Posted by: SWL | February 6, 2016

ABC Wrong to Deny Fiorina Debate Spot

ABC News has denied candidate Carly Fiorina a spot in tonight’s GOP debate based on their “criteria”. I would say their criteria lack substance at best; at worst they are stupid and illogical.

The biggest argument in Fiorina’s favor is that she is the only Republican candidate who will not be on the debate stage. Why would ABC leave out just one candidate? It cannot be that difficult to add one more podium to the stage.  Eight candidates is certainly manageable after 10 or 11 back at the first debate.

ABC said this was no different than when NJ Governor Chris Christie’s poll numbers put him an undercard debate; he worked his way back up and Fiorina can too.  But that supposed justification does not work because Fiorina earned more votes in the Iowa Caucuses than Christie or Ohio Governor John Kasich, both of whom ABC will allow on stage tonight. Including Iowa votes as part of the criteria would have made sense, but I guess ABC doesn’t care about being reasonable.

Since no one will get to hear from Fiorina tonight, I’ve included a link to her official campaign website if you want to learn more about her stand on the issues.

Posted by: SWL | February 4, 2016

Sanders Campaign Needs to Educate Its Workers

Thanks to efforts from Nevada Senator Harry Reid to make our state more prominent nationally, Nevada’s caucuses were moved to an earlier spot on the calendar in 2008. Since the Iowa Caucuses last week, the number of telephone calls from campaigns has increased at my house.

Twice today I received calls from people identifying themselves with the Bernie Sanders campaign. I informed the first worker that I was registered non-partisan and she was surprised that one must be registered with one of the two main parties to take part in their caucus. That ignorance is hard to overlook, because that is how all caucuses work. (Non-partisans like myself, or other independents, must change their registration to participate in a caucus.)

The second caller asked if I would vote for Sander in the primary. I explained that he was calling Nevada and that we had a caucus, and went on to explain the non-partisan situation too.

Independent voters, who are not bound by party loyalty, are often more politically educated than party-line voters. If the Sanders campaign wants to win them over, they need to be sure those who man the phones are knowledgeable about the state they are calling. It’s not enough for them to tell voters, as the first caller told me, “He’s awesome.”

Posted by: SWL | February 2, 2016

Cruz Iowa Win Marred by Aides’ False Tweets

Senator Ted Cruz won the Iowa GOP Caucuses with 28% of the vote.  Donald Trump finished with 24%.  To me, one of two big surprises was Senator Marco Rubio earning 23% of the vote for third place.  (He and Trump earned the same number of delegates.)

The other surprise of the night was Senator Rand Paul’s fifth place finish in the Republican race.  The polls had shown him running seventh or lower.

The evening was marred by the actions of aides to Cruz.  Just before the caucuses began, they were Tweeting that Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out of the race for the GOP nomination, based on a CNN report that Carson wasn’t traveling to New Hampshire.  They also said caucus goers shouldn’t waste their vote on Carson if that was the case.

Carson had actually said that he would return home for a day and then travel on to New Hampshire.

CNN did not say Carson was dropping out.  No logical person would immediately interpret that report to mean Carson was quitting.  Why would any candidate drop out right before the vote?  Cruz aides obviously decided to twist the news to their advantage.

Apologies came a bit later, but any damage had already been done.  That’s typical political behavior:  spread rumors, wait for an effect, then issue a disclaimer or apology.

Today a Cruz supporter in Iowa said it was o.k. because the aides apologized.  She also added, “All’s fair in love and war.”  Sorry, but the ends do not justify the means.  Integrity matters in politics. Can a candidate – or those who advise him or her – be trusted to provide the truth to the American people?  The aides involved in this incident should be fired.

On the Democrats’ side, former Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders finished in a tie.  This morning, Clinton was eventually declared the winner by literally a few votes.  Martin O’Malley earned almost no votes and has suspended his campaign.




Posted by: SWL | February 1, 2016

Iowa GOP Debate Dealt with Real Issues

Last week’s FOX News Republican debate in Iowa was a thing a beauty!  We actually got to hear candidates discussing issues and their plans for solutions.

It is too bad many Donald Trump supporters are said to have watched his fundraising event instead.  If they had watched the debate, they might have actually heard facts that would change their minds on who to support.  (And shame on the networks that carried the Trump event live during the debate.  They were obviously more concerned about ratings than whether the electorate is informed.  And a fundraiser, even for charity, is really not a news event.)

There are plenty of places on the Web for you to get detailed information from the debate, so I’ll just mention a few points that caught my attention and/or redirected my thoughts.

