Monday, June 30, 2014

Detroit Residents Won't Pay for Water

The entitlement mentality run amok - Majority Of Delinquent Detroit Water Customers In Culture Of: ‘You’re Not Making Me Pay,’
Several people protested outside the Detroit Water And Sewerage Department building Thursday, saying customers are having service cut off at an alarming rate and the practice is inhumane.

Organizer David Bullock with the Change Agent Consortium says the water department is going after customers that may be as little as $150 delinquent and says the department ignores large corporations which are behind.

“People always want to attack the poor … why are we attacking poor people?” he asked. But when asked which large companies are behind in their payments, Bullock would only say that WWJ should research the issue.

“I think you all should be standing with us,” Bullock told WWJ’s Marie Osborne. “I think you all should be demanding the same level of accountability for firms and corporations in the city of Detroit – that they are levying on residential customers.” The water department states that there are about 60,000 delinquent accounts in the city of Detroit – with the average arrearage about $560.

City of Detroit Water And Sewerage Department Deputy Director, Darryl Latimer, said every account corporate or private is treated the same, adding that the water department does what they can to work with those who come forward and address their hardship situation. “The majority of our customers (who) are in delinquency status, they just built a culture of ,’You’re not making me pay— I am not going to pay’,” said Latimer.
As a board member of the local water co-op, I would just add that the entitlement philosophy regarding water is not restricted to Detroit.  We have a significant number of people in arrears, some to the same level of mid hundred dollars, and many people just don't pay until the shut off notice is put on their doors.

It costs real money to develop water sources, treat the water, store the water for use, and pump the water to consumers. Why people think it should be their right to get it just for breathing is disheartening. The cheaper something is, the less people value it.

Obamacare Schadenfreude - Working Hard for the Money

A few days worth of accumulated Obamacare Schadenfreude, which despite the storm of VA and IRS scandal, keeps putting out bad news:

Did ObamaCare screw up the GDP report?
Yesterday’s (June 25th, ed.) cliff dive of an economic-growth report from the BEA had a lot of people scratching their heads over the last 24 hours. How exactly did the BEA start with an advance estimate of 0.1% annualized GDP growth in Q1 to a final estimate of -2.9%, a full three points of difference? The Wall Street Journal’s Eric Morath and Louise Radnofsky explain that the BEA bought into the Obama administration model of ObamaCare, and just assumed that the enrollment figures for Medicaid and private insurance on the exchanges meant that a deluge of spending would follow. Instead, the actual numbers turned out to be significantly more sour:
Spending on health-care services declined at a 1.4% annualized pace in the first quarter, compared to an earlier estimate of a 9.1% increase. That revision contributed to a revision of gross domestic product to a 2.9% annualized decline from an earlier estimate of a 1% decline.
The revision in the health-care category was the largest in recent memory, said Nicole Mayerhauser, an official that oversees GDP statistics at the Commerce Department’sBureau of Economic Analysis. …
For the first two estimates of any quarter’s GDP, the Commerce Department doesn’t have direct figures on health-care output. Instead it uses wage and employment data to make estimates. Sometimes government economists consider other measures to augment their approximations.
Initially, they considered Medicaid benefit figures and the number of Americans enrolling in coverage made available under the new health-care law. That data showed an increase in Medicaid outlays and that millions of Americans were signing up for healthcare insurance, leading the Commerce Department to forecast an increase for health outlays.
In the initial reading of first-quarter GDP, released in April, the Commerce Department noted this methodology. With more reliable data now available from a Census survey, those early assumptions have essentially been replaced with more reliable figures.
Ms. Mayerhauser said the Commerce Department doesn’t plan to regularly incorporate data related to the Affordable Care Act into its standard methodologies.
In essence, then, the administration’s assumptions about ObamaCare promoting usage turned out to be incorrect, at least in the short term. Daily Beast analyst Daniel Gross warns that ObamaCare seems to be disturbing health care deliveries, if not the rest of the economy . . .
And the "Death Spiral" takes another whirl. Obamacare's Prognosis Grows Dimmer
A nightmare for Affordable Care Act supporters has been the possibility that only the sick would be left to purchase insurance through its exchanges, driving premiums up and insurers out. While the law’s boosters have been quick to dismiss the possibility that such a so-called death spiral could occur, data published in the Wall Street Journal suggest that this chain of events may not be so far-fetched after all.

The findings are significant not just for what they say about how Obamacare is working now, but also for their impact on the political debate over its future.

At its base, the data show that people insured through the law’s exchanges have higher rates of serious medical conditions. Of the enrollees who have seen a doctor or other health-care provider in the first quarter of this year, 27 percent have significant medical problems, including diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and psychiatric conditions. That rate is substantially higher than that for patients in nonexchange market plans over the same period. And it’s more than double the rate of those who were able to hold onto their existing individual market insurance plans after President Barack Obama was forced to allow them to keep them.
Ya think? Kathleen Sebelius: I 'made some mistakes'
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged Friday that she made mistakes leading up to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, worrying too much about whether there’d be a market for Obamacare and spending “too little time clearly on the technology side.”

“I sure made some mistakes along the way in terms of focusing on some things and not on others,” she said at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Instead of confirming what she was being told about’s readiness “was actually accurate and getting enough eyes and ears on that,” she said she concentrated on the insurers, consumers and regulators who needed to come together in the health exchanges.
You believed the bureaucrats would tell the truth?

Confusion over doctor lists is costly for Obamacare enrollees in California
Limiting the number of medical providers was part of an effort by insurers to hold down premiums. But confusion over the new plans has led to unforeseen medical bills for some patients and prompted a state investigation.

More complaints are surfacing as patients start to use their new coverage bought through Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange.
. . .
Insurers insist that pruning the network of doctors is a crucial cost-cutting measure and a major reason that so many Californians could find affordable coverage in the health law's first year.

