Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Just read it

There's a lot to digest, but this essay by Angelo Codevilla is the smartest (and depressing) thing I've read all year. I could pull dozens of quotes from the essay, but I'll just go with two. First, on the nature of the ruling class:
In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class's chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.
As we've watched how Washington has handled the Hillary Clinton email scandal, all of Codevilla's assertions are proving correct. Then there's the nature of how opponents are dealt with:
The Declaration of Independence says that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” among which are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These rights—codified in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights—are not civil rights that governments may define. The free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and assembly, keeping and bearing arms, freedom from warrantless searches, protection against double jeopardy and self-incrimination, trial by jury of one’s peers, etc., are natural rights that pertain to human beings as such. Securing them for Americans is what the United States is all about. But today’s U.S. Civil Rights Commission advocates truncating the foremost of these rights because, as it stated in a recent report, “Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon those civil rights.” The report explains why the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights should not be permissible: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”

Hillary Clinton’s attack on Trump supporters merely matched the ruling class’s current common sense. Why should government workers and all who wield the administrative state’s unaccountable powers not follow their leaders’ judgment, backed by the prestige press, about who are to be treated as citizens and who is to be handled as deplorable refuse? Hillary Clinton underlined once again how the ruling class regards us, and about what it has in store for us.
More, a lot more, at the link. Read it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Debate one

Impressions:
  • Trump is Trump -- he has a lot of energy but he's still undisciplined and doesn't focus well. Once he starts to ramble, he gets in trouble. He did a lot of rambling last night -- why the hell was he talking about Rosie O'Donnell? This tendency is why he blew off a potential one-on-one debate with Ted Cruz or John Kasich -- if he has more than one foil, he can play off the others and, from time to time, he can get out of the spotlight. He couldn't do that last night and it was a problem. 
  • He also, inexplicably, let a hanging curveball go by when it came to cybersecurity. Clinton is astonishingly vulnerable on that point, but he didn't seize on it. He has to do better than that. I am glad he gave Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve a shot and it was both smart and accurate to point out that we are in the middle of a bubble.
  • Hillary won on points, but I think she did plant some seeds that could be used against her later on. She got it easy this time -- moderator Lester Holt steered clear of issues that could damage her and didn't ask her to defend any of her past positions or comments. She probably won't get similar treatment from Chris Wallace later on. In her own smirky way, Clinton can match Trump's evident narcissism stride for stride. More about that in a moment.
  • Not sure this debate is going to move the needle much; based on what my social media shows, people who hate Trump still hate him and people who hate Clinton still hate her. And more than a few people hate both of them. I don't see too much winning hearts and minds going on in this election. It's a visceral election.
  • I don't suspect Trump would take my advice, since I'm on record as #NeverTrump, but I would suggest if he really wants to win, he needs to amplify the Hunger Games argument. Life is great in Washington, DC. The suburban areas surrounding the city are among the most wealthy in the country. It's increasingly like the Capitol in the dystopian novels and movies -- a place where the party never ends. Trump has developed some of these themes in his campaign and now is the time to make it clear that Washington is completely out of control. Trump is most effective when he comes on as the avenging angel, ready to tear the playhouse down.
  • One of my favorite songs from the 1980s was a tune called "Welcome to the Boomtown" by David & David. The opening lyric is about a jaded L.A. socialite, but the description fits Hillary Clinton well:  Ms. Cristina drives a nine four four/Satisfaction oozes from her pores. Clinton, like far too many people in the political class, is entirely too pleased with herself and she can't help but let it show. People notice stuff like that and in the current environment, it won't help Clinton. And as the song also says, "all that money makes such a succulent sound." It's pretty succulent in Washington. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Arnie

He seemed human, with his weird-looking backswing and his somewhat ruffled appearance.He was a chain smoker and he liked a few highballs after a round. He wasn't patrician in the least. He was a great ambassador for the game and a worthy champion. Arnold Palmer has died.


