Thursday, December 27, 2018

Liberal Justice

A New York Times editorial (sorry, no link, it’s behind a paywall) asks a profound question which admits to no legitimate answer. “How can we deny citizenship to anyone, when none of us have done anything to deserve our own citizenship?” The editorialist is, of course, a white, female, native born American citizen and a registered Democrat.

There is an answer, however, and we are already engaged in implementing it. You take away the benefits of citizenship from those who are now citizens. Things like free the speech of anyone who doesn’t think the same thoughts you do.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Liberal Logic

The title is an oxymoron, of course, but introduces a statement made in all seriousness by a self-proclaimed liberal regarding our current president; claiming that, "he was elected by a minority of the voters, a vanishingly small one if the many non-voters are taken into account."

I did not bother to ask him why non-voters should be considered as a "percentage of the voters."  Nor did I ask him why, if they were included, they should be included as ones who voted against Trump. His answers would undoubtedly have satisfied him, but they would not have made any sense to me, so there was no point in asking the questions.

Update, Wed. 12/26/18: from a different person in a different "discussion" on why it's okay for us to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia but not okay for Russia to sell weapons to Venezuela. "No doubt we've done some terrible, terrible stuff in the world, but I do believe that we stand for freedom, some modicum of order, and general safety & opportunity."

Don't judge us by what we do, judge us by what we "stand for."  Right.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Military Goes Rogue

Another way to phrase the New York Times headline is that the military is determined to undermine the Commander in Chief by finding clever ways to circumvent his orders.

"Pentagon Mulls Options For Syria," the headline reads.

"The Pentagon is considering using small teams of Special Operations forces to strike the Islamic State group in Syria, one option for continuing a US military mission there despite president Donald Trump's order to withdraw troops from that country."

It goes on to explain that the troops would be stationed in Iraq, but would "surge" into Syria for specific raids, "according to two military officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

I'll bet they did demand anonymity, considering that they were revealing that the military is maneuvering to obviate two centuries of civilian control, and describing methods specifically designed to violate direct orders from the President of the United States. Rest in peace, US constitution.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas in Amman

The hotel had covered the tree with star shaped ornaments each inscribed with the name of one of its staff. There were stars with names of all kinds. There were; Marys, Gunters, Muhammads, Seans, Josephs, Ahmads, 'Issas, Pierres, Ivans, Abdullahs, Muhsins, etc. There were hundreds of names.

I was hoping that Pat Lang would relate this story again this year. I always enjoy reading it. I urge you to go read the whole thing. It's a short piece, and worth your time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Obamacare Again

A judge ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional the other day, once again putting this silly topic back into the forefront of national conversation as if the fate of the free world depended upon the outcome. This is a program providing health insurance to fewer than 9 million people, while leaving 29 million still uninsured, which leaves me wondering why it is worth the effort at all. Why bother to take care of 2.9% of your population if you are going to ignore three times that many?

So we argue endlessly about a program which costs $55 billion and saves a few lives, and do not question at all a program which consumes $750 billion annually and kills people all over the world. Of course we have to do the latter or those people we killed might come here, presumably flying on a commercial airline carrying their AK-47s since they have no ships or airplanes of their own, and kill us all. Which we would pretty much deserve for being as stupid as we are.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

China Hacking Western Hotels?

Our government claims that China, the Chinese government no less, is behind the hacking of 500 million records of hotel visitors in the United States, allowing them (the Chinese government) to obtain the personal records of 500 million visitors to hotels in this country.

Do I believe it. No, I emphatically do not. What could the Chinese government possibly want with the "personal records" of 500 million non-Chinese people?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Election Nullification

I cannot cite accurate quotes here, because the reference articles are on the Washington Post and NBC News, and both websites contains advertisements which cause my browser to crash, but both media sites are terribly concerned about Republican legislatures passing legislation which limits the power of incoming Democratic governors. They cite a risk to the survival of democracy due to what they call “election nullification.”

That’s pretty rich. First they reported with a complete lack of concern when the Democratic Party rigged a primary election against a highly popular anti-establishment candidate, then they were completely unconcerned when a Democratic outgoing president and the losing presidential candidate tried to nullify a presidential election by claiming without the slightest shred of evidence that the Russians had rigged the national presidential election in favor of the person they lost the election to.

That there is a ton of evidence now, evidence which may or may not be valid, is beside the point. At the time that Democrats first made the claim of an illegitimate election the media fully supported Democratic claims that the election was fraudulent when there was no actual evidence offered at the time the claim was made. They were and still are completely unconcerned about, in fact are fully supportive of “election nullification” when it is the Democrats who are trying to do it.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Army Navy Game

I sat down to watch the Army/Navy football game yesterday and witnessed the Army chaplain precede the game with a prayer, beginning by intoning, “God of wonders, some wonder why we pray for a football game. So I tell them in this game, every player on the field is willing to die for every person watching.” (Which doesn't answer the question of "why we pray," of course, but that's beside the point I'm planning to make.)

He finished by saying, “And so, almighty God, we who are willing to die for others, we salute you. Let this game begin. Amen.”

I kept wondering what the future soldiers, sailors and marines were thinking about the chaplain’s characterization of them as being “willing to die,” and belaboring the point by saying it repeatedly, because I’m pretty sure none of them signed up for that. I kind of wanted to punch that chaplain in the face.

Lumping these fine young men and women together with Muslim jihadists who strap dynamite vests on themselves and walk into a crowded marketplace to blow themselves up was pretty insulting, actually.

Dying is not what these people have in mind when they sign up to serve their country. What they do is something far more noble than being “willing to die.” What they do is place the value of their nation above themselves. I am reminded of a wonderful line from a book by Kenneth Roberts about the Revolutionary War titled, “A Rabble in Arms.” One of the great novels of all times.

“They go to war, these young men,” he said, “not to die for their country, but to place themselves, their precious lives, between their home and the forces which would destroy it.”

On a more trivial note, I then watched the Army team play football, and do it very well. I don’t know what it was that the Navy team was doing, but it wasn’t playing football. They changed quarterbacks after the first one completed zero passes in four attempts during the first half with two interceptions, but it didn’t help. The second quarterback fumbled the ball rather than throwing interceptions, but the result was the same.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Growth Means "Smaller"

Dean Baker, economist, not only admits yesterday that his discipline mostly doesn’t know what it’s talking about, saying that, “Almost no economic models projected the collapse of the housing bubble and Great Recession,” in the same article he admits that he does not know what constitutes growth.

As things wear out, the tells us (“clothes, shelter, computers, etc.”), and we replace them with ones that are “better (e.g. longer lasting, clothes that are warmer or cooler etc.) than the ones they replaced,” presumably on a one-for-one basis since he uses the term "replace," he asserts in the article that, “that sure sounds like growth to me.”

So, if I have a 2 MHz computer with 2Mb memory that cost me $3000 and am able to buy a 4 MHz computer with 6Mb memory to replace it for $1400, which actually happened, that $1600 smaller sale and $1600 smaller contribution to GDP would represent growth to Dean Baker.

A businessman would certainly not consider a $1600 smaller sale, a 53% decrease, to be “growth.” Only an economist would think in those terms.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Solution Precedes Formula

I’m not going to link to the source because what he’s saying could have been said by any economist. It’s gibberish having to do with a discussion between economists regarding whether foreign trade increases or decreases productivity in the domestic economy. Suffice it to say, the discussion is a clear and convincing example of why we should not take economists seriously.

He begins his argument by saying that, “Gross output in the growing sector is (sum i = 1 to N of x_i^alpha)L1^(1-alpha)…” because economists love mathmatical formulas. Individual future performance can be predicted by past performance to some degree, but mass behavior is a different crittur, as the 2016 election demonstrated.

Economists get around this problem by making their math formulas so complex that solution of them is possible only by economists, who don’t actually solve them. They just present the desired result as being the solution of the formula.

As evidence of that, the guy goes on to say, “I am willing to bet you could whip up a model (a.k.a. math formula) where trade causes high productivity growth within 15 minutes.”

Of course he can. “Whipping up” a formula to prove a foregone conclusion is much like conducting a trial process specifically to prove that a particular drug works and is safe. That’s how we get drugs on the market that kill people.

And this writer illustrates why economists are astonished when debt levels increase to the point that the economy implodes, because their “whipped up” formulas proved that it could never happen.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Politics of Intimidation

Gonzaga has denied the school’s chapter of College Republicans application to bring Ben Shapiro to speak on campus, and their reason for that denial is fascinating, citing the “protests and safety issues” that the event would cause.

The VP of Student Development said that because Shapiro’s presence would, “draw protests that include extremely divisive and hateful speech and behavior,” he could not permit his appearance on the Gonzaga campus.

That’s a hell of a reason. He is saying that he does not object to Ben Shapiro speaking, nor does he object to the principles of the group which wants to invite him to speak. He objects, rather, to the violence and ugliness of the liberals who oppose Shapiro. So what we have here is liberals using threats, violence and intimidation to silence their opposition. Gonzaga is not preventing free speech, it is merely bowing to fear.

