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Showing posts from December, 2011

Paul is harmless, really. But some of his followers aren't.

Ok. So it makes strategic sense for Romney supporters like Yours Truly to smile indulgently and even delightedly at the antics of the Paulistas. After all, Paul isn't a serious candidate for the nomination, and every vote he gets is a vote one of Romney's more credible opponents won't get.

If Paul wins the caucuses Tuesday, that's almost as good from Romney's point of view as winning himself. Paul will quickly fade from the scene after the early primaries, and it's highly unlikely that he'll ever be as strong anywhere else as he is in Iowa. Paul is a distraction which makes it difficult for candidates not as well set for the long haul as Mitt is to compete. Since Paul has no credibility as an actual candidate for the nomination, Paul and Romney finishing one/two on Tuesday has no downside for the crowd in Boston.

But as you may have noticed, I'm not complacent about Paul. I just don't like the idea of the people of Iowa looking like fools in front …

Don't miss the new Sherlock Holmes flick!

Incidentally, I saw Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Christmas day.

It was excellent- easily twice as good as the marvelous first film in the Robert Downey, Jr./Jude Law collaboration. Stephen Fry is marvelous as Mycroft, Sherlock's smarter brother, and Jared Harris is brilliantly evil as the infamous Professor Moriarity- an opponent in every nuance perfect as the counterpart of Downey's Holmes.

The only trouble with this series is that Downey and Law just aren't Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson. Rather than the almost autistically brilliant, icily cerebral detective of the canon, Downey's version is always very much in on the joke, a somewhat outrageous and witty character exhibiting a droll sense of humor that is as entertaining as it is unlike the canonical Holmes. The banter between Downey and Law is priceless- this version of the detective and the doctor are very much equals- but somehow they don't quite seem to be... well, Holmes and Watson…

'Evangelicals' moving to Santorum

The other day I got a call asking whether it would make any difference to my vote on Tuesday if Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann ran as a team, with one indicating that he or she would select the other for vice-president if nominated.

Now I know what that was all about. It seems that Christian "Evangelicals" are abandoning Bachmann here in Iowa and flooding to Santorum. In fact, the wheels seem to be falling off the campaign of "favorite daughter" Bachmann, who was born in Iowa even though she represents a district in Minnesota. The other day her campaign manager, veteran Iowa politico Kent Sorenson, suddenly abandoned her and showed up at a Ron Paul rally, where he endorsed the extraterrestrial candidate.

It will be interesting to see the ramifications for Sorenson's career. There is a scene in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons in which Thomas More, on trial for his life, says to former protege Richard Rich, who has just perjured himself on behalf of …

Ron Paul quote of the day for December 29, 2011

According to Paul, 9/11 was America's fault.

He made this speech on the floor of the U.S. House days after the attack.

Incidentally, Dr. Paul- we fought the First Gulf War to liberate the Muslim Kuwaitis from a brutal conquerer, not to steal their oil.

Rasmussen: Romney 45%, Obama 39%

As if to underscore exactly what is at stake in the Iowa Caucuses (and the rest of the GOP primary season), Rasmussen today released a poll showing Mitt Romney defeating President Obama 45% to 39%. Six percent are undecided.

Cain, Gingrich and Perry have each narrowly and briefly lead Mr. Obama at some point, but this is the largest lead any Republican has held over the president in the Rasmussen poll this time around. It is also the poorest showing Mr. Obama has had against any Republican.

Obama leads all other potential Republican opponents by between seven and 15 percentage points.

Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll shows Romney reclaiming the national lead among Republicans from Newt Gingrich. Romney has 27% to 23% for Gingrich, 11% for Ron Paul, eight percent for Rick Perry, and  five percent for Michele Bachmann. The poll does not report results for Rick Santorum or Jon Huntsman.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Real Clear Politics, Romney stated the obvious: "Ron Paul is not goin…

Poll released today shows Romney leading in both Iowa and New Hampshire

The latest poll here in Iowa says that Mitt Romney has moved into the lead.

The CNN.TIME, ORC poll conducted on December 21-24 and December 26-27 gives Romney 25% to 22% for Ron Paul,  16% for Rick Santorum (again, as the buzz predicted), 14% for Newt Gingrich,  11% for Rick Perry, 9% for Michele Bachmann, and 1% for Jon Huntsman. 2% expressed no preference.

