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She Likes to Move It, Move It

March 26th, 2015 - 2:44 pm

You would too, if moving got you better than a quarter million in taxpayer dollars. Read:

The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Wednesday that it paid a senior manager $288,000 in “relocation payments” when it reassigned her from Washington last year to become director of the agency’s problem-riddled Philadelphia office.

The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee called the payment to Philadelphia Director Diana Rubens “outrageous.”

A department spokesman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that federal regulations allow the payment of certain relocation expenses, including the costs of house-hunting, moving, terminating leases, and a per diem rate for meals and temporary housing.

It’s good to be the queen.

Was the Bergdahl Swap Really Worth It?

March 26th, 2015 - 1:18 pm
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Well:

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki defended the White House’s prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on Wednesday, just hours after the Army announced that it would charge him with desertion.

“Was it worth it? Absolutely,” she said on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” in an interview that will air Wednesday night.

“We have a commitment to our men and women serving overseas, or in our military, defending our national security every day, that we will do everything we can to bring them home, and that’s what we did in this case.”

I’m sympathetic to President Obama’s insistence that we bring all our men and women home, even the shitheels like Bowe Bergdahl. But before action can be taken, the question must be asked and answered: Would it be worth it?

In the case of Bergdahl, we have a convert to Islam who abandoned his post, deserted his country and his comrades, and got six of his fellow soldiers killed in the attempt to find him. In exchange for the chance to put this deserter up on capital charges, Obama illegally let go five top-level al Qaeda killers — and it is certain that they will kill again.

Was that worth it? No, not even close. Worse yet was the propaganda victory needlessly given to the Islamists to whom Bergdahl deserted, when Obama posed smiling, arm-in-arm with Bergdahl’s parents, assuring them that her had “made an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoners of war home.”

Only Bergdahl wasn’t a POW. He was a deserter who wandered into an enemy camp after taking up their religion. Obama treated him like a victim in need of protection. We can only hope Bergdahl finds the Uniform Code of Military Justice to be less accommodating.

“Wanted to destroy this plane.”

March 26th, 2015 - 12:14 pm

Good lord:

The co-pilot of Germanwings 9525 had sole control of the doomed flight that crashed into the French Alps early Tuesday and “wanted to destroy this plane,” a French prosecutor said Thursday.

The cockpit voice recorder, recovered on Wednesday from the rugged terrain north of Nice, appeared to show the pilot locked out of the cockpit and knocking on the door, first politely, then frantically in the moments before the jet, carrying 150 passengers and crew, began a rapid descent that killed all aboard.

The haunting thing is we will probably never know why.

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

And the time, naturally, is always 4:20.

The inevitable, as it is wont to do, has happened. That’s right, Willie Nelson is bringing out his own brand of weed and even opening the stores from which to buy it:

So what exactly is Willie’s Reserve?

Well, you know, Willie has spent a lifetime in support of cannabis, both the industrial hemp side and the marijuana side. He wants it to be something that’s reflective of his passion. Ultimately, it’s his. But it was developed by his family, and their focus on environmental and social issues, and in particular this crazy war on drugs, and trying to be a bright light amongst this trail as we’re trying to extract ourselves from the goo of prohibition.

Really he wants it, at the end of the day, to envelop what his personal morals and convictions are. So from the store itself to how they’ll work with suppliers and how things are operated, it’s going to be very reflective of Willie’s life.

In other words, it’ll get you all kinds of stoned.

Obama Sells Out Israel to Iran

March 26th, 2015 - 10:40 am

Our peevish, petulant, and impetuous President has struck again:

In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel’s nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent.

But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel’s nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.

The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came as tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu’s March 3 address in Congress.

The timing of the disclosure puts to rest any notion that President Obama acted out of spite for Bibi Netanyahu’s election win last week — but this is still a sellout of Israel, and the reason for it is plain.

Bad as that is, it gets worse.