It is not Gonzaga which is the foe of free speech here, it is liberals.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Aging Gracefully

Ginko Would that I could look so good at such an advanced age.

This is "The Elder Immortal Tree," a Ginko tree in China which is 3000 years old. Its foliage turns this color every fall. Click on the picture for a better look.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sea Stores

Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.

I was always bemused when I heard someone speaking about a drinking problem and say of their time in the Navy that, “I was okay while we were at sea because there was no booze on the ship.” That dude served in a different Navy than I did, because there certainly was never any shortage of booze on my ship. In fact, the main reason for going on liberty when in port was to replenish one’s onboard stash of the good stuff, known in our vernacular as "sea stores."

The Executive Officer occasionally got a bee in his bonnet and went on a mission to seek out all of the “illicit alcoholic beverage” on board, usually shortly after leaving port, which caused us a good bit of amusement. One thing was his use of the pedantic term “alcoholic beverage,” which was a bit out of character for him, not to mention that any “alcoholic beverage” he found was by definition “illicit,” since all of it was smuggled aboard illegally.

Mainly the amusement was that he never found much because we were highly skilled at moving it from places he had not yet searched to places he had searched, and it never occurred to him to search any place twice. We were also pretty good at hiding it in places he wouldn’t think to look, like the crankcase of a main engine that was out of service.

There was also the “water round torpedo” tank, which took in water to compensate for the weight of a torpedo when it was fired. That could create problems if we were firing a lot of torpedoes, but we always knew in advance if that was going to be happening, so we could deal with that.

I won’t go into all of the rest, but sailors are nothing if not ingenious, not to mention devious. In any case, it was unusual for our sea stores to run out no matter how long we were at sea, even for cruises up to three months or so.

If our sea stores ever did run low, and sometimes just because it was good fun, we would hit the supply of torpedo fuel, which was pure grain alcohol. There are stories told about torpedoes being fired and going straight to the bottom upon leaving the tube because the crew drank all of the fuel, but I’m pretty sure those stories are bogus.

Pretty sure. Can’t guarantee it. If the men who served on those diesel boats were not insane when they came aboard, they went batshit crazy in pretty short order, so one cannot rule out any story told about those days.

What we hit was the reserve fuel supply. The Navy put formaldehyde in it, which is a deadly poison of course, to keep us from drinking it, and pink coloring to let us know that it contained formaldehyde. Not that the coloring was really needed; if the smell didn’t tell you it was there, the taste of it certainly would.

We developed several different methods of filtering, which took out the pink color but, unfortunately, did not remove the formaldehyde. Someone however, (it may have been me) knew that alcohol and formaldehyde boil at different temperatures, and so we built a distillery to distill the formaldehyde out.

Happily, the XO never found our still and we never blew up the ship by burning torpedo fuel to distill torpedo fuel, so we never had to worry about our sea stores running out.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Well, That Was A Stupid Quiz

One of those online quickies asked, "Can we guess what team you watched when you were growing up?" LSU comes to mind, of course, but they were talking about the NFL so I went along and they came up with the LA Rams. The Rams were in Los Angeles when I was growing up, but I was most certainly not paying any significant amount of attention to them.

As a side note, the fact that the Rams were in Los Angeles then and are now, but were not there for most of the time between confuses my wife a bit. She grew up in Los Angeles, but does not watch football much. She is quite well aware, however, that the Chargers are no longer in San Diego. She gets reminded of it from time to time, usually accompanied by a bit of profanity.

Anyway, the quiz was multiple choice and did not provide the answers I would have chosen. It asked, for instance, for my preferred area of the country and did not offer the Midwest as one of the choices. It asked what color I would paint my car and did not offer red and gold. That will probably tell you that when I was growing up, and to this day, my favorite NFL team is the Kansas City Chiefs.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Our Laws are Their Laws?

The United States keeps claiming that we are not an empire. This is usually relevant to us having military bases in no fewer than 135 nations other than our own, which certainly sounds like an empire, but the term “empire” could be applied to our expectation that the entire world is subject to our laws.

We recently, for instance, actually indicted a whole bunch of Russians for not complying with our election laws. I found that little move to be high comedy ironic, since our government only marginally obeys our own election laws itself.

Actually, election laws are not the only laws with which our government is only marginally in compliance with, but that’s a different issue.

Dean Baker wrote yesterday, as he does on a regular basis, of the gross impropriety of China’s “wanton violation of the copyrights and patents of U.S. companies,” without mentioning that such copyrights and patents are matters of United States law and that China is not really required to comply with US law.

China has a whole host of laws with which we do not comply on a regular basis, and their economists seldom complain about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Subron 8: Flaming The Brass

Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.

I’m standing in the lobby of the base exchange at Submarine Base New London with my friend Tom, just hanging out and trying to decide what to do next before heading back to the ship. I’m admiring the new cigarette lighter I just bought, which has the insignia of Subron 8 on it, a pair of dolphins peering out from behind both sides of an eight ball.

An officer, seeing that I’m smoking a cigarette and holding a lighter, walks up to me and asks for a light. The fact that he’s a full commander doesn’t bother me much, I’ve been around for a while, but the fact that I have a brand new lighter which has a lot in common with a napalm-fueled flame thrower does.

So I hold it down at my waist to strike it, intending to let it calm down before I bring it up to light the commander’s smoke. Unfortunately, he’s the impatient type and bends down just as I strike the flint. My lighter does its imitation of the thing that Marines used to use for burning the Japanese out of bunkers, and the commander leaps back, dropping his hat and nearly falling on his ass.

Tom does a good imitation of someone who just happened to be passing by, may not even be in the Navy, and certainly is not acquainted with this dangerous pyromaniac Electrician’s Mate. The commander gets his shit together while I’m trying to decide whether running for my life is a good idea or not. I decide it’s probably not and ask the commander if he’s okay.

He doesn’t actually answer, just gives me a dirty look which momentarily makes me reconsider the running for my life thing, and then says, “You need to trim the wick on that damn thing, sailor,” and walks off. I don’t know if his cigarette is lit or not, but I’m not going to run him down and ask.

Tom decides he does know me after all, but can’t talk to me because he’s laughing too hard to speak. For months afterward he’s asking me about the length of my wick. No, moron, that's my "wick" he's asking about.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Serving With Heroes

I was getting a routine checkup at my neurologist yesterday. He’s been seeing me two or three times a year, sometimes quite a bit more often, for a bit over twenty years, so we usually chat a bit during such visits. He was telling me, apropos of Veterans’ Day, that he had an uncle who had served in the Marines and had participated in the invasion of Saipan and Tinian.

I expressed my admiration of the Marine Corps, and went on to tell him of the Marines coming on board my submarine for training. Of course that led to me describing some of the pranks we pulled on those Marines, which he enjoyed.

That in turn led to me mentioning that some of the men in my crew had served in submarines during World War II, and had experienced depth charging by the Japanese Navy. He was sort of flabbergasted at the thought. I was, of course, a young kid at the time, and we revered these “old salts” greatly.

Thinking back on it, it is quite remarkable. Serving with those men was a great privilege, and is a memory that I treasure immensely.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday AM Football Notes

The Chargers play the Raiders today and are 10-point favorites. Probably should be about 24 points, but I hope they watched the Aztecs last night, who were 27-point favorites playing UNLV, and lost. I think it's called a "trap game."

"Hey, dude, that thing is a football and the goal line is over there. Go."

Alabama's Josh Jacobs, #8, is a beast. When he runs the ball, yardage is not his purpose. He is looking for somebody to hit. He is disappointed when he scores a touchdown, because it means he didn't get to hit anybody. He would have no fun as a linebacker, because at that position you can't hit anyone unless he is carrying the ball. As a running back with the ball, anyone in a jersey of the other color is fair game.

New rule. If you are behind an Alabama player and he dives to the ground falls down without you touching him, you get penalized for an "illegal block in the back." Waving your arms at the ref and claiming that you didn't touch him is useless. Refs never make mistakes. Similarly, if the entire Alabama offense starts moving with the exception of the center, who is holding the ball motionless on the ground, it is not a false start.

I'm looking into how to start a Go Fund Me account to get seeing eye dogs for football referees.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Proactive? Pre-Protest

Sizeable protest in downtown San Diego last night over acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. They were demanding that he "recuse himself" regarding supervision of the investigation into Trump's "collusion with Russia" during the 2016 election, and because they fear he will fire Robert Mueller.

So liberals are now reacting to and protesting not what the administration is doing, but what they are jumping to the conclusion that it might do. I believe they think they are being "proactive," but I believe they are merely being half-cocked. Not to mention half-witted. They are ditching the first two firing line commands of, "ready, aim," and are going directly to "fire."

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

"Scientific" Studies

And we wonder why science is taken unseriously by so many people today, such as climate change deniers. I am not one of those, but I tend to become sympathetic with them when I see “studies” such as the one published yesterday in WebMD saying that, “Energy Drink Might Harm Blood Vessels.”

