments, graves, Civil War re-enactors, every single souvenir shop within a 10-mile radius of Gettysburg, historical computer games, and Lynyrd Skynyrd albums — it would also be illegal.

"Even the most liberal Supreme Court justice knows that the remedy to hateful or offensive speech is opposing speech," Eddie Zipperer, an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College, told LifeZette. "This would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment."

"Leftists always haul out the argument that you can't yell 'fire' in a crowded theater, so free speech has limits," he said. "But that argument is nonsensical. Historically, the Supreme Court goes to any length to protect political speech — even wildly unpopular speech."
Unfortunately, the left won't...

Like Butter

The Butter Apocalypse is real:
The problem began with the 2014 Russian embargo of European food items (note that 24 percent of the EU’s butter exports went to Russia), which resulted in the price of bottled water being higher than a bottle of milk across much of the continent. European dairy farmers reacted by producing far less milk than they normally would, but the demand for butter, milk, and other dairy products continued to rise.

It’s likely that global demand for butter will rise about 3 percent this year, partially due to the emerging trend of shunning margarine and butter substitutes for the real deal. Even China, which imports the vast majority of their dairy products from New Zealand and Europe, is slated to consume 38 percent more milk in 2017. With a milk shortage already gripping the EU, it’s a good time to be a dairy farmer in New Zealand.

What does this mean for the average European diet? For starters, the price of butter itself has risen 20 percent since June 2016, and the prices for food items containing dairy, including pastries, croissants, and cakes, will likely increase by fall, and shortages of milk and butter are to be expected in the months ahead.
Got milk? Maybe not...

The Rejected Presidents

Thus it begins:
A bronze statue of George Washington on horseback stands at the corner of 51st and King Drive, at the northwest entrance to Washington Park.

Bishop James Dukes, pastor of Liberation Christian Center, said he wants the statue gone, and he wants George Washington’s name removed from the park.

“When I see that, I see a person who fought for the liberties, and I see people that fought for the justice and freedom of white America, because at that moment, we were still chattel slavery, and was three-fifths of humans,” he said. “Some people out here ask me, say ‘Well, you know, he taught his slaves to read.’ That’s almost sad; the equivalent of someone who kidnaps you, that you gave them something to eat.”
He also gave all Americans something else-like the country we live in...

Guests Wanted

Who wants to let in the riff raff?
Homeowners in unincorporated communities who qualify can receive up to $75,000 to build a second dwelling in areas zoned for such structures, while others may get $50,000 to update and legalize an existing dwelling.

The program was introduced last year as part of Los Angeles County’s set of 47 strategies to solve homelessness. The office of Regional Planning will work with several departments countywide with an allocated $550,000 in part to be used to offer subsidies.

Unlike a guest house, second dwellings include kitchens.

The program also will streamline the permitting process and provide technical assistance to homeowners within the county’s unincorporated areas, who would qualify, officials said.

Details of who would be housed and the selection process are still under discussion, said supervising regional planner Connie Chung on Monday. Funding allows for two to three new second dwellings, and for the remodeling of two to three existing ones, she added.
I'm sure there are many wealthy L.A. liberals who would agree to this...right?

Trump Therapy

Let's talk about Trump:
Deborah Cooper, a therapist based out of California, told the New York Daily News that business is so good that she is working overtime to accommodate all her patients.

“I have people I have not seen in literally 30 years that have called me to come back in because of trauma,” she said. “I am more than full. I am overworking.”

Cooper said that Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville was one anxiety-provoking event of many instances in Trump’s presidency that are coming “too fast and furious” for patients and therapists.

Clinical psychologist Scott Christnelly said there is a lot of evidence to back up his patients’ anxiety over Trump’s remarks on Tuesday.

“This is more evidence they should be anxious. There is evidence the anxiety is real, and it’s not just something they are making up,” he said.
Trump is literally living in their heads...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pay Now, Pay Later

The Obamacare subsidies will continue:
The president previously has tried to use the threat of ending the cost-sharing payments as a means to force passage of a bill to replace Obamacare.

But just as he has done every month since taking office, Trump on Wednesday agreed to let them continue.

The Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known, requires insurers to offer reduced out-of-pocket charges customers of individual health plans if those people earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or less than $30,150 per year for a single person.

A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that for people who earn between 150 percent and 200 percent of poverty "the average deductible is reduced to $809, a savings of $2,800" each year.

The ACA also says that the federal government will compensate insurers for the money they do not collect in co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles from the qualified customers.

Next year the subsidies are projected to be worth $10 billion to insurers.
They're not going to give up that gravy train so easily...

Bad For Business

Big business jumps ship:
Their decision was not unanimous, initially. The strategic council's leader, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, seemed reluctant at first to disband the group. He changed his mind on Tuesday, CNBC has learned.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch was also skeptical at first about ending the forum.

In a statement, the Strategic and Policy Forum members said they "believe the debate over Forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans."

Corporate leaders and notable Republicans distanced themselves from Trump this week because of his response to last weekend's violence.
They don't want him on their resumes...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Falsely Accused

Student rights are everyone's:
Brent E. Turvey, now the director of the Forensic Criminology Institute in Alaska, advanced the claim in his recently published book, False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports, designed to be a handbook for criminal investigators.

Students are one of a few “vulnerable groups” that routinely either make false reports or are subject to them, Turvey writes, along with people who suffer from addiction, sex workers, public figures, and politicians. Because college students often accuse their peers, false reports are often made by students against other students, Turvey explains.

Investigating claims of sexual assault made by these students is difficult because of their history of making false allegations, Turvey concedes. Because it is impossible to know off-the-bat whether an allegation is true or false, all complaints must be taken seriously, he says.