Pages: 1 2 | 40 Comments»

A Tale of Two Yemens

March 26th, 2015 - 9:28 am
yemen_3-26-15-1

Tanks seized recently by militiamen loyal to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take positions on Tuesday at the al-Anad air base in the southern province of Lahej, 60 kilometers (35 miles) north of Aden, Yemen. (AP Photo/Wael Qubady)

Here’s Politico’s Adam Baron, more or less parroting the Administration’s Pravda on the situation in Yemen:

The truth is far more complex, and the solution right now should be more along the lines of: Just stay out of it. While the chief combatants in the civil war are certainly playing the sectarian card to some degree, there is reason to think that Yemen will not necessarily become part of some regional sectarian conflict. Regardless of their foreign ties, both the Shiite Houthis and their Sunni opponents are deeply rooted in Yemen, and they are motivated primarily by local issues.

The main danger now is that the Western powers, Saudi Arabia or Egypt will overreact and seek to intervene, ostensibly to counter Iranian influence or to quash the efforts of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to gain territory. Yet foreign intervention could very well be the worst approach now—further regionalizing what is still a local fight, injecting a stronger sectarian tone into the conflict while threatening to push Yemen closer to implosion.

“It’s five PM; please don’t threaten to push me closer to cocktails.”

I trust you see where I’m going with this.

When Iranian-backed rebels have forced a country’s president to flee by boat, presumably because air travel is too dangerous or even impossible, it’s fair to say that the country has already imploded.

Now it is true that Yemen’s troubles are mostly local and deeply rooted — it was actually two countries as recently as 1990, and the marriage has never been a happy one. North Yemen was the southern tip of the old Ottoman Empire and its people are generally more religious, despite flirting with Arab nationalism in the ’60s and ’70s. South Yemen was a British protectorate before independence in the ’60s, and was secular enough to put the Communists in power. Even on its own, South Yemen wasn’t much of a country. In reality it wasn’t much more than the wealthy city of Aden lording it over poor hicks in the sticks.

So, yes, like pretty much all of the post-colonial Arab world, Yemen is several bags of hurt shoved together into a bigger bag of hurt.

But you know what? Libya’s troubles were mostly local, too, and now that country is also a playground for ISIS and al Qaeda — in no small part because we dealt Death from Above while strenuously avoiding Boots on the Ground. To varying degrees, that’s also been administration policy in Iraq and in Yemen, and both places imploded. Both countries are also now battlegrounds between Iran and ISIS — at a time when Obama requires Iran’s cooperation to put together a nuclear deal to seal his foreign policy legacy. If you think that’s nuts, it gets worse. The U.S. Air Force is now hitting targets in Tikrit to aid the Iranian-led Iraqi Shi’ite forces trying to retake that Sunni city, while our Sunni Saudi allies, using American intelligence aid, are launching air strikes against Iranian-led Shi’ite Houthi forces in Yemen.

What is the enemy of our enemy of our enemy, anyway? “You’re either with us or against us” seems so very long ago and far away.

Anyway, Baron’s point was supposed to be “foreign intervention in a local fight would be the worst course anyone could take.” But with U.S. forces fleeing, and Iranian and Saudi forces fighting over the corpse of what was once our ally, then “avoiding foreign intervention” is something of a moot point, yes? Trying to keep this fight local is akin to locking the barn door after the horse has been slaughtered and the barn set on fire.

Pages: 1 2 | 13 Comments»

Blue Light/White Light

March 26th, 2015 - 8:13 am
Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Engadget’s Nicole Lee got to spend some quality time riding in the Mercedes F 015 concept car:

The conceit behind the F 015 is this: What would a car look and feel like in a future where driving is no longer the sole purpose of having one? When you don’t need to keep your eyes on the road, what would you do differently? And when pedestrians can no longer make eye contact with drivers, how will they know when to cross the road? These questions are all central to the design and philosophy of the F 015, which is less about self-driving technology than it is a thought experiment on how autonomous driving will fit in our collective future.

