Saturday, February 28, 2009


The classic illustration of chutzpah is the boy who kills his parents, and then pleads for mercy on the grounds of being an orphan. But it is certainly not the only example. Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd excoriating bankers for the current financial crisis fall into that category. Barack Obama railing against George Bush's deficits while significantly increasing them does as well.

And I saw another one this morning. I was watching an episode of A&E's American Justice, filmed in 2001, about a 1999 murder in Bridgeport, CT. An eight year-old boy who was going to testify in a murder trial was himself murdered to prevent that testimony. Obviously, a tragic event, and one that should have been forseen and prevented. Relatives of the victims (both the boy and his mother were killed) hired a lawyer to sue the city for not preventing it. Which does not seem too unreasonable. But it seems more than a little bit inappropriate for Johnnie Cochran, of all people, to be making the case that the police and justice system should have somehow kept that murderer off the street before he killed the witness.

"If you're charged with, first attempted murder, and then the man is murdered and the man who's murdered says 'Russell shot me,' why is anybody even allowed on bail? Why do you even have that situation?"

That's absolutely a legitimate question. Johnnie Cochran is someone who forfeited the right to ever ask it.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Bicentennial birthday

On February 27, 1809, the Park Street Church of Boston, a "'trinitarian, evangelical and orthodox' alternative to the emerging Unitarian hegemony," was founded. Today marks the 200th anniversary of that founding, for a church that is still "trinitarian, evangelical and orthodox." And active, as thousands of people pass through the doors of the historic meetinghouse between the Boston Common and the granary burying ground every Sunday.

Park Street Church
Park Street Church

So a bicentennial Happy Birthday! And here's to 200 more!


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New products - no markup!

On a suggestion from a cousin, a new line of hats and shirts...

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Elections have consequences

And President Obama continues to add to the "elections have consequences" file...


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Great athletes

If given a time machine, I'd love to go back and watch Babe Ruth play baseball. I'd love to watch Walter Johnson pitch, or Sammy Baugh slingin'. To watch Jesse Owens race in Berlin.

But as a sports fan, there are many things that I am thankful for. I consider myself lucky to have been a Celtics fan during the Larry Bird era. I cherish the memories of Pedro Martinez in a Red Sox uniform, possibly the most outstanding three-four year run of pitching in Major League history.

And I am thrilled to be a golf fan in the age of Tiger.

I know that Hagen begat Arnie, who begat Nicklaus, who begat Tiger. But it's just a joy to watch him play. And it's great that he's back.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yankee pitching acquisitions - historic

There's a good piece from the Baseball Crank, who looked Yankee veteran pitcher acquisitions in the free agency era. He concludes that
despite having, in the main, good baseball people working for them throughout most of this period, the Yankees have had flop after flop throughout every stage of the Steinbrenner years...The collective Yield of the group, excluding the foreign pitchers, is 74.6%. The waste of dollars, of young talent in trade, of innings and run support to struggling starters, is enormous...Sabathia looks like a good bet; he's up there with Hunter, Mussina, Cone, Clemens and Johnson among the best pitchers they have acquired, he's a power pitcher with a reasonably good health record and much younger than some of those guys. Burnett's also a power pitcher, but riskier, more like some of the failures...

It's a good piece, with a ton of data.

(On an unrelated note, he also links to this excellent piece on political cartoons in the age of Obama.)

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spring is coming

Today marks the last Saturday without Major League baseball until the 2009 NFL season is half over...

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Wherever they value loyalty the most..."

One of the recurring themes of the Jason Varitek contract situation, both in the media and among fans, was "loyalty," Varitek's "loyalty" to the Red Sox and the Red Sox' "loyalty" (or lack thereof) to Varitek. Now that camp is open, I have managed to get an exclusive reaction from Jason Varitek on the loyalty issue:

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

7 to 9-out of-10 economists agree...

Professor Mankiw's got some interesting information about some topics about which most economist's appear to agree, including:
1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Conservative Movies

Over in The Corner, the NROites are counting down the Top 25 Conservative Movies of the last 25 years. Which is always a fun sort of thing to do. I decided to gather the links in one spot, and add such comments as I feel like adding.

As I start this, they've done 25-19. I have no idea where they'll end up, and I'm not going to spend any time trying to predict. I'll comment on the order when they're all done, assuming that I disagree with it (a good assumption, I expect.)

