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.

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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Definition for "Terrorist"

I suspect Obama is going to need to form a coalition to stop the Crimson Tide, and he will need "boots on the ground" to do it, and probably heavy armor. There was a certain Keystone Kops flavor to the first half, but even essentially giving up three touchdowns to the Florida defense, Alabama still won the game 42-21. Well, yes, Florida's offense did score twice; on two drives after turnovers, of 16 and 31 yards, totalling five plays.

LSU is rebuilding, especially in the defensive secondary, and lost to a really good Mississippi State team. At times I wondered if the Tigers were even awake back there, but... The less said about San Diego State the better.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Why I'm Not Boycotting Burger King

The guy who runs the local Burger King in my neighborhood is a local businessman. He bought that franchise some dozen years ago and spends about 12 hours per day in it. He spends his day behind the counter hustling orders and directing his employees. He comes out to bus tables, clean the drink machine, and do everything else that his employees do. It is clear that his employees like him. He is friendly to his customers and thanks them for coming in.

He invested his life savings to own his own business and needs the income from the store in order to pay his mortgage and feed his family. I've seen him leave work driving a six year old car.

This is a typical Burger King store, since 99% of Burger King fast food restaurants are not owned by the corporation which bears the name, but are owned by individual small businessmen who hold franchises to own their own businesses. I will not boycott these hard working people in a self righteous expression of anger over the action of some faceless corporation over which they have no control.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Tell Me How This Ends"

The title quotation is attributed to General David Petraeus but, as with most of his wisdom, it does not originate with him. It comes from studies performed by the military following the war in Vietnam to assure that we do not get dragged into quagmires of endless war again, and became an element of the Powell doctrine, in which he says that we should never enter a war without having a clear “exit strategy.”

Of course that went by the board in 2002 with George W. Bush, when they thought that Iraq would throw flowers at our tanks and that no exit would be required because we would just be passing through. The eventual exit was based on at least a pretense that the country had reached a position of stability; a pretense which has now been thoroughly debunked.

We are exiting Afghanistan later this year, for no reason that I can discern other than that Obama has decided it is time to leave. Our original entry was supposedly for the purpose of capturing Osama bin Laden, but we failed in that effort within a couple of months. We then were supposedly driving out Al Queda, which we effectively did within a year, at which point our mission seemingly changed to defeating the Taliban. No one can even really pretend that we have done that, but we are leaving anyway.

So now we are starting a war to destruction with the Islamic State, and are not even talking about when or how that one ends, other than admitting that if it ends at all it will be “a long time” before it does. We don’t even have any assurance that it will end at all.

So “how does this end” is no longer a question to which an answer is required before we enter a new war, it is a question which we no longer ask.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Did They Do That?

Either how did the Chargers beat the Seahawks, or how did they lose to the Cardinals? Wtf? It was, in any case, a great football game. The Chargers made me nervous, though, with the way that, while controlling the ball on offense for 42 minutes against only 18 for the Seahawks, they allowed the Seahawks to hang aroung close on the scoreboard. With that kind of ball control, the difference in score should have been greater than a mere six points when 1-1/2 minutes remained in the game.

The Chargers defense attacked like a pack of wolves on a crippled moose, and I hope John Pagano made a note of how that worked out. He has a tendency to "sit on" a six point lead, which not infrequently causes that lead to disappear.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Another "Long War," Part 3

Obama seems finally to have united the nation, having come up with a plan for destroying ISIS which absolutely everyone thinks is utterly stupid. Since he announced it Wednesday, I have not read one single article in support of his plan, and have read dozens which slam it for various reasons ranging from the plan not being sufficiently violent to the fact that it exists at all.

Rosa Brooks punks Obama for violating his promise to avoid “dumb wars” and lists several reasons why this war is even more dumb than was George Bush’s Iraq war. The article is behind a pay wall which grants one free visit per month, I believe, so you might be able to read it. If not her reasons pretty much run along the lines of the ones I've posed earlier, with a couple of additions.

She points out that Obama’s “fatwa of jihad” against the Islamic State is a marvelous recruiting tool for them. Just as jihadists flocked to Afghanistan to throw Russia out of that Islamic homeland, they are surely going to flock to the Islamic State to throw the Great Satan out of the Islamic State desert. If there are 30,000 fighters there now, you can bet there will be 50,000 there in a year or two.

