Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Weekend Beach Report

We had bookend days at the beach this weekend. It's been warm, 85+, humid and mostly clear skies, with only light winds.

Good weather for butterflies. This Variegated Fritillary was spotted in the Kudzu vine. I also saw my first Black Swallowtail of the year there too, but it refused to cooperate with my attempts at photography.

We found lots of shark's teeth, but none very big and magnificent, so instead, I'm posting a picture of what I think must be the smallest Snaggletooth Shark's tooth I have ever found.
A good day for labs. We don't let Skye get that deep anymore, because her fur retains bay water for ever, and starts to stink
But she gets more pets than any other dog on the beach. She insists on it.
It's hard to see, because they're hard to see, but the infamous Sea Nettles are here early this year, and some combination of wind and tide has caused large numbers of them to wash in to some of the backwaters behind the groins.

More pets!

Reason #5581 That Trump Was Elected

Gen. "Mad Dog" Mattis: Mattis To Decide On Delay In Transgender Enlistment
The various branches of the United States military have once again asked for a delay in beginning to accept the enlistment of new recruits who “identify” as transgender. A previous request for a two year delay was shot down, but now the new Secretary of Defense, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis will be considering a six month pause. This has the usual list of suspects in the SJW community up in arms, but the various service branches are still pleading their case. (Associated Press)
Military chiefs will seek a six-month delay before letting transgender people enlist in their services, officials said Friday.
After meetings this week, the service leaders hammered out an agreement that rejected Army and Air Force requests for a two-year wait and reflected broader concerns that a longer delay would trigger criticism on Capitol Hill, officials familiar with the talks told The Associated Press.
The new request for a delay will go to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for a final decision, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the internal deliberations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
No word yet on how Mattis is likely to go on this one, but more time for a decision of this magnitude can only be a good thing. The military is already dealing with the fallout from the Obama administration about letting current personnel “come out” as transgender and continue serving and we have very few details as to how that’s been going. The ban on current service members was only lifted last summer and we’re only talking about a couple of thousand people currently in the military tops. It also was not openly supported by the military for a variety of reasons. You’ll recall that when Ash Carter made the announcement last June he was alone at the podium. Such major policy announcements are usually made in the company of at least the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs if not the heads of some of the military branches, but Carter stood by himself and Gen. Joseph Dunford did not attend. . .
I see no need for transgenders in the military. It's not like we're actually hurting for willing volunteers. But if they insist, bundle them all into a infantry battalion and throw them into the front lines of the next conflict. Maybe North Korea?

From last night's Greg Gutfeld Show:

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links.

Midnite Music - "Skyrim (Dragonborn)"

Tina Guo:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Who's Zoomin' Who?

Who Does The FBI Work For?
If you work for any extended amount of time in Washington, you are likely to meet people who work within the intelligence and law enforcement communities. You learn to recognize potential sources and those who will never be. The bad sources love to tell stories, so many stories, with at least a veneer of truth. The good sources will tell far fewer stories, but only when it’s important. But the most frequent stories you will hear, from good and bad, are stories of internal dysfunction and irresponsible uses of power. This is not confined to one administration or another, but is a recurring and expected fact of life within the agencies that ought to be focused on securing our liberties and protecting us from threats, foreign and domestic, not spying on an ex, using taxpayer funds for professional gain, or preventing the return of a romantic rival by adding them to a watch list. Once you’ve heard enough of these stories, a realization may dawn on you: these institutions are as dysfunctional as all the others, with their own internal politics, defects, aspiring people, and conflicted forces that often cross the lines of law and ethics in pursuit of their goals. Not losing faith in them at that juncture is a difficult thing indeed.
One of the things I realized growing up is that most people don't, not really.
That brings us to yesterday’s FBI briefing on the shooting targeting Republicans in Alexandria, a briefing that could not be more bizarre in its content and its conclusions. Mollie Hemingway has more:
“The FBI admits that Hodgkinson: vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums, had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress, was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria, had mapped out a trip to the DC area, took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security, lived out of his van at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up, legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,” modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock, rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components, asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans, ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting, and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.
“We know from other reporting that the list was of six Republican Freedom Caucus members, including Rep. Mo Brooks, who was present at the practice.
“So what does the FBI decide this information means? Well, the takeaway of the briefing was characterized well by the Associated Press headline about it: “FBI: Gunman who shot congressman had no target in mind.” The Associated Press reported the FBI: believes the gunman “had no concrete plan to inflict violence” against Republicans, “had not yet clarified who, if anyone, he planned to target, or why,” believes he may have just “happened upon” the baseball game the morning of June 14, and that the attack appeared “spontaneous,” are unclear on the “context” of Hodgkinson’s note with six names of members of Congress, does not believe that photographs of the baseball field or other sites “represented surveillance of intended targets,” and “painted a picture of a down-on-his-luck man with few future prospects.”
“In fact, USA Today went with “FBI offers portrait of troubled Alexandria shooter with ‘anger management problem’” for their headline, since that’s what the FBI emphasized in the briefing.”
There’s also this incredible tidbit, which somehow has received little to no attention: “Hodgkinson also visited the office of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose campaign he had worked on as a volunteer, and was in email contact with the two Democratic senators from his home state.” If this was a shooter who had worked for Ted Cruz and was in contact via email with both of the Senators from Texas, wouldn’t we know about it?
It's exactly the same as when they continue to the question of the last terrorist who mowed down innocent bystanders while shouting "Allahu Akbar."

