Friday, October 28, 2011

I'll be visiting my mother... Minnesota this weekend. Blogging should be light to non-existent.

As usual, David Frum... spot-on (my emphasis):

The identification of the GOP as mouthpiece for the selfish interests of the wealthy is a stubborn image, difficult to overcome at the best of times. For three years, however, Republican leaders have been doing their utmost to confirm the stereotype – and to quash and quell any attempt to counter that stereotype. Did we really spend months and months arguing that one of the things most wrong with the US tax code is that the poor and unemployed pay too little tax? Yes we did. Head shake. Face slap.

Let's cut to the chase... 8A: Maine South, led by quarterback Matt Alviti (who visited Notre Dame last week), should repeat as champions (sorry Rambler fans). After defeating either Stevenson or York, and probably Palatine, the Hawks will beat -- once again -- Loyola in the semifinals. The Ramblers will have defeated Evanston (again) and Glenbrook South before falling to their nemesis from Park Ridge.

In the other bracket, Homewood-Flossmoor is my dark horse to make the semifinals, in which they will lose to Bolingbrook after the Raiders defeat Sandburg. (All three of these teams -- as well as Lincoln-Way East -- are from the Southwest Suburban Conference, which I think is one of the very best in the state.)

P. S. Mike Helfgot of the Trib has a really good piece on the 8A bracket here. My only problem is with Mount Carmel. I've seen them play three times this year (against Simeon, Loyola and St. Rita) and they are just not your father's Caravan. I expect them to go down early.

To sum it all up:

In the 6A finals, it's Prairie Ridge over Lemont;
in 7A, it will be Glenbard West over Lincoln-Way East; and
in 8A, I'll pick Maine South over Bolingbrook.

Enjoy the games!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Or will President Obama... for reelection as State Senator Obama in 2004 with Herman Cain (above) playing the role of that other conservative African American Republican, Alan Keyes (below)?

What's with these guys and the black hats?

The second chart of the... And you thought health care costs were out of control...

The cartoon of the day:

If President Obama...

...plays the role of Harry Truman in 1948, running against the "do-nothing Congress," will Mitt Romney play the part of Thomas Dewey, that other wooden Eastern establishment Republican who played it safe and had trouble connecting with voters?

The chart of the...

In the 7A finals...

...Lincoln-Way East will fall to Glenbard West in what should be one of the best games of the season. Despite quarterback Blake Winkler and the defensive line of the Griffins, the Hilltoppers' defense, led by Penn State-bound Tommy Schutt (above), will prove the deciding factor.

How will they get there? The Griffins have a tough road ahead of them, with games against such perennial powers as Wheaton Warrenville South, East St. Louis and St. Rita. The Hitters have to get past Lake Zurich or Geneva, Elk Grove, and Crystal Lake South or Addison Trail.

What a great bracket!

Next: BOWG analyzes 8A.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The quote of the day... from Andrew Samwick, in regard to all the wacky tax schemes emanating from the Republican presidential race:

The problem that we have with tax policy is that we don't raise enough revenue to cover our expenditures, not the particular ways we choose not to raise that revenue.

What, exactly, do Republicans mean... the term "class warfare?" Are they implying that there's an upper class in this country? And are they defending it from the lower classes?

According to the latest...

...New York Times/CBS News poll (my emphasis): 

...Congressional approval has reached a new low at 9 percent. The disapproval toward Congress has risen 22 percentage points, to 84 percent, since the beginning of the year when Republicans took control of the House.

Nine percent. That means that less than one in ten of your neighbors approves of the job Congress is doing. Amazing.

In 6A, look for...

...Lake Forest to beat Batavia in the second round of the IHSA playoffs. The Scouts will then get defeated by Prairie Ridge in the semifinals, who will have avenged last week's upset loss to Cary-Grove in Round 3.

The Wolves, led by quarterback Nick Nissen (above), should then go on to beat Lemont (who will have defeated previously unbeaten Crete-Monee in the semis) in the championship game on Thanksgiving weekend.

Next: BOWG analyzes 7A.

Remember this song...

...from 1977?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Elizabeth Kneebone... a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution.

Every year at this time...

...I complain about the way the IHSA structures the high school football playoffs. And every year at this time my son reminds me that it's not about me (wha-a-t?); it's about the kids and their parents -- everyone wants to play in the postseason. Fair enough. But humor me for a moment, and imagine that it is about the fans.

The IHSA constructs the playoffs, essentially, as follows (if you really want to read their Byzantine rules, click here): the top 256 teams out of 549 are selected for the postseason. Basically, everyone who is 5-4, or better, is chosen. The schools are then ranked in order of enrollment (with some tweaking) and the top 32 are classified as 8A, the next 32 are 7A, and so on. (And don't get me started on the "A" part.) Then comes the seeding, which is relatively straightforward, the geographical constraints (makes sense; no need to pair a school from the city with one from downstate in the first round) and who gets to play at home, etc. (I'll let you read about that.)