So, on to the list:

  1. The Lives of Others
    I have not seen this. In fact, I find it fascinating that the number one movie on the list is one that I've not only not seen, it's the only one of which I've never even heard.

  2. The Incredibles
    As with Groundhog Day, this is one that would make my list of the top 25 movies of the last 25 years, period, with no qualifiers. As a long-time comic book super-hero guy, I say with great confidence that this is the best super-hero movie ever made, bar none. And there's no close second. And its conservative street-cred is indisputible, as a celebration of the individual, striving to be the best that he or she can be. It recognizes that people have different talents and abilities, some are more capable than others, and that evil exists and needs to be fought by good. And that we all owe a lot to those good who are willing to fight to protect us. (And plaintiff's lawyers are the source of much that is wrong in society.) Pixar has yet to make a bad film, but this is one of the very best of a great group.

  3. Metropolitan
    I have not seen this.

  4. Forrest Gump
    We all know that Tom Hanks is no conservative. And I seem to recall reading that Winston Groom, the author of the novel, resenting conservatives claiming Forrest when the movie was released. Despite that, there's no question, that the movie makes the case for conservative values over liberal values. At every step, it is Forrest Gump who follows the "conservative" path, and it is Jenny who follows the "liberal" path as they work through the 60s. And it is Forrest who thrives, and Jenny who suffers. Whatever the politics, it is an excellent film, with great performances all around. It clearly merits its place high on this list.

  5. 300
    I have not seen this.

  6. Groundhog Day
    One of the best 25 movies of any description of the past 25 years. Frankly, I suspected that this would be number one, and am rather surprised to have seen it appear on the list before Friday. Bill Murray's journey of discovery, self and otherwise, is filled with trial and redemption. And it's fun every step of the way. This is a film that stands up well to repeated viewings, and despite being fifteen years old, it feels as fresh as the day it was released. At fifteen years, you can start to get a feel for whether or not a film ages well - clearly, Groundhog Day will be around for a long time.

  7. The Pursuit of Happyness
    I have not seen this.

  8. Juno
    I have mixed emotions about this. On the plus side, Juno decides not to have an abortion, she decides to give the baby up for adoption, her family supports her decision. These are all good things. And the movie doesn't pretend that teen pregnancy is a good thing.

    On the other hand, I found Juno herself to be obnoxious, rather than charming. And the movie was populated with caricatures rather than characters. Obviously, other disagree. I was underwhelmed.

  9. Blast From the Past
    This is another film that I've seen parts of. I don't think it's anywhere near as good as James Bowman thinks. I will say that the first 20 minutes or so are entertaining, as the family goes into their bunker and we watch them raise a son. And the world he steps out into 20 years later is creepy and unattractive. But shortly after that happens, the movie ceases to be interesting. Apparently Alicia Silverstone was a famous person in some circles for some period of time, but if this is representative of her work, well, I'm profoundly unimpressed. Nor do I think much of Brendan Fraser. I see the conservative appeal, but past the first 1/2 hour, I find it unwatchable.

  10. Ghostbusters
    Hmm. Aside from the problems caused by an EPA bureaucrat, what, exactly, makes this a conservative film? I love it (or did when it was out - it looks dated now) but other than a couple of throwaway comments, is it conservative? I don't really see it.

  11. The Lord of the Rings
    Everything that I said about The Chronicles of Narnia applies here. I think that it represents magnificent film-making, but I can't see and evaluate it as a film.

  12. The Dark Knight
    I have not seen this. (OK, I sat in a room in which it was playing, and it utterly and completely failed to grasp or hold my attention, but because of that, I really can't claim to have seen it and make any kind of reasonable assessment.)

  13. Braveheart
    And Mel Gibson makes the list again, with a fantastic film. It's more a work of historical fiction than history, but that doesn't detract from its value. Excellent from start to finish.

  14. A Simple Plan
    I have not seen this.

  15. Red Dawn
    I have not seen all of this. I never saw it when it came out, but after years of hearing it praised as a conservative film, I tried to watch it a year ago. I made it through about half an hour, and found the performances so bad that I couldn't finish it.

  16. Master and Commander
    I have not seen this.

  17. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
    As far as conservative pedigrees go, they don't get any better than this. A faithful film adaptation, watched over by his adopted son, of the first volume in C.S. Lewis' classic Narnia series does not fall into the typical Hollywood template. And it did big business at the box office. But is it a great movie?

