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Category: General

Robert Stone, RIP

[ 29 ] January 11, 2015 |

Robert Stone, author of Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, and many other novels, has died. Of course, he’s most famous because I once rented an apartment that he had lived in not long before.

Where’s Your Head Linesman Now?

[ 199 ] January 11, 2015 |

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Our brief national nightmare is over.

About the call that Cowboys fans will be complaining about before people laugh at them again, correct me if I’m wrong but I think it was the correct application of a stupid rule — like the Brady tuck call — as opposed to a bad call, like (to pick an entirely random example) picking up a clearly correct DPI flag after the penalty had been announced and marked off.

To turn to the next game, helluva job by the Colts front office. Trading a first-round pick for a replacement-level running back seemed like a great idea at the time — what went wrong?

The “people aren’t perfect, he made a mistake” theory of criminal law

[ 83 ] January 11, 2015 |

AKA the “hasn’t he suffered enough?” defense, ably articulated this morning by California’s senior senator:

A top Senate Democrat defended David Petraeus on Sunday, saying the Justice Department erred in recommending charges against the former top Army general and Central Intelligence Agency director.

“This man has suffered enough in my view,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman, told Gloria Borger, CNN chief political analyst on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Her comments come after news that the Justice Department is recommending charges against Petraeus, first reported by The New York Times.

Feinstein called Petraeus, who led U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan under President George W. Bush and later President Barack Obama, “the four-star general of our generation” and “a very brilliant man.”

She said Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer, and his allowing her access to some classified government documents while she was with him was a mistake — but not one for which he should face criminal charges.

“It’s done, it’s over. He’s retired. He’s lost his job,” Feinstein said. “I mean, how much does government want?”

Her comments came on the heels of similar criticism by Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who called the investigation “grievously mishandled.”

Note: Defense not applicable in all cases.*

*Use this easy test to check whether you’re eligible to have your advocates employ this line of argument in the offices of the executive branch and the courts of public opinion:

If you passed classified information to your mistress, how many senators would appear on Sunday morning talk shows to talk about what a great person you are?

(a) Zero.

Stop. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $2,000,000 from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

(b) One.

Defense may be applicable in your case. Consult the editorial board of the Washington Post for further guidance.

(c) Two or more, at least one of which is from each major party.

Congratulations, you are a Genuine American Hero(tm), and as such outside the jurisdiction of federal criminal law. Please be sure to collect your Augusta National Golf Club membership and other complimentary gifts at the door.

Selma, History, Filmmaking, and Activism

[ 113 ] January 11, 2015 |

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Last night, I saw the film Selma, as directed by Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow, Middle of Nowhere) and written by DuVernay and Paul Webb (Selma). So what do you need to know about Selma?

First things first, it’s an excellent movie and you should all see it as soon as you can. Second, it’s a movie that’s attracted some controversy over its depiction of LBJ. Third, it’s a movie that historians, activists, and people generally on the left should watch and discuss, because it’s a movie that has something to say about activism. So we might as well discuss it here.

Read more…

Richard Sherman: A Traitor to Conservatives

[ 20 ] January 11, 2015 |

It’s entirely unclear to me why The Free Beacon would name Richard Sherman its Man of the Year in 2014. But it has rescinded the “honor” because Sherman has recorded an ad, or “a government propaganda video” according to the site, to get people to sign up for Obamacare. Which of course means you should all be rooting for the Seahawks to win another Super Bowl.

Another Way the Airlines Hate Their Customers: Fire Unionized Employees and Replace Them with Contractors

[ 91 ] January 10, 2015 |

United ended its baggage handling contract at Denver International Airport with SkyWest, which has a unionized workforce, replacing it with a contractor that pays many workers the minimum wage. What happened next is predictable:

United Airlines’ baggage-handling issues at Denver International Airport have gotten so out of hand that airport CEO Kim Day has personally reached out to the airline to offer assistance.

“She asked if there was anything the airport can do,” airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said. “The offer has been extended. We are confident United is doing everything they can.”

United’s troubles with lost luggage, delayed flights and a chaotic baggage-claim area, with bags tossed everywhere, have gone on for weeks and are extending beyond the airline to color travelers’ perceptions of the airport as a whole.

