1) It's been a few weeks since my last post, during which time Thanksgiving has come and gone. I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday, and that you were able to give thanks for all the blessings we have in this country. Yes, economic times are tough (more about that below), and dangers abound all over the world (more about those below, too), but honestly, would you trade places with residents of any other country on the planet right now?
2) It appears as though President Obama is going to make his official decision about the Administration's Afghanistan policy next week. If leaked reports are correct, he will recommend a "surge" of 34,000 U.S. troops. It took him too long to make the decision, but this IS the right choice and he deserves credit for making it. We can't bug out, and that leaves the only alternative as staying in there to win the war. There is more than a little bit of irony in this situation, however. All during the 2008 election campaign, Democrats ran by clamoring that we had focused on the "wrong war" (Iraq), and that if their candidate were elected, he would shift the focus to winning the war on which we should have focused. No sooner does President Obama take office than the inevitable happened, and Democrats started mumbling about "exit strategies" for Afghanistan, a euphemism for "How do we bail out without saying that we're bailing out?" President Obama better be ready for what's coming his way next week--the left in this country is NOT going to be happy. It wants us out of both Iraq and Afghanistan immediately, the consequences be damned.
3) Gotta love those those Iranian Mullahs. They have confiscated the Nobel Peace Prize of Dr. Shirin Ebadi, the lawyer who in 2003 received the prize for her championing of women's and human rights in Iran. Outside of a few bleats of international protest, the move has largely been met with silence. No condemnations from the U.N. Security Counsel or General Assembly (yeah, big shock there, I know). Nothing from the odious U.N. Human Rights Commission. The E.U. has also kept its tongue (wouldn't want to "offend" the Iranians when it loves to buy their oil, or when that might result in the jeopardizing of business contacts now, would it?). And this is the truly evil regime with which the Obama Administration "wants to engage". When a government does something like this, what possible "engagement" could you have with it?
4) There are rumblings out of Israel that a deal could soon be in the works between Israel and Hamas which would see longtime hostage Gilad Shalit traded back to Israel in exchange for one thousand Hamas terrorists. While I hate deals like this, I can certainly understand the motivation behind them. Shalit has been a hostage since June of 2006, and his long ordeal has become a neverending nightmare for Israelis. Unlike the Palestinians, Israel values human life, the despicable portrayals of it in the MSM notwithstanding. It won't rest until its soldiers come home, alive or dead. That is why it gave up truly evil "human beings" like Samir Kuntar in exchange for the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, and that is why it will eventually release terrorists who will certainly do their best to murder more Jews in order to obtain Gilad Shalit.
5) Another economic nightmare might be heading our way. Dubai World has indicated that it will not be able to meet its debt payments. The potential economic failure of the biggest corporation in the oil-rich state, had sent tremors throughout the world community which is rightfully concerned about this potential collapse starting another wave of corporate collapses. However, it seems as though those fears are fortunately misplaced, if for no other reason than the fact that the Dubai government could easily pay off the Dubai World's $60 BILLION debt without a second thought. The incredible irony of the situation? This might result in the strengthening of the devalued U.S. dollar, which had to this point apparently been heading for parity with the Mexican Peso.
6) It's neither political nor sports-related, but I have a confession to make. I am a gaming addict. Not video or computer games. BOARD games. There is one in particular that I absolutely love, a game called "Smallworld". It's fun, intellectually challenging, and better yet, it can be played by entire families. If you want to try something really different, but incredibly fun at the same time, give it a shot. Trust me on this one........
7) One football game I didn't get so see last weekend but would love to have watched was the Repus Bowl, matching 1-8 Detroit against 1-8 Cleveland. My thought that it would be like watching a car wreck--I wouldn't be able to turn away. Those who saw the game ended up seeing a phenomenally entertaining matchup, ultimately won 38-37 by the Lions. The resistible force ended up topping the movable object...........
8) This week's Top Five in College Football:
i) Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0, #1): It wasn't pretty yesterday against Auburn, and you could make a case that the Tide should have lost the game, but it didn't. Alabama did what winning teams do when they're struggling, which was to dig deeper and find a way to get the "W".
ii) Texas Longhorns (12-o, #2): I don't expect the Longhorns to have much trouble with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big Twelve title game, and that's all that stands between Texas and a matchup with either Alabama or Florida.
iii) Florida Gators (11-0, #3): Florida will be 12-0 after it annihilates the Florida State Seminoles tonight. Then, it's off to the SEC title game, which is effectively a "play-in" game for the B(C)S title game.
iv) Cincinnati Bearcats (11-0, #4): Cincinnati still has one obstacle remaining to an undefeated season, a matchup with 9-2 Pittsburgh. The biggest challenge for the Bearcats might be to find a way to keep coach Brian Kelly, who is reported to be high on Notre Dame's wish list one the Fighting Irish get around to firing current coach Charlie Weis.
v) Boise State Broncos (12-0, #5): Pity the Broncos--they may very well not get into a BCS Bowl while a team they beat soundly, the Oregon Ducks, only needs to beat in-state rival Oregon State to go to the Rose Bowl.
Dropped out: No team.
9) The Top Five and Bottom Five in the NFL this week, with the team's record and last week's ranking in brackets:
i) New Orleans Saints (10-0, #1): Monday night's game against the high-flying New England Patriots has all the promise of a 41-38 barnburner. Watch it turn out to be a 13-7 snoozefest.
ii) Indianapolis Colts (10-0, #2): The Colts are just three wins away from clinching their division, and four from clinching home field throughout the AFC playoffs.
iii) Minnesota Vikings (9-1, #3): Despite my desire for him to do so, Brett Favre has yet to fall on his face.
iv) San Diego Chargers (7-3, no ranking): That slow start is all but forgotten now, and the Chargers are playing as well as any team in the league.
v) New England Patriots (7-3, #4): The Pats lost an inexplicable game against the Colts, when Bill Bellichick went for a first down on fourth and two on his own 28 yard line with his team holding a 34-28 lead and just a few minutes left in the game. They failed, and it took Peyton Manning exactly four plays to get the Colts into the end zone. Final score, 35-34 for Indianapolis. But, that said, the Pats are still clicking offensively.
Dropped out: Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4, #5)
i) Cleveland Browns (1-9, #2): See my comment on the game above. And, reports are that team coach Eric Mangini is among the most despised coaches in the NFL. Yup, that's quite the party they have going on in Cleveland.
ii) St. Louis Rams (1-9, #3): Even when healthy, they stank. Now, injuries are knocking out their starters.
iii) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-9, #4): Bring back the creamsicle uniforms--it's the only way they can win.
iv) Buffalo Bills (3-7, no ranking): Counterfeit Bills.
v) Detroit Lions (2-9, #1): Worry not, Lions fans. The coveted title of "worst team in the league" is still well within reach, and getting shellacqued 34-12 by the Packers on Thanksgiving Day is ample evidence of that fact.
Dropped out: Kansas City Chiefs (3-7, #5).
The Top Five and Bottom Five in the NHL this week, with the team's record and last ranking in brackets:
i) San Jose Sharks (17-6-4, #1): The Sharks are as talented as ever, but we've seen great regular seasons out of them before.
ii) Chicago Black Hawks (16-6-2, no ranking): And now they have Marian Hossa back in the fold. We know he won't do anything in the playoffs, but he'll make an already offense even better.
iii) Calgary Flames (15-6-3, #3): They just shut out the suddenly struggling Red Wings in Detroit last night.
iv) New Jersey Devils (16-6-1, #5): Give the Devils their due, there is no more consistent a team in the NHL.
v) Washington Capitals (14-5-6, #2): The Caps have cooled off a little bit, but are still playing like an elite team.
Dropped out: Colorado Avalanche (14-8-4, #3)
i) Carolina Hurricanes (5-15-5, #1): Three straight losses keep the 'Canes in last place.
ii) Toronto Maple Laughs (6-11-7, #3): The Maple Laughs have actually won two in a row.
iii) Minnesota Wild (9-12-3, #4): The Wild are an abysmal 2-9-2 on the road.
iv) Edmonton Oilers (10-12-4, no ranking): Like their division-mates in Minnesota, the Oilers are terrible on the road.
v) Montreal Canadiens (12-12-1, #5): The Hab-nots are just hanging until the team's best defenseman, Andrei Markov, hopefully returns in January.
Dropped out: Florida Panthers (10-10-4, #2)
11) The Top Five and the Bottom Five in the NBA this week, with the team's record and last ranking in brackets:
i) Los Angeles Lakers (11-3, #1): And now they have Pau Gasol back.
ii) Phoenix Suns (13-3, #2): Running and gunning like they always do, but it's never proven to be a formula for success in the playoffs.
iii) Denver Nuggets (12-4, #5): The Nuggets are still unbeaten (7-0) at home.
iv) Atlanta Hawks (12-4, no ranking): The Hawks are a fun team to watch, and they're young, too. Too bad no one in Atlanta cares.
v) Dallas Mavericks (12-4, no ranking): Dirk Nowitzki just seems to get better with age.
Dropped out (Boston Celtics (12-4, #3), Miami Heat (9-6, #4)
i) New Jersey Nets (0-16, #1): It goes from bad to worse for the Nets, who got crushed by a thoroughly-mediocre Sacramento Kings team last night.
ii) Minnesota Wild (1-15, #3): If not for the ineptitude of the Nets, the Wild would have a hammerlock on the "worst team in the league" title.
iii) New York Knicks (3-13, #2): Even the Knicks beat up on the Nets recently.
iv) Detroit Pistons (5-11, no ranking): Seven straight losses (and counting) for the misfiring Pistons.
v) Philadelphia 76ers (5-11, no ranking): Doesn't it say a lot that three of the worst teams in the league (and you could make a case that Toronto should be in this group, too) are in the same division?