Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NFL Weekly: Super Bowl XLIII Preview, Kurt Warner, & More

Super Bowl XLIII Preview:

Arizona Cardinals (9-7) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): The Super Bowl is less than a week away, but I still don't have a good feel on this game, and I wouldn't be surprised if either team won. The matchup on paper is not very appealing to me, but I actually think the game could turn out to be a pretty damn competitive one. When analyzing this one, it really doesn't make sense to look at the regular seasons stats for each team, because the Cardinals are pretty much a whole different team right now. The question is if the extra week off will cause them to lose the edge they've had all season on defense.

Here are a few thoughts on the game, and only a few because, quite frankly, it doesn't interest me all that much:

Kurt Warner: Anyone doubting the chances of the Cardinals in this game needs to remember two things. The first being that QB play is a major factor in who wins football games and the second is that Kurt Warner is a pretty damn good QB since he is former Super Bowl champ and 2-time MVP. If Warner has time to throw and protects the ball then the Cardinals should be able to score points against the Steelers and then it will be up to the Cardinals defense to get things done. Don't forget that Ben Roethlisberer is no slouch either with a 7-2 career playoff record, however, he did struggle in his one Super Bowl appearance.

Defense: The Steelers defense is based on pressuring the QB and creating turnovers and it's likely that the Cardinals are spending most of their practice time getting ready for the different looks that the Steelers are going to throw at their offensive line. I also think it will be tough for the Cardinals to run on the Pittsburgh defense and they might have to resort to throwing some designed short screen passes to their WR and RB. For the Cardinals, we'll have to wait and see if their defense is going to play as well as it has throughout the playoffs. If they can duplicate the success they've had, then I think they are going to be tough to beat.

Top 5 Most Likely to Win Super Bowl MVP:

1) Kurt Warner
2) Larry Fitzgerald
3) Ben Roethlisberger
4) Troy Polamalu
5) Adrian Wilson

Super Bowl XLIII Prediction: I've decided I'm picking the Arizona Cardinals to win it all. I didn't think they'd get past the first round, nevermind make the Super Bowl, but hey they are here now, so why not pick them to win it all? They have a better offense than the Steelers and their defense was decent all season and seems to have picked it up to a higher level in the playoffs. Plus, it's not like the Steelers offense is all that prolific. The Cardinals have plenty of playmakers on defense with Adrian Wilson, Antrel Rolle, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Betrand Berry, Darnell Dockett and Karlos Dansby all solid defense players. Are they as good as the Steelers' defense? No, but the Steelers offense isn't as good as the Cardinals offense either. Yes, defense wins championships, but I think the Cardinals defense will show up to play to complement their offensive attack. Or maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that this game will be interesting.

Arizona Cardinals 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Charli Rose Show: A conversation with David Axelrod

A conversation with David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to the President Obama
with David Axelrod in Current Affairs on Monday, January 26, 2009

Government must release cabinet minutes on lead-up to Iraq war

Information tribunal orders publication of minutes following battle by campaigners

A British soldier stands guard in a location south of Basra, Iraq, in April 2003. Photograph: Dan Chung

Secret government discussions about the Iraq war are to be disclosed after an information tribunal today ordered the release of cabinet minutes from 2003.

The decision follows a lengthy battle by campaigners, who have argued that the public interest in learning what was said about the planned invasion outweighs the public interest in cabinet discussions being kept secret.

Ministers have strongly opposed the request, arguing that the Freedom of Information Act was never intended to allow for the publication of information of this kind.

The tribunal upheld a decision by the information commissioner that details of the sessions on 13 and 17 March should be disclosed.

The meetings considered the highly controversial issue of whether the invasion was allowed under international law. Lord Goldsmith, who was attorney general at the time, initially suggested that the legality of the invasion was legally questionable before subsequently issuing legal advice saying that it would be compatible with international law.

This has given rise to persistent claims that ministers were not fully briefed on the possible legal pitfalls of an invasion.

Today's ruling does not necessarily mean the minutes will be published because the government has 28 days to appeal.The tribunal said that the exceptional circumstances relating to the two cabinet meetings meant that publication was justified and that it would not set a precedent for the publication of all cabinet minutes.

