Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

TOPIC OF THE DAY: So what I'm hearing from lots and lots of liberal bloggers and from acquaintances on political discussion lists is, well, quite simple: that the Republican Party and conservatism are either dying or, at best, moving into semi-permanent minority status. Here's one small example of the left's current triumphalism; there are plenty more. So let's today, among other things, examine this assumption: is Republicanism/conservatism dead? Really?
Heh. Gosh, I don't think so--for example, Joe Biden is doing his best to help us:
"I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, (be) suggesting they ride the subway. … So from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing, if you're in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom it's a different thing." Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, responded to Biden's comments by saying, "Americans should heed the advice of medical experts when determining how best to manage health concerns during the ongoing swine flu outbreak."
There's a lot of things about which Mr. Biden is ignorant...

Remember too that Obama has not ended all Bush/Republican policies--far from it:
"Obama sent more combat troops to Afghanistan, while trying in vain to get the Europeans to fulfill their NATO obligations by doing the same. Despite the hostile anti-Bush rhetoric, Obama has kept intact many of his predecessor’s homeland-security measures. There has been little change with the Patriot Act, wiretap and e-mail intercepts of suspected terrorist communications, and renditions of overseas suspects."

Don't forget that the Republican Party is NOT a "regional" party now, despite what many claim--the GOP in Congress for example has significant numbers of members from the West, the Midwest, etc.

Republican candidate for governor in Virginia Bob McDonnell leads all challengers right now in the polls.

And don't buy the supposed-concern for the state of the GOP coming from liberal sources like the NY Times:
"The debate broke out as the party found itself in a particularly dire state. Mr. Specter’s departure came a week after Republicans lost a special Congressional election in an upstate New York district with a significant Republican voter edge; as such, it underlined the extent the party was contracting, not only ideologically but also geographically."
This is a dishonest analysis, at best. The district at stake in upstate New York was purple by 2009--Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand carried the district overwhelmingly the last time she ran, and Obama carried the district as well. Yet the GOP candidate lost very, very narrowly, in a recount. That's hardly a huge defeat--indeed, the Republicans did better this time around than last time.

And by the way, about Republicans in the Northeast:
"It’s a shame the Republicans can’t win in the Northeast, isn’t it? If you look to New England, Republicans only hold the governorships in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, two Senate seats in Maine, and one in New Hampshire. Looking ahead to 2010, Republicans seem as likely to add to that toehold as they are to lose ground - especially if Senator Dodd is the Democratic nominee in Connecticut. If you widen the net slightly, Republicans are poised to field strong candidates in Senate and gubernatorial races in New York and Pennsylvania, and to pick off the governorship in New Jersey this year."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers were done in by a 7-run Yankee 4th inning last night, losing 8-6. It was a tough pitching matchup for Detroit--the rookie Rick Porcello going against the young, talented and more experienced Joba Chamberlain. Just have to shrug the last two losses off...
The Rangers meanwhile were rained out. And the Cubs continue to lack consistency--they lose to Arizona 10-0, with Ryan Dempster walking a bunch of guys, the bats largely silent vs. Doug Davis, etc.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday's wash

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lose a forgettable one, 11-0 to the Yankees. A great start from Edwin Jackson, who held the Yanks scoreless for 6...but then the bullpen gave up 10 runs in the 7th. One of those nights--and the Tigers could do nothing with Phil Hughes. One of those games...
But the Texas Rangers had a better night--they edged Oakland, 5-4. The Rangers have now evened their season record at 10-10 and have won 4 of their last 5. Tonight's keys: a decent outing from Kevin Millwood; a perfect 9th inning worked by closer Frank Francisco; and some big hits from Hank Blalock, who's coming back strong from last year's injury-filled campaign.
And the Cubs blasted Arizona, 11-3, for a much-needed win. Every Cub starter had at least one hit--but the key to the game was Carlos Zambrano, who pitched 7 good innings, and had a homer, double, and single. The Cubs just need to play more consistently...

Elsewhere today--trouble in Iraq:
"Six car bombings in four hours killed 48 people and wounded 81 in various Baghdad neighborhoods Wednesday, according to Iraq's Interior Ministry."
We're seeing a definite uptick in attacks and violence, much of it apparently coming from Al Qaeda in Iraq. Are they testing the resolve of the Obama administration? If so, what will the administration's response be?

By the way, don't worry, Obama family--US Magazine assures you that they want to cover you, but not like they cover Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; they only want to discuss the important stuff:
"They’re not Brangelina — we’re not covering the minutia of (the Obamas') lives,” said Lara Cohen, news director for Us. “In 2008, it was about telling our readers who Michelle was, that she’s a mom who shops at Target, and doing ‘Barack, he’s just like us.’ We’re covering the big moments now. Moments like the inauguration, getting the dog.”
Yes, yes, the "big moments"...gosh, what if the Obamas next get a cat???

Moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe is not happy about Arlen Specter's departure from the GOP:
"We can’t continue to fold our philosophical tent into an umbrella under which only a select few are worthy to stand. Rather, we should view an expansion of diversity within the party as a triumph that will broaden our appeal."
In other words, social conservatives drove Specter and others out of the party. Or so many think. But it's not true. Conservatives in the party don't say argue that those who are pro-choice on abortion can't be Republicans. They don't demand silence from moderates; they don't shy away from debates on the social issues and what should be the Republican Party's stand on them--far from it, they welcome them. Snowe should read National Review Online's The Corner for a week or so.
But we conservatives, too, have our beliefs; and we, too, are going to express them; and when it comes to the party's platform, we're going to continue to fight to have the party continue to stand for that which is important: a culture of life, and traditional, enduring values on issues such as marriage. That's not a lack of diversity--that's standing up for what one believes in.

On Snowe's column, Ramesh Ponnuru at NRO rightly adds:
"Senator Olympia Snowe writes that "it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash." Really? Abortion, marriage, and the courts were much bigger issues in 2002 and 2004 than in 2006 and 2008. Like Davis, she says she wants Republicans to concentrate on restraining government spending. Apart from everything else that might be said about this prescription, didn't Snowe just vote for the stimulus bill a few weeks ago?"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

Hey, wait a minute--I thought when illegal immigrants came to America, all they did was work and do jobs Americans won't do. Well, but maybe not:
"A new report finds immigrant unemployment (legal and illegal) was higher in the first quarter of 2009 than at any time since 1994, when immigrants were first separated out in the monthly data. This represents a change from the recent past when native-born Americans tended to have higher unemployment rates. The findings show that immigrants have been harder hit by the recession than natives. Although data on immigrants is collected, it is generally not published by the government. This report is one of the few to examine this data."
Such statistics are unfortunate, and no one should take any satisfaction from them. It goes to show how difficult the recession really is. But at the same time, it's also an example of why illegal immigration is a problem for this country.

Meanwhile, in my opinion, this is one of the most important signs of coming economic trends, and hence this is a good sign for the economy:
"Hopeful signs that the worst may be over for the economy boosted Americans' moods in April, sending a closely watched barometer of sentiment to the highest level since November. The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index rose more than 12 points to 39.2, up from a revised 26.9 in March. The reading marks the highest level since November's 44.7 and well surpasses economists' expectations for 29.5. The consumer confidence survey showed a substantial improvement in consumers' short-term outlook, including even their assessment of the job picture."
Better confidence means that people will buy more, which will spur production, which will create jobs...and do so better than any government "stimulus" bill can. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is switching parties. He will become a Democrat, and leave the Republican Party. Well, obviously any politician has that right. And he may very well be right when he says his views are now more in line with Democrats than with the GOP.
But at the same time--don't be fooled. Specter wants you to believe that he's switching mainly due to philosophical reasons, reasons of principle. But then why was he, as recently as the late winter of 2009, still proclaiming that he's a Republican? No--the real reason he's leaving is that he's up for re-election this year, and polls show that he has no shot at winning the PA GOP primary. A recent poll I saw put conservative Pat Toomey ahead of him among Republican primary voters, 51-30. So of course he doesn't want to be judged by Pennsylvania's Republican primary voters. He hasn't left them. Instead, they've left him, far behind. I suspect he'll have a tough road ahead in gaining the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania...

