Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Hammer's College Football Roundup: Week 13

It was a high old time in Charlottesville last evening as the mighty Fighting Fops of the University of Virginia took it to a lackluster Miami Hurricane squad in the foothills of the Shenandoah Valley. There's hasn't been a bigger upset in that neck of the woods since Stonewall Jackson was tormenting the hapless Yankee interlopers in the Valley Campaign of 1862. Our blog host CW was in attendance and captured the moment of unbridled ecstasy exhibited by the Wahoo faithful acting as if they had beaten the Miami of Vinny Testaverde, Bennie Blades and Alonzo Highsmith. Alas many on the 6-5 Hurricanes wouldn't make the practice squad on those great Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson or Dennis Erickson teams. But not to be insulting, it was a great win for Virginia. Unfortunately it's probably too little too late for Coach London as he showed himself to be a complete idiot on at least one occasion. Hey Coach, learn how to tell time why dontcha?

This being the week before "rivalry" week not much was shaking. Ole Miss has crashed and burned, UCLA beat USC in a "who cares" matchup and Florida State is still winning ugly.

The Western Carolina Catamounts took a trip down to Alabama to play the Tide, and well you know. So, why do we get these "tune-up" games this late in the year you might ask. Simple, the conferences mandate it. You see too often we'd get a powerhouse team scheduling their bye week the week before their big game, thereby giving them two weeks to prepare. That's fine as long as both (for example) Alabama AND Auburn take their bye weeks at the same time. But too often they didn't and this of course gave an unfair advantage. So everybody kicked up bloody friggin' murder and the big boys started scheduling Al's Barber College the week before the big one; hence, Auburn played Samford (SAMford NOT Stanford) and 'Bama played those half-baked dope smokers from Cullowhee (actually fully baked, at least most of 'em). So there you go sports fans.

Well that's it, as I said it's been a slow week. Thank God UVA is playing Va Tech in Blacksburg next week! If it were a home game and they won they'd probably be rioting in the streets! C-ya.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Congratulations Carolina! Now Quit the BS!

UNC breezed into Wallace Wade Thursday night and hung one on a stumbling Duke 45-20. It was a good win for Carolina, one in which I'm sure they used the current scandal to motivational advantage. As you are well aware Carolina has been experiencing some institutional improprieties that threaten the university's worldwide reputation for excellence along with their entire athletic program of course. Now if you know me you know I'm a compassionate, forgiving individual with a heart of gold, and I do feel somewhat bad for the current crop of Tar Heel players and coaches, after all they didn't do anything wrong (I would like to think anyway). But as an institution I'm afraid many of these people just don't get it.

There's a local blogger who goes by the name of Bob Lee. Now Bob is a fellow Tickbitian who went to the city and made good. He's a UNC grad (class of WTF knows, he's OLD), a conservative politically, a shit writer and a Grade A first class asshole. But he's well thought of and has a large cadre of fans who read his tripe regularly so what do I know? Anyway, he being a tapped in Tar Heel kinda guy got hold of an email to the UNC Athletic Director from some very prominent alums (many sit on the UNC Board of Governors) complaining...(wait for it)....not about the current academic scandal and the resulting fallout, no friends, they're upset about (I will quote Bob Lee directly):  "Amid this Historic Tumult in which this University community is dog-paddling to stay afloat, these privileged powerbrokers are insisting that Bubba Cunningham and Larry Fedora reorder their current priorities.   Bubba and Larry are, they contend, 'inflicting irreparable damage to the brand of Tar Heel Football' by tinkering with Kenan fashion tradition." 
What? Your worried about uniforms? WTF is going on here?

Sarge, I need a dentist. I just stepped on a land mine and my lower leg is probably about three blocks over but I've got a wicked case of gingivitis that needs attention.

So let's review, the school's reputation is perhaps "irreparably damaged", the drip drip drip of bad news has continued for three years running, the beloved and revered basketball problem is in peril, the accreditation people are all over their asses, they're getting sued left right and center, and the powers that be at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are worried about God-damn uniforms? You couldn't invent this shit.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Aw, what's the matter friend?  Your President decide that he isn't bound by that silly old Constitution?  Can't abide by all the Christmas decorations already?  Six feet of snow got you down?

