Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Student Debt Mythology

Advocates of free college claim that student debt is crippling the economy. This, though, isn't true.

Iran Keeps Cheating The Nuclear Deal

Iran's goal to build eight reactors indicates it is not about civilian use - it's cheating its nuclear deal.

How To Stand Up To Islamic Imperialism

By growing up and forgetting about nation-breaking.

Obamacare's Destruction of Healthcare Supply

Obamacare has resulted in a pending shortage of doctors and other such personnel.

How To Fix Iraq And Syria?

A look at possibility toward fixing Iraq and Syria.

Political "Corruption" And Citizens United

Liberals who oppose Citizens United have no clue what political corruption actually looks like.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Democrats Fail At Foreign Policy Yet Again

Joe Biden proves anew how he and Obama can't do anything in foreign policy right.

The JOBS Act Of 2012

In 2012 Congress passed the JOBS Act, a law that implements deregulation in the financial sector. The act needs more work but has shown that deregulation is the real answer to financial issues.

Politicians Think They Can Regulate Savings?

Democrats got the US into its $19 trillion debt - and politicians think they can encourage savings?

More Dubious Dodd-Frank Regulation

The Dodd-Frank law has been a failure because it is more government regulation and has ruined any recovery from 2009 - and it wants to stifle what is paid in incentives - this amid signs it is hurting the oil market.

The Dodd-Frank law's premise stems from a false narrative and presented here are three recommended fixes.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Why Should NASCAR Have A Yellow Line Rule?

NASCAR's yellow line rule for Daytona and Talladega - where passing below the line is ruled illegal - has been in place since the Winston 500 of 2001, when NASCAR implemented it following the Busch Series 300 and a loud protest by Jimmy Spencer.

At least that's the "official" version; the more underground explanation is it was a bone tossed to drivers amid a rumored mass park-out in the 500 to protest NASCAR's roof blade aero package; said parkout never happened.

But the question remains - is it really wise to have a yellow-line rule?





Tony Stewart passes several cars below the yellow line at the start of the final lap





After getting drafted back to about 13th in the 1996 Daytona 500 we see Dale Earnhardt passing in what would be today declared below the yellow line





When Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan battle side by side for the lead Terry Labonte blows past them both by diving below what today is the yellow line





The wild finish to the 1999 Daytona 500 saw plenty of passing below what is today the yellow line




Then there is the most famous example - Junior passing on the apron of Turn Three in 2003


As seen in these examples and also by such dubious yellow-line penalties as Tony Stewart in 2001 (Firecracker 400) and Regan Smith in the 2008 Diehard 500, one has to dispute the sagacity of having a yellow line rule - one is hard pressed to see where it serves any purpose.

Talladega Criticism Remains Wrongheaded



Matt Kenseth's melee has helped set off more criticism of Talladega racing



By now we've all seen them.





Chris Buescher gets tumbled





Kevin Harvick's day ended on his side as Brad Keselowski seized his fourth win in the last sixteen Talladega races


The criticism of Talladega racing has renewed with these three melees, yet the criticism remains wrongheaded. We've seen pieces from Tom Jensen of FOX Sports and an especially moralistic phillipic from Dustin Long at the NBC Sports NASCAR page. "The clock is ticking on the human toll," Long sanctimoniously writes. "When is enough enough with this type of racing?"

Never, Dustin Long.

For one, Landon Cassill put Kevin Harvick in his place responding to Harvick blaming Cassill for the last-lap melee. "His reputation is pretty thin-skinned," Cassill said. And he's not only right, he's right about a lot of other "star" drivers.   The level of sanctimony and thin-skinned cowardice masquerading as attitude has long been an underreported problem with drivers like Harvick, the Busch brothers, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, etc.

The criticism of Talladega and restrictor plate/pack racing has lasted a long time and has always been grossly flawed because its premise is wrong.   Daytona and Talladega are NOT the tracks to be scared of -  it's the OTHER tracks that are ostensibly "less" dangerous but which have been the ones with the worst wrecks.   People like to cite Dale Earnhardt's death as spurring a safety revolution - ignoring that Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Tony Roper, and Blaise Alexander were also killed in that ugly 2000-2001 period and were killed on NON-pack race tracks.

People also forget serious injuries to Sterling Marlin, who suffered a very serious neck injury at Kansas in 2002, or Jerry Nadeau, badly injured in 2003 at Richmond.   The incidence of bad wrecks on non-plate tracks more than makes nonsense of the criticism of Daytona/Talladega racing and other pack/superdraft racing such as in Indycars.

When people cite that 33 to 35 cars in the 40-car field at Talladega were involved in crashes, they ignore that 21 of them not only finished on the lead lap but were in shooting distance of the win.   Indeed the funniest image of the weekend is the banged-up Austin Dillon Chevy that finished third all taped up, which begs the question of why spend so much money on aero when the draft is the ultimate equalizer.


Not that there shouldn't be changes - NASCAR needs to change these Generation Six racecars so the "beachball" aero impediment effect noted by Jamie McMurray and others during the weekend is eliminated and the drivers can push-draft more effectively and more often - perhaps with a larger spoiler; it also needs to take away the no-push-drafting rule in the Xfinity and Truck Series (and so does ARCA); the Aric Almirola-Brendan Gaughn penalty Saturday showed anew the futility of NASCAR's animus against push-drafting; NASCAR's yellow-line out-of-bounds rule has served no purpose and needs to change - being able to pass below the yellow line can only make it safer as opposed to sardine-canning the field with artificial limits on room to race; NASCAR also needs to start talking to drivers about holding their line better.




The ARCA drivers at Talladega put on a terrific battle for the lead and showed noticeably more lane discipline than the NASCAR guys


The image that stands out from the weekend is the twin image of the ARCA General Tire 200 and also Joey Logano swerving Elliott Sadler and thus getting blasted on the final half-mile of the Sparks 300.  Blocking has become more of an issue in recent years with passing so much harder now than several years ago.   That the ARCA drivers showed more discipline than the NASCAR guys should say something.





NASCAR achieved a strikingly perfect balance of tandem-drafting and conventional pack-racing in 2012's Daytona Shootout and it showed how sidedrafting became really effective again.  It was the kind of balance that makes great racing



NASCAR and drivers also need to address a completely overlooked angle - the fact they're breaking 200 MPH in these races again.  People wonder why the roof flaps didn't work in this Talladega race - that they're at or over 200 when 194 was long ago established as the cut-off point for the roof flaps to work - and perhaps 191 is the more true cut-off point there.   Stock cars simply don't need 200 MPH speeds and we're seeing that again the last couple of seasons.


With Kansas coming up, the hypocrisy of the Talladega criticism warrants one more look.   If Kansas sees racing akin to what happened at Talladega - and in the Truck races in 2013 and 2014 the racing was such that Dave Moody compared it to Talladega racing - I suspect a lot of people would be awed by it - as they should be if the racing does increase in competitiveness to Talladega level.

And remember when Bristol was a demolition derby, and now people criticize it because now there's actual room to race?


Talladega is racing at its most competitive - period.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Reminder About Ramzi Yousef

A reminder is posted here about terrorist Ramzi Yousef, who was involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who used an Iraqi passport that was no ordinary passport - and who went to a lot of trouble to hide his real identity with help from the Saddam-era Iraq Intelligence Service.  

2016 ARCA General Tire 200 Talladega




Talladega kicked off its 2016 season with perhaps the race of the weekend.

Talladega Postscript



Matt Kenseth's melee was just one of three melees in a very frustrating Talladega race.

The Geico 500 has left a few people happy and seemingly everyone else anything but.   Talladega being what it is one expects the competition level to be a lot higher than other tracks and one also has seen, not just this weekend but in the past, how much circumstances natural and otherwise plague racers.

It was the most competitive Talladega Cup race since 2014, the overall racing was at times very good, and yet it left a lot to be desired, with Jamie McMurray for one noting it's even harder to pass now with this Generation Six car - anything but a good thing for the sport - and further noting the "beach ball" effect (Dale Junior's description) it generates that is hurting passing.

Some postrace observations -


* This looks more and more like a lost year for Matt Kenseth - Yes, we still have six and a half months of racing to go but by now one would think some momentum would go Kenseth's way.   Leading 347 laps so far this year one would think would be a sign of changing momentum - and all Kenseth has to show for it is two seventh-place finishes.  


* The Fords storm back against the Toyotas - Brad Keselowski pretty much had the lead to himself when it counted and both Penske cars, which had been somewhat quiet in recent races, asserting themselves.   The wildcard, though, was Trevor Bayne, making his first bid for a victory in a long time and the first bid for a Roush car since Carl Edwards left.    It was doubly amazing given Trevor didn't get any drafting help from the other Roush cars who wound up crunched up again at the end.    Bayne also all but doubled his career total for Cup laps led in this one race.


* Even with that the JGR Toyotas remain atop the Hendrick Chevrolets - Dale Junior's season took a decided turn for the worse with a mediocre run at Talladega - his best track - and a crash. After five top-eight finishes in a seven-race span Junior has struggled the last two weeks - and still has not led a lap since Phoenix - and he wasn't alone as Chase Elliott ran good but his teammates weren't around to see it.  

Not that JGR had much of a better day - Kenseth, Edwards, and Hamlin weren't around either, yet the JGR organization looks stronger still compared to the Hendrick fleet.



Stewart-Haas grabs a good day - Ty Dillon brought Tony Stewart's #14 home in the top ten to go with Kurt Busch's wildcard win bid.   It salved some of the damage of Harvick's near-tumble and yet another Danica melee.


* Some good paydays for smaller teams - Brad Daugherty, Bob Jenkins, Barney Vissar, and Jay Robinson all had solid finishes for their cars while HScott Motorsports entered the race amid mild controversy over harsh radio charter from Clint Bowyer about their cars in this, an interregnum season before he takes over Tony Stewart's car; the weekend ended with a solid finish for Bowyer.


* RCR Enterprises has a back-to-the-future moment - Austin Dillon has frankly been uninspiring so far in his Cup career; in Talladega he raced to finish third, while Paul Menard actually challenged for a win.  


* Maybe people need to start questioning Chris Buescher - Buescher tumbled down the backstretch, what became the first of three off-the-ground wrecks, and looking back over the last few seasons, wrecking looks like a pattern with him.


* When it's not your day.... - Aric Almirola looked like an unsung hero as he rallied from a spin, from dodging the Turn One melee, and drafting into the top-ten - then the hole slammed shut in the Kenseth melee.  


* ....it's not your day - Matt DiBenedetto didn't have much to write home about with engine failure.


With Talladega idle until October, the Cup guys head to Kansas City for a Mother's Day eve spectatcular.  

At Talladega And Elsewhere When Will NASCAR Figure It Out?





NASCAR declared Elliott Sadler the winner - even though objectively he isn't





And therein lay one of the fundamental problems NASCAR has that it seems incapable of addressing.   In the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Elliott Sadler was declared winner because the yellow flew for Joey Logano's wreck and NASCAR determined through scoring loops that somehow he was the leader.   Why the yellow even flew at that circumstance is a question without much of an answer - saying it was for safety ignores that the leaders crashed anyway.

Moreover, has NASCAR ever given a credible reason for freezing the field when the caution comes out?  They implemented that rule because two or three cars at New Hampshire in 2003 sped up to put someone a lap down with Dale Jarrett crashed down the frontstretch - rather than hold those specific drivers accountable for a questionable decision, NASCAR decided to change the rule.  

The issue of letting cars race to the line has been a longstanding one where NASCAR has demonstrated the safety rationale for freezing the field is a fraud in such finishes as the 2004 Daytona 250 and the 2007 500.   The entire concept has done nothing for safety; it's put the wrong winner into victory lane on several occasions. 

Even when the right winner was seen, such as in the ARCA General Tire 200 the day before, there was no safety reason for not racing to the line.  

The rule needs to go, period.   Mike Joy in 1990 in Stock Car Racing Magazine proffered a sensible alternative - a red light rule when track conditions make racing to the line dubious - basically throw the red and yellow flags and lights on to make the cars slow down without racing in such a circumstance and revert to the last completed lap for the running order.  

It created needless controversy over what had been a competitive 300-miler for the Xfinity cars at Talladega.   NASCAR's absurd no-superdrafting rule bit Aric Almirola and Brendan Gaughn early on with a pass-through penalty and also once again needlessly stifled passing - best illustrated by the futile sidedraft battle by Joey Logano, Ryan Reid, et al that never got above fourth in tahe race'smiddle stages before Reid's crash set up the frantic final 25 or so laps.   The entire fiasco also ruined a superb effort by Brennan Poole, who took the flag first despite hitting the wall at the stripe with another car.  

It of course started with Logano and swerving with Sadler that sent him into the wall and a vicious semi-T-bone hit, and if you remember such controversies as Irwindale in 2009 that have followed Logano through his career one can feel a bit of poetic justice at work.  

The controversy also puts a damper on Sadler, the official winner for the first time in some two years.   Always a classy type, Sadler shouldn't have to defend himself for winning at Talladega; he wasn't the issue here, NASCAR's judgement is the issue.  


*****


A delicious subplot to this Winston 500 weekend developed with Robbie Allison.   The son of Davey Allison and grandson of Bobby, Robbie won at Anderson Speedway, his first race win.   It's too premature for him to hit the superovals, but that career path looks certain down the road.