San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Incidence Of Terrorist Attacks And Fear

I believe it is fair to say that most folks in the Socialist Democracy of America believe that the incidence of terrorist attacks in this country has been steadily increasing over recent times.  I opened my Denver Post today to read a column from one of my favorite air-headed writers.  Meredith Carroll of Aspen writes a regular column for the paper.  Today's column was entitled "It all hits too close to home."  Here are some of the things Meredith had to say, "Is it just me or is anyone else also starting to feel as if there's no safe haven?  A Gallup poll released earlier this month cited Denver as the second 'safest feeling' city in the country.  Boston ranked just two spots behind....Denver police assured the public on Tuesday that there are 'no known links between Monday's explosions at the Boston Marathon and Denver.'...In fact, lately it seems as if all of the tragedies are hitting closer and closer to home....Whether the recent tragedies are geographically closer or they're just more of an emotional bull's-eye as my kids are gaining some independence, its hard to feel at ease when they're not by my side, although its frighteningly easy to feel irrationally vulnerable and therefore hold them close at every unnecessary turn."  Poor Meredith.  As long as she continues to live her life based upon her feelings she is going to be a very fearful woman indeed.  My suggestion for her, and for everyone else who believes that her emotions should be the primary basis for appraising the conditions of life, is to grow up and start using your noggin. 
So everyone is running scared, are they?  Denver police have to tell fearful Denver citizens that they have nothing to fear.  I wonder if the Boston police told Boston Marathon runners that they had nothing to fear prior to running the race?  Police departments are always telling us we have nothing to fear.  They are in the business of expanding their departments and increasing their revenues in an industry in which fear is good for business.  Telling us we have nothing to fear is one of their primary jobs. I suspect there is little else that is as well designed to induce fear in the population as having the police department repeatedly telling folks they have nothing to fear.   Still, the question remains, should we be afraid of terrorist attacks in our land?
Regular readers of this blog know my answer to that question already.  Before giving my answer I believe it is important to define what a "terrorist attack" is.  King Obama was quick to define the Boston bombing as an act of terrorism.  How did he know?  I did some searching and the generally accepted definition for 'terrorism' these days is any violent action designed to do harm to persons and property because of the political motivations of the perpetrator.  When two guys get into a knife fight in a bar, it is not an act of terrorism, even if the fight started over an argument about whether Obamacare is a good idea or not.  When two guys burn down a cabin in the mountains and declare themselves to be members of "Earth First", we have an example of domestic terrorism.  When two guys blow up a government building and declare themselves to be members of the PLO, we have an example of international terrorism.  That all seems simple enough.  When King Obama declares the Boston bombing to be an act of terrorism without first knowing the motivation of the bombers, he is standing upon shaky ground.  The Boston bombing may end up being an act of terrorism but the King's pronouncement in advance of the facts being known seems to be little more than an act of propaganda designed to stir up fear in the populace and cause us all to turn to Washington for our sense of personal security.
I was surprised to discover that there is a group of researchers who keep track of  terrorist attacks all around the world.  These folks work at the University of Maryland and they call their study the "Global Terrorism Database".  The GTD is an open source database that has tracked the incidence of all known terrorist attacks in the world since 1970.  These various terrorist incidents are sliced and diced into many categories and all of the categories are sortable.  I did a search for all terrorist attacks in the United States since 1970.  What I found is very important if you happen to be a soft-headed liberal like Meredith Carroll.  I was not surprised to discover that people like Ms. Carroll suffer from the chronic malady of forgetting the past.  People like Ms. Carroll are notoriously short sighted and that short sightedness leads them to write some amazingly dumb things.  The column I quoted from above is a prime example of ignorance induced stupidity.  So, just what did the GTD have to say about the incidence of terriorism in this country?  Let me show you.