First of all, if you read the article, the “study” did not suggest that the drink harms blood vessels, it says that they might cause them to become smaller in diameter for an unspecified period of time. The report does not say if they tested to see how long it took for them to return to normal size, but changing diameter is a normal function of blood vessels and under most conditions is in no way harmful. It can, in fact, be life saving.

Further, it says that, “The study included 44 healthy, non-smoking medical students in their 20s.” No, I didn’t leave off any zeros in the number of people involved in the study.

What was the effect of energy drinks on a sedentary male in his 50s? Well, the study did not address that question, the study was only interested in the drink’s effect on 44 college students, out of a population of 320 million people in this nation. Why is that “study” worth publication?

So when a client change denier reads this “scientific study” and then reads another “scientific study” saying that the oceans will rise thirty feet by the year 2040, I’m not sure that I blame him for disbelieving it.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

What's In A Name?

The name of our nation is “The United States of America,” and yet we repeatedly hear federal legislators say that, "My responsibility is to act in the best interest of the people of my state." They are wrong when they say that, and that is a very big part of the problem this nation faces.

Their real responsibility of a federal legislator elected by the people of a state is to represent the principles which are held by a majority of the people of that state in serving the best interest of the nation as a whole.

When legislators focus is on representing only the best interest of the people of the state they serve then we become the "Divided States of America."

We have, in fact become 485 constituencies (435 districts in the House and 50 states), all fighting for the biggest piece of the pie and willing to sabotage not only each of the other 484 constituencies, but willing to sabotage the nation as a whole in order to fatten the purse of one small piece.

The legislators are not supposed to be "bringing home the bacon" to enrich their constituency, they are supposed to be governing the nation by casting votes in the legislature which are in accordance with principles that are held by their constituencies and which best serve the well being of the nation as a whole.

Throw In The Towel

Alabama 29, LSU 0, and the game was not that close. The Tigers offense was in Tide territory only once, and that was due to an Alabama facemask penalty. The announcers kept yammering about "keep the game close until Devin White returns" (at halftime, from prior game targeting suspension), but his name was not mentioned once in the second half.

This was a coaching failure. The offense kept doing what was not working, running up the middle into a solid wall, and attempting deep pass routes which got the quarterback sacked. Orgeron added stupidity of getting his quarterback sacked on his own goal line with 3 minutes remaining in the first half, and of attempting a field goal (which missed) when down 22 points with eight minutes left in the game. Even if successful, that three points would have contributed nothing toward winning the game.

Maybe the brain trust down in Baton Rouge should not have been quite so quick to dump Les Miles.

Friday, November 02, 2018

If You Have To Say It...

Headline today, "Oakland Raider Players Say They Have Not Quit."   Well, having just been beaten 34-3 by a team with a record of 1-7, maybe it would be better if they had quit. What does it say about their skill level if that performance last night was their best effort?

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Impending Doom No Longer Impending

The oceans are warming much faster than we once thought, have now reached very close to the boiling point, so now we must stop emitting greenhouse gasses altogether within a matter of weeks or we will all die next month.

Well, perhaps not, but the hyperbole is pretty close to that. The operative clause in this piece of news, however, is that, "Researchers using a new method to calculate the amount of heat absorbed by the world's oceans..."

New scientific method. If current research is not sufficiently dramatic, change the research method.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Medical Model of Auto Repair

Your car is running rough so you take it to the repair shop. They won't tell you in advance what it will cost to fix it but you really need the car, so you tell them to go ahead. You come back when it's done and they charge you $11,834.75, which is disconcerting because that's more than you paid for the car.

They look you up on their customer list and tell you that you are a "preferred customer" and are entitled to a discount, and that you only need to pay $632.84, which you fork over happily because it sounds like a bargain even though you see on the receipt that it only took two hours and the parts consisted of two popsicle sticks and a packet of bubble gum.

Then two weeks later you get an additional bill for $385.62 from the "diagnostician" who examined the car to be able to tell the mechanic what needed fixing. Your lawyer friend tells you it is a legitimate bill, so you pay it.

Three weeks after that, you get a bill for "space utilization" from the building in which the repair was done. Turns out the mechanic does not own his own space. Apparently he doesn't pay rent either.

Then you get a bill from the mechanic for $487.54 because the repair was not on the list of "Level 1 Discounts" to "preferred customers." They are sincerely sorry for the misunderstanding.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Modern Monetary Theory Bites Us In The Ass Again

Dean Baker is back, espousing Modern Monetary Theory to claim is his column Wednesday that the current slump in sales of new houses is due to the Trump tax cuts. Yes, those are the same tax cuts that MMT proponents feared would “overheat the economy” but are now, according to Dean Baker, cooling the economy by causing home sales to decline.

MMT, which I call the “Free Lunch Economic Theory,” is the theory which says that “sovereign governments that are the sole supplier of national currency,” meaning that they alone print their nation’s money, therefor “have an unlimited financial ability to pay for the things they wish to purchase and to fulfill promised future payments.” Because, to be perfectly clear, according to the theory they can print as much money as they want to.

Because of that the theory claims that, “it is not possible for a government that issues its own currency to be bankrupt,” and says that collecting taxes is “a policy tool that regulates inflation and unemployment, and is not a means of funding the government's activities.”

Just to be sure you understand all of that; the government collects taxes to prevent consumers from spending too much, which would cause inflation. It does not collect taxes to raise money to operate programs benefiting the poor, for example, because it merely prints money to run those programs. It only collects taxes in order to prevent inflation and “regulate unemployment,” whatever that means.

So how did the “Trump tax cut” cause the decline in new home sales? Well, the tax cut caused runaway inflation, which we didn’t see but Dean Baker and the Federal Reserve did, when it soared to dizzying heights and got all the way up to 1.87% last year.

Never mind that the price of gasoline went up 74%, it’s all in how you measure things. Dean Baker and the Fed only measure the prices of things that people don’t buy. Food, energy and housing are not included, thus 1.87% inflation.

So, since Trump would not raise the taxes back up... (Wait, you get that? Trump didn’t actually cut taxes, and he can’t raise them. Only Congress can do that.)

Anyway, in order to reduce this runaway inflation, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, which it turns out is another way to control inflation. Actually, MMT is not the only economic theory which claims that interest rates can be used to control inflation; pretty much all of them do that. None of them say why it works; at least not in English. (The words are English, or at least most are, but…)

Some people would say that it was the interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve which caused the slump in new home sales, but Dean Baker would rather blame Donald Trump. He would blame Trump for the Russian Soyuz rocket failure if he thought anyone would believe him.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Burden of Proof

Democrats continue to set new lows in standards for burden of proof. The current example is an article in headlined, “The President Is in Violation of His Oath of Office,” by someone named Charles P. Pierce. I can’t find much about him other than that he “has been a working journalist since 1976” and has a background as a sports writer.

The odd thing is not that some sports writer turned blogger would write it, but that so many Democratic enthusiasts would link to and comment with so much enthusiasm in agreement with it. Typically comments are to the effect that this provides grounds for impeachment.

The subhead of the piece reads, “It appears Donald Trump is assisting a foreign government in a conspiracy to obstruct justice in the political murder of a resident of the United States,” but he becomes much more assertive than saying that something “appears” to be so in the article.

First he goes into a somewhat incoherent rant about Mike Pompeo and the Saudi regime, and then provides a completely incoherent ramble about the founding fathers and the “Emoluments Clause of the Constitution,” with a reference to a Twitter thread which is about as comprehensible as Twitter threads usually are. (Namely, not at all.)

Finally he reaches the destination of his torturous journey, and tears into Donald Trump. “There is absolutely no question,” he tells us, ”that the president is acting against the Constitution and in violation of his oath of office in continuing to conduct private business the way he and his family are conducting it.”

The constitution says that the president may not be paid money or given gifts by foreign governments, but it does not say that he cannot “conduct business,” and it certainly does not say that his family cannot do so.

He goes on to rant that that, “there is also absolutely no question that this hedging about the murderous Saudi royalty…” The part about “this hedging” is more than a bit odd, since this if the first mention of any hedging, and there is no description of what it consists of. But all of the previous verbal wandering should have led us not to expect much in the way of clarity from this guy.

He goes on to say that the “private business,” which he doesn’t describe, and the “hedging,” which he also doesn’t explain, are “for reasons that very likely have as much or more to do with his business interests as they do with oil or some vague threat from Iran.” And so we meet the burden of proof to state that “there is absolutely no question” because of actions that are “very likely” to be based on… Only a Democrat.

He then goes full spectrum space cadet and claims that this “private business” and “hedging” are “precisely what the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution was designed to prevent.” Um, sorry. Read that clause. It says nothing about the president doing private business, and it certainly makes no reference to “hedging,” whatever the hell that is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Titles That Make You Say, "Hmmm"

Today's food section has a recipe for "Turkey and Pumpkin Skillet Lasagna." Not having a pumpkin skillet, I don't think I can make that one.

Actually, regardless of the kind of skillet, Lasagna made with turkey (actually "turkey meatballs, sliced") and canned pumpkin? Really? I don't care if it is October, on what planet is that actually eaten?

