Smartasses of the world unite!!

Generally a smartass and believer in the Twainism that Against the assualt of laughter, nothing can stand. Mission: mock bigotry, narcisism, and ignorance. This is a collection of thoughts on baseball, politics, economics, and occasional other things.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Those who fail to learn the lessons of history........

I saw this. I have to say, if there's one phrase that should discount Mr. Chalabi and the future of Iraq - more precisely the future of the territory formerly Iraq - it should be "Cheney's old pal." I'll leave it to the linked piece to detail all of the red flags regarding Mr. Chalabi. I will say again that Mr. Cheney, and the rest of the neo-cons, should never again be consulted on foreign policy. I mean, how wrong do you have to be before you stop getting invited to give an opinion?

I have an idea, and it's regarding the old "appeasement" argument. History tells us that the mistake the world made in the 1930s was appeasing Hitler, and that's a good lesson. That's not the only lesson that history teaches us, and it's not the most important. We have so overemphasized the appeasement lesson to the detriment of others. After the assassination of the Arch Duke Ferdinand in 1914 the world rushed headlong into World War I. That's pretty much the opposite of appeasement. We have fallen woefully short of appreciating that lesson.

To be clear, in the dichotomous political climate we live in today, I'm not advocating 1930's style appeasement, but I do think that somewhere between appeasement, and "We have to show these guys we mean business." is where the sweet spot is.

Take the latest development in the Russia/Ukraine crisis - the shooting down of MH17. There is little doubt that it was done by the separatists backed by Putin's Russia. Most of the information released indicates that the separatists received the hardware and training to show down aircraft from Russia. That said, there is still an investigation to do, and separatists hindering the efforts to do that only make them look more guilty, but can we start by talking to credible people about the area, and groups involved? That's be a good idea. One more thing, can we talk about what has happened in past comparable occurrence, and not the political mythology?

What I'm saying is that maybe we should heed the lessons of the advent of WWI, and not jump to conclusions, and make decisions that are not thought out thoroughly. There are 3 really big crises going in the world right now; Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, and the continuing fracture of Iraq and Syria and ISIS. Making a snap decision, and then building a case supporting that to show everyone "we mean business" is foolhardy, and short sighted. Cherry picking information and building up those that support that cheery picked data is what wasted lives and US fortune in the Iraq fiasco. If there's a lesson history can teach us it's that. Being so recent you'd think it'd be reasonably clear. We need to gather information first, THEN make a decision.

So please, stop talking to Dick Cheney.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is booing Brett Favre really going to happen?

This past week Packers President Mark Murphy announced that this season the Green Bay Packers would NOT be having a half time ceremony at a home game for the retiring Brett Favre's jersey.

Forget the debate about whether the Packers should retire number 4. They should. There is no compelling reason not to retire it. If there is a lynch pin to the renaissance of the Green Bay Packers of the 1990s it's not Ron Wolf, and it's not Mike Holmgren. It's Brett Favre. Case closed.

Forget the drama of Brett leaving Green Bay. Remember, Brett was forced out.

Forget the drama of Brett going through back channels to get to Minnesota. Well, ok. That was a dick move.

Still, time heals all wounds, and who can blame a proud guy for wanting to show the guys who pushed him out that they were wrong. I mean, sure I just got done saying it was a dick move, but it's a dick move you can see the reasoning behind. Let he among us who hasn't wanted to give a big fuck you to someone who rejected him cast the first boo. I think Jesus said that. While there are fans who have said they will never forgive the Minnesota treachery. I think the fact that in 2010 Green Bay kicked Minnesota's ass twice AND Brett had to wear the ugliest uniforms in the NFL for two seasons is come uppence enough.

Look, when Brett Favre's number is retired there's gonna be hardly any booing. I guarantee it. 1st off, time does heal all wounds. The hardliners faction are dwindling in numbers. The flip side of that is the group that is welcoming Brett back is growing.

Here's the reality; scalping tickets is a glorious part of Wisconsin sports. We love the Packers. We also love making a buck on our tickets in the name of sharing access to Lambeau. The waiting list is 60,000 for crying out loud. For many of us secondary markets are the only way in. So when the Packers announce at which game the retirement ceremony will be held the secondary market for those tickets will respond.  Those tickets will be through the roof baby. Through - the - roof. The pro Brett side is growing, and the Brett haters are dwindling. Are the haters gonna pony up big bucks just to get into Lambeau and lustfully boo Brett? How much are you willing to pay just to be among the minority of those who will boo Brett Favre. How bitter do you have to be to drop $500, or $1,000 to boo him?

