Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's Been Raining In Columbia Since October

Yeah, we've had a few days of sunshine here and there, but it really feels like we're in Forrest Gump's Vietnam.

I'm ready for the sun to come out. I just don't want Charlie to start shooting, though. Just some sun would be nice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Some Iowa Delegates Awarded to Clinton By Coin Flip

No, I'm not using a metaphor of a coin flip to express how close the race between Clinton and Sanders was last night, I'm saying that Iowa delegates were literally awarded by coin flip.

Here’s what happened in Ames, according to David Schweingruber, an associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University (and Sanders supporter) who participated in the caucus:
A total of 484 eligible caucus attendees were initially recorded at the site. But when each candidate’s preference group was counted, Clinton had 240 supporters, Sanders had 179 and Martin O’Malley had five (causing him to be declared non-viable).
Those figures add up to just 424 participants, leaving 60 apparently missing. When those numbers were plugged into the formula that determines delegate allocations, Clinton received four delegates and Sanders received three — leaving one delegate unassigned.
Unable to account for that numerical discrepancy and the orphan delegate it produced, the Sanders campaign challenged the results and precinct leaders called a Democratic Party hot line set up to advise on such situations.
Party officials recommended they settle the dispute with a coin toss.
A Clinton supporter correctly called “heads” on a quarter flipped in the air, and Clinton received a fifth delegate.

Great. The fate of the republic is being decided by coin tosses. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Greetings from Iowa! Home of the Confusing Voting System!

Well, tonight is the first night when votes are actually cast and counted. It feels like we've been leading up to this point for years now because...well...we have.

My political instincts are next to nothing, but with how complicated and tedious the caucus seems, I think that Trump's lack of organization is going to hurt him. I mean, what's the deal with all this standing up and publicly declaring for your candidate in a big gym, and then trying to convince other people to side with you?

If we've learned anything over the last several political cycles, people aren't big on changing their minds. Why can't the people of Iowa just do the regular voting thing? It's good enough for the rest of us.

In any event, for whatever it's worth, I'm going to predict that the methodical operation of Cruz actually works more than the flash of Trump, and Cruz wins the GOP side.

And just for fun, I'll predict that Sanders beats Hillary by two points.

What do you think?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Caves on Concealed Weapons Reciprocity

Anti-gun folks missed the football again. Oh well. Better luck next time, Charlie Brown.

Just before Christmas, the Virginia Attorney General announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia would be cancelling it's concealed carry reciprocity with 25 states, including South Carolina.

As you might have imagined, this caught the attention of  more than a few folks. Even though it was originally thought to mostly affect non-Virginians, the cancellation of reciprocity would have actually affected Virginians the most, as most (if not all) of the 25 other states would have responded by cancelling their own agreement to allow Virginians to carry outside the Commonwealth.

So today, the uber-liberal Governor, Terry McAulliffe caved to the reality of the pressure and did the only thing that he could do - he overruled the Attorney General and agreed to legislation that requires Virginia to recognize reciprocity from these 25 states.

The anti-gun folks got the sadz.

But the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence reacted bitterly in a message on its Facebook page. The group said McAuliffe has bragged about “his administration’s aggressive new approach to confronting the National Rifle Association.” “Now he’s preparing to cave to them,” the message said. “As far as we are aware, there is not a single gun violence prevention advocate in Virginia who was informed about this deal before it was done. We all stand in opposition to it.”

Oh well. You would think by now that the anti-gun people would be used to losing on these types of issues. They're like Charlie Brown and the football. They keep lining up to kick it, and every time, Lucy pulls it back.

When are they going to learn?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger - Thirty Years Ago Today

Thirty years ago today, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart just over a minute after launch. One of my earliest school-age memories is of watching the launch and explosion of the Challenger.

I don't remember that President Reagan was scheduled to give the State of the Union that night, and postponed it to give this address.

The poem referenced at the end is High Flight:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"There is a growing list of People I Like Making Terrible and Disappointing Decisions"

That's from Jeff Mobley, and it's because he had to add Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster to his list of people making terrible and disappointing decisions, namely the decision to endorse Donald Trump for President.

I saw this news break about the same time Jeff did, and I was (and remain) absolutely baffled by McMaster's decision.

Think about who Henry McMaster is for a second. He's the current (Republican) Lt. Governor. Before that, for eight years, he was the (Republican) Attorney General for SC before that. Before that, for eight years, he was the Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Point being, if you looked up "Establishment South Carolina Republican" in the dictionary, you'd see a picture of Henry McMaster.

And now, he's endorsing Trump, who is a complete clownshow of a candidate, a charlatan, a person who has taken every position on every issue at some point in time, and has somehow fooled a bunch of fools into voting for him because they want to just watch the world burn.

Trump is basically saying that he is going to roll in to Washington, hire all the right folks, fire all the wrong folks, and make all the trains run on time again. He doesn't talk policy, or history, or law. He doesn't talk about working with Congress. He's just the guy who's going to come in and somehow magically make everything work through the sheer force of his will or because he's so smart.

Trump is the opposite of what conservatives support. He's the opposite of limited government that has checks, balances, and is responsible to the people. Do you think Trump is going to stop the expansion of government into your life more and more? No, he's specifically selling himself as the guy who's going to use government better than everyone else.

I mean, it didn't shock me at all when Jake Knotts endorsed Trump. I just kind of figured that's one blowhard endorsing another blowhard. That makes sense, right?

And now Henry McMaster has thrown in with this lot. It's unreal. It's surreal. And, yes Jeff, it's disappointing.

Midweek Motivation

It's Wednesday. Don't quit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

We're Americans, Damn It

From Ace:

"The GOP is nakedly now a "clientist" party the same as the Democrat Party. They just have different clients.

