Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No hypocrisy here, nosirree...

Q: What do you call a rich lawyer who supported "big insurance" in its efforts to reduce payments to workers who got cancer from working with asbestos?
A: Democratic "dream candidate" for the Senate!
...the Harvard professor also has a potential deadly political sin in her background. Maybe it is the reason President Obama didn’t nominate her to head up the consumer agency. It is not a secret that his administration believed Lizzy couldn’t survive the Senate confirmation process.

One of the Harvard professor’s many well-compensated part-time gigs included consulting for Travelers Insurance...What did Lizzy do to earn $44,000 in compensation from the insurance company? She made it harder for claimants to collect. Warren helped establish the bankruptcy strategy for companies to avoid crushing lawsuits. In short, go bankrupt to avoid paying victims.
It's amusing how often past activities that would cause shrieks of "principled" outrage on the part of the left if found in a Republican candidate's background produce, if found in a Democrat, the sound of crickets...

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Understatement

College Presidents Alarmed Over Obama's Cost-control Plan
President Obama's new plan to force colleges and universities to contain tuition or face losing federal dollars is raising alarm among education leaders who worry about the threat of government overreach. Particularly sharp words came from the presidents of public universities; they're already frustrated by increasing state budget cuts.

...

At Washington, President Mike Young said Obama showed he did not understand how the budgets of public universities work.
Glenn Reynolds observes that "it’s not at all clear that Obama understands how budgets work in general," but I disagree. I think it's quite clear that he has no understanding of budgeting whatsoever.

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A couple of choral introits

Jesus Christ My Sure Defense - 1/22/2012



Strong Son Of God - 1/29/2012

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Spotted on facebook...

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SOTU

Like Mickey Kaus, I didn't watch the Obama Campaign PrimeTime Spectacular! State of the Union Address last night.
I just finished reading Obama’s State of the Union. Didn’t see it. Reactions: 1) Was it as boring to see as it was to read? Because it is really boring to read.
That last part is sure correct - unlike him, I wasn't able to force myself to even read the whole thing.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

"They played a little bit better..."

According to Ravens QB, "they [the Patriots] played a little bit better." But from where I was sitting, that's not the case. I'm still not sure how the Patriots, with Brady playing poorly (in his own words, he "s*cked pretty bad"), with three turnovers to one takeaway, with no TD passes, settling for three field goals, with the defense unable to stop the Ravens on 3rd down in the second and third quarters, managed to come out of that game yesterday with a win.

But they did. And in two weeks, they'll play in the Super Bowl. Again. Against the Giants. Again.

Odds and ends from yesterday's game:
  • I think that there's a world of difference between a "drop" and what happened on the Lee Evans play at the end of the game, and people putting Evans on a par with Billy Cundiff - or worse - are underestimating the contribution of Sterling Moore. Yes, Evans did get both hands on the ball and yes, if he held on the Ravens would have won the game. But he never had an opportunity to put the ball away, as the ball was hit by the defender as he was trying to establish control. A little more credit to Moore and less blame to Evans is appropriate than what I've heard and read.
  • There is no excuse, however, for Cundiff.
  • Did Terrell Suggs play?
  • I did not realize, until they talked about it during the game yesterday, that Bernard Pollard was the Houston defender who tackled Wes Welker on the play in 2009 on which Welker tore up his knee. Pollard was, of course, the safety for the Kansas City Chiefs whose low tackle tore up Tom Brady's knee. And then, in the 3rd quarter of yesterday's game, he took down Rob Gronkowski, landing on and twisting his ankle in such a fashion that Gronkowski had to leave the game. Thankfully, he returned. But I don't want to see the Patriots playing against Pollard ever again...
  • That was a poor performance from the Patriots quarterback yesterday. The biggest surprise from the game may be that they're going to Indianapolis despite Brady, rather than because of him.
  • It wasn't just the picks. One of the most blatant mistakes came early, as Brady missed Gronkowski for a TD in the first quarter. Instead, they ended up settling for 3, and it affected everything that followed.
  • He's lucky that walked off the field after his diving sneak TD, when Ray Lewis put his helmet into Brady's spine while he was upside down. (And well after the TD had been scored...)
  • The best player on the field yesterday may have been Vince Wilfork. The Ravens couldn't block him.
The Giants go on to Indianapolis on the strength of not one but two blown punt returns by the 49ers - a muff in the fourth quarter that led to a NY touchdown, and a fumble in OT that gave NY the ball in field goal position (which they'd shown no likelihood of reaching on their own.)

