Friday, January 30, 2015

Omigod, The Concussions

There is an alarming article which points out that players in the NFL suffered 111 concussions this past season. While I would certainly prefer that no players suffered any concussions, the awesomeness of that horrendous number of concussions needs to be put into proportion.

There are 32 teams in the NFL, and each team plays sixteen games. For each game, 22 players are on the field for the game; not the same 22, but there will be 11 defensive players and 11 offensive players who will "man the battle" during the game. A football game is sixty minutes long, so a little simple math says that there are 11,264 man-hours of football played during the season. That means that a concussion happens every 101.5 man-hours or, since 22 man-hours are played per game, once every 4.6 games.

That means that there is a 21.7% chance that a concussion will occur during the upcoming Super Bowl, and for each player the risk is slightly under 1%.

Not wonderful, but hardly "Omigod, 111 concussions."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Never Forget?

I have watched this week, and been deeply moved by, the film clips of survivors of Auschwitz returning on the 70th anniversary of their liberation to visit that place of horror. What must that be like for them? Their faces don’t show much, and they show so little anger when they speak. There is a nobility in those aged faces that suggests they are beyond anger and have reached something stronger and more enduring. The pain can still be seen, though; nothing can erase that.

Never forget. What does that mean? To me it means that the people of a nation must be aware of and responsible for every action taken by its government, and by that standard we have already forgotten. We accept the thousands killed in wars fought based on lies; the Afghan wedding parties slaughtered by Hellfire missiles fired from drones; the innocent bystanders tortured in Guantanamo

Immensely fewer innocents than the holocaust, but we are not speaking out against the killing of innocent people. Tell me how that ends.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Breaking: Inflationgate

Headline at Huffington Post reads "Employee seen taking balls into bathroom." They really need to hone their headline writing skills. I would certainly hope that the employee would not attempt to go into the bathroom and leave his balls behind. That would be painful. I guess one has to be a guy to jump to certain conclusions.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Seriously?

I haven't watched the Pro Bowl (or is it Probowl?) for years, but chanced upon it while flipping channels last night. Did they really make the uniforms for one side gray and white, and the uniforms for the other side black and white? Why would they do that? Is it a tacit admission of how boring the whole exercise in futility has become?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pot Calls Kettle An Idiot

Economist Dean Baker praised economist Paul Krugman last Thursday for ridiculing billionaire Jeff Greene, who Baker said richly deserved to be ridiculed for saying that people “need to get used to lower living standards,” which isn't actually precisely what he said.

Once again proving that economists are stupid as a bag of hammers when it comes to anything other than playing with and manipulating numbers which have dollar signs in front of them.

What Greene actually said was, “America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence." (Which is hardly a "lower living standard.") He goes on to say that, "We need to reinvent our whole system of life.” (emphasis mine)

He makes a lot more sense than does either Krugman or Baker, both of whom cheerfully endorse an economy which consumes twice as much as it produces and which maintains an annual net trade deficit of staggering proportion as a result. Baker occasionally gives lip service to the evils of the trade deficit, but continues to support consumer consumption as the basis of our economy, which actually makes him even more unmoored from reality than is Krugman.

Greene is simply acknowledging that a population of 350 million people cannot live as lavishly as can one of 200 million, because resources and infrastructure simply do not permit. Baker, Krugman and everybody else in public life have buried their heads in the sand and refused to see this simple fact, assuming that resources, energy in particular, and infrastructure are limitless and can accommodate an endlessly growing society.

It is as plain as the print on the front page of our daily newspaper that such is not the case. Our economy is not working. It has not been working for decades; has been failing repeatedly, failing bigger each time and recovering more slowly and less thoroughly. We can’t fix it by simply doing more of what we have been doing or trying to do it on a bigger scale, and we can’t continue to pretend that what we are doing is working, as economists and politicians want to do. We have to come up with something different.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Raising Tax Inequality?

The San Diego newspaper (well, it looks like a newspaper until you read it), which bears the rather weird name of U-T San Diego, had a headline on the front page yesterday which read, “Obama plan raises tax inequality.” The article itself does suggest, in a meandering and indirect way, that some people like the plan because they think that taxing the rich is good, while others dislike the plan because they are rich and don’t want to pay more taxes.

The headline is, I suppose, making some sort of ignorant and misguided counter to talk of “income inequality,” and the writer of it is unaware that our income tax system is, and has been since its inception, a progressive income tax, based on the principle that taxes should be levied on each citizen based on ability to pay.

