Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Rule Five Inauguration Day Friday

Programming note:  This post was finalized and scheduled last night, as this morning I have departed early to drive west, from Denver to Silicon Valley via Las Vegas.  There I will spend the next 6-12 months helping a Valley company get their Quality Management ducks all in a row, and if I were a religious man I would add “and may God have mercy on my soul.”  There are few places on the planet where I fit in less than Californey, and the Bay Area is one of the nuttiest environs in a nutty state.

But still, as I’m fond of pointing out, they pay me to go where the work is, not where the fun is.

Moving right along:  It’s Trump Day!  At noon EST today, The Donald takes the reins of power from outgoing President Obama – the very reins he pretty much grabbed from the lamest of lame ducks some time ago.  Today’s ceremonies just make it official.  But it’s significant, as this heralds another peaceful transition of power, one that goes back to when George Washington peacefully left office in 1797, handed the reins of power over to John Adams and went back to his farm, making the world’s kings, queens, emperors and potentates let out a collective “…what the fuck?”

Note that qualifier:  “Peaceful” transition of power.  It may be technically peaceful, but it remains to be seen how peaceful the Imperial capital will be while the ceremonies take place.  Notorious dissembler and blowpig Micheal Moore has promised to lead a protest, and an unprecedented number of Democratic pols are protesting by eschewing the inaugural festivities.

One could apply the term “sore loser,” but by all means let us be generous and apply the benefit of the doubt, that they are being sincere in their convictions, no matter how misguided.

So, what shall we expect to see in this brave new world, with our unexpected, unprecedented and somewhat surreal real-estate mogul/developer/reality TV star President?  Here are some tidbits:

As I’ve been saying for a while now, it’s going to be an interesting four years – hell, it’s going to be an interesting first 100 days, traditionally that magical interval in which a new President expends a bunch of political capital to get agenda items implemented while the blush is still on the rose.

Here’s where it’s going to be different this time, True Believers; this rose has no blush.  Never did, never will.  The Donald won the GOP nomination over the objections of much of his own party, and won election (handily) in what a lot of folks, yr. obdt. included, saw as an unexpected upset.  Most of the legacy media makes little effort to conceal their contempt for The Donald, and the feeling is certainly mutual.

But if he follows through on some of his stated positions – tax rate cuts, repairing the ACA, reducing regulation, and if we can persuade him to maybe eliminate a few unnecessary Imperial agencies, we may just have a few pretty prosperous years ahead.  Cross your fingers!  It’s going to be an exciting ride.

Animal’s Daily Professional Protester News

Tomorrow’s inauguration of The Donald promises to be rancorous, with plenty of the usual suspects showing up to protest.  In recent years, one of the more common political movement descriptions  has been “astroturfing.”  Why astroturf?  It’s fake grass, of course – and the astroturfers are guilty of setting up fake grass-roots movements, using a very few, very loud people to make their case.

A comment I made the other day on this story got me to thinking, though.  Might there be a business opportunity here?  Providing protestors on demand, say, for a variety of causes?  Maybe covering both sides of an issue at the same protest?  Reproduced below is a hypothetical interview I posted at the link, between an unnamed interviewer and the protest organizer:

Interviewer:  “So, you will supply protesters on demand?”
Protest Organizer:  “Sure. As many as you like.”
I:  “For what causes?”
PO:  “Oh, any cause. Any cause at all.”
I:  “Any cause?”
PO:  “Sure. Remember that big fracas at the President’s press conference last week? All the people in the street screaming and throwing things at each other?”
I:  “Sure.”
PO:  “Mine. Those were all my people. Both sides.”
I:  “Both sides?
PO:  “Yep. Both sides.”
I:  “Don’t you have any principles at all?”
PO:  “Sure. The kind that involves cashing checks.”

Capitalism at its finest; see a need, create a business to fill it.

It seems to me that the key to success in such a venture is to be completely impartial in providing paid protestors; double your market share, as it were, at a stroke.  Personally I’d draw the line at supporting terror groups or anyone advocating violence, but other than that – go for it.  Political rally?  Supply protestors for both sides.  Animal rights kooks protesting?  Provide vegan bikini bunnies and pro-meat grower protesters alike.

Double your money, double your fun!

Is this possible business model cynical and mercenary?  You bet your sweet bippy it is.  But it might just be a viable model:  Very little overhead, a wide market, sustainable as long as political and social issues still cause tension in our country.


Animal’s Daily Genetic Diversity News

Here is an interesting bit from our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator:  So, It Has Come To This Has It?  (Original post here at Moonbattery.)  I made a comment yesterday when it posted, but it got me to thinking, so I thought I’d expand on my comment here.  Excerpt:

Barack Obama himself says that if you can dupe others into thinking you are black, then you are black:

“Well, part of my understanding of race is that it’s more of a social construct than a biological reality. And in that sense, if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.”

