Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Doing It Right

There are many reasons why San Diego is a great place to live and I cannot think, offhand, of much in the way of anything that would be a valid reason not to live here. We could , of course, use a better football team, but... Anyway, once in a while something happens that reminds me that this town does live up to its slogan, which is "America's Finest City."

Protesters closed northbound I-5 this morning, voicing their opposition to recent events in Ferguson. It caused massive backups, of course, and the CHP finally managed to disband the protest but there were no arrests and no one even got a ticket. San Diego law enforcement understands the constitutional right of the people to peacefully assemble.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wierd Ways

Let’s hear it for the Aztecs basketball team, who scored 104 points. Of course, it took them two games to score those points, but they won both games due to their traditionally awesome defense. One of the announcers commented that the Aztecs were shooting 27% from the field, and the other one said, “Yeah, and what’s weird is that they’re doing that and winning.” The shooting will come in due time, but the Aztecs always make us fans nervous in the early part of the season.

What was really weird is the impression of the San Diego U-T sportswriters that the Chargers have an offense that is close to being perfect; missing, perhaps, only a cigar. Kevin Acee describes how Malcom Floyd slowed momentarily while blocking for running back Matthew Ryan and then realized that him missing the block was all that prevented Ryan from scoring a touchdown. Acee uses that as an example of how close the offense is to being perfection.

My first thought was, “Yeah,and if the dog hadn’t stopped running he’d have caught the rabbit,” and my second was that close only counts in horseshoes amd hand grenades. The Chargers only scored six earned points in the game he described.

If Acee wasn’t so absorbed in drinking Koolaid, he would realize that the example he cites reveals just how badly flawed the Chargers offense is on two levels.

First is that Floyd’s “slowing down to see what the cornerback would do” is a defensive posture not an offensive one. An offense does not wait to see what the other team is doing and then react to it, an offense makes the other team react to what it is doing. It attacks. No wonder the offense is not scoring points or converting third downs.

The more severe problems is that Floyd’s assignment was to escort the running back downfield, following a specified route, and Floyd did not do that. If you are thinking about what you should be doing, you are not doing it. You should be doing your assignments because you know what to do, not because you are thinking about what would "be a cool thing to do." That is the Chargers' problem in a nutshell, and it is not a small thing. It is a major thing.

You have an assignment. Don't think about it. Don't wait to see what the opponent will do. Carry out your assignment. especially when your assignment is blocking ror a ball carrier. It doesn't matter what the cornerback is going to do, it matters what Ryan Matthews is going to do, and you know what Ryan Matthews is going to do. Floyd blew his assignment because he was thinking instead of carrying out his assignment, which is called a lack of discipline and is the crux of the problem.

The Chargers are insufficiently aggressive on both sides of the ball, and they are undisciplined. Either they do not know their assignments or they choose not to carry them out. In both cases, that is not close to being a championship team; that is a very long way from being a championship team.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Football Roundup

LSU was shut out by the Razorbacks, which is a good team but not that good. The Tigers, I suspect, were reflecting the letdown of having been betrayed by their coach the preceding week. I’m not surprised the team played poorly; Les Miles is lucky that they even took the field.

On a happier note, both Eli Manning and the New Orleans Criminals lost yesterday, and each suffered that defeat in their own house. Even sweeter was that the Giants loss was contributed to by no fewer than five Eli Manning interceptions.

The Chargers are celebrating a halt to their losing streak, but I’m not sure that beating a 0-9 team by seven points, and unearned points at that, is really something to celebrate. Most seem to admit that the offense was pretty shoddy, with its only touchdown coming on the heels of a Raiders fumble on its own 20-yard line.

Everyone is excited about the return of Ryan Matthews and thrilled that he ran for 70 yards, but I’m looking at some league stats that make that somewhat less than overwhelmingly impressive. Jonas Gray of New England ran for 199 yards, and he did it against the Colts, not against a team that has lost 15 consecutive games. Thirteen players ran for more yards than Matthews did yesterday, one of them a quarterback, and ten players with ten or more carries had a higher yards-per-carry average. All of them were running against far better defenses than the hapless Raiders.

Too many writers are crowing about the “awesome” performance of the defense, but I’d say they are failing to account that the defense was playing against an offense that has not won a game in more than a year. In nine previous losses Raiders have averaged 72 yards rushing, and they ran for 71 yards yesterday. They averaged 205 yards passing in those games and passed for 162 yesterday. What’s “awesome” about any of that? Yes, the defense looked decent, but they were up against a rookie quarterback and an 0-9 team. They should have looked better.

