Monday, December 30, 2019

Armed Congregants Kill Gunman at Texas Church (VIDEO)

At the Other McCain, "UPDATE: Texas Church Shooter Identified as Homeless Criminal Keith Kinnunen."

ABC's report, with video, is here.

Playmate Iryna Loves the Ocean

And she's completely nude here.


'Black Jews'

Seen on Twitter.

This person deleted her account.

Bose QuietComfort Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Noise-cancelling.

At Amazon, Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa voice control, enabled with Bose AR – Black.

BONUS: Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel.

Trump's 'Failures'

It's VDH, at American Greatness:


Barack Obama's Book Recommendations

He's very well read.


'We're Not Safe as Jews in New York'

From Emma Green, at the Atlantic:


Trump Ties Obama as Most Admired Man in 2019 — Leftist Heads Explode Everywhere

Heh.

How could this be possible? Trump as admired as Obama? No way!

So says Gallup, to exploding leftist heads everywhere.

Via Memeorandum:


Olga's Monday Forecast

It's kind of dreary outside today.

I'm talking my young son up to Yucca Valley (by Joshua Tree) to visit my older sister for New Year's.

Thought there was going to be snow on the road today, but it's not looking too bad right now.

Here's the beautiful Ms. Olga, for CBS News 2 Los Angeles:



Brooke Shields Bikini

At Drunken Stepfather, "BROOKE SHIELDS IN HER BIKINI OF THE DAY."

Ashley Roberts Abs

At London's Daily Mail:


Jennifer Lopez in Red Latex

At Taxi Driver:


Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Return of Pogroms to Jewish American Life

It's Batya Ungar-Sargon, at the Jewish Daily Forward, "Why No One Can Talk About The Attacks Against Orthodox Jews" (via Memeorandum):
After the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Shabbat that killed 11 people last year, and another fatal shooting at a shul in Poway, California six months later, one often heard that the great threat to Jews – even the only threat – comes from white supremacy. Conventional wisdom said it was the political right, and the right’s avatar in the White House, that was to blame for the rising levels of hate against Jews.

But the majority of the perpetrators of the Brooklyn attacks, and the suspects in Jersey City — who were killed in a shootout with the police — and now Monsey, were not white, leaving many at a loss about how to explain it or even talk about it. There is little evidence that these attacks are ideologically motivated, at least in terms of the ideologies of hate we are most familiar with.

And therein lies the trouble with talking about the violent attacks against Orthodox Jews: At a time when ideology seems to rein supreme in the chattering and political classes, the return of pogroms to Jewish life on American soil transcends ideology. In the fight against anti-Semitism, you don’t get to easily blame your traditional enemies — which, in the age of Trump, is a non-starter for most people.

Of course, the rise in anti-Semitism is not incidental to the times we live in. While the Brooklyn attackers are, at least according to demographic trends, extremely unlikely to be Trump supporters, our president, who has a penchant for anti-Semitic tropes, is a conspiracy theorist, and anti-Semitism often manifests as a conspiracy theory about secretive Jewish power.

But conspiracy theories flourish on the left as well in today’s day and age. They twist and torque those rigid ideologies to which so many are enslaved, reshaping the extremes from polar opposites into a horseshoe whose ends meet — again and again — to justify, excuse, or muzzle criticism of anti-Semitism.

It has resulted in a staggering, shameful silence when it comes to speaking out on behalf of the wave of pogroms against the Orthodox. For many people, it seems when they can’t blame the other side of the political aisle, they would rather say nothing at all.

This is not acceptable. The Jewish community’s most visible, vulnerable members need Americans to stand up and say “no more.” They need us to climb out of our trenches and find common ground to fight this ugly resurgence of anti-Jewish hatred.

We can only fight this fight together, because it is a pox on all of our houses. It is only by remembering what unites us as Americans that we can help our fellow Jews and, as “Maoz Tzur” suggests, hasten the time of salvation.

Leftists Allowing — Encouraging — Anti-Semitism to Flourish

From Karol Markowicz, at the New York Post, "How liberals are allowing anti-Semitism to flourish" (via Memeorandum):
I first wrote about the uptick [of anti-Semitic attacks] in May. The reason the city’s liberal political class was ignoring it, I ­argued, is that the criminals don’t fit their picture of Evil Bigots. They aren’t, for the most part, MAGA-hat wearing white guys with tiki torches. In fact, many of the attackers are people of color, as investigative reporting by Tablet’s Armin Rosen and others has shown.

Imagine if they were white ­nationalists. How much faster would the mayor and other city leaders have taken action?

“A lot of folks were told it was unacceptable to be anti-Semitic,” de Blasio said in May. “It was ­unacceptable to be racist, and now they’re getting more permission.” The message was subtle but unmistakable: De Blasio was trying to pin the attacks in bright-blue New York on President Trump.

Hizzoner didn’t surrender the fantasy for some time. In June, he said: “I want to be very, very clear, the violent threat, the threat that is ideological, is very much from the right.”

He left unclear how the Big ­Apple had come to be populated by ideological far-right types beating up on Jews. His comments ­underscored his inability to truly counter the type of street-level ­anti-Semitism spreading through the city.

Will he face the facts now? Or will Jews need to actually die, not just be pummeled, for our leaders to grasp the threat?

“Anti-Semitism is an attack on the values of our city — and we will confront it head-on,”

De Blasio tweeted after this latest round of violence against Jews. He has to stop beating around the bush. These attacks aren’t an ­attack on “our values.” They’re attacks on visibly Jewish people.

De Blasio needs to stop trying to find a “them” to be the opposite of his “us.” His juvenile obsession with having the right adversaries allows anti-Semitism to flourish.

I used to write about Europeans and their apathetic attitudes ­toward the Jew-hatred around them. Synagogues torched, Jews beaten — just another day on the Continent.

But now the demon is here, in America. Worse, it’s stalking Jews with increasing regularity in New York City, my city, home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel. Hizzoner’s vague universalist rhetoric obscures this raw reality.

And it isn’t just his ideological blinders. The mayor has also helped create an anti-police ­atmosphere, in which the vigilant presence of officers is considered a bad thing. At an anti-police rally last month, there were signs calling for violence against the NYPD.

De Blasio’s response? He insinuated that the idea that there’s anti-police sentiment in our city is, yes, another right-wing plot.

In 2020 I don’t want to read ­another column like this one...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Lia Marie Johnson Slips on Instagram

At Taxi Driver, "Lia Marie Johnson Accidental Slip on Instagram."

White Voters See Doom Without Trump

People keep talking about "civil war" but I don't see that happening.

Conservatives will continue to flee the progressive urban enclaves and coastal states, and leftists will continue to cluster into "high-density" shithole municipalities (think San Francisco), drinking their Veuve Clicquot in million dollar townhomes, while moaning about "inequality."

