Wednesday, December 31, 2014

. . . And Watch the Fireworks

The extended version.

It's New Years Eve, Grab a Drink. . .

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

Well, This Is the 21st Century

First aid drones.

A Last Minute Score Against Ben Trovato

My last post held forth on the year in the narrative through the eyes of "Ben Trovato", the Italian-American who makes up all the delightful myths that the media has sought to peddle all year.  Since last night however, another media myth is coming unraveled, Lena Dunham's claim to have been "sort of" raped by a leading Republican student while attending Oberlin College. It was starting to get pretty ragged when Lena and her publisher were forced to recant part of the story which seemed to point to an actual Republican activist "Barry" (a Republican named Barry did co-occur with Lena at Oberlin) and offered to cover any legal expenses incurred to that point.  Now, the story takes another twist as Gawker investigates and finds evidence in previous drafts of her memoirs that suggest another person, definitely not a Republican and not a rapist. From Stacy McCain:  Lena Dunham, Liar
The headline at the Daily Caller:
Gawker Thinks They Found Lena Dunham’s Alleged Rapist
And He’s A Democrat
The interesting thing about the Gawker story by J.K. Trotter is that Trotter seems to have the idea that he is vindicating Dunham and discrediting Dunham’s conservative critics. Her published account — which identified a Republican named “Barry” as having raped her — was exposed as fraudulent by John Nolte of, and Dunham was forced to apologize. Yet, Trotter’s story at Gawker insists that Dunham actually was raped while at Oberlin College:
The 2012 proposal for Not That Kind of Girl recounted the same night of unwanted unprotected sex — and supplied enough specific biographical detail to identify the man being described.
His name is Philip Samuel Ungar, a 2006 graduate of Oberlin. Now 30, he’s the son of former All Things Considered host and retired Goucher College president Sanford J. Ungar. Dunham has never explicitly named him, but his biography closely aligns with her characterization of her alleged rapist—“His father was actually the former host of NPR’s All Things Considered” — in an early draft of the chapter where she describes being assaulted.
Whether or not Philip Ungar is a rapist, he is evidently a liberal Democrat, not a conservative Republican, so if Gawker’s story is correct, this has only further damaged Dunham’s credibility, exposing her as having engaged in a deliberate partisan smear.
As to the charge of rape, it seems hardly more than drunken consensual freshman fumbling:
I basically didn’t meet a Republican until I was nineteen, when I shared an ill-fated evening of love-making with our campus’ resident conservative, who wore snakeskin boots and hosted a radio show called The Spin Chamber. His father was actually the former host of NPR’s All Things Considered, but he was adopted so didn’t inherit any of those skills. Mid-intercourse on the moldy dorm rug I looked up into my roommate Sarah’s potted plant and noticed something dangling. I tried to make out its nebulous shape and then I realized—it was the condom. All Things Considered had purposely flung the prophylactic into our tiny palm tree, thinking I was too dumb or too drunk or too eager to please to call him on it. [...] The next day, on the radiator in the art building, I told the story to my best friend Audrey who winced. Firstly because he was a Republican and secondly because, she whispered “you were raped.”
If you need a girlfriend to tell you that you were raped in an encounter that you were conscious enough to recount for her, you weren't.

And finally, Lena awarded #3 in  T LO’S WORST RED CARPET LOOKS OF 2014: TOP FIVE by a  fabulous and opinionated gay couple.

It took several hours, as horrified bystanders watched silently, but Lena was eventually entirely consumed by the creature. No one present ever forgot her frantic screams or the sounds the creature made while digesting her.
I defer to their judgment.

Narrator of the Year: Ben Trovato

Any time there was a cause in search of a narrative, Ben Trovato was there.
I first heard of Ben Trovato while reading a curious little volume of unusual word origins. A number of these supposed etymologies, most of the really colorful ones, were attributed to “Ben Trovato.” The name is taken from an old Italian saying: se non è vero, è ben trovato. Roughly translated: if it’s not true, it’s a good story. These were the kind of word origins that you really wanted to be true, but for which there was no real evidence. In contemporary parlance, they are “too good to check.”

