Monday, November 30, 2009

The University of St. Thomas...

...beat the Coe College Kohawks, 34-7, in the second round of the Division III playoffs. The Kohawks?

One final thought...

...on the 2009 Illinois high school football season (I promise). Is it really necessary to have all those different classes? Couldn't the IHSA just combine 6A, 7A, and 8A into one big class?

Take Providence, for example. They won the Catholic Blue (arguably the state's best conference) by beating St. Rita, Mt. Carmel, and Loyola. St. Rita competed in 7A in the post-season after beating Mt. Carmel in the regular season, 54-26. Mt. Carmel, which competes in 8A, handed Stevenson their first loss of the season in the playoffs, 23-16. And Loyola almost beat Maine South in the semifinals. So where does Providence end up competing in the postseason? 6A. And they get handled fairly easily by Cary-Grove. Now why the heck aren't those schools in 8A? And why can't they have a shot at Maine South? Personally, I'd love to see Cary-Grove play Maine South.

And what about Wheaton Warrenville South? After they got over the shock of the first five minutes, they settled down and played Maine South evenly. (The Tigers went on to win the 7A title.) But who knows how that game or the Maine South-Loyola game would have turned out on a neutral field?

I could go on and on but I think I've made my point. So what's the deal, IHSA? Would it kill you to have to exclude all those mediocre 5-4 teams from the playoffs if you combined these three classes? So what! I don't care if you have to exclude some 6-3 teams. I just want to see the best teams play each other. And I'll bet they do, too.

President Obama will address...

...the nation tomorrow night in prime time. He's expected to announce an increase in troop levels in Afghanistan by about 30,000.

I'll try to reserve judgement until after I hear the speech, but in the meantime, I can't help thinking of Jerry Seinfeld. (Everything comes back to "Seinfeld.")

Every so often, one of Jerry's pals, Kramer or George, would come up with some cockamamie scheme that would cause Jerry to shake his head and say to himself, "This isn't going to end well."

And that's how I feel about Afghanistan. Is there anyone in America--left, right, or center--who really thinks this is going to end well?

Now that Jack Swarbrick... taking center stage in the drama that is Notre Dame football, it's worth noting what Charlie Weis had to say about him:

“First of all, he’s a Notre Dame guy, which is always a good start, because he understands the place.”

He understands the place. What does that mean, he understands the place, he drinks the Kool-Aid? Because that's how I would interpret it. In other words, he's stuck in the 1970s. If I were to advise Notre Dame (and they haven't called me just yet), I would tell them to find a head coach who doesn't understand the place. Find someone who understands the real world, someone firmly grounded in reality. And that means understanding that national championships are just not that easy to come by. If you don't believe me, ask Pete Carroll, Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel, Joe Paterno, or Bobby Bowden. Even really, really good coaches aren't in the hunt every year.

The Notre Dame community seems to think they are just a head coach away from competing for the BCS title every year. Like a lot of people, I expect them to hire Brian Kelly of Cincinnati and I expect him to work out well. But I thought the same thing about Charlie Weis. If Kelly coaches the Irish for eleven years and wins one national championship then he'll equal Lou Holtz's record and be mentioned in the same breath as Rockne, Leahy, and Parseghian. But don't tell Domers that he'll only win one title in the next eleven years or he won't get the job. And that's because they don't understand that the world has changed since 1988, the last time they won a national championship.

Just take a look at today's BCS standings. TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise State are ranked 4th, 5th, and 6th, respectively. To paraphrase Tom Friedman, the college football world is flat. And it may get even flatter.

I know that Notre Dame sees itself as unique--and it is--but would it really be so terrible to have a program like Northwestern's or Stanford's? They both field competitive teams while maintaining academic excellence. Is it really necessary to compete for the national championship every year? I'm afraid the answer for most Domers is "yes." In that case, good luck to Brian Kelly. And check back with us in five years.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It was Maine South...

...over Marist last night, 41-17, in the Illinois 8A final. Matt Perez rushed for a title game record of 316 yards, surpassing the previous one of 222 yards set by his teammate last year, quarterback Charlie Goro. He also scored an 8A title game record five touchdowns on 27 carries, including one for 76 yards, and added five receptions for 50 yards. Perez finished the season with 2,247 yards and 38 touchdowns.

"Matt Perez is by far the best back I’ve seen," Marist coach Pat Dunne said.

Maine South has won four state titles, three since 2000. Only one other team has won back-to-back state 8A titles (Lockport in 2002 and 2003). Coach Dave Inserra is now 104-8 in nine seasons with the Hawks.

In 7A, Wheaton Warrenville South defeated Glenbard West, 31-24, in double overtime.

In 6A, it was Cary-Grove over Providence, 34-17.

And in the Prep Bowl, St. Rita beat Simeon, 34-20.

The New York Times has... article in the Business section today about winemaking as a second career. It has a picture of two people with the caption:

Nancy Irelan and Mike Schnelle, who once had jobs at corporations, are now making wines in upstate New York.

I figured that must have been a misprint. Surely her name has a "D" at the end. But later in the article it says:

Farther north, in the Finger Lakes region of New York, a mix of skills helped Nancy Irelan and her husband, Mike Schnelle, open the Red Tail Ridge Winery.


Ms. Irelan worked for DuPont as a chemist while in college and received a Ph.D. in genetics.

Everyone must misspell that name. It has to be a pain in the neck.

"No, it's Irelan. I-R-E-L-A-N. No 'D.' "

"No 'D?' "

"No 'D.' "

"Are you sure?"

Why doesn't she just add a "D" to the end and be done with it?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving...

...everyone! I hope you all eat too much turkey and watch too much football. And try not to fight too much with your family.

Personally, I'll be traveling deep behind Republican lines, even eating Thanksgiving dinner at what I assume is a restricted country club. I'll have to do my best to keep my mouth shut, but I've never been very good at that in the past. Maybe I can steer the conversation away from politics and toward Illinois high school football. Ever heard of Matt Perez?

It occurred to me...

...while I was watching Bill O'Reilly's interview with Sarah Palin that she reminds me of a modern-day George Wallace. He was also a populist former governor who ran for president and appealed to the worst in rural, white Christians. Wallace railed against the "liberal" media (or the "lamestream media," as Sarah Palin has taken to calling it), the Ivy League (see about 7:40 into the interview) and the Eastern "elites," whom he called "pointy-headed intellectuals who can't park a bicycle straight." (Bill O'Reilly refers earlier in the interview to the "pin-heads in New York and D.C.")

Wallace ran for president in 1968 as the candidate of the American Independent Party. During the campaign he famously said (among other things), "I've read about foreign policy and studied--I know the number of continents." Who does that sound like? He carried five states, cannibalized the Democratic vote in the South and handed the election to Richard Nixon. It was to be his high-water mark on the national stage.

