Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What's New?

On the political front, with the primaries in many states yesterday: nothing. On the blog front: we'll take it case-by-case, with references to previous post predictions.

Yesterday's primary results either confirmed what we already knew or suspected, or else provided results which have little consequence. A good example of the latter was incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln's win in the Arkansas Democratic primary runoff against Atty. Gen. Bill Halter--who was much-hyped by the left-wing bloggers and unions in an effort to punish Sen. Lincoln's pallid Democratic qualities. I don't deny her lameness at all, just question whether Halter had a chance to win in November. Neither do I think it real interesting whether Lincoln will win an uphill battle against her Republican opponent (little to be gained or lost, one way or the other).

The California results should help the economy--hundreds of millions will be spent in the statewide Senate and Governor's races--but the primaries don't change much, in my view. I think Barbara Boxer should be able to point to Carly Fiorina's shortcomings as CEO for Hewlett-Packard and, ultimately defeat her--though it will be expensive. I think it less likely that Democrat Jerry Brown will be able to win one for old times against ex-CEO of Ebay Meg Whitman in the governor's race.

I haven't changed my view--in the big picture, or even of any of the individual races--of the upcoming Senate battle since March's detailed analysis. Of course, my view of the chances for Democrats in such states as Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, and Nevada are a lot more optimistic than many other analysts'.

Sports Notes

I was a bit lax in failing to preview the NBA finals. Here we are near the end of the road, still not having answered either of the big questions from my preseason post--the Cavs didn't do well enough by Lebron to keep him, in my view, but he seems well disposed toward them and their efforts to please, failed though they were; and we still don't know if anyone can stop the Lakers.

Although I didn't like their chances much, the Celtics are probably the toughest team the Eastern Conference could put forward to face the Lakers, so I have to be happy with that. The emergence of Rajan Rondo as a game-changing force at point guard (despite weaknesses like poor free-throw shooting) has compensated for the decline of some of their veterans like Garnett and Ray Allen, their overall team size is adequate to compete with the Lakers, and their team concept remains strong. Of course, those (nor their win over the Lakers in 2008) don't mean they will prevail--I'd give them about a 25% chance; it's our best shot, though.

Chelsea announced today that they will let go three first-string players from last season's squad: Joe Cole, Juliano Belletti, and Michael Ballack. The truth is that all three are first-string quality, though they didn't necessarily start that much. Cole and Ballack often were injured, while Belletti was overlooked as a defensive starter once Bosingwa emerged, if the other usual starters were healthy. I can't say I'm eager to see any of them go, and I think the release of Cole, in particular, could haunt Chelsea in the future. Nevertheless, it will free up a lot of money, which will allow for the acquisition of some new, young talent, which is certainly important.

I continue to be thrilled by the strong run of the Cincinnati Reds this year. I didn't expect them to challenge the Cardinals for the division lead, as they are currently doing (we are now just past the one-third mark of the regular season): I see progress, but wasn't expecting them to rise to the top until next year and Dusty Baker's departure as manager. A key to their success has been the performance of rookie pitcher Mike Leake (who has done Stephen Strasburg-like feats since earning a spot this spring without ever playing in the minor leagues); even more, though, has been the production of their young, healthy hitters. I'll be satisfied with most anything--a winning season, for example, would be a great improvement.

International Affairs

The sanctions the U.N. approved today (in draft form, apparently) seem to follow the suggestions I made. President Obama's comments seem to indicate that the door is open for Iran to straighten things out and avoid more pain. We'll see.

As I suggested after the attack on the flotilla bringing aid to Gaza, the blockade was now due to change. Israel opened some restrictions on non-lethal aid (like snack foods and coriander), but that seemed to be opening the barn door after the animals were already out: Egypt found it intolerable to maintain its portion of the blockade and announced it was opening its border with Gaza.

It's great when events validate my calls, and absolutely essential for me to draw attention to it!

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