Thursday, April 16

Hey Kids, Let's Put on a Show!

Another NBC reporter's war story crumbles...
Knowingly, or unknowingly, it appears NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel was cast in a deadly rescue mission ... that wasn't:

NBC News on Wednesday revised its account of the 2012 kidnapping of its chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, saying it was likely that Mr. Engel and his reporting team had been abducted by a Sunni militant group, not forces affiliated with the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

In a statement posted on the NBC News website Wednesday evening, Mr. Engel said that a review of the episode — prompted by reporting from The New York Times — had led him to conclude that “the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia.” *  He also wrote that the abductors had “put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite shabiha militiamen.”
Interviews by The Times with several dozen people — including many of those involved in the search for NBC’s team, rebel fighters and activists in Syria and current and former NBC News employees — suggested that Mr. Engel’s team was almost certainly taken by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.  The group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj, who had a history of smuggling and other crimes.
NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.
NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort:
  • NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.
  • NBC had sent an Arab envoy into Syria to drive past the farm, according to three people involved in the efforts to locate Mr. Engel, and engaged in outreach to local commanders for help in obtaining the team’s release.
  • Ali Bakran, a rebel commander who assisted in the search, said in an interview that when he confronted Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj with the GPS map, “Azzo and Shukri both acknowledged having the NBC reporters.”
Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.

Abu Hassan, a local medic who is close to the rebel movement, and who was involved in seeking the team’s release, said that when the kidnappers realized that all the other rebels in the area were working to get the captives out, they decided to create a ruse to free them and blame the kidnapping on the Assad regime. 

“It was there that the play was completed,” he said, speaking of the section of road Mr. Engel and the team were freed on.

Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release “we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.” 

He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.

Mr. Engel, in his statement, said he did not have a “definitive account of what happened that night.” He acknowledged the group that freed him had ties to his captors, but said he had received conflicting information.

“We managed to reach a man, who, according to both Syrian and U.S. intelligence sources, was one of Abu Ayman’s main fund-raisers,” he wrote. “He insists that Abu Ayman’s men shot and killed two of our kidnappers.”

Mr. Engel said the kidnapping “became a sensitive issue” for Mr. Ayman. “Abu Ayman and his superiors were hoping to persuade the U.S. to provide arms to them,” he wrote. “Having American journalists taken on what was known to be his turf could block that possibility.”

In his Vanity Fair article, Mr. Engel described one of his captors lying dead. In his statement Wednesday, he acknowledged that he did not see bodies during the rescue. ...

Is it worse as a reporter to be honestly deceived, or to come back and hype your narrative, omitting inconvenient facts that contradict the righteousness of the rebel-support drama?

 (I know the answer for liability purposes;  I'm just asking about personal pride in the fact-gathering/story-telling craft, your job well done and all...)


*  I'm just a singer of simple songs.
I'm not a real political man.
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure

I could tell ya, the difference in Iraq and Iran...
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
and I remember this from when I was young...
Faith Hope and Love are some good things He gave us...
and the greatest is Love.
~ Alan Jackson.

Who Do You Love?
~ Thorogood & the Destroyers.

Tuesday, April 14

Undercover President.

I'm Lovin' It... :
Nor did the restaurant’s staff notice Mrs. Clinton, until this reporter, tipped off that she had dined there, telephoned. 
The Chipotle manager, Charles Wright, insisted at first that the tip must have been false.

But he offered to review his security-camera recordings, and quickly reversed himself. There was Mrs. Clinton, in a bright pink shirt, ordering a chicken burrito bowl — and carrying her own tray.
“The thing is, she has these dark sunglasses on,” Mr. Wright said. “She just was another lady.”
Some people in the restaurant at the time had even noticed that a man was taking pictures of Mrs. Clinton, he recalled, but no one had wondered why.
His employees, he said, were “kicking themselves right now.” Mr. Wright, 29, said that he was a Republican and was not planning to support her, but that knowing he had missed a chance to meet her “really hurts.”

Monday, April 13

Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet!

I was at the Twins home opener v. the Royals today.
OK -- define "at". How close must one be? Proximity wise...

Our 27th floor (temporary) office overlooks Target Field and Target Center, where the TimberWolves play and the Stones, I see on the electronic sign, are coming this summer. (Aside: I remember their original goodbye tour in '89, when they were shutting down Start Me Up, which is something we  -- the girls' segregated gym class for gymnastics* -- were required to do gym routines to in 8th grade, post-tour '81-82.)

Ah, public school!

But back to the story: we could see the electronic screen in the outfield, and about 1/3 of the left-field tiered sears. Fun!

The small fridge and microwave are by the wall of windows, plus my seat is two in, and as I make it a point to get up and move every hour or less, it was fun to watch people trickle in for the 3pm game...

Did they win?
I hear not.
But I won today.
It was a blue-sky day
with fluffy white clouds.

And the work continues tomorrow...

