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I had intended to write something about:

  1. Whether it took longer to build the Hoover Dam or to finish a draft EIR for the cozy, little Monterey Downs project in Seaside.
  2. The ongoing congressional meltdown caused by House Republicans’ refusal to fund the Department of Homeland Security until it is renamed the Department of Building Impervious Border Fences and Catapulting 11 Million American Residents Somewhere Else.
  3. Sen. Rand Paul’s beautiful words about the passing of beloved Mr. Spock actor Leonard Nimoy, but I couldn’t find any statements about Nimoy issued by Trekkie-ish Paul or any other high-profile Republicans. I chalk it up to none of them wanting to appear soft on undocumented Vulcans after President Obama’s touching “I Loved Spock” statement. I leave it to right-wing “historian” Dinesh D’Souza to gauge what this means for Obama’s historically high, hating-America “D’Souza Ranking.” Hate long and prosper, Dinesh.

But, instead of any of that, a late-breaking report from the American Kennel Club demands immediate attention because it threatens a major domestic disturbance.

In 2014, dachshunds dropped off the AKC’s list of the top 10 most popular American dog breeds. I fear what happens when the two miniature dachshunds who control our household realize this depressing development. Minnie and Max don’t deal well with change.

If Max sees a suitcase being packed he starts trembling uncontrollably and no amount of doggie treats will console him. He fears his meal tickets are going on a trip from which no dog owner ever returns.

If Minnie hears a vacuum cleaner being plugged into a wall outlet she darts into a bedroom corner, slinks under her blanket and keeps repeating the dachsund mantra to endure the crisis: “Must eat, sleep and bark wildly at any person, animal or disembodied spirit that walks by house. Must eat, sleep ….”

Honestly, I can see how dachshunds may suffer the vicissitudes of popular taste. My own enthusiasm for dachshunds has been tempered by more than a decade of intimate knowledge of the breed. And I do mean intimate. Max sleeps under the covers with his entire length pressed against me, and he snores ferociously. When 5:30 a.m. strikes him as high time for breakfast, he employs a nose cold as a frozen blackberry to jolt random spots of my sleep-hungry flesh.

Just a few years ago, I was a big booster of dachshunds. What motor vehicle is more famous than the Weinermobile? None, thank you. Imagine the havoc that could be caused by a galumphing Golden Retrievermobile. Horrible.

Countless times I told patient souls how noble dachshunds were chased and kicked by “patriots” after the United States entered World War I to fight Germany, home of the tube-shaped canines created by German farmers to corner livestock-marauding badgers in badger dens. There were no reports of these cowardly dachshund haters kicking German shepherds.

And there were all the times I encountered parents pushing babies in strollers while I walked Max and Minnie. “(Gibberish) … WEENIE DOGS! … (Gibberish,)” the moppets exclaimed. Many young couples reported that “weenie” and “dogs” were the first words their children spoke. Strange, but true.

But lately my bullishness for the little bowsers has waned. They are stubborn cusses, difficult to train and able to emit a wide range of mournful whines when they don’t get what they want. Minnie has developed a whimper that sounds like a cooing 12-pound pigeon. It is impossible to ignore and can be stopped only by succumbing to her demands. Or by packing up and leaving, which throws Max into a trembling panic. Treats for two.

I’ve also discovered the aging dachshund is a more clinging dachshund.

Sit down and within seconds you will have Max in your lap.  Go for a walk, and Minnie suddenly will be limping on legs that worked perfectly fine seconds before. She wants to be carried, of course. Her act deserves an Oscar (Meyer) nomination.

Still, there is much to be said for dachshunds. When two greet you at the front door, they produce such a whirlwind of joyous yelps, blurred tail-wagging and pawed ankles that you imagine a tiny marching band and colorful confetti falling on your shoes. Happy? You bet, their indentured servants are home.

I’ll keep the new AKC rankings under my hat. After all, it really means we dachshund owners are becoming a more select subset of dog owners, ever closer to some non-fungible 1 percent of folks with exquisite taste and little yappers.

For anyone foolishly interested in any dog breed but dachshunds, here are the 2014 AKC popularity rankings:

  1. Labrador retriever
  2. German shepherd
  3. Golden retriever
  4. Bulldog
  5. Beagle
  6. Yorkshire terrier
  7. Poodle
  8. Boxer
  9. French bulldog
  10. Rottweiler

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Football PlayerDespite the looming playoff games fraught with supreme import and chances, though long, that this year’s Super Bowl won’t be a snoozer by halftime, this has been a wretched year for professional American football.

League officials were thrown for a big loss after they mistakenly believed that domestic violence among its role model employees is of trifling consequence compared to other moral and legal lapses like smoking marijuana. I do wonder how the League is dealing the fact that two of its stronger post-season teams, the Seahawks and Broncos, play in states where smoking marijuana is now legal.

Then there was the ongoing stupidity of the hapless Washington, D.C., team and its offensive nickname, which many saw as a major karmic factor for the team’s execrable season.

I have a theory that the Newts — my preferred nickname for the D.C. team in homage to the former House Speaker who now inhabits cable news green rooms 24 hours a day living on a diet of pure Obama loathing — would do better if Congressional Republicans hadn’t blocked the marijuana-legalization vote by residents of the District of Columbia.

Check out the Seahawks and Broncos, Mr. Snyder. Really, dude.

Meanwhile, the inherent physical danger of football to players’ brains played a greater role in games during 2014, which were more and more often interrupted to show sideline shots of dazed players being given initial concussion screenings by diminutive members of teams’ training staffs. There were so many of these — love the super-slo camera work on players’ eyes spinning in two directions — that I expected screeners to arrive at my couch to administer exams to determine if I, too, was suffering brain damage.

