Monday, February 29, 2016

FOD - Leap Year Version

I worry about a lot of things in this world. This particular one is quickly moving up the list.

Nuclear Deal in Place, Iran Is Testing New Missiles and Doubling Down in Syria

Tehran is wagering the Obama administration is so committed to the nuclear pact that it will look the other way.
During festivities this month marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution, officials publicly displayed a mock-up of the country’s latest rocket, the Simorgh. Designed to launch a satellite into space, it bears a striking resemblance to the rocket North Korea just used for its own satellite launch, reinforcing concerns that Tehran is working with Pyongyang to develop advanced ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe.
Maybe George Bush was onto something when he spoke of the "Axis of Evil."
Iran’s unabashed pursuit of missile technology is the latest example of how the country is asserting itself in the aftermath of the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran signed in July with the United States and five other major powers... Tehran in recent months has been flouting separate international restrictions on ballistic missiles and arms imports while expanding its support for militants in the region.

Iran has recently conducted two ballistic missile tests despite a U.N. ban and appears poised to launch its new Simorgh rocket. Western intelligence agencies fear Iran is working its way to building an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could eventually be outfitted with an atomic warhead...

And across the region, Iran is waging war through proxies and even its own military units to shore up the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, undermine Israel, and support Shiite Houthis against Saudi-backed forces in Yemen.
Helped out, no doubt, by freed-up assets, along with new income for international oil sales, courtesy of the elimination of sanctions.
The moves are raising concerns in Middle Eastern capitals and in the U.S. Congress, including among some of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats who backed the nuclear agreement but are worried the administration could cede too much ground to Tehran.

White House officials say they will remain vigilant against any actions taken by Iran that threaten its neighbors. Even with the nuclear agreement in place, “which ensures that our partners will not be faced with an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon, we’re still going to confront Iran’s destabilizing activities,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
If you believe that, contact me ASAP. I have a bridge to sell you - dirt cheap.
But while Congress is pushing the administration to take steps to check Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry appealed to lawmakers on Thursday to hold off for the moment on renewing the long-standing Iran Sanctions Act — which maintains a broad range of financial and other penalties on Tehran that are unrelated to the nuclear program.

“I wouldn’t advise that for a number of reasons,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee...
If Kerry said it, I'm against it.
The nuclear agreement imposed an array of limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions, freeing up to $100 billion in frozen assets. In the final stage of negotiations, the United States and other powers bowed to Tehran’s demand to ease the terms of the embargoes on arms purchases and ballistic missile development, which were imposed to penalize Iran over its nuclear work. The arms embargo is due to expire in five years, and the ballistic missile restrictions will run out in eight years — pending Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord.

But Russia, which was one of the parties to the deal, has since announced plans to sell sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, as well as Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets. Iran has long sought the S-300 missiles, which have a range of about 100 miles and could make it much more difficult for Israeli or U.S. aircraft to stage an air attack on Iran’s nuclear sites...
Putin owns obama - again.
Iran raised alarms in Washington recently after test-firing a rocket in the Persian Gulf within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier and after capturing 10 U.S. Navy sailors whose vessels had strayed into Iranian waters. Iran released the sailors promptly after a flurry of phone calls between Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. But before the sailors were freed, Iran released embarrassing video footage of the boat crews kneeling with their hands behind their heads, images of one sailor crying, and an interview with one officer who apologized for the navigation mishap.

Those aren’t the only incidents raising hackles in Washington. Iran carried out a ballistic missile test last October and another in November, despite a U.N. prohibition...
Iran ignored a U.N. prohibition. Really? Color me surprised.
Early next week, Iran will likely test its Simorgh rocket... If successful, its launch would represent a major achievement for a missile program that has made remarkable strides in recent years with the help of North Korea.

Missile cooperation between Iran and North Korea began during the Iran-Iraq War, when Tehran found itself desperate for a ballistic missile capable of striking Iraqi targets far beyond the front lines... It eventually turned to North Korea for help. Pyongyang, in turn, supplied Iran with large numbers of Scud missiles, laying the basis for more than two decades of cooperation that will culminate with the likely launch of the Simorgh.
Like I said, I worry about many things. My overarching concern, however, is what kind of country, and what kind of world, my generation is leaving our children - MY children. Economic and social issues are worrisome enough, but my greatest fear is that some country run by lunatics (both North Korea and Iran qualify) will punch the nuclear button. In the case of North Korea, they have a psycho in charge. Iran (and other muslim countries) are controlled by people who have no fear of death, because they believe in an afterlife where they are pleasured by 72 virgins. That's not much of a deterrent.

