Twelve fourth-quarter points

That’s what damaged the Celtics’ chances in an 88-77 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of their Eastern Conference playoff semifinal series. Cleveland star LeBron James impressed with a 21-point night as his team evened their series at two games apiece. Boston still can’t win on the road (0-5).

What’s more vexing is the way commentators ooh and aah over James’ baskets. It’s like they’ve never seen someone make a layup before and hang from the rim for two minutes. If the Celtics can solve the Cleveland defense and silence James and his sycophants in the remaining games of this series, they can celebrate for doing all basketball fans a favor.

May 13, 2008 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

$3.59 a gallon?

Gas prices are going up, folks, and two presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain, have proposed a solution: a gas-tax holiday. But, Susannah wants to know, what about more environmentally-friendly alternatives? Read more — including Bob’s response and an homage to my own greater Boston MBTA — in the latest episode of “Running Gags”!

May 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm 5 comments

Hillary borrowing against time?

Sen. Hillary Clinton is lucky she has over $6 million to lend to her campaign. Clinton seems to think her campaign needs the cash after a double-digit primary loss to her rival, Sen. Barack Obama, in North Carolina on Tuesday and an underwhelming victory over Obama in Indiana the same day. Clinton, the New York Times reports, is fixated on her goal of winning the Democratic presidential nomination.

“[Advisers] to Mrs. Clinton early Wednesday portrayed her as still confident that she can win the nomination through a combination of victories in the handful of remaining primaries and persuading uncommitted superdelegates that she can perform better against Republicans than Mr. Obama,” the Times reported on Wednesday.

There are six primaries left, beginning with West Virginia next Tuesday. Prospects look dim at best and humiliating at worst, but maybe we should have expected that for a politician who’s weathered Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and impeachment, mounting a struggling political campaign is a cinch.

May 7, 2008 at 3:37 pm 1 comment

The subprime saga

The New York Times reports a new chapter in the mortgage crisis: Our government is concerned with a bulwark of the mortgage industry, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

What seems like the central issue to this story is the American dream of owning a home. Owning a home means no more dependence on paying rent to a landlord (instead it means dependence on mortgage payments to a bank), and the freedom to own one’s own patch of land (subject to city zoning regulations, property taxes, neighbors with complaints…).

Problem is, by making home ownership a priority — for both the Bush Administration and voices of the left — the government has created two problems. First, it has intruded into the free market — which generally I’m all for, in terms of stopping capitalist excesses, but in this case, the NYT reports, “if Fannie or Freddie fail, taxpayers would probably have to bail them out at a staggering cost.”

Second, home ownership represents another battle in the class struggle. Who wants to pay $200 grand for a house? Who can afford thousand-dollar mortgage payments in addition to car payments, gas-station trips, student-loan bills and health insurance? Yet here our cutthroat capitalism is running up against a sentimentality toward letting everyone, rich or poor, share in the American dream of home ownership. Quoth Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee: “I want these companies to help with affordable housing, to help low-income families get loans and to help clean up this subprime mess … Otherwise, why should they exist?”

Bush has tried to prove that conservatism could be compassionate. The mortgage meltdown, including the woes of Fannie and Freddie, seems a result of trying to test whether capitalism could be compassionate, too.

May 6, 2008 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

Wal-Mart makes Obama ‘Scream’


Sen. Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate, has lost the Pennsylvania primary to his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, after Obama called certain red-state voters “bitter” to a San Francisco audience. What can Obama do to mend relations with this demographic group? As he explains to Susannah, Bob has some ideas — which include visiting a certain blue-state nemesis — in the latest episode of “Running Gags”!

April 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm 5 comments

Hillary borrows from Lenin’s playbook

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is not quitting the presidential election, and has one more primary victory to add to her total: Pennsylvania, which she won on Tuesday.

Once the star of the almost 800 superdelegates, Clinton’s hold over them may be diminishing as she can’t win convincingly enough to erase the lead of her rival, Sen. Barack Obama (Note: She still leads Obama in superdelegates who have declared their support, 259 to 236). But as calls mount for her departure, she doesn’t seem to be listening.

It was once said of Vladimir Lenin that he won debates by refusing to stop speaking until everyone, exhausted, conceded the argument. “Lenin scarcely noticed his defeat,” Robert K. Massie wrote in Nicholas and Alexandra. “A brilliant dialectician, prepared to argue all night, he gained ascendancy over his Bolshevik colleagues by sheer force of intellect and physical stamina.” Will Clinton’s similar steadfastness outlast Obama’s audacity?

April 24, 2008 at 4:00 pm 2 comments

Bruins’ Stanley Cup drought continues…

…but not without some encouraging results.

Yes, Boston lost a 5-0 debacle to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday at Bell Centre. Le Tricolore clinched a trip to the next round of the playoffs and ended the Bruins’ season, four games to three. The Kostitsyn brothers, Andrei and Sergei, accounted for three goals.

Still, the Bruins rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 series deficits. Projects for next year: Stay healthy. Get back to the playoffs. Try to take a series lead in games so you don’t expend energy on constant comebacks.

April 22, 2008 at 8:31 pm Leave a comment

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