This may be the one (and only) photo you will ever see of me. This photo was taken of yours truly in hospital almost 30 years to the day. As you can see my animal magnetism and virility was still overwhelming for most of the nurses (especially the 40 something chubby ones) even while lacking a proper nose, with an atrophied muscular system and in desperate need of a barber etc. In this photo I am 9 weeks into a three and one half month stay and about 2-3 weeks away from getting out of bed and starting physical therapy. In the "accident" I suffered extensive life threatening internal injuries plus a crushed hip (literally), an absolutely destroyed elbow, broken ankle, finger, nose, cracked jaw and I must report my sense of humor was also severely impaired.
This was all the result of what I can only deduce was a drunk driver. You see I was driving home from work one evening (very late) and was hit head-on. The (ostensible) owner of the offending vehicle (who was unlicensed due to several DWI convictions) stated to police he had met a girl at a bar and that she was driving the car at the time of the accident and unfortunately he did not know her name. The ever conscientious State Trooper therefore entered "driver: unknown" on the accident report. As it turned out the actual owner of the car was the "unknown" driver's father who had bought the car for his wayward son in the hopes that a 20 year old land-yacht of a car may dissuade his son from getting drunk and high and hanging out in bars night and day. His largess was apparently misguided. And although I was very nearly killed suffering severe, debilitating and permanent injuries costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat, with my life in tatters in so many ways it would be impossible to relate and although I was clearly wronged by an out of control, criminally irresponsible addicted maniac, I was offered no solace by the criminal justice system whatsoever. The system failed me...at least part of it.
But what did not and has not failed me is the healthcare system in these United States. At the time of the accident I was one year out of college. I had nothing, apart from Prudential Comprehensive Healthcare Insurance. My life was saved by two Harvard educated surgeons. My hip was initially operated on by a Georgetown educated orthopaedist and I've had operations at Duke and hip replacement at Johns Hopkins. I can honestly say I have never been denied the absolute best care on this planet, and all for some guy with no money and no connections. And the thing is my experience was the norm, not the exception. That my friends is what we lose with Obamacare. The access, the choice, the quality and the options will all be taken away with the so-called Affordable Care Act. We will all be at the mercy of the government. And when I hear someone badmouth insurance companies I can only think "you damned idiot" because I've been let down by government, but my life was saved by an insurance company.
Did you see 60 Minutes last evening? There was an interesting segment by that babe-magnet Anderson Cooper about a Seal team in Afghanistan back in 2005. Their mission was to seek out and kill a local warlord who had become too much of a pain in the ass. Now these guys were full-blown special ops troops pretty much on their own out in the bush, real commando stuff. So anyway they're in hostile territory doing their thing and literally a bunch of goat herders stumble over their position. Now, they've got a problem. The rules of engagement say you can't attack unless you yourself are attacked. But these guys are in bad country and they know very well these goat herders are not friendly and will rat them out at first opportunity. And they also know this warlord has several hundred experienced fighters and they can expect hell to rain down if he gets wind of the operation. So, what to do? You can follow military necessity and prudently execute these (three I think it was) people thereby risking murder charges from some military lawyer/pencil pushing dickhead, or you can obey standing orders and almost certainly compromise the mission...oh yeah, and die. Of course the team leader, a Lieutenant tries to call home for instructions but the mountains of Afghanistan aren't in Verizon's coverage area so he does what any good officer would do...obeys the damn orders. So they let the goat herders go and SURPRISE SURPRISE, in an hour or so they come under heavy small arms and RPG fire in some of the roughest country this side of the Sea of Tranquility. It all goes ass over tits and one guy comes out alive, our interviewee. All in all 19 brave American died so three illiterate Afghani goat herders could live. Our politicians have funny priorities.
