Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Chick Takes On the Chief

Russia gets new candidate for president: The daughter of Putin’s political mentor
 Ksenia Sobchak — the socialite, journalist, former opposition figure and daughter of Vladimir Putin’s political mentor — announced her candidacy for president Wednesday, courting a protest vote in a presidential bid that appeared to get official approval from the Kremlin.

In a campaign statement in the Russian daily Vedomosti that barely mentioned Putin and focused instead on public dissatisfaction with Russian politics, she said that she was “outside of ideology” and not a fan of Russia’s annexation of Crimea (though she denied being against it).

“I am ‘against all,’ ” she wrote, announcing her candidacy. “You are not for Sobchak, you are voting against all — against Yavlinsky, Zyuganov, and Putin.” The first two refer to opposition candidates Grigory Yavlinsky and Gennady Zyuganov. Putin, who has not announced his candidacy despite the elections being less than six months off, has been president or prime minister of Russia since 1999.

In the past six months, Russia has seen a rise in protest sentiment among young people in high school and college, and the government is looking to channel that anger into a safe political movement. Those young protesters were largely inspired by the anti-corruption whistleblower and protest leader Alexei Navalny, who has been disqualified from running by multiple felony charges that he claims are politically motivated.

Sobchak announced her candidacy on the independent TV Rain channel. Half an hour earlier, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s personal spokesman, told the channel that her candidacy was seen as legitimate by the Kremlin.

“If I understand correctly, Ksenia fully falls under the provision of our Constitution,” he said. “She is a Russian citizen who, according to the Constitution, may run for president, naturally, after the completion of all necessary procedures and formalities, which are also spelt out in our laws.”

Sobchak is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the former St. Petersburg mayor who hired a young Putin as his deputy mayor in the tumultuous 1990s. It has been rumored, though never confirmed, that Ksenia Sobchak is Putin’s goddaughter.

Sobchak’s father died in 2000. Her mother, Lydumila Narusova, is a former member of Russia’s upper house of parliament. Sobchak, who is not backed by a political party, must collect 300,000 signatures to register as an independent candidate. She has an Instagram account with 5.2 million followers and is a regular guest at black-tie events.

Putin has not said that he plans to step down. He has been in power since New Year’s Eve 1999, when President Boris Yeltsin announced he was stepping down. Putin, who has shuffled between the presidency and the role of prime minister, has been in power for more than 6,630 days, a month longer than former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev’s 6,601 days in office.
They could do worse, and probably will.

Reason #5749 That Trump Was Elected

Nine months after President Trump promised to defeat ISIS "quickly and effectively," U.S.-backed forces captured Raqqa, which until Tuesday had served as the ISIS capital. The battle now is over who deserves credit: Trump or President Obama.

Trump, not surprisingly, claims it for himself: "It had to do with the people I put in and it had to do with rules of engagement," Trump said in a radio interview.

Before dismissing this as typical Trump self-aggrandizement, consider that for several years Obama insisted that a quick and decisive victory against ISIS was all but impossible.

After belittling ISIS as a "JV" team and then being surprised by its advances, Obama finally got around to announcing a strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the militant Islamic group.

As his strategy dragged on and seemed to go nowhere, Obama kept telling the country that this was just the nature of the beast. "It will take time to eradicate a cancer like (ISIS). It will take time to root them out."

"This is a long-term and extremely complex challenge."

"This will not be quick."

"There will be setbacks and there will be successes."

"We must be patient and flexible in our efforts; this is a multiyear fight and there will be challenges along the way."

And he kept insisting that winning the war against ISIS has as much to do with public relations as it did weapons. "This broader challenge of countering extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas."

What Obama didn't say is that reason defeating ISIS was taking so long was of how he was fighting it.

A former senior military commander in the region told the Washington Examiner that the Obama White House was micromanaging the war "to the degree that it was just as bad, if not worse, than during the Johnson administration." Johnson, you will recall, once bragged that "they can't bomb an outhouse in Vietnam without my permission."

Contrast this with Trump. Rather than talk endlessly about how long and hard the fight would be, Trump said during his campaign that, if elected, he would convene his "top generals and give them a simple instruction. They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS." . . .
Turns out that to win a war you actually have to hate the enemy, and try to kill him, deny them land and materials.

For as long as there have been men, there has been war, big or small, and the scheme is pretty simple. Attack and kill the enemy, take over their territory and their means of subsistence, until they give up.

Somewhere along the line progressives, as they usually do, decided that that was all wrong. Coddle the enemy, and give them safe space to flourish. It worked so well in Vietnam, they decided to use it a general principle.

Midnite Music - "Johann Sebastian Bach, Sonata II BWV 1003, Fuga"

Tatyana Ryzhkova
I don’t practice at the day of the concert. It’s too late. I mean, if you cannot play this one or that one difficult passage two days before, it doesn’t help you if you’ll play it the whole day until your entrance on the stage. The only thing that could help you at this moment is to relax and pray.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Reason #5748 That Trump Was Elected

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt​
WASHINGTON (October 16, 2017) – In fulfilling his promise to end the practice of regulation through litigation that has harmed the American public, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an Agency-wide directive today designed to end “sue and settle” practices within the Agency, providing an unprecedented level of public participation and transparency in EPA consent decrees and settlement agreements.

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress. Additionally, gone are the days of routinely paying tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to these groups with which we swiftly settle.”

