Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Give Me or Die

Bern, Baby, Bern:
Senator Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton among nearly every demographic group in the Democratic New Hampshire primary, according to exit polls.

He carried majorities of both men and women. He won among those with and without college degrees. He won among gun owners and non-gun owners. He beat Mrs. Clinton among previous primary voters and those participating for the first time. And he ran ahead among both moderates and liberals.
Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. It's mind-boggling that she could lose in so many demographics, but there it is. Our guides in the MSM would prefer not to discuss Clinton's ethical challenges and serial dishonesty, but people understand it. The real question at this point is whether Barack Obama feels any need to continue protecting Madame Blue by slow-walking the investigations over her conduct at State.

Bernie Sanders is an idiot, but he's sincere. In a time of mendacity, that sort of thing stands out.

Meanwhile, we have The Donald:


Don't worry your pretty little heads about the details. We're gonna win so much, so fast, it'll be huge.


On to South Carolina.

Wipe Your Chin

David Brooks on Barack Obama:
Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.
QED

Must read of the day

Step up to the mic, Walter Russell Mead:
There’s also an attitude problem when it comes to poor governance. A lot of people are just plain slothful and don’t think hard or seriously about whether the basic services on which their city depends are in any way at risk. And in declining cities like Flint and Detroit, a sense of inevitable doom and failure can take hold. This attitude says that nothing is going to work, the problems can’t be solved, and there is no way to afford all the things the city really needs. So why not coast along as smoothly as possible for as long as possible? You can’t fix the problem, so you kick the can down the road. . . until, one day, you can’t.
More, a lot more, at the link.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Best Troll on the Planet

Behold the glory of Donald Trump:


Well played, Shecky. Well played.

News You Knew

Yes, the FBI is actually investigating Hillary Clinton:
The FBI formally confirmed that its investigation connected to Hillary Clinton’s private email server remains ongoing in a letter released on Monday.

The letter from FBI general counsel James Baker comes one day before the New Hampshire primary.

The message does not offer new details about the probe, which the bureau has been reluctant to discuss. However, it represents the FBI’s formal notification to the State Department that it is investigating the issue.

Since last September, “in public statements and testimony, the Bureau has acknowledged generally that it is working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server,” Baker wrote to the State Department. 
So, would you know that if you read, say, the Star Tribune? Nope. Not a word on the homepage this morning. Would you find out about it from, say, the Washington Post or the New York Times? Mr. Google says:

We'd rather not discuss the matter
Actually, if you go through the first four pages of search results, you won't see anything from the Times, or the Post, or even from the Associated Press. It's almost as though we aren't supposed to know.

Monday, February 08, 2016

That's Really Super, Super Bowl

Brief thoughts on the big game and the attendant hoopla:

  • While Peyton Manning's courageous (but pedestrian) performance down the stretch of the season was a big story, I think the quarterback who mattered is John Elway. Elway saw his offensive juggernaut of two seasons ago get crushed by a strong Seattle defense and he determined that the Broncos should have a defense of similar talent and ferocity. He went out and acquired some tremendous talent to help MVP Von Miller succeed. You can win a championship in a number of ways, and it's easy to see the Broncos taking a step (or two) back next year, but winning a championship is the goal and the Broncos made it happen because they were willing to change.
  • I'm not a fan of Cam Newton, but I would cut him some slack over his performance yesterday, both in the game and afterwards. He didn't have enough talent around him to win against the best defense he saw all season. I don't think any other team in the league could have handled that defense.
  • The halftime show was just odd. I've heard most of the songs before, but it felt like a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I suppose it was better than "Up With People," though.
  • I don't have a lot to say about the commercials, either, although I was amused that NARAL got so upset about the Doritos ad with the ultrasound. Some unsolicited advice -- lighten up.
  • Mostly a strong Hall of Fame class, although I continue to wonder why Eddie DeBartolo is going into the Hall -- his 49ers teams were great, but it's difficult to see what difference he made specifically. Brett Favre and Tony Dungy are the guys I'll be watching when the induction ceremony happens. Now we need to get going on Jerry Kramer for next year.
  • And while it's a cold few weeks, pitchers and catchers report in about a week. Can't wait!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Debate

Saw about 2/3 of it. This one is pretty simple to classify.

Loser: Marco Rubio, who seemed to have a software bug and kept repeating himself. He'll be ridiculed for weeks about it. And should be.