I think you can begin to see why 2014 has been the year of Ben Trovato. It has been a year full of things that were non vero, but which had really good narratives. Or at least really convenient narratives.
Some of Ben's best work for 2014 (The entire list is much longer)
It may not actually be true that Michael Brown had his hands up and was saying “don’t shoot” when a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer shot him—the bulk of the eyewitness testimony and physical evidence indicates otherwise—but “hands up, don’t shoot” is still a great slogan because it’s such a good “metaphor” and captures a “larger truth.” Ben Trovato at work.
Just following up on  his work on Trayvon Martin in 2012 and 2013. His work on Eric Garner deserves a mention too. There was no "illegal choke hold."
. . . he spent some time hanging out with the son Barack Obama might have had, before swinging over to the First Lady’s office, where he prompted Michelle Obama to describe how an incident at a Target store shows that she still needs to fear being mistaken for the help because she’s black. Proof of America’s persistent racism. Sure, she told the same story a few years ago with a totally opposite meaning. But you’re missing the point. The point is that the new version of the story is well constructed to convey an important narrative. It has Ben Trovato’s fingerprints all over it.
Ben Trovato is already a legend in the field of climate science, and his latest work was the production of “pHraud,” in which climatologists were caught omitting 80 years of data in order to support a bogus claim that global warming is causing deadly acidification of the oceans. This was another Ben Trovato original. But his contributions to climate science are so vast that everyone takes them for granted now and they don’t get much attention any more.
Not too mention the now thoroughly discredited case of the UVA fraternity rape party, that "Jackie" seems to have cobbled together from bad romance novels, and Sabrina Eberly appears to have sought out the most outrageous story she could find  to indict men, fraternities, and the south. This one really ought to be on the list.

Midnite Music - Crank It Up!

Nice, uh, guitars. Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wombat's Tuesday News

A selection of news from Wombat-socho's "Live at Five: 12.30.14."

Indonesia Expands Search For Missing AirAsia Jet - Already out of date, as the first reports of floating wreckage and bodies are starting to appear. I don't think it will be too long before they find the primary crash scene and the black boxes.

Is Ebola Here To Stay?Ebola case confirmed in GlasgowWhy veterans of past Ebola crises underestimated this one - Yep, Ebola is here to stay. It has a host organism or two in Africa, and it will continue to re-emerge periodically from that reservoir.  Until a vaccine is developed and given to the everyone vulnerable in Africa, it's simply a matter of when and how badly it comes back. Why can't we develop vaccines the way we used to?

Sofia Vergara’s Engaged - Another Rule 5 winner busts another fantasy.

Some Boos Greet Di Blasio At NYPD Graduation, Bratton: Cops’ gesture of disrespect for mayor “inappropriate” - He won election by beating on the cops. Did he think they'd forget?

Obamacare Fines Rising In 2015 - And the sun rises in the east too.

Laverne Cox - some assembly required
Taylor Swift, Laverne Cox, Beyonce Top List of Most Charitable Celebs In 2014 - Who to choose?  Let's go with Laverne, because have never heard of her him yet, because we don't watch "Orange is the New Black", and because he/she got it for being an SJW and not for any real charity.

Rep. Michael Grimm To Resign After Pleading Guilty To Felony Tax Evasion - How soon can we expect Charlie Rangel to resign, and why doesn't the New York Times spend equal time on his tax evasions? Also read this at Hot Air: A Higher Standard for the GOP.

Incoming House Whip May Not Have Known He Was Addressing White Supremacists - Another double standard the GOP faces. If a democrat has given speeches to a crowd of socialists or communists (as they surely have), it would be lauded as a evidence of their fair-mindedness or something.

The drama reportedly began when Xtina, who was celebrating her 34th birthday at the theme park, asked for a group photo with the famous character right before he was going on a break, the gossip site noted.

When the mother of two was told they needed to wait, she allegedly got angry and called Mickey an "a--hole" and asked, "Do you know who I am?"
It not like she's an Obama or anything.

Have A Question For The IRS? That’ll Be $42 And Twenty Minutes On Hold - And no guarantee the answer is right and will keep you from being accused of tax evasion. If they were a private business, they would be vulnerable to charges of fraud.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga To Be The Face Of Shiseido - Remind me again why Madonna needs a successor?
Hacker Claims You Can Steal Fingerprints With A Camera - Guess I better delete those fossil pictures.

Goodbye, IE? Microsoft Rumored To Be Working On New Browser For Windows 10 - I haven't used IE as my primary browser for years, although I still try it occasionally when Chrome or Firefox appear to be screwing up.

Top 20 Most Pirated Movies Of 2014: “Wolf Of Wall Street” #1 - We used our Christmas gift of Netflix to watch "Wolf" the other day. Georgia was appalled at the language and sex. I'm sure glad I didn't pick it, or I'd have had an earful. Amusing, but not worth stealing.

