Thursday, July 19, 2018

Media "Events"

If you would like to know what actually happened at the Helsinki press conference, rather than just what the media is screaming about, you can read the transcript here.

Unlike Trump’s response to the question about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which was muddled and not particularly on point, Putin’s was clear, concise and very much on point, beginning with, “We should not rely on the momentary political interests of some internal political forces in our countries but on facts. Tell me at least one fact that proves collusion during the election campaign in the United States. This is total nonsense.”

No double talk or evasion there. He goes on to say, “We heard accusations against the company Concord. As I understand it, this company hired American lawyers, and the accusations against it just fell apart in a US court. Just follow what happens in US courts. This is what you should base your view on, not on rumors.”

Of course the media is not quoting Putin, because he says things that make sense. And, by the way, his statement about the accusations against Concord is completely factual. Yes, we should judge people based on what happens in a court, but we no longer do. If a man is accused of “sexual misconduct,” for instance, his life is ruined by the mere accusation. Trial in court and conviction is not necessary.

The media is outraged that Putin suggested that Mueller come to Russia to cooperate with Russian authorities in questioning the twelve persons named in the latest indictment. They don’t, of course, mention the part of that suggestion in which Putin says, “There is the Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1999.”

Nor do they quote where he says,”…this has proven effective. We initiate up to 150 legal proceedings in Russia at the request of other countries.”

The media did not mention Putin’s comments that in return for that cooperation, and pursuant to that treaty, Russia might expect American assistance with investigation of an American hedge fund which, “…illegally made over $1.5 billion in Russia, did not pay taxes either in Russia or the United States, but transferred this money to the United States,” and, “contributed $400 thousand to Ms. Clinton’s election campaign.”

Obviously the media did not quote his statement about having “grounds to suspect that US intelligence officers supported these illegal transactions.”

The reporter then insisted that Trump be very specific in calling Putin a liar on the international stage right then and there which was, at best, disrespectful to both leaders. “Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?”

Trump sort of waffled, drawing great howls of outrage from the media. Putin rather blatantly insulted the media, which of course is not quoting him. “Is the United States a democratic state? If so, then the final ruling in a dispute of this kind can only be made in court, not an intelligence service.” He made this same point earlier, and was ignored.

He then wonders why we are so worried about interference in our elections. “You have many people, including those with major billion-dollar fortunes, such as Mr Soros. He interferes everywhere he can.” Well, we’re certainly not going to pursue that issue.

Interestingly, Putin has the rather bizarre idea that we should treat Russia as a sovreign nation, and not as a domestic political football. "We can expand this cooperation, as I already mentioned, but only on a reciprocal basis. … Let's discuss these matters in substance rather than use Russia-US relations as a bargaining chip in the domestic political strife in the United States.”

The person who asked that question, of course, had no follow-up.

My favorite answer of the evening was to the “reporter” who asked if Putin had some damaging information on Trump which he could use to control him. “It is hard to imagine bigger nonsense," Putin replied. "Please get this rubbish out of your head.”

A Sense of Community

The Thai football team has kind of touched my heart since they have returned to public after being rescued from that cave. Their display of reverence for the retired Marine who lost his life in the rescue operation is remarkable. Every one of the boys have expressed gratitude for his sacrifice, a sense of the debt that they owe to him, and knowledge of the suffering that they have caused to his family. It does them and their culture much credit.

The coach said that he “will live my life very carefully” to assure that the man’s death was not in vain. Wow.

The whole group has talked about their sense of the difficulty that their plight caused for their families, their community, and for all who participated in rescuing them. It is profoundly moving to see a group of young people who have such a strong sense of being part of a greater whole.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ineptitude Increases

Further displaying its position as the most inept “special investigation” in the history of this nation, Mueller & Company included in the charge that the twelve criminals they were charging are, “members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military."

That’s sort of like saying that the FBI is an investigation agency within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

GRU are the initials of the Russian words for “Main Intelligence Directorate,” so the GRU is not within the Main Intelligence Directorate, the GRU is the Main Intelligence Directorate.

Further, in 2010 the name of the Russian agency in question was changed to Intelligence Directorate and has been known since then as the GU.

So Mueller & Company are saying that the meddling in our election was directed by Putin because the people who did it presently work for a Russian government agency that has not existed, at least not under the name that they use, for eight years.

