Friday, November 9, 2018

Maybe not a blue wave, but definitely a blue swell: Facts & Observations about the 2018 election

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First, lets start with some actual factual facts (as opposed to the alternative facts that Spanky & His sycophants prefer) ...


** Democrats have picked up 30 House seats, and it looks like the final tally (once California is fully counted and a few "too close to call" races get called) will be 34 to 36 added. That means the House will have gone from 235 Republicans and 193 Democrats (with 7 vacancies) to approximately 230 Dems and 205 Republicans.





** Republicans have picked up 1-3 Senate seats. The most likely scenario is 2 (assuming AZ goes to the Dems as it looks now and Fla goes to the GOP as it appears). That means the Senate will have gone from 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats to 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats.

** Democrats flipped 7 governorships, giving them 23. A couple other races might go to recounts/run-offs.


** Dems also have flipped 370-ish statehouse seats in the last year, including 300+ in this election cycle.



Now, a few observations:

++ Dems have made their biggest gains in the House since Watergate. They have a "comfortable majority," so even if a dozen legislators vote with Republicans on a bill, Dems still can play the obstruction game that the GOP perfected during Obama's tenure if they so choose.

++ Democrats also now will chair all the important House committees, including a few that likely will investigate Trump. And not the kind of "investigation" Spanky sycophant Devin Nunes pretended to conduct about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump's role in it.


++ Trump actively campaigned for more than a dozen House Republican incumbents who lost their seats, all in districts Republicans have held for years. Numerous other races saw Republicans barely hold on in districts they have owned for decades. Republicans lost seats in red bastions such as Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Arizona. Additionally, Conor Lamb showed he was no "flash in the pan" after stunningly winning a special election in 2017 for a Pennsylvania House seat in a red district. Overall, there was an obvious anti-Trump backlash in this House election. He said the election was about him, and he lost the House.



++ In the Senate, Trump personally installed his own candidate in the Nevada race, Dean Heller, and that candidate lost decisively to an unknown named Jacky Rosen. Trump or his surrogates made several trips to Montana to try to oust Jon Tester, who won anyway in a red state. Tiny furiously tried to get Joe Manchin out in West Virgina but failed.

++ Whereas several Democratic senators had to try to protect seats in deep red states that Trump won in 2016, the opposite will be the case in 2020, when many Republicans will be trying to protect seats in states that Clinton won. It will be a challenge for the Dems to regain control of the Senate in 2020 due to the givebacks this cycle. Still, it isn't unrealistic to think that, if Trump's disapproval rating remains high, the Dems can flip the 4-5 seats they'll need.


++ Among the governorships Republicans lost were those in Wisconsin and Michigan. The Dems also flipped two House seats in Michigan and three in Pennsylvania.  And Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf also was re-elected governor in Penn. Why are those states significant? Despite Trump's claims that he won in a "landslide," the fact is that he won by about 78K combined votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- three states he might not be able to count on in 2020.




.





++ In addition to the hundreds of statehouse seats that have flipped to Democrats across the nation, several other states that had huge Republican advantages have seen those advantages reduced. For example, in NC, the Republicans had such a large numerical advantage that they could override any veto by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. But those advantages have been significantly reduced, and now the Republicans no longer can override Cooper without also getting votes from Democrats.


++ Also in NC, two proposed amendments to the state constitution designed purely to take authority away from the Democratic governor and give it to the Republican legislature were soundly defeated. It was a power grab, and voters saw through it.








++ The major Dem gains in the U.S. House and in statehouses came despite rampant gerrymandering that resulted in amoeba-shaped districts favoring Republicans across the nation. Courts have struck down many of the districts repeatedly as being racist and/or unfair. There are gerrymandering cases currently before the Supreme Court, and it will be interesting to see the rulings.













++ It has been entertaining to hear Spanky & His Sycophants proclaim that it's actually a good thing for the Republican party that the House has gone from a 42-seat GOP advantage to a 35-seat Democratic advantage. Where's O'Reilly's No-Spin Zone when Republicans need it?!?!









++ Trump thinks that he might actually get more things done because Dems in the House will now have to legislate rather than obstruct. Hmmm ... winning the House in 2010 didn't turn the Republicans into legislators; it just made them more effective obstructors, so we'll see how that goes. 

++ Dems, in general, aren't as good at being obstructionists as Republicans are, and I can see something like a major infrastructure project getting approval in the next year or two. Everybody likes infrastructure projects, and the jobs they bring. The Dems are always willing to spend money, as are the Republicans despite their claims to the contrary. 

++ The election no doubt hurt Mitch McTurtle's plan to pay for the Tax Cuts For Billionaires and Military Industrial Complex spending sprees on the backs of seniors, kids and sick people. It also probably will keep millions and millions of people on health care that McTurtle & Gang would rather throw under the bus.
^

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Fun Before The Election Storm

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With the midterm elections (and their related angst) just a couple of days away, I thought I'd touch on some of the fun stuff that's been going on the last couple of weeks.