Get it off your chest!  Out with the bad, in with the good!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Re-shaping Obamacare

I saw an article on Facebook this morning that gave two stories about the impact of Obamacare on DC area small business, one positive and one negative.  I posted it, and this comment:

"See, this is the thing. A "thriving insurance market for small businesses and individuals" is not the same thing as "Obamacare". We didn't need Obamacare to get the kind of coverage that the Whitfield's now enjoy. Except that no one--and I am talking to my Republican friends too--seemed terribly interested in making such a market happen through changes to existing regulation, etc. And so, in this monster that is Obamacare, there are people who are very, very happy with what the law has brought them, and they should be. Just the other day, the CEO of Uber talked about how the law has been a boon to his business, as the law's provisions for the purchase of insurance for individuals has helped create a ready market of drivers who are essentially, private contractors. While we Republicans are busy with our 2 yard-line dance (not quite in the end-zone) over Jonathan Gruber's revelations of the Obama team's legislative playbook, we need to realize that there is a not insignificant group of people who have benefited from this law. They need to be considered as we look to reform the healthcare system in positive ways. And we need to take responsibility for the fact that prior to January 2009, we simply did not care enough about this issue to get something done."

Now, I know that this may raise Mudge's hackles, but after Republicans go through the theater ONE TIME of "repealing" Obamacare--which will not be successful, they need to begin to make improvements to it that are in alignment with our values and that retain the parts of the law that are popular with a broad spectrum of Americans.  Here's how one comment on my Facebook post put it:

"As a Navy reserve officer, I've had access to insurance independent from my "main" employer for years. The freedom to switch jobs, go on orders, start a business or take time to take care of family while keeping the same insurance, rates, doctors and network is huge. The alternative is staying in a job you hate, paying huge COBRA fees (for a limited time) to maintain insurability if you have a pre-existing condition, and finding new doctors (if you can) for your new network."

We cannot forget that the 2008 Republican Presidential candidate DID in fact run on a platform that broke the connection between one's employment and insurance coverage.  This relic of WWII does not serve our increasingly labor-mobile economy at all.  Obamacare has provided just such a system, but the bad things about the bill kept Republicans from voting for any of the good things.  So let's move forward and begin changing the things that ought to be changed while we recognize the real hunger out there in our society for people to feel safely insured irrespective of their employment situation.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Hammer's College Football Review: Week 12 (Bob Devaney spinning in his grave edition)

Are people in Mini-soda badasses or what? Look at my man there. It's snowing like Stalingrad, probably about 17 degrees, a Bud Grant kind of weather day for sure and on the sidelines Coach is knocking back a pre-game Dove bar. That gentlemen is how you intimidate your opponents! Unfortunately for the Gophers they were playing Ohio State so it didn't turn out all that well, but I appreciate the gesture. Watching that game brought me back to the old Bloomington days of my youth with Joe Kapp and Alan Page and the flame-thrower turf de-icing contraptions thawing the painted "grass". Brother that was a home field advantage for sure. Those were the days!

Well...big news kids, #1 ain't #1 anymore. Missississippi State ran into Roll Tide in Tuscaloosa and did not, I repeat DID NOT look anything like #1. It was a pipe-dream anyway. No way Missississippi State is gonna go undefeated in the SEC...not a chance in hell! So, considering late losses count more than early losses it's safe to say the Bulldogs are done. That last game with Ole Miss doesn't look that important anymore.
Guess who's coming up though, that's right the other Bulldogs...Georgia. Todd Gurley is back from his Heisman killing suspension and looked ok, he did twist his knee late but he's fine I think. Anyway Georgia spanked a demoralized Auburn between the hedges. You know I've never been to Athens, Georgia, but they sure love their football down there.
LSU took the day off in Fayetteville 17-0. What the hell is that about? South Carolina put the last nail in Coach Muskrat's coffin and Misery got by Texas A&M.
Do you get the feeling college football, apart from a few notable exceptions is just all about SEC football? How else does one explain an undefeated national champion, on a 25 game undefeated streak, being ranked BEHIND a SEC team? Look I'm well aware the SEC plays the best football by far, and I certainly don't have a problem with a SEC team being on top, but they had the wrong team all along and most people know that. If they didn't they sure as hell know it now.

