Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mark Knopfler

Another Dragontape mix - this time the distinctive guitar stylings of Mark Knopfler, from his days with Dire Straits, as a solo artist and from his one album band, The Notting Hillbillies.

Featuring Selections From:
Down To The Waterline (Dire Straits)
What It Is (Solo)
Sultans Of Swing (Dire Straits)
Your Own Sweet Way (Notting Hillbillies)
Tunnel Of Love (Dire Straits)
Brothers In Arms (Dire Straits)
Freeway Flyer (from the movie Local Hero)
Wild Theme (from the movie Local Hero)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Churchill & Tolkien

http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/1/590x/06n25churchill-382089.jpg(from Daily Express)
http://guardianlv.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/JRR-Tolkien-biopic-will-chronicle-how-the-key-moments-in-the-novelists-life-led-him-to-write-The-Hobbit.jpg(from The Guardian)

And odd pairing at first glance but with striking similarities in their views of history and human action:

From Winston Churchill's eulogy for Neville Chamberlain, November 1940
It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting. There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values. History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour. 

From The Return Of The King by JRR Tolkien; the final debate at Gondor, remarks of Gandalf:
Other evils there are that may come . . . Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.  What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.

Both convey the idea of uncertainty, the inability of humans to control events and of there being no endpoint to human history in which we permanently reside in the "broad, sunlit uplands" Churchill refers to in his Finest Hour speech of June 1940.  There is a slight difference in emphasis between the two.  Even in the short run, Churchill admits one can make the wrong choice and fail to identify evil, while Tolkien seems to say one can, or should, identify evil though the consequences of dealing with that immediate evil are unknowable in the long-run.

In another sense there is a great similarity between Churchill and Tolkien which, while representative of their age, would be viewed differently by many, particularly academics and literary critics, today.   Take a look at this sentence from Churchill:
The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions.
Post-modernists would reject what they see as Churchill's fixed, non-contextual value-laden meaning of conscience and respond "Well, Hitler was sincere in his actions and acted according to his conscience so (to paraphrase a former American Secretary of State) what difference does it make?".  In Churchill's world conscience represents absolute values of honor, righteousness and humanity and by definition a Hitler-type character could not have a conscience.  Tolkien's writings make clear he held the same view as Churchill.







Sunday, September 27, 2015

(Listen To) The Flower People

From the early days of Spinal Tap just after the boys changed their name from The Thamesmen and their first drummer had an unfortunate accident.  Many of you may know their later work better due to the famous rockumentary made of one of their tours.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Loos

It is true that we’ve seen reports about the use of chlorine in bombs that have the effect of chemical weapons.  Chlorine itself, historically, has not been listed as a chemical weapon, but when it is used in this fashion can be considered a prohibited use of that particular chemical.   
President Barack Obama, May 14, 2015, responding to reports that the Syrian military under control of President Bashir Assad have used chlorine gas

On this date a century ago the British Army attacked German trench lines near the town of Loos, southwest of the city of Lille in France's coal mining region.  The attack marked the first use of poison chlorine gas by the British but
 it was not the first use of poison gas in the First World War.  On April 22, 1915 the Germans dispersed chlorine against the British during the Second Battle of Ypres.  They followed up with further chlorine use on April 24, May 2 and 5 and then deployed it on the Eastern Front against the Russians on August 6.

At Ypres the Germans released 168 tons of chlorine from over 5,000 cylinders.  What quickly proved critical in effectiveness of poison gas was properly gauging wind conditions.  From a defensive perspective it was quickly found that running while exposed to gas was more dangerous than staying in place as it led to more inhalation and that those on the top of the trenches were safer than those staying in the bottom since the gas sank.

Loos was an unlikely place for a British attack.  The only significant topography, small hills and slag heaps, were occupied by the German and any British advance would have to be over an open plain with no cover.  The British command determined that the use of gas would provide the needed advantage to overcome the factors favoring the defendants.
The Double Crassier and the battlefield of Loos(Loos, slag heaps occupied by Germans, battlefield in flat area in front from webmatters)

The use of chlorine at Loos was a fiasco.  With 140 tons of chlorine from 5,000 cylinders the British  miscalculated the wind direction so most of the gas ended up in no-man's land or blown back into the trenches incapacitating their own soldiers.  Compounding the mess was that some of the cylinders failed to work and when hit by German artillery further gas was released within the British lines.
(British infantry at Loos, advancing through their own gas)

After beginning with that disaster, Loos followed the typical pattern for Western Front battles.  The British assaults were ineffective but nonetheless continued until October 25 with 60,000 British soldiers killed or wounded, along with 26,000 German troops.

The Loos Memorial, constructed after the war, lists the names of 20,610 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed during the battle and who have no known graves

As for gas, worse was to come.  The Germans introduced phosgene in December 1915 and mustard gas in July 1917.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yogi's Gone

Yogi Berra passed away yesterday at the age of 90.  THC wrote this in 2013 as part of his series on Baseball Nicknames.

"Yogi" Berra
    We are used to it now after almost 70 years, but how unusual it must have been at the time for Lawrence Peter Berra, growing up in The Hill, an Italian neighborhood in St Louis during the 1930s, to be called Yogi.  He got the name from his childhood friend Bobby Hofman who had seen a movie about an Indian snake charmer and thought his buddy resembled "the yogi".

    Today, Yogi is 87 and often best remembered for looking rather funny, his Aflac commercials and his various Yogiisms ("it ain't over till it's over", "when you come to a fork in the road, take it" etc), some of which he said and some of which he didn't, including "I really didn't say everything I said" which apparently he did say.  Most of what he did say sounds odd at first but usually makes sense when you think about it.  As Nolan Ryan said "if Yogi had gone to college, they would have made him talk clearer, but not better".

What sometimes gets lost amidst all the funny stories is that Yogi Berra was one of the three best catchers in major league history (I'll leave it to you to argue among yourselves about where within those three he ranks).   Bill James wrote that it was not a coincidence the Yankees achieved their greatest success, five consecutive world championships, when Yogi was in his prime.

  Birdie Tebbetts, then the manager of the Cleveland Indians, told of asking Casey Stengel in the early 1960s (Casey was the Mets' manager by then) how he achieved his incredible success with the Yankees.  Tebbetts wrote that Casey responded:


'Birdie, I never play a game without my man in the lineup' . . .I'm thinking he's talking about DiMaggio, he's talking about Mantle, he's talking about this guy and that guy, and suddenly I realize he's talking about Yogi Berra
I had the privilege of meeting Yogi a couple of years ago and while he's slowed down he is still funny and a class act.  You'll also enjoy visiting the Yogi Berra
Museum & Learning Center on the grounds of Montclair State University in New Jersey.  Yogi and his wife, Carmen, have lived in the neighborhood since the late 1940s

And this link takes you to a post from May 18 of this year when Jackie Robinson's widow,  Rachel, visited Yogi on his 90th birthday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Band By The Band

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2012/04/20/arts/HELM1-obit/HELM1-obit-articleLarge.jpg(The Band)

There are periodic outbursts of musical creativity in the rock n roll era.  August through October of 1969 was one of those moments when a slew of albums now considered classic were released including Led Zeppelin II (featuring Whole Lotta Love and Heartbreaker); Stand Up, the album that established Jethro Tull; Arthur, another esoteric gem from The Kinks; what many consider, for better or worse, the first progressive rock album, In The Court Of The Crimson King by King Crimson; Green River from Creedence Clearwater Revival; Santana's first album; Janis Joplin's first solo effort; Blind Faith's first, and only, album, and, on September 26, Abbey Road, the last album recorded (though not the last released) by The Beatles.  THC discussed an earlier such period in Six Months in Rock.

On September 22, 1969, four days before Abbey Road, The Band released its second album titled "The Band".  It's the best of the bunch and the only one with music that THC still listens to regularly.

