Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dean Baker Does It Again

Dean Baker’s Tuesday column proves once again my theory that studying economics in college causes brain damage, when he says that this nation’s cuts in economic support to the United Nations were a waste of time because doing so didn’t really save us any significant amount of money.

He’s obviously not a parent. When you dock a kid’s allowance, do you calculate how much money that is going to save you?

He references a New York Times article which informs that a cut of $1.2 billion amounted to 22% of the UN operating budget, and that another cut constituted 28.5% of the UN’s budget for peacekeeping operations, which calculates to a cut of $1.94 billion. From that, a reader whose brain was intact could derive the information that Trump’s punitive cuts to the United Nations for its votes on the Jerusalem issue, no matter how ill advised, was fairly effective punishment.

Dean Baker, whose brain is clearly not intact, was critical of the Times for not telling their readers that the cuts of “slightly less than $3.1 billion” amounted to a mere 0.08% of federal spending. I’m not sure I trust the percentage, since he clearly is not a mathematician: the total of the cuts he cites comes to $3.14 billion, which is slightly more than $3.1 billion.

I’m surprised he didn’t related it to GDP, and I suspect he tried to but came up with a few thousandths of one percent and didn’t know how to express that in print. 1.65e-4% would be even less understandable to readers than… Readers would simply think his calculator blew up, and he’s talking about “informing readers.”

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Good Thinking

The NFL rearranged the schedule for the last week of the season, putting all games which involve teams "in the playoff hunt" in the 4:30pm EST time slot so that no team will know, as they begin their game, whether or not they are still alive in the playoffs.

Nice thought, but it screws the fans, because it means that any fan who wants to watch more than one of those meaningful games, or two by means of recording one of them, cannot do so because all seven of the games are at the same time and they are all carried between only two networks.

Good work. The NFL, as always, is putting the fans last.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Morning

from spaceThis may not seem impressive, but in San Diego we usually either have a "marine layer," which is a solid cloud layer, or the wind is offshore, in which case there are no clouds at all. In either case sunrise is, to say the least, unimpressive. So Molly and I had a nice treat this morning while the wife slept in.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Stealing The Game

The Pittsburg Steelers lost the game today because of an utterly ridiculous call by the officials with 13 seconds remaining in the game. The Pittsburg receiver caught a pass on the one-yard line, went to his knees, rotated his body, reached the ball across the goal line, placed the ball on the ground and let go of it. The officials ruled it an incomplete pass because the reception "did not survive contact with the ground."

The rule that this idiot was referring to requires the receiver to "make a football move" before losing control of the ball, either by contact with the ground or from a defender, or to make contact with the ground with any part of his body other than a hand or foot while in control of the ball, for it to be ruled as a completed pass. Apparently this official did not consider rotating one's body and reaching the ball across the goal line to be "a football move," nor did he consider both knees to be a "part of the body other than a hand or foot."

Actually, by another rule, once the ball crosses the goal line in an offensive player's control, which it very clearly did in this case, it is a touchdown no matter what happens to it afterward. Apparently the official is unaware of that rule.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Off-Season Quickie

I'm not sure I want to mention "quickie" and Danica Patrick in the same article, but this piece doesn't have a whole lot to say. Danica announced that she would exit the stage by racing at the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 next year, but named neither sponsor or car owner at the time. There now seems to be a problem. Only two owners have cars in both races. Penske immediately sent a message to Ganassi saying that he hoped Ganassi would enjoy the 2018 experience with Patrick, and now her negotiations with Ganassi seem to be on the rocks.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quick Question

Do you think the tax bill would pass without all this sexual misconduct?

Two months ago, in an online discussion, I remarked that all of the hand wringing over the proposed tax bill was uncalled for because it could never pass in anything like its then-present form. I submit that the comment was entirely correct, given the circumstances at the time.

The great lie of Russian interference in the election had been repeated often enough that everyone believed it, but no one really cared any more because the "magic bullet" that proved that Trump had participated with the Russians in corrupting the elections, or that he was the Manchurian Candidate, had never materialized. The media had given it one last shot with a memo that he supposedly received about Wikileaks documents ten days before they were released, but after a couple days of hyperventilation it turned out he got the email, along with several million other people, four days after they were released.

So now we have this tidal wave of accusations of sexual misbehavior. They've been around for years, of course; Bill Cosby comes to mind. But now we have a tidal wave. Every day there are one or two new ones. Politicians, newsmen, football players, media stars, actors, journalists, chefs... And who is on the tail end of that parade? You got it, The ones who accused Trump early in the campaign and were ignored are back making the same accusations, but in this climate they are being taken very seriously indeed.

And because of this distraction, the tax bill, which I said two months ago could not pass, is going to pass into law before the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Eternal Question

Dean Baker is at it again, saying that the claims of employers that there is a shortage of skilled workers is nonsense because, “there are always workers with the necessary skills — they just might work for competitors or in another city,” and that all an employer needs to do is offer higher wages in order to lure those workers away from those competitors and other cities.

He offers no evidence for his statement, of course, let alone proof, but we'll let that go and proceed with our argument based on the accuracy of his unsupported allegation, unlikely as it may be.

So if you have an shortage of gas in the form of a 20-gallon tank with only 10 gallons in it and I have a full 20-gallon gas tank, all we have to do is siphon half of the gas from my tank to yours and the gasoline shortage is over, right? Because you now have 20 gallons of gas and I have…

Oh wait, something went wrong. There’s still the same shortage of gasoline, but it’s just in a different place. I now have it instead of you.

Only an economist would come up with the utterly stupid idea that you solve a shortage by moving that which is in short supply from one user to another. Which raises the eternal question. Do only idiots become economists, or does becoming an economist cause normal people to turn into idiots?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hoist On Their Own Petard

The media is presenting the concept of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of our embassy to that city as being some radical idea conceived in the insane mind of Donald Trump and sprung as a major surprise into the politics of the nation, catching everyone on the wrong foot and at a loss for how to respond to such an insane idea coming from such a stupid and inexperienced idiot.

I have been waiting for one news pundit, just one, to mention the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, Bill S-1322 passed by votes of 93-5 in the Senate, and 374-37 in the House and not vetoed by William Jefferson Clinton, allowing it to become law on Nov. 8, 1995.

The law mandates that the US recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and requires that the State Department move our embassy to Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999. The bill provides that failure to move the embassy would be punished by a cut of 50% in State Department funding.

It is worth noting that among the people who voted for the bill and are now screaming about Trump’s insanity in this particular action are John McCain and Dianne Feinstein, so both sides are in on the hysterical hypocrisy.

Clinton, Bush and Obama all repeatedly took advantage of the bill’s provision for a six-month delay in implementation based upon national security concerns. Trump used one such delay, but is now carrying out the will of Congress.

Anyone with more than half a dozen functioning brain cells has to be wondering why the media is so intent on condemning Trump for carrying out the will of Congress and so unconcerned with addressing the insanity of people in Congress complaining about Trump acting to implement their own law.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Democratic Thinking

Spoiler alert: the title is irony, perhaps sarcasm.

Democrats are leaping to claim that Al Franken should not have resigned because he has twenty women who claim that he did not sexually harass them and was, in fact, a perfect gentleman to them at all times.

So when a man is accused of robbing a bank, his defense should be to present a list of banks that have never been robbed. The judge will promptly bang his hammer on the bench and proclaim him innocent.

This actually parallels NFL gambler thinking, which now places the Los Angeles Chargers, with their 13th-best 6-6 record, as the third most likely team to win the Super Bowl, albeit with 15-1 odds. This despite the fact that they have not yet this season defeated a team which currently has a winning record.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Jobs Data Nonsense

The jobs report from the Bureau of Lies and Scams tells us that the country added 228,000 new jobs in November, which has economists ecstatic about the “robust economy” and has them swooning about the economy being “on its firmist footing in at least a decade,” but is leaving them confused about why “salaries show meager growth,” given their theory that increasing employment should lead to increasing wages.

Maybe it’s because the jobs increase is not as “robust” as the “Employer Survey” would lead us to believe, since the “Household Survey” tells us that 43,000 fewer were employed in November than in the previous month.

The report does turn that 43,000 fewer people into 57,000 more people employed on a “seasonally adjusted” basis, but one has to wonder how those seasonal adjustments are helping some 100,000 people pay their bills. Do the mortgage and utility companies accept seasonal adjustments as payment?

The absurdity of the method used by the BLS to report on the jobs situation in the nation simply defies belief. They conduct telephone surveys which result in two conflicting reports which inform us that 43,000 fewer people are filling 228,000 additional jobs. They then attempt to reconcile that discrepancy with “seasonal adjustments” of 100,000 fictional workers that suggest that 57,000 new workers are filling those 228,000 new jobs.

Really? Neither the 100,000 seasonal adjustments, nor the 57,000 imaginary new workers that result from the 100,000 seasonal adjustments can fill 228,000 new jobs.

If you’re going to make up numbers, at least make up numbers that work.

What sense, regardless of the rationale for them, do seasonal adjustments make? We’re talking about living breathing people here, and about whether or not they are able to feed their families. If you are in the labor force, are you employed, unemployed, or are you a “seasonal adjustment” as reported by the Labor Department? Ridiculous.

