Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kerry's True Lies

John Kerry insulted American troops when he told a group of California college students that they'd better continue their education or end up "stuck in Iraq." In this, Kerry betrayed a liberal bias I've heard MANY times from my own lefty pals around Berkeley -- that the military is predatory in luring poor, uneducated kids, especially blacks, into deadly jobs in combat units.

According to the conventional liberal worldview, no intelligent, civilized person would freely choose to serve in the armed forces. As such, the thinking goes, social and economic inequalities force some people into service that others can avoid thanks to their greater opportunities. Rich kids' parents send them off to college, which opens doors to more lucrative careers that do not involve carrying an M-16 into a Third World desert, jungle or village. The thing is, there is more truth to this logic than anyone wants to admit. It is human nature to avoid danger, and military service involves risk to one's life and limbs. True, many people who have other options still choose military service thanks to patriotism and a taste for adventure. And the fact is, the armed forces are overwhelmingly populated by people from the middle class, especially white suburbanites.

Still, there are disproportionate numbers of blacks in the military, and many openly admit they chose military careers because doing so gave them better prospects than they would have had otherwise. I myself, though always loving my country and yearning for adventure, signed up for the Air Force while still in high school because I thought college was out of reach, and I wanted more out of life than what my high school diploma was likely to provide. I've said many times that if anyone had taken an interest in my academic performance in high school, I'd have gone straight to college.

So there is plenty of truth to the idea that getting an education and moving up the economic ladder really does provide alternatives to military service. What is so insulting about Kerry's comments and liberal views of military service, however, is the condescending attitude about our troops' intelligence. Kerry and so many lefties are proud of their pointy heads packed with trivia, and they are confident of their superiority to the poor dolts on whose behalf they claim to impose their Nanny State controls and regulations. To them, we’re all too stupid to make rational choices for ourselves, so we need them to do all the hard thinking for us. Never mind that military service actually is a rational choice for a great many who are empowered to lift themselves up thanks to the career opportunities, training and college tuition assistance provided by the military. Forget about the G.I. Bill and veterans home loan programs that have enabled literally millions of Americans to advance socially and economically. Patriotism? That’s for suckers. At least that’s what liberals believe. That attitude makes the underlying truth of their premise utterly repellent.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Expect Cal to Fall (Unfairly) During Week Off

Few teams in college football’s Top 25 are regarded with such cynicism as the University of California. Several, in fact, are clearly overrated. The real tragedy, though, is that five one-loss teams currently ranked behind California will be playing this Saturday while the Golden Bears finally enjoy a well deserved off week. Unfortunately, Cal’s inactivity will almost certainly be punished. I expect at least three teams to leapfrog Cal in the rankings in the next week.

No. 13 Arkansas has an easy home game against Louisiana-Monroe. Aside from the big win against Auburn, Arkansas hasn’t been tested – or rather, they haven’t passed any test. Other wins have come against such schools as Southeast Missouri State, Utah State, Vandy and Ole Miss, none of whom are serious challengers. To be fair, the Razorbacks did beat a decent Alabama team, but were blown out by 36 against USC. Arkansas has a solid team that still has too many second- and third-tier opponents on their schedule to make them deserving of the move up they’ll enjoy this week. Later, though, with games against Tennessee and LSU, the Backs will likely fall.

No. 17 Wisconsin has been tested even less than Arkansas. Somehow the NCAA gods spared them match-ups with Ohio State or any strong school outside the Big 10. Their only test so far was a two touchdown loss to Michigan. Wins have been against non-powers Bowling Green, Western Illinois, San Diego State, and a few down Big 10 squads. Saturday, the Badgers should have their way against a lowly Illinois team and move up in the polls – quite undeservedly so.

No. 18 Boston College should trounce Buffalo this weekend. That school has managed only one win all year despite playing in the anemic Mid-American Conference. BC’s schedule looked like a pretty tough one at the beginning of the year, what with games against perennial powers like Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech. The latter three, however, have been unmasked as mediocre teams this year. Still, BC has been solid. A win over Buffalo will move them ahead of California, which isn’t fair by itself. But of all the teams poised to pass the Bears, BC is the most deserving of an uptick.

