Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Look what you've Dungy

You are allowed to have certain opinions. Make sure you pick the right ones:
“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. 
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen."
 That quote has set off a firestorm. Here's a typical measured response, from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports:
This is Dungy not standing up for his own convictions. It's Dungy using the same old buzzwords that caused society to move so slowly to grant equal rights and opportunities to minorities of all kinds, choosing what's easy over what's right (even if it likely will be easier for the generation of guys who actually play than an old man like Dungy realizes).

Integrated third grades weren't "smooth." A black man on the Dodgers caused "things to happen." The first female executives in the business world weren't welcome by all. Lots of people were aghast at the thought of minorities owning homes, especially in their neighborhood. Politicians that didn't look like the Founding Fathers were upsetting to some. Many bristled against the idea of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, gays, whatever on factory lines, boardrooms, school boards and on military front lines.

This isn't even worth arguing. Caving to the most ignorant and obstinate among us is an embarrassment and should never, ever, be the basis for anything. Ever.
You see, you're supposed to cave to Dan Wetzel. A few points:

  • Dungy is trying to explain how coaches think, especially NFL coaches. They want to keep the focus on the game itself.
  • Anyone who follows the local team understands full well how distractions can mess up a season. Remember the Love Boat? Up until that moment, Daunte Culpepper was considered a solid citizen and a leader of men. Not long after, he tore up his knee and he was out of the league entirely by 2009. 
  • Speaking of distractions, how much fun are the Vikings having now, dealing with their former punter? Our friend First Ringer has an excellent synopsis of that mess over at Shot in the Dark
Wetzel sees a more malign motive from Dungy:

Dungy is an outspoken conservative Christian and if he were to say that he wouldn't have drafted Michael Sam because the Bible that Dungy believes in condemns Sam's lifestyle that would be … well, that would be ridiculous, hypocritical and wrong also, but at least it would seemingly jibe with Dungy's sometimes expressed beliefs.

Sometimes being the operative word.
Dungy will get his mind right. There are plenty of people who will see to that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What passes for thought on the Left these days

Much of what we see and read from the Left is self-congratulatory and dismissive of legitimate concerns. Often, it’s boiled down into bumper sticker-sized graphics that appear on social media. Consider this one:

Let's give every internet meme a non-sequitur

The border crisis is a crisis for many reasons; the largest reason isn’t that it’s some horrible alien horde or invasion, though. The real reason it's a crisis is much more simple than that. Each one of the people coming across the border are arriving because they have specific needs that must be addressed. And in a lot of cases, they are coming to a place that is going to have a hell of a lot of trouble addressing those needs.

We’re hearing reports that the recent arrivals are getting dumped off in places like Nebraska. Let's think about this for a moment. The majority of these folks are coming from Central America, specifically places like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Let’s assume that some of the new Nebraskans are from Guatemala, perhaps hailing from the Quiche region, which is west of Guatemala City and near Lake Atitlan. I was in this region many years ago, as a high schol exchange student. I saw what it was like -- conditions there are pretty horrible and there's little question that the Guatemalan government, then and now, treated the Quiche Maya quite badly. There would be multiple reasons why children would go, or be sent, to el Norte. So, for the sake of argument, a 14-year-old girl from Quiche arrives. She might look something like this young lady:

Where am I going to go?

The girl in this picture was in Mexico, hoping to get north. Say she gets here and the feds send her to Nebraska, bound for Omaha or Scottsbluff, or some place else. What is her condition upon arrival?

  • She might have the clothes on her back, if that
  • She would not have much of any formal schooling
  • She would not speak English
  • She would not speak Spanish, either; instead, she would speak a Mayan dialect, most likely Kaqchikel
  • The chances of finding someone who could speak to her in her native language in Nebraska is even more remote than the village she comes from

Supposedly there are sponsors for this young woman. What if there aren't? If you are a social service official in Nebraska, how do you handle the case? Do you expect any help from the federal government? Would you get any? Or would you be on your own?

Suppose she stays, and you should assume she will stay, because there's not much chance she'll be sent back. She needs to go to school and would need to catch up to her peers. She's going to need education, health care, a place to live. For the sake of argument, we'll stipulate that she has a dream. Can she realize it if she's placed somewhere that doesn't have the resources? Can you just place her in an American high school and be done with it? This is going to happen to these children. It already is happening.

I am highly sympathetic to the plight of immigrants generally. I realize that the Know-Nothings didn't want my Bavarian ancestors coming over here in the 1850s, and that my Irish ancestors, who mostly came over a decade or more before that, were told that they need not apply. I am fortunate that I am a 4th/5th generation American, because I have never borne the brunt of prejudice as some of my ancestors did.

