Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday's fish fry

So at the last minute today, the House has voted for more $$$ to go for this "Cash for Clunkers" program. So typical--here we have a government program that was actually popular with the public. But, naturally, it 1] wasn't given enough money--it was about to run out; 2] nobody realized that until the last minute; 3] and yet, red tape is preventing the processing of a number of sales made under the program; 4] besides that, people were confused as to whether the program would continue; 5] indeed, commercials continued to run advertising the program even though it was known it was out of money; and 5] on the news last night, I heard that the program's website wasn't working right.
Your government, typically, at work.
By the way, at least House member Gerry Connally, a Democrat from Virginia, is honest about what Democrats want from government:
"I want to be there with all four paws and snout in the trough."

Adults do it, too:
"Teenagers exchange text messages while driving because, well, they're teenagers and teenagers sometimes do dumb things. But suit-wearing adults who should know better are texting behind the wheel too, driven by grown-up motivations."
Does CNN find this to be some big revelation? Of course everyone does it; that should be well-known by now. The problem is, texting while driving makes you the equivalent of a drunk driver. And that's why, much as we hate to see more government regulation, there probably need to be laws passed restricting it. Because what you do endangers others in this case.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers were off last night. But today they made a big trade, acquiring Mariners' pitcher Jarrod Washburn for two young prospects, including Luke French. It's always hard to trade good prospects, but this was a good deal for the Tigers. Washburn has had a good year, and has been practically unhittable for the past month. He gives the Tigers now 4 quality, dependable starting pitchers, and in a short playoff series, throwing Verlander, Jackson, and Washburn against anyone makes Tigers starting pitching formidable. The Tigers have a chance to win a division and maybe more this year. Gotta go for it.
As for last night's games, the Texas Rangers came back strong, belting out 5 home runs and 12 hits, getting excellent pitching from youngster Derek Holland, and beating Seattle 7-1.
Watch out for the Rangers in the budding wild-card race between them and the Red Sox.
Meanwhile the Cubs have now won 11 of 14, as they blast Houston 12-3. Note that Kosuke Fukudome is starting to hit big time for the Cubs; they needed his bat.

Some NFL notes---so in Minnesota, the QB battle will be between Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson. Translation: Minnesota has lots of talent, but remains weak at QB. Be careful about those Super Bowl picks for the Vikes.
Bill Belichick at New England meanwhile is, I predict, thinking about signing Michael Vick.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

Boy, President Obama isn't having a good month:
"Barack Obama’s approval ratings have suffered major declines. The president’s overall job approval number fell from 61% in mid-June to 54% currently. His approval ratings for handling the economy and the federal budget deficit have also fallen sharply, tumbling to 38% and 32%, respectively. Majorities now say they disapprove of the way the president is handling these two issues. The new poll also finds significant declines over the last few months in the percentage of Americans giving Obama high marks for dealing with health care, foreign policy and tax policy."

Republican and conservative arguments are hitting home. Let's keep it going.
Update: in Gallup's daily tracking poll for presidential approval, Obama's approval rate is down to 52%; back in February, it was at 70%.

Why is all this happening? Partly it's because the economy is slow to bounce back, and Obama is beginning to "own" it. Partly it's because people likely are shocked at the government's budget deficit and the cost of proposed health care reforms. And, partly, it's due to Obama's own mistakes--as Victor Davis Hanson rightly points out today:

"...cast-off comments like Obama’s “stupidly” and his ill-informed references about tonsils become more important than they otherwise would. These chance asides mean nothing in isolation, but slowly in toto they are building a portrait of an executive at times ignorant (cf. the fill-up-your-tires mantra of last year), and occasionally mean and partisan. And because his agenda — cap and trade, nationalized health care, stimuli, higher taxes, deficit spending, apology diplomacy — is not really supported by the American people, his own popularity is critical. Lose that, and he loses the rest. The Sotomayor and Holder comments, coupled with Gatesgate, bring up memories of the mess with Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger. The tonsils comment, the Special Olympics gaffe, the historical blunders in Cairo, etc. suggest not a hip, smart, postracial candidate, but an inexperienced, though tough-minded, tribal Chicago pol. If all that results to below 50% approval, there will be an entirely new politics. Unpopular presidents cannot enact unpopular legislation, no matter how once popular they were, no matter how much they blame their predecessors and Wall Street greed."
Bingo. When I've seen and heard Obama lately, he sounds a bit defensive, a bit snippy, a bit irritated at all the questioning of his policies. And that doesn't make you look good.
And by the way, here's more evidence that Obama's comments on Henry Louis Gates and his showdown with the Cambridge cop didn't go over well:
"Americans are more likely to disapprove than approve of how President Barack Obama dealt with the racially tinged dispute between a white police officer and a well-known black Harvard University scholar -- with disapproval especially strong among white voters, according to a poll released Thursday. The July 16 arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. for disorderly conduct in his own home sparked a national debate over racial profiling and police conduct. The controversy intensified after Obama last Wednesday said police in Cambridge, Massachusetts "acted stupidly" when they arrested Gates, who is a friend of his. The poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 41 percent disapproved of Obama's handling of the Gates arrest, compared with 29 percent who approved. The poll also found the incident and Obama's reaction saturated the public consciousness. As many as 80 percent of Americans said they are now aware of Obama's comments on the matter."


There seems to be a growth in interest in soccer in America this summer:

"Last month, the U.S. men’s national team captured the world’s imagination—and about four million American television viewers—as it nearly knocked off Brazil to claim the game’s third most important international trophy, the Confederations Cup. Sunday’s Gold Cup final between a largely second-string U.S. team and Mexico drew nearly 80,000 fans to Giants Stadium in New Jersey, while an estimated two million Americans will attend games this summer featuring some of the best European club teams. U.S. broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League sparked a bidding war between ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel, and an MLS expansion team in Seattle has become the city’s hottest summer ticket. By next year, MLS will have nine soccer-specific stadiums, offering the same cozy atmosphere of arenas throughout Europe."

And this is all fine with me; indeed, I applaud it. There are good reasons why soccer, with its intensity and at times beautiful passing that sets up goals, is called in the world "the beautiful game." And I very much enjoy watching the passions unleashed every four years with the World Cup.

That all having been said, don't expect soccer to ever supplant baseball and football at the top of the American sports hierarchy. Those sports are well-entrenched, and are an integral part of so many Americans' sports lives. Americans are very busy; how will millions of them find time--the time needed to follow, baseball, football, basketball...AND soccer? Too many of them won't. And soccer still doesn't, I'm convinced, have enough scoring to appeal to many Americans. It's growing in appeal, and that's good; and it can continue to grow, and that's good too. But those who raise their expectations too high are bound to be disappointed.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers finally break loose and get lots of extra-base hits as they defeat Texas, 13-5. What was surprising about it is that the Tigers did it against Scott Feldman, who's been a reliable starter for the Rangers this season. Now the Tigers head to Cleveland--time to win some games.
And the Cubs stayed hot, blasting the Astros 12-0. Rookie pitcher Randy Wells continues to impress. Alfonso Soriano is hot. Are the Cardinals really the hands-down favorite to win the NL Central, as I've heard many commentators suggest? I wonder.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday's wash

It appears Americans' views on the economy are souring.
The majority believes it will get worse before it gets better.
And by the way, here's an NPR poll that also won't bring good news for President Obama:
"President Obama has hit a rough patch this summer, squeezed between a lingering recession and rising questions about the health care overhaul he has made the centerpiece of his first-year agenda. The nation is close to evenly split in its assessment of the president's policies to date, and there is great intensity on both sides of the debate with dwindling numbers in the middle.
Those are the chief findings of the latest NPR poll of 850 registered voters conducted nationwide Wednesday through Sunday by a bipartisan team."

BASEBALL DIARY: again, the Tigers fail to hit--they score 3 in the second inning, but then 15 consecutive Tigers go down at one point in the game and the team doesn't score again, losing to Texas 7-3. No wonder the Tigers still seek a bat and another arm; Luke French as the 5th starter (he lost last night) doesn't look that promising...
The Rangers meanwhile are now only a game and a half back of the Boston Red Sox in the wild card race in the AL.
The Cubs lost to the Astros 11-6. Ryan Dempster had a tough night, but at least he's back from injury.

Specifically, NBC's Chuck Todd and co. fears President Obama may be losing the "message war" on health care reform:
"Perhaps the biggest thing that stood out to us at President Obama’s AARP town hall yesterday was that the White House appears to be losing the message war on health care. How do we know? Just listen to the questions the AARP callers had. Several of them asked about "rumors,” and they also brought up GOP talking points on "rationing" or the government coming to your house to ask how you want to die (!!!)."
Yes, well, heaven forbid that Republicans let the public know what they think about the Democrats' health care plans and have the public maybe, just maybe, AGREE with it (in the mind of many of the media, that equals persons bringing up "GOP talking points"). And why the exclamation points concerning the possibility of government counseling on end-of-life issues, Mr. Todd and friends? Surely you must know that Obama has spoken several times on the issue of the elderly and end of life care, and has at the very least hinted that we must scale back the extent of the care we offer...

Good to see our liberal friends in the media unhappy, though. That usually means good things are happening.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday trackings

Why are not President Obama and his policies inspiring more consumer confidence?:
"Americans' confidence in the economy eroded further in July as worries about job security offset any enthusiasm about the resumed stock market rally that has helped bolster retirement accounts."

Each other, that is...:
"Without the backing of the 52-member Blue Dogs, it would be difficult for Democratic leaders to pass a bill, especially since no Republican supports the legislation. "I think there's still a bit of daylight between the positions," said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. "I think the bottom line of Blue Dogs has not been met as of this time."

Wow, there's nothing like persons displaying their prejudices for all to see. Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio just doesn't like them damn grits-eatin', beer-swillin', hound-dog huntin', pickup-truck drivin' Southerners:
"We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns," Voinovich told the Columbus Dispatch Monday. "It's the Southerners…."They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr,'" he said, according to the paper. "People hear them and say, 'These people, they're Southerners. The party's being taken over by Southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?'"
George Voinovich: moron.

In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie continues to lead Dem incumbent Jon Corzine big time, by 14 points.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers got only 7 hits, wasted early scoring opportunities, and lost to the Texas Rangers last night, 5-2. At least, for the Tigers, Armando Galarraga again pitched decently. The good news for the Rangers is that youngster Tommy Hunter again pitched well. Ranger pitching this year has been amazingly improved over last year.
And the Cubs somehow managed to edge the Astros last night, 5-1 in 13 innings, in a game which featured player ejections, a blown squeeze play, a walk-off grand slam, brilliant plays, gaffes, etc.
Read the linked account--it's too much to summarize. But the Cubs remain hot...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday's musings

...goes to this AP story: "Dems Alone Can't Deliver Obama Health Care Win."
That's false. Democrats COULD deliver him such a win--but they won't.
Because conservative "blue dog" Democrats currently oppose the Democrat bills on the table.
And thats the problem of Democrats and Mr. Obama--it's wrong to give the impression that Republicans are somehow blocking the poor Democrats as they struggle to pass a bill.
The truth is that it's typical Democratic Party disunity that's their problem right now--don't try to obscure that, liberals in the news media.

Turns out that the caller alerting police to a possible break-in at scholar Henry Louis Gates' house said nothing about race. Kind of hard to have racial profiling when no one's calling attention to a suspect on the basis of, or arresting anyone on the basis of, race.
By the way, African-American cops at the scene back up the story given by the white police officer.
Most interesting thing Gates said during the incident: "You don't know who you're messin' with!" Yes, how dare this lower-class white cop challenge the powerful Professor Gates, eh????
Yes, race...and CLASS. Interesting topics...

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lose last night to the White Sox, 5-1, but hey, Detroit won 3 of 4 from Chicago and now lead the division by 2, so you can't complain too much.
Meanwhile the Texas Rangers took two of three in Kansas City over the weekend, winning yesterday 7-2. Again the team got excellent relief pitching, while the Rangers took advantage of a shaky KC bullpen.
And look who's in first place now in the NL Central--not the Cardinals and their new acquisition, Matt Holliday, but instead the Chicago Cubs with their 5-2 victory over the Reds yesterday (also helping were two straight Cardinal losses to Philadelphia). The Cubs got a good start from Rich Harden. They've been helped by the return of Aramis Ramirez. Ryan Dempster should be back before long. The Cubbies are in this to stay, perhaps.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Some Saturday stuff...

BASEBALL DIARY: so the Tigers, seemingly on the ropes and not scoring any runs, take two games yesterday from the team chasing them for 1st place in the AL Central, the White Sox--winning the afternoon game 5-1, and the nightcap 4-3. Give big credit to Justin Verlander, who pitched like an ace in the opener. And to Carlos Guillen, who went 3 for 7 on the day with a home run; he, perhaps as the Tigers' brass hoped, seemed to rejuvenate the offense. The Tigers need to keep winning--go for a sweep!
The Texas Rangers meanwhile, despite being decimated by the flu, keep getting good pitching--this time from underrated star Scott Feldman, who shut out the Royals for 8 innings and saw his team win 2-0. But the Angels keep winning...
And the Cubs have injuries too, but they too kept winning, beating Cincinnati 8-5 yesterday. Aramis Ramirez has returned, and he's really helped the Cubs' struggling bats, especially with runner in scoring position.

So it appears NFL commish Roger Goodell might suspend Michael Vick an additional 2 games or more for the start of this NFL season.
My view: yes, what Vick did was horrible. He's deserved all the punishment he's gotten. But why a further suspension??? He's already missed two NFL seasons due to suspension. He's done jail time. Hasn't he paid his penalty? If Vick rejoins the NFL, there's going to be a media uproar; it doesn't matter when that is. It will happen. Apparently Goodell doesn't want it to in any way upstage the start of the NFL season, but my view is--if he's going to be reinstated in the league and a team wants to sign in, let's get it over with and get the media firestorm over with. Why wait and postpone it? And why pretend the guy hasn't already had a serious penalty? He has.
Naturally, though, he must also be told that one slip-up and he's gone, done, for good.

Hardly--they seem poised to give very liberal Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer a good run for it next year:
"Sen. Barbara Boxer, who has taken heat in recent months for clashes at Senate hearings, is facing a potentially tough election challenge from prominent businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who is within striking distance in a recent poll. Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO and top economic adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign, hasn't said yet whether she'll throw her hat in the ring against Boxer for the California Democrat's Senate seat next year. But it already could be shaping up to up be one of the most closely watched Senate contests. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey released July 24 shows that Fiorina is trailing by only 4 percentage points behind in a hypothetical head-to-head with the three-term incumbent. The poll put Boxer's support in such a face-off at only 45 percent, with 7 percent of survey respondents saying they're undecided."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's fish fry

Only time for a few items today, but here goes...

President Obama backtracks today concerning his criticism of the police who arrested Henry Louis Gates. About time...

Democrats in Washington struggle to come to an agreement on health care legislation:
"Health care negotiations among Democratic leaders and conservative so-called Blue Dog Democrats have reached an impasse, according to members of Congress on both sides of the talks. As a result, Democratic leaders are moving towards bypassing conservatives in their own party and holding a House health care vote over their objections."

Good luck with that...

In baseball diary news, the Tigers' offense is pathetic again yesterday, losing yet again to Seattle 2-1--the 4th time in 5 games the Tigers have lost by that score.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

"Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday abandoned plans for a vote on health care before Congress' August recess, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama's ambitious timetable to revamp the nation's $2.4 trillion system of medical care. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delivered the official word on what had been expected for weeks, saying, "It's better to have a product based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than try to jam something through."
His words were a near-echo of Republicans who have criticized the rush to act on complex legislation that affects every American."

You know you're winning when the other side is echoing your talking points...

Speaking of President Obama, why is he condemning police actions in cities far away from where he currently lives when he admits he doesn't have all the "facts"?
"President Obama said that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "acted stupidly" in arresting a prominent black Harvard professor last week after a confrontation at the man's home. I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played," Obama said Wednesday night while taking questions after a White House news conference."
As for the rest of the President's news conference last night, dominated by the health care debate and most of which I watched, the editors of National Review have the right take--Mr. Obama is selling "snake oil":
"President Obama’s press conference Wednesday night offered an ideal encapsulation of the Democrats’ case for their health-care-reform proposals: outlandish promises about benefits and patently dishonest denials of the costs. He said essentially all of the uninsured would be covered, the insured could keep their existing coverage and would be guaranteed to keep it if they lost or changed jobs, the quality of care would rise, waste and fraud would be slashed, the deficit would decline, and no one would have to pay a price for all this except a few millionaires. Oh, and by the way, the plan would also “keep government out of health-care decisions.” If the president can persuade the American public of all that, then maybe we don’t even need medical care — we can just have him tell us all we’re perfectly healthy and we’ll go on our way. But in the end, the president does not in fact seem capable of persuading the public that he and congressional Democrats have found the magic cure-all for our health-care ills. Increasingly, the American people aren’t buying what Obama is selling. Support for his approach to health care has begun to fall below 50 percent in recent polls, as worries about cost, harming the quality and availability of health care, displacing millions who are satisfied with their insurance, increasing the tax burden on employers in the midst of a recession, and creating an enormous new entitlement are adding up."

And I just don't think the American people will buy the notion that one can have the government get more deeply involved in health care coverage, have pretty much everyone covered, but that it won't cost us more. People have more common sense than that.

Not in Connecticut, where incumbent Democratic Senator Chris Dodd still trails his likely Republican opponent, Rob Simmons, by 9 points.
Dodd's disapproval rating remains over 50%. That's death for an incumbent.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers last night got a great pitching performance from Armando Galarraga; he allowed only 1 hit in 7 plus innings. That's the good news. The bad news is that again the offense struggled, and they lost to Seattle 2-1.
But the Cubs finally got some hits, and ended Philadelphia's 10-game winning streak by beating the Phillies yesterday, 10-5.
And what about that Texas Ranger pitching? This time it's Dustin Nippert who does the job as the Rangers sweep the Red Sox, winning 3-1 last night.

So a town manager of a south Florida community married a porn star. No, one doesn't have to approve of his marriage choice...
...but firing him because you don't approve of it is wrong, in my opinion.
The city officials who canned him basically claimed his marriage would be a big distraction.
Funny--he's been married to her for awhile; wasn't a problem up to now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday's wash

These are serious charges of sexual assault vs Steelers' starting QB Ben Roethlisberger.
That having been said, though, there seem to be serious holes in the woman's story--why has she never filed a criminal complaint? Why wait until now to come forward with this? And of course anyone accused must be presumed innocent.
Watch very closely what Roger Goodell and the NFL office does with this. They're investigating; if there's anything to it, they'll give a sign of some kind. And if there's anything to it, this would have the chance to shake things up this year in the NFL just as, last year, Tom Brady's season-ending injury did just that.

Not in Pennsylvania, where the conservative Pat Toomey, the almost-certain Republican candidate for senator next year to run against the execrable Arlen Specter, is looking better and better:
"Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s 2010 reelection lead over Republican challenger Pat Toomey has shrunk to a tie with 45 percent for Specter and 44 percent for Toomey, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. And voters say 49 – 40 percent that Sen. Specter does not deserve reelection."
And for more good news, see--honest!--Adam Nagourney of the NY Times today, who says Republicans have a good shot at gaining big-time in governor's races next year:
"...there is the potential for some tangible good news for Republicans just over the horizon: the 2010 elections for governor. For a variety of reasons, like the economic problems crushing governors across the country and term-limit laws forcing out otherwise formidable Democratic incumbents, Republicans have a good shot at making gains in what is shaping up as a free-for-all for 39 governors’ seats next year. And 2010 is not just any election year: it is crucial given that this class of governors will be in charge as their states draw Congressional and state legislative districts as part of the reapportionment process after the next census. And given historical trends in midterm elections and the lopsided majority Democrats enjoy in Congress, the possibility that Republicans could make gains in House races next year could give the party a psychological boost at the halfway point of Mr. Obama’s term. That would certainly offer a welcome break for Republicans after the resignation of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and the marital difficulties of Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. “When I start looking at this chart, in some ways I’d sure rather be a Republican than a Democrat next year,” said Jennifer Duffy, who tracks governors’ races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers got a win they needed last night, winning at home over Seattle 9-7. The Tigers are 13-2 in their last 15 games at home. It was a sloppy win; maybe the best sign (I hope) to come out of it is that the slumping Magglio Ordonez hit a grand-slam home run. The Tigers need to see more of that. With the White Sox losing last night, the Tigers now lead the division by 2 games.
The Cubs though lost in 13 innings to Philadelphia, 4-1. They got a second consecutive solid start from Rich Harden--that's the good news. The bad news is that again they're not hitting--only 5 hits last night in 13 innings.
But look at the Texas Rangers--they beat Boston again last night, 4-2, for their 3rd straight win and second in a row over the tough Red Sox. Again, Rangers pitching sparkled--this time the youngster Tommie Hunter did the honors, and the bullpen again shut down the opposition. The question is, will the Angels run and hide--they swept a doubleheader yesterday, leaving the Rangers 3 games back.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

"Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell argued that a rapid-fire approach carries pitfalls similar to ones that have affected the $787 billion economic stimulus package. "Health care reform is too important to rush through and get wrong," the Kentucky lawmaker said in a Senate speech."

