Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad Finale

Final episodes are tough.  Felt like 45 minutes of set up and then one pretty good scene.  On my Breaking Bad pool, I correctly predicted every single death and every single survivor, but was wrong about who-killed-who.  I predicted Walt would kill Todd, but should have seen it coming that it would be Jesse.  I predicted Jack would kill Walt and got that wrong.

Overall, a pretty damn good final season of TV.  I think it is easy to get hyperbolic about these things and worry too much about what is the best TV show of all time, etc.  Who cares?  Lists, lists, lists.  Enough already.  It's just a goddamn TV show.
Seymour Hersh

The Bin Laden raid story is one big lie.

Hmmm.  And this:
“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious,” Hersh said of the American media. “They are afraid to pick on this guy (Obama).”
"It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight,” he said.
“Now that doesn't happen anymore. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.”

Friday, September 27, 2013


Film:  Drug War

Maybe my expectations were a bit high.  "The French Connection meets the Wire."  "Better than anything Michael Mann's done in years."  These were my primers going in.  The film was okay.  There was some spectacular action sequences, but nothing that tops Michael Mann's work.  More similar to John Woo.  The film was ridiculously complicated and lacked the verisimilitude of French Connection or the Wire.  This was stylized.  Anyhow, a disappointment given my high expectations.
Are The Niners Back?

I'd hardly say so.  The Rams are terrible and the Niners couldn't hardly get a first down in the first half. If Gore doesn't break that 4th and inches, it is 7-3 or 10-3 at halftime.  Getting up 14-3 was huge and then we put the game away nicely in the 2nd half.  You can't make too much of Thursday games, but the game plan finally matched our talent.  We kept Kaepernick on training wheels, which is still where he needs to be.  Still, he pressed some passes and the guy is easy to read, he just stares at receivers and doesn't know what the defense is doing.  He still runs when there is an easy slot pass available.  I don't like he's always barking at the other team and getting in little shit-talk sessions.  I don't like how he can't read the defense and I don't like how he winds up and takes too long to throw.

Still, this is how we need to play:  run to set up the pass.  Get ourselves into 3rd and short situations when we can roll Kaepernick out and utilize his legs.  Long drives.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


A retort to the idea that technology is killing jobs and the middle class.  Perhaps government regulations and insider-scheming are causing joblessness.  But either way, something is amiss in America today -- fewer adults are working and in particular, way fewer men are working than in the past.  I don't think it is a good thing.

The first sports column I've read which addresses the faulty decision the Niners made at QB.

Imagine what the Niners could have gotten for Kaepernick if we traded him at the end of the year instead of Smith.  Or, hell, just keep him as a talented back up.
Window Closed

Perhaps this is an overreaction, but just like that, it seems like the window has closed on the 49ers.  I don't see how they (or anyone else) gets through Seattle this year.  I don't see our team getting better in the next couple years.  Four of our best players:  Frank Gore, Justin Smith, Vernon Davis, and Patrick Willis are in their prime or past their prime.  We will not be able to replace those guys with equal quality players.  Our young "stars" are erratic and not personalities to build a team around:  Kaepernick, Crabtree, and Aldon Smith.  Perhaps our offensive line will remain potent, but they haven't looked good the last two weeks.  And I heard an announcer say the other day "Quarterbacks make offensive lines, not the other way around."  I fear he might be right.

We have no Steve Young to transition to.  We have no Jerry Rice to bridge the legacy.  We have no young Bryant Young on defense.  We have Willis, who is the heart of the team, but we are lacking a head.  When we were great, we had Ronnie Lott as the heart and Joe Montana as the head.

We have lost our identity.  We tried to be something else by bringing in Kaepernick and the team is breaking around it.  I see a few flashy wins and a lot of frustrating losses.  8-8, 9-7 this year.  Could even miss the playoffs.

Film:  Rush

I rather enjoyed this film.  Didn't know much about Formula 1 racing and the mano v. mano rivalry story was done well.  Wasn't Michael Mann going to do an F1 movie?  Would like to see that.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ceilings and It's Not Kaepernick's Fault

The sports media is a joke and utterly biased by highlights.

Nearly every dumbass article about the Niners cite the fact that "it isn't all Kaepernick's fault" and the receivers stink.  No one offered this explanation for our glamor-less offensive during Alex Smith's reign when our record was 19-5 and we never lost by double-digits.  Why is everyone pointing it out now?  No one pointed it out during the Giant's game when we were down to two receivers.  Unbelievable.