Thus, investigators must be prudent to investigate all cases “without consideration of personal bias, public pressure, or politics” that could otherwise cloud the investigation.
Unfortunately campus kangaroo courts don't work that way...

Profit Motives

Never let a riot go to waste:
The broader mission of Indivisible is raising money to “defeat the Trump agenda” and put liberals in public office.

“The Indivisible Project’s mission is to cultivate and lift up a grassroots movement of local groups to defeat the Trump agenda, elect progressive leaders, and realize bold progressive policies,” states the website.

“We need your help to provide the 6,000 grassroots Indivisible groups across the country with resources, tools, and support to take action,” says the website, urging donations. “Most of all, we want you to be part of this nationwide movement.”

“Every part of the progressive ecosystem is under threat by this President and Congress,” according to the website. “The only way to win is by standing together, indivisible.”

The website also lists events for interacting with members of Congress during the August recess.
Come what may, the "cause" goes on...

Fake News Under Fire

President Trump fights back:
“There was no way of making a correct statement that early,” he said, defending his first statement on Saturday before the facts were in. “Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”

As reporters grew more agitated, Trump continued defending his decision and condemning the media for their one sided reporting.

Trump again denounced racist elements among the protesters, including people supporting the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists, but clarified that he still believed that there was blame on both sides.

“You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both on both sides. I have no doubt about it … if you reported it accurately, you would say that,” he said.
Never let facts get in the way of the blaming...

Words Times Two

Nobody could ever accuse Hillary's friends of being too original:
CNN posted an excerpt from the book last week, featuring an email Shillady sent to Clinton the day after her shocking election loss titled "Sunday's Coming."

Rev. Matthew Deuel, of Mission Point Community Church in Winona Lake, Indiana, reached out to CNN after noticing striking similarities to a blog post he wrote in March 2016.

For example, Deuel wrote: "For the disciples and Christ followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart. All was lost. The momentum and hope of a man, claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah who was supposed to change everything, had been executed."

Shillady's email to Clinton contains a nearly identical passage: "For the disciples and Christ's followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart. All was lost. The momentum and hope of a man claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah who was supposed to change everything, had been executed."
It's all in the execution...

One Message For All

Suppose the Democrats had a message and nobody listened?
The Democrats’ leaders have continued to declare that their losses in every special election during President Donald Trump’s first 200 days were not due to any middle-class problem, economic problem, national security problem, religion problem, illegal alien problem or any other policy problem. As Paul Waldman claimed in The Week last month, the only reason Democrats have a problem is that they “don’t have a bunch of simplified messaging and pithy slogans that describe their agenda.”

With 43 years of government experience, Rep. Garamendi served in the State Assembly and State Senate; was California Insurance Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor; and has been a congressman from Northern California since late 2009. During Garamendi’s entire political career, he has constantly pushed the for a single-payer healthcare system — but that message has gone nowhere.
Saying the same thing over and over and expecting people to listen might be considered a form of insanity...

The Gifs That Keep On Giving

Apparently emojois and gifs are now racist:
The online clip, presented by writer and Guardian contributor Victoria Princewill, begins with a “trigger warning”, in case viewers find historical footage of minstrel shows “offensive”.

Ms. Princewill claims the “most popular” reaction GIFs are “black people being dramatic”.

“This, is digital black face,” she declares, before comparing the GIFs to the explicit racism of past decades and claiming the tiny images used to communicate in text messages and on social media are the “21st-century version of that”.
Speaking of people being dramatic...

The New Hieroglyphics

Is the emoji replacing the texted word?
Emojis, a popular way to replicate non-verbal communication, are used six billion times a day and have been described as the fastest growing language in history.

Now it seems that like so many jokey messages that have gone down like a lead balloon, the sender could simply make themselves seem less competent.

Concluding that "a smiley is not a smile", academics have even warned that peppering an email with emojis could harm your job prospects by making colleagues less likely to share information with you.

The effect can be so damaging that people are advised to avoid them at work all together, especially the first time you talk to someone.

Dr Ella Glikson, an expert in business and management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, said: "Our findings provide first-time evidence that - contrary to actual smiles - smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence."
Leave the smiles at home?

Doomsday Deferred

There won't be an Armageddon just yet:
North Korea’s decision to back down is a major victory for the United States, as it was achieved — apparently — with no concessions to the regime, and after a sustained “Twitter war” of words with President Donald Trump.

Trump was roundly criticized by politicians from both parties and by the media for his responses to North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches, and to news that the regime could miniaturize a nuclear warhead. Trump threatened “fire and fury” and declared that U.S. military plans were “locked and loaded.” His critics, including former Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice, accused him of escalating the situation. Rice even suggested appeasement: “[W]e can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea.”

However, Trump’s method of one-upping Kim-Jong-un’s belligerent rhetoric seems to have worked, as Trump cast himself as even more unpredictable than the infamously impetuous tyrant.
Crazy is as crazy does...

Robot Vision

It's time for the Doctor Robot show:
The Daily Star reports Double Act Productions hope to make a version of the successful Jeremy Kyle show.

Showbiz agents have apparently been contacted as the producers look to find celebs interested in having a bot fix their problems.

One agent told the Star: "I wouldn't mind representing the robot, as unlike human hosts it would hopefully be happy with any deal I could fix.

"It sounds like it'll be fascinating daytime TV. Jeremy Kyle needs to keep looking over his shoulder, as artificial intelligence could be the future."

A producers note to agents said: "We’re looking for stories where there is a dilemma or a couple, family or friends needing to make a big decision. This could be just about anything – big or small!"
Could a robot really understand the human mind? Would it really want to?