CW is fond of pointing out that I'm an old guy and perhaps there are some "generational" differences in our experiences and attitudes. That's all true. And one experience I had that CW didn't was living through the Vietnam conflict and seeing how that war was conducted. The same bullshit that went on in Vietnam resulting in the US losing that war (and millions upon millions of unnecessary deaths) is being repeated again in Afghanistan. I am personally against even being in Afghanistan. I think it's was a lost cause from the git-go (unlike Iraq which Obama screwed up and lost to the Iranians). But if there are murder charges to be brought in this stupid war, the indictment should have the Secretary of Defense's name on it for even instituting such an insane, imprudent and reckless policy. I'm not advocating a Red Army in Germany or Sherman's March to the Sea anything goes situation, war crimes are war crimes, but our ridiculous "rules of engagement" are no less than malfeasance by Pentagon lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians. These standing orders jeopardize the lives of good Americans who are willing to endure untold hardship in the service of our/their country. Their job is dangerous enough, they deserve at least the opportunity to survive.
Well, the Duke bubble got busted yesterday as was expected. Thank God I've reformed my wicked ways because 25 years ago when I had a couple of bookies on speed dial I woulda taken the 29 points and bet the farm on Duke. Praise be I'm no longer a drunk with a gambling habit...just a plain drunk. But I have to say Duke looked pretty decent the first quarter before the roof fell in. Second quarter on it was all FSU all the time with Duke finally scoring with a minute to go in the game (well done boys). But hey, now that it's happened I'm not at all surprised. If you take granddaddy's Impala to Daytona I don't care how good a driver you are you ain't winning. These are both very well coached football teams but all things being equal talent win out.
Oh, one sidebar, the rape allegation against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is starting to attract some national attention. Geraldo Rivera (aka Jerry Rivers) was on O'Reilly complaining that the local prosecutor in Tallahassee (relax, I'm not going to say it) is dragging his feet due to being an FSU grad etc. And I personally think there's something to that. FSU hasn't been top notch for a while and Seminole Nation is in no mood for a scandal. Stay tuned, I don't think this is going away...I just hope the girl is black otherwise he'll probably get away with it.
Did you see Ohio State/Michigan State? Man what a game! I must admit I haven't seen much of Mich. St. this year but gents this is an outstanding football team. There offense ain't off the charts or anything but they don't make a lot of mistakes. Now their defense that's another story, they are VERY GOOD! Their secondary and linebacker corp may be the best in the country. But what impressed me was their mental toughness. The Spartans went up 17 zip in the first half and as usually happens against quality competition the Buckeyes came roaring back with 24 unanswered points. And we all know one of the toughest things in sports is to go up big early, lose the lead and then try to regain focus and momentum. Well Michigan State did it scoring two TDs in the fourth quarter to ruin Urban Meyer's day (year). This game illustrates how antiquated the BCS system is. Wouldn't you love to see Auburn or Alabama's offense go up against Michigan State's defense? Sorry, ain't gonna happen this year. State is off to Pasadena to play 11-2 Stanford (Big Friggin' Whoop!).
Speaking of Auburn they put up some incredible numbers against the second best defense in the SEC (having whipped the best defense just last week). The War Eagles ran up 677 total yards against Missouri with Tre Mason accounting for 304 yards on the ground. Folks Missouri is not an ACC team. These guys are for real and they can play with anybody. And for Auburn to hang almost 700 yards on a team like this, well Katie bar the door---->Jimbo Fisher. FSU had damn well be ready to rock 'n roll because Auburn has no offensive weaknesses.
So, Auburn and FSU are in but let's look at the one and two loss teams that are out: Ohio State, Alabama, Baylor, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Central Florida, Louisville, Fresno State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Stanford, South Carolina, Oregon, Clemson and Oklahoma. Now considering the Div 2 playoffs consist of 24 teams (see bracket below) do you think just maybe we could put together a similar tournament for Div 1? Does anybody really believe Alabama or Ohio State or even a lesser respected team like Louisville don't deserve a shot? The BCS system sucks but this four team playoff next year sucks only marginally less. Look 24 teams may be a bit much but come on, 4 is ridiculous.
Well that might be it for this year. I might post some thoughts on the bowl games if something strikes my interest. It's been a pleasure informing you dolts and NFL fans (not to be redundant) about the wonders of college football. CW's Cavaliers stunk up the joint this year only surpassed by by own NC State Wolfpack so that was disappointing. But all in all we've seen some pretty good football so I can't complain too much. Catch you on the flip-side and Go Panthers.
To my friend in Colorado, Chili, whose email I have only through his previous employer and who does not participate in social media outside of this blog--please email me your home address and phone number.
News today of yet another "campaign style" undertaking from the White House designed to convince America of the goodness of Obamacare. Every day until the 23rd of December, some kind of singular messaging emphasis will emanate from the White House through its friends in the Bought and Paid For Media to the waiting ears of an American public who has apparently not yet been lied to enough.
Apparently, lefty commentators have been ramping up the din that the Obamacare website is beginning to work, gleefully predicting a wave of support from the public when they are finally able to grab hold of the brass ring of Affordable Care through the flow orifice that is the website. Yet the website was never THE PROBLEM with Obamacare; it was really just a problem of corporatism run amok with sweetheart contracting, ridiculous timelines and insufficient specification. No, the problem with Obamacare is Obamacare. And I need to hear Republicans saying it over, and over, and over again.
Let's face it. Many of the "uninsured" were uninsured by choice. They looked at what was available on the individual healthcare market and determined that it was economically unwise to buy insurance given their financial state. Now, the decision is made for them. They will have to get insurance. Whatever they were paying for their healthcare before will increase--as they will now have to buy actual insurance or pay their fine. If they choose the fine, they still have to pay full price for whatever care they receive at the point of sale. These folks will now have to go online to the apparently working better site, in order to do what they deemed economically unwise to do last year, now at the point of a government gun (metaphor alert).
Next are the folks who already HAD individual policies, the ones we've heard so much about, the one's whose policies have been cancelled (or not subject to renewal) because they are "noncompliant" with the standards of the ACA. We have been hearing some of their stories. They liked their old coverage. They can't understand why they need maternity or mental health coverage. They don't like the premiums, or the deductibles, or the premiums and the deductibles.
Next year, we will see a wave of unhappiness that makes this year's individual market stories look like a pittance by comparison. This is when employer based plans begin to drop people because 1) it is cheaper to drop them (and pay a penalty) and send them to the exchanges 2) the plans are non-compliant and will therefore be more expensive. In either case many more millions will find that their premiums and or deductibles have increased, and their choice of doctors has disappeared.
All of this sets the stage for Republicans to capitalize; not only by continuing to pound home the fact that this monster was created by Democrat Dr. Frankensteins (only), but also by coming forward with a series of legislative proposals that are conservative and market based that help make things better. It will not be sufficient to simply sit back and watch the house burn. Republicans will pay a devastating price if they are seen to be playing this game. No matter how many times the Senate fails to vote on House Republican measures, they should continue to vote for them. The American public needs to see Republicans TRYING TO SOLVE PROBLEMS in order to trust that they CAN solve problems. We cannot simply repeal Obamacare--we must replace it with something better.
But this is not what is happening. What is happening is the legislative calendar, wherein our House Republicans scooted out of town for an extensive Thanksgiving break, followed by a scant few legislative days, followed by an extensive Christmas break. All momentum is being lost, and the vacant playing field is being occupied by the President as amplified through his media. The plain truth of the matter is that whatever Republican leadership there is in this country has to stop acting like a run-of-the-mill Congressman and more like a leader. They need to stay in Washington, where the press is, and where the action is. This is where the battle is being fought and right now, there is only one Army in the field--the President's. The RNC has got to get WHITE HOT in supporting leadership with a countercampaign that shows Americans EVERY SINGLE DAY what a mess Obamacare is. Not the website. The program.
This is an existential moment for the Republican Party. If we seize it, we can increase margins in the House and even take the Senate. Every day that Mr. Obama squirms on his own petard is a day that plays to the advantage of Republicans in 2016. But we are blowing this. We are blowing this by not being active, and by not relentlessly pursuing better ideas.
I arrived home from Mudge's place yesterday afternoon and have been contemplating since, this post on our hunt.
First, for those who do not know it, Mudge and Mrs. Mudge are two of the very best people. Anywhere. They have settled on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and though I've known their estimable qualities for over 20 years, what drives it home for me is the manner in which the two of them have become intertwined with even the longest term residents of a part of the country that does not see a lot of strangers move in, at least not ones not associated with the agriculture industry. Folks from Onancock to Cape Charles know and love the Mudge's, and the affection is heartily returned.
I showed up a little early on Friday. I was supposed to show at 2PM, but got there around 1:15 to a sight that bore some explanation. As I knocked on the door, all I could see were the Mudge's splayed out on the floor in what appeared to be an amorous pursuit. As my knock was coincident with the shocking sight before me, I reasoned quickly that my early arrival had caught them in flagrante delicto, and began slowly to turn away. Mrs. Mudge got up and greeted me warmly, explaining that she and her mate had been using their bodies to press the remaining air out of an air mattress. Whew. I could have been scarred.
Mudge and I set out for the hunting ground. He has acquired a decent bit of land around him, and on one of the plots he has worked over the years to create a veritable playground for local deer--and hunters. Some really wide paths and a number of very comfortable (and safe) deerstands adorn the land, and after gearing up, we walked to my stand and I climbed up, loaded up, and began the wait for the inevitable hapless quadruped to meander past my stand to meet his buckshot hastened end. On this day (Friday), only bucks were allowed to be shot.
It was a cold afternoon, not frigid, but cold. I was less prepared than I should have been--only one pair of socks, not enough layers, and no gloves. But it was only a few hours until sundown, and so by the time Mudge came whooping toward me (a way of making sure he was not shot at--along with a light on his head and the required blaze orange) at around 5:30, I was cold, but not frigid. Neither Mudge nor I saw any deer Friday afternoon, but it was a great day to be outside. We packed up and went back to his house.
Within about 30 minutes of sitting my big butt in a recliner, the dinner bell rang. A delicious venison chili was served, which required a second bowl for me to be quite sure I had had enough. Delicious cookies were served as a follow-up, and the Mudge's and I sat amidst their three Dachshunds to discuss the world, our common friends, and our lives. By 9PM, both Mudge and I were exhausted, with the prospect of a 0430 wakeup in order to meet our friend Nevin the following morning at 0500 at the hunting ground.
We were there on time, as was Nevin and his son. After exchanging pleasantries, we took our places in our stands to await the rising sun. There are few places in the world quite like the woods on a cloudless, cold night. It was still quite dark, and sitting in one's tree without much to do (except keep still) the thought of heading back to sleep never quite leaves one's mind. A few years ago, we had been up quite late the night before, and I definitely nodded off a few times. Not this time, though. I manned my post efficiently from 0530 until 0800, when the influence of the prior evening's Chili could no longer be ignored. I had feared that my venison-chili induced flatulence might scare away deer, but then realized that perhaps they might recognize the remnants of one of their old friends in the waft. I climbed down to head back to base, there to grab Mudge's truck for the two mile drive to his house for a sanitary break. Once at the camp, I saw Mudge and Nevin's son near where we hang deer for cleaning. I had heard three shots earlier, but not knowing from whose stand they came, it was great to see them there, thinking that they had one hung. But the closer I got, I realized there was none there. They had looked quite a while for it, but had not found what Nevin Jr had shot at. When I told Mudge that I was heading back, he decided he'd come to and grab one of his Dachshunds to see if they could get on the scent of the deer Nevin Jr. shot at. After the necessary trip, I headed back to my stand.
Once up there, for some odd reason, I had a sense that something big was coming my way. My senses sharpened. I knew I only had about an hour and a half left before we'd conclude the morning hunt and head to breakfast (I would be leaving, they would be returning for an afternoon hunt), so I had to make the last bit of time count. Though the picture below was taken Friday afternoon, by 1000 or so on Saturday, it was lit similarly.
The view from my stand
As if on cue, about 80 yards down the path a buck slowly moved onto the path from the right. I could tell he had antlers, but not how many points. Here was the moment I had waited all my hunting life (4 years) for--a shot at a buck. Truth be told, I had gone over this moment scores of times in the previous two days, even going as far as practicing slowly and silently picking up the gun from the resting position, shouldering it, aiming and firing. I had no idea how I would perform. Would I simply get overexcited and rush my way through? Would I take too long trying to be too quiet and lose the shot? I got the weapon at my shoulder as he meandered across the path, sighted him in and pulled the trigger before the tip of his nose went out of view on the left. It was definitely a long shot--again, about 80 yards. After shooting, the buck turned a full 180 and bounded back across the path in the direction from which he came.
I really couldn't be sure if I hit him. As I sit here typing this today, I tell myself that next time, I won't take that shot, because he was too far away. Mudge got a buck a few weeks ago about ten yards further away with muzzle loader (scope equipped), which he paced at 91 yards. We put the dog on the trail. There was no blood where he pivoted or where he entered the woods, and no blood along the way. He also didn't piss himself, as the dog would have picked that up too. No, I just plain missed him--and for that, I am glad. Better to miss and not wound, than to hit and only wound--leaving him to a slow and painful death.
What did I learn? I learned that I didn't act like a fool and rush things. I learned that I need to be a little more patient and let him get closer. I learned that I one should avoid chili the night before deer hunting. And I (re)learned the value of a wonderful friendship.
WEEEEEEE DOGGIE, what a Saturday! College football fans could not ask for a more entertaining day than yesterday. Why it was like being in a German sex bar with a company credit card.
Alabama/Auburn was just awesome! This of course is one of the great rivalries in American sports and an especially big deal this year what with 'Bama being 'Bama and Auburn 10-1 (0-9 in the SEC just last year). Auburn needed the Tide to have a few breakdowns to have a shot and they got 'em. Alabama's kicking game was atrocious missing four field goals the last resulting in a 100 yard return for the Auburn win. It's a sad day in Tuscaloosa (another word Yankees can't spell) and it blows the whole championship thing wide open.
Not to nit-pick or anything but Coach Saban made some pretty lame decisions yesterday (e.g. not going for a 30 yard field goal that would have put the Tide up two scores late) but oh boy, so did Michgan's Brady Hoke (he's FROM Ohio you know). After playing Ohio State toe to toe through the first half Big Blue had a tough third quarter with the Buckeyes going up by two touchdowns. But Michigan fought back and had a chance to tie the game with about half a minute to go. BUT NOOOOOOOOOO! With the Wolverines playing in front of a fired up home crowd Coach Genius decides now's the time to go for broke with a two point conversion. So rather than take the point and go into overtime with the momentum, Michigan is now in a position (to paraphrase Woody Hayes) where three things can happen... and two of 'em are bad. So, as one might expect Ohio State stops a Michigan two yard pass (into double coverage) and makes it out alive 42-41. NICE CALL COACH!
In other action Florida State kept rolling along (at least until the arraignment) whipping a despondent Gator squad. Clemson lost again to South Carolina (#5 and counting) and Duke kicked Tar Heel ass in Kenan Stadium in a very exciting game. In my opinion Coach Cutcliffe should be coach of the year.
Let's talk a little Heismann shall we? According to ESPN the top candidates are:
1) Jameis Winston, Florida State.
Not a chance, he's a rapist.
2) Andre Williams, Boston College.
Eh, good back but he padded his numbers by playing the likes of NC State (300+ yards), Army,
New Mexico State and Villanova.
3) A.J. McCarron, Alabama.
Probably my choice but his receivers didn't help him any yesterday.
4) Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M.
He won it last year but this year A&M didn't beat anybody they weren't supposed to beat. Not
5) Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois.
Forgetaboutit! The school is off the radar. Remember Gordie Lockbaum at Holly Cross in 1988?
6) Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona.
The Wildcats are 7-5 and 4th. in the Pac-12. He can't be THAT good.
7) Derek Carr, Fresno State.
They just lost to San Jose State. The end.
8) Marcus Mariota, Oregon.
Oregon underachieved this year. The Heisman is all about OVER achieving!
9) Tajh Boyd, Clemson.
Jesus, even Clemson people want to forget this guy.
10) Braxton Miller, Ohio State.
Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville and Brett Hundley at UCLA have better numbers and OSU's
schedule this year ain't exactly been SEC caliber (having played only one top ten team) so
don't see it happening. But Ohio State is a big name so who knows?
11) Bryce Petty, Baylor.
If he could run 15 yards without tripping over his own shoelaces that would be a plus. But he
started slow and his football IQ is questionable.
12) David Watford, Virginia.
AHHH HAAA! Got ya! This bum will be selling timeshares in Daytona Beach this time next
The Geheimstattpolizei with whom I reside take a tough line on any outward recognition of Christmas prior to the completion of Thanksgiving dinner. Recognizing of course, their sovereignty within the living spaces of the house, I exercise complete dominion over the ManCave, where Christmas candles blaze as I write this, and Pandora serenades me with Christmas carols. There are some elements of their argument for which I have sympathy. For instance, the thought of Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving is a horror to me. Black Friday too. But the essence of their beef comes down to Thanksgiving not getting its due--which I completely deny.
Thanksgiving is to Christmas like the Daytona 500 is to whatever is the last NASCAR race of the season. It gets things off to a great start. In my view, the Christmas Season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas Dinner. New Years Day doesn't count in any of this, as it is basically a sideshow to me. That I may burn Christmas candles and listen to Christmas music in no way diminishes my love for Thanksgiving. This is not a zero sum. I have limitless love to give this season.
I have great sympathy for those who travel this time of year--especially this year, given the weather on the East Coast. We have settled into a routine here in which Thanksgiving is spent either at our house with local relations or at the Kitten's Aunt/Uncle's house with the same relations. This year, it is here. I am the Turkey Commissar, a task in which I revel. Very few smells in the world like a basting bird. The attention and care a turkey demands is similar to that of a fine woman, the delivery of which brings great reward to the provider. I will remove the 22 pounder from the fridge tonight for some initial prep/innards removal/stock creation. It'll go in the oven at about 1100 tomorrow. Yum.
On another note, I will head down to Mudge's place Friday to take my place in a deerstand Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. The hunting grounds have been fertile thus far in the season, at least judging from Mudge's photos. Having not so much as SEEN a deer from my stand in previous trips, I remain a skeptic. Mudge's company is however, sufficient palliative to my hunting woes. There is some talk of Admiral Nevin showing up too.
The Wahoos host rival Virginia Tech this Saturday, both programs having had tough years (though Tech remains much better). I have passed along my tickets to my buddy from Richmond, hoping of course he does not further gift them to a dreaded Hokie. Given the choice between sitting and watching bad/frustrating football and sitting in a deerstand quietly contemplating the world, I chose the latter.
From the McGrath/Murphy Family, Happy Thanksgiving to all who keep the season well.
The Blog: A compendium of thoughts on politics, world affairs, economics, pop culture and social issues, from the center right perspective of me--Bryan McGrath--a University of Virginia graduate who spent a career in the world's greatest Navy keeping my mouth shut about politics and social issues (ok, publicly keeping it shut). Those days are over! I've also invited a few friends to join in, so pull up a chair and chime in where you will. Keep it clean, civil, concise and relevant.
The Fish: The fish is a "coat of arms" for the blog, symbolizing three formative influences in the life of the blog founder. The first is his experience at the University of Virginia--symbolized most importantly by the fish itself, or a caricature of a "Wahoo", the fish we have acquired as an informal nickname. Additionally there is the sword, the sword of a Cavalier. It is not wielded in a threatening manner, as this is a civil blog. But it is there, should it be needed. Thirdly, there is the influence of 21 years in the Navy--symbolized by the anchor on the Wahoo's fin (and again, the sword) . Finally, there is the bowler, tuxedo, and monocle, symbols of a refined, intellectual conservatism, or what I seek to encourage here.
The Policy: I take FULL responsibility ONLY for what I write. I do not take responsibility, nor will I be held responsible, for what my guest bloggers write or for what those who offer comments write. I will occasionally exercise my right to edit/delete both blog posts and comments if they do not meet my view of what clean, civil, concise and relevant mean.