Thursday, April 30, 2015

Out of market game

Paying attention to diplomatic relations between Australia and Indonesia is a lot like watching a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars -- it's probably interesting if you make the effort to watch it, but why would you? As it happens, Walter Russell Mead has the play-by-play:
Indonesia executed eight people accused of drug trafficking, including two Australians, as part of President Joko Widodo’s “war on drugs”. Australian officials had made personal appeals for clemency from Indonesia’s government, but it all came to naught yesterday, when a firing squad carried out the state’s sentence and shot the convicts dead.

The official response from Australia was carefully measured outrage.
We don't pay a lot of attention to Indonesia, but we should. Back to Mead:
Australia knows that it needs good relations with its neighbor—for one thing, to help control what could otherwise be a tsunami of illegal immigration by desperate boat people—and Australian politicians of both of the major parties work hard to keep the relationship strong. But Australian public opinion sometimes chafes at what this means.

Far from fading away, these problems are likely in some ways to grow more serious. Indonesian Islam has traditionally taken a relaxed view on many social issues; that is beginning to change as more conservative strains of Islam gain ground. And the Indonesians, with the world’s fourth largest population and a rapidly growing economy, aren’t always averse to throwing their weight around on the diplomatic scene.
Keep an eye on this one.

That wacky Alito

Not that it matters much, but I found this exchange amusing. It's between Justice Samuel Alito and one of the lawyers arguing the same-sex marriage case:

 Justice Samuel Alito: Suppose we rule in your favor in this case and then after that, a group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license. Would there be any ground for denying them a license?

Mary Bonauto: I believe so, Your Honor.

Alito: What would be the reason?

Bonauto: There'd be two. One is whether the State would even say that that is such a thing as a marriage, but then beyond that, there are definitely going to be concerns about coercion and consent and disrupting family relationships when you start talking about multiple persons. But I want to also just go back to the wait and see question for a moment, if I may. Because—

Justice Antonin Scalia: Well, I didn't understand your answer.

Alito: Yes. I hope you will come back to mine. If you want to go back to the earlier one –

Bonauto: No, no.

Alito: -- then you can come back to mine.

Bonauto: Well, that's what -- I mean, that is -- I mean, the State –

Alito: Well, what if there's no -- these are 4 people, 2 men and 2 women, it's not--it's not the sort of polygamous relationship, polygamous marriages that existed in other societies and still exist in some societies today. And let's say they're all consenting adults, highly educated. They're all lawyers. What would be the ground under--under the logic of the decision you would like us to hand down in this case? What would be the logic of denying them the same right?
I bet that would be a fun household. Lawyer Bonauto has an answer that doesn't really address the question:
Bonauto: Number one, I assume the States would rush in and say that when you're talking about multiple people joining into a relationship, that that is not the same thing that we've had in marriage, which is on the mutual support and consent of two people. Setting that aside, even assuming it is within the fundamental right –

Alito: But--well, I don't know what kind of a distinction that is because a marriage between two people of the same sex is not something that we have had before, recognizing that is a substantial break. Maybe it's a good one. So this is no -- why is that a greater break?

Bonauto: The question is one of--again, assuming it's within the fundamental right, the question then becomes one of justification. And I assume that the States would come in and they would say that there are concerns about consent and coercion. If there's a divorce from the second wife, does that mean the fourth wife has access to the child of the second wife? There are issues around who is it that makes the medical decisions, you know, in the time of crisis. I assume there'd be lots of family disruption issues, setting aside issues of coercion and consent and so on that just don't apply here, when we're talking about two consenting adults who want to make that mutual commitment for as long as they shall be. So that's my answer on that.
Spike Jones had this one figured out a long time ago. This is a strange video, but pay attention to the sound and less to the dudes doing the lip synching:

The fog of war

Submitted without further comment, but with emphasis added:
A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lightning Round -- 043015

Haven't done one of these in a while. Seems like the right approach.

  • Eugene Volokh asks, "Is Milwaukee County DA interested in pursuing criminal libel prosecutions of his political critics?" Yes. Yes, he is. Next question.
  • They argued gay marriage at the Supreme Court yesterday. I don't have any expectation that the justices will find anything other than a right to gay marriage. We will learn the impact of these societal innovations many years down the line. It may turn out that critics were wrong and evil. My grandchildren, assuming they arrive one day, will get to participate in that discussion, assuming the discussion is allowed.
  • I don't follow Maryland politics much, but I can't imagine that the rioting and destruction we've seen in Baltimore over the past few days is going to help the potential presidential campaign of former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley very much. 
  • Bernie Sanders is getting into the presidential race. He's a straight up socialist and he's running for the Democratic Party nomination. Meanwhile, Bill de Blasio is on the rubber chicken circuit, demonstrating his bona fides as a man of the people and champion of the needy by speaking at a $5,000 per table event in Milwaukee. These are positive developments. It's important for Democrats everywhere to let their freak flag fly and get true to their beliefs. America needs to know where the party of the people stands.
  • Were you aware that up to 30% of government bonds in the Eurozone have negative interest rates? Don't all crowd to the front to get in on that action.
  • Because of the problems in Charm City, today's game between the Orioles and the White Sox will be played at an empty Camden Yards, as the game is closed to the public. No word on whether my beloved Milwaukee Brewers, who are off to a scintillating 4-17 start, are considering a similar move, although it would be an act of kindness to keep the young, vulnerable and innocent away from Miller Park these days.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

RIP Verne Gagne

Here's how I remember ol' Verne, shown here late in his career in a match in 1976 against the eternal loser George "Scrap Iron" Gadaski:

Verne had Alzheimer's and apparently inadvertently killed a guy in his nursing home a few years ago, but people will remember him for running the AWA here in the Twin Cities. He helped the careers of a lot of wrasslers who went on to national renown. One even became an elected official. And for a young fella in the 1970s, watching the match on a black and white television in his room on a Saturday night, he was the guy, at least if the Crusher or Baron Von Raschke weren't scheduled.

Charm City

Hard times in the city
In a hard town by the sea
Ain't nowhere to run to
There ain't nothin' here for free
Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, injuring more than a dozen police officers and leaving buildings and vehicles in flames.

