Monday, December 31, 2012

It's official...

It's official. John R. Bolton, the former Ambassador to the UN under Dubya and current favorite go-to cranky guy on Bullshit Mountain News, is a dickhead for saying that Hilary Clinton's illness is a "diplomatic illness."

Clearly, he's a dickhead for many other reasons than this, but this one takes the dickhead cake.

Way to stay classy, John. And there are others on Bullshit Mountain who are just as classy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA finally speaks about Sandy Hook and I agree with some of it...

Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, has finally gone on the record in what was billed as a news conference. Although the word "conference" suggests a two-way dialog, an exchange of ideas, Mr. LaPierre said his piece and would not take questions. 

Principle among the NRA's suggestions is that the US Government do whatever it takes to place armed guards inside schools around the country. The NRA's name for this program is School Shield. I'm left to wonder if they'll also be promoting a Shopping Mall Shield, a Movie Theater Shield, a Church Shield, an Abortion Clinic Shield, and a General Workplace Shield, but time will tell, because the larger picture is not just about schools.

Maybe it's just me, but it does seem nothing less than odd that an organization dedicated to the argument that US citizens must arm and defend themselves against their big and scary government is asking that same big and scary government to act bigger and scarier.

That the NRA is nothing more than a lobbying organization is obvious, and I'm not a fan of them, but I do believe in the right to bear arms; I just don't need an advocacy group to enable me, to justify my belief.

I do agree, though, that voluntarily armed teachers in schools could help be a deterent to evil people intent on doing evil things. Criminals don't obey laws; this is why they're criminals. An insane thug intent on insane thuggery will see a sign that reads "Gun Free Zone" and interpret it as "Target-Rich Zone." Anyone who thinks otherwise is being naive.

Moreover, though, I think the forces set against this happening --- i.e., the parents, other teachers, administrators, legislatures, both state and federal, and others --- will try prevent it from even being tried. Mr. LaPierre said that the best way to counteract a bad person with a gun is with a good person with a gun, and I do agree with this... in principle. We just need to be sure the implementation is appropriate, that everyone is on the same page with it, and that the ways it can backfire are considered clearly before trying it.  

It's a radical idea, but banning weapons has proven completely useless in the past, so why do it again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I don’t know, maybe it’s just us…


Some of our idioms might say a great deal more about us than we know…
  • Shoot yourself in the foot
  • You’re firing blanks
  • Shoot the works
  • Shoot for the moon
  • Shoot too high or too low
  • Shot down in flames
  • Shoot the cat
  • Shoot cookies
  • Shoot the messenger
  • Shoot hoops
  • A turkey shoot
  • A shot in the dark
  • Shoot from the hip
  • Shoot down an idea
  • Shoot the front door
  • Shoot fish in a barrel
  • Shooting sitting ducks
  • Shoot the bull
  • Sure as shooting
  • The whole shooting match
  • Shoot first, ask questions later, and
  • Shoot the breeze
Or maybe I’m just shooting my mouth off.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What you did makes you an asshole and nothing more...

This will possibly offend some and piss off others, but I don’t care.

My heart hurts.

As I’m certain far too many of us are, today, I’m sick and tired and heartbroken and pissed about another in a far too long line of seemingly endless episodes that find apparently suicidal numbskulls wanting innocent bystanders and strangers to share in their own callous and craven and cowardly self-inflicted
ends. 


Row and I lost two dear and long-time friends to suicide and a third to a selfish and unintended act based on self-destructive behavior, as we later discovered. We loved them very much and miss them even more. 

We spoke with them on the phone or in person a couple of days before they saw to their own ends. In those conversations, nothing was said about their struggles. Nothing was said about their pain. And speaking for myself and much to my eternal regret and my everlasting sense of shame and guilt, I wasn’t even remotely aware of what they might have been going through in what would prove to be the last moments I’d ever spend with them. We loved them very much and miss them even more.

This said, if anyone out there is struggling, in pain, and possibly contemplating completing suicide, please… please… PLEASE… talk to someone or ask someone to talk to you. PLEASE get help. PLEASE search for a solution, because you just might be able to find one. 

But… if you insist, instead, on taking your life as a permanent solution to what is probably a temporary problem --- and make no mistake, this is exactly what suicide is --- if you insist on depriving your family and friends of your love, of your light, of your life and their life with you, then… just… fucking… DO it. Take your life. 

