Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Twins 11, Tigers 4: bad night for Tigers' starting and relief pitching (blame Armando Galarraga and Fu Te-Ni) and a good night for Minnesota's Denard Span, with 3 triples. And I still suspect that the Tigers had a letdown after the Joel Zumaya injury. They need to get back to it; they play this afternoon and still have a chance to win the series.
Angels 6, Rangers 5: tight ballgame in Anaheim; the Rangers almost pulled it out in a see-saw game. Keys: this time the Rangers bullpen gave up a key hit, a 3-run double to Bobby Abreu in the 6th; and the Rangers left 9 men on base, including several in crucial situations.

Some interesting poll numbers today:
In Kentucky, conservative Tea Partier Rand Paul continues to lead that race by a decent margin, 7 points, despite his controversial comments and all the hue and cry about them a few weeks ago. Yet at the same time, clearly the race has tightened. Paul, once the real campaigning begins in the fall, will need simply to reassure conservative Kentuckians that he's a solid candidate, and not off the wall. I suspect he'll be able to do that.
And in California, a Reuters/Ipsos poll has Democrat Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina by only 4 points. That's a very winnable race for the GOP, and it's significant that Boxer is consistently polling under 50%.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Tigers 7, Twins 5: it's a nice win, and more kudos to Miguel Cabrera and Brennan Boesch, who continue to carry the lion's share of the load when it comes to driving in runs for this team. The real news from this game, however, is the obviously serious injury to Joel Zumaya. He's almost surely lost for the season; you wonder how the Tigers will replace him. Apparently the Tiger clubhouse was silent as a tomb after last night's game, due to the worry about Zumaya. That's understandable. But injuries are a part of the game, this series with the Twins is important, and the Tigers need to pick it up and be ready to go tonight.

Polling watch:

Yep, little doubt about it--incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is in trouble in 2010. Leading an unknown Republican by 1 or 2 points at this point--it's a winnable race for the GOP.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday's musings

Tigers 10, Braves 4: yesterday was a good win, but overall it was a frustrating series over the weekend for Detroit in Atlanta, as on Friday and Saturday they lost two tight games--Saturday's game on an admittedly bad call by the home plate ump on what should have been ball 4 to Johnny Damon. But yesterday, the Tigers got a decent start from Justin Verlander, and another home run from impressive rookie Brennan Boesch, who now has 12 home runs. They trail the Twins by only half a game. And now they head to Minnesota. Can they find a way to beat this Twins team? The Tigers have always struggled with them. But here comes a new opportunity...
Rangers 10, Astros 1: the Rangers have now 13 of 14. They've won 8 consecutive series. What else can you say about Josh Hamilton--a 468-foot home run last night, and he's still hitting close to .500 in the month of June. Importantly, Tommie Hunter pitched a good game as well last night for Texas. Now they head to Anaheim for 3 games with the second-place Angels. Big series...

Mark Steyn over the weekend points out an interesting pattern concerning President Obama: what seems to make the president most unhappy is when folks claim he's not with it, not up to date and informed on issues and policy. Problem is, it seems like an accurate assessment:
"Barack Obama is a thin-skinned man and, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, White House aides indicated that what angered the president most about the Rolling Stone piece was “a McChrystal aide saying that McChrystal had thought that Obama was not engaged when they first met last year.” If finding Obama “not engaged” is now a firing offense, who among us is safe?...Only the other day, Sen. George Lemieux of Florida attempted to rouse the president to jump-start America’s overpaid, over-manned, and oversleeping federal bureaucracy and get it to do something on the oil debacle. There are 2,000 oil skimmers in the United States: Weeks after the spill, only 20 of them are off the coast of Florida. Seventeen friendly nations with great expertise in the field have offered their own skimmers; the Dutch volunteered their “super-skimmers”: Obama turned them all down. Raising the problem, Senator Lemieux found the president unengaged and uninformed. “He doesn’t seem to know the situation about foreign skimmers and domestic skimmers,” reported the senator....He doesn’t seem to know, and he doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t care. “It can seem that at the heart of Barack Obama’s foreign policy is no heart at all,” wrote Richard Cohen in the Washington Post last week. “For instance, it’s not clear that Obama is appalled by China’s appalling human rights record. He seems hardly stirred about continued repression in Russia. . . . The president seems to stand foursquare for nothing much."

And I think Mr. Obama has a hard time with all the criticism.
If Mr. Obama had had more of a sense of history, he wouldn't have been surprised by all of his critics. Every president faces them. Every president gets criticized. Even George Washington who, when his farewell address to the nation was published in the newspapers upon his decision to retire at the end of his 2nd term, faced all kinds of harsh words from opposition newspapers. One editorialist wrote that America had been "debauched" by Washington. Another roared "Would to God you had retired to a private station four years ago!"

Criticism comes with the job, Mr. Obama. Better get used to it. No one forced you into this gig, remember.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Tigers 6, Mets 5: the Tigers avoid a sweep. Starter Armando Galarraga pitches decently and gets the win (his first since his near-perfect game; he'd pitched well but had no-decisions in his previous 3 starts). Ryan Raburn homers; the Tigers need his hitting. The Twins lose again, so the Tigers only trail them in the AL Central by half a game. So not a bad night.
Rangers 6, Pirates 5: the Rangers have now won 11 straight games. Keys: Vlad Guerrero had the game-winning hit in the 9th; he's now batting .326 for this team. Who expected that, after his injury-plagued 2009? Another key: the Rangers' bullpen, which in 3 innings pitched last night allowed 2 hits and no runs. The Rangers rallied from a 5-1 deficit.

