Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday's wash

As Jonah Goldberg shows well today, liberals claim to be voices of calm and they claim the extremism is on the Right. And yet it's the left fanning the flames of hysteria:
"Columnist Paul Krugman, who encouraged liberals to hang Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) in effigy, is concerned about right-wing “eliminationist rhetoric.” The Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy can’t stand the incivility of the tea partiers, which is why he wants to “knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads.” Frank Rich says the mantra “take our country back” is now code for a white racist backlash — though it was an apparently fine Democratic applause line when George W. Bush was president. So what’s the evidence for this new reign of terror? Those broken windows, some nasty voice and e-mail messages (not counting those aimed at Republicans, naturally), a coffin “left” at a Missouri congressman’s home, a few repugnant signs at rallies, and allegations from Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II (D., Mo.) and John Lewis (D., Ga.) that they were spit on and insulted with the “N-word,” respectively. But wait. The coffin was part of a protest over the death of “our freedoms” and was toted by the protesters, not left anywhere. And videos make it clear that what Cleaver called spitting was a protester spraying too much saliva while talking, the racist pig. As for the epithet aimed at Lewis, if it happened, it’s disgusting. But going by the video, there’s nothing to back it up, and the claim by Rep. Andre Carson (D., Ind.) that the N-word was chanted 15 times is pure dishonesty. Let’s assume it is true. I thought liberals rejected guilt by association as McCarthyism. Or are we to believe that every opponent of Obamacare is a racist?"

Even Gallup today has Republicans leading in the 2010 generic congressional ballot (by 3, 47-44).
Boy---some bump Democrats got from the passage of that health insurance bill, huh???

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Victor Davis Hanson today on NRO makes an excellent point concerning what else is wrong (among many things!) concerning the recent health insurance bill:
"The strangest thing about Obama's gargantuan, trillion-dollar-plus new health-care entitlement is the timing. Not only are we running $1.7 trillion annual deficits and scheduled to nearly double the $11 trillion debt in only eight years — and watching the logical end to an entitlement state in Greece's implosion — but we are witnessing the meltdown of almost every government-run program imaginable: Medicare is broke; the Postal Service is insolvent and cutting back Saturday service (but probably not a commensurate one-sixth of their budget); and now Social Security spends more than it takes in."

And the American people seem to agree:
"Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government's role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats. Those surveyed are inclined to fear that the massive legislation will increase their costs and hurt the quality of health care their families receive, although they are more positive about its impact on the nation's health care system overall."

Rasmussen now has Republicans leading in the generic congressional ballot by 7 points.

Dallas 109, Denver 93: the Mavericks recently won 13 games in a row. They've been only 4-4 since then. But last night's win was big--they defeated a big rival, are a little bit more secure in the #2 position in the West, and showed again that they can play with the big boys. But they need more consistency. Key stat: Dirk Nowitzki's triple-double: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday's musings

The fallout from the health care bill continues:
"When historians recount the momentous events of recent weeks, they will note a curious coincidence. On March 15, Moody's Investors Service -- the bond rating agency -- published a paper warning that the exploding U.S. government debt could cause a downgrade of Treasury bonds. Just six days later, the House of Representatives passed President Obama's health care legislation costing $900 billion or so over a decade and worsening an already-bleak budget outlook.
Should the United States someday suffer a budget crisis, it will be hard not to conclude that Obama and his allies sowed the seeds, because they ignored conspicuous warnings. A further irony will not escape historians. For two years, Obama and members of Congress have angrily blamed the shortsightedness and selfishness of bankers and rating agencies for causing the recent financial crisis. The president and his supporters, the historians will note, were equally shortsighted and self-centered -- though their quest was for political glory, not financial gain."

By the way, the RCP average on poll numbers for the Obama/Democratic health care bill still remains at, on average, 41% favor the plan; 50% oppose.

Nor is the Obama Administration's policy on releasing supposedly "rehabilitated" and/or wrongly-accused ex-terrorists from Gitmo looking much better:
"Prior to his release in December, Abdul Hafiz was Prisoner Number 1030 at Guantanamo Bay. Now, less than four months later, he's back home in Afghanistan and working for the Taliban -- just the latest of more than 100 released detainees who have returned to terrorism, according to the Pentagon."

Ah, the joy of March Madness, as Butler and now Michigan State make it to the Final Four. MSU did it with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, as somehow they stitched things together following the Kalin Lucas injury. Perhaps the key stat: Coach Tom Izzo has now been to 6 Final Fours in 12 years; pretty impressive. His savvy had a lot to do with the Spartans being able to make yet another March run...

But at the same time, ah, the pain--as in women's hoops, the Notre Dame women lose in the sweet 16, 77-72 in OT to Oklahoma. Hey, the Irish played a tough, talented team, and it just didn't go their way. It hurts, though, for the 4 seniors on the ND team, especially Ashley Barlow, Melissa Lechlitner, and Lindsay Schrader, who have played so hard and contributed so much to the program...and yet they never got to an elite 8, much less a final four. But life isn't always fair. They definitely kept the ND women's program on the map, and that's something to be proud of.
I think what may have done the Irish in was the fact that they never quite developed a big enough inside presence. Oklahoma had Abby Olajuwon--yes, the daughter of Hakeeom--who powered her way inside for 20 points. ND had few answers there. When the Irish won the national title back in 2001, they had Ruth Riley. I guess Coach McGraw needs to find another Ruth. But someone as special and dominant as Riley was is not easy to find...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's fish fry

I meant to pick last night's games here in this space yesterday, but forgot. Anyway, my picks were nothing special--I picked West Virginia, Kentucky, and Kansas State correctly, but didn't have Butler (but then, who did?). In any case, the big story was the drama from Butler/Syracuse and K-State/Xavier. This year the madness has been terrific.
Butler deserves all the recognition it's getting; it's been an outstanding program over a long period of time, and has been to 3 sweet 16s this decade.

All right, so let me pick tonight's games:

Tennessee vs Ohio State. PICK: BUCKEYES. OSU has one of the best players in the nation in Evan Turner; and the Buckeyes have won 9 straight. One lesson from this tournament is: go with the hot team (Butler hasn't lost a game since December).

St. Mary's vs Baylor. PICK: BAYLOR BEARS. I have Baylor going to the final four in my bracket. I won't desert them now. Baylor has size and length inside, and good guards who can penetrate and shoot from deep. I greatly respect St. Mary's, and this will be a tough, tough battle. But I think Baylor will squeak it out.

Northern Iowa vs Michigan State. PICK: SPARTANS. The trendy thing is to pick Northern Iowa, given their record, their defeat of Kansas (which didn't look like a huge fluke) and the Kalin Lucas injury for MSU. But: Tom Izzo loves challenges like this; I think he'd rather have his team be kind of an underdog; and I suspect the Lucas injury will make the Spartans rally around each other and play that much harder. And they still have plenty of talent, scoring, and rebounding ability to win.

Purdue vs Duke. PICK: BLUE DEVILS. Again, one has to give huge props to Purdue for what they've done, for their toughness and tenacity in advancing this far despite the Hummel injury. But you've gotta think that Duke's defensive toughness, talent, and ability to shoot from deep will be too much for the Boilers this time to overcome.

Another roundup of the business casualties from ObamaCare:

"What do Caterpillar and John Deere have in common? Besides being America's two biggest makers of heavy equipment, they have both announced huge increases in expenses due to ObamaCare. Wednesday, Caterpillar made official its estimate of $100 million in increased costs for 2011, though they will take the charge this year. Yesterday, John Deere said it will face an additional $150 million in increased costs for 2010 in order to comply with the Democrats' assault on America's health care and health insurance systems, eliminating about 11% of the company's profits for the year."

Do Democrats even care about this?
Maybe not. If you look at what some of our liberal/Democratic friends in the news media are saying today, they're convinced that Democrats are winning on this issue. Take for example Chuck Todd and his NBC pals over at
"Did Democrats get their groove back after this week’s passage of the most expansive social legislation in decades? It sure looks like it. President Obama had a pep in his step in Iowa yesterday; Democratic members of Congress have looked downright giddy; the Internet Left, despite its disappointment over the past year, appears more energized; and Democratic candidates are playing offense on health care."

Typical--convinced Dems are doing great...but because they want to believe it, not based on any solid evidence (one notes not one poll was cited).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

So Jake Pavelka's ex-girlfriend slams the star of "The Bachelor" and claims he tried to rig the show.
Right--a real unbiased observer there. No axe to grind. None!

So what effect is ObamaCare having so far? Well:
"Democrats dragged themselves over the health-care finish line in part by repeating that voters would like the plan once it passed. Let's see what they think when they learn their insurance costs will jump right away. Even before President Obama signed the bill on Tuesday, Caterpillar said it would cost the company at least $100 million more in the first year alone. Medical device maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could force it to lay off a thousand workers. Now Verizon joins the roll of businesses staring at adverse consequences. In an email titled "President Obama Signs Health Care Legislation" sent to all employees Tuesday night, the telecom giant warned that "we expect that Verizon's costs will increase in the short term." While executive vice president for human resources Marc Reed wrote that "it is difficult at this point to gauge the precise impact of this legislation," and that ObamaCare does reflect some of the company's policy priorities, the message to workers was clear: Expect changes for the worse to your health benefits as the direct result of this bill, and maybe as soon as this year."

Read the whole thing.

In 2010 elections news, Senate Democrat Barbara Boxer of California? She's still in trouble.
Not only because the polls are tight already, but especially because she doesn't come close to the 50% mark.

Meanwhile, liberal acquaintances of mine have been trying to push the notion that the American people already have a more favorable view of the health care bill, now that it's passed. Really? You'd think if that was true, then their view of President Obama would have improved...right? Lord knows how hard he pushed for the bill. But:
"Despite passage of his signature health reform bill, President Barack Obama still gets a split 45 – 46 percent approval from American voters in a Quinnipiac University national poll conducted Monday and Tuesday, compared to a negative 46 – 49 percent approval in a survey concluded Sunday before the House of Representatives voted on the health care bill. These are President Obama’s worst grades so far, tying his 45 – 46 percent approval February 11."

Other political news this week, of course, has been troubling:
"House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said today a bullet was shot through the window of his campaign office in Richmond, Va. this week, giving just another example of the numerous acts of violence and threats against members of Congress this week. Just about all the reported incidents have targeted Democratic members in the wake of their support for health care reform, but Cantor today blasted Democrats -- calling out two party leaders in particular -- for "ratcheting up the rhetoric" surrounding the dangerous threats and blaming Republicans for inciting the hostility."

Cantor has a good point, but we must also say this: anyone making death threats against Democrats who voted in favor of the health care bill is both wrong and immoral. This has got to stop. Anyone who calls himself a conservative who is doing such things is neither responsible, nor a conservative. What we must do is, very simple, point out rationally, day after day, why this health care bill is bad for the country; and begin to make our case for the 2010 elections, that we may vote out those who have supported that bill and vote in those we favor. That's it. Making death threats hurts our cause. It must stop.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday's wash

For the playoffs next season, the overtime rule is tweaked:
"The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession. The proposal passed 28-4. As it is written, the rules change applies just for the postseason, but the owners also decided to discuss adopting the changes for the regular season at their next meeting, in May in Dallas."

Good change. It just seems to me that both teams should at least have a having a shot (i.e. the ball). They do so in basketball; a 5 minute OT means both teams will have a chance--indeed, several chances--to go on offense. They do so in baseball; in extra innings, both teams get a chance to hit. Now there will be that chance in football, providing one's defense can hold the other guys to less than a TD. And think of the strategy involved: it's OT, your team has the ball first, you drive down other team's, say, 9 yard line...4th down and 2. Go for the field goal? Or the TD? Fascinating strategy call.
But I also agree with Wojo on this rule to the regular season, too. And I predict they will.

Dallas 106, Los Angeles Clippers 96: the Mavs, after their 13-game win streak, have lost 3 of 4, played horribly defensively, and made a lot of turnovers. But last night maybe they got back on a good track, beating the Clippers and playing a better overall game. They're still tied for 2nd place in the Western Conference with Denver, so there's still a chance to get in good position going into the playoffs. Key stats: 37-year-old Jason Kidd scores 26 points. And defensively, the Mavs got LA to miss 17 of 22 shots in the 4th quarter. Why don't they play defense like that more consistently? The eternal question...

Women's NCAA Tournament: Notre Dame 84, Vermont 66: The Irish advance to the sweet 16, for the 8th time since 1997. Let's face it, they were the favorites in this game; ND's a 2 seed, Vermont a 10. But you still have to get it done on the court, and the Irish did, against a hot team that beat Wisconsin in its last game. Key stats: well, mainly it's about Skylar Diggins, who lit up the Catamounts for 31 points; she herself forced 10 Vermont turnovers. Also key was rebounding, always an Irish problem. But last night Notre Dame out-rebounded its opponent, 34-29. Now on to the sweet 16...

