Friday, January 8, 2021

Creating the Narrative for the New USA.

"We have always been at war with Eurasia"

The desire to rewrite history to fit ones chosen narratives is as old as humanity itself. If you don't think the first cave dwellers weren't exaggerating the size of the animals on the cave walls they supposedly slayed you haven't been paying attention to humanity.

Today in America is no different. Media outlets and politicians are the best at this. Take, for example, the NY Times 1619 project, a tome so flawed, so fundamentally out of focus with historical reality that the publication ultimately was forced to abandon all of its central tomes and basically try and white wash its entire original purpose from existence.

It's too late though, the damage is done. Because no one notices corrections or retractions, they just focus in on the original narrative not matter how flimsy or bizarre the main idea is.

This is the problem the GOP faces right now. The choice, of some of their members, to follow the Bronzed Ego down his fever dream of #StopTheSteal they ran into the harsh light of reality displaying some (not all) of Trumps followers as 100% batshit crazy. Once they realized this, and many recanted their support, the damage was already done. The narrative set so to speak.

This could possibly diminish the GOP for a generation in America. Think California but with an unlimited budget and power to inflict harm. The belief, on this blog, was not that Donald Trump would destroy America (It takes more than the ego and bloviations of one man to topple a free society with laws and structure), but that he might all but destroy the GOP and leave the country looking at the very real possibility of facing the abyss of single-party rule.

And, to be clear about this, there is very little separating single-party, monolithic rule from pure authoritarianism. Certainly this is the case if the courts have decided to sit on the sidelines and just observe. This gives those whose goal it is to tear down the existing order pretty much a blank check to do so.

The belief here at TPM headquarters is that it will be fascinating to watch America and China spiral closer to one another (albeit from different directions) as authoritarian ruled, crony capitalist economic powers.

The media will be more than happy to keep this division alive as they will continue to focus on both the mis-deeds of Trump (even long after he is gone) and any instance where a member of the GOP might have agreed with him on anything, even something that made sense. (and, even though Trump himself was a personal disaster, not all of his policies were. It's important to separate the two) Part of the reason for this is that the media is lazy, and an even larger part of it is because the media does not particularly like the GOP.

There was a great scene is the 80's movie "Moon Over Parador" that comes to mind.

This was a harmless little Richard Dreyfus vehicle that took place in an authoritarian country that ostensibly elected it's leader through free and fair elections. The problem was the ruler of the land was on the ticket for both parties. Near the beginning of the movie two peasants are looking at two campaign posters, one with a red background, one with a blue background, both with the picture of the President on them.

"Who are you going to vote for? Red or Blue?"

"What does it matter?"

Without a meaningful, serious, opposition party the real elections are going to occur in the Democratic Primaries. Who is selected in those races will ultimately determine the direction of the country. If you don't think this is possible, look at California on the Left and Texas (for now) on the Right.

"Who are you going to vote for? Democrat or Democrat?"

"What does it matter?" 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Attack on the Holy Temple Will NOT go Unpunished.

 Yesterday was ridiculous. There is no other word for it.

If you've not paid attention, and I would not blame you if you didn't, yesterday possibly the most motley group of protestors ever 'stormed' the US Capitol with the sole intent of disrupting the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote for the 2020 US Presidential election.

It should come as no surprise that the ruling class is viewing this as a Holy War. Upon reconvening every Representative or Senator was afforded the chance to record themselves a future campaign ad where they rallied around the iron tree of Democracy and were allowed to denounce the protestors in one form or another. Many (Democrats) called for Trump to be impeached, many (Republicans and Democrats) denounced this 'unprecedented' attack on Democracy and all but stripped the humanity away from the protestors, suggesting that they might be willing to support stripping away their rights as well.

Of course, all of this was done after they had emerged from their "secure locations' some of them remaining cowering in lock down hours after the Capitol had been cleared.  "Fighters" for the little man indeed.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D - The village that's missing it's idiot) took the booby prize however when he compared this dust-up with Pear Harbor.  I shit you not.

As is custom these days, social media erupted. On the Left there was rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, as well as, not surprisingly, a surprising amount of blood lust as many called for pain and death for the rioters. On the Right there was a desperate search for equivalence and hypocrisy, as people desperately searched past tweets of Ilhan Omar, AOC and others for Tweets in support of BLM and Antifa (and they found them).

