Monday, February 29, 2016

No Crystal Ball Needed

In addition to mind reading, I also flunked fortune telling in high school and so that is another thing which I generally eschew in discussion and writing. Still, one can see trends without needing the use of a crystal ball.

Democrats are concerned about low turnouts in the primary elections and, for the most part, are unsure what to do about it. Consensus seems to be they need a higher profile by the likes of Bill Clinton on the campaign trail, and that the candidates perhaps need to yell a little louder or something.

It doesn’t occur to them that while Hillary Clinton is viewed by 53% of Democratic voters as “not honest or trustworthy,”  everyone in the Democratic establishment is telling voters that if they nominate Bernie Sanders they will lose the White House to the Republicans. I can think of no better strategy for keeping voters away from the polls in droves.

Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to find a way to get rid of Donald Trump because he is winning. Do I need to explain the insanity of that?

This election is going to be a) disgusting and b) weird.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Logic Does Not Prevail

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said in a Senate hearing on Feb 11th that, “there are now more Sunni violent extremist groups, members and safe havens than at any time in history.”

This after thirteen years of a military adventure in Afghanistan which Obama has repeatedly described as being for the purpose of “denying them space in which to plan their attacks.”  This after seven years of Obama’s plan for raining down death and terror in at least seven countries using Hellfire missiles fired from unmanned drones at “suspected terrorists.”

If what you are doing is not working

Friday, February 26, 2016

Peak Stupid

Every time I think that I have seen the ultimate example of the stupidity of which the American people are capable, I find that there are new heights yet to be scaled. The latest is a poll showing that people like the Sanders plan of “Medicare for all,”  but not if it is accompanied by a tax of 2% on gross income.

Just stop a moment and think about the Sanders plan. We presently pay a tax for Medicare; 1.45% which we pay for our entire working careers and which covers us, statistically, only for the last twenty years of our lives. Sanders is offering to extend that to our entire lifetimes, that is by more sixty years, four times the coverage, for only 2% more, an amount which is barely more than double. That is a howling bargain.

Not to mention that the Sanders plan replaces private health insurance. Would you rather pay 6% or more of your income to a private insurance company than pay 2% to the government, merely because the latter is called a “tax”  for God’s sake?

Besides the “peak stupid” of that, I must comment on the endless appetite of the public for government benefits while being totally unwilling to pay for any of them. That is in part stupidity, an ignorant hatred of the word “tax,”  but it is in part due to elements of selfishness and greed in our national culture which are profoundly disturbing to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Can GOP Stop Trump?

Interesting question. The answer is a lot less interesting than is the question itself. As in, if Trump is the choice of people who are voting for him, why would the Republican Party want to "stop" him? Curious.

Big Money Bites It

The Los Angeles developer who spent $10.5 million on a campaign to pass “Measure A,” which calls for building a mega-mall on the shore of a lagoon in Carlsbad, actually lost yesterday. A small, underfunded group with $100,000 to spend won the day by a narrow margin.

Sadly, $75,000 of funding for what turned out to be the winning side came from a competitor of the LA developer, owner of a nearby mall which would have been in competition with the new mall, so the “save the lagoon” group was not entirely the noble cause that it presented itself to be.

Still, Los Angeles big money did not win the day. Sons of bitches didn’t get our football team (at least not yet), and they didn’t get our lagoon, either.

Most of the $10.5 million was spent on television ads that talked about “saving 176 acres of open space,” about being “good for us local businessmen,” and about “reducing traffic” and “shorter red light wait times.” Because every small business wants a shopping mall nearby competing with him, and we all know that no shopping mall ever creates traffic.

While swanning about “saving 176 acres of open space,” no mention is made about the 49 acres of open space being destroyed by the mall. As a matter of fact, none of the ads mention anything about a shopping mall at all. Most people outside of Carlsbad did not even know that Measure A had anything to do with a shopping mall. “Shopping mall? What shopping mall? I thought it was about open space.”

I am somewhat cheered. For once, big money and dishonesty did not prevail.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Rendering Incoherent

I believe Obama is sitting in the White House thinking, "What can I do next to really piss of the Republicans?" Nominating a Supreme Court justice is too obvious, and he wants to dangle that one in front of them for a while anyway. Then the proverbial light bulb appears over his head. "I know,"  he declaims, "I'll go to Cuba."