Also losing: The great stampede of people and politicians who endorsed Rubio in recent days. Y'all look as stupid as your guy did.

Winners: Well, everyone else, except maybe Carly Fiorina, who was kept off the stage for reasons that escape most of us. No one else hurt themselves much. I expect Donald Trump to win in New Hampshire, but it's possible someone else might sneak up on him.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games---Super Bowl 50 Edition

Old dude, two teams enter, only one will get to wear a ring on their finger. It is the Super Bowl!

Hey man, pull my finger.

Seriously? What are you, 12?

Nah, I was 12 during the Bicentennial.

That's good information -- I'd assumed you were actually one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, but then I realized that couldn't be right.

Why is that?

Crayola didn't go into business until the 1880s.

Good detective work, young fella! I suppose you want me to stop with the antics and pick the game, right?

Yep. It's the big game, Geritol Fan! It's special! And because this Super Bowl is so special, I will be making a Very Special Comment about recent events that may have cost the NFL more than what they hope to gain. It is time to get down to it, so watch me work!

Carolina Panthers (-6) vs. Denver Broncos, in Santa Clara, California. It seems like the Panthers have already been crowned as one of the best teams of all time. Ask an expert:



They dominated the Cardinals two weeks ago and if you ask the experts, there is no way that Denver can win. Well, as always there are some people who do not see that the Broncos have things that Carolina does not. Denver has experience in the Super Bowl, having only been here two years ago. In addition, while Cam Newton has gotten plenty of well-deserved praise, he also has yet to fail in championship games. One thing I noticed -- Carolina seems to have taken elements of the Auburn offense, which Newton was very successful at running in college. However, one thing that Cam has said is going to bite him a bit. He claims that he is really unique and that people are not ready for him. Well, I am sorry Cam. You are not unique. You remind me of Doug Williams, who by the way I consider a trailblazer for African-American quarterbacks, as well as former Michigan quarterback Dennis Franklin, who 40 years ago proved that a quarterback could lead Michigan to success. So what Denver needs to do is to just make Cam work for every single yard, and to keep it close. If Carolina doesn't win, then this whole season will have been a waste, and Cam might have squandered all the goodwill that he had. And in my view, he is not even the best quarterback in the history of his team. Denver 27, Carolina 19.

I'll admit it -- I'm rooting for the Broncos. It would be a great story if Peyton Manning could ride off into the sunset as a Super Bowl winner. I think the young fella has the formula correct. The Broncos were absolutely ferocious in the AFC Championship game and that defense made Tom Brady look ordinary. It was an impressive performance. Can Peyton score enough points to win, though? I'm not sure. Cam Newton is having a tremendous season, but this will be the fastest and nastiest defense he's seen this year. He's made a lot of big plays with his feet, but I'm not sure he can outrun the Denver defense. Still, I think he'll have enough to win this one. Carolina 28, Denver 24.

And now, time for a Special Comment. As we all know, the NFL has decided that the Rams are going to be playing in Los Angeles next year. I am glad that those old Rams fans get to see their team again, and certainly there will be a lot of interest in them next year. However, I think the NFL has made a mistake. First of all, Los Angeles has a lot of entertainment options on fall weekends. Remember, USC and UCLA are very popular and that the Dodgers and Halos are playing well now, so they are still going to get a lot of interest. Will a mediocre Rams team draw consistently? That being said, the other problem is this: The NFL is ending the second year of a record television deal, and the networks are perfectly happy to pay boatloads of money with no team in Los Angeles. If the Rams have trouble selling out their games, especially while they labor for the next 2-3 years in the ancient and dangerous Los Angeles Coliseum, will the NFL be willing to enforce a blackout, which would hurt television ratings in the second biggest market in the country?

In addition, while the Rams will sometimes get sellouts, the worry is that when teams like Pittsburgh and Green Bay come out, there is going to be a loss of home field advantage. One other factor -- don't forget that the Cowboys hold their training camp in Oxnard, so they have at least planted their flag in the region as well. Most of all, the NFL has used L.A. as a lever for years to get teams in other markets to pony up for new stadiums. The old dude wrote about that quite a lot when the league was essentially blackmailing the politicians in the Twin Cities. Do you think that, when the NFL tries to get public money for a stadium, the threat of moving to St. Louis is going to be especially frightening to other municipalities? Los Angeles has had multiple professional teams leave, and the NFL is well aware about that. So why do you give them another shot? Because the NFL thinks that LA needs them. Well, they are wrong. The NFL is doing better than ever without a team in LA, yet now they send the message that no team is safe? All in all, this is a risk that I would never have taken. Ben out!

