Sunday, May 31, 2009

NBA Finals Nostalgia

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With the NBA playoffs looming, I can't help but be a little nostalgic for the league's glory days when the Chicago Bulls were unbeatable and Michael Jordan reigned supreme. (Now that I've dated myself, please feel free to mock me).

While this year's match up between the LA Lakers and the Orlando Magic lacks some of the 'umph' of match ups past, the presence of the Lakers adds a dash of stardom that a Denver/Cleveland match up would utterly lack. Who would actually tune in to watch Denver and Clevaland slug it out - even if LeBron James is supposed to have an ego that could match Kobe Bryant's? As the wise owl says, the world may never know...

Anyway, for the similarly disenchanted, here's a reply of that classic Chicago Bulls starting line-up animation from the series 1997 against the Utah Jazz. Jordan and Pippen v. Stockton and Malone. It did not, and has not gotten any better than this.

Enjoy!



Via Daily Thunder

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Turns Out Susan Boyle WAS Overrated

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Back in April I took fire from a few friends for calling Susan Boyle of Britain's Got Talent acclaim overrated.

Turns out, Ms. Boyle really was overrated.  Ms. Boyle lost the Britain's Got Talent competition to a hip-hop dance troupe yesterday evening.

[Link]

Friday, May 29, 2009

The GOP Response to Judge Sotomayor

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I have held off on posting my thoughts on the President's nominee to the Supreme Court because my thoughts on the matter were mixed. My initial reaction was that her sterling qualifications (Yale Law, Court of Appeals, etc.) More than place her in the realm of passable nominees.

That said, I find her judicial philosophy absolutely repugnant. Justice should be blind, and decidedly not empathetic in the opinion of yours truly (insert 'legally blind' joke here). So what's a conservative to do?

Enter Charles Krauthammer. It's an interesrting time indeed when I begin to agree more and more with Mr. K's opinion pieces. Anyway, Krauthammer offers an interesting take on the proper GOP response to the nomination - a play I suspect the Judiciary Committee Republicans will follow to the letter: Rebut, then confirm her.

Enjoy.

[Link]

Why Are Gas Prices So High?

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With Memorial Day weekend in the books it was interesting to see the sudden interest in gasoline prices.  Time Magazine ran an especially provocative headline:
"Oil is Plentiful, Demand Weak. Why are Gas Prices Going Up?"

[Link]

The short answer (and trust me, Time never gives a short answer to anything) is that oil prices are inelastic, and set by OPEC.

See. You didn't even need to read the article.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts from Chase Field

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Yesterday evening found me enjoying a warm Arizona night at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. For the casual baseball observers on board, Chase Field is home to the Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks.

The game was absolutely stunning. D-backs pitcher Max Scherzer nigh had a better performance at bat than he did from the mound, driving in two runs while pitching a solid seven innings before the AZ brass shut things down.

The ESPN write up of the game follows:
Max Scherzer struck out 10 and drove in two runs, Chris Young made a leaping catch at the fence for the final out and Arizona held off San Diego 6-5 on Tuesday night to snap the Padres' 10-game winning streak

[Link]
The game was tremendous, but what makes any outing to the ballpark memorable is the company you share.

Last night the fiancee and I were joined by two of our best friends from Tucson, add to that mix cold beer at the park and a sumptuous meal as a prelude, and you have all the makings for a great time. Even our outfield seats at Chase cooperated by providing us one of the best views in house.

All of which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that there is no finer place to enjoy the summer than at the baseball field.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pax Plena 2.0

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Pretty obvious by now, but I made a few adjustments to the site yesterday evening/morning. The old layout had been around since the elections last November so it seemed due for a change. (Although, six months with the same layout is pretty darn near a record for me if history is any indication)

The latest iteration of Pax Plena has the same, standard tabs at the top (home, about me, and the reading list), along with a search feature near the header.

On the sidebar, I made a slight modification to the recent posts/comments. Those now have their own tabs within the sidebar so that the latest content is more readily available.

The only substantive change to the body of the post is that the comments are now accessed through the comment bubble at the top of each post instead of at the bottom. The comment bubble should make it easier to tell which posts have comments and which do not. Mainly, this was a change for yours truly so that I don't miss comments like I have in the past.

Hopefully the new digs will be an improvement on the old. I have the code for the previous layout on standby just in case the changes prove to be unwelcome. For now, thanks as always for stopping by, and for adding to the conversation.

Pax Plena

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama Still Has No Plan to Close Guantanamo

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President Obama defended his non-existent plan to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainee facility today, blaming the latest political quandary on the Bush Administration.

The President described the matter as the 'toughest' issue the Nation would face.
"There are no neat or easy answers here," Obama said in a speech in which he pledged anew to clean up what he said was "quite simply a mess" at Guantanamo that he had inherited from the Bush administration.

...

"I want to be honest: This is the toughest issue we will face," Obama said.

[Link]

A couple of brief reactions.

First, the President walks a fine line by blaming every problem in these United States on the Bush Administration. President Bush is no longer President - Barack Obama is. At what point will President Obama finally transition from candidate Obama, and claim the problems our country faces as his own? Under President Truman, Democrat's once had a fine tradition of buck-stopping, but in the Obama White House the buck apparently stops in Crawford, TX.

Further, with the latest federal bailouts leading only to delayed bankruptcy for Detroit, and with the President doubling our National deficit in his first 100 days, how long until the public recognizes that it is President Obama's policies that have contributed most o the "mess?"

Second, closing Gitmo is, unequivocally, NOT the toughest issue we will face. Closing Gitmo is a political pet-project that not even House and Senate Democrats have been willing to support. In fact, not even the President's officials have been fully on board. The President calls this fear-mongering. Others might call it 'prudent' to have a plan before acting.

After defending his decision, President Obama once again offered no plan for closing the facility.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama's Mileage & Pollution Plan

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The ink is barely dry on the announcement, but the White House has leaked word of a major breakthrough on fuel efficiency standards, and vehicle emissions limits.

According to the AP:
Obama on Tuesday planned to announce the first-ever national emissions limits for cars and trucks, as well as require a 35.5 miles per gallon standard. Consumers should expect to pay an extra $1,300 per vehicle by the time the plan is complete in 2016, officials said.

[Link]

One would like to think the Obama Administration is closet fan of Pax Plena. I suggested a similar policy as fuel prices began to rise last July.

While my ego is certainly stroked, I cannot help but view the issue as a lost opportunity for Republicans. This solution was obvious. No where was the economic recession more strongly felt than when Americans paid $4 per gallon for gasoline last summer. Why not give consumers more bang for their buck, and make better cars that go further on less fuel? 

Had Republicans championed the idea, they would have scored a major win on energy policy, and shored up hitherto absent credibility on the environment. Instead, President Obama will announce his energy/environmental initiative flanked by automakers, union leaders, and the Republican governor of California while the rest of the GOP stands idly by offering no solutions.

Republicans have have earned some policy victories in the past few weeks, but I suspect this mileage & pollution plan is a major 'w' for team Obama.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama, Notre Dame, and the Myth of Abortion

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President Obama took center stage down in South Bend, Indiana, delivering a controversy-filled commence address to the graduating class of 2009.

True to form, protesters interrupted the President's address shouting that abortionists should 'stop killing our children.' The President's supporters replied, 'yes, we can.'

Let it never be said that irony is dead in these United States.

The graduation brouhaha was bound to elicit the sorts of reactions it did from all quarters. But the most entertaining aspect of the commencement fiasco was the President's recitation of the same, tired talking points on abortion that have been handed down by leftists making paeans toward centrism since the time of Roe v. Wade.  

The President summarized his position as follows:
"So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term."

[Link]
To his credit, the President has been nothing if not consistent on the actual issue of abortion.  When Americans went to the polls and voted to elect the President, it was with full-knowledge that they were electing a President who would be steadfast in his support of abortionists, and abortion rights. 

But the President's argument today about 'understanding' and common ground is little more than a sleight of hand.  The position is intended to be a 'reasonable' middle-course, but the argument is really nonsense.

If we accept the public policy position that abortion should be safe and legal as the President has argued, then why should we take any steps at all to reduce its practice?  Put differently, if abortion should be safe and legal, then why should it be rare?  The limits of the President's logic dictate that there must be something morally repugnant about abortion if, in fact, it is a mutually desirable goal for both camps to reduce how often it occurs.

For a President seeking to promote 'understanding,' this fairly obvious incongruity of his message is one that President Obama seems not to 'get'.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hiatus

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A thousand apologies dear readers.  Last week found me on travel to Walters, OK for my kid sister's graduation from Cameron University in Lawton.  It is crazy hard to believe that my younger sister is a college graduate.  Where did the time go?