Fuzzy Thinking

Hillary Clinton tosses off her husband’s White House sexual peccadillos with, “She was an adult.”   Hmmm, so were almost all of the “#MeToo” accusers. I guess the victim being an adult is a defense only when the accused’s wife is Hillary Clinton. Why, incidentally, is Hillary Clinton still in the news?

The big news, though, is that Elizabeth Warren brought out a DNA result, not from a laboratory, but from a research statistician, which shows a trace of Native American “heritage” anywhere from six to ten generations back.

The test does not differentiate between North American and South American DNA, so Ms. Warren may be 1/256th Columbian. Democrats are ecstatic, clamoring for her to run in 2020 so that we can have a female Native American in the White House.

They seem to be okay that it might be a female Native South American.

Based on this DNA test result, her claim that her father’s parents did not allow her father to marry her mother “because she was a Cherokee” (perhaps actually 1/128th Native South American), and that her parents were therefor forced to elope must be true.

In other news, the “establishment” is outraged that Saudi Arabia has executed a Saudi Arabia citizen who was residing in America. Earlier they didn’t care, and actually applauded, when President Obama executed an American citizen who was residing in the Middle East, and then iced that cake by executing the man’s son shortly afterward.

They also don’t care that Saudi Arabia, using American-supplied weapons and with the assistance of American military intelligence (to employ an oxymoron), is engaged in the wholesale slaughter of the the people of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia must, however, be punished for killing one of its citizens. Sort of odd from a nation which has not outlawed the death penalty despite its constitution forbidding “cruel or unusual punishment.”

One must conclude that the American government, and people, believe that death is neither cruel nor unusual, which sort of diminishes the credibility of any outrage over the death of one person at the hands of Saudi Arabia.

Hypocrisy, thy name is USA.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Fine Lines

My wife came into the room just as I was chuckling over something I had read in my book. She wanted to know what I had enjoyed so much. So I read to her the line I had enjoyed.

"Girl," one character had said to another, "you know better than to eat grits before they've had a chance to cool down."

She failed to see the humor. That's because she doesn't eat grits. Only someone who has had a mouthful of hot grits can truly enjoy that line.

Baker's Partisan Economics

Dean Baker loses his mind again in trying to prove that Democratic economics are better than Republican economics. He writes today that Wisconsin’s economy, led by a Republican governor, is “unimpressive” compared to neighboring Minnesota, which is led by a Democrat. I find the difference between the two states “unimpressive,” but judge for yourself.

He tells us that Wisconsin’s Republican unemployment is 3.0 percent, while Minnesota’s Democratic unemployment is a mere 2.9 percent. I am much less impressed by one tenth of one percent than he is.

He then tells us that Republican Wisconsin’s 5.0 percent wage increase in the past year doesn’t matter because “these numbers are extremely erratic.” He doesn’t tell us what wage increase was experienced in Democratic Minnesota last year because he doesn’t pay attention to erratic numbers.

I would suggest that month-to-month numbers are indeed very erratic. Numbers for an entire year? It may be very convenient to think so.

He does tells us that over the past eight years Wisconsin’s Republican wages rose 24.7 percent, while Minnesota’s Democratic wages rose a stratospheric 24.9 percent. Again, I am much less impressed by, in this case, two tenths of one percent than he is. It amounts to a difference of eight tenths of one percent which, in my book, is nothing more than a rounding error.

All of this, in my view, matching economic performance was accomplished while Democratic Minnesota raised taxes and Republican Wisconsin reduced taxes, which he cheerfully states is a point in Democratic Minnesota’s favor.

Because raising taxes is a good thing, even when the economy performs the same as one which reduced taxes. Let’s hear it for Democratic economics.

And, by the way, it doesn't seem to occur to Mr. Baker to consider the effect on the two tenths of a percent difference of wage increase between the states made by tax increase in one state and tax decrease in the other. Republican Wisconsin wages went up slightly less, but their taxes went down. Democratic Minnesota saw a slightly higher wage increase, but their taxes went up. Who came out ahead?

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Out of the mouths of...

Sometimes I listen to or read the words of today’s liberal mind, and I wonder if that person is capable of even thinking about what he/she is saying. Or of thinking at all for that matter.

Justice Elena Kagan, one of Obama’s liberal appointees to the Supreme Court was speaking at Princeton University the other day (of course, where else would she speak?) regarding the appointment of now Justice Kavanaugh and the loss of a “swing vote” with Justice Anthony Kennedy's departure from the bench.

"In the last, really 30 years,” she said, “starting with Justice O'Connor and continuing with Justice Kennedy, there has been a person who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way.” Notably, she did not include herself as being a Justice who was “of the center” or whose vote was ever non-partisan, so the role playing she did in her nomination process has been dropped altogether.

Nor did she offer herself as a possibility of becoming such a justice, which is ceratinly a telling point. "I am partisan and will remain so."

She went on to say that, “That enabled the court to look as though it was not owned by one side or another and was indeed impartial and neutral and fair." The emphasis was mine, and yes, she actually said that.

She is not concerned that the Supreme Court actually be “impartial and neutral and fair,” which would require all nine justices to be “impartial and neutral and fair,” she is only concerned that it look that way. That goal can be accomplished, in her mind, by having eight of the nine justices be partisan as all hell, four on each side, and one justice be “impartial and neutral and fair.”

It doesn’t occur to her, apparently, that the same thing could be accomplished by having just one justice on the Supreme Court, so long as he/she could be relied upon to be “impartial and neutral and fair.” Obviously, a Supreme Court with a single justice would be a ridiculous concept.

She doesn’t seem to believe that her plan of having four highly partisan liberal justices, four highly partisan conservative justices, and one “swing” justice who is “impartial and neutral and fair” is simply a non transparent form of having a Supreme Court consisting of a single justice.

Of course, she was appointed by a president who repeatedly said that we were in Afghanistan in order to “deny them space in which to plan their attacks.” All of which tends to confirm my growing belief that liberals are feeble minded.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

It's All in the Point of View

Alabama defeated Arkansas 65-31 yesterday, and coach Nick Saban is not a happy man. Winning by 34 points is no big deal to him; it merely what he expects of his team and actually counts as underperformance. Scoring 65 points is nothing more than meeting expectations. He is enormously pissed off that his defense gave up 31 points. Nick Saban football teams do not do that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, LSU lost, but at least it was to Florida, which is ranked 22, or was at the time. Auburn did them one better (worse), losing to Mississippi State, which was an unranked team. Utah, also unranked, handed Stanford its second consecutive loss, which comes close to being incomprehensible. Well, Bryce Love didn't play, but...

Texas defeated Oklahoma, and Northwestern won over Michigan State, two upsets which I had predicted as distinct possibilities, and the Aztecs won on the "smurf turf." All in all, an entertaining college football weekend.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Celebrating Hollow Victories

Democrats are dancing in the street over Bernie Sanders having forced Amazon to raise its minimum wage to $15/hour and, as is their wont, are celebrating without checking to see if their “victory” actually merits celebration. As is often the case, this one most certainly does not.

For one thing, while Amazon raised its minimum wage, it did not raise any other wages so while it used to be that a worker started at $10/hr and worked his way up to $16/hr, today’s workers will start at $15/hr and work their way up to, wait for it, $16/hr. That, folks, is not something that makes me feel like dancing in the street, and it gets worse.

At the same time that they raised the minimum wage, Amazon cancelled their “variable compensation pay” program, an incentive program that added between 8% and 16% to workers monthly pay. They also eliminated a stock contribution program, so the pay of workers making other than minimum wage has been reduced significantly.

Democrats do not care about this, because they are the party of symbolism rather than actual issues. They are once again celebrating a victory that in on the nature of “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.” It matters not that they accomplished something that is actually to the detriment of the workers involved, so long as they can point to an “increase in minimum wages” accomplished by demagoguery.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Only In California

Governor Moonbeam signed into law a bill requiring that corporations must have on their boards of directors at least one female by 2019, and at least two by 2021. This is irrespective of how many total directors are on the board.

Are they required to have any males on their board? Of course not. That would amount to discrimination against women, and we don't allow that in California. Somehow, however, in a manner that can be understood only by the female mind, requiring females is not discrimination against men.

Monday, October 01, 2018

It's All In The Name

Macedonia voted yesterday not to change its mane to “The Republic of North Macedonia,” which means it will not be allowed to join NATO. This is a devastating blow to both Macedonia and NATO.

Okay, I am through making silly statements for today. Well, perhaps not. We shall see. But that will fill my quota for hilariously absurd statements for today.

For those of you who don’t know, Greece is banning Macedonia from NATO because they have a province of the same name, and claim that the nation of Macedonia using the name constitutes a “claim on our territory.” Sort of like us claiming that since we have a state named Georgia, the nation of the same name near Russia should change its name to “The Republic of North Georgia” in order to avoid claims… Well, you get my point.