If Palin should somehow get the Republican nomination in 2012, I would expect her to carry those same five states and another handful or so out West. But the result would be the same: crushing defeat.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Here's a chilling piece... Matthew Dowd on Sarah Palin's chances for 2012. He's not particularly fond of her but offers some suggestions as to how she could improve herself as a candidate. But what really caught my eye was this paragraph:

While Democrats love Obama, Republicans look on him with real disfavor. The gap between Obama's approval rating among Democrats and among Republicans is nearly 70 percentage points -- a higher partisan divide than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush experienced. Obama's agenda and actions this year, and some mistakes, have solidified this divide.

Really? What mistakes? Maybe the real reason Republicans hate Obama so much is that he's black. And maybe they're just plain afraid that they're losing they're privileged place in this society. Maybe that's what these Tea Party idiots mean when they cry that they "want their country back."

By 2012, the economy will have recovered and Obama will win in a walk. And Sarah Palin will go down in history as an asterisk.


...not really. But it was worth the price of admission (six bucks). And I can't remember the last time I was so excited to see a game. I thought about it all week. Could Loyola's defense contain Matt Perez? Had Maine South played anyone as good as Loyola? The questions dogged me in my spare time (and I obviously have a lot of it). I think the guy who sat behind me said it best when he announced to no one in particular, "I'd rather see this game than have 50-yard line seats at the Bears game tomorrow night!" No one could argue with that.

And how could they? It was like a Clash of Civilizations: the best that the Central Suburban South had to offer against the best of the Catholic Blue, arguably the toughest conference in Illinois. The defending State Champs with the 26-game winning streak and the plucky Sun-Times Player of the Year running back against an old-fashioned, hard-hitting Chicago Catholic League team coached by a former NFL linebacker. Only one team could emerge victorious. Is this a great country, or what?

The game turned out to be a battle of two quarterbacks, Will Forsyth of Loyola, and Tyler Benz of Maine South. (Perez left the game with an injury in the fourth quarter.) By halftime they had each thrown for one touchdown and run for one touchdown (Forsyth's a nifty 71-yard keeper). The game was tied at 14 as the two squads took the field for the second half. One of these teams would advance downstate; the other would watch the finals on TV. I turned to the guy next to me who just happened to be the coach of Bartlett. He was watching the game with his father. I asked him what he thought would be the key to the second half. Without missing a beat, he said solemnly, "Turnovers." His father and I nodded silently in agreement.

(Just like a Grateful Dead concert, the fans at a high school football game are a big part of the show. The coach's father had his own pearls of wisdom to offer. At one point, Maine South elected to go for a first down at midfield. Everyone in my immediate area gasped--we're all experts, remember--and the Hawks were stymied. If only Coach Inserra had consulted with us! The coach's father said it best, "That was the coach's ego!" And like any self-respecting fan, he repeated it several times for everyone's benefit. The guy sitting to my right was no less colorful. He had to be at least 80 years old and brought his own binoculars. I didn't realize people still did that. He was quite the home team fan, and looked like he'd been coming to the games since Hillary Clinton was a student there. I noticed he especially appreciated the refs' calls when they went the Hawks' way and wasn't at all bashful about wondering aloud exactly which game they were watching when the calls went the other way.)

While "Turnovers" might sound as banal as saying, "Whichever team scores the most points," it turned out to be prescient. For if not for three Loyola mistakes (a fumble on Maine South's 35-yard line that halted a key drive, a roughing-the-kicker penalty inside the five-yard line which denied Loyola the ball, and an interception in the Hawks' end zone and a 50-yard return that pretty much sealed the deal), the Ramblers could have won this game.

But it wasn't Loyola's day. Benz threw another pass for a touchdown in the third quarter which put the Hawks ahead for good, 21-14. (Last year, he played wide receiver and linebacker in the victory over Loyola. I'll be interested to follow his career.) A bad omen for Loyola early on was a missed field goal attempt by kicker Leo Sheridan. He'd set a state playoff record the previous week with five. (Otherwise, the final score would have been 21-17. Who could have predicted that?) But the match-up of the state's best defense against one of its best offenses didn't disappoint the estimated 10,000 fans at Wilson Field. The 21 points scored by Maine South was the fewest they scored all season and the most allowed by Loyola.

The Hawks will now return to the state 8A finals for the fifth time in seven years.

I'll be traveling this weekend... Louisville, Kentucky, of all places, and won't be able to watch the high school football playoffs live. (Fortunately, I have a DVR.) It's been a great season, though, and before I go, I'd like to make my picks for the finals.

In 8A, Maine South will make it two in a row (and 28 in a row) as they end Marist's Cinderella season. The last time the Hawks lost? The 2007 Class 8A quarterfinals, when they were defeated by Mount Carmel, 21-14. In 7A, Wheaton Warrenville South should defeat Glenbard West. (If only the Tigers could have those first five minutes against Maine South back. As Jerry Seinfeld would say while making a fist, "Oh!") And in 6A, Providence will come out on top over Cary-Grove. It's a shame, too, because both teams deserve a trophy. Cary-Grove is 13-0 and has outscored its opponents this season, 586-118. They recorded a total of six shutouts and allowed only six points in their first six games. They would certainly be the best team in any other year. But the Trojans haven't played anyone like Providence. The Celtics were the best team in the Catholic Blue Conference this year and beat Joliet Catholic, Loyola, St. Rita, and Mt. Carmel. They could easily compete for the 8A final.

Again, it's been a great season. I was able to take in a total of ten games in five different stadiums. (I think I have my own parking spot at Maine South.) I saw the Hawks play five times, Glenbrook South four, and Loyola three. I was also able to see five other teams that made the playoffs: Wheaton Warrenville South, New Trier, St. Rita, St. Pat's, and Notre Dame. And let's not forget that Gordon Tech-Brother Rice match-up on the South Side.

Can't wait 'til next year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Marist High School... a Catholic institution on the south side of Chicago. It's located in the far southwest neighborhood of Mount Greenwood, not far from Brother Rice and Mother McAuley. Marist is a newcomer, in comparison, having been founded in 1963. The Redhawks, as they are now known (they used to be called the Redskins, but apparently too many native Americans on the south side were offended), compete in the East Suburban Catholic Conference against such teams as Marian Catholic, Benet, Notre Dame, Carmel (Mundelein), St. Joseph, St. Patrick, and St. Viator.

