Archive for March, 2008

All hail Appalachia

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Man, oh man, has it been a great year to be an unheralded, small-conference school in western North Carolina, or what?

First Appalachian State beats Michigan in the Big House. Then Gardner-Webb beats Kentucky at Rupp Arena. And now Davidson — Appy State’s conference-mate — is going to the Elite Eight.

Just call it the Bermuda Carolina Triangle:


"Abandon hope, all ye major-conference foes who enter here!"

Heady days in western Carolina. HOT! HOT! HOT!

Fed seeks broad market oversight power

Friday, March 28th, 2008

File this under "things that Brendan doesn’t know very much about, but that sound like a pretty big deal":

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department will propose on Monday that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send SWAT teams into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system.

The proposal is part of a sweeping blueprint to overhaul the country’s hodge-podge of regulatory agencies, which many specialists say failed to recognize rampant excesses in mortgage lending until after they triggered what is now the worst financial calamity in decades. …

The Fed would also be given some authority over Wall Street firms but only when an investment bank’s practices posed a threat to the financial system over all.

The Wall Street Journal says passage of the plan "would likely take years and would also require major compromises from an increasingly partisan Congress," and that it "is likely to trigger messy feuds over turf at a time when confidence in government supervision is low."

If Memphis & Kansas win…

Friday, March 28th, 2008

With Memphis and Kansas leading at halftime by scores of 50-20 and 41-22, respectively — and with myself being exhausted and about ready to sleep — I’m going to risk a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment, assume that both the Tigers and Jayhawks will in fact win, and post the updated pool standings based on that assumption. If either team somehow loses, you may consider this post null and void, and the linked standings inaccurate. :) So, without further ado, my slightly-premature pool update:

Ryan Morgan leads the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by the UCLA Bruins at the conclusion of the Sweet Sixteen, and would win in 34 of the 128 remaining scenarios. Dan Port and Mark Gardner are tied for second place, and would win in 26 and 11 scenarios, respectively. Eighteen other contestants are still mathematically alive to win the pool, each owning between one and seven possible winning scenarios.

Meanwhile, former leader Khalil Aboukhaled fell from first to fourth place, and was mathematically eliminated from any chance of winning the pool, when Memphis won. (He had picked already-eliminated Pitt, and needed Michigan State to upset Memphis in the Panthers’ stead in order to keep his hopes alive.)

Complete scenario information can be found here, sorted by statistical chances of winning. Complete standings are here and after the jump. Also after the jump, information on who’ll be eliminated tomorrow, depending on how the North Carolina-Louisville and UCLA-Xavier games turn out.

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GO DAVIDSON!!!

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Wisconsin and Davidson are tied at the half. WOO!!! Go Wildcats!!!

UPDATE: Davidson leads by 15 points with 10:08 left!! WOOOO!!!

UPDATE 2: Stephen. Curry. Is. Awesome.

UPDATE 3: Davidson wins, 73-56! Wildcats to the Elite Eight!! YAAAY!!!

Davidson has officially achieved Gonzaga status. Up next: George Mason status?!

UPDATE 4: Only two contestants in the entire pool picked Davidson to reach the Elite Eight, and both are way down near the bottom of the leaderboard: Jessica Osborne of Denver, currently in 236th place, and our cats, Toby, Sasha & Butter Zak, currently in 238th place. Both brackets have Davidson losing in the Elite Eight (to Kansas, in Osborne’s case; to already-eliminated Clemson, in the cats’ case).

UPDATE 5: After the jump, complete standings of the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by UCLA. Khalil Aboukhaled is still in the lead, thought he would win in only 1.6 percent of the remaining 512 scenarios (up from 0.4% of 2,048 scenarios as of last night). Ryan Morgan is second, and Mark Gardner, Bill Reece and Dan Port tied for third.

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Quite possibly…

Friday, March 28th, 2008

…the silliest-looking police car ever.

Ohio: it’s a quagmire!

Friday, March 28th, 2008

I knew the mortgage crisis had hit Ohio hard, but I didn’t realize things were as bad in the Buckeye State as this headline suggests:

Obama, Clinton Respond to Bush’s Speech on the War in Ohio

Personally, I think we should withdraw our troops from Ohio immediately. We must stand down so the Ohioans can stand up.