Stan Lee Celebrates 92nd Birthday Surrounded By Family - Thousands of boys, and not-so grown up men thank him for all his comics.

Islamic State Magazine Praises Sydney Gunman For “Daring Raid” - How long until the civilized world realizes a campaign of extermination is the only viable solution?

Twitchy: Where’s Harry? Prog Billionaires’ Donations Dwarf Koch Brothers
American Power: Hillary Clinton Faces Uphill Fight For White, Rural Vote
American Thinker: Non-Notable Deaths For 2014
JustOneMinute: Addition By Division
Weasel Zippers: Lib Crank Joan Walsh – The Police Are “Predators”, Most Violent Protesters Are White
Megan McArdle: Everything We Don’t Know About Minimum Wage Hikes
Mark Steyn: Fairy Tales Of Diversity

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

Nothing Succeeds Like Gridlock

Federal spending drops to 20 percent of GDP
The federal budget is shrinking as a percentage of gross domestic product, falling just below 20 percent in the third quarter of 2014. That's down four points from its peak of 24 percent in 2011, according to market analysis firm Strategas' survey of recent Treasury Department data.
. . .
The drop puts current federal spending close to the norm for the last half-century. While the budget has grown in absolute numbers — the omnibus spending bill passed earlier this month totaled more than $1 trillion — federal spending has averaged just over 19 percent of GDP since 1963.

The decline is due to a combination of factors, the main one being the restraints that were put on federal spending in 2011 as a result of the debt ceiling standoff in Congress.

"While the debt-ceiling [fight] got a lot of negative headlines, it actually kept discretionary spending down. Those caps are still in place. They put in additional cuts with the budget sequestration [in 2013]," Clifton said. "There are other drivers too, such as low interest rates."
Twenty percent of GDP still seems like a lot, when you consider that roughly half of the population is consuming it rather than producing it, forcing the remainder to pony up the rest, or have China float us a loan.

Also note this column by David Harsanyi: Why Aren’t We Thanking ‘Gridlock’ For Saving The Economy?
. . .Axelrod isn’t alone is claiming political credit for economic success, and the Obama administration certainly isn’t the first to try and take the glory. But if activist policies really had as big an impact on our economic fortunes as DC operatives claim, I only have one question: Which policy did Barack Obama enact that initiated this astonishing turnaround? We should definitely replicate it.

Because those who’ve been paying attention these past few years may have noticed that the predominant agenda of Washington was doing nothing. It was only when the tinkering and superfluous stimulus spending wound down that fortunes began to turn around. So it’s perplexing how the same pundits who cautioned us about gridlock’s traumatizing effects now ignore its existence. . .
Quick! Don't do anything!

The quick answer to the question posed in the title is that we are predisposed to credit action taken for the vagaries of the economy. That's certainly a stretch under most circumstances, and diametrically opposite of the truth a good deal of the time.

The truth is that the economy is slowly but surely adapting to the current sort of stable conditions, as it will.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in If All You See… December 31, 2014. Thanks Teach!

Midnite Music - "Nothing But the Water"

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wombat's Monday Newsfeed

Some items from Wombat-socho's news digest "Live at Five: 12.29.14"  Beats grasses and sedges.

NATO Ends Afghanistan Mission With Quiet Flag-Lowering Ceremony - I'd be happier if I thought we were leaving because we finished the job, and not because the Preznit need another notch on pistol's handle.

Indonesian Official Says Missing Plane Likely At Bottom Of The Sea: Countries from all over Asia sending ships and aircraft to aid in search for Air Asia jet - Another likely tragedy featuring an Asian airliner. They were dodging thunderstorms. On the bright side, it will keep CNN busy for weeks.

Police Turn Their Backs On Mayor Di Blasio During Eulogy For Officer Ramos - Now they're starting to whine about civility.

Jennifer Lawrence Is The Top-Grossing Actor Of 2014 - We watched Winter's Bone, and the first two Hunger Games. It seemed to me that they were all the same character. Hoping to see American Hustle soon. Enjoy the ride, and don't get cocky, kid.

Ebola Czar: Expect More Domestic Cases - He must be a hell of a PR guy; the epidemic in West Africa is still going strong, but the CDC stopped reporting on the number of people being watched to the public. Yes, I'm sure a few cases will be imported.

Blind Judge To Join Michigan Supreme Court - In other news, you can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant.