What day is it?

Sunday, or maybe Monday, or one of those other days they show football, you know, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and other days of the week ending in Y.

What year is it?

Damn these throw-back jerseys. I don’t know. 1954?

What game are you watching?

Don’t remember, been sitting so long my feet and legs have fallen asleep. I think there are too many Rob Lowes out there, though.

Then there were the hideous seasons put together by Northern California’s two American football teams, whose names I withhold to protect the inept

It’s truly the pits when the only news about your local teams after the first playoff round is who is being interviewed for head coach jobs. Thrilling!

The best thing I can say about the Bay Area unmentionables is no one was fatally beaten, knifed or shot before, during or after one of their games. At least I think 2014 was fatality-free, but some stats fanatic or court docket could prove me wrong.

But the capper for a crapper season was the wildcard game between the snake-bit Detroit Lions — why not the Washington Snakes? — and America’s Team, which coincidentally plays in the foreign country of Dallas, Texas.

Not only were the Lions victimized by two egregious calls by the referees — who must have had shock electrodes affixed to their bodies controlled in the league office — that gave the game to America’s Team, but millions of viewers were forced to witness one of the most uncomfortable scenes of male bonding since the days when Richard Nixon and Bebe Rebozo were a hot item on South Beach.

A jubilant America’s Team owner, Jerry Jones, jumped out of his chair, hugged a taller man to his right while, to his left, a jubilant New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put his hands high above his head in an unrequited effort for what — a high ten? Looked like was trying to play air patty-cake.

Then Christie put his hands on Jones’ shoulders and, with tenderness, leaned his head into the super-rich team owner’s’ back. To make the scene even more shocking, Christie was wearing a sweater than no living man should ever wear, of a color variously described as gutted salmon red, poisonous coral and past-expiration Pepto-Bismol pink.

Within hours, Christie was under fire for rooting for America’s team rather than teams in and around New Jersey, for accepting tickets and private jet rides from Jones to attend America’s Team games, and for steering lucrative New Jersey contracts to one of the businesses in Jones’ America’s Company.

The governor’s brother defended Christie rooting for America’s Team on Facebook because, you know, the local teams suck. And Christie went on a sports talk radio show to try to calm the waters with his usual mix of poetry and calm.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush formed an exploratory committee to issue a possible sigh of relief the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars are not in the playoffs. And he most likely threw out that flamingo-pink sweater vest he had in his closet.

All in all, it was probably the worst year for the league since the early ’70s when then-president Richard Nixon personally advised the coach of the Washington (Bandits, Burglars, Plumbers?) on sure-fire plays to confuse the opposition. Gerald Ford ended up as the new head coach.

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自衛隊 小銃Leon Panetta, the most respected politician ever to come from the Central Coast, has a new book out called “Worthy Fight,” and he’s been making the rounds of cable shows doing interviews about it.

Since Panetta, who served President Obama as both secretary of defense and CIA director, criticizes the president for his decisions on Syria, Iraq and ISIS, the book tour has caused a lot of twittering in the Twittersphere.

Right-wingers, of course, are ecstatic to see one of the president’s right-hand men knock the White House. They knock the White House every day and always can use a little help.

Left-wingers are aghast that a) Panetta didn’t hold his fire until January 2017; b) Panetta flip-flopped on the use of torture in the endless war on terrorism once he took the helm at CIA and apparently went native; and c) Panetta is sad more U.S. military boots aren’t on the ground today in Iraq.

This apparent transformation, in hopes of selling more books, of a once left-of-center Democrat into a neo-neoconservative has been disconcerting for Panetta admirers both in D.C. and here on the Central Coast.

He was on Bill O’Reilly’s no-spin-zone FOX News show earlier this week, and the conservative blogosphere feasted on Panetta’s knocks of Obama that Billo elicited.

As always, I missed O’Reilly, but figured I would take in Panetta’s extended interview Wednesday night with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.”

My enthusiasm was whetted for two reasons: Some liberal pundits back east gleefully reported Stewart knocked the stuffings out of Panetta for his turncoat ways. If there is a gravitas-wielding newsman left in the world, it is fake newsman Stewart, for whom NBC execs reportedly were willing to rob Fort Knox to take over their battered “Meet the Press” Sunday show.

Unfortunately, the Stewart interview was lackluster. Panetta’s belly laughter operated at full force. Stewart made a few perfunctory CIA jokes. Panetta said the situation in Syria is chaos, and the battle against ISIS is going to take years. Nothing earth-shaking there.

When Stewart knocked Congress for taking a break without debating U.S. strategy against ISIS, Panetta said the president should call the legislators back for such a discussion. Stewart said members of Congress could take it upon themselves to convene a debate. Panetta got the biggest laugh when he responded, “This Congress has had a hard time trying to find the bathrooms in the Capitol.”

Panetta pointed out the 1,500 to 2,000 U.S. advisers in Iraq, for the ostensible mission of helping the Iraq army fight ISIS, wear “boots on the ground”

So Stewart asked why 5,000 or 10,000 U.S. troops would do much better, after the Iraq war demonstrated the high costs of trying to impose a democratic form of government in a region beset by religious infighting for centuries.

Panetta seemed to agree, but went on to say the greatest threat to U.S. security is dysfunction in Congress. “We are operating by crisis,” he said.

When Panetta said he recalled when Congress worked well across party lines, Stewart sputtered, “How OLD are you?”

Panetta reeled off the names of congressional leaders who did great things on civil rights, the environment and health care when he was a young Senate aide and Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.

Then my iPad froze, and I missed the last couple minutes. I figure Panetta either told some great Tip O’Neill stories or blasted Obama for a big fail on the Ebola epidemic. Hard to tell when there are books to sell.

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