And the number of replays of the David Tyree helmet catch that we're all going to see over the next two weeks is appalling to contemplate...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eugenics Rising...

A couple of different, and very disturbing, recent news stories.

Decision blasts judge’s order to force abortion
In a December hearing, the Department of Mental Health applied for temporary guardianship for the parents of the 32-year-old woman — referred to as “Mary Moe” — to let them consent to an abortion for their daughter, who already had one child currently in their care.

Harms approved guardianship, ruling Moe could be “ ‘coaxed, bribed, or even enticed ... by ruse’ into a hospital where she would be sedated and an abortion performed,” the appellate ruling states. “Additionally ... and without notice, the judge directed that any medical facility that performed the abortion also sterilize Moe at the same time to avoid this painful situation from recurring.”
The decision was overturned by the appeals court, but what if the Judges on that court had agreed?

Three-year old with kidney disease kept off transplant waiting list.
I begin to shake. My whole body trembles and he begins to tell me how she will never be able to get on the waiting list because she is mentally retarded.

A bit of hope. I sit up and get excited.

“Oh, that’s ok! We plan on donating. If we aren’t a match, we come from a large family and someone will donate. We don’t want to be on the list. We will find our own donor.”

“Noooo. She—is—not—eligible –because—of—her—quality– of –life—Because—of—her—mental—delays”

...

“So you mean to tell me that as a doctor, you are not recommending the transplant, and when her kidneys fail in six months to a year, you want me to let her die because she is mentally retarded? There is no other medical reason for her not to have this transplant other than she is MENTALLY RETARDED!”

“Yes.”

Ask yourself this question: If more authority to make medical decisions is transferred from parents to Government officials, does the occurrence of this scenario, or scenarios like it, get more common or less common?

I think we all know the answer1 to that...
What we call Man's power is, in reality, a power possessed by some men which they may, or may not, allow other men to profit by. Again, as regards the powers manifested in the aeroplane or the wireless, Man is as much the patient or subject as the possessor, since he is the target both for bombs and for propaganda. And as regards contraceptives, there is a paradoxical, negative sense in which all possible future generations are the patients or subjects of a power wielded by those already alive. By contraception simply, they are denied existence; by contraception used as a means of selective breeding, they are, without their concurring voice, made to be what one generation, for its own reasons, may choose to prefer. From this point of view, what we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.
- C.S. Lewis, The Abolition Of Man2




1 - In a world of scarcity, there is always going to be conflict over allocation of scarce resources. A donor kidney is obviously a scarce commodity. There are many ways to look at this particular issue, and a long discussion that I don't have the time for at the moment. But there's a surface callousness here that, in conjunction with the Massachusetts story, makes the Lewis take fresh and relevant. Again.

2 - And no, I do not scan the internet everyday desperately looking for a story which can, however tenuously, justify quoting The Abolition of Man, or Lewis in general. It was a brilliant and prescient work, clearly articulating the road that society was traveling, and, having read it several times, I'm struck by its foresight frequently...

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"Newtering Obama's re-election strategy"

Milton Wolf has an interesting take on the Bain attacks on Romney from Gingrich and Perry:
President Obama should be very worried by the backlash against these attacks, real or perceived, on free-market capitalism. The White House’s divisive class-warfare strategy of running against free enterprise, against the “1 percent,” was given a test run by Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Perry, and it failed miserably. Not only was Mr. Romney given the opportunity to preview that line of attack and prepare accordingly but, more importantly, the voters soundly rejected it.
Obviously, Republican primary voters do not represent anything like a solid majority of those who will go to the polls in November, but in the long run, I think he's correct - dealing with the attack now, successfully, makes it, if not "old news," at least older news when the President goes negative in the fall.