Still, it's important to ask if we have a plan for taking care of thousands of people who have nothing. And posting smart-ass internet memes isn't a plan.

The bench

With Hillary Clinton again looking less than inevitable, the Dems have to consider their bench for 2016. WaPo has a roundup that includes a familiar name:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) will test her folksy politics next month in Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) is coming out this fall with a book, “Off the Sidelines,” that is part political memoir, part modern-feminist playbook and certain to generate presidential buzz. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also is publishing a memoir this fall with a wink-wink title: “All Things Possible.”
Yes, that would be our Amy. Quickly -- tell me five things about Sen. Klobuchar's history and career that make her qualified to be president. Hell, tell me one.

Of course, the alternative might be this guy:

Ahh, yup
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley seems to respond yes to every party speaking invitation that comes his way and is slated to address Democrats in Nebraska and Mississippi in coming weeks. He also endeared himself to liberals in recent days by breaking with President Obama on how to deal with an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border.

Of course, we've got Biden out there, too. And if you really want a blast from the past, take the recommendation of the former commander of Monkey Business:
One Democrat who knows a thing or two about insurgent campaigns, former senator Gary Hart of Colorado, said he intends to huddle with California Gov. Jerry Brown at their upcoming Yale Law School reunion (Class of 1964) to chat about the possibility of Brown running for the White House.

“Don’t rule out my law school classmate,” said Hart, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1984 and 1988. “If you pay attention to his career, you see that he does very unexpected things.”
It would be worth mentioning that Jerry Brown ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1976, 1980, and 1992, a Harold Stassen-like record of achievement, and with a similar success rate. In fact, every year that Brown ran, so did Stassen. I've been checking to see if William Jennings Bryan also ran in those same elections, which seems possible.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


The fate of those poor souls on Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17, and those below:
First came the loud explosion that made buildings rattle: then it started raining bodies.

One of the corpses fell through the rickety roof of Irina Tipunova's house in this sleepy village, just after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 exploded high over eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are fighting government forces.

"There was a howling noise and everything started to rattle. Then objects started falling out of the sky," the 65-year-old pensioner said in front of her grey-brick home.

"And then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen, the roof was broken," she said, showing the gaping hole made by the body when it came through the ceiling of the kitchen in an extension to the house.
Meanwhile, the pro-Russian rebels that probably shot the plane out of the sky aren't letting the investigators find out much:
International monitors investigating the Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine said Friday the team was not given full access to the site and was greeted with hostility by armed men.

"There didn't seem to be anyone really in control," Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe team, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Armed men, apparently pro-Russia militants, loosely guarded the area but couldn't answer the monitors' questions, he said.
Oh, there's someone in control, all right. One hint: it isn't this guy.

Making the rounds

This old National Lampoon parody has been making the rounds lately:

It was a takeoff of ads like this, that Volkswagen ran at the time:

I remember Stanley Siegel from his days in Green Bay. He later went on to considerable success with WABC in New York.

By the way, it was 45 years ago when the Conscience of the Senate drove off the Chappaquiddick Bridge and left Mary Jo Kopechne to die.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Give the Drummer Some -- Bumped

Fearless Maria is now in high school(!) and is a member of the Irondale Marching Knights Band. She's a percussionist and is in the pit. It's a great opportunity for her, as Irondale historically has one of the best marching band programs in the state, with a national reputation as well. So we're delighted for her.

Of course, as anyone who's involved in youth activities well knows, if you are a parent you're usually on the hook for fundraising. So for the first time in the history of this feature, the blog becomes a "bleg."

Maria would love to sell you an Irondale Marching Knights Mega Raffle Calendar. Here's how it works --

* You pay $25 to enter. The ticket goes into the drawing and you get a borderline stylish calendar with information about the program.
* The Irondale Marching Knights pull a winning ticket every day, with prizes ranging from $30 - $250, with total prizes of $20,100 awarded throughout the year.
* If you win, they will mail the prize to you. You can also check the Irondale Bands website for daily winners.
* You have about a 1 in 8 chance of winning, which isn't too bad, actually.

If you're interested, drop me a line at my email address, which you can find by clicking the "Mr. D" profile on the sidebar, and I'll hook you up. Sales are available through September 29, with the first drawings starting on October 4.

Thanks for your kind attention.

Grammar Alert

Like most satirists, Weird Al Yankovic has been hit-or-miss over his long career. This latest song is genius, though:

Most entertaining grammar lesson outside of Schoolhouse Rock. I do wonder what Sister Renita would think about it, though....