I guess I'd tend to say to Specter, "hey, go in peace"...but on the other hand, Michael Steele today has a point:
"Speaking to CNN's Gloria Borger and Kyra Philips, the Republican National Committee Chairman said it was "not only disrespectful, but downright rude" of Specter to make this decision after the national party made it clear it would stand behind him in a contentious primary fight. "[National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John] Cornyn went out on the line for this man," he said. "For the senator to flip the bird back to Senator Cornyn and the Republican Senate Leadership, a team that stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004, to save his hide is not only disrespectful but down right rude."
And yet, and yet...Chairman Steele, let's just focus now on helping Pat Toomey win this seat in 2010.

BASEBALL DIARY: the big news last night is easy: the Tigers and Justin Verlander. Detroit beat the Yankees, 4-2; and Verlander shut them out over 7 innings, striking out 9. That's the Verlander the Tigers must have, and he showed up last night, big time, in a big spot. Now he has to keep it going with consistency (something he didn't do last year). The Tigers are now 11-8 for the season...not bad.
Meanwhile the Texas Rangers battled back from a 4-run deficit to beat Baltimore, 6-4. They took 3 of 4 on the road, and starter Matt Harrison, after giving up 4 early runs, then held the Orioles cold. The Rangers are now 9-10; maybe there's still hope!
But the Cubs had a bad night, losing 7-2 in Arizona. Danny Haren shut them down, and Ted Lilly was off. The Cubs continue to play poorly; they're lucky they're at .500 still...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday's musings

So there are now 73 confirmed cases of swine flu in North America.
Suggestion: this is why it's hardly crazy to be concerned about illegal immigration in America.
Many suspect the flu epidemic originated in Mexico. Health officials in the U.S. are so concerned about the epidemic coming to the U.S. from travelers coming from Mexico, that they are washing down buses, etc. Then surely this disease can be carried by illegal immigrants coming to this country from Mexico, too. Only one thing: we can monitor and check those coming here legally very easily.

Illegal immigrants, however, we can't.
Janet Napolitano, meanwhile, says:
"If people are sick and if you believe you have the flu ... we're asking people don't go to school, don't go to work, don't go to a place where you can infect other people."

Somehow I don't think illegal immigrants will comply with that request.

BASEBALL DIARY: so, the Tigers did well over the weekend, taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals, including yesterday's taut 3-2 win. Keys for the Tigers: they're getting decent starting pitching, from starters like Armando Galarraga and Zach Miner; Brandon Inge is hitting well; the Tigers' bullpen is holding up; and the speed of recent acquisition Josh Anderson is coming in handy (he's hitting .364, stealing bases, etc.) But now comes a challenge--a 3-game series at home with the Yankees.
The Texas Rangers won two of three over the weekend but...lost a very winnable game yesterday to Baltimore, 8-5. Key: the Rangers had a 5-1 lead but starter Brandon McCarthy couldn't shut the Orioles down, and then the bullpen coughed up the rest of the lead. The Rangers still need pitching...
And the Cubs broke a 4-game losing streak by beating St. Louis, 10-3. It was good to see the Cubs hit some...but even more important was the pitching of Rich Harden, who had another solid game. The hitting will come...but it's the pitching you really watch (and need).

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: meanwhile, there's a lot of criticism of the Detroit Lions' draft selections. Who knows, maybe the criticism will be deserved--but we don't know yet. For example--no, Matthew Stafford probably isn't ready to come in and start this year for the Lions. So what? Few QBs are. But if Stafford in 2 or 3 or 4 years develops into a good, even a pro bowl caliber, QB for the Lions, isn't the drafting of him a good decision?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday's fish fry

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: the Detroit Red Wings took care of business, finishing their opening-series sweep of Columbus, 6-5. The Red Wings took the series, 4 games to none. It was a bit sloppy--the Wings sprung a few defensive leaks, and gave up 2 two-goal leads to the desperate, battling Blue Jackets. But they held their poise, and scored a late goal to win. Now they'll get some needed rest. It's still a long way to the Cup.
And hey, how about the Dallas Mavericks? They now lead San Antonio, 2 games to 1, in their opening series, after the Mavs flattened the Spurs, 88-67 last night. Great energy and defensive effort for the Mavs, holding the Spurs to 32% shooting. Now they've got to maintain that energy and focus into game 4.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lost to the Angels last night, 10-5. Sloppy game--the Tigers made errors, left runners on, walked in some runs with the bases loaded. Not a good night for Edwin Jackson, the Tigers' starter. The Tigers stand then at 8-7 for the season, 3-3 so far on their road trip. Not so bad--but they still seek consistency.
Indeed, it wasn't a great night last night for the favorite teams: the Cubs lost to Cincinnati again, 7-1. Carlos Zambrano didn't pitch too well...little offense...and Micah Hoffpauir made two misplays in right. The Cubs' sloppy play is catching up with them. But give the Reds some credit--they went 7-3 on their road trip, all against division rivals.
And the Rangers lost to Toronto again, 5-2. Not much offense from the Rangers--just two solo homers. Only average pitching at best from ace Kevin Millwood. But give the Jays credit, too--they've won 12 games and have won all five series they've played so far.

MORE ON TORTURE: CNN opinion-maker Ruben Navarette makes several good points today.
First, note President Obama's many flip-flops:
"Obama angered Republicans by releasing the confidential documents, over objections by CIA Director Leon Panetta and Bush administration officials who worried that it would telegraph to terrorists how far U.S. interrogators are permitted to go in trying to extract information. But he also disappointed Democrats by ruling out the prosecution of interrogators who might have engaged in what some define as torture and initially suggesting that the lawyers who had advised them wouldn't be prosecuted either because, as Obama said several days ago, "this is a time for reflection, not retribution." And then, this week, while this middle-of-the-road approach was being applauded by those in the center who smile on nuance, he flummoxed them by reversing course and suggesting that the whole matter of whether the three former Bush Justice Department lawyers who wrote the memos -- Jay Bybee, Steven Bradbury and John Yoo -- ought to be prosecuted should be decided by Attorney General Eric Holder."

Tsk, tsk. And then there's this important point, concerning those who wrote the memos:
"Besides, how do you go about prosecuting lawyers for simply offering legal opinions when asked for them? They've broken no law. A friend of mine who heads up an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union concedes that is new territory but suggests there could be a case if the opinions were intentionally fraudulent or overly ideological. I can imagine the same argument from conservatives the next time a liberal-leaning state attorney general issues a legal opinion supporting gay marriage. Just because a lawyer comes back with an opinion you don't like doesn't make it a crime. If Holder says otherwise, good luck to him the next time he asks one of the hundreds of lawyers in his own agency for an opinion on a politically sensitive matter."

Conservatives should keep making a simple point: you shouldn't criminalize policy differences, or differences of opinion.

THE OBAMA EXPIRATION DATES: those always come with his campaign promises, and NRO's Jim Geraghty has been demonstrating for months now. That is--Obama made many promises during the 2008 campaign, many of which he has broken.
The latest--he promised during the campaign to renegotiate NAFTA; the administration has now announced, though, that it won't.
He's not as honest as you think, folks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

So President Obama's honeymoon with the American public continues:
"For the first time in years, more Americans than not say the country is headed in the right direction, a sign that Barack Obama has used the first 100 days of his presidency to lift the public's mood and inspire hopes for a brighter future. Intensely worried about their personal finances and medical expenses, Americans nonetheless appear realistic about the time Obama might need to turn things around, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. It shows most Americans consider their new president to be a strong, ethical and empathetic leader who is working to change Washington."
But keep in mind: all newly-elected presidents have high early poll ratings. But they don't last.
Ask Jimmy Carter about that. Indeed, ask any U.S. president from the 20th century.
What is interesting though, albeit a bit disheartening, is how many capital observers such as the writer of the piece above, and others, seem to believe that we really must depend on one man, on a government, to steer the country and our lives. Is it really a good thing for us to focus so much on Washington, on government? What about our own lives, homes, churches, schools? I read somebody a few months ago write that visiting Washington was so important because what went on there was "the focus of our lives." Really? That should be the focus of our lives--not our children, not our homes? Sad...

