Interesting Bits

10/17/2017 7:11

You Can't Buy an Election For $100,000

Now look at the bigger picture. Every day, Americans see hundreds of ads on TV and radio, in newspapers and magazines, on billboards and smartphones. North Americans post to Facebook something like a billion times a day, and during the election many of those messages were about politics. Facebook typically runs about $40 million worth of advertising a day in North America.

Then consider the scale of American presidential elections. Hillary Clinton’s total campaign budget, including associated committees, was $1.4 billion. Mr. Trump and his allies had about $1 billion. Even a full $100,000 of Russian ads would have erased just 0.025% of Hillary’s financial advantage. In the last week of the campaign alone, Mrs. Clinton’s super PAC dumped $6 million in ads into Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

I have 40 years of experience in politics, and this Russian ad buy, mostly after the election anyway, simply does not add up to a carefully targeted campaign to move voters. It takes tens of millions of dollars to deliver meaningful messages to the contested portion of the electorate. Converting someone who voted for the other party last time is an enormously difficult task. Swing voters in states like Ohio or Florida are typically barraged with 50% or more of a campaign’s budget. Try watching TV in those states the week before an election and you will see how jammed the airwaves are.

No one wants foreign governments meddling in American elections. In 1996, the Chinese government had the “China plan” and pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign. There were congressional investigations, and several fundraisers were prosecuted, but Attorney General Janet Reno rejected calls for an independent counsel. Campaigns tightened up their donor-validation procedures, and life moved on. The same is called for here. Internet companies should improve their screening of electioneering ads, impose clearer standards on all ads, and do a better job weeding out phony accounts.

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10/16/2017 8:52

CBS earnings to disappoint due to weak NFL ratings

The firm cut its third-quarter EPS estimates by 5 percent, citing CBS' softer Sunday NFL ratings. The media company reports on Nov. 2.

"We expect third-quarter network advertising to decline 3 percent (previously +1 percent), driven by soft ratings for both the summer schedule and for the start of the NFL season," wrote Credit Suisse analyst Omar Sheikh. "With only one of the three content licensing deals we expected for the second half announced in third quarter, we also expect content licensing revenue growth to be skewed to the fourth quarter."

The analyst said CBS' Sunday NFL ratings are down 17 percent year over year during the first several weeks of the football season, according to the report. Sheikh released a similar report last week on Twenty-First Century Fox's earnings, which he also expects to disappoint thanks to weaker ratings by the NFL.

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10/16/2017 8:04

The Cowards on Campus

But college officials are not supposed to be cowards. They are supposed to be above the kind of babbling insanity that has gripped campuses nationwide. College administrators should be responsive to their students’ needs and desires, but that kind of responsiveness does not naturally extend to the fawning subservience we see on so many campuses today.

There are a great many college students who have a whole lot of growing up to do. There are also a great many college administrators who have to stop ingratiating themselves to insane, sometimes violent student mobs. The former are unlikely to change if the latter continue treating them like inviolable gods on campus.

Here is a gentle tip for the nominal adults nominally in charge of American campuses: if your students disrupt a scheduled event, or storm the stage of a school function, or take a classroom hostage (particularly on an exam day!), do not give in to them. Instead, have security escort them out immediately. If they resist, arrest them. If they persist, expel them.

Putting one’s foot down will not be easy or pleasant. But it is necessary—unless you wish to surrender your campuses and careers to mindless, fanatical zealots.

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10/16/2017 7:26

Trump Is Upholding Obamacare Law

 President Trump's decision to stop funding an ObamaCare subsidy program is being treated as an attempt to sabotage the law. In reality, Trump is abiding by the law as the Democrats wrote it.

There is no question that stopping payments for ObamaCare's "cost sharing reduction" subsidies will have serious implications. Insurance companies have been warning state insurance regulators that they'll have to jack up premiums even higher next year if these subsidies go away, and the Congressional Budget Office reported that it could push up premiums by 20%.

But there's an important element missing from the lamentations coming from the insurance industry, from Democrats, and even from some Republicans about Trump's decision.

The ObamaCare law, as written, plainly doesn't allow Trump to make these payments.

Here's why:

Under ObamaCare, families that make less than 250% of poverty are eligible for two separate subsidies. They get their premiums subsidized, but they also have their out-of-pocket costs reduced through the "cost sharing reduction" subsidy, which lowers their deductibles and copays. Roughly 60% of those enrolled through the ObamaCare exchanges are eligible for both.

The costs of both subsidy programs are paid directly to insurance companies. But Democrats who wrote the law decided that, while the money needed to pay premium subsidies would be automatically reauthorized every year, Congress would have to approve money for the CSR payments each year.

What they didn't count on was that Republicans would take control of the House before ObamaCare took effect, and would never authorize that CSR money. The Obama administration, rather than push them to do so, simply took it upon itself to hand out billions in CSR payments, despite what the law clearly stated.

In 2014, Republicans sued the administration, claiming that those payments were illegal, and last year a U.S. District Court ruled in the GOP's favor. The court said there can be no CSR payments without an annual congressional appropriation.

In her ruling, however, District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer stayed the injunction pending appeals. Obama, of course, appealed the decision, but then Trump won the election.

Since then, Trump has been making CSR payments each month, while making it clear he intended to stop doing so if Congress failed to repeal ObamaCare.

That's where things stood until Thursday, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that, in his view, the CSR payments are illegal without Congressional authorization. Then Trump said he'd end them.

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10/16/2017 7:13

Media Enabled Weinstein

The dam has burst and now others are being accused of inappropriate sexual aggression. To date, woman have accused Ben Affleck, director Oliver Stone, and Amazon Studio Chief Roy Price of sexual wrongdoing, and one actress has complained that George Clooney had her blacklisted for complaining about it on the set of “ER.”  

Others are sure to follow his accusers and name many other stars.

nd then there’s the long-running accusation by actor Corey Feldman who claims there is a gang of well-connected pedophiles who prey on child actors, Speaking of courage, he has repeated his claim, even though people like Barbara Walters cut him off and coldly and accused him of “damaging an entire industry.” Hollywood and online writer Roger L. Simon says“Hollywood will not easily recover from Harvey Weinstein -- not for a long time. The hypocrisy level has hit defcon 1,9.9 on the Richter scale. Hollywood’s politics have always been a self-serving charade, a liberal masquerade for a rapacious and lubricious lifestyle. But now, thanks to the Weinstein scandal, we see it more clearly than ever. “

I doubt the present leaders of the Democratic Party will escape the fallout.

Donna Brazile apparently figured that out. At the breaking of the story, she deleted this tweet, which she had posted October 8: “The Weinstein Company has taken the lead against sexual harassment and assault”

(The enablers are still powerful. NBC and the LA Times are not going to investigate themselves and reveal their complicity. They will still ignore the stories)

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10/15/2017 10:12

Longmont police arrest gun-toting woman who threatened squirrel

Longmont police on Friday arrested a woman on suspicion of disorderly conduct after they say she pulled a gun on a squirrel outside of a coffee shop.

Kylie Morrison, 31, was released on a summons for misdemeanor disorderly conduct following the incident, according to an arrest report.

Police responded to Cafe Luna on a report of a woman with a gun and placed Morrison into custody. Witnesses told police that Morrison had been sitting in the coffee shop and talking to herself but later exited the building and sat outside. Morrison appeared to be "high on something" and started throwing items at a squirrel when it got too close to her, the report stated.

One of the witnesses began feeding the squirrel to coax it away from Morrison, who allegedly became irritated, drew a gun from her bag and pulled the trigger three or four times. The gun didn't discharge, but a witness told police she froze in her tracks until Morrison put the gun away

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10/15/2017 8:38

Shrinks take to streets to demand ‘narcissistic’ Trump’s ouster

Some 125 psychologists and other mental health professionals marched along lower Broadway Saturday to demand that President Trump be thrown out of office, based on a constitutional clause allowing presidents to be ousted when their cabinets decide they are ” unable to discharge the powers and duties” of their job.

“We can sense the power of Trump’s underlying fear that he is worthless and weak by how intensely he resists and retaliated against any criticism,” said Harry Segal, a Cornell University psychologist.

“No matter how minor, he can’t let anything go

(This doesn't make me question our president but it raises a lot of questions about psychogists)

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10/15/2017 8:33

It Takes A While but....

On this date in 1880  Germany's Cologne cathedral is completed, 633 years after construction began. (Show what you can do if  you don't quit.)

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10/14/2017 3:07

School Board Bans "To Kill a Mockingbird"

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is being removed from a junior-high reading list in a Mississippi school district.

The Sun Herald reports that Biloxi administrators pulled the novel from the 8th-grade curriculum this week. School board vice president Kenny Holloway says the district received complaints that some of the book's language "makes people uncomfortable."

Published in 1960, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee deals with racial inequality in a small Alabama town.

