Friday, March 31, 2017

He's Not Crazy, He's Big-Brained

Mini Me versus the old man:
“He’s not rational,” McCain told MSNBC host Greta van Susteren on March 22nd. “We’re not dealing even with someone like Joseph Stalin, who had a certain rationality to his barbarity.”

McCain called on China to control Kim, saying Beijing could “stop North Korea’s economy in a week” if it wanted to.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry responded that McCain (and his colleague Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who wants North Korea designated a state sponsor of terrorism) had insulted the “dignity” of the supreme leader.

“What they uttered to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK is just a manifestation of their worst hostility toward the DPRK’s ideology and social system and its people and a grave provocation little short of declaration of war against it,” the Foreign Ministry said, as transcribed by the UK Independent.
Thus proving McCain's point...

No Deal

Flynn won't get immunity:
A senior congressional official with direct knowledge said Flynn's lawyer was told it was "wildly preliminary" and that immunity was "not on the table" at the moment. A second source said the committee communicated that it is "not receptive" to Flynn's request "at this time."

The senior congressional official also said that Flynn's lawyer had conveyed the offer of testimony in exchange for immunity from prosecution to the Justice Department.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D.-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, acknowledged in a statement that the Justice Department's interest in Flynn's testimony could take precedence over Congress' wish to hear from him.

He also said there are "many more witnesses and documents to obtain" before the House Intelligence Committee can consider any immunity request — specifically citing a background check document that would show whether Flynn reported work he did for any foreign entities.

And, Schiff noted, "we should first acknowledge what a grave and momentous step it is for a former National Security Adviser to the President of the United States to ask for immunity from prosecution."
A small fish in a big swamp?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Tribe

Navajos rejoice:
The Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine on Navajo land in Arizona has directly and indirectly provided 3,100 jobs and $180 million in annual income to workers and their families.

The lease agreements, royalties, and other payments are tied to the plant and mine account for approximately 20 percent of Navajo Nation annual general fund revenue, with the money used to fund schools, emergency services, infrastructure, and public parks.

And now, because regulations have driven up the cost of coal, the plant owners who lease the land have announced it will close in 2019, adding even more strain to a community that suffers from a 42 percent unemployment rate and 43 percent of its people living below the federal poverty line.

Now, the Navajo Nation hopes that President Donald Trump and the Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will help resolve this crisis by working to keep the plant open for 10 years so that alternative income streams can be developed ahead of its closure.

“The president made a pledge to the coal industry to do whatever he can to help those workers,” a senior white house official told reporters on Monday ahead of Trump’s executive order on Tuesday to roll back much of the “climate change” policies put in place by Obama.
Black man spoke with forked tongue...

We Will Dissolve You?

The president of the EU has some words for across the pond:
“The newly elected U.S. president was happy that Brexit was taking place, and asked other countries to do the same,” he told at a European People’s Party conference, recalling the president’s prediction that Brexit will be “fantastic” for the United Kingdom.

“If he goes on like that,” he said, “I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas.”

“Juncker has made a complete fool of himself,” commented Brexit campaign leader and former UKIP chief Nigel Farage in a press release.

“He clearly does not understand the difference between the EU and the United States of America. One was formed by consent while the other is being imposed.”
Der Eurocrat has spoken...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

They Didn't Stop The Fire

The auditors are coming:
The bill soared through The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform after it was passed by voice vote with just around 30 minutes of debate. Libertarians and Republicans have been very supportive of such bills in the past, including the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2012 – a creation of then Texas congressman Ron Paul – which was overwhelmingly passed in the House with a bipartisan vote.

This time, however, the Democrats would have nothing to do with the bill, according to Market Watch.

“This bill would open the floodgates to political interference in monetary-policy making,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from the District of Columbia.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, said the measure would lead to higher interest rates because it would undermine the market’s confidence in the independence of the central bank.
Massie responded to the Democrats criticism of the bill, saying “It is ironic that the arsonists that caused the financial collapse are now being given credit…for putting out the fire. Almost every macroeconomist concedes in retrospect that [the Fed’s] extended period of easy money led to the financial crisis.”
Democrats often love to take credit for the damage that others fixed...

Fake Science News

Where the "experts" get their opinions from:
According to Armstrong, very little of the forecasting in climate change debate adheres to these criteria. “For example, for disclosure, we were working on polar bear [population] forecasts, and we were asked to review the government’s polar bear forecast. We asked, ‘could you send us the data’ and they said ‘No’… So we had to do it without knowing what the data were.”

According to Armstrong, forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) violate all eight criteria.

“Why is this all happening? Nobody asks them!” said Armstrong, who says that people who submit papers to journals are not required to follow the scientific method. “You send something to a journal and they don’t tell you what you have to do. They don’t say ‘here’s what science is, here’s how to do it.'”
Don't bother them with real scientific facts...

Spies After All

An inconvenient admission:
“I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration,” Farkas, who is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said.

“Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy ... that the Trump folks – if they found out how we knew what we knew about their ... the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence.”

The comments come as lawmakers on Capitol Hill clash over House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' claim last week that surveillance operations incidentally collected Trump team communications during the transition. Critics have accused Nunes of carrying water for Trump and called on him to recuse himself from Russia matters, but Nunes and his congressional allies have pushed back.
And now they have more ammo...

Breaking Away

Britain officially goes it alone:
“Today the government acts on the democratic will of the British people.” Prime Minister Theresa May told lawmakers in the House of Commons, adding, “This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”

Tusk tweeted that “after nine months the UK has delivered,” followed by a photo of Barrow handing him the letter in front of British and EU flags in Brussels.

There is “no reason to pretend this is a happy day,” Tusk said during a speech later, emphasizing that the priority now is to minimize costs for EU citizens and member states.

But for Britons who voted 52 to 48 percent to leave the bloc in a referendum nine months ago, it was a time for celebration.

“In my opinion, this is the greatest moment in modern British history,” said Brendan Chilton, general secretary of the pro-Brexit group Labour Leave. “We are finally beginning the process by which we leave the European Union, restore our Parliament and once again become a sovereign nation.”
The UK is back in business...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Blue Russians

Turnabout is fair play:
Trump’s assertion that then-Secretary of State Clinton “allowed big Uranium to go to Russia” and Bill Clinton’s high-dollar “Russian speech” were allegations first reported by The New York Times (NYT) and based on research from the NYT bestseller Clinton Cash, authored by Breitbart News Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer.

The facts found in Clinton Cash, reported by the NYT, and deemed accurate by establishment media reveal how Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State coincided with the influx of tens of millions of dollars from foreign sources into the Clinton Foundation which resulted in favorable actions for Russia’s government.

Indeed the Clinton Foundation had received millions in donations from several investors in Uranium One, a Canadian-based company in which a majority stake was sold to Russia’s nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, in a lucrative deal needing approval from Clinton’s State Department and eight other federal agencies.

“The sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States,” The New York Times confirmed.
That's a lot of leverage. But, Trump!

Making Michigan Great Again

Ford gears up production where it began:
The company said Tuesday it will invest $850 million to retool its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne for truck and SUV production; $150 million in its Romeo Engine Plant to expand capacity for several vehicles; and $200 million to build a data center at the company’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant. Ford announced in January the Flat Rock facility also would see a $700 million investment and 700 new jobs to support the production of electrified and autonomous vehicles.

The total investment represents an additional $350 million above those negotiated as part of the 2015 United Auto Workers contract. Plans for the data center at Flat Rock are new; the company added $150 million to its budget for Michigan Assembly upgrades. The $150 million for the Romeo plant upgrades were previously outlined in the UAW contract. According to the contract, the automaker will invest at least $9 billion in U.S. facilities through 2019.

The investments announced Tuesday are expected to add or retain 130 jobs at the Romeo Engine plant; Ford did not offer employment estimates for Michigan Assembly or Flat Rock.
It will all be good news in the long run...