Reactions went from falling on the fainting couch and rending garments, to wishing pain and death on all of the protestors, even IF they did not partake in the storming of the Temple walls. There were many calls for Trump to be impeached or removed from office via the 25th Amendment. Twitter, of which I am a member, fell rapidly into a sewer of bad takes, name-calling and otherwise intelligent people losing their damn minds.  I've taken a break from the platform for a few days to allow these spleens to fully vent before I return.

If you're looking for a trend here, it's this: The protestors who entered the Capitol and scared a bunch of politicians were not simple political protestors taking things too far. No, while that may seem what it is you're viewing this through the wrong lens. What this was, to the ruling class, was a sullying of the Holy See of America and an attack on the Religious Order to which they worship.

In short, the invaders were attacking the House of God. This was sacrilege. 

And the punishment for it should be Biblical.

This is why the Democrats are suddenly the DC Police best friends, despite spending the entire year demanding they be "defunded". This is why Republicans have fled from Donald Trump despite initially backing him and showing willingness to dispute the Electoral count to bolster their own political aims.

From that perspective this is a very simple matrix.

Joe Biden is God.

The Democrats in Government are his Angels.

Donald Trump is the Devil.

His supporters are the Demons.

The ruling class views this (falsely) to be American Armageddon. 

In reality, we are not witnessing the fall of Babylon at this moment, but it could not be too far away if our ruling class is not up to the job.  Early returns from Biden ("America is better than this") and Obama (America needs to come together in support of Biden and his policies) are not promising.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year's Houston: No Reason to pay any attention to the news, here's ALL you need to know in 2021

 As you wake up this morning, either hungover or no, and celebrate the death of 2020 and new life in 2021. Here's everything that is going to happen to your fair city (and region) in 2021.  The below are absolutely guaranteed to happen with a margin of error of 100%.

January: Disgusted with the CDC guidance for the COVID-19 vaccine, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo discards it in the name of 'economic justice' and declares that anyone within the county making more than $60,000 per year immediately will be placed in distribution group 1000Z which means that you will receive your vaccination just after the animals in the Houston Zoo.

February: Sylvester Turner, not willing to give up the position of Mayor that he has dreamed about since he was a child in Acres Homes, ram-rods through a City Ordinance allowing him to bypass term limits and remain Mayor for Life, or until he finally satisfies all of his political patrons financially.

March: Houston firefighters are told that they will get the vaccine eventually or, once they come back to the bargaining table and accept Turner's changes to their pensions allowing the HPD to continue to have Most Favored Department status forever.

April: HPD Commissioner Art Acevedo remains coy regarding his political future still suggesting that he's "looking for the right opportunity" to run for higher office. In reality he's hoping to let memories of his HPD mismanagement fade.

May: The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board writes a positive editorial on Biden's first 100 days in Office, continues to run it every week until Biden is eventually removed from office, in which case they just change all instances of "Biden" to "Harris" in the copy.  No one notices this because no one pays attention to them any longer.

June: Houston firefighters and zoo animals finally begin receiving vaccines for COVID-19. The County give Judge Lina Hildago an "Excellence in Leadership" award that's really a recycled participation trophy from a youth soccer league with tape over the face plate and the new information written in permanent marker.

July: Erica Greider hears about Lina's award from Miya Shay at a dinner party in Asia Town and pens a column terming Lina's Excellence in Leadership a "Major Award". No one notices because no one pays any serious attention to her any longer, except for waiting for her next Twitter meltdown.

August: The Federal Government finally releases vaccine to private healthcare entities thus thwarting Judge Lina Hidalgo's attempt to keep it from certain groups indefinitely. In a hastily called press conference she bemoans her "lack of authority" to prevent anything she does not like from happening.

September: A major milestone is hit as most Houstonians have now received the COVID-19 vaccine and new cases are as close to zero as makes no difference. Governor Abbott removes all restrictions, Turner and Judge Lina Hidalgo hold a hastily called press conference calling this decision irresponsible.

October:  Trick or Treating, and anything fun, are banned in Harris County on penalty of permanent imprisonment. Due to bail reform the prison guards are getting bored.

November: Eating Turkey for Thanksgiving is also now punishable by a criminal offense, as is gathering with anyone outside of your immediate household for any reason. The reason for this is because private jail firms have threatened to sue the City and County for default on their contracts. COVID-19 cases in Harris County are still zero.