* Pure hell, but tolerable for the winter sport cycle only because we came together on Fridays for free gym, and could use the horse (pass), the bars (ditto), mats (are you kidding me?), the rhythmic gym balls, and... the tramp-o-line! Yes kids, we had a tramp at my junior high in those pre-exorbitant liability days. A gym-sized tramp, taut and smelling like gym, not one of these puny backyard models you see in every other backyard in the right neighborhoods nowadays.

If you passed up the other stations and waited your turn around, spotting, you got maybe 3-5 minutes to jump, jump, jump -- somtimes getting in 3 or 4 times...
Some kids did tricks, or flopped; I just jumped.

Too bad they don't have trampoline jumping in the Olympics.
People would be more fit for the fun of it.

(Who really wants to dance around with a weighted ball extended out in their arm anyway??)

Better Hillary Than Jeb Bush...

Mayor BigBucks says our fates are predetermined: Jeb v. Hillary.

When asked what he thought of the growing field of presidential candidates, Mr. Bloomberg was equally definite. “Hillary and Jeb are the only two who know how to make the trains run,” he said, to get people back to work.
Put me down for supporting the woman candidate over the little Papito...

Hillary knows the job, and she's up for the in-fighting in Washington.

Barack Obama wasn't.

He thought it would all be done in his name. It wasn't.

As far as the Bushes, the energy money, the Republican Bush dynasty... that doesn't work so much for people like me.

Sure, we'd all like to craft a dream candidate, but then you grow up and see the world you'll inherit and you think: those Bush boys still haven't paid for all they've broken over there; we should reward them with more?

Guess I'm not such a pushover as Mamacita Barbara...
They are not America's family.
Not the America I know...

Sunday, April 12

Sunday morning...

You sure look fine!
54 degrees in the pre-7am hours...
Clear now, but they are predicting:
perhaps some showers later today...
Bring it on!

For you can
let it rain
on my windowpane
well I got my own rainbow
Make it a great Sunday, all.
Whether the weather be fine...
or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold...
or whether the weather be hot.
Oh, we'll weather the weather,
whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

Saturday, April 11

Money Talks...

But it can't sing and dance
Sometimes it just squawks...
But if you'll pardon me
I'd like to say: We'd do okay...
Forever in blue jeans, babe

Happy Saturday.
Spring has officially sprung here in downtown Minneapolis, yesterday being the turning point when we went from quarter-sized but irregularly shaped white flakes blowing up and parallel to our 27th floor windows at around 10am, to peeling off the coats down to jackets at getting-off-the-bus time.

Today, sleeves!
I'm always amazed how that happens. One day it's still dead and winter. The next day... it's not.

I also like working weekends, and am staying over, a decision made easier by a temporary closure of the main highway cutting through St. Paul this weekend to work on a bridge overpass. Got to detour through old University Avenue, and I find it's nice being immersed -- stop and go -- in history and architecture first thing in the morning. Like checking out the Chittenden-Eastman building. (It's cooler than it looks in the picture... early-morning light and all...)

In short,
another fine Saturday.

Friday, April 10

"He Came Instead as a Peacemaker..."

“Let ‘Em Up Easy”—Lincoln in Richmond

Lincoln in Richmond (Battles & Leaders)
Lincoln in Richmond (Battles & Leaders)

The historical record doesn’t say who was more excited on April 4, 1865—150 years ago today: Tad Lincoln, celebrating his twelfth birthday that day, or his father, Abraham, who was finally entering Richmond after five springs of war. “Thank God that I have lived to see this!” Lincoln said.

The Federal breakthrough at Petersburg on the morning of April 2 had forced the Confederate withdrawal from Petersburg and Richmond. To the president, the welcome news seemed almost surreal. “It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years,” Lincoln said, “and now the nightmare is gone. I want to go to Richmond.”

Up the James River he went, accompanied by his young son and chaperoned by Admiral David Porter. Thousands of freed slaves thronged the pair, driving home the true fruits of the Federal victory. Finally, a detachment of soldiers muscled their way in and escorted the Lincolns on their walking tour.

“I should have preferred to see the President of the United States entering the subjugated stronghold of the rebels with an escort more befitting his high station,” Porter later said, “yet that would have looked as if he came as a conqueror to exult over a brave but fallen enemy. He came instead as a peacemaker, his hand extended to all who desired to take it.”

Indeed, while visiting the home of his Confederate counterpart, Jefferson Davis, someone asked Lincoln what he intended to do to Southerners now that the Confederacy had fallen. Lincoln replied that he didn’t intend to issue specific orders on that score, but he nonetheless made his wishes clear to the army: “If I were in your place, I’d let ’em up easy.”

Lincoln’s magnanimous tone proved vital in the days ahead. As Grant hunted Lee’s army to ground and forced their surrender, triggering a domino of subsequent surrenders across the South, Lincoln’s magnanimity guided surrender negotiations. This proved particularly important in the wake of Lincoln’s assassination, just days after the Appomattox surrender. “With malice toward none,” the president had said in his second inaugural address, “with charity for all.”

