Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mac comes back with Florida win

While not official as of this moment, CNN and other sources are reporting that Rudy Giuliani is contemplating not only dropping out of the race for the presidency but throwing his support behind John McCain as well.
CNN just projected McCain as the winner of the Florida primary, edging Mitt Romney by about 4-5 percent. As Giuliani finished a weak third after staking his entire campaign on his performance there, he is effectively done and is likely to drop soon. It appears he still will participate in the Republicans' CNN debate Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. I'd like to see him stick it out for one more week, though, through Super Tuesday (Feb. 5). I think he owes at least that to his supporters and volunteers.

Romney outspent McCain about 10-to-1, so I don't understand why he hasn't gained more traction. Someone with his business credentials should be making more gains among people who are increasingly citing the economy as their primary concern. While National Review endorsed Romney, they also wrote a piece recently drubbing him for his lack of empathy; for being a bit technocratic on the trail.
I think he's going to rue his decision not to buy TV advertising in the Miami market. While it is the most expensive such market in the U.S., the result of Romney's decision may be manifested in a graphic that CNN just flashed; that McCain won 50 percent of the Cuban vote, Giuliani 34 percent and Romney a paltry 10 percent.

Even though national polls show McCain as the only Republican to regularly beat Dem frontrunners Clinton and Obama, Romney has less baggage for the Dems to attack.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fred steps down

Fred Thompson bowed out of his bid for the presidency today. With that, the former Tennessee Senator ended a sad chapter that began too late, offered too little fire, and has now ended too soon.

An actor with an impressive filmography, folks expected him to tap that ability to "play the role" of the tall, conservative father-figure type we all envisioned. But alas, he lacked the theatrical skills of Ronald Reagan.

He campaigned as though he expected the votes, the money and the media attention to simply roll his way once he finished teasing the public about whether or not he'd run. Confidence? Maybe. Presumptuousness? Perhaps. Laziness? That probably will be the perception. A strong field of Republicans prevented him from hijacking the media attention he probably thought would come so easily. And more ballsiness like his refusal to participate in the grade-school 'show of hands' could've played pretty well nationally.

He should've announced months ahead of time that he'd officially start campaigning after Labor Day, then hit the trail with that same confidence but this time with all the gusto of a man who felt it was not his desire but rather his DUTY to become president.

Coulda, shoulda woulda ...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Packers lose to Giants; this one hurts

Somewhere, there's a box of "Green Bay Packers, NFC Champions" T-shirts headed for India.

The New York Giants rewrote the ending of the Packers' storied season with a 23-20 overtime win in the NFC Championship on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

This one hurts.

The game was minus-1 degree at kickoff and dropped to minus-4 by the end, but it was the hometown Pack who looked most affected; most notably Brett Favre. The man whose legend was predicated largely on his cold-weather prowess has now, in two games, looked less-than-mortal in ill conditions. On Dec. 23, the Packers went into Soldier Field and left a steaming hunk of nothing on the field en route to a 35-7 loss to the Chicago Bears. The temp was 16 degrees with a minus-18 wind chill, and Favre went 17-of-32 for 153 yards and two interceptions.

This Sunday, he went 19-of-35 for 236 and two TDs and two INTs. The last INT was simply a bad throw to CB Corey Webster (who he'd beaten for a 90-yard TD early in the game), which gave Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes a chance to avenge two missed field goals by hitting a 47-yarder that decided the game.

While it was cold for everyone, Favre looked more uncomfortable than most, ducking back under cover after each offensive possession; the camera caught him stuffing handwarmers inside his headscarf like he'd just discovered a new snack. He looked like he'd just gotten off the bus from Mississippi, when in reality his Giants counterpart, Eli Manning, also hails from the Magnolia State and didn't seem nearly as uncomfortable.

During those possessions, Favre's passes were often off target, negating the team's ability to go deep and take advantage of the Giants' starting two backup CBs. (Favre's last pick was on a deep out, which he usually makes.) So for all the Packers' troubles going deep, the Giants' defense did an outstanding job covering the short, high-percentage stuff as well. LB Antonio Pierce single-handedly blew up an otherwise wide-open screen pass; DT Justin Tuck another. The Giants also shut down the Packers' rediscovered running game, holding Ryan Grant to 29 yards on 13 carries a week after he'd gashed Seattle for 201 and three scores.

Manning didn't even wear a headscarf. He finished 21-of-40 for 251 yards. He wasn't outstanding, missing as badly as Favre on many throws, but he didn't look rattled either. The Packers slowed monster RB Brandon Jacobs (21-for-67) but had no answer for Plaxico Burress. The 6-foot-5 WR hauled in 11 balls for 154 yards against one of the best cover-corner duos in the league.

The Giants converted just 6 of their 16 third-downs; the Packers just 1-of-10.

But they had so many other opportunities. ... Tynes missed field goals of 43 and 36 yards, the latter of which would've won the game but for a bad snap and a bad hook left. ... R.W. McQuarters got Favre's first pick, early in the fourth quarter with the Giants leading 20-17, but he fumbled it on the return and the Packers' right tackle (and Auburndale native) Mark Tauscher recovered. The Packers tied it on a Mason Crosby field goal. ... Of the Giants' 6 third-down conversions, two were on huge penalties called on the Packers. One was a questionable (translation: complete bullshit) roughing-the-passer call on FS Nick Collins. Another was a more legitimate call on CB Al Harris for illegal use of hands while intercepting Manning early in the third at midfield. ... After McQuarters fumbled a Packer punt with 2:30 to play in the fourth, CB Jarrett Bush tried to pick it up, bobbled it, and the Giants wound up recovering. Bush, a young player who either was trying to get onto SportsCenter or was simply hoping to provide the spark his team's offense couldn't, could have given the Packers a 1st-and-10 near midfield. ... On the next play, Ahmad Bradshaw broke loose for a TD run that was called back on a holding penalty, and sighs of *whew* went up across Packerland.

But enough X's and O's.

My issue with Favre's duck-and-cover routine is because of the message I would think that sent to the rest of the players. Maybe they didn't care; it just looked bad to me on the other end of a TV feed, on a nice cushy sofa in a warm living room.

But it's easy to look for a scapegoat when you've invested so much emotion into this team. After an overachieving season that had the Packers as 75-to-1 odds to make the Super Bowl in August, we found ourselves wishing for a classic storyline of Old Man Favre spoiling the Patriots' bid for a perfect season in Super Bowl XLII before riding off into the sunset. This after watching the Giants upset the Dallas Cowboys a week ago and thus routing the road to the Super Bowl through Lambeau.

But this was the second time I've felt it was the Packers' last, best chance to win a Super Bowl; the other being the team's 20-17 overtime loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 11, 2004. That one, too, ended largely due to an inexplicably awful INT by Favre.

This one is going to take a few days, as it's difficult to decide right now if I want Favre to come back and put this young-but-burgeoning team over the top and into the Big Game, or walk away and let Aaron Rodgers, who is entering a contract year, take the reins.

Pending anything official from Favre, I guess I've got time to think about it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Can Fred make it four?

Mitt Romney is breathing a huge sigh of relief after winning the Michigan primary, making it three Republican winners in as many primaries - Huckabee in Iowa, McCain in New Hampshire. (Romney won a virtually uncontested Wyoming caucus between Iowa and NH.)
Next is an elimination round of sorts, as Fred Thompson has all but said he would need to win the Jan. 19 South Carolina primary - or at least finish strong - to continue his campaign.
Current polls don't bode well for Thompson, as he trails Huckabee, McCain and Romney. So, as much as I like Fred, and as much of his water as Fox News has been carrying lately, I think we'll be bidding farewell to him soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dems drinking their own poison

I'm loving this.
As the race for the Democratic nomination as whittled to three, the top two - Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - are bickering about who injected race into their campaign rhetoric first.
Clinton said in an interview recently that Martin Luther King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. "It took a president to get it done," she said.
Black America took great offense, asserting that Clinton was minimizing MLK's efforts at civil rights reform; that no matter what he did or would've done, it would've gotten nowhere without Whitey.
Thing is, she's right.
No matter how many beautiful speeches MLK gave, and no matter how many non-violent protests and marches he would've organized, nothing would've killed institutional racism without legislative action. And who was in Congress at that time? White men. Why did MLK stage all of those actions? To stir emotions, in Americans both black AND white, and put pressure on the lawmakers.
But the knee-jerk reaction from Black America is simply the harvest of the seeds of what the Democratic Party has been sowing for generations. "Whitey is out to get you" ... "Whitey is keeping you down" ... "You need us to lift you up and out of poverty" ...

This same mind-set is evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Even two-plus years later, people still cry out to the government to help them. And now that the Democratic Party has the ideal opportunity to literally lift blacks out of the impoverished 9th Ward and rebuild new homes in another part of the city, on higher ground, with a fresh start. So what do the Dems promise this largely black population? To rebuild the 9th and put them all right back where they were; right back where the Democracts think poor, uneducated blacks belong ... forming a block by which to vote another Dem back into power.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dems, GOPs and ...

Well, primary season is under way in the most wide-open presidential election since at least 1952 (some say 1932). As of this writing, the Dems have whittled their field to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
Meanwhile, the GOP still can't decide who wants it least: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul, and I guess Duncan Hunter is still hanging around for some reason.

"Change" seems to be the big mantra for this cycle, as Obama has been beating that drum, with Clinton following and now Romney (!?) following as well. But I say, for those who want REAL change, you have a number of options besides just the ol' Donkey and Elephant (of whom there are actually 50-some and 80-some, respectively, besides the ones we see on TV). Behold the Undercard for 2008, courtesy of Project VoteSmart:

American Party, Matthew Jay Borman
Citizen's Party (can't even find a Web site for these guys), William David Beadles
Constitution Party, J. Boydston and Todd Marvin Clayton
Green Party (a.k.a. The Gore Killers), Jared Arlen Ball, Elaine Brown, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, Kat Swift
Independence Party, Jose Miguel Aparicio
Libertarian Party (WAY too many to name)
Native American Party, Jacques Yves Boulerice (a.k.a. 'Chief Jack')
Prohibition Party, Gene Amondson
Reform Party, Bruce Calvin Trask
The Light Party, Da Vid
United Fascist Union, Jackson Kirk Grimes

What I wouldn't give to see these guys share a debate stage. Can you imagine Da Vid taking a run at Chief Jack's health-care plan?

Seriously, I don't understand why some news channel doesn't devote one evening to a Third Party Debate, where they'd invite the nominee from the top six or eight "alternative" parties that received votes in the last election (logistically you'd have to limit it so the moderator could get to everyone). You can't tell me that wouldn't draw viewers. At least it'd be easy to find Jack Grimes.
But no, apparently we need 20 Republican debates and 22 Dem debates to hear the same crap we hear every other time these phonies get in front of a camera.
You'd think the least they could do is hold themed debates. Why can't the NEA sponsor an Education Debate, with 90 minutes devoted to education, for both Dems and GOPs? The US Chamber of Commerce on business policy? The AFL-CIO on labor issues? The American Medical Ass'n on health care? The VFW, American Legion and Paralyzed Veterans of America on defense/military matters? Etc. There's no shortage of advocacy groups for major issues.
It's too bad there aren't any viable third parties out there - though the Libertarians and Greens probably draw the most votes - just to keep our major leaguers something approaching honest.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year in Review

Happy New Year! ... or, as I've come to know it, Happy Hangover Day!

And so it's time to look back at some notable stuff from 2007:

Nov. 3 - Navy ends a 43-year losing streak to Notre Dame by stopping them in overtime. Navy played bowl-worthy football all season, and ND had a down year. Whatever. No excuses. Anchors aweigh!

Oct. 26 - Trinity University, from Texas, trailed Millsaps College 28-22 with 2 seconds to play and the ball at their own 39-yard-line. What to do? Reach WAY back into the playbook, complete one pass, then follow it with 15 laterals until Millsaps' players start giving up and you sprint past them into the end zone for the 28-22. Ready ... BREAK!

Sept. 23 - Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech 49-45. Great game worthy of accolades up and down from OKS coach Mike Gundy about his players, coaches and program, right? Mmm, not so much. Instead, Gundy chose that setting to berate a beat columnist for a piece she wrote on one of his players. His verbal assault gave us such gems as, "I'm a man. I'm 40!" Enjoy.

Sept. 1 - Appalachian State, defending Division 1-AA champion, shocks the football world by beating No. 2-ranked Michigan in an instant classic. The Mountaineers blocked a Wolverine field goal at the end of regulation to preserve the 34-32 victory. Cool stuff. As it would turn out, App State would lose just two games and go on to win the D 1-AA championship. Again. Way to pick'em, Michigan.

Aug. 1 - The I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis - captured on this surveillance video - forcing government officials nationwide to refocus the need for improved infrastructure. This attention led to the closing of the McCleary Bridge in Wausau, which had a crumbling pier supporting two lanes and had gone unannounced for two years. In looking around for information on bridge disasters, I found this clip of the Tacoma Narrows on Nov. 1, 1940.

June 10 - 'The Sopranos' ended its seven-year run with the most controversial series finale I can remember. People have been talking about it ever since; mostly complaining about it, some praising it. As I don't have HBO, I couldn't watch it live, but in looking back at it, I think it's brilliant. The camera shifts from person to person and you the viewer find yourself wondering who will be the one to whack Tony. You know it could happen at any time, and it could come from anybody. And that's how Tony lives his life. Perfect.
And, to her credit, Hillary Clinton spoofed the Sopranos episode in a campaign ad.

April 16 - Seung-Hui Cho, a 22-year-old Korean man, went on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, killing 32 and wounding 25 more before fatally shooting himself as his coup de grace. During the rampage, he took a break to mail a video manifesto to NBC explaining his twisted rationale. A student caught some of the gunshots on his camera phone. CNN made it part of a longer report. Eerie stuff.