And if I hear one more person talk about offensive "ceilings," I'm going to vomit.  Who cares about "ceilings?"  So what if in a perfect world an offense "could" score a lot of points.  I'm more concerned about what happens in an actual game with actual opponents and actual situations than some metaphysical notion of possibility.  This guy on a podcast I listened to this morning talked about how the Chiefs offense didn't have a high ceiling and this would hurt them.  Really?  How so?  They are 3-0.  And guess who has a high ceiling:  The Eagles offense.  The same offense that make 5 turnovers and just got their ass kicked at home by the Chiefs.  Then, the guys point out the Eagles made 5 turnovers and the Chiefs had zero and they "only" won by 10 if the two had no relation to one another...

So dumb.  It is as if they don't consider the idea of risk.  The Eagles offense is high risk.  So yes, the ceiling is high, but so is the floor.

Man, I'd love to get in a room and sell speculative real estate investments to all this idiots who talk about high ceilings.  I can see them throwing their retirement savings into dumbass investments all over the place.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I don't remember the Niners getting humiliated this badly two weeks in the row with Alex Smith at QB under Harbaugh.  And let's not use the no wide receivers excuse, because during our 13-3 season, we had no wideouts either.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Film:  Prisoners

A good but not great film.  Quite a lot of tension and chills.  I'm disposed to like these kind of mysteries.  People are all talking about Hugh Jackman's rageful performance and he is good, but performance-wise, I was most impressed with Gyllenhaal.  I'm not sure I've liked him in any movie since Donnie Darko.  He was the one sore spot in Zodiac.  But he tries something different in this film and I thought it worked.  Plus, the calm detective is a tougher role to bring emotion to than the raging father.

Not that it ruins the movie, but I knew basically what had happened around the midpoint, the result of seeing too many mysteries.  I can claim credit for also predicting the Killing season 3 and the two major twists in Top of the Lake.  My fiance is impressed, anyway.  (The Secrets in their Eyes is a recent mystery I didn't see coming).  Still, the ultimate resolution of the crime and the "why" of the crime was not as satisfying as the great films of this genre.  And the movie is overly long.  I wasn't sitting in my seat hoping it would end, but the steam started to come out right around the 4th act (yes, there are 4-5 acts).  Gyllenhaal's 3rd act realization was a tad hackneyed, a version of putting a glass over a picture in order to focus-in, the type of happenstance that only would happen in movies.

But these are minor quibbles.  I wish this movie well because I'd love it if there were more like it.

My final note is that Silence of the Lambs set the bar so high for the mystery thriller, it has almost ruined the genre.  I'm almost not sure where the genre can go.  The most interesting post-Lambs serial killer film is Zodiac, but that film is more a procedural and the impact of the crimes on the people involved and less about the "why" or "who" of the crime.  Se7en was a bit hit and a good film, but I'd call it an anomaly.  Se7en is so close to being a terrible movie, it really is a miracle it works.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Good Article

I think a lot of people will relate to this.  A very pessimistic view of the future for the US.

Reports Obama only reads The New York Times.  I'd hope anyone, and certainly the President, read more than one newspaper.

The Chiefs are 3-0 and 2-16-16 is the amount of points they've allowed in each game.  Sixteen points each for the Cowboys and Eagles, two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.  How are they slowing these guys down?  Is their defense that good?  Maybe.  But perhaps there is another factor:  Alex Smith.

Do you watch the drives?  Nothing flashy.  No mistakes.  Make a couple of first downs, chew up clock.  Play for field position.  Get your defense rest.  Don't let the Eagles run a ton of plays.  In fact, if you discount the long McCoy run, they could have held the Eagles to single digits.

Counting the playoffs, in the last three years, here is Smith's record as a starter:


23-6 (win percent 79%)

Perhaps he had elite defenses, but Kansas City had similar guys last year and they were 2-14 and gave up about 25 points a game.  This year, they are 3-0 and giving up around 11 points a game.  And it's not like Andy Reid is known as a defensive coach.

