Straight Out of the Onion?

And it turns out that people flocked to my blog right before that Favreapalooza on Monday night. Go figure. But I’ll take the page hits!

Anyway, my current work schedule, has somewhat kept me from posting. Well, that and not having timely material for when I would otherwise have put up a new entry. But, let’s see if the upcoming weeks and months are a bit friendlier towards regular updates.

This morning’s events finally forced me to post. I’m absolutely stunned, just like the President was when he found out, and frankly most of the press too. The Nobel Committee’s reasoning is fair enough, including a comparison to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1980 (before glasnost really took hold), and Fareed Zakaria seems to think along the same lines (‘America rejoining the world’).

I guess most people assume that the prize is a lifetime achievement award. That has always been what I was led to believe, too. Plenty of joke fodder already, some on the right, and of course quite a bit of it is absurd hyperbole, but even Obama surely knows that he has to go earn this with his and our country’s actions in the next few years. If not, you can be sure this “rockstar” theme is going to come up again in 2012, just like it did after his tour of Europe in 2008.

Even non-conservatives might be concerned about this development. It could have both positive and negative implications for Obama’s policy-making efforts, particularly on foreign policy. Chris Cilliza expands on this and some of my other points.

Hey, it makes for a nice wake-up call though, if you can get it. Enjoy the award, Mr. President, I’m not going to say you need to turn it down by any means. But as you said in your press conference today, don’t dare let this award get to your head. There is a lot of work to be done, and everyone will be watching you more closely than before (if that’s actually possible).

The fun begins withi figuring out what to do in Afghanistan. And then reconciling Congress and the nation on healthcare (no disrespect to Sen. Tom Harkin, but try to minimize the government’s direct involvement) without actually using reconciliation. Oh, and don’t forget the “Es”- economy, environment, and education…

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On Michael Vick

I’m turning over somewhat of a new leaf. Trying to go to sleep earlier most nights so that I improve my productivity during the day. Yes, that includes the quality of this blog. At least, I hope so.

Apparently, the Philadelphia Eagles and especially the man pictured below are convinced that Michael Vick will too. Obviously, his would be on a far different level from my own, but sports and hyperbole are almost like peanut butter and jelly. Vick’s now back in the NFL, and potentially for more money than most seemed to expect he (and/or his creditors) would get.

Image Courtesy of Delaware County Times

Image Courtesy of Delaware County Times

Image Courtesy of the Express-Times (Lehigh Valley)

Image Courtesy of the Express-Times (Lehigh Valley)

It seems like the players are thrilled to have him, despite all of the protests and media circus fun that you know are coming. Even Donovan McNabb apparently is okay with this. I disagree with the venerable Bob Glauber’s piece in Newsday though. McNabb won’t be worried about Vick threatening his job, because if he stays healthy, this isn’t a contest. Donovan McNabb is just flat-out a better quarterback and will be the starter. Vick will probably be involved in a lot of trick plays or some variation of the wildcat. But Glauber and SI‘s Peter King are correct about Philadelphia’s organizational stability being a plus for Vick. If he doesn’t stay in line, he’ll be out the door, plain and simple. And Yahoo! Sports makes an interesting point about how the problems Andy Reid went through with his kids’ a few years ago could have influenced his decision. Of course, he will frame this as no more than bringing in a veteran backup.

What do I think? I say, the guy did his time for a heinous act (as judged by the legal system), so if the NFL and Tony Dungy think Vick is on the way to cleaning up his life, I see nothing wrong with the Eagles finding out if this is true, and if Vick can be an asset to their football team. They won’t let him become a clubhouse cancer, so the risk is virtually nil in my view. Fans won’t give up their tickets- even if Eagles fans weren’t known for their loyalty.

Gonna check out a live blog of Vick’s press conference now. Back later with my thoughts on it.

Friday Links

No, I’m not hitting the golf course today. Can’t remember the last time I actually did pick up clubs and try to play (emphasis on “try,” of course). But maybe a haircut or trip to the gym…?

So here goes…

Rick Klein’s daily Note with everything you need to know from the Capital and beyond.