Clocking Out

London's iconic clock tower is going silent for awhile:
Big Ben is to be silenced amid fears workers involved in a restoration project could have their hearing damaged. Authorities say it would be 'unacceptable' to expose workers on scaffolding surrounding the bell tower to the noise of its chimes – and also 'unacceptable' for them to wear ear defenders.

They say they owe the workers 'a duty of care' on health and safety grounds, but the decision triggered an outcry last night.

Labour MP Steve Pound said: 'They kept the bells tolling through the Blitz. The Luftwaffe could not stop it but health and safety has. There has to be a way around this.'

The bell at the north-eastern end of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster will ring for the last time at noon next Monday. The renovation of the Elizabeth Tower is expected to be completed by 2021.

A spokesman for the Parliamentary authorities said: 'The chimes are being stopped to provide a safe environment for the people working on the scaffolding. Constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing, and prevent efficient working.'
Even clocks sometimes need to take a break...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Choking On Collusion

The Russians were interfering a lot earlier:
Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election directly coincided with the Obama administration’s failed efforts to broker a ceasefire deal in the Syrian civil war, where Russia actively sponsors Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Obama’s reticence to confront Russia over its actions at the time stemmed from his desire to save his multiple failed deals in Syria, The New York Times reported in December 2016.

“Everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen,” a senior Department of State official elaborated at the time.

Many former Obama administration officials have lamented their response to Russian attempts to influence the election. One senior administration official, however, admitted to WaPo that the response to Russian actions in the election “is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend.” He continued, “I feel like we sort of choked.”
But that didn't stop them from kicking the blame down the road...

Rage For Rage

Never let a racial attack go to waste:
Far-left “anti-fascist” (or antifa) figures are advising agitators to do the job that police won’t: shutting down “fascists” and prevent them from organizing.

Radical left-wingers have for months justified violence as a way to fight back against “fascism” and “racism” — terms that they have applied not just to white nationalist fringe groups but to prominent figures on the right as well. (RELATED: Shooting At GOP Baseball Practice Latest In Pattern Of Violence Against Republicans)

“Charlottesville is just the beginning. If the alt-right can get away with murder there, none of us will be safe. We have to stand up to white supremacists, we have to shut down and chase out these bigots every time they try to organize, or else they will kill more people,” reads one poster created by anarchist group CrimethInc, a self-described “international network of aspiring revolutionaries.”
Most revolutionaries aspire to be the next big dictatorship...

Banned In Boston?

No free speech for them:
The group Boston Free Speech is hoping to hold a rally next weekend, but Walsh said police are investigating that group, and said he's already decided the event should be called off.

"Our police intelligence unit is doing information gathering right now to see who they are," he said. "We don't need this type of hate. So my message is clear to this group: we don't want you in Boston. We don't want you on Boston Common."

Former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Brian Fallon suggested on Twitter that the rally is being organized by Jason Kessler, who led Saturday's protest in Charlottesville. But the group rejected Fallon's claim.
Free speech-it's not just for liberals...

An Inconvenient Flop

Al Gore got no green for being green:
Of the estimated $121 million Americans spent at the movies last weekend, less than $1 million was spent on the Gore's sad grab at political relevancy. Perhaps Gore can take solace in the fact that he narrowly edged out for 15th place another liberal-biased movie, "Cars 3," which targets children with fossil fuel lies via cute talking cars. No word yet on whether Gore is going to demand a recount.

Despite tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars in free promotion offered by the left-wing media for Gore, Americans didn't take heed. And after eight straight miserable years of the Obama administration misusing its control of government bureaucracies and schools, assisted every step of the way by the government-aligned left-wing media, the purveyors of climate doom thought they had won the battle of public opinion.

Apparently not. Surveys and independent reviews of the peer-reviewed literature show Al Gore and his alarmist minions have not won the battle of so-called "scientific consensus" – which, by the way, is not how real science operates. For no matter how many scientists believed the Earth was flat in the 1500s, or warned in the 1970s an approaching an Ice Age, or announced that the "Piltdown Chicken" proved birds evolved from dinosaurs, it didn't change the facts. The Earth is round, the chicken was a hoax, and we aren't in a dangerous Ice Age yet.
It's hard to sell a hoax...

Phone Fiends

Remember the Obamaphone?
Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Tom Carper, D-Del., want the Federal Communications Commission and its Inspector General to examine a scathing report on the federal Lifeline program that found significant fraud.

The report was authored in May by the Government Accountability Office and found "extensive problems" with the Lifeline program. Specifically, the report accused a dozen phone companies of approving Lifeline applicants "with fictitious eligibility information" 63 percent of the time, and it found the federal government wasted millions annually on subsidies for falsified applications or deceased people.

"Addressing systemic weaknesses in Lifeline management and oversight, along with the referral of each instance of potential fraud identified by GAO, will ensure that the waste, fraud, and abuse that [GAO] identified is eliminated," the senators wrote to the GAO on Monday.

The Lifeline program was created in 1985 to help the poor afford telephone service. It was later expanded to include broadband and cellphones. Former President Barack Obama was at one point erroneously credited with creating the program, and the nickname "Obamaphone" emerged.
Time to finally phone it in?

The Quiet Court Press

While the media wasn't looking, Donald Trump has been getting things done with regards to the courts:
Trump’s biggest achievement in office so far has been the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, for whom Republicans changed the Senate rules to proceed to a confirmation vote with a simple majority.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court seat, Merrick Garland, after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 — has repeatedly pointed to Gorsuch to rebut accusations that the GOP Congress has achieved little under Trump.

"Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice," McConnell said when asked how he’d explain to voters the party’s failure to repeal ObamaCare this summer.

"We have 14 repeals of regulations. And we're only six months into it. Last time I looked, Congress goes on for two years."

