Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy 2016 (Almost)

It's the last day of the 2015 and the great thing about any New Year is that it is a "reset button". All of the drama, craziness, and hysteria can just be left behind and hope is restored with the promise of a new year. I would write a review of 2015, but there is no one better at this than one of my favorite humorists, Dave Barry. Get ready to double over in laughter, so don't read this while operating heavy machinery. Enjoy.

"Dave Barry's 2015 Year In Review"

We won't know how 2016 plays out, but there is a least one thing you need to know right now and it's really serious problem that will only resolve itself at the end of next year. I am putting this issue on the table because, as they say, to be forewarned is to be forearmed, right? So take a deep breath and here it is...typing "2016" is really hard! That "6" is not conveniently placed on the Querty keyboard! But take it slowly and with diligence and lots of practice, it will get easier. I promise!


On a serious note, I would like to thank Andrew, Kit, and all the great people here at CommentaramaPolitics. Your continued insights, humor, and real discussion is always inspiring. Now let's get through this election cycle without going completely insane! Thank you and let 2016 games begin for real...
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Peyton Manning: The Anatomy of A Hit Piece

In the last few days, we have seen an amazing example of a “journalistic” hit piece. This comes in the form of a false story about Peyton Manning which was pimped so hard by ProFootballTalk that I honestly hope Manning sues the site and NBC, its owner.

The story began with a report by Al Jazeera based on undercover reporting by scandal-ridden British hurdler Liam Collins. The story was that Peyton Manning secretly used human growth hormone (HGH), a banned substance, while he was a patient at the Guyer Institute in 2011. Charles Sly claimed to be on the team that treated Manning, claimed to have personal knowledge of Manning coming to the institute after hours to receive shots of HGH, and claimed that the Institute then sent HGH to Manning’s wife in Florida.

The story is false. Indeed, it was quickly discovered that while Sly was an unpaid intern at the Guyer Institute for three months, that wasn’t until two years after Manning ended his treatment there. So he couldn’t have seen anything. What’s more, Sly recanted his story the moment he realized he had been taped making it. In interviews, Sly has admitted that he made this story up because he thought Collins had contacts in English Premier League soccer and he used Manning’s name (among others) to impress Collins with his ability to get banned drugs to athletes.

Enter Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

I’ve talked about Florio before. He’s a lousy lawyer from West Virginia who used his contacts with certain agents to build a rumor site that NBC bought. Many of his stories are so steeped in paranoia that it’s easy to see him hidden in a bunker holding a gun toward the door as he types out his typo-ridden crap. He’s also a Tom Brady apologist and a Peyton Manning hater for whatever reason. This is important because Florio is a man who spent months parsing every statement made against Brady and attacking his accusers, yet you are about to see something very different here.

Florio’s first article on the issue came late on the 26th. It was rather benign. It noted the allegation in detail. It noted that Manning completely denied the allegations, as did Manning’s agent, and it suggested that if the allegations are untrue, then Manning could possibly sue Al Jazeera for defamation. It does, however, suggest that since the NFL wasn’t testing for HGH yet in 2011, “players were essentially on the honor system.”

The following morning, Florio gets rolling when he notes that Peyton Manning hired Ari Fleischer to help refute the story. At this point, the tone changes dramatically. First, Florio scoffs at the idea that Manning needed to hire Fleischer and suggests he should have been satisfied just issuing a denial. He essentially suggests that hiring a PR guy, which he notes that many athletes do, is suspicious.

Then he digs in deep. In the same article, he points out that Manning issued his denial to Chris Mortensen of ESPN. Florio attacks Mortensen’s credibility as someone “who has a long relationship with the Manning family.” He then says, “Patriots fans will appreciate — or not — the irony of Mortensen’s early involvement in the life cycle of this specific story.” This is an attack on Mortensen’s reporting on deflategate, which Florio spent months attacking. The suggestion is that Mortensen is a bad reporter who will shade the truth to help Manning or hurt Brady. Keep in mind though, Manning is simply giving a statement. There is no reporting here, so Mortensen’s credibility is not relevant.

Then Florio says that while Manning says he’s not worried about the story, Manning is worried enough to comment and to hire Fleischer. In other words, Florio suggests that the fact Manning is responding is evidence that something about the story must be true.

Florio then parses Manning’s statement to attack Manning’s wife and he suggests that Manning’s statement is “odd” and that “some” are interpreting it as Manning leaving the door open to blame his wife (no one has said this, by the way). He then notes that it’s “noteworthy” that Manning’s wife hasn’t commented. And he plays this game of suggesting the fact that Manning attacks parts of the claim in greater detail than others means that Manning’s defense is... well, it’s up to you what that means wink wink.

He finished with the truly unfair assessment that “With so many statements and reports and developments emerging in a fairly short time frame, it’s fair to wonder what the next statement, report, or development will be.” This suggests that the facts are fluid and evolving and going both ways. However, except for the initial statement, which Florio admits here was recanted, every statement is a consistent flat out denial.

A few hours later, the Broncos issue a statement backing Manning. PFT reports this and concludes with this: “The allegation in the report is that Manning used HGH while he was battling neck injuries near the end of his tenure with the Colts, not during his time with the Broncos. The Colts have not commented.” In others, Team Florio dismisses this because only what the Colts say will matter... just wait.

An hour later, Mike Ditka dismisses the report by saying Al Jazeera is not credible. PFT dismisses Ditka’s claim as an opinion held “among conservatives” and then boosts Al Jazeera by saying they have won awards for their reporting. So has Chris Mortensen, by the way, but PFT never mentioned that during any of their attacks on him.

About an hour later, Florio writes an article in which he says that Manning needs to see how Roger Clemens responded to PED allegations and pimps his own (self-published) book on the matter. Keep in mind that Florio typically dismisses the credibility of anyone with even the slightest economic interest, like anyone pimping a book.

An hour after the Broncos issued their statement, which Florio dismissed by claiming that only a statement from the Colts would matter, the Colts issue a statement. They unequivocally backed Manning. Florio responds by wondering why the Colts would even respond to this... “Peyton Manning hasn’t played in a game for the Colts for nearly five years. But because Manning reportedly used HGH while still with the Colts in 2011, the Colts apparently felt compelled to respond.” Gee, I guess that’s why the Colts said something. Notice the rope-a-dope here. First, Florio dismisses any response except one from the Colts, but when the Colts issue a response he suggests there is something odd about the Colts bothering to respond. Think about this. This shell game makes it impossible for Manning to defend himself because Florio attacks anyone who tries.

Florio ends this story with this snide and suggestive little turd: “For a story that has been recanted by the only person who told it, a lot of people are making statements about it.” In other words, he’s suggesting that the fact that people are denying the story is proof that the story is true. He then goes even further into advocacy and says the fact that the story has been recanted doesn’t mean it’s not true. Think about that: evidence of untruth is proof of truth and responding to an untruth is proof that it’s really true. Welcome to paranoid conspiracy land.

And it doesn’t stop there. At the same time as the Colts’ statement, the Guyer Institute issued a statement saying that it’s not true, that they’re shocked someone would violate Mrs. Manning’s medical confidences, and that this guy wasn’t employed there at a time when he could have witnessed what he claimed to witness. Enter Florio. Florio attacks the statement as “clunky and confused,” even though the statement is a clear complete denial.

He then plays another shell game by saying that it’s impossible to both be untrue what Sly has said and yet violate a medical confidence. Basically, he says that if it’s not true, then it doesn’t violate a confidence. Ergo, it must be true. This is both splitting hairs far beyond what is reasonable and utterly false logic. Medical privacy extends to the fact of treatment no matter what was or was not done. In other words, just saying she was a patient is a violation as is suggesting a treatment. But Florio is trying to claim Sly’s statement can only be a violation if what he said was true. That’s simply false. And pretending that Guyer is trying to play fast and loose with his statement is paranoia, not wisdom or insight.

Florio also dismisses the fact of Sly not working there. He says that even though Sly didn’t work there at the right time, he could have heard something from other employees. So Sly is just passing on rumors now? Then why did Sly’s recanted statement involved Sly seeing this himself and doing it himself? Florio ignores that.