Truthfully, I don't think we'll hear any boos. The cheers will be too loud. Those will be the fans who pony up cash to get in for the retirement. I wish it was this season.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Just make Mexico a state already.....

Big dealing on the border with Mexico lately. It's all over the news. California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas all border Mexico. That's a long border. Plenty of places for illegal immigrants to leak in through. "Build a fence!!" they say. "They" being those native to these parts - descendants of European immigrants.

I have a solution. Just make Mexico a state. It's pretty big, it might make like 3 or 4, but make one bigger than Texas. I can't stand Texas. Buncha cowboy dipshits. Texas BBQ sucks anyway. Everyone knows Kentucky and Tennessee have better BBQ. Mexican chili is better too. That should be all American now, and the best American chili will be in the state of Mexico. Suck it Texas.

Compare the border of Mexico/USA and Mexico/Guatemala/Belize border. It's like less than 1/3. Fuck it. Close that smaller one. Shit, imagine the savings when the border patrol, and customs bureaucracies shrink with the shorter border to the south. You won't need a passport to take vacation to all inclusive resorts like Punta Cana (never been, but just wanted to say "Punta Cana" great name). Also, hillbilly racists will have to drive all the way to Guatemala to demonstrate. All that money spent boosting the local Mexican - ahem AMERICAN - economy. Also, look at all that beachfront. Develop THAT baby! Lastly, and the anti-soccer pinheads won't care, but the USA will have, like, THE BEST team for World Cup in 2020 if we can get this done by then.

Mexicans become American. They don't need to sneak over the border for a better paying job because minimum wage in Mexico will jump to almost double. "American" corporations can't relocate across the border to get cheaper labor, and more lenient environmental oversight thus disincentiveizing (is that a word? It is now.) shuttering US plants. Fuck you Ford, GM, and Del Monte.

You're welcome America.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How to appreciate the World Cup

I've never been a basketball fan. Not that I didn't enjoy the athleticism, and excitement that at times the game provided. But the nuances, and things that a basketball fan sees and appreciates were lost on me. A buddy, at some point, explained to me that you have to watch the whole game, not the ball. "Movement away from the ball" it's called.

As I've been watching the World Cup that phrase made a return to my consciousness from my recesses of memory. It got past baseball stats, football matchups, jokes, trivia, Bill Murray movie lines, boobie images, shopping lists, errands, and what ever else is there.

Watching soccer is like watching basketball, or hockey. In fact, hockey is basically soccer on ice with players on skates as opposed to cleats. Basket ball is soccer on a wooden floor with the goal raised and shrunk without a goal keeper. It's not the ball so much as players moving and the defenders adjusting. The whole idea of soccer derivatives is to move the ball, the offensive players, and when the defensive players react, adjusting to get a better shot. It's the same thing. Identical. If you can appreciate a backdoor cut on a basketball floor, you can appreciate a centering pass between defenders. A shot off a rebound is the same as it is in hockey. If you find yourself out and a match it on, give it a chance. You don't need to know who Ronaldo is. You don't need to care about who members of the US Mens Team might be.

None of this is to say, or convince, that soccer is as good as basketball or hockey. You may not even really give a shit.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's been 100 years

June 28, 1914 the first domino was tipped. Dominoes from that that first historical domino, and the imperceptibly long domino chain that followed are still toppling today. Arch Duke Ferdinand was shot by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo triggering World War I. It's history we've heard over and over, but unlike World War II, World War I is comparatively under studied, under discussed, and under investigated. Consider what would not have happened without World War I.

Without World War I, and the Treaty of Versailles is the rise of Hitler, and the Nazis in post war Europe possible?
If the Nazis don't ascend, does WWII become less likely?
Without WWI does Germany return the exiled Lenin to Russia to threaten the already weak Czar?
If Lenin does not return to Russia is there a Bolshevik Revolution?
With no Bolshevik Revolution, is there a different end to the Russian Czar?
Without WWI and the treaties defining its end, do Japan, and to a lesser extent, Italy, get the shaft as victors with no spoils?
Without hurt national pride to Italy and Japan begin their quest for empire?
Again, does this make WWII less likely?
Without WWI how does the end of the Ottoman Empire come about? Do the Ottomans crumble organically, as they had been, and then what does the Middle East look like if its borders are the result of its own regional political dynamics as opposed to the benefit of France and England as they drew them at the end of WWI?

None of this is to say WWI would never have happened. Europe in the early 20th Century was a tinder box of nationalism, competition among royals, as well as regional and ethnic strife. But we don't study the "War to end all wars" the way we study World War II. World War I was the beginning of the end of monarchies as a heads of state. It saw the end of the Russian Czar, German Kaiser, Ottoman Sultan, Austrian Emperor, as well as the dwindling importance of the English Crown.

