Monday, February 29, 2016

Someone to Watch Over Me, Part Three

Still talking about Trump, yes. In the past few posts, we've discussed the penchant for many observers, particularly on the left, to treat Trump's supporters in the manner that a cultural anthropologist treats exotic societies. Step up to the mic, Aaron Barlow:
Trump’s supporters, however, are something else again. Finally feeling a spotlight on themselves, they are people who have felt forgotten for generations. They are not descended from the American identity as was it imagined and written in New England and imagined and crafted separately by the Southern white elite. That identity was only endured by them. The great debates of the 19th century only saw them as grounds for extension of the North/South conflict as they moved west, or those debates ignored them. Ignored them, that is, until they were useful to the new myths concerning the West, ones crafted by the intellectual elite of New England and by East Coast writers generally. But those myths had nothing to do with the real lives on the prairies or in the mountains—and the people there knew it.
Is that it? He says more:
While New England and New York were developing the first real American intellectual and artistic culture and the South was building its antebellum “paradise” on the backs of slaves, the poor Americans of the Appalachians and then of the West were busily engaged in a genocide of Native Americans that no one wanted to praise or even admit was happening. At the same time, they were eking out a living on land that often, as soon as they tried to lay claim to it, turned out to be “owned” by someone from the East. They had no time for what Leo Marx calls the “fully articulated pastoral idea of America” that had emerged on the back of the Enlightenment and that was popular as an ideal in the East. Whatever garden these poorer Americans could find or create or conquer or defend was not often even theirs for very long. More frequently than we imagine, they were forced once again to move farther west and to start from scratch—again. Poverty breathed down their necks; little of their lives would ever qualify as “pastoral.”
Emphasis mine. We'll get back to that. More:
Numerous theories have been put forward to explain the differences between the uncouth of the frontier (and then settled) “interior” of America and the civilized East (and then, West) Coast. Some writers blame the land that had seemed so promising, others blame class distinctions, and still others see the lack of civilizing government as the problem. Unfortunately, all the writers were from the East (or from Europe) until well into the 19th century; those actually from the frontier culture had little voice in the discussion, no ability to ground the debate in the actual facts of the matter as seen by the people there. As they would remain for generations more, these people had been made mute. Few outsiders understood either their perspective or their background, allowing erroneous conceptions to be put forward unchallenged and then to become received wisdom. The anger of the Bundy family and its supporters, for example, is real, even if we on the coasts see it as misplaced.
Getting closer. Now, the nut:
Trump’s campaign is giving such people voice in a way that their “champions,” those already stalwart in the Republican Party, never have. Trump is not telling them what they believe or even what they should believe but is reflecting frustrations that have been bubbling up within them for generations. The leaders of the party, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and the others, are acting on old assumption about the mass of white America, that it has no real culture of its own—believing it their duty to impose one.
There it is. It's easy for any of us to imagine that the way we choose to live our lives is the normal way, the default. It's especially easy if we live among others who largely agree with our own worldview. I suspect Barlow is wrong about the amalgamation of politicians he lists -- I don't see that Rubio or Cruz are leaders yet, but Bush and Kasich share many of the same notions that have held sway in Republican politics for many years.

I think the impulses involved are contradictory, but make sense on their own terms. Limited government, the goal of most movement conservatives, is quite apart from what I'm hearing. Immigration is a hot button issue precisely because it's a sign that the government is acting on behalf of only certain sectors of the population. Gino summed up the impact yesterday:
[o]ne of the most insulting things i've ever heard from a politician was from George Bush, trying to push his amnesty with no intent of securing the border... claiming: they do jobs americans wont do. which is bullshit on its face to anybody who's seen a construction crew building tract homes today... or who the janitor was in my grade school 40 yrs ago.
I suspect that most Trump supporters don't dislike government per se. What I think causes the animosity is the very real sense that those who control the levers are operating on assumptions that are either romanticized or ignorant. It's a worthy enough impulse to offer noblesse oblige, which is the hallmark of every Bush who has walked the national stage, but the recipients aren't really looking for a helping hand delivered as a pat on the head. Instead, what I suspect many Trump supporters are really looking for is something else -- a government that removes obstacles, instead of imposing them. Immigrants are competition, an obstacle. Trump is promising to remove obstacles, so that people can get jobs and get on with their lives, without the overweening cultural assumptions that flow with the aid.