But don’t you dare even contemplate taking the lives of innocents who never did you any harm, because all that does is end their lives, ruin the lives of those who loved them, make too many even sadder than you might have felt you were, and permanently, eternally, brand you as a coward and an asshole.

My heart hurts.

Friday, November 30, 2012

So Alex is your new pal, now, eh?

Hey NFL writers and all other NFL-related pundits, where were you all when the Forty-Niners' Alex Smith was everyone's --- and I mean everyone's --- punching bag, whipping boy, and poor step-child? 

Where were you? 

Oh yeah. Now I remember. 

You were punching him, whipping him, and... um... poor... step... childing... him? OK, OK, this last one doesn't work at all, but you all know who you are and how you treated Alex Smith. 

But now... what? Alex is your best buddy? He's suddenly your favorite quarterback?  He's no longer merely a "game manager" (your words, not mine)?

C'mon. Bullshit

This just proves the craven, parasitic nature of the media. You ride waves like literary surfers. From crest to crest, always looking for the longest ride. And you'll spin and pivot on a whim to follow a new wave, a new story.

Look, anyone with a heart feels badly for Alex, duh, but since when did heart have a thing to do with the NFL, or with any pro sport for that matter? As you writers love to remind us all, it's a business, and like it or not, teams make business decisions, like this one. So now it's not a business? Now it's an altruistic benevolent society whose sensibilities are being assaulted by Jim Harbaugh as Ebenezer Scrooge, as the Grinch? Anyone who didn't see the front-office hand reaching out to Payton Manning as a front-office hand pushing Alex away was just blind.

Alex Smith has never really been Jim Harbaugh's guy, but he is a solid player, is only 28 years old, and will find a new team, because goodness knows there are lots of teams who need a good quarterback. 

The Niners' problem isn't a QB controversy, it's a QB surplus, and if anyone thinks that Jim Harbaugh's having A) hand-picked Colin Kaepernick, B) jiggered their draft spots to get him, and C) propped up Alex's flagging confidence until Colin was ready, didn't contribute to ringing the death-knell of Alex's 49er tenure, you just weren't paying listening. 

Colin may go bust at some point, but for now, he outplays Alex and inarguably gives the Niners far greater offensive play-calling flexibility, down-field reach, and long-term potential. I've been watching the Niners for decades. This 2012-2013 edition is an excellent team, but it lacks a strong down-the-field dimension with Alex in there.

Stop trying to appear honorable, sports pundits. Stop trying to appear reasonable, sports writers. It's far too transparent. Go back to being the shallow jerks we're used to you being. 

Oh... you were doing this already? Never mind.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The tax pledge is forever...

ABC News reported yesterday that Grover Norquist believes the tax pledge, which many in congress have signed, is forever, so I was moved to do this.

Pledges Are Forever**
(sung to the tune of “Diamonds Are Forever”) 

Pledges are forever,
They are all I need to please me,
Even congress cannot leave me,
Though they scream from the right, I’ve no fear that they might desert me.

Pledges are forever,
Can’t raise tax for any reason,
Try and I’ll be screaming treason,
They can’t do anything, they can’t suddenly bring an increase…
Bridge
I need this pledge,
What else would I be doing,
If I didn't use this wedge,
They’d spend and spend…. then spend again.
Pledges are forever,
Got you round my little finger,
This means you will have to linger,
And be powerless to avoid or undo what you’ve signed.
Back to bridge
Pledges are forever, forever, forever…
Pledges are forever, forever, forever… forever… and ever.

**With apologies to John Barry, the songwriter of "Diamonds Are Forever."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Liz and Dick movie... no, really...

Before I begin with what will possibly be perceived as a frivolous and thoroughly shallow attempt at humor at someone else's expense, please know that I know this will probably be perceived as a frivolous and thoroughly shallow attempt at humor at someone else's expense. Further, I know there are only more important things going on in the world, but I'd like to think that sometimes laying off the serious things isn't a bad thing. 

OK. 

I haven't seen the new "Liz and Dick" film and I probably won't. What I have seen are A)  several clips of the "lowlights," and B) at least a dozen headlines suggesting that Lindsay Lohan's acting is not very good... lacking believability... underwhelming... unworthy of the character she's playing... etc, etc. 