On the face of it, it all seems reasonable. But before we get into the actual brackets, let's have one last look at the Top Ten rankings from the Chicago papers, shall we?


1. Maine South
2. Glenbard West
3. Loyola
4. Lincoln-Way East
5. Bolingbrook
6. Lemont
7. St. Rita
8. Batavia
9. Crete-Monee
10. Nazareth

Sun-Times (as of this writing):

1. Maine South
2. Glenbard West
3. Lincoln-Way East
4. Loyola
5. Downers Grove South
6. St. Rita
7. Prairie Ridge
8. Bolingbrook
9. Crete-Monee
10. Batavia

Pretty similar, huh? And I imagine the Sun-Times will drop Downers Grove South and Prairie Ridge after last weekend's losses. Whatever. It's safe to say that both papers agree on which are the best teams in the state. Great! So let's see them play each other and determine who is the best team in Illinois. As a fan, I'm psyched!

But not so fast, BOWG. It seems that while Maine South, Loyola, Downers Grove South and Bolingbrook are in 8A; Glenbard West, Lincoln-Way East and St. Rita are in 7A; and Lemont, Batavia, Crete-Monee, Nazareth and Prairie Ridge are in 6A. I know what you're thinking: But Loyola and St. Rita are in the same conference, as is Bolingbrook and Lincoln-Way East. (And the Griffins even beat the Raiders during the regular season; I was there.)

So let me see if I've got this straight: it's impossible for the top two teams in the state, Maine South and Glenbard West, to play each other in the postseason. How, then, are we to know which one is truly the best? Answer: we can't. (Last year the 7A champion, Wheaton Warrenville South, had already beaten the 8A champion, Maine South, in the regular season, while St. Rita, which lost in the 7A semis, had beaten the other 8A finalist, Mount Carmel. Go figure.)

I'm all for letting the most kids play in the postseason, but I'd also like to see the postseason determine something. For the love of God, gimme some closure!

Let's move to the actual brackets, starting with 8A. No. 1-seeded Loyola (9-0) opens up against No.16 Evanston (5-4). The Ramblers already crushed the Wildkits, 40-0, at Evanston in the first game of the season (above). Do they really need to play each other again? (I didn't even go to the first game; I knew it would be a blowout. Why would I want to go to this one?) Besides the Loyola game, Evanston lost to Glenbrook South, 26-7, Maine South, 48-7, and New Trier, 24-7. They didn't beat one winning team this year, for crying out loud. Do they really deserve to be in the playoffs?

I have an idea, let's scrap the seven 5-4 teams that made the playoffs in 8A. Or better yet, let's take the 19 teams with 5-4 and 6-3 records in 8A and swap them with the 19 best teams in 7A. That way, teams like Glenbard West, Lincoln-Way East, St. Rita, East St. Louis, Lake Zurich, Geneva, Elk Grove, Crystal Lake South and Addison Trail could play the other best teams in Illinois. And then, maybe, fans like me would get some satisfaction.

Really, there aren't that many matchups in the first round that I'd like to see. Okay, maybe Marist-Homewood-Flossmoor, Mount Carmel-Hinsdale Central, or Brother Rice-Sandburg in 8A; or Lake Zurich-Geneva or Addison Trail-Carmel in 7A; or Nazareth-Deerfield or Cary-Grove-Crystal Lake Central in 6A. But that's about it. There are a lot of mismatches.

Oh, well. There are four more rounds after this weekend. Plenty of good football to see. I think I'll go visit my mother instead.

Next: BOWG analyzes 6A.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Robert Pierpoint, CBS... correspondent, died at age 86. According to his daughter, Marta Pierpoint, he'll be buried in a suit jacket and tennis shorts:

Mr. Pierpoint was an avid tennis player, something that made for a mixed fashion statement one Saturday in the early 1970s when he reported from the White House lawn.

Mr. Pierpoint wore a suit jacket, dress shirt and tie but, as The New York Times later reported in an article on men’s fashions in Washington, “what the television camera did not reveal was that Mr. Pierpoint’s proper attire topped a pair of tennis shorts, tennis sneakers and bare legs.”

In his memoir “At the White House: Assignment to Six Presidents” (Putnam, 1981), Mr. Pierpoint wrote that he had hurriedly received a story assignment but was about to play tennis with Ron Ziegler, President Nixon’s communications aide. He changed into a tennis outfit he kept in his locker at the White House, in anticipation of the match, while keeping the suit jacket on.

He wrote that when a photo of his full frame later appeared in a book and newspapers, “my superiors were far from pleased, apparently feeling that tennis shorts, a jacket and tie did not provide a dignified image.”

According to Jared Bernstein, writing... the Times today, it's a myth that most Americans work for small businesses and that such businesses are the engine of job growth.

Paul Leka, who wrote...

...the 1969 hit "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)," died at age 68.

(Leka also wrote "Green Tambourine," a No. 1 hit in 1967 for the Lemon Pipers.)