Yes, technically the Chargers are “back in the playoffs hunt,” but…

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Extremism Is Okay If...

We have this weird attitude about extremists. We must, it seems, kill extremists if they are of the Muslim variety, but tolerate them if they are Christian extremists because Christian extremists have rights while Muslim extremist’s don’t. If they are Republican extremists we call the nasty names, but if they are Democratic extremists we adore them and urge them to run for president.

There is a growing current among the “I’ll vote for anyone as long as she’s a Democrat” crowd to persuade Elizabeth Warren to run for president because she is, according to them, some sort of liberal icon who will save the country from the evils of corporatism. They are thrilled by her position that Wall Street should be drowned in a bathtub, which in reality is an extreme position which makes no more sense than does the Republican mantra that government should receive the same fate.

Warren is an economic populist and certainly has all the right lyrics for the economic aria, but she doesn’t know the words or music for any other song in the songbook. She is an economics professor with a couple of relatively minor government appointed positions under her belt, and one unfinished term as Senator. There is no foreign policy experience, no government administration experience, no military experience, no constitutional or legal experience... No public service other than one Senate campaign.

The few times she has been asked about these issues she has essentially done nothing more than change the subject, with the exception of being a 100% supporter of "Israel's right to defend itself." She is a one trick pony and, while it is a really good trick, she has shown us absolutely nothing else that she can do.

The Democratic Party’s moving Warren into a newly created and essentially undefined “leadership position,” a mere two years after she first entered the Senate, is a desperate and farcical attempt by the party to regain its liberal base by showing them that it is moving back to the left. The only ones who are going to believe that it is actually doing so are those few who have managed to hang onto their belief in the “hope and change” myth of 2008.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Redefining Democracy

The Obama loyalist branch of the Democratic Party is in despair and all but ready to raise the flag inverted because the Republicans won last week. I'm not sure what they think democracy is. Somehow they only think democracy is working if their side wins.

If only one side is allowed to win, how do you even pretend that you have a democracy? These people do not really want a democracy. They want their views to prevail without other views being given an opportunity, because any views other than their own are "evil, crazy" or "stupid" and are unworthy of being given a fair hearing. The word for "I want democracy, but only when my side wins," is "hypocrisy."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fine Lines

Congress will soon be debating, at Obama's request, a new Authorization For The Use Of Military Force (the ubiquitous AUMF) against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, also known as ISIL. We might have better success at fighting it, or even deciding whether or not to fight it, if we knew what the hell we are calling it, but... Whatever.

Robert Golan-Vilella tells us in The National Interest just how wierd the thinks this debate is, saying that the "entire debate is about a hypothetical AUMF that the White House does not think it needs for a war that started over three months ago."

Daniel Larison agrees with him and adds that the war itself is very wierd in that, "By the government’s own admission, ISIS doesn’t pose a direct threat to the United States, it had no plans to attack the U.S., and couldn’t carry out those plans if it had any," and reinforces the oddity of the AUMF debate by adding, "but the president claimed to have the authority to order attacks against them anyway."

I would add to that debate that the whole concept of an AUMF is ridiculous. Congress should either declare war or not. If war then unlimited military force should be used, if not then our military in its entirety should sit peacefully in its barracks. This game of an "authorization" to kick the can of decision to the president is cowardly and unconstitutional.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don't Thank Me For My Service

It was not some noble effort, and I did not do it for you. I did my duty. I repaid the debt I owed to those who served before me; those who made it possible for me to serve. I served because it was not possible for me to do otherwise.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Les Miles is an Idiot

The LSU Tigers had held Alabama to drives of 9 yards, 6 yards, 18 yards,
2 yards and 8 yards in the second half; 43 yards total in five possessions, with just one first down and a takeaway. They did that by putting eight guys in the box and attacking like wild dogs.

So LSU kicks a field goal to take the lead with less than a minute left in the game and the grass eating moron puts three guys on the defensive line of scrimmage, linebackers five yards off the line, and corners and safeties ten yards deep. The entirely predictable result is that the Tide goes 55 yards in nine plays with three first downs, 12 more yards and two more first downs than they had managed previously in the entire half, and ties the game.

To make things worse, the herbivorous dimwit then uses the same feckless defense in overtime and gives Alabama the win. Fortunately, my wife was out of town and none of the neighbors called the police. The cat was in a back bedroom and decided to remain there.

On a brighter note both Eli Manning and the New Orleans Criminals lost. Even sweeter is that the Criminals lost in the Super Dome and as a result of a Drew Brees fumble.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Kill Shots

From Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker, "The San Diego Convention Center is hosting the first-ever convention of people who shot Osama bin Laden, with organizers expecting a turnout of between three thousand and four thousand." Go read the piece. It's a short read and will have you rolling on the floor.

