Wednesday, December 03, 2014

No, I'm Not Gone

Two trips to the emergency room in the past two weeks, one for a back problem and the other gastrointestinal. Both times I went to my doctor's office and each time the doctor (differnt doctors) sent me to the er. Currently at home hoping that antibiotics will solve a bout of pneumonia, which did not work last time. Maybe it will this time. Anyway, just too fucking tired to spend time sitting at the computer.

Update, friday: It didn't; I'ii be back when I'm home again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Doing It Right

There are many reasons why San Diego is a great place to live and I cannot think, offhand, of much in the way of anything that would be a valid reason not to live here. We could , of course, use a better football team, but... Anyway, once in a while something happens that reminds me that this town does live up to its slogan, which is "America's Finest City."

Protesters closed northbound I-5 this morning, voicing their opposition to recent events in Ferguson. It caused massive backups, of course, and the CHP finally managed to disband the protest but there were no arrests and no one even got a ticket. San Diego law enforcement understands the constitutional right of the people to peacefully assemble.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wierd Ways

Let’s hear it for the Aztecs basketball team, who scored 104 points. Of course, it took them two games to score those points, but they won both games due to their traditionally awesome defense. One of the announcers commented that the Aztecs were shooting 27% from the field, and the other one said, “Yeah, and what’s weird is that they’re doing that and winning.” The shooting will come in due time, but the Aztecs always make us fans nervous in the early part of the season.

What was really weird is the impression of the San Diego U-T sportswriters that the Chargers have an offense that is close to being perfect; missing, perhaps, only a cigar. Kevin Acee describes how Malcom Floyd slowed momentarily while blocking for running back Matthew Ryan and then realized that him missing the block was all that prevented Ryan from scoring a touchdown. Acee uses that as an example of how close the offense is to being perfection.

My first thought was, “Yeah,and if the dog hadn’t stopped running he’d have caught the rabbit,” and my second was that close only counts in horseshoes amd hand grenades. The Chargers only scored six earned points in the game he described.

If Acee wasn’t so absorbed in drinking Koolaid, he would realize that the example he cites reveals just how badly flawed the Chargers offense is on two levels.

First is that Floyd’s “slowing down to see what the cornerback would do” is a defensive posture not an offensive one. An offense does not wait to see what the other team is doing and then react to it, an offense makes the other team react to what it is doing. It attacks. No wonder the offense is not scoring points or converting third downs.

The more severe problems is that Floyd’s assignment was to escort the running back downfield, following a specified route, and Floyd did not do that. If you are thinking about what you should be doing, you are not doing it. You should be doing your assignments because you know what to do, not because you are thinking about what would "be a cool thing to do." That is the Chargers' problem in a nutshell, and it is not a small thing. It is a major thing.

You have an assignment. Don't think about it. Don't wait to see what the opponent will do. Carry out your assignment. especially when your assignment is blocking ror a ball carrier. It doesn't matter what the cornerback is going to do, it matters what Ryan Matthews is going to do, and you know what Ryan Matthews is going to do. Floyd blew his assignment because he was thinking instead of carrying out his assignment, which is called a lack of discipline and is the crux of the problem.

The Chargers are insufficiently aggressive on both sides of the ball, and they are undisciplined. Either they do not know their assignments or they choose not to carry them out. In both cases, that is not close to being a championship team; that is a very long way from being a championship team.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Football Roundup

LSU was shut out by the Razorbacks, which is a good team but not that good. The Tigers, I suspect, were reflecting the letdown of having been betrayed by their coach the preceding week. I’m not surprised the team played poorly; Les Miles is lucky that they even took the field.

On a happier note, both Eli Manning and the New Orleans Criminals lost yesterday, and each suffered that defeat in their own house. Even sweeter was that the Giants loss was contributed to by no fewer than five Eli Manning interceptions.

The Chargers are celebrating a halt to their losing streak, but I’m not sure that beating a 0-9 team by seven points, and unearned points at that, is really something to celebrate. Most seem to admit that the offense was pretty shoddy, with its only touchdown coming on the heels of a Raiders fumble on its own 20-yard line.

Everyone is excited about the return of Ryan Matthews and thrilled that he ran for 70 yards, but I’m looking at some league stats that make that somewhat less than overwhelmingly impressive. Jonas Gray of New England ran for 199 yards, and he did it against the Colts, not against a team that has lost 15 consecutive games. Thirteen players ran for more yards than Matthews did yesterday, one of them a quarterback, and ten players with ten or more carries had a higher yards-per-carry average. All of them were running against far better defenses than the hapless Raiders.

Too many writers are crowing about the “awesome” performance of the defense, but I’d say they are failing to account that the defense was playing against an offense that has not won a game in more than a year. In nine previous losses Raiders have averaged 72 yards rushing, and they ran for 71 yards yesterday. They averaged 205 yards passing in those games and passed for 162 yesterday. What’s “awesome” about any of that? Yes, the defense looked decent, but they were up against a rookie quarterback and an 0-9 team. They should have looked better.

