Daily Archives: March 23, 2008

2008 NCAA D1 RPI Poll (Weighting depends on strength of opponents)

Rank Prev Rank Name Conf W-L Road Neut Home Non-Div I
1 1 Tennessee Southeastern 29-4 10-2 3- 2 15-0 1-0
2 2 North Carolina Atlantic Coast 32-2 13-0 5- 0 14-2 0-0
3 3 Memphis Conference USA 33-1 10-0 3- 0 20-1 0-0
4 4 UCLA Pacific-10 31-3 9-1 6- 0 15-2 1-0
5 7 Kansas Big 12 31-3 8-3 3- 0 19-0 1-0
6 5 Texas Big 12 28-6 7-3 4- 2 16-1 1-0
7 6 Duke Atlantic Coast 27-5 8-2 4- 2 15-1 0-0
8 8 Georgetown Big East 27-5 8-4 3- 1 16-0 0-0
9 9 Xavier Atlantic 10 27-6 7-4 4- 1 16-1 0-0
10 10 Drake Missouri Valley 28-4 10-3 3- 0 13-1 2-0
11 11 Wisconsin Big Ten 29-4 10-2 3- 0 16-2 0-0
12 12 Vanderbilt Southeastern 26-7 4-6 3- 1 19-0 0-0
13 13 Louisville Big East 24-8 8-3 1- 3 15-2 0-0
14 14 Stanford Pacific-10 26-7 8-5 2- 1 16-1 0-0
15 15 Pittsburgh Big East 26-9 5-7 5- 0 15-2 1-0
16 16 Michigan St. Big Ten 25-8 4-6 4- 2 17-0 0-0
17 17 Butler Horizon 29-3 11-2 4- 0 14-1 0-0
18 18 Connecticut Big East 24-8 7-4 1- 3 16-1 0-0
19 19 Clemson Atlantic Coast 24-9 6-5 3- 2 14-2 1-0
20 20 Marquette Big East 24-9 5-5 3- 2 15-2 1-0
21 21 Kent St. Mid-American 28-6 8-5 4- 1 16-0 0-0
22 22 Indiana Big Ten 25-7 7-3 1- 2 17-2 0-0
23 23 Washington St. Pacific-10 24-8 10-3 1- 1 13-4 0-0
24 24 UNLV Mountain West 26-7 6-5 0- 0 19-2 1-0
25 25 BYU Mountain West 27-7 8-5 3- 2 16-0 0-0
26 27 Notre Dame Big East 24-7 5-4 2- 3 17-0 0-0
27 28 Oklahoma Big 12 22-11 5-6 3- 2 14-3 0-0
28 29 Southern California Pacific-10 21-11 7-4 4- 2 10-5 0-0
29 30 West Virginia Big East 24-10 6-5 5- 2 12-3 1-0
30 31 Gonzaga West Coast 25-7 7-3 5- 3 13-1 0-0
31 26 Arkansas Southeastern 22-11 2-7 5- 3 15-1 0-0
32 32 Dayton Atlantic 10 21-10 6-6 1- 1 14-3 0-0
33 33 Illinois St. Missouri Valley 24-9 7-5 2- 3 14-1 1-0
34 34 Miami (Fla.) Atlantic Coast 22-10 4-6 4- 2 13-2 1-0
35 35 Davidson Southern 26-6 11-3 3- 1 11-2 1-0
36 36 St. Mary’s (Cal.) West Coast 25-6 6-5 4- 0 14-1 1-0
37 37 Arizona Pacific-10 19-14 7-7 1- 1 10-6 1-0
38 38 South Ala. Sun Belt 26-6 7-4 2- 1 15-1 2-0
39 40 Western Ky. Sun Belt 27-6 9-3 4- 1 12-2 2-0
40 39 Mississippi St. Southeastern 22-10 7-4 3- 3 12-3 0-0
41 41 Texas A&M Big 12 24-10 4-5 4- 1 15-4 1-0
42 43 Massachusetts Atlantic 10 21-10 7-6 3- 1 11-3 0-0
43 42 Baylor Big 12 21-10 6-4 3- 2 11-4 1-0
44 45 St. Joseph’s Atlantic 10 21-12 9-6 4- 1 8-5 0-0
45 44 Purdue Big Ten 24-8 6-5 2- 2 16-1 0-0
46 47 Creighton Missouri Valley 21-10 5-7 1- 1 14-2 1-0
47 48 Temple Atlantic 10 21-12 7-5 4- 3 10-4 0-0
48 46 Mississippi Southeastern 21-10 2-7 5- 1 14-2 0-0
49 49 Ohio St. Big Ten 19-13 4-8 1- 2 14-3 0-0
50 50 Kansas St. Big 12 20-11 3-5 2- 4 14-2 1-0
51 51 Villanova Big East 20-12 4-7 4- 2 12-3 0-0
52 53 Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast 19-13 4-8 3- 3 12-2 0-0
53 52 Oral Roberts Summit 24-8 8-6 4- 1 11-1 1-0
54 54 VCU Colonial 24-7 9-3 3- 3 12-1 0-0
55 55 Syracuse Big East 19-13 4-6 1- 2 14-5 0-0
56 56 UAB Conference USA 22-10 7-5 1- 4 14-1 0-0
57 57 Kentucky Southeastern 18-12 4-6 0- 2 14-4 0-0
58 58 Oregon Pacific-10 18-13 5-8 0- 2 13-3 0-0
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NCAA Men’s D1 Scoreboard as of Sat, Mar 22, ’08

