Monthly archives: December, 2009

Hutchins’ Foot Boots Pitt Panthers Past UNC

From ESPN:

Thanks to a late-game rally in front of a hostile crowd, the Panthers made a strong case they’ve returned to prominence.

Lewis rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown to move up in the record book and Dan Hutchins kicked a 33-yard field goal with 52 seconds left, giving 17th-ranked Pitt a 19-17 victory over North Carolina on Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Winning 10 games for the first time since the Marino era in 1981, Pitt (10-3) overcame a disappointing loss to Cincinnati three weeks ago that cost it a spot in a BCS bowl.

"It’s back," Lewis said of Pitt football, moments after he was voted bowl MVP. "We’re not satisfied with just 10 wins. We want to get more next year."

The last win in 2009 required a remarkable 17-play drive that lasted nearly 9 minutes, included a key fourth-down conversion, a costly penalty against North Carolina and 13 runs by the dynamic Lewis.

Eclipsing Dorsett’s freshman rushing record of 1,686 yards in the first quarter, Lewis also moved past Craig Heyward into second on the school’s single-season list with 1,799 yards. Dorsett rushed for 2,150 yards in 1976 when he won the Heisman Trophy and Pitt won its last national title.

"It’s tough to describe what Dion has accomplished," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He’s special."

I am so happy for the University of Pittsburgh. The Panther defense really played a tough game.

My father always reminds me that we were at Pitt Stadium and watched Tony Dorsett run for 303 yards against Notre Dame. Dad tells me I was in the 8th grade, and told him during the game, "I think I’d like to go to Notre Dame." It must have been the band, since the football team lost. Years later, head coach Gerry Faust and I arrived on campus. I played in the band. Faust should have. Thanks to Faust, we didn’t have to play the Victory Clog or the Victory March much during football games. We had more success at basketball and hockey games.

Right. This is about Pitt, right?

Way to go, Panthers! And hats off to Dave Wannstedt. I miss you in Chicago, but it’s good to see fellow guy from Baldwin do so well. Congratulations, coach!

More play-by-play analysis from ESPN.

Christmas Day Terror Suspect Charged

From WTAE Pittsburgh:

The Justice Department has charged the alleged Christmas Day terrorist with attempting to destroy an airplane.

The Justice Department said 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had a device containing a high explosive attached to his body. The government says that as the flight neared Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday, Abdulmutallab set off the device, but it sparked a fire instead of an explosion.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court in Detroit, a preliminary analysis of the device shows that it contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol.

The government alleges that Abdulmutallab told passengers that his stomach was upset, then pulled a blanket over himself. Passengers then heard popping noises.

He allegedly claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil.

Imagine using the justice system to prosecute alleged terrorists! Send him to Guantanamo without a trial and throw away the key!

Maybe not. Perhaps this still is America, with justice for all.

Firecracker Story Was Really Terrorist Attempt to Blow Up Plane (Maybe)

The media botched this one again. First, this was just a guy who set off a firecracker on an airplane. No act of terror. I heard that on several reports.

Later, we learned more. Turns out the media was once again trying to give us the definitive report before they actually had all the facts, on the hope that they would be right.

Well, it would appear that this was an act of terror. I waited a while to blog on this because the story changed so often.

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on al-Qaida’s instructions, set off an explosive device Friday in a failed terrorist attack on the plane as it was landing in Detroit, federal officials said.

Flight 253 with 278 passengers aboard was 20 minutes from the airport when it sounded like a firecracker had exploded, witnesses said. One passenger jumped over others and tried to subdue the man. Shortly afterward, the suspect was taken to a front row seat with his pants cut off and his legs burned.

The White House said it believed it was an attempted act of terrorism and stricter security measures were quickly imposed on airline travel, but were not specified.

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. Others had slightly different spellings.

One law enforcement source said the man claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil.

In the days ahead, we’ll learn more. Please remember that the media reports before they actually know what’s going on.

I have a friend flying from Ireland to Chicago today. Glad he wasn’t on this flight. Hope he made it home all right.

(That’s for you, Mike.)

GOP’s Official Network FOXNEWS.COM Says Health Care Reform Passed Senate ‘Just Barely’


Congress may be gone for several weeks enjoying a winter holiday, but Republicans say they will keep up the pressure on Democrats who succeeded in getting their Senate health insurance overhaul bill passed before Christmas — if just barely.

They have got to be kidding, right? The vote in the U.S. Senate was 60-39. That’s “just barely,” a real squeaker?

Then again, the Republicans were the ones whose budgeting was so incredibly horrible that our National Debt skyrocketed under George W. Bush, and the economy nose-dived into the Great G.O.P. Recession.

Or perhaps Republicans would say the United States “just barely” ended up in recession recently?

Nod to for this.

For Muslims, Jews, a Day of Helping

Muslim and Jewish girl

I had forgotten about Mitzvah Day. A wonderful example of Jews and Christians doing good deeds on behalf of each other. Now, Muslims in

From, with a nod to

Mary Turfah bent over a box of dry goods at Gleaners Food Bank in Pontiac this morning hunting for items to include in the food box she was assembling for needy people in the region, her green hijab held firmly in place.

The 15-year-old Dearborn Heights resident was among an estimated 40 local Muslims participating in the metro-Detroit’s Jewish community’s annual Mitzvah Day, the volunteer program held every Christmas. The tradition — mitzvah means “good deed” — enables Christians to stay home and enjoy the holiday, while those not celebrating help with social-service projects in southeastern Michigan.

It was the first time Muslims joined the 18-year-old effort, invited by the Jewish Community Relations Council to create an interfaith opportunity.

“Doing a mitzvah, a good deed, is not a Jewish thing. It’s not a Muslim thing. It’s a human thing,” said Michael Benghiat of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Very moving.