Indeed, the demonstration vehicle in front of me isn’t even fully autonomous; it’s programmed only to go along a predetermined path on the Alameda runway. Still, the car isn’t without technological marvels. “You know KITT? With David Hasselhoff?” asks Klaus Millerferli, a researcher for Mercedes-Benz, a few minutes before our demonstration. “I’ll call it over like that.” Rather than using a Comlink watch to summon our ride, however, Millerferli takes out his iPhone and launches an app. He taps in the number of passengers — there are four of us — to tell the car how many doors to open, and then taps a button to beckon it over. As the car makes its way to us, Millerferli points out that the LEDs are blue, which indicates the car is in autonomous mode. If someone were behind the wheel manually driving the car, the light would be white.

Replace the three-pointed star with a Cadillac coat-of-arms, and you’d have Jerry Farnsworth’s car from Robert Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice.

Still, I’ll take the white light please.

Sign “O” the Times

March 26th, 2015 - 7:43 am

The city of Oakland has 33 automated license plate readers at various locations throughout town, and Ars Technica got a hold of those records:

In response to a public records request, we obtained the entire LPR dataset of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), including more than 4.6 million reads of over 1.1 million unique plates between December 23, 2010 and May 31, 2014. The dataset is likely one of the largest ever publicly released in the United States—perhaps in the world.

After analyzing this data with a custom-built visualization tool, Ars can definitively demonstrate the data’s revelatory potential. Anyone in possession of enough data can often—but not always—make educated guesses about a target’s home or workplace, particularly when someone’s movements are consistent (as with a regular commute).

Chilling.

Would someone please explain to me what the hell all that data has to do with “to serve and to protect?”

Dear Dr. Carson: You’re Not Helping

March 26th, 2015 - 6:06 am
CAUTION: Not a licensed psychiatrist. (AP Photo)

CAUTION: Not a licensed psychiatrist.
(AP Photo)

Oy:

Ben Carson says President Barack Obama is a psychopath.

His comment came in an exchange between the neurosurgeon who’s likely to mount a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and his chief adviser, Armstrong Williams, captured by a GQ reporter on the night of this year’s State of the Union address.

Williams had said Obama looked “elegant” that night.

And Carson responded: “Like most psychopaths. That’s why they’re successful. That’s the way they look. They all look great.”

Between this and his odd gay comments from a while back, I’m starting to wonder if Carson is a plant.

News You Can Use

March 26th, 2015 - 5:05 am

The Best Little Whorehouse in Deutschland

Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ Tombstone tipped me off to an exciting new job opportunity coming to Germany: Brothel tester.

That’s right:

Website Kaufmich.com (which translates as “Buying Me”), a social media platform for prostitutes, clients, brothels and companies specializing in the sex industry, is seeking a university-educated man or woman to join the company’s “Quality Team,” Kaufmich.com told CNBC.

The website’s advert says that the candidate will have to test the service, cleanliness and compliance with safe sex practices in various brothels by taking a proactive approach to their work — that is, by having sex with various women.

The website’s product manager, Ben, who preferred not to give his surname, told CNBC via email that Kaufmich wanted “to establish a quality/rating systems for brothels.”

“Having a brothel in Germany is totally legal but so far there is not a quality system for them in place. We want to be the Tripadvisor for brothels.”

Maybe we should have something similar for lobbyists to rate political officeholders.

“That’s not funny!”

March 25th, 2015 - 2:49 pm

Or is it? Read:

A U.K. student feminism conference is asking attendees to refrain from clapping and use “jazz hands” instead so as to not trigger anxiety in others.

The National Union of Students (NUS) Women’s Campaign announced the clapping “ban” at the West Midlands conference on Twitter Tuesday, shortly after receiving a request from the Oxford University Women’s Campaign.

“@nuswomcam please can we ask people to stop clapping but do feminist jazz hands? it’s triggering some peoples’ anxiety. thank you!” Oxford representatives wrote.

Within five minutes, NUS tweeted: “Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it’s triggering anxiety. Please be mindful! #nuswomen15.”

This is a sensible precaution, and “feminist jazz hands” should be taken up by all supporters of progressive causes, and used extensively, even exclusively, at progressive political events such as the Democratic National Convention.

We’re all counting on you to set the proper example and not to generate any anxiety.

A Manchurian Candidate?

