Saturday, January 30, 2016


No football this weekend. Well, there's the Pro Bowl, but who watches that? Stock car racing doesn't start until the week after the Super Bowl, which is itself still a week away. But I recorded some curling last night and, since that sport is not widely reported, I do not know the outcome. I can watch that.

It's women's curling, which is fine. Curling is the one sport in which there is absolutely zero difference in watching the men's and women's versions. I think a women's team could compete against a men's team on a perfectly equal footing. There probably should be some sort of profound social commentary to be made about that, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Anyway, I do enjoy watching curling, so I'm good to go.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Whole Story

It is amazing to me the number of pundits and politicians, Paul Krugman and Hillary Clinton among them, who are critical of universal health care based on the bogus argument that “it will massively increase taxes.”  Bernie Sanders has no problem with that, planning to add 2.2% to my personal income tax, a move which makes him my hero. Based on the advocacy of “voting in my own best interest,”  which I don’t do, that would get him my vote.

(As an aside, I vote in behalf of the best interest of the nation as a whole, not for the benefit of myself personally or of my own state.)

If Bernie passed universal health care, added 2.2% to my personal income tax, and relieved me of paying out the 13.2% of my income that I paid last year in health insurance premiums, copays and deductibles, I would be delighted with that. His opponents always mention the taxes, but they never point out that the taxpayer no longer has to pay for insurance.

In a similar vein, it was reported briefly in the news that signups in the “” insurance plans has dropped this year by about one third over last year. The issue was dropped immediately by news organizations and has not been picked up for discussion by one single commentator or pundit. It’s a pretty massive drop in enrollment, and one has to wonder how come the media is not asking why it is happening.

I don’t know, of course, but one reason that occurs to me is that many people found out that having health insurance is not worth much when the copays and deductibles are so high, and the networks are so limited, that you cannot afford to use it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Flip Flop

A person can change position as he is presented with new information or as situations change. I have no problem with that. I would, in fact, have a problem with a person who refused to change position in the face of an evolving environment. But the Democratic Party has changed its fundamental campaign principle from “hope and change”  to “maintain the status quo,” and has done it entirely for the purpose of maintaining its grip on the power of the White House.

I would expect Hillary Clinton to use pretty much anything she can to be critical of Bernie Sanders. I do not say that critically of Clinton; she is running against him in an election. She cannot oppose his plan for universal health care on its merits, Democrats have been advocating that for decades, but she has to find some manner in which to be critical of his espousal of it, and so she decides that his promise is too radical and can never succeed. She claims that we need to maintain the present plan and just tinker with some improvements to it.

So far, I have no problem with the ethics of this, although I would certainly be inclined to back the candidate who has more courage and not the cowardly candidate who says that my nation is incapable of adopting significant change. Canada was able to convert from the same system we presently use for health care to the universal plan that Sanders proposes, and I’m no fan of anyone who claims Canada can do that which America cannot.

My issue is with the Democratic Party, who backs the Clinton approach. “This is a nation of incremental change,” is the mantra of the party leadership, after eight years of marching in lockstep with a president who was the “hope and change” presidential candidate. Either the nation changed pretty dramatically in the past eight years, which would debunk their “nation of incremental change” theory, or the Democratic Party did.

They are, however, trying to change and not change at the same time, to be both revolutionary and status quo, because they are campaigning for the first female president and suggesting that we should vote for her both because she is a woman and because she won’t change things very much.

So other than changing history by her gender she’s not going to do much, and voting for her purely to feminize the White House would not be the least bit sexist. Voting for someone else, and thereby avoiding feminizing the White House, would make you a chauvinist misogynistic pig.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bad Weather Driving

I was driving down the I-8 freeway a couple days ago on a clear, sunshiny day and threw a glass of water out of my car window. Four cars behind me crashed.

No, it is NOT Brady vs. Manning

At no time will Tom Brady ever "face off against"  Payton Manning on the football field today. Football doesn't work that way. It is Payton Manning vs. the New England defense and Tom Brady vs. the Denver defense.

Okay, actually it's the New England offense vs. the Denver defense, and the Denver offense vs. the New England defense. Whatever.

Payton Manning is a dead quarterback who doesn't know he died of old age two years ago. Only a few people, me being one of them, are able to admit that the man is at least two years past his prime. Still, a dead Payton Manning is better than at least thirteen other NFL starting quarterbacks who are still alive, so...  Not to mention that if you can get to Tom Brady with your front four you can beat him. If you have to blitz him, Tom Brady will kill you because the blitz will have left the secondary weakened, but Denver can get to him with their front four.

Denver by a score of 24-17.

I want Cam Newton the Panthers to beat Arizona, but the game is close and hard to call. I would like Cam Newton to score about ten touchdowns, because I love the looks on the faces of the little kids he gives the footballs to.

