TEPCO Admits Contaminated Water Leaked Into Fukushima Groundwater “Due To Erroneous Gauges”

In a revelation that, for some, will dredge up memories of TEPCO’s stunning admission back in 2013 that nearly 300 tonnes of radioactive material had leaked from the ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant into the water outside, contaminating virtually the entire Pacific Ocean, officials at the Japanese power company told the Associated Press that contaminated water may have leaked into the soil surrounding the plant after human error caused safety mechanisms to fail.

TEPCO officials said the settings on six of the dozens of wells surrounding the plant’s ruined reactors were accidentally set 70 centimeters below the required levels, briefly causing groundwater at one well to sink below the contaminated water inside in May, possibly allowing radioactive water to leak into the soil.

Fortunately, groundwater samples have shown no abnormal increase in radioactivity and leaks to the outside are unlikely, according to TEPCO spokesman Shinichi Nakakuki.

The problem with the wells – most of which were drilled in April to help pump groundwater, reducing the possibility that it would be exposed to contamination –  was discovered earlier this week while the company was preparing to drill another well. While Tepco maintained several wells around the plant before the disaster, many more have been drilled since to try and stanch the flow of radioactive materials from the plant.

It has been six-and-a-half years since a massive earthquake and tsunami critically damaged the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear-power plant, located about 200 miles away from Tokyo, triggering the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl – and the Japanese people are still uncovering new evidence of TEPCO's dishonesty and incompetence demonstrated during the aftermath of the disaster.

Of course, while the coverup was happening, few in the media dared to entertain suspicions that the company might be acting in bad faith – after all, what serious organization would so brazenly defy the public’s trust, not to mention local laws?

But five years later, those conspiracy theories were transformed into conspiracy facts when TEPCO’s then-President Naomi Hirose admitted last year on NHK that his company intentionally concealed the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima plant immediately after the storm. The power company didn't officially admit the meltdowns until more than 2 months after the accident.

"I would say it was a cover-up," Hirose said during a news conference. "It's extremely regrettable."  

Earlier this year, TEPCO ignited a public controversy after sharing its plans to start pumping radioactive water contaminated with tritium into the Pacific Ocean – a tactic that has met with vociferous opposition from Japan’s fishing industry.

Tepco has claimed that the radioactive water, pumped from inside the three reactors that melted down following the tsunami, would quickly disperse and not pose a threat to marine life. With the cleanup effort expected to take decades (although we imagine that President Shino Abe would like to accomplish as much as possible before the 2020 Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo), TEPCO has this year dispatched robots into the reactors to try and find the damaged nuclear core material, to mixed results.

Back in February, TEPCO revealed that it had discovered a hole at least one square meter in size beneath the pressure vessel in the plant’s damaged No. 2 reactor, potentially exposing the surrounding area to record-high radiation. Back in 2011, radiation levels of 530 Sieverts per hour had been detected inside the reactor (8 Sieverts is enough to kill a human).

These reports should be particularly dismaying for the thousands of Japanese who’ve begun returning to their homes inside the exclusion zone after the Japanese government ended its subsidy payments to disaster victims earlier this year, effectively forcing many of them to choose between financial hardship or living in a home they believe to be unsafe.

Meanwhile, photos taken earlier this year by journalists who traveled inside the Fukushima exclusion zone – a 20 kilometer perimeter around the plant – depicted a “nuclear nightmare” consisting of eerie ghost villages populated by radioactive wild boars…

 

…not exactly the kind of place we’d want to raise our kids.
 

Welcome To The Hunger Games: Trump’s Tax Plan To Unleash Battle Royal Among D.C. Lobbyists

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Are you ready for mass chaos in Washington?

There are lobbyists for just about every cause that you can possibly imagine, and they are always working hard to influence members of Congress on their particular issues.  But when you are talking about a major tax reform bill, that is something that virtually every single lobbyist in the entire city will want to be involved in.  Our tax code is over two million words long, and the regulations are over seven million words long, and any changes to our immensely complex system could have absolutely enormous implications.  There will be winners and there will be losers with any piece of legislation, and lobbyists will zealously fight to defend the turf belonging to their particular clients.  Often lobbyists from different sides will literally be pitted directly against one another, and it won’t be pretty. 