Last year Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, ordered the government to publish the minutes. The government appealed to the information tribunal, which adjudicates when official bodies are unwilling to comply with rulings from the commissioner.

Ministers will now have to decide whether to publish the minutes, to appeal to the high court, or to issue a ministerial veto banning publication. Under the Freedom of Information Act the government has the right to refuse publication as a last resort, but this veto power has not been used since the act came into force in 2005.

Thomas said today: "I welcome the careful consideration that the information tribunal has given to this important issue. I am pleased that the tribunal has upheld my decision that the public interest in disclosing the official cabinet minutes in this particular case outweighs the public interest in withholding the information. Disclosing the minutes will allow the public to more fully understand this particular decision. I am also pleased that the tribunal reached the same conclusion as I did in relation to the publication of the handwritten notes of the meetings."

In its ruling the tribunal said: "We have decided that the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the formal minutes of two cabinet meetings at which ministers decided to commit forces to military action in Iraq did not, at the time when the Cabinet Office refused a request for disclosure in April 2007, outweigh the public interest in disclosure. We have reached that decision by a majority and not without difficulty.

"We concluded that there was a strong public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of information relating to the formulation of government policy or ministerial communications (including, in particular, the maintenance of the long-standing convention of cabinet collective responsibility).

"However, this is an exceptional case, the circumstances of which brought together a combination of factors that were so important that, in combination, they created very powerful public interest reasons why disclosure was in the public interest."

Although the tribunal said that the minutes ought to be published, it also accepted that some sections should be redacted, or edited, "to avoid unnecessary risk to the UK's international relations".

The tribunal also ruled that "certain informal notes" taken alongside the formal cabinet minutes did not need to be published.

In its ruling, the tribunal said that the controversy about Goldsmith's legal advice was a factor in persuading it to come down in favour of publication.

"The decision to commit the nation's armed forces to the invasion of another country is momentous in its own right, and ... its seriousness is increased by the criticisms that have been made (particularly in the Butler report) of the general decision-making processes in the cabinet at the time," the tribunal said.

"There has also been criticism of the attorney general's legal advice and of the particular way in which the March 17 opinion was made available to the cabinet only at the last moment and the March 7 opinion was not disclosed to it at all."

The Cabinet Office now has 28 days to decide whether to appeal to the high court against the ruling.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The information commissioner has just made an announcement on this and we are considering our response."

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, said: "Rather than have items of evidence dragged into the public domain piece by piece the government should set up a full-scale privy council inquiry into the origins and conduct of the Iraq war.

"The sooner we can learn the lessons of the war the sooner we can apply them. It is imperative to begin an inquiry before memories have faded, emails have been deleted and documents have disappeared."

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman, said: "This is a very welcome and long overdue decision. The public clearly has the right to see the minutes. Their publication may help answer some critical questions, and certain people may find themselves in an even more difficult position.

"The government must now accept this decision, and publish the minutes without delay."

Kids Will Be Kids Unless They’re Black

In a society where the police have said they are going to start cracking down hard on black youth who are wearing their pants too low or sagging as it’s called, it is a wonder to me why in the Baltimore sun it seems that college and university presidents would like to drop the drinking age from 21 to 18 citing that kids are drinking anyway. They claim that not only are they drinking they are binge drinking and you can’t really talk to them about this because they won’t talk since the acts are illegal.

Also, that the crimes associated with binge and underage drinking is quickly rising. These crimes are physical and sexual assaults and DUI. Not to mention cases of alcohol poisoning are rising just as fast as the crime. And according to US Department of Health Human Services white non-Hispanic youth are the clear majority of those students with underage drinking. At more than three times that of black youth and twice as much as Hispanic youths.

So it seems that the message we send to black kids is that if you so much as where your clothes in a manner we deem inappropriate which they say is disorderly conduct, we will crack down on you with the full force of the law and not only ticket you but arrest you if necessary.

Yet, according to William R Brody, President of Johns Hopkins, “Kids are going to drink whether it’s legal or illegal,” so we should just lower the drinking age to 18. But, let’s not enforce the laws on these innocent young white kids who are only breaking laws that have been on the books for years. Yet, they had to enact new laws to make sure that the massive crackdown on those saggy pants youth had some legality to it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I hate saggy pants as much as or probably more than the next person. But the message of hypocrisy that is being sent out is blatant and stinks to high heaven. If you are black we will crackdown on you and while we are at it we will enact laws about your pants so that we can make it even more widespread.