In ACC action (is that the right word "action"?) Duke hooked a field goal in the final seconds to lose to Va. Tech. UNC beat a sorry-ass Pitt and Clemson's quarterback got injured early and they fell apart against Ga. Tech. Hey man, WE WON ONE! That's right, the Wolfpack beat Wake Forest like we was their daddy. I'm PUMPED! FSU keeps playing with fire, starting off like shit and winning in the second half. These guys are good but man they're gonna get reamed sooner or later playing like that!

Let me ax you something? What do you think of when I say a hundred a quarter? I personally think of my retirement portfolio but in Wisconsin it means "Nebraska can't tackle". The Badger's Melvin Gordon (never heard of him either) put up 408 yards against a Cornhusker defense that must have thought this was tag football. Good Grief, is he that good or is Nebraska that bad?
Q: What is arguably the best defense in the history of college football? A: Bob Devaney's 1971 Nebraska squad (13-0). They had three shutouts that year, seven more where they allowed seven points or less and only one game where more than 17 points were scored, and that was against the 11-1 Greg Pruitt led Oklahoma Sooners 35-31 (often called the game of the century). All the while averaging about 40 points a game culminating in a 38 -6 win over Bear Bryant's #2 Alabama in the Orange Bowl. If you happen to be from Nebraska you may throw up now.

So, where are we in terms of final four? You'd have to put in Ohio State just based on tv, politics etc., Flawda State of course unless they screw up, which doesn't appear likely. I don't know who's coming out of the SEC but the best team right now is without a doubt Alabama. Then who knows, TCU, Oregon, Baylor, it's hard to say. If I had to guess I'd say Oregon, again based on tv, politics etc.

We'll see, but we're coming up on rivalry week with is like a last football-gasm and a chance for losers to redeem themselves. I'm looking forward to State-Carolina this year. We both suck BADLY so it's a toss-up.

That's all I got, now you can turn on Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long and listen to their scripted bullshit, fake laughs and rehearsed ad libs. C-ya.

Reagan National Defense Forum Day 2

Forgive me if this reads rushed, as I am trying to get it down before the battery expires, having forgotten to bring its charger, the mouse and the mouse pad in my haste two mornings ago

A full day yesterday at the Reagan Library began early with a quick 15 minute drive from my hotel.  First though, I had to caffeinate, which meant a little trip around Westlake looking for the coffee shop indicated on Yelp.  This place (Westlake) is designed much like Reston, for those familiar with that place in Northern Virginia.  Lots of hills and embankments, behind which hide the nasty, dirty, places of commerce which in other places, sit proudly streetside.  So ferreting out the shop was no easy task, but success was earned and a four shot latte was the prize.

After a quick drive to the Library, I parked and hopped into line with the well-heeled Republican-looking bunch also obsessed with arriving places early.  I nosed around the open space of the Library for a bit, reacquainting myself with the memories I made a year earlier, and then proceeded down to the first floor for the breakfast session.  I sat at a table near the stairs down from the main entrance, a propitious decision as I was able to greet friends and colleagues as they descended.  Many of the folks I worked with on the Romney Campaign were here, and a good number of other folks I work with in the DC Vast Right Wing Conspiracy also attended.  I sat with a good friend who does many of the same things I do for a living, and consumed a Nerf Football sized breakfast burrito that was brought to me.  As I ate, a kindly woman sat down next to me and said, "good morning, I'm Kay Granger."  Representative Granger was a delight to talk with, and we covered a number of subjects including her recent re-election, her work as Vice Chair of the Defense Appropriations Committee, and her obvious joy at the success of the Republican Party ten days ago.

For the rest of the day, I attended the sessions that were in the agenda I posted yesterday.  Two really stood out--the first was a panel of Wall Street types--bankers, investors, and private equity men--who gave their views of the defense space.  I find Wall Street fascinating, and I have always been a little envious of those who have positioned themselves to make money based on their knowledge and experience.  The second panel to recount was the penultimate of the day, and it was powerful.  Bush II National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Leon Panetta, Bob Gates, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Senator John McCain, with a moderator for NBS News.  A couple of take aways.