We're not done with this topic.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Someone to Watch Over Me, Part Two

Another mainstream pundit starts to figure it. This time, it's Peggy Noonan (unfortunately, link behind a paywall). Here's the nut of it (via Instapundit):
There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful — those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them — in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union — literally have their own security details.

Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.
They also control the culture:

In Hollywood, as we still call it, where they make our rough culture, they are careful to protect their own children from its ill effects. In places with failing schools, they choose not to help them through the school liberation movement — charter schools, choice, etc.— because they fear to go up against the most reactionary professional group in America, the teachers unions. They let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.

This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.
And the lessons have been pretty clear:
If you are an unprotected American — one with limited resources and negligible access to power — you have absorbed some lessons from the past 20 years’ experience of illegal immigration. You know the Democrats won’t protect you and the Republicans won’t help you. Both parties refused to control the border. The Republicans were afraid of being called illiberal, racist, of losing a demographic for a generation. The Democrats wanted to keep the issue alive to use it as a wedge against the Republicans and to establish themselves as owners of the Hispanic vote.

Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration — its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine — more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.

It was good for the protected. But the unprotected watched and saw. They realized the protected were not looking out for them, and they inferred that they were not looking out for the country, either.
Personally, I'm not 100% protected from the depredations of the age. But I do have advantages. I have a college education and a skill set that gives me options, should I need to exercise them, in an economy that's based more on exchanges of ideas and information than on physical labor. We aren't going to get the immediate post-World War II era back; it was an unprecedented time in history. But it won't do to ignore the concerns of so many of our fellow citizens.

Since the time of FDR, the Democrats have used the song "Happy Days Are Here Again" as part of their symbolism. The Democrats have held the White House for 15 of the last 23 years. Things haven't been happier for a lot of those years. The Democrats have also made the claim that they are the party of the working man, even before the days of FDR. A significant group of working men and women left the party, at least temporarily, when Ronald Reagan came to power. These voters, and more often their children and grandchildren, are now looking at a corrupt technocrat as the likely standard-bearer for the Democratic Party. What enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton there is comes from the protected and their enablers. Donald Trump is seeking a different audience, speaking to a different group of voters. The question becomes, at this point, which group is larger? I'm beginning to believe we're going to get an answer to that question in November.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Someone to Watch Over Me

I think there's a tendency among those of us who have college educations of a certain type to look at people we don't understand as an anthropologist might, as a case study. It's a condescending way to look at the world and every time I find myself doing it, I start to cringe a little bit.

Some of our loftier observers are starting to say things that mesh with what our friend Gino has been trying to tell us. I quoted the piece from Bill James earlier in the week. Now here's another smart take from the invaluable John Hayward:
Identification has been Trump’s secret weapon all along. Sure, he’s entertaining, and he did an absolutely amazing job of demolishing the other candidates, back when there were 16 of them. He turned Jeb “Shock and Awe” Bush into a $150 million firecracker that sputtered for a while without ever going off. He made A-list pundits look like fools for confidently declaring that some other candidate had “destroyed” or “castrated” him during previous debates.

He threw down the iron gates of political correctness, shrugging off gaffes that should have terminated any other campaign. The mainstream media – Hillary Clinton’s little helpers – were like the surveillance tank crew in Independence Day, reporting with awe and dismay the results of a nuclear strike on the alien warship over Houston: “The target remains.”

Trump’s confidence sells very well after years of Barack Obama’s abject failure and corruption, his endless lowering of the standards America sets for both its leadership and itself. After years of being told to accept the incompetent execution of billion-dollar projects, zero accountability for abuses of power, foreign policy that made America a joke to its enemies and a menace to its friends, and a New Normal of economic mediocrity, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” really is a hell of a rallying cry. It’s exactly what people want to hear, especially Republicans dejected over party leadership even worse than Obama’s national leadership.
That's part of it, but there's more, especially the condescension. Back to Hayward:
Granted, the likely Democrat candidate this time around is a charisma-free robot with no discernible skill at lying despite a lifetime of practice, but identification will be forcibly manufactured for Hillary Clinton by her friends, donors, and former employees in the media. Literally half the country will be instructed to vote for her because she has the same genitalia they do, while any man who dreams of voting with the same criteria will be made to feel ashamed of himself. The Democrats’ dependency army cares about nothing except keeping their benefits coming, and would vote for a bowling ball with a wig on it.