The Redhawks are definitely the Cinderella team this year, having advanced to the 8A finals with an 11-2 record. Marist's two losses were at the hands of Carmel (Mundelein), 36-32, in Week 3, and St. Patrick, 25-20, in Week 7. (This is the same St. Pat's that Loyola beat 30-0 in the first round of the playoffs. Go figure.) But Marist had its bright spots, too, beating Joliet Catholic, 24-14; Marian Catholic, 49-0; and number 1-seeded (and undefeated) Fremd, 28-16, in the third round of the playoffs.

Marist has a number of alums playing college football, including Ryan O'Neill ('08) at Dartmouth.

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy...

...said that the bishop of Providence:

...has instructed him to refrain from receiving communion because of his stance on abortion.

Bishop Thomas Tobin wrote to Kennedy:

“In light of the church’s clear teaching, and your consistent actions,” the letter said, “I believe it is inappropriate for you to be receiving holy communion and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so.”


"If you freely choose to be a Catholic, it means you believe certain things, you do certain things,” Bishop Tobin said at the time. “If you cannot do all that in conscience, then you should perhaps feel free to go somewhere else.”

So my question for Kennedy is: Why don't you go somewhere else?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Maine South will play Marist... the Class 8A finals next Saturday night after defeating Loyola, 21-14. The Redhawks downed Glenbard North, 17-14, to earn the chance to stop the (just plain) Hawks' winning streak at 27. (A longer post on the Maine South-Loyola game will follow shortly; my computer has been infected by a virus and is on the fritz.)

In 7A, it will be Wheaton-Warrenville South vs. Glenbard West after the Tigers defeated East St. Louis, 34-15, and the Hilltoppers bested Lake Zurich, 21-17.

The 6A final (as expected) will feature Providence against Cary-Grove in what could be the best game of the post-season. The Celtics beat Danville, 30-21, while the Trojans crushed Prairie Ridge, 40-7.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The weather forecast for tomorrow's game... 54 degrees and partly sunny. Since I was last at Maine South, its Web site has been updated. It now lists a number of things under the heading "Unacceptable Behavior," such as:
  • Disrespectful or derogatory yells, chants, songs or gestures.
  • Booing or heckling an official's decision.
  • Criticizing officials in any way; displays of temper with an official's call.
  • Yells that antagonize opponents.
  • Blaming the loss of the game on officials, coaches or participants.
  • Laughing or name calling to distract an opponent.
  • Use of profanity or displays of anger that draw attention away from the game.
  • Doing own yells instead of following the lead of cheerleaders.

Why do I get the feeling this is directed at me?

Opponents of health care reform...

...have seized upon two new studies this week that call for delaying the start and reducing the frequency of screening for breast and cervical cancer. Kevin Sack writes in the New York Times that:

...the recommendations have provided fresh ammunition for those who warn that greater government involvement in medical decision-making would lead to rationing of health care.

In T. R. Reid's new book, The Healing of America, however, he writes that countries with universal health care, i. e., the rest of the developed world, place a greater emphasis on preventive care. Why? Because it's cheaper to treat an illness sooner rather than later. In Britain, for example, which is the closest thing to "socialized medicine" in the developed world (although the general practitioners are private), there is a huge emphasis on preventive medicine. Reid says that the public is constantly being encouraged (badgered even) to get vaccines and screenings. As a result, illnesses are detected sooner and treated sooner and costs are kept down.

The entire approach in Britain is different from the U. S. There the emphasis is to keep people healthy in the first place, rather than just treat people once they're sick. It may not be as profitable, but it makes for a healthier populace.

I just started reading...

...Too Big to Fail, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. If books about the economy scare you, give this one a try anyway; it's very readable. Sorkin begins by introducing some of the main characters: Jamie Dimon, Dick Fuld, Henry Paulson, and Timothy Geithner. It's really good so far; I'll keep you posted.

I know that defense wins championships...

...but I have to go with Maine South over Loyola tomorrow. The Hawks just have too many weapons on offense. If the Ramblers manage to shut down Matt Perez they still have to contend with quarterback Tyler Benz, who can run as well as throw. Loyola will hold Maine South to its fewest points of the season, but it will not be enough to advance downstate. The Hawks will prevail, 21-17.

As always, you can follow me from the stands on Twitter.

The Sun-Times Player of the Year... Maine South's Matt Perez.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mizrahi Grill... an Israeli spot on Skokie Valley Road in Highland Park. They boast of being "The Only 100% Glatt Kosher Restaurant in the North Shore," whatever that means. All I know is the falafel sandwiches are to die for! Get them with everything on 'em, which includes tehina, chips (french fries, I think), Israeli salad, cabbage salad and pickles. But eat them there; they're best hot (they don't travel well). Enjoy!

Run, Sarah...


Not a good sign...

...for TPaw.

Sarah Palin doesn't like...

...the picture of her on the cover of the latest Newsweek. She says it's "cheesy" and "sexist." So why did she pose for it in the first place?

Joan Walsh, a liberal columnist at Salon, defends Palin.

Eli Broad... one of the richest men in southern California and a well-known philanthropist and patron of the arts. He pronounces his last name "Brode," not "Brawd," like the synonym for "wide." How often do you think he has to correct people on the pronunciation of his name? Several times a week?

"Table for... Brawd? MR. BRAWD? "

"No, no, no. It's pronounced 'Brode.' "


"My last name. It's pronounced 'Brode.' "

"Whatever. Your table is ready, sir."

It has to drive him nuts.

I'm almost finished with T. R. Reid's..., The Healing of America, and I highly recommend it if you are at all interested in health care reform. It's very interesting (and readable).

Before I write my full review, however, I'd like to let you all in on a dirty little secret: the health care systems of Germany, France, Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland, and yes, even Britain and Canada (and all the other developed countries, for that matter) offer universal coverage at a lower cost than the U. S. and in most cases--Shhh!--deliver as good as or better health care.

To paraphrase the Gipper...

..."There they go again."

It did not take long for Republicans in Congress to start arguing on Tuesday that a federal task force’s new recommendations on breast cancer screening had confirmed the worst fears of people who oppose a government role in medical decision making.

“I mean, let the rationing begin,” said Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. “This is what happens when bureaucrats make your health care decisions.”

Doesn't Representative Camp have health insurance? Or does he pay his medical bills out-of-pocket, in which case he makes all of his health care decisions in consultation with his doctor? I wonder. Because I have insurance and I can tell you that they make most of my health care decisions. (You could even say that they--gasp!--ration care.) What's more, they have an economic incentive to deny me coverage. Every time an insurance company pays out a claim it's called a "medical loss" in their jargon. (Stockholders don't like losses.)

So while having a government bureaucrat making your health care decisions might not sound ideal, it may be preferable to an insurance company bureaucrat whose compensation depends on denying you coverage.

