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July 24, 2014

Disturbing: 8 Families in Orange County Have Had Porcelain Dolls Left On Their Doorsteps Which Resemble the Young Girls Actually Living There

—Ace

Via @gabrielmalor.

Hey, do you want a nightmare tonight? Well read on.

"No crime yet," the reporter says, which I suppose is true.

I mean, who ever thought to outlaw "covertly leaving porcelain dolls resembling children living at that home?"

Report here. Video report at the link, too.


11 dolls have been found so far. But they say 8 families were targeted -- I suppose this means that some families had dolls deposited twice, or had multiple dolls left their to indicate multiple girls living in the home.

One thing I think may be exaggerated is how "closely" these dolls "resemble" the girls. They appear to be mass produced, so there's no way they can be very close resemblances.

However, if the Doll Man left a blonde doll for a blonde girl, and a brunette doll for a brunette, that would, I think, scare any parent and alarm any cop, justifiably.

If the Doll Man is exercising that kind of choice, then he's deliberately sending the signal that he's looking at these particular girls, and knows what they (basically) look like. That would be a close enough resemblance for red-alert alarm.


Humanity

100,000 years of history, and we're still coming up with brand-new ways to be awful and weird.

Posted by Ace at 05:20 PM Comments



Hamas Targets Journalists in Gaza for Intimidation

—Ace

Via the Jerusalem Post, journalists in Gaza are being threatened about how they might choose to report things.

Several journalists from around the world reported seeing rockets fired from civilian areas in Gaza in recent days, and received threatening tweets in return accusing them of "informing" the IDF.

...

@longitude0 wrote: "You are a cretin. Are you working for the IDF" and "in WWII spies got shot."

Financial Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief John Reed reported seeing "two rockets fired toward Israel from near al-Shifa hospital, even as more bombing victims were brought in."

Shifa, in Gaza City, is the main medical facility in the Strip.

In response, @Saritah_91 tweeted: "We'll hold you responsible if Israel uses your tweet to bomb the hospital & then justify it."

A hospital called al-Shifa, huh?

This rang a bell, because I had just began reading this report from the French paper La Liberation about a French/Palestinian reporter telling his own story of being intimidated by Hamas.

Here's a (clumsy) translation of the start of it.

[Headline:] "You must leave Gaza as soon as possible and stop working"

EYE WITNESS Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abou Dagga, reporter for "West France," and former contributor to "Liberation," recounts the attempts at intimdiation by Hamas.

... Radjaa Abou Dagga split his living for years between Paris, where he lives with his wife and son, and Gaza, where he lives with his parents and where he works. On June 18, when he wanted to cross the border at Rafah, an officer blocked his passage and kept his passport like they do with all of the Palestinians who try to cross from Egypt these days [that is, since Egypt blockaded the southern Gaza border].

After four weeks blocked from Gaza with explanation, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the Hamas security service this last Sunday. "I received a call from a private number. It summoned me to the hospital Al-Shifa, in the middle of Gaza City," Radjaa explained. He brought with him his two telephones, his press card, and his little camera.

By the way: Yes, he's saying the Gaza internal security police keep their offices at a hospital in Shifa. Or at least they arrange interrogations there.

"ARE YOU A REPORTER FOR ISRAEL?"

A few meters outside the emergency room where the wounded from the bombings flowed past endlessly, he was met in the outpatient offices, "a little section of the hospital used as administration" by the group of young fighters. "They were very well dressed," said a surprised Radjaa. "Dressed in civilian clothes, with a pistol under their shirt and some having walkie-talkies." They ordered him to empty his pockets, take off his shoes and belt, and then he was called to a room in the hospital which served for the moment as the command offices of three people.

A man dressed to the nines began the interrogation: "Who are you? What is your name? What are you doing?"

"I was very surprised by their method of operation," said Radjaa, who showed the interrogator his press card as a response. The questions ran together. Everyone asked him then if he spoke Hebrew, if he had relations with Ramallah. The young partisans of Hamas interrogated him tenaciously: "Are you a reporter for Israel?"

Radjaa repeated that he worked only for French media and an Algerian radio channel.

It was then that the three men delivered him this message: "It's your choice. We are the local council. We're relaying to you the message of Qassam. You must remain at your house and turn over your passport."*

Stunned to be targeted by the brigades Ezzedine al-Qassam, the armed branch of Hamas, the armed branch of Hamas, Radjaa tried to defend himself and even just to understand why such a decision had been taken against him. In vain. "It's impossible to communicate with these people," the reporter said with bite.

...

"IT'S FOR THE BEST"

The man who seemed to be in charged relaxed finally and hit him with this**: "It's for the best that you leave Gaza as soon as possible. I don't want to see you here, you shouldn't leave your house anymore and you should stop working." It was explained to him that it was too dangerous for him to remain now in his hometown....

The messagers from Qassam wanted nothing misunderstood: "You are shut down." **

It was too late for him to leave the town, so he decided to sleep at the offices of a local press bureau. At ten at night, he received a call from the landlord telling him that he had to leave that place too -- apparently he'd gotten the word from Hamas.

But Radjaa convinced him to let him sleep the night.

Then, he got his ass out of there.

Incidentally, they also accused him of being some kind of agent of Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Hamas' rival/partner Fatah.

And remember: this guy's a Palestinian who lives part of the year in Palestine.

* I assume that by "donner tes papiers" they mean "turn over your passport."

** I don't know if they're saying "hit him with this statement" or physically hit him. I'm inclined to think it's the former, or they'd've made a bigger deal out of it.

*** I'm a bit iffy on this "you are shut down" translation.


Posted by Ace at 04:29 PM Comments



The Guardian: ISIS Orders All Girls and Women in Mosul To Have Their Clitoris Severed From Their Bodies

—Ace

I thought I would say what they're actually ordering instead of just saying FGM.

Please note that there are claims that this report is ill-founded. Some claim this fatwa was issued a year ago, by ISIL (ISIL is now called ISIS). I suppose this is intended to suggest the fatwa won't be carried out, or was issued without the intent of actually seeing the fatwa through.

I'm not quoting those parts, though, because I want to quote the other parts. But the claim is in fact challenged.


Report says 'fatwa' issued by militant group in and around Iraqi city could affect 4 million, but doubts expressed on social media

...


The United Nations said on Thursday that militant group Islamic State (Isis) had ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq's northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation.

All girls and women up to age 49 must have their "immoral" clitoris excised from their body.

...

There was no immediate comment from Islamic State which has led an offensive through northern and western Iraq.

...

Worldwide, more than 130 million girls and women have undergone FGM and more than 700 million women alive today were children when they were married.

Shortly after 9/11, the left modified its behaviors and arguments to appear more reasonable, more decent.

But a couple of years after 9/11, the left began discussing 9/11 and the War on Terror in way that was repulsive.

A few years after the shock of it, the Left began discussing the war between the West and the Islamist terrorists who would destroy it as not having anything to do with them.

They began discussing the War as if it were some silly shit caused by itchy-trigger-finger Christianists who just Hate Muslims and Muslim Religious Extremists.

They began speaking and acting as if it was not only their right, but their duty, to pretend that this War had nothing at all to do with them, and that the War would just stop if those Stupid Christianist Warmongers would stop poking the Muslims.

They speak as if we're making all this stuff up as propaganda for our Christianist Religious War.

It's good to note, occasionally, that they are fools, cowards, and liars, who make up fantastical stories to excuse their absence from even thinking about an actual war on civilization, modernity, peace, freedom, and the values of The Enlightenment.

While the simultaneously pose as the mighty champions of these things.

On ISIL vs. ISIS: Weft-cut loop has an interesting and, to my ears at least, authorative-sounding explanation as to the difference in the names.

To wit, that there is no difference:

Not that it matters, but;

The current name of the group in english is officially the "Islamic State". Just plain 'ole 'IS'.

ISIL = is the English translation of their name from arabic, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Levant is a geographic region that includes part but not all of Syria,
Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Kuwait, Cyprus, and parts of Turkey.

ISIS = is a partially translated version; Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al Sham was translated as the Levant but for some reason the AP and other reporting wires decided a half-assed translation was somehow better than the complete translated ISIL. The last 's' did not mean Syria exclusively.