March 25th, 2015 - 1:01 pm
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the only time a President of the United States has been photographed with his arms around the parents of an American soldier charged with desertion.

Jeb’s Secret Email!

March 25th, 2015 - 12:00 pm
(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

Deflect, deflect, deflect!” seems to be the order of the day from Camp Clinton:

As Florida governor, Jeb Bush used another, previously unreported email address, records show — the newest wrinkle in an evolving debate over public officials’ use of private email accounts.

When Bush released thousands of emails from his tenure as Florida’s governor as part of his preparations to run for president next year, he did so from the email account he shared openly, jeb@jeb.org.

Those emails also include references to another email address, jeb@gencom.net. Bush said through a spokeswoman that he was unaware of the account, although records showed that people wrote to him there more than 400 times between 1999 and 2004.

I’m sure I have orphaned emails — from AOL, from work, from services signed up for and then forgotten — which apiece have received a lot more than 100 emails a year. You probably do, too. The question is whether Bush illegally used email accounts and deleted emails relating to the people’s business. So far, there’s nothing but the “Everyone does it!” smokescreen. “It” in this case meaning “maintains a personal account.”

That stuff about illegally deleting 30,000 emails? Well, what’s a smokescreen for?

That said, I’d be happy — thrilled, even — if this ongoing scandal, defection, and smokescreen were to result in both Jeb and Hillary getting forced out of the race.

One Republican for one Democrat — seems fair, yes?

News You Can Use

March 25th, 2015 - 10:55 am

FLORIDA MAN

Florida Man strikes again:

Two Florida women outsmarted an alleged stalker by bringing him straight to a police station after a prolonged pursuit Sunday.

Jason Joseph Seeburger, 37, allegedly pulled his car up to a 24-year-old woman and stared at her as she stood outside her house in Plantation.

He parked his car and kept an eye on the woman for five minutes until a friend picked her up, the Sun Sentinel reported.

When the women drove away, Seeburger made a U-turn and followed them, according to an arrest report.

The woman tried tricking Seeburger, making arbitrary turns to see if he kept his creepy pursuit.

He stayed on them for about 20 minutes, driving right up to the car and shouting something they couldn’t hear.

At last, the women drove to the Sunrise police headquarters and walked inside to report the pest — as he sat in a parking spot and watched.

An officer realized Seeburger lived in Sunrise, and started heading toward his home, only to spot the man’s car on the way and pull him over.

Seeburger had his zipper and belt undone when he stepped out of his car, police said.

You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Plan B for the Democrats

March 25th, 2015 - 9:40 am
AP photo

AP photo

Don’t blame me for the headline — blame Bill Press. Here’s a little something for you from his latest column for The Hill:

It’s a huge mistake to treat the 2016 nomination as the coronation of Queen Hillary.

Clinton’s got a lock on the White House, her supporters rhapsodize, because she has more experience and a more powerful political machine than anyone else. But this is exactly what we were told in 2008.
Instead of gleefully climbing aboard the Hillary Express, Democratic leaders should be encouraging other Democrats to run in 2016 — not against Clinton, but for president.

Why? For one very simple reason: Democrats want to win.

If they really want to hold onto the White House in 2016, Democrats would be monumentally stupid to put all their eggs in any one candidate’s basket. There is, for starters, the possibility that Clinton might decide not to run. It seems unlikely, yes, but in case she does decline to jump in, is there a plan B?

The short answer is: Not really. You might recall a report from three weeks ago that Democrats are in a “panic” about what to do if Clinton were to choose not to run. They’re even starting to notice in Britain, where The Sunday Times’ Toby Harnden included the following in a fairly glowing piece on Democratic proto-contender Jim Webb:

Webb is careful not to criticize the former secretary of state by name but there is little doubt about the disdain he feels for everything she represents.

“This country is suffering from leadership fatigue,” he told The Sunday Times outside a Democratic party event in Columbia, South Carolina, a city that Union troops burnt to the ground in the American Civil War.

“People are looking for new ways to move forward with people they can trust. They really want to see a different approach.”