Over the years, outside the regulatory process, special interest groups have used lawsuits that seek to force federal agencies – especially EPA – to issue regulations that advance their interests and priorities, on their specified timeframe. EPA gets sued by an outside party that is asking the court to compel the Agency to take certain steps, either through change in a statutory duty or enforcing timelines set by the law, and then EPA will acquiesce through a consent decree or settlement agreement, affecting the Agency’s obligations under the statute.

More specifically, EPA either commits to taking an action that is not a mandatory requirement under its governing statutes or agrees to a specific, unreasonable timeline to act. Oftentimes, these agreements are reached with little to no public input or transparency. That is regulation through litigation, and it is inconsistent with the authority that Congress has granted and the responsibility to operate in an open and fair manner.

“Sue and settle” cases establish Agency obligations without participation by states and/or the regulated community; foreclose meaningful public participation in rulemaking; effectively force the Agency to reach certain regulatory outcomes; and, cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars.

With today’s directive, Administrator Pruitt is ensuring the Agency increase transparency, improve public engagement, and provide accountability to the American public when considering a settlement agreement or consent decree by:

Publishing any notices of intent to sue the Agency within 15 days of receiving the notice;

Publishing any complaints or petitions for review in regard to an environmental law, regulation, or rule in which the Agency is a defendant or respondent in federal court within 15 days of receipt;

Reaching out to and including any states and/or regulated entities affected by potential settlements or consent decrees;

Publishing a list of consent decrees and settlement agreements that govern Agency actions within 30 days, along with any attorney fees paid, and update it within 15 days of any new consent decree or settlement agreement;

Expressly forbidding the practice of entering into any consent decrees that exceed the authority of the courts;

Excluding attorney’s fees and litigation costs when settling with those suing the Agency;

Providing sufficient time to issue or modify proposed and final rules, take and consider public comment; and

Publishing any proposed or modified consent decrees and settlements for 30-day public comment, and providing a public hearing on a proposed consent decree or settlement when requested.
In many cases EPA actually encouraged various NGOs to sue them so they could "settle" on a policy beyond what the law actually required. They went so far as to hold classes on how to sue EPA.

WaPo reports:
But his push also is part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to limit federal funding to outside groups as part of litigation. In June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to block payments to third-party, not-for-profit groups as part of environmental settlements. Instead of allowing defendants to fund environmental measures as a way of meeting their obligations for violating the law, Sessions said, such penalties should go directly to the U.S. treasury.

The attorney general is “keenly interested and supportive of what we’re doing,” Pruitt said, adding that “other agencies are taking notice as well.”

Environmentalists on Monday questioned Pruitt’s motivations.

“There’s a general hostility to citizen enforcement of environmental laws, and it reflects the fact that Pruitt doesn’t want these laws enforced,” said Pat Gallagher, legal director for the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club and government watchdog groups question whether Pruitt’s directive — inspired by a memorandum that Attorney General Edwin Meese issued in 1986 and that in 1991 was codified in the Code of Regulations — will have much direct impact. The Clean Air Act and other environmental laws provide citizens and outside groups broad latitude to sue the EPA when it is failing to meet statutory deadlines, and the judge handling such cases typically determines the amount of legal fees the government must pay as part of any consent decree.

“That’s not his decision to make,” John Walke, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Clean Air Project, said in an interview Monday. “A judge can impose attorney fees when an agency violates the law and citizens file suit to hold the government accountable.”
You can tell he hit the target from the pigs squealing.

But What About Polanski?

So Emma, after that blast against Weinstein, why DID you once sign a petition to help child rapist Polanski?
Among the many actresses who have in recent days revealed their unwanted sexual mauling at the hands of the film producer Harvey Weinstein is the Casino Royale star, Eva Green.

She revealed how ‘shocked and disgusted’ she had been at the time.

In reporting this yesterday, Sky News showed stock footage of Green posing at a film awards ceremony alongside... Roman Polanski.

I’m sure the broadcaster was not trying to make a point. But I will: how credible is Hollywood’s decision to strip Weinstein of his membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which awards the Oscars), when it continues to treat the film director Polanski as a deity?
Emma Thompson
Well, it is a little different when it's you.
Unlike Weinstein, who has yet to be charged with a crime, let alone convicted, Polanski pleaded guilty to ‘unlawful sex’ in an American court in 1977 — a plea bargain after he had drugged, raped and sodomised 13-year-old Samantha Galley, a would-be model. He then fled the country before sentence could be passed.

Ever since, as a fugitive from the Feds, he has not been able to work in the U.S.

But the Academy awarded him an Oscar in 2003 — and the first person captured by the cameras leaping to her feet to applaud was Meryl Streep. The very woman who last week said the revelations of Weinstein’s decades-long abuse of her fellow actresses came as an appalling surprise — which makes Streep about the only person in the business who didn’t know about his predatory practices.
The article goes on to call out Emma Thompson, a popular older British actress, for signing a petition to keep Polanski free from extradition. But Eva Green is a lot more photogenic.
And that’s the other Hollywood deal: the artist is above the law. Weinstein made this clear himself when, in 2009, he led the industry’s protests and petitions after Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss police following a request by the U.S. Justice Department (still trying to get the director to do his time).

The Independent newspaper published an article by Weinstein telling readers how ‘Roman Polanski is a man who cares deeply about his art and its place in the world’. And the rape and sodomising of a 13-year-old? Weinstein dismissed it as ‘a so-called crime’.