  • Dr. Ben Carson mentioned that problem solving is one of his strengths, that he has put together many teams – often on short notice – to attempt to do something that had never been done before.  While he is new to politics, that experience is invaluable to solving the problems in the US government – many of which the country has not faced in its history.
  • TX Senator Ted Cruz has been criticized in Iowa for wanting to eliminate subsidies for ethanol fuels (derived from Iowa corn).  He was able to expand beyond the typical soundbite to explain that he favors eliminating government subsidies for all energy sources.  That’s great:  cut government spending and let the market determine winners and losers.  Cruz also said he wants to eliminate a ban on certain types of ethanol fuels; that would actually expand the market for ethanol, increasing profits to Iowa corn and ethanol businesses.
  • Cruz’s bad moment came when he kept pressing moderator Chris Wallace for a rebuttal because his name was mentioned in the question Wallace asked another candidate.  Wallace had to explain twice that a candidate gets rebuttal time if another candidate mentions them, not if the moderator does.
  • NJ Governor Chris Christie brought up a good point which stopped the bickering between Cruz and FL Senator Marco Rubio, and also defended both candidates in a way.  They had been accusing each other of flip-flopping in their views on immigration solutions.  Christie pointed out that it’s legal for someone to change their mind on policy issues.  That is something voters should remember; if a candidate never moderates any opinions regardless of the facts, they are not flexible enough to work with both parties to get the work of governing accomplished.

Although I feel KY Senator Rand Paul has no chance to earn the GOP nomination, it was good to hear his views on the issues.  He has not gotten a lot of air time previously, either because he had to spend his tiny amount of time defending against insults from Donald Trump or because he was in the “undercard” group for one debate.  Paul brought up good points on issues, especially US intelligence gathering, that made for interesting exchanges of ideas between candidates.

This was election campaigning and debate as it should be.  Trump has made the campaign a spectacle with little substance.  He has benefited personally from all the hoop-la, but the country is worse off.


Posted by: SWL | January 28, 2016

Glad Trump Won’t Go To Debate

Mr. Trump, please stay away from the debate tonight!

I’m tired of Donald Trump bullying his way to being the center of attention.  It will be great to have a debate about important issues, rather than side issues brought up because of crazy remarks made by Trump.

This latest thing with the debate was so childish on both sides.  But Trump started it.  He didn’t need to rehash the complaints he had concerning the very first Republican debate, when Megyn Kelly asked about Trump’s use of insults when referring to women.  It was a legitimate question, given Trump’s long record of calling women names.  Regardless, that was month’s ago (although to campaign watchers it might seem like years).

FOX News’ Twitter response was silly, but witty – just not appropriate for a business.  Making fun of Trump for asking his Twitter followers if he should attend the debate is not professional.

But Trump should not have been so quick to call them on that.  When fellow candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, suggested he and Trump have a one-on-one debate, Trump Tweeted, “Can we have it in Canada?”  (referring to Cruz’ place of birth to American citizens, and continuing Trump’s recurring effort to plant doubt about his closest competitor).  Was that any more grown-up or professional than the FOX News Tweet?

This shows why Trump would make a terrible president:  he insults and makes fun of anyone who doesn’t agree with him, but cannot take the least bit of the same coming back to him.  That kind of unstable temperament would be a huge disadvantage for the president of the world’s biggest economic and military power in dealing with the US Congress or the heads of other nations.

Posted by: SWL | November 11, 2015

Honor Our Veterans Today

I want to send out a big thank-you to all living veterans of the US military for your service to our country. The time you spent in the armed forces is time you will never get back. But that sacrifice has kept our country free from foreign invasion, a blessing few countries in the world have known.

I also want to thank families that have lived for years or decades without a loved one who died in the line of duty. And last, but not least, I thank – and pray for – families who are caring for a veteran injured while in the service. These people are sacrificing and serving every day. May God bless your families!

Sunday the San Francisco 49ers squeaked out a one point win over the Atlanta Falcons with Blaine Gabbert as starting QB. After almost every Niners’ play, FOX commentators talked about how Gabbert did better than QB Colin Kaepernick has done so far this season. As a Kaepernick fan, I’m biased, but sports commentators and writers are getting a bit too excited – it was only a one point win.

Kap has not been playing well this season. Since he’s not the type to speak badly of the team or coaches, it’s been difficult to say just what the problem is. But many northern Nevada sportscasters and writers, who know Kap better than the national media after following his University of Nevada-Reno career, are saying that they think Kaepernick is being made the scapegoat for all the team’s problems.