While another appointment to the high court in Trump’s presidency is possible or even likely, given the ages of several justices, it’s appointments to the lower district and circuit courts where the president is likely to have a bigger impact.

Ilya Shapiro, a member of the conservative Federalist Society and senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, said only one of the 13 federal circuit courts had a majority of judges appointed by Democrats when Obama took office.

When Obama left office, nine of the 13 courts had a majority of Democratic appointed judges, Shapiro said.
Here come the judges...

Le Love Lost

Whatever happened to Emannuel Macron?
Macron, who shot to power on May 7 promising to overcome France's entrenched right-left divide, has since come under fire for his labour reform programme, budget and public spending cuts as well as a plan to create an official First Lady position for his 64-year-old wife Brigitte.

France's youngest ever president is especially out of favour with civil servants after vowing to put a brake on their salary increases.

Macron "must come down to earth and assume the political cost of his decisions," leading pollster Jerome Fourquet told AFP.

Proposed defence cuts -- part of a plan to trim 4.5 billion euros ($5.3 billion) to bring France's budget deficit within EU limits -- led to a public row last month with the head of the French armed forces, General Pierre de Villiers.

- 'Honeymoon is over' -

Macron rebuked him for questioning the wisdom of cuts at a time the army was in action in the Middle East and west Africa as well as at home. De Villiers resigned a few days later.

"The honeymoon is over between Emmanuel Macron and the French," wrote editorialist Laurent Bodin in the wake of the spat.
So much for the "Roman god" approach, eh, mon ami?

No Speech Zone

Silicone Valley versus free speech:
In a chilling oped published in The New York Times on July 14, Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, argued that so-called “hate speech” is the same thing as physical violence because it may possibly cause emotionally fragile individuals stress — and should be made illegal.

Thankfully, the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from following such advice, but online companies are taking it upon themselves to stamp-out so-called “hate speech,” strangling free speech and the free exchange of ideas in the process.

A number of troubling actions by internet companies — Google most prominent among them — are making it increasingly clear that some in Silicon Valley have proclaimed themselves defenders of the progressive, politically correct faith, and that those firms will silence any and all heretics who challenge those beliefs.

"Silicon Valley lives in a politically regressive, exclusive bubble. They are not aware of their own biases in how they talk, have a limited understanding of the philosophy behind free speech, and find it difficult empathizing with other points of view," said Aaron Ginn, co-founder of the Lincoln Network, a think tank that seeks to promote libertarian ideas in the tech industry.
It may be tough to burst that bubble, but not impossible...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Unconventional Times

Is it time for a new Constitutional convention?
No “amendment convention” has taken place since the Constitution was written over 200 years ago. But the idea is gaining steam now, stoked by groups on the left and right that say amendments drafted and ratified by states are the last, best hope for fixing the nation’s broken political system and dysfunctional — some even say tyrannical — federal government.

“We have a Congress in the United States made up of two bodies — House and Senate — that are incapable of restricting their own power,” said Texas state Sen. Brian Birdwell, a Republican. With the conventions, he said, states are stepping in to clean up the mess.

The current push for a convention began in the early years of the Obama administration, mostly driven by Republican lawmakers. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are big supporters. So are former presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio. Although many amendment topics have been proposed, the most popular would require the federal government to balance its budget.
Getting Congress to actually do its job might be better-if they would...

The Insufferable Age

Bill Maher takes on PC culture on the Fake News Network:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Blame It On The Pollsters

CNN gets rid of its own polling firm:
ORC’s chief marketing officer Ana Mackay-Sim confirmed that CNN “did not renew their polling contract” with ORC International. The polling firm worked with CNN since 2006 and had continued their partnership after the 2016 presidential election until late April.

“We are thankful for the opportunity we have had to partner with CNN in the past and wish them well in their future polling work,” Mackay-Sim told Politico. “We have no further comment at this time.”

CNN has, instead, decided to switch to the major survey-research firm SSRS.

Executive Vice President and chief methodologist of SSRS David Dutwin said CNN came to his firm first to bring up the possibility of working together.

“At the end of the day, suffice to say they were unhappy with something,” Dutwin said when asked about the end of CNN’s relationship with ORC. “I think we have a pretty strong reputation. So they came to us with a proposal to work with them.”
Not anymore, apparently...

Bigotry On Ice

So hockey is now racist?

Dead Votes Matter

The dead are always available:
Spieles job was to register as many voters as Democrats as possible. He then had to report his numbers back to Democratic headquarters in Harrisonburg.

Once Spieles received a completed voter registration form, he would log tracking information on each person (name, age, address, and political affiliation) and file the form with the registrar’s office.

A registrar employee contacted law enforcement in Aug. 2016 when they recognized a Rockingham County judge’s deceased father on one of the forms, WSET reported.

The registrar’s office looked into other voter registration forms Spieles submitted and found similarly falsified documents. Some forms had the name of deceased people. Other forms had incorrect middle names, birth dates and social security numbers.

The assistant registrar personally knew some of the people on the registration forms, which tipped them off to a crime.
He was only doing what the Democrats expected of him...

Welcome To The Future

What would Carl Sagan say?
Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World” was meant as a way to introduce the everyday person to the scientific method, and encourage skeptical and critical thinking. Sagan noted that as he wrote the book, the most rented videotape was the movie “Dumb and Dumber,” and young people’s favorite show was “Beavis and Butt-Head.” Sagan feared that the desire to learn anything would be “undesirable,” and people would celebrate ignorance.

As Sagan wrote his vision of the future, he noted that key manufacturing industries will have left America. He predicted that public represesntatives will hardly be able to grasp issues, and that people will lack the knowledge to question those in power. He also noted that the dumbing down of America will be evident in the media, who will reduce their news to quicker soundbites, and pseudoscience will be celebrated over real science.
The dumber we are, the more gullible we are...