There is a very easy, fast and highly accurate method of reporting on the jobs status. Employers file payroll tax reports within ten days of every pay period, and from that data we can gain the exact number of people employed and the exact amount they are paid. The BLS says they cannot use those records due to “privacy concerns” which is utter nonsense.

Those databases can provide information in any manner which is programmed into them, including summary numbers and totals, and the information needed to provide jobs data can be provided all but instantaneously with total respect to the privacy of all individuals. Ignoring them to obtain contradictory, tardy, costly and contradictory data in the current manner is utter stupidity.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Worldwide Garrison as Homeland Defense

In an article datelined AFP, which presumably stands for the world’s third largest news agency Agence France-Presse, we are informed that the United States has announced that it is prepared to maintain a permanent military presence in Syria.

My immediate reaction is, “Well that’s no surprise. We maintain one everywhere else, why not Syria?” Which should not be interpreted to imply approval by me of anything.

Anyway, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told that news agency that, “We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to -- to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.”

Hard to imagine who Eric thinks “our partners” are, since the Syrian government has said repeatedly that our military is not welcome in their country and has told us in no uncertain term to get the hell out. That would seem to mean that “our partners” are forces fighting against the Syrian government, and against the Russians, and makes our presence there a very dicey proposition both on legal grounds and logistically.

Some people would, of course, describe the “partners” we are supporting as terror groups themselves, and do actually, but not all nations define terror groups in the same manner. That itself has actually been a point of contention in Syria for quite some years, but it’s a separate topic and would fill a book all by itself.

I’m beginning to see a trend here. We are maintaining a “multigenerational” presence in Afghanistan in order to “deny them space in which to plan their attacks” (which is very nice grammatically at least), and now are maintaining an apparently permanent presence in Syria in order to “support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.”

Aren’t we just fucking awesome?

Maybe not so much. The Roman Legions occupied Britain, France and Germany in order to keep the Visigoths from attacking Rome, and we all know how that turned out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Go Chargers?

Local sports writers are absolutely swooning over the fact that the Chargers (never mind that they are no longer a local team) are now tied for the division lead, having won five of their last seven games. Let’s see how close that brings them to the Super Bowl.

Other than the AFC West, the worst division is the AFC South, which is led by two teams tied with 8-4 records. The Chargers are in a three-way tie atop the AFC West with the Chiefs and the Raiders, all with 6-6 records.

The Chargers, in this seven game streak, have played two teams who currently have winning records. They lost both games. To underscore the point, of the five games they won, all of them have been against teams which currently have losing records.

They scored 19 points this past weekend against a team with a 0-12 record, winning by a whopping nine point margin. The Chargers are just majorly kicking ass, aren’t they?

Monday, December 04, 2017

Signs of The Times

Yesterday evening I went to Rubio’s to order a take-out meal for the Sunday Night Football game. Well, full disclosure, my wife doesn’t watch football so we watched a program on the DVR while we ate and then I watched the football game and wound up wishing I hadn’t. But this is not about the football game.

Two customers came in ahead of me with the same purpose, ordering take-out, one of them carrying a rather large dog. The dog was of a size such that the guy was barely able to carry it, and he had no small amount of difficulty keeping hold of it while waiting for his order. No employee informed the man that state law does not permit dogs to be in food service establishments, including the manager who spent her entire time delivering orders to tables and ignoring her employees, few of whom were actually working.

Three of the employees, in fact, were petting the dog and chatting with the owner, fellow dog owners apparently. None of them washed their hands before returning to their food handling duties. The manager saw that, but did not appear to notice it.

I saw my order placed on the kitchen’s serving shelf, two bowls of salad and two small containers of dressing. A worker, not one who had been petting the dog, put lids on the salads and put them in a bag, turned and called my name and handed me the bag, correctly describing my order. I looked in the bag, for effect because I already knew precisely what was in it, and told her that I didn’t see any dressing. Only then did she turn and notice the dressing containers sitting right there where she had taken the salads from.

And they want to be paid $15 per hour because…?

Certainly not because they are highly trained and know the rules under which they are working, like what is and is not permitted in their place of work and that they are required to have clean hands when handling food. Not because they are so attentive that when taking an order off of a shelf and putting it in a bag they are careful to get all of that order. Because, apparently, someone told them that they have rights and did not tell them that with rights come responsibilities.

We're real big on rights these days. Not so much on responsibilities.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Of Course She Did

A San Diego woman has filed a lawsuit for damages resulting from her participation in a protest that “spilled out onto I-5” from the USD campus last winter. Named as defendants in the suit are the university, the city, the police department and the driver of the car that hit her when she went onto the interstate highway.

She claims that the police, and apparently the city and somehow the university as well, should have prevented her and the crowd of protestors from leaving the campus and going onto the freeway. Not sure about her rationale regarding the driver of the car. Perhaps the driver should have levitated the car over the crowd.

The protestors were, of course, protesting the presidential inauguration, arguing that it should not have taken place because elections only matter when the right side wins.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Yes, The Name is Apt

Given fifteen years of military progress in Afghanistan and recent conduct of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, yes, I believe the Dallas Cowboys can appropriately be called "America's Team."

Meanwhile, local sports writers are swooning over the Chargers having won "five of their last seven games" and now being in contention to reach the playoffs. Right; with a current record of five wins and six losses. It should be noted that all five wins have been against teams with losing records; such notables as the Giants, currently 2-9, and the Broncos, who are currently 3-7. They have played two teams with winning records in that seven-game stretch, and have lost to both of them.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Specious Argument

Dean Baker used yesterday the kind of specious argument that is beginning to make me think that economists should simply be shot dead immediately upon graduation from economist’s school, claiming that the proposed increase in the standard deduction would decrease the value of the mortgage interest deduction.

His headline is about the elimination of state and local taxes as deductions, but that only serves as a lead to the taxpayer’s use of the standard deduction, which the tax plan would double in size. He immediately points out that, “The piece notes that doubling the standard deduction will reduce the number of people who itemize and therefore benefit from the mortgage interest deduction,” and thus has changed the subject away from the headline in the first paragraph.

Note the disingenuous argument here, when he refers to people who, “itemize and therefore benefit from the mortgage interest deduction.” If using the standard deduction results in a lower tax burden, how does it cause one to “lose the benefit” from the mortgage interest deduction? They are paying a lower tax.

The sleazy and dishonest part of his argument is what he means when he says that the new tax plan will “decrease the value,” specifically when the standard deduction is not large enough to overcome the advantage of itemizing and using the mortgage interest deduction, in which case he points out that difference between itemized and standard deduction would be smaller, thus making the itemized deduction “of less value.”

So when one thing costs more than another, if you raise the price of the cheaper one you devalue the higher-priced one.

Only an economist could argue that doubling the standard deduction is a bad thing. Just shoot them all and put us out of our misery.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mutual Poop Fling

Economists crack me up. They also annoy the shit out of me, sometimes doing both things at the same time. Dean Baker has yet another case in point where he makes a hilariously ridiculous statement in “correcting” an error that Robert Samuelson made in a print editorial.

He doesn’t link to Samuelson’s editorial, but from Dean’s rebuttals it seems that Samuelson claimed that our current trade deficit is being caused by the dollar’s status as “the global major currency,” inadequate government enforcement of patents and copyrights overseas, and the failure of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement to come to fruition.

I have no problem in agreeing with Dean Baker that Robert Samuelson is full of shit. My problem is that I don’t agree with his reason for thinking so, which is that “The reason the U.S. is running such large trade deficits was the decision by many developing countries to accumulate huge amounts of reserves…”

He does not make any mention whatever of consumers buying Korean televisions and Japanese automobiles, or the decision by American manufacturers to export the production of both industrial and consumer goods to foreign countries. No indeed, this nation had nothing whatever to do with creating the terrible trade deficit that is trashing our economy. It was entirely inflicted upon us by others, making us innocent victims of predatory foreign countries.

Economists should be sealed in a hogshead immediately upon graduation from college, stored in a deep isolated cavern and fed through the bunghole until they die of old age.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Security As Oxymoron

My wife and I switched health insurance this month, due to her phased retirement which will be finalized at the end of the year. United Health Care invited me to create a personal account at the website for the new plan, which I did Wednesday.

I had, of course, to create a username and password. The latter took me several tries due to a long list of rules for security reasons. It had to have a capital letter, a small letter, a number, and one of several special characters. It could not have any of several other special characters. No letter or number could be repeated more than once, and it could not contain any actual words.

All of this to protect entry into a site that does not allow any data entry, merely allows the viewing of data. They are seriously concerned with protecting my medical payments from being viewed by unauthorized eyes.

The next day I get an email from them thanking me for signing up at their website. It went on to say, “Please write down your username and password for future reference. You will need it to sign in the next time you visit our website.”

The emphasis is mine, because I am pointing out that they are asking me to render all of the complex security rules they have for creating the password entirely useless, since a password that is written down anywhere is completely insecure. (Not to mention the grammatical error of using “it” to refer to the two things they told me to write down.)

The point should be made that due to their security rules the password must be written down because no one could possibly remember it.

