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?