Because I can't find a live performance with Aretha:

Reheated Obamacare Schadenfreude

The subject is heating up again as the Republicans get closer to trying to repeal and replace the original bad deal with one of their own. First some continuing failure, as Anthem pulls out of Obamacare markets in Wisconsin and Indiana for 2018. What if they gave a program and nobody came? National Review reminds us No, Obamacare Has Not Saved American Lives, as Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren all insist that trimming one hair on Obamacare's head will kill thousands.

Reviews of the Republicans plans are mixed, Avik Roy, a persistent critic of Obamacare, is optimistic:

while the usually sensible Megan McArdle, brought to you as always via Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 06.23.17" says Republicans' Health-Care Bills Boil Down to ... More Obamacare.  It just:
  • Reduces the number of people eligible for subsidies. . .
  • Reduces the values of the premium subsidies. . .
  • Lowers the cap on total subsidy expenditure. . .
  • Eliminates the individual and employer mandates. . .
  • Restricts coverage for abortion. . .
  • Ends the cost-sharing reductions. . .
  • Give states a great deal more flexibility in the waiver program. . .
  • Gets rid of a lot of taxes. . .
  • Market stabilization funds. . .
  • Winds down the Medicaid expansion funding . . .
  • Converts Medicaid to a per-capita allotment rather than an open-ended entitlement.
and Matthew Walther called The Republican health-care plan Just Bad plagiarism. Ace:
Senate's Obamacare Bill Is Primarily Designed to "Fix," Expand Obamacare. But still it sounds like a good start, but just a start.

Scott Adams predicts The New Healthcare Bill Will Be a Loser
During the campaign, candidate Trump made some references to taking care of everyone. It sounded like universal coverage, but no one thought he meant it.

He did mean it.

He meant it because he understands the contrast problem. Any Obamacare replacement needs to cover more people than Obamacare, or else it is dead on arrival. Any skilled persuader would see that.
The current whip count appears to have 5 Republican defectors, enough to kill the bill, although that is subject to change, while John Kasich carries out a Campaign To Save ObamaCare. He really likes expanded Medicaid. Ben Shapiro disses Auntie Botox:

More from Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 06.23.17:
EBL: McConnellCare Is Coming?Da Tech Guy: Health Law Uncertainties Starting To Hurt MillionsJustOneMinute: Health Care That’s Always A ScareShark Tank: Crist, Cruz, Oppose New Senate Healthcare Bill

Reason #5580 That Trump Was Elected

At least partially fulfilling another campaign promise Trump Signs VA Reform Bill Into Law
President Trump signed a Veterans Affairs bill into law Friday which is designed to make it easier for the agency to fire problem employees. From CNN:
“For many years, the government failed to keep its promises to our veterans. We all remember the nightmare that veterans suffered during the VA scandals that were exposed a few years ago,” Trump said during remarks in the East Room of the White House.
“Veterans were put on secret wait lists, given the wrong medication, given the bad treatments, and ignored in moments of crisis for them,” he said. “Many veterans died waiting for a simple doctor’s appointment. What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls. Outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable.”
“Today,” Trump said, “we are finally changing those laws.”
. . .The CNN report on problems at the VA is being released in the middle of the extremely contentious debate over repealing (or altering) of Obamacare. The VA is a completely socialized health care system, a step beyond single-payer, and it is an ongoing disaster. That ought to be part of the discussion about where our system is going, but for some reason, Democrats are never asked or expected to defend the VA even as they agitate for moving the entire nation in the direction of greater government control over health care.
The bill makes it easier to fire non-performing employees, or employees accused of malfeasance and strengthens protections for whistleblowers. Until now, it has been opposed by all left thinking democrats, under orders from their masters in the public sector employee unions.

Rule 5 Saturday - A Big Plus for Lauren Mellor

 This week's Rule 5 lovely is Lauren Mellor:

Lauren Mellor (born 29 December 1985) is a South African fashion model best known for appearance in South African and American Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition
 Mellor first signed with Star Model Management in Johannesberg, Storm Model Management in London, England, Outlaws Models in Cape Town, South Africa, and Modelwerk in Hamburg, Germany. Her first known work was the cover of Top Billing Magazine in April 2005. In 2007, Mellor landed a John Lewis campaign which caught the attention of several media outlets when the brand proclaimed they would only use healthy sized models. That same year, she graced the cover of FHM in South Africa and Essentials Magazine. Despite the initial success, Mellor focused on her studies and graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in psychology.
Looks healthy to me!
Beverly D'Angelo hosts GOODSTUFFs BLOGGING MAGAZINE (298th Issue) this week, along with plenty of far out planetary science and heaps of nifty vintage stuff! Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links.