Polling news:

In Washington state, for Republicans, the race against Democratic incumbent Senator Patty Murray remains very, very winnable.

Meanwhile, in the Republican senatorial primary in Arizona, i see no signs that John McCain is in much trouble any longer.
He's rather obviously, and somewhat desperately, tacked to the right in recent months. But AZ Republicans don't seem to mind.

By the way, speaking, as we were yesterday, of President Obama's declining poll numbers: what's interesting is that we're starting to see, in the mainstream media, as an explanation of this, an argument very much like this one made by Chuck Todd et al in MSNBC's "First Thoughts" column:
"Our new NBC/WSJ poll is pretty brutal for President Obama. Picture Rocky Balboa after seven rounds -- bruised, bleeding, black eye. That's what Obama looks like in our poll. But Obama hasn't been knocked down or knocked out, yet he certainly looks wobbly. And to beat this analogy to death, a defender would argue that it appears he's taking on Apollo Creed (the economy), Clubber Lang (concerns about the deficit), and Ivan Drago (the oil spill) all at the same time. For the first time in our survey, Obama's approval rating is upside down (at 45%-48%); for the first time in his presidency, more than 60% believe the country is on the wrong track; and for the first time in his presidency, Obama's "very negative" score on the feeling thermometer nearly matches his "very positive" score. The White House has recently been fond of using the phrase "inflection point" to indicate a new chapter in terms of their handling of the oil spill. Well, this poll is potentially an inflection point in terms of public opinion on this president. After months of keeping his head about water, he's now been dragged down to be unpopular as the rest of Washington."

Yes, Todd and company rightly acknowledge Obama's troubles in the polls. But note the subtle reason he gives for the slide: that Obama (gasp!) is daring to take on the economy, the deficit, and the oil spill all at the same time. Poor man! Gosh, maybe the American people are asking too much of him. Maybe the presidency is too difficult of a job. Maybe one man can't be expected to solve everything.

It all sounds familiar to me. Why? Because we heard this same kind of thing--especially from Democrats and liberals across the punditry--back in the late 1970s when Jimmy Carter was president. He too faced all these problems. Gosh, how could he solve them all? How could he be expected too?, asked his defenders.

Here's the thing: we don't hear this kind of defense from these people when a conservative Republican is in office. No, sir. If there are problems and things aren't going right under a GOP president, why, it's because he's incompetent, he hates government, he doesn't know how to use government, he can't get things done, he's an incompetent, he's stupid, if only a Democrat was in charge, etc etc etc.

Suddenly claiming now that problems are too big for one man is a hypocritical falsehood. Don't let them get away with it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Mets 5, Tigers 0: the Tigers continue to struggle on the road. They fall meekly to the Mets in last night's affair, getting only 5 hits. It doesn't help that the Mets are hot, having won 21 of their last 28, and at home.
Meanwhile it was Rangers 13, Pirates 3: the Rangers are streaking; they're hot, everyone's hitting, they've won 10 in a row now, and they're playing the reeling Pirates at home. It all adds up to victories. The Rangers piled up 17 hits last night.

The McChrystal firing:

I can't really blame President Obama for doing it, given the near-insubordination McChrystal and aides professed, given how it must have soured the relationship between the prez and the general, given McChrystal's obvious level of discomfort with the administration (otherwise he would never have let the ROLLING STONE article go forward). But, as Thomas Sowell notes today, the truly important issue is our Afghanistan policy--and it has real holes in it:
"This is, after all, an administration that waited for months last year before acting on General McChrystal’s urgent request for 40,000 more troops, which he warned would be necessary to prevent the failure of the mission in Afghanistan. He got 30,000 eventually — and a public statement by President Obama about when he wants to start withdrawing American troops from that country. In no previous period of history has an American president announced a timetable for pulling out troops. They may have had a timetable in mind, but none of these presidents was irresponsible enough to tell the world — including our enemies — when our troops would be leaving. Such information encourages our enemies, who know that they need only wait us out before they can take over, whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere. At the same time, it undermines our allies, who know that relying on the United States is dangerous in the long run, and that they had better make the best deal they can get with our enemies."

Meanwhile, poll numbers don't look so good for President Obama these days, either. Check out the results from the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll:
"Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama's leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The survey also shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation's economy and environment. Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama's tenure. Amid anxiety over the nation's course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years."

In other polling news, polls still show the supposedly un-electable Sharron Angle leading Democratic leader Harry Reid in Nevada--by 7 points no less.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Gooaalllll! The USA soccer team scores in the 91st minute to defeat Algeria, 1-0 and advance to the next round.

The American team deserves a lot of credit. Algeria's defense was stout. But the Americans kept attacking, kept driving, kept probing. Finally it paid off. Again the US had a goal disallowed; again replays strongly suggested it was a bad call. But they didn't allow that to frustrate them and take them off their game.

And who says soccer isn't exciting? There was no scoring in this game until very late. Yet I for one found pulsating; partly of course because there was so much riding on it. Go USA...

Well, the Detroit Tigers had Justin Verlander pitching for them last night on the road at the NY Mets, so you'd think they'd have a good chance. Not so--on a rainy night Verlander didn't have his good stuff, exited the game early due to a long rain delay, and the Mets pounded the Tigers' bullpen in winning 14-6.
Tiger pitchers walked 7, hit 2 batters, etc etc. The Tigers have to play better on the road.

