I wrote a few days ago about Barack Obama's blunder in picking Joe Biden to be his Vice-Presidential running mate, and about how it presented John McCain a huge opportunity to blow the race wide open.
Well, McCain seized the opportunity and selected a near-ideal running mate in Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The knock on Governor Palin will be that she's a little inexperienced, especially at the Federal level and in foreign policy. But everything else is is upside. She's a woman, a working mom with five kids, and as a former mayor and current Governor she has more EXECUTIVE experience than Obama and Biden combined. She also has strong credentials as a reformer and for reaching out for bi-partisan solutions (she's a uniter, not a divider!). She has strong conservative credentials and values. It also doesn't hurt that she's a very attractive woman, and in fact is America's Hottest Governor.
Hillary! supporters generally came in two flavors. One group loves Hillary! because she is a doctrinaire, fire-breathing liberal who hews to Democrat orthodoxy as consistently as anyone. Sarah Palin isn't going to lure many of those voters into the GOP fold in November. But there's a significant portion of Hillary! supporters who have backed her primarily because she is a woman. To those voters Sarah Palin presents a unique opportunity (not available in the Democrat party) to advance the cause of women by putting a woman a heartbeat away from the Presidency. A woman in the White House, not by marriage, but on her own merit. John McCain and Sarah Palin don't need to sway all those Hillary! voters, or even a majority of them. But if 10-15% of those voters decide to cast their votes for the party that walks the walk on equal opportunity, Sarah Palin will be the next Vice-President of the United States.
Sarah Palin's position as Governor of Alaska and as the Republican nominee for the Vice-Presidency fulfills the promise that the womens liberation movement has been making to American women for a generation: You can have it all. You can be a good wife and mother and still have a career. You can be a wife and mother of five and become the Governor of Alaska and Vice-President of the United States. And look darn good doing it! Well, at least you can have all those things if you're a Republican!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Last summer it was the East Coast College Tour. This summer the OC Domer family went on a cruise to
We had reservations at the Renaissance Vancouver Hotel Harbourside, which put us in the heart of
After check-in we wanted to do a little sight-seeing and enjoy the city. Having watched the weather forecasts closely, we weren’t surprised when we got soaked in the rain while walking around (in the jackets that we THOUGHT were waterproof and that we were counting on to keep us dry through a rainy week in Alaska). We walked toward the historic Gastown area, checking out the shops. There is a lot of merchandise on display for the 2010 Winter Olympics that are being held in
The next morning my son went for a long run along the waterfront and around Stanley Park with his uncle, and my wife and I got out and took a nice long walk to
The Cruise. I have been thinking about it a lot, and I think the best way to review the cruise is to write on the one hand about the shipboard experience on Carnival Spirit, and to write separately about
The Carnival Spirit is a really big ship designed to carry (house, feed, entertain) over 2,000 passengers and nearly 1,000 crew members. The ship really does resemble a
The dining room experience was the source of some disappointment. We did get the “early” dinner seating we asked for (6:00 p.m.), but we were not all at the same table, instead sitting at two tables that were very close to one another. The tables are fixed to the floor and cannot be moved together. I went to the Maitre D’ on the first day to see if we could be moved to a single large table for eleven, but he was unable to help us unless we wanted to switch to the late dinner seating (8:00). This was frustrating since there were other large groups sitting at single tables all around us, and it wasn’t clear why we got hosed. So the Maitre D’ didn’t get any tip from the OC Domer group at the end of the week. The menus for dinner were good, featuring many fine choices, but short on dishes that many of the kids in our group were very eager to eat. They tried different things, but were rarely truly happy with the offerings at dinner. The quality of the food in the dining room was uneven. “Good” most of the time but never “great.” I think it compares well with the dinner you might get at a wedding reception for 1,000 people or at a pretty decent college dining hall. A recurring theme was food that wasn’t hot.
Breakfast and lunch were buffet style on the
The slate of scheduled activities on the cruise seems to have been pared back from a typical Caribbean cruise, as the primary activity (even on days “at sea”) is sight-seeing, including looking out for whales and other wildlife. I did manage to bring home the trophy for winning the sports trivia contest, which almost made up for the money I lost in the poker and blackjack tournaments. The ship had a pretty good casino, although it is clear that the purpose of the casino is to generate revenue for Carnival, not provide entertainment for the passengers. Heck, even the BINGO games were giving out paltry prize money compared to the revenue they were generating from selling the cards.
