Friday, August 29, 2014

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“Personally, I don’t see the big deal about the ice-bucket challenge.”

One of my sources in Naperville...

...tells me to keep an eye on a couple of Neuqua Valley sophomores, Owen Piche and Isaiah Robertson. The two wide receivers are both listed at 6'3", 175 (and probably still growing). With Broc Rutter, above, at quarterback, the pair are expected to contribute and may even be featured this year.

The Wildcats open the 2014 season tonight at Naperville North.

The name (and toupee?)...

...of the day belongs to C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, Democratic representative from Maryland.

It's Opening Day!

Are we in for another Bolingbrook - Loyola showdown?
Let's compare the Top Ten from MaxPreps with the two major Chicago newspapers.


1. Loyola
2. Mount Carmel
3. Sacred Heart-Griffin
4. Joliet Catholic
5. Montini
6. Naperville Central
7. East St. Louis
8. St. Rita
9. Stevenson
10. Schaumburg

Chicago Tribune

1. Bolingbrook
2. Stevenson
3. Loyola
4. Homewood-Flossmoor
5. Mount Carmel
6. Naperville Central
7. Glenbard West
8. Lincoln-Way East
9. St. Rita
10. Nazareth


1. Bolingbrook
2. Loyola
3. Stevenson
4. Homewood-Flossmoor
5. Glenbard West
6. Neuqua Valley
7. Mount Carmel
8. Cary-Grove 
9. Naperville Central
10. Richards

The first thing to note, of course, is that MaxPreps includes the entire state of Illinois in its rankings.

The second thing, I suppose, is that only four teams made all three Top Ten rankings: Loyola, Mount Carmel, Naperville Central and Stevenson.

Interestingly, Montini -- which almost always ends up vying for the Class 5A crown -- came in at only No. 14 in the Trib and No. 11 in the Sun-Times. Schaumburg (Schaumburg?) made it to No. 10 in MaxPreps but is completely absent from the Chicago papers' rankings. The Saxons were 10-2 last year and finished the season No. 27 in MaxPreps. (I would argue, however, that Schaumburg played a "favorable" schedule and its conference, the Mid-Suburban - West, isn't one of the stronger ones in the state.)

The two papers rank Bolingbrook No. 1, but the Raiders are only No. 15 in MaxPreps. Homewood-Flossmoor is No. 4 in both Chicago papers' rankings, but only No. 21 in MaxPreps. And while Glenbard West gets its usual respect locally, it only comes in at No. 18 in MaxPreps. Lincoln-Way East is another anomaly; the Griffins just missed Mike Clark's top ten at No. 12, but they're ranked way down at No. 42 in MaxPreps! Neuqua Valley is a similar case: No. 11 in the Trib but only No. 35 in MaxPreps.

So who's right? Who's wrong? I guess we'll just have to wait and find out.

In the meantime, I'll be at:

Oak Park and River Forest at Lincoln-Way East tonight;
Wheaton Warrenville South at Glenbard West tomorrow; and
St. Joseph's Prep (PA) at Mount Carmel on Sunday.

See you at the game!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Game of the Week.

If you check with Google Maps on your iPhone it will show that Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort is about thirty miles from Oak Park and River Forest High School. Without traffic it would take you almost an hour to drive there. Now move your index finger over to the weather icon and you'll find thunderstorms in the forecast for this weekend. So, given all that, why on earth would anyone want to go to the OPRF - Lincoln-Way East football game tomorrow night?

That was the question I tried to get Huskies Coach John Hoerster and Lincoln-Way East Coach Rob Zvonar, above, to answer.

Here's how Coach Hoerster summed up the contest:

In order to win, we need to forget about winning. We just need to play within ourselves. We need to be fundamentally sound and disciplined. We also need to keep things simple, not try and "out coach" them, and put our kids in a position to play fast and free. If we can stick to the basics, limit mistakes, bounce back when adversity strikes and play with grit, no matter the score, we will be proud of our efforts.

What Lincoln Way East will throw at us is a well-coached, hard-nosed team. They will have a great crowd looking for a great game. 

This early, it's hard to speak of match-ups. But fans should look for a couple of hungry teams looking to start off the year on the right track. 

We have a ton of respect for LWE; that's why we scheduled them. In order to be great, you have to challenge yourselves. This will be a challenge, and a good test for our young team.