The music is difficult to categorize.  It's not exactly rock, it's not really country, it's sort of, but not quite, old-timey music.  Americana is the label sometimes applied which is funny since four of the five band members were Canadians yet they had the sensibility required to capture the sound and feel of an America that had disappeared well before 1969.  If one were to try to describe the time and place in which the songs are set it'd be from the end of the Civil War through the Depression with locales primarily in the South but also including the Great Plains and Midwest and mostly in rural white America.  The Band sounds of the time about which they are singing about and it's a collection of songs by turn witty and bawdy, poignant and knowing, sympathetic and hopeful, nostalgic and fun.

The five members of the group (Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and the lone American, Levon Helm) originally came together in 1960 as the backing band for Canadian rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins (here they are doing Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love?).  Becoming known as Levon & The Hawks they came to Bob Dylan's attention when he was looking for a band to tour with in 1965 as he made the transition from folk to electric music.  The Hawks toured with Dylan into 1966 when he had his still mysterious motorcycle accident and stopped recording and touring.  http://40.media.tumblr.com/0abdf63a2828e30d8e4973579fdc729d/tumblr_mhxecxfK391qzy30io1_1280.jpg(Levon & The Hawks; from L to R, Danko, Manuel, Helm, Hudson, Robertson; from tumblr)
 
A year later, Dylan invited the Hawks to join him in the Woodstock, New York area where in the fall of 1967 they recorded what became known as The Basement Tapes in the ranch house the band was living in, which they had named Big Pink (see Chest Fever).  Available at first only in limited bootleg editions, with a select group of songs officially released in 1975 and the full collection not available until 2014, The Basement Tapes are a collection of more than 100 songs, some Dylan originals (Tears Of Rage; You Ain't Goin' Nowhere; This Wheel's On Fire - co-written with Rick Danko) and others traditional country, folks and blues tunes (for a full list go here).

After working with Dylan, the group embarked on recording its first album and renamed itself as The Band.  Released in July 1968, Music From Big Pink was a critical and commercial success and contained what would become their most famous song, The Weight.

At the end of the year they went to Los Angeles to begin recording their next album which was to become The Band.

The Band was unusual in two respects - there wasn't one lead singer; there were three, Danko, Helm and Manuel and, with the exception of Robertson, they all played multiple instruments.  On The Band this was the instrumental lineup:

Danko:    Bass, fiddle, trombone
Helm:      Drums, mandolin, guitar
Hudson:  Organ, clavinet, piano, accordion, melodica, soprano, tenor & baritone saxophone, trumpet
Manuel:  Piano, drums, baritone saxophone, harmonica
Robertson:  Guitars

Perhaps THC should add a third distinctive aspect  - their distinctively ragged harmonies.  

And ably assisted by engineer John Simon who also contributed tuba, piano, tenor saxophone and horns as well as doing a fine job on the production.  In addition to producing The Band's first album, Simon had done Cheap Thrills, the debut album from Big Brother & The Holding Company, the spectacularly good even fifty years later debut of Blood, Sweat & Tears (The Child Is Father To The Man) as well as working with Simon & Garfunkel and Leonard Cohen.
http://theband.hiof.no/band_pictures/the_band_huge.jpg
Let's walk through the record.  The songs are great but as an album it holds together and works best listening to the tunes in the order intended.  Links are provided to each song.

SIDE ONE

Across The Great Divide
(Lead Vocal: Manuel) 
Standin' by your window in pain
A pistol in your hand
And I beg you, dear Molly, girl,
Try and understand your man the best you can

Across the Great Divide
Just grab your hat, and take that ride
Get yourself a bride
And bring your children down to the river side

Rag Mama Rag
(Lead Vocal: Helm)

A rollicking, barnburner of a song.  "Hailstones beatin' on the roof, the bourbon is a hundred proof".  Manuel, Danko and Helm switched instruments with Richard on drums (listen to his clever playing behind the lyric "we could be relaxing in my sleeping bag"), Rick on fiddle and Levon on mandolin.  Listen to Garth's rinky-tink piano interlude starting at 1:45 and John Simon contributes the underlying tuba part that holds the whole thing together (now there's a phrase you don't often hear in connection with rock music).


The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
(Lead Vocal: Helm)

Along with The Weight and Up On Cripple Creek this became a concert highlight for the group and one of its most covered songs.  In the America of 2015 will anyone ever sing it again?  Here's a perspective from 1978 by Jonathan Taplin, the Band's tour manager at the time (later a Hollywood film producer and currently Director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California Annenbergy School for Communication and Journalism).
It was May and they'd just finished it the night before. They said it'd come out fast and hard and clean. It was just the most moving experience I'd had for, God, I don't know how long. Because for me, being a Northern liberal kid who'd been involved in the Civil Rights movement and had a whole attitude towards the South, well I loved the music but I didn't understand where white Southerners were coming from. And to have it all in just three and a half minutes, the sense of dignity and place and tradition, all those things … Well, the next day after I'd recovered, I went to Robbie and asked him, "How did that come out of you?" And he just said that being with Levon so long in his life and being in that place at that time … It was so inside him that he wanted to write the song right at Levon, to let him know how much those things meant to him.
Quote is from The Band website.
Like my father before me
I will work the land
And like my brother above me
Who took a rebel stand

He was just 18, proud and brave
But a Yankee laid him in his grave
I swear by the mud below my feet
You can't raise a Cain back up
When he's in defeat
A nice touch to use the name Cain in a song about a civil war.

Here's the studio version but THC prefers this live version from The Last Waltz with an even better vocal from Levon.


When You Awake
(Lead Vocal: Danko)

Love the opening of this tune.

And it contains much useful advice:
Ole showed me the fork in the road
You can take to the left or go straight to the right,
Use your days and save your nights
Be careful where you step, and watch what ya eat,
Sleep with a light and you got it beat

Ole warned me, it's a mean old world,
The street don't greet ya, yes, it's true
But what am I supposed to do
Read the writing on the wall
I heard it when I was very small

You may be right and you might be wrong
I ain't gonna worry all day long
Snow's gonna come and the frost gonna bite
My old car froze up last night
Ain't no reason to hang my head
I could wake up in the mornin' dead
And if I thought it would do any good
I'd stand on the rock where Moses stood.

Up On Cripple Creek
(Lead Vocal: Helm)

The best known song from the album and the one that got the most airplay at the time.  A takeoff on Cripple Creek, an old folk/bluegrass tune.

All the way from Lake Charles, Louisiana:
Now there's one thing in the whole wide world, I sure would like to see
That's when that little love of mine, dips her doughnut in my tea (hee-hee)
That weird frog-like croaking sound you hear throughout the song is Garth Hudson playing a clavinet through a wah-wah pedal, a technique he pioneered and which was used on a lot of funk records in the 1970s (Stevie Wonder used it frequently; listen to Superstition).  For more on the use of the clavinet on Cripple Creek and Levon's drumming technique watch this.


Whispering Pines
(Lead Vocal: Manuel)

In 1969 this was the song THC liked least on the album. Today it's one of his favorites.  The haunting melancholy voice of Richard Manuel, Garth's ethereal meandering organ and Robertson's lyrics make for an unforgettable combination that stays with the listener even as it ends on a tentative but hopeful note.
If you find me in a gloom, or catch me in a dream
Inside my lonely room, there is no in between
Whispering pines, rising of the tide
If only one star shines
That's just enough to get inside
I will wait until it all goes 'round
With you in sight, the lost are found

Foghorn through the night, calling out to sea
Protect my only light, 'cause she once belonged to me
Let the waves rush in, let the seagulls cry
For if I live again, these hopes will never die
I can feel you standing there
But I don't see you anywhere

Standing by the well, wishing for the rains
Reaching to the clouds, for nothing else remains
Drifting in a daze, when evening will be done
Try looking through a haze
At an empty house, in the cold, cold sun
I will wait until it all goes round
With you in sight, the lost are found



SIDE TWO

Jemima Surrender
(Lead Vocal: Helm)

A man on a mission.  And a very funny song.

Jemima surrender, I'm gonna give it to you,
Ain't no pretender, wanna see my tattoo?

