Thoughts on Events the Week of March 11

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 18, 2019

The college entrance scandal that broke this week is symptomatic of everything that is wrong in America today: greed. (Well, plus racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, guns and ignorance.)

The golden rule in America, corrupted since President Reagan told us greed is good, circa 1980, is, “He who has the gold makes the rules,” and over time, those with the gold have used it to purchase a Congress that creates laws that give them more and more of it at the expense of everyone else. The result is that inequality has reached the point that we are now in another Gilded Age.

And yet, though the ultra-rich have written a blank check for themselves, they still want to steal from us. (Think Dick Cheney and Halliburton during the Iraq War.) And though those caught up in the college entrance scandal have myriad legal ways to help their children get into a good school, they still broke the law to get even more advantage.

Perhaps we should have a smidgen of sympathy for one of Lori Loughlin’s daughters who is caught up in this scandal. Based on a social media posting by her, she is a vacuous, incurious, spoiled airhead who would have trouble getting into any school without spectacular help. And do you think for a moment that George W. Bush or Donald Trump would have gotten into their prestigious schools without help (read daddy’s money)?

Another example of the corrosive influence of money in our system is the light sentence Paul Manafort received in his first criminal trial from a judge obviously conditioned to genuflect to wealth and influence.

So, it turns out that our best and brightest are merely our most corrupt and venal. But deep down, we already knew that. It’s been apparent for a while. fffffffffff

To Impeach or not to Impeach?

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 14, 2019

That is the question Democrats are debating presently. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is correct: impeachment is, at the least, premature.

That being the case, I was stunned when The Atlantic, a generally sober magazine and one of my favorites, published a major article by Yoni Appelbaum in its March issue advocating impeachment now, which was as flawed with specious arguments and as misguided as anything I have ever read in the magazine. Very disappointing.

Basically, Appelbaum’s argument is that we should begin the impeachment process now because Trump is already impeachable based on what we already know, and that even if it is not successful, it will gum up the political works, and impede Trump’s political agenda.

First, impeachment is far too serious an issue to play fast and loose with. That is simply irresponsible governance. And, our legislature is already dysfunctional enough. We need to get serious about restoring it, not making it worse.

Second, it is obvious that Trump’s base, and therefore Republican legislators, don’t care what Trump has done so far. They have sold their souls to him, so impeachment on the basis of what we know now is bound to fail, waste everyone’s time, and diminish the gravity of the process.

Impeachment, if it ever occurs, will have to await the findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation, which may or may not produce evidence sufficient to warrant it, or the product of investigations now beginning in the House. My own expectation is that Trump will survive the Mueller investigation, unless it produces some really egregious crime, and maybe even then.

I expect, however, that the investigations by House committees will be so aggressive that they will drive Trump from office ultimately. They, and the weight of the Mueller investigation, will cause Trump to quit, or lose re-election.

So, I don’t expect Trump to be impeached. I expect he will likely go to jail after he leaves office, based on his various financial crimes, rather than anything political. Trump brought this on himself by shining bright light on his personal life by running for president. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. r

Thoughts on Recent Weekly Events

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on March 13, 2019

There has been a lot of important news recently, including just this last week – too much to cover in one post, so I will address various items individually in subsequent ones.

But the most important recent news, in my view, occurred in mid-February, when a Delta Airlines flight from Orange County airport in Southern California to Seattle experienced severe turbulence so violent that it forced an emergency landing in Reno, NV, and sent three passengers to the hospital.

I say again that we will start paying attention to climate change when it becomes too dangerous to fly, which may be sooner than we think. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these incidents in the spring, a traditionally turbulent weather period.

Coincidentally, the latest Democrat to announce he is running for president is Washington State governor Jay Inslee, whose campaign focus will be exclusively on fighting climate change. He is well spoken and may prove to be a compelling candidate.

Sudden Thought: The fastest and easiest way to get Jared Kushner’s top secret security clearance revoked, which he should never have gotten in the first place, and wouldn’t have were he not Trump’s son-in-law, is to indict him for and convict him of a crime. He is surely guilty of some. Should be easy peasy.