And this from The Irish Times, "Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman at US central command, said yesterday: 'I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening [Friday]in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of Isil [Isis]leaders near Mosul.'"

We have this maniacial passion for killing leaders, and have been doing so for more than six years now. Where has it gotten us? If someone had killed Dwight David Eisenhower in 1944 would we have abandonded our war effort, packed up our weapons and gone home, leaving Europe to the Germans? And yet, this is apparently what we think the Islamic terrorist and war forces are going to do if we just find the right "leader" to kill.

For more than six years we have been claiming as "victories" the death of this terrorist leader or that one, and yet the alarms keep coming and the places from which the threat emanates are proliferating. When are we going to figure out that this plan of "cutting off the head of the snake" is not only not working, but is actually making the problem worse? When are we going to figure out that we are creating vastly more enemies than we are killing?

Friday, November 07, 2014

Recycled Fear Mongering

The administration is circulating rumors that the Islamic State has used chemical weapons which they captured from the Syrian Army, giving no specifics as to when and where this happened, or specifically what chemical weapons were used.

This is somewhat at odds with statements made some time ago to establish certainty that the chemical attack in Syria was perpetrated by the Syrian Army and not the rebel forces because we knew for sure than no chemical weapons had ever been captured by rebels, followed by claims that our CW surrender program had collected 100% of the chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian Army.

But what the hell, we all know that, as Raplh Waldo Emerson put it,
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers.”

The latest clarion call is a resurrection of “The Khorasan Group,” and another drone attack which we claim has killed the group’s “master bomb maker” even though we admit that no one has laid eyes on this paragon of the explosive arts, either dead or alive. We are shown a burning car and told that this master bomber “is believed to have been riding in it.”

The first time we bombed the Khorasan Group there were quite a lot of raised eyebrows, because no one other than the administration had ever heard of it. It was, supposedly, sufficiently large and mature to have developed munitions factories, command and control centers, and training facilities, all of which we bombed, but prior to the announcement of the destruction of its facilities no one even knew that it existed.

We were, however, told to be terrified of it, notwithstanding that we had destroyed its munitions factories, its command and control centers, and many of its training centers, because we were not certain at the time that we had killed its master bomb maker.

Now CBS News tells us that we killed a car which is believed to have contained this “master bomb maker,” who was developing bombs which could be concealed in shoes, underwear, printer cartridges and “even human bodies” and “smuggled onto airliners headed for the United States.”

There’s a certain lack of originality to this refrain. The shoes, underwear and printer cartridges go back to some rather amateurish plots emanating out of Yemen, of course. They are now coming from the "master bomb maker" of the Khorasan Group in Syria, who is apparently more of an explosives expert than a creative idea man.

The “human body” bomb comes from a television program “Covert Affairs” on the USA Network in which the bad guy had a bomb surgically implanted into a “soldier” who he allowed to be captured and taken to a CIA safe house, where the guy detonates the bomb and kills everyone in the house.

The bad guy was not an Islamic terrorist but was, as I recall, a Turkish arms dealer but, what the hell; if you see an idea that works for you, tailor it as needed and fit it into your narrative.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

"I Told You So"

One comment sort of sums up the idiocy. “So they voted for a higher minimum wage and for a Republican. Hahahaha. What a bunch of idiots and morons.”

No, I think you have missed the point being made by voters. Those who voted in the manner which the commentor regards as stupid are liberals, and they threw out the legislator who claims to be a liberal and is not. They demonstrated that you cannot do nothing and remain in office, no matter who you blame the “nothing” on.

They voted for a higher minimum wage at the state level and threw out the legislator who did not vote for a higher minimum wage at the federal level. Not moronic al all, but entirely consistent.

The only thing Democrats have to show for eight years in Congress is Obamacare and, while it is by no means an altogether bad bill and has some excellent features, it most certainly is not a liberal or progressive piece of legislation. It simply gives more people access to the corporate and big business system of health care, and anyone who calls that liberal or progressive needs an education in the meaning of the terms.

Yes, I know, “financial regulation reform,” but don’t go there. If I throw up right now I will have to buy a new keyboard. We might as well discuss bankruptcy reform, something else in which Democrats were complicit.

