Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm Sure Glad They Finally Said It!

I turned on my TV set after coming home from my factory job four days ago, and I tuned into MSNBC. Toward the end of The Ed Show, I heard something that really made me feel happy about a day that, for the most part, had otherwise left a lot to be desired.

Here's what I heard:

"Unfortunately our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work- President Obama."

And I also heard this:

"Do Republicans really oppose a tax cut for businesses that created jobs? This is sort of beyond the pale. If they oppose even something so suited to their tastes ideologically, it shows that they're just opposing anything that helps create jobs. It also makes you wonder if they aren't trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain."

That first quote is from US Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), and the second one is from US Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and their responses came at a Capitol Hill news conference the day after Republican senators blocked an economic development bill the GOP used to like.

It's about time the Democrats took the gloves off!  

Matter of fact, I don't wonder if the Elephants are trying to slow down America's economic recovery so that they'll get enough sympathy to insure that they'll get 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue back next time this country has a presidential election.

I'm more than convinced that the Republicans are out to sabotage the nation's economy.

We've been constantly told that since the 1940 presidential election, no incumbent commander-in-chief has been able to get reelected with the country's unemployment rate at 8% or higher.

With that in mind, officially-declared 2012 GOP candidates (you know, former governors Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, ex-House Speaker Newton Gingrich, current US Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, one-time US Sen. Rick Santorum, and business executive Herman Cain) are really licking their chops; just tasting the opportunity to give history's next US presidential inaugural address.

It won't be a sweet taste, I'll tell you that.

All Barack Obama wanted to do was install a new temporary payroll tax cut- something to bring more jobs to the United States. This was an idea the Elephants liked in the past...but now, all at once, it's not such a great idea to them. 

The Republicans would rather have permanent tax cuts.

And this isn't the only about-face the Republicans have pulled since 1-20-2009. What's more, John Boehner's and Mitch McConnell's party used to dig the Economic Development Agency (it gives grants to local projects). Now the party's opposed to even reauthorizing the agency!

Schumer talked about how the GOP doesn't want infrastructure investment. (Never mind that one of the party's leading cheerleader groups- the US Chamber of Commerce- wants this investment to take place.)

Durbin, the Donkeys' Senate whip, really nailed it when he said: "They want to play political games at the expense of getting this economy back on its feet. They believe a weak economy is their best chance of winning the next election."

Needless to say, McConnell (the Senate Republican leader) and Boehner (in the gig Gingrich used to have) didn't utter a word in response to Durbin's and Schumer's charges. Not immediately.

And it's all happening at a time when Joe Biden and a bipartisan (that's right, bipartisan) group of lawmakers are trying to hammer out a deal to cut America's deficit and raise this country's debt limit. (They've got until 8-2-2011; if no deal is finalized, the United States of America joins Greece- a country plenty of our Republican officials have laughed at these last two years- in the Default Zone.)

Keep in mind that the Republicans' policies and attitudes did the lion's share of the work in bringing about this current economic crisis. For starters, the debt nearly doubled during the George Walker Bush years, reaching $6.3 trillion in public debt (and $10.6 trillion in total outstanding debt) when Bush the Younger relinquished his job to Obama on 1-20-2009.

And yes, yes, YES; right now, the total outstanding debt is $14.34 trillion (with private investors holding $8.3 trillion of that entire US debt; that's a figure that dwarfs China's chunk- a comparatively measly $1.15 tril). Public debt accounts for $9.7 tril of that $14.34 trillion figure. 

No, no, NO; I'm not making any of this stuff up. I went to and got these figures. 

Think about what's going to happen if the Bush family's colleagues fully get their way- okay, think about what's going to take place if, at the very least, the debt ceiling isn't raised.

Failure to hike the debt ceiling will affect EVERYONE'S wallets and purses

Now...think back to the 1-20-2001 to 1-20-2009 period if you're an American. Did you lose a job (or more than one job) during that span of time? If you ended up getting back on this country's workforce during that period, did your next job pay less than the one that was pulled out from under you? If you were jobless, how long were you unemployed?

Finally, think about this: If you're in a low-to-middle-income household and you're thinking about voting next year for whoever replaces John McCain as the GOP standard bearer, what's going to be in it for you financially...especially when you consider that, for all the Republicans' talk about how we should cut spending, they refer only to slashing domestic spending (and won't touch defense spending)?

Ever thought about what you can do with that $8,000-$15,000 voucher Paul Ryan wants to give you to replace that Medicare payment?    

I still think about that "trickle up" chart Ed Schultz likes to show on his MSNBC series. In it, the wealthiest Americans saw their earnings zoom roughly 240% from 1979 to 2009...while wages and salaries for the rest of this country's population basically flatlined during the period, as did production.

