Category Archives: News

My thoughts on the news of the day, both local, Colorado, national and international.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

In a bit of news from around the Arctic Circle, a film crew caught some footage of another starving polar bear.  Excerpt:

This year, biologist Paul Nicklen published a video online of an emaciated polar bear on Baffin Island rummaging through trash cans, looking for food. The polar bear was likely at death’s door when Nicklen captured the footage in late summer.
Nicklen, who founded the environmental group Sea Legacy, said he wanted to highlight the future polar bears face because of global warming. It worked, and the video has gone viral, sparking media coverage about a polar bear that’s a victim of a warming world.

“We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” Nicklen said, National Geographic reported.

“When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death,” said Nicklen. “This is what a starving bear looks like.”

Yes, bears are going to starve to death.  Mountain lions are going to starve to death.  Wolves are going to starve to death.  It is a sad but inevitable fact in the lives of large predators that some of them never quite get the hang of surviving.  The death rate of young bears in many environments is appalling.

But that’s nature for you.

There are a number of questions that I’d like to have answered that might shed a little more light on the whole thing:

  1. Assuming the bear did die, and it does indeed look inevitable from the film, did anyone do a necropsy on the animal to discover if it was injured, infested with parasites, or diseased?
  2. How old was the bear?  Young bears, especially young males, are frequently injured by larger, older bears as they seek their own territories.
  3. Were any other emaciated bears observed in the area?  If the environmental conditions were the root cause of this bear’s condition, then other bears in the area would be suffering as well.
  4. Where, exactly, was the bear?  Near a human habitation?  Polar bears are creatures of the coast and pack ice, but one hanging out near human habitations may (again) be a young one still learning how to survive, and maybe doing poorly.

In other words, there are just too many possible explanations to just go off and go “RRHHHEEEEE!  Global climate change!  We must cripple our economy now!”  Large predators almost never die peaceful deaths.  They are killed in fights with other predators, they are injured trying to take down a prey animal, they die of disease or by accident, or they just plain starve.  It’s a damned tough world out there, and in the Arctic, it’s several quantum levels tougher.

Blaming this on climate change is some Olympic-level jumping to a conclusion.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

National concealed-carry reciprocity is headed for a House vote.  But there may be a catch.  Excerpt:

A measure expanding carry protections slammed by gun control advocates is set for a full vote in the House this week but may be merged with other proposals.

The bill, H.R. 38, was marked up by the House Judiciary Committee and is on the weekly schedule for lawmakers to vote on this week, with some 213 signed on to support the move.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans support concealed carry reciprocity. Momentum, common sense, and the facts are on our side,” said the sponsor of the reciprocity bill, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC. “I want to thank Speaker Paul Ryan for his strong support of the Second Amendment, and I urge my colleagues to support this common-sense bill to protect law-abiding citizens.”

Here’s the catch:

One caveat that gun rights advocates warn of with H.R.38 is the likelihood the bill will be amended to include the language of a new “Fix NICS” act, which would add several accountability measures designed to ensure that federal agencies submit the records of criminals, domestic abusers and others prohibited from possessing guns to the FBI-maintained system while giving states incentives to up their own reporting.

“Does the NICS background check system have problems? Yes, it results in tens of thousands of unjustified denials of gun purchases every year. But like many bills in Congress, the fix-NICS doesn’t live up to its name – it will likely do the opposite,” warned U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who restarted the Second Amendment Caucus earlier this year. “It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms.”

I’d love to see national reciprocity pass, but I don’t like the idea of screwing around with adding questionable categories to the NICS database.  I have no issue with denying purchases to, say, convicted felons – they have been tried and convicted, so due process is satisfied.  But there are too many nebulous criteria being proposed, like disabled veterans who have been assigned someone to manage their financial affairs.  The worst suggestion is the addition of people on the “no-fly list” – a list which requires no due process to be included on, and to which there is no recourse if you are put on it by mistake.

Still.  This is grist for the sausage mill; such is the state of affairs in politics, in that you have to give some to get some.  I just hope we aren’t giving away a fundamental natural right for many Americans who do not deserve to lose same.

