Round Three This Week

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Maybe this is why. Eat your heart out WARMISTS

Sun’s Current Solar Activity Cycle Is Weakest in a Century
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer | December 11, 2013 06:50pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO — The sun’s current space-weather cycle is the most anemic in 100 years, scientists say.
Our star is now at “solar maximum,” the peak phase of its 11-year activity cycle. But this solar max is weak, and the overall current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, conjures up comparisons to the famously feeble Solar Cycle 14 in the early 1900s, researchers said.

“None of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle. So we will learn something,” Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University told reporters here today (Dec. 11) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. [Solar Max: Amazing Sun Storm Photos of 2013]

Read More Here:
http://www.space.com/23934-weak-solar-cycle-space-weather.html

This Begs The Question of the Year – Obama, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?

Obama Personally Apologizes to Americans Losing Health Plans

NEWSMAX
President Barack Obama on Thursday told Americans that he was sorry that they were losing their health insurance under Obamacare, despite his repeated assurances for more than three years that they could keep their coverage if they were pleased with it.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama told NBC News in an interview at the White House.

“We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them — and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/obama-apologizes-obamacare-health/2013/11/07/id/535499?ns_mail_uid=42200418&ns_mail_job=1550139_12142013&promo_code=15F1F-1#ixzz2nUI92iul

Not a terribly persuasive article

Your Editor is in some disagreement with this article from The Victory Girls:

The Cowardice of Conservatives
Kit+Lange+kitlangeby KIT LANGE on DECEMBER 14, 2013

I know a lot of passionate conservatives, and this article is going to anger most of you. I’m okay with that. George Orwell wrote that “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

We all have what I call “pet issues.”  Some of you are anti-abortion to the point that it’s all you talk about politically. Every political issue in the nation is abortion related.  Every blog post you write is about abortion.  All your resources, all your energy, all your passion goes into fighting abortion.   I have other friends who want to abolish the Federal Reserve.  You can (and do) rail all day about taxes and representation and economics.  You talk fair tax, flat tax, no tax.  To you, the greatest evil in this country is the government taking your hard earned money.  Others hate Obamacare.  You guys can spout any statistic you want about what it is and how it will change the country forever.  I know someone who claims that the War on Drugs(tm) is the source of all problems in America, and that if all states just legalized everything it would help so much stuff.   I even have a few friends who would technically fall into the “truther” category, where every single thing is a government conspiracy, perpetrated by the New World Order.  All of you are absolutely hardcore about what you believe, and almost all of you have one major thing in common.

You don’t really give a flying rip about the Second Amendment.

Some of you like guns.  Some of you own a few, and even shoot them.  A few of you even have your concealed carry permit.  But I know very few of you who are as passionate about the Second Amendment as you are about abortion or taxes or pot or “statism” or anything else.  It’s just not that important to you.  If someone asked you, you’d say you were pro-Second Amendment, but you’d never loudly tout the constitutionality of open, legal carry for all. You believe that people “have the right to have a gun but don’t really need an ‘assault rifle.’” You waffle on the whole “mentally ill” thing.  “Well, maybe the government SHOULD limit guns for mentally ill people.  Maybe unstable people shouldn’t have guns.  Maybe the government needs common sense regulations to limit gun violence and keep them out of the hands of criminals.”  Sadly, a lot of you, who I’ve heard go on and on about the things I just mentioned, don’t even own a gun—or you haven’t fired it in so long that you’re probably a worthless shot. Every single time I hear someone who calls themselves a limited government, America-loving conservative talking about their pet issue when I know for a fact they don’t give a rat’s rear end about gun rights, I want to kick them in the shins with my size 9½ boot.

Here’s a basic, unalienable truth for you:  If you do not have a gun, you cannot fight for anything.

A lot more at the link. Miss Lange continues to tell us that we are, in effect, helpless without owning firearms personally, and that we are depending upon other, apparently braver, people to defend our rights.

Long time readers know that your Editor is an absolutist when it comes to the Second Amendment. When the Second Amendment says that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, he believes that it means exactly that, shall not be infringed.1 But, just as the freedom of speech in the First Amendment does not compel people to speak, the right to keep and bear arms in the Second does not obligate individuals to own firearms; such is a matter of liberty and choice.

