Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Let me finish that for you...

You say, "Let me say it right here, if you voted for Trump-I do think you are a racist, homophobic misogynist." Left unsaid is that the reason you say that is that you believe in democracy, but only when your side wins, because you are intolerant of any beliefs other than your own. Come to think of it, that means you don't believe in democracy at all.

See, I can be nasty, too. I can't hold a candle to you in the nasty department, but I do my best. I am not, after all, a registered Democrat.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

And Now We Know

We have now received an answer to the ineffable question, "Can the Chargers lose to an 0-14 team?"

Well, I guess it's no longer an ineffable question, since I just effed it, so to speak, which makes it an effable question, but in any case the answer is, "Yes indeed, they most certainly can." Sigh.

They found a new way to accomplish that feat, at least. After losing games due to the offense falling in its face, and due to the defense doing a pratfall, and due to the special teams not catching and/or fumbling the ball, this game they lost by missing field goals and/or having them blocked.

Browns 20, Chargers 17. They are not boring, they are merely pitiful.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

More Economic Idiocy

Dean Baker illustrates today why economists should be put into a pickle barrel and stored in a deep basement. He has long argued against the adage that the problem with Obamacare is that, “Not enough young healthy people are signing up for health insurance,” by insisting that older people are healthy too, and that the real problem is that not enough older healthy people are signing up for health insurance.

In today’s piece he claims that, “the age distribution of enrollees has little impact on the cost of the program," notwithstanding his statement in the same piece that, “on average the older enrollees are a net drain on the system.” What?

Not satisfied with making such contradictory statements, he then disproves the first and and proves the second by saying that “people in the oldest age bracket pay premiums that are three times as large as people in the youngest age bracket,” and that, “older enrollees will cost the system about 3.5 times as much as young enrollees.”

Dean Baker does not seem to understand the meaning of the word “average.” Immediately after saying that, “On average, the older enrolllees will cost the system about 3.5 times as much as young enrollees,” he proceeds too insist that, “a large number of people in the older age band are every bit as healthy as people in the youngest age band.”

The latter statement is undoubtedly true, but working against his so-called “logic” is that on average they are not, and averages are what insurance is all about. If you continue to sign up large numbers of older people you will sign up far more unhealthy people than healthy ones.

If, on the other hand, you sign up large numbers of young people you will sign up far more healthy people than unhealthy ones, and that is the point that is being made when people say that, “Not enough young healthy people are signing up for health insurance.”

It would probably make the point more clearly to say that, “Not enough young people, who are predominantly healthy, are signing up for health insurance,” but only someone intent on proving the idiocy inherent in being an economist, like Dean Baker, would argue the point being made by the statement as issued.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Going Down Fighting

For decades, the United States has enjoyed by far the world’s highest standard of living, and have happily lived in the illusion that that could last forever. Reality is being forced upon us now in the form of what “globalization” really means, and we don’t like it. We are living in denial with promises to “bring those jobs back,” but reality is going to win. It always does.

It has always been assumed that when world’s standard of living equalized that it would be because the rest of the world brought their circumstances up to match ours, but since we have been 5% of the world’s population consuming 25% of the world’s resources, that was never possible. Doomsayers who pointed out that that any such equalization would require that our standard of living must decline were reviled and/or ignored.

And so one party promises to “bring those jobs back,” which it cannot do, and the other raises the minimum wage because it has nothing to offer other than an economy based on minimum wage jobs, many of which require a college degree with concomitant educational-incurred debt.

“Going down fighting” is not always an admirable trait. We could make this transition gracefully, but we won’t, because we will never admit that it needs to be made.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Banner Year

After winning the Mountain West Championship for the second consecutive year, the Aztecs went to Las Vegas yesterday as three point underdogs and won by a score of 34-10.

During the game Donnel Pumphrey ran for 115 yards, bringing his career total to 6,405 yards, the most career yards by any running back in the history of college football. Rashaad Penny ran for only 10 yards, but it gave him 1000 yards for the season, and the Aztecs two 1000 runners in one year.

On defense, the Aztecs had four interceptions in the game, giving them 26 for the year. That is the most in college football this year, 5 ahead of Wisconsin, which has 21.

Congratulations to Rocky Long (aka "Captain Sunshine") and all the players of the San Diego State University Aztecs.

Friday, December 16, 2016

WMDs Redux

I watched CNN for a little while today, and a little bit of MSNBC, and the hysteria over purported Russian interference with the election is reaching really quite amazing levels, stoked by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Both are claiming that Putin was personally directing said interference, and Clinton asserts that it is because he has a personal grudge against Hillary Clinton. Those are her words, “…because he has a personal grudge against me.”

We have seen this before. Precisely this same level of hysteria and same type of political messaging, when the intelligence agencies were entirely in agreement that Iraq had WMDs, the same "we are on the same page" that is being presented today. I am watching right now the same tenor and manner of rhetoric, the same declarations of “threat to our democracy,” that I watched in the run up to the Iraq war.

This is leading up to something, and it is getting ugly. Not sure what I think is afoot, but I am beginning to suspect that there might be a serious plan to attempt to prevent Donald Trump from taking office. The anti-Russia rhetoric is getting out of control and I fear that it may instead lead to open hostility, even war, with Russia.

We need some grownups to tone this down, but there are no grownups.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Losing Badly

I thought Republicans, and conservatives generally, behaved quite badly when they lost the election to Obama; promptly vowing not to allow him to implement his agenda as president.

Their response was childlike innocence compared to that of Democrats, and liberals generally, upon losing the election to Trump; in that they are trying to deny him not only his agenda, but the office itself.

I don't recall any Republicans/conservatives saying of Obama after he was elected that, "We're not going to let him be president."

Witness efforts to corrupt the Electoral College by persuading members to violate their duty to vote as voters have directed them to do. Clearly they believe in democracy only when their side wins.

Then there are claims that the FBI corrupted the election by saying that the Democratic nominee was not guilty of any indictable offenses; a rather odd charge and hard to connect with discrediting a candidate. “Not guilty” is bad?

Then there was the recount fiasco. I say fiasco because it never gained any traction, was halted in two states by federal judges, and in the one state where it was completed the Republican gained 137 votes.

Weirdest of all, though is the charge that Russia interfered with the election; a charge that is backed only by unsubstantiated charges from unnamed “intelligence officials.” There is no proof offered because there is none to be had, but Obama is going to the length of vowing action against Russia for doing god knows what based on evidence that no one can produce.

Notice that not one single Democratic spokesman has denied the truthfulness of allegations made in the “hacked” (actually “leaked”) material, so they are not claiming that Russia interfered in our election by spreading lies, but rather that Russia interfered in our election by spreading the truth; truth that the Democrats did want to be known by the public.

Russia has not yet said how they feel about the United States punishing them for telling the truth about our politicians, an act which must be especially galling since there is no evidence offered that they actually did it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Media Continues to Fail

CBS Evening News runs daily segments on the horrors of Aleppo, where the “Russian-backed” Syrian regime (or Syrian dictatorship) is slaughtering civilians in the process of liberating that city from US-backed rebels.

Sorry, I misspoke. They don’t say “US-backed rebels,” in fact they don’t say “rebels” at all. They say, “after five years of bloody civil war.”

They don’t offer any proof, of course, because there isn’t any. They show civilians calmly walking out of Aleppo, although many are understandably weeping as they exit a war zone, and tell us that these are the few civilians that didn’t get slaughtered by the Syrian Army.

They do not provide any reports of the ongoing devastation in Yemen, where the attacking forces are Saudi and are backed by the United States, nor do they report from Mosul, a city being liberated from ISIS by Iraqi forces also backed by the United States.

Presumably no such reporting is required because no civilians are being killed in these major assaults, notwithstanding that the Saudis are bombing cities in Yemen, and Mosul is a Sunni city being liberated by a Shiite army. Nothing to see here, move along.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


There was a thing on Facebook where a father really needed to chastise his kids for getting into the paint cans and making a mess of themselves, but could not stop laughing long enough to do so. Took me back to my teenage years when I did that to my father more than once.

I developed a fascination with making depth charges. This consisted of a classic pipe bomb using homemade black powder, a large paint can mostly filled with sand, and some dynamite fuse which burns even when there is no air. Put the pipe bomb in the paint can, fill it with sand, light the fuse, hammer the lid on and drop it into some deep water. The results are awesome, but don’t try this at home. It’s illegal today, and probably was then.

My first test was in a new garbage can my father had just bought, filled with water. Not, it turns out, one of my better plans because I had no innocent way to explain the thirty-gallon colander that was lying in the alley when the local cop showed up. He didn’t do anything Well he did the worst thing possible. He said he would come back after my Dad got home. Shit.

The cop showed up and related his story, and I related about how I had seen this movie with the Navy dropping depth charges and wanted to replicate the effect, and Dad started getting all outraged and parental, but then he started laughing. Then the cop started laughing. They finally gave up any attempt at keeping a straight face; the cop left, Dad sent me to my room and told me the next day that I had to buy him a new garbage can.

