Saturday, October 31, 2009

Loyola shuts out...

...St. Patrick, 30-0; Maine South beats Oak Park, 28-14; and Hononegah defeats St. Charles East, 26-7.

It was Glenbrook South... a thriller over Notre Dame last night, 28-27, at John Davis Field in Glenview. Senior running back and Harvard-bound Michael Hirsch ran for two touchdowns and caught a third on a 4th down play with just over four minutes remaining in the game. The Titans will face Proviso West next week after the No.13-seeded Panthers shut out No. 4 Taft, 46-0. Elsewhere in 8A, No. 2 Stevenson knocked out New Trier, 28-7, and will now play the winner of the Simeon-Mt. Carmel game.

In 7A, No. 8-seed Marian Catholic upset No. 1 Bogan, 49-6, for the right to play the victor of the St. Rita-Plainfield North game tonight. No. 2 Wheaton-Warrenville South crushed St. Laurence, 61-6, and No. 3 Minooka beat Edwardsville, 44-25.

In 6A, No. 2 Providence rolled over Harlan, 41-7.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hard to believe...

...but if the S&P finishes higher today it would make the eighth straight monthly gain.

As usual, Ezra Klein...

...sums it up well:

According to the budget wonks, the House's health-care reform bill costs a bit less than $900 billion, cuts the deficit by more than $100 billion, and covers 96 percent of legal residents by 2019. Not too shabby.

David Brooks inquires today...

...about President Obama's level of commitment to the war in Afghanistan. I think a better question would be about the American public's level of commitment. After all, Obama could be in office for as little as three more years. (He could be followed by an even more dovish president.) The American public, on the other hand, will be here forever. And, as we experienced in Vietnam, Americans have only so much patience for kids coming home in body bags. We're just not a warlike people. To paraphrase Chief Wild Eagle of the Hekawis from the old F Troop series, "We're consumers, not fighters."

Brooks says that most military experts believe this war is winnable. But when you think about it, almost any war is winnable, if you're willing to keep at it for 50 or 100 years, like John McCain famously said in the last election. Heck, Vietnam was probably winnable from a military standpoint, but we'd still be there now with probably no end in sight. A war has to be weighed against the costs, and it could take 50 or 100 years to build an Afghan nation. Who has the patience for that? Who would be willing to sacrifice their kids' lives for that?

Here's a better piece on the subject of Afghanistan.

At Intrade...

...the chance that a health care bill with a public option passing by year's end just jumped to 13%. But that's still less than the 19.5% chance for the "USA and/or Israel to execute an overt Air Strike against Iran by 30 Jun 2010."

I lost a lot of faith in Intrade during the last election cycle. If anything, it was a good argument for inefficient markets. But this seems really out of whack.

Loyola head coach...

...John Holecek, a former NFL linebacker, said Bruce Gaston, St. Rita’s 6-4, 300-pound defensive lineman, is ‘‘the closest thing to an NFL player that you will ever see in high school.’

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stuart Rothenberg has an interesting take...

...on NY-23:

In fact, Democrats might be better off were Hoffman to win the special election in New York. Yes, that outcome would prevent Democrats from expanding their House majority, but a Hoffman win might embolden the Club for Growth and encourage conservatives to take on other Republicans who aren't entirely pure. And encouraging a bigger GOP civil war is something that could help Democrats win more than a single additional seat in the House.

Stay tuned.

Here's something that...

...I just don't get. Both the Senate and House bills will include a public option of some sort. The Democrats seem to have the wind at their backs. And yet at Intrade, the chance that a bill with a public option passing by December 31 are only 7.9%. What am I missing?

Dick Cheney is now backing...

...Kay Bailey Hutchison in her bid for governor of Texas. He's even going to campaign for her. I can only imagine what she must be thinking. Quit helpin' me, boy.

It's taking me a while... get caught up from my Big Football Weekend, but I finally watched (almost) all of my Sunday morning talk shows. There was a lot of buzz about Dick Cheney's comment that "The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger." Cheney made this remark after accepting an award from the Center for Security Policy, whoever they are.

The first thing I noticed from the clip was the cast of characters present. Among others, I could make out Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, and Scooter Libby (a convicted felon, who was also given an award). It was a veritable rogues' gallery!

Secondly, Dick Cheney--of all people--should not be giving advice to anyone about anything. This is the same guy who's been wrong on just about everything for the last nine years. Even George Bush stopped listening to him by the second term! Cheney could be thought of as the "George Costanza of American policy." You'd probably be okay just doing the opposite of whatever he advises.

Third quarter GDP...

...will be released this morning at 8:30 Eastern time. The consensus among experts is for a gain of between 2 and 4 percent. This would be the first positive number since the second quarter of 2008. Expect the White House to be all over the news, trumpeting a recovery, and the Republicans (and Fox) to be spinning it negatively somehow (where are the jobs?). In the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn't mean a whole lot. But Washington and the media will be buzzing about it all weekend, especially on the Sunday morning talk shows.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In a new poll from CNN...

...Mike Huckabee is leading the pack for the Republican nomination in 2012 with 32%, Sarah Palin follows with 25%, Mitt Romney with 21%, Tim Pawlenty with 5%, and undecided 15%. In the same poll, 7 in 10 Americans think Palin isn't ready for the White House. So if she decides not to run and Huckabee picks up most of her support (which isn't unreasonable), the former governor of Arkansas would be the front-runner to challenge President Obama. Remember, this is a guy who believes in the biblical story of creation.

So if Huckabee runs against Obama, will he do better or worse than Goldwater?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TPaw continues to dig his own...

...grave, this time by endorsing Doug Hoffman in the 23rd Congressional District race in New York. (As recently as last week, Pawlenty said that he hadn't "been following that.") I figured he deserved a Mulligan for opposing Obama's speech to schoolchildren last month, but now he's thrown in his lot with the tea party wing of the Republican Party. (Translation: Stick a fork in him.) Even if he should somehow miraculously win the nomination in 2012, he would go down in flames in the general election. (Maybe TPaw is positioning himself as the conservative running mate for Mitt Romney, in which case he's not so dumb.)