This vision guided Grant as he oversaw the surrenders. “I knew his goodness of heart,” Grant said of Lincoln in his memoirs, “his generosity, his yielding disposition, his desire to have everybody happy, and above all his desire to see all the people of the United States enter again upon the full privileges of citizenship with equality among all.”

Tad Lincoln spent this birthday touring the Confederate capital with his father, visiting the Confederate White House, the Virginia state capital, and Libby Prison. They eventually returned to the river and, by boat, to City Point. Such sights would make an impression on any curious twelve year old. I wonder, though, what impression their encounter with the freed slaves made on him.

“They all wanted to shake hands with Mr. Lincoln or his coat tail or even to kneel down and kiss his boots!” Porter had said of the encounter. Tad, knowing all his father had gone through over the previous four-plus years but perhaps not truly understanding it, must have had his eyes opened at least a little.

Thursday, April 9

War is Over ?

One hundred and fifty years ago today, General Lee mounted Traveller and rode away, gallantly, from Wilmer McLean's farmhouse after effectively accepting General Grant's terms of surrender.  His men were allowed to return to their farms, Lee having successfully negotiated for them to keep their horses or mules for plow work, and some say the Civil War in this country ended.

Not true, exactly.

An honest argument could be made that that Civil War didn't really end until Civil Rights legislation was enacted a century later.  Some might argue that the Civil War still continues today...

In a few days, we'll be noting the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Lincoln.  Had he lived, things perhaps would have turned out differently, letting them up easy and all...

Wednesday, April 8

“It speaks to the value of human life.”

Chris Stewart, an attorney for the victim’s family, said on Tuesday night that the incident is bigger than race.
“It goes to power itself. This was a cop who felt like he could just get away with shooting someone that many times in the back,” Mr Stewart said. “It speaks to the value of human life.”

This is why, I suspect, so many of the alternative media outlets (ie/ conservative or "law" blogs) are slow to cover the Walter Scott case this morning, while the foreign media outlets are responding to the news by running the story...

(Funny, Drudge usually eats video like this up.)

Quotes for the Day.

Sir Walter Scott:
O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive! *
and more:
A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.
The race of mankind would perish did they cease to aid each other. We cannot exist without mutual help. All therefore that need aid have a right to ask it from their fellow men; and no one who has the power of granting can refuse it without guilt.

For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.
That's what I'm talking about...

* Yet Clare's sharp questions must I shun
Must separate Constance from the nun
Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
A Palmer too! No wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye.

Tuesday, April 7

"You Can't Do That! ....."

It's a popular hockey cheer,
chanted as an opposing player is taken away to serve time in the penalty box for a cheap hit.  Here, ("oh shit!") some bystander has captured the last moments of a dead man -- very much alive on the video -- running from a Po-lice Officer, as the frightened cop fires bullet after bullet in the direction of the running man's back.  Evidence will show how many found the moving target...

Lock this "officer" up, and don't let him back out until all questions are answered.

I don't know how Police Officers, or their unions, can spin away this video, and for the sake of justice, I hope the country stops work today and chants in unison...

"You Can't Do That! ....."
"Put your hands behind your back", indeed.
“All we wanted was the truth, and through the process we’ve received the truth,” said Anthony Scott, Walter’s brother. “I don’t think that all police officers are bad cops, but there are some bad ones out there...”

Equal Protection of the Law.

The speech a president of the United States needs to be able to give, sooner rather than later:
Welcome to the United States of America. We are a nation of immigrants, a nation of opportunity. We are not a land of discrimination; we are a nation of equality under law. This is a nation where the son of a Kenyan immigrant may grow up to be president of the United States. Come to our shores and we make you this promise: We will treat you like everyone else. We will not discriminate against you based on your race, your color, your country of origin. And we will not discriminate in your favor either. Your children will be treated like our children. We will not discriminate in favor of your daughters on the basis of their race. But neither will we discriminate in favor of my daughters, Malia and Sasha, on the basis of theirs. We know that, like the marchers at Selma, you seek not special treatment but equal treatment, and that is what we promise you. You are welcome here, and we offer you a uniquely American constitutional guarantee. We promise you — our Fourteenth Amendment promises you equal protection of the law.

Monday, March 30

Men at Work.

"I'm just looking for clues
at the scene of the crime...
Life's been good to me so far."

Sunday, March 29

Bear Crossing.

Last night at dusk, I had my third bear spotting here in northern Wisconsin -- or anywhere, outside the zoos.  (The first was across the Willow River, when I was alone on the walking trail at the Nature Center in New Richmond.  The second I documented here on the blog -- bear roadkill that was photographed.  The paws/claws!  and again, it wasn't particularly big...)

Last night, I was driving home after working Saturday in the Cities, and picking up Buddy in Star Prairie.  We were heading up on Hwy. 48 toward Cumberland, maybe 5 or 8 (?) miles off of Hwy. 8 in Turtle Lake.  I have good far-sight vision, so I spotted it perhaps 50 - 80 yards away just ambling across the road.

I honk at deer -- really lay on the horn to spook them, even when they're across the road and scrambling away.  Don't hang near the roads!, it's the multi-species version of "Stay off my lawn/driveway!"

