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News You Can Use

May 22nd, 2015 - 5:20 am

CHEW

Meanwhile in local news:

Colorado Springs Police said officers responded to calls about a woman chasing a man with a knife on Tuesday night and encountered the suspect, Jade Gurley. Officers then determined that Gurley,39, was trying to stab a man and had torn a “quarter-size chunk” out of his left ear, police added.

The department said that Gurley was arrested without incident — and the knife was recovered from a nearby motel room. It was not immediately clear what charges she was facing.

She ought to be charged with “You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?”

WiFi Is Not Making People Sick

May 21st, 2015 - 1:32 pm
Killing you softly?

Killing you softly?

It’s the latest medical scare story:

[Suzanne] Hoyt said that nothing prepared her for the rush of symptoms that she suddenly developed.

“Headaches, perspiration, pain in my jaws and my heart. It’s like physical expansion of the heart,” she said.

Hoyt said it all started when she installed wi-fi throughout her apartment.

“I started to be very uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what it was,” she said.

With wi-fi everywhere, from parks to restaurants and taxis it turns out Hoyt is not alone.

“With wi-fi everywhere…”

Stop. Right. There.

Wifi is everywhere. Years ago I had to turn off automatic wifi joining on my iPhone, because it would try to join every network at every house as I drove past in my car. iOS now uses motion detection to turn the feature off while you’re driving, but it isn’t perfect — and it still goes to show that wifi is indeed everywhere.

It’s at your Starbucks, it’s in your office, it’s at your school. It’s in the lobby of your hotel and in the drivethru of your local McDonalds.

WiFi is everywhere.

And yet Suzanne Hoyt claims she only got sick when she put a router in her apartment? Was there something wrong with the wifi that was already in almost every other apartment in her building, many of which were sending their signals right into her kitchen, 24/7?

No.

It’s obvious Hoyt and others have some kind of problem — but the problem isn’t wifi.

It’s everywhere, and it’s been everywhere since about 2006. If you weren’t getting sick then, then wifi isn’t your problem.

It's safe to assume this is the first time in recent years that Liana Barrientos has stood before a judge without a man at her side. (AP photo)

It’s safe to assume this is the first time in recent years that Liana Barrientos has stood before a judge without a man at her side.
(AP photo)

New York City’s Liana Barrientos failed to show up in court earlier this week — after being brought up on charges of being married to nine men at once:

Barrientos, 39, was charged in April for marrying 10 times but only divorcing once – a Bronx detective uncovered records of marriage licenses filed across New York, including in the Bronx, Long Island and Westchester County.

The Bronx woman is charged with filing fraudulent marriage licenses, which is a felony. Her husbands are from Bangladesh, Egypt, Georgia, Turkey, Pakistan and Mali, according to PIX 11. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson told the news station that Barrientos was allegedly married to eight men at once, and is still believed to be wed to four of them.

The problem with letting straight people marry is you just know some of them will abuse it.

You can’t pick up an op-ed page these days without getting whacked in the face with yet another idea for “fixing” the GOP primary debates. As Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Readers™ know, and as my liver could tell anyone else, the debates are in serious need of a fix. The style of the 2012 debate cycle was to cram the stage with enough candidates to serve as an Electric Light Orchestra road crew, then have them repeat as many rehearsed talking points as possible in each 60-second response, in the cadence of a coked-up jackrabbit.

If ecstasy has an exact chemical opposite, I’m pretty sure it was in the bottled water at those “debates.”

The second-best fix I’ve seen is from Ben Domenech, who gleefully suggested one simple trick: “Shoot the moderator.” And in the wake of Stephanopoulosgate, who wouldn’t want to do just that? Here’s more from Ben:

Here’s how a debate would work if you cut that out: candidates would debate an actual topic for an extended amount of time – say three topics with three questions in a policy space over an entire 90 minute debate (for example, a foreign policy debate where the questions concern what to do about ISIS, what to do about Russia, and what to do about the NSA, or an economic debate about taxes, trade, and Too Big To Fail). With 12 candidates speaking in that time period, they’re still only going to get two and a half minutes on each topic – but without a moderator, candidates are more likely to be drawn into debates with the people on the stage who disagree with their views. In a more free-flowing debate, there is no Wolf Blitzer to cut things off, and the confrontations will be more extended – but I expect also more substantive, as arguments will be more extended, gotcha questions eliminated, and the need to have quick quips as a substitute for a point will not be as pressing.

This harkens back to the best American presidential debate I’ve ever seen: Bruce Babbitt vs Pete DuPont in 1988. Two men, two chairs, two glasses of water, and a 90-minute free-form discussion of issues between two serious and well-informed candidates.

When I say “best debate,” I mean that only as someone who enjoys watching real debates. It’s more difficult to determine how much good the format did for the actual candidates, because neither former President DuPont nor former President Babbitt would return any of my calls.

This brings us to Dan Henninger in today’s WSJ:

One answer, as so often, lies with Ronald Reagan’s template. In 1980, Reagan’s campaign paid for the New Hampshire primary debate. “I am paying for this microphone.” Reinvent the Reagan model.

In addition to the traditional debates, the candidates or their supporters should underwrite a series of smaller debate/conversations. Divide the 19 into groups of four or five candidates, randomly selected. Pick the issues, and go at it. Give voters a chance to see who these mostly interesting people are and how their minds work outside the confines of a 60-second timer.

The moderator’s job would be to break clinches. Other than that, let ’em have at it. People say they “like” Scott Walker for what he did in Wisconsin. Agreed. Let’s see how he handles himself over 10 rounds with three other Republicans before climbing into the big ring with Mrs. Clinton.

This is a lovely idea, although I’m not certain Henninger has taken it quite far enough. Yes, allow each candidate to “buy” their own debates — but also let each candidate determine their own format, location, and opponents. “I am paying for this microphone!” indeed.

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Accident traffic jam on Oregon's I-5. (AP photo)

Accident traffic jam on Oregon’s I-5.
(AP photo)

Here it comes — a test program in Oregon to charge drivers by the mile.

The program is meant to help the state raise more revenue to pay for road and bridge projects at a time when money generated from gasoline taxes are declining across the country, in part, because of greater fuel efficiency and the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars.

Starting July 1, up to 5,000 volunteers in Oregon can sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on public roads within Oregon, instead of the tax now added when filling up at the pump.

Some electric and hybrid car owners, however, say the new tax would be unfair to them and would discourage purchasing of green vehicles.

Not to mention it’s creepy and intrusive for the state government to track your driving.

I have a simpler and less invasive solution. Take the state road budget, then first subtract what’s collected in state gas taxes. Whatever figure is left, divide by the number of car registrations, prorated by vehicle weight. Heavier cars and trucks would pay more than lighter ones, using a formula based on the differential in road wear.

Tack the resulting number onto each vehicle registration fee.

Gas guzzlers would still pay more at the pump, keeping the greenies happy. Heavier vehicles would pay for the additional wear & tear they cause to the roads, even the ones with hybrid or other super-efficient engines. Owners of tiny electric cars would still pay something for the roads they use the same as everyone else.

A small toll for using Oregon’s interstate highways, for which state residents would receive rebates, would make sure out-of-staters pay their fair share, too.

And civil libertarians like myself wouldn’t get the heebie-jeebies at the mere thought of taking a road trip through Oregon’s gorgeous scenery.

I know, I know — it makes too much sense to ever happen.

Sign “O” the Times

May 21st, 2015 - 9:40 am

40% of Unemployed-Americans (they’re a big enough group now to get their own hyphen!) have given up looking for work:

The revelation, contained in a new survey Wednesday showing how much work needs to be done yet in the U.S. labor market, comes as the labor force participation rate remains mired near 37-year lows.

A tight jobs market, the skills gap between what employers want and what prospective employees have to offer, and a benefits program that, while curtailed from its recession level, still remains obliging have combined to keep workers on the sidelines, according to a Harris poll of 1,553 working-age Americans conducted for Express Employment Professionals.

On the bright side, the number is actually better than 2014, the survey’s inaugural year, when 47 percent of the jobless said they had given up.

The decline in labor force participation, in fact, has been a key to the drop of the unemployment rate in the post-recession economy. The jobless rate has slid from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to its current 5.4 percent, the lowest level since May 2008. However, the participation rate has fallen from 66.1 percent to 62.8 percent during the same period.

While the survey lists the number of unemployed Americans at about 8.5 million, that ignores 81 million adult Americans who aren’t institutionalized, but who also aren’t in the labor force — although presumably millions of them would be employable in better economy.

That’s a lot of deadweight for the working adult population to carry.

Florida Man Strikes Again!

May 21st, 2015 - 8:52 am

FLORIDA MAN

To be more accurate, Florida Man nearly struck again:

A Florida man apparently fell asleep after breaking into a home over the weekend.

Timothy Bontrager, 29, has been charged with felony burglary of an occupied dwelling after breaking into the home and falling asleep on the couch, according to WTSP.

The homeowner told police she woke up around 7:20 a.m. and found Bontrager sleeping on her couch. When she asked him what he was doing in her house, he apologized.

While I’m sure the apology was heartfelt, you know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Look Before You Leap Second

May 21st, 2015 - 7:34 am

Long before smartwatches, cell phones, or even personal computers with self-updating clocks, part of my dad’s morning routine was to turn on his weather radio in the bathroom and set his watch to the atomic clock signal. He was still usually late picking me up on Saturday mornings, but damn if his watch wasn’t always on the money.

With that kind of attention to detail, bordering on obsessive, I was certain back in ’81 or ’82 that he was joking when he told me there would be a “leap second” that summer.

But here we go again:

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems (IERS) announced an extra second will be added at the end of June to account for a discrepancy between Earth’s rotation and the atomic clock.

The extra second will be added as the clock strikes midnight universal time, meaning the extra second will come for people in the United States at 8 p.m. EDT.

Leap seconds can be added in June or December, according to IERS. There have been 25 instances since 1972 of an extra second being added.

Remember, we’re moving one second forward, so I don’t want anyone to be late on the first Saturday in July.

Suspiciously Fabulous Study Retracted

May 21st, 2015 - 6:17 am

I missed the reports on this thing back in December, but apparently UCLA graduate assistant Michael LaCour used “dubious” means and outright fabrications in a study about how simple it is to change minds in favor of gay marriage — and his “study” has since been retracted:

The retraction this week of the popular article published in a December issue of the Science academic journal follows revelations that his co-author allegedly faked data for the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support of gay marriage.”

According to academic watchdog Retraction Watch, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green published a retraction of the paper on Tuesday after confronting co-author Michael LaCour, a graduate assistant at UCLA.

The study received widespread media coverage from The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and others, when it was released in December.

“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science,” Green told the blog.

As someone who has spent 20 years or more trying to win hearts and minds in support of gay marriage, I would have called BS on this “study” had I noticed it last winter. Overcoming deeply-held religious beliefs and/or simple human biases is almost never going to happen, if ever, over the course of a short conversation.

However, I’m not at all surprised that The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal fell for it.

Elian All Grown Up

May 21st, 2015 - 5:32 am

News from the 7th Century

May 20th, 2015 - 3:02 pm
View over the execution square on the religion police building (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15 November 2006. Photo by: Peer Grimm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

View over the execution square on the religion police building (R) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15 November 2006. Photo by: Peer Grimm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

It’s a messy job, but somebody’s got to do it:

Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners, recruiting extra staff to carry out an increasing number of death sentences, usually done by public beheading.

No special qualifications are needed for the jobs whose main role is “executing a judgment of death” but also involve performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences, the advert, posted on the civil service jobs portal, said.

The Islamic kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death, rights groups say. It ranked third in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International figures.

The telling detail in this story is that the job title is “religious functionary.”

(Facebook photo)

(Facebook photo)

You may remember last week’s news from the UK about Goldsmiths university “welfare and diversity officer” Bahar Mustafa, who insisted that as a “an ethnic minority woman” she couldn’t possibly “be racist or sexist towards white men,” despite excluding them from her “diversity” event.

Well, now there’s this:

The Goldsmiths diversity officer embroiled in a racism row could lose her job after allegedly tweeting with the hashtag “kill all white men”.

Ms Mustafa said in a statement the use of the term “white trash” – an offensive American term referring to poor white people following the Great Depression – on an official account had been “not professional”.

But she added the uses of hashtags such as “kill all white men” on her personal account were “in-jokes and ways that many people in the queer feminist community express ourselves”.

Such hateful forms of self-expression should be banned for the sake of diversity.

Required Reading

May 20th, 2015 - 12:51 pm

Robert Tracinski wants to know why the Left kowtows to Islam:

In fact, a running theme of the left’s arguments, repeated with a great deal of apparent sincerity, is the notion that it is irrational to fear Islam, that describing the religion as violent and dangerous is “Islamophobia.” They seem to have largely talked themselves into believing that they have nothing personally to fear from Islam. Jihadists may throw gays off of buildings in Syria, but it can’t happen here.

This is nonsense, of course, but it is revealing of the mindset. They actually talk themselves into believing that “censorship of LGBT artists” is an equal or even greater threat, far more urgent than anything having to do with Islam. For the left, the main source of evil in the world always comes from within America and from within the West, never outside of it.

The short version is that Islam is fundamentally opposed to Western Civilization, making it seem like a natural ally for Leftists and other vile progressives.

Of course, they’ll be the first with their backs up against the wall — or thrown off the building, or crushed by rocks, beheaded, burned alive, etc.

News You Can Use

May 20th, 2015 - 11:41 am
Dinner is served. (AP photo)

Dinner is served.
(AP photo)

Kids, don’t try this at home:

Police Monday investigated an instructor at a rural South Korean boarding facility who bit a hamster to death and swallowed it in front of children.

The instructor, surnamed Yu, 44, said he did so because he was “afraid of rats.”

The incident happened on May 11 at a boarding facility in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province.

After finding out that some children were teasing hamsters, Yu bit one to death and swallowed it to teach them “how dear life is,” according to police.

Seven children saw him eat the animal.

In North Korea, they’re lucky to eat hamsters.

Where Did Our Cash Go?

May 20th, 2015 - 10:04 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

A Tennessee family is accused of collecting $187 million ostensibly for cancer research and spending it on themselves:

The Federal Trade Commission, in a federal lawsuit joined by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, said that James T. Reynolds Sr., his ex-wife and son raised the money through their various charities: The Cancer Fund of America in Knoxville, Tennessee, and its affiliated Cancer Support Services; The Breast Cancer Society in Mesa, Arizona; and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America in Powell, Tennessee.

The charities hired telemarketers to collect $20 donations from people across the country, telling consumers that they provided financial aid and other support to cancer patients, including pain medication, transportation to chemotherapy visits and hospice care.

But little money made it to cancer patients, as the groups “operated as personal fiefdoms characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation” with none of the controls used by bona fide charities, the FTC said Tuesday.

Maybe the FTC could look into the Clinton Foundation, which at last report gave a scant 6% of its multimillions to charity, and by other reports is also characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation.

Just a friendly tip for the good folks at the FTC.

The Party of Youth

May 20th, 2015 - 9:22 am

Kruiser is sitting in Scott Ott’s seat on Trifecta this week, as only Kruiser can.

Chris Christie Flubs the Privacy Test

May 20th, 2015 - 8:18 am
Keeping you in the dark. (AP photo)

Keeping you in the dark.
(AP photo)

Here’s the Republican New Jersey Governor on the PATRIOT ACT:

“When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their own narrow agenda,” Christie said.

“Let’s be clear,” he later added, “all these fears are exaggerated and ridiculous. When it comes to fighting terrorism our government is not the enemy, and we should not be listening to people like Edward Snowden.”

Let’s be clear. Snowden did not reveal any intelligence secrets — he revealed the existence of a secret NSA program to monitor just about every bit of metadata generated by just about every American, every day. That’s something which, as Americans, we must know about if we are to trust our government.

And speaking of “civil liberties extremists,” I wonder what Christie would have to say about the extremists who dumped tea into Boston Harbor and took up arms against their own King & Parliament.

Whatever his motives, I’d take a dozen Snowdens over one well-meaning Christie any day.

More on Those Gay Wedding Blues

May 20th, 2015 - 7:20 am

Longtime Sharp VodkaPundit Reader™ rg322 clued me in to part of this morning’s story I somehow missed:

“Probate Judge Al Booth had halted all marriage ceremonies in the office the day before. DiPrizio refused to leave the office after sheriffs deputies were called and she was charged with disorderly conduct, court records show.”

I stand corrected. It looks like by handing out a suspended sentence that Booth was acting well within the traditions of American jurisprudence — and that DiPrizio and her newlyweds were acting well within the traditions of American civil disobedience.

The story makes much more sense now and, as always, I appreciate the correction.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

May 20th, 2015 - 6:33 am

DOCTOR OBAMA

Get ready for a pain no doctor can treat:

The past month has provided a few hints that the relatively modest premium increases we’ve seen under Obamacare may not last for long, and today brings a few more.

In Maryland’s largest health insurer has requested rate hikes up to 30.4 percent for the vast majority of its members, reports the Baltimore Sun. Large insurers in several other states are officially targeting double-digit increases as well, according to Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily. Tennessee’s biggest insurer, BlueCross Blue Shield, which covers 165,000 people in the state, has asked for a 36.3 percent hike, and the top insurer in Michigan is looking at a 9.8 percent hike.

Why the big hikes? The 25.6 percent rate increase sought by Moda Health, which covers 100,000 people in Oregon, may provide a clue: As Graham notes, costs for the health plan exceeded premiums by 61 percent in 2014. The next largest insurer in the state is also seeking a double digit rate increase. Basically, the premiums charged so far aren’t an accurate representation of how much it costs to cover the people who are enrolled.

That Means It’s Working™

Gay Wedding Blues

May 20th, 2015 - 5:14 am

An Alabama Unitarian minister has been sentenced to 30 days, suspended, for performing a legally meaningless gay wedding:

Anne Susan DiPrizio, 44, entered the plea before Judge Ben Fuller, but not before some delays and judicial wrangling. He gave her 30 days in the Autauga Metro Jail, and then suspended the sentence in place of 6 months unsupervised probation. Fuller also ordered her to pay a $250 fine and other associated court costs.

On Feb. 10, DiPrizio offered to marry a lesbian couple inside the Autauga County Probate Office. The couple had received their marriage license just a few minutes before.

Probate Judge Al Booth had halted all marriage ceremonies in the office the day before. DiPrizio refused to leave the office after sheriff’s deputies were called and she was charged with disorderly conduct, court records show. She spent about three hours in the Autauga Metro Jail that day before posting a bond of $1,000, jail records show.

Let me get this straight — with no cheap pun intended. DiPrizio was arrested, fined, and sentenced for performing a wedding which Autauga County had licensed?

The scene during her plea wasn’t pretty:

An apparent plea deal was agreed to before the bench trial began. When Fuller pronounced the 30 day suspended jail sentence the first go round, DiPrizio balked.

“That’s not what we agreed to, we said no suspended 30 day sentence,” she said.

Fuller withdrew the plea agreement and told Desirae Lewis, the assistant district attorney handling the case to prepare to call her witnesses. During the break prosecutors huddled with DiPrizio, who was representing herself, and tried to clear up any confusion on the sentence.

Fuller came back to the courtroom and second time, handing down the sentence and DiPrizio interrupted him when he was talking about the fine.

“Can I ask a question?” she said to Fuller.

“When I’m done!” a visibly angered Fuller said with a raised voice. “We are here to take a misdemeanor plea. I don’t know if you think this is a game. If you do, you can learn differently very quickly.”

I understand that gay marriage isn’t allowed under Alabama law, which ought to be a matter for the people of Alabama to deal with one way or the other — but that’s an issue for another day. The simple and non-controversial solution in this case would be for the judge to declare the license (and thus the marriage) to be invalid under Alabama law and leave it at that. Why arrest DiPrizio for “disorderly conduct,” when near as I can tell there was nothing disorderly about a couple obtaining a license and then having a friendly minister perform a civil ceremony?

If there are any charges to be filed, perhaps the not-newlyweds should have paid a fine for “obtaining a license under false pretenses” or something similar, if it turns out one of them pretended to be a man to the clerk. And maybe something like that will or did happen — the USA Today story doesn’t get into that side of it. So I looked into the history of the case which dates back to February of this year:

The incident took place one day after a federal ruling went into effect that found Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Because the state’s top judicial officer, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, ordered probate judges to defy that ruling, a majority were refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday. A day later, the chaos only seems to be intensifying.

“I will say I was nothing but polite, and there was nothing disorderly about my conduct,” said 44-year-old Anne Susan Diprizio, the woman who was arrested Tuesday, to msnbc. “The only person who was behaving disorderly was [Autauga County Probate] Judge Booth, who was aggressive, rude, hateful, not gentlemanly, had no southern manners – nothing you would expect from a good man.” Msnbc reached out to Booth for comment, but his office declined to speak on the matter.

Yet the minister was convicted of disorderly conduct for presiding over a non-binding wedding ceremony? Near as I can tell from the these reports, Judge Fuller is just waving his little gavel around because he doesn’t like lesbians.

Fuller’s dislikes and biases are his business, of course — but that doesn’t mean he gets to bring them to the bench.

Fail, Britannia

May 19th, 2015 - 2:34 pm
HMS Vanguard seen in this AP file photo from 2002.

HMS Vanguard seen in this AP file photo from 2002.

The Royal Navy ain’t what she used to be:

The British Royal Navy is searching for Able Seaman William McNeilly after he leaked an 18-page report called “The Secret Nuclear Threat.”

In the document, the submariner explained a wide range of insights relating to the UK’s submarine operations, reports The Independent. It covers everything from the mundane, such as food hygiene, to more worrying topics such as hydraulics failures that prevent submarines from launching missiles. In fact, he describes submarine floods during testing that would have killed if they’d happened at sea, and writes that he “learnt that HMS Vanguard is in the worst of the worst condition.”

Elsewhere, he claims that it’s“harder to get into most nightclubs” than into sensitive parts of the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde in Scotland. “I’ve gotten through a few times by just showing my pale white room key; looks nothing like a Green Area Pass,” he wrote.

Outrageous and intolerable, if true — and there’s little reason to doubt the seaman’s story, given the sorry state of the rest of the UK’s armed forces.

I’d also add that maintenance and security of a submarine armed with 16 Trident II nuclear-tipped missiles (with up to eight warheads each) is no laughing matter.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

May 19th, 2015 - 1:26 pm

It’s becoming more and more difficult to remember when ♡bamaCare!!! was supposed to save every American family an average of $2,500 a year — especially with health care expenses growing so quickly that they may be what’s caused the economy to stall.

Anthony Mirhaydari has the numbers:

The percentage of personal consumption expenditures (in current dollars) spent on health care goods and services has jumped from 20.0 percent last March to 20.8 percent this March, while the percentage spent on gasoline fell from 3.2 percent last June to 2.2 percent this March.

David Rosenberg at Gluskin Sheff echoes Yardeni, noting that the gasoline windfall wasn’t spent “on gadgets and small luxury goods” as was normally the case, but on cyclical services (like bars and restaurants) and health care. He highlights the fact that spending on health care is running at a 6.6 percent annual growth rate as of March.

Thomas Costerg at Standard Chartered is also worried about the drag on spending from changes under Obamacare, charging outright that, “health-care reform is stalling private consumption.” He’s waiting for forthcoming statistics from the Internal Revenue Service to provide specifics, but notes “anecdotal evidence from tax preparers already suggests millions may have had to pay penalties and/or seen their tax refunds reduced.”

It’s time for a tax revolt.

How Dare You Question Me, Peasant!

May 19th, 2015 - 12:04 pm

That Road Is So (Anti) Gay

May 19th, 2015 - 11:13 am

BANGAYS WAY

Oh fer cryin’ out loud:

[A British] MP has backed the complaint of a gay couple who say they are offended by a “homophobic” road named Bangays Way in their village.

Bangays Way is a new cul-de-sac in a residential development in Borough Green, near Sevenoaks, Kent. It is named after a well-known parish councillor Frank Bangay who passed away in 1999.

But a married gay couple have taken offence to the additional “s” and say it makes the name “homophobic”. One, who did not wish to be named, told the Telegraph: “Having got over the initial humour, we reflected that this street name was actually pretty offensive. Somehow seeing it on the sign made it look even worse.”

First off, it’s impossible for a street to be homophobic. After all — anyone, male or female, can lay road.

[rim shot]

Secondly, I’m about as gay-friendly as a guy can be, short of actually making out with another guy. That said, this BS has got to stop. These petty complaints (and they don’t just come from gays, mind you) — that every little this offends every little that — have got to stop.

These whiners sound like children complaining, “But that’s not fair!” Well, buckle up buttercup — life ain’t fair. And sometimes roads get named after decent men with funny-sounding last names. If you can’t deal with that, go back to kindergarten.

I’ll finish with a very grownup quote from Stephen Fry:

It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that.” As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. “I find that offensive.” It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I am offended by that.” Well, so fucking what.

Well said.

Benghazi Fried, Obama Lied

May 19th, 2015 - 10:00 am

None of this should be surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention since 9/11/2012, but lying Obama and his entire lying administration sent liar Susan Rice to lie about Benghazi. Ed Morrissey has the details:

In a memo from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to the National Security Council, the CIA, and the White House five days after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, the DIA concluded that the attack had been planned for more than a week and was retribution for an American drone strike that had killed a senior al-Qaeda leader in June 2012. Moreover, the attack had been planned for the anniversary of 9/11 as a propaganda coup for AQ and its affiliate behind the attack, and not just a coincidence as the White House later claimed (via The Right Scoop).

The date of the DIA conclusion (produced by a FOIA lawsuit from Judicial Watch) is remarkable for at least one reason. First, September 16 is an infamous date in the Benghazi timeline, as the date on which Susan Rice did a full Ginsburg to insist that the attack resulted from a spontaneous demonstration tied to an obscure YouTube video. Even though the DIA directly contradicted those talking points supplied by the White House to Rice, they continued to insist on using them for another two weeks, including Hillary Clinton. During that period, the Obama administration kept saying that they had no indication that this was a terrorist plot, even though the president of Libya insisted that it was a planned attack on one of the same shows on which Rice appeared.

The only “remarkable” thing I see in this story is that the President of Libya is a more trustworthy news show guest than an administration official.

Hillary Clinton: War Profiteer

May 19th, 2015 - 9:32 am
(AP photo)

(AP photo)

That headline seems a little over the top, doesn’t it? Maybe it will seem less so after you read this:

An examination by The Times suggests that Mr. Blumenthal’s involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.

While advising Mrs. Clinton on Libya, Mr. Blumenthal, who had been barred from a State Department job by aides to President Obama, was also employed by her family’s philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation, to help with research, “message guidance” and the planning of commemorative events, according to foundation officials. During the same period, he also worked on and off as a paid consultant to Media Matters and American Bridge, organizations that helped lay the groundwork for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government. The venture, which was ultimately unsuccessful, involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.

Read the whole thing, which is damning enough at this early stage of the investigation. But what seems clear is that a longtime Clinton associate tried to benefit financially from a war of choice instigated by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Whether the Clintons themselves made out financially from the war hasn’t been proven, although the NYT report certainly leaves that door wide open. And it isn’t as though the Clintons have ever been shy about making a buck, whenever and however they can — their “charity” seems mainly to act as a multimillion-dollar-a-year slush fund, with only minuscule amounts of money ever spent on actual charity.

So the question in my mind isn’t whether Hillary Clinton profited or attempted to profit from from her war in Libya — a war which has turned that country into a playground for ISIS, and helped create a humanitarian crisis which is flooding southern Europe with refugees and, it is safe to assume, terrorists. No, my gut tells me that of course the Clintons tried to profit from the chaos Hillary unleashed. So the question in my mind is whether or not Clinton initiated the Libyan War for the purpose of her own personal gain, or if her own personal gain was just a happy accident.

Remember too that the United States “led from behind” in Libya, and let our NATO allies do most of the heavy lifting — er, heavy bombing. If the leaders of Britain, France, and Italy even suspect Clinton rented out their air forces to do her bidding to fatten her checking account, then the Western alliance is effectively over the moment she is sworn in as POTUS.

Hillary Clinton belongs in jail.

(Image courtesy CNET/Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar)

(Image courtesy CNET/Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar)

Just because you have some time to kill is a fine reason for attaching inappropriate items to live chickens — but it isn’t the only reason:

Recently, a group of scientists from Harvard, Yale and several other universities focused on another part of the chicken, the beak, to determine how it got there over time. To do so, they grew dinosaur-like snouts on chicken embryos during their development stages. The results of their experiment were published Tuesday in the online edition of the journal Evolution.

Bhart-Anjan St. Bhullar, a developmental biologist from Yale University who co-led the research, said the goal wasn’t just to create a mutant chicken-raptor as part of some bizarre biologist’s bet. “Our goal here was to understand the molecular underpinnings of an important evolutionary transition, not to create a ‘dino-chicken’ simply for the sake of it,” Bhullar said in a statement released by Yale. Bullard co-led the research with his doctoral adviser, Arhat Abzhanov of Harvard.

I’m dying to see how they investigate the evolution of beaver tails.

This is fascinating work, and so I shouldn’t make light. Here’s how they did it:

First, the researchers had to determine the “gene expression that correlated with the transition” by examining the evolutionary history of the chicken through fossil records and other existing animals such as crocodiles, turtles and lizards just to generate a hypothesis of its location. They even examined and cloned fragments of DNA samples from animals such as crocodiles and emus to find the gene expression needed to form ancient bird beaks like those found on small dinosaurs such as Velociraptor and Archaeopteryx.

Then, they used small-molecule inhibitors to stop the crucial proteins that develop the modern chicken beak. Once they stopped the proteins, the embryos formed “the palatine bone on the roof of the mouth to go back to its ancestral state.” Not only were the scientists able to examine and pinpoint the exact moment in the chicken’s evolutionary biology when it developed its modern beak, but they also came up with a method that they say other evolutionary biologists can use to examine other species’ evolutionary histories and transformations.

What amazes me is that evolutionary processes are better understood than gravity, and can even be controlled and fine-tuned under laboratory conditions — and yet nobody ever raises a fuss about not believing in gravity.

Baghdad Bob Now Working at the Pentagon

May 19th, 2015 - 7:34 am
Displaced Iraqis from Ramadi rest before crossing the Bzebiz bridge after spending the night walking towards Baghdad, as they flee their hometown, 65 km west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, May 16, 2015. Islamic State militants seized the center of Ramadi in western Iraq and raised their black flag over the government compound, local officials said. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban)

Displaced Iraqis from Ramadi rest before crossing the Bzebiz bridge after spending the night walking towards Baghdad, as they flee their hometown, 65 km west of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, May 16, 2015. Islamic State militants seized the center of Ramadi in western Iraq and raised their black flag over the government compound, local officials said. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban)

Mark Steyn on the fall of Ramadi:

Americans interested in an honest assessment of what’s happening are better off skipping the Pentagon briefing and listening to the locals hightailing it outta there:

“Ramadi has fallen,” Muhammad Haimour, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Anbar, told AP Sunday. “The city was completely taken. … The military is fleeing.”

Indeed. The Pentagon has an unrivaled comic genius when it comes to naming its operations. General Weidley is Chief of Staff, Joint Task Force for “Operation Inherent Resolve”. If one had to name the single quality most obviously lacking in local ground forces, in the “60-nation coalition” and in US strategists, that would be it. Iraqi troops fled their US-supplied government buildings and then, at the edge of town, abandoned their US-supplied Humvees to melt into the local population, hopefully with nothing US-supplied about their person to give them away. The Humvees and the buildings are now in the hands of Isis. That’s the great thing about taking on a “60-nation coalition”. When you roll over them in nothing flat, the stuff they leave behind is world-beating state-of-the-art.

Almost exactly twelve years ago, I spent two days in Ramadi – one coming, one going. I wandered around the streets, browsed the shops, ate in the cafes, all in the same suit-and-tie get-up you can see me in on stage and telly. And I got the odd surly look but no beheading. Because, in the spring of 2003, the west was still believed to be serious. Now they know we’re not.

It isn’t that ISIS isn’t beatable — it is. The problem is we can’t be bothered to take the fight to them seriously, and when we do we get it wrong. For more on that, here’s PJM’s own Richard Fernandez who says that despite its name, ISIS isn’t a state as we in the Westphalian world understand it:

Non-states have different needs vulnerabilities from Westphalian states. One analyst who understands this is former Army intelligence analyst Jessica Lewis McFate who writes: “ISIS is a state-breaker”. It doesn’t thrive on hierarchy or order and UN meetings. It thrives on chaos. She explains that the basic unit of jihadi control is conquered territory, which is not the same as a state territory. Conquered territory is the current area open to plunder and may shift as need arises. Such opportunities only present themselves in a collapse.

Control of cities … are not, however, the metric by which to measure the defeat of ISIS’s fighting force.

ISIS’s ability to remain as a violent group, albeit rebranded, has already been demonstrated, given the near-defeat of its predecessor AQI in 2008 and its resurgence over … a vast dominion across Iraq and Syria.

In this most dangerous form, ISIS is a counter-state, a state-breaker that can claim new rule and new boundaries after seizing cities across multiple states by force, an unacceptable modern precedent.

ISIS, despite its name, does not live to become a Westphalian state. On the contrary, it lives by breaking down Westphalian states. It gets its energy from the throes of a dying country; from ransoms, looting, extortion, smuggling, people trafficking, rape and pillage. Thus Obama’s decision to dismantle American hegemony in the Middle East, whatever its merits, had the unfortunate side effect of increasing entropy. That, plus the wayward consequences of the Arab Spring supercharged the rise of ISIS-like organizations.

Years ago, I wrote that the primary means (apart from killing and whatnot) to winning an idealogical struggle is to “prove the enemy ideology to be ineffective.”

Our actions and inactions in the Middle East are proving the enemy ideology to be quite effective indeed, as the residents of Ramadi are learning.

The first effective means of defeating a “state-breaker” is to establish and nurture states with institutions able to withstand attacks from groups like ISIS. Let us stipulate that President Bush made a world-class blunder invading Iraq in 2003, no matter how noble his intentions might have been — but “we broke it, we bought it,” as Colin Powell liked to say. President Obama however abandoned Iraq when we should have continued nurturing its still-fragile institutions.

The results of Obama’s callous pique are the refugees columns fleeing Ramadi.

Required Reading

May 19th, 2015 - 6:33 am
He's a slam-dunk for the nomination! (AP photo)

He’s a slam-dunk for the nomination!
(AP photo)

Marc Thiessen on the presidential race, and Iraq 2003 versus Iraq 2015:

Jeb Bush’s fumbled answer on Iraq is so troubling because the controversy is so unnecessary. The only people in the United States obsessed with re-litigating the 2003 decision to invade Iraq are on the left. Most Americans are far more concerned about what the next president is going to do about Iraq today.

And — news flash — the vast majority want to send ground forces to Iraq right now.

In March, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 62 percent of Americans support sending ground forces to Iraq to fight the Islamic State, while only 30 percent are opposed. Even a 53 percent majority of Democrats support sending ground troops to Iraq, along with 60 percent of independents. Among Republicans, support for boots on the ground is even higher, with 73 percent in favor and 18 percent opposed.

So let’s be clear: There is no groundswell among GOP primary voters for Bush or any of the Republican presidential candidates to disavow the 2003 invasion. What voters do want to hear from the presidential contenders is how they are going to deal with the terrorist threat from Iraq in the here and now.

Read the whole thing, especially the end where Thiessen notes how Bush flubbed what should have been a slam-dunk chance to turn the question around. He just isn’t prepared as a candidate.

While you do that, I’ll go back to waiting for the press to start asking Hillary Clinton (who belongs in jail) a few Gotcha! questions about Libya.

[crickets]

Be the Uber

May 19th, 2015 - 5:05 am

How can heavily-regulated cab companies hope to compete against agile and unregulated competitors like Uber and Lyft? In Long Beach, they’ll do it by becoming more like Uber and Lyft:

On the other hand, says Long Beach’s Mayor Robert Garcia “Uber and Lyft are both popular in Long Beach,” and show no signs of going away. Throughout Long Beach’s county of Los Angeles, locals say that ride sharing is transforming the local travel culture at lightning speed.

So working together with Yellow Cab, the city council of Long Beach (population: 469,000) this week approved a pilot program that removes taxis’ fare floor, allowing Yellow Cab to discount fares as conditions warrant, comparable to ride sharing services’ less expensive fares. The company will also get an ordering app, be allowed to increase its fleet size from 175 to 199 cars, and be permitted to add additional capacity at peak times. [emphasis added]

I wish Yellow luck, but it’s difficult to see how they’ll ever out-innovate the newcomers when their business model is still based on “allowed” and “permitted” by a slow-moving city council with entrenched interests to protect.