Thursday, September 17, 2015

Debate two

I don't know how many of these Republican debates I will comment on here but it's still fascinating. Here are my impressions of the candidates and coverage.

CNN - bad job. Two debates, with roughly half in each, would have been far superior. The four in the B event got to talk more than many in the A debate. Ridiculous. It was the Trump show. Sure, he's the front runner, but, it's not fair and it's not as good.

Trump. I don't mean to hurt his feelings (as if he is reading this) but he can be a clown. He is a megalomaniac. He is not ready on day 1.  It's embarrassing that he keeps saying he will know this or that or he will do the best job without any specifics. He needs to be able to admit mistakes.

Carly Fiorina. I wrote in my first pre-debate blog that I was rooting for her. And she killed. This time, she did even better. She may climb the polls. If not, then the debates mean little. She was clearly the most prepared person to answer questions and also clearly the best on her feet.  I really could care that she knows Bibi or Putin. But, I do like her intelligence, class and spirit.

Kasich. I put him up here because I was also rooting for him in the first debate and thought he did well here to despite getting no time. I see him and Bush as competing for the same voters. However, we know, we know, you balanced a budget. Move on now. I would prefer he or Carly won right now and picked the other for VP, but, I doubt Republican voters will feel the same way.

Carson. Everyone noticed he barely spoke. However, that was true on the first debate and his polls soared. And it may not matter. Because people who like him like his temperament, dignity and intelligence, not his knowledge. However, he is someone I can admire but not expect much of as president. He would be too reliant on advisors.

Paul. I don't see him as having a constituency. He has some areas he is unique in the field, but not enough people care. And, his foreign policy is not what most Republicans or people will want. Isolationism or interventionism are not the issue. Intervening or restraint are called for in appropriate situations. I also don't think he has the personality that can prevail. Though early on I took a hard look at him as a possibility, I don't think he has a chance and I prefer a number of others to him.

Christie. He actually did well in the debate for his limited chances. But, I'm already sick of hearing about his fight against terrorism. Without Trump in the field his brashness might help him a lot. I actually thought his comment to Fiorina and Trump to stop fighting was unfair as they were asked a question. What should they do, not answer it?

Huckabee. He should get out. He has no chance anymore. His day has passed, even if he does well in Iowa. I actually thought he made a good defense of Kim Davis (Kentucky clerk for whom he held a rally) although I completely disagree with him and no candidate who opposes same sex marriage will have a chance.

Rubio. Nice young impressive man. You think, some day, but not to day. Too young. He does do well in the debates, and actually tries to talk about policy, but I don't see him as having a chance.

Cruz. No change in my view of him. He does not have the personality to do this. Though he is obviously talented, and he is actually very personable in an interview, he is very flat and even fake when he is in a debate. I reject that he is a polished debater. He almost always loses them.

Walker. He had a chance early on but did nothing in response to the Summer of Trump and lost all of his support to Carson. I kept forgetting he was on the stage and I can remember not a single thing he said.

Bush. He did okay, but he is now being measured as the lock who was beaten off the top of the hill by Trump and is seen mostly in comparison to him. Given a choice of the two, I'd take Bush in a heart beat. But, he has done little for himself.  He should (they all should) be looking at Fiorina for tips.

By the way, did anyone else think it a little strange that Trump and Bush "slapped five" like they were playing a video game together rather than engaging in an important debate where Bush was supposedly offended on behalf of his wife and Trump refused to apologize?

Trump offered the palm up and Bush emphatically responded. Earlier, Carson refused a fist bump (I think that's what it was), responding with some kind of awkward contact, but obviously he wasn't comfortable with it for whatever reason. I wouldn't have been. I know that the propriety with which politicians act has been relaxed and I'm generally glad for it.  I don't care if they emote or wear jeans or even shorts. And they go on tv and make silly jokes, hoping to seem more human. But, slapping five? What next? And end zone dance when they win the election or score a debating point. That silly finger waggle young men do at each other? I just hope he doesn't try to hug Fiorina. Or chest bump anyone.

As for the B group, obviously Graham woke from his slumber and dominated. And ISIS is important and I generally agree with him on it. But, it is not the only issue.  George Pataki has some appeal to me, but he is not able to mix it up any more and when the moderator says stop, he stops, which is admirable and fare, but in the strange world of political debates, makes you seem week. I seriously do not know what the four of them are doing, but I do not see this as helping them at all. Even Graham.

