Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dues For Dues

The dues stay, for now:
The high court’s 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, which said the agency fee scheme violates First Amendment rights, overturned a 1977 precedent that expressly authorized such collections. Because the defendant union assessed fees pursuant to the 1977 case and a parallel Washington law, the 9th Circuit said it was acting in good faith and is not required to pay reimbursements.

“The Union bears no fault for acting in reliance on state law and Supreme Court precedent,” Judge Jacqueline Nguyen’s decision for a unanimous three-judge panel reads. “It collected and spent fees under the assumption — sanctioned by the nation’s highest court — that its conduct was constitutional. And the Union provided a service to contributing employees in exchange for the agency fees it received.”
....

Nguyen said that makes restitutionary payments all the more suspect, since in her view the plaintiffs benefitted from the union’s representation.

“It is true that, under current law, the employees suffered a constitutional wrong for which they may have no viable means of compensation if the good faith defense prevails,” the decision reads. “Nonetheless, it would not be equitable to order the transfer of funds from one innocent actor to another, particularly where the latter received a benefit from the exchange.”
It's okay if it's for their own good, or something...

Free Paper

A new student journal is taking a radical approach:
According to a report by Inside Higher Ed, the University of California has launched a journal dedicated to the protection of free speech on campus. The journal, which is called Speech Spotlight, published its first edition in December.

The first volume explains the journal’s purpose. Speech Spotlight will address a specific First Amendment topic as it relates to campus life.

Welcome to Speech Spotlight, a new initiative of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. This initiative is intended to help members of higher education communities gain new insights into speech and civic engagement-related issues on university and college campuses. Each installment will address a specific topic by clarifying the issues, reframing the debate and raising critical questions to facilitate constructive discussion and effective action.

The first edition of Speech Spotlight focused on “bias incident” reporting systems, a common program at universities around the country that encourages students to report their peers when they make politically incorrect remarks.
Time for a real correction...

Fake Friends

The leader of the attack on the American embassy in Baghdad had a friend:
In 2011, both Fox News and the Washington Times noted that then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki brought his transportation minister, al-Amiri, to a meeting at the White House. The Times noted that the White House did not confirm his attendance, but the official was on Iraq’s listed members of its delegation.

The al-Amiri accompanying al-Maliki, besides also being transportation minister, was identified at the time as a commander of the Badr organization, further indicating it was the same person. At the time, the outlets expressed concern that al-Amiri had ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the FBI has stated played a role in a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 U.S. servicemen. President Donald Trump designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization, the first time an official arm of a foreign state received the designation.

Fox News’ Ed Henry questioned White House Press Secretary Jay Carney following the visit about the attendance of al-Amiri at the White House. Carney refused to answer and stating that he would need to investigate the issue.
Did anything ever come of that?

Elephant Men

Who wants to run with Joe?
During a town hall in Exeter, a voter floated the prospect of a bi-partisan ticket to Biden, telling him he will "have to pull out all the stops" if he becomes the Democratic nominee, CNN reported.

"Our 21-year-old son said the other night, 'I wonder if Joe Biden would consider choosing a Republican as a running mate," the woman said.

"The answer is I would, but I can't think of one right now," Biden said, causing laughter from the audience, adding, "no, no, no, no, no, I'm serious."

"Let me explain that," the candidate continued. "You know there's some really decent Republicans that are out there still, but here's the problem right now...they've got to step up."

Biden went on to say, "Whoever I would pick for vice president, and there's a lot of qualified women, there's a lot of qualified African-Americans. There really truly are. There's a plethora of really qualified people. Whomever I would pick were I fortunate enough to be your nominee, I'd pick somebody who has simpatico with me, who knew what I, what my priorities were and knew what I wanted to."
Any takers?

Straight Union

Straight couples can have unions, too:
The new rules means that mixed-sex couples can opt for a civil partnership that will give them similar rights as married couples, including marriage allowance tax relief, inheritance tax exemption, and joint parental responsibility for children.

It is expected to be an attractive option for couples who believe marriage gives men the upper hand and also by couples who don't want any religious element in their union.

The Supreme Court ruling means that civil partnerships, which have been available to same-sex couples since 2005, will be available to everyone.

Advocates of the change argued successfully in court that to deny heterosexual couples the same options available to same-sex couples amounted to discrimination. Steinfeld and Keidan lost their bid in a lower court, but triumphed at the Supreme Court.
Who needs marriage?

Monday, December 30, 2019

Court Control

They want judges:
Judicial activist groups on the left see some signs of hope from the Democratic Party. While Senate Democrats have had little success in obstructing Trump’s judicial nominees, it’s been a year since the party has agreed to fast-track any of the judges through unanimous consent packages.

But for some activists, the progress in making the courts a more substantial issue for Democratic candidates and voters is not enough.

“It is a positive sign that the candidates have now been asked about the courts twice in the past three debates, but the plans they’ve put forward still come up way too short,” Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, said in a statement after the debate. “It won’t be enough to simply win the next election and follow the old playbook for appointing judges, as some candidates seem to think. The next Democratic president needs a big, bold plan to rebalance our courts.”
It always sucks to be on the losing side...

Toilet Training

In Russia, toilet flushes you:
Soldiers can be on duty for days without stopping meaning that a more modern solution to their toilet needs had to be found, and Russian designers now believe they have the answer.

Ilya Baranov, from the defence firm that makes the hi-tech tank, told the Daily Mirror: “A major hassle is that crew cannot relieve their natural functions. The Armata provides for a crew to perform lengthy combat missions.

“That is why the so-called life support system or, simply speaking, a lavatory, is available.”
But will they still have to wait for toilet paper?

Still There

No replacement yet:
Nearly three years after taking office, Americans still are waiting for Trump’s big health insurance reveal. Prescription drug prices have edged lower but with major legislation stuck in Congress it’s unclear if that relief is the start of a trend or merely a blip.

Meantime the uninsured rate has gone up on Trump’s watch, rising in 2018 for the first time in nearly a decade to 8.5% of the population, or 27.5 million people, according to the Census Bureau.

“Every time Trump utters the words ACA or Obamacare, he ends up frightening more people,” said Andy Slavitt, who served as acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration. He’s “deepening their fear of what they have to lose.”

While Trump has yet to deliver on his campaign pledge to replace Obamacare, White House officials argue that the president is improving the health care system in other ways, without dismantling private health care.
Which is, after all, what Obamacare was going to do...

The Ides Of September

Remember, September?
On December 29, 2019, Breitbart News reported armed parishioners shot and killed an armed attacker with near immediacy. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) described the armed parishioners as “immediate responders” and Texas DPS Director Joeff Williams noted the good guys with guns saved “242 other parishioners.”

While being interviewed by C-SPAN in September Biden criticized Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) signing of a law to allow licensed gun owners to carry firearms in church for self-defense. Biden said, “It is irrational, with all due respect to the Governor of Texas, it is irrational what they are doing.”

Biden elaborated by describing the idea of “being able to take [guns] into places of worship” as “absolutely irrational.”
Sometimes you need to be irrational, when dealing with crazies...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Big Conservatives On Campus

It's hard out there for a young conservative:
It’s a weird time to be young and conservative, especially at a school like Princeton. Elite conservative circles at these universities tend to focus on great books and big ideas, on statesmanship and lofty principles. Nothing could be further from the culture of American politics at the national level today, driven as it is by tribalism and thirst for the blood of political enemies. The students I spoke with mostly cast a side-eye at the meme-driven, own-the-libs mentality promoted by organizations such as Turning Point USA that are popular on many college campuses. Instead, students at Princeton who lean to the right have helped build a robust suite of conservative groups, most prominently the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, an expansive academic center overseen by the prominent scholar Robert P. George. At a distinctly anti-elite moment in American politics, the leaders of this microcosm are doubling down on one of the oldest theories of politics: that ideas have the power to shape the direction of the country.

It remains an open question, however, whether conservative intellectuals and their ideas still matter in determining what happens to the Republican Party and the conservative movement after Trump. If the past few years have proved anything politically, it’s that conservative elites aren’t great at predicting what the American people actually want. At least at Princeton, students and their mentors are betting that romantic ideals such as collegiality and intellectual rigor have not totally lost their relevance in the Trump era.
Where has the romance gone?