One website required me to remember the name of the street I lived on when I was in first grade. I am 74 years old and grew up in the military. I don’t remember the name of the street I lived on before we bought this house twenty years ago, let alone something from almost seven decades ago. I made something up to satisfy their webform, and then immediately forgot what it was that I invented.

When I needed to answer that “security question” I tried “First Street,” which seemed like a logical answer, but apparently I was not that logical the day I filled out the stupid form.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fine Lines

Best quote about the Chargers game from a San Diego resident. “That was like watching your ex throw up on the dance floor at a party and knowing that’s no longer your problem.”

Monday, November 13, 2017

Um, You Already Said That

The Denver Broncos promise to "evaluate all areas" after being humiliated 41-16 by the New England Patriots and bringing their record to 3-6, tied with the Los Angeles Chargers for last in the division.

Um, they said that last week after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 51-23.

Last night was special, in that they muffed a punt on their own 15, gave up a 103-yard kickoff return, and suffered a blocked punt, all in the first 18 minutes of the game. They also scored field goals to answer New England touchdowns, apparently not realizing that scoring three points every time your opponent scores seven is not a winning strategy.

Perhaps they should evaluate their mascot; trading a stallion for a jackass.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Even More Fubar

I read the published account (pdf) of the investigation into the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain today, and it leads me to conclude that the US Navy is even more fubar than I revealed in my discussion of last Tuesday. There are at least two statements in that report which indicate that the investigating officers were no more qualified for naval service than were the officers and crew they were investigating.

The report states, for instance that the ship was running in “darkened condition,” part of which was that, “all interior lighting was switched to red instead of white to facilitate crew rest.”

If that was the reason for red interior lighting, why would the red lighting include operational areas of the ship, such as the bridge and Combat Information Center? In fact, that is not the reason to “rig for red.” The red lighting is to promote night vision so that if any of the crew is required to go topside their vision is optimized for being able to function at night.

The report describes the situation with three ships approaching Fitzgerald from starboard, and correctly says that Fitzgerald was required by the International Rules of the Nautical Road to take action to “remain clear of the other three and if possible to avoid crossing ahead.”

Well and good so far, but then the report says that, “In the event Fitzgerald did not exercise this obligation, the other vessels were obligated to take early and appropriate action through their own independent maneuvering action.”

“Early?” The privileged vessel is, in fact, required to maintain its course and speed until it is apparent that the burdened vessel is not maneuvering to avoid, at which point, and only at that point, the privileged vessel should take action to avoid. That is hardly “early and appropriate” action which, in fact, the rules of the road specifically prohibit.

These are fairly minor points, and the report reasonably attributes fault, and I suspect does so for the most part fairly accurately. But the lack of basic knowledge of shipboard routine, such as not knowing the reason for red lighting, casts a certain aura of doubt on the expertise of the investigating body.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Fubar

To this day, fifty years after I left the service, I continue to regard my time in the Navy as the best and most useful years of my life. I would not trade that experience for everything else that I have done before or since, and I have held the US Navy in the highest possible regard for all the years since I had the honor and privilege to serve.

What I have read the past few years of its ships and its men today almost brings me to tears. The ships of today’s Navy are barely seaworthy, are certainly not battle worthy, and social engineering has so degraded the manning of the Navy that high quality ships would be wasted in any case.

I read that the Captain of a ship is in a bar on shore during liberty drinking with the enlisted crew of his ship. How can good order and discipline be maintained under such circumstances, and how can a Captain’s subordinates possibly maintain a proper respect for a “drinking buddy?”

The crew of another ship forgets to replace the lubricating oil in the ship’s main propulsion reducing gear box, rendering the ship inoperative and requiring shipyard repair. In addition to the appalling carelessness of the crew, what kind of ship is rendered useless by the loss of one set of propulsion gears?

When the bridge crew of an Arleigh Burke class destroyer causes a collision with a civilian ship ten times its size and one engine room is flooded, the ship is disabled and has to be towed to port. What kind of warship becomes a stationary target due to the loss of a single engine room?

The initial cause of that collision turns out to be that a watchstander is seen to be “struggling to cope with handling both helm and engine orders.” I have stood that watch, and anyone incapable of dealing with helm and engine orders after a couple of days of training does not belong in the Navy in any capacity. He probably does not belong outside of his parents’ care.

The Arleigh Burke class did, at least, mark a return to all-steel construction. From Wikipedia, “An earlier generation had combined a steel hull with an innovative superstructure made of lighter aluminum to reduce top weight, but the lighter metal proved vulnerable to cracking. Aluminum is also less fire-resistant than steel; a 1975 fire aboard USS Belknap gutted her aluminum superstructure. Battle damage to Royal Navy ships exacerbated by their aluminum superstructures during the 1982 Falklands War supported the decision to use steel.”

That policy didn’t last. What does the Navy decide to do in building its new Littoral Combat Ships? Use all-aluminum construction, including the hull. How stupid can we be?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Facebook & Twitter?

Watching a bunch of Senators so serious in their grilling of a panel of "social media" executives leaves me in despair. If our voters are making their presidential election decisions based on Facebook and Twitter, then this nation has problems far, far bigger than anything that Russia can do to us.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

And So It Begins

The timing and content of Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates are interesting.

Particularly interesting is the timing, in that the release comes on the heels of two weeks of media coverage of the Hillary Clinton campaign being the instigator of the infamous “Trump dossier,” confirmation that the Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians was a sting perpetrated by Fusion GPS, the company hired by the DNC and Clinton campaign to produce the Trump dossier, and of discussion about Uranium One’s contributions to the Clinton Foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State.

Even while still sealed, news of the indictments was released on Friday afternoon so that the media could bloviate all weekend and on the Sunday morning shows about who it might be and what the indictments might contain. It’s called “the politics of distraction.”

The content of the indictments are interesting only to the degree of how uninteresting they are. None of them have anything to do with Russia during the election or with the Trump presidential campaign. They have to do with Manafort’s and Gates’ work as lobbyists for the former government of Ukraine, the government which the US government helped to overthrow.

Democrats, and other anti-Trump forces, are rubbing their hands with glee, praising Mueller as if he is a combination of the Messiah and Steven Hawking, and forecasting the immediate downfall of Donald Trump. They are as giddy and as self assured as they were when projecting the electoral victory of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

National Cat Day

from spaceShe is, of course, not actually a cat. She is a princess. And sometimes a little bit of a brat.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Dike Is Broken

I am writing less often lately, mainly because national discourse has become so utterly divorced from reality that each time I start to write I get a sense of the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. The trickle has become a flood and it is time to run for your life.

Harvey Weinstein’s devil is revealed, and now every public person of the male gender is being accused of sexual attack by every female person who has ever been within arm’s reach of him. Our elections are supposedly meaningless due to the ability of foreign powers to corrupt them, and yet we are supposed to believe that an election of Democrats next year would be entirely valid and would save the world. Articles purporting to be scientific discourse are filled with “might be” causes and “could happen” events.

When the news was first released that four of our soldiers had been killed by ISIS in the African nation of Niger, my first reaction after sympathy for the soldiers and their families was to assume that they were not killed by ISIS. My next thought was not to wonder why they were in Niger, we have military units everywhere, but to wonder why their deaths were being reported when similar deaths under similar conditions in the Philippines was not.

Last night Margaret Brennan reported on the battle in Niger on CBS News, saying that the unit was attacked by, “an ISIS offshoot operating in the area.” She described the group of “35 to 40 fighters” and its leader and, just twelve seconds after describing it as “an ISIS offshoot” said that the leader “is wanted by US and French authorities, but US intelligence has not established any direct link between him and the ISIS militants that the US is already fighting on the battlegrounds in Iraq and in Syria.”

We won't even go into the US "fighting on the battlegrounds in Iraq and in Syria," which we vehemently claim we are not doing, but how credible is a news organization which, within the span of just a few seconds, says that “an ISIS offshoot” has “no direct ties with ISIS militants?”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Feline Follies

So, I'm watching a football game and eating potato chips from the bag.

My calico cat, Molly, jumps up on my lap and immediately becomes hyperfocused on potato chips. Her eyes are the size of dinner plates and they follow each chip from the bag to my mouth. She periodically leans in and peers into the bag. Her breathing is rapid and her whiskers twitching. The anxiety steadily increases.

The left paw comes up and she tries to intercept a chip in transit, getting a sharp, "Ut, no" from me.

She tries the imploring look, and a little soft "meow," but I am heartlessly unmoved. Merely laugh.

She goes back to watching each chip in transit, like Pablo Casals watching a tennis match. Pablo Casals? Damifino. First name that came to mind.

Anyway. Anxiety is building and control is slipping. She kind of leans forward with each chip that makes the passage.

Finally she makes her move - darts forward and tries to bite a chip just as I am putting it into my mouth. She gave me too much warning, though, and I win. She settles back, giving me a look that reminds me that even house cats with three colors (well, technically two colors and white) are predators.

I break off a little piece of chip and lay it down for her to have, and she snarfs it down. She looks at me, licking her chops, clearly says, "We could have saved a lot of time and anxiety," and leaves.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Minds and Tracks

Notice that we are halfway through the month of October, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of pink accoutrements I have seen on the NFL football fields this month, because everyone is too busy screaming at each other about kneeling for the national anthem. Jesus. Can we walk and chew gum at the same time? Evidently not.

