Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday's wash

Whoopi Goldberg and others in Hollywood are defending Roman Polanski, though I don't know how much he'd appreciate this "defense":
"Actress Debra Winger says it’s “a three-decades-old case that is dead but for minor technicalities.” Yeah, one technicality being he fled the country to avoid sentencing after officials said he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. Whoopi Goldberg says Polanski didn’t commit “rape-rape."

1] Of course he committed "rape-rape"--she was 13 years old, he manipulated her, and had sex with her. Nobody denies that. 2] But can you imagine the yelling if conservatives had defended, say, a conservative politician against charges like this by claiming it wasn't "rape-rape"??? Feminists like Goldberg would be yelling that there's no such thing. But Polanski is one of them, so they trot out an argument like this. Wow.

BASEBALL DIARY: so the Tigers split their doubleheader with the Twins yesterday, losing the first game in a tense gut-wrencher, 3-2; but winning the nightcap, 6-5. Two great games. All hail Justin Verlander, who pitched like an ace in a must-win situation. But I agree with others--the Twins aren't going away...
In other games, the Cubs beat the Pirates 6-2, but are eliminated from playoff contention. At least the team is finishing somewhat strong--and the Cubs guaranteed themselves their 3rd straight winning season, which hasn't happened for a while.
And the Texas Rangers too were officially eliminated from the playoff race, losing again to the Angels, 5-2. But as pitcher Scott Feldman said afterwards, hopefully the Rangers will keep most of this year's team around.

From her column today, remembering William Safire:
"Bill Safire was anything but a nattering nabob of negativity. He had none of the vile and vitriol of today’s howling pack of conservative pundits: Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter and Malkin."

Yet more evidence that she's never actually listened to Limbaugh, for instance--and kn0ws nothing of his parodies both in words and in music, which are hysterically funny, especially when they skewer stuffy liberal stereotypes. But hey, actually listening to and reading conservatives would mean Dowd and friends would have to deal with facts, and not myths and stereotypes.

Recent polls have Republican Bob McDonnell up by 9 and 14 points in the Virginia governor's race. On the other hand, some polls have the Christie/Corzine race in New Jersey tightening. And yet Corzine's approval rating remains so low there that I have to believe in the end, undecideds will break big for I'm not worried too much about that one (yet).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

"The Senate Finance Committee has voted against creating a new government health insurance plan to compete with the private market. The 15-to-8 vote could forecast the fate of the public option in the Senate as a whole. The outcome was expected but still a defeat for liberals who view government-sponsored insurance for the middle class as a key component of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul....Opponents said a public option would drive private insurers out of business and amount to a government takeover. Proponents said it would give consumers choice and competition."

Note--five Democrats, including Chairman Baucus, vote against the public option. That gives you a hint of where THEY think public opinion is on this.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers and Twins were rained out yesterday. Their monster series thus resumes today with a day/night doubleheader. If the Tigers can split, I'll be happy.
Meanwhile the Angels clinched the AL West title last night with an 11-0 thrashing of the Rangers. The Angels indeed overcame sadness (the death of teammate Nick Adenhart) and a lot of injuries this year, and they certainly deserved the title. But the Rangers improved greatly, and they now need to finish strong. 90 wins is within reach yet.

It's Richard Cohen of the Washington Post--and he makes good points:
"Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief."

Of course this point has been made by many already. Appearing on 5 Sunday news shows in one day, obviously over-exposing himself...what was the president and his aides thinking? Are they really so smart and brilliant as people have portrayed them? One wonders.

Cohen went on to say:
"The trouble with Obama is that he gets into the moment and means what he says for that moment only. He meant what he said when he called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" -- and now is not necessarily so sure. He meant what he said about the public option in his health care plan -- and then again maybe not. He would not prosecute CIA agents for getting rough with detainees -- and then again maybe he would. Most tellingly, he gave Congress an August deadline for passage of health care legislation -- "Now, if there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town ..." -- and then let it pass. It seemed not to occur to Obama that a deadline comes with a consequence -- meet it or else."

Conservatives have been on top of this Obama penchant to, er, change his story for some time. It's good to see non-conservatives starting to pick up on it too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday's musings

"Iran tested its most advanced missiles Monday to cap two days of war games, raising more international concern and stronger pressure to quickly come clean on the newly revealed nuclear site Tehran was secretly constructing."

The Obama administration needs to convince Iran that it should fear us--and fast.
FUNDAMENTAL: I'm not convinced at all that the Obama administration's emphasis on soft power (read: diplomacy) in its first 8 months in office has, to say the least, quieted Iran's aggressiveness.

FOOTBALL DIARY: boy, the Indianapolis Colts were impressive last night in whipping Arizona, 31-10, weren't they? They rolled up 505 yards of total offense and the defense responded to the challenge, holding Kurt Warner down. If they play like this, this team can contend for the Super Bowl. Let's see if it will.
And do you believe in miracles? Yes! The Detroit Lions won a football game yesterday, beating Washington 19-14. Seriously, the key to the game was Matthew Stafford playing well, hitting 60% of his passes, and--key--no Lion turnovers.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lose two of 3 over the weekend to the White Sox--what else is new? This team isn't exactly a bunch of road warriors--but luckily it all comes down, really, to 4 games this week vs home. If the Tigers can just split the series, they'll be in good shape. It would sure help to win the opener tonight. Rick Porcello pitches for Detroit--he's won some big games this season.

Why is President Obama going to Copenhagen to make a pitch for the 2016 Olympics to be held on U.S. soil? Won't he be criticized for taking time away from more important things? Ramesh Ponnuru today explains:
"...[Some[ seem to think that the president is taking time away from more important things to go to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago to get the 2016 games. They're wrong. He is taking time away from more important things to go get the credit for bringing the Olympics to Chicago."

He claims his "stimulus" package mysteriously "saves" jobs. Now he hopes he'll be able to claim he saved the Olympics. Makes sense.

"Imprisoned director Roman Polanski is in a “fighting mood” and willbattle U.S. attempts to have him extradited from Switzerland toCalifornia to face justice for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in1977, his lawyer said Monday."
I'm of two minds on this issue. On the one hand, one can't help butthink: this all happened long ago, Mr. Polanski is 76 years old now,the young girl he molested, now in her 40s, wants clemency for him, sowhy not let it go.

But on the other hand: suppose it was your daughter whom RomanPolanski had targeted. Would you be willing to let it go???

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday football picks (and other stuff)

Last week I was 11-4-1; I'm 17-10-1 for the season.

ALABAMA 17.5 over Arkansas. PICK: CRIMSON TIDE. Big talent gap, and they're at home.

California 5.5 over OREGON. PICK: GOLDEN BEARS. This is a tough one, and could go either way. But you had to be impressed with Cal's victory in a tough environment at Minnesota. And the Duck defense is, well...more quack than quick.

CINCINNATI 16.5 over Fresno State. PICK: BEARCATS. They're at home, and they can score a lot of points. Watch out for this Cincy team.

CLEMSON 2.5 over TCU. PICK: HORNED FROGS (upset special). TCU has a lot of speed, a good defense, and they've been pointing to this game. Gary Patterson's team has won in tough environments before.

Florida 21.5 over KENTUCKY. PICK: WILDCATS. Not to win; but, at home, with a capable offense, Kentucky can score enough points to keep this one closer than 3 TDs. Kentucky has played these guys tough before.

GEORGIA TECH 2.5 over North Carolina. PICK: YELLOW JACKETS. Paul Johnson has had some time to correct problems since their loss to Miami; and his option offense can give teams fits.

HOUSTON 1 over Texas Tech. PICK: RED RAIDERS. Tech showed some toughness last week, despite the loss at Texas. They gave the "Horns a tough battle. And they can score, and Houston's defense is leaky. Look for Mike Leach's offense to outscore 'em.

Miami 2.5 over VIRGINIA TECH. PICK: HURRICANES. Because I'm so impressed with Jacory Harris, Miami's QB. And Va Tech's play has been uneven; they struggled to beat a less-than-awesome Nebraska team last week.