Yes, technically the Chargers are “back in the playoffs hunt,” but…

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Extremism Is Okay If...

We have this weird attitude about extremists. We must, it seems, kill extremists if they are of the Muslim variety, but tolerate them if they are Christian extremists because Christian extremists have rights while Muslim extremist’s don’t. If they are Republican extremists we call the nasty names, but if they are Democratic extremists we adore them and urge them to run for president.

There is a growing current among the “I’ll vote for anyone as long as she’s a Democrat” crowd to persuade Elizabeth Warren to run for president because she is, according to them, some sort of liberal icon who will save the country from the evils of corporatism. They are thrilled by her position that Wall Street should be drowned in a bathtub, which in reality is an extreme position which makes no more sense than does the Republican mantra that government should receive the same fate.

Warren is an economic populist and certainly has all the right lyrics for the economic aria, but she doesn’t know the words or music for any other song in the songbook. She is an economics professor with a couple of relatively minor government appointed positions under her belt, and one unfinished term as Senator. There is no foreign policy experience, no government administration experience, no military experience, no constitutional or legal experience... No public service other than one Senate campaign.

The few times she has been asked about these issues she has essentially done nothing more than change the subject, with the exception of being a 100% supporter of "Israel's right to defend itself." She is a one trick pony and, while it is a really good trick, she has shown us absolutely nothing else that she can do.

The Democratic Party’s moving Warren into a newly created and essentially undefined “leadership position,” a mere two years after she first entered the Senate, is a desperate and farcical attempt by the party to regain its liberal base by showing them that it is moving back to the left. The only ones who are going to believe that it is actually doing so are those few who have managed to hang onto their belief in the “hope and change” myth of 2008.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Redefining Democracy

The Obama loyalist branch of the Democratic Party is in despair and all but ready to raise the flag inverted because the Republicans won last week. I'm not sure what they think democracy is. Somehow they only think democracy is working if their side wins.

If only one side is allowed to win, how do you even pretend that you have a democracy? These people do not really want a democracy. They want their views to prevail without other views being given an opportunity, because any views other than their own are "evil, crazy" or "stupid" and are unworthy of being given a fair hearing. The word for "I want democracy, but only when my side wins," is "hypocrisy."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fine Lines

Congress will soon be debating, at Obama's request, a new Authorization For The Use Of Military Force (the ubiquitous AUMF) against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, also known as ISIL. We might have better success at fighting it, or even deciding whether or not to fight it, if we knew what the hell we are calling it, but... Whatever.

Robert Golan-Vilella tells us in The National Interest just how wierd the thinks this debate is, saying that the "entire debate is about a hypothetical AUMF that the White House does not think it needs for a war that started over three months ago."

Daniel Larison agrees with him and adds that the war itself is very wierd in that, "By the government’s own admission, ISIS doesn’t pose a direct threat to the United States, it had no plans to attack the U.S., and couldn’t carry out those plans if it had any," and reinforces the oddity of the AUMF debate by adding, "but the president claimed to have the authority to order attacks against them anyway."

I would add to that debate that the whole concept of an AUMF is ridiculous. Congress should either declare war or not. If war then unlimited military force should be used, if not then our military in its entirety should sit peacefully in its barracks. This game of an "authorization" to kick the can of decision to the president is cowardly and unconstitutional.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don't Thank Me For My Service

It was not some noble effort, and I did not do it for you. I did my duty. I repaid the debt I owed to those who served before me; those who made it possible for me to serve. I served because it was not possible for me to do otherwise.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Les Miles is an Idiot

The LSU Tigers had held Alabama to drives of 9 yards, 6 yards, 18 yards,
2 yards and 8 yards in the second half; 43 yards total in five possessions, with just one first down and a takeaway. They did that by putting eight guys in the box and attacking like wild dogs.

So LSU kicks a field goal to take the lead with less than a minute left in the game and the grass eating moron puts three guys on the defensive line of scrimmage, linebackers five yards off the line, and corners and safeties ten yards deep. The entirely predictable result is that the Tide goes 55 yards in nine plays with three first downs, 12 more yards and two more first downs than they had managed previously in the entire half, and ties the game.

To make things worse, the herbivorous dimwit then uses the same feckless defense in overtime and gives Alabama the win. Fortunately, my wife was out of town and none of the neighbors called the police. The cat was in a back bedroom and decided to remain there.

On a brighter note both Eli Manning and the New Orleans Criminals lost. Even sweeter is that the Criminals lost in the Super Dome and as a result of a Drew Brees fumble.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Kill Shots

From Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker, "The San Diego Convention Center is hosting the first-ever convention of people who shot Osama bin Laden, with organizers expecting a turnout of between three thousand and four thousand." Go read the piece. It's a short read and will have you rolling on the floor.

And this from The Irish Times, "Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman at US central command, said yesterday: 'I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening [Friday]in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of Isil [Isis]leaders near Mosul.'"