Status of the States: The worst state cup goes to Arizona, my own personal state, courtesy of Congressperson Paul Gosar, my own personal Congressperson, for his antics during the Michael Cohen hearing. He embarrassed himself, but also the state. Gosar should learn first to pronounce words correctly, and then not to use them.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 25, 2019

A decision point is at hand: to blog or not to blog. The annual fee to retain my domain is coming due or I will lose it. Frankly, I’m ambivalent. I haven’t been blogging much since Cynthia died, and blogging, nor much of anything else, hasn’t seemed as important to me since she passed away. On the other hand, there’s a lot of disgusting stuff going on about which to bitch and moan.

I’ve decided to continue the blog until the next presidential election in 2020, and retire the domain thereafter, whatever the election’s result. During this time, I intend to write about threatened rights, such as freedom of speech and privacy, beginning below.

My position as an absolutist regarding freedom of speech is being challenged currently. There’s some particularly disgusting speech being thrown around today. Hate speech, politically motivated lies to frighten or motivate voters generated by bots, out and out lies about just about everything  from President Trump and resurrected, unfortunate comments about race and gender by public figures made years ago, to name just a few.

Which brings me to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who posted a picture of himself in blackface on his medical school yearbook page. Many have called for him to resign over it. I support Governor Northam’s refusal to do so for three reasons relating largely to freedom of speech issues.

First, there is nothing illegal about wearing blackface. It’s offensive, it’s stupid and it’s antiquated, but it does not rise to a high crime, nor even a misdemeanor. For that matter, it’s not a crime to be a bigot, even if Northam were one, which I doubt, because…

Two, in public office, Northam’s actual deeds have been liberal and in my view enlightened on social issues. He has evinced little if any bigotry or xenophobia. In fact, just the opposite. He has, for example, supported moving Confederate statues and monuments from the public square to a museum, which is where they belong.

Finally, popular opinion has changed dramatically, and for the better, since Northam was in medical school. In this new environment, the 80s seem a long time ago, in absolute years (30), and certainly in the light years speed of social change. I’m not comfortable judging peoples’ past remarks and behavior by present standards, particularly when current behavior is so much more enlightened. We grow.

Accusations regarding Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax are a different story. He’s accused of sexual assault, an actual crime. I’m still uncomfortable about judging people’s past deeds in a period when attitudes are changing rapidly, but a crime is a crime, and just because it may have been ignored or tolerated in the past doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enforced now. If charges against Fairfax are proven, I think he should go.

I don’t know enough about Virginia’s Attorney General, who is also being looked at askance due to earlier behavior, to comment on his situation, but it sniffs of overwrought political correctness from this distance.

Football Thoughts – The Playoffs

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on February 2, 2019

The Dallas Cowboys lost their playoff game to the Los Angeles Rams ignominiously. They were beaten badly by a better team, and certainly by a much better coach. The Rams covered the spread by only one point, but anyone who saw this game knows that the Cowboys were never going to win it, which was apparent from the first snap.

The Cowboys were a fraud all season. Jerry Jones stood pat in the off-season, and when the same old team took the field, their record for the first half of the season was a dismal 3-5. Their vaunted offensive line suffered serious injury and illness damage, which didn’t help.

Then, the Cowboys fell into two pieces of good luck, which obscured their true level of capability. First, Jones, after having done nothing to improve the team in the offseason, was shamed into trading for receiver Amari Cooper. There was some risk in this trade, but the Cowboys hit a jackpot with Cooper; he turned out to be well worth the trade.

Next, the Cowboys played a string of teams who were having a very down year, and/or were devastated by injuries, which goosed their record. (The win over the Seahawks in the first playoff game, like the inexplicable win over New Orleans in the regular season, remain outlier mysteries.) So, the Cowboy’s season is over in its typical failing fashion.

Of course, my season ended in disappointment when the Cowboys won its two games previous to being stomped by the Rams, because it meant that Jerry Jones would not have to fire his mediocre coaching staff. So, he kept the head coach, fired one guy and elevated a current staff member to offensive coordinator, perpetuating mediocrity via incest.

The Cowboys have no hope of rising above mediocrity until they get a new head coach, if they can find one willing to work for Jerry. Jones seems content with all this, so everybody wins, except the fans.

The Kansas City Chiefs wiped up the floor with the Indianapolis Colts, and looked good on both sides of the ball doing it. The game was a rout. I have rarely seen a team as unprepared for a playoff game as were the Colts for theirs.

New England can be beaten and will be beaten someday. But until that happens, I will always favor them in any game. The Patriots dispatched the San Diego Chargers with ease. There is something about the Chargers that is just off somehow. They have good players and show flashes, but just don’t seem to be able to win when it counts.

