Saturday Gardening Thread: Seeing Red [Y-not, WeirdDave and KT] [Ace of Spades HQ]

Earlier this week when I was drafting my portion of the Gardening Thread, I was inspired by this: Mister Y-not and I had dinner at some friends' house and, unable to bring them a bottle of wine, I brought a...

College Football Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

The most important thing about a blog post here at the HQ is the title, according to the AoSHQ style guide which is mostly written on the bathroom wall. It should be informative and pithy. Check. Today's top ten games...

Weekend Headlines [CBD] [Ace of Spades HQ]

The Horde Rugby Team circa 1958 photo courtesy of our very own Anna Puma. Barack Obama Cancelled Each Border Security Program Enacted By Bush #43--Deported Fewer Than Any POTUS Since Nixon Why gendercide is the real 'war on women'...

Fundamental Concepts-Ends and Means [WeirdDave] [Ace of Spades HQ]

[So, this actually happened, but I'm writing this here instead of risking a cherished friendship. Oh, I'll make the same points to her, but subtly, over time.] Dear Gay Friend, I talked to you today after the president's amnesty announcement....

EMT: 11/22/14, Something Old, Something New. [krakatoa] [Ace of Spades HQ]

Welcome to probably the most needed weekend in recent history. Niedermeyer's Dead Horse has had to take a leave of absence, as, for lack of anything specific to report, Life has intervened. So I'll be your new Early Morning Thread...

ONT 11/21/14 - On the Bright Side Edition [krakatoa] [Ace of Spades HQ]

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Horde. Here, in the dark days of our discontent under the surly rule of His Skittleship, Obama I, I'd like to remind you that all is not lost, and now, yes even now, there are...

New Yorker Magazine Really Proud of Its "Bold" Thanksgiving Cover [Ace of Spades HQ]

Woah. Mind. Blown. Bold cover art on next week's @NewYorker: pic.twitter.com/mEuyNB7Wew— David Uberti (@DavidUberti) November 21, 2014...

Your Regularly-Scheduled Post-Election Friday Document Dump: IRS Discovers 30,000 "Lost" Lois Lerner Emails [Ace of Spades HQ]

Remember the disaster-recovery tapes, upon which a record of all emails was inscribed, which the IRS previously refused to search? Well, with federal judges scrutinizing their efforts, they've finally bothered to search those tapes, and found 30,000 of the missing...

AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, @ExJon [Ace of Spades HQ]

Note: We moved the podcast to a new URL this week, and everything worked right for me except for the iPhone podcast app. If that's where you listen and you don't see this week's episode with ExJon in the episode...

More Americans Than Ever Don't Believe Health Care is a Government Responsibility [Ace of Spades HQ]

Obama is the shit-fingered Midas. Before he took up the cause of health care reform, most Americans thought it was a government responsibility to guarantee it for all Americans; since he incompetently involved his lying mouth, they no longer do....

Grubergate Proves that Citizens United Was Correctly Decided [Allergic to Bull]

So in 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of free speech in Citizens United v. FEC.  You can read that decision, here, and my early blog post praising the decision is here.  That old post really has stood the test of time.

One of the arguments made by the dissent went as follows: sure, some corporations had free speech rights: the news corporations!  But, according to the dissent no one else had this right.  They based it on an interpretation of the free press clause where, to them, in that sentence “press” referred to “the institutional press.”

As I pointed out at the time, that was a ridiculously constrained reading of that clause.  Freedom of the press was freedom of expression in the written word.  That’s all.  It protected the New York Times, but it also protected the crank pamphleteer on the street corner.  Any other reading would have the court declare that Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was not protected expression, an outcome the founders obviously never intended.

I would add that such a ruling would also allow the government to regulate many other forms of corporate speech.  Is the Daily Showconsidered part of the institutional press?  If you were John Stewart, would you want to take the gamble that the courts would say it was?  And certainly there are other comedians besides Stewart who 1) engage in corporate speech, and 2) talk about politics, without seeming to count as the “institutional press.”  One obvious example is Dennis Miller, who recently made a comedy special called “Dennis Miller: America 180.”  I watched it, and basically it was Dennis doing pretty much what you expect from him, standard stand up material mixed with jokes about the news, the only difference being how conservative he had become compared to past years.  Would this be considered protected speech if only the institutional press is protected by the free press clause.  Could a corporation, in this case Epix, be allowed to pay him to engage in that speech if the dissenters won in Citizens United?  If the only corporations that can express themselves freely are the institutional press, and only the institutional press, it is hard to see how Mr. Miller’s speech would be protected, in such a regime.  Or Bill Maher’s HBO show.  Or the ladies on The View...  You get the idea.

Indeed, it is worse than that.  The courts have long held that freedom of expression carried with it the right to be free from compelled expression (with only narrow exceptions I discussed here).  That is, just as the government cannot censor you, it cannot force you to say things you don't want to.  As Justice Jackson wrote in W. Va. Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette (1943):

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

And yet, if Citizens United went the other way, corporations could then be commandeered by the majority party to promote their candidates and their policies.  With the exception of the institutional press, every corporation could be forced to promote, say, the election of Ted Cruz to the White House in 2016, or be required to post the most blatant Democratic propaganda.  In Barnette, a school child was told by the Supreme Court that he was not required to salute the American flag in a way disturbingly reminiscent of the Nazi salute (in the midst of World War II, no less).  But an opposite ruling in Citizens United might have allowed the government to make corporations salute whatever they wanted.

But implicit in the “institutional press” exception is that we can count on the institutional press to bring to light every newsworthy story—that in suppressing and potentially eliminating the speech of non-press corporations it’s not like we are going to miss out on any stories, right?

Except you can’t depend on that, really.  And #Grubergate is a perfect example of this.  First, it is newsworthy.  Here is Jake Tapper explaining why it is a big deal:

And here is a “supercut” video showing just how damning the evidence is so far:

How could anyone say it was not news?  Still, many of the speeches involved were old news.  Gruber gave these speeches often more than a year ago, and yet no one reported on it until just recently.  We just finished the entire election season without any of those videos going before the public at large.  We are only hearing about it now.  How many more House and Senate seats might the Republicans have gained if the video had come out sooner?

And even now we see that ABC News and NBC have been boycotting the story.  And do I have to tell you that MSNBC is boycotting it, too?  It would be bigger news if they were covering it.

You cannot depend on the “neutral” press (ha!) to cover what is newsworthy.  You simply can’t.

There is a new term that has crept into the left of late: “White Privilege.”  It is basically the flip side of discrimination.  If this was 1953, you could say that racial discrimination typically sent black people to the crummiest schools, or you could say that “White Privilege” enabled the white kids to go to better schools.  In theory, it is just a way to talk about racism, and since racism exists, the idea is not inherently offensive to me.

My beef with it is it actually tends in practice to exaggerate differences.  Many white people imagine the lives of non-whites to be this complete nightmare.  For instance:

Meanwhile, in the proclamations of White Privilege by non-whites often sounds like as if they imagine the old “Mr. White” skit on SNL was a documentary:

The humor from that skit came from how Eddie Murphy displayed the anxiety that surely some black people feel, wondering how life might be different when they are not around--Murphy knowing that his skit was simply ridiculous.  But some these people seem to think it is the literal truth.  For instance:

(You know, because no black people dressed as Ray Rice for Halloween.  And how is that related to discrimination, and how is the costume racist?)

And it is also a forum for self-defeating beliefs:

No, the cops don’t just shoot black people for open carrying a gun.  Give me a break.

So the idea of talking about White Privilege doesn’t offend me, but the execution comes off as...  well... racist.

But there is nothing I enjoy more than a good turnabout, so let me point out that for my fellow conservatives, it might be time to talk about a new concept: “Democrat Privilege.”  Rather than talk about the liberal bias in the media, talk about how figures enjoy “Democratic Privilege.”  Even use the hashtag: #DemocratPrivilege.  And the Gruber story is a prime example of it.  What allows the chief architect of a law to go around telling people he lied to stupid americans to sell it, without being covered by ABC, NBC News or MSNBC?  Democratic Privilege.  What Republican, for instance, could drive his car off a bridge, leave a young woman in the car as he escapes, not lift a finger to save her, and not even call the police when he had the opportunity, and still have a political career after that?  And yet, Ted Kennedy not only got away with it, but actually had a Huffington Post author imaginethe ghost of Mary Jo Kopechne saying her death was worth it, because it helped Kennedy, somehow.  By comparison Mitt Romney was excoriated for leaving a dog on the roof of his car, while the same media didn’t care that Obama ate a dog.  It’s all Democratic Privilege.  And used non-obnoxiously, it could be used as a fun way to reframe the debate over media bias.


My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist (and adjudicated pedophile) Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the donation link on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.



I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

The Tea Leaves Seem to Say Darren Wilson Won’t Be Indicted [Allergic to Bull]

Now let me start by saying that the merits of the Darren Wilson/Mike Brown case will not be discussed.  I already discussed the applicable law, here, and the evidence is pretty much all over the place.  The only thing to add is that the legal standard is probable cause.  Black’s Law Dictionary (6th Edition, if you are playing along at home) defines that as:

Reasonable cause; having more evidence for than against. A reasonable ground for belief in certain alleged facts.  A set of probabilities grounded in the factual and practical considerations which govern the decisions of reasonable and prudent persons and more than a mere suspicion but less than the quantum of evidence required for conviction.

It is a low standard, especially given that the accused has no right to defend himself—although bluntly, if I was on a Grand Jury, I would at least want to hear the accused side of the story.  There are some who think that the Grand Jury can’t call its own witnesses—that they can only hear what the prosecutor puts in front of him, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.  Still, it is often said that a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich.

Anyway, besides rumors to the effect that there won’t be an indictment (hereand here) we are seeing other indicia that an indictment won’t occur.  First, you have this little tidbit:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard Monday afternoon ahead of a grand jury decision on whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Citing the possibility of “expanded unrest,” the executive order grants Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County police and St. Louis Metropolitan police the power “to operate as a Unified Command to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region.”

Mind you, that isn’t “new” news—this was four days ago, after all—but this is not a breathless breaking news piece.  This is picking up a few pieces here and there, and this is the first.  On a similar note, I just learned as I wrote this that Ferguson schools are closing next week.

And how is all of this a useful tea leaf?  Well, as I said in response to a similar story, which equally counts as a tea leaf:

As often is the case, there was a point to my humor.  (I mean sometimes, there isn’t but often there is.)  No one is seriously saying that Darren Wilson’s supporters are going to riot or be otherwise unruly if he is indicted.  The only fear is that the Michael Brown supporters might get violent.  And there is real cause for concern.  Two items from today.  First, this:

Protesters in Ferguson have been threatening to rape the wives of front line police and kill their children during the latest clashes, the wife of one officer has claimed.

The unnamed woman said that her husband has been 'screamed at' as he faced off with the angry crowds amid heightened tensions in the suburb of St Louis, Missouri.

She told Fox 2 News that they threatened a home invasion in an apparent attempt to provoke the officers.

The wife claimed the protesters said: 'We're going to go to your house. 'We`re going to rape your wives then we`re going to kill them and we`re going to kill your children'.

And then, this:

Protesters in Ferguson, Mo., have taken to the streets and chosen not to wait for a grand jury’s decision before clashing with police once again. A grand jury is expected to decide whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson, who is accused of shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown, in the coming days. But protesters made their voices heard outside the Ferguson Police Department on Thursday night shouting, “What do we want? Darren Wilson! How do we want him? Dead!”

I could be wrong in my fears.  I hope I am wrong.  But it's reasonable to fear that the protests will turn violent if there isn’t an indictment.  And the fact that both the FBI and the governor of Missouri seem to expect violence when the decision is announced suggests 1) they know what the decision is, and 2) it is not to indict.  If they didn’t know what the decision would be, they would be much more iffy about the violence, I would think.  And if they knew it was going to be an indictment, they’d be much less worried about rioting.

But I think the more powerful evidence that it will come out in his favor is the rumor that Darren Wilson was in final negotiations over his resignation.

Now, the reality is that Wilson probably can’t walk a beat again in Fergusson.  I’m not saying it is right—if a Grand Jury refuses to indict it means he did nothing wrong, and indeed he is probably in the right.  But the fact is that the locals will not react well to him walking around.  He probably looks over his shoulder going to the grocery store in his civies, and apparently he has been missing court dates where he was needed to testify.

Now the same link shows that some are denying such negotiations are happening, but the story also indicated that there was a fear that knowledge of such negotiations would influence the Grand Jury: so in other words, they have a reason to lie.

So let’s tease this out a little bit.  Why would they have to negotiate a resignation?  Well, I haven’t read Wilson’s labor contract, but I am willing to bet he cannot be fired, except for cause.  And I bet “innocently being a disruption” is not cause, or at least there is enough doubt on this point to make the city’s lawyers nervous.  So they are negotiating a buyout.  And that only makes sense if he is not going to be indicted.  If he is, I am willing to bet they can at least suspend him until the trial and then fire him for cause if convicted.  This suggests there isn’t going to be a trial.

These are just rumors and of course, tea leaves are a hit and miss prospect.  So take that with a grain of salt.  And whatever Wilson is saying publicly, he is probably still anxious.  I have been kind of famously falsely accused (and exonerated by video evidence), and I can say that Wilson is not likely to feel fully relieved until and unless the case officially ends.  And if there is no indictment, then I think every effort has to be made to explain to the public why there isn't one, so those who object might be persuaded to accept it.  This is complicated by the traditional secrecy of Grand Jury proceedings, but if one Grand Juror had the courage to come forward and explain in detail why s/he couldn't indict (still assuming they doesn't indict), or if the Grand Jury wrote a thoughtful report, that could do a great deal of good.


My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist (and adjudicated pedophile) Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the donation link on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.



I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

Here’s who and what’s happening tonight atmidnightcc! Our... [@midnight]

Here’s who and what’s happening tonight atmidnightcc!

Our contestants:  @moshekasher@apey,@Willieforcrack

Kid Runs Directly Through A Plate Glass Window And Keeps It Moving. (via liveleak)

Anonymous seizes Ku Klux Klan Twitter account over Ferguson threats. (via twitter)

Normal days in Russia. (via reddit)


comedycentral: All of these #FailedCharities are worthy causes,... [@midnight]


All of these #FailedCharities are worthy causes, but only one will be on tonight’s all-new @midnight!


Media Watch host Paul Barry in 2013: I believe in the free market, I believe in freedom of speech, I believe actually…


Guardian master journalist Antony Loewenstein demonstrates his awesome command of language:


At least she’s not on bike paths anymore: About 25 metres below ground, just beyond the Woolworths national headquarters at Norwest, Elizabeth…

Classy Cannucks [Celestial Junk]

... and just a reminder that right after the terrorist attacks in Canada this fall, Americans honored Canada at an NHL hockey game where no Canadian team was playing:

Desk [Daring Fireball]

My thanks to John Saddington for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Desk, his blogging app for the Mac. Saddington has been blogging for more than a decade, but never found a blogging app that stuck. So, he built one for himself, focused on what matters most: writing. It’s called Desk, and it’s exclusively for OS X. (And it has one of the best app icons I’ve ever seen — perfect metaphor, beautifully rendered.)

Desk has a simple, writing-focused UI. It supports both Markdown (of course) and WYSIWYG for editing, and has direct posting support for a slew of popular platforms, including WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Typepad, Movable Type, Facebook Notes, and Squarespace. Visually, though, Desk is utterly minimal — while you’re writing, everything fades away but your prose.

You can purchase a copy via the Mac App Store or check out Desk’s beautiful website. Or, follow Desk’s development through the Desk App Blog (written using Desk, of course).

The Secret Life of Passwords [Daring Fireball]

Terrific feature by Ian Urbina for the NYT Magazine:

Several years ago I began asking my friends and family to tell me their passwords. I had come to believe that these tiny personalized codes get a bum rap. Yes, I understand why passwords are universally despised: the strains they put on our memory, the endless demand to update them, their sheer number. I hate them, too. But there is more to passwords than their annoyance. In our authorship of them, in the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar — these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.

Stewart Butterfield on Slack [Daring Fireball]

Stewart Butterfield, in an interview with Rachel Metz for MIT Technology Review:

I try to instill this into the rest of the team but certainly I feel that what we have right now is just a giant piece of shit. Like, it’s just terrible and we should be humiliated that we offer this to the public. Not everyone finds that motivational, though.

I love that attitude. Rather than be satisfied with Slack’s growth and success, he’s focused on how to make it way better, not just a little better.

Craig Hockenberry on WatchKit [Daring Fireball]

Craig Hockenberry:

Bluetooth Low Energy must be really low power: the design of WKInterfaceObject means it’s going to be on a lot. Every interaction with the watch has the potential to move actions and data between your pocket and wrist using the radio.

But more importantly, this API design gives Apple a simple way to put a cap on power consumption. We saw this approach in the early days of the iPhone and that worked out pretty well, didn’t it?

One final thought about the API design: your code never runs on the watch.

NY Post: Amazon Planning an Ad-Based Streaming-Video Service [Daring Fireball]

Claire Atkinson, reporting for the NY Post:

The e-commerce giant will roll out a new ad-supported streaming offering early next year that will be separate from its $99-a-year Prime membership, which includes a video service, sources said.

The ad-supported option — part of an overhaul of its media offerings — poses a serious challenge to streaming rivals such as Hulu and Netflix, analysts said.

When TiVo came out 15 years ago, we began using computers to let us skip past commercials. Now, with streaming, we’re using computers to present un-skippable ads.

Financial Times: European Parliament to Call for the Break-Up of Google [Daring Fireball]

Alex Barker and Murad Ahmed, reporting for The Financial Times:

The European parliament is poised to call for a break-up of Google, in one of the most brazen assaults so far on the technology group’s power.

The gambit increases the political pressure on the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to take a tougher line on Google, either in its antitrust investigation into the company or through the introduction of laws to curb its reach.

A draft motion seen by the Financial Times says that “unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services” should be considered as a potential solution to Google’s dominance. It has the backing of the parliament’s two main political blocs, the European People’s Party and the Socialists.

Good luck with that.

I’m Sure Apple Will Get Right on This [Daring Fireball]

John Prisco, president of anti-virus software maker Triumfant, writing for TechCrunch:

Apple had good intentions. It kept everything close to the vest, with a closed off development community and rigorous control over applications. Apple has been brilliant at maintaining the purity of the brand and until relatively recently, that has been enough to provide additional protections against malicious attacks. But the genie is out of the iBottle.

Google, on the other hand, does allow this level of collaboration. With Android, security professionals can conduct analysis where it matters — with operating system-level interrogation and anomaly detection. With the Apple iOS, you can’t do that. You’re blocked off. What is then forced is an approach that requires only looking at the app with the AppWrapper. There is no way to develop a guardian for the operating system, so you will never be protected.

It’s not Apple who is in trouble because iOS doesn’t allow third-party anti-virus/security software to run at the operating system level. It’s the purveyors of anti-virus/security software who are in trouble.

Why Windows 10 isn’t version 6 any more and why it will probably work [Ars Technica]

Artist's impression.

A long-standing oddity of Windows is that its branded number has for some years now not matched the version number stamped into the kernel and other parts of the operating system. Windows 7, for example, reported itself to software as being version 6.1. Windows 8 is 6.2, and Windows 8.1 is 6.3.

Current public builds of Windows 10 repeat this trend—they purport to be version 6.4—but not for much longer. Chinese site ITHome published a picture showing the version number to be 10.0. Version number 10.0 is also cropping up on BuildFeed which tracks build numbers, and has been further corroborated elsewhere.

Our sources tell us that the version number has indeed changed, and that Windows 10 will be version 10.0, ending a discrepancy that has existed for five years. Prior to the decision to brand the operating system Windows 10, we're told that there were some versions built calling themselves 9.0, too.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nintendo Amiibo impressions: Getting friend-zoned [Ars Technica]

The three Amiibos!
Sam Machkovech

Woe be to the uninformed parent who hides Amiibo figurines in a child's stocking this holiday season. A giddy child will surely light up after unwrapping a beloved, cool-looking Nintendo character, and that excitement might quintuple when the kid realizes this thing is like a Skylanders or Disney Infinity figure—it'll come to life on your Wii U!

Which is good, because the figurines, while quite attractive, are frozen solid; no bendy limbs or karate-chop action here. No matter, as the box loudly advertises that fans can "battle with Amiibo in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U." That means the happy little tyke will surely slap their new Mario or Donkey Kong figurine onto a Wii U Gamepad with stars in their eyes. "My own custom Pikachu," they might emote, "maybe with cool, custom outfits or special superpowers that I can use when I 'settle it in Smash.'"

Well, not exactly. After shelling out $39 (plus tax) for three of Nintendo's new toys, we've come to learn that the Amiibo sales pitch has been worded pretty carefully to shade the truth from potential buyers. The figures come to life, yes, but it's not your life.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Yoga Pro 3 review: Broadwell is a mixed blessing [Ars Technica]

Specs at a glance: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
SCREEN 3200×1800 at 13.3" (276 ppi)
OS Windows 8.1 64-bit
CPU 1.1GHz Intel Core M-5Y70
RAM 8GB 1600MHz DDR3
GPU Intel HD Graphics 5300
HDD 256-512GB SSD
NETWORKING Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
PORTS 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, micro-HDMI, SD card reader, headphone/microphone dual jack
SIZE 13 × 9 × 0.5"
WEIGHT 2.62 lbs
BATTERY 4-cell 44.8Wh Li-polymer
OTHER PERKS 720p Webcam, volume rocker, screen orientation lock button, system back-up button

When Lenovo launched its first Yoga laptop, it seemed rather weird. It arrived on a wave of new Windows 8-oriented devices that tried all manner of new things to offer the best of the traditional laptop and the tablet experience. The Yoga's premise was simple: make a hinge that bends all the way around, so you can fold the laptop back on itself to make it into a sort of chunky tablet.

It skewed more heavily towards laptop usage than tablet usage—there are no compromises when using it as a laptop, unlike, for example, Microsoft's Surface Pro range—but still offered that flexibility for those who wanted it. Although designed to let the device transform into a tablet, it is perhaps the other positions that have been the real winners with the Yoga's hinge: what Lenovo calls "tent mode," where the keyboard is folded most of the way back to prop the screen up, is excellent when watching movies in planes and similar cramped situations, as it drastically shrinks the footprint of the device.

This flexibility made the Yoga design one of the big winners.

Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

15 arrested in new European crackdown of peeping tom malware users [Ars Technica]

A RAT user spying on a girl from Malaysia. In the background is a complete list of "slaves" this RAT user controls.

Fifteen people have been arrested across seven European countries “who are suspected of using remote access trojans (RATs) to commit cybercrimes,” Europol said in a statement on Thursday.

The people were apprehended in Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), a rough British equivalent to the FBI, lead a sting operation resulting in the arrests of five (out of the 15 total) across the United Kingdom. In May 2014, over 100 people were arrested as part of a similar worldwide sting operation.

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Apple will pay $450M—or, maybe just $70M—to settle e-book claims [Ars Technica]

More details are now public about the deal Apple reached in June to settle claims that it engaged in price-fixing in the e-book market. That settlement was approved by a federal judge on Friday. It's an unusual one, in which Apple essentially bets the outcome in its class-action lawsuit on the outcome of another case.

In 2011, Apple got sued in a class-action case, where a class of e-book buying consumers was ultimately joined by attorneys general of various states. The Department of Justice also came after Apple for price-fixing, and the government won that case in 2013.

Apple has appealed its loss to DOJ. In the class-action, Apple and plaintiffs' lawyers have agreed that the outcome of that case should rest on how the appeal turns out.

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Lost languages leave traces on the brain [Ars Technica]

Our brains start soaking in details from the languages around us from the moment we can hear them. One of the first things infants learn of their native languages is the system of consonants and vowels, as well as other speech sound characteristics, like pitch. In the first year of life, a baby’s ear tunes in to the particular set of sounds being spoken in its environment, and the brain starts developing the ability to tell subtle differences among them—a foundation that will make a difference in meaning down the line, allowing the child to learn words and grammar.

But what happens if that child gets shifted into a different culture after laying the foundations of its first native language? Does it forget everything about that first language, or are there some remnants that remain buried in the brain?

According to a recent PNAS paper, the effects of very early language learning are permanently etched into the brain, even if input from that language stops and it’s replaced by another language. To identify this lasting influence, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on children who had been adopted to see what neural patterns could be identified years after adoption.

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Here’s how to run homebrew on your 3DS [Ars Technica]

A video showing off Smealum's Ninjhax homebrew exploit in action.

Earlier this week, hacker Jordan "Smealum" Rabet announced that obscure 2011 3DS platformer Cubic Ninja held the key to unlocking the 3DS hardware to run homebrew code, causing an immediate run on the hard-to-find game. Now, Smealum has published the details of his hack, along with the instructions and tools needed to unlock the system.

What Smealum is calling "Ninjhax" exploits an error in Cubic Ninja's level creation and sharing function, which passes created level data via generated QR codes. Scanning a specifically manufactured QR code, generated by a tool on Smealum's site to match any current 3DS hardware/firmware combination, causes the game to run a boot file loaded on the SD card.

At that point, the bootloader downloads additional code over Wi-Fi and installs and runs a front-end channel that can run other homebrew software stored on the SD card. After that initial QR code scan, the homebrew menu can be loaded simply by accessing the save game file through Cubic Ninja.

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In wake of Uber privacy scandal, Lyft announces data restrictions [Ars Technica]

Days after a BuzzFeed journalist revealed that an Uber executive floated the idea of using its “God mode” ability to snoop on journalists who write about the ridesharing service, rival firm Lyft has changed its policy to prevent most employees from doing something similar.

Erin Simpson, a Lyft spokeswoman, told Ars in a statement by e-mail that the company’s “longstanding policy prohibits employees or contractors from accessing any user personal information except to the extent such use is necessary to do their job.”

As of Thursday, the company has “proactively made additional updates to further safeguard our community members' privacy, including the development of tiered access controls that further limit access to user data to a smaller subset of employees and contractors. Ride location data is restricted to an even smaller subset of people.”

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Europe’s parliament “poised to call for a break-up of Google” [Ars Technica]

Network neutrality protest at Google headquarters.

"The European parliament is poised to call for a break-up of Google" in a vote next week, the Financial Times reported today. The resolution would be nonbinding, because any final action would have to be taken by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union.

"A draft motion seen by the Financial Times says that 'unbundling [of] search engines from other commercial services' should be considered as a potential solution to Google’s dominance," the paper wrote. "It has the backing of the parliament’s two main political blocs, the European People’s Party and the Socialists."

While the parliament itself "has no formal power to split up companies," it does have "increasing influence on the [European] Commission, which initiates all EU legislation," the report said. "The commission has been investigating concerns over Google’s dominance of online search for five years, with critics arguing that the company’s rankings favor its own services, hitting its rivals’ profits."

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“We are going to be sued.” FCC chairman speaks on net neutrality [Ars Technica]

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

It won't be a surprise if the Federal Communications Commission gets sued when it issues net neutrality rules. In fact, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler expects it.

Since November 10, when President Obama called on the FCC to reclassify Internet service as a utility and impose strict net neutrality rules, the FCC has been urged to act quickly. But it appears the commission won't issue final rules before the end of 2014. When reporters today asked Wheeler when he'll act, he said he's taking his time because he wants to make sure the commission's net neutrality rules aren't overturned in court.

"We are going to be sued," he said in a Q&A after the FCC's monthly meeting. "That's the history. Every time in this whole discussion any time the commission has moved to do something, one of the big dogs has gone to sue... We don’t want to ignore history. We want to come out with good rules that accomplish what we need to accomplish, an open Internet, no blocking, no throttling, no fast lanes, no discrimination, and we want those rules to be in place after a court decision. So we want to be sure we’re thoughtful in the way in which we structure them and we're thoughtful in the way we present what will ultimately be presented to a court."

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Google and Rockstar wind down their year-long patent war [Ars Technica]

The high-profile patent lawsuit between Google and the "Rockstar Consortium" is drawing to a close. Google has signed a "term sheet" with Rockstar, which will be finalized as a settlement in the coming weeks.

The lawsuit has been closely watched, especially because Rockstar is owned by some of Google's chief rivals in the smartphone industry: Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony. The Rockstar group was created in 2011, and it bid $4.5 billion for the large patent portfolio of Canada-based Nortel, which went bankrupt in 2009.

None of the terms of the Google-Rockstar settlement have been made public so far. The news comes days after it became public that Cisco expects to take a $188 million charge to settle its own patent dispute with Rockstar, which sought royalties from at least a dozen Cisco customers.

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How Google Inbox shares 70% of its code across Android, iOS, and the Web [Ars Technica]

Launching a new app in the mobile age is hard. If you want to reach a wide audience, you usually have to make your client three times at minimum: once for Android, once for iOS, and once more for the Web. Building an app on three different platforms means three times the work, with three times as many bugs to squish. To make matters more complicated, these clients all use different programming languages: Objective-C and/or Swift for iOS, Java for Android, and JavaScript/CSS/HTML5 for the Web.

It's a problem Google decided to tackle when it was developing the recently launched reimagining of Gmail, called Google Inbox. With Inbox, Google adopted a set of tools that allowed it to tame the three-headed platform hydra. The app shares roughly two-thirds of its code across Android, iOS, and the Web.

These three platforms share most of the back-end logic that powers the app, while the unique parts are mostly the user interfaces for each app. That gives Inbox a native feel and OS integration on each platform. Google has built itself a good enough arsenal of cross compilers that it can write an app's logic once for Android—in Java—and can then cross-compile to Objective-C for iOS and JavaScript for browsers. Java-to-JavaScript is handled by the Google Web Toolkit SDK, which has been around for some time. The real enabler for Inbox is called J2ObjC, which, as the name implies, converts Java code meant for Android into iOS-ready Objective-C code.

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Should Soldiers/military or Veterans be able to use marijuana? [BLACKFIVE]

I'm posting up my first Survey Monkey survey to ask just a couple of important questions regarding use of marijuana for military members and veterans. I've been looking to see if anyone has been asking this question; I don't see much out there, and I think it's now time to put it out there. The issue has basically three components: 1. Active duty military- should they be able to use it, if they are in a location that permits it? (Think Ft Carson in Colorado as an example) 2. Should guardsmen, who are not on duty full-time but subject to duty recall, be able to use it if their state permits it. 3. Should medical marijuana be a treatment option for veterans in the VA system? I know this is going to be an issue; as I'm in CO, and several units are being spun up to support the Ebola mission, this is likely to make an appearance. I'm not aware of any prosecutions for it, or any unit discussion on it. Yes, I do know that in the FEDERAL legal system it's illegal to use, but Sammy Soldier who also attends Colorado University, or Cindy Clerk who has a doctor prescribing it for nausea may test 'hot' prior to deployment. So, just to ask the question: (please click the link- couldn't get the survey to embed) Military/Veterans and marijuana use

Is Salon Saying That Rep. Paul Ryan Is A Time Traveller? [The Other McCain]

by Smitty There is so much buildup on Elias Isquith’s chin that he’s kind of incoherent (emphasis mine): While there are no doubt many changes ideologues like Ryan would like to see the CBO make, reports indicate that the main reason GOPers want to install a right-wing hack as its chief is in order to […]

Sequels And Weirdness [The Other McCain]

– by Wombat-socho This week has been all about sequels, which in this particular instance is a Good Thing, because all of these sequels are pretty good stuff. We’ll start with Larry Correia’s Spellbound, the bridge novel between Hard Magic and Warbound, and as such it explains a lot of what’s going on in the […]

Reconciled to Servitude [The Other McCain]

“Nor does the sexual promiscuity of Brave New World seem so very distant. There are already certain American cities in which the number of divorces is equal to the number of marriages. In a few years, no doubt, marriage licenses will be sold like dog licenses, good for a period of twelve months, with no […]

What to learn from Google’s failed effort at clean energy [AEI » Pethokoukis]

In 2011, Google shuttered RE<C, a four-year R&D and startup investment effort to develop renewable energy technologies that could generate electricity at lower cost than coal-fired power plants. As Google engineers David Fork and Ross Koningstein write in an IEEE Spectrum piece, “What Would It Really Take to Reverse Climate Change”, “Unfortunately, not every Google moon shot leaves Earth orbit.”

Looking back, Fork and Koningstein concede that existing technologies or incrementally better new technologies are insufficient for realizing economically feasible — without government subsidy or regulation — zero-carbon energy sources and removing CO2 from the air. Example: rather than using electricity to boil water that turns a steam turbine — coal already does that superefficiently — imagine a fusion technology that skips “the steam and produce high-energy charged particles that can be converted directly into electricity. Or how about “special-purpose crops to pull CO2 out of the air and stash the carbon in the soil”?

So how to develop these breakthrough technologies? How about a variation on the Google innovation formula:

Consider Google’s approach to innovation, which is summed up in the 70-20-10 rule espoused by executive chairman Eric Schmidt. The approach suggests that 70 percent of employee time be spent working on core business tasks, 20 percent on side projects related to core business, and the final 10 percent on strange new ideas that have the potential to be truly disruptive.

Wouldn’t it be great if governments and energy companies adopted a similar approach in their technology R&D investments? The result could be energy innovation at Google speed. Adopting the 70-20-10 rubric could lead to a portfolio of projects. The bulk of R&D resources could go to existing energy technologies that industry knows how to build and profitably deploy. These technologies probably won’t save us, but they can reduce the scale of the problem that needs fixing. The next 20 percent could be dedicated to cutting-edge technologies that are on the path to economic viability. Most crucially, the final 10 percent could be dedicated to ideas that may seem crazy but might have huge impact.

Our society needs to fund scientists and engineers to propose and test new ideas, fail quickly, and share what they learn. Today, the energy innovation cycle is measured in decades, in large part because so little money is spent on critical types of R&D.

