Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ships, Eagles and Rodents at the Beach

After lunch today, I let Skye nag me into taking a walk down to the beach. It's overcast, cool (55 F) and calm here, and just a bit misty at times.
From the raked mast and the sails, I'm pretty sure this was the Pride of Baltimore II heading down the Bay, a long way out. The hull was below the horizon, and some of the rigging, (especially the bowsprit) is reflected in a mirage.
A juvenile eagle was being harassed by crow (the crow is not in the photo).
And a Whistle Pig (Ground Hog) watched us pass his hole on the cliff. Back in the old days, with Skye I off the leash, it would have had a tougher time, but we don't trust Skye II off the leash (well we trust she'll run away).

Continuing Gender Wars at

A Sanders supporter (it is HuffPo afterall) eagerly awaits the Hillary's demise at the hand of the FBI. Dear FBI, the Democratic Party’s Future Rests Upon Your Investigation of Clinton’s Emails
It’s important for everyone at the FBI to know that your investigation, and I say this with all due respect, is viewed as a source of amusement for many writers, pundits, and observers loyal to Clinton. The 22 Top Secret emails on a private server (something that should disqualify anyone running for president) are either completely ignored by party faithful, or rationalized by twisted logic. Nothing is taken seriously anymore; everything is viewed through the belief that Republicans are worse, therefore Clinton’s indiscretions are meaningless.
It's hard to image Sanders taking national security seriously either, except to give everything away to the commies and socialists.

The "woman card" story from yesterday continues to resonate. The Ed Driscol at  Instapundit notes:
Huh — I can remember just last week when gender was still fluid and entirely a social construct. Very edgy of Hillary to push back against the worldview driving her own party’s war on ladies rooms!
Hillary says  I can handle men who go 'off the reservation', while Ann Althouse chides:
I'm surprised she used the phrase "off the reservation." I know Donald Trump has been attacking "political correctness," but he doesn't gratuitously use figures of speech that relate to groups that have been oppressed in American history. His political incorrectness is plain speech about current problems, not metaphor. For reference, here's an piece from 2014 explaining "off the reservation":
In its literal and original sense, as you would expect, the term was used in the 19th century to describe the activities of Native Americans:
"Secretary Hoke Smith...has requested of the Secretary of War the aid of the United States troops to arrest a band of Navajo Indians living off the reservation near American Valley, New Mexico, who have been killing cattle, etc." (Washington Post, May 23, 1894)
Many of the news articles that used the term in a literal sense in the past were also expressing undisguised contempt and hatred, or, at best, condescension for Native Americans — "shiftless, untameable...a rampant and intractable enemy to civilization" (New York Times, Oct. 27, 1886)....
Can we bleach all color out of the language as quickly as possible? I'm tired of all the color.

Democrats Have a Serious Male Voter Problem
Say what you want about the Republican’s “women problem,” but Democrats have their own gender problem—and it’s bigger.

In every single primary this election cycle for which there are exit polls, more women than men have cast their votes for the Democratic nominee—and the gender gap appears to be getting wider. In all three of the primary states that voted Tuesday for which there are exit polls—Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania—Democrats had a gender gap of 20-points or larger.
. . .
The disconnect in the Democratic Party among male voters—especially white male voters—has been well documented. But as media outlets and Democrats love to focus on the gender gap among Republicans that favors men, they ignore the massive gender gap on the Democratic Party that favors women. It’s due in large part these days to the Party’s consistent pandering to women and minorities while ignoring white men.
Seriously, why would a man vote for Hillary? Except Dana Milbank, if he counts. But even he has doubts about value of the gender card:
. . . The priming of voters with the gender-role question caused women to support Clinton even more strongly, by an extra 12 percentage points. But this didn’t offset the losses the experiment caused Clinton among men. Overall, she lost 8 percentage points when voters were reminded about changing gender roles.

What this shows, and what Trump apparently recognizes, is that the gender gap cuts both ways. Trump has already lost the votes of liberal and moderate women (and of liberal men, who, like women, tended to be even more pro-Clinton when they were primed with the gender-role question). Playing the man card — appealing to a male sense of feeling threatened by changing gender roles — can help Trump boost turnout among conservative and evangelical Christian men, while peeling off some support from non-white men and older, anti-feminist women.

The gender gap “probably hurts him more than it helps him, but it’s close,” Cassino told me. “I don’t think it’s a big loser in the general election.”
And one throw-away: Clinton to take hard line with Sanders, say allies
The Vermont senator has been trying to push Clinton and Democrats to adopt positions on free tuition at public colleges, and to break up the nation’s six largest banks to lessen their dominance in the credit card and mortgage business.

Clinton supporters argue the former secretary of State has already been forced to the left by Sanders, and can’t risk moving further ahead of a general election.

“I don’t know what’s left to extract,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a Clinton supporter, said in an interview with The Hill.

He said the Democratic primary moved the discussion “farther to the left than most moderate Democrats would like to see.

“Some would say it even endangers a victory in November because the further you go to the left or right, the further you frustrate independents,” Cleaver said. “He’s already impacted this election probably more than anyone else including Donald Trump.”

Another ally bluntly said it will not be possible for Clinton to compromise with Sanders on some policy demands.
I guess there's nothing left for Bernie except to run third party!

Rule 5 Saturday - Dakota Johnson Not Into Faking It

This week's Rule 5 star is Dakota Johnson, star of a certain piece of "Twilight" fan fiction turned movie, who's tired of faking sex:

Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades movies, has announced that she is “over” the Red Room where Dornan’s playboy billionaire Christian Grey submits her to all kinds of BDSM action.