It should be noted, however, that this poll was taken only among self-identified Republicans. Independents and Democrats are allowed to change their registration on primary night in order to participate in the GOP caucus. Even some polls showing Ron Paul still in the lead among those intending to participate in the caucuses show Romney leading among Republicans. Also, the poll was begun before Herman Cain's departure from the race; the votes of Cain voters were awarded to the candidate they had listed as their second choice.

Romney seems to have been the primary beneficiary of Gingrich's fall from grace to to a barrage of …

Newt Gingrich tells it like it is about Ron Paul

Newt Gingrich says that Ron Paul is worse than President Obama.

Asked whether he could vote for Paul, Gingrich replied, "No."  If Obama were the alternative? "You'd have a very hard choice at that point."

I wouldn't, personally. A sickening choice, yes- but not a hard one.  As little use as I have for Barack Obama's policies, I'd vote to re-elect him in a heartbeat if Ron Paul were the alternative. The election of a naif like Paul would be the greatest threat to our national security in my lifetime.

"I think Barack Obama is very destructive to the future of the United States," Gingrich told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday. "I think Ron Paul's views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American."

"As people get to know more about Ron Paul, who disowns 10 years of his own newsletter, says he didn't really realize what was in it, had no idea what he was making money off of, had no idea that it w…

Poll shows Paul leading overall in Iowa, Romney leading among Republicans- and 8% identifying themselves as Democrats

Ron Paul continues to lead Mitt Romney by four points in the latest Public Policy Polling Iowa tracking poll.
Newt Gingrich, who only weeks ago was looking like the inevitable winner of the Iowa Caucuses and perhaps the Republican presidential nomination, continues his slide- from 27% to 22% to 14% to 13% in four consecutive polls.

The latest poll show that Romney leads Ron Paul by 22% to 20% among those who are actually Republicans, reinforcing fears that left-wing Democrats may intend to cross party lines to caucus for Paul. 16% of those polled said that they had participated in the Democratic caucus in 2008.Half that number self-identified as Democrats. All participants in the poll said that they planned to participate in the Republican caucus this year.

Participants seem clear on the point that Romney (25%) has the best chance of beating President Obama, but by 58%-30% planned to base their support on issue positions rather than electability (from what I know of Iowa Republicans, …

Things are looking up here in Iowa

The sheer dedication of Ron Paul's supporters- who have the best organization in the state- is going to make him tough to beat on Tuesday, and remains a significant variable. And he continues to lead in the polls. But the relatively small amount of attention Ron Paul's front-runner status has drawn to his foreign policy and his other baggage momentum seems to be with Mitt Romney, and Iowans may yet avoid humiliating themselves in front of the world.

It's worth remembering, too, that four years ago it was Romney who had the best organization in the state. But Mike Huckabee didn't get the memo.

Tuesday is a long way away, but at this point the weather is looking good- another good sign for Mitt.

HT: Drudge

On Santa, his elves, and the Doctrine of the Ministry

A word of warning: unless you understand the peculiar doctrine of the Holy Ministry held by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, you're not going to get this.

Keep an eye on Rick Santorum

Evidentally I'm not the only one who thinks that Rick Santorum's showing here in Iowa will be a major surprise next week.

The polls haven't picked up a Santorum surge, but there's been plenty of buzz. And it makes sense. Santorum is a natural for Iowa's plentiful social conservatives, and he lacks the baggage of a Ron Paul or a Michele Bachmann.

I'm not saying that Santorum is going to win, but don't be surprised if he ends up in the top three. Not only have we begun to see well-produced TV ads in the last week or so, but while the other candidates have been making noise Santorum has been quietly waging the only traditional, boots-on-the-sidewalk-visit-all-99-counties wholesale campaign Iowa Republicans have seen this year.

I think it may well pay off.

Enduring the unendurable

Even a year in which the Bears win the Super Bowl would be a wash, at best, if in the same season they also lost twice to the P__kers.

Sunday the Ursine Warriors fell to the Forces of Evil, 35-21. Not only did they lose twice to the Moldy Cheese this season, but they won't even make the playoffs.