Of course, as the engineers found out, even highly profitable public companies are reluctant to fund blue-sky efforts. But the duo certainly chart a handy and reasonable blueprint for a government research agenda to supplement what’s happening in the private sector. Again, I would also combine them with deregulation, certainly for nuclear power. And further, let me quote Sam Altman of startup accelerator Y Combinator, which is invested in an experimental nuclear fusion company, who argues “the 20th century was clearly the carbon century [and] the 22nd century is going to be the atomic power century. I’m very convinced of that. It’s just a question of how long it takes us.”

The post What to learn from Google’s failed effort at clean energy appeared first on AEI.

Innovation for a high-energy planet | No, carbon taxes aren’t the only ‘market friendly’ fix for climate change [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Wonkblog’s Chris Mooney recently spotlighted a paper which found the following:

Republicans reject climate science a lot more when they perceive it to support ideologically inconvenient policy solutions (like, say, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan) than when they don’t. In other words, the authors argue, this “solution aversion” feeds back into conservatives’ perception of science itself.

And that finding adds some interesting context to this WaPo piece on Senator John Thune, with the headline  “Top Republican bows to scientists on climate change:”

Asked about the overwhelming agreement among experts on the cause and trajectory of global warming, Thune began with a familiar GOP climate-change dodge: “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring.” But then he said this: “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” In three sentences, the number-three Republican in the Senate admitted that human activity is affecting the climate and that this concern demands a policy response.

This is progress for Thune, who said this in 2010: “Obviously, I think the question you have to ask yourself, one, is it occurring? And even if you say ‘yes’ to that, two, is human activity contributing to it? And even if you say ‘yes’ to that, then three is what are we going to do about it and at what cost?”

But once you get to “yes” on the first two, as Thune apparently has, the answer to the last question should be relatively simple for honest conservatives: The efficient, market-friendly approach to cutting dependence on greenhouse gases is pricing carbon dioxide emissions and allowing market forces to adapt the economy. Thune didn’t go there, and that’s also a problem: Republicans have to do more than simply acknowledge that there is a risk. His statement might be merely another GOP attempt to justify doing too little without seeming anti-science.

Except a carbon tax isn’t the only market-friendly approach to dealing with climate change and its potential impacts. I’ve outlined a “no regrets,” innovation-driven agenda of government research and deregulation to supplement the amazing private-sector efforts happening right in areas such as solar and nuclear. Market forces are already adapting the economy. As for the carbon tax (via the Breakthrough Institute):

But breakthrough technologies like jet aircraft, gas engines, computers and cell phones have never emerged because their competitors’ price increased. Steve Jobs didn’t develop the PC because the price of a typewriter went up. We have to only look to Europe for a natural experiment. Their gas prices are more than twice as high as in the United States and serve as a defacto carbon tax. While Europeans buy smaller cars and take more mass transit, they don’t buy more electric vehicles because they are expensive and provide limited range. While a higher gas price can spur carmakers to make smaller, more fuel efficient internal combustion engine cars, it has not and will not spur them to develop cheap batteries that let you drive 500 miles without a charge.

So where do breakthroughs like cheap clean energy come from if not from marginally higher prices?  As innovation economist Mariana Mazzucato recently opined, “A quick look at the pioneering technologies of the past century points to the state, not the private sector, as the most decisive player in the game.” In other words, smart government innovation policy that works with industry is how the world will get cheap clean energy.

For policymakers, this means fully funding clean energy research budgets and strategically supporting proof-of-concept technology demonstrations and early commercialization. To be clear, a carbon tax can make this easier, especially if some of the revenues are devoted to a smart and effective clean energy innovation system.  But to believe that modest price signals in the United States alone will transform the world’s energy system is an illusion. As such it’s time to overcome climate policy group-think and embrace a robust clean energy innovation policy.


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Drawing the wrong lessons from Japan’s ‘recession’ [AEI » Pethokoukis]

A couple of market monetarist takes on Japan’s sudden stop:

Economist Scott Sumner:

The unemployment rate in Japan is currently 3.6%, one of the lowest figures in decades.  It’s true that the Japanese unemployment statistics are a bit peculiar, but so are all their other data.  And when they are unquestionably in recession, as during 2008-09, the unemployment rate in Japan rises just as in any other country.

Welcome to the new world of business cycles.  Japan is a country with low productivity growth and a working age population that is shrinking by 1.2% per year.  The trend rate of RGDP growth is somewhere near zero, perhaps negative.  Japan will have lots more “recessions” during the 21st century. …

In any case, Japanese stocks are still doing well, which suggests that Abenomics is still on track. (But on track to where?)  Adverse factors that have a multiyear impact on RGDP lead to higher unemployment.  The global recession of 2008-09 is a good example.  On the other hand temporary growth pauses don’t raise unemployment—the 2011 tsunami is an example.  This looks like a temporary pause, like 2011, as unemployment is not rising.  Even so, with zero or negative trend growth in Japan, expect many more negative quarters, many more “recessions.”  And that public debt? I have no idea what they plan to do about it.

Economist Mike Darda:

GDP has contracted for two consecutive quarters in Japan, but sales and production have already begun to rebound from the fiscal shock associated with the hike in the VAT tax to 8% from 5% this spring. Indeed, the unemployment rate hasn’t budged at all (and is down year to year) despite Japan having fallen back into “recession,” making this downturn one of the green eyeshade variety, in our view.

Indeed, whereas anemic recent GDP growth probably overstates the health of the euro area business cycle, we believe recent negative GDP readings overstate weaknesses in Japan. Sales, production, confidence and corporate earnings figures in Japan compared with the euro area support this interpretation.

Incredibly, some of the usual suspects are taking the recent Japan data to mean that reflation efforts have failed and/or backfired. No, a contractionary (and contradictory) fiscal policy simply proved to be contractionary. The BoJ also made the mistake of boosting its monetary stimulus only after it became clear that the VAT shock had weakened the business cycle when it should have done so beforehand.

In any event, we expect an ongoing upswing in the economic statistics in Japan. A second VAT hike slated for next year has been postponed, one positive from the weak GDP figures. A corporate tax reform / cut may enter the mix next year, depending on how the impending elections go. In any event, we continue to like Japan equities, which trade at a steep discount to the USA and the valuation levels attained during the tail end of their last multi-year expansion during the 2000s.

The post Drawing the wrong lessons from Japan’s ‘recession’ appeared first on AEI.

Sticktoitiveness and upward mobility: Can we teach grit? [AEI » Pethokoukis]

If you want to climb the opportunity ladder, better get educated. But this new Chicago Fed report looks at how “non-cognitive” skills may influence mobility:

I find that inequality in an index of “non-cognitive skills” explains as much or more of the variation in intergenerational mobility than inequality in traditional measures of cognitive skills such as numeracy, literacy, and problem solving. An emerging line of research has argued that personality traits such as perseverance and grit play an important role in socioeconomic success. These results are consistent with the idea that the large gaps in skills in the U.S. population are part of what is driving both higher inequality and lower intergenerational mobility. At a minimum, these new descriptive findings should help inform the ongoing policy debate about what, if anything, should be done to improve equality of opportunity.

One theme of economist Tyler Cowen’s work is that conscientiousness is a capability or skill that will only grow in value, whether it’s consistently sitting down in front of a computer to take an online class or being a reliable member of an office team. Now economist report author Bhashkar Mazumder does not have some 10-point policy agenda but does offer this:

One straightforward explanation for these findings is that societies in which opportunities for human capital development are unequal will exhibit a high degree of skill inequality and experience less intergenerational economic mobility. This could arise for a number of reasons, including differences in access to health care early in life (including the prenatal period), unequal access to preschool, disparities in the quality of elementary or secondary school education, or lack of affordability of higher education.

OK, how do you teach and develop conscientiousness or grit? On an EconTalk podcast, Russ Roberts asked Paul Tough, author of “How Children Succeed,” that very question:

Tough: I think there’s some pretty strong evidence that we can change these things; but I think you are absolutely right that we don’t yet know how. And so in my book, part of what I’m doing is trying to point people toward experimental evidence or some particularly innovative educators who I think are developing these skills. But absolutely–we don’t yet have a curriculum or a real methodology that’s going to say: Here’s how you boost conscientiousness scores. I do feel like for kids who are struggling in school and especially for kids in high-poverty neighborhoods, I do think that giving them, talking with them about the importance of these character strengths, giving them a clear sense of how hard work and conscientiousness now is going to lead to clear paths later, language in a context that makes sense to them, can have an enormous effect. I mean, in some ways it’s exactly why all of these high performing charter schools from Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) to all of the ones in the same mold–it’s exactly why they are so successful. They just get these kids to become incredibly conscientious and to work really hard. And they do it by being really good at motivating them and partly that has to do with a sense of group identity and all the kind of fun it is to be a student.

Roberts: The rah, rah.

Tough:  Exactly. But I think it’s also very–like, on the walls of KIPP there are posters explaining the economic data about how much your salary will increase if you get a BA. And I think that’s a pretty abstract concept to most kids. But I think it’s pretty compelling when you look at the numbers.

Roberts: Do they believe it?

Tough: : I think they do.

Roberts: There are a lot of things that we tell kids–you were a kid once. They just don’t believe it.

Tough: I think that alone–if you go into a classroom and say: Okay, here’s the data; you get a BA and here’s what you are going to make. That’s probably not going to do it. But I think in the context of these more powerful motivation techniques that KIPP uses, this group identity and wall-to-wall messaging, I think that that message is really powerful. And that without it then all of that other stuff becomes kind of empty. If you can say to kids: This will lead to real success and you can do it and other people like you can do it, that is not something you year a lot and not something you see evidence of a lot when you are growing up in a high-poverty neighborhood. And seeing that evidence and hearing that message is, I think, really powerful.

The post Sticktoitiveness and upward mobility: Can we teach grit? appeared first on AEI.

Another day, another group of economists argue for 90% tax rates [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Another group of candidates for President Hillary Clinton’s, I mean, President Bill de Blasio’s economic team. The wisdom of 90% top tax rates,  via VoxEU:

Overall we find that increasing tax rates at the very top of the income distribution and thereby reducing tax burdens for the rest of the population is a suitable measure to increase social welfare. As a side effect, it reduces both income and wealth inequality within the US population.

Admittedly, our results apply with certain qualifications. First, taxing the top 1% more heavily will most certainly not work if these people can engage in heavy tax avoidance, make use of extensive tax loopholes, or just leave the country in response to a tax increase at the top. Second, and probably as importantly, our results rely on a certain notion of how the top 1% became such high earners. In our model, earnings ‘superstars’ are made from luck coupled with labour effort. However, if high income tax rates at the top would lead individuals not to pursue high-earning careers at all, then our results might change.7 Last but not least, our analysis focuses solely on the taxation of large labour earnings rather than capital income at the top 1%.

All of which reminds of this piece by several AEI scholars on merely raising the top tax rate to 70 or 80%, also advocated by top liberal economists:

Diamond and Saez ignore long-term behavioral responses, assume more equality is a better social welfare function, assign no social value to the marginal dollar of consumption for the rich, and use a short-run behavioral response predicated in part on less evasion and more enforcement to compute an answer of 73 percent. Consequently, we can be pretty sure that the answer is significantly less than that. Further, we find the suggestion that the government should take more than half of a citizen’s income in taxes to be unpalatable.

So these high-taxers assume (a)  no long-run, anti-growth response, (b) having government take 90% or more of an earned dollar is OK, and (c) high earners are pretty much lucky duckies. Again, it is a strange coincidence how countries “with higher income, higher trust, lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and lower regulatory burdens have higher billionaire entrepreneurship rates.” Countries like the United States, for instance.


The post Another day, another group of economists argue for 90% tax rates appeared first on AEI.

Why no economy has helped the middle-class like America’s [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Many left-liberals/progressives/Democrats, including Paul Krugman, say a disconnect between pay and productivity — as seen in the above chart and other like it — is an indisputable sign the US economy and American capitalism are broken for the 99%. In a recent analysis, the Manhattan Institute’s Scott Winship (getting his second mention of the day from me) offers an enlightening analysis of why that specific chart is flawed, including mismeasurement of inflation. (I also have addressed the supposed disconnect.)

But to take things from a different perspective, AEI’s Ed Conard recently addressed the pay-productivity gap at an Intelligence Squared debate (also getting a second mention today):

Now, it’s true, productivity’s grown faster than median wages. Our opponents see this as evidence that lesser skilled employees no longer share in the success of our economy. They overlook the fact that growth can manifest itself in two ways: Where the supply of labor is restricted like it was in the 1950s and ’60s, it’ll drive up wages.

But where the supply of labor is unrestricted like it is today, it’ll drive up employment. The baby boom, the increased participation of women in the work force, immigration and growing trade deficits have created an enormous increase in supply in labor. And as a result, employment grew instead of wages. U.S. employment has grown 50 percent since 1980, twice as fast as Germany and France, three times faster than Japan.

Two to three times faster is an unheard of difference in performance. This difference has been even greater — it would have been — it was even greater because the other countries have shared in the disproportionate benefit of American innovation. And America has achieved this employment growth at median incomes that are 20 to 30 percent higher than Germany, France, and Japan. Because of this growth, today, America’s home to 37 million adult immigrants. There are 16 million native-born children, and all the children of those 53 million adults. So perhaps wages would have grown faster in the supply of labor had been more restricted. But it’s disingenuous to close one eye, ignore America’s extraordinary employment growth relative to its peers, and claim that income inequality hurts the middle and the working class. No other economy has done more to help the middle class and working poor than the U.S. economy


The post Why no economy has helped the middle-class like America’s appeared first on AEI.

At the Constraints of November Café... [Althouse]


... this tablescape expresses the smallness of my perspective over the past week.

"A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly..." [Althouse]

"... in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees."

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

8 posts before dawn. [Althouse]

It's one of those mornings! And, strangely enough, I got plenty of sleep last night. If "last" is the right word. The night is just ending.

IN THE COMMENTS: David invites us to commemorate the JFK assassination, and I reject the invitation.

"Almost every time I’ve talked to a reporter has gone this way: they had already decided the narrative beforehand." [Althouse]

"I’m never being asked for information — I’m being used for quotes to back up their predetermined story, regardless of whether it’s true. (Consider this when you read the news.) Misquotes usually aren’t mistakes — they’re edited, consciously or not, to say what the reporter needs them to say."

Writes Marco Ament, with a vivid example of a NYT reporter working on a story about hipsters moving to Hastings on Hudson. The story became "Creating Hipsturbia." And Ament says: "The article, which was mostly bullshit, is slowly making itself more true. And our town is doing very well from it."

The town made the news ≈ the news made the town.

Hazing and hunting on the Supreme Court. [Althouse]

"They hazed me, this is true," Elena Kagan said. They made her head of cafeteria committee:

"It's not a very good cafeteria, so this is really just the opportunity they have to kind of haze you all the time. Like, 'Argh, you know, Elena, this food isn't very good.' "
And it's her job, as the Justice with the least seniority to take note and open the door when someone knocks:
"I take notes as the Junior Justice … and answer the door when there's a knock. Literally, if there's a knock on the door and I don't hear it, there will not be a single other person who will move. They'll all just stare at me. You might ask, Who comes to the door? Well, it's knock, knock, 'Justice X forgot his glasses.' And knock, knock, 'Justice Y forgot her coffee.' There I am hopping up and down. That's a form of hazing, right?"
Kagan also describes going hunting with Justice Scalia several times a year:
"I do like it... I'm a competitive person. You know, you put a gun in my hand and say the object is to shoot something, I'm like, 'All right! Let's do it!'"

There's some evidence that birth control pills mute a woman's natural urge toward a man who is "objectively good-looking... by evolutionary standards." [Althouse]

They took 2 sets of women who were on birth control pills when they chose their male partners. Group 1 had objectively good-looking men, and Group 2 had objectively not-so-good-looking men. They stopped the birth control pills, and supposedly the women in Group 2 became less attracted to the men, but the women in Group 1 did not.

If this is true... then what? My thoughts flowed in this order:

1. So this is the real force behind the push for birth control — to serve the interests of unattractive men.

2. Do these men realize the stake they have in getting and keeping women on the pill or are they bellyaching that women are getting a benefit and men are not?

3. Should women want to take the pill so they can enlarge the group of potential sexual partners or should they want to stay off the pill so their natural urges remain intact?

4. Attractiveness in the evolutionary sense is a bit irrelevant under the conditions of the modern world, so it might be personally advantageous to strip this distraction away from the process of mate-selection.

5. It's horrible to use pills to change something so fundamental to one's being, and yet people take all sorts of pills that restructure their mind.

6. Natural hormones restructure your mind over time. Would my thoughts have flowed out in this order if I were 40 or 30 or 20? 

How Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush talked about illegal immigration in April 1980. [Althouse]

Via Reason, this is from the debate before the Texas primary, answering a question from an audience member about whether "the children of illegal aliens should be allowed to attend Texas public schools free":

Transcript at the link. I was struck — perhaps because I'm also in the middle of reading "41: A Portrait of My Father" — by Bush's spontaneous and a bit awkward expression of empathy:

... we're creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family-loving people that are in violation of the law.... If they're living here, I don't want to see...six- and eight-year-old kids being made, one, totally uneducated, and made to feel like they're living outside the law.... These are good people, strong people. Part of my family is Mexican.
This education issue doesn't come up anymore, because —2 years after that debate — the Supreme Court determined that it violated Equal Protection to exclude these children from school. Reagan's contribution ignores the school question and stresses the need for work permits:
Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don't we work out some recognition of our mutual problems? Make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they're working and earning here, they'd pay taxes here. And when they want to go back, they can go back. They can cross. Open the borders both ways.

"To the extent that large-scale use of prosecutorial discretion is ever appropriate, it is surely so..." [Althouse]

"... in the case of helping people whose only violation of the law is fleeing poverty and oppression under terrible Third World governments. Few other offenders have such a compelling moral justification for breaking the law. I strongly support the legalization of marijuana and the abolition of the War on Drugs more generally. But illegal immigrants violating the law to escape Third World conditions are considerably more deserving of our compassion than college students violating it to experiment with marijuana or other illegal drugs. If exemption from prosecution is acceptable for the latter, it should be permitted for the former too."

Writes Ilya Somin in "Obama, immigration, and the rule of law."

"Do you not see that so long as society says a woman is incompetent to be a lawyer, minister, or doctor, but has ample ability to be a teacher, that every man of you who chooses this profession tacitly acknowledges that he has no more brains than a woman?" [Althouse]

A quote from 1853 (from Susan B. Anthony) that appears in a NYRB piece by Jonathan Zimmerman titled "Why Is American Teaching So Bad?"

Here's the second-to-last paragraph:

Indeed, the biggest insult to the intelligence of American teachers is the idea that their intelligence doesn’t matter. “The teaching of A, B, C, and the multiplication table has no quality of sacredness in it,” Horace Mann said in 1839. Instead of focusing on students’ mental skills, Mann urged, teachers should promote “good-will towards men” and “reverence to God.” Teachers need to be good, more than they need to be smart; their job is to nurture souls, not minds. So Garret Keizer’s first supervisor worried that he might have too many grades of A on his college transcript to succeed as a high school teacher, and Elizabeth Green concludes her otherwise skeptical book with the much-heard platitude that teachers need to “love” their students.
Garret Keizer is the author of "Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher," and Elizabeth Green is the author of "Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)."

"The Mystery of Why This Dangerous Sand Dune Swallowed a Boy. [Althouse]

"When a boy suddenly disappeared into a sand dune, a scientist embarked on a quest to find out where he went."

Title and subtitle of an article in Smithsonian Magazine. It's an interesting story, even though I don't think the dune "swallowed" the boy. According to his friend, the only other person who saw what happened, the boy saw a hole in the sand and climbed down into it.

When the fathers turned around, there was no sign of Nathan—just a round, 12-inch-diameter hole in the sand. Keith, tall and beanpole thin, lay across the sand and reached into the hole.

“I’m scared,” came the boy’s voice from somewhere in the darkness....

The men dug furiously, confident they’d soon feel Nathan’s hand or head. But within minutes, sand was sloughing into the hole from every direction.

"We must reclaim and retake feminism from our fellow idiotic women." [Althouse]

Said Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

"... I condemn whole-heartedly the trivial bullshit it is to go after a man who makes a scientific breakthrough and all that we as women — organized women — do is to fret about his shirt?"
Was #shirtstorm organized?

ADDED: I have a few problems with Hirsi Ali's statement: 1. She portrays the various individual reactions to Matt Taylor's shirt as the work of an organized collective, but that's not so. 2. There's nothing wrong with taking a shot at a small problem even though there are larger problems. 3. The women who choose to do the kind of culture critique that was aimed at the shirt are not idiots, nor is fretting about the shirt all they do. 4. Those who decided to go after the women who went after Matt Taylor were themselves guilty of taking something small and inflating it beyond all proportion. That said, I do agree that much of feminism seen on the web these days is predictable, safe writing that feels as though it came from a college course on feminism.

"Undercutting the president’s staff at a time of transition to a new majority is pretty outrageous." [Althouse]

"For Krone to do this and there’s no retribution? Unbelievable."

Said William M. Daley, Obama's former chief of staff, commenting on Harry Reid's top aide, David Krone, in the NYT article "Reid Unapologetic as Aide Steps on Toes, Including Obama’s."

Mr. Krone said he was simply protecting Mr. Reid. A few days before the midterm elections, he said, he was hearing from reporters that the White House was blaming the legislative strategy devised by him and Mr. Reid for the party’s lousy electoral prospects. “I’m going to go meet with these reporters,” Mr. Krone recalled telling Mr. Reid. “And he’s, like, ‘O.K.’ ”....

Wall Is Over. [Althouse]

"For years, Prague's Lennon Wall was a vibrant rainbow in the city, attracting artists and tourists alike with its prismatic graffiti. But on November 17, the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that peacefully ousted Communism from Czechoslovakia, Prague residents woke up to a very different Lennon Wall than the one they had known since 1980—a completely white space, with years of artwork painted over save for bold black text proclaiming, 'Wall Is Over!'"

And then what happened?

And here's the official video for the John Lennon song "War Is Over":

"You're looking at them? Well, they're looking at you." [Althouse]

#57 in a set of 57 drawings — with captions — by women of their own breasts.

Explanation of the project (in New York Magazine) here. From the comments: "Should do this for guys and their dongs."

Mattel apologizes for its book "Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer." [Althouse]

"The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn’t reflect the brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for."

What was so terrible? Pamela Ribon unleashed the critique here.

Despite having ruined her own laptop, her sister’s laptop, and the library’s computers, not to mention Steven and Brian’s afternoon, she takes full credit for her game design– only to get extra credit and decide she’s an awesome computer engineer! “I did it all by myself!”

Distribution Release: Guadalinex 9 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Guadalinex 9 has been released. Guadalinex is a Linux distribution developed by the Council of Economy, Innovation and Science of the Government of Andalucía (Spain) to facilitate the access to information technology for all citizens of the Spanish province. It is largely based on Ubuntu 14.04, with elements....

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but, even with a hotel on each, Baltic and Mediterranean aren’t a fair swap for Boardwalk and Park Place.

If You Like Your Plan, We May Change It [hogewash]

It’s always interesting to see what documents get dumped on a Friday afternoon. Yesterday, the dump included 30,000 “found” Lois Lerner emails and 300 pages of proposed Obamacare regulations. One of the proposed changes would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to move you to the cheapest plan in your coverage tier if you didn’t specifically reenroll in your current plan during open enrollment.

Of course, you could wind up with a plan that doesn’t provide reasonable access to a key service you need or that excludes the team of doctors treating your current condition, but don’t worry. Our betters really know what’s good for us.

Thanks for the Links [hogewash]

A significant number of page views here at Hogewash! come from outside links. I’d like to thank those sites that have sent viewers this way during the past week. In addition to hits from search engines, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, Hogewash! has had visitors linked from:

Allergic to Bull
Saber Point
Helm’s Deep
The Daley Gator
The Camp of the Saints
Evi L Bloggerlady
Conservative Hideout 2.0
Pilgrim Passing
Truth Before Dishonor
Conservative Christian Man

Thank you, fellow bloggers, for those generous links. Thanks, too, to everyone who clicked on them. Please keep coming back.

NGC 986 [hogewash]

A spiral in a furnaceNGC 986 is found in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), located in the southern sky. NGC 986 is around 56 million light-years away, and its golden center and barred swirling arms are clearly visible in this image assembled from data captured by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. (The stars in the upper right appear a little fuzzy because a gap in the Hubble data was filled in with images from ground-based telescopes. The view  is accurate, but the resolution is no match for Hubble.)

Barred spiral galaxies are spiral galaxies with stars forming a central bar-shaped structure. NGC 986 has the characteristic S-shaped structure of this type of galaxy. Young blue stars can be seen dotted through the galaxy’s arms, and the core is also alight with star formation.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but if a doe is a female deer, why are so many of them named John?

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

Yesterday, I announced a contest to see who could pick up on the amazingly stupid error that Aaron Walker found in The Dread Pro-Se Kimberlin’s motion for a new trial in the Kimberlin v. Walker, et al. nuisance lawsuit. There have been quite a few of entries so far, but no winner yet.

Here are the rules:

1. Don’t publish anything online that would tip off TDPK. The winning answer will be posted after the judge rules. So will some of the best of the other entries.

2. Email your entry to hogewash@wjjhoge.com. Include “TDPK Contest” in the subject line.

3. The first email (based on timestamp) with the correct answer will win a Hogewash! Res Judicata coffee mug.

popcorn4bkThus far, all the entries have found at least one fatal error in TDPK’s motion, but no one has latched on to Aaron’s zinger. Keep the entries coming. I’m enjoying them.

Meanwhile, the time remaining until TDPK’s omnibus opposition to all of our motions to dismiss the Kimberlin v. The Universe, et al. RICO Madness is slipping away.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day [hogewash]

Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever.

—Marcus Tullius Cicero

Programming Notice [hogewash]

Because Sergeant Friday and Officer Smith are engaged in a special assignment, Blognet will not be available this evening. Tune in next week for another episode of Blogsmoke and in two weeks for Blognet.

Brazil (China) fact of the day [Marginal REVOLUTION]

From 1967 to 1980, Brazil grew at an average annual rate of 5.2 per cent. Few would have predicted, then, that for the next 22 years per capita income would grow at precisely zero.

That is from David Pilling at the FT, who considers China as well.  And here is part of the first comment on the article, from Danny Quah:

Success, by definition, means being different from the mean. For economic growth the quantitative implications of such success (or even apparent failure) are laid out in http://blogs.worldbank.org/futuredevelopment/chinese-lessons-singapore-s-epic-regression-mean. Sure China’s continued growth faces manifold obstacles but many of those problems are not insurmountable http://www.boaoreview.com/perspective/2013/1115/296.html

The pointer here is from Helmut Reisen.

The Bill Cosby Collection [Marginal REVOLUTION]

It doesn’t sound quite right to still call it that, does it?  In any case it is on display at the National Museum of African Art.  At least two-thirds of the collection is lame and maybe a third or somewhat less is wonderful.  Cosby for instance has excellent works by Jacob Lawrence, Horace Pippin, Minnie Evans, Henry Ossawa Tanner, (and here), Romare Bearden, some amazing quilts and textiles (try here too), and quality African ethnographic pieces.  The works by lesser-known creators are mostly sentimental junk with lots of gloppy paint and hackneyed historical themes, or perhaps a maudlin portrait of some kind.

My hypothesis is simple: in any collecting area where price is a sufficient statistic for quality, Cosby did well by paying top dollar, or at least by letting himself be “mined” by his buyer agent, who probably had a financial incentive to pay top dollar.  In any area where judgment was required, Cosby chose very poorly.

Here is one review of the show and the surrounding controversy.  Here is WaPo coverage.  What is the average moral quality of assemblers of art?  How should we feel about the collection in the Louvre, the Prado, or for that matter art museums anywhere in Russia?  Here is an article on how colleges and universities are responding to their involvement with Cosby.

The African Mosaic show at the African Museum is worth a visit as well.  The Washington D.C. art exhibit scene is much worse than it was fifteen years ago, but right now the African Museum is the place to go.

The art sale gender pay gap [Marginal REVOLUTION]

A Georgia O’Keeffe painting just sold for over $44 million, setting a new record for a painting by a woman; the previous record was for a Joan Mitchell painting auctioned for $11.9 million.  A Francis Bacon once auctioned for $142.4 million, and so:

Despite the huge O’Keeffe sale, the cavern between the men’s and women’s records remains yawning. The gender pay gap is something like 84 cents to the dollar. The art sale “record gap” is now about 31 cents to the dollar. Before Thursday, it was 8 cents.

That is by Oliver Roeder, the full article is here.

Latest Obamacare ‘Tweak’ a Doozy [The PJ Tatler]

Americans are inveterate tinkerers — a trait commented on by observers from de Tocqueville to Winston Churchill.

That’s why it’s not surprising that the bureaucrats at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would want to keep tweaking Obamacare. Mind you, it’s not so much because they think they can perfect the law. Rather, they keep tweaking the law in order to keep the American people from brandishing pitchforks and coming to Washington to tar and feather them and ride them out of town on a rail.

Self preservation can be a marvelous motivating factor.

The geniuses who brought us the dysfunctional website healthcare.gov, are in a panic because just about every Obamacare policy is going up in price. So rather than having American citizens deal with such unpleasantness, our intrepid bureaucrats have hit upon a brilliant scheme; why not change the auto-renewal rules of Obamacare premiums by automatically shifting a consumer from a policy that went up in price over to a cheaper policy? Of course, the cheaper policy will have fewer benefits and a larger deductible. And some people may actually like the policy they have now.

But what does that matter to the jamokes at HHS? They know what’s best for you. Just ask them.

Peter Suderman:

In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.

From the attached fact sheet:

Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the openenrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.

(Fact sheet via Adrianna McIntyre; proposal first noted by Politico.)

States running their own exchanges could start doing this in 2016, and federal exchanges could start in 2017.

It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment, at least for those who pick that option. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year.

A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.

Presumably the idea came up because, even though by some measures premiums aren’t rising by large amounts this year, premiums for many of the lowest cost and most popular plans from last year are rising quite a bit. And since HHS decided over the summer to institute auto-renewal, and since the majority of Obamacare enrollees are expected to take no action and thus stay in their current plans, the reality is that under the current system a lot of enrollees are likely to see large premium hikes, just because they didn’t shop around for a new plan.

Bless their nanny state hearts. The thoughtfulness of liberals is never ending, isn’t it? As we are constantly reminded by many on the left, Americans are just too stupid to realize what their best interests are, so why not make it easy on us and take decisions on our health insurance out of our hands and place the responsibility with our all-knowing betters in government?

I guess they think we’re too dumb to notice a 20% monthly increase in our premiums. Otherwise, I can’t think of a logical reason why CMS would want to make this tweak. Most of us would be upset to realize that a plan we were reasonably satisfied with was going up in price — something that the president promised wouldn’t happen. So, I guess one way to avoid that is to automatically switch a consumer to a lower priced alternative.

There’s a reason the new policy is cheaper; fewer benefits and probably a higher deductible. If one way to define a loss of freedom under Obamacare is a narrowing of choices for Americans and their health insurance, then this latest tweak represents another effort to chip away at our personal liberty.


Two New Black Panther Party Members Arrested in Ferguson Bomb Plot [The PJ Tatler]

According to a spokesman for St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, the grand jury considering whether to indict officer Darren Wilson on charges relating to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, was still meeting as of Friday morning, although McCulloch’s office put the media on notice to expect an announcement in the near future.

And in a sting operation, the FBI has told some media outlets that they have arrested two members of the New Black Panther Party on charges related to a bomb plot connected to the Ferguson protests. Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis, recently indicted on charges of trying to purchase handguns under false pretenses, were being charged with federal firearms offenses for trying to buy material for pipe bombs they planned on setting off during protests.

Reuters reports:

Against this backdrop of heightened tensions, according to a law enforcement source, two men described as reputed members of a militant group called the New Black Panther Party, were arrested in the St. Louis area in an FBI sting operation.

As initially reported by CBS News, the men were suspected of acquiring explosives for pipe bombs that they planned to set off during protests in Ferguson, according to the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

The official said the two men are the same pair named in a newly unsealed federal indictment returned on Nov. 19 charging Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis with purchasing two pistols from a firearms dealer under false pretenses.

Both men were arraigned on Friday in federal court, the law enforcement source said.

The FBI and other federal agencies were reported to have stepped up their presence in the St. Louis area in recent days in anticipation of renewed protests after the grand jury’s decision in the Brown case is made known.

An FBI official in St. Louis declined to comment except to say that the two men named in the indictment had been arrested. Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for eastern Missouri were not immediately available for comment.

In 2012, the New Black Panther Party offered a bounty on George Zimmerman, the man acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin.

The New Black Panther Party’s most notorious act was intimidating voters at a precinct in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election. For no announced reason, Attorney General Eric Holder dropped those charges in 2009.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Hopes Ferguson Grand Jury Finds Evidence of a Crime [The PJ Tatler]

images (13)

North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who was elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) this week, told WUNC on Wednesday that the CBC is “laser-focused on what’s happening in Ferguson.” He added,  ”We are very, very concerned about it.”

Butterfield, a former Superior Court judge and civil rights attorney, said in an interview with WUNC, the North Carolina Public Radio affiliate, that he expects a report from the grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting case next week.

“I was a judge, as you probably know, for fifteen years in North Carolina and I presided over many grand juries,” the congressman said. “So I would certainly hope that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, will find that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that a crime probably was committed, to lay out that crime, and to let a jury of twelve in Missouri decide the guilt or innocence of the police officer. ”

Butterfield didn’t say whether he had seen any evidence indicating that a crime “probably was committed.” Nevertheless, he had a stern warning for the grand jury: “If they turn their backs on justice there will be…there will be pushback from those who are concerned about it — and I’m one of those who’s concerned about it. There will be pushback. We will be asking questions.”

The North Carolina congressmen, who has represented his district since 2004, said he hopes that any demonstrations in Ferguson will be peaceful and non-violent. “And I would hope that law enforcement would not inflame citizens who want to express their First Amendment rights.”

