Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday's fish fry

The U.S. economy grew at a faster-than-expected 5.7 percent pace in the fourth quarter, the quickest in more than six years, as businesses made less-aggressive cuts to inventories and stepped up spending. The robust performance closed out a year in which the economy contracted 2.4 percent, the biggest decline since 1946."

He bashes the U.S. on the climate-change issue:
"Osama bin Laden's latest reason to condemn the United States has to do with climate change. The al Qaeda leader in a new audio message published by al Jazeera, bin Laden verbally attacks the U.S. and other industrialized nations for polluting the planet. "This is a message to the whole world about those responsible for climate change and its repercussions — whether intentionally or unintentionally — and about the action we must take," bin Laden says on the tape, according to al Jazeera.
"Speaking about climate change is not a matter of intellectual luxury - the phenomenon is an actual fact," he says. Bin Laden, who recently released an audio tape praising a Nigerian man's attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner, bashes the U.S. for not signing the Kyoto Protocol."

One notes that he, like many leftists, ignores China's role in blocking many of the reforms they claim they seek. But mainly this strikes me as an attempt by Bin Laden and co. to reach out for wider support, to try to humanize themselves and appeal to the ideals held by the World Left. Hopefully most can see its absurdity, but one never knows...
Meanwhile Jonah Goldberg has a funny take on Bin Laden's new environmentalism:
"Will he come out in favor of beheading carbon emitters? Can I get 72 virgins if I promise to weatherstrip my house? How about if I install solar panels?....Of course, any minute now we're going to hear from someone — any predictions who? — that the real reason "they" hate "us" is climate change. It ain't freedom, it ain't American empire, or licentiousness, or Israel. All of these jihadi nutters are blowing themselves up to save the polar bear."

Seems like opinion is hardening on the notion that, well, it wasn't a bad speech, but it wasn't a game-changer. Peggy Noonan for example points out a major contradiction in the direction to which Obama pointed in the address:
"The central fact of the speech was the contradiction at its heart. It repeatedly asserted that Washington is the answer to everything. At the same time it painted a picture of Washington as a sick and broken place. It was a speech that argued against itself: You need us to heal you. Don't trust us, we think of no one but ourselves. The people are good but need guidance—from Washington. The middle class is anxious, and its fears can be soothed—by Washington. Washington can "make sure consumers . . . have the information they need to make financial decisions." Washington must "make investments," "create" jobs, increase "production" and "efficiency." At the same time Washington is a place "where every day is Election Day," where all is a "perpetual campaign" and the great sport is to "embarrass your opponents" and lob "schoolyard taunts." Why would anyone have faith in that thing to help anyone do anything?"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Villanova 90, Notre Dame 72: another loss on the road against a very good team for Notre Dame. No surprise, but...again, the Irish have to learn to stay focused and to defend. ND trailed only by 1 at halftime; but were outscored by 17 in the 2nd half. They allowed Villanova to shoot just a tad under 50%. And ND was only 19 of 30 at the free throw line. Notre Dame MUST win at Rutgers this weekend...
But the news for the Irish was better on the women's side, as the ND women beat Providence, 84-59. They're now 18-1 on the season and should remain ranked in the top 5 nationally. 5 players for Notre Dame scored in double figures in the game, and the Irish bench provided 31 points. This team is deep and can wear you down; that could be a big help in March.

As for President Obama's State of the Union speech last night, this from the NY Times seems to be a sensible analysis, and represents a good deal of the commentary I've read today so far:
" the midterm elections approach, there is little reason to expect that that the partisan divide will narrow. So the gamble underlying Mr. Obama’s speech seems to be that he can muddle through the November elections with perhaps 20 or 30 lost seats in the House, and a handful in the Senate, and avoid the kind of rout that led Mr. Clinton to declare the end of the big government era....To Mr. Obama’s rivals on the right, the president’s unwillingness to move at all from his agenda creates his vulnerability. “Perhaps the most striking aspect of last night’s speech,” wrote Peter Wehner, a former political strategist for President Bush and an aide to Karl Rove, “was that Obama spoke as if the last year hadn’t happened; as if he had not been president; and as if Congress had not been controlled by Democrats. He sought to portray himself as an outsider and reformer, an antidote to cynicism, and a postpartisan, unifying force.” In fact, that is exactly what he attempted, much as he did in the campaign. So what has changed? Perhaps the biggest change is that in the past few months, Mr. Obama has seen the passion of his own political base wither. His Afghanistan decision was deeply unpopular with the most activist of his 2008 supporters — the Democratic left, the students and twentysomethings. While the White House argues that Democrats are over-reading the results of the special election in Massachusetts — Mr. Emanuel argues the election would have been won if Democrats and the White House had paid sufficient attention — clearly Mr. Obama lost touch with the independents who voted for him a year ago. They made the difference for the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, in the Senate race. So Mr. Obama’s biggest challenge in the next few weeks may be overcoming the fears, and perhaps the inertia, of his own party. Yet the speech conveyed little of the sense of urgency he brought to the same chamber when he gave his first address to a joint session of Congress a year ago. At that time, he laid out a legislative agenda for the year. This time, he offered no timeline, no deadline, for resolving the health care debate. Nor did he on financial reform."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Remember all the progressives and others who crowed in 2008 about the fact that William F. Buckley Jr.'s son, Christopher Buckley, endorsed Obama? Guess what--Mr. Buckley got buyer's remorse and basically recants, calling Obama a "hack politician" who appears to be Harry Reid's "tool."
He suggests Obama's new book should be called "The Audacity of Ooops." Read the whole thing...and Mr. Buckley should remember: we warned you.

The NY Times' Maureen Dowd isn't exactly filled with love for President Obama these days either:
"Obama is coming across as plastic and hidden, rather than warm and accessibly all-American."
She also calls him a "faux populist" who favors drug companies and "profligate Democrats." Whew!

Meanwhile, two different polls coming out yesterday--including an NPR poll (!)--show Republicans leading outright in the 2010 generic Congressional ballot. Rasmussen even has the GOP up by 9.

Michigan State 57, Michigan 56: Michigan scrapped hard, and gave it all they had. But in the end, MSU had players who knew how to win and how to make big shots. Michigan lacks that this year; as well as shooters. Key stats: Michigan had a 56-53 lead, then went scoreless the final 2:38. Michigan was out-rebounded, 41-25. And Michigan was only 7 for 29 from 3-point range. That's MSU's strengths, defense and rebounding, and Michigan's weakness.

"Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were suspended for the remainder of the season Wednesday by NBA commissioner David Stern, who said guns in the workplace "will not be tolerated."

Harsh punishment--designed to send a message, and probably a very good one for the NBA. Not only is toting guns around the locker room stupid and dangerous, but it ruins the NBA's image...and that's something Commissioner Stern takes very seriously.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

A relatively progressive historian and academician writes today on CNN that, on balance, President Obama can't drift too far towards the center--he needs liberals:
"If he wants to hold onto enthusiastic liberal support, the president must argue passionately and energetically for jobs programs and finishing work on health care reform. Unlike Clinton after 1994, Obama still has a Democratic Congress, with sizable majorities. Liberals can help Obama to stimulate support for his legislative proposals, increasing pressure on moderate Democrats, and to develop a reputation for being an effective and action-oriented leader -- a reputation that can be as compelling to moderates as evidence of trying to cut deficits."