**Side note:  Kaepernick and the Niners since Alex Smith left:


7-4-1 (win percent 58%)

Smith has developed into a quarterback who knows how to win.  He has crafted himself into the anti-Brett Favre.  He is not flashy, does not make spectacular plays, and does not take risks.  There is a problem with this style -- they will have trouble coming from behind to win.  But you know what?  They don't fall behind very often or by very much.  Smith knows what he is doing at the line of scrimmage.  He knows what the defense is trying to do and runs plays that give his offense just a slight advantage.  That's why they reel off so many 4-5-6-7 yard runs.

There is an old adage:  if it ain't broken, don't fix it.  The Niners were 13-3 and a couple fumbled punt returns from the Super Bowl.  I still think we made a mistake ditching Smith for Kaepernick.  I know Kap brings some things Smith doesn't, but no one pays any attention to think things Smith does that Kap doesn't.  And perhaps one of the best arguments for Kap over Smith is how much future upside he brings to the franchise -- but look at Seattle.  That team is a juggernaut now.  We can't really play with them, certainly on their field.  Justin Smith and Frank Gore are getting old and our team will not be the same without them.  I'm just not sure what the future holds and I'm not convinced Kaepernick will be elite in the way Peyton Manning or Brady or Brees or Rodgers is elite, and so I still don't understand what the move was truly about.

Let me put it another way:  you either have an elite quarterback (who makes your team automatically good) or you don't.  If you don't have an elite qb, you want a qb who can play to your teams strengths and not lose games for you.  Smith developed into this type of quarterback - perhaps one of the best in the league.  I think Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, and a few others fall into this same category.  The only elite QBs are really Peyton, Brees, Brady, and Rodgers.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Libertarian Agenda

First on my libertarian political agenda is to imitate this new Sweedish policy:
SWEDEN: IT’S ‘OK’ TO MASTURBATE IN PUBLIC: Didn’t “target a specific person,” or just horrible aim? A Swedish man charged with sexual assault for masturbating on a beach in Stockholm was acquitted after a court ruled the act was not “directed towards one or more people.” The 65-year-old Swede in question was caught with his pants around his ankles, pleasuring himself near the water’s edge in June. Thanks to this monumental ruling, Swedes can pleasure themselves in public so long as they’re somewhat discreet about it. “With that we can conclude that it is okay to masturbate on the beach,” the prosecutor declared. But don’t get too carried away on the shores of Stockholm: “disorderly conduct” charges may still apply.
You Don't Say

Insiders reaping profit after drafting the Obamacare law.

Whatever your politics, this whole idea that "nobody understands the law" is a pretty good indication the policy is destined to be lousy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Gen Y Yuppies Are Unhappy

Pretty accurate.

Film:  The Year of Living Dangerously

I love this kind of sprawling, political dramas.  Reminded me of The Killing Fields.  Who said the 80s were lousy for movies?  In the entire 2000s, I can't think of a sprawling political drama that engages with questions of great moral weight.  The English Patient comes to mind, but that was so long ago now.  Sigourney Weaver plays a hot British spy, a nice turn for her.  Another Mel Gibson movie before he became a huge star - he did quite a few.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'm Becoming More Libertarian By The Day

CBS uncovers "unregulated" dinner parties, ie underground supper clubs.

Oh yeah, this is really something government ought to be involved with.

And George Will on his libertarian evolution.  "Too many barnacles on the ship."

Friday, September 13, 2013


Film:  Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen gets away with a lot more than other filmmakers.  Is it the track record?  Or skill?  In Blue Jasmine, people fall in and out of love more quickly than they change their clothes.  I don't really buy it in a real-world dramatic sense.  But I suppose I go with it in the whimsical Woody Allen world.  I see this clearer now that I've written (or, tried writing) characters who fall in love.

I feel like people didn't like this movie much, but I actually found the Cate Blanchett character to be pretty interesting.  Structure-wise and other character-wise, there was nothing innovative or special, but the movie can stand alone as a character study.  Well worth a $6.50 matinee at the big screen at the Los Feliz 3 theater.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Great Quote

Grantland's pop culture round up.
Backdoor Teen Mom Farrah Abraham a Feminist? "I'm pretty feminine I think so." The Miami New Times journalist interviewing Farrah explained that they'd actually said feminist. "What does [feminist] mean? You're a lesbian or something?" Sigh.
Putin Speaks

Now the KGB has a direct line to the American people.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
Feels like decline.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Makes Me Want to Read Him

Richard Ford is against literary narcissism.  But not too stridently.