Actually, people in Columbus GA think that Atlanta is in a different state called “North Georgia,” and regard people who live in that city as quasi-Yankees. Some even further south in the state, say in Albany GA, would regard referring to Atlanta country as “North Georgia” as being overly polite.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Greece is unwilling to have a nation as a member of NATO which has the same name as one of their provinces, which is remarkably silly. That would be like us saying that the nation of Georgia cannot join NATO because we have a state named Georgia.

And yet here we are actively trying to get Georgia, the nation near Russia, not the state in the American South, to be allowed to join NATO, risking war with Russia to that end in fact, and we are perfectly willing for it to retain its present name.

This is the first time in more than two centuries than any nation has exceeded the United States in hubris.

We have invaded and militarily occupied other nations too many times to count. We have bombed other nations, subjected other nations to regime change and subverted the elections of other nations. We have sanctioned and blockaded other nations countless times. But we have never demanded that another nation change its name in order to join our club.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Click Bait Award

I don't know who the hell "Sputnik News" is. I seriously doubt they are a Russian news agency as someone undoubtedly wants us to believe. Anyway, they have a headline, which Google News reader has seen fit to pass on, reading "'Death Comet' Capable of Destroying Small State to Come Close To Earth."

The article does admit that no one knows for sure that it is actually a comet, only that its path indicates it may come from the area inhabited by comets, and that "close" means 2.5 million miles, which is not even hand grenade distance. Part of its breathless prose has to do with the amazing fact that this "near pass" will occur at Halloween and the thing is shaped like a skull, which obviously has deep and portentious meaning.

Yes, I clicked on the headline, but not to find out when I am going to die.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

San Diego Football

The new league, the American Alliance of Football begins play next February, right after the NFL SuperBowl, and the local organization just announced the name and colors for the San Diego team. My opinion is that they are off to a pretty good start.

Monday, September 24, 2018

As I Predicted

As I predicted, as soon as it began to appear that the "sexual misconduct" accusation by Ms. Blaysey-Ford would not be sufficient to derail the Kavanaugh nomination there would be additional accusers coming forward.

Well, it is indeed beginning to appear that Ms. Blaysey-Ford is nowhere near the pit bull that the job requires and, even worse, Gloria Allred has not signed on so, sure enough, here comes a woman who claims that he "exposed himself" to her while he was a student at Yale. There were, of course, no witnesses to the event. Additionally, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels claims to have evidence that Kavanaugh was part of a date rape drugging ring on a massive scale while at Yale. We all knew this was coming.

Friday, September 21, 2018

New Rule?

Apparently the NFL has a new rule that allows a team to remove seven points from their opponent's score? Perhaps not. The local sportscaster informed us tonight that the Cleveland Browns were trailing the New York Jets yesterday at halftime 14-0, but that after Baker Mayfield came in they went on to win the game 21-7. Nice trick. Magic?

Actually, they were trailing 14-0, but not at halftime. Mayfield came into the game late in the first half and promptly led them to a field goal, leaving the Browns trailing 14-3 at halftime. And, no, they did not remove seven points from the Jets' score; they went on to win the game by a score of 21-17. Somebody might need some practice reading the teleprompter.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Mouse Killer

My optical mouse rather suddenly lost its vertical scrolling ability. Computer virus? Nope. I plucked enough cat hair out of it to indicate that my damned cat should be bald. Must be a “critical mass” thing, because it worked fine up until it rather suddenly went, “pfffht.”  Enough remained inside the mouse, unfortunately, that vertical scrolling remained erratic and annoying as hell.

Cats apparently grow fur as fast as they shed it, because Molly is far from being bald. A new mouse solved the problem, so she can begin killing this one now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Protecting Chicago In California

Because of "rising gun violence nationwide," the Del Mar Fairgrounds decided to ban all gun shows after the end of this year. They obviously had a mountain of evidence that thugs from Chicago are coming to California to buy weapons and returning home to commit murder with them. Clearly, that is the only reason that anyone would buy a firearm in southern California.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Timing Is Everything

The claim by Serena Williams that tennis is rife with sexism would be a bit more credible if it did not come on the heels of her loss in a major championship match. It would also be more credible if the tiff with the referee somehow caused a man to win the trophy. The tirade which led to her claim being just the most recent in a long series of similar ones might also mitigate against her.

Notice, too, that the original initial claims of "sexual misconduct" against Lester Moonves were not sufficient to drive him out of his job as the head of CBS, especially since he claimed he was not guilty. Now more claims have been leveled, resulting in a headline that, "Les Moonves is out at CBS after harassment allegations."

Allegations. Not even criminal allegations, "harassment allegations." Once again, claims of innocence merely result in piling on and conviction without trial.

Sunday, September 09, 2018


We should have had a lot of really high scoring games because none of the defensive players are able to tackle. We did not because none of the receivers are able to catch the ball and none of the running backs are able to hold on to it. What a farce. Sixty minute contests of ineptitude. And to think, these buffoons are paid up to $150 million per year.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Oh Shit, Oh Dear Me

My Humana drug plan (pharmaceuticals, actually; I don’t do drugs) sends me regular notices on where I am with respect to the “donut hole,” at which point something happens with respect to my payment for medications. Don’t ask me what, because my IQ is obviously too low to comprehend Medicare Part D.

The implication in the media is that while in the “donut hole” one has to pay the entire cost of medication, but that is not so according to Humana. For what follows, be aware that one hits the hole based on the total cost of medications for the year-to-date, not based on what one has paid. That’s why, presumably, Humana keeps me informed of what they paid as well as what I've paid.

So Humana tells me that they have paid $x and I have paid $y, and that those two numbers combined mean that I will hit the donut hole in about a month from now. Then, they tell me, I will have to pay “about 58% of the cost” of medications until I exit the donut hole, which obviously will not happen given that it took me until October to enter the furshluginner hole.

So I do a little basic calculating with $x and $y, and I find that paying 58% of the cost of medications may not be the disaster that one might think, since I have been paying 54% of the total cost all year before I hit the donut hole. I’m not sure what to think about that.

Thursday, September 06, 2018


I need to take up watching soccer. Well, maybe not. Perhaps women's roller derby or professional frisbee golf. The NFL Players Association has destroyed the NFL. No contact in practice sessions, and the first string does not play during preseason, so at game time there are 22 idiots on the field who have no clue what to do or how to do it. Add new rules which require a defensive lineman to tackle a quarterback without landing on top of him. What little scoring occurs does so only because the defense went to sleep. Forty penalties in sixty minutes of play.

I had two players in last night's game on my Fantasy Football team, one from each team, and my projected score went down in the course of the game. LSU or Alabama could have trounced either one of the "professional" teams on Lincoln Financial Field last night.

Monday, September 03, 2018

College Football Weekend

Silly question of the week award goes to Holly Rowe of ESPN at halftime of the Miami/LSU game, asking the Miami coach, "You're 0-6 on third down, coach, what do you want to change about that?" Duh, think about that for a moment, Holly, and then answer it yourself.

Perennial question of the week is why do we have "aerial coverage provided by Goodyear" (blimp) for football games which are held in fully enclosed domed stadiums? (Stadia?)

Performance of the week goes to my Tigers of LSU, who convincingly defeated 8th ranked Miami, controlling every aspect of the game from start to finish. Preseason expectations were minimal for their running game, anticipating it to be "by committee," but a headliner may have emerged in the person of a replacement Cajun for Leonard Fournette, this one named Nick Brosette, with 22 carries for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns. This against a justifiably highly ranked Miami defense.

All 7 teams in the SEC West won this weekend, and 6 of 7 in the SEC East did as well, but only Auburn and LSU played quality opponents, and Auburn won ugly. The rest beat tomato cans, so it's too early to start crowing, but...

San Diego State, my other team, was just embarrassing. As much as I like Rocky Long, this was a massive coaching error. Bryce Love gashed SD State for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns last year, but SD State still won the game. This year Rocky played defense to stop Love, and did so, holding him to 29 yards for the game. In the process, though, he gave up 332 yards and 4 touchdowns to Stanford's passing game and not only lost the game, but did so in a blowout manner. The problem was clearly visible early in the third quarter, and Rocky got bullheaded and stayed with a losing game plan.

Oh, yes, slightly off topic but this weekend. NASCAR continues its "first one out of the pits on the last pit stop wins" performance at Darlington. Kyle Larson led 284 of the 367 laps, but Brad Keselowski beat him out of the pits after the final caution, led the final 24 laps, and won the race. It was the only time he led. Sigh.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

No on Free Speech

The California Democratic Party Chairman called for a boycott of In-n-Out Burger because they donated $25,000 to the Republican Party, which makes it official that the Democratic Party does not believe in free speech, at least not unless you agree with them. "We don't need no steenkin democracy."

Mr. Bauman failed to notice the part of In-n-Out's press release which said that they also donated $50,000 to a Democratic PAC known as "Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy" in 2018, twice the Republican donation, and $30,00 to the same PAC in each of the years 2017 and 2016. So maybe Republicans should be the ones boycotting the chain?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Busy Week Upcoming

My survival of the upcoming week might be in question. It will be busy.