Florio then says, “as the statements pile up regarding the Peyton Manning report, Ashley Manning’s silence becomes even more conspicuous.” First, note idea that “the statements pile up” is meant to suggest that there is a genuine conflict. There isn’t. Every single statement, including one by the initial accuser, entirely refutes the report. Yet, Florio wants to leave the impression that there are competing statements. Even worse, notice that Florio is now moving the ball again and demanding a statement from Manning’s wife. Every time a statement is issued, Florio dismisses the person making it and demands one from someone else. Then, after they make a statement, he uses that statement as evidence that they are worried about the truth. This is gotcha. Worse yet, he is suggesting that to satisfy him, Ashley Manning needs to violate her own right to medical confidence even though Peyton has denied everything.

He then finishes this report with the asinine suggestion that we will never know “the full, objective, and unvarnished truth.” Bull. The truth is clear and believing the recanted report is an exercise in willful self-deception.

Later that night, Manning was asked if he will sue and he said he probably will. Florio jumps on this. First he notes that Manning is unlikely to win because of the high standard (remember that he suggested suing earlier?). Then he cautions Manning that this will open up his private life. Then he gets incredible. He says that if Manning had said nothing, then this story would have died. You have to read this to believe it:
If Manning had said nothing about the allegations, how many mainstream news outlets would have ignored it? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I decided not to mention it until Manning issued a statement denying it.
This is from a man who jumped on this story and kept demanding statements from person after person, claiming that the lack of a statements was evidence of its truth.

Today, he wrote another article in which he said this story only has legs because of Manning “strongly, repeatedly disputing it.” Get this: “If the goal was to get no one to write about the story, the approach shouldn’t have been to issue statements. It should have been to pick up the phone and call every reporter with any degree of influence or credibility and persuade them to leave it alone.” And the bullsh*t gets even deeper:

Frankly, PFT wouldn’t have even written a story about it if the response had been “no comment” from Manning, Manning’s representative, the Broncos, the Colts, or the NFL.

That’s total crap and Florio knows it. Florio was going to do his best to prove this story true no matter how much truth he needed to twist and how paranoid he needed to get.

As for pulling strings to kill the story, this story hit the rumor sites before any reputable reporter even knew about it. It was spreading everywhere. How exactly does Manning stop a TMZ or a Mike Florio from spreading it as the absolute truth? And what do you think paranoid Florio would have said if he’d learned that Manning was trying to talk people out of printing this?

This is the kind of hit-piece journalism that has become the norm. Unethical, paranoid incompetents have taken over the media and they are using false logic and deception to blur reality and spewing conspiracy as fact. This is true in sports as it has become in politics. Honestly, our media needs too be purged. It needs a real code of ethics and serious training in logic, recognizing bias and the fundamentals of journalism. And guys like Florio, need to be ejected by places like NBC.

I hope Manning sues him.

Update: That "reputable" news source Al Jazeera is now claiming they never made any allegations against Manning. They claim they only talked about his career, his treatment and then said that his wife got HGH. That's such obvious bull that it's going to blow up on them.
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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Predictions!

It's time to consult the great spirit guide for some New Years predictions! Some of these are crazy, like Lindsey Graham dropping out of his winning race for the White House, but others are quite serious. Feel free to add your own... serious or otherwise.

Let me enter my trance mode. Oh great spirit, feed me some bull that I may part these suckers of their money. Ohm. Ohm. Oh. I see something now... it's becoming clearer... it's the future!!!

...trying to find a way to assure voters after Squatgate, Hillary assures us that she will learn to use a urinal if elected.

...Hollywood makes a movie that is not a sequel, videogame or a comic book.

...Obama spends his last year in office vacationing at taxpayer expense.

...the Democrats will push the idea of Obama being the head of the UN.

...Bill Clinton gets caught fooling around with someone on Hillary's staff, possibly the Humma chick.

...realizing that Isis is the name of a comic book goddess (blech... a woman!), ISIS changes their name to get a better acronym. They go through GIRLZRULE, DIKLESS and BITCHZ before settling on the indisputably scary Great Allah's Youth Brigade Of Yon Zaharwi. Who's laughing now infidels?!

...Marco Rubio wins the Republican nomination.
...Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination.
...some pothead wins the Libertarian nomination.
...having lost the GOP primary, Trump runs as head of the Mexican-free Gay-free Genuine Real American Macho Tough Guy Totally Pure Conservative Party. His policies maybe crony-socialist, but at least he's a jerk!

...the economy bounces along on the edge of recession throughout 2016.

...next year's college football playoff teams will be Alabama, USC, Ohio State, Michigan.

...Putin stars as an action hero in a new movie. There are rumors that the scene where he beats the bad guy to death with his penis was real, not a stunt, but there are counter-rumors that the penis he used was a stunt penis.

...Hillary comes out against AIDS, against the Soviet Union, against Nazism, against famine in Africa and against crack cocaine. She believes the characters from the movie Wall Street are the worst villains of our age and she promises to arrest Charlie Sheen if she gets elected. She comes out in favor of building the internet, in favor of the personal computer, and in favor of SALT II. Says it is too early to issue opinions on the 1990s yet.

...responding to Hillary, Donald Trump comes out in favor of AIDS, in favor of the Soviet Union, in favor of Nazism, in favor of famine in Africa and in favor of crack cocaine. He believes the characters from the movie Wall Street are the greatest heroes of our age and he promises to give the Congressional Medal of Freedom to Charlie Sheen. He comes out against building the internet and against the personal computer, but he likes salt too.

...Hulk Hogan comes out as transexual and starts dating Bruce Jenner.

...North Korea sneak attacks China, but their army is dispersed by the plethora of fast food joints they find.

...the movie "World of Warcraft" will be the year's biggest bomb.

...cloning of humans will be a real thing and all the fears of it going wrong will prove unfounded.
...clong of humans will b real ting and fear of it will prove unfounded.
...clng of man will bring fear prove founded.
...404 error

...Obama will come out of the closet and admit that Michelle used to be a man.

...Muslims finally form Caliphate and quickly hate the guy they elect Grand Poobah. With apologies to INXS.... caliphate... caliphate... gotta hate... too irate... the infidel I ate... not feeling great... constipate... constipate... sit and wait... oh what a fate...

...Apple will introduce nothing really interesting this year.

...Bernie Sanders demands a ban on sitting because it's bad for your health.

...Jeb Bush hired to give speeches at insomnia clinics.

...Marco Rubio elected President.

Good stuff huh? You can take these to the bank!
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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas To All

Peace be with you and your family.



Luke 2:8-14 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Thoughts From Vacation

I thought I would share some thoughts I had while on vacation. These are about Disney, politics, America and the such. I think you’ll find them interesting.

● Let me start with the biggie... life is a lot happier when you don’t pay attention to the world. Seriously. By choice, I had little access to the internet while on vacation. Yes, I could pull up Google to look things up as needed, but I avoided all the “talk” sites: no news, no politics, no a-hole sports sites. I also avoided the television and the radio. And let me tell you, it was glorious. I am not kidding when I say that life is so much happier when you aren’t exposed to those things.

This really has me wondering how much of our modern angst and outrage is the result of the a-hole culture that has come to exist online. When everyone I dealt with had to face me face to face, there were no trolls... no asinine opinions... no attempts to be outrageous... no conspiracies... very little selfishness, so much more common courtesy, so much more in the way of manners, etc. It was a lot like life seemed when I was kid. People were nice because they didn’t have the safety of anonymity behind which they could act on their worst instincts and desires.

The internet and our news cycle and our talk radio (sports, politics, etc.) is making us swim in a sewer of the worst humanity has to offer and getting away from it all really makes that clear. If any of you find yourself stressed out or depressed, let me in all honesty recommend that you step away from the net and its tributaries for awhile and see if that helps.

● Disney is conservative America and it’s awesome. Yes, I mean that. Disney is the world that conservative America has long sought to build and it was amazing. Disney is not cynical. It is not whiny. It is proud and unapologetically patriotic – they had a fantastic flag lowering ceremony every night. Everyone there behaves in a responsible, thoughtful manner. The employees all seem to have a strong ownership stake. Honestly, I’ve never met a larger group of people who love their jobs.