I'll go with the Panthers, 38-31.

Friday, January 22, 2016


At the center of the storm, Washington DC, the forecast is for 12"-24" of snow, and the media is treating this as something close to the end of the world. Grocery stores are empty, schools closed in advance, people are being warned that they could die... The subway is shut down. The subway. Isn't that underground?

I don't get it. I lived in Milwaukee WI for six years, and we had 24" snowfalls several times every year. We had "dipstick heaters" in our cars. If you don't know what that is, I'm very happy for you.

Sometimes 24" or more fell overnight while we were sleeping, and that did not even provide a valid excuse for being late to work the next morning. It certainly didn't result in news anchors coming to town and screaming about the end of the world.

What is this country turning into?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Media Mediocrity

The San Diego Union Tribune is owned by the Los Angeles Times, and so an LA Times writer's comumn appears in the Union Tribune saying that the Chargers should stay in San Diego, not based on San Diego wanting to keep them, but on the basis that when they were in Los Angeles they failed. Of course that was 54 years ago, and at that time all AFL teams were failing, the AFL itself was failing, but let's not let historical perspective get in the way of trying to make a point.

He debunks Dean Spanos' claim that 25% of the Chargers fan base comes from the LA area by saying that "I've never met one."  I rather doubt that Spanos claim myself, but I'm not satisfied that one sportswriter's claim to have met every existing football fan in Los Angeles County is adequate proof that Spanos is lying.

One of the narratives is that today’s Chargers could take the town from the Rams if they win more games. But that didn’t work back then. While the Rams were 4-7-1, the Chargers and starting quarterback Jack Kemp were 10-4 and advanced to the AFL’s first championship game against the Houston Oilers.

Right, did you pick up on the "first championship game" bit? He is equating an established team in the NFL, with several division titles and a world class quarterback, to a first year team in a first year league, with players whose names were not known and whose whole existance was largely laughed at. Microsoft didn't exactly set the world on fire its first year, either. Hewlett Packard certainly didn't. Would he want to keep those entities out of his town today?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pandering to the Establishment

Paul Krugman panders to the status quo today, engaging in his usual method of misquoting the people who he doesn’t like and applying his implications masquerading as facts out of context. The accuses Bernie Sanders of dishonestly proposing a health care plan that is “mostly smoke and mirrors.”

He says that the plan will “impose large middle-class taxes,”  and that it “relies on the assumption of huge cost savings,”  and, “it involves a huge magic asterisk.”

As to the taxes, Sanders proposes a progressive addition to the income tax, with heavier hits on the rich, so there is nothing “middle class” about it. Further, that tax replaces insurance premiums, deductibles, copays, and costs which insurance companies presently do not pay for various reasons. So if I pay $6000 more in taxes and am relieved of the $13,000 that I paid in medical expenses last year, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

The savings do not consist of one or two undefined “huge savings,”  they are outlined in the plan and are entirely realistic; money spent by the insurance industry marketing and managing its plans and generating profits, for instance, and the cost to doctors and hospitals for billing. The plan would also seek deep discounts from the drug industry, which Obamacare doesn’t even attempt.

The main thrust of the Sanders plan is universal coverage, to which Krugman devotes no attention. His entire piece is devoted to debunking exaggerated claims as to cost savings; claims which Sanders has never made. He says that to “get costs down to, say, Canadian levels, we’d need to do what they do: say no to patients, telling them that they can’t always have the treatment they want.”

First, Sanders never claimed we could “get costs down to Canadian levels,”  and what’s more, in order to do so we would no more have to deny health care than Canada does. We would simply have to begin paying reasonable salaries to doctors who perform complex surgeries, say $200,000 per year instead of $20 million. We would have to pay $8 per pill for cancer treatment instead of $750 per pill. Etcetera.

The title of his piece today spells out where this nation has gone. We have gone from Jack Kennedy taking us to the moon with, “We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard,”  to Krugman surrendering to the death of universal health care with “health reform is hard.”

Sanders says that we can provide health care to everyone in this nation and spells out how we can afford to do it. Sanders is right. Krugman, Clinton, Obama and the rest of the moneyed establishment point out that providing universal health care should not be attempted because it would be hard to do and “too disruptive.”
They are wrong.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

USA Network: Colony

I love science fiction and post-apolyptic stuff, so the long buildup for this show hooked me big time. Watched it last night and am fairly unimpressed by the slow start. Previews at the end give me some hope, but only a little.
I still have Mad Max:Fury Road and The Martian on tap, so...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fine Lines

From a comment made in an online discussion:

"17 cargo ships pollute as much as all the vehicles in the world. Necessary trade is … well … necessary, but trade for the purpose of wage arbitrage is evil, not only for moral harm of slavery, but for the enormous environmental harm it does."