Rockin' Chair
(Lead Vocal: Manuel)

Touching.  I'm gonna sit for a spell with Willie and enjoy the time we have left.
Hang around, Willie boy,
Don't you raise the sails anymore
It's for sure, I've spent my whole life at sea
And I'm pushin' age seventy-three
Now there's only one place that was meant for me:

Slow down, Willie boy,
Your heart's gonna give right out on you
It's true, and I believe I know what we should do
Turn to stern and point to shore,
The seven seas won't carry us no more

Hear the sound, Willie boy,
The Flyin' Dutchman's on the reef
It's my belief
We've used up all our time,
This hill's to steep to climb,
And the days that remain ain't worth a dime
Oh, to be home again,
Down in old Virginny,
With my very best friend,
They call him Ragtime Willie
I can't wait to sniff that air,
Dip that snuff, I won't have no care,
That big rockin' chair won't go nowhere 
The only song on the album with no drums.  Levon Helm sings harmony and plays mandolin.  In the video below you can see and hear commentary about The Band's vocal style on Rockin' Chair.

 

Look Out Cleveland 
(Lead Vocal: Danko)

Better take shelter or, as the The Rolling Stones would state more emphatically later that same year; Gimme Shelter.   
Look Out, Cleveland, the storm is comin' through,
And it's runnin' right up on you.

Jawbone
(Lead Vocal: Manuel)

The tale of a dedicated small-time thief who keeps landing in jail but loves his work, all told in 12/8 time.
Oh, Jawbone, when did you first go wrong?
Oh, Jawbone, where is it you belong?
A three-time loser, you'll never learn,
Lay down your tools before you burn
Ya keep on runnin' and hidin' your face,
Spreadin' your heat all over the place

I'm a thief, and I dig it!
I'm up on a reef, I'm gonna rig it!
I'm a thief, and I dig it!

The Unfaithful Servant
(Lead Vocal: Danko)

THC would still like to know the answer to these questions:
Unfaithful servant, I hear you're leavin' soon in the mornin'
What did you do to the lady, that she's gonna have to send you away?
Unfaithful servant, you don't have to say you're sorry,
If you done it just for the spite, or did you do it just for the glory?
Rick Danko's voice conveys the mutual regrets of servant and master, but the song's ultimate meaning always hovers just out of reach with its  Biblical echoes and closing with its gentle benediction:
Unfaithful servant, you'll learn to find your place
I can see it in your smile, and, yes, I can see it in your face
The mem'ries will linger on,
But the good old days, they're all gone
Oh, lonesome servant, can't you see,
We're still one and the same
Just you and me 
That segues into a subtle guitar part from Robertson and then ends with the loopy horns (which first appear at about 1:30 earlier in the song) from Hudson, Danko, Manuel and John Simon.

This video provides some background on the recording of the song.


King Harvest (Has Surely Come) 
(Lead Vocal: Manuel) 

There's a carnival at the edge of town.


THC's favorite and a great choice to close the album.  Lyrics and music come together perfectly with an unusual structure where the chorus is subdued but the verse raucous.  Listen to the drum patterns and accents Levon employs, Robertson's guitar at the end (one of his rare solos) and Manuel's pleading vocal:
A dry summer, and then come fall,
Which I depend on most of all
Hey, rainmaker, can't you hear the call?
Please let these crops grow tall!
"Some of the lyrics came out of a discussion we had one night about the times we’d seen and all had in common. It was an expression of feeling that came from five people. The group wanted to do one song that took in everything we could muster about life at that moment in time. It was the last thing we cut in California, and it was that magical feeling of ‘King Harvest’ that pulled us through."  (Levon Helm from The Band website)
Here's the studio version.  Below is a live cut.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

C'etait un rendez-vous

A short film made in 1976 by Claude Lelouch, best known for his 1966 movie A Man And A Woman.  Come along on a very fast early morning drive through Paris.  The car is a Mercedes 6.9 but the engine sound is from a Ferrari 275GTB which gave a grittier tone than the Mercedes on which a gyroscopic camera was mounted.  The driver is Lelouch himself.  No permission was granted for the filming which was done in August because in those days Paris became almost deserted for the month long vacation period.  The route is entirely on the Right Bank, starting near the Bois de Boulogne and ending in Montmartre at Sacre Coeur.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cubs Hot Streak Ends

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/af/Chicago_Cubs_team_picture,_1906.jpg(From wikimedia)

On this date in 1906 the last place Boston Braves beat the league leading Chicago Cubs and their ace pitcher Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown 6-4.

We've written of baseball hots streaks before, most notably of 1914's epic turnaround in The Boston Braves Are In Last Place, when that woebegone franchise found itself in last place on July 4 before rallying to take 68 of their last 87 contests to win the pennant and then sweep the defending champion Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.

What was unusual about 1906 was that the Cubs lost at all.  It was the year the Chicago team set a baseball record by winning 116 games and losing only 36.  They were dominant both at home (56-21), and the road (60-15) where they outscored opponents by more than 2 to 1, but embedded within that triumphant season was an even hotter streak.

On August 4, Chicago pitcher Jack Taylor lost to Giants ace Christy Mathewson leaving the Cubs with a 68-30 record and a lead of 4 1/2 games over the New Yorkers.  The Cubs then won 37 of 39 games before the loss on September 18, bringing their record to 105-32 and expanding their lead over the second place Giants to 17 1/2 games.  During that stretch the team had winning streaks of 11, 14 and 12 games.

Before stumbling across this streak, THC believed the best 40 game streak in the majors since 1901 was by the Detroit Tigers who started the 1984 season winning 35 of their first 40 games.  We also checked the 1916 New York Giants who set a major league record with 26 consecutive wins but found they went 6-8 in the proceeding fourteen games and at the end of the streak lost 4 of the remaining five games in the season, finishing in 4th place.  Since the Cubs lost a game at either end their 40 game record was 37-3.
https://unsportsmanlikecomment.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/mordecai.jpg(Mordecai Peter Centennial "Three Finger" Brown from unsportsmanlikecomment)
http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/visual/whatshot/three-finger.jpg(Why his nickname was "Three Finger" from cbs)

During the 39-game span the Cubs outscored opponents 195 to 68 and their hurlers threw twelve shutouts, held the opposition to one run on eight occasions and two runs in ten games.  Chicago used six starting pitchers, Brown (9 starts and 26-6 for the year), Taylor (9 and 12-3), Ed Ruelbach (8 and 19-4), Jack Pfeister (7 and 20-8)), Orval Overall (5 and 12-3) and Carl Lundgren (1 and 17-6).  On August 9, Taylor threw the last of his record 187 consecutive complete games, a streak that started in 1901.  Not that the Cubs used many pitchers at any point in the season, having only eight on their roster most of the year.  It helped that the starters threw 125 complete games, or perhaps THC has cause and effect reversed.

In that era teams didn't use many position players either with only 14 making appearances for the Cubs that year and even that is misleading because three players had only 5 at-bats collectively so effectively the team used only eleven position players.  Of course those players were pretty good.  The double play combo was Joe Tinker (SS), Johnny Evers (2B) and player-manager Frank Chance (1B) along with catcher Johnny Kling, Harry Steinfeldt at third and an outfield of Jimmy Sheckard, Jimmy Slagle and Fred Schulte.
https://vintagebaseballimages.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/frank-chance_thompson.jpg(Frank Chance; 1B & Manager, "The Peerless Leader" from vintage baseball)

Most of those position players are little known today and their stats may not look impressive by the standards of 2015 but in the context of 1906 this was a terrific lineup.  Arguably, four of the eight regulars could be considered the best in the league at their positions; Chance, Evers, Kling and Sheckard while Tinker wasn't the best only because the incomparable Honus Wagner played shortstop for the Pirates.  The lineup led the league in runs scored and by modern measures their defensive efficiency was substantially better than any other team that year.

By golly, wouldn't you know it there's a YouTube video introducing the team and its home park (Wrigley Field had not yet been built).

Oddly, one of the Cub wins was by forfeit in a game with the New York Giants.  The circumstances were certainly strange so we'll let Paul Doherty who wrote an article on forfeits for the SABR Research Journal explain:
The second forfeit game that didn't start was scheduled for the Polo Grounds August 7, 1906 with the Chicago Cubs the visitors.  During the game of the day before, umpire Jimmy Johnstone had made some decisions that aroused both teams against him.  When Johnstone and Bob Emslie reached the ball park Johnstone was told he could not enter the grounds  The Giants didn't want him as an umpire after his performance of the day before.  Emslie's entrance was not barred so he went inside a short distance then retreated, refusing to take part in the game if his partner was refused admittance.  Then Johnstone forfeited the game to the Cubs.

Inside the grounds McGraw wanted the game run his way with each team picking a player to form an umpire team.  He talked this over with Frank Chance the Chicago manager.  McGraw picked his utility man, Sam Strang, to be one of the arbiters, but Chance, after talking to Charles Murphy, president of the Chicago Cubs, who was in the stands, declined to appoint a Cub player to work with Strang.  He said the forfeit had already been announced and he took his players off the field to the clubhouse.

Strang, McGraw's umpire, forfeited the game to the Giants on McGraw's orders.  Now both teams claimed the forfeit.  The next day, National League President Harry Pulliam upheld Johnstone's forfeit decision giving the game to the Cubs because the New York club wouldn't let the umpire in the park.  The Giants appealed this decision, but it was a waste of time.
Baseball was certainly different in 1906!

The only Cub losses during this period were on August 19 when Taylor lost to Hooks Wiltse of the Giants (a day after Three Finger Brown beat Christy Mathweson) and on September 2 with Jack Pfeister getting bested by the St Louis Cardinals.  During the streak the Cubs beat every one of the other teams in the league though they played the last place Boston Braves only three times in those 39 games, and going 7-0 against both Brooklyn and Cincinnati.

The entire season is full of ridiculously good Cubs streaks.  The team split its first 12 games and then  went 110-30 thereafter and also won 86 of their last 107 games.  Chicago had one ineffective pitcher, Bob Wicks, who managed to go 3-5 before being traded on June 2 so the Cubs were 113-31 in games in which he did not get a decision.  Chicago also won 11 of 12 games against the two other 90-win teams in the league, New York and Pittsburgh during their 39 game blitz.

Even with the loss on September 18 the Cubs still finished the season playing well, winning 48 of their last 54 games.  Unfortunately it didn't carry over to the World Series which they entered as heavy favorites but lost to their crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox, also know as The Hitless Wonders, in six games.
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/images/1906_World_Series_ProgramHD.jpg(Baseball-almanac)

Their regular season dominance didn't end with the 1906 season.  In 1907 the Cubs started off 47-12 giving them 95 wins in their last 113 regular season games and went on to win the World Series.   The Chicago team's best consecutive 154 games performance during 1906-7 resulted in a 122-32 record!  The 1908 and 1909 Cubs squads also put on strong closing runs finishing their seasons 40-9 and 37-14 respectively while the pennant winning 1910 team had a mid-season burst in which it won 66 of 90 contests.  The windy city team went to the World Series every year except 1909.

A good case can be made that the 1906-10 Chicago Cubs, with an average season record of 106-47, were the best team in National League history.  You can read the case for it in this interesting piece at SABR.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Emoji Man

Does he remind you more of Dennis the Menace or Calvin?



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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

YYZ

THC has mixed feelings about Rush.  He can't stand a lot of their music which sounds formless and goes on for hours while Geddie Lee's voice is the definition of irritating.  At the same time he admires the astonishingly high quality of musicianship Lee, Alex Lifson and Neil Peart exhibit and there are points where it all comes together in memorable songs like Tom Sawyer, Limelight and A Far Cry.  From the interviews THC has seen they also look like more interesting people than most musicians.

YYZ is an instrumental featuring some terrific bass playing by Geddie.  This video tells the story behind the song as well as showing a performance of it.  The video below is Geddie's isolated bass track which is worth a listen.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tivoli

By Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-80.  Gifford visited Italy in 1856 and painted this in 1870.  Tivoli sits on hills overlooking the plain extending to Rome, about 20 miles to the west.  At the base of these hills is the splendid villa built by Emperor Hadrian in the second century AD.  Gifford's interest was less in the town itself than in capturing the effect of light on the landscape.Tivoli
And this is by another American painter, Thomas Cole (1801-48).  Cole visited the Tivoli area in 1832 and painted this scene showing the ruins of an aqueduct built in the first century AD to supply water from the mountains behind the town to the city of Rome.  Both paintings are via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A View near Tivoli (Morning)


Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Film THEY Don't Want You To See

Long suppressed by THEY but the world can finally see an excerpt from this movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, Al Pacino and Al Pacino, John Travolta and Wesley Snipes with appearances by Christian Bale, Mark Walhberg, Jim Carey, Gary Oldman and a host of others.

Friday, September 11, 2015

"We're Going To Do Something"

According to today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune the parents of Tom Burnett Jr are donating their son's mementos, artifacts, photos and documents to several historical societies in the Minneapolis area.
Tom and Bev Burnett. Bev held her favorite picture of her son Tom Burnett Jr. The family is giving historical societies some of Tom jr., memorabilia. Jurgen's said she hoped that can inspire other people.(Burnett's parents holding picture of their son; photo from Star-Tribune)

On the morning of September 11, 2001 Burnett, a 38-year old executive with a medical device company, boarded United Airlines Flight 93 after finishing business and deciding to catch an earlier flight home to his wife and three daughters.  By happenstance he ended up seated next to Mark Bingham and near Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick.


When the plane was hijacked he managed to call his wife Deena on an air phone and she informed him that two other planes had been hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center.  They went on to have four calls within 27 minutes and you can read the transcripts here.

His last words to his wife were "Don't worry, we're going to do something."  Burnett, along with Bingham, Beamer and Glick charged the cockpit commandeered by the hijackers.  Flight 93 crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania well short of the hijackers destination; Washington DC.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Iran Deal: It Was Never About Nuclear Weapons

http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/blogs/the_slatest/2013/09/09/syria_chemical_weapons_did_john_kerry_just_accidentally_find_a_workable/180121922.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large.jpghttp://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/files/2013/06/Barack-Obama-Stunning-Decline.jpg
(If you are selling your house, these are the buyers you want to negotiate with)

In which we are driven to seek advice from Homer Simpson . . . 

The agreement between Iran, the United States and five other nations is going to do into effect as, from the American perspective, an Executive Agreement and not as a Treaty.  It is therefore not a binding legal obligation on the U.S. and can be revoked by any President at any subsequent time, for any reason. As Secretary of State John Kerry pointed out, the agreement is not being submitted as a treaty for ratification since it would not be approved by Congress, an accurate assessment, as current counts are it would be rejected by overwhelming majorities in both houses and the latest polling data of the American public shows overwhelming disapproval.

When the Obama Administration undertook negotiations THC thought it would be difficult to achieve a useful agreement but, unlike some others, felt it worth a try (though he also assumed it would be submitted as a treaty if an agreement was reached).  Indeed, if the Administration had achieved all or most of the elements it publicly deemed essential to a good deal it would have been worth taking the risk.  But at end of day, the Administration gave on all of its critical positions so here's what we are faced with in the agreement:

1.  The Iranian regime does not have to give an accounting of its nuclear weapons development program, a key demand of the U.S. and it allies, and essential to constructing a baseline of the current status of its program.

2.  Iran is subject to a very loose inspection program, from which U.S. inspectors are barred, involves a degree of self-inspection by the Iranian regime and is, in part, based on protocols between the UN International Atomic Energy Administration and Iran to which the U.S. does not have access.

3.  There will be no inspection of some of the most important Iranian installation, including Parchin which was deemed essential by the Administration in its earlier statements.
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/edKwjAPfuuI/hqdefault.jpg
4.  There is no "anytime, anyplace" inspection regime as the Administration promised it would insist upon.

5.  Most of the Iran's nuclear development infrastructure remains in place so if it decides to "break out" from the agreement it can proceed very quickly.