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers rallied last night for a sloppy win vs the Angels, 12-10. It's good to see Curtis Granderson coming on--he hit his 3rd home run in two nights. Others got big hits, too, including Ordonez and Cabrera. But Justin Verlander had another rough start, giving up 7 runs. Worrying...
The Rangers meanwhile lost 8-7 in 11 innings to Toronto. The Rangers made a great rally, scoring 3 in the 9th to tie the game. But, again, they got a poor start from Matt Harrison, and by the 11th the bullpen was out of gas. Pitching, pitching...
And the Cubs lost 3-0 to Cincinnati, mainly due to a great pitching performance from Johnny Cueto. Not much one can do about that--Ted Lilly gave the Cubs a quality start; they'd like to see Milton Bradley start hitting, though (he's 1 for 23 so far this year).

Hmmm--re: Perez Hilton vs Miss California, well-said:
"So wait … how is it Perez Hilton, the gossip blogger who built a career by drawing male genitalia and cartoon cocaine on celebrity photos, is now the media’s official spokesperson on one of the most important civil rights issues in America?...Prejean delivered her no-not-really response in the fumbling manner commonly heard at beauty pageants when a contestant is asked to deliver a succinct answer to a politically loaded question. At any rate, Miss North Carolina took home the crown. Unfortunately for the rest of the country, we continue to be bludgeoned by updates on the “blogging queen versus the beauty queen.” Are we actually expecting a pair of inarticulate exhibitionists to fight this thing to a nationwide accepted finish? Whatever, 24-hour news cycle — do what you gotta do. But you know, you wouldn’t invite LOL Cats to speak on animal cruelty. So please, stop presenting Perez Hilton (real name Mario Lavandeira) as an accredited, universally accepted spokesperson of a generation, rather than the Internet meme that refuses to die."

NBC's Andrea Mitchell today writes a long piece praising the Obama administration's early foreign policy, claiming it's about "listening" more, talking less, and being willing to be humble, critical of past U.S. actions, etc.
I suspect this is very important to many of our progressive friends on an emotional level--probably because they have been so critical of U.S. policies in the past.
But what they fail to realize is that listening, and being humble, does not a foreign policy make.
(Nor, in the end, does it impress our enemies.)

More on torture--today, from NRO's Cliff May:
"Left unexamined was the likelihood that these health professionals — who had been tasked with ensuring that interrogations did not cross reasonable legal, medical, and ethical boundaries— judged that the interrogations did not reach the point that they would “shock the conscience” which, as former CIA director Michael Hayden told Fox News’s Chris Wallace, is the “American standard” for torture. Hayden added: “You have to know the totality of circumstances in which something takes place before you can judge whether or not it shocks the conscience.” Among the released memos is one from then-assistant attorney general Jay Bybee emphasizing that waterboarding “will be stopped if deemed medically necessary to prevent severe mental or physical harm.” Another memo makes clear that supervising physicians were empowered to stop interrogations “if in their professional judgment the detainee may suffer severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” What’s severe? Again, circumstances matter and judgments may differ. Attempting to criminalize such differences is appallingly unethical — not least when done by people who call themselves “ethicists.”...Terrorists are not criminal defendants with a “right to remain silent.” They are not prisoners of war obligated only to recite only name, rank, and serial number. They are “not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.” Those are the words of Eric Holder, Obama’s attorney general (on CNN, January 2002) who added that had Mohamed Atta “survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday's wash

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: the Detroit Red Wings, playing with poise and maturity, blasted Columbus 4-1, and now lead that series 3 games to none. They should wrap it up soon. The Wings are showing why it's hard to beat playoff experience...

The Detroit Pistons, though, were soundly beaten again by the Cleveland Cavs, 94-82, in a game that wasn't really that close (the Cavs led at one point by 29). Detroit media seem to think there's little fight left in the Pistons, and that may very well be true. Maybe the best thing for them will be to end this season, and start anew in the next.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Detroit Tigers took a tough loss, losing 4-3 to the Angels. Keys: starter Armando Galarraga and reliever Brandon Lyon couldn't hold a 3-1 lead; and injuries meant that the Tigers had no pinch-hitters to help along a 9th inning rally. It's tough to win on the road...
But the Texas Rangers edged Toronto and their ace Roy Halladay, 5-4. They got big hits from Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, and some tough pitching, with runners on, from reliever Frankie Francisco. They've won 2 straight after losing 7 of 8...
And the Cubs beat Cincinnati, 7-2, taking advantage of walks and shoddy fielding by the Reds. Key: the Cubs got a good outing from Rich Harden, who'd been struggling.

By the way, speaking of torture--a current American intel chief says harsh methods worked:
"President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists. “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday."
Ah, well, what does he know, right?...

Wow--an FDA official says the agency will approve making the Plan B pill available to 17-year-olds without parental permission:
"The Food and Drug Administration, reversing field, will now let 17-year-olds get the 'morning-after' birth control pill without a doctor's prescription, a government health official said Wednesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agency will announce that it is complying with a federal judge's order that overturns a Bush administration policy. The official was not authorized to speak publicly before the FDA announcement, expected later Wednesday."
Yes, right--why should parents know what their 17 year old children, who then are still living at home, are still the responsibility of their parents (some school districts punish parents if their children skip school), are up to when it comes to sex and pregnancy? See, folks, this is what happens when a liberal Democratic president, and all his appointees, are in power...

INCOMPETENCE IN GOVERNMENT ALERT: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said recently that illegally crossing the border to enter the United States is not a crime.
Bzzzt. Wrong, and an example of shocking ignorance.
But the larger question is this: what of the supposed competence, smarts, brilliance of President Obama? Does it really exist? And if so, why does he keep appointing to his administration tax cheats and those who don't understand the basics of the law????

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

Hmmm. So President Obama leaves the door open to those in the Bush administration who wrote memos justifying the use of torture against terrorists and terrorist suspects in our custody.
Well, here's some questions our progressive, absolutist no-torture-ever friends need to answer:
If your no-torture policy means we don't get information we need, and therefore there's a major terrorist attack again in the U.S., are you okay with that? Are you okay with it if your preferred policy leads to the death of Americans? I don't know that I'm okay with it.
Sometimes harsh interrogation methods must be used, especially against the Islamofascists who seek to attack us. We certainly wish we could protect ourselves without using harsh methods. I'm not sure we can. And anyone who portrays this as an easy decision and an easy question is kidding himself.

Here's a good piece on the torture issue today from National Review's Rich Lowry--especially when he says:
"Rightly considered, the memos should be a source of pride. They represent a nation of laws struggling to defend itself against a savage, lawless enemy while adhering to its legal commitments and norms. Most societies throughout human history wouldn’t have bothered.
The memos cite conduct that is indisputably torture from a court case involving Serbs abusing Muslims in Bosnia: “severe beatings to the genitals, head, and other parts of the body with metal pipes and various other items; removal of teeth with pliers; kicking in the face and ribs; breaking of bones and ribs and dislocation of fingers; cutting a figure into the victim’s forehead; hanging the victim and beating him; extreme limitations of food and water; and subjection to games of ‘Russian roulette.’ ” In contrast, we carefully parsed each of our techniques to ensure it wouldn’t cause “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” This touchingly legalistic exercise at times took on a comic aspect. We could put a caterpillar in a box with a detainee afraid of stinging insects, Abu Zubaydah, so long as we didn’t falsely tell him the caterpillar was a threat to sting. We could put detainees in diapers so long as “the diaper is checked regularly and changed as needed to prevent skin irritation.”
Bingo. Read the whole thing. Some make it sound as if terrorist suspects were subjected to medieval-like infliction of pain. They weren't.

Meanwhile, we've been following here how the Department of Homeland Security is worried about "right-wing extremism." On that, Thomas Sowell today makes a good point:
"According to the same official document, the Department of Homeland Security “has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence.” But somehow they just know that you right-wingers are itching to unleash terror somewhere, somehow. So-called honor killings by Muslims in the United States, including the recent beheading of his wife by a leader of one of the American Muslim organizations, does not seem to arouse any concern from the Department of Homeland Security."
There have been far too many honor killings in this country, that have gone unsolved--read for example about this one.

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: my favorite baseball teams were all off yesterday.
Meanwhile the Dallas Mavericks took it on the chin yesterday, losing game 2 of their NBA first round playoff series to San Antonio. One of the Mavs beat writers was horrified at the loss, and complained that the Mavs were too "satisfied" with winning game 1.
Maybe. But the fact remains, the Mavs did win game 1, and remain in good shape--now they come home for two games in Dallas. You knew San Antonio would come out with intensity in game 2. They made adjustments. There's plenty of time for the Mavs to make adjustments, too. I remain optimistic.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday's musings...

The West's representatives show some spine:
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Israel of being the "most cruel and racist regime," sparking a walkout Monday by angry Western diplomats at a U.N. racism conference."
Does Iran still look like a nation with which we can have fruitful negotiations, Mr. Obama?

"STIMULUS" UPDATE: it's been two months; there's supposedly $60 billion of stimulus money available; yet, in two months, the government's gotten only $12 billion in money out there.
Hence the problem--the government can talk a good game, but it's not very good or efficient at what it purports to do. Conservatives must keep making this point.

Are social conservatives and their agenda what ails the GOP? Maggie Gallagher today says no, and she's right:
"So I'm sitting around watching CNN push the idea (with the help of noted political strategist Meghan McCain and various Log Cabin Republicans) that the key to resurrecting the GOP brand is getting rid of those pesky evangelicals and endorsing gay rights more vigorously. Hmmm. The GOP lost an election because of an economic collapse and a drawn-out war — and social conservatism is to blame? Does this make any sense at all? Gee, are we the stupid party or what?"
No, we're not the stupid party--but there are some silly persons both within it and, more importantly, outside of it. The Log Cabin folks think endorsing parts of the liberal social agenda will get them somewhere with certain elites--they'll soon discover their error.

Victor Davis Hanson makes a good point today concerning Obama's recent foreign trips, his apologies for past American policies, etc.:
"What is strange about the now well-known Obama three-step visits (apologize, then trash Bush, then nod that America was bad before he came along), is that they seem to incite more anti-American choruses rather than fewer, incur more bad will than good, and end with not a single accomplishment, much less concession."
Bingo. See for example Iran--their decision to put this American female journalist on trial came AFTER Obama's attempts to reach out to them.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Cubs were rained out yesterday. But hey, how about the Detroit Tigers? Yes, they lost game 1 on Friday. But Saturday they got a brilliantly-pitched 2-0 shutout from Edwin Jackson; and then yesterday, a rookie starter they're counting on, Rick Porcello, pitched another outstanding game, retiring the final 14 batters he faced, and the Tigers won 8-2. So they took 2 of 3 in the Seattle house of horrors, and are tied for 1st place in the AL Central Kudos too to Ramon Santiago who, while filling in for the flu-ridden Adam Everett, had several big hits. A good weekend for the boys from Motown--now they have to keep it up.
And the Texas Rangers earned a comeback win yesterday, edging Kansas City 6-5. Michael Young hit a walkoff home run in the 9th to win it. The bullpen held the Royals down after starter Vincente Padilla had allowed the visitors to grab a 5-3 lead. The Rangers needed the win--they'd lost 7 of 8. But will their pitching ever settle down?

Hmmm. So apparently at the Miss USA Pageant over the weekend, Miss California was asked whether she supported gay marriage. She said, in the end, no--she believes marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. She was honest. She was asked for her opinion, and she gave it--an opinion that a majority of California voters endorsed at the last election.
In response, she's being denounced by pageant officials from her own state and elsewhere. What--she should have lied? She's not allowed to voice an opinion that differs from that of the Hollywood elite and Perez Hilton??? It's ridiculous. And if her opinion actually cost her the title, it's even more outrageous.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Some Saturday stuff...

So is the Iranian government reacting today with even a bit more positive spirit in response to the Obama administration's recent overtures?????
"An American journalist jailed in Iran has been convicted of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison just days after she was tried behind closed doors, her lawyer said Saturday, dashing any hopes for her quick release. The verdict was the first time Iran has found an American journalist guilty of spying, and it was unclear how the conviction would affect recent overtures by the Obama administration for better relations and engagement with Washington's longtime adversary."
Yes, I suppose it is "unclear"--but only because it appears the Obama administration might well continue to push its failing Iran policy...

BASEBALL DIARY: the Chicago Cubs won a high-scoring battle yesterday against the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-7. Keys: Alfonso Soriano continues his clutch, hot hitting with a game-winning 2 run HR in the 8th. He now has 5 homers on the season. Carlos Marmol was able to hold the lead in the 9th, despite letting the first two runners reach. The Cubs need to hope their pitching stabilizes.
Meanwhile, if only the Texas Rangers had any pitching at all. They got blasted again last night, 12-3 by the heretofore light-hitting KC Royals. A bad start for Matt Harrison. But the Royals' Gil Meche is a very tough and solid pitcher, and he showed that last night, limiting the Rangers to 6 hits.
The Detroit Tigers played in Seattle last night--a place that usually is a house of horrors for them, and it was again yesterday, as Seattle beat Justin Verlander 6-3. One very bad inning for Verlander, who otherwise pitched OK. Seems like he's beset by bad luck--something always sure to surface for the Tigers when they visit the state of Washington...

HE'S AT IT AGAIN: in his speech today to the Central/South American summit meeting, President Obama again apologizes for past U.S. policies:
"In an opening speech to the 34-nation gathering on Friday, the president promised a new agenda for the Americas, as well as a new style. "We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms," Obama said to loud applause. "But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations."
Will he never stop? It's time he stood up for this country, instead of apologizing for it.
Our enemies won't be impressed with his endless apology tours.

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE: the ice in Antarctica is NOT melting, contrary to the Al Gore faction's claims:
"Ice is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap. The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast."
Good luck to those who keep claiming the "debate" is over.

The NY Times' reliably liberal columnist Charles Blow just as predictably defends the Homeland Security Department's report warning of the dangers of growing "right-wing extremism."
Just as predictably, he has nothing to say about the report's vague language, which could easily be used to tar all conservatives...and, even more importantly, he too can cite no concrete examples of active far-right groups and/or that they've actually recruited significant numbers of soldiers, other supposed crazies, etc. Evidence? None.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday's fish fry...

Sarah Palin remains a Republican star.
She draws 3000 people to a anti-abortion event in Evansville, Indiana.
She's a star, and she ought to be--she speaks to the concerns a lot of people have, her life and the way she lives it appeals to many ordinary folks, and the hatred many in the news media and the Hollywood/intellectual elite has for her simply adds to her appeal. Go Sarah.

TEA PARTIES UPDATE: Mona Charen on NRO today provides evidence of biased media non-coverage, or hostility, to the anti-tax rallies:
"Perhaps this snub was intentional. Fox News (becoming a participant itself and not merely a recorder of events) had been beating the drums for these rallies for days, and some pressies clearly regarded them as therefore necessarily illegitimate. One reporter, Susan Roesgen, who “covered” the Chicago tea party for CNN, was downright confrontational with attendees she interviewed, challenging a protestor who referred to Abraham Lincoln with “What does this have to do with taxes?” The man attempted to explain. But the reporter interrupted him. “Did you know that you are eligible for a $400 rebate? Did you know that your state, the state of Lincoln, gets $50 billion from the stimulus? That’s $50 billion for your state.” She then tossed back to the anchor, remarking, “This is clearly not family viewing.” What Ms. Roesgen and others like her do not understand is that some people are interested in more than their own narrow self-interest. Perhaps the protestor she interviewed, who was holding his two-year-old son, is eligible for a tax rebate. And perhaps his state will get a juicy piece of the stimulus money. It is possible, just possible, that such bribes do not influence him. Perhaps they don’t buy his support because he is skeptical that his taxes can remain low when the federal government is embarked on a record-shattering spending spree."
Read the whole thing. She may have a point that conservatives and the GOP will have to, nevertheless, find more than simply taxes to talk about in coming months, as polls don't show taxes to be a huge issue...

