I wonder if we can comment about the current administration’s activities without using the T-word or alluding to things that, however sensational they might be, aren’t actually matters of policy, executive action, or law.
I really like Scott Pruitt over at EPA. I think his talk of streamlining the permitting process, ending the seemingly arbitrary authority of that agency to classify my backyard as a navigable waterway, and otherwise introducing some balance into an overzealous bureaucracy, is wonderful.More
There is a movement afoot to start voluntary programs in which law-abiding citizens can turn their guns into the police (and sometimes receive some compensation for them). I say law-abiding citizens, because obviously criminals are unlikely to walk into a police station and voluntarily disarm themselves, so criminals will be unaffected by these programs.
I find this concerning for two reasons. First, I suspect that the goal is that, over time, these programs will become, um, less voluntary. (I’m sure progressives would avoid scary words like mandatory.) The other reason these programs concern me is that there apparently are people out there who think this might help improve public safety.More
CNN is reporting on the latest scandal stemming from the 2016 election,
Facebook is facing a crescendo of questions about how user data was harvested for political purposes, and for a second day investors dumped its stock over the risk the scandal poses to its business.
Some U.S. lawmakers are calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. British members of Parliament are summoning Zuckerberg too. But for now he is remaining silent about the uproar.
Facebook isn’t Equifax. And “data breach” probably isn’t the most illuminating way to describe how Cambridge Analytica came to harvest the private information of potentially 50 million of the social network’s members. There wasn’t some technical security flaw that savvy hackers found and exploited.
Rather what happened was a misuse of data that was initially collected in a way Facebook encouraged through the Facebook Login tool for app developers. But that social graph data was, first, allegedly collected under
false unclear pretenses (unlike the similar — if not more extensive — 2012 Obama reelection campaign Facebook data effort), and then, second, passed along to Cambridge Analytica. So a bad actor violated Facebook’s terms of service (which have since been modified). Moreover, it isn’t clear that the psychographic profiles of voters using the data are really that effective or had any meaningful impact on the 2016 presidential election. (I think there is a plausible case that the Trump campaign actually underperformed given the state of the economy and the quality of the opposing candidate.)
Back in the 1990s, Dick Ebersol helped form the short-lived XFL. Today, his son Charlie introduced the AAF. The Alliance of American Football kicks off in 11 months, with the first games on the Sunday after the 2019 Super Bowl. The games will be broadcast on CBS and a variety of digital platforms.
Why this might succeed where the XFL failed is the team the younger Ebersol has recruited. Legendary NFL executive Bill Polian; former players Troy Polamalu, Justin Tuck, Hines Ward, and Jared Allen; Peter Thiel and a large group of major investors; and, of course, Dick Ebersol, who created “Sunday Night Football.”More
One of the main themes in the blockbuster case of Janus v. AFSCME—currently before the United States Supreme Court—is the risk of having unions sit on both sides of the table in public-sector contract negotiations. Nowhere is that risk more pronounced than in California, where the perverse and pervasive effects of union political influence are on display in Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System, now before the California Supreme Court. Between 2009 and 2013, California law allowed state and local employees with over five years of service to purchase with their own funds up to five years of “fictional years of retirement service credits”—commonly called “airtime”—that they could then add to their years of actual service in order to increase the value of their pensions at retirement.
This novel airtime benefit was supposed to be cost-neutral to public employers, but it never was: each unit of airtime represented a huge windfall to the lucky state employees and a drain on the public treasury. The Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) sought to end the practice moving forward, without taking away airtime rights that had already been purchased by public employees. The union’s position is that the right to purchase future airtime rights was vested in all current employees on passage of the statute, so that PEPRA violates the state constitution’s contracts clause by preventing employees hired before 2013 from making purchases after 2013. The California Court of Appeal rebuffed that union effort by holding that the union did not meet its “elevated” burden of showing that the legislature had indeed intended to create these vested rights going forward. The California Supreme Court should follow suit.More
So I was cleaning up some items from my mom’s room a couple months back, and I came across her Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart Nursing School graduation picture, Class of ’47. There she is, donned in her starched white nurse’s cap, along with a few other dozen graduates, including one of her best friends for life, Connie (“Aunt Connie,” to us kids). I brought it up to her room, where she’s currently, at 91, confined to her bed due to severe arthritis and osteoporosis, to remind her of that wonderful time in her life.
Fast forward to today, where I’m texting back and forth with an old college friend about the new movie Chappaquiddick. We get into the details, some of which I never realized. (I was not yet five at the time it happened.) Anyway, in the digital discussion I mention my mom attended Manhattanville at the same time as one of the Kennedy daughters, Jean, I believe, and that Ethel Kennedy, then Skakel, was also a classmate.More
As a kid I recall adults – my parents, my grandparents, others – every now and then talk and complain about how time flies by or some similar sentiment. When they made these statements and complaints, they weren’t talking about how quickly their workday went by or how rapidly tonight’s dinner party came and went. Instead, the context of these statements generally referred to longer time frames – how quickly the last week or the last month or six months flew by.
At the time, I didn’t really understand what they were talking about and I figured it was just something adults said. And, although it is something adults say, there is a certain truth to it. I’m in my sixties now, and I understand what those adults were talking about. I’ve understood it for a while now – I don’t know when I first experienced this phenomenon – I imagine I was around 30 years of age. As far as I know, this is a common occurrence – at some point in time most of us (all of us?) experience this perception of the speeding up of time as we age.More
There has been quite some hubbub this past week over a letter written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It is a sad case of what happens when the truth is withheld. And yet, apparently, even our good friends at the Vatican Secretariat for Communications spread fake news. Sad. Particularly sad when Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Social Communications, condemned fake news.