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10/14/2017 8:42

But No One Should Panic

Yellowstone supervolcano may blow sooner than thought and destroy all life on earth. (So, have a nice day)

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10/14/2017 7:47

A Return to Constituional Government

Obama kept the Affordable Care Act looking healthy via an extra-constitutional grant of $1 trillion to health-insurance companies. That required congressional approval, and Obama’s decision to bypass Congress was held unconstitutional by a federal court. President Trump’s decision Thursday to halt the bailout makes the litigation moot and represents a return to constitutional government.

The same can be said of Trump’s Friday decision to throw the Iran deal back to Congress, by refusing to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal.

Recall that this was a treaty that should never have been adopted without two-thirds approval in the Senate, as required by the Constitution. That didn’t happen — because a compliant Republican Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which provided that the president certify to Congress every 90 days that the suspension of sanctions against the regime is “appropriate and proportionate” with respect to its illicit nuclear program.

And that’s what Trump didn’t do. He didn’t tear up the treaty, or even decertify anything. Rather, he failed to certify, and simply told the truth. Iran isn’t permitting the nuclear inspections the treaty contemplates, and the Revolutionary Guard, which controls much of the government, is a terrorist organization.

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10/14/2017 7:24

Solution to Weinstein Problem is Masculinity

The allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein are stomach-churning. The idea of one man having so much power that women were terrified to speak out or even to say "no" for fear their careers would be over sounds bizarre to most people, but apparently that's Hollywood.

Weinstein isn't the only rich and powerful man in Hollywood to find himself embroiled in a sex scandal by any stretch of the imagination. However, his seems to go beyond the pale as he was able to terrify the entire industry into silence.

While many look at the men of Hollywood as the pinnacle of masculinity, they're wrong.

Developing a muscular physique and perfect hair is not what it takes to act like a real man. Delivering on that "Missouri whooping" Pitt offered would have been a start.

At the very least, a real man would have stepped up and told the world about Weinstein. But the idea of masculinity has been warped, so that most of these Hollywood men didn't even realize that standing up for Weinstein's victims was their responsibility as males.

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10/13/2017 11:13

Tax reform can finally drain the swamp

Making the tax code fairer and flatter will accomplish the Trump administration's goal of draining the swamp by weakening the power that corporate lobbyists have in Washington. The corporate side of the tax ledger, which has created a policy status quo in which some industries are taxed at a 35 percent rate while others pay no taxes, is a horrid mishmash of social engineering and corporate welfare. Lowering the rate and broadening the base will stop the government from picking winners and losers and fire a warning shot across the bow of the corporations whose tax rate is determined more by their lobbying teams than by smart policy.

The corporate tax rate in the United States stands at 35 percent — the highest in the developed world. But it's rare that any corporation actually pays a 35 percent rate. Through a mixture of tax credits, subsidies, loopholes, deductions and more, the effective average corporate tax rate stands at 22 percent, according to the Treasury Department. Big corporations such as General Motors and Apple have had years when they've paid close to a 0 percent tax rate.

(Tax reform can drain the swamp.)

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10/13/2017 7:43

Feeling Special?

]One of the most fundamental requirements for a planet to sustain life is to orbit in the “habitable zone” of a star — the “Goldilocks” region where the temperature is just right and liquid water can exist. Astronomers have, to this point, discovered around 30 exoplanets in the habitable zones of stars. Simply extrapolating that figure based on the known number of stars suggests that there should be about 50 billion such planets in the Milky Way alone. Probability seems to dictate that Earth-twins are out there somewhere.

But according to Zackrisson, most planets in the universe shouldn’t look like Earth. His model indicates that Earth’s existence presents a mild statistical anomaly in the multiplicity of planets. Most of the worlds predicted by his model exist in galaxies larger than the Milky Way and orbit stars with different compositions — an important factor in determining a planet’s characteristics. His research indicates that, from a purely statistical standpoint, Earth perhaps shouldn’t exist.

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10/13/2017 7:32

Tucker Carlson vs, NBC

I am coming to appreciate that Tucker Carlson is far from an ordinary TV talking head. I imagine that the top brass at NBC-Universal and parent Comcast are meeting with their lawyers today.

Tucker promises that tonight, Friday the 13th, there will be much more on NBC News. I will be watching.

(Should be an interesting heavyweight bout)

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10/13/2017 7:22

Layoffs begin at Disney's ABC

Walt Disney Co. started laying off employees across its ABC Television Group on Thursday.

Of the division's 9,000 employees, 100 to 200 are expected to be cut, according to an executive familiar with plan who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. A representative for the Burbank-based company declined comment.

The layoffs affect employees at the company's eight television stations, its network entertainment division and production studio, and at its West Coast-based cable networks such as Freeform and the Disney Channel. The cuts are said to be mostly in operational areas. No high-level positions in TV production and development are expected to be eliminated.

