Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Now Climate Change Means Floods

I do not argue against the point being made that the planet is gaining in heat content, nor that it is in part being caused by human activity. I am, however, getting tired of the hyperbolic predictions as to what that means for the future; predictions which are almost certainly wrong and are made primarily for political reasons.

I remember not too many years ago when it was predicted that when the population of Earth reached seven billion there would be mass starvation and world wars over the availability of food and water resources. That population level has been met and exceeded and, while the US is fomenting considerable violence in the Middle East, the world is seeing less war than has been the case in several centuries, and where starvation exists it does so for localized economic and war-related reasons.

For almost twenty years we have been being told that the deepening drought in California was almost certainly permanent as a result of global warming, and now we are being told that the current year's pattern of frequent and heavy rain may become the norm in California, rather than drought, due to "atmospheric rivers" which are caused by global warming.

Again, I do not doubt that the planet is warming and that it is a problem, but I have some sympathy for "climate deniers" given that the predictions for the effects of the issue tend to be hyperbolic and contradictory.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Confused Movement

The growing movement which oddly calls itself “The Resistance” seems more and more confusing to me, even in that they are calling themselves by that name. What is bizarre, however, is the increasing clamor for impeachment of the newly-elected President.

First, “resistance” is what one does against a totalitarian government. In a democracy, those on the losing side of an election are called “the minority” and remain part of governance, in the legislature and the electorate.

When Obama won and Democrats took control of the legislature, conservatives vowed to prevent the implementation of a liberal agenda. I did not regard that as a worthy goal, really, but I respected then, and I respect even more so today, that they carried out that goal by working as part of government. They were the “obstructionist minority” in the legislature, and the voters worked to raise votes to get more members of their party elected.

Now, liberals, being on the losing side of the election, are voicing not the goal to remove the winner of the election at the end of his first term by the electoral process, nor to work within government to prevent him from implementing his agenda, but to discredit and remove him from office by strong arm tactics immediately.

What are they thinking? If they succeeded we would have to quit pretending that we are a democracy. No nation in which the losing side can discredit and remove the winner of an election can call itself a democracy.

They seem to have the idea that they can advocate a democracy in which only their side is permitted to win, but an election with only one permissible outcome is the kind of thing that they do in, for instance, Syria.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Not Exactly James Bond Types

A great many phrase come to mind for describing the people of San Diego, lots of them very complimentary, but “stout hearted” is not one of them.

I was in the grocery store yesterday, which was quite crowded, and two employees were discussing the reason for the press of business. “They’re getting ahead of the storm,” said one to the other, and I had to laugh, because he was undoubtedly correct.

In most parts of the country, “getting ahead of the storm” means stocking up in anticipation of a hurricane, or perhaps five feet of snow. In San Diego it means hunkering down due to a prediction for 1-2” of rain. Actually, you can be driving down the freeway in San Diego on a clear, sunshiney day, throw a glass of water out the window, and cause a five car pileup.

Yes, I was in the store. I was making spaghetti sauce for dinner and needed some fresh mushrooms.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Abuse of Power

From the Washington Post, in an article regarding the resignation of National Security Advisor Flynn, “…Trump tried to shift attention from damaging questions about contact with Russia by Flynn and others close to the President.”

So not only do we not need evidence of wrongdoing to bring down a public person, we no longer need a direct accusation either; merely questioning the actions of that person will do.

We have not needed evidence, proof, of wrongdoing for some years. Accusations have sufficed; accusations for which no evidence has been offered and for which no evidence has been asked. The accusation is merely repeated with sufficient frequency that it becomes accepted as truth.

The German Propaganda Ministry perfected this method of turning lies into truth in the 1930’s. Do not argue; do not offer evidence; do not discuss logically; merely keep repeating the lie.

Now, with this phrase “damaging questions,” we no longer even need to make accusations, we merely need to ask questions in order to bring down a public person.

I no longer need to accuse, say, a pastor of being a closet homosexual in order to get him fired from his pulpit. I could be sued for making such an accusation, or I could be required to prove my case. I now merely need to ask if he is a closet homosexual and the damage is done. No one can demand that I provide evidence, because I merely asked a question.

If I repeat that “damaging question” frequently enough the pastor, who in reality is totally heterosexual and has never been even slightly affectionate with another male person, will become unacceptable to his parish and will lose his job.

