Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who is Fremd?

Or, as my brother once put it, "Who ever heard of the 'M' and the 'D' next to each other?"

Fremd High School opened its doors as Palatine South in 1963. The school was later named after William Fremd, a longtime member of the board of education. Oh, and Fremd also donated the land for the school.

Fremd currently enrolls about 2900 students and its athletic teams compete in the West Division of the Mid-Suburban League.

Famous alums (sort of) include two-time all-star catcher Todd Hundley, former NFL linebacker Jim Schwantz (later elected mayor of Palatine) and Kris Myers (above), the drummer for the jam band Umphrey's McGee.

The football team is coached by Mike Donatucci and has made 15 consecutive playoff appearances without advancing beyond the quarterfinals.

Rated No. 9 in the Tribune's pre-season rankings, Fremd lost four of its first five games. When freshman Sam Beutler (above) took over at quarterback in the Buffalo Grove game, however, the Vikings began to turn things around.

Led by running back Justin Wallace (above), behind the blocking of Ohio State-bound Brian Bobek and Northwestern-bound Jack Konopka, Fremd has won its last five games, against such post-season qualifiers as Palatine, Barrington and Evanston.

Fremd's 2010 season in a nutshell:

Lake Zurich 20, Fremd 10
Prospect 28, Fremd 14
Elk Grove 29, Fremd 22
Fremd 26, Buffalo Grove 14
Schaumburg 17, Fremd 14
Fremd 30, Hoffman Estates 0
Fremd 17, Palatine 16
Fremd 26, Barrington 12
Fremd 31, Conant 10
Fremd 24, Evanston 13

Let's run through that second round...

...IHSA schedule again, shall we? Here are the teams I've been following:

Class 8A:

#8 South Elgin (7-3) at #1 Stevenson (10-0);
#5 Bartlett (8-2) at #4 Maine South (8-2);
#2 Loyola (9-1) at #10 Fremd (6-4);
#14 Palatine (6-4) at #11 Glenbrook South (6-4);
#5 Waubonsie Valley (8-2) at #4 Homewood-Flossmoor (8-2); and
#3 Mount Carmel (8-2) at #11 Neuqua Valley (7-3).

Class 7A:

#1 Simeon (10-0) at #9 Schaumburg (8-2);
#2 St. Rita (9-1) at #10 Harlem (8-2);
#6 Hononegah (9-1) at #3 Carmel (9-1);
#4 Wheaton North (8-2) at #1 Wheaton Warrenville South (10-0);
#3 Lincoln-Way East (9-1) at #2 Glenbard West (9-1); and
#3 Minooka (9-1) at #2 Plainfield South (9-1).

Class 5A:

#6 Montini (8-2) at #3 Sycamore (9-1); and
#3 Sterling (8-2) at #2 Joliet Catholic (9-1).

It was #11 Glenbrook South in an upset...

...over #6 Barrington, 35-28. The Titans will now play #14 Palatine. (The winner of that contest will play the winner of the Loyola-Fremd game.)

Meanwhile, in 7A, #9 Schaumburg defeated #8 Elk Grove, 38-21. The Saxons will now face undefeated and #1 seed Simeon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

#2 Glenbard West shut down Kapri Bibbs...

...and #7 Plainfield North, 51-12. The Hilltoppers will play #3 Lincoln-Way East next week.

I had read that Bill Duchon Field at Glenbard West High School was named by USA Today as one of the top ten places to watch a high school football game. That, combined with a beautiful forecast and the chance to see Kapri Bibbs, one of the best running backs in the state of Illinois, was enough to bring me out to Glen Ellyn today. I wasn't disappointed.

Glen Ellyn is absolutely gorgeous -- very hilly and wooded. And Glenbard West (above) is a charming school, built in 1922 with dark red brick in a castle-like design at the top of Honeysuckle Hill, hence the nickname "Hilltoppers." (The football team seems to have its own nickname, the "Hitters.")

Bill Duchon Field (above) sits in the shadow of the main school building, in a hollow that was once home to Lake Ellyn. A smaller version of the lake remains beyond the northeast corner, surrounded by quaint homes and trees. Unlike most high school stadiums I've been, it isn't the least bit windy; it reminded me of York High School in Elmhurst. Oh, and you know you're in the right place when you see a Vienna hot dog cart as you approach the entrance. (I felt compelled to sample one of the vendor's wares at halftime and it was quite good, I am happy to report.)

