Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday's stuff...

ECONOMY UPDATE: be careful, Obama administration, of that economic happy talk:
"The rising price of gasoline is putting pressure on cash-strapped motorists and throwing barricades into the path of a speedy economic recovery. The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas edged up to $2.488 on Saturday, from $2.467 the day before, according to motorist group AAA. That marks the 32nd consecutive increase. In that one-month period, the average price of gas jumped more than 20%."
I still think rising gas prices was something that really hurt the Bush administration in the polls...

Our friends on the left say oh, no, they could never escape...but:
"GRADY, AR (KAIT) - Two men convicted of murder, including one in Greene County, escape from the Cummins Unit in Grady according to a state spokesperson. 39 year old Calvin Adams of Greene County and 32 year old Jeffrey Grinder of Washington County escaped from the Cummins Unit Friday evening, according to State Corrections Spokeswoman Dina Tyler. Tyler tells Region 8 News that the escape happened Friday evening, just minutes after the early evening count. Because of the timing, the escape went undected until the next count that occurred near 10:00 PM."

BASEBALL DIARY: ugh, the Tigers played another poor game in Baltimore, losing again 7-2. Once again they were victimized by new Tiger-killer Luke Scott. Dontrelle Willis didn't pitch well, either. Is Baltimore joining Minnesota as a new house of horrors for Detroit??? It doesn't help that the Tigers continue to fail to hit consistently...
But it was a good night for the Texas Rangers, as they won both games of a doubleheader vs the Oakland As, 6-3 in game 1 and 5-2 in the nightcap. Again, the Rangers continue to get solid starting pitching, plus good work from bullpen mates C.J. Wilson and Frankie Francisco. And has anyone noticed Andruw Jones? He hit only .158 last year for the Dodgers, and many thought he was done. All he's doing now for the Rangers is hitting .303 with 5 homers; his home run in the 8th inning won the first game. Quite a turnaround...
Meanwhile the Cubs got another much-needed win, 2-1 over the Dodgers behind starter Ted Lilly. The Cubs have a number of injuries--but they have in fact won 3 of their past 4. They've just got to keep their heads above water...that right now is the story of their season. For the Rangers--keep up the pitching. Right now for the Tigers--score some runs!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday's fish fry

Blogging will be light today...was off for much of the day doing family stuff.
But there's time for a few things...

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lost last night to Baltimore, 5-1. Armando Galarraga, who's been struggling as a starter, pitched better. But the Tigers went only 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Manager Leyland wasn't happy...and rightly so.
But the Cubs lost to the Dodgers, 2-1. They had big chances in both the 8th and 9th innings, but couldn't make them pay off. Frustrating...meanwhile, you have to hand it to the Dodgers, who have barely skipped a beat since Manny Ramirez's suspension. They continue to have the best record in baseball.

SOTOMAYOR UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer has it right today, on what the Right should do:
"Use the upcoming hearings not to deny her the seat, but to illuminate her views. . . . The argument should be elevated, respectful, and entirely about judicial philosophy."
Note though that Sotomayor and her backers are a bit on the defensive today...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

This time in Pakistan, where the Taliban apparently is behind several serious bombings over the past 24 hours. Note that Taliban leaders claim to be doing this because, according to them, the recent Pakistani offensive against them is supposedly being done at the behest of the United States. In other words, fervent anti-Americanism is again at the heart of all this.
Despite the fact that George W. Bush is no longer president. Barack Obama is.
Many of our liberal friends claimed repeatedly that Bush administration policies created new terrorists. So do these events mean that now Obama administration policies are creating them, too?

SOTOMAYOR UPDATE: so some on the left are "uneasy" about her, too--they fear she's not strong enough on abortion rights.
It wouldn't surprise me if this is why Obama chose her--she ticks off some on the left AND the right, thus appearing "moderate", centrist, etc...and thus difficult to beat.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM UPDATE--it's hard to believe California's San Diego County is doing this:
"Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told that they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, Calif. home for a bible study — unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County. "On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county." David Jones told FOX News. "We told them this is not really a religious assembly — this is just a bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all," Jones said. A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited "unlawful use of land," ordering them to either "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit," the couple's attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News. But the major use permit could cost the Jones' thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over."
Unbelievable. We'll have to follow this story. If necessary, this couple should definitely pursue this in court.

FAVORITE TEAM UPDATE: The Detroit Red Wings are in the Stanley Cup Finals again--they beat the Chicago Black Hawks, 2-1, last night in OT to win their Western Conference final series, 4 games to 1. Given all the Wings' injuries, this was an impressive win. Good for Darren Helm, who scored the winning goal--he's worked hard in the minor leagues to earn his shot. Again, good job by the Wings of overcoming tiredness, maintaining their poise, and beating a good, tough young team.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Detroit Tigers won yesterday as well, beating Kansas City 8-3. Another good start from rookie pitcher Rick Porcello, who gave up only 2 runs in 6 innings. Timely hitting came from Placido Polanco, Josh Anderson, and Miguel Cabrera. The linked article wonders whether the Tigers can pull away in this division. Man, don't jinx 'em! It's still early. But yes, with their pitching, with all the youngsters stepping up, with question marks like Joel Zumaya, Dontrelle Willis, and Porcello doing the job, sure...the Tigers can win this thing.
But did I mention it's still early?
Meanwhile, the Cubs have won two in a row--they beat the Pirates yesterday, 5-2, despite Carlos Zambrano's tantum and ejection. They seem to be playing better--maybe they needed a big blowup to get them going (remember Lou Piniella's base-throwing tantrum of a couple of years ago, which led to a big Cub winning streak?) It's also important that Zambrano is back off of the DL.
The Texas Rangers though got pounded pretty good by the Yankees, 9-2. A.J. Burnett shut the Rangers down. It's unfortunate for Texas that they caught the Yankees while the pinstripers are on a hot streak. It would have been better to play them in April...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday's wash

So some claim there's a "controversy" concerning Kris Allen's win.
Did AT&T provide free phones and power-texting lessons at Allen rallies in Arkansas?
Hmmm. But here's why I think we should be cautious: 1] Sounds to me like it was local employees of AT&T who did this--it was not a corporate decision. 2] How many phones? How many texts? How many extra votes did Allen receive? Did this really tip the balance? We don't know that yet at all. Can a few phones handed out at a rally or two in one state make that much difference? I'm not yet convinced.

SOTOMAYOR UPDATE: Newt Gingrich makes a good point:
"Gingrich pointed to a line in Sotomayor's 2001 speech to a Hispanic group in Berkeley that has drawn fire from some conservatives. "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," Sotomayor said in that speech, describing how life experience can inform judicial opinions. On Wednesday, Gingrich tweeted: "Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman.' new racism is no better than old racism."

When it comes time for confirmation hearings, maybe Republicans should ask Ms. Sotomayor how anyone's life--be they black, Hispanic, white--in and of itself helps anyone understand the constitution and the law better than any other life. Could be interesting...

Further: Jonah Goldberg today gets at very well what's wrong with the Sotomayor/Obama emphasis on judges having "empathy":
"Obama and Sotomayor both assume that a firsthand understanding of the plight of the poor or the African-American or the gay or the old will automatically result in justices voting a certain (liberal) way. “I would hope,” Sotomayor said in 2001, “that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” This is not only deeply offensive, it is also nonsense on stilts. Clarence Thomas understands what it is like to be poor and black better than any justice who has ever sat on the bench. How’s that working out for liberals?...More important, who says conservatives are against judicial empathy? I, for one, am all for it. I’m for empathy for the party most deserving of justice before the Supreme Court, within the bounds of the law and Constitution. If that means siding with a poor black man, great. If that means siding with a rich white one, that’s great too. The same holds for gays and gun owners, single mothers and media conglomerates. We should all rejoice when justices fulfill their oaths and give everyone a fair hearing, even if that’s now out of fashion in the age of Obama."

And then there's Thomas Sowell, who further gets at an important point:
Much is being made of the fact that Sonia Sotomayor had to struggle to rise in the world. But stop and think. If you were going to have open-heart surgery, would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who was chosen because he had to struggle to get where he is, or by the best surgeon you could find — even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had every advantage that money and social position could offer? If it were you who was going to be lying on that operating table with his heart cut open, you wouldn’t give a tinker’s damn about somebody’s struggle or somebody else’s privileges. The Supreme Court of the United States is in effect operating on the heart of our nation — the Constitution and the statutes and government policies that all of us must live under."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lose to the Royals last night, 6-1. Edwin Jackson didn't pitch badly at all for the Tigers--they just got beat by the very, very good Zach Greinke of the Royals (who is now 8-1 with 0.84 ERA). No shame in that...
The Texas Rangers beat the Yankees last night, 7-3. That was a good comeback win--the Rangers were blasted the night before. It was important for Chris Davis to hit 2 home runs--perhaps he'll break out of his slump. And again, the Rangers got adequate pitching...
Meanwhile the Cubs finally broke their 8 game losing streak, beating the Pirates, 6-1 in a rain-shortened affair. All played well--but they still have a lot of work to do...

"Sen. Roland Burris was recorded on an FBI wiretap suggesting that he could write a check to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign before the ousted governor appointed Burris to the Senate."
In other words, several months ago, he all of us, members of his own party included.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday's trackings...

...and yes, I'm finally back. I was gone over the Memorial Day weekend in order to take a little trip with the family to San Antonio, Texas. It was fun--we vacationed with some good friends, saw neat places like the River Walk and neat historical sites like (of course) the Alamo.

OBAMA'S SUPREME COURT PICK: Sonia Sotomayor, whose name had been mentioned as one of the possibilities for some time.
Right now I don't yet know that much about her, and have nothing huge against her.
I will say this, though--that two things bother me concerning the reaction to this pick:
1] Almost everyone immediately comments upon the fact that she's Hispanic, and a female. So is this the way it will always be in this country--that everyone immediately has to be classified and put in a box according to gender and ethnicity? Can't people be, er, judged as individuals and on their beliefs??? On, ahem, as MLK Jr. would say, the "content of their character and not the color of their skin"? Sometimes I wonder.
2] Furthermore, Judge Sotomayor says that she always thinks about the real world consequences of her decisions, and others say about her that she has "compassion." Fine. Of course, those two things are what legislators are supposed to think about. Supreme Court justices are supposed to decide cases according to constitutional principles, not according to what she or others believe will be the supposed social benefits of this or that. It would be really beneficial to this country to have a debate over just that kind of issue when it comes to our courts...

Even if you've never, ever, watched the show, I bet you've heard of "John and Kate Plus 8" by now, and especially its two "stars", the parents of 8 children Jon and Kate Gosselin.
I've seen the show occasionally--mostly it's been a rather cute story of a couple's ups and downs and life lessons as they try to raise 8 very young children. Now it's become something different, as perhaps Jon has cheated on Kate, and/or at the very least their marriage is in trouble, and all of this was on display last night as season 5 of the show debuted. If you read the linked article, you can see that the media aren't too sympathetic to the unhappy couple. I heard someone else today remark that watching the show now is like watching a car wreck--something at which you shouldn't be staring...but you can't take your eyes off of it. Perhaps so. And I hope Jon and Kate can work things out. But always remember--no one is forcing them to do this show.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lost two out of three over the weekend, as they mysteriously (they'd just finished winning 7 in a row) lost the ability to hit and score runs, despite facing the not-so-tough slants of Colorado Rockie pitchers. Ah, well...but yesterday, Justin Verlander again helped get the Tigers back on track, as they whacked Kansas City, 13-1.
That's what aces do--halt losing streaks.
Speaking of losing streaks, after sweeping their in-state rivals the Houston Astros over the weekend, the Texas Rangers now have a one-game losing streak, after getting blasted by the Yankees yesterday, 11-1. Not much positive came out of that one--Matt Harrison got blasted, the Rangers failed to hit with runners in scoring position, and the execrable A-Rod had a big day. Well, hopefully better things will come tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are in trouble--they lost yesterday to Pittsburgh 10-8. That's 8 straight losses; they're not hitting or pitching consistently, and the fans are booing. They need to turn it around, and quick.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

So...President Obama makes a major speech on Guantanamo, the war on terror, etc...and:
"President Barack Obama forcefully defended his decision to close the Guantanamo detention camp Thursday and said some of the terror suspects held there would be brought to top-security prisons in the United States despite fierce opposition in Congress. He insisted the transfer would not endanger Americans and promised to work with lawmakers to develop a system for holding detainees who can't be tried and can't be turned loose from the Navy-run prison in Cuba. He spoke one day after the Senate voted resoundingly to deny him money to close the prison."

Well, politically speaking, if the president wants to tilt at that windmill, he can have at it; I'm convinced it's a political loser. But it's also bad policy. I'm intrigued by the following portion of his speech:
"Obama conceded that some Guantanamo detainees would end up in U.S. prisons and said those facilities were tough enough to house even the most dangerous inmates. Obama decried arguments used against his plans. "We will be ill-served by the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue," he declared."

But look, Mr. President, this isn't about "fear." It's about common sense. You claim these terrorists could never escape from one of our prisons; but you can't know that. Why take the chance? Why take the chance of having one of these terrorists loose in this country, endangering our citizens?

By the way, in response to the Obama administration, Dick Cheney makes a good point, saying, basically: the Bush administration kept this country safe from terrorist attack for over 2,600 days. We dare you to do better. Indeed...

A member of the Corner makes an excellent point concerning Obama's speech today, too:
"Obama argues that Gitmo serves as a rallying point for jihadists and al-Qaeda terrorists and that this makes the United States less safe. Question: How does the president address the fact that al-Qaeda struck and struck persistently before Gitmo?"

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers last night won their fifth game in a row, beating the Texas Rangers 5-3. Once again the main story was pitching--Justin Verlander with yet another quality start, allowing only 1 run through 6 innings. The Tigers also got some timely hitting--Brandon Inge hit a long home run; he's becoming a very important player on this team, as his solid defense at 3rd base is key, too. It's got to be a bit frustrating for the Rangers, who came into Comerica Park as a very hot team. But they should be comforted by the fact that they haven't played badly so far in the series. Rather, good pitching by the Tigers so far has beaten good hitting, once proving true that old baseball cliche.
But the Cubs lost 2-1 to St. Louis. Ryan Dempster, the Cubs' starter, pitched well. But Chris Carpenter shut the Cubs down. That's 3 losses in a row for the Cubs; good pitching, it seems, has slowed their momentum.

IDOL UPDATE: yes, small-town-Arkansas boy-next-door Kris Allen won it, horrifying the many Adam Lambert fans out there.
Why did Allen win? Try this: enough Americans just liked him a bit more. Liked what? Maybe it was his passion when he sang, his status as an underdog, his humble persona...all of it. They just liked him. That happens sometimes. In the 1948 presidential election, Harry Truman supposedly had no chance whatsoever to beat the favored Republican, Thomas Dewey. But Truman proved to be an indefatigable campaigner, who never quit and didn't care that people gave him no chance. The great historian David McCullough later surmised that such made a lot of Americans just flat-out like him, that fighter, that underdog. American Idol isn't nearly as weighty a contest, and Kris Allen was no give-'em-hell type. But he hung in there, and stayed true to who he was. A lot of voters just liked him. Maybe that's all it was...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday's wash

Iran once again gives the Obama administration a headache:
"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran test-fired a new advanced missile Wednesday with a range of about 1,200 miles, far enough to strike Israel, southeastern Europe and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The announcement will not reassure the U.S. government, coming just two days after President Barack Obama declared a readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against Iran if it shunned U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Obama said he expected a positive response to his outreach for opening a dialogue with Iran by the end of the year."

Hmmm. Yes, we know President Obama "expects" that.
The question now, however, increasingly why he still does.

"A quarter of American cell phone users admit to texting while driving, despite bans in seven U.S. states and several serious accidents recently, according to a report on cell phone use released on Wednesday."
Tell me, is anyone surprised by this? When I'm out, I still can see many drivers talking on their cells while driving. If they're willing to talk, they're probably willing to text, too. Normally, conservatives are all for liberty--but given that you put others in danger when you text and drive and thus become more likely to have an accident, in this case we need to have these laws enforced.