Mel B Spends Christmas With Husband Amid Abuse Rumors - Do we we really care about old Spice Ladies, if they're not going to sing? Do we even care then?

Obama Claims America “Less Racially Divided” Since He Took Office - If he really believes this, he's delusional.

Farmers Fear Even Greater Labor Shortages Under New Obama Policy - How can you keep them working down on the farm after they get welfare and Obamacare for nothing?

Freak Storm Strands Thousands In French Alps - But no matter what the weather does, the usual suspects will blame global warming climate change stability.

Alicia Keys, It’s A Boy! - Another potential Social Security payer! Just in the nick of time!

Iranian General Killed By ISIS Sniper In Samarra - Maybe Kissinger was wrong, and both sides can lose.

Doug Powers: Anti-Police Protesters Call Police After Road Blockade Goes Bad - The irony of the day.

Don Surber: Why Not Regulate Cars Like Guns? - Read it. The arguments are compelling and more favorable than you might think.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

Well, Ain't That Special!

Natalie Heimel and her fiancé, Edward Mallue Jr., a pair of captains in the Army, were walking from their wedding rehearsal on Saturday at the 16th tee box at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course in Hawaii when they were informed they'd have to move their wedding, scheduled for the next day.

President Barack Obama wanted to play through.

It was the second time that day that the couple heard from the nation's commander in chief, whose affinity for golf has, at times, caused political headaches for the White House. Stationed in Hawaii and knowing the president spends his Christmas holiday on the islands, they invited him to their ceremony on a lark. They had received a letter earlier on Saturday saying Obama regretted he couldn't come and wishing them happiness on their wedding day.

“It was kind of ironic they got the letter from them and then, within hours, they were told they had to be moved due to him,”
Yes, I know, he called and apologized to them after he was told that Bloomberg was planning a story on it. 

We seem to have achieved a state in the nation where where, conveniently as a result of strengthened security, the president, and a few other muckety-mucks are treated as royalty, where they can figuratively ride their horses through the lives of the commoners in pursuit of their personal foxes.

Would it have been too hard for the president, with all the staff and planning at his disposal to have actually scheduled a date and time for his golf game a few weeks ahead of time?

It's rare that I agree with Tom Toles of the Washington Post, but when I saw this over breakfast, it really resonated:

Federal Grinch to Regulate Christmas Lights

Federal regulators say “Bah, Humbug!” to Christmas lights
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has created an example of regulate first and explain why later. In October they proposed new regulations to outlaw strings of bulbs, lighted lawn figures and similar items that would be declared as hazardous. The red tape deals with certifying wire sizes, fuses, and tensile strength of all “seasonal decorative lighting products.”

This includes Christmas tree lights, lighted wreaths, menorahs, outdoor strands, lawn figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, or Santa or Rudolph or Frosty the Snowman. Yes, Kwanzaa, too. CPSC is an equal opportunity Scrooge. The agency estimates that their proposed regulations will impact 100 million items per year with a market value of $500 million.

Why the burning need to regulate Christmas lights now?  Good question.
Of course, those items already are covered by safety regulations and also by industry standards and oversight. CPSC admits that 3.6-million unsafe lights were recalled under existing safeguards in place since 1974.

So what is CPSC’s justification for adding red tape to the red, green, blue, yellow, white and other colored displays? They report 250 deaths from fires or electrocutions by Christmas lights. That’s not 250 deaths per year; it’s 250 deaths since 1980. They had to add together 33 years of statistics to misportray danger.
But to look on the bright side, writing and arguing over and enforcing the new regulations will employee dozens, if not hundreds of bureaucrats for the foreseeable future.  And that's really what it's all about. The reason for the season, as they say,

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

The "True Love" Exception

Stacy McCain considers the problem of student/teacher dating: True Love Is Always an Exception
“She was 15 and he was 28 and her teacher at the Ferrer Modern School in New York, when they met, and married, in 1913.”