The rather small bear stopped on the trail at the side of the road.  Buddy, riding in the back, popped up with his paws propped on the window and commenced barking his little head off...

All in all, a good memory.
For us anyway.  I don't know how much the bear enjoyed the early evening, wake- up call...

50... 50... (50...) ... (Re-posted.)

I was doing longer hours on another doc review project over the Christmas holidays. So a mandatory 50 should not seem like much...

But throw in the Spring weather, Andersonville conditions (they just keep coming!), and lack of HVAC knowledge amongst the chosen team leaders (gotta keep the door shut, or the system will just keep pumping out heat; counter-intuitive, I know...), and:

I've not "front-loaded" this week. Usually, I have 22 in by now; today, it's only 7 hours and 57 minutes. (The law firm contracting out for this project requires workers take a mandatory unpaid hour for every 8 worked. Crazy.)

Still, the pay is good, and the location too.

I worked Saturday, was in Rice Lake Sunday, and docked some downtime there Monday too. Caught the bus yesterday, and didn't want to give them the full free hour to gain an extra one-half before the bus left, so I played the game others taught: leave 3 minutes before you hit 8 hours.

So today: 11, tomorrow and Friday, and the full 9(10 really, but who's counting?) Saturday from 7am to 5pm.

The HHR is proving a reliable camper; we have a gym and shower in the building; and the dog is well cared for (I hope! He walks way more with me...)

It seems a transitioning time this Spring,
the nation half climbing out of a hole, but with very little learned, it seems. The new ones, coming up (my faith in the future) and the older ones with dwindling political powers playing themselves out.

The game will change when the people change, and if there is one thing America is long overdue for, it's an attitude adjustment. Thing about change is: if often comes abruptly -- not violently, necessarily, but rarely is it the measured transference of power one envisions if there's say, an abdication or planned leave-taking.

As in Andersonville, the ones who survived were rarely the biggest, strongest and most powerful. More often, sources say, they were the raw-boned lanky boys who didn't appear to measure up to much coming in the camp. But they survived, in numbers, where the bigger men went quickly.

Wisdom perhaps told them: My time has not yet come.
Now where did we hear that before? ;-)
God bless, and make it a good week, all.

Wednesday, March 25

Nevermind the Florist...

What's going on with Michelle and her hairdresser?

Sunday, March 15

The Clintons' Infidelities Do Not Bother Me...

Does Your Conscience Bother You?
(Tell the Truth...)

Turn It Up.

Happy Sunday!

It's so beautiful here,
so warm and damp outside,
(a good rock-collecting day...),
I'de say, it would be a great day
to be born, or re-born,
(or just outside)
as the case may be.

The dog was sniffing on the river trail,
back behind the colleges here in Rice Lake.
It's where I found the small deer (antler) shed, last year. Thought I'd stepped on a rock down in the heavy brush off the side trail, which is off the walking trail itself, on a deer trail running on the ridge parallel to the water. (Buddy was getting a drink, and I'd followed him in.)

So I look down to see what my shoe had hit -- thought it might be a river rock worth checking its color (I collect for pipestone and all good-looking red-colored pieces that catch my interest; bad habit, come home with a pocketful and now have coffee cans full for that rock garden, someday... ;-)

But back to our story:
there it was, the one-inch tip of a tine, peeking out of the ground. I dug around, and found my first shed! (People go seasons actively looking for these, and often walking past.) Maybe the mud had preserved it, because with the little critters, they can get knawed at fast. It is nothing big really, sitting now on the top of my bookshelf under the decorative sign my mother gave me one year: "May the Peace of the Wilderness Be With You..." (She knows me.)

The single antler I found pales in comparison to the two -- not a matched set -- my father came across years ago in his walks in Thornton's (Ill.) forest preserves (in Cook County, in the southern suburbs).

They are 8 pointers, nice to wrap your middle-finger and thumb around, and just smoothly slide along. Big, limestone-grown tines, off of deer in a protected preserve that are allowed to age, (un?)naturally. They aren't there, the large herd, anymore, Dad tells me. The forest preserve people hunted them off, not because they were being hit by cars, but for some calculated reason, I'm sure. Native plant protection, perhaps, or some other well-intended reason.

Point is, he gifted them to me, and I didn't realize what I had, until Mal's youngest nephew was awed by their size, and I realized they were indeed large by the size of deer harvested up here. Majestic bucks. They look nice, with the new one too, sitting up on my bookshelf.

I hope you get outside today, even if you don't fill your pockets with rocks or find a decent deer shed. But if you do, well you've got a friend in Wisconsin too!


PS. I had to temporarily break my vow of hiatus; look at that calendar: it's such a balanced mid-March Day!

ADDED: Joke of the Day, courtesy President Obama at last night's Gridiron Dinner:

But for all the gaffes, all the slip-ups, I think 2016 will come down to the issues. For example, equal pay. Did you know that the average male presidential candidate earns $150,000 less per speech than a woman doing the same job? (Laughter.) It’s terrible. We got to fix that.

