Friday, November 09, 2012

Oops, we did it again - Obama '12

Silly season is finally over, and the lead clown is back inside the Big Top for four more years.

Excuse me while I spit the "bitter" out of my mouth.

In all sincerity, it sucks to lose. And I didn't even work on a campaign this year. As empty as my gut felt during the final, futile returns on Nov. 6, 2012, I found myself wondering what it must feel like for people who actively work on a campaign - who live and breathe these things for six, eight, 12 months or more - only to come up short. No matter what party they call home, I tip my hat to them. They cared enough to put themselves out there, and that's a step beyond what I did.

Having said that, I was shocked not that President Obama will remain President Obama but that he earned that repeat so handily. At this time, he led Mitt Romney 303-206 in electoral votes, with Florida still too close to call.

In a season when Obama's highlights became his lowlights and his lowlights still weren't enough to move people beyond him, many of us were left scratching our heads:

'You didn't build that ...' (link)

On July 13, 2012, in Roanoke, Va., Obama gave a speech in which he detailed why business owners should not take full credit for the success of their enterprises. "You didn't get their on your own," he said. He stated that a teacher or someone along the line gave that person some help; that they moved their goods on roads and railways built by others.

What Obama neglected was that those same business owners may have sat in an overcrowded classroom with 20-30 other students. And they shared the roadways with hundreds - likely thousands - of other motorists every day. Yet THEY were the ones who took the initiative to double-mortgage their homes, to cash in their savings and retirement funds, to lie awake at night staring at the ceiling wondering if they really can realize their dream ... or if they've just made a gargantuan mistake.
Because the auto industry might earn itself the mulligan of a bailout; the small-business owner won't.

The contempt that emanated from that comment was breathtaking, and disheartening. To hear the president of the United States nut-kick everyone who's ever founded a business in this country, rather than celebrate their ingenuity, their creativity and opportunism, and quite simply their guts, was disgraceful.
If he wanted to make a case for Small Business Administration loans, he could have. But he didn't. He instead revealed himself to be contemptuous of those who've lived the "bootstraps" mantra so often espoused by the right.
Now we know why that only came from one side of the aisle.


Benghazi
On Sept. 11, 2012, the American embassy in Banghazi, Libya, was attacked. Four Americans died, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. For about two weeks afterward, Obama advanced the idea that the attacks resulted from a protest about a YouTube movie produced in America that insulted Islam.

He tried to rewrite his own history in his second debate with Romney, on Oct. 16, when he insisted that he indeed referred to Benghazi as a "terrorist attack." Moderator Candy Crowley of CNN supported him on this (which is unfathomable for a moderator to inject him/herself into a debate in such a manner, though to be fair, she did backpedal almost immediately).

The truth is, he lumped the Benghazi attack in with other attacks and ambiguously referenced "terror attacks." It gave him enough wiggle room to be able to say he did not in fact call THAT attack one of "terrorism."

Why he would go to such extraordinary lengths to mask over an organized terror attack is beyond me. Right-wing radio asserted it was because he didn't want it to disrupt his narrative of having vanquished terrorism by ordering the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011. That seems too simple for me. I don't think any reasonable person could assume that the willing mindset of terrorism could disappear forever.

In late October, the CIA leaked e-mails that indicated the White House knew within hours of the attack that it was organized. The CIA also indicated that numerous pleas by Stevens and the consulate for more security were ignored.
On the night of the attack, who did we send in; Marines? SEALs? Rangers? Nope; an UNARMED drone. ... Hope they got some nice pictures.

Unemployment
Obama promised us that his Keynesian (as opposed to Kenyan ... ZING!) "stimulus" bill would help bring the unemployment rate below 8%. Oh, it cracked 8% all right; checking in at a robust 7.8% for September.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch even questioned the numbers, as some of the vital internals did not measure up to a decline of ANY kind. And in fact, the number of "real" unemployed - those who are unemployed but no longer reporting for purposes of Unemployment Insurance because they've simply given up looking for work - held steady at more than 14%.

Unemployment among African-Americans was in the teens as well; for women, it was a little above the national average for all women and more than 12% among younger women. (WHO's waging the so-called "War on Women"?)

Rubber-gate
The Obama administration mandated that religious employers provide contraception for their female employees regardless if it was consistent with that institution's religious beliefs. Catholics, who have long opposed birth control, understandably balked.

But Sandra Fluke went before a Congressional committee to testify about female friends of hers who needed The Pill for medical purposes.
So now what was a Catholic institution to do? Providing The Pill for menstrual regulation likely wouldn't violate any church tenets, but how would they know that it wasn't being used for contraception? Less sinful to simply not provide it at all, one would assume.

Obama demonstrated a brazen disregard for the First Amendment rights of a religious institution to adhere to its beliefs. Not to mention that The Pill is quite inexpensive and wouldn't have to propose a challenge at all if a woman wanted to visit her local Walgreen's.

Obamacare
... I don't even know where to start with this imminently insolvent boondoggle.
This thing was invidious from the outset, and I question whether it's actually rooted in "good" intentions. It mandates that employers of 50 or more provide health insurance for their employees; if Obamacare was NOT intended to eliminate private insurance, then the penalty for failure to provide a plan for employees would not be LESS than the cost of providing health care for employees, it would be MORE (thus providing an incentive to keep/move people into the private sector).
Plus, Obamacare does NOTHING to achieve its purported goal of reducing healthcare costs. In fact, it will raise them. Consider:

The simplest of economic principles is the Law of Supply and Demand. Draw and X on an X-Y graph and label one "Supply" and the other "Demand." As you slide either line one way or the other, the point at which they intersect is the price.

So if you add 30 million people to the "demand" pool of people seeking health care, and you add nothing to the "supply" pool (meaning you don't add a proportional number of doctors), guess what's going to happen to prices.

And if anything, numbers of doctors may decline. A unique circumstance called Medical Morale is a serious issue in the medical industry, where about 60% of physicians can expect to be sued at some point in their careers. (!?) Find me another industry where practitioners can expect that, and I'll show you an exodus of people to a safer line of work.

I probably could go on; these were just issues off the top of my head.

Nonetheless, about 60 million Americans spoke at the ballot box and said they thought he needed four more years. He earned 9 million fewer votes than in 2008, and interestingly, Romney garnered about 2 million fewer than did John McCain in 2008. I'd be lying if I said that such a robust turnout for the other guy isn't going to make me re-evaluate my positions on issues, or at the very least the quality of case I make for or against them. As Michael Jordan once said in a classic Nike ad, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life ... and that is why I succeed."

I won't pretend to know why we lost this election, and it'll be a while before I understand how a state that decisively re-elected Gov. Scott Walker in a recall on June 5, 2012, could turn around and vote not only Obama but a liberal lesbian in Tammy Baldwin just five months later.

There are lessons to be learned from this loss, and we have two years to study up as mid-terms loom. While that may seem a safe distance into the future, and we may all be electioned out (especially in Wisconsin), there's no time to waste ... there's a state Supreme Court election in spring 2013!

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Packers' unending season

The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears in the Game of the Century on Jan. 23, 2011, and earned a right to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
It's an exciting time in Packerland, as this is the first time they've gone to a Super Bowl since the 1997 season. (That's the one we like to not talk about, a loss to the Broncos.)

From the Packers' last trip to the Super Bowls, I'd forgotten how much NFC Champion stuff was out there, I've held off on buying up a lot of it until after the Super Bowl. I figure if the Packers win, then THAT's the gear I'll want. Plus, the stuff is pretty expensive; NFCC hats are going for $26-$30.

