Watching awards shows on television is as big a treat as having a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Well, actually, it’s worse. I’ve never had a colonoscopy that lasted three hours.

It doesn’t matter if the host is affable and funny — Billy Crystal and Johnny Carson come to mind — or amazingly irritating like David Letterman. The shows are overstuffed extravaganzas that drain your body and rot your brain.

With an attitude like that, I couldn’t wait to skip Sunday’s Emmy Awards broadcast. I couldn’t stand watching three minutes of Stephen Colbert’s past and present TV shows. Why in God’s name would I want to spend three hours with him and the croaking chorus  of Trump haters sharing the stage?

Apparently you and many others felt the same, sending the Emmy ratings to new depths. It’s good to know so many good folks have the good sense to avoid political poison masquerading as entertainment (and so few conservatives are masochists).

Meanwhile, the entertainment establishment, pink to its left-wing core, is studying birds’ flight patterns and reading beasts’ entrails to discern why viewers of its awards programs are vanishing. You don’t have to be a seer to figure out that your numbers will be weak if you don’t mind driving away half your audience. But the movers, shakers and moguls of Hollywood don’t know anybody who doesn’t think about politics as they do, so they’re simply stumped.

Just as fan disgust with Colin Kaepernick isn’t the only reason why ratings have plummeted for NFL broadcasts, partisanship isn’t the only cause for the decline in interest for the Emmys and Oscars.

Thirty years ago, cable TV was a relatively small operation, so most Americans were still stuck with the three major networks: ABC, CBS and NBC. Even poorly rated shows had a dozen million viewers. The series finale for CBS’ MASH was seen by nearly 106 million people in 1983; that audience record stood until 106.5 million viewers watched New Orleans beat Indianapolis in the 2010 Superbowl.

Cable has grown like a monster since 1983 and created a bigger stir in recent years by offering original programming. Many new shows are low-budget reality programs, but some basic cable channels — FX, USA, AMC and SyFy — offer top-notch stuff that was once the purview of HBO and Showtime.

Of course, Netflix was a huge game changer when it threw big money into new programming and brought instant relevance to streaming video.

And therein lies a big problem for the Emmys — they’re elitist. Only a handful of this year’s nominees represented broadcast TV, and even fewer of them took home awards. The big winner, as usual lately, was HBO.

Just as people in showbiz don’t know anyone who supported Donald Trump, they don’t know anybody who doesn’t have cable TV. More importantly, they don’t know anybody who doesn’t have HBO or Netflix, where they presume the best stuff appears. As of the end of 2016, HBO only had about 49 million subscribers, and Lord knows how many of those are hotels, motels and other businesses.

As a result, a good portion of the American public has no skin in the Emmy game since the awards revolve around programs they don’t even have the ability to watch. I guess the entertainment bigwigs have written them off as deplorables.

Then, too, there’s more than one aspect of elitism in terms of the type of shows the nominators enjoy. I watch more than my share of TV, and I’m the kind of guy who won’t abide stupidity on my flat screen. Yet only a couple of my favorites — Better Call Saul, The Americans, Stranger Things — even had an Emmy nomination. Instead, the voters exhumed the long-dead corpse of Saturday Night Live and showered it with glory.

The same thing goes for the Oscars. But that’s another story.

It’s an old story, but it just doesn’t seem to go away: the federal government seems determined to interfere in almost every aspect of life and business in our country, whether it be new rules on autonomous cars or who needs to be paid for overtime.

In this last respect, though, there is some good news. Earlier this month, a judge in Texas struck down an Obama-era rule that would hugely increase the number of people who would need to be paid for overtime. The rule was opposed from it’s conception by the US Chamber of Commerce, but was pushed through by an administration seemingly determined to put many small companies out of business.

Taking a look at the proposed rule, and the reasons why it was struck down, is a good lesson in the limits of federal power. It also suggests that the over-reach of the Obama administration is reducing, which gives us reason for hope: it seems that, under Trump, the power and size of the government will once again come under scrutiny.

