Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Israel Took Out Syrian Nuclear Base Circa 2007

Believe It or Not, Syria Could Be In Even Worse Shape

Syria is a bloody mess. Its cities lie in ruins. Its antiquities have been destroyed. And the Syrian leader continues to kill his own people. The death toll may be as high as a half million people. Some 10 million Syrians have been displaced. Reporters working there have described it as hell on earth and the images they've provided support their portrayal.

It's hard to imagine how things could be ghastlier. And yet, if not for a stealth nighttime attack a decade ago, the situation today would almost certainly have been worse. Syria might well have been a young nuclear power.

On Sept. 6, 2007, Israeli fighter jets screamed through the skies of western Syria to drop their payloads on the al-Kibar nuclear facility and end, at least temporarily, the secret nuclear program of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. The buildings that housed Syria's budding nuclear efforts, unknown to the world, had been the focus of a mad, behind-the-scenes diplomatic scramble for several months, as the Israelis tried to enlist U.S. support for the pre-emptive strike.


Paul Johnson's masterpiece of the underappreciated angle of history - the self-appointed "experts" who worm their way into setting the debate - always with disastrous results.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Syria And Iraq's Chemical Weapons

The "Bush Lied" talking point was never credible, and now it appears some of the N-B-C weaponry Iraq built and then shipped out to avoid discovery is now being used by Syria.

The State Department Knew a Year Ago That Syria Likely Still Had Chemical Weapons

Obama just keeps getting exposed as worse and worse

Despite repeated public pronouncements from President Obama, Susan Rice, and others in the Obama administration that a 2013 deal with Russia and Syria had eliminated Syria's declared chemical weapons program, the evidence from continued attacks increasingly and overwhelmingly contradicts this assertion. As recently as Jan. 16, former national security advisor Susan Rice told NPR in an interview, We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.

Rice's statement is being roundly mocked in light of last week's chemical attack in Idlib province. But a year-old report released by the Obama administration's own State Department, which received little attention at the time, also undermines the claims regarding the success of the 2013 deal. The April 2016 report, titled Compliance With the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction Condition 10(C) Report, was not limited to Syria, but also covered Iran, Iraq, and Russia, which may explain why it was underreported. The report's section on Syria specifically, however, is fairly devastating to the Obama administration's case.

Related to all this is this look by Victor Hanson at the bizarre qualities involved in Syria.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The PLO's Balfour Fraud

The Palestinian Authority pushes a myth about the Balfour Declaration to justify continuing hatred of Israel. The record as usual proves the Arabs are the enemy here.

EPA's Unreliable Self-Analysis

Ten problems are shown when the EPA is asked to justify its Clean Power Plan. We also get a look at the flawed models used to justify the myth of global warming.

Debunking The Fascism As Right Wing Myth

Attacks on Donald Trump as another Adolf Hitler show stupidity and laziness, and also trivialize Naziism; also worth attacking is the myth that Naziism/Fascism was in some way a "right wing" ideology - in sober reality fascism was a left-wing belief system, an advocate of state intervention in the economy and the kind of social welfare that in the West is personified by the multi-trillion dollar bankrupcies of public pensions and the overall entitlement state. Shari Berman, in trying to portray fascism as a right-wing ideology, inadvertently shows it was the opposite.

Finding Victims for Trump Budget Cuts

The Mainstream Media goes looking for "victims" of Donald Trump budget cuts

Equal Payday And Ignoring The Market

Equal Pay Day is celebrated as a way to push the myth that women are shafted out of salary earnings. Market reality as usual proves the opposite.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Obama Investigated Trump

Democrats are in denial of this, shown in their parsing during the Comey hearing.

"Could it be the Democrats were "stricken.....because they found out President Trump did wiretap Trump for political purposes?"

It gets worse, as investigations expose Obama and company as the real criminals.

The Stupidity Of Politics

Victor Hanson showcases how people are pummeled by the stupidity of leftism.

Are Restrictor Plates Returning To NASCAR Tracks?

According to NBC Sports NASCAR will run restrictor plates on the Xfinity cars at Indianapolis, this following an encouraging test session at the Brickyard in 2016. The report became fact as NASCAR made the announcement on March 23. Drivers Ryan Reed and Blake Koch expand on the package here. The most intriguing angle is the use of drag ducts, where air blasts into the nose and out the front wheelwells; the IMS test indicated they work.

As one who has studied the history of racing may expect the restrictor plate controversy has raged from 1988 onward with drivers predictably speaking against the restrictor plate, yet in the nearly thirty years since the restrictor plate was re-introduced to NASCAR the case against it has been thoroughly discredited by three decades of actual racing. And alternatives are always presented - Dale Jarrett claiming "open the aerodynamics some....let them have the horsepower trying to do it."

Yet in the history of racing those is search of examples where having more horsepower or adding horsepower opened up passing will fail to find any.

MRN call of the 1971 Yankee 400, a restrictor plate race.

NASCAR first mandated restrictor plates in August 1970 until late-September 1971 when it went to carburetor sleeves - in July 1973 NASCAR returned to running restrictor plates and in March 1974 the Southeastern 500 at Bristol was the last race to run them until 1988.   Michigan in 1971 saw two competitive races with the plate, such as the Yankee 400.   NASCAR nearly mandated the plate for 1979 when several tracks were repaved and speeds shot up markedly as a result - analyst Greg Maness adds that the Chevrolet Laguna S-3 was hit with the plate for 1978 and this is part of why that successful marque was dropped after 1977.

"Some people were saying they would not be able to pass...."  So noted Ned Jarrett two laps into the 1988 Daytona 500, the first to run restrictor plates since 1974.  

While not as competitive as the Daytona 500, that year's Firecracker 400 and Diehard 500 saw eye-popping finishes.

Ned Jarrett repeatedly mocked the opinion that the restrictor plate impeded ability to pass in his racecasts at Daytona and Talladega - because the racing itself disproved the view against it. 

People who cite the 2000 New Hampshire 300 as a case against restrictor plates ignore how in the radial tire era stock cars have long struggled to pass there and everywhere - when the Modifieds race at New Hampshire they have run restrictor plates since the track opened - with no impediment to passing at all.  

It also ignores how the longer the drivers ran with this plate package the more used to it they became and the more aggressive they started to get in the racing.   Restrictor plate usage far beyond just this one race would certainly have seen drivers figure out passing in such a horsepower box.

The notion - advanced by many, not just Dale Jarrett - that adding horsepower will increase passing not only is not supported by any realworld evidence, it is further discredited by Indycar's absurd push-to-pass button, which adds short bursts of extra horsepower akin to nitrous oxide usage - it has been in Indycars for several years with zero discernable increase in incidence of passing.  It was bulkier racecar bodies, air-displacement wings - and the combination present in the modern-day Wheldon-12 racecar - with no particular increase in horsepower that opened up passing (the use of air-displacement by Indycars  also brings to mind NASCAR's successful roof blade package, curiously never used in race conditions on smaller tracks despite several test sessions with this package at Charlotte).

The blunt reality is Dale Jarrett is wrong.   NASCAR has needed to expand restrictor plate usage for two decades.   The New Hampshire experiment should not have ended in that one race and the pending use of restrictor plates at Indianapolis should not be limited to that one race - or that one weekend - either.   The fact is NASCAR has too much horsepower by over 250 and has had such for one and a half generations.  

The Camping World Trucks have run small engine spacers - which serve the same effect as the restrictor plate - for a number of years and they have seen excellent racing.

Balancing the horsepower, tire, downforce, and drafting effect is how Indycar has exploded the last quarter-century in competitive racing and how NASCAR can reach that same end.   Restrictor plates have worked - period - so NASCAR should mandate them not just for Indianapolis, but beyond.

