Friday, September 13, 2019

Benster and D Pick Your Games------St. Boni Edition

Old dude, we are going to be on assignment tomorrow afternoon, watching the most important college football game of the year.

What, you're bringing a portable television?

No, Geritol Fan. We're going to scenic St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, to watch your beloved Beloit Bucs play Clown College.

Clown College?

Oh, I'm sorry, I meant Crown College.

I heard about them:

Do you want to crown their asses?

No, I wanna row the boat. So we'll start there. Watch me work!

Georgia Southern Eagles (+16.5) vs. Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat I think it's safe to say that the Gophers are lucky to be 2-0. They barely got by the Jackrabbits, and someone they pulled a Houdini act in Fresno. But give them their due, they won. Now, Georgia Southern comes calling. This game is a trap game and, quite honestly, one they should lose. Eagles 35, Gophers 14.

Thurston, you've been eating the brandied peaches without the peaches again, haven't you? Georgia Southern is the weakest opponent the Gophers have yet seen and the game is at home. I think the Gophers do much better than you think. Gophers 35, Eagles 14.

Beloit College Buccaneers (NL) vs. Crown College Storm This is going to be an interesting game. Both teams lost their opener, and neither were very good. Old dude's beloved Bucs have been, well, let's have Charles Barkley describe their performance:

But here's the thing. Crown College is also turrible. They were thrashed by perpetual MIAC footwipe St. Olaf last week, so they aren't exactly covering themselves in glory. In fact, I heard the MIAC wants to add Crown to replace St. Thomas, because that way everyone else gets a free W. Beloit 21, Crown 0.

Gee, I hope so. The Bucs have been a dumpster fire for a long time now and it's actually disheartening. Crown is a very small Christian school, with an enrollment of about 500. They may have to suit up some coeds to field a team. If my Bucs get beat tomorrow, they ought to fold it up and close Strong Stadium for good. Beloit 17, Crown 14.

Iowa Wesleyan Tigers (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire Meanwhile, let's consider my alma mater, the beloved Prairie Fire. They are playing Iowa Wesleyan, which is also a very small college in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. It's usually not very pleasant in Mount Pleasant, especially on the football field. The Fire misfired last week against Eureka, but I have to believe that we can win at the storied Knosher Bowl. Alabama is too scared to come to the Knosher Bowl, by the way. Knox 10, Iowa Wesleyan 6.

You know what's a good thing for both Knox and Beloit? They still have Grinnell in the league. Knox should beat Iowa Wesleyan, though. Knox 24, Iowa Wesleyan 13.

Minnesota Vikings (+2.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers So, let's get to some real football. Vikings fans were very happy last Sunday. Packers fans were happy a few days before that. Who will be happy this weekend? Well, this game could go either way. The Vikings will be better on offense than the Bears, who seem to share a playbook with Crown College. The Packers defense will provide more resistance than the Falcons defense, which seems to share a playbook with Iowa Wesleyan. I'm a delusional homer (you may have noticed) and that allows me to pick the Packers every time. This game won't be easy, but it is winnable. Packers 28, Vikings 24.

Hmm. I still need to see Aaron Rodgers be healthy. Until I do, the only thing that is healthy is my skepticism. I think the Vikings are the most talented team in the division overall, but the Packers are catching up. Have they closed the gap? Vikings 24, Packers 23.

Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck (-2.5) vs. Denver Broncos So, da Bearz looked pretty poor against our glorious Packers last week. Were the Packers that good? Or is Mitchell Trubisky a steaming pile? All I know is Sid Luckman is not walking through that door. The Broncos also looked putrid last week against the dumpster fire Raiders, so that's good news for Bears fans. However, the game is in Denver, where the Broncos are a tough out. Weird things happen at that elevation. Bears 0, Broncos 0.

The Broncos are looking at quarterbacks again:

I bet he could throw that steak over the damned mountains. The Bears need this game. I think they get it. Bears 17, Broncos 10.

If that game ends in a scoreless tie, I am definitely buying Powerball next week. Ben out!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


91101 was a beautiful day in which, to borrow from Yeats, a terrible beauty was born. I’ve written about 91101 more than once; how we prayed, how the powers that be at my office demanded in vain that we turn off the televisions and get back to work, how my then-kindergarten age son came bounding down the stairs to watch Scooby-Doo and saw something far, far worse.

We didn’t have social media then; the internet was around but Facebook and Instagram and Reddit weren’t even on the drawing board yet. There were bloggers, but even that phenomenon was in its infancy. I didn’t start this feature until four years after the events of 91101. I’m still blogging, but most people have long since abandoned the field.

Many believe the aftermath was a botch. I agree. Homeland Security is a vast, pointless bureaucracy more concerned with security theater than protecting anything other than its own prerogatives. We’re still fighting in Afghanistan, even though no one seems to know why. Iraq was a blunder that continues to haunt us. We have troops deployed over vast regions, defending people who despise us. And yet, as recently as last week, it appeared we were going to invite the Taliban, who gave bin Laden safe harbor, an opportunity to visit to Camp David. It's a change I cannot understand

91119 has been, at least in the Minneapolis area, a rainy, nasty day. We’re at a rainy, nasty time in our history. We've grown older and our priorities have changed. That's inevitable; a lot happens in 18 years. My kindergarten-age son is now a college graduate, while my toddler daughter is a college sophomore. People remember the moment, but it has become more of a historical moment than a shared experience. And the cynics and conspiracy theorists have taken the field. Social media makes it easy for people to peddle nonsense and outright lies (where’s the plane that hit the Pentagon?! What about WTC 7?). I’ve seen several screeds on social media today to that effect. It’s disheartening.

I don't pretend to have answers. The last 18 years have, in various ways, disabused me of many notions I had about how the world actually works. But the one thing I did that day still makes sense to me; and I will again pray for the families who suffered and continue to suffer, and for a greater understanding.

Monday, September 09, 2019

The field, at the moment

Where I see 'em, right now.

Biden: He’s still the front-runner, but is generating no enthusiasm. He’s supposedly electable, but he’s never won an election outside of the state of Delaware -- being Obama's Veep doesn't count. Not seeing it.

Warren: Somehow, she’s not dead, but it’s likely she's gaining on the rest of the Dem field because no one is currently reminding anyone of her flaws, which are manifest. I don’t suppose Trump will be too reticent about mentioning those flaws.

Sanders: A hateful crank, but crankery is always a growth industry on the Left. Running on little more than bile, however, and it’s difficult to see how he’ll hold off Warren.

Harris: I thought she’d be a stronger candidate, but she’s got the Ted Kennedy problem of the Roger Mudd variant. She’s running but she doesn’t seem to know why. And she can't hide her nasty streak.

Buttigieg: The more he says, the more repellent he becomes. As sanctimonious as John Marty, but without the bow-tied fashion sense. Of course, he’s actually running for vice president.

Booker: A classic senatorial windbag. His greatest asset is his self-regard. Coincidentally, it’s his greatest liability. Also running for vice president.

O’Rourke: A complete moron. Married well, though. Every generation throws a Kerry up the pop charts.

Klobuchar: Her magic surname means nothing outside of Minnesota, but her mediocrity shines through. Perhaps she could move to Illinois, change her name to Kupcinet, and try again in 2024.

Castro: One-time HUD secretaries often run for president – Jack Kemp and Ben Carson did, too. He won’t get any farther than they did, though. And he's not nearly as serious as either of them were.

Williamson: I really think she means well. She’s a gust of helium, but a successful one because we live in an unserious world and she has had the wit to monetize her foolishness. Too nice to be president.

Yang: Giving away other people’s money is always a popular position, at least if its not your money being given away. But he’s going nowhere.