In fact, one analyst that works for Cowen Washington Research Group says that we could soon be watching “the corporate hunger games”

Almost every industry, special interest, and consumer group has an interest in the tax code, especially if the package ends up being as ambitious as Trump and Republican leaders want it to be. Chris Krueger, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, told Business Insider that the battle over which loopholes to keep and which to throw out could get nasty.

 

“Welcome tribunes to the corporate hunger games!” Kruger said in an email.

 

“Only one-sixth of lobbyists were involved with health care (give or take — assuming it is one-sixth of economy). Six-sixths of lobbyists are involved in taxes.”

There is so much at stake, and if the Republicans are able to get something passed it probably won’t look much like the plan that Trump originally proposed.  But it is so important to do something, because today Americans spend more on taxes than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.  That is morally wrong, and we desperately need tax relief.

Trump’s tax plan would nearly double the standard deduction, and that would be a wonderful thing.  It would provide instant tax relief to working class Americans, and that is something that I would greatly applaud.

Trump’s tax plan would also great reduce the tax rate for corporations.  Our big corporations certainly don’t need the help, but we do want to get our rate more in line with the rest of the planet.  Because our corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world, it actually encourages companies to set up shop some place else.  Being more competitive with the rest of the world would likely mean more jobs for the American people.

Trump’s tax plan would also reduce the number of tax brackets for individuals.  Instead of seven, now there would just be three tax brackets of 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent.  To me, those rates are way too high, but of course I would like to eliminate the individual income tax entirely.

Many are criticizing Trump’s plan for proposing to raise at least a trillion dollars over the next decade by getting rid of the deduction for state and local income taxes.  For those that live in very high tax states such as California, that deduction is a really big deal

High-income Californians, for instance, pay as much as 13.3 per cent of their income to the state in addition to their federal taxes. New Yorkers can pay up to 8.82 per cent.

 

Just seven U.S. states have no personal income taxes, including Texas, Florida and Nevada.

Hopefully the Republicans can pass some sort of tax reform in the short-term, because the status quo is definitely not acceptable.

When the income tax was first introduced in 1913, the vast majority of taxpayers were being taxed at a rate of just one percent.  The following comes from Politifact

The 1913 law imposed a tax of 1 percent on income up to $20,000, for both individual and joint filers. However, exemptions from the tax — the first $3,000 of income for individuals and the first $4,000 for joint filers — meant “virtually all middle-class Americans” were excused from paying, according to W. Elliot Brownlee’s book, Federal Taxation in America.

 

The law also put in place a graduated surtax on incomes above $20,000; the highest rate paid, 7 percent, applied to Americans making more than $500,000 (about $11.4 million in 2011 dollars).

Today, Americans are being taxed into oblivion.  It has been reported that we spend more than 6 billion hours a year on our taxes, and I once wrote an article detailing 97 different ways that various levels of government extract revenue from all of us.

Every year government just gets bigger and bigger on the federal, state and local levels.  And the bigger government gets, the more oppressive it tends to become.

Personally, I would love to start starving the beast that the left has created, and a great way to do that would be to completely eliminate the federal income tax.

A lot of people could not even imagine a world without a federal income tax.  But the truth is that our country once thrived under such a system.  In fact, the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was between 1872 and 1913 when there was no income tax at all.

And we could do it again.  Today, the individual income tax only accounts for about 46 percent of all federal revenue, and if we reduced the federal government to a size that our founders would have wanted, we would be more than okay.

But even if we can’t greatly reduce the size of the federal government in the short-term, we can at least go to a very basic flat tax or a fair tax, and both of those systems would be far superior to what we have today.

If we can’t get a flat tax or a fair tax right now, we should at least try to dramatically reduce tax rates and simplify the tax code as much as humanly possible.

But if we do get a short-term victory, the battle is definitely not over.  In the long-term, we need to be very clear that our goal should be to abolish the income tax, the IRS and the Federal Reserve entirely.  Anything short of that is not good enough.