The light at the end of the tunnel is some idiot with a flashlight halfway down where the tunnel bends. When we turn that corner we will be disappointed to discover that it is night time.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not Forward Thinking

Democrats were thrilled to have laws created by executive order when it was a Democrat doing it. They are less thrilled when a Republican does it.

It was suggested by a few, back then, that what was created by executive order could be reversed by executive order, but it never occurred to them that they might lose a presidential election, even after mocking and excoriating Republicans for proclaiming a “Republican century” two decades earlier.

And Democrats are, for the second time after a presidential election loss, casting doubt on the validity of the electoral process itself. Does it not occur to them that, if and when they win the White House back, Republicans might proclaim that, “Democrats were right, the electoral process is not valid, and this Democrat president is not a valid President.”

So far, Republicans have never cast doubt on the electoral process after a loss. Democrats have done it twice now, and if they do it often enough Republicans might decide to emulate them.

A Democratic discussion group was outraged that Harvey Weinstein was not prosecuted long ago, until it was pointed out to them that he was raising millions of dollars for the Democratic Party and that his position as a major part of their money machine protected him as long as the Democratic Party controlled the Washington power structure. Would he have been brought to justice if Hillary Clinton had won? The discussion stopped when that question was asked.

There may be a group that does less forward thinking than liberals, but I have not come across it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Anaheim Fire This Morning

from space
This weather satellite image was at 7:00am local time, and it means the wind is still offshore and still pretty strong. Not good news. No fires in San Diego; that is just remains of morning marine layer.

Update, 6:00pm: Good news; smoke from the Anaheim fire has completely disappeared from the satellite image.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Mind Boggling

Dianne Feinstein is running for reelection. Consensus is that it means there will no meaningful primary election for the US Senate in California, and Nancy Pelosi says that is good news for the Democratic Party and for America. If reelected, Feinstein will complete her next term at age 91.

I’m not sure which is more mind boggling; Feinstein running for reelection, or Pelosi claiming that her doing so is good for America.

Google said that putatively Russian-connected sources bought $53,000 worth of ads “in an effort to influence the 2016 election.” That amounts to 8 ten thousandths of one percent of the $6.8 billion that was spent on campaign advertising.

Something like putting one teaspoon of baking soda into Lake Michigan and claiming that doing so changed the chemistry of the lake.

It’s also pretty weird to think that anyone would believe that Russia is so stupid that they would think that $53,000 worth of Facebook ads would alter the results of the election.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Unintelligible Intelligence

The “Labor Report” is absolute gibberish this month. It is often misleading, although I don’t believe that is deliberate. I think it is just a high level of incompetence on the part of the Labor Department and the media. But this month it reached a nadir.

First it tells us that the economy lost 330,000 jobs in September, but falls all over itself assuring us that the figure reveals “strength in the economy” because it was due to hurricanes. I doubt that people who were in the areas hit by the hurricanes are buying that, but we aren't at the best part yet.

It goes on to say that the unemployment rate, “derived from a separate Labor Department survey of households,” declined to 4.2% in September.

How does the unemployment rate decrease when the number of employed showed a rather large decrease? Not a bad question. Why are media reports of the number of employed and the unemployment rate coming from two separate reports? That is a very good question.

The Household Survey, which includes the 4.2% unemployment rate, shows that the number of people employed increased by 906,000 in September. Why did the media choose not to report that? And why does one report show a decrease of 330,000 while the other shows an increase of 906,000 for the month? That's a difference of 1.26 million people.

This would normally be where I would provide the answers to these questions, but I don’t have any. I’m wondering why I seem to be the only one asking the questions.

Friday, October 06, 2017

I Don't Think So, But...

This morning Molly was walking down the hallway, licking her chops and minding her own business. She's gotten a little hard of hearing in her old age, so she didn't notice me coming out of the bedroom in front of her until, seeing her, I said aloud, "Hello, there's a cat."

I swear, she looked over her shoulder to see if there was a cat behind her.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Interesting Stat

The Denver Broncos, in their 34-year history, have had more trips to the Super Bowl than they have had losing seasons.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Heartbreaking

running for your life
When I was growing up, guys wore blue jeans and cowboy boots every day. We wore cleaner and newer jeans with more fancy boots to dances on Saturday nights. Girls, on the other hand, only wore their skirts and boots on Saturday nights when it was time to go out and listen to country music, flirt with boys, do some dancing and drink Coca Cola. The skirts were longer then, of course, but… Those were good times.

These poor girls went out for a night of country music and fun and wound up running for their lives. It’s enough to break an old man’s heart.

It should never have happened. We must decide, as a people, that beyond the need to comfort and offer healing to those who were harmed, it means nothing. We must not allow fear to take control our lives. If we do that then evil, what ever its form or purpose, has won the day. If we must live in fear, then what’s the point?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Honor The Venue

The media frenzy over sideline activity prior to football games is, unsurprisingly, reaching insanity. In postgame interviews, reporters are asking players inane questions about pregame anthem positioning rather than about the game itself. Good God.

The national anthem, and the flag, are symbols, and I believe we get entirely too wrapped up these days about “respecting” symbols, and pay too little attention to respecting what those symbols represent. It seems to me that one might disrespect this nation more by failing to speak out against what he perceives to be an injustice, than he would by failing to provide proper obeisance to a symbol.

Listening to the idiotic woman who sang the national anthem at the Cardinals/Cowboys game last night, I had the thought wondering why there is no outrage over singers who make up their own tune for the anthem so as to display what they perceive to be their vocal virtuosity. They warble, shriek, and hit notes that are miles away from the proper tune, and no one seems to be in the least offended by them mangling the nation’s anthem for their own glorification.

That being said, there is a time and place for everything. The owner of the football team is paying those players to attract fans to the game, in the stadium and on television. When the player is in uniform and in the stadium and acts in a manner which is certain to alienate some fans, actual or potential, he is acting against his employer’s interest, and is doing so on his employer’s time and in his employer’s venue. How can that possibly be considered honorable?

As much as I dislike ever agreeing with Donald Trump; yes, those players should either desist or be fired.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Travails of Today's Navy

Much is being made of the problems that the US Navy is having these days due to undermanning; lack of proper maintenance, tired sailors and officers due to lengthy watchstanding hours, poor performance due to lack of training time… All of this on brand new ships, with shiny new equipment.

Boo hoo. The boat I first served on was twenty two years old when I came aboard; four years older than I was. Diablo leaked so badly that we had a standing joke that our most critical piece of equipment was the bilge pump; if it ever crapped out we would sink in twelve hours. The periscope housings leaked when we were on the surface, which was a neat trick since they were more than twenty feet above the waterline. Nobody ever figured out how they did that, which pissed the Captain off no end. He had to wear a rain hat; not on the bridge, in the control room.

More than once we got under weigh on battery power because we could not get any one of our four engines started. Well, three actually, since one of them was permanently out to lunch. It was used for booze storage, but that's a different topic. We never ran out of battery power before getting at least one engine running, and so never needed to be towed back to port, but a couple of boats in our squadron did suffer that indignity. We gave them a lot of shit about that, but it was kind of risky considering that it could have been us. They may have had more booze storage than we did.

In port we stood watch on a four hours on twelve hours off basis, but we weren’t in port much. At sea the electricians stood four hours on four off, known as “port and starboard,” and we didn’t waste any time bitching about it. It was just a fact of life. We didn’t have any deck chairs either, and no shuffleboard courts.

Yes, we got tired, but it didn’t justify fucking up while on watch. It certainly didn’t justify letting some feather merchant ram us broadside.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

It's Different This Time?

I'm watching Ken Burns' series on the war in Vietnam, and thinking that people writing about watching the series are missing the reason that it matters today. He is telling us in no uncertain terms that, while we thought we knew what our government was doing in Vietnam and why they were doing it, we most certainly did not. We were being massively lied to by our elected leadership.

We think we know what we are doing in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Do we?

We have no real reason to think that we do. We should have every reason to realize that we do not know, given how massively we were lied to about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq. Do we think that the lying stopped because we elected young man who was a rising young star in the state government of Illinois? A state which has imprisoned three of its last four elected governors? Elect a guy who is a member of the most dishonest state government in the nation and expect honesty in the White House?

Why is the American electorate so willing to be lied to?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Don't Call the Fire Department

This thing with Donald Trump about the North Koreans kind of reminds me of an old woman who used to live in our homeowners’ association. She was a piece of work, which is a nice way of saying that she was a nasty, bad tempered old bitch. To her, nobody ever did anything right.

She had an ongoing vendetta with a home up on the canyon rim overlooking her unit which, unfortunately for her, was not within our association. It was a junkyard and, undeniably, an eyesore. I never really felt sorry for her, though. If anyone ever deserved to have to look at that nightmare it was her, but I certainly would have felt sorry for anyone else.

She ranted at anyone who would listen, and many who tried not to, that something needed to be done about that house, addressed our Board of Directors at great length during every monthly Board meeting and more than once called the Police Department. Since it was outside our association, there was nothing we could do about it, of course, and several of her calls to police turned out to be to the wrong department.