The Proposed Rule

The overtime rule began in the closing period of the Obama administration. In summer 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) finalized the proposal. The idea was simple enough: from December 1, 2016, more people would have to be paid overtime. Specifically, the rule revised the Executive, Administrative, and Professional exemptions (EAP) on overtime payments.

Those employees covered under the EAP exemptions are currently not eligible for overtime if their base salary is above a certain level. Until 2016, this amount was $455 per week, or $23,660 per year. The new rule proposed a huge change to this threshold, raising it to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year.

This, as you will notice, is a huge increase. Yet the rule went even further, calling for automatic, inflation-linked updates to salary levels every three years. As even NPR has pointed out, these proposals would have made an estimated 4.2 million people eligible for overtime payments.

Now, I’m all for people being paid a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, but this rule simply went too far. For many businesses still recovering from the 2008 crash, and only now starting to take on more employees, paying more of their staff more for their overtime is simply not an option. The alternative, which would be to limit employee’s hours to 40 per week, is also unworkable for many small companies.

In many small companies, employees willingly work overtime, because they are invested in the future of “their” company and want to see it flourish. If they feel they are owed overtime, they are free to negotiate this with their employer. Putting a federal rule in place to govern these relationships is not only heavy-handed, it also stifles the kind of creativity that we desperately need at the moment.

A Temporary Reprieve

Though all of these points were raised by opponents of the rule before it was passed, the Department of Labor (DOL) went ahead and passed it anyway. Looking at the briefing documents from that time, the rule seems to have been included in a widespread “pushing-through” of legislation in the closing year of the last administration. Some in the DOL, and other government departments, felt that 2016 was there last chance to pass “liberal” amendments to certain key pieces of legislation, and in the rush many of these were nothing more than a poorly drafted argumentative essay.

Though the change in administration was the reason why the rule was pushed through so quickly, it was also to be its downfall. In practice, everybody knew that it would not come into effect without a legal challenge, and therefore not until after a new president was elected.

It was in this context that a temporary halt was put on the rule. Business groups won a temporary injunction from a US District Court in Texas, and this essentially put its implementation on hold until it had wound its way through litigation in the Eastern District of Texas and the Fifth Circuit of Appeals. As a result, for more than a year groups representing both businesses and employees have been awaiting a decision on whether the rule would ever come into effect. With the recent judgement, that wait is finally over.

The New Ruling

On Thursday 31 August, Judge Amos Mazzant gave his judgement, and issued an order invalidating the proposed rule. This is certainly a victory for those opposing the rule, but it is also worth looking at the fine detail of the ruling, because this gives renewed hope that the interference of the Obama administration is slowly coming to an end.

Please bear with me here, because the ruling is quite complex, but I will try to explain in terms that everyone can understand!

The injunction first clarified some of the confusion created by the court’s earlier injunction. Some had felt that the granting of the original injunction was on the basis that the DOL had overstepped its power in trying to implement any minimum salary requirement. This issue is still live, being part of the appeal against the original injunction.

The new ruling grants that Fifth Circuit precedent provides the DOL with the power to “define and delimit” such requirements “from time to time”. However, it also stated that in this particular case, the salary level proposed was simply too high. It was felt that the original spirit of the EAP exemptions was to exclude employees who are not eligible for overtime because of their duties, and not merely their salary. The court held that, in the original legislation, the salary cap had merely been a proxy to screen out some employees, making an exhaustive analysis of their duties unnecessary.

Therefore, in trying to raise the salary cap to make more people eligible for overtime, the court felt that the DOL were actually exploiting loopholes in the original legislation. I am inclined to agree, and think that the application of common sense in this matter is as welcome as it is unusual.

The second part of the ruling went further. One of the issues up for debate was whether the rule was entitled to “Chevron Deference”. Though a phenomenally complex ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court in Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), essentially ruled that any federal rule that “fails to carry out Congress’s unambiguous intent” is invalid.