It's Colder Outside

Global warming? Not really:
Respected meteorologist Joe Bastardi recently penned on op-ed hammering Gore for his awful climate predications made in his hit 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” while noting that today’s global temperatures are cooler than they were when Gore’s won the Nobel Peace Prize for his global warming work.

Bastardi’s study shows that while global temperatures were anomalously warm when Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, they are less warm now and they were even less warm in the years between today and when Gore won the peace prize.

“Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize based on warnings of future events — the same future events that have not happened. The fact is that global temperatures from 2006-2007 while Gore was basking in the glory of his apocalypse-driven fame were warmer than they are now,” Bastardi wrote.
It seems nature has been resisting Al's hot air...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kite Wars

The dangers of kite fighting:
The craze is now spreading across Britain, with kite flying enthusiasts holding competitions on beaches.

The AAIB on established that the kite involved in the helicopter incident probably came from Sandwich Bay beach where enthusiasts regularly fly.

Investigators noted: "Evidence from the nature of the damage to the helicopter and photographs taken at the probable kite flying location suggest that the kite string was coated with an abrasive substance.

"In a number of other countries, kite fighting is a competitive sport where the objective is to cut the string of an opponent’s kite.

"To facilitate the cutting action, the upper parts of the kite string may be coated with an abrasive substance. There is evidence that a number of different coastal locations in the United Kingdom are used for kite flying at heights above 60 m but the activity is not being notified."
Don't cross the lines...

Games For The Planet Of The Apes

Ape beats human?
Seven chimpanzees of different ages and sexes living in the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University were part of the experiment. They sat in a booth housing a computer-based touchscreen and were trained to choose the stronger of two options (based on the rules of the game) they saw on screen. They first learnt the paper-rock sequence, then the rock-scissors one and finally the scissors-paper combination. Once they knew how the pairs fitted together, all the different pairs were randomly presented to them on screen. Five of the seven chimpanzees completed the training after an average of 307 sessions.

The findings show that chimpanzees can learn the circular pattern at the heart of the game. However, it took them significantly longer to learn the third scissors-paper pair than it did to grasp the others, which indicates that they had difficulty finalizing the circular nature of the pattern.
No more monkeying around for them...

The Return Of The One And Two

They're back:
Aides to Obama told The Hill’s Amie Parnes he is looking to resurface on the national campaign stage. Parnes also reported Tuesday that Clinton is trying to sort out what role she might play in the midterm elections.

Parnes has written several books about the Clinton and Obama races.

Although the pair bring a lot of fundraising firepower to a very crowded field of needy Democratic candidates, party insiders worry about who would control the party if either past candidate became too influential.

“He has to be careful,” Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University told The Hill. “At a moment when President Trump’s approval is falling so fast — including with his base — there is a risk for Obama taking center stage and triggering the energy that many Republicans currently lack.”
If they want low energy, Hillary can help...

Have You Hugged Your Terrorist Today?

Be kind to your jihadist friends?
Proponents of the police-run scheme in Aarhus say that jihadists are “isolated” and struggling to integrate, and claim that offering them kindness and forgiveness will deter them from their murderous ideology.

However, Danish politician Naser Khader, a Muslim born in Syria, says it sends the wrong message and rewards terrorists who have effectively made war on the West and its values.

He told Australian news programme Dateline the “hug a terrorist” model tells young Muslims: “Go out and do something criminal, be jihadis, you will get a lot of privilege from the society. That’s wrong in my opinion.”
But what about those group hugs?

The Sound Of Silence

Is this the greatest song ever?
Created for anyone who has plugged their iPhone into their car stereo only to have it automatically start blaring whatever song is alphabetically at the top of their list, the title of Samir Mezrahi's "A a a a a Very Good Song" means that you won't be in any rush to queue up whatever it is you actually want to hear.

As of a result of his ingenuity, the hyperminimalist melody was sitting at No. 30 as of Friday afternoon.

That puts the utterly vacant offering ahead of other far more word-filled compositions such as Bruno Mars' "Versace on the Floor," Miranda Lambert's "Tin Man" and Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me," which is holding an admittedly impressive 88th spot despite being old enough to have a driver's license.

Mezrahi's "A a a a a Very Good Song" is also available on the Google Play store, where it has yet to crack the top 50, let alone the top 300.
There may be a future in this for anyone who can't sing. We already have enough performers who can't...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Email Chase

A judge wants answers:
Mehta said that the State Department did not do enough to search for all emails it has on its computer systems regarding the Benghazi attacks, which left four Americans dead.

The State Department reviewed the 30,000-plus emails that Clinton returned to the agency in Dec. 2014. It has also searched emails that Abedin, Mills and Sullivan sent and received on personal accounts.

“Secretary Clinton used a private email server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as Secretary of State,” Mehta said.

“[State] has not, however, searched the one records system over which it has always had control and that is almost certain to contain some responsive records: the state.gov email server.”

Mehta said that the State Department “has offered no assurance” that the records it has received so far from Clinton and the trio of aides “constitute the entirely of Secretary Clinton’s emails during the time period relevant to Plaintiff’s FOIA request.”
At least one of her scandals is gone, but not forgotten...

Ministers Without Approval

Nicolas Maduro is rapidly running out of neighbors:
The group of foreign ministers assembled in Peru said they would only recognize legal agreements approved by the real Venezuelan parliament, the National Assembly, in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution.

