Georgia Didn’t Offer Amazon the Moon…But Pretty Close

Now that Amazon has made its decision for its second headquarters – dividing space between New York City and Northern Virginia, along with an operations center near Nashville – it’s interesting to see how much the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia were willing to offer up to lure the tech giant in.

Of course, we know that Georgia was so eager to whore itself out to the online shopping giant that conservatives lost opportunities at religious freedom legislation, but the state and its capital city were so smitten with “Amazon Love” (as a web page dedicated to the effort, complete with a header graphic highlighting Atlanta’s Pride Festival, describes it) that they made some pretty skanky offers.

The plans to show enough leg to lure Amazon were made public earlier this week, and what Georgia, Atlanta, and others were prepared to offer will blow your mind. For starters, the City of Atlanta was prepared to pony up $87 million in tax credits and $2.2 billion in infrastructure investments. The state was ready to throw over $2 billion in tax incentives, credits, and direct investment into the project, which would have taken place at one of over 60 locations in the northern half of the state.

One of the more interesting incentives on the table – without a price tag – was an Amazon-centered educational initiative. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein reports:

One of the components would have been an on-site “Amazon Georgia Academy” operated with the help of the University System of Georgia and the state tech college system. The price tag was listed as “incalculable/TBD” by state officials.

It would have offered a 24-week boot camp program for staffers, undergraduate and post-graduate coursework, and state-sponsored recruiters to help fill the company’s jobs. The state would pay to build the academy and pick up the first five years of operating costs – including salaries of professors and recruiters.

It gets even more gross. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was prepared to build an exclusive lounge and offer 50 special parking spaces for Amazon, and MARTA, Atlanta’s transit authority, discussed a special train car just for Amazon. The city batted around the idea of naming streets after Amazon products – names like “Alexa Way” and “Prime Place.”

All this, along with denying people of faith a religious freedom law – you know, something similar to what Virginia and Tennessee already have – and Georgia couldn’t lure Amazon. I shudder to think what New York and Virginia offered them.

Rubio Calls Out Democrat Vote Tactics in Florida

Another election year brings another vote count controversy in Florida. Democrats are trying to wring every vote they can from every corner and eke out a win by changing the rules in the middle of the game (sound familiar, Georgia?).

GOP Senator Marco Rubio is calling out these tactics with an apt metaphor from the world of sports.

Rubio has a point. These legal challenges happening in Florida – and other states – are like referees enacting rule changes in the middle of a football game to give an advantage to one team over the other.

He goes on:

Ever since the 2000 presidential election, the Democrats have made their primary strategy out of something like, “if we don’t win, we’ll pitch a fit and try to change the rules to benefit us.” We saw it with Al Gore and then with Al Franken. Now we’re seeing it with Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia.

These tactics are underhanded (even though they’re happening out in the open) and are intended to result in a win for the Democrats. We wouldn’t tolerate mid-game rule changes in the NFL or the SEC, so why should we allow them to happen in the fights that really matter?

The Democrats are dragging out the certification of a legal election in order to scramble to find more votes. We’ve let them get away with these shenanigans for nearly two decades now. It’s time that it stops. The GOP and others who truly believe in justice and fairness need to stand up and demand that the lawyering comes to an end and that the Democrats accept the results of the elections.

Scientology & The President: Leah Remini May Have a Surprising New Ally

One of the most fascinating documentary series to hit television in a long time is Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. The Emmy-winning show, which just wrapped up its second season, has done a tremendous job exposing the heartbreaking abuses at the hands of the church, as well as the great lengths Scientology has gone to cover them up.

The response to the series has been incredible, and the movement to strip the church (which is better labeled a cult) of its tax-exempt status is growing. Apparently, that movement includes someone with a sizeable bully pulpit: President Donald Trump.

The Hill reports:

Twitter messages from a Trump family friend and top official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) claimed that Trump and his family “couldn’t agree more” that the church should lose its tax-exempt status.