He argues that alienation from their liberal base in the past hurt Democratic Presidents Johnson, Carter, and Clinton.'s the rub, isn't it? Prof. Zelizer argues that, in the end, taking action and passing legislation will earn Obama the support and trust of "moderates" and the center. But will it? If the center just doesn't like the health care legislation, as polls indicate they don't, will they really give Obama credit for ramming through unpopular legislation? Will they really say, "well, at least he's doing something"?? Progressives in this country are convinced that such is what many ordinary Americans will say. I'm not so sure.

There's certainly no question, though, that liberals and progressives are very, very restive. Check out today's column from very liberal NY Times columnist Bob Herbert, who writes:
"Mr. Obama may be personally very appealing, but he has positioned himself all over the political map: the anti-Iraq war candidate who escalated the war in Afghanistan; the opponent of health insurance mandates who made a mandate to buy insurance the centerpiece of his plan; the president who stocked his administration with Wall Street insiders and went to the mat for the banks and big corporations, but who is now trying to present himself as a born-again populist. Mr. Obama is in danger of being perceived as someone whose rhetoric, however skillful, cannot always be trusted. He is creating a credibility gap for himself, and if it widens much more he won’t be able to close it."

Wow. And now even CNN's opinion polling has President Obama at only 49% approval, 50% disapproval. Tough days for the administration.

By the way, I suspect it's because of the many poll numbers coming out in the past month or two looking like this that now Obama is adopting Republican rhetoric and talking about spending freezes.
But his proposal seems to have gotten Paul Krugman as angry as Bob Herbert!...

And by the way, once again President Obama realizes a mistake--too late:
"After weeks of denials from the White House that the health care reform effort failed to exhibit the transparency President Barack Obama promised on the campaign trail, Obama is conceding that locking the public out of key discussions was a “mistake.” “We had to make so many decisions quickly in a very difficult set of circumstances that after awhile, we started worrying more about getting the policy right than getting the process right,” Obama told ABC’s Diane Sawyer Monday. “But I had campaigned on process—part of what I had campaigned on was changing how Washington works, opening up, transparency. ...The health care debate as it unfolded legitimately raised concerns not just among my opponents, but also amongst supporters that we just don't know what's going on. And it's an ugly process and it looks like there are a bunch of back room deals.”

Folks tried to tell him that weeks ago.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday's musings

Joe Biden's son won't seek the senate seat once held by his father:
"Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said Monday he will not seek the U.S. Senate seat once held by his father, Vice President Joe Biden. "I cannot and will not run for the United States Senate in 2010," Biden said in an e-mail to supporters Monday. "I will run for re-election as Attorney General." Biden's decision ends months of speculation that he would make a bid for the seat held by 36 years by his father and gives Republicans a strong chance to pick up a seat long held by the Democrats. Their likely nominee, Mike Castle, is Delaware's at-large congressman and a former two-term governor of the state."

Hint: Biden, and many Democrats, fear they'll lose.

On another front, some Democratic strategists are finally beginning to see reality:
"After three consecutive losses in statewide races, some top Democrats are questioning a tactic aimed at boosting the party’s candidates in each of those contests: Bush-bashing. Running as much against the Bush White House as he was running against Sen. John McCain, Barack Obama easily carried Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts in 2008. Yet when Democratic nominees for governor in Virginia and New Jersey and for Senate in Massachusetts sought to tie their GOP opponents to the still-unpopular former president, the strategy didn’t resonate. Voters were more focused on the current administration or local political issues — and the onetime Democratic magic formula seemed yesterday’s news. “Voters are pretty tired of the blame game,” said longtime Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand, a top aide on Obama’s presidential campaign. “What a stupid strategy that was.”

The American people turn the page fairly quickly these days. Yes, years ago Democrats could run against Herbert Hoover for 3 decades. But those days are gone. Peoples' attention spans are shorter, and people move on from and forget about things (and yes, sometimes they shouldn't) faster than they used to. Complaining about what George Bush supposedly left them sounds whiny and complain-y. Duh. But Democrats took a while to get the memo.

By the way, how bad is it right now for Democrats? Try this: in Indiana, Democrat U.S. Senator Evan Bayh has literally been untouchable. He's won statewide races for the secretary of state's office, for governor, and for the Senate. The last time he ran, in 2004, when President Bush won re-election and carried Indiana handily, Bayh still won election again overwhelmingly. He won so convincingly and so often that he was mentioned many times as a possible candidate for vice-president on a Dem ticket. As a conservative Democrat, he's been a steamroller in the Hoosier state.
But now? Now, in a hypothetical matchup with (for example) Indiana GOP Congressman Mike Pence, Bayh actually TRAILS--by 3 points. That should literally shock everyone in the American political universe. Hell is freezing over. Pigs are flying. Wow.

And the funniest thing is that all we hear from Democrats and progressives is that Obama has problems because, well, he and his administration isn't communicating enough or articulating his points effecrively enough...which Jonah Goldberg today finds, rightly, bizarre:
"What is with all of these people? Forget that Obama already rolled out his own slogan, "Yes We Can!" The idea that Obama's problems all stem from poor communication skills or practices is absolutely bizarre. The same people who think Obama is the most eloquent speaker since MLK or Cicero or Reagan also think his only problem is that he hasn't effectively explained himself."

Bingo. The President has given speech after speech--shucks, TELEVISED speech after televised speech--and these guys think the American people haven't heard his message? news flash: they've heard it. But they're not buying it.

Women's basketball--Notre Dame beats # 11 West Virginia, 74-66. Big win for the Irish--West Virginia only had one loss on the season, too. Key stats: ND once trailed, early in the second half, by 13. But they: 1] outscored West Virginia 43-24 in the 2nd half; 2] had 14 turnovers in the first half, but only 3 in the second; and 3] outscored WVU in second-chance points, 20 to 8.

Hooray! Colts 30, Jets 17. As Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz put it today, it was over once Peyton Manning and the Colts, who've been working hard all season, staying below the radar, grinding out win after win--figured out what the Jets were doing:
"This is the reason why the Colts are now heading back to the Super Bowl for the second time in four years, the reason why they remain an enduring beacon of excellence in a league where parity is supposed to rule the day. Even after all those ugly playoff losses early in the Peyton Manning era, even after the two losses to San Diego after the Super Bowl victory over the Bears, the Colts keep coming back to work, keep grinding, keep excelling when conventional wisdom suggests it's time for a step backward....Even by Manning's lofty standards, that was a true masterpiece. Even as his team struggled early with the Jets' blitzing, Manning appeared completely in charge, calmly processing the data in front of him, working through the answers. By the time he went under center for that monstrous touchdown drive before the half -- "it reminded me of the (New England AFC title) game," Manning said -- it was obvious the quarterback with the beautiful mind had solved the Rubik's Cube. Now it was just a matter of finishing the job, throwing the ball to Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, or handing off to Joseph Addai, who ran like a rookie again. "You could almost tell in the huddle," said offensive tackle Charlie Johnson. "And then, at the line, you just knew every check he was making was exactly the right one. It's like, 'OK, he's figured it out. We're going to be fine now.' "

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday's football picks (and other stuff)

First, some other stuff...