And we are supposed to be taking these clowns seriously?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mortification Continues

So, another 12 Russian individual citizens have been indicted by Mr. Mueller for “engaging in a ‘sustained effort’ to hack Democrats' emails and computer networks.” Because, apparently, our Justice Department believes that Russian citizens are subject to American laws. They do not make clear why they believe that to be the case.

The Deputy Attorney General informs us that, "There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result," so they are not only filing indictments under American laws against persons who are not subject to those laws, they are doing so because nothing happened.

And, of course, they make this announcement the eve of the President of this nation meeting with Vladimir Putin. If you think that is a coincidence, then I would like to talk to you about making a deal on a very nice bridge in Brooklyn.

I am, at this point, profoundly embarrassed to be a citizen of this nation.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Transmogrification

Molly
Molly was just hanging out, being cool and purring on my desk, when a bird landed in the tree just outside the window. She instantly was on her feet and at the window, belly low to the ground, head thrust forward, ears back and exhibiting all of the frenetic motion of a chunk of granite.

In less than one second she had gone from being this adorable little fuzzy toy to the prototype of a predator. Dogs can’t do that. Even at their most playful, dogs show evidence of what they are. Cats, however, look so cuddly and peaceful at rest, and yet they are in reality one of nature’s most efficiently designed predators, and they can go from one to the other in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Here We Go Again

Another “initiative” is apparently headed to San Diego’s fall ballot, this one painting with a rather broad brush in planning to fund a convention center expansion, benefit the city’s homeless population, and fund repairs to our deteriorating streets by raising the hotel tax by 3.35%. Note that is a 35% increase of the existing 10.5% tax on hotel rooms.

Politicians are very proud of this one, coining the phrase, “Visitors pay, and San Diegans benefit.” Lovely. Perish the thought that San Diegans should actually pay for their own road repairs and civic infrastructure.

I have an idea. Let’s raise the hotel tax to 85% and eliminate local taxes altogether, so that visitors could pay for things like trash pickup.

Raising the hotel tax is not going to reduce tourism, because Anaheim has a 15% hotel tax. Right. Anaheim also has Disneyland. We are not by any means the only town with Pacific beaches. San Diego County alone has eight.

All kidding aside, this mania of “we want to have nice things and we want someone else to pay for them” is a national mantra which, to me, amounts to a very real sickness; a sense of entitlement to unearned wealth which is weakening us as a nation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Overt Media Bias

The CBS affiliated local news ran a very strange piece last night about a woman and her daughter who incurred injuries while riding on a rented motorized scooter on a Mission Beach boardwalk. The piece painted the two as some sort of innocent victims of some horrible misfeasance because the company which rented them the scooter allowed them to “ride along the Mission Beach boardwalk last Friday” and caused them to have an accident in which “they collided with pedestrians.”

The pedestrians with whom the motorized scooter collided were not mentioned in the piece, other than as objects which got hit by the motorized scooter, and were not interviewed for the news item. News 8 did not consider them to be victims, and was not interested either in their fate or viewpoint of the incident.

The father/husband, who was not present, admitted that the two females “were sharing a scooter and not wearing a helmet,” both violations, but defended them by saying that, “They're not from here they don't know the history of this issue. They just did what everybody else is doing.”

I can’t tell you how many times my parents asked me when I was a kid that if everybody else was jumping off a ten story building would I do the same just because they were. When I was growing up children were not raised to become lemmings, but apparently today they are.

The victims, here, are the pedestrians who were hit by the idiots riding the scooter. The riders were not victims, as portrayed by News 8, they were idiots who were engaging in thoughtless and reckless behavior. The rental company was derelict in failing to provide proper safety notices, such as the need to wear helmets, but that was not really covered in the news piece.

News 8 is doing what the media considers to be it’s mission today, pushing a legislative agenda, in this case regulating these motorized scooters and/or banning them from boardwalks. The news item begins, in fact, by placing the event merely as prelude to the demand for legislation, stating that, “A man whose child and ex-wife were seriously injured in a scooter crash over the weekend on Monday called for a boardwalk ban.”

The man, ex-wife and daughter all live in Arizona, by the way, so News 8 wants to assist people from out of state to come here and tell us how to run our city.
I don’t think so.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Is NASCAR Dying?