A simple truth all too seldom told.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


The Iranians detained some Americans who strayed into their waters. It was entirely appropriate for them to do so, provided that they treated those sailors with respect and proper care. It appears they did so, and the sailors were promptly returned to American jurisdiction through diplomatic means. This is what happens when a powerful nation acts like an adult and actually talks directly with another nation which it considers to be an "enemy."

This relationship with Iran and the opening of Cuba are, in my opinion, the only two things which Obama can properly claim as true successes of his time in office. John Kerry deserves high praise, more so than Obama actually, for the Iranian agreement.

One can only hope that the next administration will continue and build on these initiatives, but the rhetoric from both sides gives little hope that such will be the case.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Know I'm Being Petty, But...

Salon.Com, with its pretense to importance in the political journalism field, has an article headlined, "The search for the perfect dildo: Size really does matter."

I no longer do anything more than browse the headlines of that website, and now I'm wondering why I continue to do even that.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Molly spends a lot of time on my lap, but not last night. I think she was hiding in the closet. All I know is that early in the second quarter she made a high speed exit from the living room. My wife stayed in the back bedroom but not, so far as I know, in the closet.

Alabama’s defense was not nearly as bad as I was accusing them of being; at high volume apparently, and using some of my Navy language. Deshaun Watson is really good, but when you are rushing a dropback passer who can run like that you need to shut off the fucking running lanes. How do you repeatedly have two pass rushers put their hands on him 13-15 yards behind the line of scrimmage and then have him run for a first down?

Nick Saban apparently agreed with me, at times anyway. First time I’ve ever seen him throw his headphones. Sort of an exercise in futility, it turned out, since they were tethered to him, but he made his point. When the defense came off the field they headed to the sideline as far away from him as they could get.

I was pretty hot at Saban when he left LSU, but the man is a quintessential gentleman and one of the best leaders in the coaching business. Nick Saban is, actually, what leadership is all about.

When invited by the idiotic reporter to say that special teams had won the game he declined. “Special teams had an impact,”  he replied, ”but we made some impact plays on offense and the defense made some important stops. This was a total team effort.”

When invited to compare this national title to the ones which preceded it, he declined that too. “Tonight is about this team and this championship. I could not be more proud of these guys.”  One gets an idea why his players put forth the effort for him that they do.

And then the man even smiled. I wasn’t sure he could.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ditch The Myth

The myth persists that the financial wizards of Wall Street were unaware of the danger of the financial instruments they were buying and selling, were too stupid to see the bubble of 2007 and were unable to predict the crash of 2008. This is a fallacy. They knew exactly what they were doing. They knew precisely the damage it would cause to the working class. They didn't care.

They also knew precisely how the government would react, if for no other reason that that they control the government. They knew that, while millions would suffer severe loss of wealth, they themselves would walk away from the wreckage with their wealth not only intact but enhanced. That was their plan, and they pulled it off.

They are doing it again, with a stock market overvalued by a factor of at least six times, much of the overvalue caused by stock buybacks.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

On Payton Manning

Only people over sixty will get this, but I happened to see a couple of guys on ESPN discussing Payton Manning and his fourth-quarter entrance into the final game of the season. "He's like Charlton Heston in El Cid,"  one of them said, "where they prop him on a horse with a spear to hold him upright and drape a cloak over him and nobody knows he's dead, and they win the battle just from seeing him."

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Silly Cheerleading

A Reuters news item describes the US economy as being “on solid ground” due to an employment “surge”
in December employment, not thinking that much of that surge might have been part time and/or temporary holiday jobs, and specifically discarding “a troubling international backdrop.”  Other news items have used the same report to describe the economy as “on the right track” and “encouraging.”

First of all, the report did not actually portray the “robust employment data” that Reuters claims it did. The 292,000 job increase was from the “Establishment Survey,”  which reports jobs filled. Since many of those may be (are) part time jobs and the people filling them are people who were already working at other part time jobs, the impression of newly employed people is inflated. Additionally, if an employer creates a temporary job lasting one week, that is simply reported as a “new job created.”  If the employer does that two or three times, it is reported as two or three jobs created.

The “Household Survey” reports only 192,000 newly employed persons, and it does that only by means of a “seasonal adjustment”  to the numbers. Without that adjustment, that is by using the numbers as actually counted, the employment market actually lost 93,000
jobs in December.

Which numbers are accurate? Well, I don’t know, and that really is my point.

And to conclude from this reporting that employment is going in the right direction and start waving pompoms is particularly absurd. There were 3.5 million jobs added in 2014 and only 2.95 added in 2015 which, being a decrease of 15%, is most certainly not the right direction in a job market that is still well below full employment. Even worse is that manufacturing, which added 500,000 jobs in 2014, added only 30,000 in 2015. That’s a decrease of 94% - absolutely not “on the right track.”

They even mention that salaries are flat, not really even keeping up with inflation, and simply toss that aside with the impression of, “Oh well, we’ll deal with that later.”

And the “international backdrop,” which they so blithely ignore, is a good bit more than “troubling.” Notice what’s happening in China right now? The Chinese economy is essentially crashing, the Japanese economy is doing that slow motion thing like two planets colliding in a sci-fi film, and most of Europe is clearly heading into recession if it isn’t already in one.

Reuters is apparently in the economic camp that believes that America has “decoupled” from the world economy and will be unaffected by economic conditions outside our borders. I’m sure the ostrich felt that way, too, until a lion came up and bit it in the ass.

Friday, January 08, 2016


Lovie Smith, after leading Tampa Bay to a 6-10 season in his second year rebuilding the Buccaneers as head coach, 3-3 in the division, got fired this week.

The Chargers on the other hand, after suffering a 4-12 season, 0-6 in the division, and its third year of missing the playoffs under head coach Mike McCoy, not only will allow him to complete his contract through 2016, but gave him an extension which will keep him on board through the 2017 season. Awesome.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Weather Today

lego maniaWho says San Diego doesn't have weather? We have weather; we just don't have it very often.

And sometimes we overdo it a bit. There are no fewer than six hazard notices at the moment, including flash flood warning, high surf warning, flash flood watch, wind advisory, severe thunderstorm warning and beach hazard advisories. The latter has to do with unusually high tides driving surf across costal roads and highways.

My wife, cat and I live on high ground, so...

Update, 3:10pm: And they just added a tornado warning for the area where my wife is currently at work, extending south to less than a mile from where the cat and I are at home. Less and less I like this El Nino.

Executive Action

I am not all “up in arms” about Obama stealing my guns for several reasons, chief among them being that his executive orders amount to the classic “sounding brass; filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Actually, it is a “tale told by an idiot” which is full of sound and fury, and sounding brass is properly compared to tinkling cymbals, but I like the mixed metaphor better. Otherwise I would either have to call Obama an idiot or compare gun control to tinkling cymbals, and neither one really works for me.

He has not “closed the loophole” allowing purchase of guns at trade shows and online without background checks, because no such loophole exists. Dealers at trade shows are required to do background checks, and online dealers are required to ship firearms to a licensed dealer to have a background check performed before delivery to the purchaser. Perhaps better enforcement is needed, but the laws are in place, so Obama’s executive order is essentially window dressing.

He does attempt to put a halt to those at trade shows who claim to be “hobbyists” and therefor exempt from regulation, but only to the extent of pointing out that doing so is already illegal. Enforcement is not going to be any easier in the future than it is now, so I’m not sure what this part of his proclamation actually accomplishes.

In any case, not one mass shooting to date has been performed with a gun bought online or at a gun show without a background check, so Obama is not even locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, he is locking the door of a barn which has never contained any horses.

He is not adding 200 new agents to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, he is asking Congress to fund that addition. Congress isn’t going to do that, so write that off as mere rhetoric.

The rest of it is a lot of fluff about background checks but, again, not one shooting has been a issue with a firearm purchased as a result of a background check failing to discover information. Where persons who could not legally buy a gun had them in their possession, the gun was either stolen or was purchased for them by another person who was legally able to buy the firearm. How are background checks going to stop that?

I’m not opposed to background checks, not in the least bit. But I don’t think that they, or any amount of puffery and window dressing from the White House, is going to solve the problem.

What I do have a problem with is the whole Obama meme of, “If Congress won’t do it, I will.”  There is simply nothing in the constitution which authorizes that. The statement itself is an abuse of power, as are any executive orders which arise from it.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Krugman Opens My Year

Paul Krugman ends the old year by engaging in his usual habit of misinterpreting data, saying in a blog post that, “it’s now a fact as opposed to a mere projection that Obama significantly raised taxes at the top.”  Actually the president can’t set tax rates, and so to whatever extent tax rates were raised, they were raised by Congress.

Further, the chart presented by Dr. Krugman shows that they were raised by a Republican-controlled Congress, a feat which the Democratic-controlled Congress never even attempted when they had a Democratic president. The chart shows that taxes on the rich rose slightly in Obama’s first term when Congress was led by Democrats, and then moved right back down until they were at the same low level in 2012 that they were at in 2007, before Obama was in office.

That’s because Obama could negotiate nothing more than a two-year self-limiting tax increase with a Democratic Congress, and it was not until Republicans controlled the House that a significant, permanent tax increase made it through. That’s hardly the picture painted by Dr. Krugman’s piece.

One could also quibble with Krugman’s claim that an increase from 19% to 25% is “significant.”  It strikes me as rather trivial, given that the top rate in 1960 was 90%.

I know, I know, “the Republican minority blocked legislation” and all that, but when a majority cannot execute its agenda, it does not deserve to continue governing as a majority.