Audio here.

Hillary Clinton Offers Her Own Condescending Hispanic Stereotype [The PJ Tatler]

Remember, this is an MSNBC guy reporting this, so it’s probably accurate. He also probably didn’t notice how cringe-inducing the statement was.

Again, she is an extraordinarily awful candidate. All she has to do is speak extemporaneously and she does more damage to herself than any opponent ever could. As I wrote on Wednesday, the press has a herculean task ahead of them to make this woman likable.

Boehner Is Under Obama’s Thin Skin, Let’s Hope He Stays There [The PJ Tatler]

We noted earlier that Boehner wasted no time in raining on Obama’s parade.

Well, it worked.

President Barack Obama defended his decision to bypass Congress and overhaul U.S. immigration policy on his own on Friday, saying he was forced to act because House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner would not let legislation come to a vote.

With many Americans skeptical of his decision to bypass Congress and impose an immigration overhaul unilaterally, Obama attempted to rally support for his move in a speech at a Las Vegas high school, saying illegal immigrants need a chance to come out of the shadows.

He engaged in a cross-country debate with Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, who accused Obama in Washington of sabotaging chances for bipartisan legislation and vowed to lead a fight to block his executive actions.

As a long-time Boehner detractor, it’s been a relief to write a couple of things praising him. It would be nice to see the Republicans take the victory handed to them by the American people and be as forceful as legally possible to slow down a president who is likely to become more unhinged as his celebrity in-chief days wind down. (Think of America as the Michael Douglas character in Fatal Attraction and President Obama as Glenn Close: HE WON’T BE IGNORED.)

In the past, Boehner has talked about common ground with the president on immigration reform. This toddler fit of Obama’s seems to have genuinely irritated him. If he remains irritated, the president’s executive exercises may not yield the results he wants.


With 3 Words Obama Admits His Just-Announced Immigration Actions Are Illegal

Comforting: China Building an Island Big Enough for Airstrip in Disputed Territory [The PJ Tatler]

So this is happening.

Satellite images show China is building an island on a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands large enough to accommodate what could be its first offshore airstrip in the South China Sea, a leading defence publication reported on Friday.

The construction has stoked concern that China may be converting disputed territory in the mineral-rich archipelago into military installations, adding to tensions over waters also claimed by Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

IHS Jane’s, a leading defence publication, said images it had obtained showed the Chinese-built island on the Fiery Cross Reef to be at least 1.9 miles long and 660-980ft wide, which it noted is “large enough to construct a runway and apron”.

The building work flies in the face of US calls for a freeze in provocative activity in the South China Sea, one of Asia’s biggest security issues. Concern is growing about an escalation in disputes even as claimants work to establish a code of conduct to resolve them.

Such is the state of the world these days that we often forget about the potential trouble spot that our military has been worried about for quite some time. China is no doubt emboldened by the fact that the United States has a weak president and knows it has at least until January 2017 to push its luck.

At least we can be assured that we won’t run out of distractions.

Laugh Of The Week: Harold Ickes Says Bush/Portman Ticket Would Doom Hillary [The PJ Tatler]

I wouldn’t lie to you.

What could derail the Democratic Party in 2014? A combined Jeb Bush-Rob Portman ticket.

That, at least, is the assessment of Harold Ickes, a longtime Hillary Clinton adviser and one of the organizers of Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that has been laying the groundwork for a Clinton campaign.

Ickes made his assessment before reporters during a meeting Friday of Ready for Hillary’s national finance committee at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

A Bush-Portman ticket could doom Democrats in Bush’s native Florida and in Portman’s Ohio, Ickes said, and Bush’s Hispanic support would make Colorado a difficult lift as well.

“Bush has what appears to be very strong credentials with Hispanics,” Ickes said of the former governor, whose wife, Columba, is Mexican-American. “I’m told he speaks Spanish at home, and I’m told that he actually thinks in Spanish.”

It is always fun to watch the lefties tell us which Republicans should run for president to make their lives easier. The swooning over Jon Huntsman in 2012 was like a bad journalistic romance novel. I kept waiting for a Time cover of a chiseled Huntsman riding shirtless on a white stallion to save the GOP.

The only thing that would make Democrats happier than another Romney run is Jeb Bush running, and that’s because Jeb is the one Republican with name recognition who would probably under perform Mitt’s 2012 showing.

Portman keeps getting mentioned simply because he’s from Ohio, which is supposed to give the Republicans a boost there. The big problem with him is that no one outside of Ohio has any idea who he is. He is so bland there’s a good chance many in Ohio aren’t aware of him either.

This is a dream ticket only if you’re a Democrat who doesn’t want to have to campaign full time for the next two years.

Like Hillary Clinton.

30,000 Lois Lerner Emails that Were Missing Have Been Found [The PJ Tatler]

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has informed several committees of Congress that approximately 30,000 emails from Lois Lerner, the former chief of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, that were thought to be lost forever have been found.

The TIGTA said it would take several months to retrieve the emails because they have been stored on “disaster recovery tapes” and separating them is a laborious and time consuming task.

The emails take in the years 2009-11. Some may be duplicates of emails Lerner has already supplied to Congress.

From the Washington Examiner:

Committees in the House and Senate are seeking the emails, which they believe could show Lerner was working in concert with Obama administration officials to target conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status before the 2012 presidential election.

The missing emails extend from 2009 to 2011, a period when Lerner headed the IRS’s exempt-organizations division. The emails were lost when Lerner’s computer crashed, IRS officials said earlier this year.

In June, IRS Administrator John Koskinen told Congress the emails were probably lost for good because the disaster recovery tape holds onto the data for only six months. He said even if the IRS had sought the emails within the six-month period, it would have been a complicated and difficult process to produce them from the tapes.

The IRS also lost the emails of several other employees who worked under Lerner during that period.

Lerner, who retired from the IRS, has refused to be questioned by Congress.

She provided a statement at a March hearing, but then clammed up, following the advice of her lawyer to avoid self-incrimination.

The House, led by Republicans, voted in May to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.

Congressional aides said officials from the inspector general’s office said it could take weeks to get the recovered emails off the tape before sending them to lawmakers in Capitol Hill.

In all, investigators from the inspector general’s office combed through 744 disaster recovery tapes. They are not finished looking.

There are 250 million emails ion the tapes that will be reviewed. Officials said it is likely they will find missing emails from other IRS officials who worked under Lerner and who said they suffered computer crashes.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: They will find no smoking gun that definitively ties the White House to the targeting scandal. Those emails — if they ever existed — would have been destroyed long ago. It’s not likely that there is any kind of electronic or paper trail that leads back to the White House. These guys may not be the brightest bulbs in the room, but is there anyone in Washington stupid enough to leave bread crumbs for a prosecutor to follow?

Report: Multiple Opportunities to Help and/or Stop Sandy Hook Shooter Missed [The PJ Tatler]

Whaddya know.

Medical professionals and school staff missed multiple opportunities to help Adam Lanza with his severe emotional and psychiatric disorders before he burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, and shot dead 20 children and six educators, a Connecticut state review panel has concluded.

The Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate released a lengthy report Friday detailing Lanza’s troubled history and recommending systemic changes in the public health system to better identify and support children with multiple mental health challenges.

But the authors cautioned against drawing a direct line from Lanza’s mental illness — or the inadequate response to his needs — to the brutality at Sandy Hook. “Authors do not conclude that [these factors] add up to an inevitable arc leading to mass murder,” they write.

The “inevitable arc” statement is nonsensical. There will never be a way to look at a set of behavioral factors and claim that they will inevitably lead to a certain outcome. It’s a dodge. Yes, this is a guessing game but it is supposed to be a well-informed guessing game. If the information isn’t treated seriously enough to at least consider a tragic outcome then everyone has failed.

This kid was telegraphing some sort of meltdown for quite a long time and it was ignored. In many (most?) recent mass murders this has been the case. Mass murderers are sociopaths, and that’s not something you just wake up with one day. Somewhere after the fiftieth or sixtieth red flag, the professionals need to take serious note and whatever action they can, rather than just leave it up to subjective parental decisions and hope for the best.

A Rational, Legal Counter to Obama’s Immigration Tantrum Is Underway [The PJ Tatler]

Adults in the room.

The morning after President Barack Obama announced his sweeping action to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, conservative groups and states were already pulling together legal strategies to dismantle the plan.

Opponents said there will likely be a three-pronged legal approach to stymie Obama’s moves: Congress could sue the president for constitutional overreach, states could file lawsuits arguing the action strains local finances, or individuals could try to prove they’ve been harmed by the order. Just hours after the speech, an Arizona sheriff filed suit arguing the reform is unconstitutional.

“There is going to be massive litigation all over the place because there is tremendous legal confusion about what the administration is doing and what the states’ obligations will be,” said Dan Stein from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which calls for restrictions on immigration.

While law scholars say the president is on strong legal footing, a flurry of lawsuits will cause headaches for the Obama administration in its final two years and may stir public opinion against a policy meant to be one of his signature triumphs.

How the members of the MSM don’t sustain orthopedic injuries from the contortions they go through to cover for Obama in everything they write is beyond me. At the end of the above quote we see the standard press contention that public opinion is overwhelmingly on the side of the president when it comes to immigration, which it is not. They’ve also made a host of legal scholars who side with the president appear out of the ether to reassure us that all is legit, a story even the New York Times doesn’t completely buy.

The important thing to note here is that Election Night 2014 also gave the Republicans strength at the state level. There is very little cover beyond the usual suspects in the media for the president on this issue. Were his authority “strong” and clear, they wouldn’t be fretting about what the public thinks when the courts weigh in.

Pelosi: GOP Has Left Obama No Choice [The PJ Tatler]

According to House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the GOP has left President Obama no choice but to unilaterally mandate some sort of immigration reform.  During a press briefing on Capitol Hill, Pelosi remarked:

“We want a bill. It’s over 500 days since the Senate passed a bill, and still no action by the House Republicans on anything — some small bill, some bigger bills, whatever. Nothing. Nothing. And, really, this is a dereliction of duty not to address the broken immigration system. We cannot have the public be misled by the fact that the president is acting as presidents do, because we are not acting as legislators do, to pass laws.”

Pelosi desperately tried to justify Obama’s action. “They[GOP] ran them [the principles] up the flagpole,” she said, “[and] their members chopped down the flagpole.” Pelosi also insisted the president has authority to generate laws: “The president has great authority in the law to take these actions and great precedent of so many presidents from Eisenhower on.”

Some Democrats have insisted Obama has the authority to make this kind of executive decision, citing actions of Ford, Reagan, Clinton and the first president Bush.

But others aren’t excited about Obama’s plans. “I wish he wouldn’t do it,” Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said. “I think we ought to work through this process, and with the new elections and the results of the elections, we ought to try in January to see if we can find a pathway to get something accomplished.”

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri said she supported comprehensive immigration reform but was concerned by Obama’s plan. “I have to be honest, how this is coming about makes me uncomfortable, I think it probably makes most Missourians uncomfortable.”

“I would prefer the Congress acted, yes,” Jon Tester (D-MT) said. “I think it would be great to have the House take up the Senate-passed bill. … That would be a solution to the problem.”

Apple's $450 million e-books settlement gets final approval [PCWorld]

A federal judge in New York has given final approval to a settlement in which Apple will pay $450 million for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices for ebooks.

Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan called the settlement “fair and reasonable.” It requires Apple to pay $400 million to consumers who bought certain books between 2010 and 2012, as well as $50 million in attorneys’ fees.

Although the settlement is final, Apple only has to pay that amount if it loses its appeal of a 2013 price-fixing ruling. If the appeal is successful, Apple will pay only $50 million to ebook purchasers and $20 million to attorneys.

A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for Dec. 15 in Manhattan. Lawyers for the ebook buyers have said they “strongly believe” that Apple’s appeal won’t be successful.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Far Cry 4 review: The most thrilling deja vu experience you'll ever play [PCWorld]

"An eagle!" my soldier yells. "Look out! Help me!" My men, who I've seen stand fast in the face of overwhelming machine gun fire, are scattering because of a dive-bombing bird. The eagle circles overhead, taunting me before swooping down and raking its claws across my arm.

Just as I start to recover, an enemy patrol drives by and spots us shooting into the air. They decide to join the party, aiming at us briefly before a rhinoceros slams into their truck and throws them over a cliff.

And that's when the mortar fire starts raining down on our heads. Aimed at me? Aimed at my fellow soldiers? Aimed at the eagle? I don't even know anymore.

Welcome to Far Cry 4.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Why is Microsoft updating Windows PCs for a security bug on the server? [PCWorld]

When Microsoft released a critical update for multiple versions of Windows Server this month, it also pushed out a fix for several releases of the Windows client OS, including even the technical preview for Windows 10.

It was critical to get the patch out for Windows Server: An exploit affecting Windows Server 2008 R2 and earlier versions has already been detected, and Windows Server 2012 and later releases are vulnerable to a related but more difficult attack.

But the vulnerability isn’t present in the desktop versions of Windows. In Windows Server, the flaw allows attackers to employ the username and password of anyone in an Active Directory domain to get the same system privileges as a domain administrator, using a forged Privilege Attribute Certificate to fool the Kerberos Domain Controller that manages remote access.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Prices for 4K monitors sink below $500 [PCWorld]

Prices for 4K monitors have dropped below US$500, bringing them within the reach of cost conscious buyers looking to replace 1080p displays.

The prices have been falling steadily from $700 or more earlier this year. 4K monitors are available from Samsung, Sharp, Dell, Asus, Acer, Monoprice and small vendors.

4K gives a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or four times deeper than conventional 1080p resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Dell is selling its 28 Ultra HD P2815Q monitor for $449.99, down from $699.99 when the product started shipping earlier this year. Newegg is selling 28-inch monitors from AOC and Planar for $499.99.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Reports: EU taking first step towards breaking up Google [PCWorld]

Members of the European Parliament are readying a motion calling for the break-up of Google, by separating its search engine functionality from other commercial services, according to news reports.

A draft resolution calling for the break-up should be finalized early next week, with a vote potentially on Thursday, according to a report from The Financial Times. While the European Parliament has no formal power to break up the company, a vote to split Google could put pressure on the European Commission, the EU’s executive body.

The motion is backed by several German politicians and by the Parliament’s two largest political blocs, the European People’s Party and the Socialists, according to the newspaper. The Reuters news agency also reported on the plan.

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Why Uber’s long PR nightmare will end in a user privacy win [PCWorld]

Uber is in advanced-stage damage control mode to prove to the world that it actually cares about your privacy, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. The good news for you: The end result will be a strict privacy policy crafted by a company so scared of running afoul of regulators and potential users that it will elevate standards for the entire industry.

uber nyc

Uber’s public relations crisis, which began with an executive threatening to investigate a journalist’s private life in retaliation for a critical column, has snowballed into a user privacy debacle that has even Sen. Al Franken raising questions.

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AT&T Nexus 6 plagued with major software bug, according to report [PCWorld]

The Nexus 6 is having a rough go on AT&T. The carrier is shipping back its unsold inventory to Motorola in order to fix a major software bug, according to various reports.

The screen goes black and renders the device useless on affected phones. Motorola has identified a fix, and is shipping working devices out and repairing the problem phones. If you’re seeing this problem, best to contact AT&T or Motorola directly so they can send you a working device.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

US man sentenced for hacking POS systems at Subway [PCWorld]

A former Subway franchise owner will spend time in prison for hacking into computerized cash registers he sold to the sandwich restaurant chain and obtaining more than US$40,000 in gift cards.

U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns sentenced Shahin Abdollahi, also known as Sean Holdt, 46, of Lake Elsinore, California, to 18 months in prison. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $34,700 in restitution. Sentencing was Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Abdollahi pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.

Abdollahi owned Subway franchises in Southern California, and later operated a California company called POS Doctor, which sold and installed point-of-sale computer systems to Subway franchises around the country, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

The Power Line Show: Episode 2, With Tom Cotton and Bill Voegeli [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

Last night we got the whole PL crew together for Episode 2 of the Power Line Show. We were joined by Senator-elect Tom Cotton and Bill Voegeli, author of The Pity Party. The president’s amnesty order and multiple email mysteries were the main topics of the day.

You can join Power Line VIP for only $4 per month or $40 per year. Click here to join. Not only will you get the soon-to-be exclusive Power Line show, you can view the site ad-free–a real luxury in today’s era of ever more intrusive internet advertising. We will never charge for this site or limit access to a certain number of articles per month, as so many others have done. But by joining Power Line VIP you can help support our work. We appreciate it!


The Week in Pictures: Gobbling Gruber Edition [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

Some time next week President Obama will perform the annual ritual of pardoning a giant Thanksgiving turkey, which will then be sent to live out its days on a farm somewhere.  My guess is next week he’ll want to pardon the biggest gobbler of all, Jonathan Gruber.  More to the point: someone on Capitol Hill ought revive and reinvent Sen. Proxmire’s famous “Golden Fleece” award for ridiculous spending, but this time make it for a self-serving idea-monger.  We could call it the “Golden Gruber,” or the “Gobbling Gruber.”  Both convey how much they rip off taxpayers.

Stupid Voters copy Obama Flim Flam copy Obama Runs Over copy Obama Outreach copy Obama Flops copy Obama Amnesty copy Con Opinions copy Green Dems copy Keystone Rxtremis, copy Landreiu Dumped copy

Cable Guy copy

Dumb and Dumber copy Border Crossers copy Elections Have Consequences copy

Govt Poverty programs copy

1790s copy

Breadlines copy

Condemn Speech copy

Feminist copy

Settled Science copy

Cold Outside copy Buffalo Ice Bucket copy

This is definitely the right way for Buffalo to cope.

This is definitely the right way for Buffalo to cope.

Pumpkin Van copy

Asteroids copy Hot Sauce copy

Turkey Chill copy

Guys Guns 7 copy

And finally. . .

Hot 204 copy

The Krone connection [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

Jason Horowits writes political features and profiles for the New York Times. Yesterday the Times published Horowitz’s feature/profile on Harry Reid chief of staff David Krone. I don’t think Horowitz’s report rises to the level of what Steve Hayward has been following as “civil war on the left,” but it is hard not to enjoy the discord Horowitz traces among these unsavory players. Here is the opening of his article:

WASHINGTON — President Obama called Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, to broach a particularly delicate subject. It was during last year’s government shutdown and standoff with Republicans, but Mr. Obama’s frustration focused on one of their own. The president said he suspected David Krone, Mr. Reid’s intensely loyal and influential top aide, of leaking to the news media, and requested that he stay away from future meetings.

It did not take much time for the president’s comments to reach Mr. Reid’s right-hand man. To Mr. Obama’s surprise, Mr. Krone was listening in on the call. Suddenly, the aide piped up and made it clear to the president that he did not appreciate the accusation.

Quotable quote: “Mr. Reid fought back tears as he recalled the time he visited his wife, who had been injured in a car accident, and saw Mr. Krone at her hospital bedside. ‘David is someone I can say, and it doesn’t affect my manhood at all,’ Mr. Reid said, ‘I love David Krone.’”

What a crew!

Whole thing here.

UPDATE: Before she shares her usual stream of consciousness, Peggy Noonan explicates the text here.

When you’re strange [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

I cannot find the text of the memos/orders signed yesterday by President Obama to implement the actions announced in his immigration speech this past Thursday evening. (I have looked under Presidential Actions at the White House website.) I have therefore been unable to check the details of Obama’s action against the comments below, which are offered by an immigration attorney who works with existing law:

The proposed executive action on immigration (or whatever name you want to give it) will allow [illegal aliens] who have US citizen or green-card children and who have been here for five years to apply for some kind of quasi-status and open market work authorization. That would allow them to work for a period of time at any employer, the authorization presumably renewable until they decide to leave or have an option for US permanent resident status (green card status). This, the administration tells us, is fair and just and Biblical – yada/yada.

But this option is explicitly NOT available to those in the US in a valid legal status. There are millions of people in the US who have temporary status – as students or temporary workers or researchers or as investors (lots of Koreans own businesses with E-2 investor visas, for example). These people – many of them have US citizen children and have been here five years. These people who have been here legally and not violated their immigration status – these people are explicitly NOT eligible for open market work authorization, renewable indefinitely.

You must be in violation of the law to benefit from this provision.

If Republicans want to begin to push back on this issue, to turn the tables, I believe this is the question that needs to be raised again and again – why is the administration offering something to lawbreakers that is specifically prohibited for those who comply with the law?

There is no answer – I guarantee it. And when this point is circulated broadly, including broadly among immigrant and naturalized citizens, there will be resentment.

I realize there are a lot of angles to this issue but I haven’t seen anyone cover the above and I think it is one of the strongest points. Obama can fool people on the legal analysis and role of the executive but people know on a basic fundamental level that you should not be offering something to lawbreakers that is not available to the law-abiding.

We will revisit this issue when we have found the relevant White House action.

UPDATE: DHS has posted links to the executive actions here.

A Jim Webb presidential run? Spare us [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

Steve has commented on Jim Webb’s decision to launch an “exploratory committee” for a possible presidential campaign. But what is the case for a Webb presidency?

According to the Washington Post, Webb is pitching himself as someone who can shake up Washington’s partisan gridlock. Webb argues that, through him, America can “return to a leadership environment where people from both political parties and from all philosophical points of view would feel compelled to work the common good.” In this scenario people would “sort out their disagreements in a way that moves our country forward rather than tearing the fabric of the nation apart.”

Unfortunately, Jim Webb is as unlikely as almost any public figure in America to build consensus among those with differing points of views. Stated differently, he is a nasty piece of work.

In November 2006, the Washington Post reported:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia’s newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn’t long before Bush found him.

“How’s your boy?” Bush asked, referring to Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

“That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said. “How’s your boy?”

“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Henry Clay strongly opposed going to war with Mexico. James Polk defeated him for president in 1844 and the U.S. went to war. Clay became a leading anti-war critic. His favorite son was killed in action.

Yet Clay maintained good personal relations with Polk. In fact, their relations are said to have been warm during the latter days of Polk’s presidency.

Clay, a gentleman, rarely put a wrong foot forward in public. The the notable exception was a tirade in a bar when he learned that the Whigs had rejected him in favor of William Henry Harrison at their 1840 convention (in those days presidential aspirants didn’t attend their party’s convention).

Webb cannot be held to Clay’s standard. But one should expect minimal civility from someone seeking the presidency on the theory that he can break gridlock by getting people to “sort out their disagreements in a way” that doesn’t strain “the fabric of the nation.” That’s not a job for a jerk like Webb.

Nor is there any other rationale, beyond personal ambition, that militates in favor of a presidential run by the former Senator, who is now on his third marriage. Webb is hardly a political dynamo. His only electoral victory was against George Allen in 2006. It came in a state that has trended Democratic, and in the context of a pro-Democrat wave election.

Even so, Webb’s margin of victory was extremely small. And but for Allen’s use of the word “macaca,” Webb certainly would have lost.

Webb served six years in the Senate without distinction. His biggest contribution was his vote for Obamacare, without which the legislation would not have passed.

Webb declined to stand for reelection in 2012. Perhaps he doubted he would win. Perhaps he was bored with public policy.

Neither explanation commends him for the presidency. As former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder told the Post, “A lot of people will be asking, ‘Is this the reason you didn’t run for reelection, because you were still so concerned with the direction of the country?’”

Webb fancies himself a populist and at times has talked a pretty good game. This distinguishes him from Hillary Clinton, but not from a host of possible entrants with more credibility with the left. Bernie Sanders, Jerry Brown, and Elizabeth Warren come to mind.

Moreover, Webb can’t have it both ways. He can’t appeal as a populist to the rabid Democratic left while claiming that he will heal the partisan divide. After all, Webb is no Barack Obama. Even President Obama is no Barack Obama.

That’s why Steve is probably right in saying that Webb, although ideologically at home with the Democrats, better fits the independent/third part mold when it comes to presidential politics.

Is it cold enough for you? [Wizbang]

From WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida, Thursday, November 20, 2014: Tuesday morning was the coldest Nov. 19 across the United States since 1976, some 38 years, according to Dr. Ryan Maue, meteorologist with WeatherBell. The average temperature across the entire country was just 19.4°. An astounding 226 million people in all 50 states, that includes the tropical paradise of Hawaii, were below freezing at the same time putting an exclamation point on an already paralyzing winter season — that hasn’t even officially started yet. In celebration of all of this man-made global warming, one American has put some beverages on ice

To Aid Obama, Old Media Establishment Took a Pass on Gruber Videos [Wizbang]

The man who was trying to shop the Gruber videos to the media was rebuffed by the Old Media Establishment repeatedly because they had no interest in highlighting the fact that Obama and his Obamacare cohorts were lying to the American people about the President’s signature healthcare law. Howard Kurtz tracked down the man who was trying to get the media to notice the string of videos showing Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber telling audiences that the American voters are “stupid” and saying that the administration lied repeatedly about what was in Obamacare and how it would work all in a

The Return of Original Sin: God and Manson at Gaia University [Ed Driscoll]

“How it is that we once again find ourselves rooting out sin, shunning heretics, and heralding the end times,” asks Joseph Bottum in the Weekly Standard, exploring “The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas:”

Just as, for Paul in Romans, “the law entered, that the offence might abound,” so our awareness of our own racism massively increases when we realize that we are utterly formed as racists in America. And just as, for Paul, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” so it is that only from this overwhelming awareness of racism can we hope to escape racism.

The doctrine of original sin is probably incoherent, and certainly gloomy, in the absence of its pairing with the concept of a divine savior—and so Paul concludes Romans 5 with a turn to the Redeemer and the possibility of hope: “As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Think of it as a car’s engine or transmission scattered in pieces around a junkyard: The individual bits of Christian theology don’t actually work all that well when they’re broken apart from one another.

Which is why it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that an infinite sadness often haunts expressions of the white-privilege notion that we must become more aware of race in order to end the inherited sin of being aware of race. If we cannot escape it, then how can we escape it? When Prof. Jensen cries out in his chiliastic pain, “I will carry this privilege with me until the day white supremacy is erased,” he’s speaking in tones once reserved for the moral solution that only the Second Coming could provide. The strangeness of the isolated concept can be discerned in its unendingness, its never-satisfied ratchet. Discerned as well, I would suggest, in some of the disturbingly salvific terms with which President Obama’s campaign and election were first greeted.

Of course, however Christian the idea of white privilege may have been in origin, it emerged in contemporary America stripped of Christ and his church, making it available even for post- and non-Christians. For that matter, an explicit anti-Christianity is often heard alongside rejections of white privilege. At Radersma’s race conference, a fellow presenter named Paul Kivel defined white privilege as “the everyday pervasive, deep-seated and institutionalized dominance of Christian values, Christian institutions, leaders and Christians as a group, primarily for the benefit of Christian ruling elites.”

But that, too, is typical of much post-mainline moral discussion in America: the Church of Christ Without Christ, as Flannery O’Connor might have called it (to use a phrase from her 1952 novel Wise Blood). The mainline congregations may be gone as significant factors in the nation’s public life, but their collapse released a religious logic and set of spiritual anxieties that are still with us—still demanding that we see our nation and ourselves in the patterns cast by their old theological lights.

As Umberto Eco wrote in 2005, “God Isn’t Big Enough For Some People:”

It is the role of religion to provide that justification. Religions are systems of belief that enable human beings to justify their existence and which reconcile us to death. We in Europe have faced a fading of organised religion in recent years. Faith in the Christian churches has been declining.

The ideologies such as communism that promised to supplant religion have failed in spectacular and very public fashion. So we’re all still looking for something that will reconcile each of us to the inevitability of our own death.

G K Chesterton is often credited* with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

And finally, as Kate quips today at Small Dead Animals, “You Clever Matchmaker, Gaia!”, spotting someone who really red-lines the phrase “outrageous credulity:”

Afton Burton left her parents’ home in Illinois at age 19 to move to California, where she could be closer to Manson, Burton said.

It was Manson’s work as an environmentalist that drew her daughter into him, according to Burton.

“He’s an environmentalist, and she’s involved in his environmentalist program,” Burton said.

Say what you will about Charles Manson, but he took the “warrior” aspect of the phrase “Social Justice Warrior,” not to mention the quasi-religious doomsday implications of that strange mindset, seriously.

* The Chesterton Society traced the complex history of this brilliant aphorism, and concluded, “we must point out the irony that critics have chastised Chesterton for misquoting other writers, while he is the most misquoted writer of all. No one would be more pleased than G.K. Chesterton.”

Related: “Professor says she can no longer give common-sense advice for fear of being accused of victim-blaming.”

Huh. I Thought Bill de Blasio Would Have Been a Clinton Supporter [Ed Driscoll]

Today’s edition of Ed Driscoll.com is brought to you by the word “Man-spreading.” Or as Rich Cromwell writes at the Federalist, “The Rabid Equality Crowd Finally Outright Admits They Hate Testicles:”

They’re not called the family jewels because they are ordinary. They’re not referred to as stones because they’re impervious to injury. No, they are both extraordinary and surprisingly fragile. So, sorry notsorry if we give them some breathing room when we sit, if we don’t smash them betwixt our legs on public transit. But as the horizon of “male privilege” is constantly expanding, giving the old wedding tackle ample space is now a crime against humanity.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced on Monday that a new campaign addressing courtesy on public transportation will come into effect by January. One of the targeted behaviors is ‘man-spreading’ — the act of spreading one’s legs so far apart that other passengers are forced to squish their own together.

Or, if you prefer a more nuanced description, one of the most infuriating and outright ridiculous display of male privilege and machismo in existence today. As Mic’s Derrick Clifton succinctly put it, ‘Hey, bro, you’re not that well-endowed.’

Maybe. You don’t know.

Granted, I don’t use public transit. I luxuriate in a nicely padded captain’s chair without panhandlers and formidable smells. If I lived in a dense urban area, I would likely take advantage of the added reading time that public transit offers. For now, though, I don’t have that option, so I crank the tunes and spread my legs far and wide. But as a member in good standing of the patriarchy, I have to stand up for my brethren who live in constant fear of oppression.

Not the least of which being this fellow, who’s rather well-known for capping off his eight years in office by man-spreading on the cover of a well-known men’s magazine:


Stacy McCain describes the sort of person who’s a Socialist Justice Warrior obsessed with ending “man-spreading” as being one of the “Nowhere People:”

It’s important to remember that, although these people exist in real life — that is to say, there are actual human beings running those batshit crazy troll accounts — they are as altogether artificial in their politics as they are in their online personas. They themselves have never done a goddamned thing for “social justice.” They simply enjoy mouthing these slogans about “oppression” and “patriarchy,” etc., because posing as Our Moral Superiors is an emotional compensation for their own obscurity and worthlessness.

They are the Nowhere People — rootless, without loyalty to family, community or religious tradition, and thus “free” to create for themselves imagined identities and idiosyncratic belief systems. Although they usually think of themselves as unique individuals, they are really sheep in a herd, predictable and therefore ultimately boring. Any politics, as long as it’s not conservative politics; any religion as long as it’s not Christian religion; any sexuality as long as it’s not normal sexuality. One notices that the Nowhere People are seldom husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Idle narcissism is incompatible with the dutiful commitments of marriage and motherhood.


Hey, those six figure salaries that college professors earn for classes on lesbian deconstructionist poetry aren’t going to pay for themselves, you know.

Standup Comic In Chief’s Zany Bedpan Humor [Ed Driscoll]

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

Ezra Klein, January of 2008.

“America is not a nation that accepts the hypocrisy of workers who mow our lawns, make our beds, clean out bed pans, with no chance ever to get right with the law.”

—The president today in Las Vegas (appropriately enough), as transcribed by C-Span. Mockery on Twitter was, not surprisingly, swift and appropriately brutal. As one Twitter wag responded to the president’s inane remarks, “And we have reached peak ‘If it were Bush’. Thanks for playing everyone.”

Update: Hillary isn’t covering herself in glory either today. Shot:


Cringe, indeed.

The Ultimate Friday Afternoon Document Dump [Ed Driscoll]


“30,000 missing emails from IRS’ Lerner recovered,” according to the Washington Examiner:

In all, investigators from the inspector general’s office combed through 744 disaster recovery tapes. They are not finished looking.

There are 250 million emails ion the tapes that will be reviewed. Officials said it is likely they will find missing emails from other IRS officials who worked under Lerner and who said they suffered computer crashes.

Investigators said the emails could include some overlapping information because it is not clear how many of them are duplicates or were already produced by Lerner to the congressional committees.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he chairs will be one of the committees that will examine the emails.

“Though it is unclear whether TIGTA has found all of the missing Lois Lerner e-mails, there may be significant information in this discovery,” Issa told the Examiner. “The Oversight Committee will be looking for information about her mindset and who she was communicating with outside the IRS during a critical period of time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups. This discovery also underscores the lack of cooperation Congress has received from the IRS. The agency first failed to disclose the loss to Congress and then tried to declare Lerner’s e-mails gone and lost forever. Once again it appears the IRS hasn’t been straight with Congress and the American people.”

And…? Other than the (admittedly enjoyable) videos of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appearing regularly on Capital Hill as Trey Gowdy’s punching bag, will there be any real consequences to the agency for its malfeasance?

(H/T: SDA)

Update: “That’s a lot of emails. But remember when the New York Times asked its readers to ‘crowdsource’ the review of 24,000 of Sarah Palin’s emails?”


Sarah Palin committed no crime other than being a conservative woman. Lois Lerner has been implicated in using the power of the IRS to stifle the First Amendment rights of thousands of Americans and conservative Tea Party groups.

Surely, the media will investigate these newly found Lois Lerner emails more aggressively than they looked into Palin’s emails. Right?

Of course they will.

