Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ya'll stay warm. . .

Plan a nice Thanksgiving supper . . .

Cook it up nicely. . .

And have a good after dinner drink.

Happy Thanksgiving! This post pinned to the top for today. Any new posts below.

Ebola Vaccine Passes First Human Trials

Something to be thankful for:

Ebola vaccine 'promising' say scientists after human trial
The first human trial of an experimental vaccine against Ebola suggests that it is safe and may help the immune system to combat the virus.
Twenty volunteers were immunised in the United States. Scientists at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) described the results as "promising".

The research is published in the New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM).

None of those immunised suffered major side-effects and all produced antibodies.

Dr Anthony Fauci of the NIH told the BBC: "On safety and on the ability to produce an appropriate immune response we can call this trial an unqualified success, even though it was an early Phase One trial."
This is really good news; with almost nothing to lose, they should be taking this vaccine to Africa and using it on people really in harms way as soon as possible to find out if it really confers a practical immunity.
The vaccine uses a chimpanzee cold virus which has been genetically engineered to carry a non-infectious Ebola protein on its surface.
Oh noes; a GMO vaccine, not safe for liberals!

Local Law Enforcement Falls for Urban Legend

Beware of Non-Existent Threat, Warns Consumer Protection Czar
Let's hear it for Karen Straughn, Maryland Assistant Attorney General—Consumer Protection. She is so dedicated to protecting consumers that she has gone beyond reality and is now warning her constituents about mythical dangers.

According to ABC's, the consumer protection advocate is telling people that if they suddenly notice a $100 bill on their windshield, they should not get out of their cars:
Most people would, possibly thinking it's a holiday gift from a stranger, but, really, authorities say, it could just be how you get caught in a scam. Authorities in Maryland are warning people about the potential for this kind of scam, particularly around the holidays.
They're warning people that when the driver exits the car with the door open to grab the bill, a thief has the opportunity to steal the vehicle.
Um... before even discussing the fact that this is an urban myth, can we think about it logically for just a sec? How could you be in your car and then notice a $100 bill on your windshield? Did you get in with your eyes closed? And if someone was standing close by, ready to pounce, why would he bother with a $100 bill? You're there, he's there. Pounce.

And how many pouncers have a cool, crisp $100 bill to use (and perhaps lose!) on this venture, anyway? Wouldn't a $10 bill work just as well? Or even a coupon for a free Chipotle?

But, of course, all that is beside the point. Straughn, a public protectress, says she has heard one "unknown resident" mention "one incident" of this happening—the old friend-of-a-friend grapevine—but "has not seen a police report about it." Of course not. No one has. Because it never happened. . .
Just like razor blades in the apples and poison in the home made brownies that people gave away for Halloween before the oversexed twenty year olds took over the holiday and made it into slut-fest. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But then consumer protection people have a long record of protecting people from trivial and non-existent threats.

Nice Rack!

And this one has been taking up space in the digital fridge for a while.

An Unfortunate Bluefish Encounter

Sorry, you'll have to tilt your head. . .

My own first encounter with a bluefish was somewhat similar. After moving to Florida from the West Coas, where I had encountered very few toothy fish outside of aquariums, I soon caught a bluefish from the fishing pier at Melbourne Inlet. Not knowing them, while unhooking it, I mistakenly allowed my index finger tip to get caught between its jaws. It clamped on, and left a line of holes across the fingernail, in addition to tearing the other side, and leaving me dripping blood. The other fishermen thought that was hysterical too, just like these guys.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Emails Reveal Coordination Between IRS and White House

2,500 new documents in IRS / W.H. harassment cases
In a shocking revelation, the Treasury Inspector General has identified some 2,500 documents that “potentially” show taxpayer information held by the Internal Revenue Service being shared with President Obama’s White House.

The discovery was revealed to the group Cause of Action, which has sued for access to any of the documents. It charges that the IRS and White House have harassed taxpayers.