Romney, who has never been known as a Profile in Courage, has declined to endorse either candidate in the race. Surprised? Mike Huckabee, oddly, hasn't either. Is he making a bid to look more mainstream? Newt Gingrich, who has endorsed the GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava, will turn out to be the big winner here in the end. That's because no matter who wins, the Republicans need to move to the center to survive as a credible party. I still wouldn't count out the former Speaker in 2012, especially in such a weak field.

The Wall Street Journal... has the highest paid circulation of any American newspaper, at just over two million. It rose last year by 0.6 percent in a year when overall newspaper circulation declined by more than 10%. That's quite an accomplishment; hats off to them. But I wonder, how many of those subscribers would still get The Journal if they couldn't write it off as a business expense?

The first round of the playoffs...

...begin for me on Friday night at 7pm when the Glenbrook South Titans host the Dons of Notre Dame. After breakfast with a friend on Saturday morning it's off to Sachs Stadium in Wilmette to watch the Loyola Ramblers take on the Shamrocks of St. Patrick at 1pm. Then, if I'm feeling up to it, I'll make the drive down to the South Side and watch St. Rita and their star running back, Jahwon Akui, against Plainfield North at 7pm. That oughta do it.

Forget the elections for governor... Virginia and New Jersey. The important races to watch are for the 23rd Congressional District in New York and the Florida Republican primary for the U. S. Senate.

Bob McDonnell, the Republican, is pretty much a lock to beat Creigh Deeds, the Democrat, for governor of Virginia. And in New Jersey it's a toss-up between the incumbent Democrat, Jon Corzine, and the Republican, Chris Christie. Whatever happens, don't read too much into the results of these races. As for the Florida primary, Charlie Crist is fending off a challenge from the more conservative Marco Rubio. This is an important race to be sure, but the primary isn't until August, 2010.

So that leaves the Congressional race in New York on November 3. It's for the soul of the Republican Party. But it could also have implications for the two-party system, at least for the near future. If the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman, outpolls the Republican Dede Scozzafava--even in a losing effort--it will be a victory for the Sarah Palin wing of the GOP. It will also paint the Republicans further into an ideological corner. If Scozzafava wins, it will be a victory for Newt Gingrich and the more pragmatic wing of the party. And if the Democrat in the race, Bill Owens, should win in a traditionally safe seat for the GOP, it would be a huge loss for both. (A Democrat hasn't represented this district since the 19th century, although Obama carried it in 2008.)

It might sound like a really obscure race, but political junkies will be reading the tea leaves very carefully.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The New York Yankees...

...made the World Series for the first time in six years. Good for them. But their team payroll is over $200 million. That's more than twice the Major League average. Shouldn't they make the World Series every year?

Physicians for a National Health Program... an organization calling for a single-payer system such as the one in Canada, or if you prefer, Medicare for all. It has a nifty Web site that explains, answers questions, and debunks myths about a single-payer system. It's worth a look if you have any interest in the subject. A good place to start is the Frequently Asked Questions.

I'm not waiting...

...for Steve Tucker. In 6A, Providence will defeat Cary-Grove for the title.

In 7A, Steve Tucker has...

...Wheaton Warrenville South beating Glenbard West in the finals. Again, hard to argue with that. But he has the Tigers defeating St. Rita in the third round and I just don't see the Mustangs getting that far without a healthy Jahwon Akui. They were not that impressive against Loyola this weekend. We'll see. Also, Tucker picks Marian Catholic to upset No. 1-seeded Bogan in the first round. Gutsy. Finally, he has the Hononegah Indians losing in the first round to St. Charles East. Could be. (I don't know anything about either team but I'm naturally drawn to a school with a name that I can't pronounce and a politically-incorrect nickname like the Indians.)

Oh, and for you Glenbrook South fans, Minooka is the No. 3-seed in their bracket. They will have the misfortune of having to play East St. Louis. But it's good to see that the Titans scheduled two good non-conference opponents this year (Stevenson being the other one).

Steve Tucker of the Sun-Times...

...has Maine South defeating Bolingbrook in the 8A final. It's hard to argue with that, but what's up with Glenbrook South getting beat in the first round by Notre Dame? Tucker also has Loyola losing to Maine South in the semis after beating Stevenson in the third round. I know the Ramblers are hitting their stride at just the right time and are much improved over last year, but the Patriots are undefeated and look awfully strong to me. I see them facing the Hawks in the semis instead. In any event, I will be in attendance at any game that features Maine South, Loyola, or Stevenson after the second round.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To recap Week 9... Illinois high school football, Brother Rice beat Fenwick, 28-21; Providence put away Mt. Carmel, 17-14; Glenbrook South bested Evanston, 35-14; Maine South over New Trier, 28-14; and Loyola topped St. Rita, 17-7.

In Class 8A, Fremd (9-0) will host Naperville North (5-4); Maine South (9-0) will take on Oak Park (5-4); Glenbrook South (7-2) will play Notre Dame (6-3); Stevenson (9-0) will face New Trier (5-4); Mt. Carmel (6-3) will play at Simeon (7-2); and Sachs Stadium will be the setting for the Loyola (8-1) St. Patrick (5-4) game.

In 7A, St. Rita (7-2) will play Plainfield North (7-2) and in 6A, Providence (8-1) will take on Harlan (6-3).

Friday, October 23, 2009

For those of you...

...who are not political junkies (translation: you have lives), there will be a special election for the 23rd Congressional District of New York on November 3. It will be held to replace Republican John McHugh, who resigned to become U. S. Secretary of the Army. Although it has generally been a safe seat for the GOP, the emergence of a third party candidate has cast some doubt on the outcome. It has also brought some interesting dynamics to the fore.