As night fell, looters took to Mondawmin Mall and a Save-A-Lot and Rite Aid in Bolton Hill, loading up cars with stolen goods. About 10 fire crews battled a three-alarm fire at a large senior center under construction at Chester and Gay streets, as police officers stood guard with long guns.

About 10 p.m., police confirmed shots were fired at an officer in the area of Virginia Avenue and Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore. The officer was not hit and the suspect fled.
We're all built up with progress
But sometimes I must confess
We can deal with rockets and dreams
But reality, what does it mean
Ain't nothing said
Cause Freddie's dead

Fifteen police officers were injured in a clash with school-age children that began around 3 p.m., and two remain hospitalized, police Col. Darryl DeSousa said in a press conference Monday night. Earlier, police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said one officer was unresponsive and others suffered broken bones.

Police arrested 27 people, DeSousa said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared a curfew across the city starting Tuesday and for the next week, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for adults and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for children aged 14 and younger. She drew a distinction between peaceful protesters and “thugs” she said engaged in rioting Monday intend on “destroying our city.”

“It’s idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you’re going to make life better for anybody,” Rawlings-Blake said. 

These are Baltimore youthful residents, a number of them came right out of the local high schools there on the other side of Mondawmin and started engaging in this. And if you saw in one scene, you had one a mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed. I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight,” said Commissioner Batts. “I think these were youth coming out of the high school and they thought it was cute to throw cinder blocks at the police department and address it that way.”

And they hide their faces
And they hide their eyes
'Cause the city's dyin'
And they don't know why

Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to live, just to live

Monday, April 27, 2015

Former Clinton Spokesman is troubled by allegations

George Stephanopolous wants you to know that it's questionable if a former Bush hand writes a book that's critical of the Clintons:
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- you used to work for President -- President Bush as a speechwriter. You're funded by the Koch brothers.

How do you respond to that?
Well, here's how I respond:

It's an ongoing joke that ABC News trots out a former Clinton press secretary and communications director as a journalist. Could you imagine a news program on a major television network that would have had former Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler as the moderator?

The secret policeman speaks

You just can't criticize John Chisholm, the prosecutor who is serving the cause of justice by doing midnight raids on people who might support the evil governor of Wisconsin. Scott Walker, appearing in Iowa, seems to have committed thoughtcrime and Chisholm wants to make it clear that you can't do that. He's even, it would appear, an expert on the laws of Iowa.

Let's back up, though. Here is what Walker said about the raids that Chisholm authorized:
I said even if you're a liberal Democrat, you should look at (the raids) and be frightened to think that if the government can do that against people of one political persuasion, they can do it against anybody, and more often than not we need protection against the government itself," Walker told the radio station.

"As (the National Review) pointed out, there were real questions about the constitutionality of much of what they did, but it was really about people trying to intimidate people..." Walker said.

"They were looking for just about anything. As I pointed out at the time, it was largely a political witch hunt."
Chisholm didn't like that very much. His response?
As to defamatory remarks, I strongly suspect the Iowa criminal code, like Wisconsin's, has provisions for intentionally making false statements intended to harm the reputation of others," Chisholm said in a statement Saturday responding to Walker's comments.
Free speech is a crime, then. You can't have an opinion of John Chisholm, at least not one that you can express publicly. Guess I'd better shut up.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Hunger Games

Baltimore, Maryland, last night:

Washington, D.C., last night:

40 miles apart. Might as well be a million.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A stunning revelation

Mad Magazine, 1979 or thereabouts
So Bruce Jenner was on television last night, apparently. And he shocked the world by revealing that he considers himself a. . . Republican.

Can't do that, Bruce. Some of the reaction from the social media is illustrative:

That's a little transgressive there, bub
There's some more blue staters working blue at the link; since I generally try to avoid that, go ahead and click if you want to see the f-bomb reactions.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Chaiters gonna Chait

They are getting nervous on the Titanic:
When you are a power couple consisting of a former president and a current secretary of State and likely presidential candidate, you have the ability to raise a lot of money for charitable purposes that can do a lot of good. But some of the potential sources of donations will be looking to get something in return for their money other than moral satisfaction or the chance to hobnob with celebrities. Some of them want preferential treatment from the State Department, and others want access to a potential future Clinton administration. To run a private operation where Bill Clinton will deliver a speech for a (huge) fee and a charity that raises money from some of the same clients is a difficult situation to navigate. To overlay that fraught situation onto Hillary’s ongoing and likely future government service makes it all much harder.
That's the voice of Jonathan Chait, a reliable lefty writing in a reliable lefty publication, New York magazine. Chait's piece provides a handy compendium of the various scandals swirling around the Clintons at the moment, including the most recent revelations about the Russians getting a large share of the U.S. uranium supply on Hillary Clinton's watch, all while the Clinton foundation raked in the dough from various financiers associated with the deal.

As always, what's most interesting about the revelations isn't the revelations themselves. Anyone who has ever paid attention to the Clintons knows they are grifters and quite good at it. I see two things going on here:

First, people really aren't paying attention yet. If there's a sense among Democrats that the Hillary campaign will collapse, it's better that it happen now than in, say, July 2016. If Jonathan Chait sees a problem, he's not the only one.While it's later than optimal, there still is time for Elizabeth Warren or some other figure to get into the race. While I know that Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb are planning to run, they aren't getting anywhere.

The real scandal with the uranium deal isn't the Clinton money-grubbing; it's that Clinton was only one of many Cabinet-level officials who signed off on the transaction. From the Times article:
Such is the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The committee comprises some of the most powerful members of the cabinet, including the attorney general, the secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy, and the secretary of state. They are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security.
No one else had any misgivings? Eric Holder? Tim Geithner? Robert Gates? Janet Napolitano? Gary Locke? Steven Chu? They all signed off on this deal. I would imagine that President Obama is just furious about learning all this, as I'm certain that he's only learning about this abdication of responsibility now because he's reading it in the newspaper.

Res ipsa loquitur

Well all righty, then:
Chinese officials are launching a campaign to crack down on stripteases and other lewd shows that have become popular at funerals in some rural areas, the Ministry of Culture said Thursday.

The ministry said in a statement that it will tighten control over rural culture, where vulgar performances have been thriving because of a general lack of cultural events.