Air America is shutting down:
"Liberal talk radio network Air America is planning to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the company said Thursday. "The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business," according to a statement on the network's Web site. It cited a "perfect storm" in the media industry and plummeting advertising revenues."

Hmmm. Funny--others involved in talk radio, such as Rush or Sean Hannity, seem to be doing just fine in this economic environment. Well, now...

Unsurprisingly, in the wake of Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts (which simply confirmed what some had seen building for some time), Americans don't want a big health care bill:
"In the wake of Republican Scott Brown's victory in Tuesday's U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, the majority of Americans (55%) favor Congress' putting the brakes on its current healthcare reform efforts and considering alternatives that can obtain more Republican support."

About the only ones who haven't gotten the above memo are some liberal Democrats.
Peggy Noonan, on the other hand, has gotten it:
"What does the Massachusetts election mean? It means America is in play again. The 2008 election settled nothing, not even for a while. Our national politics are reflecting what appears to be going on geologically, on the bottom of the oceans and beneath the crust of the Earth: the tectonic plates are moving. America never stops moving now. Massachusetts said, "Yes, we want change, but the change we want is not the change that has been delivered by the Democratic administration and the Democratic Congress. So we will turn elsewhere"...Is it a backlash? It seems cooler than that, a considered and considerable rejection that appears to be signaling a conservative resurgence based on issues and policies, most obviously opposition to increased government spending, fear of higher taxes, and rejection of the idea that expansion of government can or will solve our economic challenges."

Read the whole thing. Noonan makes the case that what we need now is a "non-snarling" Republicanism/conservatism, one that lives up to its promises on spending. I agree.

Okay, now...on to the football picks!
i was 2-2 last week.

INDIANAPOLIS 8 over NY Jets. PICK: COLTS. Yes, I know, the Jets are the hot and trendy pick these days, thanks to their defense, their running game, and their ability shown last week to throttle a team like the Chargers on the road. But--I like the Colts. They showed against the Ravens they can stop the run. Yes, the Jets' blitz package is tough. But Peyton Manning saw it not long ago, and anyway there ain't much he can't handle. The Colts play well at home. I respect the Jets. But I see the Colts winning this game by 10 to 14 points.

NEW ORLEANS 4 over Minnesota. PICK: SAINTS. Again, I see the Vikings being the trendy pick. But let's remember something--in the 2nd half of the season, the Vikings had big time troubles away from home; and the Superdome is easily the toughest building in which they've played yet. The noise could affect Minnesota's O-line. Meanwhile, the Vikings have a rookie at middle linebacker due to injury..and the Saints come at you with multiple formations, and can run the ball and do other other things to slow down the Viking pass rush. If the Saints get a lead in this game, or at least stay close and thus stay multi-dimensional on offense, they'll win behind Drew Brees and his pinpoint passing attack. And I think they'll do it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Democrats remain worried in the wake of Scott Brown's victory:
"The Republican victory in Massachusetts has sent a wave of fear through the halls of the Senate, with moderate and liberal Democrats second-guessing their party’s agenda — and worrying that they’ll be the next victims of voters’ anger. “If there’s anybody in this building that doesn’t tell you they’re more worried about elections today, you absolutely should slap them,” said Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)."

They should be worried. At the same time, Republicans and conservatives have to be responsible, and thus to (for example) introduce some potential solutions to the country's problems of their own.

The likely Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, is one who could begin doing so; and in the wake of Scott Brown slaying a dragon in Massachusetts, don't be surprised if Toomey slays our old pal Arlen Specter this fall. Right now Toomey leads Specter by 9 points. In Pennsylvania, which hasn't been favorable territory for the GOP in a while...

But President Obama in his heart of hearts really does believe that, if only the health care bill was passed, why, everybody would love it to death, as he told the NY Times:
"Once this thing is passed and signed, then suddenly The New York Times and other newspapers are going to have a big article saying what does this mean for you, and people will take a look at it and say, ‘You know what, this is a lot better deal than I thought.’

The President really is kind of arrogant, isn't he? Yes, to him, the American people are kind of clueless and out of it, gulled by what he sees as negative propaganda. But gosh, as soon as they see a few big newspapers praising a health care bill enacted into law, why, they'll do a quick about-face. Does he really think people know nothing about what's been going on with these bills the last few months???

In the NBA it was, shockingly, Detroit 92, Boston 86: The Pistons are still only 15-26 on the season and have a long way to go. But, key stat: the Pistons' bench in this game outscored Boston's reserves 43-12.
Dallas 94, Washington 93: the inconsistent Mavs manage to best the less-than-mediocre Wizards by 1 point on the road. On the other hand, there are good signs for Dallas; they've now won 9 straight games decided by 1 point. That dates back to 2007. And they're playing some defense--in this game, the Mavs blocked 9 shots.

In college men's hoops, it was Michigan State 70, Iowa 63: MSU is 16-3 on the season and undefeated in Big 10 play so far, and that's great. But Coach Izzo wasn't happy with this one--his team had a 19 point lead early in the second half, but let Iowa eventually work it down to only 3 with 2 minutes left. Luckily for the Spartans they held on down the stretch. So they need more consistency.
But the University of Michigan blew another game they could have won, losing to Wisconsin, 54-48 on the road. Key stat: Michigan led by 9, 39-30, with 9 minutes left. From that point on, Wisconsin outscored the Wolverines, 24 to 9, and made tough shots and strong defensive stands down the stretch. They were tougher than Michigan when all was said and done. John Beilein has a lot to work on...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Starting in 2011, the NY Times will begin charging a fee for reading
some of its online stuff.

Prediction: it won't work. Not as long as you can read good stuff, for free, almost everywhere else on the web. Maybe the Times has a magic formula in mind that they are sure will reap them benefits. If they do, then one supposes other newspapers
will copy it, and the days of free newspaper content online could be over. But I doubt it.

Sure enough, Republican Scott Brown upsets Democrat Martha Coakley in the U.S. Senate election yesterday.

The problems this presents for Obama and the Democrats have been well-documented, so I won't go into them here. A small point that struck me about it all is this: indeed, the polls coming out right before the election had pointed to a Brown victory. And they turned out to be right. If the candidate you favor is the one surging in the polls, you love that they turn out to be correct. Don't you? But if the polls turn in a way you don't want them to, you try to find reasons not to believe them...

Meanwhile, as for the meaning of Brown's victory, Nancy Pelosi (no surprise) still doesn't get it:

Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats have gotten the message from Massachusetts voters — and it isn't to drop health care. "We heard, we will heed, we will move forward with their considerations in mind, but we will move forward" on health care, she said. She and others contend that because Massachusetts already has near-universal health coverage under a state law, the upset victory by GOP state Sen. Scott Brown to take the late Edward M. Kennedy's seat could not be seen as a referendum on the issue. "Massachusetts has health care. ... The rest of the country would like to have that too," said Pelosi. "So we don't say a state that already has health care should determine whether the rest of the country should."

Hmmm. Yes, never mind that Senator-elect Brown said specifically that he opposed the Democrats' health care bill, while Coakley made it clear she supports it, and it was a major issue in the campaign. Right...

Meanwhile NBC/WSJ has come out with polls on the Democrats' health care bill, and President Obama's job approval. Not much solace there for Democrats, either--Obama's approval is only at 48%, and only 33$ support the health care bill, while 46% oppose...

Women's hoops--Notre Dame 78, Louisville 60: Big win for Muffet McGraw's Irish. You wondered whether there would be a hangover from ND's loss last weekend at UConn, a game with a lot of hype. And indeed, Notre Dame quickly fell behind by 12 in this game, and played slowly, passively. But they rallied. Key stats: ND had 4 players in double-figures. And again, they finished strong, outscoring Louisville 41-23 in the second half. It was Coach McGraw's 600th victory--big congrats to her.
It's so important in team sports to overcome the bad, to persevere. In this case, that usually means plugging away after a tough loss, rebounding and coming back strong the next game. It's good the lady Irish could do it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

And there's an establishment media figure who gets what its all about--how about that. In this case it's CNN's Gloria Borger:
"So it's those independents who will determine the election -- and they're just as unhappy as their national brethren. That explains why the GOP candidate state Sen. Scott Brown is getting their support, some estimate by as much as 3-to-1. The swing voters see Obama as a president who himself has swung too far in one direction -- to big government. They see a large health care package in the offing, and they're not sure it will make their lives better. They see a huge Wall Street bailout, but their own jobs haven't come back. They see a president who promised to change business-as-usual in Washington, who still cut backroom deals with senators and big labor to try and get health care passed. And they see a deficit growing so large that it a) endangers their future and b) could raise taxes. Plus, they've got two wars to fight and fund, and an ever-present terror threat. They are not pleased."

Exactly. Some say that the voters are disgusted that no "change" has occurred in Washington. But that's not it. Rather, they're disgusted with the "change" they fear they'll get!

Yecch--Syracuse 84, Notre Dame 71: Too many bad decisions in a close game at home against a top 5 opponent; and they gave up 16 2nd-chance points and 30 points in the paint. I heard somebody on ESPN say that if ND could simply go 9-9 in the league, they'd make the NCAA tourney. I think they're full of it, and anyway, there sure ain't no guarantee this team will make .500 in league play. It's the same story that it's been for several seasons--not enough defense and rebounding.

Dallas 99, Boston 90: Well. The Mavericks had been playing pretty poorly lately, losing 3 of 4, including a horrible game the day before in Toronto, when they lost by 22. But last night they win in Boston. Who can figure? Keys: the Celtics didn't have Kevin Garnett, out due to injury. But the Mavs had Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 37 points and fueled a strong 2nd half run. But Dallas has to play more consistent basketball; they haven't found that consistency yet.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday's musings

Republican Scott Brown continues to increase his lead in that Massachusetts special senate election in independent, nonpartisan polls:
"Public Policy Polling's final survey finds Scott Brown up 51% to 46%, a result that's within the margin for error of the poll but which mirrors most other recent polls in giving the Republican a lead in the race."

An acquaintance of mine made a good point: Democrats and the Coakley campaign have made a big mistake. Bringing in Obama and Ted Kennedy's family over the weekend wasn't going to help them. For while they will help mobilize Democrats, Coakley's already got them. What she needs is independents, and she's done precious little to get them back in her column.

Even the NY Times today refers to Coakley's campaign as "flailing", and suggests that Democratic insiders are bracing for defeat.

And if Brown does win this race, will Democrats and progressives please stop the nonsense about how a majority of Americans oppose the health care bills in Congress because they're not liberal enough??? Surely they can't try to tell us that Massachusetts voters, the bluest in the nation, want a much more liberal health care bill and so that's why they're voting Republican!...

Well, let's just say there was good news and bad news. First, the bad news: in women's hoops, it was UConn 70, Notre Dame 46.
Honestly, there's no reason for ND fans to get real blue. UConn blows out everyone they play; just a few days before playing ND, I saw them absolutely destroy a top-15 North Carolina team. Key problems for the Irish were their 19 turnovers and shooting only 3 for 19 from 3-point land. men's hoops, it was Cincinnati 60, Notre Dame 58: a tough loss for the Irish on the road. Tough, because it was a game they easily could have, and probably should have, won. Key stats: Notre Dame was only 9 of 19 from the free throw line. And they were out-rebounded for the game 50 to 31, and gave up 18 offensive rebounds. Hint for the Irish: rebounds have a lot to do with hustle and desire.
Now, for some good men's hoops, Michigan 68, Connecticut 63: U-M is now 10-7 for the year, and a win like that over a ranked team means it at least has a shot at the NCAAs this year (though still a long way to go to achieve that goal). Key stat: Michigan shot only 37% for the game, and less than 33% from 3, yet...won anyway, by driving the ball to the hoop and holding their own in rebounding.

Of course for me the main story of the weekend was...Colts 20, Ravens 3: The Colts prove that resting their starters didn't hurt them, that they CAN play some defense and stop the run, and most importantly they survive and advance. Key stat: the Colts hold the Ravens to way below 100 yards rushing for the game.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday's NFL playoff football picks (and other stuff)

I was only 1-3 last week. Got to do better! Let's see...

INDIANAPOLIS 6.5 over Baltimore. PICK: COLTS. I respect the Ravens. But--they won last week largely due to uncharacteristic Patriot mistakes, which allowed them to run the ball, eat clock, and on defense rush the passer. I don't think the Colts will make all those kinds of errors; and Indy is rested, healthy (especially Mathis and Freeney on their D-line) and ready to go. Gotta go with Indy.

NEW ORLEANS 7 over Arizona. PICK: CARDINALS. Actually I think the Saints will win this game. But it will be close, with both offenses rambling up and down the field. I'm sure Arizona will move the ball and score points. But if Aaron Rodgers can shred that Cardinal defense, surely Drew Brees, rested and healthy, will too. New Orleans to win. But 7 pts is too much in what should be a shootout.

MINNESOTA 3 over Dallas. PICK: COWBOYS. You have to respect both teams here, especially both defenses. But ask yourself: on the whole, over the past month, which team has played better and looked better? I'd have to say the Cowboys, who have won 4 in a row now, none of them close, and played shutdown defense the whole way. Yes, the Vikings won their last game...but that was against a Giants team that, you hate to say it, had already run for the bus some time before. And before that, yes, the Vikings forced the Bears into overtime...but they lost that game to a sub-.500 Bears team. And then there are those puzzling losses at for example Carolina and Arizona. The Cowboys look to me to be at a bit of a higher level right now. Ride 'em.

SAN DIEGO 7 over NY Jets. PICK: JETS. Not to win. I think the Chargers will pull this one out in the end. But to keep it close--that Jets defense is playing well, their blitz packages are tough to handle, their running game is functioning well. I think Philip Rivers and the Bolts will find a way to win this one, but it'll be a close one.