Thanks, barry.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Funnies 2016.02.28

Today is a bridge day. Yesterday was my mumble-mumble birthday, and tomorrow is Leap Year Day. So we have two themes for today's funnies.

Leap Year first:

What do athletes wear on Leap Day?

Where do most people eat on Leap Day?

What kind of music do you listen to on Leap Day?
Hip Hop.

There is an official Leap Day cocktail (no joke). It's called… what else... the Leap Day Cocktail! This colorful cousin of the martini was invented by pioneering bartender Harry Craddock at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1928. (measurements in parentheses are for a single drink)
1 Dash Lemon Juice. (1 dash is approximately a teaspoon)
2/3 part Gin (1 1/2 oz)
1/6 part Grand Marnier (1/2 of 3/4 oz)
1/6 part Italian vermouth (1/2 of 3/4 oz)
Shake, serve, garnish with a lemon peel, and enjoy the flood of bittersweet flavors.

And for those unfortunate souls born on Leap Year Day:

Speaking of birthdays:

“Look at ME!!” boasted the fit old man, pounding a very flat and firm stomach, having just finished 100 sit-ups before a group of young people.

“Fit as a fiddle! And you want to know why? I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t stay up late, and I don’t chase after loose women!!”

He smiled at them, teeth white, eyes aglitter, “And tomorrow — tomorrow, I’m going to celebrate my 70th birthday!!”

“Oh, really?” drawled one of the young onlookers, “How?”

You know you are getting old when you still chase women, but only downhill.
--Bob Hope

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Personal Observations

Performing Arts

Thursday night my wife dragged me out to dinner and then to a night of culture. She snagged a couple of tickets to the Tao Drummers road show, Seventeen Samurai (video below)

If you're not familiar with the Tao Drummers, you're not alone. I'd never heard of them until Thursday. But now I'm a fan. They're hard to describe - sort of a mix of traditional Japanese music - heavy on the drums - combined with flutes, stringed instruments, martial dances, acrobatics, and a dash of slapstick. They're on a North American tour. If they come anywhere near your area do yourself a favor and take in their show. Definitely well worth your time.

Election Happenings

Yesterday I did the 'early voting' thing for the Texas primaries - part of Super Tuesday. The turnout was pretty heavy. There were actually people waiting in line to vote, something I've never seen before in our sleepy little town, even in a general election.

I'm not going to say who I voted for, but I will say this. I'm in Lamar Smith's congressional district. He's a no-doubt-about-it conservative, has an A+ rating from the NRA, is a powerful member of several congressional committees, and has been our representative for 30 years.

I didn't vote for him.

The reason is simple. He's had 30 years to get things done. However, over that time things have gotten worse and worse. Nothing against him personally, but he's part of the problem: a career politician who checks off all the boxes, but at the end of the day nothing changes.

Now it's time for a change

In other election news, there was a woman standing a couple of places behind me with her mother. The woman was around my age - mid 50s to mid 60s - and her mother had to be in her 80s. The poor old lady was hunchbacked, had thinning grey hair, and needed a walker to get around.

I have no problems with that. What I do have a problem with is that the old lady kept asking her daughter "Why are we here?"
The daughter replied "We're here to vote for the president."

The old woman replied "Who is running?"

The daughter said "Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders."

The old woman said "Wasn't she president already?"

The daughter's response: "That was her husband. Just vote for Hillary and then I'll take you to lunch."

The sad part is that her vote is worth the same as mine.


Friday, February 26, 2016

More Election Fun

Yesterday we speculated about a Trump/Sanders ticket. Today let's imagine what might happen if Michael Bloomberg launches his much-threatened run for president as a third party candidate.

To be clear, I think Bloomie is an idiot who doesn't stand a snowball's chance in Hell of winning. However, it's fun to contemplate the chaos such a move could cause.
In the next couple of weeks, Michael R. Bloomberg will decide whether to launch an independent bid for the presidency. That's an enticing prospect, since the continuing strength of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders threatens to force a radical choice between two extremes. Nevertheless, before succumbing to centrist temptation, the former New York City mayor should take a hard look at the Constitution. He will find that his run for the White House could precipitate one of the worst constitutional crises in American history.

The problem is the 12th Amendment. Enacted in 1804, it establishes the rules for presidential selection if no candidate secures a majority of 270 electoral votes — a distinct possibility should Bloomberg enter the race. The sphere of competition will then move from the states to the House of Representatives... Under the amendment's special rules, each state delegation casts a single vote, and the winning candidate must convince 26 delegations to support him. Even if Bloomberg carries a few key states in November, his fate will be determined by representatives from regions that rejected his candidacy. In addition, there are 11 states with only one or two House members — and their idiosyncratic views will have a disproportionate say in the final choice.