Part of Obama’s eleven dimensional plan is to prevent foreign fighters from joining the fray, of course, but good luck with that for several reasons. It’s not going to happen.

She also points out that Syria is a Russian client state and that bombing in that nation without its permission is not only a violation of its national sovereignty and of international law, but is fraught with a significant risk of bringing us into direct conflict with Russia, which has nuclear weapons and the capability of delivering them to every part of the United States.

I would add that it risks bringing us into direct conflict with Syria, but of course for Obama that is a feature, not a bug.

Obama does not acknowledge the concept of "national sovereignty," of course, and he is not concerned about Russia because he regards them as a “regional power” (apparently nuclear missiles don’t count) which is afraid of picking a fight with us because of our much larger military. He must not have been listening when General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the JSOC, told him that our military is currently so badly broken that it would “shatter” if Obama got us into another war.

Obama’s comments about Russia sound like the same arrogant schoolyard bullying that George Bush engaged in, except that he uses somewhat more refined language. The attitude, however, if you listen beneath the smoother words, is pretty much the same, as is the policy.

Obama admitted in his speech that ISIS does not currently present any threat to this nation, but that there is a chance that it might someday do so, albeit even then not particularly deadly threats, and that he is therefor launching military strikes against it in two countries. Preventive war against possible future threat. He was appalled when George Bush was doing this, but now that it is his turn to do it

Someone posed the question, “Does this mean that we are going to be at endless war forever?” My reaction was that it was a remarkably silly question.

Friday, September 12, 2014

This Is Going To Be Brutal

The Chargers play the Seahawhs in San Diego Sunday. That in itself would make one pity the Chargers, but the forecast is for a high of 96 degrees, 90 at the beaches, and the game is at 1:00pm. The temperature in the stadium will be well over 100 degrees. Yikes.

Another "Long War," Part 2

An interesting aspect of Obama’s declaration of war on ISIS was when he said that the plan is one which “we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.” If those two nations, especially Somalia, are his definition of success, I would certainly hate to see his definition of failure. And I’m not sure than anyone who has more than two functional brain cells would equate the strategies; massive and frequent bombing attacks with manned aircraft does not really equate to aiming at individual “suspected terrorists” with missiles fired from unmanned drones.

I had to wonder what he had been smoking when he said that “It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples' right to determine their own destiny.” Except that when the people of Crimea held a vote to determine their own destiny we called it illegal and demanded that the vote be declared void.

Obama has redefined “leadership” repeatedly during his time in office, and he did so again during this speech. After talking at great length about our strength and leadership, and how urgent it is to destroy ISIS for American security and because two Americans had been beheaded, he then said that we are unwilling to risk our own soldiers to do it. What kind of nation wants other nations to risk their troops to achieve its own security? Especially while boasting about its own strength and leadership.

Someone else, Obama says, will have to do the dying on the battlefield in order to win the war that Obama is starting. That game of “let’s you and him fight” gives new meaning to his penchant for “leading from behind.”

Form a “broad coalition” to start a new war and then say “we’ll provide the leadership, you provide the dying.” American exceptionalism at its best.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Another "Long War"

My reaction to Obama’s speech was basically, “Wow, I skipped The Big Bang Theory for that?” I was, to say the least, underwhelmed, but at least it was mercifully short. I threw up in my mouth a little bit at the “our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden, but as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead” part. Tell that to the people who still don’t have jobs and parents who have lost children on the battlefield.

Pat Lang has an excellent analysis at Sic Semper Tyrannis, and I suggest you read it. The colonel served as an intelligence officer in that area of the world for many years; he knows his stuff, and he writes clearly and understandably on the subject.

I would only add my own commentary on the part of the plan that calls for “arming the Syrian opposition.” For one thing, Obama’s insistence on deposing Assad regardless of the conditions is absurd. Secondly, when you have three groups fighting in an area, how is adding a fourth to the mix going to make the situation better? We are going to be trying to bomb Assad and ISIS while not bombing the “Syrian opposition.” How well is that going to work?

We are bombing in Syria because “if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” which was the reason for bombing Cambodia during the war in Vietnam. That eventually led to the killing fields of Pol Pot and the deaths of millions.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Surfing Culture

What intrigues me is that no one seems particularly upset by the Chargers loss to the Cardinals on Monday night. The local sports writers are basically saying that the Chargers did what the Chargers do, which is lose games they should have won; nothing to see here, move along. The coaches and players are saying that they played well and just made some mistakes which cost them the game; nothing to see here, move along.

