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College Football Awards, Week 5 (2018) September 30, 2018

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(Note:  All rankings are current AP [week 5] unless otherwise noted.)

COACHES
Wish I were him: Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Glad I’m not him: Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Lucky guy: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Poor guy: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Desperately seeking a wake-up call: Bobby Petrino, Louisville (held over for second week!)

Desperately seeking a P.R. man: Jeff Monken, Army

Desperately seeking sunglasses and a fake beard: Scott Frost, Nebraska

Desperately seeking … anything:  Chris Ash, Rutgers

TEAMS
Thought you’d kick butt, you did: Alabama (defeated Louisiana 56-14)

Thought you’d kick butt, you didn’t: Georgia (defeated Tennessee 38-12)

Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you did: Bowling Green (lost to Georgia Tech 63-17)

Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you didn’t:  Syracuse (lost to Clemson 27-23)

Thought you wouldn’t kick butt, you did:  Miami (North Carolina 47-10)

Dang, they’re good: Alabama

Dang, they’re bad:  South Alabama

Can’t Stand Prosperity:  Duke

Did the season start?  Louisville

Can the season end?  Rice

Can the season never endNotre Dame

GAMES
Play this again:  No. 4 Ohio State 27, No. 10 Penn State 26

Never play this again: FIU 55, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 9

What? Liberty 52, New Mexico 43

HuhFlorida 13, No. 23 Mississippi State 6

Are you kidding me??  Virginia Tech 31, No. 22 Duke 14

Oh – my – GodNo. 8 Notre Dame 38, No. 7 Stanford 17

NEXT WEEK

Rankings are current AP (week 5)
Ticket to die for:  No. 18 Texas vs. No. 6 Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout (Dallas)

Best non-Power Five vs. Power Five  matchup: Louisiana-Monroe @ Ole Miss

Best non-Power Five matchup: SMU @ UCF

Upset alert: No. 8 Notre Dame @ Virginia Tech

Must win: Georgia Tech @ Louisville

Offensive explosion: (inconclusive)

Defensive struggle: Navy @ Air Force

Great game no one is talking about: Tulane @ Cincinnati

Intriguing coaching matchup:  Justin Wilcox of Cal vs. Kevin Sumlin of Arizona

Who’s bringing the body bags? No. 1 Alabama @ Arkansas

Why are they playing? North Texas @ UTEP

Plenty of good seats remaining: Colorado State @ San Jose State

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?  Illinois @ Rutgers

Week 5 Thoughts: 

This week was one of the most important of the year for this college football season.  Although there were few upsets, and ever fewer of consequence (despite some close calls – looking your way, Michigan and Ohio State), there were still two games of enormous importance.

Let us start with the biggest game of the week, which was Ohio State playing Penn State in Happy Valley.  With a “white-out” at night filling the 107,000-seat stadium, the Nittany Lions played above their No. 10 ranking, almost defeating No. 4 Ohio State.  Almost.  In the end, both teams played up to their high potential, and the slightly-better team on paper turned out to be the slightly better team on the field of play.  The obvious national championship implications of the matchup and outcome is only part of the importance of this game, which shall be explained in further depth in a subsequent article.

The other game of enormous consequence was Stanford at Notre Dame.  This was another top ten matchup with both teams outside of the South, with the victor having further potential to advance in the rankings.  As wonderful as the southern teams are, having a healthy amount of top-ten (or even top-15) teams outside of the Southeast region is good for football because it makes the sport more national and less regional.  This importance shall also be explained further in an article that shall be forthcoming soon.

Oh, and don’t look now, but Texas is on a four-game win streak, and survived a trap game at Kansas State headed into the Red River Shootout, er, Showdown come Oct. 6.

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On the Errors in Jeff Daniels’ Newsroom Rant September 16, 2016

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There is a video clip that continues to surface on Facebook periodically.  Each time this clip surfaces, it continues to draw fresh accolades from many a user.  Of course, I am talking about this oft-shared clip below:

Many users seem to gush over how the character played by Jeff Daniels “nails it,” to use the modern vernacular.  The message of Daniel’s character is blunt:  “America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”  It is an impassioned rant on a stage, and perhaps the best explanation for its wide appeal is that it makes an overall emotional, yet ostensibly learned attempt to explain what ails America today.  In so doing, however, the character actually ends up libeling America, as the message behind his rant takes much for granted, and in the end, is destitute of foundation.

To ensure intellectual honesty, the character, Will McAvoy, demonstrates an important decree of rectitude early in his answer to a question from an audience member.  He prudently observes that James Madison was a genius, that the U.S. Constitution is a masterpiece, and even goes so far to say that the Declaration of Independence is, in his words, “the single greatest piece of American writing.”  Agree or disagree with the last clause, one strongly can agree with the impetus behind the observation.