But it was also Rangers 6, Pirates 3: the Rangers have now won 9 games in a row. Starting pitcher Tommie Hunter gave Texas 6 solid innings pitched, striking out 6 and walking none. Josh Hamilton had two more hits, including a home run, and has 33 hits in his last 68 at bats.

So Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants to the United States, raised as a Sikh, a convert to Christianity, is the Republican nominee for governor of South Carolina.

Hmmm. Funny. According to various liberal acquaintances of mine, South Carolina Republicans are at the heart of where one will find racism, bigotry, and prejudice in this country. Yet they voted en masse for Haley. I think our liberal friends will have a hard time explaining that one.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

General McChrystal's dissent: I think Victor Davis Hanson has it about right here.

The general undoubtedly is right in various facets concerning Obama administration policy. But he should make those opinions known through private channels, not publicly; and not, especially, through ROLLING STONE.

As for the current state of the oil spill in the Gulf and the Obama administration, Ben Stein in the American Spectator makes a great point today:

"Mr. Obama has been using this terrible accident to blame and castigate the oil companies. Inasmuch as the big oil companies are literally the only people on the planet who have even a clue about how to deal with the crisis, shouldn't he act nice to them instead of humiliating them? If your house is on fire, you politely ask the neighbors for help. You don't yell at them and call them names. Why not ask them nicely to help and see what response you get? How can that possibly hurt?"

Answer: it wouldn't. But Mr. Obama's liberal base wouldn't like it, and that's probably what's decisive here.

Polling stuff:
In Arizona, right about when all the controversy over the Arizona immigration law blew up, incumbent AZ Governor Jan Brewer was deciding whether to sign the bill or not. At the time, polls on the upcoming Republican gubernatorial primary showed her in either a dead heat with her opponents, or perhaps barely ahead. Well, she signed it into law.

And now she leads her opponents in the polls for the gubernatorial nomination by over 40 points. Think the law remains popular in Arizona?

Meanwhile the Obama administration isn't having much luck with the American people concerning the economy and its policies, so sayeth the NY Times:
"The poll, which examines the public’s reaction to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, highlights some of the complex political challenges the Obama administration faces. For instance, despite intense news coverage and widespread public concern about the economic and ecological damage from the gulf disaster, most Americans remain far more concerned about jobs and the nation’s overall economy. And in that regard, President Obama does not fare well: 54 percent of the public say he does not have a clear plan for creating jobs, while only 34 percent say he does, an ominous sign heading into this fall’s midterm elections. Respondents were nearly evenly split on the president’s handling of the economy — 45 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove. His job approval rating remains just below 50 percent. And by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Americans think the country is on the wrong track."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday's musings

Tigers 3, Diamondbacks 1: the Tigers take 2 of 3 from Arizona, and finish an 8-1 home stand. Encouraging...but let's see how they do as the schedule gets tougher. Key stat from yesterday: Max Scherzer got the win, allowing just 1 run in 7 innings. Scherzer is now 3-2 with a 3.94 ERA in his last 5 starts. The Tigers need him to be a reliable starter...
And it was Rangers 5, Astros 4 (10 innings): the Rangers had a good weekend too, sweeping Houston and moving to 13 games over the .500 mark. One key to recent Rangers' success has been Josh Hamilton, who had 5 hits yesterday, plus a single to drive in the tying run in the 9th inning, and a single to score the winning run in the 10th.

So the Democrats gambled that passing ObamaCare, despite its unpopularity with the voters at the time, would in the end benefit them. That gamble appears to have failed:
"The Democrats made a strategic choice to pass health reform even though they knew it did not have majority support. They assumed passage would generate a positive initial response from the media—which it did. They also hoped that, with time, voters would see reform in a more favorable light, and that health care would not pose an issue in the midterm elections. Were the Democrats right? If our polling is correct, they were not. In January, we asked voters in 11 states that could have competitive Senate races in November—Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania—how they felt about health reform and how they were likely to vote. The polls were conducted by YouGov using a panel of Internet users selected to represent registered voters in each state. We found widespread opposition to reform—and to the Democratic senators who voted in favor of it. Last month, we went back to the same voters and asked the same questions. We found that public opinion about health reform is roughly stable, and opposition to reform appears to be an important determinant of voting intention in the midterm elections—particularly for political independents."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Tigers 8, Nationals 3: the Tigers have now won 6 straight. Perhaps they're beginning to hit; one key stat from yesterday's game was that Detroit pounded out 19 hits. Another key stat: Jeremy Bonderman pitched well, and perhaps shows signs of becoming a reliable starting pitcher again. The Tigers need him.
Rangers 6, Marlins 4: the Rangers have now won 5 straight. And the win yesterday completed a 3-game sweep on the road. Their pitching has been decent. But don't overlook the impact Vlad Guerrero has had on this Ranger team. The Angels (understandably) thought him done after last season, what with all his injuries. But the Rangers took a flyer on him. And he's hitting well over .300, with 15 home runs (including one last night) and nearly 60 RBIs.