Incoherent Campaign

Hillary Clinton now trails Bernie Sanders by 47% to 44% in a national poll. Before reading too much into that, it should be noted that it is a Fox News poll and that, like the general election, popular vote doesn’t really matter. A candidate has to garner delegates, and Hillary still has a significant advantage in that metric, if for no other reason than the superdelegates who do not care what voters think and are unanimously pledged to Hillary.

Still, it does show that her campaign message of “I am the reason you can’t have nice things” is not going over very well against the Sanders message of “vote for me if you want nice things.”

Hillary’s message, an effort to counter the Sanders liberalism and loudly applauded by Paul Krugman, is that candidates for office should not make promises on which they cannot deliver. I don’t know where she got that idea, since candidates of all political parties have been doing it for more than two centuries. In fact, she is doing it quite a bit of it herself in this campaign, but I won’t get into that.

Her argument is that Democrats shouldn’t try to do good things because the Republicans will stop them. She uses as an example how Republicans blocked Obama, and then claims she is “running for a third Obama term” and doesn’t seem to think that is just a little bit incoherent.

Which leads me to believe that if she occupies the White House we will have another president saying things like, “We are denying them space in which to plan their attacks.”

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Feline Logic

Whenever my wife needs to leave early, jury duty today for instance, she tries to be as quiet as possible, but her efforts are in vain. As soon as the damned cat has finished breakfast she considers it her bounden duty to use her feline wiles to get my lazy ass out of the bed.

Her breath usually smells like dead fish at that point, so the experience is not as much fun as it might be.

Why she needs me out of my bed is unclear, because the minute I am up she curls up in her bed and goes to sleep.

And On Google

A headline reading, "Near-Earth Asteroids are Spectacularly Destroyed Before Reaching the Sun."

They go on to say that the actual mechanism causing asteroids to disrupt is still unknown because the destruction itself has never been seen, and so they don't know, in fact, whether they are "spectacularly" destroyed or whether the destruction is utterly mundane and would bore the viewer to tears.

That is not, however, going to stop them from writing a colorful headline. It's called "clickbait."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

No, I Did Not Read It

On Salon.com I find a featured headline which reads, Beyond "Hookers For Hillary", with a subhead reading, "Nevada's Bunny Ranch workers are drawing attention to the varied, complex and often-ignored politics of sex workers." Oddly perhaps, I am not particularly interested in the "politics of sex workers." God help us all.

On Election Coverage

I don't discuss the election much because I have been around too long. It is a well known cycle, endlessly repeating itself. The electorate realizes the party in power is incapable of governing, so it votes the other party into power, only to rediscover that it also is incapable of governing. Rinse and repeat.

By definition, a political party is incapable of governing because governance and maintaining itself in power are incompatible goals. Political parties are not concerned with governance. Their goal is to keep themselves in power, and inevitably that goal becomes so transparent as to be self defeating.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Another Initiative

The television is flooded with advertisements supporting “Measure A” in Carlsbad, coming up in a February 23rd special election in that San Diego suburb. Since I don’t live in Carlsbad I haven’t been paying much attention, but my initial reaction was to oppose the idea simply because somebody, known only in the ads as “Citizens for Agua Hedionda,” is spending so much money to support it. “Follow the money” and all that.

Turns out it is a plan to construct a huge mega-mall on the south shore of Agua Hedionda lagoon. It was approved by the City Council before being blocked by a citizen’s initiative. The City Council is still lobbying furiously in favor of the mega-mall, which makes me think they are still trying to earn their bribes campaign contributions.

One of the ads includes the City Fire Department, complete with firefighters in uniform and a fire engine in the background, supporting the measure because it will reduce traffic and reduce wait times for the arrival of fire fighters when you call for them, in that it “requires the developer to provide $10 million for infrastructure.”

Anyone who believes that a $500 million mega-mall is going to reduce traffic probably also believes that $10 million is a lot of money when it comes to building roads. That amount will build an entrance to the mega-mall, but that’s about all it will do. It certainly isn’t going to add a lane for the entire length of Pacific Coast Highway, and if you think $10 million in road construction is going to make the Fire Department get to your house faster, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

On closer review, the city’s brochure doesn’t mention the fire department at all; it only talks about red light wait times for regular drivers. Maybe that’s what the firefighters are actually talking about with their “wait times,” in which case what does the fire department have to do with anything and why are they making the ad?

Another ad has a weathered looking lady standing before a field of wild flowers that stretches to the horizon. She tells us breathlessly that “Measure A will protect 176 acres of open space,” and waxes poetic about the wonderfulness of the coastal wildlife.