He forgot to tell me not to build any more depth charges. Or maybe he told me and I forgot. It was a long time ago, and I may have had a habit of not always doing what I was told.

I built four depth charges, big ones, and took them down to the river. Standing in the middle of the bridge, I lit them one by one and dropped them in the river, then waited for the explosions. The first one went off just as the local cop, same cop, was driving over the bridge, and the geyser of water was a good ten feet higher than the bridge railing.

Thinking fast, I ran to the cop, freaking out and screaming that there had been an explosion and pointing at where the water had shot up and saying that he should do something because, “Oh my God.” He did not believe one single word; got out of his car, leaned his butt against the fender, folded his arms and gave me the stink eye.

I continued my Sergeant Shultz protest of “I know nothing” and kept insisting that he investigate until the second depth charge went off. I then did a little dance about, “Oh my God there’s another one. Do something, do something,” which he still wasn’t buying. He knew me too well; but still, I had been standing right beside him when it went off.

We walked to the bridge railing and were looking down at the water when the third one went off. It was quite spectacular, and we had to step back to keep from getting wet. By now he is actually beginning to believe me until he says something about that being all of them and without thinking I said, “No, there’s one more.” Shit.

The sumbitch actually hand cuffed me. He later admitted that he only did it because he was so pissed off at me for making him believe my “innocent” act, like he was the only one who ever fell for it. Everybody fell for it.

He didn’t take me to jail, though, he took me home where Mother sent me to my room and told me to stay there until my father got home. That was routine enough, but when Dad got home he didn’t come to my room or call me to the living room. Hmmm. Then the cop showed up, and after a few minutes he and Dad went out and sat in the cop’s car for quite a while. That was making me nervous.

Finally the cop left and Dad came back in and, after another considerable delay, called me in and announced my punishment. I don’t recall what it was, but it wasn’t anything very severe, and I found out much later that the delay had been to allow the laughter to subside. That did, however, bring an end to the depth bombing adventure.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sort of Wierd

I've been keeping photos which I display on the blog on the server which hosted my website. So I decide to establish a "Google Photo" account for that purpose, and explore how to put pictures on the blog from that account. It turns out I have to select pictures not "From Google Album Archive," as one might expect, but "From your phone." My phone is about the only electronic thing I have that is not connected to Google. Odd.

I know I can simply upload from my computer to the blog, but then they are stored in some arcane place in hyperspace and I can't do anything else with them. It's beginning to look like the same applies to Google Photos, though, so I'm not sure where to go from here.

Friday, December 09, 2016

"It's a Scam!"

The left is finding out, to its dismay, that presidential politics is a scam. Naomi Prins writes yesterday at Tom Dispatch that, “Only a month has passed since November 8th, but it’s already clear (not that it wasn’t before) that Trump’s anti-establishment campaign rhetoric was the biggest scam of his career,” because he is naming members of the wealthy elite “to various key posts in his future administration.”

Why she is shocked about this escapes me, but members of the left are delicate flowers who are easily shocked when they want to be, and who can remain oblivious to identical earthquakes which happen on their own territory. Ms. Prins seemed unfazed when Barack Obama campaigned for tens of months on the fundamental theme of “changing Washington,” and then chose virtually all of Bill Clinton’s administration to serve as his own, including a Wall Street billionaire for Treasury.

I will give Ms. Prins credit for not claiming that Donald Trump’s anti-establishment scam was the “biggest of all time,” in that she had the good sense not to compare this scam to anyone else’s anti-establishment scam.

Sort of like Casablanca. "I am shocked to find that gambling is going on."

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Baker on Productivity

Dean Baker authored a piece Monday which centered around the economist’s perception of the effect of productivity on the standard of living which is enjoyed by the working class, namely that increased productivity leads to “improvements in living standards and more leisure.”

One needs to understand that increased productivity means that more work is achieved by fewer hours of labor, meaning less employment, so I can understand the “more leisure” part, but I don’t quite understand how they think that’s a good thing.

I also don't understand how they think it leads to a higher standard of living for the working class, given that it means fewer working hours and less pay. It does, of course, lead to better living standards for business owners, since more work performed for less wages paid means higher profits.

The claim is often made that “increased productivity leads to higher wages,” but the claim is nonsensical. An employer makes an investment in automation so that he can employ fewer workers to produce the same amount, and then he diminishes the effect of that investment by raising the wages of the remaining employees? I don’t think so, unless he is provided with an incentive to do so.

Organized labor provides such an incentive, requiring the employer to raise wages as a trade off for employees accepting the introduction of the automation. It should be noted, though, that is not increased productivity which led to the increase in wages, it is collective bargaining by organized labor which did so. In the absence of organization on the part of workers, increased productivity is a negative for the work force.

Baker concludes his piece by saying that “if Lee is right and higher wages are leading to more rapid productivity growth, this is great news.” Great news for macroeconomic figures, perhaps but, since the productivity increase is caused by fewer jobs, certainly not great news for working men and women.

Baker countered my comment along the above lines by saying that, “we had very rapid automation in the quarter century from 1947 to 1973. It was associated with low unemployment and rapid wage growth.” When I pointed out, “we were rebuilding a world shattered by war and we had no competition,” his response was that, “having richer more productive economies as customers and sources of goods should make us richer.”

Sigh. “Richer more productive economies” are not customers, they are competitors. We do not sell to them, we buy from them, which impoverishes us, and they sell to what used to be our customers. That's why we no longer have “low unemployment and rapid wage growth” as we did in Baker’s favorite quarter century.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Let's Change The Rules

So, okay, we played a football game Sunday. The other team kicked three field goals and my team lost by four points. So I say, "Wait a minute. If field goals only counted for one point, then my opponent would have scored six fewer points and my team would have won. It isn't fair. We should change the rules so that field goals only count one point."

We cannot, however, leave aside that if field goals only counted one point my opponent would not have kicked field goals, but would have gone for it on fourth down, made it two out of three times and scored two touchdowns, winning the game anyway.

You play the game under the rules that are in place, and the rules that were in place for this election were the electoral college. The candidates campaigned based on those rules and voters voted based on those rules. The popular vote cannot be considered dispositive when neither candidate campaigned in California, for instance, because the state was assured for the Democratic candidate, and when countless California Republicans did not bother to vote because they knew that their vote was utterly meaningless due to the electoral college process.

In an election that would be determined by the popular vote, both candidates would have campaigned in California, and far more California Republicans would have voted, and that's just one state. The Democrats need to accept their loss and move on.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Paul Krugman is Bitter

I said some time ago that Democrats are remarkably poor losers, and in his blog post Tuesday Paul Krugman provides a sterling example of my point.

He talking about the Carrier jobs that Trump prevented from being moved to Canada, and starts out by saying 75,000 workers lose their jobs every day and Trump only saved 800 jobs so we should not bother reporting on saving them because it's trivial, nothing more than a "rounding error" on the national jobs picture. I doubt those 800 people and their families feel the same way. Anyway, he then reveals that he's saying that the media should not report on saving those 800 jobs because it was Donald Trump that did it, not Hillary Clinton.

He goes on to say that not only was it trivial, it actually was not a good thing. It was really something called "crony capitalism," which is a bad thing. Well, it's a bad thing when a Republican does it. Receiving $250,000 for a ten-minute speech is also crony capitalism, but it's okay when a Democrat does it.

He is filled with dread that we are going to be having to read news stories about Donald Trump for the next four years because of "a descent into banana republic governance." Or maybe for the same reason that we read Barack Obama stories for eight years.

It's a really nasty piece, and richly illustrates precisely what's wrong with the Democratic Party.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

That Didn't Take Long

The Democrats just reelected Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader, proving after less than one month that they learned nothing whatever from an election in which they lost the White House and both houses of Congress. Stupidity and arrogance reign supreme.


In the show Madam Secretary the other night a father is speaking with his son about the son’s political position. He asks about the outcomes and implications, questions for which the kid has no answers and then tells his son that, “Your political knowledge is a mile wide and in inch deep, and that makes you a dilettante. Until you study enough to know what you are talking about you need to keep silent.”

I thought of that phrase when watching on the news of the “march of a $15 minimum wage” last night. A bunch of dilettantes, blocking traffic for one midweek evening. Where is any real commitment?

If you don’t want to work for $9 per hour then don’t work for $9 per hour. Walk off of the job and stay off until they offer a better wage. Do you think they are impressed or intimidated by you blocking traffic on Tuesday evening and then on Wednesday you are right back there still working for $9 per hour? They’re not. While you were out there on the street freezing your ass off, they were at home ignoring you.

Oh, I get it, you weren’t targeting employers, you were targeting politicians because you want them to pass a law. You don’t want to exercise your own power and take care of yourself, you want someone else to do it for you while you take no risks and endure no hardship.

Well, as a former union member I’m certainly not impressed by that. I froze my ass off on a picket line for weeks at a time. I stood up to law officers with guns and riot clubs. I did not ask for someone else to do it for me, my brothers and I exercised our own power, and we earned what we got.