GTD has tabulated the figures from 1970 through 2011.  All of the numbers listed here come directly from the website.  Feel free to check them out if you think I am misrepresenting the truth.  The incidence of terrorism in this country was at its apex in the 1970s.  There was a dramatic drop in terrorist activity during the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Since then the incidence of  terrorism has been in a steady rate of  decline. There were 460 terrorism events in the United States in 1970 alone.  Those acts of terrorism resulted in 12 deaths.  There were 65 separate acts of terrorism in 1973 that ended up killing 25 people.  The decade of the 1970s witnessed a total of 1,357 attacks that killed a total of 94 people.  The acts of terrorism during the 1970s were mostly of the domestic type. Groups like the Klu Klux Klan, Black Muslims, Black Liberation Army, Republic of New Afrika, and the Chicano Liberation Front were responsible for most of the attacks.  However, not all attacks were of the domestic variety.  For example, a group called the Croatian Nationalists killed 11 people in New York in 1975.  I wonder, does anybody remember that attack?
By comparison, the total number of terrorist attacks on SDA soil since 9/11/01 numbers 183 events in which a grand total of 36 people have been killed.  13 of the 36 people killed were killed in the Fort Hood incident.  That is an average of less than 20 terrorist events per year killing less than 4 people per year over the last decade.  It goes without saying that the 20 or so events per year we have experienced in recent years pales in significance to the 460 events that took place during 1970 alone.  It also pales in significance to the approximately 140 events per year that took place during the 1970s.  The folks committing the terrorist attacks have changed as well.  Almost a third (57) of the terrorist events since 9/11 have been committed by either the Earth Liberation Front or the Animal Liberation Front.  These two groups of wacked out environmentalists are populated largely by disaffected suburban teenagers in search of a cause to believe in.  Most of their terrorist acts consist of burning down the summer cabins of rich people. 
Forgetting the past can lead to some pretty serious misconceptions about the present.  We are not living in the most dangerous time in the history of the SDA.  In fact, it is not even close.  The fear that so many people are currently expressing about the state of this country is largely misplaced and, I believe, a result of too much media coverage of events that would have previously been generally ignored.  The facts speak for themselves.  When terrorist attacks on SDA soil are the issue, we are safer now than at any time in the past 40 years.  Who would have thunk it?  Meredith, all I can tell you is you need to calm down.  Go for a walk in those beautiful mountains around Aspen.  It will do you good.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Castle Rock Police Claim Omniscience, Omnipotence

An article in the April 15th edition of the Denver Post really caught my eye.  It was one of those positive newspaper articles that people like to read so much.  You know the type.  Rather than reporting on murders, rapes, government corruption, fires, massacres, and bombings, the report focused on something that was very positive about two local communities.  What was the great news?  Neighborhood Scout, a "website that collects and analyzes crime, school and real estate data" (I wonder if they gather crime data from the government schools?) just pronounced the towns of Parker and Castle Rock to be "among the 100 safest cities in the country with a population of 25,000 or more."  Pop the champagne!  Finally, some good news about two Denver suburban communities.  In fact, it is great news.  Parker and Castle Rock are safe places to live!  I don't know that people have resorted to leaving their doors unlocked at night and their keys in the automobile ignition but by golly you can walk down the street without fear of being mugged and that is a good thing indeed.  After reading the headline I was motivated to raise an adult beverage in a toast to their good fortune.
Then, after a swig, I started to think about the good fortune being experienced by the good folks who live in these two towns.  How did it come about?  What is the reason for their relative safety when compared to all the other cities in Colorado and in the Socialist Democracy of America?  Just what has happened to make these two towns so safe?  The more I pondered the question the more I thought of possible answers.
I know for a fact, or as close to a fact as I will ever come, that crime rates in general have been dropping all across the country.  Sociologists who seem to have some idea what they are talking about generally attribute this reduction in crime to the fact that the population of the SDA is aging and old people commit less crime.  Is it possible that Castle Rock is a safe place to live because it is filled with retirees?  Although it is possible, it is not likely.  Castle Rock is not a retirement community.  At least it is not a retirement community like Sun City and Palm Beach.  I would guess that both of those cities made the top 100 safest towns list precisely because the people who live there drive around in golf carts and can barely raise their arms to hit a tennis ball, much less strike one another.
Maybe Castle Rock is a safe place to live because it is, in many ways, a bedroom community.  Other than businesses and services related to a suburban community, there are very few industrial operations in town.  Maybe it is just a sleepy little town that attracts the attention of very few criminals.  There are no casinos.  There are no raucous night clubs.  There no gangs.  The more I thought about it the more I realized I could be onto something with this "Mayberry" motif.  Still, Castle Rock is close to Denver and all of the crime associated with the big city. It is also right along the I-25 corridor and we all know how crime tends to run parallel to major transportation arterials.  With all of drugs and illegal immigrants driving by every day it is hard to see how Castle Rock could be safe because it is sleepy.