Democratic lawmakers in Washington try to frighten Massachusetts Democrats into turning out to vote next week:
"A senior Massachusetts lawmaker says if Republicans win a special Senate election there next week, President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is dead. Democrat Barney Frank told reporters Friday: "If Scott Brown wins, it'll kill the health bill."

The good news: Democrats are worried. The bad news: who knows, their ploy might work.

By the way, here's why Democrats are so worried:
"Republican candidate Scott Brown has taken the lead over Democrat Martha Coakley in the race for the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, the latest poll shows. The Suffolk University/7News poll showed Brown leading Coakley by 4 percentage points. Brown had 50 percent, Coakley had 46 percent and independent candidate Joseph Kennedy, who is not related to the late senator, had 3 percent.
The race is still within the 4.4-point margin of error, but David Paleologos, the university's political research center director, said in a statement that the survey shows Brown has "surged dramatically."

And now even CNN has Republicans leading in the 2010 generic Congressional ballot, by 3 points.

Hmmm. Let's hope Republicans don't peak too soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Los Angeles Lakers 100, Dallas 95: see, the Mavericks are good...but not good enough. On a night when Kobe Bryant only plays 11 minutes in the first half due to being banged up, the Mavs still trail by 4 at the break; and Bryant only scores 11 points for the game, but he hits the game-winner and the Mavs lose anyway. Another key stat: the Mavs shot below 40% for the game.

Frustrating, but then one supposes that pretty much everybody in the Western Conference knows they're playing to be #2 behind the Lakers.

Michigan State 60, Minnesota 53: Another bruising Big Ten game. But the Spartans ground out a win. Crucial stat: Michigan State's bench outscored the Minnesota bench 27 to 3; and held the Gophers to 41% shooting from the floor.

Some say the physical style of play in the Big Ten hurts conference teams when it comes to tournament time. Hmmm---but didn't MSU make it to last year's final two???

There seems no doubt that, in Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown has at least a chance at upsetting Democrat Martha Coakley in that special election for Ted Kennedy's old senate seat, as even the NY Times acknowledges that Dems are scrambling:
"With a crucial 60th vote in the Senate at stake, the perceived tightening has sent Democratic operatives scrambling to Massachusetts to help the Coakley campaign and has prompted groups on both sides of the aisle to bombard the state with advertising. Ms. Coakley forcefully attacked Mr. Brown this week, an unusual step for a front-runner, painting him as an acolyte of former President George W. Bush who is out of touch with the state’s values... Predicting the outcome of the vote on Tuesday grows more difficult each day. Many Democrats still insist that a Republican win is impossible, given that Democrats outnumber Republicans by three to one in the state and that Ms. Coakley, who was elected attorney general in 2006, has far more name recognition, money and organizational support. A poll published Sunday by The Boston Globe gave Ms. Coakley a 15-point lead. But the poll of 554 likely voters, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found those who were “extremely interested” in the race virtually split between Ms. Coakley and Mr. Brown. And Democrats are clearly unnerved by other recent polls that found the two neck and neck."

Meanwhile, according to Pew Research, a very respected polling firm, when it comes to the generic congressional ballot question for 2010, Dems lead Republicans only 46-44%--almost a dead heat, great news for Republicans. Again, remember, Democrats usually lead this poll by a good margin.

By the way, on another political matter: Democrats and progressives rant and rave about Senate Republicans' use of the filibuster against legislation they oppose, such as the Democrats' health care bill. A minority flouting the supposed will of the majority, blah blah blah. Indeed, Gail Collins of the NY Times railed about it today in her column--and Jonah Goldberg at NRO sets her straight:
"But here's one reason why "90 percent of the country isn't marching on the Capitol" to protest the filibuster: Americans like it. Another reason: Nowhere close to 90 percent of the American people support the Democrats' health-care bill. If anything, trends are moving in the direction of 90 percent opposing it. Another reason: Americans are more worried about keeping their jobs or finding one, and marching on Washington doesn't seem like good way to go about that."

And don't forget too that when Democrats are in the minority in Congress, progressives love the filibuster.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Women's basketball--Notre Dame 81, South Florida 64: Notre Dame got a tougher test at home than perhaps many expected from USF. But remember that this Bulls team won the Women's NIT last year. Key: ND went on a 19-3 run late in the game to clinch the victory. In that run, South Florida made only 1 of 8 shots and committed 5 turnovers; the Irish defense finally kicked in. Next up for Notre Dame--a trip to #1 and perhaps unbeatable UConn Saturday night. Can Notre Dame even stay close?

So football coach Lane Kiffin leaves Tennessee after one season to take the job at Southern Cal. Wow--such loyalty he shows to Tennessee. That seems to be the reality of collegiate big-time coaching today--have new contract, will travel.

...would have the earthquake in Haiti. We pray for the survivors.

It's certainly a good thing for President Obama to offer "unwavering support" for Haiti and its quake victims. I hope our liberal friends won't try to claim in the days to come that former President Bush wouldn't have done the same. He did--see for example the tsunami that hit south Asia and all the Bush administration did for them...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Conan O'Brien says he won't move to midnight:
"The murky mess that is NBC's late-night schedule got a little clearer today, as Conan O'Brien announced he would not host "The Tonight Show" at 12:05am to accomodate moving a shortened "Jay Leno Show" to 11:35pm. O'Brien, who took over the "Tonight Show" reins from Leno on June 1, issued a statement in which he explained "The Tonight Show" would no longer be "The Tonight Show" if it were moved back, and said he wanted no part in damaging what he considered the "greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting."

And who can honestly blame him? I still bet that O'Brien will move to Fox.

Maybe things are changing. Look at what liberal NY Times columnist Bob Herbert writes today:

"The president of the American Federation of Teachers says she will urge her members to accept a form of teacher evaluation that takes student achievement into account and that the union has commissioned an independent effort to streamline disciplinary processes and make it easier to fire teachers who are guilty of misconduct. In a speech to be delivered Tuesday in Washington, Randi Weingarten plans to call for more frequent and more rigorous evaluations of public schoolteachers, and she says she will assert that standardized test scores and other measures of student performance should be an integral part of the evaluation process. The use of student test scores to measure teacher performance has been anathema to many teachers. Ms. Weingarten is not proposing that they be the only — or even the primary — element in determining teacher quality. But she told me in an interview over the weekend that she wants to “stop this notion” that her membership is in favor of keeping bad teachers in the classroom. “I will try to convince my members that, of course, we have to look at student test scores and student learning,” she said....Ms. Weingarten’s ideas for upgrading the teacher evaluation process are good ones and should be embraced and improved upon where possible by those in charge of the nation’s schools. The point is not just to get rid of failing teachers, but to improve the skills and effectiveness of the millions of teachers who show up in the classrooms every day. If the union chooses not to follow through on these proposals, its credibility will take a punishing and well-deserved hit."

NY Times progressives calling for greater accountability for America's public school teachers! It's a welcome development.

Three national polls have come out recently, looking at President Obama's job approval rating. The results? CNN has him at 51%, Gallup at 50, CBS at only 46%.

Again--my, how far he has fallen from a year ago, when the president was around 70%.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts,
apparently Rasmussen's next poll will have Democrat Coakley up by only 2 points.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday's musings

Good news over the weekend for the hoops teams from Notre Dame. The Notre Dame men beat #8 West Virginia at home, 70-68. Most importantly: is not only the fact that the Irish beat a highly-ranked opponent, which it needed for its NCAA tourney resume, but that ND came a huge game, at home...and played tough on both ends, hitting big shots, defending, and racing out to a 20 point lead. The Irish didn't play tight. Yes, they had to hang on, but in a league as tough as the Big East your opponents will make runs. But can you as a team hang in? The Irish did it. Maybe they have a shot at making the NCAAs this year after all.
Meanwhile the #3 ranked Notre Dame women's hoops team won again, 81-46 over Villanova. Most importantly: the Irish beat Villanova, a team which rarely turns the ball over, makes shots, and plays a slowdown, very patient style that usually gives ND fits. Not this time--the Irish forced 34 turnovers, by far a season's high for Villanova, and won easily. That pressure defense for Muffet McGraw's team is something special. They'll need it to at least stay close to powerful UConn.
News not so good though for the University of Michigan's men's team, as they blew a 17 point lead, at home, and lost to Northwestern. Loss of defensive focus in the 2nd half was probably the key, as the Wolverines gave up 40 points and lots of wide-open 3-point looks to Northwestern in the second 20 minutes. Young players just can never get it--you can never lose focus. It should be emphasized, too--Northwestern is no joke this year in basketball, either. They've got shooters and they execute their system well.

Maybe not:
"The average price of regular gasoline in the United States is up 14 cents over a three-week period to $2.74. That's according to the national Lundberg Survey of fuel prices released Sunday. Analyst Trilby Lundberg says the average price for a gallon of mid-grade was $2.86. Premium was at $2.97. Cheyenne, Wyo., had the lowest average price among cities surveyed at $2.36 a gallon for regular. Anchorage was the highest at $3.28."

Moral? Drill, baby, drill!! We need more production...
By the way, Democrats just keep getting themselves in trouble, don't they? Now Dem Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2008 apparently spoke of Barack Obama being a good candidate because he was "light-skinned" and didn't use a "Negro dialect." I go along with Mark Steyn's take on it:
"You can talk about how light-skinned and clean the Negro is and that's perfectly okay as long as you support the president's policies or (as Mr. Obama put it in his acceptance of Reid's apology) "social justice." But, if you go along to a town-hall meeting and say you oppose the health-care bill because you're very concerned at what you hear about waiting times for MRIs in Canada, you're obviously a knuckledragging racist who's itching to string that uppity Negro from the nearest tree."

As for the 2010 electoral prospects question, more good news for Republicans today (and more bad news for Harry Reid).
A Las Vegas newspaper poll shows that Nevadans who oppose the current Democratic health care plan working its way through Congress outnumber those who support it by about 20 points. (and of course Sen. Reid is the guy on point trying to pass it.)
Oh, and Reid still trails likely Republican opponents by about 10 points. Reid's numbers haven't been much over 40% for months. Bad sign, Senator.
And at least one poll over the weekend has Republican Scott Brown leading Martha Coakley in that Massachusetts Senate race. I'll believe it when I see it--Massachusetts is just so darn heavily Democratic--but there does seem to be a lot of enthusiasm there for Brown, and so maybe he has a shot...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday's football picks (and other stuff)

Yes, Alabama's football team is very good, and one certainly can't say that the Tide don't deserve the national title. But Texas QB Colt McCoy's injury last night very early in the BCS national title game just flat-out took all the fun and all the magic out of that game for me. You too?

One really wanted to see McCoy, who's had a great, storied career at UT, get the chance to see what he could do against that Alabama defense. But now we'll never know.

Michigan 64, Penn State 55: One of Michigan's main problems this season so far (well, one of many) has been cold 3-point shooting. But last night the Wolverines went 7 of 12 from 3-point land in the 2nd half, and rallied from 16 down to beat the Nittany Lions. Defensively, they forced some turnovers, too. All this will have to continue to Michigan to salvage this season...

Is the recession over, as some bumbling Obama administration flacks have claimed? You be the judge:
"Lack of confidence in the economic recovery led employers to shed a more-than-expected 85,000 jobs in December even as the unemployment rate held at 10 percent. The rate would have been higher if more people had been looking for work instead of leaving the labor force because they can't find jobs."

Meanwhile, Democrats and the Coakley campaign continue to get nervous over that Senate campaign in Massachusetts:
"And a new poll that showed a competitive race between Ms. Coakley and Mr. Brown has generated buzz on conservative blogs and energized the Brown campaign — though many news organizations dispute its methodology. In a sudden flurry of activity, the Coakley campaign released its first television advertisement on Thursday and accepted the endorsement of Mr. Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, at a splashy event outside Boston. A Brown win remains improbable, given that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 in the state and that Ms. Coakley, the state’s attorney general, has far more name recognition, money and organizational support. But a tighter-than-expected margin in the closely watched race would still prompt soul-searching among Democrats nationally, since the outcome will be the first real barometer of whether problems facing the party will play out in tangible ways at the polls later this year."

One suspects some of that "soul-searching" is going on right now, hence the Times writing about it.
By the way, so what is the biggest mistake the Obama administration is making concerning this massive health care bill? Peggy Noonan diagnoses that today, and the consequences it could have for the president:
"What a blunder this thing has been, win or lose, what a miscalculation on the part of the president. The administration misjudged the mood and the moment. Mr. Obama ran, won, was sworn in and began his work under the spirit of 2008—expansive, part dreamy and part hubristic. But as soon as he was inaugurated ,the president ran into the spirit of 2009—more dug in, more anxious, more bottom-line—and didn't notice. At the exact moment the public was announcing it worried about jobs first and debt and deficits second, the administration decided to devote its first year to health care, which no one was talking about. The great recession changed everything, but not right away....The public in 2009 would have been happy to see a simple bill that mandated insurance companies offer coverage without respect to previous medical conditions. The administration could have had that—and the victory of it—last winter. Instead, they were greedy for glory. It was not worth it—not worth the town-hall uprisings and the bleeding of centrist support, not worth the rebranding of the president from center-left leader to leftist leader, not worth the proof it provided that the public's concerns and the administration's are not the same, not worth a wasted first year that should have been given to two things and two things only: economic matters and national security."

Note that Noonan criticizes Republicans, too--she mentions that a prominent Republican congressman told her that too many in the GOP hope to regain power merely by watching the Democrats "destroy themselves." That's not a program. That's not, as Noonan says, being "serious." I agree. One thing Repubs could do is read Jonah Goldberg's NRO column today.
In which he urges Republicans to--copy Domino's Pizza.
Huh? Simple: admit, as Domino's is doing in recent commercials, that the GOP screwed up a bit in recent years. That it wasn't liberal enough? No, a thousand times no. Rather--it promised to deliver conservatism to the American people, but too often, it didn't.

Read Goldberg's whole piece; it's a good starting point.

Now, on to my NFL playoff picks for this week:

CINCINNATI 2.5 over NY Jets. PICK: BENGALS. Last week's game in NY meant nothing to the Bengals; they played few of their offensive starters and seemed disinterested. But I think now, with the playoffs here, and at home, it'll be different. Don't forget too the significant difference in experience, both in general and in playoff football, when it comes to Carson Palmer vs Mark Sanchez.