A Fake News Education

Who really falls for fake news?
Pelley repeatedly told viewers that fake news was an issue on both sides, but never provided any proof until the nine-minute-mark of the 13-minute exposé with two ludicrous headlines about President Trump using drugs and having cancer.

It was soon after this that guest and “internet advertising firm” CEO Jeff Green dropped this admission that both he and Pelley seemed befuddled by:

JEFF GREEN: So the first thing that we found out is that it is definitely a phenomenon that affects both sides.

PELLEY: Liberals and conservatives?

GREEN: Yes. There is no question they're both affected.

There was yet another surprise in store for these hardcore liberals. After citing a case of left-wing fake news about Congress “plotting to overthrow President Trump,” Green revealed that “fake news readers on the left were more likely to be affluent and college educated.” At the other end, “right-leaning fake news overwhelmingly attracted readers in their 40s and 50s.”

Green admitted that this “shocked me,” and Pelley had a similarly flabbergasted look. Green added that he “thought the same way that many Americans perhaps think is that fake news was a phenomenon that only tricked the uneducated,” but, alas, “not true — just not — the data shows it's just not true.”
The smarter they are, the dumber they are?

The Great Hack Robbery

Mini Me, bank robber?
The list of targets, which has not been previously reported, is part of a growing body of evidence showing how North Korea, a country that is cut off from much of the global economy, is increasingly trying to use its cyberattack abilities to bring in cash — and making progressively bolder attempts to do so.

North Korea’s hacking network is immense, encompassing a group of 1,700 hackers aided by more than 5,000 trainers, supervisors and others in supporting roles, South Korean officials estimate. Because of the country’s poor infrastructure, the hackers typically work abroad, in places like China, Southeast Asia and Europe. Like other North Koreans allowed to work abroad, the hackers are constantly monitored by minders for possible breaches in allegiance to the government.

The security firm Symantec said it believed that the hackers behind the Poland attack were also behind two other major breaches: the theft of $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh and a 2014 attack on Sony Pictures, which rocked the film industry.

“We found multiple links, which gave us reasonable confidence that it’s the same group behind Bangladesh as the Polish attacks,” said Eric Chien, a researcher at Symantec, which studied both attacks.
Lil' Kim needs nuke money...

Gutting Of The Green

The Green Era is over:
The decree's main target is former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan that required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants - a critical element in helping the United States meet its commitments to a global climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.

The so-called "Energy Independence" order also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undoes rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production, and reduces the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.

"I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations," Trump said at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, speaking on a stage lined with coal miners.

The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the presidential campaign. But energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the moves will have a big effect on their industries, and environmentalists have called them reckless.

"I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry," Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White told Reuters.
People and their livelihoods are part of the environment, too...

Repeal Round Two?

They're not done yet:
Just days after President Trump said he was moving on to other issues, senior White House officials are now saying they have hope that they can still score the kind of big legislative victory that has so far eluded Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for lunchtime talks.

“We’re not going to retrench into our corners or put up dividing lines,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said after a meeting of House Republicans that was dominated by a discussion of how to restart the health negotiations. “There’s too much at stake to get bogged down in all of that.”

The House Republican whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, said of Democrats, “Their celebration is premature. We are closer to repealing Obamacare than we ever have been before.”

It is not clear what political dynamics might have changed since Friday, when a coalition of hard-line conservatives and more moderate Republicans torpedoed legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. The replacement bill would still leave 24 million more Americans without insurance after a decade, a major worry for moderate Republicans. It would also leave in place regulations on the health insurance industry that conservatives find anathema.
Trying the same thing twice isn't a solution, it's just Stupid Party...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Supreme Court Red Line

The Democrats go there:
At least 17 Democrats have come out in opposition to Gorsuch and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that he will filibuster the nominee, which means he'll force a 60-vote threshold once it clears the committee.

With Republicans holding 52 seats, they will need at least eight Democrats to vote with them under the current rules to send the nominee forward for a final confirmation vote that would then require a simple majority.

But Republicans do have the extreme option of employing the "nuclear" option -- a change of Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet tipped his hand on whether he is willing to do that, and it's not clear that he will have to make that decision as there are still 30 Democrats who haven't said how they will vote. A change in the rules would become the norm for future Supreme Court nominations, taking away the minority party's ability to mount a challenge to the lifetime appointments.
It looks like the Democrats are bringing their own political apocalypse on themselves...

Taking Out Big Government

Donald Trump's top gun:
The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.

“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

In a White House riven at times by disorder and competing factions, the innovation office represents an expansion of Kushner’s already far-reaching influence. The 36-year-old former real estate and media executive will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel. He also is a shadow diplomat, serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.
Sounds like the right man for the job...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Worst Spenders Ever

California's money for nothing:
The state is only somewhat below average total infrastructure spending on a per capita basis. Virtual Capitalist gave it an overall rank of 33 — but that was only because while it ranked lowest in state spending, it ranked highest in federal spending.

With California in desperate need of emergency infrastructure spending to repair its crumbling dams and flood control infrastructure, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gov. Jerry Brown submitted a $100-billion infrastructure wish list to the Trump Administration.

Although he did ask for some roads and bridges, Brown requested funds for several new rail projects.
A pipe dream is only as good as its funding...

The Democrats Now Have Their Alternative

As expected:
The pressure came after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, at the urging of President Donald Trump, withdrew the American Health Care Act, the House Republican leaders’ effort to replace Obamacare. The measure lacked the 218 necessary votes.

Local public radio station KQED reported:

“I extend my hand to the president if he wants to improve the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi told a crowd of several hundred people gathered at a town hall meeting at Balboa High School in San Francisco.



The first audience question was more of a long argument for a socialized health system that some are calling “Medicare for all,” which would eliminate insurance companies.

Pelosi, unruffled by the at times unruly crowd, noted: “I supported single payer since before you were born.”
Was that before or after her people crossed the land bridge?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

No Gas Today

Venezuela runs dry:
According to the newspaper El Nacional, one-third of Venezuela’s 24 states – Miranda, Aragua, Lara, Barinas, Anzoátegui, Nueva Esparta, Bolívar, and Monagas – have reported significant shortages in gasoline for sale in stations throughout their cities. Hundreds of cars have been stranded on long lines at gas stations or in the middle of streets on their way to gas stations, distorting traffic flows and generally preventing city traffic from flowing smoothly.

Venezuelans speaking to media outlets expressed confusion and frustration at their inability to find a properly stocked gas station. “I have been to four or five gas stations and it has been impossible to fill my car,” José Torres of Caracas told reporters after finally finding one open gas station.

“Yesterday, I went to three filling stations and I couldn’t fill my tank,” student Freddy Bautista said on Thursday. “I’ve been waiting 30 minutes here, and it seems like I’ll be able to fill up today,” he added, in front of a gas station in east Caracas.

While Venezuela is naturally gifted with ample oil reserves – an estimated 298 billion barrels – its oil is extremely thick and requires extensive refining before being able to be sold as fuel. Venezuela’s socialist government relies on foreign entities to do the refining.
I'm sure their solutions to this problem will be as "creative" as all the others they've tried...

Lost In the Wilderness

That moment when you learn your show was canceled:
Over time, all but 10 contestants quit the show, The Press and Journal of Aberdeen, Scotland, reported. Those who left cited concerns about health and safety, boredom and swarms of tiny biting insects called midges.

The contestants were on an uninhabited private estate that the Ministry of Defense used as a training ground during World War II, The Radio Times of London reported. A six-foot fence was erected on three sides of the estate, with the fourth side bordered by the sea, it said.

The series was filmed with a crew of four embedded with the contestants, who also had personal cameras. A rig of 45 cameras, described by The Radio Times as a network of closed-circuit television cameras that could be controlled remotely, was also used.