Finally I was forced to consider that Castle Rock might just be a safe place to live because the people who live there are not criminals.  Maybe Castle Rock is a safe place because the people who live there are good people who mind their own business and leave others alone.  Is it possible for a town to be added to the top 100 safest cities in the SDA merely on the merits of the people who live there?  Is it possible that the people who live there could actually be responsible for the lifestyle and cultural conditions of their local community?  What a novel thought!  In fact, I thought it was true.  Castle Rock was safe because the people who live there are good people.  Or so I imagined.  You can imagine my shock when I found out the truth about why Castle Rock is one of the SDA's safest cities.
I continued to read the newspaper article and Clayton Woullard, the author, told me precisely why Castle Rock is one of the 100 safest cities in the Socialist Democracy of America.  To my surprise I discovered that the town's relative safety has nothing to do with the people who live there.  They are all evil vermin just like people who live in other towns.  Castle Rock citizens are just as prone to be lawbreakers as any other group of people living anywhere else.  I discovered that the citizens of Castle Rock are just as vile, disgusting and prone towards criminal activity as the citizens of Denver, Boulder, and Lakewood.  The reason Castle Rock is safe has nothing to do with the moral quality of the people who live there.
Castle Rock Police Chief Jack Cauley tells us why Castle Rock is a safe place to live.  He says, "We have a very talented and dedicated workforce and a strong commitment to public safety by our town leaders, and we have a very good connection with the community in Castle Rock....its the commitment to community policing, for which the city recently created a new position, and relationship-building with community members, such as local businesses, that helped earn the ranking.  The town's data and intelligence driven policing can also enable the department to be proactive and get ahead of crime before it happens."  Well there you have it.  Castle Rock is a safe place to live because the politicians and police who work there have made it safe.  How foolish of me to think that citizens could actually be responsible for their own safe living styles.  How crazy of me to not realize that if something good exists it must be the product of prior government action.
The Police Chief's comments are startling.  He claims that Castle Rock is a safe place to live because of a dominant police presence in the town.  He is pleased over the fact that the police department has been expanding and has recently hired a specialist in "community policing".  I am not sure what "community policing" is.  Does it mean there is a cop in every community?  Does it mean people in the community are deputized as cops?  Does it mean that every citizen of Castle Rock is empowered to spy on his fellow citizens and then expected to report every activity to the police?  Apparently having every person spying on his neighbors is considered to be a good thing in Castle Rock.  I guess if you deputize every person who lives in a town you can eventually get to a police state with no crime.  I have read that there was very little crime in Nazi German.  I have also read that there was very little crime in Stalin's Russia or Mao's China.  Still, I am not sure I would want to live in places like that.
The most terrifying thing said by the Chief was that "the town's data and intelligence driven policing" has enabled his officers to "get ahead of crime before it happens."  What is the "town's data and intelligence driven policing"?  It sounds as if the Police Chief has a file on every citizen of Castle Rock.  That does not bring me a lot of comfort.  His statement reminds me of several movies that I have seen in which a dystopian society is portrayed wherein the citizens are arrested for crimes before they commit them.  Apparently the Police Chief of Castle Rock is very proud of the fact that the fourth amendment rights of the citizens of Castle Rock are routinely trampled.  They probably collect DNA from everyone who is pulled over for a traffic stop.  They probably have cameras on every corner.  All I know for sure is he is very proud of the "data driven policing" that is going on under his watch.  Does that type of "security" remind anyone besides me of 1984?
Making the outrageous claim of being able to "get ahead of crime before it happens" is a non-falsifiable act.  There is no way to prove it either true or false since there is no way of knowing if the crime would or would not have been committed.  The mere fact that a government agent would have the audacity to claim that his oppressive actions taken against the citizens in his geo-political zone have resulting in preventing crime before it happens is chilling to me.  Thanks to the self-professed omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence of  the Castle Rock police force, the town may be one of the 100 safest cities in the Socialist Democracy of  America in which to live, but this is one person who has no desire to live there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Obama Wants Your IRA

OK, the title of today's posting to this blog is a tease.  In fact, it is false.  Obama does not want your IRA.  However, I have heard so many people in recent days running around screaming that Obama wants their IRAs that I decided to exploit the popularity of that wrong-headed notion in today's title.  What follows is the truth about Obama's proposed plan for your Individual Retirement accounts.