‘The Nihilist in the White House’ [Ed Driscoll]

“This White House seems driven—does it understand this?—by a kind of political nihilism. They agitate, aggravate, fray and separate,” Peggy Noonan wrote last night:

ObamaCare, whose very legitimacy was half killed by the lie that “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” and later by the incompetence of its implementation, has been done in now by the mindless, highhanded bragging of a technocrat who helped build it, and who amused himself the past few years explaining that the law’s passage was secured only by lies, and the lies were effective because the American people are stupid. Jonah Goldberg of National Review had a great point the other day: They build a thing so impenetrable, so deliberately impossible for any normal person to understand, and then they denigrate them behind their backs for not understanding.

I don’t know how ObamaCare will go, but it won’t last as it is. If the White House had wisdom, they’d declare that they’d won on the essential argument—health coverage is a right for all—and go back to the drawing board with Congress. The only part of the ObamaCare law that is popular is its intention, not its reality. The White House should declare victory and redraw the bill. But the White House is a wisdom-free zone.

The president’s executive action on immigration is an act of willful nihilism that he himself had argued against in the past. It is a sharp stick in the eye of the new congressional majority. It is at odds with—it defies—the meaning and message of the last election, and therefore is destructive to the reputation of democracy itself. It is huge in its impact but has only a sole cause, the president’s lone will. It damages the standing of our tottery political institutions rather than strengthening them, which is what they desperately need, and sets a template for future executive abuse. It will surely encourage increased illegal immigration and thus further erode the position of the American working class.

Jonah’s latest G-File (emailed today, online tomorrow) illustrates just how craven Mr. Obama can be. I don’t believe the president is a crypto-Muslim — he’s far t00 in love with himself to worship Allah, as one wag has noted — but note this disgusting bit of theater:

One last item I don’t want to fall down the memory hole. I was going to write a whole column on this, but Mona Charen beat me to the punch. Still, my jaw dropped when I heard Obama’s reaction to the beheading of Peter Kassig.

“ISIL’s actions represent no faith,” Obama said, “least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own.”

Abdul-Rahman was Kassig’s Muslim name, which he adopted only while being held captive by Islamists. Perhaps the conversion was sincere, though I suspect Kassig did it to stay alive and certainly under duress and I can begrudge him it. Either way, there’s something disgusting about using Kassig’s Muslim name in order to score a propaganda point.

It’s even worse when that propaganda point is so incandescently stupid.

As Mona notes (and as I argued here), no one except Barack Obama thinks it’s a revelation that the Islamic State kills Muslims. No Kurd, no Shia, no moderate Sunni stays in his home when the Islamic State is at the gates, and says “Hey, we’re Muslim and Muslims don’t kill Muslims. We’ve got nothing to worry about.”

But it’s the phrase “least of all the Muslim faith” that is truly infuriating. Least of all? Really? So other faiths are more implicated in this atrocity than Islam? Which ones? Does he really mean to be suggesting that while the Islamic State’s actions “represent no faith,” if we have to assign blame, Islam is the least culpable? Could a team of rhetoricians, theologians and logicians working around the clock in some Andromeda Strain bunker beneath the Nevada desert come up with an argument that puts even a scintilla more blame at the feet of, say, the Lutherans or Quakers? On the one hand we have a bunch of dudes who shout “Allāhu Akbar!”, memorize the Koran, and rape and murder in the name of the Islamic State. On the other hand, we have a grab bag of Buddhists, Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, and Southern Baptists. And the one faith least implicated here is Islam? Really. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

Heh. But then, along with cynicism, crazy is the currency of the Beltway at the moment.

Update: Bedpans.

Nihilism on the Edge of Town [Ed Driscoll]

“The temptation is to laugh at Bruce Springsteen and his admirers,” Ryan Cole writes in the Weekly Standard, in “Born to Rant:”

Springsteen embraced the imagery, iconography, and gestures of the genre. He threw on a leather jacket, sculpted his sideburns, and posed broodingly in Corvettes and Cadillacs. Then he name-checked John Steinbeck and Flannery O’Connor, sang of American decay and inequality, and rebuffed Ronald Reagan, whose reelection campaign had the nerve to assume that “Born in the USA”—a gloomy song about a homeless Vietnam veteran dolled up with a misleadingly anthemic chorus and sold with imagery of Springsteen draped in Old Glory—was actually a statement of patriotism. Which is not to say that Sprinssteen isn’t a patriot. It’s just that he articulates progressivism’s brand of national pride: America is noble in theory, nightmarish in reality; cool around the edges, but rotten to the core.

James Wolcott, writing in Vanity Fair, once quipped that it was almost as if Springsteen was “built to rock-critic specifications.” Others, such as Fred Goodman in Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, and Springsteen and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce (1997), have suggested that his career since partnering with Landau has been one long and meticulously plotted public relations exercise to present the Boss as a rock ’n’ roll holy man.

If that’s the case, it has worked: Springsteen has sold and continues to sell millions of albums, and his shtick is catnip to baby boomers. In fact, a standard component of Springsteen hagiography is the breathless recollection of that moment, long ago, when the author, young and searching for truth, first stumbled across the Boss’s magic. For David Brooks, it was February 1975, when he caught a live performance on WMMR in Philadelphia. For David Remnick, it was November 1976, from his perch on the balcony of New York City’s late Palladium. It was heady stuff, no doubt—and it forged four decades of adoration, which often gives the impression that some writers view Bruce Springsteen the same way young boys do, say, Superman.

And yet, despite the comparisons to Elvis Presley, as well as to Chuck Berry, both of whom created music that was an amalgamation of prior American styles, Springsteen’s work is strikingly inorganic. With its fist-pumping chord changes, cluttered arrangements full of guitars, runaway xylophones, and honking saxophones, layered behind his maudlin, over-emoting voice, with its affected “heartland” accent, Springsteen’s music is meticulously processed and choreographed, akin to ersatz rock show tunes conceived by a committee of rock critics and Broadway producers.

Coming of age in the pre-Beatles era in which critics began to treat rock music as Serious High Art, Presley and Chuck Berry viewed themselves as performers. A very different role than the strange working class yet cult-like figure that Bruce proffers, more so to adoring critics, than his fans, the majority of whom simply want to boogie and luxuriate in the hits and those golden memories of seedy small town New Jersey, circa 1975. And as Cole writes, Springsteen offers up endless portraits of working class losers, but little opportunity for transcendence, despite Springsteen’s own staggering achievements:

Springsteen’s songs, in fact, often overlook how dynamic this land truly is: In his telling, untouchable corporations, cruel lawmen, and lawless leaders inevitably block the working folks’ access to the American Dream. You need not turn a blind eye to America’s deficiencies to see how incomplete this picture is, as summed up by “The River,” the title track from Springsteen’s 1980 album. Its young protagonist takes his love down to the aforementioned river and impregnates her. Then comes the shotgun wedding and the union card (I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company / But lately there ain’t been much work on the account of the economy). As Springsteen sings, Man, that was all she wrote. But isn’t the Boss’s success and fortune—he is, after all, the son of a working-class father, as his admirers never tire of pointing out—evidence against the inevitability of his own narrative?

But if Springsteen’s characters pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made something of their lives, they’d be (a) off the dole, (b) America wouldn’t be the 3000 mile-wide hellhole that Springsteen (and Landau’s) ideology demands that it to be and (c) they’d be less likely to vote for whichever Democrat political candidate Springsteen and Landau are plumping for that year. So instead, Bruce is born to run — on a golden treadmill to nowhere. Too bad; those albums from The Wild, The Innocent through Burn in the USA before Springsteen became as, Paul Shaffer’s Don Kirshner would say, “a viable commercial product,” were pretty awesome.

Related: “Despite highest poverty numbers in 50 years, Obama okays illegals to compete for jobs in US.” Sounds like the underpinnings of a great Springsteen song on the plight of the American working man, if only the Boss weren’t completely in the tank for Barry and whatever his political whims are this week.

Weekend Reading, Listening, Activity [IMAO]

So what’s the second greatest country in the world? Go to my PJ Media column to find why it would be scary if we ever had to care.

And you can go here to listen to me on On the Money with Charles Ortel.

And if you still need more to do, make sure to write up an online review of my hilarious new book. If you read it and tell me to my face you’ve ever read a funnier book, I’ll strangle you for being a liar.

Send to Kindle

What Buck? [IMAO]

A White House aide told The New York Times that, despite the beating Democrats took in the mid-terms, President Obama “doesn’t feel repudiated”.

Yup… in Obama’s head, nothing is a reflection on him unless a terrorist dies.

Send to Kindle

Still Not Dinosaurs With Rocket Launchers [IMAO]

[High Praise! to Gun Free Zone]

Another early prototype fails to live up to its promise.

Send to Kindle

Here – Make This Go Away [IMAO]

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said he expected the 2015 tax season is “going to be miserable”.

Mostly for the poor slobs in IT in charge of installing new hard drives.

Send to Kindle

Link of the Day: Satire – Introducing the Affordable Phone Act! [IMAO]

[High Praise! to The People's Cube]

Introducing the Affordable Phone Act!

[Think you have a link that's IMAO-worthy? Send it to harvolson@gmail.com. If I use your link, you will receive High Praise! (assuming you remember to put your name in the email)]

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Also, That Weird, Nervous Hyena-Giggle of His [IMAO]

Josh Earnest said there are “a variety of reasons” why Biden is not the best person to succeed Obama.

For instance, it’s really hard for him to walk with both feet in his mouth.

[title reference link]

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You’ve Been Judged! [IMAO]

Anonymiss of Nuking Politics picked her favorite punchlines to “In Its Lastest Act of Aggression, Russia Is Threatening…

Click here to see if you made the cut.

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Thought for the Day [VodkaPundit]

Friday Night Videos [VodkaPundit]

Peter Murphy’s heroin-infused “Cabaret Mix” of Iggy Pop’s 1977 punk hit “Fun Time” came on this morning, so I was going to play that track for you tonight. But while I was going through my memories and AllMusic.com, I came across an even better story of rock’n'roll incest.

When Bauhaus formed in the late ’70s around Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J, they borrowed heavily from David Bowie’s theatricality, and from raw proto-punk sounds like Iggy and The Stooges. Murphy & Co. wrapped that up in Nosferatu’s cloak worn in recording sessions which sounded like they were held in one of pre-Thatcher Britain’s abandoned, antiquated factories — and thus was Goth born.

But before all that happened, or maybe before it even could happen, The Stooges broke up, and Iggy checked himself into a mental institution for a bit. He came out ready for something new, and teamed up with friend David Bowie to pursue just that. Pop & Bowie cowrote songs for two albums Pop released in ’77, The Idiot and Lust For Life. Bowie did some of the arrangements and played on many of the tracks, too. This was all going on in Berlin at about the same time Bowie was working with Roxy Music’s Brain Eno on Bowie’s famous “Berlin Trilogy” albums, Low, Heroes, and Lodger.

It goes without saying that before Bowie and Eno teamed up in Berlin, Roxy Music had been part of the Glam movement Bowie had started in the late ’60s/early ’70s. And if you want to hear an excellent cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust,” my favorite was recorded in ’82 by — you guessed it — Bauhaus.

The frontiers of rock have always been highly inbred, which brings us to tonight’s song. In 1983, Bowie had a Number Two hit with “China Girl,” along with a steamy video and, if memory serves, a few charges of racism — even though the song was an explicitly anti-racist statement. The Left never changes, it seems. What you might not remember is that “China Girl” had been co-written six years earlier by Bowie and Pop, and it was Pop who recorded it first, as the starter track on Side B of The Idiot.

There are some fine concert versions of this song all over YouTube, but I figured since we went off on the whole Berlin thing, I’d play the original studio version, as originally recorded during what was probably the creative height of each man’s career.

You might want to turn this one up loud as thunder.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day [VodkaPundit]

The numbers, they are awful:

I’ve complained at great length about the Barack Obama administration’s lack of transparency surrounding the Affordable Care Act. But I don’t even know what to say about this latest revelation, courtesy of Bloomberg News’s own Alex Wayne: The administration counted stand-alone dental plans in order to claim that 7.3 million people had signed up during the first open enrollment period. Without the addition of the dental plans, enrollment would have very slightly missed its target of 7 million enrollees. Moreover, simple arithmetic indicates that it is still counting them in its current claims about enrollment.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell seems to be saying that this was some sort of mistake. And it’s possible that this is all it is. But I would be more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt if the administration hadn’t otherwise been managing enrollment data so aggressively, releasing good figures as soon as it had them but sitting on bad data as long as possible, and ceasing to issue regular reports as soon as open enrollment stopped and the numbers began to decline rather than rise.

You wonder what other goodies might be propping up the imaginary numbers?

Thought for the Day [VodkaPundit]

Happy Life Day from the whole Chewbacca family - Chewy, Itchy,... [kevin w murphy]

Happy Life Day from the whole Chewbacca family - Chewy, Itchy, Lumpy, Malla, Drinky, Goopy, Hummus, DogsAssResembley And Bea.

And please enjoy our Riff of the Star Wars Holiday Special, on sale. 

HHS contemplating rule allowing them to choose your Obamacare plan for you. [Moe Lane]

At this rate, the 2016 DEMOCRATIC candidate will run on repealing Obamacare:

Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.

Essentially, this is insurance-determination-via-bureaucracy: Reason argues that the goal here is to cut down embarrassing premium hikes to policies without having to turn off the imposition of auto-renewal rules… OK, let me back up here.  Obamacare currently has auto-renewal enabled on its policies, because without it the signup and membership rate would probably slow, or even decrease.  The problem here is that auto-renewal also means lots and lots of future stories about people signing up for policies and suddenly discovering that their rates have gone through the roof.  Ostensibly the idea to prevent that is to expect consumers to change policies every year – trust a bureaucrat to think that this would be a thing that people would cheerfully do* – and if they won’t do it on their own, well, let the benevolent hand of HHS do it for them**.  What could possibly go wrong?

If you answered A new insurance plan every year, with new paperwork, new networks, new co-pays, new restrictions, new exemptions, and we’re assuming that critical, ultimately highly expensive documents don’t end up in Des Moines with distressing regularity? What can’t go wrong? – congratulations!  You exist in the real world.  Which is somewhere that Obamacare in general, and HHS in particular, only seem to be sporadically manifesting in these days.

Via Instapundit.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Health insurance is scary because being sick is scary, and people do not like to think about scary things.  So when they have a policy that they like, they want to keep it because then they can stop thinking about the scary thing.  This is, by the way, not a silly or unreasonable desire to have, much to the disgust of Obamacare’s more sociopathic boosters: people should be allowed quiet enjoyment of their lives whenever possible.  Unfortunately, nobody told the Democratic party leadership that.

**Reason updated with a note that the government was also contemplating letting the user choose the default status of his or her auto-enrollment.  This will be leaped upon by many a suddenly-nervous Obamacare advocate, and never mind that changing the default could be as simple a method as finding the form on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’***.

***Classical reference.

Seriously, the DNC needs to fire its social media squad over this ‘ethnic cleansing’ own-goals. [Moe Lane]

As my readers may remember, yesterday the Democratic party managed to get itself put in a bad place by its own social media squad over ‘ethnic cleansing’ (basically, said squad turned a talk radio caller into the Voice of the Republican Party, because we’ve relentlessly given the Democratic party nothing better to work with this cycle). The Daily Caller covered this as well: it contained the phrase ‘no member of Congress from either party has made that claim or threat.’ When I read that last night, I assumed at first that it was a rhetorical trap, because decided that it wasn’t.  Surely nobody on the Democrats’ side would be stupid enough to try to keep arguing that a call-in comment on a radio talk show was actually a statement made by a federal Representative or Senator.

Well, those social media geniuses over at Team Democrat managed to double down on stupid.  Here’s Derek Hunter’s update to his post:

One flack said of [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach, “who as you know is a prominent voice in the GOP.” In all honesty, I had to look up who he was, so “prominent voice” is open to interpretation. [*] Finally, the words “no Member of Congress” precede what they’re complaining about. Last time I checked the Secretary of State of Kansas, or any other state, is not a Member of Congress. The DNC asked for an update to this post, so here is their update.

Derek looks forward to using this precedent to justify smacking around the Democrats every time one of their state politicians says something.  So will I: but there’s also more that I want to talk about here. This is part of a larger problem that the Democrats are having right now.

The difficulty for the Left right now is that they think that they know how to use social media, but do not actually know how to use it.  It’s not entirely their fault: the first real mainstreaming of social media took place during a Democratic peak in our perpetual two-party cycle, so it was legitimately difficult at the time to tell the difference between a legitimately successful political marketing strategy, and one that just happened to be successful because St. Peter and the Apostles would have had trouble getting elected as Republicans in 2006.  Fortunately, it’s easier now, because the Democrats haven’t particularly changed their basic rhetorical style since then, and it shows**.

This is relevant because the 2014 election was largely about how the GOP decided to change up its messaging and outreach, while the Democrats continued to use social media like a paramedic uses a defibrillator – and that choice of simile was deliberate.  The ‘Republicans are awful and we’re saying that they’re saying bad things!’ strategy worked perfectly well in 2006 and 2008: so would have sending a variant of that message twenty times a day to Democratic email lists.  Didn’t work in 2010, but Democrats told themselves that it did in 2012*** …and it went thoroughly pear-shaped for the Democrats in 2014, to the point where they’re no more than two or three more social media disasters away from changing their procedures.

But they’re not there yet, as the above ‘push-back’ from the DNC demonstrates.  Professional tip: if your opponent says None of my party’s Congressmen ever said such a thing! and you reply by saying Ha! You fail! It was a minor statewide official from your party who said that!, then you have not actually pushed back on your opponent’s statement.  You have, in fact, confirmed it.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: If I thought that the Democrats would listen to me, I wouldn’t actually write anything.

*The snipped part here is of Derek reasonably pointing out that Kobach’s comments were pretty much warped by the DNC, and him providing a link to the original talk radio show.

**One of the nice things about our current power imbalance in the media is that Republicans can never fully relax.  This is admittedly stressful, but at least we’re usually at least wary.

***It did not, but that’s a whole other post.

I’m gonna formally say it: Dragon Age Inquisition is a great game. [Moe Lane]

It is eating my goram life and sleep patterns, but it’s a great goram game.

There are some keyboard issues that will have to be patched, and I had to update to a beta version of AMD Catalyst to end the CTDs, but this is a hell of a good mix between combat and resource management, and the worldbuilding is excellent. Gonna need the strategy guide for this one though, methinks…

Amusing thought about how 2014 hurt 2020 for the Democrats. [Moe Lane]

Let us assume – well, actually, I’m not assuming this; I’m expecting it – that a Republican wins the Presidential election in 2016. Also assume (I am not quite expecting this) that the Senate stays Republican in the process.  Real quick: who is going to be the Democratic nominee in 2020?

This is not actually a facetious question.  The top two contenders for the Democratic nomination (Clinton and Biden) will simply be too old to run in 2020 (they’re also too old in 2016, but never mind that right now). The next obvious step is to look to the governors… but right now there isn’t a viable Democratic candidate in the bunch.  The RGA had a good year, and the DGA a bad one: which becomes relevant because the Presidential crop in 2020 will be heavily dependent on which Democratic candidates won this year.  It takes time to build an executive record in state government; so even if the Democrats have a good year in 2018 it won’t benefit them until 2024.

And, again, this isn’t facetious.  One reason why I’m chipper about 2016 is because we elected a lot of Republican governors in 2009 and 2010 and got most of them through 2014 intact.  We will have plenty of potential Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates for the 2016 election cycle. And even if we somehow do lose in 2016 (I think that we will not lose) we will still have a good selection for 2020.

Meanwhile, the Democrats? – I dunno.  Maybe they can try to nominate another liberal from Massachusetts.  That always ends well for them.

Something that many of my readers probably don’t want to hear about Chris Christie. [Moe Lane]

I was listening on CSPAN to yesterday’s speeches at some RGA (Republican Governors Association) meeting, and it struck me: we were all assuming a… somewhat ‘meh’ year for the RGA. And it was realistic to do so: we had had such a great year in 2010 everybody figured that there’d be a reversion to the mean. I mean, we knew about Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania. We figured that Florida was going to be heavy lifting, and many of us figured that Rick Scott wouldn’t make it through. Maine and Paul LePage, likewise. Sam Brownback in Kansas was being treated as a dead man walking. There were even people worried about Rick Snyder in Michigan and Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

…Well. Corbett got eviscerated, on cue. Sean Parnell in Alaska eventually lost, in what can be charitably called a ‘mess’ of an election. But all those other people won – and then we flipped Illinois, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Maryland.  That’s a solid win for the RGA, which means that it’s a solid win for Chris Christie.  Maryland’s Governor-elect Larry Hogan in particular couldn’t thank Christie enough for the RGA’s help, which was indeed easily the most significant support that the Hogan campaign got from the GOP*.  That will have an effect on donors and organizations. And it’s a legitimate one: being able to win in tough places to win is pretty much the yardstick that we’re using for our Presidential candidates**.

This doesn’t make Chris Christie inevitable.  It does make him more plausible, and you should probably take his candidacy seriously. Because he might end up being the nominee.

Moe Lane

*I don’t even think that Hogan is all that upset about it.  It was such a genuinely out-of-nowhere result that, really, how can you be annoyed that people didn’t really expect you to win the lottery?

**When you think about it, Scott Walker’s appeal to the conservative grassroots is based on the same criterion.  Walker went into progressive-held territory and carved out an empire, complete with a Throne of Skulls.

Stop Being Culturally Arrogant, White People! [Patterico's Pontifications]

[post by Dana]


I think we are supposed to be abuzz about the “bold”new cover art from the New Yorker. Artist Bruce McCall:

“It’s not profound, you know—nothing I do is profound—but I wanted to address the whole kerfuffle over the Redskins’ name,” Bruce McCall says.

Rather than viewing the team name as a “badge of honor” like owner Dan Snyder, McCall has a different take:

“This is 2014, and it seems a little late to be dealing with that stuff,” McCall says. “It should have been quashed a long time ago. We did everything to the Indians that we could, and it’s still going on. It seems crude and callous. Names like the Atlanta Braves come from another time. So, in my cover, I’ve brought the cultural arrogance of one side back to the sixteen-hundreds and the first Thanksgiving dinner, just to see what would happen.”


Inside look at TPF's budget process [Perlsphere]

It hasn't always been the case that The Perl Foundation has much of a budget to speak of. There were many early years that we flew by the seat of our pants. "Is it in the budget" was more or less the same as asking "what's left in the bank account?" But, as the foundation has grown up, so have our business and accounting practices.

First, it is helpful to know that The Perl Foundation has an accountant and bookkeeper that we work with in order to prepare our taxes, keep our records straight, and to help out with the interesting accounting questions that come along with running a charitable foundation. Everything that we do is tracked using commonly accepted standard accounting practices by an independent, licensed accountant.

So, what's up with this mysterious TPF budget anyway? How does it all work? As with everything else, it starts with the Perl community. The leaders of TPF do their best to listen to the community. We try to feel out what the needs are. We also solicit feedback to determine the attitude on existing programs: do the members of the community favor what we are doing? Have the programs been successful? What needs adjusted?

Next, the Treasurer reaches out to the Chairpeople of TPF's committees: Community Advocacy, Conferences, Marketing, Grants, and Steering. They needs to write up their plans for the coming year. They need to explain what they want to do, and how much it will cost.

Once all of that is done, the Treasurer meets with the President to get feedback on her visions for the upcoming year. The feedback that has been received and various committee requests are discussed. There are also program that operate outside of a specific committee (for example, the Outreach Program for Women.) All of this must be considered in detail in order to formulate both a reasonable set of objectives for the upcoming year and a matching budget. The outcome is a draft plan for the following year.

Finally, the draft plan is sent along to The Perl Foundation's Board of Directors. The Board reviews the recommendations, makes adjustments as they deem necessary, and ultimately approves the final budget.

Once the budget has been approved, each chairperson has the discretion to spend their budget on the items they had initially requested (within a few limitations and guidelines.)

The budgets can get a little complicated due to the way we handle fund accounting: We have a general fund that handle a majority of our operations. We also operate separate funds for the Ian Hague grants and the Perl 5 Core grants. So, each of those need to be budgeted separately.

We also operate separate custodial funds for the various Perl workshops that associate with us. But since TPF's money typically does not flow in or out of the Perl workshops, we do not budget those.

The entire process takes about three months to complete. Requests from Chairpeople were due today. We expect to have the 2015 budget final by early January.

After every episode of Tabletop season 3 I’ll make a fake... [Photoshop Wil Wheaton]

After every episode of Tabletop season 3 I’ll make a fake movie poster inspired by something that happened in that episode. I’ll try to keep them as spoiler-free as possible.

Here’s the one for Tokaido : 3 Mecharobots and a Kitty.

And no, you can’t wish for infinite wishes. I asked. 2... [Photoshop Wil Wheaton]

And no, you can’t wish for infinite wishes. I asked.

2 days until Tabletop season 3!

Just three days before season 3 starts! Here’s a pyramid... [Photoshop Wil Wheaton]

Just three days before season 3 starts! Here’s a pyramid of Wil’s for you.

Daniel Pocock: rtc.debian.org updated for latest browsers [Planet Debian]

I've just updated rtc.debian.org with the latest versions of JSCommunicator and JsSIP.

The version of JsSIP that had been on the site was actually quite old, from February 2014 and the browsers have evolved a lot since then.

If you've tried it before and it didn't work consistently please try again and feel free to share any feedback you have.

Jonathan Wiltshire: Getting things into Jessie (#7) [Planet Debian]

Keep in touch

We don’t really have a lot of spare capacity to check up on things, so if we ask for more information or send you away to do an upload, please stay in touch about it.

Do remove a moreinfo tag if you reply to a question and are now waiting for us again.

Do ping the bug if you get a green light about an upload, and have done it. (And remove moreinfo if it was set.)

Don’t be afraid of making sure we’re aware of progress.

Getting things into Jessie (#7) is a post from: jwiltshire.org.uk | Flattr

Craig Small: WordPress 4.0.1 for Debian [Planet Debian]

WordPress recently released an update that had multiple security patches for their (then) current version 4.0. This release is 4.0.1 and includes important security fixes.  The Debian packages got just uploaded, if you are running the Debian packaged wordpress, you should update to 4.0.1+dfsg-1 or later.

I am going to look at these patches and see if they can and need to be backported to wordpress 3.6.1. Unfortunately I believe they will be. I’m also asking it to be unblocked into Jessie as it is a security fix.

There was, at the time of writing, no CVE numbers.

Petter Reinholdtsen: How to stay with sysvinit in Debian Jessie [Planet Debian]

By now, it is well known that Debian Jessie will not be using sysvinit as its boot system by default. But how can one keep using sysvinit in Jessie? It is fairly easy, and here are a few recipes, courtesy of Erich Schubert and Simon McVittie.

If you already are using Wheezy and want to upgrade to Jessie and keep sysvinit as your boot system, create a file /etc/apt/preferences.d/use-sysvinit with this content before you upgrade:

Package: systemd-sysv
Pin: release o=Debian
Pin-Priority: -1

This file content will tell apt and aptitude to not consider installing systemd-sysv as part of any installation and upgrade solution when resolving dependencies, and thus tell it to avoid systemd as a default boot system. The end result should be that the upgraded system keep using sysvinit.

If you are installing Jessie for the first time, there is no way to get sysvinit installed by default (debootstrap used by debian-installer have no option for this), but one can tell the installer to switch to sysvinit before the first boot. Either by using a kernel argument to the installer, or by adding a line to the preseed file used. First, the kernel command line argument:

preseed/late_command="in-target apt-get install -y sysvinit-core"

Next, the line to use in a preseed file:

d-i preseed/late_command string in-target apt-get install -y sysvinit-core

One can of course also do this after the first boot by installing the sysvinit-core package.

I recommend only using sysvinit if you really need it, as the sysvinit boot sequence in Debian have several hardware specific bugs on Linux caused by the fact that it is unpredictable when hardware devices show up during boot. But on the other hand, the new default boot system still have a few rough edges I hope will be fixed before Jessie is released.

Joey Hess: propelling containers [Planet Debian]

Propellor has supported docker containers for a "long" time, and it works great. This week I've worked on adding more container support.

docker containers (revisited)

The syntax for docker containers has changed slightly. Here's how it looks now:

example :: Host
example = host "example.com"
    & Docker.docked webserverContainer

webserverContainer :: Docker.Container
webserverContainer = Docker.container "webserver" "joeyh/debian-stable"
    & os (System (Debian (Stable "wheezy")) "amd64")
    & Docker.publish "80:80"
    & Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "apache2"
    & alias "www.example.com"

That makes example.com have a web server in a docker container, as you'd expect, and when propellor is used to deploy the DNS server it'll automatically make www.example.com point to the host (or hosts!) where this container is docked.

I use docker a lot, but I have drank little of the Docker KoolAid. I'm not keen on using random blobs created by random third parties using either unreproducible methods, or the weirdly underpowered dockerfiles. (As for vast complicated collections of containers that each run one program and talk to one another etc ... I'll wait and see.)

That's why propellor runs inside the docker container and deploys whatever configuration I tell it to, in a way that's both replicatable later and lets me use the full power of Haskell.

Which turns out to be useful when moving on from docker containers to something else...

systemd-nspawn containers

Propellor now supports containers using systemd-nspawn. It looks a lot like the docker example.

example :: Host
example = host "example.com"
    & Systemd.persistentJournal
    & Systemd.nspawned webserverContainer

webserverContainer :: Systemd.Container
webserverContainer = Systemd.container "webserver" chroot
    & Apt.serviceInstalledRunning "apache2"
    & alias "www.example.com"
    chroot = Chroot.debootstrapped (System (Debian Unstable) "amd64") Debootstrap.MinBase

Notice how I specified the Debian Unstable chroot that forms the basis of this container. Propellor sets up the container by running debootstrap, boots it up using systemd-nspawn, and then runs inside the container to provision it.

Unlike docker containers, systemd-nspawn containers use systemd as their init, and it all integrates rather beautifully. You can see the container listed in systemctl status, including the services running inside it, use journalctl to examine its logs, etc.

But no, systemd is the devil, and docker is too trendy...


Propellor now also supports deploying good old chroots. It looks a lot like the other containers. Rather than repeat myself a third time, and because we don't really run webservers inside chroots much, here's a slightly different example.

example :: Host
example = host "mylaptop"
    & Chroot.provisioned (buildDepChroot "git-annex")

buildDepChroot :: Apt.Package -> Chroot.Chroot
buildDepChroot pkg = Chroot.debootstrapped system Debootstrap.buildd dir
    & Apt.buildDep pkg
    dir = /srv/chroot/builddep/"++pkg
   system = System (Debian Unstable) "amd64"

Again this uses debootstrap to build the chroot, and then it runs propellor inside the chroot to provision it (btw without bothering to install propellor there, thanks to the magic of bind mounts and completely linux distribution-independent packaging).

In fact, the systemd-nspawn container code reuses the chroot code, and so turns out to be really rather simple. 132 lines for the chroot support, and 167 lines for the systemd support (which goes somewhat beyond the nspawn containers shown above).

Which leads to the hardest part of all this...


Making a propellor property for debootstrap should be easy. And it was, for Debian systems. However, I have crazy plans that involve running propellor on non-Debian systems, to debootstrap something, and installing debootstrap on an arbitrary linux system is ... too hard.

In the end, I needed 253 lines of code to do it, which is barely one magnitude less code than the size of debootstrap itself. I won't go into the ugly details, but this could be made a lot easier if debootstrap catered more to being used outside of Debian.


Docker and systemd-nspawn have different strengths and weaknesses, and there are sure to be more container systems to come. I'm pleased that Propellor can add support for a new container system in a few hundred lines of code, and that it abstracts away all the unimportant differences between these systems.


Seems likely that systemd-nspawn containers can be nested to any depth. So, here's a new kind of fork bomb!

infinitelyNestedContainer :: Systemd.Container
infinitelyNestedContainer = Systemd.container "evil-systemd"
    (Chroot.debootstrapped (System (Debian Unstable) "amd64") Debootstrap.MinBase)
    & Systemd.nspawned infinitelyNestedContainer

Strongly typed purely functional container deployment can only protect us against a certian subset of all badly thought out systems. ;)

Niels Thykier: Release Team unblock queue flushed [Planet Debian]

At the start of this week, I wrote that we had 58 open unblock requests open (of which 25 were tagged moreinfo).  Thanks to an extra effort from the Release Team, we now down to 25 open unblocks – of which 18 are tagged moreinfo.

We have now resolved 442 unblock requests (out of a total of 467).  The rate has also declined to an average of ~18 new unblock requests a day (over 26 days) and our closing rated increased to ~17.

With all of this awesomeness, some of us are now more than ready to have a well-deserved weekend to recharge our batteries.  Meanwhile, feel free to keep the RC bug fixes flowing into unstable.

Richard Hartmann: Release Critical Bug report for Week 47 [Planet Debian]

There's a BSP this weekend. If you're interested in remote participation, please join #debian-muc on irc.oftc.net.

The UDD bugs interface currently knows about the following release critical bugs:

  • In Total: 1213 (Including 210 bugs affecting key packages)
    • Affecting Jessie: 342 (key packages: 152) That's the number we need to get down to zero before the release. They can be split in two big categories:
      • Affecting Jessie and unstable: 260 (key packages: 119) Those need someone to find a fix, or to finish the work to upload a fix to unstable:
        • 37 bugs are tagged 'patch'. (key packages: 20) Please help by reviewing the patches, and (if you are a DD) by uploading them.
        • 12 bugs are marked as done, but still affect unstable. (key packages: 3) This can happen due to missing builds on some architectures, for example. Help investigate!
        • 211 bugs are neither tagged patch, nor marked done. (key packages: 96) Help make a first step towards resolution!
      • Affecting Jessie only: 82 (key packages: 33) Those are already fixed in unstable, but the fix still needs to migrate to Jessie. You can help by submitting unblock requests for fixed packages, by investigating why packages do not migrate, or by reviewing submitted unblock requests.
        • 65 bugs are in packages that are unblocked by the release team. (key packages: 26)
        • 17 bugs are in packages that are not unblocked. (key packages: 7)

How do we compare to the Squeeze release cycle?