As I alluded to above, I really compare the shipboard experience with spending an entire week at the Luxor Las Vegas. It’s very new and exciting for a few days, but by the end of the cruise you’ve seen all there is to see, you’ve eaten all the free ice cream you want, and you’re ready to get off.
Our itinerary consisted of a cruise along the inside passage, with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka, before crossing the Gulf of Alaska, entering Prince William Sound and spending several hours on the last day of the cruise in spectacular College Fjord. In my mind, I pair up
I mentioned above that a cruise ship is probably the best way to see
The towns are cute, but the fun begins when you get away from town and into the wilderness. The mountains, rivers, trees, and wildlife are the greatest show on earth, and the vast scale of the landscape is hard to comprehend. The only other place where I felt that the scale of the landscape was so intimidating was on a trip to the Canadian Rockies when we visited
The last day of the cruise featured a
But we opted instead to pick up rental cars at Avis (the only game in town – book ahead!) so that we could take a side trip to visit my wife’s cousin who lives with her family in
After seeing Soldotna we drove to
It was a great trip, and I’m so glad we all got the chance to see such a wonderful place. Although I didn’t take my camera kayaking, I did take it everywhere else. I took over 1,500 digital photos during our trip. I have culled through all of them and compiled by Best of Alaska 2008 slideshow which is embedded below. If you click on any of the pictures, it will take you to the online gallery where you can see larger versions of the images and flip through them faster (or slower) if you like. I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out, and I hope you enjoy them.
This post is way too long, but I really left a lot out. If you are interested in
Saturday, August 23, 2008
So the candidate for "change" brings us as his Vice-Presidential running mate the guy whose picture is in the dictionary under "Washington Establishment." Is Obama going to change his entire campaign message?
Barack Obama so loves himself that he chose as his running mate a higher-mileage version of ... Barack Obama. Both are guys who were elected to the Senate as young men with winning smiles and almost no real-world experience. Both are guys whose arrogance is only exceeded by their self-conceit.
I take that back - nothing exceeds Joe Biden's arrogance.
The "change" candidate - he's a uniter, not a divider - brings us a V.P. candidate who was protagonist in two of the most shameful and bitter partisan battles of our generation, the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.
The selection of Joe Biden by the Democrat nominee also tells us a lot about the Democrats as a party. A ticket comprised of two sitting United States Senators, two Washington insiders, tells us that Democrats truly believe that Washington D.C. is the center of the American universe and the seat of all political wisdom. Democrats believe that the answers to all our nation's problems must proceed from Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Not from Main Street, and certainly not from Wall Street.
The other problem with two U.S. Senators on a ticket (or in the White House) is that Senators are used to solving problems using the tools of the Senate. There's no problem that can't be fixed with a committee, a hearing, a speech, or a new law. Senators operate by committee. They debate, they deliberate, they vote. They don't decide, they don't lead, they don't take risks. They mull issues over, staff them to death, read position papers, and table them. Senators aren't the stuff great Presidents are made of. That's partly why so few Presidents have come directly out of the Senate.
In addition to all of the above, Joe Biden also brings his considerable personal baggage of plagiarism, dishonesty, and hubris. Links to a couple of good pieces on that here and here.
In picking Joe Biden as his choice for Vice-President, Barack Obama may well have just handed the November election to John McCain. By picking Biden, Obama completely undercuts his most persuasive credential - that he is a candidate for change, bringing a new kind of politics to Washington. That just looks silly now. His ticket is now just another product of the Democrat Party establishment in Washington. There's no cross-over appeal there.
In picking Biden, Obama also manages to validate the campaign of John McCain. Two of McCain's biggest vulnerabilities are the charges that he's too old and that he's too establishment. Well Biden is nearly as old as McCain and has even more time in Washington than McCain. As an added bonus, Biden is on the record having said in the past that McCain is the only guy on the Republican side who is qualified to be President, and he's also said that Obama is NOT ready to be President.