The three candidates are Democrat (translation: sacrificial lamb) Bill Owens, who has been endorsed by President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and U. S. Senator Chuck Schumer (yawn); Republican Dierdre Scozzafava (never mind that name for now), who has been endorsed by House Majority Leader John Boehner, the NRA, Texas Representative Jeb Hensarling, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and the Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas (?); and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, who has been endorsed by the Club for Growth, former U. S. Senator and presidential candidate Fred Thompson, religious right leader Gary Bauer, the New York State Right to Life PAC, Michelle Malkin, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, former Republican House Leader Dick Armey, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin. (Whew! That was a long sentence.)

Apparently, Scozzafava is seen by some as insufficiently conservative, and therefore unworthy of their endorsement. So the two conservatives in the race may end up splitting the Republican vote and thus throwing the election to Owens, the Democrat. This has many in the GOP upset, and is an example of the tension between those in the party who want to remain ideologically pure and those who want to move to the center. It should also determine winners and losers among those endorsing either candidate.

Keep your eye on this race; it means a lot more than you might think. Which is why I find it curious that Tim Pawlenty has declined to endorse either candidate. He claims he hasn't been following it. Huh? This guy wants to be the Republican standard-bearer for 2012 and he can't make up his mind about the most important election facing his party at the moment? Mark my words: this is a big test for TPaw.

Soupy Sales is dead... age 83. And if you think that's a bad name, just consider his real one, Milton Supman.

Oh, and his obituary mentions that his parents owned a dry-goods (as opposed to wet ones?) store in Franklinton, N. C. They sold sheets to the Ku Klux Klan. How would you like to be remembered for that?

Los Angeles may be close... building a new stadium in an effort to attract an NFL franchise. The list of possible Relos includes the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams, the Minnesota Vikings, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Buffalo Bills, and the San Francisco 49ers. The most likely candidate is thought to be the Chargers.

A few last minute words...

...on the Loyola-St. Rita game. Last year, the Ramblers shut out the Mustangs, 24-0, at St. Rita. Even though both teams are headed for the playoffs, the South Siders will be spoiling for revenge tomorrow. Jahwon Akui is reported to be "begging" coach Kuska to play, despite his injury.

And in the Trib, there's a nice piece about Loyola head coach John Holecek, a former Marian Catholic and Fighting Illini star who played middle linebacker in the NFL from 1995 through 2002. He's in his fourth season with the North Siders and has improved on his record every year.

This should be an apocalyptic battle for the ages between two Catholic Blue powers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Loyola-St. Rita game will all hinge...

...on whether or not Mustangs' running back Jahwon Akui is healthy enough to play. The 5'5" junior suffered a high ankle sprain in St. Rita's lone loss of the season against Providence. In the first six games, Akui rushed for almost 1,400 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He should be healthy enough to play, but coach Todd Kuska may decide to rest him for the playoffs anyway (which is what I would advise, although my phone hasn't rung just yet). If so, Travis Starks has shown that he can step in as an effective replacement, as he ran for 89 yards and two touchdowns last week against St. Ignatius. (He also fumbled twice, Loyola fans.) Starks is also a threat on kickoffs as he demonstrated with a thrilling 85-yard return for a TD against Mt. Carmel.

Even if Loyola can stop St. Rita's running game, they still have to contend with senior quarterback Robert Gallick. He can throw to Starks coming out of the backfield or wide receivers Kyle Jachim and Mitchell Saffold, or platooning tight ends Tim Gorski and Joe Nash. This is all behind the formidable offensive line of Tim Ladd (6'3", 280-pounds), Jake O'Dea (5'11", 250), John Sheahan, Brian Lurquin, and Thomas Hitz. The Mustangs' kicker, Chris Donahue, has been inconsistent this season.

On the defensive side of the ball, St. Rita boasts senior lineman Bruce Gaston (6'3", 310), who has been recruited by several Big Ten schools as well as Notre Dame and Arizona. Even in the losing effort against Providence, Gaston had seven tackles and three sacks. Joining him on the line are Dan Connolly and Tom Kimani. The linebacker corps is also strong, with seniors Joe Campagna (6'0", 225) and Ron McNamara (6'3", 215), Ron's brother Will, and sophomore Chris Simms. The Ramblers won't find any relief in St. Rita's secondary, as defensive back Charles Elmor was nominated by the Sun-Times for Player of the Week for his two picks against St. Ignatius. Other Mustangs who have interceptions this season include Michael Parker, Javier Green, Patrick Walsh, Richard Garcia, and Jacob Pikowski (which is the perfect name for a DB).

Originally, I thought that this game would determine the champion of the best conference in the state (Catholic Blue). Providence has since taken that title, although a St. Rita team with a healthy Akui would still be my favorite. Having said all that, I expect the home team Ramblers to win this Saturday in a shoot-out, 34-28. All three teams should go far in the playoffs.

There have been many times...

...when I've disagreed with strategic decisions made by Team Obama. (One that immediately comes to mind is the choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. I just thought it would be a mistake to let her and Bill in the tent.) But time and again, I've been proven wrong. In fact, I can't think of a single decision that Obama has made that hasn't worked out pretty well. So it's with this knowledge that I hope I'm wrong once again when I think that the president and his team are making a mistake by taking on Fox News. I still believe in the old adage, "Don't pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel." (Or is on TV 24/7.) My advice to the White House would be to either ignore Fox (like they did when Obama appeared on five other Sunday morning talk shows recently) or make mild fun of them. For example, Obama had this exchange in an interview with John Harwood of CNBC not too long ago:

OBAMA: It's very hard for me to swallow that one. First of all, I've got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration. I mean, you know, that's a pretty...
HARWOOD: I assume you're talking about Fox.
OBAMA: Well, that's a pretty big megaphone. And you'd be hard pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front.