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg today shows just how little "evidence" there is for that Homeland Security report railing on "rightwing extremism":
"For instance, the report insists that returning “disgruntled military veterans” from Iraq and Afghanistan are recruitment fodder for extremist and terrorist groups. But, if you follow the footnotes, as John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog did, you’ll discover that, according to the FBI, only 19 Iraq or Afghanistan war vets have joined the “extremist movement” (and some of them may have lied about their service). More than half of America’s 1.4 million active-duty military personal have served in Iraq or Afghanistan (and there are roughly 23 million veterans in the United States). Any way you slice it, 19 yahoos amount to statistical noise so faint you would need one of those UFO-hunting dishes to pick it up."
But we'll have to continue exposing this in the days and the months to come. Many Americans, who don't follow politics and government this closely, will perhaps hear of this report...assume it be true...and will not hear of its subsequent debunking.

By the way, the Obama administration has, several times now, attempted to offer olive branches to Iran...and today, they were rebuffed. Again.
A top Iranian leader said today the time for discussing the nuclear issue is over.
When will the Obama-ites realize that that their methodology of diplomacy with folks like Iran--talks without preconditions--...well, don't work so well?

SPORTS UPDATE AND BASEBALL DIARY: the Detroit Red Wings won their first game of the playoffs, beating Columbus 4-1. The Wings started slowly...but then really picked it up, getting great goaltending from Chris Osgood and outshooting Columbus over the final two periods, 20-8. The Stanley Cup playoffs are a great time. Go Wings!
As for baseball, the Tigers and Rangers both were off yesterday. The Rangers play Kansas City at home tonight, while the Tigers go to Seattle.
The Cubs, however, are still having bullpen problems, as they lost to St. Louis yesterday 7-4. Starter Sean Marshall left with a 4-3 lead; the bullpen gave it up.

Peggy Noonan makes a good point today--bland affluence is over:
"A small sign of the times: USA Today this week ran an article about a Michigan family that, under financial pressure, decided to give up credit cards, satellite television, high-tech toys and restaurant dining, to live on a 40-acre farm and become more self-sufficient. The Wojtowicz family—36-year-old Patrick, his wife Melissa, 37, and their 15-year-old daughter Gabrielle—have become, in the words of reporter Judy Keen, "21st century homesteaders," raising pigs and chickens, planning a garden and installing a wood furnace. Mr. Wojtowicz was a truck driver frustrated by long hauls that kept him away from his family, and worried about a shrinking salary. His wife was self-employed and worked at home. They worked hard and had things but, Mr. Wojtowicz said, there was a "void." "We started analyzing what it was that we were really missing. We were missing being around each other." So he gave up his job and now works the land his father left him near Alma, Mich. His economic plan was pretty simple: "As long as we can keep decreasing our bills we can keep making less money." The paper weirdly headlined them "economic survivalists," which perhaps reflected an assumption that anyone who leaves a conventional, material-driven life for something more physically rigorous but emotionally coherent is by definition making a political statement. But it didn't look political from the story they told. They didn't look like people trying to figure out how to survive as much as people trying to figure out how to live. The picture that accompanied the article showed a happy family playing Scrabble with a friend."

Interesting. How might it affect ordinary Americans, day to day? Noonan continues:
"More predictions. The cities and suburbs of America are about to get rougher-looking. This will not be all bad. There will be a certain authenticity chic. Storefronts, pristine buildings—all will spend less on upkeep, and gleam less. So will humans. People will be allowed to grow old again. There will be a certain liberation in this. There will be fewer facelifts and browlifts, less Botox, less dyed hair among both men and women. They will look more like people used to look, before perfection came in. Middle-aged bodies will be thicker and softer, with more maternal and paternal give. There will be fewer gyms and fewer trainers, but more walking. Gym machines produced the pumped and cut look. They won't be so affordable now."
Interesting. People freely, using their liberty, finding new ways to make it.
Conservatives should have no problem with that.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns...

NFL news: long-time coach of the Oakland Raiders and TV analyst John Madden has announced his retirement. I'm sad, though one certainly understands--he's 73 years old, he has children and grandchildren. But we'll miss him. He was fun, he was funny, he had great insights into the games and made the games fun. Thanks for all the great years and great games, Coach Madden.

BASEBALL DIARY: mostly good news yesterday. The Detroit Tigers played well, beating the Chicago White Sox, 9-0. Key: another outstanding start from Armando Galarraga. He's pitching like an ace. There were key hits from Placido Polanco and Miguel Cabrera. And Tigers rookie pitcher Ryan Perry showed outstanding heat in the 8th inning, though he's still a bit wild. But you can see his potential.
Not such a good day for the Cubs--they lost to Colorado, 5-2. Rich Harden felt good, but didn't pitch well, giving up 4 runs in 3 innings; and on a cold day with the wind blowing in, Cub hitters had a tough day, too. But the Cubs remain 5-3 on the season--not a bad start.
And the Texas Rangers ended their skid, beating Baltimore 19-6. The story of the game was Ian Kinsler, going 6 for 6, hitting for the cycle. Not enough people know about him--he makes the occasional mistake, but he's an outstanding hitter with good speed. The Rangers' offense again shows its stuff.

More Octomom news:
"Nadya Suleman confirms that she’s signed with British production company Eyeworks to do a documentary series (and not a reality show) about raising her 14 children. Cameras will visit Suleman and family six times a year until the kids are 18, Suleman told Life & Style."
Probably because she needs the money.
One really needs to think about the following: sure, she wants kids. But can she support them???

TEA PARTY UPDATE: it appears that at least 300,000 people nationwide--probably more--attended yesterday's rallies. That's a significant number.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Coming out of Wednesday's wash...

"An Associated Press analysis released Tuesday shows U.S. bankruptcy filings up an astounding 46% from March of 2008 to March of 2009. The jump is an even more dramatic 81% since March of 2007. In the South Bend metro area, the news is even worse, reflecting a 64% increase over the same 12 month period, according to figures provided by Bankruptcy Trustee for the Northern District of Indiana Debra Miller."
The hard times continue, despite President Obama seeing "glimmers of hope"...
And by the way, the Fed wouldn't disagree much with that statement:
"Economic activity in the United States contracted further or remained weak amid prolonged recession, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report Wednesday.
Studies indicate that "overall economic activity contracted further or remained weak" although five of 12 districts surveyed noted a "moderation in the pace of decline," the report said."

The National Football League has released its schedule for 2009. Do you notice how much buzz, how much attention, just the release of the schedule gets in the sports world and beyond? That's one reason why the NFL is, right now, in my opinion the most popular professional sports league going in this country.

Anyway, as for my favorite teams--the Indy Colts caught some breaks; their schedule appears to be only the 13th-toughest in the league, they'll play only 5 playoff teams next year, and they open the season at home.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions schedule is tough--they open with New Orleans, then play Minnesota, Washington, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. Maybe the league wants to keep the Lions winless for as long as they can.

Good Tea Party news: if this event, held in Michigan, is in any way typical, there's something happening out there:
"Under sunny skies, they gathered in Lansing today to protest a government they say has grown too fat, overtaxes its citizens and intrudes into their daily lives in matters far beyond its intended reach. The Michigan Taxpayer Tea Party drew at least 5,000 people to the grounds of the Capitol. The well-behaved crowd filled the area out front. Many brought their children, and hundreds were carrying signs with slogans such as "If everyone paid taxes we would all be equal," and "Cut taxes not deals. You have run out of our money." Another one said, "Obama Yo Mama. No Socialism." Most of those at the rally arrived in their own vehicles with very few being bused in, as is common with protests in Lansing."
There was a decent turnout in Iowa, too:
""Frankly, I'm mad as hell," said Des Moines, Iowa, businessman Doug Burnett, one of about 1,000 people, many in red shirts declaring "revolution is brewing," at a rally at the Iowa Capitol. "This country has been on a spending spree for decades, a spending spree we can't afford."

And in Boston:
"Close to 2,000 demonstrators in Boston -- some dressed in colonial wigs with tea bags hanging from their glasses -- held signs and read speeches lambasting government spending since President Obama took office."

Meanwhile, Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security has issued a report warning of the dangers of "right-wing extremism." So how do they define extremism? Well:
"The nine-page document titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," has caused an outcry from veterans groups, Republican lawmakers and conservative activists. "Rightwing extremism," the report defines in a footnote on Page 2, goes beyond religious and racial hate groups and extends to "those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely." "It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration," said the report, which also listed as suspect gun owners and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."
Sigh. Tarring war veterans as extremists is pretty shameful. So is suggesting that the many mainstream conservatives who belong to groups dedicated to opposing abortion or illegal immigration are "extremists" as well.