On the drive out to Glen Ellyn, all I could think was, this Plainfield North team sounds like a one-trick pony -- Kapri Bibbs and that's it. If the Hilltoppers can just key on him the game will be over.

So imagine my surprise when Glenbard West opened the game by kicking to Bibbs! What is Coach Hetlet thinking? But the pigskin sailed over Bibbs's head for a touchback. Lucky for the Hilltoppers!

Well, let's see, who do you think they'll give the ball to on the first play? Sure enough, it was Bibbs. And what do you suppose he did? Scampered 80 yards for a touchdown -- on the first play from scrimmage! Hoo-boy! This is going to be a good 'n!

Gee, coach, didn't you watch any films of this team? Don't you at least read Boring Old White Guy?

But the Hilltoppers had a few tricks up their sleeves, as well. And on their second play from scrimmage, their stud running back, Nick Burrello (above), ran about 70 yards for a touchdown.

What, are these guys just going to trade touchdowns all day? Well, not exactly. Glenbard West held the Tigers on the next series and Burrello scored again for the Hilltoppers. After recovering an onside kick and scoring again to make it 19-6, it became clear it was just a question of time. Bibbs just couldn't get it going, the Glenbard West linemen were bigger -- on both sides of the ball -- and the contest turned out to be a mismatch.

But I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

In other Saturday afternoon games:

Class 8A:

#4 Maine South blanked #13 Notre Dame, 47-0. Next game for the Hawks will be #5 Bartlett.

#2 Loyola shut out # 15 Whitney Young, 42-0. The Ramblers will play #10 Fremd next week.

Class 7A:

#3 Minooka beat #5 Quincy, 26-7. #2 Plainfield South will be next for the Indians.

Class 6A:

#13 Fenwick fell to #4 Prairie Ridge, 35-26. (Who? Who cares; it's 6A.)

Class 5A:

#6 Montini defeated #11 St. Francis, 21-14.

#7 Fremd beats #10 Evanston, 24-13,...

...for the right to play the winner of today's Loyola-Whitney Young game. Running back Justin Wallace (above) gained 288 yards on 43 carries and scored three touchdowns for the Vikings. Wallace also converted three first downs on fourth-and-one.

The victory was Fremd's fifth in a row after a disastrous 1-4 start.

In other Friday night games:

Class 8A:

#1 Stevenson shut out # 16 New Trier, 21-0;
#4 Homewood-Flossmoor defeated #13 Curie, 41-14;
#12 Brother Rice lost to #5 Waubonsie Valley, 33-7; and
#3 Mount Carmel crushed #14 Bolingbrook, 55-27.

Class 7A:

#2 St. Rita (without Jahwon Akui) beat #15 Highland Park, 28-19;
#10 Harlem (who?) upset #7 Glenbrook North, 31-21;
#3 Carmel had no trouble with #14 Elgin, 55-7; and
# 1 Wheaton Warrenville continued its inexorable march to Champaign against Benet, 49-7.

Class 5A:

# Joliet Catholic annihilated #7 Washington, 49-7. (Again, who? Doesn't matter now.)

The cartoon of the day:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mount Carmel defeats Bolingbrook, 55-27,...

...for Frank Lenti's 300th coaching victory. The Caravan will now play the winner of the Downers Grove South-Neuqua Valley game.

Also, St. Rita's star running back Jahwon Akui will miss tonight's game against Highland Park:

“He’s academically ineligible,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “It’s the first time in four years that’s happened to him. He was out of school and missed some work and his grades slipped.”

The good news is if the Mustangs (8-1) can survive tonight’s upset bid, Akui will return next week.

“He got his grades back up and he’s good to go next week,” Kuska said. “Hopefully, we can overcome his absence and advance to next week.”

James MacArthur, who played...

...Danno (left) on "Hawaii Five-O," died at age 72. I never cared much for the show, but it had one of the best theme songs ever.

Who woulda thunk it?

From Politico:

Does President Barack Obama deserve credit for the fact that corporate profits have risen faster under him than during any other 18-month period since the 1920s?

Profits have surged 62 percent from the start of 2009 to mid-2010, according to the Commerce Department. That is faster than any other year and a half in the Fabulous ’50s, the Go-Go ’60s or the booms under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Not bad for a president who's supposedly "anti-business."

I wrote a post the other day...

...about asset bubbles and I must not have been very clear on what I was trying to say. So let me take another stab at it.