Beware of the new health insurance bill:
"The legislation allocates $10 billion to pay for 16,500 IRS agents who will collect and enforce mandatory “premiums.” Does that sound like the private sector at work to you?"

Nope. And as Thomas Sowell today adds:
"Under the headline “Costly Bill Seen as Saving Money,” the San Francisco Chronicle last week began a front-page story with these words: “Many people find it hard to understand how the health care legislation heading for a decisive vote Sunday can cost $940 billion and cut the horrendous federal deficit at the same time.” It’s not hard to understand at all. It is a lie. What makes this particular lie pass muster with many people who might otherwise use their common sense is that the Congressional Budget Office vouched for the consistency of the budget numbers that say you can add millions of people to a government-run system and yet save money."

The CBO said what it said partly because Congress claimed it will cut Medicare by HALF-A-TRILLION DOLLARS...did you get that figure?--every decade. No way that will happen...

I see that some Democrats and liberals are trying to claim already that passage of the health care bill has made it more popular with Americans. Really? Check out this CNN poll on the generic congressional ballot, which came out today:
It's got 48% of respondents planning to vote Republican in November; only 45% plan to vote Democrat. So, let's see, people love this health care bill...which Republicans opposed UNANIMOUSLY...but more of them plan to vote GOP than vote Democratic? Give me a break!
By the way, Quinnipiac has Republicans leading the generic congressional ballot, too.

Meanwhile, the passage of this health care legislation is bringing the so-called "experts" who claim to know what's best for you and are convinced that you don't, out of the woodwork. Did you know that this health care bill has new regulations for restaurants? Read on, and see what an "expert" says about it:
"The health care bill signed into law Tuesday by President Obama is the nation's most sweeping social legislation in four decades. But it also includes some smaller changes that will directly affect consumers. These include taxes on indoor tanning services, requirements for restaurants to post calorie information and changes to flexible spending accounts...There are 540 calories in a Big Mac and 670 calories in a Whopper. Nutritional information will be unavoidable when customers step up to the counter to order. The health care law requires chain restaurants that have more than 20 locations to display calorie information next to the food item on the standard menu...The health care law requires "succinct statement concerning suggested daily caloric intake" that are "posted prominently on the menu and designed to enable the public to understand, in the context of a total daily diet, the significance of the caloric information that is provided on the menu."
Dr. Kelly Brownell, a Yale University psychology professor at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, conducted research that found that consumers choose lower-calorie food when their menus contained caloric information and a statement that said "an average person consumes 2,000 calories a day."

Argh. Come off it, Dr. Brownell! People know very well that big hamburgers have a lot of calories. People aren't stupid; and they don't need you to tell them they're eating high-calorie food. They choose to do it. When will people like yourselves learn to live with this? When will you learn that, in a republic based on freedom and liberty, as our nation is supposed to be, the choice that people make to eat fattening foods or whatever is a choice that "experts" like yourselves need to learn to live with???? When????? Probably never.

"A lot of people don't know what it means to have 600 calories," he said. "They have no context and the legislation requires that anchor statement."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

For conservatives, yes, we're fired up to fight the bill just passed--but as Mark Steyn points out today, it's passage also has to be troubling:
"Is America set for decline? It’s been a grand run. The country’s been the leading economic power since it overtook Britain in the 1880s. That’s impressive. Nevertheless, over the course of that century and a quarter, Detroit went from the world’s industrial powerhouse to an urban wasteland, and the once-golden state of California atrophied into a land of government run by the government for the government. What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California become the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. But what will ensure it is if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy."

By the way, Nancy Pelosi claimed this health care bill will almost immediately create something like 400,000 jobs. Nonsense--it will cost jobs:
"The people at Zoll Medical Corporation saw a ray of hope in January when Scott Brown was elected senator from Massachusetts. Located in Chelmsford, 30 miles outside Boston, Zoll is the nation's leading manufacturer of heart defibrillators, which save thousands of heart attack victims each year. Back in January, as the Senate race was raging, both House and Senate Democrats wanted to impose a crippling new tax on the makers of medical devices, Zoll included, to help pay for Obamacare.
The total tax on the industry would be about $2 billion a year, or $20 billion over the next decade. Companies watched nervously as lawmakers pushed ahead, first the House and then the Senate. But then Brown was elected on the promise to be the crucial Republican vote to stop health care reform. For Zoll, things were looking up.
Not anymore. The bill passed by the House Sunday night contains a particularly damaging version of the $20 billion hit for the medical device industry, meaning Zoll and other medical device makers could well be headed for hard times."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday's musings

Well, ObamaCare is almost certainly passed. Democrats think they can sell it.
What Republicans and conservatives have to do now is to keep the focus on this legislation, and to especially point out to people the problems that crop up with it, as they certainly will--the bureaucracy, that is, the red tape, the cost overruns, the fact that this thing certainly will not result in the deficit savings that its sponsors predict, that it will cost far more than its sponsors predict. And we can unify around a simple idea: repeal. And while that will undoubtedly not come easily or soon, still it will give Republicans and conservatives a chance to prove that liberal entitlement programs are not inevitable and, once passed, are not set in stone. Let's get to work...

Conservative writer Peter Wehner has some good analysis today:
“In the short term Obama will get a boost, because the narrative is that he came back from the dead and got done what no president has managed to do in 70 years,” said Peter Wehner, who was a political adviser to President Bush. “But once people discover that their Medicare taxes are going up, that there are deeper cuts in Medicare Advantage, that there are court challenges to many provisions, and that the process of getting it passed created a portrait of corruption, it won’t sit well.”

Philip Klein at the American Spectator also has excellent advice for conservatives and the way forward:
" If Obamacare is fully enacted, then conservatives should make sure that Democrats are held accountable for the problems with the health care system. The rising premiums should be blamed on the burdensome regulations that force individuals to purchase the amount of insurance that the federal government dictates they must have, rather than the type that they freely choose. The out of control health care spending should be blamed on the reality that when the government is picking up the tab for something, people tend to spend more. The crushing deficits we'll be facing should be blamed on the accounting tricks Democrats used to hide the true cost of their proposals. When Americans have to undergo long wait times in doctors offices, when individuals have to file their tax returns each year and present proof of government-approved insurance or pay more taxes, when the private sector has to digest a raft of new taxes and mandates, they'll be more open to hearing conservative alternatives. Keep in mind that this will all be happening within the broader context of the entitlement crisis, with Social Security and Medicare running deficits, and further reinforcing the unaffordable cost of massive government."

