Wednesday, December 28, 2016

And the Winner is...... New Zealand.

In a record -breaking and making time, at 2.31 am, the first Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race boat across the line in Hobart passed the mouth of my cave in the dark. Bugger. I could not get a snap. But I did see the mast lights and the lights of the modest fleet of small boats that greeted the elated crew.

This morning as the rest of the fleet makes its way in, it is dank and drizzly after a week of really sunny days. And while those boats will share the sad dribbling in, at least they can expect a hooley of all hoolies over the next few days as Hobart puts on its famed 'Taste of Tasmania' and a new Year's fireworks display. Perhaps I shall get a better view of that.

It will be a cross-Tasman celebration. 

Built in Aukland, New Zealand, supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL stormed across the Sydney to Hobart finish to take out line honours, smashing the previous race record by nearly five hours.

Under the cloak of darkness, Perpetual LOYAL crossed the line off Hobart at 2:31am, breaking the race record by 4 hours, 51 minutes and 52 seconds.

"I don't think anyone expected us to do well in this race, the bookies certainly didn't," skipper Anthony Bell told waiting media and well-wishers.

New Zealand's Giacomo crossed the line in second about two hours behind LOYAL, having pipped Hong Kong supermaxi Scallywag by just two minutes.
Giacomo and Scallywag also finished well ahead of Wild Oats XI's record, both beating the old mark by about three hours.

It is likely that Giacomo will take the Handicap honours too.
Confirmed. It Did.

Queensland's Black Jack finished fourth, with New Zealand's (again !) Beau Geste and New South Wales yacht Maserati taking fifth and sixth line honours respectively.

LOYAL took just over 1 day, 13 hours and 31 minutes to win line honours and snatch the record set in 2012 by Wild Oats XI.
It's there, I tell you !

It made its way up the Derwent followed by a (small) fleet of media and spectator boats, while crowds gathered at Constitution Dock to watch history unfold in the great race.

"It's amazing! It looks like we're going to have all three - first out of the heads, line honours and race records, so it's an amazing achievement," skipper Anthony Bell's wife Kelly said as the supermaxi sailed into Hobart.

LOYAL triumph is Wild Oats XI heartbreak

After failing to finish the race the previous two years — suffering rudder damage in 2015 and hitting an unidentified object in 2014 — Perpetual LOYAL took the lead when the race leader, Wild Oats XI, pulled out on Tuesday morning.

Wild Oats XI, an eight-time winner, was a shock retirement from the blue water classic 20 hours into the race with a broken hydraulic ram, immobilising its keel.
It limped into safe harbour in Eden - just hours before the winner crossed the line -  on the New South Wales coast after disaster struck Tuesday morning.

The crew's clothing was in Hobart and there was no room at any Inn for them, so they were sent, ignominiously by bus back to Sydney.

But perhaps the real winner is ....

Family boat comes second in Sydney-Hobart
With his two teenage sons among the crew, Jim Delegat has secured second place line honours in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race with his boat Giacomo.

A New Zealand father-and-sons trio has taken out second place line honours in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The Volvo 70 Giacomo reached the southern capital about 4.30am (AEDT) on Wednesday, almost two hours behind winner Perpetual LOYAL, but still well ahead of the previous race record.

Owner and skipper Jim Delegat praised his sons Nikolas, 19, and James, 18, who were among the crew of 14.
"This type of yachting is a boyhood dream come true," Jim said after pulling into Hobart's Constitution Dock.
"(James is) quite an experienced sailor for his age and he's fearless. They're very fearless and talented young men."
The senior Delegat, who's found success in the global wine industry, said reading the weather when setting off from Sydney proved instrumental in the race result.
"The key really is we picked a good plan, a good strategy, we really thought about the weather and we looked at where we had to be in the first 18 hours," the skipper said.
CQS, 12 hours after the winner.
"We figured that the first 18 to 20 hours was going to win the race for us and we went out far, a little wider and that enabled us to take a couple of jibes later on at the top of Tasmania.
"The weather is really what it was about."
Despite coming within eight nautical miles of LOYAL, Jim said they were always out of reach.
"It was good to know we were in the play but I didn't ever think we'd overhaul them."
The boat finished in one day, 15 hours, 27 minutes and five seconds, just a couple of minutes ahead of third-placed Hong Kong supermaxi Scallywag.
Fellow NZ boat Beau Geste remains in a tight tussle for fourth in line honours with NSW entry Maserati.
We can also tip a hat and wait for a passing parade of boats yet to arrive. 88 set out from Sydney and few retired, so there are many yet to make their way up the D'Entrecasteaux, mingling with the 40 odd that set off from the Tamar River in the north of Tasmania (coming down the east coast) and the couple of dozen that also set off from Port Philip Bay yesterday. They will be coming down the wild west coast of Tassie and across the bottom.