Unlike American reality television shows, such as the “Survivor” series — in which contestants compete against one another — “Eden” had no winners or losers. It was intended to feature the making of a society from scratch.
At least they literally got to try it for real...

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Other Side Blinks?

Democrats may be ready for one:
Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the upper chamber, have the option of changing Senate rules so that a filibuster can be ended with a simple majority vote. Democrats, when in the majority during the Obama administration, made the rules change effective for all non-Supreme Court nominations.

Democrats are leery of pressing the ongoing confirmation process to the point Republicans invoke the so-called nuclear option, as it would make a subsequent Trump nomination a fait accompli. But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed doubt that any Democrats would vote to confirm Gorsuch, a strong signal the Kentucky Republican is ready to change the rule.

“It does sound like he’s laying the groundwork for the nuclear option,” Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin said of McConnell. “Let’s wait and see how this evolves.”

Trump Adviser for the Supreme Court Leonard Leo scoffed at the idea Republicans could be pressured into withholding the nuclear option in exchange for Gorsuch's confirmation.

“This absurd ‘deal’ would prolong an environment in which Democrat Supreme Court nominees get up or down simple majority votes and Republican nominees get filibustered -- that’s not a deal, it’s a unilateral disarmament,” Leo said.
Fortunately, the Republicans can go tell the Democrats what they can go do with their offer...

Second Thoughts?

President Trump may have some misgivings:
Mr. Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans.

He said ruefully this week that he should have done tax reform first when it became clear that the quick-hit health care victory he had hoped for was not going to materialize on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the act’s passage, when the legislation was scheduled for a vote.

Two of his most influential advisers — Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, and Gary D. Cohn, the National Economic Council director, who had a major role in pushing the bill — came to agree, and did not like the compromise that was emerging. So on Thursday night, Mr. Trump delivered an ultimatum.

He dispatched his budget adviser, Mick Mulvaney, to a conference of House Republicans and told them they had to vote on Friday. And if the bill fails, he said, Mr. Trump will move on.
Fight the battles you can win...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Web Control

The regulators are still at it:
Using the "altFEC" twitter account, one of several "alt" sites set up by government workers in agencies resisting the new Trump administration, the proponents reference Ravel's critical report.

"It means that the @FEC's disclosure rules have not been updated for the era of YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter," it said, reiterating charges from Ravel and others that the FEC rules are outdated. She led the effort to change them and Republicans on the commission said that her goal was only to regulate right-leaning websites, like Drudge, and online campaigns of Republicans.
....

"altFEC is attacking the GOPers' original vote to apply the internet exemption to a conservative organization," said an insider, noting that Republicans pushed to keep regulations from internet sites in order to maintain its free-wheeling style.
Which I kind of thought was the point of the Internet...

Et Tu, Obama

Two investigations for the price of one:
Whether Barack Obama ordered the surveillance of Donald Trump during the transition is not the question. He would never have had to. In fact, he would have been highly unlikely to have done so for obvious legal and practical/political reasons. Instead, supporters of the then president in a position to authorize or activate such surveillance would normally know or assume his wishes anyway without having to be told and could act accordingly.

That is the way of the world since there was a world.

The operative question is whether these recorded conversations then ever wound up on Obama's desk or whether he knew about them in some other manner... and, if so, when. If the worst is true, it is a scandal that makes Watergate seem like a child's prank. Even Watergate's own Bob Woodward seemed to acknowledge as much on The O'Reilly Factor on Wednesday night.

This is why any legitimate investigation by a congressional committee or anyone else must encompass both Obama and Trump. This is a two-part story. If both parties are not investigated -- they cannot be separated -- this is no more than a partisan show. Further, the press cannot even faintly be trusted to investigate or adjudicate this matter. Their bias is so overwhelming it would sink the Titanic twice.
Who investigates the investigators?

Pushing The Button

The Democrats go there:
Democrats, with Schumer’s support, will force a procedural vote which requires 60 senators to vote in favor of taking up consideration of Gorsuch’s nomination. The maneuver, called a filibuster, could temporarily stymie the nomination, as Republicans control only 52 seats in the Senate, eight short of the 60-vote threshold
....

The announcement comes just one day after Gorsuch’s appearance before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary concluded. The judge took questions from members of the panel over several days.

The decision now raises the prospect of the so-called “nuclear-option,” by which Senate Republicans would abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Democrats abolished the 60-vote threshold for judicial nominees at former Sen. Harry Reid’s direction in 2013, but preserved the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
Turnabout is fair play...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Her Major Award

It's her participation trophy moment:
The former first daughter will be honored at a “Power of Women” luncheon on April 21, Variety announced. Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Blake Lively, Audra McDonald and Shari Redstone will also receive the awards.

Clinton, a 37-year-old mother of two, is receiving the award “for her work with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which empowers kids to develop lifelong healthy habits,” Variety says in a statement.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which helps fight childhood obesity, is affiliated with the Clinton Foundation, where Clinton serves as vice chair.

Clinton’s other achievements include being born to one of the most skilled politicians in American history, growing up in the White House, landing a $600,000 contract with MSNBC, marrying a hedge fund millionaire, and tweeting constantly about President Trump.
Barack Obama got a prize for less...

The Steps To Irrelevancy

Donald Trum versus...stairs?

Take Our Money, Please

Paying their fair share?
“Now is the time to invest in the long-term economic viability of New York,” the letter reads. “We need to invest in pathways out of poverty and up the economic ladder for all of our fellow citizens, including strong public education from pre-K to college. And, we need to invest in the fragile bridges, tunnels, waterlines, public buildings, and roads that we all depend on.”

The letter endorses a plan called the “1 Percent Tax Plan for Tax Fairness,” which would create new, higher income tax brackets for the state’s wealthiest individuals to raise a projected $2 billion.

The left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute, a think tank focused on economic policy, and the Responsible Wealth project, a group of America’s wealthiest individuals who support “fair taxes and corporate accountability,” helped formulate the proposal

Ron Deutsch, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, called it “refreshing” that the state’s wealthiest were willing to pay more.
Well, as they say, talk is cheap, and so are many of these people...

Robot Minister

They really are after everyone's job:
The study found that 42 percent of UK consumers believe their job is likely to be replaced by a robot in the next 30 years, while 25 percent think that this could happen within the next 10 years.

However, the surprising, or not-so-surprising (depending on your opinion of politicians) findings from the report reveal that consumers would entrust the running of the country to robots. 66 percent of UK citizens expect that robots will be working within the government by 2037, with 16 percent believing this could happen in the next one to two years.

A further finding which may cause concern for Number 10 is that one in four think robots will make better decisions that elected government representatives, mainly in regards to the economy. However, a further 35 percent of UK citizens say robots would not be able to assess the cultural aspects when it comes to decision making.
A rational politician? It'll never happen...

Leader Wanted, No Experience Necessary

Who wants to run the Democratic Party:
“There is a vacuum now in the Democratic Party in terms of leadership and a 2020 candidate, so it’s the Democrats who might have a raft of candidates next time, especially if the voters are searching for someone new,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn.

When Clinton was taken out of the list of potential 2020 candidates, Sanders’s support went up to 18 percent, followed by Michelle Obama at 14 percent and Warren at 10 percent. No other candidate received more than 4 percent support, and 44 percent of respondents said they want someone not on the list.

“Michelle Obama has some potential as a future candidate if she was interested in politics,” Penn said.

Barack Obama has said his wife “will never run for office,” though she remains hugely popular among Democrats.

The party is in the midst of a full-scale rebuilding project after the 2016 elections, in which it lost control of the White House and failed to win majorities in either the House or Senate.

Democratic ranks have also faced serious defeats at the state level, where the party has lost about 1,000 legislative seats since Obama took office. Republicans control 69 of 99 legislative chambers across the country and 33 of 50 governor mansions.
Every circus needs a ringleader...