Ed keeps daring GOP figures to come on his program to defend such a state of events and to tell him and The Ed Show's viewers how this massive income disparity's so great for America.


In fact, I found a real message when reading when researching the Republicans-sabotaging-the-American-economy issue. He said it right: "It is very painful to watch this play out as they (Republicans) attempt to make a point. The costs are way too high for such selfishness."

They certainly are...and I hope the Democrats keep bringing this message home.

(By the way, I also researched Greg Sargent's Washington Post blog and Michael McAuliff's column at to get information for this post.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

See Why I Don't Listen to Talk Radio Anymore?

Regardless of what it's going to cost me to bring this up, I've just GOT to bring this up.

Right now, I'm watching The Ed Show, and I'm still thinking about the antics of Glenn Beck and Neal Boortz...yep, two of Rush Limbaugh's disciples.

Earlier this week, Boortz got on his radio show to call for his listeners to go get guns and bump off "urban thugs" in the city from which his set of tirades originates, Atlanta, GA.

And we all know who he meant by "urban thugs," don't we?

Also earlier this week, Beck went into another one of his tirades on his own TV show...and toward the end, he, too, called for his followers to start packing heat.


Because of, as Beck put it, the need to prepare for "tough times ahead."

And then he pointed to a picture of Barack Obama.

You talk about irresponsible!!

I'm wondering what these two were doing the afternoon of 1-8-2011, when Jared Lee Loughner- in his attempt to kill US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ)- wounded Giffords and thirteen other addition to murdering six other people.

Were Beck and Boortz throwing parties? Were they and other so-called talk-radio hosts doing "high fives" over the phone?

You can disagree with a president's politics all you want...but that doesn't give you the right to call for bumping that chief executive off. YOU JUST DON'T DO THAT!!!

You know, it's a shame that the army of hate-radio (oops, I mean conservative talk-radio) hosts constantly gets away with this inflammatory kind of talk. These hosts- with few, few exceptions- rarely get punished.

Let a nonconservative host call for something just a fraction of what Neal Boortz got on radio and demanded from his listeners...and that nonconservative host is run out of broadcasting. Forever.

They won't even let him or her go to a garage sale and buy a used boombox!

When I was little (back in the 1960s and 1970s), we actually had talk radio here in America. The station I listened to (WHO in Des Moines, IA) had hosts of different points of view. And me, I found it not only informative...but fun, too.

Granted, the Fairness Doctrine (it became law in 1961) drove a lot of that. But still, chances were that your point of view WAS represented on talk radio in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. (So was mine.)

Then in 1987, with the Great Communicator still riding high, the Fairness Doctrine was struck down.

The next year (7-4-1988, in fact), Limbaugh's Sacramento-based tirade (oops, I mean show) went national...and the man from Cape Girardeau, MO moved the show to the Big Apple.

Ever since then, producers at news-and-information stations nationwide as well as at the broadcasting companies that give these stations nationally-syndicated shows, in explaining the overwhelming majority of right-wing voices, have loudly proclaimed: "Conservatism sells!"

That may be so...but, ultimately, a news-and-information radio station has a responsibility to the community in which it operates.

It can't always be about ratings. 

The stations have forgotten about that (or ignored it) these last 23 years. And for that reason, I've stopped listening to talk radio. 

I won't even listen to Omaha's most popular AM station...not even to catch Husker football.

And don't misunderstand me: I'm not for shutting those conservative voices up.

We need to hear from the conservatives, because we need to know what kinds of minds these people have.

We also need to hear from liberals, moderates, people of other points of view.

Besides, if we don't hear from as many people as possible, we can't make informed decisions.

And what's wrong with an informed, well-thought-out decision?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Holes Are Plugged Up!

Nope, I don't mean the potholes here in Omaha.

I'm talking about a project I got started with the year I bought a personal computer for the first time, 1992.

All this time, I've been conducting a version of a sports event the NCAA is too reluctant/unwilling/chicken to bring about: That Division 1-A college football playoff.

That's right: The NCAA crowns champions in every remaining sport and in every division in each remaining sport- Division 1, Division 2, and Division 3. Even in football, the organization annually gives you a Division 1-AA title (last season, Eastern Washington won it, 20-19, over Delaware), a Division 2 championship (Minnesota-Duluth defeated Delta State, 20-17, last year), and a Division 3 crown (the 2010 winner was Wisconsin-Whitewater, which stopped ten-time D-3 champ Mount Union, 31-21).

Nothing like that in college football's most lucrative sector.  

Instead, the two teams that play in the so-called BCS national championship game (I call it the "Extra Bowl") are, basically, selected by the media (the ESPN-USA Today Poll and the Harris Interactive Poll)...with help from a whole bunch of computers.

