Friday, July 29, 2016

Face the Face

I did watch Hillary Clinton's speech last night. This was the face she showed most often:

The happiest day of her life
It's all so grim, really. Even in her moment of triumph, the face is angry and the tone is hectoring:

I'm happy. I am so happy.
The purpose of the speech, as much as anything else, was to reintroduce Clinton to the nation. I don't know how you do that. She's been in the public eye for a quarter century. She was scowling back then, too:

Watch your ass, Tammy Wynette
She has an angry persona and she's never been able to hide it for long. We know who she is.

There's no real point in belaboring the laundry list of things she promised last night. She will never deliver any of it. It's the same sack o' free stuff the Dems always promise. College isn't going to be free and the rich aren't going to pay their fair share. If those things were really possible, Barack Obama would have forced them through while he had control of the entire apparatus of government in 2009-2010.

Then again, I don't blame her for scowling. When I look at Hillary Clinton, and I look at her opponent, I find myself scowling, too. It's a grim choice.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wait, what?

Remember this?

Apparently, the 80s have answered the call:
 American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.

But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.
That gave the Donald a chance to do some trolling:

The actual quote, because this video cuts it off:
“Why do I have to get involved with Putin? I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him. I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me. He doesn’t respect our president. And if it is Russia—which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is—but if it is Russia, it’s really bad for a different reason, because it shows how little respect they have for our country, when they would hack into a major party and get everything. But it would be interesting to see—I will tell you this—Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Are you not entertained?

So, do we need to worry about the Russians, or don't we? If you check the ol' social media feeds, chances are you'll see some people think Trump's statement is treason.

Point of order -- how would the Russians hack the 30,000 missing emails? Were they on the DNC website? That would be a story. They are not, of course. What Trump suspects, and his opponent fears, is that the Russians, or some other actor, already has the missing emails, which obviously weren't on the DNC's server but on the homebrew server that Hillary Clinton used. Those would be the emails about Chelsea's wedding and yoga classes, or so we were told. If that were true, Team Clinton could laugh Trump's taunting off as inconsequential. But I didn't hear anyone laughing yesterday.

Writing for the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky explains the problem well:
The Democratic National Committee emails that started this whole contretemps were made public via Wikileaks, with whom the pro-Democratic Party press has been collaborating for years.

How does that compute for the Democrats who blame Mr. Putin? What about Edward Snowden, who is being sheltered in Russia by the regime that the Democrats are now gleefully quoting Paul Ryan as calling a global menace? Maybe the Kremlin will enlist Mr. Snowden in finding the missing Hillary Clinton emails. The Times would probably love it. “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed,” it editorialized in 2014. “Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”
Just so. Back to Lipsky:
The truth is that when the emails that are leaked in the age of the Internet are America’s wartime secrets, such as battlefield secrets in a time when our troops are engaged in combat with a savage foe, the left is all too eager to work with the leakers and characterize them as “whistleblowers.” But when the messages being leaked include internal email traffic of the Democrats themselves, wires that show them maneuvering against Senator Sanders in a ghastly way, the Democrats are suddenly up in arms. Mr. Trump seems to have figured out the petard on which the Democrats have hoisted themselves.
There's gonna be dirt aplenty over the next three months. If we don't already hate both candidates, we will for sure by the time November rolls around.

Oh, those Russians.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A bad trend

Have you noticed that comedians are no longer jesters, but rather enforcers of orthodoxy? We got a sense of that the other day:

Not sure who the creepy guy at the podium was with Silverman, but we'll leave that aside. The trend of comedians taking off the clown nose has gone on for a while now:

We used to have jesters who lampooned the silliness of the political class. Now our jesters want to tell us what to think. It's not a positive development. I prefer the earlier model:

This is a topic worth more time than I have this morning. I'll try to get back to it.


Let's start with a definition:

What do you know?

I saw about the last ten minutes of Bill Clinton's speech last night at the DNC convention in Philadelphia. Our protagonist had to undertake an epistemological task. His goal was to tell us that everything we've recently heard about Hillary is, well, a lie:
Now, how does this square? How did this square with the things that you heard at the Republican convention? What’s the difference in what I told you and what they said? How do you square it? You can’t. One is real, the other is made up.