Week Squeeze Wheezy Jessie
43 284 (213+71) 468 (332+136) 319 (240+79)
44 261 (201+60) 408 (265+143) 274 (224+50)
45 261 (205+56) 425 (291+134) 295 (229+66)
46 271 (200+71) 401 (258+143) 427 (313+114)
47 283 (209+74) 366 (221+145) 342 (260+82)
48 256 (177+79) 378 (230+148)
49 256 (180+76) 360 (216+155)
50 204 (148+56) 339 (195+144)
51 178 (124+54) 323 (190+133)
52 115 (78+37) 289 (190+99)
1 93 (60+33) 287 (171+116)
2 82 (46+36) 271 (162+109)
3 25 (15+10) 249 (165+84)
4 14 (8+6) 244 (176+68)
5 2 (0+2) 224 (132+92)
6 release! 212 (129+83)
7 release+1 194 (128+66)
8 release+2 206 (144+62)
9 release+3 174 (105+69)
10 release+4 120 (72+48)
11 release+5 115 (74+41)
12 release+6 93 (47+46)
13 release+7 50 (24+26)
14 release+8 51 (32+19)
15 release+9 39 (32+7)
16 release+10 20 (12+8)
17 release+11 24 (19+5)
18 release+12 2 (2+0)

Graphical overview of bug stats thanks to azhag:

Neil McGovern: Barbie the Debian Developer [Planet Debian]

Some people may have seen recently that the Barbie series has a rather sexist book out about Barbie the Computer Engineer. Fortunately, there’s a way to improve this by making your own version.

Thus, I made a short version about Barbie the Debian Developer and init system packager.

(For those who don’t know me, this is satirical. Any resemblance to people is purely coincidental.)

Edit: added text in alt tags. Also, hai reddit!

One day, Debian Developer Barbie decided to package and upload a new init system to Debian, called 'systemd'. I hope everyone else will find it useful, she thought.Oh no says Skipper! You'll never take my init system away from me! It's horrendous and Not The Unix Way! Oh dear said Barbie, What have I let myself in to?Skipper was most upset, and decided that this would not do. It's off to the technical committee with this. They'll surely see sense.Oh no! What's this? The internet decided that the Technical Committee needed to also know everyone's individual views! Bad Internet!There was much discussion and consideration. Opinions were reviewed, rows were had, and months passed. Eventually, a decision was agreed upon.Barbie was successful! The will of the Technical Committee was that systemd would be the default! But wait...Skipper still wasn't happy. We need to make sure this never affects me! I'm going to call for a General Resolution!And so, Ms Devotee was called in to look at the various options. She said that the arguments must stop, and we should all accept the result of the general resolution.The numbers turned and the vote was out. We should simply be most excellent to each other said Ms Devotee. I'm not going to tell you what you should or should not do.Over the next year, the project was able to heal itself and eventually Barbie and Skipper decided to make amends. Now let's work at making Debian better!

Luc Verhaegen: PowerVR SGX code leaked. [Planet openSUSE]

So someone leaked 2011 era PowerVR SGX microcode and user space... And now everyone is pissing themselves like a bunch of overexcited puppies...

I've been fed links from several sides now, and i cannot believe how short-sighted and irresponsible people are, including a few people who should know better.


Having gotten that out of the way, I am writing this blog to put everyone straight and stop the nonsense, and to calmly explain why this leak is not a good thing.

Before i go any further, IANAL, but i clearly do seem to tread much more carefully on these issues than most. As always, feel free to debunk what i write here in the comments, especially you actual lawyers, especially those lawyers in the .EU.

LIBV and the PVR.

Let me just, once again, state my position towards the PowerVR.

I have worked on the Nokia N9, primarily on the SGX kernel side (which is of course GPLed), but i also touched both the microcode and userspace. So I have seen the code, worked with and i am very much burned on it. Unless IMG itself gives me permission to do so, i am not allowed to contribute to any open source driver for the PowerVR. I personally also include the RGX, and not just SGX, in that list, as i believe that some things do remain the same. The same is true for Rob Clark, who worked with PowerVR when at Texas Instruments.

This is, however, not why i try to keep people from REing the PowerVR.

The reason why i tell people to stay away is because of the design of the PowerVR and its driver stack: PVR is heavily microcode driven, and this microcode is loaded through the kernel from userspace. The microcode communicates directly with the kernel through some shared structs, which change depending on build options. There are sometimes extensive changes to both the microcode, kernel and userspace code depending on the revision of the SGX, customer project and build options, and sometimes the whole stack is affected, from microcode to userspace. This makes the powervr a very unstable platform: change one component, and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. A nightmare for system integrators, but also bad news for people looking to provide a free driver for this platform. As if the murderous release cycle of mobile hardware wasn't bad enough of a moving target already.

The logic behind me attempting to keep people away from REing the PowerVR is, at one end, the attempt to focus the available decent developers on more rewarding GPUs and to keep people from burning out on something as shaky as the PowerVR. On the other hand, by getting everyone working on the other GPUs, we are slowly forcing the whole market open, singling out Imagination Technologies. At one point, IMG will be forced to either do this work itself, and/or to directly support open sourcing themselves, or to remain the black sheep forever.

None of the above means that I am against an open source driver for PVR, quite the opposite, I just find it more productive to work on the other GPUs amd wait this one out.

Given their bad reputation with system integrators, their shaky driver/microcode design, and the fact that they are in a cut throat competition with ARM, Imagination Technologies actually has the most to gain from an open source driver. It would at least take some of the pain out of that shaky microcode/kernel/userspace combination, and make a lot of peoples lives a lot easier.

This is not open source software.

Just because someone leaked this code, it has not magically become free software.

It is still just as proprietary as before. You cannot use this code in any open source project, or at all, the license on it applies just as strongly as before. If you download it, or distribute it, or whatever other actions forbidden in the license, you are just as accountable as the other parties in the chain.

So for all you kiddies who now think "Great, finally an open driver for PowerVR, let's go hack our way into celebrity", you couldn't be more wrong. At best, you just tainted yourself.

But the repercussion go further than that. The simple fact that this code has been leaked has cast a very dark shadow on any future open source project that might involve the powervr. So be glad that we have been pretty good at dissuading people from wasting their time on powervr, and that this leak didn't end up spoiling many man-years of work.

Why? Well, let's say that there was an advanced and active PowerVR reverse engineering project. Naturally, the contributors would not be able to look at the leaked code. But it goes further than that. Say that you are the project maintainer of such a reverse engineered driver, how do you deal with patches that come in from now on? Are you sure that they are not taken more or less directly from the leaked driver? How do you prove this?

Your fun project just turned from a relatively straightforward REing project to a project where patches absolutely need to be signed-off, and where you need to establish some severe trust into your contributors. That's going to slow you down massively.

But even if you can manage to keep your code clean, the stigma will remain. Even if lawyers do not get involved, you will spend a lot of time preparing yourself for such an eventuality. Not a fun position to be in.

The manpower issue.

I know that any clued and motivated individual can achieve anything. I also know that really clued people, who are dedicated and can work structuredly are extremely rare and that their time is unbelievably valuable.

With the exception of Rob, who is allowed to spend some of his redhat time on the freedreno driver, none of the people working on the open ARM GPU drivers have any support. Working on such a long haul project without support either limits the amount of time available for it, or severely reduces the living standard of the person doing so, or anywhere between those extremes. If you then factor in that there are only a handful of people working on a handful of drivers, you get individuals spending several man-years mostly on their own for themselves.

If you are wondering why ARM GPU drivers are not moving faster, then this is why. There are just a limited few clued individuals who are doing this, and they are on their own, and they have been at it for years by now. Think of that the next time you want to ask "Is it done yet?".

This is why I tried to keep people from REing the powerVR, what little talent and stamina there is can be better put to use on more straightforward GPUs. We have a hard enough time as it is already.

Less work? More work!

If you think that this leaked driver takes away much of the hard work of reverse engineering and makes writing an open source driver easy, you couldn't be more wrong.

This leak means that here is no other option left apart from doing a full clean room. And there need to be very visible and fully transparent processes in place in a case like this. Your one man memory dumper/bit-poker/driver writer just became at least two persons. One of them gets to spend his time ogling bad code (which proprietary code usually ends up being), trying to make sense of it, and then trying to write extensive documentation about it (without being able to test his findings much). The other gets to write code from that documentation, but also little more. Both sides are very much forbidden to go back and forth between those two positions.

As if we ARM GPU driver developers didn't have enough frustration to deal with, and the PVR stack isn't bad enough already, the whole situation just got much much worse.

So for all those who think that now the floodgates are open for PowerVR, don't hold your breath. And to those who now suddenly want to create an open source driver for the powervr, i ask: you and what army?

For all those who are rinsing out their shoes ask yourself how many unsupported man-years you will honestly be able to dedicate to this, and whether there will be enough individuals who can honestly claim the same. Then pick your boring task, and then stick to it. Forever. And hope that the others also stick to their side of this bargain.

LOL, http://goo.gl/kbBEPX

What have we come to?

The leaked source code of a proprietary graphics driver is not something you should be spreading amongst your friends for "Lolz", especially not amongst your open source graphics driver developing friends.

I personally am not too bothered about the actual content of this one, the link names were clear about what it was, and I had seen it before. I was burned before, so i quickly delved in to verify that this was indeed SGX userspace. In some cases, with the links being posted publicly, i then quickly moved on to dissuade people from looking at it, for what limited success that could have had.

But what would i have done if this were Mali code, and the content was not clear from the link name? I got lucky here.

I am horrified about the lack of responsibility of a lot of people. These are not some cat pictures, or some nude celebrities. This is code that forbids people from writing graphics drivers.

But even if you haven't looked at this code yet, most of the damage has been done. A reverse engineered driver for powervr SGX will now probably never happen. Heck, i just got told that someone even went and posted the links to the powerVR REing mailinglist (which luckily has never seen much traffic). I wonder how that went:
Are you the guys doing the open source driver for PowerVR SGX?
I have some proprietary code here that could help you speed things along.
Good luck!

So for the person who put this up on github: thank you so much. I hope that you at least didn't use your real name. I cannot imagine that any employer would want to hire anyone who acts this irresponsibly. Your inability to read licenses means that you cannot be trusted with either proprietary code or open source code, as you seem unable to distinguish between them. Well done.

The real culprit is of course LG, for crazily sticking the GPL on this. But because one party "accidentally" sticks a GPL on that doesn't make it GPL, and that doesn't suddenly give you the right to repeat the mistake.

Last months ISA release.

And now for something slightly different...

Just over a month ago, there was the announcement about Imagination Technologies' new SDK. Supposedly, at least according to the phoronix article, Imagination Technologies made the ISA (instruction set architecture) of the RGX available in it.

This was not true.

What was released was the assembly language for the PowerVR shaders, which then needs to be assembled by the IMG RGX assembler to provide the actual shader binaries. This is definitely not the ISA, and I do not know whether it was Alexandru Voica (an Imagination marketing guy who suddenly became active on the phoronix forums, and who i believe to be the originator of this story) or the author of the article on Phoronix who made this error. I do not think that this was bad intent though, just that something got lost in translation.

The release of the assembly language is very nice though. It makes it relatively straightforward to match the assembly to the machine code, and takes away most of the pain of ISA REing.

Despite the botched message, this was a big step forwards for ARM GPU makers; Imagination delivered what its customers need (in this case, the ability to manually tune some shaders), and in the process it also made it easier for potential REers to create an open source driver.

Looking forward.

Between the leak, the assembly release, and the market position Imagination Technologies is in, things are looking up though.

Whereas the leak made a credible open source reverse engineering project horribly impractical and very unlikely, it did remove some of the incentive for IMG to not support an open source project themselves. I doubt that IMG will now try to bullshit us with the inane patent excuse. The (not too credible) potential damage has been done here already now.

With the assembly language release, a lot of the inner workings and the optimization of the RGX shaders was also made public. So there too the barrier has disappeared.

Given the structure of the IMG graphics driver stack, system integrators have a limited level of satisfaction with IMG. I really doubt that this has improved too much since my Nokia days. Going open source now, by actively supporting some clued open source developers and by providing extensive NDA-free documentation, should not pose much of a legal or political challenge anymore, and could massively improve the perception of Imagination Technologies, and their hardware.

So go for it, IMG. No-one else is going to do this for you, and you can only gain from it!

Jonathan Riddell: Blog Moved [Planet Ubuntu]

KDE Project:

I've moved my developer blog to my vanity domain jriddell.org, which has hosted my personal blog since 1999 (before the word existed). Tags used are Planet KDE and Planet Ubuntu for the developer feeds.

Sorry no DCOP news on jriddell.org.

Rafael Carreras: Release party in Barcelona [Planet Ubuntu]


Another time, and there has been 16, ubuntaires celebrated the release party of the next Ubuntu version, in this case, 14.10 Utopic Unicorn.

This time, we went to Barcelona, at Raval, at the very centre, thanks to our friends of the TEB.

As always, we started with explaining what Ubuntu is and how our Catalan LoCo Team works and later Núria Alonso from the TEB explained the Ubuntu migration done at the Xarxa Òmnia.


The installations room was plenty from the very first moment.


There also was a very profitable auto-learning workshop on how to do an Ubuntu metadistribution.



And in another room, there were two Arduino workshops.



And, of course, ubuntaires love to eat well.


15615259540_76daed408b_z 15614277959_c98bda1d33_z


Pictures by Martina Mayrhofer and Walter García, all rights reserved.


Jonathan Riddell: Blog Move, Bug Squashing Party in Munich [Planet Ubuntu]

Welcome to my blog on the updated jriddell.org, now featuring my personal blog (which has existed for about 15 years or at least before the word blog existed) together with my developer blog previously on blogs.kde.org.

I’m at the Bug Squashing Party in Munich, the home of KDE and Plasma and Kubuntu rollouts in the public sector. There’s a bunch of Kubuntu people here too as well as folks from Debian, KDE PIM and LibreOffice.

So far Christian and Aaron (yes that Aaron) have presented their idea for re-writing Akonadi.

And I’ve sat down with the guys from LibreOffice and worked out why Qt4 themeing isn’t working under Plasma 5, I’m about to submit my first bugfix to Libreoffice! Next step Breeze icon theme then Qt 5 support, scary.

IMG 20141121 224006 Kubuntu People
IMG 20141121 225014 It can only be Harald
IMG 20141121 172556Akonadi: Lots of Bad
IMG 20141121 172609 Let’s re-write Akonadi!

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Valorie Zimmerman: The Community Working Group needs you? [Planet Ubuntu]

Hi folks,

Our Community Working Group has dwindled a bit, and some of our members have work that keeps them away from doing CWG work. So it is time to put out another call for volunteers.

The KDE community is growing, which is wonderful. In spite of that growth, we have less "police" type work to do these days. This leaves us more time to make positive efforts to keep the community healthy, and foster dialog and creativity within our teams.

One thing I've noticed is that listowners, IRC channel operators and forum moderators are doing an excellent job of keeping our communication channels friendly, welcoming and all-around helpful. Each of these leadership roles is crucial to keeping the community healthy.

Also, the effort to create the KDE Manifesto has adjusted KDE infrastructure to be directly and consciously supporting community values. The commitments section is particularly helpful.

Please write us at Community-wg@kde.org if you would like to become a part of our community gardening work.

Bryan Quigley: Would you crowdfund a $500 Ubuntu “open to the core” laptop? [Planet Ubuntu]

With Jolla have success with crowdfunding a tablet, it’s a good time to see if we can’t get some mid-range Ubuntu laptops for sale to consumers in the US.  I’d like to get some idea if there is enough demand for a very open $500 Ubuntu laptop.

Would you crowdfund this? (Core Goals)

  • 15″ 1080p Matte Screen
  • 720p Webcam with microphone
  • Spill-resistant and nice to type on keyboard
  • Intel i3+ or AMD A6+
  • Built-in Intel or AMD graphics with no proprietary firmware at all
  • 4 GB Ram
  • 128 GB SSD (this would be the one component that might have proprietary as I’m not aware of another option here)
  • Ethernet 10/100/1000
  • Wireless up to N
  • HDMI
  • SD card reader
  • CoreBoot (No proprietary BIOS)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 preloaded of course
  • Agreement with manufacturer to continue selling this laptop (or similar one) with Ubuntu preloaded to consumers in the US for at least 3 years.

Stretch Goals? Or should they be core goals?

Will only be added if they don’t push the cost up significantly (or if everyone really wants them) and can be done with 100% open source software/firmware.

  • Touchscreen
  • Convertible to Tablet
  • GPS
  • FM Tuner (and built-in antenna)
  • Digital TV Tuner (and built-in antenna)
  • Ruggedized
  • Direct sunlight readable screen
  • “Frontlight” tech.  (think Amazon PaperWhite)
  • Bluetooth
  • Backlit keyboard
  • USB Power Adapter

Take my quick survey if you want to see this happen.  If I get at least 1000 Yes’s I’ll approach manufacturers.   The first version might just end up being a Chromebook modified with better specs, but I think that would be fine.  Let’s get Ubuntu on mid-range consumer devices in the US!

Link to survey – http://goo.gl/forms/bwmBf92O1d


Joe Liau: Documenting the Death of the Dumb Telephone – Part 5: Touch-heavy [Planet Ubuntu]


"U can't touch this" Source

“U can’t touch this”[4] Source

“Touch-a touch-a touch-a touch me. I wanna be dirty.”[1] — Love, Your Dumb Phone

It’s not a problem with a dirty touch screen; that would be a stretch for an entire post. It’s a problem with the dirty power[2]: perhaps an even farther stretch. But, “I’m cold on a mission, so pull on back,”[4] and stretch yourself for a moment because your phone won’t stretch for you.

We’re constantly trying to stretch the battery life of our phones, but the phones keep demanding to be touched, which drains the battery. Phones have this “dirty power” over us, but maybe there are also some “spikes” in the power management of these dumb devices. The greatest feature is also the greatest flaw in the device. It is the fact that it has to be touched in order to react. Does it even react in the most effective way? What indication is there to let you know how the phone has been touched? Do the phone reduce the amount of touches in order so save battery power? If it is not smart enough to do so, then maybe it shouldn’t have a touch screen at all!

Auto-brightness. “Can’t touch this.”[4]
Lock screen. “Can’t touch this.”[4]
Phone clock. “Can’t touch this.”[4]

Yes, your phone has these things, but they never seem to work at the right time. Never mind that I have to turn on the screen to check the time. These things currently seem to follow one set of rules instead of knowing when to activate. So when you “move slide your rump,”[4] you still end up with the infamous butt dial, and the “Dammit, Janet![1] My battery is about to die” situation.

There are already developments in these areas, which indicate that the dumb phone is truly on its last legs. “So wave your hands in the air.”[4] But, seriously, let’s reduce the number of touches, “get your face off the screen”[3] and live your life.

“Stop. Hammer time!”[4]


[1] Song by Richard O’Brien
[2] Fartbarf is fun.
[3] Randall RossCommunity Leadership Summit 2014
[4] Excessively touched on “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer

Elizabeth K. Joseph: My Vivid Vervet has crazy hair [Planet Ubuntu]

Keeping with my Ubuntu toy tradition, I placed an order for a vervet stuffed toy, available in the US via: Miguel the Vervet Monkey.

He arrived today!

He’ll be coming along to his first Ubuntu event on December 10th, a San Francisco Ubuntu Hour.

Sam Hewitt: The Year of the Linux Desktop [Schism] [Planet Ubuntu]

The phrase "The Year of the Linux Desktop" is one we see being used by hopefuls, to describe a future in which desktop Linux has reached the masses.

But I'm more pragmatic, and would like to describe the past and tweak this phrase to (I believe) accurately surmise 2011 as "The Year of the Linux Desktop Schism".

So let me tell you a little story of about this schism.

A Long Time Ago in 2011

The Linux desktop user base was happily enjoying the status quo. We had (arguably) two major desktops: GNOME and KDE , with a few smaller, less popular or used desktops as well (mostly named with initialisms).

It was the heyday of GNOME 2 on the desktop, being the default desktop used in many of the major distributions. But bubbling out of the ether of the GNOME Project was this idea for a new shell and a overhaul of GNOME, so GNOME 2 was brought to a close and GNOME Shell was born as the future of GNOME.

The Age of Dissent, Madness & Innovation

GNOME 3 and its new Shell did not sit well with everyone and many in the great blogosphere saw it as disastrous for GNOME and for users.

Much criticism was spouted and controversy raised and many started searching for alternatives. But there were those who stood by their faithful project and seeing the new version for what it was: a new beginning for GNOME and they knew that beginnings are not perfect.

Nevertheless, with this massive split in the desktop market we saw much change. There came a rapid flurry of several new projects and a moonshot from one for human beings.

The Ubuntu upgraded their fledging "netbook interface" and promoted it to the desktop, calling it Unity and it was took off down a path to unite the desktop with other emerging platforms yet to come.

There was also much dissatisfaction with the abandonment of GNOME 2, and the community they decided to lower their figurative pitchforks and use them to do some literal forking. They took up the remenants of this legacy desktop and used it to forge a new project. This project was to be named MATE and was to continue in the original spirit of GNOME 2.

The Linux Mint team, unsure of their future with GNOME under the Shell created the "Mint GNOME Shell Linux Mint Extension Pack of Extensions for GNOME Shell". This addon to the new GNOME experience would eventually lead to the creation Cinnamon, which itself was a fork of GNOME 3.

Despite being a relatively new arrival, the ambitious elementary and its team was developing the Pantheon desktop in relative secrecy for use in future versions of their OS, having previously relied on a slimmed-down GNOME 2. They were to become one of the most polished of them all.

And they all live happily ever since.

The end.

The Moral of the Story

All of these projects have been thriving in these 3 years hence, and why? Because of their communities.

All that has occurred is what the Linux community is and it is exemplary of the freedom that it and the whole of open source represents. We have the freedom in open source to exact our own change or act upon what may not agree with. We are not confined to a set of strictures, we are able to do what we feel is right and find other people who do as well.

To deride and belittle others for acting in their freedom or because they may not agree with you is just wrong and not keeping with the ethos of our community.

Matt Bruzek: Writing tests for charms (is not that hard) [Planet Ubuntu]

To ensure quality of the Juju charm store there are automatic processes that test charms on multiple cloud environments. These automated tests help identify the charms that need to be fixed. This has become so useful that charm tests are a requirement to become a recommended charm in the charm store for the trusty release.

What are the goals of charm testing?

For Juju to be magic, the charms must always deploy, scale and relate as they were designed. The Juju charm store contains over 200 charms and those charms can be deployed to more than 10 different cloud environments. That is a lot of environments to ensure charms work, which is why tests are now required!


The Juju ecosystem team has created different tools to make writing tests easier. The charm-tools package has code that generates tests for charms. Amulet is a python 3 library that makes it easier to programatically work with units and whole deployments. To get started writing tests you will need to install charm-tools and amulet packages:

sudo add-apt repository -y ppa:juju/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y charm-tools amulet

Now that the tools are installed, change directory to the charm directory and run the following command:

juju charm add tests

This command generates two executable files 00-setup and 99-autogen into the tests directory. The test are prefixed with a number so they are run in the correct lexicographical order.


The first file is a bash script that adds the Juju PPA repository, updates the package list, and installs the amulet package so the next tests can use the Amulet library.


This file contains python 3 code that uses the Amulet library. The class extends a unittest class that is a standard unit testing framework for python. The charm tool test generator creates a skeleton test that deploys related charms and adds relations, so most of the work done already.

This automated test is almost never a good enough test on its own. Ideal tests do a number of things:

  1. Deploy the charm and make sure it deploys successfully (no hook errors)
  2. Verify the service is running as expected on the remote unit (sudo service apache2 status).
  3. Change configuration values to verify users can set different values and the changes are reflected in the resulting unit.
  4. Scale up. If the charm handles the peer relation make sure it works with multiple units.
  5. Validate the relationships to make sure the charm works with other related charms.

Most charms will need additional lines of code in the 99-autogen file to verify the service is running as expected. For example if your charm implements the http interface you can use the python 3 requests package to verify a valid webpage (or API) is responding.

def test_website(self):  
    unit = self.deployment.sentry.unit['<charm-name>/0']
    url = 'http://%s' % unit['public-address']
    response = requests.get(url)
    # Raise an exception if the url was not a valid web page.

What if I don't know python?

Charm tests can be written in languages other than python. The automated test program called bundletester will run the test target in a Makefile if one exists. Including a 'test' target would allow a charm author to build and run tests from the Makefile.

Bundletester will run any executable files in the tests directory of a charm. There are example tests written in bash in the Juju documentation. A test fails if the executable returns a value other than zero.

Where can I get more information about writing charm tests?

There are several videos on youtube.com about charm testing:
Charm testing video
Documentation on charm testing can be found here:
* https://juju.ubuntu.com/docs/authors-testing.html
Documentation on Amulet:
* https://juju.ubuntu.com/docs/tools-amulet.html
Check out the lamp charm as an example of multiple amulet tests:
* http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~charmers/charms/precise/lamp/trunk/files

Duncan McGreggor: ErlPort: Using Python from Erlang/LFE [Planet Ubuntu]

This is a short little blog post I've been wanting to get out there ever since I ran across the erlport project a few years ago. Erlang was built for fault-tolerance. It had a goal of unprecedented uptimes, and these have been achieved. It powers 40% of our world's telecommunications traffic. It's capable of supporting amazing levels of concurrency (remember the 2007 announcement about the performance of YAWS vs. Apache?).

With this knowledge in mind, a common mistake by folks new to Erlang is to think these performance characteristics will be applicable to their own particular domain. This has often resulted in failure, disappointment, and the unjust blaming of Erlang. If you want to process huge files, do lots of string manipulation, or crunch tons of numbers, Erlang's not your bag, baby. Try Python or Julia.

But then, you may be thinking: I like supervision trees. I have long-running processes that I want to be managed per the rules I establish. I want to run lots of jobs in parallel on my 64-core box. I want to run jobs in parallel over the network on 64 of my 64-core boxes. Python's the right tool for the jobs, but I wish I could manage them with Erlang.

(There are sooo many other options for the use cases above, many of them really excellent. But this post is about Erlang/LFE :-)).

Traditionally, if you want to run other languages with Erlang in a reliable way that doesn't bring your Erlang nodes down with badly behaved code, you use Ports. (more info is available in the Interoperability Guide). This is what JInterface builds upon (and, incidentally, allows for some pretty cool integration with Clojure). However, this still leaves a pretty significant burden for the Python or Ruby developer for any serious application needs (quick one-offs that only use one or two data types are not that big a deal).

erlport was created by Dmitry Vasiliev in 2009 in an effort to solve just this problem, making it easier to use of and integrate between Erlang and more common languages like Python and Ruby. The project is maintained, and in fact has just received a few updates. Below, we'll demonstrate some usage in LFE with Python 3.

If you want to follow along, there's a demo repo you can check out:
Change into the repo directory and set up your Python environment:
Next, switch over to the LFE directory, and fire up a REPL:
Note that this will first download the necessary dependencies and compile them (that's what the [snip] is eliding).

Now we're ready to take erlport for a quick trip down to the local:
And that's all there is to it :-)

Perhaps in a future post we can dive into the internals, showing you more of the glory that is erlport. Even better, we could look at more compelling example usage, approaching some of the functionality offered by such projects as Disco or Anaconda.

Nicholas Skaggs: Virtual Hugs of appreciation! [Planet Ubuntu]

Because I was asleep at the wheel (err, keyboard) yesterday I failed to express my appreciation for some folks. It's a day for hugging! And I missed it!

I gave everyone a shoutout on social media, but since planet looks best overrun with thank you posts, I shall blog it as well!

Thank you to:

David Planella for being the rock that has anchored the team.
Leo Arias for being super awesome and making testing what it is today on all the core apps.
Carla Sella for working tirelessly on many many different things in the years I've known her. She never gives up (even when I've tried too!), and has many successes to her name for that reason.
Nekhelesh Ramananthan for always being willing to let clock app be the guinea pig
Elfy, for rocking the manual tests project. Seriously awesome work. Everytime you use the tracker, just know elfy has been a part of making that testcase happen.
Jean-Baptiste Lallement and Martin Pitt for making some of my many wishes come true over the years with quality community efforts. Autopkgtest is but one of these.

And many more. Plus some I've forgotten. I can't give hugs to everyone, but I'm willing to try!

To everyone in the ubuntu community, thanks for making ubuntu the wonderful community it is!

Duncan McGreggor: The Secret History of Lambda [Planet Ubuntu]

Being a bit of an origins nut (I always want to know how something came to be or why it is a certain way), one of the things that always bothered me with regard to Lisp was that no one seemed to talking about the origin of lambda in the lambda calculus. I suppose if I wasn't lazy, I'd have gone to a library and spent some time looking it up. But since I was lazy, I used Wikipedia. Sadly, I never got what I wanted: no history of lambda. [1] Well, certainly some information about the history of the lambda calculus, but not the actual character or term in that context.

Why lambda? Why not gamma or delta? Or Siddham ṇḍha?

To my great relief, this question was finally answered when I was reading one of the best Lisp books I've ever read: Peter Norvig's Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp. I'll save my discussion of that book for later; right now I'm going to focus on the paragraph at location 821 of my Kindle edition of the book. [2]

The story goes something like this:
  • Between 1910 and 1913, Alfred Whitehead and Bertrand Russell published three volumes of their Principia Mathematica, a work whose purpose was to derive all of mathematics from basic principles in logic. In these tomes, they cover two types of functions: the familiar descriptive functions (defined using relations), and then propositional functions. [3]
  • Within the context of propositional functions, the authors make a typographical distinction between free variables and bound variables or functions that have an actual name: bound variables use circumflex notation, e.g. x̂(x+x). [4]
  • Around 1928, Church (and then later, with his grad students Stephen Kleene and J. B. Rosser) started attempting to improve upon Russell and Whitehead regarding a foundation for logic. [5]
  • Reportedly, Church stated that the use of  in the Principia was for class abstractions, and he needed to distinguish that from function abstractions, so he used x [6] or ^x [7] for the latter.
  • However, these proved to be awkward for different reasons, and an uppercase lambda was used: Λx. [8].
  • More awkwardness followed, as this was too easily confused with other symbols (perhaps uppercase delta? logical and?). Therefore, he substituted the lowercase λ. [9]
  • John McCarthy was a student of Alonzo Church and, as such, had inherited Church's notation for functions. When McCarthy invented Lisp in the late 1950s, he used the lambda notation for creating functions, though unlike Church, he spelled it out. [10] 
It seems that our beloved lambda [11], then, is an accident in typography more than anything else.

Somehow, this endears lambda to me even more ;-)

[1] As you can see from the rest of the footnotes, I've done some research since then and have found other references to this history of the lambda notation.

[2] Norvig, Peter (1991-10-15). Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp (Kindle Locations 821-829). Elsevier Science - A. Kindle Edition. The paragraph in question is quoted here:
The name lambda comes from the mathematician Alonzo Church’s notation for functions (Church 1941). Lisp usually prefers expressive names over terse Greek letters, but lambda is an exception. Abetter name would be make - function. Lambda derives from the notation in Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica, which used a caret over bound variables: x( x + x). Church wanted a one-dimensional string, so he moved the caret in front: ^ x( x + x). The caret looked funny with nothing below it, so Church switched to the closest thing, an uppercase lambda, Λx( x + x). The Λ was easily confused with other symbols, so eventually the lowercase lambda was substituted: λx( x + x). John McCarthy was a student of Church’s at Princeton, so when McCarthy invented Lisp in 1958, he adopted the lambda notation. There were no Greek letters on the keypunches of that era, so McCarthy used (lambda (x) (+ xx)), and it has survived to this day.
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pm-notation/#4

[4] Norvig, 1991, Location 821.

[5] History of Lambda-calculus and Combinatory Logic, page 7.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Norvig, 1991, Location 821.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Looking at Church's works online, he uses lambda notation in his 1932 paper A Set of Postulates for the Foundation of Logic. His preceding papers upon which the seminal 1932 is based On the Law of Excluded Middle (1928) and Alternatives to Zermelo's Assumption (1927), make no reference to lambda notation. As such, A Set of Postulates for the Foundation of Logic seems to be his first paper that references lambda.

[10] Norvig indicates that this is simply due to the limitations of the keypunches in the 1950s that did not have keys for Greek letters.

[11] Alex Martelli is not a fan of lambda in the context of Python, and though a good friend of Peter Norvig, I've heard Alex refer to lambda as an abomination :-) So, perhaps not beloved for everyone. In fact, Peter Norvig himself wrote (see above) that a better name would have been make-function.

Sam Hewitt: Biscotti [Planet Ubuntu]

I'm not anyone's Nonna but I can still make good biscotti, which is something I enjoy with a nice espresso.

If you don't know what biscotti is, it's a sweet, Italian twice-baked cookie/biscuit ("biscotti" literally means twice cooked, so does "biscuit" for that matter) typically made with a strong spice, like cinnamon or anise, and with a nut/seed, typically almonds, in it.

There are a bunch of variations of biscotti, with different flavour combinations –like chocolate– but I don't like things to be too sweet so I keep it simple with a few flavours.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup whole or coarsely chopped almonds –toasted*, if you like.
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest –about as much as you would get from zesting half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 3/4 cups flour –you can cut this with 1/4 cup almond flour, if you like or have some.

*to toast the almonds (or any nut) simply heat a dry pan to quite hot & toss the nuts in, now while shaking to prevent burning, cook until they are fragrant.


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder
  2. Combine the sugar with the ground anise and lemon zest, then mash it into the butter –here, I deviate from tradition in the method.
  3. Add the eggs and mix those in.
  4. Add the egg-butter-sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and bring together into a smooth dough.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide in half.
  8. Moisten your hands with water and form each half into a long thin log –approx. 8x32x4 centimeters.
  9. Place each log apart from each other on a clean baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so.
  11. Cut** each log into 2 cm slices and arrange them on the baking sheet with the cut side face down/up.
  12. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
  13. Remove finished biscotti from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before eating.