I just noticed this piece... the Tribune on RPI (ratings percentage index) and SOS (strength of schedule) for the regular season. (I'd never heard of RPI and had to Google it, but whatever.) Loyola comes in at number 8 in RPI and number 6 in SOS, and Maine South is number 14 and number 24, respectively.

The number one team in both categories? Providence.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post...

...mentions in his blog today something that I've long suspected: that a large part of Sarah Palin's aura is attributable to her sex appeal.

I've heard Pat Buchanan, Matthew Continetti, and Rich Lowry (to whom Klein includes an embarrassing link) practically gush over her like schoolboys in love. I also suspect it had something to do with Bill Kristol's and Fred Barnes's famous "discovery" of her back in '07 on that notorious junket to Alaska. And Fred Malek and John McCain are like a couple of old geezers in a nursing home that are infatuated with an attractive young visitor. Malek still is, and McCain was so charmed by Palin that he offered her a spot on the ticket. (He seems to have come back to earth since, and I'll bet he realizes how foolish he acted.)

I'm sure there are a lot of women who identify with Sarah Palin, but I still think it's her appeal to men that is keeping her career alive.

Jim Harbaugh's is the latest... I've seen mentioned as a possible successor to Charlie Weis, by Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune. I can't see him (or anyone else, for that matter) leaving Palo Alto for South Bend, however. I also have to think he's biding his time for the Michigan job should Rich Rod continue to flounder. But here's an interesting tidbit from that article:

The only lunacy from which you might be spared is that Notre Dame has now cleverly blocked the university plane (N42ND) from showing up on - a flight-tracking Web site.

Any doubt that ND is interviewing candidates?

Expect to see more articles... this one. The Republican establishment is terrified that Sarah Palin will run in 2012 and win the GOP nomination.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I remember reading...

...that when Sarah Palin was originally vetted by the McCain campaign one of the questions she was asked was whether or not she believed in evolution. Her response was, "Yes, my father was a science teacher."

Now I read that in her new book:

...she talks about creationism, saying she “didn’t believe in the theory that human beings — thinking, loving beings — originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea” or from “monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.”

So which is it? Does she believe in evolution or doesn't she? I'll try to find that earlier source.

Here are some interesting stats...

...on Charlie Weis:

With two games left in the regular season at home against Connecticut (4-5) and at No. 14 Stanford (7-3), Weis finds himself with the same 35-25 overall coaching record that got Bob Davie fired eight years ago, and the same .583 winning percentage that got Tyrone Willingham fired five years ago.

Weis’ 1-8 record against top 10 teams is the worst in Notre Dame history, a .111 winning percentage. Davie was 1-7, Willingham was 3-5.

Notre Dame coaches that led the Irish to national championships all had winning records against the top 10 teams. Frank Leahy was an amazing 19-3-1. Lou Holtz was 21-15-1, Dan Devine was 10-7 and Ara Parseghian went 10-9-3.

The eight straight losses by Weis to top 10 teams is a school record. His next loss will tie Gerry Faust for the second most in school history. The record is 30, set by Holtz, but he needed 11 seasons to do that.

Weis also fell to 4-12 against ranked teams overall, the second worst mark in school history. Only Hugh Devore, who served as interim coach in 1945 and 1963, has a worse mark at 1-5.

I have to think Weis is toast. The Irish will probably finish 7-5 after beating UConn at home this week and losing to Stanford in the last game of the season. So who should be Notre Dame's next coach? I can't believe Urban Meyer would want it, Jon Gruden's no good, Bob Stoops has jumped the shark at Oklahoma, Kirk Ferentz is a possibility, but the smart money seems to be on Brian Kelly of Cincinnati. He seems to check all the boxes.

Oh, and one more thing about next week's game:

Weis said the Irish need to be focused on Connecticut heading into their final home game, mindful of how last year the Irish went into the final home game and squandered a 13-point fourth-quarter lead and lost to Syracuse. The Orange entered the game with a 1-8 record, were 19 1/2 -point underdogs and had just fired coach Greg Robinson.


Just as Sean Hannity...

...apologized to Jon Stewart recently, I feel it's incumbent upon me to atone for my erroneous call in regard to USC making the BCS final. I still think Pete Carroll is a great coach and the Trojans will be back, but it's certainly been a disappointing season.

(ND fans take note: Even with the right coach, i. e., Brian Kelly, you're not guaranteed a trip to the BCS final every year.)

I hope that's the last time I have to mention Sean Hannity in this blog.

Last year, Maine South...

...eliminated Loyola in the second round, 26-7. I was there.

Maine South (12-0)...

...has outscored its opponents this year, 514-180. Throw out their four weakest opponents (teams that didn't qualify for the post-season) and the cumulative score was 320-157. The Hawks' offense averaged 42.8 points a game and 40 against teams that made the playoffs. They scored a season-high 64 points against Schaumburg in the opener and 50 against Highland Park in Week 3. Both teams appeared in the post-season. Maine South also scored 63 points against Maine West and 56 against Niles West, two teams that didn't make the playoffs. The Hawks scored only 28 points against New Trier and Oak Park in back-to-back games at the end of October. But the most important game to focus on is their 27-9 victory over Wheaton Warrenville South in Week 2. That was the fewest points they scored all season.

The Tigers (11-1) were probably the Hawks' best opponent this year and are still alive in 7A. I was at that game on a balmy September evening in Park Ridge. Maine South got off to a quick start, scoring on their first three possessions. That was pretty much the game. The score was 20-7 at the half and ended 27-9. Although senior running back Matt Perez has gotten a lot of attention this season (and rightfully so), he only scored one touchdown that night. He rushed for 150 yards on 21 carries and contributed two sacks on defense. Quarterback Tyler Benz completed 14 of 21 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for one touchdown and added a sack on defense. Hey Coach Inserra, sit these guys down once in a while!

The point is that Maine South's offense is not one-dimensional. Loyola must do more than just stop Perez; Benz is also a threat to run and pass. The Hawks have been a pass-happy offense going back to the years of Coach Hopkins. (I had a very pleasant conversation with him once in which we discussed this.) I've seen Benz pass to at least four receivers this year. Again, this offense has many weapons at its disposal and the Ramblers will have their hands full. Then again, Maine South hasn't faced a defense like Loyola's...

How good is Loyola's defense?

That's what Taylor Bell wants to know.

In 12 games, Loyola has recorded 3 shutouts and has held its opponents to one touchdown or less 10 times. Their worst string on defense was in the last three weeks of September, when they lost to Providence, 10-3; beat Mt. Carmel, 28-15; and defeated St. Ignatius, 40-14.

For the year, the Ramblers have allowed only 81 points. If only Jahwon Akui of St. Rita had been healthy...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If you still have doubts...

...about "death panels," you really need to read this piece in the New York Times today.

In other high school football...

...Marist upset Fremd, 28-16, for the right to play Glenbard North in the 8A semifinals. The Panthers defeated Downers Grove South, 7-3, in Carol Stream last night. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Maine South-Loyola game in the 8A championship Thanksgiving weekend.

In 7A, it was East St. Louis over O'Fallon, 27-14. The Flyers will now play Wheaton Warrenville South in the semifinals. Glenbard West defeated St. Charles North, 45-12, and will now face Lake Zurich, who beat Wheaton North, 24-17.

In 6A, Providence rolled over Crete-Monee, 44-14, on the way to their inevitable showdown with Cary-Grove, who beat De La Salle, 42-0.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's Loyola at Maine South... week in the 8A semifinals. The Ramblers beat the Caravan, 24-7, for the second time this season at Gately Stadium in Chicago. And the Hawks defeated the Titans, 44-23, in Park Ridge.

Loyola (11-1) managed its victory without a single offensive touchdown. Senior Leo Sheridan kicked an Illinois high school record five field goals and the defensive unit scored a touchdown on a blocked punt and added a safety later. Mt. Carmel (8-4) turned the ball over five times in the second half, including two interceptions late in the game.

The Hawks' victory over the Titans extended their winning streak to 26 games. Their offense scored on every possession, leaving their punter on the sidelines for the entire game (he was the one sitting down doing the crossword puzzle). As usual, Matt Perez was the star, rushing for 314 yards on 21 carries and scoring four touchdowns, two on runs of 45 and 77 yards. (He also had five tackles on defense after missing most of the week with the flu. Will somebody please give this guy a diploma?) Quarterback Tyler Benz also ran for 41 yards on 8 carries and was 10-for-15 passing with 150 yards and one touchdown. Glenbrook South finished the season at 9-3.

Next week will be Loyola's first appearance in the semifinals since they won the state championship in 1993. The showdown will pit one of Illinois' stingiest defenses against one of its most productive offenses. In the last seven games, Loyola has allowed only five touchdowns. Matt Perez, on the other hand, is arguably the best running back in the state. And when the Indiana-bound senior isn't carrying the ball, quarterback Tyler Benz is a threat to run as well as pass. I've seen Maine South play several times over the years and always came away thinking they were beatable, but not yesterday. As good as Loyola is (and this could be their best team since the '93 championship squad), I just can't see anybody beating Maine South this year, especially if they play like they did against Glenbrook South. They just have too many weapons on offense. I was at the game last year when the Hawks eliminated the Ramblers in Park Ridge on a cold November Saturday. Although the North Siders are a much improved team, I expect to see a similar result next week.

Here's a bad name...

...for you: White House deputy counsel Cassandra Q. Butts.

St. Rita falls... Wheaton Warrenville South, 23-14, and Joliet Catholic rolls over Washington, 47-7.

Meanwhile, the Sun-Times has a nice piece today on Glenbrook South quarterback Mike Pullano. The Tribune had this one yesterday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

David Brooks's column today... must-reading, as usual. It's about John Thune, the junior senator from South Dakota. Brooks mentions him as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2012. This isn't the first time I've heard Thune's name mentioned by "the Great Mentioner," the term William Safire coined, but it's the first case for him that I've read so far (and not a terribly convincing one). But Thune is worth considering if only because we don't yet know the name of the next GOP standard-bearer. (I once heard Morton Kondracke describe Thune as an "empty suit," but that was years ago.)

I just can't see any of the current crop--Romney, Huckabee, Palin, or Pawlenty--making the grade. I could still see Newt Gingrich as a dark horse; he has certain qualities--a brilliant mind and political savvy to name just two--that can't be dismissed. But the field remains wide open.

Two other points about Brooks's article deserve mention. He quotes John McCain as joking that if he had Thune's face he'd be president right now. (I hope McCain was joking. It also takes solid policy positions, a demonstrated capacity for leadership, and good judgement, all of which McCain sorely lacked.)

Brooks also mentions Karl Rove's piece in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday in which he said that Obama is being defined as a liberal, independents are fleeing, and the political tide is shifting. This is just the kind of overly optimistic cheerleading that the Republican Party doesn't need right now. What they need is a good dose of realism and they're not likely to find it from people like Rove (or in The Wall Street Journal). Rove is the same guy who drove the GOP into the ditch. Why on earth would anybody listen to him?

I think Brooks sees it more clearly when he says:

That overstates things. Obama remains the most talented political figure of the age. After health care passes, he will pivot and pick some fights with his own party over spending. He’ll solidify his standing with independents, and if the economy recovers, he could go into his re-election with as much momentum as Ronald Reagan enjoyed in 1984.

Glenbrook South (9-2) plays...

...Maine South (11-0) on Saturday at 1:00 in Park Ridge. The last time they met, on October 17, the Titans were ahead by 10 points in the third quarter before Matt Perez cut loose and led the Hawks to a 45-34 victory. (The Indiana-bound senior finished the day with a career-high 347 yards rushing and four touchdowns.)

GBS hasn't beaten Maine South since 1991. In the post-season, the Titans haven't defeated the Hawks since 1986. (They went on to lose that year in the semi-finals to eventual state champion Wheaton North and quarterback Kent Graham, 6-0.)

Three GBS seniors to watch are defensive tackle Peter Mann, who leads the Titans in tackles; quarterback Mike Pullano, who at 5' 7" has completed 60 of 115 passes for 1,341 yards and 24 touchdowns and no interceptions; and running back Michael Hirsch, who leads the team with 1,477 yards rushing on 253 carries and 24 touchdowns. Hirsch will join two other Chicago-area gridders at Harvard next year: defensive end David Salutric from Naperville North and running back Rich Zajeski from Hinsdale Central.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I've always thought...

...that the Catholic Blue was the best football conference in Illinois. Here's an interesting piece comparing it with the DuPage Valley. In a nutshell, the writer says that while the Catholic Blue is more physical, the DuPage Valley has more speed.

This weekend will feature St. Rita against Wheaton Warrenville South. If the Mustangs prevail they could meet up with Wheaton North in the finals. In 8A, Glenbard North could play either Mt. Carmel or Loyola in the finals. So there could be at least three games remaining that would pit teams from the two conferences against each other.

Here's another one of those...

..."The Sky is Falling!" articles about the declining dollar, this time by George Will. No need to read it--you've seen it all before: the deficit will lead to inflation, the dollar is falling, and blah, blah, blah, we're all going to die! (The right-wing has to be alarmed about something.) The only thing missing is the part about Obama being a Kenya-born closet Muslim who is secretly bent on destroying the United States (yawn). For that you'll have to tune in to Fox.