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Final 1 2 T
Akron
(24-11)
31 32 63
Massachusetts
(23-10)
34 34 68
Final 1 2 T
West Virginia
(26-10)
29 44 73
(9) Duke
(28-6)
34 33 67
Final 1 2 T
Kansas State
(21-12)
33 22 55
(6) Wisconsin
(31-4)
39 33 72
Final 1 2 T
(20) Purdue
(25-9)
32 46 78
(12) Xavier
(29-6)
35 50 85
Final 1 2 T
(15) Notre Dame
(25-8)
19 22 41
(21) Washington State
(26-8)
32 29 61
Final 1 2 3 T
(25) Marquette
(25-10)
36 35 10 81
(10) Stanford
(28-7)
30 41 11 82
Final 1 2 T
UNLV
(27-8)
29 27 56
(4) Kansas
(33-3)
34 41 75
Final 1 2 T
(18) Michigan State
(27-8)
30 35 65
(17) Pittsburgh
(27-10)
28 26 54
Final 1 2 T
Texas A&M
(25-11)
29

NCAA AP Poll

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
1 North Carolina (53) 33 – 2 1779 1
2 Memphis (13) 34 – 1 1710 2
3 UCLA (5) 33 – 3 1674 3
4 Kansas (1) 33 – 3 1596 5
5 Tennessee 30 – 4 1449 4
6 Wisconsin 31 – 4 1412 8
7 Texas 29 – 6 1390 6
8 Georgetown 28 – 5 1271 9
9 Duke 28 – 6 1223 7
10 Stanford 28 – 7 1123 11
11 Butler 30 – 3 989 12
12 Xavier 29 – 6 958 10
13 Louisville 25 – 8 894 13
14 Drake 28 – 5 795 16
15 Notre Dame 25 – 8 673 14
16 Connecticut 24 – 9 671 15
17 Pittsburgh 27 – 10 587 32
18 Michigan State 27 – 8 524 19
19 Vanderbilt 26 – 8 494 18
20 Purdue 25 – 9 419 17
21 Washington State 26 – 8 378 21
22 Clemson 24 – 10 365 26
23 Davidson 27 – 6 254 23
24 Gonzaga 25 – 8 232 20
25 Marquette 25 – 10 175 25

Whither Mrs. Clinton? (opinionjournal)

Whither Mrs. Clinton?
Oh, by the way, who is going to be the Democratic nominee? Hillary Clinton’s victories in the Ohio and Texas primary, followed by Barack Obama’s trouble with his spiritual mentor, give reason to think that she could still pull it out. This week she’s been doing better in polls in states with forthcoming contests, including Pennsylvania, where she had been expected to win, and North Carolina, where she hadn’t.

But Obama still has the lead, and according to Slate’s Delegate Calculator, Mrs. Clinton would need to win at least 64% of remaining pledged delegates (those selected by voters in primaries and caucuses) in order to take the pledged delegate lead. That means the contest is almost certain to be decided by superdelegates, party and elected officials who automatically have seats at the convention and are free to vote however they please.

You might think the superdelegates would be leaning toward Mrs. Clinton right now, concerned as to whether Obama is electable, now that the Wright fiasco has transformed him into the candidate of “race,” an unpopular subject for most voters.

But Obama’s speech this week puts those superdelegates in an awkward position. Can they really reject Obama for staking out a position on race that is, at least by left-liberal lights, about as thoughtful and conciliatory as one could ever hope for? The danger for the Democratic Party is that if the superdelegates turn against Obama over this, it will appear as if they are doing so because he is black.