Court Date

Obama for the Supreme Court? Well, maybe not:
Obama often talks about him being a constitutional law professor, but, as president, he repeatedly exceeded his constitutional authority. There are many examples of Obama flouting the Constitution. Most involve his inclination to bypass Congress to legislate via executive action. But the most significant example of Obama's lack of constitutional aptitude is how he was repeatedly rebuked by the Supreme Court.

In NLRB v. Noel Canning, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that Obama had made three unconstitutional appointments when the U.S. Senate was not in recess.

In McCullen v. Coakley, the Obama administration filed an amicus brief in favor of a Massachusetts law banning free speech within thirty-five feet of an abortion clinic. The law was unanimously found to be unconstitutional.

In Riley v. California the Obama administration filed an amicus brief in support of warrantless searches of cellphones of American citizens—and lost in a unanimous decision.

In U.S. v. Jones, Obama’s Justice Department tried to convince the Supreme Court that the federal government doesn’t need a warrant to track your car with a hidden GPS device for any reason and lost, again in a unanimous decision.

Obama’s record with the United States Supreme Court is the “worst record of any modern presidency,” according to Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute. “In the first 6.5 years of Obama’s presidency (January 2009 to June 2015), the government lost unanimously at the Supreme Court 23 times, an average of 3.62 cases per year,” he explained. Over eight years, the Bush administration only lost an average of 1.875 cases per year, and Clinton administration 2.875. What about all cases, not just unanimous? While the U.S. government had an average win rate of 70 percent before the Supreme Court before Obama arrived, Obama won less than 50 percent of the time.
He could only fail upward...

Full Spending Ahead

How much for just the plan?
As Democrats seek to appeal to a broad swath of voters, candidatesare airing proposals that include government-supported health care and child care, free college, student loan forgiveness, transformative climate policies, massive pay raises for teachers, and a universal basic income, among others.

A Washington Post review of the major spending proposals of the leading Democratic presidential candidates found 10-year costs ranging from about $4 trillion to more than $50 trillion. The annual federal budget now is about $4.5 trillion.

Even the most sparse of the 2020 plans dwarfs what successful Democrats pushed before. As she seized the Democratic nomination in 2016, Hillary Clinton proposed a 10-year agenda estimated at $1.45 trillion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
A trillion here, a trillion there...

Paradise Lost

Aloha, Hawaii:
Despite being consistently rated as the “happiest state” in the nation, Hawaii is experiencing its third straight year of negative migration. Some 35,000 residents moved to the mainland from 2015-18. The young, highly educated and well-off are most likely to leave, which means fewer new businesses, more-crowded classrooms, and shortages of doctors and nurses.

The Aloha State has the highest cost of living in the country. According to the Tax Foundation, the real value of $100 in Hawaii is $84.39—worse than California and New York. Purchasing a home is out of reach for many residents. According to Zillow, the median list price for a house in Hawaii is $630,000, compared with $284,999 for the U.S. as a whole. Rents in Honolulu are roughly 40% higher than the national average.

Many assume that a high cost of living is “the price of paradise.” But while some of the costs related to living on an island in the middle of the Pacific are unavoidable, government policy makes the problem significantly worse.
Who wants to pay for less fun in the sun?

The Yang Solution

Enough with the Trump bashing, he says:
Yang said, “To me, it’s clear the reason Donald Trump is our president today is that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs that were primarily based in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Iowa, the swing states he needed to win.”

He added, “Democrats still have not asked themselves the hard questions as to how Donald Trump won in 2016,” Yang responded. “Where if you look around the country, you see 30 percent of stores and malls closing. You see record-high levels of stress, financial insecurity, student loan debt, even suicides, and drug overdoses. These are the problems that voters talk to me about when I’m out there every single day. The Democratic Party, unfortunately, is acting like Donald Trump is the cause of all of our problems. He’s a symptom, and we need to cure the underlying disease.”
The disease is more on his side, but still...

The Green Dream

A man's home is no longer his castle?
The writer says that Americans' "aspirations of home ownership" and "belief in the importance of private property" could be "reinforcing" the conditions that result in wildfires.

"Our ideas about what success, comfort, home, and family should look like are so ingrained, it's hard for us to see how they could be reinforcing the very conditions that put us at such grave risk," he wrote.

Goh added that to "engage with these challenges, we need to do more than upgrade the powerlines or stage a public takeover of the utility companies." Here comes the kicker: "We need to rethink the ideologies that govern how we plan and build our homes."
Get off his green lawn?

Suspension Suspended

Who needs discipline?
KRON reports:

Starting next school year, it will be illegal for public schools in the state to suspend students in first through fifth grade for willfully defying teachers or administrators.

Then, from 2021 through 2025, it will be temporarily extended to kids in grades six through eight.

Supporters say suspensions for willful defiance are disproportionately used against students of color.

Oh, of course. So tolerant, liberal California is intolerant, bigoted, racist California. Right.
There was a time when getting rid of the troublemakers was a priority for inner city schools. Now, not so much...

New York, No

The bad old days are back:
This reality is the result of the ‘progressive’ policies of incompetent Mayor Bill de Blasio (a.k.a. Warren Wilhelm Jr.), and more-importantly, the idiotic, empty-minded New York liberals who elected him.

The subways of New York City are falling apart. They are filthy, grimy, rusting and an embarrassment. They reek of urine and vomit. There are homeless everywhere. People are getting pushed in front of trains.

The trains are also few and far between. I had to wait 30 minutes for an E train to the airport recently from Manhattan. Once the train did arrive, it was full to the brim, and I had to wait for another.
....

Homeless people hover around the entrances to Grand Central Terminal and assault people as they leave the station. The cops just watch.

New York City is no longer safe and it is no longer a place suitable to conduct business.
Is your city like this? Thank a Democrat...

Let's Coordinate

Who coordinated with whom?
According to then-Washington Post reporter Peter Baker’s book, “The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton,” Senate Democrats coordinated with the White House on a number of impeachment-related issues behind the scenes.

According to Baker, one of those arrangements involved White House Counsel Charles Ruff arranging a “secret signal” with Democratic leadership. If Ruff wanted to rebut anything from the Republican House managers, something rules didn’t allow for, he pre-arranged with then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle’s aides for a senator to submit a question to then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist asking the White House to respond.

Aides reportedly would "fill in the name" of one of several "default senators" -- such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and then-Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. -- who had agreed to allow themselves to "be used in this way."

The book also detailed how then-Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, spoke with Clinton and helped organize a pressure campaign in defeating Sen. Susan Collins’, R-Maine., attempt to adopt “findings of fact” by which the Senate could take a majority vote on whether Clinton lied under oath and impeded discovery of evidence even if the chamber failed to convict him. Baker described how Clinton “tracked down Harkin in the Democratic cloakroom during a break in the trial to vent his outrage" at what Collins was cooking up.

“Harkin needed no convincing,” Baker wrote. “He had immediately recognized the pernicious effects of the findings plan and set about trying to destroy it before it got too far.”

“The Breach” outlined how Daschle recruited “a crew of Democratic lawyers to help puncture holes in the [pro-impeachment] case.” The Democratic leader also warned the White House against submitting a motion to dismiss the case entirely.
It depended on what the meaning of "coordination" was...

Pete's Drugs

This is your mayor on his drug plan:
Mayor Pete has held this stance for a while, but this video drew new attention to the issue.

Bill Bennett, President George H.W. Bush's drug czar, called Mayor Pete's plan "crazy."

"This is crazy. This is a bright guy. I don’t agree with him, but obviously he’s a guy of some subtlety and intellect," Bennett told Fox News. "No subtlety here. He acknowledges the harm that these drugs do—goodness gracious, it’s incredible the harm these drugs do."

"We have a terrible problem going on in this country," he added. "We do not need to encourage more of it."

Early this month, a South Park episode featured a montage involving the legalization of cocaine. Thanks in part to Mayor Pete, this episode may turn out to have been prophetic.
As they have been on many things...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Not Free For All

Mayor Pete's plan would cost you:
Despite the changes in legality, a Buttigieg presidency means the individual mandate could return and at a much higher price. Matt Bruenig, the head of a left-wing think tank, told the Washington Post that Buttigieg’s individual mandate will be far more expensive than Obama’s individual mandate. If an individual was uninsured under the Obamacare mandate, he or she was forced to pay a $695 annual fine or 2.5 percent of his or her income, whichever number was higher. According to Bruenig, this price could be far higher under a Buttigieg administration.

