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.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Let it all hang out

President Donald Trump has ordered that the information and underlying evidence that led to the Russia investigation be declassified in a move that could alter the political landscape surrounding Democrats' moves to potentially impeach him.
Some detail of how it will go down:

 President Trump has assigned ownership of the Directive to U.S. Attorney General William Barr. This part was predictable because the purpose of declassification would be to facilitate a DOJ review of how the intelligence apparatus was used in the 2016 election.

Additionally, because the DOJ review encompasses intelligence systems potentially weaponized in 2016 for political purposes and intents, President Trump carries: (a) declassification authority; but also: (b) an inherent conflict.  In this DOJ endeavor candidate Trump would have been the target of corrupt agency activity; and therefore would be considered the target/victim if weaponization were affirmed by evidence.

To avoid the conflict President Trump designates the U.S. Attorney General as arbiter and decision-maker for the purposes of declassifying evidence within the investigation:

…”The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information.”

Additionally, AG Bill Barr does not need to assemble the intelligence product for approval by the executive (Trump).  Instead the office of the president is granting the AG full unilateral decision-making as to each product being considered for declassification.
It's a tough job for Barr, especially since the Dems are going to vilify him for every move that he makes. But based on what we've observed, he doesn't care what the Dems say. He cares about what they did, especially in 2016.

What's even more interesting is the scope and departments involved:

Secondly, following protocol, the Memorandum is specific to the agencies carrying the documentation that will be reviewed by the Attorney General: The Secretary of State (Pompeo); the Secretary of Treasury (Mnuchin); the Secretary of Defense (Shanahan); the Secretary of Energy (Perry); the Secretary of Homeland Security (McAleenan); the Director of National Intelligence (Coats); the Director of the CIA (Haspel), and the Attorney General himself (Barr).

The agencies give insight into the intelligence product (ie. evidence) being reviewed.  The Treasury and Energy agency was surprisingly notable:
. . .

Considering the purpose of the Memorandum: “The Attorney General is currently conducting a review of intelligence activities relating to the campaigns in the 2016 Presidential election and certain related matters“…  The appearance of Treasury and Energy would indicate the pre-existence of investigative evidence; that would be subject to ongoing DOJ review; and potentially be part of ongoing proceedings. 
Potential target issues could include: (1) an investigation of Uranium One; (2) an investigation of the Clinton Foundation; and, (3) an investigation of matters related to payments to Iran.

Treasury would come into play with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); which was part of the Uranium One process and also included the Dept. of Energy.  Additional related matters could include George Papadopoulos $10k (Treasury); and The Clinton Foundation. 
What it does mean for sure -- large swathes of the Obama administration are potentially under the microscope. The "scandal-free administration" canard is likely to be laid bare. That's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The same thing everywhere you go

Reporting from Australia, where the leftish Labor Party went down to an ignominious defeat over the weekend, Claire Lehmann sees some familiar behaviors:
Progressive politicians like to assume that, on election day at least, blue-collar workers and urban progressives will bridge their differences, and make common cause to support leftist economic policies. This assumption might once have been warranted. But it certainly isn’t now—in large part because the intellectuals, activists and media pundits who present the most visible face of modern leftism are the same people openly attacking the values and cultural tastes of working and middle-class voters. And thanks to social media (and the caustic news-media culture that social media has encouraged and normalized), these attacks are no longer confined to dinner-party titterings and university lecture halls. Brigid Delaney, a senior writer for Guardian Australia, responded to Saturday’s election result with a column about how Australia has shown itself to be “rotten.” One well-known Australian feminist and op-ed writer, Clementine Ford, has been fond of Tweeting sentiments such as “All men are scum and must die.” Former Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, who also has served as a high-profile newspaper columnist, argues that even many mainstream political positions—such as expressing concern about the Chinese government’s rising regional influence—are a smokescreen for racism.
Rotten. Scum, Racist. Yeah, that's all quite familiar. If you actually engage on social media, you're likely to be called all those things, whether you're Down Under or in a coffee shop in Linden Hills. Haters are more likely to let their freak flags fly these days and while it's no long astonishing to see it, the ferocity still can bring you up short. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Fair questions

You may have heard that Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, is now calling for Bad Orange Man's impeachment. If you have followed Amash's career, you are likely aware that he is best known for being a libertarian of the Ron Paul stripe.