You just have to decide. You just have to decide which is which, my fellow Americans.
So how do you decide? Well, you can certainly look at the veracity of the fellow asking the question:

And you can look at the veracity of the person he is vouching for:

I suppose you could believe the Clintons. If you do, I'd suggest another definition is in order:

It's a growth industry in Philadelphia these days
The Clintons have been on the stage for a quarter century. A recently departed moral philosopher explained them well:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

il miglior fabbro

Reporting from exotic Wichita, our man Bud Norman provides a tidy summation:
Trump prevailed with such unprecedented tactics against a crowded field of better-funded and better-organized Republican challengers, who varied in quality but in every case were more appealing public figures than Clinton. What those pleading-for-calm pundits won’t tell their readers is that Clinton is such a thoroughly awful candidate in every way that her unfavorable ratings are now even higher than Trump’s, which is saying something that should provoke a widespread and bipartisan panic throughout the land. Her tenure as First Lady was mostly spent enabling her perv husband’s sexual assaults, which Democrats at the time applauded because at least he was pro-abortion, but these days the feminist wing that was supposed to go all sisterly solidarity for the First Woman President are carrying mattresses around campus to protest a mythical “culture of rape” with the Republican nominee praising the good works of Planned Parenthood and quite obviously insincere about his recently acquired anti-abortion principles nobody’s all that anxious about the looming theocracy these days. Her brief and inconsequential time in the Senate was mostly spent plotting her presidential run, which she lost to an even more junior and inconsequential Senator, and her run as Secretary of State was one disaster after another. She’s humorless, apparently in ill health, and every bit as mean and morally compromised as her more entertaining and robust opponent.
Emphasis mine. Yes, I know, entertainment shouldn't be a factor, which Sarah Silverman conclusively proved last night. Trump may have a bizarre orange glow, but he's otherwise healthy. I continue to think Clinton is not particularly healthy. Her moment was eight years ago, but unfortunately for her, she ran into Barack Obama. And now she strides on stage as a political Miss Havisham.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Can't make it up

Hillary Clinton said Republicans have created a “Hillary standard” that has contributed to the negative impression many people have of her, giving her first joint interview with her newly announced running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine.

"I often feel like there's the Hillary standard and then there's the standard for everybody else," the presumptive Democratic nominee said in the interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes."

Clinton explained that there has been a "concerted effort" by Republicans to portray her in a negative light, and described the double standard she believes is set for her as “unfounded, inaccurate, mean-spirited attacks with no basis in truth, reality, which take on a life of their own."
James Comey had no comment.

Belly of the Beast

We spent a lot of time discussing about the People's Stadium back in the day. Now it is here and I went to the open house yesterday with the Benster and another blog correspondent. It's quite the structure, to be certain. As you approach the front of the building, you get a sense of the scope:

Along the enormous glass facade, you see the enormous doors to the stadium, which stand nearly 100 feet high. I am told those are among the largest doors in the world. Inside the stadium, you can see parts of the skyline quite clearly:

The halo building looms
It was a beautiful day yesterday and the light coming in from the windows and the ceiling does illuminate the field quite nicely:

The sun shines and people forget
If you look closely, you can see that the fans are in the end zones and not in the primo seats. And thereby hangs a tale. The open house we attended wasn't, well, that open. You cannot get to the primo seats without passing through a lobby/suite area and since those of us in the building hadn't ponied up the $20 or so for a tour, we didn't have access to the areas at all. Unless you have some coin, you don't apparently get access to the good seats, even on a day where nothing in particular is happening. As taxpayers, we do get to pay for the building, though. Maybe I should be more grateful.

The main concourse is wide and easy to navigate, but getting up to the bleeders may be a problem, as there aren't as many escalators as you might expect. We didn't check out the bathrooms or the concessions that closely, but there doesn't seem to be a lack of options. That's good.

We'll be back in the building in October for a marching band event; we may get more access then.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

RIP, Dennis Green

He arrived in Minnesota the same year that Mike Holmgren arrived in Green Bay. And he was the most consistent nemesis that Packers had in the Brett Favre era. Dennis Green is gone at the age of 67:
Dennis Green, whose 10-season tenure as Vikings coach was a remarkable mixture of regular-season success, distressing playoff losses and off-the-field controversy, has died of a heart attack. He was 67.

A statement from Green’s family to an reporter said Green died Thursday night. Green had been living in the San Diego area but the statement did not indicate his place of death.