A host of directors and actors followed Weinstein, signing the petition for Polanski, including Natalie Portman, Tilda Swinton and Emma Thompson.
You do sort of wonder how all the ones who knew about Weinstein (essentially all of them) managed to wrap their minds around that.
Yes, Emma Thompson, who last week appeared on the BBC to add her voice to those denouncing Weinstein’s alleged sexual abuse. When Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis raised the Polanski petition with Thompson, she said she had signed ‘without really thinking about it . . . I had been absolutely bamboozled by my respect for his art’.
. . .
Thompson said that she had later asked for her name to be removed from the petition, after it had been pointed out to her by ‘young feminists at my son’s university’ that Polanski was ‘a rapist’.
Yes, the tolerance of Polanski drugging, seducing and sodomizing young actresses, while publicly denouncing Weinstein's more extensive, but probably less horrifying acts is bit of a puzzle.

In part, this may have to do with the difference between the director and the producer of movies. Directors are "artists" whose vision is directly transmitted to the actors and actresses. The producer, while he has many roles, is primarily the business man behind the movie. In Hollywood's eyes, the businessman is generally evil, and so once things started to go bad for Harvey, the anti-businessman bias began to kick in. The spell was broken, and they were free to express it. But as noted above, they still have sympathy for the "artist."

Polanski is a figure romanticized by the film industry; sympathetic for losing his wife, Sharon Tate to the Manson family attack, European (bonus points for being foreign from the reflexively anti-American members of the Academy), and a small and physically unimposing  man. Any sexual act had to be consensual, right?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Chill Hits the Beach

It was in the low 50's and breezy when Skye dragged us off to the beach.
 Even the GBH on the posing post . . .
 looked a bit wind blown.
There's always something new new. See that dark line of little black dots washed up along the edge of the surf? Literally millions of little bugs. They look like a leaf hopper of some sort, and given the wind direction, I would guess they blew across the bay from the salt marshes.
A few other things mixed in. We have been in the midst of the Monarch butterfly migration. This one didn't make it.
 Joined by a Clouded Sulpur.
"What's taking you so long?"

Corruption Update on

Clinton Corruption Update for October 17, 2017
Remember the Russian uranium sale scandal? It’s back!
Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.
Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.
Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.
The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.
When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”
In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.
The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.
That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.
But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.
So the Obama Administration knew Russia was illegally bribing American officials in relation to the uranium deal, including the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, and did nothing. (Read the whole thing for more details on Russia’s kickbacks and bribery schemes.)
In general, when the Democrats accuse the Republicans of anything at all, it's a safe bet that they are neck deep in it, and they're hoping to transfer attention to the alleged Republican crimes, while delaying investigation into, denying, and covering up their own. That's the "Russian collaboration" issue in a nutshell.
Surprise, surprise, surprise! Judicial Watch managed to unearth yet another treasure trove of emails Hillary Clinton sent from her illegal homebrew serve:
Judicial Watch today released 1,617 new pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing numerous additional examples of classified information being transmitted through the unsecure, account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, as well as many instances of Hillary Clinton donors receiving special favors from the State Department.
The documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails had been turned over to department.
Speaking of Judicial Watch, they also forced the discovery of “30 pages of documents related to the June 27, 2016, tarmac meeting between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton.” You know, notes the FBI swore didn’t exist. Judicial Watch said they want copies of the docs no later than late November.
After a few days of poll testing different responses, Hillary finally denounced her old friend, and partner in crime, Harvey Weinstein.
So how much of Harvey Weinstein’s money will the Clinton Foundation be returning? Let me do a quick little calculation here…add it all up…carry the one…and the answer is…zero. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
She probably can't even count it.

Gov. Hogan Named "Champion of the Chesapeake"

Last night, Chesapeake Conservancy celebrated the 2017 Champions of the Chesapeake at an awards ceremony honoring Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association and Microsoft Corporation. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association hosted the cocktail reception and awards ceremony for the Chesapeake Conservancy at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
How dare they celebrate at a slave owner's plantation! /sarcoff
“Each year, Chesapeake Conservancy recognizes extraordinary leaders from across the Chesapeake for their significant and exemplary accomplishments that protect and restore our natural systems and cultural resources,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “The honorees and their work highlights how the Chesapeake is a bipartisan, multi-generational, multi-cultural priority – for its beauty, for our economy, for our health and for our history – and that everybody has a role to play in its conservation.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was honored for his commitment and leadership in fighting to protect federal bay funding; fully funding the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; and supporting and signing legislation that will lead to the full funding of Program Open Space next fiscal year. In almost three years, Governor Hogan has invested $3 billion in Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction and related programs.
Considering that Maryland has approximately 6 million inhabitants, that's about $500 for each man woman and child in Maryland. That's not trivial. I hope our share is being spent wisely. I have my doubts.
“Our entire administration has been about bipartisanship and trying to figure out common sense bipartisan solutions—working across the aisle. In this case, we have worked across state lines as well. We have a great relationship with Governor McAuliffe. Although we’re from different parties I think we both understand the importance of the Chesapeake Bay,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said. “One of the things I admire about the Chesapeake Conservancy is that they are a small organization that accomplishes really big things. It’s a very effective organization that does tremendous things for the Chesapeake Bay.”
When you are a Republican governor in a heavily democratic state, you really need work with the other side.

Reason #5747 That Trump Was Elected

'We tried nice guys': And they still called Mitt Romney a Nazi
Trump may be an unlikely favorite of the religious right but last November exit polls said he won 81% of white evangelicals – more than George W Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. Michele Bachmann, a former congresswoman from Minnesota and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, called Trump’s victory “proof positive of what the Lord did”.