Gabbard: She’s the most serious candidate in the Dem field and her antiwar bona fides are undeniable. But her gloomy worldview is a mismatch for this moment and her surfer packaging doesn't square with her overall message.

I understand there are other candidates, too. Maybe you think they're worth discussing, but I can't see why.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Civil Discourse

A social media message from an old college friend:

Seems reasonable
Back in the 1980s, the individual who posted this suggestion was a nice young woman from a small town about 40 miles from my hometown. As I remember her, she was a little awkward socially, but smart and attractive. She was on the periphery of my social circle and I didn't chat her up a lot, but I was always happy to see her around. Thirty-five years on, she'd prefer I were obliterated, but she is polite about it.

This sort of toxicity doesn't make me angry. It makes me sad.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- I Told You So Edition

I told you the Packers were going to go down to Chicago and beat the Bears.

You did. And you were right. How about that?

I don't just bring HYYYYYYPPPPPE! I also bring knowledge from a higher plain.

Columbia Heights?

No, I shared it with Marianne Williamson.

Crystal blue persuasion, then.

I have no idea what you're talking about. As usual. You might want to adjust that Geritol dosage there, old dude. But although my wisdom is well demonstrated, we have more games to pick. Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Elite Rowers of the Boat (-3) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs. The Gophers have paddled their boat out to an arid agricultural area, Fresno. This is the type of game the Gophers can lose. The crowd at Fresno is loud, obnoxious, and inebriated, and the Bulldogs are actually pretty good at football. Bulldogs 35, Row Row Row Your Boat Elitely 10.

The knock on Jeff Tedford is that his system is good for tricking people, but when the talent differential is sufficient, his bag of tricks doesn't work. Are the Gophers talented enough to avoid getting turned into a bag of pistachios? We're gonna find out. Gophers 24, Fresno 21.

Central Michigan Chippewas (+35) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers.  The Badgers looked like a machine against South Florida last week. The encouraging sign was Jonathan Taylor getting involved in the passing game. Two catches? Two touchdowns. Meanwhile, he rushed for his usual 100+ and two more touchdowns, and then he took most of the second half off. The Chips are historically a solid MAC team, but last year, not so much. I like the Badgers in this one, not surprisingly. Badgers 42, Chips 17.

Bucky was shockingly good against South Florida, a team that has been bowling in recent years. The thing that impressed me the most was the defense, which shut the Bulls down completely. The Bulls are more talented than the Chippewas, so this could get ugly. Badgers 50, Chippewas 0.

Knox College Prairie Fire (NL) vs. Eureka College Red Devils. It's the fabled Lincoln Bowl game, in which my beloved Prairie Fire takes on Eureka, the alma mater of one Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, Ronald Reagan is not walking through that door. Of course, since he's been dead for 15 years, he hasn't been particularly ambulatory lately. Knox 21, Eureka 14.

I have no idea. I have no idea. Did I mention I have no idea? Eureka 21, Knox 14.

Hotlanta Falcons (+4) vs. Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings come into this season with a lot of hope and question marks. One thing that confuses me to no end is why Gary Kubiak is not the offensive coordinator when Mike Zimmer wants to run Kubiak's offense? Is it because Zimmer needs to spend more time working with his beloved double A gap defensive system? Or is it that he wants to reserve the right to fire yet another offensive coordinator, with Kevin Stefanski in the always-molten chair. Regardless of what you think, this year will tell a lot about the Vikings. I think they can beat Atlanta, but I'm not certain that will happen. Falcons 27, Vikings 24.

The Vikings are hard to gauge. They will defend, as has been the pattern under Zimmer, but will they be able to score? Kirk Cousins is, well, enigmatic. But I think Good Kirk shows up this week. Vikings 31, Falcons 20.

It should be an interesting weekend. My recommend is to avoid going downtown on Sunday. The Vikings are in town. The Twins are in town. And I-94 is closed in St. Paul and I-494 is closed near the airport. If you're not coming to the games from Maple Grove, good luck with that. Ben out!

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Here's blood in your eye

Not a good look:
Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to have a blood vessel burst in his left eye while participating in CNN's town hall on climate change.

A broken blood vessel in the eye, also known as a subconjuctival hemorrhage, can be caused by several things, including high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, blood thinners, or even excessive straining.

Biden, 76, has long been plagued by health issues. In 1988, he suffered an aneurysm that burst and required him to undergo emergency surgery. The then-senator was so close to death that a Catholic priest began preparing to administer the sacrament of last rites.
What did it look like? Kinda dire, actually:

Image result for biden blood eye cnn
It's not supposed to look like that
He's leading in the polls, but I don't think he's going to make it. And frankly, I am worried about him. I don't want any Democrat to win in 2020, but I also don't want any Democrat to die on the hustings, either.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- The Bears Still Suck Edition

Old dude, what better way for the season to start than by having the Bears take on the Packers?

Sing it with us!

They really really really really really really suck. It's one of the truths in the world.

In uncertain times, it's always good to hold fast to your core beliefs, young fella.

I'm feeling the HYYYYYYYYYPPPPPE! and excited for yet another season in which the people get to read my delusional rantings, er, I mean, reasoned analysis. Watch me work!

Glorious Green Bay Packers (+3) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck. Gino would like to remind you that Bears NFC North Championship gear is still available at your local store, although at a slight discount these days. I would like to remind you that the Bears started last year by blowing a 20-0 lead to the Packers, and ended the year by hitting the upright against the Eagles. Kinda like this:

Oh my goodness, Cris Collinsworth delivers the eulogy! A double doink! Just remember that it was all Cody Parkey's fault. It wasn't the fault of the Bears offense, which certainly could have scored more than 15 points. Nor was it the fault of the defense, which gave up a late touchdown! Now, I can already hear the Bears fans saying, "hey, the Packers were 6-9-1 last season." That's true. But the Packers have improved. This game is going to be close. I like the Packers's chances. Packers 24, da Bearz 17.

I want to believe. But I also remember this:

Miraculously, Aaron Rodgers got up from that one and won the game. But the rest of the season was a slow-motion fade into oblivion. I do hope the Packers have figured out how to block the Bears, because the next time, Aaron might not get up. I think the Packers will be better this season. They might even be substantially better than last year. It would be difficult to be worse. But I see Tim Boyle on the sideline. And it makes me worry. This will be a tough one to win. Bears 21, Packers 14.

Oh, Old Dude of little faith! You need to stop watching this sort of thing:

1977 isn't walking through that door. It's 2019, baby! We'll be back on Friday with more picks! Ben out!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Talking sports with the inimitable Mr. Carlson

My friend Brad Carlson, multimedia sensation that he is, will have me on his radio show tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. Central. We'll be previewing the NFL season, with particular attention to the NFC North. Brad is a diehard but rational Vikings fan. I am a diehard but (mostly) rational Packers fan. If you're in the metro, tune in to AM1280; it's also available in a variety of other formats that Brad details here. It's always a good (and good natured) time; the only drama will be to see if I can accurately pronounce the names of Olabisi Johnson and Marquez Valdez-Scantling, among others.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Sanctimony Bulk Pack

James Comey is a tall man and his self-regard towers over even his expansive height. Jonathan Turley reminds us of a few things:
The inspector general has confirmed what was clear and obvious. The memos were FBI material, and Comey did violate provisions of the Federal Records Act and FBI rules clearly barring their removal and disclosure. Moreover, the inspector general agreed that it was not necessary to guarantee an investigation into Trump. Investigations were ongoing and the report cites other “options” that Comey refused to use. The report concludes, “What was not permitted was the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive investigative information, obtained during the course of FBI employment, in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.”

