Interesting Bits

10/23/2017 3:01

We're on the Titanic. A Fiscal Iceberg Is About to Hit

To put that in perspective, $457 billion is nearly what we spend on defense every year. It's almost half of what we spend each year on non-defense discretionary spending. It is half of what we spend each year on Social Security. And if we fail to pay the interest... well, let's not go there on a Monday morning, because you really don't want to think about what happens to us when the world's reserve currency ceases being that.

If the interest payments don't break us, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid will. Without reform, yesterday, those two programs will soon consume every penny Washington takes in, without a one leftover for little things like national defense, border security, or even paying the interest.

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10/23/2017 8:48

Not A Wise Idea

iHistory buffs from all around the country gathered at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park in Frederick County, Virginia, during the weekend of Oct. 14 to commemorate the 153rd Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek during the American Civil War.

Fought on Oct. 19, 1864, the event was the culminating battle of the Valley Campaigns of 1864, fought in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The battle ended in a Union victory.

Prior the scheduled event, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundationreportedly received a letter “threatening bodily harm to attendants of the event.”

....Despite what transpired Saturday, attendees carried on Sunday, with a twist: Prior to the start of the reenactment, both sides approached and shook hands. The Confederate Army played “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and the Union Army played “Dixie.” Both groups then chanted together “USA, USA.”

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10/23/2017 7:50

Everything you know about police shootings is wrong

Hands up, don’t shoot? Police officers are trained — training that is quickly reinforced by the realities of the job — to be cautious of the subject with hands in the air. What may look like surrender to an untrained observer is frequently a ploy to lure the officer close enough for an attack. Or, when gunshots are exchanged, what looks like surrender may be the involuntary response of a subject who has been shot.

Why not just wound? In the world of policing, officers shoot not to kill and not to wound but to stop the threat. That threat is rarely stopped by a single bullet. Rarely, except in the world of fiction, does a single bullet knock someone down. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, had been shot nine times, several of those wounds fatal, and he continued to toss bombs and shoot at the Watertown police. A person who has been knocked down remains a threat. Those who would have the officer “just shoot him in the knee” miss an important fact. Even assuming the officer can successfully hit that small, moving target, the subject still has both hands free to continue shooting.

As for shooting that weapon out of a subject’s hands? Many shooting events are sudden, surprising and evolve in seconds. In those seconds, while the subject has a weapon out and is shooting, the responding officer has to form the intention to respond, draw the weapon, ascertain that there are no innocents in the line of fire and then return fire — often while being fired upon. Those subjects are often fueled by drugs, rage, adrenaline and mental illness. Individuals do not stand there and present themselves like a silhouette. A twisting, turning, violent human being makes it impossible to just shoot someone in the leg or arm.

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10/22/2017 8:58

The Media Looked Away From Weinstein

Hollywood has a watchdog press, but it’s facing the wrong direction, protecting the powerful from the comparatively powerless.

 

The “good men need to do more” argument is a bit of a logistical cop-out, as most good men aren’t in a position to see, intervene, or truly deter the behavior. Sexual predators usually attempt to isolate their intended victims in part because they fear retribution from other men. The world is full of boyfriends, husbands, fathers, and brothers who violently object to attempts to sexually exploit their loved ones. As Philip Klein observes, men who are not creeps generally dislike hanging around with creeps. Talk of “toxic masculinity” right now feels like an effort to shift responsibility from Weinstein himself to all men, regardless of how they individually treat women.


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10/22/2017 8:51

Several Stadiums Nearly Empty As Anthem Protest Backlash

Lucas Oil Stadium has “tons,” of empty seats during the Indiana Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars. (Other stadiums are emptying out too. Caving in to Social Justice Trolls is suicidal)

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10/20/2017 9:05

College Students are Cllueless

After watching student after student expressed their disapproval of the plan, we then asked those same students what they thought of Senator Bernie Sanders’ new tax plan.

Immediately, they expressed excitement and support after hearing the details of the plan.

The only problem for them? There was no tax plan for Senator Sanders. The plan they loved was actually President Trump’s.