6.  The approximately $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets will be returned to the regime to do as it wants.

7.  Sanctions will be lifted so that Iran can sell its oil and entice companies from around the world to set up operations there, benefits worth billions annually.  And, as a practical matter, there will be no "snap-back" sanctions for violations of the agreement despite the Administration's claim.

The problem isn't that the Administration moved on a few of what it claimed were the essential elements of the deal; it's that it moved on all of them.

The bottom line is that we've left Iran with the initiative to determine whether or when to abide by the nuclear components of the deal and in the meantime opened the financial spigots for them.  Iran has not agreed to curtail any of its support for terrorist and revolutionary groups around the world.  The Supreme Leader has recently reaffirmed that "Death To America" remains the policy of his regime and we left four American still in Iranian custody (including Saeed Abedini, an Idaho pastor convicted of starting local home churches and Jason Rezain, a reporter for the Washington Post) who can be used at some future date by the Ayatollahs to extract more concessions from the U.S.  In contrast the Administration thought it important enough to get back Bowe Bergdahl, an Army deserter whom several U.S. soldiers died trying to rescue and who is now facing a charge of "misbehavior of before the enemy" which carries a potential life sentence and for whom we surrendered four Taliban terrorists.

THC thinks this is a bad deal.  If we failed to reach agreement, Iran would still have had the initiative to determine whether to proceed with the bomb but at least they would not have had the money.

It is telling that the best argument supporters of the deal outside the White House can come up with is the equivalent of:
 "Well, since the Administration screwed up the negotiations so badly that the entire sanctions regime is going to collapse anyway, we might as well go ahead with the deal since there's no Plan B anymore."
Think THC is exaggerating?  In supporting the deal a couple of days ago, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) stated "This is not the agreement I would have accepted at the negotiating table" and that he wanted to "begin the process of addressing the deal's shortfalls, unwanted impacts and consequences" (leave aside that his statement is logical nonsense, the deal is the deal once it is in place; think about what he's saying about it).  And read Senator Cory Booker's (D-NJ) statement supporting the agreement which can be found near the end of this post, in fact make sure you read the statements of all four Democratic politicians (two supporting and two opposing the deal) which THC discusses later on.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02128/Ayatollah-Ali-Kham_2128806b.jpg(The Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla (obligatory Road Warrior reference))

Iran does not need the bomb in the short-term now that it has what it wants;  huge amounts of cash to fund its foreign objectives, a clear message sent to the Sunni states that it, not the U.S, is the big dog in the region, the leisure to determine whether and when it suits their needs to break out of the constraints of the deal (and even if they don't break out of the deal, Iran now has the right to have nuclear weapons when the deal expires in 15 years) and retaining the American hostages to get further goodies.

Think THC is kidding?  Here is Iranian President Rouhani's assessment:
Our objective was to have the nuclear program and have sanctions lifted. At first they wanted us to have 100 centrifuges now we will have 6,000. They wanted restrictions of 25 years now its 8. First they said we could only have IR1 centrifuges, now we can have IR6, 7, and 8, advanced centrifuges. Heavy water plant at Arak had to be dismantled but now it will remain with heavy water under conditions. Fordo had to be closed now we will have 1000 centrifuges there.
On the other hand, the good news is John Kerry is in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize he so desperately wants.

So what do we do?  When in doubt we should always consult with Homer:


But why did the U.S. give on all of its key positions?  Was it just bad negotiating?  Well, it certainly was bad negotiating but it didn't matter because the point from the Administration's perspective was to get an agreement, not its substance.  To understand why let's look at recent history and the viewpoint of this Administration.

THC will do this from the perspective of American interests, not those of Israel which have been the subject of some commentary in connection with the deal, though he will admit he finds it perplexing and appalling that the President has gone out of his way be deferential to a regime and supportive of its legitimacy even while millions of Iranians protested the 2009 election results; a regime whose oft-reiterated policy is Death To America and who have acted upon it killing 258 Americans in the bombings of the Marine barracks and U.S. Embassy in Beirut, torturing to death our CIA station chief in Lebanon, killing 19 Americans in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar barracks in Saudi Arabia and supplying the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that killed hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq and whose leaders continue to insult and denigrate not only America but President Obama himself, while at the same time the President personally authorized someone on his staff to tell journalist Jeffrey Goldberg for publication that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was "chickenshit" for being reluctant to bomb Iran.
http://www.voice-online.co.uk/sites/default/files/imagecache/455/khanebeni-tweet-gun.jpg(From Khamenei's twitter feed (yes, he is active on twitter), showing Barack Obama with a gun to his head; according to the President this is not "chickenshit")

The history of U.S.-Iranian relations is important because that is was this deal is really about, not nuclear weapons.  The Obama Administration believes that this deal is the key to its desired rapprochement with the Iranian regime, a approach that they think will, over time, lead to a moderation in the regime's actions and a new balance of power in the Middle East which will allow America to lower its profile in that region.  The deal only make sense in this context and, in fact, if President Obama is correct in his assessment the deal is a good one.  Your own conclusion as to the accuracy of that assessment is the key factor in whether you should support or oppose the deal as Senator Schumer points out in his statement referenced below.

Several American Presidents have attempted reconciliation or at least some improvement in relations with the Iranian regime almost from the moment the Shah was overthrown in 1979.  The hostage crisis in 1979 was triggered by President Carter's attempt to reach out to the new regime by telling them the U.S. would proceed ahead with the arms sales it negotiated with the Shah, that it would recognize the new regime and allow it access to Iranian assets in the U.S.  The radicals in the regime, led by the ayatollahs, encouraged the storming of the U.S, embassy in order to derail attempts at reconciliation.

The Iran-Contra scandal had its origins in the Reagan Administration's attempt to free the captive CIA station chief in Lebanon, held by Iran's tool Hezbollah and because the President had been told their were moderates in the regime who would respond favorably if the U.S. transferred missiles to them via Israel for use against Saddam in Iraq.  We all know how that went.

Attempting to open dialogue in late 1990s the Clinton Administration tried apologizing for U.S. actions in the Iran during the 1950s.  The Iranian regime mocked the President and Secretary of State Albright and rejected the overture.

Interestingly it was during the early phases of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and President Bush's labeling Iran as part of the "Axis Of Evil" that the regime was intimidated enough to temporarily cease work on its illegal nuclear weapons program.  It was also in this period that a frightened Muammar Ghaddafi gave up his nuclear program, which unlike the current Iran deal, actually did involve dismantling and removing the nuclear material from Libya.  And then it all went wrong as Bush got bogged down in Iraq after failing to find the WMD.

Starting in 2006 the Bush Administration, acting through the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, began using sanctions to bring pressure on the Iran to halt its nuclear weapons development program.  To its credit, the Obama Administration strengthened those sanctions increasing pressure on the regime.  In addition, as we know now, the President began secretly communicating with Iran's Supreme Leader in 2009 and making gestures of good will in an attempt to restore relationships between the two countries.  It is in this context that the Administration emphasis on the legitimacy of the reign of the Iranian theocracy in the face of the demonstrations in 2009 can be explained.

It is also based on the President's deep seated belief that the burden is on the United States to take the first step in repairing relations and that once we take steps to heal and correct our mistakes Iran will reciprocate, a view the President seems to hold broadly about American interaction with the rest of the world.  The current discussions sparked a connection THC had missed before that reinforces my thesis.