In this particular case, the law was found to not uphold Congress’s intent. This was because, as I’ve already mentioned, the salary limits in the original legislation were designed to exclude those employees who are performing “professional” roles already, are therefore paid enough already, and should therefore not receive overtime. In this sense, the salary limits were intended just as a way of excluding those already holding decent jobs that involved particular duties.

The ruling held that, therefore, Congress’s intent in imposing the original salary cap had been to exclude those employees who did certain jobs, and not those who earned a particular salary. The salary threshold, in short, was just a convenient way of measuring how “professional” a job was. The Texas court, rightfully in my view, held that increasing the salary threshold went against Congress’s intent.

A Victory, For Now

Phew. If you’ve kept up with me so far, you can hopefully see what I’m driving at. The fact that the Trump-era DOL has signalled it will not appeal this ruling is very welcome. Though a few appeals are still crawling through appeal courts, it seems likely that the salary cap will stay where it is for now.

This is a victory for business, who were deeply worried about the effect of a raised cap on their profits. It is a victory for common sense, in that the Court has recognized that what the DOL were trying to do was essentially against the wishes of Congress. And in this last regard, it also a victory for our constitution.

The salary cap for the EAP exemption was only ever meant as a proxy measure of how “professional” a job was, and not as an absolute measure of who deserved overtime. This was clearly Congress’s intent in imposing it in the first place, and what the DOL tried to do amounts to “hacking” the law to achieve their own ends. We should all be glad that this has finally been recognized.

That said, the story is not over. NPR reported that officials in the DOL are already drafting a new rule that will have a similar effect. Any new rule will have to be an almost complete re-writing of the original, given the wide-ranging nature of the court’s injunction against it. Nevertheless, we should continue to be on our guard against the DOL and other departments seeking to use supposedly legitimate means to unlawfully extend their power.

About the author

Sam Bocetta is a retired defense contractor for the U.S. Navy, specializing in electronic warfare and advanced computer systems. He now teaches at Algonquin Community College in Ottawa, Canada as a part time engineering professor and is the ASEAN affairs correspondent for Gun News Daily.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I read Tim Imholt’s post a few days ago on this blog with great interest.  I’ve done more than my fair share of “monument blogging” to the point that I’m wary of ever writing about another monument in my life, but it is a cause I think is important.

Tim makes a great point and one I appreciate; the media wants us to be freaked out about this.  They want controversy, they want protests, they want huge crowds of protesters with signs and firearms.  Drama sells.

I watched the “protests” in Dallas, too.  It made me sad to see the statue removed. I didn’t know the Robert E. Lee replica house was back there and that makes me feel a little better.

In Shreveport, I have been a little anxious as we have a “rally” coming up in a week or so.  There’s been a “call out” on social media for attendance (on both sides) at a rally around our Confederate monument.

Our case is a little different that those we are seeing nationwide.  Shreveport’s monument is on private land that just so happens to be in front of the courthouse.  The land was given to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1903 along with a $1,000 donation for the monument, and all this is recorded in the minute books of the governing body at the time, the Police Jury.  Our monument was commissioned in 1905 and dedicated in 1906.

So removing it is a bit more of a problem for opponents than in other cities.   The issue is now in the courts.

As far as the protests though, everyone saw what happened in New Orleans.  The problem there is that many locals didn’t want the monuments there removed.  Poll after poll proved that; of course a few did, but most did not.  The protests we saw on television and social media were driven by outside agitators.   One lady came from Oklahoma, dressed in Confederate garb and carrying a battle flag; as much as I admire her dedication and spirit, she was not from NOLA.  Another woman was from Florida and a man from Oklahoma.  These people brought protesters out in force because of their high-profile social media status and then comes the media.

What happens then is that perception is distorted.  In truth, on a local level, these monuments have stood with dignity and peace for over a hundred years in many cases. This sudden outrage is questionable.  The local people, as we saw in Dallas, aren’t outraged.  These monuments are part of their landscape and most people don’t even know what they are or who they represent, it’s just “a guy on a horse.”