She finally decided that it might be a fire hazard and called the Fire Dept, getting the right one this time, which turned out badly for our association. They looked at the home and said that it was not a fire hazard. "But," they said, “your slopes are a fire hazard. You have thirty days to clear them or we will do it for you and send you a bill.”

It cost us more than $6500 to hire a crew to get the work done and, needless to say, did not increase the woman’s popularity much.

Kind of makes one want to suggest to Trump that he not be too hasty in taking action against North Korea.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Watching Football Games

Well, I guess it's okay for me to watch exciting football games again, if I can find any exciting games to watch. There won't be any in Los Angeles, I suspect, and probably not in Baton Rouge. There was one in San Diego Saturday night, when the Aztecs beat Stanford, by which time I was home from my overnight hospital stay and which I watched without the asshole's cardiologist's permission.

Anyway, the procedure was Thursday, and we won't discuss the anesthesiology because talking about it would probably cause a blowout of the repair work that the cardiologist did. Suffice it to say that I was able to hear him tell the staff to call up and advise that I would be spending the night, but not sufficiently awake to tell him what I thought of him. So I now have a stent in one of my arteries, despite him saying that my arteries looked "pretty darned good overall."

He did not even attempt to reconcile that with the earlier diagnosis of "severe multivessel coronary artery disease," but assholes cardiologists are not known for consistency. I may get more detail when I see him for the followup this Thursday, but I probably won't. Fuck it; I'm either going to die, or I'm not. I mean short term. Long term, of course, I will. We all do.

Meanwhile, I'll keep looking for exciting football games to watch.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Well, That Was Wierd

I play Fantasy Football every year and usually finish in the bottom half of the league. I follow NFL teams quite closely, but I don't follow individual players much, and that doesn't fit the FFL modus operandi very well. I enjoy it though, and it gives me somebody to root for when watching games where I have no real feeling for either team.

This weekend two of my active players were scratched on Sunday morning, so I was working with seven players while the other 11 teams in my league were working with nine each. I figured I would get blown out, but such was not the case. Not only did I win my contest, by 2.5 points, I was outscored by only one other team in the league. Strange.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Inanity of Lawsuits

Several states are filing lawsuits to assert that the current president cannot use the same authority to cancel a Presidential Executive Order that the former president used to create the order in the first place.

Several of the suits also cite violation of the Administrative Procedure Act for failing to follow the process for notice and comments, but that is pretty shaky territory since in creating the act that they seek to overturn, the Obama administration also failed to follow those same procedures. If a court overturned Trump's cancellation of DACA on those grounds, it would also have to overturn DACA itself on the same grounds. It's called "being hoist on one's own petard." Admittedly, I'm not sure what a petard is, but being hoist upon it sounds unpleasant.

Google is your friend. A petard is a small bomb. One certainly does not want to get hoist upon one of those; one's own or anyone else's.

There were some sane heads who said at the time that the problem with Obama's whole schtick of "If Congress won't act then I will," other than the unconstitutionality of it, was that what could be done by the executive order of one president could be undone by the executive order of another president. Obama supporters seemed to think that no Republican would ever be elected to the White House, and they now seem to think that is still true, denying reality to the bitter end.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

On Cardiologists

I do not consider making people happy to be one of my life goals; the exception being, of course, my wife. Making her happy is definitely a life goal, because I am not stupid. Not to mention the loving her thing.

I am definitely not a fan of making my fucking cardiologist happy. Cardiologists are happy when they are making money by either cutting you open, or sticking things into your leg and running them up into your heart, both of which are barbaric. They call the latter “catheterization,” which is absurd. Those things are most certainly not catheters.

Cardiologists are barbarians, and assholes. I don’t know if being a cardiologist turns them into that, or if only that kind of person becomes a cardiologist. Someday I’m going to conduct a study. If I survive my present asshole barbarian cardiologist long enough, that is.

This one keeps telling me my heart is fine, and that the reason that the same gym routine that has not been tiring me for several years is now tiring me is neurological. That’s not entirely unreasonable but he keeps running tests, which leads me to think that he doesn’t entirely believe what he is telling me. That is to say, I suspect he is bullshitting me because he doesn’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

Most doctors say that you have an “idiopathic” whatever, which is doctorese for “damned if I know,” but cardiologists just tell you that nothing is wrong at all because they think that you can’t feel your own heartbeat.

I was in further doubt of his pollyanna remarks when he ordered the most recent test, a repeat of one I’d had just eight months before. It involves injection of radioactive material into my blood and is supposed to be done no more frequently than once per year, and when I reminded him I’d had it more recently all he did was tell me how tiny the amount of radiation is and say that we (notice the “we”) needed the information.

Please note that the amount of information that I, as in me the patient, is going to get from that test is something close to zero because it says things like, “A large sized, mild to moderate severity, minimally reversible defect exists in the proximal to distal inferior and inferoseptal segments.” How informative is that? It sounded like it was saying that part of my heart is inferior, which I didn’t appreciate.

Inferior segments, forsooth. Which segments of your heart are inferior, bub?

Anyway, in all fairness, I was informed by the part that said, “Findings are consistent with severe multivessel coronary artery disease.” Shit. So I guess “we” did get information.

The asshole cardiologist became giddy as he told his nurse to reserve a time slot in the “cath lab.” He even told her to “book the first slot you can get.” If he was not a barbaric psychopath he would have left the room before he told her that so that the patient (that’s me) would not hear it.

So here we go again with one of those procedures where I’m sedated. The anesthetist always comes in and goes over things, and I tell him that as a long time recovering alcoholic I am significantly drug resistant so he is going to have to use more dosage than usual. He pats me on the leg and says he will “take good care of me” and promptly forgets every word that I said. He is a doctor and I am this old guy who used to be an electrician.

So sure enough at some point during the procedure I wake up and start yelling, “Hey dickhead.” Apparently I’m not yelling as loud as I think I am, because it’s about two years before somebody looks down and says, “Oh, hello. Are you awake?” Seriously? ”Yeah I’m awake you fucking moron, because I told you to use more drugs and you…”

And they give me more drugs if for no other reason than to shut me up.

Anyway, back at the cardiologist’s office, after we’ve got all of the business worked out about the upcoming angiogram I ask him if it’s okay for me to continue going to the gym in the meantime. He gives me this look, like he’s trying to figure out why I just broke out in a bad case of stupid and says that, no, I should not go to the gym.

I then ask him if it’s okay to watch football games and he finally figures out that I’m fucking with him. “Sure,” he says, “just don’t watch any exciting ones.” Maybe he’s not all bad.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Spare Me The Handwringing

If the “dreamers” were marching with the approach of asking for the favor of being permitted to stay here I would be totally on board. I think they should be invited to stay. I don’t say “permitted to stay,” because I think we should do better than that, I think we should welcome them rather than tolerate them.

I am not sympathetic, however, to their anger and their sense that they have been wronged. We have laws and they are in violation. They cannot demand “rights” that under the law they do not have. Wants are not rights.

Their argument is utterly incomprehensible. “I didn’t ask to be brought here,” they say angrily, “but I am outraged that you are trying to make me leave.”

Congress should have passed DACA. They had a chance to do so and declined. The executive order called DACA was created in a manner contrary to our constitution and was rescinded. The President, in rescinding that executive order, challenged Congress to pass the law. In rescinding the unconstitutional executive order, he allowed time before it takes effect for Congress to put DACA into law. Any anger you may feel at the ending of DACA should be directed at Congress, not Trump.

I liked many things about Obama, but his whole schtick about, “If Congress won’t act then I will,” was utterly contrary to the manner in which the constitution specifies that this nation is to be governed. It does not only not say that the President can act in place of Congress, it specifically says that he cannot. It says that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Laws passed by Congress.

In his statement he says that when Congress declines to pass a law he will act contrary to their will by executive order. As a case in point, the executive order DACA expressly specifies that parts of immigration law passed by Congress will not be carried out.

Trump, for whatever reason, did the right thing. Congress did the wrong thing. Direct anger where it belongs.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A Better Life

I was reading a discussion elsewhere, one which made little sense but which led to me thinking about the concept of the desire for “a better life” and the pursuit thereof.

The people who founded this nation came here in pursuit of “a better life.” To do that they embarked on a dangerous and arduous ocean voyage, an adventure in itself that no few number of them would not survive. Once here, they had to contend with a rather hostile land with none of the civilization which they had left, disease, wild animals, hostile indigenous peoples, crop failures and harsh weather. They wanted that “better life” very badly to go through all of that.

Today’s “undocumented immigrants,” while they broke the law entering the country without permission, worked hard, traveled great distances on foot and often endured great danger from “coyotes” who preyed on them to get to the land that promised them “a better life.” When they got here they took backbreaking jobs and lived in humble conditions to send money back home to support the families they left behind.

Today’s American citizens who want a better life demand that government do something for them; pass a law or “tax the rich” in order to give them something for free. God help us all.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Strange

I tuned in to "Hardball With Chris Matthews" on MSNBC briefly this afternoon. Yeah, I know. I do that every once in a while to remind myself why I don't watch that channel. Anyway, they were having a lengthy discussion about Trump firing Michael Flynn, which happened last February. Why is that worth discussing in September?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fine Lines

From Da Tech Guy blog:

"When I was young the NAACP was known for standing up to police dogs and angry Klansmen for the rights of average people to go to school, sit at a lunch counter and live where they will. Now they are known for protesting on behalf of a millionaire football player unsigned after a 2-10 record and people wonder why they aren’t as respected as they once were."