Such erotic performances at funerals are a relatively new phenomenon. Many rural people believe that a large attendance at funerals is a sign of honor for the deceased, and the shows are used to attract more people and display the family's prosperity.
The Irish wake can just go home.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Your Earth Day Ride

This isn't particularly complicated or surprising:
Car buyers are trading in hybrid and electric cars for SUVs at a higher rate than ever before, according to a new analysis from car-buying platform The analysis offers a surprising look at how today's gas prices are drawing hybrid and EV owners toward gas-guzzling vehicles at a much more accelerated pace than in recent years.

According to, about 22 percent of people who have traded in their hybrids and EVs in 2015 bought a new SUV. The number represents a sharp increase from 18.8 percent last year, and it is nearly double the rate of 11.9 percent just three years ago. Overall, only 45 percent of this year's hybrid and EV trade-ins have gone toward the purchase of another alternative fuel vehicle, down from just over 60 percent in 2012. Never before have loyalty rates for alt-fuel vehicles fallen below 50 percent.

"For better or worse, it looks like many hybrid and EV owners are driven more by financial motives rather than a responsibility to the environment," says Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell. "Three years ago, when gas was at near-record highs, it was a lot easier to rationalize the price premiums on alternative fuel vehicles. But with today's gas prices as low as they are, the math just doesn't make a very compelling case."
Edmunds made a point of releasing this information on Earth Day. I've been told I'm not a numbers guy, but you don't need to do a particularly sophisticated analysis to understand why a lot of people prefer SUVs to smaller hybrids. I can think of several reasons:

  • You can see the road better in an SUV because the driver's seat is higher
  • You can load more stuff in an SUV, generally
  • A larger vehicle is more comfortable for passengers
  • Gas mileage is getting better on some models; you can get around 30 MPG in a newer Ford Escape or Honda CR-V
  • Unless there's a compelling reason to think otherwise, the default position for most people is that bigger is better
Earth Day gets celebrated in many ways. Here's an image that's received fairly wide circulation, following a concert on the Capitol Mall last week:

I got yer recycling right here, pal
That reminds me -- SUVs usually have a lot of cup holders, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

John Doe and Gendarmes

We don't have secret police, necessarily. We do have secret agendas, as David French reports in an astonishing article in National Review:
That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.  
“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”  
She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”
Who were these people?
It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information. 
Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television. 
In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”
So what was it about?
And, yes, there were the warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends. The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school.
They, too, had to remain silent.
The mom watched as her entire life was laid open before the police. Her professional files, her personal files, everything. She knew this was all politics. She knew a rogue prosecutor was targeting her for her political beliefs.
And she realized, “Every aspect of my life is in their hands. And they hate me.”
Yes, yes they do. They are the denizens of what Glenn Reynolds calls the Deep State. They are prosecutors and bureaucrats and agency heads. And in Wisconsin, where these things took place, they could get by with their behavior because they had the John Doe statute available, and because they needed to stop Scott Walker from tearing their playhouse down.

The original reason for the John Doe statute, which gives broad power to prosecutors to conduct investigations in secrecy. The idea behind the statute is that a potential target of the investigation won't realize they are being investigated and won't be able to conceal evidence. In practice, it's been plenty abusive. It also explains why the people who were being investigated were required to keep silent about what was happening to them.

Writing for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last year, columnist Christian Schneider explained what was going on:
In theory, giving broad, secretive investigative power to a single individual may sound efficient. Keeping everyone in the dark allows the district attorney to dig up evidence before alleged lawbreakers even know they should be hiding it. But the process also can be abused if used as a tool of political retribution and personal score-settling.

This especially has been the case recently, when the John Doe law's secrecy requirements have been largely ignored, belying the intent behind the anonymous "John Doe" moniker. Leaks have served to prosecute conservatives in the court of public opinion when actual evidence is insufficient. Names of those called to testify routinely bleed into the press, casting a dark cloud over large numbers of individuals, whether they are directly related to the investigation or not. 
The whole thing may be coming to an end soon. The prosecutor behind these abuses, Milwaukee County's John Chisholm, has come up empty. The state Supreme Court will rule on what happened. A federal court may allow one of the targets of the investigation to sue the prosecutors.

At this point, the story isn't well known. National Review is an opinion journal. The coverage we've seen in the major media in Wisconsin has been more about the allegations the prosecutors have leaked than about the abusive measures the prosecutors have taken. It's starting to come out now. It's going to be a huge story in Wisconin, and it's going to be a big part of Scott Walker's narrative as he mounts his presidential bid.

They aren't serious

If you wonder why people are skeptical of global warming AGW climate change climate disruption, here's a hint:

And we'll spew a little carbon into the air to celebrate our enlightened stance on the matter
When the IPCC starts doing their meetings on Skype, then maybe I'll believe there's really a crisis. When Al Gore stops buying beachfront property, that might be persuasive. Until then, I wouldn't take it any more seriously than the our betters do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Post 4500

This is the 4,500th post on this feature. We've been at it nearly ten years now. Man, that's a lot of ruminating. I've never made a dime from this enterprise, but facing a blank screen that many times has been an enjoyable challenge. I've met some great people because of this blog -- that alone makes it worth doing. Thank you.

American identity

Your family comes to a strange place to escape the horrors of home. You don't quite fit in, for whatever reason. What do you do? For at least some people, the answer is jihad:
An eight-year federal investigation into terrorist recruiting yielded what authorities say is one of its biggest breakthroughs Monday, when six Somali-Americans from Minnesota were charged with planning to leave the United States and fight alongside Islamic extremist groups.

Two of the six were arrested by the FBI on Sunday in San Diego, where they intended to pick up passports and then cross into Mexico to board a flight to the Middle East, federal authorities said.

The other four were arrested Sunday by FBI agents at various locations across the Twin Cities.
Why would someone do that? Listen to the voice:
One of the men, in a conversation recorded by an FBI source, describes his disgust with living in the United States. “The American identity is dead. Even if I get caught, whatever, I’m through with America. Burn my ID,” he said, according to a transcript filed with the case.
What does that statement mean, coming from someone who has not yet reached his 22nd birthday? Most young people feel a sense of alienation from the larger society, but for the majority it comes in a way that does not lead to peril. Most of the young Somalis who live in Minnesota aren't particularly different that way, but it only takes a handful to cause trouble.