Friday, February 05, 2016

RIP, Maurice White

Too many people from the world of music leaving us. Maurice White was the main man in Earth Wind & Fire. a band I didn't really appreciate until later on. They were great, though:


That's "Can't Hide Love." And since Mrs. D and I were married on the 21st day of September, it's impossible not to love this one:


You probably have your favorites, too. RIP.

Not good

We spent a lot of time a few years back worrying about the Ebola virus, probably needlessly. We may need to worry about the Zika virus:
The Zika virus’s health effects generally are described as mild – flu-like symptoms for those that show symptoms at all – or not yet certain, with references to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes paralysis, or microcephaly, an often devastating birth defect.

But the linkage to Guillain-Barré, an autoimmune disorder first brought to the American public’s attention three decades ago as a reaction to swine flu vaccine, isn’t new to the current outbreak. Researchers raised the likelihood of a Zika-Guillain-Barré connection two years ago after an outbreak of the virus in French Polynesia, the first time the disease had spread to a population that could be tracked and treated.
Officials in Florida are already on alert:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott expanded the state of emergency to a fifth county today after the discovery of Zika virus cases there.

There are currently 12 people diagnosed with the Zika virus in Florida, up from nine people on Wednesday, Scott said during a news conference. The five counties under a state of emergency are Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa.

All of those diagnosed were infected while out of the United States, in areas where transmission of the Zika virus is ongoing, Scott said.
At this point, the mosquitoes that carry the virus aren't here, but it's a good bet they will make it to the United States. Something to watch this summer.

Shufflin' Crew

As it was happening, I hated it. The 1985 football season was less than enjoyable if you were a fan of the Green Bay Packers. If you were a fan of the Chicago Bears, it was the best of times.

You can say many things, both positive and negative, about ESPN, but one thing is true -- their "30 for 30" film series is often brilliant. I saw a good portion of their most recent film, about the 1985 Chicago Bears, last night. It's brilliant.


It always seemed at the time that those '85 Bears were a force of nature, but one of the many things the film makes clear is that nature was only part of it. These guys were a highly intelligent group. People might remember that defensive back Gary Fencik is a Yale man, but the other players, particularly on defense, were successful because they were able to combine their physical skills with the functional intelligence necessary to make football plays, and to make them consistently.

The other thing that people remember about that team was how they were also a cultural phenomenon. Who could forget this amazing bit of in-season braggadocio:

I may be large, but I'm no dumb cookie
You couldn't avoid the Bears. Madison Avenue beat a path to their doorstep and you would see Walter Payton, Jim McMahon and Refrigerator Perry on your television screens on essentially a daily basis. How they were able to fit in the practices and games in between all the photo shoots is a feat of management by itself.

I would assume that ESPN will re-air the movie several times; I didn't get to see the second half of the movie, but I'm going to watch it as soon as I can. While it's fun to troll Bears fans obsessing about this team, it's easy to see why they do. It really was a magic moment and the men who made it possible were a hell of a team. More than 30 years on, I tip my hat to them.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Fear and loathing in the comment section

Marco's coming -- hide your heart, girl.

One thing I've noticed about the campaign is how maniacal some supporters of Donald Trump are. I've been referring to the work of Eric Hoffer in describing what I'm seeing, because there has been evidence of a cult of personality forming around the guy.

Now that the first votes have been cast, it seems like some of the Trump fans are already starting to panic, especially since they can see the hated GOPe (GOP establishment, for those of you who aren't hip to the lingo) might be coalescing around Marco Rubio. Here is a representative comment I saw last night over at HotAir:

I told you Cruz fans. Now Rubio is going to take this race. Well done, anti Trump protest voters, in your fervor to fellate your Jesus and denigrate Trump, you handed the keys to little Marco.

xxxxxx on February 3, 2016 at 9:11 PM

I found that amusing, so I did something I rarely do -- I engaged this guy:

Maybe Trump could make a better argument than the one Rubio is making. Worth a shot, right? Trump’s still leading, right? If Trump has the stuff to win, what the Cruz fans do shouldn’t matter, right?