The Clintons, along with the Bushes, have been among those leaders. The recent furor over Clinton keeping a secret computer server and destroying 30,000 emails during her time as secretary of state reminded many voters of the bitter disputes of the 1990s and question marks about her honesty.

But the odds of avoiding a Queen Hillary coronation seem …long… after reading stories like this one:

On Monday evening, mainstream media reporters reportedly gave Hillary Clinton a standing ovation after she joked about her private email scandal and took no questions from the press–at an event honoring excellence in journalism.

According to a National Journal report, Clinton took no questions after her 20-minute speech in Washington, D.C., which prompted the Washington Post‘s Dan Balz, who won this year’s Robin Toner award for excellence in political reporting, to reportedly make Clinton an offer: “I am happy to yield my time back to you if you want to take some questions.” Time reported that “Clinton received a standing ovation” anyway “from the journalist-heavy crowd.”

If anyone is “Ready for Hillary” it would seem to be the members of our national media — perhaps eager to make up for the damage done to her 2008 campaign, when the MSM put its thumb firmly on Barack Obama’s side of the scale. By “thumb” I mean “media appendage the size of a ’60s Cadillac” and by “firmly” I mean “with enough force to create its own event horizon.”

It worked in 2008, because in Obama the media had a “reflective” candidate running on a laudable, if not entirely true, biography. If Obama’s accomplishments were thin, his ability to make himself loved and adored worked in perfect lockstep with the MSM’s own desires.

Clinton’s political biography can be a weary one, filled with scandals and other best-forgotten unpleasantness. Her accomplishments are difficult to detect, despite having been the First Lady of a state and a country, a Senator from a major state, and the nation’s Secretary of State.

She’s just not as easy a sell, so the “War on…” memes are being played harder and earlier than they were in 2012.

That more than the candidate herself is what we need to be ready for — because political memes are Plan B. And Plans A, C, D, E, and F, too.

The House of Democrats

March 25th, 2015 - 8:06 am
Coming to a District of Columbia near you. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Coming to a District of Columbia near you.
(Wikipedia Commons photo)

I had originally intended to file this story under “Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day,” but there’s a deeper issue here which requires exploring. But first the details, as Senate Democrats are “begging” for yet another delay in implementing their president’s signature health coverage law:

A group of Democratic senators is urging the Obama administration to delay a key portion of Obamacare because the results could be “harmful and disruptive.”

In a letter exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller, Senate Democrats pleaded with Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to delay an Obamacare rule change that puts companies with 51 to 100 employees in the costlier “small group” market instead of the “large group” market. The rule change, which will result in higher premiums for many companies, goes into effect in 2016.

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Jon Tester and independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats.

The first thing that occurred to me was that eventually that law they voted for, that their president campaigned on, has to eventually take effect.

The second thing that occurred to me was, “Really? Why?”

The third thing that occurred to me was, if I may say so myself, brilliant.

Let me explain.

Democrats love passing laws — they live for that stuff. They don’t necessarily like all the unintended consequences of the laws they pass, but that’s OK, too. After all, bad old laws are a perfect excuse to pass bad new laws, and thus the Circle of Legislation continues ad infinitum, and endless delays, waivers and moratoriums mean never having to say you’re sorry.

All the trappings of power and none of the responsibilities? I say: Give them what they want.

Let’s amend the Constitution to establish a third branch of Congress — a House of Democrats. The House of Democrats can have as many members as Democrat voters are willing to send to Washington. Getting on the ballot for the House of Democrats is easy, as there is no minimum number of signatures required and none of them have to be valid. Any Democrat able to garner, say, 50,000 votes in their district, state, or across the country, will be awarded a seat in the House of Democrats. Cheating will not only be allowed, it will be encouraged, because Democrats love that, too.

We will construct a New Capitol Building just for the House of Democrats, ornate enough to make Louis XIV, the Sun King and builder of the Palace of Versailles, weep with envy. Salaries will be lavish with offices to match, and staffs will be huge — because Democrats love all that stuff as well.

