Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hardly a death knell

With a straight party line vote (60-39, with Ohio Republican George Voinovich not voting), the U.S. Senate opted to begin debate on health care reform. There was chatter that two Democrat Senators (Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas) would vote "no", thus falling short of the sixty votes required for cloture. That in and of itself is somewhat encouraging that there was a struggle just to begin debate.

The thing worth noting is that Senator Lincoln has gone on the record as saying she will not vote yes on any measure (whether it be cloture to end debate or a health care bill itself) which includes a public option. Don't think her feet won't be held to the fire over that claim.

I wonder if opening debate on such an abomination is necessarily a bad thing. If the public attains even more insight from attempted health care reform, I have to believe doubts would start to creep in to the minds of even more constituents. There could be an uprising similar to 2-1/2 years ago when the Senate tried to push through a potentially disastrous immigration bill.

Either way, health care reform still has quite a ways to go. But the letters and phone calls to our Senators need to continue in earnest!


Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Chilly in Minnesota

For a few weeks now, Vikings coach Brad Childress was rumored to be on the verge of signing a contract extension with the club. Now it has come to fruition.

(Childress) was rewarded with an extension that will keep him with the franchise through the 2013 season. ESPN reported the deal is believed to be for between $4 million and $5 million per year and an NFL source said the new agreement will supersede Childress' previous contract, meaning he will get an immediate raise.

It's hard to argue with the progress the Vikings have made season-to-season under Childress. Despite winning only six games in Chilly's debut season of 2006, the Vikings improved to eight victories in 2007 and then claimed their first division title in eight seasons when they went 10-6 last year. However, the "Fire Childress" movement was in full force after a first round playoff exit at home against the Philadelphia Eagles last January.

The prevailing wisdom seemed to be that 2009 (the fourth season of Chilly's initial 5-year deal) was the coach's "make or break" season. The thought was the Vikings needed to win a minimum of one playoff game in order for Childress to be renewed. With that in mind, Chilly and Co. went all out in attempting to secure the one position that had been the biggest question mark -- quarterback. With the New York Jets releasing Brett Favre this past Spring, it seemed a forgone conclusion that Favre would end up in Minnesota after having surgery on his throwing arm in May. Despite the February trade for QB Sage Rosenfels, the Favre watch was in earnest once the Summer rolled around. And even though Favre announced in late July that he would stay retired, it was believed that the persistence of Childress is what convinced Favre to overcome his objections and eventually become a Minnesota Viking. With the impact Favre has had on this team, Vikings ownership felt that signing alone warranted an extension for the coach.

From a personal standpoint, I was pretty lukewarm on the Childress regime for the first 1-1/2 seasons. Besides, I figured it would take at least 2-3 years for a brand new coach to put his personal stamp on a team. But Chilly actually won me over in mid-2007. Despite a phenomenal season by rookie Adrian Peterson, the Vikings were a mere 3-5 when they traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. Fresh of a single-game record 296 yards rushing against the Chargers, Peterson took a shot to the knee and was knocked out of the Vikes' 34-0 loss to Green Bay. With the Vikings 3-6 and seemingly without their top offensive weapon for an indefinite period, many declared the team a non-factor the rest of the way. However, Childress did not panic. With the same business-like approach he had employed from day one, Chilly guided the Vikings to a five-game win streak (with A.P. available in only three of those games) and to the brink of a playoff berth. Despite missing the postseason, I was impressed with the way the Vikings overcame such adversity in midseason.

So do I endorse the move to extend Childress? Yes. But I would have been more comfortable waiting to see if the Vikings could win a meaningful game in January.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's a matter of priorities

With the pending release of Sarah Palin's book Going Rogue, the mainstream media decided to do some "fact checking". As such, the Associated Press dispatched several reporters to decipher the factual basis of a book written by a failed Vice Presidential candidate who no longer holds any official position in politics.

In the end, the AP contends that the former governor of Alaska may have fudged on some things, like Palin's claims of frugality when conducting state business. However, the AP's exhaustive research uncovered one instance where a five-day trip to a women's leadership conference cost the Alaskan taxpayers (GASP) $3,000!!


Say, now that you're done with that all-important, vital piece of "fact-checking", I suggest taking on a much more daunting (if not infinitely more relevant) task: How about reading the entire 1,900+ page health care bill which recently passed in the U.S. House? Any chance you could uphold the claims made by Nancy Pelosi & Co. that this abomination bill wouldn't threaten the financial sovereignty of our country? How about the proclamation that Americans will not face steep fines for not enrolling in government-run health insurance? And lastly, the emphatic denials by liberals that a bunch of government bureaucrats would be given the purview of deciding the amount of health care sickly people would receive.

Get back to us on that, will ya?


Friday, November 13, 2009

Tark the shark

When Brett Favre was once again considering coming out of retirement earlier this year, Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton sounded off. In short, Sir Francis was less than complimentary.

“I think it’s despicable. What he put the Packers through last year was not good. Here’s an organization that was loyal to him for 17, 18 years, provided stability of organization, provided players. It just wasn’t about Brett Favre. In this day and time, we have glorified the Brett Favre’s of the world so much, they think it’s about them."

Shortly after Tarkenton made those comments, KFAN radio guy Dan Barreiro pointed out that Tark implying that someone is self-absorbed was the equivalent of Michael Vick condemning a person for smacking a dog with a newspaper.

But I digress.

Now that Tark has had to digest a little crow due to Favre's solid performance thus far this season, Sir Francis has taken to savaging another NFC North quarterback. This time it's the Bears' Jay Cutler who is the object of his ire.

"I really question whether he can play," Tarkenton, the Hall of Fame quarterback and former Minnesota Viking, said Friday on "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "Quarterbacks need to make their team better. If it's a bad team, they can even make a bad team better. Somebody may say well, even Peyton Manning couldn't help the Bears. Yes, he could. Tom Brady could, too. They might not win the championship or get to the playoffs, but they would make that team better. Those wide receivers who are struggling would be better because they would make them better."

Has Fran gotten bored? I mean, he's more than welcome to sound off on any subject he desires. But ever since he had the opportunity to grope co-star with Cathy Lee Crosby on the 80s TV Show That's Incredible!, Fran seemed to back away from anything related to football, until recently. What's brought him out of hiding? Has Tony Robbins cut him off completely?


Saturday, November 07, 2009

House passes healthcare bill

As the House cheered passage of "Obamacare" (220-215), all I could think of was the line uttered by the character Padme in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith:

So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.

Ah, but the fight will rage on. The bill still has to get through committee in the Senate. And if it does, there are enough Democrat Senators who would not vote to end a filibuster.

Yeah, I'm pretty grumpy right but not enough to give up the fight. NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sometimes "Conservative Republican" can be an oxymoron

It was an off-year election on Tuesday, but oh how sweet it was! Republican candidates Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie emerged victorious in their respective gubernatorial races.

But what I found curious was the e-mail I received Wednesday from Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee (emphasis mine).

On behalf of the leadership of the Republican National Committee, I want to thank you for helping our Party earn historic victories in Virginia and New Jersey yesterday.

Your steadfast commitment to our conservative Republican principles and your generous support of the RNC's 2009 campaign programs enabled us to provide all our GOP candidates with the resources they needed to run strong right through Election Day.

With all due respect Mr. Chairman, do we need to remind you of your stance regarding the race in New York's 23rd Congressional district?

"I support the Republican nominee as the Republican Party chairman, and that’s the way it should go, right?"

But what if the Republican candidate in said race wasn't the most conservative? It was painfully obvious that the GOP candidate in NY-23, Dede Scozzafava, was not a conservative. Heck, she was to the left of Democrat Bill Owens on fiscal issues (she was pro-stimulus and pro-"Cash for Clunkers") as well as being pro-abortion. Hence many conservatives supported the Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

Chairman Steele went on to say in his e-mail that this is just the beginning of getting more Republicans elected as well as stopping "the Democrats' radical leftist agenda." I ask again: exactly how will that be accomplished by throwing support behind candidates like Scozzafava? If indeed the RNC's goal is to push a conservative agenda, there may be a rare occasion where that can only be attained by going outside the Republican party. Given his brief tenure as RNC chair, that seems to be a concept that Steele is unwilling to embrace. So this off-year election should also serve as a caveat to the RNC: Now more than ever, conservative candidates will get the most traction on the GOP ticket.