That said, I love the "civil war" metaphor and, frankly, I won't mind if it becomes more than a metaphor (calling Kurt Schlichter).

At NYT, "‘Nothing Less Than a Civil War’: These White Voters on the Far Right See Doom Without Trump":

GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. — Great American Pizza & Subs, on a highway about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas, was busier and Trumpier than usual. On any given day it serves “M.A.G.A. Subs” and “Liberty Bell Lasagna.” The “Second Amendment” pizza comes “loaded” with pepperoni and sausage. The dining room is covered in regalia praising President Trump.

But this October morning was “Trumpstock,” a small festival celebrating the president. The speakers included the local Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and lesser-known conservative personalities. There was a fringe 2020 Senate candidate in Arizona who ran a website that published sexually explicit photos of women without their consent; a pro-Trump rapper whose lyrics include a racist slur aimed at Barack Obama; and a North Carolina activist who once said of Muslims, “I will kill every one of them before they get to me.”

All were welcome, except liberals.

“They label us white nationalists, or white supremacists,” volunteered Guy Taiho Decker, who drove from California to attend the event. A right-wing protester, he has previously been arrested on charges of making terrorist threats.

“There’s no such thing as a white supremacist, just like there’s no such thing as a unicorn,” Mr. Decker said. “We’re patriots.”

As Mr. Trump’s bid for re-election shifts into higher gear, his campaign hopes to recapture voters who drifted away from the party in 2018 and 2019: independents who embraced moderate Democratic candidates, suburban women tired of Mr. Trump’s personal conduct and working-class voters who haven’t benefited from his economic policies.

But if any group remains singularly loyal to Mr. Trump, it is the small but impassioned number of white voters on the far right, often in rural communities like Golden Valley, who extol him as a cultural champion reclaiming the country from undeserving outsiders.

These voters don’t passively tolerate Mr. Trump’s “build a wall” message or his ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries — they’re what motivates them. They see themselves in his fear-based identity politics, bolstered by conspiratorial rhetoric about caravans of immigrants and Democratic “coups.”

But events like it, as well as speaking engagements featuring far-right supporters of the president, have become part of the political landscape during the Trump era. Islamophobic taunts can be heard at his rallies. Hate speech and conspiracy theories are staples of some far-right websites. If Trumpstock was modest in size, it stood out as a sign of extremist public support for a sitting president.

And these supporters have electoral muscle in key areas: Mr. Trump outperformed Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, in rural parts of Arizona like Mohave County, where Golden Valley is located. Mr. Trump won 58,282 votes in the county, compared to 47,901 for Mr. Romney, though Mr. Romney carried the state by a much bigger vote margin.

Arizona will be a key battleground state in 2020: Democrats already flipped a Senate seat and a Tucson-based congressional district from red to blue in 2018. For Mr. Trump, big turnout from white voters in areas like Mohave County — and in rural parts of other battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia — could be a lifeline in a tight election.

“We like to call this the ‘Red Wall of Arizona,’” said Laurence Schiff, a psychiatrist and Republican campaign official in Mohave County who organizes in support of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Winning the state starts here, with us.”

Grass-roots gatherings play a critical role in the modern culture of political organizing, firing up ardent supporters and cementing new ones. Small circles of Trump-supporting conservatives, often organized online and outside the traditional Republican Party apparatus, engage in more decentralized — and explicit — versions of the chest-beating that happens at Mr. Trump’s closely watched political rallies...
More.

College Football's Best Semifinals Yet

I've been waiting for today.

With the exception of last night --- and USC's loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes --- I haven't watched any bowl games. Today and New Year's day will be great.

At NYT, "College Football Playoff Offers Its Strongest Semifinals Yet":
Critics of the College Football Playoff system, now in its sixth year, often lament its made-for-TV artificiality, its subjective selection process and the role it has played in widening the gap between the sport’s haves and its have-nots.

In reply, proponents of the system need only point to this weekend.

The four best teams in college football will meet Saturday in the most appealing semifinals since the three-game playoff format debuted after the 2014 season. The only tough decisions the selection committee had to make this year were how to seed this a group that includes four of the nation’s top offenses, three undefeated teams, two previous playoff champions, and all four of the Heisman Trophy finalists.

How these particular teams got to this point is pretty easy to decode: They are led by four of the sport’s most talented quarterbacks. The best, undeniably, is Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow, who guided the Tigers to the top ranking and won the Heisman Trophy by a record-breaking margin. The other quarterbacks in the semifinals are Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, the Heisman runner-up; Ohio State’s dual-threat Justin Fields, who has thrown 40 touchdowns and only one interception this season; and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who as a freshman led the Tigers to a win over Alabama in the national title game last season.

Here’s a closer look at the two matchups on Saturday...

You Don't Say? Rachel Maddow Rooted for the Steele Dossier to Be True

At the Other McCain, "The 2019 Media Credibility Bonfire."

BONUS: At AoSHQ, "Washington Post Columnist Rips Rachel Maddow for Promoting Steele Dossier Conspiracy Theories for Three Years."

More, at Legal Insurrection, "Again We Ask: Why Isn’t Rachel Maddow Treated Like Other Crazy Conspiracy Theorists?"


New York Anti-Semitic Attacks (VIDEO)

At CBS News 2 New York, via Memeorandum, "NYPD Investigating 9th Anti-Semitic Attack Reported This Week."

And on Twitter, be sure to read the entire Seth Mandel thread:





Alex Biston's Cold Saturday Forecast

It's wet and cold out there, although the Grapevine is open again if you're traveling north up I-5.

Here's the lovely Ms. Alex, for CBS News 2 Los Angeles:



BONUS: "Jennifer Delacruz's Weather Forecast."

At Least the Boat Captain Wasn't Texting

Rita Panahi posted this video, which I missed if it went viral at the time (a couple of years ago). But man is this wild.


Click on the tweet for the link to the earlier story. Apparently the boat pilot was not texting on his phone.

Roundup: Emily Ratajkowski's Shots

At TMZ, "Emily Ratajkowski's Topless Shots."


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Jennifer Delacruz's Winter Storm Forecast

Lots more weather coverage for you, this time from our fabulous forecaster, Ms. Jennifer, at ABC News 10 San Diego:



Massive Storm Hits Southern California

Following-up, "Nasty SoCal Weather."



Nasty SoCal Weather

Bunch of highways closed over night, not least of all the I-5 over the Grapevine.

I'm glad I'm not traveling.


Nice Rack

Not the guns, lol.


Can a Family of Four Enjoy a Major Sporting Event in Orange County/Los Angeles for $100 for Tickets, Food, and Parking?