As a result of my extensive empirical research.. cough, cough... and this clearly bridled enthusiasm, I'm left to wonder a couple of things. 

But first we must agree that Elizabeth Taylor is an icon, one of the preeminent actresses of the 20th Century, a legend that other legends wish they were. We should also agree that while some of her work might have been a wee bit over the top ("Cleopatra" and "...Virginia Woolf" come to mind), she otherwise almost always seemed to be pitch perfect. In short, the woman could act.

Now, compare this to Ms. Lohan's work, and one really has to work hard --- very... very... VERY hard --- to see any parallels, to see the logic in casting Ms. Lohan as Dame Elizabeth Taylor. 

What the hell do I know about acting? I couldn't convince Sister Humiliana that I didn't write my dad's name on my lousy sixth-grade report card (maybe this just meant I was a bad liar or a worse forger). But I do know enough to know this casting move was a bad idea well before it had enough to it to even qualify as the germ of a seed of a bad idea. Who's idea was this? Who agreed with it? Was someone paid money to cast her in this role

How bad an idea was this?

Like someone needing a 50-foot-long hedge pruned, paying the 10-year-old kid who mows the lawn to do it, then being shocked when the hedge looks like the kid used his lawn mower on it. 

Like someone needing a heart transplant, asking a school nurse to perform the surgery, and then being disappointed when the patient dies on the table.** 

Like asking The Three Stooges to do... well... anything.

No wait. 

It's exactly like someone wanting to make a film about a person who could act well, asking a person who can't act well to play the role, and then everyone wondering what went wrong when it does go wrong. 

Who would even say the name "Elizabeth Taylor" and then, without an apparent trace of irony, allow it to collide in the same sentence with the words "Lindsay" and "Lohan?" What's even more remarkable is that some have suggested Ms. Lohan is saddened by the rotten reviews. I feel badly for her, but what did she expect to happen? Didn't she know in advance that she would be as out of her depth as a cap-pistol at a gunfight? As a Kleenex in a wind tunnel? 

How far away did objectivity actually have to travel on its holiday from reality?

Look, I think Ms. Lohan is worthy of some sympathy. She's had lousy things happen to her (albeit, many of which were her own doing), and according to her and press reports about her, her father has been less a dad and more a deadbeat dickhead, with her mom not being a whole lot better. I do feel badly for Ms. Lohan, I do, but playing Elizabeth Taylor? Nope.

How can anyone be sincerely surprised at what resulted from this truly terrible idea?

Yes, I feel better now, thanks.

P.S. Could this be another example of The Peter Principle? In the fluffy roles in which she's been cast, she's been fluffy fine. But playing Liz was maybe beyond her abilities. Yes, stretching can be good, but this stretch is beyond even Reed Richards' abilities.

P.P.S. And now, we have this post-film incident, per The Daily Beast. "She's had lousy things happen to her (albeit, many of which were her own doing)..."

**I say this with all deference to school nurses everywhere; some of my best friends have served as school nurses, but you hopefully see the point. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Learn to be happy wherever you are...

I like that. Let me say it again: learn to be happy wherever you are. 

Back in 1968 the book "The Peter Principle" was published. Its authors, Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, suggested that oftentimes people are... 
  1. Promoted to a next-highest position (or a higher position) based on their competent performance in the position they currently hold, but 
  2. Once in the higher position, they are unable to perform competently, so 
  3. They have reached their greatest level of incompetence in the higher position, and
  4. "Real work" is done by those who have not yet reached their greatest level of incompetence. 
Others have contributed to Dr. Peter's development of his "principle," and his work owes much to them, but it all leads to the same fundamental conclusions: 
  • Upon reaching a certain position, formerly competent people will oftentimes have reached their greatest level of incompetence, and 
  • Almost every position is eventually held by someone who is incompetent to fill it, but who might have been entirely competent at their previously held position, so
  • To prevent this, maybe competent employees should be rewarded in ways that don't include promotion, but that instead involve other reward mechanisms that can assure their satisfaction at their current, positions of competence.
Among other examples of The Peter Principle, Dr. Peter and Mr. Hull put forward the case of Adolph Hitler. Although he was a completely capable and competent politician who was able to inspire and unite people under his political banner, he was thoroughly incompetent (read "bat-shit crazy") as a commander-in-chief of the German military. He might have been happier had he remained simply a politician, and it's almost certain the rest of the world would have been happier as well. 