**to get that angled cut like seen here, slice the biscotti log on a ~45 degree angle, what is typically called "slicing on a bias".

You’ve been forced to pick your ObamaCare plan, now good luck in keeping even that [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Because PR is much more important than your silly liberty

Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.

From the attached fact sheet:

Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the openenrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan.

(Fact sheet via Adrianna McIntyre; proposal first noted by Politico.)

States running their own exchanges could start doing this in 2016, and federal exchanges could start in 2017.

It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment, at least for those who pick that option. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year.

A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best. […]

[S]ince HHS decided over the summer to institute auto-renewal, and since the majority of Obamacare enrollees are expected to take no action and thus stay in their current plans, the reality is that under the current system a lot of enrollees are likely to see large premium hikes, just because they didn’t shop around for a new plan.

They only have the purest of motives, you know. Bless their hearts.

h/t PJ Tattler

Obama’s amnesty is like Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves … or something … [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

The spin ramps up …

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation provides the foundational precedent for President Obama’s executive order on immigrants in the country illegally. […]

Particulars in Obama’s proclamation may well be changed by Americans over time. But like Lincoln’s, its provisional and limited character will have a democracy-forcing effect — spurring officials and citizens to more actively engage in a constitutional dialogue.

Rather than refusing to follow the Constitution and “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” the president emphasizes that he will continue deportations, using all the budgetary resources Congress has provided. But those appropriations cover the annual removal of only 400,000 of the 11.3 million immigrants in the country illegally. Given this fact, Obama’s initiative has a constitutionally legitimate purpose: to prevent Homeland Security from wasting its scarce resources on breaking up innocent families when it could be targeting immigrants who deserve expeditious removal.

And here

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is drawing a parallel between President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and President Obama’s planned executive actions on immigration reform.

“Does the public know the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?” Pelosi asked at a news conference Thursday morning.

Looks like Leftists all got their White House talking points

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) this week said President Barack Obama’s pending plan to give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants will someday be seen as an historical action along the lines of the Emancipation Proclamation. […]

“One day there will be movies written about this episode in American history,” he said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “There will be a president who issues an executive order like the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed three to four million slaves with the signing of a pen.”

Because slaves – people sold out of Africa and who were actual pieces of property are exactly the same as people who came here of their own free will and will do anything to stay.

Exactly the same.

University of California — sick, sick, sick [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Not only is someone with an ISIS flag condemning America met with indifference – but the anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) comments that start almost immediately when the Israeli flag is displayed are alarming.

Also, it appears that smoking a cigarette is more threatening than the ISIS flag.

Also — the UC system enforcing ideological “purity” on whim and allegations as if it were run by Iranian Imams.

The Microaggression Farce

In November 2013, two dozen graduate students at the University of California at Los Angeles marched into an education class and announced a protest against its “hostile and unsafe climate for Scholars of Color.” The students had been victimized, they claimed, by racial “microaggression”—the hottest concept on campuses today, used to call out racism otherwise invisible to the naked eye. UCLA’s response to the sit-in was a travesty of justice. The education school sacrificed the reputation of a beloved and respected professor in order to placate a group of ignorant students making a specious charge of racism.

The pattern would repeat itself twice more at UCLA that fall: students would allege that they were victimized by racism, and the administration, rather than correcting the students’ misapprehension, penitently acceded to it. Colleges across the country behave no differently. As student claims of racial and gender mistreatment grow ever more unmoored from reality, campus grown-ups have abdicated their responsibility to cultivate an adult sense of perspective and common sense in their students. Instead, they are creating what tort law calls “eggshell plaintiffs”—preternaturally fragile individuals injured by the slightest collisions with life. The consequences will affect us for years to come.

kwmurphy: Happy Life Day from the whole Chewbacca family -... [Join me, won't we?]


Happy Life Day from the whole Chewbacca family - Chewy, Itchy, Lumpy, Malla, Drinky, Goopy, Hummus, DogsAssResembley And Bea.

And please enjoy our Riff of the Star Wars Holiday Special, on sale. 

If you have to look away during the Itchy scenes we completely understand.

'Dirty snowball' from space likely created Sudbury Basin: researcher [CBC | Technology News]

Sudbury rock samples

It’s been long believed the Sudbury Basin was shaped by an asteroid that hit the region more than a billion years ago, but a Laurentian University researcher now says it was likely a comet.

Living gobs of jelly multiplying in Canadian lakes [CBC | Technology News]

Holopedium lake

Jelly-covered creatures that look like tapioca are multiplying in many Canadian lakes, clogging up water pipes and potentially disrupting the food chain.

Canada pledges $300 million to Green Climate Fund [CBC | Technology News]

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq

Canada will contribute $300 million to the Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries address climate change.

Ontario, Quebec sign deals on electricity, climate change [CBC | Technology News]

Coulliard Wynne 20141121

The premiers of Ontario and Quebec signed a joint agreement to work together to share electricity and to advance their climate change agendas after a combined meeting of their cabinets today.

New RadioShack portable AM/FM/SW radio? [The SWLing Post]


SWLing Post reader, Paul, points out this RadioShack model 2000669 portable radio and asks, “Is this a new RadioShack shortwave radio?

Very good question! Though I haven’t been inside a RadioShack in a couple of months, I’ve never noticed this portable on their shelves. In fact, I don’t even recognize the form factor  as a re-badged Tecsun or Degen.

Has anyone purchased the model 2000669 from RadioShack?

Tecsun PL-660 price drop on Amazon [The SWLing Post]


My good buddy, Mike (K8RAT), has informed me that the price of the silver Tecsun PL-660 has dropped to $101.18 (shipped) via Amazon.com. As Mike comments, this is a great value.

Click here to view on Amazon.

November 22: Global 24 testing 9465 kHz [The SWLing Post]

global24-smallGlobal 24 writes:

0000 UTC on November 22  running for 24 hours we will be testing on 9465.  Let us know if you can hear it and how well you can hear it.

Please send eception reports to: qsls@global24radio.com

doomsdaypicnic: Rifftrax: At Your Fingertips: Play... [RiffTrax]


Rifftrax: At Your Fingertips: Play Clay (1970/2014)

As we all know, there’s nothing boys and girls enjoy more than time-consuming activities that involve flour, food colourings, leaving things in the fridge overnight, and closely following instructions. To that end, ACI films bring you At Your Fingertips: Play Clay, in which a number of understandably-depressed children concoct their own messy, sticky gunk and use it to form ghastly jewellery and barely-recognisable nightmare creatures.

Sublimate your own dark desire to palpate your own bodily waste solids now by going to Rifftrax, where this paean to joyless, robotic time-squandering is available for a mere $0.99. That’s no dollars and ninety-nine cents! So if someone asks you how many dollars it costs, you can say “none” and laugh in their faces because you have fooled them with a trick they will never understand.

doomsdaypicnic: Rifftrax: At Your Fingertips: Play... [RiffTrax]


Rifftrax: At Your Fingertips: Play Clay (1970/2014)

As we all know, there’s nothing boys and girls enjoy more than time-consuming activities that involve flour, food colourings, leaving things in the fridge overnight, and closely following instructions. To that end, ACI films bring you At Your Fingertips: Play Clay, in which a number of understandably-depressed children concoct their own messy, sticky gunk and use it to form ghastly jewellery and barely-recognisable nightmare creatures.

Sublimate your own dark desire to palpate your own bodily waste solids now by going to Rifftrax, where this paean to joyless, robotic time-squandering is available for a mere $0.99. That’s no dollars and ninety-nine cents! So if someone asks you how many dollars it costs, you can say “none” and laugh in their faces because you have fooled them with a trick they will never understand.


doomsdaypicnic: Rifftrax: The Star Wars Holiday... [RiffTrax]


Rifftrax: The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978/2007)

From Rifftrax:

Have a Happy Life Day! And nothing kicks off a memorable Life Day quite so much as watching the legendary Star Wars Holiday Special receive a fully deserved Rifftrax parody treatment! Yes, all your favorite Wookies are here: there’s Chewbacca, Malla, Itchy, Lumpy and Art Carney.

Tony Award Winner and Oscar nominated Diahann Carroll as a singing holographic prostitute who services Grandpa Itchy. And Bea Arthur stretches her talent by playing a woman. Not only that, there are commercials from 1978 that will come close to convincing you that “1978” is fairly synonymous with “Hell”.

Because we taped ours off of the television set, and our NV-9300 doesn’t have an “edit” function printed on one of its dozens of plastic piano key-style switches, we just left the commercials in there.

Bill, Mike, and Kevin make this the itchiest, lumpiest Life Day of them all!

To celebrate Life Day, which this year falls on International Gingivitis Awareness Week, Rifftrax invite you to share in this baffling, incompetent abomination at the low-low price of $7.99. Buy it now before the creator of Felicity makes one even more putrid. 

kwmurphy: Happy Life Day from the whole Chewbacca family -... [RiffTrax]


Happy Life Day from the whole Chewbacca family - Chewy, Itchy, Lumpy, Malla, Drinky, Goopy, Hummus, DogsAssResembley And Bea.

And please enjoy our Riff of the Star Wars Holiday Special, on sale. 


Climate Change: Snowiest November In Michigan History Happening Now… [Weasel Zippers]

Michael Moore shocked Via Michigan Live: This week’s stretch of seemingly never-ending snowfall earned Grand Rapids residents some bragging rights. Snowfall totals for Grand Rapids so far this month have made for the snowiest November on record, with 28.4 inches that accumulated as of 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, according to the National Weather Service. […]

Obama On Facebook: Illegal Aliens Are “As American As Any Of Us” [Weasel Zippers]

Maybe as American as he is.. Via Breitbart: In a new Facebook video released by the White House, President Obama reflects on his historic immigration reform speech by reminding Americans why he had to act to give illegal immigrants amnesty. Obama explained he understood that most Americans were frustrated with people who were breaking the […]

Mexico Now Charging U.S Citizens To Enter Their Country [Weasel Zippers]

Ole, now you pay! Via 10News: If you a a United States citizen and cross the border frequently you may have to pay a fee to go into Mexico. The National Immigration Institute in Mexico (INAMI) has started a pilot program in which foreigners that enter Mexican territory for more than seven days or they […]

Emails: DOJ Complained To CBS News After Sharyl Atkinson Fast & Furious Report [Weasel Zippers]

No effort to cover up there… Via Breitbart: After CBS News aired a damaging report which suggested Attorney General Eric Holder had lied to Congress, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) press director worked overtime to suppress reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s story and called her CBS superiors to complain. Attkisson published a blockbuster story on October 3, […]

New House Intel Report Finds No Protests Prior To #Benghazi Attack, CIA Tracking Weapons To Syria [Weasel Zippers]

Yet, liberals are spinning this report as an exoneration of Obama appointees? Via Fox News: A leading Republican wants to expand the House investigation into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack by adding a Senate probe, as a new House Intelligence Committee report Friday concluded that the initial CIA assessment found no demonstrations prior to the […]

Jimmy Carter: Hillary Clinton’s Support For Israel “Concerns Me”… [Weasel Zippers]

Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire against Israel, not so much.

CAIR Says Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration “Praiseworthy” First Step… [Weasel Zippers]

CAIR has gone from being an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood to an arm of the DNC. (WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/21/2014) – The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called President Obama’s announced executive action on immigration a “praiseworthy” first step to address the nation’s crumbling […]

Al Shabab Hijacks A Bus, Picks Out Christians, Kills 28 [Weasel Zippers]

More war on Christians. Via NY Post: NAIROBI, Kenya — Suspected Islamic extremists from Somalia hijacked a bus in Kenya’s north and killed 28 non-Muslims on board after they had been singled out from the rest of the passengers, police officials said Saturday. The bus traveling to the capital Nairobi with 60 passengers was hijacked […]

Leaflet Being Distributed On #Ferguson: “If The Murdering Pig Walks, Amerikkka Must Be Brought To A Halt” [Weasel Zippers]

Rev Com, of course, originates out of Chicago, and has been trying to gin up revolution in Ferguson since the beginning. Via College Fix: ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Students at Saint Louis University were handed a communist leaflet as they walked between classes Wednesday afternoon that declared “if the murdering pig walks, AMERIKKKA must be […]

Obama Orders Expanded Role For Military In Afghanistan [Weasel Zippers]

Flip flop #1245… Via NY Post: President Obama has quietly ordered an expanded role for US troops in Afghanistan through 2015, including permission to target Taliban fighters in the war-torn country. Earlier plans had limited US soldiers to counterterrorism strikes against al Qaeda after this year. The decision won’t affect the total number of US […]

White House Staffer Makes The Natural Career Progression… Working At MSNBC… [Weasel Zippers]

Via Mediaite: MSNBC announced Friday morning that it hired the White House’s associate communications director to head up the network’s press shop. Starting December 8, Rachel Racusen will be the cable news outlet’s vice president of communications. “I’m thrilled to add Rachel to our senior team. She has great experience, she’s creative, strategic and passionate […]

More Stereotypes, Now From Hillary: People We’re Talking About With Immigration “Served Us Tonight” [Weasel Zippers]

Hillary Clinton now on immigration order: "This is about people's lives, people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight." — Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) November 22, 2014 First Obama stereotypes illegals in question as “bedpan cleaners”, now Hillary thinks they are servers. Via Daily Caller: While speaking at a swanky event Friday night in […]

Obama’s New Immigration Rules: Sexual Predators, Drug Dealers, Drunk Drivers Not Top Deportation Priorities… [Weasel Zippers]

Shocker. Via Washington Examiner: The Department of Homeland Security has just released new “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.” Designed to fill in the details after President Obama’s announcement that at least four million currently illegal immigrants will be given work permits, Social Security numbers, and protection from deportation, the DHS […]

Breaking: New Black Panthers Arrested By FBI For Attempt To Use Explosives In #Ferguson Protests…Update: Indicted On Weapons Charges, Black Panther Head Blames Cointelpro…Update: Video, Pics Of Suspects [Weasel Zippers]

Let the games begin! Via The Blaze: Two men were arrested by the FBI in a sting operation for allegedly attempting to purchase explosives to be used in Ferguson protests, CBS News reported Friday night. According to CBS News, the men were arrested Thursday for attempting to purchase the materials for pipe bombs. The individuals […]

Pampered Western Jihadis Moan About Cold In Syria [Weasel Zippers]

Newsflash: ISIS finds out the only westerners who will join them are losers… Via Express UK: Grumbling would-be terrorists are buckling under the pressure of trying to fight in Syria and Iraq, without their Western home comforts – as one fighter quit without even lasting two weeks. Jihadi bride Aqsa Mahmood, 20, turned her back […]

Obama: The Old System Of Deporting Illegal Immigrants Is The Real Amnesty… [Weasel Zippers]

Errr, what? Via Jim Geraghty: Perhaps the most galling line in last night’s speech: “I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules.” Yes, but […]

Black Leaders Strangely Silent On Obama Amnesty [Weasel Zippers]

Black unemployment at 17% and rising… Via Washington Times: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are endorsing President Obama’s amnesty for illegal immigrants, as they endeavor to maintain the fiction that the Democratic Party is aligned with the needs of the black community and maintain […]

Obama Stereotypes Latinos: “They Mow Our Lawns, Make Our Beds, Clean Out Deadpans”… [Weasel Zippers]

Another edition of: “Imagine if a Republican said this.” BARACK OBAMA: America is not a nation that accepts the hypocrisy of workers who mow our lawns, make our beds, clean out bedpans, with no chance ever to get right with the law.  We’re a nation that gives people a chance to take responsibility and make […]

#ThanksMichelleObama, High School Students Post Pictures Of Their Horrible Thanksgiving Themed Lunches [Weasel Zippers]

Michelle’s kids can eat well, but this is what your kids get… Via Daily Mail: Students in Wisconsin have taken to social media to blast Michelle Obama for their Thanksgiving themed lunches that feature a brown mystery mush. The brown paste was served at Richland Center High School in Wisconsin and students earlier this month […]

Handbook for fighting climate-denialism [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]



From 2011, Skeptical Science’s excellent Debunking Handbook, a short guide for having discussions about climate change denial that tries to signpost the common errors that advocates of the reality of anthropogenic global warming make when talking to people who disbelieve.

Read the rest…

Tabletop's RPG Show [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

Tabletop’s RPG Show

This is one of those “write it now so I can refer to it later” posts, because this is a FAQ.

A Redditor asked:

Still excited about the RPG show, any idea when we’ll be hearing any news on that front?

I responded:

We’re in preproduction right now. I’ve designed the fundamental pillars of the world, met with some writers and game designers to get the ball rolling on the actual world building…

View On WordPress

REVIEW: Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1 hardcover (please share!) [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]







Saga, the creator-owned gonzo science fiction comic from Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples may be the best sf comic since Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan, and the three collections published to date are already canon, with the long-awaited number four around the corner. To get all your friends ready for it, there’s a new gorgeous, massive hardcover volume collecting the first three installments.

The problem with creator-owned comics is that the darned creators get to go off an have a life, producing work to their own schedule at not rushing their creative process. There’s no tyrannical Stan Lee figure standing over them, barking “Kirby, I don’t need it good, I need it Tuesday, and I got six more guys just like you who’d kill to get a crack at X-Men!”*

* Disclaimer: As far as I know, this dialog only took place in my imagination. Also, I’m totally in favor of Vaughan and Staples getting to have lives, etc. I just want moar Saga.

What I’m saying is, it was a long-ass wait between getting hooked on Saga and reading the firsttwo volumes and the third volume coming out, and book four isn’t coming out until next month.

Read the whole review…

"The federal government until recently shielded big banks from criminal prosecution out of concern..." [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

“The federal government until recently shielded big banks from criminal prosecution out of concern that convictions may damage the financial system, a top Federal Reserve official said Friday, explicitly acknowledging a policy long denied by the Obama administration.
The admission came during a tense exchange between William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) at a Senate Banking Committee hearing meant to explore the cozy relations between federal regulators and the banks they supervise.”

- The Fed Just Acknowledged Its Too Big To Jail Policy.

gameraboy: untitled by alittleblackegg on Flickr. The Magazine... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]


untitled by alittleblackegg on Flickr.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1953
Cover by Emsh

"Voter turnout was awful. It was more awful for the Democrats but the GOP won 52 percent of 35..." [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

“Voter turnout was awful. It was more awful for the Democrats but the GOP won 52 percent of 35 percent of the vote: in other words their mandate is 17 percent of the registered electorate (and 13 percent of those eligible to vote).”

desmuses: Daily life in Raqqa by Molly Crabapple (... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]


Daily life in Raqqa by Molly Crabapple ( mollycrabapple ) and an anonymous Syrian.

These are amazing, and this is the first time, ever, that... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

These are amazing, and this is the first time, ever, that I’ve been sad there wasn’t a Wesley version of some TNG toys. (via Star Trek: The Next Generation Funko POPs Revealed » PopVinyl.net)

chipsandbeermag: Warning Signs of Satanic Behavior. Training... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]


Warning Signs of Satanic Behavior. Training video for police, 1990

So, two things … Training video for police about “Satanic behavior” (whatever the fuck that is) and this was made in 1990. Not 1980.

gameraboy: untitled by alittleblackegg on Flickr. Doctor Solar,... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]


untitled by alittleblackegg on Flickr.

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #3.
Gold Key, March 1963.
Cover by George Wilson.

edwardspoonhands: tumblingdoe: I’ve wanted to introduce you to... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]



I’ve wanted to introduce you to Acton since Sexplanations has existed. This week, which is Trans Awareness Week seemed like a fitting time. Please share!






The Critical Hit D20 rug is 43”x38”, with a non-skid backing, and ensures that your living spaces always make their saving throws.

Read the rest…

Amateur Radio Newsline Report 1944 November 14 2014 [Amateur Radio Newsline Podcast]

  • FCC reverses revokes the amateur license of a convicted sex offender
  • ARRL asks FCC to continue issuing paper amateur license documents
  • Permanent access to 60 meters moves a bit closer for hams in Argentina
  • 4M Lunar fly-by transponder goes QRT
  • More non-ham intruders hit the amateur radio bands
  • Radio helps capture first light that gives a look back in time

November 21, 2014 [ARRL Audio News]

In this week's report: Four New Section Managers will Start in he New Year; Amateur Radio Volunteers Turn Out En Masse to Support the Chicago Marathon; New Jersey Radio Amateurs Enter an Emergency Antenna-Raising Project in Innovation Competition

ARRL Members Elect Division Director and Two Vice Directors [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

The ballots have been counted, and ARRL members have determined that the Atlantic Division’s new Director starting January 1 will be current Vice Director Tom Abernethy, W3TOM. Abernethy outpolled Phil Theis, K3TUF, 1400 to 1168, to succeed outgoing Atlantic Division Director Bill Edgar, N3LLR, who opted not to run for another term. 

Abernethy was Maryland Section Manager from 2001 until 2005, w...

Amateur Radio Volunteers on Alert in Mammoth New York Snowfall’s Aftermath [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) volunteers are themselves still digging out from several days of unprecedented snowfall in Upstate New York. The severe weather already has been blamed for at least a dozen deaths. Western New York Section Emergency Coordinator Joe Tedesco, KC2DKP, said ARES volunteers have activated a net and are on alert ...

Two Japanese Satellites Will Carry Ham Radio Payloads into Deep Space this Month [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

[UPDATED 2014-11-20 2030 UTC] Two Amateur Radio satellites, Shin’en 2 (Abyss 2) and ARTSAT2: DESPATCH, will be heading into deep space this month. The satellites will hitch a ride with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa 2 asteroid mission, which is scheduled to launch on November 29.

A 17 kg, 50 cm diameter polyhedron, Shin’en 2, developed by Kyushu Institute of Technology an...

Laugh Out Loud with Arthur Simeon and Sabrina Jalees [Laugh Out Loud from CBC Radio]

Accent on Toronto 12 with Arthur and Sabrina and a sprinkle of Jean Paul for your listening pleasure!

‘Si se puede’: Obama earns Latino praise at home and abroad [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

US President Barack Obama’s sweeping move to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation has drawn enthusiastic praise from Latin American leaders and galvanized Hispanic voters disappointed by years of stalling on the issue.

US prisoner freed after 39 years on death row [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A 57-year-old US prisoner who was sentenced to death for a murder he didn't commit walked free from court on Friday after spending 39 years behind bars, prosecutors said.

US House panel debunks many Benghazi theories [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Tunisian wins Muslim answer to Miss World [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Dressed in headscarves and judged partly on their knowledge of the Koran, 18 finalists took part in a beauty contest with a difference in Indonesia on Friday – one exclusively for Muslims, and seen as a riposte to Western beauty pageants.

Burkina Faso vows to identify remains of folk hero Sankara [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Burkina Faso's new transitional president has promised to open an investigation to identify remains believed to be those of the West African nation's revolutionary hero Thomas Sankara, who was assassinated more than 27 years ago.

‘Si se puede’: Obama earns Latino praise at home and abroad [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

US President Barack Obama’s sweeping move to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation has drawn enthusiastic praise from Latin American leaders and galvanized Hispanic voters disappointed by years of stalling on the issue.

Al Shabaab gunmen execute passengers in Kenya bus attack [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Gunmen hijacked a bus in northern Kenya before executing 28 non-Muslims on board after they had been singled out from the rest of the passengers, police officials said Saturday, blaming the attack on al Shabaab Islamic extremists from Somalia.

Friday News Dump: 30,000 Missing Lois Lerner Emails Magically Recovered [Jammie Wearing Fools]

I question the timing. Perfectly timed between Obama’s amnesty speeches and the upcoming Ferguson riots.

Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.

Committees in the House and Senate are seeking the emails, which they believe could show Lerner was working in concert with Obama administration officials to target conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status before the 2012 presidential election.

The missing emails extend from 2009 to 2011, a period when Lerner headed the IRS’s exempt-organizations division. The emails were lost when Lerner’s computer crashed, IRS officials said earlier this year.

In June, IRS Administrator John Koskinen told Congress the emails were probably lost for good because the disaster recovery tape holds onto the data for only six months. He said even if the IRS had sought the emails within the six-month period, it would have been a complicated and difficult process to produce them from the tapes.

The IRS also lost the emails of several other employees who worked under Lerner during that period.

Lerner, who retired from the IRS, has refused to be questioned by Congress.

At this rate everyone else whose emails were “lost” will be found by 2020 or so.

Hilarious: Obama Stooge Suggests Lousy Website Responsible for Inflated ObamaCare Numbers [Jammie Wearing Fools]

What a fucking clownshow.

The official under scrutiny for inflated ObamaCare enrollment numbers is suggesting that the error was partly due to the unfinished federal healthcare website.

Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), wrote in a letter to House Republicans on Thursday that the system had “inadvertently” double-counted nearly 400,000 people.

That miscount helped push the enrollment total past 7 million, a milestone that was celebrated by the administration at the time.

Also celebrated by the media, who are largely silent now. Shocking, we know. Tavenner can explain this to Congress when she’ll be under oath with Obama pal Jonathan Gruber.

Immigration and other matters [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]

View 851 Friday, November 21, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983


The furor over President Obama’s executive actions – which are certainly at the edge of the President’s constitutional powers – continues, but there is precious little debate on the immigration question itself. Fortunately some of that can be done here.

Illegal Immigration

My problem with your assertions (and that of about 98% of the Republican pundocracy) that illegals crossing the border is the only illegal act committed by illegal aliens is so spectacularly wrong. Illegals spend their lives saturated in illegal acts.

1. Working (at all) is illegal.

2. Getting medical services using a false ID to avoid payment is illegal (or do illegals never see a doctor?)

3. Creating false documentation to use for employment is illegal (The 9-11 hijackers got their docs from a service created to serve illegals).

4. Filing federal forms using false ID is illegal.

5. Making false claims of income to receive EITC is illegal.

6. Filing false forms to gain access to welfare is illegal.

I could go on — and most of these violations have severe penalties — but apparently only for citizens. Simpson-Mazzoli taught the world how the system works — Get across the border, lie, cheat and steal while you are here – and be rewarded with citizenship. The push for "amnesty" will just reinforce this understanding by an order of magnitude ( or roughly the number of illegals we have to deal with now compared to Simpson-Mazzoli.) Do what you’ve done; Get what you got. In spades.

Thanks for your time.

Stephen Coyne

Presume agreement with what you have said. There remain problems. First and most obvious, most of those continuous crimes stem from their status. When Mrs. Pournelle taught in the Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice System, there were many young people in temporary detention because they were “status offenders”: they had committed no intentional criminal act, but were living in situations that sent them to detention. Most of them could not read, and had no sense of discipline: it did them no harm to learn some social skills and a bit of deference to authority and self discipline, but it was a damned expensive way for them to learn it. And of course it did them a great deal of good to learn to read, which the schools had spectacularly failed to teach them. Some counted themselves lucky to be in a place where it was relatively quiet and safe and the teachers actually tried to teach them something. But it’s hardly a plan for school reform.

Of course there were many others who were actual criminals, including a girl who had borrowed her boyfriend’s gun to kill her mother’s boyfriend as he was abusing her little sister. Others were shop lifters, prostitutes, and burglars. They shared the facilities with the status offenders because there was no money to build and staff more facilities for better segregation of the juvenile detention population.

I say all this not in answer to your summary, but as something to keep in mind.

You point out that working here as an illegal alien is itself a crime. Indeed: but it is a fact, and while finding some way to prevent their employment – no easy task – would partially prevent that crime, it would also create tens of thousands of paupers who would still be here, only now they have no income. Some might go back to their country of origin, but many would not; what happens next? If the answer is ‘deport them all,’ we will address that later.

The question of welfare abuse is important. The average person in the US living on welfare is considered in poverty here, but much of the world would consider them wealthy, and that includes the countries of origin of many of the illegal aliens here. The proportion of those coming here to get on welfare, as opposed to those coming here to work and send money back to their families is debatable, but there are at least some, and of course once here economics determines whether they try to get in on the welfare system.

Welfare reform is important, but also difficult. The simplest, require some proof of legal status before you can receive welfare or other benefits, has been tried and rejected by the courts. A federal law to this effect may well be passed by the next Congress, although it is unlikely that the President will sign it. But assuming it were passed and signed, it is certain to be challenged in the courts. California’s attempt didn’t survive. But assume that Congress directs the President to enforce the laws, and the civil service actually begins to deny welfare benefits to those who cannot prove legal status in the US.

This would be worth pursuing if for no other reason than it might well stop newcomers from receiving welfare and Medicaid and other such benefits, and that would discourage new illegal immigrants.

It would leave open the question of what happens to those formerly receiving it. They will still be here, and will still be guilty of having received welfare illegally. Shat shall be done with them? President Obama’s solution is to have them register and acquire a sort of pale green card that givens them legal status of a sort, and allows them to get on the welfare rolls again. What would be a better solution? Immediate deportation? We’ll address that later.

Creating and using false documents is a separate issue. It is already a crime for citizens and illegal residents alike, and is best enforced that way, as presumably it would be under the Obama plan. The same is true for many other fraudulent acts in your specification.


Total deportations in 2011, the latest year for which complete numbers are available, numbered 715,495 – the lowest level since 1973. The highest number of deportations on record was in 2000, under the Clinton administration, when 1,864,343 aliens were deported.


Under Clinton, about 2 million aliens were deported in one year. There are about ten million illegal aliens present in the United States. One assumes that the level of difficulty grows with each million deported. If we continued at the 2 million a year level it would take five years.

Whether we could sustain that rate is subject to debate, but it is less time and surely would cost less than our overseas operations In Iraq have cost. If that is what is intended, then it needs to be said; the question becomes then one of the will of the people. If it be that being illegal and here is sufficient grounds for deportation and the law ought to be enforced, we will have to be prepared for the resulting legal congestion in our courts as each case is contested. At present those deported are, usually rather obvious cases (many having previously been deported: there needs to be revision in the law about repeat offenses); that will be decreasingly so over time. We will need to be prepared for the endless newspaper stories with front and inside pictures of children clinging to their mothers as they are taken into custody, and American children crying because the feds took their nanny away.

One wonders if we are up to that.

If not, then what should we do? Mr. Obama has proposed a course of action. Unlike the Simpson- Mazzoli Act of 1986 signed by Reagan, it doesn’t seem to impose penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, and has no citizenship path for those covered by the amnesty. The Reagan amnesty was intended to deal with about 4 million illegal aliens then resident in the US. There are some ten million now some 28 years later. Of course some put that number as high as 40 million, and most agree that ten million is an underestimate. Whatever one’s opinion of Mr. Obama’s decree, it does not solve the problem addressed by Simpson-Mazzoli, just as that amnesty did not solve the problem it faced.

It truly is time and past time for a rational discussion of immigration policy, and of the measures it will require to regain control of the US borders. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to propose sensible measures to cope with a large and growing problem; even if they are rejected by the President (the lame duck Democratic majority in the Senate vanished in January) it is an opportunity for the Republicans to show they can govern.



I agree with nearly all of your comments about not panicking, especially as I see this as doing long-term damage mainly to the President.

But I think you have the pardon power wrong. Sure, Obama could pardon each and every illegal for having been in the country illegally, but the next day they are still here illegally. He can no more pardon them prospectively as he could pardon someone from ongoing perjury or being a felon in continued possession of a gun.

Kevin Murphy

Yes, I expect so. But he is a former lecturer on Constitutional Law…

Constitutional Crisis

Hi Jerry,

I wonder how many people who applaud Obama on the immigration executive action, will likewise applaud a pro-life president who orders the FDA to stop certifying medical devices and drugs used in abortions, or to stop reimbursing hospitals and doctors who perform them.

Executive overreach always sounds good when it’s one doing something you like, but precedents are dangerous. Eventually the other side has their turn at the plate.

I don’t disagree that we need to do something, and that that something doesn’t include deportation. But the constitutional principle is a separate, and frankly more important, long term concern for the future of the country.

He doesn’t give a darn about immigration. This was a purely political snipe to put the Republican’s into a dither and have them expend limited political capital in ways that won’t put legislation on his desk.



I’m hardly applauding him, but his encroachment in the illegal aliens case is still in the debatable range. It is not allowable in my view, but I am merely a former professor who taught constitutional law to undergraduates. I will agree that the long term implications are important and ought to be addressed, but it is not time to panic. On the other hand, the time to panic over the condition of our grade and high schools is long past, yet we seem to muddle along.


Illegals Serving In US Military For Green Card

There’s two broad classes of illegals: those who wish to be US citizens, and those who do not, and simply wish to make money here and then return to country of origin. The military scheme might work for the former, although history shows what happens when foreign mercenaries take the place of native citizens.

Probably a better solution would be to, in addition to military service being a path to a green card, allow civilian service as well, in organizations similar to FDR’s CCC and WPA, designed to repair and replace infrastructure. President Obama might think that illegals are only good for being hotel maids, but I’ll tell you from personal experience that most construction workers and skilled tradesmen these days are Hispanics. Employing them in Americorps or some similar infrastructure program with a green card incentive would only make sense.

Robert Evans

I would certainly keep a close watch on numbers, but serving in the armed forces as a path to citizenship is a pretty good indication of loyalty. I am well aware of the dangers of a Republic entrusting its safety to hirelings – as was Machiavelli, for that matter.  The Venetian Republic took Machiavelli seriously…  Adding various civilian service paths might make sense; I hadn’t thought about that before.




Apple Stores


My experiences in Apple Stores have ranged from very good to excellent; however, at this point I would hesitate to go for the resolution of a problem without a Genius Bar Appointment.

Apple Stores are currently suffering from success. It appears to me that every Apple Store I have been in in the last year has had about twice the number of customers that the store was designed to handle smoothly. Staff has been added to try and handle the customer load, but the stores are so crowded that everyone is literally tripping over each other.

I am sure that Apple is well aware of the problem and is actively working on locating and opening new stores. This will take some time. For the time being I will take my own advice and schedule a Genius Bar Appointment if I have a problem to be solved.