Panetta and Gates pull no punches in their disappointment in Barack Obama (obviously, something this crowd was all too happy to hear), which is something one would expect to hear from McCain (and we did), but is still somewhat jarring when it comes from two men who served as Obama's Defense Secretary.  Both Gates and Panetta have written books, and both have received criticism for their criticism of the President--primarily from those who would have them wait until the President's term is over before opening fire.  Secretary Jeh Johnson was somewhat of a tethered goat in the affair, as a serving cabinet officer in the Obama Administration and having been both men's top lawyer at Defense during their terms.  I had thought the comments would have made the news today, but my brief scan finds no mention.

The second thing I found interesting was Stephen Hadley's descriptions of his interaction with George W. Bush.  You know I have great esteem for GWB, but it was only increased by Hadley's views.  There was great wisdom and conscience at work in that man, and I continue to believe historians will treat his Presidency with more respect than the press has.

The final speaker of the day was Secretary of Defense Hagel who continues to underwhelm, and who gave a speech that appeared to have been alien to him before he stood up to read it.  Many times during delivery, it sounded as if he reached the end of a line, or a page, and paused oddly mid-sentence.

After the day ended, I joined some friends at a local watering hole for a bit and then headed back to the hotel to watch back episodes of Once Upon a Time.  Because that's how I roll.  I need to leave for the airport in just over an hour, which is just over an hour away.  I have a couple of books with me including GWB's new book on his father.

All in all, a great trip.  Next year's version of this affair will be dominated by election issues, and I look forward with great anticipation to it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

On The Road Again: Reagan National Defense Forum

Many thanks to The Hammer for stepping up yesterday to fill the gaping hole in our lives left by my failure to post a BFFFFA.  I must say, his choice of photo was stunning.  I find myself at computer greeting the morning here in Westlake Village, CA, dashing off this quick post before performing my toilette and then heading to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for the Reagan National Defense Forum.  Here's the lineup of events for the day, and then many of the Romney Defense Policy Committee folks will reunite to raise a cup of cheer, and another of schadenfreude.

The creators of this gathering want it to grown into something of a Defense Davos, where all the biggies will come for a day or so of conversation, elbow rubbing, and bowing and scraping.  They've done an able job in the two years the Forum has existed in getting a great bill of fare, and I would like to see it grow into exactly what they seek.  For now, it is the premier gathering of right of center defense policy types, and it is a must do on my calendar.

Sometime late Wednesday, I realized that I had boxed myself in preparation-wise, for this trip.  I was about to get to bed when I realized that I would have to get up at 0500 and be on my way to DC on Thursday, and that I would not get home until after 2200 on Thursday evening (teaching).  Then I would have to get up again at 0500 on Friday to get to Dulles for my flight to LA.  I had not packed.  I had not prepared.  I had in fact, done nothing.  So when I arrived home on Thursday evening, a good deal of scurrying about went on to get ready for what was admittedly, a pretty quick trip back and forth to California.

So I packed Thursday night.  Pretty easy kill.  But I had a few things to do on my computer still before leaving the next morning, so I hustled through the routine Friday morning and got myself into the mancave to download hotel, rental car, information.  And of course, my receipt/ticket for the Forum itself.  Which I could not find.  I usually cut/paste such thing into my outlook calendar for the associated event,but none was there.  I was distraught.  So I went to the event website to see if I could sign up still, thinking that it was entirely possible that I had not even signed up, that I was so far ahead of the curve in early August when I made my flight reservation, that perhaps registration had not even been open yet.  Of course, the sign up link on the site had been disabled.

All the while, the clock is ticking, I have a hundred and four miles to drive to Dulles during rush hour, and I am already a bit of a Time Nazi.  I eventually ran across the electronic receipt for the Forum in my "expenses" file, got on the road, got into a bit of traffic on the north side of the beltway, but made it to the airport in time to grab a sandwich for the flight.

Of note, I believe my bitching about the lack of an X-ray scanner at the TSA Pre line last flight appears to have been successful, as there it was, a functioning AIT machine when I approached the line.  I took to Twitter shortly after making it through security to pass props to the TSA Twitter Minder who responded to my omnidirectional bitches a few weeks ago.  He seemed delighted to be publicly praised on The Twitter, and took great pride in his accomplishment.  Who says government can't do anything right?  Well, me for one, Usually.

I arrived at LAX, which fifty years ago must have looked good, but which now (like JFK) is an eyesore.  I had about a sixty mile drive from LAX in my rental (Hertz, Stall 281) and so enjoyed the Southern California freeway view for a while.  I said it last year when I wrote from here--you could easily be in Israel or Spain, or some other Mediterranean landscape, as you drive through SoCal.  I really like it, quite a bit.  I like driving by roadsigns that mark places of significance in our pop culture, though I have no intention of seeing what lies upon those roads.

Got to the Hotel at about 1430 after stopping by a hole in the wall Chinese joint nearby, one I discovered my last trip here.  I need to remember next time that the dumplings were substandard.  Checked in with plenty of time before my 1600 massage (wasn't too time compressed to schedule that---priorities, friend.  Priorities.) so I had a nap.  The massage was good, excellent head and neck work, and I emerged from the little treatment room with a steely determination to continue to loaf the rest of the day, passing up little platoons of right wingers gathering for dinner and conviviality in favor of a steak and a bottle of fizzy water in my room.  I grow more introverted as I age, something that likely will deal my political aspirations the death blow.  The attraction, of a quick bite, a chat with the Kitten, and then blessed snoozing beginning at 2100 was gravitational, especially since I knew that my internal clock would mess me up today (first wake up at 0330, though I did snooze until 0500).

Looking forward to a good day of red meat defense chat, a good bit of back slapping over the recent election, and of course, thoroughly irresponsible postulating about the 2016 Presidential Race.  Should anything be of interest to you, dear reader, I will let you know.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Icing on the Cake

Has this been a great election or what? First we drub the Democrats like it's 1984 and then we get to watch Mary Landrieu swing in the wind for another month or so. There she is in a panic, languishing in her purgatorial world of eroding power with the only outcome being humiliation and ignominy. 

It's obvious this job gave her life purpose and meaning. Being Senator for her wasn't a means to an end, it was the end. She came from money, a good family, the best of everything, but what did she accomplish? Apart from politics not much. But she was not just a good team player, she was the BEST team player! No better Senator for the Democratic Party than Mary Landrieu! Her home in DC (she uses her parent's old La. homestead as her home of record - co-owned by her and her seven siblings) is fundraising central for the Dems. During campaign season not a week goes by without some function or another taking place at her "townhouse" (townhouse in this context being a multi-million dollar 7400 sq ft mansion). Yes indeed, she has been the Washington Democratic establishment's best friend.

Which makes it all the more heartbreaking that Chuck and Harry have abandoned her in HER hour of need. Yes friends, the Dems have decided Mary is not a good investment any longer. They tried, nobody can say they didn't, but it makes no sense to throw good money after bad...and Mary Landrieu is soooo over. Sorry but if you want a friend in Washington.... See you at Marti Gras Mary, can you put me and the wife up for a few days?

What did you expect Mary? You last faced the voters in 2008. You have done NOTHING to protect Louisiana jobs or the all important oil and gas industry there. You have been a Senator for the Democratic Party NOT your constituents. Hell even James Carville bitches about you, sometimes openly! You lost your way Mary, you became a Washington animal with nothing in common with the people of your State. You're voting record reflects Dick Durban's priorities, not Duck Dynasty's.

What the hell, don't worry about it, it happens. But it happens far too often so forgive us if we relish in your desperation, you deserve every bit of your anguish. YOU didn't lose your home or a paying job you actually needed! YOU can go home (or stay put most likely) and live comfortably. The oil worker or the fisherman can't, they're on foodstamps thanks to the policies you supported. So keep swinging at the Republicans like with your newly found attention to Keystone, and we'll keep watching you swinging in the wind. We love it, how 'bout you?

Big Fat Free-For-All Friday

Add caption
CW's out of town (CW is ALWAYS out of town) so it's left to me to do HIS job. But the upside is I'm a helluva lot better at it than he is.
Anyway, let's get down to bidnez. What's on your mind? Electric bill gone tropospheric? Old lady catch you chatting up the Walgreens check-out floozy and cut you off? Your neighbor's new hound crapping in your yard?
We feel your pain, let it go good-buddy, just let it go.
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