Thursday, March 31, 2016

No Problem: It's Free!

The Chargers have finally announced their $1.8 billion stadium plan, and it won’t cost us a dime. Not a penny. We get it free for nothing. Yea, let’s vote for it. Does it include a pasture for the unicorns?

The plan does include an addition to the downtown convention center, but not in the location that the convention center wants the expansion to be built. The expansion is across the railroad tracks and several blocks away from the existing center, while the center (quite understandably) wants the expansion to be an extension of the existing building; something which is entirely feasible.

Let’s start with the first fiction in the plan; that hotel visitors would pay for it by raising the hotel tax from 12.5% to 16.5% and devoting that money to the stadium. Well, no, the tax is not presently 12.5% because it was raised to that rate illegally and the court reduced it back down to its present rate of 10.5%. So in actuality the plan would raise the tax from 10.5% to 16.5%, which is a significantly greater increase than is presented by proponents of the plan. It's not a 30% increase in the hotel tax; it's a 60% increase. Honesty never plays a major role in these things.

Sportswriters and politicians say flatly that such an increase will not reduce tourism, citing no surveys or studies to back that up, but pointing out that Anaheim and San Francisco have similar tax rates. Indeed they do. Anaheim has Disneyworld and San Francisco has, well, San Francisco. We have Indeed. Hotel owners are less certain. They don’t mind the 2% increase, voted in favor of it themselves when the increase was for the purpose of tourism marketing, but the 6% thing worries them a bit.

These hotel taxes would be paying off $1.15 billion in bonds. Those bonds would be spent, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, as follows: $350 toward the football stadium, $600 million for the convention center, and $200 million to buy land. No mention is made as to why they are not saving $200 million by using the vast tract of land the city already owns in Mission Valley, where Qualcomm Stadium is presently located.

The NFL is “paying $300 million” which was a significant contribution back when the stadium plan was $800 million, but seems pretty paltry now that the price tag is $1.8 billion. Not to mention that $200 million of that is actually a loan, and that there is no mention in the plan as to any source of funds with which to repay that loan. Unicorns pooping gold bars, perhaps?

The Chargers are “paying $350 million” which they will recover by selling seat licenses and naming rights. That means, of course that they are not actually paying anything.

It’s unclear whether passing this idiocy will require a simple majority, or if the California law which says that tax increases require two-thirds majority will be in effect. A court recently ruled that special interest purpose taxes only require a simple majority, which to me sort of defeats the whole purpose of the law, but the impact of that ruling on this issue is unclear.

Preliminary polls show that the San Diego public is sufficiently gullible to go for any con job that is sold to them as “something for nothing.”  While just under 30% favored building a new stadium, 54% seem to favor this combination of the expansion that the convention center doesn’t want and the stadium that almost nobody wants. If it’s free we want it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Inequality and Minimum Wage

I am in no way opposed to raising the minimum wage to $15 state wide. Hell, raise it to $20 if you want. Just don’t brag about having accomplished anything, because income inequality is not caused by the minimum wage being too low, and wealth maldistribution has even less to do with how much one gets paid for flipping hamburgers.

One person responded to an interviewer’s question about the raise by saying that his family could "go out to dinner once a month or so and vacation at Disneyland once in a while.”  Sounds about right. It’s not a Warren Buffet lifestyle, but it’s what now passes for an American dream. Dinner at Olive Garden and Disneyland.

That is today’s America. Dream small. Rail about super wealth of the rich and income inequality, and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Pathetic.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

War: The Great Distraction

We are told, this weekend, that our Special Forces killed the “number two man” of the Islamic State. My response is to ask what all of this is accomplishing for us. What is the end point in this war; a war which we have been fighting for so long and with such futility that we are no longer willing to even call it a war?

We have been pounding our chest for more than seven years now over our brilliant execution of Obama’s plan to win the war on terror by killing the top leaders of terrorist organizations, and where are we? The only thing we have accomplished is to expand the scope of the effort.

When it began seven years ago we were using drone strikes in Pakistan. Now we are using drones and air strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mali, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Somalia. And those are just the ones we know about.

I suspect the truth is that it doesn’t end because it serves someone’s interest for it to continue indefinitely. It serves as a distraction from the real reason that this nation’s government does not serve its people. It ends when the people of this nation refuse to be distracted by it.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Think About It

The symbol for the Democratic Party is a jackass.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Paul Krugman, Twit

Paul Krugman reminds us on his blog today that he also has a Twitter account, that he is doing some "direct postings" to it and that, "Some of the tweets are even substantive." I will restrain myself from suggesting that very little that he says anywhere is substantive (well, that restraint didn't last long), but will ask what kind of mind is it that thinks that a "substantive" thought can be expressed in 140 characters or less. I'm thinking that such a position requires a rather trivial mind, but what do I know? I'm not a Nobel economist.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Oh, Really?

