Monthly Archives: December 2007

Income in America

It’s been awhile since my last note, partly because I’m on vacation. I’m sleeping in late and more or less ignoring the news. But this story on income caught my eye.

The article notes that the combined income of the top 1% or earners in America from 2003-2005 exceeded the combined income of the bottom 20% of Americans.

If you listen to all the Democratic Presidential candidates, they all have plans to increase the taxes for the rich. They veil these theories under the cover of “fairness” but these plans are no more than income redistribution schemes. Remember two things:

  1. Income is earned, not distributed
  2. The rich keep getting richer because they keep doing whatever it took to make them rich. Ditto for the poor.

Yes, the rich have the ability to help those less fortunate than themselves. If they choose. But the government shouldn’t require people to help others simply because they’re able to. The solution is really quite simple (aside from the FairTax). I don’t own my own private jet because I can’t afford it. And if you’re stinkin’ poor, don’t pop out five or even one kid that you can’t afford.

The concentration of income at the top is not a problem in the United States. Liberals (and poor people) would like you to believe it is, but it’s not. Poor people are a problem for America. Lazy people are a problem for America. But people earning respectable incomes are NOT a problem for America.

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The George Mitchell Report

It’s a sad day for baseball. The anticipated Mitchell Report was released today, and the backlash has been immense. Seventy-six current or former players were named in the report as players that had used steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. Some were innocuous players that I’ve never heard of and others were high-profile and Hall of Fame caliber players.

Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne, Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and David Justice were some of the bigger names mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

Now, what is my take on the report? Well, I’ve got a couple.

First, when Bud Selig hired Senator George Mitchell to do this report, I did my research on Mitchell. I found that he was a respected and upstanding US Senator. I also found out that he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox had no current players named in the Mitchell report. I’m not saying that he intentionally ignored Boston players and catered to their front office, but I’m also not ruling it out. Why Selig couldn’t find an arbitrary source to conduct this report is beyond me.

Second, this report accomplishes nothing that will be beneficial for Major League Baseball. All the report has is circumstantial evidence. 85% of the information in the report was provided to Mitchell and his cronies by Kirk Radomski, a former clubhouse employee of the New York Mets. He was facing a ton of jail time for the illegal distribution of PEDs (not all to MLB players) and cut a deal with Mitchell to reduce his time if he talked.

Eduardo Perez said it best: “Proof is testing positive.”

And the report has none of those. No positive tests, no record of positive tests and no hard evidence that any of these players did anything more than cut checks to clubhouse employees. All the evidence that Mitchell has is eyewitness testimony. Which, as anyone even remotely versed in basic law knows is the least reliable form of evidence. So basically nothing we didn’t know already. There’s not much in there that proves anything. It’s a fancy compilation of stuff we’ve already heard. As I expected, the report accomplished nothing of any significance. It also didn’t have anything on anyone since 2004. It just pissed a lot of people off.

So what did we learn?

The era of good feeling is over: MLB and the MLBPA have been quite chummy for a few years now. The last collective bargaining agreement was fairly painless and they’ve cooperated on various issues, most notably the World Baseball Classic. The Mitchell Report could change that. The MLBPA got tossed under the bus for a lot of this and Bud Selig didn’t.

Lawyer up: Every team is putting out sanitized statements now. You’re going to hear a lot of “we have to move on” from all parties involved.

Roger retired: Roger Clemens will not be stringing any teams along come May or June for another inflated contract. He really battled his body and age last year and won’t want to fight those issues again, now with this whole steroid thing.

It wasn’t worth it: Take a look at the list of players. Most are either bums or guys who ended up becoming injured. And these are guys busted for using performance enhancing drugs? Andy Pettitte supposedly took HGH to help rehab his elbow. He had surgery anyway. At some point, even baseball players have to be smart enough to realize that the short-terms gains are not worth the long-term implications.

Thanks for the ethics: A list of names was going around the internet this morning that proved to be inaccurate. Incredibly, some web sites published it. I hope this teaches them a lesson in confirming news before publishing it. Names like Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were included on these lists. And there name doesn’t appear anywhere in the 311 (plus appendixes) pages of the Mitchell Report. I know, I looked.

Finally: To me, the Mitchell Report was as useful as Carl Pavano was to the Yankees. Most of the names were ones we have heard before, there weren’t any new names. If the Senator did not have the forced cooperation of Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee, he would have had almost nothing. The names revealed were basically of those players stupid enough to write checks to a lug like Radomski. Know this much: There are dozens of players breathing a sigh of relief today that they didn’t get caught. If they get scared straight, good. But MLB should invest its money in more frequent and effective tests. That’s the only way this ends. Telling us Chuck Knoblauch did something wrong seven years ago is meaningless. Telling us Ken Caminiti did steroids is useless. First, he admitted it and second, he’s dead. I expect a 15-game suspension for him to come down any day now.