Mr. D on February 3, 2016 at 9:18 PM

The panicked Trump fan didn't like that:

Wrong. Cruz has always been the protest vote against Trump. Rubio will clean Cruz’s clock now that Rush is behind him and because he outdebates TV Teddy every time they get on stage. Just remember I said it. If they take out Trump, Rubio’s your nominee.

xxxxxx on February 3, 2016 at 9:19 PM

Heh. So I gave the schlub another chance:

Then maybe Trump should handle Rubio first. One way or another, Trump, and by extension his supporters, need to make up their minds on this one. Drop the whoa is me crap and win! If Trump is going to be president, he’s going to need to beat both Cruz and Rubio, and then beat whatever fugitive from Madame Tussauds that the Democrats run against him. There are no short cuts.

Mr. D on February 3, 2016 at 9:28 PM

His response was hilarious:

The only way this works is if Trump and Cruz gang up on Rubio. They should hatch a deal, let the best man win but first get Rubio out of there.

xxxxxx on February 3, 2016 at 9:30 PM

Hatch a deal with the guy who stole Iowa? After all, that's what Trump was saying yesterday:
Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Sen. Ted Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses, calling for either new voting there or the results to be nullified.

Meanwhile, Ben Carson hit CNN for what he said was an inaccurate report that he was leaving the race on Monday, even though the network only reported that he was heading home to Florida for a short break after the caucuses.

"Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified," Donald Trump wrote a Twitter, one of a series of Tweets attacking Cruz and questioning the outcome of the Iowa caucuses.
The "fraud" in question was that Cruz operatives took the CNN report and emailed it out to their field representatives just as the caucuses were beginning, with an additional suggestion that they share the news and see if they could flip Carson supporters to Cruz. That's not cheating -- that's smart politics. There's no evidence that this gambit was even successful, but never mind that. It couldn't be that Cruz did the hard work of finding and motivating people to come to the caucus. It couldn't have been that the polls were somehow wrong, or that national polling doesn't necessarily tell you what's happening from place to place. It couldn't be that Trump's bluster might have motivated people to vote against him.

So anyway, I had to give the panicked Trump supporter another dig:

Fine, then Trump should do that. If that’s the solution, maybe he should stop talking about Iowa and look ahead. That’s allowed.

Mr. D on February 3, 2016 at 9:34 PM

He didn't respond to that, and it's just as well. Generally, I find a lot of Trump supporters tiresome. I do understand the reason for panic. A big part of the Trump theory of the race is that he's winning everywhere and that he's inevitable for that reason. As it turns out, he might not be inevitable. At this point, no one is inevitable. So now Trump will have to convince people that he has a plan and an agenda for how he intends to execute his plan. Argument by assertion is not going to carry the day.

Announcing

Coming soon to a high school near you
The winter drumline show for 2016. Fearless Maria will be on the floor starting Saturday, February 13 at Foley High School. More shows will follow!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Open thread

The muse tends to come and go and today it appears to be buried under a snowbank. So, we'll make this an open thread. Bring us your topics and discuss!


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Heh

The indispensable John Hayward on Hillary's not-so-good night in Iowa:
She was supposed to be giving a victory speech on Monday night, not tap-dancing around the fact that a weird old radical she was beating by over 50 points last year in Iowa just fought her to a draw.  She’s still trying to co-opt Sanders’ appeal to the “revolutionary” Left, loudly declaring herself a “progressive who gets things done for people.”

She then proceeded to rattle off a list of issues where Democrats have had absolute dominance, under Obama and often for decades beforehand, and declare them all disasters.

“I am honored to stand in the long line of American reformers who make up our minds that the status quo is not good enough, that standing still is not an option, and that brings people together to find ways forward that will improve the lives of Americans,” Clinton said.

That’s pretty harsh on the Democrat who’s been in office for the past seven years, isn’t it?  Only Hillary Clinton can pull us out of the Obama quagmire!
Don't think our famously thin-skinned incumbent didn't notice all that, either. More, a lot more, at the link.

On to New Hampshire

Doubt my wisdom is much different than the conventional wisdom, but here goes:

Go home, folks. Mike Huckabee has suspended his campaign, and good riddance. He can go back to selling patent medicines or whatever it is he does in between campaigns. Rick Santorum isn't going to be president in any world we know. Jim Gilmore barely made it onto the stage. The only candidate in the bottom tier that I really liked is Carly Fiorina, but in the end she wasn't able to turn early momentum into something sustainable. I suspect we'll be hearing from her again, but as a surrogate for one of the other candidates.