So how did this happen? Well, let me be blunt... there are factors at play that keep out the very people that vote Democratic. Let me give you some examples. First, Disney is aimed at people with families. It is not aimed at single people. Hence, we found there to be almost no 20 year olds. That meant an absence of drugs and alcohol and trouble. It also meant that people were more conscious of things like swearing and the lessons they sent because their own kids were watching or because they were there with their own parents.

Next, the rides/attractions at Disney are not adrenaline centric. They are based on using your mind, your love of history, your love of art work and your love of culture(s) to find enjoyment; nothing at Disney could be enjoyed without some thought, without some appreciation for the skills of others, or on the basis of adrenaline or sexual arousal. In other words, you had to be more aware of what you were seeing and you had to grasp the skill it took to create that. That meant thinking beyond your own immediate gratification. That means that there is nothing there for the people you see on COPS, who spend their lives chasing highs and dreading withdrawals and trying to find ways to stroke themselves off. Those people simply didn’t exist at Disney because there was nothing there to attract them. And yes, they are easy to spot.

To put this another way, Disney has created a culture that fits hand in Mickey glove with middle class America. Nothing about it appeals to white trash or ghetto America. And the result is that the people who came, whatever race or nationality, brought with them a set of values that let you stand in a crowd of a thousand people and hear people excusing themselves, teaching their children lessons, and being generally selfless all around you. No one tried to smoke against park policy and dared Disney employees to eject them. No one displayed tattoos with swear words or sexual themes (tattoos were very rare). No one swore. No one was drunk or high. People didn’t fight. They didn’t knock each other down. Nobody had to prove they were tougher than everyone else. And no one whined about their “rights.” Try saying any of that about Six Flags.

And as an aside, none of the intolerance liberals like to claim exists in the middle class was there. People were happy to help foreigners, even Muslims, find their way without a second thought. There were gays, and people treated them like everyone else... because they acted like everyone else.

This is America as it would be if people accepted the values of Reagan conservatism.

● There were two fascinating lessons about capitalism that I witnessed at Disney. The first was that the only criticism people offered during my whole trip was the cost of food, which was insane. Disney is keenly aware of the idea of the captive audience, but they have perhaps pushed that too far as I learned about ways people have started getting around the Disney monopoly.

The other was a lesson in the failure of central planning. All of the Disney gift shops were stocked with the same stuff. Clearly, Disney runs them all through a central store rather than letting them compete. The result was unfortunate for Disney. First, while we were willing to spend a buttload on stuff, we found almost nothing that appealed to us. So we got away spending almost nothing. Secondly, someone at Disney clearly assumed that Star Wars would be their big seller as about half their merchandise was Star Wars related. Unfortunately for them, they misunderstood their audience. Disney World was princesses as far as the eye could see and only a few dads cared about Star Wars – we saw almost no sales of the Star Wars stuff.

The lesson here is that when you centralize, the opinions of a small group can ruin an entire economy. Had Disney not centralized their stores, I can assure you that their variety would have been better and there would have been less Star Wars in places where it really didn’t fit – like the Beauty and the Beast area or the old west area.

● American Express must die. Get this. Because I like to keep a certain amount of cash handy, I put our cruise on my Amex card and I let it run some interest. On the trip, I decided to put all my spending from Disney World on a Visa and all the spending from the cruise on the Amex so that I had a very clear sense of what each part cost. Well, everything went well at Disney with the Visa. Then we boarded the cruise. On the second night, we got a letter from cruise services. My Amex had been declined. Huh? Well, long story short, Amex decided all on their own that they were suddenly worried about my ability to pay back what I was spending (despite never having missed a bill in 20+ years) and they shaved around $8,000 off my credit limit and cut me off. That fact that I was on a cruise far away from home didn’t bother them in the least.

Now, it turned out well because my other card easily picked up the slack – though I was worried initially that the other cards might follow their lead (they didn’t). But seriously... WTF? What if this had been my only card? I specifically set that card aside to take care of this cruise and Amex knew that, yet, they waited until I was out of the country to do this. They could have warned me days or weeks before, but they didn’t.

This is inexcusable and this is why I have no love for big banks. For twenty plus years, I’ve been the perfect customer for them. They knew where I was and what I was doing. And yet, they essentially stranded me out of the country because their computer told them to. Be warned about dealing with them.

● Saint Martin was a pit. Half the island is ruled by the Dutch and half by the French and it is a mess. St. Thomas, by comparison, was amazing. This is obviously a shallow observation, but I wonder how much of this had to do with attitude? The locals on Saint Martin were obsessed with slavery. Everywhere you looked, there are statues related to slavery and that was almost all our tour guide talked about, and we never felt welcome. The locals at St. Thomas, on the other hand, were all about commerce. They never mentioned slavery. Instead, they did their best to sell us stuff and to convince us to come back... something I would love to do! And the difference was that St. Thomas was a happy, rich place and thriving place, whereas Saint Martin was a mess.

● We snorkeled with stingrays. Yeah, stingrays. Disney had 69 of them in a lagoon and you could swim with them. Do you know how weird it was to stand there as dozens of these things (with up to 5 foot wingspans) swam by, rubbing against your legs? Amazing. Freaky at first, but amazing.

● Am I the only person who didn’t know that the Caribbean can get pretty damn cold? The water was really cold compared to what I expected! Brrr.

● Finally, on a happy note: there is magic at Disney. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Outside our room, you could see African animals all day long as they roamed the savanna Disney has made. It was amazing. Walking into the lobby was like walking into a Hemmingway novel. Our girls couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. Our youngest cried when she met Ariel. The dinners on the cruise ship were like the best a French restaurant has to offer every single night. The other hotels at Disney, while expensive, were also some of the best food we ever had. Their staff were amazing. I kid you not that our cruise ship waiter came to feel like family. You find yourself so happy and content at Disney that you truly feel younger again. And even though I am getting old and I know better, let me tell you I smiled a lot when I met Baloo. It was amazing.

:)
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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Trumped Up Thoughts

I've thought for some time that Trump was finished. I've never seen him as having a legitimate chance, but it strikes me now that his time is all but up. Here's why I think he has no chance.

Here's the thing most people forget about our system: it's all about math. When you add the Northeast/mid-Atlantic moderate states to the moderate West Coast to the big moderate states in the Rustbelt (like Illinois and Minnesota) and the islands (like Puerto Rico), you get 84% of the delegates needed to win the nomination. The track record of every one of these states is to vote for the most respectable candidate. This means the establishment candidate: Romney, W Bush, Dole, Bush Sr. Reagan. Forty-eight percent of the rest of the delegates are at large in one form or another. Most of these are elected officials at the state or federal level, and they vote based on schmoozing.

Now think about what this means.

First, not one of these states is going to vote for Trump. Even someone like Cruz is too fringe for them. Seriously, ask yourself if you can imagine any circumstances where Maryland, California, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont or Minnesota are going to vote for Trump. Not happening. And since these states don't vote until later in the process, things will be sorted out among the moderate/establishment types before they vote and they will all vote for the same person, i.e. Bush or Rubio.

That means that Bush/Rubio will only need 16% more of the delegates to win. That can come from states like Florida and New Mexico or the at-large delegates who make up 33% of the rest of the delegates. Bush has been gathering these delegates for four years and seems to have the vast, vast majority of them rounded up. If these people do abandon Bush, his supporters will most likely go to Rubio.

This means that no matter how many of the remaining states Trump or Cruz or whoever wins, the race is already decided. It's only a question of whether or not Bush has blown it and handed the race to Rubio.

What this means is that all the horserace talk you hear about Trump and Cruz and the such is misguided. It is for entertainment purposes only... the race is over. The start of the race may seem like a genuine race, but it isn't. Iowa, a fringe theocracy, starts and will pick Trump or Cruz or Jesus. At that point, the talk radio crowd will crow about their guy winning, but it's an illusion. The front part of the race creates a sense that any candidate can win, but the only two that really matter are New Hampshire and Florida because they decide which establishment candidate will prevail. There just aren't enough delegates to overcome the states I outlined above.