We have this maniacial passion for killing leaders, and have been doing so for more than six years now. Where has it gotten us? If someone had killed Dwight David Eisenhower in 1944 would we have abandonded our war effort, packed up our weapons and gone home, leaving Europe to the Germans? And yet, this is apparently what we think the Islamic terrorist and war forces are going to do if we just find the right "leader" to kill.

For more than six years we have been claiming as "victories" the death of this terrorist leader or that one, and yet the alarms keep coming and the places from which the threat emanates are proliferating. When are we going to figure out that this plan of "cutting off the head of the snake" is not only not working, but is actually making the problem worse? When are we going to figure out that we are creating vastly more enemies than we are killing?

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Geaux Tigers!

lego maniaLSU Mania

Friday, November 07, 2014

Recycled Fear Mongering

The administration is circulating rumors that the Islamic State has used chemical weapons which they captured from the Syrian Army, giving no specifics as to when and where this happened, or specifically what chemical weapons were used.

This is somewhat at odds with statements made some time ago to establish certainty that the chemical attack in Syria was perpetrated by the Syrian Army and not the rebel forces because we knew for sure than no chemical weapons had ever been captured by rebels, followed by claims that our CW surrender program had collected 100% of the chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian Army.

But what the hell, we all know that, as Raplh Waldo Emerson put it,
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers.”

The latest clarion call is a resurrection of “The Khorasan Group,” and another drone attack which we claim has killed the group’s “master bomb maker” even though we admit that no one has laid eyes on this paragon of the explosive arts, either dead or alive. We are shown a burning car and told that this master bomber “is believed to have been riding in it.”

The first time we bombed the Khorasan Group there were quite a lot of raised eyebrows, because no one other than the administration had ever heard of it. It was, supposedly, sufficiently large and mature to have developed munitions factories, command and control centers, and training facilities, all of which we bombed, but prior to the announcement of the destruction of its facilities no one even knew that it existed.

We were, however, told to be terrified of it, notwithstanding that we had destroyed its munitions factories, its command and control centers, and many of its training centers, because we were not certain at the time that we had killed its master bomb maker.

Now CBS News tells us that we killed a car which is believed to have contained this “master bomb maker,” who was developing bombs which could be concealed in shoes, underwear, printer cartridges and “even human bodies” and “smuggled onto airliners headed for the United States.”

There’s a certain lack of originality to this refrain. The shoes, underwear and printer cartridges go back to some rather amateurish plots emanating out of Yemen, of course. They are now coming from the "master bomb maker" of the Khorasan Group in Syria, who is apparently more of an explosives expert than a creative idea man.

The “human body” bomb comes from a television program “Covert Affairs” on the USA Network in which the bad guy had a bomb surgically implanted into a “soldier” who he allowed to be captured and taken to a CIA safe house, where the guy detonates the bomb and kills everyone in the house.

The bad guy was not an Islamic terrorist but was, as I recall, a Turkish arms dealer but, what the hell; if you see an idea that works for you, tailor it as needed and fit it into your narrative.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

"I Told You So"

One comment sort of sums up the idiocy. “So they voted for a higher minimum wage and for a Republican. Hahahaha. What a bunch of idiots and morons.”

No, I think you have missed the point being made by voters. Those who voted in the manner which the commentor regards as stupid are liberals, and they threw out the legislator who claims to be a liberal and is not. They demonstrated that you cannot do nothing and remain in office, no matter who you blame the “nothing” on.

They voted for a higher minimum wage at the state level and threw out the legislator who did not vote for a higher minimum wage at the federal level. Not moronic al all, but entirely consistent.

The only thing Democrats have to show for eight years in Congress is Obamacare and, while it is by no means an altogether bad bill and has some excellent features, it most certainly is not a liberal or progressive piece of legislation. It simply gives more people access to the corporate and big business system of health care, and anyone who calls that liberal or progressive needs an education in the meaning of the terms.

Yes, I know, “financial regulation reform,” but don’t go there. If I throw up right now I will have to buy a new keyboard. We might as well discuss bankruptcy reform, something else in which Democrats were complicit.

For more than two years I have been maintaining that if the Democrats want to regain the House and retain the Senate they would need to have a better message than whining about “Republican obstructionism” and preaching about the evilness of the members of the “other side.” I have gotten responses along the lines of, “We will call them evil and stupid because they are evil and stupid,” and when I suggested that such a message would not attract new voters, “Screw them, we don’t want their stupid votes.” And so, here we are.

I am not necessarily happy with yesterday’s outcome, and I don’t want to say, “I told you so” but… Yes, I do want to say that. “I told you so.”

This is what happens when you have a two party system. The only way to throw out the guy you put in when he is not doing what you put him in to do is to put the other guy in. That’s a little convoluted, but when I elect someone to change things and he doesn’t change things I cannot simply keep reelecting him. Sure it would be nice to change him in the primary election and get a different person of our own persuasion, but those things are rigged, so effectively there is only one way to throw him out.

In CA-53 the primary choices were Susan Davis and some guy who runs a barber shop and whose total political experience was when he ran for class president in grade school. Yes, I voted for him, along with eight other people in my district, so of course Susan Davis is running against a Republican in the general election and my point is made.