Now maybe Ms. Napolitano didn't intend this--I note that she has later said, from the linked piece above, this:
""We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not — nor will we ever — monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources," Ms. Napolitano said."

But the fact remains that this reminds one of the Kennedy administration's investigations of "right wing" groups in the early 1960s, and trying to link mainstream Goldwater supporters to the John Birch Society; or it reminds one of the Clinton administration's use of the IRS to audit the books of conservative groups, not to mention trying to link Rush Limbaugh and other mainstream conservatives to the Timothy McVeigh's of the world. We shouldn't, therefore, be surprised at this; liberals come to power and they try to use various means to destroy the Right, by for example claiming that conservatives are going nuts because they're out of power. We're not surprised. But we are ready for this old tactic, and we must expose it for what it is.

By the way--who exactly ARE all these dangerous right-wing crazies out there? Who did this report actually name? Answer: it named one person---Timothy McVeigh.

BASEBALL DIARY: on Tuesday, the Tigers were rained out. The Cubs didn't play. The Texas Rangers played, though, and lost again--7-5 in 10 innings to Baltimore. The Rangers got a good start from Brandon McCarthy. But the bullpen--in particular, Eddie Guardado--faltered in the 10th inning, giving up 4 Oriole runs, and the Rangers couldn't come all the way back from that. That's 5 losses in a row now. It's looking like another poor start to the season for the Rangers, just what they wanted to avoid.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

President Obama today makes a speech, and partly blames "instant gratification" for our economic troubles:
"President Barack Obama acknowledged in a major economic speech Tuesday that "times are still tough" and warned that a culture of "instant gratification" had produced neglect of major national problems that wound up undermining the economy."
Hmmm. Yes. For example, for the last decade, many Democrats urged that banks and other financial institutions ought to make loans to those who perhaps were not that well-qualified for them, cuz hey, everybody ought to be able to have his or her own house, right now. Right?
For some reason, though, I fear President Obama won't hold those Democrats to account. Most of his remarks over the past several weeks indicate he just wants to bash Republicans and the Bush administration on that score.

RIP: Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, 1954-2009. Many younger sports fans today probably don't remember The Bird. But all of us who grew up in Michigan during the 1970s rooting for the Tigers sure do. The Detroit Tigers were nowhere in the mid-1970s. They lost 102 games in 1975. Prospects for the next year were, well, uncertain at best. Our other pro sports teams in Detroit then offered precious little, too. But then came Mark the Bird--totally unexpected, a pitcher who was fun, a phenomenon, who made every start a party, who put the Tigers on the map again, who made that summer of 1976 a lot more fun for Tiger fans than we ever expected it to be. I remember I was enthralled by Fidrych--hanging on every pitch when he started, having my mom make me a Bird t-shirt out of an iron-on thing the Detroit Free Press made available in the paper, glorying in the fact that he started the all-star game.
In the years to come, injuries and bad luck ensured that Fidrych would never reach those 1976 heights again. But he never regretted anything, and we fans always had that one summer, which I still look back on fondly. Mark Fidrych died too soon. But he sure lived a whole lot in the time he had.

Hmmm...CNN's Gloria Borger doesn't like the GOP's (specifically, Newt Gingrich's) response to the Obama administration's handling of the recent pirate/hostage crisis:
"...what about the style of say, Newt Gingrich? The former House Speaker -- often mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2012 -- decided to Twitter his inner thoughts on the pirates in real-time. Last Saturday: "Obama is making a major mistake in not forcefully outlining the rules of civilization for dealing with pirates. We look weak." By Monday, after the safe rescue of the captain, Gingrich was, er, a tad more laudatory: "The Navy seals did exactly the right thing in rescuing the American captain. President Obama did the right thing in allowing the Navy to act." A grudging kudo, if there ever was one. Would it have been better if the president of the United States had publicly engaged with a bunch of teenage thug pirates? It's beneath Obama's pay grade and dignity -- not to mention how it would have added fuel to an already incendiary situation. So how about just admitting that the administration performed admirably in this crisis?"
Er...Ms. Borger: he did. Before the administration acted, Gingrich and many conservatives said Obama should act. When he did act, we said "good job." What else do you want?

What's wrong with Obama's "stimulus" plan? Thomas Sowell tells us today:
"China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. government bonds. But, instead of buying more of those bonds as our skyrocketing national debt leads to more bonds being issued, China has been selling some of its U.S. government bonds this year. The Chinese are no fools. They know that all this unbridled spending — even when it is called “investment” — means that inflation is coming. That in turn means that the dollars with which U.S. government bonds will be paid off will be worth a lot less than the dollars with which the bonds were bought. Governments around the world have played this game for centuries, robbing those who trusted them enough to buy their bonds. Like Bernard Madoff, they call it “investment.” Inflation also means that all the talk about how higher taxes will be confined to “the rich” is nonsense. Inflation is a hidden tax that takes away the value of money held by everyone at every income level."
It all in the end goes back to what Friedrich von Hayek told us years ago in The Road to Serfdom--government intervention in the economy will always create lots of problems. Why? Because government planners can never have all the information they need to prevent all the unforeseen negative consequences sure to come as a result of their intervention.

By the way, back during the Bush years, Democrats loved the Congressional Budget Office and its criticisms of Bush budgets. So--know what it's saying now about the Obama budget?:
"CBO analysts shows several things to be true: 1) for all the talk of transparency and reform, Obama’s budget numbers are phony and based on risible economic assumptions; 2) previous administrations have been wasteful, but the current administration is full of wastrels; and 3) there’s a reason why even committed European social democrats think the president's fiscal plans are irresponsible."
Don't expect too many citations to CBO numbers in progressive writings about the budget anytime soon...

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lost at home yesterday to the White Sox, 10-6. Key: a very poor start from Zach Miner, who allowed 8 runs, and 3 long home runs. Hopefully the cold weather and Miner's inability to feel the ball and thus locate his pitches was the culprit, as the linked article suggests. If not...if Miner will be a liability this's not good.
The Chicago Cubs had a good day yesterday, though, shutting out the Colorado Rockies in the Cubs' home opener, 4-0. It was a raw, cold, rainy day. But the key for the Cubs: starter Ted Lilly, who allowed only 1 hit through 6 and 2/3 innings. Cub starting pitching continues to be a strength.
But pitching is not exactly a strength so far for the Texas Rangers, as they lost their 4th in a row last night, 10-9 to Baltimore. The Rangers didn't deserve to win; they got a poor start from Vincente Padilla, they booted the ball around in the outfield a couple of times, and the 9th inning...Ian Kinsler doubled to start off the inning, but failed to tag up on a deep drive to the right-center field gap by Michael Young (hauled in on a great catch by Nick Markakis). Kinsler would have scored on Josh Hamilton's subsequent fly to center, but he was still on second. He never scored. To his credit, Kinsler admitted he blew it after the game. Ranger fans can be forgiven for saying "same old Rangers."

In other news, in a poll conducted by Vanity Fair magazine, respondents named Angelina Jolie the world's most beautiful woman.
Finally--something most people can agree on.

It appears the Obama administration is about to make a big concession to Iran concerning negotiations over its nuclear capability:
"The Obama administration and its European allies are preparing proposals that would shift strategy toward Iran by dropping a longstanding American insistence that Tehran rapidly shut down nuclear facilities during the early phases of negotiations over its atomic program, according to officials involved in the discussions. The proposals, exchanged in confidential strategy sessions with European allies, would press Tehran to open up its nuclear program gradually to wide-ranging inspection. But the proposals would also allow Iran to continue enriching uranium for some period during the talks. That would be a sharp break from the approach taken by the Bush administration, which had demanded that Iran halt its enrichment activities, at least briefly to initiate negotiations."
Hmmm. Why make this kind of concession? Apparently the administration's thinking goes like this:
"The proposals under consideration would go somewhat beyond President Obama ’s promise, during the presidential campaign, to open negotiations with Iran “without preconditions.” Officials involved in the discussion said they were being fashioned to draw Iran into nuclear talks that it had so far shunned. A review of Iran policy that Mr. Obama ordered after taking office is still under way, and aides say it is not clear how long he would be willing to allow Iran to continue its fuel production, and at what pace. But European officials said there was general agreement that Iran would not accept the kind of immediate shutdown of its facilities that the Bush administration had demanded. “We have all agreed that is simply not going to work — experience tells us the Iranians are not going to buy it,” said a senior European official involved in the strategy sessions with the Obama administration. “So we are going to start with some interim steps, to build a little trust.”