M1911 Colt .45

Your Editor has noted, more than once, that while he is in complete support of the right of the individual2 to own guns if he chooses, he has chosen himself not to own firearms. I have owned a rifle and a shotgun in the past, and when I was a teenager I did a (very little bit) of hunting, but I found it a sport that simply did not interest me very much. I sold those weapons long ago. And although Miss Lange thinks that some people might be a “worthless shot,” I did OK with my best friend Ken’s 1911 model Colt .45 in target shooting. But, Miss Lange’s scorn aside, I still choose not to own a firearm.

Why? Because I simply have no real use for one. I do not hunt,3 and I live in a very safe community; we’ve had only three murders in my county so far this century! To me, the probabilities of needing a firearm for self-defense are lower than the chances of an accident occurring with the weapon. Miss Lange might disagree with such a calculation, but she is at liberty to make such calculations about herself and her family, and I about myself and my family.

However, for Miss Lange, the affirmative exercise of our Second Amendment rights is not about hunting and it is not about being able to defend yourself from an armed burglar4:

Until you are willing to fight and die—today, if it came to that—for the things that you say you believe, then it is nothing but lipservice. Unless you are willing to take up the Second Amendment for the purpose it was designed for, do not go around talking about how “We” are going to take back Congress. We are going to abolish abortion. We are going to end the Fed. We are going to impeach Obama. We are going to end Obamacare. You know what you sound like, with all your big words and lofty aspirations? A bunch of loud old Code Pink activists, standing around in a group banging on drums and talking about how they’re going to bring peace to the world. No one takes them seriously, and no American patriot who actually owns a firearm and is willing to die with it in their hand takes you seriously either.

Now, how am I supposed to take this? “Impeach(ing) Obama,” even if it is ever done — something about as probable as an asteroid strike within the next 3 years — is an act of law, specified under the Constitution, and not a matter of armed rebellion. The same is true about making abolishing the Federal Reserve System or ending legal abortion; I believe that all abortions except to save the life of the mother from imminent danger5 should be made illegal, but in Miss Lange’s connection of such to the Second Amendment, one could infer that she is referring to an armed rebellion to change those laws, or, at the very least, commando missions to eliminate known abortionists. Whether that was what she meant to imply is a question I shall leave to her to answer.

Freemen use their liberty. They exercise it, they train in it, they live it. They teach their children its importance. And above all they protect the means by which it is defended.  Liberty is not a big, comfy pillow that you can pick up at Walmart. It is a calling; it is a lifestyle, a belief system. It is bigger than abortion, bigger than taxes. It is the absolute foundation of everything that you should be if you reside in this nation as a citizen and partake of its freedoms.  It is what sets apart a free man from a slave.  I know a great number of free men, and I rest assured knowing that if and when the day comes, my foxhole will be far from empty.  I also know a lot of cowards who are all talk, who ‘defend liberty’ but think the Second Amendment can be someone else’s pet issue. Which group are you in?

This isn’t a call for you to start shooting people over your pet issue.  But it IS a call for you to examine your own heart and soul.  If you do not own a gun, or if you are not willing to use it if necessary for its intended purpose under the Second Amendment, then you are every bit as much a freeloader as those who live off the welfare state, for you are partaking of the benefits of freedom without any contribution.  You are allowing those who carry, those who fight for gun rights, to protect your right to do what you do.  All of your posturing, all of your picketing and marching and letterwriting means nothing.  Without a gun, you’re just walking around waiting for the noose to tighten around your neck.   Without a gun, nothing else you believe matters.

And with that, Miss Lange has completed the insult. Given that I have chosen — and, after reading her attempt at persuasive writing, still continue to choose — not to own a firearm, I am, according to Miss Lange, a slave, a freeloader and a coward. So be it; I doubt that there is anything I could write which would change her opinion on that matter, and so I shall not waste the bandwidth.6

Miss Lange has, of course, an absolute First Amendment right to say and publish whatever she wishes, whether I happen to agree with it or not. But I would suggest that if her intention was to persuade people who support the things in which she believes but do not currently own weapons to go out and purchase one, she might not have done a particularly good job of it.
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  1. The Fourteenth Amendment allows the states to restrict the rights of individuals who have committed crimes as long as due process of law has been observed. This provision allows the states and federal government to abridge the right to keep and bear arms of convicted felons.
  2. In McDonald v Chicago and District of Columbia v Heller, the Supreme Court held that the “Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” (Quote from syllabus of Heller.)
  3. And, considering a couple of the ready, fire, aim! types I have known, would never, ever, go into the woods this time of year, during deer season!
  4. Though she in no way derides or minimizes such uses.
  5. This is a matter of practicality; if the pregnancy kills the mother, her unborn child will die with her.
  6. And long time readers know that I have never been afraid to waste bandwidth. :)

Economics 101: Detroit is failing because it had to fail

From The Wall Street Journal:

Detroit Launches New Program to Repair Streetlights
Nearly Half City’s 88,000 Lights Are Broken; New Authority Plans to Borrow Funds to Revamp System
By Matthew Dolan | Dec. 8, 2013 6:50 p.m. ET

DETROIT—On Harper Avenue, along a busy but dimly lighted commercial strip of shops and corner bars, James Jennings checked one street lamp after another, searching for one he could fix.