“From The moment I saw your series I told President Trump & his family we needed to revoke their tax exempt status. They couldn’t agree more, but please don’t publicize that yet,” Lynne Patton wrote to actress Leah Remini in the messages obtained by HuffPost. “This is going to get done in the next 4 years or I’ll die trying. Knock on wood!”

Patton has been an associate of the Trump family since 2009, and she has promised to do research into stripping Scientology of its status as a church.

“I look forward to doing my part to help put an end to this ongoing nightmare and blatant misuse of our IRS rules & regulations,” Patton wrote to Remini. “I want to do more research on Scientology’s history with the IRS, to date, so that I can better understand what tactics have been applied and where we can pick up.”

But there’s a problem. Experts say that administration influence may be illegal.

“For the White House or any administration official to try and influence who the IRS targets, for whatever reason, is wrong and could result in a violation of the law,” said former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission Larry Noble. “The IRS must make these decisions independently without any influence by the White House or administration officials.”

That could very well be true. But then again, you can find somebody who’s going to go on record saying that most anything Trump says or does violates some law.

Scientology is a dangerous cult that abuses children, breaks up families, extorts money from its followers, and in some cases has forced women to abort their babies. I’m immensely proud of Leah Remini, her co-host Mike Rinder, and the dozens of former Scientologists who have come forward to expose their former faith for the fraud that it is.

I welcome Trump’s support in the fight to expose Scientology for what it truly is. It must be stopped, and if it takes the influence of the President of the United States, so be it.

Joe Biden Reveals His Fear of the Clinton Machine…And His Presidential Regret

In his new memoir, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, which drops next week, former Vice President Joe Biden has made some interesting revelations. The Daily Mail reports that America’s Crazy Uncle chose not to run for president in 2016 because he feared the vast Clinton machinery.

Biden reveals how he wrestled with the idea of running for office before and after his son Beau’s death, and even admits he did not want to be Obama’s vice president in 2008…

Clinton was the only opposition to him – and what he does not say in the book is what ‘stop at nothing’ would mean.

But at the time his bereaved family was being torn apart by his surviving son Hunter’s bitter split from his wife amid accusations of blowing a fortune on drugs and sex with prostitutes.

Biden believed that the difficulty of his family life at the time would have provided plenty of fodder for Clinton and those in her orbit to go after him. (It’s not much less of a soap opera now: Hunter Biden is now in a relationship with Beau’s widow.)

Biden still holds that he could have beaten Trump had he become the Democrat’s nominee.

‘My numbers on trustworthiness, honesty, and empathy were as high as they had ever been. And I was strongest where the most formidable candidate, Hillary Clinton, was weakest: the key swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida,’ he writes.

The former VP is making the talk show circuit, including interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.

‘I have a regret that I am not president,’ Biden candidly told Oprah, for an interview with OWN, which airs Sunday. ‘Because I think there’s so much opportunity. I think America’s so incredibly well-positioned.’

On Ellen, the comedian pleaded with the ex-vice president to run for the presidency in 2020.

‘Just remember, that is what I’d like to see,’ Ellen said. ‘I don’t know if it’s going to be myself or Oprah as your running mate,’ she said, grabbing his hand.

Ellen can keep ruminating on what could be – and Biden can keep speculating on what might have been. But just remember: we may be saved by the fact that Biden will be 77 in the run up to the 2020 election, so we may not have to see his hair plugs and shiny veneers on the campaign trail next go ’round. And that’s a good thing.

Disney Shuts LA Times out of Coverage of its Latest Blockbuster

Thor: Ragnarok is the latest Disney blockbuster, shattering records in its opening weekend and getting impressive reviews. But you’d never know much about it from the pages of the Los Angeles Times. The reason? Disney has engaged in a blackout of the Times over its coverage of the company’s relationship with the City of Anaheim.

Deadline reports:

The notoriously sensitive media giant cut off the Times‘ access in response to the newspaper’s coverage of Disney’s business ties with the city of Anaheim. The article published this fall examined the public policy debate around whether Disney, which has received subsidies, incentives, rebates and protections from future taxes on its Disneyland theme park, is paying its fair share.