Family Guy Presents A Peter Griffin Christmas (Video)

I know it’s a tad juvenile, but I enjoy this silly video.

Merry Christmas to all!

Gay GOP Group Co-Sponsors Conservative Conference, But Not Allowed to Speak

Now this just takes the cake.

From AlterNet:

Earlier this month, conservative gay rights group GOProud announced that it would be a co-sponsor of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But the group’s inclusion as a co-sponsor has led to a backlash from the anti-gay right, some of whom are threatening to boycott CPAC if GOProud’s sponsorship isn’t removed. CPAC director Lisa De Pasquale told Hot Air last week that she was “satisfied” that GOProud “do not represent a ‘radical leftist agenda’ and thus “should not be rejected as a CPAC cosponsor.” But David Keene, the head of CPAC’s main organizing group, tried to calm the potential boycott by using a different tactic. In an e-mail to a right-wing radio host, Keene promised that GOProud would not have a speaking spot and that gay rights issues would not be “open to debate.”

The GOP: still crazy after all these years.

Read more here at AlterNet.

Rachel Maddow Smacks-Down John Birch Society (Video)

Enjoy Rachel Maddow as she takes the John Birch Society to task.

Gotta love Rachel.

Wow! Schaumburg’s First-Ever Tax Levy is $23.7 Million

I try not to be surprised, but, yow! I had no idea residents of Schaumburg have never paid a tax levy in the village’s 53 years of existence.

Now, the roughly  75,386 residents are going to have to dig deep to help plug a budget gap, adding about 8.1 percent to each resident’s 2009 tax bill.

From the Daily Herald:

The decision to establish Schaumburg’s first property tax in the village’s 53-year history may not have been a popular choice, but it was needed, Mayor Al Larson said.

“They’ll probably throw us out of office in a year and a half, but it’s something that you have to do,” Larson said. “It’s not taken lightly; we didn’t just make up a number and throw it out there. There’s some real, real costs to the village.”

Trustees unanimously approved a $23.7 million tax levy at Tuesday night’s meeting, which was moved to the Prairie Center for the Arts as village officials anticipated a larger audience. About 70 attended the meeting with 10 making public comments opposing the levy.

The village’s new property tax will add about 8.1 percent to a resident’s 2009 tax bill. The village will start collecting in 2011.

Schaumburg officials said decreased revenue from sales, hotel, food and beverage taxes and the state’s income tax helped create a $17.6 million deficit in the budget.

Larson wouldn’t forecast if the tax would ever be lifted, citing the uncertainty with the economy. He asked if he could “borrow a crystal ball” to predict when the recession would be over.

“Is it going to be over in a year, two years, three years?” he said. “If revenues come back the board certainly would look at cutting the levy.”

Holy over-budgeting, Batman!

Note the mayor pledged to possibly cut, but not eliminate, the levy, somewhere down the road.

Now, perhaps, the South Suburbs will have more success convincing the rest of the state to reform the way schools are funded?

Residents of Schaumburg, welcome to the great State of Illinois.

Change Has Come to America: Health Insurance Reform About to Happen

All news from Democrats and the White House is positive. It looks like reform of our for-profit health insurance system is about to happen. Is the reform on the table perfect? No. None of the sides are perfectly content with the changes, including Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats, and the Party of No.

But it’s about to happen. I don’t like to make predictions. This time, I’m assured by positive words out of Washington today.

From Yahoo! News:

From the White House to Capitol Hill, Democrats on Tuesday confidently predicted Senate passage of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul after the bill cleared its second 60-vote test and the time was set for a final tally.

Coming to the Senate floor in the middle of the afternoon, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced an agreement to vote on final passage at 8 a.m. Thursday, Christmas Eve. It would mark the 25th consecutive day of Senate debate on health care.

“The finish line is in sight,” Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said at a news conference with other Senate leaders and cheering supporters. “We’re not the first to attempt such reforms but we will be the first to succeed.”

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs declared: “Health care reform is not a matter of if. Health care reform is now a matter of when.”

Obama said the Senate legislation accomplishes 95 percent of what he wanted on health care. “Every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill,” the president said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Senate Democrats remained behind their compromise bill over steadfast Republican opposition. A motion to shut off debate and move to a vote on a package of changes by Reid passed 60-39.

The final 60-vote hurdle, limiting debate on the bill itself, is expected to be cleared Wednesday afternoon, setting up the Thursday morning-before-Christmas vote on the legislation, which at that point will need only a simple majority to pass.

Do you know what it means if the bill only passes with a simple majority?

It means it passes. It’s done.

The Almighty Left (and I include myself in that call, for all the times I lashed out) needs to stop whining about this bill and thank the President, thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, thank Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, thank them all. This will be the largest overhaul of our health care system in several lifetimes.

I was listening to Ed Schultz this afternoon whining about the health care reform bill, calling it a “Republican bill.”

Nonsense, Ed.  That’s just silly.  Stop it all ready.  This bill means reform.  This bill represents what happens when the Left, the Right and the Middle sit down to talk.  Congress is working again.  Congress is learning how to be a deliberative body again.  That in itself is call for celebration.

Think of it: no more exclusions from coverage for pre-existing conditions. That alone is worth our thanks.

Remember, thank President Obama. Those of us on the Left need to remember that governing is different from the poetry of the campaign. Governing is tedious. Governing means compromise. Governing means setting policy. Governing means changing direction slowly sometimes, like an ocean tanker. The geek in me remembers the early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when Captain Picard would command, “All stop!” And the helm would reply, “Answering all stop!”

And we would wait for a moment while the Enterprise stopped.

It didn’t happen instantaneously. Nothing that big stops that quickly.

Change has come to America, but America is a big ship. Change, lasting and true change, takes time.

Passage of this bill will be huge. We should all be happy.