Yeah. I guess the whole meaning of the word "cause" has been redefined.

Sports in San Diego

The San Diego newspaper still has a sports section, but I’m not sure why. Maybe we all need something to line the bottom of our feline litter boxes.

Sportswriter Kevin Acee has finally tired of being critical of the NFL team that moved to Los Angeles, and is now swanning like a schoolgirl over his new enthusiasm; San Diego’s new professional Lacrosse team. He believes it will draw the crowds of 72,000 that the Chargers were unable to draw.

Well, good luck with that. He can’t be happy about the new professional soccer team, because we were supposed to lose that when the new Mission Valley stadium deal collapsed. Admitting that we got the expansion franchise regardless is just too embarrassing after all of his bloviating about how we had to pass the stadium initiative or we would miss a chance at getting a professional soccer team.

Dan Fouts is telling us how embarrassing it must be for the Chargers to only draw 21,000 fans for preseason games in LA, because only two NFL teams have averaged fewer than 21,000 fans at regular season games in the history of the NFL. Yes, and the apples I bought yesterday were horribly overpriced, because they were much, much smaller than the grapefruits in the bin right next to them.

I watched a Chicago preseason game on Sunday that was attended by about 15,000 fans, in a 70,000-seat stadium that will be filled to capacity once the regular season starts. A crowd of 21,000 for a preseason game is actually a pretty good draw.

On a related governmental note; In 1996 California passed Proposition 218 which specified, among other things, that any special purpose tax needed to be voted on by the people affected by that tax and had to pass by a two-thirds majority. A court ruled this week that the ruling applies only to taxes imposed by governments, and that any tax or tax increase resulting from a citizen initiative could pass with a simple majority.

So, California becomes more insane every year. If a local government wants to impose a new tax to pay for a football stadium, then 67% of the voting public must approve that new tax. But if a football team owner as a private citizen initiates a new tax to have a city or county finance a new stadium for him, that tax only needs the approval of 51% of the voting public.

Local sportswriters are not writing about this at all.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

More Voodoo Economics

Economist Dean Baker admits today that he “messed up” in an earlier column, in which he forgot that if the highest paid of 100 workers leaves, then what remains is not 99% of the wage pool. He really should have based his premise on the highest paid person of a 100-member work force making more than 1% of the total, rather than having to have a reader point it out for him, but… What can one say; he’s an economist.

He also says in that erroneous article that the retirement of the oldest worker "should be associated not only with slower wage growth, but also slower productivity growth,” notwithstanding that the topic of the article is wage growth.

He doesn’t explain why he thinks that a 65-year-old worker might be increasing the plant’s productivity more than a 24-year-old might be. Note that he is not talking about productivity level itself in that sentence, he is talking about the rate at which productivity is increasing. Strange. An older worker was contributing to improvements in productivity and younger workers are not.

Anyway, today he does get back on the topic of wage growth and wants to make sure we understand that the retirement of older workers who make higher wages and their replacement by younger workers who make lower wages, and the concurrent slowing in the growth in wages, is “an important issue that we should be able to think about clearly.”

“The question,” he says today, “is whether the slow pace of wage growth in the last year or two can be explained to any substantial degree by changes in the mix of workers, specifically lower paid younger workers taking the place of relatively higher paid workers who are retiring.”

He then discusses at great length the relative proportions of the workforce in age groups 16-24, 25-34 and 16-34, with graphs in three colors. First, he is discussing the relative proportions within a total of 35% of the workforce, and second, he apparently thinks that everyone retires at age 36.

Tell that to my wife, who is 70 and still working. And he proves that the issue of slow wage growth is not "an issue that we are able to think about clearly."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Warnings Abound

One pet store has a huge sign warning pet owners to keep their pets indoors today because if their pet looks up at the sun it will burn their eyes as badly as the same move will burn human eyes. Seriously. If cats and dogs were not looking directly at the sun yesterday, why would they look at it during an eclipse? Animals might notice that it's getting darker, but they are not going to look at the sun to figure out why.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Here We Go Again

In the early 2010's we were being subjected to violations of the fourth amendment to our constitution, with justification that it was necessary to establish a balance between safety and the right to privacy.

Now begins the clarion call to strip us of another basic right, as US News & World Report headlines that "Far-Right Protests Leave U.S. Cities Scrambling to Balance Safety, Free Speech."

They are apparently citing cities as the balancing agency, so as to avoid implying a constitutional violation, but local governments are as constrained by the constitution as is the federal government.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

More Mainstream Fake News

I have said repeatedly that I am no fan of Trump or his policies, but the mounting and increasingly dishonest drumbeat to take him down is beginning to sway me to his side, as I do have a proclivity to come to the aid of the underdog. This Charlottesville aftermath is a demonstration an acceleration of the mainstream media “fake news” phenomenon.

I read a transcript of the entirety of Trump’s news conference upon which CBS and others are basing their claims that Trump is “defending white supremacists,” and at no point did he come within hand grenade distance of doing anything of the sort. What he did do is accuse the left wing group of being at fault along with the right wing group in causing the violence, and he did not even claim that they were equally at fault.

There is no doubt whatever that his statement was entirely accurate, if in no other respect in that the left’s decision to engage in proximate confrontation was certain to cause violence and was, in fact, designed to do so regardless of who threw the first punch. CBS and other media of its caliber are completely avoiding mentioning that aspect of the confrontation.

CBS et. al. have been touting the left’s possession of not one but two permits for public assembly, but they carefully do not point out that the permits were for two areas well removed from the area where the conflict occurred, and that they did not have a permit to assemble in that area. A pundit on CBS claimed that “if they went” to the park in question, which of course they did, “they would not have been arrested because it was a public park.” He failed to mention that large groups still are required to have a permit to assemble in a public park.

The media is flailing with the horror of Trump’s advocacy of racial division, but it is the Democratic Party which has for more than a decade pursued the policy of “identity politics,” and the media which has prated endlessly about “who will get the black vote” or “how Hispanics will vote” in every election. Trump’s entire campaign was based on inclusiveness and on support for the working class.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Media Dishonesty

I have noted the dishonest reporting of the media several times. Turns out the corruption goes much deeper. Their billing department makes their editorial department seem to be a model of purity.

At one page of the San Diego Union-Tribune page I see one advertised rate for 7 days home delivery plus digital access of $4.99/week, with no mention of time limit. At another page, based on zip code, I see a different advertised rate of $5.99/week. This week I get a bill for $218.18, which it says will pay me through 12/08/2017. That is 18 weeks, which makes my rate $12.11 per week. There are no details, other than it shows that I have no past due balance and that the amount is entirely a current billing.

Please tell me why I should not regard this as outright theft?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Where Are The Editors?

USA Today, in an article about Mazda’s announcement of the development of dramatic improvement of mileage in their new engine from 30mpg to 40mpg, says that the new technology has the ability of, “potentially saving owners at least several dollars per fillup on a 15-gallon tank of gasoline.”

(Emphasis mine.)  Where are the editors? Normally an editor would correct such stupidity, but papers today don’t use editors, having discarded them as unnecessary overhead expense.

I’m sure you caught it. The savings would come in the form of filling up less often, because the development does not alter the price of gasoline, and each fillup will cost precisely the same as it did before.

The article also claims that it will make "conventional cars a more viable option to electric motors" which, if you decipher the illiterate conflation of cars and motors (again, where are the editors?), is a questionable claim. An increase of 33% is not going to make in internal combustion reciprocating engine come within hand grenade distance of the efficiency of an electric motor; not by several orders of magnitude.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Lighter Moment

Tony Stewart walks into the Stewart-Hass Racing shop this morning carrying a small ugly dog. Stewart owns cats, not dogs, so a mechanic is a bit surprised and asks him, "What's with the dog?"

"I got him for Danica," Tony replies. "Oh," the mechanic says, "good trade."

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Biased Media, Much?

Please read the linked article and tell me how it justifies a headline reading, “FBI tracked 'fake news' believed to be from Russia on Election Day,” since the closest they can come to such a conclusion is that they found, “social media user accounts behind stories, some based overseas, and the suspicion was that at least some were part of a Russian disinformation campaign.”

Not only is the “suspicion” two times removed from an actual conclusion but it is coming from absolutely no named sources but from unnamed “multiple sources,” from “two sources familiar with the investigation,” from “a person briefed on the investigation,” more “multiple sources,” from “one Obama White House official,” and from “others at the White House.”

One cannot read a news item today without encountering citations from anonymous sources, which used to be a taboo practice in the news business, but this article sets a new record for such citations, and establishes a new low for journalistic credibility.

Not only is it impossible to find justification for the headline, it’s pretty difficult to find justification for publication of the article at all, given that it says nothing other than that the FBI is managing to find new ways to justify calling it the “Federal Bureau of Ineptitude.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Taking Liberties With The Truth

From CNN on July 11, “The President's son and namesake, in a sensational revelation that significantly escalated the drama over alleged Russian election meddling incessantly battering the White House, may have provided the flames by releasing an email chain that detailed his expectations of getting Kremlin dirt on Hillary Clinton in a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer last year.”