Such is the power of the press, and its use in this manner is an abuse of power.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Silliness Abounds

If I were to write a compendium of stupid comments I have read it would weigh several hundred pounds. Hell, such a compendium rendered on microfilm would probably weigh several hundred pounds. Some of the comments would probably be mine, made when somebody pissed me off, but most of them would be from people who think they are smart and that they are giving highly intelligent opinion or advice.

Case in point; “So, the Resistance are doing something effective, and important: They are showing up to town halls and holding their congress members feet to the fire. This is what the Tea Party did, and it works.”

He is referring to crowds coming to “town hall” meetings and screaming continuously so that no one can speak, which is not political activism, but is a bunch of children throwing a collective tantrum. That seems to be about as close as today’s voting public can come to political awareness, but it is not “what the Tea Party did” and it most certainly is not going to solve anything.

What the Tea Party did was have the courage of their convictions, something that "progressives" (who used to have the courage to call themselves "liberals") seem to lack these days. I don’t particularly admire the convictions, to be sure, but I do admire the manner in which the held on to them with great courage and stamina.

If a Republican office holder did not live up to the standards of the party they "primaried" him and threw him out of office. If they had to lose an election in order to do that, then they were willing to do that in order to get the message to remaining Republicans. "Live up to the principles of the party or we will throw you out." Because of them there is a unified, powerful Republican party which blocked a Democratic-controlled government and now controls both houses of Congress and occupies the White House.

Progressives (who used to be "liberals" but no longer have the courage to call themselves that) are so afraid of losing an election that they will not challenge an incumbent in the primary, no matter how often or flagrantly that incumbent votes in violation of Democratic party principles. We will not take a chance of running a challenger in the general because if we do a Republican might beat us out.

We might go to town hall meetings, screaming and yelling like out of control two-year-olds, but we will not vote our legislators out of office. We know what we are against, but none of us know what we are for.

How’s that working out for us? Republicans control both houses of Congress and occupy the White House because half of our Democrats vote against party principles and repeatedly get reelected. Unlike Tea Party Republicans, "progressives" (who used to have the courage to call themselves "liberals") do not require our elected representatives to actually represent us.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Massive Choke

I knew when Atlanta was still leading by 16 points that they had choked and were going to throw the game. In the fourth quarter, the defensive secondary was eight yards off of the line of scrimmage, they were rushing Brady with nothing but four exhausted linemen, and they were doing that even in the shadow of their own goal posts.

Brady had scored a couple of touchdowns and Atlanta became panic stricken. Convinced that he is, indeed, invulnerable and can walk on water, they were shitting in their pants and running for their lives.

New England scored 31 unanswered points in barely over one quarter against a team of frightened children hiding under their beds.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Brain Damage?

There is much angst about concussions in the NFL, but I’m seeing some evidence that perhaps we should be looking a what might be causing brain damage in NASCAR. From a Q&A with Danica Patrick this week, whose team is switching from Chevrolet to Ford;

Q. Have you done anything different to prepare for this season?

A. I don’t think there’s a whole lot to do different. I’ve been more proactive with what it’s going to take to do better, so sitting down with (crew chief) Billy (Scott), I didn’t feel like we really ended up where we wanted to be last year. We felt like we would be better, so I asked the question, ‘What are we going to do different? Because if we’re going to do the same thing, we can only expect the same results. So what can we change that’s going to change that?’

I say all the time that if you want something you’ve never had before, you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done. I think ultimately the most important thing overall is that everybody shows up to work not to (just) work, but to work great and be great. What can we do different? There are some answers and there are some that you don’t have answers for because if you knew the exact answer to be better, you would have done it already.

Shorter version, “There isn’t anything you can do different,” followed by, “we didn’t wind up where we wanted to be last year.” Since she finished 24th in the standings, I would hope not. Then, having been asked what she did different, she tells us that she asked the team what they were going to do different, having just told us there wasn’t anything that could be done different.

It goes downhill from there and ends with the little gem that, “if you knew the exact answer to be better, you would have done it already,” which is just fucking brilliant.

Read the whole thing, because the rest of her answers are equally entertaining and equally uninformative. The writer doesn’t ask her why last year’s sponsor failed to pay the promised sponsorship money, leading to the team’s current lawsuit, but I have an idea that it runs along the line of “Your car was never on television except when it crashed, so we didn’t get our money’s worth.”