We have a number of large immigrant groups in the Twin Cities. We have the Somalis. We have a number of people from Liberia and other countries in the western part of Africa. And we have a substantial population of Hmong families who arrived in America in the wake of the Vietnam War. There are others as well. For the most part, we all get along well because the immigrants who come here have similar aspirations to those my ancestors had when they escaped from Bavaria and County Cork. We don't have to agree on all the particulars of the American identity, but we do need to recognize its importance.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Grifters International

If you've ever wondered how someone who is supposedly "flat broke" can have hundreds of millions of dollars and can run for president later on, the answer might require reading a how-to book. No, not the Millionaire Next Door. That's penny ante stuff. The real money is in access:
“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.
This dispatch isn't coming from Fox News, either. It's coming from the New York Times, the reflexive defender of Democrats everywhere. And the Times can't easily dismiss the work:
But whether Mr. Schweizer’s book can deliver the same sales is not clear. He writes mainly in the voice of a neutral journalist and meticulously documents his sources, including tax records and government documents, while leaving little doubt about his view of the Clintons.

His reporting largely focuses on payments made to Mr. Clinton for speeches, which increased while his wife served as secretary of state, writing that “of the 13 Clinton speeches that fetched $500,000 or more, only two occurred during the years his wife was not secretary of state.”

In 2011, Mr. Clinton made $13.3 million in speaking fees for 54 speeches, the majority of which were made overseas, the author writes.
The revelations won't matter if the Clintons can get by with the "old story" dodge. That's worked before, but it might not this time, and the Times article explains why:
“Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author  to pursue the story lines found in the book.
Just a guess -- the Times and the Post will try to find exculpatory stories. Fox News will try to nail the Clintons to the wall. Who will be more successful? Place your bets.

Hair shirt

So you know how prosecutors relied on hair samples to get convictions for years and years? And how we heard that it was a great tool for determining guilt or innocence? Yeah, not so much:
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.
And yes, some of the evidence put people on death row:
The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
While I'm not comfortable with conflating "executed" with "died in prison," these revelations are yet another reminder of why the death penalty really needs to be abolished.

The return of the Sexy MF

Remember Jon Corzine? The guy who who ran MF Global into the ground and was dipping into customer funds, a tremendous no-no? He wants back in the game:
Jon S. Corzine, the embattled former MF Global Holdings Ltd. chief executive and ex-chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has discussed plans to start his own hedge fund in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter.

The fund would start with cash from Mr. Corzine’s personal wealth and a handful of outside investors. Mr. Corzine said he had been speaking with about a half-dozen potential investors, and projected around $150 million in assets under management, one of the people said.

The plans are tentative and could evolve or fall apart in coming months. But a launch would mark an unlikely return to high finance for Mr. Corzine, the 68-year-old former Democratic U.S. senator and New Jersey governor who has stayed out of the limelight since commodities brokerage MF Global declared bankruptcy in 2011.
This guy should be in prison. If you or I would have done what Corzine had done, we would be in the federal pen for sure. I'll pass.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Don't make me do it without the Hez on

From what I've been told, the reason we need to sign a nuclear deal with Iran is because the only alternative is war. So what's the deal with this development, then?
According to a Channel 2 report Monday, Israel has observed an increase in Iran weapons shipments to Hezbollah members — in Lebanon and on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Iran has also sent weaponry to Hamas rulers in Gaza and is even attempting to arm Hamas members in the West Bank, the report said.

“Israel warns: Iran is acting in recent days and weeks to prepare and arm Hezbollah for conflict with Israel, on a large scale,” Channel 2’s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal tweeted later Monday.

The TV report said Israel was alarmed that the sanctions relief Iran would enjoy if it reaches a deal on its nuclear program would free up “billions of dollars” for further such weapons shipments, and for Iranian support for terrorism. The TV report said the officials added that it was “hard to see” how the deal, so firmly backed by the US, could help the interests of Israel and other US allies.
But see, the Iranians (and the Cubans, for that matter) are no longer on the list of terrorist states. Hezbollah is some sort of chowder and marching club now. It's all good. Just so you know.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Election results from Potemkin

I'm often reminded that Democrats understand social media and use it well. Yes, they're quite good at it:
Although Hillary Clinton boasts a robust 3.6 million Twitter followers, not even a vast right-wing conspiracy would be able to interact with 2 million of them.

According to two popular online measuring tools, no more than 44 per cent of her Twitter fan base consists of real people who are active in using the social media platform.

And at least 15 per cent – more than 544,000 – are completely fake., the oldest publicly available Twitter-auditing tool, reports that 44 per cent of the former secretary of state's followers are 'good'; 15 per cent are 'fake'; and 41 per cent are 'inactive,' meaning that they never tweet or reply to any tweets.
Why does this matter? Allow John Hayward to explain:
There are all sorts of problems with analysis based on these metrics, beginning with the obvious matter of whether those comments, links, and re-Tweets connote approval. The total buzz level is interesting – an ignored campaign launch is probably worse than one attracting a great deal of negative attention, because the most important thing on Day One is to get noticed – but other than Facebook “likes,” it’s tough to separate positive and negative online chatter, or real people talking from bot-generated traffic mirages.

When someone creates an algorithm that can weed out sarcasm - the stalwart conservative who says “I love Hillary!”, or the liberal activist who declares “Ted Cruz would make a GREAT president!”, as an ironic joke to their friends – then artificial intelligence will have truly arrived.
This is obvious to anyone who thinks about it for even a moment. I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter but my Facebook feed is a pretty good indicator of how the dynamic works. None of my conservative friends have said a word about Michele Bachmann for months, but they don't need to -- every utterance Bachmann might make, along with others she hasn't made, is on my feed because my lefty pals make sure I know about it. I also get regular updates from them about what Ted Nugent is thinking, too. I do appreciate them keeping me informed.

It's possible that the Hillary campaign launch is the start of a great wave of support that will sweep her into office. It's also possible that no one cares what she says. Don't take the breathless reportage too seriously.

The Real Minimum Wage

The real minimum wage has remained unchanged -- it's zero. There are some people who don't seem to understand that:
Low-wage workers — and their sympathizers — had their say coast to coast on Wednesday.