Danica Patrick was asked whether she or her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse was the better driver and, of course, said that she believed she is the better of the two. He finished third Sunday at Fontana; Danica was running 19th when she was wrecked. Furthermore, Danica ran what is now the Xfinity series for one year and finished 14th in the standings, in a year when only 15 drivers ran the entire schedule. Ricky ran in that series for two years and won the championship both years.

Someone is delusional, and it's not me.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Things I Read So You Don't Have To

Huffington Post has an article (yes, I know) entitled, “7 Things Everyone Over 40 Should Have In Their Kitchen.” I am 73 and have only one of the seven, and I’ll bet I am doing better than “everyone” who fills their list.

1. A seriously cushioned gel mat in front of the sink. They refer to this as “a lifesaver,” or at least “a leg and foot saver.” I certainly don’t have one, or need one, since I still work out in a gym and spend more time standing in front of the stove than the sink in any case. Have they never heard of automatic dishwashers?

2. Nomex Burn Guard oven mitts. Not only am I well over 40, but I have Parkinson’s Disease, and no, I don’t think so. They refer to these monstrosities as alternatives to “grabbing the nearest dish towel,” but I use perfectly good hot pot holders which are smaller, easier to hold things with, and occupy far less space in a drawer.

3. A non-electric can opener. That’s the one thing I have. I have never tried an electric can opener, and consider them idiotic.

4. Chafing dishes. Why suggest this to the “over 40 crowd?” This belongs to the “Miss Manners crowd” or to someone who is far more interested in appearance and style than in good food. I have no interest in serving up food from a steam table, having had enough of that when I was in the Navy.

5. Backup corkscrews. They suggest that “corkscrews have a way of disappearing.” Oh please. I’m old, not feeble minded. I’ve been using one corkscrew for 25 years, and it’s always right there in the second drawer down where I put it.

6. A knowledge of cookware and materials. Seriously? I’ve had that since I was in my twenties, and I don’t keep it in the kitchen (see the title), I keep it in my brain which is often in the bedroom or other parts of the house, and often is not in the house at all.

7. A window box of fresh herbs. Another thing that one can do in their twenties as easily as they can in their forties, so why is this offered as an “over forty” tip?

Apparently Arianna Huffington pays her writers at about the same rate that Joan Walsh does over at Salon.com.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Circular Firing Squad

Four times in the past week, on various crime dramas,
I have seen a couple of cops corner a criminal, get one on either side of him and both point their guns at him. Apparently they don't notice that they are also pointing their guns at each other which, it seems to me, is fraught with a certain degree of hazard.

Elections? What Elections?

There was an article in the New York Times yesterday headlined, “Republican Leaders Map a Strategy to Derail Donald Trump.”  It describes the various methods which “Republican leaders” are employing against Trump to “deny him the presidential nomination.”

Now, I am certainly no fan of that idiotic blowhard, but what part of democracy do these “Republican leaders” not get? What role do they believe it is that voters are supposed to play in a primary election?

Not that the Democrats are any better, really. The party has a nationwide database of voters and contributors, but that database is available only to incumbents. Members of the party who are running in a primary election against an incumbent Democratic office holder are denied access to these databases.

So Democratic voters think they are voting in a fair election, but they are not. They are voting in an election stacked in favor of the incumbent.

“You have a democracy,”  he said, “if you can keep it.”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Who Is The Major Power?

We have been in Afghanistan for fifteen years now, and we cannot really define why we are there with any believability, nor can we say when we are leaving. The Russians, on the other hand, after being in Syria for the purpose of restoring the Syrian government to a winning position in their civil war, have accomplished that goal in a matter of about six months and are sending their forces back home.

So which nation is a “major power” here? The one that was warning the other about the “quagmire” into which it was going to find itself, or the one which was and still is in a quagmire of its own?

Some would say that the Russian objective was “more limited,” which actually is a good part of my point; Russia had an objective, met that objective and is going home. If we have an objective in Afghanistan, it certainly has never been spelled out in any fashion that makes sense to any thinking, rational person.