Nobody asks the question which is sort of the great white shark in the swimming pool; why did the Charger players make those mistakes?

I would suggest that it has to do with a lack of mental discipline, something which the Chargers have suffered from for many years. No coach or general manager has been able to overcome it, and I think it goes with being in a city whose culture is “let’s go surfing.”

I would like to know where the Charger players were on Saturday night. I can pretty much guarantee you that the majority of them were not studying their playbooks, but were in downtown Phoenix studying something a great deal more lively than x’s and o’s. The local sports writers, none of whom have ever played football, all claim that players can be in a drunken stupor on Friday night and have recovered fully to play at peak level on Sunday. They are wrong.

The mistakes which I see being made at game time are for the most part due to a lack of mental focus, and by far the majority of them are being made by players whose names appear in the society pages as having been part of “the scene” on Friday nights. There is a connection. The Chargers will consistently win games, and championships, when they have players who are less interested in being celebrities and more interested in being professional football players.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Funky Red Lines, Maybe Pink

I normally take a dim view of Obama making threats and issuing “red lines,” but the ones he drew at the NATO meeting in Wales don’t bother me much. He said that we would “not hesitate to protect" one of NATO’s members against loss of its independence. He did not specify what might cause that loss of independence, but he was looking toward Russia when he said it.

"We’ll be here for Estonia,” he said. “We’ll be here for Latvia. We’ll be here for Lithuania.” Pretty easy words, since he knows that there is precisely zero chance that Russia will invade any of those countries. It was a little awkward when hi got to the end of the alphabet and had said nothing about “being here” for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden's rhetoric addressing a different theater of operations about how, "after a proper period for grieving" we will "follow them to the gates of hell because that's where they will live" suggests to me that Joe may be showing his age a bit.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

NFL Kickoff

The opening game Thursday night is Packers/Seahawks which is, to say the least, an interesting pairing. But then we have Monday night bringing us the Chargers at the Arizona Cardinals. Are there any two teams in the NFL which inspire less national interest than those two? That game is the second half of a Monday night double header, starting at 10:20pm EDT, so only about six people on the East Coast will be watching it regardless of which teams are playing, but...

The Raiders are in desperation mode already, and the season has not even started yet. They announced that they will not start Matt Schaub at quarterback, but will go with rookie Derek Carr. That's the second year in a row that the Raiders have traded to get a starting quarterback and not started him, but it's the first year thay benched that starter for a rookie.

The Chargers are, of course, the class of the NFL. They will probably not win sixteen games during the reqular season, but no one will beat them legitimately and they will win the division easily, will all of their post season games without even breathing hard, and win the Super Bowl with one hand tied behind Philip Rivers' back. Just ask the sports writers for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

What's The Point?

CVS Pharmacy is changing its name to "CVS Health" but, according to several reports, will not be changing the signs on its stores, which rather makes one wonder why it changed its name.

The name change is pursuant to the chain stopping the sales of tobacco products, which you would think would generate rave reviews for the management which made such a socially responsible decision. That seems not, however, to be the case, because every social comment I have read in response to the announcement has been that they are remiss in not stopping the sales of soft drinks and candy as well. Because, apparently, stopping cancer is useless unless you stop obesity at the same time. Somebody is going to have to explain the logic of that to me, because I don't get it.

Of course, my father died of lung cancer which undoubtedly originated with his heavy smoking, and I have never had a family member die from obesity, so perhaps I lack perspective. I don't think so, however; I think my perspective is just fine. I think that there is something wrong with a society that refuses to credit a firm for doing something good, but instead criticizes it for not doing more.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This Is Getting Ridiculous

The college football season kicks off tonight, with Texas A&M taking on South Carolina, so I look to see what channel the will be on. Neither team plays in the Pac-12, so I don't have to worry about the game being on that new silly-ass Pac-12 channel.

Seems I spoke too soon. The game in on the SEC channel, because now the Southeast Conference also has its own television network. So where is that silly thing on the 1800 channels on my stupid Cox list of channels? Or is it even there at all? Yes, it's three numbers away from the Pac-12 channel, at number 1316, and yes, it is high-def.