Shortly after the article appeared, Disney stopped returning reporters’ calls.

The Times went public with the dispute — the latest expression of long-running tensions between the media company and the newspaper, which covers Disney closely and critically as one the region’s biggest employers — its Calendar section today. The newspaper published a statement explaining to readers why the section was devoid of a review for the much-anticipated Marvel superhero tentpole Thor: Ragnarok, which opens to wide release today and likely will surpass $100 million at the box office in its opening weekend.

“Walt Disney Co. studios declined to screen the movie for The Times’ critics, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with the city of Anaheim,” the statement read. “The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public. Justin Chang’s review of “Thor: Ragnarok” will appear in Saturday’s paper.”

Disney has had a long history of cultivating unusual relationships with localities in order to be able to do business its own way. Since Disneyland was in its developing stages in the early 50s, Walt and Roy Disney worked out special tax incentives with Anaheim, and the company spent half a decade working with Orange and Osceola Counties in Florida in the run up to the opening of Walt Disney World (which I talk about in detail in my book Football, Faith, and Flannery O’Connor: A Love Letter to the South.)

Now the LA Times is questioning whether Disney is “paying its fair share.” Typical liberal move, isn’t it? It’s easy to see why Disney is mad – for all the complaint about left-leaning content coming from Disney, they’re pretty conservative when it comes to business – but it’s fascinating that they would choose to play hardball in such a way.

The move may backfire for Disney, as the New York Times is threatening to boycott Disney screenings until the company restores press access to the LA Times. Other media outlets could follow suit.

The whole tiff comes down to the fact that Disney is a big enough company to try to bully a media outlet, but the media could gang up enough to hit back pretty hard. And Disney doesn’t want that.

Prince William Lectures the World on Population Control

I’ve always considered myself an Anglophile. Most of my heritage is from the UK – specifically Scotland and Wales – and I’ve held a soft spot in my heart for most things British. With that said, I think my love of the British monarchy just might end with Queen Elizabeth II.

Prince Charles has poisoned the well with his antics with Camilla Parker-Bowles, not to mention some ridiculous comments on politics and religion he has made over the years. And now his oldest son, Prince William, has gone left-leaning busybody and is now telling everyone that there are too many people in the world.

The Duke of Cambridge made his remarks at a gala for the Tusk Trust, a wildlife charity he sponsors in Great Britain. The Telegraph reports:

“In my lifetime, we have seen global wildlife populations decline by over half,” he said.

“We are going to have to work much harder, and think much deeper, if we are to ensure that human beings and the other species of animal with which we share this planet can continue to co-exist.

“Africa’s rapidly growing human population is predicted to more than double by 2050 – a staggering increase of three and a half million people per month.

“There is no question that this increase puts wildlife and habitat under enormous pressure.

“Urbanisation, infrastructure development, cultivation – all good things in themselves, but they will have a terrible impact unless we begin to plan and to take measures now.”

Of course, he promises a “catastrophic effect” on the environment and wildlife populations if we don’t act now. How? The article does not say whether Prince William offered practical solutions to this problem, which sounds like the typical sky-is-falling hysteria we continue to hear from the left all over the world.

I also find it pretty brash that someone who lives in a bubble of complete xxx, who has anything he could ever want handed to him, thinks he knows better than anyone else how to live their lives. We’re talking about a man who has a ridiculously beautiful wife and a growing brood of picture-perfect children, who will one day inherit a vast empire solely based upon heredity. It’s easy for him to talk about sacrifice.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Let’s take a look at some of the comments on the article in the Telegraph.

Wow.  He is preaching too many people in this world yet he just brought 2 more people who will NEVER have to work a day in their lives into this world?  Do as I say not as I do, I guess.

Those who have a load of money and those on benefits have a load of kids.  Sorry. Prince William fits both these categories.

What nerve he has!  He lives in palaces, has as many kids as he wants but still feels free to lecture others about having kids!  How about practicing what you preach.  Or how about letting other people make their own choices.  What a prig.