Here's a table showing the dollar's value from 1800 on. You'll notice that it's been declining in value ever since, especially after the Federal Reserve was established in 1913. Now prominent economists like Glenn Beck would have you believe that there's something sinister going on here. Maybe so; I'm not an economist.

But maybe the fall in the dollar is just part of a long-term trend that is beyond the control of any American president. Maybe it just reflects the fact that the rest of the planet has made great strides economically relative to the U. S. Take India, for example; they now have the largest middle class in the world. China, too, has made a profound leap forward in the last twenty or thirty years (since they stopped making all those Great Leaps Forward, like in Mao's day).

So the dollar has been declining all of my life. In fact, it's been declining for all of my father's life. (And his father's.) Living standards, however, have only gone up. Hmmm. Maybe the falling dollar isn't that important. Maybe we should all just take a deep breath.

In case you weren't sure...

...if South Carolina was one of the goofiest states in the Union and that the Republican Party there was loaded with wingnuts, maybe this will convince you. Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from the Palmetto state, has been censored by the Charleston County Republican Party for:

"...many of the positions he has taken that do not represent the wishes of the people of South Carolina, such as: passing a ‘cap and trade’ energy bill, bailing out banks and granting amnesty for illegal aliens,” according to the censure resolution.

This is the same guy who was voted the 15th-most conservative senator in 2008 by The National Journal.

Nicholas Kristof...

...has a great column in the NYT today comparing the costs of health care reform and the proposed troop increase in Afghanistan being considered by President Obama. Both would cost Americans about $100 billion a year.

Why are there no tea baggers complaining about the costs of the two wars we are currently fighting? Aren't they adding to the national debt too? Aren't we "saddling our children and grandchildren" with those bills? Where's the outrage here?

Maybe these tea party protests aren't about money after all. Maybe they're about something else entirely.

When the Social Security Act...

...passed in 1935, certain job categories such as agricultural labor and domestic service were exempted. This was part of a compromise to obtain the support of Southern Democrats. As a result, nearly two-thirds of all African Americans (70-80% in some areas of the South) were not originally covered by the act.

Over the years, the old Southern Democrats evolved into Republicans and are now the biggest opponents of health care reform, particularly the public option.

According to Gallup, about one in six U.S. adults are without health insurance. The latest official estimate of health care coverage from the U.S. Census Bureau is for 2007, and reveals that 15.3% of all Americans (including children) are without insurance. This translates into the oft-cited figure of 46 million Americans without insurance.

At 41.5%, Hispanic Americans are, by a significant margin, the demographic segment of the adult population most likely to be uninsured. Non-Hispanic black Americans are also significantly more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to be uninsured, 19.9% vs. 11.6%.

Again, the base of the Republican Party is increasingly white, rural, Southern, Christian, and male. Am I reading too much into this, or is there a disturbing parallel here?

Loyola Academy...

...will travel down to Gately Stadium on Saturday to take on Mt. Carmel in the quarterfinals of the Illinois 8A football playoffs. The Ramblers beat the Caravan, 28-15, on September 18. The Chicago Sun-Times notes, however, that:

For what it’s worth, Mount Carmel [has] history on its side. The Ramblers have never beaten the Caravan twice in one year, and in [Coach] Lenti’s 25 seasons only two teams — De La Salle in 1984 and Providence in 2004 — have managed the feat.

Can Loyola make history this weekend?

I keep hearing...

...that the United States is a "center-right" nation. Some of the talking heads on TV say it as though it was practically axiomatic. I don't buy that. In today's New York Times, Timothy Egan says that:

In recent Gallup polls, 54 percent of Americans perceived Barack Obama’s policies to be “mostly liberal” and an identical margin approved of his presidency.

That sounds about right to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lester Gruber...

... is dead. Lt. Commander Quinton McHale, however, is still alive. So is Ensign Charles Parker, Lt. Elroy Carpenter and, as far as I can tell, Fuji. Sadly, "Tinker" Bell and "Happy" Haines are no longer with us. Nor is Captain Wallace Binghamton, who drowned at age 49.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I finally got my hands on...

...T. R. Reid's new book, The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care. (You can probably find it at your local library.) I'd seen his special, Sick Around the World, on Frontline and the book is every bit as interesting. It's also very readable.

To give you just one factoid from Chapter 3, according to a joint study by Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School, 700,000 Americans filed for bankruptcy last year because of medical bills. (That's more than the population of Boston, Seattle, or Denver.) The total number in Britain, France, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, and Switzerland? Zero. Combined.

The Dow hit a 13-month high today...

...and the S&P isn't far behind. So why don't you hear more about the "Obama Rally" in Rupert Murdoch Land (Fox and The Wall Street Journal)? Remember how they blamed the stock market's first quarter weakness on the new president? What's changed?

Fremd High School is... the Illinois 8A football quarterfinals. I wanted to know more about this school with the unusual name. (As my brother would say, "When have you ever seen an M and a D next to each other?") So I went to the school's Web site and the first thing I noticed is that:

3 out of 5 Fremd students choose not to drink alcohol.

Another way of saying that would be:

Fully 40% of Fremd students choose to drink alcohol.

Why don't they say that?

The second round...

...of the Illinois high school football playoffs is what usually separates the very good teams from the merely good. This year was no exception.

In 8A, as expected, Maine South topped Leyden, 34-16, and Glenbrook South dominated Proviso West, 44-6, to set up a rematch of these two Central Suburban South rivals. This is the first time since 1995 that the Titans have advanced to the third round and, unless Coach Noll has figured out a way to stop Matt Perez, they will not see a fourth.

Meanwhile, Mt. Carmel beat Stevenson, 23-16, and Loyola defeated Warren, 21-7, to set up another intra-conference rematch. (I knew a team called Mt. Carmel would remain in the playoffs; I just picked the wrong one.) As good as Loyola's season has been, I just don't see the Ramblers beating the Caravan twice in one year. Incidentally, all four of the teams that the Catholic Blue Conference sent to the post-season are still alive.

In 7A, St. Rita beat Marian Catholic, 34-14, to earn the right to be Wheaton-Warrenville's next conquest. (The Mustangs' star running back, Jahwon Akui, left the game with another injury this weekend.) Also, East St. Louis eliminated Minooka, 48-20, and Glenbard West defeated Hononegah, 27-14.

In 6A (and by the way, what's with the A? Is that really necessary?), Providence took care of Oswego, 16-10, and will now make Crete-Monee their next victim. Cary-Grove beat Highland Park, 48-28, and should now make light work out of Mayor Daley's alma mater, De La Salle, which beat Crystal Lake South, 33-20. And Marmion's season came to a halt as the Cadets were defeated by Prairie Ridge, 31-7.