Nor has any logical objective been set forth for our presence in Syria, because the effort to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State while helping Al Queda destroy Syria makes no sense whatever, especially given that we were carefully not attacking the Islamic State’s income-producing oil transportation system. Russia wiped it out in its entirety in about two weeks while we were castigating Russia for attacking Al Queda and accusing them of not attacking the Islamic State.

Maybe the problem is that the miracle F-35 has not yet arrived at the battle front yet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Democracy?

It is sort of amazing to me the degree to which the governing establishment has become openly, downright brazenly, undemocratic. It proves the saying the “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The Democratic Party has 715 “superdelegates” who are free to cast their votes for the nominee of their choice at the convention; who are not answerable to the voters in any way. Granted, they usually vote for the candidate who has the greater popular vote, and they are a smallish minority of the 1200 or so votes needed for nomination, but why do they exist at all? Why does the party establishment feel the need to have a not insignificant number of votes controlled by the establishment, and able possibly to thwart the will of the voters?

Further, why has the party establishment chosen to make public that the overwhelming majority of those superdelegates have already chosen in favor of the establishment candidate and against the challenger, if not to create a discouraging atmosphere with which to reduce participation of voters who might otherwise champion the challenger?

The Republican Party establishment is even more energetic in its effort to thwart the will of its voters. It may well be that stopping Donald Trump would be a worthy cause, but that is not what democracy is about. He is receiving by far the greatest majority of votes, and the party establishment is openly seeking ways to deny him the nomination no matter what choice the voters make at the polls. They have even gone so far as to openly discuss rigging the nomination process (they call it “brokering”) at the convention to deny the choice of the voters if that choice turns out to be Donald Trump.

Someone once said that we had a democracy if we could keep it, and clearly we have not kept it, because the governing establishment no longer even pretends that the votes of the governed class really count. They no longer pretend that public opinion matters, and no longer bother to make the lies that they tell us believable.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Well, Now We Know

The San Diego Chargers not only resigned Antonio Gates, they did a two-year deal for $12 million. So now we know that General Manager Tom Telesco either doesn't have a clue, doesn't watch the games, or both. Gates' pass route running can best be described as, "clump, clump, clump..." I think he runs about 8.7 in the 40. The only time he caught passes last year was when the opponent forgot to cover him at all, because a defensive lineman with a bad knee can cover him.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What El Nino? Where?

Media which is hyperventilating about El Nino and about “El Nino-driven storms”  has pretty much reached the point of being completely detached from reality. So far this rainy season has not even been of normally wet parameters, and what they should be writing about is the degree to which El Nino has turned out to be a non-event.

California snowpack is at 83% of its normal depth. Overall the state has received 89% of normal rainfall, with 83% for San Diego. Reservoirs statewide which were at 64% of capacity are at 69% now. None of that paints a picture of any sort of cataclysmic deluge, especially since those normals include four years of severe drought.

The last “El Nino storm” which came through San Diego dropped .6” of rain in a two day period. In most years we would not even call that a storm. We would call it “some rain” and it would be reported in the weather segment of the news, not on page one above the fold.

The media runs around and finds one tree that has fallen down, or one stream that has left its banks, and then runs that film clip over and over, giving the impression that the entire state is underwater and/or buried in fallen trees, but these events happen every rainy season in this part of the country, even during drought years. Hell, I’ve seen Eucalyptus trees drop major limbs on a sunny, totally windless day.

Severe storms in the lower Midwest are being connected to El Nino, but I think that is an unwarranted assumption. There are more tornadoes than usual, but they are occurring on fewer days, meaning that there are more occurring in each storm system. That indicates that the systems are more intense, which is almost certainly due to the greater energy content of the atmosphere in general due to climate change. It’s doubtful that El Nino has anything to do with it.

I think the media is writing based on its expectations and its desire for excitement rather than based on any sort of commitment to an informed public.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Of Course He Did

Jimmie Carter resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention this year, a religious body of which he has been a member for all of his adult life; on the order of seven decades.

Why did he do that? Because the organization passed a resolution declaring that women are inferior to men and cannot hold a leadership role in the church. That means women cannot be a pastor or chaplain in a military or a deacon in a church. Jimmie Carter and his wife could not hold that position and left their life-long church.

The man is a giant. He is the standard to which members of the Democratic Party should be held.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Pro-what?

Democratic candidates were asked, “Is there a time when you think abortion should be illegal?” The answers were as typical and as revealing of the candidates as anything I’ve heard yet. Sanders replied, “No, I am very strongly pro choice.” Clinton answered, “I have been on record in favor of a late pregnancy regulation with exceptions for the life and health of the mother.”

