Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I saw the pulmanologist yesterday. He finally said I am getting better, although the pace at which I am doing so can best be described as glacial. He's a good guy, but I wish he would quit referring to my lungs as the "left disaster zone" and the "right disaster zone." These lungs have been down many miles of very bad road and deserve more respect than that.

I watched Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday. I have no idea why I did that, but I'm certainly not going to do it again any time soon.

I'm enjoying reading about the snowstorms in the Midwest and Eastern US. Temperature is in the 70's right now, and is forecast to be in the 80's over the next few days. Offshore breezes but no significant fire danger.

Our government is developing fear mongering to a real art form these days. Releasing illegal immigrants because we can't afford to keep them in prison. Awesome, considering that we can afford tracking anklets for them and daily calls to parole officers. We are supposed to be frightened about cutbacks in the TSA, but I actually regard that as a benefit. China will be invading Hawaii soon because the Navy had to pull back to the California coast; couldn't affortd to patrol the Pacific due to a 2% cutback in defense spending.

Europe is crumbling into dust, China is more or less crashing, Japan is slowing from a walk to a crawl, but not to worry; Bernanke is keeping the "stimulus" going, so the stock market will boom and our economy will be just awesome. Hordes of people will continue to be unemployed, of course, and those who have jobs will have lousy pay, but that has nothing to do with the economy, so just shut up about jobs.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting It Right

The traditional command for starting engines before a NASCAR race has been, "Gentlemen, start your engines." Not altogether accurate, since few stock car drivers were historically gentlemen, but close enough. When women entered the sport it was changed to "Drivers, start your engines," which seems reasonable enough.

And then along came Danica Patrick. I think the Grand Marshall today meant to say, "Gentlemen and Danica, start your engines," which I think would have been in poor taste but in line with the Danicamania that prevails today. What he said though was, "Drivers and Danica, start your engines," which would imply that Danica is not a driver. Freudian slip?

More Victims of Stupid Driving

The Nationwide race ended, as has become almost routine now, with a terrible wreck on the last lap when one driver tried to prevent another from passing him by moving suddenly sideways to in front of the passing car, a move known as “blocking.” As is also almost routine, he made to move too late, hitting the passing car instead of blocking him, turning himself sideways and causing a massive pileup of the cars behind them. As stupid as it is, blocking is not against the rules established by NASCAR.

This one also sent a car airborne and into the catchfence. Everything in front of the windshield was torn off of the car, and the engine and both front wheels along with all of the surrounding sheet metal was thrown into the crowd of spectators. The driver was unhurt, but two dozen spectators were injured, some of them seriously.

Tony Stewart won the race, and as he climbed out of his car in victory circle he was not smiling and was not happy. “As much as we want to celebrate now and as much as this is a big deal for all of us, I'm more worried about the drivers and the fans in the stands right now,” he said. "We've always known since racing was started this was a dangerous sport, but as drivers we assume that risk, and it's hard when the fans get caught up in it." Thoughtful words from a sensible driver.

Regan Smith who caused the wreck by trying to block Brad Keselowski as Brad was passing him was completely unrepentant, saying that “I did what I had to do, and I would do it again, absolutely.” The man is an idiot.

NASCAR must outlaw blocking, especially on the restrictor plate tracks at Talledega and Daytona. It is dangerous, and someday it is going to kill someone. NASCAR has its head buried in the sand, claiming that it is too difficult to enforce, or that it would be a “judgement call,” or that there is some merit in blocking. All of that is nonsensical, and they should not be waiting until someone dies before that take action. We lost Dale Earnhardt because NASCAR was complacent, and we don’t need to lose anyone else because of their complacency and stupidity.

NASCAR claims to be "committed to safety," and yet they permit a practice which unquestioanly has caused many terrible wrecks, and which is without question the sole cause of yesterday's wreck which injured two dozen spectators. So long as they permit this dangerous, lethal practice any claim they make about being "committed to safety" is utter bullshit.

IndyCar outlaws blocking and that sport is better off, and is safer, for that rule. They know blocking when they see it, and drivers never raise any sort of major complaint when the rule is invoked. NASCAR claims to be a leader on motor sports, but they are not even a competent follower. NASCAR: outlaw blocking now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thinking Broadly

Robert Reich, who is described as “one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy,” is proposing a solution to “the Social Security problem” that is certainly novel. It is insane, you understand, to the point of being along the lines of curing a headache by diving off of the Golden Gate Bridge, but it’s interesting.

His position is that when Social Security was begun there were five workers for every retiree, and now there are only barely over three. Some time in the future, if present trends continue (emphasis mine), there will be only two.