The reason Comey violated these rules was as obvious then as it is now. Leaking the memos was designed to improve his stature in the media and it worked. Comey transformed himself into a badly needed hero to use against the villain Trump. He knew the memos would change the focus of media coverage to his new role as a federal government whistleblower.
No one owes James Comey an apology.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Something else to watch

My alma mater, Beloit College, is a lefty place. They do have a Young Americans for Freedom chapter on campus and the YAF is bringing in some really heavy hitters to campus this upcoming semester:

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling
Here comes Dick
Given the reaction on campus that Erik Prince received last year, this should be fun. And I suspect the world, or at least the academic world, will be watching.

The old-fashioned way

Some people decry Ilhan Omar because of her anti-Semitism. That's not what could bring her down, though. Simple, old-fashioned graft just might:
An independent government watchdog says Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar's campaign may have committed serious campaign finance fraud.

Omar's campaign spent $21,547 on travel for the E Street Group, run by Tim Mynett, whose wife is now accusing him of leaving her for Omar. Tom Anderson, who is with the conservative National Legal and Policy Center, said the travel payment may actually be Omar using campaign funds for personal use, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

"We believe Representative Ilhan Omar may have touched the third rail of campaign finance law: disbursing campaign funds for personal use," Anderson said. "It's a brazen act Representative Omar was caught doing before in Minnesota and all of the evidence we've seen tells us she’s probably doing it again."
Omar has operated under the assumption that the Esme Murphys of the world will cover for her. If the "probably" turns into "is," she'll have to leave. There are dozens of the DFL politicos who would love to have her seat in Congress. We're watching this one.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Musical interlude

More than 70 years ago and it still stands up.

All hell's breaking lose, but it's not even that interesting

Trump is nuts. Trump's a genius. Joe Biden's doing fine. Joe Biden's sinking. China is winning. China is caving. We're already in a recession. What recession -- it's a boom!

I feel fine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Back online

Our computer had a long, slow slide to oblivion. We have a new one now (it's even shiny!), which will make it easier to get back to the blogging business.

Whether or not I'll blog more often than I have recently is an open question. Time is a factor; it was my practice to get up waaaaay too early in the morning to blog. A lack of sleep and a too-often sedentary lifestyle is a good way to end one's blogging permanently, if you know what I mean and I think you do. So I'm not likely to do that anymore. But I do want to find time to blog, so I'll be experimenting with it a bit.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Two cents

I don't think Trump is serious about gun control. Do you?

Ten days in

One thing is obvious at my new gig: trial lawyers and regulators may not have a stake in the business, but they drive much of the activity. I'd always suspected as much, but until you're in the environment, you don't really get to experience it. It's something else.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The headline we all expected

We also would have accepted "Arkancide"
As inevitable as the dawn:
Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced millionaire who was facing federal sex trafficking charges, died by suicide early Saturday in his Lower Manhattan prison cell, three law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Epstein hanged himself, law enforcement sources said. He was transported in cardiac arrest at 6:39 a.m. from Metropolitan Correctional Center to New York Downtown Hospital, according to sources.
We got a sneak preview of some of Epstein's clientele yesterday:
On Friday, a federal appellate court in New York unsealed around 2,000 pages of documents from a now-settled civil defamation case between Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an alleged Epstein victim, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime Epstein associate.

Giuffre accused Maxwell of recruiting her while she was working as a locker-room attendant at Mar-A-Lago in 2000 and bringing her to Epstein's home for a massage. She claims that she eventually became a teen sex slave to Epstein, and a victim of sex trafficking, beginning at age 17, at the hands of both Epstein and Maxwell.

The newly-unsealed documents showed that Giuffre alleged that Epstein and Maxwell directed her to have sex with, among others: Prince Andrew; criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz; former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson; former Senator George Mitchell; a well-known prime minster, who she wouldn't name; and a foreign man who was introduced to her as a "prince."
Dershowitz has denied everything, in forceful terms. Mitchell and Richardson deny the allegations in the linked article from ABC. It's likely coincidental that Richardson and Mitchell's political party isn't mentioned in the article, because why would that matter, right?

The rumors that have long simmered, and that matter most of all, concern Bill Clinton, famous for his horndoggery and credibly accused of untoward behavior by many other women.

It will be interesting to see if the prosecutors decide to redouble their efforts against Maxwell in order to get the story out. Had Epstein been Scott Walker, it all would just mysteriously leak out to the press. But he wasn't, so the story may end here. We'll see.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Random observation

Your mileage may vary on this, but this is what I'm seeing right now.

  • Trump is a front man, but he's not a political philosopher. He's less concerned about underlying theories and more concerned about what might work. For all his faults, he understands that governing is the job, but he's willing, even eager to delegate much of the day-to-day work to subordinates. Many of his subordinates are excellent; they are the ones who the MSM doesn't discuss much.
  • Every Democrat in the race wants to rule, not govern. They all have, to varying degrees, a political philosophy and a particular approach to communicating that philosophy, but every one of them wants to rule.
That's the choice. It's been the choice for a while now, but at this point the differences couldn't be more stark.

Monday, August 05, 2019


The guy who shot up a Walmart in El Paso appears to be a bad dude who hates Mexicans. The guy who shot up the Oregon district in Dayton (I've been to that bar, by the way) was a Bernie/Warren supporter.

Politicians don't own these guys. We can play tit for tat all damn day on it. Let's not.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

The new gig has begun

Started today. Will be there for 18 months. I have a lot to learn, but I am thrilled to have the opportunity.

Thank you for your support and your prayers. A lot of my former colleagues are still looking, so I feel fortunate indeed.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Games Prosecutors Play

Andrew McCarthy explains what Mueller's Little Helpers were up to:
The special counsel’s staff wrote a 448-page tome, overflowing with details about a traitorous collusion plot that never happened and the obstruction of an investigation that was never actually impeded in the slightest. Even though the regulations call for a confidential report from the special counsel to the attorney general, the Mueller report was patently written with the intention that it would be transmitted to Congress and the public. (Indeed, even before the report was submitted to the Justice Department, various industrious publishers planned to make it available for sale.) Moreover, when AG Barr undertook to announce only the special counsel’s bottom-line conclusions, Mueller’s staff threw a fit, grousing to the media that Barr was wrongly withholding the report and denying the public the condemnatory narrative in which they had couched these benign conclusions.
It's been done before. Remember what happened to Scott Walker in Wisconsin? After the corrupt John Doe investigation was scuppered, the rogue prosecutors found a way to get their theories into the press, leaking to the British newspaper The Guardian, a media outlet last seen informing the world about Danielle Stella, the Ilhan Omar opponent from Bizarro World central casting. A summation of the Wisconsin prosecutor's tactics:
Prosecutors treated conservative organizations as if they were dangerous drug cartels or mob operations. As the Wisconsin Supreme Court said, they executed search warrants against the personal homes and families of the leaders of these nonprofits in “pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids in which bright floodlights were used to illuminate the targets’ homes.”

Here is the meritless theory behind the investigations: Any support for issues important to Gov. Scott Walker, such as the bill reducing union power over state government employees, was illegal “coordination.”

As the state Supreme Court said, however, our democracy is supposed to assure the “unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.” Instead, the prosecutors’ theories “would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished.”
Also known as the Roger Stone treatment.

You don't have to like Donald Trump, or Scott Walker, or any Republican. You can certainly argue they are scoundrels; Trump certainly has had his scoundrel-like moments. But if we give prosecutors unfettered power, we are risking something far more dangerous than impolite Tweets.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Who knew?

I'm impressed by this. The Guardian must have a hell of a Twin Cities bureau to scoop everyone about this development:
A pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress who is aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar in Minnesota has been charged with a felony after allegedly stealing from stores.

Danielle Stella was arrested twice this year in Minneapolis suburbs over allegations that she shoplifted items worth more than $2,300 from a Target and goods valued at $40 from a grocery store. She said she denied the allegations.