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10/19/2017 7:15

Mueller may not be very interested in justice

Much has been written about the prosecutorial prowess of Robert Mueller’s team assembled to investigate allegations of Russia’s involvement in the Trump campaign. Little has been said of the danger of prosecutorial overreach and the true history of Mueller’s lead prosecutor.

What was supposed to have been a search for Russia’s cyberspace intrusions into our electoral politics has morphed into a malevolent mission targeting friends, family and colleagues of the president. The Mueller investigation has become an all-out assault to find crimes to pin on them — and it won’t matter if there are no crimes to be found. This team can make some.

Yet Mueller tapped a different sort of prosecutor to lead his investigation — his long-time friend and former counsel, Andrew Weissmann. He is not just a “tough” prosecutor. Time after time, courts have reversed Weissmann’s most touted “victories” for his tactics. This is hardly the stuff of a hero in the law.

Weissmann, as deputy and later director of the Enron Task Force, destroyed the venerable accounting firm of Arthur Andersen LLP and its 85,000 jobs worldwide — only to be reversed several years later by a unanimous Supreme Court.

Next, Weissmann creatively criminalized a business transaction between Merrill Lynch and Enron. Four Merrill executives went to prison for as long as a year. Weissmann’s team made sure they did not even get bail pending their appeals, even though the charges Weissmann concocted, like those against Andersen, were literally unprecedented.

Weissmann’s prosecution devastated the lives and families of the Merrill executives, causing enormous defense costs, unimaginable stress and torturous prison time. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the mass of the case.

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10/19/2017 3:47

Sen. Schumer Wrote Off $58,000 Using Deduction He Wants to Save

Schumer wrote off $58,000 in state and local taxes last year, according to his publicly available federal tax returns. The amount Schumer wrote off is roughly equivalent to the median household income of $59,039 in 2016.

A report from the Tax Policy Center found that eliminating the deduction would save the federal government $1.3 trillion over 10 years, and would hit wealthy taxpayers the hardest.

“Taxpayers with incomes over $100,000 would have the largest tax increases both in dollars and as a percentage of income. Those taxpayers would pay 90 percent of the tax increase from eliminating the deduction, and 40 percent of the total would be paid by just taxpayers with incomes over $500,000,” the report stated.

 

 
 

 

 

That includes Sen. Schumer, whose income topped the half million mark last year, according to his tax returns.

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10/19/2017 7:33

Light in the Darkness

Studio C, a sketch comedy troupe out of Brigham Young University, has become an internet sensation, despite—or perhaps because of—its super-scrubbed brand of humor.

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10/19/2017 6:37

Blue States Getting Redder

FL Rs net +61,857 Since the election, Republicans have seen a net shift of nearly 62,000 in their direction. This represents a further net gain of about 6,000 since my last report, meaning that Republicans are gaining ground at the rate of about 6,000 per month. If this were to hold through 2020, Florida would be a Republican state.

*IA Rs net +70,801 Democrats can pretty well forget about Iowa, a state Obama carried and George W. Bush lost. This massive level of change bodes extremely well for neighboring Wisconsin and Minnesota, where we cannot track these changes, but which have some of the same demographics.

*NC Rs net +61,752 This is up another 1,000 since last month, and shows the Tar Heel State continues to turn back to the Republican Party as the Democrats are losing significant registrations. When combined with the 2016 3% black voting shortfall, North Carolina presents another bleak picture for the Democrats in the near future.

In short, among the truly contested states in 2016, the only ray of hope for the Democrats is Colorado, and even there, the trends have flattened some. They have stabilized New Jersey and Delaware, but Republicans continue to gain significant ground in Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and above all, Pennsylvania. If these trends continue through 2020, Florida would be have a slight Republican registration edge, North Carolina would be nearly even, and New Mexico would be close enough that it could never be taken for granted. Moreover, Pennsylvania and Iowa would be solid Trump states.

The remarkable thing about the Republican trending states is that they have moved steadily ever since last November, in almost every case without a single break. Democrats continue to lose voters, and they are not becoming independents. All of this appears to be due to Trump and Trump alone, as the Republican Party has not offered any reason to embrace it.


(The stats look solid here. The study is an indication that both political parties have lose touch with middle America.)

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10/19/2017 5:53

Sort of Symbolic for our Times

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George L. Duncan
George L. Duncan