Wednesday, March 11

Pick 'em.

Washington has decided: President Bush III.

Sunday, March 8

R/L Windows Open...

Online Windows Close.
We're going to put the Subsumed blog on hiatus again, now that the weather has turned here and there are so many competing interests for time. (or is that, more properly, Time?)

I wish you all a healthy Spring, happy holidays, and the personal recognition of renewal that the Season of Growth brings...

(Speaking for myself,
this year especially, we have earned it! ;-)

Saturday, March 7

Life Is... a Contact Sport.

You gotta can't act untamed,
if you're gonna play the game...

Superior up
on Wausau West, 5-0 in the third period of the state championship game in Madison today.

Character Check
02/16/2015, 6:00pm CST
By Dan Bauer
Character is what you do when everyone is looking

There is a popular saying, “Character is what you do when nobody is looking”. I think character in athletics is what you do when everybody is looking.

The sports arena is linked with a captive, sometimes emotional and always biased audience. There is virtually no place to hide when you step onto the field of battle. Your ability, your emotions and every gesture of your body language is under the microscope. The pressure to perform and win is a constant companion and your character is always on display.

Hockey perhaps more than any other sports demands you possess the character to fail. The candid scoring celebrations don’t come easy in hockey, and to enjoy one you will need to fail at a rate that would a send baseball hitter to the minors, a quarterback to the practice squad and a basketball player to the end of the bench. In hockey failure is a continuous obstacle you face and persistence your constant companion. It is a training ground for life.

Is there any celebration in sports that links the scorer and the team together better than hockey? The orchestrated raising of the sticks and the unbridled clash of bodies transforming five individual players into one unified huddle is the perfect symbolism of the team concept. As they absorb one another in celebration the scorer disappears and becomes just one piece of the puzzle that together achieved the goal.

Somebody once said, when you score, act like you have been there before. Seems players now spend more time working on their “cellys” than the skills they need to actually score a goal.

As a graduate of the “College of Old School” it disturbs me to see young players so intent on calling attention to themselves and away from the team. It disappoints me to see players tugging on the front of their jerseys and skating away from teammates to parade past the hometowns fans while gyrating their bodies like a rap singer. They have learned well from the choreographed pro athletes who thirst for that attention. This “me-first” mentality is the cancer that destroys teams, yet it seems to be tolerated by many coaches. It pains me to see sportsmanship in hockey eroding away like the skills of an aging player.

A solo celebration in a team sport never made any sense to me. Whether it is eleven players, six or five it is a team effort and the successes achieved should be shared by all. The NFL and NBA violate the team first mentality more than any others and if soccer counts you can add them to the list. I had hoped that Pat Riley’s “disease of me” would miss hockey as it spread throughout the sports world.

All of those self-centered acts demonstrate a lack of respect for opponents and the game itself. I am not of the school of thought that this is just kids having fun with the game. To cut out your teammates and demonstrate a lack of respect for your opponents is a selfish agenda that contradicts everything team sports should represent. And providing your opponent with added incentive to beat you is irresponsible.

Winning or losing, character is always on stage for players, coaches and fans alike. Respect for opponents is a hallmark that should not be compromised. Today we need face-masks, neck guards and stop signs on our jerseys as we attempt to legislate respect.

Watching the emotions in the handshake line of a Stanley Cup playoff series is one of the greatest moments in sports. One team at the peak of elation and the other the depths of despair reveals the true meaning of sportsmanship in one of hockey’s finest traditions. It is a display of character that sets hockey apart from its more popular counterparts.

Controlling emotions following a game can be a difficult task. The handshake comes before any of us have time to really process the result. The emotional immaturity of young high school players often gets the best of them and can turn this tradition into tragedy.

Having stood across a poorly constructed wall from my opponents I have heard head coaches deliver profanity filled tirades designed to tear down and humiliate my team. An underdog most of my coaching career I am all too familiar with the arrogance and disrespect displayed by some favorites. Their ill-mannered handshakes and ill-advised comments rub salt into a fresh open wound.

This time honored tradition is meant to be an act of sportsmanship. Hobey Baker and Bill Masterton never intended it to be so abused.

Coaches set the tone for the character of their teams and it is displayed by their athletes. Controlling the emotions of players is a challenging and risky venture for all coaches. Ultimately players must be held accountable for their digressions. And while teaching players the skills of the game will serve them well during their playing days, it is the character that you develop that will follow them for a lifetime.

We spend a lot of money on expensive jerseys, brand name warm-ups and other superficial attempts to display class. They are simply window dressing when we then allow our actions on the athletic stage to draw attention to ourselves, disrespect our opponents or contradict the core values of sportsmanship.

Save the money and spend the time to bring the team concept and the respect for the game and opponents back into clear focus. Hockey has always been the black sheep of the sports world for different reasons. Coaches please don’t allow the narcissistic culture of other sports to find its way into our great team game.

Some traditions should never go out of style.