Green, who famously pronounced that there was “a new sheriff in town” when hired by the Vikings in 1992, won more games than any coach in franchise history except Bud Grant. His Vikings teams reached the playoffs eight times in his first nine seasons and advanced to NFC Championship Games after the 1998 and 2000 seasons, though never to the Super Bowl.
Talk about a complicated legacy. . . . He was a pioneering African American coach in the NFL, far more successful than the Art Shell. He was a mentor with a strong coaching tree that includes Tony Dungy and Brian Billick, who both won Super Bowls. He was a public-service minded fellow who started the trend of NFL players and teams using their off days during the season for community service. He won games with quarterbacks as varied as Sean Salisbury, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham and Jeff George. He nurtured the careers of teams with personalities as disparate and difficult as Cris Carter, Randy Moss, McMahon, George and Corey Fuller.

And yet, he was clearly a sexual harasser. His teams were regularly among the most talented in the league, but he never got to a Super Bowl. His career in Minnesota included a bizarre episode in which he threatened to sue his employer and laid out the lawsuit in an autobiography. And while he was quite intentional in spewing cliches and doubletalk in his interactions with the media, which he largely held in contempt, at times he would drop the mask. After he moved on to Arizona, he let loose with one of the most memorable (and unintentionally hilarious) rants in the history of coaching:

As anyone who reads this feature knows, I'm a Packers fan. For me, Green is the reason the Packers/Vikings rivalry is now one of the best ones in the NFL. In the 1960s, the Packers owned the Vikings. In the 1970s, the Vikings owned the Packers. In the 1980s, things were even but rarely did the games matter very much. For the last quarter century, the Packers/Vikings series has usually been decisive in who wins the division. The Bears have had their moments, but they have not been a consistent factor. The Lions haven't mattered at all. More than any other team, the Vikings have been the team the Packers needed to beat and that's been the case, pretty much without interruption, since Dennis Green first arrived at Winter Park all those years ago. And with the possible exception of Mike Ditka, he's been the most entertaining coach in the NFC Central/North. Never dispute the importance of entertainment value.

RIP, Coach. Thank you for the memories.

As seen on the internet

Why jump the shark when you can dance with them?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump Day

I wasn't able to watch Donald Trump's speech last night. From what our roving correspondent Benster tells me, it was long -- over 70 minutes as delivered. I think there's a reason for that. The transcript is here. A few random thoughts:

One line from the speech caught my eye:
America is a nation of believers, dreamers, and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics, and cynics.
Yes. We've had a solid 7+ years of Shut Up, He Explained. And it's a particular lazy group of freelance censors. Another speaker at the convention was Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who created PayPal. Thiel is gay, but coming out as gay isn't apparently as deleterious as coming out as a Republican, at least in certain precincts. Today, if my social media feed is any indication, Thiel is a modern-day Roy Cohn. That seems fair, right?

And yet, and yet... there was ample cynicism on display in Cleveland this week. We've reached Bizarro World when a call to vote your conscience gets catcalls. Somewhere, Barry Goldwater, who wrote "The Conscience of a Conservative," is shaking his head.

One factor to watch as the campaign unfolds -- how much will we actually see of Hillary Clinton? Both she and her opponent are pushing 70. Trump is healthy as a horse. Clinton seems to have a number of health problems. I'm not sure Hillary Clinton can give a 70+ minute speech. Trump hit Jeb Bush hard as being "low energy." I suspect he'll use a similar attack on Clinton and I expect it will be effective.

I don't have a horse in this race. The choices on offer are odious. I can't imagine voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. But here we are.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Family Feud

I usually go to my local health club in the evening, generally arriving a little bit after 8. I'll spend time on the treadmill and I usually watch television while I'm there. Most nights, the easiest thing to watch is old episodes of "Family Feud" on the Game Show Network, which seems to run in a continuous loop most nights.

On Wednesday nights, GSN runs a different show that I don't particularly enjoy, so last night I left the television on the station where it was. And so I got to see Ted Cruz's speech at the Republican National Convention.

Cruz rolled the dice last night. Endorsing The Donald would have been the easy thing to do -- Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, two prominent rivals of Cruz, did so, although without evident enthusiasm. Cruz didn't endorse. Instead, he spoke for 22 minutes about freedom, and conscience. A taste:
America is more than just a land mass between two oceans, America is an ideal. A simple, yet powerful ideal. Freedom matters.