For what it's worth, I like the Packers to beat the Steelers, not because I'm a blind homer but because I believe the Packers were good enough this season to be undefeated.
Consider, the team went 10-6 with 15 players - six opening-day starters - lost for the season to Injured Reserve. None of those six losses was by more than 4 points, and the Packers had real opportunities to win each one:

Loss 1, vs. Bears - Packers commit 18 penalties for 152 yards - two of which came on what would've been drive-killing INTs in the fourth quarter when the Packers had the lead - and still only lost by a FG.

Loss 2, at Washington - K Mason Crosby missed potential game-winner with 7 seconds left in regulation, defense can't hold in OT

Loss 3, vs. Miami - Aaron Rodgers tied it with 16 seconds to play, but defense couldn't hold in OT and we lost by a FG.

Loss 4, at Atl - GB tied it with a minute left before reserve LB Matt Wilhelm commits a 15-yard facemask on the ensuing kickoff, which puts Atl at midfield. They gain 22 yards in 49 seconds and hit the game-winning FG.

Loss 5, at Det - Rodgers leaves with a concussion, but Detroit is no longer a joke anyway. They're going to push for the division next year.

Loss 6, at NE - We led that game 17-7 near the end of the first half until that big lineman put together a 71-yard TD return and the Patriots made it 17-24. We also led 27-21 and 27-24 in the fourth quarter. Matt Flynn played a hell of a game for his first start . His inexperience kept him from calling a play at the end, a flub that a more experienced Rodgers likely wouldn't have committed. Now, would he have fired a TD? Who knows, but he likely would've gotten off a play. And maybe a bevy of healthy starters on D would've kept the Patriots from taking the lead in the first place.

There are two things that scare me about the Steelers; their linebackers and their running game.
OLBs James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley both have double-digit sacks. So Pitt will bring pressure from the edges. Rodgers will HAVE to get the ball out quickly - something he hasn't always done, though he's made tremendous progress from 2009.
RB Rashard Mendenhall accrued the majority of his carries in the second half of games, and the plurality of his yardage in the fourth quarter. The Packers need to hold him to a reasonable total - he's averaged a modest 79 yards per game on 3.9 a carry.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

UConn women impressive, but leave men out of it

Further evidence of liberal creep into sports media has really been burning my beans lately; endless chatter among the sports-minded that the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, poised to win its 89th consecutive game, will be "breaking" the UCLA men's record set 1971-74.

Even UConn coach Geno Auriemma recently went off on media for what he perceived as a lack of coverage, repeatedly asserting that his ladies were breaking a men's record.

While the UConn women's streak is remarkable - impressive in every conceivable way - it is not breaking a men's record. Among their 89 straight vanquished opponents, not one has been a men's team. This is because the UConn women play - wait for it - women's basketball. Division I women's basketball, to be precise. Thus, saying they can break a record set by men holds no more water than to credit men for surpassing an achievement set in the women's game. To compare the women's game to men's is as apples-oranges as comparing DI records with those in DII or DIII. The sports, and divisions, are distinct.

And those who insist that the Huskies are breaking a men's record unwittingly advance the thought that the men's game is superior to the women's and thus compiling a win streak that is longer than one found in the men's game must make the women's more impressive.

This type of subtle sexim has no place in sports or its coverage.

The women's game is impressive and has done wonderful things for the physical and psychological well-being of countless women through the years. But to continue to imply that it's the little sister to its more popular counterpart puts it right back on the end of the bench.

Congratulations, UConn women ... let's leave it at that.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The sanctimony ... err, sanctity of the bowls

Time for my annual rant about how NCAA Division I football needs a playoff. I can't leave it alone because I heard it again last night; a college FB talking head - in this case former Ohio State and Minnesota Viking running back, and apparent med-school dropout, Robert Smith - talk about how college football's regular season is so much more exciting than in any other sport.
Um, what?
For whom?
Certainly not for the fans of teams that begin the season outside the top 10 rankings. Yes, preseason rankings have as much to do with who plays for the national championship as anything. So your school's legacy works in your favor - or against it - before any team has taken its first snap.
Certainly Smith hasn't forgotten his NFL career, which peaked when his Vikings went 15-1 in 1998. They lost in the second week of the season that year but went on a run that didn't end until the NFC Championship game. If the NFL had adopted the BCS model, his Vikings would've been out of contention long before October. THAT, my friends, is what renders the regular season obsolete.
Not to mention the fact that the regular season is what prepares team for the postseason in the first place. Ask the New York Giants, who in 2007 got hot late in the season and went on to foil the unbeaten New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Or ask the Pittsburgh Steelers, who in 2005 sneaked into the playoffs as the bottom seed, only to march to a Super Bowl win in Detroit.