The answers were as typical and as revealing of the candidates as anything I’ve heard yet. Sanders keeps it simple, direct and unequivocal. Clinton’s “on the record” is interesting, since someone who is habitually honest doesn’t gratuitously preface a statement with an offer of proof and, while wanting to be in line with the Democratic "pro-choice" position, her “life and health of the mother” thing is a favorite phrase of the “pro-life” crowd.

Since late term abortion is virtually never done for any reason other than “the life and health of the mother,” she favors prohibiting the procedure except when the reason for doing it is the one for which the process is almost always done. Her statement is, in fact, the sort of empty triangulation for which the Clintons are infamous. It gives her credit for being “pro-choice,” while at the same time giving her a foot in the “pro-life” camp.

Hillary Clinton has no guiding principles which direct her statements. She is guided in her rhetoric only by the number of votes she thinks she can promote.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Um, No.

There are many reasons to dislike the concept of Hillary Clinton in the White House, but to claim that it is a breach of the 22nd amendment is not one of them. Please, let's keep some small shred of sanity.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

And You Expected Logic?

Sen. Bernie Sanders “could come out a winner in most of the weekend's presidential primary contests” according to a memo sent out by the Clinton campaign headquarters. Meanwhile, CNBC tells us that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “each look to strengthen their front-runner status” in those weekend primary races.

Meanwhile, Democrats say that the low turnout in their primaries is due to Republican voter registration laws. That is kind of amusing, since they have been saying all along that those laws are racist, targeted at preventing black voters from voting, and are now saying that Hillary is winning because black voters are turning out in great numbers and are voting for her in droves, while it is the white voters who are producing disappointing numbers.

My wife says that it is illogical to expect logic in political discussions, but then she is a Democrat.

Friday, March 04, 2016

More About Two Parties

My wife commented that the Republican Party establishment is overriding the voters to oust Trump because otherwise they will lose the general election. Assuming that to be true, which I’m not sure it is, that still is oligarchy rather than democracy.

Republican voters have long had a set of overriding principles. I don’t happen to agree with those principles, but I rather admire their willingness to lose elections when needed to send a message to their elected representatives that they expect them to abide by those principles. “Do what we elected you to do or we will throw you out of office.”

Democrats not so much. For one thing, if you put five Democrats in a room you will get six or seven sets of overriding principles. In any case, if a Democrat is elected to office and acts like a Republican, the Democratic voters might complain but will reelect him rather than risk losing an election. “Vote for anybody so long as they have a D after their name.”

The Democrats have been playing a “divide and survive” game for years, dividing their voters into many factions, making it much less likely that they will get thrown out for their demonstrated inability to govern.

No two legislators run on the same issue, or set of issues, so voters are fragmented into small splinter groups rather than being united behind one unifying set of ideals. As a result, their voters don’t know what they want their legislators to do, and are therefor not disappointed when they don’t do it. They just know, because this is the one unifying theme of Democratic legislators, that they do not want Republicans to win.

Now the Republican establishment is moving to the Democratic model, splintering the voters by throwing a plethora of candidates at them and campaigning on the horror of a Hillary Clinton presidency, and when the voters seem to be doing their usual thing of unifying behind one candidate the establishment frantically tries to unseat the people’s chosen candidate. In a democracy, if the people want to choose a losing candidate the party would be obliged to allow them to do so, whereas in an oligarchy we have the open admission that the establishment does not want the common voters to be in charge.

And nominating a losing candidate might very well be a perfectly logical choice for voters wanting to send a message to its party leadership that they have taken the party where the voters do not want it to be and willing to surrender control of the executive for four years in order to send that message.

“What we are doing is not working and we need to stop doing it. Even if the new thing is wrong, at least it’s different, and we are not merely repeating the same stupidity,” is a valid message. Democratic leadership is rejecting that message somewhat more subtly than are Republicans, but both parties are vigorously rejecting it.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

A Tale of Two Parties

The GOP establishment is frantically trying to thwart the choice of its voters by finding some way to “stop Trump” and nominate someone who is more acceptable to the establishment, but who would demonstrably be less acceptable to the voters because… Well, because whoever the establishment might choose, the voters have not been voting for him. This is not rocket science, really.