Sad…I had hoped he would not follow in his crackpot fathers delusions, but, alas I was wrong. William is now part of the problem, not the solution 🙁

So remember, folks: you’re having too many kids and should stop. But don’t worry about Prince William. He’ll just be across the pond in his palace telling everyone how he thinks they should live their lives.

Emmy-Winning Actor Shares a Refreshing View on Politics

Hollywood has made no secret about its political views – plenty of people in show business have telegraphed the view that they would like to see the Trump presidency become a dismal failure. One Emmy-winning actor has made his views on the Trump administration known, and they’re pretty refreshing.

Bryan Cranston won four Emmys for his work on Breaking Bad, and he made a name for himself as a comic actor on shows like Seinfeld and Malcolm in the Middle. Cranston is no conservative; in fact, he was outspoken against Donald Trump throughout the campaign. But he recently did an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in which he admitted that he cannot bring himself to root for Trump’s failure.

President Trump is not the person who I wanted to be in that office, and I’ve been very open about that. That being said, he is the president. If he fails, the country is in jeopardy. It would be egotistical for anyone to say, “I hope he fails.” To that person I would say, f*** you. Why would you want that? So you can be right?

I don’t want him to fail. I want him to succeed. I do. I honestly do. … And if you’ve got a good idea that helps the country, oh man, I’m gonna support you. I don’t care if you’re a Republican and I’m a Democrat or whatever, I don’t care. A good idea’s a good idea. Let’s do that. We’ve got to get away from this idea that our country is political football, and someone with a different opinion is the enemy. Assume they love this country as much as you do, and there’s always room for improvement. How can we make it better?

In the interview, Cranston discussed his role in the new film Last Flag Flying and expressed the opinion that an American can be anti-war yet support the troops. It’s nice to see a liberal actor take a political view that doesn’t immediately dismiss the other side. That sort of attitude is sorely lacking on both the left and the right these days.

Who Called a British Newspaper Minutes Before JFK Was Assassinated?

Nothing conjures up more conspiracy talk than the Kennedy assassination. Regardless of what the endless investigations have concluded, you can poll a hundred people and get a hundred different opinions on what happened.

Now that the Trump administration has released tons of files on the assassination, one document in particular is garnering more than its share of attention. An FBI memo declares that an anonymous caller informed the Cambridge News in the United Kingdom that big news was coming from the United States a full 25 minutes before the assassination took place.

A tipster called a Cambridge News reporter at 6:05 p.m. local time – 12:05 in Dallas – and told him to “call the American Embassy in London for some big news” before hanging up. The assassination occurred at 12:30 p.m. Dallas time.

Here are some excerpts from the transcript of the memo:

The British Security Service (MI-5) has reported that at 1805 GMY on 22 November an anonymous telephone call was made in Cambridge, England, to the senior reporter of the Cambridge News. The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London for some big news and then hung up.

After the word of the President’s death was received the reporter informed the Cambridge police of the anonymous call and the police informed MI-5. The important point is that the call was made, according to MI-5 calculations, about 25 minutes before the President was shot. The Cambridge reporter had never received a call of this kind before and MI-5 state that he is known to them as a sound and loyal person with no security record.

MI-5 noted that similar anonymous phone calls of a strangely coincidental nature have been received by persons in the U.K. over the past year…

Crazy, isn’t it? But what could it mean? Who would have known what was going on, and who would have called a British newspaper less than half an hour before the shooting took place?

Honestly, I don’t think it means anything. The memo references other coincidental anonymous calls to British nationals around the same time, so the call most likely had fortuitous timing. Other documents suggest that Lee Harvey Oswald had spoken with a KGB assassin shortly before the Kennedy assassination, so it’s possible that other Communists knew what Oswald had planned. But I think that the memo doesn’t suggest anything of substance.

Everything I’ve seen, read, and heard points to the conclusion that Oswald acted alone in killing John F. Kennedy, and even with the mystery and weirdness surrounding documents like this one, I don’t think there’s anything in the release that will prove otherwise.