Don’t think this election was any kind of victory for Republicans. It was a repudiation of the fecklessness of Democrats, and a message that we are not buying all of their half baked excuses.

Monday, November 03, 2014

What The Hell Was That?

I did foresee that the Chargers might not win against Miami, but never in my most nightmarish prognostication did I imagine that they would indulge themselves in a 37-0 meltdown. The game was not, as the saying goes, as close at the score made it look. Philip Rivers was pulled from the game late in the third quarter after completing 12 of 23, with 3 interceptions, one lost fumble and a 31.0 quarterback rating. We were told that he was suffering from an undefined “hand injury” and that “his return was questionable.”

Funny, no trainer was ever observed looking at his hand, and the hand injury is not mentioned in the news articles today, none of which actually surprises me. Said news articles are not even pointing any fingers regarding yesterday’s loss; are just asking what the hell happened. Good question.

Meanwhile, in stock car racing… Well, in NASCAR, which pretends to be stock car racing, Stewart Haas Racing decided to give Danica Patrick a chance to maybe win some races now that three of its four cars are no longer eligible for the championship.

One of its drivers, Kurt Bush, is leaving the team next year despite the fact that he has been doing better than anyone else on the team other than Kevin Harvick. He has been in the top ten almost every race and has come very close to winning several races, so SHR decided to swap crews and crew chiefs between him and Danica Patrick. Both cars are basically furnished by the Hendrick organization; same outfit that makes cars for Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson et al.

So Kurt finished eighth yesterday, with the crew and crew chief that Danica used to have, while Danica finished 36th and nine laps down with the crew and crew chief that Kurt used to have. That probably should tell us something, but equally probably will tell SHR nothing as they will continue with their plan to drop Kurt and keep Danica.

Danica was not quite as bad as her finish would seem to indicate. Nearly, but not quite. She was only four laps down when she attempted to knock down the concrete retaining wall in turn four. The attempt was, of course, unsuccessful, and probably did not enhance the performance of her car.

Back to football. For those of you who have Philip Rivers on your Fantasy Football team, I hope you had the foresight to bench that puppy like I did, because he racked up a whopping 0.4 fantasy points yesterday. That’s only four tenths of a point better than a player who is dead.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

And My Point Is Proven

From a comment on Friday's post The Inequality Chorus, "Staying off work for a day is one thing. Staying off for weeks or months and getting fired is another, and many don't want to risk it."

Indeed, we want our higher wages, but not if it involves hard work or risk. We want the government to secure those higher wages for us while we sit back and do nothing.

When steel workers wanted higher wages in 1965 my coworkers and I did not look to someone else. We walked out and barred the gate to shut down the plant. When they sent replacement workers we did not let them in. When they sent armed police we stood up to them. Risk? Indeed so. We risked our jobs, and we risked getting shot. We got higher wages because we made it plain that refusing us would hurt them.

"If you're by yourself, you're screwed. You could do that, make a statement and still do the work. but would that make the difference you want to happen?"

When I was driving a truck the company required drivers to pay our own fines if we were caught overweight at truck scales, despite the fact that we did not load our own trucks. The trucks were loaded by crews in the plant before we arrived to drive them, and all we did was chain down the load, tarp it when required, and leave. The first time I was caught with an overload on one axle I walked into the manager's office, handed him the ticket I had paid and told him, "When you repay me for this ticket I'll tell you where your truck is. If not, you'll eventually find it, but it won't be in one piece."

Yes, that made the difference I wanted to happen. I was far from screwed.
I got my money, they got a different truck driver, and I went to work for a better company. If you allow your employer to walk on you, you get little sympathy from me.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Inequality Chorus

“Income inequality,” we are told, is the greatest evil in society and is the primary drawback to economic recovery that exists today, and something must be done about it immediately. That “something” which must be done, of course, is to punish the rich and take away from them the wealth which they have accumulated.

No one has managed to explain to me how, in and of itself, the disparity is detrimental to society or how depriving the wealthy of their “ill gotten gains” will do any good for anyone. It seems to me that the real problem is the failure of the growth of income for the lower classes, and that the solution lies in improving the financial status of the working class, which is not a subject much on anyone’s horizon these days.

I don’t object to punishing the rich, but even if you tax them at a rate of 110% how does that help the poor schmuck who’s working at a job making $7.25 per hour? He’s still going to be working at a job making $7.25 per hour and eating beans, and the fact that some rich bastard is driving a Cadillac instead of a Rolls Royce is not going to help him in the least.

If you change the numbers so that the rich consist of 10% instead of 1%, how is that going to help the bottom 90% live any better than they are now living? If you change it so that the richest people are living on a mere $10 million per year, how is that going to help the people who are still looking for jobs and can’t find anything but part time work with no benefits?

It seems to me that we are more interested in being pissed off at the rich than we are in solving the problems faced by the working class in this nation. We are more interested in finding someone to blame for the problem than we are in solving the problem. Pointing fingers, fixing blame and calling names is easier than finding solutions and working toward those solutions. We want the easy way.