OK, that does it! Up is down, rain is sunshine. But I have realized something while studying the whole you are what you identify as craze. I now realize that I choose to identify as a billionaire playboy with several sports cars, mansions, vacation homes, a yacht and a muscular body that every woman longs for.

Now, look at the President’s statement above.  Let’s break it down.

Well, my understanding of race is that it’s more of a social construct than a biological reality.”  In this President Obama is correct.  Biologically speaking, the entire concept of race is, well, horseshit.  Humans have less genetic diversity than our closest relatives, chimpanzees.  The concept of “race” is mostly a social and cultural construct; it’s almost impossible to rigorously define “race.”  Barack Obama claims to be the first “African-American” President, but he is the child of a white American woman and a half-black, half-Arabic Kenyan father.  He has none of the cultural markers than define “African-American” as it is generally used, to denote a member of some nebulous group defined more or less by having some ancestor that was a slave in the United States.

So, yes, horseshit.  Which brings us to the second statement in his comment:  “And in that sense, if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.

I could claim to be perceived (or even sillier, the modern concept of “self-identifying”) as a ham sandwich, but that wouldn’t make it true.

There are objective realities in the world.  The science of genetics pretty much obliterates, as a scientific model, the whole concept of “race” as applied to humans.  There is only one species of human alive on the planet today, H. sapiens sapiens, and we meet the definition of a species in every aspect.

As I said over at The Daley Gator, there is only one race.  It’s the human race, and every person alive on the planet is a member.

Rule Five Buhbye 2016 Friday

Shall we talk about the year just past?  2016 was many things, but boring wasn’t among them.

The big story – nay, the yuuuuge story of the year, of course, was The Donald’s surprising and unexpected election victory, handily beating out Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I for the keys to the Imperial Mansion.  And I use the term ‘unexpected’ advisedly, as I went to my rack the evening of Election Day expecting (sadly) to wake to the news of the Dowager Empress’s coronation.  Instead, I woke to the news of a Trump victory.

The reasons for that victory?  Well, there’s been a lot of speculation about that, but I think there are a few that stand out:

  1. Trump knew exactly what he was doing.  He knew his target audience and, in the manner of a master showman, knew precisely how to appeal to them.  Thus the shellacking he gave Her Imperial Majesty in some traditionally blue Rust Belt states.
  2. Her Majesty ran a perfectly awful campaign.  She couldn’t be bothered to even appear in several of the aforementioned Rust Belt states; when and where she did appear, she had a hard time amassing more than a few dozen followers – while The Donald was holding rallies with crowds of thousands.  She had all the charisma and personal appeal of a stuffed iguana.
  3. Even though the legacy media was completely in the tank for the Dowager Empress, the touchy-feely coverage wasn’t enough to cover up the fact that the Democrats put forth the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figures since Nero.  The Donald had some creepy moments, but when creep was placed alongside crook, the American people chose creep.

Still – the election may have been the big political story of the year, but it wasn’t the only one.  2016’s other big hits included:

  1. The Democratic Party’s doubling down on stupid.  After historic losses at the State and Federal level, the Democrats have complete control of only four states; the GOP holds all or part of the State governments in the remaining forty-six states, as well as (starting in January) both the Legislative and Executive branches of government.  And still, House Democrats re-install the nearly-fossilized Nancy Pelosi as House Minority leader, and vow to continue the drift to the left that has made them a regional minority party.
  2. Europe’s descent into a new Dark Age.  It hasn’t happened yet, but Europe is well on its way to becoming a Muslim caliphate.  2016 began with the rapes and assaults on German women in Cologne, and ended with a jihadi nutbar driving a truck through a crowded Christkindlmarkt in Berlin.  Angela Merkel has promised to double down on stupid as well, insisting that Germany will continue to accept thousands of Middle Eastern refugees without exception.
  3. North Korea, that failed Stalinist state run by a stunted little gargoyle with bad hair from a long line of stunted little gargoyles with bad hair, launched a rocket into space – technology that could double as an intercontinental missile, one that may even be able to carry one of the paranoid, isolationist country’s nukes.
  4. Brexit!  The people of the UK vote to leave the European Union, in a vote that was the most surprising of the year – until November 8th, when The Donald handily trounced Her Imperial Majesty.

It was a bad year for celebrities, as the year started with the death of Alan Rickman in January and concluded with the death of Carrie Fisher only last Tuesday.  But it was a good year for the American folk music scene, with America’s Songwriter Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature – a prize he couldn’t be bothered to accept or even acknowledge.