I think probably it is. I don't know how many people were watching Sunday's race at Sonoma on television, but the lack of people in the stands was simply stunning. In years past when I have watched that race, the stands were filled and there were crowds of people watching on the hillsides. Yesterday there was not one person on any hillside and the stands were, perhaps, 10% filled. Can't blame the weather; it was 72 degrees and not a cloud in sight.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Good Thinking

Just a few years ago a gas line owned and operated by PG&E blew up, destroying several dozen homes and killing eight people. The pipeline was not particularly old and was of steel construction, but was found to be improperly manufactured and PG&E was found criminally responsible.

This year SDG&E applied to the California Public Utilities for permission to replace 400 miles of gas pipeline which is seventy years old and is of cast iron construction. The plan calls for the new pipeline to be 30" in diameter, greatly increasing the capacity of the 16" diameter original. The CPUC denied the application, saying that the new pipeline "is not necessary."

Question. Who will be held responsible if the 70-year-old cast iron pipeline fails and causes damage, injury or death? The title of this post is, in case you didn't pick up on it, snark.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Well, That Was Brutal

Only four players under par in round one today, and only by a single stroke. That course is tough on a good day, and when the wind is up... Yikes. Lefty hit 14 of 15 fairways and still wound up +7, which totally beggars the imagination.

Another post which is not important and, probably, not particularly interesting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Serendipity

I was at the grocery store and went to the coffee aisle, heading directly to where the Peet's was and glommed a package of Major Dickason's Blend whole beans just as I realized the person stocking the shelf was not wearing a grocery store uniform. She was wearing a Peet's Coffee uniform and she highly approved of my choice.

I realize this is not a highly important post. Just one of life's nice little moments.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Insanity Prevails

Outrage is hitting new heights on the Richter scale over immigrant children being separated from their parents at the southern US border. The implication is that this first started happening just a few months ago at the express order of the Trump administration.

The problem with this narrative is that US law requires that all people attempting to enter the US without entry documentation be stopped from doing so, and that they be detained until their request for asylum can be adjudicated by a court. That has been the law for many years. Further, since 2012, during the Obama administration, it has been illegal to detain children in adult detention facilities.

So all of this towering outrage is about something that has been going on for no less than six years. Not only that, but all of the screaming is to demand that the Trump administration stop doing what it is doing, that is to say complying with laws passed by Congress, and no one is demanding that Congress change the laws.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Premature Victory Laps

I’m trying to figure out why California Democrats are celebrating. No, they didn’t get “locked out” of any of the open Republican US House districts, but neither did they lock out Republicans in any of the open Democratic US House districts. In every race where Republicans are running for reelection, the Republican won with sufficient margins to indicate pretty certain reelection, and in Republican districts with no incumbent candidate the Republican candidate appears not to be in any trouble.

Based on California, Democrats could take over the US House, statistically, but the vote counts certainly do not indicate that they are likely to.

Nor did Democrats lock Republicans out of the gubernatorial race. In fact, the race is much closer than was predicted, and portends a pretty sizeable Republican turnout in the general election. It also leaves Gavin Newsome well short of “shoo in” status for the mansion in Sacramento.

Republicans were locked out of the US Senate race, but so what. They were locked out in the last US Senate race as well, and will be in the next one too. This is, after all, California. In my opinion Democrats suffered a bit of a setback this time in that one of the Democratic candidates for the US Senate is a male. It would be intolerable to the Democratic Party if he won, but there is little chance of that, despite the fact that Dianne Feinstein is actually a Republican in all political principles that actually matter to the nation, because none of those principles matter to the Democratic Party.

I don’t know why Democrats want Trump and/or Republican control of Congress gone, anyway. The stock market is at an all time high. Home prices are higher than they were in 2007, but this time we are told that’s a good thing. Interest rates are rising, which is great for retirement accounts and savings. Employment is at a seven year low and still dropping. Wages are starting to show signs of increasing. Higher minimum wages are passing everywhere. The trade deficit is at a seven year low. Women’s power in politics, in the marketplace, and in the justice system is not just increasing, it is rising like an Elon Musk Falcon 9 rocket. Marijuana is being legalized in more and more states. We’ve won the war in Syria, and Afghanistan apparently doesn’t exist any more. We are making peace with North Korea.