But I'd like to suggest another commonly occurring, albeit far more mundane, case of The Peter Principle in practice today: football-related promotions among players, coaches, and coordinators. 

How often do we see a quarterback or a running back who has a thrilling career in college enter the NFL draft, go to a team, and crash and burn as a pro. Even today we see college coaches, who are winning with their respective teams, aspiring, either privately or publicly, to "take it to the next level" and coach a pro team. We even see this in non-player, non-coaching positions, such as offensive and defensive coordinators who are exceptionally qualified (beyond merely competent) as coordinators, but who fail miserably as head coaches. 

These promotions can occur from college-level to college-level, from college-level to pro-level, and from pro-level to pro-level. The similarity among them all is in the quality of the work currently being done, the desire to be promoted, and the resulting (and relative level of) success in the promoted position. And this speaks to the larger point: if only people could be happy wherever they're currently doing well, how much better off would they be? how much better off would their families be? how much better off would their teams be, and how much better off would the organizations that hire them be? 

One such example is Norv Turner, coach of the San Diego Chargers. Prior to being San Diego's head coach, Mr. Turner was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He excelled at this. San Diego saw Norv's work with the Niners offense, which did very well during the year he was OC, and hired him away from the Niners, promoted him to head coach, and put him into a position that certainly seems to represent his greatest level of incompetence. The Niners' problem at the time was that Norv's boss, Mike Nolan, had reached his greatest level of incompetence as a head coach. Mr. Nolan is now a defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, who are doing very, very well, possibly in part to Mr. Nolan's competence.

Another potential example is the coach of the Oregon Ducks, Chip Kelly. Kelly was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach and, with him at the helm, The Ducks are doing amazing things. They've scored hundreds of points every year (and it's a good thing too,  because their defenses have been terrible), amazed everyone, and have won their conference title three of the last four years, winning the conference division title in that fourth year. Kelly is doing an excellent job. He's obviously perfectly situated and entirely competent as Oregon's head coach. 

But would he succeed at the pro level? Is he happy where he is? Would he find happiness in the NFL? Obviously no one will know that unless and until such a promotion actually happens for him. Time will tell.

I'm sure the NFL is replete with other examples of The Peter Principle. I'm sure other sports, baseball, basketball, have examples as well.  But I'm even more sure that this is all easy to say, easy to suggest, easy to speculate. I'm pretty sure most everyone wants to excel and to succeed, to make more money than they're currently making, to make better lives for themselves and for their families. I'm definitely na├»ve, but I'm definitely not stupid.

However, in thinking about this, in saying it out loud here, I'm almost certainly projecting. Maybe it's because I've reached a point in my life where I've done the "big things" that I'm going to do, and I know (or fear, frankly) that trying to move to a next level in whatever area with which I have experience, have competence, brings with it the possibility of reaching my greatest level of incompetence, brings me closer to the possibility of failure. 

This all may be true, but what's definitely true is that right now in my life, given what I've done, and given how I've done it, I'm sanguine, I'm happy where I am, and... I'm competent.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Freedom of versus freedom from...

The POTUS gave his annual Thanksgiving address --- a non-religious national holiday, let's remember --- and for the fourth year the likes of Daily Caller, FOX News, and Breitbart.com felt it their duty to point out that President Obama did not mention God in the Thanksgiving address. 

Yawn. Here you go again. When will you stop dragging out this tired argument?

First, President Barack Hussein Obama is a Christian (Congregationalist) but doesn't wear this on his sleeve as has become the fashion. (But even it he weren't a Christian whose business is this?) I know you've all tried to convince your viewers and readers he's anything-but-Christian; just give up trying to portray him as "other." It hasn't worked heretofore, and it won't start working just because you try it again now. Remember, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting... aaah... what's the use. (Even Pat Robertson heard the Word wrong this year.)

Second, if the president were to mention "God," would this be assumed to be just the Christian God or a catch-all title encompassing the deities of all the religions practiced in the USA? I have a hunch the religious right is not a multi-theist subculture, so another can of worms would probably be opened and served up by you.