Worse yet, if a state's delegation is equally divided, it can't vote at all. This means that the process will degenerate into a free-for-all as rival candidates engage in desperate efforts to nudge one or another fence-sitter in their direction.

At this point, a final factor will make for more melodrama. If the House can't pick a chief executive by Jan. 20, the amendment provides an interim remedy. It says that the new vice president will become acting president while the political bargaining continues.

The three vice presidential nominees will be in the same position as their running mates — none will have gained a majority of the electoral college. Anticipating this eventuality, the authors of the 12th Amendment designed another system for resolving the vice presidential contest.

Under this secondary scheme, it's the Senate, not the House, that does the deciding, and a simple majority of senators suffices to make the choice. But the Senate can choose only between the top two, not the top three, candidates. As a consequence, Bloomberg's running mate might be barred from the competition from the start.
If things get that far, and if the republicans retain control of the Senate, then they will no doubt select the republican candidate for VP - whoever that might be. But just for fun, imagine that the democrats win the Senate, that Bernie Sanders is their candidate, and that Elizabeth Warren is his running mate. That means our next president would be Elizabeth Warren.

And you thought President Hillary Clinton would be bad. President Fuaxchahontas would be much worse.

Just to make matters more confusing, the Supreme Court would likely be split 4 - 4 on any election issues or challenges.

A highly unlikely turn of events, to be sure, but just think of all the exploding heads in D.C.

If that does happen, I'm on the next plane to Belize...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Middle Finger Surprise

This election season has been unusual, to say the least. The rise - and staying power - of anti-establishment candidates on both sides has surprised political 'experts' and casual observers alike. Could we be in for one more HUGE surprise?

From the American Thinker:
Most will agree that this has been an election season unlike any other. The standard rules have been tossed aside. Reaching for a wrecking ball has replaced reaching across the aisle. Political incorrectness has replaced genuflection before the party elders. What else explains Donald Trump galloping toward the Republican nomination while the Republican chosen son and brother, Jeb Bush, quit the race before even leaving the starting gate?

On the other side of the proverbial aisle that only the establishment brags about reaching across is a self-described socialist, Bernie Sanders, who honeymooned in the Soviet Union and lived as a hobo until age 40. He is mounting a formidable challenge to the anointed candidate of the Democrat crony establishment, Hillary Clinton.

Will the establishments sit back and allow outsiders, such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, to waltz in and grab the nomination? Will they permit we the people to override we the donors in choosing our next president?

(There is speculation that the Republican establishment is) scheming and plotting in their now smoke-free rooms over how to pull the rug out from Trump and hand the nomination to Rubio or Kasich.

The Democrat establishment has superdelegates doing their dirty work. Despite barely winning two contests and getting shellacked in New Hampshire, Clinton now has 502 delegates compared to Sanders’s 70. That’s like giving Hillary a 20-yard head start in a 100-yard dash.

Suppose both establishments rig the nominating process, pushing Trump and Sanders to the side, deliberately ignoring their respective voter bases. Imagine the outrage, or better yet revolution, among a large swath of voters, fed up with business-as-usual establishment shenanigans.
Here's where the article leads us into FantasyLand. The author imagines a scenario where the outcome of such shenanigans is a Trump/Sanders ticket.

Yes, you read that right. An independent candidacy featuring Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders running together on the same ticket. 
Crazy? Probably. Impossible? Hardly.

How different are the two candidates? Policy wise, quite different. But this isn’t an election respecting the usual political boundaries of political philosophy and policy. Instead it’s contest between establishment and anti-establishment. The establishment candidates are, or were, Bush, Rubio, Kasich, and Clinton. The anti-establishment candidates are Trump, Carson, Cruz, and Sanders.

How similar are Donald and Bernie? Consider this exchange with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski last week.

“I wanted to describe a candidate to you,” she began. “The candidate is considered a political outsider by all the pundits. He’s tapping into the anger of the voters, delivers a populist message. He believes everyone in the country should have healthcare, he advocates for hedge fund managers to pay higher taxes, he’s drawing thousands of people at his rallies and bringing in a lot of new voters to the political process, and he’s not beholden to any super PAC. Who am I describing?” she asked.
Trump took the bait and answered, “You’re describing Donald Trump.” Wrong answer – you’re fired! She was describing Bernie Sanders.

Twin sons of different mothers? Both pariahs of their establishments. Why not join forces? In broad strokes, they are more alike than different. The policy differences can be negotiated between the two candidates in the ultimate sequel to “The Art of the Deal.”