Posted by Ace at 02:54 PM Comments

Our Enemy, The Sun: Two Years Ago, A Massive and Potentially Catastrophic Coronal Ejection Just Barely Missed The Earth

—Ace

We probably would have survived.

Most of us, anyway.

It would depend on how well humans adapted to living without electricity for a few months or a year.

Fortunately, the blast site of the CMEs was not directed at Earth. Had this event occurred a week earlier when the point of eruption was Earth-facing, a potentially disastrous outcome would have unfolded.

"I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did," Baker tells NASA. "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire."


... NASA offers this sobering assessment:

Analysts believe that a direct hit ...could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.

. . .

According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.

CWG’s Steve Tracton put it this way in his frightening overview of the risks of a severe solar storm: "The consequences could be devastating for commerce, transportation, agriculture and food stocks, fuel and water supplies, human health and medical facilities, national security, and daily life in general."

Read on. One guy claims that the odds of experiencing this type of direct hit in the next ten years are... ten percent.

This story immediately called to mind a piece I had seen discussed at Volokh about the Fermi Paradox.

The Paradox goes like this: There are a huge number of stars in the universe. There are 100-400 billion in our galaxy alone, and there are 100-400 billion galaxies. (IIRC.)

Given all those stars, surely some would have generated life (assuming, of course, that life does not require a divine genesis) and reached the technological capacity to communicate with us or even travel to our planet and say "Hello."

So: Where are they?

But that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is this: Given the assumptions of the first part of the paradox (that it is almost a statistical certainty that some number of alien planets should have generated technologically-advanced life by now), and the fact of the second part (that we've seen nothing), then we need an explanation for this -- why is the universe so deathly silent?

And "deathly" is the key word there.

And one of those explanations is that technologically advanced societies just cannot live very long at all. They die very quickly.

This would explain why no one's picked up the Space Phone to say hello: Because shortly after inventing the Space Phone, they were all wiped out.

Or set back a thousand years.

By what?

Well, that's why the coronal mass ejection story jogged my memory.

Maybe stars are a lot more lethal than we know. After all, we wouldn't know how lethal a star could be until after it had already killed us all -- at which point, we would no longer be around to remember or document this fact in books.

This guy talks about this in this more-academic article, noting that the "Great Sieve" -- whatever factor it is that sharply limits the number of technologically advanced societies-- must either be in our past (that is, it is virtually impossible for life to arise, and hence we should not be surprised that there's none of it out there) or in our future (that at some point it is nearly inevitable that a civilization destroys itself, or is destroyed by regularly-operating forces which periodically return it to the stone age, or just actual stone).

And if that's the case -- that the Great Sieve lay before us -- then we have to wonder about when our planetary ticket is scheduled to be punched.

It's actually pretty sobering stuff.

If the difficult part is behind us, we're okay. If we're just extraordinary/lucky to exist at all, then the Hard Part was already accomplished a billion years ago.

But if the difficult part lay ahead of us, we might soon be joining all those thousands or millions of intelligent species that weren't able to stick around long enough to say hello to anyone else.

(That link was cribbed from Volokh too -- or, more accurately, Ilya Somin.)

Corrected: I stupidly failed to say "100-400 billion" galaxies. My claim that there are only 100-400 galaxies in the universe was a typo.


Posted by Ace at 01:25 PM Comments

Heat Map of John Walsh's Paper

—Ace

In this New York Times map, Yellow indicates "Plagiarism," and Pink indicates "En Fuego Plagiarism."

Okay, just kidding. Yellow indicates where he footnoted sentences entirely or substantially lifted from a source, but did not put the words in quotes to indicate they were being quoted. Pink indicates where he wrote sentences entirely or substantially lifted from a source, and did not even footnote or otherwise acknowledge the source.

White indicates passages which seem to be his own words.

There's not a lot of white in the map. Don't be fooled by all the white from pages 14 to 19 -- on page 14, his footnotes begin (actually, they're endnotes).

Page 13 is particularly a problem. It's all Pink. These are the his key recommendations -- all substantially borrowed from a Carnegie Endowment policy brief.

Earlier, Walsh's aide had floated a soft version of the "He had PTSD" excuse. When she claimed this, she said he had some kind of post-"experiential" syndrome, owing to the recent suicide of a fellow soldier, but was not professionally treated for it.

Then the story got traction, and Walsh now says he did have PTSD, and he did get treated for it.


Posted by Ace at 11:56 AM Comments

Open Thread

—rdbrewer


Per-Andre Hoffman

Posted by rdbrewer at 11:09 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments (7-24-2014)

—Andy

OK, today I didn't forget. Gabe must just be catching up on all his fancy lawyerin'.

Here's some actual news-ish content. Obama's going after "tax inversions" today. This isn't a good idea, a substitute for broader corporate tax reform, or even intended to pass. It's just a cudgel to beat up the GOP in an election year.

But cynicism is no substitute for hope, etc. says the Obama Cliche Generator.

Posted by Andy at 08:09 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (7-23-2014)

—Maetenloch

First a little mood music...

The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Jazz Gehort und Gesehen in Germany

30 minutes of cool jazz awesomeness from their 1960 tour.

Quote of the Day I

Nor do you ever have to lie in bed and watch some mawkish film about Nelson Mandela or one made by Michael Moore. (They don't think you're demented because you'd rather watch Die Hard.) And right-wing women never think that leaving the toilet seat up is a passive-aggressive act of patriarchy.

-- Cosmo Landesman in The Lust That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Quote of the Day II - Cause Racists Gotta Racify

For the record, all the "villains" on Thomas and Friends are the dirty diesel engines. I'd like to think there was a good environmental message in there, but when the good engines pump out white smoke and the bad engines pump out black smoke - and they are all pumping out smoke - it's not hard to make the leap into race territory.

-- Tracy Van Slyke of the Guardian who's unclear on the difference between steam and smoke among many, many other things.

Continue reading


Posted by Maetenloch at 10:25 PM Comments

Hey We Should Really Pass That Cornyn-Cuellar Compromise, STAT

—Ace

One of the provisions of that was that children would either be granted asylum or scheduled for deportation within ten days.

That's supposed to signal that we're getting serious about border control.

But what if they just stocked the ranks of the judges with soft-touches on asylum? And just granted it to 90% of all who asked for it?

What a ridiculous right wing conspiracy theory, eh?

From February, when, unknown to most of us, the border situation was hitting crisis levels:

Judge who oversees juvenile immigration docket is replaced

by DIANNE SOLÍS

A Dallas immigration judge known for tough enforcement is no longer handling cases involving minors.

...

Local immigration attorneys said the change could reduce tension and add flexibility to cases involving children and teenagers....

Calls to the two judges were referred to Kathryn Mattingly, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. She said they would not comment on the change but added her office "may shift docket assignments to best meet the needs of the agency."

The number of court cases involving adult and juvenile immigrants continues to increase in North Texas and other regions.

Oh, and you know that the kids in our custody are being assigned a hearing date, then being seeded out across America?

How many of them do you think show up for that hearing?

Well, here's some idea.

The youths were among 20 from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala who were set to appear in federal immigration court Tuesday for initial deportation hearings. But they weren’t there -- 18 of the children whose cases were set to be heard didn't show up Tuesday for court.

It was an absentee rate that federal Immigration Judge Michael Baird said was "highly unusual," so high that he reset the hearings for Aug. 11 rather than possibly issuing a deportation order.

So 18 out of 20 didn't show up.

The judge (this is the one who replaced the other judge, by the way!) said it was likely the kids just didn't get notice of their hearing date, so it's probably the government's fault, and he'll just reschedule rather than issue a deportation order.

Yeah, I can see why open borders agitators like this guy better.

From @Allout1 (Dr. Spank).

Posted by Ace at 08:04 PM Comments

Dumb Media Gun Story of the Week

—Ace

So, apparently we'll just have one of these embarrassments from this day forth.

So Beretta has announced plans to move its factory from gun-controlling Maryland to gun-rights-respecting Tennessee. This gives the gun-control people, and perhaps some Maryland legislatures, a case of the Bothers, and they've been looking to rake Beretta for embarrassing them since.

That's my speculation here: That they've been looking for any kind of reason to claim Beretta is terrible, just terrible, and they've seized upon a routine press release about a rifle as their vehicle of retribution.