The harbour will again be overflowing with boats and masts. A fitting backdrop for the new years eve partying.
Alive arrives. Coulda been a contender.

There is no place quite like Hobart on NYE.

Drink to that ! 


Monday, December 26, 2016

The Greatest Race

Watch for updates.
With all the Christmas plates cleared away, the Taverners are settled on the edges of their seats for the Traditional Boxing Day in Oz. With fine ales at hand we all gathered around the TVs and the computers to see the yachts, big and little, set off on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.   A rousing hymn struck up, with a little variation....

Oh Queen of Heaven, Star of the Sea, pray for the wanderers (under sail with spinnakers straining from a 30kt Northerly as they sail down the south-east coast of the Great Brown Land), pray for me.

A gorgeous summer's day on Sydney harbour and 88 boats, 13 huge buggers on the front line, with 39 modest ones on a line behind and 36 little tiddlers behind them, pressed forward at the start gun.

I follow the fleet on a marine traffic site.  Here the boats jockey for position and sort themselves out half an hour before the start.  Just some of the boats, of course - those that carry the transponders.

So, what is it all about, some furriners may ask.

Boxing Day in Australia is the perfect excuse to fire up the barbeque, devour leftover Christmas feasts and kick back to watch one of the world’s toughest yacht races. The 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart will see an 89-strong fleet aiming to make it from Sydney, down Australia’s east coast, across Bass Strait and into Hobart. While a handful will race for line honours, every crew could potentially claim The Tattersall’s Cup – the coveted prize for the overall victor.

High seas most of the 628 nautical miles/1,163 kilometres/722 miles. This distance represents what is known as the ‘rhumbline’, the most direct route from Sydney to Hobart. And the Bass Strait. Oh Boy.

To take part a vessel cannot be more than 100 foot. or less than 30 foot.

The Sydney–Hobart Yacht Race, arguably the world's greatest ocean race, [Now, let us be serious. Who but some jealous furriner would argue? !] began when Jack Earl, a marine artist, planned a cruise from Sydney to Hobart on the family ketch, leaving on Boxing Day, 1945. Friends decided to make a race of it, and eventually nine yachts took part. The winner of both handicap and line honours, John Illingworth's Rani, took 6 days, 14 hours, 22 minutes, while Peter Luke's Wayfarer still holds the record for the slowest time: 11 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes. 

Nokia's 1999 journey was the fastest – 1 day, 19 hours, 48 minutes.
2016 will be a fast one too. Perhaps a new record?

The fleet has averaged eighty yachts, with a record 371 yachts for the race's fiftieth anniversary in 1994. Visitors throng Constitution Dock in Hobart to see the entrants, which range in size from the tiny Klinger, 8.23 metres long, to super high-tech maxis that dominate the quest for Line Honours. The closest finish was in 1982 when Condor of Bermuda beat Apollo across the line by seven seconds.

Update. after 5 hours..... see a video of mayhem at the start in this link below.

And for an extended hour and a half lead up to and into the race at this link.....

Not all yachts make the finish, and rough weather can cause many withdrawals. In 1993, only 38 yachts finished out of 110 starters. A total of nine sailors have drowned, with the worst year by far 1998, when in exceptionally rough weather, six sailors died. But there are sailors for whom the Sydney-Hobart is an integral part of their life. Sixty yachtsmen have sailed in 25 or more races. Tasmanian John Bennetto holds the record of 43 races, finishing in eighteen consecutive races as owner/skipper of Mirrabooka.