It was an interesting year, this year just past, yr. obdt’s fifty-fifth on this little blue orb.  What can we expect, I wonder, from 2017?  Some things to watch:

  1. The Donald’s remake of the American judiciary.  He has one Supreme Court vacancy and a hundred or more Imperial judges to appoint.  His Supreme Court pick is expected to replace the departed Antonin Scalia as a reliable Constitutionalist voice on the Court, and one presumes his picks for lower courts will be as well.  A Trump Presidency is going to be different in many ways, but his impact on the judiciary may be more influential, more far-reaching and with longer effect than anything else he does.
  2. More AI, more robots, more self-driving cars and trucks.  Technology is increasing at an ever-faster pace.  We are now in the third great revolution of Western civilization; there was the Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and now the Technological Revolution.  It’s going to change everything.
  3. More jihadi nutcases.  Even as the world continues with the Tech Revolution, there are dark forces that seek to drag us back into the 11th century.  Look for this clash of civilizations to continue as the West begins to look to leaders with some spine to resist the jihadis.

So, join me in welcoming 2017.  Like its predecessor, I suspect it will be anything but dull.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

First up, thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Second, all of us here at the Casa de Animal hope all you True Believers had a great Christmas.

A short post today with naught but some musings, as:

1) Today is a day off for much of the country, as Christmas this year fell on a Sunday.  This leads to a slow news day.  And,

b) I’m still on the post-Christmas lag and feeling a bit lazy.

So, what’s 2017 looking like?  Well, for me, it will probably be more travel, as usual.  Possibilities include Japan (again); California, in the Bay Area to be specific; North Carolina, and maybe northern Indiana.

Of the lot, I’d have to say I’d like North Carolina best, but with two daughters still in college, these days I jump with the first gig to offer me a contract.

What’s 2017 looking like for America?  Well, on January 20th, we get a new President; The Donald has been busy putting together a sort of League of Champions to work in his administration.  There has been some whining from the Left and from the professional bureaucracy about all the “rich people” Trump is bringing in; one wonders how a retinue of failures would somehow be preferable.

Draining the swamp is still a big priority.  The problem is it’s a big damn swamp, and will take lots of draining.

It’s going to be an interesting year.

Rule Five Thoughts on Japan Friday

There’s a lot to be said about Japan.

Just now, about to end my third project in that country – albeit a short one – I’m inclined to share some of my thoughts of a place I’ve grown rather fond of.

I like Japan.  I like the food, the folks, the scenery.  I enjoy the porcelain beauty of so many young Japanese women and I enjoy the strong undercurrent of politeness and consideration that pervades the culture.

I’ve had some memorable adventures in Japan.  It’s a place where you can walk down a dark side street on a Friday night with little or no worries, a few neighborhoods in Tokyo excepted.  Some of my best adventures in Japan have started in just this way; some aimless wanderings in a new town that led to a great little local watering hole or restaurant.  One of these, some years back, was Koharu – “Spring Nights” in English.  Koharu is a little bar in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, that in 2009 was run by three ladies (I’m guessing) in their early to mid 60s.  My friend Paul and I hung out there a lot, and the Mama-sans loved us.

On this trip Paul and I wandered up a little side street in a Tokyo suburb called Fusse and discovered a little local ramen shop, where I enjoyed some of the best ramen I’ve ever laid jaws on.

With all that said, though; I could never live in Japan.  I’m too deeply and irretrievable American, a red-state American at that, to willfully put up with a lot of things Japanese folks take for granted.  Now the Japanese people have the right to choose the government that suits them; they have done so, and I would be the last to say they should change that to suit the whims of Americans, just as I would be the last to say Americans should change our way of life to suit anyone from another country.  But the Japanese culture and still rather unquestioning acceptance of authority has led to some policies that I could not and would not abide.  Among them:

  • No protection against unreasonable search and seizure. I am told the police can legally enter any Japanese home once per year with no cause, no warning, no nothing, just to have a look around; no warrant needed.  In my own Colorado, even were it a police officer trying to force his way into my home, had he no warrant I would have the legal right to part his hair with a shotgun.  Which brings us to:
  • Refusal of the right of armed self-defense. This is not and has not been an issue in Japan, not the least of reasons is their crime rate, which in most places is so low as to be nearly non-existent.  But Japan is a culturally and racially homogenous society, and what’s more a culture that places great value on conformity, on respect for authority, on blending in.  The United States is very different.  America was born in armed rebellion, the exact opposite of respect for authority; Americans today are fractious, rebellious and quarrelsome.  As evidence witness our recently concluded Presidential campaign and its aftermath.  Americans, by and large, favor our right to armed defense, a right defined in the Constitution by men who had just led a citizen’s army to defeat the world’s dominant superpower of the day.

There’s a lot to be said about Japan.  But it’s a very non-libertarian society.  I like the place and would gladly return to visit, or to work, for a while.

But live in Japan?  No.  I’ll take Colorado and, in a few more years, Alaska.

Rule Five Darwin Award Friday

2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-1Ever seen anyone doing anything stupid while posing for a selfie?  You’re not alone, and some folks manage to kill themselves in the process.  But now there are folks trying to help prevent that.  Excerpt:

Now a team of computer experts has analyzed the causes of selfie deaths and they think they have a solution: an app that would warn people they are in a death-by-selfie zone.