Nothing that the Mitchell report covered is new, and none of it is anything MLB or the MLBPA can use today. The report did nothing to help baseball’s steroid problem. It enhanced a bunch of negative feelings and made Bud Selig look like an even bigger idiot than he did when he ended the 2002 All-Star Game in a tie.

The evidence against these players is shaky at best, and its credibility and validity must, and eventually will be called into question. MLB just spent $20+ million to find out what I could have pulled off of Google for free.

College Football Playoff System

No one seems able to decide on a playoffs system that works. A “plus-one” system doesn’t include enough teams. A 16-team field is too much. A playoff system devalues the regular season. So here’s what I propose. An eight-team field, and here’s who you include:

  • The Pac 10 Champion
  • The Big 10 Champion
  • The Big 12 Champion
  • The SEC Champion
  • The Big East Champion
  • The ACC Champion

That gives you six teams for an eight team field. You need two more teams so here’s where they’ll come from – The 2 highest ranked teams from this pool of remaining teams:

  • The Big 12 runner-up
  • The SEC runner-up
  • The ACC runner-up
  • The highest ranked champion of a non-BCS conference

The teams above would include #6 Missouri, #16 Tennessee, #14 Boston College and #10 Hawaii. The two highest ranked teams from that are #6 Missouri and #10 Hawaii. They’re slotted in at 7 and 8.

Why this way? I’m a firm believer that the entirety of your schedule should mean something? Why is a team that lost early better than one that lost late? Why should a team that didn’t win anything of importance in the regular season be given a chance at the end of the year? Also, this system rewards the conferences that choose to play an extra game. So here’s how our little bracket shapes up for this year.

1) Ohio State – Big 10 Champion, #1 BCS
2) LSU – SEC Champion, #2 SEC
3) Virginia Tech – ACC Champion, #3 BCS
4) Oklahoma – Big 12 Champion, #4 BCS
5) USC – Pac 10 Champion, #7 BCS
6) West Virginia – Big East Champion, #9 BCS
7) Missouri – Big 12 runner-up, #6 BCS
8) Hawaii – WAC Champion, #10 BCS

So our bracket would look like this.

1) Ohio State – Big 10 Champion, #1 BCS
8) Hawaii – WAC Champion, #10 BCS

I’ll take Ohio State in this one. Their defense hasn’t been scored much upon this year and they probably have the depth to cover all of Hawaii’s receivers. Hawaii doesn’t run the ball, so the linebackers and defensive line will have a field day on Colt Brennan.

  • Ohio State 34, Hawaii 17

2) LSU – SEC Champion, #2 SEC
7) Missouri – Big 12 runner-up, #6 BCS

There’s a reason LSU won the toughest conference in football. And there’s a reason they’ll win this game. Missouri can probably play with anyone at home, but this game’s in Baton Rouge, and the Tigers of the Louisiana persuasion will convert a fourth down or two near the end to win.

  • LSU 38, Mizzou 34

3) Virginia Tech – ACC Champion, #3 BCS
6) West Virginia – Big East Champion, #9 BCS

The least attractive game of my little bracket here. Two teams that I think are grossly overrated match up in Blacksburg. Both have pretty good defenses this year, and I’d be more inclined to pick VT, but WVU hasn’t lost with Pat White, and he’d be healthy by this game. WVU by a nose.

  • West Virginia 28, Virginia Tech 27

4) Oklahoma – Big 12 Champion, #4 BCS
5) USC – Pac 10 Champion, #7 BCS

A matchup of the two hottest teams in the country. Oklahoma’s coming off a win over the #1 team in the country and USC closed with four straight blowout wins. But if a team loses at home to Stanford, they’ll probably lose on the road in Norman. Oklahoma in a surprising defensive game.

  • Oklahoma 24, USC 20

So we’re through round one and into round two with good matchups on both sides of the bracket.

1) Ohio State – Big 10 Champion, #1 BCS
4) Oklahoma – Big 12 Champion, #4 BCS

I like this game a lot. Both teams run the ball frequently and effectively, but I think that Sam Bradford trumps Todd Boeckman in the end and Oklahoma pulls away with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns.

  • Oklahoma 31, Ohio State 17

2) LSU – SEC Champion, #2 SEC
6) West Virginia – Big East Champion, #9 BCS

Not as good a matchup as the first game, but still plenty of playmakers to keep me watching. West Virginia keeps it close for most of the game but just can’t put LSU away.