MICHIGAN 20.5 over Indiana. PICK: WOLVERINES. Their running game will continue to shine.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE 1 over Pittsburgh. PICK: PANTHERS. Dave Wannstedt's team has steadily improved when it comes to winning road games.

NORTHWESTERN 1.5 over Minnesota. PICK: GOLDEN GOPHERS. Because their defense is better.

Notre Dame 7 over PURDUE. PICK: FIGHTING IRISH. Purdue won't be able to slow down Jimmy Clausen and the Irish offense, even with Michael Floyd out. Look for Armando Allen to have a big game.

STANFORD 7.5 over Washington. PICK: CARDINAL. Look for the Huskies to suffer a letdown in this one, on the road.

WISCONSIN 3 over Michigan State. PICK: BADGERS. The Spartans look to me like a team, this year, that's going to be good at finding ways to lose.

Last week I was 10-6; not bad! I'm 18-13-1 for the season.

NEW YORK JETS 2.5 over Tennessee. PICK: TITANS. Yes, the Jet defense has been tough. But I have to believe that the Titans have too much talent and too good of a coach in Jeff Fisher to lose 3 straight games. Tennessee's secondary has struggled against the pass this season so far; but the Jets don't throw it much. Look for the Titans' D to rebound.

HOUSTON 4 over Jacksonville. PICK: TEXANS. The Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson tandem is heating up. The Jaguars, meanwhile, seem lost.

PHILADELPHIA 9 over Kansas City. PICK: EAGLES. Because KC has such trouble scoring. Look for variations of the "wildcat" formation with Michael Vick to confuse the Chiefs.

BALTIMORE 13.5 over Cleveland. PICK: RAVENS. Usually I'd say this is too many points to cover. But the Browns' offense so far has looked inept; now they must face Ray Lewis and co. And Joe Flacco and the Ravens' O is clicking.

NY Giants 6.5 over TAMPA BAY. PICK: GIANTS. Eli Manning to have his way with the Bucs' secondary.

Washington 6.5 over DETROIT. PICK: REDSKINS. I'd love to be able to predict that the Redskins will overlook the Lions. But that possibility is all anyone's been talking about in Washington and Detroit all week--making it unlikely it'll happen. A Redskins team under fire in the nation's capital will be hungry for a win. Meanwhile the Lions so far keep making too many mistakes.

GREEN BAY 6.5 over St. Louis. PICK: PACKERS. Aaron Rodgers will have his way with the Rams' secondary; and the Rams just can't score, period.

MINNESOTA 7 over San Francisco. PICK: 49ERS. That 49er defense is much improved. It will at the least keep this game close, very close.

NEW ENGLAND 4 over Atlanta. PICK: PATRIOTS. I just think that at home, with time to make lots of corrections in how their O-line will handle blitzes etc, Brady and Belichick will figure out ways to get it done against a good Atlanta team.

Chicago 2 over SEATTLE. PICK: BEARS. Because the Bears' offense and Jay Cutler seem to be figuring things out...and the Seahawks are bedeviled by injuries, especially to Matt Hasselbeck.

New Orleans 6 over BUFFALO. PICK: SAINTS. Have you seen Drew Brees and that Saints offense? It is fast, it is dynamic, it's put up 45 and 48 points in the first two weeks. And it's not just a pass-happy deal; the Saints have a run game too with Mike Bell. I don't think the Bills will slow them down, either.

SAN DIEGO 6 over Miami. PICK: DOLPHINS. I have a hunch Philip Rivers will pull this game out in the end. But it will be close, very close, given the Chargers' many injuries and that I think Miami now has its run game going.

Pittsburgh 4 over CINCINNATI. PICK: STEELERS. Cincinnati is improved. But the Steelers historically have played well, and much smarter, in Cincy than the Bengals.

Denver 1.5 over OAKLAND. PICK: BRONCOS. I'm just not sold on JaMarcus Russell and the whole situation in Oakland.

ARIZONA 2.5 over Indianapolis. PICK: CARDINALS. I'd love to pick the Colts here. But I can't--they have a short week of practice, given their Monday night game; their defense was gassed at the end of that battle, and still has trouble stopping the run. They've got to go on the road again and face a dynamic offense in Kurt Warner and the Cardinals. Look for AZ to outscore 'em.

DALLAS 9 over Carolina. PICK: PANTHERS. Not to win the game; but to keep it close. The Dallas defense has given up over 800 yards total these first two games. One suspects Tony Romo's confidence is wavering. Jake Delhomme has his own problems, which is why I see Dallas winning this one when all is said and done. But a blowout? I doubt it.

BASEBALL DIARY: The Detroit Tigers again did what they had to do last night, completing the sweep of Cleveland, 6-5.
I said yesterday this was a vital game--and the Tigers won it. Give credit to Justin Verlander,
who pitched well; to Tiger batters like Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge, and Aubrey Huff, who got key hits after showing patience at the plate; and to ghe bullpen, which always gives us a scare, but more often than not has gotten the key outs.

"Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned President Barack Obama against pressing Tehran about new revelations that Iran has been constructing a secret uranium-enrichment plant. "If I were Obama's adviser, I would definitely advise him to refrain making this statement because it is definitely a mistake," Ahmadinejad told TIME in New York on Friday. "It would definitively be a mistake."

Will Obama stick to his guns? And will he be able to rally the entire Western alliance behind his stand--including Germany, for instance, which has yet to be heard from on Iran lately? We'll see. And how long have we known about this Iranian facility? It appears we've known about it for some time. If so, why all this eagerness to trust Iran enough to re-engage with them? They sure didn't earn it.

"On The Charlie Rose Show, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said that health-care legislation will pass and will be bipartisan even if only Democrats vote for it. His justification: The bill will include "bipartisan ideas," including some that Senator John McCain advocated in his presidential campaign last year."

Wow! Usually a reference to "bipartisan" legislation means that members of both parties voted for it. Now, according to Mr. Emanuel, it doesn't matter WHO voted for it, as long as you can make vague references to bipartisan "ideas." Folks, that is Bill-Clintonian-it-depends-on-what-the-definition-of-"is"-is dishonest verbal gamesmanship; don't fall for it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

...will be former DNC head, and former Kennedy confidant and key player in Kennedy's 1980 campaign for the presidency, Paul Kirk. Note that basically the Kennedys got who they wanted:
"Kirk, a Kennedy family friend, served on the senator's staff for eight years and is chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Kennedy's widow, Vicki Kennedy, and son Edward Kennedy Jr. had urged Patrick to pick Kirk and attended the announcement at the Massachusetts Statehouse."

And so he was chosen. Shouldn't surprise anyone.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers did what they needed to do last night, pummeling the Indians 11-3. Rick Porcello got his 14th victory. Not bad for a rookie. Carlos Guillen hit 2 home runs. The Tigers will really need his bat down this final stretch. Tonight's pitching matchup seems to favor the Tigers--they'll have Justin Verlander going against Cleveland rookie Carlos Carrasco. A win would give Detroit a 3-game lead over the idle Twins. They need it.
Meanwhile the Cubs lose to Milwaukee 3-2. It's the story of the Cubs' season--they strike out 10 times against unheralded Milwaukee pitcher Chris Narveson.
The Texas Rangers though managed to beat Oakland, 9-8. Good to see Hank Blalock homer and have a bunch of RBIs, and the Ranger bullpen hold a lead. That's one victory closer to 90 for Texas.

The more it gets analyzed, the more naive it becomes. For example, as Charles Krauthammer points out:
"...the alarming part is what he said in the same paragraph where he said that it makes no sense anymore "the alignments of nations that are rooted in the cleavages of the Cold War." Well, NATO is rooted in the cleavage of the Cold War. The European Union is rooted in the cleavage of the Cold War. Our alliances with Japan and Korea and the Philippines, our guarantees to Taiwan and Eastern Europe are all rooted in the cleavage of the Cold War. (Interesting noun, incidentally.) So he is saying that is all now irrelevant. What does he think our allies are going to think who hear this?"

That's the key--I don't think either he or his advisers thought it through that far.