It’s not easy to create a natural sense of identification that can overwhelm those advantages, but Trump seems able to do it… perhaps even with a decent number of Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters who seriously loathe Clinton, and feel betrayed by the outcome of the Democrats’ rigged primary. It’s hard to imagine Cruz building a rapport with those folks, and Rubio will probably fare only a little better, once the Democrat media finishes smearing him as the Hispanic Uncle Tom. (That’s what Telemundo Lady’s job was last night, in case you nodded off during her diatribes.)

Trump critics comfort themselves by dismissing his supporters as fools and vicious fringe types, which doesn’t seem like a very good strategy for winning them over… and it’s factually incorrect, as clearly demonstrated by Trump’s victory margins. If you think he’s winning by appealing to some lunatic fringe, you are simply wrong, and your error can be empirically demonstrated with both Super Tuesday polling and the cold, hard results of primaries gone by.  
Emphasis in the original. I still don't think it ends well, but I understand the sentiments. This is not unfeeling rage, or racism, or any of the other things that I am obliged to decry. Go back to what Gino said earlier in the week on the long comment post:
Trump is hope for a lot of people in my class.
they love their country, and the middle-class life they used to have. they don't want to burn it down, they want to make it great again... but most of all, they want to feel safe again. they don't feel safe, and haven't for a long time. lose a factory job in your 40's, where will you find another with the skills you've developed?
It's a plutocrat thing. Trump operates in that world, which is why I'm suspicious of him, but he has a lot of outer borough in him. He's New York, but he's not Manhattan. He's Queens. He's not Edina, or Lake of the Isles, or Mac Groveland. He's Robbinsdale. He's Oakdale. He speaks directly to a constituency that national Republicans are loath to acknowledge. And more people than we know are hearing the message. And taking an anthropological view of things doesn't help.

George and Ira Gershwin were on this ninety years ago:

Won't you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me

They don't feel safe and haven't for a long time. We'd better keep listening.

Poetry reading

I didn't watch the debate last night because I was attending a poetry reading in the artsy part of Nordeast and then had to give one of my poet pals a ride back downtown, then pick up Fearless Maria from drumline practice. In between all that, I heard some of the debate on the radio, which is a far different experience than watching it. If you can't see the faces and the gestures, you are left with the words and not the images. So as I worked my way from 6th and Hennepin back to the high school, my impression of what I heard was as follows:
  • It was clear that Marco Rubio was trying to get a few blows in on The Donald, and if you are amenable to his campaign, you might believe he succeeded. Listening on the radio, he sounded a little like Fozzie Bear, trying to milk the punchlines every time he uncorked one. It's useful to take the attack to the Donald, but I wonder whether it worked.
  • Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz. He's the smartest guy on the stage, but he's not going to win. You don't pick up the smarm when you hear him on the radio, but that doesn't help him when most people are watching on television.
  • Ben Carson isn't going to win, either, and as usual he was complaining about not getting a chance to speak. The most interesting thing he said was that he was on the business end of an IRS audit, but only after he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and was critical of the current occupant. If that's true, it's a huge story.
  • In re John Kasich, here's the definitive verdict:
  • Mmmm... ramen
As for The Donald, well:

Again, when you listen on the radio you don't get the whole picture, but it was striking how utterly vacuous he sounds when all you are experiencing is the voice. A lot of the bully boy crap he engages in is particularly gratuitous; really, what does slagging Hugh Hewitt about his ratings accomplish? Everyone else is a choke artist and a liar. You'd think he'd just dispense with the pretense, go full Rickles and call Cruz a hockey puck, which would be as effective an insult and ring the Canada bell at the same time.

Does any of it move the needle? Probably not. Trump is probably going to be the nominee and there's a decent chance he'll be the next POTUS. We wanted Ronald Reagan and we're gonna get Leo Gorcey instead.