“If I can get it burning, I’ll get it burning,” Mr. Jennings said. But the night-shift worker for the Detroit Public Lighting Department wasn’t having much luck. Most of the poles here are stripped of copper or the underground wiring is fried—trouble that no new bulb will correct.

Problems in this bankrupt city run deep. Police on average take nearly an hour to respond to some of the most serious calls. Firefighters must contend with blazes that erupt among the roughly 78,000 abandoned and vacant structures. The population has shrunk to 700,000 from a high of 1.8 million decades ago.

But when federal bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes last week affirmed the city’s eligibility for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, he cited streetlights as a prime example of Detroit’s decline. Nearly half of the city’s 88,000 street lamps are dark, according to city estimates.

“The city does not have enough money to take care of its residents, let alone pay its debts,” the judge said in the Dec. 3 ruling that cleared the way for Detroit to cut future payments to unsecured creditors, including pension funds.

More at the link.

Most of the stories that we see concerning the bankruptcy of Detroit concern the pension worries of retired and soon-to-retire Detroit municipal workers.  How bad is the problem? From The Detroit News:

Firefighters, along with police officers, don’t qualify for Social Security while other city workers do. The city has about 23,000 former employees collecting pensions. On average, general workers collect about $18,700 a year and police and firefighters average around $30,700.

The Detroit News article referenced Bonnie Walls, the 87-year-old widow of a former Detroit treasury worker, who now lives in Leesburg, Florida, — about a thousand of the city’s pensioners have moved to the Sunshine State, and are thus paying their taxes to Florida cities, and not to Detroit — who receives $688 per month from her late husband’s pension, along with $1,432 in Social Security. Mrs Walls never worked for the city, but the city is paying her anyway. And if she is 87 years old, it has to be asked: has the city been paying a pension to a (now deceased) worker and his wife for longer than he worked for the city?

From the Detroit News. Click image to enlarge.

Part of the problem is obvious: Detroit has 23,000 city pensioners, and only 12,900 city workers, and even those 12,900 municipal employees constitute a city workforce out of proportion to the city’s size:

Detroit overstaffed compared to other cities
APRIL 25, 2011 AT 3:12 PM

Detroit —Detroit’s work force hasn’t shrunk with its population, leaving the cash-strapped city with far more employees than most comparably sized cities.

The 12,900 workers in the Bing budget proposed this month is much more than similar size Midwestern cities including Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, and double much more populous cities including San Jose, Calif.

Bing has resisted calls for mass layoffs, saying Detroit’s population exodus in the past 10 years was fueled in part by shrinking services.

The mayor said he owes it to residents to focus on the city’s long-term viability and fix structural changes like pension and medical costs that threaten to consume half the budget by 2015.

More at the link. But the situation is obvious: you have a city which is too large for its current population — 78,000 abandoned buildings tells that story! — and a municipal workforce which is too large for its existing residents to support, on top of which is a pensioner population which was based on providing municipal services for a population more than twice its current size. It isn’t surprising that Detroit has had to declare bankruptcy; the only surprise is that it took so long. That the retirees want to be exempt from action to get the city back on its financial problem is only natural, but it doesn’t matter: pension costs are so much of the problem that they cannot not be part of the solution.1

But, there are some people who seem to think that Detroit is a good investment, though they aren’t investing all that much:

China’s Newest City: We Call It ‘Detroit’

Gordon G. Chang, Contributor. “I write primarily on China, Asia, and nuclear proliferation.”

Detroit, broke with almost no prospects for recovery, is the fourth most popular U.S. destination for Chinese real estate investors.  In fact, it was bad news—the city’s July 18 bankruptcy filing—that triggered renewed interest.  “While the bankruptcy is viewed as a bad thing elsewhere, it raised the exposure level of Detroit’s real estate market in China,” says Evonne Xu, a Michigan attorney catering to Chinese purchasers.  Middle Kingdom, meet Motown.