    I have trouble with it. I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a single book that I've loved which has then been made into a movie that I loved. (Though one, "Les Miserables," was made into a broadway show that I loved.) There have been movies I loved from books that I haven't read, or from books that I read later, but never have I loved a book and then loved the movie adaptation. It's a cliche to say that if you love to read, the book is always better than the movie, but it isn't true. But it is true that, in falling in love with a book, the interaction between the writer and the reader creates a mental world, and if you don't make the film yourself, it's impossible for it to match your visions. It will always fall short. I enjoyed TLTWATW, but I didn't love it. Is it a great movie? I don't know.

  18. The Edge
    I have not seen this.

  19. We Were Soldiers
    I have not seen this.

  20. Gattaca
    I have not seen this.

  21. Heartbreak Ridge
    Jonah Goldberg says that this is "not very good," an opinion which I understand but don't necessarily share. It is uneven, there are plot points which aren't particularly believable, and every second that Marsha Mason is on-screen is wasted film. About 1/3 of the movie just doesn't work. The stuff that does work, however, works really well. Clint is in top form, and the scenes of him turning boys into men are excellent, start to finish. The language is, as you'd expect for a movie set in a Marine barracks, foul, comically so in places. But the repeated growl - "you improvise, you adapt, you overcome" - makes it all worthwhile. I never watch the whole thing, but there's about an hour of great movie inside of it, and always stop when I flip through it.

  22. Brazil
    I'm a fan. It's uneven, episodic and occasionally incoherent, but visually arresting. And you have to love that one of the heroes is a non-union plumber. (The key to that heroism is the "non-union" part.) Think "1984" if Big Brother were an incompetent moron.

  23. United 93
    I have not seen this.

  24. Team America: World Police
    Not "conservative," really. Certainly not culturally conservative. But the people behind South Park are, unlike the vast majority of the entertainment media, willing to gore - really seriously gore - the sacred cows of the left. And they are willing to recognize that the terrorists are real, they're the bad guys, the Americans are the good guys, and the Hollywood leftists are useful idiots for the bad guys. So I don't object to its inclusion, though I don't know five people to whom I'd actually recommend it.

  25. Gran Torino
    I have not seen this yet, but I will at some point.

Idle comments:

  • If you'd asked me last week, I'd have suggested that it was difficult, if not impossible, to suggest a movie categorization list that would include both Team America: World Police and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

  • It's not shocking to see two Clint Eastwood films in the first 10. Do any others make it? Will someone make the case that Million Dollar Baby is a conservative film? A Perfect World? Unforgiven? It will be interesting to see.

  • I'm surprised to have seen only four of the first 10 listed.

  • Mel Gibson joins Clint Eastwood as producer/director/stars with two on the list.

  • The Lives of Others was raved about as a conservative film by William F. Buckley. It was also raved about by liberal film critic Roger Ebert, who saw it as a criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the War on Terror.

I'll be updating occasionally as they add films. (And bumping to the top - remember to scroll down for newer posts...)

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Obama in Starnesville

So, when I heard the clip from Florida yesterday of the woman asking President Obama for "our own kitchen and our own bathroom," I was reminded of something.

But his sister Ivy was worse...She was our Director of Distribution. She was the lady in charge of our needs. She was the one who held us by the throat. Of course, distribution was supposed to be decided by voting—by the voice of the people. But when the people are six thousand howling voices, trying to decide without yardstick, rhyme or reason, when there are no rules to the game and each can demand anything, but has a right to nothing, when everybody holds power over everybody’s life except his own—then it turns out, as it did, that the voice of the people is Ivy Starnes. By the end of the second year...all the petitions of need were simply sent to Miss Starnes’ office. No, not sent. They had to be recited to her in person by every petitioner. Then she made up a distribution list, which she read to us for our vote of approval at a meeting that lasted three-quarters of an hour. We voted approval. There was a ten minute period on the agenda for discussion and objections. We made no objections. We knew better by that time. Nobody can divide a factory’s income among thousands of people, without some sort of a gauge to measure people’s value. Her gauge was bootlicking.
Mistakes of this size are never made innocently. If men fall for some vicious piece of insanity, when they have no way to make it work and no possible reason to explain their choice—it’s because they have a reason that they do not wish to tell. And we weren’t so innocent either, when we voted for that plan at the first meeting. We didn’t do it just because we believed that the drippy old guff they spewed was good. We had another reason, but the guff helped us to hide it from our neighbors and from ourselves. The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we’d be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn’t a man voting for it who didn’t think that under a setup of this kind he’d muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn’t a man rich and smart enough but that he didn’t think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better’s wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he’d get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who’d get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who’d rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss’s, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own. That was our real motive when we voted—that was the truth of it—but we didn’t like to think it, so the less we liked it, the louder we yelled about our love for the common good.