Geography Lessons

Time was that immigration issues were essentially issues for border states. Not so much anymore:
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has denied a request from federal authorities to temporarily house up to 2,000 illegal migrant children from Central America at the Southbury Training School.

The state Office of Policy and Management wrote in an email Monday that its concerns about the aging school’s condition, the sensitive nature of caring for the developmentally disabled clients already there, as well as several legal and procedural hurdles, prevent Connecticut from assisting.
Same thing in Maryland -- no room at the inn:
After his strong criticism of the Obama administration's plans to return thousands of young undocumented migrants back to Central America, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley asked a top White House official that the children not be sent to a site that was under consideration in his home state, sources familiar with the conversation said.

"He privately said 'please don't send these kids to Western Maryland,'" a Democratic source told CNN. The heated discussion between O'Malley and White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz occurred during a phone call late Friday evening, sources familiar with the conversation added.
Setting O'Malley's cynicism aside, at least he and Malloy were asked if they'd take people. In Nebraska, you don't get that courtesy:
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman believes federal authorities are conducting secret operations by sending immigrant children into states without the knowledge of state officials.

Heineman told Fox News he learned from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., that 200 unaccompanied immigrant children were placed with relatives or sponsors in the state. Heineman says no federal officials notified them that would be happening.

“We want to know the names of those individuals, who their sponsor is. Is their sponsor legal? What communities did you send them to? Why are they conducting a secret operation, essentially, transporting them all over the country … and the federal government won’t tell us what’s going on.”
Murrieta is everywhere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lightning Round 071514

Flashing lights:

  • The All-Star game turned out well for the Twin Cities. Good game and everyone seemed to have a good time. It will be interesting to see if MLB ever comes back, or if we'll have to build 'em another new stadium.
  • Jesse Ventura isn't going to win his lawsuit. On the bright side, maybe he'll go away now.
  • Barring that unlikely possibility, look for Ventura and Chris Kluwe to go out on a "we're outspoken, therefore you must love us" tour.
  • It gets tiresome writing about the myriad misbehaviors of Barack Obama and his administration. Which, I assume, is a feature, not a bug. There's just too much ground to cover.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dream On, Fantasy Girl

I wrote last week about an interesting piece concerning Classic Rock radio; both its ubiquity and its regional variations. Out of curiosity, I started writing down some songs I'd heard on local radio over the weekend, just to get a flavor of what's out there. A few particulars:

  • I was bouncing between KQRS, "JACK-FM" (KZJK) and KOOL-108, which lately has become much more of a classic rock station, more or less abandoning the oldies format.
  • The songs all came on while I was running errands, mostly on Saturday and Sunday.
The first song I heard was the #1 song reflected in the national research, "Dream On" by Aerosmith. After that, I heard the following:

Black Dog, Led Zeppelin
Take It On the Run, REO Speedwagon
Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty
Under My Thumb, the Rolling Stones
Pretty Woman, Van Halen
After Midnight, Eric Clapton
Fantasy Girl, .38 Special
Fooling Yourself, Styx
Seen All Good People, Yes
Fool for the City, Foghat
Beast of Burden, Rolling Stones
Sea of Joy, Blind Faith
Don't Fear the Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult
All I Need is a Miracle, Mike + the Mechanics

A few thoughts:

  • The only song that surprised me a bit was the number from Blind Faith, a short-lived supergroup that featured Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Ginger Baker. While Clapton and Winwood are both easy to hear on the radio, Blind Faith was a bit of a failed experiment.
  • The Stones were the only repeat band and "Under My Thumb" was the oldest song of this group, dating back to 1966.
  • The most recent song on this list is the one from Mike + the Mechanics, which dates to 1985.
  • Do any of these songs really hit you where you live? I personally like a number of these songs, but mostly they aren't particularly interesting or challenging.
  • The most interesting set of songs I heard over the weekend came from the Muzak at Culver's. That's a future post.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Access Market

Maureen Dowd, wandering off the reservation for the moment, isn't enjoying a Chelsea morning:
With her 1 percenter mother under fire for disingenuously calling herself “dead broke” when she left the White House, why would Chelsea [Clinton] want to open herself up to criticism that she is gobbling whopping paychecks not commensurate with her skills, experience or role in life?

As the 34-year-old tries to wean some of the cronies from the Clinton Foundation — which is, like the Clintons themselves, well-intended, wasteful and disorganized — Chelsea is making speeches that go into foundation coffers. She is commanding, as The Times’s Amy Chozick reported, up to $75,000 per appearance.