Bob Holmes

That squares with my observations. And I am making an appointment to take in my MacBook Air with the swollen battery before I go look at the new iPhone six. Discussion in the November column, which I am of course late in getting done.


Donald Cook systems disabled by Russians, NOT


As an engineer and former navy aviator and consultant, I don’t believe for a second the report that a Russian plane disabled systems on the Donald Cook. It may have blinded the radar when it was really close – that’s easy. It might have jammed all the radios – that’s easy too. There is no way it disabled other systems. This is pure Russian fantasy, being re-transmitted by gullible westerners. Modern weapons systems and platforms are designed to tolerate nuclear EMP and HEMP, which are far more powerful than any electronic weapon. Popular entertainment media greatly exaggerates the capabilities of these weapons and of hackers.

In a combat situation, the aircraft would not have gotten close enough to blind the systems. And, if it tried, it would have been taken out by a home-on-jam missile – that’s what they are for.

John Moore

I knew a Wizzo (Electronics Warfare Officer) in a RF4B who shut down 3/4 of Los Angeles for 15 minutes in the early 80s by accident. It ain’t unheard of, particularly in the military. In fact, we have routinely fielded aircraft to do exactly this. It’s how anti-aircraft defenses are disabled. The tragedy is that we continue to build electronics without EMP protection.

David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




Yemen minister dedicates award to country’s Jews [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Arwa Othman, Yemen's minister of culture, donated a human rights prize to the country's small Jewish community. (Human Rights Watch)

Arwa Othman, Yemen’s minister of culture, donated a human rights prize to the country’s small Jewish community. (Human Rights Watch)

(JTA) — Yemen’s minister of culture is donating an international human rights prize to the country’s tiny and persecuted Jewish minority.

Arwa Othman, awarded the Alison Des Forges Award by Human Rights Watch in September, called for “tolerance” in her speech and announced she was giving her award to “brothers and friends from the Jewish community,” according to the Associated Press.

Othman made the announcement at a celebration Thursday in the capital city of Sanaa, where roughly half of the country’s Jewish population — numbering fewer than 90 in total — live in a guarded compound.

Arwa, a writer and former head of Yemen’s House of Folklore who was only appointed to her cabinet post last Friday, was praised by Human Rights Watch for her advocacy for civil rights in the country’s constitutional negotiations and her efforts to end child marriage. According to the AP, her advocacy for civil rights and the Jewish population has spurred a backlash by Yemen’s hardline Salafi Muslims.

Ferguson Protests Grow Larger: 'We Don't Give a F--- about Your Laws' [National Review Online - The Corner]

The protests in Ferguson, Mo., on Friday night grew larger than previous days’ gatherings of protesters, despite the rain and cold weather. Police officers used a megaphone to ask protesters to leave the street outside the Ferguson Police Department or they would be arrested. In this video, protesters responded by chanting ”F— the police” and shouting “We don’t give a f— about your laws like you don’t give a f— about our lives.” Warning: Video contains foul language.

Protesters then moved to West Florissant Street and blocked traffic in front of a McDonald’s restaurant and chanted, “Who shut sh– down? We shut sh– down!” Warning: Video contains foul language.

​The employees working inside of the 24-hour McDonald’s restaurant were so frightened that they locked the doors and temporarily closed the store until protesters moved down the street. 

The protesters meanwhile did not seem nearly as concerned about potential violence, and some even brought their children to help block traffic. 

A grand jury’s decision to indict police officer Darren Wilson, who is suspected of shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown, could come at any moment. Residents and law enforcement alike are preparing for a worst-case scenario that could include the loss of life as a result of violent protests.


Nuland Sends a Message [National Review Online - The Corner]

The Interpreter:

When the Ukrainian crisis began, some commentators in the West suggested that NATO would not in the end fight to defend the Baltic countries even though the latter are full members of NATO by asking “who is prepared to die for Narva?” But now a senior US State Department has given a clear and unequivocal answer: Western countries are.

During a visit to Latvia this week, Victoria Nuland, US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said that “when NATO and the US as part of NATO took new members into the alliance, this means that we are ready to participate in the defense of the security of these countries, and this means that we are ready to give our lives for the security of these countries.”

That is why there are young American soldiers in Latvia now, she continued, suggesting that there should be “absolute clarity” that if someone attacks Latvia, we will be here to help defend Latvia” because “no one has the right to shoot at Latvia because no one has the right to shoot at the territory of NATO.”

Nuland was right to say what she did. The best chance of avoiding a crisis in the Baltic is if the Russians can be persuaded that military intervention there is not worth the risk.

But there is intervention and intervention. The chances of an overt Russian attack are, I am convinced, very, very low. The possibilities of something more ambiguous still remain remote but are not quite so easy to discount. In the event of a ‘spontaneous’ rising in (overwhelmingly ethnic Russian) Narva, a city in eastern Estonia just a bridge away from Russia, or in Russian-speaking Daugavpils in eastern Latvia, what would the western response be?  Enough has been learnt of Russian tactics in the last year that the US would, I am sure, be able to pull together a posse (Brits? Poles?) to help the Balts out, but would, say,  Germany (more ambivalent than it should be) be quite so willing to agree that it was obliged (under Article V of the NATO treaty) to join in efforts to combat what it might choose to deem to be ‘internal’ disturbances? There are excellent strategic reasons for Nuland to portray the NATO alliance as united and resolute, but that does not mean that it is.

Meanwhile Estonian Public Broadcasting reports:

A joint study by the Estonian Institute of Human Rights and Turu-uuringute AS found that 38 percent of ethnic Russians in Estonia would believe Russian media in case of conflicting reports, while 33 percent would believe information from both sides, and only 6 percent would side with Estonian media accounts.

Given the paranoid narrative now spun by most Russian media, that’s not so good, but the news is not all bleak. Two-thirds of ethnic Russians said they would give a public broadcasting Russian-language [Estonian] television channel “a chance”, including, interestingly, a higher proportion of the elderly (the segment of the population that might be presumed to be the most Sovietized of Estonia’s Russians (although this may merely reflect the fact that they watch more television and speak less Estonian).


 When asked if Russia has the right to protect its interests abroad, only 12 percent agreed, and 60 percent said Ukraine has the right to protect its territorial integrity.

That 12 percent seems reassuringly low, at least by the standards of neighboring Latvia and is somewhat encouraging if accurate (the fact that some 60 percent were said to support Ukraine’s rights is also not a bad tally under the circumstances). It’s also worth adding that (again, judging by the Latvian data) support for Russia’s adventures abroad is not the same as wanting the Russian army to show up at home.

The report notes that “slightly over 40 percent of ethnic Russians in Estonia do not speak any Estonian”, a number that is higher than I would have thought, but it is a number that is likely skewed by an older generation unwilling to adapt to post-Soviet reality and/or, perhaps, the complexity of the Estonian language.

Ethnic Russians account for roughly 25 percent of the population in Estonia. 

Some Fans of ‘Executive Action’ (2) [National Review Online - The Corner]

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops:

WASHINGTON—Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news today that the Obama administration will defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.

Perhaps I’m being unfair, but it seems to me that the bishops now seem rather less focused on the constitution than they were at the time they were objecting to various aspects of Obamacare coverage.

Meanwhile the National Catholic Reporter reports:

Catholic groups across the country have been quick to applaud President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration, but they are equally quick to remind that more work remains to be done before finding a “humane” fix to our country’s immigration system.

The executive order, which the president delivered Thursday in a primetime speech, expands the government’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and provides temporary relief from deportation for more than 4 million undocumented immigrant parents who have lived in the country for more than five years.

“Generally, we are celebrating this announcement,” said Michelle Sardone, legalization program director for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, or CLINIC. “It’s going to help close to 5 million people. But we’re definitely still working toward finding a permanent solution.”

“This a temporary fix,” she said. “There’s still more fighting to be done, to make sure that everyone is included.”

Press releases from various Catholic organizations echoed the sentiment….

Ah yes, there’s always “more fighting to be done”.

The ratchet turns. 

The Rules of the (Political) Road [National Review Online - The Corner]

In a post yesterday, I talked about a particular freedom that those on the left have: If the process gets in your way — separation of powers, the Constitution, and all that — just disregard it, and go for your desired result. Gotta break a few eggs, you know. We must bend that arc toward justice.

Here is another freedom that the Left has: They can quote the Bible with impunity. Obama did so in his amnesty announcement: “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger . . .” In her convention speech, Elizabeth Warren offered a quote — “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” — then said, smugly and proudly, “Matthew 25:40.” She literally cited chapter and verse.

(I should say that Warren came off as smug and proud to me. Whether others felt the same, I don’t know.)

In another convention speech, Jesse Jackson compared Vice President Dan Quayle to Herod. The mother of Jesus, said Jackson, “had family values. It was Herod — the Quayle of his day — who put no value on the family.”

Interestingly, Quayle is pro-life, and Jackson is not.

If a conservative Republican cites the Bible, how does the Left react? “Theocracy!” A theocratic night is falling, and the Republic must be saved. “Wall of separation,” blah blah blah. Obama can quote the Bible till the cows come home. But if George W. Bush tried it . . .

Why this double standard? It could be that the Left uses the Bible for rhetorical effect — to poke the Right in the eye. When conservatives quote the Bible, the Left may fear, or reason, that the quoters actually believe the stuff.

It may be a little like gay marriage. Until about two seconds ago — the spring of 2012 — Obama, Biden, Kerry, the Clintons, and all the rest of them were against gay marriage. Or said they were. But the Left didn’t hold it against them, really — because everyone knew they were lying. They would embrace gay marriage the second it was politically okay.

Anyway, on to another subject — race. It is said, understandably, that the impeachment of Obama is impossible, because he has racial immunity. A move to impeach Obama would be immediately painted as a Klan lynching.

In truth, the impeachment of Clinton was racialized, too. Honestly. (Well, dishonestly, but you know what I mean.) I wrote about this in 1999, in a piece called “The Race Ace: Clinton at his most shameful.” I can’t find it online at the moment, but it is published in an ancient anthology, here.

I suffer from many maladies, but one I am free from, I’m happy to say, is “Clinton nostalgia.” I have none of it, no matter how bad the present administration is.

Faster, Please [National Review Online - The Corner]

On this week’s podcast, Mona and I have a guest, Michael Ledeen — that scholar and champion of freedom. He talks of Iran, primarily. The Khomeinist regime has been a curse on humanity — especially Iranians — for 35 years. Its downfall will be a great day. Mona and I adopt Michael’s trademark refrain, “Faster, please.”

Later, we discuss President Obama’s abuse of power, his “climate” pact with China, and other things. Those other things include Putin, Harper, Sharpton, Cuba, Israel, and Cosby. I am exceptionally shouty, even extreme. Mona is more levelheaded, of course, but still impassioned.

We go out with a stretch of Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony, written in the dead of the war (1943). To join us, go here.

Join the National Review Wine Club and Save $100 — And Get Two Free Bottles of Pinot Noir! [National Review Online - The Corner]

Why not get amazing wines delivered right to your door by joining the National Review Wine Club!  Join today and you’ll save $100 on 12 world-class wines. Plus, you’ll get two bottles of elegant Gracenote Pinot Noir worth $50 at no additional cost. For more information, click here.

House Intel Investigation on Benghazi Clears Administration, Intelligence Community of Wrongdoing [National Review Online - The Corner]

Via the Denver Post:

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees. . . .

The investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In response to accusations that the administration misled the American public in the days following the Benghazi attack by blaming events on a spontaneous protest against a YouTube video:

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

The full report is available here.

The Select Committee on Benghazi, headed by South Carolina representative Trey Gowdy, remains in the midst of an ongoing investigation.

Purdue U: Only 50 Percent of Scientists Blame Humans for Climate Change [National Review Online - The Corner]

Houston, we have a problem. Via Paul Bedard’s Washington Secrets:

A new Purdue University report and survey of on global warming finds that just 50 percent of scientists blame human causes, not the NASA-endorsed and widely distributed claim of 97 percent.

In a survey of nearly 7,000 in the agriculture field, found that most scientists agree that climate change is happening, but just 50.5 percent blame mankind.

The study, conducted by associate professor of natural resource social science Linda Prokopy and a team of researchers, surveyed a range of people involved in the agricultural sector in 2011–2012, from scientists and climatologists to farmers.

Purdue University’s press release on the study notes a striking difference in the opinions between those groups:

More than 90 percent of the scientists and climatologists surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with more than 50 percent attributing climate change primarily to human activities.

In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with 8 percent pinpointing human activities as the main cause. A quarter of producers said they believed climate change was caused mostly by natural shifts in the environment, and 31 percent said there was not enough evidence to determine whether climate change was happening or not.

But, you know, the science is settled.

Oklahoma AG Starts Laying Out the Legal Case Against Obama's Executive Action: Of Course States Have Been Injured [National Review Online - The Corner]

States may be able to recoup monetary damages incurred as a result of President Obama’s executive action exempting millions of immigrants in the country illegally from deportation, says Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt. Ultimately, he aims for the courts to issue an injunction against the action, deeming it null.

“We believe that not only the state of Oklahoma, but states across the country have, in fact, been injured as a result of the president’s action,” he told National Review Online. As the impact of the order becomes clear, states will be able to determine its monetary effects on areas such as education, health-care, and public safety among others, he says.

Pruitt was unsure how long the courts would take to resolve the issue, but said that he expects to file the lawsuit in the coming weeks to get the effort underway. He said his office has been “evaluating intensely” since the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) memorandum in 2012, and is prepared to moved forward with legal action against him for overreach of his authority and breach of process.

“The thing about this is the president’s suggestions might be good ideas from a policy perspective, and some of them might not be good ideas, but that’s not the test here,” he said. “That’s not what the focus is for me, and for many that are looking at it — the question is whether the process being used by the president is appropriate.”

“The answer is it is brazenly political, in my estimation,” Pruitt added.

Prior to the president’s address on Thursday, Pruitt released a statement promising to bring legal action against him and his administration.

Harry Reid Slams White House: 'Get a Life' [National Review Online - The Corner]

The family feud between President Obama and soon-to-be Senate minority leader Harry Reid escalated this week, after the Nevada Democrat told the White House to “get a life” for its continued anger over remarks made by one of his top aides.

The New York Times reports that the rift between Reid and the Obama administration over David Krone, Reid’s top staff member, who made a series of highly critical remarks about the president earlier this month. Krone was already banned from attending White House meetings with Reid, following rumors that he leaked details of meetings between the then-majority leader and the president to the press.

Reid, for his part, is unrepentant. “He didn’t make it up, you know,” the senator said, referring to Krone’s claim that the Nevada senator begged Obama to get more involved in the midterm elections and blamed the president for the impending loss. 

And Reid also appears furious at the White House for their targeting of his top aide and close friend. ”They should just get over it,” he told the Times. “I have a good relationship with the president. This is all staff driven. Get a life. Forget about this.”

Why UKIP's Latest By-Election Victory Is a Very Big Deal [National Review Online - The Corner]

The U.K. Independence Party’s victory in the Rochester and Strood special election overnight contains enough lessons to fill an encyclopedia — and let’s be candid, encyclopedias usually make heavy reading. So in the next few days I’ll be sending the Corner a series of shorter analyses concentrating on the most important lessons.

The first lesson must obviously answer the question: How big a victory for UKIP was R&S? And if big, how significant for next May’s general election?

Well, the answer is that it was a very big victory for UKIP. Some commentators have suggested that it was a disappointment for UKIP because its 42 percent share of the vote was lower than in some polls, which had predicted a 48–49 percent share, and that its 7.3 point lead over the Tories was likewise disappointing. Those figures are accurate but the conclusion drawn from them is false.

UKIP went from 0 to 42 percent in a constituency where it had never fielded a candidate before. Rochester and Strood had never been regarded as a likely pick-up for the party. It was No. 271 on the UKIP list of winnable seats. And the Tories, who thought they would win the seat only a month ago, threw everything at it. Tory backbenchers were firmly instructed to make five campaigning visits to R&S to canvas voters. David Cameron himself made as many visits. And the campaign was a well-organized one — every home in the constituency was leafleted several times, including at 6.00 a.m. on Election Day.

I made my criticisms of the character of the Tory campaign clear in yesterday’s Corner piece. Some of its pitches struck me as ill-judged and over the top — for instance, the leaflet from the Tory candidate attacking her own leader, David Cameron, as weak on immigration, presumably in order to demonstrate her independence and toughness on the issue. There was more than a touch of comic-opera Putinism about that tactic, playing to the audience the tune it wants to hear today because you intend to play different tunes to different audiences tomorrow. Whatever my criticisms, however, the slight evidence of polls suggests that voters swung back a few percentage points to the Tories in the final week, for which the campaign must be given some credit.

But that modest recovery did no more than moderate the catastrophic nature of the Tory defeat and the seriousness of the threat that UKIP poses to it. As the opinion-polling company Survation observed in its post-election analysis of the result for both parties:

If an MP defecting to UKIP can win a by-election in Rochester & Strood, then similar defections elsewhere could potentially succeed across a very wide range of English constituencies. There are 164 constituencies where the Conservatives won in 2010 on a lower share of the vote than they did in Rochester & Strood. MPs in any of these places who are considering defection to UKIP must now reckon they have at least a reasonably good chance of retaining their seats. Meanwhile Conservative incumbents in many seats must worry that they risk losing either to Labour or, increasingly, directly to UKIP as a result of the continued UKIP success. The message “vote UKIP, get Labour” has less traction than ever when election results like this show it is genuinely possible to “vote UKIP, get UKIP”.  

And the Tories did better in this election than either Labour (holders of the seat two elections ago) which gained a 17 percent share of the total on this occasion — or the coalition partner of the Tories in government, the Liberal Democrats, who fell to 1 percent of the vote!

In other words: The next election is likely to see a massive and largely unpredictable set of results, with no fewer than seven political parties nursing realistic hopes of getting some representation in Parliament.  

Why did this happen? That’s my next piece.

An Imperial Spectacle [National Review Online - The Corner]

For many of us whose family members escaped the oppression of totalitarian regimes to come to a country where the law of the land wasn’t subject to the whim and caprice of a single man, last night’s exhibition had a surreal quality to it. We witnessed a form of the authoritarianism from which our relatives had fled.

To be clear, Obama’s action, no matter how imperious, in no way equates with the edicts of those despotic regimes. Yet it’s precisely because Obama’s edict was issued in a democratic republic that makes it so appalling. Talk to emigrés of a certain age from, e.g., the former Eastern Bloc, and they’ll grab you by the arm and warn, “Friend, don’t even begin to let your country go down this path. We’ve seen this movie before. Trust me, the plot stinks and you probably won’t like how it ends.”

 It doesn’t matter that Obama’s actions were cheered by millions, or that his supporters ridicule as hyperbolic the concerns of his critics. And it matters little that he claimed, in  Orwellian terms, that humanitarian impulses drove the edict. It matters even less that his administration proffered a tortured legal rationale for his actions. After all, each of these things usually happens in the very first scene of that movie the emigré​ warned you about.

What matters is that rather than discharge his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” our commander-in-chief engaged in a blatantly lawless usurpation of domestic power never before witnessed by any American alive today.

Montesquieu cautioned, “There can be no liberty when the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body of magistrates.” From his serial rewrites of Obamacare to his casual nullification of duly enacted immigration laws, the president seems intent on putting Montesquieu’s claim to the test.

Never Enough: Immigration Activist Heckles Obama During Amnesty Victory Lap [National Review Online - The Corner]

An immigration activist repeatedly interrupted President Obama during his amnesty victory speech at a Las Vegas high school on Friday, proving so insistent that the president had to eventually tell the young man to sit down and be “respectful.”

One day after unilaterally granting temporary legal status to around 5 million illegal immigrants, President Obama took to the stage surrounded by adulating teenagers and pro-amnesty politicians. The president was clearly enjoying the attention.

But not everyone was so exuberant, with one off-camera activist shouting at the president on behalf of the millions who didn’t get legal status. “That’s right, not everybody will qualifiy under this provision,” Obama responded. “That’s the truth. And that’s why we’re going to have to pass a bill.”

“Listen, I heard you,” he continued, after the activist continued to heckle. “I’ve heard you young man, I’ve heard you. And I understand, I’ve heard you. But what I’m saying is, this is just a first step.”

“Young man, I’m talking to a lot of people here,” Obama said with annoyance when the yelling continued. “I’ve been respectful to you, I want you to be respectful to me, okay?”

RNC Uses Hillary's Words Against 'The Obama-Clinton Immigration Overreach' [National Review Online - The Corner]

The Republican National Committee put out this video juxtaposing a speech that then-Senator Hillary Clinton gave in 2008 denouncing George W. Bush for ignoring his responsibility to “faithfully execute the laws,” in her mind, through the use ofsigning statements, among other things.


How Our Democracy Works [National Review Online - The Corner]

The executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced yesterday, and the two kinds of modes in which his administration made the announcement (a presidential speech and a Department of Justice legal memo), highlight the challenge of thinking constitutionally in an age when constitutional thought and legal thought have been almost entirely confused for one another. 

The most characteristically Obama-like moment in the president’s speech last night was surely his pausing to lecture the Congress about why his action on immigration shouldn’t distract from work on other matters. “Don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a deal breaker on every issue,” the president said. “That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this.” 

That’s not how our democracy works. Just incredible. If there’s one subject in which this president has made himself an expert it is how our democracy doesn’t work, and in the course of these six years he has brought forward a diverse array of methods of policymaking that aren’t how our democracy works. Some of those methods, particularly some of those used to selectively enforce Obamacare, have offered even more stark and obvious examples than this immigration action of failures to uphold the president’s obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. The action announced last night did not break new ground in terms of failures to carry out the law, I think. Where it broke new ground, rather, was in encroaching upon Congress’s turf. This action was not passive aggressive; it was active aggressive. It was, in some key respects, an act of legislation. 

The president’s own rhetoric betrayed the difficulty of arguing otherwise. It had all the markers of the announcement of a new program. He said he wasn’t changing U.S. immigration law and wasn’t changing anyone’s legal status and yet he also said he was offering a select class of illegal immigrants a deal: “If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.” Of course, people who take his deal wouldn’t be any more right with the law after taking it than before. They would be treated differently by the agencies enforcing that law because the president would like to treat them differently. But the president and his speechwriters understandably could not resist describing that change in treatment as effectively a change in status. 

The problem was even clearer when the president turned to addressing the question of his authority to act: 

And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.

What we see here is the president describing his action as legislative in character. If Congress questions his authority, it should act where he has acted; if Congress acts then his own action would be deemed unnecessary. He is saying he has stepped into a legislative space that Congress has declined to occupy. 

And this, after all, is the basic problem. The first sentence of the first article of the United States Constitution says “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” All of them. The key question about the steps the president announced last night is whether they can be plausibly described as faithfully executing an existing law or whether they are instead best understood as effectively making law. 

The administration’s lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice have done their best to make the former case—and the document they produced is worth your close attention. It is filled with various interesting nuggets (for instance, I take the OLC to be strongly suggesting that DACA, the president’s prior executive action granting deferred action to people brought to America illegally as minors, is not legally defensible). But it is most interesting for its general thrust. The memo suggests, above all, that the case for Obama’s action as a permissible exercise of discretion can only be sustained if we focus very intensely on a few small details of the president’s action and completely ignore its context in the practical realities of the immigration debate in American politics and the place of that debate in our national life at the moment. In essence, Obama could confer the benefits he has conferred on the select group he has chosen because the members of that particular group (parents of American-citizen or legal-resident children) would ultimately have a path to legal status and citizenship through their children, who could petition on their behalf when they turn 21. So if we strain our eyes very hard, the benefit the president has offered them—deferred action and a work permit—can be understood as a stopgap before they are given that path to actually legal legalization. (The absence of such a justification for DACA is why I take the OLC to be suggesting DACA is on even thinner ice.) Even on these terms, OLC acknowledges the case is very hard to make, but it ultimately concludes it is possible.
But in speaking to the public at large, the president of course could not ignore the larger realities of the immigration debate, and therefore could not avoid justifying his actions in terms that paint them as essentially legislative. This has been the rub of this debate from the start: If the Constitution is merely a technical legal document, it might (perhaps) be possible to defend this action as somehow within the bounds of the president’s enforcement discretion. But because the constitution creates a political order—a structure for the political life of an actual society—it is very difficult to sustain such a defense in the real world. That combination of factors means that a judge might well sustain the president’s action as minimally defensible if it was challenged in court but the Congress cannot consider it so. And both would be playing their proper constitutional roles. 

As the great James Ceaser of the University of Virginia has put it, the Constitution needs to be understood in two separate if related senses:

The first sense—legalistic constitutionalism—understands the Constitution as a set of rules that can decide policies or cases; these rules are of a sort that can offer definitive answers and that could be employed and enforced by courts. The second sense—political constitutionalism—understands the Constitution as a document that fixes certain ends of government activity, delineates a structure and arrangement of powers, and encourages a certain tone to the operation of the institutions. By this understanding, it falls mostly to political actors making political decisions to protect and promote constitutional goals. 

We have leaned very heavily in recent years in the direction of a legalistic understanding of the Constitution. But as Ceaser notes, the political understanding is at least as crucial. (For a similarly powerful argument regarding this distinction, I would also highly commend Ramesh’s chapter in the YG Network’s recent policy book, Room to Grow.) 

Another way to see this difficulty, as it relates to the immigration action announced yesterday, is to think about this action in terms of the nature of the question of its constitutional legitimacy. If we approach the Constitution as simply a technical legal document, we would inquire into the legitimacy of this action by asking something like the two questions that the OLC memo starts with: 

whether, in light of the limited resources available to the Department (“DHS”) to remove aliens unlawfully present in the United States, it would be legally permissible for the Department to implement a policy prioritizing the removal of certain categories of aliens over others…

[and second] whether it would be permissible for DHS to extend deferred action, a form of temporary administrative relief from removal, to certain aliens who are the parents of children who are present in the United States.

These are appropriate questions, and they have to be considered in the context of legal precedents and criteria about executive responsibility and executive discretion. The OLC answers that, in light of those precedents and criteria, this action is highly questionable and on the edge of impermissible in a number of respects but ultimately concludes that this means the whole thing is near that edge but nonetheless defensible. That’s a very questionable conclusion, to be sure, and will be hotly debated. And this hyper-legalistic approach shows no sign of even attempting to honor the president’s constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” What this memo concludes is that the president is probably doing the bare minimum required to plausibly remain within the law in this case. But more importantly, this is an answer to only one sort of question that needs to be asked about this sort action. This form of the question is the one the courts might take up if this executive action is put before them. 

If, however, we approach the Constitution as not simply an abstract and technical legal document but a whole political order in the real world, we would inquire into the legitimacy of this action by asking something like “can the president unilaterally exempt 40 percent of illegal immigrants from legal action and give them work permits?” And that question has to be considered in the context of tense inter-branch relations and a multi-decade immigration debate pursued through our normal constitutional process of lawmaking and in which the question of the status of the millions of people who entered the country illegally has been central. This form of the question is the one Congress has to take up, and it is hard to see how the answer could be anything but absolutely not. 

These are both plausible ways to pose the basic question of the legitimacy of this action, but they are very different questions and the difference highlights the nature of American constitutionalism. These are basically the ways in which the judicial and the legislative branches, respectively, need to think about extraordinary executive actions. In the context in which our two elected branches interact in the world, this executive action is an aggressive invasion of Congress’s turf and an attack on its prerogatives. The president can hardly avoid describing it that way in his own efforts to defend its legitimacy, and Congress cannot avoid seeing it that way except by an act of willful blindness. 

Congressional Democrats are clearly willing to engage in that willful blindness. They have been willing to do that throughout the Obama administration (when their partisan interests have been in tension with their institutional interests), including in instances when the president described them and their institution as unnecessary. Their willingness to abandon the institutional prerogatives of the Congress has been one of the more distressing features of the politics of the last few years. But congressional Republicans (whose partisan interests have been aligned with their institutional interests in the last six years but not the prior eight) have not done all that much better. They have been guilty of turning over congressional power to the executive in recent decades nearly as much as the Democrats, and the means their leadership has chosen to respond to the most serious provocations of this sort in the Obama years—a lawsuit in federal court—is obviously not well suited to a view of the Constitution as more than a legal document. 

To recover their prerogatives, they will need to recover a fuller sense of the constitutional system and their role in it. That doesn’t mean shutting down the government and taking maximal measures at every instance, but it does mean asserting their constitutional authority and looking for ways to use it to push back in an effort to advance their own understanding of what the proper balance should be. 

That suggests that the congressional response to this presidential action cannot be nothing. To begin with, the Congress cannot actively acquiesce in this measure by funding it. At the very least, when the House passes a funding bill to get the government into next year it should exclude funding for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services from that bill—as that is the agency that will be primarily responsible for carrying out this order. The House could then fund that agency through a separate measure that specifically prohibits USCIS from carrying out the president’s directive. Presumably Senate Democrats (or barring that, the president) would kill that second measure. But would they kill the first, denying funding to the entire government to protect the small USCIS line item? 

They would have a particularly hard time doing so because USCIS is actually mostly self-funded (through fees paid by the immigrants using its services). Regular appropriation covers only about 5 percent of its funding in most years (an amount that has hovered around $120 million of annual appropriations in recent years), so the practical effect of a continuing resolution that excluded such funding would be fairly small. The administration could still work to carry out the president’s directive by moving money around within the agency—prioritizing illegal immigrants even further over those who are following the rules, if they so chose. But Congress would not be funding the implementation of this order. It simply cannot make itself an accomplice in its own defenestration. 

Some have argued that the fact that USCIS is largely self-funded is a barrier to this kind of move because it means Republicans can’t defund the new directive. But I think that its being largely fee-funded is an advantage, because it means that even in this Congress, with Democrats still in control of the Senate, there is an opportunity for Republicans to assert some of Congress’s authority and to avoid congressional complicity in this presidential transgression. It is a move Democrats could probably live with, yet one that sends a clear first message of response in this confrontation the president has initiated. That’s a good thing. 

That much at least, or something like it, seems simply necessary. As to other measures of response, Republicans should consider them individually and prudentially. Maybe that should mean that the next congress formally censures the president for this action, or declines to act on some of his nominees until he reverses it (particularly those for positions, like the Attorney General, who might have some say over future decisions about executive power). Other measures and opportunities will no doubt present themselves as the new congress gets going too. These will not enable the Congress to force a presidential reversal. There appears to be no readily achievable way to do that at this point. That’s not the end of the world. But ultimately the response this requires is a reassertion of congressional authority in its proper sphere. It’s not a now-or-never situation and it’s not an all-or-nothing war. It is a struggle for balance in a system of divided powers. That means it must be an ongoing effort: Blind zealotry in its pursuit is not practically wise, but passivity (of the sort that has become the hallmark of Republican leaders in Congress) is not an option. Congress must find a middle way. That’s what it means to play a part in our constitutional system. 

It is important to see that passivity by the party’s leaders leads not just to underreaction but also to overreaction. I wonder if, even now, Republican congressional leaders have come to terms with the fact that it was their passivity—their unwillingness to propose a strategy and open an internal discussion about how to proceed—that made last year’s counterproductive shut-down fight possible. All and nothing are not the only options for Congress when it considers how much of its power and attention to put into the defense of its institutional prerogatives or into the pursuit of important policy objectives, but finding defensible ground between all and nothing requires the party in power to look for it. 

The stakes are high. Our constitutional system is falling further out of balance in the direction of presidential excess, and it is so not only because of this president and prior ones but also because of this congress and prior ones. For many years now, under different leaders of different parties, the Congress has been ceding power to the president. A move like the executive action President Obama announced last night is a natural consequence of such a trend—it happened not because Congress declined to pass an unwise immigration bill but because the president could imagine that he had the authority to change the nation’s immigration policy himself. That consequence of congressional weakness should also be a wake-up call for Congress. And bringing the system back into balance will require members of Congress to see themselves as charged with doing so—and to understand the Constitution as the purview not only of lawyers and judges but also of the legislature, the executive, and the public. 

That’s how our republic works. 

NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), November 22 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

Andy Cohen [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

Andy Cohen joins us along with panelists Paula Poundstone, Amy Dickinson, and P.J. O'Rourke.

Chinese president Xi Jinping signs five agreements with Fiji as part of China's Pacific engagement strategy [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Chinese president Xi Jinping has signed five agreements with Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama, with the aim of strengthening economic and strategic ties with Pacific island nations.

Tagata o te Moana for 22 November 2014 [RNZ: Tagata o te Moana]

Solomon Islands voters toss out their prime minister; Tongans get ready to go to the polls; More work ahead to achieve a coup-free Fiji; Head of Fiji police says he'll act against any cover up; Somare bid for damages over his dumping as PM; Mobile eye clinic for Fiji a first; Solomons world heritage East Rennell listed as critical

College Radio Watch: Why I Tour College Radio Stations [Radio Survivor]

I’ve written up 68 radio station tours since 2008 and have probably visited close to 100 stations total. Nearly 50 of those visits were to college radio stations all over the country (plus a few in Ireland). My goal has always been to spread the gospel of college radio to not only the masses, but […]

The post College Radio Watch: Why I Tour College Radio Stations appeared first on Radio Survivor.

LPFM News: Chicago Independent Radio Project To Take Off [Radio Survivor]

Updated with quote from CHIRP General Manager Shawn Campbell, below. Just eight more low-power FM construction permits were issued in the last week, bringing the total to 1,476. Yesterday Matthew reported on the new LPFM station bringing an interesting mix of alternative and public bilingual programming to Bisbee, AZ. There are two more new stations […]

The post LPFM News: Chicago Independent Radio Project To Take Off appeared first on Radio Survivor.

BREAKING: Ferguson Grand Jury fails to reach a decision [RedState]

ferguson grand jury
Via the Washington Times:

The Ferguson, Mo., grand jury considering the indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, who killed teenager Michael Brown during an altercation in August, left the justice center in St. Louis on Friday without reaching a decision.

Sources told CNN on Saturday that it was unclear when the jury would reconvene.

The post BREAKING: Ferguson Grand Jury fails to reach a decision appeared first on RedState.

USA Today Reporter Susan Davis gets a bad rap [RedState]

Susan Davis

Many of us have been aware of the travails of former CBS reporter Sharyl Atkisson who had her reporting on Fast & Furious suppressed by her employer because it got perilously close to the truth of the matter. A new batch of documents turned over to Judicial Watch pursuant to a court order shows us the extent to which Atkisson was drawing blood at the upper levels of the lawless Department of Justice. For instance, this response to one of Atkisson’s reports:


This makes it obvious that the administration’s lackeys in Justice were not content to simply press their case with a reporter, if a reporter displeased them then they went after your livelihood. This, of course, goes hand-in-glove with what we know of how GE’s Jeffrey Immelt used his power to ruin the careers of reporters at NBC and CNBC to make them go easy on Obama and Obamacare.

As part of this document dump another name came to light: Susan Davis, who at the time covered Congress for National Journal and now works for USA Today:

Here we see that Justice is prepping Davis with derogatory information on Republican Congressman Darrell Issa who chaired the committee investigating Fast & Furious. The linkage between Fast & Furious coverage and a intended planted media hit on Mr. Issa is pretty obvious when the context of the email exchange is examined.

A lot of people have jumped, justifiably to the conclusion that Davis was a willing ally of the administration in its long running attempt to protect Holder by discrediting Issa. This perception is bolstered by the fact that Davis’s profile of Issa has disappeared from the internet. (more on that in a bit)

So what did Susan Davis write about Darrell Issa? Let’s go to T. Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner:

A USA Today reporter on Friday pushed back on suggestions she coordinated with White House and Justice Department officials in 2011 to “target” House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., challenging comments made earlier this week by the president of right-leaning watchdog group.

Susan Davis, who reported for National Journal at the time of the supposed “targeting,” told the Washington Examiner: “In 2011, I was assigned a profile by my then employer National Journal. I spoke to many sources in the course of reporting the story, including Darrell Issa. Neither the White House nor DOJ approached me about this story, rather I contacted them in the course of my own reporting.”

Using the cache of Davis’s personal blog he was able to retrieve a copy of the profile. The issue the administration was pimping was alleged leaks of Fast & Furious documents from Issa’s committee. Allegedly one or more of these “leaks” compromised an ongoing investigation. Which raises a couple of questions. Like why wasn’t the information redacted before giving access to a House committee? And, given the general lawlessness of Holder’s Justice Department, why was this a bad thing?

On the leaks, which is the issue that the administration was furiously pimping at the time, she writes:

But the House chairman’s flamboyant tactics raised questions about his judgment. To bolster the case against ATF, his staff released an insufficiently redacted bureau report that revealed confidential information about a person still under investigation and about court-approved wiretaps and surveillance efforts.

How much damage the breach did to the ongoing criminal investigation is unclear. But Justice Department officials pounced on the goof, implying that Issa’s investigation was jeopardizing their work.

“The committee’s oversight activities in this matter have already risked undermining, albeit unintentionally, the independence, integrity, and effectiveness of the department’s criminal investigations,” Assistant Attorney Ronald Welch charged at a hearing in June.

Issa didn’t back down. “Some [critics], which are Democrats, are disingenuous,” he asserted, noting that only one gunrunner had been charged with a significant crime, everyone else was out on bail, and many of them would serve no more than one year if convicted. “You can’t call that a serious ongoing [criminal] investigation in that sense, and that’s pretty clear,” Issa toldNJ.

Hardly an unfair characterization of the issue.

So, if the administration was counting on Davis to harm Issa, they were certainly disappointed. And it is a testament to the degree to which Obama and Holder have poisoned the discourse that virtually no one on our side felt the need to actually review Davis’s story. Her name appearing in the emails was sufficient to convict.

The memory-holing of Davis’s story is more troubling. Davis, in her interview with the Washington says:

Davis’ Issa profile is not readily available online, she told the Washington Examiner, because it is behind a paywall. A Lexis search for the article successfully produced the profile in its entirety.

Charitably, this is bull****

When you follow from any of the number of stories on the Judicial Watch emails to Davis’s story you get:



This is Davis’s personal site and hardly paywalled. It is also the site where Adams found his copy of the article.

So you can Google Davis and the name of the article “The Overseer” and you find this


But the link dead ends and a search for the exact text string comes up empty, too.

Well, okay, if it isn’t at the link it is undoubtedly in the National Journal archives. Davis left NJ for USA Today in November, 2011, so a quick look finds: Nothing. And, I have to note that the article in question was written for National Journal and its archives are not paywalled. You can access any of Davis’s pieces from that time for free.

It is unfortunate, because one is led to the inescapable conclusion that someone did try to delete the article from the internet and that gave the illusion that Davis’s critics were right, that she was a hired gun for the administration.


The post USA Today Reporter Susan Davis gets a bad rap appeared first on RedState.

It’s Not What He Did, But How He Did It [RedState]


Most of you are opposed to what Barack Obama did, but if you step back for a minute you will see it is not what he did, but how he did it.

What Obama did is unpopular with a majority of Americans, but he is right that what he did has bipartisan approval in Congress. Nonetheless, the House of Representatives chose not to act in the same what Senate Democrats refused to let the Keystone XL Pipeline out of debate for a vote on passage. The Constitution allows both Houses of Congress to set their own rules and the House followed its rules.

So it is not what Barack Obama did, but how he did it. He had no power to do it. Congress, under Article 1, sets the rules for immigration and naturalization. Those rules require certain things happen. Barack Obama, as President under Article 2 of the Constitution, is required to faithfully execute the law. He is, in effect, telling several million people that it does not matter that they ignored the parameters the Congress set.

He cannot do that.

Barack Obama swore an oath that he “will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of [his] Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

He has violated that oath. He has exceeded the authority of the Presidential powers in the Constitution.

That, therefore, requires Congress to act to restrain him and put him back within the proper boundaries. They have two options at their disposal. They could impeach him, which won’t happen. They do not have the votes and it would be a nuclear option when one is not needed.

The other option is the power of the purse. They can restrain him. But instead, Congress has decided it will fund the government, including the Executive Branch, and then come back in January and try to undo the funding they’re going to do after Thanksgiving. They are, in effect, going to fund Barack Obama’s overreach, then do a publicity stunt of a vote claiming they’re going to try to undo it.

Congress too is sworn to protect and defend the Constitution. According to Article 6 of the Constitution, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution”.

The House of Representatives’ full oath is as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

They have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

President Obama’s actions are an affront to our constitutional order. Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. John BoehnerN/AHouse Republican AverageSee Full ScorecardN/A‘s own office has documented the twenty-two times Barack Obama said he could not ignore or create immigration law.

Just as Barack Obama has violated his oath of office, the House and Senate are violating their oath of office by not fighting Barack Obama and restraining him. The power of the purse gives them that ability. The only option, short of impeachment, is not passing a continuing resolution that will fund Barack Obama’s actions. That may lead to a government shut down.

But if their oath is to mean anything, they must do it. They cannot pass a continuing resolution that would essentially fund Barack Obama’s constitution usurpation.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that neither Republicans nor Democrats care about the constitutional order. The political order has taken precedence. And while Republicans are pounding their chests that we now have a constitutional crisis, they showed they do not really believe it by packing up and leaving Washington immediately after the President acted.

They are going through an elaborate dance to convince the public they care, when really they privately agree with the outcome.

You are being played. And Republicans are playing you for the fool. They have left Washington and will return in two weeks to fund Barack Obama’s constitutional overreach.

The post It’s Not What He Did, But How He Did It appeared first on RedState.

IRS Scandal: Investigators Uncover Lois Lerner’s E-mails in Data [RedState]

Here at Redstate, we’ve already talked about how Lois Lerner’s assertion that her and her colleague’s e-mails were lost when their hard drives were “mysteriously” destroyed is a load of bunk. We also know that the e-mails probably exist in the government’s back-up system, although the relevant bureaucrats are just too lazy to go through the files and find them.

Now, the Treasury Inspector General in charge of the IRS has dealt another blow to Lerner and the Obama administration’s original story. Federal investigators now claim to have found the data for 30,000 of the relevant e-mails in their search. The Washington Examiner broke the news:

Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.

The IRS, in a statement provided to the Examiner, said the agency and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is fully cooperating with the investigation.

“As Commissioner Koskinen has stated, the IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis.” The IRS statement said. “Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found.

Here’s video of the report from the Examiner:

It does remain to be seen whether the e-mails can actually be fully recovered in this data, but this is nevertheless a huge story. Even if only 1/10th of the e-mails can be recovered, that will be a huge step forward in the quest for the truth. This find by federal investigators could blow the entire scandal open, and with a Republican House and Senate in the 114th Congress, this is the best opportunity we’ve had to investigate the issue. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Darrell Issa55%House Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard55% won’t be heading up the House Oversight Committee after this year, but Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Jason Chaffetz70%House Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard70% looks poised and eager to continue in his stead. Between this and “>the 64,000 pages of Fast and Furious documents the Department of Justice recently turned over to Congress, Republicans should have a lot of reasons to hold the Obama administration accountable for its actions during the first six years of his Presidency.

The post IRS Scandal: Investigators Uncover Lois Lerner’s E-mails in Data appeared first on RedState.

HHS contemplating rule allowing them to choose your Obamacare plan for you. [RedState]

At this rate, the 2016 DEMOCRATIC candidate will run on repealing Obamacare:

Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier.

Essentially, this is insurance-determination-via-bureaucracy: Reason argues that the goal here is to cut down embarrassing premium hikes to policies without having to turn off the imposition of auto-renewal rules… OK, let me back up here.  Obamacare currently has auto-renewal enabled on its policies, because without it the signup and membership rate would probably slow, or even decrease.  The problem here is that auto-renewal also means lots and lots of future stories about people signing up for policies and suddenly discovering that their rates have gone through the roof.  Ostensibly the idea to prevent that is to expect consumers to change policies every year – trust a bureaucrat to think that this would be a thing that people would cheerfully do* – and if they won’t do it on their own, well, let the benevolent hand of HHS do it for them**.  What could possibly go wrong?

If you answered A new insurance plan every year, with new paperwork, new networks, new co-pays, new restrictions, new exemptions, and we’re assuming that critical, ultimately highly expensive documents don’t end up in Des Moines with distressing regularity? What can’t go wrong? – congratulations!  You exist in the real world.  Which is somewhere that Obamacare in general, and HHS in particular, only seem to be sporadically manifesting in these days.

Via Instapundit.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Health insurance is scary because being sick is scary, and people do not like to think about scary things.  So when they have a policy that they like, they want to keep it because then they can stop thinking about the scary thing.  This is, by the way, not a silly or unreasonable desire to have, much to the disgust of Obamacare’s more sociopathic boosters: people should be allowed quiet enjoyment of their lives whenever possible.  Unfortunately, nobody told the Democratic party leadership that.

**Reason updated with a note that the government was also contemplating letting the user choose the default status of his or her auto-enrollment.  This will be leaped upon by many a suddenly-nervous Obamacare advocate, and never mind that changing the default could be as simple a method as finding the form on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’***.

***Classical reference.

The post HHS contemplating rule allowing them to choose your Obamacare plan for you. appeared first on RedState.

Help The Poor. Block the Amnesty [RedState]

He Works For Nobody Else In America

He Works For Nobody Else In America

There are people out there who genuinely appreciate all that President Obama has done since he found the American crown adrift in the gutter back in 2008. The TaxProf blog explains who these fortunate individuals are below.

12,040 new ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals were minted this year, pushing the global UHNW population to a record 211,275, a 6% increase from 2013. The combined wealth of the world’s UHNW individuals – defined as those with US$30 million and above in net assets – increased by 7% to US$29.725 trillion in 2014, almost twice the GDP of the world’s largest economy, the United States.

It was in the interest of all of his newly-minted billionaire buddies that the president chose to act decisively on immigration and legalize 5 million individuals who came to the United States illegally. The President explains his latest act of corporate welfare below.

Administration officials estimate approximately 5 million people could apply for temporary protected status that would require a background check and hefty application fees. Those eligible could legally work in the United States for up to three years. Because Obama’s administrative changes can be erased by the next president, advocates believe many who are eligible will think long and hard before stepping forward. Lifting some existing DACA restrictions will make 270,000 more people eligible for enforcement discretion under Obama’s waivers. Including undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents opens the door to another 4 million people, according to the administration.

Barack Obama’s editorial Cheerleader Paul Krugman, makes an argument that we should appreciate this as a humane initiative. He explains that we are doing for the children.

First, there are more than a million young people in this country who came — yes, illegally — as children and have lived here ever since. Second, there are large numbers of children who were born here — which makes them U.S. citizens, with all the same rights you and I have — but whose parents came illegally, and are legally subject to being deported. What should we do about these people and their families? There are some forces in our political life who want us to bring out the iron fist — to seek out and deport young residents who weren’t born here but have never known another home, to seek out and deport the undocumented parents of American children and force those children either to go into exile or to fend for themselves.

Yes Dr. Krugman, suffer the children; but just whose children do we make suffer? We are bringing 5 million new people into a labor force that has the lowest civilian participation rate that we’ve had in nearly 4 decades. We are opening the country to more people, in complete violation of our laws; when there simply is not gainful economic employment available for the people we already have. Glenn Reynolds links to the following data from the WSJ.

The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis. Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.

To understand who exactly benefits from this policy, we need to keep in mind who benefits from the influx low-skill, low wage labor into the current US economy. An economist that both Paul Krugman and President Obama undoubtedly have great admiration for explained the following :

“Relative surplus-population is therefore the pivot upon which the law of demand and supply of labour works.” The availability of labour influences wage rates, and the larger the unemployed workforce grows, the more this forces down wage rates; conversely, if there are plenty jobs available and unemployment is low, this tends to raise the average level of wages—in that case workers are able to change jobs rapidly to get better pay. – Karl Marx, “Wages,” December 1847

So who really gets served by this amnesty being proposed by President Obama? Who really has been served by the entire Goldbama Sachs Presidency? We know whose assets have increased since The Goldman One took office. We know what has happened to the rest of the workforce. In any good piece of detective fiction, the inspector has to ask himself “Qui Bono?” It’s always being run for the 1%. The ones that Barack Obama has helped occupy Wall Street.

In forcing this executive amnesty down the throats of the American People; our president has indeed been a good, little Ivy League radical and read his Karl Marx. It’s just that he uses it as a playbook on how to enrich his billionaire donors rather than a critique on the abuses of unconstrained capital. It’s always the Working Class American who pays in freedom, blood and treasure any time a Liberal “Man of The People” occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The post Help The Poor. Block the Amnesty appeared first on RedState.

Tech at Night: Weekend Update [RedState]

Tech at Night

I’m not going to say I’m tired of writing about Title II Reclassification, the scheme promoted by the extreme left to place the Internet under 1930s-era regulation, since the courts have slapped down twice previous Net Neutrality attempts.

But I’m running out of ways to say the power grab, now backed by the President, is a terrible idea that attempts to dig deeper down the hole we’re in of a failed big government regulatory scheme.

FCC should let the Congress handle it instead of messing around itself.

Fortunately intimidation tactics against Tom Wheeler have not yet worked, though it’s likely the Obama FCC will try something, as they’re already getting ready to get sued.

Speaking of which, the meddling FCC lost yet again in court.

Meanwhile, I suspect the Congress could have pretty easily passed an interstate compact letting sales tax states get together and collect tax across borders. Instead the big box retailers overreached, and pushed a bill that is probably not going to pass now because it tried to rope in unwilling states, and even states that don’t have sales tax at all, which awakened some fierce opposition from the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Ted Cruz94%Senate Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard94%. Now the House won’t pass it.

Proponents of the plan went into states like Virginia and conditioned tax hikes or tax cuts on passage of the bill. Now it won’t pass, thanks to the overreach, and now those doomsday bills will happen. Oops.

I think that many states have growing tax issues now, as the Internet has changed the structure of commerce in a way that actually will require tax hikes to address, if we don’t let the states get together on this. But they have to avoid an overreach next time. Make it a voluntary interstate compact.

The post Tech at Night: Weekend Update appeared first on RedState.

Seriously, the DNC needs to fire its social media squad over this ‘ethnic cleansing’ own-goals. [RedState]

As my readers may remember, yesterday the Democratic party managed to get itself put in a bad place by its own social media squad over ‘ethnic cleansing’ (basically, said squad turned a talk radio caller into the Voice of the Republican Party, because we’ve relentlessly given the Democratic party nothing better to work with this cycle). The Daily Caller covered this as well: it contained the phrase ‘no member of Congress from either party has made that claim or threat.’ When I read that last night, I assumed at first that it was a rhetorical trap, because decided that it wasn’t.  Surely nobody on the Democrats’ side would be stupid enough to try to keep arguing that a call-in comment on a radio talk show was actually a statement made by a federal Representative or Senator.

Well, those social media geniuses over at Team Democrat managed to double down on stupid.  Here’s Derek Hunter’s update to his post:

One flack said of [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach, “who as you know is a prominent voice in the GOP.” In all honesty, I had to look up who he was, so “prominent voice” is open to interpretation. [*] Finally, the words “no Member of Congress” precede what they’re complaining about. Last time I checked the Secretary of State of Kansas, or any other state, is not a Member of Congress. The DNC asked for an update to this post, so here is their update.

Derek looks forward to using this precedent to justify smacking around the Democrats every time one of their state politicians says something.  So will I: but there’s also more that I want to talk about here. This is part of a larger problem that the Democrats are having right now.

The difficulty for the Left right now is that they think that they know how to use social media, but do not actually know how to use it.  It’s not entirely their fault: the first real mainstreaming of social media took place during a Democratic peak in our perpetual two-party cycle, so it was legitimately difficult at the time to tell the difference between a legitimately successful political marketing strategy, and one that just happened to be successful because St. Peter and the Apostles would have had trouble getting elected as Republicans in 2006.  Fortunately, it’s easier now, because the Democrats haven’t particularly changed their basic rhetorical style since then, and it shows**.

This is relevant because the 2014 election was largely about how the GOP decided to change up its messaging and outreach, while the Democrats continued to use social media like a paramedic uses a defibrillator – and that choice of simile was deliberate.  The ‘Republicans are awful and we’re saying that they’re saying bad things!’ strategy worked perfectly well in 2006 and 2008: so would have sending a variant of that message twenty times a day to Democratic email lists.  Didn’t work in 2010, but Democrats told themselves that it did in 2012*** …and it went thoroughly pear-shaped for the Democrats in 2014, to the point where they’re no more than two or three more social media disasters away from changing their procedures.

But they’re not there yet, as the above ‘push-back’ from the DNC demonstrates.  Professional tip: if your opponent says None of my party’s Congressmen ever said such a thing! and you reply by saying Ha! You fail! It was a minor statewide official from your party who said that!, then you have not actually pushed back on your opponent’s statement.  You have, in fact, confirmed it.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: If I thought that the Democrats would listen to me, I wouldn’t actually write anything.

*The snipped part here is of Derek reasonably pointing out that Kobach’s comments were pretty much warped by the DNC, and him providing a link to the original talk radio show.

**One of the nice things about our current power imbalance in the media is that Republicans can never fully relax.  This is admittedly stressful, but at least we’re usually at least wary.

***It did not, but that’s a whole other post.

The post Seriously, the DNC needs to fire its social media squad over this ‘ethnic cleansing’ own-goals. appeared first on RedState.

This Is Awkward [Small Dead Animals]

Saskatoon NDP Councillor Pat Lorje "facing sanctions after leaking confidential documents".

You Clever Matchmaker, Gaia! [Small Dead Animals]

ABC News;

Afton Burton left her parents' home in Illinois at age 19 to move to California, where she could be closer to Manson, Burton said.

It was Manson's work as an environmentalist that drew her daughter into him, according to Burton.

"He's an environmentalist, and she's involved in his environmentalist program," Burton said.

(I amuse myself...)

Your Moral And Intellectual Superiors [Small Dead Animals]


The New York Times edited out all mentions of a statement made by secretary of state John Kerry that condemned Palestinian leaders for calling for "days of rage" against Israel and called the synagogue attack "an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder."

An analysis of the New York Times in the Times of Israel shows that parts of this statement that initially appeared in stories regarding the terrorist attack were scrubbed from the stories before the paper went to print.

The Right Stuff [Small Dead Animals]

Meet Dillon Hillier.

Last weekend, the 26-year-old infantryman left Calgary and flew to northeastern Iraq to help Kurdish fighters fend off the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham. "I just felt it was the right thing to do since they're facing some pretty tough times," he said in an interview.

The first veteran of the Canadian military known to have joined Kurdish forces battling ISIS, Mr. Hillier is part of a growing number of Western volunteers heading to the region to participate in the fight against the armed extremists.

"I look at what I'm doing as no different than when thousands of Canadians went to fight the Germans in World War II," said Mr. Hillier, who served in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. "And I think ISIS is far more barbaric."

h/t Jamie

Reader Tips [Small Dead Animals]

In tonight's hockey-themed amusement en route to the tips, Fox Sports' Patrick O'Neal interviews someone other than goaltender Ben Scrivens.

The comments are open, as always, for your Reader Tips.

"When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal" [Small Dead Animals]

Must be Friday;

Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of "disaster recovery tapes" that were used to back up the IRS email system.

Neil Gaiman, Daniel Handler, give the gift of reading for the 2014 National Book Awards [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

What makes a great writer? How about the forbearance and humility to stand in Washington Square on a freezing morning and give away free books to a random crowd of the reading public? Because that’s what Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) did for the National Book Foundation’s Great Book Giveaway, organized with […]

The post Neil Gaiman, Daniel Handler, give the gift of reading for the 2014 National Book Awards appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Android latest: Lollipop does not suck [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

My first-generation Nexus 7 tablet recently updated itself to the latest version of the Android OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop, thanks to Google’s commitment to keep the entire Nexus system abreast of the latest developments in its platform. And so far at least, despite some other reports to the contrary, the experience has been almost entirely […]

The post Android latest: Lollipop does not suck appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Saltire Society’s Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland ballot includes great Scottish women writers [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Scottish cultural and intellectual advocacy body the Saltire Society is approaching the culmination of a near year-long campaign to find the Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland, still open for formal nominations until St. Andrews Day, Sunday 30th November. The list has already attracted a slate of some of Scotland’s – and the UK’s – most […]

The post Saltire Society’s Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland ballot includes great Scottish women writers appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Culture CLASH: Wuzhen Declaration spurned at World Internet Conference in China [The Register]

Positive energy zapped, cyberspace shivers

Analysis  As you might expect, China's first global internet conference was a particularly Chinese affair.…

Pitchfork-wielding villagers hunt hairy shapeshifters in One Night Ultimate Werewolf [The Register]

Do you have a cunning plan?

Board game review  El Reg contributor Adam Fowler brings to these pages the first in what may become a series of board game reviews. Here, Adam dices with furry beasts in One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Watch out!

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Bryndzové halušky [The Register]

Slovakia's finest, featuring spuds, cheese and ... BACON

It's onwards and eastwards this week with our post-pub nosh neckfiller as we travel to Slovakia in search of bryndzové halušky.…

What We Do In The Shadows? Laugh ourselves silly, mostly [The Register]

Vampire mockumentary is brilliant fish-out-of-water fun

Film Review  It’s hard to believe that What We Do In The Shadows has been eight years in the making, given its spot-on, bang-up-to-date parody of both the vampire obsession and found footage/fake documentary style movies.…

UK's non-emergency police and NHS Vodafone systems go titsup NATIONWIDE [The Register]

101 and 111 collapse due to technical gaffe

Updated  Britain's non-emergency telephone numbers for the police (101) and the NHS (111) have collapsed nationwide.…

Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle! [The Register]

Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service

Yahoo! has apologised to customers, some of whom have been unable to access their email accounts since Thursday, after an underwater fibre cable was mistakenly severed.…

Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM [The Register]

First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT

¡Bong! Extra  Why can’t Old Media just accept we have it beaten, lie down and die? It’s taking forever. Nothing saddened me more this week than reading that bold new data journalism initiatives from Uber were being shot down before they had even reached Seed stage.…

Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK [The Register]

... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...

Vulture at the Wheel  This is the most sensible car you can buy. That's not necessarily a good thing. The Ford B-Max takes all the things you’d look for in practicality and turns them up to 11. However, in doing so it turns emotion down to zero.…

Pervert's Guide man's new book, an urban myths tome and Youth, an underrated gem [The Register]

Some juicy reads for your weekend

Page File  El Reg bookworm Mark Diston trawls through at publishing's top notch texts. Bad boy philosopher Slavoj Žižek puts Russell Brand in the shade with his latest cultural critique, while urban mythmeister Jan Harold Brunvand has revised his entertaining and enduring tome that's a goldmine for comedians and sketch writers alike. And we've a new translation of German literary great, Wolfgang Koeppen.

BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from? [The Register]

Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config

Episode 13 

'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT [The Register]

Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned

QuoTW  This was the week when hacktivist collective Anonymous decided to take on the Ku Klux Klan after a local chapter of the white supremacist group threatened protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.…

I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh! [The Register]

Welcome to the age of the self-crashing car

Something for the Weekend, Sir?  “Why are Volvos called Volvos? Because their drivers are cunts.”…

Leaked screenshots show next Windows kernel to be a perfect 10 [The Register]

Not since Vista has this happened

Microsoft surprised us by upping its Windows product numbering from 8.1 straight to 10, and now it appears it's planning to make an even greater leap in the version numbering of the Windows kernel itself.…

HP boss Meg Whitman shuffles exec pawns just before biz splits [The Register]

CEO aims to 'minimise disruption' of PC and printer break out while rivals sneer

HP CEO Meg Whitman has outlined a management re-org to steer the business toward an eventual split into two separate Fortune 50 firms, according to an internal memo seen by El Chan.…

Judge OKs $450m deal to end ebook price-hike row. But Apple just won't let it die [The Register]

Who's winning? The lawyers

A Manhattan judge has finally approved Apple's settlement in its long-running ebook price-fixing lawsuit: $400m will go to readers who paid over the odds, and $50m will go to the lawyers suing the iTunes Giant.…

Mozilla remembers 2013. Y'know, back when it still gobbled at the Google money-trough [The Register]

Firefox-maker's annual report shows costs rising, sales flat

The Mozilla Foundation has released its annual financial statement for 2013, and the numbers raise important questions about Mozilla's future, now that it has ended its longstanding funding relationship with Google.…

Europe may ask Herr Google: Would you, er, snap off your search engine? Pretty please [The Register]

Wenn es nicht zu viel Mühe Herr Schmidt

The European Parliament will reportedly consider pressuring, say, ad giant Google to snap off its search engine and move it away from its biz operations.…

First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you [The Register]

Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch

Motorola has issued a recall for an early batch of its hotly anticipated new Nexus 6 smartphones that were sold through US mobile carrier AT&T, owing to a software glitch that can reportedly causes the devices to boot to a black screen.…

Amazon warming up 'cheapo web video' cannon to SINK Netflix [The Register]

Web souk will tout new online telly biz in 2015, claim sources

Amazon is preparing a video-streaming service that will be stuffed with ads – and undercut rivals Netflix and Hulu Plus, it's been reported.…

That's all folks! US TV streaming upstart Aereo files for bankrupcy [The Register]

Big Media wins again

It's the end of the line for the TV streaming biz Aereo: it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and appointed a chief restructuring officer to extract some remaining value from its assets.…

It's 2014 and people are willing to blow $6.8m on things like Z.com [The Register]

Hey, has anyone thought about selling books online? Maybe a search engine with ads?

Z.com has been sold for $6.8m (£4.3m, 800m yen) to Japanese domain biz GMO Registry, putting it in the top ten of all-time domain name sales.…

Google Contributor: Ad-block killer – or proof NO ONE will pay for news? [The Register]

Make those annoying banners go away? Sure. But it'll cost ya

Google has offered to charge people a monthly subscription fee to read articles and gawp at photos online.…

New music recommendations: Pusha T, Colleen Green, TV on the Radio, and more [The Verge - All Posts]

Every week, a veritable flood of new music is released to the world, and with it the tyranny of choice rears its ugly head. There's only so many hours in the day, so where do you focus your listening energies? That's where our Verge New Music Recommendations come in: it's our entirely subjective, non-comprehensive attempt to throw the favorite new songs and albums we've stumbled upon this week your way. Of course, we're barely skimming the surface here — feel free to throw an auditory discoveries you've made this week in the comments, and get busy listening.

Continue reading…

Here are some of the best bloopers from 'Star Trek: TNG' season 7 [The Verge - All Posts]

Captain Jean-Luc Picard cursing up a storm. Commander Riker chasing an ensign down the Enterprise corridors. Season 7 of Star Trek: TNG must have been a wild time for the cast and crew. Uproxx got their hands on a clip from the upcoming Blu-ray, due out December 2nd, and it's absolutely hysterical. We just wonder what Worf is up to in all of this. Take a look.

Continue reading…

Sony asked the public to redesign its logo in 1981. It didn't work out. [The Verge - All Posts]

Once upon a time, Sony decided that its now-iconic logo was due for a redesign. The year was 1981, and Sony was on the cusp of a revolution — the first Walkman was released just 18 months earlier. What better time to redesign a logo dating from the ‘50s? But the company didn't enlist a design team to come up with a new logo. No, Sony decided to make the redesign a public spectacle.

It launched the so-called "Sony International Logotype Design Contest," and it took in nearly 30,000 submissions from around the world. A committee was formed and viewed every single entry before narrowing the list down to 59. The finalists were shown to the board of directors, company executives, designers, and sales managers. As executives were looking...

Continue reading…

The Weekender: on starfish, mind games, and 'The Shining' [The Verge - All Posts]

Good morning, and welcome back to The Weekender. Our weekend journey is just now starting, so thank you for choosing us for your travels. As you may recall, this was the 47th week of the year 2014 on the planet known colloquially as Earth, otherwise known as Terra in other inhabited star systems. It was not a quiet week, as you might imagine. Below you'll find your itinerary, carefully crafted for your pleasure; stories from the week passed and recommendations for the days ahead. Now. Please...

Continue reading…

Office Depot's Black Friday deals include $179.99 Dell and $159.99 Toshiba laptops [The Verge - All Posts]

Office Depot kicks off its Black Friday sales on Thursday, November 27th with deals on Dell and Toshiba computers, and a ton of Android tablets. The big attraction on Black Friday proper is a Toshiba laptop that's $120 off its normal price. More of the deals arrive on Thursday, including up to $300 off a Dell Inspiron notebook, up to $100 off some Samsung Galaxy Tab models, and a handy 20 percent off $50 worth of iTunes gift cards.

Continue reading…

Netflix picks up Tina Fey's first show since '30 Rock' [The Verge - All Posts]

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's first show since they made 30 Rock together, was supposed to be coming to NBC this Spring. That is, until tonight: Netflix just announced that it has picked up the show for two seasons and will premiere the 13-episode season this March in all Netflix territories. Kimmy Schmidt stars Ellie Kemper as the survivor of a doomsday cult who starts over in New York — yes, it's a comedy. The show also stars 30 Rock's Jane Krakowski, Titus Burgess, and Carol Kane (Fey, notably, is not billed a regular cast member).

NBC seems very supportive of the move. This is NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt:

"When the opportunity arose for Tina Fey and Robert Carlock to premiere their new...

Continue reading…

Microsoft is bringing chat to its Word and PowerPoint web apps [The Verge - All Posts]

Collaborating with co-workers using Office Online is about to get a bit easier: Microsoft is bringing chat to the web versions of Word and PowerPoint. Sorry, Excel users: it seems you can't yet chat while working on spreadsheets, nor does the feature support OneNote. The Skype-powered chat is more or less the same thing Microsoft has already rolled out across Outlook.com and OneDrive. And since Skype's the backbone, you can always review your conversations using Microsoft's app at a later time when the document's closed. Chat should be a nice complement to the real-time editing that Microsoft brought to its Office web apps in 2013. Google offers group chat functionality in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, but its approach differs in that...

Continue reading…

Before protests, Hong Kong news sites were hit with the largest DDoS ever [The Verge - All Posts]

While protestors were filling the streets of Hong Kong, there was another kind of gridlock flooding the city's independent media sites. A new report from Forbes says the protests saw the largest denial-of-service attacks on record, reaching up to 500 gigabits per second according to the web optimization network CloudFlare. The attacks started in June, targeting independent news site Apple Daily before moving on to the similar PopVote outlet. Amplifying traffic by triggering IP lookups, the attackers were able to generate traffic significantly larger than the notorious Spamhaus attacks of last year.

Continue reading…

Howard the Duck has officially made a comeback [The Verge - All Posts]

The world has forgiven Howard the Duck. What started as a bizarre 1973 tale of a grumpy anthropomorphic drake surviving in an otherwise normal human world eventually became one of the biggest bombs in film history. Howard's appeared here or there since then, including a limited run in 2007. But then he took center stage this past summer in Guardians of the Galaxy's bizarre post-credits scene — a move that Marvel has consistently used as a platform to promote something — and now we know why.

Marvel is bringing Howard the Duck back in a comic book series launching this March by Chip...

Continue reading…

Barack Obama still uses a BlackBerry [The Verge - All Posts]

Sure, Obama billed himself as the first "BlackBerry President" during his first presidential campaign, but that was in 2008, everyone. Unless he's signed a deal to be the company's latest Creative Director it's probably time to step into the future — if an iPad is good enough for the Oval Office, surely something can be worked out for his phone?

Continue reading…

The DoJ And Sharyl Atkisson [Transterrestrial Musings]

Oopsie. Looks like they released that email to Judicial Watch by accident. Now time to back and demand all the other emails that contained her name that they held back.

Rethinking Immigration [Transterrestrial Musings]

Why Michael Barone has changed his mind about “comprehensive” reform.


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