Her car was, of course, on television each time the leader passed it to put her another lap down; but that, too, is not the kind of coverage a sponsor really craves.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Getting It Wrong

A couple of nights ago CBS Evening News ran a segment which included a bit about an attack on a Saudi ship by “Iranian-backed rebels” and suggested that it was possible that they thought they were actually attacking an American ship.

The claim of Iranian backing is spurious, since support from Iran for the rebels has never been anything more than minimal, and has consisted entirely of food and medical supplies. The idea that they intended to strike an American ship is even further into fantasyland, since there was no American ship within 500 miles at the time, and there is not a scintilla of evidence to support that claim which was made up out of whole cloth.

Similarly, they ran a piece that told us that the Army Corps of Engineers might be ordered to issue a permit for the final segment of the Dakota pipeline, which they said would go under a reservoir that supplies drinking water for the local tribe.

Actually, the Corps would be ordered to reinstate the permit, which had been issued before construction on the pipeline was begun and after public hearings were held, and then withdrawn by the Obama administration for popularity reasons. The pipeline goes nowhere near the reservation or its drinking water supply. The segment in question crosses under the Missouri River, and the crossing is eight miles downstream from where drinking water is taken for local supply.

The first amendment to our constitution is based on the need for “a well informed public.” It is not serving that purpose.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cracking Me Up Today

Some 200 protestors are camped in front of Dianne Feinstein’s house, complaining that the California Democratic Senator has “fallen in line with the president's positions and cabinet nominees 100 percent of the time,” and criticizing her for not answering her phone. The organization FiveThirtyEight calculates that she has a pro-Trump score higher than some Republicans.

It sort of cracks me up because she proves my suggestion that in this state you could run a dead jackass for office and it would win as long as you labeled it a Democrat.

There is actually nothing new about her voting record; her pro-Bush score was as high as is her pro-Trump score, and she won the 2012 primary election with 49% of the vote. Her nearest challenger, the Republican, got 12% of the vote and nobody else was above single digits.

But the voters blame her, of course, for supporting Trump, not themselves for reelecting her after she supported Bush. They probably didn’t know she supported Bush, they only knew that she has “Democrat” after her name on the ballot. She is not actually a Democrat, and never has been.

California has an open primary for everything except President, and the net result in the 2016 election was that there were two Democratic females on the ballot for the US Senate seat formerly held by Barbara Boxer, another Democratic female. Perhaps I should have made my saying that, “you could run a dead female jackass and…”

I suspect that Bruce is going to say that in 2012 we did run a dead female jackass and that it did win.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New Rules

I thought politics was stupid. Then NASCAR announced its new rules for the upcoming year. They are awesome.

Football has a halftime period where talking heads can bore the audience, and for commercials, which aren’t seen because the audience is in the bathroom and/or in the kitchen getting more beer and snacks ready. NASCAR, in its quest to outdo “stick and ball sports,” is going to have no fewer than two halftimes in each race.

After changing the points system to reflect “one point per position” because the old graduated point system was too complicated and people watching could not figure it out, the new system includes “championship points” and “playoff points,” some of which are awarded at the end of the first of three halfs, some of which are awarded at the end of the second of three halfs, and some of which are awarded at the end of the race.

Note, however, that only ten drivers get points at the end of the first half and the end of the second half, while everyone gets points at the end of the race.

Both types of points count toward getting a driver into what used to be called “The Chase” at the end of then season but is now called “The Playoffs,” after several years of management insisting vigorously that “The Chase” was not to be referred to by sportscasters as “The Playoffs.”

Now it is “The Playoffs” and should not be referred to as “The Chase,” but the format and eliminations process is precisely the same as it was when it was called “The Chase.” What, precisely, was accomplished by changing its name is unclear.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Okay, Maybe Second Rate

I am not among those who think that the loss of the Chargers rendered San Diego a second rate city, but maybe this little treasure does.

In the San Diego Union Tribune "Dining and Drinking" section we read that, "Westfield UTC is emerging as San Diego’s next 'It' dining destination."