I'm too young to have seen Palmer during his heyday -- when Palmer won the Masters in 1964, in the clip I've posted above, I had a rattle in my hand, and I didn't see his great battles with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, among others. I saw plenty of Nicklaus and Player growing up, but while they were great champions, they weren't the same type of personality that Palmer was. While Nicklaus was certainly a greater golfer than Palmer, he was never as popular.

These days golf is technically better than ever, but it's become a sport that's not the same any more. We're about to host the Ryder Cup here in Minnesota and the best golfers in the world will be coming here to play. Not one of them will have the force of personality that Arnold Palmer had. RIP.

Debate

Just a few words about the debate tonight.

  • Most of the paid observers of politics seem to think that tonight's debate will be a game changer. I don't know that it will, actually. Donald Trump is going to do what Donald Trump does at debates and if moderator Lester Holt goes into "fact checking" mode, it won't do a lot to change minds. We don't agree on facts any more.
  • The only way the debate changes the trajectory of the race? If Hillary Clinton has a medical episode on stage. I'm sure she'll come in rested and properly medicated, but on the Left the stakes are high. The fear on my social media feed is palpable.
  • Will I watch? Probably some of it. I won't vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances and I am convinced a vote for Trump would be a move to regret. It's too bad Gary Johnson decided to be Burning Man John Anderson. And no, Ted Cruz's tepid endorsement of the Donald doesn't make a lot of difference.
  • This debate will take place at Hofstra University. It was originally scheduled for Wright State University in Dayton, but that school is having financial trouble and wasn't sure it could pull the event off. Too bad, because if there was ever a venue that was appropriate for such a contest, it would have to be the Nutter Center.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- 9-Game Big Ten Edition

Old dude, I am really glad that the Big Ten has expanded to play 9 conference games.

I am, too. You gotta work hard to get those Rutgers games in there!

So cynical. Glad I have youthful innocence on my side! One of the things that is great, is that teams in the old school Big Ten get to play each other more, and there is one less cupcake game, which the SEC likes to pretend does not exist.

Oh, how else is Presbyterian gonna get to visit Tuscaloosa?

They should probably buy a ticket. But my brilliant skills are my ticket. So, even though I don't see a lot of HYYYYYYYPPPPE! this week, it is time to watch me work.

Colorado State Rams (+17) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers are not playing a conference game this week, since they were on bye last week. The Rams are a team that has been rumored to be a possible expansion candidate for the Big XII. They certainly are a good solid football program, and they would provide you access to the Denver market. Minnesota is a team that is certainly going to be a factor in a wide open West race, considering that they are going to miss at least one of the big boys in the East. This game should be a little scary, but the Gophers should have no problems, right? Gophers 28, CSU 19.

This has trap written all over it. The Gophers need to pay attention to detail here, but I suspect the week off will help them. I think the Gophers will take care of business. Gophers 31, Rams 14.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (+4.5) vs. Michigan State Spartans. This game is start of what is the most brutal stretch of games that the Big Ten could have designed for a team at their offices in Chicago. The Badgers have to play at East Lansing, followed by going down the road to Ann Arbor, followed by hosting A School in Columbus. Wisconsin is banged up, and is going to be starting a freshman quarterback in what is going to be a hostile road atmosphere. Thankfully, Sparty did lose a very decorated and successful senior class, and the Badgers did already win a game against LSU that the experts gave them no chance to. I am curious to see if the Badgers are for real, but I am more curious to see if the Spartans are going to be a bit down. Badgers 20, Spartans 0.

So who are the Badgers, anyway? The team that stared down LSU, or the team that struggled to beat Georgia State? I don't like sending a freshman quarterback into East Lansing, so I'm going the other way on this one. Spartans 24, Badgers 17.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL, despite the fact that some people would bet on it) vs Ripon Red Hawks. Knox College does have a lot of nice students, and we are plenty smart and very talented. The issue is our football program just is not there. Thankfully, this week is a new week, and plus Ripon is never a team that screams powerful team in the Midwest Conference. Knox 19, Ripon 0.