Stella, a 31-year-old special education teacher, was reported this week to be a supporter of the baseless “QAnon” conspiracy theory about Donald Trump battling a global cabal of elite liberal paedophiles.
I follow politics fairly closely. I'd never heard of Stella before. Had you? Impressive bit of reporting by the Guardian, I gotta say.

I'm pretty sure I saw the Elite Liberal Paedophiles open for the Del Fuegos at the Turf Club back in '88.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The internet is forever, baby

Michael Moore in 2019, after Mueller flamed out:

I,  Tire Fire Tiresias
What Michael Moore said in 2018:

Look upon my works, yet Mighty, and despair
Bad Trump Bad Trump whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when Mueller comes for you?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Speaking of things that haven't aged well. . .

The internet is forever, baybee:

Mueller ain't coming, Mikey
By the way, it's remarkable how punitive our friends on the portside are.

Purviews, or I Can't Get Into That

Bob Mueller, at the top of his game:

That went well, now didn't it?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Franken Agonistes

Al Franken wants his old job back:
At his house, Franken said he understood that, in such an atmosphere, the public might not be eager to hear his grievances. Holding his head in his hands, he said, “I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims.” Yet, he added, being on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which he fervently supports, has led him to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of Internet-fuelled outrage. He told me that his therapist had likened his experience to “what happens when primates are shunned and humiliated by the rest of the other primates.” Their reaction, Franken said, with a mirthless laugh, “is ‘I’m going to die alone in the jungle.’ ”
And now, a musical interlude:

Regrets, he has a few, which Franken shared with Jane Mayer, last seen going after Brett Kavanaugh for things Kavanaugh hadn't done, but now in commiseration mode with a politician who actually did things:
When I asked him if he truly regretted his decision to resign, he said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.” He wishes that he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, as he had requested, allowing him to marshal facts that countered the narrative aired in the press. 
The piece I've linked, in the New Yorker, is very long and full of attempts at exculpation. Does Franken deserve a second chance? Was what happened to Franken fair?

Well, Franken's not going to get to represent Minnesota in the Senate again, unless Tina Smith were to stand down. Do you see that happening? I don't. Do you think Franken is going to primary Smith, the former Planned Parenthood executive? Do you think the DFL would let him? I don't. If Amy Klobuchar were to retire after her term is up (she's not going to be president, you know), Franken could run for that seat, but he'll have to wait until 2024 to have a chance. Franken will be 73 years old at that time, and there's little reason to believe Klobuchar would give up her seat in any event, unless she runs for president again. If that were to happen, there's a gaggle of younger DFL politicians a mile long who would want her seat and would not be amenable to standing aside to let Franken assuage his psyche.

If Franken really wants to avenge his situation, there's another solution: move back to New York and challenge Kirsten Gillibrand. Of course, he'd have to wait until 2024 for that chance, too. But if he's got anyone to blame for his fate, assuming he doesn't look in the mirror, Gillibrand is the culprit. Back to Mayer:
Minutes after Politico posted the story, Senator Gillibrand’s chief of staff called Franken’s to say that Gillibrand was going to demand his resignation. Franken was stung by Gillibrand’s failure to call him personally. They had been friends and squash partners. In a later call, Gillibrand’s chief of staff offered to have Gillibrand speak with Franken, but by that time Franken was frantically conferring with his staff and his family. Franken’s office proposed that Franken’s daughter speak with Gillibrand instead, but Gillibrand declined.

Gillibrand then went on Facebook and posted her demand that Franken resign: “Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. While it’s true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated.”

Minutes later, at a previously scheduled press conference, Gillibrand added insult to injury: she reiterated her call for Franken to resign while also trumpeting her sponsorship of a new bill that banned mandatory arbitration of sexual-harassment claims. She didn’t mention that Franken had originated the legislation—and had given it to Gillibrand to sponsor, out of concern that it might be imperilled by his scandal.
For her part, Gillibrand regrets nothing:
I recently asked Gillibrand why she felt that Franken had to go. She said, “We had eight credible allegations, and they had been corroborated, in real time, by the press corps.” She acknowledged that she hadn’t spoken to any accusers, to assess their credibility, but said, “I had been a leader in this space of sexual harassment and assault, and it was weighing on me.” Franken was “entitled to whichever process he wants,” she said. “But he wasn’t entitled to me carrying his water, and defending him with my silence.” She acknowledged that the accusations against Franken “were different” from the kind of rape or molestation charges made against many other #MeToo targets. “But the women who came forward felt it was sexual harassment,” she said. “So it was.”
So Franken got knifed by an ambitious pol who pretended to be his friend. Should we be sympathetic to his plight? You can if you'd like. But as far as I'm concerned, if I'm going to feel sympathy for a former Minnesota senator, I'll pick Norm Coleman instead.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Moon

I'm old enough to remember the moon landing. I was 5 when it happened and I remember watching it at my aunt and uncle's house. They had color television and we didn't, but it didn't matter much because all of the video was in black and white anyway. At the moment of the landing, the NASA cameras weren't working, so you got a simulation, which I think has kept the "moon is faked" thing going for half a century:

It took Armstrong and Aldrin six hours to actually set foot on the moon. It was late, but we tried to stay up long enough to actually see it and I somewhat remember seeing it, although it's not clear that I actually did, because I've seen the footage many times later and memory is a tricky thing.

I started kindergarten a few weeks after Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins made their journey. What I remember is, at least at Jackson Elementary School in Appleton, astronauts were nifty and cool and all of my fellow kindergartners, boys and girls, wanted to be one. As a group we went about 0/25 on that aspiration.

I also remember Woodstock, or at least watching reports of it on the CBS Evening News. My dad didn't like it much.

Do you remember watching the moon landing?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Update/Good News

Barring anything unforeseen, I have a new gig. Will start work on an 18-month assignment for a medical device company on 7/29. I expect to learn a lot.

The blogging may still be lighter than it used to be; my pattern in the past was to get up very early in the morning so that I could write something before I headed to work. At this point in my life, sleep deprivation is a very poor idea, so I'm not going back to that schedule. But I'll stay awake.

I am grateful for your support. A lot of people were praying for me and I appreciate those prayers and well-wishes. While this is an era of low unemployment, it's not easy to find a job at a senior level, so your prayers have lifted me throughout this period of transition.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Squad Goals

As I recall, #squadgoals was a popular hashtag around 2015 or thereabouts. The always useful Grammar Girl wrote about the term back then:
"Squad goals" can be simply the goals of your squad (your friends or your clique), but sometimes that seems to play out in practice as simply "awesome," as in "This is awesome," meaning "I or we want this someday," or "We want to be like this." So when you see just a picture of hot women with nothing but the comment "squad goals," it means something like "We want to be like them" or "We want to date them." 
It's good to have goals and it's useful to have a squad. But do you want the Squad? As we've learned in recent days, the four principal members of the Squad are Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley in the Zeppo role. Aside from Pressley, they've all taken star turns in 2019 and bedeviled Nancy Pelosi something fierce. And now Donald Trump has decided to bring them to center stage:

Image result for AOC Squad
Impeach the MF-o, Al-Qaedo, Zeppo, Clapbacko
Trump went all Merle Haggard on these four, but he seemed to be training particular fire on our local hero, Omar, who walked right into the trap:

Al-Qaeda? Shmal-Qaeda! She won't dignify the question with a response, you see. I'm showing you this clip now because you might as well get used to seeing it; it should be part of just about every Republican ad you'll see in the next cycle.

