Sunday, December 30, 2007

random hits

First of all, the Broncos season is over. (And there was much rejoicing) You know, I'm as big of a fan as anybody of Mike Shanahan, but if I may make two suggestions: a) a new defensive coordinator--one with AFC credentials, please, and one who could work with the bodies we have there. I am shocked that for the past several years we play as much non-man coverage as we do, given that we have a "shutdown" corner on one side (although I don't truly believe it's an accurate moniker for ANYBODY in the league) and a supposed all-pro on the other side. But what do I know?; and 2) a bigger, beefier front line on the O side. I know, I know, it's practically anathema to recommend such a thing, but I can't help thinking about this: even back when the B-men played decent run defense for part of the season (I'm talking about years past, of course), they wore out in the second half of the year. At some point, I gotta believe that's because our D-line was wearing down from the constant engagement with 325-lb linemen in the games when they were used to partial engagement with 295-lb linemen in practice. As far as theories go, it's as good as anything, right?

Next up: the caucus season is upon us, and primary season is up next. Not that I'm prescient about such things, but here's how I figure the next few weeks go: Romney wins in Iowa, Huckabee a close second and Thompson a not-close third. Then on the 8th in NH and the 15th in Michigan, Romney wins both, closely over McCain in NH and closely over Ru-dee in MI. By this time, Huckabee's campaign has taken on some serious water due to the fact their candidate is over his head. On the 19th, Fred keeps in the race with a good showing in SC (he picks up a lot of the Huck supporters who are looking for somebody new) while McCain takes NV in a close one over Ru-dy and Romney. Then Ru-dee and Romney split the last two pre-Super Tuesday primaries, Giuliani barely in FL over both Romney and Fred while Romney takes ME. And although I'll spare you the details, by the end of the first full week in February, we've got a 3 man race on our hands: Ru-dee (who, among other victories, takes NY and CA on the 5th), Romney (who takes UT, CO, and the North-central states and shows well in the big states on the 5th), and Fred (who sweeps everything south and east of OK, except maybe AR). And by the end of the first week in March (which covers contests in TX, OH, PA and VA) we'll have our nominee, which will largely be determined by who can lay best claim to the "momentum" title in the week following Super Tuesday (PA and VA are on the 12th).

What a fun 6 weeks it will be!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tragedy in Pakistan

What else can be said, except that today's events in Pakistan are a most unsettling development in a key strategic area.

And I can't help but think of one thing: Rufus Scrimgeour.

Yes, I know, fiction is a gross oversimplification of the complexities of real-life. . .but for some reason, today when I found out that Bhutto had been assassinated. . .I couldn't help but think of Scrimgeour.

Not so much because I think Bhutto plays Scrimgeour in this fantasy. . .but rather it has to do with the insidious nature of the enemy and how they set about to achieve their goals.

I don't know exactly why. . .I just know that the "nuclear secret" in Pakistan isn't resting as safely tonight as it was last night. And that should be cause for concern for all of us!

UPDATE: Clearly, the true "Scrimgeour" is Musharraf, who now looks extraordinarily vulnerable in Pakistan--and I don't mean politically. Let us hope he finds the courage to deal with the menace before him. . .Islamists with control of a nuclear country does not a happy combination make!

Monday, December 10, 2007

MORE quick hits. . .

at the plate: okay, maybe there is something to all this talk about a "blueprint" to beat the Pats. Actually, I'm going to prove that via a negative argument: if you don't shut down Randy Moss, you will lose to the Pats. Which of course doesn't mean that if you shut down Randy Moss that you will beat the Pats (witness the games against Philly and the Ravens)--it just means you've done step one of a 3-step process, which reads something like this: stop Moss; stop the rest of the receivers (Wes Welker is a particular thorn that needs to be dealt with), and then score some points. I find it ironic that, of all the teams in the league, I think my beloved but beleaguered Broncs would have as good a chance as any to knock off the Pats. Think of it: Bailey on Welker; Bly and Foxworth on Moss; and the other 8 do what they can to wreak havoc in the backfield. We'd at least have a chance--although that's definitely a week that fantasy owners would love to have Maroney on their team. Alas, I don't think there's any chance of this matchup coming to fruition this year.

on deck: at lunch today, one of my friends was "reviewing" American Gangster, which he saw over the weekend. He described Denzel Washington's character as "the bad guy", and Russell Crowe's character as "the hero". I chortled to myself when the following thought crossed my mind: I wonder if, in every corner of the country, that's how those two characters from that movie are described? The chortle turned to sadness when I answered my own question: no, that is NOT how the description would play out in every corner of the country; in fact, I'm not even willing to bet that such would be the conversation in a majority of the country. Sad, indeed.

in the hole: I'm starting to get concerned about Iowa. The more I see of Huckabee, the less impressed I am. Disclaimer: I'm a Fred guy. I know that he's been late to the ball literally every time, but that doesn't make me want to dance with him less (just disappointed is all--but I, like most conservatives, have been living with a whole lot of that for the last several years). But Huckabee is looking a little "comfortable" in Iowa, so I'm giving him more looks than I had up until a week ago. As I posted before: I don't like what I see. It's not just "accountability", either, although that is a tie-in to my biggest concern about him: I don't think this guy is ready for the main stage. His responses of late to the Dumond case and to his plan to improve our image in the world are just the tip of the iceberg; that I've heard, when he's not talking about his faith, he isn't saying anything I like. And I'm not ready to hand the nomination over to a guy like that OR a guy like Giuliani just yet--not that I wouldn't vote for either of them in the general, but I sure would like someone else on the ticket under the GOP banner. But I think it says something that IF the choice were between Hillary and Huckabee in 2008, I'd almost be more comfortable with the Dem candidate's foreign policy. . .at least how it is spoken so far. Ohhh, scary!

Which brings me to a pinch hitter: when, oh when, will a candidate stand up and say that the problem with the image of the US in the world isn't that they don't like us, it's that they don't respect us? Granted, it would be great if everybody "liked" us--but to be honest with you, I don't want to be friends with a good number of the countries out there. The voodoo dolls of yesteryear didn't make me lose sleep--but today, the baddies don't even feel a need to disguise their contempt for us anymore, and that has me concerned. If only one person would have the guts to answer a question about "how will you improve our international stature?" not with apologetics but rather with the following: "I think we keep being the leading country in the world on the side of freedom and respect of life, and wait for everyone else to catch up to us"--that man/woman would have my vote. I know, keep dreaming.

Clean-up: Such a tragedy in my home state of Colorado this weekend. Senseless carnage. . .nothing else but senseless. I find it SOOO WRONG that the heroine of the story had to have a gun on her while she went to worship that day. Thank heavens that she did, of course, but really--how wrong is that picture? Is this what we've become? I will closely watch for info on this murderer's past and wait and see if there were alarms that were missed and all the normal post-mortems, but thing I want you to keep in mind: today, in the wake of his ACTIONS, his MOTIVES hold no solace for those affected by the events. I wonder if--at some point in his past--if someone had placed a greater emphasis on dealing with his ACTIONS over trying to understand his MOTIVES, maybe this guy might have been put on a path that might have made yesterday play out differently in history. We'll never know for sure, of course. . .but I just wonder.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I don't like this very much. . .

In conservative circles, Gov. Huckabee's being caught unawares of the NIE regarding Iran at an on-the-record event a couple days ago has been one of the big items this week.

The other day, as reported on Jonathon Martin's blog, Huckabee had an opportunity to explain to Wolf Blitzer his ignorance on the topic the other night. This is what he said:

"There are going to be times out there on the campaign trail, Wolf — you've been on the trail, you know — that candidates are literally driven from one event to the next. And it would have been nice had someone been able to first say here's some things that are going on, that are taking place. That didn't happen. It's going to happen again."

You know, I can kinda understand his point--it probably is hectic as all heck on the campaign trail.

But I don't LIKE his answer for two reasons: a) it shows that his inner circle has a tin ear on late-breaking news (or maybe it's just on international news) ; and FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY b) this explanation lacks one very important element I look for in my leaders: accountability.

Seriously, "had someone been able to say". . .come on! So today, Governor, I ask you: who in your organization should have been that someone? Why didn't he/she tell you about it? Are they incompetent? Or are you just inaccessible to them? What have you done to remedy the problem?

Accountability in any organization has but one face, and in the Huckabee campaign that face is Gov. Huckabee. The problem isn't long days or a busy schedule, sir--the problem is either that your staff let you down in hearing the information (which looks really bad for a 21st century campaign) or that they let you down in informing you of the information (which shows--at best--a lack of understanding of the lofty world they now occupy). Or maybe YOU let THEM down, Governor. . .have we explored that possibility yet? What's more likely: that a staff person (likely a politics junkie) dedicating their life right now to promoting the chances of "their guy" didn't know about the contents or the possible ramifications of the NIE?; or that an aw-shucks candidate with little foreign policy gravitas heard an acronym that he didn't know in a 60-second data download between events and just failed to understand the implications? Sounds like a toss-up to me. . .

But that is a secondary concern to me. Again, I'm all about accountability: accepting Huckabee's infamous "someone" explanation at face value, how can a man running for the highest office in the world not have a staff around him that is as serious as the stakes? That's bad leadership. . .which, once exposed, must be remedied.

What has he done to remedy the situation?

To me, it would have been a lot better for the Governor to just say: hey, I failed to hear the information. Obviously I wish I would have been more prepared for the topic, but I wasn't. HOWEVER, I am know informed, so please ask me your questions.

But that isn't what he said. He instead tried to blame some faceless staff puke--how perfectly Clintonian of him!

