Brexit

Brexit: “Leave” voters are stupid

BrexitBrexit will decrease the standard of living and increase the gap between rich and poor.

Okay, let’s dispense with all the “respect the decision of the people” nonsense. Brexit is stupid. It’s a stupid decision that will hurt Britain in both the short and long term.  And the people who voted for it are stupid. Not only ignorant, not only frightened, not uninformed. Stupid. Continue reading

Donald-Trump-snake-oil

Three lies that are going to cost the GOP this election

Sometimes lies don’t matter. Sometimes they do.

Donald-Trump-snake-oilIt really doesn’t matter if you think you’re a great dancer when you’re not, or that a comb-over is a good look. However, sometimes lies do matter. The Republicans are well on their way to selecting an unelectable candidate, be it Trump or Cruz, and it’s a direct result of media which has lied to them.

Not too long ago, I was engaged in a discussion with a right wing acquaintance, who cited a “fact” that was not only demonstrably false, but violated the laws of mathematics. When I called him on it, he smugly replied, “Well, you have your facts and I have mine.” And sadly, that’s true. The right wing has their own set of “facts,” and many of those simply aren’t true. Continue reading

Hillary Trump

Ten takeaways from Terrific Tuesday

Super Tuesday results: The GOP is ridiculous. The Democrats are ridiculous. And it ain’t over yet.

Hillary Trump1. What flavor of NY Moderate do you want for your next president? Hillary from the burbs, Donnie from Queens, or Mike from Manhattan?

2. Chris Christie is now officially a punk. He’s like Richard Speck in that awful clandestine video, who after having been turfed out of his gang became the sex toy of a rival gang to survive. What’s next, Chris, is The Donald going to make you wear a collar and leash like a character from Mad Max? I guess it’s not enough for Christie to be a pariah in his party and state (the lowest approval ratings in history and subject of a six newspaper editorial asking him to resign) he wants to be the subject of scorn nationally.

3. Sexism is the new racism. Hillary won white women. She lost white men. Continue reading

Donald-Trump-snake-oil

Is the GOP intentionally tanking the presidential race?

It’s The Donald vs the Establishment, and the Establishment is taking a dive.

Donald-Trump-snake-oilI’m pissed. My S&R claim to fame, such as it is, is predicting the outcomes of political contests well before those outcomes became obvious. When asked to make a prediction this year, I declined, arguing this election was so obvious it wasn’t worth the pixels. By obvious, I meant Clinton defeating Rubio.

I thought the GOP elite would select Rubio. He’s a hard core ideologue who sounds reasonable. He’s young, telegenic and Hispanic, which could mean he’ll bring new voters to the party. It’s hard to stick anything on him because he hasn’t really done anything. And best of all, he’s a tool. But it looks like the Republicans may choose Trump instead. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton

Dear Hillary: America’s just not that into you

He’s Just Not That Into You was a book and a movie, and sadly, it may prove to be the fate of Hillary Clinton.

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton is a person of phenomenal accomplishment. She’s brilliant and hard-working. She’s got a long string of firsts—first commencement speaker at her college, first partner at her law firm, etc, etc. She’s been a successful Senator and Secretary of State and a powerful and passionate advocate for the disadvantaged. She’s smashed through the glass ceiling. She’s exactly what most of us say we want in a President.

And yet….

…we just aren’t that into her. She’s like the girl (or boy) that all of us have dated at least once in our lives, the one we should love, but don’t. When we kiss there’s just no spark there. It’s mechanical, not magical.

It’s hard to say why. Maybe it’s a comparison thing. Yes, she’s fabulously accomplished, but she’s the second (or perhaps third) best talent in her own household. Continue reading

Donald Trump

Sanders and Trump have something in common

My friends from both sides of the aisle become apoplectic at comparisons between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. But they’re wrong.

atlanta march bernieNow, the similarity is not about “year of the outsider” or any of that nonsense. There have always been “outsider” candidates, from H. Ross Perot to Pat Buchanan to Barack Obama.

Nor is it about anger.

Yes, the far right is angry. They’re stewing in anger. Listen to right wing radio, or to Fox News, or look at your Facebook feed and see what your right wing friends are posting to their boards. It’s beyond anger. It’s fury. They’re angry because they feel betrayed, lied to, and left behind, well, because they have been and they are. Continue reading

CATEGORY: Guns

Mississippi gun store shootout reaffirms our faith in humanity

Okay, I’m a few days late with this one, but it’s so interesting and its implications so profound that it’s taken me some time to fully digest it.