Where McAvoy quickly errs, however, is the litany that follows after what he stated correctly.  The reason this litany is baseless, on the whole, is that this attempted chastisement of an audience member is replete with half-truths, carelessly listed without the slightest bit of context.  To wit:

“Canada has freedom.  Japan has freedom.  The UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium….207 sovereign states in the world, and 180 of them have freedom.”

Truly?  One-hundred eighty countries out of 207 sovereign nation-states is a percentage of nearly eighy-seven.  Google indicates that there are 196 countries in toto, and of those, not even half of them on a map have been color-coded “free” by Freedomhouse.org.

Moreover, just viewing the small list of countries that McAvoy cites, (Japan, UK, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium) are “free” due to the fact that it was America that either freed them from fascist totalitarianism, or made sure (in the case of Great Britain) that they remained unmolested by it during the Second World War.  Moreover, America protected all these countries from the Soviet Union’s imperialist advances during the Cold War.  Only the greatest nation in the world could claim such feats.

Pursuant to the same point, the Bill of Rights, a crucial document that puts checks on government’s never-ending appetite for power and control, is absent in Europe.

“There is absolutely no evidence to support…that we’re the greatest country in the world.”  Obviously, he overlooked the fact that the free world has expanded greatly since the Second World War on account of America’s efforts.  He also overlooked how it was America’s efforts that ultimately brought down the Evil Empire that was the Soviet Union.  But when one is consumed by emotion, why allow for this inconvenient truth to interfere with one’s self-indulgent litany?

“We’re seventh in literacy,” he continues, “twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, fourth in exports.”

These statistics seem so randomly drawn as to give the discerning observer the sense that they were fabricated.  Indeed, basic research validates this scrutiny.  Are we truly 49th in the world in our life expectancy?  In reality, it is 31st.  Still not great, but it obviously shows the error and lack of truth in his rant.

So what might account for a life expectancy of only 79.3 years, compared to Japan’s, the leader at 83.7 years?  Leftists relish using this misleading statistic as an accusation against our supposedly defective healthcare system.  What is conveniently ignored in this instance is that America is the most diverse country on earth compared to Japan, which is very homogeneous.  Leftists usually worship diversity as one of their many false gods, but conveniently overlook that one of the side-effects of “diversity” is diversity of behaviors.  Some behaviors lead to long, healthy lives, while others will cut life short.  Such diversity of behaviors account of having, on average, 4.4 fewer years of expect life compared to Japan.  To express it differently, the greatest doctors in the world cannot do anything about the rampant murder rates in many inner cities, which naturally bring down the national lifespan average.  But in things doctors can control, such as cancer survival rates, we do indeed lead the world.

Concerning being “third in per capita income,” the same thing regarding diversity applies.  Not everybody has equal ability to be equally productive.  Not everybody is equally ambitious.  More to the point, there will always be those who worked harder than most other people.  With such a wide range of those proclivities within our population (all 319,000,000 of us), is there no surprise what our per capita GDP is slightly lower than that of small, homogeneous Luxembourg?

How about all the high taxes in Japan and much of Europe that discourage entrepreneurship and increased productivity compared to America?  Did Jeff Daniels’ script writers factor that key element into the equation regarding the supposed “freedom” in the countries he casually listed?

Already having demonstrated to be cavalier with the facts, McAvoy nevertheless continues:

“We only lead the world in three categories:  number of incarcerated citizens per capita; number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.”  Well.

Concerning the first point, it is a commentary on two things.  First, too many laws.  He may have a point, but he fails to mention it, and it surely deserves further, in-depth discussion as to the systemic legal reform we desperately need (John Stossel once offered a novel idea of clearing out antiquated laws and placing sunset provisions on all laws retained and added).  But the other thing regarding incarceration rate conveniently overlooks the fact that many of the perpetrators are those who have bad, warped values, who must be removed from civil society so civil society remains safe from the evils they would otherwise perpetrate.

Concerning McAvoy sniffing about adults believing in angels, it betrays his fundamental misunderstanding of what has made America great in the first place.  A strong religious grounding (specifically of the Judeo-Christian varieties) is essential to the well-functioning of America.  Our Founding Fathers knew this when they first practiced statecraft.  Indeed, John Adams concisely underscored this necessity when he observed “[O]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Angels are thoroughly understood and valued within Judeo-Christian theology, and McAvoys casual, callous dismissal of such belief betrays his true ignorance of a necessary pillar to America’s fundamental greatness.

Concerning the third point regarding defense spending, and why ours is so huge compared to “the next 26 countries,” that is because almost all of those “26 countries” rely on America to not only protect itself from evil regimes and rogue terror groups, but they also rely on America to come to their own defense in their own possible time of need.  Many countries in western Europe have allowed for their militaries to atrophy because since the end of the Second World War, they counted on America for their own defense from the Soviets during the Cold War, and from terrorists today.

The error that leftists always make is equating “greatest” with “perfect”.  No reasonable person would make such an equivalency.  Moreover, reasonable people would also concede that systemic problems exist that need to be addressed so that we maintain our top spot amongst the other nations overall.  Rather than strive for perfection (unattainable, as humans are inherently imperfect), to maintain the greatest, one must simply strive to be better.  We have excelled at that since our founding.  Let us always keep in mind that our liberties are not granted by our Creator as means unto themselves, but rather as means to strive for improvement itself.

On an even more fundamental level, it has escaped a critical mass of user’s notices on social media, of a fundamental, logical implication within the rant in question.  If America is no longer the greatest country in the world anymore, which country has taken its place in the supreme spot of rank of nations?  Is it Canada, with only eleven percent of the population of its might neighbor to its south?  Is it China, what with its systemic problems of entrenched totalitarian government and continued human right violations, coupled with disturbing demographic trends of age?  Is it France or Germany, with its critical masses of unassimilated Moslem immigrants who do not share the values of the generous countries who have let them escape their origins of squalor?  If McAvoy/Daniels and his sycophants still cling to this message even after demonstrating it is lacking in reason, they continue to fail to select the country that has supplanted America as the greatest of nations.  Perhaps that might be the baseless rant’s greatest failing of all.

***********

As a postscript, the fellow seat next to the Will McAvoy character gave an all too expedient, incomplete, and lame answer.  Freedom is all well and good, but as already mentioned, for liberty to mater, it must be leveraged for improvement, wed to proper religious grounding.  The lady on his other side gave an answer that inadvertently misled.  “Diversity” and “inclusion” are ornaments, not strengths, of a great nation.  To relay on those two ornaments as structural elements to uphold a nation is as foolish and dangerous as to build one’s house on a foundation of sand.

Looking Forward, Not Backward, through Conservatism November 6, 2015

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Ronald_Reagan1The essence of conservatism, in general (i.e., not through any particular nationalist lens) is defending the existing order of things.  Thus, conservatism means different things in different countries, depending on what is, or was until recently, the status quo.  In Russia or China, for example, being conservative means that you are a communist, and have disdain for the new order brought on my free[er] markets in those respective countries.  Same goes for the countries in the Balkans, where some people still, oddly, long for the days of communist rule because it guaranteed them some sort of employment.  Perhaps when one has been a serf for more than a millennium, one tends to be quick to sell off one’s birthright for even the most meager messes of pottage.

But in any case, the American version of conservatism is to defend that which you already have, that being, individual liberty and a free market, both defended by a limited government.  Indeed, the citizens of the original Thirteen Colonies already had this in the 18th Century, and was not until after the French and Indian War concluded in 1763 did the British have the bright idea to arbitrarily mess with this good thing the colonists in North America already had going at that time.  For example, the standard of living in the American colonies was already higher in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War.  Therein lies a key thing to remember, that the colonists did not separate from Great Britain and risk blood and treasure in so doing to create something radically new, but to defend that which they already had.

The same impulse in this shared ideology continues strongly today, as well it should.  After all, Thomas Jefferson famously reminded us in all times to come that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.  The only problem is, electorally, it can sometimes be a double-edge sword.

Two recent examples are the redefinition of marriage and Obamacare.  Those who care for long-held traditions that have been established over millennia, and established for good reasons born out of experience through the ages, have been understandably dismayed at the development of five Supreme Court judges arbitrarily changing that sacred definition.  To suggest that marriage should be redefined as being legitimate if it is between two men or two women instead of the traditional definition of one man, and one woman, shows incredible arrogance in that this generation is wiser than all the collective wisdom of all of our forbearers.  Such a thinking is reckless for the present and outright destructive for the future.

Moreover, Obamacare has caused far more problems than it solved.  Yes, it allowed previously uninsurable people access to health insurance, but it has come at considerable cost.  Everybody’s insurance premiums have skyrocketed on account of this Orwellian-named Affordable Care Act.  One family can pay as much as $20,000 a year, and if you do not buy the insurance, you pay a fine (albeit much less than the aforementioned gouging).  This Act, which is considered to be Obama’s greatest achievement, gives many people the perverse economic incentive to pay the fine.