+++

BALLIN' AGAIN!

I'm back for my second season as assistant girls basketball coach at Charlotte's Ardrey Kell HS. Practice has started, and we participated in a "Super Scrimmage" yesterday at Providence Day. 

We won 2 of our 3 scrimmage games, but as our great coach, Jeff Busieck pointed out multiple times, the scores really didn't matter in these things. What mattered is that our players' hard work during the offseason obviously is already paying off, as they competed hard and played well together at both ends of the floor. 

I was especially impressed with the individual improvement of several of the girls, many of whom played for AAU teams over the summer and worked tirelessly on their games. Three outstanding players graduated after last season's Elite Eight season -- taking some 75% of our scoring with them -- so we need these ladies to step up their games. We're going to play fast and ferociously, and I like our chances at another conference title.

Here's a photo I snapped of our girls between scrimmage games. Unfortunately, as you can see, it's more than a little fuzzy. I was high up and they were fairly far away. Still, it gives you an idea of how much fun they are.



We have two more weeks of practice to prepare for our season opener on Nov. 20. Can't wait!

+++

ROBBIE IS BETTER, NOT OLDER

We just spent a sensational weekend celebrating Robbie's birthday. It's not very fair that I keep getting older and she just keeps getting more beautiful.



Her actual birthday was yesterday, so we weren't together during the day. I had my team's scrimmages, while she and Simmie were visiting her dad at the assisted living facility. But in the evening, we went out with another couple for a few beers and a nice dinner.

We semi-celebrated it a week ago, when we went to see Hamilton -- what a great time. And then today we went to the Panthers game.

Wow, what movers and shakers we are!

+++

AND SPEAKING OF THE PANTHERS ...

Our gallant lads of the gridiron have reached the midway point of the season at 6-2. A few weeks ago, they weren't looking all that great, but then they rallied from a 17-point deficit at Philly to beat the defending champion Eagles, and they have played very well in home victories over the Ravens and Bucs.

They played nearly a perfect first half today against the Bucs, building a 35-7 lead. Cam Newton was wonderful, his linemen blocked superbly, the skill players surrounding Cam had one great play after another -- especially Christian McCaffrey, who leaped clear over a defender on one spectacular play, and Curtis Samuel, who ran more than 100 yards from one side of the field to the other during a 33-yard TD play on a double-reverse. And the defense was in the grill of Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Photo by Jason Miczek, panthers.com
The Panthers almost always like to make things exciting, though, and they let the Bucs pull back within 35-28 before putting the game away on a pass from Newton to Samuel in the fourth quarter.



There will be no rest for the weary, as the Panthers go to Pittsburgh in just a few days for Thursday Night Football.

Also today in the NFL, the Saints beat the Rams. The Panther fan in me wanted the Saints to lose, because then my boys would have been tied for first place in the division. But the old Dolphins fan in me was glad to see the previously undefeated Rams lose -- meaning another season will have passed without anybody equaling the incredible achievement of the '72 Dolphins.



+++

TUESDAY'S COMING

I said I wanted to keep this about the fun before the storm, so I won't ramble on about perhaps the most important election of our lifetimes -- a chance to check the power of the most corrupt, dishonest, unstable, incompetent president ever.

So I'll talk about Tuesday night also being the season opener of my Marquette Warrior Eagles.

MU should be a real good team this season. The first AP poll has Marquette second among "others receiving votes," meaning that voters in effect consider us the nation's 27th best team. Also, Big East coaches picked us to finish second behind defending national champion Villanova. Juniors Markus Howard (pictured below) and Sam Hauser are two of the very best shooters in the country, and the supporting cast appears to be solid and deep.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

My lads will get a chance early on to prove they belong with the big boys, as the non-conference schedule includes games against Kansas, either Tennessee or Louisville (in the preseason NIT), Kansas State, at Indiana, Wisconsin and Buffalo.

Also, Tuesday's opener at Milwaukee's brand spankin' new Fiserv Forum is against Maryland-Baltimore County -- which last March became the first 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament (when UMBC ruined millions of brackets by taking down Virginia).

Yep, Tuesday is going to be a wild night of flipping back and forth between the game and various networks' election coverage.

Here's hoping I have a lot to smile about. 
^

Friday, September 28, 2018

What's The Supreme Hurry? One Observer's Look At An Incredible Senate Hearing

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Christine Blasey Ford's testimony was entirely credible, and Brett Kavanaugh's defense of his character and actions was passionate. 

The only thing that makes sense now is to do what the American Bar Association advises:  Delay a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court until Ford's claims of Kavanaugh's sexual assault can be thoroughly examined by the FBI.

It's important to note that the ABA has strongly supported Kavanaugh, so this is not some kind of partisan stalling mechanism. It's the right thing to do - period.