I would have advised Obama to approach the subject differently, with humor, as in "There is one network that is completely in the tank for me." Harwood, I assume, would then look quizzically at the president. "Fox!" Obama could reply, and then the two of them could share a laugh. The message to the viewer would be clear: Fox isn't in the least objective. I think that would have been a more effective way to make the point, but hey, I'm just a blogger.

So Obama is officially at war with Fox. We'll see how it goes; I hope I'm wrong again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sic transit gloria...


I went downstairs this morning... make my usual toast with peanut butter and I found that a mouse had chewed right through the plastic bag of bread on the counter. This means war!

The lead article in the Times...

...this morning is about the Vatican's bid to convert Anglicans to the Roman church.

The issue has long been close to the heart of Pope Benedict XVI, who for years has worked to build ties to those Anglicans who, like conservative Catholics, spurn the idea of female and gay priests.

First of all, not only have I never heard a good reason to exclude women from the priesthood, but I've never heard any reason. And as for gay priests in the Catholic Church, well, the idea of that is just plain silly.

Female and gay priests. It's 2009; is that really enough to drive someone out of their church? Don't these people have anything else to worry about?

The article goes on to say that:

Under the new arrangement, the Catholic practice that has allowed married Anglican priests to convert and become Catholic priests would continue...Cardinal Levada acknowledged that accepting large numbers of married Anglican priests while forbidding Catholic priests to marry could pose problems for some Catholics.

I think it solves a major problem for the Catholic Church. It sounds to me that if a Catholic priest wanted to marry he could simply convert to the Anglican Church, get married, and then convert back. Beautiful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A word to the wise:

Don't leave the dishwasher open all night as you may wake up to find a mouse in there in the morning. This happened to me today and I wasn't happy about it, especially since I wasn't the one who left the dishwasher open. So because of that (and the fact that I have an irrational fear of rodents), I assigned my wife the task of getting rid of the critter.

"I'll just turn it on. That way he'll drown."

"No, no, no. We don't want a dead mouse in our dishwasher..."

"Well then how do you suggest we get him out of there?"

"I don't know. That's your problem. You should have thought of that when you left the door open all night."

"All right, all right..."

She returned a few minutes later. "Well, did you get him?"

"He was really small; cute actually..."

"Did you get him out of there?"

"Yeah. I opened the door and he just jumped out. Then he disappeared--like Houdini!"

"Well, I'm sure he didn't just disappear. But he's gone; that's the main thing. Just make sure you close the door from now on!"

It's a slow news day...

Bruce Bartlett is rapidly...

...becoming one of my new heroes (he's not obsessively wedded to ideology). In an interview with Money Magazine, he talks about the VAT (value-added tax). He quotes Larry Summers:

We don't have a VAT because liberals think it's regressive and conservatives think it's a money machine. We'll get a VAT when liberals figure out it's a money machine and conservatives figure out it's regressive.

As for that Nobel Peace Prize...

...that Obama won a week or so ago, it reminded me of a story a friend of mine, Jamie, told me recently. He's from the U. K., but is such an admirer of the U. S. that he became an American citizen in the 1990s. He's living abroad again, this time in the Far East. Jamie said that in Europe and Asia, the U. S. was always thought of like an older brother, someone who would protect you from the neighborhood bully. During the Bush-Cheney years, however, the U. S. became the neighborhood bully. But now that Obama is president, people overseas have come to look up to America again. Obama has changed the whole tone of American foreign policy and the U. S. is seen once again as a force for good in the world.

I think that's what the Nobel Committee was trying to say with their award.

I keep seeing this item...

...about the Vatican making it easier for Anglicans to convert. Is this really an issue? Is there some long line of Anglicans just dying to convert to Catholicism? I wonder if the Anglican Church will retaliate by making it easier for Catholics to convert to their religion.

As for me, I'm thinking of relaxing my rules for accepting money from the IRS.

Here's some high praise...

...for Matt Perez.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My game of the week...

...will be No. 5 St. Rita (7-1) at No. 10 (No. 7 in the Sun-Times) Loyola (7-1). The outcome all depends on whether or not the Mustangs' star running back, Jahwon Akui, plays and how effective he is. I will assume that he will not be at 100% and therefore the Ramblers will upset the South Siders. Watch out for St. Rita defensive back, Charles Elmor, who had two interceptions last week, one resulting in a 75-yard touchdown.

In other games, No. 20 Glenbrook South (6-2) will travel to Evanston for a tune-up before the playoffs; No. 1 Maine South (8-0) will venture to New Trier for their ninth victory; and No. 4 Providence (7-1) will host No.17 Mt. Carmel (and hand the Caravan their third loss of the season).

No. 16 Warren (7-1) will be rude hosts to No. 11 Stevenson (8-0) and ruin the Patriots' perfect record; No. 14 Glenbard North (7-1) will be victorious at No.19 Naperville Central (7-1); No. 15 Joliet Catholic (6-2) will defeat visiting Notre Dame; and in the Who Cares? Bowl, Fenwick will play Brother Rice on the South Side.

This just in...

...Loyola Academy defensive end Chance Carter will join his old teammate, Patrick Mulroe, at Northwestern next year. Carter, who didn't play football before high school, chose the Wildcats over Nebraska.

Two quarterbacks from the Chicago area committed as well. Wheaton North's Taylor Graham will be attending Ohio State while Downers Grove South's Chandler Whitmer will be calling signals for the Fighting Illini.

I'm reading a scary book...

...called Next Stop, Reloville: Life Inside America's New Rootless Professional Class, by Peter T. Kilborn. It's a non-fiction piece about corporate nomads and a good book for anyone who is considering a "Relo" or a career as a "Relo."

As the product of that culture, I made a personal decision a long time ago not to participate in it. Although there are many advantages to being a Relo, the costs associated with that lifestyle are huge. This book only reinforces my decision.

There's a review of Next Stop, Reloville in The Wall Street Journal that disputes many of its conclusions, but either way, it's interesting stuff.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No. 1 Maine South defeated...