For those of us who were happy with the insurance we already had, we ended up losing some of our doctors on account of sudden changes in insurance networks, but our premiums continue to go up and up, not only on account of having to insure the expensively uninsurable, but, more to the point, having to pay for “options” we do not even want.  Why should men, for example, be forced to pay for an insurance policy that offers birth control?  Why should all of us, man or woman, we force to pay for a policy that provides for acupuncture?

So what to do?  The impulse to defend can misguide us to often look back.  But to be electorally viable, we must look forward.  Young people especially are not concerned with some supposedly idyllic past.  Even the recent past of Clinton and (eventually) Obama in the White House is certainly no past destination to return.  Moreover, it has been almost 27 years since the late, great, Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

Conservatism’s strength comes in two major dimensions:  its practicality, and its optimism.  For this piece, let us focus on the latter as a winning tool to win elections and to create a winning vision moving forward.

Start with marriage.  The institution of marriage has been the central unit of society since before recorded history (which started around 3500 BC, fyi).  It has proven, over the course of centuries and millennia, to be the cornerstone of solid, functioning families, which themselves are vital to a well-functioning society.  Within the institution of marriage, it has proven over the same immense span of time that the institution functions best when it is comprised of one man and one woman.  The reason is twofold:  for one, it takes a man and a woman to be able to get together so as to procreate.  For another, the partnership of a man and a woman is mutually beneficial to both sexes, as such a union helps both mates help curb the excesses sewn into the nature of both sexes.  Most importantly, the central reason for marriage is for the successful raising of children, so that society’s values and culture can be as successfully passed on through a married couple’s children. The different kinds of love that originates from father and mother respectively help put children in the best possible positions to be well-adjusted, productive members of society.  Family break-down hinders both the successful raising of children, and consequently it creates defective, instead of functional, cultures.  Just look at the high illegitimacy rates in the black-dominated inner city neighborhoods; such high out-of-wedlock birthrates, combined with an alarmingly high rate of absent fathers negatively affect those children’s lives.  Such family break-down those leads to the forming of bad-warped values that leads to high crime and poverty rates.

The solution?  As conservatives, we must not try to fight increasingly old battles about same-sex marriage, but rather work to strengthen traditional marriage, especially within the context of how it best benefits children in particular and families in general.  Fighting old battles is a losing proposition.  Looking forward is a winning one.

Concerning Obamacare, instead of fighting to repeal it, let us concentrate our energies to move forward by way of reforming it.  By doing so, we conservatives can seize an even greater macro opportunity by positioning ourselves as people who stand for reform in general.  Big government has proven not to work time and again, especially in an age where most companies are becoming less bureaucratic and more nimble, and technology gives us more options than ever before.  We are therefore perfectly positioned to fight to reform government by making it more streamlined, less bloated and rigid, and allow people more options.

Obamacare is a perfect place to start.  Its central problem?  In classic, big-government fashion, it is a one-size-fits-all model, and thus allows for no options.  We cannot decide what we want on our policy and what we do not want.  Government dictates what we must buy for our policies, even if it is too expensive for most discerning buyers.  If we do not like it?  Tough.  Why not allow for people to decide for themselves what they want to buy and what they do not want based on what they can afford and what they actually need?  Again, as conservatives, we are in the perfect position to offer reform policies in government that would thus allow for people to have these common sense options.  Doing so would be perfectly in line with government upholding liberty (a conservative tenet) by allowing for such common sense solutions-as-options.

Defending that which we have (our families and liberties) does not mean we must always look backward, either.  Being conservative does not, nor should it automatically equate to being reactionary.  Part of being a conservative is being practical:  that is to stay, understanding what works and what does not work, and to act accordingly.  The Constitution, for example, might not be a perfect document, but it certainly is a practical one, and has proven to be for more than two centuries and counting.  Moreover, the human being as an organism is goal-oriented in its very nature.  Such a nature was conveniently overlooked by Karl Marx, who, along with Friederich Engels, had his head in the clouds about an unattainable ideal of economic equality.  It never works because it ignores this central tenet to human nature.

But more to the point, being goal-oriented means that one instinctively looks to the future, since therein lies the goal that the individual wishes to attain.  Our Constitution was constructed on the idea to create the best possible system of government and economics within the confines of human nature.  Why not therefore use this conservative tendency constructively in the same way?

Therefore, look forward and sell the voting public on why conservative principles of a free market will create a better economic system now and in the future for people of all walks of life.  On the social side of the equation, we must, as cooperative individuals, work to strengthen traditional marriage.  Politically, we must dismantle policies that give perverse incentives for families to disintegrate so as to cut off what is in effect the funding of inter-generational social problems in the inner city and elsewhere.