Not So Huge

The Trump tax cuts may not be quite what you hoped for:
The House is set to vote on the Republican health-care plan on Thursday, and even with the tweaks lawmakers have been making to it, passage looks iffy.

Moreover, if it does pass, the bill’s prospects in the Senate aren’t good. But before Senate Republicans can come up with their own version of the health-care legislation, they have a Supreme Court nominee to approve.

Then, if the Senate can pass a bill of its own, there will be a House-Senate conference to resolve differences.

It is a process that would come with significant hurdles even in normal times, much less today’s distraction-riddled political climate. At the least, the health-care bill could be sitting on Capitol Hill for a long time.
Granted, it can take a long time to get anything done in Washington. But not as long to mess up a good idea...

Uranium Man

John Podesta's Russian friends:
Podesta — best known as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman and former President Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff — first made contact with the Russian firm in 2011, when he joined the boards and executive committees of three related entities: Boston-based Joule Unlimited; Rotterdam-based Joule Global Holdings; Joule Global Stichting, the company’s controlling interest. All are high-tech renewable energy enterprises.

Three months after Podesta’s arrival, Joule Unlimited accepted a 1 billion ruble investment from Rusnano, amounting to $35 million in U.S. currency. The firm also awarded a Joule board seat in February 2012 to Anatoly Chubais, Rusnano’s CEO, who has been depicted as a corrupt figure.

Podesta has attempted to downplay his relationship with Joule and Rusnano, but it could come to haunt him.
Russian ghosts can be notoriously hard to get rid of...

Almost Live

RIP Chuck Barris:
Barris died of natural causes Tuesday afternoon at his home in Palisades, New York, according to publicist Paul Shefrin, who announced the death on behalf of Barris' family.

Barris made game show history right off the bat, in 1966, with "The Dating Game," hosted by Jim Lange.

The gimmick: a young female questions three males, hidden from her view, to determine which would be the best date. Sometimes the process was switched, with a male questioning three females. But in all cases the questions were designed by the show's writers to elicit sexy answers.

Celebrities and future celebrities who appeared as contestants included Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Martin and a pre-"Charlie's Angels" Farrah Fawcett, introduced as "an accomplished artist and sculptress" with a dream to open her own gallery.
Chuck Barris warped a lot of young minds with The Gong Show. And of course who could forget Gene Gene the Dancing Machine? RIP:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The River Runs Free?

Rivers are people too:
"We consider the river an ancestor and always have," Gerrard Albert, the lead negotiator for the Whanganui iwi tribe, told Britain's The Guardian. "We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as in indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management."

"Te Awa Tupua will have its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person," Chris Finlayson, minister of the treaty of Waitangi negotiations, said in a statement to the New Zealand outlet NewsHub. "The approach to granting legal personality to a river is unique."

"I know some people will say it's pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality, but it's no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies," Finlayson argued. "For Whanganui Iwi it means they have a representative speaking for the river, the Crown has a representative speaking for the river, and they are focused on addressing many of the problems the river has had over the last 140 years."
No, it's just pretty strange...

Blocking Interception

Can they really stop Obamacare Lite?
Top House Republicans hunting votes for their health care overhaul are proposing amendments aimed at providing more help for older people, curbing Medicaid and accelerating the repeal of some tax increases.

The bill would let people deduct more medical costs from taxes. It would repeal many tax increases boosted by President Obama's 2010 statute this year instead of 2018. Older and disabled Medicaid recipients would get more generous benefits. But states could impose work requirements on the program.

The bill would let the Senate approve tax credits more generous to people age 50 to 64. Congressional analysts say the current GOP legislation would hit many with big cost increases.

GOP leaders released the changes late Monday, three days ahead of a planned House vote on the bill.
Of course, the real issue is Obamacare itself, which seems to have become awfully hard to get rid of...

March Of The Russian Bots

More collusion claims:
The FBI-led investigation is focused on Russia’s use of social media “bots” to amplify stories that put Donald Trump in a favorable light when he appeared to be struggling during the campaign, two anonymous sources told McClatchy. Part of the investigation involves working to determine whether any of the sites whose stories the bots often amplified were cooperating in some way with the Russian operatives.

The bots were apparently strategically timed computer commands, which would spread links to stories from right-wing and Russian propaganda sites all over social media. The bots could operate without any help from the sites involved, but the FBI is nevertheless exploring the possibility. McClatchy’s sources said the federal agents are looking into Breitbart, InfoWars and the Russian propaganda outlets Sputnik and Russia Today, although it’s unclear if other sites are involved in the probe.
Does it matter? Witch hunts usually cast a wide net...

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Ties That Don't Bind

It's now official:
The FBI director testified alongside National Security Agency head Michael Rogers before the House Intelligence Committee Monday.

“Our practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations, especially those that include classified matters,” Comey said. “But, in unusual circumstances, it may be appropriate to do so. This is one of those circumstances. I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. That includes any links between the Trump campaign and Russian government, and whether there was cooperation.”

“This will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed,” he continued. “Because it’s classified, I can not say more about who we are investigating.”
Who should be more wirried-President Trump, or the media if they're embarrassed yet again?

Here Comes The Judge

It was his big day, or was it?
The nominee himself, Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seemed almost an afterthought at times, sitting alone at the witness table, occasionally nodding or taking notes, as the 20 members of the Judiciary Committee took turns delivering lengthy and partisan opening statements.

Gorsuch will get his turn to speak at the end of the day Monday, when he will deliver his own opening statement, and questioning will begin on Tuesday. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced the panel would vote on Gorsuch’s nomination April 3, with a vote on the Senate floor expected later that week.

It’s all unfolding fully 13 months after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death created a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Mr. Gorsuch goes to Washington, but did anybody remember he was there?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Taxman Goeth

More money, less problems:
WATTERS: “The income tax rate, what are we talking about? What would you like to see the top rate be?”
TRUMP: “Well we're going to get a big reduction, we're going to bring business down from 15% to 20% from 36% and 38% and higher in some instances. We are the highest taxed nation in the world. And we are going to bring taxes way down. And for middle income, we're also getting rid of brackets. We are going from 7 to 4 or 3 brackets. And that will be such a pleasure."
WATTERS: "What would you like to see the brackets look like?"
TRUMP: "Well I would like to see zero if you don’t make much. Like zero, and that's what it's going to be, it's going to be zero up to a level. Then it's going be 12.5%, 15%. It's going to be 10 percent. We're working on the different numbers right now. It will be the biggest tax cut since Reagan and probably bigger than Reagan."
WATTERS: "Very good because I need the money."
Don't we all...

Russian To Judgment

All hype, no evidence:
Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence.

The latest official to throw cold water on the MSNBC-led circus is President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morell. What makes him particularly notable in this context is that Morell was one of Clinton’s most vocal CIA surrogates. In August, he not only endorsed Clinton in the pages of the New York Times but also became the first high official to explicitly accuse Trump of disloyalty, claiming, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

But on Wednesday night, Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum to “cast doubt” on “allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire at all,” he said, adding, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”
There's still plenty of smoke, but it seems clear where it's blowing from...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Queen Of The Forest

Hillary's sort-of comeback continues:
Clinton's gradual return to the public spotlight following her presidential election loss continued with a St. Patrick's Day speech in her late father's Pennsylvania hometown of Scranton.

"I'm like a lot of my friends right now, I have a hard time watching the news," Clinton told an Irish women's group.

But she urged a divided country to work together to solve problems, recalling how, as first lady, she met with female leaders working to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

"I do not believe that we can let political divides harden into personal divides. And we can't just ignore, or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically," she said.

Friday night's speech was one of several she is to deliver in the coming months, including a May 26 commencement address at her alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts. The Democrat also is working on a book of personal essays that will include some reflections on her loss to Donald Trump.