*  *  *

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

A Market In Which “Shocks No Longer Shock”: Deutsche’s Kocic Explains How To Trade It

Back in June, one of Wall Street’s more philosophical derivatives strategists, DB’s Aleksandar Kocic looked at the state of the market and postulated that far from “stable” the existing risk  “equilibrium” is one which can be described as “metastable“, the result of widespread complacency, and which he compared to an avalanche where “a totally innocuous event can trigger a cataclysmic event (e.g. a skier’s scream, or simply continued snowfall until the snow cover is so massive that its own weight triggers an avalanche.” Putting it in his usual post-modernist style, Kocic said that “complacency encourages bad behavior and penalizing dissent – there is a negative carry for not joining the crowd, which further reinforces bad behavior.”

This is the source of the positive feedback that triggers occasional anxiety attacks, which, although episodic, have the potential to create liquidity problems. Complacency arises either when everyone agrees with everyone else or when no one agrees with anyone. In these situations, which capture the two modes of recent market trading, current and the QE period, the markets become calm and volatility selling and carry strategies define the trading landscape. But, calm makes us worry, and persistent worrying causes fear, and fear tends to be reinforcing.

Kocic framed the current state of the market as follows:

 

Unfortunately, the relentless grind ever lower in volatility, which as reported yesterday has resulted in both the lowest average September VIX on record…

 

… as well as the lowest September monthly settlement on record and only the second sub-10 monthly settlement… 

… appears to have finally unsettled Kocic’ expectations, even if ever so tacitly implied, for a spike higher in suppressed vol, and as he writes in his latest ruminations on volatility, “as volatility continues to be unfazed by what lies ahead in the near term, short of surprises in inflation, we are likely to linger at low levels.”

Following up to his note from last week, which explained how the Fed’s fake “transparency” killed long-term investor, Kocic writes that “as transparency became the word of the decade, by its very nature it created the forces that push everything to the surface. Things exist thanks only to the attention they produce. There is no room for ambiguity.” 

Which ties in to the current news cycle, a relentless barrage of flashing red headlines, one scarier than the other, yet which on aggregate have zero adverse impact on volatility, and certainly on risk assets, which on Friday spiked to a new all time high following the latest last-second VIX-smash. Or, as Kocic puts it, “although shocks (political and other) keep arriving in the market, they seem to be appearing at what looks like predictable time intervals (usually, on Fridays). Practically every week, there is a new issue that eclipses the previous one, and we lose interest in past issues, before there is any semblance of resolution.”

And with traders’ attention spans already severely lacking, this habituation to hyperbolic, staccato newsflow means that not only is the market not discounting the future as Matt King postulated several months ago, but it is no longer able to even respond to the present, to wit:

Shocks, if they are predictable, lose their spell and gradually become facts of life. Predictable political shocks feed back into their source. Due to their antagonistic character, they gradually erode the ability to make consensus and reduce the ability to legislate, making further reforms at least questionable, if not highly unlikely. The market “euphoria” (aka the Trump trade) that followed immediately after the elections is being perceived as increasingly remote. Despite all the promises of reflation of the economy, fiscal stimulus, expectation of economic turnaround, no change is on the horizon. We are stuck with the status quo, albeit a noisy one.

So what does this mean for risk assets, and markets? According to the Deutsche analyst, “despite all the distortions and disruptions introduced by the central banks’, which has created a semi-permanent state of exception, markets have not lost one main characteristic, their adaptability. As the markets are getting inoculated against event risk, volatility continues to be under pressure. While we are distancing ourselves from the idea of political change, the Fed is seen, once again, as the main source of volatility. However, the Fed’s position is an uncomfortable one. The main problem it faces is the balance between preventing inflation from becoming a risk while at the same time not causing a rapid and substantial rise of rates. This requires a high level of fine tuning. It means that the Fed has to continue with rate hikes, but the hikes have to be done carefully without triggering the bond unwind.”

The implication for vol traders is that contrary to warnings of market “metastability” and “suppressed cataclysmic vol events”, Kocic – in many ways pulling a Hugh Hendry of his own – comes to the admission that fighting the Fed’s control over vol has become a futile pastime, and even though further complacency is in the cards, “continued vol selling” is encouraged.