Important--Obama may be losing the support of independents:
"Independents gave Obama the White House last year with a vote for pragmatic competence. They have been repaid with partisanship and dithering. And unlike liberals who Obama has quickly re-energized after their summer doldrums, independents are devilishly hard to win back once they lose faith. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the Rolls-Royce of public surveys, showed that for the first time, independents disapproved of the president's performance, 46 percent to 41 percent....More shocking is that independent voters now favor a Republican-controlled Congress by a four-point margin and would overwhelmingly like to see their own member of the House replaced."
The 2010 elections are only 58 weeks away...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday's wash

...see the life of troubled celebrity Mackenzie Phillips.
We've known about her drug use for some time; she revealed that publicly years ago.
Hopefully she has no more dark secrets to reveal.

It's rather filled with too much naivete and soporifics:
"President Obama: “The yearning for peace is universal.”
Which of course is not true. Adolf Hitler didn't yearn for peace. Benito Mussolini didn't yearn for peace. Neither did the radical nationalists in the Japanese military in the 1930s.

Republican Chris Christie continues to enjoy a consistent, and healthy, lead in the New Jersey governor's race...
And in New York state, polls suggest that Rudy Giuliani should seriously consider running for the Senate, trying to take Kirsten Gillibrand's seat (she replaced Hillary Clinton).

BASEBALL DIARY: Tigers win last night, defeating Cleveland 3-1. What was important: Edwin Jackson pitched a gem--maybe he's got his mojo back (he's slumped a bit the last month). If the Tigers get to the playoffs, they'll need Jackson to be at his best to actually do anything there. And note the contributions of Ryan Raburn--he threw out a baserunner to end an inning last night, and hit his 14th home run.
Meanwhile, the Cubs now are playing good ball, now that they're basically out of playoff contention and Milton Bradley is gone. They beat Milwaukee last night, 7-2; Derek Lee, a true professional and outstanding Cub, hit his 35th home run.
Meanwhile the Texas Rangers continue to struggle, losing to Oakland 9-1. The A's, to give them credit, are now 14-6 in September. The Rangers should focus on trying to win 90 games; that would be a good milestone and show the improvement they've made this year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

It now seems clear that someone--either high up in the military or perhaps even within the Obama administration itself--leaked the McChrystal report yesterday in order to pressure the administration into increasing our efforts in Afghanistan:
“It’s an effort — whether by [McChrystal] or by somebody in the Pentagon or maybe the White House — to say, ‘You’ve asked the military to give you not what you want to hear but what you have to know. Now it’s up to you as commander in chief to decide if you think you have a better idea.’” The leak is a shot across the bows, [former Clinton administration Secretary of Defense William Cohen] said, of Vice President Joe Biden and of leading congressional Democrats who oppose a buildup in Afghanistan."

There are divisions within this administration. It happens to all presidencies...but it's occurring rather early in this one.

Well, sometimes it's hard to come up with new superlatives or descriptions of Indianapolis Colts games, such as last night's contest. They hardly have the ball, the Dolphins run for well over 200 yards and dominate time of possession, but again...Peyton Manning finds ways to win, helping the Colts beat Miami, 27-23. The Colts must find a way to fix that run defense, though; giving up that kind of yardage is no way to win consistently, especially in the playoffs. One wonders why, as Jon Gruden suggested during the game last night, the Colts didn't move their safety up into the box every time the "wildcat" formation came up, to help stuff the run. Clearly the Dolphins weren't going to pass out of that formation. At the same time, on a positive note, last night's game showed how important it is for Manning to have Dallas Clark in the game at tight end. He had over 150 yards in receptions last night. And the defense did give a tremendous effort on that last drive of the game to hold the Dolphins out--they had to be tired.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers were off last night. The Twins beat the White Sox, so the Tigers' lead in the AL Central is now at 2 and 1/2 games. Nervous time.
Meanwhile the Cubs at least have not quit--they beat the Brewers last night 10-2. They'll likely finish at over .500 for the season. Next season will find them without Milton Bradley--thank goodness. Derek Lee has had an outstanding year--he now has 107 RBIs.
And the Texas Rangers haven't quit either--they finally scored some runs last night and beat Oakland, 10-3. It was good to see Kevin Millwood rally and pitch a good game--he's really struggled. This is a team that has a lot of good young players--next season, it will be fun to watch them develop.

Rich Lowry makes a great point today: over the past couple of years, Democrats--and President Obama especially--insisted that they were committed to Afghanistan, that it was important for the U.S. to win there, to defeat the terrorists there, to stick it out there until we won. But now? Now they sound a different tune--especially the president:
"The Democratic vote that counts most is that of Pres. Barack Obama, who looks as wobbly as the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It’s understandable that he’d want to deliberate carefully about a decision to send as many as 45,000 more troops. But on his Sunday-show marathon, Obama questioned the premises of the war. He complained of “mission creep” in Afghanistan and claimed, “I wanted to narrow it.”If so, this is the only news from his mind-numbing round of interviews. In August, he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that Afghanistan is “a war of necessity,” because “if left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.” In March, he announced “a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He called for reversing the Taliban’s gains by taking the fight to the insurgents, training the Afghan security forces and promoting a better Afghan government. If the mission “creeped,” Obama did it.If Obama never meant what he said about Afghanistan — or has changed his mind — this is the time to say it."

Just so--and Republicans and conservatives need to start hammering away on this point. Once again, our liberal friends are going wobbly when it comes to the use of force, when it comes to keeping our national security commitments, when it comes to defeating the enemy (remember Vietnam?). They can't be allowed to get away with it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday musings...

Rock musician Dave Mathews today says he just KNOWS racism is everywhere in the U.S.:
"Of course it is! I found there's a fairly blatant racism in America that's already there, and I don't think I noticed it when I lived here as a kid. But when I went back to South Africa, and then it's sort of thrust in your face, and then came back here -- I just see it everywhere. There's a good population of people in this country that are terrified of the president only because he's black, even if they don't say it. And I think a lot of them, behind closed doors, do say it."

That's the key for many of our friends on the left--they can't prove their opponents are racist; indeed, they don't believe they have to prove it. They just "know" that it's their and that their evil opponents keep it "behind closed doors." To them, what's there to prove?

President Obama appears on no less than 5 Sunday talk shows yesterday, but even Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post--certainly no right-winger--is skeptical:
"So did Obama score? While the White House plan was for Obama to focus primarily on health care and Afghanistan, he broke no new ground on either subject, repeating points he has made many times. Some topics varied — "State of the Union" host John King asked about North Korea; "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked about the ACORN scandal — but the game plans were strikingly similar."

We'll see where the polls go, but given that no new ground was broken, I'd be shocked if much changed.

The latest polls indicate that the Virginia governor's race has tightened up.
That figured to happen, especially given outlets such as the Washington Post's rather obvious cheerleading on behalf of the Democratic candidate. But the good news remains--GOP candidate McDonnell remains in the lead, and polls consistently show that Virginians overwhelmingly want change (and the current governor in Virginia is a Democrat).

The Colts play tonight. The Lions of course lose again--too many turnovers, mainly, by rookie QB Matthew Stafford (to be expected, of course) a secondary that's so weak it had to lay back to take away the deep balls, which allowed Brett Favre to pick away underneath and complete 23 of 27 passes. We knew it would take a while. And boy, will it, for the Lions...

BASEBALL DIARY: well, let's face it, the Tigers did not play well over the weekend in Minnesota, losing two of three (but then, they never play well there). But they did win yesterday, 6-2, to keep their lead at 3 games...and that thanks to clutch work from the bullpen, another errorless game, a big home run from Ryan Raburn of all people...maybe the Tigers can still hang on. But it'll be by their fingernails.
Meanwhile the Rangers and Cubs unfortunately have run out of time and good play and are playing out the string...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday football picks (and other stuff)

Last week: I went 6-6. Gotta do better:

AUBURN 7 over West Virginia. PICK: TIGERS. They've looked good so far, and are at home.

BAYLOR 10 over UConn. PICK: BEARS. They have an exciting young QB in Robert Griffin, and are much improved from 2 years ago. And they're at home.

