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…

Don’t Worry

I did not have this affect me. To be quite frank, I don’t twitter anyway and probably won’t in the foreseeable future. I do have a Facebook page, but I’m pretty much never on it during the day. Apparently, the whole episode is related to global politics. In a perverse way, I suppose this could be a clever way to silence dissent. Of course, I hope web security continues to improve so nothing like this happens again for a while. It will eventually, in my view. Just like steroids in sports, it’s hard to stay one step ahead of the people who are concocting whatever schemes we try to stop.

Anyway, the real reason I was away from the blog for most of the week is that I have been interviewing for potential new work opportunities- right now I only do some limited part-time stuff, so I am looking for a bit more steady work. Outside of that, I try to mix in blogging and hard work finding those job advertisements. We’ll see how that all shakes out going forward. I do have one strong possibility I will be mulling over during the coming weekend (possibly out here) Since the unemployment rate dropped slightly, I guess things can only get better than, at least the markets think so. Quite a few economists and/or pundits, however, think otherwise, and at the moment, they’re probably right. Even the President seems to acknowledge that the rate is probably going to head up unless either a lot more people stop trying to work, job cuts suddenly stop for one reason or another, or something else happens to confound current projections.

Whatever. It’s Friday, so we’ll cut the gloom for a couple of days at least! Enjoy Yankees-Red Sox instead.

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.

Obama News Conference Thoughts

I missed the first 15 minutes or so because of dinner. It wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that some kitchen construction is ongoing at home, so I don’t have access to a TV while I eat like I have had in the past.

And it doesn’t really seem like I missed that much either before or after I tuned in. President Obama said some interesting things about paying for healthcare reform, as well as his belief that deficit reduction is contingent on healthcare reform, and even that a millionaire’s tax might be help pay the freight. What I wish I heard was something about what exactly he envisions in health reform. About all I think we got was a sense that he wants a system where doctors and people make decisions- not insurance companies or government bureaucrats- and that’s really not something anyone debates. Also, he likes the idea of healthcare mirroring noted hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, which apparently have policies in place to provide top-notch care for less cost than you might expect. Plus, he’s for a public option because he believes it would keep private ensurers honest (as do quite a few Democrats in Congress). Not much on how it would achieve that goal though, although we did get a hint that it might legitimately offer similar benefits to what federal government employees can receive (including the President and members of Congress). Could the federal government really deliver on that? Could subsidies be restricted so that private competitors aren’t driven out of business?

Even without much of his own vision, I think the President would have been more effective if he’d commented on some of the things which are actually going through Congress right now. In fact, so does at least one Democratic aide in Congress. He could still say that he is open-minded on what’s out there, but we’d all have a better sense of parameters.

Just my take. But the exceptionally perceptive Chris Cillizza couldn’t find much to draw from the President’s remarks besides the idea that “The country has major problems that everyone has a stake in.” It’s also clear that it’s not going to happen before the August recess. Fellow WaPo reporter Alec MacGillis finds that despite pledges that no sacrifices would be needed in President Obama’s remarks, many healthcare experts say that reform will require some very tough decisions even after implementation.

Here are the President’s words in full.

Michael Maslansky, a noted communications/research strategist, says his friend sees an interesting comparison between Obama with healthcare and Bush with Iraq. Decide for yourself.

Three Fish Limit finds a piece from Forbes by Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution and Stanford University Medical Center which claims rationing is among the only ways for a government to cut healthcare costs. Plus, innovation would ultimately be stifled. Instead, he suggests empowering the consumer with money and choice- which he really should have fleshed out a bit more. Another blogger also thinks some unsavory elements of reform aren’t being discussed.

On the other hand, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub finds a piece defending the value of universal coverage- including the public option- namely, when you actually need it.

Plenty of other stuff out there in the blogosphere on this hot button issue.

Monday Morning Links

Let’s start with some props to this guy, who legitimately won the 2009 Open Championship on the links of Turnberry by making some putts down the stretch, including a non-gimme on the 72nd hole of regulation. Then, he made a good par save on the first playoff hole and from there played nearly flawless golf. Take nothing away from how well Tom Watson played this week, don’t let a bogey on his last hole, followed by an ugly display in the playoff, fool you into think his carriage turned into a pumpkin. Mark Herrmann agrees, as did Rick Reilly in his closing essay on the ESPN telecast. If it’s any consolation to Watson, he took a big leap in the latest World Golf Rankings. Stewart Cink, meanwhile, has a career-altering victory which validates his consistently excellent play on Tour– something his relative lack of wins might have hidden for a while. By the way, check out Cink’s photos on the twitter feed I linked to, which includes the photo seen in today’s first post. Plenty of commenters already, while the family and fans back in Georgia are quite proud too. As Mark Bradley indicates, hopefully we will all appreciate Cink’s accomplishment eventually, rather than just dwell on what might have been for Watson.