Chinese shoppers can’t resist a bargain.  Where else can you buy a two-story home in the U.S. for $39?  China Central Television, the state broadcaster, in March reported that two houses in Detroit cost the same as a pair of leather shoes.  No wonder a poster on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like service, asked, “Seven-hundred thousand people, quiet, clean air, no pollution, democracy—what are you waiting for?”

Who says the Chinese are waiting?  Dongdu International Group of Shanghai bought, sight unseen, two downtown icons, the David Stott building for $4.2 million and the Detroit Free Press building for $9.4 million, both at auction this September.

Moreover, Chinese purchasers are making bulk purchases of “inexpensive properties”—those selling for $25,000 or less—in the rings surrounding the city center.  “They’re banking on the downtown resurgence spiraling out into those rings,” explains Kelly Sweeney of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel.  Mainland parties often buy at tax and foreclosure sales, hold their property, and patiently wait for appreciation.

The Chinese certainly have made an impact on the locals in Detroit.  “I have people calling and saying, ‘I’m serious—I wanna buy 100, 200 properties,’ ” said Caroline Chen, a real estate broker in nearby Troy, Michigan, to Quartz.com.  “They say ‘We don’t need to see them.  Just pick the good ones.’ ”  Chen reports that one of her colleagues sold 30 properties to a Chinese investor.

More at the link. Nicole Curtis, the Rehab Addict, restored a condemned house she bought for $1.00 in Minneapolis, but she’s originally from the suburbs of Detroit, frequently wears t-shirts proclaiming her Motor City origins, and her new episode tonight is the first in a series on a home she restored in Detroit. It sounds like she could pick up a bunch of houses in her home town; the Chinese sure are. The same deals exist in Philadelphia.

Of course, the obvious problem is: if the Motor City can’t even keep the street lights on, you may not be able to rehabilitate that inexpensive a house and have it worth as much as you need to put into it.

For the left, it’s more important to be anti-Israel than liberal

 

From Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion:

Tenured radicals cannot be trusted with our academic freedom
Posted by    Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 11:00am

The anti-Israel Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement is a frequent focus here because it embodies so much of the pathology of the Leftist-Islamist anti-Israel coalition.

While disavowing anti-Semitism, BDS singles out and holds only Israel to standards not applied much less met by any other country in the Middle East or Muslim world.  Israel, and Israel alone, is put under a microscope and each defect found turned into grossly exaggerated and often outright false claims of racism, Apartheid, colonialism and so on.  Only Israeli academics and institutions are subjected to boycott even though by any objective standard non-Jews are far more free academically and otherwise in Israel than non-Muslims are in the Muslim world.

We also witness the bizarre self-parody of LGBT and Women’s rights groups siding with Islamists who hate LGBT and women’s rights, all in the cause of BDS.  There is a sickness beyond reason behind BDS, as witnessed by the BDS claim that Israeli soldiers failing to rape Arab women is racist and open support for Hezbollah as part of the BDS campaign.

BDS and anti-Semitism go hand-in-hand, particularly in Europe. There is a thin line between organizing abusive disruptions of speeches, concerts and lectures by Israelis and throwing the punch or thrusting the knife.  That thin line has been breached in Europe, as harsh demonization of everything Israeli stokes and promotes anti-Semitic violence by Muslims to the silence or tacit endorsement of the European Left.

The rhetoric emanating from BDS supporters in the U.S. also is so extreme that even some harsh left-wing critics of Israeli policies have dared call it was it is.  It is no surprise that strong BDS supporters like Roger Waters of Pink Floyd conflate criticism of Israel and Jews, and BDS campus activists in South Africa sang “shoot the Jew.”

BDS, because of the façade of supporting Palestinian “civil society,” is in vogue in many corners of American academia. Those academics stand apart from the U.S. population, where support for Israel is at historic highs.

More at Professor Jacobson’s original, where he reviews that rather sadly humorous problem of tenured professors proclaiming their absolute academic freedom seeking to restrict the academic freedom of others.