...No. 20 Glenbrook South, 45-34, on a blustery October afternoon in Park Ridge. The Titans were up by 10 points late in the third quarter, but Hawks running back Matt Perez was just too much for the visitors from Glenview. The Indiana-bound senior rushed for 341 yards, scored 4 touchdowns and accounted for two key sacks in the fourth quarter. It was the 22nd consecutive victory for Maine South and their 43rd in a row against conference opponents.

In other games, No. 5 St. Rita got back on the winning track by defeating St. Ignatius, 27-14; No. 17 Mt. Carmel crushed St. Laurence, 48-7; and Fenwick annihilated Hales, 47-7.

The deficit is now $1.4 trillion...

...according to the lead article in the New York Times this morning. And you know what I say? So what.

The Obama administration said Friday that the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that just ended was $1.4 trillion, nearly a trillion dollars greater than the year before and the largest shortfall relative to the size of the economy since 1945.

Do you remember what happened after 1945? A huge economic expansion. Inflation? Not an issue. Everybody needs to take a deep breath, especially you tea-baggers.

In Friday night football action... was No. 10 Loyola over Gordon Tech, 38-0; No. 4 Providence got past De La Salle, 26-20; No. 15 Joliet Catholic beat Marian Catholic, 28-6; Brother Rice put away Bishop McNamara, 28-6; No. 13 Cary-Grove bested rival No. 16 Crystal Lake South, 28-16; No. 9 Lincoln-Way East made light work of cross-town rival Lincoln-Way Central, 35-12; and No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South made a liar out of me by beating No. 11 Glenbard North, 35-7.

I still think No. 20 Glenbrook South will surprise No. 1 Maine South today; St. Laurence will upset No. 17 Mt. Carmel; Oklahoma will hand Texas their first loss of the season; and Notre Dame will beat the 10-point spread against Southern Cal.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet...

...died Thursday at age 70. She was the founder of the Church Universal and Triumphant.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The best part of this video... the music.

Interest in the Loyola-St. Rita game... reaching a fevered pitch! Rumor has it that fans are flying in next week from as far away as Boston and Minneapolis to witness the Catholic Blue showdown. Since both teams have easy wins on tap for Week 8, let's have a quick look at Head Coach John Holecek's Ramblers, shall we?

Leading the charge on offense is senior quarterback Will Forsyth, who can pass to wide receivers Bryan Luna or Joe Gross, or tight end Rob Wennington (who is the son of former Chicago Bulls center Bill Wennington). When Forsyth isn't passing or running the ball himself, he is usually handing it off to junior Addison "Spencer" Perry, the star running back. Leo Sheridan kicks field goals and PATs, Paul Delaney is the punter, and Dean Tredrick is a threat to return kickoffs.

Anchoring the Rambler defense is Chance Carter, a 6'4", 255-pound defensive end who will almost certainly play Division 1 next year. Pat Dougherty, at outside linebacker, is the other high-profile player on defense. (Dougherty's 5 sacks against Brother Rice earned him a nomination in the Sun-Times for Player of the Week.) The rest of the line includes Derek Wright and Mark Acciari. The defensive backs are Joe Stephens and senior transfer Shujaa Benson, an African-American who is actually from Africa (Tanzania). Others to watch include Jim Bonner, Kyle Guziec, Tom Kelly, Jimbo Ford, and Anthony Fassat.

Next: the Mustangs of St. Rita.

When I was in the recruiting business...

...and placing senior-level finance and accounting professionals, a big selling point was a Big Four background. In other words, if the candidate had started his or her career with one of the Big Four accounting firms, clients would often sit up and take notice.

"...He's got an MBA, a CPA, he's strong in Excel and Access, worked with all the major accounting software systems, has a Big Four background..."

"Did you say Big Four background?"

"Yeah. Uh, let me see...yeah, he started out as an auditor for Pricewaterhouse ten years ago..."

"Send him right over."

Not knowing anything about finance or accounting, I asked my boss what was so impressive about a Big Four background. He explained to me that the Big Four pays better than anyone else out of college and therefore attracts the best talent. Then, the new hires get the best training in the industry and can usually write their own tickets as time goes on. Also, they are usually highly-polished individuals who "come across well" and are known for performing under stressful conditions. Bottom line: the Big Four are the Cadillacs of the industry. Oh.

So it was with this knowledge that I was surprised that PricewaterhouseCoopers would lend its name to the shoddy report published last weekend by AHIP, the trade association for the private health insurance companies. The study was released in a last-ditch effort to derail reform and was roundly criticized as an industry hatchet job. Now I don't really blame the insurance industry; they have shown themselves to be almost devoid of integrity and have nothing to lose in the effort. But Pricewaterhouse is a Big Four company. I know times are tough and I'm sure the fee for the report was fat, but someday the economy is going to come out of this recession and reputations will once again count for something. So why would Pricewaterhouse risk putting their name on such a bad product? When the dust settles, they could be seen as the biggest loser here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I keep seeing an ad...

...on this blog that says "Stop Government-run Health Care." It shows people lined up at the DMV and implies that that is what your doctor's office will look like after health care reform. "Do You Want to Wait over 100 Days to See a Primary Care Physician?" (By the way, I've been to the DMV here recently and it wasn't at all bad.) But even if the U. S. adopted a single-payer system like Canada's (which isn't even under consideration), it would just be Medicare for all. That means that the doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc, would remain private. The only thing that would be "government-run" would be your insurance. Instead of having a private sector bureaucrat who is incentivized to deny you coverage, you would have a government bureaucrat who would be incentivized to move the process along. Ask any senior citizen what he or she thinks of Medicare. Chances are, they are a lot more satisfied with their insurance than you are. Oh, and when is the last time one of your parents had to wait 100 days to get in to see their doctor?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Republicans are starting... cave on health care reform. Now keep your eye on Lindsey Graham. Michael Tomasky writes:

It will be fascinating to see the Republicans' next move. They can count noses as well as Democrats can. Do they start to send signals that they're folding up their tent, or do they dig in their heels now?