“Instead of paying a $695 fine at the end of the year for being uninsured, you are hit with a bill to pay an entire year of premiums that could be ten times that amount. This will be a political nightmare,” Bruenig told the Washington Post. The estimated costs for Buttigieg’s individual mandate, according to the Washington Post, is approximately $7,000 per uninsured individual.
That's a lot for "free..."

Campus Credit Union

The Chinese model goes to college:
Universities across the country are using the so-called SpotterEDU app to connect with apps on students’ smartphones for the purpose of boosting their “attendance points.” The app also sees their absences and logs that information into a campus database that tracks them.

“They want those points,” Syracuse University Professor Jeff Rubin, who teaches Introduction to Information Technologies, told The Washington Post. “They know I’m watching and acting on it. So, behaviorally, they change.” He was referring to the app’s ability to socially engineer his students.

WaPo published a Dec. 24 report discussing the SpotterEDU app.

Not every student is on board with the app and its implications.

“We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?” Robby Pfeifer, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, told WaPo. “Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? … And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?”
Isn't that what socialists want?

No Facts Allowed

Well, it's not like political ads had any to begin with:
"At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content," a Spotify spokeswoman told Reuters in a statement. "We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities."

Spotify is taking a similar route as the social media company Twitter, which has decided not to run campaign advertisements rather than deal with the workload of trying to avoid spreading false information.

The new policy will cover political groups such as candidates for office, elected and appointed officials, political parties, political action committees (PACs) and SuperPACS, as well as content that advocates for or against those entities. Spotify will also not sell ads that advocate for legislative and judicial outcomes.

Facebook has been heavily criticized for its hands-off policy of allowing political ads but declining to check them for factual accuracy.
How else are they going to lie to our faces?

School's Out Whenever

Truancy for a cause:
Fairfax School Board member Ryan McElveen introduced the policy and said it was in response to a growing demand for protesting among younger Americans.

"I think we're setting the stage for the rest of the nation with this," McElveen said to the Washington Post.

"It's a dawning of a new day in student activism," he added, "and school systems everywhere are going to have to be responsive to it."

McElveen also tweeted his support for climate change protesters just days before the policy change.

Students in seventh through twelfth grade will be allowed excused absence per year to attend "civic engagement activities."

Political science experts told the Post those events will more likely be in support of liberal causes.

"People who call themselves conservatives probably do still count respecting authority — staying in school — as a crucial and central tenet of the social order," said Thai Jones, a Columbia University lecturer.
Who needs an education?

The Endless Campaign

Why don't elections ever end?
The real culprit is whoever created the mind-set that the opposition party’s main job is to defeat the governing party in the next election, by denying its ability to govern, by campaigning instead of governing. The historian Kevin Kruse told me that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is perhaps most responsible for “a scorched-earth style of politics that destroyed the traditional bipartisan clubbiness and put members on a constant war footing.” War footing, I take it, means campaign footing as opposed to governance footing.
....

It used to be that Labor Day was the demarcation line for political campaigns. FDR kicked off his 1936 campaign with a Labor Day speech in 1936. Yes, the same year as the election! But a lot has changed since 1936, including the primary system, as mentioned, as well as the need for “content” at news organizations, which broadcast or publish not just once a day, in the morning or evening, but every minute.
Sore losers always want a platform...

World Wide Control

They want the Web:
The panel will work to set up "a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes," the resolution said.

The United States, European powers and rights groups fear that the language is code for legitimizing crackdowns on expression, with numerous countries defining criticism of the government as "criminal."

China heavily restricts internet searches to avoid topics sensitive to its communist leadership, as well as news sites with critical coverage.

A number of countries have increasingly tried to turn off the internet, with India cutting off access in Kashmir in August after it stripped autonomy to the Muslim-majority region and Iran taking much of the country offline as it cracked down on protests in November.

"It is precisely our fear that (a new convention) would allow the codification at an international and global level of these types of controls that's driving our opposition and our concerns about this resolution," a US official said.
A free Internet is a good Internet...

Friday, December 27, 2019

Ten To Spend

It's been a spender's decade:
Federal spending started the decade at an artificially high level due to the 2009 “economic-stimulus” package. There was a slight dip after the stimulus ended, and the tea party wave ushered in a brief period of restraint in Congress. Sadly, this flicker of responsibility was short-lived.

According to the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, federal spending totaled $37.6 trillion from 2010 through 2019. Spread across 128 million households (per the Census Bureau), that yields $293,750 in spending for every household.

In fiscal 2019, which ended Sept. 30, the federal government doled out $4.4 trillion. The full scope of that much money is virtually impossible for the human mind to grasp.
The concept of infinity usually is...

FISA's Fake Court

A court without teeth:
The FISC's failure to request a comprehensive evaluation of previous submissions has stunned court-watchers who have questioned whether enough is being done to deter future misconduct by the FBI. In the past, the FISC has gone so far as to prohibit some FBI agents from appearing before the court after finding impropriety.

In response to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's recent report into FBI surveillance abuses, FBI Director Christopher Wray has claimed that the agency "embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action." Congressional Republicans, however, remain unconvinced that the bureau will solve the problem on its own.

“The deceptive actions of a few high-ranking officials within the FBI and the Department of Justice have eroded public trust in our federal institutions,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, stated last week as he introduced a bill to reform the FISC in response to the Horowitz report. “They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American.”
Railroading is a tough job...

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Party Pooper

Why weren't they invited?
It would have been a swell party. There was an oyster tower made from solid ice and charcuterie tables piled high in every room. The Charles Orban Champagne was flowing at this annual soiree, hosted by the French ambassador at the official residence, which is one of the prettier piles of brick in this town.

What there wasn’t: anyone recognizable from the White House. Not even Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the president, who used to attend.

Who cares? The packs of journalists and foreign service officials who prowled the rooms of an imperial manse in search of someone who mattered, that’s who....

....

President Trump has, as promised and to his supporters’ glee, disrupted Washington’s way of life. And sure, as during Watergate, the news business is booming and random bureaucrats have been thrust onto the national stage. But it’s been hell on the social life.
So have your own party. But don't be disappointed if nobody shows up...

Queen Of Pain

Madonna is reportedly hurting:
Madonna — who was involved with a legal dispute with ex-husband Guy Ritchie that hit courts the day after the canceled concert — spoke out to insist she had to act because of “indescribable” pain from “injuries,” without providing more details.

“I consider myself a warrior,” she wrote alongside a video clip of her struggling to climb a ladder, saying it left her “in tears of pain” at the Miami show that went ahead the night before the canceled one.

“I never quit, I never give in, I never give up!! However this time I have to listen to my body and accept that my pain is a warning,” she wrote.
Legal fees can do that...

Boss Dues

Life is good when you're a boss:
A complaint filed in September in Michigan federal court against union leader Vance Pearson refers to several unnamed individuals, but union officials have told the New York Times that one of them, UAW “Official A,” is, in fact, Jones, whose home was raided by federal agents.

And Official A's wild expenses are all over the court documents, allegedly including $13,000 at a cigar store.

“A December 2015 Gary’s Sales invoice issued to ‘UAW c/o [UAW Official A]’ for a $13,046.91 purchase that included an order for 12 boxes of Ashton Double Magnum cigars at $268.00 per box (totaling $3,216) and 12 boxes of Ashton Monarch Tubos cigars at $274.50 a box (totaling $3,294),” was among the purchases listed in court documents. The documents listed another $13,000 purchase invoiced to Pearson from the same store the following year, part of an alleged $60,000 on cigar- and tobacco-related purchases between 2014 and 2018.

This is just one example of expenses allegedly made by Jones, Pearson and others, which prosecutors say were made via accounts set up with hotels such as the Royal Palm Springs Hotel (RPSH) and Loews Coronado Bay Resort, where they had training conferences. The hotels then paid outside vendors on the UAW officials’ behalf, “as a way to conceal the embezzling of union funds for their own personal use,” the complaint says.
Somebody has to pay for the boss's lifestyle...

High Time

Mayor Pete has an idea:
Buttigieg said, “Incarceration should not even be a response to drug possession. What I have seen is while there continues to be all kinds of harms associated with drug possession and use, it is also the case that we have created in an effort to deal with a public health problem, we have created an even bigger problem — a justice problem, and it’s own form of a health problem when you think about the adverse aspects on a child. We have kids in South Bend who have grown up with the incarnation of a parent as one of their first experiences. That makes them dramatically more likely to wind up themselves having an encounter with the criminal legal system. So I’ve always been skeptical of mass incarceration, but now I believe more than ever we need to take really significant steps like ending incarceration as a response to simple possession.”