No excuses about Cutler and Forte. No words of hope about McCown giving us a competent backup quarterback for a change, or our unsuspected depth at running back.

Until the Bears can redeem themselves next season, we Bear fans must live with the shame of a season in which we lost twice to the Mold 'n' Gold.

Ron Paul is an extremist. But is he also a Democratic cat's paw?

Jewish conservatives are worried about Ron Paul.

 Dan Lederman, a Jewish Republican state sentator from South Dakota, is worried specifically about “(Paul's) views on national security, the white supremacy thing, foreign policy, the stance that having a nuclear Iran is okay.”Others are concerned that Paul's rhetoric also seems to be strongly anti-Israel, though not necessarily anti-Semitic.

Paul has denied responsibility for a series of racist posts in the newsletter he published under his own name in the Seventies. Paul claims he didn't pay attention to what was being published under his name, and didn't even know who wrote some of it. The viewpoints expressed in the newsletter, however, seem to correspond to those of many of Paul's supporters- a point which concerns even people who (like me) do not believe that Paul is personally racist.

The trouble is that although Paul disavows the viewpoints of these bigots and extremist fanatics, he does not disavow their sup…

A blessed Christmas

He undertakes a great exchange-
Puts on our human frame, And in return gives us His realm His glory, and His Name!

May the Word and Sacraments of the incarnate God keep your heart in the peace that comes from knowing that He has borne our sin and shame that we might share His glory forever.
A blessed Christmas to you and yours!

Don't let them near the Capitol building with matches!

"Occupy" storm-troopers have disrupted another campaign event here in Iowa, this time for Michele Bachmann.

Another example of the Left's dedication to free speech- for everybody who agrees with them.
HT: Drudge

Ron Paul quote of the day for December 22, 2011

From the Sept. 26, 1996, Austin American-Statesman:
"Fortunately, several types of accounts are tough for the IRS to investigate," Paul wrote. "For instance, it's still legal to open a bank account without revealing your Social Security number."

"He  (Paul) also offered to help readers get a foreign passport.

"Peru recently announced that it will sell its citizenship to foreigners for $25,000," Paul wrote. "... People concerned about survival are naturally interested in a second citizenship and passport. If you're interested, drop me a note and include your telephone number, and I'll get you some interesting information." [...]

Paul, a Surfside obstetrician, former member of Congress and 1988 Libertarian Party nominee for president, said Morris (Paul's opponent in the 1996 congressional race-REW) quotes material out of context. Paul also said his advice was appropriate at the time it was published.

Ron Paul shows his "presidential" temperment

Twenty or so years ago, Ron Paul published a newsletter that helped make him famous and earned him a lot of money. The newsletter's content was blatantly racist. Paul has insisted ever since that because he didn't pay attention to what other people were writing in his name, and doesn't even know who did the writing in many cases, and in other cases meant things "tongue-in-cheek" or in an "academic" sense, and disavows the content of the newsletter now, (though not necessarily in the past), he somehow isn't responsible for it.

Or else he is responsible for it, but since he's taken responsibility for it, it can't be an issue anymore.

Personally, I find that lame attempt to evade responsibility for the newsletter in some ways almost as disturbing as the content of the newsletter itself. This is especially the case because Dr. Paul's... er, dedicated followers contain such a high percentage of "truthers," Holocaust deniers, white…

He should talk!

Hugo Chavez, the clown who is president of Venezuela, has called President Obama a "clown president."

Which is sort of like being called Catholic by the Pope.

HT: Drudge

Romney leads in latest Rasmussen poll; Paul second

The latest Rasmussen Poll has Mitt Romney five points up on Ron Paul, with Newt Gingrich- who looked unstoppable a week ago- trailing Paul by three points.

Romney has 25%, to 20% for Paul, and 17% for Gingrich. Rick Santorum (keep your eye on this guy; my gut tells me that he's going to be the social conservatives' man) and Rick Perry each have 10%. Native Iowan Michele Bachmann has 6%, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman 4%. 1% prefer someone else; 8% aren't sure.

The race remains in a condition of flux. For some reason Rasmussen's polls seem to favor Romney; two polls earlier in the week showed Paul with small leads. But two things seem certain: first, the Gingrich boom is over, and second, barring a breakthrough by one of the second-tier candidates (Santorum would be my guess), it appears to be coming down to Romney and Paul.