You don't know the history -- Ripon was a feared team for years, but lately you're right. I think this is a close game and we'll give it to the homestanding Red Hawks. Ripon 31, Knox 24.

Minnesota Purple People Eaters (+7.5) vs. Carolina Panthers. This game is unfortunate to be going on during the riots in the Charlotte area. Now, I rarely if ever talk politics, so let's talk football. The Vikings won a very tight game against the Packers, but have suddenly been hit again by the injury bug. Adrian Peterson is going to be out for a few months, and they lost their best offensive linemen. Carolina is a team that has not really broken out much, but you know that Cam Newton is a dangerous playmaker. While Sam Bradford had a very shockingly good performance against the Packers, this time he has a few less buddies in the stands, and the burden is on his shoulders alone. Panthers 45, Vikings 29.

Give the Vikings credit -- they can play defense for sure. I hope Sam Bradford has his insurance paid up, especially with a left tackle who will be on casters. Panthers 31, Vikings 17.

Detroit LOLions (+7.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. The Packer fanbase is really concerned with how questionable things have been. Thankfully, the Packers have a few things going for them. The LOLions will not have Megatron this time around, and the Packers are going to have a nice run of games in Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers goes from a very good player to arguably the greatest signal caller in league history. I still believe that the NFC North is going to be up for grabs on Christmas Eve, and the Packers are traditionally slower starters. Packers 50, LOLions 2.

Aaron Rodgers is angry. The Lions won't like Aaron Rodgers when he's angry. Packers 34, Lions 14.

English Premier League.  AFC Bournemouth (NL) vs. Everton FC. Since the Bears are a dumpster fire and the Cowgirls are irrelevant again, let's discuss some soccer. My beloved Everton have quietly sneaked into 2nd place in the table, and are unbeaten the league. Bournemouth are a team who should be mid table to relegation fighters, and are well managed under Eddie Howe. The Toffees should dig out a result on one of the longest road trips of the year, since Everton is from Liverpool in the northeast of England, and Bournemouth is on the southern coast. AFC Bournemouth 0-2 Everton, goals scored by Lukaku and Bolasie.

Everton won't stay second, but they are having a nice year. Bournemouth isn't much. So yeah, you're right. The question is whether the Bears could beat Everton. I'm guessing not. I don't know who will score for Everton, but just don't say Lukaku in a Virginia senate race. Bournemouth 1, Everton 3.

I know Gino is going to rage at me for picking soccer ahead of the Bears, but technically I never said I couldn't pick soccer games here. Ben out!

Logistics

So why would riots break out in Charlotte, but not in Tulsa, where the police shooting in question seems significantly more heinous? Because it's easier to get the rioters into Charlotte:
"This is not Charlotte that's out here.  These are outside entities that are coming in and causing these problems. These are not protestors, these are criminals."

"We've got the instigators that are coming in from the outside.  They were coming in on buses from out of state.  If you go back and look at some of the arrests that were made last night.  I can about say probably 70% of those had out-of-state IDs.  They're not coming from Charlotte."
That's according to a spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The next question to ask -- which states are we talking about? Are these guys from nearby states? Or somewhere else? Charlotte sits on the border with South Carolina, but somehow I suspect the folks looting semis on the interstate are from the Palmetto State.

And who is paying for the buses? Well, one might look at history:
There’s a solitary man at the financial center of the Ferguson protest movement. No, it’s not victim Michael Brown or Officer Darren Wilson. It’s not even the Rev. Al Sharpton, despite his ubiquitous campaign on TV and the streets.

Rather, it’s liberal billionaire George Soros, who has built a business empire that dominates across the ocean in Europe while forging a political machine powered by nonprofit foundations that impacts American politics and policy, not unlike what he did with MoveOn.org.

Mr. Soros spurred the Ferguson protest movement through years of funding and mobilizing groups across the U.S., according to interviews with key players and financial records reviewed by The Washington Times.
The money trail does lead back to Soros. If ever a guy deserved a little RICO prosecution, it's this guy, but it's not gonna happen while Barack Obama has his thumb on the Justice Department. If you want to know why liberals are so terrified of the Big Orange Nemesis, imagine a Trump Justice Department poking around a few of the organizations on the Left. There's even a roadmap.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Charlotte Sometimes

The world is Rashomon:
 Authorities in Charlotte tried to quell public anger Wednesday after a police officer shot a black man, but a dusk prayer vigil turned into a second night of violence, with police firing tear gas at angry protesters and a man being critically wounded by gunfire. North Carolina's governor declared a state of emergency in the city.

The man was not shot by police who had massed in riot gear to keep the marchers outside an upscale downtown hotel, Charlotte officials announced on Twitter. City officials originally announced the man was dead but later reversed that statement and said he was on life support.

The second night of violent protests added Charlotte to the list of U.S. cities that have erupted in violence over the death of a black man at the hands of police.

With officials refusing to release any video of the Tuesday shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, anger built as two starkly different versions emerged: Police say Scott disregarded repeated demands to drop his gun, while neighborhood residents say he was holding a book, not a weapon, as he waited for his son to get off the school bus.
Emphasis mine. Do you know what happened? I don't. I do know this is happening:

Career opportunities
On Tuesday night, dozens of demonstrators threw rocks at police and reporters, damaged squad cars, closed part of Interstate 85, and looted and set on fire a stopped truck. Authorities used tear gas to break up the protests. Sixteen officers suffered minor injuries. One person was arrested.
Does that help? Probably not. But in most of these cases, that's not the point.
The violence broke out shortly after a woman who appeared to be Scott's daughter posted a profanity-laced, hourlong video on Facebook, saying her father had an unspecified disability and was unarmed. In the footage, she is at the cordoned-off shooting scene, yelling at officers.

"My daddy is dead!" the woman screams on the video, which has not been authenticated by The Associated Press.
It also doesn't help when the police don't understand the problem:
On Wednesday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said: "It's time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story's a little bit different as to how it's been portrayed so far, especially through social media."

The police chief said officers were serving arrest warrants on another person when they saw Scott get out of a vehicle with a handgun. A black plainclothes officer in a vest emblazoned "Police" shot Scott after the officer and other uniformed members of the force made "loud, clear" demands that he drop the gun, the chief said.
Memo to Chief Putney -- you can present facts and evidence, but you're not going to change the narrative.

I also know things aren't over in St. Anthony, and that we continue to have issues throughout the country. It's always easier to look at the Other than to look in the mirror.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

25 Years Ago




A wonderful day and everything that matters in my life flows from it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just a reminder

Take it away, Walter Russell Mead:
America’s public pension funds, which manage trillions of dollars in retirement assets for millions of civil servants, are systematically deceiving taxpayers, the politicians, and municipal bond investors with elaborate accounting sleight-of-hand. The “official” numbers show that public pension funds are struggling; the accurate ones show that the looming fiscal time bomb is so explosive that it may be impossible to defuse.
Mead points us to this piece from the New York Times, which has plenty to keep you awake:
When one of the tiniest pension funds imaginable — for Citrus Pest Control District No. 2, serving just six people in California — decided last year to convert itself to a 401(k) plan, it seemed like a no-brainer.

After all, the little fund held far more money than it needed, according to its official numbers from California’s renowned public pension system, Calpers.

Except it really didn’t.

In fact, it was significantly underfunded. Suddenly Calpers began demanding a payment of more than half a million dollars.

“My board was somewhat shocked,” said Larry Houser, the general manager of the pest control district, whose workers tame the bugs and blights that threaten their corner of California citrus country. It is just a few miles down the road from Joshua Tree National Park.
So why would Calpers want half a million dollars?
It turns out that Calpers, which managed the little pension plan, keeps two sets of books: the officially stated numbers, and another set that reflects the “market value” of the pensions that people have earned. The second number is not publicly disclosed. And it typically paints a much more troubling picture, according to people who follow the money.
So what's going on? Back to the Times:
The two competing ways of valuing a pension fund are often called the actuarial approach (which is geared toward helping employers plan stable annual budgets, as opposed to measuring assets and liabilities), and the market approach, which reflects more hard-nosed math.