Back to the free market side of things, we must look forward to a freer economy that creates better opportunities for people of all walks of life – including those in the inner city – by scaling back and streaming regulations so that people addicted to welfare who are otherwise able-bodied will have ample opportunity to act on another conservative tenet, that of self-reliance.  Looking at it another way, as a purely pragmatic way of looking at things, young people of today are becoming an increasingly large portion of the electorate, and their sole focus is looking forward, not looking back to try to recapture the past.

The genius to the central messages of Ronald Reagan was that conservatism works just as well in modern times as it did when America was founded in the late 18th Century.  Reagan was always optimistic about the future because he recognized that, as long as these same principles were headed now and in the future, things will continue to work well.

Though it was been more than three decades since Reagan was re-elected in an historic landslide, our best political solution as conservatives is to take the same approach and look forward with winning, practical policies that promise, and invariably deliver, a better future.

The Opinion Index, 11-15-12 November 16, 2012

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The issue of Republicans trying to broaden their base is one that has obviously been on my minds within the ranks of the GOP, specifically, how do we bring in more minorities into our camp?   Many people who just happen to be minorities no doubt share most of our values, but others, namely a large swath of blacks, seem not to.  Many in the black community have kept themselves on Uncle Sam’s Plantation, much to their own peril economically, socially and spiritually.  What must be done, according to Dennis Prager, is to bring more minorities towards our values, meaning that we must get the message to them, make it clear to them, and prove to them that our values are in their best interest, and indeed, in America’s best interest.

At the core of things is a particular challenge.  We as Republicans stand for hard work, self-reliance, free enterprise and individual initiative.  On paper, that seems like an easy sell.  But it becomes a much tougher sell when the other side says “don’t worry, we’ll take care of you,” without regard for who will pay for all the goodies.  This is part of the case that Mona Charen tries to make, along with the chilling reminder that the worse an economy gets, the more lots of people (single women, etc.) cling to government for security.  To overcome this huge obstacle to preserving individual liberty and prosperity, we need to have more brains (and common sense!) and imagination than the Democrats.

One important thing to keep in mind is that some Republicans happen to win in places where they are least expected to, such as the People’s Republic of Massachusetts.  How do they do it?  Jeff Jacoby points out that they won with focusing on grassroots, and champion liberty, limited government, and low taxes.  This, of course, flies in the face of conventional wisdom from campaign consultants, who think that GOP candidates must go wishy-washy and moderate positions.  The message is clear:  clarity, conviction, and the ability to put it in words people can understand wins, even in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, lots of people within conservative ranks seem to be piling on Romney right now (hasn’t the poor guy taken enough grief?).  Did he make mistakes?  Of course he did.  Taking Rick Perry to task over his stance on the DREAM Act was a fatal blow towards his hopes for attracting Hispanic votes, for example.  But having said all that, it is more than worth pointing out what he did RIGHT.  Who better than Hugh Hewitt to offer a nice, easily digestible list of things Mitt did well which future candidates would be well-served to emulate, and others which have set the GOP up for long-term success?

Finally, one important thing to note is an alternative solution to solving the mess in Washington.  Instead of trying to change Washington — which we ought not to give up anytime soon — let us also devote just as much energy towards helping the Several States wrestle issues back into their sphere of control.  Justin Owen offers a very timely piece on how some states have already challenged the Federal government in key areas such as environmental protection, Medicaid reform, and education.  Let us never forget that we have something called the 10th Amendment.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This must be remembered above all else, especially now.

A Time for Choosing November 3, 2012

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For weeks, I was trying to think up the almost-perfect editorial essay explaining why Obama must go and why Mitt Romney is the best guy we have to turn our government and our nation around.  I could have given a whole litany of problems America has experienced under Obama, and just as big a litany of positives in favor of Romney as the real man for the job (as opposed to the narcissistic man-child with which we have saddled ourselves for [almost] the last four years).  And I may yet write such a piece between now and Tuesday.  But as the old saying goes, in the brevity lies the spice, and there is hardly a ‘spicier’ editorial out there in Romney’s favor (and Obama’s consequent disfavor) than Charles Krauthammer’s latest piece.  What makes this particular column so “spicy” is that it gets to the very crux of the matter regarding this upcoming election.  Are we to remain freeborn citizens of unlimited individual potential, or are we to degenerate into serfs, able to do little more than serve an increasingly Leviathan state?  So read that article, then watch Ronald Reagan’s historic speech that he gave 48 years ago.  While you watch it, forget about Goldwater vs. Johnson and imagine Romney vs. Obama, and the speech will seem even more timely today than it was almost five decades ago.