Bingo. These are changes which could affect every American profoundly, for decades to come. The idea that it has to be rushed through Congress is ridiculous; the danger of getting it wrong is too great. That's a common-sense argument, and the American people will get that. Make the argument, Republicans.
UPDATE: indeed, make it the way Rich Lowry made it today--why is President Obama in such a rush? Well:
"As with the stimulus package, Obama’s health-care plan depends on speed. More important than any given provision, more important than any principle, more important than sound legislating is the urgent imperative to Do It Now.Do it now, before anyone can grasp what exactly it is that Congress is passing. Do it now, before the overpromising and the dishonest justifications can be exposed. Do it now, before Obama’s poll numbers return to Earth and make it impossible to slam through ramshackle government programs concocted on the run. Do it now, because simply growing government is more important than the practicalities of any new program."

"Macomb County's [Board of Commissioners this morning approved a pay cut for themselves and voted to eliminate the county's public affairs office. The 26-member board, acting as a budget committee, passed a measure to cut their salaries and the pay of a proposed county executive by 5 percent by 2011."
Macomb County is located in southeastern Michigan.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers were off last night; they play Seattle at home tonight.
The Texas Rangers won a big one last night, beating the Red Sox 6-3. As always, Kevin Millwood gave them a good start; and Jarod Saltalamacchia and David Murphy had big hits. Again, though, you worry about the fact that most of the Rangers' runs scored as the result of home runs. This team leans too heavily on the big fly--they need to be able to string together singles and doubles, and manufacture runs, too.
But sure enough, last night for the Cubs playing the streaking Philadelphia Phillies was a tall order; the Phillies have won 9 straight and bombed the Cubs and Ted Lilly, 10-1. The Cubs will need a much better effort from their starters in the coming nights to slow the Phillies down.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday's musings...

Nope--see the growing reaction against President Obama's health care plans:
"Public support for President Barack Obama's handling of healthcare reform, the pillar of his legislative agenda, has fallen below 50 percent for the first time, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Monday said. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have run into stiff opposition this month as they try to pass legislation to restructure the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry through the creation of a government-run health insurance program.
Republicans and some fiscally conservative Democrats argue the plan, with an estimated cost of more than $1 trillion, could hurt small businesses, add to budget deficits and reduce the quality of medical care for many Americans. Those concerns may be having an impact on the public, according to the poll, which showed 49 percent of respondents approving of Obama's stand on the issue compared to 57 percent in April. Those saying they disapproved rose to 44 percent from 29 percent during the same period."

This then is the time for Republicans and conservatives to be bold, brave, loud and principled in their opposition to Obama's plans. Say you're opposed--and say why, referring to first principles and ideas.
And by the way, it's now becoming conventional wisdom among Washington beltway insiders that the Republican candidates will win the gubernatorial contests to be held this year in Virginia and New Jersey.
Liberal acquaintances of mine laugh this off and engage in the reductio ad absurdum fallacy of "well, we never said Republicans would never ever win another election!" Guess what--no one claimed you said that. You did however claim that the Republican "brand" had been seriously damaged, and these results, should they happen as they're now being forecast, are not evidence supporting your view...
Nor should the Obama folks claim that economic recovery is here, not yet. An example:
"The housing and condominium market in southeastern Michigan remained chaotic in June as the number of foreclosure sales doubled from a year ago, according to data provided by Farmington Hills-based RealComp II Ltd., the state's largest real estate Multiple Listing Service provider. The number of foreclosure sales rose to 3,593 in the six-county area included in the Realcomp data. Foreclosure sales in Oakland County went from 780 last month compared to 405 last June."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers still are not scoring any runs on the road; and so they were swept in New York over the weekend, losing the last two games by identical 2-1 scores. The Tigers went 1 for 26 with runners in scoring position. Look for the team to make a trade, and for Magglio Ordonez not to be playing that much in the days to come--he might not even be with the team much longer.
Only good news--the Tigers remain in first place, and they've got plenty of home games coming up, where they've played well.
Meanwhile the news was better elsewhere. The Cubs did what they had to do if they were going to make a run in the 2nd half of this season, and that was start strong at sad-sack Washington. The Cubs hit well and pitched well all series, including yesterday's 11-3 win, and Alfonso Soriano may be out of his slump. But the Cubs play at Philadelphia tonight; that will be a much sterner test.
The Texas Rangers got good work from their bullpen last night and pulled out a win over the Minnesota Twins, 5-3 in 12 innings. The winning hit was a home run from Ian Kinsler. The Rangers lost 2 of 3, but continued to get good pitching all weekend. You've gotta believe that, if the pitching can hold up, the Rangers' offense will get it going...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some Saturday stuff

So Walter Cronkite, the legendary CBS anchorman, is dead.
The article mentioned one example of Cronkite's influence--when he turned against the Vietnam war, President Lyndon Johnson was convinced that if he'd lost Cronkite, he'd lost the country. There's also another example--when Jimmy Carter was inviting influential people up to Camp David in the summer of 1979 to give him advice on what ailed America and where to go next in his presidency, Cronkite was one of the first he called.

I don't know that whatever advice he gave Carter helped him very much.
Given the steep decline these days in the number of viewers who watch and pay attention to network TV news, it's doubtful we'll see another anchor with the influence and iconic status of Walter Cronkite.

BASEBALL DIARY: not the greatest of news last night. The Tigers' bullpen, specifically Joel Zumaya, blew another game last night, allowing a 3-run homer to Mark Teixiera and giving the Yankees a 5-3 win. I see Zumaya is once again on the disabled list. Bad night for sure...
The Cubs managed to get some solid bullpen work and defeat the Nationals for the second straight night, 3-1. But they have to continue to win even when they aren't playing Washington...
And while the Texas Rangers got 3 RBIs from Josh Hamilton, nobody else got much going offensively as the team lost to Minnesota, 5-3. They're just not hitting as they can...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday's fish fry

Even with Obama and his minions singing kum-by-yahs, and even without George W. Bush as president:
"Suicide bombers posing as guests attacked American luxury hotels in Indonesia's capital and set off a pair of blasts Friday that killed eight people and wounded more than 50, authorities said. The bombings, which came two minutes apart, ended a four-year lull in terror attacks in the world's most populous Muslim nation. At least eight Americans were among the wounded."
Maybe our liberal friends can explain to us again just why it was so important that we utter the liberal platitudes that friend Obama has been uttering for months now, and why it was so horrible that Mr. Bush failed to utter them...

Well, he said he wanted to "own" the economy, and now he does...and he might wish he didn't:
"An average of five national polls conducted in July indicates that President Barack Obama's approval rating has slipped under 60 percent. Fifty-seven percent of Americans surveyed approve of the job Obama's doing as president, according to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled and released Friday, with 36 percent disapproving. In early June, Obama's average approval rating was 62 percent. It dropped a point to 61 percent by mid-June and stayed at that level through the rest of the month. "Recent polls indicate that Obama's lowest ratings — and biggest losses — come on the public's perception of how he is handling the economy," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "And the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows a double-digit drop in the number of Americans who think that the President has a clear plan for solving the country's problems. The public may not be as willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt after six months on the job as they did when he first took office."

President Obama has suggested that the federal government doesn't want to "run" the auto companies day to day, despite the bailouts. But Democratic Senator Tom Harkin seems to say otherwise today:
"Sen. Tom Harkin said he wants Congress to use a climate bill to force auto companies to make new cars and trucks capable of running on 85 percent ethanol as well as conventional gasoline.
"We own the automobile companies. Why not? I think that will be an easy one," Harkin said Thursday, referring to the government interests in Chrysler and General Motors."
And meanwhile, red tape (surprise!) slows down the rebuilding of a road in Elkhart, IN for which "stimulus" money is supposed to pay:
Traffic along this major thoroughfare heads south from the Interstate, bypasses downtown and then stops dead just outside of Goshen, the next town over. The plan to extend the road is approved and ready to go to bid within 60 days, according to county highway manager Jeff Taylor. But instead of digging new bridge foundations, Taylor said his department is digging through a deluge of government forms. “I’ve got an engineer full time and that’s just about all he’s doing is red tape every day — filling out forms, filling out forms,” he said. “You will not see stimulus used until next year because this year is going to be all red tape."

They continue, and that's got to make the Iranian regime nervous. It's been a while now since the crackdown, and the government still hasn't eliminated the opposition:
Tens of thousands of opposition supporters packed Iran's main Islamic prayer service Friday, chanting "freedom, freedom" and other slogans as their top clerical supporter, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, delivered a sermon sharply criticizing the country's leadership over the crackdown on election protests."

BASEBALL UPDATE: my favorite teams get back into action tonight; Tiger fans I trust were as proud as I was that, in the All-Star game Tuesday night, it was Curtis Granderson's triple that allowed the AL to score the winning run and win yet again...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

Well, she'll almost surely be confirmed, but...for those Republicans and conservatives tempted to support her, note that you'll then be supporting a whole bunch of questionable explanations for her beliefs, statements, and behavior.
How on earth, for example, can she claim that her "wise Latina" argument was just a misstatement that's been misperceived...when she used it 6 different times!

Jon minus Kate, and now he doesn't want to wait:
"Relationship fast-tracker Jon Gosselin flaunted his rebound romance with Hailey Glassman in the French Riviera this week, but there might be more to the whirlwind hook-up than any “Jon & Kate Plus 8” fan could have guessed. While the reality TV dad’s soon-be-ex-wife, Kate Gosselin, still wears her wedding ring, In Touch reports he gave Glassman a ring of her own.
“Jon has been telling everyone that he loves her and she loves him, so why waste time?” said an insider."

Apparently President Obama will go and campaign for embattled incumbent New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine:
"In the middle of making a hard push for health care reform before the August recess, President Obama is taking a time out to drum up support for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine in his race for re-election, where the Democratic incumbent has been consistently trailing his Republican opponent. The latest Quinnipiac University poll this week showed challenger Chris Christie pulling away, with a 53-41 percent lead over Corzine -- up from a 10-point lead in last month's survey."
I'm surprised--Corzine is in big, big trouble. It's hard to see an incumbent winning a race in which his negatives start out so high. And if the president campaigns for him, but Corzine winds up losing anyway, it's Mr. Obama's political capital that will take a hit--namely, the idea might grow that the president's coattails aren't quite as long as folks thought. But hey, we Republicans and conservatives will be more than delighted to see Obama take this kind of risk...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday's wash

"Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor declined repeatedly at Senate confirmation hearings Wednesday to disclose her views on abortion rights and said President Barack Obama never asked her before he chose her for the bench."

Of course he didn't. He didn't have to. He knew very well she's pro-choice and would satisfy his pro-choice constituency, otherwise he never would have asked her to be a candidate for the bench.

It's interesting though that she's busily sidestepping questions. I remember when Clarence Thomas did that, and a lot of Democrats claimed he was hiding his true beliefs and it was a reason to vote against him. I wonder if they'll feel the same way now...


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants back in the limelight, and she's sounding a bit frustrated about things, perhaps due to her apparently-small role in White House policymaking:

"Clinton's frustration was perhaps evident Monday when in a rare fit of pique, she lashed out at the White House for failing to quickly nominate someone to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development. In rather undiplomatic comments, Clinton criticized the White House vetting process as a "nightmare," "frustrating beyond words" and "ridiculous." She added that overly burdensome financial and personal disclosure requirements had led several candidates to withdraw. And, in an unusually blunt description of an administration squabble, she allowed that she had "tried very hard" but had been denied permission by the White House to tell USAID employees that they would soon get a new boss."

I wonder whether Mrs. Clinton will even make it through one term as part of the Obama administration...

Republicans go on the attack vs the Democrats' health care plan:
"House Democrats' health care reform bill would create a mind-boggling "web of bureaucracy," Republican critics charged Wednesday as they sought to block Democrats from hastily passing a costly and sweeping health package on orders from President Obama."

Read the whole thing. See especially the flow chart the Republicans created, which shows the complexity and bureaucracy such a plan as the Democrats' propose would create. Great visual...

"Take Medicare. The Government Accountability Office reports that the program makes about $17 billion in improper payments each year. And that doesn’t include problems in the new $60-billion-per-year prescription-drug plan, which is a juicy target for criminals. Harvard University’s Malcolm Sparrow, a specialist in health-care fraud, recently testified to Congress that official estimates are “lacking in rigor,” are “comfortingly low and quite misleading,” and exclude many kinds of fraud and abuse. He thinks that as much as 20 percent of the federal health-care budget is consumed by fraud, which would be $85 billion a year for Medicare.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

"President Barack Obama on Tuesday declined to predict how high unemployment will climb but made clear he expects it to keep worsening for a while as hiring lags behind other signs of economic recovery. "How employment numbers are going to respond is not year clear," the president said on a day when he was headed to Michigan, home of a particularly battered economy. "My expectation is that we will probably continue to see unemployment tick up for several months."

I see Sonia Sotomayor in her confirmation hearings is backing away from "wise Latina" remark as fast as she can.
Now she's claiming it was just a rhetorical device gone "awry" and says she has no bias. Perhaps. In any case, we conservatives can be proud of the fact that the pressure we put on helped get Ms. Sotomayor to run away from that position as fast as she could, and reminded people that claiming special insights on the basis of one's race or racist. Whether it's done by whites...or by others.

In New Jersey, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie continues to lead Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine--and now by 12 points.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post repeats what must have been stated by mainstream media types umpteen million times already in the past few months, that Republicans must "walk a fine line" during the Sotomayor hearings:
"That hardly diminishes what is at stake as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee turn to questioning Sotomayor. Republicans have the greater burden this week. They must tread carefully, balancing their desire to use the hearings to frame a debate over legal philosophies that their constituents want to see with their concern that they do nothing to show insensitivity or disrespect toward the fastest-growing minority group in the country."
Don't these guys get tired of repeating these mantras?
And here's a question--who really believes that in 2010 or 2012 voters will seriously be standing in voting booths casting ballots based on what happened in a confirmation hearing way back in July '09? Average people, who don't follow politics nearly as much or as closely as do all the beltway types, just don't have those kinds of memories...

Baseball is at its all-star break, so no baseball diary today. But we'll try to write about the all-star game in a day or two...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday's musings

Here's what it was all about:
"Government officials say the secret intelligence program canceled by CIA Director Leon Panetta in June was meant to find and kill or capture al-Qaida leaders at close range rather than target them with air strikes."

And I say, good for them for trying. The reason for the secrecy, then, is obvious. Time for everyone to calm down about this...0

Guess who's writing guest blog pieces on in support of the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor--Anita Hill.
CNN must be desperate. What David Brock wrote about Ms. Hill years ago, when she tried to trash the candidacy for the Court of Clarence Thomas, still stands--she remains "a little nutty, and a little slutty."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers won two of three over the weekend against Cleveland, beating the Indians yesterday 10-1. Tiger ace Justin Verlander dominated again, and recent minor-league callup Clete Thomas had a bunch of hits. Heading into the all-star break, the Tigers appear to be in decent shape. But as Jim Leyland says, they need to get their offense going...
But the Rangers struggled over the weekend, losing 3 of 4 in Seattle, including a 5-3 decision yesterday which was helped along by a number of cheap Seattle dribbler/hump-backed liner hits. But give the Mariners credit--their starting pitching, especially from Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, and Felix Hernandez is pretty tough.
Meanwhile the Cubs split a doubleheader, beating St. Louis in game 1 7-3 but losing the nightcap 4-2. In all, the Cubs remain at .500, 43-43...but only 3 plus games out of first. Given all their problems, injuries, and whatnot, if the Cubs can pull things together in the second half, they still have a good shot. And that's kind of amazing...

"Last week the Social Security Administration flew approximately 700 of its managers from across the U.S. and Guam to Phoenix, Arizona’s posh Arizona Biltmore Hotel and Resort, for “organizational training.” The event, which included musical entertainment and dancing, skits, catered food, cocktails, and a “casino night” featuring “door prizes,” cost us lowly taxpayers approximately $750,000."
Oh, well, maybe it was part of the "stimulus" package...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday stuff

I give him credit for having the guts to state some truths:
"An American president who has "the blood of Africa within me" praised and scolded the continent of his ancestors Saturday, asserting forces of tyranny and corruption must yield if Africa is to achieve its promise. "Yes you can," Barack Obama declared, dusting off his campaign slogan and adapting it for his foreign audience. Speaking to the Ghanaian Parliament, he called upon African societies to seize opportunities for peace, democracy and prosperity. "This is a new moment of great promise," he said. "To realize that promise, we must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential."

Too many on the left have blindly blamed Western "imperialism" or various other leftist bogeymen for Africa's troubles. Good for Obama for getting beyond such shibboleths.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers got another good start from Edwin Jackson last night, and beat Cleveland 5-1. With Armando Galarraga pitching better now, that gives the Tigers (hopefully!) 4 solid starters. And they now have 3 straight wins.
The Cubs, meanwhile, hit, fielded, and pitched poorly and lost to first-place St. Louis, 8-3. The Cubs are indeed in very dangerous territory here, as Derek Lee said after the game. They could completely get knocked out of the race.
But the Rangers did what they do--they got adequate pitching from the dependable Scott Feldman, who allowed only 2 runs through 6 plus innings, and then pounded out 3 home runs in beating Seattle 6-4. Michael Young's 3-run homer in the third was the key blow.

Though he's also rather oblivious, as Mark Steyn notes today:
"Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse, the Prince of Wales has warned. . . . And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the ‘age of convenience’ was over....He then got in his limo and was driven to his other palace."

Read the whole thing--it's hilarious, and spot-on.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday's fish fry

Again, very busy today, so not too much time to blog...but here are a few things:

It comes from Roland Burris, on why he won't run for re-election next year:
"Embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris planned Friday to say he won't run for a full term in 2010, making official the end of a short Senate career clouded by the circumstances of his appointment by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press, Burris said he was bowing out of the 2010 race because of the burden of raising money to pay for a campaign. "I was called to choose between spending my time raising funds, or spending my time raising issues for my state. I believe that the business of the people of Illinois should always come first," Burris said, according to the prepared remarks."

The truth of course is that he's so discredited now, that no one in his or her right mind would donate money to such a dishonest man.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers and Cubs were both off last night. The Rangers got a great pitching performance from Tommy Hunter, but the Seattle Mariners got an excellent one as well from Felix Hernandez and a big home run from Franklin Guiterrez, and they edged the Rangers 3-1. But the Rangers remained in first place, and if they keep getting that kind of starting pitching, hey--things will still be good.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

Once again, Republicans and average Americans refuse to listen to the media elites who immediately declared her latest move a failure and the end of her career:
"You betcha Sarah Palin is still a viable presidential candidate! Even though the governor of Alaska dropped the bombshell last week that she was leaving her post, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that her support among Republicans is still strong. In fact, her resignation seems to have even slightly boosted her among GOP constituents.
According to the nationwide poll, close to 67% of Republicans want Palin to be "a major national political figure" in the future. And 71% of them say they would likely vote for her if she ran for president in 2012."
And by the way, while Palin is gaining, President Obama is sinking a bit:
"In Ohio, where unemployment is above 10 percent and where Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will visit on Thursday, Mr. Obama’s popularity has dropped sharply. In a poll by Quinnipiac University earlier this week, 48 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, while 46 percent approved, down 11 percentage points since May."

Interesting--despite a recent lull and all the Iranian regime's threats, demonstrations in Iran flare up again. Ahmadinejad and co. can't be happy.

BASEBALL DIARY: again, decent news from the ball diamonds last night. The Tigers, thanks to an excellent start by rookie Luke French, beat Kansas City and Zach Greinke 3-1. That's two wins in a row; they've got to keep it going.
But the Cubs again struggled to score, losing 4-1 to Atlanta. The Cubs have averaged scoring only 3.4 runs per game over their past 50 games--that just won't get it done.
And then there's the Texas Rangers, who win yet another series from the LA Angels of Anaheim--the Rangers are 7-2 against the Angels so far this year--and get 3 home runs from Andruw Jones as they thump LA, 8-1. The Rangers are again alone in first place in the AL West. Vincente Padilla pitched another solid game. Can the Rangers keep this up?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday's wash

Our liberal friends always try to tell us that smoking bans in public places don't harm small businesses, such as bars. But try telling that to bar owners in Elkhart, Indiana:
"Elkhart went smoke-free May 15, 2008, at all public places and workplaces, including restaurants. A one-year exemption let the nearly two dozen bars allow smoking until May 15 of this year.But in the past two months, several bar owners have said they have suffered a 30 percent decrease in business since they went smokeless, said Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore."
By the way, speaking of nanny states, health care reform is coming--lovers of freedom, duck:
"Both those Americans who can’t afford to buy health insurance and those who have decided to get by without it will face the same order from congressional Democrats as they prepare legislation to overhaul health care: buy health insurance. And if they can’t afford the coverage, taxpayers will help them pay for it."
And then there's the Obama "stimulus" plan--which was supposed to be directed towards "shovel-ready" projects and create immediate jobs, isn't:
"Cash-strapped states have used federal stimulus dollars to close short-term budget gaps and avert major tax increases but generally have not directed the money toward long-term expansion, according to a new report. The report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, found that the $787 billion stimulus package is being used to "cushion" state budgets, prevent teacher layoffs, make more Medicaid payments and head off other fiscal problems."

Tony Blankley today makes a very good point--if Governor Palin is done, washed up, finished, as so many Washington insiders want to claim, then why all the attention paid to her?
"Professional politicians and political journalists don't waste energy on political corpses. They reserve their energy -- positive or negative -- for viable politicians.
Thus, an intriguing part of the Sarah Palin phenomenon is the intensity of response to her every word and move -- from both Republican Party and Democratic Party professionals and from the conventional media. The negative but sustained passion being expressed by the professional Washington political class against her tends to belie its almost unanimous assertion that she is washed-up. I happened to be on CNN Friday just as the story was breaking of Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska, and for the next hour, I was the only on-air guest -- Republican, Democrat, journalist, politician -- who was not overtly contemptuous and dismissive of Palin and her political future. On Sunday, as a panelist on ABC's "This Week," I was similarly situated. What is it about Palin that elicits such furious bipartisan Washington dismissiveness? After all, the polls show her to be tied with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee for the very early lead in the 2012 Republican primary. As an outspoken conservative with about an 80 percent favorable rating among Republicans and a high-40s percentage favorable plurality among independents, objectively she should be seen as quite competitive nationally compared with other Republicans, particularly given that Republicans are generically weak and that she has been targeted so viciously by the media."

Read the whole thing. Remember that Democrats and liberal media types had Richard Nixon--who they hated with an even greater passion than they dislike Ms. Palin--dead and buried political numerous times before 1968. But that year, he was elected president.

BASEBALL DIARY: some better news last night. The Tigers beat Kansas City 8-5, as Justin Verlander was tough when he had to be, and players like Marcus Thames and Placido Polanco stepped up offensively. The Tigers could use another win today...
The Cubs, however, once again failed to score many runs, and lost 2-1 to the Braves, wasting a decent start by Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs really need their offense to start producing, especially players like Geovany Soto.
But the Texas Rangers won a big one last night, beating the Angels in California 8-5 and thus getting back into a tie for first place. Credit Derek Holland with good long relief, and Andruw Jones and Ian Kinsler with some big hits.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

Been very busy today, so not much time for blogging. But there is this...

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers continue to be in an offensive funk, and so last night they lose to Kansas City, 4-3. The Tigers are 35-10 when they score 4 runs or more. They just don't do it enough.
Meanwhile, Kevin Millwood didn't hit his spots, gave up 9 runs in 5 innings, and so it's no surprise the Rangers lost to the Angels, 9-4. That puts the Angels back alone in first place in the AL West.
But the Cubs have now won 6 of 8, are two games over .500, and are still within easy striking distance in the NL Central after beating Atlanta 4-2 last night. Cub rookie starter Randy Wells has been a real find.

In other news, so they finally had the Michael Jackson memorial service today. I understand the pain all his fans feel. But this has been one of the longest goodbyes in a long time, hasn't it?
I get the sense that while some people still can't get enough of MJ, there are plenty of others who are thoroughly, thoroughly sick of it. I think there's a divide in this country over this, one that doesn't have the importance or social significance that, say, the O.J. Simpson verdict has, but exists, nevertheless...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday's musings

One of the things we conservatives point out is that man is very, very fallible--that unfortunately he tends to do wrong, to do evil, and paradoxically that's why, though we need a government, it's dangerous to give that government too much power. So I thought we'd spend today taking a look at what we mean by this, simply looking at today's headlines...
From Ohio:
"Police in Canton say they arrested a man accused in the fatal shooting of a 2-year-old girl in her home. Police say 21-year-old William Hiram Ferguson was one of two men who entered the home Thursday night and demanded money. The toddler, Harmoney Sankey, was shot and killed, and her grandfather was assaulted and shot in the leg."
From Twitter:
"Cybercriminals are rapidly using Twitter - the popular Web-messaging service - to direct users to websites that sell porn and fake drugs and trigger promotions for fake anti-virus subscriptions."
From China:
"Riots and street battles killed at least 140 people in China's western Xinjiang province and injured 828 others in the deadliest ethnic unrest to hit the region in decades. Officials said Monday the death toll was expected to rise."
From South Carolina:
"A small South Carolina town is being terrorized by a serial killer who is, "very capable of killing again."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers continue their maddening inconsistency--they had a 7 game winning streak, then went on the road and went 3-6, including a 6-2 loss to Minnesota yesterday. They won the first game over this past weekend in Minnesota, then lost the last two. A lot of it is their offense--11 runs this past Friday night, but then only 3 and 2 the next two games. They're lucky to still be in first place.
The Cubs though may be on the rebound--they took 3 of 4 over the weekend from Milwaukee, and won yesterday 8-2. The team got good starting pitching from Ted Lilly. Derek Lee continues to swing a hot bat. The Cubs are only 2 and 1/2 games out of first, despite how poorly they've played...
And the Texas Rangers are back to 10 games over .500 and have served notice they'll be hanging around a bit, as they swept Tampa Bay this past weekend, including last night's 5-2 win. Pitching, defense, and small-ball helped the Rangers win 5 straight. Now they go to California to play the Angels--should be interesting.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In Memoriam: Jerry Dieterman, RIP

He was my uncle; he married my father's sister back in 1949. For a long time he was a successful businessman in Grand Rapids, Michigan; he died today after a short illness. He was 82.

But to me, he was always my Uncle Jerry. He wasn’t just an uncle. He was a friend; he always could make you laugh, even maybe when he didn’t feel good or things weren’t going exactly right. He always had a joke or something funny to say about something or someone. He always had words of wisdom, too; he always knew what was really important, and to him that was his faith and his family.