  • LSU 35, West Virginia 28

Which gives us the Championship game of LSU and Oklahoma.

2) LSU – SEC Champion, #2 SEC
4) Oklahoma – Big 12 Champion, #4 BCS

A tough, physical game including these two teams probably takes longer than 60 minutes to decide. LSU comes out early to take a lead, only to see Oklahoma go ahead late and then allow LSU a late touchdown to force overtime. In an end only fitting to LSU’s season, Oklahoma wins in triple overtime, winning the National Championship and keeping LSU unbeaten in regulation.

  • Oklahoma 53, LSU 51

This way, you don’t elongate the bowl season, you make sure the deserving teams get in and you validate a team’s regular season performance. You also get seven high-capital bowls rather than 5.

Let’s Talk About Guns

It’s upsetting that it takes these shootings to make me talk about guns, but it’s a sad truth. As many of you probably saw, a deranged 19-year old loser killed eight innocent people at a mall in Omaha, Nebraska.

Afterward this event (and other similar occurrences in the past) I was talking with a certain someone (who shall remain nameless) about the fact that these shootings could have possibly been avoided or curbed if citizens were allowed to carry concealed weapons. No, this person said, that would just lead to more shootings, and anyways, this guy had an assault rifle and your little person would have had a handgun. Advantage, assault rifle. But that’s not always the case.

Consider the fact that these shooters are often times rather untrained with their guns and are simply shooting just to shoot people. Someone with a concealed handgun (and license) would be a responsible, sane person that is trained to handle a gun. Take a look at this incident. Some moron went into the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and shot two people, with obvious intent to kill more, until he encountered Jeanne Assam. She had heard the shooting and ran where it had come from. She saw Murray with the rifle and immediately she shot him dead with her handgun. Where was that advantage again? One shot from the handgun took out the assault-rifle wielding incompetent.

This person also tried to convince me that the crossfire would endanger more people that just one crazed gunman. Yeah, because that would be my first thought if I was in a place that a gunman was shooting up … ‘Thank God no one else here has a gun to stop this guy.”

I’m not advocating that we put guns in the hands of every American, because that would be clearly stupid. But making it harder for people to obtain guns, and then allowing those responsible and qualified people carry them around concealed would probably make our country a little safer from mentally deranged idiots that think they’ve been wronged.

Today’s Idiot: CAIR

Many of you may not know what CAIR is. And that’s fine. It’s another one of those pointless organizations like ACLU or PETA. CAIR stands for Council on American-Islamic Relations. It’s main focus is to “enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice and empower American Muslims.” They’re basically Islamic Al Sharptons with Al Qaeda ties.

What CAIR does best is complain about how negatively Muslims are treated and portrayed in America. They blow smoke to America about the exorbitant amount of hate crimes made towards Muslims to make themselves feel important.

Let me talk for a moment about “hate” crimes. The only difference between a hate crime and a crime is the assailants’ process of thought. It’s gotta be directed at a group or ethnicity. To me, a crime is a crime. Criminals generally don’t commit crimes against people that they like. Apparently it’s impossible for a white male to hate another white male.

Back to CAIR. Read this article on hate crimes. CAIR would have us to believe that hate crimes against Muslims in America are higher than any other race or ethnicity, and they have repeatedly taken this stand. However, CAIR officials apparently can’t read English statistics.

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In 2006, 66% of religiously motivated attacks were on Jews. Just 11% targeted Muslims. But keep in mind that the Muslim population and Jewish population pretty much the same size. Last year there were 156 anti-Islamic crimes, which is nearly a 70% drop from 2001. There were nearly as many “hate” crimes against Christians in America than there were against Muslims.

But these number are skewed even further. CAIR includes the following crimes as “hate” crimes against their people:
-A Quran being found in a toilet
-Flowers at a mosque disturbed
Naming a teddy bear “Mohammed

Should Hispanics naming their children Jesus be offensive to me? It isn’t, because I’m not an idiot.

So while CAIR claims that prejudice against Muslims has multiplied because of the war on terror … remember what CAIR considers “hate.”

Wait .. we already know. “Hate,” to CAIR, “hate” is a United States not operating under Islamic Law.

BCS Strength of Schedule

The announcement of the BCS bowl games got me to thinking. Does strength of schedule play any real part in determining the BCS assignments? After some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that no, they do not. The following are the schedule strengths for the BCS teams, and others that could have made a case.