She wants you to think that field behind her is what she’s talking about, but an acre isn’t anywhere near that big. A football field is three acres. Besides, if the measure fails and the mall isn’t built the existing open space of 225 acres will remain 225 acres of open space. So the measure doesn’t “protect 176 acres of open space” so much as it destroys 49 acres of open space.

But that’s how the “initiative process” works in California. The side with the money says nothing about building a mega-mall, telling the public we are building roads, reducing traffic and preserving 176 acres of open space. The side that has no money is unable to get the message out that the plan is about a mega-mall, increased traffic and destroying 49 acres of existing open space. And, of course, the money usually wins.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

This Is Promising

Chase Elliott, son of Bill Elliott, won the pole at Daytona today. Not the first time a rookie has done so, but he is the youngest driver ever to have done it.

Matt Kenseth is the other driver with a guaranteed starting spot (2nd). All others will race for starting position in a pair of qualifying races on Thursday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What Recovery?

Journalists and politicians are still touting new unemployment claims as evidence that our economy is still strong despite the declining stock market, evidence signaled by the bond market, and that the rest of the world is clearly going into recession. We are not going into recession because our economy has “decoupled” from the world economy and workers are, presumably, not being laid off in droves. Today’s political candidates are hoping that theory holds up through the elections.

Unemployment is a “lagging indicator” moreover, meaning that the numbers are affected after the fact rather than beforehand, and economists know that. So to be using the unemployment numbers as a predictor of the economy is ignorance, stupidity or outright dishonesty.

In any case, our economy in terms of the working class is not strong and never even came close to any kind of “strong recovery” from the 2008 recession.

Ian Welsh, who is Canadian and is therefor guilty of a certain degree of honesty seldom found in this nation, presents a graphic depiction of the working class “recovery” in this country. It is striking and has great impact because he presents only the facts that are needed to paint a complete picture, using three graphs.

First he shows the graph of the official percentage of the workforce unemployed as calculated by the government’s Bureau of Lies and Scams, whereby if you are disgusted with the job market and are no longer looking for a job you are not unemployed, even though you do not have a job and are living with your parents and eating their food. Most journalists and politicians pull this graph out and wave it around, pointing to how the line plunges from a high of 10% down to its current 5% and claiming that it proves how wonderfully the economy has improved.

This graph is rather dramatically countered with another graph showing the percentage of the work force which is currently employed. Politicians and journalists never show or refer to this one because it drops from a high of 65% prior to 2008 down to below 59% in 2009, and it never significantly goes back up. There are fewer ways to cook these numbers, because whether you are looking for work or not, you are not participating in the work force if you do not have a job.

Notice, too, how the line did not start to drop noticeably until some time after the recession started, further evidence that unemployment cannot be used as a predictor of economic conditions.

One commentor promptly claimed that the reduced participation in the workforce was caused by illegal immigration which is, of course, utter nonsense. The work force is counted using Social Security numbers, and illegal immigrants don’t have Social Security numbers. The growth in the work force is caused by eighteen-year-olds, who are not in the work force, turning nineteen and becoming part of the work force.

His last graph provides the change in income for various wage groups between 2006 and 2014, which completes the picture that leads to the title of this piece.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Freelancing Backfires

I was making jambalaya yesterday and discovered I was out of creole seasoning. So I just made my own, grabbing bottles from the spice rack and throwing shit in the pot at random. It turned out awesome, better than it does when I use my usual Zatarain's, but now I have no idea whatever what I put in it. I don't mean how much of what, I mean what the hell it was that I put in. Next time take notes, fool. Oh well, back to Zatarain's.

Why?

If you are a man and you vote for a man because he is a man, you are an asshole. But, according to Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, if you are a woman and you don't vote for a woman because she is a woman, "there is a special place in hell reserved for you."  If voting for a man due to gender is sexist, why isn't voting for a woman due to gender sexist?

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Hyping the Threat

When we launch a satellite into orbit we are “launching a satellite” using a rocket. When North Korea does so it is “testing a missile that could reach the United States” and, of course, it’s not a rocket it’s a missile. Even more alarming is that the satellite which the “missile” put into orbit was “about the size of a nuclear bomb” and it crossed over the Super Bowl.

Never mind that the game had been over for more than an hour, so it didn’t “cross over the Super Bowl,”  it crossed over an empty stadium. And we won’t go into how many things our satellites cross over, but it can be summed up as pretty much everything on the planet.