Third, he's consistent, as usual. I would argue that were he to mention God now, he would be lambasted by you all for flip-flopping, for pandering, and the "guy just can't win with you all" rule would again apply.

And finally, are we not a constitutional democratic republic with a proper constitution, in which the word "God" does not appear... anywhere? 

I'll say that again: the word "God" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution, anywhere. What does appear in the constitution is Article Six, the last sentence of which says, "...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." 

Oops.

But the right's insistence on ignoring this and instead imposing its own weird religious-purity test on anyone it disagrees with/doesn't like/hates/wants to demonize (QED, "Barack Hussein Obama") is to do exactly that which the right keeps claiming this administration is doing to it: taking away freedoms and liberties

In the U.S.A., under our constitution, we have freedoms and liberties, including the freedom of religion and the liberty to practice it. Anyone can practice their religion in the U.S.A. no matter who they are or what their religion is: from Adventist to Zoroastrian. But we also have freedom from religion and the liberty to practice this, which means if someone chooses not to embrace a religion, no matter who they are, they are free to not do this.

So religious right folks, Daily Caller, FOX News, Breitbart.com, et al., stop trying to portray the POTUS as Godless, and just settle down, take a collective deep breath, and understand and accept the difference between the two prepositions "of" and "from." 

For folks who loudly proclaim to aspire to the teachings of Jesus, you sure do spend a lot of time moving away from their intended spirit of kindness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's not just about the guns...

The owner of the Arizona gun store who publicly posted that Obama voters can go ahead and shop elsewhere is within his rights as a private business owner to sell to whom he wishes to sell and to publicly announce this. Places of business do this all the time. 

Restaurants routinely require patrons to dress appropriately: "No shoes, no shirt, no service" is a sign we've all seen. If a testy customer gets too cranky about a returned purchase or some perceived slight at a Target store, he or she can be asked to leave, and any Target store manager can rightfully do this. 

But the underlying issue that the gun store owner is trying to address is the perception that the Obama administration --- which did nothing during its first term to affect the 2nd amendment rights of anyone and in fact increased those rights by allowing gun owners to take their guns into national parks and onto trains --- will probably do something in its second term to affect the 2nd Amendment rights of everyone

But the fact of the matter was that by the time Mr. Obama won in November 2008, the scare was already rampant and rippling right through the gun-owning world, manifesting itself in an ammunition shortage as people were convinced their "cold dead fingers" were about to be pried open by an over-active justice department coming after their guns. 

But nothing even remotely like this occurred. 

What did occur was that for months before and after that election, some calibers of ammunition were in short supply or were simply not available at all simply because people were hoarding ammo. Ammunition manufacturers had to ramp up to meet the demand. Not even home loaders could find empty brass and lead for their hobby. After it became apparent that President Obama wasn't knocking down doors to get the guns, but was, in fact, propping up gun-owners' liberties, much of that hoarded ammo found its way back to the market in the forms of weekly classified ads and gun shows, at least this was the case in New Mexico, where not a week would go by that one wouldn't see ads for hundreds if not thousands of rounds for sale... cheap.

The point is that there is a human tendency to see fire where there isn't even smoke, and the gun world certainly sees fire when they see the name of President Barack Hussein Obama. As we enter his second term, some are talking of another shortage, and folks like the Arizona gun store owner are again seeing fire without even smelling smoke. 

But I would argue this whole business is a canard, coming out of a fantasy, based on a hoax, resulting from a conspiracy, because people are using a ready-fire-aim approach, reacting without stopping to think first. This issue is not just about the guns. 

What this is about is everything else having to do with guns. 

All you have to do is look at just one catalog from any of the many big shooting-supply firms, such as Midway, Midsouth, Natchez, Gamaliel, or  Cheaper Than Dirt, to name just a few, and you'll quickly see why. These catalogs are full to overflowing with all manner of accessories, custom parts, ammunition, and anything and everything having to do with hand-guns, rifles, and shotguns for sport shooters, law enforcement, and the military. It's incredible. The after-market accessories market is enormous. It's gigantic. It's... ginormous

Ignore for the moment the actual gun manufacturers themselves and concentrate instead on the companies that manufacture the myriad after-market items. These companies alone employ tens of thousands of people in the USA. According to a 2010 report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, this industry represents among the highest concentrations of employed American citizens taking into account all the manufacturing industries currently operating in the USA, employing close to 200,000 people and generating over $30 Billion in industry revenue and taxes paid. Although some of this industry's manufacturing output is certainly generated in other countries, what these numbers represent is that which uniquely takes place here in the USA, as the "Made in America" which is repeated on page after page after catalog page can attest

Any sentient politician (and yes, I do see the oxymoronic nature of this) who yearns for re-election would be insane, therefore, to affect any American employment at a time of such high American unemployment, yes even a Democratic president who does not face re-election, because doing so could affect a subsequent election. This might seem cynical, but it's the reality. 