+++

UPDATE: Led by Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a handful of Republicans have called for a one-week delay on a full-Senate vote so there can be an FBI investigation into these allegations. 

Even Donald Trump is calling Ford a "credible witness" now.

Maybe it's just for show -- I think we'll be able to tell if that's the case -- but it's definitely progress.

Mostly, it's good to know that Flake and a few other senators read The Baldest Truth!

+++

OK, now that I got my main point out of the way ...

From 10 a.m. until nearly 7 p.m. Thursday, I sat in front of my computer monitor watching this most unique Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about a sexual assault that allegedly took place 36 years ago, when both people were in high school. 

It was the first time I had watched anything like this from beginning to end, only taking breaks when the hearing itself took breaks. It was that riveting. 

I decided that I didn't want to be bombarded by all kinds of banners and bells and commentary, so I watched the stream on the USA Today website. Their video included almost no dramatic graphics or silliness, as I figured streams from CNN, Fox News or other TV outlets might. 

I also did not listen to any commentary during the breaks. I had a dog to take care of, a mouth to feed (my own) and some stuff I had to get done that had nothing to do with the hearing.

Almost immediately after it ended, I left for a poker game at a friend's house, so I did not sit around watching hours of analysis. The hearing was intense enough, and I'm fully capable of coming to my own conclusions; I did not need to listen to what Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity or Wolf Blitzer or Newt Gingrich thought about it.

I am proud to be a registered "Unaffiliated" (what N.C. calls an Independent), and I have done my best to keep an open mind about all of this. 

Here are 20 of my observations and thoughts, roughly in order of how they happened during the hearing:

1. Ford's demeanor was outstanding and her testimony was believable. 

She was obviously nervous and a bit beleaguered, but she willingly answered every question and did not seem to dodge any query - including those from the female lawyer that the 11 white male Republicans on the committee hired to do all of their questioning. 

She repeatedly stated that all she wanted to do was be helpful.

She certainly did not come across as a liar, actress or pretender. The two adjectives that best fit her were "credible" and "courageous."

2. The fact that she brought her allegations to the attention of her local congressperson several days before Donald Trump chose Kavanaugh as his nominee definitely gave her more credibility as both an accuser and a witness.

It showed she wasn't trying to take part in a partisan attack against Trump's choice just because he was Trump's choice. Had the president selected any of the other conservatives on his list, we never would have heard of Ford.

3. It is completely believable that a victim of the kind of attack Ford described from 36 years ago would not remember small, relatively unimportant details pertaining to the hours before and after the incident while remembering even the tiniest details of the act itself. 

For those who dismiss her account simply because it was so long ago - a tactic our cloddish boor of a president used - I ask this question: 

Were the thousands of Catholic boys who were sexually abused by priests - but who didn't give their accounts until decades later out of fear or shame - also liars?

I don't know how anybody could have watched Ford's testimony and come away thinking, "Wow, what a liar!" Indeed, her sincerity and courage shined through so forcefully that even several of the crusty old Republicans on the committee praised her.

4. It's hard to blame Republicans for choosing a female to question Ford. They were almost in a no-win situation, as any aggressive questioning by the 11 white men would have been viewed (probably correctly) as bullying an alleged victim of sexual assault.

However, they can't have been pleased by the work turned in by Arizona sexual crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who if anything helped turn Ford into an even more sympathetic figure. 

Mitchell failed to poke a single hole in Ford's testimony. And near the end, she made excuses for her poor performance by saying how difficult it was to question a witness in 5-minute segments.

I'm not saying this was Mitchell's fault, by the way. She is a prosecutor, so she spends her days trying to get guilty verdicts against those who commit sex crimes. She simply wasn't the right choice for this assignment, although perhaps, given the circumstances, there was no right choice.

Regardless, the Republican senators themselves took over the questioning of Kavanaugh.

5. Ford's recounting of the assault - especially her description of Kavanaugh laughing with a buddy who also was in the room, Mark Judge, both during and after the incident - was both totally believable and intensely compelling. 

As she described the alleged assault, I could almost see it in my mind. It was impossible not to feel sorry for her.

6. Some of Kavanaugh's defenders - including one of his friends - are doing him no favor by ridiculously pitching a "mistaken identity" defense. 

Their claim: OK, maybe Ford was sexually assaulted, but it was by somebody who only looked like Kavanaugh.

How despicable and desperate does that sound?

Asked by Senator Dick Durbin, "With what degree of certainty do you think Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?" Ford leaned into the microphone and strongly stated: 


"100 percent."

She was far more believable than the dopes pushing the "mistaken identity" silliness.

7. Of the details Ford couldn't recall clearly, the only one that surprised me was that she couldn't remember how she got to the party on the night of the alleged assault. (I do understand her not being able to remember how she got home, though.)