That sentence, from the 1981 obituary of Ariel Durant, is an important historic note to keep in mind when considering prohibitions against professors dating their students. Kelly Anders, an administrator at the University of California-Davis, writes at Prawfs Blog:
In several law schools where I have worked, there are professors or employees who are happily married to former students, whom they began to date while they were students. Perhaps schools turn a blind eye because law students are adults — in contrast to undergraduate students — and, in theory, they are thus freer to make decisions about whom to date, much like people who date co-workers. But what about unwanted attention or a perceived inability to say no?
The reference to “unwanted attention,” of course, brings us onto the legal battleground of sexual harassment. It has always struck me as absurd that anyone could be expected to know their attention was “unwanted” prior to actually expressing that attention. It is one thing if Employee A continues to make overtures toward Employee B after the latter has made clear that the interest is not reciprocated, but it is not rarely the case — and one hears horror stories about these cases — that the very first attempt at flirtation lights the fuse on a powder keg of resentment that leads to a sexual harassment complaint.
. . .
There are cases which seem genuinely exceptional, and the amazing love story between Will and Ariel Durant is one of those. Where these truly exceptional cases occur, there is no need to create a loophole in a policy that generally forbids faculty-student romance, because even if the faculty member were immediately fired under such circumstances, this would seem a small price to pay to have obtained true love. And I think that’s really the appropriate standard: If you really love somebody in that happily-ever-after way, you’d quit your job to be with them if the rules of your job stood in the way.
At every place I've gone to school, or worked in academe, at least once I reached high school, there were incidents of teachers dating and or marrying their students, or in the case of laboratories, their interns and technicians.  Humans, are, well, human, and proximity breeds familiarity.  But I think the rule that Stacy outlines at the bottom is a good one. You should only participate if it's important enough to give up your job over.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I See Volunteers. . .

Students at George Washington University signed a petition to deport one American citizen in exchange for one illegal immigrant.
Students at George Washington University (GWU) willingly signed a petition supporting the deportation of one American citizen in exchange for one illegal immigrant.

“Please sign our petition for President Obama to deport one American citizen, in exchange for one undocumented immigrant,” read the petition. “Everyone must be allowed a shot at the ‘American Dream.’ Americans should not be greedy. Let us right the wrongs of our past and make another’s dreams come true.”

“It makes sense,” one student told Campus Reform. “Like, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of like hatred against undocumented immigrants and it’s not necessarily their fault.”
It's shocking how quick lefties are to resort to force to implement their plans for society.

But I wouldn't be opposed to swapping them for random foreigners. It's not like it would make any difference as far as their voting patterns, and the foreigners would at least expect to work for a living, at least at first.

Redskins to Attack Cowboys

Given their symmetric  records (Cowbous 11-4, Redskins 4-11) it seems unlikely the Redskins will do better today than redskins have done against cowboys down through history. Game at 1 PM at Fedex Field in Landover.

Now about that liberal media war on football: NFL domestic violence is AP sports story of year
The NFL's troubles with domestic violence were selected the sports story of the year Tuesday in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.

Ninety-four ballots were submitted from U.S. editors and news directors. Voters were asked to rank the top 10 sports stories of the year, with the first-place story receiving 10 points, the second-place story nine points and so on.

NFL domestic violence received 659 points and 29 first-place votes.
The No. 2 sports story, Clippers owner Donald Sterling forced out by the NBA after his racist statements, had 518 points.

Here are 2014's top 10 stories:

1. NFL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice knocked his now-wife unconscious in an Atlantic City casino elevator Feb. 15, but it wasn't until July 24 that domestic violence cases spiraled into a crisis roiling the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice for just two games, which drew widespread derision. More than a month passed before Goodell admitted he "didn't get it right" and announced harsher sanctions for future domestic violence offenses.

But the NFL's problems were only beginning. On Sept. 8, TMZ Sports released video from inside the elevator that showed Rice punching his then-fiancee; the Ravens responded by releasing him and Goodell suspended him indefinitely. And on Sept. 12, one of the league's biggest stars, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, was indicted on felony child abuse charges for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. The Vikings initially planned to play him just over a week later, reversing course only after the ensuing uproar.

The year ends with Rice reinstated by an arbitrator but without a team and Peterson suspended and suing the NFL. Chastened by those and other cases, the league is pushing a new personal conduct policy, but the players' union is balking at Goodell's role in the disciplinary process.
Nothing new, really, just stirring the  ashes in hopes of reviving the flames of yesterday.

Enjoy the game, or a game.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

Last Call for Obamacare Schadenfreude 2014

Likely the last Obamacare Schadenfreude for 2014; I don't see much coming down the road for the next few days.

Really more of a New Years hangover: Obamacare’s Christmas surprise
If you like your health care plan, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has a Christmas surprise for you! When will this new present arrive? December 25th.

In an ongoing effort to keep Obamacare numbers elevated, CMS has embarked on the next step of its government takeover of healthcare.