Democrats want 2020 to be a referendum on Donald Trump. Donald Trump wants 2020 to be a referendum on the Squad and their supporters. Let's go back to Grammar Girl's definition:
"Squad goals" can be simply the goals of your squad (your friends or your clique), but sometimes that seems to play out in practice as simply "awesome," as in "This is awesome," meaning "I or we want this someday," or "We want to be like this."
Maybe the folks in Linden Hills find Ilhan Omar awesome and want to be like the Squad, at least as long as the Cedar-Riverside denizens don't take over all the tables at the Starbucks at 50th and France. But the eternal question remains -- does the Squad play in Peoria? Trump knows the answer. So does Nancy Pelosi, but because Trump will keep these four luminaries front and center, Pelosi has to defend them. And the folks in Peoria are paying attention, to say nothing of the folks in Grand Rapids, and Eau Claire, and Altoona, and even Duluth. Trump knows this, too. And Trump doesn't mind giving offense as long as he stays on offense.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Bye, Acosta

Alexander Acosta is gone:
Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has resigned amid controversy over his role in a 2008 plea deal with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

President Donald Trump said Friday that it was Acosta's decision and not his as he spoke to reporters as he left the White House for a trip to Wisconsin.

Acosta was standing next to Trump as the president called him "a great labor secretary, not a good one."
So Trump is going to Wisconsin today? Wonder who might be there?

Image result for scott walker
Tanned, rested and ready
Man, I hope I'm right about this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Under the Hood, or Perotmandias

Ross Perot, RIP:
Ross Perot, a self-made billionaire business magnate who twice ran as a third-party candidate for president, died Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by family.

He was 89.

"In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action," a statement from his family said. "A true American patriot and a man of rare vision, principle and deep compassion, he touched the lives of countless people through his unwavering support of the military and veterans and through his charitable endeavors."
I suppose that's true enough. At the time, particularly in 1992, he was seen as the guy who siphoned off enough votes from George H. W. Bush to allow Bill Clinton into the White House. That's debatable, and frankly not that interesting. The Bushes present their own issues.

Once Perot lost his second race, back in 1996, we didn't hear much from him any more. I don't see that the issues he was most concerned about have been addressed. Government has grown under Clinton, W, Obama, and Trump. Perot's concern about the national debt? Pshaw. Perot liked graphs. Here's one:

Image result for national debt by year
Spending fools
These debts will never be repaid, of course. You can blame presidents for spending, but Congress holds the power of the purse and it hasn't mattered one bit -- they all spend like there's no tomorrow. Tomorrow will arrive eventually. But the reckoning? Who knows?

As for Perot, he's as relevant now as any of his other third-party predecessors were. He might as well be Fighting Bob La Follette or Strom Thurmond in his Dixiecrat phase. We don't have anyone who is seeking to repair our government any more. Trump is simply trying to forestall worse ideas than what we've seen and endured already.

Round the decay/Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Epstein's Mothership

Jeffrey Epstein is in the dock again. The Trump haters are hoping Trump is implicated. The Clinton haters figure he's finally going to get his. Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz. . . all manner of big shots are implicated, or they aren't.

The stories have been going around for a long time. Epstein, a wealthy financier, apparently had a long career of procuring and violating teenage girls. He had a private plane and a private island. The plane was called the "Lolita Express." He was in the dock in 2008, but he got a plea bargain orchestrated by the man who is now Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta.

How will it play out? A few guesses:

  • Trump is implicated because he apparently flew on Epstein's plane one time. Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's plane 26 times. Flying on the plane doesn't prove either man diddled a teenager. While it's safe to assume both men will have their names dragged through the mud, it's unlikely they will be in the dock themselves.
  • However, if the Trump haters think they can bring Trump down on this one, they won't hesitate to do so, and if it means Bubba goes under the bus (or the landing gear, so to speak), they won't hesitate there, either. The Clintons are no longer useful.
  • Acosta may be in deep water, too. Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has been beating that drum for a long time. Acosta's departure wouldn't be a big loss, especially if Trump goes bold and puts Scott Walker in the seat. That confirmation hearing would be a whole lot of fun.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Clown Show, Part 2

Then, there was the second Democratic debate on Thursday night. A spectacle. Quick impressions:
    Image result for sonny corleone murder
    Would you care to respond to Senator Harris, Vice President Biden?
  • A commenter on another blog compared Joe Biden's evening with Sonny Corleone's visit to the toll booth in The Godfather. It was a setup, for sure, especially the exchange with Kamala Harris regarding busing (more about that shortly). Biden has never done well running for president; he's an old back slapping politician who was past his sell-by date in 2008 and his status as the front-runner was always more about name recognition than anything else. He's not going to make it. 
  • I've never understood why people like Bernie Sanders, although I will say this -- he's the most honest totalitarian of the bunch. He's an instantly familiar type -- an angry old man railing against his lifelong enemies. His rhetoric is infused with sulfuric acid. He cannot understand why the world doesn't bend to his will. He's implacable. He's only happy when it rains. He had a moment in 2016 when his opponent was the odious careerist Hillary Clinton, but he's not going to make it out of a 20+ person field.
  • Kamala Harris is really a nasty piece of work. She put the cap into Biden about busing, even though it's doubtful her story about being a second grader on a bus in Berkeley will check out (and I'm sure Biden's panicked staff is going full oppo on it). Her parents weren't sharecroppers or factory workers who were part of the Great Northern Migration; they were academics. Like Ted Cruz, she grew up in Canada, graduating from high school in Montreal. She is trying to position herself as a champion of the downtrodden, but as a career prosecutor she's going to receive flak for sins of omission and commission. She will certainly be in position to be the nominee, especially since the California primary is early on the schedule, but I expect the other campaigns are going to do everything they can to take her out tout de suite, as they say in Quebec.
  • Pete "Mayor Pete" Buttigieg is a more polite demagogue than Harris or Bernie, but he's a demagogue nonetheless. His disquisition on Republicans and Christianity was particularly dishonest; while a Venn diagram of Christians and Republicans would show considerable overlap, Buttigieg purposely distorts cause and effect. Conservative Christians support Republicans because Republicans are not, in the main, as actively hostile to Christianity as the Democratic Party regularly reveals itself to be. Doing so isn't an abdication of values; rather, it's a tactical move to survive a party that would stomp out dissent. Mayor Pete is a clever guy who is really running for Vice President, but my guess is his smug style will begin to grate and some of the other candidates will use recent events in South Bend to send him back there.
  • Image result for tracy flick election
    Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Joe Biden doesn't, as you well know.
  • I've not seen "Election," the 1999 Reese Witherspoon vehicle, but the character she played in the movie, Tracy Flick, has become part of the culture -- the overweening high school steamroller who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Kirsten Gillibrand is like that. She was obnoxious on the debate stage and the recipient of dirty stares from just about every other participant. No one wants to deal with people like her, so she's not going to make it. 
  • The two Coloradans on the stage, John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, both tried to be moderate in varying ways. They aren't going to make it.
  • Image result for greg marmalard
    I have $100,000 in student loan debt and dirty diapers, so I'm going to take your guns away!
  • There's something about Eric Swalwell's smarminess that causes a visceral reaction for me, so I'll have to tread carefully. He reminds me of the Greg Marmalard character in Animal House -- smug, phony, sneaky, the sort of guy who would stick a shiv in your back without blinking an eye. Fortunately, he's got no chance. 
  • Andrew Yang is the most interesting candidate in the field, by a long shot. Unsurprisingly, he got about 3 minutes to talk. His website is brimming with ideas, some daft, some quite good. I especially like his stance on data privacyConsent should be informed and active – companies are responsible for ensuring that they collect a positive opt-in from each user before collecting any data, and this opt-in should be accompanied by a clear and easy-to-understand statement about what data is being collected, and how it is going to be used. You can waive these rights and opt in to sharing your data if you wish for the companies’ benefit and your own convenience – but then you should receive a share of the economic value generated from your data. I don't want Yang to be president, but once his campaign hits room temperature Donald Trump ought to adopt some of Yang's ideas for his own campaign.
  • Marianne Williamson is your sophomore year college girlfriend. She wrote you a poem called "Mensch and Moonchild" and gave you a few mind-blowing memories behind the stadium, but ultimately you're grateful that she went on a field term to Ecuador in the second semester.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Clown Show, Part 1