Another plus for Obama–for now, anyway–is that there doesn’t seem to be a solution in the offing for the Michigan and Florida problem. The party stripped those two states of their convention delegates because they held their primaries earlier than party rules allowed. Mrs. Clinton campaigned in both states anyway, and won the primaries, while Obama (and other, now-forgotten candidates) stayed away. The New York Sun reports that Mrs. Clinton seems to have blown it:

In a little-noticed comment that may have conflated wish with reality, the former first lady’s top adviser on delegate issues, Harold Ickes, told reporters on Tuesday, “She has urged for weeks now that there should be reruns of those primaries.”

In fact, Mrs. Clinton and her campaign publicly endorsed revotes in both states on March 12, only six days before Mr. Ickes and the rest of the Clinton crew began taunting Mr. Obama for dragging his feet in working out a compromise.

For more than six weeks, beginning four days before the January 29 primary in Florida, Mrs. Clinton’s camp took the inflexible position that the delegates from the Florida and Michigan primaries should be selected and seated based solely on the results of those votes, despite the fact there was virtually no campaigning in either state and Mr. Obama and most other Democrats had pulled their names from the Michigan ballot. That position never found traction with Democratic leaders, even those friendly to Mrs. Clinton, in part because it gave too much weight to her “victories” in those states and in part because her own backers, such as Mr. Ickes, voted for the sanctions against states that jumped the calendar. “This is just so nakedly self-serving,” a Democratic political consultant who said he voted for Mrs. Clinton, Garry South, said. “I just think it’s too clever by half.”

It now appears to be too late to schedule new votes. It should be noted that Obama’s approach to these two states is no less cynical than Mrs. Clinton’s, as Britain’s Press Association reports:

Splitting Michigan’s delegates between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would be a fair way of resolving the dispute over whether to seat the delegates at the Democratic Party’s national convention, the Obama campaign said.

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said, rightly: “Michigan is populated by people, not numbers, and those people need to have their voices heard in this process.”

What we may end up with, then, is Obama getting the nomination thanks to his staking out a position on race that his party cannot walk away from, but that voters certainly can–and being further handicapped in November by his party’s having snubbed the voters of two crucial states.

Obama’s Mideast Gaffe (opinionjournal)

Obama’s Mideast Gaffe
From the Chicago Tribune:

[Barack] Obama teased [John] McCain, a supporter of the war, for a mix-up in the Middle East Tuesday in which the Arizona senator said several times that Iran was providing support to al Qaeda in Iraq, one of the Sunni insurgent groups there. . . .

“Just yesterday, we heard Sen. McCain confuse Sunni and Shia, Iran and al Qaeda,” Obama said. “Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.”

Since Obama is going around teasing McCain, we thought we should not let an Obama “gaffe,” from his “major speech on race,” go unremarked. In describing the comments of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that he found unacceptable, Obama said this:

They expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country–a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America, a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

To characterize the conflicts in the Middle East as “emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam” is only a partial truth. In fact, Arab states have sought Israel’s destruction since its creation; and many of Israel’s enemies over the years–Nasser’s Egypt, Assad’s Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Yasser Arafat’s PLO–have adhered to secular ideologies.

It is true that the growth of radical Islam over the past 30 years has given anti-Israel belligerents a more religious consistency. For example, Hamas, which now controls the Gaza strip, from which it frequently fires rockets at civilians in southern Israel, is an Islamist group.

The other day blogger Tom Blumer reported that Obama’s “spiritual mentor,” Jeremiah Wright, had reprinted in his church bulletin an op-ed piece by Hamas’s Mousa Abu Marzook under the headline “A Fresh View of the Palestinian Struggle.”

Uh-oh, more trouble for Obama? Don’t worry. Hamas is a Sunni fundamentalist group. It receives support from Iran. But Iran is Shiite. Therefore Hamas does not exist. Take that, John McCain.

With Extreme Prejudice – John Kerry (opinionjournal)

With Extreme Prejudice By JAMES TARANTO March 21, 2008

Remember John Kerry? He was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, lauded by his supporters for his intellect and his nuance, as compared with the simpleminded George W. Bush. Having lost the election, he decided to sit out the 2008 contest. He recently endorsed Barack Obama, and earlier this week he sat down with the editorial board of the Standard-Times (New Bedford, Mass.) to make the case for his candidate. It’s a real jaw-dropper.