It goes on to detail how Donald Junior was led to believe that the meeting would be about providing dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that the Russians did nothing of the sort. The topic was merely bait, and the Russians in fact merely wanted to discuss the issue of adoptions of Russian infants by Americans. Trump Junior reports that that issue was not on his calendar at the time and that he tried to leave the meeting as quickly as possible.

From the time that the story of this meeting first “broke” Donald Junior said that the purpose of it was “opposition research,” that the person offering the meeting had proposed the meeting in order to convey “damaging information” on Hillary Clinton, and that it turned out to be a meeting with a Russian lobbyist whose agenda was the Magnitsky Act.

Now, on August 1st, Jake Tapper is saying that, “To be clear, of course, the statement that Don Jr. issued that was dictated by the president, according to the Post, was misleading,” Tapper said. “It did not even remotely acknowledge the purpose of the meeting, which was Donald Trump Jr. wanting to meet someone billed as a Russian government lawyer with one specific purpose: to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

“You, as a citizen, you should expect a much higher standard of truth than the one that the White House press secretary just enunciated,” Tapper continued. “If a meeting takes place so campaign officials can get dirt on a political rival from the Russian government, describing that meeting as being about adoption and not mentioning the purpose of the meeting. It’s not true. It’s inaccurate. It’s so misleading as to be a lie.”

“You as a citizen, you have every right to wonder: why would the president hide the truth and be inaccurate about this?” Tapper added. “Why would he want to hide from you the facts of this meeting which they insist was innocent? And, as always, what does any of this have to do with making america (sic) great again?”

I happened to catch the airing of Jake Tapper spouting that claptrap, and it was even less intelligible when listening to it than it is when reading the transcript. It is astonishing to me that the media no longer even makes any pretense that it is not altering history to suit its own agenda.

And it’s not altering the record from some event in the distant past, it is altering events which happened a mere three weeks ago. Is anyone going to step forward and tell Jake Tapper that his version of events is inaccurate?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dick Measuring is Not Foreign Policy

Headline, "US flies bombers over Korean peninsula after North Korea missile test," sort of proves North Korea's point that they need nuclear weapons. Libya abandoned their nuclear weapons program, and look where that got them.

Friday, July 28, 2017

More Dishonest Reporting

Headline reads, "One Vote Sinks Skinny Health Care Reform: McCain's."

That was one of many headlines saying that John McCain, singlehandedly leaped into the breach and fought off the ravening reformers, defeating the heinous efforts of his own party, his valorous effort alone saving the American people from extinction by dread diseases.

There's only one problem with that story. Two other Republican Senators also voted against the bill, but they were both women and neither of them is dying of cancer so they don't count. I'm not quite the feminist that my wife is, but that meme is utter bullshit.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dishonest Reporting

These are not stories taken from some fringe partisan publication. They have been published in the San Diego Union-Tribune and/or were taken from the Associated Press and other mainstream media publications.

The headline reads, “Brain Disease Seen In Most Football Players In Large Report On CTE.” If you read the article, however, you will find that the study involved the brains of 115 former NFL football players. That is 6.7% of the players who are actively playing in the NFL today, and is certainly less than a fraction of 1% of those who have played in the NFL since it was formed, so it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a “large study.”

Further, it involved only the brains of players whose brains had been donated by their families and whose behavior prior to death had led to a suspicion of brain disease, so it can hardly be called a “study.” They found what they already knew to be there.

In short, this so called “large study of football players” was entirely meaningless in real terms, and one has to wonder why this article was even written. Well, we know why it was written. It was written as an anti-NFL propaganda hit piece.

Another headline reads, “House Approves Sanctions Package Against Russia,” and tells us that it is in retaliation for Russia meddling in the 2016 US election. What it doesn’t tell us is that there is no actual physical evidence that they did anything of the sort, nor do they tell us that the bill also contains sanctions against companies doing business with Russia. Not only is that against international law, but the whole bill is an egregious infringement executive prerogative, because foreign policy is a mandate of the Executive Branch, not of the Legislature.

The sanctions against companies doing business is actually the real purpose of the bill, because it is an attempt to prevent BP and other European petroleum companies from importing Russian natural gas by pipeline, so that American petroleum companies can export liquefied natural gas to Europe at higher cost.

Last week the Union-Tribune headlined that the “Soccer City Planner Wants MLS To Delay Franchise Award,” until plans could be redrawn for a Mission Valley stadium to replace the failed initiative from earlier this year. What they failed to mention in the article is that Major League Soccer has already awarded the two new franchises in question, that one of them did go to San Diego, and that plans are being made for a stadium to be built for the new professional soccer team in North County.

President Trump, whom I consider a moron and who I dislike intensely, claims that the mainstream media is a major purveyor of “fake news,” and this one of the few things on which I agree with him.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

On The Lighter Side at Indianapolis

A lighter moment in the Xfinity race at Indianapolis as William Byron went three wide into turn one. The announcers were freaking out, probably already trying to decide how to describe the terrible wreck which was about to happen, because even two wide into the turns at Indianapolis is less than a wonderful idea.

One of the announcers then says, “Okay, we’ll have to give him that one. He’s never raced here before so he didn’t know that you cannot do that, and that’s why he was able to pull that off.”

I enjoyed the hell out of that. You can do that only if you don’t know you can’t do it. I don’t actually think it was as stupid as it sounds, he was just so flustered he got his tongue all twisted up. I’m still chuckling about it the next day.

The driver, a rookie, went on to win the race; not only the first time he’s raced at Indianapolis, the first time he has ever seen the speedway in person. Not the first time he’s won an Xfinity race, though; at age nineteen, this was his 3rd win.

No, he did not repeat the three wide into the turn thing. He probably scared the shit out of himself the one time he did it, plus he almost certainly had his spotter screaming in his ear, "Don't you ever do that again."

Update, Sunday 6:25pm: Jimmie Johnson, seven time NASCAR champion, went three wide into turn one at Indianapolis this afternoon. Unlike rookie William Byron, he didn't make it; put his car into the wall and totaled it. Maybe the rookie should give "Seven Time" some lessons.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Not a Rising Tide

I do not object to raising the minimum wage. It benefits those who work for minimum wage, and for a liberal that should be a sufficient reason. Liberals, however, can never be satisfied with doing good for its own sake, because the modern convention is that voters should vote only in their own self interest.

(I actually reject the concept of voting only in one’s own self interest, but that’s a different subject for a different time.)

The only voters whose own self interest supports raising the minimum wage, however, are those working for minimum wage, and they don’t make campaign contributions. Nor are there enough of them to assure the reelection of liberal politicians, so the assistance of economists is secured to tell us that raising the minimum wage “injects money into the economy,” thereby increasing consumer spending and raising the GDP, which is in everybody’s self interest.

Sort of “the rising tide that raises all boats,” but does it actually work? Lets look at Dean Baker’s example of the roofer in Nebraska, who he suggests should raise her workers’ wage from $17/hr to $20/hr and thereby gain more business and enrich the economy by increasing the GDP because the workers will have more money to spend.

The average roofing job takes about 150 man-hours, so each for job the higher wage will enrich the workers by about $450, typically about $90 per worker. This is where the difference between economics and business enters the picture, because Dean Baker thinks that the discussion ends here, with telling us that the economy has been enriched by $450 per roofing job, the additional amount that the workers have been paid.

There is, however, the issue of payroll deductions which usually run about one third of gross pay, so the economy is actually enriched by about $300 per roofing job, which is the increased spending power that is realized by the workers due to the increase in wages. That’s a good thing, of course, but it’s still not the end of the discussion.

The roofer’s cost to do the job has increased by $450, and Dean Baker will tell us that the roofing company can just absorb that additional cost and move on. Any business that allows its cost to increase without a consequent increase in selling price, however, is all be certain to be going out of business in very short order. That’s not economics, so Dean Baker would not know anything about that. It’s basic business management, which a kid selling lemonade on the street corner figures out pretty quickly.

And the direct wage increase of $450 is not the whole story either. There are costs related to wages, such as workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance tax and payroll tax. There are others, such as sick pay, vacation pay and, increasingly, mandated maternity pay, and they all usually add up to about 30% of direct wages. I suspect that the rate for a high risk business such as roofing is a little higher than that, but we’ll stay with the average and say that this factor bumps the average cost increase to about $585 per roofing job.

And that’s without the roofer adding anything for profit on that increased cost, which is actually a must if she wants to stay in business, not to mention applying a factor called “burden” onto the additional cost. The latter is a factor to cover the fixed overhead of the business, and companies who do not apply it regularly on job costing fail every time. I have seen it more than once. Profit and burden add another 20% at the very least; it is usually a percentage significantly much larger than that.

So the increased sale price of the roofing job is some $700 due to the $3/hr wage increase that Dean Baker urged the roofer to award her employees. That means that five employees have a total of $300 more spending money from this roofing job as a result of the wage increase, while the homeowner has $700 less spending money. The economy, then, had a net loss of $400 in consumer spending power.