No. 22 Texas A&M should be able to handle 4-4 Baylor this Saturday, and A&M’s resulting 8-1 record might be enough to move the Aggies ahead of Cal in the rankings. Wins over The Citadel, Lafayette, Army and Louisiana Tech have padded the Aggies’ record, but don’t count on writers and coaches remembering that as they contemplate the traditional football school’s position relative to the newly strong Golden Bears. While Texas A&M could move ahead of Cal this week, their remaining games against OU, Nebraska and Texas should move A&M back down the chart by season’s end.

No. 23 Missouri has been a surprise winner this year, thanks in large part to an absurdly easy schedule against such teams as Murray State, New Mexico, Colorado and Ohio (not to be confused with the Buckeyes of Ohio State). Missouri lost its most serious test against the aforementioned Aggies two weeks ago. This week, they should be beaten by Oklahoma and kept from passing Cal. If the Tigers do manage an upset, though, they just might deserve a major move north in the rankings.

No. 24 Wake Forest should have a cake walk against the pathetic North Carolina Tarheels this Saturday, and just might move ahead of Cal as a result. Wake lost its toughest game against Clemson and beat nobodies such as Liberty, Duke, Syracuse, and Connecticut. If this were a basketball tourney, that record might be impressive. In college football, however, it would be an embarrassment not to win those games. It’s not hard to imagine the voters losing sight of this reality to move Wake Forest ahead of Cal, although I think that’s still not very likely thanks to the tendency of voters to track their picks.

Meanwhile, several highly touted teams are living off of their reputations this year. Take Notre Dame, for instance. I’ve always pulled for the Irish, but there’s no denying that this year’s squad is overrated. Not only did it take last minute heroics to beat a UCLA team weakened by the loss of its star quarterback, Ben Olson, but the Irish have also been lackluster against Georgia Tech, Michigan State and a feeble Stanford team that hasn’t managed a single win in eight games. Notre Dame's big test against Michigan was a humiliating 26-point loss. Meanwhile, the rest of Notre Dame’s schedule is set up to virtually guarantee victories – the Irish play all three military academies and North Carolina before finally playing USC to close out the season. Not a very intimidating schedule, but it will probably be enough to keep them ranked way higher than they deserve.

West Virginia and Louisville are unbeaten teams that between them have not played a single currently ranked opponent. They meet this week, so one will finally take a loss, but is likely to remain overrated since the loss will come at the hands of a still undefeated team. And this week’s face-off is the last real challenge for either team, so they are both likely to finish the season with gaudy stats inflated by weak opposition. The computers that tabulate one third of the BCS rankings at least recognize this. The fourth ranked Mountaineers are only 14th according to the computers, while No. 8 Louisville slipped a spot to No. 9 according to the computers. Since the issue of computer rankings has come up, it’s interesting to look at how the teams stack up when things like strength of schedule are taken into account:

1. Michigan (tie)
1. USC (tie)
3. Ohio State
4. Florida
5. California

Conspicuously missing from the Top 5 are West Virginia and Texas. Of course, NCAA football games are played on the field, so it makes sense to temper the rankings with human input. The computer results simply illustrate that teams like the Mountaineers and Longhorns have gotten a lot of wins the easy way – by scheduling patsies. Texas, of course, played Ohio State, but lost decisively. It picked up big wins against Sam Houston, Rice and North Texas – not exactly a murders’ row of college football teams. Their win against Nebraska last week counts for a lot, though. Unlike West Virginia, at least Texas has been tested, and passed at least once.

Still, you can count on Cal losing ground in the human rankings while they finally get their week off. The Pac-10 never gets any respect.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chicago Bears Reveal Weakness

Thank God for the Chicago Bears' defense and Devin Hester, because the team's offense and head coach are pathetic.

If you take away the 13 QB scrambles that count as rushes, the Bears have actually handed the ball off 171 times this year (28.5 carries per game). They passed 195 times (32.5 passes per game) -- more than 53 percent of all plays. And these numbers don't even come close to reflecting the true nature of our offense (pass first). A lot of our handoffs are coming in the second half when we've already built big leads and just want to kill the clock. Those carries are padding the total number of rushes and depressing the yards per carry since defenses recognize the clock-killing strategy, then respond.

Last night, the Bears handed it to a running back 13 times. Grossman flung it up for grabs 37 times. It was obvious all night that strategy wasn't working, but did Lovie Smith adjust? Of course not. He completely abandoned the run because his team is fundamentally a passing team, not a rushing team.

The Bears' pass-happy offense tries to imitate the "Greatest Show on Turf" that apparently seduced Lovie Smith when he was the defensive coordinator in St. Louis. The only problem is that we don't have the seasoned QB, not to mention money WRs like Holt and Bruce, to make that kind of all-or-nothing offense work consistently. We'll hit spots where Grossman plays like pre-season Rex, as he did against Minnesota and Arizona, and the Bears will be vulnerable.

Luckily, we face the Niners and Dolphins in our next two games, so there's margin for error. But we'll DEFINITELY lose to the Giants, Jets, and Patriots if pre-season Rex shows up again, or if Lovie Smith continues to insist on only running the ball if we have a comfortable lead. The guy should be a defensive coordinator. It's obvious the players like him, but he's turning the Bears into a one-dimensional, predictable offensive team that lives or dies on Grossman's streaky arm.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hey Blair, Fire General Dannatt

Britain’s top general, Sir Richard Dannatt, should be unceremoniously fired for his recent calls for the British troop evacuation from Iraq. While he has every right to his own opinion on the matter, and that opinion may even be proven correct over time (although I doubt it), as a military officer sworn to obey the commands of his civilian superiors, he must not be allowed to undermine the civilian government. At the end of that path lies tyranny and military dictatorship, which democracies have sought to prevent by strict prohibitions on political activity or speech by uniformed officers.

President Harry Truman was right to fire the great Douglas MacArthur when the general publicly opposed the president’s policies in Korea. Blair should take a page from Truman’s book and fire Dannatt now. Such a move will be widely criticized, just as it was when the unpopular Truman fired the wildly popular MacArthur. But democracies cannot allow military officers engage in political discourse. Even if a civilian government chooses to send its troops into a certain bloodbath in which huge numbers will die, such as the Allied amphibious landings at Normandy in 1944, generals cannot then second guess the decision in the press and expect to continue wearing their uniforms.

Mr. Dannatt (to Hell with noble titles like “Sir) is guilty of insubordination. Blair, already on his way out of government, should make sure the general leaves his official post as well. There is no place in a democracy for politicking military officers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

China Will Not Help

Is anyone really surprised that the People’s Republic of China today stymied the free world’s effort to levy UN sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Some in the media, of course, have been wildly speculating that China had finally had enough of its troublesome client’s bluster and brinkmanship. Since North Korea set off what it claims was an atomic bomb test Monday, the press has fallen all over itself to minimize the power of the explosion, and talking up the idea that China would now be more willing to cooperate with the United States and Japan to resolve the nuclear crisis.

Wishful thinking.

Instead, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao indicated that his country would not support sanctions. He relayed China’s position that the world should “express clearly to North Korea that ... the international community is opposed to this nuclear test,” as if Kim Jong Il’s confrontational regime had not previously been aware of such opposition. In fact, this is just the same old Chinese passive aggressive subversion of freedom that we should have come to recognize by now. Sure, the People’s Republic couches its language in the terminology of diplomacy, but the practical result of its unceasing support of the DPRK has been to sustain a murderous regime, menace South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, tie up American military assets, and prolong the crisis for as long as possible. This serves China’s strategic interests while it allows them to appear to the Third World as a non-interfering power that offers the best guarantee against Western bullying thanks to its Security Council veto. After all, as long as China sits on the Council, no two-bit tyrant need worry about the world body taking any serious action against him – assuming he has something to offer the Chinese, say oil, or in the case of North Korea, a well armed buffer against a liberal democracy.