"These narrow networks are making a huge difference in terms of affordability," said Mark Morgan, president of Anthem Blue Cross, a unit of industry giant WellPoint Inc. "We found in convincing numbers that people value price above all else."
Giving people skin in the game was part of the point of health care reform, but when done too suddenly, it ends injuring their skin.

And of course, there's another side; make life harder for doctors, and you get less doctors:

Supply won't meet growing demand for primary care
The U.S. is expected to need 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025, according to a study by the Robert Graham Center, which does family medicine policy research. But funding for teaching hospitals that could train thousands more of these doctors expires in late 2015.

Population growth will drive most of the need for family care doctors, accounting for 33,000 additional physicians, the study says. The aging population will require about 10,000 more. The Affordable Care Act is expected to increase the number of family doctors needed by more than 8,000, the study says.

Farzan Bharucha, a health care strategist with consulting firm Kurt Salmon, says the ACA should have focused more on the primary care shortage "because we already knew there was a problem -- and we knew implementation of ACA would potentially make it worse."
But the democrats are resentful of the money doctors make, unlike, say Hillary Clinton, who works hard for her money:

Wombat-socho has the great "Rule 5 Tuesday – Belated Independence Day Weekend Edition" up at The Other McCain.

Why I Like Brazil for the World Cup

Linked at "The Paste", A Poor Mans Conservatarian News Aggregator. Wombat-socho has the great "Rule 5 Tuesday – Belated Independence Day Weekend Edition" up at The Other McCain.

You Think Snakeheads are a Problem?

How would you like wild hippos loose around the region? Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem
What do you mean, I need a root canal?

A herd of hippopotamuses once owned by the late Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar has been taking over the countryside near his former ranch - and no-one quite knows what to do with them.
I guess a place to start is how they taste, and whether there's a market for them in China,
It was in 2007, 14 years after Escobar's death, that people in rural Antioquia, 200 miles north-west of Bogota, began phoning the Ministry of Environment to report sightings of a peculiar animal.

"They found a creature in a river that they had never seen before, with small ears and a really big mouth," recalls Carlos Valderrama, from the charity Webconserva.
He went to look, and found himself faced with the task of explaining to startled villagers that this was an animal from Africa. A hippopotamus.

"The fishermen, they were all saying, 'How come there's a hippo here?'" he recalls. "We started asking around and of course they were all coming from Hacienda Napoles. Everything happened because of the whim of a villain."
But at least he was an animal lover. . .
Situated halfway between the city of Medellin and Bogota, the Colombian capital, Hacienda Napoles was the vast ranch owned by the drugs baron Pablo Escobar. In the early 1980s, after Escobar had become rich but before he had started the campaign of assassinations and bombings that was to almost tear Colombia apart, he built himself a zoo.
This may seem like a small problem, but hippos are the worlds most dangerous wild mammal, according to this article.  And it takes a really big fly rod to land them.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Croak, Croak!

We skipped the beach walk this morning to go croaker fishing.  We took a couple of old rods and reels set with pairs of circle hooks, baited with "Fishbites", artificial bait made from a pasty gel laid on a cloth strip, available in bloodworm, squid and crab flavors.  I had all three, and squid was by far the most productive.

A mild day out; no wind to speak of, temperatures in the high 70s, but not very humid.
Our first stop was out in the far end of the outflow from "Location X", where we caught most of the fish out in 25 feet of water or so. I made let Georgia reel in most of the fish, and she tried every "Wicked Tuna" cliche from "Color!", "Get the harpoon", to "We don't have him 'til we have the tail rope on him"!

We also saw Bald Eagles, Ospreys and a few other boats fishing.
After a partial return from "Location X", we stopped in the shallower waters off the shores of our own beach, and tried there a while.  Shockingly, there were croakers there, too, although they seemed to have preference for the crab flavored fish bites over the squid flavored one.  Same size though, only about 9.5-10 inches (9 inches is the minimum size).  We left with the fish still biting (although, one stole one of my rods out of a rod holder), and when we got home we had 12 croaker and one Norfolk Spot. Thank goodness for electric fillet knives!

Hateful Fish Name Changed

Liberals passed a bill to change this fish’s name because it is “hurtful” and “offensive”
From Breitbart:
The Minnesota Senate approved John Hoffman’s (D-MN) bill to change the name “Asian carp” so called because the species originates from Asia, to “invasive carp”. Since Asian carp were introduced in the U.S. in the 1970′s, the fish have spread to dozens of states causing destruction in the delicate ecosystems of the waterways.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been fighting off the most invasive species, the black carp from China, the Silver carp from Vietnam, and Grass carp from China from spreading into the Great Lakes were the fish could do massive damage the regions fishing industry. While arguing his case on the Senate floor, Hoffman said that referring to the fish as “Asian” was hurtful to some people
What animal is next? Black Bear? Siberian Tiger?
Or how about butterfly names; will the Red Admiral become the Native American Admiral, the Black Swallowtail the African American Swallowtail, the Cabbage White the Cabbage Caucasian? This way lies madness.

Canada Blows Off Obama, Keystone Pipeline

Canada decides to send the oil to China after all.
Claiming it could no longer abide the Obama administration's five-year refusal to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline designed to bring 830,000 barrels a day of much-needed Alberta shale oil to U.S. refineries, the Canadian government recently approved plans for a huge new pipeline and port project to ship that oil to Asia instead.

When completed, the $7.9 billion Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, approved by Canada’s federal government on June 17, will consist of an environmentally safe, 730-mile oil pipeline. It will be capable of moving 600,000 barrels a day of Alberta oil to the pacific coast town of Kitimat, British Columbia, where a new state-of-the-art super tanker port facility will be built to ship the oil to thirsty Asian ports.

It was initially hoped that recent discoveries of massive new Canadian oil and gas reserves could benefit both Canada and the United States by building a safe and reliable pipeline to bring the oil to U.S. refineries in Louisiana and Texas. Building the proposed 1,179-mile Keystone pipeline promised, not just a huge new supply of reliable, clean, and affordable oil to U.S. markets, but the creation of up to 20,000 high-paying construction jobs. An additional 22,000 jobs economists predicted would have resulted from the broader economic stimulus the project would have generated.