“He knows he is the president of United States today because evangelical Christians came out and supported him,” she said in her address.

In hallways after Trump’s speech, attendees buzzed with excitement.

“It’s like a cloud has lifted,” said Pat Flynn, who came with a group of women from Catholics for Freedom of Religion. “When Obama was in, everything was sad. Nothing was good. Now look – look at the smiling faces. Look at people getting jobs again.”

She said she had a conversation with a nun earlier who wished Trump would speak – and tweet – less. But Flynn believed that his“gift of gab” and “wiseguy” bravado was exactly why he was elected.

“We tried nice guys,” she said. “We had John McCain. Mitt Romney. They were nice, smiling at everybody, but they couldn’t beat out Hillary. Romney, I mean come on. The only thing people remember about him is that he tied a dog to his roof.”
A lot of the heroes of the bible were less than perfect. But they fought. Trump fights.

Midnite Music - "When I Get Low, I Get High"

The Speakeasy Three

Monday, October 16, 2017

Striped Bass YOY Comes in Slightly Above Average

And MDDNR is selling it like a landslide: Striped Bass Survey Shows Healthy Population Growth
Results of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources 2017 young-of-year striped bass survey in the Chesapeake Bay shows the fish is reproducing in strong numbers. The annual survey’s index is 13.2, above the 64-year average of 11.7.

I managed to find a graph with all the data except 2017, but you get the idea. The inter-annual variation is huge, and while an average year is OK, it's not really a big deal. The population is made or broken with the really good years, which produce many times the "average."
Striped bass, popularly known as rockfish, is Maryland’s state fish. The fish spawns in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries each spring. The survey is conducted annually to track the reproductive success of this important species and help predict future abundance.

The index represents the average number of young-of-year striped bass – those less than 1 year old – captured in 132 samples.

“Strong reproduction in three of the past seven years is an encouraging sign for the coastal population and future fishing opportunities,” Fishing and Boating Services Director Dave Blazer said.

During this year’s survey, department biologists collected more than 33,000 fish of 62 species, including 1,741 young-of-year striped bass. The most productive area surveyed for rockfish was the upper Chesapeake Bay, their largest spawning area.

Results of this year’s survey also showed high white perch reproduction in the upper bay and Nanticoke River. Additionally, the survey found American shad reproduction was above average, primarily due to its success in the Potomac River.
So shad in the mainstem tributaries and Susquehanna are still failing.

Judge Gives Baltimore 13 Years . . .

Longer to pollute the Bay: Judge approves disputed plan to fix Baltimore’s sewage overflows
Brushing aside an environmental group’s objection, a federal judge has given the city of Baltimore another 13 years to eliminate the chronic sewage overflows that frequently render local streams and the harbor unsafe for recreation.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz approved a consent decree on Thursday spelling out a new plan for overhauling Baltimore’s aged, leaky sewer system. It modifies the initial agreement reached in 2002 with federal and state regulators, which had given the city until January 2016 to fix its problems. Despite spending nearly $1 billion on repairs over that time, by city officials’ estimates, the overflows continue.

The revised plan, which was originally unveiled in June 2016, drew criticism from local residents and environmental groups. It was revised after closed-door talks and resubmitted in late August, with provisions added to address sewage backups in homes and to provide more information to the public.

Under the new agreement, the city pledges to carry out a series of upgrades that it projects should reduce overflows by 80 percent after four years, with further improvements to be completed by the end of 2030. The projected cost of the new work is $1.6 billion, with much of that to be borne by local residents and businesses, though federal and state funds have been offered to lighten the burden on ratepayers.

The bulk of the overflows should be remedied, city officials say, by fixing a major misalignment in the “headworks” of the city’s Back River wastewater treatment plant. That causes a 10-mile backup of sewage beneath Baltimore and significantly reduces the capacity of the system to handle additional flows during heavy rains.
I guess they'll have to buy a few more pardons.

Reason #5746 That Trump Was Elected

Sometimes the Brits say things our own press is loathe to admit. From the Daily Mail: Trump and the dismantling of Obama's legacy
Brick by brick, the demolition job has begun: since taking office less than a year ago, Donald Trump has launched an all-out assault on the legacy of Barack Obama.

Climate, free trade, health care, immigration, foreign policy -- the 45th US president has set about undoing just about everything done by the 44th.

All new presidents, of course, break with their predecessor once in the Oval Office, especially if they come from a rival political party.

But what is striking is how systematic the hammer blows to Obama's legacy have been.

And rather than throw his weight behind new policies or projects, Trump has shown a willful desire to unpick, shred and erase everything his predecessor accomplished.
. . .
The Trans-Pacific Partnership? Within days of taking office, Trump signed an order pulling America out of the free trade accord, the fruit of eight years of negotiations between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, from Chile to Canada and Japan.
. . .
The Paris climate accord? Obama played a leading role in attaining that milestone in the effort to combat global warming. Trump pulled out of the agreement signed by 195 countries, claiming that it "punishes the United States" and declaring: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

What about Obamacare, the signature legislative achievement of Obama's first term? After trying in vain to get Congress to repeal it, Trump is now working to bring about its collapse through the regulatory process.

And the Iranian nuclear accord? The bid to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon in return for a lifting of sanctions more than any other bore came to represent Obama's approach to world affairs. "This deal will have my name on it," the Democratic president said shortly before it was concluded. "Nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise."