Several passengers say they will try never to travel through Denver again, including tourist Jonathan Huckabay, whose luggage went missing when he connected through DIA on Saturday.

He was returning home to Edmonton, Alberta, from a vacation in Mexico when his flight was delayed for more than an hour because of issues getting luggage loaded onto the plane in Denver.

“I will definitely avoid going through Denver if I can help it,” he said. “I was looking forward to seeing the airport and perhaps visiting the city as I hadn’t passed through that hub before, but the experience has soured me on this particular city’s airport.”

Huckabay still did not have his bag Tuesday.

More here.

It’s hardly worth blaming the employees themselves, either. They are, almost to a person, new hires and woefully underpaid. United has recently made the mind-boggling decision to cut ties with its veteran airport staff (through the unionized company SkyWest) and instead hire the lowest bidding contractor they could find. SkyWest’s workers are paid an average of $12 to $24 an hour. Instead of paying employees those wages, United contracted a company ironically called, “Simplicity,” which advertises wages of just $8 an hour — the lowest legal wage a company can give in the city of Denver.

I’m sure that if people complain too much, United can always move to another city that will appreciate the company as the deity that it sees itself as being.

George Zimmerman victim of fourth unprovoked assault in the last two years (that we know of)

[ 44 ] January 10, 2015 |

George Zimmerman, the Florida man acquitted in 2013 of the shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, was arrested in Florida late Friday night on charges of aggravated assault with a weapon. . .

Zimmerman is being held on $5,000 bond and has been ordered to surrender all firearms even though this incident didn’t involve one, the judge said. [So much for the 2nd amendment]

Since his high-profile acquittal, Zimmerman has had three other encounters with the Lake Mary police.

In September 2013, Zimmerman’s estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman, called 911 to tell police he had punched her father and was threatening her with a gun. She opted not to press charges.

In the second incident, which occurred in November 2013, Zimmerman was arrested and accused of domestic violence by girlfriend Samantha Scheibe, who later said investigators had misinterpreted her statements and dropped charges.

In September 2014, Zimmerman was involved in an incident of road rage.

NFL Divisional Round Picks/Open Thread

[ 223 ] January 10, 2015 |

What can I say — when you’re right 25% of the time, you’re wrong 75% of the time! (Even my win-but-not-cover game was tainted by being adjudicated by the Halbig panel.)

Ravens (+7) over PATRIOTS I’m sure many of you have seen Chopped, the Food Network show premised on the idea that the skill of a chef can be tested by seeing how they work with low quality or mismatched ingredients? It’s a bad theory of cooking skill but an entertaining show. Anyway, the Personnel Belichick seems to have been following this formula for years, challenging Coach Belichick to see how little talent he can have on defense and still win 11 games. The Chopped era of the Patriots is over; finally given some players in the secondary, their defense went from being below- to above- average. They’ve only moved from 5th to 4th in total DVOA from last year, but in terms of playoff prospects I like them more than that level of improvement reflects. But although the perception is that they limped into the playoffs, the Ravens are right behind them, a better team than they get credit for. (The Patriots were the big loser of the Steelers/Ravens game, as I think they would have destroyed Indianapolis.) As Barnwell says, you can say this about a lot of games, but the ability of the Ravens to get a pass rush without blitzing a lot will be crucial; they have the personnel to be capable of it but NE’s offensive line has looked a lot better. If the Patriots had a true #1 wideout who could reliable get down the field against the shaky Ravens secondary I’d pick them even with the spread, but without that I’m less confident. I hate dealing with the Ravens because of Flacco’s low floor and high ceiling, but they certainly have a reasonable chance to win the game, and with that it seems that the chances of a Ravens win + the chances of the Ravens losing by 7 or less are >50%.

SEAHAWKS (-11 1/2) over Panthers It’s not exactly news that not only the defending champions but still the best team in football, with a larger-than-normal home field advantage, going up against a significantly below-average team, is a huge mismatch. This doesn’t make the game easy to pick against the spread, of course; Seattle has a very good not necessarily explosive offense, and with Carolina’s only chance being getting a lot of takeaways they’re likely to have a conservative game plan; I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Panthers get a cover even if the game isn’t really competitive. But still…last week they were trailing at the half against a team that could have significantly improved its QB situation by signing Tim Tebow. It seems more likely that this gets really ugly for Carolina.