The market value of a pension reflects the full cost today of providing a steady, guaranteed income for life — and it’s large. Alarmingly large, in fact. This is one reason most states and cities don’t let the market numbers see the light of day.
If you keep two sets of books in the private sector, it's usually called fraud. More, a lot more, at the link, including a few unpleasant surprises for the municipal bond market.

Monday, September 19, 2016

This should help

The Leader of the Free World takes it very seriously:
My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration, that's on the ballot right now.

And there is one candidate who will advance those things. And there is another candidate who's defining principal, the central theme of his candidacy is opposition to all that we have done.

There's no such thing as a vote that doesn't matter. It all matters. And after we have achieved historic turnout in 2008 and 2012, especially in the African-American community, I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down it's guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good send off? Go vote! And I'm going to be working as hard as I can these next seven weeks to make sure folks do.
And if there's someone well versed in personal insults, it's our president:



Obama's policy legacy is a tattered ruin, but he's a handsome man so his picture will look very nice in the history books.

Meanwhile, in St. Cloud

Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to:
In a few bloody minutes, a man rampaged through a St. Cloud shopping mall Saturday evening, stabbing nine people before being fatally shot by an off-duty police officer. The violence is being investigated as terrorism, federal authorities said.

None of the nine victims, seven men and two women who ranged in age from 15 to 53, was killed in the attack.

In a media briefing after midnight Sunday, St. Cloud Police Chief William Anderson said an off-duty officer from another jurisdiction confronted and shot the suspect Saturday night inside Crossroads Center mall. He said the man — dressed in a private security uniform — reportedly asked at least one victim whether they were Muslim before assaulting them, and referred to Allah ­during the attacks.
So is this guy?
While law enforcement has not disclosed the suspect’s name, his father identified him as Dahir A. Adan, 22. Interviewed Sunday through a translator at his apartment in St. Cloud, Ahmed Adan said his son was born in Kenya but grew up in the United States. Other family members said Dahir Adan was beginning his third year as a student at St. Cloud State University.

Police told Ahmed Adan about 9 p.m. Saturday that his son had died at the mall, he said. He had “no suspicion” of his son being involved in any terrorist activity, he added. Police raided the apartment on St. Germain Street on Sunday morning and seized photos and other materials, Ahmed Adan said.

Police executed search warrants for two apartments, including the one where Adan lived with his father, Anderson said. They also impounded the assailant’s car from the mall parking lot.

Inside the building where the Adans lived, a neighbor said the younger Adan sometimes wore a security guard uniform. A cousin down the hall in the same building described Dahir Adan as a good person who minded his own business.
He minded his own business until he didn't. And note well this assessment, from the same story:
Barakad Omar, a classmate of Dahir Adan at Apollo High School, said he was “a good kid” and an A student.

He was more into sports than religion, said Jama Alimad, a community leader and close friend of the family, who described him as “the most assimilated kid in the neighborhood.” He worked part-time as a security guard at Electrolux Home Products in St. Cloud.
Makes you wonder what the unassimilated kids think.

I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea

Oh no it does not move me
Even though I've seen the movie
Counterterrorism agents were combing through surveillance videos as they hunted for a bomb maker who set off an explosion in New York Saturday night that injured 29 people, putting the city on high alert.

Officials said they were trying to determine if the explosion in Manhattan, an unexploded device that was found four blocks away and a blast earlier in the day about 80 miles away in New Jersey were the work of the same individual or group.
Men come screaming, dressed in white coats
Shake you very gently by the throat
One's named Gus, one's named Alfie
I don't want to go to Chelsea
The Manhattan explosion took place around 8:30 p.m. Saturday on West 23rd Street, near Sixth Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood, shaking buildings, shattering windows and sending people scrambling for cover, authorities said.