I have to question the judgement of those making roster choices. Besides benching Kaepernick, they traded Vernon Davis for 6th and 7th round draft picks. Practically giving away an asset like Davis seems like a stupid move. Maybe money was the issue, with Davis near the end of his contract. But if financial considerations drive roster decisions, the 49ers are doomed to have losing seasons.

I think the sports media needs to hold off a few more weeks before saying Kaepernick is washed up. Gabbert has not proven himself in one game.

In last night’s GOP debate, Carly Fiorina spoke twice about companies merging to have more clout with the government. This morning CNBC was reporting that drug manufacturers Pfizer and Allergan are in friendly merger talks. If this deal comes to pass, the combined company would be the world’s largest pharmaceutical company.

With the recent focus on drug costs, this move makes sense. With increased complaints about the consumer costs of medicines, the federal government will likely seek more control over drug manufacturers. The larger the drug company, the more power they could have to influence the legislative process in their favor. This is exactly what Fiorina meant when she talked about crony capitalism in government.

You can’t blame businesses for doing what is best for their bottom line. They are in business to make money for their owners/shareholders. But they wouldn’t need to look for protective strategies like mergers if the government did not continually look for ways to regulate (i.e. interfere with) business practices.

What was the Republican House of Representatives thinking???!!! They passed a spending bill that included approval of unlimited increases in the US debt ceiling until March 2017 (two months after the next president is inaugurated). Congress is the branch of US government tasked with approving federal spending – this bill removes the oversight power Congress has over the executive branch. The administration has been given a blank check.

Governing is a compromise between various needs, various political interests. But compromise means both (or multiple) factions receive something in return for giving up something. This deal gives the administration/Democrats basically everything they want (or will decide they want in the next year) while giving almost nothing in return.

The measure still needs Senate approval. The Republicans have a smaller majority in the Senate, so passage is virtually assured. Sen. Rand Paul says he will filibuster, i.e. spend lots of time talking against the bill, threatening to push the vote until the early hours of the morning. It’s good to see someone with the courage to stand (literally) for what they believe, even if there is little chance of winning anyone over to their point of view.

A filibuster also gives constituents time to make their opinions known. If you think unlimited debt increases are a danger to the country, please contact your Senator immediately!

Posted by: SWL | October 4, 2015

NFL 2015-16: Family Rivalry Weekend at My House

Packers vs 49ers

Love can survive football rivalry

Today was the game of the season I look forward to but also dread: the family rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. My 49ers have come out on top in the last few meetings, but the way they’ve been playing this season, I was pretty sure my spouse would be the happy one at the end of today’s game. And SF lived down to my expectations, leaving me as the one to be the butt of jokes until next season.

Things didn’t go too badly in the first half. I was impressed by the Niners’ defensive performance against Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense. The defense looked so much stronger than they had in last week’s loss to the AZ Cardinals. But, although looking better than last week, SF QB Colin Kaepernick still struggled. While both the offense and defense could share the blame last Sunday, today the problems rested squarely in the offense.

The second half was even worse. I quit counting after Kaepernick was sacked for the sixth time. I suppose that was better than 4 interceptions at AZ, but that’s just comparing negatives.

Kaepernick just doesn’t look himself this season. I would have thought off-season work with the legendary Kurt Warner could only improve Kap’s game, but maybe he’s trying too hard to change some aspect of his style. Could it be the change in head coach? Maybe Kap has had difficulty adapting to the changes in the offensive starting line-up this year, or maybe the strength in offense last year hid some of Kap’s flaws. I hope Colin can work through whatever is hindering him – not just so the Niners can win some games, but for the sake of his career.

Sun-DevilArizona State coach Todd Graham did a phenomenal job of improving his team’s performance during the past week and pumping them up for last night’s game against UCLA. The difference between this game and the previous one against USC was so stunning that it seemed like a sci-fi movie where the Sun Devil players were possessed by football playing aliens!

ASU QB Mike Bercovici had a great night, including a beautiful 34-yard TD run.

For me, the highlight of the game came near the end, when Kalen Ballage refused to let UCLA defenders take him down, carrying them (and a few fellow Devils pushing from behind) about 20 yards into the endzone. Quite a feat of strength!

Last week I said it would be a gargantuan effort to turn the ASU team around. Graham did it in a week. I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Also, congrats to my daughter’s alma mater, the University of Florida, for their upset of no. 3 Ole Miss!

I understand President Obama’s frustration over another senseless mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Terrible . . horrific . . tragic . . . no words can really describe the deep sadness over the loss of life, over a person hurting enough to commit this crime.

But Mr. Obama should not politicize the event by calling for more gun control. Why not? Because it won’t work.