Failed sonnet

Maybe twice I planned to purchase asters
At the farmer’s market, but they had narcissus
Instead and I grabbed a handful carelessly
And threw them sideways in a messenger bag. I’ve
Never had presentation skills; my shirt tail
Was at liberty and when I stopped by you said
The wind tunnel effect was less than
Adorable. I remember how your red pillow

Mocked me from the corner of your bed
And your Kraft Mac and hot pot were always
Arrayed with care behind the sliding bamboo
Closet door. My friends suggested you were
Going places, with your favorite scissors, with
The perforations raw in a messenger bag

Thursday, February 25, 2016

il miglior fabbro

I'm a big fan of Bill James, who is best known for his writing and statistical work concerning baseball. He has interesting things to say about The Donald:
I have despised Trump for 35 or 40 years, however long he has been a national figure, and I don’t intend to give this up now, or after he becomes president. Of all of the people who are running for president or have now dropped out of the race, Trump is absolutely the last one I would vote for.

I could summarize the reasons for this in five bullet points:

(1) I believe Trump is more interested in what is good for Donald Trump than in what is good for America. Not that the same could not be said about many of the other candidates, but it seems to me that this has to be more of a concern in the case of a man who has spent 30 years plastering his name to everything he could put his name on.

(2) I don’t think Trump’s background in business prepares him for the challenges of the presidency.

(3) I think Trump’s hard-ass approach to problems would be very dangerous for our nation in the presidency, and might have terrible consequences for all of us.

(4) I intensely dislike self-promotion. Trump is the nation’s most notorious self-promoter—and was before he decided to run for president.

(5) I don’t believe Trump is sincere in 99 percent of what he says. I think almost everything he says is either an outright lie, or something he is merely saying because it is convenient for him at the moment.

We haven’t had a president since Harry Truman who mocked people, a president who was openly rude and vulgar, and I am not anxious to bring that back to the Oval Office. 
I would say the current occupant is pretty good at mocking people as well, but we'll leave that aside. James does notice something else, however:
I believe in courage. I am all for politicians displaying courage, and I think Trump has done a better job of displaying real courage than anyone else running this year. Trump has had the courage to say and do things that people tell him he can’t do. We need that in a president. We need somebody who is willing to stand up and say “You don’t make the rules for me. I make the rules for me.” I applaud Trump for being that person.

Also, Trump is advocating real democracy in a way that the other candidates are not, and in a way that is too subtle for most of the talking heads to understand. We have in this great nation a class of professional do-gooders who have made a lot of rules for the rest of us, and who have, with the knowing co-operation of the media, forced the rest of us to comply with their rules. Most of us never voted upon or agreed to these rules. Some of these rules are good and proper, and some are useless and counter-productive.

Trump is saying “screw you” to the professionally self-righteous and to those people who are trying to force him to obey these rules that the nation has been forced to accept by leaders who lacked the courage to stand up to it all.
There is more, a whole lot more, at the link. Check it out.

A little late, but better than never

Rick Perry (remember him?) is vindicated:
The top criminal appeals court in Texas just dismissed the nearly two-year-old felony indictment against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The first of two charges against Perry was dismissed last July.
You might not remember why he was indicted, so a little refresher was in order:
Perry was indicted in August of 2014 by a Travis County jury for the twin crimes of threatening to veto a bill and then vetoing a bill. The ordeal began when Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for driving drunk in 2013. Blood tests taken after her arrest showed that Lehmberg had a blood alcohol level of .239. Daschcam and police station videos, which went viral shortly after her arrest, showed Lehmberg lashing out at police and threatening to use her power as district attorney to punish them for arresting her.
Here is a look at the witty and charming Lehmberg:

By the way, Rosemary Lehmberg is still in office.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Ann Althouse on Trump:
His theme is pride — self esteem. I think the message is: Even if you're poorly educated — especially if you are poorly educated — you are smart, and you are American, and you should feel great. All those other politicians look down on you, and they look down on the country. They insult it. They use the worst insults, like "racist." They'd have you believe that it's racist to say "Make America great again" and to want to preserve the benefits of America for Americans and to increase those selfishly guarded benefits. But it's not something to be ashamed of, it's being smart. And he's very smart, and we — you, with me leading the way — "are going to be the smart people."
A blog commenter elsewhere:
I think Obama and the Democrats just stepped on too many nerves for too long and the national GOP was looking like the frightened woman on the chair holding the hem of her dress because there's a mouse on the floor. The Republican Party became not only the "Stupid" party, but the "Coward" party. 