The event was a gala, family affair that brought my grandparents and cousins to Oklahoma all the way from Taos, NM.  The celebration consumed the better part of my trip, and what time was left I allocated to preparing for my Antitrust final (tomorrow).  Naturally, that leaves me with about one day for hardcore studying (today).

All of which is to say that blogging through my last final this Thursday should remain fairly spotty.

For now, I wanted to post the latest snapshot from our recent engagement photo session - hot off the press.  Admittedly, it has nothing to do with our normal topics, but it's a chance for me to brag.  And if you can't brag about your Fiancée, then what's the point?




Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Catholic Church v. Dan Brown

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Dan Brown's early best-seller, Angels & Demons is set to hit the box office later this month courtesy of action director Ron Howard.  Given the furor ignited by Brown's last novel-turned-film, it is no surprise that the Catholic Church is out of the gate early with both guns blazing.

The Holy Church expressed these warm sentiments toward the film:
The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, the Bishop of Nottingham, warned that the film could stir up anti-Catholic sentiment."This is so outlandish, it's total rubbish," said Bishop McMahon, who is one of the Church's most senior bishops. "It's mischievous to stir up this kind of anti-Catholic sentiment. It's a gratuitous knocking of the Church and I can't see any reason for it."

[Link]

We've always been for the underdog here at Pax Plena. If the world's largest religious body is utterly opposed to the movie's release, one cannot help thinking that it must be a pretty good film.

Check out the trailer here!

Ditching Reagan

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The title is a bit of an oversimplification, but I'm encouraged to see that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush understands the GOP's need to move beyond the ghost of Ronald Reagan.
"So our ideas need to be forward looking and relevant. I felt like there was a lot of nostalgia and the good old days in the [Republican] messaging. I mean, it's great, but it doesn't draw people toward your cause," Mr. Bush said.

[Link]

The party clearly needs relevant ideas that are applicable to Americans today - not 1980. Last fall's Ronald Reagan debate in Simi Valley was an embarrassment

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Loss of a Titan

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I never knew much about Jack Kemp. His political heyday occurred long before I paid any mind to National politics. But the more I have come to learn about his life, the more I have come to admire the political legacy he left behind. There are much worse ways for a public servant to be remembered:
Through his political life, Kemp's positions spanned the social spectrum: He opposed abortion and supported school prayer, yet appealed to liberals with his outreach toward minorities and compassion for the poor. He pushed for immigration reform to include a guest-worker program and status for the illegal immigrants already here.

[Link]

Good show, Jack Kemp.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Republicans' Road Less Travelled

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Perhaps it is the amount of time that I have spent in the Hoosier State of late that leaves me sympathetic to Indiana's political establishment. But a recent interview in the National Journal with Indiana's Republican Governor Mitch Daniels leaves me impressed.

Below is a key excerpt from the interview:
Daniels: In a tough year, Obama won the state -- you know that. I guess what I'm saying is that when Indiana Republicans meet, I always tell them we cannot control what the party looks like in other places or nationally, but here in Indiana if we don't remain the party always defining the agenda, bringing the new ideas and standing for constructive change, then people will excuse us from duty. And they should. ...

[Link]

Gov. Daniels point is crucial, and one that is mostly lost on the national-level Republican leadership.

Even as a minority party, Republicans must put forward new ideas. We must present reasonable alternatives that force a national conversation. As Gov. Daniels notes, simply saying 'no' is not enough, even if 'no' is our ultimate answer. Or to put the matter a bit more convolutedly, 'no' is no substitute for policy.

At any rate, the entire interview is a good read for those interested in the future leadership of the GOP. In a lot of ways, Gov. Daniels point is simply a commonsense, Mid-western alternative vision for Republicans- not unlike the ideas put forward by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Interestingly, this view is at profound odds with the 'party of no' mantra that the media loves to excoriate - views seemingly adopted by Governors Sanford, Jindal, and Palin to a lesser extent. In particular, Gov. Sanford's notable comparison of the United States to Zimbabwe last March should be exactly the type of headline that Republicans try to avoid. Far from casting Republicans as a reasoanble alternative, such shrillness reminds voters exactly why the GOP should remain sidelined.

When Republicans finally get serious about regaining majority status, they will likely be faced with the two strands of conservatism noted above. The former is one rooted in a bedrock of neo-populism with a diluted strain of social conservatism, while the latter is a double down on the fiscal and social policies of the Reagan years.

Here's hoping we choose the former since it is a path less travelled. The latter is one we have taken often, and it seems no longer to work.