Certainly no sign it's sitting well with anyone much right now, even after passage; a CNN poll out today shows only 39% of respondents support the health care plan; 59% oppose. Good luck, Dems!!

Women's hoops--Notre Dame advances to the 2nd round of the women's tournament, beating Cleveland State as expected, 86-58. Key stat: the Notre Dame bench tallies 44 of the team's 86 points, over half. Now the Irish must beat #10 seed Vermont to get to the sweet 16. Don't you dare take any team lightly, ND (I suspect Coach McGraw will see to it that they don't)...
Men's hoops: Michigan State 85, Maryland 83: wow, how sometimes do the Spartans do it? This is now a team seriously bothered by injuries, especially with point guard Kalin Lucas likely out for the rest of the tournament with a torn Achilles. And yet they found a way to win this game, on Korey Lucious' last-second shot. Key stat? To me, it was Durrell Summers coming into his own and scoring 26 points from the wing. MSU will need more of that against Northern Iowa...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Democrats yesterday touted the CBO numbers as to how great their bill (supposedly) is. But the CBO DIRECTOR then had THIS to say:
"Although CBO completed a preliminary review of legislative language prior to its release, the agency has not thoroughly examined the reconciliation proposal to verify its consistency with the previous draft. This estimate is therefore preliminary, pending a review of the language of the reconciliation proposal, as well as further review and refinement of the budgetary projections."

Translation: eventually, this bill will cost a whole lot more than $940 billion, and ain't gonna be no budget deficit reductions out of it...

As for President Obama's job approval numbers, they're not much better than the numbers for his health care bill. 3 recent polls...Fox, Gallup, and Rasmussen...and he's at 46, 46, and 45% approval. Remember early '09 when he was around 70%??? Those days are long gone...

Wasn't that one of the greatest opening days of the NCAA Tournament ever? Tight games, buzzer-beaters, overtime games galore. My Irish unfortunately didn't survive. They just couldn't make shots. Congrats to Old Dominion, who deserve a lot of respect. Who picked Ohio to upset Georgetown? Not me. What will we see today? Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

So today let's focus on one of the great spectacles in American sports, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which begins in minutes. Today I'll pick all the first round upsets I see coming, plus I'll pick a few games which, I've noticed, others are picking as upsets...but I won't. Here we go:

#9 Northern Iowa over #8 UNLV--Northern Iowa has been consistent all year.

#13 Houston over #4 Maryland--yes, Maryland is good and has a great scorer in Greavis Vasquez. But Houston is hot; they just won their conference tournament, upsetting highly-regarded UTEP, and they too can score. I suspect they can outscore the Terps, whose defense at times this year hasn't been so hot.

#11 San Diego State over #6 Tennessee---again, SDSU an unheralded but tough, experienced, hot team; I worry that Tennessee with that pressing style they play may be a bit worn out from their conference grind.

#7 Oklahoma State over #10 Georgia Tech--I've heard some experts picking Tech. But Okie State can shoot lights out, and beat Kansas not long ago, don't forget. OSU has really come on.

#5 Butler over #12 UTEP--I've also heard a lot of experts picking UTEP, due especially to their big man Derek Caracter. But look--Butler has a lot of tournament experience, they're on a long winning streak, and everyone tries to dictate pace and tempo to Butler--and largely fails. Go with the Bulldogs.

#13 Murray State over #4 Vanderbilt--Murray State is a tough, experienced club on a long winning streak with a lot of seniors. Again, one wonders if Vandy isn't a bit worn down from their conference grind.

#11 Minnesota over #6 Xavier--Minnesota has played a tough schedule, they're hot, they got all the way to the Big 10 tourney final. And don't overlook the fact that this game will be played in Milwaukee--not far at all for a lot of Golden Gopher fans to make the trip.

#8 Texas over #9 Wake Forest--yes, Texas has struggled. But the tournament for them can be a fresh start, and they still have a lot of talent. If Texas wins this game, and I think they will, watch out for them--they could be dangerous.

#11 Washington over #6 Marquette--I think Washington is hot at the right time; they won the Pac 10 Tourney. They have size and shooters. I think they'll be highly motivated to show the world that the Pac-10 isn't as bad as people say it is. And again, I wonder if Marquette is a bit tired.

#10 Missouri over #7 Clemson--Missouri is a tough basketball team, with some good guard play. They gave a number of Big 12 powers tough games this year; and the ACC is down.

#9 Louisville over #8 California--Louisville has 3-point shooters, they have a big man inside in Samuel, and they came on towards the end of the season, as Pitino teams tend to do...note their victory over Syracuse in their final regular season game.

#12 Utah State over #5 Texas A&M--gotta pick at least one 12 to upset a 5; happens every year. This is mine--Utah State is an experienced team, won a lot of games. A&M's deliberate style of play has been effective for them but also allows teams to stay in the game. Look for Utah State to steal this one.

#13 Siena over #4 Purdue--no surprise I'm picking this one; Purdue doesn't have Robbie Hummel, lost for the year due to injury, and it's hurt them. Meanwhile they drew a nightmare matchup against an experienced, tough Siena club.

#6 Notre Dame over #11 Old Dominion--this one is indeed a tough matchup for the Irish, and I expect a close game. But I think ND will survive, thanks to their good guard play, their maturity, their improved play on the defensive end.

#10 St. Mary's over #7 Richmond--St. Mary's is very, very good; they won 26 games, won their conference tourney and did so by beating Gonzaga in the championship game. They have a big shot-blocker inside and guards who can shoot from deep. This team is scary.

We'll see how I do. Enjoy March Madness!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday's wash

CNN says opponents of the health care bill are gaining:
"Five more House Democrats said Tuesday that they will vote against Senate health care legislation, which puts opponents of reform just 11 votes shy of the 216 needed to prevent President Obama from scoring a major victory on his top domestic priority. An ongoing CNN analysis shows that opposition in the House to the Senate health care plan has reached 205 members. A total of 27 House Democrats, including nine who supported the House plan in November, have indicated that they would join a unified Republican caucus in opposing the Senate plan, which passed in that chamber December 24 with the minimum required 60 votes. Nonetheless, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut said Monday after a meeting with rank-and-file Democrats that "the votes are there" to pass the health care bill."

Yes, right...well, if "the votes are there", why don't you Dems vote on it today, then? That of course they won't says volumes.

One reason the votes aren't there is due to the fact that the Obama/Democratic health care plan still doesn't poll well. NBC/Wall Street Journal yesterday had it at 36% approval, 48% disapproval. Wow.

In 2010 election updates: in Pennsylvania, not to worry--Rasmussen still has Toomey up 9 points over Specter in the likely Senate matchup. I'd trust Rasmussen--their polling came off very accurate in the most recent elections.

I'll have all my picks for the first round games tomorrow. But the Madness is here. Don't know how much stock folks will want to put in my picks, though--I had Winthrop, with its decent NCAA tourney experience and tradition, beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff last night...and of course instead UAPB took Winthrop to school, 61-44. Guess I gotta work on my picks today a bit more...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Republicans blast Democrats over the procedural tricks they're employing:
"Days away from critical decisions on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Republicans assailed Democratic plans to push the massive legislation through the House without a direct vote. "Anyone who endorses this strategy will be forever remembered for trying to claim they didn't vote for something they did," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday. "It will go down as one of the most extraordinary legislative sleights of hand in history." Democrats said no final decision had been made on the complex strategy. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to shield lawmakers from having to vote directly on a Senate-passed health care bill because it's unpopular with House Democrats.
Instead, under her favored approach, lawmakers would approve a rule for debate that would deem the Senate bill passed once a smaller package of fixes to the larger bill has also passed.
"Nobody wanted to vote for the Senate bill," Pelosi, D-Calif., explained in a round-table meeting with liberal bloggers Monday. "It's more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know, but I like it because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill," she said of the approach."

Note that Democrats aren't even trying to deny the trick they're using, or why they have chosen to use it. People used to say that those who have nothing to say, blather on about "process." But not this time. This time it's clear that the process matters, and that it resonates against Democrats. As the article linked above gets to later:

"Democratic leaders contend there's nothing unusual about the strategy, which both parties have used in the House to create a distance between lawmakers and politically unpopular votes such as raising the debt ceiling. But Republicans were quick to portray it as the latest Democratic trick on health care, and some moderate rank-and-file Democrats voiced discomfort.
"I'm getting a lot of comments about the process, and a lot of unease," Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., said in an interview Monday."

This trickery is hardly the kind of "hope and change", not to mention it's not the kind of openness and fairness that liberalism always promises; conservatives need to keep pointing this out.

And it's Democratic Party pollsters who continue to present evidence suggesting that the American people are not comfortable with the process:
"...Obama’s chief pollster, Joel Benenson, has released a memo noting that process has been a mess for Democrats. “Independents’ concerns about health care reform are not about specific provisions in the bills passed by the Senate or House, but instead reflect concerns about reforms’ stagnation and the backroom deal-cutting, particularly those that benefit the constituents of key swing senators or special interests, such as the pharmaceutical industry,” he writes."

Jim Geraghty over at NRO pegs all this exactly right:
"Yesterday, Obama kept emphasizing that "courage" was required on the health care issue, along with an up-or-down vote. How perfect that on the exact same day, Pelosi agrees to a rule that would skip an up-or-down vote, because too many House Democrats are afraid to vote on the Senate bill directly."

In other political news: looking ahead to 2010 Senate elections, it appears that Democrat Barbara Boxer in California will face at the least a very competitive race. Republicans have a chance there.

Republicans meanwhile have an excellent shot at unseating Democrat Russell Feingold in Wisconsin--if Tommy Thompson runs, and who knows, maybe even if he doesn't.

And don't forget that, in Pennsylvania, Repub-turn(coat)ed-Democrat Arlen Specter still has to win the Dem primary. A poll out today shows he leads his opponent, Joe Sestak, but only by 11 points...hardly a runaway. Still competitive. Could Specter even lose the Democratic primary??? Stay tuned.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday's musings

So the Obama people are expecting a health care bill to be signed, sealed, and delivered this week. I'll believe it when I see it. Meanwhile, on other issues as well as health care, President Obama isn't polling so well. Take national security:
"Observing anti-Americanism around the globe in 1967, Ronald Reagan lamented in a speech: “We tried to buy love in the world when we should have been earning respect.” It is an admonition President Obama is predisposed not to heed — and the American people have noticed. As a result of his weak and distracted foreign policy, 51 percent of Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during Mr. Obama’s tenure. Only 41 percent think otherwise. That was reported this week by the liberal group Democracy Corps–Third Way, which also found that only 33 percent of Americans believe the Democrats are better on national security."

In sports news, what on earth are the NFL's Cleveland Browns up to, trading Brady Quinn?:

"Quarterback Brady Quinn will get a chance to start over in Denver. Whether he'll get to start is up to the Broncos. The Broncos acquired the former first-round draft pick from the Cleveland Browns for fullback Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012. The teams announced the trade Sunday and said the deal is pending physicals.
"Obviously there are things that are out of my control. It's a great opportunity for me to play under a great coach [Josh McDaniels]," Quinn told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It will be a fresh start for me and great opportunity with a very talented team and it should be a lot of fun." Ostensibly, Quinn will compete with Kyle Orton for the Broncos' starting job, although McDaniels was unavailable Sunday to comment on the trade, according to a team spokesman.
"At this point, I'm just looking to create a role for myself on the team," Quinn told the Plain Dealer. "Anytime you're in a situation like this, that's all you can really do is just go in there and learn the system, get to know your teammates and coaches, everyone else, and that's really my focus right now. All of those things will take care of themself in the end."
Quinn's departure comes one day after the Browns agreed to terms with free agent Jake Delhomme on a two-year contract. Quinn went 3-9 in 12 starts for Cleveland, which drafted him with the 22nd pick in the first round in 2007 out of Notre Dame."

It's not that Quinn should have been untouchable. His 3-9 record as a starter and mere 53% completion percentage guaranteed him nothing. But the Browns want to go in 2010 at QB with...Seneca Wallace and/or Jake Delhomme? Doesn't appear to be that solid of a foundation to me. Maybe Mike Holmgren has more up his sleeve than we know. Browns fans sure hope so, one imagines.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday's fish fry

It remains hard to see where the Democrats will get the yes votes they need in the House to pass their bill:
"Congressional Democrats embarked on the final push for an historic health care bill on Thursday with no guarantee that they have the votes to pass it. And they made their task even more difficult by moving toward writing off anti-abortion members who voted for the bill the first time in the House. House leaders now believe they can’t change the abortion language in the Senate bill under the reconciliation process, which is only supposed to be used on budgetary matters. But that would likely mean several House members who think the Senate language doesn’t go far enough in banning federal funding of abortions would likely change from “yes” votes to “no.”

Read the whole piece. Maybe Nancy Pelosi and other Dem leaders truly believe the votes will come. Or maybe they believe that all this dithering is only making things worse, and so they need to seek a final vote, come what may.
I do think I know this: all the lengths to which the Democrats have had to go--embracing arcane procedural maneuvering to try to pass this bill, talking openly about avoiding final up-or-down votes on a final bill--cannot be helping them with the American public. Some say the public doesn't care about process. I think events have shown that not to be true. See all the outrage over the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the like.
Passing this bill won't magically change the polling on it--though Democrats apparently remain convinced it will.

Meanwhile, two more DEMOCRATIC pollsters--not Republican pollsters--weigh in today in the Washington Post urging Democrats in Washington NOT to pursue health care, and use strong language in doing so:
"...the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes. Nothing has been more disconcerting than to watch Democratic politicians and their media supporters deceive themselves into believing that the public favors the Democrats' current health-care plan. Yes, most Americans believe, as we do, that real health-care reform is needed. And yes, certain proposals in the plan are supported by the public. However, a solid majority of Americans opposes the massive health-reform plan. Four-fifths of those who oppose the plan strongly oppose it, according to Rasmussen polling this week, while only half of those who support the plan do so strongly. Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data."

Read the whole thing. We've been talking about many of their points here for weeks. But what's striking is how many Democratic Party pollsters now get it...but Democratic politicians in Washington don't.

As for the Obama administration as a whole, read this NY Times story from today on former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers. Remember her? The one who took the fall for the two Washington society-wannabes who snuck into that big state dinner late last fall? Ms. Rogers certainly made her mistakes. But the Times' story suggests that the Obama folks very coldly left her to twist in the wind, and then were eager to dump her. Remember that when folks start gabbing about how compassionate the Obama folks are...

Gotta still be proud of the Irish--Notre Dame 50, Pittsburgh 45: for only the second time, the Irish advance to the Big East tournament semifinals. What a turnaround. Again, ND is doing a good job defending, being patient, and being tough. Key stats last night: Notre Dame holds Pitt to only 30% shooting from the field. And ND had 7 steals. Beating West Virginia tonight will be a tall task. We'll see if this Irish team is on an even bigger roll than anyone thought...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

President Obama promised "openness"...but:
"Health care reform takes center stage Thursday as President Obama and top congressional Democrats work behind closed doors to nail down a final agreement."

Ooops! No C-Span around either, I bet...

In Elections 2010 news concerning the U.S. Senate, polls continue to show that Washington Democrat Patty Murray is in trouble.
I am proud of my Notre Fighting Irish men's hoops team. Last night they beat Seton Hall in the Big East tournament, 68-56. It was their fifth straight win; they're executing their patient offense very well, they're defending, they're rebounding (they out-rebounded the Hall, 40-30). I'm very glad they've hung in there, that they've found themselves and...oh, yes--Luke Harangody is back, healthy again, and had 20 points last night. It's fun to be an Irish hoops fan least, for a day.

Oh, and speaking of basketball, the Dallas Mavericks have now won 13 straight games...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Remember when President Obama specifically criticized a Supreme Court decision during his State of the Union speech, with members of the Court sitting right in front of him? One of the justices got in trouble for shaking his head at the President's remarks; but as Chief Justice Roberts said today, maybe it's Mr. Obama who should have received the criticism:
"To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I'm not sure why we're there," said Roberts, a Republican nominee who joined the court in 2005. Roberts said anyone is free to criticize the court and that some have an obligation to do so because of their positions. "So I have no problems with that," he said. "On the other hand, there is the issue of the setting, the circumstances and the decorum. The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court — according the requirements of protocol — has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling."

Bingo. Any President can criticize any Court decision he wishes. But there's a time and a place to do so and, as Justice Roberts noted, a State of the Union speech where partisan points are being made is not the place.

On the health care reform front, there were 3 polls which came out yesterday concerning Obama and the Democrats' health care plan. All 3 indicated that at least a plurality of Americans, if not a majority, still opposed the plan. But while Rasmussen had it 42% in favor while 53% oppose, both AP and Gallup had it much tighter--AP at 41% favoring, 43% opposed, while Gallup had it at 45% yes, 48% no.

Does this mean the President's public relations offensives on health care are bearing fruit? Maybe. But...look at it this way. None of those polls had public support for the plan above 45%. None of them. All this discussion of it, and all of Obama's speeches pushing it...and he still can't get outright support for these proposals above 45%.
No wonder many Democrats continue to run away from them.

Let's remember, folks...the Dallas Mavericks have now won 12 games in a row, including a win two nights ago over Minnesota. The key for the Mavs has been that they've contributions for literally everybody; two nights ago it was Shawn Marion throwing in 29 points, his highest total of the season. Before that role player Roddy Beaubois averaged 21 points a game over 3 contests. They've played better defense, and literally everyone is contributing. It's been an amazing run, one made despite injuries to key players Jason Terry, Eric Dampier, Brendan Haywood...the list goes on.
Could this team be approaching the level of a real threat to the Lakers? Can't say that yet. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Doesn't look like the House is any closer today to passing a health care bill:
"Don't confuse the House timeline with the White House timeline, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) warned reporters Tuesday. "None of us has mentioned the 18th, other than Mr. Gibbs," Hoyer said in response to a question about whether Congress can pass a health care package by March 18, the date laid out last week by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "We are trying to do this as soon as possible. That continues to be our objective." In the meantime, Hoyer said an internal fight over abortion restrictions "has to be resolved."

Good luck with that...
Meanwhile, the intensity factor for Republican voters this year is clearly way up; not so for Democrats, especially among the young:
"The worst sign for Democrats is voter enthusiasm. Young voters are a critical demographic for both the president and Democrats in Congress. They were the key to Obama's success last cycle, both in the primaries and the general election. Young voters arguably pushed him over the top in Indiana and North Carolina—two significant states in his victory over John McCain—and, going all the way back to January 2008, they handed him his very first victory, in the Iowa caucuses. This year only 35 percent of young Democratic voters say they'll turn out in November. Young Republicans, on the other hand, are significantly more enthusiastic, with 41 percent saying they definitely plan to vote. Among those who voted for John McCain in 2008, 53 percent told Harvard they were certain to vote this year, while only 44 percent of Obama voters plan to cast ballots. And those who disapprove of Obama's job performance are more likely to vote than those who approve."

In Floriday, it looks like moderate Republican Charlie Crist is toast.
Get to know Marco Rubio; he's the next conservative star.

Women's hoops--UConn 59, Notre Dame 44: nobody will deny UConn this season, not its winning streak or anything else. But despite again shooting less than 40% from the floor, Notre Dame trailed by just 3 points at the half, just 5 several minutes into the second half, and overall gave the Huskies one of their toughest games of the season. Not bad. Build on that, Irish!...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday's musings

The Obama administration promised "hope and change", and a complete 180 from all of Washington's same old "games." But the reality is that the Obama team has been just as susceptible to it as has any other administration:
"...for all their brio, Obama’s team has been proven just as susceptible to Washington’s favorite parlor games as anyone, in a way that’s caused more tension and drama inside the White House than any particular policy or political differences.
The reason these questions have exerted such a powerful effect on the Obama story line is that much of the outside critique is grounded at least partly in reality.
Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel gets criticized for biting off more than he can chew. And in fact, he manages political, policy and congressional portfolios that compete for his attention. Axelrod gets criticized for being so close to Obama for so long that he sometimes fails to appreciate and anticipate when the president's approach isn't resonating. And in fact, the message, which Axelrod often crafts, has been badly muddled at key points, primarily on health reform. After the president’s historic win in 2008, his close aides might have been forgiven for thinking that the usual rules of politics didn’t apply to them — that they could rise above the Washington ways merely by saying they would. But upon taking office, they, too, quickly lapsed into old Washington habits, with several senior staffers sitting for flattering profiles and photo shoots that made them star players in Obama’s world.
And as the waters have grown choppy, some of the key players have taken to defending their actions in the press — which also contributes to a sense that Obama’s White House is getting pulled into the minute-by-minute tit-for-tat it swore to avoid."

The Clinton administration became famous for its infighting and leaking to the press; the Obama folks don't look all that different.

Meanwhile, Iraq held an election yesterday and 62% of the electorate voted; violence was much reduced. Sounds like stability is approaching there, as is democracy. We'll await liberals and Democrats' congratulations to the former members of the Bush administration for the Bushies' steadfastness in sticking with things in Iraq. I have a hunch we'll be waiting for a long time, though...

Conservatives and Republicans need to emphasize it: the Bush administration is being vindicated on a daily basis in Iraq.

On health care: why is it that Democrats should think twice before ramming a health care bill through Congress via "reconciliation"? Former Clinton pollster Mark Penn presents powerful evidence today:
"Reconciliation has been used before to pass major legislation. Proponents of this approach are fond of pointing to the passage of welfare reform, COBRA, and Bush's '01 and '03 tax cuts as evidence that the Democrats are fully inside the lines. For the administration, the most crucial difference between those bills and this is not their urgency, partisan nature, or even particularly their impact on the deficit; for Obama and his team, the most critical variant is that those bills were popular with the public. In 1996, 68% of Americans favored welfare reform. In 2000, before Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut was introduced (by the notably bipartisan duo of Senators Phil Gramm and Zell Miller,) 63% of Americans thought they were paying too much income tax; by the spring of 2001, after a month of legislative wrangling, 56% favored Bush's proposed cuts. In 2003, with the Iraq war railing in the background and a post-9/11 economy flailing at home, 52% supported the second round of cuts. Not a huge margin, perhaps, but still a majority. A February CNN poll puts voter support for the current bill (or a similar variant thereof) at just 25%. An equal percentage thinks Congress should forget health care reform altogether, while 48% think they should start work on an entirely new bill. Of more concern to any Democrat with an eye on reelection, Independents remain unmoved by the arguments in reform's favor, with only 18% supporting it and 52% calling for an entirely new bill."

Read his entire piece.

Women's hoops--Notre Dame 75, St. John's 67: St. John's has some real athletes. They're a good club; they are 25-5 on the season, yet I have a hunch few have heard of them. So this was a good win for Notre Dame, and will edge them toward at least a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament. Key stats: freshman Sylar Diggins had 21 points for Notre Dame, and took over the game at times. She's coming on. And the Irish held St. John's to 31 second half points, after allowing the Red Storm to gouge their zone defense in the first half.
But now the Irish must face mighty UConn. I don't know that anyone can beat the Huskies. Can the Irish keep it close?

Meanwhile, in men's hoops, it was Michigan State 64, Michigan 48: for MSU, a return to the old standbys of defense, rebounding, hustle; for Michigan, ho-hum---19 turnovers, 35% shooting. It's been a miserable season for John Beilein's club; where do they go from here? Fans have to wonder. For Tom Izzo's MSU team, they're now 25-8, they win a share of the Big Ten title, and have a chance again to compete in the NCAA tourney.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Even the mainstream media folks at NBC agree that this has been a rough week for Democrats:
"Simply put, this has been a rough week for Democrats. They now have a competitive Senate primary in Arkansas, which makes the party's chances of holding the Arkansas Senate seat look even less likely. Rep. Charlie Rangel had to step down as Ways and Means Committee chairman due to ethics problems. Rep. Eric Massa announced he was retiring, and no matter the reason, it gives Republicans an excellent pick-up opportunity in that Upstate New York district -- and also cements the "ethics problems hurting Democrats" storyline. And the capstone: Last night, we learned that Rep. William Delahunt is retiring, putting another Democratic House seat up for grabs (although Dems have a much better chance of holding on to that seat than Massa’s)."

The thinking still seems to be that passing health care makes everything better for Dems. But how does passing an unpopular bill make everything better?

This kind of silly move won't improve Democrats' fortunes:
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is catching heat for portraying Friday's labor report showing 36,000 jobs were lost in February as "really good" news. "Today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good," Reid said Friday on the Senate floor. Republicans drew attention to the remark, which was captured in a YouTube clip, while bloggers railed against the Nevada Democrat."

Imagine the uproar among Democrats and liberals if a Republican had suggested that a month in which thousands lost their jobs was a "really good" month.

And by the way, don't forget about this: in a recent Ipsos/McClatchy poll, which on the whole was kind to Democrats, the public's mood on the right track/wrong track numbers still wasn't good. Only 34% of those polled believed the country is on the right track. 60% see it as still on the wrong track. And that's after over a year now of President Obama. Surely he doesn't escape blame, then, in the peoples' mind, for the state of things. Something to remember as the 2010 elections draw nearer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

President Obama wants a quick up-or-down vote on the health care bill, but...:
"President Obama, beginning his final push for a health care overhaul, called Wednesday for Congress to allow an “up or down vote” on the measure, and sketched out an ambitious — and, some Democrats said, unrealistic — timetable for his party to pass a bill on its own within weeks."