So NFL Commish Roger Goodell and others are talking about, soon, instituting an 18-game regular season and doing away with 2 pre-season games. I say hallelujah--more good football, fewer meaningless exhibition games in which starters hardly play. But apparently many NFL players don't see it the same way:
"The Ravens' Lewis criticized the plan, telling the NFLPA website that players "are not machines" -- a sentiment that was echoed a day later in the Giants' locker room. The overwhelming concern there was injuries, with players fearful that a longer season means more injuries and shorter careers. You can see why: Coaches who can afford to coast the last week of the regular season don't rest starters because they want to look at their backups; they rest them for fear of injuries that could impair their playoff chances, and Wes Welker, please step forward."

But look, guys--1] players get injured in pre-season games, too. 2] So the chance of injury is there every day, all the time--even in practice. Yes, there's a chance you could get injured. But remember you get well-compensated for what you do. 3]Look, the pre-season just isn't working. The "games" are boring. They're not effectively getting teams ready to start the regular season. One NY Giants player in the linked piece above argues that younger players need the pre-season to try and impress the coaches and make the team. But surely practices and off-season OTAs can help with that, and can help players get ready for a long season.

I think some of the players' concerns should be addressed. But I have no doubt that two extra regular season NFL games, along with doing away with two exhibitions, would be a huge hit with fans; and what they want should be part of this, too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Tigers 8, Nationals 3: the Tigers have won 5 straight now, and appear to be playing better. We'll know more when the competition gets tougher. Key stats from last night: Justin Verlander did what an ace should do, striking out 11 and winning his 8th game. Tigers rookie Brennan Boesch had a 3-run homer last night; he's now hitting .344.
Rangers 6, Marlins 3: the Rangers have now won 11 of their past 15. Keys to last night: Michael Young became the all-time leader among past and present Rangers in hits; he now has 1748 for his career, and passed Pudge Rodriguez. Typically for him, the record-breaker came on a two-run single in the 8th to break open a close game; another clutch hit. I wonder if fans around the country know how good this guy really is. Also key for the Rangers last night was their bullpen, as both Darren O'Day and Neftali Feliz pitched innings of hitless relief.

Obama, the spill, and the polls:
"Six in ten Americans disapprove of how President Barack Obama's handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a jump from last month, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that vast majority of the public disapproves of how BP has handled the environmental disaster and two-thirds say making a profit rather than cleaning up the spill is oil giant's top priority. Fifty-nine percent of people questioned say they disapprove of how the president is dealing with the spill, up eight points from May. Forty-one percent say they approve of how Obama's handling the crisis, down five points from last month."

The president's problem is that, while he wants the public to blame BP, and not him. But the public blames both of them.

Meanwhile the dean of Washington pundits/observers, the Washington Post's David Broder, weighs in on all this today, and he too doesn't spare President Obama one bit:
"If there is any value in President Obama's knocking himself out to dramatize on prime-time television his impotence in the face of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak calamity, I wish someone would explain it. His multiple inspection trips to the afflicted and threatened states, his Oval Office TV address to the nation, and now his sit-down with the executives of BP have certainly established his personal connection with one of the worst environmental disasters in history. But the only thing people want to hear from him is word that the problem is on its way to being solved -- and this message he cannot deliver. The polls so far suggest that voters have a sensible and realistic perspective on all this and are not punishing Obama for failing to anticipate the drilling platform accident and not having a handy tool kit for its repair. To date, his approval numbers have barely moved. But by dramatizing his belief that the struggle in the gulf has become his main preoccupation, Obama has essentially ignored challenges that may be much more vital to the country -- and to him."

Indeed. This reminds me of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage crisis, in 1979 and 1980. Carter made the crisis the focal point of his presidency. But his inability to solve it, while claiming it was his responsibility to do so, sunk him. Could the same kind of thing happen to the Obama presidency?

Poll watch:
I said recently that Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, despite her victory in the runoff last week and becoming the Democratic nominee for the senate after all, was still toast. And she is--a poll shows her trailing Republican John Boozman by no less than 29 points.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Tigers 7, Nationals 4: so the Tigers have won 4 in a row. But, well, they've come vs Pittsburgh and Washington. Still, you have to start somewhere. Key stats: Max Scherzer pitched, not great, but decently...striking out 9. Ryan Raburn had 2 hits and batted in 4. Detroit needs to keep this streak going.
Rangers 3, Marlins 2: the Rangers pulled off a big win with 2 runs in the 9th off of Florida's closer, thanks to a pinch-hit triple by Matt Treanor (an unexpected hero). But the key to the game was C.J. Wilson's excellent start, giving up only 2 runs in 7 innings, and the bullpen then closing it down. A different guy doing it every night for Texas...a positive sign.

Well, the reviews are in on President Obama's Oval Office address last night concerning the oil spill, and what's interesting is that pretty much across the board--from conservatives, centrists, and liberals--the reviews are big-time negative. Maureen Dowd of the NY Times, who wants so badly to love Obama with all her heart, has a typical response:
"You know the president is drowning — in oil this time — when he uses the Oval Office. And do words really matter when the picture of oil gushing out of the well continues to fill the screen?...The president acknowledged that the problems at the Minerals Management Service were deeper than he had known and “the pace of reform was just too slow.” He admitted that “there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.” He appointed a “son of the gulf” spill czar and a new guard dog at M.M.S. and tried to restore a sense of confident leadership — “The one approach I will not accept is inaction” — and compassion, reporting on the shrimpers and fishermen and their “wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.” He acted as if he was the boss of BP on the issue of compensation. And he called on us to pray....Robert Gibbs on Tuesday continued the White House effort to emote, saying on TV: “It makes your blood boil.” But he misses the point. Nobody needs to see the president yelling or pounding the table. Ronald Reagan could convey command with a smile; Clint Eastwood, with a whisper. Americans need to know the president cares so they can be sure he’s taking fast, muscular and proficient action....[Obama is] too hesitant to take the obvious action. He seems unable to muster the adrenalin necessary to go full bore until the crowd has waited and wailed and almost given up on him, but it’s a nerve-racking way to campaign and govern."

Not enough specifics. Not enough command. This speech certainly failed with most in the media; it's hard to see it succeeding with the American public.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

President Obama and the oil spill:
I think today that Thomas Sowell nails it concerning the biggest problem with the Obama administration's handling of this crisis:
"Either the government knows how to stop the oil spill or it doesn’t. If they know how to stop it, then why have they let thousands of barrels of oil per day keep gushing out, for weeks on end? All they have to do is tell BP to step aside, while the government comes in to do it right. If they don’t know, then what is all this political grandstanding about keeping their boot on the neck of BP, the attorney general of the United States going down to the Gulf to threaten lawsuits — on what charges was unspecified — and President Obama showing up in his shirt sleeves?
Just what is Obama going to do in his shirt sleeves, except impress the gullible? He might as well have shown up in a tuxedo with white tie, for all the difference it makes....This government is not about governing. It is about creating an impression. That worked on the campaign trail in 2008, but it is a disaster in the White House, where rhetoric is no substitute for reality. If the Obama administration were for real, and trying to help get the oil spill contained as soon as possible, the last thing its attorney general would be doing is threatening a lawsuit. A lawsuit is not going to stop the oil, and creating a distraction can only make people at BP start directing their attention toward covering themselves, instead of covering the oil well. If and when the attorney general discovers that BP did something illegal, that will be time enough to start a lawsuit. But making a public announcement at this time accomplishes absolutely nothing substantive. It is just more political grandstanding....This is not about oil. This is about snake oil."

Bingo. You know, I knew when the Obama administration came into office that I and many other conservatives would disagree with it on many issues. But I really didn't think Obama would sink to the level of the Clinton administration and it's endless spinning, it's endless obsession with polls and its political standing, its grabbing on to issues not for their intrinsic merit but for the political benefits they could offer, the Clintons' willingness to do anything, say anything, lie about anything, solely (again) for political benefit.

I used to call Bill Clinton just that--a snake oil salesman, a carnival barker, a guy willing to do pretty much anything to advance himself. I thought Obama might be a bit above that. I might be wrong. I don't think Obama has quite sunk to Clintonian levels yet. But he keeps getting closer.

Some polling news:
Some interesting 2010 generic ballot numbers out today. Both Gallup and Rasmussen have Republicans out to a solid lead on the generic ballot--Gallup by 5, Rasmussen by a rather astounding 10 points.
Of course, this comes after this past weekend when polls both by FOX and PPP had Democrats with a slight lead on the generic ballot.

We'll have to see how the polling continues to go in coming days, but Gallup has consistently shown Republicans inching up in their poll, and Rasmussen has consistently shown the GOP with a solid lead.

By the way, concerning senate races, Republican David Vitter is running for re-election this year in Louisiana. He's the man who had a rather bad personal scandal not long ago, and you sure don't hear too many folks speaking highly of him. And yet, and a poll out today, he had a 20 point lead over his opponent.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday's musings

Tigers 4, Pirates 3: the Tigers had a good weekend; they swept the Pirates, and yesterday's win was a comeback effort, as Miguel Cabrera hit a 3-run homer in the 8th to overcome a Pirate lead. Cabrera is having an astonishing year; he already has 56 RBIs, and we're not close to the halfway mark of the season yet. Meanwhile Detroit was fortunate to play the Pirates; they've lost a bunch of games in a row, and are averaging only 2.5 runs during that stretch.
Rangers 7, Brewers 2: good weekend for the Rangers; they took two of three. Yesterday's key players: first, Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who has come back from Japan and given Texas a number of quality starts. Yesterday he allowed just 2 runs and struck out 10. And the other star was Josh Hamilton, who now has 15 home runs for Texas.

Wow--so President Obama will now make an Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil spill?
Sounds to me like a rather desperate act from someone who knows he's in trouble on an issue.

Meanwhile, remember ObamaCare? Kathleen Sebelius, the head of the Health and Human Services Agency, now has the power to write new regulations, and she's doing it--and writing regs that show the bill's critics were right:
" She's starting off by applying new regs to health plans offered by large employers -- even though these costly rules were supposedly only going to apply to plans sold in the state insurance "exchanges" that don't get created until 2014. This twist is spelled out in an 83-page draft of a new regulation that leaked late last week.
Bottom line: Sebelius means to dictate what your insurance plan must look like almost from day one, no matter how you get your coverage. Indeed, the draft regs envision more than half of all policies having to change within three years -- an unmistakable break with President's Obama's oft-repeated promise, "If people like their insurance, they will be able to keep it."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

So in college football, the first domino has fallen--Colorado will join the Pac-10.

This is only the beginning--look for the Big 10 and the Pac 10 to massively expand and become super-conferences, and for the Big 12 to soon be no more. Much of this might be apparent in as short a time period as a week or two.

Rangers 12, Mariners 2: a good night for the Rangers. Starter C.J. Wilson pitched 7 strong innings, allowing only 4 hits. The Rangers offensively piled up 15 hits. Key stat: Josh Hamilton is now 15 for his last 35.
But not so good for the Tigers, as they lose 15-3 to the White Sox. The team remains inconsistent; and so does starter Rick Porcello, who got pounded. This is one of the problems with young players. Porcello had a good rookie season last year. So, naturally, all of us fans just assumed he'd improve even further in season 2. News flash: young players don't always automatically improve. They're young, they're immature, and sometimes they struggle. But the Tigers need Porcello if they're to be an impact team this year.

The year of the conservative woman:
In California, Carly Fiorina will be running for the U.S. Senate against the Democrat Barbara Boxer. Conservatives will disagree with Fiorina on some social issues. So should they support her? Larry Kudlow today makes a powerful case to say YES:
"Fiorina wants spending controls and limited government. She opposed the $860 billion stimulus as well as Obamacare. She is a smart, fiscally conservative woman who has campaigned on lower income-tax rates, a reduced capital-gains tax, and the elimination of the estate tax. And she can be expected to push for a lower business-tax rate for large and small companies."

Note further that Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post today writes a column that surely reflects the views of many Democrats and media types--that Fiorina is too far to the right in her positions to win in California. Well, we shall see, won't we...Boxer's poll numbers haven't looked especially strong over the past few months.

Meanwhile, those same Democrats and media types have rushed to the consensus that in Nevada, Republican/Tea Partier Sharron Angle has no shot whatsoever to beat Harry Reid. Really? A Rasmussen poll begs to disagree, showing Angle with an 11-point lead.
Would I like to see other polls reflect a similar lead? Yes. Do I discount Rasmussen? No--its polls showed a lot of accuracy in 2009.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Rangers 7, Mariners 1: a nice bounce-back win for the Rangers. Key stat: Ranger starter Colby Lewis throws 119 pitches. But allows only 1 run and gives the Rangers over 7 good innings of work.
Tigers 7, White Sox 2: no perfect game for Armando Galarraga. But he pitches decently, gives the Tigers a chance to win, and they do so...thanks to a 6-run 7th inning and a big home run from rookie phenom Brennan Boesch.

So Blanche Lincoln surprises both me and others, and survives her runoff election vs Bill Halter in Arkansas last night. Hey, I was wrong; tip your hat to her.

But I remain convinced she's toast come November.

So far the most incisive comment I've seen concerning last night's vote is this one, from Ralph Reed:
"What began as a tea-party surge now has an interesting wrinkle: this just might be the year of the conservative woman. Nikki Haley won nearly 50 percent of the vote in a crowded field in South Carolina, in spite of an eleventh-hour flurry of personal attacks. She had been endorsed by Jenny Sanford and Sarah Palin, among others. While that race may go to a run-off, Haley is the likely GOP nominee and will probably win in November. Ditto Sharron Angle, the tea-party-backed candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada. The lamestream media is parroting the Democratic spin that these results bode well for Harry Reid — don’t believe it. Reid’s reelect is in the low 40’s, and polling has shown him losing to Angle. It shows how truly weak and desperate the Democrats are as they head into the fall: He’s the Senate majority leader, and he has to pray for an allegedly weak GOP nominee, hoping to “win dirty” in his own home state! The victories of Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman in California also show the appeal of a conservative woman at the polls. Though Whitman is far more socially liberal than Fiorina, she won on the conservative themes of reigning in government spending and creating jobs by lowering taxes."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

The Tigers had the day off. Elsewhere, it was Mariners 4, Rangers 2: a very blah game. Maybe Mariner starter Cliff Lee had the most to do with that; he shut the Rangers down on only 7 hits over 9 innings. 84 of his 107 pitches were strikes.

President Obama desperately tries to sound and look angry concerning the oil spill:
"Is President Obama bowing to criticism that he hasn't shown enough emotion and outrage about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? In an interview with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer on Tuesday morning, the president offered his bluntest response yet about the disaster, telling Lauer he's been talking to experts about "whose ass to kick" when it comes to responsibility for the mess. "I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be," Obama said, defending his administration's handling of the spill. "And I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar; we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

My opinion? Obama sounds reactive, he sounds contrived, he sounds like someone who's been reading administration polls that say he should show more emotion and anger, so he's going to throw some angry words around and hope it boosts his poll numbers. I don't think the American people will find it very real, or convincing.

Meanwhile it's another 2010 elections primary day.
My big prediction: incumbent Dem Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas to be upset today by challenger Bill Halter in the senatorial runoff there...

So how can one hold President Obama, and the Obama administration, at fault for the oil spill in the Gulf? Ah, excellent question--and today Byron York provides an answer:
"The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is gushing out of control. The Obama administration is at first slow to see the seriousness of the accident. Then, as the crisis becomes clear, the federal bureaucracy becomes entangled in itself trying to deal with the problem. "At least a dozen federal agencies have taken part in the spill response," the New York Times reports, "making decision-making slow, conflicted and confused, as they sought to apply numerous federal statutes."
For example, it took the Department of Homeland Security more than a week to classify the spill as an event calling for the highest level of federal action. And when state officials in Louisiana tried over and over to win federal permission to build sand barriers to protect fragile coastal wetlands from the oil, they got nowhere. "For three weeks, as the giant slick crept closer to shore," the Times reports, "officials from the White House, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environmental Protection Agency debated the best approach." The bureaucracy wasn't bending to anyone's will. The direction from the top was not clear. And accountability? So far, the only head that has rolled during the Gulf crisis has been that of Minerals Management Service chief Elizabeth Birnbaum. But during a May 27 news conference, Obama admitted he didn't even know whether she had resigned or been fired. "I found out about it this morning, so I don't yet know the circumstances," the president said. "And [Interior Secretary] Ken Salazar's been in testimony on the Hill." Obama's answer revealed that he hadn't fired Birnbaum, and he couldn't reach a member of his Cabinet who was a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday's musings

So in the NBA Finals, it's now tied at 1 game apiece, as the Celtics last night stole one in LA, beating the Lakers 103-94.