While Trump has stopped short of tearing up the Iran deal, as he threatened on the campaign trail, on Friday he warned he could do so "at any time," raising doubts about the fate of an accord born of years of painstaking diplomacy.
It's what he was elected to do.

But There's No Institutional Bias Against Conservatives at ESPN

Britt McHenry, a former cable host, has admitted that when she worked at Disney-owned sports cable network ESPN, her employers warned her not to engage with conservatives on Twitter or face trouble from her left-wing bosses.

Henry appeared on Fox Business Network this week to reveal that her ESPN bosses said she was not even allowed to “like” conservative tweets on social media platform Twitter, Gateway Pundit revealed.

On Fox Busines Network’s “Varney & Co.,” Henry revealed just how far left ESPN really is behind the scenes.

Maybe she's trying out for a gig at Fox? She's got the right hair color.
Britt McHenry: I can just speak from being conservative a lot of people who felt the way I did were timid to express their opinions… I was told not to even “like” conservative tweets on Twitter.
Stuart Varney:Who told you not to like conservative tweets… Was it ESPN management?
Britt McHenry: Yes. Yes.
Britt was last seen here back in April 2015, when she was seen berating the attendant at a possibly crooked parking operation for impounding her ride.
 Two months later, she tweeted that one of the reasons she was terminated was because she was a conservative.

Two years is enough time in the wilderness.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What! No Soft Crab?

Swiped from Theo's Pic Dump................

Reason #5745 That Trump Was Elected

From Doug Sosnik, a Democratic political strategist a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000: Trump is on track to win reelection. And he's not happy about it. Why?
We have entered a new era in American politics. The 2016 election exposed how economic, social and cultural issues have splintered the country and increasingly divided voters by age, race, education and geography. This isn’t going to change.

What have changed are the political fault lines that have driven the debate since the early 1980s. Until now, the ideological divides between the parties were largely differences around social issues, defense spending and trade, as well as tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Today, the central issue has become populism as voters have moved away from the two political parties and increasingly self-identified as independents.

In 2016, Trump capitalized on this changing political environment. He consolidated the growing number of angry voters who felt let down by the people and institutions controlling power in the country. Trump’s support from these voters is personal, not ideological. . .

First, Trump knows that gaining the support of a majority of voters in a presidential election is not a requirement; it’s simply an aspiration. In fact, two out of the last three presidents were elected despite losing the popular vote.

Second, the continued decline in support for both political parties works to Trump’s advantage. The lack of voters’ faith in both parties increases the probability that there will be a major third-party candidate on the 2020 ballot. It will also lead to other minor-party candidates joining the presidential race. The multi-candidate field will further divide the anti-Trump vote, making it possible for him to get reelected simply by holding on to his current level of support.

Third, despite dismal poll numbers, Trump enters the contest with a job approval rating that is certainly at least marginally better than what the current national polls would suggest. Throughout the 2016 election, most analysts tracked the national polling, which failed to capture Trump’s strength in key battleground states. Current surveys continue to understate his support.
. . .
Fourth, Trump’s support has largely remained durable with a core group of supporters. These are the voters Trump was referring to when he said that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose votes. There is another group of Trump followers whose support isn’t unequivocal, but they have stayed with him because they still believe he will blow up the system and bring about real change.

Your Morning Rise and Shine

So how about something new, like a big name liberal Hollywood director being accused of sexual harassment by a then wannabe actress and former Playmate! Former Playboy Playmate Carrie Stevens accuses Oliver Stone of sexual assault after director defends Harvey Weinstein
While Oliver Stone defended Harvey Weinstein amid more than a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and assault, a former Playboy Playmate accused the “Platoon” director of sexual assault.

Carrie Stevens, who was best known as Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in June 1997 but also had several small movie and TV roles, claimed Thursday that Stone had grabbed her breast at a party.

That takes big hands!
The 48-year-old model told the Daily News that she was at a party at producer Ted Field's home in honor of Stone more than 20 years ago when Stone walked up to her standing by the front door.

"He was really cocky, had this big grin on his face like he was going to get away with something," Stevens, who was 22 at the time, told The News.

At that point, Stone "reached out and...honked it like a horn," she said, describing him as "an immature guy in elementary school who snaps your bra."

Well come on, if you're a guy, you know you want to. It's just that us civilized people have been taught better, and don't have the sense of entitlement of a Hollywood director.
Stevens said she was surrounded by other people, but nobody said anything.

"That's what's going on in Hollywood. That's why things have to change. He's Oliver Stone. Nobody's going to say anything," she told The News.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Floron du Jour

A Florida woman was shocked last week when she was confronted with a naked intruder in her house -- eating pineapple.

Mary Hamilton, 63, told deputies she went inside the St. Augustine home on Oct. 5 because “the door was open for me to come inside,” St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax.

After the homeowner discovered the nude intruder eating canned pineapple, she retreated to her car and called police.

Hamilton reportedly went inside the home, seized a shirt that belonged to the homeowner’s son and consumed some leftovers from the refrigerator, deputies said.
Who among us hasn't wandered naked around the neighborhood, checking for open doors, and helping ourselves to their clothes and  food?

Zachary Tomko                Holly O'Neil
And the Masshole's of the day: Skinny dippers disrupt wedding reception
 A pair of skinny-dippers gave a wedding reception at a scenic Massachusetts restaurant more of a view than expected.

Zachary Tomko tells WHDH-TV he didn't realize there was a restaurant nearby when he and Holly O'Neil jumped naked into the water at Salisbury Beach on Saturday.