First, he doesn’t mention that the “barely over three” workers are providing more income to the Social Security trust fund than is being paid out in benefits, even in a recession, nor that the fund is sufficient to pay out benefits for several decades. The “Social Security problem” is considerably less dire than it is being made out to be, and could be alleviated by removing the upper income limit on Social Security contribution.

Then there’s the “if present trends continue” bit. I was feeling very healthy a few weeks ago, and then I got pneumonia and felt very poorly indeed. On Feb 7th I would have said that “if present trends continue” I will be dead in four days. Present trends did not continue and, while I still have pneumonia and don’t feel very well yet, I am a very long way from dead. News flash Robert, “present trends” very seldom continue.

So, Robert Reich’s solution to the “Social Security problem” is (Are you ready for this?) to allow many more immigrant workers into the United States. They will be young people, he says, because foreign countries are bursting with young people, and they will therefor increase the number of workers per retiree.

Actually, of course, they will increase the number of unemployed persons per retiree, and unemployed people don’t pay into Social Security, but that’s just a minor detail. He tosses that aside with “Yes, I know: There aren’t enough jobs right now even for Americans who want and need them. But once the American economy recovers, there will be.” Bless his optimistic little heart.

Unemployment hasn't been below 4% since 1970, meaning that our present workforce has not been fully employed for four decades. So where are the jobs going to come from for all of these new immigrants that he is proposing to bring in, even if the economy does recover fully and completely? Not that anyone is suggesting that it's likely to do that before baby boomers retire.

He says that “we’ve been focusing on only one aspect of [immigration reform] – how to deal with undocumented workers.” Apparently his solution is to bring in a whole bunch of documented ones. He doesn’t say what to do with the undocumented ones.

We need to think more broadly, and connect the dots. One logical way to help deal with the crisis of funding Social Security and Medicare is to have more workers per retiree. And the simplest way to do that is to allow more immigrants into the United States.

Absolutely. If you have a headache think broadly; think about your feet. The simplest way to deal with a headache is to shoot yourself in both feet. Your feet will hurt so bad, and being crippled will be so disastrous, that you won’t notice your headache.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Negotiating In Bad Faith

Obama is planning a “media blitz” tour to decry the horrors of the “sequester,” a set of spending cuts which he signed into law last year and for which he is now blaming the Republicans. He now says the cuts are "not smart," "not fair," and that "people will lose their jobs," despite the undeniable fact that he signed them into law last year.

He goes on to say that the proper approach is a "balanced approach" debt reduction plan that includes revenue increases in the form of eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy as well as spending cuts.

Does no one remember the tax increases that occurred in January? There was a tax increase on the rich in income taxes and a tax increase on the middle class when the payroll tax cut was dropped. That was part of a two-part deal; the "balanced approach" between revenue increases and spending cuts. Spending cuts could not be agreed upon at the time, so it was agreed that spending cuts could be deferred in order to get the tax issue accomplished at the first of the year.

Now Obama is saying again that he wants a "balanced approach" between revenue and spending cuts. The tax cuts in January were not balanced. It was revenue increase and the spending cuts were deferred, and when it comes time to deal with the deferred spending cuts he renews the "balanced deal" approach. You have to be kidding me.

Not to mention that Obama swore in his reelection campaign the he would not allow taxes to be increased on the middle class. They increased the first of this year; about 1% on the rich in income taxes, and 2% on the middle class when the payroll tax cut expired. Not only did he raise taxes on the middle class, he raised them more than he did on the rich. No one is talking about that.

Back to the "sequester." That specifically was part of a three-part deal; an increase in the debt ceiling, revenue increases, and spending cuts. Obama signed off on that deal, and the spending cuts in the "sequester" were very specific at the time. Obama got the debt ceiling increase. He got the revenue the first of this year. He got the "sequester" postponed twice, and now he insists that it should not be imposed at all.

Why does Obama make a deal and then, having gotten the part of the deal that benefits him, claim that the part that is bad for him is wrong and should not be done? Let's say my neighbor and I agree to mow each other's lawns. After he mows mine, am I not obligated to mow his? Or can I say that mowing his is hard work and tiring and I'm just not going to do it?

I don't like the sequester either, but that's what Obama agreed to. I thought at the time that it was not a smart deal. I recognized that Obama was counting on the other side "blinking." He thought that when it came time to do it that the other side would back down. Well, he guessed wrong. He bluffed and they called his bluff. But that's on him. He made the deal and now he’s trying to blame them for it.

When you bluff and your bluff is called you lose.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Guards and Barricades

In his continuing effort to deal with anything other than creating jobs, President Obama has turned to immigration as his issue du jour. He won’t get any further with this, I suspect, than he will with jobs creation, but he is a master at being a moving target so that no one can accuse him of being fixated on anything other than helping the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

The White House describes his immigration proposal as a plan that “would put illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship that could begin after about eight years and would require them to go to the back of the line behind legal applicants.” This is on pretty much the same logical plane as “we are denying them space in which to plan their attacks.”