Alan Greenspan once famously said, "It's easy to see bubbles looking back; it's not so easy to see them as they are developing."

I disagree -- and that's my point. I think we all know when we're in the midst of a bubble; we just underestimate its longevity.

Take four examples from my lifetime: the gold and precious metals bubble of the late 1970s, the stock market bubble of the '80s, the dot-com bubble of the '90s and the real estate bubble of the aughts. I would argue that in each case, the conventional wisdom was that the particular asset in question was, in fact, in a speculative bubble; it's just that each one lasted longer than anyone expected.

I remember watching "Wall $treet Week, with Louis Rukeyser," back in the late '70s when the guests were discussing the bubble in precious metals. I immediately called my brother and breathlessly told him, "Some guy named Hunt is cornering the silver market!" as if I had any idea what that meant. He replied, calmly, "Yeah, the Hunt brothers. Everybody knows that." And I thought, really?

Well, it wasn't too long before the precious metals market collapsed and the Hunts lost a ton of money. And who got rich from short-selling? Beats me. All I know is that everyone who tried -- for two years -- got run over.

(By the way, if you haven't heard this story about Lamar Hunt, the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs, it's a good one -- if not necessarily true:

A reporter was said to have told his father, H. L. Hunt, "Mr. Hunt, your son is going to lose $1 million a year on that new league." And the oil baron is supposed to have answered, "Well, at that rate he'll be finished in 150 years." I think that was lifted from Citizen Kane, but whatever.)

Then there was the stock market bubble of the '80s which ended in October, 1987. I was working in the S&P pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and all I remember is everyone getting short on every rally in anticipation of a market crash. The best example was a new trader who got short hundreds of contracts one day in August of that year only to get liquidated by his trading firm. That was about a week or so before the all-time high at the time.

And who called the top in the market? Some analyst named Elaine Garzarelli. Ever heard of her? I didn't think so. Oh, and every other analyst called for a top, too. It's just that they started in about 1982 and were all wrong for five years.

The dot-com bubble of the '90s? I had a conversation with my brother-in-law, the investment banker, at the time about I asked him if they were for real, did they make any money, etc. And he basically said, "No, none of it makes any sense."

"So we're in a bubble, then, right?"

"I guess so."

Did we get short Amazon, or any other dot-com stock and make millions? Of course not; the Nasdaq rallied for another three or four years after our conversation. (Amazon, ironically, was one of the dot-coms that turned out to be profitable.)

Finally, there was the real estate bubble of the last decade. And again, I recall riding my bike and walking around town and wondering, "Am I the only poor sap who can't afford a $2 million house? Or is this all some great big bubble?" Sure enough, the bubble burst -- four years later!

So let me try it one more time: the bond market right now is in a bubble. But anyone selling bonds (or buying inflation-protected bonds) is probably going to be sorry, because bubbles last a lot longer than we think. My take away from this recent auction of negative interest five-year notes is that inflation won't be back for a long, long time.

Round 1 of the IHSA playoffs...

...begins today! The games I'll be watching most closely are:

Class 8A: #16 seed New Trier at # 1 Stevenson;
                 #13 Curie at #4 Homewood-Flossmoor;
                 #12 Brother Rice at #5 Waubonsie Valley;
                 #14 Bolingbrook at #3 Mount Carmel.

Class 7A: #15 Highland Park at #2 St. Rita;
                 #10 Harlem (who?) at #7 Glenbrook North;
                 #14 Elgin at #3 Carmel;
                 #8 Benet at #1 Wheaton Warrenville South (ouch).

Class 5A: #7 Washington (again, who?) at #2 Joliet Catholic.

And tomorrow:

Class 8A: #13 Notre Dame at #4 Maine South;
                #15 Young at #2 Loyola;
                #11 Glenbrook South at #6 Barrington.

Class 7A: #9 Schaumburg at #8 Elk Grove;
                #7 Plainfield North at #2 Glenbard West;
                #5 Quincy at #3 Minooka.

Class 6A: #13 Fenwick at #4 Prairie Ridge.

Class 5A: #11 St. Francis at #6 Montini.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Joel Pett cartoon of the day:

Richard Gill died... age 82. The Times obit describes him as an "economist and opera singer," which alone makes him worth mentioning. But what really caught my eye was this (my emphasis):

By his late 30s, shouldering academic and family responsibilities, Mr. Gill was a two-and-a-half-pack-a-day smoker. He made himself quit and, as an incentive to stay on the wagon, began private voice lessons with Herbert Mayer, a respected New York teacher.

...during the years of rigorous vocal exercise that followed, his neck size grew from 14 to 17 ½.

What do Henry Paulson...

...Gary Fencik,

and Terry Moran have in common?

That's right! They are all graduates of Barrington High School, Glenbrook South's first-round opponent Saturday night. (Paulson went on to play football at some college out East -- I forget which one.)

The Broncos (7-2), who compete in the Mid-Suburban Conference, are coached by Joe Sanchez. Although Barrington had a disappointing 2009, going 3-6, Sanchez was hoping to lead the Broncos to the playoffs for the second time in three years and the seventh since joining the program.

Besides a solid defense, the Broncos were rebuilding their traditionally strong offensive line, anchored by 6'4", 305-pound senior Jimmy Kristof and 6'5", 290-pound junior Dan Voltz. In the backfield, Chase Murdock (above) and Nico Martinez were developing into talented, if injury-prone, running backs. (Murdock, who gained over 1,000 yards this season for the second year in a row, has been compared by some to Barrington legend Dan Pohlman.)

There was only one piece of the puzzle missing: quarterback. How would Sanchez ever fill the gaping hole left by last year's MVP, Terrance Terry, who accounted for 3,400 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns? It seemed no one was ready to step up.

Enter Matt LeMire (above). The Broncos' starting quarterback transferred to Barrington for his senior year without any advance notice. Over the summer, LeMire went to check out the school while the team was lifting weights and introduced himself.

"I came by and the players were nice," LeMire recalled. "They accepted me."

Perhaps LeMire would have believed that he would be the last person to start for the Broncos in the season opener, just a few months after moving. LeMire never even started for his previous school, Canutillo High School in El Paso, Texas. That school opened in 1996 and had only 1,523 students last year. Barrington, in contrast, opened its doors in 1949 and enrolls over 3,000.

It was all coming together for Coach Sanchez.

The Broncos now face the Titans (5-4) for the first time as Class 8A first-round opponents. Barrington will need to stop senior running back John Strickland (above), arguably the team's MVP. Not only is Strickland GBS's leading rusher, he also starts at defensive back.

Saturday's victor will play the winner of the Palatine-Glenbard North contest.

Barrington's season in a nutshell:

Barrington 41, Libertyville 28
Barrington 30, Elk Grove 23 (OT)
Barrington 35, Hersey 14
Barrington 24, Wheeling 7
Barrington 49, Conant 21
Barrington 34, Schaumburg 32
Barrington 17, Hoffman Estates 6
Fremd 26, Barrington 12
Palatine 21, Barrington 10

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jamie Conway, the song...

...of the day is for you.

All this talk of Michael Bloomberg...

...running for president as a third party candidate in 2012 is just that: talk. It's nearly impossible for a third party candidate to get anywhere under the current election laws. Bloomberg may take a look at it, but he's too smart and too practical to make a Don Quixote-like quest.

Mikhail Gorbachev...

...was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991. From an article in the Times today:

Mr. Gorbachev, who oversaw the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, offered his observations about the current NATO mission in that country, saying that success there was impossible for an occupier. “It would be necessary to exterminate people,” he said, emphasizing that that was obviously not an option.

Glenbard West, Glenbard...

...East, Glenbard North, Glenbard South, Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South -- it's all very confusing. Just remember, Glenbard West is the alma mater of Sean Hayes (above). Got it?

Seriously, Glenbard West was christened as such in 1959 when Glenbard East was established in nearby Lombard. Before that, the school was known simply as Glenbard Township High School. It acquired that name in 1922 when Glen Ellyn High School moved to its current location from the second floor of the DuPage Bank Building. (I am not making this up.)

The football stadium, Bill Duchon Field, was originally under water -- Lake Ellyn -- and the property was sold to the Park Board for one dollar. In 2001, the 5,000-seat stadium was recognized as one of the top ten places to watch high school football in the country by USA Today. Huh. I'll let you know what I think after the game Saturday.

The football team is coached by Chad Hetlet and competes in the West Suburban Conference, which was founded in 1924. Before Hetlet took over the Hilltoppers in 2007, the program had only 125 players at all levels. Today it has over 200. Hetlet arrived at Glenbard West from McHenry High School, where he took over the program from Glenbrook South's Mike Noll. Is McHenry High the new "Cradel of Coaches," or something?

Running back Nick Burrello (above) appears to be the big stud on Glenbard West. I don't have any statistics on him, but he looks like the go-to guy on an offense which averaged over 33 points a game this year.

"Nick is a special kid," Hetlet said before the season. "He's got a lot of speed, he's a talented runner and he's gotten so much stronger and faster from last year. That's who we're going to lean on this year to make plays for us."

Burrello is joined in the backfield by Beau Warden and Kendall Johnson. The offensive line is solid, featuring the Iowa-bound Jordan Walsh (above), Johnny Caspers, Ross Green, Adam Smith and Nick Garland. The quarterback spot is a question mark, however, as Daver Glawe has been called upon to take over from the injured starter, senior Mike Matthew.

The defense, which allowed an average of just over seven points a game before the Lyons fiasco, will have its hands full this weekend with Plainfield North's Kapri Bibbs. It will be up to Tommy Schutt, Mike Laning, Andrew LarkinMike Marston, Craig Olsen, Zach Marshall and Justin Mesch to contain the Tiger phenom.

This is probably what the contest will hinge on. If they succeed, the Hilltoppers will get another shot at Wheaton Warrenville South, whom they lost to in the 7A championship in double overtime last year.

The Hilltoppers' 2010 schedule, in a nutshell:

Glenbard West 41, Glenbard South 7
Glenbard West 21, Downers Grove South 16
Glenbard West 28, Hinsdale Central 7
Glenbard West 42, Oak Park 0
Glenbard West 41, Proviso West 15
Glenbard West 41, Addison Trail 7
Glenbard West 27, York 10
Glenbard West 47, Downers Grove North 7
Lyons 31, Glenbard West 13

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Alex Anderson, the creator...

...of Rocky and Bullwinkle, died at age 90.

Bubbles always last longer...

...than people expect (my emphasis):

At a time when savers complain that they are earning almost no interest from their bank accounts, some investors on Monday bought United States government bonds that effectively had a negative rate of return.

Bizarre as it sounds, that is correct. In an auction of a special kind of five-year Treasury bond, investors paid $105.50 for every $100 of bonds the government sold — agreeing to pay the government for the privilege of lending it money.

The reason is that these types of bonds offer a guaranteed protection against inflation. So, if inflation soars — as some economists worry might happen, with the government seeking to give the economy a boost by flooding it with money — the value of the bonds would go up accordingly.

The investors who took part in the $10 billion auction are betting that inflation, now at about 1 percent annually, will rise to a level that more than compensates for the premium they paid.

Inflation-protected Treasury securities have already been trading at negative yields on the open market for some time, as professional and institutional investors have sought to hedge their portfolios against the risk of inflation. But Monday was the first time since the government began selling these so-called Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities in the 1990s that new ones were sold at a negative yield.

Buyers “believe we have reached the bottom of the inflation cycle and the next move is higher, not lower,” said Kevin H. Giddis, the executive managing director and president for fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Keegan & Company.

Anyone recognize that guy on the right?

That's Ngo Dinh Diem, president of South Vietnam from 1955-63. Assassinated in a coup d'etat, he was eventually replaced by this man:

Nguyen Van Thieu, president from 1965-75. Both men were hopelessly corrupt and this was just one of the many, many reasons the Vietnam War proved to be such a fool's errand.

Why do I bring this up on a rainy October morning? Because of this story in the Times, "Afghan Leader Admits His Office Gets Cash from Iran." What?

President Hamid Karzai acknowledged on Monday that he regularly receives bags of cash from the Iranian government in payments amounting to millions of dollars, as evidence mounted of a worsening rift between his government and its American and NATO supporters.

During an often hostile news conference, Mr. Karzai also accused the United States of financing the “killing” of Afghans by paying private security contractors to guard construction projects and convoys in Afghanistan. He has declined to postpone a December deadline he set for ending the use of private security forces despite urgent pleas from Western organizations, including development organizations, that need protection here.

His statements were the latest indication that American relations with Mr. Karzai were badly frayed, despite diplomatic efforts to mend ties and improve governance in Afghanistan. The tensions threaten to undermine President Obama’s goal of handing responsibility for the war against the Taliban to Mr. Karzai and the Afghan military, allowing the United States to begin withdrawing troops next year.

“They do give us bags of money — yes, yes, it is done,” Mr. Karzai said, responding to questions about a report in The New York Times on Sunday that Iran sends regular cash payments to his chief of staff, Umar Daudzai. “We are grateful to the Iranians for this.”