BYU 7.5 over Florida State. PICK: COUGARS. I don't think FSU has recovered from the loss to Miami yet. And this BYU team is good.

Cincinnati 1 over OREGON STATE. PICK: BEARCATS. People forget--Cincinnati went to a BCS bowl last year, and so far have shown an explosive offense.

IOWA 5.5 over Arizona. PICK: HAWKEYES. Iowa appeared to improve a lot last week over their shaky first week showing. And they're at home.

MICHIGAN 24 over Eastern Michigan. PICK: WOLVERINES. That's a lot of points. But the Wolverines will have a lot of confidence after last week's big upset of the Irish, and Tate Forcier is good.

NOTRE DAME 10 over Michigan State. PICK: IRISH. They're at home; they're going to have a lot of motivation to avenge past losses to the Spartans...and if MSU thought they had trouble with the very capable Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan, wait 'til they see Jimmy Clausen and those Irish receivers.

OREGON 4.5 over Utah. PICK: DUCKS. They have an explosive offense, and it's getting in gear.

UCLA 12.5 over Kansas State. PICK: BRUINS. They're a much-improved team, coming off a big win on the road over Tennessee.

ARKANSAS 1 over Georgia. PICK: BULLDOGS. They've played two tough games already, against Oklahoma State and South Carolina, and have played capably in both.

California 14 over MINNESOTA. PICK: GOLDEN GOPHERS (upset special). Cal will very likely win this game, but look for the Gopher defense and the home crowd in Minnesota's brand-new stadium to keep it close.

FLORIDA 29.5 over Tennessee. PICK: VOLUNTEERS (upset special). Not to win; but I do think 29 + points is too much to give; look for Tennessee to keep this one closer than that.

Northwestern 3 over SYRACUSE. PICK: ORANGEMEN. Northwestern looked shaky last week, just edging a MAC team. Syracuse is primed to finally get one at home; remember, they almost beat Minnesota in week 1.

TEXAS 17.5 over Texas Tech. PICK: RED RAIDERS. Again, I look for Texas to win this game; but this Tech offense so far this season hasn't seemed to miss a beat under new QB Taylor Potts. I think Tech will score enough points to keep this one under a 17 pt margin.

Southern Cal 18.5 over WASHINGTON. PICK: HUSKIES. Again, not to win; but Washington played LSU tough in week 1, and then looked good last week. Remember that USC is starting a freshman QB; yes, he grew up a lot last week. But that USC offense still has jelling to do. Washington can keep this one closer than 18.

VIRGINIA TECH 5 over Nebraska. PICK: HOKIES. They play well at home, and seem to have recovered from that close first loss to a powerful Alabama squad.

I was 8-7-1 last week. Not bad--let's see if I can do better:

ATLANTA 6.5 over Carolina. PICK: FALCONS. Jake Delhomme's confidence appears to be shot, what with all the INTs he's thrown in his last two games, including last year's playoff loss. Meanwhile, the Falcons' success last year appears to be no fluke.

BUFFALO 5 over Tampa Bay. PICK: BILLS. They should have beaten the Pats on Monday night; their defense looks solid. If they maintain their mental focus, they should beat the declining Bucs.

DALLAS 3 over NY Giants. PICK: GIANTS. I like the Giants' defense and running game; I think it will take the crowd out of this first regular-season game in Jerry Jones' new palace, and the Giants will edge out a win here. Note that the Cowboys' D gave up 450 yards last week to the less-than-an-offensive-powerhouse Bucs.

DENVER 3 over Cleveland. PICK: BRONCOS. Neither team looked awesome last week. But I think the Broncos, at home, should be able with their receivers to make more plays than the Browns.

GREEN BAY 9 over Cincinnati. PICK: BENGALS. Not to win; but that Cincy defense, which is pretty good, will keep this game close.

JACKSONVILLE 3 over Arizona. PICK: CARDINALS. I know, the Cardinals lost at home last week and made a ton of mistakes; plus, they traditionally have struggled on the east coast. But their defense is still capable, they still have a ton of playmakers on offense, and I'm betting they'll improve from week 1 to week 2.

KANSAS CITY 3 over Oakland. PICK: CHIEFS. Because they're at home, they gave the Ravens a good run last week, Matt Cassel should play, and I'm betting the Raiders won't put up two good performances in a row.

Minnesota 10 over DETROIT. PICK: VIKINGS. The Lions will improve eventually, but it's still early, and how will that porous defense slow down Adrian Peterson?

New England 3.5 over NY JETS. PICK: PATRIOTS. They're bound to improve over their slow start in week 1; they have a history of winning at the Meadowlands; and the Jets still have a rookie coach and rookie QB.

PHILADELPHIA pick'em vs New Orleand. PICK: SAINTS. I know; Philly is at home and has a good defense, and the Saints have never been a great road team. But Donovan McNabb is banged up, and I think it's doubtful he'll last the entire game (if he plays at all). And I think the Saints offense is playing at a high level, and it appears to me that their defense is improved, too.

Pittsburgh 3 over CHICAGO. PICK: STEELERS. No Brian Urlacher for the Bears, and Jay Cutler makes too many turnovers.

SAN DIEGO 3 over Baltimore. PICK: CHARGERS. They play well at home. They have injuries; but they also have Philip Rivers.

SAN FRANCISCO 1 over Seattle. PICK: 49ERS. I like that San Fran defense.

TENNESSEE 6.5 over Houston. PICK: TITANS. They're too strong both on the D-line and on the O-line. Look for them to push the Texans around.

WASHINGTON 10 over St. Louis. PICK: REDSKINS. Because St. Louis still has a long, long way to go.

Indianapolis 3 over MIAMI. PICK: COLTS. It'll be a tough, close game; but Indy's defense is better this year, and the Dolphins offense hasn't shown much. Indy will have enough to win by a TD or so.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

She says she's concerned about the rhetoric being used in the health care debate:
"I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco," Pelosi said, suddenly speaking quietly. "This kind of rhetoric was very frightening" and created a climate in which violence took place, she said."

Of course, this is the woman who contributed to a reasoned, calm civil debate by claiming the CIA regularly "lied" to her.
Maybe Ms. Pelosi should worry more about what the country thinks of her and the performance of this Congress---the latest Fox News poll has Congress with an approval rating of 27%, with 64% disapproving...and that's in line with other polls.
By the way, note the fundamental that's REALLY going on here. Notice what many liberals and progressives are talking about these days? Suddenly it's all "process"---you know, the tone of the debate, "incivility", "extremism", anger, how dangerous to the debate Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh are, etc etc etc. Don't be surprised. They're trying to change the subject. When people are having trouble with the merits of the real debate--on health care reform--they turn to process, in order to change the subject. And that's what ObamaCare proponents are doing here. They can see the polls, and how people aren't buying into the various plans the Democrats are concocting. So they try to talk about something else.
Don't let them get away with it.
UPDATE: the majority of Americans aren't. The latest Fox News poll:
"Is it racism or an honest disagreement? In recent days, some — including former President Jimmy Carter — have suggested there is a racial element behind opposition to President Obama and his policies. Most Americans, however, don't see it that way: 65 percent think opposition to Obama's policies is based on honest disagreements, while 20 percent say it is mostly motivated by racism."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers stop the bleeding, for a bit maybe, last night by edging KC 4-3. But Minnesota is next this weekend...
The Rangers unfortunately are fading, as they're swept by Oakland, losing last night 4-0. I think ultimately injuries did them in. But they've had a good season...
And the Cubs lose to Milwaukee, 9-5, demonstrating again why their hopes for the playoffs have been dim for some time (Rich Harden gives up 13 hits).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday's wash

Apparently the president made his candid comment concerning Mr. West before an official interview began:
"During what sounds like informal banter before the interview begins, Obama is asked whether his daughters were annoyed by West's hijacking of Swift's acceptance statement, according to an audio copy that was posted on "I thought that was really inappropriate," Obama says. "What are you butting in (for)? ... The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She's getting her award. What's he doing up there?" A questioner chimes in, "Why would he do it?"
"He's a jackass," Obama replies, which is met with laughter from several people. The president seems to quickly realize he may have gone too far, and jovially appeals to those assembled that the remark be kept private. "Come on guys," he says. "Cut the president some slack. I've got a lot of other stuff on my plate."