If both party establishments gave their respective voters the big middle finger, the voters just might give both middle fingers back to the establishments, supporting a Trump/Sanders ticket.

Improbable? Absolutely. So was the idea, a year or two ago, of Donald Trump leading the Republican field and an avowed socialist beating the anointed one in almost every key demographic.

If anything, it’s something to ponder. And the fact that I would even put forth such a scenario is a sign of the desperation of the establishments. In their minds, desperate times call for desperate measures. Thwarting the will of their voters in the pursuit of continued power and money would not be a surprise. And neither would be a third party response.

Could such a ticket win? Who knows? If half of each party’s voters are fed up enough to vote for such a ticket, the plurality might be enough to win.
I'm doubtful that such a ticket will ever come to pass. But it sure would be fun to watch it happen.

Hey Political Establishment - This One's for YOU!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Climate Change? Attack!

Our armed forces have one simple underlying mission - to destroy our nation's enemies.

At its most basic, that involves destroying things and killing people.

A more nuanced way to say it is that the military projects America's power to further our national interests.

According to barack obama, that includes fighting global warming climate change.
Last week, the Obama administration gave the military a new assignment.

“The Pentagon is ordering the top brass to incorporate climate change into virtually everything they do, from testing weapons to training troops to war planning to joint exercises with allies,” the Washington Times reported... The U.S. Armed Forces must show ‘resilience’ and beat back the threat based on ‘actionable science.’”

As the Times explained, “The directive, ‘Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience,’ is in line with President Obama’s view that global warming is the country’s foremost national security threat...
Remember that line. We'll come back to it a little further down.
Dakota Wood, a retired Marine Corps officer who now serves with the Heritage Foundation, said the idea is a bad one.

“I understand the motivation behind and intent for such guidance,” he said. “The problem is that it includes such a wide variety of issues with no explication or context that enables the offices mentioned to differentiate and prioritize activities and efforts across time or intensity.”
Let's set aside for now the debate over whether or not global warming climate change is really occurring. There is a more important question.
Should we distract the U.S. military with a politicized agenda of addressing climate change, when there are people in the world still shooting at us? (emphasis added)
I'd like to think that most reasonable people would answer that question not only "No," but "Hell no!" Sadly, however, the obama administration is letting environmental concerns prevent attacks on ISIS-controlled oil wells, pipelines, and even trucks.
A former CIA director says concerns about environmental impact have prevented the White House from bombing oil wells that finance the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“We didn’t go after oil wells, actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage..."
Our military’s proper role isn’t to attack global warming climate change. It is to destroy our enemies. Let's give it the direction and resources that it needs to accomplish this mission, and stop shackling it with politically correct nonsense.

Here's an example - just one of many - of where we need to provide direction and resources to deal with an emerging and serious threat to our national security.

U.S. aircraft carriers’ ‘unchallenged primacy may be coming to a close’
The United States’ aircraft carriers have always been an almost untouchable deterrent, steel behemoths capable of projecting the full weight of the U.S. military wherever they deploy. Yet while many militaries could never hope to match the U.S. carrier fleet in size and strength, countries such as China, Iran and Russia have spent recent years adjusting their forces and fielding equipment designed to counter one of the United States’ greatest military strengths.

A report published Monday by the Center for a New American Security, a D.C.-based think tank that focuses on national security, claims that the Navy’s carrier operations are at an inflection point. Faced with growing threats abroad, the United States can either “operate its carriers at ever-increasing ranges … or assume high levels of risk in both blood and treasure.”

The report, titled “Red Alert: The Growing Threat to U.S. Aircraft Carriers,” focuses on China’s burgeoning military posture in the Pacific and on a term that is starting to appear with increasing urgency in defense circles: anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD. The term A2/AD refers to a concept that has long existed in warfare: denying the enemy the ability to move around the battlefield. Currently A2/AD strategy is much the same as it was when moats were dug around castles, except that today’s moats are an integrated system of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, submarines, surface ships and aircraft — all designed to push enemy forces as far away as possible from strategically important areas.

The report highlights China’s capabilities because of its “emphasis on long-range anti-ship missile procurement.” This, coupled with its growing tech base, qualifies China as the “pacing threat” to the U.S. military. China, however, is not the sole architect of an A2/AD strategy designed to deter U.S. operations. In the Baltic, Russia’s naval base in Kaliningrad is known to house a sophisticated air defense network and anti-ship missiles. NATO commanders also have warned of Russian A2/AD buildup around Syria, as Russia has moved advanced surface-to-air missiles into its airbase there as well as a flotilla of ships with robust anti-air capabilities.