The Foreign Minister of Chile, Heraldo Muñóz, said he and his colleagues wanted to send a “firm statement” that they “will not tolerate military coups,” but also wished to maintain an “opening for dialogue” with the Maduro government. He also expressed a desire to work with the Venezuelan government to deliver humanitarian aid to its starving population.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna said the Venezuelan Constituent Assembly is “incompatible with international law, human rights and democracy in this region.”

“The fading out of democratic institutions in recent times has reached its culmination and what we have in Venezuela is a dictatorship,” Luna declared
Socialism just doesn't seem to have the same appeal in the rest of South America these days...

Nancy's Last Stand?

They're not fans:
The Bee reported that 18 of the 20 would not say if Pelosi should keep her job, while one said he would vote for someone else for the leadership position in the House.

Only one candidate — a former Senate staffer from Orange County, California — said he would support Pelosi, according to the Bee.

“Their refusal is a remarkable development for an already embattled minority leader, even if other congressional leaders, like Republicans House Speaker Paul Ryan or Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, are similarly unpopular in polls,” the Bee reported.

Democrats feel they will have traction to win back the House because of what they see as the “deep disapproval” of President Donald Trump. But Pelosi is also unpopular and is blamed by some for the many Democratic losses in recent House races.

“We are overdue for a new generation of leadership,” said Kenneth Harbaugh, a candidate in Ohio’s 7th Congressional District and the only candidate who said he wouldn’t support Pelosi.
Nancy's retirement party will be quite lonely, I'm afraid...

No Jobs In The Suburban Hood

Killing jobs, DC style:
The study was conducted to assess the impact of a proposal in Montgomery County, Md., to raise the minimum wage to $15, up from $11.50. Such a proposal cleared the county council in January but was vetoed by County Executive Isiah Leggett, who commissioned the study.

The results could strike a blow to ongoing efforts in the liberal-leaning county to hike the wage, finding:

47,000 jobs would be lost by 2022, most of them “low-wage positions”
Lost income would total about $396.5 million by 2022
Lost county income tax revenue would total over $40 million in that time period
“The proposed increase in the County minimum wage has the potential to provide some important benefits,” the study noted. “An increase in earnings for low-wage County workers will have tangible positive impacts for low-income workers and their families. This should also lead to reductions in poverty, improvement in mental health and a reduction in hunger and stress among minimum wage workers.”

But it continued, “… At the same time, it is also projected that the wage increase will lead to a significant loss of low-wage jobs. This loss of jobs would lead to a loss of income among County residents. This also has the spillover effect of reduced income tax revenue for the County.”
Liberals love wage hikes-workers, not so much...

Freedom Of Representation

When a lawyer doesn't want to do his job:
“Though his ability to speak is protected by the First Amendment, I don’t believe in protecting principle for the sake of principle in all cases,” Strangio wrote. “His actions have consequences for people that I care about and for me. The norms that we establish through the people we validate, contribute to the disturbingly common attacks on Black people, immigrants, trans people, women and others.”

“And yes, the First Amendment is critical in protecting the ability of marginalized communities to protest, mobilize and build power. But it has already been eroded for those communities,” Strangio added.

Ironically, Strangio’s dispute against the ACLU’s stance will only erode the First Amendment that much further. Should Milo lose his right to free speech, so too will everyone else whose words are deemed too dangerous by those in power.

“The ACLU has a long history of representing despicable people in the service of protecting valuable First Amendment principles and in some cases I support decisions that have been made and in other cases I do not. Here I do not,” Strangio wrote, speaking of the ACLU’s lawsuit for Yiannopoulos, which also includes the ACLU, PETA, and abortion medication provider Carafem.
I guess "despicable" only goes so far...

Out To Lunch

Michelle Obama's top food cop is in trouble:
David Binkle, 55, a former chef who ultimately oversaw a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars as he implemented Michelle Obama’s school lunch program in the LAUSD, pleaded not guilty to all the counts during an appearance in court on Tuesday and posted $220,000 bail, reports the L.A. Times.

Prosecutors allege that Binkle – who railed against childhood obesity with appearances on Tedx Talks – illegally directed about $65,000 of the school district’s funds into his private consulting firm, some of which eventually ended up in his own pocket.

The news report continues:

According to court documents, Binkle repeatedly misappropriated district funds in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 between 2010 and 2014. Prosecutors also allege that he forged an application to become a vendor with the district and failed to disclose outside financial interests.

Binkle, who became known for his use of the phrase “nasty, rotty” food, led the former first lady’s unpopular school lunch reform in the district even as students established their own black market of favorite – albeit “unhealthy” – foods.
He apparently really needed lunch money...

Dumping Debbie

Democrats turn on Debbie:
Nikki Barnes, a progressive DNC member from Wasserman Schultz’s own state of Florida, told Politico that the DNC wishes Wasserman Schultz “would go away” along with her “negative stories.”

“We wish she would go away and stop being so public by doubling down on negative stories,” Barnes told Politico.

Barnes said that the DNC was in “shambles” while Wasserman Schultz was chair, and claimed that Wasserman Schultz’s defense that her former information technology aide was arrested because of racial profiling doesn’t add up.

“None of this makes sense,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t sound like racial profiling … there must have been something for her.”
About thirty thousand somethings...

Delete Or Be Damned

Just a bunch of guys on a boat:
Julio Cesar Alvarez Montelongo, better known as “Julion Alvarez”, and soccer star Rafael “Rafa” Marquez are among 22 Mexican nationals and 43 business entities whose assets in the U.S are now frozen by the Treasury Department, Breitbart Texas reported. Julion Alvarez is considered one of Mexico’s most famous singers in the banda music genre and is known for praising the drug trafficking lifestyle in his music. Despite the type of music that Alvarez performs, in 2015 Peña Nieto called him “a great example for Mexico’s youth”, Mexico’s Proceso reported.