Thousands of workers and protesters from New York City to Los Angeles walked, marched and shouted their demands in front of fast-food locations and on several major college campuses for $15-an-hour wages. No arrests were reported. At least one McDonald's in New York City was temporarily closed by protesters. Several McDonald's stores kept drive-throughs operating, even while the restaurants were temporarily locked.
Recent technology enhancements by White Castle and McDonald’s show that even traditional quick-service burger chains are considering letting patrons customize their orders.

Last month, White Castle added two touch-screen ordering kiosks at a renovated restaurant in its hometown of Columbus, Ohio. It is the only restaurant in the family-owned, 406-unit chain to feature the kiosks, which are part of a pilot project. The large screens allow customers to order their burgers exactly as they like them in the privacy of the kiosk area, says White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson.
People are used to using self-service -- at the gas pump, in grocery stores. The software gets better and more intuitive as we move forward in time. And it's not just happening in Slider City:
McDonald’s is testing a similar system at a store in Laguna Niguel, California. Customers there can order from iPads at every table, choosing from among more than 20 toppings and sauces to create custom-made burgers that are grilled to order. Company representatives, who did not respond to requests for comment for this story, told Technomic in December that the kiosk test will help McDonald’s gauge how customers feel about the customization experience.

Quick-service burger chains are following the rest of the restaurant industry’s lead, as several other concepts have jumped on the kiosk and tablet-ordering bandwagon. Both Chili’s and Applebee’s recently announced that they are adding tablets throughout their restaurants, allowing customers to order and pay at their tables.
And if you're wondering why these things are happening, consider the following:
“Younger customers are starting to expect more from brands, and kiosks are already popular in Europe and other countries. It also creates better efficiency between the customer and the back of the house, and reduces order errors,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic.
Hard to imagine someone making minimum wage would be responsible for an order error, but there you have it.

If you go back to the original article from USA Today, you see who is really driving this latest foray into social justice:
"It's something different," said Kendall Fells, organizing director of Fight for $15, which is funded by the Service Employees International Union. "This is much more of an economic and racial justice movement than the fast-food workers strikes of the past two years."
Here's a hint, folks -- SEIU isn't doing this out of the goodness of its heart. They think they'll be getting some of that sweet, sweet $15/hour money that's going to be falling from the sky. It's a miscalculation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I got yer oversight right here, pal

Most of us learned about Hillary Clinton's private email server only this year. It turns out there were questions well before:
WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton was directly asked by congressional investigators in a December 2012 letter whether she had used a private email account while serving as secretary of state, according to letters obtained by The New York Times.

But Mrs. Clinton did not reply to the letter. And when the State Department answered in March 2013, nearly two months after she left office, it ignored the question and provided no response.

The query was posed to Mrs. Clinton in a Dec. 13, 2012, letter from Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Mr. Issa was leading an investigation into how the Obama administration handled its officials’ use of personal email.
Issa was investigating many things, but he never got much response from anyone in the Obama administration, and no one else seemed very curious about that lack of response. If anything, people wanted Issa to go away. Consider this response to his oversight from Michael Hirsh, writing for the Atlantic back in 2012:
I'm sorry, but can we talk turkey -- I mean, Darrell Issa -- for a moment? Is there any fair and balanced news commentator (honest ones, that is, not the Fox News version) who doubts what this guy is all about? Rep. Issa himself has made no pretense of his intentions: Nail Barack Obama first, raise Issa's profile second (or maybe that's first), and get at the truth last.
Nothing like a little ad hominem in the first line of the article. We're going to have a lot of our betters instructing us on appropriate lines of inquiry going forward. Better get your minds right and get ready for Hillary.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A modest proposal

If Hillary really wanted to make her lunch break interesting, she should have stopped at Memories Pizza.

Mau-mauing in Maumee

What kind of presidential candidate stops in a Chipotle for lunch and doesn't say a word to the customers? Our monarch in waiting:
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign is all about “everyday Americans,” she made clear in announcing it on Sunday.

On Monday, she showed how unassuming she herself could be.

Driving to Iowa for her first campaign swing, Mrs. Clinton’s van — with two aides and Secret Service agents aboard — pulled into a Chipotle restaurant for lunch in Maumee, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo.

And no one recognized her.

Maybe it was the dark sunglasses. Or maybe she had a certain je ne sais — qui?

But nobody took notice of the celebrity in front of the counter. Fellow patrons paid her no more attention than a driver would get from a toll taker.
I guess we're supposed to be impressed by this, but somehow it strikes me as quite odd that a presidential candidate wouldn't want to talk to the other customers. Perhaps she's not very good at it.

Hillary has received a certain amount of attention, of course. America's Greatest Newspaper greeted her candidacy with trademark subtlety:

If you squirt enough water into her mouth, you win a teddy bear on the midway
And in Brooklyn, the street art isn't particularly flattering, either:

There are other things you can't say, but we can't tell you what they are because we can't say them, either
Of course, you'd imagine there are alternatives to the Queen, but who do you want? Maybe you want the former governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley:

Ah, yup
Or perhaps a purer example of current thinking, Bernie Sanders:

Hair care products are the Enemies of the State!

I'd really rather not be thinking about the presidential campaign, but those days are over now.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ready for Vermin?

So I heard that someone announced they are running for president yesterday. Unless they were at the Masters, I missed it. However, we have an early favorite already:

He is a Democrat, by the way. And if you vote for him, you get a pony. You will have to buy your own toothbrush, though. And you'd better, because he treats gingivitis like Al Gore treats global warming. Make sure you stay to the end, in which he announces his candidacy to the tune of the "Chicken Dance," thereby guaranteeing plenty of support at Wisconsin weddings.

Shoulda let Chuy have it

Be careful what you want, because you might get it:
Rahm Emanuel won’t get much time to savor Tuesday’s victory over Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in Chicago’s runoff election. Standard & Poor’s is looking to downgrade its rating of the city if it doesn’t do something about its pensions crisis. . . [.]
Moody's has already downgraded the debt. It's an intractable problem, unless you think the Feds are really going to bail Rahm out. Let's see how that works.

Friday, April 10, 2015


My hometown finally has an interstate highway:
Gov. Scott Walker announced today U.S. 41 has officially been added to the Interstate System as I-41.

Installation of about 3,000 new signs will take place beginning this summer and into November.

The Federal Highway Administration officially approved the interstate designation, a final step in a process begun nearly 10 years ago, according to Walker's office.