NASCAR is shooting for racing like this (from Indy Lights in 2016 and 2013) for the Brickyard and elsewhere - with racecars that are underpowered.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Empathy's Failure As Policy

Empathy's Unintended Consequences

When you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, then-senator Barack Obama told a standing-room-only crowd in 2006 at Xavier University's commencement, whether they are close friends or distant strangers—it becomes harder not to act, harder not to help. Empathy has become, in many precincts of 21st-century America, both the preferred tool for moral reasoning and a paramount value in its own right. But in this well-reasoned tract, Paul Bloom punctures empathy's seeming invulnerability by outlining its serious flaws, arguing instead for the use of compassionate but rational judgment in reaching ethical decisions.

Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, begins by defining empathy, with most contemporary psychologists and philosophers, as the act of feeling what you believe other people feel—experiencing what they experience. He also explores the nature of empathy, including its roots in the human brain—specifically, the cingulate cortex and anterior insula. Because empathic reactions to the experiences of others trigger the same gray matter as if you yourself underwent that experience, claiming  'I feel your pain' isn't just a gooey metaphor: it can be made neurologically literal.

Senate Democrats' Incoherence on Gorsuch and Executive Power

The Democratic Party continues to prove itself utterly irrelevant to anything as they go after Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination by attacking him in a way where they want it both ways

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's Not 'Losing' Coverage if You Choose Not to Have It

The central myth pushed by HillaryCare and Obamacare is that "40 million didn't have health insurance." The fact is they CHOSE not to get it - because they didn't need it.

Study: Obama-Era Guidance Undermined Its Own Aims

"An Obama administration guidance, sidestepping law to serve an albeit well-meaning social agenda, may have deepened the very injustice it was meant to correct. Haven't I heard this before?"

The False Claim About 24 Million 'Losing' Insurance

The Democrats as usual use a fraudulent and dishonest argument

In the hour it was reported with smothering ubiquity that the GOP's Obamacare replacement would cause 24 million individuals to lose insurance, the debate about government health care policy was given a bucket of buffalo wings, a wet nap, and a day off. It was about to get sloppy and awfully lazy.
24 million people losing insurance is roughly equivalent to the population of 15 particular states, Rachel Maddow tweeted, not one of them with more than five electoral votes, but, when listed vertically, appeared ominous. Almost 50,000 users have hit the retweet button.

That's 50,000 users who have participated in the week's biggest question-begging exercise. Nowhere in the Congressional Budget Office's projections about the American Health Care Act did the agency say the bill would cause 24 million to lose coverage—cancel it or take it from them. The report, rather, estimated that the total number of individuals insured under the Republican plan would eventually be 24 million fewer than the total insured under Obamacare. Why is that?

Enough With Phony Islamophobia

"Americans are constantly warned by mainstream media that our prejudices and intolerance 'radicalize' Muslims.

It's the phony recruitment argument Barack Obama used to oppose US victory in Iraq and "Islamophobia" continues to impress reality by its nonexistence - especially as Muslims themselves fabricate stories of Islamophobic violence.
"Hate crime hoaxes empower Islamic extremists."

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The CBO And Obamacare

A lot of people don't trust the CBO - and it's because it is so often wrong. Some examples are presented where it gets it wrong.

Of course being flawed doesn't mean its data isn't worthwhile - as its recent estimate on Republicans' repeal effort shows it will among other things repeal penalties on employers as well as on individuals.

Also worth reading is this optimistic epistle on Obamacare's repeal.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Hypocrisy And Thoughtlessness In Racing Analysis

The word that New Hampshire International Speedway has been sacrificed for a second Las Vegas Motor Speedway Winston Cup date and that Charlotte will run the road course for its National 500 in 2018 has brought out not just foolish media analysis but worse, it has exposed the hypocrisy involved in the whole issue of what kind of speedways ought to have Winston Cup dates.

Twenty years ago New Hampshire debuted its second Winston Cup date with some spirited racing

The first issue to dispel - New Hampshire is a far better racing and sports market than Las Vegas - and worth adding in is Kentucky Speedway, also a superior sports market than Vegas, is itself being jerked around with the seizing of its stand-alone Xfinity Series race for Vegas.   The claim made is they can get more money at Vegas than at New Hampshire (or Kentucky) but that's never been true, and the same issue shows itself with Los Angeles, like Vegas a transient market with no substantive support for sports.    There simply is nothing in Las Vegas that warrants getting a second Winston Cup date and nothing has happened at New Hampshire that justifies taking away a date.

Quite a few fans hooted that New Hampshire deserved to lose one of its dates because "it's the most boring track." Certainly competitively it hasn't lived up to the bigger ovals, but the criticism draws out the fraudulence involved in the issue of racetracks and who "deserves" a date.

One of the subliterate mantras from fans is "we need more short tracks."   New Hampshire is a short track - but bigger and wider.   To this some counter with the foolish claim "no, New Hampshire is an intermediate track," except by no stretch can that claim hold water.    The Loudon track has the qualities of a short track but is much wider and is bigger, with substantially more room to race than most short tracks.   A fan criticism that Loudon "stole" its second date from North Wilkesboro ignores that Wilkesboro was woefully weaker a track than the Loudon oval - the reality is while the specifics of getting the date should have played out better, North Wilkesboro could not compete with New Hampshire.

The hypocrisy of course long predated the condemnation of New Hampshire.   When Bristol's corners were altered to open up a raceable high groove, the result was a striking improvement in passing and a noticeable reduction in cautions.

Bristol got back the competitive moxie it had had in the 1989-91 period - and yet a lot of fans criticized Bristol because now it was about passing and actual racing instead of constant crashing.   "There's no beating and banging at Bristol" became the new mantra, and it is silly.   By any sober measure Bristol became a better racetrack than it had been.

The hypocrisy then extends to advocacy for more road courses.   Fans say they want better racing, but the reality is they're advocating for facilities that are not better racing.   By now it is well know road courses are the least competitive venues in racing.  The claim having eight to ten corners as a typical road course has opens more opportunities for passing is laughable because the opposite is the truth - the extra corners and switchbacks do nothing but stifle passing.

Road courses don't offer anything safer than superspeedways, either.

So fans say "we need more short tracks" and "we need more road courses" ostensibly for better racing - except one of the tracks they condemn (New Hampshire) is itself a short track type, and it isn't better racing on either venue.   Short tracks certainly are excellent for local racing and smaller touring series but it's the superspeedways - of which the "cookie cutters" are part - that are the most competitive venues in motorsports.

The heart of the issue is fans are being disingenuous through and through.   The real reason for advocacy of more short tracks and more road courses is a fundamentally negative and self-defeating one - fans are beyond frustrated at the lack of passing on the bigger ovals.   If fans would be more honest and acknowledge this frustration then the substantive discussion can begin.   People have been hypocrites for attacking "cookie cutter" tracks and demanding more short tracks and road courses even though the "cookie cutters" by any measure are superior racing venues with higher incidence of passing than short tracks and especially road courses.   This is why the racetrack boom of 1997-2001 so emphasized intermediate ovals instead of short tracks or road courses.

So what fans should do is ask the real question - why is it so damned hard to get more passing on the bigger ovals?   Having more short tracks is not the answer and having more road courses is not the answer - addressing the balance of downforce, tire, horsepower, and drafting strength of the racecars - something the Trucks finally have gotten a handle on the last six-plus years on the bigger ovals, as Indycars finally found in the latter 1990s to where they've had a striking number of excellent battles on intermediates as well as the bigger ovals from 1998 onward - ultimately that is the answer.   Addressing the related issue of incentive to go for the lead has been done with NASCAR's new "segment" bonus points structure.

Sports analysis - heck, analysis of any major issue - always is in need of substance.   For racing it is doubly needed to truly solve the problems the sport faces.

The Infrastructure Myth

Contrary to widespread political myth, US infrastructure is in very good shape and not in need of significant repair or "investment."

NASCAR's Ministry Of Silly Ideas

In its history NASCAR has never lacked silly ideas and in a 2017 season where it is trying to rebuild eroded popularity - and got off to a good start at such with a boffo Daytona Speedweeks - silly ideas are coming again to NASCAR's fore.

The first is word that Speedway Motorsports Inc. will transfer one of its races - widely reported to be the New Hampshire 300 in Loudon, NH - to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a "Chase" period race.   The notion that NASCAR cannot add a 37th race to its Cup schedule if of course always trotted out even though it's not plausible, and the notion that any of SMI's dates is somehow worth switching to Vegas is more preposterous, considering that New Hampshire is a proven racing market and Vegas has yet to prove itself even a worthwhile sports market.   

The shame of it is Vegas is a good speedway and racetracks are supposed to be working together - speedway fratricide has never solved anything.  

The next silly idea is that Charlotte will run its October National 500 in 2018 on the track's infield road course.   I hear over and over "90 percent of fans want another road course in NASCAR," yet nowhere does anyone try to explain why.   The reason is fans are so frustrated over lack of passing on ovals that they think they're getting back at NASCAR by lobbying for road courses.   It's not a constructive reason, it's a self-defeating one.

The blunt reality is road racing is the least competitive form of racing in all of motorsports.   NASCAR has a long history of road races with the Winston Cup Grand National series competing at Riverside, CA, Watkins Glen, NY, and Sears Point, CA.    In 48 career races at Riverside NASCAR's Grand National cars averaged a paltry ten to eleven lead changes a race (506 total) - only five times in Riverside's history did it exceed fifteen lead changes in a race.   In 34 career Watkins Glen races entering 2017 the track has averaged only nine lead changes a race (312 total), while Sears Point in 28 races entering 2017 has averaged a paltry eight lead changes per race (240 total).  

Road races in NASCAR - and other classes - have produced some of racing's most vicious crashes, perhaps the highest violence of crashes with the lowest incidence of passing in motorsports. 

The other argument I hear is "NASCAR needs more diversity in racetracks."  No, it doesn't - it needs more lead changes.   Road courses are incapable of producing competitive racing by their very nature - short to medium straights (Watkins Glen's lengthy straights make it something of an outlier), constant switchbacks and tight corners, general narrowness, lack of room to generate any consistent momentum to pass.    Driving a racecar is not racing a racecar let alone racing other racecars.  

Defenders of road courses will cite exciting finishes at some events, except they are so rare that when they do occur they become more memorable than they really warrant.   Not that the 2011-12 Watkins Glen victories by Marcus Ambrose weren't dramatic, but they were both set up by a mistake by Kyle Busch......

.....the second time a backmarker's blown engine and subsequent a cheapshot by Brad Keselowski set off that finish; it was far less any intrinsic competitive value in road racing and certainly nothing unusual for most ovals.  

The blunt truth is there is no valid competitive reason to add another road race to NASCAR, and fans and media really should analyze the sport a lot better than just repeating some subliterate mantra because they're frustrated over lack of passing on ovals.

NASCAR should tell Charlotte to say no to the road race, be it 2018 or whenever.  

Monday, March 06, 2017

Liberal Evil At Middlebury

At Middlebury College Leftists tried to shut off Charles Murray for the crime of showing up liberalism to be a fraud. It is of course how leftism works - it can't win the debate on facts so it resorts to violence.

A follow-up is presented here while the larger scandal of mob censorship on campus is examined here.

Trump Derangement Syndrome Gets Hacked

The Mainstream Media didn't notice, but the myth that Soviet hacking cost the Democrats the 2016 election has just been forever disproven.

Yale And Title IX

A lawsuit against Yale showcases the college sanctioning abuse of power in the name of the phony law called Title IX.

The Atlanta Falcons 500

NASCAR's annual foray to Atlanta wound up resembling the Atlanta Falcons' 2016 playoff run - Kevin Harvick monopolized the first two rounds and monopolized the championship round before the entire enterprise disintegrated.   And when the final few laps arrived it was Brad Keselowski grabbing the win and Harvick left to stew with only a ninth place finish after leading a whopping 292 laps.    The race left some tidbits to munch on heading to Vegas -

Repave Atlanta - Before the weekend Marcus Smith of SMI said the track will be repaved for 2018, but drivers said and wrote on social media insisting the track should stay as it is because drivers like the feel of the track and like tire falloff.    This 2017 running by any sober reading ended any justification for putting off repaving any longer.   Tire wear was more of an issue than usual with several failures due to excessive wear, and passing was more limited than usual - almost a rumor, due not just to the unraceability of the asphalt but also to NASCAR's latest downforce reduction.  

In its history as a quad-oval Atlanta's most competitive races - such as the two on display above - came when the asphalt was still fresh and teams didn't have to use ten sets of tires to run 500 miles.    

The Aaron Rodgers Mister Irrelevant Award -  Kevin Harvick has made something of a habit in recent seasons of leading a lot and not cashing in the win.   In his last 110 starts spanning 2014 onward he has led the most laps a stunning twenty times without a win to show for it.    So far in 2017 he's reached one such Mister Irrelevant race to go with 342 total laps led.     "I didn't follow what I preach," he said afterward about botching his last stop.

Upshots come in stages - Yet for Harvick leading all these laps is doing him a world of good - his average finish is 15th compared to 4th for Kurt Busch - yet Harvick leads the points race thanks to winning NASCAR's new stages, with the bonus points awarded therein.    This validates the basic premise of the stages - incentivizing going for the lead.   

The only nit to pick there is NASCAR no longer awards bonus points for leading or most laps led - keeping that would further incentivize going for the lead.

It's a Stewart-Haas Racing World -  And right now we in NASCAR are just dwelling in it.   Harvick and Busch are 1-2 in points and SHR is easily the deepest team in the garage area - to where even the inept Danica Patrick hasn't been the total embarrassment she's been in the past.   No one else can come close despite Penske Racing's Atlanta win by Brad Keselowski to go with his third in points and Joey Logano's fifth, and respectable depth being shown by Ganassi's team, now building its own chassis and showing noticeably more muscle.  

The harder they fall - Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing so far look like walking wounded - Chase Elliott is fourth in points and Kasey Kahne is eighth, while Hendrick's Name drivers Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are 32nd and 33rd in points with the Daytona crash so far serving as the nadir; Atlanta didn't exactly spark any kind of rally.   JGR isn't in any better shape as Kyle Busch's Daytona stage win and Matt Kenseth's surprising third at Atlanta have highlighted an otherwise terrible start to the season; and so far the less said about Daniel Suarez's efforts the better. 

Is this the beginning of a Roush Renaissance?  -   At Atlanta the Roush-Fenway Fords were not the minor embarrassment they've been for the last four seasons as Ricky Stenhouse actually showed some respectable form while Trevor Bayne finished tenth.   Sustaining competitive form has been a problem with this gang the last four seasons, so promise still needs to be replicated before we can see the Roush guys as a legitimate force again.  

If it looked too good to be true...... - .....then it must be RCR.   A promising Speedweeks and a promising Atlanta Sunday netted very little, and I was surprised by some of the vehemence against Austin Dillon on some forums following this Atlanta 500.   Even with that Dillon's career has been nothing to feel encouraged about and there hasn't been reason to believe there's any potential there.   Ryan Newman likewise provided a big tease in the Atlanta 500 but in the end posted another mediocre result.  As for Paul Menard, he is what he is - lower-level talent.  

So it goes, with Vegas now on the docket; it should be a better test of NASCAR's new segments format et al as the wildcard of having to change tires every 40 laps shouldn't play out.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Myth Of Dodd-Frank Defended

Democratic demagogues like Liz Warren want to defend the Dodd-Frank law that meddles in banking and has caused small banks to disappear, and recent testimony from Fed Chairman Janet Yellen tries to strengthen their case - a case based on inaccuracies.

EPA Driven By Bad Science - Again

The EPA often makes policy based on "sue and settle" harassment of companies by non-governmental organizations, and such NGOs (not to mention the EPA itself) go on inaccurate science, such as with EPA restrictions on pesticides.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Spendaholic States Now Out Of Money

It's the same pattern for states that insist on spending - they run out of money and then whine for more taxes. And it never works.

Fake News, Exposed

The sham resignation of two Obama rumpswabs shows anew the dishonesty of Mainstream Media

In an article on the Atlantic website, a former Obama White House staffer explains why she resigned from the Trump White House after only eight days. Rumana Ahmed thought she should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration she writes, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America's Muslim citizens.

But then the executive order suspending visa issuance for Syrian refugees and suspending it temporarily for nationals of seven Muslim majority countries forced her hand. She quit. She had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country's most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim.

The basic premise of the story doesn't pass the smell test.

Or to put it another way, the Atlantic piece is disinformation by Bed Rhodes, with whom Rumana Ahmed worked.

See also this look at three Islamic brothers whose email hacking exposes possible Democratic collusion with Islamic terrorism.

Manufacturing Optimism

Can factory jobs be made in America again?

Gastonia, N.C.
For nearly 20 years, Michael Philbeck drove forklifts and fixed machines at a factory here that makes materials for car tires. Over the years, as dozens of other plants west of Charlotte closed, his hung on.
A few years ago, though, Philbeck started looking for ways to boost his pay. With a wife and five kids, the $20 an hour from the Firestone Fibers & Textiles plant wasn't going far.

The Army veteran returned to school, to the local community college. But he didn't train for a career in technology or health care or some other flashy field that receives a lot of positive press. Instead, he started studying something called mechatronics—a blend of mechanical engineering, electronics, and computers.

His new job? It's back at the Firestone plant, where he will make $5 an hour more when he finishes his degree at Gaston College. That works out to a raise of roughly $10,000 a year. Philbeck, 41, says he feels good about staying with the company in a new role, and he's optimistic he can establish himself with skills that are in demand. He doubled down on manufacturing.

Labor Share Drop Overstated

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has overstated the decline of US labor share.

How To Attack Affordable Housing

A look at affordable housing and the absurdity of government intervention.

Dial Back The Administrative State

Reducing government bureaucracies always is beneficial.

Iran Confirms Obama Paid Ransom

Iran has now confirmed it received over $1 billion in ransom from Barack Obama.   So Obama is now officially a traitor.

Daytona Postscript - Should NASCAR Ask For A New Tire Supplier?

There are more takeaways to draw from Speedweeks 2017

Kyle Busch's criticism of Goodyear makes for an interesting subplot for Goodyear's NASCAR contract expires after 2017 and after years  - decades really - of periodic tire issues and "aggressive setups" buck-passing by Goodyear (Update March 20 - numerous tire failures at Phoenix and to a lesser extent Atlanta and Vegas add to the issue), the question should be - should NASCAR have a different tire supplier after 2017?

I say emphatically Yes.

The blunt reality is Goodyear has had its run but has never been able to hang with competition - when it had to race Firestone in Indycars it was Firestone that won out in the end, and the only reason Goodyear won its two tire competitions with Hoosier despite having more incidence of tire failure than Hoosier was simple numbers, money (being a much bigger company) and attrition.   A lot of NASCAR people are leery of the tire war periods of 1988-89 and 1994, but compared to the Goodyear monopoly period one struggles to make the case that the tire war periods were truly worse.

The most raceable tires Goodyear has fielded in NASCAR the last twenty-five years were the leftover tire-war tire used in 1995-96 and the latter-1999 tire designed to battle Hoosier in Winston West that was used starting in the August Yankee 400 and for several races the rest of that year.   Outside of that, the tire Goodyear has fielded for Cup and also the Busch/Xfinity Series has not been that good, forgiving, or raceable.  And through this period the raceability of the tire has almost always not been adequately addressed - fan Mike Babine notes Goodyear admitted in 2008-09 it didn't design the tire for the present-generation Winston Cup cars - and at this point NASCAR is in need of some new ideas that actually address raceability.   People forget it was Hoosier Race Tire that brought to NASCAR some innovative ideas - races where Hoosier-shod cars ran 500 miles using fewer tires than Goodyear guys for one.

I do not have confidence Goodyear can handle it since they have such a poor record at it - only when it was challenged by Hoosier or it flat stumbled onto something did Goodyear improve raceability.  In that 1995-96 period racing greats Chris Economaki and Dick Berggren noted the tires raced more like bias-plies.

The one caveat to put in is the Truck Series the last five seasons has seen a remarkable increase in passing and side-by-side racing and it seems clear the tire there is more forgiving and raceable.  


There was also the unusual Brian France comment at the prerace drivers meeting addressing the growing problem of blocking during Speedweeks.   That France actually addressed it was surprising enough; that he in essence said was NASCAR is not going to listen if drivers complain about blocking seems a change of pace for NASCAR - NASCAR basically saying the drivers have the onus of accountability here.    That blocking is now a legitimate issue should not be denied; that adding yet more rules when NASCAR needs to start taking away some rules - regarding blocking, letting the cars push-draft more and letting them pass below the yellow line would certainly cut down on blocking - is foolish. 


Atlanta now beckons and it will be NASCAR's 2,500th Winston Cup Grand National race.   The track will finally be repaved after this race, something that should have happened many years ago.     So it goes as NASCAR's inaugural Monster Energy season gets going.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Busch And Blaney Bag Bizarre Daytona 500

The 2017 Daytona 500 will go down as the most competitive running since 2014 - 37 official lead changes seems low given how sustained the nose-to-nose battles for the lead were - and one of the more bizarre runnings and one that decidedly didn't go according to anyone's plan.   It was also a humorously fitting debut for Monster Energy Drink's sponsorship of the Winston Cup Grand National series, not only for the intensity of the racing but also for the imaginative nature of some of the promotion - in a clever crossover of sports Patriots tight end/controlled party star Rob Gronkowski was part of the prerace show (adding to the irony the prerace show proceeded amid the Boston Bruins' 6-3 whipping of the Dallas Stars, a nice synergy of racing, football, and hockey) - was won by a car whose primary sponsor is also the series sponsor - a scenario the sport has seen play out from such races as the 1975 Purolator 500 (won by the Purolator Mercury) to the 1981 Mountain Dew 500 (won by the Mountain Dew Buick) and so on.   There is plenty to break down in this one -

The curious case of Joe Gibbs Racing -  NASCAR's new segment format saw the first case of raceteams trying to beat the format with strategy, and the result was farce.   Joe Gibbs Racing put themselves behind the eight ball by short-pitting fifteen laps in, and cost themselves a lap doing it again later.   Stewart-Haas Racing short-pitted and caught a lucky caution courtesy of rookie Corey LaJoie, who committed the dumbest rookie mistake we've seen in a while.    Kevin Harvick cycled into the lead, but it seemed he would have done so without short-pitting - the whole strategy of working pitstop sequencing backwards as if a superspeedway were a road course did nothing but put the teams who kept short-pitting behind the eight ball.   

Kyle Busch wound up winning the first segment and the bonus points resulting, this after some of the best Daytona Cup racing in many years, and after two days of terrific racing from the Truck and Busch/Xfinity Series.  