A couple of things strike me. Everyone's talking about Ray Allen's 3-point barrage last night, and well they should. But what really helps the Celtics is their penetration into the lane, inside, and their passing, often leading to easy layups. Rajon Rondo is a big factor there; but Kevin Garnett and other Celtics also seem to excel at it. I don't know of any team in the NBA that's better at it. And do you wonder if Kobe Bryant remains a bit overconfident? The ESPN story linked to above has him yawning after the game that, well, it's a long series and you can't get too high or too low. True...but he sounds a little blase. Overconfidence can bite anyone when all is said and done--even Kobe. We'll see...

Royals 7, Tigers 2: the Tigers continue to struggle offensively, especially against the Royals' Brian Bannister. Only 6 hits yesterday; they lost 2 of 3 over the weekend. Something's missing...
Rays 9, Rangers 5: the Rangers actually had a good weekend, taking 2 of 3 from the league-leading Tampa Bay Rays. But yesterday, not so good...again, too many pitches from starter Rich Harden, along with too many baserunners and runs. Again he goes only 5 innings. The Rangers battled hard, and kept it a game...and give the Rays some credit, this is a solid club, with speed, hitting, and defense. Hopefully the Rangers can make some hay now this week at home against the Mariners.

Yes, indeed, this is no accident:
"If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts. It was no scheduling accident. With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects."

And that's what a party in trouble with the voters does.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday's fish fry

So the Obama administration is going to tout this month's jobs/economy report as good news, but don't buy it:
"All but 20,000 of the 431,000 jobs added were temporary hires for the U.S. Census, and the dip in unemployment rate is the result of the continued exodus of Americans from the ranks of the job-seeking to the merely jobless — 322,000 in May. By contrast, employment decreased by 35,000 to 139.4 million, and the labor participation rate decreased from 65.2 to 65 percent. By another measure, 16.6 percent of Americans remain either unemployed or underemployed."

Let's hope the rest of the news media reports this, too.

Polling news:
It looks increasingly that, in Arkansas, in the Democratic senatorial runoff election between incumbent Blanche Lincoln and challenger Bill Halter, the incumbent (Lincoln) is going down.

Here will be yet another example--Pennsylvania is too, with Joe Sestak as the nominee--of a situation where liberal Democrats won't be able to claim that their candidate lost because he was too stand-pat, or too conservative, didn't support ObamaCare, etc. The election will offer a real choice in Arkansas. I can't wait to see what happens.

In other pieces of good news for conservatives, in Indiana Dan Coats still looks to be in good shape for the senate seat there.

In Pennsylvania, Rasmussen now has Toomey out to a 7 point lead over Sestak.

Tigers 12, Indians 6: time to turn the page from the ump/Galarraga situation...and it's good the Tigers did so. More big hits from Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, who are both having big years. And cheers to the Tigers fans for treating umpire Jim Joyce with respect yesterday...
But it was White Sox 4, Rangers 3: the Rangers didn't play horribly here; the White Sox got some good pitching, getting the Rangers 3-4-5 hitters to go 0 for 12, and although Colby Lewis pitched decently, a couple of home-run balls beat him.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

THE LATEST MIDDLE EAST CRISIS: can tell Israel's opponents in this don't have much to say; they're now yammering on about process, not content:
"Israel's military is using video confiscated from people on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla to justify opening fire during its deadly raid on the ships, drawing sharp criticism Thursday from foreign correspondents who say some of the footage was shot by journalists."

So they can't say much about the content of the videos (save to complain Israel is supposedly being "selective" in its use of it), because it appears to back up Israel's case. So instead, they want to argue about how Israel got them. That's usually a sign of folks who don't have much to go on...

So, gosh, another ho-hum game last night in Detroit between the Tigers and Indians, which at least Detroit won 3-0, right? Well...wrong; as all know by now, it was a perfect game, but it wasn't.
I don't know what can be said about this. On the one hand, my inclination earlier today was to say...well, that's baseball. What makes baseball unique is the human element in it; that it relies on umpires, who generally are very good at what they do and get most calls right. But once in a while they blow one, and inevitably that's going to happen in a big situation. But that's always been baseball. That can happen, it's always been part of it, and baseball fans have (sometimes reluctantly) accepted it. But on the other this particular instance, replays show that the runner was out at first on that last play. Gallarraga caught the ball cleanly, and got to the bag before the runner. That made 3 outs. It would have been a perfect game, save for that call. The replay is conclusive. So you know what?

Commissioner Bud Selig today should reverse that call, and award Armando Gallarraga a perfect game. It would simply make official what we all know to be true.

Meanwhile...the Texas Rangers won last night too, beating the White Sox 9-5. Keys: Scott Feldman pitched decently, getting lots of ground ball outs. The Rangers need him. And it looks like Ranger bats are coming alive, as both Josh Hamilton and Michael Young are hitting well, and the bottom of the batting order is hitting better (see for example Matt Treanor).