Technically, U.S. 41 will still exist but run concurrently with I-41 for its entire route. It begins at the I-94/U.S. 41 interchange about a mile south of the Wisconsin-Illinois border, follows I-94 north to the Mitchell Interchange, I-894 and U.S. 45 around Milwaukee and then joins U.S. 41 north to Green Bay, where it ends at the I-43 interchange.
For anyone growing up in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin, Highway 41 has always been the primary way to get to the area and also the means of escape. To a certain extent the designation doesn't really change that much, but it's always been a bone of contention that the Valley wasn't part of the interstate highway system. The original system looked like this:

Nothing for you, Northeastern Wisconsin
As the highway system was originally developed, the Fox River Valley was left off the main highway system, which was always an odd thing. Many of us speculated that the omission was payback for the trouble that Sen. Joseph McCarthy caused during the 1950s, but there was never any hard evidence of that. McCarthy was from Appleton.

As the system expanded, other roads were added to the system, including I-43, which runs from Beloit to Green Bay via Milwaukee. This took place in the 1970s and became a bone of contention, because it meant that the highway system still left three cities without an interstate -- Appleton, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac. I-43 runs from Milwaukee to Green Bay while hugging the shore of Lake Michigan. Later on in the 1990s, U.S. Highway 51 was designated as I-39, which now runs north-south down the middle of the state, from Wausau, WI to Bloomington, IL, through towns like Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, parallel to the Wisconsin River. Still, there was nothing for the Valley towns, even though U.S. 41 has always carried significantly more traffic than either I-39 or I-43.

In the larger scheme of things, whether or not a road is part of the interstate highway system doesn't matter that much. There are giant superhighways in the Los Angeles area that are simply designated as state roads. Still, there is a value in being able to say that your town is important enough to be part of the system. There are plenty of towns that got bypassed when the original system was under construction and the towns that were off the main highway lost access to all the travelers who were passing through the area. This was one of the themes of the Disney/Pixar movie Cars and it represented a real issue. While the Fox River Valley towns hardly withered on the vine in the absence of an interstate highway, people back home always found it troubling. It really bothered my dad, to use one example. Those days are over now. My dad has been gone for nearly 25 years, but somehow, somewhere, I think he's smiling.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Harf and Henry

It's difficult these days to bring up Henry Kissinger's name without having someone start shrieking "war criminal." As far as I know, George Shultz isn't a war criminal, but I'm sure he is now, after collaborating with Kissinger on an op ed in the Wall Street Journal that is critical of President Obama's Iran policy. Here is the key point, I think:
The agreement’s primary enforcement mechanism, the threat of renewed sanctions, emphasizes a broad-based asymmetry, which provides Iran permanent relief from sanctions in exchange for temporary restraints on Iranian conduct. Undertaking the “snap-back” of sanctions is unlikely to be as clear or as automatic as the phrase implies. Iran is in a position to violate the agreement by executive decision. Restoring the most effective sanctions will require coordinated international action. In countries that had reluctantly joined in previous rounds, the demands of public and commercial opinion will militate against automatic or even prompt “snap-back.” If the follow-on process does not unambiguously define the term, an attempt to reimpose sanctions risks primarily isolating America, not Iran.

The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken.
So what is the the position of the State Department? Watch the video and see:

Our country's in the very best of hands.

Shirley judges that democracy doesn't matter much

So on Tuesday voters in Wisconsin amended the state constitution to change how the chief justice of the state supreme court is selected. Previously the chief justice was chosen strictly by seniority. The new rule allows the justices themselves to vote for their chief.

Shirley Abrahamson is the chief justice, based on the old system. The new system will bring the end of her term, as Abrahamson is a liberal and the majority of the justices are conservative. Abrahamson doesn't like that much, so the will of the voters be damned:
Abrahamson, 81, argued in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Madison that the change should not be applied until after her current term ends in four years or if she leaves before then.

To have the selection process change immediately would shorten the 10-year term of office to which Abrahamson was elected as chief justice, she argued, and would therefore violate her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection rights.
She also is asking for a temporary restraining order to block the other six justices on the court from taking any action to remove her as chief justice.

The lawsuit names the other members of the court and top state officials charged with implementing the amendment. It was brought on behalf of Abrahamson and a handful of state residents who voted for her. Their votes, the lawsuit argues, will be “diluted and results of the 2009 election undone long after-the-fact, while the Wisconsin court system’s leadership will become unsettled.”
Why does this matter? The chief justice sets the agenda in court and Abrahamson has been using her power to delay rulings that she doesn't particularly like. Since she doesn't like the result of the vote, she figures she can delay that, too, apparently.

The notion that she ran for Chief Justice is absurd. You can only run for office as a justice. Had her opponent prevailed in 2009, that individual would not have become chief justice, so it's absurd to argue that she was running for that position. And the term of her office won't be shortened; she was elected to a 10-year term as a justice, so she will remain on the state supreme court. She just won't have control of the agenda.

Just so we're clear

Whether you are a police officer or not, you don't get to shoot someone in the back and claim self-defense.

The video makes it pretty clear that Walter Scott was murdered. And it's pretty clear that Michael Slager, a North Charleston, SC, police officer, was the murderer. You can watch the video at the link. It's pretty hard to watch, but it's also quite clear what happened.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Shirley you jest

A new chief justice will be coming to the Wisconsin Supreme Court:
In a result befitting politically polarized Wisconsin, voters on Tuesday re-elected a State Supreme Court justice seen as liberal, but passed a constitutional amendment that will most likely lead to the installation of a conservative chief justice.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley handily defeated Judge James Daley of Rock County and conservatives who wanted to increase their majority on the officially nonpartisan court, The Associated Press reported. The vote on the amendment was closer.
The current chief justice is Shirley Abrahamson. The New York Times explains the significance:
Conservatives generally lined up in favor of the constitutional amendment, which proposed having members of the court vote for the chief justice, rather than automatically installing the longest-serving judge in that position. The practical effect will most likely be the demotion of Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, 81, who has served on the court since 1976 and is viewed as part of its liberal minority.
The chief justice sets the agenda. Having one of the conservative judges set the agenda will change politics in Wisconsin.

Bo Ryan sets the narrative

It doesn't change the result, but Bo Ryan may have changed college basketball a bit with his post-game comments following Duke's 68-63 win over the Wisconsin Badgers. Ryan didn't follow the script and praise Duke for a superior performance. Instead, he mentioned a few things:
When asked specifically about the officials, Ryan did not address his concerns directly. But it was in another moment, when discussing his juniors and seniors, that the Wisconsin coach began to make reference to a game that was played with a lot of hand and body contact.

"This group was so together and enjoyed each other's company, could needle with each other. They did a lot of good things. I mean, again, if you go through all the things that this team did as a team, the offensive efficiency I mentioned, fewest number of fouls in the country, fewest number of turnovers. Do you know what it takes to have the fewest number of turnovers? A lot of discipline, a lot of work goes into that. If you've ever tried to play the game, it's not as easy as taking care of the ball as you think. But this group just set another standard of taking care of the ball. Playing defense with their feet. Things like that. Not their hands. Sometimes hands are allowed more than others. You know how the game goes. Like I said before, you always got to adjust."
And the narrative took root:
The 2014-15 college basketball season will be remembered for Kentucky’s undefeated run to the Final Four. It will be remembered for Duke’s 1,000th win and fifth national championship under Coach K. Above all, it will be remembered as one of the most horrid officiated seasons in sports history, culminating in a title game with equally horrible calls.
A writer for the Washington Post agreed:
If you thought all the whistles were going in favor of Duke this NCAA tournament, you were right.

One of the most contentious subplots to Duke’s 68-63 victory over Wisconsin, the fifth NCAA championship for the ACC school, was the juxtaposition of fouls. Specifically, how Duke became a darling of the referees during the second half.

After the initial 20 minutes, Duke had been whistled for seven fouls and Wisconsin just two. That isn’t unusual — the Badgers typically defend without sending opponents to the free throw line — but coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t going to let the game’s three referees enter the half without a thorough haranguing.
As did USA Today:
Two minutes, probably dozens of views of multiple angles of replays and three highly trained officials, deemed good enough to be reffing in the biggest game of the year, disagreed with all three CBS analysts, all of Twitter and every American watching. Even a non-delusional Duke fan had to know this ball was out on Winslow.

But, alas, the three men who needed to know didn’t. Duke retained the ball up 63-58, hit a three pointer on its next possession, went up 66-58 and basically clinched the game with 1:24 remaining. It was an ugly game with a fun back-and-forth pace, but it didn’t deserve to be decided by officials who couldn’t tell what was plainly obvious.
Even Paul Mirengoff at Powerline noticed:
The refs blew another key out-of-bounds call, failing to notice that Winslow was out of bounds when he made a pass that led to a three-point play (the old-fashioned way) by Okafor. And Duke caught another enormous break when the ref called a blocking foul on an obvious charge by Winslow. Had the proper call been made, Winslow would have fouled out.
As did a lot of other people:

I'm a Badger fan. I don't think the Badgers did enough to win the game. Still, you have to wonder. I think the larger problem is the world of big time sports is too insular. Beyond that, Mike Krzyzewski has concentrated a lot of power in his hands -- since he's the majordomo of USA Basketball, he has enormous advantages and access that other programs cannot approach.

I do think you'll start to see a little more scrutiny of the Dukies after this game. It's not good if people think the fix is in. Right now, a lot of people beyond the sphere of Badgerdom are feeling that way.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Gino harshes the narrative

Our pal Gino asks a sensible question in light of the the UVa rape story that apparently isn't actually a story, but rather a fable:
the template: college is dangerous, girls are raped at alarming rate by drunken predator frat boys.

some questions need to be reported on:

if this was true, why are we incurring so much debt to get our girls into college?
If the 1 out of 5 women are victims of some form of sexual assault story were true, let's consider what it would mean. Someone I know well currently attends college. The college he attends has about 1400 students. Of this student body, about 58% are female. Let's do the math:

If this school has 1400 students it would have about 812 women on campus.

If 1 of 5 were victims, it would mean that 162 women on this campus were victims. It would be parental malpractice to send a daughter to college if that were true. And it would be especially foolish to take out $25-30K of loans for the experience.

For what it's worth, people are starting to figure it out:
Members of the Virginia Tech football team have been accused of acting disrespectfully at a campus sexual assault awareness event.

Players were required to attend a Take Back the Night event on March 26. The event was organized by a campus female activism group and featured sexual assault survivors speaking about their experiences as victims. Multiple attendees accused the players of infringing upon the "safe space" the event is intended to foster, according to The Roanoke Times.

Take Back the Night is a national organization that seeks "to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence."

Several attendees wrote letters to the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, complaining about the players' behavior. The players arrived late, said they did not know why they were attending the event and spent much of the time looking at their phones, the letters said.
Instapundit shares a mordant comment:
UPDATE: From the comments: “I was born and raised in Cuba. I have certain memories of staged rallies.”
I'll bet.

Greece fire

The technocrats aren't happy with the Greek government, the invaluable Walter Russell Mead says:
Brussels insiders say that EU patience with the Greek circus is running out; there are reports that the EU will start to pressure Prime Minister Tsipras to dump the left wing of his party and build a new coalition that will embrace a more conventional approach to Greek’s debt issues.
Apparently flinging poo at the burghers isn't what they had in mind. Mead gets it:
EU impatience with the Greek clown show is understandable. Condescending, arrogant, clueless, incompetent, the Greek government has made itself a global laughingstock as it stumbles from mishap to mishap, spewing bile and seeking handouts. Meanwhile, Greece’s debt clock is ticking, and the longer the clown show continues the more likely it is that a crisis will erupt, and turn the farce into a tragedy.
The German bankers and the Belgian technocrats like things orderly and that's not how the modern Greeks roll. And such behavior is at the root of the problem.
One doesn’t know where or how this will end. European monetary union has turned into something Greeks have no trouble recognizing: a bed of Procrustes. Brussels is becoming a machine for forcing round pegs into square holes. This cannot go on forever; something will have to give. In the short term, the odds of a Grexit, a Greek exit (either formal or informal) from the eurozone are going up as Brussels and Athens grow weary of one another. In the longer term, the costs to the European project, one of the most hopeful and important undertakings in the history of the human race, continue to grow.
And therein lies the problem -- the European project is itself a matter of forcing round pegs into square holes. It's always been problematic to assume that a Spaniard will see things the same way that a German does, or that a Frenchman will agree with anyone. There are centuries of assumptions and world views associated with every country in Europe and in many cases the only thing that they share is geography. We'll continue to keep an eye on this one.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Go Badgers

One more powerhouse to beat.