What do we gain by changing government party? If it’s about Trump's bad language, I don’t care. I served in the Navy and rough language doesn’t bother me, and using the bathroom of choice is not something that I consider of vital national security importance.

Memories

CBS News did a retrospect last night on the "last train trip" of Robert Kennedy. It was a nice piece. I enjoyed the memories it evoked of RFK and of how the people of this nation thought of him, and I enjoyed hearing the voice of Harry Reasoner. Perhaps the highlight, for me, was that the train was powered by a GG-1; an electric locomotive with a very special history all of its own.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Amusing

Economists and business writers are all screaming about the impending economic disaster and utter stupidity of Trump's imposition of import tariffs, and fail to notice that the US international trade deficit just fell to a seven month low.

In case you don't know it, that creates an increase in the GDP.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Repeated Drivel Abounds

Dean Baker has a couple of little mindless refrains that he chants repeatedly, one of which strikes me as petty, shallow and nitpicking, the other of which seems to reveal a very real lack of ability in critical thinking.

The first is his penchant for accusing journalists of “mind reading” when they report what various public figures of organizations think. He does so today, accusing the Washington Post of mind reading for its headline that, “Trump thinks he's saving trade. The rest of the world thinks he's blowing it up.”

He retorts with, “I will assert that the Post has no idea what Trump actually thinks,” which is to accuse them of living in a cave in Outer Mongolia, since Trump has stated repeatedly that he believes he is saving trade. I think Trump is nuts, but one does not have to agree with Trump to be willing to say that he believes what he says he believes, so I will counter Dean Baker by asserting that the Post is aware of what Trump is saying and has a very reasonable assumption for believing that it knows what Trump believes.

Baker could have asserted that the Post has no idea what “the rest of the world” believes, as that part of the Post's statement encompasses an overly broad, grandiose and unknowable scope of knowledge, but he did not have sufficient wit to make that reasonable accusation.

The second is, of course, his constant refrain in response to any talk of a labor shortage, which is that there are plenty of laborers out there who are, “working for your competitors,” so all you have to do is pay higher wages to hire them away from away from your competitors. He never admits that this “solution” solves nothing, merely moving the labor shortage from one employer to another.

This is the kind of drivel that economists thrive on these days.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Feline Anatomy

According to Darby Conley, author of the comic strip "Get Fuzzy," cats do not "throw up." (My wife might argue that point. What Molly does certainly looks to her like throwing up.) According to Darby, cats "practice selective digestion" and "gastro liberate" any unwanted "calorie free" food. Apparently they are related to owls in some abstruse manner.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Just Deserts

Every time I respond to complaints about government by reminding the complainer of the phrase “government of the people, by the people,” and that voters are governed by the people whom they knowingly elect, I get rejoinders to the effect of, “but, but, but…” and excuses why voters are not really at fault.

Dianne Feinstein wonderfully makes my point for me. There is every reason in the world why she should have no chance whatever for reelection in this “summer of discontent” with opinions of Congress running at 85% disapproval, hatred of “the rich” at an all time high, and overwhelming disgust with the governmental “establishment.”

Feinstein has been in the Senate for 25 years, is presently 85 years old and would therefor be 92 by the time she finished an upcoming Senate term and, being worth upwards of $100 million and married to a man who is worth billions, is very much a member of the despised “one percent.”

Her voting record is very clear, voting in favor of spying on the American public, extension of the Patriot Act, continuation of FISA and immunity for the telecom industry, and always voting against any curtailment of military spending. She has voted against all forms of strong encryption in electronic communication, opposed single payer health care, and has supported multi-billion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia. She has consistently voted in favor of legislation that has funneled billions of dollars into her husband’s businesses.

By every standard that the vast majority of California voters claim are important to them, Dianne Feinstein should be getting overwhelmingly defeated in the US Senate primary, but the opposite is happening. By all polls at this point, she is receiving 42% to 50% of the vote. Another Dem, Kevin de Leon, is receiving 16% to 24% (roughly half of her leavings), and no one else is receiving enough of the vote to be of any significance.

For those who don't know it, California has an open primary so all voters, Democrat, Republican and miscellaneous, vote in the one primary election.