An editor asked, “On that is that across the board? So if its meth or coke or ecstasy, any drug if it’s possession incarceration isn’t—”

Buttigieg said, “That’s right.”
This is your campaign on drugs?

Homeless, Homeless Everywhere

Where the homeless are:
"While the rest of the country experienced a combined decrease in homelessness in 2019, significant increases in unsheltered and chronic homelessness on the West Coast, particularly California and Oregon, offset those nationwide decreases, causing an overall increase in homelessness of 2.7 percent in 2019," HUD said in the report.

"Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported declines in homelessness between 2018 and 2019, while 21 states reported increases in the number of persons experiencing homelessness. Homelessness in California increased by 21,306 people, or 16.4 percent, which is more than the total national increase of every other state combined," the report added.

The annual report found that on a single night in January 2019, 567,715 people were reported as homeless by state and local planning committees, or Continuums of Care, up by 14,885 people since 2018.
Welcome to Homeless, USA...

Transgender Transparency

No trans on the team?
A portion of the bill reads, "Each elementary and secondary school in this state that receives any type of public funding from this state or a local government, or both, shall require, for an official or unofficial school-sanctioned athletic or sporting event, that each athlete participating in the athletic or sporting event participates with and competes against other athletes based on the athlete's biological sex as indicated on the athlete's original birth certificate issued at the time of birth."

Griffey told the Star that sex and gender simply can't be changed because people feel a certain way.

“We are seeing more and more transgender athletes competing and posting victories in traditionally gendered sports competitions, and doing so to the detriment of girls and women biologically born female," Griffey admitted. “Boys and men, due to testosterone levels, bigger bone structure, greater lung capacity, and larger heart size, have physical advantages in sports relative to girls and women."
Darn that biology...

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Chewing The Fat

Don't call their kids fat, they said:
One parent told the Colorado State Board of Education that his daughter was triggered by a teacher remarking that fat in food becomes fat in the body.

The Denver Post explained helpfully that this was medically inaccurate, since a "body stores any calories beyond its needs as fat, and our bodies need some fat stores for insulation and to protect our organs."

Another father said his daughter was triggered when a teacher made their students use an app to count caloric intake.

Doug Salg said his high school daughter had body image issues that worsened with the lesson.

She had to spend 10 weeks learning about nutrition at the Children's Hospital Colorado because of the caloric intake app.

Another example of "triggering" classroom lessons was one where students lined up to have their body mass percentage measured.

Nearly a third of American children and teens are overweight or obese. That rate is nearly three times as high as it was in 1963.

School board officials say they will review nutrition curriculum standards with mental health specialists in order to prevent triggering students who are on the edge of unhealthy eating habits or disorders.
They're just big-boned...

Taxes For Thee

Some millionaires are more deserving than others:
As for their own tax burden, most millionaires feel like they pay enough already. Fully 60% feel they pay their fair share of taxes, and a third believe they pay more than their fair share. Republican millionaires are more likely to feel they pay enough or too much.

The richer millionaires are more likely to oppose a wealth tax. About half of those worth $5 million or more oppose Warren’s wealth tax.

“Most people who are worth $10 million or less don’t feel wealthy, even though they are relative to the population,” said George Walper, president of Spectrem Group. “And so they feel they should not be penalized. But they do think that people worth $50 million or more are wealthy and should pay more.”
Just so long as it's not them...

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry, Merry

Happy you-know what:
According to a report by The College Fix, a new poll conducted by College Pulse suggests that college students don’t really have a problem with Christmas-themed seasonal greetings.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 college students around the country, asked participants if they thought it was“offensive to wish ‘Merry Christmas’ to a stranger.” 294 of the participated were self-identified as Democrats, 531 as independents, and only 171 as Republicans.

88 percent of students said that it was not offensive to wish someone a “Merry Christmas.” Only four percent of students said it was offensive to say “Merry Christmas” to a stranger.
Guess which ones are getting lumps of coal?

Unhealthy Debate

Where, exactly, do they stand?
Many front-runner Democrat candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) back the single-payer Medicare for All, while former Vice President Joe Biden (D) supports a public option.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) told the Hill that the debate over Medicare for All and a public option plan distracts from the broader movement to defend Obamacare.

“I’m super interested in a discussion about what our healthcare system looks like ten years, 20 years from now, but the most important thing Democrats can do is make sure everybody knows how Donald Trump is trying to destroy the health care they have,” Murphy said.

The Connecticut Democrat added, “I think as a party we’re much better off … talking about the President’s efforts to sabotage the health care system.”
As opposed to your own?

Guarded Response

No troops, he said:
The Los Angeles Times quoted Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky saying, “[Northam has] absolutely no plans to call in the National Guard.”

The clarification of Northam’s position comes after Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) suggested the governor use the National Guard to force compliance with any newly passed gun controls.

The Washington Examiner quoted McEachin saying, “I’m not the governor, but the governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law. That’s his call, because I don’t know how serious these counties are and how severe the violations of law will be. But that’s obviously an option he has.”
But one that he knows might backfire...

The Wedding's Off

There go the judges:
The legislation, referred to by NBC News as "noncontroversial" and "bipartisan," was passed 148 to 2 in the New York Assembly, and 61 to 1 in the Senate. It would have simply opened the door for all federal judges to officiate weddings. Currently, all state judges have the authority to proceed over marriage unions, but only certain federal judges may do so.

Cuomo said he couldn't bear to risk that a Trump-appointed judge might oversee a wedding, so he shut down the legislation with his veto power.

"I cannot in good conscience support legislation that would authorize such actions by federal judge who are appointed by this federal administration. President Trump does not embody who we are as New Yorkers," the governor declared. "The cornerstones that built our great state are diversity, tolerance, and inclusion. Based on these reasons, I must veto this bill."

Democratic state Sen. Liz Krueger, who helped sponsor the bill because she viewed it as a "no-brainer," reacted to Cuomo's move by telling the New York Post, "Four years ago, we gave the governor the ability to perform marriages. Two years ago, we gave legislators the ability. So when it was suggested to me that we expand it to federal judges, I thought, 'Why not? The more the merrier!'"

"I'm certainly no fan of the judges this president is choosing to appoint," Krueger said, "but since any New Yorker can become a minister online for $25 and legally perform weddings, I didn't consider this to be a major issue."

Nick Langworthy, chairman of the New York Republican Party told The Post of Cuomo's veto, "It's hard to imagine a more petty, small action from a sitting governor."
No weddings for you...

Horse Manure

You can't help those horses, they said:
According to Blue Star Farm's operators, many of the horses that were rescued were previously working horses, and so in order to provide a sense of stability for the horses, those horses were given tasks to perform in humane conditions.

This wasn't acceptable to some social justice warriors who felt that the animals should just be left free to wander in the fields, and complained to social media giant Facebook. As a result, Facebook yanked down the farm's page, and with it, the nonprofit organization's primary fundraising tool vanished.

According to WGGB-TV, farm landowner Darcie Confar says, "There are people who believe that animals shouldn't work, that it's the worst thing for them, that it's cruel, that it's abusive and that's absolutely not the case."

Confar told WGGB that as a result of uninformed criticism from animal rights activists, the site's Facebook page was shut down just before Thanksgiving, and they have as yet been unsuccessful in persuading Facebook to reopen it. Without those donations during the main charitable giving season, the farm will be unable to pay its bills and will be forced to close, according to Confar.
The horses' asses have spoken...

Monday, December 23, 2019

The S Word

Socialism has become unfashionable:
Populism has tested the ability of mainstream parties to adapt and some on the center-right are regaining their footing. That cannot be said of the traditional left. It gravitated toward the middle ground in the 1990s, and then paid a price for selling out. But a pendulum swing to 1970s-style radical ideology has been shown to be just as out of sync with the times.

This year ends with the humiliation of the Labour Party in the U.K.’s Dec. 12 election and Germany’s Social Democrats more unpopular than at any time in living memory. In Italy and Spain, the center-left are in government only thanks to precarious alliances with the anti-establishment groups that grew from the 2008 financial crisis.

For Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, the malaise runs deep, indeed as far back as the Cold War era of the early 1970s. “There has not been a charismatic and genuine left-wing leader who made a true difference in Europe since Willy Brandt,” who won a Nobel prize for building bridges between east and west and paving the way for German reunification.
Maybe because they ran out of salesmen...

Impeach & Repeat

If at first you don't succeed:
House Counsel Douglas Letter said in a filing in federal court that a second impeachment could be necessary if the House uncovers new evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct investigations of his conduct. Letter made the argument as part of an inquiry by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals into whether Democrats still need testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn after the votes last week to charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Story Continued Below

“If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” Letter wrote.
Try and try again?

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Best Decade

Our decade of stuff:
We are living through the greatest improvement in human living standards in history. Extreme poverty has fallen below 10 percent of the world’s population for the first time. It was 60 percent when I was born. Global inequality has been plunging as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America; child mortality has fallen to record low levels; famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline.

Little of this made the news, because good news is no news. But I’ve been watching it all closely. Ever since I wrote The Rational Optimist in 2010, I’ve been faced with ‘what about…’ questions: what about the great recession, the euro crisis, Syria, Ukraine, Donald Trump? How can I possibly say that things are getting better, given all that? The answer is: because bad things happen while the world still gets better. Yet get better it does, and it has done so over the course of this decade at a rate that has astonished even starry-eyed me.
It might surprise doomsayers, too, if they actually listened...

Star Bores

RIP Star Wars:

Airport News Network

Media barbarians at the gates:
As Carlson explained, CNN is paying the airports approximately $100,000 each to “pump propaganda into America’s airports, holding its hapless travelers hostage.”

He commented: “It’s not something [the airports] would do willingly. Who would? Nobody watches [CNN] – it’s garbage.”

“This service is likely costing CNN six million dollars a year,” Carlson explained. “But they do it anyway because what’s the value of propaganda?”
They have to find an audience somewhere...

Virginia Ham

Virginia's AG will not be deterred:
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) issued an opinion Friday that there is no legal weight to the “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions being passed in localities around the state in reaction to potential new gun control laws.

“When the General Assembly passes new guns safety laws they will be enforced, and they will be followed,” Herring said in announcing the opinion. “These resolutions have no legal force, and they’re just part of an effort by the gun lobby to stoke fear.”

Gun rights advocates say more than 110 Virginia localities have passed some form of the resolutions, which say that local agencies will not enforce any gun restrictions that they deem to be unconstitutional.
Aside from pounding his fist on the podium, what can the AG do, short of starting a civil war in his own state?

Elephant Court

It's Republican judges all the way down:
A record number of judicial confirmations is cementing one of Trump’s central campaign pledges — and will reverberate for decades, even if impeachment pulls the plug on his presidency.

When Trump took office, nine of the nation’s 13 circuit courts were dominated by Democratic appointees. Now, seven of them have Republican majorities.

Trump has had 50 of his circuit-court judges confirmed — far more than any other recent president at this point in their first terms. President Barack Obama managed just half that number, 25, in the same time frame.

Altogether, 187 Trump-nominated federal judges have been confirmed by the Senate — outpacing the 169 new judges named by George W. Bush and the 166 brought on board by Bill Clinton in their first three years.
Trump may go, but his judges will remain...

Slow State

Where have all the Californians gone?
Associated Press:

More than 158,000 people moved to California over the 12 month period that ended July 1. But more than 197,000 people left.

“I think it’s so important to remember that even when things are tough, we still see a lot of people moving to California,” said Eddie Hunsinger, a demographer with the state Department of Finance.

Well, you know what P.T. Barnum said: one of them is born every minute.

Jobs are plentiful, the economy is OK, but homelessness went up a staggering 16.7 percent and even if you have a job, good luck finding a place you can afford to live.

The migration loss has been a boon to other states, particularly Nevada. Last month, it passed the 3 million population mark as the U.S. Census Bureau ranked it as the fastest-growing state in 2018 — mostly because of Californians moving in.

Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said there are more adults in Nevada that were born in California than native Nevadans.

The California infection is spreading. The more Californians that show up in Nevada, the more like California Nevada becomes -- Disneyland with casinos.
Long time gambling...

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Shine A Light

Turning the lights back on:
DOE said that although the CFLs increase efficiency in light bulbs, it costs the consumers 300 percent more to light their homes. But the real benefit to repealing the ban is that it will once again, give consumers a choice.

Reuters:

The move is part of the administration’s push to ease regulations by requiring agencies to ditch two old regulations for each one they propose. The administration has also rolled back Obama-era regulations on pollution and emissions as it seeks to maximize oil, gas and coal production.
The roll back on light bulbs has been challenged in court by 15 states and Washington, D.C. who say it would harm state efforts to fight emissions blamed for climate change.

Environmental groups decried the decision. The Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit, said it would cost consumers $14 billion in energy bills annually and create the need to generate the amount of electricity provided by an additional 30 500-megawatt power plants.

I call BS on those claims. They don't factor in savings from buying incandescent rather than CFL bulbs and many people realize the savings and will keep using CFLs. What the greens object to is giving people a choice. You see, they don't think you're smart enough to act in your own interest.
Dim bulbs would rather have you sit in the dark than make your own choices...

The New Movement

People want to be able to protect themselves:
The current movement began last year in Illinois and quickly spread to numerous states, including California, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida.

In Virginia, home to the National Rifle Association’s headquarters, lawmakers in both parties have traditionally supported gun rights. But in recent years, Democrats have backed tighter restrictions on guns.

The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement began after Democrats promising new gun control laws took over both chambers of the state legislature in the Nov. 5 election.

Gun control proposals gained momentum after a shooter killed 12 people and injured four others at a Virginia Beach municipal building in May. But a special legislative session called by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam after the mass shooting failed to produce any new gun control bills when Republicans shut it down after just 90 minutes.

Gun control advocates are now proposing an array of new restrictions, including universal background checks, assault weapon bans and red flag laws that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
Liberal logic-if you like your rights, you can keep your rights...

Trial Dates

Don't wait too long:
Noah Feldman wrote that "some modest delay" in sending impeachment articles to the Senate "is not inconsistent with the Constitution," but "an indefinite delay would pose a serious problem."

"Impeachment as contemplated by the Constitution does not consist merely of the vote by the House, but of the process of sending the articles to the Senate for trial," he added. "Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the Constitution: The House must actually send the articles and send managers to the Senate to prosecute the impeachment. And the Senate must actually hold a trial."

More from Feldman's op-ed:

If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn't actually impeached the president. If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn't truly impeached at all.

That's because "impeachment" under the Constitution means the House sending its approved articles of to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached.

As for the headlines we saw after the House vote saying, "TRUMP IMPEACHED," those are a media shorthand, not a technically correct legal statement. So far, the House has voted to impeach (future tense) Trump. He isn't impeached (past tense) until the articles go to the Senate and the House members deliver the message.
He added that if the House votes to impeach without ever sending the articles to the Senate for a trial, that would "deviate from the constitutional protocol. It would mean that the president had not genuinely been impeached under the Constitution; and it would also deny the president the chance to defend himself in the Senate that the Constitution provides."
Everyone has the right to a fair acquittal...

History Ain't Changed

We won't be lectured again:
Historians claim expertise about the past; Trump’s impeachment is of the present. The study of history is crucial to a well-rounded intellect, it’s true, but neither a cultivated intellect nor a knowledge of history is a replacement for good judgment, which is what politics calls for. The whole democratic enchilada rests on the assumption that when it comes to prudential matters of public importance, the view of the stevedore is as valuable as that of the Princeton professor.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this category mistake used to advance a partisan purpose. In the 1980s, leftish nuclear physicists enjoyed great praise and attention for their petitions in favor of unilateral disarmament—as if knowing how to build a bomb was the same as knowing whether it should be used. A decade ago, many medical doctors signed petitions telling the rest of us that harvesting human stem cells for research was just fine—trying to shut down an argument over morality and metaphysics far beyond the scope of their medical training.

If I want to understand the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s, Sean Wilentz will be my go-to guy, I promise. But Trump’s impeachment, and contemporary politics in general? Nah.
Let the past speak for itself...

Friday, December 20, 2019

Mob Wives Tales

Mob life imitates art:
Drita, 43, best known for her role on the VH1 reality series from 2011 to 2016, and her husband, Lee D'Avanzo, 50, were arrested in Staten Island on Thursday at around 6 p.m., a New York Police Department spokesman told Fox News.