“We found that most common reason of selfie death was height-related. 2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-2These involve people falling off buildings or mountains while trying to take dangerous selfies,” Hemank Lamba of Carnegie Mellon University, Ponnurangam Kumaraguru of the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology and colleagues wrote in their report, which was published online at the open-access site arXiv.

Drowning and being hit by trains run a close second, the team found.

Kumaraguru, who studied computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said he and the team noticed news reports about the trend and decided to try to use data mining techniques to do something about it.

2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-3“It is important because people are losing their lives because of taking dangerous selfies,” Kumaraguru told NBC News.

Now, think on that for a moment; I’m all in favor of humanitarian instincts and all that jazz, but none other than Robert Heinlein once pointed out that the real cure for hemophilia was to let hemophiliacs bleed to death before they bred more hemophiliacs.

Could we – should we – apply the same logic to would-be Darwin award winners like selfie-taking idiots?

Personally I’ve never understood the compulsion some people have 2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-4to continually photograph their own grinning mugs.  Recently when Mrs. Animal and I were mooching around the Sustina river valley north of Anchorage in some of Alaska’s more scenic country, I encountered three Millennial-looking kids posed on the edge of the river with a range of gorgeous mountains in the distance.  They were, of course, taking pictures of themselves.

But back to the point at hand.  It’s a standard tenet of the modern neo-Darwinian synthesis in biology that, on balance, individuals in a population that have greater fitness to withstand the rigors of their 2016_11_25_rule-five-friday-5environment have greater reproductive success.  That’s what leads to evolution – genetic variation, genetic drift, random mutation and differential reproductive success.  Is it the worst thing for the human species to lower the reproductive odds of someone that is stupid enough to try to snap a selfie at the edge of a raging, flooded river, or while driving on a winding mountain road?



2016 Election Reaction

Smiling BearBefore I get into this, thanks again to The Other McCain and The Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Last night loyal sidekick Rat and I were enjoying our last night in the annual elk hunt, and so were not able to follow the election results, but I was able to check in on the results this morning as we made our way back to Denver.  My reaction:


Here are some key takeaways from this election and its stunning outcome:

  1. The pollsters were caught completely wrong-footed.  So was I, if you read last Friday’s post.  I saw one narrow Electoral College path for The Donald, and he expanded that by a bit – he took Pennsylvania, which I saw as a long shot, and Scott Walker delivered Wisconsin, which I didn’t see coming at all.  Michigan and Arizona are still too close to call as of this writing, but Trump is ahead in both states.
  2. The Democratic Party’s swing to the left hasn’t helped them any.  They have lost big swings of the heartland, particularly the old blue-collar Truman Democrats to which The Donald successfully focused his message.
  3. The Clintons will now (hopefully) finally be out of the American political picture.  This is not a country that has or should have political dynasties; I said that when George W. Bush first ran (although I voted for him) and I said that when Jeb! ran last year.  Enough is enough.  We have finally seen the last of the Clinton peccadilloes.  Speaking of which:
  4. The shenanigans pulled by the DNC to squeeze Bernie Sanders out of the race may have contributed more to Her Imperial Majesty’s loss than anyone thinks.  I have a sample size of one by personal account, a left-leaning friend of loyal sidekick Rat’s who voted for Jill Stein out of disgust with the machinations of the DNC.  The Dowager Empress didn’t get as big a share of the Millennial vote as expected, and it’s reasonable to think this is one of the reasons for that.
  5. The Supreme Court will not now shift sharply to the left.  The Donald has already submitted his list of candidates, and most of them are ideologically aligned with the departed Antonin Scalia.  The Court will now remain stable.
  6. Trump is a symptom of a larger issue; the American people in general are sick and tired of business-as-usual politics.  We have put a loud, brash, rude New York businessman into the Imperial Mansion, a man who ran on a “drain the swamp” campaign.  This reaction began in 2008 with the Tea Party, who asked nicely for changes (and whose purpose was co-opted by a number of other groups) and then The Donald and his supporters have demanded changes.  If Trump can’t deliver, who knows what the next reaction will be?

Confused BearI’ve been watching elections since 1976.  I follow elections the way a lot of folks follow sports, and I only get a Super Bowl ever four years.  In all candor I’m pretty good at calling election results, but this one blew me away.  I honestly didn’t see The Donald winning.  But win he has, the honestly gracious victory and concession speeches of both candidates are behind us.

Now, to see what The Donald does with this win.  He has at least two years with a GOP-controlled House and Senate.  He can take the ball and run with it.

It’s going to be an interesting time ahead.