Animal’s Daily Marginal Literacy News

Now here’s a hell of a thing; one in five Americans, according to Pew Research, have not read a book in the past year.  And it gets worse!  Excerpt:

Last fall, Pew Research found that 27 percent of Americans had not read a book in the preceding year.

Unfortunately, our friends across the pond aren’t much better in this respect. According to a 2014 survey, roughly 26 percent of adults in Great Britain admitted to not reading and finishing a book for pleasure.

One might be able to dismiss such statistics to busyness or other similar factors. But is it possible that the growing numbers of the non-reading public are instead a sign of the decline of knowledge about books and the canon of literature in general? A March 2017 survey suggests such might be the case. Produced by The Royal Society of Literature, the survey asked nearly 2,000 British adults about their literature reading habits. Similar to the aforementioned 2014 survey, roughly 1 in 4 British adults had not read a piece of literature in the previous six months.

But even more interesting were the responses when researchers asked respondents to name an author of a literary work. As it turns out, 20 percent of respondents were unable to name even one. Of those who were able to name an author, more than half selected a modern, living author, such as J.K. Rowling.

Writers tend to be avid readers, and yr. obdt. certainly fits that stereotype.  (I’m currently on my ninth or tenth read-through of Asimov’s Foundation series.)  I can’t for the life of me imagine a life so intellectually impoverished as a life without books.

That must be a really good book.

Writing is, after all, probably the greatest innovation of civilized man.  It is the means by which we pass knowledge on down spans of generations.  It is through writing that Aristotle, Cicero, Mill, Hamilton and Jefferson speak to us over the centuries.  Books take us to distant times, to imagined futures, to far-away places, to other dimensions.

How, then, has it come to this, where so many people are without the joy of reading?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and, while we forgot to send in our links to The Other McCain this week, check out their Rule Five links.  Also, thanks to our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback.

Here is Reason on the recently-passed Senate tax reform bill.  Excerpt:

The Senate bill makes major changes to both individual and corporate taxation. It permanently slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 percent down to 20 percent, alters the way that businesses can expense new equipment, and reduces taxes on income earned by pass-through businesses, a tax structure in which corporate profits are taxed as individual income. Those changes could create an incentive for many businesses to restructure as pass-throughs as a form of tax arbitrage, which is what happened when the state of Kansas attempted a similar change. An analysis by the Tax Foundation found that the Kansas provision encourage tax avoidance but not economic growth.

The bill also cuts individual tax rates, nearly doubles the standard deduction, gets rid of the personal exemption, expands the child tax credit, and eliminates or caps several major tax code deductions, including the state and local tax deduction. It modifies, but unlike the House plan does not repeal, the alternative minimum tax, which disallows some deductions by high earners. Over the next decade, filers at all income levels would see a tax cut.

However, unlike the corporate tax reduction, which is permanent, the individual rate reductions are phased out by 2026, creating a major policy cliff, and nearly guaranteeing high-stakes legislative showdowns. The sunset was designed largely to ensure that the bill conformed with Senate budget rules, which require that legislation passed via the reconciliation process not increase the deficit after a decade. Republican leaders have argued that Congress is not likely to let those tax cuts expire. That, in turn, would result in a significant long-term deficit increase.

Full disclosure:  My consulting business, as in all of Mrs. Animal’s and my business ventures, are set up as pass-through businesses.  This bill (while Mrs. A, who manages our financial affairs, hasn’t had the chance to read the bill yet) will help us, assuming the pass-through rate cut stays in place in the final product.

Now, I may not be in the 1%, but I sure as hell am in the 10%.  Schumer and Company are predictably bemoaning the “wealth transfer from poor to rich,” which is laughably clueless – not that this is anything new for Congressional liberals.  But it is the categorization of lower-income people as “the working class” that bugs me.

This characterization of white-collar or higher-income earners as somehow not being “working people” has always been a peeve.  Sorry, but I work – part of the reason my consulting business has been a success is because I’ve worked pretty damn hard to make it one, including (especially in the beginning) a hell of a lot of unpaid hours.  I’ve produced a lot of value for a lot of businesses, and after a few years of building a reputation in my industry, have ended up earning a pretty good living at it.