My favorite games are Saturday nights at Anaheim Stadium, where Angels games are followed by fireworks. We sit up on the top deck usually, and tickets are about $50 bucks for the whole family, sometimes less. (Once in a while we'll get field level, but my wife likes sitting up top, as she's not craning her neck every which way for foul balls and what not.) I get hot dogs, peanuts, and beer --- then I hand my wallet over to the family for the rest of the night, lol.

In any case, a great piece, at the Los Angeles Times, "Good luck getting a family of four into a professional sport for $100 — not in good seats, but any seats":

A lifetime of sports fandom often starts with that first vision of the towering stadium before you, that first peek at the vibrant green grass of a ballpark, that first chance to see star players up close on the court and even closer on a gigantic video screen, that first moment to stand and scream for your team.

“We do remember that first ballgame our parents, our friend, our Scout troop might have taken us to,” said Andy Dolich, who has run marketing operations for teams in all five major North American sports. “It’s one of those indelible memories for tens of millions of people.”

That experience has become all but unaffordable for the typical family in the Los Angeles area.

As teams focus on maximizing revenue from the current generation of fans, they risk losing a future generation of fans, particularly at a time when kids limited to experiencing games on a screen might well prefer Fortnite to ESPN.

The arms race to turn athletic venues into opulent cash machines — with gourmet dining, finely appointed luxury suites, VIP seats within sweating distance of the action, and video boards suited for Hollywood premieres — has all but left the common fan behind. Good luck getting a family of four into a game for $100 — not in good seats, mind you, but in any seats.

Dolich is a former chief operating officer of the San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors and a former president of business operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. He now runs a sports consultant firm, and he is worried for an industry in which kids are increasingly priced out.

“You’re not yelling. You’re not screaming. You’re just not going,” Dolich said. “That, I think, is the most pernicious part of it.”

The median income for a family of four in Los Angeles County is $78,673, according to the USC Price Center for Social Innovation. After accounting for the costs of housing, child care, health care, food, transportation and taxes, that family would be left with $3,413 in discretionary income for the year, $284 per month.

Elly Schoen, data and project manager at the Price Center, said it would be “reasonable” to consider $100 as a price point for a family day at a sporting event.

“You’re thinking about going out to one or two games a year,” Schoen said, “and you’re thinking about spending about half your monthly discretionary income on that kind of family outing.”

The Times asked the 11 major professional teams that call Los Angeles and Orange County home whether a family of four could attend a weekend game for $100 — tickets, parking, and something to eat and drink. When prices exceeded that amount, The Times asked teams what the most affordable option for a family might be.

The Angels are the only team that guarantees any family can get to a weekend game for that amount. The team offers a $44 family pack that includes four field-level tickets, four hot dogs, and four soft drinks. Parking at Angel Stadium is $10.

The Sparks offer a $100 family pack that includes tickets, food and autograph vouchers, with parking for an additional $10. The Galaxy offer a family deal for $128, including a $10 concession credit and souvenirs but not food or parking.

The Ducks have a weekend family pack at $120, not including parking. The Kings have a family pack at $220, which includes family activities before Saturday games and a skating session at the team’s training facility.

LAFC offers 200 first-come, first-served tickets at $22 each, with discounted food and drinks in that section.

The Clippers sell $10 tickets at Staples Center on game day — first come, first served, with 50 to 200 tickets available for each game. They also provide the 120,000 participants in their Jr. Clippers youth basketball program with a free ticket to one game each season; parents pay for their game tickets.

The Lakers suggested the option of their minor league affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. The team plays at the Lakers’ team headquarters in El Segundo, where parking is free, and a $125 family pack includes $40 in food and beverage credit.

The Chargers and Rams both noted that training camp is free, often with interactive activities designed for families. The lowest single-game price this season is $35 for the Rams and $70 for the Chargers, although the Chargers anticipate a lower price when they move into the larger Sofi Stadium next season.

The Dodgers declined requests to participate in the survey. According to the initial 2020 single-game prices posted on the team website last month, the Dodgers are selling tickets for as low as $10 to the two midweek Freeway Series exhibition games. The Dodgers are selling $21 tickets for only one weekend game next season; the minimum price for all others is $30...
Keep reading.

How Sam Mendes Made '1917'

I'd go see this one, but it's in limited release until January.

I love war films.

At NYT:

When the director Sam Mendes was a young boy, he and his father often traveled to the West Indies to visit his grandfather Alfred Mendes, a novelist. Sam, who had been brought up in North London, found his grandfather to be quite exotic: The small and wiry World War I veteran would sing opera in a booming Trinidadian accent, traipse around his creaky Colonial house in shorts and flip-flops and vigorously greet each morning with a pre-dawn plunge into the sea.

Alfred Mendes also had a tendency to obsessively wash his hands, always for several minutes at a time, to the point where Sam and his cousins noticed that above all his other quirks. “We would laugh at him,” the director recalled, “until I asked my dad, ‘Why does Granddad Alfie wash his hands so much?’ And he said, ‘Oh, he remembers the mud of the trenches during the war, and the fact that he could never get clean.’”

That’s when the boys stopped laughing at their grandfather. It’s also when they began asking what happened when, at age 19, Alfred Mendes enlisted and fought on behalf of Britain in what would become one of the world’s deadliest conflicts.

“We expected, I suppose, conventional stories of heroism and bravery,” Mendes said. “We certainly didn’t expect what he told us, which was unbelievably shocking and quite graphic tales of utter futility and chaos.”

There was the wounded soldier his grandfather carried back to the trench under enemy fire, only to discover once he arrived that the man was dead, his body having absorbed a bullet meant for Alfred. Another story involved a German soldier whose head was lost in an explosion, though his body somehow carried on running.

And then there was the mission that Alfred Mendes volunteered for on Oct. 12, 1917, after nearly a third of the men in his battalion had been killed in the Battle of Poelcappelle. The survivors were stranded across many miles, and Alfred, who had been trained as a signaler, was sent to rescue them and lead them back to his camp.

“That tiny man in the midst of that vast expanse of death, that was the thing I could never get out of my mind,” said Mendes.

It is the image that inspired the new film “1917,” directed and co-written by Mendes, about two British lance corporals who must make their way across miles of battleground to deliver an urgent message that could save 1,600 of their fellow soldiers from a massacre. Still, though the stories his grandfather told him had never been far from Mendes’s mind, that didn’t mean making a movie like this came easily...

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Katie Bell's Christmas Wishes

On Twitter:


Danielle Gersh's Christmas Forecast

I hope all my readers have a wonderful and warm Christmas.