Really? What kind of city adopts a shopping mall as its smart, most popular, "place to be seen" dining location? San Diego: put on your tuxedo and your designer gown and head to the shopping mall for a fine dining experience.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Some Moral Compass

Some fifty Democrats have made a major production out of announcing that they will not attend the Trump inauguration. Turns out most of them were not invited, as Trump wanted the affair to be held less for the “elites” and “more for common people.” It may have been just a bit tacky of Trump and company not to invite these Democrats, but given that fact, their grand gesture lacks a certain degree of substance.

“If you’re not going to invite me to your party then I’ll show you a thing or two. I won’t go to your party. So there. Pffffbht.”

Much of the Democratic newly found moral compass lacks substance, given that their outrage is against behavior in which they themselves were engaged just a year a few months ago.

When, during the campaign, it was demanded of Donald Trump that he avow that he would accept the result of the election regardless of its outcome and he declined to do so, he was loudly and vigorously castigated by Hillary Clinton and her associates, and was the target of veiled accusations of treason. He was, you may recall, assumed to be the loser of the election.

Now it is the Democrats who are openly throwing into question the legitimacy of the election based on the popular vote, Russian hacking, Trump’s treatment of women, and actions of the FBI; none of which have any actual legal basis whatever.

Women are marching against him because of the way he treats women, notwithstanding that his opponent received fewer votes from women than Obama did in either of his two elections. So they didn’t bother to vote against him, but they will march against him.

Democrats are outraged that Trump is not getting rid of the businesses which he owns. They are outraged because the Trump children will be raking in cash for those businesses from nations and companies who stand to gain from presidential policies.

Democrats were not outraged by a gigantic charitable foundation run by the spouse of the Secretary of State raking in cash from nations and companies who stood to gain from national policies and did not seem to be unhappy with that continuing after Clinton was elected to the White House. Interestingly, now that the Clintons are no longer in a position of power, that foundation is laying off most of its staff since the "donations" have dried up.

So apparently Democrats think that it’s okay for husbands to collect bribes in behalf of the president (and Secretary of State), it’s just not okay for children to do so.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t like Trump. I didn’t vote for him and don’t like a lot of what he stands for. But this effort by the political left wing to delegitimize the election and the office of President of the United States is shameful.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fundamental Error

I can’t get upset about the Chargers leaving San Diego because I have not really been a fan for quite a few years. It’s not that they have been losing games, I can live with that, it’s that they have been playing crappy football.

Football is about precision, execution and imposing your will on your opponent, and the Chargers have not played that type of game since the Bobby Ross era, when they had the likes of Stan Humphries, Natrone Means, Lorenzo Neal and Ladanian Tomlinson. In those days they lined up and did what they wanted to do.

Under Turner and McCoy the Chargers do whatever the opponent allows them to do, and I just have never been able to get excited about that kind of football. Actually, I don’t even consider it to be football at all. I wanted to throw up every time the head coach was asked why the team lost a game and he started talking about what the other team did. Championship football teams do not let the opponent dictate the game.

“They didn’t do what we expected them to do,” he says, which boils down to, “They didn’t let us do what we wanted to do.” Of course they didn’t let you do what you wanted to do, you idiot. If they are going to let you do what you want to do, why are they even on the field at all? Their whole purpose in being on the field is to prevent you from doing what you want to do. Sheesh.

Given that they have ownership that has permitted that kind of field leadership for more than a decade, I do not expect it to change any time soon, so I am shedding no tears for the loss of the Chargers.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Day of Infamy

I’m discussing with my wife that perhaps we should consider moving from San Diego, given that this city is fated to become a failing empty shell, a mere shadow of what it once was. Bridges will likely start collapsing, tall buildings falling down, and the economy deteriorating to the level of a Tiajuana suburb.

Well, that’s the projections of San Diego sports writers, who may be a bit overwrought by the announcement that the Chargers are moving to LA.

A group of fans gathered at the Chargers complex (the national media mistakenly identified it as the stadium) to discard and burn their Chargers gear and hurl insults at the owner, Dean Spanos.

In a nice little bit of irony, one such fan was breaking and tearing up several pieces of gear, cursing mightily and wearing… Wait for it… He was wearing a $250 leather jacket with a huge Chargers lightening bolt logo on the back.