This is why neither Trump nor Cruz nor any other crazy ever had a chance. Bush and Rubio and Christie are the establishment candidates (though Christie has fallen out of favor) and Bush has lined up the vast majority of delegates. Trump and Cruz and Carson and whoever-else have always just been competing for second place.

Now, let me tell you why Trump is done as compared to Cruz or some other anybody-but-the-establishment-candidate candidate. Trump's appeal has been the appeal of a tantrum. He's stupid, uninformed and lacks judgement. If people answer honestly, they would tell you that they wouldn't trust to handle anything that affected them personally. But he's spouting off the insults they want to spout off themselves. He's a catharsis. Unfortunately for him, that only gets you so far, and now that it's getting serious, the fringe is looking for a candidate who they consider serious. That means Cruz, though Cruz has issues.

What's more, Trump is now suffering from the biggest wound that someone in his position can suffer from: he's gotten boring. There is nothing left Trump can do to outrage to anger or to make his supporters feel all giddy. That means he's losing interest. The result has been that Cruz in getting a second look in places like Iowa and the South.

Thoughts?
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Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday's Thoughts: Debates Round-up, Christmas Songs, and Star Wars

By Kit

My last post before Christmas. What a year its been, trying to consistently write a weekly post for this site. It's been difficult, especially with schoolwork but I'm glad for the positive responses I've gotten from you folks.

Now, let's get on with the show.

Tuesday's Debate We had a debate this week. The expected (and possibly hoped for) Trump/Cruz clash did not occur. Cruz deflected from attacking Trump and Trump, interestingly, did likewise. Instead the big clashes were Bush/Trump and, the highlights for me, Cruz/Rubio.

So let's score the Top 8 Candidates.

Trump: Trump was Trump. Though slightly less than usual but still Trump with outlandish calls to kill the families of terrorists (WTF?!) and issuing proposals that, as Jon Gabriel of Ricochet once pointed out, nearly always seem to involve bigger government. He is a populist strongman with a nationalist streak in the vein of Huey Long.

He is also a clueless clown, flubbing a question on the nuclear triad. True, I didn’t know what it was but… I am not running for President of the United States.

However, he did gain a few points with me by promising not to run as an independent. For now, at least. He made He was at zero before (if not in the negatives) so it was not a huge bump. He is still at the bottom for me.

Cruz: Did ok but he made a flap, possibly fatal one (but fatal missteps are declared far more often than they occur) when he said he never supported legalization of illegals when in fact in 2013 he proposed a bill to do just that. He claims it was a poison pill but he advocated on several networks, including for some time after it failed. National Review is giving him hell on this, and, to a certain extent, Fox News as well, while his supporters are trying to craft him as some kind of Machiavellian genius —who lies to stop bills he doesn’t like.

Carson: Still not ready for primetime. Should be running for Congress. Next!

Rubio: My pick as “winner”, even though there really was not a standout winner. But I found myself leaning back to him. He took on an attack on immigration and handled it well. And, no, he did not “dodge” the immigration question, unless dodging means giving a clear and well-crafted answer that clearly outlines a position you don't like in a possibly appealing way. You can say you don't trust him, you can say you don't like his answer, but it was not evasive.

I have some problems with him, true, but he never seems off his game. He has handled himself incredibly well in the debates. He always knows his stuff. That requires some homework. In this primary system, that is sadly a huge plus. He also looked a bit older than in previous debates, where he unfortunately had a Chairman of the College Republicans look to him.

Christie: Rubbed me the wrong way. His butting in during the Rubio/Cruz debate on NSA and attacking them for “just discussing” instead of making decisions shad, to me at least, a stench of pro-executive, anti-legislature strongman Mussoliniism to it. Though it appears to have played well with most people.

Carly: Ok. Her campaign for VP continues apace. Her failed attempt to pull a Christie during one of the Rubio/Cruz clashes was rather sad.

Jeb: Had his best night but that is not saying much considering how poor his nights have been so far.

Kasich: Who? Oh, right, him. He was… there.

He kind of seemed like the Larry Gillmore of the night. He was there.

Any thoughts?


Bad Christmas Songs

First, my least favorite: “Last Christmas”, “Christmas Shoes”, “Grandma Got Run over by a Reinder”, and “Do They Know It’s Christmas” are at the top of my hate list. “Christmas Shoes” is probably my least loathed of them because I rarely heard it but, yeah, its awful. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is annoying and “Do They Know Its Christmas” is “LOOK AT HOW CARING WE ARE” twaddle. At least “Last Christmas” has a cheesy, 80s so-bad-its-good vibe to it, even if it is annoying.

Good songs? Pretty much any of the classics and the hymns. There are some mediocrities such as “Rock a-Round the Clock” and “All I Want For Christmas” but for the most part this season is full of good songs; “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, “Jingle Bells”, “Silver Bells”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”,

Your favorites? Least favorites?

Star Wars

Well Star Wars premieres tonight, I plan to see it tomorrow. Anyone who dares spoil it for me will be force-choked. But not to death. No, for death they will be tossed bound and gagged into a Sarlacc pit to be digested over the course of a thousand years.

Merry Christmas.
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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Not Just Stupid, But Ivy League Stupid

Whatever is happening on college campuses today is just downright scary to me. The students of the Ivy League are supposed to be smarter than the average public university student. These are the students being groomed as the future guardians of our nation and Constitution. Here are two examples of this scary stuff that is happening now:

Example One from Yale: This is video by political satirist Ami Horowitz as he asks Yale students to sign a petition to appeal the 1st Amendment just to see if they would [Spoiler Alert: 50 students signed in 60 minutes]:



My only question: "Were there any students who didn't sign?" I would feel much more comfortable if Howowitz showed at least one student turning him down...

Example Two from Harvard: This is a placemat distributed by the Harvard Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to all of the freshman to take home with them. They call it the “Holiday Placemats for Social Justice”.


My first reacton was how infantile. My second was that maybe it should have been a baby bib or blankie.

There are dozens of examples like this, but these are the most recent. Just in case you missed it from last week, here is a LINK to a website that lists all of all the "social justice" demands being made at college campuses around the country. Let's discuss.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Twittering About...

I realize this may be better suited for CommentaramaFilm, but let's have some fun while we gently ease Andrew back into reality.

So, a few month ago someone started a new hashtag stream on Twitter called #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly. What fun I had this weekend coming up with simple plots in 140 characters. And what other people came up with had me ROTFLOL'ing all over the place..

Here is an example: Bad thing happens, lots of running and screaming. Gov't officals make it worse. Cute misfits have a plan. Bad thing destroyed." Okay, that was a bad example. That could be any Sci-Fi B-movie from the '70's.

Try this: "Son of dead S&L owner seeks revenge on disabled man...angel intervenes". Name that movie
Or here's a classic: "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.".

Okay, you get the gist, so let's have some fun.

BUT if you want to be more serious. here's some real news. The Army Forces Command announced on Monday that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in a general court-martial. Remember, he was the guy who was held captive by the Taliban for five years before Obama released five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo in exchange for his release in 2014.

Bergdahl hasn't really spoken publicly of his ordeal, but spoke extensively with screenwriter Mark Boal, who shared about 25 hours of the recorded interviews with Sarah Koenig for her popular podcast, "Serial." He explained extensively he really was whistleblower who was trying to bring to light serious problems with leadership in his unit. Oh, and he has a Jason Bourne complex. I suspect that somehow he will get some kind of pardon from Obama if convicted. But whatever happened to those five Taliban released?

Anyway. Be serious or have some fun. It's your call.
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Monday, December 14, 2015

Economics Crash Course

By Kit

Note: Sorry I have not been posting things recently, I've been busy with exams and now that I'm done I hope to post things a tad more regularly.

As I've begin reading about economics on my own time the one thing that has struck me is largely how simple are the basic tenants of economics. Yes, the application of them is complex but the core is quite easy to understand.

For example, such things as Law of Supply and Demand, Prices, and Knowledge Problem, etcetera are surprisingly easy to understand, provided they are explained well.