Clinton, who was spotted taking a walk in the woods around her hometown of Chappaqua, New York, two days after losing the election to Donald Trump, quipped she had wanted to stay in the woods, "but you can only do so much of that."
It works for other hermits...

Muddy Waters

Here we go again:
“We are going to see who the real patriots are when we unveil this collusion that I believe is there. I think in the final analysis they are going to have to move away from [Trump] and we will see that he will be in a position where he will meet the standards and the criteria for higher crimes and misdemeanors, and I maintain that’s where impeachment comes in.

Last month, Waters said it was her “greatest desire” to lead Trump “right into impeachment.
I'm sure this will work just like all the other things she wants him impeached for...

Johnny B Good

A true giant has left us:
The singer/songwriter, whose classic “Johnny B. Goode” was chosen by Carl Sagan to be included on the golden record of Earth Sounds and Music launched with Voyager in 1977, died Saturday afternoon, St. Charles County Police Department confirmed. The cause of death was not revealed.

During his 60-plus years in show business, Berry in 1986 became one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He entered The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in ’85 and that year also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Practically anyone who ever picked up a guitar after 1956 or so owes him a debt of gratitude. RIP.

Just What They Wanted?

So Donna Brazile finally comes clean:
“When I was asked last July to step in temporarily as D.N.C. Chair,” Brazile explained, “I knew things were amiss. The D.N.C. had been hacked, and thousands of staff emails and documents were plastered on various websites. Staff were harassed, morale suffered, and we lost weeks of planning. Donors were harassed, and fundraising fell off.”

“Then in October, a subsequent release of emails revealed that among the many things I did in my role as a Democratic operative and D.N.C. Vice Chair prior to assuming the interim D.N.C. Chair position was to share potential town hall topics with the Clinton campaign,” Brazil added.

On October 14th, CNN accepted Brazile’s resignation as a network contributor. CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter said Brazile’s collusion with the Clinton campaign “embarrassed all of CNN.”

But in her Time letter, Brazile said “the media narrative” about her being in cahoots with the Clinton campaign “played out just as the Russians had hoped, leaving Sanders supporters understandably angry and sowing division in our ranks.”
More of those Russian mind tricks?

The Circus Responds

A judge for the 9th Circuit insists they're not as bad as those other guys:
In testimony provided to a House Judiciary subcommittee, Thomas even provided a graph that proved his court in recent years hasn't been the one with the most Supreme Court reversals.

"The record must be corrected," said his written comments. "In recent years, the reversal rate of the Ninth Circuit has not deviated much from the rest of the circuits. It is not the most reversed circuit. Indeed, during the entire Roberts era, the most reversed circuit is the Sixth Circuit, not the Ninth," he charged.

"The Ninth is not the most reversed circuit," he reiterated. It was one of several charges against the court that he pushed back on.
Sorry, you're still overruled...

Cleaning Time

Why hasn't the EPA actually been doing its job?
Over the last decade, climate change has become the EPA's number one priority. Consider the ascendancy of global warming in the agency's multi-year strategic plans for air quality, which are required by law. In the EPA's 2001 — 2005 Strategic Plan, "Goal 1" is "Clean Air," while climate change mitigation was subsumed in "Goal 6: Reduction of Global and Cross-Border Environmental Risks." However, in the 2006-2010 plan, climate change mitigation is incorporated into a new "Goal 1," which is titled "Clean Air and Global Climate Change." And in the 2011-2015 plan, "Goal 1" is changed again to "Taking Action on Climate Change and Improving Air Quality" — that is, global warming is listed before improving air quality.

A look back shows that the EPA's shift in focus to climate change accelerated during the Obama administration. In 2014, for example, then-EPA administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters that "all hands on deck" at the agency were working on President Barack Obama's climate action plan.
All action, no real results...

One Party Rule

Feminists need to diversify:
“I don’t like the way feminism has gotten bogged down by being identified with one party: my party, the Democratic Party,” Paglia said Friday during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show.

Paglia, the author of “Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism,” said she does not like the current direction of the feminist movement and would prefer to see it include a larger swath of women.

“I want feminism to include women who are conservative, women who are church-going, women who are into home-schooling and so on. As well as women like me, who favor total abortion rights,” she said.
Will any of her friends agree?

Evil Is As Evil Does

How many brain cells died because of this?
Fleccas interviewed several of the participants, who told him they were protesting the USDA’s decision to remove their list of animal welfare reports from its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, but attributed the decision directly to the president.

“Why are you against Trump,” Fleccas asked one protester.

“Because he’s an evil dictator,” she responded, then went on to explain it is because he is a capitalist. Explaining that she is a communist, the unnamed protester continued, saying that communism has worked in America. “It’s kind of worked in America, in a way, back in the day…no?”
Um, no, because we never tried it...

The Opposition Within

President Trump verses the Republicans:
Trump's embrace of a House GOP plan to overhaul the country's health system faces deep opposition from across the party, as does his push to get U.S. taxpayers to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Republicans largely rejected his thin, 53-page first budget, joking that there's a "fat chance for skinny budget" on Capitol Hill. And his tax reform and infrastructure plans have yet to gain any real traction in Congress.

Trump insisted on Friday that he is leading a party that is coalescing behind him.

"I think we have a very unified party. I think actually more unified than even the election," he said at a White House news conference with German leader Angela Merkel. "You see when they talk about me, I seem to be very popular, at least this week within the party."

Long a divisive political figure, Trump entered office with historically low approval ratings and a popular vote loss of nearly 3 million. Still, he claimed a sweeping mandate when he arrived in Washington, fiercely pushing back on any suggestion that he won with less than a historic margin and moving quickly on a series of controversial executive orders.

Now, his administration has reached the limits of what it can achieve without Congress, leaving Trump struggling to lead his party on Capitol Hill — starting with the health care bill.
They were used to getting their slice of the pie...

Friday, March 17, 2017

Purse Snatchers

Not all Republicans are on board with Trump's budget:
“We will certainly review this budget proposal, but Congress ultimately has the power of the purse. As the full budget picture emerges in the coming weeks, I am optimistic that we can work with the Administration to responsibly fund the federal government, including those agencies which serve as vital economic lifelines in rural parts of the country that are still working to overcome substantial challenges.

“As the full budget picture emerges in the coming weeks, I am optimistic that we can work with the Administration to responsibly fund the federal government, including those agencies which serve as vital economic lifelines in rural parts of the country that are still working to overcome substantial challenges.”

Another top House Republican and the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Mike Conaway, took shots at the president’s cuts to the agriculture programs.

“At first blush, I am pleased that the administration is working to restore the strength of our nation’s armed forces to make sure that our men and women in uniform have the equipment that they need to defend our country and our interests around the world,” said Conaway, a Texas Republican who also sits on both the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee.

“On the USDA budget, I am concerned that the cuts, while relatively small in the context of the total federal budget, could hamper some vital work of the department,” he said. “I think it is very important to remember that net farm income is down 50 percent from where it stood just four years ago. America’s farmers and ranchers are struggling, and we need to be extremely careful not to exacerbate these conditions. In fact, we need to do all we can to be there to help our farmers and ranchers. The work they do is critical.

“I think it is very important to remember that net farm income is down 50 percent from where it stood just four years ago. America’s farmers and ranchers are struggling, and we need to be extremely careful not to exacerbate these conditions. In fact, we need to do all we can to be there to help our farmers and ranchers.”

Another Republican taking on the president’s budget cuts is Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, and The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been a successful public-private partnership that helps protect both our environment and our economy,” Portman said.
Everyone wants to save their pork-and their own bacon?

Surf's Down

Mexico literally dumps on California:
Despite the silence when the spill began Feb. 6, some 200,000 people living in South San Diego, Imperial Beach and Chula Vista knew there was something amiss. Even a mile away from the Tijuana River they could smell the eye-watering, throat-burning, overwhelming smell of raw sewage. They’d eventually learn this was the worst sewage spill in the region in a decade.