For much of human history government power has been the unavoidable constant in life. Government decrees and the people obey, but not here. We have no king or queen, we have no dictator, we the people constrain government.

Our nation is exceptional because it was built on the five most beautiful and powerful words in the English language, "I want to be free."

Never has that message been more needed than today. We stand here tonight a nation divided. Partisan rancor, anger, even hatred are tearing America apart. And citizens are furious, rightly furious, at a political establishment that cynically breaks its promises, and that ignores the will of the people.

We have to do better. We owe our fallen heroes more than that.
By the end of the speech, it became clear to the delegates in the hall that "better" didn't necessarily mean Donald Trump:
We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect from everybody. And, to those listening, please don't stay home in November.

If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the constitution.  
Is Donald Trump such a candidate? While Cruz didn't say so explicitly, the speech suggests he doesn't believe the GOP standard-bearer lives up to the standard.

Ted Cruz, in his own way and own style, is perhaps even more of a polarizing figure than Donald Trump. The GOP establishment may grumble about Trump's various apostasies, but they do believe they can do business with him. The Mitch McConnells of the world are, at bottom, transactional politicians and Trump made his bones as a dealmaker, so it's understandable that McConnell and his ilk can make common cause with The Donald.

The paradox of Ted Cruz is that while he speaks the language of conservatism, he is an apostate in the party that ostensibly carries the conservative banner in this country. The further paradox of Ted Cruz is that his ambition and his beliefs are at variance with one another. I suspect a lot of people can't get with him because of this second paradox. Cruz is either the real thing, or he's even a larger charlatan than Trump, who doesn't much bother to pretend he believes in much of anything other than himself. If you support Cruz, it's also a roll of the dice.

Donald Trump will either win or lose this election regardless of what Ted Cruz says, or doesn't say. If Trump wins, Cruz will be in the outer darkness. If Trump loses, Cruz will be in the mix in 2020. The interesting question for the GOP electorate would be this -- do you admire Cruz more, or do you admire the approach of Scott Walker, who did endorse Trump? Are you more loyal to principle, or to process? Or do you have to value both? The question may become relevant on or about November 9.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My social media feed this week

None of these people are in Cleveland, incidentally
I don't have to watch the GOP convention, because I've hired the work out.

Meanwhile, in the real world

A reminder of storms ahead:
California’s massive public pension fund has been severely underfunded and mismanaged for decades, but its accountants have managed to conceal the extent of the problem by assuming that the state-run asset manager would secure white-hot seven to eight percent returns over the long run. Independent analysts have estimated that at a more realistic rate of return of five percent, the fund would be over a trillion dollars in the hole. But the latest returns make even that figure sound like a pipe dream. 
CalPERS is hardly the only major pension fund that's going to come a cropper. A trillion dollars is a lotta money. To project 7-8% growth year-over-year is nuts, especially if your asset managers favor cronyism and politically correct investing strategies. It's going to get ugly when things go south, it might already be happening.

Trump is the nominee

Not my circus. We'll observe from a safe distance. As an aside, I am disappointed to learn that Wright State University in Dayton will no longer be hosting the first debate between the Donald and Hillary Clinton. It would have been wholly appropriate to hold the event at the Nutter Center.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stay close to the candles. The stairway can be... treacherous

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune 
Hillary Clinton was in Minneapolis yesterday. That faint sound you heard in the distance may have been the horses whinnying.

Song of the day

A man ain't supposed to cry.

Oh noes

I'm mostly going to ignore the Republican Convention this week; it's not my circus. One thing deserves mention, however.

I awoke this morning to see at least fifty of my lefty friends on social media (yeah, maybe I need better friends, but we'll leave that aside) gasping with a combination of anger and glee because it appears that The Donald's current spouse, Melania "Zsa Zsa" Trump, apparently plagiarized a section of her speech. Here's the offending section:
"Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go a university? Why is it that my wife... is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? ...Is it because they didn't work hard? My ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come after 12 hours and play football for four hours? It's because they didn't have a platform on which to stand."
Oh, I'm sorry. That wasn't what Melania Trump said? I did think it odd that she was referring to herself as Joe Biden, but as I said, I didn't watch the convention so I may have been confused.