Obama keeps pissing in our collective ear and telling us it’s raining, and we keep using that to water our crops. “Go to the back of the line?” I don’t think so.

Living legally within the United States is not the “back of the line” behind people who have applied legally and are waiting to come here. They are not here! They are waiting to come here. How are people who are already here behind them in line?

Prisons have guards and barricades to keep people in. When someone overcomes the barricades and outwits the guards and gets out, we do not pat them on the head, make them pay a little fine and allow them to stay out; we throw them back in prison and extend the length of their sentence.

The guards and barricades at our border are not some international game, where if you overcome the barricades and outwit the guards, maybe killing a few guards in the process, you win a prize and get to live in this nation legally. Except that is what we’ve turned it into. It’s illegal to enter this country without permission, but if you manage to do it, we give you a pass and make it legal.

And I'm sure the way to deal with 12 million unemploymed is to increase the size of the legal workforce by 12 million or so. Makes perfect sense. It will help to keep wages down without the risk of illegal hiring, and that's good for business.

We are a “nation of law?” What a joke. We are a lawless oligarchy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

This Is Ridiculous

Today’s military is beginning to remind me of the grade school, where everyone who runs the race is given a trophy so that no one “feels left out.” Reward has nothing to do with extra hard work or accomplishment. Self esteem is everything and it is assumed to be a natural attribute shared equally by all, rather than being earned by individual achievement and perhaps, perish the thought, personal pain and risk of failure.

Years ago the Army developed an elite unit known as “Special Forces.” The training was brutal and had a high failure rate, and the unit went into the most dangerous and difficult fights, engaging in battles more risky than other units could take on. They were known by their distinctive headgear and were called the “Green Berets.”

The regular soldiers were jealous of those snazzy hats. I thought they made soldiers look like French intellectuals who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag, but the rest of the Army had their collective nose out of joint because the elite unit got to wear something they didn’t. They didn’t want to do the arduous training, you understand, nor did they want the extra risk in battle, but they wanted those neat hats.

So the Army put everybody in the floppy felt hats of a different color and made everyone feel equal. I suspect it rather pissed off the actual Green Berets, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, and the Army wanted its soldiers to feel good about themselves. Self esteem and all that.

For many decades submarine sailors have worn a large pin on their left breast, sliver for enlisted ranks and gold for officers, to indicate qualification in submarine duty. They are called “dolphins,” and are earned by more than a year of training which is not easy, and by serving in ships which sink repeatedly. Service in submarines is difficult and highly dangerous.

Sailors serving on surface ships were jealous of the nifty and highly noticeable silver pins worn by submariners. They didn't want the year of rigorous training, of course, nor were they crazy enough enough to want to serve on those dangerous ships, but they thought those dolphins were really cool.

Just as the Army and its hats, the Navy came up with the “Surface Combat Badge.” It is a silver/gold pin which is almost exactly that same size and shape as a pair of dolphins, and it is worn in the same place. Sailors do not have to be in combat to earn one, they merely have to serve on a surface combat ship and perform the same training and duties that they have been doing since the Navy first had ships. So now everyone has a nice fancy pin on their chest, and nobody “feels left out.” Self esteem and all that.

Used to be if you saw that silver pin at a distance you knew you were looking at a submariner. Now you just know you are looking at someone who is in the Navy, and you could pretty much tell that from the uniform.

Now the military has come up with a medal “for valor” which does not require that the recipient has exposed himself to any risk of injury or death, and it ranks above the Bronze Star. It is designed especially for drone pilots, who do not presently qualify for medals of valor because they do not engage in battle.

I would say they do not qualify because they do not display valor, which is defined as “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness.”

That a person flying a drone from the safety of a location in the continental US would be awarded a medal which ranks higher than a Bronze Star awarded to a combat soldier who was wounded and performed heroically under enemy fire is utterly obscene.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Medical Adventures

I’m back home again, but don’t expect heavy posting. At this point I’m not even picking any fights with my cat, and she only weighs eight pounds. I’ve lost thirty pounds; not all bad, but this is probably not the best way to do it.

After a week of fever and chills I went to see my primary care physician. She sent me to the ER, where they diagnosed me with pneumonia and sent me home with an antibiotic. After another week I was starting to get worse instead of better so I called her office and she said no, don’t come here, go to the ER. They said it not only was worse, it was quite a bit worse, and clapped me in the hospital with IV’s in both arms.