A useless apology

You can read about how and why Rolling Stone has retracted their article about a rape at the University of Virginia here.

It doesn't mean a thing, though. Until and unless our betters in the media start to examine their own biases, nothing is going to change. And they have no incentive to do so.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

There Was Supposed to Be an Earth-Shattering Kaboom

He's the original SJW:

Memories Pizza was supposed to die. Social Justice demanded it. Instead of an earth-shattering kaboom that would bring the !!H8ATE!!R pizzeria to ruin, we get this result:

What's Down Twinkles, Doc?
So threats of arson and posting phallic pizzas on Yelp don't add up to social justice? The righteous mob is bitter and throwin' out the non-sequiturs:

Stock photos as a substitute for thought
As it happens, the guy who posted this on my Facebook feed is a noisy atheist. I'm not sure his definition of Christianity is probative, but we'll let that pass. Can we at least recognize two things?

  • The person who created this baked wind meme has no idea whether the people who gave to Memories Pizza stiff food shelves; and
  • The SJWs really aren't in a position to tell people how they should allocate their resources. Yet.
As an aside, I'd have thought that, under the enlightened leadership of our betters, we'd have made sufficient improvements in our station that people wouldn't need to rely on food shelves so much. Odd, that.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Crystal blue persuasion

Sure, the SJW Pitchfork Army Irregulars (and how!) have managed to shut down the hapless Indiana pizzeria that would rather not cater gay weddings, even though it really hasn't been asked to do so. On the other hand, they may not need to run the pizzeria any more. Check out where the GoFundMe stands as of this writing:

Thoughtcrime can be lucrative. Who knew?
There's a message lurking in this response. Let's see if the SJW Pitchfork Army Irregulars can figure it out.

UPDATE: As of 1:00 p.m. CDT, we see the following result:

The W in SJW stands for Wile E. Coyote

Widely available in the remainder bins in 2017

Amy Klobuchar has written a memoir:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will soon publish a memoir that is fueling further speculation about the veteran politician’s ambitions for higher office.

Titled, “The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland,” the book will be released Aug. 25.

Klobuchar, D-Minn., says the book will talk candidly about childhood, her father’s alcoholism and recovery, Washington gridlock and her rise on Capitol Hill.

First elected to the Senate in 2006, Klobuchar joins the ranks of ambitious politicians who have penned memoirs about their upbringing and life in the Senate chamber — often as a means of raising their national profile and testing the waters for higher office. Klobuchar worked with the same editor as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at Henry Holt and Co. in New York.
Might as well be ready when Hillary! implodes. Just a guess -- when Amy looks in the mirror, she sees Barbara Milkulski and isn't particularly happy about it.

The deal

It doesn't matter what the Leader of the Free World says, or what the agreement he has made with Iran says. Iran will do whatever it pleases and will get by with it. Here is how it will work:

  • Iran will sign the agreement
  • Iran will get the sanctions lifted
  • Iran will use the additional money to cause more mischief around the region
  • The Saudis will become even more terrified and will buy nuclear weapons
  • Iran will keep building the bomb until they have it
  • The inspectors will "discover" this in some way
  • The U.S. will go to the UN and ask that the sanctions regime be put back into place
  • The Russians will veto the request in the Security Council
  • The Israelis will have to decide whether they can survive the attack that Iran is promising
  • No matter what happens, it will be George W. Bush's fault
The agreement might as well be printed on Charmin.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Culture War Comes to Walkerton

If you're planning a wedding, do you serve pizzas? I've been to a lot of weddings over the years and I don't recall anyone serving pizza. Apparently it's a thing in Walkerton, Indiana, but only in theoretical gay weddings. And because a small pizzeria in a small town suggests that they wouldn't cater a gay wedding, they must be destroyed.

From what we know about the latest skirmish in the culture war, it's apparently just fine to post a negative review on Yelp of a place that you've never visited. Just so you know. It may or may not be a problem to use Twitter threaten to burn a restaurant down if they don't cater theoretical gay weddings.

If I ran a pizzeria and had the capability to cater a wedding, I'd take the job regardless of whether the happy couple was gay or straight. But I'd sure the heck want the right to tell the Westboro Baptist Church that I didn't want their business.

As always, John Hayward gets to the heart of the matter:
This is all about the collective assertion of morality, transforming the State and activists groups into judge and jury of our souls. To extend a point from earlier this week, the anti-religious-freedom backlash is based on hypothetical abuses, possibilities, and presumed intent, not actual behavior. What matters is the alleged emotional constitution of the people who support religious liberty laws, not what they’ve actually done, or say they want to do. They are summarily stripped of the right to speak for themselves, tried and found guilty of potential offenses, with every bit of testimony offered in their defense instantly struck down as insincere. It’s like the movie Minority Report, except with a shrieking hate mob on Twitter instead of three psychics in bathtubs.

Gavin McInnes at The Federalist calls it “the invasion of the hypotheticals,” a virtual war fought in purely ideological space by people entirely disconnected from daily life in flyover country. I would add that persecuting hypotheticals is much easier than dealing with the real-world actions of actual people. Beating people up for what they might do is the easiest thing in the world, a suitably relaxed form of moral posturing for a slacktivist generation. Step One: tell a group of people you don’t like or understand what lurks in their hearts. Step Two: Win an argument with the bogeyman you just created. Piece of (gay wedding) cake!
As a Catholic, I've long been reminded that I have no idea about the condition of anyone else's soul. I might be doing it wrong.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Watch this one closely:
Remember those 15 people who refused to repay their federal student loans? Their “debt strike” has picked up 85 more disgruntled borrowers willing to jeopardize their financial future to pressure the government into forgiving their student loans.

And the government is starting to listen. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has invited the group to Washington on Tuesday to discuss their demand for debt cancellation. Although the CFPB doesn’t have the power to grant that request, the agency’s overture shows that the strike is being taken seriously.
The amount of student loan debt is now close to unsustainable. The current numbers aren't in yet, but for 2014 the totals were over $1.2 trillion. That would be $1,200,000,000,000. And since student loan debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy, the pressure is only going to grow to forgive more of these loans.