As with last time, my opinion clearly will not reflect the Republican opinion. I have already seen Trump this morning and the instant polls show him winning by another slaughter.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

NFL 2015-2016 season

So, having straightened everybody out on the political front for a while, it is time for one of the two most important times of the year, overlapping the other, which is Thanksgiving through Christmas. There’s a lot to talk about. First, of course, what we have all been talking about for months –
Brady and deflated balls

As is well known everywhere there is hearing, I am a Patriot and Brady fan. You’ll note though, I do not live in New England. I could care about where a team is located. Never did. And I’ll never understand why anyone else roots for the home team.  But, I get it. I’m the weirdo.

I actually like teams the same way I like my friends, whether they live near or far – because I actually like them. How crazy is that? Brady and Belichick, Belichick and Brady. I don't know if he is the greatest QB ever or Belichick the greatest coach, but I do think they are the greatest coach/QB combo ever.  Revolutionary thought, huh? 
Not surprisingly, where people are revered, there are others that revile them.  Recently, John Cena, the professional wrestler, had some advice for Brady about dealing with the hate. He should know. His tv character is the most wonderful guy you can imagine. Yet, he is loathed by many fans, and he has fun with it. In his case, it is make believe in a sense. For Brady, of course, it is real.

Tom Terrific is terrific to me. He’s certainly one of the two greatest QBs over the course of the last 15 years. I don’t know if you can say that he is better than Manning or vice versa. Certainly it’s arguable, Peyton based on records and Brady on his somewhat lessor records and many more championships.   And Rodgers has been better than both for several years. Could be Peyton is washed up as a lot of people are predicting.  But, I have said for the last few years that I have been obsessed with the NFL, for one game, one quarter, one play, I would want Brady over any QB, even before Rodgers.

I have not always been a Patriot fan and might not be this or next year, though I have a lot of sympathy for them right now. As for Tom, he has my admiration and sympathy right now. Many people would gag or laugh at that right now, but they'd have to show me why.  Though he has never been accused by the NFL of cheating, many people call him a cheater. All the league accused him of was being “generally aware” of the ball deflation in the Colt game. The judge made it clear he had no idea what “generally aware” meant in context of the Wells’ report and he shouldn’t. It was what is sometimes called weasel words, meant to obscure that there was no evidence to support it.

Feel free to argue with me. First, though, read the Wells' report, read Goodell’s decision and letters and read the court’s decision. Until then, you are not making a reasoned argument, no different than if you think a politician is guilty of something depending on what party you are in.   

I notice this. Most people I have discussed it with say they believe that Brady had something to do without the slightest evidence. They don't offer any and they don't care. It's enough they think so because that's the way the world is.  Possibly some think so because they are Jet fans. Possibly some because he's handsome, his wife is the world's most successful super model, he's fabulously wealthy and incredibly successful on the field.  Unlike Brady critics, I wouldn't say that is the truth for any particular person, just because I think that is common behavior.  But I think it is true of a lot of people.  My observation of my friends who are Jet fans, for examples tells me that they not only think he cheated, but some are livid and curse about it. Some have even wished him physical harm over it, despite the fact that the court pointed out that had Goodell followed the rules and he was guilty of something (there has never been a punishment in NFL history before for a player's awareness of someone else's misdeed), there would have been about a $5500 fine.  And their anger is far greater than it was for New Orleans' bounty scandal which had to be 100 times worse, even if the allegations against Brady were true.  Fans are often as partisan as political ideologues and reason means little to them, even if they are rational in most other aspects of their lives. Even for many non-Jet fans, their analysis seems to be identical with their conclusion. He did “something” because they know it. And they know it, because he did it. This is what we call a tautology. Not one of them would accept being accused of anything on the same grounds. I'll cover the circumstantial evidence below, and anyone can try and persuade me otherwise, but when you accuse, their is a burden of proof and you have to have some evidence.

One circumstantial fact that is often cited is that he destroyed his cell phone. This is ridiculous in my view. The NFL doesn’t deny it had all the text records from McNally and Jastremski. Anyone, but particularly a celebrity whose cell phone is a prime target, should be extremely careful about it when he gets a new one. Destroying it is a great idea and his friends and family probably are very happy he does. I would not want anyone to see the things that people have texted or for that matter emailed me. He’s not a public figure with a duty to keep it. And though Ted Wells, who wrote the report (along with the NFL – it was not an independent report), faults him for it, he also said –

And I want to be crystal clear. I told Mr. Brady and his agents, I was willing not to take possession of the phone. I said, "I don't want to see any private information." I said, "Keep the phone. You and the agent, Mr. Yee, you can look at the phone. You give me documents that are responsive to this investigation and I will take your word that you have given me what's responsive."

