1) It's Election Day here in the Garden State. The choices: i) The incumbent Governor, Jon Corzine, who near as I can tell has done nothing for four years other than instruct his limo driver to speed while he (Corzine) wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Oh, he also raised our already ridiculously high taxes. ii) Chris Christie, the Republican who despite being a strong candidate is in a tough battle because his campaign manager has run the electoral equivalent of a prevent defense since early in the second quarter. iii) Chris Daggett, the former Republican who is running as an independent but whose policies seems suspiciously similar to those of the incumbent. The polls are all over the place. Some have Corzine in the lead, some have Christie ahead, and Daggett is pulling in anywhere from (depending on which poll you choose to accept) 6% to 14% of the vote. In short, it's a classic case of "too close to call". I have a bad feeling that Governor Corzine will win re-election, as the Democratic vote-generating machine in Camden, Hackensack, Paterson, Jersey City, etc., is really pushing its organizers to get out the vote, and because Daggett will siphon off enough votes from Christie to make sure that we get four more years of even higher taxes and a "Do as I say, not as I do" Governor..........
2) I was on my blogging sabbatical when this anniversary came and went, but in early September, the world marked the 70th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, signalling the informal start of World War II in Europe (I use the word informal because I personally think that the Spanish Civil War was the "real" start of the War). As a military history buff, I've always found it fascinating that the Poles, who were fighting with cavalry and outdated military equipment, lasted three weeks before succumbing to the Germans invading from the west and the Russians who invaded from the east. That's just about as long as the French (whose military equipment was technologically the equal of the Germans) lasted when the Wehrmacht roared across the Low Countries and into northern France in 1940. History is full of "would have, could have, should have" moments. What would have happened had the French stood their ground when the Germans re-militarized the Ruhr Valley? What would have happened had Neville Chamberlain not cravenly given up Czechoslovakia? What would have happened had France and Great Britain responded to the "back door" invitations for an alliance with the Soviet Union, instead of rebuffing them and allowing the Soviets to ally with Germany instead? How many millions of lives would have been saved had any of these events occurred?
3) I have to admit, I'm more than a little amused at the anger of the left over the supposedly harsh treatment received by President Obama on Fox News. The hypocrisy is stunning, given the vitriol directed at President Bush on CNN and MSNBC during his Administration (he's been out of office for nearly a year, and they STILL heap abuse on him). Keith Olbermann still goes in a virtual apoplectic rage at the mere mention of President Bush's name, but hey, that's okay, because he's a Republican, and Republicans are fundamentally evil, right? Sorry, but what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. While I am no fan of "anger politics", those on the left in this country shouldn't profess to be stunned when the anger and outright hostility they directed at Bush 43 for eight years now comes back at them and a Democratic President. And, don't give me the "It's racist!" argument. Bull. That's just a cheap and intellectually dishonest way of attempting to silence debate and legitimate criticism of the President's policies. Are there some opponents of President Obama who are racist? Of course, but to tar and feather all of those who are critical of him with that broad brush is both unfair and ignorant.
4) While we navel gaze here in the U.S. (and to the extent that we pay attention to events outside our borders, we're focused on Afghanistan), there are worrisome developments in Europe and Asia, and I don't mean in the Middle East or Iraq or North Korea (though things aren't good in any of those places either). I'm speaking of Turkey, which is steadily and increasingly rapidly pulling away from the West and aligning itself with the Islamist theocracies and autocracies of the Middle East. Lest we forget, Turkey is a NATO member, and up until the last few years, was a secular Muslim state with a very good relationship with Israel, a true anomaly in that region. Over the past few years, relations between Israel and Turkey have cooled dramatically, to the point where Turkey refused to allow Israeli participation in a recently-scheduled NATO air drill, a drill in which Israel had participated regularly over the last few years. As well, Turkey's relations with both Syria and Iran have warmed incredibly (then again, given President Obama's friendly gestures to both of those countries, should I be so surprised?). When you combine these signs with a growing Islamic influence in Turkish public life, people in the west should be more concerned than they are.
5) The Evil Empire (a/k/a the New York Yankees) leads the World Series three games to two as the Series heads back to the Big Apple for Game Six tomorrow night. I don't think that we'll see a Game Seven--the Yankees are extremely difficult to beat in their glorified Little League park, and as well as Pedro Martinez pitched in Game Two, I have a lot of doubt that he can do that two straight games against the Evil Empire's formidable lineup. The Phillies have already taken two more games than I thought that the would win, because I just couldn't (and still can't) see the Phillies' pitchers holding down the Yankees enough to allow Philadelphia's bats to get going, last night's 8-6 win notwithstanding. So, I would not be surprised at all to see the Yankees win World Series title #27, nauseating as it is to for me to contemplate.