And the best video I've seen that covers many of the basic aspects of economics is this magnificent video produced by Learn Liberty:



Let's see what it explains:

Knowledge Problem: There is no way for the railroad engineer to know everything he needs to know about what materials work best for the country.
Law of Supply and Demand: As supply of something goes up the cost to buy it goes down, i.e. it gets cheaper. Therefore the railroad engineer will more likely buy those materials that are the cheapest.
Prices: The way he knows the cost is the price attached to it.

Ta-da!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yet Another Gun Bill

Barely noticed, the Democrats in the Senate pushed for a bill that would have banned terror suspects from buying guns. They claimed that over 5,000 terror suspects have legally bought guns in the US. Here are my thoughts on this.

Say What?: My first thought upon hearing this was, “There are 5,000 terror suspects in the US? WTF?!” If this is true, then I think we have a serious scandal that needs to be addressed. Either we are in serious mortal peril and our government is refusing to be straight with us... or the government’s list of “terror suspects” is incredibly out of whack with reality. In other words, either there is an army of ISIS-wannabes floating around in this country ready to kill us all, and I am forced to wonder why these people haven’t been rounded up... or I am forced to conclude that far too many harmless people are being declared terrorists. Neither option is a good one.

Sounds Reasonable: Putting aside that first thought, this bill actually sounds rather reasonable, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds very much like how our laws should work. Rather than targeting all Americans, our laws should single out as best as possible only those who are likely to cause harm to others. Indeed, banning terror suspects and crazy people from owning guns makes sense. So why hasn’t the GOP jumped on these bills?

Well, therein lies the problem with the whole gun issue. The Democrats cannot be trusted with the details in these bills. In particular, the Democrats have a habit of trying to use exceptions to eat the rule. And giving this inch will allow them to take a mile by simply making the definition of “terrorist” incredibly broad. Don’t believe me? Ok, did you know that the laws passed after 9/11 (like the Patriot Act and its followers) which were meant to stop computer terrorism have largely become means for the recording industry of America to sue tens of thousands of average Americans over downloaded music. So giving them this will become a way for the Democrats to slowly increase the number of Americans banned from owning guns until few are left.

Momentum: The real reason the left is pushing this idea is the try to gain some momentum on an issue that is dead for them. At this point, a massacre barely gets the public thinking about guns, much less moves the needle on gun control. The issue is dead. Pure and simple. No one outside the far left wants to hear about gun control anymore. What the Democrats are hoping is that by getting this, they can make gun control respectable again by using this issue to start to build momentum and bit by bit take this issue off the DOA list and make it something acceptable to talk about again.

Pointless: As no doubt any thoughtful person can appreciate, even if this bill were passed in complete good faith and enforced earnestly, it would change nothing vis-à-vis terrorism. “Terrorism” in the US is largely the purview of fringe environmental groups who use letter bombs and arson as their weapon of choice. The few Islamic terrorist attacks we’ve had have involved bombs and knives. The only guys who have used guns have been the lone whackos who want to shoot up a college, and none of them appeared anywhere on any terrorist list. Put simply, this is a red herring.

Finally, let me repeat again: people who intend to violate our highest laws against cold blooded murder and Treason don’t care about breaking lesser laws in the process.

Thoughts?
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Equality or Segregation?

Is it just me, or are many of the demands that our many college students are demanding, besides demolishing the 1st Amendment and an apology for all of human history so far, really just boil down to a deman of segregation?
As I schlog through the various and sundry "demands" for safe spaces and equality for "minority students" and the endless repetitious demands of new fields of fill-in-the blank "studies" degrees [race, gender, sexual orientation etc.] only being taught by same, all I can come up with as to what they really want is the reinstitution of segregation by gender, race, and whatever. And with the extra added bonus that all white men should just shut up.

They say their demands are for diversity, but I don't see that in their protests. It is never so apparent that when they are protesting against the "All Lives Matters" crowd. I keep coming out with an underlying theme of "Please segregate us."

Here is a link to an aggregate site that has compiled the demands from our institutions of "higher learning" - LINK

I am sure I am not processing this correctly, but let's discuss.
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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Reverse Lechery

I promised a controversial article. Here it is.

Yahoo and some other political organizations which masquerade as apolitical have been doing this rather stupid bit where they do videos having women acting the way they claim men act toward them, e.g. asking sexist questions or saying sexist things to men. The idea is to show the supposed sexism women face. I could spend pages explaining how stupid this is, but I won't. Instead, I'm going to turn the table and present things that these same women deem as acceptable behavior for women. Tell me how you'd feel if men did the following.
● Imagine men saying: “I’m voting for Rubio rather than Hillary Clinton because he’s a man.” Somehow, I suspect women would scream sexism, yet you hear this all the time from women without any sense of shame.

● Imagine a man saying: "I got a divorce and started my career." Does that sound cool or does that sound like a real creep to blame his failure to meet his early career goals on his wife? By the way, Olivia Wilde said this with no sense of irony at all.

● Imagine if organizations like CoverGirl and CNN created programs called #BoysCan meant to assure boys that they really can do any number of jobs. What if the steady drip of messages from Disney sitcoms was that boys can do it themselves without any smelly girls helping them! Yay boys!! BoyPower! Sounds annoying, doesn't it ladies?
Ok. Those were the easy ones. The warm up period is over. Now let's dig into nastier ground...
● Imagine magazines celebrating the idea of the male "cougar," an older man with money who seeks out young women as sexual playthings... "the girl toy." Are you cool with that ladies? Or does that seem creepy?

● Speaking of cougars, imagine a movie about a group of men who married rich women and were left for younger men. These men form the ex-Husbands Club. They get together and whine about how unfairly they were treated. Then they set out to get revenge by humiliating and bankrupting their former wives. Would that be a great comedy or would that seem like a rather vile movie? (First Wives Club)

● But there are better comedies! One in particular involves a stay-at-home father who finds out that his hard-driving professional wife is fooling around on him. He meets the other man and they plot their revenge. They put depilatory cream in her shampoo which causes her to lose her hair. They feed her hormones to cause her to develop masculine traits and make her impotent. And they steal all her money. Sound funny to anyone? Or does that sound like one sick film? (The Other Woman)

● How about films about men killing the wives who abuse them? (The Burning Bed etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.)

● How about those casual Lorena Bobbett jokes that still go around two decades later. Would it be funny for men to casually mention cutting up women's genitalia? Probably not, right?

● Imagine if male singers sang songs about how strong and independent they are. "This is my fight song," baby. And declared independence from the "abusive" women in their lives, like in "Independence Day." (We know that ALL women are abusive, right?) Or singing about how vain and selfish women are? How about men listening to female R&B singers singing about how wrong they were not to worship their men and begging these men to forgive them? Sound like fun? Or does that sound insulting.

● Imagine successful men saying that the reason they became models and the such was to "silence" the "girls in school who made fun of me." Victoria Secret model Joan Smalls said that without the slightest bit of shame. And she's not the only one. Right now, social media is full of women posting pictures of the "Revenge Bod as a form of empowerment" according to Women's Health -- this trend was started by Kloe Kardashian. Yet, they whine that the "Dad Bod" is unfair to women. Flip that around and see if that doesn't feel creepy... "Fat women are unfair to men... oh, and here's my toned body to get revenge against the women who dumped me!" Does that sound cool or does the word "douchebag" come to mind?
Anyways, my point, for anyone who hasn't figured it out, is not to whine that men have it bad. We don't. Our culture is full of lots of shitty, immoral and lecherous stuff on all sides... that's life, deal with it. My point is that these politicized idiots at places like Yahoo are being super hypocrites for pretending that women are the helpless victims of sexism and unpleasant comments without recognizing that women are perhaps even more guilty than men, something which becomes obvious when you flip around the genders on many of the things aimed at women in our culture, like films and songs and the idiotic comments of famous chickies.

Thoughts?

By the way, before any "males rights" types show up. Go away you idiots. This is in no way an endorsement of your whiny crap.
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Friday, December 4, 2015

Theodore Dalrymple Open Thread (sort-of)

There will be a better, lengthier post, later today. Until then, here are three passages from a Theodore Dalrymple book I am reading; The Wilder Shores of Marx. While it is far inferior to Life at the Bottom (which should be required reading for anyone studying poverty but it won't) it is certainly a good read and he displays a decent understanding of the why communism is so evil and why capitalism, for all its flaws, is so preferable:

"Apart from the massacres, deaths and famines for which communism was responsible, the worst thing about the system was the official lying: that is to say the lying in which everyone was forced to take part, by repetition, assent or failure to contradict. I came to the conclusion that the purpose of propaganda in communist countries was not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate and emasculate. In this sense, the less true it was, the less it corresponded in any way to reality, the better; the more it contradicted the experience of the persons to whom it was directed, the more docile, self-despising for their failure to protest, and impotent they became."

"Does it matter, though, that the everyday objects of life should be so profoundly unattractive? Does it matter that clothes should be of dirty colours, that shops should be as inviting as empty morgues? How many times have we heard of the meretriciousness of commercial culture, of the essential unimportance of having a choice of breakfast cereals in the morning, of the waste involved in elaborate packaging that is designed to sell unnecessary or worthless products? There is so much in our lives that is trivial, that inhibits us from considering what is truly important in our existence, that to be freed from the compulsion to possess goods ever remoter from our natural needs sometimes seems to us highly desirable. But there is a world of difference between voluntary renunciation of what is available and embittered resignation in the face of permanent shortage. And it is only by visiting countries that are relentlessly serious and puritanical (‘ We must live and work as under a siege’) that one appreciates – within a very short time – the vital importance of frivolity."

"The fons et origo of the appeal to intellectuals of socialism: snobbery. Left to themselves, people invariably display bad taste (a crime for which Lukacs, the Hungarian Marxist luminary who was also a murderer, thought they should be punished). Therefore, they must not be left to themselves. Philosopher kings – the Pham Van Dongs and Mary McCarthys – must teach the people what they ‘really’ want, and to reject what they merely think they want because they have been corrupted, deformed and alienated by advertising and other capitalist techniques. The ideal of socialists is thus not a society of perfect justice: it is a society where people do not put plaster ducks on their walls."

Amazon.com: LINK

And a short minute-and-a-half video by him on Rousseau and his impact on society: LINK

More to come tonight. Hopefully.
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Open Thread

There's so much happening right now that seems so important, but, as my piano teacher once wrote a a piece of music I was learning, "if everything is important, then nothing is important". So let's open up the floor to whatever you want to talk about. What is important to you? Sports, old family recipes, interesting hobbies, the endless Presidential campaign? Let's get that much touted "conversation" going on any issue you want to converse on...

On your mark, get set...Goooooo!

UPDATE - This was the ill-conceived front page of the New York Daily News. Interestingly, the Republicans and Christians have been quite vocal about Islamic jihad, but this of course came out before it was determined that the shooter was not Jimmy Bob, the RCRWNJ the liberals were so praying for (ironic, isn't it?)...


Also, please feel free to comment on any of the other post from this week, if the mood strikes.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Obama's Environmental Disaster

Obama's environmental policies have been an utter joke. When he came to office, he promised pretty much everything. We were going to be a nation that ran on renewable energy, i.e. wind and solar. We were going to lead the world in stopping global warming climate change. By God, he was going to stop the waves from destroying America. Yet, seven years later, his environmental policy can best be described by words once used by George Carlin in his seven words you can't say on television routine... a Mongolian c******r f***.

Things started going wrong for Obama almost right away. Actually, let's correct things. Things went wrong before he even began. The first problem was that Obama's understanding of science is wishful thinking: solar and wind energy have yet to prove that they can provide anywhere near the energy needs of the country (not to mention they kill vast numbers of birds and therefore cause another ecological disaster). So his ideas were DOA to begin with. Then the politics began.
1. Obama began his administration by handing out $90 billion to any number of environmental companies to make the science match his rhetoric: "Go make my ideas possible!" These companies, often political contributors, happily took the money and then went bankrupt. The Treasury got soaked in losses and nothing changed scientifically. Environmentalists claim this failure was the result of a lack of legislation... no doubt requiring the laws of physics to bend.

2. Obama then ran to Copenhagen where he hoped that his Messiah stature would get the world to agree to stop all the bad environmental things... details to be worked out later. But that didn't happen. Instead, Russia, Brazil, India and China ("the BRICs") plus South Africa met behind his back and agreed that they would never make any cuts to their emissions because they didn't want to hurt their economies. Obama was humiliated.

To save face, Obama secured a last minute "agreement." This agreement was essentially an agreement to negotiate an agreement someday to do some things that could solve the world's problems... details to be worked out later. Obama came home and declared that he had saved the world. The environmental community responded by screaming betrayal. But it was worse than that. As I argued at the time, and I still think this is correct, Obama killed the climate change issue at Copenhagen. With the third world opting out of any changes, it was clear that no progress would ever be made. This made the Euros essentially stop pushing the issue. Then with Obama declaring victory, he gave most people an excuse to declare the issue settled. This killed any momentum the issue had and neutered the issue. It's never recovered, as no serious attempt to change the laws has even been suggested since -- except in fringe politics.

3. At the same time, Obama issued new environmental regulations. These, however, did nothing to protect the environment. Instead, they were aimed at changing the way power plants worked by banning coal and by requiring companies to buy GE products. He finally had a victory, right? Wrong. The courts struck those down and it was back to square one.

4. Cap and trade fell apart in 2011. Al Gore stated he was very disappointed at the time... no doubt because this killed his money making scheme.

5. Nothing much else happened on the environmental front. Obama spent the next few years stiff-arming the Keystone Pipeline, but that's about it. And that didn't actually stop the oil. To the contrary, the oil came by train, which led to a couple of local disasters.

6. In 2013, Obama reissued the power plant rules, but they're back in court and I don't see how they won't get struck down again. But even leaving that aside, these rules are proving very unpopular even among Democrats. Indeed, last week, a group of 626 Democratic state and local officials from nearly three dozen states sent a letter to Obama telling him that the EPA needs to story trying to force power plants to stop using coal and instead use "renewable" energy. This group, called CoalBlue, is worried about the economic effects of the new regulations on their states as well as the devastating effects on their re-election chances.

7. Now we have crashing gas prices because of Obama's crappy economic policies. This is a disaster for the renewable energy technologies Obama wants because they need oil to cost around $100 a barrel to be competitive. But oil is around $43 a barrel right now. This means that all those wonder technologies Obama is hoping to use to replace the things we run on now are so expensive compared to oil and gas that people have stopped buying things like hybrids.

8. Lastly, he's trying to rescue his agenda by getting an international agreement in Paris to save the world. The MSM is hopeful. But of course, Obama can't do anything without Congressional approval, so put a fork in that sucker too.
All of this adds up to a big goose egg for Obama. Ironically, the only credit environmentalists can give Obama is lowering America's carbon emissions, but the reason for that is that the economy sucks so badly that there is less economic activity. It wasn't the result of any environmental change.

For a man who promised to change the world, he's actually done more harm than good to his own cause. When he came to power, alternative energy sources were on the rise because they were economically competitive, there was a strong push within a significant portion of the public to stop global warming climate change, and the Democrats had the power to literally do whatever they wanted. Seven years later, the alternative market has collapsed, climate change is a dead political issue except in Democratic fringe politics, and the Democrats not only have no power to do anything but they didn't actually do anything while they could. All they achieved were some regulations that never took effect and never will and which their own people want undone because they are hurting their chances of election.

Indeed, the only thing worse than being Obama's enemy is to be his friend.

Thoughts?
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NY State Corruption Without Limit UPDATE

Now that we have a little time to breath, let me catch you up on the big news that came down today in the ongoing trials and tribulations of our corrupt elected officials in the state of New York.

When I last reported on this in May, two new high ranking state legislators had been arrested and charged with corruption - former State Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both trials have been ongoing since the first week of November.

The big news from yesterday is that the jury in the 5-week trial federal court trial of former Speaker Sheldon Silver came back with convictions on all 7 counts that included honest-services fraud, extortion and money-laundering for trading political favors to enrich himself and then lying about it. This is big news. Silver has been the most important Democrat in New York for the last 20 years. He is a very big fish. If you want to read the sordid details, here is a LINK

What will be interesting in the weeks to come is how this will effect Gov. Andrew Cuomo who abruptly disbanded his much-touted ethics investigative committee that caused US Attorney Preet Bharara to take over the investigation that led to Silver's conviction. [You can get the background from the link to my May 2015 post]

So, with a drumroll, here is my update of my ongoing list of elected officials who have been arrested and convicted in New York in just in the last 5 years...