My only point here? Simple: why does President Obama want his remark kept private? Why is he worried about it?

I mean--finally, he's said something on which all Americans can agree.

They're at it again--this time it's the mavens of political correctness who happen to be re-writing a social studies curriculum in Texas. Their target? Christmas, of course:
"A proposal for new social studies curriculum in Texas public schools removes a mention of Christmas in a sixth-grade lesson, replacing it with a Hindu religious festival, a change that has riled conservatives who say it's another battle in the "war" against the Christian holiday....The standards now instruct sixth-grade students to be able to explain the significance of religious holidays such as the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. The proposal, which is set to be debated during a hearing this week, removes Christmas and Rosh Hashanah from the listing. Diwali, a Hindu festival, is added. In a note explaining the change, members of a review committee wrote, "the examples include the key holiday from each of the five major religions."

Wow. Now, the way to attack this is simple. Folks should ask those working on this curriculum a simple question: given that we're talking about American students studying in American schools in a country where, let's face it, Christmas is a very important holiday...why do you people insist that your curriculum on this point include only one holiday from each of five major religions? A curriculum shouldn't only be about politically-correct topics such as this kind of silly religious nose-counting/let's-be-sure-and-give-equal-time-to-every-religion-everywhere. It should, rather, be about teaching young Americans about our country, our culture, the values we hold dear...and surely Christmas must be part of that.
Something tells me this curriculum, as proposed, won't stand, though; and that's a good thing.

Now he's claiming that opposition to President Obama's positions on health care etc are examples of "racism." National Review's editors have the best response:
"...he has gone from hammering nails into Habitat for Humanity houses to hammering what remains of his reputation to smithereens. The nation was poorer for his presidency and is poorer still for his emeritus shenanigans."
Speaking of health care...

The latest Gallup Poll is out.
It asked: "As you may know, President Obama is proposing a healthcare plan that is designed to expand coverage to nearly all Americans without raising taxes on the middle class or lowering the quality of health care. If Obama’s plan is passed, do you think it would or would not be able to accomplish all of these goals?"
The poll found: 38% said yes; 60% said no.
Doesn't sound like Obama's recent speech convinced a lot of people.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers had a bad night last night, losing to KC 11-1; a lot of the trouble stemmed from the fact that starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn still has a bad knee and is hurt. Who will replace him in the rotation? Who knows. Suddenly that lead over Minnesota doesn't seem so safe.
The Cubs beat Milwaukee 13-7 last night. But... Carlos Zambrano still didn't pitch that well, the victory largely came due to a Brewer pitching meltdown, and...the playoffs seem far away.
The playoffs seem far away as well now for the Texas Rangers, who lost last night to Oakland 6-1, and are now 5 and 1/2 games out of the playoffs. The Rangers have found a bad time to go into a hitting slump; they've scored only 1 run in the last 28 innings.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

Spanking toddlers ain't the answer, a study shows:
"Children who are spanked as 1-year-olds are more likely to behave aggressively and perform worse on cognitive tests as toddlers than children who are spared the punishment, new research shows."
Makes sense to me. As parents of a toddler son, our instincts told us that spanking indeed was not the answer--I'm glad our instincts were right.

Wow, George Will absolutely eviscerates President Obama's health care positions today:
"He says America's health-care system is going to wrack and ruin and requires root-and-branch reform—but that if you like your health care (as a large majority of Americans do), nothing will change for you. His slippery new formulation is that nothing in his plan will "require" anyone to change coverage. He used to say, "If you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period." He had to stop saying that because various disinterested analysts agree that his plan will give many employers incentives to stop providing coverage for employees....He deplores "scare tactics" but says that unless he gets his way, people will die. He praises temperate discourse but says many of his opponents are liars. He says Medicare is an exemplary program that validates government's prowess at running health systems. But he also says Medicare is unsustainable and going broke, and that he will pay for much of his reforms by eliminating the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and fraud in this paragon of a program, and in Medicaid. He says Congress will cut Medicare (it will not) by $500 billion—without affecting benefits."
Read the whole thing--there's a lot more.

In the New Jersey governor's race, Christie (the Repub) still leads Corzine by 9.

In Nevada, Rasmussen has Harry Reid trailing a likely GOP opponent in next year's senate race by 7 points.

BASEBALL DIARY: Tigers win, Tigers win, Tigers win...last night, over Toronto, 6-5 in 10 innings. Most notable part of the game: the Tigers rallied from a 5-2 deficit on the strength of an Aubrey Huff 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th. Finally, one of the Tigers' acquisitions in late-summer starts to pay off. That's two wins in a row...and the magic number for winning the division gets a tad smaller.
Meanwhile...the Cubs are playing better--they beat Milwaukee last night, and are 9-4 in September--but remain out of the playoff picture.
And the Texas Rangers are in a bit of trouble. They were shut out 9-0 by Oakland last night, and are now 4 and 1/2 games out of the wild card slot. The injuries to both Michael Young and Josh Hamilton have hurt them. They need a big winning streak.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday musings

Very busy today, so not a lot of time, but...

Hey conservatives--remember the vile, vicious and foolish Kanye West(who once claimed that problems with aid to the New Orleans area post-Katrina were because George W. Bush hated black people)?
Don't worry--he's still everything you thought he was.

I have two favorite teams--the Detroit Lions and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Detroit Lions still have a long way to go. Their defense remains inept.Only their special teams look better. And, to be fair, I think theNew Orleans Saintsmay have the best offense in the entire NFL.
And the C0lts still have work to do, but against Jacksonville, who always plays them tough, a win is a win. Biggest stat--the Colts defense, much-maligned over the years, held the Jags to 228 total yards.

All us Michigan fans are still riding the high of Saturday's big win.
One thing is for sure: Tate Forcier is far, far better than most experts suggested...

The Detroit Tigers hadn't won in a week. But they beat Toronto yesterday, 7-2. It was rookie Rick Porcello's 13th victory. The young man is still 20years old.Despite the tough week, the Tigers lost little ground, and they still lead thedivision by 5 games. The Tigers' magic number is now 15.

Obama's big health care speech last week? Touted by some Obamasupporters as a game-changer?

A new ABC poll suggests: it wasn't. The public remains divided rightdown the middle on the issue.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday football picks (along with other stuff)

Let's start with college football for this week--my first week of picks (home team in CAPS):

AUBURN 14 over Mississippi State. PICK: TIGERS. No reason yet to believe that MSU has gotten out of the doldrums.

GEORGIA 7 over South Carolina. PICK: BULLDOGS. Georgia acquitted itself well on the road at Okie State. The Gamecocks have yet to prove they can score.

Iowa 6.5 over IOWA STATE. PICK: HAWKEYES. Iowa is bound to improve a lot from game 1. Meanwhile, I think Iowa State has yet to play.

MINNESOTA 3.5 over Air Force. PICK: GOLDEN GOPHERS. I like their defense. And they're at home.

Notre Dame 3 over MICHIGAN. PICK: WOLVERINES (upset special!) Notre Dame is improved over last year. But so is Michigan; and they're at home in the Big House. Can Notre Dame play well as the favorite on the road against a tough opponent? They haven't proven they can yet. I like the Maize and Blue in an upset here.

OREGON 12 over Purdue. PICK: DUCKS. Purdue has a history of playing poorly on the road.

PENN STATE 29 over Syracuse. PICK: ORANGEMEN. Not to win; but to keep the game closer than 29. That's a lot of points. And even though Syracuse lost last week, they're obviously an improved club with Greg Paulus as QB.

TCU 12 over VIRGINIA. PICK: HORNED FROGS. This is a good TCU ballclub, with a lot of starters back from last year's 11-2-and-within-a-whisker-of-being-in the-BCS team. They're fast and aggressive, especially on defense. Meanwhile UVa lost to William and Mary last week.

TENNESSEE 10 over UCLA. PICK: VOLUNTEERS. They'll avenge last year's upset loss to the UCLAns.