Question: isn't this however rewarding Iran for its long intransigence?
Even if you draw Iran into negotiations, why won't they simply continue their hard-line stance, hoping for more concessions? Will concessions--appeasement?--work? I doubt it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday's musings...

So the U.S. hostage was rescued from the pirates. Excellent.
Good for the Navy SEALS who got the job done. Good for President Obama for authorizing the operation. And I'm glad to hear our progressive, Democrat friends praising the military and being glad for the use of American military force. We didn't hear enough of that the past 8 years...

RIP: Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas has died, at the age of 73.
Phillies fans of course will miss him. But so will the rest of us--he was the excellent voice of NFL Films for years, taking over for the "voice of God", John Facenda, some years ago. He will be missed.

So what do liberal elites, such as NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, think of the fact that you folks don't like the high rate of federal taxation these days? Well, see what he writes today:
"One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so. But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.Thus, President Obama is being called a “socialist” who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration."
Er, well, now, Mr. Krugman--that ignores the possibility of future tax hikes, not to mention all the tax hikes you ignore...such as the raise in the tobacco tax, which directly harms lower-income Americans. But hey, do you care?
Then there's this, concerning frequent progressive whipping-boy Rush Limbaugh:
"Speaking of Mr. Limbaugh: the most impressive thing about his role right now is the fealty he is able to demand from the rest of the right. The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials."

Yes, that's right--when persons say wrong, false, and stupid things about Rush, and thus are forced to apologize because of the ensuing outcry...that's to be compared to the actions of Josef Stalin, who killed millions. Talk about ridiculous!
Nor can elites like Krugman bring themselves to think that you ordinary folks actually BELIEVE in your anti-tax sentiments:
"Last but not least: it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News."
Wow! What about all the organizations and billionaires--ever heard of George Soros, Mr. Krugman?--who have been promoting Mr. Obama???

Always remember, folks--persons like Krugman hate everything about you.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Detroit Tigers wound up sweeping the Texas Rangers, winning yesterday 6-4. The keys for the Tigers--their bullpen held the Rangers down and then preserved the win...and they got some key hits in the 8th, especially from Brandon Inge. The Rangers have to be concerned over their bullpen--it got hit hard twice over the weekend.
The Chicago Cubs meanwhile took 2 of 3 again, for the second time on their road trip; they beat Milwaukee 8-5. The Cubs bullpen continued to struggle a bit; but they did a good job of working Milwaukee pitchers for walks (they got FOUR bases-loaded walks in the 4th), and Ryan Dempster pitched OK and got the win.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Some Saturday stuff...

So the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia, and now an American being held hostage by them, continues today.
So what will Obama do? He's offered few clues so far, and that's probably wise, actually. Keep our enemies guessing. But one thing is for sure. He can't afford to look weak and he can't in any way give in to their demands. That will encourage not just pirates and other international lawbreakers, but especially terrorists, everywhere.
By the way, did you know what the hijacked American vessel was doing in those waters last Wednesday?:
"When Somali Muslim pirates raided the Alabama on Wednesday, the U.S.-flagged cargo ship was cruising the Indian Ocean en route to Mombassa. The 21 Americans in the crew were trying to deliver tons of food and other agricultural materials for the World Food Program, to be distributed among destitute Muslims in that Kenyan port city, and beyond."

The UN appears to have reached a consensus on a statement condemning North Korea:
"Key Security Council nations reached agreement Saturday on a statement that would condemn North Korea's rocket launch and toughen sanctions against the reclusive communist nation, council diplomats said. The five permanent veto-wielding members -- the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France -- and Japan met after Tokyo backed down from a demand that the Security Council adopt a new resolution, the strongest response from the U.N.'s most powerful body.A presidential statement is considered a weaker reaction by the council."
Precisely. One doubts it will have North Korea shaking in its boots.

BASEBALL DIARY: this weekend, two of my favorite teams play each other. Yesterday, the Tigers blasted the Rangers, 15-2. Great keys for the Tigers--solid pitching by Armando Galarraga, and they're getting a hot start from Miguel Cabrera, which they'll need. Obviously not such good news for the Rangers--again their bullpen was roughed up, and they looked shaky in the field.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs should be a little angry with themselves. They've lost two games so far on this opening road trip, both of them very winnable--including yesterday's 4-3 loss to Milwaukee. Keys: the bullpen, which coughed up a 3-2 late, including issuing 5 walks from the 7th inning on. That's just asking for trouble, and the Cubs got just that. A good sign: the Cubs got a solid start from Rich Harden, who struck out 10.

OTHER FAVORITE TEAM NEWS: the Detroit Pistons clinched a playoff spot, beating the listless New Jersey Nets, 100-93. That clinched a playoff spot for the Pistons. They do seem to be playing better, but...can this team do any damage in the playoffs? Maybe they could if they wind up playing Orlando, against whom they've fared very well the last couple of years. If they play the Celtics, however, I suspect they'd have little shot.
And the Dallas Mavericks played well at home again, beating New Orleans 97-89. The Mavericks now have a chance to finish in the 6th spot in the West; that gives them a better chance. Also encouraging is how they won the rebounding battle in this game. There's little time to celebrate--the Mavs go to New Orleans tomorrow and face the Hornets again in a crucial game...

FAILED DRUG WAR UPDATE: getting hold of marijuana for medical usage is now easier and easier to do in California, reports the Washington Post:
"With little notice and even less controversy, marijuana is now available as a medical treatment in California to almost anyone who tells a willing physician he would feel better if he smoked. Pot is now retailed over the counter in hundreds of storefronts across Los Angeles and is credited with reviving a section of downtown Oakland, where an entrepreneur sells out classes offering "quality training for the cannabis industry." The tabloid LA Journal of Education for Medical Marijuana is fat with ads for Magic Purple, Strawberry Cough and other offerings in more than 400 "dispensaries" operating in the city. Los Angeles officials say applications for retail outlets surged after Feb. 26, when U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that the Drug Enforcement Administration will no longer raid such stores. Those pressing for change in drug laws regard the announcement as a watershed in a 40-year battle against marijuana's official listing as a dangerous drug -- a legal fight that, in California, is being waged on ground that has shifted dramatically toward acceptance."
Acceptance, to a decent extent anyway, from conservatives too, one notes...and that's fine with me. We need no longer support the drug war. It's failed. And certainly supporting the medical use of pot falls right within our desire to support individual liberty, as long as this liberty doesn't harm others...and I don't see how the medical use of pot harms anyone else.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday's fish fry...

(That title, by the way, is one I borrow from the late, great Detroit sports columnist Joe Falls, who unfortunately is no longer with us, but who is certainly not forgotten. He used to title his Friday sports columns in, first, the Detroit Free Press and later the Detroit News thusly when he was throwing out various and sundry, loosely-connected ideas...I trust he realizes, wherever he is, that I don't try to rip off his idea but, rather, pay homage to it...)

Anyway, what goes on today? Well, Karl Rove today is gettin' after it--after the gaffe-prone and not-too-honest Joe Biden, that is:
"Karl Rove called Joe Biden a “blowhard” and a “liar” in response to some of the vice president’s comments about the Bush administration. "He’s a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind I would say he’s a liar, but it’s a habit he ought to drop,” Rove said on FOX News. "You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the vice president of the United States.” Rove's comments are the harshest and most pointed yet in an ongoing feud between Biden and Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney. The former Bush adviser was referring to Biden’s comments earlier this week on CNN that he and President George W. Bush once had an exchange in the Oval Office, where Bush said, "Well, Joe ... I'm a leader,” and Biden responded: “Mr. President, turn around and look behind you. No one is following.” "It didn't happen," Rove said. "It's his imagination. It's a made-up, fictional world. He ought to get out of it and get back to reality.”
I say, good for Karl Rove. This isn't the first time Vice-President Biden has made misstatements and, er, stretched the truth. So far he's gotten away with it because the news media has largely ignored it. But they won't be able to ignore this. Biden has a chance to be a real liability for this administration; let's help him along.