Chozick wrote: “Ms. Clinton’s speeches focus on causes like eradicating waterborne diseases. (‘I’m obsessed with diarrhea’ is a favorite line.)”
I believe the term is logorrhea, but we'll leave that aside. Back to Dowd:
There’s something unseemly about it, making one wonder: Why on earth is she worth that much money? Why, given her dabbling in management consulting, hedge-funding and coattail-riding, is an hour of her time valued at an amount that most Americans her age don’t make in a year? (Median household income in the United States is $53,046.)
Since someone has to answer the rhetorical questions, here you go:

  • She's not worth $75,000 by herself. Having access to the Clintons is worth quite a lot, though, and if you don't think that the Clintons pay attention to their benefactors, you're not paying attention. The Clintons pay attention to everything.
  • It's not just 34-year-olds who don't make 75 large per annum; it's most Americans, period. 
But Dowd's not done:

There was disgust over Politico’s revelation that before she switched to a month-to-month contract, Chelsea was getting wildly overpaid at $600,000 annually — or over $25,000 per minute on air — for a nepotistic job as a soft-focus correspondent for NBC News.

Chelsea is still learning the answer to a question she asked when she interviewed the Geico gecko: “Is there a downside to all this fame?”

The Clintons keep acting as though all they care about is selfless public service. So why does it keep coming back to gross money grabs? It’s gone from two-for-the-price-of-one to three-for-the-price-of-20.
Why do the Clintons do this? Seriously? Because they can. Dowd may tut-tut and clutch her pearls a bit, but she'll have their back when it really matters. And why not take the money? People are willing to give it to them. I offer my wisdom for free on this blog and it's worth every penny. In my day job I charge a little more than that. It's what the market will bear.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sitting here in Queens/Eating refried beans

Tommy Ramone died yesterday; he was the last of the original members of the Ramones. I don't want to overrate the Ramones, but they were a hell of a lot of fun and they had their moments. Here are two from their 1977 release, "Rocket to Russia":

I really didn't discover the Ramones until I got to college in 1981, but in retrospect it's easy to understand why they must have been a breath of fresh air for the lucky folks who did get to hear them. We got a diet of this stuff when I was growing up:

Although I didn't hear this song until later, the Ramones wanted something different:

The 70s were a strange time -- here's a video from network television of the era that, ahem, speaks for itself:

And let's not forget this event, which happened 35 years ago today:

I missed the Disco Demolition because I was still in Guatemala as a high school exchange student at that point. You could argue that the 70s ended that night, though. You certainly didn't hear much disco after that day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

We don't need no steenkin' oversight

Not a smidgen of corruption:
The new emails also raised new questions for some lawmakers about Ms. Lerner, the now-retired head of the IRS exempt organizations division who has become a focus of the inquiry. The emails show her urging colleagues to be cautious about what they say in their emails, because Congress had previously tried to obtain them.

“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails—so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Ms. Lerner wrote. “Someone asked if [instant messaging] conversations were also searchable—I don’t know, but told them I would get back to them. Do you know?”

“[Instant] messages are not set to automatically save as the standard; however the functionality exists within the software,” the technician wrote back. “My general recommendation is to treat the conversation as if it could/is being saved somewhere, as it is possible for either party of the conversation to retain the information and have it turn up as part of an electronic search.”

“Perfect,” Ms. Lerner replied.
It is perfect -- you can get away with anything if you choose membership in the right gang. John Hayward, yet again, making the salient point:
Crime almost always involves some cost/benefit analysis – from robbery, to violating the U.S. border, to high government officials taking bribes or abusing their powers.  The potential rewards are balanced against the risk of detection and prosecution.  The rewards for what Lois Lerner did were vast – it is quite possible she helped turn the 2012 election, as the entire U.S. media would be loudly explaining to you every single day, if this was a story about Republican operatives using the IRS against left-wing groups.  The risk of detection and prosecution is essentially zero.  The next Lois Lerner will shred hard drives, conveniently fail to print hardcopies, and take the Fifth.  The next Tax Exempt Organizations bureaucracy will drag its feet for years and dribble out subpoenaed documents to frustrated congressional overseers, while Party hacks scream that the whole thing is a phony scandal.  The next John Koskinen will claim he doesn’t know anything about anything.  Therefore, it will happen again.
Of course it will. We do not have public servants. We have rulers.

Home truth

The scales having fallen from her eyes a number of years ago now, Peggy Noonan asks a question she can answer:
Meanwhile some in the conservative press call the president incapable, unable to handle the situation. But he is not so stupid he doesn't know this is a crisis. He knows his poll numbers are going to go even lower next month because of it. He scrambled Wednesday to hold a news conference to control a little of the damage, but said nothing new.