TV:  Breaking Bad - 4th to last episode

In my opinion, this was the best episode of the season.  Alliances formed.  Each making major moves.  The end was awesome.  Only confusing bit was Landry and Lydia scene.  Wasn't sure what was going on there...was Landry making a Marlo-esque move to steal the European connection?  Weren't these white power prison dudes just happy to be getting paid a month ago?  Now they want the whole pie?
Football Round Up

Great game between Packers and Niners.  Kaepernick and Boldin played awesome, making tons of huge plays.  Makes me a bit nervous that we couldn't run the ball, but I imagine the Packers were scheming to stop the run, which is one of the reasons we three for 400 plus yards.

I noticed the Chiefs look to be adopting the personality of the Niners under Alex Smith.  28-2 game against Jacksonville.  Smith was routinely said to be a benefactor of a strong Niners defense.  I haven't looked at the stats, but I'd be willing to be the Niners let in a whole lot fewer points with Smith at QB than Kaepernick.  Why would that happen?  A couple reasons:

1.  Smith tends to play ball-control offense, running, short passes, etc.  Not a lot of big plays, but not a lot of turnovers or plays for losses.  His offense tends to hold onto the ball longer and then the defense doesn't have to play as much.  They are fresher and the other team has fewer opportunities to score.  You also don't give the other team good field position.

2.  Kaepernick plays bigger.  Big plays put points on the board, but give the ball right back to the opponent.  He turns it over more (that was the most impressive part of yesterdays game - no turnovers). We also get bigger leads, which causes the other team to become more aggressive offensively.  The flip side, is we are able to come from behind.

No real huge surprises yesterday.  Looks like Pittsburgh might finally be running out of steam.  Tampa got screwed on that call to put the Jets in field goal range at the end of the game.  The Giants demonstrated that running backs are still important.

Film:  District B13

Awesome little movie.  Unconventional story structure.  Really pleasurable.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Film:  Transporter 3

There's an absurd genius going on in films like this.  On the one hand, they are utterly terrible and almost unwatchable.  Cringeworthy dialog.  Completely absurd situations.  But you would be foolish to think the filmmakers are not aware of it.  The principal organizing factor is handcuffing your hero.  In this film, Jason Statham is handcuffed to a girl and his car.  They will both literally explode from an explosive bracelet if they get outside of 75 feet from the car.  This makes for all sorts of insane set pieces, including the car sinking in water, the car driving on top of a train, etc.

I find a strange inspiration from films like these, who take a basic populist pleasure in action-cinema.  I am reminded of being a young man and the coded messages in such movies about bravery, doing good, having strength, and so forth.  I actually don't think they are such bad lessons to learn.

Watched Sorcerer the other night and it reminded me of a saying that the ancients only valued courage.  I loved the end when the people were cheering and happy for Roy Scheider because he was brave (in contrast to hating gringos during the earlier part of the film).  Same message (although the movie is changed by the end beat when the guys come for him).

Reading a book right now that describes Orwell's opinion of Kipling: when he was young, he loved Kipling, as he got to be a teenager and twenty-something, he despised him.  Later on, he grew to appreciate him again.  The actual detail of the reading-relationship was more nuanced, but basic premise holds.  I'm wondering if I will come back to enjoying just the dumb B-action films of my youth, the Segal, Schwarzenegger films.
Becoming A Morning Person

Camp.  Or at least mimic what campers do.

One of my favorite feelings in the world comes when you get up super early for a road trip - either to ski or just get somewhere - and the feeling of driving with a cup of hot coffee, a nice talk radio show going, and the sun coming up over the horizon and the road is open.  Few better feelings in the world.

I am actively trying to become more of a morning person when it comes to work habits.  There's a nice feeling to getting an hours work done before the morning cup of coffee.  Get two hours of work in before 9am and your day is guaranteed to be good.
Looks Good

This book looks good - The Revenge of Geography.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Book:  Edge of Normal

Quick read.  Fun little crime thriller.