Another guy was shirtless, having burned his Chargers jersey, and was screaming that Dean Spanos should perform an act physiologically impossible for human beings, but was still wearing his Chargers hat.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pyrrhic Victory

Democrats should, of course, actually be celebrating because the worst thing that can happen to a political party is to win an election. It puts them into a position in which they will demonstrate to voters and to the world that they are woefully incapable of governing.

We have been through this many times. Democrats win control and accomplish essentially nothing that they promised to do. Having no accomplishments on which to campaign, they use the "we're feckless but the other party is evil" approach to stay in power, only to have the voters say that Republicans weren't all that evil last time and getting something done is better than getting nothing done and throw them out.

Republicans get control and get things done, but they get all the wrong things done. They try to convince voters that those things are actually good ideas, but voters decide that maybe doing nothing is better than doing stupid things and put the Democrats back in office. Wait five minutes, rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wilder Fantasy

According to the New York Times, Obama, Congress, and Trump himself knew last fall that Russia had dirt on Trump which could be used to derail his election and/or used to blackmail him after he became president.

It’s not petty stuff. It includes, according to the Times, “sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel,” and memos quoting “an unidentified Russian source” to the effect that “the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails was carried out with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team.”

“One of the memos claims,” the Times tells us, “that Mr. Cohen (a Trump adviser) went to Prague in August or September to meet with Kremlin representatives and to talk about Russian hacking of Democrats,” which is interesting. You may recall that intelligence officials invented a Prague meeting between a 9/11 planner and an Iraq official during the Iraq war buildup. It was later proven to be fiction, and Mr. Cohen has provided his passport which shows that he has never been to Prague in his life.

“If some of the unproven claims in the memos are merely titillating,” we are advised by the Times, “others would amount to extremely serious, potentially treasonous acts.” If, that is, “unproven claims” could ever possibly be considered as treason.

A Russian spokesman said that the whole kerfuffle, “isn’t consistent with reality and is nothing but an absolute fantasy,” which I’d say is a reasonable assessment of the situation.

The FBI had this material as early as June and released none of it because none of it could be verified. (Which should surprise no one.) None of it can be verified now either, which begs the question that, if nothing could be released due to lack of verification earlier, why is this being released now?

No one is answering that question, for the simple reason that no one is asking it.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Offering Peace

There was an episode of Chicago Med the other day in which two professional cage fighters were brought in who had beaten each other into bloody pulps. They and their managers were shouting threats and insults and there was risk of mayhem – it was all very dramatic. When all was said and done, one of the fighters was patched up and discharged and the other had sustained a brain hemorrhage and was laying on life support and being declared beyond recovery.

The Muslim family, parents and brother, of the fallen fighter were with him, praying together, when the other fighter returned. It turned out he wanted to know if the guy was okay and was devastated to find out he was not. He was breaking down and in tears, saying that he was sorry and saying tearfully “I don’t know what to do.”

The brother was angry and making threats and the father came out of the room and gently told him to stop. He held out his hand to the fighter and said, “Come, will you pray with us?” The two of them walked slowly back into the room and were standing side by side at the bedside, looking together down at the man on life support.

It was fiction, yes, but very powerful. I am always profoundly moved when one person reaches out to another with an offer of forgiveness and reconciliation; an act which brings peace to mind and spirit. Life offers no finer moment.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Who Do You Believe?

A couple of Facebook polls which should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, but which are food for thought nonetheless. I know where my vote would have been. It has been many years since it became my policy to believe precisely nothing which my government or the domestic media tells me.

John Harwood: Who do you believe America?
84,115 votes
83% Wikileaks
17% US Intel officials

Lou Dobbs: Who do you believe regarding Russian hacking?
17,899 votes
6% President Obama
94% Julian Assange

Did Russia hack the election? Sure, and Jessica Lynch was rescued in the midst of a raging gun battle after she herself had been gravely injured and at the point of death, bravely fighting off with her trusty M-14 the ravening hordes of Iraqis who were attacking her. And we have been fighting in Afghanistan for fifteen years to “deny them space in which to plan their attacks.” And, as the King of Siam says, “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Nice Comeback

I don't much like either Penn State or USC, two elitist schools with snobbish student bodies, but I like good football so I watched the Rose Bowl last night, including the second half. Glad I did.

