Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Myth That "We Know Better"

The CIA has long failed at its intelligence gathering job because it has long had a liberal mentality of "we know better," which led it to repeatedly underestimate real threats.   That mentality of "we know better" also drives Barack Obama and has led to the Obama regime's growing collapse beginning with the complete fiasco of Obamacare.

NFL Week 13 - Lucky Us

So now we're lucky enough to hit Week 13 of the season.   My picks for this lucky occassion -


LIONS over Packers - Despite maddening inconsistency and the ultimate bizarre interception against the Bucs, the Lions remains NFC North leaders and face a faltering Packers outfit that hasn't won a game since October.   Matthew Stafford is playing some inspired football and should finally ignite a run to the playoffs.

COWBOYS over Raiders - The Cowboys remain the mediocre squad they've been for years, and get a Raiders team that remains in perpetual rebuilding.

RAVENS over Steelers - It's division foe time for Baltimore and the Steelers, even with the win over the Browns, are a shell of what they were two years ago - which despite 12-4 was weaker than it looked.  Even if they win, I'm not sold the Ravens can catch the Bengals, though both Pittsburgh and Baltimore are surprisingly close to a playoff berth after their terrible starts.

Cardinals over EAGLES - The Cardinals are becoming a real playoff threat and have won their last three against the Eagles.   The Eagles, though, have been getting better as the season has gone on and Nick Foles is proving he's for real.   This could be a points bloodbath.

Dolphins over NY JETS - The Dolphins continue to play much better than people are assuming they'd play even in losses, and they get a Jets team that blew the chance at becoming the first 8-8 team without a streak longer than one game on either side; the Jets should begin freefalling, especially given their poor recent home record against the Dolphins.

Titans over COLTS - Yes, this is a rash prediction given recent history and given Andrew Luck is certainly very good, but this rivalry's games have been bitterly close of recent and the Titans want to end their losing streak to the Colts, plus Ryan Fitzpatrick got a burden of poor road games off his back; no long-term answer certainly and he's authored many a heartbreak in recent years, but he's not the bust some think of him.   Expect the winning margin to be no higher than three.  

VIKINGS over Bears - The Vikings won't make the playoffs yet they contend week after week, and the Bears have been mediocre overall.  

BROWNS over Jaguars - The Browns' slim playoff hopes took a huge hit and they looked awful again against the Steelers, but overall there's real talent here, and they should salvage something against a game Jaguars squad.

PANTHERS over Buccaneers - Speaking of game, the Bucs have begun salvaging their season, but the Panthers have become a juggernaut ready to challenge New Orleans for the division.  

Patriots over TEXANS - The watchphrase for the Patriots is to not play down to the opponent.  The liberating win over the Broncos is reminiscent of the liberating win over the Saints, but the Patriots need to guard against another crash like in their subsequent game against the Jets; Houston is out of the playoffs but Case Keenum, despite being winless and only 56% in his completions has shown real grit this year.

BILLS over Falcons - The Bills schedule gives them a break with the enemic Falcons coming to Toronto; the Bills haven't had anything to cheer about in their games at the Rogers Centre, but as bad as the Falcons are, there's reason for optimism here.

Rams over 49ERS - The Niners got the win at Washington; now they face a Rams team that's starting to look up and which is looking for payback after getting smacked around earlier this season.  

CHARGERS over Bengals - The Chargers squandered opportunities to ice a playoff spot earlier this year, they're not going to do that against a good-not-great Bengals team.

CHIEFS over Broncos - Both teams lost last week, but Alex Smith suddenly discovered some firepower while Peyton Manning is starting to look old.   Look for a score fairly close to the 41-38 shootout at Arrowhead Stadium last week.

REDSKINS over NY Giants - NFC East cellar dwellers battle it out.   RGIII has flamed out and so have Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin.    Housecleaning may follow in both clubs.

Saints over SEAHAWKS - This is my upset prediction.   Both teams are playing super; both teams can score, both teams can stop the opponent.   The Seahawks have had some issues of late up the middle, and the Saints offense is among the best the league has ever seen.   The homefield edge for the Seahawks has been famous but even with that they famously needed to score 40 earthquake-measuring points to beat the Saints in the 2010 playoffs.  

So we thus await Thanksgiving.  

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Patriots Broncos Going Forward

The Patriots-Broncos epic wrapped up Sunday's action with the Niners-Redskins Monday Night tilt the ultimate anticlimax.   What to take away from this game here -


Tom Brady truly is better than Peyton Manning - The Patriots erased a 24-0 gap, with Tom Brady throwing touchdowns amid significant winds.

Manning is running out of gas - Of Denver's 31 points, 24 came in the first half in which Manning didn't do much of anything, and for the game he managed just 150 passing yards.  Once again a game in which elements played a role, Manning came up small.

The Broncos schedule has taken a turn for the worse - They go to Kansas City, which scored 38 points in a loss to the Chargers, then host the Titans and the Chargers; all three teams have something to play for and all three showed reason for worry for a Broncos team running out of gas.   Denver finishes up at Houston and at Oakland and suddenly the assumption the Broncos will be the AFC's top playoff seed should not hold that much water.

Stevan Ridley is becoming Curvin Richards - Another fumble, this one a fumble-six, and we never heard from Ridley the rest of the game.   Suddenly people have to be concerned he won't even be on the roster after this season, especially with Bill Belichick's subtle denunciation of Ridley on WEEI's Monday afternoon interview with him.

Wes Welker showcased why the Patriots let him walk - Irrelevant to the offense - that is Wes Welker.   People gush about his volume stats but all they do is fool people.   Welker never elevated his game at a time when Denver needed him to do so, and then he made it worse by helping botch the overtime punt; this led to the winning field goal.   All season Welker has put up volume stats yet never does it when it matters; Week One vs. Baltimore where he had one catch in Denver's first three touchdown drives remains his archtypal game with Denver.