… the market gradually, and reluctantly, trails behind the Fed, one hike at a time, and adjusts expectations on the go, without taking a longterm view on the Fed. It is difficult to see how this can lead to any excitement capable of inspiring higher volatility. As long as things evolve according to this scenario, everything shoiuld remain “predictable” with occasional noise that the market has learned to ignore. This is an environment that is bearish for volatility. It fosters further complacency and encourages continued vol selling.

Finally, Kocic takes a “Greek” detour and asks whether in this environment, in which every shock is ignored by a market now programmed to sell vol no matter what, “there is hope for Gamma?” Here is his answer:

In our recent publications, we have extracted one possible measure of liquidity from the volume data of Treasury futures. This measure quantifies sensitivity of the price to changes in trading volume. The liquidity index is expressed as a negative log of this sensitivity, so that large sensitivity corresponds to low liquidity and vice versa. The figure shows the (smoothed) liquidity (on the inverted axis) overlaid with the 3M10Y– low vol goes hand in hand with high liquidity.

 

 

Liquidity has a logical connection with volatility. This starts at the very short end and propagates across the term structure: By making a price, market makers are implicitly short volatility for which they are required to allocate risk capital and the bid/ask spread (which is an indirect measure of liquidity) is the compensation they receive for this risk exposure. All else equal, the ability to hedge an option is a function of liquidity of the underlying, and the option prices should reflect that. From the figure, we note that post 2004, with the disappearance of mortgage negative convexity hedging and the growth of  volume on the exchanges, liquidity has been providing a lower bound for gamma – whenever gamma reached this lower bound, it has been pushed up. Also, the departures from that lower bound have been increasingly rarer and short lived. This holds not only for rates, but for equities as well.

 

As volatility continues to be unphased by what lies ahead in the near term, short of surprise in inflation, we are likely to linger at low levels. In that context, liquidity constraints are going to define the lower bound on gamma.

As a reminder, none of this is new: those who have traded this market (for more than just a few years) instead of merely commenting on it, will recall all those vol traders who lost their jobs in early 2007 when vol crashed so hard, there literally wasn’t a swaptions market. If Kocic is right, vol traders in 2017 (and perhaps 2018) will suffer the same fate. Of course, the 2007 episode is best remembered not for the the vol linked pink slips, but the explosion in VIX shortly thereafter and the resultant near collapse of the US financial system. Despite the Fed’s relentless pressure, trillions in liquidity injections and vol selling, we see nothing that has changed since then, and no reason why this time will be different.

“The Bombs Are Still Falling” – MSNBC Urges Government Censorship Of Social Media “To Protect Democracy”

Authored by Chris Reeves via NewsBusters.org,

On Friday’s Morning Joe, Willie Geist hosted a panel to discuss the latest news on the Russian hacking narrative regarding Facebook ads that were purportedly used by Russian intelligence to stoke "racial tensions" during the 2016 presidential election.

The panel’s primary reaction, with only one dissenting voice, was to call for increased government "regulation" and financial “penalties in the hundreds of millions” to shut down alleged Russian influencers.

The segment started off with Geist introducing the latest reporting on the topic:

GEIST: Twitter says it has shut down more than two-hundred accounts that were tied to the same Russian operatives who bought political ads on Facebook. Of the 450 accounts released by Facebook as part of its investigation, Twitter was able to match 22 of them to its own site. The disclosure by Twitter followed a briefing by company officials to staffers of the Senate and House Intel committees yesterday. Following that meeting, the top Democrat on the Senate committee, Mark Warner, slammed Twitter for its presentation.

 

SEN. MARK WARNER [D-VA]: [playing clip] The presentation that the Twitter team made to the Senate Intel staff today was deeply disappointing. The notion that their work was basically derivative based upon accounts that Facebook had identified showed enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions, and, again, begs many more questions than they offered.

 

(…)

 

GEIST: The top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, also weighed in on Twitter’s briefing to his committee, releasing a statement that read, in part: "… it is clear that Twitter has significant forensic work to do to understand the depth and breadth of Russian activity during the campaign. This additional analysis will require far more robust investigation into how Russian actors used their platform as a part of their active measures campaign…"

Without any perceptible degree of skepticism about the Democratic Congressmen's claims, Geist then teed up Nicolle Wallace, host of the MSNBC afternoon show Deadline: White House, to talk about social media and the 2016 election more generally:

GEIST: You do get the sense, Nicolle, that Facebook, Twitter, social media was totally clueless about what was happening on their sites during the 2016 campaign.