While instead of just enforcing the damn laws that are in place on these white youth, we want to change those laws in order to allow white youths to continue to be given every opportunity to excel even though their lack of good judgment is leading to even more laws being broken.

Of course one could say that kids will be kids but then doesn’t this also go for the black kids who are just following a fashion fad no matter how stupid and idiotic it is. I mean how many times have you heard that saggy pants lead to DUI, physical or sexual assaults? So what is the reason besides blatant racism that we would rather change the drinking laws than to actually enact them on white youths all the while screaming from the roof tops that we plan to crack down hard on black youth for a fashion faux pas?

In Flint MI the police chief says that black youth who are wearing their pants below the waist gives officers “probable cause to search saggers for other crimes, such as weapon and drug possession.” Now the cops can easily get around the 4th amendment because who can argue with having bad fashion sense not being probable cause enough to search.

Yet somehow we don’t have enough gumption to be able to burst into these college parties and start dragging those drunk ass white kids downtown for a bit of justice. And while they are at it I bet they find a whole mess of them will have saggy pants that they can then search for all sorts of who knows what. And I bet you that they would find a LOT of who knows what on those kids. But that would be too much like equal justice in the eyes of the law.

We don’t want to stigmatize and subject white youth with criminal prosecutions for the crimes that we KNOW they are committing. It’s easier to just go ahead and change any laws that they violate in order to preserve their good standing in society. We wouldn’t want white youth to actually have their futures tainted with criminal records because they were made to pay for their crimes. And we wonder why blacks are largely over represented in the prison system. I guess this is just a reminder that kids will be kids, that is unless they are black.

Sports Video: Kobe Bryant 2008-2009 Highlights to Date

Despite not really getting some of the attention that LeBron, D-Wade and others are getting this season, last seasons MVP is showing that he is still one of the best players in the game. Here's a video highlighting Kobe's contributions so far this season.

LeBron Commands You

Worst of the Night: January 26, 2009

Nick Young: He aggressively pursue balls.

The Washington Generals: Henry Abbott was saying yesterday that there are three tiers of teams in the East: The Celtics, Craboilers and Magic are at the top, every other team in the East except Washington is in the middle, and the Wizards are alone on their own tier at the bottom. And last night's game was a prime example of why this is. For starters, the Wizards allowed Shaq to finish with a game-high 29 points despite it being the second night of a back-to-back for The Big Contract. Apparently Phoenix is beginning to realize they're in danger of missing the playoffs this year, so it looks like Shaq being able to take games off is no longer part of the game plan. On top of letting Shaq eat them up, after trailing by only two at home entering the fourth quarter, the Wiz made only 6 field goals the rest of the way, letting Phoenix outscore them 28-14 to finish out the game. The loss combined with the Thunder's win (see below) made them, officially, the worst team in the NBA. But, to be fair, you can't be expected to win many games when your starting point guard is...

Mike James: 36 minutes, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, zero points. Either Terry Porter's supposed commitment to D has turned Steve Nash into a defensive juggernaut, or Mike James is who we thought he was. I'm not sensing much seller's remorse from New Orleans on the trade they made to unload him awhile back.

The Big Cactus and Tough Juice Man Love: You just have to kiss a head that cute.

1/26/09 President Obama Interview with Al Arabiya Muslim TV STATION PART 1 and 2

1/27/09 President Obama Interview with Al Arabiya Muslim TV STATION PART 1

President Obama expressed optimism yesterday about the prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but he said a peace accord will take time and require new thinking about the problems of the Middle East as a whole.

Obama's comments came during his first formal television interview as president, with a correspondent from al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite network that is one of the largest English-language TV outlets aimed at Arab audiences.

The president sat for the interview, at the White House, moments after officially dispatching George J. Mitchell, his special envoy for Middle East peace, to the region last evening

Part 2

Deadly Bombing, Israeli Attack Shake Gaza Truce

Palestinian militants detonated a bomb next to an Israeli army patrol along the border with Gaza, killing a soldier and straining cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on the eve of a visit by President Barack Obama's new Mideast envoy. (Jan. 27)