In case you missed it, USC was up six at the half, but Penn State scored three touchdowns in the first four minutes of the second half. Actually, they did it in three plays from scrimmage; a 79-yard run, a 72-yard pass, and a 3-yard run following an interception. USC tied the score with one minute remaining in the game, and then intercepted the ball and ran it back to within field goal range; kicking the winning field goal as time expired.

Interestingly, USC dropped an interception on the preceding play, and Penn State threw the exact same pass, to the same receiver, running the same route, immediately after. The defender jumped the route again and did not drop the interception a second time. That was weird. Who called that play?

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Hysteria Accelerates

The New York Times had an article, behind a pay wall, which headlined that the government had now “revealed the details” of the Russian hacking which caused Hillary Clinton to lose the election, but the details it revealed were all qualified with phrases such as “believed to be” and “likely connected to.”

Based on that we expelled 35 Russian diplomats and their families and expected that Russia would do likewise. Several papers actually reported that Russia had done likewise, in fact, before Russia revealed that it is governed by adults.

Then we get much hyperventilating about the Russians hacking a Vermont power company, along with a great deal of “I told you so” rhetoric about the vulnerability of our power systems to Russian cyberwarfare. Because Vermont is such a critical state to our economy. Why bother disabling New York, when you can do so much more economic damage to the nation by damaging Vermont?

Except that the “hacking” consisted of one piece of malware in a laptop which was not connected to the power company’s network, and was not used and had never been used to control the company’s power distribution system. It was, to boot, an obsolete version of a commercially available hacker’s program which could be bought by anyone pretty much anywhere, and thus was in no way attributable to the Russians.

It’s embarrassing. Why does anyone pay attention to anything American any more? We have become buffoons.

Update: Oh yes, and we put Ohio State in the FBS playoffs.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Let me finish that for you...

You say, "Let me say it right here, if you voted for Trump-I do think you are a racist, homophobic misogynist." Left unsaid is that the reason you say that is that you believe in democracy, but only when your side wins, because you are intolerant of any beliefs other than your own. Come to think of it, that means you don't believe in democracy at all.

See, I can be nasty, too. I can't hold a candle to you in the nasty department, but I do my best. I am not, after all, a registered Democrat.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

And Now We Know

We have now received an answer to the ineffable question, "Can the Chargers lose to an 0-14 team?"

Well, I guess it's no longer an ineffable question, since I just effed it, so to speak, which makes it an effable question, but in any case the answer is, "Yes indeed, they most certainly can." Sigh.

They found a new way to accomplish that feat, at least. After losing games due to the offense falling in its face, and due to the defense doing a pratfall, and due to the special teams not catching and/or fumbling the ball, this game they lost by missing field goals and/or having them blocked.

Browns 20, Chargers 17. They are not boring, they are merely pitiful.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

More Economic Idiocy

Dean Baker illustrates today why economists should be put into a pickle barrel and stored in a deep basement. He has long argued against the adage that the problem with Obamacare is that, “Not enough young healthy people are signing up for health insurance,” by insisting that older people are healthy too, and that the real problem is that not enough older healthy people are signing up for health insurance.

In today’s piece he claims that, “the age distribution of enrollees has little impact on the cost of the program," notwithstanding his statement in the same piece that, “on average the older enrollees are a net drain on the system.” What?

Not satisfied with making such contradictory statements, he then disproves the first and and proves the second by saying that “people in the oldest age bracket pay premiums that are three times as large as people in the youngest age bracket,” and that, “older enrollees will cost the system about 3.5 times as much as young enrollees.”

Dean Baker does not seem to understand the meaning of the word “average.” Immediately after saying that, “On average, the older enrolllees will cost the system about 3.5 times as much as young enrollees,” he proceeds too insist that, “a large number of people in the older age band are every bit as healthy as people in the youngest age band.”

The latter statement is undoubtedly true, but working against his so-called “logic” is that on average they are not, and averages are what insurance is all about. If you continue to sign up large numbers of older people you will sign up far more unhealthy people than healthy ones.

If, on the other hand, you sign up large numbers of young people you will sign up far more healthy people than unhealthy ones, and that is the point that is being made when people say that, “Not enough young healthy people are signing up for health insurance.”