And not only are Republicans voting for the candidate that the GOP establishment does not want, they are doing so in record numbers. Turnout is unprecedented in every Republican primary so far.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the establishment is firmly behind a candidate who is winning by somewhat less of a margin than they would have you believe, and who is thought to be “dishonest and untrustworthy” by 53% of those who voted in Democratic primary elections so far. Apparently a significant number of Democratic voters are willing to vote for someone who is “dishonest and untrustworthy,”  which I think does not speak well for party principles, but that’s a different issue.

The “superdelegates,” who do not answer to voters and which have no equivalent in the Republican Party, are almost 100% pledged to this establishment candidate. The Democratic National Committee scheduled the debates for the convenience of the establishment candidate, and the establishment is actively trashing both the person and the policies of the rebel candidate.

Meanwhile, turnout in Democratic primary elections is something close to a disaster, down anywhere from 35% to as much as 50% in every primary election to date from the last contested primary in 2008.

The media is trumpeting about how the establishment candidate currently has a lead that is larger by percentage than the lead Obama enjoyed at any time in the 2008 campaign, but that may be caused by the fact that most of the voters cannot stand the establishment candidate and have been convinced by the media and the establishment that the rebel candidate cannot win, and are staying home in disgust.

What the parties have in common is that neither of them is paying the slightest bit of attention to the voters and are, in fact, openly rejecting what the voters are saying to them. How this will play out remains to be seen, but this nation’s transformation to oligarchy is now complete.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Good for Minnesota

My senior niece lives in Minnesota and sometimes got a little weary of me ribbing her about Michele Bachmann, claiming that that district is an anomaly in the state. Minnesota is not, she says, populated by idiots, but is filled with very pleasant and intelligent people.

I have been pretty sure she was telling the truth given that she lives there and given that state’s two Senators, both of whom are not only sane but show signs of being extremely intelligent, and yesterday’s primary election provides further confirmation of her assertion.

Bernie Sanders not only won the state, he won it by a rather large margin, and not only did Trump fail to win, he came in third. Too bad about their winters. I guess between idiots and beaches and what Minnesota has And yes, I speak from experience. I spent nine winters in Wisconsin and Minnesota is, if anything, worse.

Minnesota was, however, pretty much the only bright spot in yesterday’s mess. The media is overstating the case when they claim that Bernie is toast, and I think Hillary is exercising her proclivity for arrogance by writing him off and beginning her campaign against Trump. But let’s face it, we are more likely than not going to be faced with a choice between Hillary and Donald in the fall, which is much like being offered a dinner choice between horse shit and vomit.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

On Minimum Wage

I have no objection to raising the minimum wage. There is no real proven downside to it, but I see no upside which is of sufficient significance to make it a major plank in the Democratic Party platform. The party’s emphasis on raising the minimum wage makes the Democratic Party the party of low expectations.

If Democrats were “fighting for working men and women” as they claim to be doing, but most certainly are not, they would be talking about bringing the $30/hr jobs and the $45/hr jobs back from overseas. They would be talking about restoring the power of the working class by reinvigorating labor unions and collective bargaining. They, including Bernie Sanders, are not even touching on those subjects.

Those $30/hr and $45/hr jobs began being lost to offshoring during a Democratic Clinton administration, resulting in no small part from a NAFTA treaty promoted vigorously by Hillary Clinton as well as her husband. Remember Ross Perot and his “giant sucking sound” claim? He was laughed at but he was precisely right.

Defenders of the policy of permanently making America a minimum wage economy claim that “those jobs are never coming back”  or that “those jobs cannot be brought back,”  but they have no cogent arguments as to why that is so. Those jobs can be brought back, but it would be hard, and this country apparently no longer does hard things.

In fact, the Democratic Party embraces the continuance of the offshoring of our economy with its support of “free trade”  as defined by the current extension of NAFTA to the Pacific Ocean nations; a pact known as the TPP.

Obama promised in his campaign that he would support labor unions, including a noteworthy statement that whenever there was a picket line, “I will be there at your side.”  It would not be unreasonable to assume he was speaking figuratively rather than literally, but he remained completely disengaged as the Wisconsin governor disbanded the unions in that state, offering not even token verbal support for the working class.

If Democrats were “fighting for working men and women” as they claim to be doing, they would be talking about ways to restore collective bargining so that employees would no longer be powerless when dealing with employers. They would be finding ways to eliminate the "right to work laws" which are passed by legislatures at the behest of business campaign contributors and not by voters.

One has to remember that when we “vote for the lesser evil” we are still voting for evil. The status of the working class is not going to change in this country until we throw evil out, both greater and lesser, and make it clear that we are demanding something better.