It seems CMS is taking a page from Jonathan Gruber’s book; rather than allowing the “stupid” masses to make a decision on their own health plan, CMS has proposed a new rule that includes an overly reaching provision allowing CMS to re-enroll anyone who has not made the annual trek back to in a cheaper plan of CMS’ choosing.

That’s right, the government will choose your plan, perhaps limit access to your doctor, and ultimately make the decision on what is “best” for you.

Not to worry, just like Lady Justice, who wears a blindfold when determining guilt or innocence, CMS will use a blindfold to pick your plan. The agency will select your plan without knowing your medical history. They will do so without knowing if you are currently undergoing treatment or working with a specific doctor. They will do so without knowing your financial status. Despite the fact that the millions of people who already enrolled chose the plan that they believed was best for them.
This, of course, is contrary to the practice in employee based insurance, where you would stay enrolled in your current plan by default. But then, the government presume to know what's best for you, and is willing to bet your life on it.

 A Year Later, the Exchanges Still Stink
One day soon I will presumably receive a notice from the D.C. health exchange informing me how much my family’s health insurance will cost for 2015. That I’ve not yet been made privy to this salient bit of information mere weeks before I have to decide whether to change providers is a function both of the low level of competency that can be expected of any government dabbling in commerce as well as the politicization of the exchanges.

In its first year of existence, the D.C. government’s health exchange has worked much as I anticipated—not very well. It took months to navigate the website to actually purchase insurance, and the communiques from the exchange have ranged from irrelevant to unhelpful to factually incorrect. . .
Why single payer died in Vermont
Vermont’s public failure is especially frustrating to single-payer advocates because, they note, the Shumlin framework, which had gotten approval of the state legislature minus that key financing element, wasn’t really a true single-payer plan. Notably, large businesses that operate in multiple states would have been exempt. And it was unclear whether or how enrollees in federal plans like Medicare and TRICARE could be integrated into the state’s plan.

Those exemptions cut into the funding base while adding administrative complexity, eliminating one of the potential cost-saving elements of single-payer: simplicity.
The usual liberal excuse for the failures of socialism and communism; you didn't give use full rein. The truth is, there just wasn't enough other peoples money available.

CoOportunity Health falters, taken over by state
CoOportunity Health, a fledgling Iowa health insurance company set up under the Affordable Care Act, has been taken over by state regulators and could soon go under, officials said Wednesday.

CoOportunity Health is an insurance cooperative, which was set up to give consumers and small businesses an alternative in a market with few choices. The company has received about $146 million in federal money under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said that CoOportunity Health has about 120,000 members in Iowa and Nebraska, and saw its available money drop from $47 million to $17 million from Oct. 31 to Dec. 12.

The company hasn't reached insolvency, he said, but it doesn't have enough money on hand. In layperson's terms, he said, it's as if a small business suddenly had its credit cut off by a bank, which in this case is the federal government.

"They ran into a liquidity crisis, and their lender shut the window on them," Gerhart said.
Supreme Court to hear ObamaCare subsidy challenge in March
The highly anticipated case challenging ObamaCare's subsidies will officially reach the Supreme Court on March 4.

Justices will hear arguments in King v. Burwell in just under three months, according to the court’s schedule posted Monday afternoon.

The case, led by conservative groups, questions whether the federal government can legally hand out healthcare subsidies in 34 states that have opted out of creating their own exchanges.

The plaintiffs of the case also released their opening brief on Monday, a 129-page document that lays out their case against the subsidies.
Another roll of the dice on Chief Justice Roberts?  It's too bad they don't have witnesses at Supreme Court hearings. I'd like to see Dr. Jon Gruber do his grovelling act there.

Time to Start Prepping ObamaCare Reforms
The issue in the case is that the Affordable Care Act makes subsidies available for individuals to buy health insurance through exchanges “established by the states.” But 36 states have not established exchanges of their own and rely instead on the federal portal. The plaintiffs assert that the IRS has no authority under the law as written to provide subsidies to residents of states with no state exchange.

If the court agrees, about four million individuals who are currently receiving these subsidies would lose them. For these people, the highly regulated and expensive coverage mandated by the law’s insurance rules might not be affordable. Governors and legislators in those 36 states that declined to set up exchanges may confront intense pressure to quickly restore access to subsidies.

In essence, if the court rules today’s subsidies illegal, those state officials could face a choice between creating a state exchange (and so reinforcing ObamaCare) or seeing some residents lose coverage they now have. ObamaCare’s opponents in Congress should give them a third option: a viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act.
Yep, it's time for Republicans to start planning a post-Obamacare future. 