The spill resulted in several miles of beaches being closed for five to six weeks from the Mexican border north to the city of Coronado. One beach by the border is still closed.

“For San Diego, which is defined by its relationship with the ocean, this kind of massive sewage spill across the border is unacceptable,” U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat who represents some of the affected areas, told Fox News. “From surfing, to the Navy and Marine Corps presence, it drives our way of life and large parts of our economy.”
Our relations with Mexico really do stink...

Got Racism?

It does stupidity good:
Samantha Diaz, a staff writer for The Daily 49er, said that she believes her fellow millennials are being brainwashed into thinking milk is merely a drink people consume to strengthen their bones. But Diaz contends milk is actually a symbol of hate that many people haven’t considered.

“If you’re having trouble finding the connection between these institutions and milk, you’re not alone. You, along with the rest of the nation, have been so accustomed to hearing the benefits of milk that you probably didn’t even realize the subtle racism hidden in our health facts,” Diaz wrote in her piece titled, “Milk new symbol of hate?”

Diaz went on to explain that the country was founded on racism and that practically every facet of our government, such as voter ID laws and state testing, are rooted in racist undertones. She contended these racist roots are even attached to our federal dietary guidelines. Why? Because milk is pushed by the government, even though it is not beneficial to the health of some minorities, she claimed.
Ah, but what about other dairy products? Cheese, butter, all that evil stuff...

Flat Footed

What shoes should you wear?
Members heard the argument after a petition was signed by more than 152,000 people last year requesting that Parliament make it illegal for employers to require female employees to wear high heels. Creator of the petition Nicola Thorp said she was sent home on her first day of work after refusing to wear high heels. Her company, Portico, required that women wear heels between two-and-four inches high.

“Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist,” Thorp said in the petition.

Whether she was aware of the dress code before signing on with the company is not known.
But you can't stomp politicians properly without heels...

Bread Crumbs

Let them eat white bread:
In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.

Watch: Maduro to Trump: Open your leez? Open your hair?

In a statement, the government said the bakers had been selling underweight bread and were using price-regulated flour to illegally make specialty items, like sweet rolls and croissants.

The government said bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves, or pan canilla, with government-imported flour. However, in a tweet on Thursday, price control czar William Contreras said only 90 percent of baked goods had to be price-controlled products.
The butchers and the candlestick makers have already been put out of business...

Free Speech Or No Speech?

Censorship, the liberal way:
As The Washington Post's Eugene Volokh rages, under this bill, newspapers, scholarly works, copies of books on Google Books and Amazon, online encyclopedias (Wikipedia and others) — all would have to be censored whenever a judge and jury found (or the author expected them to find) that the speech was “no longer material to current public debate or discourse” (except when it was “related to convicted felonies” or “legal matters relating to violence” in which the subject played a “central and substantial” role).

And of course the bill contains no exception even for material of genuine historical interest; after all, such speech would have to be removed if it was “no longer material to current public debate.” Nor is there an exception for autobiographic material, whether in a book, on a blog or anywhere else. Nor is there an exception for political figures, prominent businesspeople and others.
Offend the politicians at your own risk...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Let Them Eat Premiums

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz isn't concerned:
“Look, people vote with their feet,” Wasserman Schultz replied. “And what that means is that when something is too expensive, they walk away.” She added that Florida has had the most people sign up for plans under the Affordable Care Act.

“Trumpcare would be a disaster for my state,” she continued, referring to the House Republicans’ legislation to replace Obamacare.

“You haven’t heard from any constituents who say this is getting too expensive?” Harlow pressed.

Wasserman Schultz replied that “there are people who always complain that health care is too expensive.”
Now shut up and take your Obamacare, she said...

Old Mac Attack

Rand Paul responds:
“You know, I think he makes a really, really strong case for term limits,” Paul told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I think maybe he’s past his prime,” Paul continued. “I think maybe he’s gotten a little bit unhinged.”

Paul shared the reason he had an objection to Montenegro’s inclusion into NATO, noting that it may be in the United States’ best interest to be a bit more hands off.

“[McCain’s] foreign policy is something that would greatly endanger the United States, greatly overextend us,” Paul said.

McCain has been an advocate for intervention in countries from Iraq to Afghanistan to Kosovo to North Korea for years. Paul has often said that these militaristic actions have been both unnecessary and detrimental to the U.S. as a whole.
Wisdom sometimes comes with age, but it can disappear, too...

The Caffeine Age

How caffeine created civilization as we know it:
If alcohol inspired agriculture, caffeine jumpstarted progress. While the Chinese drank caffeinated tea as far back as 3,000 B.C., the discovery of coffee is dated to 15th century Yemen. Trade with the Arab world transformed European culture — the caffeine in coffee, a stimulant, replaced alcohol, a prevalent depressant.

"The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak 'small beer' and wine," Tom Standage wrote in A History of the World in 6 Glasses. "Both were safer than water, which was liable to be contaminated. ... Coffee ... provided a new and safe alternative to alcoholic drinks. Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved."

"Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries," Standage quipped.
We are the hangover from the Middle Ages...

Killing Big Bird

No more free ride for Sesame Street:
Trump’s budget would zero out the $445 million budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a substantial source of funding for programming and broadcast operations on public TV stations and NPR radio stations nationwide, per the Washington Post.

The budget would also eliminate the budgets for both national endowments, which stood at $148 million each in 2016, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums. Additional cuts would affect two tourist mainstays in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.

Combined, the four arts organizations account for less than 0.02 percent of the U.S. government’s $4.6 trillion budget.
Time for Elmo to learn how to fill ut a job application...

Enter Program, Stage Right

Welcome to robot theater:
'Spillikin' features a 'RoboThespian' who talks, displays facial expressions, blinks, moves its hands, turns its head, and has even been described as "affectionate".

The play, starring Judy Norman, tells a story about a robot maker who builds a robot to keep his wife company after he dies.

Cornwall-based Pipeline Theatre , which has worked with robotics company Engineered Arts for the project, is touring across England.

The idea for the play came when the robot maker, who has been making robots for 10 years, approached the local theatre company and offered them the chance to use one of his 'incredible creations'.

"We have pre-programmed every single thing the robot says and every single thing the robot does, all the moves," writer and director Jon Welch said.

"So the robot will always say the same thing and move in the same way depending on what cue is being triggered at what particular time."
He's no Calculon, but many careers have begun on the stage...

Schumer Trades In?

Where Chuck Schumer and President Trump agree?
Schumer and his fellow Senate Democrats have been criticized in recent weeks by the Trump administration for not supporting the president’s cabinet picks. The New York Democrat, however, told Fox News there are some places he would be willing to work with Trump.

“He called for the elimination of the carried interest loophole where these wall street guys pay less taxes than their secretaries,” Schumer said. “If he put that on the floor, we’d do it in a minute.”

Schumer also said that his views on trade are “closer to Trump’s than Obama or Bush,” as he voted against NAFTA in 1994.

He added that he’d be willing to work with Trump on infrastructure if there was “real money and can build real new roads.” The Senate Minority Leader, however, complained that the White House hasn’t “sent us anything on infrastructure.”
Because Trump doesn't believe in stimulus boondoggles?

Top Climate Warrior

I thought we were done with this:
In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”

Mattis has long espoused the position that the armed forces, for a host of reasons, need to cut dependence on fossil fuels and explore renewable energy where it makes sense. He had also, as commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2010, signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which lists climate change as one of the security threats the military expected to confront over the next 25 years.
Apparently there are no real enemies left...

Russian Rand?

Everyone he doesn't like is working for them:
McCain said, “If there is objection, you are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin. You’re achieving the objectives of trying to dismember this small country that has already been the subject of [an] attempted coup. I have no idea why anyone would object to this, except that I will say, if they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin, and I do not say that lightly.”