There has been a concentrated emphasis on the new standard of play to clean up and enforce the traditional rules of hockey. Maybe that standard should focus more on checking character than checking-from-behind. You can’t mandate character—it is developed from the inside—but displayed on the outside.

And when everyone is watching your actions speak volumes about your character.

Winter's Final Knockout Punch...

=It was negative eleven going in to work Thursday morning, -11 degrees. A full, bright, beautiful moon though, that was then rising red when I was driving home in positive 11 degree temps, 12 hours later. I like the symmetry.

And the moonlight matters, because the first part of my drive -- or the final, depending on the direction -- takes me on an unlit county road in the country, with a speed limit of 55. The cold means dry, which means more maintenance for the skin and hair, but better driving conditions, at least. (I'm counting blessings here.)

Overall, I've no complaints about this winter, but she was brutal. Cold, extreme. Everyone leaving work yesterday, everyone, looked pretty beat. It had warmed up a bit more by then, but that negative eleven, the below zero morning temps, it does affect the body, more than just the dry.

Next week: maybe in the 50s. A potential 60 degree temperature change -- what do you think that does to a body internally? I'm thinking: with the extreme cold this year, and then a warm temp with very little snow on the ground, comparatively, the melt and fade will be fast. (Hence, winter's closing blows, referenced in the headline).

Thinking ahead for driving: it will be wet fast, and will freeze up nightly. For surviving: Well, an inner tube that has contracted, and is then exposed to heat, sometimes expands and bursts its skin, even if it stays intact; barometric pressure matters, people...

I'm going to drink a lot of water next week, get out this weekend and move and breathe. Having the dog helps. I mean, I like civilization and comfort as much as the next guy, but I've never understood the negativity, or judgment even, associated with thinking of Man as an animal, primarily.


Make it a great Saturday!
Spring will soon be in the air...
Get ready, people. Get ready.

Friday, March 6

Hillary Clinton is No Angela Merkel...

and that's a good thing.

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after learning that U.S. intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying that would be "a serious breach of trust" if confirmed.

For its part, the White House denied that the U.S. is listening in on Merkel's phone calls now.

"The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges."

However, Carney did not specifically say that that U.S. had never monitored or obtained Merkel's communications.
Can we say this?
Hillary's been around the block a few times, politically, and the girl formally known as a Republican has gained some pretty good instincts -- and skinned knees -- along the way.

If she managed to keep private her Secretary of State files, in a warring world where surveillance and subterfuge are key skills, well you go Go Girl. If Angela Merkel is having her phone tapped, God bless Hillary for devising a way to communicate in private, and keep her electronic written files safe from hackers, foreign and domestic.

Does it bother me that her official email records were not archived according to protocol? No. Because her work is all there, the results out in the open. There are no secrets about what she did.

Most everyday Americans, and non-Hillary haters, know this "work v. personal email address" is a but a press-manufactured "scandal!" for those who have column inches to fill in the pre-election cycle, but heads empty of ideas of what to write about. Nothing much -- more important domestic issues, say -- going on in the country, or the world, they can see, it seems...

Instead of conducting personal business on government email, the press is outraged that Clinton performed government communications -- securely -- on a personal, private account.

Bless their Hearts!
(But where were they, when Clinton and her team was acting in real time? Nothing was hidden. Nor is it now. The results are in. Let's not pretend there's something hidden in the emails that the press is being kept from thinking, and writing, about... They simply don't have the will, nor the skill, to go deeper into details.)

Again, if Clinton was wise enough to understand the security breaches that occur, and was able to keep our country's business confidential, that gives me faith in her leadership skills in a don't-trust international world. Her political judgement needs evaluation*; her communication skills and protective defenses... not so much.


* ie/ Has she grown any since her decision to use American military might overthrow Gaddafi in Libya-- how'd that work out for US? Listen to those in the know next time?

Thursday, March 5

This One's for You, Dad.

My father is celebrating a birthday this month... an off-year number, and he's a realistic man -- when you ask on his birthday how he's doing, he'll reply -- honestly:  "Well, I'm old..."

More importantly,
he mentioned to me that this month, he is celebrating 60 years in this country, a country he both loves and is worried for the future of.  He doesn't understand how we can tolerate the growing inequity that has so many people resorting to violence and theft when there is a complete dearth of jobs in so many regions.

People need work, honest jobs...
But our priorities are out of place:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.  This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."  ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953.
 From our lips, to God's ears...
Pray for peace, people everywhere.
"Do you see what I see?
Do you hear what I hear?
Do you know what I know?"

A Tough Love Court and a Strong Press.

Tony: Don't Be a Hero, Don't Mess Around with Our Lives.

Imagine how much better a Congress we would demand, if we had both of the above -- a smart Court not afraid to be tough, and a strong, open and honest press "checking" the elected government branches...

What if... the Court declines to "save" the ACA from the limitations of its own shoddy drafting, and instructs the IRS it must enforce the tax laws as written.  Meaning, the federal-government-run exchanges in those states that declined to establish their own, are not enough to trigger the subsidies and mandates that follow in other sections of this -- can we all agree? -- poorly crafted piece of legislation.