I suspect that somebody is going to say that the homeowner is so wealthy that the cost of the roofing job does not affect his spending habits. I will prevent that person from looking foolish by reminding him of the “American dream” of every person a homeowner, and that over 50% of the population has already realized that dream. I would not for a moment suggest that 50% of the population is indifferent to spending resources.

That argument is beside the point anyway, because the “injection of money into the economy” is not about how much will actually be spent, but is about how much will be made available for spending, and we have shown that the economy did not realize any net benefit from the Nebraska roofer raising her workers’ wages.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Economics Is Idiocy

Dean Baker explains why we stupid people do not understand “how the labor market works” to the owner of a roofing contractor in an extraordinarily thick headed manner last week. This is an example of why I seldom read Dean Baker’s column any more. (I quit reading Paul Krugman more than a year ago.)

The roofer is paying a starting wage of $17/hr, well over the state’s minimum wage of $9/hr, and not getting enough new hires. She explains that she would cheerfully pay $35/hr but is constrained by competition and, even more so, by what insurance companies dictate for roof repairs.

Baker’s response is that, if she cannot pay $35/hr, she can still pay $20/hr and thus hire new workers away from her competition, thereby solving her worker shortage. His column continues, offering erudite comments about “textbook economics,” which is a lot less enlightening than he thinks it is, because the roofing company owner is not dealing in Dean Baker’s “economic world” but rather in a business world.

He suggests that, “Maybe the government should provide employers with an incentive for learning basic labor economics,” but I’m thinking that maybe the course should be for economists. Raising wages to hire workers away from competing companies in the same industry is a refrain continuously sung by Dean Baker, and it is utter drivel. Moving a worker shortage from one employer to another does not eliminate the shortage.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Primary Cause"

To set the scene, a semi-truck is parked at the curb on a boulevard, one with multiple lanes in both directions. It is there illegally, blocking a bicycle lane, while the driver goes into a fast food place for breakfast. Along comes a person driving a car and slams into the rear of the truck. His car goes under the trailer of the semi, shearing off the top of the car and killing the driver. There is no evidence that the driver of the car ever touched his brakes before he was killed.

The police are citing the truck as "the primary cause of the accident."

That makes no sense to me. It was a clear day, on a straight stretch of road, with no hills. How did the driver not see a semi-truck? How does a parked, unoccupied semi-truck in plain view of oncoming traffic cause an accident? Police do not whether or not a cell phone was found in the car, by the way.

Certainly the truck driver was wrong, and certainly in parking where he did he created a hazard. I would not argue if the police cited his truck as a contributor to the accident. But the truck, an inanimate, stationary object, as the primary cause of the accident? If the driver of the car, who pretty obviously never saw the truck, had hit a tree, would the tree have been the "primary cause of the accident?"

If the other party does something illegal, that does not relieve me of responsibility for my own safety. If a car runs a red light, it is not okay for me to use that as license to run into him and blame him for the carnage; I still have the responsibility, morally and under the law, to avoid hitting him if possible. What are the police thinking here, claiming that a stationary truck is the "the primary cause of the accident?"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Crazy, Stupid, or... ?

I sometimes get the feeling that Trump is doing to the establishment what Osama bin Laden did to the United States. We drove him out of Afghanistan in three months, and sixteen years later we are still fighting, dying and bankrupting ourselves there; such a long time and with such futility that we no longer even know why the fuck we are there.

The establishment is descending to a similar level of insanity in their war against Trump; using the same lack of sanity and the same desperate dishonesty in their frantic thrashing around, and steadily destroying what little ability they ever had to govern.

Not that I'm into carrying any water for Donald Trump, I despise the man, but the establishment has abandoned any pretense that we have a constitutional government.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Men Are The Weaker Sex

In the last general election California voters had a choice between two female Democrats to replace a retiring female Democrat in the US Senate. The winner has joined the female Democrat who is presently in the process of dying in office.

Ardent Democrats are now urging this new female Democrat to run for POTUS in 2020, since the last female Democratic champion botched the task (and is blaming it on "angry white men") and the Ardent Democrats have become jaded with the current female Democratic champion now that she has three full years of federal experience and her snarky rhetoric is starting to become a bit stale.

It is worth noting that men wear pink in their football games in behalf of women's causes, while women wear... Um, pink in behalf of women's causes. I know, payback time, but payback is not justice.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Racing This Weekend

The Americans seem to have improved their boat speed, enough to win one race on Saturday, but they still have the same idiot at the helm. I have not seen so much just plain bad sailing since I watched a bunch of Cub Scouts. Oracle jumped the start on one race and blamed his "software." I was watching on television, for God's sake, and three boat lengths before he got to the line said "Shit!" loud enough to startle Molly, who was not even on my lap. If I didn't need any stinking computer software to know that he was early to the line, why did he?

In the same race he drew a boundary penalty and committed a crossing foul, and twice he tacked so badly that he dumped both hulls in the water and dropped his speed to under five knots. He did the same thing once during a prestart. During prestart! He crossed the start line twenty seconds behind the Kiwis after that little debacle.

Danica Patrick started 6th and finished 17th. Her teammates finished 1st and 2nd. I don't think we need to say much more about that.

Well, we might add that she wrecked her boyfriend on lap 30. Tore his car all to pieces and put him out of the race. I'll bet that will be a quiet house tonight.

In Indycar the announcing crew kept telling us about the complete dominance of the Penske team. Scott Dixon sort of spoiled their party by winning, because he drives for Chip Ganassi.

Corruption Is Now Normal

One of the problems with these so-called “citizens initiatives” that are placed on our ballots is the extreme level of dishonesty with which they are promoted. In all fairness, the honesty of opponents is no better, but while the process is designed to allow citizens a voice in the process of governance, all too often these ballot measures are blatantly dishonest schemes to enrich the major financial players who sponsor them.

Such turns out to be the case with the San Diego “Soccer City” initiative, which we were told by FS Investors must be placed into a special election in 2017 in order to avoid losing an opportunity for an expansion team being created by Major League Soccer in 2018. If we waited for a 2018 regular election, we were told by the investment group wanting to “develop a fantastic plan for Mission Valley,” we would probably lose a chance at obtaining one of the planned MLS expansion teams.

It turns out that even as they were saying all of this, San Diego had already obtained an MLS expansion team. The investors who obtained the franchise early last month “purposely delayed the announcement so it wouldn’t conflict with the public debate over the Soccer City proposal.” The stadium will be built, we are told now, somewhere in North County.

The corruption boggles the mind. FS Investors knew that the expansion team deal was already locked up, and so did the group who had already secured the expansion team, and both groups kept silent about it in order to coerce voters into approving a $5 billion commercial development by FS Investors, three million sqft of commercial space and 4500 condominiums, which happened to have a soccer stadium and river park as window dressing.

Named "Soccer City" for the stadium which was ~5% of the investment.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Intelligent (?) Reporting

There is a stock car race tomorrow... Well, to digress a bit, what will be on the track certainly are not stock cars and it being an actual race is more than a bit questionable, but it is being promoted as a stock car race and is hosted by the National Association for Stock Automobile Racing.

Anyway, of course various media pundits have to write about it but, since all of the vehicles are so exactly the same that the sanctioning body measures them with lasers, and the drivers are pretty much likewise although the sanctioning body doesn't measure them with anything, it's a little hard for said pundits to come up with anything meaningful to write about.

So the pundits do what they always do in those circumstances; they write things that aren't meaningful. They write gibberish. They write things like, "Kyle Larson hoping to win Sunday." Would Kyle Larson even be getting in the fucking race car if he wasn't hoping to win?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Party of Incoherence

The first step in winning the next election is recognizing how and why you lost the current election. In the case of the Democratic Party, the first step is even accepting the basic fact that you did lose the current election, something that they have not yet done.

After the debacle that was the 2016 presidential election many party loyalists are hung up on the claim that they did not actually lose the election, regardless of who is actually occupying the White House, because of some fantasy about the popular vote.

Aside from that issue and faced with the inescapable fact that their candidate is not presently living in the White House, the Democratic Party elected the same leadership, who then proclaimed that the party did not need to do anything different in order to win the next election. Their reasoning was a bit hard to follow, but seemed to be something to the effect that the voters had been wrong and would come to their senses over the next four years.

They did not say what they were going to do to bring those voters to their senses, and apparently it has not yet happened because in four special elections this month, four Republicans will be going to Washington as members of the House of Representatives.

Democrats are divided between those patting themselves on the back for having achieved a “moral victory” in those four elections and those castigating Democratic voters for not voting in sufficient numbers. No one is asking why those Democratic voters did not come out and vote, other than Rachel Maddow, who opined that Democrats don’t come out in rainy weather while apparently Republicans do.

In one election the Democratic Party ran a candidate who did not even live in the district, and in discussion after discussion I cannot find one party loyalist who admits that might have been a mistake; that next time maybe the candidates should be locals. That election was in Georgia where, I believe, the term “carpetbagger” originated.

In one particularly fascinating exchange, a “conversationalist” excoriated Republicans because they blindly vote for anyone who is a Republican, not questioning anything about the candidate’s policies other than his party affiliation. I thought I recognized the handle and went back to last year and found a post in which he said that he was unhappy with Clinton but would “hold his nose and vote for her” because she was the Democratic nominee. I decided not to pursue that, but it might have been fun.