There is every sign he let the crisis on the border build to put heat on Republicans and make them pass his idea of good immigration reform. It would be "comprehensive," meaning huge, impenetrable and probably full of mischief. His base wants it. It would no doubt benefit the Democratic Party in the long term.

The little children in great danger, holding hands, staring blankly ahead, are pawns in a larger game. That game is run by adults. How cold do you have to be to use children in this way?
Everything is for the children.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Good to Be King

The invaluable John Hayward, being invaluable:
The disturbing political genius of Barack Obama was to realize that many of the limits on executive power are theoretical.  Separation of powers has become a gentleman’s agreement over the past century.  A spirited historical argument can be had over exactly when the process began in earnest, but the bottom line is that ambitious presidents realized the executive could use its power to expand its power, in a way the other branches of government can’t quite match.  Sure, you can point fingers at Supreme Court justices or members of Congress, left and right, who pushed the limits of their authority in various ways, but the executive is uniquely suited to do things like what Palin accurately accuses Obama of doing on the border: deploying the immense resources of the federal government to take actions that change the rules.

However we might chart the history of this degeneration – perhaps it was simply an inevitable result of the central government growing larger, producing a spreading mass of bureaucratic weeds beyond the reach of either legislative gardeners or the public – the bottom line is that Barack Obama realized there’s virtually nothing anyone can do to stop him, provided the media doesn’t turn against him and gin up massive public outrage.  Quite a few of the restrictions on power are now effectively enforced by the media, which is is very strongly partisan, and also favorably disposed toward increasing the size of government.  The same people who went nuts over everything George Bush did are utterly complacent, or even actively supportive, when Obama does the same thing but ten times worse.
Emphasis in original. Hayward is discussing the quixotic call from Sarah Palin for impeachment for the Leader of the Free World, but his larger point is more important. Everyone, including Sarah Palin, knows that any attempt to impeach Barack Obama is a nonstarter. We have at least a half dozen political scandals going on at the moment and not one of them will bring Obama down. You can't, because the executive branch has an overwhelming amount of resources available to reward friends and punish enemies. A great deal of law enforcement is done through regulation, not statute, and as long as the agencies are on board, a president can do damn well whatever he pleases. There's a reason that Obama is willing to spend his time shooting pool with John Hickenlooper and fundraising, all while pointedly refusing to join Texas politicians from both sides of the aisle when they ask him to visit the border; he'll pay no real political price for it. Back to Hayward:
There’s always the danger that a serious impeachment threat would rally disaffected Democrats around a President with cellar-dwelling approval ratings, with perhaps enough spare energy to influence some congressional races.  This is, again, a political consideration, not a structural argument… but the structure is inert without political force to animate it.

Which is not a bad way to sum up the problem with living in a post-Constitutional non-Republic: there aren’t many abstract limits on power, and the public is generally comfortable with that.  They’re getting more into this idea of an “elective monarchy,” which is just a way of putting a charismatic human face on the sort of majority mob rule the Founders were terrified of.  The average person interprets this system as “Whatever the majority supports, the government is empowered to do,” but a more accurate rendition would be “the government can do anything it wants, unless a substantial majority says no.”  Both of those creeds are a horrible way to run a Republic, but there’s a world of difference between them, and the latter is much worse.
Again, emphasis in original. Dick Cheney claimed that his boss had enormous power over the government when he promulgated the notion of a "unitary executive."  Cheney was mostly talking about foreign policy and warmaking in particular, but if the president has such powers in that arena, it's difficult to imagine that he wouldn't be able to effectively extend similar powers in domestic matters. That's what's going on here. There was a time when liberals denounced this sort of thinking. Not any more.

Gino on the Scene

You may not find much news about the standoff in Murrieta from the MSM, but we're fortunate to have a correspondent on the scene:

The anti-migrant protestors seem like an honest bunch to me. I went there twice over the weekend... to check things out... get a vibe for the scene in person. While I was there, a dude bout my age walked up and offered to bring sodas, bottled water, some sandwiches... "whatever you need". He spoke in a clear, proper English with an obvious Spanish accent (Think Ricardo Montalban from Fantasy Island). I struck up some convo with him.
He's a migrant from Argentina, many decades ago... (paraphrasing) "who did it 'the right way, when nobody gave me anything'.  He stressed: I'm not anti-immigrant. I'm not anti-Latino. I am both, and pro both. My children are Latinos and Americans... And I'm an American, by choice. First and always. My choice. They need to do it the right way, with the right heart. This country gave me a chance when my old country never did. Have to respect that."
Gino has more details at the link, including observations on strategy and his own efforts at being, ahem, entrepreneurial.