 

WALLACE: It's worse than that […]. The social media companies are sort of like the worst stereotype of a Republican political organization. They're reactive, they’re opaque, they're defensive, they are very slow to understand the value of transparency. They're totally lawyered up, lobbied up. And they are as a culture, the hubris of thinking that they're all about the public good, when if you take a low-tech analogy, it’s basically like someone got mugged in your backyard and their position is: well, it's not our problem, I mean, we just bought the lot on which the house was built, not our problem.

Donny Deutsch chimed in his agreement with Wallace’s analysis, mainly to suggest that perhaps internet news sites and social media sites need government regulation to make sure that what they post or allow up is accurate:

DEUTSCH: [T]here’s a tremendous irony with these guys, because, the tech guys, these young-, are, are the ones who are revolutionizing the world for betterment, yet the irony is, if I wanna take an ad out on NBC or anyplace else for a laundry detergent, the things I have to go through-

 

WALLACE: [interrupting] It has to work, it has to be real, you have to be real. Right!

 

DEUTSCH: [continues talking over Wallace] -[…] to prove that it’s got 5% more blue crystals in it, yet there is no regulati[on]. There is nothing more important for us, for people watching this show over the next ten and twenty years as the regulation of these companies. They control the flow of communication. […] [W]hat's happening here, as far as our power versus what's happening over here [points to his smart phone], multiply it a thousand-fold and there is no regulation.

Ah, so here we see one of the real reasons for wanting to regulate internet-based news content: it’s out-competing (supposedly) respectable news outlets like MSNBC!

After Deutsch floated the idea of government censorship to get the internet under control, Wallace decided to try her hand at stand-up comedy, declaring:

“One difference though is that we have quality controls, we have standards. […] [A]nd they [internet/social media] should be held to the same standards.”

Well, if we all only had to adhere to MSNBC’s standard for truth, that would make our jobs here much easier!

But on a more serious note, Geist subsequently moved the segment forward to allow New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor to summarize her latest findings on “racially divisive Russian ads on Facebook.” Alcindor said:

Facebook admitted to members of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the subcommittee on the House Oversight Committee that there were ads that were targeting Black Lives Matter and targeting, specifically, ethnic groups […] and allowing people to target, not only for Russian influence, but also target housing ads, employment ads.

 

[…]

 

[A] lot of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are fuming because they're saying that Russia actually exploited a lot of the racial divisions that already exist in America and used both Facebook and Twitter […] in this way to essentially make people hate each other more.

So, Alcindor and the Congressional Black Caucus think that decades of the Democratic Party and the far left exploiting racial divisions for political gain was totally normal and fine, but now, they demand aggressive government action to stop it when it is being used by the Russians?

Without addressing this glaringly obvious point, the segment then moved in a much more interesting direction as Geist turned to Noah Rothman, associate editor of Commentary Magazine, for his opinion on the whole Russia matter. Although Rothman acceded to the larger narrative about Russians hacking the DNC and weaponizing social media, he did offer some true background to the current story:

First, you probably have to know that Russian intelligence is going to exploit anything they possibly can to do precisely what she was talking about. This isn't new, this is the Kremlin playbook. They have been exacerbating racial tensions in the United States since there [has been] a Russian intelligence organization. As recently as 2014, you had RT talking about police tyranny and an Afro-Maidan, referring to the Ukrainian revolution that ousted the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. This is what Russia does. So if you're a media institution and you know that Moscow is going to target your audience, you have to be proactive and aware of that. And, as you say, you have, you had gatekeepers in most institutions. Institutions that are not, you know, aware that they're going to be targeted are the most irresponsible, I would say. But I'm not sure that regulation is something that you can even entertain. This is about responsibility.

Rothman’s point about past Soviet infiltration of the United States was correct, if lacking somewhat in details. Rothman would have done well to point out, in contrast to his characterization of Russian government-owned or funded media, that they actually frequently take stances in support of left-wing causes if those causes serve to diminish America’s international moral authority, particularly as regards anti-war narratives or movements like Black Lives Matter.