Pages: 1 2 | 22 Comments»

Don’t Be Evil or Whatevs

March 25th, 2015 - 7:06 am

GOOGLE

Things that make you go hmmmm:

Google’s access to high-ranking Obama administration officials during a critical phase of the antitrust probe is one sign of the Internet giant’s reach in Washington. Since Mr. Obama took office, employees of the Mountain View, Calif., company have visited the White House for meetings with senior officials about 230 times, or an average of roughly once a week, according to the visitor logs reviewed by the Journal.

One top lobbyist at Google, Johanna Shelton, has had more than 60 meetings at the White House. In comparison, employees of rival Comcast Corp., also known as a force in Washington, have visited the White House a total of about 20 times since Mr. Obama took office.

“We think it is important to have a strong voice in the debate and help policy makers understand our business and the work we do to keep the Internet open, to build great products, and to fuel economic growth,” says Google spokeswoman Niki Christoff.

Jennifer Friedman, a White House spokeswoman, said the FTC “is an independent agency and we respect their independent decision-making.”

You should worry less about what Google might be getting from the Obama White House, than what the Obama White House might be getting from Google.

American Taliban

March 25th, 2015 - 6:03 am

And for once, that phrase has actual meaning — in the very unlikely event California attorney Matthew Gregory McLaughlin gets his way with a ballot initiative he’s just submitted called the Sodomite Suppression Act:

The proposal prevents anyone “who is a sodomite or who espouses sodomistic propaganda” from holding public office in California. Those found guilty of spreading propaganda would be fined $1 million and face up to 10 years in prison and a lifetime ban from the state of California.

It also calls for any person “who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

In California, any resident can submit a ballot proposal by paying a $200 fee and filling out the right paperwork.

McLaughlin needs to collect more than 350,000 signatures — which hardly seems likely — to get his initiative on the ballot. Then have it approved by California voters — which seems even less likely — and found constitutional by the state’s Supreme Court. Unlikelihoods on top of unlikelihoods wrapped up in improbabilities.

In other words, the Sodomite Suppression Act ain’t going anywhere — so why bother?

The internet doesn’t have much on McLaughlin, other than he graduated from the George Mason University School of Law, has been a member in good standing of the California Bar for 17 years, and practices law in Huntington Beach. A OS X Maps search for the address listed for his practice shows a small storefront next to a dry cleaners in the Newland Shopping Center strip mall anchored by an Albertson’s grocery store.

Clearly he is not a successful and powerful attorney with connections deep inside California politics.

McLaughlin has no website, no advertising, no personal photo, and no indication I can find of what kind of law he practices. “Better Call” Saul Goodman seems more reputable and less inscrutable.

So then.

Best as I can tell, McLaughlin can be one of two things. Maybe he’s a struggling attorney looking for publicity in the worst possible way in the worst possible state for that kind of publicity. Or, given that the 2012 “War on Women” has expanded into 2016 into LGBT and transgender issues, there seems like a greater-than-zero chance that McLaughlin is a part of a lefty “War on…” operation.

If the former is true, then ignore him and he’ll return shortly to obscurity. If the latter is the case, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether McLaughlin is running a false flag operation, or if he’s just being used.

But as we learned in 2012, be very wary of these “War on…” political memes — they can carry serious weight, even though on the surface they appear ridiculous.

Gone Fishin’

March 21st, 2015 - 9:05 am

ROCKIES

Off to the mountains for long weekend — back Wednesday.

Friday Night Videos

March 20th, 2015 - 10:04 pm

FNV started as a way to share and reminisce about the music of the ’70s and ’80s I grew up with, and also as a personal exercise to learn more about music, about my favorite artists, and as a way to figure out why some songs stick with us and others don’t — and “quality” doesn’t seem to have much to do with it.

Usually what happens is I’ll get an earworm during the week (there’s always music playing at Casa Verde, unless I’m working or watching TV), and I’ll write a mini essay about in my head about it, then type it out on Friday as a way to relax and segue into the weekend.

But that didn’t happen this week, so allow me to introduce you to one of my Brilliant Playlist foundational rules: When all else fails, add some Bowie.

Andrea Grimes via the Daily Caller:

“Suggestion: we don’t have to vaporize all the guns. Let’s just vaporize white men’s guns,” Grimes tweeted, linking to an article about Arizona shooter Ryan Giroux.

