Saturday, April 17, 2010

No Win Situations

Update: This devastating piece in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Sportswise, I am not a happy camper, and it doesn't look like I'm going to be one for a long time. The NBA playoffs are beginning, and what was supposed to be a title defense by a dominant Lakers team is starting to look like a slow motion train wreck. Although with all their injuries and fatigue, and the terrible play lately that has given the rest of the league multiple ways to beat them, they may not even get out of the first round. It's that bad. Even if they win against a younger, faster Oklahoma team with a dynamic superstar in the making, it's going to be a struggle and they're likely to look lousy doing it. And even if they struggle all the way through seven game playoff series, they're not likely to beat Cleveland for the championship, if it comes down to that, and it probably will.

But the Lakers prospects are nothing compared to the shocking situation of the Steelers. The last time Steeler Nation rejoiced, it was the touchdown pass from Big Ben to Santonio Holmes that won the Super Bowl. Now the Steelers have practically given away their best receiver because of one off-the-field screwup too many, and their star quarterback is getting a reputation as a star jerk, at best.

Ben's birthday (subject of a post here, I note with some chagrin) was celebrated with some apparently unsavory activity that led to an accusation of rape. Celebrity sports figures are easy targets for false accusations--some Steelers stars have been victimized that way, including (if memory serves) Jerome Betis, and Ben had a pretty good reputation. So I kept quiet until the police investigation was over. Now Ben was not charged, but he's hardly been exonerated of bad behavior. Steeler Nation is not happy with him.

How all this winds up--fall, redemption, whatever--it's going to be messy, and it ain't going to be football. If the Steelers don't trade him (unlikely they will, but possible), he faces suspension in the next few weeks--at first the bet was for a game or two to start the season, but now it may be more. With two stars returning from injury, the Steelers' defense was looking to resume its dominance, and acquisitions and signings suggested that the offense would be somewhat different, but better. Now next season looks like a bust already. The better teams in the division strengthened themselves--in fact, a lot of teams outside Philadelphia strengthened themselves in the off-season. So the Steelers can't afford to lose their star quarterback for four or more games and expect to compete. It looks like another year without a playoff run.

Maybe the Steelers will rise above it all and it will be exciting, and/or the Lakers will return to their dominant form of earlier this season, but neither is likely anymore, and in any case, the road maybe too painful to watch, at least for me and my relatively low tolerance for that kind of drama in something I know I shouldn't be wasting time on. They are all going to be multi-millionaires without me.

The bottom line is that I'm going to have to come up with another way to waste my time. Besides blogging.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The morning after the April 15 Tea Party, a few facts:

Percentage of Americans whose federal taxes are lower this year: 98

Number of years out of the eight years GW Bush was President that taxes for most Americans were higher than now: 8

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Stealth Public Option?

A Kos diarist examining a Kaiser Foundation summary of the health insurance reform law found a provision concerning the health insurance Exchanges that will "Require the Office of Personnel Management to contract with insurers to offer at least two multi-state plans in each Exchange. At least one plan must be offered by a non-profit entity." The "non-profit entity" suggests a kind of stealth public option, though some of the big players--and current abusers--are technically non-profits. However, it probably further ensures that the individual mandate challenge won't be found unconstitutional, if it doesn't require that citizens buy a product from a profit-making company.

Another Kos poster points to several provisions that encourage insurers and the health care system generally to lower costs, and makes health care more affordable.

At the same time, the fact that GOPers smell the possibility of gains in November, plus the one-party vote that passed the bill, is obviously encouraging a continuing opposition by means of lies and extreme rhetoric, and probably emboldens insurance companies to do what they can to subvert the law.

On the other hand, the first congressional electoral test--in which a GOPer tried to inflame and incite Florida seniors on the law, as well as generally insulting the President--didn't work: the Democrat who was supposed to win, did win, with more than 60% of the vote.