Rule Five Traveling Life Friday

2016_10_28_rule-five-friday-1My New England adventure ends just a few short hours from now, when I will board a United 737-900 at Logan International Airport to fly the Friendly Skies to Denver.  Now, in my line of work, it’s very likely I’ll be back.  There are (somewhat amazingly) still a lot of medical device and pharmaceutical companies headquartered here in Taxachusetts, and quite a bit of manufacturing still takes place here.  My business takes me both into corporate HQs and into manufacturing sites, although I admit I prefer the latter; I like being in places where people are making things.

But that’s neither here nor there at the moment.  Here are some of the highlights (non-work) of this venture.

Cape Cod.  This is a fascinating little corner of New England.  It’s a long, skinny and wealthy peninsula, a former stronghold of the Kennedys (Massachusetts’ royal family) but now, in the autumn of 2016, this state’s main displayer of Trump yard signs.  I found that rather surprising but a couple of Cape Cod locals assured me that 2016_10_28_rule-five-friday-2they weren’t surprised.  But that wasn’t what impressed me about the Cape; what did was the great beaches, the fascinating coastal woodlands, and the fascinating old New England architecture in some of the older towns.  If you’re in the area it’s worth a visit.

New Bedford.  A historic old whaling town on the southern coast, New Bedford is home to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, with exhibits not only on the whaling trade and the ships and men that worked that trade, but also on the town and its people during the heyday of the New England whaling industry.  Unless you have something against clean-burning lamp oil, it’s an interesting stop.  And the town itself is charming.  I ate lunch in a local watering hole with a great view of the harbor, chatted with some of the local folks, and enjoyed a great plate of haddock and chips.

The Springfield Armory National Historic Site and Museum.  If you are, like yr. obdt., a gun aficionado, this is a must-see.  Just prior to the United States’ entry into WWII, Franklin Roosevelt stated that America would be the “arsenal of democracy,” and this site is the primary producer of that arsenal.  Form 1794 to 1968 the Armory produced everything from flintlock muskets to M-60 machine guns.  The museum is full of interesting old guns, not just those produced there but also service weapons of our enemies and allies.  There are 2016_10_28_rule-five-friday-3also many one-offs; prototypes, experimental weapons and much more.  Fascinating.

The Boston Common.  This is a great place to visit on a sunny Saturday afternoon, especially if you (like me) like mingling with the local folks.  It’s a happy place, grassy and beautiful, usually full of families and young folks enjoying the day.  Add to that the thought I had there that I may have been standing on a spot where Sam Adams once stood, and that makes it even neater.  Speaking of…

The Granary Burying Ground.  Sam Adams, John Hancock and Robert Paine are buried here.  I’m not normally big on grave markers, but these are heroes of our Revolution, and it’s interesting to wander around a bit and look at some of the dates on the markers; everyone there were more or less contemporaries of the Founding Fathers.  It’s interesting to contemplate what these folks saw during their lives.

The North End, including Boston’s own Little Italy.  Wandering this area one afternoon I encountered three good fellas (get it?  Heh) who could have walked right out of The Sopranos.  I suppose I stood out a bit even in this tourist-heavy area of Boston, as I was in jeans jacket and my usual big white gus-crown cowboy hat.  I stopped and chatted with them a while.  One of them said, “Yo,” (he really said that) “you look just like…”  He snapped his fingers.  “I can’t think of the name.”

2016_10_28_rule-five-friday-4“John Wayne,” I suggested.

“Nah,” he replied.  “You ain’t dat good lookin’.  Dat guy who plays da fiddle!”

“Charlie Daniels?”

“Yeah!  Dat’s it!”

I chose to take that as a compliment.

The North End is loaded not only with great Italian restaurants but also with some wonderful dive bars; Durty Nelly’s is my personal favorite, but there are some lovely Irish pubs around the Boston Common Market.

Kittery, Maine.  Only a short drive north of the Boston metro area lies this small town immortalized as the hometown of the fictional Admiral Rockwell Torrey in James E. Basset’s WWII novel Harm’s 2016_10_28_rule-five-friday-5Way.  Torrey was, incidentally, played by the aforementioned John Wayne in Otto Preminger’s movie based on the book.  Kittery is a lovely little town with a lovely little public beach framed by overhanging granite cliffs; a tad touristy but not obnoxiously so.

I can’t abide New England politics; Massachusetts is a deep-blue state where I could never live permanently, even though I’ve had a couple of very lucrative job offers in the area.  I’m a red-state American who is finding even our own beloved Colorado a tad uncomfortable (and look for some posts from Anchorage in a couple of weeks).  But in the course of my gypsy-like wanderings I try to eschew local politics and see everything I can see.  Boston is fascinating in a lot of ways, not only the wealth of American history but also the folks, the food, the sights, and not least of all the great fall colors that are just now ending.

I’m glad to have had the chance to explore the area.