#1 Ohio State: 75th
#2 LSU: 57th
#3 Virginia Tech: 52nd
#4 Oklahoma: 66th
#5 Georgia: 44th
#6 Missouri: 38th
#7 USC: 61st
#8 Kansas: 106th
#9 West Virginia: 60th
#10 Hawaii: 119th
#11 Arizona State: 58th
#12 Florida: 41st
#13 Illinois: 54th

Each rating is out of 119 Division I teams. Some notes I made:

  • Of the top 13 teams, the team with the toughest schedule was not invited to a BCS bowl game.
  • Mizzou had just the same amount of wins as 5 BCS teams, more wins than 4 BCS teams, and less wins than 1 BCS team. And a tougher schedule than each and every one of them.
  • Ohio State’s schedule was not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It’s still the third worst of the top 13 teams, but not by a huge amount.
  • Hawaii played the nation’s worst schedule. The worst.
  • Anyone that tries to make a case for Hawaii to be in the national championship game is thicker than Mark Mangino’s neck. There are probably 25-30 teams that could run the table playing Hawaii’s schedule. Hawaii might have well played 12 high school football teams.
  • Everyone pushes the SEC as the toughest conference, and it may as well be the toughest conference, but Mizzou has the statistically toughest schedule of any contenders, SEC or otherwise.
  • The toughest schedule went to Duke, an ACC team…go figure.

These are the official BCS rankings. The rankings go from 1 to -1, with 0 being a fairly even schedule, 1 being playing all undefeated teams on the road and -1 being playing a schedule of winless teams at home. Duke had the toughest schedule at 0.410 and Hawaii had the softest schedule at -0.475. Hawaii’s schedule rating was 0.097 lower than the 118th rated team (Boise State).

BCS: Buncha Crummy Selections

BCS Championship Game: #1 Ohio State vs. #2 LSU
Orange Bowl: #6 Virginia Tech vs. #9 Kansas
Sugar Bowl: #10 Hawaii vs. #5 Georgia
Fiesta Bowl: #3 Oklahoma vs. #9 West Virginia
Rose Bowl: #4 Southern Cal vs. #13 Illinois

Those are the matchups, incorrect as they may be.

Rose Bowl: This game is going to be a joke. Illinois is an improving team, but only got the nod because the people in Pasadena care more about their parade and tradition than the actual game. Illinois is team number 1 that Missouri beat that’s in the BCS. Southern Cal is arguably the hottest team right now and will laugh up and down the field.

  • Nate’s Prediction: USC 45, Illinois 14
  • Nate’s Selection: USC vs. Ohio State

Orange Bowl: Kansas in a BCS bowl game over Missouri is insane. First off, Missouri beat Kansas on the road. Second, Missour played the nations 38th toughest schedule while Kansas floated along on the nations 106th toughest schedule. And both teams finished with 11 wins. Apparently the tie-breaker in NCAA is now losing to the team you’re up against. In that case, I nominate Duke for the this game. They lost to everybody.

  • Nate’s Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Kansas 21
  • Nate’s Selection: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia

Sugar Bowl: Any team that goes undefeated should be in a BCS bowl. And Hawaii did that. But it’s in the wrong one. Bowl games serve to create the most-wanted matchups. UGA-Hawaii has nothing. Hawaii hasn’t really played anyone and Georgia’s best win is over a three-loss team. They lost AT HOME to a 6-6 South Carolina team and were blown out by Tennessee. Oh yeah, and there’s the whole “didn’t even win their own division, let alone conference” thing.

  • Nate’s Prediction: Georgia 40, Hawaii 28
  • Nate’s Selection: UGA vs. Missouri

Fiesta Bowl: Remember last year’s Fiesta Bowl? Undefeated and underrated WAC team against a premiere program. Sound familiar? It doesn’t, but it should. OU’s going to roll West Virginia, but the best game here would be Hawaii and Ohio State or Oklahoma. But since they’re both taken in my predictions, and the Pac-10 doesn’t deserve a second team and the Big 12 and SEC already have two teams (dumb rule) I’ll go Illinois here. Hook and Lateral, Statue of Liberty and a wedding proposal. It doesn’t get much better than that, and the BCS doesn’t seem to want to try.

  • Nate’s Prediction: Oklahoma 52, West Virginia 21
  • Nate’s Selection: Illinois vs. Hawaii

National Championship Game: Change “LSU” to “Florida” and you have an identical championship matchup as 2007. Bob Stoops is right. Knocking off the #1 team by three touchdowns on a neutral site earns you a right to play for the national championship. Beating Youngstown State and Akron does not. The top two Big 12 teams this year got hosed.

  • Nate’s Prediction: LSU 41, Ohio State 14
  • Nate’s Selection: LSU vs. Oklahoma

Biggest Winners: Kansas, Ohio State and Illinois
Kansas and Ohio State benefitted from cakewalk schedules while Illinois lucked out that the Pasadena crew favors Pac-10/Big 10 matchups over better games.