HT: Drudge

Yes, the difference IS America's business!

Two notable world figures died over the weekend.

One was Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, freedom fighter, and president; founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on Human Rights and Communism; and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, and many similar honors; and, by any measure, one of the Twentieth Century's greatest heroes of human freedom and dignity. At the time of his death, he was president of the Human Rights Foundation.

"Vaclav to the (Prague) Castle!" was the battle cry of the "Velvet Revolution" of November and December, 1989, in which the long-suffering Czechs and Slovaks at last threw off the Russian and Communist yoke. A shy and self-effacing man,  Havel developed the habit of not looking those with whom he spoke in the eye- because avoiding looking his Communist jailers in the eye that was a way in which he had been able to maintain a certain amount …

Ron Paul newsletter quote of the day

"Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action."

REW responds: If only Ron Paul had a few 'sensible political opinions!'

(TONGUE-IN-CHEEK DISCLAIMER: Ron Paul is not responsible for the fact that he paid for the racist bilge above to be published under his name, because he didn't pay attention to what he was paying to have published under his name, and doesn't know who wrote it, or else it was "academic," or "tongue-in-cheek," or something. So don't be concerned about what this shows about his judgment, or anything. He doesn't agree with this stuff, nor with a whole lot of other stuff he paid to have published under his name. Really. Ron Paul is simply not responsible!)

Remembering Ron Paul's racist newsletter

Two new polls show Ron Paul leading here in Iowa, as Newt Gingrich's lead collapses.

As a Romney supporter, I suppose that I should be happy. But I hate seeing my fellow Iowans making themselves look like idiots in front of the whole country.

It's not just Paul's odd economic views or his naive, looney-tunes world view and a foreign policy which amounts to hinding our head in the sand and trusting that the world would be gentle with America if it would only stop being the source of all evil in the world. Beginning in 1978, Paul began publishing a newsletter which contained some of the most virulently racist garbage imaginable.

It should be noted that Paul did not write most of this stuff, and claims that he didn't keep close track of the newsletter's contents. He merely allowed it to be published under his name.

Some samples:

"If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."

"Given the ineff…

Dishonesty in Decorah

There was a time when eyebrows would be raised by news of the 14 year-old daughter of a religion professor being openly bi-sexual. Not any more.

Eyebrows are now raised by Texas Gov. Rick Perry invoking two thousand years of Christian ethical thinking and the plain and consistent teachings of both testaments that homosexual behavior is sinful.

Perry was confronted by Rebekah Green of Decorah, Iowa the other day over his opposition to gays serving openly in the military. I do not share Gov. Perry's postion on the issue, and it needs to be admitted that he expressed himself badly in responding to Ms. Green. “Here’s my issue., said Perry."This is about my faith, and I happen to think, you know, there are a whole hosts of sins. Homosexuality being one of them, and I’m a sinner and so I’m not going to be the first one to throw a stone.”

Hopefully Perry mispoke. In fact, nobody but an utter yahoo would suggest that homosexuality- as an orientation- is a sin. People who pay attent…

An Advent Angel from the Hubble

The Frankfurter Allgemeine recently published this photo by the Hubble Space Telescope, entitling it "Ein Angel zur Adventszeit" ("An Angel for Advent").

HT: Rev. Mike Zamzow

Just when you think it can't get any worse...

Now the Bears have lost to the Seahawks, for crying out loud.

First Jay Cutler breaks his thumb and Matt Forte sprains his knee. Now Johnny Knox is headed for the operating room, and Sam Hurd is headed for the hoosegow. And the Bears season is officially in the dumpster.

No playoffs this year. And the Ursine Warriors' chance of saving the season from utter ignominy by beating the hated P__kers next week are virtually nill.

I can hardly Bear it.

Limbaugh blasts Paul for "running to the Left of Obama" on Iran

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has attacked Ron Paul for painting Islamic terrorists (and the Iranians) as the good guys and the United States as the bad guys.

Maybe on Mars, Ron. But not on this planet.

Limbaugh criticized the eccentric Texas congressman for "running to the Left of Obama" on Iran.