There is no easy way. The founders of this nation, and the generations which made it great did not sit around and wait for someone else to “fix things.” They didn’t wait for government to pass a bill, they didn’t prate about a “minimum wage,” they stood in the middle of the factory floor, risking life and limb to hold a sign reading “union,” and they made it happen.

Fast food workers are on the right track, and I applaud them, but they don't stay with it. A one day march accomplishes nothing. They need to walk out, stay out and keep the workplace closed until the employer is hurt badly enough to listen to them. It's a risk, a big one, but that is the price of progress. Prior generations took that risk, and even bigger ones.

You want your employer to pay you a better wage? Then stand in the middle of the workplace holding a sign and make your employer pay you a better wage. If you don’t have the courage to do that then shut the hell up.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Craven Nation

Many years ago a monster tornado hit Tonkawa and Blackwater in Oklahoma, and then moved northeast to hit Udall, Kansas. The death toll in Udall was 80 out of a population of about 200 people, and the town was literally leveled, with not one building left standing. My school's football team was part of the rescue party which arrived the next morning and, sixty years later, I still clearly remember it.

So, superstorm Sandy is not the first natural disaster to hit this country; they’ve been happening for a great many years. They used to be, in fact, simply a regular part of life. We grieved for the lives lost, shrugged off the property damage, rebuilt and moved on.

Certainly such was the case in Udall. A year later you could hardly tell that a disaster had occurred. The town was a bit smaller, since some could not afford to rebuild, but most people had been covered by insurance and savings. There was an undercurrent of “we are enduring,” but people were cheerful and getting on with their lives.

To my present point, no one was waiting for the government to come and rebuild their house for them, and certainly no significant number were “still experiencing mental health problems attributed to the storm,” as Monmouth University survey finds two full years after superstorm Sandy.

Salon writer Lindsay Abrams tells us that Sandy survivors, and yes, two full years later they are still “survivors,” are reporting that a quarter of their communities “are only halfway or less back to normal.” She then implies that the blame lies not with the communities but with government because, “More than 90 percent of applications to New York City’s ‘Build It Back’ program are still waiting to receive funding to rebuild their homes; nearly 60 percent of applications for Small Business Administration loans weren’t approved; and FEMA is actually asking households to give back some of the money it initially doled out.”

I don’t recall that it ever occurred to anyone in Udall that the government should rebuild their houses. We didn’t think that way back then. Nor did the people of Udall think that they should hold on to and even nurture their pain and sense of loss. They would have regarded that as revealing a serious inability to cope with life.

What has happened to this nation that has made us so afraid and so unable to deal with hardship? It is fairly recent; has happened in my lifetime. I remember when Americans were a far more hardy people; cheerful in the face of adversity, and unafraid of the boogeyman. Today we are a nation cowering under our beds clamoring to be kept safe and, even more craven, maintained in comfort. I weep for the nation I used to know.

Friday, October 24, 2014

And the losers cry foul

I woke up this morning and checked for a house full of empty bottles. Nope, I’m still good for 32+ years, so that doesn’t explain it. I accused my wife of beating me with a stick, but she claims she doesn’t have a stick. Oh, yes, 35-21 last night.

And of course the players are singing the song they always sing after a loss, even a 14 point loss, the one with the lyrics about "just a few missed plays." Give me a break. If the dog hadn't stopped to scratch it's ass it would have caught the rabbit. If you miss a few plays when you are leading by 21 points you'll still win the game. The issue is to go out and play better than your opponent and not miss plays, a few of them or a lot of them. If, on the other hand, you make enough good plays, you can miss a few and it won't matter. If you are not making enough plays then you can't miss any.

And the fans and sportswriters are, of course, whining endlessly about “bad calls” by the refs, which they do every time the Chargers lose a game. Interestingly, they never seem to be concerned about the performance of the refs when we win. My reaction is much the same as with the "few missed plays" nonsense; if we are outplaying the opponent those few (presumably) bad calls don't matter. We can shrug and move on.

The problem isn't "a few missed plays" or a couple of supposedly bad calls by the refs. The problem is that we didn't have enough good plays and enough scoring to make those few issues not matter. Go out and make 45 good, ground gaining plays and score 35 points, and we won't have to worry about one fumble we didn't recover, or one ref who supposedly can't see past the end of his nose.

A team wins games by playing well for the entirety of the game, not be the outcome of a few plays or based on one or two calls by the official.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Democratic Delusion

The extreme left is heavily divided on Hillary Clinton; divided by visions of “the first woman president,” or “the second Bill Clinton/Barack Obama,” or “omigod, not another dynasty.” They are not so divided on Elizabeth Warren, unanimously convinced that she simply must run; delivering utopian American governance and saving the United States, and the entire world, from the disaster of Republican rule.