Before I move on... the playoffs (and I'll have plenty to say about that -- surprised?), I have just a few final thoughts on the regular season, including Week 9, the one I didn't see. (As usual, all home teams in CAPS.)

No. 1 MAINE SOUTH 45, Glenbrook South 21

The Titans, as expected, finished the season 7-2 and are seeded No. 5 in the playoffs. GBS beat three winning teams during the regular season, only one on the road: Prospect (5-4), 34-10, EVANSTON (5-4), 26-7, and New Trier (6-3), 21-10. (The Titans host the Trevians in Round 1.) Their two losses were to MAINE SOUTH, of course, and STEVENSON (7-2), 17-7.

No. 2 Glenbard West 49, DOWNERS GROVE NORTH 7
YORK 41, Hinsdale Central 27

Why do I link these two games together? Because after I saw GLENBARD WEST beat York, 45-0, two weeks ago, I thought York had the worst offense I'd seen all season (with the possible exception of OAK PARK AND RIVER FOREST, which the Hilltoppers beat, 41-6). Then the DUKES scored 41 points the next week against Hinsdale Central! What is going on here?, I thought. I went back and noticed that York scored 41 points against DOWNERS GROVE NORTH, 31 against PROVISO WEST, 54 against WILLOWBROOK, 39 against Hinsdale South, and 49 against ROLLING MEADOWS!

What's the moral of the story? Glenbard West is really good. They outscored their opponents this year, 352-50, including victories over WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH, 21-7, and ADDISON TRAIL, 14-0. Why can't they play in 8A? (Oops, I'm getting ahead of myself...)

No. 3 LOYOLA 34, No. 6 St. Rita 7

Loyola is good, very good. And they play in what could be the toughest conference in the state. But the Ramblers' offense scored only two touchdowns against Mount Carmel and St. Rita. They'll have to do better than that if they hope to finally beat Maine South this year (whom they should play in the semifinals, at home, on November 19).

No. 4 Lincoln-Way East 42, JOLIET WEST 7

Cary-Grove 22, No. 5 PRAIRIE RIDGE 21 (OT)

Were the Wolves overrated? Hardly. Cary-Grove finished the season 7-2, including a 10-7 victory over LAKE ZURICH. Look for the Wolves and the Trojans to meet up again in Round 3, if Cary-Grove can get past No. 3-seeded Nazareth. (Getting ahead of myself again.)

ADDISON TRAIL 20, No. 7 Downers Grove South 14

Downers Grove South, unlike Prairie Ridge, was overrated this year, defeating only two winning teams, Hinsdale South (5-4), 49-6, and LYONS (5-4), 28-0. Come on, Tribune, get it together!

No. 8 BOLINGBROOK 42, Lockport 17

Providence 24, No. 9 MOUNT CARMEL 18
This wasn't a great year for the Caravan (5-3). They only had two victories over winning teams: Brother Rice (6-3), 35-24, and Simeon (7-1), 23-14. (If Mount Carmel doesn't get beat by Hinsdale Central in the opening round, they surely will by Bolingbrook in the second.) 

MARIST 56, No. 14 Joliet Catholic 51

Why do I include this game? Because not only did the Redhawks' quarterback, Ian Woodworth (above), throw for 557 yards, but this was only a week after Marist (7-2) beat No. 13 Carmel (6-3), 64-63 in double overtime. (They also scored 52 points against MARIAN CATHOLIC and lost narrowly to Brother Rice, 34-31.) Why haven't I seen these guys play this year?

Marist opens the playoffs against Homewood-Flossmoor (6-3). Could be an excellent game.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The quote of the day... from Andrew Sullivan:

To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he'd be on Mount Rushmore by now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'll be visiting my son... New Hampshire for the rest of the week. (Or do you say New Hamp-shuh?) Blogging should be light to non-existent.

The total amount...

...of outstanding student loans will exceed $1 trillion for the first time ever this year, according to an article in USA Today.

Will this be the next big drag on the economy?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Former Republican Congressman...

...Joe Scarborough describes the freak show that is the 2012 GOP field:

All the world is a stage and in this year’s GOP presidential race, it is a reality show soundstage cluttered with clownish characters auditioning for the role of commander in chief.

A bemused audience of political spectators and cable chatterers has been entertained this year by a fallen speaker, a pizza mogul, a wild-eyed ideologue, a billionaire developer and a hockey mom from Alaska.

I'll be out of town...

...for Week 9, the last one of the regular season.

The Game of the Week will be No. 6 St. Rita at No. 3 Loyola on Saturday. (Ramblers should win if quarterback Malcolm Weaver, above, is healthy.)

Here are some of the other games I'll miss (home team in CAPS):

No. 1 MAINE SOUTH vs. Glenbrook South
No. 2 Glenbard West at DOWNERS GROVE NORTH
No. 4 Lincoln-Way East at JOLIET WEST
No. 5 PRAIRIE RIDGE vs. Cary-Grove
No. 7 Downers Grove South at ADDISON TRAIL
No. 8 BOLINGBROOK vs. Lockport
No. 9 MOUNT CARMEL vs. Providence at Gately

I used to really like...

...David Brooks, but lately he seems to have lost his way. I still read his column, and found myself nodding in agreement this morning until I reached this paragraph:

Some economists say the government should be spending more now to stimulate a recovery. Thirty-eight percent of Americans seem to agree with that. But 56 percent have said “government spending when the government is already running a deficit is the wrong approach during an economic downturn because it is only a temporary solution that increases long-term debt.”

Some economists? I would have guessed more than half. A lot more. Whatever. But Brooks seems to think it better to canvas the entire country and give more weight to those who haven't made a lifelong study of the discipline. Hmm. Would you rather ask your neighbors about a particular medical treatment, or your doctor? Not sure? Go ahead; get a second opinion -- from another doctor. Got a problem with your car? Don't ask your friend, the dentist, or your brother, the accountant. Ask an auto mechanic. Ask several. But don't take a poll.

Here's how I would have written that paragraph:

Some economists say the government should be spending more now to stimulate a recovery. With America's infrastructure falling behind the rest of the developed world's, nine percent of our workforce idle and long-term credit at record lows, now would be a good time for the government to pick up the slack in spending.

Oh, well. I don't write for the Times. But in Brooks's very next paragraph he says (my emphasis):

These majorities are focused on the fundamentals. They say that repairing the economic moral fabric is the essential national task right now. They are suspicious of government action in general, saying that government often undermines this fabric. But they support specific federal policies that nurture industriousness, responsibility and delayed gratification, like spending on infrastructure, education and research. They distinguish between the deserving and undeserving rich.

Huh? Come on, Dave. Go back and rewrite this column.

An editorial in Bloomberg... sums up nicely the Democratic position on taxes (my emphasis):

We support Obama’s stance that people who earn more than $200,000 (or $250,000 for a couple) ought to contribute more to the public weal. Critics call this “class warfare,” but it needn’t be. The intention isn’t to punish the rich, nor to suggest that people with high incomes are bad. The intention is to raise the money necessary to finance the amount of government we want, and to do so as fairly as possible. Those who have been luckiest in the lottery of life -- whether by talent or trust fund -- have also, in recent years, been luckiest in rates of taxation, as Warren Buffett has vividly demonstrated by comparing his average rate with that of his secretary.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's not enough...

...for some Republicans to cut taxes on the rich; now they want to raise taxes on the poor. Have you heard about this? Even my brother mentioned to me yesterday, "Everybody should pay something." It's a seductive argument, until you consider these statistics from Nicholas Kristoff's column in yesterday's Times (my emphasis):

According to the C.I.A.’s own ranking of countries by income inequality, the United States is more unequal a society than either Tunisia or Egypt.

Three factoids underscore that inequality:

* The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

* The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.

* In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.

Right. Time to tax the poor.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

St. Rita of Cascia High School... at 77th and Western on the South Side of Chicago. The all-boys' school was founded in 1905 by the Augustinians and was originally located at 63rd and Claremont. St. Rita moved to its present location after Quigley Seminary closed its doors in 1990.

The drive to St. Rita took me over two hours in rush hour traffic on Friday. (I asked myself more than once if it was worth it. It was.) I got off the Stevenson at Damen and, after a quick jog on Archer, turned left onto Western Avenue. (Except it turned out there were two parallel Western Avenues. I'd never seen that before. Must be a South Side thing.) Anyway, since I was ahead of schedule (despite the traffic) I decided to take a small detour past the original location. The site was sold to the Chicago Board of Education and no evidence of the prior school remains.

When St. Rita decided to take over the old Quigley property, its principal stated, "We could not afford to let another high school open there. We felt that that would be such a threat to us that we would be in danger of closing." Uh huh. That, and the fact that St. Rita's neighborhood was "changing," or to be more precise, had changed. And, in fairness, to survive St. Rita needed to be closer to its feeder schools on the Southwest Side. (Honestly, I wonder how much longer the same pool of kids will commute all the way to Mount Carmel in the Woodlawn neighborhood.)

I got back on Western Avenue for the last leg of my trip and a few minutes later St. Rita (above) emerged, suddenly, on the west side of the street. I did a victory lap around the property before parking my car to get the lay of the land. (Big mistake; there's some sort of industrial yard to the west of the campus that goes on forever. It took me longer than necessary to park and I'm sure I missed some great spots in the process.)

After leaving my car I decided to take the long way to the stadium in order to get a closer look at the grounds. The most prominent building on campus is the chapel on Western Avenue. (Sorry to post the same picture twice, but it was really a beautiful structure, especially with the October sun setting behind it.) The cornerstone said it was built in 1961. Turns out Quigley South was founded that year; I would have thought much earlier.

As I made my way into Pat Cronin Field at Doyle Stadium I walked past a short wall constructed of bricks from the original stadium on the old campus. The St. Rita players walk around the wall in a pregame ritual before taking the field. (There's lots of tradition here. The 1971 team, the Greatest in St. Rita History, was honored at the half.)

The sophomore game was tied 16-all as I approached the concession stand for my dinner of (strictly vegan) hot dogs, chips and -- as the sign said -- "coffee in season." The guys behind the counter were -- like everyone else that night -- especially polite, almost deferential to me. (I can only think it's because I look so old.)

I took my seat just as Carmel sophomore Jimmy Mickens ran about 70 yards for the winning touchdown with only seconds to go. (I guess he's the next Brandon Greer.) And this was shortly after Mustang defensive back Tom Brennan picked off a Caravan pass to kill the previous drive.

The varsity game started promptly at 7:30 and both teams came out passing. (This is not your father's Catholic League.) Don Butkus, despite fumbling twice, looked better than I remember him and found receiver Jason Gasser several times. Where's this kid Gasser been hiding? (In the second half Carmel went back to its option offense and came up empty-handed. Why did Coach Frank Lenti stop passing?)

On Carmel's first possession the Caravan decided to go for it on fourth-and-one at midfield. This elicited quite a reaction from the old guy sitting next to me. "NO RESPECT!," he shouted. There's a lot of pride in this rivalry.

Brandon Greer -- surprise, surprise -- scored the lone touchdown for the Caravan in the first quarter. But Kenny Golladay and Mike Zunica caught TD passes for the Mustangs to put them up 14-7 at the half. A late field goal by John Kelly made the final score 17-7. St. Rita is now 7-1 and faces Loyola in Wilmette next Saturday. (Ramblers should win; more on that later.)

I have just a few observations from the game. First of all, neither Don Butkus nor Rita quarterback Scott Thomas is in the same league as Malcolm Weaver of Loyola or Blake Winkler of Lincoln-Way East. This is going to hold them back in the playoffs. (I'd say St. Rita lasts one more round than Mt. Carmel.)

Secondly, both teams hit hard. It's enough to make me reconsider what I've said about Catholic League kids not being any tougher than other conferences. I've never seen a game with so many hard hits.

Lastly, the most impressive kid on the field was Mustang running back Tim Lombard, above. The junior rushed for 85 yards on 28 carries and I would have sworn it was much more. He seemed to be the go-to guy for St. Rita and would have gotten my vote for Player of the Game. Watch out for this guy, Loyola!

This post would not be complete without a word on the atmosphere of the game. I already mentioned St. Rita's feeder schools, but I can't overstate the importance of this relationship. The roster, for example, lists each player's number, position, etc. and the grammar school in which he attended. That's something you don't see everywhere. And while some of the names were familiar to me, some sounded truly exotic, such as St. Bede the Venerable, Queen of the Universe, and St. Mary Star of the Sea.

I mentioned before my concern about Mt. Carmel's future, but you can just tell from sitting in the stands that the pipelines will remain in tact. (For one thing, I'm sure that kids are encouraged to attend their father's alma mater.) In the row in front of me sat two young-ish fathers (everyone's young nowadays) with their football jersey-wearing sons. One had MARTYRS on his while the other had CARDINALS. One of the fathers had SC CARDINALS on his jacket and I figured it stood for St. Christina's in Mt. Greenwood. Other kids at the game had jerseys with CHRIST THE KING and ST. BARNABAS on them.

This is a very tightly-knit community; I think I finally understand what the pastor at our Catholic church meant when he used to wax nostalgically about "the Great South Side."

One final note on my trip down south: I passed Leo High School on 79th Street on my way back to the Dan Ryan Expressway. It looked ... old. I thought to myself, who still goes there? Turns out it's predominantly African-American, according to Wikipedia. The school was founded in 1926 (and looks it) by the Christian Brothers of Ireland. It was their first high school in Chicago. Again, from the article:

The school colors are black and orange. Since Leo was founded, the Irish Christian Brothers have established two more boys' schools, Brother Rice and St. Laurence. As a sign of respect for Leo, Brother Rice took the orange in addition to maroon for its school colors, and St. Laurence took black in addition to gold for its colors. Brother Rice and St. Laurence are often called the "Sons of Leo."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today was a day...

...of shutouts (home team in CAPS):

No. 1 Maine South 49, WAUKEGAN 0 (The Hawks host Glenbrook South next Friday.)

No. 2 GLENBARD WEST 45, York 0 (Hilltoppers' defense is strong, but questions remain at quarterback. Will Justice Odom be back for the playoffs?)

GLENBROOK SOUTH 42, Niles West 0 (Can the Titans break Maine South's 54-game conference winning streak? My Magic 8 Ball says "Don't count on it.")

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

No. 9 ST. RITA beat No. 5 Mt. Carmel...

...last night, 17-7, in the 89th meeting of the two storied programs. (My take later.)

The Mustangs travel to Loyola next week to determine the champion of the Catholic Blue Conference. (Ramblers should win.)

In other games of note (home team in CAPS):

No. 3 Loyola 20, BROTHER RICE 13
No. 4 LINCOLN-WAY EAST 42, Joliet Central 0
No. 6 PRAIRIE RIDGE 55, McHenry 19
No. 7 DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH 49, Hinsdale South 6
No. 8 Bolingbrook 45, LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL 0
New Trier 24, EVANSTON 7

And in what surely must have been the Game of the Week, Marist defeated No. 13 CARMEL, 64-63, in double overtime!

Today's games:

No. 1 Maine South at WAUKEGAN

Friday, October 14, 2011

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Watch this video...

...about Elizabeth Warren and tell me, does this woman really impress you as some pointy-headed intellectual?

From Andrew Sullivan's blog:

I suppose some people think...

...I quote Paul Krugman too much, but I just think he's been so right throughout this whole financial crisis. (I guess my reading is somewhat Darwinian: the more someone is right, the more I read them; the more they're wrong, the more I tend to skip over them. And Krugman has been spot-on.) 

Anyway, this paragraph from Krugman's column this morning hit close to home:

The Great Recession should have been a huge wake-up call. Nothing like this was supposed to be possible in the modern world. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should be engaged in serious soul-searching, asking how much of what he or she thought was true actually isn’t.

Back in the 1980s and '90s, I was a believer in the power of markets. The markets, to me, were like a thermometer: you may not like what they were telling you, but they couldn't be wrong.

In fact, when in doubt, it was always a good practice to refer back to Rule # 1: The market is always right. (This was reinforced by working in the futures markets by day and attending B school at night; Kellogg professors were big believers in the efficient market hypothesis.)

So I was a True Believer. I believed in free markets, free trade, low taxes, low spending, smaller government, and privatize everything -- the whole shebang. (I was even a member of the Libertarian Party for a few years.)

But ... slowly, almost imperceptibly ... my views evolved. And then the financial crisis hit and the banks and auto companies had to be bailed out. I came to realize, gradually, that the last thirty years in this country had produced a yawning inequality in wealth (just like the Gilded Ages of the 1890s and 1920s), the obliteration of the manufacturing sector (was that nut case Ross Perot right, after all?), the decline of unions and the raping of the middle class.

Corporate profits and the stock market soared, the rich got fabulously richer, and blue collar jobs were sent overseas. 

It makes me wonder if the United States is turning, slowly, into a Latin American-style banana republic -- one or two percent of the population controlling the vast majority of the nation's wealth while the rest are left to rot.

So I wonder: were we wrong? Did Ronald Reagan usher in an era that ended up doing more harm than good? Are these Occupy Wall Street people on to something? Is the government controlled by, and for, the richest one percent?

(I think the tea party movement was correct initially: TARP, though necessary, was crony capitalism at its very worst -- we bailed out the nation's largest banks without any strings attached. Then we watched as the real economy cratered while Wall Street bankers paid themselves huge bonuses and large corporations booked record profits. Main Street, meanwhile, went to hell.

The mistake came when the tea partiers put the blame on all of government. It was then just a short step for people like Dick Armey and Fox News to distract the movement with fear of that black guy in the White House and his socialist health care scheme -- borrowed from the Republicans -- which the tea party should have embraced.)

Now the tea party is fading and the OWS movement is rising. Could the United States be in the early days of a new Progressive Era?

Ray Manzarek, keyboardist...

...for the legendary rock group the Doors, is a graduate of St. Rita of Cascia High School on Chicago's South Side. When Manzarek attended "Rita's" in the 1950s, however, the school was located at 63rd and Claremont Avenue. In 1990 St. Rita moved to 7740 S. Western Avenue, the previous home of Quigley South, where the Mustangs will host the Caravan of Mt. Carmel tonight.

Both teams are 6-1 and the game promises to be a barn-burner.

Let's have a look at each team's schedule, shall we? (Home teams in CAPS; opponents' record in parentheses.)

Mt. Carmel 23, Simeon (5-2) 14, Soldier Field
MT. CARMEL 31, Morgan Park (3-4) 0
MT. CARMEL 40, De La Salle (4-3) 7
Mt. Carmel 62, ST. JOSEPH (0-7) 8
MT. CARMEL 35, Brother Rice (5-2) 24
LOYOLA (7-0) 12, Mt. Carmel 7
Mt. Carmel 51, ST. LAURENCE (2-5) 6

St. Rita 32, PORTAGE, IND. (3-5) 21
Whitehaven, Tenn. (7-0) 7, St. Rita 0, at East St. Louis
ST. RITA 42, Fenwick (3-4) 0
St. Rita 21, BROTHER RICE (5-2) 17
ST. RITA 19, Providence (4-3) 0
St. Rita 35, HALES FRANCISCAN (4-3) 8
St. Rita 28, BISHOP McNAMARA (5-2) 24

Interestingly, the two teams had only one common opponent so far. (St. Rita plays Loyola and Mt. Carmel plays Providence next week.) They both beat Brother Rice, Mt. Carmel by a wider margin but at home. And they each fell by small margins to undefeated teams, Mt. Carmel to Loyola and St. Rita to Whitehaven, Tenn.

Who the heck is Whitehaven?, you may be asking yourself. It appears they are a Memphis school and have outscored their opponents, 238-51, with four shutouts. Wow!

Mt. Carmel, as we all know, has the winningest coach in Illinois history, Frank Lenti. The Caravan is led by quarterback Don Butkus and relies on the rushing game of Brandon Greer. If the Mustangs can contain Greer they should win.

St. Rita, whom I have yet to see this year, starts Scott Thomas at quarterback. The Mustangs have three talented running backs: Guerby Ministre (excellent name), Tim Lombard and Zack Soria. Thomas can throw to wide receivers Kenny Gollady and T. J. Verdum, and tight end Mike Foody. Left tackle Nick Dachota, meanwhile, anchors the offensive line.

St. Rita's defense is particularly strong, led by lineman Pat O'Connor, linebacker Will McNamara, corner backs Ryan Leonard and Max Kurucar, and safety Charles Elmore.

So who wins this contest? Beats me. But I'll pick St. Rita, based on home field advantage. (Is that a cop-out?)

BOWG prediction: St. Rita 21, Mt. Carmel 17.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From an old article... Sports Illustrated:

• By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

• Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

Scottie Pippen, above, declared bankruptcy after earning a reported $120 million over the course of his NBA career.

The cartoon of the day:

Mitt Romney was asked about...

...RomneyCare in the debate Tuesday night. His answer:

… I’m proud of the fact that we took on a major problem in my state. And the problem was that we had a lot of kids without insurance, a lot of adults without insurance, but it added up to about 8 percent of our population. And we said, you know what, we want to find a way to get those folks insured, but we don’t want to change anything for the 92 percent of the people that already have insurance. And so our plan dealt with those 8 percent, not the 92 percent.

Makes sense to me. Now, tell me again, how is that different from ObamaCare?

Warren Buffett revealed...

...his adjusted gross income last year was $62,855,038 and his taxable income was $39,814,784.

Buffett paid $6,938,744 in federal taxes last year, or about 11 percent of his gross income, and 17.4 percent on his taxable income.

At what rate did you pay?

Heard the latest?

Herman Cain is leading Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination in several new polls.

Yeah, right.

Intrade has Romney leading the race, 66% to 9%.

Remember Rick Santelli's rant...

...from February, 2009? It may have set the entire tea party movement in motion (with a little help from former Republican House Leader Dick Armey and Fox News).

(Full disclosure: I used to work with Rick at Sanwa Futures. He's a good guy, although a little ... odd.)

Santelli's rant followed news that the Obama administration was considering mortgage relief for individuals. (Kind of like TARP, which bailed out over-leveraged banks; this was intended for over-leveraged consumers. It was all in an effort to avoid an economic collapse.) 

Rick's rant (which was straight out of Ayn Rand) complained that the "government is promoting bad behavior" by "subsidizing the losers' mortgages."

(Full disclosure: I don't have a mortgage, but I do own a house. A family down the street sold theirs in the last year at a fire-sale price -- not good for the neighborhood.)

In today's Times -- almost three years after Santelli's rant -- Martin Feldstein, a Republican economist from the (Saint) Reagan administration, writes "How to Stop the Drop in Home Values" (my emphasis):

But for political reasons, both the Obama administration and Republican leaders in Congress have resisted the only real solution: permanently reducing the mortgage debt hanging over America. The resistance is understandable. Voters don’t want their tax dollars used to help some homeowners who could afford to pay their mortgages but choose not to because they can default instead, and simply walk away. And voters don’t want to provide any more help to the banks that made loans that have gone sour.

But failure to act means that further declines in home prices will continue, preventing the rise in consumer spending needed for recovery. As costly as it will be to permanently write down mortgages, it will be even costlier to do nothing and run the risk of another recession.

I cannot agree with those who say we should just let house prices continue to fall until they stop by themselves. Although some forest fires are allowed to burn out naturally, no one lets those fires continue to burn when they threaten residential neighborhoods. The fall in house prices is not just a decline in wealth but a decline that depresses consumer spending, making the economy weaker and the loss of jobs much greater. We all have a stake in preventing that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Elizabeth Warren is running...

...for the U. S. Senate from Massachusetts. In case you haven't heard, the Harvard Law School professor is being portrayed as an "elitist" by Republicans. Don't you believe it. 

An article in the latest issue of Vanity Fair is a must read (my emphasis):

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Elizabeth Herring spent most of her early life performing all the good-girl Stations of the Cross. She won the Betty Crocker competitions, married for the first time at 19, had two children before she was 30, and was once a registered Republican. She was the youngest of four children and the only daughter. Her father worked as a janitor, and her mother brought in extra money working in the catalogue-order department at Sears. Warren would recall her mother hesitating to take her to the doctor because money was so tight. A brilliant and competitive student, Warren was named Oklahoma’s top high-school debater at 16, the same year she graduated with a full debating scholarship to George Washington University. She left G.W. after two years to marry her high-school boyfriend and moved to Houston, where she finished her degree in speech pathology. The first member of her immediate family to graduate from college, Warren then worked as a teacher, followed her husband to New Jersey, and had her first child in 1971. She got her law degree in 1976 from Rutgers University. In the next years, as she divorced and remarried—her current husband, Bruce Mann, is a Harvard law professor—she moved around the country, teaching at the University of Texas, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania, before finally settling at Harvard in 1995.

I watched only a few minutes...

...of last night's Republican debate (that's all I could take) and I have to say: it reminded me of a visit to the psych ward at the hospital. Really. If these guys (and one woman) aren't nuts, they sure act like it.

* Mitt Romney, who is certainly not nuts (but is speaking to the nuts), tried to argue that Dodd-Frank is bad legislation; what the country needs is less regulation of the banks, not more. (This is smack dab in the middle of an economic crisis caused, in part, by lax regulation of the banking system.) I know Mitt knows better than this, but that only makes it worse.

* Herman Cain, the new flavor of the month, seems to be basing his entire candidacy on a crackpot 9-9-9 tax scheme that could never, ever get passed in any parallel universe, much less the United States. Why is anyone taking this guy seriously?

* Michele Bachmann (who could very well be nuts) and Rick Perry seem to think people would be better off without health insurance. Huh?

* Perennial gadfly candidate Ron Paul is just an eccentric who must have slept through the financial crisis. Is he really serious about abolishing the Fed? What century does he live in?

* Rick Santorum must be running for President of the Vatican, not the United States. He seems to think that everyone is just dying to follow him back to some 1950s Catholic world that still exists in his head. (Santorum and his family regularly attend a traditional Latin Mass at a Washington, D. C. area church.) He, apparently, has never met a gay person in his life, thinks the U. S. has never done anything wrong in the world, and, well, is just not comfortable in the modern world. Does Santorum have any supporters younger than my mom?

* Newt Gingrich is a pompous old fool whose day has long come and gone; and Jon Huntsman is just a colossal (and pretentious) disappointment.

Is this really the Republican field? Really?

If the economy recovers at all between now and November, 2012, President Obama should win reelection in a landslide. If things remain sluggish, which is more likely, he should still win by default.

Week 7 in Illinois high school football... now in the history books. A cursory glance at the rankings in the two Chicago newspapers reveals:

Tribune                                                     Sun-Times

1. Maine South                                         1. Maine South
2. Glenbard West                                    2. Glenbard West
3. Loyola                                                    3. Lincoln-Way East 
4. Lincoln-Way East                              4. Loyola
5. Mt. Carmel                                           5. Downers Grove South 
6. Prairie Ridge                                       6. Mt. Carmel
7. Downers Grove South                     7. Prairie Ridge
8. Bolingbrook                                        8. Bolingbrook
9. St. Rita                                                   9. St. Rita

By my count, I've been to 13 games so far this year. I've seen Maine South once (against New Trier), Glenbard West twice (Hinsdale Central and Oak Park and River Forest), Loyola twice (Montini and Mt. Carmel), Lincoln-Way East once (Bolingbrook), Mt. Carmel twice (Morgan Park and Loyola), Prairie Ridge once (Jacobs), and Bolingbrook once (Lincoln-Way East). And I'll see St. Rita for the first time against Mt. Carmel this Friday.

While I feel like I've covered the bases pretty well, there is one glaring omission on my part: Downers Grove South. How did the Mustangs elude my radar? Well, could it be ... that Downers hasn't played anybody?

My guiding principle this year has been: No Lousy Games. (Sorry, Maine South, but I just don't need to see you beat up on poor ol' 2-5 Niles North, 42-6. Life is too short.) My mantra, instead, has been: the Best Game Between the Best Teams.

So, again, how did I miss seeing Downers South? Well, let's have a look at their schedule (home team in CAPS and opponents' record in parentheses):

DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH 28, South Elgin (3-4) 7
South 28, LYONS (4-3) 0
SOUTH 56, Morton (2-5) 0
South 49, LEYDEN (2-5) 0
SOUTH 24, Downers Grove North (2-5) 14
South 49, WILLOWBROOK (0-7) 13
SOUTH 38, Proviso East (1-6) 9

The Mustangs have played only one winning team so far, Lyons (4-3). Downers South, like Maine South, is in a relatively weak conference, the West Suburban Gold. Morton, Leyden, Willowbrook and Proviso East are on their schedule every year. Granted, the Mustangs host Gold teams Hinsdale South (4-3) this Friday and travel to Addison Trail (6-1) next week. But that leaves them with three non-conference opponents: South Elgin and two schools from the West Suburban Silver, Lyons and cross-town rival Downers Grove North. At least Maine South compensates for its weak conference schedule by playing Wheaton Warrenville South. 

So, come on, Coach John Belskis! How about improving that non-conference schedule a little?