Brady’s agent has detailed the efforts they did make to cooperate, short of handing over the phone they were told they did not to hand over, and the NFL has not really denied his statements. I don't see how that is grounds to find Brady’s guilt circumstantially, or to loathe him.. The other circumstantial evidence cited is the Patriot’s (really Belichick’s) spy scandal in 2007. I think Belichick is a phenomenal coach. I like him a lot. But, I have no problem finding what he did – and admitted doing then – completely wrong. Am I willing to taint his whole career thereafter? No. Not without some evidence he's done something else wrong. I don't like Miami's Suh very much based on what I've seen. But, I'm not willing to believe anything about him without evidence either.

And, though I admire Brady’s public demeanor and control of his emotions, his incredible competitive nature and last minute composure and execution, I would be perfectly willing to believe he was guilty of something had I been shown any evidence. In fact, before I read all the facts, I was suspicious of it too. And, were there actual evidence, I would be very disappointed in him the way I have been about other athletes I admired when I found out they cheated.  Some I liked a lot. OJ and Lance Armstrong are two good examples.  The sprinter Ben Johnson is another.  I’m not married to Brady or the Patriots or Belichick and they are human.

So, I don’t know what Brady knew or generally knew. I’m not 100% sure that there was bad actions by the Patriots here. I just know there was no evidence that allows me to think he did something wrong.

Done with the Pats. I hope they win the championship again and give those who hate them more reason to hate them.

Here are some predictions and thoughts for the season.

First, I am going way out on a limb and predicting a Buffalo Bills versus Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl. Seattle and the Patriots are my backup picks though before Jordy Nelson’s injuries, I would have picked the Pack. My picks are based on personnel losses to both Seattle and NE and Buffalo’s and the Eagles’ pickups of personnel off season. However both depend on untested QBs and that means almost everything. If these young men, Bradford and/or Taylor do not perform, then my picks will be pretty poor.  Statistical analysis of predictions show that even the best performances over a season are only fractionally better than simply picking teams to do as they did the year before. I thought I’d avoid that, however accurate it might be, and I don’t mind being wrong. I’ve picked far more SB’s wrong than right. Good thing my ego doesn’t rest upon it.

The games that most interest me this week are:

The Colts v. Buffalo. I will find out very quickly if my expectations for Buffalo are to be thwarted and whether my belief that the Colts (who some win the NFC) and Luck are overrated is wrong-headed. A lot of people are picking them to win it all, and they have some arguments on their side.

As well looking forward to the Eagles v. the Falcons, also to see if the Eagles are the real deal or not.
KC v. Houston. I just like Houston’s defense, which may be even better this year. Sorry to see Fitzpatrick go. I think another mediocre season for them though with a lot of game highlights by the defense. I think when healthy, Jamaal Charles is one of the top five RBs in the game.

As far as individual players,

I’ve already seen Brady get his first game revenge. 4 TDs in a game are not all that unusual anymore, but he was highly accurate, albeit against a team with obvious defensive problems. It seems to me watching him however, that his long ball game is not in the stratosphere of NFL QBs anymore.  Maybe most QBs playing have stronger arms than he does, but like Peyton Manning, he’s not getting any younger and he compensates with his mind and quick decisions.

I am hoping Adrian Peterson, another player who the NFL unfairly attacked (Goodell's record as a disciplinarian is pitiful) has a sensational game and year.

I’d like to see J. Watt, who I thought one of the two or three best players in football last year, have a great game.

Also, GB’s Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and, if he plays, Randall Cobb, the Giant’s Odell Beckham, Jr. (aka OBJ), Des Bryant and Rams DE, Robert Quinn. Obviously there are others, but that came to mind quick.

And though I’m not a big fan, and his legacy is secure with two SB wins, I am curious to see how Eli Manning does this year, especially when Cruz returns. They do not have a bad cast of characters and if their line plays well, he has a chance to look much better than he has the last two years.

I’m also curious about Andrew Luck. He was picked first over RGIII and I’m sure the Colts aren’t sorry. He is a top QB, but I really don’t think he is as great as many people think. Personally, I like him, so hard not to root for him, but his path also usually goes through Tom Brady and that will be a problem. I cringe when Luck is said to be the league’s leading passer. He had the touchdowns, but also too many interceptions and was allowed to throw an awful lot, I think next most after Brees, who I also think slightly overrated.   He doesn’t have the best QB rating, the best TD to interception ratio and doesn’t always strike me as making the best decisions in big games. On the other hand, if the rookie, Dorsett, can catch as advertised, it adds another weapon for him that could make them really tough. They may now have the best receiving corp in the league, though you could make other arguments.

Hard for me to root for Seattle. I just normally don’t like teams where many players see themselves as bad asses, even when I admire them. I was happy as can be that NE beat them last year, but after the game I felt that Seattle would win the next two if they played three. To the contrary, I love Wilson’s game and am excited that Graham has joined the team.

Most of all, though not particularly a Jet fan, I’d like to see Ryan Fitzpatrick perform well. I’ve thought, particularly last year, that he is a very decent QB who has never played for a really good team. He still isn’t this year, but he has a number of good receivers to work with now and a decent backfield. I haven’t met a Jet fan yet who did not think he should have started over Smith, anyway, and since Smith made it easy, he’s got to perform now.

As for rookies, I have low expectations for Winston and Mariota. I am curious to see if Amari Cooper becomes a quick star in Oakland at WR. Same for DeVante Parker in Miami, though I believe he was not that impressive in pre-season.  I was also curious about WR Kevin White in Chicago, but he may be out for the season. I’m really looking forward to see what Todd Gurley can do when he is sufficiently recovered to play for the Rams. I loved his college highlight reel. I know sometimes it doesn’t transfer to the pros, but we will see. Last, Byron Jones shocked everyone with his athleticism at the Combine this year. I understand he is not setting the world on fire in Dallas yet, but, I’m waiting to see.

That’s all, folks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Political update for September, 2015

I actually wrote a different post this week, one involving tattoos.  But, my inability to upload photographs on blogger, though it is supposed to be really easy, got too frustrating. I’ve even tried doing it on Word and then just pasting it on. I’ve tried uploading it directly on blogger (even worse – it freezes Internet Explorer), copying it directly from my pictures, but nothing works.

In any event, what’s wrong with just talking politics. There are 5 big issues as I see them right now.  Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump and the Iran deal. But, we can only talk a little about Trump and then, even if not as much in the news, talk about my take on some other candidates and then the Middle East.


Trump is short for trumpet, I think, and he must think so too. I’m not sure if outside of a pure entertainment situation have ever seen anyone as shamelessly dedicated to trumpeting his own worth. I’ve lost track of the things he will be the best at – I know the military and with Hispanic and with women, but there were so many others. You could probably make a similar list of people he has insulted and people he says he loves or they love him. I know he loves the Mexicans, the Russians and the Chinese all of whom he has insulted and complimented.

I stick with my original prediction. It might be that Trump stands for almost every negative aspect of a politician and possibly a person that I can think of – arrogant (“I’m very rich”), conceited (“super-genius”), a control-freak, a liar, bigoted, greedy, unnecessarily aggressive, angry, ignorant about things he pretends to be knowledgeable about, falsely pious (if his favorite book is really the Bible, I will eat my hat), unwilling to admit making mistakes or apologize and almost unbearably insecure (“My family likes me”). And beyond that, he is the greatest gift to the Democrats that could possibly exist. In 2012 his birther boondoggle, in which he pretended to have investigators in Hawaii finding things we wouldn’t believe, helped sabotage Romney even though Trump didn’t run. What gifts will he have this time by running and, possibly, winning the nomination. Not for nothing do some people suspect he is secretly in league with the Democrats.

Given all these traits, why is he doing so well?

First, he’s not. Let’s say he is somewhere around 25%, a little less than the realclearpolitics late Aug., early Sept. polls. That means 75% of those polled are for someone else. It is not rocket science to realize that as the legion of non-super heroes drop out one by one, his numbers will probably shrink. It is hard not to believe that those who prefer Cruz, Walker, Huckabee, Graham, Rubio and Santorum, if they drop out, will more likely head to Carson than Trump. And that may be true of the rest of them, with the exception of those few who like Carly Fiorina because of her business background.

Second, in my own anecdotal experience, those who seem to like Trump most are white middle class men, followed by white middle class women. Now, that is still the majority in this country, so it’s important. Why are these people so interested in him?

First, some people are simply sick of being called racist because they prefer the police to gangs or because they are offended by the Black Lives Matter movement. They are sick of being called a racist because they do not want people from other countries moving her illegally.

Second, some people are sick of political correctness. They want a president who ignores it or mocks it.

Third, some want someone who doesn’t respect the media. They don’t and they don’t like it when the politicians kow tow to them.

Fourth, some like that not only the media, but to some degree, some of the other candidates seem intimidated by him. If they weren’t, do you think that they would not be jumping all over his mistaking the Kurds for the Iranian Quds force?

Fifth, they buy into his fantasy about being economically superior.  Being a businessman is simply not the same as being knowledgeable about trade and the economy. They buy into his phony bologna narrative that his 4 business bankruptcies are a positive, that those who got stiffed were bad guys rather than investors and people who trusted in him.

Sixth, they buy into the fantasy that talking tough is the same as being tough. If we don’t like something China or Russia is doing – we just tell them “NO!” and they will love us for it.

I was watching Howard Dean on tv recently, and I couldn’t help but think, there’s a guy who must really be annoyed by the whole Trump thing. Dean was felled by a single squawking like “yeahhhh!” he gave to encourage some campaigners. Despite the fact that there was not the slightest thing wrong with it, he was so mocked it just destroyed him, and the Democrats were left with the pathetic John Kerry for a candidate. Yet Trump seems to be able to get away with almost everything. Life isn’t fair.

Slowly, I do believe though that, just as last time, enough Republicans came to their senses that Romney was the only one who had a chance, they will realize that Trump has the least chance in a general election and will self-destruct. Eventually, the ridiculous things he says will start adding up and a tipping point will be passed.

One thing I’ve learned about myself though watching presidential race after presidential race – I don’t know who the next president will be. The other thing I’ve learned, is that it does not stop me from making predictions.

So, here is prediction no. 1. Trump will not be the nominee. Obviously, I don’t know when he will fall, but I think when he does, it will be as big as he has been, and it will be like a crane falling on Trump Towers.


I don’t know what to make up him. Part of me believes he is a product of Trump’s rise, part of me thinks he would be right where he was anyway. His quiet demeanor and obvious intelligence are his strong points. As with Trump, his lack of knowledge on the issues does not seem to hurt him at all. I don’t think we know enough about him to make any kind of judgment.


Last month I made what I called an “early unofficial” prediction, which is pretty funny because all my predictions are unofficial and I say early just so I can backtrack on it without too much embarrassment if I am completely wrong. Also, it is no fun for me if it is a prediction everyone else is making.  Hence, I’ll take a shot. If I’m wrong, me and lot of other people. If I’m right, who is going to have it in his blog? That’s right. Wealth, fame, the 7 o’clock slot on Morning Joe (I wonder if you have to put in a request for a specific kind of coffee). Or, nothing.

Nevertheless, one prediction was that Katich would be the Republican nominee.  Although it is still really early and unofficial (whatever that means), I see no reason to change it. Nationally, he’s polling in the middle, although far closer to the bottom than the top. That’s all right though, because Trump is a phenomenon I think will dissipate (though he disappoints every such prediction so far), the other supposed front–runners have been shown to be weak, and he’s doing well in New Hampshire, which will give him a bigger bump than Iowa, a state which is such a poor predictor of Republican victors that they cancelled their traditional Ames Poll this year to spare themselves the embarrassment. Like a long distance runner staying behind but in contact with the pack, I’m feeling okay about it. Not great. But, okay.


Why is it that most everyone thinks she will be the VP choice?  A poll which asks for second, third and fourth choices puts her clearly on top.  She was my early favorite before Katich jumped in. It’s not that I am especially in agreement with her about anything, or there is something about her that screams competency for me. It’s that she seemed relatively moderate and more articulate and intelligent than most of the other candidates and she wasn’t being particularly martinetish or obsequious to anyone or even going out of her way to be charming or likeable. Not that this necessarily makes a great president, but it’s a much better start than most of them have for me.

And the others . . .

If I had my way, most of the other Republican candidates would just go away. Not that I particularly dislike any of them, but they go from the ridiculous - Pataki, Jindal, Perry and Gilmore. Some aren’t ridiculous but have no chance this time – Paul, Christie, Huckabee and Santorum. Of those not mentioned above, Cruz, Rubio and Bush have some kind of shot given some seismic shift, but of the three, Cruz is unelectable in a general election. Of the whole group, whether I think they could win the nomination or not, only Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Katich, Christie and Bush would have a real chance in a general election with a slim chance for Walker, who I think has hurt more than helped himself so far.

After Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina I expect the following people left. Possibly Trump, Carson, Bush, Walker, Katich, Fiorina, Cruz. Maybe Rubio, but I’m not sure. It would shock no one that after the Summer of Trump, if Bush makes a comeback. When Trump is out - if Trump goes out, everything changes.