The couple was busted after authorities executed a search warrant and found the couple in possession of "two loaded firearms, 120 hydrocodone pills, 22 xanax pills, two partial xanax pills, a large quanitity of marijuana and a scale," the NYPD said.

Drita and Lee were each charged with multiple counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, possession of a weapon, possession of marijuana, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, and one count of criminal use of drug paraphernalia.
Leave the script, take the canola...

Those Shoes

These shoes weren't made for pronouns?
Lyles alleges that before coming to work as a $62.50-per-hour computer engineer at Nike's Beaverton, Oregon, headquarters in 2017, the plaintiff specified wanting to be referred to by "they/them/their" pronouns — but that other employees of the sportswear giant allegedly disregarded Lyles' requests and engaged in "misgendering," the outlet said.
....

Mainz Brady did not respond to requests for comment, CBS News said.

What did Nike have to say?

But Nike spokesman Greg Rossiter told Willamette Week the company will not comment on Lyles' case but did say that the corporation "is committed to a culture of diversity, inclusion, and respect where everyone can succeed and realize their full potential."

In an earlier response to Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries through its law firm, Stoel Rives, Nike dismissed Lyles' complaint, the outlet said.

"Lyles was a mediocre [contractor] with a limited skill set," Stoel Rives wrote, according to Willamette Week, adding that a hiring freeze, not discrimination, was why Lyles failed to land a full-time job at Nike — and that "Lyles' allegations are without merit."
If the politically incorrect shoe fits...

Big Brother's Decade

Big Brother was here:
The 2010s should be remembered as the decade tech turned dystopian. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this happened just as Washington was out to lunch. D.C. has been dysfunctional and divided, but politicians also agreed long ago that their default setting would be to allow innovation from private enterprises without question. Since Bill Clinton’s 1996 proclamation that the “era of big government is over,” corporations have gotten the benefit of the doubt. That has been particularly true of tech companies.

The new decade could be different, at least tonally. The ’20s will start with the enactment of America’s first sweeping privacy bill, the California Consumer Privacy Act. We’ll see where it goes from there, but government officials have the ability to regulate the markets where businesses sell or share our sensitive data. They can set restrictions on how long companies can retain that information, and how they can use it.

It's an open question whether there's the political will to do this, of course. Federal privacy legislation is stuck. Attempts to shape the law in California are hardly over, and other states have yet to adopt similar legislation. The companies with a stake in the status quo are now some of the most powerful private enterprises on earth.
The line between government and tech is a thin one...

OK Navy

No racism here:
The students likely will face punishment for unprofessional behavior for engaging in the game, but apparently were unaware that the hand sign they used has become associated in recent years with white-power extremism.

The redacted reports released Friday by officials at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy showed that, according to investigators, the cadets were behaving unprofessionally when they flashed the hand signs in the background of an ESPN segment on national television.

“We are confident the hand gestures used were not intended to be racist in any way. However, we are disappointed by the immature behavior,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck.

“Last Saturday I had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously,” said West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams. “We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets.”
Sometimes OK is just OK...

Thursday, December 19, 2019

College Try

Trump is a racist-oh, wait:
The legislation will permanently fund HBCUs and simplify federal financial aid applications for millions of families, the president said in a statement Thursday.

“President Obama and the Obama Administration were unable to get this done. I got it done,” Trump said, arguing that HBCUs have never had a champion in the White House before his presidency.

Funding for the HBCU’s was in jeopardy a few months ago until the White House and Congress collaborated on a “historic agreement,” the president said.
Welcome to class...

Just Because

They've had 99 reasons and Russia ain't one:
At current count, Democrats have proffered 96 different reasons for impeaching Trump.

Below you’ll see a news list we’ve cross-posted from our sister site, NewsLists.co — the original is here — which is displayed chronologically.

By far the Democrats coming up with the most reasons for impeachment are Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Al Green (D-Texas). At current count, Waters has produced 14 different reasons she thinks Trump’s impeachable; Green’s come up with 18.

A few of the more interesting: Rep. Green suggested impeaching Trump after his supporters chanted “send her back” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.); Rep. Waters has said he should be impeached simply for being “despicable.”
Why do they want to impeach Trump? Because he's there...

The Writer's Dilemma

J.K. Rowling runs afoul of the outrage mob:
Rowling spoke out in defense of Maya Forstater, who was fired from her job at a thinktank after tweeting a rebuke of “smart people” who she claims to admire championing the concept of a person identifying with a gender that’s different from the one they were assigned at birth.

“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security,” Rowling tweeted Thursday. “But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”
....

Rowling has since caught immense backlash on social media for throwing her opinion into the fray. The Human Rights Campaign tweeted a rebuke shortly after her tweet writing: “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. CC: JK Rowling.”

Meanwhile, countless other users were quick to call out the famed author for views they consider transphobic.

“Another day, another instance of JK Rowling doing something foolish and souring the public perception of her own series," one person tweeted.
I blame Voldermort...

Revenge Of The Nerds

The legal geek squad?
What are the details?

Falck has spent eight years researching discrimination against high-IQ people and interviewing high-ability adults about their experiences, the Telegraph said, adding she's recently discovered a common theme among them after conducting extensive interviews with 20 high-IQ people: the idea of belonging or not belonging.

"That was a really big one," she told the outlet. "That's where being taunted with names like 'nerd' or 'egghead' or 'brainiac' comes in because the person is being set apart as being different to others and feeling like they're a misfit, and they don't belong."

Falck also told the Telegraph that all her interviewees felt like that at some point in their lives.

'Extreme Intelligence'

Her recent research on the subject can be found in her new book, "Extreme Intelligence" — and at the book's launch Falck said the next government must take legislative action to force societal change, the outlet said.

"The N-word was common parlance in the U.K. until at least the 1960s. Other insulting slurs about age, disability, religion, and gender identity remained in widespread use until relatively recently. Society at the time turned a blind eye to their impact by passing them off as harmless banter. It is only with the benefit of hindsight and academic research that we realize how wrong we were. The same can be said about anti-IQ words like 'nerd,' 'brainbox,' 'geek,' 'egghead,' 'smart-arse,' 'dweeb,' and 'smarty-pants,'" she said, according to the Telegraph. "Slurs such as these will continue to be used unabated at the expense of the brightest members of society unless and until legislative action is taken."
Keep your smarty pants on...

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Mad Money

Do Republicans still stand for anything?
While all the eyes of political media this week remain fixated upon the dueling melodramas of expected House impeachment later today and the next Democratic Party presidential primary debate tomorrow evening, Congress is gearing up to pass yet another year-end budget betrayal. To be sure, we already knew that fiscal conservatism was dead and that Republicans themselves killed it. But it seems that Republicans’ insatiable desire for fiscal profligacy will not be quenched until they can also spit upon fiscal conservatism’s proverbial corpse.

Daniel Horowitz of Blaze Media has a devastating breakdown of the nature of the latest boondoggle — a boondoggle rearing its ugly head, lest we forget, less than two years after President Donald Trump himself vowed to “never sign a bill like this again.” Over 2,400 pages of legislation. Nearly one and a half trillion dollars of additional spending. Increased funding for the EPA, but no increased funding for ICE. MS-13 trafficking and amnesty loopholes galore. More backdoor amnesty for Liberian nationals. Incentivizing illegal aliens to attempt to enter the federal workforce. Re-authorization of the corporate welfare- and crony capitalism-abetting Export-Import Bank. Raising the national tobacco purchasing age to 21. Tens of millions of dollars toward “gun violence research.” Zero attention paid to the neo-Confederate nationwide plague of sanctuary city lawlessness. Zero attention paid to the fact that murderous transnational criminal cartels still effectively control large swaths of our southern border. Zero attention paid to our nationwide crisis of revanchist and power-hungry judicial supremacism.

And so forth. It’s enough to make one wonder why we elect Republicans into office, in the first instance. Is there anyone on the Republican side of the aisle who still cares about the forgotten American?
At least the Democrats are honest about not caring...

Black Day

Nancy Pelosi attends her own funeral?
The partial dress code is the latest move by Democrats to avoid the perception that they are not taking the impeachment process seriously. Pelosi arrived on Capitol Hill wearing a black sheath dress with gold accessories on Wednesday morning as the House debated the guidelines for voting on the articles of impeachment against the president.