Here is the exchange between Paul and Michele Bachmann during the Sioux City debate in which Paul let loose with his rant:



I'm not necessarily a huge fan of either Limbaugh or Bachmann. But this time, I agree with them both: the election of Ron Paul to the presidency would pose the greatest threat to America's national security in my lifetime. The man simply doesn't have a clue.

Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex Luther

Mrs. O speaks truly: the Baptists seem to be just now learning what we Lutherans seem so eager to forget.

"Aieee!Yog Sothoth!," for example, is just not an appropriate hymn lyric for biblically orthodox Christians. And neither are the lyrics of a great many "contemporary" or simply standard "Evangelical" hymns and songs.

Yes, the words do matter. We end up believing what we pray- or sing.

Christopher Hitchens now knows better

Christopher Hitchens- eloquent apologist for those simultaneously oppressed and unpopular and, unfortunately, snarky atheist- is dead at 62. The author of God is Not Great suffered from esophageal cancer

I was never quite sure whether to admire or be horrified at the man. He was never afraid to "call 'em as he saw 'em," even if it meant being politically incorrect enough to view the Iraq war through the lenses of concern for the people of Iraq rather than Bush hatred. On the other hand, his view of religion as very nearly the root of all evil was to say the least extreme, and he was vehement in his denial of God. As  a Christian, I hope he had occasion to revise his views before finding out the hard way how very wrong he was about that last one.

One thing, in any case is clear: we're poorer for his absence. We need more people with his intellectual courage, even when they're wrong about the most basic things of all.

HT: Drudge

Tea Party's Haley backs Romney; Paul backs terrorists against America

Remember Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina who was one of the 2010 poster children for the Tea Party?

She's endorsed Romney.

Meanwhile, in last night's Sioux City debate, Ron "Blame America First" Paul demonstrated conclusively his unfitness to be president by taking the side of the terrorists in the War on Terror. The terrorists hate us, Paul claimed, because we kill innocent civilians and invade countries. Iran's nuclear threat, he said, is merely an excuse for America to be evil to somebody else.

Paul, of course, has no chance of being nominated. But if he were, I wonder whether the general election campaign would be a contest between him and President Obama to see who could apologize for America most often and most abjectly.

HT: Drudge

Shouldn't Christian pastors preach Christian sermons?

More evidence (as if it was needed) that American clergy need to read C.F.W. Walther's classic  The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel- and preach more Christian sermons.

The Law is everything God demands of us. It includes His threat of punishment for disobedience.

The Gospel is the Good News of what God has done for us in Christ. It is the Gospel, and not the Law, that makes a sermon- or a person- Christian.

There is no Christian monopoly on the notion that you should be good, or that God makes demands on our behavior and threatens us with punishment if we don't comply. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, Rastaferians, and just about anybody who doesn't worship either Satan or Cthulhu can go along with that. Even atheists and agnostics often acknowledge that ethics are good, and that it's better to be nice than naughty.

But God isn't Santa Claus, even though He does know whether you're naughty or nice, and even knows when you are sleeping and k…

And in this corner, in the red trunks with white fur trim...

While Mormons, Christian Scientists, Jehovah's Witnesses and others may not want to remember this particular Christmas-related story, gift giving wasn't the only thing St. Nicholas (a forensic reconstruction of his face is at the right) was famous for.

An orthodox (small "o," as well as large), Nicene Christian, jolly old St. Nick was also well known for having walked up to the heretic Arius and punched him in the face.

Arius, for those who need a brush-up course in church history, denied the Trinity and taught that Jesus was similar to (homoiousious)  but not identical to (homoousious) the Father.

I guess you would kind of expect somebody whose father was named Ammonius to have a rather stinky theology...

The feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6.

HT: Real Clear Religion

NOW we're talking! Newt crashes in Iowa, NH polls; Romney surges

Negative ads detailing the former Speaker's checkered past seem to have punctured the Gingrich balloon. Two new polls show Mitt Romney jumping into the lead here in Iowa, and extending his lead in New Hampshire. Gingrich has tumbled into second place in Iowa, and third place in New Hampshire.

The new Iowa Rasmussen numbers give Romney 23%, Gingrich 20%, Ron Paul 18%, Rick Perry 10%, Michele Bachmann 9%, Rick Santorum 6%, and Huntsman 5%. Ten percent are undecided or support someone else.