“We’re not having actual sex,” the 26-year-old told Chrissie Hynde for Interview magazine. “But I’ve been simulating sex for seven hours straight right now and I’m over it. It’s not…comfortable. It’s pretty tedious.”

Dakota Mayi Johnson (born October 4, 1989) is an American actress and model. She is the daughter of actors Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. She had her screen debut alongside her mother in the comedy-drama Crazy in Alabama (1999) and was named Miss Golden Globe in 2006. Following high school graduation, she returned to acting with roles in The Social Network (2010), Beastly (2011), 21 Jump Street (2012), Need for Speed (2014) and the short-lived comedy Ben and Kate (2012-2013).

You might not be surprised that there's a certain amount of NSFW material.

In GOODSTUFFs BLOGGING MAGAZINE (239th Issue)Vanna White takes us through the twisting pathways of space and time. Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links. Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition" and "FMJRA 2.0: Strange News From Clark County" ready at The Other McCain.

Selfie Nation

Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Visitor at the Feeder

A Rose Breasted Grosbeak. The only one so far. They don't nest here, so we only see them for a few weeks during the migration

The European All Father

It’s good to be the king. One man, thought to be a monarch, used his potent baby batter to change the course of history four thousand years ago, after scientists discovered a genetic link to half of all men with western European heritage living today.

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute don’t know who it was or where exactly he lived, but they believe advancements in metallurgy, war, and wheel technology created a boom of elite nobles who partially ‘purified’ humanity’s bloodline, according to a study published in Nature Genetics this week.
Purified? In what sense? In the sense of overwhelming the original diversity?
Looking at the Y chromosome, which is only passed from father to son, 1,200 men from 26 populations helped scientists trace back four millennia of mutations to a single ancestor.

“Wheeled transport, metal working, and organized warfare are all candidate explanations that can now be investigated further,” Dr Chris Tyler-Smith told The Telegraph.

Coming out of the Stone Age, the chieftain and his descendants controlled the population and reproduction through a new hierarchical system of powerful elites which, much like his bloodline, continues to this day.
I see this as a Conan like character,  rambling around Bronze Age Europe, inseminating a lot of women, and ultimately becoming a chieftain or even a king. Was this the person from which the myth of Odin, Woden, or Woten, just to name a few. A guy like that might leave a lot of stories behind.

Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

2015 a Banner Year for Bay Grasses

Bay grasses expand to greatest extent in more than 30 years - Scientists caution that volatile widgeon grass is behind most of rebound
The Bay’s underwater grass meadows, a critical habitat for crabs and juvenile fish, expanded last year to the highest levels seen since monitoring programs began more than three decades ago.
Which might make it the best year since Hurricane Agnes set off the decline of seagrasses in the bay back in  1972 by drowning most of them in mud.
The gains were widespread, from high-salinity waters in the lower Chesapeake to tidal fresh areas in its uppermost reaches. A number of areas had more grass acreage than had ever been observed, and scientists found isolated patches in places they had never seen grasses before.

The 91,631 acres photographed during the annual aerial survey is nearly half of the Bay Program goal. It also exceeded the 2017 restoration objective two years ahead of schedule — as long as the grasses hang on this year and next.

That’s far from certain, because much of the increase was in the Mid Bay, an area dominated by widgeon grass, a species notorious for its year-to-year fluctuations. Grass beds there more than doubled from 2012 through 2015, and account for more than half of the entire Bay’s acreage.

“Widgeon grass continues to be the story of the Bay in terms of what’s driving these numbers,” said Bob Orth, a scientist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who oversees the annual survey.

Orth also cautioned that there were signs of an eelgrass die-back in the lower Bay last fall — something that would not show up until this year’s survey.

Overall, though, the news was good. Grasses increased 21 percent from 2014 levels and have expanded 140 percent since the first survey found just 38,227 acres in 1984 — the lowest ever observed in the Chesapeake.
Is this another sign the Bay is turning the corner? When I was out with Pete on the Eastern Shore earlier this week, we saw lots of grass, so this may also be a good year coming up. What of it that I collected on my hook looked like Widgeon Grass, but I'm no expert.

Woman Card Played at

Another giant episode to the trials and tribulations of the woman who would be Queen President because of day lay off.

First off, this provocative article on Bill's role, or more specifically Bill's aide, Justin Cooper, in Hillary's email scandal: Are Bill Clinton and his team the key to the FBI’s Hillary investigation?
Was Hillary Clinton’s unsecure, private email server set up by her husband’s top political operative in order to turbocharge their own political and financial interests?

Justin Cooper may hold the answer.

Mr. Cooper is a central player in the shadowy worlds of Bill and Hillary Clinton — serving as Mr. Clinton’s top aide since 2015, when his predecessor, former right-hand man and “surrogate son” Doug Band, resigned from the Clinton Foundation — yet he has largely escaped notice.
The obscure Mr. Cooper may, in fact, be the linchpin of the case swirling around the Clintons.

Perhaps more than anyone apart from the principals themselves, he is at the nexus of the Clinton Foundation, Hillary’s work at the State Department, and her possession of highly sensitive government documents. After all, Mr. Cooper was the one who, before she became secretary, negotiated with the Obama White House over the parameters of acceptable conduct by Bill Clinton and the foundation to minimize the possibility of “conflicts of interest.”
Thanks, EBL,  via Wombat-socho!
Time to depose him. Even the Sanders are starting to get a little anxious: Jane Sanders to FBI: Can you speed up the Hillary probe, please?
Bernie Sanders’s wife says the FBI should speed up their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

“Right after the debate where he said, ‘enough of your damn emails,’ he also said, ‘there’s a process – it’s going forward,’ ” Jane Sanders said Thursday night on Fox Business Network’s “Cavuto Coast to Coast.”