Also, while one of her good friends who was at the party has said she believes Ford, the friend also has said she couldn't remember the gathering having taken place at all. Kavanaugh repeatedly brought that up, and I would have, too.

And of course, there were no corroborating witnesses for Ford's account. That's why it's so hard to prove sexual assault. It's also why so many victims don't report the crimes or seek justice. 

8. While Ford's opening statement was short, and her nervousness was obvious, Kavanaugh began by launching a long, passionate, often angry (and a few times tearful) defense of himself. 

Although his voice rose numerous times, and his lip quivered when he got weepy, he mostly sounded like a polished defense attorney, delivering a courtroom statement that sought to refute Ford's claims point-by-point.

When he let himself be vulnerable, I certainly could empathize with the anguish and frustration that any man might have felt after being accused of a heinous act he knew in his heart he didn't commit.

A man I'm very close to was falsely accused of inappropriate behavior a few years back. It devastated him. Even after he was fully exonerated by an investigation, he has never forgotten the hurt of what he calls one of the worst times of his life.

9. That Kavanaugh almost immediately attacked Democrats and praised Trump no doubt helped him with the Republican base, but it irreparably damaged any semblance of the independence he had spent weeks claiming he had. 


This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

It was a blistering, bitter, extremely partisan diatribe.

I wasn't at all surprised that a few Republican senators (especially an irate Lindsey Graham; more on him later) took that tone, but I didn't expect it from a prospective Supreme Court justice fighting a sexual assault allegation.

Given his history as an attack dog for Republicans, most Independents and Democrats already were leery of Kavanaugh's ability to be objective in any rulings he might have if confirmed for the Supreme Court. 

His opening statement left little doubt that they are correct to be leery. He sounded like a Republican politician. Even worse, he sounded like Trump or one of his conspiracy-theory-spouting sycophants.

It was not a good look for a supposedly independent jurist trying to get confirmed to the most important court in the land.

10. Saying you don't remember a party taking place is not the same as the party not taking place.

Kavanaugh tried to use the former as the equivalent of the latter dozens of times ... and he had success doing so. The committee members mostly let him get away with it, so I don't blame him for going back to it repeatedly.

11. Kavanaugh apparently lied about the meaning of a word he used in his yearbook profile: "boofing." 

He claimed it had something to do with "flatulence." It actually is a sexual act. "Devil's Triangle" - another yearbook reference - also has to do with sex, so Kavanaugh was misleading about that as well.

Additionally, there were yearbook statements by Kavanaugh and several of his friends that they were "alumni" of a girl from another school. He tried to say Thursday that it was a term of endearment, but it almost surely meant that the boys were claiming to have had sex with her. That's certainly how the girl - now a woman - understood it in recent interviews.

I don't want to make too much of the juvenile yearbook stuff of teenage boys ... but why lie about it under oath?

12. If you didn't already know it before Thursday, you know it now:

BRETT KAVANAUGH REALLY, REALLY LIKES HIS BEER. 

He said words to that effect ... oh ... about 300 times. 

Although a few Democratic senators, most notably Amy Klobuchar, pressed him on the subject, even citing statements from Kavanaugh's college friends that he was often drunk off his arse, I didn't think the senators were forceful enough in general. They let him either change the subject or simply get away with dismissing it with some form of, "I like beer."

Perhaps the single most unbelievable part of Kavanaugh's testimony was that he was absolutely certain that he had never, ever, ever blacked out from drinking. 

He testified that he liked beer a ton, that he drank regularly and sometimes to excess, that he started drinking when he was young, and that he often drank so much he had to puke. And he admitted that sometimes he fell asleep after drinking. 

But we're supposed to believe that he never blacked out one single time during all of these drinking episodes?

Of course, if he did admit it could have happened, it would have opened the door to the possibility of him committing a sexual assault and not remembering it.  

Klobuchar was one senator who at least took a shot at the subject, gently asking Kavanaugh if he had ever blacked out. Kavanaugh took a condescending tone, shooting back: "I don't know, have you?"

A short recess followed Klobuchar's questioning, and upon returning to the proceedings, Kavanaugh apologized. So either Kavanaugh knew he sounded like an overly defensive jerk, or somebody told him he did and strongly recommended that he apologize.

13. Hey, I like beer, too. I was too much of a goody-two-shoes in high school to do much drinking then, but I more than made up for it when I was in college. And I enjoy a craft beer (or 2) now.

However, I'm not a Supreme Court nominee, and I don't need to be (as the old saying goes) "as sober as a judge." 

Does this guy have a drinking problem? It's a legitimate question.

14. Kavanaugh suggested that he couldn't possibly have had a black-out-type drinking problem or that he didn't party on weeknights because he was a serious student, both in high school and college.