I watched the first Dem debate last night. Quick impressions:

  • Elizabeth Warren was omnipresent at first, speaking 6-7 times in the first half hour, but then largely disappeared the rest of the way. I am guessing someone got to the NBC moderators to let them know people were keeping track. She has "plans," but other than demanding more research about various issues, she didn't seem to have a plan for actual governance. NBC did her a favor by limiting her exposure in the second half of the debate.
  • Oh, everyone here in Minnesota is rooting for Our Amy, but she doesn't have the chops. Her magic surname means nothing across the St. Croix River. She got off one semi-amusing line about conducting foreign policy in pajamas, which was probably a shot about Trump's Tweeting habits, but other than that she didn't register.
  • Beto O'Rourke was a disaster. He's the emptiest of suits and his near miss against Ted Cruz in the last cycle tells you more about Cruz than it does about O'Rourke. He has nothing to say and doesn't say it especially well, either. He demonstrated the ability to speak high school level Spanish, though. Muy bien, dude.
  • Cory Booker is a demagogue of the first rank, but he comes off as a bit, well, loony. He's long had a history of telling dubious anecdotes (his mythical pal T-Bone comes to mind), and his assertion about hearing gunshots in his neighborhood is an admission against interest -- sir, if you were mayor of Newark, shouldn't you have solved that issue by now? Many words, little substance.
  • Julian Castro wants to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. And he'd also like complete open borders, apparently. He also wants "reproductive justice," but not for the unborn. And he'd like transgender women, who don't have a uterus, to have the ability to have an abortion, too. He's in touch with his world, I guess.
  • Tulsi Gabbard has no shot, but she's interesting. She's a non-interventionist and that's an increasingly popular stance. She is also an attractive woman, but it didn't seem to help her much yesterday. 
  • Bill De Blasio is not going to win. He's a left-wing Chris Christie with even less charm. He's likely to get run out of office in New York in the next election cycle. Other than that, he's just fine.
  • John Delaney sounded sensible. But he looks like Mr. Peterson on The Bob Newhart Show. And we haven't elected a bald dude president since Eisenhower. And John Delaney is a former backbencher congressman from Maryland, not the Supreme Allied Commander.
    Frightened by Jay Inslee
  • Jay Inslee was actually kinda frightening. And he looks like former Gophers coach Tim "Get That Chili Hot" Brewster. He's a one-note samba about climate change and came across as the sort of guy who would strap non-believers onto a windmill. 
    Losing again
    I am glad a sizable mountain range separates Inslee from the rest of the country.
  • Tim Ryan is, from what we're told, a congressman from Ohio who has represented the Youngstown area for a long time. As Ohio congressmen go, he's far less entertaining than his predecessor James Traficant was, but he's got the baleful stare down pat. Here he looks like he wants to strangle Tulsi Gabbard with his bare hands:
The look of love is in your eyes
So who won the debate? Donald Trump. We'll see what the second clown show looks like tonight.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Safety School, Baby!

My alma mater gets a nod from the Style Section of the Washington Post, but not of the sort it would want:
But I’m still at a loss about what to do with a situation like Kyle Kashuv’s. And not in some what-is-the-meaning-of-redemption way. But practically speaking: Unless we seal them all in a cave, people who do bad (but not illegal) things are going to continue to be part of our society. What do we think that should look like? What is your personal vision?
The miscreant in question is Kyle Kashuv, a top student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who had the credentials to get into Harvard, but was drummed out because SJWs don't like 2nd Amendment types (Kashuv spoke in favor of the 2nd Amendment, unlike his classmate David Hogg, who is sailing into Harvard with less stellar credentials but a more correct worldview). The SJW spelunking teams dug up some nasty texts he wrote two years ago, where he apparently used the "n" word and maybe said some other uncharitable things that 16-year-old dudes say as they marinate in testosterone. Harvard doesn't want him now, so what to do with him? Post Style Writer/Moral Arbiter Monica Hesse has some suggestions (emphasis in original):
University of Florida? I saw someone suggest that as a possible destination for Kashuv. The argument went that Kashuv shouldn’t be rewarded with the prestige of the Ivy League, but maybe could go off to some less illustrious institution, where he could then continue to work on himself.

I actually saw a fair number of suggestions like this: Not Harvard. Somewhere else. Somewhere less good. The solution seemed reasonable, but it had a tinge of classism, an element of passing the buck. If you don’t believe that Harvard students should have to attend classes with someone who has used racist terminology within the past two years, then why would you subject University of Florida students to that? Or students from Beloit or Colorado State? Would those universities even admit him, or would they follow Harvard’s lead?
Beloit! My alma mater! The quintessential safety school! Beloit, the self-proclaimed "Yale of the Midwest," known up and down the Acela Corridor as a place to park your kid if he's not smart enough to get into Harvard, or was too busy doing bong hits at Pomfret to crack the code at Princeton. But should my fair school be the place where people who are Not Our Kind, Dear have to serve their penance? For her part, Monica Hesse went to Bryn Mawr, a place where one can sniff the glory of the Ivy League from the Philadelphia Main Line. Her school is a member in good standing of the all-female Seven Sisters, so a brute like Kashuv can't even try to go there. Besides which, elite liberal arts schools on the eastern seaboard are right out, including the other proper places in Bryn Mawr's neighborhood; I suspect Haverford would provide no haven and Swarthmore would swat him away, too, so he'll need to go someplace in District 10, where they keep the livestock. Thus, the Beloit dilemma.

Maybe I'm being churlish about this; perhaps Beloiters should be grateful that Hesse doesn't really want to subject my alma mater with an irredeemable type like Kashuv. After all, the Yale of the Midwest needs to maintain its own smelly orthodoxies and a guy who actually likes guns might scare the other matriculants. Hesse is concerned, though -- something has to be done, you see:
What does it look like to make amends? How do we decide what’s redeemable, for example, and then how does a person actually become redeemed? What kind of roles does our society allow for them, and when?

When I read Baker’s essay, I didn’t know what to do with the bad men. I didn’t know where they should go, or what the right societal reentry would be. I didn’t want to talk about the bad men at all, but eventually we’ll need to.
The Baker in question is Katie Baker, whose essay concerns what to do with men who run afoul of #MeToo. No one has suggested Kashuv has a sexual issue, other than obviously being too in love with guns so he must be compensating for something, I guess.

Ultimately, we're back to the same cultural turf where we encountered the Covington Catholic kids, who were bad by definition, even though those doing the defining, including Hesse's employer, were wrong. Nicholas Sandmann is suing Monica Hesse's employer. Kyle Kashuv won't be, most likely. But I have two questions -- first, why on earth would Kyle Kashuv want "societal reentry" in the world Monica Hesse inhabits? And second, who made Hesse and her ilk the arbiters of such things?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Pour encourager les autres

Oberlin College has an eight-figure problem:
A Lorain County jury awarded Gibson’s Bakery $33 million in punitive damages in a case against Oberlin College on Thursday bringing the total damages in the case to more than $40 million.