But Kyle Busch's day ended past halfway after JGR yet again short-pitted and were barely on the lead lap during a lengthy green flag run - and a tire went down (the resulting melee also saw the third red flag in two days of racing).    Kyle Busch's criticism of Goodyear was refreshing given Goodyear's seeming sense of entitlement for being an exclusive tire supplier and also its inconsistent and generally mediocre record with raceable tires - and in an odd coincidence 2017 marks the last year of Goodyear's present contract.

The net result was a confusing series of pit strategies, the likes of which Daytona hasn't really seen since the ill-fated 1991 500 when NASCAR banned tire changes under yellow and teams insisted on strategizing to avoid green flag stops.  

Chase Elliott channeling Ernie Irvan - Chase Elliott won the pole and won his qualifying race, and he showed true aggression fighting to get to the front.   The problem was Elliott at times looked less like his dad and closer to Ernie Irvan, looking out of control at times - before the race NASCAR gave a mild warning about "the consequences" of blocking, which had become more pronounced for the Cup side not just this Speedweeks but last season as well.   Elliott got damage in one of the crashes, but the theme all week was cars getting damaged and roaring back to the lead anyway - "these cars look like they've been running Martinsville" was a phrase Darrell Waltrip first used at Talladega in 1996.

Five years ago this July Kurt Busch was in what amounted to NASCAR exile from his firing from Penske Racing thanks to chronic psychopathic behavior on the track and in his treatment of people around him - he exploded to one of the signature races of the decade in winning the 2012 Firecracker 250.

Five years later Busch's Ford was crunched up and he clawed to steal the win from Kyle Larson.    It is his fifth win for Stewart-Haas Racing and first in a Ford since the Summer 500 at Pocono in 2005 driving for Roush Racing.  

Pearson/Petty reborn plus a whale of a day for darkhorses - Not that Richard Petty qualifies as a darkhorse in the traditional sense, but the struggle for success for Petty's raceteam the last thirty-plus years doesn't require elaboration, and seeing Aric Almirola claw to finish fourth was something to behold.   Even more magical was that Petty's #43 and the Wood Brothers #21 were in the lead draft at the end - though Ryan Blaney raced closer to Tim Richmond than David Pearson en route to a spectacular second and an eye-opening Speedweeks.  

And muscling into the fray was AJ Allmendinger, driving Brad Daugherty's #47 and finishing a solid third.    And the way the finish shook out it was a big payday for team owners Jay Robinson, Archie St. Hilaire, and Mark Beard, whose cars all finished in the top-eleven.

How much more incentive is there to go for the lead?   This much..... -  Kevin Harvick finished 22nd and outpointed all but four other cars - Joey Logano finished sixth and outpointed all but two other cars.   In the Truck race Johnny Sauter finished 15th and is second in Truck points - all because the new bonus points structure rewards going to the front sooner rather than later.    Incentivizing going for the lead - it may be just one race weekend but it's clear there is more incentive to go for the front now - and that is only a good thing for racing.

In all, it was by far the best Speedweeks in years, and a great start for Monster Energy in NASCAR.    It can become even more competitive down the road - and this start gives reason that it will.

Roush And Reed Get Lighter At Daytona

NASCAR's Busch/Xfinity Series debuted a lighter downforce package and wound up raising more of the same questioning that has permeated NASCAR for the longest time as Daytona's Powershares 300 exploded and for the second time in three years Ryan Reed stole the win.

The two Daytona wins are the unquestioned highlight of a youngster whose overall career has yet to truly take off, with just eleven top-tens in 106 starts - though what this says about Roush Racing's collapse as a NASCAR power, especially since taking in John Henry as a team partner, is also worth keeping in mind.

The racing proved to be very competitive - when it appeared several times it would be an Elliott Sadler romp the yellows and the draft rolled back up and pushed into a spirited fight for the lead - but NASCAR's obsessions with loose racecars, stifling push-drafting (seeming to ignore of course that the drivers keep at it given it's the strongest power to pass one can ever get), and lack of downforce (the lightness of the cars and the shape of the bumpers of course is alluded to by Kevin Harvick above) bit in a big way as half the field failed to finish and the yellow flew a whopping ten times all told, with two red flags by the 30th lap.

Of course drivers cannot be let anywhere off the hook for causing these wrecks, best shown here when Scott Lagasse - who finished sixth, continuing a Speedweeks trend of eye-opening darkhorses grabbing quality efforts and results - tried to kick Tyler Reddick in the Ganassi-SABCO Chevy for a field goal; Spencer Gallagher wound up being one of some twenty swept up entering Three - you could call it a costly, unwanted, and futile Cris Dishman imitation blocking a kick.  

The wrecks didn't end there - Daniel Hemric didn't impress anyone at the end of the first race segment as he got involved in the next big melee.  

When it was all over the above-mentioned Speedweeks trend of eye-opening darkhorses showcased numerous quality finishes and also quality runs snuffed out by one reason or another.   Consider good old "Smut" Means and driver Joey Gase finishing seventh - old-school NASCAR fans remember Jimmy Means as the ultimate hard-luck independent, his #52 always there, always sporting as much of a quality preparation as his seemingly-perennial limited resources could allow.   Consider also Garrett Smithley and Harrison Rhodes in Johnny Davis' Chevrolets (teammate Ross Chastain was less fortunate), both quietly grabbing the top ten.    While 14th may not be that spectacular, Michael Annett's 14th after major damage constitutes something he shouldn't be ashamed of - especially given how seriously injured he was in 2013's running.

NASCAR's bonus point structure for race stages made its Busch Series debut and as in the Truck 250 the previous night Segment Two was the calmer of the first two.   In all it was somewhat hard to gauge how much more incentivized the drivers were to lead simply because the race flow was so ragged in Segment One - nonetheless it's clear the concept has indeed added needed incentive to go for the front and sooner rather than later.  

So for the coming Atlanta NASCAR weekend racing has some answers regarding NASCAR's new bonus point structure - and reason for optimism for better competition as a result down the road.   As for the Xfinity Series as well as their Truck brethren it was another slam-bang Speedweeks, another exercise in opportunity and frustration.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Daytona Truck Chaos Comes In Stages

While it won't go down as the greatest Daytona race in the history of the Truck Series (2016's running ranks as number one or two) the 2017 Nextera Truck 250 saw awesome racing and also hair-raising melees and served as the first running of the new points incentives NASCAR has implemented with Monster Energy Drink's entry into sponsorship of the Winston Cup Grand National series.

NASCAR's new "stage" concept rewards bonus points for top-10 positions after two stages initiating the race, the two stages encompassing roughly the first half of each race.   This incentive to go to the front early certainly showed itself with a spectacular 20-lap opening run following an early melee, the lead changing hands over and over and Christopher Bell making a stirring shot for the first segment win - a challenge torn asunder as shown here by Spencer Gallagher's curious Ernie Irvan imitation.

The melee at the end of Lap 20 appeared to spook the field, who pounded out laps for most of the second segment and the fight for the lead raged on and off until another Christopher Bell crash just as green flag stops began threw things into confusion. 

Bell had a rough night - and still finished eighth.   He wasn't the only driver with that roller coaster as John Hunter Nemechek crashed several times - and still finished third while his dad, who hasn't raced a whole lot the last three seasons, grabbed  fourth - and ultimately the race came to a green-white-checker finish and what looked to be the most amazing finish in Daytona history instead became the biggest wreck of Speedweeks so far, a race that wiped out Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes, and Matt Crafton's amazing bid for the win - and left a surprised rookie in Kaz Grala - a native of Boston, MA, known in racing circles for the fiasco of the aborted Boston Indycar street race - as the youngest winner in NASCAR history. 

It was a curious night for Grala, who led fourteen laps from the pole yet took a fairly distant back seat to the fight for the lead that raged during this night.

The chaos of the race leaves us with the following takes -

NASCAR's new stages clearly added some needed incentive to go for the lead early on - always a good thing for competition.

The Trucks showed noticeably better lane discipline than the Cup cars, due in large part because the draft is more effective with the Trucks, but also because the Truck racers are making push-drafting more and more effective within the excessive rules box NASCAR has put them in.    This not only increased passing, it cut down markedly on the blocking that is becoming a problem in the Cup series.

And lost in everything were astonishing finishes by Austin Wayne Self and Chase Briscoe. 

And so has begun NASCAR's brave new world of bonus points for race stages - and it leaves one wondering how the rest of Speedweeks - and of 2017 - will play out.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The First Eye-Openers Of Speedweeks 2017

We now have the first true eye-openers of Speedweeks 2017.

The first shocker was Chase Elliott storming to the win in the first 150 after such a poor effort in the Busch Clash.   It also broke up the expected dominance of Penske Racing's Fords and Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas; Kyle Busch in particular suffered when the field almost wrecked amid heavy blocking; also waylaid was Paul Menard, who'd quietly stormed into contention.    The other Fords also acquitted themselves - Stewart-Haas was expected to be stout, lesser expectation was applied to the Petty-Roush trio but those Fords ran strong as well; it was actually disappointing Aric Almirola and Trevor Bayne finished out of the top five.   


But the bigger shocker came even though Denny Hamlin winning at Daytona doesn't come across as a surprise - the surprise was that he stormed past Dale Earnhardt Jr., returning to NASCAR after sitting out half the season recovering from a concussion.    Junior grabbed the lead early and then got into a spirited sidedraft fight with Denny Hamlin.  After a midrace yellow Ryan Blaney made a hard challenge to Junior; the challenge got very chippy as at one point Blaney faked out Junior and dove to the bottom and inches ahead but got no drafting help.    It thus appeared Junior would cruise to another qualifying race win - except Hamlin got the drafting push and stormed to the win just before the white flag.

So with the 500 field now set, some quick takes -

The upsurge in blocking in plate races nearly caused at least one melee in the 150s, contributed to the Hamlin-Keselowski crash in the Busch Clash, and is becoming a problem for NASCAR between stifling passing - the drivers' on-track goal, naturally - and also the potential for crashes beyond the two-car set-to in the Clash.   Drivers of course also tried to push-draft; it's worth noting when they could do it with authority there wasn't much if any blocking, so it constitutes the ultimate mixed bag for everyone involved.   Even with that there was noticeably more lead changing in the 150s than in the Clash, an encouraging sign for Speedweeks.  
The Hendrick, JGR, and Penske fleets grabbed the Thursday gold, but numerous teams acquitted themselves more than respectably - the Petty-Roush alliance showed drafting fight - Aric Almirola in particular curiously commenting before the race about need for more fight on his part - while the RCR Chevrolets may have been the biggest surprise, as very little was expected here yet Austin Dillon pushed Hamlin to the late lead and finished well in his 150 while teammates Newman and Menard largely unnoticed proved they can surge to the front.   The Ganassi-SABCO Chevrolets also showed fight, especially Jamie McMurray in spots looking like Donnie Allison in the #1.

The SHR Fords as expected were stout; the biggest surprise has been Danica Patrick, who followed up a 4th in the Clash with 7th in her 150.    The return of Clint Bowyer to the front after his miserable lameduck year of 2016 was certainly welcome.

Dark horses were in evidence as well - Cole Whitt, Ty Dillon, former Firecracker 400 and Winston 500 winner David Ragan, the above-mentioned Ryan Blaney, and Ty Dillon mixed it up respectably all night.

Decidedly unimpressive was JGR rookie Daniel Suarez, who'd run second for much of the Clash but looked like a rookie from Jump Street in the 150s.  

And so Speedweeks 2017 has truly kicked off.

The Immigration Maze

Activists portray illegal immigration as a noble act - yet never consider that it would be legal if it was in fact a noble (and accountable) act. Lack of accountability permeates the self-interest that drives illegal immigration, and a recent story about false documents makes the mistake of pretending they are part of the noble act.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What Is Happening In Sweden

Donald Trump came under fire for a vague comment about Sweden and Islamo-Arab violence there. All he did was bring attention to a real issue....the fact Islamic immigration is demographic imperialism. Sweden for its part has been in denial in responce to Trump's attack. Meanwhile CNN's Don Lemon has been in a snit with producer Ami Horowitz over a documentary she produced, Stockholm Syndrome, showcasing Islamic rape of women in Sweden, and thus disproving benevolent disinformation being spread about Islamic people.

Skills Bills And Vocational Education

A look at state governors and their approach to vocational education.

2003 NFC Playoffs As Panthers Upset Rams

One of the most memorable yet underappreciated playoff games was 2003's double-overtime stunner between the Carolina Panthers and the St. Louis Rams

More NASCAR Questions

Twenty years ago NASCAR was on the rise and October's Diehard 500 was the most exciting race of that 1997 season with a profligacy of passing to where the official stat of 32 lead changes looks too low

Speedweeks 2017 hopes to see an upset winner of the 500 along the lines of the 2014 Firecracker 400 - though without the rain

The Wall Street Journal authored a widely-read analysis of the decline of NASCAR popularity and racing writer Jeff Gluck adds his own take by noting Brian France's absence from the sanctioning body to where he in essence has no stake in the company and Lesa France Kennedy and Jim France basically are the ones in charge even though Brian ostensibly handles day-to-day operation.

As one respondent, Shane McKinney, notes in the Gluck piece, "It's amazing the actual shareholders.....have no interest in NASCAR except to collect the monies."

It showcases what has been apparent for many years now - the incompetence of the sanctioning body's leadership.    It also raises questions about whether the France family down the road will continue to hold onto NASCAR and its racetrack brethren International Speedway Corporation.   Certainly the fact Monster Energy Drink is paying substantially less in sponsorship money than past sponsors is a disturbing sign the sport's value has faltered badly.  

It shows how much hope a lot of people have put into Monster Energy's involvement - for the sport's history shows it has genuine competitive excellence, excellence it needs to get back.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Flynn Affair

Michael Flynn's resignation as President Donald Trump's first national security adviser won't end the controversy surrounding the new administration's purported ties to Russia.

Depending on which sources you consult, Flynn was either one of Vladimir Putin's stooges or a martyr to the swamp—the permanent bureaucracy in Washington. The truth is undoubtedly more complicated. And it's crucial that we get closer to it.
Flynn had a target painted on his back long before he ever joined Trump's White House. As head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon's main intelligence shop, he often clashed with colleagues and the rest of the sprawling intelligence bureaucracy. He was forced to resign from this post in 2014. But Flynn wasn't an incompetent intelligence officer, as some detractors have claimed. He often got the big issues right.

In 2010, when he was deputy chief of intelligence for NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Flynn coauthored a scathing report that concluded the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy in that war-torn country. That was correct—it is obvious from many independent sources that the quality of intelligence on Afghanistan has been abysmal.

Will New NSA McMaster Shake Things Up?

A Russia hawk and a Russian peace proposal that perhaps wasn't

A week after Donald Trump asked Mike Flynn to resign from his post as national security advisor, the president has announced another Army general, H.R. McMaster, as Flynn’s replacement. If there are any worthwhile objections to McMaster's appointment among the broad national security, military, and political realms, I have yet to read them. The universal admiration for Trump's pick is reminiscent of his selection of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court vacancy—something conservatives, moderates, and even a few liberals are happy about.

McMaster's military service and leadership are well known and well regarded in national security circles. His 1998 book Derelicition of Duty about the mismanagement of the Vietnam War at the top of the command chain was a popular read among commanders in Iraq. McMaster was one of those commanders, leading the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to take back the northern Iraq town of Tal Afar from al Qaeda in 2005. He was instrumental in developing the surge strategy with David Petraeus. McMaster is also perceived as fairly hawkish on Russia, which contrasts him greatly with Flynn and the president himself.

Fixing the Power Grid through Open Markets and New Technologies

A smart way to handle the issue
The electric power system makes our modern, mobile, information-age economy possible. But it is organized in much the same way it was in 1884, when Thomas Edison created the first system of power plants to light up homes and businesses in lower Manhattan. By way of comparison, the iPhone, which is the spiritual descendant of the telegraph, packs more computing power in a user's pocket than mainframes that once filled entire rooms. Meanwhile, the electric system is still built around central generating plants delivering power to customers via a monopoly provider—the local utility company.
In most segments of the U.S. economy, market competition drives prices lower, delivers innovation faster, and gives consumers more choice. But in the electricity system upon which all our modern devices depend, competition has come slowly and fitfully. We could do better with more of it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Clash Serves Up Monster Cup's Mixed Beginning

NASCAR enters a new era, but with the legacy of deterioration still with it.

NASCAR's new series sponsor, Monster Energy Drink, endured a decidedly rough debut weekend as its first event, the Advance Auto Clash - aka the old Busch Clash - was delayed by rain from Saturday night until late Sunday morning, ironically a more preferable time to run the race than on a  Saturday night, which at Daytona has been plagued in recent years with rain delays, none more preposterous than the disastrous 2015 Firecracker 400.

First up was ARCA's Lucas Oil 200, and it was a frustrating race with several vicious crashes with two cars upside down, and the continuing problem for racing that it remains too hard to pass and too hard to push-draft, a problem that plagues NASCAR as well as ARCA.    The rally to the win by Austin Theriault - a Fort Kent, Maine native who was the unsung hero of 2016's Nextera Truck 250 at Daytona - was a welcome result but the frustration with how difficult it is to pass and to push-draft remains a sore spot for Speedweeks, and it showed up in the Advance Auto Busch Clash.

Some of the fight for the lead was good, but for the most part the top three or more either swerved all over and chopped off cars getting a drafting run or stayed on the bottom line and the top line could not advance and seize the lead - blocking has upsurged with the deterrent of push-drafting gone and it helped lead to the last-lap mess.    

Of the teams involved, the biggest losers were Hendrick Motorsports between Jimmie Johnson's sixth straight Busch Clash DNF and decided mediocrity on the part of 500 pole winner Chase Elliott; only Alex Bowman showed anything at the end.   The Chevrolets in general looked once again only able to draft, not take the lead or hold it beyond chopping everyone off.  

The Penske Fords are the obvious favorites while the Stewart-Haas guys looked okay other than Kurt Busch.   Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish was laughable given how the Red Sea parted after she was stuck racing for midpack as usual.   

Of the Gibbs Toyotas - once again prohibitive favorites for the 500 - newcomer Daniel Suarez looked the part of a rookie, he drafted and stayed in line and that was pretty much it.   Denny Hamlin is the obvious alpha dog in the JGR outfit.   Martin Truex in the Gibbs-aligned Vasser #78 had a bad day.

And so Daytona Speedweeks waits for Thursday Night and one wonders if the 150s will serve up something they haven't for years - a surprise.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Intersectionality Wars

Liberalism's ideology where Love Enables Hate

"I get a lot of laughs watching people on the left trying to climb the pyramid of grievances.

Because modern liberalism has largely abandoned economics in favor of a giant interlocking system of grievance-based identity politics, the left has created an incentive system where different groups are forced to fight one another as they struggle to ascend to the top of the pyramid.

So, for instance, you have fights between WoCs (Women of Color) and garden-variety white feminists over the checking of privilege. You have transgender women (which is to say, men who say they're women) fighting against old-guard feminists who see this as yet one more assault from the patriarchy. You have the African-American community not-super-invested in the gay marriage movement.

I don't know about you, but I'm waiting with baited breath for the final, Census Bureau-adjusted exit polls from the 2016 election to be released, because if the data show that Hillary Clinton lost in part because a noticeable chunk of minority men voted against her, then it's going to be awesome."

The US is the only multiethnic society to have succeeded as such, because it has upheld three principles.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Report: 72 convicted of terrorism from 'Trump 7' mostly Muslim countries

Evidence is now surfacing proving Trump's "Muslim ban" was correct.

"Since 9/11, 72 individuals from the seven mostly Muslim countries covered by President Trump's extreme vetting executive order have been convicted of terrorism, bolstering the administration's immigration ban. According to a report out Saturday, at least 17 claimed to be refugees from those nations, three came in as students, and 25 eventually became U.S. citizens.
The Center for Immigration Studies calculated the numbers of convicted terrorists from the Trump Seven: — Somalia: 20 — Yemen: 19 — Iraq: 19 — Syria: 7 — Iran: 4 — Libya: 2 — Sudan: 1 The Center's director of policy studies, Jessica M. Vaughan, based her blockbuster report on a 2016 report from the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, then chaired by new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that report found that 380 out of 580 people convicted in terror cases since 9/11 were foreign-born."

Thursday, February 09, 2017

For The NFL In 2017, Now What?

And just like that the NFL season is over, a season that had a number of exciting games but which will always be remembered for one history-making game - the final game.    And now with rest and off-season preparations by teams we wonder - now what for a lot of these teams?

The 2016 Atlanta Falcons - every touchdown from 2016

We start a little out of order here - we begin with the team whose epic collapse in the Superbowl led right away to several key coaching staff firings (the firing of coach Bryan Cox - fifteen years after his one Superbowl as a player, coming with the Patriots - had the most irony) as well as the long-expected hiring of coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers.   Matt Ryan's meltdown brought back memories of his playoff failures of 2008-12 and it is very rare that a quarterback whose "first impression" is so poor ever gets better - i.e. only John Elway as far as I can remember ever took a dismal playoff record and then turned it around to win Superbowls.    Given the manifest talent on this team a strong future seems assured; but it depends on how Matt Ryan handles it going forward and also how Dan Quinn addresses what went wrong.


The New England Patriots - every touchdown from 2016.

The only problem here is whether they can sign all the free agents that are pending and also if they can reinforce a banged-up tight end/pass catching corps.

The Miami Dolphins - every touchdown from 2016

A clearly ascending team is the Miami Dolphins, who surprised the league after a 1-4 start to win ten games and clearly suffered when Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season late in the going.   Adam Gase now has a template to work with here and it would seem the Dolphins will now challenge for the AFC East.

The Buffalo Bills - every touchdown from 2016

Sean McDermott comes from the Panthers to a Bills team that has legitimate talent but which inexplicably decided to play E.J. Manuel in the season finale - and to dismal effect.   GM Doug Whaley has been there since 2013 and the Bills have gone 30-34 in that span - they need to figure out who the quarterback is, and it would seem Tyrod Taylor is a better option right now than Manuel.

The New York Jets - every touchdown from 2016

The big question for the Jets for 2017 - who is going to be their quarterback?  Ryan Fitzpatrick's relevance seems over,  Bryce Petty showed nothing to give confidence down the road, and the Jets may go after someone like Matt Cassel to plug the hole - which has been in keeping with the Jets' inability to build a respectable program.

The Houston Texans - every touchdown from 2016

Like so many struggling teams the defending AFC South champs have a quarterback issue - this one self-inflicted and which owner Bob McNair acknowledged after the season.   There is also the question of whether Bill O'Brien, who was hired because they thought he can develop a quarterback, can in fact do so, having failed to do so in three seasons.   Given Brock Osweiler's cap status the Texans appear stuck with him for 2017 and it became clear Osweiler is not up to handling the complex offense O'Brien favors as opposed to the two-read offense he played in Denver.   Houston appears to be a team stuck where it is.

The Tennessee Titans - every touchdown from 2016

The Titans in contrast made huge strides in 2016 - not only winning nine games after winning just eleven the previous three seasons, but six of those 2016 wins were against playoff teams and the defending Superbowl champs - and the issue is keeping Marcus Mariota healthy as well as reinforcing a roster that has proven to be very solid.   Mike Mularky is proving himself a better head coach than people thought he was previously and the Titans appear ready to take another step forward into playoff contender.

The Indianapolis Colts - every touchdown from 2016

Clearly Andrew Luck can play at a high level, but just how high is still a mystery, so the question centers on new GM Scott Ballard, formerly of the Chiefs whose track record in Kansas City speaks very well of him.    A Colts roster seemingly short on depth - in large part to the absurd decision to overpay Luck and a few other players, a malady common to NFL teams - awaits a GM who can build depth.

The Jacksonville Jaguars - every touchdown from 2016

Easily the most promising changes are the hiring of former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin as de facto GM and Doug Marrone as head coach.   There clearly is talent here but the impression now is Blake Bortles, heralded as a rising star after 2015, is a mirage of sloppy mechanics and lack of clutch playmaking.  Marrone will have his work cut out for the second-worst team of the decade.

The Pittsburgh Steelers - every touchdown from 2016

They do what they do, but scuttlebutt that Ben Roethlisberger may retire throws a wrench into the situation, this for a team exposed as stuck below Superbowl level and frankly fortunate they reached the AFC Championship Game in 2016.

The Baltimore Ravens - every touchdown from 2016

In worse shape are the Ravens, who improved in 2016 after a dismal 2015 but the improvement was not that impressive and one wonders whether John Harbaugh is starting to burn out the way his brother seems to do as well as whether Joe Flacco can improve his play.

The Cincinnati Bengals - every touchdown from 2016

Marvin Lewis is returning, and Andy Dalton remains starter.   The talent is clearly there, though a question that has gone unasked shouldn't be - what about AJ McCarron?

The Cleveland Browns - every touchdown from 2016

Complete mess - that is all one can say about the Browns.  Robert Griffin III was a huge mistake and the worst team in the league was set back still more by it.    They're early candidates to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo with one bizarre rumor - one I don't particularly buy - having Rob Gronkowski added as a package deal.  

The Kansas City Chiefs - every touchdown from 2016

Clearly a playoff contender, the question centers on Alex Smith - he showed improvement under playoff pressure but one wonders if he has any improvement left to get to that next level.

The Oakland Raiders - every touchdown from 2016

The Raiders clearly are on the cusp of playoff winning with Derek Carr and a solid cast under Jack Del Rio, though the fiasco of the attempted move to Las Vegas hangs over this team and one wonders about Carr after his injury, though I suspect he'll be fine.

The Denver Broncos - every touchdown from 2016

The Broncos fell to 9-7 and their quarterback situation is now a question, as Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch were only good enough to win that many games, nowhere close to enough to become a playoff contender.   Defensively they remain stout, but coaching changes also throw a wrench into things.

The San Diego Chargers - every touchdown from 2016

This has become an ugly affair - trying to move to LA, encountering striking resistance to the move, Philip Rivers finished as a playoff contender amid word he's done with the team - what should be a better team instead has become a bad joke.


Having addressed the Falcons above we turn to the NFC South's other teams -

The Carolina Panthers - every touchdown from 2016

Suddenly there is trouble in Carolina.   The scuttlebutt for awhile is Cam Newton's work ethic is slipshod and his regression in 2016, especially reverting to the petulant child that threatened to derail his career during 2012, would seem to bear this out.   One also wonders just how dependent the Panthers were on Josh Norman as they fell apart defensively once he left for the Redskins.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers - every touchdown from 2016

The Bucs showed legitimate improvement in 2016 and Jameis Winston looks to be an ascender.   The Bucs need to go to another level; winning six of their last eight games in 2016 suggests they will in 2017.

The New Orleans Saints - every touchdown from 2016

The Saints' run as a playoff team appears over and Drew Brees' run of 5,000-yard seasons looks emptier and emptier. Defensively he hasn't gotten that much help and it's been a problem for several years; one wonders whether Sean Payton has run out of answers.

The Dallas Cowboys - every touchdown from 2016

Be afraid of the Cowboys - Dakota Prescott and company are the real deal and they look like they can get even better; beating the NY Giants is the first order of business; winning playoff games is next after one of the bitterest playoff losses in years.

The New York Giants - every touchdown from 2016

The Giants improved markedly in the first year of coach Ben McAdoo; the season sweep of the Cowboys - three in a row in that series now - was the highlight of the season; getting wasted by Aaron Rodgers' Packers was the lowlight and comes with an aging Eli Manning.

The Washington Redskins - every touchdown from 2016

The Redskins remain stuck in neutral - decent enough to post a winning record but not a true playoff contender.   The difference now is there seems to be a competent program being built. 

The Philadelphia Eagles - every touchdown from 2016

The Eagles have underachieved for some four years now since the firing of Andy Reid.   Carson Wentz's rookie season was decent; improvement is a must for 2017 there and elsewhere.

The Green Bay Packers - every touchdown from 2016

Overrated and they seem to like it that way - for five straight years the Packers have made the playoffs and for five straight years have fallen well short of a Superbowl.   Aaron Rodgers has been strikingly immune from criticism despite his perennial failures when needing to lead a comeback; 2017 does not look to get any better.

The Minnesota Vikings - every touchdown from 2016

The Viking are clearly hoping Teddy Bridgewater can return, but word he may not for 2017 just makes things more uneasy for a team that should be a lot better than 8-8.

The Detroit Lions - every touchdown from 2016

This is another team stuck where it is - 9-7, no playoff wins since 1991, and virtually no wins against any kind of quality opponent.   Matthew Stafford has become Detroit's Drew Bledsoe - a talented quarterback who lifted a terrible outfit to respectability and then some yet can't go any further.  He clearly functions better with Jim Caldwell and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter than he did previously, yet it hasn't proven enough to get to the next level.

The Chicago Bears - every touchdown from 2016 

Clearly Jay Cutler is done.   His incompetence as a quarterback hid that the Bears have other issues; one though still feels John Fox can get something going with a different quarterback.  

The Seattle Seahawks - every touchdown from 2016    

They're not the same Legion Of Boom, and one has to wonder if Pete Carroll is beginning to flame out as he did with the Patriots.

The Arizona Cardinals - every touchdown from 2016

Carson Palmer regressed in 2016 and the fact he is returning for 2017 is troubling for a team that in 2015 exploded to thirteen wins.     A newer, younger quarterback is becoming a necessity.

The Rams - every touchdown from 2016 

The Rams are building a new stadium in LA so they are committed to staying there, this even though their return to LA was a dud, especially after a surprising 3-1 start.   Jeff Fisher was fired and the Rams look to now regret drafting Jared Goff, totally ineffective as a quarterback.  This is another fine mess the NFL has.

The San Francisco 49ers - every touchdown from 2016  

From Superbowl contender to cellar dweller - league-wide hatred of Jed York is becoming ever-more prominent, especially after huffy presser where he lectured, "You can't fire owners" (he might want to ask the NBA and Donald Sterling about that).    The Niners went outside the box - but in a dubious way - by hiring former player John Lynch as GM; they also hired former Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan as head coach and Shanahan will have final say on the 53-man roster while Lynch handles the draft, free agency, etc. The hiring of a former player and TV analyst has been unfavorably compared to the disastrous Matt Millen era in Detroit, and the Niners are already back where they were in 2004 - a 2-14 team whose only success last year came against one division foe (the Rams). The Colin Kaepernick issue had better be handled right away as Kaepernick is a failure as a quarterback and a cancer to the team.

So for the next six months the NFL will rest in one respect, reload in another.