On Saturday, a father and son entered a gun store in Mississippi to pick up a firearm they’d left for repair. When presented with a bill for $25, the two began arguing with the store owner and his son. No one is quite sure what happened next, but somehow the argument turned violent, and both sides shot at the other. The episode ended with the gun store owner and his son dead and the customer and his son in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Continue reading

Sports

God works in mysterious ways. In front of strip clubs. At 2am. The Cleanthony Early story…

Early Wednesday a.m., six masked men with guns robbed 24 year-old professional athlete Cleanthony Early as he was leaving a birthday party at a strip club in New York. One robber shot him in the knee, which presumably was intended to end his career but didn’t, as somehow the shooter missed hitting anything important.

On the face of it, it’s not a very remarkable story.

Cleanthony Early was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well, young men are stupid. When I was a young man I put myself in any number of extremely wrong places, that in hindsight could have resulted in me either getting badly hurt or incarcerated for a long time. To paraphrase a popular commercial, that’s what young men do.

And professional athletes get robbed with some regularity. Continue reading

Donald Trump

How dangerous is Donald Trump to the GOP?

Donald TrumpSam Harris has said something about how reading something never changes anyone’s mind, no matter how correct or well-reasoned the argument. He’s right about that—it’s why I’ve pretty much given up blogging—but it is possible to change your mind by writing one.

This blog started out as a gleeful rant about how Donald Trump was putting a desperate Republican Party into an untenable position. Either he’d win the nomination or lose and run as a third party candidate, which would split the party, which could lead to the Dixiecrat wing seceding and setting up their own party.

And then I did some analysis.

Bummer. The truth is the Republican Party Establishment has nothing to worry about from Trump.

He’s not going to win the nomination. Their strategy to stop him is working. Continue reading

Sports_NCAA

Sports: it’s how America deals with big social issues

SEC-football-modern-plantation-systemAhhhh sports. For whatever reason, we’ve decided that the best way to deal with our most pressing national issues isn’t directly through our elected representatives, but metaphorically, through sports.

Guns, drugs, income inequality, violence against women, gender identification, homosexual rights—you name it, our sports venues are where those issues are debated.

This week end was a big one on the metaphorical battlefront. Continue reading

twelve-syrians-drown-heading-from-turkey-to-greek-island-1441235628-2607

America, refugees and assimilation

twelve-syrians-drown-heading-from-turkey-to-greek-island-1441235628-2607Jeb Bush has proposed only admitting Christian Syrian refugees. On the face of it, it’s an obnoxious, bigoted suggestion, a clear violation of the fundamental principle of separation of church and state, and flies in the face of all this country stands for. But what if he’s right?

The problem is not so much that some of the refugees could be terrorists, although that’s certainly a possibility, e.g., the Tsarnaev brothers, as it is that they could form a potential breeding ground for future terrorists. The risk is second-generation terrorists. Continue reading

CATEGORY: WarSecurity

The human detritus of war

After the U.S. Civil War, the violence didn’t stop. Numerous gangs of bandits continued to fight on for almost thirty years after the war was officially over. The most famous of course was the James-Younger Gang, but there were also the Daltons and the Doolins, Henry Berry Lowrie and the Swamp Outlaws in North Carolina, the Baldknobbers in Arkansas and the Klan. Some of these are purely for-profit initiatives, but as often as not, they have a political bent. They are, along with the maimed, widowed and orphaned, and dislocated and impoverished, the human detritus of war.

Some wars produce more. The Hundred Years War in Europe produced so many companies of bandits that various popes proposed Crusades in an attempt to siphon them off into hopefully deadly wars, just as the French would later enlist SS into the Foreign Legion after WWII and sent them to Indochina. Others produce only a few. The Vietnam War contributed a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Gulf War Timothy McVeigh. Sometimes so many are produced that they destroy entire countries, as the Liberia Civil War ended up ravaging Sierra Leone.

Regardless of nuance, the basic formula is the same. Angry young men, trained in the art of war, who come back disaffected and often with limited prospects. So they do what they know how to do—blow shit up and kill people.

Now we’re seeing the same thing in the recent wave of terrorism. New York, Madrid, London, Mumbai, Boston, and now Paris, again. We don’t know all the details yet, but what we do know suggests military grade weapons handled with military-level expertise in a military-like operation.

It’s not really about Islam or a reaction to the devastation created by the foolish adventuring of the Bushes and Cheney. It’s much simpler than that. They’re young, impassioned, angry and deadly and there are simply too many of them.