As for 5A, all you need to know is that Joliet Catholic beat Cahokia, 35-12, and will now upset No. 2-seed Washington on their way to the championship.

4A has been notoriously difficult to forecast, and that goes part of the way to explain why I went 0-for-4 this weekend. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) Better to just not dwell on it any further.

I'll close with just two final predictions. In 2A, Moweaqua will defeat Maroa-Forsyth because the post-season needs at least one school whose name is hard to pronounce. And in 1A, Triopia will win in a rout over Routt.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I hope Glenbrook South...

...head coach Mike Noll reads the Chicago Sun-Times. It says today that:

Proviso West coach Famous Hulbert wants college recruiters to know that he has more than one Division I prospect on his 6-4 team. Everyone is aware of receiver Kyle Prater, who is debating among USC, Illinois and Oklahoma. But Hulbert also is touting WR/DB Darryl Johnson and 6-4, 194-pound WR Julius Shelby as big-time recruits.

Shelby is considering Bowling Green, Miami of Ohio, Western Michigan and other MAC schools.

First of all, Famous? Secondly, three D-1 wide receivers? The Titans will have to keep the pressure on Panther quarterback Malik Thurman.

Once again...

...Boring Old White Guy will go dark this weekend. (I'll be traveling up to Minnesota to visit my parents and check out that new stadium at the University of Minnesota. I'll also be collecting on a bet as the Fighting Illini upset the Golden Gophers.)

But before I go, I wanted to give my readers some last minute guidance on this weekend's Illinois high school football playoffs. And in 8A, I expect Maine South to defeat Leyden and Glenbrook South to beat Proviso West which will set up a rematch of the two Central Suburban Conference powers next week. Also, look for Stevenson to beat Mt. Carmel (sorry, Caravan, it's just not your year) and Loyola to narrowly edge Warren resulting in a showdown between the undefeated Patriots and the Ramblers.

In 7A, I'm calling for Marian Catholic to upset St. Rita. Star running back Jahwon Akui didn't play last week and I'm not convinced that he will be 100% this weekend. Without him, the Mustangs are very beatable. Also, East St. Louis will end Minooka's Cinderella season, and Glenbard West will make it easier to pronounce future combatants after putting away Hononegah.

6A should see Providence treating Oswego as nothing more than a speed bump on its way to the championship and Cary-Grove will defeat Highland Park in a tune-up to its game next week against De La Salle, which will beat Crystal Lake Central. While we're talking about 6A, let's give a shout-out to Marmion, which should advance after beating Prairie Ridge.

5A could feature the Game of the Week, as Joliet Catholic should defeat Cahokia in a shoot-out. These are two of the most underrated teams in the state.

4A is as far down as I will go today. The town of Mt. Carmel will defeat Rochester for the simple reason that it wouldn't be the playoffs without a team called Mt. Carmel. They will meet Effingham (you gotta love that name), who will beat Quincy ND. Coal City should advance over Richmond because the name of that town conjures up images for me of sooty-faced kids playing their hearts out. And finally, how can you not root for Bishop McNamara in its game against Geneseo? The No. 16-seed Irish beat the No. 1-seed Illinois Valley Central last week, 32-0.

Michael Smerconish has... interesting interview with Dede Scozzafava in the Daily Beast today. Much of what I thought I knew was wrong. For starters, she's a conservative Republican, not a moderate. Secondly, unlike the current Republican spin, she was not chosen by a small group of people in a smoke-filled room.

It makes me wonder what was really going on up there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The headline in

...says Conservatives on NY-23: We didn't lose. Of course not; neither did the Phillies.

One Florida-based tea-bagger, Everett Wilkinson, went so far as to say, “I wouldn’t consider it a loss. I think we were successful.” I'm sure Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel feels the same way this morning. We didn't lose the World Series, four games to two. We won.

Even Dick Armey could see through all the Democrats' spin. “He just got there late, that’s all,” Armey said. “We think small-government conservatives had a big victory last night.” That's right, Dick. Second-place in a two-man race is always considered a "big victory."

Wilkinson echoed Armey's point. “I think time was the biggest factor, and if [Hoffman had] had a bit more time, he would have won.” Never mind that one poll had Hoffman with a 17-point lead on Sunday night. Maybe he had too much time.

And Sarah Palin's words to Hoffman and other wingnuts? "The cause goes on." As a die-hard Cubs fan, I can relate.

In the Washington Post today... says that:

In Connecticut, GOP Senate candidate and former congressman Rob Simmons, regarded in Congress as a New England moderate, is linking himself to the tea party movement and carries a tea bag in his pocket along with a copy of the Constitution to try to fend off conservative primary challengers.

Sounds like an old Bela Lugosi movie, where people carry around garlic and a crucifix to ward off vampires.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post...

...weighs in on the House Republicans' health care bill. I'll summarize it for you: It covers fewer people at a higher cost. Thanks for coming in.

Erick Erickson runs...

...the influential Web site and was instrumental in getting the Republican, Dede Scozzafava, to resign in NY-23. (Bill Owens, the Democrat, ended up winning in a district that's been Republican for over 100 years. Oops.) Erickson plans to target other moderate Republicans in 2010. Good idea.

In the Daily Beast today, it says that Erickson: an elected official himself: He’s one of two Republican members of Macon, Georgia’s 15-member city council.

Only two Republicans? What are the other 13, Flat-Earthers? There's more:

Governance has even led him to moderate some of his more doctrinaire conservative views, he said. “I’m much more sympathetic now to Republican candidates who have been on city councils or county commissions and have voted to raise taxes, much more sympathetic than I would have been not being on council,” he said.

Really. I guess actual governing is complicated. I wonder if anyone is going to "primary" Erickson.

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas... concerned about the wingnuts in his party:

"We need to temper our conservative approach with pragmatism," the senator told The Washington Post.

You know it's getting bad when the guy from Texas is preaching moderation.

Say it ain't so...

...Mark! Illinois Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, the front-runner for the GOP nomination for the U. S. Senate seat once held by President Obama, is concerned about a challenge from the party's right wing. The Chicago Tribune reports that:

By Tuesday, Kirk was trying behind the scenes to get Palin to endorse him this month when she's in Chicago to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Kirk initially praised Palin when she was tapped by unsuccessful GOP presidential contender John McCain to be his running mate. Later, Kirk distanced himself from Palin, telling the Tribune editorial board in October 2008 that he didn't know if she was qualified to be president and that he "would have picked someone different."

Stay tuned. This should be interesting.

If the Republicans are smart...