So, if you want a REAL national champion in NCAA Division 1-A football, all you've got to do right now is...go to your desktop or laptop or handheld, download a football simulation game, download from four to thirty-two teams, develop a playoff format, your thing.

And that's what I've been doing all this time.

Been using Lance Haffner Games' 3-in-1 Football and going computer vs. computer, beginning with a used Commodore C-64, then going to a 386, then a 486, then- finally- a P3. And I'd been buying teams disks from LHG until life circumstances kept me from being able to send in for a new 3-in-1 teams disk each year, so I started going to the company's Website,, and getting free downloads of teams disks that included all the D-1-A clubs that participated in bowl games during this or that season. (By the way...this version of a big-school playoff starts with the 1982 campaign, the first season in which the NCAA's current guidelines for membership in the governing body's Division 1-A and Division 1-AA took effect.)

Then, last year, I joined a Haffner Games discussion group.

And because of that, while keeping my version of a 1-A playoff current, I'd been able to fill in the gaps that came from not being able to buy some year's teams disk or download one of LHG's free samples.

For the last dozen years, I hadn't been able to do the 1999 playoffs...until this past weekend.

And so, without further ado, here's how each of these Division 1-A playoffs I've conducted finished:

1982- Nebraska 24, New Mexico 18
1983- Michigan 30, Texas 17
1984- Maryland 20, BYU 17 (1 OT)
1985- Oklahoma 41, Maryland 7
1986- Oklahoma 31, Miami (FL) 14
1987- Oklahoma 24, Auburn 21
1988- UCLA 31, Clemson 17
1989- Nebraska 26, USC 10
1990- Nebraska 16, Clemson 10
1991- Washington 27, Florida State 21
1992- Miami (FL) 55, Syracuse 7
1993- Nebraska 24, Notre Dame 21
1994- Penn State 63, Kansas State 14
1995- Florida State 17, Nebraska 16
1996- Ohio State 34, Arizona State 18
1997- Nebraska 52, Auburn 28
1998- Florida State 31, UCLA 25
1999- Nebraska 28, Kansas State 14
2000- Florida State 21, TCU 17
2001- Miami (FL) 42, Illinois 21
2002- Iowa 31, Colorado State 24
2003- USC 30, Michigan 0
2004- USC 49, Oklahoma 47
2005- Ohio State 31, Texas 27
2006- Boise State 28, Ohio State 14
2007- Ohio State 35, BYU 0
2008- Boise State 38, Oklahoma 14
2009- Florida 28, TCU 7
2010- Ohio State 28, TCU 22

The 1982-2000 playoffs were 16-team affairs; every playoff cycle from 2001 on has involved 24 teams. Each team is seeded, and the top eight seeds get to sit out the first round (the exact same format the NCAA currently uses in its D-2 football playoff; its D-1-AA playoff involves 20 clubs while the D-3 version is a 32-team fight).

Right now, the D-1-A playoffs I've been going through involve eleven automatic qualifiers (that's right: All eleven Division 1-A football-playing leagues get to send their champs to these playoffs, from SEC to Sun Belt) and thirteen at-large clubs.

Each of these 1-A cycles I've run has had plenty of surprises, from Number One seeds losing to Number 16 squads under the old format (something that happened six times) to top eight seeds [including four Number One seeds- Miami (FL) in 2002, Hawaii in 2007, Utah in 2008, and Auburn in 2010] squandering their byes in the new format.

With this system, just two Number One seeds got through the playoffs unscathed: Nebraska in 1993 and Miami (FL) in 2001 (which makes the Hurricanes' fall the next year- a 44-24 loss to Colorado State- even more of a shocker).

And two of the titles were won by Number 13 seeds. What's more, the two teams that turned such a low seeding into championships are in the same conference. And what's even more, the schools they represent are located in the same city!

Yep...I'm talking about UCLA's 1988 team and USC's 2003 squad.

Husker fans (especially those really anxious about when the next time will come when Big Red tops a poll at the end of a season) can take comfort in the six titles won by Nebraska in this version of a 1-A playoff (five by teams under Tom Osborne and the sixth by a team headed up by his successor, current Ohio head coach Frank Solich).

But if you like one of the SEC're bound to cringe.

That's because no Southeastern Conference contingent was able to get it done until Florida went all the way in 2009. (And the Gators were an at-large club that year!)

I'm going to be writing more about the Division 1-A playoffs in the time to come (when I'm not writing about other things on this blog).

Until then, stay tuned...and whether you're a newcomer to this blog or remember it from its previous platform, thanks for checking out "Boston's Blog!"