Clearly, what the voters say they want from their legislators has nothing whatever to do with how they vote and/or they are utterly uninformed as to who they are voting for. In either case, the American voter is getting precisely the government it deserves.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

In Transition

The United States is in transition between forms of government at this point, and has been since Nixon really, from a country governed by the Congress to one governed by an Imperial President. Obama made the largest incremental step in that transition when he made the statement that, "if Congress does not act then I will," and began issuing executive orders which directly contradicted laws passed and/or rejected by Congress.

Congress is finally waking up to the fact that it gave away more power than it meant to give to an Imperial Presidency and is trying to stage a coup against the current President by using the media, for the most part, and by distracting the public with domestic social issues. So, while the branches of government wage war with each other for control of government, a war which the Judicial branch has now illogically joined, the country is essentially ungovernable.

This results externally in an inability to make agreements with other nations and an equally ineffective military posture, and internally with ever increasingly open warfare between classes, ethnicities and genders, stoked by liberals in the guise of "social policy." We may be lucky enough to emerge from this without another civil war, but not if Democrats win control of Congress and impeach the sitting President as is their current plan.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Danica Does Not Disapoint

Danica started seventh in the Indianapolis 500 today and, while running 17th on lap 168, crashed while running by herself. Bestwick said that it would, "in no way detract from her legacy as a race driver." Indeed. Advancing to the rear and crashing unassisted are what she did best.

In all fairness, these cars are a handful, and quite a few other drivers crashed without assistance, including Bourdais, Castroneves and Kanaan, all of whom have won the Indy 500 one or more times. That didn't detract from my enjoyment in watching her do it.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Vehicles Searched?

From Google news feed today.
news
The headline doesn't say whom they expect to have no regrets.

And it turns out the vehicles which may be searched are those driven by fans entering the race grounds on race day, but that is not the image that popped into my feverish little mind.  I imagined TSA putting on rubber gloves and searching the race cars in front of a grandstand filled with 300,000 impatient fans. Imagine the reaction.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

538 Ways To Blow It

An organization calling themselves “FiveThirtyEight” has been considered to be the holy grail of political thinking by liberals ever since they quite accurately predicted victory by Obama in the election of 2004. Their track record since then has been a bit sketchy, but they are still considered to be the font of all wisdom and, for reasons known only to the liberal mind, their reputation suffered not at all when their advance announcement of a Clinton landslide in the election of 2016 went so badly.

I mean, they didn’t even phrase that one as a prediction, they published it as a statement of known fact, and we all know how it turned out. They then came out with a whole host of reasons which “nobody could have known” why they had missed the call, all of which were bought by the powers that be, and which preserved their reputation.

Politics is a very weird business. You can, for instance, accept dirty campaign money so long as you give it back when you get caught. If you don’t get caught you can keep it, so there is upside but no downside to taking bribes. Similarly, you can make really bad predictions, and as long as you have good excuses for why you did so, all of your future predictions will continue to be relied upon as being accurate.

At any rate, FiveThirtyEight published a treatise last week comparing the Mueller investigation on “Russiagate” with the last three great special farces investigations of Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater. They take great glee in pointing out that Mueller has “racked up five guilty pleas and 14 indictments of individuals,” more than any special prosecution other than Watergate.

For some reason, the author is not mentioning the indictments against corporations, one of which did not even exist at the time the alleged offense occurred. We’ll pass on that for the moment. To hell with it, we’ll just pass.

The author also does not mention that of all the indictments and pleas obtained, not one of them involves the combination of the Trump campaign, the 2016 election, and anyone in Russia. Most of his indictments are for things like tax fraud and lying to the FBI.

Mueller does have handful of indictments which contain two of the three elements which are the purported subject of his investigation; indictments having to do with Russians and the 2016 election but not even pretending to have anything to do with Trump’s election campaign. Even those indictments are evaporating like an ice cube on a hot sidewalk as Muller pleads for a delayed trial because his evidence is not ready.

And yet FiveThirtyEight wants us to believe that the Mueller investigation is the most valid and productive “special investigation” ever in the history of the process.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dean Baker Has An Accident

What is the saying about what even a blind pig does once in a while? I believe Dean Baker actually said something rather profound yesterday, but it's okay because I'm pretty sure he was unaware of the meaning of what he said.