I can't think of any other reason this ridiculous article got written.

Announcing the "unusually powerful" new Beretta rifle -- in the unusually powerful caliber of 5.56mm.

In addition, this guy needs you to know that Beretta describes people who might use this weapon as "tactical shooters," which is, he informs you, a term used "in video games:"

In common usage, "tactical shooter" is one of the descriptions of video game features.

What?!

I don't even know what the hell that sentence even means. "One of the descriptions of video game features"? What does this mean? What could this mean?

The statement is literally senseless. It's wrong-- sure. But even worse, I'm not sure it's wrong, because I have no earthly idea what this idiot intended to mean by this strange assortment of words.

As for this SuperWeapon being "unusually powerful:"

Beretta's press release makes no claims whatsoever about a 5.56mm rifle being "unusually powerful" -- probably because people would laugh at them if they did.

Instead, their press release calls out the gun for being "reliable" and "versatile." They also talk about the gun being "ambidextrous," which perhaps is a word whose meaning Yahoo's Finance Editor (or whatever he is) doesn't know.

Maybe he thinks it means "filled with crocodiles."

Anyway, there's a lot to laugh at here. I've barely scratched the surface.

I can't wait to read this guy's dispatches on finance. He seems to really know what he's talking about.

Thanks to @comradearthur.

Posted by Ace at 06:39 PM Comments

Hey, Remember That Teenager Who Left Home (Because Her Parents Didn't Approve Of Her Boyfriend) and Then Sued Her Parents for Upkeep and Allowance?

—Ace

Well that's all working out about as well as you might have imagined.

Rachel Canning, the teenager who moved out of her parents' home and then sued them for support and college costs, has gotten a domestic violence temporary restraining order against her boyfriend -- the man her parents had wanted her to stop seeing.

She accuses the boyfriend of having choked her.


Posted by Ace at 06:13 PM Comments

Whoa: Democratic Senator John Walsh of Montana Plagiarized 25% of His 2007 War College Masters Thesis

—Ace

You might not have known about this Senate race, which is my way of saying I didn't know about it, and I don't want to feel stupid about that, so I'm going to graciously forgive your not knowing about it.

Walsh was appointed Senator in Montana last month (Montana-- why do you elect Democratic governors? Are you stupid?) to replace Max Baucus.

The Democrats had been doing their usual Red State play -- put up a guy who talks conservative and has a conservative-seeming biography, who will then vote lockstep with Harry Reid.

They were hoping this Walsh would hold the seat he was appointed to, mentioning his military service (in the National Guard, but he served in Iraq) as a key qualification to the post.

You know -- Honor. Integrity. Military Values.

This will damage that storyline.

And this is the NYT, incidentally.

[O]ne of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh's 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh's master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors' works, with no attribution.

Here's the thing: we're not talking about a youthful indiscretion, here. He submitted this paper in 2007 -- when he was 46 years old.

Why, that's practically old enough to be kicked off his parents' insurance policy!

Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy," is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic.

He also directly lifted two sentences from a Harvard paper by Sean M. Lynn-Jones.

Mr. Walsh does not footnote or cite Mr. Lynn-Jones’s essay, titled "Why the United States Should Spread Democracy," anywhere in his paper.

That's a problem, because not only did he not properly cite the source of the sentences, he did not even acknowledging reading the paper anywhere else in his paper. Which gives rise to a suspicion that he was trying to hide its provenance.

Walsh claims he didn't do anything wrong, at least not "intentionally."

Now, check out how his aides are pushing back against the story:

On Wednesday, a campaign aide.. said Mr. Walsh was going through a difficult period at the time he wrote the paper, noting that one of the members of his unit from Iraq had committed suicide in 2007, weeks before it was due.

The aide said Mr. Walsh, who served in Iraq from November 2004 to November 2005, "dealt with the experience of post-deployment," but acknowledged he had not sought treatment.

Are.

You.

Kidding.

Me.

Thesis papers take a year to write. Sometimes they take multiple years.

You don't plagiarize one quarter (or more!) of the paper in a two week period where you have the Sadz.

The Times report is all worth reading. Near the end, they cite the War College's policy on plagiarism.

Spoiler: They're not only against it, they're really really against it.

And they specifically state that "forgetting" to cite another author -- their word precisely -- is a serious form of academic fraud.

By the way, here's how the unbiased reporter Blake Hounshell of the unbiased rag Politico chose to report the story:


Update/Correction: Someone Who Knows stuff says the War College offers a one-year masters, and no paper would take that full year to write.

Posted by Ace at 04:25 PM Comments

IRS Head John Koskinen Now Says... They've Found Some of those Old Email Back Up Tapes?

—Ace

I wonder if these tapes will feature any "artifacts" which result in the loss of information.

If I'm reading this right, they haven't found the Lois Lerner backup tapes per se. What they've found is some old backup tapes, covering the time period of Lerner's "lost emails," which they thought they'd recycled.

They "recycle," or "destroy," I think is the better word, the tapes every six months. But I guess they didn't destroy these.

Or something.

They do not know however if these particular backup tapes contain anything relating to Lerner.*

But they're checking. They're checkin', real hard.

The head of the IRS confirmed Wednesday that investigators looking into missing emails from ex-agency official Lois Lerner have found and are reviewing "backup tapes" -- despite earlier IRS claims that the tapes had been recycled.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know "how they found them" or "whether there's anything on them or not." But he said the inspector general's office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any "recoverable" material.

The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes "no longer exist because they have been recycled."

It is unclear whether the tapes in IG custody contain any Lerner emails, but Koskinen said investigators are now checking.

Thanks to Tami.

* Other readers interpret this differently. They think the tapes are the "Lois Lerner backup tapes" (well, Lois Lerner, and everyone else at the IRS), and the IRS is saying they'll review the tapes to see if there are discoverable emails -- that is, emails they've decided were requested by Congress.

Of course, in adversarial situations, a party has a strong incentive to say "Having reviewed this material, I find nothing discoverable that I have to turn over to you."

They could also claim, conceivably, that communications with White House staff aren't "discoverable" as they would be covered by executive privilege.

I don't even want to think about this.


Posted by Ace at 02:50 PM Comments

The Independent (UK): Tear gas fired at ["Mostly Peaceful"] pro-Palestinians demonstrators in Paris

—Ace

Everything except the brackets is in their headline -- the bracketed part comes from the article itself.

Riot police fired tear gas and fought running battles with pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Paris this afternoon after a banned protest march turned violent.

It just "turned" violent. Who can say who is responsible?

About 6,000 mostly peaceful protesters assembled in the Barbès area of northern Paris in defiance of a government ban. When the march was blocked by police lines after only 500 metres, a minority of young protesters started to hurl stones, bottles and sticks at the riot police.

Let's see what those mostly peaceful/minority of young protesters might look like in actual action:

Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 01:56 PM Comments

Bad Polling News For Hillary: Less Than Half of Americans Say Hillary Clinton "Shares My Ability to Walk Under My Own Power"

—Ace

Well okay they didn't say that, but that's probably just because the Skewed Poll never asked the question.

Here's what they did say:


That last question, "understands middle class problems," is where Democrats usually own the GOP.

Click the first link for more.

After having written that headline, I realized I've really worn the Walker joke out.

Thus, I am retiring the Walker joke. To mark the occasion with the appropriate amount of solemnity, I am including a video tribute to the joke, in the form of Lionel Ritchie's moodily reminiscent "Say You, Say Me."

Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 12:46 PM Comments

Obama: Now I'm Not Bothering to Watch the News, Either

—Ace

The guy who only learns about major stories from the news is now not bothering to watch the news?

Because he already knows it all?

All right sir.

Whatever you say, this week.

Mr. Obama told supporters [at a Democratic fundraiser] that he doesn’t watch the news because, “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know.”

That contrasts with the explanations that the president and his aides have given from scandals in the past few years ranging from long wait times and deaths at the VA, to the IRS targeting tea party groups, to the Fast and Furious gun-running operation, and the Department of Justice spying on news reporters.

At Hot Air (the first link), some video memories of All The Times Obama has claimed to have only learned of some major scandal he did from the news reports, just like you all.

President Barack "Smooth Chill" Obama

Huh? Like whatever, man.