Rather than purchasing crude from a friendly and allied neighbor, the United States will most likely need to continue its reliance upon hostile sources like Venezuela. Energy analysts had hoped that construction of Keystone could have replaced almost half of the current U.S. daily crude purchases from that volatile, anti-American dictatorship, depriving Venezuela of the resources it relies upon to stay in power and fund its Cuban allies.

Refusal to approve Keystone has forced suppliers to deliver their flammable crude via thousands of trucks and railcars traveling on America’s highways and railroads, rather than in a pipeline.
So the oil will get produced, processed and burned, in a different, and dirtier way than it would be in the US, with less jobs for US workers.

Mission accomplished, Team Obama!

PSA: CPR Refresher Course

I think I forgot something; I'd better watch it a few more times.

Ripped off from Theo's. Wombat-socho has the great "Rule 5 Tuesday – Belated Independence Day Weekend Edition" up at The Other McCain.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

From the Garden

These pictures are from yesterday, but they could have been from today; the days were nearly identical twins. Temperatures to 85ish, some, but not oppressive humidity, and blue skies.  I even saw this Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) butterfly in the garden both days, or one very much like it.
This is my first sighting of this butterfly this year, and it chose some rather unphotogenic backdrops; in this case, the wet blacktop of our driveway seemed to be its target, sipping some moisture.  I was surprised to see this fact in its entry in
Cannot survive coldest winters; most of North America must be recolonized each spring by southern migrants.
So, did this one fly in from Mexico?

Can you spot the frog?

Rule 5 Saturday - Black Box's Kelly Reilly

This week's Rule 5 special selection is Kelly Reilly, star of ABCs "Black Box", a summer show in which she convincingly plays a crazy lady (is casting a striking redhead as insane typecasting?).  More specifically, she plays a neurologist with severe manic depressive disorder. We discovered it one night when nothing else was on and we were too lazy to check on demand. Yeah, that's what I want, an insane doctor.
An English actress (the British Isles have the highest concentration of the throwback Neanderthal ginger genes of anywhere in the world), after a hefty theater career in British comedy, she switched to drama, and played in a long list of films, including "Dead Bodies" (2003), "The Libertine" (2004), "Mrs Henderson Presents" (2005), "Puffball" (2007) (NSFW links) and "Sherlock Holmes" I and II (2009 and 2011).

We don't predict a long life for this one, so if you want to see her in action, you better hurry.

Crappy Study Shows Neandertal Liked Salad with Steak

Newly discovered 50,000-year-old poop proves the Neanderthals ate better than you do

Scientists discovered 50,000-year-old human poop while excavating the ancient Neanderthal site El Salt, located in Spain near the port of Alicante on the Mediterranean.

“The poop samples come from rock layers dated to roughly 50,000 years ago,” reported USA Today. This sample is much older than any previously found human excrement, including possible 14,000-year-old poop from Oregon and 6,000- to 7,000-year-old poop from Turkey.

Besides being the oldest known coprolite (fossilized dung), this Neanderthal poop holds a different scientific significance: possible proof that Neanderthals ate plants. A study on the findings was published Monday in the journal PLOS One.

Previously data and zooarcheological studies concluded that Neanderthals were mainly carnivorous. This new evidence suggests otherwise. According to the Los Angeles Times:

“Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, researchers studied the powdered samples for traces of stanols and sterols, lipids that are formed in the intestines when gut bacteria act on plant and animal matter.

“The authors said that samples taken from five different areas suggested that Neanderthals predominantly consumed meat, but also had significant plant intake.”
“Neanderthals are primates after all,” lead author Aniara Sistiaga told the Los Angeles Times. “Our findings are solid evidence of a dietary component — plants — that so far has been missing in the fossil record.”
So Salon is willing to insist that Neandertal Man ate better than we did after a study showed that they ate plants?  Even though they might have eaten them as gut contents?  What was it Mark Twain said about science?
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. ~Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883

Friday, June 27, 2014

Homo Bureaucratus

From Smitty at The Other McCain: Homo Bureaucratus Is The Problem
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.–Lord Acton
Over time, even petty amounts of power bring out the Nixon in all of us. Via Instapundit, Mark Fiztgibbons writes:
In America’s first 100 years, federal officials could be sued in state courts for acting beyond their authority. In his book Creating the Administrative Constitution, Yale law professor Jerry Mashaw chronicles how this helped temper bad behavior.
Law professor Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit is among those who believe that government officials need more civil and criminal liability for their bad acts. There are some private remedies on the books, but they are too weak to be effective.
Liability is not nothing, but I think it’s peripheral to the issue of concentrating power. Power makes cocaine look like talcum. Witness Cochran’s cheerful apparent flouting of the rules in the Mississippi GOP senatorial runoff. Likely not a surfeit of altruism in his case.

There still is no work-around for the need to have offices, and for officials to occupy them. However, in our Information Age, there isn’t any excuse for the rules being other than simple, understandable, and open to all. Furthermore, the kind of ball-hogging we see with career bureaucrats is clearly a 20th century holdover. Thus, other than the military, I submit that about a 10 year cap on all civil service positions would make sense. Keep the job simple, let people do the job, and let them get out of the way for someone else.
Let’s term-limit the corruption in our government down to an absolute minimum, say I. Homo bureaucratus is not the solution.
An interesting notion, but I still prefer my "modest proposal" for a political affirmative action plan for the federal bureaucracy.  Fire half of them (they're all democrats) and replace them with a mixture of republicans, greens, libertarians in proportion to their prevalence in the voting public, and let them police each other.

In the meantime, this image of Homo bureaucratus dealing with Tea Party 401(c)(3) applications:

And I finally get around to acknowledging Wombat-socho's "Rule 5 Monday: Air-Cooled" several days late.