We were grownups. We knew that once we left the shelter of Mommy’s apron there was going to be no one there to keep us from falling down and skinning our knees. We knew that people were going to talk to us in ways that we didn’t like; that Mommy was the last “safe space” that we would ever know and that she wasn’t hovering over us any more.

We knew that if we wanted anything better than what we had, that we had to earn it with hard work, retries after disappointment, sweat, tears and sometimes blood, and we did what needed to be done. We didn’t go block traffic on one midweek evening and demand that someone else pass a law giving it to us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Phootball Phun

Some fun football this weekend. Local sports writers are swooning over the "renewed playoff chances" of the Chargers, now at 5-6. With Tampa Bay, Oakland, Carolina and Kansas City yet to play a 10-6 record seems unlikely in the extreme, but hope springs eternal in the hearts of fools. Even a predicting a wild card spot is pretty silly, given that Denver is currently at 6-3 and unlikely to secure a wild card.

The Chargers won Sunday in no small part because Houston was so incredibly stupid as to pay $72 million for a quarterback who could not hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle. Osweiler playing for Houston is more evidence of John Elway's brilliance.

The Raiders are incredibly fun to watch. I'm not sure they are quite as good as their 9-2 record, but they are more fun than anyone. They have a lot of energy and a great deal of talent. Opponents are doubling up on Amari Cooper, which is letting Michael Crabtree have a lot of fun. They get Richardson tuned up running the ball, and... How do you solve that? I think they are the real deal.

The Chiefs/Broncos game was a lot of fun even though Al Michaels was replaced by Mike Tirico, who is an idiot. He used to be one of the babblers on ESPN, so what can you expect? Everyone who works for that abysmal network either is desperate to work somewhere else or is brain dead. Tirico is apparently both of the above, since he is now with NBC. He kept referring to this game as a "classic defensive struggle," even after 54 points had been scored.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance

Donald Trump was harshly castigated for suggesting that he might not accept the result of the election. Now it is Clinton supporters, and Clinton herself, who are demanding recounts and investigations into Russian tampering, and trying to persuade the electoral collegiate to vote contrary to its mandate.

Same old, same old; it's okay when I do it, but not okay when you do it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Wishes

New thing to be thankful for this year, we have discovered putting eggnog in our morning coffee. Well, blush, I did and the wife signed on. I normally drink my coffee black, but this is a nice change of pace.

Wishing a peaceful holiday. Hope all are in good health and thriving.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

And The Losers Cry "Foul"

The losing side wants to spoil the party,
“No one goes. No athletes. No championship teams. No performers. No musicians. No celebrities. ALL invitations are rejected. No White House Correspondents Dinners. No Inauguration Balls. No State dinners. No singing Christmas carols with the Trump kids. Nothing. Full boycott. No exceptions. Donald Trump does not get to enjoy the perks of this job. Period."

Five-year-olds stamping their feet and declaiming, “If you won’t play my way I’m going to pick up my toys and go home.”

“For the rest of us: we don’t support anyone or any company that enabled Trump. Like those NBA teams, we boycott all Trump businesses. We turn off CNN. We don’t buy Ivanka’s bracelets.”

The NBA teams in question were boycotting apartheid. Liberals denounced the idea that all Muslims are bad because a few Muslims did bad things, but they embrace the idea that supporters of Trump are a monolithic block, all of whom supported him for his misogyny and because he wants to deport Muslims.

They do not accept that anyone might support him in spite of those rather than because of them, just as they supported Clinton despite her Wall Street speeches and her evasions of the email server issue. For the record, I supported neither candidate; for policy reasons, not because of the childish ad hominem attacks each was throwing at the other.

And, as losers tend to do, Liberals are crying “foul,”
“In a democratic government, all votes should be equal, thus the first step towards making an undemocratic government is to divide the people, so that the vast majority of them do not really have an effective vote. The majority of people in the United States are like this – so much so, that it is part of the primer on presidential elections.”

(Etcetera, most of it gibberish.) The losing side always claims the election was fraudulent and/or that the system doesn’t work. The Republicans made such claims in 2008 and 2012, and Democrats are making it now as they did in 2000. The loser walks away from the poker table accusing the winner of cheating. It was always thus.

Liberals, actually, are not tolerant of ideas that differ from their own, and we are learning this year that they are extraordinarily ungracious losers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Small Things

Yesterday I was channel surfing and happened across the end of a high school girls volleyball game. The screen said “Championship point,” so I paused to see what would happen. It went back to a tie, went back and forth several times, and finally there was a winning team.

The winning team was all excited, of course; jumped into a pile and then hugged each other and high-fived. The camera moved to the losing team. Surprise. No tears, they were all smiling and congratulating each other on a game well played. They may not have won the championship, but they looked like winners to me.

Little thing. Means nothing, really. But things like that make me feel good.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Phantasy Phootball

I am now better than the Chargers! I realize that's a low bar, but I'll take what I can get. After a three game winning streak, I'm back to .500 and am in a four-way tie for seventh place in a twelve-team league.

It doesn't take much to excite me these days.

Monday, November 14, 2016

They're Called Elections

As these protests continue, as calls are made for the electoral college to refuse their mandate and elect Clinton, I just don’t get it. These people are not claiming that the election was fraudulent. They are not claiming any kind of 2000 deal, where the court prevented votes from being counted. They simply want the election overturned because they lost. What do they think an election is?

Sure, they didn’t want Trump to win. Neither did I, and I didn’t vote for him. A lot of these protestors, apparently, were sitting in their “safe spaces,” reading the polls and planning the coronation, but this was an election, not a coronation.

Maybe, instead of simply calling their opponents “stupid, evil” and “ignorant,” they should have emerged from their little “safe spaces” and tried to use reason to bring their opponents over to their point of view. How many people will you persuade to vote with you by calling them “deplorable?” Calling names feels good, but it doesn’t grow your ranks.

No one ever told me why I should vote for Hillary Clinton, other than that she was less evil than Trump, or that I would make history by “breaking the glass ceiling.” Mostly I was simply called vile names for saying that I did not intend to do so.

They brought this on themselves by their insularity, and their unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussion, and now they are just flailing to avoid blaming themselves for it.

Friday, November 11, 2016


Thursday, November 10th, 12:00 noon, Temperature 96 degrees in Mission Valley. Yes, November. Today was a cold wave; only 90 degrees at noon.

The Popular Vote

Clinton supporters are making much of the fact that "she won the popular vote." Let's put that into proportion.

In the nation as a whole she received 395,595 more votes than her opponent, out of 120.5 million cast, which amounts to a 0.3% margin. Significantly less than half of one percent.

She received a winning margin of 2,568,841 in California, a state in which a dead Democrat was once elected as mayor.

In the nation as a whole, then, excluding California, she lost the popular vote by 2,173,246 votes of 111.9 million cast, for a 1.9% margin.

I am unimpressed with the "she won the popular vote" argument.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Protesting Democracy?

Thousands are marching in protest against the election of Donald Trump? What, did they not think this was not a real election? They like democracy, but only when their point of view prevails? That's not democracy. Totalitarian nations run elections where only one name is on the ballot; democracies don't do that.

A numbers of colleges are allowing students to skip classes and are cancelling or rescheduling exams to allow students to recover from the "emotional trauma" of the election. I guess retiring to their "safe spaces" didn't get the job done. I have seen these students referred to as "emotional hemophiliacs," which seems fairly apt. They, too, are able to be okay only when their side wins. They've been getting "participation trophies" all their lives and are finding out that real life isn't that easy. They can't handle it, and it's only going to get worse for them.

Both sides had horrible candidates, and they knew it. They Republican Party tried to repudiate their horrible candidate. The Democratic Party embraced their horrible candidate. Both parties deserved to lose, but only one did.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

On Democracy

President Obama said it very well. “We are all on the same side. This was an intramural scrimmage. In the end, we are all on the same team.”

Democracy is hard. It is not for the faint hearted. People who live in authoritarian states have their decisions made for them. In democracy we have to make our own decisions, and then we have to live with them. It’s not for the candy assed, but it’s what makes a nation great.

This nation has made some good decisions and it has made some bad ones. Only time will tell which kind this one is. The nation has not only survived all of its decisions, it has thrived almost continuously throughout all of them. I have no doubt that will continue.


The Democratic establishment rigged the primary election to assure Hillary Clinton as their nominee, to deny that nomination to Bernie Sanders, and they got this.

And in a final touch fully illustrating who she is, she sent John Podesta, her campaign manager, to her party site to tell her faithful to go home; to tell them the lie that it was not over, and that votes were still being counted. Ten minutes later she called Donald Trump and conceded the election, and left without speaking to her faithful supporters who had waited for her for upward of twelve hours. No formal concession speech (update: until a pretty good one the next day), no public thank you to her people.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Stadium Proposal

When a woman goes through life getting a sugar daddy to pay her expenses for her we call her a gold digger. When a man does similarly, letting a woman pay his way, we call him a gigolo. In either case we say that the person in question is morally bankrupt.