Again, all I'm asking for is accountability. Is it really so hard? In my limited experience, I've found that if you are surrounded by good people, it's very easy to be held accountable because all the pratfalls are your own. And if the people around him really aren't that good. . .well, that doesn't exactly shine an encouraging light on our would-be Commander in Chief, does it?

How's the saying go: one finger out means 3 fingers back at you?

Monday, December 03, 2007

thoughts on this beautiful Monday

At the plate: boy, do I hate the BCS. Granted, it's better than the "old way"--but it is so far from ideal. The commissioners of the NCAA should be ashamed that at this point every year they're left reading from the same script, something along the lines of "we did as good as we could and we're happy with how it turned out". Newsflash: the fans of the game--the casual fans like me who don't really have a horse in the game since CU can't play defense--they aren't happy (and I'm not even going to address some of the fans that had a vested interest in this year's debacle, like Missouri and Georgia). Championships should be decided on the field, and should have very very little to do with computers and sports writers. How the NCAA keeps blowing this year in and year out. . .well, I'll tell you one thing: it's educational. Rarely is such blatant corporate greed on display for all to see. Take that, college athletic "purists".

On deck: the "blueprint" to beat the Patriots. I've heard a lot of talk this week of how the Eagles near-miss last week provided a "blueprint" on how to compete with the Pats--and I'm left wanting. Blueprint? How about a good aggressive D with a solid, run-oriented offense that has the ability to go vertical every once in a while--which isn't a blueprint as much as it is EVERY COACH'S DESIRE! I'm watching the MNF game right now (by the way, is there any better booth guy than Jaworski?), and it's tied 17-17 going into the 4th quarter. Wow, two straight weeks in a row that the Pats have been played tight by teams not exactly having their best seasons--maybe the Pats are fallible after all? Ummm, no. While I'm not ready to write them in for 19-0, I am going to say that they are easily the best team in football. That famous "blueprint" resulted in the Pats scoring ONLY 31 points--and that's not normally a recipe for success. In fact, I don't recall hearing Andy Reid singing praises from on-high becuase the Pats "only" dropped a 30-spot on his Eagles. . .in Philadelphia. . .on primetime TV. But I digress: certainly, there are teams out there that can put up points on the Pat D (the Ravens just scored another TD. 24 points--by the RAVENS!), but I'm willing to bet come playoff time there isn't going to be a lot of scoring for New England's opponents. In other words, it is still New England's Super Bowl to lose. Of course, last year it was San Diego's Super Bowl to lose. . .and they did. I can hope, right? (UPDATE: Game just ended, 27-24 in favor of the Pats. Again, close. . .but not enough)

In the hole: the NIE. A lot of political talk today about the National Intelligence Estimate released to the public. Listen, it comes down to this: we still don't KNOW squat. The intelligence gurus will say that as recently as 2003 the Iranians were involved in nuclear weapon development, but that in 2003 they stopped that development for some period of time--some UNDETERMINED period of mind (although the NIE does say with moderate confidence that the program hadn't been restarted as of the middle of 2007).

But here's the kicker: the intelligence world is only slightly more confident (moderate-to-high) that the mullahs don't CURRENTLY have a nuclear weapon than they are confident (moderate) that the program that would produce that weapon hasn't restarted as of the middle of this year--you know, a good 6 months ago or so.

And keep in mind: just one nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranian government would be disastrous.

And please keep this in mind: this is all from an intelligence community that was exposed as. . .ummm. . ."wanting" as recently as 4 years ago. You know, the same time period that they think the mullahs stopped working their nuclear weapons program.

I'd think caution is the more prudent course of action here.

Cleanup: the dynamics of Iowa certainly have changed recently, eh? Let me just say this: Romney's scheduled "Mormon speech" is getting a lot of play so far this week, and I believe the consensus is that it is an act of desperation. I'm not going to go that far--in fact, I'm going to say it's an act of someone who wants to keep his plan afloat. Listen, Huckabee is appealing to Iowa pollsters for only one reason: he wears his faith on his sleeve. He isn't conservative fiscally; he doesn't have an organization to envy in the state; I mean, what has he offered? I'll tell you what--he isn't a slick operator. And that means something to midwestern folks. Romney is so polished that even his most passionate moments seem somewhat disingenuous. So I can understand the caucus-goer that is undersold on Romney right now, and I think the best way for Romney to get them back is to try to appeal to them through the faith channel. I don't think it's a ploy, mind you--Romney is genuine in his faith. In fact, if he's like most Mormons I know, he's at his most "real" when he is discussing his faith and what it means to him.

I'm pretty sure that Romney would've been happy to never go down this road--but here he is, rounding in on the final lap before the key caucus date (key to his campaign, at least), and he needs to do something to make sure all his hard work pays off.

How ironic that Romney might be getting punished for being such a good politician.