Here's the spectacular Ms. Danielle, for CBS News 2 Los Angeles:



The Main Issue of 2020 Will Be Trump, Not the Economy

It's old Bill Schnieder, who was CNN's top political analyst in the 1990s (when Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw used to anchor), at the Hill, "Impeached, with a solid base and no apologies — Trump becomes the only issue of 2020."


Very Merry

Not sure if this is a Christmas photo, but it's nice.


Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Via Glenn Reynolds, at Instapundit, "DECEMBER 25, 2019: MERRY CHRISTMAS!"



Black Rifle Coffee Lady

I meant to post this earlier.

Been busy, understandably.

At Amazon, Light Roast Silencer Smooth by Black Rifle Coffee Company - 12 oz Bag of Coffee Grounds - Premium Gourmet Coffee - Perfect Coffee Lovers Gift.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Jennifer Delacruz's Christmas Eve Forecast

It's going to be chilly tonight.

Snuggle up by the fire and sip some hot chocolate before you tuck the kids in for the night.

Here's the lovely Ms. Jennifer, for ABC News 10 San Diego:



Evangelical Newspaper War

I saw this earlier, at the Daily Beast, via Memeorandum, "Editor Quits Amid Evangelical Newspaper Civil War Over Trump."

Here's the latest, at Christian Post, "Christianity Today and the problem with ‘Christian Elitism’."

And on Twitter, the background:


Gisele Bündchen Out for Fashion

Well, Tom Brady's getting a mouthful at night, I guess.

She looks fresh.

At Drunken Stepfather, "GISELE BUNDCHEN TITS OUT FOR FASHION OF THE DAY."

Emma Watson Fashionista

At Celeb Jihad, "EMMA WATSON’S NUDE TITTIES FOR FUTURISTIC FASHION."


Monday, December 23, 2019

Olga's Rainy Weather Forecast

The lovely Olga Ospina, for CBS News 2 Los Angeles, a lot of rain in the Southland.



BONUS: At ABC News 10 San Diego, "Megan Parry's Monday Forecast."

Christmas Gift Ideas

At Amazon, Top Gift Ideas.

Also, Today's Deals. New deals. Every day. Shop our Deal of the Day, Lightning Deals and more daily deals and limited-time sales.

Plus, TAHARI Deluxe Automatic Open Wood Handle & Shaft Umbrella (Black).

More, Premium Horny Goat Weed Extract with Maca & Tribulus, Enhanced Energy Complex for Men & Women, 1000mg Epimedium with Icariins, Veggie Capsules.

More here, MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder - Essential blend of Whey, Isolate, Casein and Egg Protein with BCAA's and Glutamine for Recovery, Chocolate Milk, 4 Pound.

Plus here, MTech USA Xtreme MX-8054 Series Fixed Blade Tactical Knife, Tanto Blade, G10 Handle, 11-Inch Overall.

BONUS: Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.

Both Sides Dig In Over Senate Trial

Noah Feldman, who testified during the House impeachment hearings (before Nadler's Judiciary Committee), posted something of a bombshell piece at Bloomberg the other day, "If Trump's Impeached, Then Why Can't a Senate Start Now?"

The whole delay is totally predictable. The Dems are losing the debate over impeachment, which went down on straight party lines. Trump's approval ratings are at the highest points of his presidency. Some House Democrats were grumbling about how they only wanted to "censure" the president, not impeach. Blah, blah.

It's going to the Senate one way or another, mainly because the American people aren't going to stand for the left's shenanigans too much longer.

In any case, at LAT, "Trump impeachment trial: Squaring off in the Senate":


WASHINGTON —  A senior White House official and leading Senate Republicans predicted Sunday that congressional Democrats would fail in their bid to force the Senate to summon witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
Democrats countered by asking why, if Trump were innocent, he would block the testimony of top aides with direct knowledge of his dealings with Ukraine — actions that led the House of Representatives to approve two articles of impeachment against the president last week.

Following Wednesday’s vote, only the third time in history that the House has impeached a president, Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not immediately forward the articles to the Senate for trial.

Democrats said that, in light of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to work in close concert with the White House, they were not satisfied the proceedings would be conducted fairly and impartially. Pelosi said she wanted clarity about what rules the Senate planned to follow before deciding which members of the House would act as the prosecutors, known as managers, of the case in the Senate.

Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is expected to send the articles to the Senate after the holiday recess. Senior White House aide Marc Short said he expected Republicans would make no concessions in return, even though Trump says he wants a quick trial in the GOP-controlled Senate.

“We’re confident this position is untenable, and she’s going to move it along,” Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and a former White House legislative director, told “Fox News Sunday.”

“She will yield — there’s no way she can hold this position,” he said, referring to Pelosi.

The White House’s current opposition to witnesses in the Senate marks an about-face. Until recently, Trump was insisting he wanted extensive witnesses. He hoped to turn a trial into an opportunity for his lawyers to call prominent Democrats and force them to answer questions about his so-far-groundless allegations of misconduct among that party’s members. McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Senate Republicans opposed that idea and appeared to have convinced Trump to drop it.

Democratic lawmakers defended Pelosi’s delay.

“I think what she’s just trying to do is make sure the best possible case for a fair trial happens,” said Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Addressing Trump directly, Booker said: “If you’re innocent, have acting Chief of Staff [Mick] Mulvaney come before the Senate, swear to an oath — settle this whole thing.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said Pelosi was doing “exactly the right thing” in “focusing a spotlight on the need to have a fair trial in the United States Senate.”

Since an impeachment inquiry began nearly three months ago, Trump has refused any cooperation by the executive branch. The blanket rejection of subpoenas for documents and squelching of appearances by key figures such as Mulvaney and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo formed the basis for one of the two articles of impeachment, alleging obstruction of Congress. The other accuses Trump of abuse of power.

More than a dozen diplomats and current or former administration officials defied Trump’s instructions and testified in the House proceedings. Those witnesses helped House Democrats make their case that the president withheld crucial military aid and a coveted White House meeting as a means of pressuring Ukraine’s newly elected leader to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Trump, who has never consistently accepted U.S. intelligence findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf, also asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in that election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent.

Although new evidence continues to emerge, Democrats say it is impossible to establish key details of what transpired if Trump blocks testimony by senior aides...
More at WaPo, via Memeorandum, "Impeachment live updates: McConnell, Pelosi dig in on impasse over Trump's Senate trial."

President Trump's an Existential Threat to the Regime Party

From Roger Kimball, at American Greatness, "The ‘Impeachment’ of Donald Trump":
Many commentators, myself included, have warned that the House was playing a dangerous game by taking the box marked “impeachment” down from the shelf and beginning to bat those balls around when there were no plausible grounds—none—for playing the game to begin with. Impeachment—again, as many commentators, myself included, have pointed out—was intended by the Founders to be a remedy of last resort, an in-case-of-fire-break-glass option when every other recourse had failed.