As other countries focus on creating sophisticated A2/AD bubbles by using new technology such as drones, advanced missiles and newer aircraft, the United States — by operating as it always has — is putting itself more at risk. According to the report, this is particularly relevant as carrier groups have reduced their long-range strike ability in favor of being able to fly more air missions but at shorter ranges.

“Operating the carrier in the face of increasingly lethal and precise munitions will thus require the United States to expose a multi-billion dollar asset to high levels of risk in the event of a conflict,” the report says. “An adversary with A2/AD capabilities would likely launch a saturation attack against the carrier from a variety of platforms and directions. Such an attack would be difficult — if not impossible — to defend against.”
There are counter-measures to the growing A2/AD threat, and the Navy is currently exploring them. But I fear that, under obama, the primary focus will be on the environmental impact of those counter-measures, not their effectiveness against anti-ship missiles, drones, and other such things.

Oh, and while we're at it, the Navy is short of submarines and missiles.
China’s recent actions to militarize the South China Sea have changed the operational landscape, and the U.S. Pacific Command needs more attack submarines and long-range surface missiles to keep up with the evolving threat, PACOM commander Adm. Harry Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
The Air Force is running out of bombs and missiles.
The U.S. Air Force has fired off more than 20,000 missiles and bombs since the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS began 15 months ago, according to the Air Force, leading to depleted munitions stockpiles and calls to ramp up funding and weapons production.

As the U.S. ramps up its campaign against the Islamist terror group in Iraq and Syria, the Air Force is now "expending munitions faster than we can replenish them," Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a statement.
The Army is being stressed by multiple deployments.
President Barack Obama this fall announced that about 10,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016 — with a smaller group staying even longer. For many of those troops, it won't be their first deployment, or even their second.

America's war in Afghanistan has seen multiple deployments become routine for military families.
The Marines would have trouble mobilizing for a large-scale war.
The internal military report leads with a warning, typed in bold: If called to war tonight, the Marine Corps could only meet operational demands by deploying nearly every heavy-lift transport helicopter remaining in its inventory.

That would mean activating all aircraft that are down for long-term maintenance...

After more than a decade of relentless combat – a period marked by repeated deployments to the Middle East, ballooning procurement costs and cuts to defense spending – the Marine Corps’ workhorse helicopter, the CH-53E Super Stallion, is worn out and in need of serious attention.
Those are just a few examples of problems that need immediate attention. And yet barry and his gang think the greatest threat facing our military is global warming climate change?!?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Kinda busy right now, so I can't devote the time necessary to come up with an in-depth post on this topic. However, I did run across this image highlighting the democrat's hypocrisy when it comes to filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

In that same vein, here's a few more reminders of the hypocrisy that runs rampant among the liberals.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Blahs

Depressed by all the politics in the news?

Yeah, me too.

Here's some pictures to put you in a better mood.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Funnies 2016.02.21

Yesterday was the republican primary in South Carolina and the democrat caucuses in Nevada. (results unknown at the time I'm writing this). Next week they trade places: republicans caucus in Nevada on Tuesday, democrats hold their primary in South Carolina on Saturday. (Don't ask me why it's done that way.)

After that it's Super Tuesday on March 1. When the dust settles on March 2 we should have a much clearer idea of who is where in the race for the White House.

Speaking of the 'race for the White House,' here is how many of us view it.

By now, most people are sick and tired of political ads and those damned robocalls.

There is, however, a segment of the population that enjoys the primaries. Late night comedians love them. It gives them material for their monologues.
"Ben & Jerry's ice cream wants to make a flavor inspired by Bernie Sanders. Whatever flavor it winds up being, we know Bernie will hate it for being too rich." –Jimmy Fallon

"Bernie Sanders has now passed Hillary Clinton in the polls. It's the first time anyone's ever been passed by a guy in a Prius." –Seth Meyers

"A new poll shows that Hillary Clinton is only six points ahead of Bernie Sanders. Today a very confident Hillary said, 'Oh, please. Like I'm going to lose the Democratic nomination to a left-wing senator nobody's ever heard of?'" –Conan O"Brien

"Hillary's lead in national polls is dwindling. I don't want to say Hillary is upset, but this morning she was spotted shouting into a volcano, 'You said we had a deal!'" –Jimmy Fallon

"Nearly 70 percent of Americans said a Trump presidency would make them 'anxious.' And 30 percent said a Trump presidency would make them 'Canadian.'" –Conan O'Brien

"A lot of people think that when the Republican field clears it will come down to Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Kind of like the race between the tortoise and the bad hair." –Jimmy Fallon

"During a speech on Friday, Senator Ted Cruz said that if you walk up to someone and say 'Joe Biden,' the person will crack up laughing. Which is the same reaction you get if you say 'President Ted Cruz.” –Seth Meyers

"Jeb Bush admitted that he smoked a notable amount of pot in school. He said, 'You would too if your parents had named you 'Jeb.'" –Conan O'Brien
Personally, I think we should rename the whole name process. Instead of "elections" let's call them what they are - "auctions."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fast Food Politics

It's only mid-February, and  we're already drowning in a sea of endless babble from politicians on the campaign trail. It's gotten so bad that even schlubs applying for minimum wage jobs have started talking like they're running for office.
I am here to announce my application for the position of line cook at this McDonald’s location. You don’t know me, so let me take a moment to introduce myself. There are a few things that set me apart from the other candidates hovering in the lobby and sipping complimentary fountain drinks.

First and foremost, I am a fast food outsider. I did not graduate from McDonald’s University. I have never set foot in one of these places, or any fast food restaurant for that matter. What that means is, I won’t just come in here and accept business-as-usual. I will ask questions. Why do we need to empty the grease trap? How does the cash register work? What is the maximum holding time for a pan of chicken patties?

What I bring to the table is a common-sense, home cook’s approach to making hamburgers. We don’t need some corporate manual and volumes of market research to tell us how to cook a Big Mac. All we need is a hot griddle and old-fashioned American know-how. Also, we will eventually need a bun and toppings, but you see where I’m going with this.

It’s important to remember where we came from. The hamburger has been a cornerstone of this great nation for generations. Our forefathers had a simple but powerful vision: A cooked beef patty served on a bun. We’ve lost sight of that.

Our grandparents didn’t need fancy timers and thermometers to tell them when their food was cooked. They didn’t worry about egghead concepts like maximum customer waiting time or salmonella. That was a simpler time, and I believe we can still go back to that simple time.

I am ready to roll up my sleeves, put on a hairnet and non-skid shoes, and get to work. I will stand up for my convictions and not be swayed by any crew leader or assistant manager.

Some of my opponents don’t see things the way I do. They’ve spent years in the fast food beltway, a revolving door from Burger King to Wendy’s, with brief stops in community college and/or prison. They call this “experience.” I call it just more of the same. Those are the people who got us to where we are now: At a small table between the ice machine and the cardboard boxes that need to be run out to the dumpster.

I have no intention of becoming one of these McDonald’s lifers. If you hire me, I will serve my time, but mark my words: When my shift ends, you won’t find me in the back room, hobnobbing with dishwashers and dining room staff. I will head back home to cook my own meals, or possibly, on occasion, stop by the Chipotle over by the new Target.

There’s so much to be done, and I’m ready to get to work. But I can’t do it without your support. That’s why I’m asking you to hire me as your new weekday line cook, except Thursdays when I’ve got this other thing and also I need next week off.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2016.02.19

The Killer commemorates National Drink Wine Day as only he can...

A Day Late

Yesterday was National Drink Wine Day. Seriously.
National Drink Wine Day is celebrated annually on February 18 across the United States.

The purpose of National Drink Wine Day is to spread the love and health benefits of wine.  Wine has played an important role in history, religion and relationships.  We embrace the positive benefits of wine such as new friends, reduced risk of heart disease and the enhancement of food and life.
I was busy with life's little chores and let National Drink Wine Day pass without notice. Fortunately, I honored the spirit (hah!) of the occasion, even if I let the actual date slip my mind (kind of like my wedding anniversary, but that's another story).

Anyway, spend some time this weekend embracing the "positive benefits of wine:"

new friends:

Reduced risk of heart disease:

and the enhancement of food and life:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

PC Strikes Again

The list of things I don't understand is long - and growing. But I do stubbornly (bitterly?) cling to certain beliefs. One of those beliefs is that the government has no right to intervene or interfere with actions that are purely voluntary, and that pose no threat or harm to others.

According to the government, I am mistaken in that belief.
Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach in Bremerton, Wash., served in the Marines for 20 years, including in operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield in Iraq.

But the “hardest thing” he’s ever been through, he said, was being suspended from coaching football and being forced to watch his players compete from the sidelines.

“It’d be easier if you stabbed or shot at me in combat,” Kennedy told The Daily Signal. “I just felt like I was letting them down.”

For almost eight years, Kennedy, an assistant coach for the Bremerton High School varsity football team, had given thanks after games by saying a short prayer on the 50-yard line...

Before long, some of his players joined in, and over the years, the opposing teams did, too.
Kennedy's players welcomed the ritual. So also did opposing players. None were forced to participate.
In a statement, the Bremerton School District stated there is “no evidence that students have been directly coerced to pray with Kennedy.” In fact, Kennedy said, some students regularly observed from the sidelines.
So what's the problem?
... on Oct. 28, 2015, one day before the last game of the season, school officials said praying at the 50-yard line “poses as a genuine risk that the District will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others.”
Say what? Voluntary participation in a voluntary ritual that is not endorsed in any way by the school district still is considered as a "genuine risk that the District will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others?”

They suspended Kennedy from participating “in any capacity” in the Bremerton High School football program, forcing him to sit out the last game of the season.
Not only was Kennedy forced to miss the last game of the season, he was also forbidden to participate in events that honored and celebrated his players - kids he had spent months if not years working with.
"Knowing that (one of his players) came to you and that he’s asked you to be part of it and you can’t… you feel like you let him down."
You didn't let him down, Coach. The damn worthless government - scared to death by Political Correctness - did.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Beer In The News

Yesterday's post about Beer Runs whetted my thirst for more beer-related news. So here's a couple of beer-in-the-news items.

Interesting Fact of the Day: Gasoline is cheaper than beer.
The national average price of gasoline is now $1.85 per gallon. How does that compare to the price of beer purchased by the keg? In Minneapolis, the cheapest beer is $50 for a 16-gallon keg of Natural Light, which works out to $3.125 per gallon. The local craft beer favorite – Surly – sells for between $7.50 to $10 per gallon when purchased in 16-gallon kegs, and Michigan’s favorite – Bell’s Two Hearted Ale – sells for $13.75 per gallon.
Natural Light ... shudder. Although I can recall the days when I bought whatever was on sale. In my case it was a six-pack of Old Milwaukee for 99¢. Thank goodness I can now afford the good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, I have a fondness for European beer. I also retain a soft spot in my heart for cheap reasonably priced brew. That's why I found this next story so fascinating.

All-You-Can-Drink Beer Fountain
Nestled in the heart of the Lower Savinja Valley is the little Slovenian town of Žalec, where tourists can visit a nearby Roman Necropolis, a carsic cave called “Hell”, and, in the near future, Europe’s first “beer fountain.”

Also known as the “Valley of Green Gold,” this region of Slovenia is famous for its ample hops supply and beer production, which is why municipal officials in Žalec have decided to greenlight a huge fountain which will spew free beer, according to the BBC.

In addition to attracting beer-loving tourists, the town will generate income by providing them with three 10-ounce “commemorative mugs” for the low price of six euros, meaning that visitors will not have to resort to Homer-esque hands-free celebrations of beer drinking.
Free beer and tourists. What could go wrong...?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Beer Run

Back in the day, Coors beer was a regional brew that was generally unavailable outside of Colorado and a few other Rocky Mountain states. For some reason that escapes me today (probably having something to do with the Psychology of Scarcity) my buddies and I were convinced that Coors was the earthly equivalent of the nectar of the gods. Consequently, we would do anything to get our hands on a supply of it.

There was one weekend in particular where we thought it would be a good idea to head west until we ran into a store that sold said suds. After further consideration, we thought it would be an even better idea to drag a trailer along, load it up with cases of Coors, and sell it for a vast profit back in Texas. Since this was a payday weekend we cashed our checks, piled into a truck, rented a trailer, and off we went.

To make a long story short, we eventually found a small town that sold Coors, pretty much cleaned it out, and headed home. We managed to sell most of it, but after deducting our expenses, including what we drank and kept for ourselves, we just barely made a small profit. Still, we had a good time, and a good story to tell in our Golden years (sorry...).

So why relate this tale of misguided youth now? Because I came across this article.
A border-crossing beer run has landed two Maple Grove (Minnesota) bar managers in a heap of legal trouble.

In an unusual bust, undercover state investigators caught Maple Tavern illegally selling a beloved Wisconsin beer in April. The bar had tapped kegs of New Glarus Spotted Cow, a farmhouse ale that can only be sold in Wisconsin — a felony offense.
Maple Tavern owner Brandon Hlavka, 37, of St. Michael, and manager David Lantos, 28, of Brooklyn Park, were each charged Thursday with a single felony of transporting alcohol into Minnesota for resale.

Hlavka and Lantos told investigators they wanted to sell microbrews and knew they couldn’t acquire the beer from Minnesota distributors, so decided to make a run to the neighboring state...
For this simple act - not that much different from a bunch of 20-somethings reselling Coors in Texas many years ago - those two folks are facing felony charges. FELONY charges!!! Talk about law enforcement overkill. And why on God's Green Earth are the good people of Minnesota denied the right to purchase beer brewed in Wisconsin? Is there something in the Wisconsin water that is harmful to Minnesotans? (Michigan water, I could understand...)

Behind this simple and humorous-yet-sad story is the reason I am a Conservative/Libertarian. The government has no business telling consenting adults what they can or cannot buy or consume. The rules governing beer sales in Minnesota exist for one simple reason: to limit competition. It is similar in intent and spirit to many if not most of the laws and regulations which loom over us daily.

Here's how it works in the beer biz.
... Since the repeal of prohibition most states have operated what is called a “Three-Tier Alcohol Distribution System"...

In the system, only a manufacturer of alcohol can sell to a wholesaler (Tier One: Production), only a wholesaler can sell to a distributor (Tier Two: Distribution), and only a distributor can sell to a bar, grocery store, liquor store, sports venue, or the general public at large (Tier Three: Retail).

The reason this system is set up is two-fold. First, it allows strict government regulation on the flow of alcohol to the public and tightly manages the tax revenue each tier generates...

Secondly, it’s a protectionist measure. The three-tier system places strict control on who can enter a particular state’s market. Each state heavily regulates entry into the market, especially on the wholesaler and distributor level with very high annual fees on business. Add in the armies of lobbyists from associations protecting those already in the industry, the unions (Teamsters) who haul their beer and spirits, and other organizations such as the Tavern League and it’s a tougher row to hoe.

If states allowed for easier ways to get into their distribution networks, perhaps that would change. But as long as the three-tier system sticks around, the real loser's are smaller companies and upstarts who can’t get past the barriers to entry as well as those beer drinkers suffering with the limited options the big, industrial breweries force on tap.

Unless that changes, the beer-smuggling will continue unabated.
Viewed in that light, my buddies and I those many years ago weren't irresponsible youths, but revolutionaries striking a blow for sudsy freedom.

You're welcome.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Decisions Decisions Decisions

Unless you've been living in a cave the last few days, you know that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away Saturday. You probably also know that the Supreme Court has been pretty much split down the middle - four solid conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts - although I'm not so sure about Roberts), four solid liberals Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan), and one swing vote (Kennedy). So Scalia's death has left the court leaning middle-left. It also gives obama the opportunity to nominate a new justice, which opens up all sorts of intriguing possibilities.

Let's first start with obama's options. There are basically two.

Option one: he can nominate someone the republican-controlled Senate is sure to reject: a dyed in the wool liberal. To gani maximum political mileage, this person will probably be from one or more of the protected demographics - minority, and/or female.
Most likely, this means Obama will select an African-American female. That way, when the Senate refuses even to bring the nomination to a vote, the Democratic presidential nominee and Democrats running for Congress can rally African-American voters while also complaining that the GOP is waging war on women...

... Loretta Lynch (confirmed with 10 Republican votes including Majority Leader McConnell’s) comes immediately to mind.

Option 2: he can nominate someone more moderate.
Political calculation also militates in favor of nominating someone whose leftism isn’t obvious. That way, Republicans won’t easily be able to answer charges of racism and sexism by pointing out that the nominee is “outside the mainstream.”
In either case, however, obama is sure to make his decision based on partisan political considerations.

On the republican side, they have already made their intentions clear.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” (Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa ... also came out of the gate opposing confirmation of a final Obama Supreme Court nominee.
That position, while it might sound good to those of us on the right, carries some significant political risks. The first is the uncertain outcome of the 2016 presidential and senate elections. If a democrat wins the Oval Office, and/or if the republicans lose control of the senate, then all bets are off.
Many Republicans in D.C. are skeptical that the party will be able to do either, especially if Donald J. Trump or Ted Cruz win the GOP presidential nomination. These establishment Republicans have seen evidence that Trump or Cruz would create a drag on races lower down the ballot, such as the Senate races in November, and are worried Republicans could lose the Senate.

Republicans currently hold the Senate majority with 54 members, but 24 of those seats are being contested this year — including seven in states where Obama won twice.

If Republicans wait and Democrats win the White House and regain the Senate majority, a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton, for example, would have greater leeway to select a more liberal justice than Obama might have submitted.
Of course, there is another way to look at it.
But the politics could also work in Republicans’ favor, as mobilization for a Supreme Court nomination by a Republican president could cause conservative voter turnout to spike in 2016, helping candidates across the board...
Either way, brace yourself for even more name-calling, fact-distortion, and generally all around dirty politics.

In other words, it'll be politics as usual...