Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thaddeus McCotter

It's a real shame that the landslide of media coverage on Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann nearly drowns out the voices of other Republican presidential hopefuls, many of whom offer cogent solutions to our nation's ills. One such virtually ignored Republican is Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter. If you do not know much about him, you should. He's eloquent, intellegent, and cares deeply about the future of this (once?) great nation. Check out his web site at:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Trey Grayson and Rand Paul

The odds-on favorite to capture the Republican nomination for U. S. Senate in Kentucky is Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the choice (darling ?) of the party establishment. However, Grayson and his allies should not count their chickens before they hatch. His opponent, Bowling Green physician Rand Paul, is a formidable challenger. He is well-spoken, has plenty of political contacts (his father, Congressman Ron Paul, for one), and has recently appeared on numerous high-profile political shows, thereby enhancing his name recognition. Grayson will probably still capture the nomination, but this showdown looks more and more like a barnburner.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bunning Must Step Down

Simply put, Kentucky's Jim Bunning is hurting the Republican Party's chances of keeping a U.S. Senate seat in the GOP fold. He has sent mixed signals about whether he intends to run in 2010. On the one hand, he has encouraged Secretary of State Trey Grayson to establish an exploratory committee, but on the other, he maintains that he is a candidate for reelection. As a result, GOP donors don't know where to send their dollars. Grayson has raised about $600,000, and Bunning has about $250,000 in the bag. Another hopeful, Rand Paul (the son of Ron) has raised about $125,000, largely through a grassroots effort. Meanwhile, the leading Democratic hopeful, Attorney General Jack Conway, already has an impressive war chest of 1.2 million. Bunning, who often appears addled or angry or both, must step aside and do so quickly, for not only Kentucky's sake but also the nation's.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Race Anyone?

There are simply no limits to the heights a young black person can reach in the twenty-first century. We have a black president, a black Supreme Court justice, and we have two very prominent blacks in the Cabinet with another awaiting confirmation. Do a number of people still hold racist beliefs? You bet, but I would qualify that remark by asserting that racists come in all skin colors. That is reality, and anyone unwilling to acknowledge that fact sees the world the way they want and not the way it is. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly impolite and unacceptable to express racist views even in the company of one's colleagues and friends (and totally unacceptable in a group setting). Frankly, I think a good amount of progress has been made over the past sixty years, and we should feel good about that fact.

Yet, there is a very sizeable segment of the American public that seems unwilling or unable to give our society any credit whatsoever on the race question. Specifically, I would point to white liberals of the intellectual class. For whatever reason, they don't seem happy unless they have oppression to rail against. Whether they are motivated by guilt because they come from a better circumstance or by a notion of their own moral superiority, the white intellectual class wring their hands over every -ism in the book: racism, sexism, ageism, lookism, weightism, etc. Frankly, it is not a world view that puts tremendous demands on the individual. As long as you see yourself as believing the "right" point of view, there's no need to examine a situation closely or take any action of consequence to make it better. You're okay because you're not as bad as the fill-in-the-blank (racists, sexists, homophobes, and so forth).

Also, I believe that something is very badly amiss in the perspective of many in the black community, especially the leadership. Whatever Dr. King's personal failings, he had the right idea. America could only reach its full potential and overcome its past if whites and blacks truly came together in a meaningful fashion in everyday life. In one word, America needed a top-to-bottom integration. Today, however, it seems to me that the black community is running in reverse, separating now more than ever from the mainstream of America's culture and everyday life. Nowhere is the divergence sharper than in the political sphere, where blacks overwhelmingly, without fail, back Democratic candidates. It's not even the opposing viewpoint that stands out so much as the white-hot vitriol with which America's black leaders make their case. As a practical matter, allegations of racism (such as those spewed at John McCain by John Lewis during the presidential campaign) should not be levied the moment a controversy erupts. I think it is exceptionally rude and unfair to levy this charge unless every single possible alternative explanation has been exhausted. The charge of racism, falsely leveled, poisons the well long after an event has passed.