Animal’s Rule Five Debate Recap News

2016_10_19_debate-totty-1We’re all getting tired of this freak show of an election, I think; so while taking notes last night, I decided that I would forgo my usual images of emoting ursines in accompanying last night’s notes.  (I identify with bears; like them, I enjoy scratching my back on trees, roaring, eating and I sleep a lot in the winter)  Instead, I placed some strategically-placed Rule Five totty in the midst of my debate notes.

Going into the debate:  The Donald needed a miracle to overcome Her Imperial Majesty’s growing lead in the polls.  The conversation on the various news networks covering the debate focused on that and how he could achieve such a miracle.  So did he?  My notes on the debate follow.

2016_10_19_debate-totty-2The Donald started things off with a live Facebook video feed.  I long ago eschewed Facebook, as it has the worst noise-to-signal ratio on the internet except for YouTube comments, and yet – and yet – events like this caused me to register a phony Facebook account to monitor them.  So I watched.   What I saw was a couple of Trump surrogates complaining about media bias; a valid point, but not one that’s going to sway many undecided voters.  A few guests provided commentary, most notably Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and General Michael Flynn.  Ivanka appeared in a recorded message seeking donations.  All in all, fairly pedestrian pre-debate chatter.

Chris Wallace sets the stage – he decided the question, neither candidate nor their campaigns know what will be asked.  And, no handshake between the candidates.  I think they have come to really detest each other.

First up:  The Supreme Court and how they should interpret the Constitution.  Her Imperial Majesty talks in platitudes:  The Court should “Corporations!  The wealthy!  Stand up on behalf of (enter your favorite special-interest group here.)  No mention of the Constitution except as regards to confirming Her Majesty’s picks.  Drink!  The Donald:  “Justice Ginsburg said something mean about me!”  Then:  The Court should uphold the 2nd Amendment a2016_10_19_debate-totty-3nd all the other Amendments – special mention to the 2nd, as it is “under attack.”  No argument there.  The Donald is calm, reasoned, talks in a measured tone about his list of judges, how they will interpret the Constitution as it was written; mentions the Founder’s intent.  Good opening.

On gun control, Her Majesty:  “I support the Second Amendment.”  Spit-take.  She goes on about loopholes that don’t exist.  She thinks it’s OK to have a gun in your home for defense, as long as it’s secured so you can’t use it.  The Donald on the 2nd Amendment:  “D.C. v. Heller was correct, a well-crafted decision, and Hillary was extremely upset about it.”  Her Highness goes on again about toddlers injuring themselves with guns, and repeats “…there is no doubt that I support the Second Amendment.”  Spit-take.  Again.  More talk about loopholes that don’t exist and “common-sense” measures that aren’t.

Trump counters with Chicago.  Good call.  “I’m proud to have the endorsement of the NRA.”  Point to The Donald.

On to abortion.  A bit surprised to see this as a debate topic, as it hasn’t been a big issue in the campaign.  Wallace asked him, “do you want to see Roe v. Wade overturned?”  He says yes, because he will put pro-life judges on the Court – and if it is, the issue will go back to the States.  Her Imperial Majesty:  “I strongly support Roe v. Wade.”  Talks about states 2016_10_19_debate-totty-4putting restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, which usually means states trying to keep taxpayers from subsidizing those treatments.  Still, this is (in my opinion) a losing issue for the GOP, especially with the sought-after Millennial vote.  I’ve got to give Her Highness this point.

Moving on to immigration.  Wallace:  “Secretary Clinton, you have offered no plan to secure the southern border.”  Trump goes first; hammers the Dowager Empress on amnesty, hammers her on crime committed by illegal immigrants, hammers on the drug trade:  “We have no country if we have no border.”  Touts his ICE endorsement, correctly mentioning that ICE has never before endorsed a candidate.  Also, The Donald did a neat lateral arabesque to attack the Obama/Clinton foreign policy failures.  Nicely done.

Her Imperial Majesty again brings up the girl she “…just met” in Las Vegas who is afraid her parents will be deported.  I’m calling bullshit; I’m guessing that girl doesn’t exist.  Her Majesty’s penchant for lying is well-documented.  But she hits him on separating families, a point that has some legs.  “I’m strongly for border security.”  Spit-take.  She goes on to repeat some platitudes.

The Donald circles around to hit Her Majesty on NAFTA (“the worst deal of any kind ever made”) and her previous support for a border wall as recently as 2008.

Great comment from fellow Colorado blogger Stephen Green, who is live-blogging the debate:  “Clinton’s at her best tellin2016_10_19_debate-totty-5g stories about actual people, which is ironic given that she hates almost every actual person.

The Donald makes clear the difference between legal and illegal immigration, which point he has not clearly made in the past.

Oooh!  Wallace hits her on a mega-buck speech where she advocated for open borders.  Trump:  “Thank you.”  Her Majesty complains that Wallace is quoting Wikileaks, blames the Russians for hacking American emails.  Note:  That doesn’t mean that the material in Wikileaks isn’t true.  The Donald:  “That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders.”  Zing.  “I don’t know Putin.  If we got along well, that would be good.  If the United States and Russia got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good.”  Agree.  “Putin has no respect for the President, no respect for her (Clinton.)”  The Dowager Empress repeats her complaint about the Russians.

