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.