Pelosi Heads to Border to Greet Illegal Immigrants

Think Of The U.S. As Walmart, And Nancy Pelosi As A Demented Greeter
Botox Barbie puts a cosmetically crafted smile on matters:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will travel to the southern border of the U.S. on Saturday to be briefed by Customs and Border Protection on the flood of unaccompanied minors entering the country.
The California Democrat will also meet with a group of children held at the South Texas Detention Facility.
“The humanitarian crisis unfolding across our nation’s southern border demands Congress come together and find thoughtful, compassionate and bipartisan solutions,” Pelosi said. “We must ensure our laws are fully enforced, so that due process is provided to unaccompanied children and the safety and well-being of unaccompanied children is protected. We must also work to address the root causes of the problem.”
I guess there is probably some fool in Portland, Oregon who doesn’t think this so-called “humanitarian crisis” isn’t some kind of manufactured Cloward-Piven event. I sincerely hope that nothing bad happens to Princess Pelosi while she’s getting her photo op on. She’ll get her justice before the Almighty, and she certainly doesn’t deserve any martyrdom.
Smitty has more faith in divine retribution than I do.

I've been watching the events on the border, and thinking Cloward-Piven thoughts, and chastising myself for thinking that democrats could be evil enough to flood the country with illegal immigrants in hopes of making enough of them wards of the state/citizens to cement their demographic advantage with them forever. I will no long chastise myself:

Dems block GOP bills to verify status, block tax credits to illegal immigrants
Senate Democrats blocked Republicans on Thursday from passing two bills that would require companies to verify the legal status of people before they hire them, and stop the government from handing out child tax credits to illegal immigrants.

Sessions tried to get approval for the two bills after saying illegal immigration is swamping the U.S., which is leading to reduce wages for Americans and higher costs as these immigrants start improperly receiving federal tax benefits.
American Born Workers Struggle To Compete With Immigrants
The Center for Immigration Studies released a study to mark the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill on Friday, discrediting the notion that adding millions more workers through comprehensive immigration reform is necessary due to a coming labor shortage.

Analyzing statistics from the Census Bureau, the report found that native-born U.S. citizens have struggled to compete with both illegal and legal immigrants for more than a decade.

“The findings show that employment growth has been weak over the last 14 years and has not kept pace with population growth and new immigration,” the report said. “Among the working-age (16 to 65), what employment growth there has been has entirely gone to immigrants (legal and illegal).”
Rahall comment on coal miners stirs GOP ire
A comment Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., made to political blog Politico has sparked fierce backlash from conservative groups.

Rahall, speaking to reporter Erica Martinson for a series on how national policy issues are affecting 2014 midterm elections, said substance abuse is a big reason coal miners can’t find jobs in Southern West Virginia.

“Times are tough,” he told Martinson. “People turn to drugs — no question about it. Our coal companies can’t hire coal miners because they can’t pass a drug test.”
His argument has a certain circularity to it; miners take drugs because they can't find work, and miners can't find work because they take drugs.

Beach Report 6/27/14

Just a quick report this morning.  After breakfast in the big town of Prince Frederick, we came home for a beach walk while it was still a little cool.  Temperatures are in the upper 70s, and as you can see, the sky was cloudless and the humidity is creeping up.  We beat the crowd and had the whole beach to ourselves all the way up, and only encountered a few on the way back.
The local osprey on the hunt.  Yesterday (that I didn't report, I saw an Eagle steal a fish from and Osprey.  As the Osprey approached the shore carrying a fish, the Eagle came out of the trees, chased the Osprey to where he could get above the Osprey; who immediately seeing the goal was scored, dropped the fish and flew off while the Eagle snagged the fish in midair. All in all, it was a pretty perfunctory performance by both birds.
We walked a long way up today, not because the fossil hunting was great(we only got 15 teeth and a complete chevron of ray plate), but because it was such a nice day.  The Horseshoe Crab is just a molt, nothing inside to stink.

In Honor of the World Cup

It's old, but it has so many things that need to be said.

And I finally get around to acknowledging Wombat-socho's "Rule 5 Monday: Air-Cooled" several days late.

One Hump or Two?

Two humps makes this one a Bactrian Camel.

A lumpy, bumpy, grumpy camel,
Had bright white type tooth enamel,
Wrapped herself in flowered flannel,
Said I’m such a special mammal...
But one mistake, some people make,
Is one that makes me feel irate,
They think there’s water in my hump,
And that’s just why, I’m such a grump,

(2 humps)
Or Dromedary,
(1 hump)
Our humps are there,
But they don’t carry,
Water, food, or hearts that thump,
Each one's just a fat-filled bump…
Georgia and I did better than that . . .

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why Do 39 Legislators Hate the Bay?

A group of 39 lawmakers is urging a federal court to block EPA plan to clean up the Bay
A group of 39 lawmakers is urging a federal court to block the Obama administration’s plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed, describing it as an unjustified power grab.

The filing in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia puts the lawmakers alongside 21 attorneys general who already oppose the cleanup, a case testing the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act. The filing was submitted late last week.

Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and David Vitter of Louisiana, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, signed onto the opposition brief, as well as Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary and Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.

The filing comes after the court’s deadline for submitting legal papers in the case. But the lawmakers argue they have a special interest in weighing in, saying the EPA went too far in negotiating a 2010 agreement that sets pollution limits in the nation’s largest estuary.
Given the way the Supreme Court recently rolled over, and gave the EPA almost unlimited power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources, I suspect this court filing is essentially a waste of toner. However, some year we may yet discover the downside of giving the EPA the power to regulate everything on the tenuous theory that everything affects the environment, and the EPA has jurisdiction over the environment.

The IRS War on the GOP

As found in Wombat-socho's "Live at Five: 06.26.14" this morning: Emails Show Lois Lerner of IRS sought audit of Senator Grassley
Congressional investigators say they uncovered emails Wednesday showing that a former Internal Revenue Service official sought an audit involving U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa in 2012.