Big Christie vs. Karate Kasich. These two candidates got bupkis in Iowa, but both have a chance to keep their campaigns going in New Hampshire. Only one will survive. Of the two, I'd pick Christie, but in the long run he's really running for Attorney General. Kasich has gotten endorsements from approximately 4,387 publications in New Hampshire, but it's difficult to see a path forward for him unless he wins New Hampshire outright, which isn't likely to happen.

It's my turn! Jeb Bush has enough money to keep going all the way to the convention, but he really ought to go home. He's not going to overtake his protege turned nemesis Marco Rubio. Deep down, I suspect he knows this, but I don't think he'll go away quietly or graciously. Too bad, really.

Voices heard, but not heeded. Rand Paul did get a delegate, but that's about all he got. He's not going to make it and probably should start tending to his campaign to return to the Senate. Depending on what happens in the next four years, he may have another opening later on. Ben Carson is a wonderful man, but he's not going to make it.

Rubio rising. Marco Rubio is certainly a viable candidate after finishing strongly last night. His speech sounded like a victory speech. It's a bit presumptuous, but he's certainly moved past Bush, Christie and Kasich in the "establishment lane." He's the most talented politician in the field, but he's got a lot of work to do to convince people he's not a squish. If he holds off Kasich and Christie in New Hampshire, he's got a chance to go a long way.

Classy and huge. The invincible Trump wasn't invincible after all, at least in Iowa. He threw the kitchen sink at Ted Cruz, but in the end was not able to turn his rock star crowds into enough caucus attendees to win. If I were Trump, I'd be very nervous about Rubio at this point. It will be interesting to see if he turns his invective machine in Rubio's direction, and away from Cruz, at least for the next week or so.

Cruzin'. Ted Cruz wins Iowa, turning his superior organization and some key endorsements into a narrow victory. The most significant thing about his win is that he campaigned against ethanol subsidies and still won anyway. If he can make a decent showing in New Hampshire, he'll stick around and have a chance to do well in the South. Certainly a contender.

Bern and Hill. Now that Martin O'Malley has dropped out, it's between an ancient socialist and Lady Blackberry Albatross for the Happy Days Are Here Again side of the aisle. Mrs. Clinton has the hellhounds on her trail at this point and if she gets crushed in New Hampshire, as seems likely, it will be interesting to see how things shake out. Bernie Sanders is not going to be president under any circumstances, but if he wounds Clinton sufficiently over the next few weeks, you can expect to see a lot more of Joe Biden.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Weekend

A few random observations.

  • I really, really, really, really, truly, completely, really, absolutely hate the FAFSA. Filling it out is a great way to destroy an afternoon.
  • I'm apparently supposed to have an opinion on Cam Newton, who will be much in the news this week as he prepares for the Super Bowl. I don't like him, but I will say he's an amazing guy to watch. For me, the problem isn't about his showboating or his braggadocio; for the most part, he backs it up, so it's on his opposition to stop him. He's always had the lingering stench of scandal following him since his remarkable year at Auburn, though, and that's difficult to forget, or forgive.
  • We had a shooting and a police standoff in our neighborhood on Friday night, apparently related to a drug deal gone bad, which took place about two blocks away from our house. We've lived in this neighborhood for nearly 20 years and nothing like that has ever happened before. We also were in the middle of having Fearless Maria's Sweet 16 birthday extravaganza while things were going down. As it happened, we were having dinner at a local Chinese restaurant when the incident started and as we returned home with Maria and 11 of her friends, we had to get past a police roadblock to reach our home. There was never any danger, although the unfailingly polite New Brighton police officer who was manning the roadblock on our street told us to stay put in our house until things were resolved. Not exactly how you draw things up, but the kids all had a good time.
  • Apparently the huge, massive, deadly snowstorm that we've been hearing about for the past week is going to mostly miss us and hit Iowa instead. Personally, I think they've suffered enough.

Iowa

Actual votes are cast today. I don't know how it will turn out, but if the last polling is accurate, we are actually going to see people caucusing for Donald Freaking Trump today. Meanwhile, the other party is offering a choice between a woman who should be measuring for drapes in Leavenworth and a straight-up socialist.

Ain't that America, for you and me.