PACKERS (-5 1/2) over Cowboys I dithered a lot about this one, given Rodgers’s injury. But, still, assuming he’s mostly functional, the case for the Packers is clear — they’re a similar kind of team to the Cowboys but better. Admittedly, the difference in offences is less than you’d think — Romo actually had a better QBR than Rodgers this year and was #2 behind the likely MVP in DVOA (something apologists for Caldwell’s #punttowin last week fail to adequately take into account.) You can’t just look at this year’s stats when evaluating talent, so you’d have to give Rodgers a bigger edge than that, but it’s not close. Of bigger concern is the Cowboy defense, which I suspect is worse than even their below-average DVOA suggests. If Rodgers can remain upright, I can’t pick against Green Bay here.

BRONCOS (-7) over Colts The Colts have a better chance of winning than the Panthers, but IMHO not by an enormous amount; the market seems to think that the Colts are of similar quality to the Ravens, but I think the market is wrong. The only thing the Colts do better than the Broncos is kick field goals, and the very well-balanced Broncos should be able to exploit Indy’s many holes. Despite some concerns about Manning late in the season, he’s still a significantly better QB than Luck, and while the Broncos had the best defense in the conference with the arguable exception of Buffalo, the Colts…don’t. If I had to bet real money on any of these four games, I think I’d put it on Denver.

Conservative Freak Out of the Day

[ 80 ] January 10, 2015 |

OMFG, Malia Obama likes the hippety-hop. Western Civilization faces another threat! Only the conservative movement can save us now!!!

Bernie and the TPP

[ 18 ] January 10, 2015 |

Bernie Sanders is taking the lead in attacking the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership, the centerpiece of Obama’s trade agenda.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is blasting the Obama administration for a lack of transparency in negotiating a major trade deal that he says will be “disastrous” for workers.

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be the largest free trade agreement in history, is still being negotiated but is expected to come before Congress for approval this year.

Sanders, an independent, said the treaty’s proposals were written in secret with input from multi-national corporations while members of Congress were “locked out of the process.” Administration officials dispute that claim.

Sanders said the trade pact is part of a “global race to the bottom” to boost corporate profits.

“It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it,” Sanders wrote Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

What I love is the lies about the number of jobs that the TPP will create:

Murphy said trade agreements like TPP dismantle tariffs and barriers used by foreign governments to shut out U.S. goods and services. The deal could boost U.S. exports by $124 billion by 2025 and generate 700,000 new American jobs, he wrote, citing a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

These same sorts of claims were made about NAFTA. Instead, 683,000 American jobs were lost because of NAFTA by 2010, 61 percent of which were the high-paying manufacturing jobs at the backbone of the American union movement of the 20th century.

When Does The National Review Think Income Inequality Should Be Fought?

[ 14 ] January 10, 2015 |

When solar energy entrepreneurs get rich, of course.

Touring the World

[ 20 ] January 9, 2015 |

Whether visiting SEK’s office where he caught students having sex, the Nixon Library, or Eng and Chang’s grave (which oddly I have never written about here), I like weird tourism, especially if it intersects with American history. How to do this on the Colombian coast? Easy enough. Visit the bar where the Secret Service agent picked up the woman that led to the agency’s prostitution scandal. And here it is:

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I love the guy who did this because he engaged in my favorite thing in the world: rank conservative hypocrisy.

Huntington was a world away from Severna Park, Maryland, where he lived with his wife of almost 20 years, who homeschooled their two teenage sons and ran a neighborhood Bible-study group. The Huntingtons owned a modest house with two white rocking chairs on the front porch and an American flag flying above the front door. They attended Granite Baptist Church in Glen Burnie. Arthur had graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College, a Christian school in Rochester, New York, where he studied criminal justice. Before joining the Secret Service, he was an airport security guard and then a cop in St. Petersburg, Florida.

I love it when my Baptist Bible school teaching home schooling good Christian security men just so happen to sleep with any woman that moves when their wives aren’t around.

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