2010-2015

State officials -
1. Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver (D) was arrested for multiple counts of bribery and corruption January 22, 2015. Case pending. UPDATE - Sheldon Silver was convicted by a jury of his peers in a 5 week trial on all 7 counts on November 30, 2015 after 2 1/2 hours of deliberation over 3 days. He faces 130 years in jail. Appeal will be pending.

2. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) (and his son) was arrested for corruption on May 4, 2015. Case pending. UPDATE - trial is ongoing and should go to the jury in a matter of weeks.

3. Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Malcolm Smith (D) was found guilty in federal court of conspiracy, wire fraud, bribery and extortion for trying to bribe a Republican Party official to let him onto the Republican ballot in the 2013 New York City mayoral race. (2014)

4. State Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa (D) sentenced to a year in jail for entering into a sham marriage in order to gain U.S. citizenship. (2014)

5. State Assemblyman William Boyland, Jr. (D) convicted of bribery (2014)

6. State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D) found guilty of bribery, conspiracy and other related charges. (2014)

7. State Assemblyman Nelson Castro (D) convicted of perjury (2013)

8. State Assemblyman Chris Ortloff (R) pleaded guilty to a felony charge of online enticement of minors for trying to have sex with a child after leaving his seat to become a member of the NYS Parole Board. He was sentenced to 150 months in federal prison (2010)

9. State Senator Shirley Huntley (D) convicted of mail fraud. She was sentenced to one year and a day in prison. (2013)

10. Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Pedro Espada Jr. (D) On May 14, 2012 a federal jury found Espada guilty of embezzling money from federally funded healthcare clinics, after 11 days of deliberation. (2012)

11. State Senator Vincent Leibell (R) found guilty of felony bribery, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice charges related to $43,000 in cash kickbacks he took from 2003 to 2006. (2012)

12. State Senator Nicholas Spano (R), convicted of federal income tax evasion. Spano pleaded guilty to the single felony. He was sentenced to 12 to 18 months in federal prison. (2012)

13. New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi (D), was convicted on charges surrounding a "pay to play" scheme regarding the New York State Pension Fund, and was sentenced to 1–4 years. (2011)

14. State Senator Carl Kruger (D) resigned his seat and pled guilty to charges of corruption and bribery. (2011)

15. State Senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. (D) was convicted of fraud and embezzling $400,000 from the West Bronx Neighborhood Association Inc. and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison (2010)

15. State Health Commissioner Antonia Novello (R) pled guilty to costing the taxpayers $48,000 by making her staff carry out personal chores for her such as taking her shopping and picking up her dry cleaning. Her plea deal calls for 250 hours of community service at an Albany health clinic, $22,500 in restitution and a $5,000 fine. (2009)

Local

16. Mayor of Mount Vernon Ernie Davis (D) was convicted on federal misdemeanor tax evasion. (2014)

17. New York City Councillor Dan Halloran (R) convicted of taking bribes and orchestrating payoffs. (2014)

18. New York City Councillor Larry Seabrook (D) On February 9, 2010, a federal grand jury indicted Seabrook on 13 counts of money laundering, extortion, and fraud. Seabrook was convicted on 9 charges (2012).

19. President of the New York City council Andrew Stein (D) was convicted of tax evasion regarding a Ponzi scheme (2010).

2000-2009

State Officials

20. State Representative Anthony Seminerio (D) pled guilty to taking large sums of money from hospitals through a consulting firm while still a member of the New York State Assembly. His appeal was never heard but his conviction was abated due to death. (2009)

21. Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo (R), was convicted by a federal jury of attempted extortion and attempted soliciting of a bribe for pressuring a lawyer to give $10,000 to his defense fund. (2009)

22. State Senator Efrain Gonzalez (D) was sentenced to 84 months (7 years) in prison, followed by two years supervised release, following pleading guilty to two conspiracy counts and two wire fraud counts. (2009)

23. Majority Leader of the New York State Senate Joseph Bruno (R) was convicted on two counts of wire fraud. (2009) Update: Exonerated of all charges on appeal (2014).

24. State Representative Brian McLaughlin (D) was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to ten years in prison for racketeering.(2009)

25. State Senator Hiram Monserrate (D), convicted of one count of misdemeanor assault, and acquitted of two counts of felony assault and one other count of misdemeanor assault. (2009)

26. State Representative Gloria Davis (D) was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years probation for bribery. (2003)

27. State Senator Guy Velella (R) was indicted for bribery and conspiracy for accepting at least $137,000 in exchange for steering public-works contracts to the paying parties.[179] He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count and received a year in jail. He served 182 days. (2002)

Local

28. New York City Councillor Miguel Martinez (D) pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy two days later. Martinez admitted to stealing $106,000 that was for children's art programs and low-income housing.[181] Martinez was convicted on three felonies, and was sentenced to five years in prison. (2009)

Any questions or comments?
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vacation All I Ever Wanted...

For the next couple weeks, I will be away on vacation (12/1 through 12/14). We're taking the kids to Disney World for a couple days and then we're taking them on a Disney cruise on this thing ==>
Where I will attempt to steal this -->
I cannot wait for this! It's going to be amazing. :)

Anyways, while I'm gone, I've set up articles to post regularly (one is a tad controversial), and Bev and Kit will still be here doing what they do best! So never fear, we aren't shutting down. So keep reading and keep commenting! Have a nice couple weeks. I'll be back soon!
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20 Words They Apparently Can't Say At Huffpo

HuffPo had an article about 20 words that people use “to try to make themselves look smart” but which make them look stupid because they misuse them. Now, let me start by saying that anyone who thinks using these words will make you “look smart” is a raving moron. These are basic, simple words which dumb people just mistake for other words. Here’s the list.

Accept v. Except
Except for morons, most people get that liberalism is bullshit.”

Affect v. Effect
“The corrosive effect of liberalism will affect us all.”

Lie v. Lay
“Bill Clinton is always up for a good lie... or a good lay.”

Bring v. Take
Bring us your money, or we will take it.” (IRS Manual)

Ironic v. Coincidental
“It’s ironic that liberals, who claim to worship science, can’t tell the difference between coincidence and causation.”

Imply v. Infer
“I infer from the stupidity you are trying to imply that you are a liberal.”

Nauseous v. Nauseated
“Liberals are nauseous creatures, whose hypocrisy nauseates me.”

Comprise v. Compose
“Liberalism comprises a whole lot of hateful pet peeves, which all together compose their idiotic ideology.”

Farther v. Further
“Luke, I am your further.”

Fewer v. Less
“The less I think, the fewer problems I see with liberal solutions.”

Nice work, Huffpo. Aim high.

Anyways, as you can see, these are not words people use to sound smart unless they are raving morons. But there ARE words that morons use to try to sound smart and they misuse them badly. Here are just a few off the top of my head:

● Investment. Liberals think this word means “spending.” It does not. It actually means using one’s money in a way that is likely to generate more money.

● Millionaire. Liberals think this word means anyone who earns more than $200,000 a year. It actually means anyone who possesses more than a million dollars.

● Poverty. Liberals think this means anyone in the bottom 15% of the nation’s income base. It actually means living in really shitty conditions because you are poor. See e.g., Africa, Venezuela, the Middle East, any other place where socialism worked its wonders.

● Revenue. Liberals think this means whatever money the government can take from its citizens. This word actually means money you “earn” from providing your labor or selling your assets.

● Universal Coverage. Liberals think this means covering all but 15% of the population. It actually means covering everyone.

● Climate Change. Liberals think this means evil billionaire industrialists driving around with smokers and pick axes trying to destroy the world with pollution, over-mining (like on Praxis), child labor, a low minimum wage, racism, lack of gun control, religious terrorism (Christian only), harsh language directed at college students, freedom of choice in education, uneven earning potential, and all around meanie-ism. It actually means changes in the Earth’s climate brought about by vast forces far beyond our control... like the sun.