As recently as this March, Nancy Pelosi had insisted that impeachment had to be a bipartisan decision, only employed to address the most serious crimes. In endorsing the House charade, she shelved that scruple along with all her other ones. The result, as Andy McCarthy and others have pointed out, will be to make impeachment much more common. The price of “trivializing” impeachment, as the House has just done, will likely be to make it the “new normal.”

Indeed, the legal scholar Jonathan Turley, a prominent critic of the president, but one who has not therefore tainted his reason, pointed out that by the standards employed against Donald Trump, every living president could have been impeached. Turley was particularly troubled by the charge that the president was guilty of obstructing Congress. Why? Because all the president did was go to court to challenge House demands for certain evidence. The House, Turley noted, “set an abbreviated period for investigation, arguably the shortest investigation of any presidential impeachment.”
And then they said if you don’t turn over the evidence during that period, you’re obstructing Congress. Well, President Trump went to court to challenge the necessity of handing over that material. Both Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon were allowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court—they ultimately lost, and Nixon resigned soon after. My concern is that this really does seem like you are making an appeal to the court into a high crime or a misdemeanor (my emphasis).
I think there are two takeaways from this sad affair. One concerns the future place of impeachment in our system of government. I think that Andy McCarthy is right in suggesting that the ultimate sanction of impeachment has more and more been been routinely threatened because the usual checks and balances have been more or less neutered by the growing power of the so-called administrative state. “The problem,” McCarthy writes, is that
after a century of progressive governance . . . these checks do not work anymore. The federal government and its administrative state have grown monstrously big. Federal money is now as much tied to social welfare as to traditional government functions. Budgeting is slap-dash and dysfunctional. To threaten to deny funds or leave agencies leaderless is to be seen, not as reining in executive excess, but as heartlessly harming this or that interest group. Lawmakers would rather run up tens of trillions in debt than be portrayed that way
A lot more could be said about the growth of administrative power, which is essentially executive power, in the face of the paralysis or abdication of responsibility of Congress to fulfill its core responsibilities.

But in the context of our present Trump-centric drama, I suspect that the chief issue is a deeper, structural deformation. I mean the gradual transformation of our government from a vigorous two-party system into a one-and-a-half party system. I’ve written about this before. The idea is not mine but something I crib from conversations with the commentator James Piereson of the William E. Simon Foundation.

The bottom line is that, for many decades now, no matter which party has been in office, the real center of power has resided in the regime party, the party that government itself evolved into. Although plenty of Republicans have sat around this table, happy to engorge themselves on the attendant spoils, the regime party has always been the Democratic party. They encouraged an agenda of dependency that they could simultaneously cater to, exploit, and manage—an agenda that resulted not only in that bloated administrative apparatus that is staffed primarily by Democrats but also a sort of professional underclass of clients of this apparatus. Until the election of Donald Trump, the fealty of this underclass was reliably Democratic. Now there are cracks in the edifice, a terrifying prospect for their managers.

This is the thing to keep in mind. Donald Trump represents an existential threat to this status quo. Which is why he had to be stopped. On January 20, 2017, 19 minutes after Trump was inaugurated, the Washington Post announced in a headline “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.” Indeed, there were calls for Trump’s impeachment even before he was sworn in. Al Green (D-Texas) put it with admirable clarity when he said, back in 2017 (reiterating the sentiment in 2018) that “I am concerned that if we do not impeach this president, then he will get reelected.”

Trump’s real crime, in other words, was having been elected in the first place.

The point is that Donald Trump had to be impeached not because of anything he had done or had failed to do but because of who he was, what he represented: an existential threat to string-pullers of our one-and-a-half-party system. That is why the Democrats can ride roughshod over the rule of law, to say nothing of precedent and tradition, ruining who knows how many lives, tying up the business of government with preposterous special counsel investigations, House hearings, and the like, while the Republicans mostly vibrate in impotent fury and they emerge from the turmoil scot-free.

Again, there are some signs of fissures in this decades-on Democratic dispensation. The pugilistic response of the president himself is one such sign (“Cet animal est très méchant: quand on l’attaque il se défend”—“This animal is very mean: it defends itself when attacked”). Another sign of change is the stalwartness of Mitch McConnell and the doggedness of U.S. Attorney John Durham and his boss, Attorney General William Barr. My own guess is that we’ll know real progress has been made when—or rather if—a raft of indictments are handed down in the business of the deep-state effort to take down the Trump campaign and then his presidency...

Big Woman Flashing

See, "Flashing."

BONUS: "Amateur of the Day."

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood Gentrification (VIDEO)

I don't watch SNL anymore, but you gotta get a kick out of Eddie Murphy.

At LAT, "Eddie Murphy returns to ‘Saturday Night Live’ with Buckwheat, Mr. Robinson and Gumby in tow."



Brendan Simms, Hitler

*BUMPED.*

At Amazon, Brendan Simms, Hitler: A Global Biography.



GPA vs. SAT: Which is Better Predictor of College Success

I never took the SAT, and I did fine in college. I had to take the GRE to get into graduate school, so it's not like I'm unfamiliar with these standardized tests, and their drawbacks. That said, I certainly wouldn't eliminate them. This whole debate is stupid. Banning placement tests will only dumb down college further.

At LAT, "Grades vs. SAT scores: Which is a better predictor of college success?":


As a student at Kaiser High School in Fontana two years ago, Melissa Morfin-Acevedo bombed her SAT test, scoring in the bottom third percentile nationally.

The daughter of an immigrant single mother with a fifth-grade education, Morfin-Acevedo lived below the poverty line and couldn’t afford test prep tutors. She took the 8 a.m. test exhausted, having returned home from her theater job past midnight that day.

But her 4.1 GPA helped her win admission to UC Riverside — and today the second-year student in political science is thriving in the honors program, earning mostly A’s, and preparing for a career in law or public service.

“The SAT score does not reflect your future possible success in college,” she said. “If you want it, you can do it.”

Pressure is growing on the University of California and California State University to drop the SAT and ACT exams as admission requirements because of their perceived bias against disadvantaged students and underrepresented minorities. As part of the debate, policymakers are considering increasing the weight of high school grades in the admissions process.

Research has shown that grades are the best single predictor of college performance and aren’t as heavily influenced as the standardized exams by income, parent education levels and race.

But the ACT and College Board, which owns the SAT, argue that a combination of grades and test scores is the best overall guide to selecting students who are likely to succeed in college. Using grades without test scores could exacerbate inequities, test officials say, because grade inflation is worse in affluent schools, according to research they have reviewed.