Salisbury Police Chief Thomas Fowler tells The Boston Globe his department received several calls about the nude swimmers from both beachgoers and members of the wedding party.

Fowler says police charged 29-year-old Tomko and 20-year-old O'Neil, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, with disorderly conduct.

Bride Leah Allen says the swimmers made for a "really interesting wedding day," and she applauded them for braving the cold water.
Now that's a good sport.  Both cribbed from "Saturday Morning Weird News Dump" at Ace's.

Reason #5744 That Trump Was Elected

Unemployment claims fall to lowest level in 43 years, despite hurricanes
The total number of laid-off workers receiving unemployment benefits fell to 1.89 million at the end of September, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, the lowest such mark in nearly 44 years.

And new claims for unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to 243,000 in the first full week of October, according to the agency, as the job market bounces back from hurricane damage even faster than forecasters expected.

Low new jobless claims are a good sign. They indicate that layoffs are rare, and accordingly that job creation is strong.
. . .
Prior to the landfall of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, claims had been running at ultra-low rates. With Texas and Florida now recovering, new claims again appear to be sinking to levels that indicate robust job creation. First-time claims in the states most affected by the storms are still high, but have fallen in recent weeks.

"The data suggest that payrolls will bounce back quickly after last month's hurricane-related weakness and that the underlying trend in employment growth remains strong -- more than strong enough to keep the unemployment rate declining," noted Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High-Frequency Economics.
 Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links.

Hollywood is for the Birds

Rose McGowan has Hollywood Burning: Rose McGowan Goes Nuclear on Amazon/Weinstein Link
We’re at DefCon One now:
Rose McGowan is claiming that Amazon optioned a television series from her only to kill it while still in development after she voiced her concern about a possible move the company was making to bailout ‘Weinstein.’
‘I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof,’ said McGowan on Thursday in a tweet directed at company founder Jeff Bezos.
‘I had already sold a script I wrote to your studio, it was in development. When I heard a Weinstein bailout was in the works.’
She then added: ‘I forcefully begged studio head to do the right thing. I was ignored. Deal was done. Amazon won a dirty Oscar.’
‘HW’ is apparently a reference to Harvey Weinstein, whose representative Sallie Hofmeister has said that he client ‘unequivocally denies … any allegations of non-consensual contact.’
It's getting as bloody as a Tarantino flick.
An hour after she posted her tweets, Amazon got hit with sexual harassment allegations of their own after an employee said in an interview that Roy Price made unwanted sexual advances towards her at a work event.
‘You will like my dick,’ Price allegedly told his lesbian co-worker just hours after meeting her for the first time.
Amazon did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Price was put on leave by the company on Thursday.
You can read the Price story at The Hollywood Reporter. The reference to a “dirty Oscar” was in regard to Casey Affleck’s Best Actor award for Manchester by the Sea. Two women have accused Affleck of sexual harassment. Is every man in Hollywood a harasser?
Yeah, I know, yesterday's news, but speaking of old, but new news, the article also shows how Hitch wooed his actresses:
Meanwhile, Tippi Hedren — who starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds — says she turned down Hitchcock’s advances and he made good on his threat to “ruin” her career in Hollywood

It’s difficult to imagine Alfred Hitchcock as a sexual predator, but who knows? True or not, what’s the point of making such an accusation against a guy after he’s been dead for 37 years? This is just sad.

Post Obamacare Schadenfreude Bliss

I didn't really want to do another one so soon, but right after I pushed publish on the last one, Wombat-socho posted this "In The Mailbox: 10.13.17" with this link to an excellent essay by the usually sensible but always interesting Megan McArdle on Trump's decision to revoke the subsidy funding for Obamacare insurers: 

Obamacare Was Built With the Flaws Trump Now Exploits
. . . After threatening it for months, the president has finally ended the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which subsidize the provision of special policies with lower out-of-pocket expenses for people who make less than 250 percent of the federal poverty line. At the very least, this will probably mean a further increase in premiums, and growing instability in at least the parts of the individual market that aren’t eligible for subsidies to offset the increase. At worst, especially if it gets bogged down in lawsuits, it may cause insurers to say “enough is enough,” leaving broad areas of the country without any firm willing to sell individual policies through the Obamacare exchanges.

While the Congressional Budget Office has issued a delightfully counterintuitive forecast that ending the subsidies could actually increase insurance coverage, there’s little question in my mind that these policies are bad for the exchanges.  At the very least, I think we can all agree that they put the exchanges at greater risk. There is also little question that this is at least part of the reason that the administration is pursuing them. And yet, believe it or not, there are still arguments for both.

It has become evident that millions of uninsured Americans are uninterested in buying insurance on the exchanges, because it’s too expensive, or the “narrow networks” don’t cover enough doctors and hospitals. The new options the administration aims to create could be a genuine boon to those people. If you have spent years bemoaning the dire fate of the uninsured, you have to take that benefit seriously.

As for ending the subsidies … what am I, some sort of monster? Do I just hate the poor so much that I can’t stand to see them getting help paying for health care? Well, no. I have no particular objection to the payments as policy. Except for one small thing, which is that they seem to be sort of illegal. . .
Read the whole thing,; it won't hurt that much. Also from  "In The Mailbox: 10.13.17" , Legal Insurrections Trump Throws Another Blow at Obamacare, Reportedly Scrapping Obamacare Insurer Subsidy Payments and Don Surber reports Fake News on Obamacare:
Bleating Democratic talking points.
CBS: "Trump Cutting Obamacare Insurance Subsidies."
CNN: "Trump begins Obamacare dismantling with executive order."
NBC: "White House Says It Will End Key Obamacare Subsidies to Insurers."
President Trump had no choice.
The money was never appropriated.
 And to round out the news, Rand Paul Squashes The Idea That Trump’s New Healthcare Order Will Hurt The Poor
According to Paul, the ability for many low-income workers to come together to form a group represented by one person would give the power to the consumer, allowing many who can’t afford good insurance plans on their own to become a pile of accumulated money that can.