Welcome back Kenbrell Thompkins - I've heard numerous comparisons of Thompkins to Deion Branch, and certainly he is starting to fill that role; his reemergence after posting just two catches against the Jets and getting scratched against the Dolphins is welcome.  

More evidence that offense carries defense - The Patriots fell behind 24-0, so the offense after running in cement hit turbos and blasted the Patriots back into the game.   New England is ninth in the league in points allowed (with Denver 26th).  

Turnovers can be delicious - The Patriots are plus-eight (sixth in the league) in turnover differential while Denver is minus-three (20th).

Aqib Talib is even better than we thought - It was glaringly obvious Talib was playing hurt due to his hip situation.   He gutted it out and made plays, showing his toughness is higher than that of a lot of others.

Shane Vereen is the next Kevin Faulk - Largely lost in the hoopla over other players, Shane Vereen put up 91 yards of offense - 31 rushing and he caught eight passes for 60.   Slowly but surely he is becoming the next Kevin Faulk for the Patriots.

Brandon Bolden is also quietly making plays - After Ridley's benching Bolden took over the ground game with 58 yards and a score, plus an eleven-yard catch.   His stock appears to be slowly rising.

The Patriots offensive line had major problems and then corrected them - The O-line seemingly could do nothing right in the first half, then they took over the line of scrimmage after that; they had a tough time with Von Miller but overall the line fought back and that was as big a key as any.

Thus did New England and Denver showcase their strengths and weaknesses as the season approaches December.

Week 12 Gets Funky

The NFL's 12th week of 2013 showcased a jumbled AFC wildcard race and also some crazy scores.   Some takes from Week 12:


AFC EAST   -  Ugly is the word for the division's Sunday.    The Miami Dolphins continue to play hard despite the investigation of Richie Incognito yet the Panthers upended another interconference foe late.   The NY Jets managed to botch history by losing for a second straight game; they had opportunity to go 8-8 without a streak beyond one game either way.

But the Patriots turned ugly on its head after a hideous first half performance against a Denver Broncos squad that had been running out of gas the previous two weeks and which was coached by the subpar Jack Del Rio.    The Patriots responded down 24-0 by staging the largest comeback win in the club's history (the previous biggest comeback was 1984's 38-23 defeat of the Seattle Seahawks after the Seahawks led 23-0), and making it all the more delicious was the irony that former Patriot Wes Welker showcased his irrelevance to the Broncos offense even before botching the second Patriots punt of the game.   Held to four catches for 31 yards, Welker was almost completely taken out of the offense all game, a common outcome in his games with Denver.

The Patriots nonetheless have some issues.   Stevan Ridley commited the biggest sin in the eyes of the Patriots - he's an error-repeater, unable to hold onto the ball even amid explosive production on his part.   His fumble-six began the avalanche of first-half Broncos points before Brady and company erupted.   Thus Foxboro remains a place the Broncos haven't won at since Jake "The Mistake" Plummer pulled off a win - on Sunday Night Football no less.

Even the Buffalo Bills, on their bye, wound up making news with reports of maneuvering by the Rogers Group in Toronto and wealthy musician and football fan Jon Bon Jovi in seperate efforts to purchase the team down the road.   New ownership can certainly help a team with one of the best fanbases in football.

- More interesting turned out to be the AFC South as the cellar-dwellar Jaguars upended their fellow last-placers the Houston Texans, continuing the collapse of the Texans like Houston had not seen since the infamous 1994 Houston Oilers season.    That Oilers franchise meanwhile gave itself some hope as Ryan Fitzpatrick finally led a winning touchdown drive, and with the 23-19 win at Oakland the Tennessee Titans took over the sixth seed in the conference playoff race; we know Fitzpatrick is not a long-term solution and has already authored heartbreaks for the Titans, but running the table for five weeks isn't out of reach for Tennessee.  

But the biggest shock was the Colts - we knew the Cardinals are a team that just isn't going away and which is pulling off surprises, so that they beat the Colts wasn't quite a surprise; just how badly they crushed the Colts was the shock, 40-11 the final. 

- Despite having losing records the Steelers and Ravens are still in the playoff race and the Browns showcased the frustration of not advancing to the next level.   The Bengals for their part need to step it up a notch as the season's crunch time approaches while holding a two-game lead.

- The Broncos suffered the bitter loss yet are still in good shape for the conference top seed as the Chiefs were upended and the San Diego Chargers stay in the wildcard hunt in one of the best games of the season; the 41-38 Chargers win was the second-highest scoring matchup between the two (1986's 42-41 Chiefs win is the highest). 

Even with that the Broncos have reason to worry as they've been running out of gas overall as November has proceded and Peyton Manning's second-half erosion from last year may be inching into view again.   The Broncos season gets harder with tilts against the Chiefs, the Titans, and the Chargers, and they all have something to play for.

The Oakland Raiders meanwhile continue limping along as Matt McGloin shows real promise as a quarterback.  


- The Cowboys and Eagles are now in control of the division as the NY Giants show anew their inability under Tom Coughlin to win in November (12-17 in November from 2006 onward, the one good November being 2008).   One has to feel confident for the Eagles here as the Cowboys remain hamstrung by ownership and by Tony Romo.  

NFC SOUTH - This may be the best division in the league as the Panthers continue pushing the New Orleans Saints with two contests pending between them.   The Falcons have fallen out of it altogether while the Bucs are beginning to salvage something after they went old-school NFC Central against Detroit.

NFC NORTH - The Lions may wind up winning the division by default after a bitter 24-21 loss to former NFC Central division foe Tampa Bay; the Lions are 6-5 with the Bears but hold the division sweep tiebreaker, while the Packers are falling out of it.   Matthew Stafford continues to show even in losses like this that he will become an elite quarterback.