Well, we got what we asked for. By the time we saw what it was that we’d asked for, it was too late. We were trapped, with no place to go.

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

H/T: Michelle Malkin

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Shrine of FDR

Great piece from Jonah Goldberg on the cult of FDR and the liberal infatuation with the New Deal.
The glory of the New Deal is, for liberals, settled dogma. To question it is akin to casting doubt on geocentrism in the 14th century. Worse, it is an attempt to erase liberalism’s most usable past.

It ran in National Review last week, but has been updated and posted. I recommend it.

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Michael Kinsley is credited with saying that a gaffe in Washington is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Using that criteria, we have a lovely gaffe from my junior Senator on the floor of the Senate.

A tax cut is non-targeted. If you put a tax cut in the hands of either a business or an individual today, there is no guarantee they're going to invest their money. There is no guarantee they're going to invest their money in the United States. They're free to go to invest anywhere they want if they choose to invest.
The fact is none of those people are guaranteed to invest that money in any of the new projects that we are.
So Government. Yes, Government has the ability to be able to make a decision that the private sector won't necessarily make today.

Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry

There it is. The Democratic philosophy at its core, spelled out by the last Democratic standard bearer. You can't keep your money - you might not spend it the right way. We'll spend your money better than you will.

H/T: Mark Hemingway

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"Ransacked by a gang of thugs..."

CATO Institute adjunct scholar Arnold Kling:
I think about the stimulus as an economist but I feel it as a father. Barack Obama is destroying my daughters’ future. It is like sitting there watching my house ransacked by a gang of thugs. That’s how I feel...

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Over in The Corner, Mark Hemingway has Senator Mitch McConnell's statement on the floor of the Senate today. It's worth reading.

A couple of excerpts:
The American people were ready to support an economic plan that would work and that wouldn’t spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. So were Republicans in Congress. What many of us did not expect, however, was that President Obama wouldn’t be the author of that plan. In an odd turn of events, the bold economic plan that President Obama called for ended up being written by some of the longest-serving Democrats in the House of Representatives — and it showed. Tasked with writing a stimulus bill that was timely, targeted, and temporary, Democrats in the House produced an enormous spending bill that was none of the above.


In every version of the stimulus we’ve seen, wasteful spending has attracted the most attention. But even more worrisome to many is the permanent expansion of government programs. One estimate puts the cost of this expansion at nearly $1 trillion over the next decade.

Even the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which counts Obama economic advisor Paul Volcker and former Clinton Budget Director Alice Rivlin as directors, has been highly critical of this aspect of the bill. Last week, CRFB President Maya MacGuineas pointed out that many of the bill’s spending projects squander resources. But even more troubling, she said, are the programs that aim to permanently expand government. As MacGuineas put it, ‘extending our borrowing beyond the economic downturn will make our already-dismal fiscal picture far, far worse.’

Still, some Democrats continue to defend the bill. Asked about its apparent lack of focus, one veteran Democratic Congressman said, ‘So what.’ One Senate Democrat called $16.4 billion in the bill ‘a trifle.’ Another Democrat senator said that by inserting a $3 billion project of his own, he was just ‘fiddling at the edges.’ Another said that $50 billion was ‘not going to make the difference to the economy.’ Most people cringe at a 50 cent increase in the cost of bread. Senate Democrats shrug at taking $16 billion from the taxpayers for a project they can’t even assure us will work.


All of us want to strengthen the economy and create and save jobs. Republicans believe the best way to do it is to first fix the problem, which is housing. Then we need to let people keep more of what they earn. Throughout this process, Republicans have been guided by the belief that the desire to ‘just do something’ shouldn’t be an excuse to waste tax dollars. That’s why we proposed a plan that was more focused on the problem and which didn’t waste money — in short, a plan that was timely, targeted, and temporary. Sadly the bill before us is none of these things

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Live-blogging the Presidential Press Conference

Yeah, right. I managed about 3 minutes before I had to turn it off. That was enough to make me go quiver under my covers with all of the lights on...

Democratic Presidential Rhetoric Evolution*:

1933: "The only think we have to fear is fear itself."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

2009: "The only think we have to fear is THE SKY IS FALLING! If you don't let me spend $3000 for every man, woman, transgender, transsexual and child in the United States by tomorrow afternoon, we're all DOOMED!"
- Barack H. Obama

* - Some quotes may be "fake but accurate..."


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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Not stimulus, reparations

Arnold Kling:
Why is the stimulus bill so filled with non-stimulus while it omits real stimulus measures, such as cutting payroll taxes?

I think the answer is that it is a reparations bill, not a stimulus bill. People who pay income taxes tend to vote Republican. People who live off taxes tend to vote Democratic. To the Democrats, the Bush tax cuts were a heinous evil, comparable to Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality in World War I. Now, they are demanding reparations, with hundreds of billions of dollars to be paid into teachers unions and other members of the coalition that won the election.

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We need someone to stand up and say this now

(Interesting [but not surprising] that Phil Donahue is apparently incapable of understanding it...)

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Another country heard from

At the Atlantic, Conor Clarke had a question and answer with Harvard economist Robert Barro on the "stimulus" bill.
The last thing is just about the stimulus bills as it stands. Two things here. One thing is what do you think about the ratio of spending to tax relief in the bill. And the second is, if you judge it by Larry Summers standard -- that stimulus be temporary, timely and targeted -- does it clear the bar?

This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s. I don't know what to say. I mean it's wasting a tremendous amount of money. It has some simplistic theory that I don't think will work, so I don't think the expenditure stuff is going to have the intended effect. I don't think it will expand the economy. And the tax cutting isn't really geared toward incentives. It's not really geared to lowering tax rates; it's more along the lines of throwing money at people. On both sides I think it's garbage. So in terms of balance between the two it doesn't really matter that much.

Harvard economists have, of course, been wrong before. And will be again. But it doesn't seem likely that he's wrong this time...

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Truck Day!

One of the big days on the sporting calendar arrives, as the equipment truck leaves Boston for Fort Myers...


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Viva stimulus...

"Are you an economy with performance issues?"

"Stimulus has many active ingredients but they are poorly understood by economists. Side effects may include hyper-inflation, stagnation, dollar devaluation, earmarks, excessive debt, bankruptcy, loss of jobs, growth of welfare state, expansion of nanny state..."

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Not everyone agrees

Great ad from the Cato Institute...

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

These are the good old days

For fans of the Boston professional sports teams, these really are the good old days. They awoke Monday morning with each of their four teams as one of the favorites to win the next championship in the respective sports.

Celtics - 2.5:1 to win the 2009 NBA Championship (T2 [w/Cavaliers behind Lakers])
Bruins - 5:1 to win the 2009 Stanley Cup (3rd [behind Sharks, Red Wings])
Red Sox - 8.5:1 to win the 2009 World Series (4th [behind Yankees, Angels, Cubs])
Patriots - 8:1 to win the 2010 Super Bowl (1st)

Will any of them win it all? Who knows? But right now, they are all not just competitive, but competitive at a Championship level.

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Quote of the day

"Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs. I don't think that we can go fast enough to stop that..."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, idol of much of the "Bush is a moron" crowd.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Quote of the day

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, on Tom Daschle's "disappointing" failure to pay taxes on a quarter-million dollars of income over the past few years: "I can see why liberals don't mind if the tax rate goes up because they're not going to pay it anyway."


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Sunday, February 01, 2009

(Plausibly) Live(via DVR)-blogging Super Bowl XLIII

10:09 - Boy, that looked like the ball was still in his hand when the arm started forward to me. But my opinion doesn't count. What a disgusting finish to a revolting game. Ugh.

10:07 - Arizona uses its last timeout. They've got 15 seconds to go 44 yards. The outlook is bleak. But if there's anyone in the game right now more likely to catch a Hail Mary than Larry Fitzgerald, I don't know who it might be. Two plays to go.

10:03 - Barring a miracle, this is the second consecutive Super Bowl with an absolutely sickening ending.

9:59 - Roethlisberger hits Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Except the ball goes through his hands. On second down, Roethlisberger hits Santonio Holmes in the other corner of the end zone for a touchdown. And this time, he catches the ball. And gets his toes down. So the Cardinals will have one more chance with about 30 seconds, needing a touchdown.