For more than two years I have been maintaining that if the Democrats want to regain the House and retain the Senate they would need to have a better message than whining about “Republican obstructionism” and preaching about the evilness of the members of the “other side.” I have gotten responses along the lines of, “We will call them evil and stupid because they are evil and stupid,” and when I suggested that such a message would not attract new voters, “Screw them, we don’t want their stupid votes.” And so, here we are.

I am not necessarily happy with yesterday’s outcome, and I don’t want to say, “I told you so” but… Yes, I do want to say that. “I told you so.”

This is what happens when you have a two party system. The only way to throw out the guy you put in when he is not doing what you put him in to do is to put the other guy in. That’s a little convoluted, but when I elect someone to change things and he doesn’t change things I cannot simply keep reelecting him. Sure it would be nice to change him in the primary election and get a different person of our own persuasion, but those things are rigged, so effectively there is only one way to throw him out.

In CA-53 the primary choices were Susan Davis and some guy who runs a barber shop and whose total political experience was when he ran for class president in grade school. Yes, I voted for him, along with eight other people in my district, so of course Susan Davis is running against a Republican in the general election and my point is made.

Don’t think this election was any kind of victory for Republicans. It was a repudiation of the fecklessness of Democrats, and a message that we are not buying all of their half baked excuses.

Monday, November 03, 2014

What The Hell Was That?

I did foresee that the Chargers might not win against Miami, but never in my most nightmarish prognostication did I imagine that they would indulge themselves in a 37-0 meltdown. The game was not, as the saying goes, as close at the score made it look. Philip Rivers was pulled from the game late in the third quarter after completing 12 of 23, with 3 interceptions, one lost fumble and a 31.0 quarterback rating. We were told that he was suffering from an undefined “hand injury” and that “his return was questionable.”

Funny, no trainer was ever observed looking at his hand, and the hand injury is not mentioned in the news articles today, none of which actually surprises me. Said news articles are not even pointing any fingers regarding yesterday’s loss; are just asking what the hell happened. Good question.

Meanwhile, in stock car racing… Well, in NASCAR, which pretends to be stock car racing, Stewart Haas Racing decided to give Danica Patrick a chance to maybe win some races now that three of its four cars are no longer eligible for the championship.

One of its drivers, Kurt Bush, is leaving the team next year despite the fact that he has been doing better than anyone else on the team other than Kevin Harvick. He has been in the top ten almost every race and has come very close to winning several races, so SHR decided to swap crews and crew chiefs between him and Danica Patrick. Both cars are basically furnished by the Hendrick organization; same outfit that makes cars for Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson et al.

So Kurt finished eighth yesterday, with the crew and crew chief that Danica used to have, while Danica finished 36th and nine laps down with the crew and crew chief that Kurt used to have. That probably should tell us something, but equally probably will tell SHR nothing as they will continue with their plan to drop Kurt and keep Danica.

Danica was not quite as bad as her finish would seem to indicate. Nearly, but not quite. She was only four laps down when she attempted to knock down the concrete retaining wall in turn four. The attempt was, of course, unsuccessful, and probably did not enhance the performance of her car.

Back to football. For those of you who have Philip Rivers on your Fantasy Football team, I hope you had the foresight to bench that puppy like I did, because he racked up a whopping 0.4 fantasy points yesterday. That’s only four tenths of a point better than a player who is dead.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

And My Point Is Proven

From a comment on Friday's post The Inequality Chorus, "Staying off work for a day is one thing. Staying off for weeks or months and getting fired is another, and many don't want to risk it."

Indeed, we want our higher wages, but not if it involves hard work or risk. We want the government to secure those higher wages for us while we sit back and do nothing.

When steel workers wanted higher wages in 1965 my coworkers and I did not look to someone else. We walked out and barred the gate to shut down the plant. When they sent replacement workers we did not let them in. When they sent armed police we stood up to them. Risk? Indeed so. We risked our jobs, and we risked getting shot. We got higher wages because we made it plain that refusing us would hurt them.

"If you're by yourself, you're screwed. You could do that, make a statement and still do the work. but would that make the difference you want to happen?"

When I was driving a truck the company required drivers to pay our own fines if we were caught overweight at truck scales, despite the fact that we did not load our own trucks. The trucks were loaded by crews in the plant before we arrived to drive them, and all we did was chain down the load, tarp it when required, and leave. The first time I was caught with an overload on one axle I walked into the manager's office, handed him the ticket I had paid and told him, "When you repay me for this ticket I'll tell you where your truck is. If not, you'll eventually find it, but it won't be in one piece."

Yes, that made the difference I wanted to happen. I was far from screwed.
I got my money, they got a different truck driver, and I went to work for a better company. If you allow your employer to walk on you, you get little sympathy from me.