However, since I stick with my litmus test that a conservative candidate who carries on about same sex marriage and doesn’t believe in either global warming (Me? Still agnostic about it) or evolution does not have a chance in a general election, we go down to pretty much Katich and Fiorina. However, it is possible that Carson would be an exception to the rule despite his position. I do not know about Jeb Bush. And, of course, it matters who the other nominee is.

Got it?


Despite Trump’s Teflon qualities, Clinton seems to share many of them. Until very recently, her numbers were actually better than Trump’s despite the seeming inevitable doom of the email scandal. As the revelations and problems come out (this week the guy who set up her server took the 5th and it came out from other staffers that she paid State Dep’t personnel to work for her on the server personally – talk about a conflict of interest. The email scandal is well covered in the news and I don’t feel the need to just review it.

No doubt, she still has her supporters, but I suspect that this week was the tipping point for her. Of course, as we know, just because someone gets crushed after being on top, doesn’t mean that they can’t come back. And, I tend to notice that this is more typical of front runners, at least of late.

There is one thing she has on her side. She’s a woman and identity politics is very important.  I think it has helped Carly Fiorina too, although she does not have a constituency or the media on her side to help. I think it is helping Ben Carson, as some conservatives will no doubt want to show that they are not the racists that the media and Democrats make them out to be. As I often say to liberals who accuse them of racism (not that some aren’t) is that there aren’t very many conservatives who would not be delighted by Clarence Thomas ran for president and we know that Herman Cain had his run before it turned out he had as much Bill Clinton in his make up as Ronald Reagan.

There are few things that will save H. Clinton if another loud shoe drops. It is always the nature of partisans to ignore as far as it is possible when one of their own transgresses. As is so often pointed out by resentful conservatives – “Can you imagine if this came out about George Bush? Every journalist. . . .” But, unlike Trump, other than her name recognition and femaleness, there is not a lot about her that makes people want to stand up and cheer. She is famously portrayed by Washington insiders as fun on a personal level, but more wooden in public than Al Gore was when he ran. Obama is president today because he was likeable in debates whereas she was just ponderous.


I get why progressives love him. He demonizes wealthy people, particularly conservative ones, he promises free stuff for everyone, boldly calls himself a socialist and can be as outspoken, but not usually as personally insulting, as Trump is. And he is also a bit of a character, unlike say Katich, who is also doing well in NH right now.   I wouldn’t be all that excited if I were him though that he has overtaken Clinton in New Hampshire polls because he’s from Vermont, and the only difference between the two states in almost every way is which side of the black line they are on.

Sanders does have a chance in the nomination process if two things happen. First, Clinton continues to decline because of the email scandal and Biden doesn’t jump in. Which leads us to . . .


The Democrat prediction I was that Joe Biden would be the Democrat nominee. Naturally, the first step would be for him to actually run for the job. I believe him when he said he didn’t know if he and his family had the emotional fire to do it. He seems, giant smiley teeth and all, to be genuinely depressed by the death of his son. Who can blame him? Of course the same tragedy is what gives an emotional charge to his run.  The consensus right now is that this is not the Joe Biden of 6 years ago and I agree. That doesn’t mean if he gets the limelight for a few weeks, the old Joe Biden won’t be back. But, I don’t think so. And Democrats who want another liberal president to appoint new Supreme Court Justices and continue the trend to the left in our politics, will support him over Bernie Sanders, who will excite the far left but possibly not as much as it does the far right.

Like almost everyone, personally, I like Biden. Most candidates are for me too far left or too far right, and he’s too far left. But, not so far as others. And, despite occasionally outbursts of goofiness or harmless awkward behavior with women, he’s reasonably bright. It is hard to miss that of almost everyone in the belt, he, almost alone had the good sense to agree with me (and I’m sure I’m where he got the idea from) that Iraq was really three countries – though he would go no further than suggesting three autonomous provinces. To the contrary, the one time I saw him being just unbearable was a whine-fest during a Supreme Court confirmation hearing – I think of Justice Roberts. And he was out front in the administration turning towards supporting gay rights and what sometimes seemed like the only reasonably honest person in that administration, at least at the beginning. All these are good things. I probably would not vote for him, and he would not be my choice among the Democrats, but he would not make me think the world was coming to an end either.

And the others . . .

As for Webb and O'Malley, it is very hard to see a path forward, as they say. You never know. Webb strikes me as the someone I might be interested in. I've heard O'Malley speak a few times and he is probably not. His embarrassing capitulation to some young men and women of Black Lives Matter almost disqualifies him by itself.

All of these many predictions are of course subject to illness, some national crisis or scandal and gaffe. Those, no one can predict.


I have a little over a week until I have to vote on Iran. I’ve been giving it a bit of thought. I didn’t know what to think at first. I will say that John Kerry, who is among my least favorite politicians for a long time, and who I find disingenuous, too ambitious and often worse, has done his best work in defending (as opposed to negotiating) the deal.

In the end, if I had to vote on the 16th of this month, I’d vote no. This is why. First, I am not someone who favors filibusters in general as a regular legislative process. Though obviously a legal procedure, I see them as a weakness, not a strength of the Senate. Though of course there are things that I would not wish the Senate to vote for, the way it should work is up and down. So, I will be angered if the Democrats do not allow an up and down vote. And just for the record, I felt the same way when Republicans were blocking votes too.

Second, I have never been satisfied with Kerry’s answers regarding our political prisoners. He usually says that it was raised at every meeting. That means one of several possibilities must be true. He did not have a strong hand in the negotiations. Or he did not press hard enough. Or he didn’t threaten to walk from the talks on that account. Which was it? Someone should spend some time on this when questioning him and they don’t.

Third, I am not that worried about the timing of inspections, because my understanding is that the IAEF is very satisfied that even a significant delay – say two months or even more – will not deter them technologically. However, the knowledge of secret agreements between Iran and the IAEF, who I do trust, is not acceptable. As part of the negotiations, the waiver of secret agreements, at least to the leadership in congress, should have been paramount. No doubt Kerry and the others were aware of this and did not press it.

Fourth and most important, I cannot make head or tails of the sanctions regime. What we are being told is that sanctions are compartmentalized such that although we cannot sanction on nuclear grounds if they are in compliance, we can sanction on other grounds. But, it has never been clear that the language of the agreement states this clearly nor is it at all explained how to prevent Iran, of whom the administration say they have no trust, will not simply claim we are in non-compliance whenever they want.

I do not agree with critics that this is a path to the bomb (any country can violate a treaty or agreement whenever it wants) or that it does not reduce Iranian nuclear capacity – it does – but I do think that it is a situation where we had a very strong hand and did not play it or played it poorly. In the end, it of course makes Iran much stronger, and that is a problem for all of our allies in the neighborhood.


All of this pales in comparison with the news in the NFL, which I hope to get to before the season starts Thursday.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The music goes round and round

I am not really a music guy. I like music, but as with probably everyone, I like what I like. Unlike a lot of people though, I don't have some kind of rational explanation for it. I’ve never been into quality sound systems – a normal car radio is good enough for me - and I don’t go crazy exploring different kinds of music. Actually, at this point, I don't explore any music.  So, your answer to the following question may be very different than mine. When is the last time you got excited about an album? Not a song, but an album. I cannot remember when it was for me, but it was decades ago. It could be nearly 40 years. The last two I consciously remember were Songs in the Key of Life (Stevie Wonder), which I loved, and Chicago X, which I looked forward to but disliked.  Maybe the way music is distributed has changed so much that there is less reason to get excited now than in the past about a whole album as opposed to a piece. Or maybe it is because I pay such little attention to music I feel this way.  I only listen on my ipod to stuff I downloaded because I already like it. But, just by being in the world, I do hear new music from time to time and I rarely like anything – maybe three or four songs a year and almost always mainstream pop hits. And, admittedly, it may all be about me becoming fossilized in what I like as I seem to be with fiction. I’m not complaining. I like what I like.

In any event, I decided to do yet another series of top ten lists, but instead, at least the top three when I could and more when could not help myself. My tastes are, if nothing else, eclectic, but at the same fairly run of the mill.  I doubt my answers would be much different than most other people in my age group who like a certain type of music (or in the case of disco and rap, the few I like).  I’m not going to rank my choice, but try to display them alphabetically. If I screw that up, who cares? All of the selections I have personally listened to or owned. Some of them are performances and some their compositions (we don’t have recordings, e.g., of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven). Some are categories rather than people and the number of choices doesn’t indicate the quality of the performer or composer – it just means they are my clear favorites. Enough talk.

So . . .


Bach is by far my favorite classical composer (though, from what I understand, technically “baroque,” rather than “classical.”  But most people would say he is a classical composer). Prelude No. 1 in C major from the Well-tempered Clavier (which is the basis of the Ave Maria Charles Gounod created almost a century and a half later and which is not the same as Schubert’s Ave Maria around the same time. They are both beautiful, but definitely different. Worth listening to one then the other).

Brandenburg Concertos

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Sinfonia from Toccata 29


Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Symphony no. 21

Symphony no. 40

The Marriage of Figaro, overture


Fifth Symphony, First Movement

Fur Elise (probably really entitled Fur Therese, not Elise, as was discovered much later. This eerie piece is played in movies and tv all the time, but never played in public during Beethoven’s life).

Ninth Symphony (Eroica), Third Movement, Ode to Joy


The 1812 Overture

Romeo and Juliet

Violin Concerto in D major


Night on Bald Mountain

Pictures at an Exhibition

Romeo and Juliet

Violin Concertos

Mendelssohn’s concerto is among my absolute favorite pieces, but I loved all 4 of these back when I listened to classical music a lot.

No. 1, Op. 6 - Paganini

Violin Concerto in D Major – Beethoven

Violin Concerto in E Minor – Mendelssohn

Violin Concerto in D Major – Tchaikovsky


The first listed here is the least well known, but is in my opinion the best of the three, and that is saying something. Other than using the most familiar refrain from it to introduce someone on stage, it is rarely heard these days. But it is really spectacular and worth downloading or however you get music these days. Unfortunately, Carl Orff was a Nazi sympathizer, which makes it hard to have sympathy with him.

Carmina Burana - Orff

Messiah - Handel

Ninth symphony, third movement - Ode to Joy – Beethoven

Louis Armstrong

You could probably say this about all my selections, but I found it very hard to limit myself with him. I picked seven. And I’m sure this would start riots in some circles. And you will have to forgive me for not including Hello, Dolly, Cabaret or Sunnyside of the Street. They just didn’t make the cut. And while I love Zat you Santa Claus as a Christmas song, it also does not make the cut.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

I’m Beginning to See the Light

It Don’t Mean a Thing, If It Ain’t Got that Swing

La Vie en Rose

Mack the Knife

What a Wonderful World

When the Saints Go Marchin’ In

Duke Ellington

A little overlap with Armstrong because some of my favorite Armstrong pieces are Ellington compositions.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

I’m Beginning to See the Light

Take the “A” Train

Count Basie

Every Tub

Jumpin’ at the Woodside

One O’Clock Jump

Louis Prima

If you didn’t know it from past posts, Prima is my all-time favorite performer and Sing, Sing, Sing, the greatest Jazz piece ever composed. Yet I manage to keep it to four.

Buena Sera

I Want to be Just Like You

Sing, Sing, Sing (with a swing) 

Just a Gigolo

Jazz works other than by someone named Louis

In the Mood – Glenn Miller

‘Round Midnight – Thelonius Monk

Take 5 – Dave Brubeck

Frank Sinatra

High Hopes

My Way

New York, New York

The Way You Look Tonight


You Make Me Feel So Young

Chuck Berry

Johnny B Goode

Rock and Roll Music

Roll Over Beethoven

Elvis Presley

Burning Love

Can’t Help Falling in Love

Jailhouse Rock

Viva Las Vegas

The Beatles

Across the Universe

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Here Comes the Sun

Hey, Jude



Ain’t No Mountain High Enough - Ross

Dancing in the Streets – Martha and the Vandellas

Fingertips Parts I and II - Wonder

Let’s Get it On - Gaye

Rolling Stones

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Jumping Jack Flash

Sympathy for the Devil

Waiting for a Friend

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The Who

Baba O’Reilly

I Can See For Miles

Love Reign O’er Me

Won’t Get Fooled Again

The Beach Boys

Good Vibrations

Sloop John B.


She’s Real Fine My 409

Simon & Garfunkle

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Mrs. Robinson

The Boxer

The Sound of Silence

Elton John

A Cat Named Hercules


Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

Gray Seal


Bruce Springsteen

Born to Run

Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Dancing in the Dark

Thunder Road

Santa Claus is Coming To Town

She’s the One

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

My favorite group growing up.

Karn Evil 9

Fanfare for the Common Man (an Aaron Copland composition)


Pictures at an Exhibition

Stevie Wonder


I Just Called to Say I Love You (I know, it’s sappy and made into a tv commercial, but it was a great song)

My Cherie Amour

Sir Duke


You are the Sunshine of My Life


Last Dance (Donna Summers)

McArthur Park (Donna Summers)

TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) (MFSB with The Three Degrees)

When Will I See You Again (The Three Degrees)

You’re My First, My Last, My Everything (Barry White)

Hip Hop

Gangsta’s Paradise (Coolio)

Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)

My Name Is (Eminem)

About Me

My photo
I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .