Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Funnies 2016.01.31

My wife dragged me to a neighborhood function last night. It was a wine tasting affair. Fortunately, it tuned out to be a wine drinking affair instead. Much better...

“Beer is made by men, wine by God.”
― Martin Luther, circa 1500s
“Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.”
― Anonymous
“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
― W.C. Fields, circa 1930’s
"I'm a wine enthusiast, the more wine I drink, the more enthusiastic I become."
― Anonymous
California vintners in the Napa Valley area, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic. It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night.

The new wine will be marketed as Pinot More!

I've trained my dog to bring me a glass of red wine.

It's a Bordeaux collie.

Men are like fine wine: They all start out as grapes, and it is your job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you'd want to have with dinner.

Father O'Reilly was driving down to Boston when got stopped for speeding. The highway patrol officer smelled alcohol on the priest's breath and then saw an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car.

He said, 'Father, have you been drinking?'

'Only water', replied Father O'Reilly.

The policeman asked, 'Then how come I can smell wine?'

The priest looked at the bottle and said, 'Good Lord! He's done it again.'

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Cleaved Head No Longer Plots.

I read this story with growing incredulousness. I can't believe they are punishing the victim.
A Danish 17-year-old girl who used a pepper spray to fight off a rapist near migrant asylum centre is told SHE will be prosecuted for carrying the weapon.

The 17-year-old told police she was targeted in the coastal town of Sonderborg by an English-speaking man, who knocked her to the ground and tried to undress her.

But she managed to prevent the man from attacking her further by spraying the substance at him.

However, as it is illegal to use pepper spray, the teenage girl is set to face charges. It is likely she will face a 500 Krone (£50) fine.
Prosecuted, hell. She should be awarded a medal for giving that scum a small taste of what he deserved. Pepper spray is no substitute for .45 vasectomy.

And why on earth is pepper spray illegal in Denmark? What do they expect potential rape victims to do - lie back and enjoy it? Would someone please explain to me what happened to the descendants of the Vikings? (Note: the title of this post - "A cleaved head no longer plots" - is an Old Norse proverb.)

Politically correct idiots...

There are signs, however, that Denmark is trying to fight back.
...  the case has sparked a controversy in Denmark, where there has been increasing reports of sexual harrassment towards women.

This has prompted several nightclubs in Sonderborg to bar people from entering unless they can speak Danish, German or English.

Meanwhile Denmark's parliament has voted in favour of seizing asylum seekers' assets in a controversial bid to reduce the numbers moving there.

Under a new law, officials will have the power to search migrants for valuables and take cash and possessions worth more than around £1,000 to help pay for their stay.

Asylum seekers will also have to wait three years before family members can join them in the country, instead of the current one year.
Baby steps, but a journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.

Hopefully it's not too little, too late.

Whatever happened to that Viking spirit?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2016.01.29

Words fail me...

Time To Lighten Up

The last few days have been heavy on the politics. Time to lighten up.

First, Donald and the republicans.

Next, hillary and Bernie.

Finally, one for the rest of us.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Demographics Is Destiny

In this morning's post I mentioned something about the republicans swimming upstream now because of demographics. Let's explore that in a little more detail.
The reality is that Republicans have an Electoral College problem and a demographic problem.

In 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush won the same percentage of white voters and minority voters as Romney did in 2012. But Bush won nationally by almost 8%, while Romney lost by 4%. That is how rapidly America is changing. The white share of the vote, where Republicans won in 2012 by 20%, has declined from 85% to 72% of all voters. Minority voters, who have grown from 15% to 28%, favored Obama by 67%. In 2016, the white share of the vote may decline to 70%. Democrats are already busily registering minority group members to vote this year. Republicans will need to expand their vote share among whites and minorities to win in 2016.

For a Republican to get to 270 electoral college votes, he needs to win all the Romney states which produced 206 Electoral College votes (only North Carolina, with 15 votes, was a close race). He also needs to win a bunch of states that have been voting for Democrats more often than Republicans in recent cycles: Florida (29), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (20), Nevada (6), and Wisconsin (10) among them.
I am not optimistic. Even if the democrat choice is between a washed-up bitter old hag whose only accomplishments are dodging multiple indictments, and a washed-up bitter old socialist who reminds me of a crazy and perverted uncle...

... there are more of them than there are of us. That's not a good thing, especially when 'they' are lured by promises of free things.

Of course, 'we' have our own faults.
The conservative base is not growing as a share of the electorate... Many in the conservative base at times seem to be happiest to win the civil war and to take down the GOP establishment, regarding a general election loss as less important. Somehow a 0% conservative (a Democrat) is better than a 60%-70% model (a moderate Republican, the only type who can win in some districts or states).

Victories in midterm elections are not a guide to presidential election years, when minority vote share is far higher. Republican governors were elected in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts in 2014. The GOP nominee will be lucky to lose by only 15 points in these states in 2016.

The Republicans could get lucky -- Hillary Clinton could be indicted, or the attorney general could refuse to move forward with an FBI recommendation for an indictment, leading FBI Director Comey to resign or be fired. The resulting Nixonian stench could badly undercut Clinton, who will never willingly give up her pursuit of the White House unless imprisoned. Even a Republican with little appeal beyond the base might win against such a badly damaged opponent. For those who think winning the White House is the real goal, that seems like little more than hope and a prayer, not a strategy...
I'm afraid we're doomed.

Don't Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face

(Note: I had originally scheduled this to post yesterday, but Donald Trump's abrupt announcement that he was tucking his tail between his legs and running away from Megyn Kelly caused me to reschedule it. This is the first of two parts. The second part will appear later today.)

I'm trying to not get dragged into all the presidential primary fuss, but it's  really hard to stay disengaged, especially when there are so many fascinating issues and personalities in play. So I was very interested in this analysis of the race by a group of hard-headed, pragmatic folks with no particular political axes to grind.
You wouldn't know from listening to the pundits on Fox News, who yammer on constantly that the Republican nomination is down to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but, according to mostly British bookmakers, it's Marco Rubio, not Cruz, who is in second place on the Republican side, sometimes substantially... (details here).

Note that this is for the eventual nomination, not the Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary.
The main reason may be simple.  Rubio is doing the best against Hillary in head-to-head polls and the bookies are figuring Republicans will eventually start thinking pragmatically and vote for the candidate most likely to win.  Moreover, Marco is an attractive, young candidate -- the JFK thing... And then there's the all-out war between Trump and Cruz.  One will fall.

Another thing that may have kept Rubio floating higher (at least in the gambling world) is that he hasn't jousted much with Trump lately -- never a good idea. Donald has shown himself to be the greatest master of the fatal put-down in modern politics. Marco, wisely, tends to attack ISIS, Hillary, and Cruz more. Also, Rubio has lately taken a sunnier approach on the campaign trail that seems to be working.

Is the Florida senator rushing toward a last-minute Iowa caucus surprise as Santorum did in 2012 when the Pennsylvania senator jumped from 7% to 24% in a week?  Who knows? Pollsters have a record of being way off in Iowa... I won't make any predictions, but I will say this -- if I have to choose between the pundits, the pollsters and the bookies, I'm no idiot. I'll go with the bookies.
More support for that notion can be found in a recent Wall Street Journal piece.
A terrible way to forecast the 2016 contest is to gauge whose supporters are the loudest. Presidential elections are not decided by partisans or ideologues.

The arithmetic is pretty simple: 41% of voters in the 2012 presidential election described themselves as moderates, and 29% as independents. Almost all Republicans (93%) and self-described conservatives (82%) voted for Mitt Romney, but that wasn’t enough.
It's not a matter of energizing the base and turning out the voters. It's a matter of demographics.
Because there are roughly 5% more Democrats than Republicans, the GOP needs a solid majority of independents to win a national election. In 2012 Mitt Romney outpolled Barack Obama among independents, 50% to 45%. But that didn’t take him across the electoral college finish line.

It is safe to predict that the proportions that held in 2012 will be about the same this year. About two-thirds of the voters will not be Republicans. Thus it is vital to pay early attention to how each of the candidates is doing among independents. A long, drawn-out primary that forces candidates to make strong appeals to the party’s ideological base can hurt the eventual nominee in November.
Winning the nomination requires one strategy - appeal to the base. Winning the general election requires appealing to a broader group of voters - independents and moderates.
There are two ways that we can measure how independents see the Republican contenders. On the positive side, we can ask whether voters hold favorable views about a candidate. Or, on the negative side, we can ask whether they would rule out voting for a candidate. Those White House hopefuls with high favorability ratings among swing voters have good prospects for winning a general election. Those whom independents and moderates say they would not even consider supporting start with a deep, probably insurmountable, deficit. (emphasis added)

Although Donald Trump is leading in GOP primary polls, his ratings among independents are the worst of any candidate in the field... Ted Cruz doesn’t do much better...

Already, large proportions of independents and moderates say that they have made up their minds about the two Republican front-runners. A full 58% of moderates and 51% of independents told YouGov in December that they “would never vote for” Mr. Trump. The figures are a little better for Mr. Cruz, but still about half of moderates (47%) and almost as many independents (41%) say they would never pull the lever for him.

How can anyone, under the circumstances, expect either of these two to win a general election? For the GOP to regain the White House, it will have to do much better, particularly given Hillary Clinton’s better ratings. In December, 48% of moderates said they would consider voting for Mrs. Clinton—a full 16 percentage points better than Mr. Trump and 22 points better than Mr. Cruz.
So who does get the most favorable ratings from independents and moderates? You guessed it - the bookies' favorite.
... Marco Rubio is the most competitive among independents: 37% said in December that they would consider voting for him; only 32% ruled him out. All the other GOP candidates are under water. Forty-seven percent of independents said they would never vote for Jeb Bush, and 43% said the same about Chris Christie.

(Among moderates) Mr. Rubio again comes in first: 35% would consider voting for him, and 36% wouldn’t. Thirty-five percent of moderates would also consider voting for Mr. Bush and Mr. Christie, but their negatives are much higher: 48% have ruled out Mr. Bush, and 44% Mr. Christie.

With a large field, the percentage of people who say they intend to vote for a candidate is less relevant than the percentage who say they will not vote for him. By this measure, the current GOP front-runners are doing very badly. As the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary approach, Republicans may want to consider this if they are serious about one of their own becoming president.
I realize that many folks view Rubio as an establishment candidate, and have concerns about his position on immigration. And I get that many of us are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, and have a strong desire for something fresh, new, and different. But my concern echoes that last paragraph above. Nominating The Donald or Ted might make us feel good for a short while (we stuck it to The Man!), but it will more than likely result in another democrat squatting in the Oval Office. IMO that would be much worse than even a GOP establishment stooge.

My mother had a saying for that: "Don't cut off your nose to spite your face."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hey Hey Ho Ho...

... Donald Trump has got to go!

What's the matter, Donny? Afraid of a little girl?
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump abruptly announced here Tuesday that he would not participate in Thursday’s scheduled debate...

Trump’s assertion, which his campaign manager insisted was irreversible, came less than one week before the kick-off Iowa caucuses...

... his boycott leaves him open to criticism that for all his tough talk he is ducking face-to-face confrontations with his opponents and scrutiny from the Fox moderators.

Trump long has objected to the participation of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as one of the three moderators, claiming she has treated him unfairly with both her questioning of him at last August’s debate and her commentary since then.
Awww, is the big bad Megyn Kelly picking on wittle Donny?

If he can't handle a little questioning/criticism from a news babe, what makes us think he can stand up to Putin or other international tough guys.

Or even democrat wimps on the home front?

Sorry, Donny, but that's the last straw. Add me to the growing list of people who won't vote for such an egotistical opportunistic blowhard.

After all, in Jan. 2017 we'll be getting rid of one narcissistic hypocrite. Why on Earth would we want to stick another one in the Oval Office?

P.S. - Stay tuned. Tomorrow I'll have a two-part post on why I think republican voters are shooting themselves in the foot.

Update: Walter Hudson says pretty much the same thing I did, but better.
Here's a guy who claims he can somehow "cut deals" with America's greatest rivals. Here's a guy who claims that he will somehow "make America great again" through sheer force of will. Yet, when confronted by the skepticism of a 130-pound woman, he turns tail and runs.

That's the drama unfolding before our eyes as Donald Trump announces that he will boycott Thursday's Republican presidential debate, hosted by Fox News, on account of the network's refusal to remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator...
Is this the kind of leadership we can expect if Trump somehow cons his way into the White House? How is his handling of Megyn Kelly and Fox News anything other than the fulfillment of a personal grudge? What question might Kelly ask, and how might she ask it, that Trump would not be able to answer satisfactorily? This isn't MSNBC we are talking about. There's arguably nowhere in the media that a Republican candidate for president could expect a fairer shake than Fox News.

Trump has emerged as the leader of a personality cult. Like any cult leader, his first and highest priority is denouncing anyone who questions his primacy. He filters a qualitative analysis of any person or institution through one overriding concern: what do they think of me? If they're for him, he's for them. If they're against him, he's against them. It's that simple, and there's no nuance to it. There's no parsing through actions, words, or character. It's a package deal. You're for all of Trump, or you're his enemy. Such unbridled narcissism has no business anywhere near the lowest of public office. The notion that it could occupy the White House should instill terror in all of us.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Some Good News For A Change

Tired of all the gloom and doom in the news? Sick unto death of political commentators bloviating on the upcoming Iowa and New Hampshire primaries?

Yeah, me too. So I thought it was time for a feel-good story.
A mother of two boys was touched by a selfless act of kindness when her local repair man fixed her furnace free of charge.

Bridget Stevens returned to her Pittsburgh-area home earlier this month and realized her furnace was not functioning.

Stevens texted her husband, Bobby, who is deployed overseas with the National Guard. When Bobby couldn't figure out what to do, she called Betlyn Heating and Cooling in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Owner Paul Betlyn immediately came to the rescue.

Betlyn, who has been in the business for more than 30 years, fixed the furnace quickly. Although the repair normally would have cost approximately $150, Betlyn said he decided to do the job without charging Stevens. He wrote on her bill, which came up to $1, that she received a "deployment discount."
"I was completely overwhelmed and in shock when Paul handed me the slip," Stevens told ABC News. "I didn't really know what to say, and I still have a hard time finding the words to truly express my appreciation."

Betlyn, 65, told ABC News his late grandfather, who is also named Paul, taught him about the importance of helping others and giving back to the community.

"My grandfather was a milkman during the Great Depression and many times he'd go to the door and the woman didn't have any money for milk. But the baby was crying in the background. So he'd put the milk on the table," he explained. "And when I heard about Bridget with her husband being deployed...I put the milk on the table."

Betlyn insisted that what he did was nothing special. "I'm not the hero here. The deployed, they're the heroes," he clarified.
Stories like this make me feel much better about our country.

And if anyone out there is from the Pittsburgh area, please consider calling Mr. Betlyn the next time you need heating or A/C work done.

Enemies Of The State?

Saw this little tidbit in USA Today at about the same time I was watching Enemy of the State. Naturally, my anti-government paranoia kicked in.

FBI official: 'Perfect storm' imperiling gun background checks
The surge of criminal background checks required of new gun purchasers has been so unrelenting in recent months that the FBI had been forced to temporarily halt the processing of thousands of appeals from prospective buyers whose firearm purchase attempts have been denied...
In other words, if you are wrongfully prohibited from purchasing a firearm because, for example, you have "a similar name and/or similar descriptive features" as someone with "either federally prohibiting criteria or state-prohibiting criteria" you are SOOL.
The transfer of examiners, which had left a backlog of 7,100 appeals, is only part of a makeshift reorganization that FBI Assistant Director Stephen Morris said has become necessary to handle a burgeoning workload...

“The last several months, we've kind of found ourselves in a perfect storm,’’ Morris said in an interview with USA TODAY. In each of the last six months, the number of background checks has risen steadily, according to FBI records..

Since before Thanksgiving weekend, all annual leave for the more than 400 employees of the bureau’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System has been canceled. That Black Friday, the system was swamped with 185,345 background check requests on new firearm sales, a new single-day record...
Thanks to one barack hussein obama, gun salesman of the year.

Normally I might be inclined to view this as just one more example of government ineptitude.
The NICS system, mandated by Congress as part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, has for nearly 20 years been a centerpiece of the government's effort to block criminals from obtaining firearms. Yet the operation has largely struggled to keep pace with a steadily increasing number of firearm transfers...
Sadly, however, there can be deadly consequences when the systems screws up.
No one recent case underscores the sobering nature of the work here more, officials said, more than an April transaction in South Carolina, reviewed by a veteran examiner at the West Virginia facility.

In that case, which could not be resolved within the three-day period, Dylann Roof was mistakenly allowed to walk away with the .45-caliber handgun allegedly used two months later to kill nine people during an evening Bible study session at the iconic Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston.

"We are all sick about what happened,'' FBI Director James Comey said during a July briefing when the error was disclosed.
That case, IMO, was a true error. However, given obama's hypocritical antipathy towards firearms and firearms owners, I am somewhat skeptical regarding the overall situation.

("This year" = 2015)
News of (the halt in processing appeals) comes on the heels of Barack Obama’s much-publicized executive actions on gun control...

Suspending the NICS denial appeal process takes on an even more sinister character when one contemplates the chief gun control measure advocated by the Obama administration. Under a “universal” background check scheme, individuals would be unable to lawfully obtain firearms without subjecting themselves to a NICS check. If such legislation was currently in force, an individual who found themselves erroneously flagged by NICS, no matter how law-abiding, would have no avenue to legally acquire a firearm and no means to challenge their incorrect NICS status, obliterating their ability to exercise their rights in perpetuity...
That, I think, is the ultimate objective of barry and his gun-grabbing cronies.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Closed Due To Snowstorm

Normal blogging expected to resume tomorrow.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Funnies 2016.01.24

While much of the east coast is digging out from under feet of snow, I spent most of yesterday at an outdoor gun range. Today I'm playing in a golf tournament.

I love living in Texas!

Knock Knock!
Who's There?
Snow who?
Snow laughing matter.

My husband and I purchased an old home in Northern New York State from two elderly sisters. Now winter was here and a monster snowstorm was bearing down on us. I was concerned about the house's lack of insulation.

"If those two old ladies could live here all those years, so can we!" my husband confidently declared.

Last night the temperature plunged to below zero, and we woke up to find interior walls covered with frost. My husband called the sisters to ask how they had kept the house warm. After a rather brief conversation, he hung up.

"For the past 30 years," he muttered, "they've gone to Florida for the winter."

It was snowing heavily and blowing to the point that visibility was almost zero, when the blonde got off work. She made her way to the parking lot and wondered how she was going to make it home.

She sat in her car while it warmed up and thought about her snowy situation. She then remembered her daddy's advice that if she ever got caught in a blizzard, she should wait for a snowplow to come by and follow it. That way she would not get stuck in a snow drift. This made her feel much better and sure enough, in a little while, a snowplow went by and she started to follow it.

As she followed the snowplow, she was feeling very smug as they continued and she was not having any problem with the blizzard conditions. After quite some time had passed, she was somewhat surprised when the snowplow stopped and the driver got out and came back to her car and signalled for her to roll down her window.

The snowplow driver wanted to know if she was all right, as she had been following him for a long time. She said that she was fine and told him of her daddy's advice to follow a snowplow when caught in a blizzard.

The driver replied that it was okay with him and she could continue doing so if she wanted, but he was done with the Wal-Mart parking lot and was going over to Home Depot next.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Wordless Saturday

Busy weekend ahead. More about that later, but in the interim here's a Saturday version of Wordless Wednesday.

No theme, just random stuff...