Dean wants supers to decide by July 1

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Howard Dean wants the undeclared superdelegates to pick a candidate "at some point between now and the first of July, so we don’t have to take this into the convention."

Dean’s logic is not necessarily pristine here, alas. Even if every single one of the 794 supers were to "say who they’re for" prior to July 1, that doesn’t necessarily mean "we don’t have to take this into the convention." Indeed, in a formal sense, we "have to take this into the convention" no matter what — there is, after all, going to be a roll call at the convention, and no other binding roll call will occur before then. The best the Democrats can do is have a nominee presumptive before the convention, not an actual nominee. And that only works if Hillary Clinton plays along.

That raises the following question: if the informal July 1 tally shows Hillary trailing by, say, 100 delegates — barely 2 percent of the total — does anyone believe she’ll drop out at that point? Particularly if the Michigan and Florida controversies are still unresolved? She keeps reminding us that all the delegates, including the "pledged" ones, are free to make their own independent decisions when the roll is called. That means they’re also free to change their minds between July 1 and August 28. If Hillary’s willing to put the party through hell through the end of June in hopes that Obama will inexplicably collapse, why wouldn’t she be willing to extend her quixotic quest for another two months?

This is where the brilliance of Phil Bredesen’s superdelegate superconvention — which Dean opposes, because he doesn’t like the potential "cigar-filled back room" aspect of it — comes in. Admittedly, such a gathering would not formally change any of the above. But if Hillary publicly buys into the concept (even if kicking and screaming), then it will have the potential of producing some actual closure to the race, as opposed to the anticlimactic June trickle of superdelegate endorsements that Dean seems to envision. It’d be much harder for Hillary to justify continuing her campaign after "losing" the "superdelegate primary" than it would be if she is merely "trailing" in the fluid, informal "superdelegate count."

In related news, one day after Chris Dodd said that "over the next couple of weeks," after the North Carolina and Indiana primaries at the latest, "the national leadership of this party has to stand up and
reach a conclusion… instead of having this sort of drip on for the next
five months," Pat Leahy took it a step further, opining that Clinton "ought to withdraw and she ought to be backing Senator Obama." Cue sputtering outrage from the Clinton camp in 5… 4… 3…

It should be noted that Dodd and Leahy had already endorsed Obama, so these aren’t exactly neutral parties putting the heat on Clinton. Nevertheless, it’s significant that we’re start to hear some high-level noises that sound a bit like "drop out, Hillary."

Oh, and also, Pennsylvania Senator (and superdelegate) Bob Casey (D-PA) will endorse Obama today. This is a big deal for two reasons. One, it’s a crack in Hillary’s firewall of Pennsylvania establishment support that could carry a decent amount of weight in the Keystone State, since, in Halperin‘s words, Casey has a "big following among — and symbolic resonance with — the state’s working-class voters." (Did I mention he’s white? And, as far as I know, doesn’t attend a wacky racist church?)

Secondly, as Eric Kleefield notes, "Casey had previously said he thought the best thing to do was remain
publicly neutral — so his endorsement of Obama could potentially
reflect a desire to end the primary race as soon as possible." Along the same lines, Mike Allen writes: "Democrats are wondering if this could signal the beginning of a ‘bandwagon effect’ that began last week with the endorsement by New
Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson."

In other words: Richardson… Dodd… Leahy… Casey. The drumbeat begins. Boom, doom. Drums in the deep.

Vols losing; Hilltoppers threatening

Friday, March 28th, 2008

It looks like Louisville is about to beat Tennessee. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky has mounted a big rally to pull within six points of UCLA with 7:07 left. GO HILLTOPPERS!!!

UPDATE: Louisville wins; Khalil Aboukhaled leads the pool. Jeff Belisle is second; Ryan Morgan drops to third. Full update after the UCLA-WKU game.

UPDATE 2: A valiant effort by Western Kentucky — and damn, if that three-pointer rattles in, back when it was a four-point game with 5:17 left, who knows? — but the Bruins win, 88-78. So it’ll be UCLA vs. Xavier in the West Regional Final… just like my original bracket predicted (I had Xavier beating the Bruins and going all the way to the title game), before I changed it at the last minute to have UConn beating UCLA and going to the Final Four over the Musketeers. Harumph.