“Pelosi is wearing black. One of her colleagues told me several of the female Democrats did that intentionally to signal it is a somber day,” CNN’s Dana Bash reported.

Pelosi later told Bash that she feels “sad” about impeaching the president, and the speaker reportedly told fellow Democrats to avoid gloating or cheering during the process.
A literal dress rehearsal?

Chinese Newspeak

In China, university protests you:
Students at Fudan University in Shanghai have protested the move by General Secretary Xi Jinping’s government, a rare occurrence since China’s attack on pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The new provision in the school’s charter calls for the university to “weaponize the minds of teachers and students using Xi Jinping’s socialism ideology with characteristics of China in the new era.” It also makes the Communist Party committee the “core” of the university, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

One group of students filmed themselves singing the school’s anthem during their lunch break, a song that includes the phrase “freedom of thought.”
American college students wouldn't have done this...

Santa Who?

Mr. or Mrs. Claus?
Nearly 30% of respondents from the U.K. and U.S. said Santa should become gender-neutral or female as part of a modernization or rebranding effort.

Breaking things down further, just over 17% of all respondents said Santa should become gender-neutral while only 10.6% said he should transition to a woman. And while the breakdown between the U.S. and U.K. was essentially the same regarding the female question, a good bit more U.S. respondents than U.K. respondents supported the idea of Santa becoming gender-neutral.

Anything else?

So, should Santa become more "hipster"? The survey says no, with less than 4% of respondents agreeing with that statement.
And the elves should get $15.00 an hour...

Party First

For the people-or just themselves?
In the latest Zogby Analytics survey, 67% of voters said that they “believe the Democrats are more interested in impeaching the president as opposed to passing legislation that will help Americans.”

And the shocking sidebar: A majority of Democrats, 53%, believe this is the case too, said pollster Jonathan Zogby.

“This feeling of politics first permeated a majority of every subgroup: all felt that Democrats in Congress were more concerned with impeaching the president rather than passing legislation that helps Americans,” he said in sharing the poll with Secrets.
The Democrats may well discover that the voters don't care about them, either...

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dancing Queens

This party's over:
At the Dec. 9 conference, the agency hired performer Beyonce Black St. James, a transgender dancer dressed in a sheer black bodysuit, who twerked and kissed attendees, who included government employees, nonprofit workers and members of the faith community.

Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett, director of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, said he was not "personally offended by it," but added that "it just seemed so wrong and out of place for what we were there for."

Hackett said he worried that critics of Seattle's homelessness program would see the video and weaponize it against Seattle's approach to end homelessness.

"I just knew it was going to hit social media and when it hit social media, this is kind of like what every opponent of the collective work would wish for," he said.

It might not matter, though. The All Home agency could soon become obsolete.

Seattle, King County and suburban governments are setting up a new regional homelessness authority that will have more power over budgets and policymaking than All Home has ever had.
So they'll be able to hire more dancers, at least...

Still In Business

Come what may, government goes on:
The government was currently being funded from a continuing resolution (CR), which was passed in the House in November and provided funding until Dec. 20. There were two votes on separate measures. The first passed 297-120, the second passed in a 280-138 vote. The current spending bill expires at 11:59:59 pm ET on Friday. The package will now go to the Senate.

One measure the House approved contained eight appropriations bills, the other had four. The first passed by a 297-120 margin. The second cleared the chamber in a 280-138 vote.

The bill will increase the age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21, and offers provisions on export financing, flood insurance, and immigrant workers, according to PBS. $1.8 billion for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall was also included in this package.

Democratic leadership in the House put together a spending package in September and gave it to members less than 24 hours before the Democrat-controlled House planned to vote on the legislation.
Never let impeachment get in the way of a Democratic tradition...

Dinner Isn't Served

Eating options in Sacramento are quickly declining:
Several restauranteurs in Sacramento have crunched the numbers on how the increased labor costs will impact operations, and have determined they can no longer sustain themselves.

KMAX-TV profiled some of their stories in a report this week.

"California is a rough state to do small business," Paul Fraga told the outlet. "They want everybody to make $20 an hour, but for the smaller guy, I can't afford that."

Fraga owned Perry's restaurant along Highway 99, a place that — until Sunday — served diners for 30 years. One customer who showed up for her last meal at Perry's told KMAX, "It's really sad just thinking about this. It's an institution. This is a Sacramento institution."

Another Sacramento station, KXTV-TV, reported last month that the "iconic" Fat City Bar in Sacramento's historic downtown decided to shut down after 43 years. Owner Jerry Fat told the station it was purely a business decision.

"We've had a great ride," he told KXTV. "But due to the steady decline in Old Sacramento business, coupled with rising costs and increased competition for those shrinking dollars, we made the decision to close."

Phil Courey owns a Greek restaurant called Opa! Opa! that has operated in Sacramento for 14 years. He told KTXL-TV in November that he would close up shop in mid-December, and wasn't shy about the fact that the minimum wage hikes were the reason he was throwing in the towel.

"Most of our margins have been consumed by the minimum wage pressures," Courey said.
Liberals consume everything they touch..

Pronoun Puns

Don't make fun of the pronouns:
So what jokes are people making that are so hurtful?

In these contexts, there is no need to be cute or funny; don’t say your pronouns are “princess” and “in charge.” You may get a laugh, but is the cost — the alienation, discomfort or frustration of vulnerable people — worth it? A cisgender person who claims that their pronouns are “dance mom” and “brat” is suggesting that they are not interested in how fraught this matter can be for trans and non-binary people.

OK, we get it: It’s like when Piers Morgan said on air he identified as a penguin (during a segment on a baby penguin being raised gender-neutral by a lesbian penguin couple) and was nearly investigated by the U.K. Office of Communications after 950 people complained. Stop doing that. It’s hurtful.
What's not to mock?

Not their Movement

The silence is deafening:
Sen. Marco Rubio has led the legislative efforts to defend Hong Kong’s democracy, prompting the leftist magazine The Nation to ask, “Why is Marco Rubio doing more than the Democratic Party for the people of Hong Kong?” The Federalist’s own Ben Domenech came to Hong Kong and attended several protests.

GOP Sen. Josh Hawley visited Hong Kong during the protests, while the socialists at Jacobin magazine just got around to explaining why the left should support Hong Kong a week ago, after more than 25 continuous weeks of protest. Their earlier coverage was mixed with tsk-tsk-ing about the lack of labor activism in the Hong Kong protests, and the presence of “Hong Kong localists.”

Even before the protests, Hong Kong opinionmakers recognized that American conservatives have close ties to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. This is not to diminish the sincere support of many Democrats and progressives, but the enthusiasm gap is real.
Some protests are more equal than others...

Monday, December 16, 2019

Trains In Vain

The train to nowhere keeps on rolling:
The Fresno Bee reported on Sunday:

California High-Speed Rail Authority board members voted unanimously Tuesday to issue a request for bids from a trio of pre-qualified teams of companies to install two sets of tracks, as well as systems for electrical power, signals and communications on the route that is now under construction from north of Madera to northwest of Bakersfield.



On Monday, a day before the rail authority’s meeting in Sacramento, the Federal Railroad Administration sent the state a letter declaring its disapproval for releasing of the bid request. The FRA is the federal agency that administers and oversees about $2.6 billion in federal stimulus grants that were awarded to California for the rail project.



In a response Tuesday, rail authority CEO Brian Kelly blamed the FRA for dragging its feet in reviewing materials that he said the state has already provided. The FRA’s disapproval, he wrote to Barnes, “is based on misunderstandings and your agency’s own inaction, which does not provide a good faith basis for interfering in this authority’s efforts to meet the timelines in our federal grant agreements.”

It is not clear what demand exists, if any, in the region for an additional, high-speed rail between small rural cities already connected by Amtrak’s San Joaquin line.
Only the demand that somebody else pay for it...

No Trump Card

Be careful what you wish for:
if you believe, as I do, that Trump is bad, but also that his badness falls somewhat short of an existential threat, then impeachment, however justified in theory, becomes less straightforward. The process does not unfold in a political vacuum, and Democrats should not let the certainty of their legal reasoning push them toward impeachment without regard for its real-world consequences—which are uncertain and could prove costly. Impeachment also runs the risk of hijacking the debate in the Democratic primary, as well as further embittering Trump’s supporters and souring them on the democratic process.