None of them, apparently, have read her resume. A professor of economics who was appointed to help distribute the TARP money to the various “too big to fail” financial institutions, she was then appointed to oversee the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but not to actually run it, and was then elected to serve one term as United States Senator, where she has focused with limited success entirely on financial regulation.

You know, the White House also needs painting every couple of years, so why don’t we elect a really good painter as president?

Elizabeth Warren reveals the lack of breadth in her qualification every time she speaks in public. She is highly populist on economic matters, hates the big banks and Wall Street firms and speaks of them in disparaging tones at great length, but she has absolutely nothing to say on any other subject. If asked about Syria she changes the subject. If asked about Ukraine she dodges the question.

Having been an economics professor for far longer than she has been in politics, she may know a great deal about economics. I’m inclined to doubt it, because her rhetoric sounds to me like what she actually knows is how to appeal to the extreme left of the Democratic Party. To serve as President of the United States, however, one needs a great deal more experience on the national and international stage than this woman even pretends to have.

Elizabeth Warren should not run for president, and if she does run we should not take that run seriously.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ball Control Is Overrated

With one minute to play yesterday the Chiefs had controlled the ball for 39 minutes to only 19 minutes for the Chargers, so the score should have reflected a 2:1 margin; something like 20-10. It did not; the game was tied at 20 points each. The NFL does not determine the outcome of games by how long a team controls the ball on offense.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fear Mongering Flop

Knowledgeable pundits call it “threat exaggeration.” I call it fear mongering, and the corporate media is doing a relatively poor job of it recently with respect to ISIS, which is either a pharmaceutical company in Carlsbad CA that is almost certainly thinking of changing its name, or a terrorist/military organization that is attempting to form a state in Iraq and Syria.

Imagine the poor damned drug salesman who has to walk into a doctor’s office and cheerfully say to the receptionist, “Good morning, I’m Bill and I’m here from ISIS.” The corporate media is doing sufficient fear mongering for that to create a problem.

For a while last week they were trying to freak us out by “reporting” that ISIS had captured chemical weapons from the Syrian Army stockpiles where they had overrun Syrian positions. There were a couple of problems with that, one being that they had not recently overrun any Syrian positions, and the other being that the Obama administration had spent more than a year bragging about how we had confiscated 100% of Assad’s chemical weapons, leaving none for ISIS to capture. Soooo… They sort of had to let got of that little ploy.

Now they are hyperventilating about how someone, they don’t know who, is teaching ISIS how to fly three captured Syrian fighter jets, meaning that ISIS will now have an “air force.” This one is not going to fly either, pun intended, because even the civilian most ignorant of military affairs is rather quickly going to figure out that three fighter jets being flown by pilots who only learned to fly them last week is hardly much of a threat.

One has to wonder what the media’s next “discovery” will be.

Friday, October 17, 2014

And In Go The Reserves

Sort of confirming my Wednesday post, Obama has issued an executive order which authorizes calling up of selected Reserve units and members of the Individual Ready Reserve to active duty for use in the fight against Ebola. The Individual Ready Reserve consists of former active duty personell who have completed their tours of duty and left the service. They think they are finished with their service, but... It doesn't include me only because I am more than 55 years old.

This Is Getting Ridiculous

A student at Southwestern College told her teacher yesterday that she had missed class because a family member had been on the Frontier flight with America’s newest Ebola victim and that her sister had been hospitalized and her family quarantined pursuant to that contact. The outcome of that was that the student body was alarmingly warned and one building of the campus was sealed while each person in it was tested for symptoms. There was, of course, a major news freakout.

The most brief moment of reflection by anyone in authority would have prevented the alarm and confusion. The flight in question had occurred just five days earlier, far too soon for the girl’s sister to have developed symptoms, and the quarantine period after contact is three weeks. If the girl’s story was true, she would not have been allowed to return to school for at least two more weeks

All that the faculty member had to do was ask the student a few questions, perhaps make a quick phone call to the family at home, before screaming the alarm to the school population at large, and a great deal of trouble for everyone could have been prevented.

But of course the faculty member did what Americans always do today, which is shit in their pants at the slightest provocation. It is becoming very embarrassing to live in a nation of bedwetters.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Can Kicking To Win

Some time ago President Obama announced that the issue of immigration reform had become too difficult to handle and would be postponed until after the upcoming election. That’s the third time that particular can of worms has been kicked past an election, and I don’t know why he thinks it will be any easier to handle after this election that it proved to be after the last two. Being easier to handle later is not actually the point, of course, the point is merely not to “look bad” by failing prior to an election.

Another can is now being kicked past the election, but we have to hear about this one in the British media because the American media is studiously ignoring it. The Army has completed its investigation of the guy who was traded for five Guantanamo detainees, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who either deserted to the Taliban or was captured by them, depending on whose story you believe.

The results of the investigation will not be released until after the November elections, so I think it’s safe to say that Obama traded five Guantanamo detainees for a deserter, and the administration does not want that known prior to a mid-term election.