Posted by Ace at 11:50 AM Comments

The Curious thing about the Scratched Hard Drive [krakatoa]

—Open Blogger

The latest scraps from the IRS aren't much better than the first few courses we've been presented.

I'm not speaking as a current computer tech. Those days are long past, and now it's just a hobby. But I do have some relevant experience in all this.

I can only assume they are talking about one of the hard drive "platters" being scratched. This would be the actual disk or disks within a hard drive case. The pretty shiny disks you see here are the platters:

hard Drive.jpg

That tri-claw looking armature at the bottom of the platters is the read/write arm. Its heads hover close to the platters, but should never touch them.

Assuming there was a scratch, there are pretty much only two ways such a scratch could occur.

Continue reading


Posted by Open Blogger at 09:50 AM Comments

Wednesday Morning Open Thread

—BenK

Sorry, too busy to put something together. Check back tomorrow.

Posted by BenK at 09:07 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments 7-23-14

—Gabriel Malor

Happy Wednesday.

Fake applicants are having no trouble signing up for Obamacare and its tax subsidies.

President Obama says he doesn't watch much news because he knows it all, y'know, except for all his scandals which he'd never heard anything about until he saw them on the news. What a tool.

CNN hastens to emphasize that Obama's bad favorability numbers aren't dropping.

Posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:50 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (7-22-2014)

—Maetenloch

Because of the laziness.

isairport obamacareappeal8894

ukrainetop_20140722_181507 color668-e6BMy.St.55.jpeg

ksc_m92_elite_beretta_box_wallpaper_hd-normal caesarsatcitrobindex

HT_Boston_Magazine_Tsarnaev_nt_130718_3x2_992 srLbORNEU2Y05O9J

garner23 beatlestree

auschwitz-selfie-story-top 23UP-cat-master675

reiner23f-2-web 823258882083600674

1406043349000-AP-Summer-Fruits-Vegetables 105S9W_003_R-Perspective_Black_8

clippersDR121113 dungy334

140721114530-monty-python-final-show-story-body dndorigindex

Continue reading


Posted by Maetenloch at 10:04 PM Comments

AOSHQDD Primary Night: Georgia Senate Runoff

—Brandon Finnigan

UPDATE:



Hello and welcome again to another addition of the Decision Desk.

The Georgia Senate primary is down to two: Purdue and Kingston. Kingston is favored in polling, but Perdue has a presumed edge out of Atlanta. We'll know who gets to roll over Nunn in a few short hours.
You can follow us along for interesting county results on twitter @AOSHQDD

And our live site is up and running at aoshqdd.com

As always, a big shout out to our numerous volunteers from the horde.

Posted by Brandon Finnigan at 09:39 PM Comments

Rob Reiner: I Really Love Acting, Because Actors Have No Responsibilities At All and Can Just Treat Their Jobs Like a Party!

—Ace

Maybe it's true.

But maybe it's not a smart thing to say, for a director.

A director of actors, I mean.

Ask Bronx native Rob Reiner about climbing out of the director's chair and stepping in front of the lens, and the man who earned five Golden Globe nominations for acting on CBS's "All in the Family" sitcom offers a broad smile.

"I love acting; it's fun. I don't have any responsibilities," Reiner told the New York Daily News about his latest directorial effort....

"To me, acting is like a party. It's like a fun thing to do. You don't have to worry. You don't have to agonize about anything."

He then complained that Hollywood doesn't make movies about "real people" anymore, which is, of course, almost completely true.

"They make three types of movies, and if you don't make one of those three, you have to find independent financing: It's either big-action superhero tent-pole thing or it's an animated film or it's an R-rated, raunchy sex comedy," he lamented. "They don't make movies about real people."

Reiner's latest movie is about a romance between Michael Douglas and Dianne Keaton, because he wants to return to making "the kind of movies that the public just doesn't want to see."

Okay I made that up. But, you know.

Here's an interesting story.

A husband and wife had not been having sex much lately. The husband, to illustrate this, took to plotting his Sex Requests, Achieved Sex, and Sex Turn-Downs on an Excel spreadsheet, and presented it to his wife.

Over the course of the past 7 weeks, he'd asked for sex 27 times, and had been turned down 24. He had sex three times.

The wife presented this to some forum and it became fodder on Reddit.

Mollie Hemingway strikes out for the first time by taking the woman's position way too much, and her husband sells out the male race by telling her "You're right, I have thought about complaining about this or that, but I should just put that energy into improving myself," or words to that effect.

What a betrayal of Team Man.

Anyway, I won't go into what I think too much, as this is such a sensitive topic and everyone has fairly strong opinions on it.

I will say that I saw the Reddit people discussing this and I thought one made a pretty good point: The woman's position was that she was in a "busy period" and that sex just wasn't convenient.

However, for any working adults -- especially with children -- it will always be a busy period. Saying you can't have sex during a busy period is pretty much just saying you can't have sex except on vacation, one or two weeks a year. (And most vacations, involving travel, are themselves very physically tiring, and will themselves produce a lot of reasons why sex is not convenient.)

Sure, the guy's spreadsheet is a bit much, of course.

Posted by Ace at 06:55 PM Comments

Ways & Means Committee: We've Learned From Interviews that Lois Lerner's Hard Drive Was "Scratched," But Internal IRS IT Experts Thought The Data Was Recoverable

—Ace


Seems big:

Despite early refusals to make available IT professionals who worked on Lois Lerner’s computer, Ways and Means Committee investigators have now learned from interviews that the hard drive of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner was "scratched," but data was recoverable. In fact, in-house professionals at the IRS recommended the Agency seek outside assistance in recovering the data. That information conflicts with a July 18, 2014 court filing by the Agency, which stated the data on the hard drive was unrecoverable -- including multiple years' worth of missing emails.

"It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). "The Committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical drive was recycled and potentially shredded. To now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS."

Earlier the Washington Post collected six questions from IT professionals they'd like to ask about this "crashed" hard drive.

Here are a few of those:

1.) What happened to the IRS’s IT asset managers who appear to have disappeared at a key juncture?


Ordering the destruction of a hard drive and documenting that process would be handled by trained, certified IT asset managers, according to IAITAM. But the group's records show that at least three IRS IT asset managers were shuffled out of their positions around the time of the May 2013 inspector general's report that detailed the agency’s targeting practices.

IAITAM said investigators need to "determine if these in-house IT asset managers were removed from the picture as the IRS email investigation heated up."

2.) Where is the documentation to prove that the IRS wiped or destroyed Lois Lerner’s hard drive?

So far, we only have the word of IRS officials. IAITAM said its standards call for clear proof and records of destruction when drives are wiped or eliminated."“Until that documentation is provided, the hard drives should be considered lost, not destroyed," Rembiesa said.

3.) Were the drives destroyed by an outside vendor or firm? If so, by who, and can they verify the destruction?

Hiring a specialized firm to destroy IT assets is not unusual for federal agencies, according to IAITAM. If the IRS used this method to destroy Lerner’s hard drive, there would be an additional layer of documentation to show that the action took place, the group said.


...

6.) Where are Lois Lerner’s Blackberry e-mails?

IAITAM said investigators need to determine whether the IRS’s Blackberry communications are secure and what is on the "enterprise server."

"It is difficult to imagine that none of the emails in question were done on a mobile basis," Rembiesa said. "If so, there may be a freestanding stream of email records that would not be impacted by the Lerner hard drive loss."

So now I have another question: How often is a hard drive found to have been physically scratched, and how often does this lead to a total, catastrophic full-disk lost of information?

Because it sure seems to me that a scratch would result in bad sectors -- parts of the disk which were no longer readable. But these bad sectors would be a tiny percentage of the whole drive.

Does the IRS not know this?

Have they never dealt with a "scratched" hard drive before?


Posted by Ace at 05:20 PM Comments

Defying Allies, Ignoring Ukraine Shoot-Down, France Does What Everyone Expected Them To Do and Pledges to Go Forward With Delivery of Advanced Amphibious Warship to Russia

—Ace

France has no eternal allies, only eternal self-concerns.

President Francois Hollande won broad domestic applause on Tuesday for defying allies Britain and the United States by confirming plans to deliver a helicopter carrier to Russia, with one backer dismissing the objections as hypocritical.

Speaking on the eve of an EU meeting to discuss sanctions on Moscow over the downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, Hollande said late on Monday that a first Mistral warship would be handed over on schedule in October but a decision on a second would depend on Russia's attitude.

It was the clearest signal yet that Paris will go through with the controversial deal despite the Ukraine crisis and came only hours after British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would be "unthinkable" for his country to fulfil such an order.

The United States has also said it opposes the sale, which has exposed France to criticism that it is putting its own interests ahead of Western solidarity over Ukraine.

DrewM (who sent this article) makes this point:

Obama's claim in 2008 and again in 2012 was not that he had a radically different foreign policy (he claimed it was not radically different from the American mainstream), but that he was simply smarter, better at leveraging "soft power," and better at dealing with allies than anyone in the GOP (or anyone in the world, actually).

Apart from his determination to exit Iraq, he did not run on a claim that he would completely undo American foreign policy; just that his charisma, understanding, and intelligence would permit him to handle a mainstream foreign policy better.

Is there any evidence whatsoever of this being true?

Is there one single thing he's accomplished through his much-vaunted personal appeal?

Posted by Ace at 04:54 PM Comments

This Is So Awful That I Must Share

—Ace

You know, what "multiculturalism" means, in actual practice, is that you don't just get to experience your own culture's dysfunctions and massive trove of shit art; you get to enjoy the dysfunctions and shit art of foreigners as well.


I came across this in a French newspaper which is ticking down the biggest Hits of the Summer for the last several decades in France.

So, the below was a huge hit. Per Wikipedia:

"Joe le taxi" (English: "Joe the Taxi Driver") is a French song written by Franck Langolff and Étienne Roda-Gil for French singer Vanessa Paradis. It was later included in her debut album, M&J, which was released in 1988.

It's nice that the singer is 14, but the writers aren't, and the song is horrible. It doesn't even seem like an actual song to me. I don't even hear a melody, nevermind a hook.

And yet it was at the top of the charts for 11 weeks in France -- and, inexplicably, for three in England.

Anyway, this is just so terrible, I think you need to watch it.

Top of the charts. Not "on the charts." Topped them. Runaway summer smash.


Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 04:10 PM Comments

Beretta Moving Its Entire Maryland Gun Factory to More Hospitable State of Tennessee

—Ace


Beretta's press release is interesting.

Beretta USA Announces Decision to Move Its Entire Maryland Manufacturing Capabilities to Tennessee


Beretta U.S.A. Corp., located in Accokeek, Maryland, announced today that it has decided to move its manufacturing capabilities from its existing location to a new production facility that it is building in Gallatin, Tennessee. The Gallatin facility is scheduled to be opened in mid-2015. Beretta U.S.A. had previously planned to use the new Gallatin, Tennessee facility for new machinery and production of new products only.

"During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world. While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the State," stated Jeff Cooper, General Manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

"While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility," Cooper added.

Interesting, I think, that Beretta did get the Maryland state government to back down -- but then decided it did not feel like being routinely threatened by an overweening and hostile local government.

Maybe a bit of bad timing to announce this a year before the move -- doesn't Maryland have an incentive to punish them now?

Posted by Ace at 03:36 PM Comments

Pundit: Hillary Is "Finished" as a Political Candidate

—Ace

Lemme just put up a quick one. This seems pretty provocative. Worth thinking about, anyway, I guess.

This guy doubts Hillary will run at all, and says she can't win even if she does.

By Robert W. Merry

Hillary Clinton isn’t likely ever to become president of the United States. In fact, there is a greater possibility than is generally recognized by the Washington cognoscenti that she won’t even run. If she does, though, the barriers she faces will prove overwhelming. Her 2008 campaign was her last good shot for the office, and she failed. Since then, numerous developments have conspired steadily to diminish her prospects. Those prospects are now near zero.

...


The country is at an inflection point brought on by its crisis of political deadlock. It desperately needs a new brand of politics that can break the deadlock and set it upon a new course toward its future and destiny....

If so, Mrs. Clinton isn’t going to be able to withstand these winds of change. Her recent autobiography betrays a politician seemingly devoid of fresh thinking or even a recognition of what kind of political message is required by the temper of our times. In some eras of our political past, this wouldn’t have been a handicap. In today’s political climate, it is likely to be fatal.

...

And so it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that for 2016, Hillary’s handicaps are insurmountable. [T]here is a greater likelihood than is generally recognized that she will vacate the field before the battle begins.

Eh, I love quoting all that, but I believe none of it.

Merry's reasons for claiming Hillary cannot win -- that we are in a "transitional" period in politics, and Hillary is too hidebound to establishment, "old" thinking -- is maybe something to consider, but it's merely a prediction based on speculation about a hypothesis. We are pretty far, in this statement, from anything tangible.

Furthermore, it is very possible that both the Democrat and GOP nominee will be bound by "old" style thinking.

The GOP candidate will be so pegged whether he aligns with the Establishment or the Tea Party. If the Establishment, well, that's clearly business-as-usual, same as Bush.

If the Tea Party, well, that's bringing us back to the old-style thinking of the 1920s -- same as Calvin Coolidge.

In no election, ever, will the media ever permit anyone but a Democrat to carry the mantle (by the way, how the hell do you carry or wear a mantle? seems pretty heavy) of the future-seeking nominee.

As for Hillary not running at all: The woman is nothing if not -- to say something nice --tenacious, and -- to say something not terribly nice -- ambitious, zealous for the cause of Women Just Like Her, and scheming.

Unless Hillary is in dire health, or suffers from a catastrophic Walker Mishap that renders her unable to run, I just can't see this woman not running.

This is her lifelong singular ambition. She's done very little else except but to position herself to become President. In most cases, her positioning was successful (in as much as each of her schemes did in fact bring her within sniffing distance of the Oval Office).

Now she's on the verge. She will almost certainly beat any comer in the Democratic primary-- which makes the possibility of her becoming president a coin-flip, fifty/fifty.

Better than fifty-fifty, actually, given the nation's unwelcome Preference Cascade in support of big government and socialistic policies. Something like 55/45.

How on earth could anyone not throw her hat in the ring when she's that close -- a 55/45 coin flip in her advantage -- to achieving her lifelong dream?

And she is very, very, extremely old, so when I say "lifelong," I'm talking about decades and decades and old and brokedown and the growing infirmity of the elder mind.

Mantle: Okay, I kinda figured that "mantle" must also mean some piece of clothing or badge of office.

In fact, the first definition is some kind of sleeveless cloak, often worn by bishops.

The "fireplace" definition is definition 14.

Engineering the Perfect Candidate:


Posted by Ace at 02:33 PM Comments

Washington Post Sends Passionately Pro-Palestinian Intern to Cover Small Palestinian Protest at Israel's US Embassy

—Ace

"Hundreds of peaceful protesters," the Washington Post story began.

The picture that runs with the story gives no hint at all of "hundreds" of protesters -- I suppose it might just be the camera angle they chose (choosing to focus on a Code Pink prop), but I'm thinking the correct word here is "dozens."

The story went on to quote one Noura Erakat:

"The U.S. is the primary patron of Israel and provides unequivocal diplomatic and military support," said Noura Erakat, a Palestinian lawyer and professor at George Mason University. "It's a complicit third party in what amounts to a massacre of the Palestinian population entrapped within the Gaza strip."

Check the link to see what this Washington Post intern forgot to tell you about Noura Erakat.

Well, it turns out the intern (who cowrote the story with another person) is a stridently anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian activist.

Gateway Pundit now reports that the Washington Post has issued an apology, of sorts:

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Post covered a protest outside the State Department on July 20 against U.S. policy in the Middle East and Israel’s actions in Gaza. One reporter sent to cover the protest, Britain Eakin, is an intern who has written opinion pieces elsewhere that sharply criticize Israel in the conflict. The Post should not have sent her to cover the protest and, had it known of her writings, would not have done so.

Emphasis added.

I have several questions here. First, if this is standard newspaper practice, shouldn't this Eakin have known that?

Second, it certainly does not seem to be standard newspaper practice to keep partisans on an issue from reporting on it. Sandra Kliff, for example, was a huge partisan for abortion rights, and yet the Post kept her on that beat.

So it seems like Eakin is being punished for being caught red-handed in breaking a "rule" that the overwhelmingly-Democrat-partisan media doesn't actually enforce.

Rather than taking satisfaction that a single, minor intern is being pulled off the beat, isn't the more useful course to press the media to implement this rule more broadly?

Of course, if reporters were to exclude themselves from reporting on any issue they had a strong political interest in -- that's that for the media, huh?

Posted by Ace at 01:30 PM Comments

Annndddd...Now The 4th Circuit Court Of Appeals Upholds IRS ObamaCare Rule That DC Court Struck Down This Morning

—DrewM.

Gotta try and keep up.

Unlike the DC circuit the 4th circuit is all about "context", the plain meaning of words be damned.

This sheds some light on why the administration is going to seek an en banc hearing at the stacked DC circuit. One thing the Supreme Court takes into consideration when deciding to take cases is whether or not there's a split in how various circuits are treating an issue. Right now there's a split but if they go en banc at the DC circuit and the heavily Democratic full court overturns the panel's decision that eliminates the split and could give SCOTUS an out on taking this issue on.

Four justices have to vote in favor of hearing a case before the Supreme Court will hear it. You'd think the four dissenters in the National Federation of Independent Businesses case would vote to have another go at it or they (read here. "Anthony Kennedy") might take the out and avoid having to go down the path of throwing out ObamaCare now that it's been implemented.

*Note to clear something up people are confused about in the comments...these cases were filed, argued, and decided independently. It's just a coincidence the decisions were released within hours of one another.

Posted by DrewM. at 12:42 PM Comments

Court Of Appeals Throws Out ObamaCare Subsidies On Federal Exchange

—DrewM.

flaming_skull2a.gif

Consider this a place holder until Gabe comes along to do a happy dance and break it all down.

(Background on the case here)

So basically anyone who gets their ObamaCare on the federal exchange, which is a lot if not most, can't get subsidies. This would be a death blow to ObamaCare.

This will no doubt be appealed either to the full Court of Appeals, which Obama has packed with his appointees or directly to the Supreme Court.

Either way, John Roberts just threw up in his mouth a little bit.

Basically what happened here is the law says subsidies can only be paid to policies written on state exchanges. Obama then rewrote the law to include the federal exchange because...he wanted to.

This became a big deal when the states didn't create exchanges or they imploded due to poor implementation and more people were forced on to the federal exchange than anticipated.

Liberals maintain the omission of subsidies on the federal exchange was simply a drafting error. Opponents maintained it was a deliberate choice in order to provide incentives for states to create their own exchanges. Either way, the appeals court ruled today that law says what it says (subsidies for state exchanges only) and not what Obama's IRS says it says.

Added: Administration will go for the en banc review before the stacked full court.

Posted by DrewM. at 10:23 AM Comments

Tuesday Morning News Dump

—BenK

Follow me on twitter. Look, I'ma be straight with you. CAC is gaining on me. He can't have more followers that me. He just can't. It would be embarrassing. Follow me on twitter. It's for a good cause. If you don't want to follow me, fine. You are always welcome to unfollow CAC.

Posted by BenK at 09:06 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments (7-22-2014)

—Andy

One can only imagine what fresh embarrassment today may bring from the least competent administration in the history of government. I can hardly wait.

But while we do, this tweet by some EPA employee goofing off on your dime can stand in as a metaphor.

Posted by Andy at 06:59 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (7-21-2014)

—Maetenloch

Quote of the Day

"The bear is loose!" President Obama has been saying, whenever he leaves the White House to visit Starbucks, or sandwich shops, or burger joints, or BBQ shacks, or neighborhood diners, in his increasingly rote and pathetic attempts to "connect" with "real people." Obama, we have been told, is frustrated, "restless," bored with the responsibilities and chores of office. He thinks of himself as the bear-intimidating, wild, untamed, roving-escaping his den. But he is flattering himself. Obama is not the bear. He is the cub: aimless, naive, self-interested, self-indulgent, irresponsible, irresolute. The bear is in Moscow.

-- Matthew Continetti

Quote of the Day II

We might as well replace the civil service with the spoils system. Because right now, we've just got a one-party spoils system.

-- Glenn Reynolds

The Reverse Passover

After 2000 years there are no more Christians in Mosul, Iraq.

In a sort of reverse Passover, ISIS activists have marked the homes of Christians with the letter N for "Nassarah," an Islamic term for Christian, to identify the homes whose inhabitants were to be slaughtered.

mosul600x450x20140719114517.jpg.pagespeed.ic.PkM_PqjTVd

In Mosul, ISIS has decreed that Christians must convert to Islam, acknowledge their status as dhimmis and pay the Jizyah tax, or be beheaded. This shouldn't be surprising; it is nothing more than what the Koran prescribes. To their credit, Mosul's Christians have mostly left their homes behind and fled toward Kurdish-controlled areas where they believe they will be safe.

Continue reading


Posted by Maetenloch at 10:46 PM Comments

WSJ Op-Ed: Hey, Conservatives, Stop Beating Up on Crony Capitalism

—Ace

!!!

He actually, out of his own mouth, seems to equate "big business" with "crony capitalism."

I guess we're not debating the terminology any longer.

Amid the fight for the soul of the Republican Party, some elements of the GOP coalition have become overtly hostile to Big Business.

Defeating crony capitalism has become the battle cry of libertarian conservatives.

The Export-Import Bank has become the latest in a long line of targets that include highway funding, terrorism risk insurance and "too big to fail" banks.

Big Business wants immigration reform and higher academic standards for elementary and secondary schools--policy priorities that drive the hard right into conniptions.

...

What would happen if Big Business decided to change sides? What would happen if the Chamber of Commerce suddenly stopped being a huge fundraising machine for the Republican Party and started financing pro-business Democrats?

Ah, so it's hardball, then.

Well here's another question, then: What if the GOP began pushing a business tax break for small and mid-sized business to be paid for by a tax increase on big business?

So long as we're talking about Things We Each Could Do.

Posted by Ace at 07:42 PM Comments

Afternoon Cute

—Ace

Continue reading


Posted by Ace at 06:16 PM Comments

Netroots Goofs Discuss Why People on the Left Aren't Funny

—Ace

Well, actually they claim that people on the left are super-funny, but maybe there's been some problem getting that message out.

People on the right, they avow, are only perceived as "funny" because they make racist jokes.

"The Left is supposed to be funnier than the Right, damn it," the panel description stated. "So why do we so often sound in public like we’re stiltedly reading from a non-profit grant proposal?"

This defensive tone was apparent throughout the hour-plus session, brought up repeatedly by speakers and audience members. Much like a co-worker who doesn’t get anyone's jokes but insists, "I have a great sense of humor!"

...

"Comedy creates oneness and that is what our side wants," according to Julianna Forlano, host of a news parody without laughter cues called "Absurdity Today."

Absurdity Today -- well, that title alone tells me to tune in for some top-drawer comedy entertainment.

I'm also pretty sure that the best New York and LA comedians talk a lot about creating "a oneness."

She noted how her stand-up performance even created "oneness" at a Pennsylvania Elks Lodge, despite the crowd being filled with racist men (she could tell they were racist from the animal heads displayed on the walls).

Katie Halper agreed with her fellow white comic that racism is endemic in their industry. "When the right says we have no sense of humor, it's a great way for racist/sexist/homophobic men to make themselves seem funny." Halper is a founding principal of Qualified Laughter, a production company "dedicated to comedic social justice media."

Qualified Laughter -- why that sounds like another laugh riot.

Jon Gabriel's piece is worth a read. He notes that the first African-American female member of SNL's cast in a long, long time got in hot water with black critics for making irreverent jokes about slavery.

You can check Jon's link for that, but the basic joke was that she was complaining that only beautiful women are praised, whereas truly "useful" ones like herself -- six feet tall and ready to brawl -- don't get the proper level of praise for their "usefulness" (such as in a back-alley barfight).

She then went on a riff about how, during slavery, she would definitely be valued for her usefulness, and in fact would be assigned to marry the "hottest" male slaves available.

Now, I didn't think this was very funny. Not due to outrage; it was just unfunny in the same way many SNL bits are unfunny, to wit, they just aren't funny.

But offensive?

So this in a nutshell is why the left can't be funny. What this comic was doing was a standard, basic, 101-level comedy trope: mining laughs by treating serious circumstances irreverently. She was hoping for laughs by talking up, strangely, the "good side" of slavery, at least for women like herself, who are more "useful" than beautiful.

And part of what she was doing was playing a character: The character who is so dumb she doesn't realize that slavery would have a lot of downsides that would greatly outweigh any hypothetical impact on her dating options.

But of course this woman knows that. Duh! The whole joke is based on upon her knowledge that the audience will find her statements funny (or, at least, unexpected and incongruous) because of how obviously wrongheaded they are.

She knows it's wrong to talk about slavery as having an Upside. The entire joke hinges on this knowledge being so widely known and deeply felt so as to create a sense of incongruity and absurdity as she goes off on her riff.

And yet her humorless prog critics had to inform her: You know, despite your claims to the contrary, slavery was not a good deal for single women or any other sort of women. *

Really.

I didn't think her jokes were that good. But the fact that she had to publicly answer her very public critics about their absurd claims that she was actually suggesting to people that maybe slavery is kinda like a feel-good romantic comedy demonstrates why the political left is so rarely funny.

It's because many jokes -- not all jokes, but a bit chunk of them, like 40% -- rely on establishing a tension between what the comedian and audience knows is true, and what the comedian is actually saying.

Treating something serious in an irreverent way.

Yes, the comic knows what she's talking about is a Serious Matter. When Sarah Silverman used to tell her rape joke -- that she'd been raped by a doctor, which, she said, for a Jewish girl, is bittersweet -- Sarah Silverman obviously knows that rape is a very serious and horrible thing which should not be joked about.

Which is precisely why she is joking about it. Because the forbidden spaces are often where you find the new and unexpected things.

But anyway, the left has a tremendous number of sacred cows. Every little feel and bother they have, they believe to be Very Serious Indeed, and thus exclude from the realm of joking about 90% of the subjects in the human experience.

Of course, another huge trope of joking is the provocatively cynical statement -- stating, hyperbolically, something dark about human motivations.

And progressive thugs can't bear any joking on that score either, because what they're sure about, more than anything else in the world, is the absolute metaphysical purity of their motives in all their behaviors and demands of their fellow citizens.

And joking about that isn't funny. Indeed, it's heretical and blood libel.


* Actually it occurs to me that this is an important part of progressive priggishness. Whereas I would assume that of course the audience of SNL understands that Slavery is Bad, the psychologically-driven progressive activists feel an intense need to feel superior to other people, and therefore posit, ludicrously, that a significant fraction of SNL's audience might actually think that Slavery Wasn't So Bad and may think this woman is actually making Good Points about the upside of slavery.

They have to flatter themselves by thinking they're smarter than everyone else, but as they're not particularly smart, they have to conceive as the majority of people as being absolutely stupid, at nearly-handicapped levels.

So, yeah, for this sort of "progressive" who is chiefly into the "politics" of the progressive movement as a way to process his own mediocrity (or submediocrity) -- I can see the absolute necessity of constantly postulating that upwards of 60% of the country is borderline mentally retarded and in need of guidance from the 92 IQ All-Stars of the Progressive Left.

By the Way, SNL: Stop having your new cast members come on Weekend Update to do three minutes of their stand-up comedy act by way of introduction.

It's never funny. And I do mean "never."

I think John Mulaney is very funny in his standup act, but when they had him do the same standup bit on Weekend Update, I stared at it stone-faced.

Theoretically I should at least have smiled in recognition, but I didn't.

It's just not the place for it. It's not the format of the show. When a comic comes on and just does three minutes of her act, the audience immediately realizes "Hey, this isn't the SNL format" and wonders, subconsciously, why they're breaking format for this lame bit.

And the reason is -- and I think most people get this -- is that they are trying to prove their new recruit is funny.

So it seems forced and strained, like we're supposed to laugh at the New Girl just because it's her First Week.

But we don't.

So just stop this whole practice entirely. If someone wants to get on the show, they should be bringing new material, and material that fits the SNL format, not barely-rewritten stand-up riffs.

I would also ask that this material be funny, but that is quite far out of reach for anyone on SNL these days.

Posted by Ace at 04:37 PM Comments

IRS Lawyer: Hey, Sorry, But Maybe More Computers of People Who Corresponded with Lois Lerner Crashed, Too; Don't Worry Though, the Number of Crashes Is Less Than Twenty (or So)

—Ace

See, originally, the IRS said that they didn't bother informing Congress that Lois Lerner's hard drive had crashed and her emails lost because they thought they could still recover those emails from other people's hard drives -- the people she corresponded and coordinated with.

The IRS didn't want Congress to get "the wrong idea," they said. They didn't want Congress to go off half-cocked, thinking there was some kind of kooky conspiracy to destroy evidence.

Well. Now they've looked into her correspondents' hard drives to see if the emails could be recovered from them, and whoops, up to 20 additional hard drives may have crashed, a bunch involving people Lerner was known to interact with.

So that's it, then, huh?

Also: Another IRS guy is claiming that maybe Lois Lerner's emails weren't lost; maybe those back-up tapes still exist.

They say they'll look into it.

Look into it, future tense.

Great.

It always seems like the IRS claims there is some possible avenue to getting these emails, before later saying, "nope, that was all destroyed too."

Posted by Ace at 03:09 PM Comments

Obama's Oddly Reassuring Statement to Putin

—Ace

I found Obama's statement strange for how far it went out of its way to reassure Putin that no consequences will follow should he continue attacking the Ukraine (and blowing the occasional airliner out of the sky).

A President does not wish to make it impossible for an aggressive, brutish leader to back down. Brutes are shame-based creatures, and full of machismo. So no president should ever make statements which will activate the Lizard Machismo Complex of the brute's brain, and thus make it impossible for him to back down.

Well, on that score, Mission Accomplished. Obama sure didn't threaten Putin at all.

At all.

But it seems to me he went out of his way to let Putin know that Putin could get away with anything he wants.

First, Obama said:

"My preference continues to be finding a diplomatic resolution within Ukraine--I believe that can still happen, that is my preference today and it will continue to be my preference..."

Why swear, from this day until the end of days, that this will continue to be his preference? Why not leave it at "this is currently my preference?"

Putting it that way leaves open the possibility that that preference could change, without actually making any kind of threat that would activate Putin's You Can't Boss Me Around response.

Instead, Obama broadcasts that he will never seek anything other than a diplomatic solution "within Ukraine," no matter what Putin does.

This is a gratuitous reassurance to Putin. Yes, I agree that the President shouldn't bluster and make empty threats against a brute armed with nuclear missiles, but neither does he have to get on his back and show his belly like a defeated dog.

Then Obama got the part of his statement that seemed like a threat -- but wasn't:

"But if Russia continues to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and to back these separatists, and these separatists become more and more dangerous and now are risks not simply to the people inside of Ukraine, but the broader international community, then Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community and the costs for Russia's behavior will only continue to increase.

Russia will "isolate itself." America will not actively isolate Russia -- no, it will just happen (Obama hopes). The EU will not slap sanctions on Russia -- no, the "isolation" will just naturally proceed along (Obama prays).

Obama here is basically talking about Hoping for a Miracle from God, rather than sketching steps that we ourselves might undertake.

Tyrants don't care about what things an American president prays will happen.

They worry about things an American president will make happen.

Now, I already said that I don't think Obama should make direct threats. But this statement is so weak, so fearful of itself, it can't even state a vaguery in a straightforward manner.

Even the vaguery must be couched in the passive voice.

Even Obama's gauze comes shrouded by haze.

Combining those statements together, I can't see how anyone in the Kremlin could fail to read this as an American greenlight for just about anything Russia wishes to do.

And that makes me wonder why this statement was given at all -- if Obama had chosen to remain silent, at least there would have been mystery about his possible responses and current line of thinking.

Instead he went out there to tell Putin not to sweat it, that the US would not do a damned thing, ever.

That said, Russia has promised -- supposedly -- to grant inspectors "unfettered access" to the crash site, and an hour or so ago they promised that the separatists would turn over the plane's black boxes (probably after ascertaining there was no evidence on them directly suggesting Russian involvement).

Posted by Ace at 01:55 PM Comments

Washington Post: Obama Administration Had Prior Warnings of Coming Border Crisis

—Ace

Of course.

In 2013, researchers at the border warned of a coming deluge.

The researchers' observations were among the warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years as a surge of Central American minors has crossed into south Texas illegally. More than 57,000 have entered the United States this year, swamping federal resources and catching the government unprepared.


The administration did too little to heed those warnings, according to interviews with former government officials, outside experts and immigrant advocates, leading to an inadequate response that contributed to this summer's escalating crisis.

Federal officials viewed the situation as a "local problem," said Victor Manjarrez Jr., a former Border Patrol station chief who led the UTEP study. The research, conducted last year, was funded by the Department of Homeland Security and published in March. A broader crisis was "not on anyone’s radar," Manjarrez added, even though "it was pretty clear this number of kids was going to be the new baseline."

Meanwhile, Rick Perry himself had been writing letters to Obama warning him of the growing problem.

And of course Rick Perry has ordered 1000 National Guardsmen to the border.

Posted by Ace at 12:32 PM Comments



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Top Headlines
LifeNews: Feminist Studies Professor Who Assaulted Pro-Lifer Pleads No Contest to Criminal Charges
"Roundy McFatface has entered a plea of nolo contendere (no contest) to the criminal charges against her, which include grand theft, vandalism, and battery." Via @GabrielMalor. [rdbrewer]


Noah Rothman: ISIS reportedly orders women and girls of Mosul to undergo ‘genital mutilation’
"Following the purge of Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul and the destruction of a nearly 2,000-year-old Christian house of worship, fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have continued to impose a grotesque and medieval form of Sharia Law on the city’s remaining Muslim residents." Also from HotAir: The West is losing Cold War II. [rdbrewer]


Popular Mechanics: The Looming Threat of a Solar Superstorm
A couple of years old. Related to Ace's post on coronal mass ejections. "Protecting the power grid on Earth is, in principle, relatively straightforward. (Countries such as Finland and Canada have already begun to take action, with promising results.) Most high-voltage transformers are directly connected to the ground to neutralize power surges from lightning strikes and other transient phenomena. They’re vulnerable to space weather because geomagnetic currents flow upward through these ground connections." [rdbrewer]
Eitan Chitayat, Times of Israel: Shalom, motherf****r.
"My country accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire twice and Hamas keeps firing away. They aim rockets at civilians while we go at great lengths to avoid civilians actually calling them in their areas and dropping warning charges, to give innocents a chance to escape." Via @JammieWF. [rdbrewer]


Jim Geraghty: In Sum, the Morning’s News Is Bad. Bad, Bad, Bad.
See the next headline, f/x. One upshot of all this: "From now on, no Europeans are allowed to brag about how sophisticated they are." [rdbrewer]

Bloomberg: Air Algerie-Operated Plane Disappears en Route to Algiers
"An Air Algerie-operated MD-83 carrying 116 people disappeared en route from Burkina Faso in Africa to Algiers and has probably crashed in Mali...." Via @JimGeraghty. [rdbrewer]


Jamie Weinstein: Alan Dershowitz: Media ‘Racist’ In Coverage Of Israel-Hamas Conflict
"During two days last week, more Syrians were killed than in the entire flare up between Israel and Hamas over the last two weeks. In total, more Arabs have died in the current Syrian civil war than in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict by nearly a factor of two." Also from TheDC: The White House still wants $3.7 billion to blow on whatever it wants to make the immigration problem worse. Let's not do that, okay? [rdbrewer]


So You Want Proof Hamas Uses Civilians As Human Shields? Here Are Ten Examples.
"Since Israel's Operation Protective Edge began over three weeks ago, the mainstream media has been highlighting the civilian casualties in Gaza. In most cases, even if they report the Hamas use of human shields they report them as 'Israeli allegations,' as opposed to facts." [rdbrewer]
Border Patrol Agent Draws Gun on Boy Scout Over a Photograph [dri]
IRS has 'no excuses' for latest twist in e-mail saga, says IT expert, said 'expert' being, well, me. Also, be sure to read krakatoa's excellent rundown below as to what a 'scratched hard drive' really means. If that post had been up a bit sooner, I would have simply passed the link on to Fox News (and did so after the fact). [Fritzworth]
Deep Oceans have been cooling for the last 20 years.
The hidden heat is REALLY well hidden!
Could it be... Reverse Volcanos?
[ArthurK]

Jim Geraghty: Our Sudden De Facto Travel Ban on Israel
"We’ve just told Hamas that we’ll stop our flights into Israel whenever they hit near the airport." [rdbrewer]


Video: Last night's Special Report All Star Panel on ISIS persecution of Christians in Iraq
Watch the whole thing. [rdbrewer]

Sean Davis: No, Halbig Did Not Gut Obamacare Because Of A 'Drafting Error'
"[I]f the law’s authors originally intended to constrain subsidies to state plans, what was the rationale for the IRS about-face in 2011? That’s actually an easy one to answer: the administration never imagined that so many states would refuse to establish Obamacare exchanges. The subsidies for state exchange plans were meant to be pot sweeteners—incentives for states to set up their own exchanges." [rdbrewer]


Mitchell: Obama’s Fundraising Trips Are Being Questioned for Good Reason
"'This is the optics of leadership,' she said. 'The golf course is not the best place to be, even though you don’t really see him out there. But the fundraising, those trips really are being questioned for a good reason.'" [rdbrewer]


Ditch Mitch?
"Who was ultimately responsible for the evil Mississippi primary campaign that smeared supporters of Chris McDaniel as racists? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, that’s who." [rdbrewer]

David Ignatius, WaPo: How to break Hamas’s stranglehold on Gaza
"Hamas’s biggest weakness of all is its unpopularity among Palestinians in Gaza now. A poll taken in June, before the latest fighting began, showed that 70 percent of Gazans wanted a continuing cease-fire with Israel; 57 percent wanted a Fatah-Hamas unity government to renounce violence against Israel...." [rdbrewer]


Josh Kraushaar: The Odds of a GOP Wave Are Increasing
"This week, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg released new data showing Obama's disapproval at a whopping 60 percent in 12 Senate battlegrounds, with half strongly disapproving of his performance. Overall, Republicans held a 2-point edge on the battleground generic ballot, 46 percent to 44 percent. Those are the numbers that foreshadow wave elections." [rdbrewer]


Page Six: David Gregory’s time on ‘Meet the Press’ is almost up
I guess being an unprofessional partisan hack didn't work out. Funny quote: "Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have also been said be angling for a Sunday slot, but NBC insiders said there are concerns about putting a partisan host in charge of 'Meet the Press,' as Scarborough is a former Republican congressman." You see, Scarborough is partisan, unlike Gregory. How about Chuck Todd? [rdbrewer]

A.J. Delgado: It’s Time for Conservatives to Stop Defending Police
"Imagine if I were to tell you there is a large group of government employees, with generous salaries and ridiculously cushy retirement pensions covered by the taxpayer, who enjoy incredible job security and are rarely held accountable even for activities that would almost certainly earn the rest of us prison time. When there is proven misconduct, these government employees are merely reassigned and are rarely dismissed." Related: See the next headline. [rdbrewer]
Jonathan Turley: San Diego Police Sued Over Stripper 'Inspections' At Two Clubs
"Some 10 officers swarmed the club and forced the women to stand nearly nude while they allegedly took their pictures and made crude remarks. The officers reportedly ordered some women to lift what little clothing they had on to check for tattoos." Assholes abusing their authority. They should be fired, of course, but that won't happen. [rdbrewer]
Blog Claims to Have Details of Plot (Well, the Opening At Least) of Star Wars 7
I guess I should say "spoilers" but 1, it's probably not true and 2, who cares?
Again: UN Inspectors Find More Hamas Rockets at Another Gaza SchoolI'm starting to think these Palestinians just sort of hide weapons in civilian centers as a general tactic or something
Via Hot Air, People Who Are Afraid of Spiders Probably Just Haven't Seen This Giant Saw-Toothed Dragonfly Yet

The Week: Man builds 'biggest fart machine ever,' plans to aim it at France
"Furze plans to aim his fart cannon at France from Dover, England... and he plans to build a giant butt to house the fart machine." Rock on, great man. [rdbrewer]

Times of Israel: For second time, rockets found at UN school in Gaza
"'Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip,' the organization said in a statement issued Tuesday." [rdbrewer]
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