At least my beloved LSU Tigers will meet Wisconsin on a real network Saturday night. I will have to record it, though, because I will be in Fontana, watching the Indycar season finale live.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mission Creep

According to The Guardian last Saturday, US officials have said that there is now a “new context” for confronting Isis…following the beheading of US journalist James Foley.”

Of course there is a “new context” for expanding violence. America will always have a “new context” for expanding the scope of our infliction of death and destruction.

The original air strikes in Iraq were, according to Obama, in pursuit of an “extremely limited objective to protect lives” in Erbil and tens of thousands on Mt. Sinjar who were in eminent danger of being massacred, and he assured us that there would be no “mission creep.” Turns out the numbers on Mt. Sinjar were more than a little bit exaggerated, as was the threat and immediacy of massacre.

Then there was a “new context” in the need to assist in the retaking of the Mosul dam. Then we needed to “do something” about the killing of James Foley because his beheading was so much more painful than is the peaceful and painless death which we inflict, often on women and children, by means of Hellfire missiles.

So now we need to entirely destroy the Islamic State forces before they develop a “safe haven” from which they can “launch major attacks upon America,” but we are told that the White House is dithering with a “mounting concern” over “how to target Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar Assad” because Obama is “is loath to be seen as aiding the Syrian government, even inadvertently.”

This is a real conundrum, isn’t it? Two forces are fighting each other. One of them is headed by a “evil dictator” who you have declared has “lost his legitimacy,” is a threat to your allies in the region and must step down. You have taken the position that this guy must go and you are not going to back down from it.

The other is a group which you have defined as an existential threat to yourself. You must destroy this force or risk your own destruction, but doing so risks helping the guy that you have said is evil and must go.

Perhaps the problem lies in the way that you have defined the two forces.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hypersonic Spin

Writers who are unfailingly loyal to Danica Patrick are having to resort to desperate measures to write positive things about her. I cracked up at the phrasing of this one,

"Though Patrick would fall another few laps behind, she was able to drive her way back into the top 30 by the time the checkered flag flew."

That means, actually, that several cars running in front of her crashed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

NFL Fantasy Football

ESPN provides projections of the fantasy points expected for each player in the league, but I'm not sure how seriously we should be taking thses projections when forming our teams. Like most fortune telling schemes, there are inconsistencies.

They project only 84 points for Antonio Gates, for instance, because they say that the Chargers have essentially replaced him with the younger and now seasoned Ladarius Green. For Green, however, they project only 82 points because they say he will be playing in the shadow of the veteran Gates. That's sort of like saying that you can't have your cake because you've alread eaten it, and then in the next breath saying that you can't eat your cake because you don't have it yet.

On the other hand, the two of them add up to 166 points, which is about right for one really good tight end. So maybe each guy will play half of the time and they have it right. I'm no fortune teller either.

They also project 153 points for Johhny Manziel, which is only going to happen if he is awarded 25 points for each concussion and 80 points for a broken leg.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Things That Are Obvious

Hillary Clinton will run unopposed in the 2016 primary election because everyone is afraid to oppose her. The Clintons are famous for punishing anyone who runs against them and no one ever dares to do so.

That is, of course, why Hillary Clinton won the primary election in 2008.

Missing The Point

I watch Grey’s Anatomy and enjoy it, but I wouldn’t say it is my favorite program. I also like the character played by Jesse Williams although, again, not really my favorite. I think I will like him better next season after watching Jesse Williams speak with such elegantly restrained anger on the issues reflected in Ferguson, MO recently.

What’s interesting is that his line that “the media starts in the middle of the story” has caught people’s imagination and, in a masterpiece of irony, every film clip I can find of his discussion on CNN starts with him speaking that line, which is in the middle of what he has to say and misses the very important beginning. His whole point goes something like this:

“When a white kid shoots up a school,” he says, the media discusses the kid for days in terms of background. “We go back to the day of his birth,” Jesse says, “We have to understand him.” (emphasis his) But in a case like what happened at Ferguson Jesse says, in the line that has become famous, “the media starts in the middle of the story, which is a black kid shot in the street.”

He makes a very powerful point, diminished significantly when you leave out the first part of it. I have long asserted that we should not even know the name of the “white kid who shot up a school,” let alone spend days in this ghoulish analysis of his psyche, and Jesse’s point is profound. We know the shooter’s inner workings, but as to “the black kid shot in the street,” we don’t even know what his hobbies were.