December: Santa Clause is named an "enemy of the County" due to his failure to pay property or sales taxes on all of those gifts he carries. The City of Houston wants to fine him "exactly the amount of the budget short fall for the next fiscal year.

January 2022: Under intense pressure from unions and other groups who have been out of a job all year Judge Lina Hidalgo FINALLY relents and lowers her COVID alert-level thingy to Orange.

Happy New Year everyone.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

As we Prepare to Boot 2020 Into the Dustbin of History....It's Prediction Time.

 There is no other way to say this....2020 has been awful. 

From a global pandemic that was utterly mishandled by world governments to a United States response that was ham-fisted, inept in many areas and downright fraudulent in some, it's been a year of missed opportunities, dumb governance and, for too many, lost income and loved ones.

Normally, when I do these "prediction" posts, I try to keep it light and come up with ridiculous items that JUST border on the verge of being possible.  But this year I'm not feeling all that humorous, so I'm going to make some serious predictions at five different levels (National, Texas, Nevada, Houston, Las Vegas). Unlike previous years, these are things that I actually believe are going to happen within the Nation, the City and State where I currently reside, and the City and State that I like to visit frequently,

Since we're all anxious to put 2020 behind us, let's dive right in.

National Predictions:

1. Before the end of 2021, the movement to replace Biden as President will be well underway.

Like Biden or not, there is no doubt that the man is suffering from senility at this point in his life. It's been sad really to watch him get lost, confused, and be unable to answer even the simplest questions without visual (or audio) aids.

2. Regardless of who controls the Senate, the Democrats will be unable to deliver on many of the grand plans they have promised.

For one, they had control of Congress and the White House during Obama's first term, and what they provided the country was the fetid mess that is ObamaCare. Two, and the country are going to discover very quickly that all of the grand plans will not be accomplished through their "soak the rich" tax plans. There's just not enough money in the kitty to fund all that they are proposing.

3. The National response to COVID-19 under a Biden regime will be just as inept as it has been under the Trump Regime.

Grand pronouncements to the contrary, they're not going to be able to pull this off because they are going to rely on the government bureaucracy to pull it off and, as we've seen, that is a recipe for full-on disaster.

Predictions for the State of Nevada.

1. The budget situation is going to be dire. Sisolak will have no clue how to fix it.

The fact that Governor Gene Sisolak is not an effective executive is going to come into full relief, more than it already has, in 2021. He's incapable of suggesting the taxation of sacred cows (i.e. the mining industry), he's a man of no executive creativity and the people are going to see this as budgets get cut and the State sinks further into a fiscal abyss.

2. Nevada WILL get a lottery.

While I'm not entirely sure of the exact mechanizations in Nevada State Law for this (for example, does it require voter approval or no? Not sure) but I do predict that one of the first things attempted to try and bring in new revenue will be attempts to establish both multi-state progressive lotteries and those dreaded scratch-off cards.  Sub-prediction: The revenues gained "for the children" will be far less than projections.

Predictions for the City of Las Vegas:

1. It's going to be a ROUGH 2021

I don't see conventions coming back prior to 2022, and even then, some of these bigger events are in the processing of finding new homes, and cities willing to roll out the red carpet for them. Given the increasing costs of visiting the Strip companies, who are also employing people suffering from tough times, are going to start to look for other options.

2. One big casino operator is going to abandon Las Vegas.

The obvious answer is Sands, who is already exploring it, but I'd keep my eye on the new Caesars. As the Las Vegas Strip continues to remake itself into an overpriced bordello there's going to be less and less value there. The old saying was "gamblers still gonna gamble" but the Strip's problem is that they've abandoned the gambler.

Predictions for Texas:

1. The population bleed from the big cities will continue.

As the progressive, anti-business, ideologies continue to permeate the ruling classes of city governance people are going to continue to choose to move out and drive back in rather than living in an increasingly high-crime environment that boasts higher tax rates and fewer services.

2. No, Virginia, Texas is NOT going to approve sports betting in any form in 2021.

Texas will not expand gambling until the time that the State turns blue. No matter how much sense this one thing makes (casino gambling is a different matter altogether) it will not happen.

