March 01, 2014

Yard and Garden Thread: Make Your Bed Edition [Y-not and WeirdDave]
— Open Blogger

Good afternoon, morons & moronettes. Welcome to your Saturday Gardening Thread!

This thread brought to you by ”Thanks for the snack!”:

MooseGarden.jpg

By the way, this guy was no help at all!

YellowLabGarden.jpg

Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about raised beds below the jump.
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Posted by: Open Blogger at 11:55 AM | Comments (166)
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February 28, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (28 Feb 2014)
— CDR M

Hold on to your butts morons, even though tomorrow is the first day of March, old man Winter is bringin' some more stormage. SoCal is getting a soaking and possibly a Sharknado. And there are indications of another storm that may have a surprise for the southeast/mid-Atlantic by the end of next week.

more...

Posted by: CDR M at 04:53 PM | Comments (864)
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So Here's The Thing: We and Britain Have a Treaty with Ukraine Pledging to Come to Their Aid if Their Territorial Integrity is Violated
— Ace

It was signed by Clinton and John Major in 1994. The reason we signed this treaty was to give the Ukraine a guarantee that we wouldn't let Russia invade them -- and we had to do that because we were asking them to give up their nuclear weapons.

They did give up their nukes. The one thing that could have guaranteed their freedom from Russia. And we in turn promised to help protect them.

And here we are.

I call it a "treaty" so you understand what I'm talking about, but I don't know if it's actually a treaty. It is called the "Budapest Memorandum," and I don't know if it was ever submitted to Congress.

he U.S. and Britain have both made crisis phone calls to President Putin to urge him not to intervene in Ukraine's Crimea, with the White House warning him it would be a 'grave mistake'.

NATO also asked Russia not to take action that could escalate tension. However Moscow responded by telling the organization to 'refrain' from provocative statements on Ukraine and respect its 'non-bloc' status.

Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said that war could be an option 'if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.'
It promises to protect Ukraine's borders, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.

Today Kiev has demanded the agreement is activated after insisting their borders had been violated.

In response Mr Brenton said in a BBC radio interview: 'If indeed this is a Russian invasion of Crimea and if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding then it's very difficult to avoid the conclusion that we're going to go to war with Russia'.
Ukraine accused Russia of a 'military invasion and occupation', saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula.


And maybe this is why they are claiming that Ukraine hasn't been invaded at all: Why, the thousands of Russian troops coming into the Ukraine in APCs and military planes don't represent an invasion that would trigger our treaty obligations. No no no, foolish boy. It's not an invasion -- it's an "uncontested arrival" of troops, according to Obama.

Much like someone might arrive uncontestedly in your mouth, after promising not to.

And, as JohnE says, here we are:


And here we are: more...

Posted by: Ace at 01:28 PM | Comments (428)
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Two Events Happening Simultaneously
— JohnE.

Good luck stomaching this.

5:37 PM ET:


5:39 PM ET:



Obama resumes his fundraising schedule after short Ukraine statement.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Posted by: JohnE. at 12:51 PM | Comments (215)
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MSNBC Keeps a Laser-Like Focus on Today's Big Story
— Ace

You will think what I'm about to post is a joke, or a p-shop.

It's not. It's real. What I'm posting is MSNBC's actual homepage today.

Remember: This is real.

This is happening.

msnbchomepage.jpg

JohnE. attempted to interest MSNBC in other stories. He was unsuccessful.

Walter Cronkite Award Winner for Excellence in Journalism Ronan Farrow covers today's biggest story -- the mostly-white make-up of Academy Awards voters.

Oh: MSNBC will cover the Ukrainian situation, but for only one reason: Obama's giving a statement on it at 4:45 pm, or, as the rest of us call it, 5:22 pm.

Posted by: Ace at 11:29 AM | Comments (352)
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As Expected, Russia Takes the Crimea;
Kerry Issues "Warning" or Something

— Ace

I don't really want to rip on Kerry too much for this (and do not mistake my reluctance to criticize him on this for some kind of general approval of his horrible leadership), because the US isn't going to war for the Crimea, and it would be silly to even suggest that we would.

One of the most famous poems in the English language is about a futile and pointless military action in the Crimea ending in gloriously bloody disaster, after all.