And even when people hear Jesse Williams talk about the racist attitude in media they focus on one line, miss the meaning of it and, in discussing what he has to say about the media reporting half the story, they talk about half of what he has to say.

Racism is alive and well, thriving in America.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Things that make sense (?)

Warnings on the prescription bottle for Ambien, which is a sleeping pill, include one which says, "May cause drowsiness." Really? One actually would hope so.

Unreasoned Discourse

I have now come across three “liberal blogs” which gleefully reference the same AP article claiming that health insurance companies are finding ways around the new “health care reform” laws to “discriminate against the sick” or to “discriminate against those with chronic health conditions.” I am not going to quote at length from the article, but it consists of nothing other than vague accusations and statements which sound like accusations but actually are not.

It refers, for instance, to “the narrow networks of hospitals and doctors that insurers are using to keep premiums down,” which is untrue & nonsensical.

The actuality of networks is that insurance companies set payment levels for the plans to keep costs down, just as Medicare does. Medical providers are then invited to participate in the plans and decide for themselves whether or not they want to do so. Many decline because the payment levels are not high enough to suit them. "Narrow networks" are the result of choices by medical providers, not by insurance companies. If your doctor is not in the network it is because he wants to be paid more than that network is paying. Some doctors also refuse to accept Medicare.

At one point the article goes off its “attack the insurance industry” track, attacking the law itself to claim that, “The law also takes away some of the motivation insurers have for chasing healthy patients.” Of course one of the major and most controversial aspects of the law is that healthy people have to sign up whether they want to or not and, a minor point, the term "healthy patients" makes no sense. By the definition of “patient,” a healthy person is not a patient.

One of my favorite little pieces of nonsensicality is where a state insurance commissioner is quoted as saying that, “the federal government should establish a basic level of protection that states can build on,” which the ACA actually does. Remember the flap about plans being cancelled because they did not meet the minimum standards set by the ACA? This is an insurance commissioner criticizing the federal government for not doing something which it is doing in the new legislation that is the topic of his current discussion.

Liberals like to say that those who attack the “health care reform” law have to resort to false and incoherent arguments in order to do so, but here is a case where an attack dog is using the same tactics to attack the insurance industry. Have we completely lost our ability to engage in reasoned and reasonable debate?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Truism

I forget who it was who said that, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." I have not had much to say about the Chargers because it is still preseason, but the San Diego Union-Tribune sports writers have not been quite as circumspect.

On Thursday one of them was comparing this year's team to the "Air Coryell" era, because they won their first preseason game against Dallas the preceeding week; a team which has the league's worst defense. On Friday the Chargers lost to Seattle 41-14. During the time that the starters were playing the Chargers lost 24-0.

I'm still not saying much about the Chargers, because it's still preseason.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Atlantic Interview

Consensus on Clinton after her Atlantic interview seems to be that she is being “disloyal to Obama” in being critical of his policy in Syria. I’m not sure why anyone would think that she owes him any particular loyalty at this point, and my take is that the interview actually highlights the loyalty which she demonstrated during her tenure as Secretary of State, a period during which she did owe him loyalty.

Clearly, we now know, she disagreed with him very sharply over how he was handling the civil war in Syria, but having failed to sell him on her preferred policy, she kept her disagreement to herself and carried out the policy set by her boss. One has to rather admire that kind of political maturity.

Not that I found anything to admire in the content of the Atlantic interview. Her hawkish positions on Syria and Iran utterly appall me, and I find her desire to turn the United States into a vassal of Israel seriously disturbing. The whole thing added to my already rather strong impression that having her as president would be a dismal and utterly depressing experience.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yes! Absolutely

programmerOnly a computer programmer can truely appreciate this. It had me rolling on the floor today.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Insanity Abounds

The amount of nonsense being promoted by our government and the media over this business in Iraq is simply mindboggling, and nobody calls bullshit on any of it.

Obama is demanding that Nuri al-Maliki step down before he will commit to engaging against the “Islamic State” forces, another of America’s endless “regime change” demands in the Middle East. So while we claim in our own elections that we should not change our president (or presidential party) in the middle of a foreign war, we demand that Iraq should do a regime change while engaged in a war on their own territory. The logic, or lack thereof, of that is simply awesome.