And those clients aren't us. 

Some things the GOP does I don't mind, per se, but I object to the GOP making them a priority, while they give us Fake Votes and Failure Theater on our priorities. I'm sure the right to export oil crude is useful. I just don't think it's worth selling out every other agenda item to get. 

A long time ago, the Washington Post described conservative voters as "poor, uneducated, and easily led." 

I am beginning to fear they were right. If we once again snap our salutes and act like the hierarchy-loving drones the Washington Post had us pegged as -- if we once again give in to the Boehner-McConnell Axis of K Street -- then what the hell are we, except "uneducated and easily led?" 

We are Americans, damn it. We are supposed to be unruly. We are supposed to be rebellious.

God did not make us to stand patiently in queues and politely clap for our leaders no matter how distant, corrupt, and dismissive. 

That's why he made Canadians. 

It is time to actually revolt. Not just talk about it -- actually do it. Actually let them know that we do have our limits, and those limits were passed sometime in 2015."


Monday, January 25, 2016

Longtime Bar in Vista Closes Due to Flooding Losses

Jillian's was one of the first big places to open up in the "Vista", and it looks like the great flood of 2015 took it out.

I enjoyed going when I was younger. I spent plenty of time (and money) there playing pool back in the day, so part of me will miss it. When I'm old, I'm sure I'll be one of those old guys who drives past the location and says to completely disinterested people something like "That's where I used to play pool and drink beer when I was younger".

However, I have to say that I kind of thought that Jillian's was kind of on its last legs anyway. I went in a few times over the last few years, and they place never really seemed to have the pep that it used to. It just wasn't drawing the crowds for big games, or dancing, or whatever. Maybe the management slipped a little bit. Maybe this big hit of losses with the flood was the final straw that broke the camel's back. Maybe that's just the nature of things. Nothing lasts forever. 

Except maybe LaBrasca's.

Friday, January 22, 2016

When Good Men Do Nothing

To sit home, read one's favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon the good men's doing. 

-- Teddy Roosevelt in The Higher Life of American Cities (1895)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

This Bernie Sanders Ad Is Pretty Good

I can say this as a conservative. From an objective point of view, in that I'm not voting for either Bernie or Hillary, I think this is an effective ad for Bernie Sanders.

It's uplifting, it's appealing, it's an ad that makes you want to be part of all of those people who are looking for something with Bernie Sanders. I think a lot of Bernie's supporters are people who are looking for something different. 

It's not the pragmatic, boring, I'm more experienced at using the levers of power type campaign pitch that Hillary is selling.

Bernie is selling something that Hillary can't quite get her fingers on, and I think it's working.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hillary Clinton Claims that the Intel Inspector General is, get this, "Working with Republicans"

Right. Riiiiight. The guy appointed by Obama is part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Here's what just broke:

In a copy of the Jan. 14 correspondence obtained by POLITICO, Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III told both the Senate Intelligence and Senate Foreign Relations committees that intelligence agencies found messages relating to what are known as “special access programs,” or SAP. That’s an even more restricted subcategory of sensitive compartmented information, or SCI, which is top secret national security information derived from sensitive intelligence sources.

So obviously, this guy Charles McCullough, III has to be a crazy right-winger who's out to hurt Hillary, right? Except, not so much. Some guy named Barack Obama appointed him back in 2011. Weird, huh.

So here's what the Clinton campaign is going with:

"This is the same interagency dispute that has been playing out for months, and it does not change the fact that these emails were not classified at the time they were sent or received" said Clinton Campaign Spokesman Brian Fallon. "It is alarming that the intelligence community IG, working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign."

I guess that when you're actually guilty of committing a crime, the whole process of people finding out what you did probably looks like a conspiracy.

Thing is, this whole thing is not complicated. You can try and make it as complicated as you want, but the reality is really very simple.

Hillary wanted to have an e-mail account that would be safe from Republicans in Congress, from citizens and their FOIA inquiries, and from general accountability to anyone. Nowhere in her calculation to have a private e-mail system did she even remotely consider national security.

It's really that simple.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cold Night - Hot Fire

Cold night tonight. They say it will be down in the twenties. Good thing the fire is burning nice and warm here at the ol' homestead.

Stay warm out there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nikki Haley's Response to the State of the Union Hit the Right Tone

Nikki Haley, all by herself, as she gives the response.

In what has to be one of the hardest political speeches to give, Nikki Haley was selected to give the response to the State of the Union last night. [Full text here] The President gets all the pomp and circumstance of being in the House of Representatives, and the whole thing is a huge production.

By contrast, the person being assigned the rebuttal is always alone in a room ('cause everyone else is at the State of the Union) and they have a cold camera to talk to. Talk about a tough act to follow. With that in mind, I thought Nikki Haley took that challenge and did a great job.

While hitting a lot of the standard points, she also denounced the people who make "noise" and the "siren song of the angriest voices":

“There’s an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results. 
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.
Clearly, she was aiming her criticism at Trump and cautioning those who support him. I'm not sure that anyone who supports Trump will be swayed by this, because we've seen that Trump supporters are not really swayed by anything. It's a cult of personality with Trump and his supporters, and you can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into to start with.

However, for the rest of the people out there who are looking for conservative (or classically liberal) ideas, Haley provided a wonderful path. She spoke of balancing respect for "modern families" with "religious liberty", she spoke of respecting and welcoming immigrants, while stopping illegal immigration.

And she did it all with a wonderful tone that came from a place of hope and optimism - not from a place of anger and fear. I know this speech will be forgotten by the end of this week, but I hope that the tone and the ideas inspire some candidates to seriously evaluate how they are trying to communicate and what they are trying to do.