So,  you might ask, what happens to the 'withdrawls? And how do they decide who the winners is when the contestants are so 'unequal'?  We were fortunate to have two knowledgeable folk on hand to tell us.  Andrew McGarry spoke about the 'handicap'.
Sydney to Hobart: line honours v handicap honours — who is the real winner of the race?

From athletics to horse racing to Formula One to vast majority of races operate using a simple concept — the first competitor to make it to the finish line is the winner.

In the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race, however, things get a little more clouded.

News coverage, and public interest, tends to follow the boats at the front who are chasing line honours — the right to be called the first across the line at Constitution Dock in Hobart.

That competition is usually limited to three or four "super-maxis", the biggest, fastest boats in the fleet, which are at least 100-feet in length.
For line honours, the winner gets the J.H Illingworth Trophy, named after Captain John Illingworth, who won the first edition of the race on Rani.

Among most sailors, however, the more important challenge is the race for handicap honours.

The winner on handicap wins the Tattersall's Cup, which was donated to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in 1946. The name of the 1945 winner was subsequently added.

Boats are rated (or handicapped) by their expected speed based on the vessel's size and other statistics.
In years where an entry breaks the race record, such as Wild Oats XI in 2012 — where the super-maxi finished in one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds — they usually win handicap as well as line honours.
But most of the time, handicap honours are won by a smaller, physically slower boat, which nevertheless outdoes its opposition when time is adjusted for size and other factors.
The Commodore of the CYCA, John Markos, says the handicap system has been designed "to create an equaliser" for the fleet.
"There are so many contexts that go into creating the system," he said.
"You talk about displacement, how much water that a boat displaces (when fully loaded). Then there is sail area, that has an effect, and the mast size does too.
"There are a lot of these things that have been studied closely to come up with the formula.
"That (handicap honours) is the one that counts for a great many sailors."
Spilling out of the Heads.

According to Commodore Markos, there will be plenty of people racing boats that are much older, up to 50 years old, who he says will still be capable of making the 628 nautical miles to Hobart and giving it a shot for handicap honours.

Last year's winner on handicap, Balance, was owned and skippered by Paul Clitheroe.

Balance's crew had to wait for half a day to find out if they had won, because there was a boat still out on the water called Quikpoint Azzurro, skippered by Shane Kearns, that had a handicap that could have won it the Tattersall's Cup.

For a while it looked like Quikpoint Azzurro, the smallest boat in the fleet, at just 10.1m long, would win the race overall.
But the wind that was pushing Quikpoint Azzurro toward victory died in the River Derwent, and in the end, Balance won on handicap by less than three hours.
There's a wide range of sailors in the blue water classic
"Many of the people there (in the race) are professional sailors who are there to race to their maximum performance," Markos said.
"Then you have the Corinthians — amateur crews with no professionals on board — they want to have a bash at their division ... and they may be capable of winning the race (on handicap).
"Then you have design classes, like the TP52, there are about 10 of them in the fleet. It all comes down to the crew, because the boats are virtually identical.
"And then you have some people who just want to sail down to Hobart!"
In the end, we return to the question of line honours.
"I think line honours will probably be contested by the four supermaxis, the 100-footers," he said.
"Each of them will find their own weather pattern. Some will be set up for downwind, some for upwind. It (the result) really will turn on the weather.
"These boats will be at the centre of technical development, with large sails and (crews with) experience at the elite level."
First and foremost, there is Wild Oats XI, which is the most successful entrant in Sydney-to-Hobart history, with a record eight line honours wins.
A welcome finish in a quiet harbour which will 'explode' with partying for at least a week.

Wild Oats XI has also had two clean sweeps, taking out line honours, handicap honours and the race record. She will be skippered again by Mark Richards.

Next is Perpetual LOYAL, which will hope for a better run than the last two years. In 2014, LOYAL was forced to retire on the second morning after hitting an object at sea the previous night and taking on water.

Last year, owner and skipper Anthony Bell had to turn the boat around and head back to Sydney for the second straight year after LOYAL suffered hull damage. Bell and his crew will be hoping for big winds to take advantage of LOYAL's big hull.