Where are the movies about the soldiers, and generals that fought WWI? It's been easy to romanticize WWII. Villains are obvious, making the heroes just as obvious. WWI is not so easy to romanticize into conventional stories. The bad guys are not so obviously bad. The Arch-Duke whose assassination sparked it all was not a loved royal figure whose assassination was unforeseen. The Kaiser wasn't particularly evil and tyrannical. If we spent more time learning the lessons of WWI, and less time over learning, and misapplying the lessons of WWII we'd be in a better spot.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fool me once - Fool me twice - fuck you Donald Rumsfeld

Why the fuck is Paul Wolfowitz on the news being asked what we should do about Iraq's descent into civil war?

Why the fuck is William Kristol being asked the same questions? Or Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld. At least George Bush has the respect for this fuck up happening as a result of his "Decider-ing" to be quiet and paint cats.

How, and why, are people who so colossally oversold a threat, misled expected outcomes, so poorly prepared for occupation, and so pathetically mismanaged all of the above being asked what should be done now?

You might call this Monday morning quarterbacking. It's more like the week after Monday, since what is happening in Iraq now was predicted before the invasion, and during the early stages of the occupation.

"Naysayers" "America-haters" "Non-supporters" we were called. We wanted the invasion to fail we were told. We loved Saddam we were accused. Bullshit. We would be happy if it failed we were admonished by the "grown ups" - as they called themselves when they won the disputed 2000 election. I'm not "happy" that the Iraq misadventure failed. It would have been some karmic justice if what is happening now had happened in 2007 so these fucknuts would be the ones answering the questions - "What do we do now?"

I don't know what should be done about Iraq. I don't know if the United States should do much of anything. I certainly don't support sending troops back. I don't know that air strikes, and drone strikes are enough to quell the civil war that the "grown ups" pooh pooed when told it was coming.

I do know that Paul "Iraq doesn't have a history of sectarian discord, and its reconstruction can be paid for by oil revenues." Wolfowitz, Dick "We'll be greeted as liberators" Cheney, Donald "You go with the military you have, not the one you want - We know the WMD are in the north by Tikrit" Rumsfeld, and Bill "The Iraqi National Congress is a popular group in exile to build a government around" Kristol are not the ones to ask what to be done. They were so epically, and tragically wrong in 03. Why would anyone listen to them again?

What to do? I don't know, but this time can we ask someone who knows what the fuck they're talking about? Seriously - can we?

Monday, June 2, 2014

History Channel - come on man!!!

I generally love the History Channel.

There's a lot to like. Watching people barter, and price antiques on shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and American Restoration, besides it's entertainment value, allows for spontaneous education. I mean, one can't help but learn SOMETHING from the experts brought in to assess objects ranging from a 1st edition of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea to weapons from the the Colonial, and Civil War eras.

Where the History Channel really drives it home is the dedicated mini-series that focus on particular subjects like Mankind: The Story of All of Us, The Men Who Built America,  and The Ultimate Guide To Presidents all dealt with the subject matter interestingly, and informatively.

Needless to say I was in the early throes of a nerdgasm when History Channel promoted a 3 night miniserries - The World Wars. First off, it was three straight nights, not one night a week over three weeks. Kickass! Teasers promised that it treated the World War I, and II as a singular event, with a promised focus on the Treaty of Versailles and how it's terms contributed to the Second World War, as well as principles in WWII, and their development in WWI, and the interim time.

Well it was a waste. It sucked. Assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Arch Duke started WWI. That's the beginning! No deeper explanations of the web of alliances, and the dominoes that toppled after the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand. That's remedial 8th grade history. Lame!!

Any interesting tidbits? Well, the fucked up Gallipoli invasion was mostly the fault of Churchill. But it was underplayed if that cluster cost him credibility when he was the only one who really thought Hitler was bad news. That's another thing, they kept on the point that only Churchill thought Hitler was a bad guy, like if we had only listened to Churchill. The whole rise of the 3rd Reich is glossed over. 6 hours and they couldn't touch on how deep economic ties in the west were to industrial Germany in the 30s. That's kind of important I think.

What else? Oh yeah - a soldier had Hitler in his gunsight during WWI, but did not pull the trigger. How do we know that's true? It's not like there were big nametags on WWI uniforms. Shit, Hitler - as was customary in the early 20th Century - even still had a giant mustache as opposed to the teeny half-stache that was his hallmark.

The whole 3 nights was just reciting 8th grade remedial history. Hitler bad. Churchill and Roosevelt good. Stalin, kinda bad, then ok, then bad again.

History Channel - come on man.