The connection to Alvarez is the latest scandal to plague Peña Nieto at a time when his popularity continues to plummet after his failure in being able to reign in Mexico’s raging cartel violence. Peña Nieto has also been accused of having Mexican cartel operators funnel illicit funds into his 2012 presidential election campaign in a scandal that became known as Monexgate, Breitbart Texas reported.
A little cartel money goes a long way...

Going Green For The Reds

Come what may, North Korea's role in saving the ozone layer goes on:
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has been allocated a budget of $798,247 as part of a worldwide effort to phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which an agency official tells Breitbart News are “scientifically proven as ozone depleting substances and controlled under the Montreal Protocol.” According to the project’s website, it has already spent $466,375.

The funding was approved by the Executive Committee of Multilateral Fund for Implementation of Montreal Protocol (MLF EC), at which the U.S. has a representative. That fund is “dedicated to reversing the deterioration of the Earth’s ozone layer” and was set up after the 1989 Montreal Protocol, which sought to reverse the damage done to the ozone layer.

Since North Korea is a party to the Montreal Protocol, it is eligible to receive funding for a project for HCFC phase-out, and UNIDO was chosen as the lead implementing agency for the project.
At least they can make sure their only light bulb is environmentally friendly...

Taxation Without Legal Representation

Taxing the rich runs into opposition:
The last time voters passed a graduated statewide income tax in Washington it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 1933 as unconstitutional. The state constitution requires property be taxed at a uniform rate, which the court said applied to income in turning down the tax.

“This tax is illegal and we are confident an independent judiciary is going to uphold the law, is going to uphold 100 years of precedent,” said David Dewhirst, litigation counsel for the Freedom Foundation.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said he believes city will be able to persuade the state’s top court that the 1930s decision was in error. The state Supreme Court’s attention to current events in recent years, including a ruling that the state was failing to adequately to fund public schools, means the court could be more receptive to taking another look at the income tax issue, he said.

“We’ve acknowledged that this a tenuous legal path forward, but we nonetheless believe it’s viable,” said Mr. Holmes.

David DeWolf, a Gonzaga University School of Law professor emeritus, said the state’s highest court would now be more open to an income tax measure, provided it was statewide and applied to a broader swath of the population, not just a few wealthy residents.

But Mr. DeWolf predicted courts would be skeptical of the Seattle tax because of the restrictions on cities imposing taxes and because of how many people are exempted from paying.

“When you impose a tax it needs to be uniform,” he said.
Of course everyone has to suffer equally...

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Playtime's Over?

No football for you:
Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist and expert in the study of the effects of concussions, recently reacted to the study that found 110 of 111 former NFL players who had their brains donated suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He said that letting children play football is the definition of “child abuse,” and doesn’t believe there is any way to make the sport safer.

“Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse [on the football field], and it will succeed,” Omalu said during an event in New York, according to Sports Illustrated. “It is the definition of child abuse.

“If you play football, and if your child plays football, there is a 100 percent risk exposure. There is nothing like making football safer. That’s a misnomer,” Omalu continued.
There's risk whenever you do anything physical. It's called life.

Your Health Care Is Their Health Care

"Free" care still costs more:
Obamacare requires every insurance policy to cover a set of what it defines as Essential Health Benefits.[2] The more benefits that a plan covers, the more expensive it is. Some people might prefer to buy less comprehensive insurance at a lower cost. For example, one option might be to buy insurance only for major healthcare costs such as surgeries or hospitalizations.

Since most Americans receive health insurance from their employer, the rising cost of healthcare is a key factor holding down wage growth. If the cost of benefits were the same today as a generation ago, the average pay for full-time workers would be more than $3,300 higher annually. Some people might prefer a bigger paycheck and less comprehensive coverage.

Healthcare policy analyst Bob Laszewski believes the ongoing unpopularity of Obamacare insurance coverage raises questions about “stability in the individual-health-insurance market.” He notes that “only about 40 percent of those eligible for subsidies have signed up for coverage. In what other business or government program would such a dismal acceptance by those it was targeted to serve be considered a success?”
The more unpopular it is, the more they think you need it...

Mrs. Minister

From politics to religion?
“Given her depth of knowledge of the Bible and her experience of caring for people and loving people, she’d make a great pastor,” Shillady told the Atlantic, but noted it would likely be more of a lay position such as a deaconess.

“I think it would be more of … her guest preaching at some point,” he said. “We have a long history of lay preachers in the United Methodist Church.”

The blurb for the book says it “includes 365 of the more than 600 devotions written for Clinton, along with personal notes, portions of her speeches, and headlines that provide context for that day’s devotion.”

“Clinton is writing the foreword, the first time post-election readers will have a chance to hear directly from her about her faith during this time,” the teaser for the book says.
They do allow services in prison, after all...

Bunker Mentality

There's no question that things are tense right now. But is it really time to go underground?
The segment, which aired on “Erin Burnett Outfront,” explained that a nuclear missile could reach Hawaii in 20 minutes, giving residents only 15 minutes with which to brace themselves underground.

Later on the show, Toobin scolded host Erin Burnett for running the segment, accusing her of inflating the threat from North Korea.

“Can we just dial this all back a little bit?” Toobin said. “This is an important story but it is an unconfirmed report of a possible technological development from North Korea, and suddenly on television we’re talking about people hiding in caves in Hawaii.”
So we're back to this now?

Reform The Hard Way

The United Nations is suddenly interested in reform:
Guterres’ chief motivation, though he won’t say so explicitly, is the Trump Administration.

Instead, Guterres is arguing to U.N. member states what he told a town hall meeting of U.N. staffers in late July: that his version of reform is “an absolutely essential instrument for the protection of the U.N.” amid increasing international skepticism about the organization’s efficiency, effectiveness, and even its reason for existence—all of which also happens to be true.