3. The newest "Blue Star" for the media is going to be Lina Hidalgo.

Harris County's grad-student County Judge is already receiving glowing profiles from the Texas Lock-Step Political Media, and even some National Media, despite the fact that she's not even really running the County (Rodney Ellis is running the county). She's going to get a hard push to challenge Abbott for Governor, or possibly Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor.

Predictions for Houston:

1. There will be a major flood in 2021.

The City will be 100% unprepared to deal with it.  For all of the talk, post Harvey, about "something, must be done!" The fact is little actually HAS been done. A lot of this is due to Judge Lina Hidalgo deciding to put everything back in the sausage making machine in the name of "social justice" (which is odd, because flood water knows nothing about this).

2. Houston will miss-out on the "tech boom" that's coming to Texas.

Yes, they welcomed HP, but that was outside of the city limits. Austin will receive most of the windfall from this, and Houston will be left behind with the city leadership wondering what the heck happened.

OK, that's where I'm going to leave it for now. I'm hoping that 2021 is the year where we all get the vaccine, it works, and we can get back to something resembling normal and place politics and government back in the background where they belong.

Happy New Year and good luck to all of you.

Friday, October 16, 2020

In the Matter of Gil Alexander v. The Westgate SuperBook (Buyer Beware)

This is, on the surface, now a blog concerned about gambling and sports betting. Because of this I invoke Blogger rule 3.2.1 Subsection 32 and am going to type some words about the subject above.

If you've not been following along, here's a brief summary:

Back in March(?) Mr. Alexander made some futures wagers on Iga Swiatek to win the French Open at odds in the range of 30-1. These bets apparently varied in size, but some were around the $1000 level which would have paid Mr. Alexander $30K.

Fast forward to today, and Mr. Alexander went to various books to cash his winning tickets. According to Mr. Alexander, all of the books paid him his winnings except one: The Westgate Superbook. According to the Superbook they had cancelled all wagers in that pool and later put up a substitute pool due to the French Open occurring later in the year. Mr. Alexander was refunded his $1,000 and then all Heck broke loose on VSiN.

The brewhaha broke out yesterday morning when Mr. Alexander, on his VSiN morning show, went on around an hour long stem-winder against the Superbook, what he termed their "vague" rules, and the practice of sports books in general not being transparent when bets are cancelled.

This has, as you can imagine, created quite the tempest in the teapot that is sports wagering.

Ignoring the back-and-forth that's going on at VSiN right now (which is a blog post in and of itself, but is also something I consider to be an internal, company matter) what's emerged from all of this are two camps.

First: The 'Your ticket, Your responsibility' camp. - These people feel that Mr. Alexander is 100% in the wrong and that he should have understood the rules when making a bet. In many (not all) cases they know the staff at Westgate and frequent the place.  According to their tweets and statements they feel that the Book has zero obligation to notify gamblers of changes, and that the onus lies on the bettor to monitor their own bets.

Second: The "Books are bad" camp. - This group is against the book, has in many cases promised to never play at the Superbook again (I don't believe that but OK) and feels that the books should do anything that they can to ensure bettors know about the status of their bets.

I would like to propose a 3rd camp, my camp.

"I'm responsible for my own shit but the place that I do business can retain my loyalty by practicing good customer service."

In his interview this morning on the VSiN show "Follow the Money" SuperBook Godfather Jay Kornegay felt that the Book did "as much as they could" to notify bettors of changes to their French Open futures by: A. Having a staffer tweet it out on their personal Twitter account and B.) Talking about it on Follow the Money on VSiN.  While I will agree this is certainly "something" I do think the book COULD have gone further.

No, I do not think that the Superbook should have "taken a full page ad out in newspapers: (which, besides being a bogus argument also shows just how far behind the times Nevada sports books really are) but I do think they could have done four simple (cheap) things to advertise that a major change had taken place.

1. Put a notice up on their board that French Open wagers have been cancelled.  Do one of those *ASTERISKS SURROUNDING A STATMENT IN ALL CAPS* messages, prominently displayed.

2. Put up some signage in the Book stating that all French Open Futures have been cancelled and that a new pool was forthcoming.

3. Put a Pop-up Message on their APP that all French Open Futures have been cancelled and that a new pools was forthcoming.

4. Send an e-mail blast to ALL customers stating that French Open futures were cancelled and that a new pools was forthcoming.