The Vikings meanwhile remain a team that competes all the time yet has just two wins and a tie to show for it.  Christian Ponder gets no respect as a quarterback yet the reality is he's produced quite respectably as a quarterback.   

NFC WEST - With the Seahawks on their bye, the division suddenly has a new wildcard contender in the Cardinals, who have refused to go away and suddenly are looking legitimately dangerous for a playoff run, even with Carson Palmer still not showing enough yet to feel confident in  him.   The Rams meanwhile are also clawing into it at 5-6 and suddenly giving reason for optimism.    The team falling out of it is the 49ers as Colin Kaepernick is now giving reason to doubt his long-term viability as the Niners face what is now a must-win against the faltering Redskins.  

And so it goes entering Thanksgiving 2013.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why Jimmie Johnson Is NOT NASCAR's Greatest

Having won a sixth Winston Cup Grand National title, Jimmie Johnson is now being hailed as the sport's greatest driver.   The problem with this argument is it's not true.

The argument for Johnson as NASCAR's greatest stems from the myth that he has competed in NASCAR's most competitive period ever.   It's the argument that more cars finish on the lead lap than ever before, and it also includes what are ostensibly massive rule changes in the racecars with the cars changing from the raked aerocoupes of 2002-7 to the COT of 2007-12 and the Generation Six racecar of 2013.   Then  there are the changes in restart procedures and implementation of NASCAR's ludicrous "Lucky Dog" rule giving back laps to cars rather than having them race to unlap themselves.

It's an easy argument to debunk.

Johnson has competed in NASCAR's Dead Lane Era - the era when passing is rare and the technology arms race has been at its highest.   Johnson's racecars have been the most technologically prepared of any racecars the sport has ever seen - nowhere has Johnson ever competed even slightly behind the eight ball.    While Daytona and Talladega have routinely broken 50 lead changes year after year, Johnson has won but is usually mediocre or worse at those tracks; everywhere else lead changes are mostly nonexistent, and Johnson has invariably gotten the benefit that aeropush does all the work for him stopping others from passing him.   Nowhere has Johnson won because of superior driving technique.

Contrast this with the "bad" old days of the Petty-Earnhardt eras, especially Petty's era, when 40 lead changes a race was not the exception, the cars were physically far harder to drive (this gives Donovan McNabb's dismissal of Johnson as not being an athlete some credibility, because the fact of Danica Patrick's career testifies that the cars are too easy to drive), and Petty had to race against Hall Of Fame-caliber drivers (Pearson, the Allisons, Cale, Isaac, Baker, Lorenzen, Waltrip, Leeroy Yarbrough, Ned Jarrett, Joe Weatherly) year in and year out; even drivers like Bonnett, Parsons, and Dave Marcis showcased real toughness.   

Johnson has done nothing but race against mediocre or worse drivers.   It is impossible to name a driver he'd raced against who warrants any mention to racing Halls Of Fame.    Not Denny Hamlin, not the Busch Brothers, not Earnhardt Jr., not Keselowski, not the Burtons - no one.    The utter lack of lead changes in Johnson's era testifies to how much lower the caliber of competition the drivers he'd raced against offered.

Johnson was also from Day One tagged as the Factory Hack, the one chosen to become Chevrolet's designated champion.   Herb Fishel, who headed GM's racing efforts and was notoriously myopic in hording effort toward a designated champion team/driver - mostly Hendrick Motorsports, though Junior Johnson briefly held that status and the RCR team was for the most part well assisted, and even RCR had to form an engineering alliance with other Chevy teams in the 1990s (a move first pioneered by Pontiac teams all but bankrupted by Fishel at that time) - played a major role in the latter 1990s putting Johnson into stock cars (first in the ASA) and once Fishel made Johnson his protege there was never any chance Johnson would go anywhere but Hendrick Motorsports (it makes nonsense of the oft-repeated story that Jeff Gordon "discovered" Johnson).  

Johnson's run as dynasty has been a nadir for NASCAR and the sport's declining popularity testifies that people see through it and don't want anything to do with a driver who deserves no praise despite his enormous success.

The Kremlin's Propaganda Campaign and Russia's Regression

Russia continues to falter back into the bad old days of Soviet Russia.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ten examples of the Law of Unintended Consquences

Government meddling continues to do exactly the opposite of what they intend.

I'll add #11 - speed limit laws increase car crashes.

Repeal seat belt laws, speed limits, etc.

Patriots-Panthers Ten Bottom Lines

The Patriots-Panthers game will get ample breakdown going forward.   Ten bottom lines to take away from this game looking forward -


1 - The Panthers were known to be a good team; the bottom line is they're better than people want to give them credit for.   They can beat New Orleans for the NFC South.

2 - Don't be fooled that the Patriots are 1-3 against teams with .500 or better records, because the Panthers out of that group have by far the most upside; the NY Jets are erratic as usual and the Bengals are good but have not shown they can be great.  

3 - Stevonne Smith is much better than people thought he was.   He hasn't slowed at all and the chip he always wears on his shoulder makes him better.  

4 - Aqib Talib of the Patriots was benched in the fourth, ostensibly because of his hip condition (what helped knock him out against New Orleans earlier this year), but it looked more like disciplinary action after his running fight with Smith.

5 - Logan Mankins is always hyped as the best Patriots guard since John Hannah yet he gets bowled over with disturbing frequency and often commits dumb fouls.   At some point he needs to be seen as a liability more than an asset.

6 - Offense is ahead of defense in the league, and after a sluggish first half offense is starting to reestablish its lead.   There is a lot of hand-wringing among Patriots fans and those in the media covering the team about how ostensibly bad the defense is, yet it's the Panthers who should be torked off about needing a botched Clete Blakeman overrule of a pass interference penalty (which was one of two blown calls that weekend) getting them the win, their offense only scoring 24 points and getting fewer yards (300) and fewer first downs (20) than the Patriots (28 first downs and 390 yards of offense), and giving up more sacks (Cam Newton was sacked three times to Tom Brady's two).   Making it more galling - the Panthers broke 30 points scored five times before their offense struggled the last two games

7 - Tom Brady once again has taken disparate parts and made them a real offense.  

8 - Kenbrell Thompkins was benched for a couple of games for New England and his return in this game was welcome, giving more pass-catching weapons for the Patriots.

9 - Tom Curran notes the Patriots offense now needs to carry the defense.   There's nothing new there - the myth that the 2001-4 Patriots had a great defense dies hard even though reviewing the actual games showed the Patriots offense was what carried those title teams (see 2001 vs. San Diego, Indianapolis, the NY Jets, New Orleans, Oakland, Pittsburgh - though that was more a special teams triumph - and St. Louis; see also 2003 vs. Tennessee twice - the regular season matchup admittedly more than the playoff game - Miami, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis in the regular season, and - supreme irony - the Carolina Panthers).

10 - Both teams face excellent prospect of 12-4 or better and division titles, and a Superbowl XXXVIII rematch ten years later is suddenly a genuine prospect.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

NFL Eleven Ups The Controversy

For Week Eleven of the NFL season there are eleven takes, but it is the twelfth that will be talked about for a long time.


1 - The AFC South is a one-team show - What makes Tennessee's loss to the Colts more galling is the Titans did what usually would be enough to win.   I'm reading a lot of Titans fans wanting to fire coach Mike Munchak, never mind that instability doesn't create winning, Munchak has his guys fighting down to the bitter end (not that many NFL coaches can honestly claim that), and the issues the Titans face ultimately have to do with Jake Locker's injuries - if he were playing I'm confident the Titans would have won.   It makes Ryan Fitzpatrick doubly maddening because he doesn't deliver enough to win yet delivers numbers worthy of a winner.  

The Jaguars and Texans have fallen off the map, and someone needs to explain why Case Keenum was benched for the inept Matt Schaub in Houston's loss to the Oakland Raiders (it's pretty interesting Andre Johnson was yelling at him after his botched last-gasp throw).  

It's obvious the Colts are for real and they are on their way to yet another AFC South title.

2 - San Diego again cannot deliver against a beatable opponent - Amid all the absurdity surrounding the Miami Dolphins they get the win thanks to inability to deliver the knockout blow by San Diego.   The Chargers have now fallen out of any realistic hope of a playoff spot and the prospect of salvaing an 8-8 record looks iffy.

3 - The Packers are toast - When they fall behind, they fail.   And the Packers can't get good quarterbacking out of their guys with Aaron Rodgers out.

4 - The Lions still haven't cleared to the next level - Blowing a winnable game against the faltering Steelers showed the Detroit Lions have not closed in on elite status yet.  The good news is they still lead the NFC North (tied at 6-4 with the Bears but holding the season-sweep tiebreaker).

5 - The Eagles are - slowly but steadily - becoming a force - They'd lost their first four home games but won five of their six road games.   Now they've won at home and their schedule the rest of the way bodes well for a 10-6 finish or better.

6 - The 49ers are falling out of the race - The roughing penalty on the Niners may be disputable, but it also illustrated that Jim Harbaough's squad can no longer hang with Seattle and may not be able to hang for a wildcard spot.  

7 - The Saints keep on keeping on in the NFC - New Orleans faces three games left on its schedule to be worried about - the two Carolina games and going to Seattle, but if anyone can shoot down the Seahawks at Son Of The Kingdome it's New Orleans.  

8 - The Falcons have to consider replacing Matt Ryan - It sounds blasphemous given Matt Ryan's superb overall career, but his play this season has been terrible even if statistically it still looks good.   Getting wasted by the Bucs was embarrassing for the Falcons.

9 - The New York Jets......well, are the New York Jets - The Jets can become the first team to ever finish 8-8 without a streak passing one game on either side of the ledger (win loss win loss win loss win loss win loss is their record after ten games).   How fitting to beat Baltimore, lose to the Dolphins, beat Oakland 45 years after The Heidi Game, lose to Carolina, beat Cleveland and then lose to Miami again.  

10 - Kansas City cannot hang with Denver's explosive offense - The Chiefs played the Broncos tough but they showed Alex Smith does not have the ability to hang with Peyton Manning or a bad Broncos defense.

11 - The Cardinals just won't go away - With Carson Palmer playing mediocre football the Cards are 6-4 and an outright winning record seems inevitable.  


But it is the Monday Night Game that will be controversial for a while.    By all accounts the final pass by Tom Brady drew a pass interference flag that was mind-bogglingly overturned by Clete Blakeman.   To that point the game had been exactly what the Patriots-Panther rivalry has been - a bitterly close contest where Superbowl XXXVIII was its apex.   It is impossible to agree with assertions that the ball was uncatchable.

This is not about the Panthers, for they keep proving they are a team that can win the Superbowl.   The Patriots certainly made multiple errors in this game (notably foolish acts by the likes of Logan Mankins and Aqib Talib, locked in a vicious showdown all night with Stevonne Smith, and yet another Stevan Ridley fumble) but they erased a 10-3 gap, outscored the Panthers 17-7 for a lengthy stretch, and even after the Panthers scored the Patriots pulled off clutch plays to get to the Panthers 18.   If the game had ended in a tie that probably would be the appropriate outcome.  