Paul said that this kind of group plan “requires no discrimination,” and “protects against pre-existing conditions,” since the coverage would be the same kind you get at big corporations. Corporations do not refuse you employment because you have a pre-existing condition, or fire you because you get sick.

Paul explained that his plan that was enacted on Thursday allows individuals to have the same purchasing power as corporations, essentially putting purchasing power into the hands of the people.
That makes almost too much sense to be true.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is signaling Democrats will try to get ObamaCare's insurer subsidy payments included in a December funding deal, adding another legislative item to an already packed end-of-the-year schedule.

"I think we're going to have a very good opportunity in the omnibus to get this done in a bipartisan way, if we can't get it done sooner," Schumer told reporters during a conference call on Friday.

"Democrats are going to work very hard to get these cost-sharing payments restored, but remember there are a whole lot of Republicans who want to get them restored, too."

Rule 5 Saturday - Lea Seydoux Knew

It's getting hard to keep excited about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which seems to have confirmed and surpassed our worst fears about Hollywood. Question: Did he inspire the character and image of Jabba the Hutt? Anyway, Actress Lea Seydoux: ‘Everyone Knew What Harvey Was Up To’
French actress Lea Seydoux joins a growing list of women who say Harvey Weinstein tried to initiate an unwanted sexual encounter with her. Writing in the Guardian she says Weinstein demanded to meet her for drinks after a fashion show. She says he kept looking her over “as if I was a piece of meat.” She was invited up to his room and went. After a female assistant was dismissed, Weinstein literally pounced:
We were talking on the sofa when he suddenly jumped on me and tried to kiss me. I had to defend myself. He’s big and fat, so I had to be forceful to resist him. I left his room, thoroughly disgusted. I wasn’t afraid of him, though. Because I knew what kind of man he was all along.
That seems to be a general consensus, despite Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton's somehow being unable to see. But would she have protested if he looked more like Brad Pitt?
Seydoux says she saw Weinstein making similar moves on a young actress at a subsequent event. “That’s the most disgusting thing,” she writes, “Everyone knew what Harvey was up to and no one did anything. It’s unbelievable that he’s been able to act like this for decades and still keep his career.”
She probably doesn't understand US politics either.
But Lea Seydoux suggests there are many more Weinsteins out there. Without naming names, she says she’s encountered similar behavior from several of her previous directors:

The first time a director made an inappropriate comment to me, I was in my mid-20s. He was a director I really liked and respected. We were alone and he said to me: “I wish I could have sex with you, I wish I could f**k you.”
Really? That long?  But he was just being honest!
He said it in a way that was half joking and half serious. I was very angry. I was trying to do my job and he made me very uncomfortable. He has slept with all of the actresses he filmed.

Good work if you can get it!
Another director I worked with would film very long sex scenes that lasted days. He kept watching us, replaying the scenes over and over again in a kind of stupor. It was very gross.
Yet another director tried to kiss me. Like Weinstein, I had to physically push him away, too.
She concludes her piece saying, “This industry is based on desirable actresses.” That’s certainly true. There’s a reason so many of the woman around Weinstein were world famous stars and it’s not solely because they could act. In fact, there’s a reason that the pipeline for Hollywood talent often comes from professional modeling agencies.

A very European girl, Lea has no particular problem with nudity in movies or advertising (NSFW links).
She first came to attention after she received her first César Award nomination for her performance in The Beautiful Person (2008) and won the Trophée Chopard, an award given to promising actors at the Cannes Film Festival.

Since then, she has appeared in major Hollywood films including Inglourious Basterds (2009), Robin Hood (2010), Midnight in Paris (2011) and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011). In French cinema, she was nominated for the César Award for Most Promising Actress for a second time for her role in Belle Épine (2010) and was nominated for the César Award for Best Actress for her role as a lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette in the film Farewell, My Queen (2012).

In 2013, Seydoux came to widespread attention when she was awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her role as a lesbian art student in the critically acclaimed film Blue Is the Warmest Colour. That same year, she also received the Lumières Award for Best Actress for the film Grand Central and, in 2014, she was nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award and starred in the films Beauty and the Beast, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Saint Laurent. She gained international attention for her appearance as Bond girl Madeleine Swann in Spectre (2015).
GOODSTUFF continues his absence. I'm starting to worry. Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links. Wombat-socho links with "Rule 5 Sunday: Pussycat No More" and "FMJRA 2.0: Casanova".

Friday, October 13, 2017

Chesapeake Menace Gets a New Name

Scientists uncover a centuries-old case of mistaken identity in the Chesapeake Bay
Jellyfish sting swimmers, clog fishing nets, and in high numbers can close beaches. But despite their nuisance to humans, they play an important role in the marine ecosystem - including in the Chesapeake Bay, where they protect commercially valuable Eastern oysters from predators.
Huh? I've never heard that, and I can't think of an oyster predator that would be affected much by the Sea Nettles.
Scientists recently discovered that some jellyfish in the Bay are quite different from their ocean cousins. This led scientists from NOAA and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History to declare them as two different species. The newly recognized bay nettle jellies (Chrysaora chesapeakei) are noticeably smaller than their saltwater relatives, and have only half as many tentacles.