My gut tells me to keep my eye on Santorum. A smart and focused campaigner with a a strong appeal to the social conservatives who make up the greater part of the Iowa GOP,  I have a very strong hunch that many caucus-goers in what seems to be a fluid race are going to come down at the last minute in his corner.

Every candidate except Gingrich, who lost twelve percent, has apparently picked up support in Iowa in the past week. Huntsman, who picked up three points, has visited Iowa precisely once.

Paul within one point of Newt in Iowa; Romney six points back

The latest poll here in Iowa has Ron Paul trailing Newt by only one point, with Romney five points in back of\the former Speaker. The negative ads Romney, Perry and Paul are running against Gingrich seem to be working, at least to a point.

Since Paul's army of extraterrestrials is generally acknowledged to be the best organization any of the candidates has here, this should be taken seriously. And nobody ever went broke betting on the...er,   ideologically unusual wing of the Iowa Republican party showing up in force on caucus night.

Romney, of course, is rooting for Paul if he himself can't finish first. Anything that can slow Gingrich's momentum is good news for Mitt, whose organization nationwide is the strongest and deepest. If he can survive the early going, Romney is the best positioned of the candidates for a long, drawn-out battle for the nomination. Romney's nightmare scenario is a quick knockout blow, with Gingrich winning in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida…

Romney leads in New Hampshire- and among likely U.S. voters

Rasmussen's latest New Hampshire Primary poll has Romney up ten points over Gingrich.

Romney has 32% to Newt's 22%. Ron Paul is third with 18%. Jon Huntsman is fourth, with 10%.

Meanwhile, another Rasmussen poll shows pretty much what I've been saying on this blog: Mitt Romney is simply a much stronger candidate for the general election than Gingrich or any of the others (with the possible exception of Huntsman).

According to the poll, 53% of likely U.S. voters have an at least somewhat favorable opinion of Romney, compared to 38% with a negative one.  For quite a while, the polls have shown Gingrich and the others- including President Obama- with unfavorable ratings higher than their favorable ones by various margins.

If the GOP nominates Gingrich, it really ought to change its symbol from the elephant to the lemming.

HT: Drudge

Ok, so I don't know everything!

I take back everything I said earlier this season about Blackhawks' backup goalie Ray Emery.

The dude's record so far is 6-1. Corey Crawford is 12-7.Despite a respectable won/loss record,  I'm afraid Corey has been a bit of a disappointment to me thus far this year. Good to know that the Good Guys have the depth between the pipes to cover for him.

BTW, that overtime victory over the Sharks- the current Cup favorites- last night was pretty sweet! ONE GOAL!

Observations on the Republican candidates and the Iowa Caucuses

I watched the Republican candidates' debate over at Drake Saturday night.  A great deal of attention was given Newt Gingrich's comment the other day that there is no such thing, historically, as a Palestinian people. Needless to say, such a remark by a potential president of the United States created quite a stir in the Middle East over the weekend, and did our nation very little good in the Arab world. Newt is correct, of course. But that doesn't change the fact that his tactless comment was a perfect example of the problem described in this pre-debate post.

Yeah, Mitt Romney blew it when he challenged Rick Perry's inaccurate quotation from Romney's book by offering to bet the Texas governor $10,000 that his version of the statement in question, rather than Perry's, was correct. Millionaires do not come off well casually offering bets of that magnitude at a time when the American people are suffering economically the way most of us are today.But I doubt the da…

Poor Marion Barber!

All he had to do was fall down.

The Bears were leading Denver 10-7 with less than two minutes left in the game. If Barber could have simply stayed on his feet for, say, five seconds, and then fallen down, Caleb Hanie could have taken a few knees and it would have been over.

Unfortunately, Barber drifted off into a momentary cerebral snooze and went out of bounds.  The Bears had to punt. Shortly thereafter, the Broncos kicked the tying field goal and sent the game into overtime.

Barber did make a nifty catch then, on what seemed to be Chicago's game-winning drive. And when Hanie handed off to him, Barber broke through the line and seemed headed toward the end zone for the touchdown that would have redeemed his earlier mistake. Unfortunately, though, he forgot something.