● Racism. Liberals think this means being white. It actually means acting against a person on the basis of their race.

● Free Speech. Liberals think this means making sure that everyone has appropriate thoughts. It actually means letting people speak their own thoughts, whatever they are, without punishment.

● Free Speech. Liberals think it means having the right to force other people to listen to you on your terms. It actually means only having the right to speak, but without any promise that others will listen.

● Nazism. Liberals think this is an ideology akin to libertarianism. It’s actually just one flavor of socialism... like progressivism.

● Terrorism. Liberals think this means GOP elected officials disagreeing with Obama. Under no circumstances does it mean Islamic radicals torturing and murdering women, children, gays or Christians. It actually means... you know what? Forget it. They will never understand this one.

Thoughts?
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving To All


By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State .

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Stone Cold Turkey

So now we have an interesting problem. A Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian jet fighter (a Sukhoi Su-24) today that had intentionally flown into Turkish space. The Turks warned it away several times, but it didn't leave. So they blew the thing out of the sky. Then some rebels killed the pilots as they parachuted to the ground. Now have a massive diplomatic problem. Here are my thoughts.

Russian Equipment Sucks: Let me say again, that once more this proves that Russian equipment sucks. For the Russians to lose a fighter plane to a Turkish F-16 is quite an embarrassment. This time there isn't even the excuse that their crappy equipment was being driven by second raters. This was a genuine Russian pilot. And he was shot down by the Turkish Air Force. Russian technology keeps proving itself deficient in major ways.

Time To Walk The Walk: Putin has largely gotten along by talking tough and beating up nearby international midgets. So far, he has been lucky that he's never had to back down because his enemies were wimps like the Germans or dysfunctional basket-cases like the Ukrainians. This time, he's facing a country that has a genuine military and isn't afraid to use it. What's more, the Russians are too stretched to do anything about Turkey. So it will be interesting to see how Putin responds to save face.

As an aside, this was entirely avoidable, except that Putin kept flaunting the airspace issue for weeks. Now he has a crisis he could have avoided with absolute ease.

The Peanut Gallery: Also interestingly, the world seems to be on Turkey's side at the moment (except for Drudge). Generally, I put little faith into "the world" because most of it is run by people with no backbones who are looking only to make it sound like they are principled. This time, however, may be different. With Russian equipment proving to be crap... again. With the price of oil collapsing (and thereby the Russian economy). With Russia showing itself a pimp more than a gangster. I suspect that the world may finally take this moment to slap Putin down. That will be very interesting to see how that plays out.

All That Said: It's too bad that Putin did this because it sounds like he and the French were actually blowing the crap out of ISIS, something Obama's "stern letter" campaign wasn't doing at all.

Nuke 'em If You Got 'em: The one thing I don't see happening out of this is any sort of direct conflict between the US and Russia. It seems rather clear that Putin and the US have been careful enough to orchestrate the dance so that they don't step on each other's toes in such a way that a military exchange is needed. So while I'm sure talk radio will accuse Obama of bringing us to the brink of NUCLEAR WAR (buy Fallout 4!) it strikes me that "the system" has shown itself to be much more carefully arranged than that, even with two total douche bags in running the White House and the Kremlin. That's kind of a relief actually.
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Warning: Avoid Earth

I am not sure exactly what we are supposed to make of this other than to take it at face value. The State Department issued a travel warning yesterday which as best as I (and many others) can determine, basically warns us all to avoid the Planet Earth until February 24, 2016 and then it will all be better.

The good news is this means the WH (Pres. Obama) and the State Department (John Kerry) might just be taking this whole "terrorist threat" stuff a bit more seriously. The bad news...well there's nothing like going from giant-yawn/nothing-to-see-here/they-are-contained to complete hysteria-inducing THEY-COULD-BE-ANYWHERE messaging to get the Holiday season off to the right start. Let's discuss...

Just in case you missed the travel alert, here is the full text [emphasis added]:

Worldwide Travel Alert
LAST UPDATED: NOVEMBER 23, 2015

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats. Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests. This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.

Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq. Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali. ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events. U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities. Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. U.S. citizens should:

-Follow the instructions of local authorities.

-Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.

-Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.

-Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.

-Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions. Authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots. We continue to work closely with our allies on the threat from international terrorism. Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

ISIS Losers

There’s a picture that I’ve seen several times now and it strikes me as a rather strange photo. Ostensibly, the photos is of a group of ISIS clowns trying to look impressive, but wow this thing is a joke... they are a joke. Check this out and tell me you don’t laugh!
This thing is clearly meant to make them all look cool. It’s meant to be like a regimental photo where you get a bunch of tough looking military guys standing at attention looking all military and whatnot. In fact, that’s become such a tradition that every real or imagined military institution will do those photos. This photo above is meant to be that, but it comes across more like some muscle bound loser from New Jersey who poses in Speedos, holding a pistol, and with a bird on his shoulder.

I love too how they’re all looking in different directions, like they don’t know where they’re supposed to be looking. Didn’t anyone give instructions before this photo was taken? Apparently not as they are resting on different knees and using different arms to hold up the flags... except for the kickline in the front. The kickline are all using the same legs. Of course, they can’t hold their guns the same either.

Dipshits on parade.

Do you wanna bet there isn’t a typo in one of those flags too? "Allah is grape!"

Speaking of the flags, it sure seems like they’re struggling to hold the flags in place, doesn’t it? I guess they were rushed and couldn’t wait for the wind to change to get the picture right. Must have been Virgin Goat Night at the sex tent... gotta rush for that.

And what about that tough guy in the front. Tell me that’s not a fake beard. And why is the guy next to him blurred out? Is he an informant for the cops? Hey, that’s not Mohammed1497, that’s Bill Peters Mecca PD! He’s deep undercover!

Of course, from what I’ve seen, these guys are a bunch of weirdo losers to begin with -- all the pictures they show are of super ugly dudes... tragically ugly dudes. That's why most of them cover their faces in the ski masks.

And WTF is up with this hat?
Did he escape from the Renaissance Fair?
We’re Number 1! Wooo! Go Cougars!!!

Losers.

The Nazis? They were sharp. They were scary. The Soviets? Inhuman killing machines. Resistance is futile, you will be absorbed. These guys? Pizza delivery guys gone wrong. I don’t know. This feels like we’re fighting the undercard this time, doesn't it?

We should just pay a couple street gangs to go get rid of these punks for us.
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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Our Syrian Refugee Problem

We seem to be in a Constitutional crisis over Syrian refugees. 31 State governors have openingly defying the Federal Government in refusing to allow any of the 100,000+ Syrian refugess into their states.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

It runs the gamit of requesting guarantees from Homeland Security that they will be thoroughly vetting each refugess before allowing them in the country to outright refusals to allow it for any reason. I understand the sentiment, but I am not sure what I think about the heavy-handedness of our Republican Governors.

On the otherhand, President Obama's shocking tone-deafness on immigration in general and Islamic terrorism specifically leaves all of us at risk. He has managed to create such an atmosphere of distrust with just general immigration issues on our Southern borders that how can we believe that the Feds are going to be responsible with Syrian immigrants?

Of course there is always a middle ground, but no one seems to have ideas. Just a lot of blustering rhetoric from both sides. (Big surprise...) It doesn't need to be a crisis. If the pledge poem on the Statue of Liberty means anything, we are must do something. Despite all of the rhetoric, we have not always welcomed immigrants with open arms and unfettered entry.

I remember the tales of my own grandparents who came over in the early 20th Century and landed at Ellis Island. They too were escaping tyranny and pogroms. But before they could leave Ellis Island and take that final boatride across New York Harbor, they were given health exams, extensive interviews, had to have a sponsor or family already here, a place to live, and proof of some kind of employment opportunity. And from what I know, my grandfather had to check in with Immigration every month before he became a citizen. I don't think that it is unreasonable to request something similar for these immigrants...any immigrants, for that matter.

On a side note on that: Elections have consequences and the Dems are by now realizing that losing so many states to the Republicans is a huge consequence.

As always, let's discuss
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