UPDATE 3: As mentioned earlier, Khalil Aboukhaled of South Bend, Indiana (a.k.a. “fezafou”) leads the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by the UCLA Bruins. He has 247 out of a possible 312 points. However, his chances of winning the pool are statistically quite small — just 0.4% — in large part because his predicted national champion, Georgetown, has already been eliminated, as has another of his Final Four teams, Pitt.

The mathematical favorite to win the pool is Jeff Belisle of Brooklyn, New York, currently in second place with 242 points. He has a 14.5% chance to win. Belisle is followed in the current standings by Ryan Morgan of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who had a 14-point lead at the beginning of the day, but went just 2-for-4 on Thursday, having picked neither Xavier nor Louisville. He has 241 points, and a 10.4% chance to win.

Dan Port, Lisa Velte, Bill Rece and Mark Gardner are tied for fourth with 239 points apiece. Alex Whitfield is eighth with 237, Joseph Hiegel ninth with 235, and rounding out the top ten are Kevin Hauschulz, Chuck Wessell, and brother & sister Matt Thomsen and Danielle Thomsen, all tied with 234 points each. Hauschulz and Danielle Thomsen are already mathematically eliminated from winning the pool, however. Here’s a full list of possible outcomes.

Complete standings here and after the jump.

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March Madness: it’s baaaack!!

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Our (three-day-)long national nightmare — in which all we had to satisfy our hunger for college basketball was the NIT, the CBI and the largely upset-free opening weekend of the women’s Big Dance — is over. The Sweet 16 begins tonight. Whee!!!

All I can say is: GO WESTERN KENTUCKY!!! BEAT FUCLA!!!

(Also: Go Tennessee! Go Xavier*! Go Wazzu!)

*Or West Virginia. Whatever.

UPDATE: Xavier won in overtime; North Carolina won easily, again.

In the 13th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool presented by UCLA, Ryan Morgan still leads, but his margin is down to 4 points because of West Virginia’s loss. Everyone else in the Top 7 — Khalil Aboukhaled, Matt and Danielle Thomsen (brother and sister, tied for third), Chris Mulvey, Jeff Belisle and Joe Swiderski — picked both of tonight’s early-game winners. Morgan only picked the Tar Heels.

If Louisville beats Tennessee, Aboukhaled will take the lead. If the Vols win, Morgan will remain on top.

Complete standings here and after the jump.

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Does Hillary want McCain to win?, ctd.

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Yesterday afternoon, I blogged about Maureen Dowd’s column in yesterday’s New York Times, in which she argued that Hillary Clinton’s willingness to out-and-out attack Barack Obama — even though the resulting damage will probably inure only to John McCain’s benefit, not Hillary’s, in the end — might indicate a self-interested preference for a McCain victory in November. The theory, of course, is that an Obama defeat in the general election would open the door for Hillary, The Sequel in 2012. "Some top Democrats are increasingly worried that the Clintons’
divide-and-conquer strategy is nihilistic: Hillary or no democrat," I quoted Dowd as saying.

Silly me, thinking Maureen Dowd had an original thought.

As it turns out, this very topic has been the subject of a raging debate in the center-left blogosphere for almost a week, with various prominent bloggers weighing in both sides of the issue — creating a dialogue that’s much more illuminating and insightful, unsurprisingly, than a Maureen Dowd column. Details after the jump.

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Davidson offering students free tickets, travel, lodging for Sweet 16, Elite 8

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Sweet, indeed:

Davidson College students who want to go to Detroit to see their basketball team in the Sweet 16 can do so for free.

In
an e-mail to students Wednesday, school President Tom Ross said the
school’s trustees will pay for tickets, travel and lodging for
Davidson’s Midwest Regional semifinal game Friday night against
Wisconsin at Detroit’s Ford Field. Students also get tickets to
Sunday’s regional final — win or lose.

The gift will not come
from Davidson’s endowment, said Stacey Schmeidel, director of college
communications. "At least one person on the board stepped up and said,
`I want to do this for the students,’ " Schmeidel said.