Meanwhile we are bombing our own military equipment in northern Iraq; equipment which we gave to Iraq to make it safer and which we are now destroying in order to make Iraq safer. It would be cheaper to simply blow that shit up here at home where we manufacture it. Would doing that also make Iraq safer?

The Washington Post tells us that Kurdish forces have retaken two towns in northern Iraq “in the wake of U.S. airstrikes on the towns.” This is in line with the American practice of “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” which so endears us to indigenous populations.

It also tells us in the same article that our demand for regime change is not going well, as Nuri al-Maliki is staging what amounts to a military coup in Baghdad, flooding the city with heavily armed troops loyal to him, including the American Green Zone.

The media has also been presenting our air mission as having stopped the Islamic State forces in their tracks and saved Baghdad and all of the cities in northen Iraq from harm. People who know better tell us that it has done nothing of the sort, and that F/A-18s flying in pairs off of a single carrier are grossly insufficient to the task.

Obama assured us that our mission in Iraq would not involve "boots on the ground" and then justifies the air attacks by saying that they are protecting our diplomats and troops in Irbil. He has withdrawn the diplomats but not, apparently, the troops, who are "military advisors." (Remember Vietnam?) Perhaps these troops are wearing tennis shoes.

He also has been assuring us that any engagement in Iraq will be “very limited” in nature, then turns around and tells us that the air attacks will be going on for a very long time. In other words we will be performing a limited mission for an unlimited time, which is a contradiction in terms.

Of course, contradictions in terms are Obama’s specialty.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"The Look"

MollyMolly continues to do well on a regimen of two pills and a shot given twice daily, alomg with subcutaneous fluid once per day. She doesn't seem to mind any of this except the last, which she doesn't much like but normally tolerates quite peacefully.

Yesterday when the young lady came to do the sub-q fluid Kathy sort of rushed to get Molly, which caused her to freak and run under the bed. Naturally, I was appointed to pull her out, since women will always look to the man of the house to perform the hazardous duty. So I'm putting her in the place where the sub-q fluid is done and Molly is giving me "the look."

This is something that cats can do and dogs cannot. Dogs have to show teeth and/or lay their ears back, but cats can do it merely with "the look." Her ears are not back, no teeth are showing, but her eyes are unmistakably telling you that she is planning your imminent death. Navy Seals have been known to say, "Oh hell no, this is your cat," and back away from that look.
I am no Navy Seal, but Molly and I have a relationship so I stood fast, the fluid treatment proceeded and no blood was shed. I did breathe easier afterward.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Immortal Question

Question: How many Chargers defensive players does it take to tackle one opponent? Answer: Too many. At least one whiff precedes any actual tackle. Sheesh. Some things never change.

Update, Saturday night: Question #2, How is Danica going to do her usual routine of "advancing to the rear" when she is starting 43rd?

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Bashing Russia

For some reason Obama is going out of his way to be insulting and rude to Russia. After referring to it as a “regional power” which didn’t want to go to war with us because we have a bigger army a couple of weeks ago, he spoke to the issue again last weekend in an interview with the Economist.

"I do think it's important to keep perspective. Russia doesn't make anything," Obama said. "Immigrants aren't rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking."

The first thing that popped into mind when I read that is that we have been having to depend on Russia to carry our astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station for some years now because they still make space vessels and we do not. Something that fewer people know, but which I’m sure Obama does, is that when we want to launch satellites we have to buy rocket motors from Russia for our launch vehicles, because they make very good rocket motors and we don’t make them at all.

Russia is also second only to the US in the manufacture of weaponry. Add $8 billion in exports of machinery and $5 billion in electronic equipment exports, and it’s kind of hard to see that “Russia doesn’t make anything.”

According to Wikipedia, Russia has 300,000 legal immigrants each year and about four million illegal immigrants. Pretty small numbers compared to the United States, but it rather puts the lie to “Immigrants aren’t rushing…”

Life expectancy of the Russian male is 65.1 and rising faster than ours.

The population of Russia stopped shrinking in 2009, and has grown every year since then. The number of people living in poverty in Russia declined from 40% in 1999 to 13% in 2010, a 67% decrease, compared to a 44% increase in this country; from 32 million to 46 million.

I don’t know which would dismay me more greatly; that our president is that ignorant, or that he is that much of a liar, and such an unskilled liar to boot.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Finland?