John McCain can seize this moment and blow this race wide open if he can tap as his Vice-Presidential choice someone who is not a creature of Washington politics and who can provide some cross-over appeal to wobbling Democrats. He needs someone who has some youthful vigor (relative to him), and some executive experience either in the business world or as a state governor. If his choice were a woman who could woo unhappy Hillary! voters, so much the better. About the only way McCain can screw this up is to select another old, white guy from Washington. This isn't John McCain's first rodeo. He won't screw it up.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Gene Upshaw, Hall of Fame left guard during the glory years of the Oakland Raiders, died late yesterday at the age of 63, just days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Growing up in Northern California, I was a Raiders fan in the era of John Madden, Kenny Stabler, Art Shell, and Gene Upshaw (among others). That was long before the Raiders had moved to Los Angeles, when the Raiders were very much blue collar, but hadn't yet picked up the gang-banger fans they acquired during their years in L.A. In those years the Raiders actually were the embodiment of the "Commitment to Excellence" for which they are generally mocked today, while the 49ers across the bay were an awful joke. Eventually the 49ers drafted Joe Montana and began their rise to glory, while the Raiders moved to Los Angeles, so my allegiance shifted to the Niners. But I will always remember the true grit of those Raiders, the physically imposing Upshaw and Shell leading the way for guys like Pete Banaszak and Mark Van Eeghen. Ken Stabler hobbling around on bad knees with seconds left in the game looking for Cliff Branch or Fred Biletnikoff.
Of course Upshaw went on to lead the NFL Players' Association for twenty-five years after he finished playing, and that's how he'll be remembered by many fans. But that's not how he'll be remembered by Raiders fans. For those of us who watched those great Raiders teams, Gene Upshaw will always be that guy battling in the trenches and covered in mud who defined what it means to be a "great" offensive lineman.
Here's a link to Upshaw's player profile at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and another to an L.A. Times article on his life.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So I fire up my e-mail this morning, and polluting my in-box is an "important message" from one of my USC buddies. The only thing in the e-mail is this link to a Forbes.com article naming the "The Best (And Worst) College Football Coaches For the Buck." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that USC's Pete Carroll is listed as one of the "underpaid" coaches, and Notre Dame's Charlie Weis is listed as one of the "overpaid" coaches. Of course, Forbes based its "determination" on Coach Weis' 10-year contract extension, "reportedly worth between $30 and $40 million over the length of the deal."
Here was my e-mail response to my buddy:
Steve,It pains me a little to link to Mike Rothstein's work at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, because he's an idiot sometimes and I've called him out for it here at OC Domer. But his reporting on the Weis salary issue is right on the money and needs to get more play in order to debunk the widespread misinformation that is out there about Coach Weis.
Forbes has been making fools of themselves lately, publishing a bunch of embarrassing sports-related articles. The one that got the biggest splash was their proclamation that Nick Saban is the "most powerful coach in sports."
Not Pete Carroll. Or Charlie Weis. Or Joe Pa. Or Coach K or Phil Jackson or Joe Torre. Nick "Total Failure in Miami who is a known Liar" Saban!
Thus, I take what Forbes has to say about college football not very seriously. The article you send is (1) yet another in a long line of cheap shots at CW, and (2) factually inaccurate. People have been wildly overestimating CW's salary ever since he signed his "Monster" contract extension. University tax records for 2007 showed that CW was paid just $598,000 in salary to coach the Irish football team. Incidentally, the University actually paid Ty Willingham $650,000 over the same period to NOT coach the Irish football team.
Yes, last year was tough. But at $500K Coach W is not overpaid.
[P.S., We still have a couple of spots open in the OC Domer fantasy football league. Drop me an e-mail (available through my "profile" link on the right) if you'd like to play.]
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Much like USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, the last thing Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson needs is an injury. Both quarterbacks have very talented back-ups eager to get on the field, and both are right to be concerned that if those back-ups ever get on the field it may be impossible to put them back on the sidelines.
Sanchez is re-habbing like mad from a dislocated kneecap in hopes of being behind center for the Trojans' opening game at Virginia. He doesn't want Mitch Mustain or Aaron Corp at the helm for a USC victory in Charlottesville, which would definitely put in doubt Sanchez' lock on the starting QB spot for the pivotal game against Ohio State (and the rest of the season).
Derek Anderson, on the verge of being cut from the Browns heading into regular season play last year, suddenly caught fire and his strong play in 2007 has so far kept Notre Dame star Brady Quinn on the bench. But Anderson suffered a concussion early in the second quarter of last night's pre-season game against the NY Giants, opening the door for Quinn.
Before leaving the game, the Browns had looked simply awful on both sides of the ball. Anderson completed 4 of 10 passes for 20 yards before being knocked out of the game.
Quinn took advantage of his opportunity, completing 7 of 12 passes for 124 yards and 1 TD. His passer rating on the night was 121.5. In the two pre-season games so far, Quinn is 20 of 29 for 257 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and a passer rating of 93.6.
Anderson through two pre-season games is 8 of 15 for 40 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, passer rating of 81.2.
The Browns, who trailed the Giants 30-3 less than a minute into the second quarter, responded well to Quinn and were eventually able to close the scoring gap to 37-34 by the end of the game.