The president, in his news conference a few hours after the Oregon shooting, said the US has more of these crimes than any other developed nation. That depends on how you skew the statistics. I haven’t done the math, but since we have a larger population than almost all the countries he compares us to, we are going to have more total crimes. But we may not have the highest rate as a percentage of population.

Mr. Obama called for “common sense gun laws”. We already have those, so more laws would have to be restrictions/prohibition on the ownership of guns for some or all citizens.

There are many ways to kill and many ways to obtain a gun even if one cannot purchase the weapon legally. The Newtown, Connecticut shooter used his mother’s guns. In Reno a decade or more ago, a woman was convicted of deliberately mowing down people on a downtown sidewalk with her car. The Boston Marathon massacre was committed with homemade bombs. People bent on revenge or with mental illness can be amazingly creative, although that isn’t even necessary. Television crime show plots have more and more bizarre methods of committing murders. The internet has instructions for making bombs.

None the less, I would listen to President Obama’s arguments if he could give a rational explanation as to why the city of Chicago (with extremely strict gun laws) has the 13th highest murder/manslaughter rate of cities over 100,000 population — and more importantly, why he thinks similar laws would work any better nationally.

I was already feeling down from my alma mater’s loss Saturday night. Today as I put on my vintage Snoopy Joe Cool 49ers jersey, I was hoping for some snappy passes from QB Colin Kaepernick as San Francisco visited the Arizona Cardinals.

Is there something in the air in the Valley of the Sun this weekend??!!! This game looked like a repeat of last night’s Arizona State loss to USC, only this time the visitors lost. I thought it was a bit eerie: the same rash of interceptions and a defense that looked like it came straight from high school!

Since this 49ers game looked a lot like last week’s, I’m afraid the NFL season will be as depressing for me as the college season.

ASU & Arizona joined the PAC-10 in 1978

ASU & Arizona joined the PAC-10 in 1978

I’ve been following Arizona State football since the 1970s. Rarely have I seen a Sun Devil performance as poor as last night’s against USC. (It was certainly nothing like the 1978, 20-7 win over the Trojans during ASU’s first season in the then PAC-10.)

I would not have wanted to be on the field where the temperature was 99 degrees at 7:30 in the evening. But the Sun Devils practice in those conditions every day. By the way, the game wasn’t scheduled for that late just to get TV coverage – ASU normally plays all their home games at that time. It’s always more exciting to watch a game in person, but I prefer my livingroom to the intense heat radiating off the bleachers in Sun Devil Stadium, which is more enclosed (and oven-like) now then in my days as a student.

Maybe the USC Trojans liked the dry heat in Arizona, because they had little trouble scoring points. Not that they were perfect. Late in the first half, one of the television commentators asked the other if he thought ASU was really so bad or if USU was just really good. His partner answered with the conclusion I had already come to: ASU was causing their own problems. On offense, there were numerous interceptions and an inability to score even within 10 yards of the goal. And the defense didn’t seem to know how to tackle, allowing Trojan players to get past them throughout the game.

Sparky's pitchfork

Not much to fear from the fork this season

The mistakes were in multiple areas and repeated over and over and over . . . So this was not just a bad night. Nothing is impossible with hard work. but it looks like it will take a gargantuan effort for Todd Graham and his team to come up with a winning season.

Posted by: SWL | September 17, 2015

Cowardly Federal Reserve Does Not Raise Interest Rates

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that the Federal Reserve Board did not raise interest rates at their meeting today.

Rates have been at this level (near 0%) for nine years now; it’s time to begin a gradual increase. Bond rates, 401Ks and savings accounts are all suffering, which impacts small investors, retirees and families far more than an increase would hurt big business and banks.

The low interest rates were touted to help businesses borrow money to expand during the “Great Recession”, but banks kept a tight hold on their money, preferring to hoard and/or invest themselves. And businesses generally didn’t feel they could afford to borrow money even at low interest. The low prime rate set by the Fed gave banks an excuse to lower the interest rates paid to savings accounts, even for those who in the past were considered premium customers.

My opinion is that Fed members are afraid of the political fallout if they raise rates. It wouldn’t surprise me if the current administration is putting pressure on them to keep rates low. After all, if rates increase, the interest the federal government pays on the national debt will rise. That would put a strain on the federal budget, and increase calls for decreased spending and a balanced budget – two things the Obama administration has been adamantly against.

The government should stop meddling in the national economy. Market factors might be a bit volatile in the short term as necessary corrections naturally occur. But in the long-term, the economy will settle where it belongs and growth can begin again.

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