What do you get when you cross Finland, Bluegrass, hillbillies, and the hard rock band ACDC? You get this. Who could have guessed that there was a guy in Finland who know how to play spoons?


Monday, August 04, 2014

Excuses Abound

USA Today has a headline reading “Tire problems derail Patrick, Johnson at Pocono” today. I’m not sure if they didn’t watch the race or, perhaps, merely do not know what constitutes a “tire problem.” Even what they write does not constitute a tire problem for NASCAR’s queen of hyperbole.

“Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet smacked the wall as she exited turn 2 on lap 14,” they write, “before a severe tire rub led to a flat right-rear on the next lap.” That, dear readers, is not a tire problem. That is a “gratuitously hitting the wall” problem, otherwise known in sports as an “unforced error.”

They quote Danica Patrick as saying after the race that “I just wish I would have been smart enough to bring our GoDaddy Chevy to pit lane as soon as it happened.” I will not go into my opinion of her intelligence here, but her crew wishes she would have brought the car into the pits on the next lap, too, as they were screaming at her on the radio for the entire lap for her to do precisely that. Intelligence had nothing to do with it, all she needed to do was be able to follow instructions.

The article finishes by noting that she also “had a gear problem at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and finished 42nd.” Her gear problem at Indy was pretty much like her tire problem at Pocono; she dumped the clutch before the crew dropped the jack during a pit stop, and when the wheel spinning under power hit the pavement it broke a rear end gear.

Danica Patrick is not particularly impressive, but the people making excuses for her are awesome.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

"Fullest Confidence"

We tend to forget that the functional title of our president is “chief executive” of the nation. His job is to assure that the giant enterprise which is our nation’s government functions on a day-to-day basis, and no president has actually performed a supervisory role in governance with anything like success since Lyndon Baines Johnson, or even really attempted to do so.

At least before Obama when there was a massive failure in a government department there would be firings of the department heads and Cabinet members, but in the Obama administration we get instead that the President “has the fullest confidence” in the heads of the offending departments and nothing more than promises of “investigations.”

John Brennan headed the CIA when it hacked into and spied on the United States Senate, and then he lied to Congress about it while under oath to tell the truth, and yet President Obama “has the fullest confidence” in him and plans to keep him in his present position indefinitely. God help us all.

Informing The Public

Dean Baker accuses the New York Times of “frat boy reporting” in its article regarding the VA spending bill because they give the amount of the bill as $17 billion which he says is “presenting readers with really big numbers which mean almost nothing to any of them.” He “corrects” that problem by telling his readers that $17 billion amounts to “approximately 0.45 percent of annual spending,” which I regard as giving his readers tiny little numbers which mean very little more to them than do the big numbers provided by the New York Times.

What really matters is not what percentage of government spending that $17 billion amounts to, but rather to what degree it solves the problem. If spending 0.45% of the annual budget on the issue solves the problem, then it hardly makes sense to spend more than that, so telling us what percentage of the budget is being expended is no more informative than is giving us the amount of the expenditure.

The point he wants to make is whether or not the expenditure is major in terms relative to our national spending, but that is a minor point, and by saying that the amount means “almost nothing to any of them” he sort of insults the readers. The number will certainly be meaningless to some readers, but most readers who follow politics, even casually, will be able to put that number into context fairly readily.

What matters in terms of real national interest is whether or not we are solving the problem at the Veterans Administration, and examining the size of the expenditure does not answer that. We should be asking about the size of the expenditure relative to the size of the problem at the VA. Is it large enough to solve the problem? Knowing that it is 0.45% of spending tells us no more about that than does knowing that it is $17 billion.

He does make a valid point in saying that the article fails to say whether the expenditure is for one year or for multiple years, but even there his point is weak because the nature of the need is not made clear either. He is asking about the expenditure, but is not asking if the need is a one-time need or one which is ongoing, and to what degree that need is being met by the bill.

It’s also a bit odd that Baker can tell us what percentage of annual spending the bill amounts to while complaining that “the time period is certainly not clear from this article.” He asserts that $17 billion is “0.45% of annual spending,” regardless of whether that amount is spent in two years or is spread out over ten years. Rather strange math.

At any rate, "providing information to the readers" would really consist of comparing the spending amount to the problem, not to the national budget, and telling the public how far the amount being spent goes toward solving the problem, so in actuality Dean Baker is being no more informative than is the New York Times.