Economists are baffled by the failure of something called the Phillips Curve in today's labor market. Phillips was an economist, of course, who drew a curve which showed that as unemployment decreased wages increased, and posited cause and effect. Today, however, unemployment is plummeting and wages are essentially flat and people like Dean Baker are tearing their hair out trying to figure out where Philips went wrong why. (Philips, of course, could not have gone wrong because he was an economist. Economists never go wrong, so there must be something wrong in today's labor market.)

Baker actually touched on part of the answer in yesterday's column when he referenced the low participation rate, which reflects a high number of people who are not working but are also not looking for work and are therefor not counted as unemployed. That means the actual unemployment rate is much higher than what is being reported, which plays hell with the Phillips Curve (even if the Philips Curve did make any kind of sense, which it does not), but the participation rate does not suit a number of Baker's other pet arguments and so he is forced to disregard it here.

Then he starts in on "quit rates," which is another of his pet theories having to do with when more people are quitting jobs wages go higher. I think he has it backward; that people quit as a result of higher wages, rather than people quitting being a cause of higher wages. Fred quits working for my company, so I'm going to hire Tom and pay him and Sam a higher wage. I don't think so.

Then he says that, "Fewer people are now employed in sectors with few quits, like manufacturing, and relatively more people are employed in sectors with frequent quits like retail trade and restaurants."

I recall many years ago, when there was much talk about the nation "transitioning to a service economy," something which Dean Baker seems to acknowledge has been fully accomplished, my father made the dry comment that, "Hell, we can't all make a living selling each other hamburgers."

I think Dean Baker has pointed out that Dad had it completely right.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Eating A Little Crow

Danica Patrick qualified seventh at Indianapolis yesterday. She is, admittedly, driving a car furnished by one of the best two builders in the business, and her teammate qualified on the pole. Nonetheless, the best car on the track is not worth a bucket of warm spit if it is not well driven, and she was impressive as hell. She was very smooth and accurate both days, especially on "pole day" yesterday, when she improved her position from ninth to seventh.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Only in NASCAR

I'm not sure that any organization in the world other than NASCAR could produce the following statement. Perhaps the US government, or some branch of the military, but probably not. Probably only NASCAR.

"NASCAR implemented changes for the All-Star Race to help drivers pass each other more frequently. The cars will have restrictor plates in the engines to slow down top speed and acceleration."

I cannot comment. That just leaves me speechless.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Media Goes Nuttier on Russia

According to CBS Evening News on Tuesday, a Russian oligarch paid $500,000 to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s lawyer, and some of that money may have been used to pay the infamous porn star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. According to CBS, Robert Mueller is investigating this Russian payment. Of course he is.

The facts, according to the New York Times, which is no paragon of truth telling itself, so we’ll have to take this for what it’s worth, is that Cohen "received payments last year of about $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm in New York whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch,” and that Columbus Nova “described the money as a consulting fee that had nothing to do with Mr. Vekselberg.”

So we go from “was paid by a Russian oligarch” to “was paid by an American firm who has a Russian oligarch as a customer” with no evidence that the payment was in any way related to the Russian oligarch. Not to mention the time travel aspect of Mr. Cohen using money he received in 2017 to pay off a blackmailing porn star in 2015.

CNN is freaked out over Cohen “having dealings with Russians who are under US sanctions,” but admits that Mr. Vekselberg was not under US sanctions if and when he paid unknown sums of money to Mr. Cohen Columbus Nova, nor was he under US sanctions when when Colombus Nova paid $500,000 to Mr. Cohen to represent Mr. Vekselberg some unknown client of Columbus Nova.

Furthermore, CBS News tells us that back in 2015 the same Russian government hackers that stole Hillary Clinton’s emails and gave them to Wikileaks (which is, of course, an entirely bogus claim) also sent death threats to military spouses purporting to be from ISIS. They interviewed one military wife who said that as long as she thought the threat was from ISIS she was able to shrug it off, but now that she knows it came from the Russian government, she is really upset about it.

She is not, apparently, afraid of ISIS but is afraid of the Russian government, which means the media is doing only half of its job with respect to at least one military wife.

Their “computer expert” said that the Russian government has a good reason to be “really mad at the US,” blaming us for the downfall of the Soviet Union.

Really? What part of today’s Russian government is upset about the downfall of the Soviet Union?