The Donald:  “She doesn’t like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her every step of the way…  She has been proven to be a liar.”  Her Majesty:  “The United States has kept the peace through our alliances.”  Where?  Iraq?  Syria?  Libya?  Yemen?   Point narrowly to The Donald here; he hammered Her Highness on some good points, although she got some good slams in too.

On to the economy.  Her Imperial Majesty goes on about infrastructure, clean energy, investing, raising the minimum wage… In other words, spend and regulate.  “We’re going to have the wealthy pay their fair share.”  Drink!  The Donald had a tight little smile during that last, as though she was playing into his hands.  He replies:  “Her tax plan is a disaster.”  Well, yeah.  “Why aren’t other nations paying th2016_10_19_debate-totty-6eir share in defense?”  But then he inexplicably invokes NATO – where some NATO members have long sheltered under the U.S. defense umbrella.  Touts his plans on free trade, on commerce, but offers no specifics.  Cut business taxes – a good plan, since our ridiculous tax policy is driving businesses overseas.  But he was a little unsettled on that point.

Her Imperial Majesty:  “He’s advocating for tax cuts!  OMGWTFBBQ!!!!1111!!!”  Well, yes.  That’s one of the big reasons he has the support he has.  Her Majesty:  “Investments!  Investments!”  Translation:  “Spend!  Spend!”  Wallace hits her on the similarity on her plan to President Obama’s 2008 stimulus, which was followed by years of 1-2% growth.  Her Majesty’s reply:  “Buuuuusssh!  President Obama saved the economy!  We need to spend more!”  Claims her plan won’t add a penny to the Imperial debt, which is laugh-out-loud absurd.  Wallace to Trump:  “Even some conservative analysts say your plan won’t achieve what you claim.”  The Donald:  “India is growing at 8%.  China is growing at 7%.  We are growing at 1%.  We have an anemic jobs report.”  Zing.  Repeats his usual points on trade and the loss of American manufacturing.  These are his strongest points in this campaign, and he hit them well.  Point to The Donald.

2016_10_19_debate-totty-7Her Majesty slams Trump for using Chinese steel in building.  “You made it impossible for me to do otherwise.”  Slams Her Majesty for being in the Imperial City for thirty years and achieving little or nothing.  Her Majesty deflects by touting fluff work she did as First Lady?  Really?

On to fitness to be President; Chris Wallace (who, by the way, has been tough but fair to both candidates” asks The Donald about his behavior with women.  He deflects, blaming the Clinton campaign and invoking the Project Veritas tapes of Clinton campaign staffers provoking violence at Trump rallies.  Good pivot.

Her Imperial Majesty says in effect, “All women should be believed when they allege sexual assault, unless they are accusing my husband.”

This is The Donald’s weakest point, and one of the biggest reasons he’s struggling in the polls right now is because a plurality, if not a majority, of American women don’t want to vote for him because of 2016_10_19_debate-totty-8these allegations.   He could have done a better job of deflecting, but honestly he doesn’t have a lot to work with.  Point to Her Imperial Majesty in that round.

Her Imperial Majesty:  “He applauds pulling, pushing and violence at his rallies.”  The Donald:  “Amazing that she talks about that, since her campaign caused the violence.”  Zing.

FINALLY, a debate moderator hits Her Majesty on the Clinton Foundation, pointing out that contractors for rebuilding in Haiti were selected from Clinton Foundation donors.  “I’m so proud of the Clinton Foundation!”  Uh huh.  Wallace:  “You didn’t answer the question.”  Trump:  “It’s a criminal enterprise.”  Observes that the Foundation took money from people who push gays off buildings and brutally suppress women – which is true.  Points out that Haitians hate the Clintons, which jives with what I was told by a Haitian Uber driver a few weeks back.  That’s a sample size of one, but still.  Good pivots and counter-punches by The Donald.

Her Imperial Majesty:  “He has not paid one penny in income taxes in years.”  If he hasn’t released his tax returns, how does she know?  The Donald:  “The tax code makes that possible.  If you don’t like it, you should have changed the law when you were a Senator.  You 2016_10_19_debate-totty-9won’t, because your donors take the same tax breaks.”  Zing.  Point to The Donald.

On the “rigged election,” The Donald claims “She shouldn’t have been allowed to run, because of her recklessness in handling secure documents.”  Good point, but then he says, when asked if he will accept the results of the election, “I’ll tell you at the time.”

Huh? That won’t play well in Paducah. My jaw dropped a little at that one.

Her Imperial Majesty cites the FBI investigation, which is now tainted by outspoken FBI agents accusing Comey of being a creature of the Clintons; that dulled her counter-attack, but not completely.  The Donald cited the Tarmac Summit, but it fell kind of flat.  Point to Her Majesty on that one.