I'd love to be the intermediary in the next few weeks between Lindsey Graham, the senior South Carolina GOP senator who probably leans toward the former position, and Jim DeMint, the junior South Carolina GOP senator who certainly will be pressing the latter. But as of this writing, it looks like the Tea Parties may have happened a little too soon.

John Stossel... moving to Fox and he would be one reason to watch that network. He's a free-market libertarian with a good piece out today about Michael Moore. (I'd still like to ask him what he would have done to avert another Great Depression last fall.)

Here's a long...

...and (mostly) boring article by Bruce Bartlett. He was one of the creators of supply-side economics and calls for its quiet burial here. The best part is near the end, where he says:

I really don't understand why conservatives insist on a one-size-fits-all economic policy consisting of more and bigger tax cuts no matter what the economic circumstances are; it's simply become dogma totally disconnected from reality.

I especially like that last phrase, "dogma totally disconnected from reality." The older I get, the more important I think it is to be wary of dogma. The universe is just too complicated.

I saw this book...

...when I was killing time recently and it's hysterical. The author has a blog, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The war in Afghanistan...

...has been going on for eight years now. What do we have to show for it? Here's another good article comparing it to Vietnam.

If you still believe... the power of markets to reflect reality (and I still do), it's instructive to look at the performance of the health insurance stocks since Labor Day. Nate Silver has a good piece on this in his blog, The bottom line is that since the August recess (and all the town hall silliness), the stock prices of the major insurers have dropped 11% while the S&P 500 has rallied 7%. In other words, the health insurance sector has underperformed the broader market by 20% in the last six weeks or so. For those of you unfamiliar with the financial markets, that price action is signaling that meaningful health insurance reform is on the way. The markets are discounting the industry's future profits and thus pricing their shares lower.

Again, if you believe in the forecasting power of the markets (and those with money have put it where their mouths are), then this may be the best predictor of the success of health care reform.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The insurance industry is attacking...

...the Baucus bill in what I assume is a last-ditch effort to head off reform. Since the Baucus bill is considered the insurance industry's bill anyway, they are probably taking a free shot. In this case, there's no downside. (The study was done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers but was paid for by AHIP. One of my old bosses once told me that you never commission a study without knowing the conclusion ahead of time.) The good news, however, is that if AHIP is attacking the legislation, it must be a pretty good bill for the rest of America.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Glenbrook South shuts out...

...Niles West, 54-0, to vault into the Tribune and Sun-Times rankings (No. 20 in both) while No. 1 Maine South crushes Waukegan, 45-0. This sets up next week's big showdown in Park Ridge in which the once-beaten Titans hope to sneak up on the defending state champion Hawks. (Remember, GBS came closer than anyone last year to beating Maine South.)

In other games of note, No. 5 St. Rita should get back on track against St. Ignatius and No. 10 Loyola (No. 7 in the Sun-Times) should have no trouble with Gordon Tech. No. 4 Providence shouldn't underestimate up-and-coming De La Salle and No. 17 Mt. Carmel needs to be very careful with St. Laurence. In fact, I'll pick the Vikings to upset the Caravan in what is shaping up to be a nightmare season for Mt. Carmel.

In the "Who Cares?" column, Fenwick hosts Hales and Brother Rice travels to Bishop McNamara.

Finally, for you true Illinois high school football junkies, there's No. 11 Glenbard North (7-0) hosting No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South (6-1) in what will be my Upset of the Week. Also, two undefeated and bitter rivals will meet as No. 13 Cary-Grove hosts No. 16 Crystal Lake South; No. 15 Joliet Catholic (5-2) travels to (No. 21 in the Sun-Times) Marian Catholic (6-1); and No. 9 Lincoln-Way East (6-1) will be at home against cross-town rival (and No. 25 in the Sun-Times) Lincoln-Way Central (6-1). It's getting to be crunch time now.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In a big upset...

...No. 6 Providence beat No. 2 St. Rita, 10-0. (Jahwon Akui, the Mustangs' star tailback, left the game with a leg injury in the second quarter.) Now who was it that said no one would beat St. Rita? Ouch!

But my Upset of the Week did take place. Unranked Bolingbrook defeated No. 5 Lincoln-Way East, 46-24.

In other games, No. 9 Loyola crushed Fenwick, 31-7, and No. 17 Mt. Carmel got past Brother Rice, 31-21.

John Loori, Zen abbot and photographer,...

...died on Friday at age 78 in upstate New York. In a poorly-written obituary in the New York Times, it says that:

He is to be buried in the cemetery of his Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, where each year a “Hungry Ghost” ceremony honors the dead. In 49 days, according to Buddhist belief, he will be reincarnated. The funeral will be held then, Ms. Goddard said.

Reincarnated? Really? How do they know that? In all of recorded history, has there ever been any evidence of reincarnation? And why 49 days? Why not 48, or 50?

Why do people believe such things? Wouldn't it be enough just to say something like "he died, led a good life, and will be missed by all those who knew and loved him?" Why construct all the rest of that?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Winston Churchill famously said that...

..."If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain."

In my case, I was a conservative (or at least a free-market libertarian) at age 25. And now at age 51, I find myself getting more and more liberal. So what does that mean? I had no heart at age 25 and have no brain now? I wonder. (After a little research, I found out that Churchill may or may not have ever said this. Whatever; it's still a good quote.) But if Lord Winston never actually uttered those words, then I shouldn't feel so bad about editing them. And my edited version would go something like this: "If you're not idealistic when you're 25, you have no ambition. And if you're not realistic by the time you're 50, well're just not realistic." Not as catchy, of course, but maybe more accurate--at least for me.