6) The "Top Five" in College Football this week, with the record and last ranking in brackets:
i) Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0, #1): They haven't lost and don't deserve to drop.
ii) Texas Longhorns (8-0, #2): The Longhorns have a clear path to the B(C)S title game.
iii) Florida Gators (8-0, #3): Either Florida or Alabama will lose in the SEC title game. My money's on the Tide to get revenge for its defeat at the Gators' hands last year.
iv) Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0, #4): I still think that the Bearcats will get picked off somewhere along the way. I'm just not sure by who.
v) Iowa Hawkeys (9-0, #5): This team is the Harry Houdini of college football, with one magical escape after another. Yeah, they said the same thing about Ohio State in 2002, but that season ended with a national title for the Buckeyes. Could the same be true for Iowa in 2009?
Dropped out: No team.
7) The NFL "Top Five" and "Bottom Five" this week, with the record and last ranking in brackets:
i) New Orleans Saints (7-0, #1): The Saints are marching over every team they play, even when Drew Brees is not his normal, lethal self. All eyes are on their meeting with the Patriots in two weeks.
ii) Indianapolis (7-0, #5): Hardly impressed against a mediocre San Francisco 49ers team, but how often does Peyton Manning go an entire game without a touchdown pass? That won't happen again this season.
iii) Minnesota Vikings (7-1, #3): I still keep waiting for Brett Favre to remember that he's 40 years old. So far, no dice.
iv) Denver Broncos (6-1, #2): Got smoked 30-6 in Baltimore this past weekend, but the Broncos were due for a loss and it was a must-win game for the Ravens. I'm willing to give Denver a pass on this one.
v) New England Patriots (5-2, no ranking): Tom Brady looks like he's rounding into form. If so, watch out, rest of the NFL..............
Dropped out: New York Giants (#4)
i) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7, #3): And this coming weekend, they break out their old "creamsicle" uniforms. I guess that they really want to reinforce that image that they stink.
ii) Detroit Lions (1-6, #5): They lost...........to the St. Louis Rams..............at home. 'Nuff said.
iii) Cleveland Browns (1-7, #4): Cleveland's starting QB is Derek Anderson, who was the 35th-rated starting QB in the NFL last I checked. Remember, there are 32 teams in the NFL.
iv) St. Louis Rams (1-7, #2): Hope that the Rams enjoyed that win in Motown. They may not win another game.
v) Oakland (2-6, #5): The Raiders have been outscored 201 to 78 so far this season. Brutal.......... Dropped out: Tennessee Titans (#1), Washington Redskins (#5
8) The "Top Five" and "Bottom Five" in the NHL this week, with the record and last ranking in Brackets:
i) Pittsburgh Penguins (11-3, #1): Interestingly, the Penguins are a perfect 6-0 on the road and a rather pedestrian 5-3 at home.
ii) San Jose Sharks (10-4-1, #2): I hate it that Dan Heatley is on a great team.
iii) Colorado Avalanche (10-3-2, #3): Colorado is still playing well. The longer it does so, the more the young team will gain confidence.
iv) Buffalo Sabres (8-2-1, no ranking): Buffalo is fast and skilled.
v) Washington Capitals (8-2-4, #5): Any team with Alexander Ovechkin will always be dangerous.
Dropped out: New York Rangers (#4)
i) Toronto Maple Leafs (1-7-4, #1): Toronto is playing slightly better of late, but it is still losing games.
ii) Carolina Hurricanes (2-8-3, no ranking): This is too good a team to be playing this badly. Or is it?
iii) Florida Panthers (4-7-1, no ranking): Playing more like tabby cats so far this season.
iv) Minnesota Wild (5-9, #2): Did Jacques Lemaire really mean that much to the team?
v) Anaheim Ducks (4-6-2, no ranking): Fowl so far this season (ha ha).
Dropped out: New York Islanders (#3), Montreal Canadiens (#4), Nashville Predators (#5)
9) The Initial "Top Five" and "Bottom Five" in the NBA this season:
i) Boston Celtics (4-0): Already own a win in Cleveland to start the season.
ii) Los Angeles Lakers (2-1): I see the Lakers back in the Finals, but against who?
iii) Denver Nuggets (3-0): Improved considerably without Allen Iverson.
iv) Orlando Magic (3-0): Dwight Howard is already a monster, and he's still getting better.
v) San Antonio Spurs (2-1): I can't write off any team with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
i) New Jersey Nets (0-4): They should rename this team the Bricklayers.
ii) Los Angeles Clippers (1-4): And #1 overall pick Blake Griffin is out until January at least.
iii) New York Knicks (1-4): It'll take years to clean up Isiah Thomas' mess.
iv) Minnesota Timberwolves (1-3): It's a good thing that the Vikings are doing so well, because it allows Twin Cities residents to ignore the Wild and T-Wolves.
v) Memphis Grizzlies (1-3): Will this team EVER be good?