Next:  “Will you put U.S. troops into the Middle East to fill the vacuum once ISIS is defeated?”  Her Majesty:  A flat no.  She manages a quick pivot to “if you’re on the no-fly list, you can’t buy a gun,” without explaining which other Constitutionally defined rights she favors restricting with no due process.  The Donald:  “We had Mosul.  When she (actually, President Obama) took everyone out, we lost Mosul.”  A fair point; nature abhors a vacuum, and the Middle East really, really abhors a power vacuum.  “The Obama Administration is only going after Mosul now to make her look good.”  I suspect that’s not the only reason.  Pivots to the Iran nuke deal, another strong point for The Donald; that was a catastrophically stupid deal, although the Obama Administration bears the blame for that.

Her Majesty tells people “Google Trump in Iraq.” Huh?   “We got Bin Laden!”  Funny, I didn’t know Her Imperial Majesty was ever a Navy SEAL.  “We can take Mosul and then move into Syria and take Raqqa.”  The old soldier in me wants to ask “What’s this ‘we’ shit, Kemosabe?”

Now they’re both talking over each other; for once, Her Imperial Majesty seems to have lost her temper.  The Donald on the Wikileaks emails2016_10_19_debate-totty-10:  “John Podesta said some horrible things about you, and boy was he right.  He said you have terrible instincts.  Bernie Sanders said you have bad judgement.  I think they are right.”  Her Imperial Majesty:  “Ask Bernie Sanders who he’s supporting for President.”  That one’s a wash.

On to Aleppo.  The Donald:  “We’re backing rebels (in Syria.)  We don’t know who they are!  We may end up with someone worse than Assad.  If she did nothing, we might be in better shape!”  Invokes the piss-poor screening of Syrian refugees – again, one of his strongest points.

Her Imperial Majesty on a no-fly zone over Syria; Wallace asks “If a Russian plane violates the no-fly zone, would you shoot it down?”  Her Highness:  “We’d have to make some deals.”  Uh huh.  Not really her strongest point.  “We’re not going to let people in to our country who isn’t vetted.”  The Donald:  “We had a cease-fire three weeks ago.  During the cease-fire, Russia took over vast swaths of land.  We are so outplayed.”  Admits she wasn’t part of that.

Final segment:  The national debt.  Wallace points out that debt is now 77% of GDP.  “Why are both of you ignoring that?”  Trump cites a message of growth, of jobs.  Again one of his better points.  “Political hacks are making deals – we don’t use our business people to make deals.”  This will play well to his base; unsure how it will appeal to any undecided voters out there.  But the pro-growth message is a good one.

Her Imperial Majesty:  “I wonder when he thought America was great.”  “I do not add a penny to the national debt.”  That doesn’t even begin to pass the giggle test.  She continues:  “Invest, invest, wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, rebuild the middle clas2016_10_19_debate-totty-11s, spend spend spend spend.”  Pure Keynesian malarkey.

Wallace points out that neither candidate addresses that entitlements are the biggest Imperial payout – by far.  Final question:  Would you make a deal to save Medicare and Social Security that would involve tax increases and service cuts?”  Trump deflects by talking about growth (somewhat valid; robust growth would increase Imperial revenues) and Obamacare.  Her Imperial Majesty:  “I will raise taxes on the wealthy.”  Again?  “We (have to) have sufficient resources.”  Meaning, more suction on everyone’s wealth from the Imperial City.  “I won’t cut benefits.”  But when she says in effect “Obamacare is good,” Trump interjects “…your husband disagrees.”  Heh.

Stephen Green again:  “Clinton says she’ll save entitlements by raising taxes on the wealthy, which is like putting an eyedropper of scotch in my glass and telling me it’s a drink.”

Both candidates are in denial on this issue.

One minute apiece for closing statements, which was not planned on.  Her Imperial Majesty largely repeats her opening platitudes.  The Donald repeats his boilerplate “Make America Great Again” and slams Her Imperial Majesty as a continuation of the Obama Administration.  No handshake between the candidates.

Summary:  The Donald probably turned in the best performance of all three debates.  Her Imperial Majesty was well rehearsed, well prepared, but in this debate, for the first time, she was a) hit on the Clinton Foundation and 2) appeared to lose her cool.  Both candidates hit their strongest positions and deflected their weakest points.

Still; Trump needed a slam-dunk in this debate, and he didn’t get it.  I’m guessing that it won’t bump him much in the polls.  His single biggest gaffe:  Refusing to state that he will accept the results of the election.  That’s going to hurt.  He scored a bunch of points, but Her Imperial Majesty just needed to show up and not actually have a seizure on the stage; he needed a big win he didn’t get.

This was not a game-changer.  Unless something dramatic and unexpected happens, Her Imperial Majesty will stay in the lead.