Republicans quickly viewed former IRS official Lois Lerner's actions as an attempt to initiate a baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican senator. Grassley called the situation "very troubling" and said it's the kind of thing that fuels deep concerns about political targeting by the IRS.

The emails show Lerner mistakenly received an invitation to an event that was meant to go to Grassley, a Republican.

The event organizer apparently offered to pay for Grassley's wife to attend the event.
Instead of forwarding the invitation to Grassley's office, Lerner emailed another IRS official to suggest referring the matter for an audit, saying it might be inappropriate for the group to pay for his wife.

"Perhaps we should refer to exam?" Lerner wrote.
Attempted enforcement of said "rule" on the Clintons might have been amusing.

The IRS, the enforcement arm of the pro big government bureaucracy has been pursuing an undeclared war on the the party of smaller (not no) government years ago. It's long past time for the Republicans to realize their left flank is under attack by the entire bureaucracy, and treat them accordingly.  Stop feeding them,

Or adopt my "modest plan" to make them pay fair with political affirmative action; fire of those in place now, and replace them with republicans up and down the ranks, and thereafter make hiring be proportional to the number composition of the House of Representatives, and let them keep an eye on each other.

I Take No Position On This

I would be afraid Maryland might like the idea and tax it, too: D.C. Council votes to keep ‘yoga tax’ as part of tax-cutting budget deal

Council members approved a city sales tax on gym memberships and yoga classes for the first time Tuesday, over the objections of people who called it a “wellness tax” or “yoga tax.” The roughly $5 million it would generate yearly would be used to partially offset a package of tax cuts that could leave as much as $143 million a year in taxpayers’ pockets.

A vote to reject an amendment that would have canceled the sales tax expansion and a subsequent vote to approve the broader budget deal also represented a victory for the council chairman, Phil Mendelson (D), who orchestrated the District’s most significant tax breaks in 15 years.

Mendelson was acting on dozens of recommendations made by the D.C. Tax Revision Commission, a blue-ribbon panel that concluded an 18-month examination of the District’s revenue structure late last year. The overhaul provoked the wrath of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) — not to mention the scorn of gym owners and members unhappy about the sales tax expansion — and financial officials had questioned whether the new budget is viable.

But Mendelson kept the support of his colleagues through crucial votes Tuesday. Nine of 13 council members rejected the anti-gym-tax amendment offered by David A. Catania (I-At Large), a mayoral candidate, who argued that it would discourage personal fitness.

“It’s a penny-wise and pound-foolish proposition,” he said on the council dais, to cheers from the audience. “We are looking at increased and deferred health costs in the long run.”

Mendelson said Catania’s concerns were unfounded and that there was little evidence that a 5.75 percent sales tax would discourage gym membership. “We have a sales tax on restaurants and alcohol that’s significantly greater . . . and we have seen restaurant activity boom over the last several years in the District.”
So what you you rather do, eat and drink or work out?

Linked at Proof Positive in the "Weekly Best of the Web" and at the DaleyGator in "Saturday Evening/Sunday Morning links." And I finally get around to acknowledging Wombat-socho's "Rule 5 Monday: Air-Cooled" several days late.

A Close Encounter of the Bear Kind

It's a good thing they'd rather eat salmon than people

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More Missing Emails

At the EPA this time. I'm shocked, shocked:
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy confirmed to the House Oversight Committee Wednesday that her staff is unable to provide lawmakers all of the documents they have requested on the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, because of a 2010 computer crash.

“We’re having trouble getting the data off of it and we’re trying other sources to actually supplement that,” McCarthy said. “We’re challenged in figuring out where those small failures might have occurred and what caused them occur, but we’ve produced a lot of information.”

The revelation came less than two weeks after IRS officials told Congress that Lois Lerner, the official at the center of the controversy over the targeting of conservative tax-exempt groups, also suffered from a hard drive crash that makes it difficult to comply with records requests.
What did government employees blame before they had hard drives to crash?

From a tangentially related post at Aces's
This is over suspicions that the EPA was not exactly fair in their approach to the Pebble Mine environmental impact study; that some of their staff, one Phillip North, had decided to shit can it from the get go.
The committee suspects that Phillip North, who worked for the EPA in Alaska, decided with his colleagues to veto the proposed Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay in 2009, before the agency even began researching its potential impacts on the environment. Committee staffers have been trying for about a year to interview North, but he has been in New Zealand and refuses to cooperate, they said.

“We have tried to serve a subpoena on your former employee and we have asked for the failed hard drive from this Alaskan individual who now is in New Zealand, and seems to never be returning,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, said Wednesday.

Emails provided by the committee show that EPA told congressional investigators about the hard drive crash months ago. But McCarthy said she only told the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) about the problem Tuesday.
This is not the first time the EPA has had email issues. In the past, I have also detailed how former EPA czar (or should that be Commissar) Lisa Jackson and other EPA officials had a second email account under the name Richard Winston, to conduct EPA business.  Was it used to conduct business that they didn't want FOIAd?  Almost certainly

And reaching back to 2001, at the end of the (first?) Clinton administration:
In the midst of all the sound and fury surrounding the case of My Dog At my E-mails at the IRS, Sharyl Attkisson has dug up a little noted piece of government history which reminds us that federal agencies have plenty of experience in playing fast and loose with the rules. More than a decade ago, the EPA was found to have pulled a similar stunt, but they were far less oblique about it when caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
According to an Associated Press report, a federal judge has held the EPA in contempt for destroying computer files sought after by a conservative group: Landmark Legal Foundation…
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had ordered the EPA on Jan. 19, 2001, at the end of the Clinton administration, to preserve all documents relevant to a Freedom of Information Act request by Landmark regarding the federal agency’s contact with outside groups. That same day, EPA Administrator Carol Browner asked a technician to delete her computer files. Browner later testified that she was unaware of the court order and simply wanted to remove some games from her work computer.
According to AP, EPA officials later admitted wiping clean the computer files from Browner and other top staff despite Lamberth’s order.
You can find the original AP report from 2003 here. The details of the story are beyond simply suspicious and quite reminiscent of the current escapades at the IRS. The judge’s initial order was issued on January 19, 2001, the day before the end of the Clinton administration. The EPA was ordered to preserve “all documents that might be relevant to a Freedom of Information Act” which had been filed by Landmark.
If you keep letting them get away with it, they'll keep doing it.