The Browns will certainly downplay Anderson's injury. They'll say that BQ was playing against second teamers. But Brady clearly helped his cause last night, because the next time Anderson struggles to move the team, the Cleveland fans will remember this Monday Night Football performance and the calls for BQ will intensify.
Click on this link for video highlights of Brady's performance.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The OC Domer Fantasy Football League is ready to begin it's second season, and league commissioner OC Domer is preparing to defend his title as owner of last year's champion, the Tustin Vermin. Right now I have four or five confirmed teams from last season, and one new addition for this season. That leaves me with four or five slots for new players in order to run a ten-team league.
The league is set up at ESPN.com. I set it up as an auto-pick league, since there is no way I can coordinate a live draft for a group of ten random people who could be located anywhere in the world (even Poland!). I haven't set a firm draft time yet, but my tentative plan is to hold the draft right after this weekend's slate of pre-season games (maybe August 26th) so everyone will get a look at three weeks of pre-season action before draft day. Of course, with an auto-pick league you can make any adjustment you like to the default ESPN player rankings, which will allow the computer to draft your team based upon your preferences.
League scoring is tweaked a little bit from the traditional to suit my tastes, so be sure to take it into account when preparing for the draft.
If you played last year in the OC Domer league and want to do it again, or if you have just been looking for a league to play in with a bunch of newbies (myself included), send me an e-mail (my e-mail address is in my "profile" linked to the right) and I'll have one of the league invites sent to you. My only request is that if you are a member of the league you commit to managing your team in good faith for the full season. We had at least one guy last year who just packed it in halfway through the season and stopped managing his team, which screws it up for everyone.
(NOTE: If your first reaction to the above post is that I really MUST run a live draft instead of the auto-draft, then you are way too into it for this league!)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
When I was in school, I had a soft cover edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary with a tie-dyed, psychedelic 70's era cover. My kids use Dictionary.com. The Dictionary.com definition of nostalgia is: "A sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time." The 2008 Notre Dame football season is almost upon us, and we are accordingly seeing in the blogosphere the traditional precursors of every football season: Pre-season predictions. Reading this year's crop of predictions and forecasts brings to mind a few thoughts.
- First, I need to write my pre-season predictions post.
- Second, I need to get a life.
- Third (and the point of this post), I wonder how last year's crop of predictions held up?
To satisfy my curiosity, I set the Wayback Machine for August 2007 and went back to see how my favorite bloggers did in forecasting how the 2007 Notre Dame football season would unfold.
I'm not going to exempt myself from this exercise. I wrote two fairly detailed posts last season on how I thought the season would unfold. The first post looked at my general overall expectations of the team, the second looked at my expectations for the Irish on a game-by-game basis. Looking back at last year's pre-season posts, there was good news and bad news for OC Domer. The good news is that I did a pretty good job of identifying the fact that the team's fortunes would depend on improved offensive line play:
Which brings us to the offensive line. I think most Irish fans are in agreement that the play of the O-line last season was pretty underwhelming. How often did we see Brady Quinn making plays with defensive linemen or blitzing linebackers breathing down his neck or draped over his back? Far too often. How many times, on fourth-and-short, did Notre Dame run a QB sneak? If your best power running play in short yardage situations is the QB sneak, your O-line is not getting the job done. How many times did Darius Walker make a spectacular run in just getting back to the line of scrimmage rather than taking a three-yard loss?The bad news for my 2007 pre-season analysis is that I thought the O-line would get the job done. In my game-by-game analysis I had the Irish putting up another 10-win season (including the Bowl victory):
We don't have Brady Quinn at quarterback any more. We don't have Darius Walker, who could see disaster coming through the line and side-step it like a matador. We have three inexperienced quarterbacks who will need time to throw the ball. If they aren't given time, we will see interceptions, fumbles, and sacks. We have largely inexperienced running backs who will need actual holes to run through. If those holes aren't there, we'll see negative-yardage runs and fumbles in the backfield.
In short, Notre Dame's fortunes this year are riding on the offensive line. We have to be able to reliably run the ball for 4 yards or more on first and second downs. We can't be in third-and-long situations. Third and long means an all-out pass rush, with young running backs trying to pick up the blitzers, and a young QB throwing the ball down field to young receivers trying to find a soft spot in the nickel or dime zone defense. That is not a high percentage situation. We have to be able to mix pass and run as we choose to, not have it dictated to us by the down-and-distance situation. On short yardage, we don't want our young QBs running the sneak. We want to give the ball to TT, or Schwapp, or Aldridge, or Hughes and know that we can get two yards. Obviously, in the passing game, the QB will need more time to throw than Brady Quinn had last year. If the offensive line can control the line of scrimmage, if the Irish can run the ball with authority rather than finesse, then I think we can have a very good year.