The UC Academic Senate, which sets admissions standards, is expected to issue recommendations on the tests by February, with Cal State to follow. The issue, which has drawn international attention because of the size and prestige of the public university systems, raises several pressing questions. How do students with high grades but low SAT scores actually do in college? What support do they need — and get? Are there drawbacks to relying more heavily on grades?

UC Riverside is a living laboratory that offers some answers.

Among the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses, UC Riverside has the second lowest SAT scores for entering freshmen — an average 1260, the 82nd percentile. But the Inland Empire campus has won accolades for helping disadvantaged students succeed, including a No. 1 ranking for graduating low-income students among national universities by US News & World Report this year. The majority of its 24,000 students are low-income and the first in their families to attend college; 4 in 10 are underrepresented minorities.

To flesh out the questions, the campus provided data on SAT scores, high school GPAs and student outcomes for 7,889 freshmen who enrolled in 2012 and 2013. The bottom line: The most successful students had both high GPAs and high test scores. But those with equally high grades and lower test scores weren’t far behind.

Among 1,807 UC Riverside students with GPAs of 3.75 or higher and SAT scores above 900 — the 32nd percentile — outcomes were not so different between those with higher- and lower-end SAT test scores:
*The six-year graduation rate for those with SAT scores between 900 and 1090 was 81% compared with 83% for those with SAT scores between 1100 and 1600, the highest score possible.
*The rate of students returning for a second year was 91% for those with the lower scores and 94% for those with the highest scores.
*The first-year GPA was 2.78, a B-, for students with lower scores compared with 3.36, a B+, for those with the highest scores.
*Students with SAT scores below 900, however, did noticeably worse. Their graduation and second-year retention rates were 10 percentage points below the group with the highest SAT test scores. Still, 73% graduated within six years compared with 65% of peers with higher SAT scores but lower GPAs.
If UC drops the SAT and ACT in favor of giving grades greater weight, systemwide graduation rates are likely to drop. But the benefits will be substantial to students who otherwise might not have qualified for UC admission because of low test scores, said Zachary Bleemer, a research associate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education.

His analysis last year looked at the academic records of about 8,000 UC students who enrolled under a program that guaranteed admission to the top 4% of each high school’s graduating class between 2001 and 2011, but whose average SAT scores were nearly 300 points below their peers at the UC campuses they attended.

Their five-year graduation rate was 77% compared with an average 83% among UC peers. But it was substantially higher than it would have been if they had attended a Cal State or community college campus, his analysis found. The UC students also earned nearly $15,000 more annually six to eight years after enrolling.

The findings suggest that students with high grades but lower test scores can thrive at UC schools and counter the “mismatch hypothesis” that less competitive students are better off at less selective universities, Bleemer said.

For university officials who must weigh the complexities of the criteria in their admissions decisions, there are no easy answers.

Emily Engelschall, UC Riverside director of undergraduate admissions, says she sees the shortcomings of standardized testing but that the scores do help evaluate grades across vastly different high schools. She also worries that dropping the testing requirement could exacerbate grade inflation.

“If you don’t have some sort of standardized tests to balance out grade inflation,” she said, “then that does take one piece of the puzzle away from an admissions professional to help make a decision about a student.”

Jessica Howell, the College Board’s vice president of research, has said that a greater reliance on high school grades in the name of equity would be “misguided” because grade inflation is associated with wealth.

The College Board points to a 2018 study of North Carolina public school students in grades eight through 10 between 2005 and 2016. The study found that median GPAs rose across the board over time, but did so more in affluent schools than in low-income ones.

The study also raised questions about the reliability of grades in measuring mastery of content. It found that only 21% of students who received A’s in algebra I achieved the highest proficiency level in end-of-course exams and 57% of those who received Bs failed to score marks indicating college and career readiness.

“The latest research is resoundingly clear,” Howell said in a statement. “Grade inflation is a serious problem, particularly in high schools that serve more affluent communities.”

Yet the Riverside campus is filled with students from less privileged backgrounds whose hard work has helped them transcend low test scores and rise to UC’s academic rigor...
Keep reading.

Playmate Iryna

Following-up, "Nice Playmate Lady."


Rita Ora in Metallic Halterneck Swimsuit

At London's Daily Mail:


BONUS: "Rita Ora in Red Bikini."

Rachel Cook Shaved Head

At Inquisitr, "Rachel Cook Goes Nude for Second Issue of ‘WTVR’ Magazine."

And Celeb Jihad, "RACHEL COOK SHAVED HEAD NUDE PHOTOS."

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Minka Kelly

At Celeb Jihad, "MINKA KELLY TOP-SLIP VIDEO."

Also at Phun.


Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Brooks Nader

Seen on Twitter:


How Russian Agents Hunt Down Kremlin Opponents

Very dramatic.

At Der Spiegel, "Putin's Killers in Europe":

In the summer of 2013, a killer in Moscow rode a bicycle toward his victim. The Russian businessman Albert Nazranov saw him, and a short brawl ensued. The killer shot the man in the head and upper body at close range. Then he rode away. All of that can be seen in surveillance footage of the crime.

In the summer of 2019, a killer also rode a bicycle toward his victim, only this time in Berlin. He shot Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, of Georgia, in the head and upper body at close range, before riding away. That's how witnesses described the scene.

Reporting by DER SPIEGEL, Bellingcat, The Insider and The Dossier Center now reveals that not only were both murders very similar -- they were also likely carried out by the same person. A forensic comparison of both perpetrator photos reveals clear similarities. The man who carried a passport bearing the name Vadim Sokolov in Berlin was the Russian Vadim Krasikov, the killer who is thought to have also struck in Moscow.

German General Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank has now assumed responsibility for the investigation into the Berlin murder case at the federal level because, he says, they are of "special importance." Germany's chief prosecutor believes that Russian government authorities deliberately issued Krasikov's new identity, an assumption based on the fact that Moscow took the surprising step in 2015 of revoking an international search warrant for Krasikov and issuing a new identity card to him with the name "Vadim Sokolov" a short time later. It's not likely to have been a coincidence.

The Chief Federal Prosecutor's Office is accusing the Russian government or one of its henchmen of having murdered Khangoshvili in broad daylight at the end of August, a hitjob on German soil against a man who had come to the country as an asylum-seeker,

A similar crime committed in the United Kingdom last year sparked an international crisis when suspected agents with the Russian military intelligence agency GRU conducted an attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter using the Russian neurotoxin Novichok. Twenty-nine countries expelled 146 Russian diplomats in response to the crime. Berlin also forced four representatives of Russia to leave the country.

A Slow Political Response

Despite the similarities, officials in Berlin seemed to be struggling in coming up with a political response to the Khangoshvili murder. For some time, officials said evidence in the case was too unclear. They argued that a fake ID in Russia could also be obtained through bribery and that it couldn't automatically be assumed that the Russian government had been involved.

But last Wednesday, just as the German federal prosecutor took over the case, the government in Berlin also adopted a tougher line. They ordered the chargé d'affaires at the Russian Embassy to the Foreign Ministry, where officials informed him that two staffers in the defense affairs division of the embassy, both of whom are believed by German security authorities to be members GRU intelligence service, would be expelled from Germany.

The Foreign Ministry justified the decision by saying that the cooperation by the Russian authorities has been "insufficient." "We view the expulsions as a very strong message to the Russian side to provide us with immediate and comprehensive support in clarifying the identity and background of the alleged perpetrator," said Helge Braun, chief of staff at Angela Merkel's Chancellery. "Given that there has been a lack of support for months, I have absolutely no comprehension of how Russia could be outraged or even be thinking about countermeasures."

Addressing a question about the case at last week's NATO summit in London, Chancellor Merkel stated: "We took this action because we have not seen Russian support in helping us solve this murder." Merkel has left open whether she will take up the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Ukraine summit in Paris on Monday. But it's difficult to imagine that she wouldn't.

The government in Berlin wants to wait until the investigationsproceeds further before considering whether to take further punitive action against Moscow. Officials in the Chancellery are still wary about comparing the foreign policy fallout of the Khangoshvili killing with the Skripal case. But the circumstantial evidence is strong and there is much to suggest that Georgian national Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was killed for political reasons, even if Russia, as so often in the past, has denied all accusations...
More.


The End of the World Trade Organization?

Who cares, really?

The conflict between economic regionalism and global economic openness, embodied in the post-WWII multilateral trade regime, has been a longtime topic in international relations theory.

The Trump administration is accelerating the shift to regionalism.

Not to mention Brexit, which should go through on January 31st, thanks to the Conservative triumph in the general election.

All is not lost, as bilateral trade agreements will take the place of wider multilateral pacts.

In any case, at the Los Angeles Times, "House passage of USMCA marks major shift away from free-trade policies":
WASHINGTON —  The House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the new North American trade deal, voting in unusually bipartisan fashion just a day after impeaching President Trump strictly on party lines. 
Approval of the trade bill, which now goes to the Senate for almost certain ratification, did far more than help Trump notch a major achievement: It marked a significant change in U.S. economic strategy toward the rest of the world.

For much of the last 70 years, throughout the Cold War and down to more recent times, Washington used America’s vast wealth and economic power to build friendships and alliances that bolstered national security.

That strategy included a fundamental commitment to free trade — opening the large U.S. market to products from all over the world. For the most part, American companies and their workers had to compete against foreign businesses and labor with little or no protection from the federal government.

As Trump has long complained, that free-trade policy cost millions of American jobs. But leaders of both parties and economic experts considered it worth the price because it boosted American growth, generating many new jobs, and opened new opportunities for many U.S. companies to profit in a global economy. At the same time, it helped cement U.S. leadership in the world.

“In the post-World War II era, we were so much more powerful and so much richer than everybody else that we could improve the living standards at home and still give away the store on trade,” said Clyde Prestowitz, a former top trade negotiator in President Reagan’s administration.

“And we’re now culminated at a moment in which the cost of our old policy is really hard to bear, and so we’re de facto changing our policy,” he said.

The march toward free global markets with lower tariffs and other barriers always had exceptions. Beginning in the 1970s, U.S. companies began to complain about unfair competition: dumping of textiles and steel by foreign producers subsidized by their governments, for instance, or the sale of below-cost television sets, electronics and other consumer goods.

Reagan and his successors responded to these complaints with demands for import quotas and other measures. But overall, the United States remained committed to a broad strategy of free trade — relying on market forces and competition to determine outcomes.

While Republican business leaders complained about specific instances of what they saw as unfair tactics, such as currency manipulation and intellectual property theft, they largely remained committed to the overall free-trade strategy.

Democrats, responding to their union supporters, complained that American workers were paying a heavy price for a system that primarily benefited corporations and upper-income Americans.

The original North American Free Trade Agreement, which passed the House in 1993 by a margin of only 34 votes, highlighted the political unease about trade.

The agreement, however, fit squarely into that strategy of using trade in part for geopolitical reasons. It aimed to make Mexico more prosperous and hence make the United States more secure at a time when radical, leftist regimes seemed to be on the rise in Latin America. Economically, many saw it as a bulwark against rising competition from a unified Europe and Asian tiger economies.

NAFTA tore down tariffs and shaped North America into a powerful economic bloc — three-way trade in goods now reaches $1.3 trillion — but it was in many ways outdated in a global economy driven much more by technology and data.

Trump long attacked NAFTA, calling it one of the worst trade agreements ever and promising to renegotiate it. As president, he has attacked the whole system of free trade, undermining the World Trade Organization, which the U.S. helped create in the 1990s, and starting trade wars not only with China but with longtime U.S. allies such as Europe, Canada and Mexico.

He has enjoyed quiet but significant Democratic support on the issue. Witness the large bipartisan majority for the new version of NAFTA.

Renamed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the measure won approval by the Democratic-majority House 385-41, a remarkable show of unity at a time of deep partisan acrimony.

Not that there wasn’t the usual jostling and one-upmanship which have characterized relations between congressional Democrats and Trump.

“Of course we’ll take credit for it, because what he proposed did not fill the bill of what he described,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said shortly before the vote, referring to Democrats’ successful pressure on the administration to amend the trade deal to strengthen enforcement of labor and environmental protections.

Earlier Wednesday night, at a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., Trump insisted that Pelosi and other Democrats had no choice but to pass USMCA.

“She had a lot of pressure, especially from manufacturing areas, farm areas, a lot of pressure to sign it.... I had a lot of union labor vote for me, tremendous amount of labor,” he said...
More.


Men's Mid-Weight Puffer Vest

At Amazon, Amazon Essentials Men's Mid-Weight Puffer Vest.

Plus, Books.

Jennifer Delacruz's Weekend Forecast

Well, pre-Christmas football all day today, and wonderful SoCal weather!

Here's the lovely Ms. Jennifer, for ABC News 10 San Diego:



Comparing Modern Dodge Muscle Cars to the Iconic Vehicles of the 1960s (VIDEO)

My buddy Greg Joseph is interviewed in this L.A. Times feature on the new Dodge Hellcat lineup.

See, "Do modern Dodge muscle cars capture the magic harnessed by Big Willie Robinson?":


I couldn’t get any seat time in the late Robinson’s car — it was destroyed in 1971, and his wife’s matching car was wrecked a few years later. But I did track down a 1969 Hemi Daytona owned by car collector Greg Joseph.