As a real-world example of the changing racial dynamic in America, look at the 2000 NCAA basketball tournament. In a first-round matchup, the University of Mississippi was paired against tiny Iona College of New Rochelle, New York. In 1957, Ole Miss found itself scheduled to play Iona, which had a single black player on its roster. Rather than compete under this circumstance, Ole Miss forfeited the game to Iona. In 2000, the University of Mississippi invited that black gentleman to attend the game as their guest. The unhappy souls who want and need to feel bad can probably find something negative to say. I think it's a nice example of white people of goodwill attempting to come to terms with a less-than-ideal past. As a further point, it should be noted that in 2000 all five starters and the head coach for the University of Mississippi were black.

Unfortunately, individuals who accuse others of prejudice have a decided advantage in debate. A person can show or explain who he is, but it is impossible to prove that he is NOT something. In the same way, it is a difficult task to prove that society is not a certain way (i.e. thoroughly and insidiously racist) in the face of strident attack. But that should not deter fair and honest people from keeping up the good fight against unwarranted, hateful namecalling.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Quick Observation

A rerun of Saturday Night Live last Saturday reminded me that rural southern/Appalachian whites are the one minority group still open for ridicule across the board. At one time, SNL had a sketch entitled "Appalachian Emergency Room." Exaggerated stereotypical characters walk into an emergency room with ridiculous injuries. There would have been howls of protest had the skit been entitled "Inner City Emergency Room."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Baseball Hall of Fame

Recently, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice received the nod to join the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. No one questioned Henderson's credentials, but some baseball pundits wondered aloud whether Rice's numbers warranted his election. They noted that he did not hit 500 home runs (382) and that he fell well short of 3,000 hits (2,452). While discussing these milestones, the pundits apparently forgot that Rice was one of the top five hitters in the American League for a decade. Few players in either league were among the elite for so long, and that alone makes him a worthy Hall of Famer.

The debate over Rice demonstrates that baseball writers are increasingly obsessed with the big numbers: 300 wins, 500 home runs, and 3,000 hits. While it is hard to argue that a player who reaches one or more of these numbers is not deserving of the Hall, these stats do not always prove that a player was better than someone who fell short of them. Unfortunately, baseball writers do not always see it that way. If a player does not reach one of these milestones, he generally has to wait many years to win election to the Hall, if he is voted in at all.

Let's take an example. Don Sutton, who strung together 324 wins over twenty-three seasons while rarely leading the league in any category, became a member of the Hall after five years on the ballot. Meanwhile, Bert Blyleven, who won 287 games and struck out 3,701 batters (good for fourth on the all-time list), is still on the outside looking in after twelve years of waiting. Simply put, Sutton was not that much better than Blyleven (if he was any better at all). The baseball writers may vote in Blyleven before his eligibility expires after the 2012 elections, but, then again, they might not: Ferguson Jenkins, who was elected in 1991, was the last starting pitcher with fewer than 300 wins (284) to gain enshirnement.

Then there are pundits who have argued that Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, whose career was cut short by glaucoma, did not reach the necessary statistical thresholds for admission. While it is true that he did not get 3,000 hits or attain one of the other magical milestones, he averaged 658 atbats, 97 runs, 209 hits, 19 home runs, and 99 rbi per 162 games. One must wonder what he would have had to average to satisfy his detractors.

Using the logic of the milestone obsessed, all-time greats such as Bob Feller, Bob Gibson, Carl Hubbell, and Robin Roberts, none of whom reached 300 wins, should now be considered inferior to Don Sutton and Phil Niekro because Sutton and Niekro (thanks mostly to their longevity) crossed the mark. Such hitters as Luke Appling, Richie Ashburn, Sam Crawford, and Frankie Frisch (all of whom hit over .300 lifetime but fell short of 3,000 hits) would be deemed lesser batsmen than someone with a lifetime .280 average who held on enough to leg out 3,000 safeties. The illogical has become the logical for many baseball observers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Eugenics Reborn!!!

Here is a direct quote from Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the economic benefits of population control:

"Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

Here is a direct quote from Professor of History Jeremy Noakes at the University of Exeter contained in Richard Bessel's edited collection Life in the Third Reich:

"During the 1920s a number of doctors and psychiatrists in Germany began to propose a policy of sterilization to prevent those with hereditary defects from procreating. Such a policy of negative selection had already been carried out on a limited scale in the United States where the technique of vasectomy had been developed and was first applied by a prison doctor in 1899. WITH THE ECONOMIC CRISIS WHICH BEGAN IN 1929 SUCH PROPOSALS GAINED INCREASING SUPPORT AMONG THOSE INVOLVED IN THE WELFARE SERVICES, SINCE THEY APPEARED TO OFFER THE PROSPECT...OF SUBSTANTIAL SAVINGS IN THE FUTURE."

I'll let you draw your own conclusions here...


Now that the Marve situation has cooled down a bit over the past few days, I feel like I can address the controversy with a reasonable amount of objectivity.

Generally, and perhaps predictably, the media's coverage of the Marve saga has congealed into one big, anti-UM hit piece. Coach Shannon has been portrayed as nothing less than a petty, classless little man taking advantage of a poor, defenseless victim. This interpretation is really not all that surprising as the media hates Miami and American society in general seems to have elevated the victim over the achiever in recent years. In short, Americans love bitching about the little guy getting pushed around by the big bully (whoever he/she may be).

What I find absolutely ridiculous about the whole situation is that talking heads at news outlets like ESPN simultaneously heap praise on BC for firing their coach and "upholding the sanctity of the contract" while shredding Miami for holding Marve and his family to the same contractual standard (remember that football scholarships are one-year, renewable contracts).

Here are the facts of the case:

1. Robert Marve had every chance in the world to cement his status as full-time starter with consistent and steady play - he failed to do so.

2. Not one person in the Hecht Center ever lied to Bobby Drama about the QB situation. Both he and Jacory knew that they would be splitting time this year.

3. Coach Shannon's "fascist" decision to limit Marve's transfer options is standard operating procedure at most major college football programs.

4. Robert started 11 of the Canes' 13 games this year. He was suspended for the two games he did not start.

5. Shannon's decision to restrict Marve from transferring to the three SEC schools (UT, LSU, UF) was made to protect his roster, not to punish an unhappy player. There is no doubt whatsoever that either Marve, his dumbass father, or his slimy HS coach had contact with all three of those schools before the end of the season and perhaps as early as November. That, of course, is a blatant violation of NCAA rules. In light of these facts, Coach Shannon had every right in the world to make sure that scumbags like Les Miles and Urban Meyer could not poach talent straight out of the UM locker room. Furthermore, if Shannon and UM really want to get nasty, they could request an investigation of Marve, his family, AND the three schools involved in these violations.

6. Robert's father, Eugene Marve, is a string-puller and a scumbag. His recent decision to peddle his prostate cancer in a thinly veiled attempt to elicit sympathy is as offensive as it is misleading. Eugene's argument that big bad Randy Shannon was hurting the Marve family by cutting off the UF avenue because Robert "needed" to stay close to home is pure bullshit. Eugene did not seem to have a problem coming very, very close to sending his child hours away to the University of Alabama two years ago. Now that Shannon has opened up, in an amazing display of kindness in my opinion given the Marve family's public behavior, the possibility of Robert tranferring to UCF or USF, I BETTER see Bobby Drama at one of those two schools if location is such a big deal.

7. Robert Marve, not to put too sharp an edge on it, is a child and a punk. It seems to me that Robert was always more interested in the IDEA of being Miami quarterback than in upholding the tradition of being a UM signal caller. He is the prototypical, immature college boy that I am so used to dealing with in my own classes - a punk who is too hard-core to show up to class on time, do the work, or show respect, but who simultaneously needs constant reassurance and ass-kissing to operate. Frankly, if Robert was expecting ego-stroking from Randy Shannon, he was barking up the wrong tree.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Forgotten Claim

Last week Barack Obama defeated John McCain to become the next president of the United States. Obama's victory seemed to many (at least to many of his supporters) foreordained. But no one should forget that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought tooth and nail in the Democratic primaries before Obama secured enough delegates to claim victory. Before Clinton conceded defeat, it seemed for a while that she might fight Obama all the way to the convention. Indeed, Clinton began intimating that she should be the nominee because she had (supposedly) won the popular vote during the primary season. Although it is the delegate count, rather than the popular vote count, that ultimately decides a presidential nomination, do Clinton's claims of having captured the popular vote hold water? No national news source, as far as I know, ever tackled this question.

