A million bucks

That’s how the Ear Nose and Throat guys described my mouth today. It looks like a million bucks. This after putting the scope in and taking a look at the back of my throat where a uvula once wobbled, and after putting a couple of tongue depressors into the front of my mouth to look at its floor. They continue to find nothing which would indicate a recurrence of the 2012 problems.

I go back again in six months, which will be the 4-year anniversary of the first cancer surgery. So far so excellent.

Sure looks like conflict of interest to me

The Attorney General of the State of Michigan has just appointed a former FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office to investigate the Flint water fiasco. As far as I know, Andy Arena is a good and honest man with no connections to the Governor, the Emergency Managers who decided to switch Flint’s water source from Detroit to the Flint River, or the State Attorney General. The same can not be said of the other guy Arena is supposed to team with. Todd Flood is a former prosecutor who has made the maximum political contributions to Governor Rick Snyder’s campaigns in the past, which makes some wonder just how independent he is. Additionally, Attorney General

Schuette is charged with defending the state against legal challenges. But in this case his office — through Flood, retired Detroit FBI chief Andrew Arena and a team they assemble — will also be investigating people connected with the state and anybody involved in the Flint water crisis.

It’s no wonder some are demanding the US Department of Justice do the investigation, rather than Mr. Flood, even with Mr. Arena at his side.

The NFL calls this Championship Sunday

One out of two football games being exciting is as much as we could hope for, I guess. The Manning-Brady Bowl Episode XVII result surprised me and pointed out the importance of extra points after touchdowns. The rule change in the off-season which made the distance for PATs 33 yards rather than the 20 yards it had been for years had an obvious impact on the game, since New England’s kicker Gostkowski missed one in the first quarter, his first miss in 524 tries.

Denver had the top-rated defense in the league all season and it really showed today, sacking Brady 4 times and hurrying or hitting him about 20 more times.

So now Denver goes to Super Bowl 50, its eighth trip to the big game (it’s won just 2 of its previous 7).

The Broncos will face the Carolina Panthers, who positively embarrassed the Arizona Cardinals today 49-15. The Panthers forced seven turnovers, six by the Cardinals’ Carson Palmer (4 interceptions, two fumbles).

It will be the Panthers’ second trip to the Super Bowl; they lost in 2003 to the Patriots.

Snow Day Music

You gotta use your imagination and substitute the word “snow” for “rain” here. The song is sung by The Serendipity Singers; the record was released in 1964. The group was nominated for a Grammy for this song but lost.

Flint water and the Governor

I have been reading this story with shock tempered by schadenfreude. If ever a Governor deserved the kicks Rick Snyder of Michigan is getting right now it’s him, unless it’s his neighbor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Look at the circumstances. Flint is a city in distress, with its industry gone and its tax base diminishing right along with it. It hasn’t the money to repair its infrastructure, and its governments have been unable to lure new industry and tax dollars. So Republican Snyder decides he’ll make use of the Emergency Manager’s Act of 1988, technically Public Act 101. This manager’s powers are very broad indeed: An emergency manager can:

  • Hire/fire local government employees
  • Renegotiate, terminate, modify labor contracts with state treasury approval
  • Sell, lease, or privatize local assets with state treasury approval
  • Revise contract obligations
  • Change local budgets without local legislative approval
  • Initiate municipal bankruptcy proceedings
  • Hire support staff

An emergency manager cannot raise taxes.

In other words, he’s pretty much a dictator.

Anyway, the manager decided Flint could save money by using the Flint River as the city’s source for all its water needs, because buying water from Detroit Water and Sewerage was expensive. Bad decision, since the savings weren’t used to filter the water from the river to keep the lead pipes from corroding and contaminating the water supply. Complaints began almost immediately. Did the Governor listen? Did the state’s Department of Environmental Quality not just ignore the complaints but dismiss them out of hand? Are the politicians at the state level Republicans who worship at the small government altar?

If you answered “no, yes, yes,” you win the prize.

Our North Shore, ladies and germs

Surfers took off at Waimea Bay on Dec. 6.

Surfers took off at Waimea Bay on Dec. 6.

The photo is from December. The forecast is for waves bigger than the one shown there.

Surf is expected to rise to 35 to 45 feet today [Wednesday] for the north shores of Oahu, Maui County and Kauai County. The west shores of Oahu, Kauai County and Molokai could see up to 20 to 30 feet, weather officials said. The warning is in effect through 6 a.m. Thursday.

A high surf advisory is in effect for west shores of Hawaii island.

Forecasters said a very large north-northwest swell will bring warning-level surf of 35 to 45 feet to north-facing shores today, then lowering to 20 to 25 feet Thursday.

This happens every winter.

The Bundyites are horny

Here’s what I mean:

SHARE UPDATE BURNS OREGON! CHRISTIANS THE BATTLE TRUMPET HAS BEEN SOUNDED TIME TO RISE! CALL TO ACTION SEND IN THE TROOPS TO STAND WITH US IN BURNS OREGON!

Posted by Blaine Cooper on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Republican candidates

Here’s a nice summary from Fred Kaplan at Slate of the most notable responses from the Republican Presidential candidates to the three transactions the US concluded with Iran this week: the release of the Navy sailors, the nuclear deal and subsequent release of Iranian assets and this morning’s prisoner exchange.

It was pretty evident even to us non-experts that the candidates were idiots when they denounced the temporary detention of United States Navy sailors who’d strayed into Iran’s territorial waters. What do they think the United States Coast Guard does when another nation’s boats stray into ours?

Then some of them screeched that Iran should not be “given” the $150 billion that was part of the nuclear deal signed late last year. It seems obvious these people don’t even know that that money was and always has been Iranian and that it’s been frozen and unavailable to its government as part of the sanctions regime which got them to do the nuclear deal in the end. Nor do the candidates seem to understand that the deal included the unfreezing of those assets upon completion or destruction of certain nuclear facilities in Iran.

Finally the idiocy became completely obvious when they squalled about the prisoner exchange which brought five Americans out of Iranian custody and on their way home today. “My pushing might’ve had something to do with it,” Trump said. Here’s Kaplan:

Even by Trump standards, the egomania embedded in this remark is staggering. But it also reflects something more dangerous about not just Trump but most of the leading GOP candidates: a view that “hitting them hard” is the only way to get people to do things, and that patient diplomacy is for suckers and weaklings.

Exactly. It’s kind of scary when you learn that the leading candidates put forth by one of the two major political parties in the most powerful nation in the world are not only buffoons but dangerously stupid buffoons at that. Kaplan again:

The events of the past week reveal a few things about the Republican critique of Obama’s foreign policy. First, it is completely uninformed on substantive grounds: The jeremiads against the nuclear accord in particular reflect a deep-seated ignorance of what’s in the nuclear deal. Second, it is completely uninformed on procedural grounds: The candidates know nothing about the diplomatic back-and-forth that produced the nuclear deal, the prisoner release, or the release earlier this week of the 10 U.S. sailors who’d somehow crossed into Iranian territorial waters.

If 48-50% of Americans really think any of these people are feasible candidates for President of this country, the sane members of this society should be worried.