Which, with no positive record to campaign on and the active aid and comfort of the media-wing of the Democratic Party, he inevitably will...

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Online toy

This Map Tunnelling Tool is very interesting. Want to dig a tunnel through to China? You need to start in Argentina. Or underwater.

What's really interesting is how much of the surface of the earth is covered by water. It's one of those things that you intellectually know, but you don't necessarily realize or visualize from a globe or a map. But almost anywhere on land that you start, if you go straight through, you're coming up in the ocean...

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So Why Read Anymore?

Victor Davis Hanson: So Why Read Anymore?
By nature, our ways of expression and even thinking always fossilize and are withering away with age and monotony — a process accelerated by the modern electronic age and the neglect of replenishment through reading. The actual vocabulary of our present youth seems to me reduced to about 1,000 words or so. “Like,” “whatever,” “you know,” “cool,” and other pop culture fillers now substitute for entire phrases, a sort of modern porcine grunting. The Greeks used particles to accentuate vocabulary and guide syntax; we used them instead of vocabulary. Our syntax, both written and oral, is reverting to “Spot is a dog”: noun, verb, predicate — period. How did incomprehensible slang, spiced with vulgarity, become an object of emulation? I used to listen to farmers without college degrees speak wonderful English; now to listen to a member of Congress almost requires a translator.

Reading alone enriches our vocabulary; it teaches us that good writing requires a sense of melody as well as a command of grammar. Soon those well-read become the well-spoken.

Read it all...

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Reaping what has been sown...

This passage about the Italian cruise ship accident has generated some commentary. (For example, here and here.) Rightfully so...
Fights broke out to get into the lifeboats, men refused to prioritise women, expectant mothers and children as they pushed themselves forward to escape. Crew ignored their passengers – leaving ‘chefs and waiters’ to help out.

In heart-rending footage, recorded on mobile phones, British children could be heard shouting ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mummy’ in the melee.

As she waited for a flight home from Rome, grandmother Sandra Rogers, 62, told the Daily Mail: ‘There was no “women and children first” policy. There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboats. It was disgusting.’
It's not, obviously, a laughing matter. On the other hand, in a world in which men have been belittled and ridiculed for any and all characteristics that are stereotypically (that is to say, fundamentally, "male"), where we are constantly harangued and hectored to believe that any differences between men and women are just "societally imposed gender constructs," a world in which fathers are considered irrelevant and marriage is simply about tax breaks for sexual partners, what reason is there for a man to step aside and let the women and children have the lifeboats? The "women and children first" mentality is part of a moral code that has been relentlessly attacked in by the post-modern intelligentsia of the last half century. It's connected to traditional gender roles and traditional marriage, and the post-modern world in which we live has decided that we have no need of those things; that those things are archaic constructs with no utility in our new societies.

Unintended. Consequences.

Again, I go back to C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man. The first lecture, Men Without Chests, ends with this passage:
And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

AFC Championship Game Pre-Preview

On Sunday afternoon, the New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots are the early favorites, which probably shouldn't surprise me, but does.

But there are more than a few numbers that suggest that they should be. And I'll share those later this week...

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Santorum: Romneycare "disqualifies" Romney

As quoted by Katrina Trinko at The Corner.
But, in his appearance on Fox News Sunday this morning, he also disputed that it was the “social conservative” vote that was splintering, saying “a lot of conservatives have concerns about Gov. Romney’s record on the economy, and obviously, Romneycare is a real scarlet letter here.”