Gamblers aside, I'd like someone to tell me why anyone would watch a bowl game in which neither participant has the slightest hope of playing for a national championship.
Is it for the prestige? Well, if you're vying to become the champion of the vaunted Beef 'O Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, or the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, or perhaps my favorite for its illustration of systemic absurdity, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

How can anyone make this anti-playoff argument with a straight face? My other favorite arguments ...

* It would stretch the season into the next semester
Really? So men's and women's basketball, wrestling, etc., will need to choose a semester at some point, it sounds like.

* Our bowl system is unique and needs to be preserved
Hah. See above.
Then see the bowl committees voluntarily shut down every bowl founded after 1950. Hold your breath for that one.

* It makes the season too long
This is the only argument that has any degree of plausibility, in that college bodies arguably aren't built for a potentially 18-game schedule.
Presumably, that's why coaches are allowed more than 80 scholarships to field 11 guys at a time.
Coaches have the depth; they should use it.

The solution is simpler than the BCS honks would have us believe: The NCAA can turn its back on all of the bowls, as it did against the National Invitational Tournament in basketball, it can set up its own brackets and invite teams all on its own.

My suggestion would be for 16 teams. You win your conference? Congratulations, you've earned a chance - however remote, it's still a chance - to play for the national championship.
That leaves us with five at-large bids. One will almost always go to Notre Dame - just being a realist - which truthfully leaves us with four. Those would be distributed among conference runners-up, or the Flavor of the Month that's having a great season and could be that Cinder-fella story that we hear so much about during the basketball tournament.
By all means, keep your precious BCS rankings; just use them as an excuse for seeding.
Here's what this year's brackets would look like:

Just one example of a way to do it; here would be the matchups if you didn't even take the conference winners and just went with the straight BCS rankings:

16 Alabama
1 Auburn
(can't imagine anyone wanting to tune in for this yawner)

9 Arkansas
8 Michigan State
(two evenly matched defenses; Ark is 31st in NCAA, MSU is 34th)

12 Missouri
5 Wisconsin

13 Virginia Tech
4 Stanford

11 LSU
6 Ohio State
(No. 7 defense at No. 2 D)

14 Oklahoma State
3 TCU
(No. 1 offense in the country at No. 9 O)

10 Boise State (honestly, who could bear watching this rematch!?)
7 Oklahoma

15 Nevada
2 Oregon (No. 2 offense vs. No. 3)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Never Let You Go

If this image doesn't touch you, you have no soul.
Paige Bennethum, 4, clutches Daddy one last time before he ships off to Iraq last July from Fort Dix, N.J. She said she "didn't want to let go of him." Leave it to a small child to say what a lot of grown-us don't know how to express.
May God bless your daddy, Paige, and as many as possible so they can get home in one piece.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

RIP, Adrian

Patrick Swayze succumbed yesterday to pancreatic cancer, a disease that normally claims its victims within about six months but that Swayze held off for a remarkable two years.
While he's best known for his leading roles in 'Dirty Dancing,' 'Roadhouse' and 'Ghost,' many of us will remember him best not for his solo acts but for a duet of sorts he did with another man who left us too early.
Swayze and Chris Farley squared off in an October 1990 skit on 'Saturday Night Live' that will immortalize both men.
Now both are gone.
Enjoy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cornelius Timberlake

For some reason, I've had this stuck in my head for a long time. Gotta love people - especially celebrities - who can make fun of themselves.