What if -- instead of employing liberal lawyers with fancy pedigrees to absolve the sins of their poor work product, the national press stopped spinning and making excuses and read the law for what it is:  a quickie, pushed through while Democrats had the vote before Ted Kennedy's death, that has been rightly criticized as too complex to read before passage...

What if ... we all demanded better from our Congress and representatives and refused to settle for "good enough for government work" ?  Why can't we admit they are doing a crappy job -- not just this Congress, all those "serving" over the past decade?

They passed a lousy piece of law, and you need not have a Legislative Drafting law school class under your belt to understand that.

Why save the Congressional workers from themselves?  If the Court rules honestly, and declines to strike down the IRS latter-day interpretation of reading state-established and federal-established exchanges as being equally interchangeable -- despite what the language of the law clearly defines -- who really wins?

What incentive is there for Congress to do a better job tomorrow?

If the press continues to pile on the Court -- delegitimizing their work to protect the public from the fact that the Congress is definitely failing the country -- Democrats and Republicans -- how much change do you think we will see out of Washington?

Sadly, our press has pretty much been reduced to battling ideologies at this point -- Dems and Conservatives choosing up sides and pointing fingers at the other -- and cannot be trusted to do the job of neutral evaluators sharing an honest narrative.  How will that help, by passing off the blame?

The Journolist cabal pretty much assured no honest debate would occur prior to passage, since that liberal online association of newcomer 'journolists' pretty much tamped down any non-conforming criticism in their attempts to cheerlead the bill through in their respective media outlets. They simply knew better -- those male experts of all things that Ezra Klein collected -- rather than listening to the needs of everyday Americans regarding coverage.

Where is the basic, cheap, catastrophic coverage that many healthy people would choose?  Why does a person have to sign up to pay to medicate other people's children -- a moral issue with me -- and to pay for birth control options for wealthier women like Sandra Fluke?  Where is the pool that excludes choices like theirs -- which I would not choose for myself -- in order to protect society against the catastrophic medical needs that allegedly will be passed on to society when all the healthy people are honed in on by that mythical bus, out there waiting one day to strike us all?

Pretty much, for so many healthy Americans, we got less choice;  we're covering wealthier people with pre-existing conditions who before were paying for their own needs out of their own pockets, hitting their own policy deductible limits in January; and we're on the hook for costs we don't incur, don't believe are necessary, and never voluntary agreed to assume, absent any legal mandate to control costs this way, by forcing such coverage onto all. Who speaks for us?

In many ways,
our lawmakers are a lot like our medical establishment in this country:  We medicate to treat the symptoms, not the underlying diseases.  We think money will beat smart choices, and a history of strong health.  Nope...

I'd rather have my health, than a wealthy person's money and medical issues, any day of the week.  "Your health is your wealth."  Sadly, sometimes what people do to get wealthy -- and the costs today of maintaining such a civilized lifestyle -- is ultimately not a healthy choice, for them or their families.  Tradeoffs happen;  you really can't have it all while you're still mortal.  Save yourselves or understand that you will one day pay for your poisons...

My hope is, if Congress is told to go back by the Court and re-do their work or take an "incomplete" on the assignment to cure the ills of our current healthcare insurance setup, they will take the job seriously this time and stop blaming others when they fail us.

It's all on Washington's plate, and they really can't force the rest of us to eat their shit sandwich and then pick up the tab too.

Wednesday, March 4

Yah-Mo Be There. (Up and Over...)

“We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,” Netanyahu said. 
“Some of it is widely known . . . Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well-known.” 
The prime minister listed all the times he called Obama and received immediate aid, including the 2010 Carmel forest fire and the siege of the Israeli embassy in Cairo during the 2011 unrest. 
“In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there,” Netanyahu said. “And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.” 
But I know it!” he continued. “And I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.”

Choose Wisely, America.* Choose Life.

In Jer. 18:15, God tells Jeremiah that the people have stumbled in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up.

In other words there are two choices, only two paths, in which man may choose to walk. One way is the highway of holiness, the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life, and few there be that find it: this is the high road; the other path is the broad way that leads to eternal destruction, and many shall follow it: this is the low road. 

Again, two choices: a path of preparation for eternal life on the high road, the straight and narrow; or separation from God for eternity on the low road, the broad way that leads to everlasting death.
* or, Fighting Fire with Fire

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;

If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;

If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.

And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. 

Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.


Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.

Tuesday, March 3

"Don't You Remember You Told Me You Loved Me, Baby?"

No, really...  Seriously?
You don't remember!
Well... you did.
*mouse walks away*

"And when somebody loves you,
don't they always love you?"
~ Miz Whitney, who in retrospect, really shoulda stayed single...

Professional Purists.

Know the Game.  Make the Call.
Luckily, referees, like justices, don't have to read all the hype leading up to the Big Game. *nod*  Just the facts, ma'am...

It is legally and factually incorrect to describe these cases as “challenges to the ACA.” This is particularly important because the actual legal posture of these cases is far more troubling.