Kelley Greene, of wsj.com, posted an article on April 14th detailing Obama's proposals for IRA limitations.  Since her summary of the issue is so good, I will quote it at length:  "The idea getting the most attention among retirement industry leaders so far is a lifetime cap on savings in individual retirement accounts...Here is how the proposed cap works:  A saver's total balance across such accounts would be limited to the amount needed by a 62-year-old to buy an annuity generating an annual payment of $205,000....the cap, if in effect this year, would be about $3.4 million.  Once the cap is reached, the saver couldn't make any additional contributions unless the total account value fell below the cap or the cap increased...The repercussions of this proposed rule could be significant....two out of five U.S. households hold IRAs."
Another website that I wandered to had this to say about the reasoning for the proposed changes to the IRA rules, "By proposing the cap as part of its budget, the Obama administration is taking aim at those who stash many millions of dollars in tax-advantaged retirement accounts -- which it argues is more than enough to retire comfortably."  There are so many ridiculous and misleading concepts revolving around the two quotations above that I have to dedicate the rest of this post to discussing them.  Allow me to start with the last quote first.
The author of the quote (who's name I have lost) says that the Obama administration is "taking aim" at diligent and responsible investors who "stash many millions of dollars in tax-advantaged retirement accounts".  Does anyone besides me detect a bias here?  One generally takes aim at something or someone with the intention of shooting it or him.  Shooting someone is usually done because the person being shot is deemed to be somehow deserving of death.  Why would Obama want to metaphorically kill a diligent and personally responsible investor?  The answer is simple, because that person is "stashing many millions" of dollars into his IRA accounts.  Using the term "stashing" is expressly designed to conjure up the image of a thief hiding his plunder under a rock in the wilderness.  The "many millions" of dollars is expressly designed to pander to the sinful envy of those folks who do not have many millions of dollars.  In other words, Obama is riding to rescue of poor folks like us who believe we have the right to do financial harm to anyone who is richer than  we are.  Why is he doing this?  Because our sovereign King has determined how much people should be able to "live on comfortably" when they retire and he wants to make sure nobody has more retirement income than that magical amount.
King Obama, praised be his name, has determined that $205,000 per year is a "comfortable" amount of money to retire on. Therefore the King wants to do everything he can to make sure nobody ever retires with an income stream greater than that amount.  It is not difficult to see how this idea will play well to those who are so dominated by envy they can no longer mind their own business.  Suddenly everyone with a small or non-existent IRA has the right to sit in envy-filled judgment of  responsible and diligent investors who have accumulated a nice nest egg.  How he came to his magical number is not described.  What is means to be "comfortable" is not defined.  Just trust the King, he knows best.
People who spend most of their day watching Fox News have been hearing erroneous reports about how King Obama intends to confiscate their IRA accounts.  Although Obama has proposed nothing of the sort, good conservatives and other haters-of-Obama tend not to let the facts get in the way of a good story.  Frightening fellow conservatives with the prospect of federal nationalization of IRA accounts accomplishes the twin goals of stirring up more Obama hatred and getting people to watch more conservative television shows.  As is typically the case with those who are so blinded by hatred for the King they can't see straight, the Obama-haters have it all wrong on this one.
The Obama proposal to change the IRA rules is a part of his larger FY14 budget proposal.  Those who are reporting on the proposed changes to the IRA rules are generally failing to inform their viewers and listeners that the Socialist Democracy of America has been operating without a federal budget since 2009.  Yes, you read that correctly, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 are all fiscal years in which Congress did not agree upon a federal budget.  During the last four years all federal spending has been the result of congressional "spending resolutions" in which Congress agrees to spend the money necessary to keep the federal government expanding in perpetuity.  None of the taxing or spending over the past four years has been the result of an actual budget that Congress was following. 