Ultimately, the decision to impeach is a matter of judgment, not so much a question of whether Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors (he almost certainly did) as whether invoking the Constitution’s impeachment provision right now is a good idea.
And perhaps bad judgment, at that...

Northern Law

Justin Trudeau goes after "hate":
The mandate letter, sent to Canada’s Minister of Heritage, calls for legislation to be drawn up imposing “significant penalties” on social media companies that do not remove so-called hate speech within 24 hours.

The letter singles out “hate speech” for special attention, before moving on to other items like child exploitation and terrorism.

Create new regulations for social media platforms, starting with a requirement that all platforms remove illegal content, including hate speech, within 24 hours or face significant penalties. This should include other online harms such as radicalization, incitement to violence, exploitation of children, or creation or distribution of terrorist propaganda.

In another letter, sent to the Minister of Justice, instructs the Minister to work with his colleagues to combat “online hate:”

Work with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to combat online hate and harassment.

Trudeau’s government appears to be following the lead of European states like Germany, which already imposes fines of up to 50 million euros against tech companies that fail to promptly remove so-called “hate speech.” French legislators have even considered jailing officials from tech companies that fail to meet demands to remove “hateful” content.
What about people who just hate him?

Sleeping Around

This sidewalk is their sidewalk?
The justices without comment or a dissent said that they would not hear the case from Boise, Idaho, which challenged a ruling by a federal appeals court.

The outcome was a significant victory for homeless activists and a setback for city officials in California and other Western states who argued the ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals undercut their authority to regulate encampments on the sidewalks. The 9th Circuit had agreed with lawyers for the homeless who argued that prosecuting people for sleeping on the sidewalks violated the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment if a city failed to provide adequate shelter.

A city ordinance “violates the 8th Amendment insofar as it imposes criminal sanctions against homeless individuals for sleeping outdoors on public property, when no alternative shelter is available to them,” said the ruling by the 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over California and eight other Western states.
Local laws need not apply...

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Social Studies

Becoming a social justice warrior is expensive:
According to a report released by the National Association of Scholars, a conservative-leaning academic think tank, the growth of social justice on campus is adding serious costs. It has reached the point where it now costs students more than $10 billion dollars a year in tuition costs and university fees to finance social-justice-oriented educational programs and expenditures.

In their findings, the authors of the report detail how many university professors and administrators have infused social justice theory and ideals into their educational curriculum, which has led to the transformation of universities into training camps for progressive activism.

In conducting the analysis, lead study author David Randall noted that he identified the cost of two social justice courses at a public university in Arizona to be roughly $4,000, a conservative estimate, and applied it to the 2.2 million students nationwide who immediately enroll in college following high school graduation. These calculations produce an estimated cost of roughly $10 billion dollars just for social justice courses, a figure that is likely an underestimate, as private universities tend to charge much higher tuition prices than public universities.
At least the universities give them their protest signs...

The IT Guy

It seems the Justice Department isn't quite done with Imran Awan:
In a newly released court filing, the Department of Justice wrote:

Pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan, who is presiding over a related sealed criminal matter the Government is prohibited from disclosing certain information pursuant to formal and informal information request in this matter. The Government advised Judge Chutkan of the instant FOIA matter and sought clarification from Judge Chutkan concerning the Government’s permissible response in light of her Order in the sealed matter. Defendant received the clarification December 5, 2019, the date of this filing, that permitted Defendant to say the following: The Government is prohibited from disclosing any information pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan. …

…The “difficulties” in providing responsive material was due to the unexpected and unique set of facts described above that was out of the control of the Defendant. Defendant’s only motivation was to maintain the integrity of the sealed matter as much as possible, until the issuing Court provided guidance.

The DCNF noted that the DOJ had said it closed the investigation into Awan in 2018 in which Awan entered a plea deal where he pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud.
Case not closed after all?

Hunter Who?

Joe Biden's rivals don't seem interested:
Biden’s biggest weakness is the still-unraveling series of facts about the extent of his son Hunter Biden’s sweetheart jobs and deals while the elder Biden was a senator and then vice president. Just one of them is getting the most attention now, and that is the highly paid board member position Hunter Biden got at the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma in 2014. The widely reported figure is that Hunter Biden was paid $50,000 per month for that “job” despite not having any experience in the energy industry. Some reports have his salary as being as high as $83,000 per month.

But for some strange reason, his fellow Democrats vying for the nomination are incredibly mum about this story. They’re also not making a peep about Hunter Biden’s long history of other questionable deals and jobs that may not be illegal, but only a total naif wouldn’t surmise they were attempts to curry favor with his powerful father. By the way, the fact that it’s legal to give out jobs like that to the family members of politicians is precisely the kind of problem an enterprising presidential candidate would be promising to solve. Mysteriously, no Democrat seems to be pouncing on the opportunity.
He's still one of their own...

Comey Comes Clean

James Comey admits:
"He's right, I was wrong," Comey said about how the FBI used the FISA process, adding, "I was overconfident as director in our procedures," and that what happened "was not acceptable."

Horowitz did make it clear that he believes the FBI’s investigation of Russian election interference and possible connections with the Trump campaign was properly initiated, but he did note that this is based on a “low threshold.” He also concluded that there was no testimonial or documentary evidence to show that the investigation started due to any political bias, but said the issue of bias “gets murkier” when it comes to the various issues with the FISA process.

That process included the reliance on information gathered by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of opposition research conducted by Fusion GPS for the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign. Horowitz’s report stated that government attorneys were hesitant to approve a FISA warrant application until they relied on unverified information from Steele. That information also was used in subsequent renewals for the FISA warrant.
We all make mistakes trying to save our own necks...

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Federal Bureau Of Interference

Maybe they were working for the Russians?

Killer Cure

The doctor will kill you now?
According to LifeSiteNews, a Canadian health minister, Danielle McCann, said at a press conference earlier this month that the recommendation to allow the practice of euthanizing patients without their consent came from an "expert panel" that spent 18 months studying the issue.

However, McCann says that Québec will launch its own non-partisan public consultation process before deciding whether to allow the practice.

"We have heard the the heartfelt appeal of Quebecers who are suffering and calling for a widening of the rules," McCann said, the Montreal Gazette reported. "Québec society is evolving on this sensitive issue and we have a moral duty to respond. all together."
But what if they're not quite ready to go yet?

Tory Time

How Boris Johnson won:
Over time, Labour’s vote has become more metropolitan, wealthier, more diverse, younger, and more educated—more in line with Remain. The Conservative vote has become poorer, whiter, older, less educated, and more provincial—like Leave. This shift was hastened by the EU referendum, which mirrored these emerging dividing lines, replacing the class loyalties that had largely held since the Second World War.

The changing demographics of each party’s vote meant that large areas of the country were up for grabs in this election. While the working class in County Durham, which voted Leave, has become less Labour, prosperous metropolitan England, which voted Remain, has gone in the other direction. In Lewisham Deptford, a constituency in southeast London where I now live, to take one example, the Labour vote has surged over the past few decades. Last night, Labour held on to it with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Johnson, then, not only inherited a change that has been slowly unpicking Britain’s political map for decades, but he did so at the very moment the accelerant applied by the EU referendum meant he could finally turn dozens of formerly safe Labour seats Tory blue.
American Democrats, take note...

Halfway There

You're finally an adult:
ou’re in deep flux. A second puberty, almost. Inflammations, precarious accelerations. Dysmorphic shock in the bathroom mirror: Jesus, who is that? Strange new acts of grooming are suddenly necessary. Maybe you’ve survived a bout of something serious; you probably have a couple of fussy little private afflictions. You need ointment. It feels like a character flaw. Maybe it is a character flaw.

For all this, though, you are weirdly and unwontedly calm, like someone riding a bicycle without using his hands. You’re not an apprentice adult anymore. You’re through the disorientation period, the Talking Heads moment—“And you may find yourself in a beautiful house / With a beautiful wife / And you may ask yourself / Well, how did I get here?” You’re through the angst and the panic attacks. You don’t yet have the wild license of old age, when you can write gnarly, scandalous poems like Frederick Seidel, or tell an interviewer—as The Who’s Pete Townshend recently did—that “it’s too late to give a fuck.” But you’re more free. The stuff that used to obsess you, those grinding circular thoughts—they’ve worn themselves out. You know yourself, quite well by now.
But do you know you?