Elsewhere in sports, we find some Roy Halladay trade rumors. This store caught fire leading up to the All Star Game when the Blue Jays indicated that they’d consider a deal if they were blown away by an offer. Doesn’t look like anything’s too close though. The Orioles also may deal some veterans, but are being pretty coy about it to try and drive up the price. The Brewers did make a move, getting Felipe Lopez from Arizona for a couple of minor leaguers. He should immediately become the second baseman, and might also be their leadoff hitter. They still need more pitching, however, to keep pace with the Cardinals and Cubs in the NL Central.

In other news…

Man walked on the Moon 40 years ago tomorrow, and HowStuffWorks posted a film commemorating the legendary Apollo 11 and its journey. Newsday has a photo gallery, as do other media outlets. I’m sure there is or will be even more content out there. The astronauts themselves say that Mars needs to be our next mission. They’ll be at the White House today. Kind of ironic that this anniversary occurs just after Walter Cronkite’s death. Cronkite was quite an admirer of space exploration. He was a giant of journalism, and we will all miss him.

Speaking of the White House, I’m going to try and get back to posting some political stuff- legitimately fair and balanced, of course. Mike Allen has some other tidbits on today in Washington, including a state visit from India’s Prime Minister in November. Also, the healthcare issue is still vexing, and the President has plenty of critics who smell blood. The public polling numbers, to the extent they will actually influence Congress, are not on President Obama’s side. Not sure if I think Bobby Jindal offers many alternative solutions to those which likely would be in any eventual reform. Naturally, President Obama intends to fight back. But can he really get the Senate’s Finance Committee to put a bill on the table this week, as Jake Tapper reports? Deliberative is probably a better approach here. The government gets one chance to do this even close to correctly.

Various other political perspectives, on the left, right, and in the middle, can be found through links here and here.

Happy 100 Days!

Graphic Source: Slate

Mr. President. By no means is he doing a perfect job. For all we know, some of his actions to deal with the recession, wars, and the rest could end up failing down the road, both in policy and in cost. Other presidents in the past have had bold ideas, put together staffs/cabinets which sounded great in theory… only to see the whole thing fall apart. Lyndon Johnson’s administration comes to mind because of Vietnam (and JFK also had some missteps on foreign policy with many of the same advisors).

But I do think we can be happy about at least one thing today- especially because it seems unlikely to go away anytime soon. Competence is but the least of Obama’s good traits, which collectively are now back in power after too many years away. Long may that continue!

(Also, long live my ability to pick basketball games more accurately than he can!)

Graphic Source: Delaware Online

Just a Typical NY Weekend

Yankee Stadium opens up and plays like a bandbox every day. Is it the weather, bad pitching, an actual product of the design? We’ll find out soon enough, but it’s definitely not something anyone saw coming. Listen, it looks really nice, but home-run havens can be tough to win a lot of games in. Took the Astros and Phillies a few seasons before they were in the playoffs after moving into their bandboxes, while Colorado got there in 1995 but not again until after they added a humidor to Coors Field.

On the field, a four-game split between the Indians and Yankees isn’t bad either way- although both teams will hate the manner in which their losses occurred- because they each definitely have talent (as I noted in the preseason predictions), and I won’t be completely shocked if they meet in October, although let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Especially when the Yankees have to figure out Chien-Ming Wang and their middle relief first- and fast– while Cleveland has to make sure Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona are really up to the job. Luckily for them, nobody’s running off with the AL East or Central so far (I haven’t really seen enough from Toronto yet, though if Ricky Romero pitches anywhere close to as well as he did on Sunday, it would sure help them win games not started by Roy Halladay). I saw the Posada home run as it happened and then the numerous replays and just couldn’t tell what the right call should be, so the umpires probably got it right simply by leaving it as made on the field.

Oh, and about that weather. We could not have asked for a nicer Saturday and Sunday around here. Everything the meterologists hyped it up to be. Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of a hypocrite here, because I hate big snow storms as I’ve said here before, but I do enjoy a day turning out even warmer and sunnier than expected! Plus, great to see some friends from school on Friday night in the city- some of whom I hadn’t in several months.


Rangers are 2-0 after they blanked the Caps on Saturday (see above). Lundqvist stood tall again. Yes, he’s good. No, I didn’t expect him or them to win two games in Washington and play as strong a defensive game as they did in the second one. Mark Herrmann was a little surprised too. Still have to finish the job, and to that end, Game 3 at MSG will be huge on Monday night. Elsewhere, looks like Boston, Detroit, and Vancouver each have a foot in the next round. Didn’t think Anaheim would match the Rangers and win two on the road though. They’re arguably a better team, but were playing San Jose, who racked up the most points of anyone during the regular season and lost five times in regulation at home. I still expect that San Jose and Calgary, who is down 2-0 to Chicago but going back home for Games 3 and 4, will not go quietly into the night.

Don’t worry, at least a few more posts over the next several days.