Gino, here:
yes, innovation happens. i'm not saying my plant should go back to doing 1/2 the production with twice as many people as when i started.

BUT... when a sector is declining naturally, the positions lost are lost a lot more often to attrition. nothing wrong with that.

having your livelihood of these same workers cut in 1/2 within 20 yrs due to open border importation of people here to do exactly that type of work is another thing entirely.
Trump, himself:
So I’m very proud of you, this is an amazing night. I love the country, I love the country. We’re going in the wrong direction. We’re going to keep—as you know Gitmo, we’re keeping that open, and we’re going to load it up with bad dudes. We’re going to load it up w a lot of bad dudes out there. We’re going to have our borders nice and strong. We’re going to build the wall, you know that. We’re going to build the wall. And I have a lot of respect from Mexico and you just heard we won Hispanics. But let me tell you Mexico is going to pay for the wall, right? It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. They know it. I know it. We all know it.

We have a tremendous deficit. We have a trade deficit with Mexico. They’ll pay for the wall. They’ll be very happy about it. Believe me. I’ll talk to them. They’re going to be very, very thrilled. They’re going to be thrilled to be paying for the wall.
We’re going to be the smart people. We’re not going to be the people that get pushed around all over the place. We’re going to be the smart people. You’re going to be proud of your president, and you’re going to be even prouder of your country, OK?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I can't do it anymore and I'm not satisfied

Why don't you tell me 'bout the mystery dance.
I wanna know about the mystery dance
Why don't you show me,
'cause I've tried and I've tried,
and I'm still mystified.
I can't do it anymore and I'm not satisfied.

That's the chorus from Elvis Costello's early song "Mystery Dance," which is ostensibly about Topic A but has application for where I'm at right now. It's caucus time in exactly one week from today and the candidates on offer all suck, in one way or another. The choices are:
  • Professor Harold Hill with a Queens accent
  • A principled conservative running an unprincipled campaign, with the mien of Mr. Haney on Green Acres
  • A robotic cipher who got played the minute he hit the Senate and still doesn't seem to understand it, primarily because he doesn't appear to be especially bright
  • A straight-up socialist who is every bit as much of a carnival barker, in his own way, as Lord God King Combover
  • The most comprehensively corrupt candidate in the history of the Republic
So in a certain way, the caucus is about Topic A as well. I can't caucus for any of these people. They are all frauds in their own way. So I won't.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Has this ever happened to you?

Have you ever written a 350 word blog post and then decided that your premise is bullshit? That's what happened to me this morning.

I'm trying to wrap my brain around the continued success of Donald Trump and I find myself having contradictory thoughts about it. I put up a quick squib yesterday that led to an extended conversation with Gino and then a long and thoughtful, yet dispiriting, comment from Picklesworth. In the process of sorting it all out, I have come to the conclusion that I can't sort it out, at least not yet.

I'm not much for Ayn Rand, but I've always thought she was right about one thing -- we need to check our premises. And I'm checking mine this morning. The process feels like this, however:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hope is the thing with a combover

Comment of the day, from some guy in a thread at Powerline:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Frankie and Donny

Finally, the event we've all been waiting for:
Thrusting himself into the heated American presidential campaign, Pope Francis declared Thursday that Donald Trump is "not Christian" if he wants to address illegal immigration only by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump fired back ferociously, saying it was "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question a person's faith.
Ahem. Let's think about this one:

I am no fan of Donald Trump, but the statement as reported shows the problem quite clearly. Trump is hardly basing his whole immigration policy on building a wall on the border. He has plenty of other proposals, some more realistic than others. So we'll grant that much to Trump.