What got me thinking about all this was David Brooks's column in the New York Times this morning. It's about health care (of course) and essentially talks about the choice between the Baucus bill and no bill at all. The best part of it is:

At this point people like me could throw up our hands and oppose everything. But that’s not what adulthood is about. In the real world, you often don’t get to choose what your options will be. You have to choose from a few bad options. The real health care choice now is between the status quo and the bill primarily authored by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, that is emerging from the Senate Finance Committee.

The key here is that in the real world, you have to deal in real-world solutions, not fantasy-world ones. And in the real world, any solution to the health care crisis must acknowledge the constraints we are all working under. And one of the greatest of these is the private insurance lobby. They are among the most powerful and entrenched players in the current system (and the largest contributor in Washington right now). That's why President Obama (and Max Baucus) wouldn't even bother proposing a single-payer system; it would be a non-starter. And that's also why Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin couldn't get his market-based reform bill anywhere even in the old GOP-controlled Congress. The insurance companies have billions of dollars at stake and will do just about anything to protect their franchise (witness the town halls of August). That's why it should come as no surprise that the public option was voted down in the Finance Committee bill, despite polls showing overwhelming public support for it. What should be surprising is that it is still being talked about at all. And that's a testament to how much it is truly needed. So given this reality, maybe a version of the Baucus bill may be the best we can achieve right now. Besides, it can always be built on later.

And this brings me back to my version of Churchill's famous quote. When I was young, I was idealistic. I started out as a Goldwater Republican, reading The Conscience of a Conservative in high school. I later discovered Ayn Rand and became a classic free-market libertarian. And I really thought it was possible to change the world. When you're young, time seems to stretch out infinitely. Just look at what happened to the Soviet Union! But the overthrow of Communism in Russia took 70 years--and I don't have 70 years. (Even then, it appears to be experiencing some serious backsliding. In fact, the Russia of today more closely resembles the Russia of the Czars than it does the U. S. of our Founding Fathers.) Maybe this world-changing stuff is harder than it looks.

When I turned 50 or so, time began to seem less infinite. Suddenly all of the changes I could foresee at age 25 seemed less and less likely. And the phrase "politics is the art of the possible" sounded more like wisdom than a cop-out. Instead of becoming more "liberal," maybe I've just become more "realistic." We'll probably never have a libertarian society, certainly not in my lifetime. (And maybe that's not such a bad thing anyway.) So maybe it's more realistic to just acknowledge that societies evolve haphazardly and focus more on solving problems rather than waiting for some revolution that will never come.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I think a more market-based... care system would be preferable to what we currently have. Yes, you read that correctly. But I think almost any system would be preferable to no system at all.

So now that we're finally on the verge of enacting health care legislation, it's important to remember that during the 12 years that the Republicans ran Congress (8 of which included the White House), the GOP failed to act. So instead we are about to get a Democratic reform bill, which will still be an improvement.

There's been a fair amount...

...of talk lately that Bill Ayers was the ghostwriter of President Obama's best seller, Dreams from My Father. You remember Bill Ayers. He was the former Weatherman that Sarah Palin was referring to when she said that Obama "palled around with terrorists." Ayers seems to be enjoying the attention and even encouraging the speculation. He should be.

Like a lot of people, I read Obama's book in 2008 and, unlike a lot of people (not surprisingly), I really didn't see what was so great about it. I thought it was a bit of a slog but finished it anyway because of all the hoopla surrounding his candidacy. The book has gotten rave reviews and has sold millions of copies. Good for Obama.

Ayers also wrote a book called Fugitive Days: A Memoir and I read it in the last year or so, or at least I should say I tried. This one was really boring! I had hoped to read an insiders' account of the 1960s' radical underground but found it was mostly about Ayers's experiences with women (yawn). I kept waiting for it to kick into gear but finally put it down around half-way through. Okay, Bill, we get it. You were a ladies' man.

I guess that the whole point of this is that based on Ayers's memoir, there is no way that he could have been the ghostwriter of Obama's book. Even though Dreams from My Father wasn't nearly as great as the hype, it couldn't possibly have been written by the same author as Fugitive Days.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

President Obama is signing up...

...prominent Republicans to endorse health care reform just as he did for his candidacy and the stimulus package. It's only a matter of time now.

"Bury the Vietnam Analogy"...

...says Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast today. But I say, every time you listen to a debate about Afghanistan, close your eyes and substitute the word "Vietnam" for "Afghanistan" and the word "Communism" for "radical Islamic extremism," "Islamo-fascism," or "Islamic Terrorism" and it all sounds eerily similar to the debates on Vietnam in the 1960s and '70s.

Was this on...


Monday, October 5, 2009

I've already mentioned my...

...Game of the Week (which is everyone else's), No. 2 St. Rita vs. No. 6 Providence. But another big game to watch will be No. 5 Lincoln-Way East at Bolingbrook. The undefeated Griffins are No. 4 in the Sun-Times and the Raiders (5-1) are ranked No. 9. I'll pick the home team and make this my Upset of the Week.

This brings up a subject for me: the rankings, especially the Tribune's. I know Mt. Carmel is Mt. Carmel, but maybe it's time to drop the Caravan from the Top Twenty in favor of some other team, like Bolingbrook or Glenbrook South, which hasn't scored fewer than 36 points in a game this season. If Brother Rice should give Mt. Carmel a good game this Friday, maybe it would be time to reconsider the Caravan. (The game is at Brother Rice, but I don't expect the Crusaders to stage an upset, especially after their anemic showing against Loyola Saturday.)

In other games, No. 1 Maine South travels to Waukegan in what should be another cakewalk for the Hawks and Niles West will play at Glenbrook South in what should make for a good Titans' Homecoming. (The Central Suburban South is particularly weak this year.) Finally, No. 9 Loyola will play Fenwick at Morton West in what should be a lop-sided victory for the Ramblers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The First Annual...