But there is some evidence that folk are finding the EPA a shitty place to work: EPA Directive to EPA Employees: Serious You Guys, Stop Pooping on the Floor
Animal House. It appears... that a regional [EPA] office has reached a new low:
Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.
In the email, obtained by Government Executive, Deputy Regional Administrator Howard Cantor mentioned "several incidents" in the building, including clogging the toilets with paper towels and "an individual placing feces in the hallway" outside the restroom.
"Placing" them. Like he was moving around Hummel figurines to find the best positioning.

I would have said "depositing" them. It's classier.
You must be shittin' me...

Bay Expecting a Nasty Summer

Scientists predict above-average dead zone for Chesapeake Bay
Scientists expect the Chesapeake Bay to see an above-average dead zone this summer, due to the excess nitrogen that flowed into the Bay from the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers this spring.

Dead zones, or areas of little to no dissolved oxygen, form when nutrient-fueled algae blooms die and decompose. The latest dead zone forecast predicts an early-summer oxygen-free zone of 0.51 cubic miles, a mid-summer low-oxygen zone of 1.97 cubic miles and a late-summer oxygen-free zone of 0.32 cubic miles. This forecast was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is based on models developed at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the University of Michigan.
So how is that "Bay Diet" going?

Yes, I know, the size of the anoxic zone is dependent on winter and spring weather, where wet, snowy weather (say, like this year) bring in more nutrients which feed the algae that die, and sink and rot and use up the oxygen and produce the dead zones, so there is a lot of year to year variation.

Still, shouldn't we be seeing something for all the money that's being spent?

Beach Report 6/25/14

Life got in the way of going to the beach until later this afternoon.  It's warm, and getting muggy today, and the sky is full of big stormy looking clouds, on and off; we're expecting storms later this evening. Wind was about 15 mph from the south, bringing in the warm, muggy air.
 How about a beer?
No thanks, but do you have a bunny? I like bunnies.
The Trumpet Vine (also called Trumpet Creeper) is in full flower. Too bad there is a distinct dearth of humming birds to take advantage of it.
 Another fuzzy friend poses for a portrait.
Looking south towards CCNPP and the Dominion Gas Docks (that later barely visible in this unzoomed photo)

Redhead Beats the Rap

Rebekah Brooks cleared in phone hacking trial
 . . .Andy Coulson has been been found guilty in the phone hacking trial, but his co-defendant, Rebekah Brooks has been cleared of all charges.

Coulson, who edited the News of the World before becoming Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman, now faces prison after the jury returned a guilty verdict in dramatic scenes at the Old Bailey.

But Mrs Brooks, who edited The Sun and the News of the World before promotion to News International chief executive, was exonerated after being cleared of conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to corrupt public officials and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

She was overcome by emotion on hearing the verdicts and was taken away by the court matron.

Mrs Brooks had always denied any knowledge of illegal activities at the Sun and the News of the World and after a seven month trial the jury accepted her version of events.

The trial, which has been one of the longest and most expensive in British criminal history, heard allegations of how journalists working at the News of the World and The Sun, under the stewardship of Mrs Brooks and Coulson, routinely broke the law in pursuit of exclusive stories.
I didn't follow this story closely (I mean, who cares if the press listens in on the royals talk about how they would like to be tampons), especially if they can't be bothered to change the default password on their smart phones, but I always thought that they dragged Rebekah into this to get back at Rupert Murdoch. And as a ginger she has that soulless thing going on.

And I finally get around to acknowledging Wombat-socho's "Rule 5 Monday: Air-Cooled" several days late.

Ho Hum, IRS Breaks Another Law

From the top of Wombat-socho's "Live at Five: 06.25.14"Archivist Faults IRS For Not Reporting Loss Of E-Mails
The Internal Revenue Service did not follow the law when it failed to report a hard drive crash that destroyed emails belonging to a senior official at the center of a scandal over the agency’s treatment of conservative-leaning political groups, the nation’s top archivist said Tuesday.

“In accordance with the Federal Records Act, when an agency becomes aware of an incident of unauthorized destruction, they must report the incident to us,” said David S. Ferriero, the chief archivist at the National Archives.

Mr. Ferriero made his remarks at a congressional hearing examining the 2011 disappearance of emails sent and received by Lois Lerner, the former I.R.S. official who is accused of politically motivated mistreatment of Tea Party-aligned groups seeking tax exemptions.

Mr. Ferriero would not say that anyone at the I.R.S. committed a crime, only that the agency “did not follow the law.” He said he learned of the missing emails on June 13, when the agency made the disclosure in a filing to Congress.
Like President Obama, he must get his news by reading the New York Time, which managed to get news of the IRS scandal onto page A19 (frankly, I'm shocked they even have a page A19).

Honestly, I suspect this law is widely flouted within the agencies. As I've noted before, in the same era, the Smithsonian was telling us to prune our e-mails heavily, and archive them only onto our local drives because of insufficient storage capability in the central servers. Basically, they were telling us to throw away useless and storage occupying email, with no plan to save them for the long term.  If that's not planned destruction of public records, I don't know what else it is.

If Ferriero and his staff wanted to be notified every time I deleted an email which said there were potted plants or furniture up for grab at a museum 40 miles away, well, put me in jail now.

It Blew Them Away

Literally. . .