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10/13/2017 7:16

The Dems Weinstein Scandal

It’s also the reason why Democrats can’t easily undo their connections to the sexual assault scandal involving super mogul Harvey Weinstein that is currently rocking the foundations of the industry.

Weinstein once stated that Hollywood “has the best moral compass, because it has compassion” – and for the past eight or so years, the Democratic Party has embraced Weinstein and his philosophy on Hollywood.

The flirtations between the party and Hollywood were not simply brief cameos at awards shows. President Obama used Hollywood to push almost every social action program his administration rolled out.

On ObamaCare, he enrolled the likes of Lebron James in a promotional video, Bill Murray in an Oval Office visit, and his famous “Between Two Ferns” appearance with Zach Galifianakis. Several celebrities, including Amy Pohler, Connie Britton, Olivia Wilde and Lady Gaga, Mark Ruffalo, Alyssa Milano and Mia Farrow participated in hashtag campaigns to “#GetCovered”. Liberal news outlet Mother Jones was kind enough to cull most of them into one piece.

When Obama wanted to give the impression he was tackling prison reform, he went to HBO and Vice. On Opioid abuse, he enlisted pop rapper Macklemore and MTV to film a video at the White House. Tom Hanks wrote about the virtues of free community college for the New York Times. Christina Hendricks was invited by the White House to speak at a family values summit. Alison Janney of West Wing fame cameoed to a twitterpated White House press corps.

Distancing themselves from Hollywood and Weinstein could, in fact, ultimately be a gift to a decimated party flailing for a message beyond symbolic resistance. It could force Democrats to get back to the dirty work of organizing at a grassroots level and focusing on a message that appeals to that big useless chunk of land between Los Angeles and New York.

But just as it was apparently evident with Harvey Weinstein, the rest of Hollywood isn’t particularly good at taking “no” for answer. 

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10/12/2017 12:21

More Blue State Dishonesty

Blue states involved in litigation against the Trump administration’s travel ban have consistently blocked public records requests about the amount of taxpayer funds being spent in the ongoing legal fight against the travel ban.

The Immigration Reform Law Institute filed numerous Freedom of Information Act Requests back in March to the state attorneys general in Hawaii and numerous other states, who’ve been fighting the travel ban since February.

The response has been little more than obstruction.

Hawaii, which is fighting the third rendition of the travel ban unveiled Sept. 24, has been more than reticent to release figures on the costs of carrying on litigation for months. IRLI submitted a FOIA on email communication between attorneys in the Hawaii v. Trump case for words like “racist,” “Muslim ban” and “Trump.” In response, the Hawaii AG office denied the public interest fee waiver request and charged $28,396.30 to complete the document search. An appeal of the costs was unsuccessful.

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10/12/2017 9:00

Professors warn academic intolerance for dissent is reaching new highs

Viewpoint diversity in the academy is alarmingly low, and the next generation of academics is likely to be even less tolerant of opposing views, professors from various institutions told a New York University audience Tuesday night.

This is an historical anomaly, according to April Kelly-Woessner, a political science professor at Elizabethtown College: The more educated a person is, the more tolerant of other opinions that person is likely to be.

But the younger generation is bucking the trend, showing less ideological tolerance than their parents, Kelly-Woessner said.

Today’s students are also more accepting of authoritarian views, especially when it comes to responding to ideas and views with which they don’t agree, said Samuel Abrams, a political science professor at Sarah Lawrence College who is known for his research on lopsided political views in various academic disciplines.

The troubling environment for free speech on campus and within academic disciplines is worsened by the political rise of Donald Trump and his rougher-edged approach to conservatism, professors said.

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10/12/2017 7:29

Trump's $33 Billion Tax Cut You Didn't Know You Just Got

Despite the Obama White House and its leftist shills in the media touting the Clean Power Plan's benefits, the Daily Signal reports that the plan ran into a legal buzz sawof "multiple lawsuits from more than 150 entities, including 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric cooperatives, and three labor unions, according to the EPA. On top of that, 34 senators and 171 House members filed an amicus briefing arguing the Clean Power Plan was illegal."

It's no surprise that in February of 2016, the Supreme Court put a halt to the program's implementation while the many suits and legal challenges made their way through the court system.

In getting rid of this odious regulatory law, the U.S. dodged a big bullet. A study conducted by the American Action Forum, a conservative-leaning think tank, estimated in 2015 that at least 125,000 jobs would be lost and 66 coal-fired plants would be shut down by 2030 under Obama's plan. Moreover, nearly half the nation's coal energy would be lost due to the imposition of just one rule, and whole communities would have been impoverished.

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