But what amuses me more was noted in the portions I quoted above: in their lust — and I believe that is the right word — to be anti-Israel, the feminists and homosexual activists are siding against a country in which they are free to express themselves pretty much any way that they want, and live any way that they wish, and allying themselves with people who would treat women as second-class citizens — if that high; the Taliban, when in power, prohibited the education of girls entirely — and would hang homosexuals by the neck until dead.1 Our leftists very much support the actions against Israel, in support of the oh-so-noble Palestinians, who would have nothing to do with their leftist views were they living under Palestinian rule. Freedom of religion? Not under Arab rule! Freedom of speech? Say the wrong thing, and you can be beaten or arrested or jailed or even executed! Freedom of assembly? Perhaps they ought to ask the Egyptians. The right to privacy, freedom from unreasonable searches and self-incrimination? Those things don’t exist in the Islamic states. And, of course, the Holy Grail for the American left, abortion, is against both Muslim and civil laws.

Is Israel perfect? No, not by any means; no country is. And I understand the almost reflexive sympathy for the underdog that some people have, even though it is wholly misplaced when it comes to the Palestinians. But I simply cannot grasp how people can be so opposed to a free, liberal democracy in which the freedoms that they personally choose to exercise are guaranteed, and rally in support of another people who would almost completely restrict those freedoms and, in some cases, just flat kill them for being who they are. They are deliberately choosing to side against people who are far more like themselves, politically and intellectually, and with people who are completely alien to them and have no respect for their views or their wishes or their lives. That is stupidity on an amazing scale, and much of it demonstrated by people who are (purportedly, on paper) highly educated.
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  1. Most countries which use hanging as a form of execution, use a “drop” method, in which the condemned man’s neck is broken and he loses consciousness and dies almost immediately. In Iran, cranes are used, to lift the condemned, so that they are conscious as they are strangled to death.

Scam or no scam?

Your Editor begins by noting that he is always leery of any “compromise” between the Republicans and Democrats when it comes to the budget. Both sides say that they gae up something for the good of all, but such compromises usually turn out to be very unbalanced, and unbalanced toward the liberals’ advantage. From The Wall Street Journal:

House, Senate Negotiators Announce Budget Deal
By Janet Hook | Updated Dec. 10, 2013 6:34 p.m. ET

House and Senate negotiators are on the verge of announcing a budget agreement that would avert a government shutdown and bring a rare dose of stability to Congress’s fiscal policy-making over the next two years, according to lawmakers briefed on the negotiations.

Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) worked through the day Tuesday to put the finishing touches on a two-year budget agreement and briefed colleagues on the broad outlines of the emerging deal.

Senate Democrats who met midday with Ms. Murray said the deal’s announcement was imminent. Negotiators aim to bring the bill to the House for a vote before week’s end, when the House is scheduled to adjourn for the year. A Senate vote likely would follow next week.

The goal of the Murray-Ryan talks has been to find a way to ease the next round of across-the-board spending cuts, which are slated to reduce the budget for most domestic and defense programs to $967 billion in 2014, down from $986 billion in 2013.

The deal is expected to raise that budget target to about $1 trillion in 2014 and 2015. But to keep that from increasing the deficit over the long term, the deal calls for offsetting the increased spending by raising government fees and cutting spending in other parts of the budget, such as on federal employee pensions.

My number one question: does this deal increase discretionary federal spending over what it would be with the sequester in place? The last two paragraphs make it sound as though the sequester cuts will be replaced by future targets in cuts of slightly more than the sequester amounts, and that some government fees — meaning: taxes — will be increased.

Not included in this deal is the Democrats’ proposal to, once again, extend long-term unemployment benefits.

Your Editor will wait to see just what the details of this agreement are before passing judgement, but he is not optimistic.

Karmic justice

I suppose that I’m not supposed to be happy about someone being the victim of a crime, so I hereby denounce myself. :lol:

Florida Democratic congressman loses $18 million in scheme
Published December 10, 2013 | FoxNews.com

Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson lost $18 million in a scheme by a Virginia man that involved over a 100 victims, the congressman’s office confirmed Monday.

The man who ran the scheme, William Dean Chapman, was sentenced Friday in federal court to 12 years in prison. Prosecutors say Chapman used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle including a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a $3 million home.

In most of the court papers, Grayson’s identity is protected — prosecutors say only that an elected official with the initials A.G. was the primary victim — but documents twice mention Grayson by name.

Nothing in the court papers suggests Grayson was anything but a victim of the scheme. Grayson, a former trial attorney, said he has had a long record for picking winning stocks, which formed the basis for his personal fortune.

The Distinguished Gentleman is incendiary in his hatred for Republicans, so it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that he lost a few bucks.

The smartest, best informed, best named and best looking lady on Fox News can cook, too!