“We can’t have a nominee,” Santorum continued, “that takes away the most important issue in this election, which is an explosion of the federal government and robbing of people’s freedom on the federal level with Obamacare, and Romneycare, which was the predecessor to Obamacare, just disqualifies him in his ability to go out and aggressively go after this top-down approach to health care.”
While I don't agree that it "disqualifies" him, I've made clear on several occasions that I believed it would prevent Romney from winning the Republican nomination. What that position assumed, of course, was that someone else would show up who could win it.

That's clearly not happened. That's clearly not going to happen. So, since I haven't commented recently on this, let's get this out there now.

The race for the Republican nomination for the Presidency is over. Mitt Romney is going to be the candidate. Huntsman, who was never a viable candidate, is gone. Ron Paul is not a viable candidate. Newt Gingrich is not a viable candidate. Rick Santorum is not a viable candidate. And Rick Perry, who looked like a viable candidate when he entered the race, has been a dreadful candidate. Yes, they still have to have primaries, and count votes, and add up delegates. But it's all mechanical now. The race is over; Mitt's won.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Obviously, I'm rooting for the Patriots tomorrow, but...

I can't help but root for Tim Tebow, too.
Zack McLeod is Tim Tebow's kind of player — and man. And vice-versa.

The 20-year-old former high school football player won't snag any touchdown throws from his hero Saturday at Gillette Stadium when the Denver Broncos' on-field miracle-worker challenges the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional playoff game. But McLeod just may catch a pass — and more compassion and love than he ever imagined.

As kickoff approaches, Tebow will do what he always does at pressure-packed times — give of himself. The 24-year-old quarterback will spend a few moments with McLeod , who suffered a traumatic brain injury playing football in 2008. They plan to meet on the sidelines as part of the Tebow Foundation's Wish 15 program that grants requests for young people with serious medical issues.

"When we told Zack (this week), he just screamed, 'Nooooo waaaay!' " says his father, Pat McLeod, who along with his wife, Tammy, work as Harvard University chaplains. " We are hoping Tim will throw him a pass. Zack still has great hands."

One thing is for sure: Tebow will hug McLeod.
It's always hard to be sure how much truth there is in what you read in the paper. But this is a story that I know about, and we've known that Zack was going to meet Tim since earlier in the week, when Pat posted the news on Zack's CaringBridge Journal. Despite the damage he suffered nearly four years ago, Zack lights up a room when he enters it, and I'm sure that Tim Tebow will enjoy meeting him nearly as much as Zack enjoys meeting Tim.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Odds and ends...

A couple of sports topics...
  • I watched very little college football this year, and none with either LSU or Alabama. Until last night. My reaction to what I saw of the BCS National Championship game is bewilderment as to how that LSU team could possibly have entered the game undefeated. Alabama may have the best defense in the history of defence - it still wouldn't justify the ineptitude of what I saw from the LSU offense last night.
  • Congratulations to Barry Larkin, who deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I think it's surprising that he's the only one, though. It looks like Jack Morris is going to make it in (mistake) and that Mark McGwire isn't (mistake). And I'd love to know why the people not voting for Tim Raines aren't voting for Tim Raines. If they're leaving his name off because of cocaine allegations in the mid-80s, well, that's their right (though there are a lot of users in already). If it's because they think he wasn't good enough, that's not right. Because he was.
  • I'm a little bit surprised (bewildered?) by the response from some quarters that the return of Josh McDaniels to the Patriots coaching staff this week somehow gives New England an unfair advantage, and should have been prevented by the league. What would that advantage consist of how? How would it manifest itself? I don't see it...
  • I don't trust the Patriots defense. At all. At the same time, the AFC team that I was most scared of was Pittsburgh, and they're gone. I said a week ago that I wouldn't be surprised if the won the Super Bowl and I wouldn't be surprised if they lost their first game. Well, I now would be surprised if they lost their first game. Not that Denver isn't capable of winning in New England (or, more accurately, that New England isn't capable of losing to Denver) but I don't expect them to.
  • Yes, the Packers put up the best record in football. Yes, they beat the Giants in New York not too long ago. Yes, they should be favored at home this weekend. But, while it would be an upset, it would not be a shocking upset if the Giants were to win in Lambeau on Sunday.
  • Would it even be a surprise if New Orleans won in San Francisco? Yes, they've been a lot better at home than on the road, and the 49ers are an outstanding defensive team. Still, I'm not sure that the Saints aren't the best team in football right now, and I don't think the 49ers can score enough to stay with them.
  • Which units are going to score more in Baltimore - the Ravens and Texans offenses, or the Ravens and Texans defenses?