So how do you square that philosophy with supporting the Big State behavior of Trump's tormentors? Not sure you can, really. A few other relevant questions from Liz Sheld:
One more thing, J-Am, where are your libertarian principles regarding illegal surveillance on American citizens? On Illegal FISA warrants, national security letters, human intelligence assets being placed around a political campaign by the unelected political bureaucracy? The jack-booted fedgov strong-arming people to plead to process crimes? U cool with that bro, because TRUMP?
I would bet Amash won't answer those questions. But he should, because a principled politician (I know, I know) would have greater concerns over the behavior of the government before and after Trump took office. Amash may be many things, but he's not a libertarian if he's cool with what happened to candidate Trump.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Still alive

A few quick updates and ruminations from the blogger:

  • Things are picking up on the job search a bit -- I feel confident I will be back in the saddle soon. More as I know more.
  • We were back in St. Louis earlier in the week to bring Fearless Maria back for the summer. We would definitely like to have the state of Iowa physically removed from the trip. It's 566 miles each way from our house to the campus. That's a lot of driving.
  • Politics continue to meander, but I sense AG Barr is starting to frighten the correct people. That's an encouraging sign. Let's see if they do anything more than identify the miscreants. If Roger Stone gets a no-knock nighttime raid, James Comey really ought to have one, too.
  • Or better yet, let's get rid of no-knock nighttime raids altogether, please? This Gestapo stuff really needs to end.
  • As expected, the citizenry of Minnesota and Wisconsin both have big-time buyer's remorse concerning their respective governors. It's worth remembering; even if you don't like Bad Orange Man, he's not likely to do much more than irritate your sensibilities. Democrats like to take your things.
  • Fear the Deer.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Doris Day, RIP

97 years old. Quite a run.

"My last picture for Warners was Romance on the High Seas. It was Doris Day's first picture; that was before she became a virgin."

-- Oscar Levant

A world long gone. RIP.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Rejected Prince Archie Baby Names

Spaghetti Day
in One Hour (at Walgreens)
Bel Air
New Power Generation

Add your own in the comments!

Friday, May 03, 2019

Open thread

Lake Johanna, Arden Hills, MN

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Dirty Cop Barr

I saw a little of the circus up on Capitol Hill yesterday, in which various half-witted Democratic senators (redundant, I suppose) tried to turn Attorney General William Barr into an international supervillain. I thought to myself --

  • they don't really believe any of their claims, but 
  • they need to get the narrative rolling right away, because 
  • when Barr starts indicting people, they will then be able to claim he's a Trump stooge, and 
  • that Hillary Clinton in particular needed to have that narrative in the air

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson got there first, with a list of useful reminders:
Russians likely fed salacious but untrue allegations about Trump to ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who was being paid in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to find dirt on Trump.

The Russians rightly assumed that Steele would lap up their fantasies, seed them among Trump-hating officials in the Barack Obama administration and thereby cause hysteria during the election, the transition and, eventually, the Trump presidency.

Russia succeeded in sowing such chaos, thanks ultimately to Clinton, who likely had broken federal laws by using a British national and, by extension, Russian sources to warp an election. Without the fallacious Steele dossier, the entire Russian collusion hoax never would have taken off.
100% true statement. Back to Hanson:
Without Steele's skullduggery, there likely would have been no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court-approved surveillance of Trump aide Carter Page. There might have been no FBI plants inserted into the Trump campaign. There might have been no subsequent leaking to the press of classified documents to prompt a Trump collusion investigation.

Given the Steele travesty and other past scandals, it is inexplicable that Clinton has not been indicted.
It is. But her luck could be running out soon, despite the 20-screen multiplex of project emanating from Cory Booker, Mazie Hirono, Kamala Harris, et al. Why? Back to Hanson:
For much of her professional life, Hillary Clinton had acted above and beyond the law on the assumption that as the wife of a governor, as first lady of the United States, as a senator from New York, as secretary of state and as a two-time candidate for the presidency, she could ignore the law without worry over the consequences.

For Clinton now to project that the president should be indicted suggests she is worried about her own potential indictment. And she is rightly concerned that for the first time in 40 years, neither she nor her husband is serving in government or running for some office, and therefore could be held accountable.
Thus, she and her patrons must turn William Barr into a dirty cop. The alternative?