THC has written previously of Mark Bowden's book, Guests Of The Ayatollah, about the 1979-80 hostage crisis.  In it, he recounts a discussion between Nilufar Ebtekar, a young women who attended American schools while her father was obtaining a Doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania.  Ebtekar, one of the most despised of the hostage takers, was lecturing hostage Tom Schaefer on the evils of the America's racist decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when Schaefer responded:

"The Japanese started the war, and we ended it," Schaefer said.
"What do you mean, the Japanese started the war?" Ebtekar asked.
"The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, so we bombed Hiroshima."
"Pearl Harbor?  Where's Pearl Harbor?"
"Hawaii"
After a moment of silence Ebtekar asked "The Japanese bombed Hawaii?"
"Yep" said Schaefer.  "They started it, and we ended it."
Masoumeh Ebtekar in Dizbad Village - March 22, 2015 - Nisapur.jpg(Nilufar (now Masoumeh) Ebtekar)
http://www.history.com/s3static/video-thumbnails/AETN-History_VMS/21/154/History_Becoming_Barack_Obama_SF_HD_still_624x352.jpg(Barry (now Barack) Obama)

This reminded him that in Barack Obama's first autobiography, Dreams From My Father, there is an interesting passage in which he writes of the transformative experience of listening to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, through whom he found Jesus and who became his spiritual advisor.  Obama tells us of Wright's words:
"'a world . . . where white folks' greed runs a world in need' . . . and so it went, a meditation on a fallen world . . . Reverend Wright spoke of Sharpsville and Hiroshima, the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House." 
It is shared world view we find here - both believe America is in the wrong (for more on the President's reflexive use of this rhetoric read this post).  And things have now come full circle.  Ms Ebtekar changed her name, founded an Iranian Women's NGO Network, became the first female Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was named by the United Nations Environmental Program as a "Champion of the Earth" and most recently THC saw her on the BBC criticizing American foreign policy - which does indicate a difference in world views right now - President Obama thinks he has now placed America on the "right side of history" while Ebtekar still think we are still in the wrong; in fact, the Iranian regime seems to be sending a consistent message despite the President's efforts: "we're really not that much into you".

And it is only in this context of the President's belief that this agreement will lead to favorable changes in Iran's behavior that his actions make sense.  The reason this deal is acceptable to the President is because its primary purpose was never about Iran dismantling its nuclear program (though, if as part of the process the Iranians did so THC is sure the President would have been fine with that as it would have made his job easier).  In order for there to be a U.S. - Iranian rapprochement and thus for Obama's hoped for chance of improvements in relations that would lead to cooperation and allow the U.S. to withdraw from the Middle East, Iran had to be managed into at least nominal compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Without that, the President would not have the maneuvering room to improve relations.  That's why a managed trajectory that eventually allows Iran to become a nuclear power if it choose that route was just as good as dismantling a program because it provided enough of a fig leaf for the U.S. and Europe to say "it's a deal!".

The nuclear deal will make substantial funds available to the Iranian regime.  One of the themes of the President has been that because Iran's economy and infrastructure is in such bad shape that the influx of billions of dollars will have to be spent on internal improvements, not on increasing havoc in the Middle East or on armaments programs.  THC believes this statement indicates the President's weakness in math.  The ending of sanctions will make about $150 billion available to Iran apart from the billions more that will begin flowing in as it sells oil and strikes business deals.

It is estimated that Iran's total financial support to the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza is about $7 billion a year.  Iran could double its financial support for these groups for the next five years and it would still have more than 75% of its financial windfall available for internal improvement and that does not even include the additional ongoing revenues from the end of sanctions related to oil.

UPDATE:  THC just came across this letter of September 2 from Secretary Kerry to members of Congress.  While the contents are not new to THC, it provides a useful insight into what looks like the overall incoherence of Administration policy.  The Administration has been acting on two different paths regarding the nuclear deal.  The first is to insist it is just about nuclear weapons and the Administration is under no illusion about Iran changing its behavior  The second is from numerous articles in which unnamed government officials talk about how the nuclear agreement is really part of a sophisticated approach to "tame" Iran and find areas where our interests and theirs converge (and certainly the President's secret diplomacy with the Supreme Leader and other related statements backs this second path).   Secretary Kerry's letter follows the first path stating:
We share the concern expressed by many in Congress regarding Iran's continued support for terrorist and proxy groups throughout the region . . . We have no illusion that this behavior will change following implementation of the JPCOA . . .
The Secretary then goes on to state actions the Administration has taken and is prepared to take to support Israel and the Arab states, including increasing financial support and further arms sales.  In other words, having agreed to lift sanctions on Iran which will allow that regime to undoubtedly increase its own arms and those of the terrorist and proxy groups they support, the United States will, in turn, fund Iran's local opponents.  In summary, we are funding both sides of an arms race.

In closing, Secretary Kerry cannot resist invoking the toothless spectre of the United Nations and the international community by referring to the continuing UN resolutions "prohibiting arms transfers to Iranian-backed Hizbollah in Lebanon, Houthis in Lebanon, and Shia militants in Iraq . . . "  That delusional passage brings further into question the Secretary's judgement as it is evident to any casual observer that the existing UN resolutions have, in no way, constrained Iran's ability to arm its allies.  In the most notorious example, despite UN resolutions barring rearming and the presence of UN "peacekeepers", Hizbollah not only completely rebuilt its military structure after the 2006 war it provoked with Israel, it is now better-armed than ever thanks to tens of thousands of short-range missiles provided by Iran.

THC reiterates; a deal along the lines the Administration originally sought would have been worth the risk.  The deal they actually agreed to is not.  It becomes more and more clear who the real JV team is.


This is a sampling of the specific issues on which the Administration caved:
the deal we’ll accept is — they end their nuclear program; it’s very straightforward.” President Obama in 2012 campaign:
Nope.  They continue R&D under the agreement and nothing is dismantled.

We will not agree to uranium enrichment by Iran.
"There is no right to enrich.  We do not recognize a right to enrich."
John Kerry, November 24, 2013
The U.S. started by conceding to Iran the right to have its own nuclear reactors but not to develop the capacity to enrich nuclear fuel.

The U.S. ten conceded to Iran the right to enrich but under strict limitation.

Finally, the U.S. conceded to Iran that the strict limitations on enrichment would expire at a set point in the future.
http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/media/images/82006000/jpg/_82006770_arak_ap.jpg(Arak heavy water plant)

The underground research facility at Fordow will be closed.
"We know that they don't need an underground fortified facility like Fordow to have a peaceful nuclear program"  President Obama December 7, 2013
“We know that they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program,” - See more at: http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/content/fpi-analysis-what-us-officials-said-iran-what-we-know-now-0#sthash.ylMWaFwr.dpuf
Fordow stays open under the agreement.

Iran would be subject to "anytime, anywhere" inspections.

Nope.  Limited inspections with advance notice, some self-inspections by the Iranians and certain sites completely off limits.  You may have heard concerns that in backing away from "anytime, anywhere" inspections the U.S. has agreed to inspections with 24 days notice.  It's actually much worse than that.   Here's what really is going to happen according to pages 42-43 of the Agreement:
Step 1:  Requests for access "will be made in good faith with due observance of the sovereign rights of Iran, and kept to the minimum necessary".
Step 2: "The IAEA will provide Iran the basis for such concerns and request clarification"
Step 3:  There is no time limit set forth for Iran's response to the IAEA.
Step 4:  "If Iran's explanations do not resolve the IAEA's concerns, the Agency may request access to such locations"
Step 5:  "Iran may propose to the IAEA alternative means of resolving the IAEA's concerns."
Step 6:  If the matter is not otherwise resolved with 14 days of the IAEA's request for access under Step 4, the IAEA and Iran must reach agreement on access. 
 
Step 7: If the IAEA and Iran fail to reach agreement within the 14 days, within the following 7 days, the Joint Commission, by a vote of 5 or more of its 8 members would advise on the "necessary means" to resolve the IAEA's concerns.  Commission members are China, Germany, France, U.K. Russia, U.S., Iran and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Step 8:  Iran must implement the "necessary means" within 3 days.
So just how long do you think it will take to go from Step 2 to Step 4?   And one other point; assuming that in any dispute Iran, China and Russia will be difficult to deal with it means that the European countries will be the "deciders" - take what comfort you can in that.  Senator Schumer doesn't take much; as he noted "It is reasonable to fear that, once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic relations with Iran, they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections."
“We know that they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program,” - See more at: http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/content/fpi-analysis-what-us-officials-said-iran-what-we-know-now-0#sthash.ylMWaFwr.dpuf

Conventional arms embargoes, including those on ballistic missiles, will stay in place. 