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

It Depends on What You Say

People in government who reveal secret matters which the government does not want the public to know about are called "leakers" and/or "traitors," and are pursued relentlessly by law enforcement so that they may be brought to court and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

People in government who reveal secret matters which the government does want the public to know about are called "officials who demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter," and are rigorously protected by the media and by government.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Comedy Devolves Into Farce

“Fire, aim,” in the wrong order and just omit the “ready” part altogether. The Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has devolved from farcical into slapstick comedy.

Mueller, you may recall, filed indictments against several Russian persons and corporations several months ago, basically over alleged Facebook posting which, oddly enough, included posts favoring Clinton and Sanders as well as Trump. The Clinton and Sanders posts are alleged to have been mere camouflage, although evidence of that is not offered in the indictment.

It was widely regarded as symbolic, since Russia was certainly not going to extradite anyone. But, since corporations cannot be thrown in prison, lo and behold a Russian corporation showed up in court to answer charges, and Mueller and company does not know whether to shit or go blind.

First they claim that the corporation cannot be in court offering a defense because they cannot prove that they have been properly served. The court responds that it is a prosecution problem for having sent service to the Russian government instead of the corporation and in any case the corporation, served or not, is here answering the charge. Lack of service might be a cause for the defense to delay, but not for the prosecution to do so. Next motion please.

Then the prosecution asks for a delay in providing “discovery,” which is the provision for the defense to have the evidence against them presented to them by the prosecution. It is fairly routine for the defense to ask for this kind of delay, but it is unprecedented for the prosecution to do so and is tantamount to admitting that they have filed an indictment without having any evidence. So the judge calls bullshit on them, and does not grant the delay.

So at this point the case is in limbo, although not yet thrown out, with Mueller and company standing with egg all over its collective face.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

This is Gender Equality?

The Boy Scouts are no more. The new policy of allowing girls to join the club rendered the name obsolete, and so now they are just "Scouts of America."

So, we now have the "Scouts of America" which boys and girls can join, and the "Girl Scouts of America" which only girls can join. It's probably better that I do not express any opinion on this.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Trend is Down

Watching the NASCAR race last weekend at Talladega, television showed the stands as mostly filled, which turns out to have been mostly use of clever camera angles. An article in the sports section in Forbes, Sports Money, tells us that the race “was run before grandstands that were mostly filled, but empty enough that the word ‘TALLADEGA’ in unused seats at each end was visible.”

Even more deceptive was that the announcers, which included two former drivers, told us that the infield was “sold out” more than two weeks before the race and repeatedly made reference to the “packed stands.” Views from the overhead blimp, however, showed vast expanses of empty green grass in the infield, and confirmed Forbes’ suggestion of less than capacity crowds in the grandstand. “Packed stands,” forsooth.

Forbes tells us, in fact, that while NASCAR no longer publishes attendance figures at races, the race drew an 18% drop television ratings and a 20% drop in viewers than the same race last year. That would seem to contradict the announcers’ claims about how much more exciting the sport has become since the addition of “stage racing” and with annual changes to the aerodynamic configuration of the cars.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Picking The Winner

NASCAR is racing at Talledega this week. All of the "experts" are reminding us that the superspeedway race is totally unpredictable because the cars run in snarling, 200mph packs of twenty to thirty cars packed inches apart, and that wrecks involving as many as twenty cars are common and expected. They then go on to tell us who they think will win the race.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Subron 8: Inland Sea Cruise

Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.

One time, for reasons us whitehats were never told, Diablo took what was called the “inland sea cruise.” I think we were the first submarine ever to do it, in part because armed warships are prohibited in the Great Lakes by treaty with Canada, and submarines are difficult to disarm. Unloading all those torpedoes is a major chore, and the loss of weight does ugly things to our trim. Then, sooner or later, we have to put them all back in. We did keep a dozen or so practice fish, which had dummy warheads.

The cruise is up the Saint Lawrence Seaway, through all the Great Lakes, then down the Mississippi River. The Navy was not thinking clearly when they sent us on this journey because even rigged for surface we draw almost thirty feet, and you’ve probably read stories of what the Mississippi River is like. Right. Sandbars and such, and much of it no more than six feet deep. So at Chicago we turned around and went out the way we came in.

We didn’t, in those days, make a habit of colliding with everything in sight the way Navy ships do today, but that doesn’t mean my Navy was a paragon of clear thinking. Remind me to tell you about the refueling at sea experiment.