Yesterday’s news that the Senate won’t finish up its healthcare debate before a scheduled recess will apparently trigger a multimillion dollar interest group war in the weeks to come. Lovely. Get the popcorn ready! Or youtube…

Cillizza also thinks that despite Republicans still have an uphill climb as far as gaining seats in the Senate next year, even though President Obama has clearly taken some hits lately and his party will most likely lose some seats in the House (especially in districts which voted for John McCain last year). On the other hand, the GOP may find it easier to hold some of the seats that conventional wisdom held might be tough ones because of all the swing-states which Obama won or narrowly lost last year (especially Ohio, Florida, and Missouri).

The President hasn’t given up hope on a speedy resolution to healthcare (and he insists he won’t be ‘broken’), as he’ll meet with two very important senators today. Probably won’t be able to goad either Max Baucus or Harry Reid that much, the Senate tends to do things in its own sweet time, and was, after all, designed to be a deliberative, federalist body. At least President Obama can still bask in the glow of Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, and DeWayne Wise’s spectacular catch to preserve it. Buehrle was actually on the mound for a little over 30 minutes, and didn’t need more than 3 minutes for any one hitter. Amazing.

Apparently, New York does not have a monopoly on corruption and greed at the local levels of government. You only have to cross the Hudson River for evidence

California’s budget crisis is getting closer to resolution. It’s not going to be pretty for anyone.

The federal minimum wage officially goes up to $7.25 per hour today (states are allowed to set higher minimums if they wish). For workers in a few states, the increase could be worth $1,400 or more over the next 12 months- which could really help with paying debts or stimulating local economies-, but some economists worry that it could kill jobs for businesses lacking strong profit margins. I don’t think the wage has gone up so much in recent years that it’s going to be a huge problem yet. But we should keep an eye on the small businesses most affected by minimum wage laws, because they do provide a lot of jobs when put together.

This won’t happen, but I think it would be nice for cooling off our political discourse and providing voters with competitive elections.

Michael Phelps returns to action this weekend. What can he possibly do for an encore? In fact, it might really be a second encore considering he took home quite a few medals in the 2004 Athens games.

Michael Vick may also be back soon, but he will apparently face a suspension to start the new NFL season. Oh, and he has to find a team. Obviously, Vick hopes that a definite decision on his future will lead one or more teams to show real interest.

Roger Federer now has twins to go along with all of his trophies. At least one oddsmaker is already taking bets on whether or not his daughters will win tennis majors.

Nike is no longer trying to suppress videos of LeBron getting dunked on. Not that what we saw turned out to be much of a big deal. Nor is it really that big a deal that he apparently tried marijuana while in high school.

Cristiano Ronaldo Sold

For $131.6 million (not including the large salary he will eventually sign for). AKA “play money.”

Real Madrid already spent another princely sum on Kaka this week, kicking off a new “Galacticos” era over there as they try to swiftly dethrone Barcelona, who just swept aside all before them in Spain (and Europe). They may still need some more defenders though, as goal scoring wasn’t their biggest achilles heel to begin with!

Ronaldo had long indicated a desire to leave. Now, he has his wish. He will be very difficult to replace at Manchester United, yet, as the linked news report noted, his relationship with players and coaches was fraying. And given that he was bought for a fraction of this transfer fee six years ago, it’s certainly terrific business. Even more so considering how much prize money he’s helped Man U claim, and, on a slightly cynical side, the millions of dollars in loans which the Glazer family (no relation to me) has to pay off on their purchase of the team. Players like Franck Ribery and Antonio Valencia will be linked with a move to Old Trafford, but could prove very overpriced in the wake of this deal. But perhaps there is someone already at United who could step in? We have seen that scenario before, with academy graduates like Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and David Beckham replacing the likes of Gary Pallister, Mark Hughes, or Eric Cantona. This blogger is not the only United fan who clearly trusts Sir Alex Ferguson’s judgment on which players can be dispensed with.

As an Arsenal fan, no I don’t think it is a godsend for us. United may drop a little, but probably more in Europe than in domestic soccer. We had better focus on our own needs if we want to crash the title party next year for Man U/Liverpool (who themselves may still need upgrades and a cash injection to that end)/Chelsea. Signing Thomas Vermaelen, if it goes through, sounds like a good start to steady the defense (William Gallas is probably gone, but unlike the linked blogger, I’m not sure he did that well for us). After that, we need another forward since Adebayor clearly wants to leave, and perhaps a new goalie since I am not a huge believer in Manuel Almunia, while Lukasz Fabianski seems a somewhat questionable long-term prospect.

A wild summer of soccer transfers has probably only just begun!

A Day at the Races

Somewhat on the spur of the moment this past Saturday, I decided to make the short trip to Belmont Park for this year’s Stakes Day. Actually, it wasn’t so short after a couple of train changes, and going home, I got a small taste of the dreaded “Change at Jamaica” in trying to make the necessary connections. But no big deal, a small price to pay for having a good time and not having to fight traffic on the local roads.

Belmont is a bit of a throwback to an earlier time in sports. The general admission charge was $10 (less for most days of the meet, more for reserved seats and the Clubhouse) and there are obvious signs of aging in the main building. Still, it’s certainly a more than functional venue. Once inside, you have license to walk around most of the place, except the track, barns, and seating areas. Basically, I went to place bets with the help of muddy-old television screens, a program, or the Daily Racing Form which could be purchased. A little instinct and luck helps too. You can also go to the track’s backyard, where fans scarf down food and drinks- unfortunately for modern-era prices- and watch for horses to take the ceremonial march to the track. After that, they either queue along the front stretch for a view of the race (and during the Stakes itself, the crowd was several people deep) or watch from benches inside. Either way, you have to watch most of the race off a TV since you can’t see much of the track unless you’re in one of those premium reserved seats/boxes higher up. When the horses arrive “down the stretch,” man do people scream, hoping to cash in big. In an era of all-seat stadiums (or at least benched bleachers) with direct views of the playing field, horse racing is a taste of what it might have been like to watch outside the ropes at old-time baseball parks, which sometimes were literally all that separated fans from the outfield or foul territory.

Belmont Park Finish Line

How did my wagering fare? Not so well. There was one consolation prize. I managed to get close enough to the winner’s circle during the Belmont Stakes to see Summer Bird cross the line and then get someone else to take a few pictures of the celebration. Oh, and I was just about face-to-face with the Governor, in a cheerful mood on this occasion, as he shook hands and autographed programs for everyone who could get close to him. Hey, with the specter of a tough reelection campaign and maybe even a party primary next year, who could blame him for trying to work the crowd a bit. Of course, he wasn’t so jovial after yesterday’s chaos… What a mess in Albany. No leadership, no ideas, and not much else to write home about either.

David Paterson at the Belmont Stakes

Good way to spend a perfect summer afternoon. Next time though, I seriously gotta do more homework on the horses so I can actually win money!

Belmont Stakes Winner's Circle

One of a Kind

Yosemite Sam: This town ain’t big enough fer the two of us!
Bugs Bunny: It ain’t?
Yosemite Sam: No it ain’t!
Bugs Bunny: I’ll fix that.
[Builds a bigger city]
Bugs Bunny: Now is it big enough?
Yosemite Sam: No, still not big enough!

more famous quotes

Source: Great-Quotes.com, scroll down to “Bugs Bunny Rides Again” (1948).

Somebody’s apparently trying to emulate the Danimal on this Beer Lodge thread. Doing a horrible job of it too. There’s only one Danimal- at least in this corner of the world- and he ain’t it. Hence the video below, as it could describe me and this blog as well… okay, maybe I’m not that arrogant… or remotely as successful as “Le Boss” of the mighty Arsenal.

Happy Passover and Easter for those celebrating it! Adam Dobrowolski makes a good point about how our holiday sports entertainment takes the players away from their families. We should always appreciate that sacrifice, regardless of their salaries.

Day Old, But…

You must be joking.

Probably not the type of audience she was expecting.

Probably not the type of audience she was expecting.

While I don’t have an issue with Rep. Cantor or anyone else in Congress not watching Obama’s press conference– I did watch and thought he did alright, but also recognize that not too much of substance came out- I just can’t see what someone like him would be doing at a Britney Spears concert. Certainly can’t imagine he’d be accomplishing too much business with clients with the loud music and crowd screaming. Taking one of his children would be a bit different, but we haven’t heard any indication that he did that either.

Since one of his staffers made a comparison to President Obama (and in theory, others in both parties) enjoying a night at Washington’s Verizon Center, I will say that seeing a basketball game or certain other singers/bands seems socially acceptable for someone like members of Congress or the President. Britney? It would take pretty unusual circumstances…

Honestly, I really don’t think it’s “being cool” in this case. It just gives me the creeps, especially coming from one of the leaders of a party which talks a lot about traditional social values (and I’m not a liberal on some of those culture wars).

End tangent, back to more enjoyable matters.

Update: CNN posts an explanation from Cantor.