DALLAS 4 over Philadelphia. PICK: COWBOYS. Yes, I know, I've been slow to get on the Cowboy bandwagon. But last week's win was pretty darn convincing, and it wasn't a case of Philly resting starters or having nothing to play for. It's hard to see what the Eagles can do offensively to offset the dominance of the Dallas D. And in the end that will be decisive.

ARIZONA 1 over Green Bay. PICK: PACKERS. I still have a lot of respect for the Cardinals, and I don't think they've had a big post-Super Bowl letdown or decline. But it just looks like the Pack, both with their defense and Aaron Rodgers' efficiency, is playing too well right now to lose.

NEW ENGLAND 3.5 over Baltimore. PICK: PATRIOTS. I'm with those who doubt that the Pats have the defense to carry them all the way to the big game this year. But--in this game, at home, you just can't pick Joe Flacco to beat Tom Brady.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Jay Leno's prime-time talk show appears to be in trouble:
"Two months ago Jay Leno said he'd take back his old job hosting NBC's "The Tonight Show" if the network asked him to. Now it looks like he might have to be the one doing the asking. About halfway through his first season hosting "The Jay Leno Show" in prime time on the Peacock Network, an industry Web site is reporting NBC is pulling the plug on Leno. reported the story Thursday morning with the not-so-subtle headline C-Ya: NBC to pull the plug on Leno! "The Jay Leno Show" began on NBC in September, airing Monday through Friday at 10 p.m., where it has displaced several prime-time scripted dramas. For that, and for his less-than-stellar ratings thus far, Leno has taken heat within the TV industry as well as from critics."

Can't say I'm surprised. I was skeptical about this venture when NBC announced it. I have nothing against Leno, who seems like a nice guy and is often funny. But he faced difficult odds. People have so many choices now when it comes to television, what with digital cable, satellite, and the speedy growth of the DVR. There are talk shows everywhere, all day. And many still watch Conan O'Brien or David Letterman after their late local news. I don't think Americans had the appetite for yet another talk show, in prime time yet.
If indeed his show gets dumped, what will happen to Leno? Will he actually go back to the Tonight Show and displace Conan? Stay tuned...

Michigan State 54, Wisconsin 47: Gritty, gutty, a bruising battle...the usual descriptors apply again as the Spartans battle the Badgers in the tough Big Ten. Michigan State won this one, thanks to being at home, making some key plays down the stretch, and winning the rebounding battle, all good signs. But they have to get better at making free throws and having fewer turnovers, areas in which they still struggle. Is Purdue the conference favorite now...?

In Massachusetts, in the special senate election to finally fill Ted Kennedy's old seat, it does appear that Republican Scott Brown has at least a slight chance to pull an upset, and defeat the heavy favorite, Martha Coakley. Given that this is solidly, complete Democratic Massachusetts, of all places, this is big news, and again shows how the political environment is changing--for the worse--for Democrats.
Note also that in Arkansas, Republicans for sure have a great chance at a pickup. There, incumbent Dem Senator Blanche Lincoln literally trails every single possible Republican opponent, and has had low approval ratings for quite some time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Notre Dame 74, South Florida 73: the Irish get a big win on the road. The game shouldn't have been that close; ND had a 13 point lead in the second half, but their defense got a bit lax and USF made a predictable run at home. When will the Irish learn that they've got to play defense for an entire GAME? And yet, and yet...the Irish made some big free throws down the stretch, and some big shots, and they found a way to win a close game. Let's see if it can spur them on to greater things.

Dallas 98, Detroit 93: The Mavericks were sluggish and sloppy, returning home after a 3-game road trip. But they managed to grind this one out anyway; it helped that they were playing the Pistons, who have now lost 10 games in a row. Looks like the Pistons are in full rebuilding mode for this year. Meanwhile, the Mavs are in first place in their division and have a lot of wins, but one gets the impression they haven't hit their stride yet.
Ah, well--in NBA-land, where the playoffs don't start for nearly 4 months yet (!), there's still plenty of time to find a groove, I guess...

So in the 2008 campaign, President Obama promised "transparency" and open meetings, especially when it came to health care reform. So will congressional Democrats open up their closed-door negotiations, Speaker Pelosi, and allow C-Span to televise them?:
"Republicans seized on a newly released letter from the head of the C-SPAN network calling on congressional leaders to open the final talks to the public, and cited Obama's campaign trail pledge to do just that. Asked about that promise, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked, without elaboration: "There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail."

Translation: no.
By the way, this has been a bad day for Democrats--in Connecticut, Democratic Senator Chris Dodd is about to announce that he will not run for re-election. Same story for Dem Senator Byron Dorgan in North Dakota. And same-same for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.
All seem to agree that this gives Republicans an outstanding chance for a pickup in North Dakota. They all also seem to agree that Dems may be in better shape in Connecticut, as popular state attorney general Richard Blumenthal, with good approval ratings, will surely replace Dodd on the party's senatorial ticket. But still, you never know. Don't lose track of the really important thing here: with all these retirements, Democrats are showing definitively that they know the environment for them in 2010 is tough, really tough; that they're in trouble. Take heart, conservatives...

NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman in his piece today on terrorism:
"We can’t let this “war on terrorism” consume us. We can’t let our country become just The United States of Fighting Terrorism and nothing more. We are the people of July 4th — not Sept. 11th."

Calls to fix our security system, to make sure we're protected, and to understand the danger facing us are not calls to make us a terrorism-fighting nation and "nothing more." Indeed, making sure we're protected will allow us and all our people to, ahem, be all we can be...

And by the way--President Obama meanwhile reiterated yesterday his administration's determination to close the Guantanamo prison. Victor Davis Hanson, as always, takes his statement apart, piece by piece:
"Did a nonexistent Guantanamo terrorist detention center encourage al-Qaeda’s attacks all through the 1990s that culminated in 9/11? If Guantanamo serves no useful purpose other than to encourage the enemy’s efforts at recruitment, why has Obama kept it open for a year — and why is he not likely to close it for another year? Why not simply close it now? If Obama is really looking to identify the conditions that might have created a landscape for renewed attempts to harm the U.S. (there have been more terrorist attempts in 2009 than at any time since 9/11), he might consider his own administration’s rhetoric over the past year. Describing anti-terrorism efforts as “overseas contingency operations” aimed at “man-made disasters”; making references to a litany of American sins; confessing to underappreciation of pseudo-Islamic accomplishments like the printing press and the foundations of the Renaissance and Enlightenment; constantly trashing a prior American president — all of this has fostered the impression abroad that America no longer sees radical Islamic terrorists as an existential threat. If I were an Islamic terrorist, I would conclude that the present administration simply has lost interest in fighting, and that the time is ripe for a counterattack."