US lead negotiator Wendy Sherman (former social worker and chief negotiator of the landmark nuclear and ballistic missile deals with North Korea during the Clinton Administration which successfully restrained . . . oh, wait a minute) to Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2014:

The joint plan of action does address the fact that their ballistic missiles that could be used as a delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons must be addressed as part of a comprehensive solution because it is part of the U.N. Security Council resolutions. So it is true that in these first six months we have not shut down all of their production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon, but that is, indeed, going to be part of something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement.
As late as April 2015 the White House was distributing a fact sheet claiming the restrictions would remain in place.
 
The reality in the final deal:
The conventional-arms embargo will stay in place for five years, and the ballistic-missile embargo will be in place for eight years but will be lifted sooner if the IAEA definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. The IAEA is very unlikely to find evidence of current nuclear-weapons work, as it won’t be allowed to inspect non-declared nuclear sites where this activity is taking place.  This means these embargoes could be lifted much sooner.
http://dailysignal.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/iran_missiles090414.jpg
(This one's for you!)
"Snap-back" sanctions are readily available for quick implementation if Iran violates the agreement.

But as Rob Satloff at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy points out
There is only one penalty for any infraction, big or small — taking Iran to the UN Security Council for the “snapback” of international sanctions. That is like saying that for any crime — whether a misdemeanor or a felony — the punishment is the death penalty. In the real world, that means there will be no punishments for anything less than a capital crime. . . . But the problem with snapback gets worse. The agreement includes a statement that Iran considers a re imposition of sanctions as freeing it from all commitments and restrictions under the deal. In other words, the violation would have to be really big for the Security Council to blow up the agreement and reimpose sanctions. That effectively gives Iran a free pass on all manner of small to mid-level violations.
The problem is actually worse.  Once companies have made substantial investments on the ground in Iran they will become effectively lobbyists for the Iranian government in order to protect their investments.  Every country that is a party to the agreement will have a powerful internal lobby against doing anything to upset the apple-cart.

In addition, it appears that under the Corker process, the U.S. sanctions will expire meaning Congress will need to pass entirely new sanctions in the future, normally a lengthy process and one that will likely place it in conflict with its allies. That's how the real world, not John Kerry's fantasy land, works.

THC could go on and on in the same vein but it's too depressing.  If you'd like to read more a useful summary of the key defects in the agreement can be found in the Senate testimony of Dr Robert Joseph, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and the man who negotiated the dismantling of the Libyan nuclear program in 2003 and for one of many lists documenting the Administration's progressive folding on what it insisted was essential aspects to the deal read this piece.


Now let's take a look at some of the statements from those supporting and opposing the agreement.  We'll be partisan and only look at Democrats.

Let's start with Leon Panetta (full statement here), former Secretary of Defense under President Obama.  Read this excerpt and guess his position.
In itself, the Iran deal would appear to reward Tehran for defying the world, make funds available for its extremist activities and generally make it stronger militarily and economically. Although the agreement provides for a temporary delay in Iran's nuclear enrichment capability, it allows Tehran to retain its nuclear infrastructure and obtain sanctions relief. The risk is that Iran could become an even bigger threat to the region.

Let's face it, given the situation in the Middle East, empowering Iran in any way seems like a dangerous gamble. Islamic State is on the march; the Arab Spring is in shreds; Syria and Yemen are failed states; Iran is supporting Syria's Bashar Assad, Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen; the Saudis are fighting in Yemen; Egypt is fighting in the Sinai Peninsula; Hamas and Hezbollah are rearming to confront Israel; the Palestinians are languishing; Libya is fighting itself; Turkey is fighting ISIS and the Kurds.

The response of the United States to these threats is driven more by the crisis of the moment than by any overarching geopolitical or military strategy. The principal driving motivation appears to be to avoid being trapped by another war in the region.
http://www.tabletmag.com/wp-content/files_mf/panetta1.jpg
He's endorsing the agreement!  This is what THC means about the arguments of the agreement's supporters.  Panetta then goes on to outline what he thinks essential to making the deal work:
Enforce the deal. A certain inertia follows the approval of any arms deal. That cannot happen in this case. The United States must work diligently with its allies, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency to fully implement the constraints in the agreement. Any violation, even a small one, must be swiftly and strongly addressed.

Maintain a strong military presence. Force projection by our naval, air and ground forces is vital for defending our interests.

Expand intelligence capability. If Iran violates the agreement, it will do so covertly. For that reason, the United States must restore its cooperative intelligence relationship with Israel and invest in intelligence operations with our other allies. Monitoring Iranian activity, targeting terrorist leaders and networks, and assessing potential threats and hidden activities will be crucial for both stability and security in the region


Make it clear that force is an option. Although the use of force should never be the first response, the argument against military action has been made so often that it has created uncertainty about our will to do what we say. For that reason, Congress should pass a resolution authorizing the current and future presidents to use force to prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon. This is U.S. policy; there should be no doubt that force can be used if necessary to stop Tehran from building a bomb.
Does anyone who has watched the White House for the past seven years think any of this likely?

This is from New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer opposing the deal (here is the entire piece):
After fifteen years of relief from sanctions, Iran would be stronger financially and better able to advance a robust nuclear program. Even more importantly, the agreement would allow Iran, after ten to fifteen years, to be a nuclear threshold state with the blessing of the world community. Iran would have a green light to be as close, if not closer to possessing a nuclear weapon than it is today. And the ability to thwart Iran if it is intent on becoming a nuclear power would have less moral and economic force.

In addition, we must consider the non-nuclear elements of the agreement. This aspect of the deal gives me the most pause. For years, Iran has used military force and terrorism to expand its influence in the Middle East, actively supporting military or terrorist actions in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza. That is why the U.S. has labeled Iran as one of only three nations in the world who are “state sponsors of terrorism.” Under this agreement, Iran would receive at least $50 billion dollars in the near future and would undoubtedly use some of that money to redouble its efforts to create even more trouble in the Middle East, and, perhaps, beyond.
http://s3-origin-images.politico.com/080402_secondsschumer2.jpg
Finally, the hardliners can use the freed-up funds to build an ICBM on their own as soon as sanctions are lifted (and then augment their ICBM capabilities in 8 years after the ban on importing ballistic weaponry is lifted), threatening the United States. Restrictions should have been put in place limiting how Iran could use its new resources.

When it comes to the non-nuclear aspects of the deal, I think there is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one.

Using the proponents’ overall standard — which is not whether the agreement is ideal, but whether we are better with or without it — it seems to me, when it comes to the nuclear aspects of the agreement within ten years, we might be slightly better off with it. However, when it comes to the nuclear aspects after ten years and the non-nuclear aspects, we would be better off without it.

Therefore, I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.
Probably the best, and most comprehensive, statement of opposition is from Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) which is worth reading in full. Some excerpts:
“Unlike President Obama's characterization of those who have raised serious questions about the agreement, or who have opposed it, I did not vote for the war in Iraq, I opposed it, unlike the Vice President and the Secretary of State, who both supported it. [A reference to President Obama's recent cheap shot] My vote against the Iraq war was unpopular at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
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“We know that despite the fact that Iran claims their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, they have violated the international will, as expressed by various U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and by deceit, deception and delay advanced their program to the point of being a threshold nuclear state.  It is because of these facts, and the fact that the world believes that Iran was weaponizing its nuclear program at the Parchin Military Base -- as well as developing a covert uranium enrichment facility in Fordow, built deep inside of a mountain, raising serious doubts about the peaceful nature of their civilian program, and their sponsorship of state terrorism -- that the world united against Iran's nuclear program.

“In that context, let’s remind ourselves of the stated purpose of our negotiations with Iran:  Simply put, it was to dismantle all -- or significant parts -- of Iran's illicit nuclear infrastructure to ensure that it would not have nuclear weapons capability at any time.  Not shrink its infrastructure. Not limit it. But fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.

“We said we would accommodate Iran's practical national needs, but not leave the region -- and the world -- facing the threat of a nuclear armed Iran at a time of its choosing.  In essence, we thought the agreement would be roll-back-for-roll-back: you roll-back your infrastructure and we'll roll-back our sanctions.