Over the years various corrupt politicians have made the tax less and less progressive, and Obama’s proposal is to take a timid and utterly inadequate step toward restoring the progressive nature of the tax. His plan should, indeed, be criticized; not for “raising tax inequality,” forsooth, but for doing far too little to restore the progressiveness of our income tax and for his monstrously idiotic plan to “make corporate taxes more competitive,” which is Obama-speak for reducing them.

The U-T San Diego should be used exclusively for starting fires in your fireplace or for lining garbage cans, bird cages, and cat litter boxes.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Big Speech

I saw the event described as the, “Annual Monarchist Ritual To Acclaim U.S. Hypocrisy,” which I thought was slightly hyperbolic but not altogether inapt. It does bring to mind the seemingly hours-long process of presidential entry into the hall, with all and sundry fawning over his presence and frantically attempting to touch the royal robe.

Everyone who has mentioned it has loved Obama’s comment about “I have no more campaigns to run,” but I have not seen one remark about the open and utterly corrupt cynicism which is embodied in that comment. This is the first time I have ever heard a politician openly admit that winning campaigns is more important than governing “for the people,” which is precisely what he is saying. He has not advocated this sort of legislation before because winning campaigns was more important to him, and he is doing so now only because he has no more campaigns to prevent him from doing the right thing.

One also has to wonder why, if he “has no more campaigns to run,” he has been headlining at fundraisers on an almost weekly basis.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inflation Gate

It's perfectly reasonable to despise the New England Patriots. It's perfectly reasonable to be disappointed, even modestly angry, when they win a playoff game.
It is utterly insane to accuse them of tampering with
the fucking footballs.

Comedy Devolves Into Farce

Sony pictures is hacked and the government almost immediately announces that they know, have proof in fact, that North Korea did it and that the purpose was to prevent the release of a movie mocking the North Korean leader. The train of thought appears to be that North Korea is a terrorist state and therefor emulates radical Islam by threatening death to parties mocking their leader.

The “proof” is offered by the same FBI which once proudly announced the arrest of a man for attempting to blow up the Mackinack Bridge in Michigan, only to find out that he had no explosives because the only thing he was actually doing was bootlegging cell phones.

Anyway, professional computer companies examine the FBI proof of North Korea’s guilt in the Sony hack and say that it is doubtful that it proves anything of the sort. They reveal that the initial demand had nothing to do with the silly movie at all, but was an attempt to extort money and they suggest that they suspect a disgruntled former employee.

The government responds by standing its ground and claiming that some of its proof is too secret to release. The secret proof is more thorough, they say, than that which is being debunked by computer professionals, but we will have to trust them because disclosing it cannot be done for national security reasons. Just to prove how serious we are about this, though we are issuing sanctions against North Korea for hacking us.

That did not put the issue to rest because apparently we don't actually trust them all that much. The computer companies continue to say that they just don’t think the hack looks like North Korea, raising some pretty good points to support their contentions.

So here comes the FBI, who just won’t give up on this, saying that we know it was North Korea who hacked Sony because we hacked them first. We had, it seems, installed spyware in North Korea’s computers and were actually watching them hack Sony, and we know they did it because we were watching them do it.

Well, no, that would raise the question of why did we not stop them, so the FBI admits that our spyware did not see the actual hack of Sony but did see other things which lead to proof that the Sony hack came from the same computers. Unfortunately for the FBI, that’s not how spyware works, but we won’t go into that here.

Just the supposed fact that we hacked them first is ironic enough. How can we be quite so outraged at them hacking us if we did it to them first? The image of James Comey standing at the podium in high dudgeon over North Korea’s invasion of our computer networks and saying that he knows they did it because we invaded their networks first is simply beyond belief.

Germany, England and other allies have not yet raised the question that, if we have planted spyware in one government’s computer system, have we done the same in the computer systems of their nations as well? That question will arise, and when it does, things are going to get very, very awkward.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Yes" Means What?

Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Sunday a bill known as the “yes means yes” bill that the legislature claims will significantly reduce rapes on the campuses of our state. Because if you have a social problem, you definitely heed a new law.

The law requires "an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision" by each party to engage in sexual activity, which is about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Imagine, if you can, two college students, both of them intoxicated, trying to arrive at an “affirmative, unambiguous and conscious mutual decision" about anything.

Respect for others, men for women, or for that matter respect regardless of gender, is disappearing from our culture, so we pass laws trying to cure that illness. It won’t work any more than an ice-water bath will work to cure pneumonia. The fever is not what kills a pneumonia patient, it is but a symptom, and passing a law that requires that he has to get a woman to audibly say “yes” does not teach a man to respect women.