“I’m concerned,” said New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill. “We did have a bomb that was detonated…and we have no one apprehended, so of course I’m concerned.” The explosion occurred on Mr. O’Neill’s second day on the job.
Everybody's got new orders
Be a nice girl and kiss the warders


She's last year's model

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Birther of a Nation

I've never, ever thought Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. And he would have been eligible to be president in any event because his mother was an American citizen. So I don't care. Still, it's worth remembering that, as recently as 1991, he had a literary agency portraying him as somewhat more, ahem, exotic than he is now:


As it turned out, he never finished "Journeys in Black and White" and instead wrote the first of his two autobiographies, "Dreams of My Father" instead. One would have thought Obama would have had this document corrected concerning the place of his birth, but he didn't bother. He probably thought it advantageous at the time. After a quarter century, it doesn't really matter very much.

It's always been clear that Lord Orange of the Outer Boroughs has had a lot of fun playing the birther card over the years. Does that matter much? Well, if you believe the amazing screed (labeled as "analysis") on the front page of today's Star Tribune, it's just about the worst thing ever:
It was not true in 2011, when Donald Trump mischievously began to question President Obama’s birthplace aloud in TV interviews. “I’m starting to think that he was not born here,” he said at the time.

It was not true in 2012, when he took to Twitter to declare that “an ‘extremely credible source’ ” had called his office to inform him that Obama’s birth certificate was “a fraud.”

It was not true in 2014, when Trump invited hackers to “please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and check ‘place of birth.’ ”

It was never true. Obama’s citizenship was never in question. No credible evidence ever suggested otherwise.

Yet it took Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality, finally on Friday, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president. 
In fact, it took Trump much longer than that: Obama released his short-form birth certificate from the Hawaii Department of Health in 2008. Most of the world moved on.

But not Trump. He nurtured the conspiracy like a poisonous flower, watering and feeding it with an ardor that still baffles and embarrasses many around him.

He called up like-minded sowers of the same corrosive rumor, asking them how to take a falsehood and make it mainstream in 2011, as he weighed his White House run.

“What can we do to get to the bottom of this?” Trump asked Joseph Farah, an author who has long labored on the fringes of political life.

What he could do — and what he did do — was talk about it, uninhibitedly, on social media, where dark rumors flourish in 140-character bursts and, inevitably, find a home with those who have no need for facts.
You can always tell how worked up a writer really is if you count the adjectives. This guy is kinda worked up. But I understand -- consider what I wrote about the birther controversy, in this feature, back in 2011:
1) Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a U.S. citizen.

2) Even if he weren't born in Hawaii, his mother was a U.S. citizen, which makes him a U.S. citizen. That would be true even if he was born in Kenya, or Indonesia, or beamed down from Planet Zorf. Which he wasn't.

3) We rightly ridicule Andrew Sullivan for the wild-ass theories he progagates about Sarah Palin's son Trig. We stare in disbelief at the spectacle of those who believe 9-11 was some sort of inside job. We marvel and scoff at the cottage industry that continues to surround the assassination of John F. Kennedy, nearly 50 years on. We do these things for good reason. And yet some of our putative friends throw all that common sense out the window, because they wish to believe conspiracy theories that are more in line with fan fiction than reality.

4) You can, I think, believe that Barack Obama's presidency is dunderheaded, inept, mendacious, intellectually vacant and morally bankrupt. You can mention with confidence the notion that he has surrounded himself with knaves, mountebanks, thugs and brown nosers. You can describe his performance in office as that of a dilettante (ahem), a malingerer and someone who is aloof to the point of catatonia. Even if all of these assertions are accurate, his presidency is not illegitimate. Barack Obama won the election in 2008, decisively. He is the President of the United States. So can we give this birther crap a rest, please?
Since then, Obama was reelected in 2012. He's about to leave the stage, thank God. He's not the issue any more, although cleaning up the incredible mess he's leaving behind is Job One for his successor. So let's make a few updated assertions, shall we:

1) Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. I'm sure it was a blessed event.