 

Donald Trump

For Democrats, Donald Trump is a godsend

Donald Trump

Cartoon by Paul Szep

To paraphrase the Bad Bard himself, Billy Shakes, “I come to praise Trump, not to bury him.”

That is, those of us on the non-conservative side of the aisle should be enjoying Donald Trump, not fretting over him. He’s a win-win for our side, no matter what happens.

He won’t win. But as a thought experiment, let’s assume he does.

  1. Nothing much will happen (although it will not happen LOUDLY). He has no real party and no machine to get things done. Other celebrity candidates like Reagan and Schwarzenegger had spent enough time in the political boiler room to understand which valves to turn and which pipes to hit with the wrench. Trump hasn’t. He’s far more akin to Ventura or even Palin, empty candidates who get elected and then find themselves like the dog that caught the car: Now what do I do with the damn thing?

Continue reading

Sports

Deflategate: what was REALLY on Tom Brady’s cell phone?

OK, let’s get this out of the way first. Did Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cheat by having his footballs deflated? Of course he did. And nobody cares.

This is pro sports. Everybody cheats all the time. Ask old-time golfers about the grooves on Lee Trevino’s wedges back in the day. Or ask coaches about flops in soccer and basketball. Or ask linemen what happens in the trenches in the NFL. Or ask baseball players about foreign substances on baseballs or corked bats. Or ask anybody about PEDs in just about every sport imaginable, from cycling to track to baseball to archery to biathlon.

Neither athletes nor fans care. Andy Pettite shot up PEDs with Roger Clemens, admitted it, and still got his old job back with the Yankees. Barry Bonds did enough ‘roids to put himself on the pole at the Kentucky Derby and got a standing ovation when he returned to throw out the first pitch at last year’s NLCS game. Admitted cheat Mark McGwire actually teaches hitting for the Dodgers now. (Hitting tip: “OK guys, it’s really important that you tap the syringe to get the air bubbles out.”) Continue reading

sufferquest

Endurance sports – what is “epic”? The SufferQuest Diaries, vol. 2

In search of epicness—whatever that is. (And if it’s organized, it’s probably isn’t epic.)

sufferquestPart 2 in a series.

SufferQuest is in some ways a misnomer. What endurance athletes are really chasing is epicness.

But what, pray tell, is epicness?

Hmmmm. That’s a tough one. It’s easy enough to list some of my epic experiences.

  • Hitchhiking across the States solo when I was seventeen.
  • Visiting a village in West Africa that was so remote the villagers had to ferry our motorcycles across a huge wetland in canoes was epic.
  • As were many of the times in Louisiana where I worked pipeline construction to earn money for college… Continue reading
sufferquest

Marathons, triathlons, centuries – Sufferquest Diaries Volume 1: Why get off the couch unless you need to pee?

Part 1 in a series.

Each year, over a half million people run marathons and another half million do triathlons of various lengths. Hundreds of thousands more run mini-marathons or bike centuries (100 miles in a day.) We’re not talking about the neighborhood July 4th 5K or cycling down the trail at the park, we’re talking about events that take from two to seventeen hours to complete, where the risk of injury is significant, and that require hundreds of hours of preparation.

And the question, of course, is “why?”

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me confess that I’m one of those people. Continue reading

Entertainment

Geeks, freaks and cable TV

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. 

We humans are what we are, even if some parts of our nature aren’t always what we wish they were—our attitudes toward race, sex, and sexual orientation, our propensity for violence, our gawping at car wrecks, and our desire to stare at, and in some cases mock, those who are different.

A hundred years ago human oddities were collected in traveling freak shows. Monkey-boys, half-man/half-woman, fat ladies, dwarves, the tattooed and pierced, fire-eaters, sword swallowers, and people who bit the heads off live animals. Some became famous, like the dwarf Tom Thumb, who was billed as an adult when still a child and started drinking and smoking cigars at seven to support the illusion, or John Merrick, the Elephant Man, a beautiful man trapped in a horribly deformed body, and Grady Stiles, a horribly nasty man trapped in a horribly nasty body. Continue reading

Boston Marathon

Personal record: a participant’s view of the Boston Marathon

Boston MarathonHow was Boston?

Not what I expected.

I  didn’t expect the intensity. The marathon is on the front of every newspaper, all over television, on banners on the street, and literally a hundred thousand people—runners, their entourages, and volunteers, all wear Boston gear. Everyone, from cabbies to hotel clerks to passersby’s, asks if you’re running. It’s as if the entire world has collapsed inward like a blue-white dwarf, and everything that matters is within a one mile space stretching from Boston Common down Boylston Street to the Finish Line. Continue reading