“At the end of the day, what we appear to have is a roll-back of sanctions and Iran only limiting its capability, but not dismantling it or rolling it back.  What do we get?  We get an alarm bell should they decide to violate their commitments, and a system for inspections to verify their compliance.  That, in my view, is a far cry from ‘dismantling.’

“While I have many specific concerns about this agreement, my overarching concern is that it requires no dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and only mothballs that infrastructure for 10 years.  Not even one centrifuge will be destroyed under this agreement.  Fordow will be repurposed, and Arak redesigned.
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(Fordow Facility)

“The fact is -- everyone needs to understand what this agreement does and does not do so that they can determine whether providing Iran permanent relief in exchange for short-term promises is a fair trade.

We lift sanctions, but -- even during the first 10 years of the agreement -- Iran will be allowed to continue R&D activity on a range of centrifuges – allowing them to improve their effectiveness over the course of the agreement.

“It will, in the long run, make it much harder to demonstrate that Iran's program is not in fact being used for peaceful purposes because Iran will have legitimate reasons to have advanced centrifuges and a robust enrichment program.  We will then have to demonstrate that its intention is dual-use and not justified by its industrial nuclear power program.

Within about a year of Iran meeting its initial obligations, Iran will receive sanctions relief to the tune of $100-150 billion in the release of frozen assets, as well as renewed oil sales of another million barrels a day, as well as relief from sectoral sanctions in the petrochemical, shipping, shipbuilding, port sectors, gold and other precious metals, and software and automotive sectors.
“Iran will also benefit from the removal of designated entities including major banks, shipping companies, oil and gas firms from the U.S. Treasury list of sanctioned entities.

“As the largest State Sponsor of Terrorism, Iran – who has exported its revolution to Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and directed and supported attacks against American troops in Iraq -- will be flush with money, not only to invest in their domestic economy, but to further pursue their destabilizing, hegemonic goals in the region.  If Iran can afford to destabilize the region with an economy staggering under sanctions and rocked by falling oil prices, what will Iran and the Quds Force do when they have a cash infusion of more than 20 percent of their GDP -- the equivalent of an infusion of $3.4 trillion into our economy?

If Iran can violate its obligations for more than a decade, it can't then be allowed to avail themselves of the same provisions and protections they violated in the first place.  We have to ask:  Why would our negotiators decide to negotiate access to other IAEA documents, but not these documents?  Maybe the reason, as some members of Congress and public reports have raised, is because it will be the Iranians and not the IAEA performing the tests and providing the samples to be analyzed, which would be the equivalent of having an athlete accused of using performance enhancing drugs submit an unsupervised urine sample to the appropriate authority.  Chain of custody doesn't matter when the evidence given to you is prepared by the perpetrator.

For me, the administration's willingness to forgo a critical element of Iran's weaponization -- past and present -- is inexplicable.  Our willingness to accept this process on Parchin is only exacerbated by the inability to obtain anytime, anywhere inspections, which the Administration always held out as one of those essential elements we would insist on and could rely on in any deal.  Instead, we have a dispute resolution mechanism that shifts the burden of proof to the U.S. and its partners, to provide sensitive intelligence, possibly revealing our sources and the methods by which we collected the information and allow the Iranians to delay access for nearly a month, a delay that would allow them to remove evidence of a violation, particularly when it comes to centrifuge research-and-development, and weaponization efforts that can be easily hidden and would leave little or no signatures.

“Mark Dubowitz, the widely-respected sanctions expert from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has said:

‘For Secretary Kerry to claim we have absolute knowledge of Iran's weaponization activities is to assume a level of U.S. intelligence capability that defies historical experience. That's why he, President Obama, Undersecretary Sherman and IAEA chief Amano all have made PMD resolution such an essential condition of any nuclear deal.’

“He goes on to say:
The U.S. track record in detecting and stopping countries from going nuclear should make Kerry more modest in his claims and assumptions. The U.S. missed the Soviet Union, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.  Washington underestimated Saddam's program in 1990. Then it overestimated his program in 2003 and went to war to stop a nonexistent WMD program.’

“It is precisely because of this track record that permitting Iran to have the size and scope of an industrialized nuclear program, permitted under the JCPOA is one of the great flaws of the agreement.

“Whether or not the supporters of the agreement admit it, this deal is based on ‘hope’--  hope that when the nuclear sunset clause expires Iran will have succumbed to the benefits of commerce and global integration.  Hope that the hardliners will have lost their power and the revolution will end its hegemonic goals.  And hope that the regime will allow the Iranian people to decide their fate.

“Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.

“The Iranian regime, led by the Ayatollah, wants above all to preserve the regime and its Revolution, unlike the Green Revolution of 2009.  So it stretches incredulity to believe they signed on to a deal that would in any way weaken the regime or threaten the goals of the Revolution.
  
THC doesn't know whether Senator Menendez's current legal problems will land him in jail but thanks him for his thoughtful statement.  He certainly hopes that if the Senator does end up in the clink by that time we will have gender-neutral prisons where Secretary Clinton can join him.
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(Future cellmates?)

And finally this is Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), perhaps best known for videos with Governor Chris Christie, announcing his support for the agreement on the grounds that the Administration has so hopelessly compromised the sanctions regime we have no alternative but to go ahead with the agreement:
Despite its significant shortcomings, we have passed a point of no return. 
We began negotiations with Iran at a time when our sanctions regime was having its most significant impact on the Iranians. We were gaining maximum leverage on Iran through coordinated economic sanctions with our international partners. We joined with our partner nations at the outset of negotiations with the stated intention of preventing Iran from having the capability to get a nuclear weapon.

Unfortunately, it’s clear we didn’t achieve that objective and have only delayed — not blocked — Iran’s potential nuclear breakout.

But, with the JCPOA, we have now passed a point of no return that we should have never reached, leaving our nation to choose between two imperfect, dangerous and uncertain options. Left with these two choices, I nonetheless believe it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse. Thus, I will vote in support of the deal. But the United States must recognize that to make this deal work, we must be more vigilant than ever in fighting Iranian aggression.
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But this deal has clear flaws and substantial risks even beyond the obvious and disturbing short duration of its term. With this deal, we are legitimizing a vast and expanding nuclear program in Iran. We are in effect rewarding years of their deception, deceit, and wanton disregard for international law by allowing them to potentially have a domestic nuclear enrichment program at levels beyond what is necessary for a peaceful civil nuclear program.

Even under sanctions and with a crippled economy, Iran had the means with which to fund and arm its destabilizing proxies in the region, support terrorism against Israel, and fund the murderous regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Now, with the deal, the Iranian economy stands to grow five percent annually, creating a potentially more reliable and steady pipeline of funding and resources for destabilizing activities and terrorism. Easing sanctions will further put our allies at risk and demand a far greater level of engagement and investment in the security of the region, particularly our critical ally Israel.

Finally, this deal includes the termination of the United Nations embargo on Iran’s conventional arms and ballistic missile technology after five and eight years, respectively. Even with increased vigilance by the United States and our allies, this will bolster Iran’s conventional weapons threats in the region.

If we don’t approve the deal, we risk our sanctions being quickly and thoroughly weakened when other nations and companies worldwide stop cooperating. Future prospects of tightening and enforcing sanctions will dim.

They came about through diplomacy and negotiation with other members of the P5+1 with the intention of bringing about a specific end. Our partners in the P5+1 believe we have accomplished that end and will not consent to maintaining the sanctions regime this deal modifies.

Regardless of our path forward, we are faced with an Iran on the verge of breakout to a nuclear bomb at some point in the next 15 years. If we proceed with the deal, that point likely occurs about 15 years from now, albeit with the added serious concern that the international community has legitimized a significant portion of the path Iran would take to a nuclear weapon.
And with that ringing endorsement we'll bring this post to a close and hope for the best - though as Senator Menendez reminds us that is not a good basis for America's national security policy.

Homer, any final thoughts?