But as he coyly told the staffers: “When we see that these negative ideas are penetrating at some times, very high levels, at government levels—and I don’t need to explain what this means in relation to the neighborhood--it is very clear is that one thing we must do is project to the outside the idea that we are taking seriously this kind of criticism, and are doing our best to address it.”

Draft proposals for a hard-nosed Trump Administration look at all of its U.N. spending that leaked last January have never resurfaced officially--but U.N. bloat is under a gimlet eye in Washington, and the U.N.’s multibillion-dollar peacekeeping budget has already taken a sharp haircut on the watch of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, with more reductions likely soon.
Sometimes you need more than just a trim off the top...

The Old Fake Lady

The NY Times does it again:
On Monday, The New York Times published a story saying there are concerns that the Trump administration could suppress what’s known as the National Climate Assessment, a project of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

The story, titled “Scientists fear Trump will dismiss blunt climate report,” said the draft report “has not yet been made public” but “a copy of it was obtained by The New York Times.”

The paper also said “those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change" are worried the report will be publicly released.

But those who worked on the report are pushing back against the claims, saying the version that was obtained and posted in full by the New York Times has actually been online and available to the public for months.
When in doubt, check the public record...

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Manifesto Of Accuracy

The now-infamous Google Manifesto was right after all:
“The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right,” declared Rutgers University Professor Lee Jussim. “Its main points are that: 1. Neither the left nor the right gets diversity completely right; 2. The social science evidence on implicit and explicit bias has been wildly oversold and is far weaker than most people seem to realize; 3. Google has, perhaps unintentionally, created an authoritarian atmosphere that has stifled discussion of these issues by stigmatizing anyone who disagrees as a bigot and instituted authoritarian policies of reverse discrimination; 4. The policies and atmosphere systematically ignore biological, cognitive, educational, and social science research on the nature and sources of individual and group differences.”

“I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but: 1. Give that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too; 2. It is a painfully familiar atmosphere, one that is a lot like academia,” he continued.
Sometimes corporations and academia have more in common than people realize...

Happy O-Day

What fiscal crisis? It's time for a holiday!
Senate Bill 55 says the day will be “observed throughout the State as a day set apart to honor the 44th President of the United States of America who began his career serving the People of Illinois in both the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, and dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities.”

There was absolutely no resistance to the bill, even from Republicans, in the state legislature in Springfield, Illinois. Several lawmakers abstained from voting to implement the new holiday, but none voted against it.

Gov. Rauner, though, did oppose an earlier version of the bill that made Obama’s birthday a paid holiday. In opposition to the idea of giving employees a paid day off, Rauner said, “I don’t think it should be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off, but I think it should be a day of acknowledgment and celebration.”

The state of Illinois has the worst budget and pension crisis in the nation and many of the state’s vendors haven’t been paid for years.
But hey, at least they might get the day off...

Fake Truth For The Revolution

Welcome to the witch hunt:
President Nicolas Maduro said the constituent assembly, which supersedes all other democratic institutions, will strip legal immunity from the national assembly that has opposed him. Members of the so-called constituyente plan to establish a truth commission that will function more as a tribunal than a venue that offers amnesty in return for healing testimony.

“The truth commission can try anyone," Maduro, 54, said this week.

The government, isolated and under threat of U.S. economic sanctions, has quickly deployed the constituent assembly against the last strongholds of dissent in public institutions and to weaken the opposition-led congress. The Justice and Truth Commission may become its main tool. In countries such as South Africa and Rwanda, such panels have allowed perpetrators of violence to confess their crimes in return for amnesty. The idea was to establish a baseline of truth and extinguish deadly political passions. In Venezuela, forgiveness so far is not on offer.
Every dictatorship needs its scapegoats...

Rahmbo: Public Relations Part One

It was for the illegals, or, maybe not:
In late May, nearly three months before the latest legal gambit, Emanuel sent a flurry of emails to movers-and-shakers in the national media. The subject was the “One Chicago” campaign the mayor had devised to showcase the city’s diversity.

“I wanted to put this on your radar,” the mayor wrote to George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

The mayor went on to tell Stephanopoulos, with whom he worked in the Clinton White House, that he has “heard the constant voice of immigrant and minority communities” and their “strong sense of anxiety and alarm about the rhetoric and policies coming from the Trump administration” since the “day after” the fall election.
He heard, and did the polling...

Courtroom Analysis

Putting psychologists on trial:
Federal judges in Washington state late Monday ordered a lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees -- one of whom died in a CIA prison following harsh interrogation -- to go to a jury trial, rejecting efforts to force a settlement and prevent a full hearing of the case.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the ex-detainees, will be the first involving the torture program to go to trial.

The government has headed off previous efforts, citing what is said is a need to protect sensitive intelligence.

The case targets psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who were recruited by the CIA in 2002 to design and help conduct interrogations of war-on-terror suspects captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Accountability doesn't end in the interrogation room...

Monday, August 07, 2017

Food Stamps For Thought

Cutting dependency works:
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dropped to 41,496,255 in May 2017, the most recent data available from the USDA, from 42,691,363 in January 2017 when Trump took office.

According to the latest data, SNAP enrollment during the first few months of Trump’s presidency decreased by 2.79 percent.

Food stamp participation on average in 2017 has dropped to its lowest level since 2010, and the latest numbers show that this trend is continuing.

Trump proposed cuts to SNAP in his 2018 budget proposal, suggesting that states match up to 20 percent of federal money allotted for the food stamp program and expand work requirements for able-bodied adults receiving food stamps.
The value of work is a well-earned meal...

There Goes The Sun

Here comes the eclipse: