Monday, November 24, 2014

The Quarrymen

Wind power and Loch Ness don't mix:
Approximately 22,000,000 cubic feet of stone will need to be quarried from the surrounding area to build the wind farm, used both in the construction of access roads and hard-standing at the base of the turbines, and also to build the heavy platforms required to support the turbines.
The figure is taken from SSE’s own calculations. In 2012, when 83 turbines were planned – roughly 20 percent more than is currently being considered, the company stated that 28 million cubic feet would be required.
But the John Muir Trust points out that even the revised figure would consist of nearly enough stone to build nine Berlin Walls. The Trust calculated that the wall, at 69 miles long, 13 feet high and six inches thick, used about 2 million cubic feet in its construction. If the stone which will go into the Stronelairg wind farm were used to construct an identical wall, it would be 600 miles long.
“Most people will be staggered to discover the sheer scale of the quarrying involved in building a mega-wind farm on the scale of Stronelairg,” said Brooks.
And the detrimental environmental impacts don’t stop there. “All of this disruption will take place on a site which consists of more than 70% wet blanket peatland — Scotland’s miniature version of the rainforest — which locks in 20 times as much carbon per acre as the average woodland. A serious strategy to cut greenhouse gases would include protection of Scotland’s natural carbon storehouses,” Brooks added.
And that's not counting what Nessie would think...

I'm Only An Executive Order

How a President gets to become a King:

Hagel Out

Chuck Hagel is stepping down:
The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that the defense secretary initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.

But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Even before the announcement of Mr. Hagel’s removal, Obama officials were speculating on his possible replacement. At the top of the list are Michèle A. Flournoy, a former under secretary of defense; Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a former officer with the Army’s 82nd Airborne; and Ashton B. Carter, a former deputy secretary of defense.
Wanted: One Secretary of Defense. Experience helpful but not necessary...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Non-Renewable Future

The future isn't fixed on renewables:
Whenever somebody with a decent grasp of maths and physics looks into the idea of a fully renewables-powered civilised future for the human race with a reasonably open mind, they normally come to the conclusion that it simply isn't feasible. Merely generating the relatively small proportion of our energy that we consume today in the form of electricity is already an insuperably difficult task for renewables: generating huge amounts more on top to carry out the tasks we do today using fossil-fuelled heat isn't even vaguely plausible.

Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear. All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms - and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on.
All of that energy has to come from somewhere...

Social Media Goes To Court

Is it free speech, or something more?
The issue is whether Elonis should be prosecuted for what he says was simply blowing off steam — “therapeutic efforts to address traumatic events,” as his brief to the court says — because what matters is not his intent but whether any reasonable person targeted in the rants would regard them as menacing warnings.

Parties on both sides of the groundbreaking case are asking the court to consider the unique qualities of social media. In this rapidly evolving realm of communication, only the occasional emoticon may signal whether a writer is engaging in satire or black humor, exercising poetic license, or delivering the kind of grim warnings that have presaged school shootings and other acts of mass violence.

Elonis, who has served prison time for his Facebook posts, and some of his supporters say the court must look beyond incendiary content to discern the writer’s intent.

“Internet users may give vent to emotions on which they have no intention of acting, memorializing expressions of momentary anger or exasperation that once were communicated face-to-face among friends and dissipated harmlessly,” said a brief filed on Elonis’s behalf by the Student Press Law Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the writers organization PEN.
To vent or not to vent?

Power To Truth

Why you can't take powerful protesters seriously:
One of the most fascinating conceits of our ruling powerful elites — be they in entertainment, politics, governance, jurisprudence or news reporting — is the often repeated assertion of being some kind of underdog ‘speaking truth to power.’ This comes with the concomitant illusion that anyone opposing them is paid by powerful interests. Never mind that the ones making the accusation are usually in positions of power and receive recognition all out of proportion to their achievements.
You can't fight the man if you are the man...

The Others

If not Hillary, who?
After Hillary Clinton, we have … um … Jim Webb, who I bet you can’t even remember what office he held, and outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who couldn’t even get his own lieutenant governor elected as his handpicked successor in a blue state. If anything happens to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee will effectively be taking out LeBron James to send in Pee-wee Herman.

But how big a problem is this? You don’t need a dozen good people on the bench, just one or two who could make a plausible run for the presidency. And those people tend not to emerge when there’s not much of a realistic shot at winning — for example, when you’ve got a high-profile candidate with great name recognition, primary experience and most of your party’s donor base sitting in their back pocket. Once Hillary wins or loses, other people will presumably start grooming themselves for a serious run, rather than make an idealistic attempt to pull the party leftward in the primaries or a long audition for the VP slot.

I’ve seen this argument made by smart people who know more about politics than I do, and part of me is convinced. But the other part of me wonders where those candidates are going to come from if Democrats remain confined to the deep-blue parts of the map. Those places are more populous, but less numerous, than the red states — which means fewer governors and congressmen to choose from. Especially because a few blue states have shown a penchant for electing Republican moderates to rein in their liberal legislatures.
Inevitability can ultimately be a drag...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

North Korean Staycation

What does it say when even North Korea doesn't want you?
“I was trying to stay in the country,” said Miller. “They wanted me to leave. The very first night they said, ‘We want you to leave on the next flight.’ But I refused. I just did not leave.”

In April, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA announced that an American citizen had been detained at Pyongyang airport after apparently attempting to claim asylum. In a dictatorship without any independent media, which is known for its furious anti-US vitriol, verifiable facts were difficult to come by. But according to Miller’s account, North Korea’s version of events had been largely accurate.

On his flight from China to Pyongyang, Miller had intentionally damaged his tourist visa. Fifteen days later, after a series of run-ins with Pyongyang authorities, he was removed from his tourist hotel and detained.

The general consensus among North Korea analysts was that Pyongyang would welcome the chance to use Miller as a pawn in its diplomatic wrangling with the US, as it continues to defy international sanctions against its nuclear programme, and widespread criticism of the regime’s human rights abuses. But Miller says it was only after much persuasion on his part that authorities finally took him in.

Finally, at a show trial in September, he was sentenced to six years of hard labour for entering the country illegally and committing “hostile acts” against the state – a charge he now describes as both true and false.
Well, he almost got what he wanted...

Geek Revolt

Way to tick off your base, guys:
The International Game Developers' Association branded some 10,425 Twitter accounts, including those of journalists, as harassment "offenders" in a humiliatingly ill-conceived attempt to provide a "blocking tool" to its members.
The blocking tool, which has been widely mocked online for its lack of sophistication and "blanket ban" approach, was assembled by Randi Harper, a persistent online agitator. The tool prevents users from seeing not only the tweets of users Harper has decided are implicated in harassment, but also many accounts who simply follow those users, by blocking a list of thousands of users with the use of an automated "bot."
So indiscriminately has the block list been compiled that the IGDA's own staff appear on it. Roberto Rosario, chair of the IGDA in Puerto Rico, is named on the list. In an acutely embarrassing moment for the Association, Rosario, who is not a GamerGate supporter, publicly threatened to resign unless his name was removed or the bot was disavowed.
He later told Breitbart: "It's ridiculous, an insult, its anti-ethical, probably criminal and just plain false. I've been fighting for freedom, openness, anti-censorship and equality. A simple Google search of my name will reveal all the projects I've headed or collaborated on. The facts are there, clear as day."
And just who are these offenders?
The block list endorsed by the IGDA contains a number of eyebrow-raising inclusions. Alex Wilhelm, a reporter at TechCrunch, the UK Twitter account for publisher Penguin, Guardian journalists, actor Taye Diggs, feminist critics and your present correspondent are all present on the list.
But perhaps the most absurd Twitter account on the list is the official account of KFC. That's right: Kentucky Fried Chicken was, at least for a while, according to a prominent international video games industry body and thanks to the hysteria of so-called social justice warriors such as Randi Harper, one of the worst harassers of women on the internet.
This is what happens when "social justice" has a hissy fit...

Google Gulliver

Why don't Europeans like Google?
Actually breaking up Google would go a hell of a lot further. The idea had been floated earlier this year by a top German official, but who would have thought anyone would take it seriously.

And here's the thing: as far as I can tell, there isn't any real reason for trying to break up Google, other than the fact that it's very big and very not European.

There's no discussion about any actual harm... just the fact that some people don't like the fact that the company is so big (and not European).
Say what you will about Google, but in America these would be seen by many as a positive...

Afghan Extension

We're leaving...oh, wait. We're not leaving?
In an announcement in the White House Rose Garden in May, Mr. Obama said that the American military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year, and that the missions for the 9,800 troops remaining in the country would be limited to training Afghan forces and to hunting the “remnants of Al Qaeda.”

The decision to change that mission was the result of a lengthy and heated debate that laid bare the tension inside the Obama administration between two often-competing imperatives: the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon that American troops be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country.
But wasn't that the point of leaving?

Suits On The Ground

Never let civil unrest go to waste:
The attorneys are arriving in Ferguson as talks between protest groups and police have stalled over a refusal by officials to rule out the use of riot gear, tear gas and militarized equipment if demonstrations turn violent should a grand jury decide not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, protest leaders say.

Wilson, who is white, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in a Ferguson street on August 9. The death sparked weeks of sometimes violent protests, and hundreds of arrests. The grand jury decision on whether to indict Wilson is imminent and police fear another wave of violence if he is not charged. Tensions in Ferguson and the St. Louis area are running high.

The lawyers, some from as far afield as New York and California, have responded to calls from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and protest groups in Ferguson to monitor police behavior in the wake of the grand jury decision. They will also take an aggressive legal posture, the attorneys said, filing quick fire lawsuits to fight potentially shoddy jail conditions, onerous bail bonds and civil rights abuses.
How far can you travel on flat feet?

A Dog's Life

The world of dogfighting goes on:
Despite being banned in all 50 states and the momentum generated by the Vick case, the ancient blood sport is thriving in the underground, with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake on big matches, police detectives and prosecutors said.

State laws still require no minimum mandatory jail time, so while arrests and convictions can be disruptive to dogfighting rings for a short while, the practice continues to flourish.

"Unfortunately, in our courts today, animal welfare is not given the attention and seriousness that it deserves," said Cyrus Zomorodian, the Jacksonville-based animal cruelty prosecutor who tried Coleman's case. "We constantly fight for more court time, resources and attention."
Animals aren't always just in the arena...

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Green Gas Of Home

Going green causes global warming?
Scientists have found that corn, rice, wheat and soybean are the four leading crops that account for maximum CO2 release in the atmosphere of Northern Hemisphere. Crops act as sponge for CO2 and it could be said that the sponge effect has become bigger because of the advancements in agricultural techniques, leading to more production. There is a sharp rise in demand of food production because of growing population across the world, which means that the levels of CO2 will only increase in coming years.

Researchers have also showed that agricultural production is likely to account for 25% surge in the seasonal carbon cycle. And corn will play a leading role.

"This study shows the power of modeling and data mining in addressing potential sources contributing to seasonal changes in carbon dioxide. It points to the role of basic research in finding answers to complex problems", said Liz Blood, program director for the National Science Foundation's Macro Systems Biology Program, which funded the research.
Blame it on the vegans?

Laser Time

Who wants a death ray in their watch?
Because the laser is so powerful, the battery on the watch will only last between 5 and 10 minutes. But that’s 5 minutes of awesome laser arson.

Which has got to be better than being able to read your emails or check stock reports on a tiny screen. Sorry, Apple.

So far, Patrick's watch is a limited edition of one, which he says took around 40 hours to make.
So far, no calls from James Bond...

Lost And Found

Lois Lerner's missing emails have magically been recovered:
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.

Committees in the House and Senate are seeking the emails, which they believe could show Lerner was working in concert with Obama administration officials to target conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status before the 2012 presidential election.
Amazing what a little incentive will do...

Missed Target

No, she wasn't paranoid:
A Department of Justice document dump to government watchdog Judicial Watch, made public yesterday, shows former DOJ Spokeswoman and Holder Flack Tracy Schmaler talking to the White House about "out of control" investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was covering Operation Fast and Furious for CBS News at the time.

An email was sent by Schmaler to White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz on October 4, 2011 and shows she planned to call Attkisson's editor and longtime CBS anchor Bob Scheiffer to get a handle on her reporting.

Emails also show Schultz responding to Schmaler with, "Good. Her [Attkisson] piece was really bad for the AG.”
That's what happens when a journalist actually does her job...

Beard Ball

Fear the beard:
Quarterbacks play better with beards, and we have the data to prove it.
West Coast Shaving performed an original research project that looked at every roster photo in the NFL from 2014 to note the different hairstyles and facial hair combinations.
The first part of their analysis took a look at the most popular haircuts and broke it down into five distinct categories: Short Hair/Buzz Cut, Medium Hair, Dreadlocks, Long Hair and Bald.
The New England Patriots sit atop the AFC with an 8-2 record, and research shows they also lead the league in medium haircuts — by almost 5 percentage points!
Beard power?

Good Neighbors

Canadians pay respect:

Welcome To The Poorhouse

Where the jobs aren't:
The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis.

Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.
Welcome to America. Good luck finding work...

What Next?

So, how will Republicans respond to President Obama's rule? Do even they know?
The many disparate ideas leave Republicans without any clear course of action after the president moves forward. And neither will most of them be present in Washington since Congress has recessed.
Many lawmakers have gone home, others to fundraising events, like several near Boca Raton, FL, where the Republican Governors Association convened a meeting this week. This afternoon, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is participating in a panel discussion and reception at the Hoover Institute with former Bush Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice.
I'm sure they'll come up with something...and then what?

Fat Force

Are we too fat to fight?
“I am very concerned about the reduced number of men and women who can meet all of the qualifications required to serve in our armed forces,” said retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Steven Tomaszeski.
Now, retired admirals from Maryland are releasing a report, citing obesity as the number one reason young adults can’t serve in the military.
“Nearly one quarter, 25 percent of all Americans ages 17-24 are too overweight to serve. Obesity is not only affecting those who can qualify for military service, it is also creating challenges for our active duty military,” Tomaszeski said.
Maybe there is a place for Michelle Obama's lunch program after all...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

'Droid Rage

Rise of the androids:
Unable, for now, to use some of the advanced artificial intelligence (AI), face and voice recognition systems that some Japanese robots coming on the market now use, Asuna relies on a camera rigged behind her that is relayed to a remote human controller to give her life.

This so-called tele-presence enables Asuna to come alive, taking on the operator’s personality.

A fully independent version of the geminoid is expected in 10 years using all the above technologies to make her virtually indistinguishable from humans says Mr. Takeshi Mita, CEO of A-Lab in Tokyo, the company working with Prof. Ishiguro to make Asuna and her kind commercial.

'We already have 20 year's experience making androids in the lab. So in 10 years we will marry AI and life like geminoids in perfection,' he told MailOnline.

'We had been focusing on perfecting her skin, facial expressions, and so on, so for now Asuna is really just a head. Now we are working on her arms and torso to give very natural, fluid body language.'
They are evolving...

Property Values

As she should be:
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, who Obama seeks to elevate to U.S. attorney general, replacing Eric Holder, announced in January that her office collected more than $904 million in criminal and civil actions in fiscal year 2013. While the policy generates funds used for other law enforcement efforts and offsets the burden on taxpayers, liberals and conservatives alike have questioned asset forfeiture as “an abuse of due process.” Experts say Lynch will likely have to defend the practice she once touted.

“It’s definitely a subject likely to come up and she’ll be pressed on it,” said Tim Lynch, director of Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice. “I don’t know what she’s going to say, but I would expect her — as someone who’s going to assume leadership of the entire Justice Department — to come to the defense of these existing practices and I would be surprised if she struck a chord that’s different from that. The Department of Justice likes things exactly the way they are, so I assume she’s going to defend the status quo.”
They need to keep the gravy train going...

Classical Cruz

Ted Cruz quotes Cicero:
“When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end to that unbridled audacity of yours swaggering about as it does now?” Cruz asked.
Cruz continued reading the Cicero selection, citing Obama for dictating “by his pen and his phone.”
“He won't even come into the Senate,” Cruz continued. “He will not take part in the public deliberations. He ignores every individual among us.”
Hopefully he won't suffer Cicero's fate...

Jay Walking

Why did Jay Leno cave?
"We are clearly disappointed by Jay Leno's decision not to perform at the 2015 SHOT Show State of the Industry Dinner. He unilaterally cancelled his promised appearance due to pressure from the anti-gun lobby, which included false statements about our industry and its commitment to genuine firearms safety, which we attempted to personally correct with him, but to no avail. We are not deterred by their publicity seeking nor are we unfamiliar with the bullying political tactics of the gun control groups that seem to have as little respect for the First Amendment as they continually demonstrate with regard to the Second Amendment," NSSF released in a statement late last night. "We are proud of the many programs that we run that meaningfully contribute to public safety including our long standing Project ChildSafe and Don't Lie for the Other Guy initiatives in addition to our members everyday work in compliance with comprehensive federal and state laws. We will not allow the lawful commerce in firearms nor our industry to be demonized and we will continue to speak out for the Second Amendment rights of the millions of law-abiding citizens who are our customers. Despite Mr. Leno's cancellation, we look forward to having our biggest and best State of the Industry Dinner to date with a performer that respects the contributions of our industry and the customers it supports."
A record number of people attended the 2014 SHOT Show and pumped $73 million into the local Las Vegas economy over the course of just a few days. In partnership with the PGA the annual NSSF charity golf event, Birdies for the Brave, raised $100,000 for military homefront groups.
Charity-and courage-begins at home...

Happiness Isn't

Are we unhappy people?
According to the site, "The HPI uses the Ecological Footprint promoted by the environmental charity WWF as a measure of resource consumption. It is a per capita measure of the amount of land required to sustain a country’s consumption patterns, measured in terms of global hectares (g ha), which represent a hectare of land with average productive biocapacity."
In fact, the HPI claims that economic activity is particularly untrustworthy. Nations that are richer than others apparently aren't happier, according to the index.
Oddly, the HPI doesn't seem to measure "human rights abuses," no matter how they might be measured. This must explain why China is rated at the 60th happiest country despite the fact that it is also one of the biggest human rights abusers in the world.
Another oddity of this measurement of "happy" nations is that Venezuela comes in at 9th place.
Yet, a recent New York Times article noted that Venezuela is more dangerous than Iraq.
"In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela," the Times wrote in 2010, "there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000."
Only the dead are happy?

Final Wrap

RIP Mike Nichols:
His 1966 film directing debut "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" unforgettably captured the vicious yet sparkling and sly dialogue of Edward Albee's play, as a couple (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) torment each other over deep-seated guilt and resentment.

Nichols, who won directing Emmys for his works "Angels in America" and "Wit," said he liked stories about the real lives of real people and that humor inevitably pervades even the bleakest of such tales.

"I have never understood people dividing things into dramas and comedies," Nichols said in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press. "There are more laughs in 'Hamlet' than many Broadway comedies."

He was a wealthy, educated man who often mocked those just like him, never more memorably than in "The Graduate," which shot Dustin Hoffman to fame in the 1967 story of an earnest young man rebelling against his elders' expectations. Nichols himself would say that he identified with Hoffman's awkward, perpetually flustered Benjamin Braddock.

At the time, Nichols was "just trying to make a nice little movie," he recalled in 2005 at a retrospective screening of "The Graduate." ''It wasn't until when I saw it all put together that I realized this was something remarkable."
Some film themes are eternal, and now, so is Mr. Nichols...

Fannie And Freddie Were Owned

I'm sure everything will be just fine:
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt said on Wednesday that he did not see the government relinquishing control of housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac anytime soon, even as the Democratic chairman of a Senate committee urged him to pursue that course.

Watt told the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee at a hearing that “conservatorship cannot, should not be a permanent state,” but added that “it is the role of Congress to define what a future state is.” Fannie and Freddie were placed under conservatorship, or government ownership, by the FHFA in 2008 after taxpayers were forced to bail out the companies with $188 billion in the wake of the mortgage meltdown.
On the other hand, maybe this is a fitting punishment...

The Afghan Con

The military got scammed:
The ransom payment was first disclosed by Rep. Duncan Hunter in a Nov. 5 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Mr. Hunter stated in the letter that Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) made the payment covertly as part of a release deal. But the money was stolen by the Afghan intermediary claiming to represent the Haqqani terrorist network.

“Given the significance of this matter, as well as the fact that Pentagon officials have denied that a payment was even considered — and you also said you were unaware of any such attempt — I ask you to immediately inquire with JSOC to determine the specific order of events,” said Mr. Hunter, California Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Hunter also asked Mr. Hagel whether ransom payments are being considered for other captives.
No one likes to admit they've been conned...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Canadian Option

The Canadian ambassador is concerned:
Ambassador Doer is probably a little too diplomatic to mention this, but Canada has other options for the crude than the US. China would like to buy the production from the Alberta tar sands too, and their refineries will be much less efficient and more polluting than anything we would use, plus the long transport over the ocean could create even more environmental issues. Bottom line: Canada’s going to sell this somewhere, and the Keystone pipeline offers the best environmental option for its transport and use.
If not us, then who?

Slow Lerners

Apparently the IRS is really bored:
In a federal FOIA lawsuit by Judicial Watch seeking records of Lerner emails and IRS efforts to retrieve the emails, the IRS used two of the comments to the Legal Insurrection Reader Poll post to justify the IRS no longer disclosing the identities of IRS personnel.

Think about that. The IRS is reading our comments. Don’t they have anything better to do, like hassle conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status? On second thought, keep reading our comments and leave conservative groups alone.
Let them eat criticism...

No Money No Problems?

Has Al Sharpton's debt finally caught up with him?
Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.
Being a "liberal icon" means not having to have any visible means of support...

Burst Pipeline Dreams

Keystone is dead, at least for now:
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., had resurrected the legislation ahead of a tough runoff election next month, hoping to show her Washington clout and put Congress on record in support of the pipeline -- even though the White House indicated President Obama would consider vetoing.

With pipeline backers falling short and the project still stuck in a State Department review process, Republicans already vowed to bring up the legislation in the next session when they have complete control of Congress.

"This will be an early item on the agenda in the next Congress," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote.
But they may have to do it without Mary Landrieu...

Persona Non Gruber

President Obama and Nancy Pelosi aren't the only ones who are trying to deny Jonathan Gruber's existence:
Videos from college conferences and Washington think tanks over the last few years show Gruber bragging about the law’s deliberate complexity and belittling American voters’ intelligence.

Now at least two colleges who hosted the professor have tried to scrub Gruber from the internet. The University of Pennsylvania removed Gruber’s October 2013 panel appearance — in which he laughed about “the stupidity of the American voter” — on November 10, but quickly reposted the video after withering criticism.

On Monday the University of Rhode Island took a page out of Penn’s book, removing a 2012 discussion where Gruber explains how the law was passed to “exploit” the American voters’ “lack of economic understanding.” URI offered no explanation on its webpage as to why the video was pulled.
Out of sight, but definitely not out of mind...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rocket Shirt Science

The final word on the non-scandal of a scientist's tacky shirt belongs to those who aren't offended:
London Mayor Boris Johnson came to Taylor’s defense after Internet sniping reduced the scientist to tears. (Reuters)

“He is a space scientist with a fine collection of tattoos, and if you are an extrovert space scientist, that is the kind of shirt that you are allowed to wear,” Johnson wrote.

The nimble-minded mayor went on to point out that the treatment of Taylor represented a double-standard when juxtaposed to that afforded Kim Kardashian; the shirt showed no exposed nipples or buttocks; and more nudity can be seen at the National Gallery than hanging in Taylor’s closet.

“What are we all – a bunch of Islamist maniacs who think any representation of the human form is an offence against God?” Johnson thundered. “This is the 21st century, for goodness’ sake.”
Who killed feminism? Feminists.

Perry's Peril

The criminal case against Rick Perry is allowed to proceed:
Senior District Judge Bert Richardson ruled, “This court concludes that Mr. McCrum’s authority was not voided by the procedural irregularities in how and when the oath of office … was administered,” according to an article in the Austin American Statesman Tuesday afternoon.
Perry's attorney still disagrees. "The Texas Constitution, Article 16, specifically requires that an anti-bribery statement be filed with the Secretary of State prior to taking the oath of office," said Tony Buzbee, Gov. Perry's attorney, in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. "Mr. McCrum admitted that he failed to sign and file the anti-bribery statement before taking the oath. We lawyers defend the Constitution."
It sounds like somebody ought to...

Frozen Toolbox

Obama gets his toolkit while America freezes:
The White House says its "resilience toolkit" is an extension of Obama's "Climate Action Plan" released last year which created the "State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience" to help battle pollution and "record heat waves."
According to Reuters, "After announcing two major global initiatives on climate change last week, the Obama administration pivoted on Monday to American towns and cities to help them adapt to the impacts of global warming."
Perhaps President Obama should get outside more...

Fracking For The Trees

Fracking comes to the woods:
The federal management plan reverses an outright ban on hydraulic fracturing that the U.S. Forest Service had proposed in 2011 for the 1.1 million-acre forest, which includes the headwaters of the James and Potomac rivers. Those rivers feed the Chesapeake Bay, which is the focus of a multibillion-dollar, multistate restoration directed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

A total ban would have been a first for America's national forests, which unlike national parks are commonly leased out for mining, timber and drilling. But some environmentalists were pleased that at least some balance was struck between energy development and conservation.

"We think the decision shows the Forest Service listened to the local community," said Sarah Francisco, leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center's national forests and parks program. "The vast majority of the forest is protected in this decision."

With both sides lobbying hard, Virginia's Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe told his climate change panel in September that federal officials had assured him fracking was off the table. "I won't allow it as long as I'm governor," he said.

But the final word rested with Ken Arney, a regional Forest Service manager. And by Tuesday afternoon, well after the decision was announced, the governor wasn't commenting.
Because it wasn't up to him and his climate change cronies, thankfully...

Barking Insanity

It's always someone else's fault:
Emerald White says in her lawsuit filed this week in Galveston County district court that she was “seriously injured” on Oct. 27 trying to stop the attack and retrieve her dogs. She says she suffered “multiple serious bite and scratch-type injuries” and accuses her neighbors of failing to securely confine and restrict their dog, Bailey. …

“The police took the action I wanted and declared those dogs dangerous and awareness was raised, so I decided to let it go,” Baker said. “Now they’re suing me for $1 million — I just can’t believe it.”
Some people (and their lawyers) are literally lower than dog droppings...

Mr. Turley Goes To Washington

Meet the man the Republicans have hired for their team:
Turley is no conservative. He was a favorite of the liberal media during George W. Bush’s presidency, as he could be consistently counted on to deliver stinging indictments of the president’s conduct. Turley’s decision to prosecute the case against Barack Obama, a president for whom he twice voted, carries with it no less moral authority than did John Adams’s decision to stand in defense of those British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre. Turley’s action demonstrates that noble principle can still triumph over tribal political concerns.
Well, maybe. It would be nice to think that some still exists in Washington...

The Quiet Years

In the past, Mary Landrieu was MIA:
From 2009 to 2010 she was silent at or skipped 65 of 87 hearings. From 2011 to 2012, she didn't say anything at or didn't attend 50 of 66 meetings. And from 2013 to 2014, her presence was undetectable at 22 of 47 sessions. Some of those hearings covered important issues for her coastal state, including the potential for oil spills, gas prices, the Department of Energy's budget, nominations of key energy regulators, the implementation of the stimulus bill, and the current status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Landrieu also often wasn't heard on climate change and appeared to skip entirely a hearing on sea level rise–a critical issue in coastal Louisiana. "Senator Landrieu isn't here today to speak to it or she would be, I'm sure, passionately pounding the desk here. I'll do so on her behalf," said Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, at the April 19, 2012, hearing. Landrieu aides said their boss was voting on legislation allocating money to housing initiatives in the Appropriations Committee when Murkowski made her remark.
Unfortunately, suddenly remembering she actually has a job title doesn't seem to have helped Ms. Landrieu that much...

The Pelosi Proxy

In Nancy Pelosi's world, not all women are created equal:
Pelosi and her allies have been saying since Nov. 13, when the issue first came up, that House Democratic Caucus rules prohibit proxy votes, and that allowing exceptions for the Illinois Democrat would create a slippery-slope scenario.

Members and aides are privately seething over what they see as Pelosi’s latest attempt to stack the deck against Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., who is running for ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee against Pelosi’s closest friend and fellow Californian, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo.


And many members are concerned about the optics of not allowing Duckworth a proxy vote when Democrats are supposed to be the party that fights for women. Democrats have tried to make electoral gains by touting the “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” economic agenda.
Except for those women whom Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to succeed...

The Customer Is Sometimes Wrong

Is the customer always right? Maybe not:

The Other Obama

Obama versus Obama, in his own words:

Don't Let Freedom Ring?

Land of the free? Not so much:
The freedom scores are based on polling data from 2013 indicating citizens’ satisfaction with their nation's handling of civil liberties, freedom of choice, tolerance of ethnic minorities, and tolerance of immigrants. Polling data were provided by Gallup World Poll Service. The index is notable for the way it measures how free people feel, unlike other freedom indices that measure freedom by comparing government policies.

“This is not a good report for Obama,” Legatum Institute spokeswoman Cristina Odone told the Washington Examiner.

In the 2010 report (which relied on data gathered in 2009), the U.S. was ranked ninth in personal freedom, but that ranking has since fallen to 21st, with several countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom passing the U.S.
How low can we go, literally?