So, yes, the idea of lower marginal tax rates is pretty damned appealing.  The RHEEEE from the professional Left on this issue is pretty entertaining, given their sudden concern with deficit spending – to which my response can only be “cut spending.”

Rule Five Hawaii Screws Over Gun Owners Friday

Hawaii has legal medical marijuana, but be careful, because if you’re a gun owner, and you legally use marijuana, Hawaii proposes to give  you a good one right up the tailpipe.  Excerpts with my comments follow:

Hawaii is one of 29 states that allow medical use of marijuana, but it is the only state that requires registration of all firearms. If you are familiar with the criteria that bar people from owning guns under federal law, you can probably surmise what the conjunction of these two facts means for patients who use cannabis as a medicine, which Hawaii allows them to do only if they register with the state. This month many of them received a letter from Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, instructing them to turn in their guns.

“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” Ballard says in the November 13 letter, which Leafly obtained this week after Russ Belville noted it in his Marijuana Agenda podcast. “If you currently own or have any firearms, you have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms, permit, and ammunition to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) or otherwise transfer ownership. A medical doctor’s clearance letter is required for any future firearms applications or return of firearms from HPD evidence.”  (Emphasis added by me.)

Voluntarily?  Voluntarily?  Fucking voluntarily?  My ass – the state of Hawaii is using the full force and power of the state government to confiscate the property of law-abiding gun owners.  You know, in direct contrast to every pro-gun control prog who ever bleated “oh, we don’t want to confiscate anyone’s guns!”  Oh, and “oh, registration won’t lead to confiscation!  You’re just being paranoid!”  Well, Hawaii is giving a huge upraised middle finger to those claims – aloha, my middle-aged butt.

As authority for disarming medical marijuana users, Ballard cites Section 134-7(a) of Hawaii’s Revised Statutes, which says “no person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition.” The relevant federal provision prohibits possession of firearms by anyone who is “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Since federal law does not recognize any legitimate reason for consuming cannabis, all use is unlawful use, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives makes clear in a boldfaced warning on the form that must be completed by anyone buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer: “The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

And yet 28 other states, in a rare display of Federalism, have decided not to give a rat’s ass about this particular Imperial restriction, since marijuana is legal within their borders.  And in any case, that restriction applies to new sales of guns; it doesn’t give a state government license to confiscate the property of private, law-abiding citizens.

Most people probably do not realize how casually the federal government strips Americans of their Second Amendment rights, because enforcement of these longstanding rules is spotty and haphazard. Federal law notionally bars gun ownership by all of America’s 38 million or so cannabis consumers, along with millions of other unlawful users of controlled substances, including anyone who takes a medication prescribed for someone else or uses it for a purpose different from the one specified by a doctor (for back pain rather than tooth pain, say). But enforcing that ban is difficult because the FBI and the ATF generally don’t know who the unlawful users are. Hawaii has begun to lick that problem and therefore can give us a sense of what “enforcing the laws that are already on the books,” as the NRA frequently recommends, would look like in practice.

There’s an obvious answer:  The Imperial government should decriminalize, if not completely legalize, marijuana, as I’ve been saying for almost 40 years.  It’s a stupid and senseless use of law-enforcement resources, for one thing; for another, marijuana was in fact legal until the 1930s, and somehow for all that time society as we know it didn’t end.

Then Hawaii’s gun grabbing state government could do the appropriate thing and fuck right off.

Animal’s Daily Matt Lauer Can Suck It News

The latest in the creepy sexual predator hit list:  Matt Lauer.  Excerpt:

Matt Lauer, a familiar face in morning news as the anchor of “Today” for two decades, was fired by NBC News on Wednesday after a female colleague made a detailed complaint accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The accusation also noted that the alleged behavior continued in the workplace after the games, NBC News confirmed.

Later on Wednesday, The New York Times reported that two more women had made complaints about Lauer after he was fired; NBC officials confirmed that two more accusers had come forward on Wednesday. And Variety published a more sweeping account of Lauer’s sexual misconduct with at least three women over several years.

“Today” co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb were emotional as they announced Lauer’s firing Wednesday, telling viewers at the top of the live broadcast that they were “heartbroken” over his departure but didn’t yet know all of the details.