Next is Scallywag. This supermaxi was previously raced as Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin 100 - now owned by Seng Huang Lee, Scallywag has a bigger mainsail and will also be looking for strong winds in a bid for line honours.
Last, but by no means least, of the four is CQS, skippered by Ludde Ingvall. Formerly a 90-footer, Nicorette, which won line honours in 2004, CQS has had a serious transformation — with a reverse curved bow, wings and a canting keel, and lengthened to the 100-foot mark to make it a supermaxi.
It is a Very tough race. The seas can he high and the Bass Straight is a real bugger. The Roaring Forties ( latitude 40 south) really does roar through the Strait and even large powered ships wallow around in it.  It is the wise skipper who can gauge that his boat is not going to make it, and chooses a safe harbour. And Eden is it. As Jessica Haynes told:

Eden's quirky tradition during the Sydney to Hobart

It's a place nestled on the south-east coast of New South Wales and popular with tourists.

But every year, Eden also becomes a safe haven for boaties in need during the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
And the first boat in even gets a gong.

What's the prize?

It's the First Into Eden Trophy and it's awarded to the first boat to reach the shore.

It might have been forced to retire due to bad weather, an injury on board or damage to equipment.
Either way, they get their name on a piece of polished wood as well as a trophy to take home.
It's awarded by Eden's Twofold Bay Yacht Club (TBYC).
Why Eden?
You have to ask ??

TBYC Commodore Robin Arthur said it's the last point of return before the Bass Strait.

"There's always boats that port into Eden, it's the last stop before you ... get over to Tassie," Mr Arthur said.

"Once you've passed Eden there's not anywhere you can stop."

Who won it last year?
Frantic, skippered by former Wallaby Mick Martin, took the honours, followed by German yacht Haspa.
The town had an influx of boats last year, with the 2015 race battered by a south-westerly gale.

Mr Arthur said there was quite a conversation among the sailors who retired to the town.

"Of course nobody wants (the trophy) ... you've got to do the whole thing tongue in check," Mr Arthur said.

"And last year was quite funny ... (Mick Martin) was a lovely guy and he was quoted as saying he won 'the lump of wood'.
"That's the nickname for it now."
Why do they award it?
For years Eden locals have helped out boats and crews when they arrive, offering a roof over their head, a dry bed and a warm shower.
TBYC club member Robyn Malcolm, who hands out the award, said the tradition started more than two decades ago.
"I think it started in 1993, the town was suffering a bit financially and somebody decided we (would) have a wharf party," she said.
"Somebody organised the trophy and it's been going ever since.
"It's a lovely piece of timber.
"It's meant as a bit of fun, and it's taken in that way."
Do the local businesses look forward to the Sydney to Hobart?
Yep, but they don't always have a spare bed.
Great Southern 2IC Stephanie Robin said the hotel had hosted many boaties during the event.
"We have had quite a few," Mrs Robin said.
"A lot of them stay here while things are getting fixed.
"You hear all of their stories when they arrive."
Snug Cove Bed and Breakfast owner Jennifer Shuwalow said while they were booked out regardless of the event, it was a point of interest for guests staying.
"This year we might get one boat … we might get 20," she said.
And the favour is returned
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia host a group of students from Eden Marine High School to return to the favour to the Twofold Bay Yacht Club for looking after competitors during the Sydney to Harbour.
The students attend their youth academy and spend most of their time sailing on Sydney Harbour.
"It's their way of saying thankyou, it's a really great thing," Ms Malcolm said.
My cave looks out over the final dash so I am planning on taking a few snaps which I shall put up here later. That is, if it is daylight and fine weather. At the speeds likely this time the winner could arrive in the night or the weather might have turned nasty. We shall see.

I will update this report !

And the winner is......

Drink up. 


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Greetings

The Tavern  with its many bars and rooms will be hosting many large parties this night and the restaurant will be crowded and overflowing onto the patio for a long lunch tomorrow. The shades are hoisted too as it will be in the high 20s on Christmas Day.

But I shall be busy.  So....