It would probably make the point more clearly to say that, “Not enough young people, who are predominantly healthy, are signing up for health insurance,” but only someone intent on proving the idiocy inherent in being an economist, like Dean Baker, would argue the point being made by the statement as issued.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Going Down Fighting

For decades, the United States has enjoyed by far the world’s highest standard of living, and have happily lived in the illusion that that could last forever. Reality is being forced upon us now in the form of what “globalization” really means, and we don’t like it. We are living in denial with promises to “bring those jobs back,” but reality is going to win. It always does.

It has always been assumed that when world’s standard of living equalized that it would be because the rest of the world brought their circumstances up to match ours, but since we have been 5% of the world’s population consuming 25% of the world’s resources, that was never possible. Doomsayers who pointed out that that any such equalization would require that our standard of living must decline were reviled and/or ignored.

And so one party promises to “bring those jobs back,” which it cannot do, and the other raises the minimum wage because it has nothing to offer other than an economy based on minimum wage jobs, many of which require a college degree with concomitant educational-incurred debt.

“Going down fighting” is not always an admirable trait. We could make this transition gracefully, but we won’t, because we will never admit that it needs to be made.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Banner Year

After winning the Mountain West Championship for the second consecutive year, the Aztecs went to Las Vegas yesterday as three point underdogs and won by a score of 34-10.

During the game Donnel Pumphrey ran for 115 yards, bringing his career total to 6,405 yards, the most career yards by any running back in the history of college football. Rashaad Penny ran for only 10 yards, but it gave him 1000 yards for the season, and the Aztecs two 1000 runners in one year.

On defense, the Aztecs had four interceptions in the game, giving them 26 for the year. That is the most in college football this year, 5 ahead of Wisconsin, which has 21.

Congratulations to Rocky Long (aka "Captain Sunshine") and all the players of the San Diego State University Aztecs.

Friday, December 16, 2016

WMDs Redux

I watched CNN for a little while today, and a little bit of MSNBC, and the hysteria over purported Russian interference with the election is reaching really quite amazing levels, stoked by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Both are claiming that Putin was personally directing said interference, and Clinton asserts that it is because he has a personal grudge against Hillary Clinton. Those are her words, “…because he has a personal grudge against me.”

We have seen this before. Precisely this same level of hysteria and same type of political messaging, when the intelligence agencies were entirely in agreement that Iraq had WMDs, the same "we are on the same page" that is being presented today. I am watching right now the same tenor and manner of rhetoric, the same declarations of “threat to our democracy,” that I watched in the run up to the Iraq war.

This is leading up to something, and it is getting ugly. Not sure what I think is afoot, but I am beginning to suspect that there might be a serious plan to attempt to prevent Donald Trump from taking office. The anti-Russia rhetoric is getting out of control and I fear that it may instead lead to open hostility, even war, with Russia.

We need some grownups to tone this down, but there are no grownups.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Losing Badly

I thought Republicans, and conservatives generally, behaved quite badly when they lost the election to Obama; promptly vowing not to allow him to implement his agenda as president.

Their response was childlike innocence compared to that of Democrats, and liberals generally, upon losing the election to Trump; in that they are trying to deny him not only his agenda, but the office itself.

I don't recall any Republicans/conservatives saying of Obama after he was elected that, "We're not going to let him be president."

Witness efforts to corrupt the Electoral College by persuading members to violate their duty to vote as voters have directed them to do. Clearly they believe in democracy only when their side wins.

Then there are claims that the FBI corrupted the election by saying that the Democratic nominee was not guilty of any indictable offenses; a rather odd charge and hard to connect with discrediting a candidate. “Not guilty” is bad?

Then there was the recount fiasco. I say fiasco because it never gained any traction, was halted in two states by federal judges, and in the one state where it was completed the Republican gained 137 votes.

Weirdest of all, though is the charge that Russia interfered with the election; a charge that is backed only by unsubstantiated charges from unnamed “intelligence officials.” There is no proof offered because there is none to be had, but Obama is going to the length of vowing action against Russia for doing god knows what based on evidence that no one can produce.

Notice that not one single Democratic spokesman has denied the truthfulness of allegations made in the “hacked” (actually “leaked”) material, so they are not claiming that Russia interfered in our election by spreading lies, but rather that Russia interfered in our election by spreading the truth; truth that the Democrats did want to be known by the public.