The most competitive playoff game, between Philadelphia and New Orleans, saw the Saints rise to the occasion and justify their first seed status after a couple of lackluster games late in the season.

Early in the season, I picked the Rams and Chiefs to meet in the Super Bowl. (Making a pick before the season even starts is fruitless. You have to see the teams play a game or two before you can get a sense of their potential.) So, by the division championship games, both my picks were still in the hunt.

Given the match-ups, I had picked the Chiefs, but I expected the Patriots to win, and they did. Likewise, I had picked the Rams, but I expected New Orleans to win, and they would have if not for the most egregious screw-up in NFL playoff history. It seems the NFL couldn’t imagine such an egregious screw-up, so they had made no provision for it. The result of the theft of the game from New Orleans tainted the championships and therefore the Super Bowl.  I’ll be watching the commercials, but the game has no legitimacy to me.

I agree with Commissioner Goodell that he can’t stop the presses now and schedule a make-up game. But what he should have done, and could have done, is get on the phone, stopped the game immediately after the screw-up and overturn the terrible, game changing, true winner ruining non-call.

So, I like New England. fff

Football Thoughts – Bowl Season and Playoffs

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 3, 2019

I’ve watched a lot of football recently, but I was most interested in the two semi-final games of the BCS Championship, of course. Both went about as Vegas predicted. Clemson wiped up the floor with Notre Dame and Alabama beat Oklahoma, though the Tide couldn’t cover the spread against OU.

It was only a matter of time, having the worst defense in football, that it would cost us a game. Until Alabama, we had been able to outscore other teams however many points they managed to run up on our wretched defense. OU had scored 28 or more points in every game this season, and they scored 34 against Alabama, but that wasn’t enough to beat the Tide. They were too good.

In my view, OU squandered two likely national championships, given its amazing offenses, due to its inconceivably bad defenses.  My fear now is that bad defenses will plague us for a while longer, even when we get a new, better defensive coordinator, because it takes years to overcome a reputation for terrible defense like we’ve created, for what good defensive player recruit will want to come to a school where they may worry they won’t be developed? A pox on OU for not firing Mike Stoops three years ago. I know why we didn’t, but still.

The Cowboys won a meaningless game against the woeful New York Giants with a last minute, improbable touchdown. Dallas sat Zeke Elliott and rested two banged up starting linemen. (Dak Prescott played the entire game, however, as did Eli Manning for the Giants.) So, on the surface it was a credible win for the Cowboys in those circumstances…except that: 1) the Giants are a terrible team this year, and 2) also sitting out for New York was Odell Beckham. If he had played, the Giants likely would have won the game.

That’s the thing with Dallas. The NFC East is way down this year, so Dallas won a lot of games against woeful teams, and/or teams that suffered season devastating injuries (the Washington Redskins lost their starting quarterback, perhaps forever, with a badly broken leg), and just barely managed to win them. (The one notable, and to me still inexplicable, exception is Dallas’ win over the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees. Can’t deny that one.)

The Cowboys next game will be against a better team – the Seattle Seahawks (Seattle beat the Chiefs, for crying out loud, and already beat the Cowboys in the regular season). Dallas has enough good players now, especially if their banged up offensive linemen are healthier from rest, to compete with Seattle, but I have no confidence they have the coaching staff to do it.

I expect Dallas to have another one and done playoffs, and I hope I’m right, because if I am wrong, Jerry Jones might keep Jason Garrett as head coach. But if Jerry keeps interfering with his coaches, even changing coaches won’t help, because, like President Trump, Jones will have difficulty finding a good coach willing to work for him.

I thought the best bowl game was between Washington State and Iowa State, a Big XII team, which Wazzu won 28-26. The Cyclones gave a good accounting of themselves, and I expect them to continue improving.

I was glad to see Texas beat Georgia. Texas played well, though it was obvious that Georgia, expecting to be in the playoffs, didn’t really want to be there and were lackluster. The game reminded me of the one OU won against Alabama, when Alabama, for the same reason, clearly didn’t have its head in the game. But a win is a win, and Texas is coming back.

Florida pounded Michigan in the Rose Bowl, showing how weak is the Big Ten these days, and how overrated the Wolverines turned out to be.

Oklahoma State beat Missouri, and a good Kentucky team, coached by Mark Stoops, the youngest of the Stoops brothers, I think, beat Penn State, a chronically overrated Big Ten school.