And I finally get around to acknowledging Wombat-socho's "Rule 5 Monday: Air-Cooled" several days late.

The Determined Bird

But what the heck is going on in the background?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Virginia Cuts Crab Harvest

But not very much: Va. officials reduce female blue crab harvest limit
Whatever the reason, the number of female blue crabs in the Chesapeake have fallen below the level considered safe, and state officials on Tuesday made a move they hope will reverse the trend.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted to reduce the pounds of female crabs watermen can harvest in the Chesapeake Bay by 10 percent starting on July 5. The rule will last for one year.

Female crab numbers have fallen to an estimated 69 million, just below the minimum of 70 million, according to most recent annual winter survey of crabs. Overall, crabs are at their lowest levels since 2008.

The last time the number of females fell this low was in 2002, when 55 million were present. The estimates are based on samples from 1,500 sites around the bay.

The 10-percent reduction will be achieved by lowering bushel limits on female crabs.
A 10% reduction is probably within the noise band of the population estimates, and almost certainly within the error (shortage) on the reported harvest, so the reduction is mostly for appearances.  If they were serious about protecting crabs, they'd cut back the harvest more like 20-50%.

That said, crab recruitment and harvest is highly variable from year to year without much apparent cause (it's probably weather), and it's just as likely for there to be a banner crop next year, and if that happens they'll be quick to claim credit.

In other crab news, Crabs cringe at sound of predators
In horror flicks, creepy soundtracks are used to help scare the living daylights out of people. In a lab, two researchers used a similar device to freak out mud crabs in an effort to prove they can hear.

The researchers placed the crabs in a big tank and piped in sounds commonly made by fish that eat them. The crabs were scared stiff.

When mating calls and nest defense grunts of hardhead catfish and black drum fish played through an underwater speaker, the crabs didn’t dare venture out to dine on the juicy, defenseless juvenile clams the researchers set out for them.
I wonder if they've learned to fear watermen's voices.

IRS Admits Felony, Gets Wrist Slapped

IRS Admits Wrongdoing, to Pay $50,000 in Leaking of Marriage Group’s Tax Return
The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”
Doug Shulman, former IRS Commissioner
The $50,000, determined to be NOM legal costs and not punitive damages, should be taken out of the former Commissioner of the IRS's pension for permitting such shenanigans.
In February 2012, the Human Rights Campaign posted on its web site NOM’s 2008 tax return and the names and contact information of the marriage group’s major donors, including soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. That information then was published by the Huffington Post and other liberal-leaning news sites.

HRC’s president at the time, Joe Solmonese, was tapped that same month as a national co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Eastman said an investigation in the civil lawsuit determined that someone gave NOM’s tax return and list of major donors to Boston-based gay rights activist Matthew Meisel. Email correspondence from Meisel revealed that he told a colleague of “a conduit” to obtain the marriage group’s confidential information.

Testifying under oath in a deposition as part of the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Meisel invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself and declined to disclose the identity of his “conduit.”
So the investigation is shut down for lack of information, again.  Somehow, I'll bet those e-mails are lost too. The NOM has requested that Meisel be offered immunity and forced to reveal his IRS source, but Eric Holder would have to agree to that, so that's almost certainly a no starter.
Unauthorized disclosure of confidential tax information is a felony offense that can result in five years in prison, but the Department of Justice did not bring criminal charges.
Hey, remember when even trying to use the IRS as a political weapon against your enemies was worth a mention in articles of impeachment?  Good times!

"I Don't Know the Law, But I'm Sure We Didn't Break It"

"You have already said, multiple times today, that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing," Gowdy said. "I want you to tell me: What criminal statutes you have evaluated?"

"I have not looked at any," the IRS commissioner admitted.

"Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there is no criminal wrongdoing if you don't even know what statutes to look at?" Gowdy followed-up.
"Because I've seen no evidence that anyone consciously --"

"Well how would you know what elements of the crime existed? You don't even know what statutes are in play," Gowdy said, visibly annoyed. "I'm going to ask you again: What statutes have you evaluated?"

"Uh," the IRS commissioner stumbled, "I think you can rely on common sense--"
A couple of interesting thoughts here.  First, Koskinen is relying on the concept of "mens rea", or guilty mind as the test for whether or not laws have been broken by the IRS. His implicit argument is that if the IRS didn't think they were breaking the law, then they weren't breaking the law.  And the notion that common sense is sufficient guide to behavior in the world of bureaucracy, is belied by the fact that there are so many laws and regulations that, at leas according to some estimates, many of us commit at least three felonies a day without even knowing it.

And another tidbit, in the ongoing IRS scandal, is that Koskinen is a major democratic donor, donating more than $100,000 to the Democrats and the Democratic party:
Koskinen has been contributing to Democrats for four decades, starting with a $1000 contribution to Democratic candidate for Colorado Senate candidate Gary Hart in 1979.

Koskinen has been a reliable donor over the years, contributing a total of $19,000 to the Democratic National Committee from 1988 to 2008. He has made a contribution to the Democratic candidate for president in each election since 1980, including $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and $5000 to Obama in 2012.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has received $3,000 from Koskinen since 2008, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee received $2,000 from 2004 to 2006.

Hillary Clinton has received $3,800 for her various political campaigns from Koskinen.

Koskinen’s most recent contribution was $2,500 to Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) in February of 2013.
You'd think that $100,000 would buy you a better position than the head of an unpopular agency enmeshed in scandal, like maybe Ambassador to the Seychelles or something.

It's certainly not illegal for Koskinen to have donated this way, but after the fuss raised by Harry Reid over the Koch brothers, turn about is surely fair play.