9:58 - And an Arizona defensive back falls and Santonio Holmes takes the ball down inside the five. Pittburgh takes its last timeout with 49 seconds remaining. The possibility of a tie doesn't look as strong as it did just one play ago.

9:56 - Pittsburgh moves into Arizona territory and takes a timeout, probably only about 20 yards from field goal range, with 1:02 to go. A tie looks like a real strong possibility.

9:55 - 3rd and 6, 1:56 to go. And Roethlisberger hits Holmes to move the chains.

9:53 - The Steelers scramble to get a play off before the two minute warning and almost have a pass picked off. They probably would have been better off letting the clock expire and trying to get off a good play instead of scrambling.

9:51 - Pittsburgh starts at its own 22 with 2:30 to go, needing only a field goal for a tie, or a touchdown for a win. Can the Cardinal defense stand up one more time?

9:48 - Warner. Fitzgerald. 64 yards. Arizona 23, Pittsburgh 20. So the drive took two plays and 16 seconds. Wow. Just wow. Go Cards!

9:48 - Incomplete pass. 2nd and 10.

9:46 - So it comes down to this. Can Arizona go 64 yards in 2:53?

9:44 - And they did. Wow. But wait! Holding! In the end zone! Safety. Arizona gets the ball back on a free kick down just four.

9:43 - That's as close to a safety as I've ever seen a non-safety be. If it wasn't a safety. So it's third and 10, inside the one. If the Steelers pick up the first down, it's one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history.

9:40 - Great punt, downed inside the one. And then a half the distance personal foul. But the ball appears to be tickling the one as the Steelers are snapping it, instead of ticking the goal line like it should be.

9:38 - Warner's lucky that Polamalu didn't just end this game. One of the things that Arizona cannot have now is a pick with open field in front of the picker.

9:37 - Down to the 26. Arizona can't worry about this, but I can - if they score, they're going to score too soon. That holding call may be a killer, though.

9:35 - Dumb penalty there, Ike Taylor. Don't worry, that 15 yards you just gave the Cardinals can't POSSIBLY hurt.

9:33 - PepSuber? Pepsi's new marketing strategy (after changing its logo to more closely match the Messiah-in-Chief's) is clearly to associate its drinks with losers. Let me know how that works out for ya...

9:31 - And Roethlisberger goes down. This 3rd and 16 is a huge play. Can the Cardinals stop them? Yes! Well short of the first down, the Steelers have got to punt the ball right back with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. This is anybody's ball game. The bad punt takes a good bounce, and the Cardinals will take the field needing to go 75 yards to win.

9:28 - From that last angle, I'm not certain that Fitzgerald had possession of the football before it touched the ground. It probably would not have been overturned, and that's a rule that commentators always are forceful about while contradicting what was said the week before, so I'm not certain whether it was a catch or not, but it was a lot closer to not being a catch than it looked from the end zone shots.

9:26 - And the Cardinal offense marches right down the field. 20-14, with plenty of time left. Larry Fitzgerald is a monster.

9:15 - The Arizona defense has not given up, forcing a three and out and returning the ball to the Cardinal offense. It's not over yet.

9:11 - Drive that loses yardage is followed by a 27 yard punt. "If you're going to go down," they seem to have decided, "you might as well go down badly."

9:05 - The third quarter ends with Pittsburgh up by 13. If Arizona takes the ball down the field and scores a touchdown, we may have some more competitive play. If not - well, it hasn't been a complete blowout.

9:00 - NBC ended up selling all of the commercial spots for a record $206 million. I'm thinking that there was a lot of money wasted.

8:56 - The penalty almost hurts Pittsburgh, as the second down play nearly results in a long interception return. In the end, all that happened was that an extra minute ran off the clock.

8:53 - And again, as a Cardinal gets tripped and pulled and runs into the holder on Pittsburgh's field goal. The personal foul pulls the field goal off the board and gives the Steelers first and goal from the five.

8:48 - The officials continue to do the Cardinals no favors, as a Steeler drive is extended on a pretty weak roughing the passer call.

8:38 - Arizona fails to do anything on its opening possession of the second, but it does win its second challenge of the game, which means it gets a third. Pittsburgh gets the ball back, and a long touchdown drive won't ice the game, but it will make it very difficult for me to keep blogging Arizona to win.

8:18 - Bruce Springsteen. Depressing. I'm not sure he was ever a great singer, but that was unwatchable. Just painful. (It didn't help that "10th Avenue Freeze-Out" is the worst song on Born To Run, and "Glory Days" is the worst song on anything.) It will be raved about by the kind of people who are bigger Springsteen fans than I*, because they think he can do no wrong, but that was not entertaining.

8:00 - Well, the "no memorable ads" streak ends. But not in a good way. The 3D for Monsters vs. Aliens was horrible. More disappointing, DreamWorks demonstrates, yet again, that they do not understand the target audience. There are two inappropriately scatalogical "jokes" in the ad that would never make it into a Pixar film. Who knows what else is in there? Honestly, do they really think that "brown underwear" jokes are going to draw more viewers than they'll lose? This was one of the big problems with Shrek, too. Dreamworks has yet to make a great animated film, and this is a big part of the reason why.

7:55 - That's as big a turnaround as you'll ever see in a Super Bowl. Arizona had first and goal inside the 5 with 17 seconds left in the first half, all ready to take a lead (or at the very least a tie) into the half. Not only do they not score, the Steelers get a miracle touchdown, and the deficit is 10 at halftime. It's only the first half, but hard to imagine that that won't be the play of the game.

7:35 - Offensive holding killed the Cardinals' first drive. It also killed the Steelers' third drive. An excellent punt return then set the Cardinals up to at least tie the score, but another penalty (illegal chop-block) ended that, forcing them to punt on 4th and 22. The moral of the story? Penalties kill.

7:21 - A 40 yard completion to Boldin sets up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Warner to Ben Patrick. Maybe we'll have a competitive game after all.

7:09 - The big play on that drive was the scramble by Roethlisberger. The Cardinals had a chance to stop the Steelers on 3rd and 10, probably out of field goal range, but they didn't manage to get Roethlisberger down, the drive continued, and they paid. Now 10-0, and it's probably not close again.

7:02 - Through 1 quarter of play: Pittsburgh 3, Arizona 0, Memorable ads 0.

7:01 - The 3-0 score at the end of one obviously doesn't represent the performance difference in the quarter. The Cardinals had one drive which ended quickly. The Steelers had two, and the Cardinals have barely slowed them down. Arizona is fortunate that Tomlin opted to play wuss-ball on that first drive. When Pittsburgh puts it in this time, it'll only be 10-0 instead of 14-0.

6:51 - A promising start to the Cardinals' first drive is immediately nullified by a holding penalty. Arizona is not good enough to overcome big (or many) mistakes.

6:43 - A good challenge by the Arizona Cardinals brings back a called touchdown. This provides immediate benefits as Mike Tomlin takes the 'fraidy-cat approach and settles for the field goal. John Madden and Al Michaels praise the decision. John Madden and Al Michaels were wrong. With that offensive line and running game, that's almost a gimme, and if you miss, Arizona's 99+ yards away. Wuss call, and they may miss those four points later.

* - Bigger Springsteen fans than I are legion, but that's not the same as saying I'm not a Springsteen fan. I love the early stuff - Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, The Wild, The Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Born to Run - all great albums (as is the first half of The River.) I love it. Almost all of it.

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Old Sturbridge Village in the snow

January 31, 2009

The music is "This Is My Father's World" from a CD (from OSV) called The Steeple on the Common, a collection of hymns in tradional New England style using traditional instruments.


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Super Bowl LXIII

Pittsburgh (-6.5) vs. Arizona - I spent a lot of time and energy on the Super Bowl last year, and got the game wrong by 28 points. I'm not spending that long on it this year. I will be rooting for the Arizona Cardinals, and I'd love to see them win. I can't quite bring myself to predict it, though. Certainly, if we use the old "defense wins championships" cliche, the Steelers have to be the pick. As well as the Cardinals defense has played through (most of) the playoffs, Pittsburgh is clearly the better defensive team. The Cardinals have an advantage on offense, but not as large an advantage as the Steelers have on defense.

A Cardinal win would be a big upset but not historic. Certainly not in the top 4 among Super Bowls (Jets-Colts, Patriots-Rams, Giants-Patriots, Giants-Bills). But it would be a surprise. As much as I'd love to see it, I don't see the kind of matchup issues that would cause you to predict it. Arizona isn't a notably physical team, and the Steelers are. Upsets tend to go the other way.

Bottom line - the Steelers have clearly been the better defensive, physical and overall team, and absent compelling reason to think there's a bad matchup, I've got to go with Pittsburgh. Rooting against them all the way...

Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 13

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