What’s interesting to me is that the administration actually uses the phrase “until after the election” these days. They used to be more subtle than that, but now they come right out and admit that they are politically maneuvering to influence the elections. Such is the level of power that those in government now hold; they no longer even need to pretend that we matter. The head of National Security lies to Congress and admits it on national television, and the administration openly admits that it is withholding information from the public which might influence their votes.

Benjamin Franklin said that we had a democracy if we could keep it. His thought was that it might be taken away from us, but we seem to have simply discarded it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

An Empty Barrel

Andrew Bacevich wrote a piece declaiming that our Army should be fighting wars, not fighting Ebola. My initial reaction was to think that I might disagree with him, because sending in the Army’s Corps of Engineers seemed to me like a reasonable method of rendering aid for the Ebola stricken area. That is what the Corps does; build hospitals to treat victims and roads as a way for the victims to reach that treatment.

Of course the command ranks of today’s Corp are so filled with careerist hacks that the proud organization that once built the Panama Canal would probably be incapable today of digging a drainage ditch for a crossroads in central Kansas, but we’ll disregard that and base our thoughts on the purpose of the Corps rather than its capability.

I realized, however, that in all my reading of “sending troops to Africa to help with the Ebola crisis,” I had seen absolutely no reference to the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Corps is seldom referred to simply as “troops.” So I embarked on a search, and it turns out that no one seems to know precisely what part of the army we are sending. Obama never says anything other than the generic “troops,” and news media uses other terms but is no more specific than that.

I found this article in the Army Times, but it is pretty incoherent. Apparently the Army does not teach writing, or perhaps the writer has prepared too many press briefings and has become a bit too fond of obfuscation. Actually, there are three authors, which might also explain the incoherence. At any rate, the first unit which we are told is being sent is the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), which put me back firmly in Andrew Bacevich’s camp that the Army should be fighting wars, not African viruses.

I have this mental picture of soldiers jumping out of C-130s and gunning down Ebola viruses as they land on the ground. Hopefully, they will have close air and artillery support.

Happily, we are sending 700 combat engineers of an unnamed unit, plus “an element” of the 1st Medical Brigade of III Corps and “dozens of Seabees.” Less obvious is the need for “multiple elements” of the 1st Armor Brigade and a “small element” of the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade. (The implication the III Corps has as many as 85 Civil Affairs brigades sort of freaks me out.)

Perhaps the 1st Armor Brigade elements are going to support the aerial assault made by the 101st Airborne when they find out where the Ebola troops are massed.

It seems our military is doing too many things in too many places, and when one more thing is added, when told to send a certain number of “troops” somewhere new, they have to resort to simply scraping up odds and ends off of the bottoms of all of the empty barrels that is the nature of our military today. They can’t be fussy about what type of soldier is suited to the purpose, they have to simply fill the body count as best they can.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How To Make A Decision

Bloomberg News informs us that Hillary Clinton is delighting prospective voters by saying, "I have a history with charismatic, attractive men who just wear me out.” They go on to describe her saying no to Obama's request to serve as Secretary of State repeatedly and then finally saying yes, and we now know that apparently it was because he is a "charismatic, attractive man" who she she just could not resist.

Bloomberg further tells us that this represents, "the Hillary Clinton who a lot of voters longed to see," which I think rather eloquently illustrates how fully and completely fubar is the state of the American electorate. If a male candidate said that his decisions could be, and frequently were, swayed by a pretty girl he would be laughed out of town. But when Hillary Clinton says the same thing, the reaction is to say that this is what was needed to complete her as the perfect candidate.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Well, Mississippi is Happy

Ole Miss defeated #3 Alabama, and Mississippi State put an absolute beat down on #6 Texas A&M. Two unranked teams from one state beating two top-ten teams on the same day. In all, five of the top eight teams, and 11 of 25, went down in flames. The AP rankings tomorrow will be interesting.

The LSU Tigers are rebuilding; are playing a lot of freshmen and will be fine when they mature. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Well, it might have a little bit to do with having hired Cam Cameron. I had reservations about that when it was announced.

Friday, October 03, 2014

"Don't Worry About Civilians"

We have been told repeatedly that when we fire Hellfire missiles at terrorists we first assure that there is a “virtual certainty” that no civilians are nearby to be killed or injured by the missile blast. Apparently the Obama administration defines “virtual certainty” somewhat differently than most people do, because the US says we have killed 2291 “militants” with these attacks and just under 300 civilians, which in itself doesn't seem much like the administration's "virtual certainty," while international investigations suggest we have killed as many as 2400 civilians.

Now that we are bombing in Syria and Iraq, however, the bombing standards have been loosened because we are “on a war footing,” despite the claim by the administration that because it employs nothing other than air power it is not a war and therefor does not require Congressional approval. Thus the rules of engagement have pretty much become, “Bombs away and don’t worry about civilians.”