Many people are shocked to realize that we have been technically operating without a budget for four years.  Why, they ask, have we continued to hear so much debate about budgets, taxing and spending if, in fact, there is no budget in place?  Good question.  The answer is simple.  Congress and the politicians who live there have no intention of actually operating according to a budget that specifies precise taxation and spending limits.  They do however, want to harvest all of the political hay that is directly associated with the debates centered around various budget proposals.  It is all for show.  None of it is real.  It is a gigantic game and you, members of the SDA public, are the butt of the joke.  Let's be clear about one thing....Obama's budget will not be passed.  Obama's proposal to change the IRA rules will never see the light of day.  King Obama proposed his changes not because he expects them to actually be enacted but because he wanted to obtain the political favor that is available to anyone who plays hardball with the "rich", in this case IRA owners with over $3.2 million in their IRA accounts.  It is all about pandering to envy and vote buying by career politicians, nothing more. So relax, your IRA is safe.
Still, let's assume for a moment that King Obama could get his new IRA rules enacted.  Who would be impacted by them?  Almost nobody.  Here are the facts:
  1. In 2010, the last year data is available, the average total value of all IRA accounts for each person who owned an IRA account was $69,498.
  2. In 2010, the last year data is available, the median total value of all IRA accounts for each person who owned an IRA account was $20,046.
  3. Only 6% of people who owned an IRA in 2010 had a total balance that exceeded $250,000.
  4. Of the 21 million IRA accounts that exist in the SDA, only 6,100 of them have a balance that exceeds $3 million.
We can see that even if the King is successful in changing the IRA rules, the new rules would only apply to 6,100 people.  I know, those 6,100 people should not be singled out and punished simply because they have successfully accumulated a healthy IRA balance.  But, the new rules would only snag 6,100 people.  That hardly seems worthy of the media frenzy it is getting.  That hardly seems consistent with the numerous reports that are flying around warning all IRA owners that King Obama is about to confiscate their accounts.
To top it off, the new rules would not confiscate any of the IRA assets of those 6,100 IRA owners.  The new rules would not force them to take larger than normal distributions from their IRA accounts.  In fact, the only thing the new rules would do is prohibit them from making an additional $6,000/year contribution to their accounts.  Given the fact that a 1% change in value in a $3 million IRA account is the equivalent of a $30,000 change in value, it seems to me that losing the right to make an additional $6,000 contribution is not really worth squawking about.  In fact, this entire topic is not worth squawking about.   So I will quit squawking right now.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another Thing I Hate About Baseball

Actually it it is not just in baseball that this problem shows up.  It is in all sports.  In fact, it is in all of life.  It is just that it is particularly odious in the gentleman's game of baseball.  What am I talking about?  Machismo.  Being tough.  Acting intimidating. Strutting around like a big shot.  Or, in the case of baseball, throwing beanballs and charging the mound.
I had just finished writing about how I hate walks last week when I opened the paper the next morning to discover that a bench clearing brawl had taken place during a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.  Here is some of the description of what took place:  "Zack Greinke's pitch sailed up and into Carlos Quentin's upper left arm and it was on.  A little personal history was at play...After Quentin got hit, the Padres slugger took a few steps onto the grass.  When Greinke appeared to say something, Quentin rushed the mound.  The 6 -foot- 2, 195-pound Greinke dropped his glove and the two players lowered their shoulders.  The 6-2, 240 pound Quentin...slammed into the pitcher.  Quentin and Greinke ended up at the bottom of a huge scrum as players from both sides ran onto the field and jumped in.  Greinke took the brunt of the blow, breaking his left collar-bone and inciting a fight that didn't even end when the game was over....The Dodgers weren't buying Quentin's explanation.  So much so that Matt Kemp, among four players ejected after the brawl, confronted Quentin as they left Petco Park following the Dodgers' 3-2 win.  Padres left-hander Clayton Richard stepped between the two, and police and security moved in to break it up."
A pitcher stands 60 feet, six inches from home plate.  He hurls a roughly three inch diameter baseball, that weights approximately five ounces, at 90 miles per hour towards the strike zone represented by home plate and the batters height dimensions.  The batter, depending upon his personal preferences and hitting style, stands anywhere from a foot and a half  to several inches outside of the strike zone.  Given the propensity of pitchers to be unable to throw strikes, it is only a matter of time before one of those 90 mph pitched baseballs hits the batter.  In other words, it is a part of the game.