LSU beat UCF in a pretty good game 40-32. I was cheering for UCF, coached by former OU quarterback Josh Heupel, who won our last National Championship in 2000. Like his mentor Mike Leach, now head coach at Washington State, for Heupel, it’s all about offense. They, like Oklahoma, both need to find a better defensive coach somewhere. (Note: Heupel’s predecessor, Scott Frost, left UCF to be head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. He must be an idiot.

In the Redbox (sounds like a venereal disease doesn’t it?) Bowl, Oregon beat Michigan State (another Big Ten loser) 7-6, the lowest bowl game score since near the beginning of the last century. They should call it the Impotence Bowl instead and be done with it.

So far, there are already eight coaching vacancies in the NFL (a euphemism for firings), not counting Jason Garrett, for whom I have high hopes of being fired. The toughest of these vacancies to fill, and the worst team to inherit, is the Arizona Cardinals. Not only do they have a chronically incompetent organization, but said organization fired a competent coach after one year without giving him a chance. Who would want to coach there?

The most desirable vacancy is the Cleveland Browns. They have an improving organization, an improving team and good young quarterback in Baker Mayfield. How much is Cleveland going to be willing to offer Lincoln Riley? It may turn out to be an offer Riley can’t refuse, but he would be crazy to take it.

Football Thoughts – weekend of 12-1-18

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on December 2, 2018

Let’s start with the pro games for a change, since Dallas played Thursday night. I was as wrong as can be about the Dallas v. New Orleans game. I never dreamed the Cowboys would beat the Saints.  

Dallas’ defense played really well. The offense played really ordinary. The Saints played really awful. But, hey, the Cowboys won. Does this mean they will be 9-7…or better? We’ll see.

But I was right about my beloved Sooners. They beat Texas in the Big XII Championship game, as I expected. The defense played a little better than previously, with an interception and a safety. I particularly enjoyed the safety. But OU was always going to score if and when they needed to. Texas can enjoy the Sugar Bowl or someplace, and I hope they win.

I was also right that if OU won and the other favorites did also, that OU would make the playoffs. I heard a bunch of silly talk last night after all the games were completed about Georgia or Ohio State getting in instead of OU, but I knew that was nonsense. There was no way OSU was going to leap over OU, and the Georgia scenario was ludicrous on its face. I’ll tell you why.

Georgia played probably the best they have played all year against Alabama, and scored 28 points to Alabama’s 35. If those two teams were to play again, do you think Georgia would score more than 28 points? No way in hell. But do you think OU could score more than 35 points against Alabama? Possibly. I think the committee wanted to see if OU could succeed where others have not. We shall see.

Football Thoughts – Thanksgiving Weekend

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on November 27, 2018

I wrote a terrific recap of relevant football thoughts about last weekend’s games, but my computer lost it and I was too lazy to reproduce it, so I published nothing.

But one of the points I would have made had I been able to publish is that I thought the needle pointed to an 8-8 season for the Dallas Cowboys, up from 7-9, since Washington had lost its quarterback for the season, just before the Redskins play Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

Any team who plays Dallas on Thanksgiving is already at a disadvantage, thanks to Tex Schramm’s genius. The opponent has a short week before having to travel to Dallas, leaving less time to prepare and practice for the game. Add in having to bring a back-up quarterback to starting status, and the cards were stacked badly against Washington in Dallas, a game I think Washington otherwise would have won.

So, the Cowboys won the game, though no one who saw it can rationally doubt that the Redskins would have won if Alex Smith had been able to start at quarterback.

So, I now see the Cowboys posting another mediocre 8-8 season and missing the playoffs, again. I can see them beating Tampa Bay and New York Giants, but that’s it for this season.

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners beat West Virginia on the road rather more handily in my view than the score suggested. This sets up a rematch with Texas in the Big XII Championship game. If OU wins that one, far from a foregone conclusion, since Texas has gotten better and our defense has gotten worse, we may or may not get into the playoffs.

The West Virginia game proved two things: OU’s defense is a flailing, failing disaster. I have never seen a worse one on a Sooner team, and they seem to be regressing each week. However, it must be said that, to their credit, they actually scored two defensive touchdowns off West Virginia fumbles, and made an important interception near the end of the game. But, they still stink on ice.

The second thing proven is that it doesn’t matter how bad the defense is; OU can outscore anybody. I hope the selection committee can figure that out.

I watched the Michigan at Ohio State game. I figured it was the only game where we were likely to get some help getting into the playoffs. I expected OSU to beat Michigan, again, and they did, taking #4 Michigan out of the picture.

I never expected USC to beat Notre Dame, and of course they didn’t. They gave ND a strong tussle for a while, but lost the game due to their almost unimaginable ineptitude, which has been on display all season. But at least USC, by giving Notre Dame a close game, pointed out how overrated Notre Dame is, since USC is truly terrible this year. Still, Notre Dame will get into the playoffs. They’re always overrated and it doesn’t seem to matter to anybody.

So, this leaves only one team standing between OU and the playoffs, other than the aforementioned Texas Longhorns, and that’s Georgia. If OU wins out and Alabama beats Georgia, we should be in. Interestingly, however, if Georgia upsets Alabama, the top four teams might remain the same, with Alabama dropping only to #4, with the result the four current playoff teams will remain unchanged. We shall have to wait and see.

The Islamic Enlightenment

Posted in Reviews - of books, mostly, Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 21, 2018

Christopher de Bellaigue, author of The Islamic Enlightenment, begins his book by proclaiming it has a startling and controversial thesis, namely that all through Islamic history there were reformers trying to bring the religion and the territory, for they are one and the same, into modernity.

To this startling and controversial thesis, I say Duh. It’s not the least startling. I am perfectly willing to accept it. There are always some people, however small a minority, who are trying to move forward from ignorance toward the light. There’s nothing controversial about that idea at all.

It doesn’t help de Bellaigue’s thesis that at the end of the book, he is compelled to admit that all the reformers failed. In fact, it begs the question why “enlightenment” is even in the title.

This does not mean, however, the book is not worth reading. There is a great deal of interesting and well written history of the Middle East in it. I read it for that reason, gained more knowledge and insight about the subject, and found it well worth the effort.

Football Thoughts – Week of 11/10

Posted in Sports - football, mostly, Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 13, 2018

My beloved Oklahoma Sooners won a shootout – 48 to 47 – against a mediocre Oklahoma Aggies team that ranks eighth out of the 10 teams in the Big XII. Don’t ask.

We were damned lucky to win that game. The Aggies cut through our defense like a hot knife through butter. The game ended with the Aggies going for a two-point conversion that would have won the game for them. It took a good defensive stop, but also a poor offensive pass or the play might have succeeded.

That said, we almost always we always do find a way to beat the Oklahoma Aggies, even when they have had much, much better teams than this one. The Aggies used to win one about once a generation. They’ve improved. Now it’s about once in a little more than a decade. It must drive them crazy.

Oklahoma’s defense is absolutely terrible, statistically one of the very worst in the NCAA. I have never seen such a disparity between the excellence of an offense and the impotence of a defense on the same team.

Our defense is so bad that it is impossible to see how OU can move up in the rankings, let alone reach the playoff bracket, even if we win out, which is no foregone conclusion, as we still have to play West Virginia, a very good team, perhaps twice.

By not firing Stoops and upgrading our defensive staff years ago, as was obviously needed, we are squandering a truly excellent offensive year. (Come back, Brent Venables. All is forgiven.)

Well, son of a bitch. How ‘bout them Cowboys! They beat the Philadelphia Iggles on the road Sunday night. They played with spirit. It must have dawned on the coaches and players that everyone was playing for their job that night. Jerry Jones is obviously feeling the sting of his competence being criticized universally.

That said, this still looks like a 7 and 9 team to me. I can see them winning over the Buccaneers and the Falcons, the teams at the bottom of the NFC North. Anything more than that would be gravy. And if they do eek out another game somewhere, the Cowboys will only be adding another link to their chain of mediocre 8-8 seasons, which I don’t think Dallas’ management can stand any more.

Please note that Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three touchdowns and won a third game for Cleveland. Mayfield, as every OU fan knows well, is the goods. He will win games for Cleveland on his own, and inspire his mediocre team to play better. Now all Cleveland has to do is get some decent players around him, which is not the case at present, to say the least.

I will be watching with interest when undefeated University of Central Florida (UCF) plays Cincinnati (9-1) this weekend. The game will be easy to find. It will be featured on College Game Day and televised nationally. UCF coach Josh Heupel is already being interviewed on national sports shows.