To all my customers, visitors, friends, travellers on life's great journey, seekers for Truth and Himself; and all who are not friends, who treat me as an enemy; for all the Good people; to Christians who aspire to be Catholic but find it all too difficult (I do m'self, sometimes, but we have to try); to all the lefties and feminists out there, you poor sad people: for the bad and the mad as well as all who are and have good cause to be glad.....

A Very Merry, Happy and Holy Christmas.

While you are partying. remember whose birthday it is.

Thank you for dropping by the Tavern through the year.

Drinks on the House.

If you cannot find me carousing around,  you might look for me in the crypt.

Just follow the sounds of music.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Trump's Augean Stables

President-elect Trump and President Lincoln may share the same destiny in that Trump will be faced with a civil war, as was Lincoln. I do not expect the coming one to be so devastating to the countryside and towns as the last one, nor see streets of rubble in middle America and bodies in the wide corn fields. Well, I hope not. But he will face an implacable foe in his own people and have an Herculean task to perform.
We are used to seeing 'civil war' as in the old, tried and well tested mode of tanks in the streets, shellings, bombings and mauruading troops, ala Syria and the middle east. But modern America is a somewhat different place now and the coming battles will be inside Great Buildings of State, and very much like the Stables of Augea, full of dung; 'Regulatory' dung, produced by the famous strokes of the pen and the whispers into the telephone. And President Obama was not alone in leaving his dropping all over the place. He put in place tens of thousands of turd makers.

The Second American Civil War has been going on for some time now. The  marxist wreckers have held the field for a long time, nearly a decade, led by their Islamist pretender, Obama. He has destroyed much and built a destructive army that will remain after he retires to his many mansions at home and overseas and plays golf. 

Trump will have his work cut out cutting them and cleaning them all out.  But how will he divert the Potomac?  How is Washington to be cleansed?  One thing is certain, the fight has not yet started: the ring is crowded with paid flunkies  preparing for the main bout.

Few here in quite Oz and especially quiet Tasmania have the  up-close and personal insight but the Tavern is fortunate to have passers-by who drop in to take refreshment and tell us the news. So it was this week.

A few have seen the scale of the task and Hans von Spakovsky is one. His eyes were still glazed as he supped a fine ale and told us what Trump faces. He was followed by Victoria McGrane who at least had some good news of a weapon at hand for the Donald. Hans was upstanding first.
Taming the Bureaucratic Beast
The Herculean Task Ahead of President-Elect Donald Trump
President-elect Donald Trump certainly has his work cut out for him: Undoing all of the damage done by President Barack Obama over the past eight years.

Mr. Obama instigated an unprecedented — and unconstitutional — expansion of power by the federal government that poses a danger to our liberty, our freedom, and our economic well-being. Last [month's} election gave us a chance to pull our constitutional republic back from the brink and preserve the greatest nation the world has ever seen.