...they will treat Doug Hoffman's loss in New York's 23rd Congressional District Tuesday as a wake-up call. The leaders of the party really have to step up and wrest control back from the wingnuts or the party will shrink further. But wait! The leaders of the party are the wingnuts. Quick! Who runs the GOP these days? Michael Steele, John Cornyn, John McCain? Or Dick Armey, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin? I would argue that it's the latter.

In today's New York Times, Mike Huckabee, who declined to endorse a candidate in NY-23, is quoted as saying that:

Republicans [should not] support third-party candidates, warning that doing so was a recipe for defeat. “There is potential danger if people believe the way to get the attention of Washington is through third-party candidates,” he said. “Typically what a third-party candidate does is ensure the election of the one you like the least.”

(You know it's a bad sign when the voice of reason in your party is the guy who doesn't believe in evolution.)

Huckabee, who is also the front-runner for the 2012 nomination in some polls, goes on to say in the very next paragraph that:

...Eager not to alienate conservatives, [he] made clear that he would support primary challenges to Republican candidates who he thought strayed from the party’s values. As one example, he said he was supporting a conservative challenger to Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, who is seeking the nomination for a Senate seat in a primary that is shaping up as the next big showdown between Republicans.

Oh well, so much for the voice of reason.

(Tim Pawlenty, who endorsed Hoffman after Sarah Palin and the rest, told reporters that he would not get involved in an intraparty battle again. I guess this political stuff is harder than it looks! Welcome to the NFL, TPaw.)

So the GOP is determined to shoot itself in the foot. Repeatedly. I used to think there were a lot of parallels between Obama and Reagan, and that the Republicans would run a Walter Mondale-type in 2012. Now I think it may be more analogous to 1964, when the Republicans ran Barry Goldwater. In both cases the opposition got crushed. I think it may take some kind of epic blow-out to convince the Republicans to abandon the wingnuts and move to the center. If not, they really are headed the way of the Whigs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Check out this video...

...of Doug Hoffman's concession speech. No wonder he didn't get the Republican nomination. He reminds me of Johnny Carson's substitute bandleader, Tommy Newsom, from the old "Tonight Show."

By the way, the 31-seat New York Congressional delegation now has only two Republicans.

The House Republican... care plan is out! I have just one question: Where was this when the Republicans controlled Congress for the last 12 years and it actually had a chance of passing? Answer: Safely up on a shelf collecting dust. (Shhh! The Republicans don't want health care reform. As the mob would say, it's bad for bidness.)

As I said before...

...forget the Republican victories for governor in Virginia and New Jersey yesterday. The big news was that the GOP, by backing the Conservative candidate in New York's 23rd Congressional District, handed a seat over to the Democrats that had been in Republican hands for over 100 years. (The 23rd has 45,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.) Expect to see more of this as the teabaggers battle the Washington establishment for control of the party.

Just yesterday, I noticed that one of their many targets next year could be Mark Kirk. Kirk is currently my representative in Congress. He's running for the Republican nomination for the U. S. Senate seat once held by President Obama. He has a great resume and comes across as a sober, responsible legislator. (He even looks like a Senator.) Kirk could very well wrest this seat away from the Democrats; it would be a huge victory for the Republicans. He's voted pretty much the party line for the eight years he's been in Congress. He supported President Bush consistently and has been a Member-in-Good-Standing of the Party of No since Obama's election.

As you can imagine, I'm not a big fan of Kirk's. Although I respect him personally, I just can't abide by his politics. I'd hate to see him win that seat in the Senate. But I may not have to worry for long if the teabaggers decide to "primary" him with a more conservative candidate. As I said, Kirk has been a reliable vote for the GOP since he's been in Congress. His one sin that I know of? He voted "yes" on cap-and-trade legislation and for this he may become a target of the right wing.

I'm all for it. Go ahead teabaggers, split the Republican Party in two and lose just like in New York's 23rd. Become more and more marginalized and let the Democrats get on with the nation's business.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I saw late yesterday...

...that the House Republicans had a health care bill of their own (the Senate Republicans do not). I looked forward to reading about it this morning, and went to Ezra Klein's blog in the Washington Post and Jonathan Cohn's daily column in the New Republic. They are my go-to guys for all things health care-related. When neither one had anything on it I went to, where I found this piece in the middle of the page. (I guess the reason is that Minority Leader John Boehner hasn’t released the full details yet.) I'll be interested to see what Klein and Cohn have to say about it in the next few days.

This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with my oldest brother. We were discussing health care over dinner and he suddenly asked me if I'd read the bill (a common debating tactic). My answer, of course, was "no." I've never read a piece of legislation in my life and I doubt that I ever will. (This bill in particular sounds awfully long and boring.) Come to think of it, I've never read any contract that I've signed. I guess I just rely on people to tell me what's in them. Does that make me lazy, or a good judge of people? I've never been surprised by anything in them (except my home insurance; they never cover anything), so it must be the latter. Maybe I'm neither; maybe I'm just typical (at least in this one instance). Honestly, who could ever read everything we're supposed to? It's just not possible. (I once had a friend who said, "Don't tell me you can't judge a book by its cover. Otherwise, I'd have to read 'em all.") If you pressed me on it, I can't even be absolutely certain that legislators are meeting in Washington to debate health care at all. I'm not there, so I rely on what I've read. Heck, I can't swear that the Bears played this past Sunday; I wasn't at Soldier Field. Again, I have to rely on others for information.

And that's my point. We have to rely on what we read and hear to interpret reality. We can't read everything and be everywhere at once. But where we can exercise control is in the sources we use to get our information. And that's why I've decided to listen more to an Ezra Klein on health care (or anything else for that matter) than, say, a Glenn Beck. This is where we get to use our powers of reasoning and ask, does this guy seem to know what he's talking about? Is he really knowledgeable? Does he have an axe to grind? How does he stack up against the other guy?

So, no, I haven't read the Pelosi or Reid bills. Nor will I read the Republican bill. Instead, I'll rely on others whom I trust to tell me what is actually in them. And I'll also trust them to help me decide what is good or bad about them. The trick is in choosing good filters and in constantly reassessing their value.

You gotta check out...

...the picture of this football coach. Tell me he wasn't sent straight from Central Casting. It's not hard to imagine him coaching Alex Karras, which he did. And that guy next to him with the single bar? I bet that worked real well in the days before the helmet-to-helmet rule.

Oh, and one of his assistants was named Bump Elliott. You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, November 2, 2009

In NY-23...

...the Republican Dede Scozzafava has endorsed the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens. Doug Hoffman, the Conservative candidate, is heavily favored to win on Intrade. (I predict that Owens will win due to the fact that Scozzafava's name will still be on the ballot.)

Either way, this race will have far-reaching consequences for the Republican Party and the nation as a whole. Again, only 20% of Americans identify with the Republican Party. How can splitting it further improve their chances at the ballot box?