McCain then asked for unanimous consent to advance the bill, which Paul objected to. McCain then stated, “I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification, or rather — or any rationale for the action that he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator, blocking a treaty, that is supported by the overwhelming number, perhaps 98, at least, of his colleagues, would come to the floor, and object, and walk away, and walk away. The only conclusion you can draw, when he walks away, is he has no argument to be made. He has no justification, for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”
Or, maybe he just disagrees with Mac, in which case a lot of people must be working for Putin...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ignore At Your Own Risk

Remember why you got elected, guys:
if the GOP is seen to have welshed on its solemn promise to clean-repeal, it will pay with a historic wipeout in the polls next year. And two years after that. And two years after that. If Donald Trump wants to be a two-term president (or, given the level of hostility on the Left, which has been agitating for impeachment since Jan. 21, even a one-term president), he needs to recognize that reality. Because while the elephant may forget, its voting base surely won't.

The successful Republican takeback of the House, Senate and White House was in large part predicated on opposition to the Democrats' unconstitutional federal power grab via Obamacare. Forget "health care" or even "insurance." Obamacare was about neither of those things, but rather used them as a pretext to establish a new constitutional principle that the federal government, in collusion with the private sector, could force you at IRS gunpoint to purchase a product.
....

So bite the bullet, and repeal the whole damn thing, Mr. Speaker. Don't whine to us about how difficult it is, Republicans -- you've had six-plus years to think about this. Just do it.
Unfortunately it looks like that would be too easy...

Russians In My Email

So that's where the hackers were:
The hack targeted the email accounts of Russian and U.S. officials, Russian journalists, and employees of financial services and other businesses, officials said.

“We will not allow individuals, groups, nation states or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies, or the security of our country,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord.

One of the defendants has been taken into custody in Canada, and another is on the list of the FBI’s most wanted cyber criminals.

The charges arise from a compromise of Yahoo user accounts that began at least as early as 2014. Though the Justice Department has previously charged Russian hackers with cybercrime – as well as hackers sponsored by the Chinese and Iranian governments – this is the first criminal case brought against Russian government officials.

The announcement comes as federal authorities investigate Russian interference through hacking in the 2016 presidential election.
The Russians were there-just not where the left claimed...

Der Tag

Hands off,
kids:
Students will face disciplinary action should they not comply. The punishments will begin with a referral, and then a parent-teacher conference, according to school officials.

According to The Daily Mail, the school has claimed that the note was only sent home to some parents, and there’s some confusion over whether the ban applies to all students.

Fourth-grader Mallory Giddens is not a fan of the new rule. Giddens told KOVR television, “I don’t really like it. I mean I don’t really play tag but I don’t think it’s fair to everyone else that plays tag!”

Giddens continued, “My principal, he doesn’t want us to have tag at school because people, they touch too hard. Sometimes they push people over and my principal doesn’t want anyone getting hurt.”
Don't touch the nanny state...

MSNBC Strikes Out Again

Rachel Maddow implodes:
The tax returns Maddow obtained were from 2005 — and they weren’t even the full return. In fact, they were only two pages from his 1040 forum, showing how much Trump made and how much he paid in federal taxes.

Those numbers, too — Trump’s income and tax paid — didn’t give Maddow an explosive story. The returns stated that Trump made $150 million in 2005 and that he paid $38 million in taxes, which equaled about 25 percent of his income — certainly not fitting the liberal narrative that rich Americans don’t pay their “fair share” or that Trump is a tax evader.
....

Others compared Maddow’s segment to one of the most infamous live television moments in all of history: when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault only to find that it was empty.
But at least Geraldo's career didn't end with it...

License To Chill

They don't need no stinking licenses:
Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton, the author of the bill, told WBRC-TV that the state needed to get used to the fact that gay marriage is now legal and adjust accordingly. “The recording is what establishes the marriage. OK? Not the ceremony. Not the form of the license,” he said.

Albritton also said it would ease the burden on probate judges who may feel conflicted having to sign a same-sex marriage license, which would keep the state out of any cumbersome legal battles.

“It keeps the state from making the decision of who can and cannot get married,” he said. “It prevents the state from that gate-keeper position.”

State Sen. Gerald Allen (R) agreed with the notion that it would make it easier for probate judges who feel morally conflicted.

“Just like probate judges and others that got some personal opinions about things. It takes them out of the loop so to speak,” Allen said.
Then they'd have to get real jobs...

Tapping The Truth?

No wiretapping after all?
Nunes said at a Wednesday news conference, “We don’t have any evidence that that took place, and in fact, I don’t believe — just in the last week of time, the people we’ve talked to — I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”

In reference to Trump’s accusations, Nunes said that “the challenge here is that President Obama wouldn’t physically go over and wiretap, and then you have to decide if you’re going to take the tweets literally, and if you are, then clearly the president was wrong.”


“But if you’re not going to take the tweets literally and if there’s a concern that the president has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates, either appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find that out,” he said. “It’s all in the interpretation of what you believe.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the committee, also said he has seen no evidence “thus far” backing up Trump’s claim. He added that they want the Justice Department to respond to requests for information before their March 20 hearing on the matter.
Of course Obama wouldn't have done it himself-that's what he has the deep state for...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Burger Bots Are Here

Why the robots might be better:
The point is that machines can cost much less than human employees, over a long period of time. They don’t quit suddenly unless the electricity is turned off, they don’t sneak a few sawbucks from the cash register, or throw a fit in front of customers, or stage angry protests to demand higher minimum wages.

Even though machines do cost some money to buy and maintain, it is also true that business owners still do not have to buy a machine or a person’s labor and time, so the eternal minimum wage of human workers remains at zero. Of course, when the cost of the machines begins to drop below the minimum legal cost of hiring human labor, then human workers are going to have a fundamental problem.
....

It won’t take long before BurgerFlipBot and its cousins become so much cheaper than human staffers — and then hiring unreliable, untrustworthy or unskilled people becomes actually counter-productive. Once that happens, the trend will just accelerate as more robots purchases fund the development of better and cheaper robots.
They just won't need you if you're literally not worth it...

Everybody Hypes About The Weather

The problem with weather hype:
Eight thousand flights canceled. Think of the ripple effect on economics and convenience, and… They’ll maybe get eight inches in Manhattan. Long Island’s gonna get a dusting. Washington, D.C., a dusting. Do you realize how long this forecast…? I first saw this forecast last Wednesday. I saw it on Drudge. You know, I don’t want to harp on weather services here. That’s not my point. But I tell you, maybe this is the state of journalism, but I read all these stories about this blizzard, about this unprecedented event, about the Canadian air mass that was gonna finally…

And I couldn’t find out in three different stories — when, and they couldn’t find out where. They said, “The northern Upper Plains and the eastern valley regions of the apple orchard…” Could you just tell me the cities and states where this stuff’s supposed to happen instead of all these esoteric, generic terms? So, anyway, I had no idea what, where, when, why other than the vast expanse of the Northeast was gonna have an unprecedented snow event for the month of March, and it was gonna be unprecedentedly cold.
Don't believe the hype, especially when you just need facts...

Trump Tax Follies, MSNBC Style

That moment when you get trolled by Trump:
Host Rachel Maddow said Trump’s federal return for that year was “turned over” to journalist David Cay Johnston, who gave MSNBC a first look at the documents. It’s unclear how Johnston, with the website DCReport.org, obtained the files.

The White House pre-emptively pushed back minutes before the on-air report, saying that publishing those returns would be illegal.

"You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” a White House statement said.

The White House adds that it is "totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns."

The White House acknowledged Trump made over $150 million that year, and paid $38 million in income taxes.
A whole lot of air time for a whole lotta nothing?

In Space, No One Can Hear You Belch

Science marches on:
The beer company held a “Bud On Mars” panel intended to help develop the first beer capable of being drunk in space or on the low-gravity Red Planet.