Topless FEMENist Busted Swiping Baby Jesus From Pope

Merry Christmas, Femen style:

Vatican arrests Femen activist who bared breasts in St Peter's Square
The Vatican said on Friday it had arrested a member of women's rights group Femen who on Christmas Day bared her breasts and grabbed a statue of the baby Jesus from a nativity scene in front of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square.

Femen's website says the woman was protesting as part of its anti-clerical "Massacre of the Innocents" campaign contesting religions' "maniacal desire to control women's fertility".
But at least membership in the Catholic Church is voluntary. Don't like it? Don't join.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Ukrainian citizen Iana Aleksandrovna Azhdanova was being detained before questioning by a Vatican judge.

He said she was accused of vilification of religion, obscene acts in public, and theft. He said her action "offended the religious feelings of many people".
 Goo is what?
A Vatican policeman stopped Azhdanova, who had "God is woman" written on her chest, and covered her with his cape. She staged her protest shortly after Pope Francis had finished reading his Christmas greeting to the crowd.
Oh, "God is woman." Scrawl more clearly next time.  Well, that explains irrational numbers.
Femen activists have staged protests at the Vatican before, the latest last month, and have been let go. But Lombardi said the Vatican had decided to be firm this time and arrest Azhdanova because her action was "particularly grave".

Lombardi said the group had "intentionally, repeatedly and gravely violated the right of the faithful to see their legitimate religious convictions respected".
I notice, again, that the  writing on her chest is in English, and not her native Ukrainian, or Italian, the native language of the site where the protest is taking place. It's almost like she intends it to be noticed by someone else.

Well, the Vatican is technically a separate country, so I suppose now that she's broken some of their laws by running around half naked, and trying to steal Baby Jesus they can treat her with about as much respect as she's shown them. I'm sure they have an old dank dungeon somewhere in the complex left over from the middle ages where they can hold her while they sort this out. It's still probably better than being arrested by Putin.

You can see the whole of the public portion of this affair here, in ultra-low definition, and in Italian.

Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Happy New Year!" ready.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Two Days After Christmas at the Beach

Another fine day at the Beach for December. Even slightly warmer than yesterday, with temperatures topping 50 F, a very slight south wind, and clear skies.
When we arrived there was quite a crowd, at least for a winter day. People seemed to be trying out new Christmas presents

A new stick, or is it new scarf and sandals?

New boogie boards and wet suits?
A new paddle board?

New presents on their way north to Baltimore?

New galoshes? (Dad was watching from the shore, there was no danger here; she would have to walk 50 ft to find water over the boots.
But the dog found it.

Another IRS Witch Hunt?

Adding to the long-running saga of IRS dealings with conservatives, former Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell says the tax agency punished her mistakenly for the second time in five years by imposing an erroneous levy on her bank accounts.
Ms. O’Donnell told The Washington Times that she discovered the levy when she couldn’t access her checking account as she was preparing to visit relatives over Thanksgiving.
Christine O'Donnell is the Tea Party neophyte candidate who defeated  Pennsylvania who defeated GOP "moderate" Mike Castle, former governor and long time legislator in the primary to run for Joe Biden's vacant Senate seat, to the dismay of the political class. She was defeated by Chris Coons. During the campaign an old clip from a Bill Maher show surfaced where she admitted to a high school flirtation with "witchcraft", despite her then strong support for Christian values. This brought derision from lefties, in whom an interest in Wicca (also called witchcraft) would ordinarily be regarded as a sign of open mindedness. At one point her campaign produced an ad in which she denied being a witch.

She said she called the Internal Revenue Service and was told the agency had concluded she owed $30,000 in taxes from a 2008 house transaction, which was long ago accounted for on her federal returns. She said she implored the agency to check her tax records and eventually was told the levy was generated in error and her accounts would be freed up.

Although IRS officials removed the levy, they first withdrew all the funds from her account. They said that, too, was in error and the funds would be returned to her. The funds have not been replaced, Ms. O’Donnell said.
The bureaucracy can move with frightening speed and subtlety when seizing money, but with infinite care and glacial slowness when forced to release it's grip on such funds, particularly into the hands of their political enemies. And make no mistake, the bureaucracy sees the "Taxed Enough Already" party as political enemies.
 Senate investigators continue to probe why Delaware state authorities accessed Ms. O’Donnell’s IRS tax file on a Saturday morning in spring 2010, right around the time she announced her candidacy and a story was leaked alleging that she owed back taxes to the IRS, which was later proved to be false.