“White guys cannot be trusted to use guns responsibly. It is time to stop giving guns to white guys,” Grimes added. ”I mean, it’s time to stop giving guns to everybody, but we can start with the white guys.”

Molon labe, baby.

Solar Eclipse Viewed from Space

March 20th, 2015 - 1:43 pm

Whoa.

I Pity the Tool

March 20th, 2015 - 12:12 pm

MR T

Breaking news from Televisionland:

The former A-Team star has signed on to host a home renovation series called I Pity the Tool for DIY Network, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The show — which landed a straight-to-series order at the network — will see Mr. T and his famed Mohawk destroying outdated spaces to give families beautifully remodeled rooms. Each episode of the series will see Mr. T and his team — including HGTV Design Star winner and interior designer Tiffany Brooks break down walls and tear out old rooms to give a family a home makeover.

I would love to have seen the pitch for a show where Mr T. rips down walls.

Clinton’s Opacity Pledge

March 20th, 2015 - 11:50 am
"Who, me?" (AP Photo)

“Who, me?”
(AP Photo)

Despite transparency promises in 2008 from SecState nominee Hillary Clinton to reveal Clinton Foundation donors, but that promise had an expiration date:

At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity’s flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.

In response to questions from Reuters, officials at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the foundation confirmed no complete list of donors to the Clintons’ charities has been published since 2010. CHAI was spun off as a separate legal entity that year, but the officials acknowledged it still remains subject to the same disclosure agreement as the foundation.

The finding could renew scrutiny of Clinton’s promises of transparency as she prepares to launch her widely expected bid for the White House in the coming weeks.

Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

March 20th, 2015 - 10:48 am

Poor babies:

The IRS is blaming Obamacare for the agency’s poor customer service, with Commissioner John Koskinen telling Congress on Wednesday that he has had to take money away from answering phone calls and instead spend it on technology and personnel to carry out President Obama’s health care law.

Just 43 percent of taxpayers’ phone calls are being answered so far this year. Mr. Koskinen warned that it would get worse without an infusion of money and Americans may start to feel emboldened to cheat on their taxes.

The IRS chief said Congress didn’t provide additional money to prepare for Obamacare and the tax penalty filings that began this year, so he shuffled at least $100 million from user fee funding that had been going to customer service.

“Because of the zero funding for the Affordable Care Act and [the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act], the only way we could implement those statutory mandates … in the last year was to move a significant part of that support for taxpayer service into the IT accounts,” Mr. Koskinen said.

Paying income taxes should suck. Collecting income taxes should suck more.

There’s a solution however — abolish the income tax.

I realize that doesn’t have much to do with ♡bamaCare!!!, but one problem at a time please.

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

March 20th, 2015 - 9:42 am

An idea whose time will hopefully never come:

Hillary Rodham Clinton says the nation’s political class could use “camps for adults” to foster cooperation because too many leaders get backed into partisan corners and refuse to work together.

Clinton offered a bipartisan, feel-good message Thursday during a paid speech to camp counselors in the weeks before her expected presidential campaign launch. She was presented with a gray sweatshirt emblazoned with “Camp David” — the presidential retreat in Maryland — but otherwise steered clear of her prospective campaign, pointing to a “huge fun deficit” in the nation and the need for politicians of all stripes to reach across the aisle.

“We really need camps for adults,” Clinton said at the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey’s Tri State CAMP Conference. “Maybe mix it up a little bit.”

As a trust-building measure, maybe everybody should be allowed to read everybody else’s emails.

Hillary Clinton belongs behind bars, not working as the nation’s grownup C.I.T.

Required Reading

March 20th, 2015 - 8:33 am
Finally spotted on 3/19/2015 (AP photo)

Finally spotted on 3/19/2015
(AP photo)

Peggy Noonan explains what makes Democrats nervous these days:

Without Hillary the party will probably lurch left. And if it lurches left it’ll probably lose the general election. Democrats will break up into left-progressives, way-left-progressives, populists of different stripe, older moderates and centrists. The left is no longer passionate about Mr. Obama because he is not left-wing enough. Hillary Clinton holds the party together with her Hillaryness—her popularity with the base, her connection to the Clinton years, her sex. The idea of the first female president in a party increasingly preoccupied with identity and gender politics is a powerful ideological glue.