So once again the Obama Team proves what we've said here over and over again: President Obama and his advisers are not nearly as smart as many Democrats and those in the news media claimed:
"...a series of recent missteps just keeps getting worse for Barack Obama’s political operation, already under fire from inside the party for losing its golden touch. The second-guessing of the White House political shop — which is coming in part from top House Democrats — was sparked anew late Wednesday by news that the White House tried and failed to coax another Democratic Senate candidate out of making his race by dangling administration jobs in front of him. In a possible repeat of the Joe Sestak episode in Pennsylvania, insurgent U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff of Colorado said deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina reached out to him — with a wince-inducing e-mail that is now public — with three possible jobs in September 2009. Obama wanted to keep him out of a race against Sen. Michael Bennet, the White House’s favored candidate. Taken together, the Sestak and Romanoff cases suggest a White House team that is one part Dick Daley, one part Barney Fife. They undercut Obama’s reputation on two fronts. Trying to put the fix in to deny Democratic voters the chance to choose for themselves who their Senate nominees should be is hardly consistent with the idea of “Yes, we can” grass-roots empowerment that is central to Obama’s brand. And bungling that fix is at odds with the Obama team’s image — built around the likes of Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Obama himself — as shrewd political operatives who know the game and always win it."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Yecch...Indians 3, Tigers 2: Detroit just isn't hitting. They managed only 6 hits against a pitching staff with the worst ERA in the league. Only bright spot? Jeremy Bonderman, who's allowed only 7 earned runs in his last 6 starts.
But...Rangers 9, White Sox 6: the most important stats here were that the Rangers broke a 4 game losing streak, and scored 9 runs. They too have struggled to score. Also important was that Justin Smoak, who's been hitting about .160, had a home run and a single.

Well,'s got to be significant that the NY Times' Maureen Dowd appears to be, when it comes to President Obama, in complete abandonment mode:
"It’s not a good narrative arc: The man who walked on water is now ensnared by a crisis under water...With as much as 34 million gallons of oil inking the Gulf of Mexico, “Yes we can” has been downgraded to “Will we ever?”...Obama wanted to be a transformative president and now the presidency is transforming him. Instead of buoyant, he seems put upon. Instead of the fairy dust of hopefulness, there’s the bitter draught of helplessness."

Polling news:
Despite the recent blizzard of attacks on him in the news media, in Kentucky Tea Partier/Republican Rand Paul appears to still maintain a lead in his senate race.

Meanwhile, right now both Gallup AND Rasmussen have Republicans with a decent lead in the 2010 generic congressional ballot. Fallout against the Democrats from the oil spill and other issues, perhaps?

A random thought:
Concerning the Super Bowl being held in New York/New Jersey in 2014---so if New York so wanted a Super Bowl, and the NFL so wanted to give it to them, why didn't the area build a domed stadium??? That's what the Detroit area did when they wanted the big game...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

A's 4, Tigers 1: Detroit lost 3 of 4 over the weekend to Oakland, and has now lost 7 of their last 9. Largely the reason is that the Tigers aren't hitting. We worried about their offense and their potential lack of offensive production before the season, and maybe those worries were justified.
Meanwhile many thought Oakland would quickly fade; they haven't, have won 5 of 7 on their current road trip, and are back in first place. Is this team for real?

So once again today Israel is being falsely accused and attacked by the usual suspects, for its supposed horrible assault against a "humanitarian" flotilla. Really? Here's some facts you may not have heard:
"Don’t members of the press ever resent being so used?
Fact: Israel imposed a blockade of Gaza to prevent weapons from reaching the radical Islamic regime there that continues to make war on Israeli civilians. Egypt too has blockaded the strip, hoping to choke off weapons to Hamas, which it views as a threat.
Fact: Humanitarian relief is delivered to Gaza from Israel on a daily basis. During the first three months of this year, 94,500 tons of supplies were transferred to Gaza from Israel, including 48,000 tons of food products; 40,000 tons of wheat; 2,760 tons of rice; 1,987 tons of clothes and footwear; and 553 tons of milk powder and baby food for the strip’s 1.5 million inhabitants. Representatives of international aid groups and the United Nations move freely to and from the Gaza Strip.
Fact: Upon learning of the intentions of the Gaza flotilla, the Israeli government asked the organizers to deliver their humanitarian aid first to an Israeli port where it would be inspected (for weapons) before being forwarded to Gaza. The organizers refused. “There are two possible happy endings,” a Muslim activist on board explained, “either we will reach Gaza or we will achieve martyrdom.”
Fact: The flotilla ignored multiple instructions from Israeli navy ships to change course and follow them to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Fact: On board one of the ships, according to al-Jazeera, the “humanitarian” Palestinians sang “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return” — a reference to the 628 massacre of Jews in Arabia at the hands of Muhammad.
Fact: The flotilla’s participants included the IHH, a “humanitarian relief fund” based in Turkey that has close ties to Hamas and to global jihadi groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere, and which has also organized relief to anti-U.S. Islamic radicals in Fallujah, Iraq. A French intelligence report suggests that IHH has provided documents to terrorists, permitting them to pose as relief workers. Among the other cheerleaders — former British MP and Saddam Hussein pal George Galloway, all-purpose America and Israel hater Noam Chomsky, and John Ging, head of UNRWA, the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian support."

Read the whole thing. And hurray for Mona Charen and others for trying, at least, to set people straight.