There will be no fewer than four "must watch" college football games. San Diego State at Stanford, Washington at Auburn, Michigan at Notre Dame and Miami at LSU. I may also record Louisville at Alabama and West Virginia at Tennessee for later viewing. I watched Northwestern at Purdue last night.

For things with wheels, there is the Southern 500 at Darlington, perhaps my favorite race track. Indycar races on the road course at Portland, and Formula 1 has the Belgian Grand Prix.

My Fantasy Football draft is Tuesday evening, and the NFL season opens with two of my favorite teams, Atlanta at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

My wife may sprain something rolling her eyes, and the cat is nervous that it's going to be a long football season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ready, Aim, Fire

It’s sort of like shooting yourself in the foot and then bragging about how you proved that the gun works as designed and punches holes in things.

Duncan Hunter has held his Republican congressional seat for five years, after his father held it for 28 years. The Democrats have a chance to take it away from him, given that he has been indicted for “campaign violations,” consisting of spending some $250K in campaign funds for personal purposes.

So they nominate a person named Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is of Mexican and Arab heritage. Not altogether surprisingly, some two months after he was indicted, Duncan Hunter is leading in the polls by eight points, and Democrats are complaining that CA-50 is populated by a bunch of racist pigs.

Well, yes, it is, but the Democrats knew that before they nominated this guy. So they made their point about how “socially inclusive” they are, and they made a die-hard “red district” in rural southern California look bad, but what did it really do for the Democrats in a practical sense? They will have one fewer vote in Congress, and have diminished their chances of passing their agenda.

Much, too, like the driver who knows he has the right of way, so decides to just hit the guy who is running the red light because that guy is in the wrong. “He was right, dead right as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018


Conor Daly, usually an Indycar driver but taking a turn in the Xfinity series today, had his sponsorship by Lilly (a major pharmaceutical company) withdrawn due to a “racial slur” uttered by his father in 1991, some ten years before Conor was born. Tony Kanaan, a fellow Indycar driver, was the only one to comment, calling the action “ridiculous.”

Thomas Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was arrested Friday in New York City on charges of “sexual abuse, forcible touching and harassment.” The only specifics I have been able to find is that he put his hand on a woman’s posterior, on the outside of her clothing, without her permission.

I certainly do not condone that behavior, but does it justify being arrested by the FBI, having your hands cuffed behind your back, and being perp walked out of your place of business in front of the media?

He has not denied the charge, probably because he knows a denial would only result in nine or ten more women piling on. When this movement started I was certainly sympathetic, and supportive, but it has gotten out of control. It is no longer about justice, it is vendetta.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Here We Go Again

For many years we have been being told that modest consumption of alcohol is actually good for you, improving heart health, and that everyone should drink a couple of glasses of wine daily. (Except alcoholics, of course, but they don't say that.) Now a "large new report" is screeching at us that actually "there is no safe level of alcohol" consumption.

Just as they did with coffee, back and forth. Why do we pay any attention to any of these studies?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Modern Morality

In celebrating the conviction (by Michael Cohen's confession) and pending impeachment of President Trump for "campaign finance violation" we are turning the victim of blackmail into a criminal and not only giving the blackmailer a walk, but are booking her on national tours in furtherance of the display of her pornographic talents. This is today's form of democracy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Identity Politics

In the past few weeks Democrats have celebrated the following victories in primary elections. They have nominated two Muslim women. They have put the first transgender woman on the ballot for mayor of a major city. They have put two female candidates for US Senate on the ballot in California, for the second such election in a row. They have put a 28-year-old bartender named Ocasio-Cortez on the ballot in a district which is 68% Puerto Rican, who professes to be a Democratic Socialist, unseating a three-term Democrat.

Do you see a trend here? They are celebrating not the policies which these candidates espouse, but their identities. They are not electing candidates who espouse policies which will benefit the nation as a whole. They elect candidates because they are identities which are championed by the Democratic Party: women, minority, LGBTQ, Muslim…

If you are male, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are white, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are straight, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you identify as the same sex that is on your birth certificate, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are Catholic, do not even bother to run in a Democratic district.

Notice, in that last paragraph, I never mentioned policies.

Update: Saturday, 7:30am
"...but what," Bruce asks, "are they going to actually do?"

You miss the point entirely, my boy. They are not going to do anything.

Democratic politics is not about doing anything, it is about being.

It is about being special (gay, female, trans, etc.) and about not being Trump.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Democracy Speaks?

I read an article yesterday in which the impeachment of Donald Trump was mentioned and, for at least the third time in the past month, read that “Nancy Pelosi has taken that option off the table.” It continues to strike me as odd.

First, Democrats have to win control of the House of Representatives. They say that is going to happen in 2018, but they also said they were certain of winning the White House in 2016, and we all know how that turned out.

Then Nancy Pelosi has to be elected by her peers as Speaker of the House, and that appears to be by no means the slam dunk that she seems to think it is. Granted, the link is to Fox News, but there are others. The Democratic Party is increasingly being influenced by the Ocasio-Cortez crowd and they are, to say the least, not enamored of the likes of Nancy Pelosi.

Finally, even if Democrats do take the house and Pelosi does become Speaker, how is that her choice to make? Unless 434 other members of the House have a voice in making that decision, then one would have to say that the Democratic Party is about the least democratic organization in politics.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Oh, Good Thinking

The endless slog to expand the San Diego convention center refuses to die. Despite grocery shoppers being accosted daily for two months no matter which store they patronized or at what hour they did their shopping ("Are you a San Diego voter?"), the effort to get the convention center expansion "initiative" on the ballot for the upcoming election failed to get enough signatures and did not make the ballot. Cry me a river.

At least not as a "public initiative," which would require just a 50% affirmative vote to pass. The City Government is considering putting it on the ballot as a government proposal, which would require a two-thirds affirmative vote for passage. Consider the wisdom of that. It could not get enough signatures to get on the ballot, but the city thinks it might get two thirds of voters to vote "yes."

Of course, we already knew that we are governed at all levels by idiots.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Two Things Which Baffle Me

First is the endless screeching about who hacked the DNC servers without ever paying the slightest attention to the indisputable fact revealed by that hack, which is that the Hillary Clinton faction clearly and blatantly rigged the Democratic primary election.

We are outraged and terrified in equal proportion by the Russians meddling in our elections, but both political parties are utterly indifferent to the Democrats doing so.

Second is to wonder at the present screeching about the Russians continuing to meddle in elections, and touting the heinous degree to which they are doing so already in the 2018 midterm election. What is to be gained by all of that fear mongering?

I can see Democrats trying to discredit an election after they lost it (well, not really, but there is at least some logic to it), but why discredit in advance an election which you claim that you expect to win?

What Makes This One Special?

The national news has featured daily updates on a missing girl for the past week or so. There does not seem to be anything special about the circumstances under which she disappeared; her boyfriend was in a different state on vacation at the time, she did not disappear from a party… She just went out on an errand and never came back.

From the day that the story first began airing I have been wondering what sets this case apart from what has to be thousands of other missing person cases and sure enough, one reporter today commented that she is one of more than 88,000 current open missing persons cases.

So what makes her worthy of daily updates on the national news, with no mention of any of the other 87,999 cases? Perhaps it has to do with the families of those other cases, who are not sufficiently wealthy to offer a $100,000 reward for information as to the whereabouts of their missing family members.

Sometimes the way this nation functions is a profound embarrassment to me.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

The Law Is An Ass

I don’t recall the source of the title. Probably Shakespeare.

Congress voted on this DACA law twice, and both times failed to pass it. Obama, as part of his highly unconstitutional “if Congress won't act then I will” policy, made it law by executive order. Democrats applauded wildly, while Republicans and others who can read the constitution, which included me, decried it as executive overreach.

Trump then created an executive order canceling Obama’s executive order, thereby bringing DACA to a halt. The principle behind his thinking was that all presidents are equal, and that what one president can do by executive order, another president can undo by executive order.

Apparently not. A judge this week ordered the DACA program reinstated, saying that the Trump administration had “failed to justify eliminating it.” Apparently, the fact that it was created by an executive order written for the specific purpose of thwarting the will of Congress did not constitute justification.

Not that I think DACA is a bad program, and I was thoroughly pissed off at Congress for failing to pass it, but I’m something of a fan of this nation’s constitution, and was horrified by Obama’s blatant contempt for that document with his “if Congress won’t act then I will” policy.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Worth Notice

Well, probably not, actually, but Johnny Manziel ("Johnny Football" of Texas A&M fame) made his first start at quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League today, and left the game in the third quarter after throwing four interceptions, with the Alouettes down by a score of 41-3.

The Rest of the Story

Leslie Moonves is being charged with all sorts of sexual improprieties, none of them very recent, and demands are being made that he step down as head of CBS or that he be suspended by the network. As is today’s normal, he is presumed guilty, not only before conviction in a court of law, but before even being charged by any legal entity which could bring him into a courtroom.