Meanwhile...could this become a Bill-Clintonesque-$200-haircut moment for Obama?
A chef is flown over 800 miles to the White House just to make special pizza pies for Obama and staff.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers start the season 1-3, losing to Toronto yesterday 6-2. Rick Porcello, the rookie starter on whom the Tigers are counting, didn't pitch badly. But he gave up a couple of home-run balls, and then the bullpen didn't close the door. Meanwhile Tiger bats were silenced by a highly-touted Jays rookie. However, the Tigers have already won their opener today at home--more on that tomorrow.
And the Texas Rangers began the season 3-0, beating Cleveland 12-8. As always, they hit the ball; Ian Kinsler could become a superstar this season, the way he's playing...he had 3 hits yesterday. Brandon McCarthy gave the Rangers 5 decent innings as a starter. But the bullpen remains a concern, giving up 5 runs in 4 innings yesterday.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns...

There seems to be an anti-tax "tea party" movement growing in America:
"Such is the rallying cry building across the country as taxpayers take a stand against what they see as reckless spending in Washington -- all part of a peculiar and rather sudden movement called "tea parties." Some small, some large, locals converge at the parties to voice their frustration over the federal government's economic policies. The protests have sprouted up from coast-to-coast and city-to-city since late February. The biggest one so far is scheduled for April 15, tax day, when hundreds of cities will play host to a coordinated, nationwide tea-party protest....Jenny Beth Martin, a Republican activist who's helping organize one of the higher-profile tea parties in Atlanta, said Santelli's rant led shortly afterward to a conference call of 22 activists, including herself. From there, she said, organizers put together 48 tea parties -- from St. Louis to San Antonio to Chicago -- on Feb. 27. There have been scattered tea parties since then, but the next nationally coordinated event is on tax day. She said 360 events are on the books for April 15, with "dozens more" scheduled every day -- she anticipates more than 2,000 participants in Atlanta."
We'll need to see exactly how many people show up and take part in this on the 15th.
But conservatives need to watch this movement, encourage it, and take part. A movement filled with anti-tax, anti-big-government spirit? What's not to like?

In any case, don't look for the tea party movement to die down anytime soon.
The WSJ reports today that at least 10 states are seriously considering major increases in sales or income taxes...

Many in the news media, along with many Democrats, seem to believe that President Obama's recent foreign trip to Europe went just wonderfully. Well, really didn't. For example, Mr. Obama claims that a Western victory in Afghanistan is vital, and he wanted more European help there. So how did he do in convincing other European states to do more pitching in?:
" summit succeeded summit, the president did progressively less okay. The central issue at the Strasbourg summit of NATO was Afghanistan. All 26 NATO countries have signed on to the Afghan mission as vital. As yet only Canada, Britain, and the U.S. have significant numbers of fighting troops in the country — yet the president had to mime gratitude for a European promise of an extra 5,000 troops. None of them will be combat troops, and some will be doing merely temporary duty. And the average burden of European defense spending is a mere 1 percent of GDP. What Obama welcomed through gritted teeth in Strasbourg was a mixture of pacifism and free-riding from most European allies. If this continues unabated, it will inevitably weaken military and diplomatic ties across the Atlantic — adding strategic fears to economic nervousness. Very much less than okay."

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: the Detroit Pistons blasted the New York Knicks on the road last night, 113-86. Maybe they truly are better off without Allen Iverson...and, even more importantly, they're getting healthy. I note that Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said the Pistons could be dangerous in the playoffs.
And are the Dallas Mavericks coming on strong at the right time? Maybe--they blew out the Utah Jazz last night, and are hitting shots, creating good shots, forcing turnovers...
They have a chance to move up out of the 8th spot in the conference, and could be dangerous in the playoffs. But they'll have to prove they're better against the West's elite teams.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers are no longer winless--they beat Toronto last night 5-1. Keys: Miguel Cabrera is off to a great start (2 homers last night), the team got a great start from Zach Miner, and the bullpen held up.
And watch out for the Texas Rangers--they're 2-0 after beating Cleveland last night, 8-5. Of course they can hit--but if they can just get a little pitching...and they got another decent start last night from Vincente Padilla.
And the Cubs won their first series of the year, beating Houston 11-6--the first time they've won their opening series in 6 years. They've still got the bats. Lou Piniella sounds a bit worried about starter Ted Lilly, though...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coming out of Wednesday's wash...

The Obama administration's let's-talk-to-the-bad-guys-without-preconditions offensive continues apace:
"In a major departure from previous policy, the United States will join direct talks between U.N. and European powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program, the State Department announced Wednesday. The Obama administration has asked the European Union's international policy chief, Javier Solana, to invite Iran to new talks with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. Washington, which does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, has stayed out of those talks to date. "If Iran accepts, we hope this will be an occasion to seriously engage Iran of how to break the logjam of recent years and work in a cooperative manner to resolve the outstanding international concerns about its nuclear program," Wood said."
Of course, so far the Iranians have done little but thumb their noses at us. Could it be they see these endless Obama overtures as signs of weakness, and thus are holding out for more?
UPDATE: indeed, just today Iran has expressed its willingness to work with the arresting an American journalist and charging him with espionage.

Bad news for American society today:
"Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers, according to data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics. The 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births, of 4.3 million total births, marked a more than 25 percent jump from five years before. Statistics such as these, which include for the second year in a row a bump in teen pregnancies, after a 14-year decline, leave Sarah Brown concerned. She worries about the children born to unwed parents -- about the disadvantages they often face, including increased likelihood of poverty and greater high school dropout rates."
Of course, a major problem we face is that many elites and intellectuals in our society see absolutely nothing wrong with this trend.

BUCK UP, REPUBLICANS Dept: Dodd is in trouble, Corzine is in trouble, as polls have shown recently...and now a Gallup Poll reports that support for a ban on handguns in America is at an all-time low.

BASEBALL DIARY: still no good news for the Tigers so far--they lose again last night to Toronto, 5-4. The good news: new Tiger starter Edwin Jackson, acquired in the off-season from Tampa Bay, was outstanding. The bad news: the Tiger bullpen, a worry coming into this season, blew what was once a 3-run lead in the 8th and 9th innings, specifically Brandon Lyon, the guy we hope will be our closer. This year still feels like last year.
Meanwhile the Cubs lost to Houston in 10 innings, 3-2. They got a very good start from a pitcher they'll again be counting on this year, Ryan Dempster. But the Astros' Wandy Rodriguez silenced Cub bats.

It was bound to happen: the Obama White House is trying to deny something, something however that obviously happened: that President Obama bowed to Saudi royalty at the recent G-20 summit. I mean, there are pictures which clearly show the bow (go to the link I provided above); a columnist in a Saudi-backed newspaper took it as a bow. But I guess the Obama people are now wishing he hadn't done it. Hey, if they want to look silly, they can have at it...

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE DEPT: ah, yes, you had to expect it--liberals and leftists from America go down to meet a leftist dictator (in this case, it was liberal congressmen meeting with Fidel Castro), and the words of praise begin to flow...:
"It was quite a moment to behold," Lee said, recalling her moments with Castro. “It was almost like listening to an old friend,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Il.), adding that he found Castro’s home to be modest and Castro’s wife to be particularly hospitable. “In my household I told Castro he is known as the ultimate survivor,” Rush said."
Ah, it's been 9 decades or so now since Lincoln Steffens went to Lenin's Soviet Union and claimed "I have seen the future, and it works"; it hasn't been quite as long since Walter Duranty of the NY Times hushed up stories about Josef Stalin and his mass killings; and there's been even less time elapsed since Western intellectuals went and heaped praise on Khrushchev, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, Daniel Ortega, etc etc etc. They were wrong every time, their praise exposed for the foolishness it was once the massive human rights abuses and other crimes of each of the supposedly benevolent peace-loving benefactors of the people were exposed. But today's Castro love-fest perpetrated by the latest crop of progressive Americans reminds us, once again, that some things never change.