Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday musings

SCENES FROM THE RECESSION: actually, good can come from the tough, the difficult...:
" The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is a charity that Wilma Frankland supported financially for years. But when she retired from her nursing job about a year ago, Frankland, of South Bend, no longer had the cash to spare. So instead, she spends a day or two a week volunteering in the organization's warehouse, sorting and labeling food and making new friends. "It's wonderful here," she said via phone last Monday during a break from her work there. "We have a good time, laugh a lot ... and boost each other's morale."

TOUGH DECISIONS DEPARTMENT: so, on the one hand today, we see the head of the Council of Foreign Relations suggesting that the Obama administration is making a mistake in Afghanistan, broadening the war too much, making it a "war of choice"...

But Michael Mullen, the head of Obama's Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a very different view:
"We remain committed to the mission we've been given in Iraq -- make no mistake. ... But Afghanistan has been an economy of force operation for far too long," he said at a Pentagon news conference. Mullen said he is "gravely concerned" about recent Taliban and al-Qaeda gains across much of southern Afghanistan and in Pakistan. "This isn't about 'can do' anymore. This is about 'must do,' " Mullen said. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are "recruiting through intimidation, controlling through fear, and advancing an unwelcome ideology through thuggery. ... The consequences of their success directly threaten our national interests in the region and our safety here at home."

What will President Obama do? And by the way, soon one suspects he'll have to answer this question, posed by NRO's Victor Davis Hanson:
"...Obama must answer why waterboarding mass-murderers and beheaders like Khalid Sheik Mohammed is wrong, while executing by missile attack (no writs, habeas corpus, Miranda rights, etc.) suspected terrorists and anyone caught in their general vicinity in Waziristan — or pirates negotiating extortion — is legitimate. (Remember, there is no longer a "war on terrorism," so in these "overseas contingency operations" we are now judge, jury, and executioner — or are we resurrecting the Phoenix program for the Hindu Kush?)"

WHAT IS LIBERALISM? DEPARTMENT: that is, what decisions do liberals make that make others shake their heads? Here's an example:
"Last November, the Annapolis, Md. office of the Environmental Protection Agency examined its latest batch of data and concluded that despite $6 billion in spending and years of cleanup efforts, they were falling well short of their goals in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. Various state environmental officials began to wonder if the goals were realistic, considering how much they were already doing; as one put it, "how do you do more of everything, more of everywhere, by more of everybody?" They began a study of whether their original goals for the Chesapeake Bay were feasible, or whether they needed to revise their expectation of what their programs could achieve. The Washington Post reveals today that President Obama's newly appointed senior adviser to the EPA administrator on the Chesapeake Bay killed the evaluation, concluding that it was "diverting energy from the real challenge."

FAVORITE TEAMS UPDATE: tough day for my favorite teams in the playoffs. The Dallas Mavericks lost at Denver in game 1 of their second-round series, 109-95. On the one hand, this is bad--it was a game the Mavs led in the third quarter, and could have won. On the other hand, the good news is that the Mavs beat themselves, mainly--they committed 20 turnovers, something they'd done only twice all year. That's something they can clean up. Game 2 of this series will be big.

A tough day for the Detroit Red Wings too--they played OK, and outshot Anaheim over the final 1/3 of the game. But they lost game 2 in 3 OTs, 4-3, getting beat by a hot goaltender and stout defense. But I feel confident the Wings will come back--they outshot Anaheim 44-22 over the last part of that game yesterday, and they beat Anaheim out west during the regular season.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers won the final two games of their series against Cleveland over the weekend, including yesterday's 3-1 victory. Keys: oh, that's simple--another brilliant outing by Justin Verlander yesterday, and a shutdown job by the bullpen, too. The Tigers are 13-11...not bad.
The Cubs won again, beating Florida 6-4. That's good--3 wins in a row for the Cubs. Derek Lee and other Cubs are starting to hit. That's good. But, though he got the win, it appears Carlos Zambrano hurt his hamstring and may be out for a while. That's the only negative from yesterday...they can't afford to have Z lose significant time.
And the Texas Rangers won again, beating the White Sox 5-1 behind Matt Harrison and Ian Kinsler. The Rangers took two of three over the weekend. Texas is back at the .500 mark and getting, well, decent pitching. Can they keep it up?