What the media is not reporting is that Moonves is in a battle with Shari Redstone, controlling stockholder of CBS and of Viacom. She wants to merge the two giant media companies, while Moonves does not. Can there be much doubt that these accusations are a campaign by Redstone to discredit Moonves in order to achieve her corporate goals, and is it surprising that the media which is financially controlled by her is assisting her in that campaign?

This is the nature of the justice system in The United States today.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Medicare Adventure

I received an email from Medicare informing me that my new card had been mailed and that if I had not yet received it I should call 1-800-MEDICARE.

The first problem is that the word "Medicare" contains eight letters, so the phone number they gave me contains one too many digits. On some phones that creates no problem because the phone simply quits accepting numbers after you enter eleven digits, but on mine you enter the number and push "Talk," at which point the phone rudely tells you the number is invalid. You then have to determine which digit Medicare intended for you to omit. It isn't rocket science to decide they intended for you to omit the last one, but...

Then you have to go through having a lengthy conversation with a recording, in which it tells you what you "may say." I hate those furshlugginer things. It didn't tell me I could say for it to perform a reproductive act on itself, so I refrained from doing so and finally got a human being.

It turned out my new card had, in fact, not been mailed and I decided not to ask why they had sent me an email saying that it had been mailed if it had actually not been. I was trying to stay focused on what I wanted to accomplish and was, in any case, quite sure that not only would he not have an answer but that the question itself would create a serious distraction.

Even without the distraction, things went nowhere but downhill. We live on a street named Caminito Pintoresco, which is Spanish for "picturesque little street." It actually fits the name fairly well, and it's a great place to live, but it would be better if it was on, maybe First Avenue or something, because nobody outside of San Diego can even pronounce our street name, let alone make any sense of the spelling. (Tucson AZ gets ridiculous with street names, by the way, coming up with things like Calle sin Vaca, which means "street without a cow.")

At the person’s request, I recited our address and he said that the address he had was on “Caminito Pintores,” with no “co” on the end and that perhaps that explained why the new card was not mailed.

I’m like, “What?” and he went on that if the address “does not match” then they will not mail the card. I asked him what the address had to match with, and the conversation deteriorated into gibberish, because he only had the one address and had no idea what it might need to match against, only that it needed to “match.”

He finally abandoned the idea of it matching anything and said that if the address was “wrong” they would not mail the card, but did not explain how they would know it was wrong, or what he meant by “wrong.” Nonexistant? No such street?

I addressed the fact that if the database field did not allow enough characters for the long address, then Caminito could be abbreviated Cmto to allow the name Pintoresco to be fully spelled out, but he assured me that was not the issue because they had many addresses which were much longer than mine.

He explained that the address they were using to mail my Medicare card was in the Social Security database and that I would have to contact Social Security in order to change it, and we left it at that.

There are, however, so many things wrong with that explanation that it’s hard to know where to start, the first being the question of why Medicare is using the Social Security database for the addresses to mail Medicare cards, when Medicare is not part of the Social Security Administration, it is part of Health and Human Services.

Next is that Social Security mails things to me all the time, using the address that SSA has for me on “Caminito Pintores” and stuff they mail to me reaches me just fine, so I have no idea why Medicare would think that is a “wrong” or unusable address.

Medicare has my address and mails statements to me on a regular basis, and the street name they use is “Caminito Pintoresco,” which might be beginning to shed some light on the “address match” issue. It may be that Medicare requires that the Social Security address match the Medicare address, although why they would do that is a bit baffling.

I went to the Social Security website and changed my address so that Medicare can send me a card, which is sort of like going to the Del Taco website to order a Big Mac, and saw that Social Security does indeed have my street name as “Caminito Pintores.” (Except that it’s in all caps which I’m not going to use here.)

So I attempted to add the “co” on the end and discovered that what they have is the maximum allowable in the field. The street address is limited to 22 characters, which is utterly ridiculous. Probably half the street addresses in the nation are longer than that.

It also proves that the rocket scientist I was talking to at Medicare was as clueless as I thought he was, and that they certainly do not have “lots of addresses longer than” mine.

I went ahead and changed the street on my Social Security address to “Cmto Pintoresco,” because it’s neater that way, but that would not seem to help in getting me a Medicare card because it still does not match the address that Medicare has for me.

I have absolutely no clue as to where to go from here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Indirect Measurement

When I want to know how much I weigh I step on a scale, read the dial, and find that I weigh 235 pounds. Plus or minus a little from time to time, but I stay close to that. Same as I weighed in high school, by the way, although distributed a bit differently,

If the government wanted to know how much I weigh they would launch me in a rocket into orbit around the moon, then use my orbital speed around the moon and distance from the lunar surface to calculate my weight. They would then botch the process entirely by adding the phase of the moon into the calculation and come up with the answer that my “seasonally adjusted” weight is 428#.

It’s called “indirect measurement,” and it not only gets the wrong answer much of the time, it’s usually incredibly more expensive to perform than a direct measurement would be. Such as launching me into lunar orbit to determine, inaccurately, how much I weigh.

If the government wanted to know how many people are employed, they could go to the Social Security database and query, “how many unique numbers had transactions?” in a certain period, and they would have their answer in a few minutes. They would have to tap a couple other computers in similar fashion to get the count of government workers who are not subject to Social Security withholding, but the process could be made all-inclusive quite easily.

It is claimed that they cannot do that due to “privacy reasons,” but that is utter nonsense. The database query can be asked and answered without knowing anything whatever about any of the data other than how many numbers were involved; say, 84,650,133 records with different identification numbers had wages reported in the month of July.

So what the government does is have thousands of government employees make phone calls to tens of thousands of putative workers and ask them questions about their work and personal habits, questions which are presumably not invasions of privacy. They then do some fancy mathematical extrapolation with that sample of the population to extend it to the population as a whole and apply some mysterious “seasonal adjustments” to report the number of people who are working.

The government also has thousands of government employees making phone calls to tens of thousands of businesses ask them questions about their current hiring. They then do the same kind of fancy mathematical extrapolation with that sample to extend it to all businesses and apply similar mysterious “seasonal adjustments” to report the number of people who are employed.

The number of working people reported by the “Household Survey” often differs wildly from the number of employed persons reported by the “Business Survey,” but that doesn’t seem to make anyone disbelieve either number. They just use which ever number suits their purpose, and no one asks any questions about the validity of the methods by which we arrive at these numbers,

Similarly, if we want to know the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy it would seem to be a pretty simple matter to turn to the federal government’s income tax database and add up the reported incomes of the entities which are producing goods and services.

But no, we measure, instead, how much consumers are spending on goods and services. Then we add how much the government is spending on goods and services. Then we subtract the portion of that spending which is items being bought from overseas, and we add the items being produced which are being sent overseas and which, therefor, aren’t reflected in internal spending. Finally, we add “investment,” which is a term so loosely defined as to be almost meaningless. Buying a US Treasury bond, for instance, is not “investment” in terms of contributing to the GDP.

So we measure the Gross Domestic Product not by measuring production, but by measuring consumption. And, in addition to getting a number which is probably wrong, we get a number which, in terms of measuring the economic health of our nation, is utterly meaningless.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Losing Narrative

Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and the rise of younger generations who prefer socialism to capitalism, who actually regard capitalism as evil, betray a failure in this nation of the ability to think critically and an inability to see the fallacy in the promise of “free health care and free higher education for all.”

This nation enjoyed enormous prosperity in the 1950s, 60s and well into the 70s; a prosperity which embraced the middle and working classes as much if not more than any other. The economic system which was in place and which drove that prosperity was almost entirely capitalism.

Socialism as the primary engine of an economy has never provided significant prosperity for any part of any nation which embraced it. Not once in the entire history of structured economic systems.

What has destroyed the prosperity of today's working class is the perversion of the economic system by the destruction of the balance of power between business and labor which was provided by a system of collective bargaining. That destruction has been driven by the corruption of legislative bodies, members of which we keep reelecting at an 85% rate, and which we continue to look to for solution of the problem which they created to begin with. We blame business for asking them to create that destruction, but is the legislators who actually did it, and they did it for the most base reason. They did it for money.

We keep asking the governing bodies to pass laws strengthening labor unions. Why would the legislatures do that? They are the ones who passed the laws gutting them in the first place. You seriously think they are going to recreate the labor unions that they so carefully destroyed in the first place?

Don't let anyone fool you with the mantra that Medicare is socialism and that it presents some kind of solution. It is not and it does not. In socialism the government controls the means of production of goods and services, and Medicare does not fit that description. Medicare is delivered by private parties, capitalists, and only payment is controlled by government. And even that control of payment is an illusion, because the parties delivering the goods and services fix the prices through anti-competitive measures and through the same bribery of legislatures which drives all legislation.

Anyone who touts Medicare as an example of the benefits of socialism does not know what socialism is, and does not know of the hundreds of millions of dollars annually that are lost to fraud and overpayment through that health care system. Those losses are not decreasing, they are increasing.

The Veteran’s Administration is an example of socialism in medical care and, while for the most part it delivers quality care these days, it is does not have adequate resources to deliver that care to the population it is supposed to serve, veterans, and is having to farm out some of that population to the private health care system.