Delaware authorities claim the records check was routine but that the computer records detailing what was searched have since been destroyed. Lawmakers in both parties have cited the episode in raising concerns about possible lax access for state agencies to sensitive federal tax records.
Yes, "accidentally" revealing confidential tax records of the politically active seems to be a problem that only the conservatives seem to face at the hands of the IRS. Liberals can agitate sleep in peace knowing that their financial records will never "accidentally" be revealed to be used by their opponents.
The first tax lien was placed on a house she had sold more than two years earlier, and it created headaches for her finances and her campaign. The lien was highly publicized and used to discredit Ms. O’Donnell’s candidacy just as it was getting off the ground, even though she no longer owned the home in question.

The IRS eventually removed the lien, blaming it on a computer error. Ms. O’Donnell sold the home in 2008, and financial documents from her lender show that her back payments were satisfied in July 2008, long before the IRS initiated the bogus lien.
Yep, just a computer error, I'm sure. Goldfinger told James Bond, Oonce is coincidence, twice is happenstance, but the third time is enemy action. I wonder what the IRS has against witches?

Rule 5 Saturday - A Greek Tragedy with Maria Menounos?

This Rule 5 Post prompted by the news that TV babe/personality Maria Menounos suffered a tragedy in New York: Maria Menounos Was Attacked and Her Car Vandalized While Leaving New York Airport
Menounos explained that she was leaving JFK airport in a car when she suddenly heard what she thought was gunfire.

"We were merging onto the expressway and all of a sudden we heard an explosion. I thought we were being shot at so I told everyone, 'We’re being shot at! Put your heads down!' And everyone put their heads down," she recalled. "We waited a second and we didn’t hear another shot, so I lifted my head up and turned around, and the whole back window was shattered and gone, not even a stitch of glass was left."
 Here's a recent Egotastic! spread on Maria.
Luckily for Menounos, who was sitting in the front seat, there was a cop driving behind them. However, he didn't seem to catch what had happened either.

"He told us, 'You have to move,'" Menounos said. "And we see this huge tire iron in the back, so either someone ran back and smashed the back of the window and ran and nobody saw [them], or someone was in close proximity and threw it through the back window. Either way, my makeup artist was in the back seat covered in glass," Menounos added.
 Well, sort of Greek:
Menounos was born in Medford, Massachusetts, to her Greek immigrant parents Costas and Litsa Menounos.She has a younger brother, Peter Menounos. She is fluent in the Greek language.  Menounos attended the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Somerville, Massachusetts.
In his 170th Blogging Magazine issue, GOODSTUFF leads with a spectacular ginger, Lily Cole. Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup." Despite the holiday madness Wombat-socho has the "Rule 5 Sunday: Bowls, Boobs And Other Entertainments" post up on time and within budget at The Other McCain.

A Surprisingly Cogent Explanation of Electric Guitars

From Ted Nugent

Friday, December 26, 2014

Country Jam, with Dog

Boxing Day at the Beach

We hadn't made it down to the beach for a few day, but with bright sun, no wind and 50 F temperatures, we made it down there around noon, after Alex and Kelly left for their 6 hour drive home. When we arrived there were quite a number of other families taking advantage of the great weather
 The tide was almost dead low when we arrived, and we hoped for a good fossil hunting day. Georgia found this large "Mako" shark's tooth (really a relation to the Great White shark), the second largest of the year, but otherwise it was not a great day, only 5 teeth total.
 A large raft of Buffleheads just off the shore
A good day for boating.  These duck hunters were just coming back to the boat ramp at Calvert Beach. They can't hunt just anywhere; they have to stay in sites that are registered with the state, and highly sought.
 Cruising back to the harbor
And the rowing guy, who never seems to take a day off.

Midnite Non-Chistmas Music - "Love Me Two Times"

The Doors classic revisited, with Beth Hart playing at being Jim Morrison:

Christmas is over. Time to get back to "normal."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas - Again

Christmas Mass - Clarence Gagnon - 1928

Christmas Blues Jam

Alex and a long time friend, who wishes to remain unidentified because he is a serious musician with another instrument, and hasn't picked up a guitar in months, sat down to mess around this morning. I started in the middle, and the camera quit near the end, but that's not really the point. Two friends who hadn't played together since last year at least...

Merry Christmas, 2014