When a city, however, wants to have a football stadium and finds a way to make someone else, visitors in the case of Measure C, pay the cost of it we applaud the brilliance of that thinking and say, “Oh good for you.”

A city that wants to have that which it is unwilling to pay for is a society which is as morally bankrupt as any gold digger or gigolo.

Unfortunately, this measure is symptomatic of the nature of today’s society in general. We want what we want but, unwilling to pay what it costs to have it, we insist on having it anyway. Make someone else pay for it, or just add it to the nation's inexhaustible "credit card."

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Election? What Election?

For the zillionth time, we have a headline reading, “US air strike kills top Al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan,” or Iraq, or Yemen, or Somalia, or Syria, or... The article refers to it as a “precision air strike,” but since the bombs that are dropped with such precision destroy several city blocks, I doubt that people living anywhere near the targets would agree with that description.

I’m trying to decide whether our leadership is continuing to follow this policy simply because they cannot think of anything else to do, or because they think it is working. Either one is pretty frightening, implying as it does that we are led by people who are either stupid or insane, perhaps both. Given, however, that they are also accusing the Russians of tampering with our elections one has to lean toward “both.”

When Obama took office we were doing these air strikes, some of them by drone, in two countries. Now we are conducting these strikes, killing the “terrorist leadership,” in no fewer than eight countries.

How can any reasonable, sane person claim that spreading the devastation of death and destruction fourfold is a success decreasing the impact of terrorism in the world? And yet both of this year’s candidates promise us, in the brief pauses from calling each other whoremonger and crook, that they will not only continue this policy, they will redouble it.

Russia isn’t screwing up our election, we’re doing that all by ourselves.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Health Care Costs

Opponents of Obamacare are outraged because people on the exchanges are going to see premium increases of 25% this year. I would respond by saying that people on the exchanges should consider themselves fortunate.

Our employer-provided health insurance premium is increasing 35% this year. With the addition of copay and deductible increases, our overall increase in health care costs will be about 42% in the coming year, assuming that the amount of health care that we require remains constant.

And before you blame the employer, the percentage paid by the employer this year is the same as it was last year. These increases are from the insurance company.

Fantasy Football

With a win this weekend, I am no longer tied for the league's worst record; I am tied for the league's second worst record and with the San Diego Chargers at 3-5. There is only one team in my league which has earned fewer points than I have, and only one team that has more points scored against them. I am beginning to think that I really suck at fantasy football.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dean Baker is an Idiot Squared

I have frequently seen concerns about rising interest rates brushed aside with a casual argument that we “can always buy back debt at a discount” if that happens. Each time I have asked the speaker what that means I have either received a dumb look or been told that if they have to explain it to me that I will not understand the explanation.

Well, Dean Baker explained it three years ago. I suspected that it was going to be frustrating and entertaining when I saw the words “Financial Engineering” in the title, because those words never bode well. It exceeded my expectations.

“An overlooked possibility for reducing a high debt burden,” he says, “is simply buying back bonds at a discount when interest rates rise, as is widely predicted.”

“Long-term bonds that are issued at low interest rates,” he continues, “will sell at substantial discounts to their face value if market interest rates rise. Looking at publicly held marketable debt issued as of the end of February 2013, the face value of the debt is $3,857 billion. The projected market value of this debt is $3,399 billion for an implied debt reduction of $458 billion, or just under 2.3 percent of the GDP projected for 2017.”

He concludes, “The interest burden on the Treasury will not change through these transactions. The only effect will be to lower the official value of outstanding debt. However if people in policy positions continue to attach importance to this number then this sort of debt exchange should rank high on the list of policy options. There is no less costly way to eliminate close to half a trillion dollars in debt.”

The term “buying back debt at a discount” sounded to me like a self-licking ice cream cone (as in, “With what funds are you going to buy that debt?”), but it turns out to be a self-licking ice cream cone with no cone and very little ice cream.

A quick lesson on what a bond is. It is a “note” of money borrowed and has a nominal face value. It has a market value which may be higher or lower than the face value, depending on how badly someone wants to buy or sell it. It pays interest, usually quarterly, at a fixed interest rate which was determined at the time it was created.

So, let’s start with the basic principle of “buying back bonds at a discount when interest rates rise.” Since the government does not have a lot of cash laying around, the money to buy those bonds is going to come from Wait for it From selling more bonds. So how does selling high-interest bonds in order to buy and retire low-interest bonds improve your financial position?

Well, it might, if you bought the low-interest bonds cheaply enough to offset the higher interest that you will pay on the new, higher-interest bonds that you sold in order to buy them. You would have to buy them really, really cheaply, and the 12% discount that Baker cites later on is nowhere nearly enough to do that.

And if you tried to buy them cheaply enough to offset the difference in interest you would not have much luck, because that would be a bad deal for the holder of the bonds and he would just keep them until you offered him a better price. People who buy and hold bonds are not as stupid as economists are.

The net result though, in any case, is that you might have a lower debt burden, but you will be paying a higher interest rate on it. You probably, almost certainly, will not come out ahead of the game any more than the inventor of a perpetual motion machine will succeed.

He says that the “as of the end of February 2013, the face value of the debt is $3,857 billion,” but he’s more than a little off, there. According to the government, as of 9/30/2012, the debt was $16,066 billion, so he’s off by $12,209 billion, plus whatever growth the debt experienced in Oct 2012 through Feb 2013. Okay, I’m nitpicking, but this is not a minor inaccuracy.

“The projected market value of this debt,” he says, ”is $3,399 billion for an implied debt reduction of $458 billion And my projected blood pressure for 2017 is about 350/220 if I keep reading what people pull out of their asses and label as “projections.”

or," he continues, “just under 2.3 percent of the GDP projected for 2017,” as if that percentage would mean anything even if it was a real number and not just one that he pulled out of his ass.

He then says that, “The interest burden on the Treasury will not change through these transactions,” proving that he is not even living on this planet. The whole reason for this exercise in “financial engineering” is that interest rates have risen, and we just sold $3.4 trillion in new bonds at a higher quarterly interest payment in order to do it. How can that possibly make “no change on the interest burden?”

He finishes with a smug statement that, “There is no less costly way to eliminate close to half a trillion dollars in debt,” as if reducing the debt by 2.5% was some kind of major achievement.

Polling Has Spoken

We are slightly less than two weeks away from election day, and Donald Trump has lost the election. There is no longer any suspense, the polls and the media have confirmed that Clinton is our next president and there is no point in the rest of us wasting our time voting. Sick.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

They Still Have The Browns

Sports media is making much about Cleveland shedding the "loser image," first with the Cavaliers and now with the Indians. They assume, I guess, that the baseball team will win the World Series, but the Cubbies might throw a monkey wrench into that assumption. And Cleveland will always have the Browns, an NFL team which currently has an 0-7 record.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Paul Krugman is an Idiot

Paul Krugman has a column yesterday in which he once more assures us that we should not worry about the debt. Eat, drink and be happy because big debt is good and bigger debt is even better.

To bolster this he shows a nice chart about the ratios of debt of GDP as calculated back in ancient history when economists were stupid and ignorant and now, six years later, when the wisdom of Solomon has descended upon them from God knows where.

There are several things wrong with his chart. The first is that the ratio of debt to GDP is an utterly meaningless figure that economists began using instead of the ratio of debt to federal revenue when the latter, which does have some meaning, became so high as to freak out the public. The current ratio of debt to federal revenue is 585% which would send the average taxpayer into heart failure, while the ratio of debt to GDP is 105%.

It also doesn’t occur to him to question why the projection has changed or to wonder if it might change again. Is he certain that we will not have another recession between now and 2046, or that Congress might mess around with federal revenues?

Nor does he seem to question the validity of his own chart, but perhaps he should. The current debt is $19.3 trillion, while the GDP is $18.4 trillion, giving me the 105% that I cited earlier. But if you look at his chart, it shows the ratio at somewhere near 75% from 2013 until at least 2022. If they can’t get the current numbers right, I don’t have a lot of confidence in their future projections.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Let's Not Party

There is a proposal on next month’s ballot to build a “convadium,” which isn’t even a thing, for the Chargers to play football in and comic book fans to hold conventions in. Hopefully, these events will not happen at the same time, but that points out one of many weaknesses of having a convention center that doubles as a football stadium.

Fifty thousand cars converging on downtown San Diego at one time on a single freeway is another.

The paper today had a breakdown of a poll regarding voting on this issue, and one thing struck me as possibly noteworthy. Of Republicans, 38% intend to vote against this idiocy, while among Democrats 37% intend to do so; not a big difference. The big difference is that among Independents, 53% intend to vote against alienating tourists in order to build a half-assed convention center for a half-assed football team.

Unlike both Democrats and Republicans, Independents seem to think that maybe a football team doesn’t need a convention center, which suggests to me that political parties make you stupid.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Short Takes

A drunken driver driving at high speed breaks through the railing on the Coronado Bridge and kills four people in the park below. A clamor is immediately raised to make the bridge more safe.