The two words that come to mind here are Ben Dreith and the bogus penalty that gave the 1976 Oakland Raiders a playoff win over the Patriots.   Some compare it to the replacement refs call against Green Bay in 2012 but the analogy is laughable; people (especially the media) wanted to hate the replacement refs from the beginning and would have agreed with Seattle in another context.   The analogy that fits here is Ben Dreith.

But it says a lot about the Patriots that this organization won't fall apart because of incompetent ownership fighting against coach Chuck Fairbanks like that latter-1970s squad ultimately did after the Ben Dreith game; instead the Patriots will refocus - especially with Peyton Manning's Broncos coming to Foxboro next Sunday Night - and fight to win.   

Who knows, the Patriots and the Panthers may get a Superbowl rematch ten years after their epic battle in 2003's AFC-NFC World Championship Game.

A Sobering Look At Women In Combat

A sobering look at women in combat and that there remains reason why women are kept out of combat zones.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Open Response To Brian France

So Brian France has sent out another open letter to NASCAR fans.   

My open letter in response:


To NASCAR Chairman Brian France:

So you've sent out another open letter basically patting yourself on the back for the fact another season has wrapped up.  You defend yet again the misbegotten Chase format, citing 2004 and Kurt Busch's forgettable championship - a championship he wrapped up just by qualifying for the Miami 400 - and the artificially close 2011 Tony Stewart-Carl Edwards title tilt as justification for the concept.

Here are a couple of facts refuting your love for the Chase -

It is an entirely artificial construct, locking 4/5ths of the field out of the last ten races in terms of the top 12 in points while locking in twelve cars for the championship despite over half of them having gained a chance solely on a mid-season points rerack.   Racing is not like other sports - it is 1 versus 42, not team versus team, and the ENTIRETY of the season is what matters, not the last ten races.

A true champion is one who wins a lot of races, not one who just racks up a best average finish during the season.   The Chase format feeds the bastardization of racing because it refuses to require winning - it refuses to require performance.

You mention the Generation Six racecar and refuse to face the obvious - it is a failure.   There was nothing on the racetrack that the Generation Six generated that was particularly memorable.   You also say you're testing possible changes for better racing.  

I can give you the rules package that will succeed at such right here -

Mandate a roof blade for all NASCAR divisions - the same roof blade used on restrictor plate tracks in Winston Cup in 2001 and in the Busch Series 2004-10.

Mandate a larger rear spoiler and make it out of clear material so drivers can see through it out the lead car's windshield.

Mandate restrictor plates and/or smaller carb spacers to more greatly restrict horsepower and thus reduce speeds; the goal not only should be to reduce the speeds to what the tracks can safely handle, but also must ultimately be to take handling out of the equation and make the draft more important, because passing is opened up when the draft is more important than handling - this has been amply demonstrated over the decades of NASCAR history and was also visible at Kansas Speedway this past season with the Truck Series and the Busch Series and yet again in the Truck Series finale at Homestead.  Underpowered and overgripped is what increases passing.
Open up radiators and cooling systems to allow tandem drafting - as witnessed in the Truck Series 250 at Talladega this past October, opening up cooling to allow tandem drafting increases passing while the evolution of tandem drafting is returning the racing back to exciting "conventional" drafting without the need for radiator restrictions.

Eliminate the Chase format altogether.

For all NASCAR classes, return to the Latford Point System used in the latter 1970s until recently, and add strong point bonuses for winning the race and for most laps led - 125 bonus points for the win, 10 points for leading, 100 points for most laps led.    This is a point system that thus requires the competitors to race for the win - and eliminates the kind of fixing incidents witnessed at Richmond's Capital City 400 this past September.

Force the disbanding of elements of multicar teams such as Hendrick Motorsports to where they field no more than two cars; this will open up the series for new team owners who are presently locked out of the series.

Encourage other manufacturers, such as Dodge and Honda, to participate in NASCAR's varied series.

Eliminate the absurd exclusivity deal with Goodyear and allow other tire brands to compete - they can provide revenue to the sport as well as race teams and increase competition; they've done so before.  They can also better solve handling issues that consistently pop up with Goodyear and its squabbles with "aggressive setups."

Switch some television and other revenue streams into NASCAR's smaller divisions such as the Trucks, the Busch Series, the Modifieds, etc.    Smaller car counts are bad for the health of these divisions, which produce superb racing just the same as the Top Three divisions in NASCAR as well as help create the next generation of big three stars.

Take away rules that give the officiating tower too much control over the racing - yellow line rules, declaring rundowns via scoring loops instead of the start/finish line - they take away from the purity of the competition and do so without reason.

The sport needs to get better because there is simply too much anger and bitterness toward it now to be able to enjoy it.   The days when 60 lead changes was a norm in the sport need to return; the days when fans could support drivers instead of hate them need to return.   The days when teams could maintain themselves in all of NASCAR's varied divisions instead of just barely scrape by need to return.

Thank you,

Mike Daly

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week Eleven Arrives

So we have Week Eleven in the season and already the Patriots and Jets have a potential fight for Ed Reed, cut by the Texans. While that sorts out, picks for the week - 



Titans over Colts - The Titans are struggling after another bitter loss to the Jaguars and now face the Colts having to use Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback.   Fitz is a hair-pulling quarterback who fails even as he puts up promising numbers.   But the Colts themselves are coming off a bigger embarrassment, getting crushed by the mediocre Rams and I'm still confident in the Titans defense.   The division has been tighter than it may have looked, and I'll go out on a limb and pick the Titans, whose last Thursday Night appearance was last year's shocker over Pittsburgh.

NY Jets over Bills -  The Bills actually filed a complaint about the schedule to the league office, an embarrassing act betraying an organizational inability to figure out how to win or how to toughen up.   They should be a lot better than this as they face the radically uneven Jets; but it's looking like the Jets will again become the AFC East's playoff pest.

Ravens over Bears - Neither team is all that good; the Ravens show more promise than the ever-overrated Bears.