Notice, no where in these, am I asking the book to track the wagers and individually notify the player (which many have suggested), I don't think the onus is on them to that degree. In today's age, with technology being what it is, and given that most bettors place their bets with a Player's Card, and said cards have an e-mail attached to them, it should not be difficult for that to happen. If you don't think that the casinos understand who is betting with them and do not use those card's already for bet tracking purposes you, like NV sportsbooks, are behind the times.

My point is that NV sportsbooks especially have a LONG WAY to go to provide even moderate customer service to bettors. The idea that "buyer beware" and that every bettor has the sole onus of calling into a book to check the status of current wagers is as insipid as saying that the book has the obligation to notify each and every bettor of a change. Neither is true.

As with everything, this will ultimately be adjudicated by the NV Gaming Commission. To be honest, I figure they will rule with the SuperBook because the Commission is not a player's advocate and has traditionally sided with the House.

On another note, one would think that Sportsbooks would be more communicative to it's customers during a pandemic that has thrown everything out of whack and has made improved communication more important than ever. Vegas Sports Betting industry constantly likes to come onto various media outlets and pound their chests that they are "The Industry Gold Standard"

It's past time they started acting like it.

And, if you're a bettor, that's your investment, please take some time to understand at least the basics about it.

Court finds for no one, everyone was wrong and the industry is still a mess.  Case Closed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Catching up on the Football (College and Pro) that I missed.


I had MEANT to do 5 posts on college and professional football a couple of weeks back but real life got in the way.  The road to Hell and good intentions and all of that.

But, so far, we have a reasonable version of football. Yes, there are some college games being postponed, to Dan Wolken's great delight, and their are no/limited fans in attendance, but we've got actual real, live football being played and that's wonderful.

This weekend, the vaunted S! E! C! comes back, with their big budgets and bigger disassociation with reality, so the National media will start paying some interest (Hi! CBS) although ESPN has been going through the motions with Game Day, and their coverage.

Saturday will be the first morning that I will get up and watch Game Day. So far, I've just been tuning in at the end for their picks. (Lee Corso is still the GOAT at pre-game shows FWIW) But what we're gaining in terms of volume is not exactly being matched by compelling games at the College level.

That said, there are a few lines that I grabbed (some early) so I think there is opportunity to be found as books still are getting a handle on how to place odds this season (early example: Houston v. N. Texas opened at 53. FIFTY THREE for two offensive minded teams. I hope you jumped on that)

I'm still high on South Alabama (+7.5 this week vs. UAB) and I cannot figure out how they got 77.5 as a total for UCF v. ECU. It's possible ECU doesn't score a point in this game. There are some juicy numbers (Iowa State -2.5) that you can still grab and some odd dogs (N. Texas at +22 to UH?? That seems large) and there are some prohibitive favorites that should not have any problem winning whatsoever. (A long list that I will not get into here)

On the NFL side things are a mess. I cannot remember a year with more star players going out for extended periods of time in week two due to torn ACLs.  And, contrary to everyone's belief, ligament tears are not a result of no training camp etc. The rash of hamstrings was certainly due to lack of conditioning, but high ankle sprains, ligament tears etc. are the results of bad hits, and there were a ton of them.

The team taking the worst of it was, unfortunately, my Niners. Not only is Garrapolo out for several weeks apparently, but they also lost Mostart (top RB) and Bosa (top DE). That's a brutal MASH list right there, and probably puts the playoffs in jeopardy considering that the Seahawks and Rams both look outstanding this year.

Not surprised: Cam looks good with the Patriots, the Ravens look like world beaters, Pittsburgh is going to be good again, the Jets are awful, Jacksonville is this year's Miami.

Surprised: The Vikings are....not good, The Texans are a train-wreck, the Titans and Colts will vie for that division. Trubisky is playing OK ball this year and what in the heck is up with the Lions? Green Bay looks much better than we all thought.

Football is back to playing on Thursday with one College and one NFL game. At least the College game is interesting. NFL Thursday games are an abomination that needs to be put out of their misery, despite the fact that last Thursday's game was entertaining at least.

As far as betting goes, I'm taking South Alabama at +7.5 but I'm having none to do with Miami v. Jacksonville. I'm not sure there are two teams that I trust least at any level of football than those two.

Good luck however you play.

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