Then again, is it really "disgraceful" for a religious leader to question a person's faith? Seems to me it's part of the job description, at least if questioning means challenging. We are all called to recognize our sin and to be better disciples. See if you can spot the flaw in Trump's response:
"For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful," he said at a campaign stop in South Carolina, which holds a key primary on Saturday. "I am proud to be a Christian, and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened."
The secret word here is "proud." Proverbs 21:24 could have been written with someone in mind:

The proud and arrogant person--"Mocker" is his name-- behaves with insolent fury.

I'd also add that an admonition directed at a political candidate does not equate to an attack on Christianity itself. And if you listen to Francis consistently, he's made humility a recurring theme in his papacy, as he should. And if you want a New Testament reference, try Romans 12:3 --

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Anyone who takes the idea of humility to heart is unlikely to run for president, and there's usually a thin line between bravado and salesmanship. We can stipulate that and still suggest that pride is usually problematic. Inasmuch as a politician is supposed to be a public servant, excessive pride is a fundamental trait for many people who currently populate our governmental agencies, especially at the federal level. I'm not sure if any of the people running for president understand the problem, but I especially worry about Donald Trump in that regard.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Not exactly Bobby Goldsboro

Popular culture:
Kanye West blasted Taylor Swift as a “fake ass” and called NBC staffers “white m———–s” during his epic meltdown backstage at “Saturday Night Live.”

In an audio clip exclusively obtained by Page Six, Kanye can be heard repeatedly yelling at “SNL” production staff, “Don’t f–k with me,” before branding Swift — who he claims on his new album he made famous — a “fake ass”.

Then the hotheaded rapper went on to proclaim that he is “50 percent more influential” than legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, Pablo Picasso, Paul the Apostle — who was handpicked by Christ to deliver the gospel — and even the notorious drug runner Pablo Escobar.

Kanye can be heard ranting, “Are they f—–g crazy? Whoa by 50 percent [I am more influential than] Stanley Kubrick, Picasso, Apostle Paul, f—–g Picasso and Escobar. By 50 percent more influential than any other human being. Don’t f–k with me. Don’t f–k with me. Don’t f–k with me. By 50 percent dead or alive, by 50 percent for the next 1,000 years. Stanley Kubrick, ‘Ye.
Other people he's 50% more influential than include:

Pauly Shore
Frank Gorshin
My accountant
Any and all remaining Gabor sisters
Your accountant

And most of all, Slim Pickens:

Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Song of the day

State of play

If current trends continue, this is shaping up to be the most depressing presidential election cycle of my lifetime. The three people who are most likely to be the next president are, as follows:

  • A carnival barker
  • The most comprehensively corrupt public figure in the last fifty years
  • A straight-up socialist
Criminy. Mencken is right -- one of these shaved apes is going to give the people what they want, good and hard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A decade on, B of A returns

Okay, I find this amusing:
Bank of America is making a run at building a business in the heart of Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank country.

The nation’s second-largest bank just opened a new branch in the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis, is beefing up its Minnesota business lending presence and will add a dozen ATMs and three new branches in the metro area.

“In some ways, we’re growing before it’s happened because we think it’s that important of a market,” said Larry Kloth, the bank’s market president for Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Most people don't know it, but B of A was here before. I worked for B of A as a business program analyst for about three years. I lost my job when they closed their facility in Bloomington in 2006. The stated reason for leaving Minnesota was that the loan center was "out of footprint," meaning that the company didn't have any regular banking presence in the state, so it wanted to consolidate its operations in markets where the bank had a presence. As many long-time readers of this feature know, I had a chance to keep my job if I were willing to move to Portland, Oregon with B of A, but ultimately decided against it, because my kids were young and I didn't want to disrupt their lives with a cross-country move. Chuckwagon Boy, who comments here from time to time, was a colleague of mine in Bloomington who ended up making the move. This blog began during my lunch hour when I worked for B of A.

It was an odd business decision for B of A to close their facility here, since it was the most successful mortgage loan processing facility in the company. Although my current gig is a better use of my talents, I had more fun working for B of A than anywhere else I've been in my career. It was a go-go time in the banking industry and we were doing great business in our channel, corporate relocation, We had a great team and the work was fast-paced and challenging. The larger problems in the financial industry were coming, but in 2005 things were great. And I can say this -- we weren't cheating, like some of our competitors. We weren't doing stated income loans and we weren't doing subprime work. We looked at it more than once, but it wasn't our thing.

