September 2017

You Gio, Guys

Several NASCAR team owners said Sunday they would not condone racers protesting during the national anthem, amid protests by sports players at football and baseball games. 

There were no protests reported during “The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in New Hampshire, according to The Associated Press.

Former NASCAR champion Richard Petty told the AP that any member of his team would be fired if they chose to protest the national anthem. Petty now owns Richard Petty Motorsports.

Farewell to the NFL

Players like Kaepernick and Hernandez give the league a bad name, so it's hardly surprising that the NFL's ratings are down again this season. Explanations and excuses offered include the weather (hurricanes!), low quality of play and shortening attention spans -- although who actually watches an NFL broadcast intently between trips to the fridge and visits to the john?

 

CBS has suffered early. Per Anthony Crupi of  Ad Age, through the first two weeks of the season, CBS's Sunday NFL windows had averaged 13.9 million viewers, down 10% versus 15.2 million last year. Sports Media Watch said CBS’s 8.4 rating for its Week 2 single header lineup was the lowest for a Week 2 single-header since at least 1998.

 

NBC had a particularly ugly night with the Packers-Falcons. The game drew 20.2 million, well down from last year’s Week 2 game (Packers-Vikings, 22.8 million) and the Seahawks-Packers in 2015 (26.4 million). It was the least-watched Week 2 Sunday Night Football game since 2008. Crupi reported NBC’s three primetime games so far had averaged 22.1 million viewers, down 7% from 2016.

 

But if you ask this former fan, the rot runs deeper. Football, which is practically the state religion in Texas and across the South, used to be closely tied up with patriotism and love of country. The militaristic component of the sport, which was presented as akin to war, appealed especially to red-state dwellers. But sportscasters and sportswriters are overwhelmingly leftist in their outlook, and their eagerness to turn Kaepernick into a civil-rights icon has repelled a sizable section of football's core audience -- and one that, by the current evidence, is growing.

Trump's NFLComments Explain Why He Is President

He takes a commonly held sentiment — most people don’t like the NFL protests — and states it in an inflammatory way guaranteed to get everyone’s attention and generate outrage among his critics. When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for a fairly commonsensical view.

Of course, NFL owners firing players on the spot for protesting isn’t necessarily common sense, but this is where “seriously, not literally” comes in. Since everyone knows that owners aren’t going to do this, Trump’s statement registers for his supporters merely as forceful opposition to the protests, not as a specific plan of action.

His advocacy for a Mexico-funded border wall and for the Muslim ban played in a roughly similar way (although The Wall was taken more literally, hence Trump’s exertions to make a colorable case that it is being built). Finally, when Trump is criticized and doesn’t back down it is taken by his supporters as a sign of strength. If a political consultant came up with this strategy, he’d deserve a huge raise. But it’s just Trump himself operating on instinct.

(He is, as he did with  his UN speech, standing up and advocating for the average, American taxpayer)


Putin Didn't Hack the Election, Obama Did

The all-smoke-no-fire Russia investigation looks increasingly like a smoke screen aimed to put out a very different fire. Rather than an investigation into malfeasance by the Trump campaign, does the Robert Mueller inquiry serve as a clean-up operation to justify Obama administration malfeasance? The bugging of the opposition party’s presidential campaign, at least when done by Republicans, ranks not only as criminal but as the biggest political scandal in American history.

Richard Nixon’s henchmen wore surgical gloves to avoid leaving clues for law enforcement. Barack Obama’s henchmen were law enforcement. This makes Obama worse, not better, than Nixon. At least Nixon’s plumbers possessed the decency to leave their skullduggery to lock pickers and burglars. Obama used law enforcement for opposition research. In Banana Republics, the cops double as the criminals. The unprecedented use of the Justice Department to commit injustice marks a sad moment for the republic. It is Watergate on steroids.

Accusations that hit the mark, rather wild ones wide of the target, provoke fierce denunciations, outcry, and Joe Welch, have-you-no-sense-of-decency moralizing. The category-5 storm that engulfed the president after he tweeted about government surveillance on his campaign indicated that he uncovered an inconvenient truth, not that he told an ignoble lie. No one flips out when a critic makes a fool of himself with his own words. People do so when the words threaten to make a fool of them.

The Obama administration using the considerable powers of the federal government to spy on a hated critic’s campaign sets a dangerous precedent. It provides future administrations a means to infiltrate the innermost circle of the opposition party’s presidential campaign. This merely requires the pretext of wrongdoing to engage in wrongdoing.

Trump’s Job Approval Rises To Highest Level In Four Months

He hadn’t seen 41.1 percent in the RCP poll average since May 14th. That’s not … ideal as a four-month polling high, shall we say, but it’s in the right direction. And most of the latest polls tracked by RCP have him a few points north of that. YouGov, Rasmussen, and NBC all put him at 43 percent now and Monmouth has him just six points underwater at 42/48.

...Modest gains, but gains are gains. Wisely, he’s going to try to keep the good nonpartisan vibes going by visiting Puerto Rico soon to see the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I don’t know that his polling rise is due solely to storm management, though. This number from the new NBC/WSJ poll jumps out, not just because it’s so lopsided but because it’s the only issue of 11 that were mentioned of which a majority approves of how he handled it:

(Still low but gains are gains. And we are spared those MSNBC stories about poll ratings being the lowest in human history)

Time For The Partisan Mueller To Go

Robert Mueller’s sprawling special-counsel investigation is playing hardball. It was not enough to get a search warrant to ransack the Virginia home of Paul Manafort, even as the former Trump campaign chairman was cooperating with congressional investigators. Mueller’s bad-asses persuaded a judge to give them permission to pick the door lock. That way, they could break into the premises in the wee hours, while Manafort and his wife were in bed sleeping. They proceeded to secure the premises — of a man they are reportedly investigating for tax and financial crimes, not gang murders and Mafia hits — by drawing their guns on the stunned couple, apparently to check their pajamas for weapons.

Mueller’s probe more resembles an empire, with 17 prosecutors retained on the public dime. So . . . what exactly is the crime of the century that requires five times the number of lawyers the Justice Department customarily assigns to crimes of the century? No one can say. The growing firm is clearly scorching the earth, scrutinizing over a decade of Manafort’s shady business dealings, determined to pluck out some white-collar felony or another that they can use to squeeze him.

....Why is this worth pointing out? Because someday, maybe, we’ll get around to asking: What would have happened if Hillary Clinton’s very real email scandal — with its mountainous evidence of felony mishandling of classified information and destruction of government records — had been investigated with the no-holds-barred vigor Mueller and his band of Hillary donors are applying to the surmise of Trump collusion in Russian espionage?




Dogs Aren't Faking. They really do love you.

And what did Berns discover? Something that almost every dog owner in the world could have told you: Dogs aren’t faking it when they act like they love you. Because it’s not an act.

Berns and his team confirmed this through a host of tests that looked at different centers of the doggie brain and how they responded to different stimuli. In one test they alternated between giving the pooches hot dogs (the food, not Dachshunds) and offering them praise. Looking at the pleasure centers of the dogs’ brains, the researchers found that nearly all the dogs responded to “Who’s a good boy?! You are!” (or whatever they actually said) with at least as much pleasure as when they got a Hebrew National. A fifth of the dogs actually preferred praise to food. Berns concluded that dogs derive as much pleasure from love as from food. As a somewhat obsessed dog guy, I’m the first to concede that a central tenet of doggie philosophy is to reject the whole love-vs.-food paradigm as a false choice. Dogs are committed to the idea that there is no such thing as too much of a good thing.

But as almost anyone who has come home to their dog after an extended absence will tell you, dogs don’t go bonkers for missing loved ones solely because they think there’s a meal in it for them.



Miami Herald: Cheers for UN Speechk

President Donald Trump deserves credit for talking extensively about the repressive regimes of Venezuela and Cuba in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, even if his overall address was music to the ears of dictators around the world.

Unlike former President Barack Obama, who didn’t mention the word “Venezuela” in his last two annual addresses to the U.N. General Assembly, and only mentioned Cuba to refer to opening diplomatic ties with the island, Trump lashed out against the curtailment of basic freedoms in the two Latin American countries during his speech to the U.N. on Tuesday.

Without repeating his disastrous mistake of Aug. 11, when he casually stated that the United States was considering a “military option” in Venezuela and caused many countries to distance themselves from U.S. diplomatic efforts to isolate the Venezuelan regime, Trump said he will pursue “calibrated sanctions on the socialist regime in Venezuela.”

Translation: He threatened to escalate gradual financial sanctions against members of Venezuela’s corrupt “revolutionary” elite and government institutions, and asked other countries to do the same. It was a tacit call for multilateral pressure on the Venezuelan regime, rather than U.S. unilateral actions.

Politically correct society is the death of comedy',

Society's "stupidly politically correct" sensibilities will lead to the "death of comedy", the veteran Hollywood comedian Mel Brooks has warned.

Brooks, known for his plethora of acclaimed comedy movies, said political correctness was becoming a stranglehold on comedians.

"It's not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks," he said.

"Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king's ear, always telling the truth about human behaviour."

The producer and director said that his iconic western parody Blazing Saddles could not be made in today's political climate.

Brooks said it was the racial prejudice portrayed within the film that was the mechanism behind its cultural significance. 

"Without that the movie would not have had nearly the significance, the force, the dynamism and the stakes that were contained in it,” he said.

(Politically correct society wants to kill comedy, free speech and a lot of other things too)

Mizzou's Continuing Decline

The University of Missouri, where I teach and which I dearly love, is in crisis. Freshman enrollment at the university’s Columbia campus (Mizzou) is down by a whopping 35%from two years ago. Missouri’s governor and legislature slashed Mizzou’s state appropriation by $22 million this year.

Administrators have responded by cutting Mizzou’s operating budget by 12% and laying off 307employees (474 across the entire University of Missouri system). They’ve also closed seven dormitories to students, instead renting out the rooms for football games and special events like the recent solar eclipse.

Suffice it to say, morale on campus is low.

The primary culprit, of course, is Mizzou’s reaction to the student protests of 2015. In November of that year, a group of students, justifiably angered by three racist incidents on the 35,000-student Columbia campus, presented administrators with a number of unreasonable demands. Among other things, they insisted that the president of the 77,000-student University of Missouri system publicly acknowledge his “white male privilege” and resign his post and that the university adopt patently unconstitutional racial quotas for faculty and staff.

Instead of leading like compassionate, wise adults—joining the protestors’ rightful condemnation of racist conduct but working to convince them that their demands were unreasonable—many Mizzou officials either succumbed to or actively perpetuated the frenzy