“It’s an FBI investigation, and we want to let it go through without politicizing it and then we’ll find what the situation is. That’s how we still feel. I mean, it would be nice if the FBI moved it along.”
mvSanders' Facebook pages shut down by porn attack. Coincidence? I don't believe in coincidences when the Clintons are involved. This former Hillary voter is convinced that Hillary (or rather her supporters) are committing voter fraud in a massive way against Sanders. Hillary Clinton and Electoral Fraud - Why it is 99.9% certain electoral fraud was committed for Hillary Clinton His evidence seems pretty strong. Do you think she would refrain from using the tactics in a general election? Meanwhile, Clinton’s tricky task now: Can she ignore Sanders? Unless the superdelegates start to defect, sure.

It's official. Hillary has the "Woman Card" printed up as a fundraising device. Can the "Tranny Card" be far behind? But the good word for Hillary, whose support among women is flagging, is that she's gaining the coveted Klu Klux Klan vote.

I've heard of bag ladies, but this is something else: Devoted Abedin Almost Cried Upon Learning Clinton Had to Carry Her Own Bag Upstairs. It's good to be the Queen, almost. 

Democrats, this is why you need to fear Hillary Clinton: The NY Times is absolutely right — she’s a bigger hawk than the Republicans. But she's a half assed hawk, with enough chutzpah to start a war, as seen in Libya and Syria, but without the gumption to pursue it seriously to a successful conclusion.

CollegeHumor’s Hysterical Takedown of ‘Bernie Math’:

“Bernie Sanders” and “accurate math” are two things that one cannot use in the same sentence. Much like “Hillary Clinton” and “integrity.” What CollegeHumor did was take both of those ideas, swirled them around in a petri dish, then implanted them into this video. What resulted is the reason many in the Democrat party are frustrated. Bernie Sanders is the popular choice for voters. But somehow Hillary Clinton keeps chugging along. Perhaps she was the energizer bunny in her former life. If the energizer bunny covered up for her husband’s many rapes. She just keeps going…
‘Clinton Cash’ Has Been Made Into a Movie - The Breitbart-funded broadside against Hillary Clinton will be screened in Cannes and have its U.S. premiere the week of the Democratic convention.

Trump, for one, sounds likely to amplify the book’s criticism against Clinton during the general-election campaign. On Wednesday, the Republican front-runner said in an interview on SiriusXM radio, “I think we’ll whip out that book because that book will become very pertinent. I’m surprised it hasn’t been used by Sanders.”
Speaking of Trump vs. Hillary, Surprise! Trump demolished Hillary with Millennials in Pennsylvania. She's just not that likable. And imagine the fun we'll have when Millions of Americans react with orgasmic delight when Trump starts insulting Hillary, according to Rush Limbaugh. Leave it to the Atlantic to look at Trump vs. Clinton: A Battle Between Two Opposite Americas. Their analysis is that it's the trailer park vs. ghetto and the faculty lounge:
Clinton and Trump might frequent the same weddings and tax brackets, but they represent competing binaries: not just male versus female, but also white versus non-white, college versus non-college, radical doomsdayism versus optimistic incrementalism.
The monkey wrench in the whole election? Could a Trump-Clinton race be the lowest turnout election ever?

It's More Than OK, It's Even Desirable

University of Washington cheerleader tryout ad.
Relax, it’s OK for cheerleaders to look hot
The news hit hard on the University of Washington campus. The students can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Can you believe it?

Cheerleaders, it turns out, are expected to have a certain look.

“U-Dub” students (hey, that’s just one letter away from U Dumb!) were unloading on social media, crying to counselors and fleeing to safe spaces after the cheer team posted an infographic describing the look to strive for if you’re planning to try out for the squad. (In the routinely craven manner of all universities, the UW spirit program ordered the graphic removed and called in nine tons of smelling salts for those affected.)
Hail to thee, my Alma Mater
Liberalism is the fear that somewhere, somehow, someone is enjoying something that you don't.

I repeat: The graphic was aimed only at young women seeking to be cheerleaders. Pasty-faced Womyn’s Struggles majors attending rallies in shapeless sweatshirts, and black-clad Emily Dickinson fans emoting agonized coffeehouse verse were not the target audience. It takes all kinds to make up a student body: dimpled, flirty blond girls with Southern accents and sour, achy ones who cut themselves among them.

“I can’t believe this is real,” Jazmine Perez, the student government’s director of programming told the Seattle Times. “One of the first things that comes to mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty,” she harrumphed.
Jazmine Perez
Shockingly, Jazmine seems to live up to the standards of objectification and idealization of Western Beauty in her own photos for her position. She only resents it when the party girls do it. Although a STEM major, this one is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Signe Burchim, a UW senior, added, “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much.” She said men would never be subjected to such a message while trying out for a sport.
When trying out for a sport, men are pretty much expected to be able to perform the sport with moderate proficiency to start with. Look, if you don't want to be a cheerleader, don't get into good shape and learn some cheer leading moves. You might enjoy video games, or just bitching about something else, for example.

Cheerleading is a sport? No, cheerleaders are dancers and acrobats you watch when there’s a break in the actual sport — the one where they keep score and report the results in the papers. And anyone who’s seen the cheer squads during, say, March Madness can tell you that for colleges like UW with co-ed cheerleading, there’s clearly a standard for dudes, too: If you look like Marilyn Manson or Howard Stern, you aren’t going to be picked. Always and forever, they’re looking for 1965 Mitt Romneys. Those who don’t already possess a large collection of pastel sweaters they tie rakishly around their necks need not apply.
And then you can go on to make a billion or so rescuing companies from the ravages of government.
Contrary to Ms. Perez — who reminds us that college is a place where you pay $50,000 a year to unlearn the obvious — female beauty standards like facial symmetry and waist-hip ratio are pretty much universal. But here’s the thing she missed: The graphic made no demand that cheerleaders be pretty. Everything illustrated has to do with styling and presentation, not your actual attractiveness. And no, it isn’t racist: Race is nowhere mentioned or implied.
"College is a place where you pay $50,000 a year to unlearn the obvious". Now that's a great line, I'll have to remember it. Sometimes what seems obvious is wrong, but mostly it's just obvious. It shouldn't take $200 or $250 k to learn the difference. I'm sure glad I didn't pay anything near that amount.
Tailoring your look to a group’s standards is how almost everything works. You don’t show up to play baseball in a scuba suit. You don’t show up for a business meeting in board shorts and flip-flops, unless you work in Silicon Valley, in which case you don’t show up in a tie and wingtips. And you don’t wear Goth makeup, “Born To Be Bad” tats and fishnet tights to a cheerleading tryout — unless you’re doing a performance art piece, which might actually be funny.
Sometime, the cheerleaders all ought to wear fat suits and dumpy clothes to look like Lena Dunham. But not when I'm in the audience.

Brought to you from EBL via Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 04.28.16". Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!

Cat lovers may be less inclined to view an online livestream of a family of bald eagles in Pittsburgh after the webcam showed two adult eagles feeding a feline to their eaglets.

Viewers on Tuesday saw the adult eagles bring a cat to the nest for the two youngsters.

Some viewers were disturbed that the image was caught on camera, but Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania spokeswoman Rachel Handel tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the feeding behavior was perfectly normal. She also wrote on Facebook that "the eagles bring squirrels, rabbits, fish (and other animals) into the next [sic] to eat multiple times each day."

Handel says the group couldn't determine if the cat was a pet or feral.
My bold.

At least, I'm reasonably sure no Osprey was robbed for this meal.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Yahoos Deface Chesapeake Bay Landmark

Thomas Point Lighthouse, July 28, 2015
Vandalism at Thomas Point Lighthouse
The Maryland Natural Resources Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating individuals who broke into and vandalized the Thomas Point Lighthouse between April 15-16. On April 17, officers met with the lighthouse caretakers who had discovered the damage to the national historic landmark and Maryland icon that sits in the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the South River.

Wooden pickets had been destroyed, windows were shattered, and fire extinguishers were set off. The vandals could only have gotten to the lighthouse by boat so the NRP is hopeful that someone saw a boat and that witnesses will come forward.
. . .
Anyone with information regarding the break-in and damage is asked to call Officer Jeff Beshore or Officer Chris Neville at 1-800-628-9944.
I would like to believe that anyone with resources enough to buy or rent a boat to get out to the lighthouse would be beyond casual vandalism.

EPA Defies Supreme Court Climate Ruling

EPA Continues To Implement Global Warming Plan Supreme Court Said It Couldn’t
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials are moving ahead with a key part of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) despite the Supreme Court issuing a stay against the agency’s global warming plan in February.

The EPA submitted a proposal to the White House for green energy subsidies for states that meet the federally mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would give “credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021” and a “double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities,” according to Politico’s Morning Energy.

Te [sic] move seems to violate the Supreme Court’s stay against CPP preventing the EPA from implementing its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants. EPA, however, argues it’s doing this for states that want to voluntarily cut emissions — despite this being part of CPP.
. . .
“Sending this proposal to OMB for review is a routine step and it is consistent with the Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan,” the EPA said.

EPA has been moving forward with aspects of the CPP despite the Supreme Court’s decision. After the court’s February decision, EPA began signalling it would continue to work with states that want to “voluntarily” move forward.
"Voluntarily" is an interesting word when the agency that wants you to do something "voluntarily" wields so much power.

This administration is completely lawless. When the Congress won't act the way it wants to on immigration and environmental matters, they take it into their own hands to legislate from the administrative sector. When the Supreme Court overrules them, they ignore it. If we don't get an administration that respects the Constitution soon I have great fears for the Republic.

Hat tip to Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 04.27.16" via Weasel Zippers.

Obamacare Schadenfreude Keeps Chugging Aong

It just won't go away. Here's the latest.

Obamacare. Hmmm. Say, wasn't that going to save everybody a ton of money? What, you say, Get Ready for Huge Obamacare Premium Hikes in 2017? Get out! But at least it slowed the rise in prices? AHIP warns Obamacare premiums going up more than in previous years. Oh, but we got universal coverage out of it didn't we; that was worth the price of paying more. No? Obamacare Won’t Lead to Universal Coverage. Well, but you can get the insurance you want, right? UnitedHealth Group to exit Obamacare exchanges in all but a ‘handful’ of states. That's like only half of 57 states isn't it? But we can set aside before tax money in Health Services Accounts (HSAs) to offset the increasing costs, right? HSAs on the Obamacare Exchange Chopping Block.
But as we’ve discussed at length, few options, higher costs — they’re a feature, not a bug.
Why it's almost like they're taking away anything good to force us into their plans.
People can't afford to buy plans they don't need from insurers who can't afford to keep selling them, because of the Affordable Care Act.

That Means It's Working™
And the death spiral takes another spin: Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day
Given the billions wasted, the people shut out of their previous choices, the growth-and jobs-snuffing taxes, and all the rest, there's really no satisfaction in being proven right.

Maybe at least we'll learn to be a more-effective opposition to the next wave of collectivism.
I don't know about that. Venezuela shows that formerly prosperous societies follow the socialist death spiral a long way before any sanity reasserts itself. Venezuela's government has imposed a two-day working week for public sector workers as a temporary measure to help it overcome a serious energy crisis. Venezuela, with the worlds largest proven oil reserves, has run out of energy. It has also run out of other people's money, right about the same time. This Is The End: Venezuela Runs Out Of Money To Print New Money. But I like the idea of cutting the Federal government 3/5s to save energy!
Bottom line:  ObamaCare is based on flawed economic analysis, bad assumptions, and with wishful thinking. It’s the equivalent of King Canute ordering the tide not to rise.

However, there is a major difference. King Canute didn’t expect the tide to obey him; he was making a point to his courtiers concerning the limits of his authority.  The imbeciles that brought us ObamaCare actually expected basic economics to change on command.
Somebody should investigate this, right? Feds Blow Off House Subpoena For Obamacare Co-Op Docs
Federal health officials refuse to give Congress hundreds of subpoenaed documents on Obamacare’s failed co-ops so that people will continue enrolling in the deeply troubled program, a congressional leader said Tuesday.

Twelve of the 23 co-ops created in 2011 under Obamacare at a cost of $2.4 billion have failed, and another eight of the remaining 11 are likely to go under this year. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) won’t hand over documents subpoenaed months ago by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
. . .
The co-ops have already cost taxpayers billions, leaving many enrollees “scrambling” to find new health insurance, he added. More than 800,000 customers have lost coverage through the failures nationwide, and many more are expected to lose coverage in 2016.

Federal health officials are also denying medical reimbursements to doctors and hospitals that have served patients insured by failed co-ops, a DCNF investigation found.

Federal reports have documented personal information security concerns, website failures and poor eligibility screening processes plaguing Obamacare exchanges and co-ops.
Magic 8-Ball says "No": Is the GOP really about to unveil a replacement for Obamacare?
Remember back in the days following the 2014 midterms when the GOP was still talking about not only repealing Obamacare, but providing a viable replacement for it which made sense for the country? Good times, my friends. Of course, once the primary kicked into gear last spring most of those conversations seemed to fall by the wayside. But it’s back in the news this week because at least one lawmaker is hinting that Republicans may be within weeks of releasing just such a proposal. (The Hill)
A group of senior House Republicans is promising to deliver proof that the party is making headway in its six-year struggle to replace ObamaCare.
“Give us a little time, another month or so,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told reporters this week. “I think we’ll be pretty close to a Republican alternative.”
Unfortunately, not even Congressman Upton’s Republican colleagues seems to be buying this story.
. . .
Both the Republicans and the Democrats have good reason not to be the first ones to move on the issue. If liberals begin touting it as a success and pushing to “preserve and build on” it, the GOP can cite all the factors I mentioned above in response. But if the Republicans run on repealing it, the Dems have a built-in talking point. Technically there are a few million people who now have coverage who didn’t have it before. It may be pretty lousy coverage which doesn’t do all that much for them, but it’s there. So any talk of repeal will be touted in the media as an effort to “take it away” from poor people. While deceptive to a degree, it’s a powerful totem in the election wars.

It would be different if the GOP had a simple, easy to understand plan which would replace Obamacare, but that doesn’t seem to exist. In a perfect world, Republicans could point to how much we’ve already invested in this scheme and show that we could have simply allocated money to buy all those people insurance plans on the traditional market for less money, but that’s a non-starter. Democrats would oppose it because it would signal an admission that Obamacare had failed. Conservatives would refuse it just because of the price tag and a lack of any way to fund it without continuing to drive up the debt.

No, at this point it’s probably better for both parties to treat Obamacare like the toad at the garden party and simply ignore it until after November.
And then, there's the veto problem.

Morning Music - "Drop in the Bucket"

Dustbowl Revival

with Liz Beebe:

Lucky Bear

Like all Ozzyman reviews, it's NSFW for language.

Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fishing in the Rain

Trevor talked me into fishing after my afternoon nap. We got going about 4 PM. We arrived at "Location X" to find Ron "Onefish" and one other boat. We fished a while, and caught a few fish, nothing huge, but what would be good summer fish (they need to be 35 inches to keep now, and only 20 after May 15). While yesterday was nearly 90 F, a cold front brought rain today, and temperatures barely cracked 50 F.

After the other boats left, we switched to the shallow areas, and found a bunch of fish hitting top water and crank baits.

Anti-Fracking Fail: University Suppresses Study Showing No Effects

Research university hides results of fracking study which fails to prove it’s dangerous
In the case of the University of Cincinnati, a lot of their funding comes from groups which have a vested interest in proving how harmful fracking is so it’s hardly a surprise that they lost interest in the study when it failed to produce any evidence of ground water contamination near commercial fracking sites.

Jeff Stier, senior fellow and head of the Risk Analysis Division at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington provides a detailed report at Newsweek.
Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies.
The result? There’s no evidence—zero, zilch, nada—that fracking contaminates drinking water. Researchers hoped to keep these findings secret.
Why would a public research university boasting a top-100 geology program deliberately hide its work? Because, as lead researcher Amy Townsend-Small explained, “our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban it.”
The funding groups were a little disappointed in the results. How terrible for them. We do so hate to see anyone go away disappointed. But to have this research basically squashed with no public release after three years of investigative work is unforgivable. I wonder if it also added to their disappointment to discover that the oil and gas industry was providing more than 2 million jobs in the United States and is projected to increase that number to 5 million by 2025.
In the two environmental research institutions I have worked for, the standard contract for a study funded from private sources always called for the investigators to retain the right to publish the results of a study. That, after all is the point of a research institution, to develop knowledge for all of mankind. To be sure, some of the stickier clients tried to make sure they had some right to review it before hand.

So go forth, comforted in the knowledge that the anti-fracking forces are as sincere about hiding unfavorable data as they accuse the energy and oil companies, and global warming skeptics of being.