People. That bridge did not kill anyone. Some jackass got drunk and decided to drive like a maniac. We are killing each other and demanding that the government prevent us from the consequences of our own actions. How about directing your anger at drunk drivers that kill 38,000 people every year, one third of all traffic deaths, rather than at one bridge?

The latest ad against Proposition 61, requiring drug companies to sell to Medical at the same rates that they sell to the Veterans Administration, is a real doozy. They claim it only applies to 12% of the population (people receiving Medical) and "only helps a few people, like state workers and prisoners," because only DMV employees and prisoners get their prescription medication from Medical.

Actually, the measure doesn't benefit the recipients of Medical ("state workers and prisoners"), because they are not paying for those drugs. Medical is paying for those drugs and the money comes from taxpayers, so Prop 61 actually benefits everyone who is a taxpayer in California, and that's closer to 100% than it is 12%.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

The New York Times informed us yesterday the the federal deficit in the current fiscal year ending last month rose to $587 billion. You can go to a nice government website which shows colorful charts illustrating this deficit and confirming the story told to us by the Times.

I’m always a little suspicious when I see something this elaborately stage managed, not to mention that I saw the word “budget” in that report, so let’s dig a little deeper.

It took a while, and this government website is nowhere as pretty, but the Treasury Department does publish a monthly statement of the total debt outstanding owed by the federal government. Guess what, it doesn’t verify the $587 billion deficit. It doesn’t contain the word “budget” either. The amounts are in trillions.

lego mania
So it would appear that the deficit was closer to $1.5 trillion than it was to the $.5 trillion that the Times is telling us about. Where did the other $835 billion go?

Is it the difference between the budget and actual spending? Perhaps so, but to some degree it is the result of a distortion caused by lumping Social Security revenue into the general revenue stream. That money is paid into a trust fund, not into the government’s coffers, and the government borrows from the trust fund, borrowing which is largely concealed in the reporting by the ploy of including non-government funds into government revenue reporting.

This is just one of many ways in which our government lies to us.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Idiocy of Economics

Dean Baker produced a response today to a column in Bloomberg News in which he says it is “almost impossible to exaggerate how absurd” the premise of the column is. He then proceeds to illustrate that the columnist cannot hold a candle to an economist when it comes to being absurd.

First, he says that “it only takes the debt side of the ledger,” which is something that “no business would ever engage in.” This after spending years pointing out repeatedly that the government is not a business in that governments do not repay debt, but we’ll let that one slide.

Then he points out that “Microsoft has much more debt than the restaurant down my street,” and suggests that Bloomberg should be “highlighting Microsoft's massive debt.” All of that is, of course, irrelevant to the column’s argument about the increasing size of government debt. In any case, if you look up Microsoft’s balance sheet, it has a rather small debt, 32% of its assets and only 75% of its annual revenue.

He than explains that Bloomberg’s business reporters would “report on Microsoft's debt in relation to its assets and its debt service in relation to its revenue or profits,” and that if they reported on the government debt in this fashion, “it would be pretty obvious and totally non-scary that our per capita debt rises through time.” Actually, that’s precisely what the column said and was, in fact, the whole point of the column. Baker may consider that “totally non-scary,” but not everybody agrees with him.

Besides which, it’s not clear to me how reporting the government debt “in relation to its assets and its debt service in relation to its revenue or profits” would make it in any way obvious that government debt is increasing over time, or especially why it would make that fact “totally non-scary.” For one thing, how does one determine the assets of the federal government?

The big lie, though, is the part where he advocates reporting of government “debt service in relation to its revenue or profits,” and then says that if they did so then “it would be reported on the ratio of debt service to GDP,” which he cites as being 0.8% currently. That is an utterly false picture, because the Gross Domestic Product is an order of magnitude larger than federal revenue. The government does not have access to the money represented by the GDP, it only has access to the money that is paid into its coffers by taxes and other sources.

Federal revenue this past year is $3.3 trillion, but of that $1.1 trillion is social services taxes which are paid directly into a trust fund for Social Security and medical care. The general fund revenue is $2.2 trillion, then, of which $432.7 billion was paid to service the debt, i.e. interest charges, which amounts to 19.7% of revenue. That is not the trivial amount that Dean Baker wants us to believe it is.

There is a very large difference between the reality of “19.7% of federal revenue” which Dean Baker says Bloomberg should be reporting and the meaningless “0.8% of GDP” which he cites instead.

He then declaims the “absurdity that in the Bloomberg Halloween debt story our children would be better off if we eliminated public schools and funding for their education altogether,” which apparently came entirely from his feverish imagination, because it certainly is not contained in the Bloomberg column. He then claims they say that it “would be even better off if we stopped spending to maintain and improve infrastructure,” despite the fact that the column doesn’t say that and apparently unaware that we’ve already stopped such spending decades ago.

He finishes up with a tirade on patents, which is a pet peeve of his, but is pretty much irrelevant to government debt. Sort of like writing about a football game and complaining about a baseball rule. He considers patents as a government plot to permit corporate graft and overpricing and thinks patents and copyrights should be outlawed. Authors and inventors may disagree.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Consensus Prediction

I have been reading, and watching, the local sports media too much, resulting in a brainwashed prediction of a Chargers win tonight by a score of 24-0. The reason that the Broncos will be scoreless is that every time their quarterback attempts to throw a pass Joey Bosa will sack him. San Diego will miss eighteen field goals, be successful on one, and Rivers will throw three touchdown passes.


lego maniaReturning home after running some errands, I walked into the room where Molly was hanging out. I had not begun petting her, had not yet even spoken to her, and she was already purring audibly. Merely at the sight of me. That's why one houses a cat.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Limited Reading

I ditched places like Salon and Democratic Underground a couple of months ago. Now I'm having to abandon even Facebook in order to avoid being inundated with the personal shortcomings of Donald Trump. It's not that I support the guy, I don't, but I'm not a chimpanzee and I don't participate in feces flinging contests.

Delusion Abounds

Just to illustrate how delusional the San Diego sports writers are, Nick Canepa is claiming today that head coach Mike McCoy should not be fired, at least not until the end of the season. As evidence of this theory he cites another sunken ship, "McCoy is the captain. When the Exxon Valdez crashed into Bligh Reef, people didn’t blame the reef."

No, Nick, they blamed the captain, and they didn't wait until he crashed into a dozen more reefs before they fired him.

Update: No, Canepa does not have a valid point regarding injuries. The Chargers lost their best receiver to a season-ending injury. So they are going to lose a whole bunch of games because the team doesn't have any other receivers? Those other guys are no-talent window dressing that were added just as a formality to fill out the roster? They didn't expect them to, you know, actually catch any passes? I guess we only had one linebacker as well, right?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Well, It Was Creative

We did all the traditional things, yes -- fumbles and interceptions, two of each. The sixteen-yard punt from our own ten yard line was pretty creative, but we did that before in game one.

Lining up for a game-tying field goal at the opponent’s twenty and having the holder fumble the snap from center – well, you have to admit that adds a nice note of novelty.

Raiders 34, Chargers 31. Chargers season: 1-4

One has to think we saw 20,000 or so votes in favor of the new stadium disappear yesterday, which should kill the subject permanently because the deal made with the NFL was that if we did not build a new stadium the Chargers had just one year to move in with the Rams in Los Angeles.

This past week, however, Hizzonor the mayor made some deals with the Chargers which allowed him to support the measure to build the stadium. They are not being incorporated in the measure, are only “verbal assurances,” but Hizzonor says they can be worked into whatever stadium deal is proposed next year.

He doesn’t seem to recognize that he is a) acknowledging that he knows this “convadium” deal is going to fail notwithstanding his support of it and b) admitting that he knows that the Chargers and the NFL were lying when they said the Chargers would move to Los Angeles in 2017 if we didn’t build them a stadium this year.

Politics as usual. Here, Sacramento and Washington.

Update, Monday, 4:30pm: A poll taken this afternoon has support for the "convadium" at 36%. That's down from 41% last week.

Friday, October 07, 2016

More on Proposition 64

A couple of excellent points were raised in comments on my discussion regarding Proposition 64.

Based on the title of the book she referenced, I think that Barbara was suggesting that the “War on Drugs” is worse than drugs themselves, and I have little doubt that such is the case. I suspect that the “War on Drugs” has caused infinitely more suffering and death than has drug abuse, and certainly we are doing this wrong.

I don’t have the answer, and I suspect that solution lies much closer to the legalization end of the spectrum than it does to where we are now. I think my argument yesterday was more that we need to know how to assess “responsible use” more than than it was taking a position in opposition to legalizing it.

And I'm talking about the users themselves, actually, as well as the law. It's by no means uncommon for people impaired by alcohol to insist that they are not impaired, and that phenomenon is much more pervasive in users of marijuana. We need a way to measure that impairment in order to help establish a subjective standard for users of the substance to measure themselves against.

Bruce also raises the problem of “citizen measures,” and many official ones, which are poorly worded, sometimes deliberately so. It’s not unusual to have measures so deceptively worded that a liberal position requires a “no” vote while appearing to require an affirmative one. The whole “citizen’s initiative” process in California is badly broken.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Proposition 64

Proposition 64 would legalize marijuana for recreational use for persons over 21 years of age in California. Our Attorney General warns against the crime wave that revolves around the weed, but the idiot fails to recognize that said crime wave is the result of the weed’s illegality. A very similar crime wave revolved around alcohol during prohibition.

Reality is that legalizing marijuana is likely to reduce crime, not increase it, and the Attorney General is not as stupid as her argument would seem to indicate. She is merely as dishonest as most of the advocates on both sides of pretty much all of the measures on this year's ballot.

That being said, I do see a couple of problems with legalization, one being that after the state of Washington legalized marijuana they experienced a large increase in fatal highway crashes involving drivers who had been using marijuana, in fact the number of such crashes doubled. A direct cause and effect is hard to prove because of the second problem, which is that we have no way to detect when a person’s use of marijuana has become an impairment.

Alcohol use is generally defined as an impairment when the content in the blood reaches .08%, but even that, while close enough for legal action, is really only an approximation. Under some circumstances and for some people a blood alcohol content significantly lower than .08% can impair performance to a dangerous degree. We have nothing of a similar nature to determine safe levels of marijuana use.

Until we know more clearly what degree of impairment is caused by marijuana, when it is caused, and how to measure the effect of that impairment I think it is unwise to release it for general and unrestricted use.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Coaching Change

It has been suggested that the Chargers should fire head coach Mike McCoy and hire Les Miles, and I think the idea has merit.

LSU, despite it's recent woes, has had a much better winning record than the Chargers over the years, even this season, and it faces considerably tougher competition, relatively speaking.

Even if we didn't win more games, Les Miles would be a hell of a lot more entertaining on the sidelines and in the media than McCoy. If nothing else, the media could discuss his habit of eating grass.

Okay, perhaps "habit" is a bit hyperbolic, but even having done it once is a lot more interesting than anything Mike McCoy has ever done.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Double Standard

Various accusations have been made regarding Clinton and donations to the Clinton Foundation, in response to which Clinton dares anyone to show any instance where “I did any specific favors for those donors.” Typical Clinton triangulated denial in which she may actually be admitting to have taken bribes, but claiming that she didn’t fulfill her part of the bargain.

The media, of course, blows off any suggestion that donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State could possibly have been improper in any manner; says that anyone making such suggestions are irresponsible louts and are probably unpatriotic to boot.

But then the media pounces on a story about Trump’s use of his charitable foundation, including a headline that he “Used Foundation Funds for 2016 Run, Filings Suggest.” Given the last two words, the beginning of the headline should have read “May Have Used,” not “Used.”

The story revolves around Trump meeting with various conservative groups early in his campaign, many of whom asked for contributions, and he gave them money from his foundation in a perfectly legal manner.

The person reporting the issue to the media points out that “Trump did not explicitly ask for favors in return for the money,” but the article continues with vague accusations of illegality about what may have been wandering around in Trump’s mind when he wrote the check.

Does that sound familiar? Sure it does. See Hillary’s challenge to name anyone for whom she “did specific favors.” No one speculates about what may or may not have been wandering around in her mind when she received the money.

Meanwhile, the New York Attorney General is investigating the Trump Foundation and has shut it down for the moment. The investigation involves filing errors, and no on will be surprised to learn that the AG is a Democrat.

There are two parallel sets of standards for media reporting and legal investigation. There is Comey’s “no intent” standard for investigating those who are in power, and there is Schneiderman’s “file charges and shut it down now” standard for those who seek to gain power.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Well, That Was Epic

Not only did the Chargers lose to an 0-3 team, they lost after leading by 13 points with 8:39 left in the game. In their last three possessions they fumbled twice and threw an interception and, on the two New Orleans possessions that counted, could not prevent touchdowns and lost by one point. Awesome. Beyond awesome. I truly believe there is only one team in the league that could do that.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Proposition Nonsense Again

Backers of the proposition to build the "Convadium" in downtown San Diego... For those who don't know, that is the combination of a convention center and a football stadium, and the idea is every bit as ridiculous as you think it is. Chargers ownership knew they could not pass a measure paying for a stadium, but that the expansion of the convention center to accommodate ComicCon is a popular cause, so they jumped on board that one. The organizers of ComicCon want no part of it but aren't saying what they will do if it is built.

Anyway, the Convadium backers are saying that raising the hotel tax to 16.5% will not hurt tourism because two other California cities already have taxes that high and draw lots of visitors. Yes. Well, Anaheim has Disneyland, and San Francisco has, um, San Francisco. San Diego has nice beaches, but so do about eight other cities just to the north and south of us. And, have you stayed in a San Diego hotel lately?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Better Times

Somewhat over forty years ago I met a young fellow at a party who had just come to this country from Poland, which was still behind the Iron Curtain at the time. I asked him what most impressed him about the United States and without hesitation he replied, “You don’t have to be afraid of the police.”

Of course, he was a white guy so he might feel the same way today. I’m a white guy, though, and I’m not sure I do. One of the cops who shot the man in El Cajon was facing two charges of domestic assault, and was still on duty and still carrying a firearm. That’s not a police department that engenders a feeling of public safety.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And Another Lie

Another commercial urging a "no" vote, this one on Proposition 53 because it "gives the state control over local projects."

Oh, please. The proposition requires a popular vote before the state can issue general revenue bonds for amounts exceeding $2 billion. So, regarding the claim made in the commercial, the state does not issue bonds for local projects, local governments issue those bonds and this proposition affects only state issuance of bonds. In any case, how many local projects exceed $2 billion?

That doesn't mean I'm going to vote for this mess, but...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Just A Thought

Somebody is spending a huge amount of money to defeat Proposition 61. There are ads everywhere, every fifteen minutes on television, full page ads in the newspaper, and even major billboards all over town telling me I should vote "no" on Proposition 61.

All of this suggests to me that I should vote "yes" on it.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Are You Listening, Spanos?

The LSU Tigers lost two of their first four games, and head coach Les Miles is fired along with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Now, if we could just get the owner of the San Diego Chargers on the same page.

The difference, of course, is that the LSU administration expects their football team to win games. Spanos makes money either way, and Mike McCoy's salary is pretty cheap, so Spanos doesn't really care one way or the other. It's kind of short sighted, though, because with the Chargers having a 1-2 record and in firmly last place in the AFC West division, that new stadium proposition vote is looking pretty shaky right now.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Campaign Style

If I am going to be asked by the establishment to disbelieve claims made about Clinton's email and charitable foundation, then I am going to choose to disbelieve similar claims made about Trump and his use of his charity funds as well.

We have deteriorated to campaigning like chimpanzees; whoever flings the most excrement wins.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Yesterday a middle aged woman in an Escalade was tailgating me as I drove on a residential street. I was driving a bit faster that I should have been actually, about 35mph, and she got so close to me at times that all I could see in my mirror was the grill of her car. I did what I always do in these circumstances, which is find a way to pull over and let her go by.

She blasted past me a high speed just as I noticed a speed limit sign, so I adjusted my speed to the required 30mph. We had been going up a slight hill, the crown of which was about three blocks ahead. When I topped the hill there was a motorcycle cop in the act of dismounting with a radar gun in his hand, parked in front of the Escalade which had just passed me.

I almost had a wreck because I was laughing so hard.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Oh Gack

Sixty Minutes did a piece last night that should have been titled "Do You Really Want Donald Trump's Finger On This Button?"

Choice little lines were included like, "So these are the President's rockets?" The "expert" replied that no, they are the nation's rocket, but that only the President can fire them. Dickweed repeated his line that they are, then, "the President's rockets."

Frankly, yes, I would rather have Trump's finger on that button than have Hillary Clinton's finger there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Yeah, That Makes Sense

Melvin Gordon was running behind a fullback in the first half Sunday and gaining 8-10 yards at a time, scoring two touchdowns. In the second half he ran only three times, all three as a single setback from a shotgun formation, and gained a total of five yards. Coach Mike McCoy told the media, when asked about it, that the change was due to "the flow of the game." What? The flow of the game is dictated by the plays called, not the other way around.

I told my trainer at the gym this morning that she needed to go easy on me because I was suffering from dehydration. She laughed and told me that I should have fully recovered in 90 minutes.

And So It Continues

Giving us information which, while it may not be entirely false, is misleading and distorts reality.

The New York Times blares in a headline that "Household Income Grew
5.2 Percent in 2015,"
which sounds like quite an accomplishment for our economy. Our local bird cage liner went even further, headlining the same article, "Americans Register Big Economic Gains."  Read the details, however, and we see that income for men grew by 1.5% while income for women grew by 2.5% in the same period.

There is one aspect of the latter that is actually good news, because it indicates progress toward gender pay equality, but if household income has grown by an amount so much greater than either component of that household it means that there are more workers per household than the prior year, and that is anything but good news, and it certainly isn't "big economic gains."