Southern California 7 over OHIO STATE. PICK: BUCKEYES. They're at home. They struggled last week against Navy, but undoubtedly they were looking ahead to this game. They've got Terrelle Pryor, who has a lot of talent. Meanwhile USC has talent too, but they start a very inexperienced QB in a big game in a hostile environment. I think a Big 10 team will finally win a big one. Aren't they due?

WAKE FOREST 3 over Stanford. PICK: CARDINAL. Stanford is a much improved team.

WISCONSIN 9 over Fresno State. PICK: BADGERS. They're tough at home in openers.

I'm 0-1 so far this year; I was correct that the Steelers would beat the Titans...but they didn't cover the spread. Let's see if I can do better Sunday:

ARIZONA 6.5 over San Francisco. PICK: CARDINALS. They have Kurt Warner, and are at home; the Niners have Shaun Hill. "Nuff said. The Niners just can't move the ball.

ATLANTA 4 over Miami. PICK: FALCONS. Again, the Falcons are at home, they've upgraded the offense some with Tony Gonzalez, and the Dolphins won't catch folks by surprise this year.

BALTIMORE 13 over Kansas City. PICK: RAVENS. That's a lot of points to cover, but by all appearances the Ravens are as tough as ever, while the Chiefs are still working Matt Cassel in...and he may be hurt. Look for the Ravens to hold this team to 7 points or less.

CINCINNATI 4 over Denver. PICK: BENGALS. Carson Palmer should play, and be ready. The Bengals defense improved last year--they were ranked 12th in the NFL by year's end. Meanwhile, the Broncos have a banged-up Kyle Orton, all the drama with Brandon Marshall and new coach Josh McDaniel, etc etc etc...gotta go with Cincy.

Dallas 6 over TAMPA BAY. PICK: COWBOYS. The Bucs seem to be in disarray, and Byron Leftwich, despite being named the starting QB, hasn't wowed anyone. Meanwhile the Cowboys still have talent--look for Felix Jones to star.

GREEN BAY 3.5 over Chicago. PICK: PACKERS. Aaron Rodgers is coming on; the Pack in the pre-season played fast. And they're at home.

HOUSTON 4.5 over NY Jets. PICK: TEXANS. The Jets have a new coach and new QB, and are on the road. Usually not a great combo.

INDIANAPOLIS 7 over Jacksonville. PICK: COLTS. Peyton Manning and the offense this year had the whole pre-season to get in sync. And they're at home.

Minnesota 4 over CLEVELAND. PICK: BROWNS. Not sure if they'll win outright; but look for this to be a very tight game, with the Browns maybe winning or losing by a FG or less. I just have a feeling that, before a fired-up Browns crowd and team, Brett Favre and the Vikes will struggle. Remember that Favre really hasn't been a Viking for that long.

NEW ORLEANS 13 over Detroit. PICK: SAINTS. That Saints offense with Drew Brees looks to be in high gear already. And while the Lions will improve, still they have a new coach and rookie QB, and are on the road. Their improvement will take time; it won't show much here in week 1.

NY GIANTS 6.5 over Washington. PICK: REDSKINS. Again, I don't know that Washington will win outright; but look for this to be a close game. It's a divisional battle between old foes. The "Skins are bolstered by the arrival of Albert Haynesworth. There are questions about the Giants' receivers. Should be a battle.

Philadelphia 2.5 over CAROLINA. PICK: EAGLES. This too will be a real battle. But one suspects that Donovan McNabb will make one more big play than will Jake Delhomme.

SEATTLE 8.5 over St. Louis. PICK: SEAHAWKS. They're at home, Matt Hasselbeck is back, and the Rams are rebuilding.

NEW ENGLAND 11 over Buffalo. PICK: BILLS. Not to win outright; but to keep this a closer game than 11. The Bills have TO now; they should be able to put a few more points on the board than last year. And they have an opportunistic defense that's been good at causing turnovers.

San Diego 9.5 over OAKLAND. PICK: CHARGERS. San Diego looks to be the best, again, of the AFC West. And the Raiders still appear to be in disarray.

In other matters...

Today is September 11th.
Hopefully few have forgotten what they were doing 8 years ago. But, one suspects some have. The cure:
"We are fighting a war on terrorism. Several years ago, it wouldn’t have been necessary to say that, but today it may be worth reminding people."
Read the whole thing.

And speaking of terrorism, today the home-grown "terrorists" opposing civility and decency and all that is good in the world about whom liberals in this country need to get in a lather is...a pro-choicer who killed anti-abortion protesters.

Check the latest polls on the 2010 Connecticut Senate race--there, incumbent Democratic Senator Chris Dodd trails his likely GOP opponent by a whopping 10 points.

The GOP's death remains greatly exaggerated...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

They're at it again:
"White House economists said Thursday that the Obama administration's recovery efforts have saved or created more than one million jobs so far, an optimistic report that economists cautioned was preliminary and uncertain."
I bet they are--given that there's no way they can PROVE how many jobs they've "saved", or not "saved." Fundamental: this unprovable "saved" jobs number the Obama administration throws around is ridiculous, and we need to push the media to call them on it.

Based on what I've seen and read, NR's editors are right on in their assessment of it:
"Neither the government-heavy substance nor the dishonest and demagogic tactics have changed. The president denounced “scare tactics” — in a speech that warned that failure to go along with his plans would cause people to die. He pretended that preventive care will “save money,” even though this claim has been authoritatively and repeatedly debunked. He claimed, in defiance of every independent assessment, that the legislation before Congress will reduce costs. He denied that the legislation he supports will spend federal dollars on abortion, which can be true only if he has some private and novel definition of “federal dollars.” He denied that it will cover illegal immigrants, even though Democratic congressmen have specifically voted not to require verification of legal residence.Obama told people with insurance that “nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.” Note the careful formulation, which is technically true but deliberately misleading. The president knows full well that his plan will cause millions of people to lose their current coverage and that they are not going to catch the fact that his statement does not quite deny it. Obama said that “what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan” is “more security and stability.” Many of them can, in fact, expect to lose their coverage while paying higher premiums and taxes. Many other Americans can expect to lose their jobs thanks to Obama’s “employer mandate.”

And note especially NR's conclusion:
"President Obama said that “the time for bickering is over” and that he will not “waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it.” You would not guess it from his speech, but it is possible sincerely to believe that it is better policy to scrap this plan and start over. If by “bickering” Obama means opposition in principle to his plan to vastly expand the federal role in health care, then there has never been a better time for it."

Just so. Let's "bicker" all we can.
Interestingly, I detect a lack of enthusiasm for the president's speech in other quarters, too.
For example, in Forbe's magazine, a columnist writes:
"President Clinton's health-care legislation didn't fail in 1994 because people didn't want better health care. The White House plan failed because it was too bureaucratic, too complicated, and too expensive. Last night, President Obama's response to sixteen years (and one angry August recess) worth of bi-partisan doubt was to double down and bet even more political capital on the same approach. It's as if he expected Americans to tune in, and suddenly realize their mistake."

The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:
"...Obama's depiction of rising public doubts about big health changes as the product of “scare tactics” and “tall tales” undercuts his assertion that he takes seriously critics' “legitimate concerns...But it is not a “scare tactic” to doubt Obama's claim his proposal to vastly expand health coverage would save money. The Congressional Budget Office says it would carry a 10-year, $1 trillion price tag. It is not a “tall tale” to question his claim that his plan would not affect individuals satisfied with their present coverage. It would give employers a powerful incentive to meet their insurance requirements by opting for cheaper government coverage and dropping their private insurers. We need to have a full and open debate about these concerns. But based on his speech last night, Obama would have us believe that he has a blueprint for a health care system that miraculously would be both much cheaper and much bigger — and the only thing that those who doubt him can offer is “misinformation.” Sorry, Mr. President. That's just not true."