2) At some point, Barack Obama decided it might be advantageous to pretend he was born elsewhere. Around the time of his 30th birthday, he allowed a publication to state he was born in Kenya. This may have been for marketing purposes or to hide something else (perhaps he was able to gain financial assistance from the colleges he attended), but we aren't ever likely to find out the truth. And in the end it doesn't matter much, 25 years on.

3) That doesn't change the facts of his birth, but it does explain why some people view his upbringing with suspicion.

4) The two candidates most likely to succeed him, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, were born in the United States, in the aftermath of World War II. They are early-period Baby Boomers and as such carry a certain assortment of assumptions that are reflected in their thinking and their actions on the world stage.

5) The question before us is which one is better suited to assume the role that the current president has so comprehensively botched.

6) I don't have confidence that either of them is up to the task, for a variety of reasons.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Opening the Bank Edition

So, this is the biggest Vikings home game in years, as we will finally see how the new stadium for the Vikings looks for a real NFL game.

It's a nice enough joint -- we've been there before ourselves:

This time, all the seats will be filled
Well, for what, a billion dollars? It had better be nice!

True.

We'll see if it lives up to the HYYYYYYYPPPPPPPPPE! Meanwhile, we have other work to do, Geritol Fan, so let's get to it! Watch me work!

Georgia State Panthers (+35) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Despite having people in the national media question how difficult the schedule the Badgers have, they are undefeated and are one of the 10 best teams in all the land. Wisconsin should have no issues with this game, but this is the last easy game for a while, as Big Ten play starts next week and the gauntlet starts. Wisconsin 56, GSU 11.

Panthers is probably a better nickname than "Commuters," but anyway... this is a mismatch. Bucky should romp. Badgers 63, GSU 14.

St. Norbert Green Knights (NL, because Vegas already takes enough bets) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. Knox is a great school, and I really enjoy it here. The problem is that football is something that Knox does not have a winning tradition in. St. Norbert is the big bad bully who wins all the freaking time, but they are not a College that Changes Lives, let me tell you that. Knox 186, St. Norbert 111.

No, but they will kick your butt in most sports. Don't feel too bad about it, though -- they pick on everyone in the league. St. Norbert 45, Knox 14.

A School In Columbus (-1.5) vs. Oklahoma Sooners. Yes, you may have noticed that the Buckeyes have a new name around here. The reason is since they refuse to call Michigan by it's proper name, and that the charter for the school puts it above the many fine higher education choices in the state of Ohio, we can call the Buckeyes what they really are. Columbus's Big Ten team last year was quite frankly an example of what happens when Urban Meyer loses a very good assistant. Tom Herman was the key to the success of the offense, and his leaving to push Houston into a major contender highlighted the value I believe a good offensive mind brings. Meyer has yet to adjust, and that is something that needs to change. Oklahoma lost to Houston earlier in the year, and considering that experience means that Oklahoma has to run the table and win the Big XII outright in order to have any shot. Once again, A School in Columbus will ride the Sweater Vest experience, where success with someone else's recruits will make the fanbase expect way too much and run a good coach out of town. Oklahoma 31, A School in Columbus 14.

I watched some of that Oklahoma vs. Houston game. I don't think Oklahoma is that good. OSU 31, Oklahoma 21.

English Premier League: Tottenham (NL) vs. Sunderland. Tottenham are a major threat in the Premier League this year, but they stumbled on Wednesday in their Champions League opener against Monaco. Thankfully, Sunderland is a huge relegation favorite who lost 3-0 to Everton on Monday. I expect that Spurs will use this match as way to begin their push on all fronts. Tottenham 5, Sunderland 1.