The ball.

It was stripped as Barber cleared the line of scrimage. Denver recovered- and a few plays later kicked another field goal.

When I started watching the game, the Bears led 10-0 with less than eight minutes…

Newt Gingrich: To know him is to oppose him

If the Iowa Caucuses were held today, Newt Gingrich would win in a walk. He is far ahead in South Carolina and Florida. He is closing the gap in New Hampshire. He's way ahead nationally among Republican voters. At the moment, he appears to be the most likely Republican nominee for president in 2012. And if you're a Republican, that's cause for concern.

Last night I heard David Brooks say that of all the Republican congressmen and former congressmen who served with Newt Gingrich when he was speaker whom he has asked, only two think that he would be a credible presidential nominee. Brooks said that there were occasions while he was Speaker when Gingrich was accompanying other Republican leaders in the House to press conferences in order to announce their position on an issue- and on the way changed his mind, and did a 180 degree flip on the issue by the time he got to the rostrum!

The guy is a genius; no question. But he's also erratic, impulsive, scattered, and a ticki…

Can this woman save the Episcopal church?

So asks the theologically...er, extreme Lisa Miller about the Right Reverend Mariann Budde, Washington, D.C.'s new Episcopal "bishop."

The answer is "no."

First, it is doubtful that anybody can save the Episcopal church. Even the Good Shepherd cannot save sheep so determined to flee from Him. And lest we forget, the very gender of this "bishop" is an act of rebellion against that Good Shepherd, intellectually dishonest theological and historical rationalizations to the contrary. Best to remember, too, that the Graeco-Roman world of the First Century was one in which female religious leadership was generally accepted; the prohibitions of women's ordination in the Epistles cannot reasonably be said to have been historically or culturally conditioned.

A cavalier attitude toward the Faith Once Delivered is the whole problem with the Episcopal church, and the "solutions" Miller describes are in fact precisely what is so very wrong with the E…

An historic wrong righted: Ron Santo elected to the Hall of Fame!

What took so long?

Baseball stat guru Bill James regards Ron Santo as the eighty-seventh best player and the sixth best third baseman ever to play the game. Santo's statistics were better than most of the third basemen already in the Hall. He was a perennial Golden Glover and All-Star; for a stretch of time, only Brooks Robinson was his superior as an active major league third baseman. But somehow, when it came to inducting new members into baseball's Hall of Fame, Santo was always left out.

Perhaps it was jealously. Certain living Hall of Fame third basemen (who shall remain nameless) publicly- and lamely, in view of Santo's numbers- implied that he somehow didn't measure up; maybe they felt that their own legends would somehow be diminished by the Hall giving Santo his due.. My own theory is that because three members of the 1969 Cubs- "the greatest team that never won a pennant-" were already immortalized in the Hall, perhaps some felt that adding Santo t…

It's over.

There is no excuse for losing to the Kansas City Chiefs. None. But this afternoon, the Bears pulled it off.

Signing McNabb would be nice; clearly Caleb Hanie is not the answer, and  I doubt that Josh McCown would be much better. But now Matt Forte is down with a sprained knee- it isn't clear yet for how long- and without some kind of a passing threat, opponents can simply key on whoever is playing back there.

Besides, the math is against them. The Ursines' chances of winning a wild card berth have to be considered remote at this point, having lost two games in as many weeks that they should have won easily.

Time to turn my full attention to the Blackhawks.

Have we just witnessed the political lynching of Herman Cain?

So Herman Cain has dropped out of the  race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Yes, he paid money to his alleged mistress. Of course, he never denied having tried to help the woman, who was having severe financial problems.

Yes, he did settle a sexual harrassment suit brought by one of the several women who suddenly accused him of inappropriate behavior. But making such an embarassment "go away" is by no means an admission of guilt.

I don't know whether Cain is guilty of adultery or secual harassment or not. But I do know that literally any woman can make such claims about literally any man, and that Cain was driven from the race by little more than mere accusations. Contrast this with former President Bill Clinton, whose notorious "bimbo eruptions" not only proved no final obstacle to his election as president, but who even survived an accusation of forcible rape.