...Boring Old White Guy Dinner (lunch) was a huge success. It was twice as large as I had expected, and I only had one jar of fig spread leftover. The event was held at Wolfy's, which is in the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame. There are 41 locations in all, so if we hit one a year we won't have to go through the list again until I'm 93 years old. (Judging from my parents, that's not so far-fetched.) Thanks to all who came; hope to see the rest of you real soon!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Loyola beat Brother Rice, 24-7...

...Maine South defeated Evanston, 30-2; and Glenbrook South beat Waukegan, 48-6.

St. Rita humbled Mt. Carmel, 54-18...

...and Providence crushed Fenwick, 42-7. This sets up my Game of the Week next Friday as the No. 2 Mustangs will host the No. 7 Celtics.

As much as I like Providence, and as much as I would like to make this my Upset of the Week, I just don't see anyone beating St. Rita this year, especially after last night's performance against the Caravan. The Mustangs have a 5' 7", 175 pound running back named Jahwon Akui who apparently has blinding speed. He ran for 204 yards and scored 5 touchdowns in only 3 quarters! His backup, Travis Starks, added three more. (In the first six games, Akui has accounted for 1,396 yards and 25 TDs!)

I saw Maine South demolish Wheaton-Warrenville South in the second game of the season and I expect to see them again on October 17 when they play host to Glenbrook South. (The Titans came closer than anyone else to beating the Hawks last year.) I've seen Maine South play several times over the years, and while they always find a way to win, I've always come away thinking that they were beatable. On October 23, I plan to watch Glenbrook South play Evanston in Glenview. If the game is a blow-out, as I expect it will be, I may drive over to Northfield and see if I can catch the second half of the Maine South-New Trier game. I don't expect the Trevians to give the Hawks a scare or anything, but it would be another opportunity to see the Tyler Benz-Matt Perez Show.

As for St. Rita, I haven't seen them play this year but I plan on watching them at Loyola on October 24. (I may have to brave the traffic next Friday and watch the game against Providence.) As things stand right now, I can't see Maine South or anyone else beating the Mustangs.

That's all for now. I'm off to Wolfy's and then the Brother Rice-Loyola game.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I just discovered the Vienna Beef...

...Hot Dog Hall of Fame. I can't believe that I didn't know it existed until now! Turns out I've been to 9 of the 41 establishments. That's almost 22%. Not bad, but I guess I have some work to do.

I guess even Michael Jordan...

...missed a jump shot every now and then.

Politico has a piece on John McCain...

...and his efforts to reshape the Republican Party in his own "center-right" image. He's busy recruiting candidates for office and has encouraged Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois to run for the Senate seat once held by President Obama. Kirk is my Congressman, and while he seems like one of the more reasonable Republicans (and has a great resume), he isn't exactly my idea of a "center-right" candidate. Although Kirk voted for cap-and-trade legislation, he's been a Member-in-Good-Standing of the Party of No this year. Before that, he marched in lock-step behind President Bush and the rest of the Republicans, including giving his undying support for the Iraq debacle. Kirk may be to the left of such wingnuts as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, but I wouldn't call him a "centrist."

The forecast tomorrow is... and rainy, not exactly conducive to eating outside. So I'll plan on hosting the First Annual BOWG Dinner (lunch) at Wolfy's, at 2734 West Peterson Avenue in Rogers Park, from 11am to 1pm. Lunch is on me (as long as I know you) and guests will also receive a jar of Dalmatia Fig Spread (original or orange-flavored) while supplies last. Hope to see you there!

I noticed an ad on my blog...

...that says "Stop Government-run Health Care." What exactly are they talking about, Medicare? Ask anyone who is covered by it and chances are they will tell you they are very satisfied. So what's the problem?

I don't know if it would be good...

...or bad for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics. I really don't have an opinion on the subject (!). But if President Obama flew over to Copenhagen to make a special appeal, I can't believe they would turn him down. The guy is Michael Jordan ("just give me the ball").

David Letterman talked last night...

...about being blackmailed and I watched the clip of it on YouTube. My first response is mostly positive. He admitted what he had been accused of, didn't make his wife appear with him when he did, and didn't duck responsibility. Best of all, he didn't drag God into it. He didn't talk about being a sinner, quote any Bible passages, or ask anyone to pray for him. And as for what "creepy" stuff he was referring to, it's none of my business and I really don't care to know any more.

Granted, I met Dave once about 20 years ago, but I could hardly say that I know him. I think he handled it pretty well last night.

I'm not a big fan of either...

...Michael Moore or the right wing. Judith Warner and David Brooks have two good pieces on them in the Times today.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First it was Bobby Jindal...

...yesterday and now it's Lindsey Graham today. Is the GOP finally coming to its senses, or what?

John McCain spins his election loss...

...this way:

[The Palin] selection energized our party and that was the key element in putting us ahead in the polls. We were three points ahead on the morning of September 15. The stock market went down 700 points and we went down minus seven.

Translation: I made a good decision in choosing Sarah Palin as my running mate. The only reason I lost is that the Republicans got blamed for the economic meltdown. It was completely out of my control; otherwise we would have won. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Alan Grayson... the Florida Congressman who is in the news for saying, "The Republican health care plan is this: Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."

Whatever. What I find more interesting is that he has five kids, named Skye, Star, Sage, Storm, and Stone.

Politico has a piece about Tim Pawlenty... that says:

...the emerging belief among many establishment Republicans [is] that Pawlenty is becoming the sole viable alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a potential Republican primary rival.

It goes on to say:

Before anyone else enters the arena, [Pawlenty is] seeking to win over Republicans who are reluctant, or downright unwilling, to embrace Romney and who think that other potential candidates — notably former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin — are nonstarters in a general election.

I agree that Huckabee and Palin are nonstarters in a general election. But I also think that Romney and Pawlenty are two of the most charisma-challenged politicians on the scene today. The only chance that any of these four would have to defeat Obama in 2012 would be if the economy were in a free-fall. So either the Republicans go down in flames with one of these candidates, or (as I think is more likely), we have yet to see the GOP standard-bearer for 2012 emerge.