“We have a lot of stuff that reminds you of home, but we don’t have beer,” Clay Anderson, a retired astronaut recruited by Budweiser to develop microgravity microbrews, told Co.Crate Monday. “Would it totally change the experience? No. Would it make it better? Absolutely.”

The Budweiser panel identified several issues with sending beer into space.

Carbonated beverages like beer don’t do well in a zero-gravity environment, and the pressure inside a beer can or bottle could be different than the pressure outside the container, which could cause a small explosion.
Microgravity microbrew?

The Black Hole

There's a giant sucking sound:
Recent examples of federal regulatory dark matter include Obamacare mandate waivers that extended employer mandate deadlines, Department of Justice guidance on transgender students, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s driverless car guidance. (RELATED: Obama Drops 1,500 Pages Of Regulations On Final Day)

“Congress lacks a clear grasp of the amount and cost of the thousands of executive branch” dark matter regulations, the CEI report said. “There are hundreds of ‘significant’ agency guidance documents now in effect, plus many thousands of other such documents that are subject to little scrutiny or democratic accountability.”

Additionally, it’s uncertain how many federal regulatory agencies exist, although there are at least 440, according to the Federal Register. Federal agencies typically issue more than 3,000 new regulations each year.
You've got to stay away from the event horizon or you'll be trapped...

Tax Free For Me, Not For Thee

Teachers would have it easy:
A pair of Democrats, Sen. Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton and Sen. Henry Stern of Los Angeles, introduced the bill in February to address a shortage of teachers in the Golden State, reports The Sacramento Bee.

The bill, Senate Bill 807, would operate by providing new California teachers with tax credits equal to the amount they have spent on college tuition, certification exams and others costs associated with obtaining their teaching credentials, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Teachers would have to teach in California for five years to rack up enough tax credits to recoup those costs completely.

Teachers who stick around for five years would then become completely exempt from state income tax.

Leaving other deductions and exemptions aside, the basic effect would be an income increase for California teachers ranging between 4 percent and 6 percent for every teacher in the state.
It's good work if you can get it...

Nigerian Scam

He fit right in:
Fidelis Agbapuruonwu, a Nigerian immigrant, “fled the country and is somewhere in Africa,” according to officials at the Arlington General Court, NBC News 4 reports.

Agbapuruonwu’s wife Helen was arraigned March 8 and charged with felony welfare fraud after she allegedly “fraudulently obtained public assistance in excess of $100,000 under false pretenses” for about six years between 2010 and 2016, according to a police report. The defense attorney for Mrs. Agbapuruonwu declined to comment when contacted by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

According to Fidelis Agbapuruonwu’s LinkedIn page, he worked most recently as an associate at the Washington, D.C., offices of Mayer Brown LLP, a top-tier, international law firm, NBC 4 reports. While there, he earned $1.5 million a year — a high salary for an associate-level attorney.
But par the course for the Swamp...

Secrets Of The IRS

The scandal continues:
The lawsuit at issue sought records about the IRS selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting non-profit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).

These newly identified records are presumably not the records contained in the so-called “Congressional Database,” which the IRS created in 2013 to house records responsive to congressional inquiries into the IRS scandal.

The IRS informed JW Monday that it is producing an additional 694 pages of documents and expects to produce an additional batch by March 24, 2017. However, at this time, the IRS still has not provided an estimate regarding when it will complete its review of the potentially responsive documents.
The IRS would like you to forget. Fortunately, others haven't...

Ultimate Survivor

Art imitates anarchy:
The show’s primary objective is to stay alive until the first of April 2018. To that end, the show’s producers have instituted a simple rule: Everything is allowed. Fighting, alcohol, murder, rape, smoking, anything.

Moreover, the show’s producers insist that their cameramen and production people will not try to stop any evil plot the competitors attempt to carry out. Yevgeny Pyatkovsy, one of the show’s organizers, addressed the issue of whether or not the production staff could play an active role in the game.

“No we won’t,” Pyatkovsky told the Siberian Times. “I am pretty sure there will be fights, and more. We are not scared of negative reaction if that happens, either … This is the raw Siberian taiga: Anything can happen, and we might not be on time to solve an emergency.”

According to the New York Post, “During the game, players must forage and store their own food in order to survive the winter months. Once the cold weather hits, they will need to learn to ice-fish through holes cut in local lakes and ponds.

“The contestants will be made up of 15 men and 15 women, from various parts of the world. They will only be armed with knives as they brave freezing temperatures, bears and other dangers associated with Siberia.”
Don't go with them if you want to live...

The Prophet Of Doom

He's still super serial:

The Ryan Tapes

Paul Ryan was never a fan:
“Look, you guys know I have real concerns with our nominee,” Ryan continued. “I hope you appreciate that I’m doing what I think is best for you, the members, not what’s best for me. So, I want to do what’s best for our members, and I think this is the right thing to do. I’m going to focus my time on campaigning for House Republicans. I talked to a bunch of you over the last 72 hours and here is basically my takeaway. To everyone on this call, this is going to be a turbulent month. Many of you on this call are facing tough reelections. Some of you are not. But with respect to Donald Trump, I would encourage you to do what you think is best and do what you feel you need to do. Personally, you need to decide what’s best for you. And you all know what’s best for you where you are.”

Later in the audio, Ryan does clarify that the “last thing” he wanted to do was help Clinton ascend to the presidency.

“But the last thing I want to do is to help Hillary Clinton get the presidency, and get Congress,” Ryan said. “Look, she’s a failed progressive. She’s running an abysmal campaign. I mean, it’s just—it’s amazing how easily she could be beaten. She will take this country in the wrong direction. And the last thing we need is four more years of Obama policies or two years of a Clinton presidency with a Democrat Congress. Could you imagine what that would look like? So the last thing we want to be doing is giving Hillary Clinton a blank check in Congress.”

“That’s why I’m going to spend the rest of this month fighting for Congress, fighting for our majorities,” Ryan continued. “I’m going to spend the next 28 days working hard with all of our members to get re-elected because we need a check on Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump and Mike Pence don’t win the presidency. Greg Walden will get more into what that looks like and what polling looks like, but I want to basically close with this: His comments are indefensible, they’re not in keeping with our principles, so I’m not going to try to defend him. I’m going to focus on Congress, I’m going to focus on upholding our values. We have a great, great policy agenda—A Better Way—that we need to take to voters and show what our party actually stands for and what it’s stood for for generations.”
At least he was dishonest about it...

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Rat Patrol

Maybe they're just attracted by the smell:
Paris had come under fire in December for allegedly dragging its feet before it launched what has been dubbed its “war on rats”.

Most of the criticism was centred on Hidalgo and the city’s environmental health services chief.

The city’s failure to keep the streets clean was also a major sticking point for residents, as a scathing commentary at the time in the conservative daily Le Figaro targeting the eco-friendly mayor revealed.

“New in the Parisian cityscape: filthy streets because of the total and persistent disarray in the cleaning services,” wrote author and politician Serge Federbusch, describing the situation as “Hidalchaos”.

In announcing the 1.5-million euro anti-rodent campaign, Hidalgo said the city would buy new traps for the rats and surround some of the city’s 30,000 rubbish bins with wooden or Plexiglass bases.
Now what about the ones running Paris itself?

The Price

Maybe, maybe not:
Price said, “I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through, understanding that they’ll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not that the government forces them to buy. So there’s cost that needs to come down, and we believe we’re going to be able to do that through this system. There’s coverage that’s going to go up.”

Price added, “I believe, and the president believes firmly, that if you create a system that’s accessible for everybody and you provide the financial feasibility for everybody to get coverage, that we have a great opportunity to increase coverage over where we are right now, as opposed to where the line is going right now where people are losing coverage and we’re going to have fewer individuals covered than we do currently.”
You may get that anyway with what Paul Ryan is offering...

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 asse...