Well, one of my good friends at Marquette had roughly this routine:


9 a.m., wake up ... 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., class ... 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., study ... 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., dinner ... 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., study ... 9 pm. to 2 a.m., drink and smoke dope to excess ... 2 a.m., pass out. 

Day after day, week after week, that's what my friend did with few exceptions. He also was a straight-A student, and he has been a very successful businessman for years.

I couldn't do it, but some people can. My friend could. According to many of his Yale classmates, Kavanaugh could, too.

15. Given that Ford brought her accusation both to her congressperson and to the Washington Post on her own, I'm surprised Democrats on the panel mostly let Kavanaugh get away with suggesting that Dems had put her up to the whole thing as part of some conspiracy.

I would have asked, "If you're so sure that Dr. Ford was part of a partisan hit job to crush the president's nominee, why did she contact her congressperson with this BEFORE you were the nominee? Why wouldn't she have waited until you were the nominee? Why didn't she (or other Democratic operatives) try the exact same tactics with Neil Gorsuch, the very conservative, Trump-appointed judge who was confirmed for the Supreme Court last year?"

16. Kavanaugh made a big deal out of a calendar he started keeping when he was a teenager that served as both a planner and a diary.

It was an effective method to show his busy schedule, and the fact that it included plans for some of the parties he went to gave it a feeling of authenticity. 

He used it to help show that he wasn't around much in the summer of 1982, when the assault allegedly took place, and he tried to claim that there were no weekends in the middle of that summer where he took part in parties.

However, as reporters for several Web sites have since pointed out, on July 1, 1982, leading into Fourth of July weekend, Kavanaugh's calendar said he went "to Timmy's for skis w/Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi."

"Skis" were "brewskis." Judge was Mark Judge, the friend of Kavanaugh's whom Ford said was in the room when the assault took place. PJ was another Kavanaugh friend Ford also said was at the gathering. Ford said all of that before any of us knew that Kavanaugh's calendar existed.

So was Kavanaugh lying?

None of the senators, either Republicans or Democrats, asked Kavanaugh about this discrepancy in his testimony. Maybe no one noticed it, which also doesn't speak well of their ability to ask important questions.

17. A few Democrats on the panel, most notably Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Patrick Leahy and Kamala Harris, did a decent job pressing Kavanaugh and trying to get him to stick to facts.

All too often, though, the senators let him get away with changing the subject or simply not answering questions.

And while I get the reason they want the FBI to investigate Ford's accusation - I do too, as I already have stated - they hammered at Kavanaugh far too much about it. 

He's not the one who can call for an investigation ... and even if he asked Trump to call for one - as a couple of senators implored him to do - Trump wouldn't do it.

18. The Democratic senator who came out looking the worst was Diane Feinstein, who had been told by Ford about the alleged assault more than a month ago and who had pledged not to reveal Ford's identity.

Not only did Ford's name get out - turning her life upside down, leading to death threats, upsetting her kids - but Feinstein sat on the information until the 11th hour before springing it on her fellow senators.

It gave the appearance of a partisan hack job by Feinstein and the Democrats. That's exactly what it was, and the shame of it is that Ford was made to look guilty by association.

Kavanaugh repeatedly said that the Democrats could have had their FBI investigation a month ago if Feinstein had gone to the FBI with the allegations. And I agree.

The Democrats could come to regret their tactics if and when they get back in power and they try to get their president's next Supreme Court pick confirmed.

19. Lindsey Graham is sometimes accused of being a "RINO" because he often has been willing to work across the aisle. That's a good thing in my estimation, but it's seen as a black mark to far-right extremists.

Well, he certainly solidified his far-right cred with his blistering takedown of Democrats when he took the microphone.

Calling it "the most despicable thing I have seen in my time with politics," he said Democrats wanted "to destroy this guy's life, hold his seat open, and hope you win (the presidency) in 2020. Boy, you guys want power. God, I hope you never get it."

He also went out of his way to point out that he voted for Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - President Obama's two liberal Supreme Court nominees.

(Of course, he didn't mention that he was party to the highly respected Merrick Garland being denied even a Senate hearing after Obama nominated Garland with almost a year left in his presidency.)

Graham ran against Trump for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, and was critical of Trump early on after the election, but he has become one of the president's allies. And his performance Thursday definitely will help his standing with the Republican base.

Later on, he claimed that he believed Ford ... but that the attacker wasn't Kavanaugh. Again, the "mistaken identity" defense. Weak.

I'm pretty sure that if Kavanaugh punched Graham in the face, Graham would not think somebody else did it.

20. Kavanaugh is obviously an intelligent man and has been involved in jurisprudence for decades. 

That didn't stop him from repeatedly trying to claim that a short statement written by an attorney on Mark Judge's behalf was the equivalent of an independent FBI investigation and/or testimony under oath before the Senate.

Kavanaugh even tried to blame alcohol addiction for any poor behavior by his friend.