Obamacare Schadenfreude Catch Up

It's been a few days since I put up an Obamacare Schadenfreude post, mostly because the news has slowed after the enrollment ended, and the VA and IRS scandals sucked all the oxygen out of the atmosphere, giving the administration time to formulate a new round of excuses.  But a few have come up, so having a few minutes to kill, here goes:

As health-care law’s employer mandate nears, firms cut worker hours, struggle with logistics
So when the health-care law went into effect, Settles acted quickly. In September, he offered health insurance to dozens of his employees to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which requires all but the smallest businesses to extend coverage to their full-time workers. He put in new systems to track employee hours and provide the data to the government. All this well before the employer mandate kicks in next year.

But unlike Settles’s other experiments, this one hasn’t been great for his business. He put raises and expansion plans on hold as he figured out the cost and logistics of making the changes. To his surprise, his employees have not leaped at the chance to get health insurance. And he is still trying to figure some things out — for example, how to safeguard employee information that must now be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, such as the Social Security numbers of children who are covered under their parents’ health plans.

“We don’t want to be liable for that,” he said. “What if we get hacked?”
In recent weeks, criticism of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate — one of the law’s most controversial components — has intensified, as employers such as Settles complain publicly and even some Obama administration allies acknowledge that the mandate has harmed some workers.
Don't worry, whenever anything goes wrong, the administration will blame it on the employers.

Yet more health care plans you may like but won’t be able to keep
Fixing Obamacare, as opposed to repealing it, is all the rage these days, and there are no shortage of proposals out there to do so. But they don’t all come from the GOP. One measure from Health and Human Services currently making its way through the bureaucratic machine may wind up having Democrats doing battle with the Health Insurance Guru in Chief. In this proposed enhancement, insurance companies would be prohibited from selling fixed-benefit insurance plans as stand-alone policies.
A little-known proposed change to the president’s health care law could result in a new political nightmare for Democrats who are vulnerable in the 2014 midterm elections. says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposal in March that would prohibit insurers from selling fixed-benefit insurance plans as stand-alone policies.
Fixed-benefit plans are so bare bones they don’t even qualify as actual health insurance under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate – so people who are covered by these plans only are still subject to the penalty unless they qualify for an exemption.
These sorts of plans, with low prices but fixed, limited benefits, are described as being most likely to be held by people looking for a supplement to an existing, lower coverage policy or those seeking a bridge remedy when they are between jobs. Not a panacea for most health insurance shoppers to be sure, but a useful tool to have available if you’re looking for some flexibility when money is tight.
No room for flexibility for the worker in these plans.  It's always Obama's way or the highway.

Spin, spin again, sweet spiral of death: Obamacare’s newly insured report being less healthy than average adults
Gallup reported on Monday that a 5 percent of Americans were insured in 2014, 2.8 percent of those were newly insured through the exchanges while another 2.2 percent received insurance through other means. What’s more, 29 percent of those who received insurance in 2014 were under the age of 29.

While those newly insured may be young, however, they are certainly not invincible.
“[T]he newly insured using exchanges in the April-June reporting period are less likely than those in the general population to report being in “very good” or “excellent” health,” Gallup reported. “Thirty-eight percent of those using an exchange for their new policies reported being in very good or excellent health, compared with 50% of the general population.”

Moreover, Gallup estimates that around 13 percent of the population of the United States remains uninsured. A new round of open enrollment, set to begin on November 15, already has administrators considering an increase in fines for those without minimum coverage requirements in order to boost ACA enrollment.
So much for using the young, healthy "invincibles" shoring up this exercise in socialism.

Hope's on the Ropes

Hope Solo was arrested for domestic violence in Seattle early Saturday morning on June 21, the Seattle Times reports. The U.S. Olympic gold medalist soccer player reportedly got into a scuffle with her sister and nephew at her home.

According to the site, the fight left Solo's relatives with "visible injuries." One cop said that there was "a big party going on" and it was an "out of control situation."

The 32-year-old Dancing With the Stars alum—who is the goalkeeper for the Seattle Reign FC—was arrested and is being held without bail for two counts of domestic violence assault. (In October 2011, the athlete accused her DWTS partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy of becoming physically aggressive during their season 11 rehearsals in her book, Solo: A Memoir of Hope.)
Brought to my attention (again) by Wombat-socho in "Live at Five: 06.23.14"

But the real story, at least to Stacy McCain, is that, shockingly enough, Hope is an open heterosexual:
A soccer player is a violent criminal? This isn’t really news, is it? But the real scandal is buried deeper in the story:
Two years ago, former [University of Washington] and NFL player Jerramy Stevens was arrested for allegedly assaulting Solo. Hours later, the couple married; the charges were later dropped.
A female athlete is heterosexual? Married to a man?

This is a shocking revelation because, as everybody knows, the entire purpose of women’s professional sports leagues is to provide young girls with lesbian role models. WNBA attendance is comprised primarily of lesbian basketball coaches who bring girls from their youth-league and high-school teams to the games so they can watch their professional lesbian heroes in action. There have been rumors some WNBA players were heterosexual, but nobody believes that kind of malicious gossip. . .
I think his tongue might be firmly planted in his cheek, but it's so hard to know these days.

BTW, Hope plead not guilty today:
Solo, dressed in a white shirt and black pants, said little, telling the judge "I do" when asked if she understood the domestic violence assault charges filed against her.
And fresh this morning, via Wombat-socho's "Live at Five: 06.24.14",  Hope's Nephew says "Hope called me a pussy so I pulled a gun on her."
Hope Solo's 17-year-old nephew told police he PULLED A GUN on the soccer star to try to get her to stop attacking him ... but it didn't work ... this according to docs obtained by TMZ Sports.

The boy told cops ... 32-year-old Hope appeared to be drinking when she came over to the nephew's Seattle-area home and was upset because she missed a flight.

The boy says Hope thought the boy was talking smack about her and got agitated ... and then told the boy he would never be a pro athlete because he was "too fat and crazy."
The boy says he walked into another room -- but Hope followed and "called me a p**sy because I called my mom."

"I then told her to get her c*nt face out of my house," the boy said to police.

That's when allegedly Hope went on the attack -- grabbing the boy's hair and repeatedly punching him.