Being hit by a pitch hurts, or so I am told.  I don't remember being hit during my brief career while I was a teenager.  The pitchers probably didn't throw hard enough to do any damage even if I was hit.  Since then I have been hit by a golf ball and that had a pretty good sting associated with it.  I imagine being hit by a baseball is pretty similar.  I don't suspect that any hitter likes being hit but sometimes it happens.  It also happens to some players more than others.  Craig Biggio holds the modern day record for being hit by a pitch.  He was hit 285 times during his career, which ended in 2007.  Not once did he charge the mound after being hit by the baseball.  Don Baylor, former manager of the Colorado Rockies, holds second place with 267 plunkings.  Walter Johnson, who retired in 1927, holds the record for hitting the most batsmen.  He recorded 205 hit batsmen during his career.  Some hitters, such as Don Baylor and Larry Walker (who also played for Colorado), turned getting hit by a pitch into just another way to get on base.  They would turn their shoulders into any inside pitch and take the hit in order to get to first base.  I don't recall ever seeing either one of them charge the mound.  In fact, I don't recall either one of them even looking at the pitcher after being hit.  They just dropped their bats and trotted down to first base.
Machismo is a terrible thing.  I think it is probably the result of excessive levels of testosterone.  I suspect that it could also be the result of steroid use, which everyone knows brings about increased levels of aggressiveness in those who use them.  After watching Quentin charge the mound my wife made an excellent suggestion.  She said that MLB should immediately test Quentin's blood for steroids.  I think she might be on to something with that observation.  Regardless, machismo requires a man to lash out and attack anything and anyone that he believes has insulted him.  When a man with machismo gets hit by a pitch he takes it as a personal insult and charges the mound to start a fight.  Then, all of the machismo players in the dugout also have to come charging onto the field and thrash about for awhile.  Not doing so means they are not "stand up" guys.  What a joke.
Machismo also means that the pitcher who is being charged needs to throw his glove to the ground and prepare for the assault.  Greinke did that and he ended up with a broken collar-bone that is going to put him out of action for at least two months.  The Dodgers are paying Greinke $147 million to pitch.  I wonder how they feel about his decision to take on the charging Quentin?  I know what I would do if some enraged idiot charged me while I was on the mound.  I would drop to the ground,  cover my head or private parts, and scream "Mommy" as loudly as I could.  Do you think any over-testosteroned madman would be willing to come up and kick somebody who is behaving like that? Do you think the bench would empty as fellow players would come to the aid of somebody behaving like that?  Neither do I.  Problem solved.
Of course my solution to the problem will never take place.  There is too much face-saving and male posturing that needs to take place when somebody gets hit by a pitch.  The sad thing is baseball has rules to deal with being hit by a pitch.  The pitcher is penalized by granting first base to the batter who was hit.  Quite obviously batters do not believe the penalty is severe enough when they think the pitch was thrown intentionally to hit them.  In that case taking first base is insufficient.  That is when they believe they have been disrespected and the mound must be charged and a fight must ensue.
I have some suggestions that could solve the problem of machismo and fighting in baseball. I would change the rules about being hit by a pitch.  Here are the new rules that could bring all of this nonsense to an end:
  1. When a batter is hit by a pitch on a part of his body that is in the strike zone, it is just a strike and he is not awarded first base.  He should not have been in the strike zone.  This will prevent those hitters who love to crowd the plate and dive into the strike zone from being rewarded for their behavior.  It will also give pitchers an incentive to throw strikes.  Oh, how I hate walks. 
  2. When a batter is hit by a pitch on a part of his body that is outside of the strike zone he can be awarded either first or second base, at the discretion of the umpire, depending upon whether the pitcher hit him intentionally or unintentionally.  Quite clearly this will involve a judgment call by the umpire.  I believe umpires are capable of making this call.  They know the players well.  They have a pretty good idea when a pitcher is trying to hit a batter and when the pitch just got away.  This will give pitchers a serious disincentive from hitting a batter intentionally.  Putting a hitter in scoring position should significantly cut down on intentional plunkings.