There were 56 primaries, caucuses, and conventions in the Democratic Party's presidential nomination contest (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the ever-popular Democrats Abroad). In determining who captured the popular vote, Michigan stands as the biggest hurdle because Obama was not on the ballot. Fortunately, the media's exit polling included a query on voters' preference had all candidates appeared on the ballot. On that question, Senator Clinton led with 46%, Senator Obama had 35%, and John Edwards trailed with 12%. (Those numbers are very much consistent with the results from Florida, where Senator Clinton scored 50%, Senator Obama 33%, and Edwards 14%. One would expect Clinton to score slightly higher in the Hispanic-heavy Sunshine State and Edwards to benefit from his southern roots.) I feel it is fair to divide the Michigan vote according to the exit poll's result. It answers the Clinton campaign's call to count every vote, it acknowledges that she won the most votes in the state, and it awards many (but not all) "Uncommitted" ballots to Senator Obama. There were several other bookkeeping matters that required consideration. Three caucus states (Iowa, Nevada, and Maine) did not report popular vote totals. Again, media polling came to the rescue. Since Iowa and Nevada were very early on the calendar, there was a treasure trove of information on the voter's intentions as they entered the caucus sites. It is important to go with the entrance polls since weaker candidates are frequently eliminated from consideration and their supporters asked to realign with one of the leaders as the process unfolds. By the time Maine voted, it was a two-horse race and, therefore, no problem to apportion the vote. Washington state, Idaho, and Nebraska Democrats awarded delegates to the national convention through caucuses, but each state subsequently administered an advisory/nonbinding primary. Since more people participated in the primaries, I decided to use them instead of the caucus tallies. It would not be appropriate to use both since this would undoubtedly give some people two votes, which is an absolute no-no in my book. The Lone Star State used both a primary and a caucus to determine its delegation; only the primary was considered. Pundits referred to it as the "Texas Two-Step"; I said even worse things about it. At any rate, that is some of the procedural minutiae that allowed me to find my way in tallying the vote. Among the jurisdictions where the vote totals are absolutely certain, I have Senator Obama with 17.939 million and Senator Clinton with 17.873 million. For the guess-timate states, I have Senator Obama garnering roughly 83K from Iowa, 48K from Nevada, 26K from Maine, and 208K from Michigan. Senator Clinton counters with 65K from the Hawkeye State, 56K from the Silver State, 18K from the Pine Tree State, and 273K from the Wolverine State. By my calculation, that gives Senator Obama the victory by a final count of 18.304 million-18.285 million. Once he closed the deal in Indiana and North Carolina, Senator Obama pretty much left the field to his colleague from New York. She ran up huge margins in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico. In short, Clinton did not entirely close the gap, but she came mighty close.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pitiful Debate

Last night's presidential debate was easily the worst in years. The candidates began exceeding their time limits virtually from the start. Debate moderator Tom Brokaw should have taken preventive action by reminding the candidates BEFORE the debate that the lights around the stage signaled when their time was up. When the candidates exceeded their limits, Brokaw should have immediately cut them off. Instead, he repeatedly made snippy comments about the candidates' longwindedness. The candidates' verbosity and Brokaw's behavior made for a long, irksome evening.

In addition, none of the questions touched on any subject that wasn't covered in the first debate. Surely the thousands who submitted online questions and the audience in Nashville asked some good questions that dealt with something other than the economy, health care, and foreign affairs.

To this point in the campaign, the best debate was the Saddleback Church forum. The pastor asked some good, probing questions that touched on a variety of subjects. Brokaw could have learned some lessons if he had watched a tape of the program.

I have confidence that Bob Schieffer, who is professional and usually impartial, will ask good questions during the next debate. However, if he offers nothing new, I will turn off the TV.