I want to hear from this guy, Mark Judge. He supposedly was in the room when a nominee for the highest court in the land committed sexual assault. He should be interviewed by the FBI, and he should be subpoenaed by Congress and compelled to testify.

Yes, the FBI already has looked thoroughly into Kavanaugh's background. But its officers have not had a chance to do so since these very credible allegations have come to light.

+++

Bottom line:

If I were a Republican senator who wasn't a total partisan hack, and if I cared at all about both the truth and the sanctity of the Supreme Court, I would tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay the vote until after a full FBI investigation.

That's apparently exactly what happened, thanks to Flake and a few other Republicans who were on the fence after Thursday's testimony.

I'm impressed that Trump agreed to it - every once in a very great while, he does give us a pleasant surprise.

Here's hoping that this isn't just a head fake to placate a few Republicans, that it's a legitimate investigation. There were enough inconsistencies (and maybe even misleading statements) from Kavanaugh to warrant an extra look.
^





Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Racist School Superintendents For $200, Alex

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A Texas school district's superintendent named Lynn Redden apparently wasn't happy that Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans lost 20-17 to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. So he posted this comment under a Houston Chronicle article on Facebook:
"That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I've seen in the NFL. When you need precision decision making you can't count on a black quarterback."
As you can see in THIS ARTICLE, this effen bozo tried to defend himself in two ways:

1. He said he thought he was talking in private to a friend. 

Because, you know, it's OK for a school superintendent (or anybody else) to be a racist as long as he practices his "craft" in private.

2. As part of his non-apology apology, Redden said black quarterbacks "have had limited success" throughout the league's history. 

Yep, keep digging, buddy. You're gonna need a bigger shovel.

The Onalaska Independent School District board is meeting Saturday to discuss the issue (and, theoretically, Redden's future), but as THIS ARTICLE shows, several parents are supporting their racist superintendent.

Cindi Rivera, whose daughter attended school in the district for 13 years before graduating in 2017, said ... Redden is a man of integrity and strong morals. His Facebook comment shocked her, she said, because she hasn't heard him make any racist or defamatory comments to students or parents. She still backs him as a person: "He helped all of us raise our kids. This man backs every single student."

Well, there's nothing like a helpful racist with integrity!

The Texans rallied around Watson and ripped Redden, with coach Bill O'Brien saying: 
"Deshaun represents everything that's right about football and life. It's amazing that BS exists, but it does."
Actually, it's not very amazing at all.

What's amazing is that there really are yahoos who believe that racism no longer exists ... and even total dopes who contend that "reverse racism" (whatever that is) is a bigger problem in America than actual racism.

It's 2018, folks, and we still have a LOOOOONG way to go.
^

Monday, September 17, 2018

Florence Clears Out, And We're A-OK

^
Hey everybody ... it's all good!

After fearing the worst, our brick home in suburban Charlotte stood up against Florence's fury and performed wonderfully.


Not a drop of water inside, and no damage on our lot. There is cleanup to do, but it's not bad. We know we're so, so lucky compared to the death and destruction Florence wrought on other parts of the Carolinas, particularly the coastal areas.

Simmie and I took a walk around the neighborhood a little while ago and it appeared damage was minimal. A few trees fell, but it didn't appear any fell on houses, fences or other expensive structures. This despite our town leading the entire county in rainfall during the 48-hour storm, some 10.7 inches. (We're No. 1!)

There were reports of numerous streets in the metro area closed by flooding, fallen trees, etc., but Robbie got to work just fine this morning -- good thing for the sick kids and families she helps as part of her every workday.

Thanks to the many family and friends who inquired about our situation. It's always nice to know people care.

The only negative was that we didn't lose power ... meaning I had to watch my Panthers lose a tough one to the hated Falcons! Of course, I also got to watch the Patriots lose, so it wasn't all bad!!

+++

Speaking of football, I happened to catch the end of the Packers-Vikings game and I saw what hopefully will be the worst officiating call of the season.


(Video from Fox TV via YouTube)

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews put a textbook hit on Kirk Cousins just as the Vikings QB was releasing a pass. The ball floated and was intercepted by Green Bay's Jaire Alexander to seemingly clinch the Packers' victory.

But referee Tony Corrente whistled Matthews for roughing the passer, and, given a reprieve, Minnesota went on to tie the game.

Matthews didn't hit Cousins high, didn't hit Cousins low, didn't hit Cousins late, didn't hit Cousins with excessive force, didn't use his helmet to hit Cousins and didn't drive Cousins to the ground.

I am not one to blame officials very often. Heck, I officiate youth baseball and basketball games myself, so I know how difficult it can be. Almost always, a team has chances to overcome even the worst calls, and certainly the Packers could have won this game despite Corrente's flag. 

Still, this was a truly horrible call, and it played a huge role in preventing a deserving team from winning.

As Cousins himself said: 

“I’m sure it was probably a generous call."