Does having fewer tentacles mean less of a sting? Likely not. But this new discovery may inspire other scientists to take a closer look at jellies in other parts of the world to see if there are other cases of mistaken identity.
What a lousy article. It doesn't even bother to go into how the investigators determined that the Bay's Sea Nettles were different than their open ocean sister species. But as I suspected, it was DNA not the tentacle count.

Trumping Obamacare Schadenfreude

A lot of new developments since the last update, but lets get back and remind ourselves why Obamacare sucks for the country (although it can be a pretty sweet deal, especially if you're an insurance company):

Obamacare's death spiral continues: Democrats Need To Admit That ObamaCare Failed. But that would require honesty and self-reflection. As Deadline Approaches, Anthem Pulls Out Of Obamacare Exchange In Maine. Thank Susan Collins. Michelle Malkin reports Obama Lied. My FOURTH Health Plan Died. Mary Katherine Ham  Schools #Resistance troll in back-and-forth over Obamacare. Trolls are notoriously difficult to school. Majority of Households Paying Obamacare Penalty Are Low and Middle-Income. And probably not Obama voters.

Just an ancient history link now Obamacare’ survives; GOP concedes on last-gasp repeal try  The Republican Fight to Repeal Obamacare Is 'Dead as a Doornail.' For Now. So now you tell us Lindsey Graham: I Didn’t Really Know What I Was Doing On Health Care, And Neither Did Other Republicans. You might have thought about that before the last election.  Why The Republican Health-Care Bill Keeps Coming Back From The Dead. Because it needs to.  John McCain Ran On Repealing Obamacare. He Broke His Promise. Yep, and he seems to be heading the same way on tax reform for the same reason. Then he could always vote with some Democrats.  He should just officially change his party registration. But then he wouldn't be a "maverick" (a little lost cow). Pro-Lifers Call Obamacare Repeal Failure ‘Unacceptable’- Failure to defund Planned Parenthood infuriates pro-life groups. It infuriates me too, and I'm not exactly pro-life. GOP Lawmaker: McConnell Snubs 'Judeo-Christianity Land,' Moses by Not Repealing ObamacareDISPATCHES FROM THE HOUSE OF STEPHANOPOULOS: ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir Gushes to Kimmel: People ‘Will Remember’ Your ‘Bravery’ ‘Standing Up’ For Health Care. Flashback: George Stephanopoulos discloses $75,000 contribution to Clinton Foundation.

Jump forward a few days and find Trump says he called Schumer to broker deal with Democrats for ‘a great HealthCare Bill’, which is basically a way to guarantee further Democratic obstruction. Then something interesting started to happen. Trump found his pen and phone, and started gutting Obamacare: Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama Rule on Birth-Control Coverage. So the nuns don't have to pay for birth control anymore. Trump Executive Order Would Give People An Out From ObamaCare; Dems Want To 'Save' ObamaCare By Closing All The Exits. And  Trump Drains Obamacare’s Regulatory Swamp:
Having provoked much progressive sputtering and head spinning last Friday by issuing new regulations weakening the notorious HHS contraception mandate, President Trump is poised to sign an executive order that will further dry up Obamacare’s regulatory morass. The Wall Street Journal reports that the order will expand enrollee options restricted by the Obama administration — allowing coverage to be purchased through association health plans, encouraging the sale of short-term medical insurance, and permitting pretax funds from health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) to be used for premiums on health plans. The impending order has already drawn satisfying charges of “sabotage” from Obamacare apologists.
Rand Paul Says Trump’s Obamacare Order ‘Has The Potential To Be Amazing’
“Millions of people are going to choose it and it doesn’t force people to do anything,” Paul said. “My plan today that the president enacted costs zero.”
Trump: ‘We’re Going to Have Great Health Care Across State Lines’, then  President Trump Signs Executive Order That Will Allow Sale of Health Insurance Across State Lines
The order is intended to expand choices to current Obamacare plans and increase competition so that costs come down for consumers.

"The time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines, which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care," President Trump said.
Trump On ObamaCare Insurer Subsidies: Guess What? We Checked The Budget And The Constitution, And …"Surprise! It turns out that Congress didn’t fund direct subsidy payments to health insurers." And then the final (at least so far) cut: Trump declares Obamacare payments illegal; deals second blow to health law. Well, we all knew that the payments were not authorized by Congress, and thus illegal, but democrats had been ignoring that little detail. By way of Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 10.12.17". Powerline explains how Trump Takes An Important First Step On Healthcare
The Washington Post, of course, went into a hissy fit: Trump to end key ACA subsidies, a move that will threaten the law’s marketplaces Trump to end key ACA subsidies, a move that will threaten the law’s marketplaces. Well yes, because they were being illegally subsidized. If you don't like it, fix it. Trump moves from firing shots at Obamacare to all-out warTrump’s Obamacare order could destroy the health-care system. No, but it could destroy Obamacare, which is a good thing. Throwing a bomb into the insurance markets, Trump now owns the broken health-care system. It's still got Obama's name on it.

The Brits got into the act, with the Daily Mail intoning Trump to end subsidy payments to Obamacare insurers in a move derided by Democrats as 'spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage'

State AGs ready to sue Trump over health care subsidies. You won't be able to guess which states, right?