Now if that sounds like a bunch of "coach-ese," it's because it is. And when I spoke to Coach Zvonar on the phone this week, it was just as bad: a bunch of bromides you've heard a zillion times on TV that went in one of my ears and straight out the other.

I did learn, however, that Zvonar is the son of two teachers and the brother of another. I guess it's in his blood. He's also the father of three future Bears, as you can see in the picture at the top, and a first-rate amateur fisherman.

But when it comes to supplying bloggers with juicy quotes, these two guys are, well . . . football coaches. So it's up to people like me to tell you why you should go to this game.

But I can't, really; I can only tell you why I'll be there.

I won't bore you with all the stuff you've already read about Lincoln-Way East's storied program or OPRF's Northwestern-bound quarterback Lloyd Yates or yada, yada, yada. Besides, as my editor at the Oak Leaves told me, "our sports people will be doing a preview story as well."

But this game is really compelling. Why?

Well, for starters, these two schools have never faced each other. Never. So no one really knows how it's going to play out. But there is some history lurking beneath the surface. When Coach Hoerster was an assistant at Mount Carmel, for example, the Caravan eliminated Lincoln-Way East from the playoffs in 2006 and '08. Ouch! What's more, Huskie defensive coordinator Tim Fischer, who played with Hoerster at York High School and coached with him at Mount Carmel, is also a former member of Coach Zvonar's staff. (Lots of cross-currents here.)

Zvonar, incidentally, has rubbed elbows with some legendary coaches in his life. Growing up, he played linebacker at Monticello High School for the venerable Hud Venerable (who is now the head coach at Lincoln-Way Central). Later, Zvonar was an assistant for six years at Central under head coach Rob Glielmi (try pronouncing that one). I told you there were a lot of cross-currents here.

Also, Coach Zvonar counts Ron Tomczak and his son Steve as former members of his staff. (If that last name sounds familiar it's because they're the father and brother of Mike Tomczak, who played quarterback for the Bears in the 1980s.) Finally, Zvonar was quick to point out that Joel Pallissard, his offensive coordinator, has been coaching with him for twenty years and is really "a co-head coach."

While it may sound trite to say that this game will be the first big test for the Huskies, it's actually true. After Week One, OPRF plays Leyden and Proviso West, two teams that had losing records in 2013. Next is Downers Grove North, whom the Huskies beat last year, and York, which has fallen on hard times in recent years.

Week Six will bring the Huskies out to Glenbard West in what will surely be the biggest game of the season for OPRF. (The Huskies lost a heart-breaker to the Hilltoppers in 2013.) But that's not until Saturday, October 4 -- far, far into the future. And what if you have to go to a wedding or something that day? (As for Lincoln-Way East, they don't play another winning team from last year until September 26.)

Now, let's not kid ourselves, the Huskies will clearly be the underdog here. All that chatter you've heard about Lincoln-Way East being a perennial powerhouse is true; and, besides, they'll be playing on their home turf in front of a sell-out crowd of screaming meemies. But if Lloyd Yates and company can somehow pull off an upset -- or even make it close -- wouldn't you be glad you were there? More important, wouldn't you be mad at yourself for missing it?

So I'll see you at the game, then, right? (I'll be the guy in the UIC hat driving a Zipcar.)

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“I come from a hundred years in the future to warn you that nothing really changes in the next hundred years.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Cappy Hill, the president of Vassar College. (Wouldn't you expect the president of Vassar to be named something like "Cappy"?)

Don't tell me, let me guess:

Ms. Hill is a summa cum laude graduate of Williams College, holds a master's degree from Oxford and a Ph.D. from Yale.

Oh, and I almost forgot: in her spare time she plays golf.

Joe Scarborough thinks...

...we should all boycott Burger King over its plan to buy Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and donut chain. And my first response is, Do people still go to Burger King?

My second response is to recommend this recent piece in the New York Times by Andrew Ross Sorkin, "Tax Burden in U.S. Not as Heavy as It Looks, Report Says." Sorkin maintains that companies may not be using inversion to avoid taxes after all. He quotes Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California and a former chief of staff to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (my emphasis):

“Despite the claims of corporate apologists, international business ‘competitiveness’ has nothing to do with the reasons for these deals,” he writes. “Whether one measures effective marginal or overall tax rates, sophisticated U.S. multinational firms are burdened by tax rates that are the envy of their international peers.”

Professor Kleinbard argues that lower tax rates are not driving companies to inversions; instead, he contends it is all the money that companies have overseas — some $2 trillion — and don’t want to bring back to the United States despite protestations by many chief executives that they wish they could.

Are Rand Paul and...

...Chris Christie now leading in the race for the 2016 Republican nomination? According to Paddy Power, the Irish betting website, Sen. Paul and Gov. Christie are tied at 9/2 odds with Sen. Marco Rubio in third at 5/1. As my British friend Jamie often says, "Have you ever met a poor bookie?" (I always respond that I've never met a bookmaker, period -- poor or otherwise. But I think you get the point.)

Personally, I just don't see Gov. Christie as a realistic candidate given his "bridgegate" troubles at home. But, on the other hand, it might make some sense: the nomination could come down to a tea party/establishment showdown with Paul the candidate of the former and Christie the favorite of the latter.

P. S. Always go with the establishment candidate.

Mark Bittman has an opinion piece... the Times this morning, "The Drinker's Manifesto," in which he justifies excuses discusses his (excessive?) alcohol consumption. As a reformed drunk, I don't want to judge Mr. Bittman. But I would like to call everyone's attention to our hypocritical tendency to "enjoy" alcohol while at the same time condemning marijuana.

What if you substituted "marijuana" for "alcohol" in Mr. Bittman's piece? Here are a few examples (my emphasis):

Life is complicated, but drinking smoking marijuana itself... well, we do it because we like it. The point is that if we’re reasonably responsible individuals, these are private matters whose consequences are borne by ourselves.

We drink smoke pot because we want to, not because it’s good for us. Whether you believe that alcohol marijuana is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy (a paraphrase of a quote usually attributed to Ben Franklin) or that God has nothing to do with this, it’s clear that alcohol dope can bring both joy and pain.

Of course there are people who really drink smoke too much, and we should continue to discourage overconsumption, but once again when it comes to public health we fail to prioritize correctly

I'll say. Bittman goes on to note:

The C.D.C. says that excessive alcohol consumption causes 88,000 deaths a year and “costs the economy about $224 billion.”

I wonder how many people die from smoking pot each year. Could marijuana possibly cause as much damage as alcohol? I doubt it. So why is one socially acceptable while the other is illegal? Does that make sense?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I talked to Rob Zvonar, the...

...head coach of Lincoln-Way East, last night for a piece I hope to have published in the Oak Leaves this week. (If they kill it I'll just post it here before Friday night's game with Oak Park and River Forest.)

But I had to tell my wife that at the end of the conversation Zvonar told me something that was "off the record," which made us rewatch this old scene from Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).

P. S. Next time I see you I'll tell you what he said, but I can't print it here because it's strictly off the record.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Richard Attenborough, actor,...

...director and producer, died at age 90. From his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

“Gandhi” (1982), an epic but intimate biographical film, was his greatest triumph.

[It] was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight, including best picture, best director, best cinematography, best original screenplay and best actor (Mr. Kingsley).

Mr. Attenborough brought the film to fruition after a 20-year battle to raise money and interest often reluctant Hollywood producers, one of whom famously predicted that there would be no audience for “a little brown man in a sheet carrying a beanstalk.” (Mr. Attenborough ended up producing it himself.)
Mr. Attenborough mortgaged his house in a London suburb, sold works of art and, as he put it, spent “so much money I couldn’t pay the gas bill.”

The film had 430 speaking parts and used over 300,000 extras for Gandhi’s funeral. No one expected it to recoup its $22 million cost, but it wound up earning 20 times that amount.

Attenborough was 59 years old at the time. Who else would take such a risk at that point in his life?

Still getting back up to speed...

...after a few days off the grid. Blogging should resume shortly.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm driving up to Minneapolis... to visit my mother. Blogging should resume on Saturday.

Tim Ryan is a senior prevention specialist...

...with FCD Educational Services, an antidrug group that works with students in the classroom.

In the Science section of the Times today, Tara Parker-Pope writes about antidrug advocates like Mr. Ryan who "say efforts to legalize marijuana have created new challenges as they work to educate teenagers and their parents about the unique risks that alcohol, marijuana and other drugs pose to the developing teenage brain."

This is just the sort of thing that irritates the heck out of me, a recovered drunk.

Quick: What's the most abused drug in America? Alcohol. And who is abusing it the most? Adults; probably even the parents of the students to whom Mr. Ryan is preaching.

I wonder if Mr. Ryan ever begins his lectures by asking the adults in the room, "How many of you abuse drugs -- er, I mean -- use alcohol?" It might be a good place to start. (Does Mr. Ryan drink?)

Before they worry so much about their kids' drug problems (or imaginary drug problems), maybe parents should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they have a drug problem.

Alaska, according to...

...a piece in the Times today (my emphasis): at once one of the nation’s most urban — only New York City has a larger share of its state’s residents than Anchorage does of its — and one of the most rural; two-thirds of Alaska’s communities aren’t accessible by road and depend on satellite- and cellular-based telecommunication services.

And, although the 49th state is the largest in area:

The state’s population is no greater than that of the average congressional district. There were only 300,000 voters in the 2012 general election.

That's about the size of my town, Chicago -- in 1870.

I came across this chart...

...yesterday in a piece titled, "Flushing Your Money Down the Tea Party’s Toilet." Money quote:

From the “best of the worst” to the “worst of the worst” – here are the amounts received and then spent on operations (like administrative costs, consultants, fundraising, online expenses, professional fees and travel); here too are the amounts contributed either directly (contributions) or indirectly (independent expenditures) to candidates, for the five organizations.
Also shown are the (paltry) sums spent by each organization on candidates and campaigns; bear in mind the (alleged) focus for these groups in the 2014 cycle is on regaining a GOP senate majority.


Most donor money is spent on raising more donor money, period.

And that's the charitable way of reading it.

Another way to interpret this chart is (my emphasis):

Today’s political grifters are a lot like the grifters of old—lining their pockets with the hard-earned money of working men and women by promising things in return that they know they can’t deliver.

That's the conclusion drawn by Steve LaTourette, a former Republican Congressman. He wrote a  piece in Politico a few weeks ago, "The Grifting Wing vs. The Governing Wing" in which he argued:

Political grifting is a lucrative business. Groups like the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots are run by men and women who have made millions by playing on the fears and anger about the dysfunction in Washington. My former House colleague Chris Chocola is pocketing a half-million dollars a year heading the Club for Growth; same for Matt Kibbe heading up FreedomWorks (and I don’t think Kibbe’s salary includes the infamous craft beer bar that FreedomWorks donors ended up paying for). The Tea Party Patriots pay their head, Jenny Beth Martin, almost as much. These people have lined their pockets by promising that if you send them money, they will send men and women to Washington who can “fix it.” Of course, in the ultimate con, the always extreme and often amateurish candidates these groups back either end up losing to Democrats or they come to Washington and actually make the process even more dysfunctional.

The grifting wing of the party promises that you can have ideological purity—that you don’t have to compromise—and, of course, all you have to do is send them money to make it happen.

It reminded me of another article I had read in the last year or so but couldn't get my hands on. (My Google skills seem to be failing me at the moment.) But the gist of it was, when the history books are finally written about the tea party era, they will explain that the movement -- which may have begun innocently enough -- essentially evolved into just another scheme to separate the rubes from their money.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Here's a great quote...

...from John F. Kennedy, on deer hunting:

"That will never be a sport until they give the deer a gun."

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Name of the Day... buried deep within a really good piece about the depressing state of American infrastructure (my emphasis):

America's transportation structures look all the more frayed next to those in advanced economies in Europe and Japan, or in China, which has been busily constructing high-speed rail and new airports.

U.S. spending for transportation and other infrastructure accounts for 2.4% of its economy versus about 12% for China, says economist David Dollar, a former China director for the World Bank. Europe's infrastructure spending is about 5%.

Dollar, now with the Brookings Institution, says visiting Chinese officials and business leaders frequently remark how surprised they are at America's declining infrastructure, sometimes asking whether they can help finance improvements.

Seriously, when my son and I drove across the country two years ago I told him there was no way -- no way! -- that the Interstate Highway System could be built in today's tea party environment.

Infrastructure improvements, according to Leonard Lardaro, an economics professor at the University of Rhode Island, "are investment-oriented activities. They generate future growth."

That makes sense; Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln knew as much. So how on earth do we get out of this predicament?

Don't look now, but...

...MaxPreps has Loyola ranked No. 1 in its preseason football poll. Rounding out the Top Ten are:

2. Mount Carmel
3. Sacred Heart-Griffin
4. Joliet Catholic
5. Montini
6. Naperville Central
7. East St. Louis
8. St. Rita
9. Schaumburg
10. Stevenson

If they're right (and sometimes they are), circle October 24 on your calendar. That's the night the Caravan host the Ramblers at Gately Stadium on the South Side.

Chuck Todd has been chosen... replace David Gregory as host of The John McCain Show Meet the Press.

Congratulations to Mr. Todd. But, really, who watches those Sunday morning news shows anymore? Haven't they just become vehicles for the latest Republican and Democratic talking points? Don't you already know how the two sides feel about the issues? And, really, do you need to hear John McCain complain some more about how much better off we'd all be if only he had been elected president back in 2008 instead of that other guy? Or listen to the Hawk-in-Chief prattle on and on about the latest country he'd like to invade, or at least bomb?

Go to church, take up golf or just have brunch with your family on Sunday mornings. It'll be time better spent. Actually, given the ratings of MTP, you're probably doing that already.

And another thing...

...about Rand Paul: Do you think all those Republicans who lustily cheered his 12-hour filibuster last year agreed with him on civil liberties? Do you think they're all fans of Edward Snowden? Do you think they all rushed out to join the ACLU?

Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, they liked the fact that someone was willing to stand up to Obama?

Think about it: Do you remember any Republicans caring about the civil liberties of those who were unlawfully detained or tortured during the Bush/Cheney years? But it's a little different when they think the black guy in the White House is spying on them. Or not willing to rule out the use of drones against them.

Drones? Against American citizens? Really?

How deranged, or just plain afraid of black people, do you have to be to believe that?

Rand Paul had an opinion...

...piece in Time magazine this week in which he said, among other things:

Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.

This is part of the anguish we are seeing in the tragic events outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It is what the citizens of Ferguson feel when there is an unfortunate and heartbreaking shooting like the incident with Michael Brown.
Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.

I happen to agree with that, but this is a post about political strategy.

And while it might make sense for Sen. Paul to say something like that in the hope of winning the 2016 presidential election, it's a horrible strategy if he wants to win the Republican nomination.

Quick: think of a Republican you know -- friend, relative, neighbor, whatever. Whose side do you think they are on right now, the black protesters in Ferguson or the police?

Not sure? Then read this piece in BloombergView in which Francis Wilkinson wonders why the NRA isn't outraged over "jack-booted thugs" terrorizing the populace.

You know why.

As Tavis Smiley famously said, "Arm every black person in America and then let's see what the NRA has to say."

Again, while Democrats and independents may agree with Sen. Paul, I doubt if many Republicans do, whether they are willing to admit it or not. Before he can make it to the general election in 2016, Sen. Paul has to win the GOP nomination first. And saying things like that is not going to endear him to the average Republican primary voter.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Until recently, I had forgotten...

...what a truly horrible politician Hillary Clinton was. The former secretary of state is beginning to remind me of two other Democratic candidates for president -- whose names escape me right now -- who may have made good chief executives if they could only have campaigned their way out of a paper bag.*

The party elders may find themselves having to coax Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren or Martin O'Malley or Brian Schweitzer or Bernie Sanders or somebody to run against Mrs. Clinton in 2016 if only to give her some practice ahead of the general election.

Right now, the candidate from 2008 doesn't look rusty so much as downright incompetent.

* Can you imagine losing to George W. Bush? (No wonder Al Gore has gone into hiding.)

Andrew Kohut, founder of...

...the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, talks about the midterm elections in the New York Times today (my emphasis):

“The public is unhappy with the performance of both parties in Washington,” he said.

What will shape the results? Mr. Kohut said that all elections were basically a referendum on the times and that, more than five years after the recession and 2008 financial collapse, “we’ve got a chronic case of pessimism.” That leaves Democrats at a disadvantage, he said, despite Republicans’ record-low popularity, since “Democrats are seen as in charge because Obama is the president. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.”

From the same piece:

Voters’ deep frustration with both sides explains why few election analysts, including people in both parties, predict a wave that would wipe out Democrats like in the 2010 midterms (or like 2006, when George W. Bush was president and Republicans lost their House and Senate majorities). Many Democrats argue that no single issue — certainly not Mr. Obama’s competence — is defining Senate races. Instead, they say, the contests are defined by the relative strengths of each candidate and local issues.

My takeaways:

1. It's the economy, stupid. 


2. There's no Republican wave on the horizon. They have to win every close race to take back the Senate. With several canny Democratic incumbents running (think Begich, Landrieu and Pryor), I'm still not convinced they can do that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meet the newest British...

...Supreme Court justice: Stewart!

Is the slow economic recovery...

...actually working in the Democrats' favor? Will the absence of a recession in the next two years end up electing Hillary Clinton president in 2016? I've been wondering this lately and have meant to write a post in that vein. But it looks like Jonathan Chait beat me to it. From "Have House Republicans Extended the Economic Recovery Into 2016?" (my emphasis):

Rather than stimulating economic growth through short-term deficit spending, Republicans have instead kept a fiscal vise that, according to macroeconomic forecasters, has held the recovery to a painfully slow rate of growth.

But at the same time, the fiscal vise has had the likely side effect of extending the duration of the recovery.

Last week, JP Morgan chief economist Michael Feroli published a short paper demonstrating that the speed of economic expansion since World War II has correlated inversely with its length. “Somewhat counter-intuitively,” he concluded, “the shortcomings of this expansion — an initially high unemployment rate and slow growth — are virtues when thinking about how much longer the expansion will run.”

That would put the recovery on schedule to expire in 2018, just in time to position Republicans to benefit from another angry midterm wave, but not fast enough to win the White House. 

The problem for Hillary, then, is how to avoid the fate of George H. W. Bush, who suffered a recession and was turned out of office after only one term.  

The Tom Toles cartoon of the day:

As someone who has evolved...

...into a (liberal) Democrat in middle age (who woulda thunk it?), I found myself "Ready for Hillary" just a few months ago. I figured that the future 45th president would -- at the very least -- consolidate the considerable gains made in this country under President Obama. I even wrote a post recently comparing her to Theodore Roosevelt. (Hoo, boy!)

But now, suddenly, as Mrs. Clinton's disastrous roll-out for 2016 gets even more disastrous by the day, I find myself thinking as Bill Maher did recently on his show (my emphasis):

Just go away. Go away for a while. We're going to see each other in a couple of years. A lot. Just go away. Because otherwise, you're going to blow this.

At the rate this is going, the only reason left to support Hillary Clinton will be that she's leading every Republican in the polls. It's a little discouraging to think that her best qualification for the highest office in the land may be only that she'll keep the barbarians at the gate.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The declines in household wealth and...

...personal income are to blame, I think, for the erosion in President Obama's popularity. (I've said so here and here.)  A new study gets a little more granular on the change in wages (my emphasis):

Jobs gained during the economic recovery from the Great Recession pay an average 23% less than the jobs lost during the recession according to a new report released today by The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) under the leadership of President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. The annual wage in sectors where jobs were lost during the downturn was $61,637, but new jobs gained through the second quarter of 2014 showed average wages of only $47,171. This wage gap represents $93 billion in lost wages.

Who wouldn't be unhappy with the president given those numbers?

Robin Williams, 1951-2014.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Zephyr Teachout, a candidate for governor of New York. (Ms. Teachout appears to be standing in the middle of one in this photo.) The Fordham Law School professor was born and raised in Vermont, of course, and her middle name is Rain.

David Brooks compares...

...Hillary Clinton and President Obama in his column this morning, "Clinton, Obama and Iraq" (my emphasis):

In her interview with Goldberg, Clinton likens the current moment to the Cold War. The U.S. confronts a diverse global movement, motivated by a hostile ideology: jihadism. 

“Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand.” This jihadism shows up in many contexts, but whether in Gaza or Syria or Iraq, she says, “it is all one big threat.”

Uh oh.

Obama and Clinton represent different Democratic tendencies. In their descriptions of the current situation in Iraq, Clinton emphasizes that there cannot be inclusive politics unless the caliphate is seriously pushed back, while Obama argues that we will be unable to push back the caliphate unless the Iraqis themselves create inclusive politics. The Clinton language points toward some sort of intervention. Obama’s points away from it, though he may be forced by events into being more involved. 

Let's rewrite that last highlighted sentence. What if instead we said:

[Blank] emphasizes that there cannot be inclusive politics unless the Viet Cong are seriously pushed back, while [Blank] argues that we will be unable to push back the Viet Cong unless the South Vietnamese themselves create inclusive politics.

Who do you think learned the lessons of Vietnam better, Ms. Clinton or President Obama? Three American presidents tried it Ms. Clinton's way and all three failed miserably. Obama, who was only fourteen years old when Saigon fell in 1975, seems to have learned the lessons better than the woman who lived through it.

I was planning on attending...

...the Oak Park and River Forest at Lincoln-Way East game on Friday, August 29, but after reading this piece in the Sun-Times, "First day of practice: Phillips gets down to business," I just might have to call an audible.

Mike Clark writes (my emphasis):

Here was Dewayne Collins, one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the state, throwing again to his favorite receiver, Quayvon Skanes.

Collins (4,107 total yards, 49 touchdowns) and Skanes (1,100 receiving yards, 22 total touchdowns) put up video-game numbers last year.

And I remember watching Collins, above, dazzle a Soldier Field crowd in the middle game of an opening day triple-header against De La Salle last year in which the Wildcats came up short in a shoot-out, 51-48.

Who is this Collins kid?, I thought at the time. And why haven't I heard of him?

But Phillips lost the following week to Evergreen Park, 35-32, in another close game and I wrote them off for the rest of the season.

Big mistake.

The Wildcats went on to finish the regular season 6-3 and got their revenge against the previously undefeated Evergreen Park, 31-21, in the second round of the playoffs. (The Mustangs, you may recall, were the only team to beat Richards in the regular season, 35-34.) Phillips lost to 4A runner-up Geneseo the following week to end the 2013 season.

I originally had the Naperville North at Phillips game at Lane Tech in Week Three on my calendar. But now that I read that Collins (who doesn't get the respect he deserves, as far as I'm concerned) will lead the Wildcats in the 2014 season opener at defending 3A champion Stillman Valley, I don't think I can wait that long; I may have to drive out there and see that game!

I guess I didn't realize...

...until today what a great all-around athlete Jackie Robinson was. From the Trib's "Countdown to high school football kickoff" (all emphasis mine):

1918. Birth year of Mooseheart grad and former Marmion football coach Nick Kerasiotis, who played 10 games with the Bears in the 1940s. Kerasiotis played with Jackie Robinson in the 1941 college all-star football game against the Bears.

That led me to Robinson's page in Wikipedia:

After graduating from Pasadena Junior College in spring 1939, Robinson transferred to UCLA, where he became the school's first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track.

He was one of four black players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team. At a time when only a few black students played mainstream college football, this made UCLA college football's most integrated team.

In track and field, Robinson won the 1940 NCAA Men's Track and Field Championships in the Long Jump.

In the fall of 1941, Robinson traveled to Honolulu to play football for the semi-professional, racially integrated Honolulu Bears. After a short season, Robinson returned to California in December 1941 to pursue a career as running back for the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast Football League. By that time, however, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had taken place, drawing the United States into World War II and ending Robinson's nascent football career.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What if Texas turned... From a piece in the New Yorker two years ago (all emphasis mine):

At the Presidential level, Texas has thirty-eight electoral votes, second only to California, which has fifty-five. It anchors the modern Republican Party, in the same way that California and New York anchor the Democratic Party.

“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community,” [Sen. Ted Cruz] said, “in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state.” He ticked off some statistics: in 2004, George W. Bush won forty-four per cent of the Hispanic vote nationally; in 2008, John McCain won just thirty-one per cent. On Tuesday, Romney fared even worse.

“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” he said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist.

So, game over? Not necessarily. A new piece in the American Prospect argues:

The Republicanization of the rural areas is just one of the problems that Midwestern Democrats face. The decline of industrial unions, the aging of the population, the relative lack of immigrants, and the out--migration of African Americans and young people all portend challenging times for the region’s Democrats. If Republicans claim more of the region’s 117 electoral votes, the national consequences could be bracing: A lasting conservative shift in the industrial Midwest would nullify Democratic gains in the Sun Belt. Swinging states like Michigan and Wisconsin (which together have 26 electoral votes) into the Republican column would offset Democratic gains in Arizona and Georgia (which together have 27 electoral votes). With a total of 44 electoral votes, a red triptych of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin would best a blue Texas (38 electoral votes).

The quote of the day... from yesterday's piece in the New York Times Magazine, "Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?"

Again, it's from David Frum, this time on libertarianism (my emphasis):

“It’s a completely closed and airless ideological system that doesn’t respond well to reality. Libertarians are like Marxists in that they have prophets like von Mises and Hayek, and they quote from their holy scripture, and they don’t have to engage.”

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another good piece on Nixon...

...this week was from Jeff Shesol of the New Yorker (my emphasis):

Twenty-first-century Republicans (with a touch of self-regard) trace their genealogy to Ronald Reagan, but, if you squint at just about any of them—from “establishment” figures like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Tea Party irregulars like Senator Ted Cruz—you will see a strong familial resemblance to Nixon. Nixon’s internationalism is of no interest to them now; his domestic achievements are overlooked (Supplemental Security Income, or S.S.I.) or disowned (the E.P.A.), but today’s Republicans were weaned on Nixon’s sour brand of politics: the politics of resentment. Which makes his influence on the party every bit as profound, in its way, as Reagan’s.

1968 was a banner year for bitter grievance, and Nixon rode a wave of resentment to the White House. Governor George Wallace, the Alabama segregationist who ran for President that year as a third-party candidate, wore his resentment more openly than Nixon; Reagan, who posed, for a time, a credible threat to Nixon in the primaries, displayed his more deftly; but it was Nixon who turned it into a winning strategy at the national level.

What Nixon knew in his gut, reinforced by the latest tools of gauging public opinion, was that the white middle class—the “silent majority,” in Nixon’s famous phrase, the “good people” who “paid their taxes and go to church”—had come to feel humiliated by college students, civil-rights activists, anti-war protestors, intellectuals, journalists, and other liberal élites who were said to spurn and mock the traditional values of family, faith, and love of country. James Reston, of the Times, noted the irony: Franklin Roosevelt’s “forgotten men” had gained employment through the New Deal and become, a generation later, Richard Nixon’s “forgotten people.” “They have bought houses and now resent taxes,” Reston observed in September, 1968; they reacted with disgust and rage at the “militant poor whites and blacks” in their midst, as well as “the racial turmoil, the demonstrations in the cities and all the permissiveness of contemporary American life.” Nixon, along with his Vice-Presidential candidate and insult comic, Spiro Agnew, stoked these resentments, attacking the Democratic nominee, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, as indulgent and effeminate.

The resentments, racial and cultural and economic, are still real, if not nearly as raw as in 1968, and invoking them has become a kind of reflex on the right, to the point of self-parody. Agnew’s “effete corps of impudent snobs” begets George Bush’s “Harvard boutique liberals” begets Rick Santorum’s attack on President Obama as a “snob” for urging all kids to go to college. “I don’t come from the élite,” Santorum said in 2012. “Élites come up with phony ideologies and phony ideas to rob you of your freedom.” More recently, Ted Cruz attacked President Obama for “doing a lot of pop culture” and acting with “condescension” toward young Americans. It is Nixon pastiche.

It is also a substitute for new ideas and ambitions. In their place, today’s G.O.P. offers only old, recycled grudges (“the press is the enemy,” as Nixon said) and new enemies: climate scientists, unaccompanied immigrant children (who might carry Ebola, Representative Todd Rokita, an Indiana Republican, warns). Every charge now, however farcical, is promulgated by an infrastructure of perpetual grievance—cable news, talk radio, blogs, and the like—that channels middle-class discontent in the right direction (toward “liberal fascists,” judges, lawyers, and “takers”) and not the wrong one (indifferent Republican legislators and their enablers). The portraits on the walls, the marble statue in the courtyard, all these say “Reagan.” But please take a memo: this is the house that Nixon built.

Remind you of anyone?

Richard Nixon resigned...

Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond and Nixon.
...on August 9, 1974, forty years ago today. There are so many things you could say about the 37th president (good and bad), but Richard Cohen writes "Nixon's Lasting Damage" (my emphasis):

It was Nixon who devised and pursued what came to be called the Southern strategy. This was, in the admirably concise wording of Wikipedia, an appeal "to racism against African-Americans."

The damage Nixon did to his own party, not to mention the rights of African-Americans and the cause of racial comity, has lasted long after the stench of Watergate has dispersed. It not only persuaded blacks that the Republican Party was inhospitable to them but it in effect welcomed racists to the GOP fold. Dixiecrats moved smartly to the right.

President Reagan and Thurmond.
The Democratic Party showed racists the door. The GOP welcomed them and, of course, their fellow travelers -- creationists, gun nuts, anti-abortion zealots, immigrant haters of all sorts and homophobes. Increasingly, the Republican Party has come to be defined by what it opposes and not what it proposes. Its abiding enemy is modernity.