OBAMA UPDATE: National Review's editors point out even more problems with the auto emissions standards the administration announced yesterday...
"Announcing his plan to instate strict caps on auto emissions — a move his own administration says could add around $2,000 to the cost of each new vehicle by 2016 — Obama said, “If you buy a car, your investment in a more fuel-efficient vehicle as a result of this standard will pay off in just three years.” Obama’s hard sell — “This is a winning proposition for folks looking to buy a car” — is premised on some sketchy math. For one thing, experts outside the administration say the added per-vehicle cost could go as high as $8,000. You can’t save money getting more miles to the gallon if you can’t afford the car in the first place. For another, those estimated savings are based on the administration’s ability to predict gas prices seven to ten years into the future. If gas is still as cheap as it is now, savings on better mileage could be minimal. Even if gas prices go up, the savings Obama predicts might not materialize. Cars that are more fuel efficient are cheaper to drive, increasing the likelihood that people will drive more. That wouldn’t just offset the savings — it would also offset promised reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and oil imports, to say nothing of adding to congestion. Then there is the evidence that tighter fuel-economy standards yield auto fleets that are more dangerous in accidents. The easiest way to make a car more fuel efficient is to make it lighter. Researchers from institutions as diverse as the Brookings Institution, the National Research Council, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have shown that after the first federal fuel-economy standards went into effect in the 1970s, cars got lighter and traffic fatalities increased as a result. The National Research Council study found that federal fuel-economy standards contribute to about 2,000 deaths per year."

Gosh, wonder why the administration didn't mention any of that.
Bottom line--when the government intervenes in the economy, as it did here, and predicts all these wonderful things in the future, these are predictions that cannot be made with accuracy. The government cannot know all the economic conditions we'll be facing in years to come, and it cannot have all the information needed to know just how its intervention will affect the economy. Again, this is all as Friedrich von Hayek predicted so long ago...

WHY WE'RE GLAD ARLEN SPECTER LEFT THE GOP DEPT: why? Because now he's defending Nancy Pelosi...
"Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) took the opportunity Wednesday to defend House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has come under fire in recent weeks over a controversy surrounding when she was told of the use of enhanced interrogation techniques being used by the CIA. "The CIA has a very bad record when it comes to — I was about to say 'candid'; that's too mild — to honesty," Specter, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a lunch address to the American Law Institute. He cited misleading information about the agency's involvement in mining harbors in Nicaragua and the Iran-Contra affair."
Never mind that Speaker Pelosi has something like five different versions of her CIA briefing way back when. I suspect Sen. Specter is still worried about winning over Pennsylvania Democrats...

"The federal government is spending $178,000 to better understand why drug-abusing prostitutes in Thailand are at greater risk for HIV infection, an endeavor taxpayer watchdogs are calling a huge waste of American taxpayers' money."
And so it is...

GOP UPDATE: questions of terminology...
"Republican Party leaders are trying to avoid a public confrontation over a GOP-led effort to rename the Democratic Party the "Socialist Democrat" party. The Republican National Committee is slated to vote on several resolutions Wednesday. Leaders already have softened one that would have pointedly criticized Republicans who supported recent billion-dollar bailouts. Party Chairman Michael Steele and others say the party should also drop the renaming resolution and focus on more serious problems."
I tend to think Steele is right here.
We'll never get most in the media to go along with this; instead, this will simply give our enemies more ammo to label us "extreme." Certainly some of what Obama and co. seek to do might fit under the label of socialism; but others are not, and we don't want to destroy the meaning of the word "socialist." Let's just focus on outlining the meanings and likely consequences of Democratic proposals, and not act like labels are the be-all and end-all of politics...

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers beat the Rangers last night, 4-0...and the entire story is Dontrelle Willis. Last year, he bombed...he walked 35 men in 24 innings and never won a game. And that after the Tigers depended on him to be one of the anchors of the rotation and give them 15 wins, at least. But there were injuries, an anxiety disorder...but now, perhaps that's all behind him. Last night he looked comfortable, threw strikes (he walked only two in 6 innings plus) and held a red-hot team to 1 hit. A good night for the Tigers. Let's hope the D-Train can keep it up.
The Cubs however lost 3-0 to St. Louis. What can one say, it was a great performance by Cardinal pitcher Joel Pineiro--he threw only 28 balls to the 28 batters he faced. But the Cubs have now lost 2 in a row; they need to stop the slide.

FAVORITE TEAM UPDATE: the Detroit Red Wings took the Chicago Black Hawks' best shot last night in game 2 of their Western Conference finals series (the Hawks outshot them, 39-38)...but the Wings capitalized on some breaks and Chicago miscues to win again, 3-2 in OT and go up 2-0 in the series. Give credit to the Black Hawks, who played well. But once again the Wings' poise, experience, and ability to transition to an odd-man rush when the other team turns over the puck won the day for them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

CIA officials are, privately, off-the-record, pushing back against the Obama administration today:
"Battered by recriminations over waterboarding and other harsh techniques sanctioned by the Bush administration, the CIA is girding itself for more public scrutiny and is questioning whether agency personnel can conduct interrogations effectively under rules set out for the U.S. military, according to senior intelligence officials."
If there's a major terrorist attack upon this nation in the next year or two, the Obama administration better ready itself to answer some tough questions.

GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT UPDATE: the Obama administration announces new fuel-efficiency regulations today on American cars...
"The new requirement is estimated to cost consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle starting in 2016, but drivers will be saving at the pump. Obama estimated that a typical driver would save $2,800 over the lifetime of a car."
So that will be the justification--that it will mean less oil usage and that you'll save money on gas. Note however that the savings on gas over a car's lifetime is just an estimate, and that the price of gasoline can be powerfully affected by events out of our control--terrorist attacks, events in the Middle East. New regulations like this will cost everyone a lot of money, folks. Government regulation isn't free.

Democratic Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid is up for re-election soon.
How do polls look for him? So far, not so good:
50% of Nevadans disapprove of him, according to a Mason-Dixon poll.
Right now, 35% of Nevadans would vote to re-elect him...
45% would definitely vote to un-seat him! Wow...
And by the way, also relevant to this subject is this: Democrats don't agree with the Obama administration's plans to close Gitmo:
"Senate Democrats threw cold water on President Obama's plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center Tuesday, pulling money for the closure from a $91 billion war spending request and publicly opposing the transfer of any detainees to U.S. soil. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats not only oppose the release of detainees into the United States but also oppose the transfer of detainees to U.S. prisons. "We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States," he said, adding: "Part of what we don't want is for them to be put in prisons in the United States. We don't want them around in the United States."
Watch 'em fight...

Big Democratic/Hillary Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu convicted of violating campaign finance laws.
The key: remember this when your Democrat friends accuse the GOP of being "corrupt."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday musings

OBAMA UPDATE: is President Obama starting to "own" the economy? Some in Elkhart, IN, upon which is focusing as a good example of economic trouble, suggest that the "stimulus" bill hasn't brought the jobs and fast relief promised.

And by the way, any see Obama's speech yesterday at the University of Notre Dame as some kind of triumph for the pro-choice position. But Ramesh Ponnuru points out today correctly that this is incorrect:
"President Obama's speech at Notre Dame yesterday is another sign that pro-lifers are slowly winning the political battles over abortion. It was not the speech of a man who is confident that his position is right and popular. It was the speech of someone who is trying to minimize a problem—which is what the association with abortion assuredly is for the Democratic party. . . ."
Indeed--read the text of Obama's speech.
There's barely any defense of the pro-choice position in it.
He mainly urges everyone to disagree with civility. Ponnuru is right.

Are Republicans/conservatives in deep, deep trouble? Nope:
"We've been hearing a great deal about how the troubles of the GOP have reduced the party to a mere one in five voters. Eh, maybe not, Gallup reports. They asked, "In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent? (Asked of independents: As of today, do you lean more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?)" Their most recent poll, conducted May 7–10, splits 32 percent for each party, with 34 percent for independents. When they press the independents for which party they lean towards, it comes out to another split, this time 45 percent for each. In early April it had been 53 percent for Democrats, 34 percent for Republicans."

SPEAKING OF HATE, INTOLERANCE, ETC DEPT: did you know that David Axelrod, top adviser to President Obama--you know, the head of the administration that declares it's all about hope, love, and change--referred to Miss California, Carrie Prejean, as a dog?
All because she doesn't agree with many Democrats on the gay marriage question.
Why can't we all just get along?

BASEBALL DIARY: so the Tigers continue to be weekend champs, beating Oakland yesterday 11-7 to sweep another weekend series, and hopefully put the Minnesota nightmare behind them. It was good to see players such as Curtis Granderson and Ramon Santiago step up (who thought HE would be a power guy!) and to see Zach Miner do a solid job in relief. It is troubling though to see Armando Galarraga, earlier in the season one of the Tigers' most dependable starters, struggle yet again and fail to make it out of the first inning. But--there are rumblings that Jeremy Bonderman might return soon...

FAVORITE TEAM UPDATE: the Detroit Red Wings took a 1 game to none lead in their Western Conference finals series against the Chicago Black Hawks, winning yesterday 5-2. Nothing surprising from the Wings--they took advantage of the odd-man rushes and opportunities the younger, less-experienced Black Hawks gave them. The Hawks gave the Wings a lot of trouble this season, though, so this series has a long way to go. But it was good to see the Wings come off of a tough series, yet take of business.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: so Tony Kornheiser will give up his duties on ESPN's MNF--apparently he has a fear of flying--and former Raiders/Bucs coach Jon Gruden will replace him. This may be a very good change--Gruden has an interesting personality, speaks well, and certainly knows the game. I'll miss Kornheiser a little bit, though--I thought he did a good job at getting at the larger importance of games and matchups, and at asking the questions ordinary fans wanted answered. But it will be interesting to see how Gruden does. MNF is no longer the huge attraction and event it used to be--the fact that it's now on a cable network, that the real prime games go to NBC for its Sunday night games, and the passing of Howard Cosell and such giants all have contributed to that. It will be interesting to see if Gruden's arrival and his outspoken ways can help ESPN make Monday Night Football a big deal again...

MORE SPORTS--MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL'S WORLD SERIES UPDATE: hey, it's-about-time-kinda good news time...:
"Major League Baseball is going to turn back the clock for the start of World Series games this season. The first pitch of World Series games will happen shortly before 8 p.m. this season, shortly after Fox's pregame show, which will now begin at 7:30. The new first pitch time is approximately 40 minutes earlier than World Series games in past years. This year will mark the first time in more than 30 years a World Series game will begin before 8 p.m., according to"
Excellent--now maybe people who just can't stay awake until midnight or 1 in the morning will be able to see more of these games, and they won't always go until the wee hours. Good call, MLB...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday stuff...

BASEBALL DIARY: last night was a much better night for the Tigers, as they pounded Oakland 14-1. They hit two grand slams--one came from Brandon Inge, the other from Ryan Raburn. And they got a very good start from Edwin Jackson. Let's hope the weird stuff that always happens to them in Minnesota is behind them...
In other games, the Cubs were rained out. The Rangers beat the Angels, 10-8, in a slugfest. It was a big win for the Rangers; they need to prove they can beat perennial Western division champ LA...and it was nice to see the power from Kinsler and Hamilton. It was a little worrying though to see the Angels put up 5 runs after two were out in the 9th. The Rangers still won...but that could build momentum for the Angels going into today. We'll see if the Rangers are good enough to prevent that.

In other news...hundreds of pro-life activists are flocking to the University of Notre Dame campus.
There they will picket President Obama's commencement speech tomorrow.
One good thing for conservatives about the coming of President Obama: he has, perhaps, awakened the pro-life, anti-abortion movement, in a way perhaps it needed.

Wow--even the NY Times has to admit that, when it comes to national security issues, "hope and change" hasn't meant that much change, after all:
"President Obama’s decisions this week to retain important elements of the Bush-era system for trying terrorism suspects and to block the release of pictures showing abuse of American-held prisoners abroad are the most graphic examples yet of how he has backtracked, in substantial if often nuanced ways, from the approach to national security that he preached as a candidate, and even from his first days in the Oval Office. Mr. Obama’s opening gambits as president were bold declarations of new directions, from announcing the closing of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to sweeping restrictions on interrogation techniques. He advertised both as a return to traditional American values, after the diversions taken by George W. Bush to the detriment of America’s image abroad and of itself. But as he showed this week in the way he dealt with those two hard cases, Mr. Obama has begun to scale back. Faced with the choice of signaling an unambiguous break with the policies of the Bush era, or maintaining some continuity with its practices, the president has begun to come down on the side of taking fewer risks with security, even though he is clearly angering the liberal elements of his political base."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday's fish fry

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers get swept at Minnesota, losing yesterday 6-5. Ugh. They waste a 6 plus inning, 13 strikeout, shutout performance by Justin Verlander. The bullpen then blew the game, giving up walks, big hits, and a 6-run seventh inning. Once again, the Metrodome is the haunted house. And as the linked article suggests, who are the Tigers? A good team? We were starting to think so, after last weekend's sweep at Cleveland. But now the team is back to just 1 game over .500, and not sure who they are...
But man, when it comes to the Texas Rangers, people are going to start asking--who are these guys? The Rangers won again yesterday, 3-2; they've now won 10 of 12. Once again, the team got a great start from Matt Harrison...and clutch home runs in the 9th inning from Hank Blalock and Chris Davis to pull the game out. They're getting decent pitching...look out...
Though we'll know more after this weekend--the defending division champ Angels come to town.
And the Cubs won again, their 4th straight, beating San Diego, 11-3. The Padres look to be in trouble...they've lost 11 straight on the road. But the Cubs did well taking advantage of it. Ryan Dempster gave them good starting pitching, going 7 strong innings. Bobby Scales, a career minor-leaguer, had two doubles; he's helping fill in for Aramis Ramirez. Just keep your head above water, Cubbies...

FAVORITE TEAM UPDATE: whew! The Detroit Red Wings took game 7 of their series with the Anaheim Ducks, winning 4-3 on a late Dan Cleary goal, and they advance to the conference finals. It was impressive--no, not the fact that the Wings blew a 2-0 lead and the game came right down to the end. Rather, it was that they kept their poise...and, though the announcers on Versus suggested the Wings looked tired early in the third period, they regained their footing, and put on most of the pressure in the last 10 minutes of the game. That's what champions do.

So President Obama will continue using military commissions to try accused terrorists, and won't release photos of detainees--what does this all mean? Rich Lowry has it right:
"Dick Cheney is getting vindication from an unlikely source — the very Obama administration he’s bedeviling in all his TV interviews. The former vice president has dared to defend the Bush administration from the charge it ran a torturing, Constitution-shredding criminal enterprise for years under the guise of the “War on Terror.” He’s been duly subjected to the Two Minutes Hate — on an endless loop — from all the people who want him to slink to an undisclosed location never to emerge again....No, this is a job for a man with stomach of steel, who can take satisfaction in Obama’s Cheney-like turn. Obama has decided to “delay” the release of photos of detainee abuse — maybe secrecy does have an important role in national-security affairs. Obama is considering indefinite detention of terrorists on U.S. soil and reviving military commissions — maybe the system of detention and trials the Bush administration created wasn’t so lunatic after all."

And remember--when Democrats try to tell you that the Republican Party is full of "liars", ask them about Nancy Pelosi. Leon Pannetta, the Democrat who is now director of the CIA--even he suggests she's not telling the truth when she suggests the CIA lied to her and didn't tell her that waterboarding etc went on.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

Again, today is a light blogging day because I have so much grading to do. But here are a few items...


That means the loss of a good number of jobs.


The Tigers lose 14-10 to the Twins in extra innings. The Metrodome house of horrors continues to live up to its reputation...

But the Rangers rallied in the 11th inning to win again, beating Seattle 6-5. Hank Blalock is playing an important role for this team...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday's wash

ECONOMY WATCH: the Obama administration continually tries to talk up the notion that recovery is coming. They'd better beware...
"Retail sales fell for a second straight month in April, a disappointing performance that raised doubts about whether consumers were regaining their desire to shop. A rebound in consumer demand is a necessary ingredient for ending the recession."
Update--this news ought to make the Obama people quiet the happy talk, too:
"The number of U.S. households faced with losing their homes to foreclosure jumped 32 percent in April compared with the same month last year, with Nevada, Florida and California showing the highest rates, according to data released Wednesday."

MEDIA BIAS UPDATE: here's an MSNBC headline on its website--"Cheney Attacks May Not Help Republicans." But read the whole story...
...and what you see is not one piece of solid evidence that his criticism of the Obama administration won't help Republicans. Not one. But what else is new...

DEMOCRATIC PARTY CORRUPTION UPDATE: the next time a Democrat tries to claim Republicans are corrupt, ask them to comment on Democratic Rep. John Murtha...
"Robert C. Murtha Jr. has made a sizable living for years working with companies that rely on Pentagon contracts over which his uncle, Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., holds considerable sway. He has maintained that his uncle played no role in his defense-related work, much of it secured without competition. Newly obtained documents, however, show Robert Murtha mentioning his influential family connection as leverage in his business dealings and holding unusual power with the military. The documents add to mounting questions about Rep. Murtha, whose use of federal earmarks to help favored defense companies and whose relationship with a former lobbying firm are under scrutiny by federal investigators."

TERRORISM UPDATE: by the way, what really recruits terrorist wannabes to the cause?
Easy--terrorist victories--not our own supposed faults and mistakes, as Rich Lowry highlights well today.

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: the Detroit Red Wings lost game 6 at Anaheim, 2-1. So now it's on to a deciding game 7. I didn't the Wings played horribly last night...but Anaheim played with just a bit more energy and desperation. They faced elimination, and it showed; and this proves why the old adage can be true, that clinching a playoff series on the road is one of the toughest things to do. Still. the Wings almost came back to tie the game, and still fired 38 shots on Duck goaltender Jonas Hiller. At home, the Wings should have the energy they need. Or at least, they'd better...

BASEBALL DIARY: it wasn't a great night for the Tigers, either, as they lost to Minnesota, 6-2. Minnesota's Metrodome, too, has historically been a house of horrors for the Tigers; seems like they frequently struggle there, lose bizarre games there, etc. Last night was no different--Tiger hitters had all kinds of chances to drive in runs, but didn't. Worrisome sign: Armando Galarraga is struggling big time, allowing 5 runs or more in each of his last four starts. All this needs to improve.
But the news was good on other fronts. The Texas Rangers have now won 8 of 10, beating Seattle 7-1 last night. Josh Hamilton came off the DL and homered. Scott Feldman to me is the big story--another quality start for him, allowing only 1 run in 6 plus innings. If the Rangers keep getting decent pitching...
And the Cubs won, beating San Diego 6-2. The team got another good start from Rich Harden; he's won 4 starts in a row. And maybe Milton Bradley is starting to hit--he hit two long home runs...perhaps if he gets hot, it will make up for the absence of Aramis Ramirez.

MAUREEN DOWD UPDATE: so a lot of folks are highlighting her unbalanced column today, mainly I guess because she said this about Dick Cheney...
"No matter if or when terrorists attack here — and they’re on their own timetable, not a partisan red/blue state timetable — Cheney will be deemed the primary one who made America more vulnerable."
So what she's saying is that Cheney's public statements today are somehow making America more vulnerable in the future to terrorist attack. That is indeed amazing.
What's even more amazing is that she doesn't explain why or how!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday's trackings...

I'm busy grading final exams today, so some of these will be a bit brief, but there are definitely are some things to track today...

SCENES FROM THE RECESSION, INDIANA VERSION: home prices continue to fall...
"Home prices fell in nearly nine out of every 10 U.S. cities in the first quarter of this year as first-time buyers looking for bargains dominated the market.
The National Association of Realtors said today that median sales prices of existing homes declined in 134 out of 152 metropolitan areas compared with the same period a year ago. Prices rose in the other 18 cities. The median home price in Indianapolis was down 11.8 percent, to $94,600."

OBAMA WATCH: recently, in an interview with the NY Times Magazine, the president said something that was, well, rather scary concerning care for the elderly and decisions we will have to make...
"Another subject the president discusses with the Times is the problem of end-of-life care. He tells the story of his grandmother, who got an expensive hip replacement, then died two weeks later. President Obama says he “would have paid for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother.” At the same time, however, he notes that “whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question.” Furthermore, he recognizes that Americans don’t want to hear that we will not provide expensive late-stage care, a la England. As the president puts it, “If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn’t have a hip replacement, and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life — that would be pretty upsetting.” His answer to this question, however, is also somewhat upsetting — and not just because he calls denying care to the terminally ill “very difficult” and “upsetting,” but never “something we won’t do.” He says that “there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.” And not only will this be difficult, he claims, but he has trouble imagining “the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.” It is unclear what this group will look like, but the notion of some empyrean body, developed outside the normal political channels, making health-care decisions for the country, is a notion that makes me very, very nervous."

Me, too. Do we want the government to possibly have the power, some day, to tell us that, even though we want our elderly parents to have a certain procedure done, they can't have it?

$800,000 in "stimulus" money went to re-pave a Pennsylvania airport runway that is used a whole three times per day.

Meanwhile, dead folks are getting government checks:
"Millions of Americans on Social Security are receiving $250 checks as part of the president's stimulus plan — including an Anne Arundel woman who died more than 40 years ago.
The woman's son, 83-year-old James Hagner, said he got the surprise when he checked his mailbox late last week....Social Security representatives said there is a good explanation. Of the about 52 million checks that have been mailed out, about 10,000 of those have been sent to people who are deceased. The agency blames the error on the strict mid-June deadline of mailing out all of the checks, which didn't leave officials much time to clean up all of their records."

"The 2008 Report on Terrorism of the National Terrorism Center documents not only a decline in terror attacks in Iraq, but an 18% decline in attacks worldwide, and a 30% decline in fatalities. The authors estimate that the relative pacification of Iraq accounts for only half the measured reductions. The Bush administration’s strategy of finding, harassing, and killing terrorists has doubtless played its role, making the lives of terrorists nasty, brutish, and brief. But another factor in the decline of terror is 4th Generation War — the factor that led some to hypothesize its invincibility. In 2008, 61% of the victims of terror were civilians, and a rising percentage of these were children. The same Ethernet that broadcast the grievance of the terrorists deglamorized them."
No wonder the Obama administration is copying more of the Bush administration's tactics in this war than Obama's backers care to admit...

Hey, the Dallas Mavericks last night showed a lot of fight and a lot of heart, beating the Denver Nuggets 119-117 to avoid elimination in the NBA playoffs. What a performance by Dirk Nowitzki--44 points, 13 rebounds. A lot of people undoubtedly thought the Mavs, down 3 games to none in this series going into last night, stunned by the heartbreaking loss in game 3, would just mail it in, get beat, and let the season end. But they didn't. The odds are still heavily against them, as they still trail 3-1 in the series and now have to go to Denver, where the Nuggets have yet to lose in this year's playoffs. But at least the Mavs have one more shot, and they can always know that they went down fighting...

Well, it certainly may be, as William C. Rhoden suggests, that Brett Favre is considering un-retiring...again...and playing for the Minnesota Vikings next season because that's where he always wanted to be anyway.
But I wish Favre wasn't doing this. Last year, sure, I thought it was great that he came back; I could understand that he hadn't gotten the game out of his blood, that he wanted to compete, and to me it was fun watching him play.
But now, a possible second un-retirement? It just starts to look ridiculous, and to make Favre look ridiculous. Don't do it, Brett.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday musings

"The U.S. budget deficit for the current year will be about four times last year's, reflecting government spending to ease the deep recession....The deficit is now forecast to climb by $89 billion to $1.84 trillion in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, meaning the government will be borrowing 46 cents for every dollar needed to run the government under the Obama administration's plan."

And hey, in connection with that, let's keep in mind some important statistics, which can be found here:

--that, for example, Medicare, created in 1965, wasn't supposed to cost that much; but now it costs $455 billion.

--same thing for Medicaid; it now costs us $227 billion annually.

--and remember SCHIP? Nice, not too expensive program, its backers assured us, finely targeted at poor children only. Really? And yet now, families who earn income at 300% of the poverty level qualify to get SCHIP funding. In New York, you qualify for it even if you earn money at 400% of poverty. Concretely, this means that a family of 4 which earns over $63,000 per year qualifies for SCHIP!!!

Remember all this when Democrats want to add single-payer, government-run health care to our budget, and especially remember it when they assure us it won't cost that much.

By the way, I'm sure many of you have had Democrats get in your face about Republicans/conservatives/George W. Bush/all three of these supposedly "lying" about the war in Iraq, the war on terror in general, etc etc etc. So next time, ask them what they think about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's obvious lies. Pelosi claims:
"In one version, she says she simply was not informed that any waterboarding was under way. In another version, she says she learned about the waterboarding not at the 2002 meeting but in 2003, when one of her staffers attended a briefing for Rep. Jane Harman on the subject. Pelosi says she “concurred” with the letter Harman subsequently sent to the CIA’s legal counsel objecting to the practice — but she apparently didn’t concur strongly enough to sign the letter or to send one of her own. If Pelosi really believed that human-rights violations and war crimes were being perpetrated under her nose, with funds she was appropriating, mightn’t she have bothered to jot down her signature on a letter? But the political mood was different in 2003. It took Pelosi until the run-up to the 2006 elections to discover the courage of her alleged convictions."

But the truth is this:
"To answer the inevitable question, we turn to recently released CIA records. What Pelosi knew: “Briefing on EITs, including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed.” When she knew it: September 2002. Pelosi raised no objection at that time; but now that the Left is demanding an inquisition to study Bush-era interrogation programs, Madame Speaker pleads ignorance. Fortunately for those with an interest in establishing the facts, Pelosi did not attend that briefing solo. Also in attendance was Porter Goss, at that time a member of Congress, who went on to become director of the CIA. He pronounces himself “slack-jawed” with disbelief that Pelosi today claims not to have known what interrogation techniques were being used. “We understood what the CIA was doing,” he wrote in the Washington Post. “We gave the CIA our bipartisan support. We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities. . . . I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues.” Note that the memo says Pelosi was given a “description of particular EITs that had been employed” on Abu Zubaydah, a lieutenant to Osama bin Laden. He had been waterboarded repeatedly by that point. If that did not make the list of “particular EITs,” then what did? Perhaps Pelosi would enlighten us?"

It's no surprise to me--it does seem sometimes that Democrats and liberals, once they've achieved power and seem secure, get rather arrogant...and become furious at those who dare challenge them (like Limbaugh does). It also doesn't help that the Obama administration chose, for some reason, to demonize Limbaugh and others, those fueling the fire. Anyway, give some on the left a little room, and they'll go ballistic. And in the end, it only hurts them.

BASEBALL DIARY: things are going pretty well for the favorite teams right now. The Tigers finished off a sweep of the Indians by winning yesterday, 5-3. Once again, we saw solid pitching from Rick Porcello, and effective hitting---note that Magglio Ordonez had two hits; maybe his slump is ending. If the Tigers keep getting solid pitching from pre-season question marks like Porcello...
The Texas Rangers beat the White Sox yesterday, 7-1. Again, a key was another outstanding outing from a Rangers starter, this time Vincente Padilla. And note two home runs coming from Hank Blalock--if he can regain his injury-free All-Star form, so much the better for this team.
The Cubs salvaged the final game of their weekend series with the Brewers, winning yesterday 4-2. Yet concern remains for their bullpen--Carlos Marmol almost blew the lead in the 8th inning when he managed to get the bases loaded thanks to a double and two walks. Luckily he got out of it. The bullpen, combined with Cub injuries to for example Aramis Ramirez, suggests that the Cubs will just have to hope to stay above water until the all-star break...and then, in the second half, they can put things together.

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE--the Detroit Red Wings won yesterday, 4-1. They now lead their grueling 2nd-round series, 3 games to 2. You do get the feeling that the Wings are wearing the Ducks down, as the linked article suggests--they outshot Anaheim yesterday, 39-17, and would have had more goals had they not clanked their shots off the post several times. Can they end this difficult series tomorrow night? They could sure use the rest.
The Dallas Mavericks tonight, of course, face elimination from the playoffs, fresh off that frustrating loss in game 3. They were indeed ripped off--it was a bad non-call by the officials Saturday, and even the league has admitted it. But they shouldn't have been in that position--they had a 4 point lead with 30 seconds to go have to wrap that game up, and not have it come down to a last-second shot. Hopefully they can indeed play for pride tonight, and show everyone that they'll go down fighting. That probably is all they have left.
Will the NBA realize, though, that they need better officials? It's time they did.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday stuff...

BASEBALL DIARY: so the Tigers won a thriller last night, edging Cleveland, 1-0. Key: this was a third straight dominating performance by Justin Verlander; he pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 11. But speed and athletic ability helped, too--speed from rookie Clete Thomas, who beat out an infield hit in the 8th allowing the winning run to score, and incredible athletic ability from center fielder Curtis Granderson, who made an outstanding, leaping catch above the wall in deep center, robbing Grady Sizemore of a game-winning homer. If you haven't seen the highlight of that catch on ESPN yet, see it--it was a tremendous play. The Tigers are playing much better ball this year than last...
Not such a good night, though, for the Cubs--they lost, 3-2, to Milwaukee; Aaron Heilmann gave up what proved to be the game-winning home run in the 8th, right after he walked the first batter he faced on 4 pitches--more bullpen troubles; and Aramis Ramirez hurt himself and will likely be out at least six weeks. Lots of injuries this year for the Cubs; it's been tough for them.
And look at the Texas Rangers--they shut out the Chicago White Sox last night, 6-0, and remain in the first place in the AL West. Not only are they getting adequate pitching--last night young Matt Harrison twirled shutout ball, and the Rangers offense picked and pecked and wound up with 6 runs. Could this team actually be a threat in its division? If they keep getting pitching, they can be.

You may have seen the headline today about Russia parading its military might through Moscow in a "Victory Day" celebration. Why today? Well, today is the anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany and thus the old Soviet Union's victory over Hitler's Germany. Russia has never forgotten that war--even today, they still call it "The Great Patriotic War" and Russian veterans of the conflict are treated like royalty. Obviously Russian leaders today would still love to have the power and influence wielded by the old USSR at the end of that war. Me, I don't worry too much about it. Remember, the old Soviet Union has been broken up. Russia still has a declining, aging population and a government riddled with corruption. I doubt they'll be dominant world power anytime soon. At the same time, they have nukes--you have to keep an eye on them.

FUTURE OF CONSERVATISM AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY DEPT: Mark Steyn makes an excellent point today. He notes yet another of Colin Powell's rapidly-growing number of bashings of conservatism in the Republican Party--did you know Powell recently said “The Republican party is in deep trouble...Americans do want to pay taxes for services. Americans want more government in their lives, not less”?--and replies that moving towards Powell's leftish "center" isn't the answer:
But, when the going gets tough, you don’t, as General Powell advises, “move toward the center.” You move the center toward you, as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher did. It’s harder to do it that way, but if it’s a choice between more government and more taxes, or more liberty and more opportunity, I’ll stick with the latter, and so should the Republican party — however difficult it is. Unlike Colin Powell, conservatism does do mountains."
Bingo. There were two things on which Ronald Reagan would not budge, no matter what the polls said--and that was on tax cuts, and the need to spend more on defense. He didn't cave on those issues. Instead, he explained to the American people why he was right. That's what we need to keep doing on our core issues today.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday's fish fry

NANNY STATE UPDATE--a small town in Indiana passes pretty much a total workplace/public places smoking ban, that even includes bars, and the rationale behind it is scary:
"Critics talk passionately about individual freedom and business concerns. But in the end, the most important issue to consider is public health, Murphy said."
Careful--why then can't we similarly justify banning the sale of soda pop, sugar cookies, or salty potato chips???? Can't one argue that banning them would aid "public health" too?

"HOPE AND CHANGE" AIN'T ALL ITS CRACKED UP TO BE UPDATE--the Obama administration holds on to yet another Bush-era policy, this time on the environment:
"The Obama administration will retain a Bush-era rule for polar bears, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Friday, in a move that angered activists who noted the rule limits what can be done to protect the species from global warming. The administration had faced a weekend deadline to decide whether it should allow government agencies to cite the federal Endangered Species Act, which protects the bear, to impose limits on greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and automobiles even if the emissions occur thousands of miles from where the polar bear lives. "We must do all we can to help the polar bear recover, recognizing that the greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change," Salazar said in a statement. "However, the Endangered Species Act is not the proper mechanism for controlling our nation’s carbon emissions."
Read the whole thing--note that environmentalists don't seem to care whether what they seek to have done falls under the scope of legislation, or not.

HOW CAN REPUBLICANS MAKE A COMEBACK? Victor Davis Hanson today hits on something really important:
"If the Republicans think they can outbid the Democrats for the support of feminists, gays, and growing numbers of minorities, then they will only add embarrassment and permanent failure to the present natural cycle of political correction. Instead, they must be ready to show that deficits of the present magnitude, when added to existing debt, are unsustainable and will sap the vitality of the entire American society. Most people dread going to the DMV; that such a state-run blueprint will now be superimposed on manufacturing, energy, health care, and banking should scare the landscaper and the roofer alike. Precisely by showing to gays, women, minorities, and the young that none of us gets an exemption from the iron laws of nature — you cannot spend what you don’t make; you can’t apologize to unsavory characters and end up respected and safe; you can’t expect government bureaucrats to make better decisions than private executives — conservatives can become inclusive. Conservatives should remind the electorate that the very wealthy, the Wall Street big money, and the elite in the universities and foundations are now consistently voting Democratic. It was the nexus between Wall Street financiers and lax liberal Democratic congressional overseers — the former wanting profits, the latter able to cloak lavish campaign contributions with populist rhetoric about caring for the poor — that got us into the financial mess."
Bingo. When all is said and done, Republicans and conservatives will never get anywhere by trying to look more like Democrats or co-opt their issues. Instead, they've got to show why their principles, especially of limited government, liberty, defeating our enemies, are principles that should appeal to all, be they rich, poor, white, minority, gay, or straight.

JOBLESS RATE UPDATE: The unemployment rate rose again today, but some in the media seek to mitigate the bad news:
The American economy lost another 539,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate leapt to 8.9 percent, the government reported Friday, yet the deterioration was slightly milder than expected, buoying hopes that better days are approaching."
Hmmm. Yes, I'm sure that's great consolation for those who've lost their jobs.
Hey, we all hope the bad times will soon be behind us. But would our friends in the news media be making these kinds of rationalizations if the Bush administration was still in power? Could it be that Obama's supporters in the news media--and we know there are tons of you out there--are trying to spin this in a way that will help him???

EDUCATION UPDATE: a charter school in Harlem produces amazing, hugely positive results for inner-city African-American children. How did it do it? By spending lots of money? By reducing class size? Nope:
"These results are powerful evidence in a long-running debate. Some experts, mostly surrounding the education establishment, argue that schools alone can’t produce big changes. The problems are in society, and you have to work on broader issues like economic inequality. Reformers, on the other hand, have argued that school-based approaches can produce big results. The Harlem Children’s Zone results suggest the reformers are right. The Promise Academy does provide health and psychological services, but it helps kids who aren’t even involved in the other programs the organization offers. To my mind, the results also vindicate an emerging model for low-income students. Over the past decade, dozens of charter and independent schools, like Promise Academy, have become no excuses schools. The basic theory is that middle-class kids enter adolescence with certain working models in their heads: what I can achieve; how to control impulses; how to work hard. Many kids from poorer, disorganized homes don’t have these internalized models. The schools create a disciplined, orderly and demanding counterculture to inculcate middle-class values."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers got beat by the White Sox last night, 6-0. They just got shut down by a guy who's pitching real well right now, Mark Buehrle--he's 5-0 so far this year, and the White Sox have won every game he's started. He showed us why last night. Not much else to say...
The news was mixed elsewhere, too. The Rangers lost to the A's, 9-4. Brandon McCarthy pitched well for the Rangers for 3 innings, but then gave up his first hit in the 4th...and lost it, walking guys, then giving up a long grand-slam to Jack Cust. Just not the Rangers' day...but they're still 3-1 on their current road trip.
And the Cubs on again, beating Houston 8-6. Alfonso Soriano hit 2 homers, and Ted Lilly gave the Cubs 6 decent innings of starting pitching. The Cubs have now won 6 of 7, and seem to be coming together...

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: the Detroit Red Wings regained the momentum last night in their series with Anaheim, winning on the road 6-3. The series is now tied 2-2, with game 5 in Detroit on Sunday. Key for the Wings was getting their big scorers, guys like Johann Franzen and Marian Hossa, going. The Wings set themselves up a lot of good chances, and this time they converted. Now they have to keep it going at home. Ah, the ebb and flow of a tough playoff series like this one--both teams now have won on the other's ice. That's the sign of a real grueling battle...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

NFL NEWS--he wanted to come home:
The signing by the Detroit Lions of former Steelers' linebacker Larry Foote won't rock the league or rapidly change around the 0-16 Lions' fortunes. And he didn't come to Detroit for purely unselfish reasons--the Steelers were looking in other directions at linebacker, and it was time for Foote to go. But as the linked article makes clear, isn't it kind of neat that Foote, a native Detroiter, partly wanted to sign with the Lions to help out his old hometown team, to help in making things a tad better for people in the city?

BUT SPEAKING OF SPORTS, THE DARKER SIDE IS SEEN TODAY--LA Dodgers' slugger Manny Ramirez is suspended for 50 games today by MLB for using a banned substance. Manny says it was all an accident, that he took it because it was in a prescription a doctor gave him, etc etc etc...but, as Buster Olney of ESPN points out today, if you buy that, we got bridges to sell you:
"No, somewhere between Rafael Palmeiro wagging his finger at congressmen and Mark McGwire saying that he didn't want to talk about the past and Jason Giambi saying he was sorry without saying what for and Alex Rodriguez telling Katie Couric that he didn't use steroids at all, our obligation to believe any my-dog-ate-my-homework story ended, and now we can assume the worst. Manny made a statement, and in it he stated that a physician gave him a medication, "not a steroid," that "was banned under our drug policy." At some point in the future, Manny may also say that he never touched steroids before, and that his production into his late 30s was a complete coincidence. Our response will be this: Whatever."
Although, as Olney also points out, Ramirez can be ashamed of this all the way to the bank. He's still got his 2-year, $45 million contract from the Dodgers, and he'll get most of it. Of course, his accomplishments will be forever tarnished, and he's now damaged goods for the Dodgers, who have been marketing Manny in a big way, and will have a hard time doing that anymore. But this is a bed the players and major league baseball made for themselves long, long ago.

BASEBALL DIARY: meanwhile, there was some good news for my favorite teams. The Tigers didn't lose--they were rained out. But the Cubs played well, beating Houston 6-3. They got a solid start from Rich Harden, and big hits from Reed Johnson and Aramis Ramirez. Both Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg pitched shut-down relief...maybe the bullpen is coming around. The Cubs have won 5 of 6.
And the Texas Rangers won again, beating Oakland 3-2. Mainly of importance here was another solid start from Scott Feldman, and good relief from Derek Holland and Frankie Francisco--Francisco hasn't allowed a run all season (he's the Rangers closer). The Rangers have won 6 of 7 road games, and are in first place for the first time in 3 years. If they keep getting some pitching...

So President Obama says today he wants to cut 121 different federal programs, involving savings of over $17 billion--but...:
"Those savings are far exceeded by a 2 1/2-inch thick volume detailing Obama's generous increases for domestic programs. And instead of devoting the savings to defray record deficits, the White House is funneling them back into other programs. Despite redoubling its efforts to portray itself as tough on waste and spending, it's undeniable that the adminstration and the Democratic-controlled Congress has taken the nation on a steady course of higher budgets in appropriated accounts. In rapid succession has come passage of a $787 billion economic recovery bill, a $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill and Congress' $3.4 trillion budget, which calls for increases of almost 10 percent over current funding for non-defense agency budgets. Even as Obama spoke, a key House panel was adding $9 billion to his war request."
And despite all his talk of "change", many of these cuts were called President Bush, months ago. This doesn't sound like a news-cycle winner to me...

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION COMPETENCE WATCH: they're supposed to be competent, efficient, and smart...but often, you'd never know it:
"USA Today reported last night that Obama's website, which is supposed to track every dime spent through the stimulus, won't make data avaialble until . . . it's too late."
Read the whole thing.