On the way we made port at lots of cities where the citizenry were all very excited about seeing a real live submarine. They came aboard in tour groups, gaped at all the machinery and asked a lot of rather silly questions, to which they got a lot of equally silly answers which embarrassed and frustrated the officers who overheard us giving them. They would chime in with a patient, “No ma’am, that isn’t what that does. What it really does…” and deliver an ugly look at the sailor involved.

The officers were, of course, totally unable to prevent us from having quite a good time conducting tours, entertaining guests in various ways which the Navy had not planned for, and getting phone numbers for when we went on liberty. On shore we were quite a novelty since many of the cities, Detroit for instance, hadn’t seen the Navy much, and we didn’t have to pay for our own drinks very often. So all in all, we enjoyed the cruise.

There were a few pitfalls to sailing a submarine in fresh water, though.

Like, for instance, how to deal with puddles of water on the deck. The air in submarines is normally very humid, and is compressed frequently which adds to condensation being a frequent issue. So when we see a puddle of water, we taste it. If it’s fresh then we know it’s condensation and can be ignored. Or cleaned up if an officer or chief petty officer notices you tasting it. If it’s salty, then it’s seawater, and you have a leak and had better do something about it. Leaks, in a submarine, are not good.

But when you are in the Great Lakes, any water leaking from outside the ship is not salty. Now what?

Yes, Diablo had leaks. She was built in 1941 for God’s sake. We maintained that our most critical piece of equipment was the bilge pump, because if it ever crapped out the leaks would sink us in eight hours.

The periscope gland leaked and the captain got wet every time he looked through the scope. The weird thing was that it leaked even when we were on the surface and the gland was 24 feet above the waterline, so the captain always got wet when he looked through the scope. Needless to say, he was not happy about it, and that gland was one of many things that made me glad I was an Electrician and not a Machinist’s Mate.

Then there was our stop at Bay City, MI, which was a bit weird. For one thing, the town is misnamed. It should be “Cove City.”

The “bay” into which we arrive is barely bigger than the length of our boat, and there is no pier other than one about eight feet long and situated in water about two feet deep. This was early in my service and I am still on the forward line handling party, so I’m on the foredeck looking around and wondering if the Skipper has gotten us lost.

We come to a stop about halfway into this cove, and I look up onto the bridge where some arm pointing and conversation is going on. The crowd on shore seems to be expecting us, though, so I figure we’re in the right place, that everything is under control and when it’s time for us to do something they will let us know.

Then I hear the vents pop under my feet and feel the deck settling and angling a bit, and I realize we’re flooding down forward. Not a lot, maybe a few feet, but it’s odd. Then the engines ramp up and we begin moving forward, toward shore. That’s definitely odd, and we’re all looking at each other like maybe the captain has gone off his nut. The bow rises very slightly, quite gently actually, the ship stops, and I realize than I’m on a ship that has run aground.

Apparently on purpose, because everyone on the bridge seems quite happy with the situation. So we’re all standing around on the foredeck with our teeth in our pockets and our hands in our mouths, until the captain finally leans over the bridge coaming and yells down, “Get a line over.”

We look around and wonder how the fuck we are supposed to do that. Not only are there no bollards, there is not even a pier. Not to mention, no personnel on shore to receive the line when we throw it. Ridley, who’s in charge, yells up at the bridge, “Get a line over to what, sir?” The query may have contained a faint note of sarcasm. Maybe more than a faint note.

If so, the captain missed it. “I don’t know,” he calls back, “That fire hydrant over there looks pretty good. Tie up to that.”

Tie up to a fire hydrant. Right. So after some yelling and arm waving we get a couple of volunteers on shore and we manage to get a five inch line to the fire hydrant in question. As soon as it is made fast, we shift the flag but leave one engine running to provide power since there is no shore power connection available for us to hook up to.

One guy is concerned as whether the fire hydrant will hold a 1800-ton submarine when the tide changes. Ridley puts his arm around the guy and assures him that of course the hydrant will not even come close to holding the ship, but that it’s okay because there are no tides in the Great Lakes.

When we were ready to leave, we just blew the forward ballast tanks, which picked the bow up off the bottom and allowed us to back smoothly out of the bay. The fire hydrant survived entirely intact. The same could not be said for some of the taverns, but no real harm was done.