But John Latina had better make sure his resume is current. Because if the O-line fails to produce this year, he will be next year's Rick Minter.
At 9 wins and 3 losses, the Irish don't get selected to go to a BCS Bowl, and instead get to play in a respectable bowl game against an opponent they can beat. Having solved our big-play problems on defense, and having healed up from the brutal first eight weeks of the schedule, Notre Dame handily wins it's first bowl game since New Year's Day of 1994. [...] With young but talented players all over the field, and with new defensive coordinator Corwin Brown, the Irish basically win the games they won and lose the games they lost in 2006 (UCLA being the exception). But we don't get blown out by anyone. We aren't a Top 5 program yet, but at 10-3 overall, we end up just outside the Top 10 in the final polls of the season. Entering 2008 we are a Top 10 team fighting to become an elite Top 5 program.Not to tip my hand too early, but my pre-season forecast posts for 2008 will likely be equally as absurd in their optimism as last year's posts.
How did everyone else do in August 2007?
- The crew at Blue-Gray Sky put their predictions in a handy chart for us. The most pessimistic prediction was for an 8-4 season, the most common prediction was 9-3, and a couple of contributors had the Irish at 10-2 and one at 11-1 (regular season).
- Blue-Gray Sky ran a pre-season reader poll that got over 2,000 responses (I'm not worthy!). Roughly 75% of respondents thought Notre Dame would win 9 or more games, with only 25% predicting 8 or fewer wins. Only about about 2.5% of voters expected 6 or fewer wins.
- Subway Domer had a computer crash last year that threw him off-stride for a while in August, but he was able to offer us his insights on the 2007 offensive line situation:
This will be a very physical line and as the line goes, so will our running and passing game. [...] John Latina wants a unit that is versatile and interchangeable, and finally with depth we may have that. [...] This unit may surprise a lot of "national" media outlets. On paper they have a small amount of total playing time, but will make up for it with a nastiness that was lacking from last years unit.
- Her Loyal Sons offered up a game-by-game breakdown of the season and concluded:
The regular season is wrapped, and ND has surprised the CFB world by pulling off an 8-4 season and a berth in a respectable bowl. More than anything, the team matured throughout the year, and with the incoming talent is poised to make a serious mark over the next 2 seasons. A national championship in ‘08-’09 isn’t out of the question, and everyone’s expecting one the following year. Based on his preseason comments, ESPN
donkeypundit Mark May votes Charlie Weis Coach of the Year, which he wins.
- Rakes of Mallow offered a very balanced, reasonably objective analysis that put the Irish on a 9-3 regular season. Only missed it by that much.
- The fellas at Section 29, Row 48, Seat 10 should be recognized for an outstanding 12-Day countdown to the 2007 season, highlighting 12 keys to Irish success. Their #1 concern was the battle in the trenches:
I hope you flip over your handle bars and knock your two front teeth in! You selfish son of a B&*&H!!! You're leaving me in the trenches, taking grenades John!!!
This quote from America's consummate Notre Dame fan, Vince Vaughn, neatly summarizes the one thing on which success hinges for the Irish - winning the battle in the trenches, and not merely from one side. It isn't only that the Irish front line defense, reduced to 3 in Corwin Brown's new scheme (Justin Brown, Trevor Laws, & Pat Kuntz) needs to succeed against great running backs over the first two months. Or that the Irish offensive line must break in three new starters and so quickly and without missing a beat in front of an inexperienced quarterback. Either of these things would prompt huge concern for the Irish coaching staff and become a point of emphasis. The fact that both are paramount at the same moment demonstrates why the battles along the trench line will make or break the Irish season.
- The Rock Report ran another fan survey, with over 3,000 responses, and used some fancy statistical analysis to come up with an overall "fan prediction" of an 8-4 season. As for the Rock himself, he predicted another BCS Bowl appearance for the Irish.
So, when you read a pre-season prediction, forecast, breakdown, analysis, etc..., remember how smart we all were last August and take them for what they're worth. But by all means, go ahead and read 'em. The blogs I mention above, as well as the non-probationary blogs listed to the right are all doing great work covering the Irish pre-season and getting the Notre Dame nation ready for kick-off.
Go Irish! Beat Aztecs!