Accusations are not proof. They should not automatically be taken at face value. Yet whe…

In Iowa, it's Gingrich going away - with the Mormon and the Martian neck-and-neck for second

According to one recently concluded poll, Newt the Unelectable has taken an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney in one Iowa poll, with Ron Paul the Laughable only one point in back of Romney.

Meanwhile, the reputable Iowa Poll has Gingrich leading, with Rep. Paul (R-Utopia Planitia) actually moving past Romney into second place.

The exit of Herman Cain from the race is apparently crystalizing the Iowa Caucuses into a three-man race, with Romney- the only Republican with a realistic chance of defeating President Obama- the big loser. All the polls currently show Gingrich pulling away here.

Henry Clay is supposed to have said once, "I'd rather be right than president." Iowa Republicans are somewhat notorious for the fact that they'd rather be far Right than elect one.

Here's hoping they come to their senses in the next four weeks. Fortunately for GOP prospects next November, Romney seems to still be in control in New Hampshire.

HT: Drudge, Real Clear Politics

By Galle, Mars has another smiley face crater!

I've long been enamored of the Martian crater Galle in Argyre Planitia (below). Known (for obvious reasons) as the "smiley face crater," it has always seemed to me strong evidence that God has a sense of humor. Imaged by three seperate Mars missions- Viking, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Express- it's been a kind of inside joke among astronomy buffs for years.

Although I hadn't heard about it, it seems that back in 2008 the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered another "smiley face crater" (above) in the Neredium Mountains, north of the Argyre basin. Not quite two miles across, it's considerably smaller than Galle. It does not yet have a name, but one planetary scientist has expressed a preference for the newcomer on the ground that "it's goofier."

One of the most amusing things about the Galle crater is the frantic attempts by the more humorless (and less imaginative) in the astronomical community to pretend that, like the famous &q…

Unemployment lowest since March of 2009

The unemployment rate has fallen to 8.6%- the lowest since March of 2009.

Is this because the economy is growing? Or is it because so many unemployed people have given up looking?

The answer is some of each. But one thing is sure: while I am not a fan of President Obama, I would rather see him re-elected because the economy recovers than defeated because it doesn't.

And so should every American, regardless of party or political philosophy.

How dare you express an opinion a liberal (or an atheist) disagrees with?!

A few days ago I read a well-written (if ironic) story about an American woman of, er.... progressive inclinations marooned in the UK by a miltary coup in the United States fostered by Christian fascists.

Wherever we look, we see the Right (and specifically the Christian Right) painted as dangerously totalitarian in inclination, and a threat to the freedoms of those who disagree with it. The irony, of course, is that in the real world wherever you look- from the indoctrination in atheism offered at public expense at state university campuses, to attempts to portray moral objections to sodomy as somehow expressions of "hate" against those who practice it, to laws in Canada and Australia and Great Britain actually criminalizing politically incorrect speech- it is in fact the Left, and specifically the atheist Left, which seems (excuse the expression) hell-bent on suppressing the expression of any opinion or viewpoint which differs from its own.

This, as Jordan Sekulow and Matt…

Newt electable? Don't kid yourself!

Facts are stubborn things.
-- John Adams
Conservatives seem to be engaging in a great deal of self-delusion these days, imagining that any of the cartoon characters opposing Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination have a snowball's chance in Tartarus of beating Barack Obama, economy or no economy.

While I regard Newt Gingrich (and perhaps Herman Cain, who has other problems) as being in a different category from those other clowns, the fact of the matter is that Gingrich, too, is a poor choice if Republicans want to actually win next November.

If they're going to do that, the nominee almost certainly has to be Romney.

AWK-ward!

Vice President Joe Biden says in the same breath that free Iraq is now able to survive on its own, but that "we're not claiming victory."

Of course not. If the Obama administration admitted the obvious- that we won the war in Iraq that its head proclaimed so loudly and so long was unwinnable- it would have to give the credit to the Bush administration. The current one- and Mr. Obama in particular- having done everything possible to prevent it, the corollary would be that both Mr. Obama and most of his party were wrong about an issue concerning which they are emotionally incapable of admitting error.

Surely, though, this represents a new low in partisanship: an administration refusing to admit that the United States has won a war because to do so would cast its predecessor in a favorable light.

HT: Drudge