Film:  Sorcerer

Enjoyed this film more this time than when I originally saw it.  Looking forward to the Bluray version.  Incredible tension once they are driving the trucks.  Closest non-Herzog film to a Herzog film, if that makes sense.  Funny imaging being a cinema fan in 1977 and watching this the week after Star Wars came out.
Does Wealth Making Us Lazy

Perhaps.  I like this part:
I’d say most long-term trends can be understood reasonably well as due to increasing wealth and lifespans. These include less monogamy, religion, work ethic, and violence.
And you might want to add in birth control technology.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Breakfast Burritos

10 best in LA.

The breakfast burrito might be the most quintessential Los Angeles food.  The burger would be number 2, but I imagine many cities can claim the burger.  What other city can boast of the breakfast burrito?
NFL Predictions

I'm not a fan of Barnwell over at Grantland.  He way overvalues statistics as a predictor.  Last year, he predicted a major 49er regression because most teams who jumped in performance from 7-9 to 13-3 had regressions.  I thought this was an entirely stupid argument because the reason the 49ers jumped was because Harbaugh was a good coach and there was no reason to think they would regress to under-performing.  His logic was akin to flipping a coin 9 times and 7 of them hitting tails and figuring the next flip therefore has a higher probability to hit heads.  Wrong.  The probability is still just 50/50.

This year, in his analysis of the Falcons, he points out how they perform well in close games and are due to regress because over time close game results tend to even out.  Really?  Wouldn't you conclude the reason they perform well in close games is Matt Ryan and Mike White know how to manage the clock and have good offensive weapons?  Their performance, in other words, isn't random.  I watched the 49ers all growing up during the Montana and Steve Young era.  Montana always managed the clock at the end of games well.  This is why he is known as the greatest quarterback of all time.  Young did not.  They used the same scheme and had similarly good offensive players.  There was a difference between players and that's the reason Montana won 4 Super Bowls and Young won 1.  It wasn't random.

In any case, here are my predictions:

1.  At least one team that looks shitty on paper will be decent - Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Arizona, Buffalo.  I'm picking Tennessee, although Arizona and Buffalo have a shot.

2.  At least one team that looks like a contender will suck - Denver, New England, New Orleans, Atlanta, Seattle, 49ers, Green Bay, Houston.  My prediction is Denver or the 49ers, sadly.  I am picking them based solely on if their quarterbacks get hurt, I think the team will really suffer and they both have a decent likelihood for different reasons.

3.  Kansas City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Tampa Bay will all be over .500 and vying for the playoffs.

4.  The most competitive divisions will be the AFC North, NFC East, NFC South.  In some ways, I think any of the four teams in all these divisions could steal it.

5.  I am terrified of the Seahawks.
In Defense of Maps

A new book about the future:
Your smartphone will record data on your life and, when asked, will tell you what to do, drawing on data from your home or from your spouse and friends if need be. “You’ve thrown out that bread the last three times you’ve bought it, give it a pass” will be a text message of the future. How about “Now is not the time to start another argument with your wife”? The GPS is just the beginning of computer-guided instruction.
Take your smartphone on a date, and it might vibrate in your pocket to indicate “Kiss her now.” If you hesitate for fear of being seen as pushy, it may write: “Who cares if you look bad? You are sampling optimally in the quest for a lifetime companion.” Those who won’t listen, or who rebel out of spite, will be missing out on glittering prizes. Those of us who listen, while often envied, may feel more like puppets with deflated pride.
I will admit the cell phone 3G internet is very handy while on vacation and trying to find stuff.  That alone was one of my major reasons for switching from my old flip phone (incidentally, I noticed Walter White used the exact phone I used to have in last night's Breaking Bad episode).

But I also remember going on family vacations when I was young and my dad studying the map of wherever we were the night before.  And I don't remember getting lost very often, if at all.  To this day, I notice my father able to discuss details of geography and driving routes of places all around the country.  Also, he would have a more general "lay of the land" approach and not get disoriented.  I feel like when you relay on GPS, turn left here, right here, etc, etc., you are more easily flustered and lost than if you have a broader understanding of the city or area you are visiting.

Not only that, when you become broadly literate on geography, you will more easily be able to navigate foreign places.  I imagine once you learn how to use one subway system, it is much easier to  use other subways systems.

We should apply such principles to the adaptation of new technology.  Yes, they can be useful.  But the old ways should not be fully abandoned.  Although my younger self may have benefited at some time or another from a text message telling me to make a move on a girl, I think I prefer the world in which I had to figure it out for myself.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Mental Bandwidth

Poverty taxes the brain.  More than simply adding stress, it actually takes much more mental energy to live and thus makes other, more routine tasks harder.