When you remember Jerry, what always comes back to you are snapshots—pictures of people or events that remain in your mind, memories of things in your past. I have a whole lot of snapshots of Uncle Jerry—some of my earliest memories are of him. I remember when I was really young, there was this picture on the wall at his house of a rather overweight clown with a big red nose on his face. People would point at it and say to me, “who’s that?” I would answer: “Uncle Jerry!” Jerry didn’t mind—he would laugh uproariously. He loved to laugh. He loved to see me laugh. Our two families would sit around the table on Sundays when we were together, eating our late afternoon Sunday meal, and Uncle Jerry would start joking about this or that, and I’d be laughing so hard, sometimes it was hard to eat. When you were around him, you felt better. That's a great quality to have.

He never failed to ask me how I was doing, how school was going or, later, when I got older, how my teaching was going. He always seemed to know what I was up to, no matter how long it had been since I’d seen him last. Of course, some of my fondest memories are of going with him to Ann Arbor to watch the University of Michigan play football. Jerry never attended Michigan; but he lived in that state all his life, and one time in 1945 he had a chance to go to a game. He loved it, and fell in love with Michigan football. And I’ll always be grateful that he was willing to have me go along to the games, too—lord knows there were plenty of other people he could have taken. But I think he knew that, by the time I’d reached my teen years, anyway, I’d come to love football and Michigan a lot, too; he realized that I'd become a real fan, that I wasn't just a kid anymore. I was grateful for that.

But going to those games for him, I’m convinced, wasn’t only about loving football and rooting for Michigan, although of course that was part of it. It was also about how much he loved being with his friends and family. I still remember one time, years ago, being at a game with him, a beautiful, sunny, warm day, and the game was almost over, with Michigan way ahead, and Uncle Jerry suddenly said, “There’s nothing I like more than being in this stadium with everybody on a sunny, Saturday afternoon…” And I know he meant that. To him it was about the game, but also about doing something he loved with people he cared about.

And that’s a great thing. I can’t wait to take my son to his first game. It will be a great experience. I’ll always remember when my Dad and Jerry took me to mine.

Maybe that too is why Jerry loved it when we’d all come over to the Dieterman house for Thanksgiving and other holidays—he loved his home, being around his family…and on Thanksgiving (for example) he’d get that, and football. Great stuff; and I will always remember sitting there with him on Thanksgiving Day, watching the Detroit Lions with him, seeing them lose more often than they won, for sure, but…in the end, what was important was that we were all together and enjoying ourselves, as an extended family. And I know he felt strongly about that, and that’s something I’ll always take away from having known him.

I really wish he could have met my son. But we can be sure of this much—my son will know who his uncle was. And I think, having known and been around Jerry for as long as I was, that a little bit of Uncle Jerry is in me; and therefore, some of Jerry will be in my son too, coming through me. At least, I’m sure going to try and make sure that’s the case.

My uncle was a great guy, and I'll miss him. So today I dedicate this blog to him, and to his memory, and to his values of faith, and family.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday's wash

It ain't over--the opposition isn't giving up:
"Iran's embattled opposition leader urged his supporters Wednesday to keep pressing for their rights, and he joined a reformist ex-president to denounce what both men called the regime's "coup" against those contesting the outcome of last month's presidential election."
Now the question is--will the protests resume, and remain significant in size...
Meanwhile, the Iranian regime didn't waste much time in striking back:
"Iran's government was accused of blocking publication of a reformist party's newspaper Wednesday to prevent it publishing a letter from a presidential candidate questioning the legitimacy of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in last month's election."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers found a way to win last night on the road in Oakland, edging the As 5-3. Placido Polanco's power helped out--he had another two-run homer. But the big story was probably Armando Galarraga, who won his 2nd straight start last night. The Tigers need him. He still walked too many--6. But he gave up only two hits. The Tigers could really use another win tonight, to get to .500 on this road trip they're on. Minnesota awaits, after all...
As for the Cubs--well, once again, bewilderingly, their offense is nowhere to be found as they lose to the Pirates, 3-0.
But finally the Texas Rangers broke out their bats, scoring 9 runs last night against the division-leading Angels and winning 9-5. Kudos go to Scott Feldman for pitching capably for his usual 6 innings, and to Marlon Byrd for hitting two home runs. The Rangers too could really use another win tonight--it would mean a win in the series, get them back to only a half-game out of first, and create some momentum (hopefully).

You can tell it's a lousy, recessioning economy when good news amounts to headlines announcing that sales of this and that (in this case, cars) fell "less than expected."
Don't forget that these kind of headlines could well be the byproduct of pro-Obama media members wanting so badly for folks to believe that recovery is coming (for which they believe Obama should get the credit, of course...)
Meanwhile, kinda hard to spin this as good news:
"Construction spending fell more than expected in May, a sign the problems facing the nation's builders are far from over. The Commerce Department says construction spending dropped 0.9 percent in May, nearly double the 0.5 percent drop that economists expected. Adding to the signs of weakness, activity in the past two months was revised lower."

Al Franken is now the new junior senator from Minnesota. Ugh.
At the same time, it was obvious months ago that this was going to be the outcome. Probably Coleman should have given up the ghost way before this. Could he ever run again in Minnesota? Or will folks there brand him as a sore loser? That's the question...

So what's wrong with Obama's plans? National Review's editors summarize what should be conservative concerns very nicely:
"Very little in the Democratic bills making their way through Congress would do anything to reduce costs, while the new subsidies their authors envision would increase costs. That is why the Democrats are talking about both explicit and disguised tax increases. During the ABC special, the president hinted that reform would give doctors and hospitals new incentives to avoid unnecessary care. But since government cannot reliably distinguish between the necessary and the unnecessary, all it can do is encourage less care — and leave it to doctors and other health-care workers to administer the rationing. Obama would be well-advised, for his political health, to do no more than hint at this prospect."
Rationing--keep that word in mind.

Oh, boy, that Obama "stimulus" package was going to get right to work, spending money, creating jobs, having an immediate impact--or so they told us. But the reality is different:
"The idea behind the government's economic stimulus package was to get money flowing through the system, boost economic activity and create jobs. But an review of the latest federal spending data shows that the money is flowing at a trickle.....As of mid-June, for example, spending by the Transportation Deptartment for so-called "shovel ready" projects represented barely 2 percent of available funds. The EPA has barely touched its $4.4 billion in stimulus spending. Same for the Defense Department.According to our calculations, roughly $53 billion or one-third of the $150 billion in fiscal stimulus money available for this year has been spent as of June 19. As a percentage of the $479 billion in total stimulus funds, that represents only 11.1 percent."

Nope--note for example some recent evidence from Gallup on how the American people now see the Democrats:
"A Gallup Poll finds a statistically significant increase since last year in the percentage of Americans who describe the Democratic Party's views as being "too liberal," from 39% to 46%. This is the largest percentage saying so since November 1994, after the party's losses in that year's midterm elections."