Nor does such a silly law protect the woman if she is herself intoxicated, since an intoxicated person is by definition unable to give an “unambiguous and conscious decision,” and why should women in college be any less free to imbibe alcohol than are men?

And don’t give me the “he should have known that she was drunk” nonsense. Not if he was drunk himself, and it is perfectly possible for a person to be sufficiently intoxicated to be incapable of informed consent and to show no outward sign of it whatever. It is not, in fact, even a particularly rare condition

I’m not sure how pervasive the problem actually is in any case. I’m not questioning its seriousness, but Twitter blows things out of proportion. For a while the world was afire with passion about the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. They were never rescued and that crisis continued unabated, but it disappeared when the Ebola virus erupted and the world set out to cure that dread disease and succor people affected by it. Ebola is not cured and people are still suffering, but then Ray Rice slugged his girlfriend in front of an elevator camera and so now we are all about violence against women. Until the next sensational event occurs. Twitter rules to a degree that we pass laws based on its current trends.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Picking the Playoffs

Picking the Seahawks is pretty easy. Green Bay possibly could beat them in the 12th man stadium, but they won't.

I am, however, going to go against the odds and pick the Colts to win in New England. The Patriots only rushed for 14 yards last week, and the Colts defense is as good against the run as the Ravens. More to the point, the Colts will play pass defense, which the Ravens did not.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Now That Was Poise

Give up four turnovers, three of them entirely unforced, surrender 13 points of a 14 point lead, and then march down the field from your own three yard line for a touchdown. Follow that up by holding your opponent scoreless while scoring two more touchdowns. That was impressive.

Immediately after he scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak, Cardale Jones was on the sideline slapping the shoulder pads of and congratulating each and every one of his offensive linemen. That was a very classy thing to do, and I decided right then that I would be quite happy if Ohio State won the game.

Win it they did, and it was a well deserved win. The announcers kept commenting that Oregon was in trouble with long third down situations because their game depended on deception, on making the opponent think they were going to do one thing while they actually did something else. Ohio State's game was one of execution and precision. Their plays were not complex, and they ran the same running play repeatedly. Oregon knew what was coming, but Ohio State executed the play with such precision and physicality that Oregon was simply unable to do anything to stop it. Shades of Vince Lombardi, and it was fun to watch.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Football Notes

I did not enjoy watching Denver lose yesterday, but I very much did enjoy watching the Colts play real live honest to God pass defense. The secondary got right in the grill of the Denver recievers and said to them, "I am not going to let you catch a pass. Be it one yard or twenty, if you are going to catch a pass, you are going to have to go through me." Which is why Manning completed only 9 of his first 22 passes, and finished the game with a paltry 200 yards passing on the day. Wrong team won, but it was a good game.

I also did not enjoy watching the Patriots win, especially given that they did so as a result of the Ravens' choice not to play pass defense at all. The secondary lined up eight yards off the line of scrimmage and stood there like house plants, allowing any pass of less than eight yards to be completed uncontested. Being stationary, they frequently were in no position to do anything more that shout curses at the receivers who galloped past them after the catch, turning eight yard passes into twenty yard gains.

This scheme was, of course, for the purpose of being sure that they did not "give up the big one," but they still managed to surrender a 51-yard touchdown pass that was not even thrown by Tom Brady. It was thrown by a pass receiver who they were deliberately not covering and was caught by another receiver who they were inadvertantly not covering. Awesome.

With 14 yards rushing and passing that was gifted by the Ravens, the Patriots' game was a travesty.

Carolina was simply beaten by a better team, which is hard to argue given that they entered the playoffs with a record of 7-8-1. I don't think we need to go into much detail on that one.

I didn't care who won in Green Bay. I wanted both teams to lose and knew that wasn't going to happen, so I rooted for whichever team was behind and enjoyed the hits on the quarterbacks that left them limping and hobbling around. Both quarterbacks walked off the field intact and one team won, so the game was a bit of a disappointment.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Feline Follies

Molly
I woke up last night from a dream which I only vaguely recall, having to do with battling for territory, only to realize that I was in reality fighting with the damn cat for possession of the bed. I was sort of perched on the edge, while Molly was holding the more desirable soft ground in the center.

Efforts to dislodge her were not as easy as one might think. She weighs only slightly over eight pounds, but was doing the feline thing of altering gravity and behaving much like a black hole of essentially infinite mass. There is a law of cat physics to the effect that a cat’s weight is inversely proportional to it’s state of alertness, and cats can reach infinitely low levels of alertness. Or they can rise from the dead like the gods that they think they are.

Not only can they alter mass, but they can transmogrify their bodies such that picking them up is much like trying to pick up a ninety pound mass of warm Jell-O. You pick up the front half, to which they offer no resistance whatever, and the back half remains on the bed, seemingly not connected to the front half but somehow managing to serve as a highly effective anchor for it.

We got things sorted out, but she was back to sleep before I was.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

35 Degrees, Forsooth

One of the dogwalkers who pass my window every morning was wearing earmuffs this morning. Earmuffs. Even the dog looked cold. "Do my business in this? You have to be kidding. Do you know about newspapers in the house?" Some people are walking really fast, either to generate heat or to get it over with, while others look like their blood has congealed. A few regulars have not even showed up, so apparently they do know about newspapers in the house. Or are just telling their dogs to suck it up until it gets warmer - mid-afternoon perhaps..

San Diegans do not deal well with anything below 60 degrees.

Monday, December 29, 2014

They Are Who I thought They Were

The Chargers season ended, not with a bang, as the saying goes, but with a whimper; scoring a whopping seven points while losing to another non-playoff team. U-T San Diego writers are bleating endlessly about injuries, of course, but it should be pointed out that the Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl with no fewer than eight of their starting players on injured reserve.

One might also ask why the Chargers have incurred all of those injuries. Could it have to do, perhaps, with players being in night clubs on Friday nights flinging champagne bottles drunkenly across the room? That does not, I believe do much for physical conditioning, and when have we seen the Chargers ever play a full 60 minutes of hard, physical football?

The Chargers, I believe have had for many years an attitude problem. They have too many players, not all of them, but too many who are more interested in being celebrities than they are in being professional football players, and that attitude is tolerated by the team’s management. Winning teams do not keep players who are in night clubs on Friday night when there is a Sunday game.

The Chargers are a team of celebrities, and as long as management tolerates that this is what you will get. They will continue to be pretty boys in pretty powder blue uniforms who cannot win the games that count.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Drivers License, Please

California has some 900 new laws going into effect later this week (first of the year), including one that permits illegal aliens to obtain drivers licenses so that they “can drive in this state legally.” Without commenting on the immigration issue, the illogicality of California laws sometimes staggers the imagination.

First of all, if one cannot be here legally, how can one drive here legally? I guess a certain amount of hair splitting can be done to make that meet a degree of logic, but it gets nuttier if you dig deeper into what this new drivers license is.

If you are a legal resident of California you have to provide an original birth certificate, a copy will not do, or a passport in order to obtain a drivers license. If you are illegal you merely have to show something with an address. That’s because the illegal’s license is stamped with a disclaimer saying that the license “cannot be used for identification.”

If it cannot be used for identification, how can it be used as a drivers license? How does a traffic officer know that you are not handing him a document which says that someone else is licensed to drive, since this cannot be used to identify that you are, in fact, you? He could look at the picture, but the license itself instructs him not to do that.

He can’t check the license against the registration to see if you are, maybe, driving a stolen car, because the license does not tell him who you are. It tells him only that, whoever you are, you are allowed to drive, presumably because you posses the license regardless of your actual identity.

Presumably, if you give the license to your cousin Dimitri, it would permit him to drive too, and the fact that he is six inches taller than you, outweighs you by ninety pounds and is not female while you are would not present a problem because cops are not permitted to use the card for identification.

The anomalies are not caused by California, of course, they are caused by the federal “RealID” program which California had to circumvent in order to issue licenses to illegals. Many states simply refused to comply with the federal program which creates a national identification card at state expense, but California was not one of them.

I don’t think we should have a national identification card, and I don’t think the states should have been forced to pay for it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Interview

Is this the silliest news furor ever in this nation, or what? A grade B, unfunny, sophomoric “comedy” slated for limited release in minor theaters, which winds up with the president of the United States complaining that the studio did not consult with him before they cancelled its release, and then says he is pleased that the release is being restored so that “the American people can make their own choices.”

So, one week Obama is engaging in statesmanship of the magnitude of restoring diplomacy with Cuba after decades of useless embargo, and the next week he is engaged with the release of a stupid movie aimed at a fifteen-year-old audience. Is this guy serious?

And now, evoking memories of Bush administration claims of WMDs in Iraq, CBS Evening News tells us that a professional computer security company, more than one actually, has refuted Obama’s assertion that North Korea is the certain culprit for the Sony hack, and suggests that it may have been done by a disgruntled former employee, reporting that the first hack was an attempt to extort money. Awesome.

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.