“Patriotism has a price,” he said.

Is there any doubt that this thing will not end well for the U. S.?

Plainfield North will travel to Glenbard West...

...this Saturday in the first round of the 7A playoffs. The Tigers (7-2) will be led by running back Kapri Bibbs (above), who has committed to Colorado State next year. The 5'10", 195-pound senior rushed for 2,560 yards on 282 carries this year. To give you some perspective, only seven running backs in the NFL carried the ball as many times in the 2009 regular season -- and that was in twice as many games. Oh, and Bibbs also scored 37 touchdowns.

But Glenbard West (8-1), last year's 7A runner-up, is known for its stingy defense. The Hilltoppers allowed fewer than ten points a game before last week's 31-13 debacle against Lyons. The upset was Glenbard West's first regular season loss since 2007 and knocked them from No. 2 in the Tribune rankings down to No. 12.

Next: Let's have a closer look at Glenbard West, shall we?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Anyone who's followed my posts...

...on high school football this year can attest to my disastrous prediction record. (I don't dare compile my "winning" percentage; it would just be too humbling.)

But that won't stop me. So here goes nothing: Sharron Angle will defeat Harry Reid for the U. S. Senate from Nevada.

The race is considered by experts to be too close to call right now. But Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation (14.2%) in a year when the unemployment rate is far and away the most important issue. Add to that Harry Reid's high personal unfavorables and the fact that it's a Republican year anyway, and it's clear to me: he's going down.

Also, Sharron Angle is about as wacky as Christine O'Donnell. (You know, the woman from Delaware who keeps claiming she's not a witch.) So if she's still in the race this late in the game -- with all of her negatives -- then Angle should eke out a victory.

The good news for Democrats? Like the rest of the tea partiers that win this year, Angle will be a one-termer. Once independents and moderates get a good look at these people they'll run in the opposite direction -- fast.

I'm beginning to wonder...

...if the same people that rely on a literal interpretation of the Bible are the ones who keep insisting on a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Maybe there's something reassuring about primary sources.

Howard Kurtz has a good...

...observation today:

Imagine if the Chilean mining disaster had happened here in the States. President Obama would have been hammered for 69 days for failing to rescue the men, right up to the moment the first one was pulled to safety.

Also from yesterday's Times:

Maureen Down wrote about Clarence Thomas...

...and his wife yesterday (my emphasis):

We don’t know why Ginni Thomas, who was once in the thrall of a cultish self-help group called Lifespring, made that odd call to Hill at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. But we do know that the Thomases show supremely bad judgment. Mrs. Thomas, a queen of the Tea Party, is the founder of a new nonprofit group, Liberty Central, which she boasts will be bigger than the Tea Party. She sports and sells those foam Statue of Liberty-style crowns as she makes her case against the “tyranny” of President Obama and Congressional Democrats, who, she charges, are hurting the “core founding principles” of America.

As The Times’s Jackie Calmes wrote, Mrs. Thomas started her nonprofit in late 2009 with two gifts of $500,000 and $50,000, and additional sums this year that we don’t know about yet. She does not have to disclose the donors, whose money makes possible the compensation she brings into the Thomas household.

There is no way to tell if her donors have cases before the Supreme Court or whether her husband knows their identities. And she never would have to disclose them if her husband had his way.

The 5-to-4 Citizens United decision last January gave corporations, foreign contributors, unions, Big Energy, Big Oil and superrich conservatives a green light to surreptitiously funnel in as much money as they want, whenever they want to elect or unelect candidates. As if that weren’t enough to breed corruption, Thomas was the only justice — in a rare case of detaching his hip from Antonin Scalia’s — to write a separate opinion calling for an end to donor disclosures.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who the heck is Young?

Well, for starters, it's the alma mater of the First Lady, Michelle Obama. That could be even worse for Rambler fans than Maine South and its most famous alum, Hillary Clinton.

It used to be said that the Episcopal Church was "the Republican Party at prayer." Now you could substitute the Catholic Church, especially since you could fit the last remaining Episcopalians comfortably in a (small) phone booth. (I can just see my kids scratching their heads right now and asking, what's a phone booth?)

Seriously, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School is a highly selective Chicago public school that opened its doors in 1975 as the city's first magnet high school. Located on the Near West Side, Young is known for its academic excellence. In fact, when people think of Young they usually think of its chess, debate and Academic Decathlon teams. (I have no idea what that last one is, but it sounds impressive.)

But Young does have a football team, they're called the Dolphins (I guess by 1975 all the other nicknames were taken) and are coached by Tim Franken, Al's little brother (just kidding).

Actually, in 2004 Young set a modern day IHSA record with eight consecutive shutouts. Not bad for a magnet school. But no one is expecting that kind of performance against Loyola.

The Dolphins enter the playoffs at 5-4 and have essentially one player -- as far as I can tell -- that the Ramblers need to worry about, Terry Baggett (above). The senior plays quarterback and tailback and seems to carry the ball on just about every play. Baggett has scored at least 21 touchdowns (by my count) and that doesn't include the game against Lincoln Park in which Young scored 70 points or the 48 against Hope. In the game against Lane, the Sun-Times said:

In the second half, Baggett shook off an injury in which he was coughing up blood on the sidelines to rush for two more touchdowns of 88 and 84 yards.

This kid's a gamer!

But one player does not a team make. Loyola should win this one and advance to play the winner of the Evanston-Fremd game.

Here's the Dolphins' season in a nutshell:

King 34, Young 26
Young 49, South Shore 0
Young 48, Hope 20
Simeon 61, Young 12 (ouch!)
Young 35, Dunbar 34
Young 35, Lane 21
Curie 32, Young 14
Young 70, Lincoln Park 6
Orr 26, Young 12

Loyola finishes the regular season at No. 3... the Tribune poll. The Ramblers are the top 8A team in the poll and are seeded No. 2 in their bracket. The Wilmette squad will face Young in the first round of the playoffs.

St. Rita dropped to No. 4 in the Trib poll and will begin the post-season against Highland Park.

Stevenson comes in at No. 6, is seeded No. 1 in their 8A bracket, and will play New Trier. (Why do I think the Patriots and the Ramblers are on a collision course?)

Mount Carmel vaulted to No. 7 with its shutout of Providence Friday and will square off against Bolingbrook.

Carmel dropped to No. 8 after losing to Cincinnati Elder, 21-14, and will play Elgin.

And finally, Maine South finished at No. 15 and will play Notre Dame in the first round.

The IHSA brackets are out!

In 8A, Stevenson and York are the No. 1 seeds (that's Joe Cassata of the Patriots, above), with Loyola and Lyons at No. 2. Stevenson is the only undefeated team in 8A. York, meanwhile, is one of three 8-1 teams from the West Suburban Silver conference.

Mount Carmel, at No. 3, enters the playoffs with the second longest streak of appearances, 25. (DuQuoin has the most, 27, in the 36 years since the IHSA began the state football playoffs.)

Maine South and Homewood-Flossmoor are both No. 4. The Vikings finished the regular season yesterday by beating Joliet West, 56-44. H-F is going into the post-season 7-2 after finishing last year at 1-8. They'll face No. 13 Curie.

Evanston is seeded No. 7 and will begin the playoffs against No. 10 seed Fremd. Glenbrook South is No. 11 and will play No. 6 Barrington. (GBS is one of 47 5-4 teams that made the playoffs; 17 did not.) And Brother Rice, at No. 12, will play No. 5 Waubonsie Valley.

In 7A, Wheaton Warrenville South is seeded No. 1, of course, and will open up against No. 8 seed Benet. Simeon is the other No. 1 seed, and the Wolverines will square off against No. 16 St. Ignatius.

St. Rita is at No. 2, and Carmel and Minooka are both No. 3. The Indians will play No. 6 Quincy. Glenbrook North and Plainfield North are the No. 7 seeds. The Spartans will take on No. 10 Harlem while Kapri Bibbs will lead the Tigers against No. 2 Glenbard West.

Finally, Schaumburg is at No. 9 and will play No. 8 Elk Grove. This could be the Game of the Night; the Saxons will try to avenge their 36-34 loss to the Grenadiers in the regular season.

6A has Lake Forest, Fenwick (who beat Brother Rice yesterday, 23-7) and Marmion.

5A has Joliet Catholic (ranked No. 5 in the Trib but only a No. 2 seed -- go figure!) and Montini.

4A, 3A, 2A, and 1A are linked here if anyone cares.

What's with the "A," anyway?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We interrupt this blog... bring you a special bulletin from Bob Herbert:

The war in Afghanistan, the longest in our history, began on Oct. 7, 2001. It’s now in its 10th year. After all this time and all the blood shed and lives lost, it’s still not clear what we’re doing. Osama bin Laden hasn’t been found. The Afghan Army can’t stand on its own. Our ally in Pakistan can’t be trusted, and our man in Kabul is, at best, flaky. A good and humane society would not keep sending its young people into that caldron.