This just is not going to happen. 

The macro-economics of the entire weapons industry play far too great a role and extend far too deeply into the local micro-economies in which these manufacturers operate. But many would rather demonize and obfuscate rather than see this reality. 

The gun industry is safe. Gun owners can calm down. The Arizona gun store owner can take down his sign, because if he thinks Obama voters are too stupid to own guns, then he might be too stupid to sell them if he believes any of what he fears will happen, will ever happen.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Benghazi is a tragedy, but...

Along with the rest of the country, I've been listening to and watching this story unfold. The right immediately pounced on it trying to use it as leverage to put the Obama campaign off its stride, well before anything was known about it. The right-wing media, a.k.a. Bullshit Mountain News, a.k.a. FOX News, jumped on this story like a pig jumps on a pile of corn cobs, cynically using parents of dead servicemen to its own ends, to its own craven advantage. 

I do feel badly for their loss. I watched my in-laws lose their two sons. Parents should not have to attend the funerals of their children, but these military sons knew the risks they took in the work they chose and obviously accepted them. We have to honor their service, but not by reflexively and blindly jerking knees to get at answers.

The right's opportunistic pounce was prompted by Mitt Romney's pre-emptive strike mere minutes after the attacks happened and an hour or so before the administration responded to them. Mr. Romney was speaking without regard to facts --- after all, who could know facts so soon --- but this tendency for ready-fire-aim and proven disregard for facts continued unabated. Then, after the outcome of the election was clear --- that the president was re-elected and that the right received a sound thrashing --- the collective and pent-up spite and mean-spiritedness, whose poster-boy is Sen. John McCain, surfaced in earnest. 

Now, it has escalated into speculative reports about possible impeachment hearings, calls for Watergate-style panels, and cries for vengeance

Yes. We lost four Americans in Benghazi. 

Yes. They were outnumbered and outgunned.

Yes. The consulate could have been better protected. (But let's not forget that an asked-for appropriation to bolster foreign/embassy/consulate security was voted down by a Republican-controlled congress.)

And Yes. The intelligence (an ironic use of the word by any measure) was probably not the best it could be. 

But didn't we lose thousands of American lives in Iraq based on faulty, if not entirely false, intel and "mushroom-cloud" rhetoric? 

Where were the voices on the right then? 

Didn't that same intel and rhetoric subsequently lead to tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths as well, indirectly and directly? 

Who at FOX News was asking "Why"? 

Didn't we at that time have these same senators, McCain and Graham, among others, defending Condaleeza Rice, purveyor of the mushroom-cloud-laden imagery? 

Who besides the "liberal media" took issue with her claim?

Look, two wrongs add up to two wrongs, and nothing more. But rather than bypass common sense and logic and instead run straight to speculation and irrationality and conspiracy and cover-up, isn't it also possible that this was simply a tragic accident, a clusterf%#k, an unfortunate incident that is now being used for political gain by many, but also by a man who is sad to have lost his friend, Ambassador Stevens, but who is also petty enough to still be sore at the man who beat him so soundly in the 2008 election and now sees a chance to attack the president once again? (And let's not overestimate Sen. McCain's sincerity: he missed an informational Senate meeting even as he was complaining to the press about a gross lack of information. The man has never met a microphone or a camera into which he refused to speak.)

Isn't it possible that these four Americans died because in foreign service, Americans will occasionally die? How many embassies and consulates were attacked and how many Americans were killed under previous administrations?  

Isn't it just as possible that this story is now being used as a rallying cry by those on the far right who are not happy the election went the way it did? 

Isn't a political agenda in all this at least possible?