The same article says that "unemployment dropped to 5%," but doesn't remind us that the number does not represent 5% of the workforce, but rather is 5% of those who are participating in the workforce. That percentage is only 63% of those who are in the workforce, and is a historically low number which is not improving significantly.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Cheerleaders Are Back

I just read the sports section of our city's Sunday morning bird cage liner, which reminds me that the Chargers are playing in Kansas City today. I had not forgotten, of course, but...

The Las Vegas betting line is the Chiefs winning by six points. The San Diego sports writers are picking San Diego to win by a six to one margin. The one writer picking us to lose is doing so for the wrong reason; something about the new stadium, which is neither new or a stadium at this point. Needless to say, the six picking us to win are simply delusional.

Now the Chargers will probably win and make me look like an idiot, but I can deal with that. I've been looking like an idiot for much of my life.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Debunking the Debunker

Dean Baker writes a column called “Beat The Press,” in which he debunks articles written by other pundits and sets the records straight with what they would have said if they a) were not liars, b) did not have an agenda and/or c) were not stupid. He is not always polite about it and is frequently fun to read but, being an economist, he is fairly often full of shit himself.

Yesterday he set about correcting a column by David Brooks, which is usually fun, what with David Brooks being who he is, but he gets a little weird in the process. He cites a claim made by Brooks that, “the exchanges are disproportionately drawing lower-income people.” Actually, since the exchanges pick up a portion of the cost of insurance based on income, I believe that’s precisely what they are designed to do, but Dean Baker doesn’t go there.

Instead, he refutes Brooks by saying that, “Apparently Brooks did not realize that the ACA also requires that all insurers charge patients the same premium regardless of their health condition,” which is a masterpiece of non sequitur. He tries to strengthen what purports to be an argument by talking about health conditions a bit, and finishes that sick people now, “can get insurance at the same price as anyone else of the same age.”

“Non sequitur,” for those who don’t know, is Latin and loosely translates to, “What the hell does that have to do with what I just said?” Brooks is talking about people choosing the exchanges based on income and Baker “refutes” him by babbling about choosing the exchanges based on health condition.

In the comments it becomes somewhat more clear. Dean Baker was actually ignoring the Brooks comment about low income users of the exchanges and changing the subject to say, “Yeah, but Obamacare does some good things, too.” Typical economist, in that he can never admit that the other guy has made a valid point; when that happens he changes the subject.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Football ?

Not sure that what I watched this weekend was actually football. All of my teams not only lost, they humiliated themselves. Haven't heard any Les Miles firing rumors, but I would not settle for that anyway, preferring lynching. About the middle of the fourth quarter last night I swore off football altogether. Francois, forsooth. That's not only a first name, not a surname, it's a girl's first name. I think I'm over the swearing off thing now, though. I'm nothing if not resilient.

Monday, September 05, 2016


Media reporting is becoming increasingly detached from reality these days.

The New York Times carries a column by Paul Krugman in which he claims that the shortcomings of Donald Trump are being unreasonably downplayed by the media, while the travails of Hillary Clinton with respect to email servers and charitable foundations is being seriously and unfairly distorted into what amounts to falsehoods. I don’t know what planet he is living on, but it isn’t Earth.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post goes on at great length about a national security investigation into “a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions.” I think our own politicians have already beaten the Russians to the punch on that, but

The headline reads “U.S. investigating potential covert Russian plan to disrupt November elections,” an accusation which is not made in the article. In fact, the statement is made within the article that, “The Kremlin’s intent may not be to sway the election in one direction or another, officials said, but to cause chaos and provide propaganda fodder to attack U.S. democracy-building policies around the world, particularly in the countries of the former Soviet Union,” which is pretty opaque, but does not seem to imply “swaying November elections.”

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Employment's "Sound Footing"

The consensus of reporting is that the 155,000 new jobs created last month means that “employment growth is still on a sound footing.” That number, however, is seasonally adjusted. The unadjusted number was a mere 33,000 new jobs. Even if you accept the rosier adjusted number, despite no explanation ever being given for why the adjustment is needed or how it is made, the 155,000 new jobs did not keep up with the 176,000 new people who entered the work force, so I find the “sound footing” hard to swallow.

Of those 176,000 new workers, 33,000 found new jobs, 20,000 joined the workforce as unemployed, while 122,000 were “seasonally adjusted” out of the statistics. Awesome.

Year-to-date numbers are even more depressing. Without the “seasonal adjustments,” which cannot possibly be needed in annual numbers, 275,000 fewer jobs have been created this year than were created in the same period of 2015, and 460,000 fewer jobs have been created this year than were created in the same period of 2014. To condense that a little bit, the economy is down by 275,000 jobs over last year, and by 460,000 jobs over the year before that. Sound footing?

The candidates are too busy pointing out each other’s personality flaws to have time to discuss anything like the job situation faced by working class men and women.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Food Blogging, Friday

I invented this recipe out of thin air and made it last night. Results, frankly, surprised me a bit. I don't usually hit it on the first try. My wife freaked out. It is very spicy, so you may want to use a little less Creole seasoning, but my wife said it was a home run the way it is.

Pasta Jambalaya

1 lg or 2 sm Chicken breast, skinned and deboned
8-12 shrimp, uncooked, peeled and deveined, tails removed
1 ea, spicy smoked sausage, diced fairly small
8-12 oz ham, diced fairly small
2 tsp Creole seasoning, plus more for blackening
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 can petite diced Tomatoes
½ cup white wine (Pinot Grigio)

Put tomatoes, wine and seasonings into a large stovetop pot and bring to a simmer. If you think the volume doesn’t justify the large pot, just trust me and use it anyway.

Brown the diced sausage and ham in a hot skillet and add it to the pot, mixing them in.

Now things get a little more tricky. Cut the chicken into pieces bigger than bite sized, but not very large. You can use the “chicken tenders” which are about the right size. Now dust those pieces very heavily with Creole seasoning. Don’t be bashful, use quite a lot. Put the seasoned chicken pieces into a little oil in a very hot skillet and brown them heavily. Get them very brown; maybe a little black. The skillet should be hot enough that it happens quite rapidly, and we aren’t concerned with cooking them through.

Once they are done on both sides, place them on top of the liquid in the pot. Just let them rest on top, don’t submerge them. Cover the pot and let it simmer very low for about one hour.

Now take your shrimp and do the same thing with them that you did with the chicken, only use less Creole seasoning and less time in the skillet. Just a few seconds on each side will do the trick. Put the shrimp on top just like you did with the chicken. Cover and let it continue to simmer until the shrimp are done; about 15-20 minutes.

Serve over pasta.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Modern Navy

Another new littoral combat ship has been rendered “hors de combat” on a long term basis, the third one in a year, and while the article does not say so, this one appears to be one of at least two where the issue was crew maintenance failure. The USS Freedom lost a main engine when “seawater entered the engine oil lube system through a leak in a seawater pump's mechanical seal.”

It’s hard to follow that description, because normally the mechanical seal on a seawater pump would be sealing the shaft that connects the electric drive motor to the pump, and it would be sealing the pumped content from the atmosphere of the ship, or from the electric motor. Freedom must have some pretty funky mechanical systems to allow the failure of such a seal to dump seawater into the lube oil system. Either that or the government is doing one of its infamous tap dances again.

And yes, seawater pumps cooling diesel engines is something I know quite a lot about. Look at the picture at the top of this blog. Granted, I was an electrician, but those pumps are driven by electric motors, and I have actually changed the mechanical seals in question. Seawater did not get into our engine lube oil when the seal failed; it sprayed into the electric motor, creating a bit of havoc, and then went into our bilge.

In any case, allowing the leak (whatever it was) to develop is bad enough, but apparently it was not discovered for quite a long time, because the entire engine is having to be replaced due to interior rust. That means a lot of seawater got into the lube oil, a hell of a lot, and it stayed there for a long time without anyone noticing. Seawater in lube oil is not that hard to notice, and regular inspection should have caught it long before it did any damage.

USS Fort Worth was crippled when it tried to operate with no lubricating oil in its main propulsion reduction gears because the crew had forgotten to put it in after draining the gearbox for maintenance. Again, I thought it was pretty remarkable that a ship that new would already be changing the gearbox oil, but that the crew would overlook something so basic as replacing the oil is mind boggling.

This incident happened in Japan, and the ship is having to be towed all the way back to San Diego for repairs, which raises the question of why they were performing this level of maintenance in a foreign port.

The USS Milwaukee suffered a disabling breakdown when a clutch failed to disengage, but she had been in commission for less than a month so it's hard to draw any conclusions from that. Although, from other events in the news it would not surprise me that a Navy crew could screw up a new ship in less than a month.

Later in the article an admiral actually comes to the defense of the ships as if these failures were the fault of the ships themselves. He refers to them as “teething problems of the class.” So the Navy has massive leadership and crew incompetence problems and doesn’t even recognize what it is looking at.