But it gets better:  Apparently he had a secret button that locked his office door from the inside.  He could literally turn his office into a prison.  That’s a whole new level of creepy.

Still – at least I get to trot out this video:

When will this all end?  More to the point, what will the backlash be?  Will we get to the point where the Pence Rule is universally in place, and no man will be willing to ever be alone with any woman not his spouse or related to him by blood?

That may be precisely where we come out at.  And that won’t be good; it’s going to deprive a lot of women of opportunities, and make relations between the sexes stilted and awkward.  All because of a few men who are, apparently, creeps on the level of Algernop Krieger.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

The Obama Administration and Her Imperial Majesty, it seems, fucked up.  File this one under “Unintended Consequences”:  Africans are being sold at Libyan slave markets. Thanks, Hillary Clinton.  Excerpt:

Black Africans are being sold in open-air slave markets,  and it’s Hillary Clinton’s fault. But you won’t hear much about that from the news media or the foreign-policy pundits, so let me explain.

Footage from Libya, released recently by CNN, showed young men from sub-Saharan Africa being auctioned off as farm workers in slave markets.

And how did we get to this point? As the BBC reported back in May, “Libya has been beset by chaos since NATO-backed forces overthrew long-serving ruler Col. Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011.”

And who was behind that overthrow? None other than then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Under President George W. Bush in 2003, the United States negotiated an agreement with Libyan strongman Gadhafi. The deal: He would give up his weapons of mass destruction peacefully, and we wouldn’t try to depose him.

That seemed a good deal at the time, but the Obama administration didn’t stick to it. Instead, in an operation spearheaded by Clinton, the United States went ahead and toppled him anyway.

The overthrow turned out to be a debacle. Libya exploded into chaos and civil war, and refugees flooded Europe, destabilizing governments there. But at the time, Clinton thought it was a great triumph — “We came, we saw, he died,” she joked about Gadhafi’s overthrow — and adviser Sidney Blumenthal encouraged her to tout her “successful strategy” as evidence of her fitness for the highest office in the land.

Granted, it’s easy to screw up in this part of the world, which is fundamentally screwed up in the first place.  But President Obama and Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I really screwed the pooch, here.  Gadhafi was a son of a bitch, but he was a son of a bitch we knew how to deal with – and he was a son of a bitch who knew how to keep order in a part of the world where only a son of a bitch can do so.

Maybe we need to find and install more sons of bitches in that part of the world.  Here’s the question:  Is President Trump a big enough son of a bitch himself to do so?  I’m thinking he might just be.

And, while we’re talking sons of bitches, here’s another thought to ponder:  Who in the American Left, who are almost universally spun up on the supposed “oppression” of millionaire football players, will be the first to vocally condemn this burgeoning African slave trade?  Because so far, all I’m hearing is crickets.

Rule Five Clinton Cash Friday

Judicial Watch strikes again, releasing another slew of emails from The Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I.  Excerpt:

Two heavily redacted emails marked Classified Confidential included a November 2011 exchange under the Subject: “Egyptian MFA on Hamas-PLO talks,” and a June 28, 2011 email from Clinton to Abedin in which Clinton writes “I have now promised the Kuwaiti PM 3 times that I will deliver an address at the Oxford Islamic Center. Pls be sure that’s on the list for next Fall/next year.”

On March 9, 2011, Sid Blumenthal emailed Clinton about the situation in Libya, with the subject line “H: serious trouble for Libyan rebels. Sid” The email discusses urging leaders of the National Libyan Council (NLC) “to consider hiring private troops (mercenaries) to support, organize, and train the rebel forces in Libya.” Blumenthal adds that “a small number of private troops could turn the battle against Qaddafi’s forces, particularly if they are equipped with sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.” Clinton asks former aide Huma Abedin to “print for me w/o any identifiers”.

The Washington Times reported Libyan officials were deeply concerned in 2011 that Clinton was responsible for weapons being funneled to NATO-backed rebels in Libya with ties to al Qaeda.

On October 6, 2009, Clinton’s then-Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills emailsI am purposefully on gmail” to Abedin and Maggie Williams, former campaign manager for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. [Emphasis added] Mills was responding to an October 4, 2009, email from Clinton, most of which was redacted.