Bengals over Browns - The Browns got their win in this rivalry; the Bengals need to keep winning after falling short in a game they forced into overtime, and this could be a high-scoring affair.

Lions over Steelers - The Steelers got a needed win last week but the Lions are now on a march.

Texans over Raiders - Houston has collapsed and didn't do what they were supposed to do against the Cardinals; this time they get the Raiders, who aren't good even though they couldn't quite stay dead against the NY Giants.

Jaguars over Cardinals - The Cards are somehow 5-4; that won't cut it having to travel to the east coast against a Jaguars team that finally broke through.

Eagles over Redskins - Shockingly the Eagles are winless at home so far this season; they can rectify that against a fading Skins team.

Buccaneers over Falcons - The Bucs have been awful but the Falcons have worse problems.

Chargers over Dolphins  - The Dolphins blew it on Monday Night, face a possible blowup of their front office, and the Chargers now are in must-win mode.

NY Giants over Packers - The Giants have no realistic chance at the playoffs, but it's the Packers who have the real problem - they're a falling team.

Seahawks over Vikings - This should be a better-than-expected game with the Vikings showing fight almost every week and the Seahawks winning more on guile than muscle lately; the Bucs attack plan likely will be studied by Minnesota.

Saints over 49ers - The 49ers no longer are the sure thing for the Superbowl a lot of us thought they'd be, and the Saints, despite a burgeoning challenge from the Panthers, have regained a lot of their championship muscle.   This nonetheless should be a good game as the Niners aren't going to go down easy.

Chiefs over Broncos - I'm going out on a limb again given the explosiveness of the Broncos offense, but there may be more to Peyton Manning's physical issues than the Broncs are letting on; his arm strength weakened noticeably late last year and now he has an ankle issue, plus Andy Reid finally figured out how to beat him last time he played him (I know, it was 2010 with the Eagles) and the Chiefs have kept defying the odds this year.  

Patriots over Panthers - The Panthers are for real, and this game may bring back memory of Superbowl XXXVIII.   Offensively they're only 15th in points scored, while the Patriots are now eighth in points scored and seventh in points allowed (the Panthers are second).   The Patriots have their bye and usually win coming out of it, plus their offense has gained much of its 2007-12 swagger back.   An intriguing angle is Panthers Hall Of Famer to be Stevonne Smith; according to 2003 Panthers teammate Jermaine Wiggins, Smith is easy to rattle because he refuses to back down from a fight and thus can be taken out of his game.  

I like both teams; I expect the game to be decided by a very-late field goal.  I think the Patriots have a slight edge based on having gone through such big games before.


So we await Thursday Night and the start of Week Eleven.

CNN: Obamacare Enrollment Numbers 'Complete Disaster'

SITYS - aka we all knew this was going to happen.


The Obama regime is a regime that glories in laziness.

Obamacare Nudge Comes to Shove

Social engineering routinely fails - and Obamacare is social engineering.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Introversion isn't Obama's problem, his inability to tell the truth is

Whenever Obama proves a liar and a failure out come pieces explaining it away.

Why the President Will Euthanize HealthCare.gov in 2014

The mistakes that led to its launch are being repeated.

NFL Week Ten Postmortems

Week Ten of the NFL season turned out to be a week of surprises.    We take a look at some items of interest from the week -


The Titans just can't catch a break - Jake Locker was injured early in Tennessee's 29-27 loss to the previously-winless Jaguars and it turned out to be a foot injury that has ended his season.   That the Titans showed real fight anyway is commendable and may still serve them well down the road this season with the Indianapolis Colts (themselves looking a bit iffy after Jeff Fisher's bludgeoning of them) coming up Thursday night; it certainly shows the Titans have built a team that can contend for playoffs and it also shows that Locker is developing into a genuine threat as a quarterback - it reminds me of Matthew Stafford's rough first two seasons as a starter in Detroit.  

Confidence in Ryan Fitzpatrick going forward is at best iffy given poor play on his part so far (I'm a little surprised we haven't seen a rumor of a workout for Vince Young).    But right now he's all they have and the galling part of his game is he's shown foolishness but also real ability.   If he can finally get his game going in the right direction the Titans have a shot.


No 0-16 this year, but Suck For Johnny lives - The Jaguars and the Bucs finally showcased that they have good players and are capable of winning; the Bucs at times looked like the 2002 squad on defense and Mike Glennon has shown promise all season.   Chad Henne showed good form but is not the future for the Jaguars; that future lies with one of the hotshots who may enter the 2014 draft, with Johnny Manziel likely atop Jacksonville's (and others') draft boards and Drew Brees giving Johnny Football his endorsement.  

The Suck For Johnny (or Raymond Anthony McCarron - aka AJ McCarron) Sweepstakes appeared to get bigger with a pregame report that Ben Roethlisberger wants to be traded from Pittsburgh, but that story Roethlisberger immediately shot down after Pittsburgh's win over Buffalo.    Regardless, Pittsburgh's season realistically is just playing out and their collapse since losing to Tim Tebow has been striking.

Also worth noting is Minnesota's 34-27 win over the Skins; the Vikings have struggled badly on defense yet have showcased an underrated offense; the Vikes are another team a couple of tweaks away from going for the playoffs.


The Cowboys continue to flounder with Tony Romo and Jerry Jones - The Saints were embarrassed by losing to the NY Jets, so they went to work to fix problems by crushing the Cowboys.   It showed again the Saints are back and the Cowboys are going nowhere.   Despite just six INTs Tony Romo has shown - again - zero growth as a quarterback, and Jerry Jones' inability to let real football people run the team continues to stifle what was once America's Team.


The Packers remain front-running frauds - Their backup quarterback was lost so the backup's backup had to play, and now the Packers have brought back Matt Flynn, he of 2010's thriller with the Patriots and 2011's mind-blowing 45-41 shootout win over the Lions.    Amid all that the Packers continue to show they're not that good - if they can jump out to a big lead over a mediocre or worse team they look like world-beaters; when they can't put a team away or they have to stage a comeback, they're toast.  


Give it up, Jay Cutler - He continues to put up volume stats and then fail to win critical games; he came up short again against the Lions.    At what point will the Bears (and the league) figure out Jay Cutler sucks?


The Seahawks - finally - take the next step - For over a decade they were the worst road team among contending squads in the league; this year the Seahawks under Pete Carroll have become and actual good road team, winning five of their six road games before their Bye.   The Hawks remain an overwhelming George Halas Trophy favroite.


The Panthers are for real - But a team that may be able to knock down the Seahawks is the Panthers; their grinder of a win over a 49ers team they've beaten eleven of eighteen career times showed their defense is legitimate.  


The Falcons now have to question Matt Ryan - A quarterback who has not taken the next step is Matt Ryan, and the Falcons' season looks over already; they may have to take a hard look at Ryan down the road because it was obvious that he'd plateaued early on in his career; whenever the playoffs arrived Ryan never showed capable of winning, even in the one game (in five tries) he actually won.   Now with Atlanta's season falling part Ryan looks less like the future than the past.


The Eagles may now be getting in gear - The Eagles under new coach Chip Kelly endured a very rough start with six road games in the first ten weeks; the irony is all five of Philly's wins so far were road wins.   With Nick Foles the Eagles more and more look like they're getting in gear, and in the mess that is the 2013 NFC East they can swipe the division away.


The Cardinals just won't stay dead - The Arizona Cardinals are 5-4 and have already defied expectations; their defense has been better than expected and the offense has produced enough to win, despite poor ball security from Carson Palmer.  


The NFC playoff race is an actual race - Shockingly, ten NFC teams are 5-5 or better and it is legitimately a nine-team battle for five playoff spots (barring a collapse of the 9-1 Seahawks for the NFC West; though 7-2 I'm not confident the Saints can put away the Panthers for the South).   Contrast this with the AFC, which has largely dominated the inter-conference matchups but which has only six teams with winning records and no one at .500 - this is where last week's losses by the Titans, Chargers, and Dolphins hurt more.  


We will of course learn more as Week 11 beckons.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Week 10 Amid Incognito-Martin Contretemps

NOTE: This has been updated since its original publication.

The NFL hits Week 10 and the big story remains Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin - and it's gotten bigger because it's gotten a lot more complex.    For the picture from multiple stories emerging is radically different from the narrative we've been getting.   Noticeably the story that Incognito was extorting Martin (specifically for a trip to Las Vegas) and perhaps one other player is turning out not to be true (see former player Matt Chatham and his analysis here).

And the common thread in the varied stories  - shown in teammates of Incognito all but siding with him on the issue of his racial taunts - is that Jonathan Martin is less a victim than a soft, self-important little twat.   Certainly the way Martin has handled the whole issue (he's now lawyering up, a giveaway of guilt rather than innocence) and the way he has played portray him as someone who indeed is soft and unreliable (and apparently makes excuses for his poor play) as a player or teammate (the term "bust" as a player I'm now hearing), someone who has no right to be in an NFL locker room or on an NFL offensive line.  

The story has surfaced that Dolphins coaches told Incognito that Martin was soft, showed no work ethic or toughness, and he needed to be toughened up.    Now bullying and extortion are illegitimate (not to mention illegal), but the story has somehow transmuted into a broader debate about "the culture in the locker room," when it ought to be only about Incognito and Martin.    The ethic about toughening up teammates is manifestly a good one;  bullying and extortion certainly are not positive ethics and should be purged from locker rooms.  

Richie Incognito has been controversial and may indeed be a thug, but Jonathan Martin more and more emerges as someone who does not warrant that much sympathy - if not outright the problem.


As for picking games -

BYES: - New England, NY Jets, Cleveland, Kansas City

Vikings over Redskins  - of all the teams in the league the Vikings have played the best without much to show for it, blowing multiple winnable games.   The Skins are decent but not much more and they don't look strong enough to win many road games.

Bills over Steelers
- Pittsburgh can play well but the Steelers have shown no ability to string together anything for success.   Buffalo is not ready for prime time and won't be for awhile, but they look better than the moribund Steelers.

Bengals over Ravens
- Cincinnati has hit on a groove, though they got sidetracked in Miami and may not be stout enough to win a playoff game.   The Ravens have fallen apart in a rebuilding year.

Lions over Bears
- The Bears are awful on defense and their quarterbacking is mediocre at best.   Detroit has shown elite competitiveness with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush finally has the fit he's needed.  

Eagles over Packers
- Aaron Rodgers is out perhaps for the year and Seneca Wallace is roadkill for an Eagles team needing all the momentum it can find.

Colts over Rams - The Rams have regressed from last year and the Colts have improved somewhat.  

Titans over Jaguars - This is the kind of roadkill game the Titans can use to get more out of their squad; the Titans can make a run to the playoffs and it needs to start here.

NY Giants over Raiders - Neither team is any good; take the home team.

Seahawks over Falcons - The Seahawks are vulnerable up the middle and can be manhandled at the line of scrimmage, but the Falcons have collapsed in front of us and they now need to start questioning Matt Ryan, who looks to be regressing.

Panthers over 49ers - The Niners are tough, but historically struggle against the Panthers.   Cam Newton's maturity issues of last year appear gone and the Panthers can challenge New Orleans for the NFC South.

Chargers over Broncos - This should be a shootout; the Chargers have been uneven but the Broncos have to put up with a mediocre head coach in Jack Del Rio and a defense that can't hang with anyone, plus San Diego still smarts over three straight losses to Denver.