Too many political appointees were simply afraid of criticism if they implemented conservative policies and principles.
Customers in other Anglophile nations are not used to 'political' appointees in Public Service roles. Most of us have a 'Westminster' system of one sort or another in which Elected MPs are appointed to head up Ministries which are staffed by career civil servants. This is not quite the case in America. 
But Donald Trump will be up against a massive federal bureaucracy that will resist all of the steps necessary to accomplish that goal. 
Consider the Department of Justice, which has been politicized to an extent never seen before. Cleaning it up will be as difficult as cleaning out the Augean stables. 
Hercules had to divert two rivers to wash out the filth, 
and it will take a similarly massive effort at Justice to wash out the politics and progressive liberal activism that infests the agency from top to bottom.
The members of the Trump transition team need to understand that the career ranks at federal executive departments (perhaps with the exception of the Defense Department and isolated other pockets like the Border Patrol), are not filled with nonpartisan civil servants who impartially carry out the policies of the president. From the State Department to the Department of Justice, partisan liberals predominate the ranks of career employees.
For the last eight years, the Obama administration’s political appointees, with the help of their friends and allies in the career ranks, have ignored, bent, and broken the rules governing merit selection to aggressively hire only liberal career staff. 
The Justice Department’s civil rights and environmental divisions have made it a high art form. The bureaucracies of these agencies, virtually immune to being fired, will do everything they can to stop President Trump’s policies and directives.
In fact, the transition team should expect that the Obama administration will follow the lead of the Clinton administration, which went on a hiring spree during its last two months to jam as many leftists (including political appointees) into open career spots as they possibly could. 
When the new administration takes over at noon on Jan. 20, 2017, it should immediately review (with an eye toward potential termination) all federal employees who are still in their probationary period. 
The federal government is already far larger than it should be, so there should also be an immediate hiring freeze put in place across the entire executive branch to shrink the size of the government.
During the George W. Bush administration, I was one of the few conservative career lawyers inside the Civil Rights Division. While there were some very good, principled conservative political appointees inside Justice, some were actually afraid to implement conservative policies lest they incur the wrath of the liberal bureaucratic establishment inside Justice.
Others were very naïve; they didn’t understand that the critical mass of liberal career employees would do everything they could — directly and indirectly — to thwart the president’s priorities. In their recalcitrance, they went so far as to misrepresent the law and conceal critical facts to block implementation of anything they disagreed with.
Their other tactic was to violate, without hesitation, confidentiality regulations and ethics rules. 
They would leak with abandon — to their liberal allies in the press, their friends at progressive advocacy organizations, and their confidantes on the staffs of liberal members of Congress — the details of any program or policy with which they disagreed. Again: Too many political appointees were simply afraid of criticism if they implemented conservative policies and principles.
This was a particular problem with the political appointees who inhabited the middle levels of management. Many of them were early in their careers and hoped to advance to higher posts within this or the next Republican administration. Some of them looked at past nominees who had been filibustered and were scared that pursuing policies upsetting to the Left would result in their future advancement being torpedoed. So they changed their behavior and avoided implementing conservative principles on important public policy issues.
The Trump administration needs to pick political appointees at all levels who follow their leader’s example — people who don’t give a damn what the editorial pages of The Washington Post or The New York Times say about them. 
When organizations like Media Matters and the Center for American Progress or MSNBC don’t like them, they should wear it as a badge of honor. 
Anyone scared of that should not be in the administration. 
In fact, if the left-stream media approves of what you are doing as an administration official, you are probably doing the wrong thing.
Finding individuals who will stand their ground means looking for people who have been inside the cauldron and not retreated under the Left’s relentless viciousness and vindictiveness. All too often, conservative officials have withered when faced with the unfair and dishonest criticism of the institutional Left.
One final fact that the Trump administration should keep in mind: Year after year, all of these predominantly liberal federal agencies have gotten bigger, gotten more money, and acquired more power — for decades. The most expedient solution to reducing the power and liberal influence of the federal government requires a significant downsizing of the entire executive branch.
Proposals for even modest cuts lead to howling protests from the liberal press, the Washington political establishment, and the public employee unions. But downsizing would force the agencies to rein in their activities and concentrate on their core missions, reducing their ever-growing interference in the everyday lives of Americans and our economy because it would decrease the resources that the feds could spend on such interference.
The executive branch of the federal government is an ever-growing behemoth that is slowly invading every facet of American life. 
The only way this will ever change is if conservatives finally realize that when they control Congress and the White House, that is only the beginning of the fight. They can effect change and implement conservative public policy only if they tame — and dramatically reduce — the vast federal civil service bureaucracy in the executive branch.
Only then will the nation’s accelerating path toward socialization and the loss of our liberties be halted and drawn back.

Some 4000 political appointments are in order just to get hands on reins. It is likely that Trump will need a whole lot more than even his children.  And that is just in order to have his 'army' of cleaners in place with mops and buckets in hand.

Then there are the bodies to shift, each with fingers gripping their expensive chairs and ankles tied to their desks. Crikey, many are 'snowflakes' who will cry blue murder when handed their eviction notices.

Their tasks have been 'Regulation'. The outgoing government idolises regulation. They have been ridiculed for the way they get their way. Most, even at the higher reaches of the piles of dung have no idea what their regulations even do.  Bug-eyed Nancy Pelosi, the 'Speaker' of the time said that Congress would have to pass the ObamaCare bill in order to know what was in it !!  It did not occur to her that she was paid to read the friggin' thing first.

Somehow they have even overlooked the 'poison pill' passed some time ago.  Victoria explained.
Republicans in Congress prepare obscure tactic to gut Obama regulations
Twenty years ago, Newt Gingrich and allies pushing the self-styled Contract with America created an obscure but potent legislative weapon to help Republicans combat what they deemed to be out-of-control regulatory overreach in Washington.
Almost hidden in the weeds.

But like some kind of mystical, regulation-slaying sword, this tool comes to life only when the political stars align in just the right way, with single-party control on Capitol Hill and the White House, at just the right time.
Donald Trump, when he rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue at his inauguration, will usher in that time.
Republicans are readying an onslaught under what’s known as the Congressional Review Act to cast aside a raft of Obama administration edicts, including rules designed to make it harder for US corporations to avoid taxes; environmental rules aimed at curbing earth-warming emissions; and sweeping changes to overtime regulations that were set to guarantee extra pay for an estimated 4 million Americans.
Congress put Gingrich’s creation to work just once before, in 2001, to dispatch a workplace safety rule governing ergonomics, issued in the waning months of the Clinton administration.
This time Republicans are thinking much, much bigger.
“We plan to robustly use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the midnight regulations of Barack Obama,” said Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, who is a leader of the Senate effort. “His legacy lost. The American people said ‘No, we don’t want that. We want to change direction.’ ”
While Barrasso and other Republicans say the tool allows them to rescind “last minute” regulations pushed by the Obama administration, the Byzantine way that time is defined in the act means they will most likely be able to take aim at regulations put in place as far back as late May.
Gingrich, now a close Trump adviser, is thrilled his creation will get some use.
We’ve gone through a period where unelected bureaucrats have arrogated a level of dictatorial power that can ruin lives, close companies, and totally disrupt local governments with no recourse,” Gingrich said in a brief interview. “And to reassert the elected officials is, I think, a good thing.”
The Congressional Review Act in some ways encapsulates the absurdities of Washington. 
The law provides a fast-track process for lawmakers to overturn agency rules they dislike, rules that often took years for the executive branch agencies to write, review, and approve. Under terms of the act, each chamber passes a “resolution of disapproval,” the president signs it, and — poof! — the regulations exist no more.
But, as a practical matter, for this to actually happen requires a particular set of circumstances: Both chambers of a new Congress need to be controlled by the same party; a newly elected president must be of the same party; and everyone agrees that rules issued by the previous White House occupant, from the opposite party, need to be tossed.
And, under time limits in the act, they have a period of just a few months in the new Congress to get it all done.
The morning after Trump’s victory, Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy team at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, said he got “a million phone calls from Hill people about possible regs” that Congress could use Congressional Review Act to repeal.
Senate Democrats can’t rely on their typical go-to counteroffensive, the filibuster. A key reason this regulatory repeal tool is so potent is that it requires just a simple majority — 51 votes — in the Senate, not the 60-vote super majority most legislation requires.
If Congress uses it to successfully overturn a regulation, the agency is barred from ever again issuing rules that closely match what lawmakers rejected — unless Congress passes new legislation permitting the agency to do so.
All those regs support 'government' jobs. The pension bill will be bigger than the queues at the employment exchange.  Entire University Departments will be rolling out 'graduates' who will have no gummunt job to go to. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

The 'regulations' may seem small items, but the damage that the pen and the phone have wreaked is immense.  Beaurocrats not only defy sensible policies and make their own up on the lefty run, but they bungle too. A small example may assist in gaining a little perspective.
Tomato Growers Lose Millions Thanks to Bungling Regulators
Last week the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government could not be held financially responsible for issuing erroneous warnings about the source of an outbreak of foodborne illness that caused the loss of millions of dollars of tomatoes.
The warnings, issued by the FDA in 2008, turned out to be wildly inaccurate and deeply damaging.

The first, issued on June 3, warned consumers in New Mexico and Texas not to consume several types of raw tomatoes because they may be tainted with salmonella, a bacteria that can sicken and kill those who consume it. A few days later, on June 8, the FDA expanded the warning to include similar types of tomatoes across the country.
Soon after, on June 13, the FDA held a press conference that strongly inferred Florida tomatoes might be to blame. ("I'm not wanting to put the focus on Florida specifically, but...") But on July 17, the agency reversed course.
"After a lengthy investigation, the FDA has determined that fresh tomatoes now available in the domestic market are not associated with the current outbreak," reads an agency press release, which concluded instead that consumers "should avoid eating raw jalapeño and raw serrano peppers."
At the time of the first warning, on June 3, the FDA documented several dozen cases of foodborne illness it wrongly claimed were caused from eating tomatoes. By the time the agency admitted its error on July 17, the FDA acknowledged more than 1,200 such cases had occurred. By that time, the salmonella cases had mushroomed into "the largest foodborne outbreak in the United States in more than a decade."
It is not just armies that lay waste the land.

Clearly, the FDA warning hadn't helped consumers, who continued to buy and be sickened by contaminated hot peppers. And it didn't help consumers who stopped buying perfectly good tomatoes at the agency's urging, or who threw away tomatoes they'd already purchased.
But if the FDA's misplaced warning was unhelpful at best and harmful at worst to consumers, 
it was downright devastating to tomato growers and handlers. 
The agency's warnings had spread like wildfire. For example, the New Mexico Restaurant warned its members against using tomatoes. Newspapers around the country warned consumers to avoid eating tomatoes. Demand for tomatoes plummeted by up to 40 percent in the wake of the warning, and prices fell by half. The industry lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Congress held hearings in the wake of the FDA's retraction of its tomato warning. "Shipments ground to a halt," Anthony DiMare, whose family's company suffered enormous losses, told Congress. "Tomatoes were left in the fields, in the packinghouses and on trucks that were turned away by our customers."
You can read the rest yourselves. It shines a light on yet another nest of vipers.... the Courts.

2017 will be a busy year which will see a turn-around in the civil war. It may get a little bloody at times. There will be a lot of tomatoes thrown around.

But let us end by joining the throng in the US Room where I hear singing...

Drink deep.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Rock you: Variations

There are songs which come along on occasion, that seem to take people along where they did not expect to go.  Here is one, or rather short variations on one. 

The origin at the end.

First up, from yesterday, just to lead you in.


 Looks good in lights too.

The ladies work on it.

And who started it all? Freddie. And here with 100,000 or so backing.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Big Ship: Maiden Voyage

Few seem to be aware that little Hobart, a modest city in the southern reaches of Tasmania, has one of the deepest harbours in the world. And, from where I sit looking out over it, one of the most beautiful too. It is one of the most popular cruise ship destinations.

When this spot was first discovered by civilised folk, in fact by one Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, it was written that this was ""the most beautiful and safest harbour in all the world: all the ships of all the fleets can anchor here in safety.""

Just a bit of it.
On its maiden voyage from the UK to China via many nice spots, the 'Ovation of the Seas' called in last week for a day and was back last night for another visit.

It is enormous.

OK, I will be the first to say that Hobart is not a city blighted by skyscrapers. We do have some tallish buildings and it is hilly all around , but ships like that dwarf any large buidings we can boast. It is like having ten hotels arrive at once with a passenger and crew complement that exceeds most Tasmanian towns.

But it is more at home in our waters than where it came from. Built indoors and inland in Germany, it took a bit of getting out to sea.

 Once out of its boathouse it had 33 kilometers of river to navigate before it found salt water.  Getting it there took a lot of patience and tug boats. You might need some to watch the highlights. Patience, that is. Not tug boats.

All the ships of D'Entrecasteaux's day may have been able to get in and out easily but todays leviathans take a bit of care to turn and dock.

This century is already surpassing the age of the Big Liners that was thought to have been back in the 30's. 1930's that is. Even the Titanic would look small beside todays huge floating entertainment hubs. 

When the Ovation and its fellow visiting cruise liners ready themselves for departure, their horns alert the city. As yet we here have not heard the most famous ships horn. One day perhaps.