Meanwhile, we have been castigating Assad and calling him inhumane for “killing his own people,” and so now we are going to go in and do it for him. It’s not okay for Assad to kill Syrian people while fighting ISIS, but it is okay for us to kill Syrian people while fighting ISIS. I would love to read the DOJ memo that provides the legal rationale for that one.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Wierd War

Glenn Greenwald has an article claiming that Obama’s newest terrorist threat, the “Khorasan network” which was bombed in Syria this week, is entirely fictional; something which the Obama administration made up to justify the air strikes against ISIS in Syria. His offers of proof strike me as more suggestive than probative, surprisingly so given that he is an attorney, but you can read his piece and decide for yourself.

I’m sympathetic to his argument, though, because when CBS Evening News first aired the dramatic expose of this dreaded new threat my first reaction was to think that it was certainly convenient in terms of timing. Just when Obama wants to start dropping bombs in Syria a deadly new terrorist threat turns up in, of all places, Syria.

Adding to my skepticism was that this new terror cell was hit with “eight air strikes,” which seemed like serious overkill for a bunch we are being told had been unknown only a few months ago. Even more bizarre was the claim that the strikes had hit, “training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building and command and control facilities.” This is a terror cell that we only discovered a few months ago?

The “explosives and munitions production facility” alone struck me as a bit much. An “explosives factory” I would have bought pretty readily, since drug gangs certainly have “drug factories” and explosives are to terrorists what drug are to gangs, but “munitions” in those factories as well? And what kind of terrorist cell has a “communications building,” let alone "command and control" facilities? I might have bought that we were bombing a new terrorist group, but the detailed description of precisely what we bombed clearly comes under the heading of “making shit up,” and casts a certain patina of doubt on the whole story. Sort of the Obama administration’s version of the Jessica Lynch rescue tale.

Adding to the doubt is that after the initial air strikes the “Khorasan network” has utterly and completely disappeared from the media blather.

This whole air war becomes more and more bizarre as time goes on. The battle is being desperately fought between good guys and bad guys, with the good guys begging for close air support, and we are bombing oil refineries. Really? And then it turns out we are bombing the wrong oil refineries, because the ones we bombed didn’t belong to ISIS after all. Why does that not surprise me?

Then we hear that our air forces have flown 4100 sorties, and have made 224 air strikes. Some of those sorties were refueling missions, but assuming that half of them were (which would be pathetic in itself), that means that 1826 odd times a fighter/bomber took off and flew around without doing anything; only about 10% of the missions made actual strikes. And we’re told that after just over a week, the air war against ISIS has already cost $1 billion.

That means that each air strike cost $4,464,285.75

Monday, September 29, 2014

We Need To Steer Our Own Ship

Bernie Sanders talks about “Citizens United” in an interview with Salon. Like many in the political discussion, he claims that it is the root cause of political polarization, that it is catastrophic for American governance, and that this nation cannot be governed until it is overturned.

“Yes. I am not unconfident that it will be overturned. And I’ll tell you why, because the vast majority of the American people do not agree with the Republican leadership that buying elections constitutes free speech. Very few people agree with that. So it’s not just progressives like me, it’s not just moderates, it is conservatives as well. We just put up something on our Facebook which came from Barry Goldwater talking about the same issue.

So the bottom line is, I think the vast majority of the American people believe that we need real campaign finance reform and that billionaires should not be allowed to buy elections.”

He then proceeds to debunk his own argument and embrace the claim that I have made many times, which is that the voting public can render “Citizens United” irrelevant by simply ignoring the television spot advertisements that the money pays for, letting the rich bastards waste their money as much as they want to, and voting as informed citizens.

“The answer is yes, and I’ll tell you what makes me optimistic: Neil Abercrombie is a friend of mine, [so] I’m not happy to tell you this. Neil is the governor of Hawaii. He outspent his opponent by 10 to 1, and he lost his primary bid by 2 to 1.

If you look at Eric Cantor: Eric Cantor had so much money he couldn’t even spend it, and as you know, he lost his primary bid. If you look at Andrew Cuomo, he ran against a candidate [Zephyr Teachout] who nobody knew, who had no money. She won half the counties in New York state in the recent primary. [Cuomo] had all the name recognition and all the money and she had very little.

So I think what we are seeing now is a profound anger at the corporate establishment, at the political establishment, at the media establishment. I think people want change. So to answer your question, yes, money is important, I don’t deny it for a moment. But I think people are paying less and less attention to ugly, 30-second ads and are prepared to hear from people who want real change in this country.”

Add to that list Carley Fiorina, who tried to purchase a Senate seat and Meg Whitman, who tried to purchase the governorship of the state of California in the 2010 election. Neither one of them even came within hand grenade distance of succeeding.

We need to get off of our fainting couches over this silly legal decision, quit demanding that the government take care of this issue for us, and simply take charge of our own damned government, as the constitution and existing laws fully permit us to do.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Death on the Dirt Track

For those of you who haven't heard, the New York State Grand Jury determined that Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges for the incident in which his car struck another driver who was out of his car and standing in the racing lane during a dirt track race. A factor contributing to their decision was that the driver who was killed had a level of marijuana in his blood which was "clearly sufficient to impair judgement."

Like alcohol, marijuana is legal in some places, but one should be aware that you use it at your own risk.