Yes, if "generous" is a synonym for brutally bad.
^

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Damn You, Florence! How The Nadels Are Getting Ready

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Hurricanes and other natural disasters suck.

There. I said it. You can always count on me to tackle the tough debates of our time!

With Florence bearing down on the Carolina coastline even as I write this, Roberta and I have been touched by all of those who have reached out to us. Family, friends and even people on the interwebs that we never have met have inquired about how we're doing and have wished us well. A bazillion thanks!

When our son Ben called yesterday and asked if I was worried, I responded:


Of course I'm worried! Both of the Panthers' offensive tackles are hurt ... and I don't want Cam to have to run for his life!! Greg Olsen's hurt, too, dammit! And I might have to scramble to find a place to watch Sunday's game!


You know, if I have to miss seeing us beat the Falcons, this will be the worst Florence since Henderson!!

But seriously, folks ... here's what I can tell everybody as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13:

++ Charlotte is well inland. We will not get anything close to the worst of Florence. I am deeply concerned about our friends who live on the coast or close to it, and I hope they are doing everything possible to protect their most valuable asset: their lives.

++ The very latest update I read has Florence now a Category 2 hurricane that figures to hit sometime tomorrow somewhere between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach. It then is expected to move slowly inland to the south and west. 

++ This is the image that was on the Charlotte Observer website, featuring what was expected of the storm track as of 11 a.m. Thursday:



++ It will weaken gradually, but "weaken" is a relative term. It will bring torrential rain and high winds throughout the Carolinas, with the Columbia area right in the path.

++ Forecasters believe Florence will pass well south and west of Charlotte, but it is a very wide storm and we still will get a lot of rain and wind. 

++ Most projections are for rain and wind to move in here sometime Saturday, with Sunday being the worst day. Experts are calling for 5-8 inches of rain in the area -- that's a ton to fall within only a 48-hour window -- as well as winds of 30-50 mph. 

I have two primary concerns for how Robbie and I could be directly affected:


  1. We do not live in a flood plain, nor are we near any large bodies of water or creeks. Still, our backyard tends to get waterlogged very quickly even if there's only a relatively short but hard rain. Plus, our driveway at the front of our house has a gradual decline leading to our garage. So I am a little concerned that we could get some water in the house, possibly through the garage. We have lived here for 7 1/2 years and have never had a drop of water get into the house from a storm, but we also have never experienced a storm like this.
  2. As with everybody else in the area, we could experience a major power outage that could last for days.


Both of those outcomes would be unpleasant and inconvenient, but they shouldn't be life-threatening. And they hopefully will be relatively easily remedied after the storm passes.

We don't expect to have to drive through flooded streets or, really, to do much at all outside our house. We're prepared to "batten down the hatches" and "hunker down" and all those other cliches.

We are well-stocked with necessary provisions: candles, flashlights, batteries, ice, drinking water, etc. We have more peanut butter than some grocery stores (I really like peanut butter), and plenty of other non-perishable foods to keep ourselves nourished. 



We have beer in the fridge, too. If we lose electricity, we might have to make the ultimate sacrifice and drink a lot of it before it gets warm. 

If we lose power, we will be able to cook and heat stuff on our gas grill once the wind dies down, and we have a spare propane tank. 

Both cars have full tanks of gas, we have taken down all hanging plants, bird feeders, potted plants, etc, and we either already have or soon will move inside anything else that could blow around our yard. It doesn't look like either we or our next-door neighbors have trees that could fall on our house.

I'm not sure what else we can do at this point except think positively and stay prepared.

I will try to keep people posted, but if we lose power I'm not sure how easy that will be. If anybody tries to call and I don't answer, it might just be because my phone is out of juice, so don't call in the National Guard on our behalf.

Worst-case scenario ... we end up in Oz.



I hear Munchkins actually are quite tasty as long as one has plenty of peanut butter available for spreading on them and beer available to wash them down ... so no worries!
^

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Black and White of Trump's America

The Florida gubernatorial campaign started in earnest this week after the primaries produced two surprise candidates: a white Republican named Ron DeSantis who was personally chosen by Donald Trump, and a black Democrat named Andrew Gillum who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders.
And here's what the white guy said in his first Fox News interview:
"You know, he is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views and he's a charismatic candidate. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state."
So, in his very first national comment about his opponent, DeSantis managed to get in both ARTICULATE and MONKEY. He could have used thousands of other words, but he carefully selected those.
Bravo, sir! Way to stir up the racist base!
When called on it, naturally DeSantis feigned ignorance and his apologists feigned outrage:
How could anybody even think think this was about race? "Articulate" is a compliment! Our hero obviously wasn't calling his opponent a "monkey"! It's absurd that anybody could possibly think the white guy was intentionally using dog-whistle terms when talking about the black guy! If anything, this is reverse racism, which as everybody knows is worse than actual racism!
In Trump's America, racists and misogynists and anti-Semites need not sneak around in the shadows. They need not wear hoods. They need not work behind the scenes to push their divisive agenda.
No, they are free to come right out into the open and do their thing ... whether it's "some very fine people" marching with torches and chanting "blood and soil" ... or a white gubernatorial candidate using "monkey" in his first public comment about his black opponent.

Monday, August 27, 2018

McCain remembered ... 8 years in NC ... kids show adults how to behave ... another mass shooting by a white guy

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Since John McCain died Saturday, many are sharing their favorite memories of the Vietnam War hero and U.S. senator from Arizona.

Mine comes from a town hall meeting that was held in a Minneapolis suburb shortly before the 2008 election.

A man took the microphone and said, "Frankly, we're scared of an Obama presidency." 

McCain's response:

First of all, I want to be president of the United States, and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be. But I have to tell you: He is a decent person, and a person who you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.

There was some grumbling in the crowd, and an older woman took the mic: “I can’t trust Obama. I’ve read about him, and … he’s an Arab!”

McCain shook his head, took back the mic, and responded:

No, Ma’am. No, Ma’am. He’s a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that’s what this campaign is all about.

For those interested, here's a YouTube clip of those exchanges:





You just don't find that kind of decency in politics any more. Heck, it's difficult to find that kind of decency outside of politics here in the Divided States of America. 

I'll always respect John McCain for that, and more. He was a great American.

+++

This week marks the 8-year anniversary of me and Roberta moving from Chicago to Charlotte.

Our N.C. experience has been interesting. When we arrived, the state was considered the "Progressive New South." Politically, it was purple, having voted narrowly for Barack Obama in 2008 but populated by millions of conservatives, too. 

Republicans gained big all over the nation in the 2010 midterms, and nowhere was the gain bigger than in my new state. Less than 3 months after we arrived, the GOP assumed control. They used their new-found power to gerrymander the hell out of every voting district. They have passed one draconian law after another -including many that courts have struck down as racist or homophobic - making the state not very welcoming politically to Independents like me and to Democrats.

Politics aside, I do like much about where we live. Our neighbors are nice, our weather is mostly great, Roberta gets tremendous satisfaction from her challenging job, I have enjoyed coaching basketball here, we like the craft-beer scene and some other social things, and we have made many good friends. And even though folks here complain about the traffic, it is a breeze compared to what we left behind in Chicago.

Nevertheless, I honestly don't see us making this our permanent home. For one thing, our kids are too far away. But I wouldn't be surprised if we spend 8 more years here before we go.

Bottom line: If I were rating our NC experience, I'd borrow a word the kids today like to use: It's been "aiight."

+++

Obama, who opposed McCain for the presidency in 2008, will speak at McCain's funeral.

Joe Biden, who as Obama's vice-presidential nominee often criticized McCain's policies, will speak at the funeral.

George W. Bush, who went toe-to-toe with McCain for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, will speak at McCain's funeral.

Donald Trump? He was asked by McCain's family to stay far, far away.

How big a jerk must a sitting president be to specifically be asked not to attend the funeral of a U.S. senator and war hero?

Nuff said.

+++

I really enjoyed the Little League World Series this year. The winning team, Hawaii, played spectacularly. More than that, they were among the many participants who showed exemplary sportsmanship throughout the event.



(AP Photo)

They all made America look really good, and the international teams were fine ambassadors for their countries, too.

Now, if more adults would only take a cue!

+++

Yet another mass shooting - this time at a gaming event in Jacksonville, Fla.

Where is the president to demand that all white males be deported?

I mean, white men just keep shooting into crowds, gunning down our fellow Americans, so obviously we all have to go.

But hey ... we've had a pretty good run, haven't we, boys?
^

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Trumpian Logic

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Here's Donald Trump on July 18, 2015, talking about. U.S. Sen. John McCain, who spent 5 1/2 years in a North Vietnamese prison (after courageously refusing to use his father's influence to be freed if it meant those with him would be left behind):

He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.

(An hour later, Trump being Trump, he denied saying McCain wasn't a war hero - yep, denied the exact words he just said! Deferment Don also couldn't remember which foot supposedly had the bone spurs that kept the coward from having to serve.)


Photo from AFP/Getty Images

Now, here's Trump on August 22, 2018, talking about Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, who probably will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of 8 felonies:

I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. "Justice" took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a "deal." Such respect for a brave man!


Photo from Getty Images

So, to recap ...

Deferment Don has no respect for a decorated war hero who volunteered to serve his country. Because, you know, that man was captured.

But he has "such respect" for a multiple-count felon who served nobody except Trump (and himself). Even though, you know, that man was captured.

McCain is not heroic ... but Manafort is "brave."

This is the world according to dishonest, egomaniacal, dangerously ignorant Donald Trump, the most corrupt president ever.
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