Russia has not yet said how they feel about the United States punishing them for telling the truth about our politicians, an act which must be especially galling since there is no evidence offered that they actually did it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Media Continues to Fail

CBS Evening News runs daily segments on the horrors of Aleppo, where the “Russian-backed” Syrian regime (or Syrian dictatorship) is slaughtering civilians in the process of liberating that city from US-backed rebels.

Sorry, I misspoke. They don’t say “US-backed rebels,” in fact they don’t say “rebels” at all. They say, “after five years of bloody civil war.”

They don’t offer any proof, of course, because there isn’t any. They show civilians calmly walking out of Aleppo, although many are understandably weeping as they exit a war zone, and tell us that these are the few civilians that didn’t get slaughtered by the Syrian Army.

They do not provide any reports of the ongoing devastation in Yemen, where the attacking forces are Saudi and are backed by the United States, nor do they report from Mosul, a city being liberated from ISIS by Iraqi forces also backed by the United States.

Presumably no such reporting is required because no civilians are being killed in these major assaults, notwithstanding that the Saudis are bombing cities in Yemen, and Mosul is a Sunni city being liberated by a Shiite army. Nothing to see here, move along.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


There was a thing on Facebook where a father really needed to chastise his kids for getting into the paint cans and making a mess of themselves, but could not stop laughing long enough to do so. Took me back to my teenage years when I did that to my father more than once.

I developed a fascination with making depth charges. This consisted of a classic pipe bomb using homemade black powder, a large paint can mostly filled with sand, and some dynamite fuse which burns even when there is no air. Put the pipe bomb in the paint can, fill it with sand, light the fuse, hammer the lid on and drop it into some deep water. The results are awesome, but don’t try this at home. It’s illegal today, and probably was then.

My first test was in a new garbage can my father had just bought, filled with water. Not, it turns out, one of my better plans because I had no innocent way to explain the thirty-gallon colander that was lying in the alley when the local cop showed up. He didn’t do anything Well he did the worst thing possible. He said he would come back after my Dad got home. Shit.

The cop showed up and related his story, and I related about how I had seen this movie with the Navy dropping depth charges and wanted to replicate the effect, and Dad started getting all outraged and parental, but then he started laughing. Then the cop started laughing. They finally gave up any attempt at keeping a straight face; the cop left, Dad sent me to my room and told me the next day that I had to buy him a new garbage can.

He forgot to tell me not to build any more depth charges. Or maybe he told me and I forgot. It was a long time ago, and I may have had a habit of not always doing what I was told.

I built four depth charges, big ones, and took them down to the river. Standing in the middle of the bridge, I lit them one by one and dropped them in the river, then waited for the explosions. The first one went off just as the local cop, same cop, was driving over the bridge, and the geyser of water was a good ten feet higher than the bridge railing.

Thinking fast, I ran to the cop, freaking out and screaming that there had been an explosion and pointing at where the water had shot up and saying that he should do something because, “Oh my God.” He did not believe one single word; got out of his car, leaned his butt against the fender, folded his arms and gave me the stink eye.

I continued my Sergeant Shultz protest of “I know nothing” and kept insisting that he investigate until the second depth charge went off. I then did a little dance about, “Oh my God there’s another one. Do something, do something,” which he still wasn’t buying. He knew me too well; but still, I had been standing right beside him when it went off.

We walked to the bridge railing and were looking down at the water when the third one went off. It was quite spectacular, and we had to step back to keep from getting wet. By now he is actually beginning to believe me until he says something about that being all of them and without thinking I said, “No, there’s one more.” Shit.

The sumbitch actually hand cuffed me. He later admitted that he only did it because he was so pissed off at me for making him believe my “innocent” act, like he was the only one who ever fell for it. Everybody fell for it.

He didn’t take me to jail, though, he took me home where Mother sent me to my room and told me to stay there until my father got home. That was routine enough, but when Dad got home he didn’t come to my room or call me to the living room. Hmmm. Then the cop showed up, and after a few minutes he and Dad went out and sat in the cop’s car for quite a while. That was making me nervous.

Finally the cop left and Dad came back in and, after another considerable delay, called me in and announced my punishment. I don’t recall what it was, but it wasn’t anything very severe, and I found out much later that the delay had been to allow the laughter to subside. That did, however, bring an end to the depth bombing adventure.