My beloved (well, kinda) Spurs! To dare is to do! COYS! All that! Young fella is right -- Sunderland isn't very good. Spurs are. Spurs 5, Sunderland 0.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-2.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings came into training camp with huge expectations. The future seemed bright, the new stadium was opening, and the Vikings were going to get past the hurt that ended their year against the Seachicken bandwagoners. With Teddy Bridgewater on IR, it is going to be Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford that is going to have to fill the void. The Packers played well last week in the heat against the Jags, but there were some areas that concerned me. The Vikings are going to be jacked up to play in their new palace, but the Packers have won the last 3 times they have crossed the St. Croix. As much as Mrs. D is going to shake her head, the Packers lost their title as Kings of the North, and they want it back. Packers 24, Vikings 22.

Can Sam Bradford do it? Can the the Packers survive the ferocious pass rush? I think so. Sharif Floyd is not playing for the Vikings, nor is Xavier Rhodes, their best cover man. That means the Packers will have time to throw and an open receiver. That's trouble for the Vikings. Packers 31, Vikings 20.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. So the Bears think that they are improving, and that they are going to help decide if the John Fox era is going to be better than the last era. Gino is excited about the way the Bears played against the Texans, but at the same time, the Bears are a team that gets by based on luck, and the Eagles are a sneaky team with a very accomplished quarterback in Carson Wentz, who is no secret to folks who know about what he did in the Fargodome. Eagles 49, da Bearz Still Suck 9.

I think Carson Wentz is gonna be good, but it's tough to call him accomplished when he's only played one game. I also think the Eagle defense is not very good and this game represents a good chance for the Bears to get untracked. I also have Alshon Jeffery on my fantasy team, so. . . Da Bearz 34, Eagles 24.


Meanwhile, back to work for me -- I have tough classes this year, because I go to a College That Changes Lives! Ben out!

Meanwhile, at the Bullseye

The new(ish) CEO attempts to rally the troops:
Standing before a roaring crowd of 14,000 of Target Corp.'s red-and-khaki faithful, CEO Brian Cornell couldn't help but acknowledge some recent "bumps in the road" at the company's annual preholiday pep rally.

Yet the Minneapolis-based retailer's fall national meeting Thursday was to fire up his team for the critical holiday season, and he asked the headquarters employees and store managers flown in from around the county to give him everything they had for the final sprint.

"We have 137 days in front of us to turn this into a winning year, to start that second-half rally," he said, standing on the same stage where he first proclaimed two years ago that Target needed to be cool again.
Those fall rallies were always a hoot. One year I remember seeing Julie Andrews and Beyonce (as part of her old group, Destiny's Child). The meetings didn't change that much, though, and this one won't either. The main problem for Target is buried further down in the Star Tribune story:
"Jon Bon Jovi just opened up for me," John Mulligan, Target's chief operations officer, quipped as he followed the rocker on stage.

Mulligan was new to his role at this time last year, and he told the audience then that his top priority was to reduce out-of-stocks, an issue that has plagued the retailer in recent years as online shopping strained its previously stores-focused supply chain. In the last year, his team has been focused on the problem and has decreased out-of-stocks by 25 percent, he reported on Thursday.
Supply chain and logistics have always been a problem for Target, and based on what I see in the stores the problem has been getting worse. Walmart's greatest accomplishment as a retailer is its supply chain. Amazon is even better at supply chain management. You can bring in Jon Bon Jovi to sing "Living on a Prayer" if you'd like, but unless Target can figure that one out, they don't have a prayer.


A quick rant

My practice is to get up early so I have time to write a blog post in the morning. This morning, I had a problem with Google Chrome not working well. The usual way to deal with this issue is to restart this very old (5+ years) computer. Upon restart, I discovered that Microsoft decided it was time to add "updates," which essentially turned the computer into a brick for a half hour. When it finally began to work again, I went back to Chrome and discovered that the "update" changed all my browser settings and changed the default browser to Microsoft Edge. I have just spent a few minutes turning off several of the "updates."

I don't mind security updates -- the world is full of rat bastards who would steal your files and passwords and whatnot. But I don't want my operating system to turn on things I didn't request.

End of rant. Fortunately, I even have a post label for this sort of thing.