It was also refreshing to see someone push back against Wallace and Deutsch’s calls for government censorship and control over the Internet, but that didn’t last. Mark Halperin ultimately decided to make the most straightforward case for the federal government to crack down on "Russian operatives" and fake news with the support of both Wallace and Deutsch:

HALPERIN: [T]here’s some interesting intellectual debates to be had around all this stuff to be sure. But these companies are American companies making a lot of money, dominating our lives, hiding behind a lot of intellectual arguments. And, as the Congressional members of both parties are saying publicly and privately, they are using lobbyists and PR executives and their own platforms to try to limit the disclosure that they make to be accountable. American democracy is under siege and they are hiding behind intellectual arguments.

 

[Deutsch tries to speak at same time as Wallace, then stops]

 

WALLACE: And it's ongoing. I mean, they were involved, some of these Russian-linked Twitter accounts were involved last weekend in helping to sow-

 

EDDIE GLAUDE JR.: [interjecting] Exactly.

 

GEIST: [mumbles agreement] Right.

 

WALLACE: -hatred around the debate about the NFL. This isn’t, we're not at a forensic stage where we're gonna look back at what they did in 2016, we're not even there yet. This is still-

 

HALPERIN: [interrupting] The bombs are still falling.

 

WALLACE: Right.

 

ROTHMAN: [tries to speak, hard to hear] Wait, to what extent is there even a recourse?

 

DEUTSCH: [interrupting] By the way, we can regulate, I’m gonna give you, we can regulate, we can regulate this. We start-, instead of the FCC, it’s the FDC. The Federal Digital Communications company. And there is a body, a governing body there, regulatory body, that when something like this happens, the, the economic consequence, the penalties in the hundreds of millions, you hit ‘em in the pocketbook, they'll figure it out.

There are a lot of amazing comments here, particularly from Halperin and Deutsch.

It’s not completely clear what Deutsch means by using a "FDC" "regulatory body" to financially cripple people (or who precisely those people/organizations would be, although based on his following comments it might be Facebook and Twitter that would suffer fines in his mind). However, Halperin’s characterization of protecting people’s right to freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment, as “hiding behind intellectual arguments” was most chilling.

Thankfully, Rothman stepped in to voice some cogent defense of arguably this country’s most important founding principle: “I suppose there's any number of ways in which the federal government could target an institution that is a media institution that provides a platform for the exercise of the First Amendment. What is the limiting principle there? At what point are we targeting speech that we simply don't like?”

After a brief pause and Deutsch simply interjecting “um,” Wallace tried her Ministry of Truth argument out again:

WALLACE: Well you can't yell […] fire in a movie theater if it's not true. I mean-

 

ROTHMAN: [interrupting] You can if it's on fire.

 

WALLACE: Well, I think the point on Twitter is that some of these things are not true, and-

 

ROTHMAN: [interrupting] That’s, incitement to violence is one thing-

 

WALLACE: -Twitter, Twitter and Facebook have done nothing. I mean money,-

 

ROTHMAN: -and it’s extremely difficult to prove incitement to violence.

 

WALLACE: -mon-, money has a seal to, so that we know when a dollar is real, when a dollar is counterfeit. There are groups that are trying to get the social media companies to have some sort of water seal or to verify the content, the veracity of it.

It was fun to see Rothman trying, ever so subtly, to point out the basic problem with Wallace’s argument, namely: who determines what is and is not true?

But then Halperin, skirting by having to address Rothman’s concerns, decided to seal the deal and make his position extremely clear: “[T]he government shouldn't be the recourse at first, it should be the boards of these companies.” That is, if Facebook and Twitter don’t start censoring in the right way or to the right extent, then Big Brother should do it himself.

It’s nice to know that the media’s support for the free speech rights of NFL football players extends to all of us rubes too!

The panel closed out the lengthy segment by chuckling at the prospect of quick action to "figure out" this "problem" and never addressed the more fundamental question about whether or not what they were proposing was anathema to the U.S. Constitution, either in law or spirit.

We strongly suggest putting down all sharp objects before watching the following…