The LA Times:
"The hard part [in health care reform], in terms of both policy and politics, is finding a way to pay for the expansion in coverage. And on that most contentious issue, unfortunately, Obama argued that Congress could cover most of the cost by attacking waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid -- a pain-free path that's as unrealistic as it is alluring."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers haven't really played well the last two nights, and last night especially they failed to hit, losing to Kansas City 5-1. Minnesota is now within 5 and 1/2 games of the Tigers. I suspect they had a letdown--Detroit had won 6 in a row, including a weekend sweep of Tampa Bay, and then they went to Kansas City...unfortunately, it's natural to let down. Observers don't talk much about letdowns when it comes to baseball--teams play so often that ideas of emotion and focus don't often come up. But baseball too is partly mental, and if you lose your focus, your play will suffer. In baseball, too.
Meanwhile, the Rangers took care of business, finishing their sweep of Cleveland, 10-0. Scott Feldman has now won 16 games and lost only 4. Cy Young, anyone?
And the Cubs beat up on the Pirates again, as they always do, 8-5. But they're still 8 games out of the wild card lead. And while Carlos Zambrano won this game, it's a measure of the Cubs' troubles this year that the victory was only big Z's 8th this year.

Firt game of the season tonight--my pick?
PITTSBURGH 4.5 over Tennessee. PICK: STEELERS. They're at home, they're defending champs, they don't like the Titans much, and there's a history of defending champs being highly motivated and playing well in this special Thursday night opener. Gotta go with the Steel men here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday's wash

Once again, they claim recovery is in sight:
"Economic activity is stabilizing or improving in the vast majority ofthe country, according to a new government survey, adding to evidencethat the worst recession since the 1930s is over."
I've seen dozens of stories like this over the past several months.Yes, the recession is over or is about to be over, they tell us.Yet figures such as unemployment rates and jobless claims never seemto support it.Gosh--it couldn't be that some of our liberal friends populating themedia just WANT the recession to be over, real bad...In order to help the guy they support, Barack Obama---could it?

She adds her voice today (again) to the health care debate, through a newspaper op-ed. I especially liked the following:
""The answers offered by Democrats in Washington all rest on one principle: that increased government involvement can solve the problem. I fundamentally disagree," Palin writes in the 1,110 word op-ed in Wednesday's edition of the paper. "Common sense tells us that the government's attempts to solve large problems more often create new ones," the former GOP vice presidential candidate continues. "Common sense also tells us that a top-down, one-size-fits-all plan will not improve the workings of a nationwide health-care system that accounts for one-sixth of our economy...Is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by-dare I say it-death panels?" she writes. "Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans." Ultimately, Palin says, Congress looks like it will abandon this so called "death panel" legislation because Americans made their voices heard in the contentious town halls last August. "But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we've come to expect from this administration."

Note that she's not abandoning the criticism of "death panels." Nor should she. This administration and Democrats in general brought up "cost savings" in the context of end-of-life issues. In the end, that can only lead to, eventually, discussions of withholding procedures from the elderly...because of their age and because they're likely to die soon. Democrats may not like that. But they made their own bed here.
By the way, Obama's approval rating according to the latest AP poll? Only 50%; 49% disapproving. And his numbers on health care aren't so good either; only 42% approve of his performance there, and 52% disapprove.

Those of you who are true blognuts and follow this stuff religiously have undoubtedly already heard about this. But for those of you who might not have, here it is--here, that is, is what Tom Friedman wrote in his column in today's NY Times, lamenting the fact that Republicans won't embrace liberal ideas on health care, climate change policy, etc and thus make it more difficult to pass stuff:
"Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today. One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."
Of course, actually those "enlightened" Chinese leaders repress free speech, jail critics, raze private dwellings whenever they feel like building something new, and order the poor persons displaced by the new construction to live elsewhere--where the government tells them to, natch. Does Friedman really not know this? That's inconceivable. Does he really not care? Does he really not understand that the slow pace of change one finds in democracy is the price way we pay for...ahem...FREEDOM???

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lost last night to Kansas City, 7-5, as the bullpen doesn't get the job done. But the good news is that the Tigers still just finished winning 6 in a row, and both the Twins and White Sox also lost last night. But the Tigers need to keep playing good baseball...
The Cubs beat the Pirates again, 9-4; in other words, they do what they always do, whip up on the Pirates. Too bad they couldn't, this season, transfer that mojo to the rest of the league. Still, if the Cubs keep winning night after night into next week, the season could still get interesting...
But the Texas Rangers certainly remain in the playoff chase, and going to Cleveland helped them stay there yesterday--Ranger bats pounded out 21 runs in a doubleheader with the Indians, and the Rangers won 11-9 and 10-5. It was strange, because the Rangers had gone something like 20 innings without scoring over the weekend. But Tribe pitching cured that.
More importantly, the Rangers this year have showed a great deal of resiliency, always being able to get up and keep winning even after suffering losses here and there. It's what good teams do.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday's trackings

So today came his ballyhooed speech to students--and hey, good for him...he stayed away from anything political and urged students to take responsibility:
"Obama, however, avoided any mention of political initiatives. He repeatedly urged students to work hard and stay in school. "There is no excuse for not trying," he told students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia."
There would never have been any controversy if this administration had not, originally, tried to pass out lesson plans to teachers that suggested Obama sought students' support (one plan originally suggested that teachers have students write essays on how they could "help" Obama). That was over the line. It suggested the administration was trying to use the speech for partisan purposes. The administration wisely backtracked. That was all the controversy really was about. Those trying to suggest it was an example of conservatives engaging in wacky, extreme criticism are wrong. And don't let your liberal friends tell you otherwise, conservatives.

Thomas Sowell wisely reminds us today of something--on health care, President Obama hasn't been too truthful:
"No doubt millions of people will be listening to the words of Pres. Barack Obama Wednesday night when he makes a televised address to a joint session of Congress on his medical-care plans. But, if they think that the words he says are what matters, they can be led into something much worse than being swindled out of their money.One plain fact should outweigh all the words of Barack Obama and all the impressive trappings of the setting in which he says them: He tried to rush Congress into passing a massive government takeover of the nation’s health care before the August recess — for a program that would not take effect until 2013.Whatever President Obama is, he is not stupid. If the urgency to pass the legislation were to deal with a problem immediately, then why postpone for years the date when the legislation would go into effect — specifically, until the year after the next presidential election?If this is such an desperately needed program, why wait for years to put it into effect? And if the public is going to benefit from this, why not let them experience those benefits before the next presidential election?"
In other words, the rush to pass this legislation underlay a fundamental dishonesty in the Obama position. Conservatives should make sure this issue remains alive as this debate goes forward.

The latest attacks on Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell in Virginia have borne no fruit--he still leads his Democrat opponent by 12 points.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers were off yesterday; they're coming off a 3-game sweep in Tampa, with all of the victories coming after the 7th inning and two of them being big rallies from 2 and 3-run deficits. Great stuff, and the Tigers are in great position to go to the playoffs. There, I said it...let's hope I don't jinx 'em. The Rangers were rained out yesterday--they play a doubleheader today (in Cleveland).
The Cubs beat Pittsburgh 4-2 yesterday. It guaranteed the Pirates a record 17th-straight losing season; but unless it's the start of, say, a 15-game winning streak for the Cubs, it likely doesn't mean more than that. Kudos thought to Derek Lee; he hit his 30th home run.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday's fish fry

Not too much time today, but...

It's not fixing much yet:
"The unemployment rate jumped almost half a point to 9.7 percent in August, the highest since 1983, reflecting a poor job market that will make it hard for the economy to begin a sustained recovery."

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers beat Cleveland yesterday, 4-3; they sweep a bottom-feeder, and take care of business, like a potential division-winner needs to do; and they now lead the AL Central by 5 games. Not bad...

It's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, can get rather combative--imagine if the Bush administration's press secretary had done this kind of thing:
"An example of Gibbs' approach was on display Monday as he elaborately waved off a question on forecasts about Democratic losses in the 2010 congressional elections. "I let the extremely smart prognosticators that always predict with unfailing accuracy the brilliance by which Americans will render their opinion in more than a year. I will leave them to their stately craft," Gibbs said."