Interesting stuff.  I am very cognisant of mental energy and try my best not to waste it on stupid things.

Labor day movie round up

Film in theater:  The Grandmaster
DVDs:  The Other Guys, Logan's Run, Smokey and the Bandit, The Raid Redeption

The Grandmaster was a disappointment.  Was hoping to be washed over and relaxed on a hot afternoon by Won Kar Wai images.  Was actually surprised by how lame the slow motion shots looked.  Seemed like he was adjusting to shooting a new format or something.  Maybe going digital for the first time?  I honestly don't know, nor do even care enough to research it.  Story telling was bad.  How is it possible to have Tony Leung, Zi Zhang, and Won Kar Wai and make a lousy movie?  Goes to show how hard movie making is.

The Other Guys was laugh out loud funny in parts and yet I still fell asleep.  My theory is the plot sucks and they blow their comedy wad in the first half of the movie and don't set anything up and so the third act becomes total absurdity.

The Raid Redemption, however, embraces absurdity and is a vehicle for kick-ass action sequences.  I thought it was a pretty awesome in the way old Jet Li or Van Damme movies were awesome.

Smokey and the Bandit is a lot of fun and I appreciate it more now than when I was younger.  I'm not an instinctive fan of the "Southern" as Tarantino puts it, but Jackie Gleason is a delight and damn, Burt and Sally Field had some real chemistry going there.  I still prefer White Lighting.

Logan's like to see the Nic Refn remake if that ever happens.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

More on Syria

Listening to the radio makes me think we need to import Tywin Lannister to help us deal with the situation.  Seriously.  The foreign policy world is like Game of Thrones right now, except there is no throne.

Now, Obama is going to wait on Congress to vote to attack.  Some general thoughts:

1.  Are we democracy is best for Arab societies?  The Germany, Japan, and South Korean models have not, thus far, proven to work in Iraq.  And it is presently failing in Egypt.  The cases of Germany and Japan might be unique to the historical moment and countries who were utterly defeated in war.  No such situation exists in the Arab world.

2.  We've done limited missile strikes in the past and it isn't clear they work to our long term benefit.  They almost always provoke a reaction from the other side and do not deal with the underlying problem.

3.  Why is there a rush to punish Assad over his chemical weapons?  Punishment could apply in a year, just as easily as next week.

4.  Why are we not better off letting two enemies hostile to the United States fight - and presumably weaken - one another?

5.  We know the Syrian rebels have no preferable government to replace the Assad regime and over 50% of their fighters are Al Queda-like groups.  Why would we pursue any policy to assist them?

6.  Will "punishing" Assad with limited missile strikes really deter other countries from pursuing such weapons?

7.  Why are we reacting to the 1,400 dead from the chemical weapons and not the other 80-90,000 who have died from "legitimate" fighting?

8.  Aren't we glad Israel blew up the Syrian nuclear reactor right now?

9.  How do we know missile strikes will not prolong the conflict?  If we have a dog in the fight, why not support that dog and help them win decisively.  It seems like the missile strikes would serve the purpose of "evening" the playing field and thus prolonging the conflict.

10.  Why is the United States concerned with acting "consistently" in the lawless world of foreign policy?  Even if we didn't punish Assad for chemical weapon usage, we could still punish other countries for usage in the future.  Clearly, there are no international norms or governing body who has sway.  There are institutions which can occasionally assist in creating an international consensus, but such consensus is almost always rooted in aligned political interests of the moment.  Just look at the breakdown of international consensus in the following conflicts:

a.  Iran-Iraq War.  Chemical weapons used.  No international intervention.
b.  Gulf War 1.  International intervention because Kuwait was invaded (could be viewed as aftermath of Iran-Iraq war).  No intervention when Saddam used chemical weapons against Kurds.
c.  Gulf War 2.  No international consensus.  US-Brit coalition intervention.  Saddam overthrown.  No evidence of weapons, but could be considered later punishment from prior use.
d.  Libya intervention.  International consensus for invasion.  No illegal weapons involved.
e.  Egyptian coup.  No international intervention.  No illegal weapons used.
f.  Syria intervention.  No international intervention.  Chemical weapons used.  US may intervene on own.

There is no consistency whatsoever, from any of the parties involved.