Sgt. First Class Lance Vogeler, 29, was killed a few weeks ago while serving in the Army in his 12th combat tour. That’s right, his 12th — four in Iraq and eight in Afghanistan. Sergeant Vogeler was married and the father of two children, and his wife was expecting their third. 

[A] record numbers of soldiers are killing themselves. At least 125 committed suicide through August of this year, an awful pace that if continued would surpass last year’s all-time high of 162.

Plainfield North's Kapri Bibbs...

...strengthened his claim to Player of the Year last night by scoring five touchdowns (three for 31, 52 and 65 yards) and throwing  92 yards for a sixth as the Tigers upset No. 13 Plainfield South, 43-35. The Colorado State-bound running back scored the winning touchdown with two minutes remaining on his 56th and final carry of the night. Bibbs finished the game with 395 yards rushing and carried the ball on all but two plays in the second half.

Elsewhere, Evanston upset Glenbrook South, 34-31, at John Davis Stadium in Glenview. At 5-4, the Titans should draw one of the top seeds in the playoffs (maybe Loyola). No. 1 Wheaton Warrenville South finished their season undefeated by crushing West Aurora, 42-6. No. 7 Stevenson beat Antioch, 36-21; No. 14 Mount Carmel blanked Providence, 35-0; No. 15 Maine South defeated New Trier, 42-21; Minooka beat Oswego, 27-21, in overtime; Schaumburg defeated Hoffman Estates, 56-14; Notre Dame fell to Nazareth, 25-21; and Montini bested Marmion in overtime, 27-21.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Loyola beat St. Rita, 24-21!

Malcolm Weaver (above) threw for 131 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 8 Ramblers upset the previously unbeaten No. 3 Mustangs last night on the South Side.

The Wilmette squad now shares in a three-way tie for the Catholic League Blue title with St. Rita and Mount Carmel. It's Loyola's first conference title since 1993, before many of the current players were even born.

The Ramblers took advantage of four turnovers and two fake punts, including a dramatic one from its own 32-yard line with just over four minutes remaining in the final quarter. The first down allowed Loyola to eat up the clock and force an interception from St. Rita on the next set of downs to end the game.

Glenn Beck and the wingnuts...

...aren't just unhappy with President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi; now they're mad at Woodrow Wilson. That's right; in a piece in Slate, "Hating Woodrow Wilson," David Greenberg writes:

The craggy-faced Virginian who became a leading political scientist and university president; the celebrated governor of New Jersey who, as president, led the nation to victory in World War I, is faulted for the income tax, the Federal Reserve, bureaucrats, socialists, eugenics, and even the rise of Nazism.

The first graduated income tax was established under Abraham Lincoln in 1862. And the first Central Bank was chartered in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton in the administration of George Washington. 

Does that mean Honest Abe and the Father of our Country are next on the tea partiers' list?

Clarence Thomas's ex-girlfriend... now corroborating Anita Hill's testimony in regard to the justice's inappropriate behavior toward women in the workplace:

"He was obsessed with porn," [Lillian McEwen] said of Thomas, who is now 63. "He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting."

According to McEwen, Thomas would also tell her about women he encountered at work. He was partial to women with large breasts, she said. In an instance at work, Thomas was so impressed that he asked one woman her bra size, McEwen recalled him telling her.

The article continues on in this vein; I'll let you read it yourself -- after all, this is a "family" blog.

Besides, the point I want to make is that I guarantee -- guarantee -- that the Wall Street Journal will seize on this one sentence to discredit McEwen:

She has written a memoir, which she is now shopping to publishers.

Just wait; they should have an editorial no later than Monday. 

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman...

...has spent $163 million in her campaign for governor of California so far.

She currently trails the Democratic candidate, Jerry Brown, by 8 percentage points.

This is a good businesswoman?

I've been reading a book...

...about Theodore Roosevelt and was struck by this line last night:

Edith [Roosevelt] found the Executive Mansion rat-infested and too small for her family, and the President joined his sons in rat-chasing during family dinners.

Rat-chasing? What's the best smart-aleck response to this?

(A) I knew there was something missing from my childhood.

(B) Growing up in the White House sure sounds glamorous!

(C) And to think, when I was a kid all we ever did at dinner was talk about sports.