The story is like a turducken, composed of various parts hidden inside one another, that came to see the light of day only through the work of a press seeking the truth. As they say, the cover-up is usually worse than the scandal.More
I’m a strong guy. It’s one of my vanities. In a profession of strong men, I was considered strong. The Army is big on running. One-third of one’s fitness evaluation is a two-mile run. Because combat so often requires a long-distance, totally linear run for 10-15 minutes at a time.
I figured out pretty quick that, amongst the wolf pack in which I ran, I’d always be mediocre — maybe high mediocre, if I worked my tail off — when it came to running. But strength? I can do high-end strength. Took me a while to learn, though. For too many years, I followed the insane advice of magazines like Muscle & Fitness, which extols the workouts of pharmaceutically enhanced bodybuilders who were chasing hypertrophy, not strength. Eventually, I figured out that fighters back in the day had a vested interest in building real-world strength (because otherwise they’d, uh, die) and consciously eschewed any workout that wasn’t at least a couple hundred years old. This led me to bodyweight exercises, kettlebells, and clubs and maces.More
One of my favorite TV shows is “Blacklist.” yes, it is bloody, sordid, and unbelievable at times, but it’s TV. One aspect of the show focuses on an international cabal, whose leadership is still in question. But who needs TV? I hate to sound paranoid, but I think that Obama formed his own cabal. Was he the one to start it, or are we only seeing its latest iteration? Is George Soros behind all of these plans?
When you have people like Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, John Brennan, James Clapper, Lois Lerner, John Koskinen, James Comey, Adam Schiff, Susan Rice, and Samantha Powers clearly violating government policies for the same end, it makes one wonder what in the world is happening. Whose names have I forgotten? Do you think there is a person in charge of all of these people? Is there more of a plan than just getting rid of Donald Trump in the short term? Or is there a long-term diabolical outcome planned?More
“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” — Robert Heinlein
I recall the first time I was exposed to this expression was during the science fiction binge reading period of my late teens. It was from reading a novel by Robert Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Mr. Heinlein was a Naval Academy graduate, and after experiencing health issues left the Navy and did some additional graduate work in physics, which I am sure in hindsight influenced his notion that the universe gives nothing for free, and wound it into his opines on the nature of men, and well … nature.More
It’s called “swing.” Swing is a term that describes a perfectly timed, perfectly balanced racing shell in motion. It is the goal of every crew ever formed in the centuries of the sport’s existence, and it is difficult. Getting eight men to move as one is hard enough. When you put those eight men in a vessel less than 24” wide and 60 feet long, face them backward, tell them to pull on an oar as hard as they can, and continue pulling while discomfort mounts to unendurable levels, the task goes from monumental to just shy of impossible.
There was no good reason that our crew should find anything resembling swing. In September, we had entered the year with a promising crew of over 30 men, fielding four eight-man crews with coxswains – the small man or woman who sits in the back of the boat facing forward; steering, and commanding the cadence and race strategy. The fall season is for learning and refining technique, and above all, establishing your spring racing crew; the real races begin in March and finish in May. It is natural to suffer a certain amount of attrition over the fall; some men will be lost to injury, others to studies, and others just choose to lay down the oar in favor of less demanding activities. That particular year, however, the fall race season was a meat grinder. When I returned from winter break early for camp – our two weeks long, three-a-day training regimen, of the more than 30 rowers that started the year, there were only 12 of us left; nine oarsmen and three coxswains.More
In a post below, Ricochet member @scottwilmot told us about the changes to abortion law in Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposal and the New York State Catholic Conference’s perspective on those changes. In the comments on that post (which you should absolutely read), there seems some dispute about the actual details.
I’m not in a position to weigh in on the details or whether the NYSCC is correct (and again, I’ll refer you to the other thread), but I wanted to give some larger context about politics in New York and why it is far from a done deal.More
1. In many important ways, Trump’s been a great president.
2. He’s also obnoxious, nasty, and a bully. A big part of a president’s job involves character and being a role model, and he is absolutely awful. This is hurting him and his party politically. It hurts the country.More
Been trying to get to the range more. It’s amazing how a stone-cold proficiency with firearms helps keep the nightmares at bay. During one of my sojourns to said range, I saw a flier for a “Women Only” concealed carry/pistol introduction class.
Made me think. All the years Mrs. Mongo has seen me carrying, has watched as I enter the house after the workday, grab the nearest kid, and task him/her with “unload, clear, and safe this weapon,” I cannot recall her actually going to the range. Sure, she did some rooty-poot pistol work when she went into the Army,More
For years, my conservative friends and I have mocked Clinton Democrats for their defenses of Bill and Hillary. We reminded them how they pretended they didn’t know what really happened, how they pretended Clinton was innocent. How these “truth to power” feminists empowered a guy who treated women — including his wife — like crap. “What shameless hypocrites!” we cried. “What partisan fools! What stupid-on-purpose stooges!”
The election of Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania represents the smallest sliver of daylight appearing between the Democratic Party and the footsoldiers for Planned Parenthood.
It isn’t that Lamb is a pro-life Democrat. He isn’t. But he was very willing to be perceived as such. In other words, like Obama pretending to believe that marriage should be limited to the straight to get elected, Lamb is a hypocrite.More