The Navy in which I served was certainly not perfect, but this is astonishing. We had ships that were twenty years old and we took good care of them. We paid attention to our jobs. We took pride in our service. Today’s Navy seems to incorporate none of that, being given brand new ships and simply trashing them.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Dean Baker, a couple of days ago, offered a rather odd explanation of why the Obamacare healthcare exchanges are failing in many states, with major insurers losing money and pulling out of them. He says that the exchanges are, “attracting a less healthy group of patients.”

He goes on to say that insurance companies “are happy to insure relatively healthy people,” which seems fairly obvious, and suggests that the states can “require that insurers commit to insuring less healthy people on the exchanges as a condition of insuring the more healthy people on the individual market.”

Let’s see if we can parse what he’s saying here. People who are healthy buy expensive policies outside of the exchanges, while people who are sick buy cheaper policies in the exchanges. No, that doesn’t sound right.

People who buy health insurance on the exchanges rather than in the mass market do not do so because they are sick, they do so because they have lower income and receive a subsidy when using the exchanges. That subsidy applies to sick people and healthy people, but the healthy people don’t want to buy health insurance.

Obamacare was supposed to assure that healthy people would buy health insurance whether they wanted to or not, but has not delivered on that promise because the penalties are far too small. Healthy people have figured out they are better off paying the trivial penalty than they are spending a vastly larger sum on insurance they don’t want. Pundits universally claimed that no one would ever think that way, but

As for Baker’s suggestion that states require that insurance companies remain in the exchange as a condition of remaining in the mass market, yes, they could do that. The result would be an increase in rates for the mass market to offset losses in the exchanges, which might not be too popular, especially given that popular pressure is to reduce health care cost rather than increase it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Biden Barking

Watched a film clip last night of Joe Biden in Turkey barking with great indignation about how the United States would never, ever, never, under any circumstances support the evils of a military coup. He apparently has already forgotten about Egypt and Honduras, both of which happened during his watch. Whatever shred of credibility this nation might once have had is long gone now.

Missing the Point

Clinton is accused of doing government favors for donors to the Clinton Foundation because of memos as Secretary of State and because more than half of the meetings she has had as a candidate were with Foundation donors; says she met with them but never actually did them any favors.

Opponents say she’s lying, supporters say she’s telling the truth, and both of them are missing the point. The problem is that, favors or not, such access to government officials is a problem in itself. Ordinary people, people who are not filthy rich, do not get to meet with people in power and express their views.

Opponents also say she’s lying about the email server thing while supporters say she’s telling the truth but, in reality, why should any of us pay the slightest attention to anything she’s says about it? Not because she’s crooked, but because she’s not stupid. If she did do something wrong, is she going to admit that to a reporter? The reporter is actually pretty damned stupid to ask the question.

“Mrs Clinton, did you send secret material on an insecure email server?”
Do you really think that she is going to answer in the affirmative? So why bother to make such a big deal about her giving the only possible answer and saying that she didn’t do it?

I’m not claiming that she did any of these things; I’m just asserting that her denials mean nothing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A "Still Small Voice"

I’m leery of “Wall Street experts,” but James Grant makes, I think, an interesting point when he discusses the wisdom of investing in government treasury bonds.

“Sovereign debt is my nomination for the number one overvalued market around the world. You are earning nothing or less than nothing for the privilege of lending your money to a government that has pledged to depreciate the currency that you’re investing in. The central banks of the world are striving to achieve a rate of inflation of 2% or more and you are lending certainly at much less than 2% and in many cases at less than nominal 0%. The experience of losing money is common in investing. But where is the certitude of loss even before your check clears? That’s the situation with sovereign debt right now.”

He does not go into the perfidy of governments paying less than 1% on the money you lend them while deliberately devaluing that money at an annual 2% rate. Who is served by such a policy? Yes. Bankers.

The whole thing is worth reading, especially the part about the Swiss National Bank buying American equities using Swiss francs which they “create from the thin alpine air where the Swiss money grows.” Unlike the American Fed money which is created from the humid, heavy air at sea level.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Effect of Taxes

The media is not talking much about what the two candidates are promising for income tax changes. They don’t offer much detail, and they don’t say how the changes offered by either candidate will affect taxes paid by average working class Americans.

Trump, we hear, proposes to change the brackets and have only three tax rates of 10%, 20% and 25% with increase in the standard deduction to $25,000 for single filers and $50,000 for married couples. The media stresses that such a scheme would result in the rich paying lower taxes.

Clinton says that she will add a new rate at the top, percentage unspecified, which the media quotes her repeatedly as saying will, “finally make the rich pay their fair share for a change.”

Trump doesn’t say what the wage brackets are for his three rates, but since under the current tax plan the 10% bracket tops out at a mere $9275, there is no 20% bracket and the boundary at which we begin paying 25% is below average wage of $39,156, it’s safe to say that income on which you are now paying 15% will be taxed at 10% and income on which you are paying 25% tax will be taxed at either 10% or 20%. Not to mention that the standard deduction, for the 82% of people making average wage who do not itemize, is quadrupled.

In other words, Trump’s proposal will significantly reduce the tax liability for average working class men and women. The media carefully does not point that out.

Clinton’s proposal does not change the taxes paid by the working class, but does raise taxes paid by the rich by some unspecified amount. The media, then, is persuading working class voters to reject a tax reduction for themselves in favor of a tax increase to punish the rich. What kind of sense does that make? How does the working class benefit from making the rich just a tiny bit less rich?

They would, perhaps, rather feel good about kicking someone else’s ass than having some extra income for themselves? Have we really deteriorated to that?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Uber Gets A Beating

Bill Mitchell had a discussion Tuesday on why progressives (damn, that is starting to sound to me like a dirty word) should not be swanning over the likes of Uber, explaining the ways in which that business model resembles sharecropping. He goes on at some length about the evils of sharecropping, and of Uber.

He does not, at least, refer to “the sharing economy,” a term which seems to have lost momentum lately. Thank God. That term was always nonsense. If you’re charging money for it, you’re not “sharing” it. Anyway…

I have noticed lately that Uber is running television commercials for drivers. They ran them for riders for a long time, but then there was nothing for a while and now it’s for drivers. I’ve been wondering what that means, but now I read that Uber also does car financing and I think I know. Ugh. That’s not a pretty picture.

I agree with much of what Mitchell has to say, although I’m less sympathetic than he with the taxi industry. I have a little different slant than he does on the history of the taxi industry persuading (bribing) local governments to limit the number of licenses. He sees that as opportunity for impoverished taxi drivers to realize capital gains on taxi licenses, while I see it as a method of enriching taxi owners through the limitation of competition. Either way, seeing them suffer from competition now because their bribes were overtaken by events doesn’t really bother me much.

Way down in the comments section someone mentions that sharecropping is not intrinsically evil; that it provides entry into farming without the need for capital to purchase land, for instance. Which raises an interesting point. Most systems, either in government or business, are intrinsically neither good or bad. What matters is the manner in which that system is implemented.

The modern generation of “progressives” are ranting on the evils of capitalism, and notably not offering to say what should replace it, but capitalism is what produced the boom times and almost utopian living standard of the 1960's and 70's. What changed about the way our systems have been implemented between then and now is for another discussion, certainly Uber is part of the change and part of the problem, but the problem is not the system itself.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pearls of Wisdom

A talking head commenting on the women's eight rowing team said that they dominate the class because, "They have established their own identity and are rowing to their potential."

The women were in command from the opening horn and won gold by a bit over two seconds, so I'm sure this female commentator was pretty excited, but what does that even mean? Their own identity? Yes, they wore team uniforms, as did all the other teams. Rowing to their potential? Yes, I dare say they were, as were seven other teams in that competition. I'm no rowing expert, but I suspect that their winning probably had a lot to do with strength training and many hours of practice to get their timing just right, and very little to do with "establishing their identity" etc.

I once told my father when I was a kid that I needed to "find out who I am." I won't tell you what his response was specifically. He sent me on a journey, but it was very short and it wasn't about self discovery.

Yes, I sometimes engage in snark when I pick titles.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Say What?

In the comment section on an NBC article about Joey Bosa's holdout with the Chargers a fan writes, "As much as I think Bosa should accept the reasonable terms set by the team I still hate that the Chargers always seem to find ways to crap on their players."

So, making a reasonable offer to a player which he does not accept is "crapping on the player" these days?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

They're Back!

imageThis is even better news than the return of Twinkies! Archway only had one facility, which went bankrupt several years ago, and now they are back. These are the real deal, too. They are crispy, crunchy and you can taste the molasses. So far Vons is the only store I've seen that has them.

Twinkies, Windmill cookies and football season only days away. I am almost giddy. Well college football and the NFL regular season is still four weeks away, but the NFL preseason will tide me over until then.

Now if we can only get Chase Elliott to quit doing stupid things on the race track.

What is Progressive?

In a comment on another venue a commentor referenced polls showing that "younger people are overwhelmingly progressive." Someone has a different definition of "progressive" than I do.

"We want to receive a free college education and a higher minimum wage, and we want the rich to pay for it," is not progressive.

"We want to build water systems and develop clean energy and are willing to pay taxes to cover the cost," is progressive.