Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 9th, 2014

“Center ring at the Republican circus”

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A circus that offers only clowns, unfortunately. The NY Times has a scathing editorial today:

The hottest competition in Washington this week is among House Republicans vying for a seat on the Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal. Half the House has asked to “serve” on the committee, which is understandable since it’s the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand.

They won’t pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration. On Thursday, they voted to create a committee to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to conduct an investigation of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The day before, they voted to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official whom they would love to blame for the administration’s crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can’t, because there wasn’t.

Both actions stem from the same impulse: a need to rouse the most fervent anti-Obama wing of the party and keep it angry enough to deliver its donations and votes to Republicans in the November elections. For a while it seemed as if the Affordable Care Act would perform that role, but Republicans ran into a problem when the country began to realize that it was not destroying American civilization but in fact helping millions of people.

Party leaders needed something more reliable, so they went back and revived two dormant scandals from last year, the embers of which were faithfully tended by Republican adjuncts on Fox News and talk radio. Their hope is to show that the administration is corrupt and untrustworthy, and if Hillary Rodham Clinton also gets roughed up in the process, so much the better. . . .

Continue reading.

And by all means read this post in the New Yorker by Jane Mayer, which compares and contrasts the way the tragedy of Benghazi has been handled by the GOP to the way the Democrats handled a couple of tragedies in the presidency of Ronald Reagan: the deaths of 241 US troops in Lebanon because of inadequate security procedures and the deaths 63 people (including 17 Americans) in the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut. No circus then. From her post:

There were more than enough opportunities to lay blame for the horrific losses at high U.S. officials’ feet. But unlike today’s Congress, congressmen did not talk of impeaching Ronald Reagan, who was then President, nor were any subpoenas sent to cabinet members. This was true even though then, as now, the opposition party controlled the majority in the House. Tip O’Neill, the Democratic Speaker of the House, was no pushover. He, like today’s opposition leaders in the House, demanded an investigation—but a real one, and only one. Instead of playing it for political points, a House committee undertook a serious investigation into what went wrong at the barracks in Beirut. Two months later, it issued a report finding “very serious errors in judgment” by officers on the ground, as well as responsibility up through the military chain of command, and called for better security measures against terrorism in U.S. government installations throughout the world.

In other words, Congress actually undertook a useful investigation and made helpful recommendations. The report’s findings, by the way, were bipartisan. (The Pentagon, too, launched an investigation, issuing a report that was widely accepted by both parties.)

In March of 1984, three months after Congress issued its report, militants struck American officials in Beirut again, this time kidnapping the C.I.A.’s station chief, Bill Buckley. Buckley was tortured and, eventually, murdered. Reagan, who was tormented by a tape of Buckley being tortured, blamed himself. Congress held no public hearings, and pointed fingers at the perpetrators, not at political rivals.

If you compare the costs of the Reagan Administration’s serial security lapses in Beirut to the costs of Benghazi, it’s clear what has really deteriorated in the intervening three decades. It’s not the security of American government personnel working abroad. It’s the behavior of American congressmen at home.

By all means, read the whole thing.

 

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2014 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP

Bad-faith legislating

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When legislators work out schemes to pass laws that they know the public doesn’t want, something is very, very wrong with their idea of governance in a democracy. Cliff Weathers describes one example at AlterNet:

Auto dealer lobbies have strong ties to state houses across the U.S., and a perceived threat to their dealerships from Tesla Motors direct-sale model is prompting them to lobby politicians to enact sales bans. But banning the very popular green car doesn’t sit well with the public, politicians have found. This has prompted stealth legislation, introduced quietly with few announcements and even less debate.

Missouri is the latest state to try to slip in anti-Tesla legislation without anyone noticing. The “Show Me State” legislature is trying to obscure their actions by slipping through legislation as it current session comes to an end this Spring.

Just this week, the state’s auto dealers proposed new language in an existing bill that would force consumers to buy new cars and trucks only through franchised dealerships. The bill, HB 1124, has been in bouncing around since late last year, and was passed by the state’s House in mid April without containing any anti-Tesla language. But this week, the bill reemerged with the new language aimed to stop Tesla from selling cars. This Senate version passed with no public consultation whatsoever, and will likely move to the House floor for a final vote, essentially without debate.

This change to the bill is not just a minor amendment, it has morphed into a bill that is completely unrelated to the original one, which related only to sales for off-road and all-terrain vehicles and barred the manufacturers from competing against their franchisees (for example, Ford Motor Company cannot compete against Ford dealerships). Tesla, which doesn’t have franchisees or a dealership network, would not have been effected by the original bill.

The amendment also attempts to redefine the word “franchisor” to mean “manufacturer”, a slick change of legal wording of which legislators may not even be aware. This goes beyond automotive dealers trying to protect their existing monopolies – this legislation seeks to create a new car-sales monopoly.

Back in March, New Jersey’s became the fifth state to bar Tesla from selling their cars directly to consumers without a middleman. The Christie administration said they supported the legislation because . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2014 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Business, Government, Law

Gov. Cuomo pulls an Obama: Promises transparency, promotes secrecy

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And Cuomo, like Obama, is a Democrat. Democrats increasingly resemble Republicans in their policies and mendacity. Justin Elliott reports in ProPublica:

dopting a tactic that has been used by officials ranging from Sarah Palin to staffers of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are sending emails from private accounts to conduct official business.

I know because I got one myself. And three other people who interact with the governor’s office on policy or media matters told me they have too. None of the others wanted to be named.

The tactic appears to be another item in the toolbox of an administration that, despite Cuomo’s early vows of unprecedented transparency, has become known for an obsession with secrecy. Emailing from private accounts can help officials hide communications and discussions that are supposed to be available to the public.

“Government business should never be conducted through private email accounts. Not only does it make it difficult to retrieve what is a government record, but it just invites the suspicion that a government employee is attempting to evade accountability by supervisors and the public,” said Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, a frequent requester of records under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

Emailing from private accounts also may violate state policy. State employees are not to “use a personal email account to conduct State business unless explicitly authorized,” according to a policy bearing the governor’s name published by the Office of Information Technology Services.

The Cuomo administration declined to comment on whether any employees are authorized to use private accounts.

Back when he was running for governor, Cuomo pledged, “We must use technology to bring more sunlight to the operation of government.” . . .

Continue reading. Apparently Cuomo is no more trustworthy than Obama—which is to say, not to be trusted.

Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2014 at 10:47 am

Posted in Democrats, Government, Law

Higher CO2 levels increase crop yields, decrease crop nutrients

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Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2014 at 10:42 am

Posted in Food, Global warming

That BBS result when you shave a multi-day stubble: You can get it daily with a slant

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SOTD 9 May 2014

I saw a comment on Wicked_Edge about the joys of the incredibly good shave one can get when shaving a multi-day stubble. I have also enjoyed the phenomenon, when it occurred to me that, by using a slant, it’s possible to achieve this result with a daily shave. Just to test, I used my Stealth slant this morning, with that very result: totally smooth BBS, as if I had shaved for the first time in four days.

The prep used the Mühle silverfiber brush shown and HoneyBee Soaps Piña Colada shaving soap—a very nice fragrance, to my nose.

Three passes with the Stealth and I had a completely smooth face, with no nicks, no burn, and of course no roughness. A good splash of K.C. Atwood from ProspectorCo.com, and the weekend draws near.

I forgot to mention the aftershave when I used ProspectorCo’s other witch-hazel based aftershave the other day, Peary & Henson. Both are excellent, particularly for those who want a non-alcohol splash.

Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2014 at 10:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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