The plaintiffs in King are not asking the Supreme Court to block any part of the ACA. They are asking the Court to uphold the Act by blocking the IRS’s unilateral attempt to strike down the Act’s clear language.

Here’s how:  Section 1311 directs states to establish exchanges, and Section 1321 directs the federal government to establish exchanges “within” any state that fails to do so.

Section 1401 authorizes subsidies (nominally, “tax credits”) for exchange enrollees whose household income falls between 100 and 400% of the federal poverty level, who are not eligible for qualified employer coverage or other government programs, and who enroll in coverage “through an Exchange established by the State.” Each of these eligibility restrictions is as clear as the next.

The statute makes no provision for subsidies in federally established exchanges.

The mere availability of exchange subsidies triggers penalties under the ACA’s employer and individual mandates. Under the statute, then, if a state does not establish an exchange: (1) those subsidies are not available; (2) a state’s employers are exempt from the employer mandate; and (3) the lion’s share of its residents are exempt from the individual mandate.

This appears to have been the IRS’s initial interpretation of the statute, at least until something went terribly wrong.

Early drafts of the IRS’s implementing regulations reflected the statutory requirement that exchange subsidies are available only through “an Exchange established by the State.” Following sweeping Republican gains in state governments in 2010 and discussions with the White House and Treasury Department, however, the IRS changed its draft regulations in March 2011.

In August 2011, the IRS issued a proposed rule announcing it would provide tax credits (and implement the resulting penalties) in states with federal exchanges too. Treasury and IRS officials later admitted to congressional investigators they knew the statute did not authorize them to issue tax credits through federal exchanges, and that they have no records of researching the statute or its legislative history before deciding to jettison this requirement.

The proposed rule provoked immediate and sustained criticism from the public, academics, and members of Congress. The IRS nonetheless finalized its “tax-credit rule” in May 2012. The final rule cited no statutory authority for the agency’s reversal. It contained only a cursory, one-paragraph explanation claiming this rewrite was consistent with the statute’s goals. Not until October 2012, under sustained pressure from members of Congress and after the rule had been challenged in federal court, did the agency cite any supposed statutory authority.

Confounding expectations, thirty-six states refused or otherwise failed to establish exchanges. When that happened, criticism of the IRS rule turned into legal action...

Justices, like referees, need not take into account consequences of their calls on the field to the final score, and they need to block out loud jeering from the biased crowds in the home stands.

Referees, like justices, simply need to know the game --  the rulebook -- better than any of the rest of us, those trained who continually study the plays, and those who would continually manipulate the rules, always keeping one toe in bounds and arguing for legitimacy...

Jeering Loudly from the Good Seats

Today, David Leonhardt in the New York Times, reduces a legal argument to a historical comparison of Union Reconstruction / Restoration.  The pundits are spinning mightily on this one, warning of dire consequences of loss.
If the Supreme Court does the same — a big if — it will be a remarkable moment. A Republican-appointed majority of justices would do what Republican politicians have been trying, without success, to do for the last five years: Repeal much of Obamacare. And the court would be doing so only three years after upholding most of the same law.
When I asked historians if they could think of any similar undoing of an existing part of the social safety net, several said they could not. The court blocked parts of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, but never dismantled such a large program already underway. The best-known piece of health care law to be repealed by Congress — a 1988 law expanding catastrophic coverage in Medicare — was far narrower than the Affordable Care Act. It was also only starting to go into effect when Congress undid it, in 1989.
Julian Zelizer, a Princeton historian and the author of a new book on the 1960s expansion of the safety net, said the closest analogy might be Reconstruction and the reaction to it. An enormous federal effort initially succeeded in expanding civil rights in the South, only to be reversed in later years. The reversal lasted decades.
Reconstruction is obviously a charged, and imperfect, analogy. (For one thing, the people who would lose health insurance now would be predominantly white Southerners.) But the fact that no better precedent comes to mind underscores the highly unusual nature of what could happen at the Supreme Court.
Fear not, David.
The Court rules on questions of statutory construction often.
Think not of the Court undoing a progressive piece of legislation that was pushed through over the People's will.  Think of the Court merely as interpreting language as written, and letting the chips fall where they may...

This Court is not a political body.
Despite the pundits' best efforts to delegitimize the work of Justice and buy yet another branch of government to overcome Reason, and the rules.

Saturday, February 28

February... 'Git.

February... 'Git.
You came in cold.
No sooner though the door
and you dumped a load.
Dressed you up
in bold reds and blacks...
woke up the next morning,
and your Cold was back.
You spat on us daily,
watched us freeze and slip;
Gramma lost a life
when she broke a hip.
So February... 'Git.
You no damn good.
Bring on the lion... we're
fresh out of wood !

Friday, February 27

Her Eyes, They Shined Like a Diamond...

You'd Think She Was Queen O'er the Land...
And Her Hair Hung Over Her Shoulder
Tied Up with a Black Velvet Band.

Make it a Great Friday, Folks!
Winter Weekend in Sight =