The doctors there threw a lot of medical terms at me, few of which I understood and even fewer of which I cared about. Doctors love to label things. They don’t cure things, they just label them, as if that somehow solves the problem. At one point they said I had “necrotizing pneumonia,” which is supposedly scary because the first part of the name has to do with death. I don’t scare easily, because if I was easy to kill I would have been dead long ago. I’m going to be around pissing people off for a long time yet.

Then the pulmanologist showed up and told everyone to calm down and that someone should be reading the x-rays who knew how to read x-rays. He and I have a long history. He said the pneumonia is not “necrotizing” anything and that they were just seeing a lot of scar tissue and cysts that have been in my lung for years. My lungs have been down many miles of very bad road. As I said, I have empirical evidence that I am not easy to kill.

So after a week he went ahead and discharged me with a discharge summary of “unresolved pneumonia.” (He likes labels too.) Basically that means that after all of that adventure I’m back to where I was two weeks ago; at home on antibiotics and with pneumonia to about the same degree that I had when initially diagnosed. It would be unfair to say that all of the fun and games were wasted effort, because it did get worse and they brought it back down to its original state.

And, by the way, hospital food is still not fit for human consumption. One doesn't, of course, go to the hospital for the dining experience but, damn.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Necrotizing Pnuemoina

That's what my pnuemonia turned into, and they hospitalize you for that. Blogging on my iPad sucks, so...

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Pots and Kettles

Obama is full of a different brand of crap than George Bush was, and it’s probably not as pernicious crap, but he is still utterly full of it. He presents his crap in a more polished and urbane manner, and that may annoy me even more than Bush did, because a believable liar is far more dangerous than a foolish and nonsensical one like Bush.

CBS Evening News presented us with his pontifications last night, and it did not do my recovery from pneumonia any good. I’m supposed to be resting, not pacing around the living room screaming at the television. Well, okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole but…

First they asked him about the fact that the economy shrank in the last quarter, and he got all warm and smiley as he explained to us how well the economy is actually doing. (Even though it shrank by 0.1% in the last quarter.) Housing is recovering, he told us, manufacturing is “booming” and car sales are fabulous. He didn’t mention that retail sales suck, that hiring is still minimal, or that unemployment is rising again.

Then he allowed that the reason the economy shrank is that defense spending was cut by 22% and that it was the biggest cut in 40 years. Since when has the purpose of defense spending been the support of the national economy? That means it isn’t actually defense spending, it’s stimulus spending. Paul Krugman is having an organism.

Then they show him lecturing about how irresponsible it would be of Congress to allow the “sequester” to be imposed. I have a question for him. If it is so irresponsible, why did he sign it into law last year? He is saying that Congress would be “irresponsible” to allow a law signed by him to go into effect.

Meanwhile, what we don’t need to worry about is creating jobs.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


And here we have another Obamabot, worshipping at the altar of Obamacare without any really valid reason stated for doing so. Her medication has been costing $100 per month when filled through the mail order insurance system, and her husband just got it filled at the local pharmacy at no cost because, “It's now considered a preventative medication and under the ACA, it has a zero copay.”

I’d like to see that in writing. While the Obamacare provides for various preventive doctor visits at no charge, I have never seen any hint that it went into the pharmacopoeia and classified certain ones of them as preventive care medications. The insurance company may have done that for reasons of its own, such as the patent having expired, but I am willing to bet that its classification as a “preventive medication” was not made by Obamacare.

She says that she had never complained about the copay before because she had “just seen it as the cost of doing business with blood sucking insurance agencies.” Actually, the “agencies” are merely local small companies that connect her with the insurance companies about whom she is complaining, but And the “blood sucking insurance companies” aren’t who create the cost. They pay for those medications to the drug companies, about whom it never occurs to this nitwit to complain.

“Thank you President Obama,” she says, “you just put $1200 back into my pocket.” Yes, even if it wasn’t President Obama, something did put $1200 in her pocket by taking it out of pockets of everyone who buys insurance from that carrier, because there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Insurance companies do not charge you for doctor visits and medical services. They pay for those services and then require you to repay them. When Obamacare requires that they pay for a doctor visit and that you are not required to repay them, then the cost of that service or product is distributed to everyone who holds policies with that company. If your policy is employer provided, then all of your coworkers are paying the cost of that “free medication" in the form of higher premiums.

So if you aren’t paying for it, somebody else is. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Just Hang In There

Okay, I realize that a day with no words of wisdom from me is like a day wihout sunshine, but my enthusiasm for pontification wanes considerably when I am burdended by a flu-induced case of pnuemonia. There is not just the general malaise of fever and shortness of breath, but concentration suffers when with every breath it feels like an assassin has thrust a sharp dagger into one's chest. I'll be back. Or I'll be dead, and at the moment I don't particularly care which.