The jury found the the college and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo liable on three different counts last Friday, awarding more than $11 million in actual damages. 
The counts were:
  • Defamation - Oberlin College and Raimondo were found liable
  • Infliction of intentional emotional distress - Oberlin College was found liable
  • Intentional interference of business relationships - Raimondo was found liable
$44 million is a huge sum, even for a school with an endowment of over $850 million. Oberlin is going to keep fighting, apparently. From the linked article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar in a letter to the campus community on Friday expressed dissatisfaction with the jury’s decision, and signaled the college plans to appeal its findings.

“Let me be absolutely clear: This is not the final outcome. This is, in fact, just one step along the way of what may turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process,” Twillie Ambar said. “We are disappointed in the jury’s decisions and the fragmentary and sometimes distorted public discussion of this case. But we respect the integrity of the jury, and we value our relationship with the town and region that are our home.”
While the first rule of holes applies in this case, I get it -- it's likely the punitive damage award will be reduced on appeal, but the chances of getting the case thrown out entirely are about nil. The facts of the case aren't good for Oberlin:
The case filed in 2017 stemmed from Oberlin and Raimondo’s conduct after a string of student protests outside the bakery where protesters called the owners racist.

Three black students were arrested in 2016 after one tried to use a fake ID and shoplifted from the bakery, according to the Chronicle-Telegram. The owner’s son, who is white, followed the students and got into a fight with them.

Soon after, students protested outside of the bakery to the extent where local police testified that they considered pulling in outside help.
Protest might be soft-pedaling things a bit. Legal Insurrection adds some context:

After the initial protest that said Gibson’s was racist, Oberlin College did nothing to put out the fire, and in fact added to it. That is more than likely what made the jury think they school had acted with “malice’ toward Gibson’s, the primary piece of the punitive damage puzzle. Rather than put out a statement that Gibson’s was not racist, the school put out a letter on Nov. 11 from the school president and the dean of students that said, “Regarding the incident at Gibson’s, we are deeply troubled because we have heard from students that there is more to the story than what has been generally reported. We will commit every resource to determining the full and true narrative, including exploring whether this is a pattern and not an isolated incident.”
That statement was not part of the defamation claim, but set a tone of indifference. And it was that indifference by the school, plus emails and texts that showed vitriolic attitude in them, that perhaps caused the jury to go very high on the punitive damages.

According to the evidence presented, the school never did determine “any full and true narrative” and found out as most everyone in the community knew, that the Gibsons had never had and history of racism on any kind. But the school still cut the business off from its cafeteria delivery business (bagels, pastries and pizza dough). Students stopped shopping at the store. Revenues dropped by a huge amount (from about $900,000 in 2016 down to about $500,000 in 2018) and Oberlin College never did anything to rectify the situation.
Of course. Facts aren't important in a narrative-driven world. And even now, the facts don't matter on the Oberlin campus:
The damage was worse than most realize. On a walk through campus several weekends ago, this reporter talked to about 20 students at random on campus, and every one of them said they would never shop at Gibson’s because the business and family are racist. When shown the police reports and the fact that the three shoplifters plead guilty and claimed “no racial profiling” was involved, most of the students I spoke with said, “Cops lie.”
Do cops lie? Some do. But SJWs lie as well. And that's the crux here. The town of Oberlin has less than 10,000 citizens. Oberlin College is the center of the community. And it's been a lefty enclave forever. But there's a difference between conventional liberalism and the the SJW lunacy emanating from college campuses these days. Back to Legal Insurrection:
But in the end, this was. a case that will be one that is pointed to as a “tipping point” of sorts. [Plaintiff attorney Lee] Plakas repeatedly told the jury that this was bigger than them, and that they could make a statement to the country “that this type of behavior is unacceptable to any community because a big collegiate institution like Oberlin College has a responsibility to their community and neighbors, and not just to themselves.”
The message has to send a shudder through other liberal arts colleges, especially ones less well-heeled than Oberlin. My alma mater, Beloit College, has an endowment about 1/4th of Oberlin's. If Beloit were hit with an 8-figure judgment, the college would probably end up closing its doors. A similar result would put every other liberal arts college in Wisconsin out of business as well. The saying is, "get woke, go broke." The pathology of totalitarian thinking can survive on campus, but for the moment the real world isn't having it.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Just so we're clear

A pro-life Democrat is a contradiction in terms. It is not allowed.
Former Vice President Joe Biden says he now wants to throw out the Hyde Amendment, dropping his long-held support for the measure that blocks federal funds from being used for most abortions amid criticism from his 2020 Democratic rivals.

"If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code," he said.

The Hyde Amendment is a four-decade-old ban on federal dollars being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman's life is in danger.
Meanwhile, Ann Althouse makes a great point about Joe Biden's flipping and flopping on the Hyde Amendment (emphasis in original):
I thought the whole point of Biden was that he was the one that other people would vote for. If he squares up his positions with the other Democratic candidates, the Biden's reason for being a candidate collapses.

I was going to say the Democrats are screwing up their "other people" reasoning, but I see that it's pretty clever of all the non-Biden candidates to lure him into surrendering his big advantage. Well played!
The guy on the port side I'm going to be watching is Dan Lipinski, a congresscritter who represents a southwest suburban enclave of Chicago. He's one of the few pro-life Democrats still existing. He got primaried hard in 2018, but prevailed. The same candidate, Marie Newman, is looking to oust him again. Newman has Bernie Sanders's endorsement and Lipinski is getting plenty o' hate (weird parentheticals in original):
According to HuffPost, Lipinski was mentioned at the event as an attendee by Kathy Ireland, who was the emcee. (Normal sentence.) Lipinski was endorsed by the SBA in his last race, and the organization had a “six-figure GOTV effort” that “reached more than 23,000 voters,” according to an SBA press release. Lipinski won his primary race by two points.

But his primary opponent, Marie Newman, is running against him again in 2020, picking up an endorsement from Bernie Sanders yesterday. In April, Politico reported that Newman’s campaign had seen consultants fleeing after the DCCC announced a policy preventing its vendors from working with primary challengers, with the consultants describing the warning they received from the DCCC as “a very clear threat to their ability to do business with” the organization.

The Susan B. Anthony List supports anti-abortion politicians, most of whom are Republicans running against Democrats. (Every dull scold who can’t shut up about Bernie Sanders not being a Democrat—might there be more important and troubling targets for your ire, maybe?) A large section of its homepage currently encourages visitors to read about “President Trump’s Pro-Life Wins.” That page details the organization’s “Largest Pro-Life Grassroots Campaign for Three Election Cycles,” which it says included targeting “pro-life Latino & pro-life Democrat” voters.

In case you still weren't clear, writer Libby Watson drives the point home -- since this is generally a family publication, I'll redact the f-bombs:
After weeks of horrible abortion news, all I can say is: f__k you, Dan Lipinski, you weird weasel asshole. F__k any Democrat that defends him, and the DCCC for not casting him out. Oh, and f__k Kathy Ireland, too.
Have a nice day, I guess.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Still plugging away

I remain hopeful something will break my way soon.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Man of the Moment

You really should read the transcript of Attorney General William Barr's interview with Jan Crawford of CBS News. I'm going to point out two examples of why Barr is exactly the guy we need at this moment:

Image result for william barr
Honey badger

JAN CRAWFORD: You're saying that spying occurred. There's not anything necessarily wrong with that.


JAN CRAWFORD: As long as there's a reason for it.

WILLIAM BARR: Whether it's adequately predicated. And look, I think if we -- we are worried about foreign influence in the campaign? We should be because the heart of our system is the peaceful transfer of power through elections and what gives the government legitimacy is that process. And if foreign elements can come in and affect it, that's bad for the republic. But by the same token, it's just as, it's just as dangerous to the continuation of self-government and our republican system, republic that we not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.

JAN CRAWFORD: So it's just as dangerous- So when we talk about foreign interference versus say a government abuse of power, which is more troubling?

WILLIAM BARR: Well they're both, they're both troubling.