Texans over Cardinals - While the Cards have been able to win despite themselves, Houston comes in with a very promising new quarterback in Case Keenum, who was superb despite Houston blowing a big lead to Indianapolis.

Saints over Cowboys - Despite losing to the NY Jets, the Saints are still an elite team, and the Cowboys aren't close to elite.

Dolphins over Buccaneers - Even with the locker room brouhaha, the Dolphins managed to win against Cincinnati and they get a much weaker opponent that blew a winnable game against the Seahawks.

And so it goes for Week 10.

Fantasy Despot Syndrome and The Healthcare Site

The Obamacare site's spectacular failure has to do not with technical issues but managerial ones.

Questions They Won’t Answer

Obama won't come clean on Benghazi because he was unprepared for the attack and he let the enemy escape.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Sebelius' Fantasies, and Health Care Reform Realities

Kate Sebelius did nothing but spew fantasies as health care reform hits reality that makes Obamacare doomed.

Week Nine Blowouts And Bullies

Week 9 began with a bizarre finish won by the Miami Dolphins, and it's ending with an even more disturbing story involving the Miami Dolphins. That leads off this week's takes on the league -


The story that Dolphins O-lineman Richie Incognito has been bullying other teammates, notably Jonathan Martin, to where Martin left the team, stories exploded about teammates extorted out of all their money, and Incognito blew up at Adam Schefter's report on this burgeoning scandal, ought to serve as a league-wide (and sports-wide) indictment of the culture of hazing rookies - basically torturing rookies for no reason beyond the sadistic enjoyment of the veterans. Hazing is basically selling out your own teammates; I've heard the defense from former Patriot Matt Chatham to the effect that hazing is about making rookies learn toughness to be able to handle situations. I don't buy it, because breeding toughness and courage in players can be done without selling out your own teammates.    And it comes from a Dolphins team that, despite not being up to challenging the Patriots, is nonetheless on a steady upswing, shown in the overtime win over the Bengals.

 As for the games and teams with Week Nine -


- They have long been the best team at winning while rebuilding and they took a major step forward against Pittsburgh; notable is Aaron Dobson, who has grown as a receiver to the point where he changed the route on his 81-yard score, raised his hand a la fellow Marshall alum Randy Moss to signal the change and that he was open, and Brady nailed him.

NY Jets - They remain consistently inconsistent - they've won one week and lost the next week every week.

Bills - They simply cannot advance their game, even with genuine and commendable efforts to do so.

Steelers - It is a lost season for Pittsburgh and they have major issues in their roster construction.

Ravens - It appeared before the season the Ravens would go through a transition year; it's obvious this counts as one of the rougher ones.

Bengals - The Bengals may have some issues with the O-line to have given up the safety like that.   They're still on a good path, though.

Browns - It may be going in fits and starts, but the Browns are showing improvement; 2013 may not be a contending year, but these aren't the same old Browns.

Colts - They're still the Colts yet this win they didn't really deserve.

Titans - Their schedule is 7th-easiest the rest of the year, and they're 4-4 even amid losing Jake Locker for two games; there's reason for optimism for the Titans.  Locker had a bit of an ugly game but still put up enough to win; Chris Johnson broke out for once and needs to do it again.

Texans - Blowing a winnable game like they did with three missed FGA's is a bitter pill to swallow, especially as Case Keenum showcased superb effort and looks like he can take over that team.  2013 is a lost year; the Texans can use the rest of the year to develop and improve Keenum for down the road.

Chiefs - People will now see if the Chiefs can handle the iron of their schedule.

Broncos - The hits came hard with John Fox's illness; they now have Jack Del Rio as interim coach, not a good sign as his defenses have been gashed and he's done little to prove he isn't a boob.

Chargers - How is it the Chargers cannot establish any kind of momentum?   Losing to the Redskins was ugly for a team as talented as the Chargers are even though there remains reason for optimism.

Raiders - It's still the same old Raiders, once again giving up a record-setting performance by an opponent.


Cowboys  -   They keep winning even though they're not stopping anyone and they keep proving between Tony Romo and Dez Bryant that they're not capable of it.

Redskins - They're not a playoff team, yet they somehow pull off improbable wins.

Eagles - Seven touchdowns from Nick Foles - weren't the Eagles supposed to be doing this all season?

Panthers - They will now challenge for the division.

Falcons - Matt Ryan is now declining as a quarterback and the Falcons' roster construction approach is blowing up in their face.

Saints - The Saints have not been consistent enough to be the juggernaut they once were, and now the Jets have shown the rest of the league how to beat them.

Buccaneers - Blowing the ultimate opportunity they had will get Greg Schiano fired.

Packers - That they won four straight was mildly surprising; that they're a house of cards was evident when Aaron Rodgers was starting, and now with Rodgers possibly out for several weeks the Packers' season suddenly isn't so sure a thing with Seneca Wallace now starting for the time being and not particularly proving himself.

Bears - The defense is in the bottom quarter of the league, but the issue remains Jay Cutler, still inconsistent and looking worse with Josh McCown's solid performance in the Monday Night win over the Packers. 

Vikings - Head shaking that they keep losing even amid genuinely quality performances by their guys.

Lions - Though on their Bye, it's worth noting how good the Lions now are to put up 488 passing yards and thus nobody notice they still rushed for 143 yards against the Cowboys.   Matthew Stafford is becoming an elite quarterback in front of everyone's eyes.

Seahawks - The Seahawks show toughness but they're also flirting with disaster; more and more they are getting weaker, especially when attacked up the middle.

Rams - Zac Stacy is the breakout story of a bitter loss; Stacy may become a star for a Rams team whose season may now be lost.

So we await Week 10 with the ice cream headache of parity in the NFC North.