As of
Wednesday night, hundreds of students had signed up for the offer, so
many that college officials were scrambling for extra tickets and
buses. The offer includes a 660-mile bus ride to Detroit leaving Friday
morning and returning between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday — just in time
for classes.

Heh. Awesome. (Hat tip: anonamom.)

The only downside: they aren’t cancelling classes on Friday. The school’s president urged students to "please consider going to the game ONLY if this
is, academically, the right decision for you." Riiiiight.

UPDATE: Here’s the full text of the president’s e-mail, courtesy of Davidson blogger Will Bryan. But now it seems the school sent out "a second email a few hours later saying that not everyone who responded
to the first will be able to go since they don’t have enough tickets." Heh. That’s according to AOL Fanhouse, quoting Bryan. A commenter on Bryan’s site confirms:

They said they could give free tickets, transportation, and lodging to
everyone, but now they are saying that they can’t meet the student
demand (and they should have certainly expected FULL demand). Things
are really up in the air right now as people are hoping that Davidson
will keep its word on this. A lot of people who were really excited
are now pretty disappointed. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

The commenter also quotes from the latest e-mail from the college: "We have been overwhelmed by the response. There will not be enough time
before Friday morning to respond to each email. We are keeping track of
the requests in the order they come in. If we have a ticket for you, we
will email you directly on Thursday. … We apologize, but we will not be able to take every student who wants to go to Detroit."

P.S. In other basketball-related news, I’d just like to clarify, in case anyone was wondering after last night’s David Schnauzer Letterman Top Ten list, that the
reason we’ve chosen to conceal Loyette‘s true first name on the blog is not because we named her "Gonzaga." ;)

Speaking of the Shuttle…

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Heh.

Time for a new garish blazer?

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

The Bruce Pearl to Indiana rumors are officially on.

It’s Kirby vs. Dupuis in NIT Pool

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Gary Kirby is one Florida loss away from winning his second consecutive Irish Trojan NIT Pool.

Kirby, a.k.a. “gahrie,” got the entire Final Four right — something only he and Katrina Lewonczyk can claim — and he now has 228 out of a possible 252 points. That puts him 15 ahead of Josh Krause, 16 ahead of Mark Gardner, 22 ahead of Brian Dupuis and 23 ahead of Ginny Zak.

Only Dupuis, a LSU alum, still has a chance to win, however. Both he and Kirby, who attended USC in the 1980s, predicted a Florida-Ohio State title game, a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game. But whereas Kirby (along with everyone else near the top of the current leaderboard) picked the Buckeyes to win, Dupuis picked his Tigers’ conference rivals, the Gators.

So if Florida follows up its two consecutive NCAA championships with an NIT championship, Dupuis — winner of the Irish Trojan college football bowl pick ’em contest in 2005-06 — will win the pool. If anyone else wins the title, Kirby will repeat as NIT Pool champ.

Complete standings here and after the jump.

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Heh.

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

TNR‘s Christopher Orr says Hillary Clinton has joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

Meanwhile, blogger Cameron Fredman has found some counts that show Clinton ahead. My favorite:

Average Highest Elevation

CLINTON: 6135 Feet
OBAMA:  6097 Feet

Frankly, I’m surprised that more attention hasn’t been drawn to
this.  Obama claims to want to elevate the level of discourse, but he
has failed in states with the highest elevations.  Clinton has won on
Mount Whitney (California), Humphreys Peak (Arizona), Boundary Peak
(Nevada), and Wheeler Peak (New Mexico). Perhaps more significantly,
there are so few peaks left that despite the close margins, Obama has
no hope of regaining the altitude vote.  Clinton also leads among
states with the highest average mean elevation: (Clinton:  1908.8 feet
   Obama:  1457.7 feet).

I fully expect Howard Wolfson to be citing that one within days. (Hat tip: TNR.)

P.S. And another “Heh,” courtesy of James Carville, opening a speech at a finance conference: “Governor Richardson was going to introduce me, but he got pinned down by sniper fire at the airport.”

P.P.S. And yet another “Heh,” courtesy of Wonkette: