The national media seem to think that the Colts are going to have an easy time of it in Super Bowl XLI. But even so, the local media in Chicago almost seem a little smug. The consensus among the scribes back home seems to be that the Bears match up quite nicely against the Colts; that Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson will be able to run on them, and that the defense will be able to shut Rhodes and Addai down and keep the Indy passing game under control. The plan seems to be to play classic Bears football: to run the ball a lot, grind it out, eat up the clock- and keep Peyton Manning on the bench.
I understand the two teams have averaged the same number of points scored this season, while the Bears have allowed a considerably lower average (of course, the Colts played a tougher schedule; to be fair, that needs to be factored in as well). And nobody seems to have noticed that Rex Grossman's QB rating during the post-season has actually been somewhere around ten points better than Man…
As if that were a real possibility (boy, I hate having to go to the West Des Moines Public Library to post!). Anyway...
The Bears are in the Super Bowl!
Their 39-14 victory over New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game Sunday was convincing. Having beaten the number one offensive team in the whole NFL in the Saints, somehow the team that is merely number one offensively in the AFC doesn't seem quite so intimidating.
While the Bears' inconsistency (and especially that of Rex Grossman) justifies the status of the Colts as seven point favorites, if the Bears' defense plays the game it is capable of, they can shut down Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense. If.
After that, it comes down to Grossman. If "Good Rex-" the one who had the second most games with a QB rating of over 100 (seven of them) in the NFL this season- shows up, the Bears will win. If "Bad Rex-" the one who led the NFL in games with a QB rating of under ten (five of them) shows up, we…
Well, tomorrow is the NFC Championship Game, and I'm not sure what's going to happen.
"Good Rex" had better show up- and Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones had better carry the brunt of the offense. We had better shut down Bush and McAllister- though personally, I'm more worried about Brees and his numerous targets. If we had Brown and Harris back, I'd be a great deal happier. As it is, I think the Bears can shut down the Saints' O- but only if everybody is at the top of their game.
I think we can move the ball on New Orleans. Again, smash-mouth, in-your-face running will be the key, passing just enough to keep the Saints off balance.
I'm a little more optimistic after the Redskins/Saints game last week. If Washington can do it, the Bears can. But I've seen some pretty miserable performances by this Bears team since Brown and Harris went down. The D will have to have a good game, Rex will have to take his Ritalin, and it needs to be as physical a game…
Hillary has announced her candidacy for the White House.
She'll have to become shrill, uber-Leftist Hillary again- her true self- in order to beat out Obama and Edwards for the nomination. If she gets that far (and I have a hunch that she might not), she'll then revert to the "moderate" Hillary the worshipping MSM pretends she is in order to try to win the election.
I remain convinced that she's doomed. Nobody for whom over forty percent of the electorate says going in that they will never, under any circumstances, vote has a chance of being elected president. Ain't gonna happen.
My money is on Edwards for the Democratic nomination. He looks like he's got has populist, hard-Left line all laid out for him, national health insurance (wasn't that Hillary's plan?) and all. He and Bill Richardson, IMO, are the Democrats' two toughest contenders, November-wise. If it weren't for the fact that Hillary's candidacy will make it hard for Edwards no…
Today U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized the handling of the executions of Saddam Hussein and two of his henchmen. The executions- especially Saddam's- have generally been considered diplomatic and political disasters, involving sectarian and political mocking and taunting of the condemned men on the gallows by their enemies. Saddam's execution was carried out on a date which- on the calendar of Sunni Muslims- was a holy day, on which executions are constitutionally forbidden. Saddam's brother-in-law- Barzan Ibrahim, who was rather heavy- was apparently decapitated by the rope, a not-uncommon mishap in a hanging when the ratio of the executed person's weight to the length of the drop has been miscalculated.
Strange as may sound, Middle East expert Edward N. Luttwak makes the case that the war in Iraq- and precisely the sectarian divisions which have ensued- may have vastly strengthened the American hand in the Gulf.
Regionally, the Sunnis have nowhere else to go in their ongoing struggle with our common enemy, Iranian Shi'ite mischief-making. And by taking out Saddam and liberating Iraq's Shi'ites from decades of Sunni oppression, Bush may actually have strengthened America's hand somewhat and weakened that of Iran's extremists among the region's Shi'ites.
When the Bush administration came into office, only Egypt and Jordan were functioning allies of the U.S. Iran and Iraq were already declared enemies, Syria was hostile, and even its supposed friends in the Arabian peninsula were so disinclined to help that none did anything to oppose al Qaeda. Some actively helped it, while others knowingly allowed private funds to reach the terroris…
Many of those who have respected Carter over the years (myself included, despite my change of attitude toward the former president in the last few years) have been dismayed by the unbalanced nature of his recent book on the Middle East. This simply does not seem to be the Carter of the Camp David Accords, the honest broker who accomplished one of the great diplomatic coups of the Twentieth Century.
Jimmy Carter seems more and more a leftist ideologue these days, and less and less like the centrist man of conscience we elected in 1976. The recent death of Gerald Ford, and the attention given his character and his term of office, combine with Carter's recent behavior to make it all too clear, in retrospect, what a mistake we ma…
The Bears won it on a 50-yard field goal in overtime by their All-Pro kicker, Robbie.
Thoughts on the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field next week: The Saints are going to bring the pressure on Rex- and Rex doesn't do pressure very well. Nor is the Bears defense- which was once the best in the league- the same without Mike Brown and Tommy Harris.
ADDENDUM: Too bad about the Chargers, who deserved to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Oh, well. If we can get past the Saints next week, it would be nice to do the one thing the '85 Bears were denied the chance to do when those same Patriots beat Miami in the AFC title game back then: beat a team in the Super Bowl that had beaten them in the regular season.
Democrats made a great deal of political hay last November over the unwillingness of "heartless" Republicans to raise the minimum wage.
Never mind that a higher minimum wage means that people at the lower end of the economic scale lose their jobs. It's a matter of simple math: the amount business have to pay out in wages is finite. Increase the amount each individual employee has to be paid, and businesses (especially those of the kind most likely to offer minimum wage jobs in the first place) have no recourse but to lower the number of employees t0 whom they have to pay it.
But Democrats- as usual- were more interested in demagoguing the issue through misleading emotional appeals than in debating the actual consequences and substance the idea. Now the newly-Democratic House has voted to raise the minimum wage to $7.25.
This is a fact which runs counter to the national mythos and our own instincts, but ours is one of the very few democracies ever to come out of a revolution against tyranny. Almost always, such revolutions end up substituting a new form of oppression for the old one (see France and Russia as examples). Democracy tends by its very nature to be reformist; it builds upon the character and ideals of a nation rather than inventing them (see England). You take the institutions and structures of a society and re-invent them in such a way as to uphold and support and even to assume democratic ideals; you don't destroy them and start over from scratch, whether you're domestic reformers or a benign foreign conqueror. The latter path- as we are seeing now in Iraq- nearly always leads to either chaos or tyranny.
Japan after World War II should have been our model (Germany is more compli…
The Party of Hate doesn't seem to even notice when one of its own offends against the canons of political correctness- at least if the victim is a Republican. But sarcastic observations about how Sec. Rice's family won't have to endure the dire consequences of the Bush foreign policy in future generations is clearly- excuse the expression- a below the belt blow.
But then again, it's precisely the kind of thing we've come to expect of Democrats in the past six years.
It's not exactly breaking news that stem cells from amniotic fluid may well be just as good as, or even superior to, those from embryos where potential cures for Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, and the other such ills are concerned. That's the dirty little secret the advocates of Missouri's Amendment 2 and other pro-embryotic stem cell referenda last November succeed in confusing so many voters about.
But Charles Krauthammer has some thoughts on the subject which, as usual, are worth considering. I happen to disagree with him, and agree with President Bush, on use even of fertility clinic embryos destined for destruction in any case. The acceptance of such use would only sear the consciences of the culture further where the unborn are concerned; the ethics of the very creation of such "disposable" embryos need to be revisited.
But I completely agree with Krauthammer that amniotic fluid is ethically a vastly superior source of experimental and theraputic s…
I'm not a big fan of Bill O'Reilly, but he just made a great point.
It is not disloyal, he observed,to dissent from the President's Iraq policy, as he enunciated it last night- or for that matter, to disapprove of the war as such.
But it is disloyal for to root for that policy, or American arms, to fail... and a great many people, both inside and outside the Democratic Party and the media, are in fact rooting for it to fail.
This is an important point. He or she who disagrees with the President's policy, or does not think that it will work, is perfectly entitled to his or her opinion. But on the other hand, he or she who roots for the President's policy to fail is disloyal to the United States.
I kept putting off going out at sunset and looking for Comet McNaught. Now it appears I've missed my chance.... unless I want to catch a flight to the Southern Hemisphere!
ADDENDUM: Beneath is a video on Comet McNaught by our Des Moines Astronomical Society President, Resident Artist and All-Around Mystic, Bryan Butcher. The comet itself doesn't show up until about four minutes into the video, and doesn't show up very well until near the end. But it's worth the wait- as are the stills of the comet by various DMAS members Bryan included at the very end. Nice Celtic music, too.
Telescopes of any variety are time machines, as well as optical devices. The "Pillars," for example, were 7,000 light years away- which means that the picture actually shows the formation as it was 7.000 years ago! When you look at a deep-space photograph or through a telescope at a distant object, you're actually looking back at a moment in the past, at something which is not even there right now. If nothing else, it's long since moved on. What we're seeing is merely the light that left the object back then.
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, Great (above you all).
--The Koran, Sura 4, "An-Nisa," ayat 24
Or. in another translation:
Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds ap…
As is usual for those who take this misguided point of view, Mark Moyar's Triumph Forsaken apparently defines "victory" as military victory. But nobody questions that military victory was achievable there; by any military measurement, we cleaned the clocks of Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese- and even our primary opponents, the Viet Cong- who were, by the way (a point missed by an amazing percentage of the American people even today) by definition South Vietnamese rebels. The Tet Offensive, to cite a single prominent example, was a political defeat of the first magnitude for the United States. But as the revisionists so often correctly point out, it was nevertheless, by any rational military standard, a crushing victory. The offensive was decisively thrown back, accomplishing nothing from a purely military point of view other than inflict upon the Communist force…
As Victor Davis Hanson observes, it will take something more than merely "surging" our troop levels to turn this thing around in Iraq.
It will require fighting the enemy on something like equal terms- meaning, among other things, that the rules of engagement will have to be significantly loosened. And there will be a lot of squawking about it here at home.
That they'll take out the nuclear facilities, I have no doubt at all. I've said all along that finally the United States needn't worry about a military response to the Iranian nuclear program, because Israel wouldn't tolerate a second nuclear power in the Middle East- and especially one that talks so often and so glibly about exterminating it.
That the Israelis will use nukes, I seriously doubt. The Arabs, the Far Left, and the depressingly large contingent of conservative Lutheran anti-Semites who seem to lurk underneath so many rocks these days to the contrary, the boys and girls in Tel Aviv aren't crazy, nor do they desire to do anyone a bit of harm that can be avoided consistent with the survival of their own spouses and children.
But say your prayers. This still could be very dicey. The Iranians are not going to take kindly even to a conventional strike against their nuclear facilities, and the Israelis will not meet with …
Today is Epiphany, the festival of the the Church Year which commemorates the revelation of the Christ Child to the world. as represented by the Wise Men. And no, we actually don't know how many of them there were. The tradition with which most of us are familiar say that there were three; the earliest Christian tradition says that there were twelve. Matthew just doesn't say. Their names were probably not Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar, and it is unlikely that one was African, one European, and one Asiatic, as beautiful and symbolically meaningful as that notion might be.
Nor were the Wise Men kings- or if they were, we aren't told that by the Bible. What we are told is that they were magi- astrologers, likely from Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia is the seat of one of the most ancient of culture of Earth's stargazing civilizations. The ancient Babylonians had a knowledge of the heavens which is astounding. Of course, they made no distinction between astronomy (the scientific …
Brownback- who recently spent a night in prison in order to experience in some small way what convicts go through- is a man who honestly and sincerely does combine the adjectives "compassionate" and "conservative." How he would do in November is hard to say, but he's an attractive guy and from all indications a genuinely good man- who will doubtless be vilified as an extremist and a fanatic and a fascist and a serial philatelist by the social Left. He is, after all, a committed Christian (shudder!)- a Roman Catholic, to be specific- who actually takes the teachings of his church seriously.
According to an "Unsolved History" episode I've just seen on The History Channel, the forensic evidence suggests that it was neither Mrs. O'Leary nor the cow in her barn, but rather either a match from the pipe of Daniel "Peg Leg" Sullivan (the actual owner of the cow) or an ember from a neighbor's chimney that caused the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
I've read ever since I was a child growing up in Chicago that historians doubted Mrs. O'Leary's responsibility, but the show provided documentary evidence. The Chicago Fire, BTW, was the occasion for the familiar tune, There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.
Seriously. Here are the words:
Late one night, when we were all in bed, Old Mother Leary left a lantern in the shed; And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said, "There’ll be a hot time in the old town, tonight."
Catherine O'Leary was singled out as a scapegoat by the Chicago Tribune, and identified to thi…
The Maliki government has to clean up its act if we are going to remain in Iraq- and Moqtada al Sadr needs to be captured or killed. He's the guy really running Iraq right now, and we are not fighting there to replace Saddam with the likes of him.
What the world saw in Saddam's execution was not a monster being brought to justice, but a petty political hit that made the guest of honor a martyr for Iraq's Sunni minority.
One night in the early '70's, I heard Dick Cavett (he used to have a late night TV show on ABC, children) singing the praises of H. P. Lovecraft, and especially his evocative way with words. Specifically, he mentioned still being... well, haunted, decades after reading it, by the closing paragraphs of Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark."
I had a job as a night watchman in an office building in the Loop that summer, and decided to read some Lovecraft to pass the time. I ended up devouring everything I could find by him in print
Despite an unfortunate fondness for the word 'eldritch' and a very ornate and cumbersome writing style (to say nothing of a very weird mind), as a writer, the guy rocked. Cavett's comment was right on the money: never, before or since have I come across an author who could draw you into the situation the way Lovecraft can, and make you almost see the scene he's describing- not just as if you were watching it on television, b…
Aside from the fact that this article completely misreads the dynamic of the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination-poll numbers or not, Mitt Romney is poised to be the candidate conservatives rally behind as the most viable option to Rudy Giuliani and John McCain- there is something else that bugs me about it.
Why is it that liberal positions are so regularly described- not only in the MSM, but even in specialty publications like The Hill- not as 'liberal,' but as 'moderate?'
There is nothing moderate about Rudy Giuliani's positions on abortion and issues relating to homosexuality, which are well to the left of the American people generally.
I have never understood those- no matter what their political orientation- who believe that preventing others from exercising their First Amendment rights is an activity protected by the First Amendment- or even remotely compatible with it.
Extremists of all types seem to have that odd understanding of the Constitution, though. Ah, well. Makes as much constitutional sense as Roe v. Wade, I suppose.