More Email Skullduggery at

Judicial Watch has been pounding the pavement for more than two years now in search of information about her communications during her time as Secretary of State and this week they found out that there was a rather serious “oversight” on the part of State in that process. When their original request for Clinton’s emails from July of 2014 was answered, one document was mysteriously left out of the delivery, and just by happenstance (I’m sure) it happened to be the one which would have revealed the existence of her private email server. (Fox News)
The State Department withheld a vital Hillary Clinton email for two years that would have exposed the existence of her private email server before she wiped it, a conservative watchdog claimed Tuesday.
Judicial Watch, the group that successfully sued in federal court for Clinton’s emails, claims the Sept. 29, 2012 email was withheld from them in 2014 by the State Department because it showed she was not using a government account for State Department business. They received the document last week from the State Department.
“Upon further review, the Department has determined that one document previously withheld in full in our letter dated November 12, 2014 may now be released in part,” the letter, dated April 18, said.
So what made this email so difficult to release? Was it highly classified, containing information which could put American security or personnel at risk? No… it was a memo from Jake Sullivan laying out some talking points on Benghazi for an upcoming conference call. But the key factor here is that it was sent to the then unknown private email account which Clinton maintained on a server in her home. So how did it slip through the cracks? It was an “oversight.”
. . .
Oops. Damn the bad luck.
. . .
You can call this an oversight if you like, but some things are simply too convenient to be written off to mere coincidence. If this email had been released along with the initial trove the public would have been made aware of the existence of the private server before Clinton had the chance to delete tens of thousands of documents which she deemed “personal” in nature and most likely have the drive wiped clean and overwritten. But the delay meant that Clinton’s team had months of time to sort through everything and destroy any documents which she didn’t want the public to see.
The State Dept. Is Still Covering for Clinton and Obama’s Benghazi Lies
In March, the State Department quietly released records relevant to the Obama administration’s response to the September 11, 2012, Benghazi terrorist attack. Included were transcripts of the telephone call then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had on September 12 -- only hours after the attack ended -- with then-Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil.

As explained by Judicial Watch, whose Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the “most transparent administration in history” forced the belated disclosure, Mrs. Clinton flatly told Mr. Kandil:
We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack -- not a protest.
Kandil responded:
You’re not kidding. Based on the information we saw today, we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this is affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Of course, “the film” Clinton was referring to is Innocence of Muslims, an obscure anti-Islamic video trailer that she, President Obama, and the administration tirelessly blamed for the attacks despite -- let’s quote Clinton again -- “know[ing] the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film.”
Even one time Obama voter Ann Althouse is amused to watch Debbie Wasserman Schultz try to write off Hillary's email troubles:

If I may boil all that down: What's ludicrous is to think that at this point in the process of selecting a President, the email controversy can turn into a criminal matter that waylays the party's frontrunner.
From the comments:
The thing about the e-mail server issue is this--if Hillary had simply violated protocol by having business e-mails sent to a personal account (like gmail) when she was remote and couldn't access her State Dept. server, this would be understandable--if she assumed the e-mails had nothing classified and did this as a periodic convenience. It'd be a technical violation, but one which most people could sort of understand (cutting around red tape). But she went through the trouble of setting up a private server to do all her business through it--and obviously no other Secretary of State did anything like that. It took plenty of planning, thought and expense, so this wasn't an inadvertent ad hoc sort of thing--it boggles the mind that she would never check to make sure this was kosher, and thus we can only conclude that since she presented no legitimate reason to do this that she was up to something criminal.

That's what Hillary's grappling with and that's what this country is about to put into the White House.
White Lies Matter
. . .It remains to be seen whether the FBI will indict her for compromising national security, though I rather doubt that will happen. There is no smoking gun. The emails themselves show Clinton to be a tech ignoramus, a workaholic, harried by the pace of events, self-interested, paranoid, dependent on a few close advisers. Nothing we didn’t already know.

But that didn’t stop Clinton from lying about it. Never does. “The secrecy and the closed nature of her dealings generate problems of their own, which in turn prompt efforts to restrict information and draw even more tightly inside a group of intimates,” wrote Sarah Ellison last year in Vanity Fair. “It is a vicious circle.” And the person responsible for keeping the circle going is none other than the candidate herself: circumspect, wary, so damaged by her years in the public eye that she trusts no one. And receives no trust in return.
Just a minor quibble. The FBI cannot indict anyone, much less Hillary Clinton. They can only recommend indictment to Obama Department of Justice.

The Clinton Doomsday scenario
Unless she's indicted by the Justice Department for her role in mishandling classified information.

Yes, that potentiality — an extremely small one, based on what we know the facts to be, but one that does exist — is what animates a lot of this catastrophic thinking.
Hillary Clinton backs the highest soda tax ever proposed Poor people, minorities and children to be hurt worst, of course.

And despite her wins in the Acela Primary yesterday, her support among a key constituency, women, continues to fade.

Conservatives are getting ready to tackle Clinton's likely VP pick, Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Likely Hillary VP Opposes First Amendment
. . . In July 2012, Perez -- then the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, was asked by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ):

Will you tell us here today that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?
Perez could have simply answered yes, and maybe even cited the First Amendment. Instead, Perez refused to answer the question directly. Franks persisted, ultimately asking it four times.
Perez at one point responded that it was a “hard question.” He simply refused to affirm that the Obama Justice Department would not attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam.
Much, much more at Read the Radical Resume of Tom Perez, Possible Hillary VP. And you thought Sarah Palin was scarey?

Wednesday Morning Workout!

Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

Flint Residents Sue EPA

Flint residents sue the EPA over lead poisoning
Democrats around the nation may be trying to pin the blame for the Flint water crisis on the Governor since he’s the only Republican within striking range, but the residents of the city have apparently been following the news and set their sights on a different culprit. This week attorneys for hundreds of affected public water customers announced a multi-million dollar suit against the Environmental Protection Agency. Their announcement cuts through a lot of the partisan politics surrounding the crisis and pins the tail on the correct donkey. (Detroit News)
. . . On Monday, attorneys for more than 500 current and former city residents filed claims for personal injury and property damage. Those claims, which fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act, total more than $220 million in potential damages.
In a statement released with the lawsuit Monday, plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Pitt wrote: “The EPA heard the alarm bell loud and clear but chose to ignore the profound environmental and public health issues brought to its attention in the early stages of this disaster. This agency attitude of ‘public be damned’ amounts to a cruel and unspeakable act of environmental injustice for which damages will have to be paid to the thousands of injured water users.”
. . . These were factors which led to the disaster, but once the cards were dealt and the lead began seeping into the water, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Quality were the ones who found out about the toxic lead levels and stood mute while they argued over bureaucratic red tape and procedural options. The issues they were fighting over clearly needed to be addressed, but at the same time, anyone with knowledge of the test results could have picked up the phone, called the local newspaper or television stations and said, “Hey… the water’s poisonous. You might want to tell people not to drink it.”
And there it is. Under most circumstances, the EPA would be more than happy to call the power of the press down on the evil doers. But in this case, they held back. Why? It's not clear, but one senses they really didn't want to confront a red city with the problems they were creating for their own people.
They failed in that fundamental duty, not on a procedural or legal score, but on a level of basic human compassion. A series of errors in judgement allowed the lead to being seeping into the water. A callous disregard for the lives and health of the residents of Flint on the part of the EPA allowed the damage to continue mounting for months on end. If someone is going to pay the piper for this, the plaintiffs in the upcoming lawsuit have finally identified the correct villain.
Could they bankrupt the EPA? It's doubtful, but it would be nice if they scored a big enough take to make an impression on the bureaucracy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Exelon, Feds Agree on Conowingo Fish Lift

Hickory Shad fishing in Maryland
Deal reached on fish, eel passage at Conowingo Dam
Exelon Corp. has pledged in a deal announced Monday to work to enhance spawning fish passage at Conowingo Dam over the next 50 years, seeking to revive the Susquehanna River’s meager stocks of American shad and river herring.

The Chicago-based company and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said they had reached agreement to improve at least one of two fish lifts at Conowingo and meanwhile start trucking migratory shad and river herring upriver past it and three other dams in Pennsylvania.

The agreement comes after years of negotiations between the company and wildlife agencies and conservation groups, which were seeking to revive the once-legendary spawning runs of shad and herring. The number of returning fish each spring has been trending downward since the 1980s, and wildlife agencies and conservationists wanted Exelon to make potentially costly upgrades to fish lifts there as a condition of renewing its federal license to operate the hydroelectric facility.
Exelon, for it's part, did not create the problem, having purchased the damn and it's power production facility. In addition to being a primary black start power source if the regional PJM power grid ever had a widespread emergency shutdown (blackout), the damn has also trapped enormous amounts of damaging nutrient and toxic laded sediments from upstream, saving the Bay from their effects.
The company's license to operate Conowingo expired in 2014, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has extended the permit while the parties — including Maryland —attempt to hash out their differences. An even more contentious issue involves what Exelon may have to do about the buildup of nutrient-laden sediment in the dam’s reservoir, which studies have shown could complicated efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality. 
Sure, you saved the Bay almost 100 years of problems, but what are you doing for me now?
Ron DeGregorio, president of Exelon Power and senior vice president of Exelon Generation, called the fish passage agreement a “significant step” toward the goal of reviving spring shad and herring runs.

“The trap and transport program allows fish to bypass Holtwood, Safe Harbor and York Haven Dams to successfully reach their spawning grounds,” DeGregorio pointed out. As part of the deal, Exelon pledged to truck as many as 100,000 of each species annually past all four dams.
It's not a perfect solution (they rarely are) but it's a lot better than nothing.

Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

Stay Off My Lawn!

Queen: You Can Bring Only 3 Choppers, Obama; New rules after the president’s entourage wrecked her garden in 2011
Her majesty insisted President Obama bring no more than three choppers to her 90th birthday celebration.

After his entourage of twelve helicopters ruined the grass in Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor Castle gardens during a 2011 visit, the Obama administration’s attempts to bring an extensive security detail were no match for the Queen’s insistence. . . 

Incidentally, the Queen is the last living European leader to actually serve in WWII:

Fishing Report 4/26/16

Sunrise today found me at "Location X" on a walk on fishing trip with Walleye Pete and 4 other anglers.
Although you can't see much effect in the pictures, there we 15+ kt winds from the WSW. The shore gave us plenty of cover on the Western Shore, but made the later ride across the bay a bit lumpy.
Joseph with a nice one jigged up out of the outflow
 And me with my first of the year top water catch, in the shallow waters around the edge.
Which is not to say I didn't catch fish in the discharge, for example this personal first Mud Shad (also called Gizzard Shad). They really smell bad. Even for a fish.
A look at the Calvert Cliffs with the sun on them.
Our next stop was Cedar Point, to the old ruined lighthouse, just offshore of Patuxent Naval Air Station. Not much happening there fishing wise, and it was rough, so. . .
Our next stop was across the bay at the Honga River Bridge (the original bridge to nowhere, of which the Alaska bridge is a mere imitator). Not much there either, and we moved along
We hit lots of sites, and only a few of them held fish, but some of them were pretty good.
A skinny water Eastern Shore striper.
The weather radio started squawking about 2 PM, and Pete decided it was time to get back across the Bay. The Osprey nesting back at the bridge (they're on every piling around) was happy to see us go.

Court Reinstates Gisele Bundchen's Husband's Deflategate Suspension

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game "Deflategate" suspension imposed by the NFL, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the players union.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled 2-to-1 that Commissioner Roger Goodell did not deprive Brady of "fundamental fairness" with his procedural rulings. The split decision may end the legal debate over the scandal that led to months of football fans arguing over air pressure and the reputation of one of the league's top teams.
Some nonsense about Donald Trump pretending to care eliminate for brevity.

In a majority opinion written by Judge Barrington D. Parker, the 2nd Circuit said its review of labor arbitration awards "is narrowly circumscribed and highly deferential — indeed, among the most deferential in the law."

"Our role is not to determine for ourselves whether Brady participated in a scheme to deflate footballs or whether the suspension imposed by the Commissioner should have been for three games or five games or none at all. Nor is it our role to second-guess the arbitrator's procedural rulings," the opinion said. "Our obligation is limited to determining whether the arbitration proceedings and award met the minimum legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act."
Sounds reasonable to me. And I hope the court made the league and players union (or Brady) pay every stitch of the court costs, and more, for making them take the time to decide for them. I
The 2nd Circuit said the contract between players and the NFL gave the commissioner authority that was "especially broad."

"Even if an arbitrator makes mistakes of fact or law, we may not disturb an award so long as he acted within the bounds of his bargained-for authority," the court said.

In a dissent, Chief Judge Robert Katzmann said Goodell failed to even consider a "highly relevant" alternative penalty.

"I am troubled by the Commissioner's decision to uphold the unprecedented four-game suspension," Katzmann said. "It is ironic that a process designed to ensure fairness to all players has been used unfairly against one player."
Despite all the money that's being thrown around, it's just a game, dammit!

Wombat-socho has the giant "Rule 5 Sunday: Blue Shirt Double-Dip Edition"  ready at The Other McCain.

One Way to Launch a Boat

I've seen worse. Hell, I've done worse.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Baltimore Vows to Fix Sewage Leak, Next Month

Public works officials are urging people to avoid contact with the Chinquapin Run in Northeast Baltimore after discovering hundreds of gallons of sewage have been leaking into it every day for at least three weeks.

A 21-inch sewer main near the stream's intersection with Loch Raven Boulevard is releasing about 15 gallons of sewage into the stream each hour, city officials said Friday. The leak is upstream from where the Chinquapin meets Herring Run on the campus of Morgan State University; from there, the Herring Run flows to the Back River.

Public works crews discovered the leak about three weeks ago.

In about three weeks, they will begin $115,000 in repairs to about 600 feet of the sewer main, officials said. It will take a month to clean and line the weathered main. By the time work begins, at least 15,000 gallons of sewage is estimated to have leaked into the stream.
Maybe they should have thought of that before they start leaking?
Signs have been posted warning people not to come in contact with the water, officials said.

Over the past 13 years, Baltimore has spent $700 million to repair and replace aged sewer pipes under an agreement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of the Environment. But the city missed a deadline to complete work required to stop the leaks by the end of last year, and is negotiating with EPA and MDE on a new deadline perhaps a decade into the future.
I'd much rather swim in the Dominion ash ponds than in the Baltimore sewage.

Down By the River

Student Activists Mourn "Death" of James River
Dominion Energy will begin dumping coal ash wastewater into state waters on April 27th after receiving permits from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  A long string of actions and legal charges against Dominion and the DEQ that have tightened their standards but not enough according to a group of student activists known as The Trillium Collective. This past summer, Dominion illegally dumped 33.7 million gallons of untreated wastewater from toxic coal ash ponds into Quantico Creek and now, these students are concerned about the accountability of both the DEQ and Dominion.

Saturday, April 23rd, The Trillium Collective held a symbolic funeral procession for the contamination of the waterway. The funeral procession started at the General Assembly, passed by Dominion's downtown office, and ended at the James river. Attendees were dressed in all black with a coffin for the James River leading the procession. Other attendees followed with art such as skull masks from the All Saints Theater Company, balls of arsenic and cadmium chained to their feet, or dead fish that read "Death by Dominion." The musicians Dharma Bombs sang hymns like "I'll Fly Away" and "The Saints Come Marching In" while others hummed or wailed in mourning. At the river, mourners shared memories and love for the the passing of the James River that ranged from stories of overcoming depression and fishing to worries for the future for our wildlife and our grandchildren.
What dreck! Other than the music, it sounds kind of like a downer. And where did they get "balls of arsenic and cadmium" to chain to their feet. That stuff is expensive!

I don't think a demonstration is serious if they won't do it nude.
Trillium is  a collective of Virginia Student Environmental Coalition artists and activists, who create and organize for climate justice by combining art and direct action.

"Now that our state water is being legally contaminated we have no choice but to mobilize and inform others. The James River is no longer viable so we have to continue pressuring Dominion and our regulating bodies to improve this situation." -Aaron Tabb, VCU '17

"We wanted to have a funeral to show the gravity of the situation. The river is being killed by Dominion, and the DEQ is letting them get away with it. We chose to do it during Earth Day festivities because the holiday has become superficial, focusing on recycling and conservation without addressing the serious issues that are going to immediately damage our environment. By personifying the river as a passed loved one, we wanted to make people realize that this part of Richmond that we all love is in imminent danger." - Julian McBain, VCU '18
M own belief, formed from years of experience with the ecotoxicology and biogeochemistry of heavy metals, particularly arsenic and cadmium, is that the environment is better served by getting rid of the relatively concentrated material in the waste ponds, which are attractive nuisances to a variety of wildlife, including birds and amphibians.