I don't think so--look who's in a bit of trouble in Nevada: Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. He trails a likely GOP opponent in next year's senate race by at least 5 points.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday's throwdowns

Hmmm. Yesterday, a writer at the online mag Salon complains that conservatives and Republicans haven't done enough to drive the "Birthers" (those arguing that Barack Obama has no legit birth certificate, that he was not born in this country, and that Obama may secretly be a horrible person seeking to do damage to this country etc etc etc) out of the conservative movement.
That's strange, because I for example have read a number of very strong criticisms and denunciations of the Birthers on National Review Online, and by other conservatives. Here's one example; and here's another. And editorially, NR not long ago said this:
"Much foolishness has become attached to the question of President Obama’s place of birth, and a few misguided souls among the Right have indulged it. The myth that Barack Obama is ineligible to be president represents the hunt for a magic bullet that will make all the unpleasant complications of his election and presidency disappear. We are used to seeing conspiracy theories from the Left, for instance among the one in three Democrats who believe that 9/11 was an inside job conducted with the foreknowledge of the Bush administration...There is nothing that President Obama’s coterie would enjoy more than to see the responsible Right become a mirror image of the loopy Left circa 2003."
That's pretty strong. And NR was right on in saying it. I don't know what else our friends at Salon would have mainstream conservatives do. They should do a bit more research before suggesting the Birthers haven't been denounced, when in fact...they have.

Levi Johnston has been given way too much print and air-time lately...but believe it or not, there's some good sense on him and his untrustworthiness as a witness from an unlikely source: the relatively liberal Gail Collins of the NY Times:
"Given the fact that Johnston is a 19-year-old high school dropout whose mother was arrested last year on six felony drug counts, it is conceivable that he is not the perfect arbiter of normal families. But even if he were an Eagle Scout with a scholarship to Harvard, can you imagine anything worse than discovering your daughter’s teenage ex-boyfriend has been given a national platform to discuss his impressions of her mom’s parenting skills?"

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers won a big one last night; the Twins blew a lead in the 9th inning and lost to the White Sox, and so the Tigers had a chance to pad their division lead by another game. And they did it, thanks to young pitcher Rick Porcello, beating Cleveland 4-2. Tiger pitching remains the strength of this team. Porcello now has 12 wins. He's still only 20 years old.
Meanwhile, the Cubs at least haven't quit--they got a well-pitched game from Ted Lilly in beating Houston, 2-0. But they still trail the Rockies for the wild card by 6 games.
And the Texas Rangers continue to win--they beat Toronto 6-4. They're now only 2 and 1/2 games out of the wild card lead, behind Boston. Again, the young pitchers for the Rangers, such as Tommy Hunter in this game, and the Ranger bullpen tandem of C.J. Wilson and Frankie Francisco, have continued to get the job done.

Wow--VP Joe Biden made such outlandish claims about the so-called stimulus package today that even the mainstream media is calling him on it:
"Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed success beyond expectations Thursday for the $787 billion economic stimulus, but his glowing assessment overlooks many of the program's problems, including delays in releasing money, questionable spending priorities and project picks that are under investigation....Biden, Obama's chief stimulus cheerleader, proudly pointed to more than 2,200 highway projects Thursday funded by the program, but didn't mention the growing frustration among contractors that the transportation money is only trickling out and thus far hasn't delivered the needed boost in jobs....And Biden praised the more than 2,400 military construction projects paid for with stimulus money, but ignored the millions of dollars in savings the Defense Department lost because it hasn't competitively bid many of the jobs."
I have little doubt that some of this pushback against Biden's cheerleading is due to the hard work of folks like NRO's Jim Geraghty, who has been highlighting the failures of the stimulus for months now. Kudos to him and others like him.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday's wash

I fear he is, and so does Victor Davis Hanson:
"So here we are in yet the latest round of perpetual peace, this time overseen by a postnational, messianic Barack Obama. Serial apologies, engagement with dictators, the trashing of his predecessor, and calls for a newly empowered United Nations are all part of a sophisticated soft power that has replaced the old Bush “smoke ’em out,” “dead or alive” reductionism.We are more likely now to put CIA interrogators on trial than to arrest and berate new terrorists. Dick Cheney, not Osama bin Laden, has become the new national threat. George W. Bush has been reduced to Orwell’s Emmanuel Goldstein, the “He did it” collective menace at whom we are supposed to yell out in hatred each morning. We now live in an era of renewed appeasement, faith in the United Nations, no “inordinate fear,” and all the usual tired slogans."
Of course the big exception to this is the Obama administration's decision to escalate American involvement in Afghanistan. Yet there too he's facing pressures to pull out. Can he withstand such pressures? His overall policy direction can't leave one feeling optimistic.
And we've touched here on the uptick we're seeing lately in terrorist bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq. Could it be that Obamaism is emboldening the terrorists?

" In August, an average of 45% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned to the Democratic Party, while 40% identified as Republicans or leaned to the Republican Party. This 5-point advantage represents a decided narrowing of the gap between the parties from the 17-point Democratic advantage in January."
By the way, what's a good way to tell how the Obama administration itself thinks it's doing with the American people when it comes to health care policy? Simple--now Obama's decided he needs to address Congress on the issue. The administration's internal polls must not look too good--otherwise Obama would never reverse field and decide to get real specific on what he wants in health care reform.

BASEBALL DIARY: last night the Tigers hit the ball well--3 home runs--and got just enough good pitching from Edwin Jackson to edge Cleveland, 8-5. But Jackson deserved the victory--he's pitched so well so often this year and gotten nothing for it, that he deserves to have his teammates pick him up here. It's so important for teams in a pennant race, like the Tigers, to beat the last-place clubs like the Indians. Good to see the Tigers take care of business last night.
Meanwhile the Texas Rangers won two yesterday over the Toronto Blue Jays--5-2 in game 1, and 5-2 again in the nightcap. Give big props to starting pitchers Dustin Nippert and Brandon McCarthy; and note Chris Davis' big hits throughout the doubleheader, along with Josh Hamilton's two home runs in the nightcap. Davis was banished to the minors earlier this season due to lack of production; he appears to have gotten back on track. And maybe Hamilton has again found his power. The Rangers are still only 3 and 1/2 out of the wild card; maybe the sky isn't falling.
The Cubs behind Randy Wells (who now has 10 wins--who'd a thunk) beat the Astros 4-1 last night. At least the Cubbies are still battling. And Milton Bradley remains hot. But it all might be too late...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday trackings

Something's happening out there. Look at the big crowd that turned out for a Republican-sponsored forum on health care in Texas:
"They came in droves to hear Republican insight on health care reform. So many people showed up for Monday night's congressional forum, hundreds were left outside — but it didn't quiet their passions about the issue."
The notion that the opponents of health care reform are nothing but a tiny bunch of Nazis is a preposterous left-wing myth.

None of this is particularly good news for the president:
"SurveyUSA puts Obama's approval rating in Iowa at 45 percent with 51 percent disapproving. This is a state that Obama carried in 2008 with almost 54 percent of the vote....[and] SurveyUSA finds Obama approval hitting new lows in Alabama (40 percent), California (62 percent), Iowa (45 percent), Kentucky (36 percent), Missouri (48 percent), and New Mexico (52 percent)."
It is good news though for Republicans.

So George Will urges a U.S. pullout from Afghanistan. Wow.
He certainly makes a persuasive case that, right now, things in Afghanistan are not going as well as we'd like them to go. But he doesn't answer one crucial point: would not an American pullout hugely embolden terrorists--and Al Qaeda specifically--around the world???
We'll await his answer to that question. But do read his article.

BASEBALL DIARY: the Tigers lost yesterday to Tampa Bay, 11-7, as Jarrod Washburn's struggles as a Tiger continue. But apparently he gave up a number of bloop hits. Of more concern is the fact that the pesky Minnesota Twins are now only 3 and 1/2 games out.
And could the Texas Rangers be falling out of contention? They're now 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the battle for the wild card, as they give up 18 runs to slumping Toronto and lose 18-10. Still, it's been tempting to bury the Rangers before, and they've rallied. But right now they're very inconsistent.
Meanwhile the Cubs couldn't much dent Houston ace pitcher Roy Oswalt, and lost 5-3. That big winning streak they need just isn't coming...