I love the bit about the satellite’s size. Nuclear bombs are top secret, so only a few people know how big they are, and none of them work for CBS News. I’d say it’s a safe bet that nuclear bombs come in a fairly wide variety of sizes, so claiming that the North Korean satellite is “about the size of a nuclear bomb” is hyperbole pretty much on the face of it.

I think this means we probably have to nuke North Korea.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Post Game

That was a good game if you like defense, which I do, but Phil Sims can near as dammit ruin a Super Bowl. Most of the time he has no idea what is going on and merely babbles from the vacuum which exists inside his head. Ginn catches a 32-yard pass and Simms tells us, "Of course Ward was all over it."  Ward was three steps away from it, which is why Ginn caught it.

I was disappointed in Cam Newton at several levels. He choked from the first quarter on. In the third quarter he backed away rather than making any attempt to recover his own fumble. And his lack of class after the game gave Auburn a bad name. Too bad. I won't enjoy watching him as much next year. If he'd merely had a bad game, sure, but to lose his professionalism during and after the game like that, to display the "I'm a classy Mr. Showboat, but only when I win,"  is just trashy.

People, including his own coach, are making excuses for him. "He's young and needs to grow into the role." Balderdash. This was his fourth year in the NFL and his fourth year as a starting quarterback for his team.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Pregame Ruminations

A few sports writers are picking the Broncos, but the Panthers are the overwhelming favorite. I can’t even really say which team I want to win, being a long time Broncos fan, and having been a fan of Cam Newton since he played for Auburn. The second half of that is quite a statement coming from someone for whom the opposite of “stop” is spelled with an “x.”  John Elway is is still with the Broncos and is my favorite player ever.

(For those not from the south, LSU, Geaux Tigers)

I would like to see Ronnie Hillman have a good day. He’s a little guy from San Diego State who was not supposed to make it in the NFL. I’d also like to see Ron Rivera have a good day. He is one of the finest gentlemen ever to grace the coaching ranks. Opposing teams, but...

As to eats: ribs and wings on the grill, and roasted potatoes. Not baby backs, but meaty ribs from a full grown pig, precooked yesterday and marinated overnight. I'm not really a big fan of wings, but my wife expressed a hankering and clipped a recipe from a magazine, and I want to encourage her suggestions so I went for it. Also precooked yesterday and marinated overnight for grilling today. Potatoes are those miniature golden ones, roasted until they are just slightly crunchy outside and nice and mealy inside.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Politics of Incrementalism

I am astonished, although perhaps I shouldn’t be, by the success of Hillary’s campaign against Bernie based on his ideas being “impractical” and that he could never get them through Congress. Like she could get anything through a Republican Congress, which hates her probably even worse than they do Obama.

But more than that, she is selling voters on the fear of losing. “We probably could not get it done, and trying to do it and failing would be a fate worse than death, so we must not, must not even try to do it.”  Never, she is telling us, attempt to do anything unless you are certain you can bring it off. Bernie keeps pointing out that you cannot get something done if you don’t even try to do it, but very few in the party leadership are listening.

What kind of political party buys into Hillary’s message? Who buys into a message that relative ineffectiveness is better than a risk of failure?

Nancy Pelosi does. As House Leader she would not permit a bill to come to the floor unless she knew in advance that she had the votes to pass it. She was never willing to come to the voters and say, “Well, we tried, but we were outvoted. Elect more of us and we will win next time.”  Instead, she didn’t even try.

Republicans voted something like twenty times to overturn Obamacare. It was a silly idea, in my opinion, but they were willing to lose a vote as often as necessary to keep trying to do something that they believe in. I respect that a whole lot more than I respect Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and their silly and cowardly politics of incrementalism.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Posted without comment

weekend forecast

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Paul Krugman is a Tool

Paul Krugman in the title of todays blog post says that his "head stagnates," which is true enough, but probably not in the way he meant when he wrote it. His head, mind, has been stagnating for some years.

In his post yesterday he manages to come up with a rationale that Clinton's "victory" in Iowa was not actually the virtual tie that statistics showed it to be, but was an overwhelming victory of massive importance.

Talk about being a tool of the establishment...

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Salon Does It Again

With an article titled, "7 places to find porn that’s actually worth watching."  I question the premise that any porn is actually worth watching, and I certainly did not go to any of the sites they listed. Just reading the descriptions of the sites that they considered to be "worth watching," gave me a bad case of the heebie jeebies. I'm not going to go into it here, but you can read for yourself what Salon considers to be "good porn."  Yikes.