Some people, particularly on the left, seem unaware that China and North Korea have been the very closest of allies for more than 50 years. China sent its own soldiers to fight and die on Korean soil when the UN forces threatened to wipe out the communist regime in 1950 and 1951. While the DPRK’s on-again-off –again intimacy with the Russians sometimes antagonized China, never has the People’s Republic cut off its Korean client. Too strong are the ties of blood shed together, not to mention lock-step political loyalty.

China will NEVER get tough on North Korea as long as its interests lie in preserving Kim’s regime. Only when the Chinese see that the rest of the world, particularly the United States, will no longer trade with China, and will prepare for war with China itself, will the Chinese even consider changing tactics. Until then, we are deluding ourselves if we believe they are partners in trying to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How to Handle Nuclear North Korea

As gratifying as it would be to simply bomb the DPRK into oblivion, we should:

1. Notify China that unless it can coerce the North to return to the Six Party Talks and reach a good faith deal to dismantle its nuke program the U.S. will consider the DPRK as an imminent threat to American security, and

2. Explain to China that we would then see no choice but to help Japan and Taiwan develop appopriate strategic weapons systems to counter the DPRK menace and

3. Demonstrate to China by our deployment of the Navy's 7th Fleet off the coast of Taiwan, as well as additional Naval and Air Force assets in Japan, that we are preparing for an all-out military confrontation with the DPRK as well as the physical defense of Taiwan, and

4. Urge China to continue its economic development with Most Favored Nation trading status with the United States, and

5. Encourage our South Korean allies to mobilize additional military reserves while making a very public spectacle of increased American operations exercises on the peninsula and

6. Send Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld to Tokyo to announce on TV that the U.S. will spare no expense and will not shrink from any sacrifice to defend Japan "and the other free peoples of East Asia" from communist aggression and

7. Immediately pass an emergency spending bill to purchase additional munitions and spare parts, particularly very heavy "bunker buster" bombs, and then finally, in a few weeks,

8. Notify North Korea that they have 24 hours to comply with UN resolutions or face the end of the Kim regime.

9. If these measures fail to achieve an enforceable agreement, we should commence the aforementioned bombing of the DPRK into oblivion, and if necessary, Red China as well.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Page Scandal Absurd

The media's recent obsession with former Rep. Mark Foley's sexually suggestive e-mails and instant messages to Congressional pages (all male teens) and their speculation about how the scandal may tilt the November elections, and possibly even cost House Speaker Dennis Hastert his leadership post, reveal appalling cynicism and hypocrisy. To hear some tell it, Foley is no better than a child molester. Give me a break. It appears Foley never actually acted out any of his fantasies. And while many relish the chance to refer to the pages as children, that is misleading. The pages are young, of course -- about the age at which the majority of Americans actually become sexually active. That's not to endorse teen sex or adult flirtations with teens, but Foley's electronic flirtations were not quite the acts of sexual perversion some now make them out to be.

One wonders what kinds of kinky things former President Bill Clinton might have said to the various women he bedded while married, how he might have used his position as governor of Arkansas or president to pressure subordinates into actual fornication. I expect he, like everyone else hot with sexual desire, said some pretty edgy stuff as hands, mouths and genitalia went to work. Who cares? Lots of Republicans made political hay of it. I've always thought it was a circus. And Dems who always agreed with me are now falling all over themselves to make Foley out to be some sort of pedophile. Worse, the idea that Hastert should lose his post because he never outted Foley is raw opportunism. I suspect we've all been privy to people's foibles, but tried to address them without making show trials out of them. Likely Hastert believed attention from the leadership would be enough to convince Foley to stop his flirtations. In any case, the left and their media henchmen now expect us to punish Hastert and the entire GOP for not having publicly crucified the gay flirt from Florida. Hypocrites!