B of A took a lot of shots to its reputation in the financial crisis that came about later on, but I've always thought many of the criticisms were unfair. They made one very bad decision, which was acquiring Countrywide, whose portfolio was riddled with bad loans of the sort we avoided in Bloomington, but the shotgun wedding fiasco with Merrill Lynch was something that B of A was essentially forced to do.

I can't say that Bank of America is a perfect business, by any means. They've made plenty of mistakes and their management has been short sighted on many occasions. Large corporations are generally mercenary in their instincts and I'm certain that the guy in Charlotte who made the decision to close our facility ten years ago didn't give the human impact of his decision much thought. I also don't know whether B of A will do well in this market, considering the dominating presence that both Wells Fargo and US Bank have. Still, I have fond memories of my tenure with Bank of America. I'm glad they've finally returned.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

For the dog that chases its tail will be dizzy

 Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

-- Saul Alinsky

Okay, dignity is always a transitory thing, and sometimes you walk right into it:

Time for that ridicule:

Of course, I prefer a different Clinton, who barks far more effectively:


Or if you'd prefer:

Who was born in a house full of pain
Who was trained not to spit in the fan
Who was told what to do by the man
Who was broken by trained personnel
Who was fitted with collar and chain
Who was given a pat on the back
Who was breaking away from the pack


RIP, Vanity:

Takes me right back to those nasty college days. Also a cautionary tale -- her crack cocaine use led to health problems that plagued her for the last twenty years of her life.

Pound sand

That will be the message of Republicans concerning a replacement for Antonin Scalia, at least until next year. They've been waiting thirty years to counteract this:

Is this a gamble? Sure. Maybe people will have a huge wave of sympathy for Barack Obama and give the presidency and the Senate to the Democrats. Or maybe they won't.

Monday, February 15, 2016

RIP, Judge Scalia

I'm not going to write that much about Antonin Scalia; there are many, many other places you can go to get learned views of his life and legacy on the Court. I do want to commend this piece from Stephen Carter to your attention, however. Carter, who is a law professor at Yale and was a clerk for Thurgood Marshall, makes an important point about the politics of it all:
When the news broke Saturday that Justice Antonin Scalia had died at age 79, my Twitter feed began to fill with hate. Not disagreement or disrespect -- actual hate. He was an ignorant waste of flesh, wrote one young fool. His death was the best news in decades, cheered another. Then there was the woman who just had to tell the world that she felt safer now than she had at the death of Osama bin Laden. And several people expressed the hope -- the hope! -- that Clarence Thomas would die next.

Thus we see the discursive toll of our depressing Supreme Court deathwatch. We’re actually rooting for people to die.
I do understand why this happens. Scalia was the most powerful conservative thinker on the Court and he had a penchant for the bon mot in his writing, especially in his often withering dissents on decisions. In my experience, many on the Left don't particularly enjoy being on the business end of ridicule. Carter speaks to that, but also to the larger, more important point of Scalia's legacy:
The late Christopher Hitchens once wrote: “One test of un homme sérieux is that it is possible to learn from him even when one radically disagrees with him.” He was right. Those with whom we disagree will often have things to teach us, if we’ll let them.

Scalia was un homme sérieux in the classic sense -- a person of both seriousness and character, a man hard to bully. Did I disagree with his positions? Frequently, and often with passion. But he was a brilliant scholar and jurist, as well as a marvelous writer, and I never failed to learn from his wonderfully crafted opinions. The need to counter his arguments made mine better. And on some issues (the importance of robust protection of Sixth Amendment rights, for instance) Scalia’s opinions converted me to his cause.
If you think about what happened in Wisconsin with the John Doe abuse directed against Scott Walker and his supporters, you understand why Sixth Amendment protections are so crucial, especially the importance of knowing who your accusers are. The text seems straightforward enough:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
The calling card of the totalitarian state is the secret policeman's knock on the door; sometimes, they don't knock. We have all manner of agencies with police powers, and crucially, with the means to enforce said powers. We also have a plethora of politicians who are just fine with the use of force to get their desired results. Antonin Scalia understood that. I worry that his replacement won't, or more importantly is indifferent to the concern.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


