Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria: Deeply Depressing

There are a number of courses of potential action to entertain when it comes to Syria. Trouble is, each and every one is bad. There are no lesser of two evil options here -- we are either crazy or immoral.

Everyone is talking, arguing, discussing, and rationalizing -- still there are no good ideas.

If this is a harbinger of future problems -- wow -- it will be hard to remain optimistic.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Guns of Summer

Wayne LaPierre has to be one of the world's most despicable creatures.

I do not know, Mr. LaPierre, so his puppets might take umbrage at my characterization. However, there is abundant evidence that he is a liar, and it doesn't take long to dig it up.

He rails on about a police state, but it is the police in suburban Boston who captured the Tsarnaev brothers. The citizens Mr. LaPierre suggests will make us safer were asked to stay indoors. Mr. LaPierre and his fans insist that the citizens were on mandatory lockdown, but review the tapes. People were asked to remain indoors, so the police could hunt the killers down. Mr. LaPierre knows he is a liar, but the people in his world do not check, or recognize, facts. They believe him as he lies, and he know they believe him blindly, but he lies anyway. Where I come from, this is not good. He is a liar.

It doesn't take much common sense to realize that guns kill people. So do cars. So do knives, So can a hammer. These do have other purposes, of course, and to those who claim that guns do as well, and say that they are for protection, then we might as well claim the car exists in order to be washed, the knife to clean fingernails, and the hammer to gain the attention of sleepy students.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hardened Criminals/NCAA

Truthfully, perhaps I never saw a basketball game played with more passion than last night's Michigan versus Louisville NCAA National Championship game. Louisville won, Michigan played well, the commentators overanalyzed, and everyone on the East Coast went to bed a bit later than usual.

The rest is bad news. Not that it is the fault of the coaches, but a lot of them make a lot of money and their institutions do as well. Last night's winner, Louisville, took in more than $40 million last year. Coach Pitino made nearly $5 million. The players get an education. At Louisville, one year costs about $23,000. Four years would add up to $92,000. Of course, in state tuition would be much less, and financially challenged families like those of many basketball players would also qualify for a lot of assistance.

Here are two salary charts:
The Highest Paid College Basketball Players:
All of Them – $0

The Highest Paid College Basketball Coaches:

  • Mike Krzyzewski – Duke: $4.7 million
  • Rick Pitino – Louisville: $4,812,769 (Base salary $3.9 million, $912,769 bonus)
  • Billy Donovan – Florida: $3.639 million
  • Tom Izzo – Michigan State: $3,598,700 (Base salary $3.12 million, $477,800 bonus)
  • John Calipari – Kentucky: $5,387,978 (Base salary $4.987 million, $400,400 bonus)
  • Bill Self – Kansas: $3.633 million
  • Thad Matta – Ohio State: $3.2 million
  • Buzz Williams – Marquette: $2.834 million
  • Jim Calhoun – Connecticut: $2.7 million
  • Rick Barnes – Texas: $2.4 million
  • Matt Painter – Purdue: $2.325 million
  • Sean Miller – University of Arizona: $2.3 million
  • Tom Crean – Indiana: $2.240 million
  • John Beilein – Michigan: $2.206 million
  • Bo Ryan – Wisconsin: $2.175 million
  • Bob Huggins – West Virginia: $2 million
  • Kevin Stallings – Vanderbilt: $1.922 million
  • John Thompson III – Georgetown: $1.894 million
  • Anthony Grant – Alabama: $1.8 million
  • Dana Altman – Oregon: $1.8 million
  • Tony Bennett – Virginia: $1.78 million
  • Scott Drew – Baylor: $1.76 million
  • Roy Williams – North Carolina: $1.71 million
  • Josh Pastner – Memphis: $1.69 million
  • Frank Haith – Missouri: $1.6 million
  • Frank Martin – Kansas State: $1.56 million
  • Jim Boeheim – Syracuse: $1.521 million
  • Leonard Hamilton – Florida State: $1.5 million
  • Gregg Marshall – Wichita State: $1.45 million
  • Mike Montgomery – California: $1.45 million
  • Jim Larranaga – Miami: $1.3 million
  • Mick Cronin – Cincinnati: $1.25 million
  • Mark Gottfried – North Carolina State: $1.2 million
  • Shaka Smart – Virginia Commonwealth: $1.19 million
  • Steve Alford – New Mexico: $1.089 million
  • Mark Few – Gonzaga: $1.056 million
  • Greg McDermott – Creighton: $1.025 million

Friday, November 9, 2012

99 Problems

The Republican Party has muchas problemas. As they often do, they will reject any notion which suggests they are somehow out of step. There is much they must change, but don't expect any change. They will not admit they have a problem.

It's hard to pretend that you care about people even though we do this all the time. The upper class teaches insincerity in its private schools through community service programs. Universities prostitute themselves by recognizing the validity of the service, accepting students with money and promoting their service. Children of Republicans (and Democrats alike) start programs to collect shoes for Peru, to build shelters in Nicaragua, to send mosquito nets to Africa, to collect cell phones for Cuba, and with these generosities, assuage any guilt they may have about their actual disdain for the poor who they routinely lambast for not working hard and their incessant laziness. These blessed students bask in the glory of their noble behavior, but balk at any suggestion that taxes should be raised; this kind of help for the poor offends Republicans. It is as if help for the poor is designed to help the rich feel good. Why money doesn't make the rich feel good I cannot understand.

It has been said that the election was about two different philosophies, then it is safe to say that the philosophy which won was the won which said forward. The GOP was unable to take the country back, figuratively or literally. Demographically, they will never be able to take it back. They will have to reach out, and they will. Whether it will be genuine or not, with the millions they have available to distort messages, they will move some. It is safe to say the GOP hopes it can move Latinos. 

In the meantime, the Democrats best friends are the hardliners. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

60 Shades of Gray: Why Obama Won and Romney Lost

It's all over for a moment. The 24 hour news cycle can take a breath for one second before continuing its relentless, hypnotic spiral. Like many news babies, I wish I could get weaned. We'll see. But for now, what happened and why? It's not black and white.

The people have spoken, but only after waiting in long lines. Question number one is this: Why were so many willing to stand in long lines?

The Republican Party misread this badly. In fact, they constantly added fuel to the fire. The most obvious misstep was Governor Romney's 47% comment, followed by his defense of it, then the obligatory walk back. However, that’s only one of a series of indignities the poorer Democratic constituency revolted against. As Bill Clinton and Nate Silver kept reminding us, math matters. You can’t just make things up. Offended, we were willing to bite our tongues and stand in line.

Extremism about women reached the tipping point. Discussions about rape are, to put it mildly, distasteful. Forcible rape, legitimate rape, redefining rape – these topics do not play well, excuse me, with reasonable, 21st century people.  If someone rapes my sister, she should be free to decide what to do – not some older man who thinks he knows what God has in mind for my victimized sister.

Then there are the comments. The GOP claims to have common sense on their side, yet they rarely respond to the last half dozen years during which they heard these statements broadcast daily: He is a Muslim, a terrorist, a Socialist, a Communist. He was palling around with terrorists and gave a terrorist fist bump. How’s that hopey-changey stuff working out for you? Where is his birth certificate? Where are his college transcripts? He used Affirmative Action to get in school. He is the Food Stamp President. He wants to give people on welfare a check. ACORN, Benghazi, Solyndra. Each time we heard these, up jumped the dander. We Obama voters want to give a big shout out to all of those who said these things. Thanks for the impetus. The yard signs also inspired us, especially the Fire Obama signs from FreedomWorks.

Last on the list of voting motivators were the pundits. FOX News pundits – not the competent news division, of course, greatly inspired the Democrat masses. Its ever-present fabrications did not go unnoticed or unrewarded.  Karl Rove – embarrassing laughingstock. Donald Trump – washed-up buffoon. Dick Morris – silly joker. Ann Coulter – gruesome witch. Michelle Malkin -- reliably bitter.  Sean Hannity – snake oil salesman. All of them, liars to their core.

Our campaign, the Romney folks told us, will not be dictated by fact checkers. This was one of the only truths they told. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sybil in the White House

Mitt Romney is like Sybil, the character with multiple personality disorder. To borrow from the deeply Christian Rick Santorum wing, either he is Sybil or he is a liar.

Conservative Evangelicals have been fond of joking, "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," and their champion, the next Imposter in Chief, could be the embodiment of the Capital Hill version of The 3 Faces of Steve. On the other hand, perhaps this is insufficient critique of Mitt Romney's latest makeover.

During the third debate, he was the man with the foolish grin, a grin so artificial he looked like he was constipated and overdosed on Visine. With this in mind, electing Governor Romney will be a tribute to the old Beatle's tune The Fool on the Hill, the eyes in his head see the world spinning round while I presume he is eating fresh grapefruit with a bib on, servants trimming his hair, Ann all in awe, 5 sons, in letter sweaters ready to toss the ol' football around.

In another moment, the Governor is the coonskin cap wearing King of the Wild Frontier, but closer to Davy Bullsh*t than Davy Crockett (and less noble than Sonny Crockett.)

Insome exchanges, he appeared as a sweaty form of Richie Rich, say Richie Shvitz, or a skinny version of Newt GingRICH.

Another incarnation is the Three Headed Hydra -- one part Richard Nixon, one part Spiro Agnew, one part Lance Armstrong.

Parents out there could imagine Mr. Romney as an even cheesier Henry the Octopus from the Wiggles.
Herbie Hancock could have played Chameleon in the background.

It seems like one should never underestimate how easily hoodwinked the American people are. Money may not be able to buy you love (sorry Kardashian generation), but it will buy one an election. If you value honesty and sincerity, you are just out of luck.

Your next President may be the greatest shapeshifter of all time.