Indeed, one fears the counterattack is already happening.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

"The C-SPAN television network is calling on congressional leaders to open health care talks to cameras — something President Barack Obama promised as a candidate. Instead the most critical negotiations on Obama's health plan have taken place behind closed doors, as Republicans repeatedly point out. In a Dec. 30 letter to House and Senate leaders released Tuesday, C-SPAN chief executive Brian Lamb asked for negotiations on a compromise bill to be opened up for public viewing, as Democrats work to reconcile differences between legislation passed by the two chambers. Obama pledged during a presidential debate in January 2008 that he would be "bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are."

The Obama administration is put between a rock and a hard place here. You know Democratic congressional leaders don't want these negotiations televised (otherwise they wouldn't have held them behind closed doors in the first place). But Obama's 2008 campaign pledge is obvious. What will the administration do? And if it refuses to open these talks up to scrutiny, will our friends in the news media give that decision all the negative attention it deserves?
By the way, we noted yesterday how some members of the Obama administration tried to claim that the recession was over. Here's yet more evidence that such isn't true:

The number of buyers who agreed to purchase previously occupied homes fell sharply in November, a sign sales will fall this winter, undermining last summer's recovery."

This time it's Michael Kinsley who's confused, as he tries to explain why terrorists caught in the United States deserve court dates and Miranda protections:
"The charms of liberal democracy sometimes need to be defended by war, and Mr. Obama’s critics are right that war can’t be conducted with a high level of concern for individual justice. A liberal democracy aspires to punish only the guilty. But war is inherently unfair — it distributes suffering arbitrarily among enemy combatants, civilians and one’s own soldiers. A line has to be drawn somewhere to determine which of these utterly different standards of government behavior is applied where — and the nation’s border is as good a line as any.
Members of Al Qaeda are not the only ones affected by this double standard. The most repulsive and obviously guilty child molester — or drug kingpin who may also have information that the government could use — gets American justice, while an innocent child killed accidentally in our pursuit of terrorists gets no justice at all. (This second part of the equation doesn’t seem to bother the Cheneys and the Gingriches.) Any place you draw the line, it will be possible to come up with what lawyers call “a parade of horribles.” Any line you draw can be made to seem absurd, because it is absurd. But the line must be drawn somewhere."

Oh, but what drug kingpins or child molesters do does of course bother all of us. And yes, the "line must be drawn somewhere." But why the trouble for Kinsley and others in seeing the mistake in where they draw THEIR "line"? Look, druggies or child molesters are not involved in a WAR, full of violent attacks against U.S. military and governmental targets, against the United States. So, yes, therefore they go to the U.S. legal system. But terrorists, be they captured in Yemen or in Detroit, are engaged in just such a war. Therefore they should be treated as such--just as we surely, in World War II for example, would have treated a captured German or Japanese commando trying to wreak violent havoc in the United States. Such go to military courts. They don't deserve all the constitutional protections enjoyed by American citizens. What's so hard to understand.

Yes, indeed, "the line has to be drawn somewhere." And it's not hard to see that the Kinsleys of the world draw it at the wrong place.
Furthermore, Rich Lowry today on NRO puts the attempted Christmas Day bombing in perspective in re: what it means for progressive beliefs concerning terrorism:
"[The attempted bombing] put paid to the notion that terrorism is the byproduct of a few, specific U.S. policies and of our image abroad. This view dominates the Left and animates the Obama administration. It informs its drive to shutter Guantanamo Bay, to get out of Iraq, and to cater to “international opinion.” If we are only nice and likable enough, goes the theory, the Abdul Mutallabs of the world will never be tempted to violent mayhem. Only the young Nigerian didn’t appear the least bit moved by Pres. Barack Obama’s commitment to close Gitmo in a year. He didn’t seem to care that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will get a civilian trial in New York. He didn’t appear to be fazed at all by Obama’s Cairo and U.N. speeches, or a year’s worth of international goodwill gestures. He just wanted to destroy an airliner. It shouldn’t be hard to fathom why. Abdul Mutallab was in the grip of a violent ideology with an existential hatred of the United States at its core, an ideology promoted by a global terrorist conspiracy under the loose rubric of al-Qaeda. This is the essential fact that the Left tends to minimize or deny."

Read the whole thing.

The University of Notre Dame women's team won its 13th straight game to open this season, 79-75 at Purdue. This Purdue team is only 7-7 on the season. Watching the game, I wondered how that could be. They played very well. Apparently they've been plagued with injuries. But look for them to be a factor in the Big Ten. For ND, it was a hard-fought win on the road; getting down by 10 in the first half didn't seem to faze them; and senior guard Melissa Lechlitner showed a lot of leadership, scoring 20 points and hitting some big 3s. Hopefully this game is another step in Muffet McGraw's team's growing process...towards March.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday's musings

Buffalo 30, Indy 7: The Colts treated this final regular-season game as an exhibition game, and why not--given that the game was played in frigid conditions and heavy snow. But the most important starters on offense played a quarter, drove for a touchdown despite the cold, and hopefully maintained their edge. We'll see if the strategy works--the Colts now won't play until the weekend of January 16-17.
Bears 37, Lions 23: well, at least for the Lions, the season is over. Two more wins than last year; but is a 2-14 season "improvement"??? No, of course not. The Lions have a tiny few building blocks--Matthew Stafford, DB Louis Delmas, TE Brandon Pettigrew. But they still have a long, long way to go...but then, what else is new. Jim Schwartz found out this year how hard it is to break a culture of losing.

Both Michigan teams from major conferences got needed wins over the weekend. The University of Michigan beat Ohio State, 73-64. Most important to this observer were the big games the Wolverines got from their stars, Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, and the added energy with which Michigan played. But they've gotta play with that energy every game! When will teams learn that...
And Michigan State beat #25 Northwestern, on the road, 91-70. Everyone contributed for the Spartans, including their bench, which outscored the Wildcats, 40-18. Will the Spartans again build towards that March run? Maybe they're doing so now...

The criticism continues to pound the administration, including from those who want to support Obama, such as this CNN op-ed piece from a progressive academic who points out problems with the administration's message:
"...the response to the Undiebomber underscores a problem the current administration does not share with its predecessor, which not only "stayed on message" but largely controlled it for the first six years of Bush's presidency: the ability to communicate a clear vision to the American people. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano initially suggested, in a tone intended to reassure, that the failed terrorist attack proved the system works. A few days later, when that comment could no longer even pass through airport screening machines, the president reversed course, calling the event a systemic failure of catastrophic proportions.
Napolitano's gaffe (which, to be fair, she later sought to correct) was not an isolated incident. It is emblematic of a seat-of-the-pants approach to speaking with the American people about issues that really matter to them that is increasingly undermining the administration's credibility (and with it, its poll numbers). Just two weeks ago, on the Sunday morning talk shows, one member of the White House economic team confidently asserted that the recession was over -- a statement that was tone deaf at best to a nation in which one in six people is out of work or has given up looking and one in five families is in danger of losing its home. An hour later, a second senior member of the White House economic team responded on a different show that the recession is definitely not over."

Indeed, what are the central themes of this administration? With Reagan, it was less taxes, tough on communism. With W, it was the war on terror and less taxes. With Obama...they don't come to mind.
Perhaps this is why in today's latest poll results, Gallup shows the president's approval rating at only 49%, while Rasmussen shows that those who oppose the Democrats' health care plans outnumber those who support them 52-42%.