Joseph actually knew Robinson; he met the leader of the Brotherhood of Street Racers in the 1990s via former Times Publisher Otis Chandler. At the time, Joseph was curating the muscle car collection of Chandler, whose holdings included a 1969 Hemi Daytona of his own.

Joseph said he was touched by the realization that he, Chandler and Robinson and his street racer wife each owned one of these unique rides.

“They truly were icons,” Joseph said. “It kind of brings back the nostalgia, the memories of the time when I went to all the drag races.”

Joseph, a retired history professor who long taught at Long Beach City College, said he sees the through line from the Daytona to the Redeye, in part because both harness what he called “state-of-the-art technology to go fast.”

“This is all-out high-performance,” said Joseph, gesturing at the Redeye. “Same with the Daytona.”

Still, the Redeye isn’t entirely state-of-the-art. It derives its power from a pushrod V-8 — that’s old-fashioned technology in an era of overhead cam motors with variable valve timing — but I get Joseph’s point. This is a car whose launch can be programmed via a special mode that holds the RPM at a desired spot in the power band for optimal acceleration.

And the Redeye carries over other technology from the 2018 Challenger Demon, an even higher-performance version of the car that put out 840 horsepower — and did zero to 60 in 2.3 seconds — but was sold for only one year. Among the goodies that have found their way from the Demon to the Redeye is an intercooler chiller system that keeps the motor at the ideal temperature.

Although the Redeye was the more extreme of the two cars I tested, the Charger Hellcat seemed to turn more heads during the week I drove it. As with the Challenger, this version of the Charger has been around for several years, but in Hellcat guise, the exterior modifications stand out. Perhaps that’s because they’re transforming a sedan with comparably more sedate looks.

At one stoplight, a man in a black minivan eyed the Charger Hellcat lustily from the neighboring lane. I edged the car forward, summoning a bark from the big V-8, and the other driver laughed appreciatively. Up the street, our lanes merged into one, and he happily ceded the road.

The minivan may have been no match for the Charger Hellcat, but the American muscle car rivalry is alive and well. And in many ways — even as manufacturers move toward increased electrification and hybridization — we are in the midst of a new golden age for these vehicles. A horsepower war touched off by the launch of the 2015 Challenger and Charger Hellcats shows no signs of slowing down. Chevrolet’s Camaro ZL1 offers 650 horsepower, and Ford is readying a top-end Mustang — the Shelby GT500 — packing 760 horsepower.

The Hellcat cars both deliver a quintessential muscle car ride. But it wasn’t easy for me to see a link to the Dodge drag strip heroes of yore, amid the many trappings of modernity.

Still, I was able to find a connection to the past in an unexpected place: some of the new cars’ shortcomings. Details like the Redeye’s subpar seats — yielding in all the wrong places — seemed to telegraph Dodge’s focus on speed, and little else. Thinking about the Hellcat cars this way, I grew to view many of their flaws as charming. And the ties to the 1960s were ultimately driven home via a mishap.

Before the Redeye was lent to The Times, it underwent some mechanical work that left the interior smelling of gasoline. Workers had attempted to mitigate it, but the bouquet of fuel stubbornly persisted.

But it didn’t bother me. It felt a little rough, a little raw. Like how old cars sometimes smell after they’ve been throttled hard.

Even if it was unintended, it made the Redeye feel a little bit closer to 1969.

A little bit closer to the Daytona. A little bit closer to Robinson.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Windfall

At Amazon, Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America's Power.



Benjamin J. Cohen, Currency Statecraft

At Amazon, Benjamin J. Cohen, Currency Statecraft: Monetary Rivalry and Geopolitical Ambition.



The Queen's Speech Introducing Boris Johnson's Conservative Government (VIDEO)

At the Guardian U.K., "Queen's speech: PM points to harder Brexit and 10-year rule."

And the Los Angeles Times, "Boris Johnson unveils ambitious agenda for Britain’s Brexit and government reforms":


LONDON —  Prime Minister Boris Johnson signaled an end to Britain’s era of Brexit deadlock Thursday, announcing a packed legislative program intended to take the U.K. out of the European Union on Jan. 31 and overhaul a range of government services, including the cash-starved National Health Service.

The commanding House of Commons majority won by Johnson’s Conservative Party in last week’s general election all but guarantees he will be able to turn those promises into law, although with Brexit casting a shadow over the British economy, there’s a question mark over how he will pay for it all.

In a speech delivered from a golden throne in Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, Johnson opened the legislative floodgates after three years in which minority Conservative governments tried in vain to win legislators’ backing for their Brexit plans.

“This is the moment to repay the trust of those who sent us here by delivering on the people’s priorities,” Johnson told lawmakers after the speech. “They want to move politics on and move the country on.”

In less than 10 minutes, the monarch rattled through more than two dozen bills the government intends to pass in the coming year. The first will be the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the law needed to make Brexit a reality, which is set to receive its first significant parliamentary vote Friday.

The bill commits Britain to leaving the EU on Jan. 31 and to concluding trade talks with the bloc by the end of 2020. Trade experts and EU officials say striking a free-trade deal within 11 months will be a struggle, but Johnson insists he won’t agree to any more delays. That vow has set off alarm bells among businesses, which fear that means the country will face a “no-deal” Brexit at the start of 2021.

The government also plans to pass several other Brexit-related measures, including a new “points-based” immigration system that will be introduced after Brexit, when EU citizens will lose the automatic right to live and work in the U.K.

There are also plans to overhaul agriculture, fishing, trade and financial services after Brexit in ways that will have a huge — though still largely unknown — effect on the British economy...


Carla Guetta

At Drunken Stepfather, "CARLA GUETTA FULL PHOTOSHOOT OF THE DAY."

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Will Mitch McConnell Reject the House Articles as Not Stating an Impeachable Offense?

At Instapundit, "COCAINE MITCH: McConnell Rips Apart Democrats’ ‘Partisan Crusade’ on the Floor of the Senate."



Democrat Rashida Tlaib Celebrates Trump's Impeachment (VIDEO)

Actually, it's perfectly natural to celebrate something for which you've worked so hard.

The problem is that Democrats keep moaning about how solemn and sober are the proceedings.

At Pajamas, "Solemn Much? Rashida Tlaib Shares Giddy Video Celebrating Trump's Impeachment," and the Blaze, "VIDEO: Far-left US Rep. Rashida Tlaib can't hide her happiness as she walks to House to vote for President Trump's impeachment."


Pelosi's Impeachment Disaster

At AoSHQ, "Granny Nasty McBotoxRictus: I'm So Proud of Our Fake Impeachment I'm Scolding the Press Not to Ask About It, and I'm Obstructing it from Going to Trial."