No one would believe it, and this would become yet another of Obama's many red lines which must not be crossed which are nevertheless crossed.

But, as Allah says, the Administration is still warning Russia not to cross "the intervention line."

What does that mean? Does the line refer to Russia's intervention, or a line that would trigger our intervention?

Either way, that line has been crossed. With Armored Personnel Carriers.


brb, crossin' an intervention line

Russia has taken over a couple of airports, a sea port, and of course the major Crimean port of Svestapol. They're also blocking telephone hubs and canceling air travel. And they're issuing Russian passports to Russian-speaking Crimeans, something they did when they invaded Georgia, too. I guess the idea is that they make them officially Russian, as some part of their "We're just intervening to defend our native Russian comrades" justification.

In short, it looks like they're taking over Crimea, as expected. The only question now is whether they will be emboldened enough to move on the rest of the Ukraine, or perhaps just part of it (the Russian-speaking half to the east).

Here's another question: Will they formally annex Crimea? Or just make it an unofficial territory?

Here's why that's important: They can claim Crimea is still officially part of Ukraine, so that the Crimean Russian population can still vote in Ukraine's elections, despite being, essentially, now part of Mother Russia.

Think they wouldn't? They'd call it a "compromise" to leave Crimean nominally in the Ukraine, when in fact it would be another move to control Ukraine.

Posted by: Ace at 10:40 AM | Comments (431)
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Deeply Upsetting: Report Details Abuse of Taxpayer Money at Treasury, and Supervisors Who Did Nothing About It
— Ace

I don't even want to link things like this. It's too maddening.

There is political agitation, and then there is stuff that really agitates you, and sends your blood pressure shooting up.

Officials in two Treasury Department bureaus fraudulently enriched themselves at taxpayer expense, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

The assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Public Debt who supervised 108 employees in the bureau's West Virginia office “was committing egregious time and attendance fraud," depriving taxpayers of nearly $100,000 in salary for hours she did not work, according to one of several Treasury Department inspector general documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, most of which had previously gone unreported.

The official, despite being paid an average yearly salary of nearly $170,000, "arrives at work approximately two hours late and/or takes two-hour lunch breaks and departs work at approximately 4:00 P.M. and does not take leave," and "consistently conducts personal business involving the Humane Society during work hours," IG investigators found after verifying a tip from an employee who said the top official "abuses her power by being absent whenever desired."

Her supervisor, the deputy commissioner, knew about the absences but did nothing, the investigators said.

...

Another inspector general investigation found that at the Office of Thrift Supervision, a GS-15 employee -- one of the highest ranks a federal career civil servant can obtain -- agreed to be transferred from an office near Los Angeles to an office near San Francisco and took $10,000 in relocation expense reimbursement, but then never moved.

She also submitted massive travel bills for routine travel to her new office, including hotel stays, to the OTS, which approved them.

She “submitted travel vouchers costing the OTS ... $87,047 in travel that would not have incurred if she had relocated," investigators wrote.

As with the Hines case, supervisors were aware of the wrongdoing, but did nothing to correct it.

There's more at the link.

Each of these ladies seemed to think they could get away with fairly brazen actions.

That doesn't bother me so much: You know my basic philosophy-- People Are Awful.

Here's what does bother me: They were right to believe that they could get away with brazen actions.

How did they know they could get away with this? What is so wrong with this system that federal workers know they can do whatever they like without having to worry about losing their jobs?

Posted by: Ace at 09:39 AM | Comments (268)
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AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, Jim Lakely
— andy

Jim Lakely, Kommunications Direktor of the eeeevilll reich-wing think tank The Heartland Institute joins Ace, Gabe, Drew and John to discuss Heartland's work debunking catastrophic manmade global warming. They move on to the Arizona religious freedom bill, the proposed 2015 DoD budget, quick hits and questions from the Moron Mailbag.

Mentioned in the podcast:

Questions & comments here: Ask the Blog

Intro/outro in memory of Harold Ramis. Thanks for the laughs.

[MP3 Download] | Subscribe: rss.png[RSS] | itunes_modern.png[iTunes]

Follow on Twitter:
AoSHQ Podcast (@AoSHQPodcast)
Ace (@AceofSpadesHQ)
Drew M. (@DrewMTips)
Gabriel Malor (@GabrielMalor)
John E. (@JohnEkdahl)
Andy (@TheH2 and @AndyM1911)

Open thread in the comments.

Posted by: andy at 12:15 PM | Comments (116)
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Don Lemon: Journalists Have to Weigh How Much They Can Criticize President Obama Because He's Black
— Ace

True. Obviously true. We've seen a level of protectiveness towards Obama that exceeds all previous media flacking for Democratic presidents -- even ones they loved, like Bill Clinton.

Why are supposed truth-tellers so reluctant to tell the truth? Why is Don Lemon's admission of the glaringly obvious only news now, five years into Obama's term?

Video at the link. Here's the key quote:

LEMON: Everyone is being looking to hit him and everyone is looking to punch him, and I understand that, and as a journalist you weigh how much you should criticize the president, because he's black, what have you, but then you have to do it because ultimately you're a journalist. Journalists have to, black people have to, white people, Hispanic. We all must hold him to this because, as he said, it is an issue for the country, not just for one demographic.

He said this in a long (longer than this) response to Jake Tapper. I don't know what Jake Tapper's question actually was, as it's not on the video.

Open Thread and happy weekend.

Posted by: Ace at 02:51 PM | Comments (307)
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Speculation, Rumors: Hillary Clinton's Health Is Poorer Than Disclosed
— Ace

Of course we knew this chatter was coming since Hillary's health scare a couple of years ago.

There's not much in this story except for speculations and reports on the rumors. The rumors, of course, speculate that she won't run for president, due to health problems. There are reports in the National Enquirer and Globe, but their reliability is, of course, shaky.*

Asked about her health on Thursday, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in an email to The Daily Caller: ”To your question, very caring of you to ask. She’s 100%.”

But the rumors suggesting otherwise date back to the end of 2012, when Clinton’s health made headlines as she finished her term as secretary of state: aides explained then that she developed a stomach virus, hit her head, suffered a concussion and subsequently developed a blood clot in her brain but was being medicated and was expected to recover.

Obviously, I have no idea. Without evidence, I take this to be the normal sort of chatter you hear about every presidential candidate.

* I know people will point out, accurately, that the National Enquirer has nailed some stories (such as John Edwards' love child) that the media would not touch. And of course that's true.

However, the National Enquirer's claim that Hillary has "brain cancer" or an "inoperable brain tumor" date back to 2012, and the story said that details were leaking out. The suggestion, it seems to me, was that the secret wouldn't hold, and general reportage would soon be catching up with the National Enquirer.

But here we are, more than a year later, and the secret, if it exists, still holds. And if she does have a secret, it looks like she's going to be able to keep it.

Posted by: Ace at 08:44 AM | Comments (367)
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Mollie Hemingway: The Media's OOOOPSI System for Misreporting All the Left's Various "Outrages," and the Press' Open Hostility to Faith
— Ace

Big piece.

One of the cherished vanities of the media class is that they are sophisticated thinkers who see deeply into stories -- unlike brutish conservatives, whose primitive minds can only detect the crudest outlines of things.

Oh?


The media seems entirely unwilling to even confess the possibility that being dragooned into actual participation in a gay marriage might be fairly characterized as impinging on someone's religious faith.

The Washington Post has it all figured out:

Let's be honest: The media likes gays and hates religious people, and they're eager to frame their reportage based on these preferences.

And then they'll mock the religious for believing themselves to be under siege and attacked and demeaned by the media and other important transmitters of cultural power (including, firstly, the government).

They'll call them paranoid for believing such a crazy thing.


Posted by: Ace at 07:57 AM | Comments (291)
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Tennessee State University Now Requiring Students to Wear Badges With a Built-In "Proximity Chip" So Their Movements In and Out of Buildings Can Be Tracked on Campus 24/7
— Ace

Wow. But See Caveat/Caution, Below.

The reason offered is that there has been a "rash" of vandalism on campus, some break-ins, and a recent shooting on school grounds. (The victim was not himself a student.)

The chip, I think, will not actually track everyone at all times. That is, I don't think it contains a strong radio signal that would allow a general second-by-second tracking of movement. I think the idea of the "proximity chip" is that it will only register a signal when it's brought close to specific locations which will detect proximity. So I'm guessing that mostly it will track people coming in and out of buildings, and perhaps their presence in major outdoor locations like the middle of a quad.

Though one could, of course, build so many such proximity-detection stations as to achieve that moment-by-moment tracking. Thus, in principle, they've established the principle of second-by-second location tracking. The only thing restraining them is budget -- how many position locators can you afford?

This is creepy, and it seems once again to be government/institutional overreach. The school, being a state school, is part of the government. The "problem" being solved here is... vandalism, which is a crime, and destructive, and annoying, but does that justify second-by-second monitoring of every student, as if he were a prisoner?

The shooting seems to be a one-off thing -- their press release speaks of a "rash" of vandalism but just the one shooting. Break-ins are ominous, but... isn't that why dorms have locked doors?

Every creepy, monitoring, controlling move is and will be justified by "safety" and "health" concerns.

I'm very curious about how all this happened. I'm curious about how people just decided that this was a perfectly reasonable response to vandalism.

Caveat/Caution: Commenters question whether or not this is simply the well-known sort of swipe card -- or touch card -- that are in common and widespread use in office buildings.

The news release makes it sound like it's more than that -- but perhaps they want to make it sound like it's more than it is to show they're really doing everything possible to crack down on vandalism. Maybe they're using terms like "proximity chip" when they really should just say: "We've now got swipe card readers on all exterior doors."

I don't know. But commenters make a good case that I'm blowing this out of proportion without knowing what is actually going on.

More:


Okay, well, if that's true, I'm not sure what's left of this post. Wearing an ID badge on campus is annoying, and not usually done, but I'm not sure I can pitch a proper bitch about that.

Posted by: Ace at 06:44 AM | Comments (266)
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Jeff Gordon Gets Vengeance on a Blogger
— Ace

Bloggers are annoying as eff. Even I think that, and I am one.

Last year Jeff Gordon shot a commercial for Pepsi Max in which he "pranked" people by unexpectedly taking them on a fast, wild ride.

Well, a blogger with the Gawker group claimed it was "fake." (Many commenters actually think the first video was fake, to one extent or another.)

So many people are probably taking some satisfaction in Jeff Gordon "pranking" the blogger who claimed the earlier was fake, by now taking him on a high-speed "escape" from pursuing "police."

Below is the first video -- the one claimed as "fake" -- and then a vengeance video that definitely isn't. (?)
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Posted by: Ace at 07:23 AM | Comments (126)
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Unexpectedly, Decent 4Q Growth of 3.2% Revised Way Down to an Anemic 2.4%
— Ace

This, the New York Times understatedly tells us, represents a "substantial" revision of the figure.

The figure was actually lowered below the level analysts expected. They thought it would be lowered to 2.5%.

They say they expect "lackluster" growth throughout this year. And:

It is also well below the so-called breakout speed economists have been hoping to see the economy sustain for more than a quarter or two.

No sh*t really?

Analysts are of course blaming... the weather. Yes, they figure it was all this Global Warming falling over much of the country that is responsible for the economy's failure -- now it its fifth year -- to reach break out speed.


Posted by: Ace at 05:34 AM | Comments (341)
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Top Headline Comments 2-28-14
— Gabriel Malor

IT'S FRIDAAAAAAAY!

Yesterday, Ace wrote about Nazis.

So did Jonah Goldberg over at NRO.

Eugene Volokh wrote about that American flag ban at a California high school. more...

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:49 AM | Comments (289)
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February 27, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (2-27-2014)
— Maetenloch

Well like Ace I'm just going to rely on my cumulative word average tonight.

25 Signs You're Grown Up

I've always said that if you have more than 3 keys on your keychain, own your own vacuum cleaner, and know all your tax rates, you're deeper down the gullet of the Snake of Aging than you might think. But here are 25 more indicators.

Life At 93

I've endured a few knocks but missed worse. I know how lucky I am, and secretly tap wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long odds. The pains and insults are bearable. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I've learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. If he sends back a warning, I'll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind.

..."Most of the people my age is dead. You could look it up" was the way Casey Stengel put it. He was seventy-five at the time, and contemporary social scientists might prefer Casey's line delivered at eighty-five now, for accuracy, but the point remains. We geezers carry about a bulging directory of dead husbands or wives, children, parents, lovers, brothers and sisters, dentists and shrinks, office sidekicks, summer neighbors, classmates, and bosses, all once entirely familiar to us and seen as part of the safe landscape of the day. It's no wonder we're a bit bent.

How To Avoid The Big Screw-Ups In Life: Advice To A 20-Year Old From People Twice His Age

  • If you can make a reasonable living doing what you love, DO WHAT YOU LOVE.. You may not get rich, but you'll get to do what you love. Don't quit your day job until doing what you love pays the bills, but don't incur big debt getting a law degree or an MBA if you really want to be an artist.
  • It's amazing how easy life is when you're honest with yourself and others. This doesn't mean you should be rude and inconsiderate, but it's better to be upfront when you have to rather than concealing things and letting them grow.
  • Set up a safety fund. Yes, I know the savings account interest rates suck right now, but having 3-6 months of expenses in readily accessible cash can save you a lot of hassle. It also allows you to loan money to friends when needed (do this judiciously).
  • The biggest disappointments in life are the result of misplaced expectation. Tempering unrealistic expectations of how great something will be can greatly reduce frustration.
  • Understand that at 22 you are at your most energetic and most creative, but your labor is valued very little. All the more reason to 1) stand up for yourself and look for the highest bidder and 2) get that degree.

And more at the link.

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Posted by: Maetenloch at 05:45 PM | Comments (809)
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The Rapidly-Declining Prospects for Democrats in the U.S. Senate
— CAC

Warning- wide margins. more...

Posted by: CAC at 04:09 PM | Comments (356)
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Must Read Open Thread
— JohnE.

Maet mentioned this on the ONT a couple nights ago, but this was a very good catch by Prof. Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection, so I wanted to highlight it again. Read the whole thing.

I’m not old enough to remember Tulipomania, but I am old enough to remember the inflation-readjusted real estate crash of the 1980s, the eyeballs-to-price ratios of the 1990′s tech bubble, and the no-money-down no-income-verification mortages of this century’s first decade.

...

New paradigm. Hmmm. Where have I heard that recently? (emphasis added)

>>>But as the Polk [Award] judges rightly recognized, Greenwald meets the definition of journalist – joining the long line of reporters who have broken accurate stories after sifting classified documents purloined by whistle-blowers. And he’s still working the Snowden material, as evidenced this morning on The Intercept, the new online magazine bankrolled by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald has decided to hang his digital shingle on that site. In a revolutionary era of new journalistic paradigms, who needs the old media?

Journalists should play an important role in exposing bubbles before they get too big.

But what if the journalists are the bubble?

This is a great question.

Regarding Ezra Klein specifically, I was always a little curious as to why so many in the media were surprised by the Washington Post's decision to let him go. The numbers never matched up. Many were impressed by WonkBlog's roughly 4 million pageviews per month. Well, okay. But, how much of that traffic was based off the very strong lead in from a major American publication? There's no way for us to tell what percentage of that traffic came from all that marketing and cross-promotion, but I'd bet it's a non-trivial amount.

For the sake of argument, let's say it's zero. Let's say Ezra could pick up his operation and start elsewhere (as he is basically doing). So take that 4 million pageviews a month and move it. Ezra reportedly wanted a staff of more than 30 and an annual budget of $10 million.

So do the math. At $10 RPM (revenue per thousand impressions), which many said was an ambitious goal, his site would only be making $40,000 a month. This is orders of magnitude away from reality, and why Jeff Bezos likely bit his tongue laughing at Ezra's proposal.

How many of these millionaire pet projects are going to continue to be around five or ten years from now? You have to wonder. It's often hard to tell, but traditional publications still need to turn a profit.

Also, open thread.

Posted by: JohnE. at 03:20 PM | Comments (179)
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March 01, 2014

Open Thread [CBD]
— Open Blogger

Just until someone posts some actual content.....

And....one puppy is a theist, one puppy is an atheist. Platinum membership (without ampersands) for all who guess correctly.

Cute puppies.jpg

Posted by: Open Blogger at 04:14 PM | Comments (164)
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February 28, 2014

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