In an email from the Justice Department’s tax office, an official revealed the high number of documents, suggesting that the White House was hip deep in probes of taxpayers, likely including conservatives and Tea Party groups associated with the IRS scandal.
Incidentally, it is illegal for the IRS to reveal private tax payer information to any other agency, including the White House. The issue first came to light when Austin Goolesby, head of the Presidents Council of Economic Advisers casually revealed some of the Koch brothers confidential tax information.

Of the 2,500 emails, I expect most will be rather trivial; meetings being arranged, notes being compared. But a few might be pretty interesting; people at the White House requesting dirt on political opponents, orders to audit some Faux News figures, and the like.  This may explain why they need a few more weeks to clean the remaining 500 emails:
Below is the full email from Treasury:

My client wants to know if you would consent to a motion pushing back (in part) TIGTA’s response date by two weeks to December 15, 2014. The agency has located 2,500 potentially responsive documents and anticipates being able to finish processing 2,000 of these pages by the December 1 date. It needs the additional two weeks to deal with the last 500 pages to determine if they are responsive and make any necessary withholdings. We would therefore like to ask the court to permit the agency to issue a response (including production) on December 1 as to any documents it has completed processing by that date, and do the same as to the remaining documents by December 15. I note that the court’s remand was for a “determin[ation],” which the D.C. Circuit has recently explained can precede actual production by “days or a few weeks,” but we would prefer to simply agree on a date for turning over any of the remaining 500 documents that may be responsive.
Meanwhile, IRS High Commissar Koskinen has awarded the whole IRS (more or less), a 1% salary bonus for keeping the dirt hidden good perfomance.
Commissioner John Koskinen informed IRS employees in an email that they'll get a bonus next March of 1 percent of their base salary. The performance awards go to most employees.

"I believe that rewarding our high-performing employees is a vital investment for our nation's tax system," Koskinen said in the Monday email that was obtained by The Associated Press.
I thought the government already spent more than they took in. Where did he get the extra money?

Obamacare Schadenfreude for a Rainy Day

This is surprising. Schumer is a safe senator from deep blue New York and doesn't have -- unless he's insane -- any delusions about one day being president.

He's not actually denouncing Obamacare but this is kind of close to that.
"After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem - health care reform."
The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense."
The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said.
The health care law should have come later, Schumer argued, after Democrats had passed legislation to help the middle class weather the recession. Had Democrats pushed economic legislation, he said, "the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them" and, in turn, they would have been more receptive to the health care law. . .
The Democrat Party can't "help" the middle class, because the middle class is where it gets all that money to redistribute from.
I see it as Schumer admitting that democratic attempts to fix the recession, the stimulus, the bailouts, and "cash for clunkers" were ineffective and actually counter productive.

Second Take: Schumer's Merely Attempting a Trial Balloon Tactic of Distancing Democrats From Obamacare, While Continuing to Support and Defend It
I thought the Schumer statement -- in which he criticized Obama for pushing Obamacare in 2010, instead of addressing the needs of the And The Middle Class -- was important.

But now I think it's just so much positioning.

With Elizabeth Warren now endorsing his statement (!!!), it seems obvious to me that this does not represent a true schism in the Democrat Party, but rather a way to snooker the voters again, to Gruber them anew.

The public has turned against government "solutions," starting with its longheld opposition to Obamacare. And Obama is more personally unpopular than ever.

As John Ekdahl is always saying, at some point the 2016 elections will require Democrats to separate themselves from Obama, at least rhetorically, if not in reality.

Thus Charles Schumer's attempt at what he thinks is a cagey fillip -- he will not actually come out against Obamacare, but attempt to channel the frustration of the voters ("They spent all their time trying to pass this bill which only helps 5% of the population, instead of us, the bruised and battered And The Middle Class") without actually giving an inch on Obamacare.
It's rarely wrong to accuse the democrats of trying to mislead the public from their true intentions.

New deception questions: Obamacare adviser warned of premium increases as Obama vowed savings
While President Obama campaigned on a promise that his universal health care plan would lower premiums, his controversial adviser and plan architect was privately warning the state of Wisconsin that Obamacare was poised to massively increase insurance costs for average residents, internal documents show.

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist currently under fire for suggesting the Obama administration tried to deceive the public about the Affordable Care Act, was hired by former Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010 to conduct an analysis on how the federal health-care reform would impact the state.