A while back, an attorney in Shreveport appealed his convicted client’s case because the attorney said the monument interfered with the man’s right to a fair trial.  (He lost the appeal).

Shame on the media for perpetuating this nonsense. Let the locals decide what they want to do with their monuments and stop encouraging the frenzy.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Henry Gondorff: If they put you on the spot, we have to fold the con

The Sting 1973

We have seen plenty of posts concerning Hillary Clinton book tour like this:

On September 18, Hillary Clinton will kick off the book tour for What Happened, her memoir about the 2016 presidential election, in Washington, D.C. The crowd at the Warner Theatre will, no doubt, be filled with many representatives of Pantsuit Nation and other pro-Clinton factions of the Democratic Party. But, as Politico found out by talking to Democratic lawmakers and other Clinton allies, there will be plenty members of the minority party staying home on the 18th, preferring to stick toothpicks in their eyes than relive the nightmare of the 2016 elections.

“There is a collective groan whenever there’s another news cycle about this,” said California Democratic representative Jared Huffman, who added that Clinton’s tour comes at “maybe at the worst possible time.” It’s not just the distraction the book will provide from a party fighting for issues such as DACA, Huffman said, but the party fissures that could be reopened by Clinton’s critiques.

But there is one aspect of the tour that everyone is missing.

Historically a book has been a great way for people or organization to give big money to a connected person. After all if an author gets say $2 for the sale of a book then a business can buy 10,000, 20,000 or even 100,000 copies of their book and viola you have just given twice that figure to said connected person without showing up as a donor.

Furthermore not only are said books a tax write-off for said company but if you give those books away to a charity, any charity, suddenly you have a charitable deduction as well.

After all why do you think book publishers give large advances to pols books that generally end up in the dollar bin at stores across the nation?

However this time there is something different.

Hillary Clinton is no longer considered a good investment for foreign governments, large corporations or donors anxious to buy favor. With no influence to sell and even less potential to regain any , dollars given to her are simply thrown away.

However there is one group that thanks to media hysteria is still invested in Hillary, Democrat voters still in denial over the last election.

There are millions of people still on meds in blue states, on college campuses and in trendy neighborhoods who are not only still in mourning but are “still in therapy over Hillary’s loss”. To them Hillary Clinton is a symbol of the paradise that was, in their minds “stolen” in a Russian conspiracy and her very presence will be cathartic.

Now under normal circumstance this would not be the case, but thanks to the media’s own obsessive behavior, people who would normally have gotten on with their lives are still in a state of shock and dismay in need of a release.

When it came to running a campaign or the state department Hillary Clinton might have been 2nd rate but let it never be said that any member of the Clinton clan didn’t recognize a bunch of suckers (perhaps millions of them)  with cash ready to be parted from them when they saw one.

Thus we see stories like this:

Hillary Clinton Coming to Connecticut for 2 Book Signings

Hillary Clinton shows up late as fans turn out in hundreds for NYC book signing

Hillary Clinton to hold book signing in Buffalo

With more to come Portland, Boston, Seattle, Milwaukee, Atlanta

Time is of the essence, there is no way of when reality will compel these folks from abandoning their self-pity and delusion and get back to living their lives so Hillary has to strike while the potential to make from two to five bucks a head is still there. Sure it’s not the easy money she is used to but it’s the only influence she has left to sell.

So now we will be treated to something extraordinary. Hillary Clinton dealing with these suckers plebes all over the country, cracking a smile, signing her name and even risking the odd conservative in line asking a question about Benghazi or email servers or Bill’s Bimbos as she travels the country hawking books to make a buck and perhaps dreaming that it will turn into a groundswell to have one more go at the White House.

But if you are a voter of the left excited to get close to Hillary to give yourself closure remember this:

As it’s very unlikely that anyone is out to buy 10,000 or 100,000 copies of my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer (although if someone wants to do so fee free) the best way for you to let us know that our reporting, our writers and the growing collection of short youtube interviews, are worthy of support we do is here is of value please hit DaTipJar Below

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