  3. Any hitter who charges the mound is suspended for one year, no exceptions.
  4. Any pitcher who has been ruled to have intentionally hit a batter and who does physical harm to that batter should be subject to civil/criminal prosecution.  I know that the Supreme Court of California has ruled that even injury caused by intentionally throwing a beanball is not sanctionable because players give up their rights to claim a tort when they step between the lines.  That is a stupid law.  Just because one agrees to play a sport does not mean that it is not possible to be physically assaulted while playing that sport.  Greinke should be able to sue Quentin for the damages he sustained as a result of Quentin's physical assault. Conversely, had Quentin been injured by Greinke's pitch and if he had been able to show that Greinke purposefully attempted to hit him, he should be able to sue Greinke.  Let these matters be resolved in our courts, where they belong, and not on the field of play.
  5.  Any player who goes to the aid of any other player during a brawl is immediately suspended for a month.  If that means the team is unable to field 9 players, they must forfeit all games during that month.  Keep those not involved in the dispute off the field.  Resolve all disputes in the courts. 
Some might consider my new rules excessive.  I don't think so.  I am sick and tired of watching grown men behave like little boys. I am sick and tired of the posturing and machismo. I am sick and tired of the fights and bench clearing brawls.  Baseball is not football, basketball, or hockey.  It is supposed to be a gentleman's game.  Let's make it one, shall we?


UPDATE:  April 18, 2013

Some unknown reader of this blog, probably an ex-umpire, notified me to inform me of an error in this posting.  I thought I had managed to write an article without any errors but sometimes when I am swinging for the fences I end up with little more than a seeing-eye single.  Had enough?  With no more baseball puns to follow, here is what the alert reader informed me about my proposed rule change # 1:  "you had a factual error concerning when a batter is hit by a pitch that is in the strike zone. It is actually a strike, not a hit batter. If a batter is stupid enough to stick his head over the plate and he gets beaned, he gets a strike as well as a concussion."  I stand corrected.  With that task completed, anyone up for a walk?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Frank Azar Rips Off Riddell

Frank Azar is a local ambulance chaser from the Denver area.  He is infamous for his television ads in which he portrays himself as the "strong arm".  His ads frequently run during afternoon airings of Judge Judy and other shows generally watched by pathetic single males who believe they suffer from some sort of chronic disability and the world therefore owes them a living.  Frank conspires with these pitiable creatures as they together agree that they are somehow victims of a deep dark conspiracy concocted by profit seeking corporations to ruin their health and livelihoods.  Never mentioned in his ads is how Frank himself was sued by a group of his ex-clients for failure to deliver on his promise of making them rich beyond their wildest dreams.  Regardless, Frank Azar is one of the best examples of everything that is wrong with the legal system in the Socialist Democracy of America.  He has become rich beyond his wildest dreams primarily by exploiting an immoral system that operates on envy and hatred for those who make money morally.
Why do I bring all of this up?  Because Frank was in the paper today.  The only other time I have seen his name in the paper was when I read about the aforementioned case where his ex-clients had fashioned a class action suit against him. Today he was described as a great hero in support of the common man in his never ending fight against corporate greed and negligence.  I don't know for sure but I suspect this story might be going national for, you see, Frank Azar was the attorney who represented his client against Riddell, a manufacturer of football helmets.  Here is how the Denver Post introduced the story, "A jury decision that the nation's largest football helmet maker is liable in a case involving an injured former Trinidad High School football player could open the door to damage awards for professional players, said Frank Azar, attorney for the Trinidad man." 
The ruling by the jury in this case is expecially bizarre.  First of all, the jury ruled that Riddell was not liable for any head injuries that may have resulted from the actual manufacturing standards of the helmets.  In fact, the jury specifically stated that the helmets met all necessary safety standards and should be deemed adequate for use in football games.  What the jury did find Riddell guilty of doing was inadequately warning people who use their helmets that football is a dangerous game that can result in head injuries.  This is true despite the fact that the helmet in question had a large sticker on the side of it clearly stating that football is a dangerous sport that can result in head injuries.  To top it all off, the judge in the case had ruled that expert testimony on behalf of Riddell in which the extent of Riddell's warnings about the dangers of football were explained was ruled inadmissible and excluded from jury consideration prior to the verdict being rendered.  