Mr. Gruber’s study predicted about 90 percent of individuals without employer-sponsored or public insurance would see their premiums spike by an average of 41 percent. Once tax subsidies were factored in, about 60 percent of those in the individual market were projected to see their premiums go up 31 percent, according to his analysis.

In addition, 53 percent of those insured by companies with fewer than 50 employees, would see their premiums rise by an average of 15 percent even after subsidies, Mr. Gruber forecasted. The report warned such increases could impact small companies’ decision whether to provide health insurance to their workers.
That would be Dr. Gruber to plebes like you.

It's possible that both Dr. Gruber and Preznit Obama believed what they were saying. Possible, but unlikely.  The Grube's models seem to hit closer to the truth.

Obamacare offers firms $3,000 incentive to hire illegals over native-born workers
Under the president’s new amnesty, businesses will have a $3,000-per-employee incentive to hire illegal immigrants over native-born workers because of a quirk of Obamacare.

President Obama’s temporary amnesty, which lasts three years, declares up to 5 million illegal immigrants to be lawfully in the country and eligible for work permits, but it still deems them ineligible for public benefits such as buying insurance on Obamacare’s health exchanges.

Under the Affordable Care Act, that means businesses who hire them won’t have to pay a penalty for not providing them health coverage — making them $3,000 more attractive than a similar native-born worker, whom the business by law would have to cover.
Unintended consequences are a bitch. But were they unexpected?

America, You’ve Been Grubered!
Grubergate is just one of the score of scandals, frauds, and failures that have destroyed any trust in this collection of creeps by anyone except the most leftist and the most stupid, two sets which, if graphed in a Venn diagram, would be represented by a single circle.

IRS oppression. Executive amnesty. VA death lists. The Benghazi filmmaker frenzy. You’d think that statistically this Administration would have to act honestly and/or competently sometime. Instead, Obama’s managed to create the political equivalent of a broken clock that’s never right.

The liberals are fuming, infuriated that Jonathan Gruber let the cat out of the bag. Then let out another. And another. In fact, he dumped out a whole bag of cats as new media detectives released fresh clips daily depicting his smarmy confessions that he thinks the people who fell for Obamacare are drooling idiots. No, don’t look at us conservatives – we saw through this crypto-fascist scheme from Day One. Your boy Gruber is just telling it like it is – when liberals aren’t liars, they’re morons.
That's just unkind. There are lots of intelligent liberals.But they consistently mistake good intentions for good policy.

I'm Only Happy When it Rains!

What a wild weather week we've had.  Woke up to 16 F Saturday morning, with everything outside frozen crispy.  By Monday it had warmed to an astonishing (for November) 75, although they had forecast it might reach 80.Yesterday from the Bay, I captured the vivid picture of a wall shelf  cloud going by, as a cool (I hesitate to say cold) front rolled through.

Today finds us on the warm wet side side of our first real winter storm, named "Cato" by the Weather Channel. It's been raining and blowing hard all morning, but given air temps of 40, there is no significant risk of snow sticking anytime soon. Thank goodness!

A True Philanthropist

Frenchman develops pills to make flatulence smell of roses
A Frenchman has developed a range of pills aimed at making people’s flatulence smell sweeter - of chocolate or of roses - which he says will make the perfect Christmas present.

The 65-year-old artist and inventor says his pills are aimed at easing indigestion and are made of 100 percent natural ingredients such as fennel, seaweed and blueberries.
. . .
For this year’s festive season he has added a new product to the range which he has titled “The Father Christmas fart pill that gives your farts the scent of chocolate”.

They retail at €9.99 euros (£8) for a jar of 60 and bring benefits such as “the reduction of gas and bloating.”
. . .
Mr Poincheval said he came up with the idea for the pills one evening when he was enjoying a hearty meal with some friends. “Our farts were so smelly we were nearly suffocated. Something had to be done,” he said.
Just need a few more fragrances and they could start a "Fart of the Month Club."

Another Moment of Desperation

It ain't much, but it should pry your eyes open.

I worked through the Disco era without paying any attention.