Yes, it could be argued that political motivation has led to some people being less than forthcoming in the reporting of this story, but Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham, and their echo-chamber, need to take a few steps back and a few deep breaths, and they need to get some perspective. Even four years after we invaded Iraq, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said "all the facts were not yet in" on whether the WMD claims were true or false.

In this most recent episode, we similarly don't yet know who is at fault, if any one person is. But it's clear from even a cursory examination of the record that Ambassador Susan Rice is not at fault here. She's the Ambassador to the UN and has nothing to do with embassy security! She was asked to speak on this first, she did so based on the intel everyone --- including Senators McCain and Graham --- had at the time, and she did so essentially verbatim. Senator McCain gave Condi a pass, so why not Susan?

Cool heads on the right need to prevail here. The Republican Party is already down as a result of the 2012 election, and taking to its most illogical extreme this perceived opportunity to try to damage President Obama will do nothing but further damage the Republican's credibility as a viable political party

Let's get to the bottom of this, please, but let's do it methodically and patiently, within the parameters of congress's already established, and not inconsiderable, oversight powers.

Update 11/17: As of this writing, Mr. Patreaus has testified and the result of his testimony seems to have caused Senator McCain to tone down his sharp comments... a little. But I don't think this issue will be dropped anytime soon. The right is angry and seems to want President Obama to be to blame, regardless of the facts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fairwell to arms: one possible explanation...

File the following bit of conjecture under the category of Wild Ass Guesses. 

What about this as a possible explanation for what all this generals-having-affairs kerfuffle is really about... 

A gung-ho, perhaps marginally anti-Obama, FBI agent was approached by a friend who received what she perceived to be threatening emails, and the gung-ho agent, in an attempt to drag the current administration into a potentially embarrassing scandal weeks before the election, opened up a can of worms to a Republican member of congress, but the attempt backfired when...
  1. it was discovered that the person sending the threatening emails was having an affair with the head of the CIA and... 
  2. the person who reported the threatening emails, was, herself, exchanging "inappropriate" emails with another high-profile general. 
What if this whole thing coming to light was a function of... 
  1. a botched attempt to score political points by someone who didn't understand chain-of-command-and-disclosure policies and requirements and...
  2. someone else not realizing that her other personal emails would be fair game in an official investigation that she caused to happen based on... emails sent to her?
What if, indeed. 

This is my theory and is complete speculation on my part.

Update 11/16: As of this writing, it would appear the FBI agent involved did not have a political axe to grind, so down in flames goes my theory. I just hope the affected relationships and families can recover from this and that the investigations can help get this behind us all so we can address what actually matters.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's arithmetic...


332 + 206 = FiveThirtyEight

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Accept that our democracy works and works well!

To all those who decry Obama's first term as a loss of our country, a loss of our liberty, a loss of our freedom, and a loss of our constitutional values, think about this: our democracy works just fine and his re-election proves it. 

Not only did we elect the first African-American president, but now we've re-elected the first African-American president. Maine, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin also showed us something in their elections.

I am not saying someone should vote for a candidate just because of race, or gender, or sexual preference. I am saying that we demonstrate our democracy works when we can ignore race, gender, sexual preference, anything other than the qualities of the person running. 

These are the first steps.

If to you this isn't a pure example of a great moment for our country in the eyes of the entire world and history, if to you this isn't an excellent example of liberty and freedom in action, and if to you this isn't a fine example of our constitutional right to vote and to hold a free and fair election, then you aren't being honest or you don't understand what these things really mean.

And if you're still resistant, still locked in a pissed-off position, please allow me to suggest that you take the example of Mr. Romney who, in his concession speech, took the highest, most positive road he's taken in this campaign and behaved like a real gentlemen, a gentleman who might have had a chance if he hadn't allowed his handlers to turn him into someone he isn't. In some ways I think we saw the real man tonight, the real Mitt Romney, and President Obama might have to count himself lucky that this man did not show up for this campaign before tonight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Big FU to Jon Husted and Rick Scott...

After all the shenanigans that Ohio's Jon Husted and Florida's Rick Scott have pulled in order to try to slow down or prevent early voting as a way to improve their side's chances in this election, wouldn't it just be great if President Obama won without either state factoring in? 

It would be like a large "F%#K YOU!" to both of them.

P.S. Post-election... I got half of my wish. FL had zero effect on the outcome; take that Rick!