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Monday, January 09, 2012

"Liberty Enlightening The World"

A couple of pictures from my weekend...








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Exactly right

Once and future Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was the head coach who drafted him, on Tim Tebow, quoted in Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column:
There're going to be doubts about him. Great doubts -- and I understand that. Some people don't think he has the natural traits of a great quarterback. Here's what I think: Do Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods swing the club the same way, hit irons the same way? No. But they both win tournaments. There's different ways to throw, different mechanics, and you can still get the job done.
I hadn't seen that before, and I love it. It's a great analogy. There are certain physical characteristics and abilities that you'd love for your quarterback to have, and Tebow is lacking in some of them. But there's so much more to the position than that. The ranks of the physically ideal "robo-QBs" who fail are legion. There's room for a few that aren't perfect to succeed.

And it (not surprisingly) echoes his former and current boss Bill Belichick, in an anecdote that I love and think speaks volumes.
"I remember sitting in a meeting with Bill that first year in Cleveland and the scouts were going around explaining what this guy does wrong and what this other guy does wrong and on and on. It was all criticism. And Bill said, 'Stop telling me what this guy does wrong. I want to know what he does well. Let's focus on that, and I won't even worry about the rest of it. We just won't ask him to do those things.'

"And you can see he still does that. Everyone else seems to be looking for the perfect player, and he's just the opposite. He says, 'Find out what they do well, we'll use them in that situation for 20 snaps and be thrilled with it.'"

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Is Roethlisberger really the "ultimate team player"?

At ESPN.com, John Clayton engages in question-begging...
Credit Roethlisberger with being courageous and for being the ultimate team player by staying on the field with an injury that would sideline most players.

Here's the question that he begs - is a one-legged Ben Roethlisberger actually better than a two-legged Charlie Batch? Or is he actually demonstrating that he's the ultimate "me-first" player, gathering plaudits and accolades for being tough and "courageous" while hurting his team? After all, if he doesn't go out and play quarterback, they don't forfeit - they don't automatically lose or go home for the season. The next guy in line goes out to play, and the next guy in line is an actual real live professional NFL quarterback. Obviously, if he were better than a two-legged Roethlisberger, he'd be the starter, not the backup, but equally obviously, the team is paying him money to play quarterback in the event that Roethlisberger gets hurt. Well, Roethlisberger's hurt. And, since he got hurt, bad.

Of course, it's Mike Tomlin's decision, in the end. But praising Roethlisberger for being "the ultimate team player," means assuming that a) the team has a better chance with Roethlisberger hurt than Batch healthy and b) no other NFL QB would be willing to play with a bad ankle sprain. Both assumptions are questionable at best.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Turnabout is fair play...

(or Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better...)

Consider two sets of New England Patriots/Buffalo Bills football games:
  • During the week before the first game of the 2003 football season, the New England Patriots cut safety Lawyer Milloy. He signed with Buffalo, and the Bills, led by Milloy and former Patriots' QB Drew Bledsoe, beat the Patriots 31-0. In week 17, the Patriots returned the favor, beating Buffalo 31-0 for their twelfth straight win.
  • In week 3 of the 2011 season, the Patriots jumped out to a 21-0 lead in Buffalo before a defensive meltdown led to a 34-31 loss. Today, the Patriots allowed Buffalo to score the first 21 points before putting up 49 straight in a blowout win.
Question: Is Bill Belichick enough of an evil genius to have intentionally coached his team to a 21-0 deficit in today's game, in a diabolical display of oneupsmanship?

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