And even some Dems are saying it's unrealistic because everything I'm reading suggests--right now they ain't got the votes to pass this thing. And very well won't have them by March 18th.

wow--Notre Dame 58, Connecticut 50: When Luke Harangody went down, it looked like curtains for this Notre Dame team. Too soft...too often weak defensively...consistently beaten on the boards and taken to the would this team now survive without Luke? But they have---by spreading the floor, driving the ball to the bucket, and playing defense. This team has found toughness that perhaps no one...and maybe even they themselves...thought they had. Key stats: Tory Jackson caps his final home game with 20 second half points. And Notre Dame battled UConn even in rebounding.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Racist incidents lead to calls for, you guessed it, more diversity:
"A firestorm over racially and ethnically charged incidents at several University of California campuses spread Tuesday as UC San Diego announced a KKK-style hood was found on campus and students in Los Angeles and Irvine demonstrated against intolerance. "What kind of campus promotes an environment that allows people to think it's acceptable to target people for their ethnicity, gender or sexuality?" said Corey Matthews, one of about 200 mostly minority UCLA students who held a lunchtime rally. "It's something about the tone of the environment that allows this."

Hmmm. Really? Look, no one is defending KKK activity or swastikas being carved in doors. But the thing is, any one or two crazies can carve a swastika. But that's the key--they're crazies. They're a tiny handful. They have no support. But they crave exactly the attention they're getting!! And we shouldn't be condemning entire campuses for the actions of a few crazies, we shouldn't act like there are no "diversity" programs when so many campuses focus so single-mindedly on it, and we shouldn't require students to take courses which have an ideological bent. Maybe those favoring "diversity" should talk more and take more action to secure INTELLECTUAL diversity on their campuses. That might just appeal to more students than they realize.

Beware of polling methodologies. In polling on the generic congressional ballot, Ipsos/McClatchy recently polled over 1000 adults---note, not registered voters, and certainly not likely voters; just adults. Such a poll finds Democrats leading Republicans by ten points, no less! But polls of likely voters, such as that done recently by Rasmussen, show Republicans leading by 8.
In the most recent elections, Rasmussen polls did awfully well in predicting the outcome. So Republicans are still in good shape.

Boston 105, Detroit 100: the Pistons have now lost 3 in a row. They are 21-39 on the season. Key stats: the Pistons actually out-rebounded Boston, 46-34. They competed. They hustled. But, Boston was 9 for 18 from 3-point land, while Detroit was just 3 for 20. The Pistons non-magic number for missing the playoffs is now 14. Any combination of 14 Miami victories/Pistons losses eliminates Detroit from the playoffs for the first time since 2000-2001. Rebuilding time...

Michigan 81, Minnesota 53: Michigan's final home game meant a nice send-off for its seniors. Michigan surprisingly shot 60% from the field; where has that been? The Wolverines remain just 14-15 on the season.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Dallas 89, Charlotte 84: the Mavericks have now won 8 games in a row. They're playing with a lot of confidence, and they're playing defense, and those are key. Again, there's no question that the additions of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood through The Trade have added both those things. Key stats from last night: Dallas trails by 12 in the 3rd quarter. But they hold Charlotte to 31 points in the second half, and Jason Terry scores 13 of his 20 points in the 4th.

But in sadder news, it was the UConn women 76, Notre Dame 51: UConn is just head and shoulders above everyone else, both offensively and defensively, and the Irish are no match for them. But then, no one is women's college hoops is, apparently. Everyone else is playing to be make it, at least, to the Final Four. And the Lady Irish still have a chance to do that, if they can put these losses behind them and focus. They battled in this game. But the 5 Irish starters at one point were 2 for 27 from the floor. UConn's defense is that good.
Can the Irish regroup, hope the NCAA tourney selection committee puts them in a different region than UConn, and still fight to achieve a trip to the Final Four? That's the question.

Health care reform--Thomas Sowell today nails one of the big problems with the supposed "reforms" out there:
"What is the biggest complaint about the current medical-care situation? “It costs too much.” Yet one looks in vain for anything in the pending legislation that will lower those costs. One of the biggest reasons for higher medical costs is that somebody else is paying those costs, whether an insurance company or the government. What is the politicians’ answer? To have more costs paid by insurance companies and the government. Back when the “single payer” was the patient, people were more selective in what they spent their money on. You went to a doctor when you had a broken leg but not necessarily every time you had the sniffles or a skin rash. But, when someone else is paying, that is when medical care gets overused — and bureaucratic rationing is then imposed, to replace self-rationing."

Bingo. I see no reason to believe that any of these reforms will stop people from seeking any and all tests, no matter how unnecessary, nor that medical professionals will cease providing them--as long as someone else is paying for it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday's musings

In Arkansas, where incumbent Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln has for months now obviously been in trouble when it comes to her chances of being re-elected, comes more news--she'll face a primary challenge:
"Add a primary challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln's growing list of political problems. Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter announced Monday morning that he's launching a Democratic primary challenge to Lincoln, who was already facing a tough re-election battle this year."

And make no mistake, this is a challenge from the left:
"Four progressive organizations, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America,, and Daily Kos, released an e-mail pledging to raise half a million dollars over the next week for Halter, who worked in President Bill Clinton's administration."

Some paint this as a surprise. I don't think so. Lincoln has moved to the right in order to try and survive in relatively-conservative Arkansas; liberal groups of course haven't been pleased. More importantly, as the linked article notes, Lincoln's been dive-bombing in the polls lately. Nearly every possible Republican candidate either leads or is tied with her. Liberal Democratic groups probably figured they have nothing to lose here; it's not like Lincoln provides Dems with the only hope of retaining the seat. A liberal candidate couldn't do any worse.

It might be a good thing for Republicans and conservatives if Halter wins the primary. Liberals have been saying for some time that conservative Democrats aren't their best candidates, that ordinary Americans would respond better to real, out-and-out, confrontational progressives who loudly back ObamaCare (for example)., we can test that proposition.

Michigan State 53, Purdue 44: an ugly win for the Spartans on the road. Purdue was without star Robbie Hummel, who's out for the season with a knee injury. But it was still an important win to get for MSU...just not a pretty one. Key stats: Michigan State had 23 turnovers; but defensively they hold Purdue to under 40% shooting.