On January 6, 2012, Clinton can be seen “expediting” a citizenship request so the requestor can get a government job in policy or law enforcement:

I am told by Citizenship and Immigration (CIS) caseworkers that it may be at least another 8 months before they get to me, making the total time more than a year (they advertise 6 months total turnaround time).

Would you consider helping me by reaching out to DHS Secretary Napolitano or CIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas who reports to her on my behalf? The ask is to simply consider moving up my applications for review ASAP. My application is complete, straight forward and I have nothing to hide.”

Clinton responds: “I’m copying Huma [Abedin] and asking her to see if we can help expedite this for you because we want you to be a citizen as soon as possible! I’ve got my fingers crossed.  Happy New Year–H”

How many times have I pointed out that Her Royal Highness is probably the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figure since Huey Long?

What’s staggering here is the chutzpah shown by Her Royal Highness in almost all of her dealings.  She has comported herself as though appearances just didn’t matter a damn; she was going to have her private email server, she was going to engage in underhanded dealings with agents of foreign powers, she was going to underwrite shady dealings giving Russian interests control over a significant portion of American uranium production…

…and she just did not give a good Goddamn who knew it.

I’ve been saying since the summer of 2015 that Donald Trump wasn’t my first, second or third choice for President.  But with his election, the country (as I’ve also been saying repeatedly dodged a major bullet, in that Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I will never sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Human origins has long been an interest of mine, but clickbait headlines are one of my pet peeves.  Consider the following headline:  Skull Found In China Could Re-Write The ‘Out of Africa’ Theory of Human Evolution.  Now consider this excerpt:

The important head, known as the Dali skull, was found 40 years ago in China. It was once a member of the early species – and our ancestor – the Homo erectus. It is surprisingly intact, with scientists still able to see the face and brain case as it would have been when its owner was living around 260,000 years ago.

It has strange similarities too with modern Homo sapiens. And the new research suggests that it has far more than expected in common with specimens found in Morocco.

Taken together, the research suggests that humans might not have evolved in Africa and then left, as has long been thought to be the case, researchers Xinzhi Wu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Sheela Athreya of Texas A&M University told the New Scientist. The similarities suggest that the early modern humans might not have been isolated in one place as their characteristics evolved, the scientists say, instead sharing characteristics across the world.

H. erectus is a species first described in 1891, so hardly a brand-new thing.  They were a very successful species of human, persisting with very little change for over a million years.  They were probably the first humans to use fire.

And it’s been quite a while now that paleoanthropologists have known that the picture of human evolution as very complex, with

Probably not an accurate reproduction.

populations overlapping and interbreeding.  If you are of European or Asian descent, for example, your genome includes a not-insignificant percentage of Neandertal and possibly Denisovan DNA.

So, a more accurate headline here would be “A skull found decades ago has been discovered to to present some interesting new variations on the way early humans were thought to have developed.”

But, of course, that won’t get you as many clicks.

Animal’s Daily Dead Nutbar News

Hooray!  Charles Manson is dead!  Excerpt:

Charles Manson, a small-time car thief with wild eyes, had the monstrous ability to bend followers to unspeakable evil.

He used that ability to remake himself into perhaps the most notorious mass murderer in California history, terrorizing Southern California in 1969 with a string of nine savage slayings — including that of a promising young actress named Sharon Tate — that earned him a death sentence and made his name synonymous with depraved wickedness.

Manson, who spent the last 48 years of his life behind bars, died Sunday night at a Kern County hospital, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. He was 83.

The prison agency said Manson died of natural causes at 8:13 p.m. He had been housed at California State Prison in Corcoran from 1989 until falling ill several days ago.

As I’ve noted before, when someone dies, you should find something good to say about them.  In this case as in a few others, the only comment I can make is “he’s dead.  Good.”

Manson and his cult followers were some of most truly, irredeemably evil people that recent history has produced.  The only sad part of this episode is that it took this damn long for Manson to be shuffled off this mortal coil; were there any cosmic justice, once the death penalty was out of the picture for Manson, he should have died of pancreatic cancer or something else suitably painful and torturous.  Instead, he was maintained at taxpayer expense for decades.

But he’s gone now.  And that, True Believers, is manifestly a Good Thing.