According to the Post, "the jury found that the company failed to adequately warn players wearing its helmets about the danger of possible concussions."  This was the finding of the jury, despite the fact that every person who has ever strapped on a football helmet is fully aware of the risk of injury as a result of playing the game.  This was the finding of the jury despite the fact that Riddell had warned players of the risk of concussion by means of a helmet sticker.  What more were they expected to do to avoid being held liable for the head injury suffered by the plaintiff?  Is Riddell expected to have a personal representative present to warn of the possible dangers associated with playing football anytime anyone uses one of their helmets?
Second of all, the judgement was not just leveled against Riddell.  Riddell was ordered to cough up $3.1 million to the plaintiff.  After Frank takes his share the injured man will probably get about $1.5 million.  After the IRS takes its share he will end up with about $1 million.  Besides the ruling against Riddell, an additional $8.4 million worth of civil liability was found in the negligent behavior of the football coaches at Trinidad High School.  Remember, the issue here is not the relative safety of the helmets.  All parties involved agree that the helmets are safe.  The issue is whether the guy playing football has been adequately warned about the dangers associated with playing football.  Since the helmet manufacturer was found liable to the tune of $3.1 million, the football coaches were also found liable to the tune of $8.4 million.  Here, however, is where things really get interesting.
The Post reports, "The rest of the award ($8.4 million) will not be paid, as Ridolfi's high school coaches, who were found negligent, have governmental immunity, said Azar."  Ridolfi is the man who was injured playing football.  Only in the SDA could something like this take place.  Does anyone believe for even a second that if Ridolfi had been playing in a football league that was not associated with the government school system, the volunteers who acted as coaches for the team would not have been sued into oblivion?  In addition we know that any corporate sponsor who might have donated some money to the volunteer football league (for things such as ad space in a program or putting their name on a coach's jacket) would also have been sued into oblivion.   In this case where the coaches work for the most holy of all the institutions in the universe, the government, they are granted total legal immunity from the consequences of their actions.  The jury ruled that they were negligent in failing to inform the players that football is a dangerous game that sometimes results in head injuries.  But, unlike the profit seeking corporation with deep pockets, the coaches and the school district do not have to pay any of the $8.4 million they were ordered to pay.
Azar certainly knew in advance that the coaches would invoke government immunity.  Azar certainly knew in advance that he could stack a jury with envy filled jurors who would look upon the pitiful brain-damaged person sitting in front of them and desperately want to give him some money.  Azar knew in advance that it is extremely easy to pander to human envy in order to get a jury ruling that a profitable corporation be forced to cough up some of its enormous profits to help a poor injured man. These are the facts that have built the career of Frank Azar.  He is the perfect immoral beast to function in a perfectly immoral system that operates to extract money from corporations that are guilty of nothing more than providing goods and services to people for a price people are willing to pay and transferring it to other people, less a handsome fee for handling to Azar, who can be portrayed as defenseless victims of other people's malfeasance.  Envy for the wealth of moral corporations is the grease that makes the entire machine operate smoothly.
What has happened here is quite clear.  A man who made the free will decision to play football got injured.  He was watching the television and saw one of Azar's ads.  He thought to himself, "Heh, I can get rich off of this".  He called Frank.  They decided to sue Riddell for not warning the injured man about the risks associated with playing football.  They added the coaches to the list of defendants knowing full well that they would never be held liable.  Frank somehow was able to exclude testimony about how Riddell had fallen all over itself to warn users of their helmets about the dangers of playing football.  Frank hand picked a jury of highly envious people filled with the falsely named emotion of compassion for an injured man.  To the surprise of no one, Frank obtained a huge cash award, despite the fact that Riddell had done nothing wrong.  Frank gets richer and he gets lots of publicity. 
Azar is ecstatic that he has been involved in a case which could become the template for future lawsuits against helmet manufacturers, coaches and football leagues.  Somehow we are expected to set aside the rather obvious fact that every human being in the universe who has ever played football is extremely aware of the fact that he could have suffered a head injury while doing so and see these greedy monsters as victims of insufficient information about the risks of the game.  Somehow we are expected to hold coaches, leagues and helmet manufacturers liable for the player's own voluntary decision to play the game.  It is the perfect system.  Those who are actually responsible for their own injuries are let off the hook.  Those who are not responsible but who have money are legally culpable for the behavior of others who injure themselves. I can't think of a more appropriate legacy for the clump of human detritus that goes by the name of Frank Azar.