That is precisely why socialism has never delivered prosperity when serving as the foundation of the economic system of any significant population; it runs out of resources. Simply speaking, it over promises and under delivers, and it cannot do otherwise because there is not enough of anything for everyone to have as much of it as they want, and so the system collapses.

Does that mean that private enterprise is a better provider of goods and service than government in all instances? Of course it means nothing of the sort. Anyone with half a brain would gasp in horror at the thought of returning fire protection to the hands of private fire companies. It was clear in the late 1800’s that was not really a workable system, and no major city even thinks about being without public fire protection today.

But having a handful of public services provided by government and having socialism as the basis of our entire economic system are two vastly different things, and anyone who cannot see the difference is seriously lacking in critical thinking skills.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Media "Events"

If you would like to know what actually happened at the Helsinki press conference, rather than just what the media is screaming about, you can read the transcript here.

Unlike Trump’s response to the question about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which was muddled and not particularly on point, Putin’s was clear, concise and very much on point, beginning with, “We should not rely on the momentary political interests of some internal political forces in our countries but on facts. Tell me at least one fact that proves collusion during the election campaign in the United States. This is total nonsense.”

No double talk or evasion there. He goes on to say, “We heard accusations against the company Concord. As I understand it, this company hired American lawyers, and the accusations against it just fell apart in a US court. Just follow what happens in US courts. This is what you should base your view on, not on rumors.”

Of course the media is not quoting Putin, because he says things that make sense. And, by the way, his statement about the accusations against Concord is completely factual. Yes, we should judge people based on what happens in a court, but we no longer do. If a man is accused of “sexual misconduct,” for instance, his life is ruined by the mere accusation. Trial in court and conviction is not necessary.

The media is outraged that Putin suggested that Mueller come to Russia to cooperate with Russian authorities in questioning the twelve persons named in the latest indictment. They don’t, of course, mention the part of that suggestion in which Putin says, “There is the Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1999.”

Nor do they quote where he says,”…this has proven effective. We initiate up to 150 legal proceedings in Russia at the request of other countries.”

The media did not mention Putin’s comments that in return for that cooperation, and pursuant to that treaty, Russia might expect American assistance with investigation of an American hedge fund which, “…illegally made over $1.5 billion in Russia, did not pay taxes either in Russia or the United States, but transferred this money to the United States,” and, “contributed $400 thousand to Ms. Clinton’s election campaign.”

Obviously the media did not quote his statement about having “grounds to suspect that US intelligence officers supported these illegal transactions.”

The reporter then insisted that Trump be very specific in calling Putin a liar on the international stage right then and there which was, at best, disrespectful to both leaders. “Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?”

Trump sort of waffled, drawing great howls of outrage from the media. Putin rather blatantly insulted the media, which of course is not quoting him. “Is the United States a democratic state? If so, then the final ruling in a dispute of this kind can only be made in court, not an intelligence service.” He made this same point earlier, and was ignored.

He then wonders why we are so worried about interference in our elections. “You have many people, including those with major billion-dollar fortunes, such as Mr Soros. He interferes everywhere he can.” Well, we’re certainly not going to pursue that issue.

Interestingly, Putin has the rather bizarre idea that we should treat Russia as a sovreign nation, and not as a domestic political football. "We can expand this cooperation, as I already mentioned, but only on a reciprocal basis. … Let's discuss these matters in substance rather than use Russia-US relations as a bargaining chip in the domestic political strife in the United States.”

The person who asked that question, of course, had no follow-up.

My favorite answer of the evening was to the “reporter” who asked if Putin had some damaging information on Trump which he could use to control him. “It is hard to imagine bigger nonsense," Putin replied. "Please get this rubbish out of your head.”

A Sense of Community

The Thai football team has kind of touched my heart since they have returned to public after being rescued from that cave. Their display of reverence for the retired Marine who lost his life in the rescue operation is remarkable. Every one of the boys have expressed gratitude for his sacrifice, a sense of the debt that they owe to him, and knowledge of the suffering that they have caused to his family. It does them and their culture much credit.

The coach said that he “will live my life very carefully” to assure that the man’s death was not in vain. Wow.

The whole group has talked about their sense of the difficulty that their plight caused for their families, their community, and for all who participated in rescuing them. It is profoundly moving to see a group of young people who have such a strong sense of being part of a greater whole.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ineptitude Increases

Further displaying its position as the most inept “special investigation” in the history of this nation, Mueller & Company included in the charge that the twelve criminals they were charging are, “members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military."

That’s sort of like saying that the FBI is an investigation agency within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

GRU are the initials of the Russian words for “Main Intelligence Directorate,” so the GRU is not within the Main Intelligence Directorate, the GRU is the Main Intelligence Directorate.

Further, in 2010 the name of the Russian agency in question was changed to Intelligence Directorate and has been known since then as the GU.

So Mueller & Company are saying that the meddling in our election was directed by Putin because the people who did it presently work for a Russian government agency that has not existed, at least not under the name that they use, for eight years.

And we are supposed to be taking these clowns seriously?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mortification Continues

So, another 12 Russian individual citizens have been indicted by Mr. Mueller for “engaging in a ‘sustained effort’ to hack Democrats' emails and computer networks.” Because, apparently, our Justice Department believes that Russian citizens are subject to American laws. They do not make clear why they believe that to be the case.

The Deputy Attorney General informs us that, "There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result," so they are not only filing indictments under American laws against persons who are not subject to those laws, they are doing so because nothing happened.

And, of course, they make this announcement the eve of the President of this nation meeting with Vladimir Putin. If you think that is a coincidence, then I would like to talk to you about making a deal on a very nice bridge in Brooklyn.

I am, at this point, profoundly embarrassed to be a citizen of this nation.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Molly was just hanging out, being cool and purring on my desk, when a bird landed in the tree just outside the window. She instantly was on her feet and at the window, belly low to the ground, head thrust forward, ears back and exhibiting all of the frenetic motion of a chunk of granite.

In less than one second she had gone from being this adorable little fuzzy toy to the prototype of a predator. Dogs can’t do that. Even at their most playful, dogs show evidence of what they are. Cats, however, look so cuddly and peaceful at rest, and yet they are in reality one of nature’s most efficiently designed predators, and they can go from one to the other in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Here We Go Again

Another “initiative” is apparently headed to San Diego’s fall ballot, this one painting with a rather broad brush in planning to fund a convention center expansion, benefit the city’s homeless population, and fund repairs to our deteriorating streets by raising the hotel tax by 3.35%. Note that is a 35% increase of the existing 10.5% tax on hotel rooms.

Politicians are very proud of this one, coining the phrase, “Visitors pay, and San Diegans benefit.” Lovely. Perish the thought that San Diegans should actually pay for their own road repairs and civic infrastructure.

I have an idea. Let’s raise the hotel tax to 85% and eliminate local taxes altogether, so that visitors could pay for things like trash pickup.

Raising the hotel tax is not going to reduce tourism, because Anaheim has a 15% hotel tax. Right. Anaheim also has Disneyland. We are not by any means the only town with Pacific beaches. San Diego County alone has eight.

All kidding aside, this mania of “we want to have nice things and we want someone else to pay for them” is a national mantra which, to me, amounts to a very real sickness; a sense of entitlement to unearned wealth which is weakening us as a nation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Overt Media Bias

The CBS affiliated local news ran a very strange piece last night about a woman and her daughter who incurred injuries while riding on a rented motorized scooter on a Mission Beach boardwalk. The piece painted the two as some sort of innocent victims of some horrible misfeasance because the company which rented them the scooter allowed them to “ride along the Mission Beach boardwalk last Friday” and caused them to have an accident in which “they collided with pedestrians.”

The pedestrians with whom the motorized scooter collided were not mentioned in the piece, other than as objects which got hit by the motorized scooter, and were not interviewed for the news item. News 8 did not consider them to be victims, and was not interested either in their fate or viewpoint of the incident.

The father/husband, who was not present, admitted that the two females “were sharing a scooter and not wearing a helmet,” both violations, but defended them by saying that, “They're not from here they don't know the history of this issue. They just did what everybody else is doing.”

I can’t tell you how many times my parents asked me when I was a kid that if everybody else was jumping off a ten story building would I do the same just because they were. When I was growing up children were not raised to become lemmings, but apparently today they are.

The victims, here, are the pedestrians who were hit by the idiots riding the scooter. The riders were not victims, as portrayed by News 8, they were idiots who were engaging in thoughtless and reckless behavior. The rental company was derelict in failing to provide proper safety notices, such as the need to wear helmets, but that was not really covered in the news piece.

News 8 is doing what the media considers to be it’s mission today, pushing a legislative agenda, in this case regulating these motorized scooters and/or banning them from boardwalks. The news item begins, in fact, by placing the event merely as prelude to the demand for legislation, stating that, “A man whose child and ex-wife were seriously injured in a scooter crash over the weekend on Monday called for a boardwalk ban.”

The man, ex-wife and daughter all live in Arizona, by the way, so News 8 wants to assist people from out of state to come here and tell us how to run our city.
I don’t think so.