Biggest Losers
Definitely Missouri. Missouri is the only team in the nation that has played three BCS bowl teams and the only team that has beaten two BCS bowl teams. Their BCS rating is higher than three teams playing in BCS bowls and they didn’t lose to an unranked team. LSU, OSU, UGA, Oklahoma, USC, Illinois and West Virginia can’t say that.

—————–

I’ve never been a proponent of a playoff system, but there’s never been a college football season quite like this one. Mizzou’s ranked higher in the BCS than 5 teams that were awarded BCS berths. I’m fairly certain that that’s never happened before.

Today’s Idiot: The Country of Scotland

About six months ago, if you flew into any Scottish airport, you would be greeted by signs with the Official Slogan of Scotland: The Best Small Country in the World.

That’s a very nice and quaint slogan, and it’s very fitting for the country. But the government decided that it was time for a new, updated slogan. And a few days ago, after $250,000 and six months of developing, they finally settled on a new slogan. The new slogan?

Welcome to Scotland.

$250,000 to come up with the slogan “Welcome to Scotland.” Absolute genius. Welcome to Today’s Idiot, Scottish government.

Today’s Idiot: The City of Denver, Colorado

Ahh … diversity. It’s a problem that has plagued America for a while now. Denver is forcing all of its employees to watch a diversity training video. That alone should be enough to make people mad. But some in Denver are saying that it does what we typically see these “diversity” workshops do … portray white people as inherently racist simply because they are white.

Diversity education can take on one of two forms. One is anti-individualism. The left is waging a full-scale war against individualism. Individual rights are bad. Collective rights are good. Individual achievement is bad. Collective achievement is good. When diversity is the issue you are categorizing and judging people not by their individuality, but by their group identity.

The other form of diversity education is the selling of the idea that white guys are bad, everybody else is good. That would seem to be the case in the Denver case.

The employees in Denver are now being required to watch a movie and I’ve found some of it on the Internet, here. Now, the movie is entitled “Laughing Matters – Think About It” but a more appropriate title would be “White Men Are All Horrible Racists and Bad People.”

It’s not racist to portray white men in a negative light, but to portray any other race or gender in a negative way is. All minorities, remember, are worthy of praise. White men aren’t.

The city is taking a typical approach to fixing the stupidity of making this video mandatory … Wait ’til next year!!! Who does Denver think they are, the Chicago Cubs?

Diversity is really a double-standard. I’m forced to watch videos that supposedly promote perfect equality and fairness, yet while doing so completely trash an entire race.

The main character in the movie is a white guy named Billy. He makes all these racist comments towards people and then the negative effects from his comments are outlined. At the end of the video, someone says “Remember, Billy could be anyone.”

Then why not depict Billy as a Hispanic man, a black woman or a muslim child?

This video is a bunch of bull concocted by some female “Diversity Manager” (and what kind of job is that, anyways?) that serves the solitary purpose as further enhancing stereotypes that white men are horrible, racist pigs. Believe me, there are plenty of white males that fit that description, but there are plenty of offensive minorities in this country as well.

“I can insult you, but you can’t touch me because I’m not white, haha!” The war cry for minorities in America!

Today’s Idiot: Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson is the current governor of New Mexico and a Democratic Presidential candidate. He’s not really a serious candidate, but he’ll probably hook on with Hillary as her Vice-President.

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He gave a doozy of an interview on the war in Iraq. I generally tend to avoid the war in Iraq because a) it’s a touchy subject for just about anyone with half a political mind, and b) I really don’t know how I feel about the war anymore. So I try and avoid talking about it. But Bill doesn’t.

His main point is that the decreasing deaths and casualties in Iraq basically means nothing. That it shouldn’t be called “progress” in Iraq. I don’t know where or why he came up with this ridiculous conclusion…maybe because it would make George W. Bush look good. And we know that that should never happen.

All the Democrats could talk about for the past few years were the number of deaths in Iraq. Now, with violence at a low, this is all changing. Richardson said that “Progress shouldn’t be measured by casualty counts, body counts.” This guy says that real progress can only be achieved by one thing and one thing only: withdrawing from Iraq.

Did you get all that or should I review? Apparently we shouldn’t measure progress in terms of less violence, more peace, more commerce, more electricity, more water, more telephones and a steadily improving standard of living for Iraqis. You only define progress by counting the numbers of American troops leaving the country.

Way to go Bill. You’re another prime example that the Democratic mind is often less logical that a coke-sniffing squirrel.