BEWARE, PRESIDENT OBAMA--your party's activist base is mobilizing:
"President Obama was noticeably silent last month when the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. But now Mr. Obama — who has said he opposes same-sex marriage as a Christian but describes himself as a “fierce advocate of equality” for gay men and lesbians — is under pressure to engage on a variety of gay issues that are coming to the fore amid a dizzying pace of social, political, legal and legislative change. Two of Mr. Obama’s potential Supreme Court nominees are openly gay; some advocates, irked that there are no gay men or lesbians in his cabinet, are mounting a campaign to influence his choice to replace Justice David H. Souter , who is retiring. Same-sex marriage is advancing in states — the latest to allow it is Maine — and a new flare-up in the District of Columbia could ultimately put the controversy in the lap of the president. Mr. Obama’s new global health initiative has infuriated activists who say he is not financing AIDS programs generously enough. And while the president has urged Congress to pass a hate crimes bill, a high priority for gay groups, he has delayed action on one of his key campaign promises, repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule."
This is what tends to happen to Democratic presidents--their liberal base pushes them to move, right now, on controversial social issues...which arouses (in a negative way) ordinary center/right Americans, and harms the president's desired position as a moderate. It happened to both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton--remember Clinton's polls after the whole gays-in-the-military flap?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday's wash

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: some bad news last night. The Dallas Mavericks fell behind two games to none against the Denver Nuggets, losing 117-105. Once again a big 4th-quarter run by the Nuggets did the Mavericks in; also hurtful was Josh Howard going down with a sprained ankle in the first quarter. Yet the Mavs were right in it early in the 4th. Then came the fall. Do they get tired? Worn down? Answers will need to be found, and soon.
And the Detroit Red Wings lost again, 2-1 to Anaheim. They now trail their 2nd round series, 2 games to 1. The Wings aren't playing badly--they outshot the Ducks last night 46-23, a 2-1 margin. But they're having a hard time beating the Anaheim defense and their goalie, Jonas Hiller. The Wings just have to keep at it, and not get frustrated.

Meanwhile, former NBA star Dave Bing (he used to play for the Detroit Pistons) was elected mayor of Detroit in a special election; the election was to fill the position formerly held by the disgraced Kwame Kilpatrick. Bing won in a close race. His victory speech sounded good:
"What we will bring ... is efficiency, transparency, honesty and integrity back to the mayor's office."

Well, good luck to him in cleaning up Detroit...he'll need it.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers looked much better last night, blanking the Twins 9-0. Manager Jim Leyland shuffled the batting lineup, and it worked...and rookie Rick Porcello pitched very, very well. Leyland knows how to push the right buttons. I'm glad the organization didn't panic last year and fire him.
The Cubs lost to the Giants, 6-2...largely because they were facing Tim Lincecum, and also because Manager Lou Piniella rested many of his usual starters. Hopefully that won't cost the Cubs momentum--the loss broke a 4-game winning streak.
But the Texas Rangers beat Seattle, 7-2 in 10 innings, for their 4th win in a row. The Rangers got excellent starting pitching from Vincente Padilla...who held Seattle to 1 run on 1 hit for 8 innings, but got a no-decision. That's because the Rangers faced tough Erik Bedard. But the Rangers finally broke through for 6 in the 10th off of Seattle's tired and injury-plagued bullpen, and that was that. Just keep getting adequate pitching, Rangers...that offense can do the rest.

DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN---and Sec of State Hillary Clinton expresses regrets:
"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday the Obama administration "deeply, deeply" regrets the death of civilians in Afghanistan apparently as the result of a U.S. bombing."
Hmmm...well, funny thing: the Bush administration of course expressed regrets for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan when it was in office, too. But that didn't matter to our progressive friends--they bashed Bush for such deaths, anyway. But do you think a single liberal poster on any of the online discussion groups one sees has expressed an ounce of worry over civilian deaths--since Mr. Obama has taken office???? Answer: nope...
I guess when civilian deaths happen in war, but a Democrat is in office, they're just not so morally some.

MORE GOOD NEWS FOR THE REPUBLICANS: or, at the very least, signs that things ain't that bad, and they ain't that great for the Democrats:
"Looks like Kathleen Sebelius, the new HHS secretary celebrated from one end of the Washington beltway to the other as "a popular Democratic governor of a nominally Republican state" (that would be Kansas, where the governor is usually a Democrat), got out of town just in time. A new SurveyUSA poll shows, for the first time, more disenchantment than enchantment among Kansans for the new princess of human services. Last time I checked, her favorables were close to 60 percent."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

THE PROBLEM WITH LIBERAL REPUBLICANISM DEPARTMENT: as seen in California under Arnold Schwarzenegger, unfortunately:
"Under Arnold Schwarzenegger, the best governor the states contiguous to California have ever had, people and businesses have been relocating in those states. For four consecutive years, more Americans have moved out of California than have moved in. California's business costs are more than 20 percent higher than the average state's. In the last decade, net out-migration of Americans has been 1.4 million. California is exporting talent while importing Mexico's poverty. The latter is not California's fault; the former is. If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the budgets of all but 10 states. Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger's less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent."

BASEBALL DIARY: I knew it. I just knew it. The Tigers always have trouble with the Minnesota Twins...and last night they opened a 3-game series with them. Sure enough, the Tigers lost at home, 7-2. A lot of the blame has to go to Twins' twirler Francisco Liriano, who held the Tigers to two hits in 8 innings. But part of the problem also lies with the Tigers' inconsistent offense--especially Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, who both need to get going.
Overall, some teams just seem to have a hex over others...and for the Tigers, their nemesis is the Twins.
But elsewhere, the news was better. The Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants, 4-2, with Ryan Dempster's pitching and Ryan Theriot's hitting leading the way. The Cubs have now won 4 straight, all at home...and they're playing more consistent baseball.
And the Texas Rangers won again, on the road at Seattle, 6-5. Once again, adequate pitching (from Kevin Millwood, who has been the Rangers' best starter this year)...and the offense came through again, with Chris Davis and Michael Young hitting home runs. The Rangers lead the majors in home runs with 46...and that's with Josh Hamilton, currently on the DL but due to come off next week, not producing much yet. I suspect, however, before too much time passes, he will.

MORE PROBLEMS WITH LIBERALISM DEPARTMENT: cities hunger after the Obama administration's "stimulus" money. But guess what? Layer after layer of federal bureaucracy and red tape greatly slows down the process. Who woulda guessed:
"With the stimulus money routed through an array of federal agencies, the city needs an extra hand to deal with the different deadlines, eligibility standards, and reporting requirements for each funding stream. It’s a situation that tries the patience of Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore. “If you have one in every five unemployed — until you have had that happen, you don’t really know the true meaning of the word ‘patience,’” said Moore, whose city has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. “I would like to see it moving quicker. But I’ve learned I have to live with the rules and regulations.”
This is exactly the criticism that conservatives have always made against big-government liberalism--that it leads to all this bureaucracy. And here we see that criticism validated again.

SO THE REPUBLICAN IS DEAD/DYING/BECOMING MERELY A SOUTHERN, REGIONAL RUMP PARTY, HUH? DEPARTMENT: yet more evidence that this isn't true, this time from New Hampshire:
"And now there are all kinds of interesting developments in New Hampshire: "Although [former senator John] Sununu has not indicated that he plans to run in 2010, a hypothetical matchup for Senate between Hodes and Sununu is likely to be a close match. If the election were held today, 46% of New Hampshire likely voters say they would vote for Sununu, 41% for Hodes, 2% for some other candidate, and 11% are not sure. Both candidates have the full support of their partisans, and Sununu holds a narrow 38% to 31% lead among Independents." This is for Judd Gregg's seat; some GOP folk want to persuade him to reconsider his retirement. "Currently, 52% of New Hampshire likely voters said that if the 2010 election were held today, they would vote for Gregg, 36% said they would vote for Hodes, 2% would vote for some other candidate, and 10% are not sure."
Gosh, and I thought the Republican Party was dead in New England. Who knew?
And by the way, it's early, but right now Republican chances to win a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois look optimistic, too.

I think David Brooks in today's NY Times misses the boat in a couple of ways, when he writes:
"The emphasis on freedom and individual choice may work in the sparsely populated parts of the country. People there naturally want to do whatever they want on their own land. But it doesn’t work in the densely populated parts of the country: the cities and suburbs where Republicans are getting slaughtered. People in these areas understand that their lives are profoundly influenced by other people’s individual choices. People there are used to worrying about the health of the communal order."
Sure. But Brooks forgets other facts of life in the suburbs--there, people own property. They own homes. They raise children. They don't want high taxes; they need all the income they can get, to support and maintain their property and to support their children. And they worry about crime--that is, threats to their homes and to their children. Thus they want a good, strong police department, and they want law and order. And I still think the GOP is strong on those issues--maybe one thing Republicans can do is to remind of how Republicans, in their views of crime, police, and the courts, have so often stood behind the police and prosecutors, and have stood against the desire of some liberals to rob criminals of responsibility for their actions and instead blame "society" for them.