WILLIAM BARR: In my mind, they are, sure. I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they're there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.

JAN CRAWFORD: And you are concerned that that may have happened in 2016?

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I just think it has to be carefully look at because the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign to me is unprecedented and it's a serious red line that's been crossed.
Emphasis mine. Partisanship is one thing, but Barr points out the real danger, which is the certainty of thought that flows from Orange Man Bad. As I've observed the last 3-4 years, the greatest realization I've had to face is discovering that many of the things I believe weren't, ahem, adequately predicated.

The end of the interview is even more important:

JAN CRAWFORD: But when you came into this job, you were kind of, it's like the US Attorney in Connecticut, I mean, you had a good reputation on the right and on the left. You were a man with a good reputation. You are not someone who is, you know, accused of protecting the president, enabling the president, lying to Congress. Did you expect that coming in? And what is your response to it? How do you? What's your response to that?

WILLIAM BARR: Well in a way I did expect it.


WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, because I realize we live in a crazy hyper-partisan period of time and I knew that it would only be a matter of time if I was behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them, that I would be attacked because nowadays people don't care about the merits and the substance. They only care about who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits, everything is gauged by politics. And as I say, that's antithetical to the way the department runs and any attorney general in this period is going to end up losing a lot of political capital and I realize that and that is one of the reasons that I ultimately was persuaded that I should take it on because I think at my stage in life it really doesn't make any difference.

JAN CRAWFORD: You are at the end of your career, or?

WILLIAM BARR: I am at the end of my career. I've you know--

JAN CRAWFORD: Does it, I mean, it's the reputation that you have worked your whole life on though?

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, but everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don't believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?
Emphasis mine. This is a man who doesn't care if he gets dissed in the Washington Post, or doesn't get to hang at the cocktail parties in Georgetown. He understands there is no value in holding the esteem of jackals. He may look like a cross between John Goodman and Roger Ebert, but he is Shane. This is the man of the moment.

UPDATE: if you weren't certain that Barr is the guy we need, consider this: swamp denizen Jonathan Chait is terrified.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Apologies to Tom Lehrer

Don't say that he's hypocritical
Say rather that he's apolitical
"Once the slanders are up, who cares where they come down?
That's not my department" says Mueller von Braun

Sunday, May 26, 2019

RIP, Bart Starr

A great Packer, but a better human being.

Image result for bart starr
In action against the Fearsome Foursome
I only got to see him play at the very end of his career, after the glory days were done. He is one of the most important players in NFL history. But his legacy is more than his exploits on the gridiron. He also helped countless at-risk young men through his Rawhide Boys Ranch program, which continues to this day. He was a legend on the gridiron, but he left footprints well beyond that space. RIP.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

For what it's worth

Since I'm seeing a lot of chatter on social media about Trump supposedly delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill because he's a Bad Orange Man, a reminder from 2016 is in order:
Millions of Americans rejoiced yesterday when the U.S. Treasury announced that it would replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20 bill. However, their celebrations may be premature: It could be a decade or more before the bill is actually in circulation.

The problem is the slow pace at which the U.S. government typically moves to adopt change, according to Wired. In a letter posted on Medium, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will unveil new looks for the $5, $10 and $20 bills in 2020 in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

The new bills won’t go into circulation then, however; they’ll merely be shown to the public. It could take many more years to pass before the average American has a wallet full of Harriet Tubman $20s.

The hold-up is in part due to security concerns: The blue anti-counterfeit strip on the $100 bill took 15 years to develop. The Treasury is also committed to making the new bills more accessible for the visually impaired, meaning that they may have to develop new texture details. In true vague government fashion, a Treasury spokesperson said it’s impossible to predict when the new bills will be ready.
Jack Lew could promise anything, but the wheels turn slowly, especially since $20 and $100 bills are the ones counterfeiters favor. For an outlet to say we won't see Tubman Twenties until after Trump leaves office is simultaneously true and false.

Tommies get the boot

So the University of St. Thomas is getting the boot from the MIAC, and the decision is getting national attention. Even Sports Illustrated has weighed in:
The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) is showing one of its most successful founding members the door.

The 13-school Division III league has decided to kick out the University of St. Thomas, one of its founding members, due to concerns about “athletic competitive parity.”

In short, St. Thomas is just too good at sports for the rest of the MIAC, and if the Tommies had stayed, the teams they had been pummeling were considering leaving, threatening the future of the conference.
Most people have been concentrating on the exploits of the Tommies on the gridiron, where they've been less than gentle in their treatment of their foes, as SI notes:
St. Thomas has an enrollment about twice the size of the next largest school in the MIAC and is one of just two league members with at least 100 players on the football team, according to Pat Borzi of MinnPost. Add in the fact that in 2017 the Tommies’ conference results included an 84–0 rout of Hamline and a 97–0 thrashing of St. Olaf, and it starts to make sense why other schools wanted them gone.
I couldn't find footage of the St. Olaf game, but it was something like this:

So football is a source of contention, but the larger issue is the overall level of dominance:
St. Thomas only started dominating football after current coach Glenn Caruso arrived in 2008, but the school has begun to dominate most other sports, too. Since the 2013–14 school year, St. Thomas has 72 MIAC titles across all sports; the next closest league member has 16. 
We've seen this before -- my beloved alma mater, Beloit College, got the boot from the Midwest Conference in 1951. Tom Oates from the Wisconsin State Journal tells the story:
Starting with the 1945-46 season, [Coach Dolph] Stanley built a program that would compile a 242-58 record in 12 years, finish as high as third in what became the NAIA tournament and become so dominant it was expelled from the Midwest Conference following its sixth consecutive title in 1951.

There were no divisions in NCAA basketball at the time, but Stanley's teams beat many schools that are now household name4s in Division I, including DePaul and Loyola from Chicago, Indiana State (coached by John Wooden), Houston, Brigham Young, Washington State, Arizona and Florida State.

"He tried to schedule as many (big-time) teams as he could," said Johnny Orr, who also graduated from Beloit in 1949, coached at Michigan and Iowa State and now lives near Naples, Fla. "We travelled everywhere, man. We'd play anybody and we'd beat most of 'em."
About that last Midwest Conference game -- Beloit edged Cornell (Iowa) 131-43 in the title game. Beloit then went on to NIT, which was then a prestigious tournament, losing to Seton Hall. In his day, Stanley was merciless:
Stanley, who died in 1990, used his pressing, fastbreaking style to fill Beloit's new field house and confuse opponents.

"I remember once we were really killing the other team and there was a timeout and the coach came up the floor and he had tears in his eyes," said [former UW-Madison coach John] Erickson, who lives near Kansas City. "He said to Dolph, ‘You've got to let us get the ball to halfcourt. I've never seen this before. I don't know what you call it, but we can't get the ball up to midcourt.' And Dolph said, ‘Well, you're going to have to learn to do that I guess.' "
The Bucs of that era featured Erickson, who coached the Badgers in the 1960s, along with Johnny Orr, who coached at Michigan and Iowa State for many years, and Ron Bontemps, the star player on the 1952 U.S. Olympic team. It wasn't sustainable; Stanley eventually left and went on to Drake and the Bucs eventually were welcomed back into the Midwest Conference, where these days they are often a footwipe.

The Tommies don't have superstars, but they often get guys like Jacques Parra, who was a Division 1 player who transferred to St. Thomas and was the quarterback who led the gentle 97-0 win over the unfortunate Oles.

I'm torn about this. The Tommies are dominant in just about every sport in the MIAC, which makes it tough for the other schools to take. It’s not just about football. I understand the argument, but it’s common in all competitive activities for the dominant program to move up a level in competition. Have the Tommies have reached that point? I think so.