I'm going to need more time than I have at the moment to discuss the impact of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. I would say this, though -- if President Obama wants to maximize the pain for Republicans, he ought to nominate Maryanne Trump Barry, a senior federal judge who is, as the name suggests, Donald Trump's sister.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mad as hell and not going to take it any more

One would think that, after seven glorious years of administration of Barack Obama, that everything would be copacetic. Happy days are here again and all that, right? So how do you explain this split screen image from the Star Tribune?

We'd tell you to get off our lawns, but lawns are not a public good and probably filled with chemicals from those Monsanto bastards anyway
Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were in the Twin Cities yesterday, shaking the money tree and dispensing bile from 55-gallon drums. They were here for a fundraiser that carries the name of the eternally sunny Hubert Humphrey, who was known far and wide as the Happy Warrior. These people are not exactly happy warriors, are they? It's frankly bizarre that the party of Hope and Change now presents these two dyspeptic fugitives from Madame Tussauds as their prospective standard bearers.

Considering that these two seasoned citizens are career politicians, and all they see around themselves is failure and injustice, doesn't there seem to be a disconnect between their promises and their demonstrated ability to ameliorate social ills? I suppose it's impertinent to ask.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Bernie and the Jazz Butcher

We're not sure who Bernie Sanders' favorite secretary of State is, but we've got a pretty good sense who his least favorite is. 
Hillary Clinton has said positive words about Kissinger in the past, and he has of her, and when the topic came up at Thursday night's Democratic debate in Milwaukee, Sanders unloaded. 
Kissinger was "one of the most destructive secretaries of State" in history, he said, and he was just getting started. 
“I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend," he added. 
“Count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger."
Maybe it's just me, and it probably is, but that particular disquisition made me think of this old song:

Chernenko was my friend
And Brezhnev was my friend
And Andropov he just dropped off
Now Gorbachev is my friend

He's got yer detente right here, pal.

He's always laughing, having fun, showing his films in the den

I do find this pretty amusing:
Presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s newest advertisement is relatively tame, though his campaign may think it's too hot for TV after learning that one of the actresses in it has starred in softcore pornography.

Amy Lindsay had a speaking role in the Texas senator’s “Conservatives Anonymous,” where a circle of support group members, one of whom walks in wearing a Marco Rubio shirt, talk about feeling betrayed.

However, the blonde actress’s IMDB page shows previously been featured in productions much racier than this year’s presidential contest, including "Kinky Sex Club," "The Erotic Traveler" and "Co-Ed Confidential."
The Kinky Sex Club, eh? Membership has its benefits, I would imagine.

I don't suppose that the Cruz campaign pays a lot of attention to soft core porno, so I believe that they didn't know the actress in question had a more varied resume than you might expect in an open casting call. Seriously, though -- does it matter to you? I think the last time I saw a porno movie was at a friend's bachelor party in the late 1980s. It was actually pretty boring -- there's only so many different ways you can show closeups of coitus. Maybe things are different now; I assume the actors in the movie I saw are more likely to be enjoying the early bird special than the pleasures of the flesh (although it looked like a lot of work). Do you care? I think the Cruz campaign should have just let the ad run.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Microsoft-induced open thread

Ordinarily I spend an hour or so to get a blog post going, but this morning Microsoft decided to hold my computer hostage for nearly an hour and a half to install software updates, so my time for writing is essentially gone. So that means this is going to be an open thread, for the most part, although I will offer a few suggestions for topics you might want to consider:

  • The end of the line for Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina. Liked one much better than the other, personally.
  • The horrified headline on the dead tree version of the Star Tribune this morning (but not easily found on the website, oddly) detailing that, because the Supreme Court didn't let Barack Obama unilaterally shut down the coal industry via executive order, that the Paris Agreement on climate change may be imperiled.
  • Why Microsoft sucks.
  • Did I mention that Microsoft sucks?
Still, it's open for whatever. Talk to D.

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.

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


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.


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


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


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.


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.