Hillary, to the general public, comes across as centrist. In part this is because she is associated with her husband’s ultimate moderation, and in part because she has grown more moderate over the years, at least in the sense of playing ball with various entrenched powers. She is certainly hawkish. Her popularity and persona will keep her party seeming centrist, even if she inches to the left to appease sizeable parts of the base, and to show her heart is still with them.

But I think an untold story of 2016 is that the Democratic establishment is desperate when Mrs. Clinton is in trouble because without her they see a fracturing of their party.

The fracturing has to happen regardless of what Clinton does in the next six-to-ten years. The Great Gravy Train of 2007-2011 has run out, and that plus Obama worship are what have held the party’s factions together. Clinton can paper over the differences with a winning campaign or two, but without control of Congress, I don’t see how the Democrats avoid a civil war.

One seems to have started over Emailgate, but it remains to be seen how much legs that scandal has.

Still, Hillary belongs in jail, not in the White House.

The Truth About Russia

March 20th, 2015 - 7:20 am

RUSSIA

It’s difficult to get too worked up about Vladimir Putin’s antics, deadly as they are, because in the long run Russia is doomed — and the long run isn’t that long from now. In the short run Moscow can do little things (ahem) like blow up NATO, but as things stand now there’s not much future for a once-great people.

The problem is that Russia is running out of Russians, and has been for two or three decades. One little-acknowledged justification for Putin to do things like annex Crimea is to bring ethnic Russians from the Near Abroad back into Russia.

But there’s a catch, as StrategyPage reports:

Since Russia began invading and trying to annex parts of Ukraine in 2014 there has been a substantial shift in population. Since early 2014 nearly two million people have left Russia. More than half these were Westerners (including many from East European countries) working in Russia, providing skills that Russia did not have. The rest were Russians, most of them highly educated and with similar skills to the departing Westerners. What all these migrants had in common was a desire to get away from an increasingly authoritarian, intolerant and economically disastrous Russian government. About half the departing Westerners and skilled Russians were replaced by more (less educated and skilled) migrants from the east (Central Asia, North Korea, China and the Caucasus).

Putin seems damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Don’t Be Evil or Whatever

March 20th, 2015 - 6:09 am

I don’t recall seeing any stories about an FTC antitrust investigation into Google’s business practices, but the WSJ uncovered some previously secret details like these:

In its investigation, FTC staff said Google’s conduct “helped it to maintain, preserve and enhance Google’s monopoly position in the markets for search and search advertising” in violation of the law. Google’s behavior “will have lasting negative effects on consumer welfare,” the report said.

Google has long disputed any characterization that it is a monopoly, saying that competition is “just a click away.”

In discussing one of the issues the FTC staff wanted to sue over, the report said the company illegally took content from rival websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to improve its own websites. It cited one instance when Google copied Amazon’s sales rankings to rank its own items. It also copied Amazon’s reviews and ratings, the report found. Spokesmen for TripAdvisor and Amazon declined to comment.

When competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, it threatened to remove them from its search engine.

“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and did produce, the desired effect,” the report said, “which was to coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down.” The company also sent a message that it would “use its monopoly power over search to extract the fruits of its rivals’ innovations.”

I switched to Bing, and then to Duck Duck Go, because it was clear that Google was being creepy — I just had no idea how creepy. Google is still the best search engine out there, but “free” just ain’t worth it.

If you aren’t familiar with Duck Duck Go, it’s a search engine of search engines, and it anonymizes your data. It’s not perfect, but it is getting better. I use it as my default, and switch back to Bing when DDG doesn’t come through — which is less and less often.

Pushing Granny Off the Cliff

March 20th, 2015 - 5:09 am

CLASSIC

The third and final part of my Trifecta Triple is for members only, but it might be a classic.