ABC News’s Jake Tapper sums it up: Kerry said that a President Obama would help the US, in relations with Muslim countries, “in some cases go around their dictator leaders to the people and inspire the people in ways that we can’t otherwise.” “He has the ability to help us bridge the divide of religious extremism,” Kerry said. “To maybe even give power to moderate Islam to be able to stand up against this radical misinterpretation of a legitimate religion.” Kerry was asked what gives Obama that credibility. “Because he’s African-American. Because he’s a black man. Who has come from a place of oppression and repression through the years in our own country.” An African-American president would be “a symbol of empowerment” for those who have been disenfranchised around the world, Kerry said, “an important lesson for America to show Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other places in the world where disenfranchised people don’t get anything.”

One obvious question: What do the events of this week, involving Obama’s own church, tell us about his ability to “stand up against” a “radical misinterpretation of a legitimate religion”? Nothing very encouraging in this columnist’s view, but many observers view Obama much more charitably in this regard than we do. What is really striking about Kerry’s case for Obama, though, is that it rests on what may be the crudest stereotyping we have ever observed.

Commentary’s Abe Greenwald has a chuckle over Kerry’s racial stereotyping of Obama: Where is this “place of oppression and repression” in which Obama has suffered “through the years”? Hawaii? Harvard? The Senate? We should find out immediately and do something about this horrific crisis.

But Kerry isn’t just stereotyping blacks. He is stereotyping Muslims too. And he is drawing an equivalence between American blacks, a racial minority in one country, and Middle Eastern Muslims, a religious majority in a whole region. Never mind that, as Greenwald points out, “Arab Muslims [are] none too happy with their black countrymen in northern Africa.” Never mind that in some African countries, notably Sudan and Mauritania, Arab Muslims still enslave blacks. To Kerry, it seems, all “oppressed peoples” look alike. The man has all the intellectual subtlety of a third-rate ethnic studies professor.

opinionjournal.com article: Clarence Thomas, Mr. Constitution

Clarence Thomas
Mr. Constitution

By DAVID B. RIVKIN and LEE A. CASEY
March 22, 2008; Page A25

Clarence Thomas leaps from his chair. He retrieves a wire coat hanger from his closet for a demonstration — the same demonstration he gives his law clerks. He bends it and says: “How do you compensate? So, you say well, deal with it. Bend this over here. Oh, wait a minute, bend it a little bit there. And you’re saying that it throws everything out of whack. What do you do?”

He holds up a twisted wire, useless now for its original purpose and the point is made. “If you notice sometimes I will write just to point out that I think that we’ve gone down a track that’s going to cause some distortion, then it’s quite precisely because of that. I don’t do things that I think are illegitimate in other areas, just to bend it back to compensate for what’s already happened.”

[Mr. Constitution]
Terry Shoffner

Interpreting the Constitution is the Supreme Court’s most important and most difficult task. An even harder question is how to approach a Constitution that, in fact, is no longer in pristine form — with the Framers’ design having been warped over the years by waves of judicial mischief. There is an obvious temptation to redress the imbalance, which Associate Justice Thomas decisively rejects. Thus his coat hanger metaphor.

So is the most controversial Supreme Court justice an “originalist” when it comes to Constitutional interpretation? He says he doesn’t like labels, though he does admit to being a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy.

Upon entering his spacious office overlooking the Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C., the first thing to catch your eye is his Nebraska Cornhuskers screen saver. Mr. Thomas never attended the University of Nebraska, or even lived in the state. He’s just a fan. His office is also decorated with pictures of the historical figures he admires, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Thomas More and Winston Churchill, and he speaks of them with knowledge and passion. Watching over all is a bust of his grandfather atop Mr. Thomas’s bookcase — its countenance as stern as a Roman consul. There is little doubt this man was the driving force in Mr. Thomas’s life — a fact he confirms, and which is reflected in the title of his recently published memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son.”

Mr. Thomas faced one of the most destructive and personally vicious Supreme Court confirmation hearings in American history — described at the time by Mr. Thomas himself as a “high-tech lynching.” Mr. Thomas’s opponents smeared his character and integrity. To this day, disappointed and embittered, they feel entitled to insult his qualifications, intelligence and record.

In 2004, when Mr. Thomas’s name was floated as a possible replacement for ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist, then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called him an “embarrassment” to the Court, and attacked his opinions as “poorly written.”

In point of fact, Mr. Thomas’s opinions are well-written, displaying a distinctive style — a sure sign that the Justice and not his clerks does most of the writing.

As for his judicial philosophy, “I don’t put myself in a category. Maybe I am labeled as an originalist or something, but it’s not my constitution to play around with. Let’s just start with that. We’re citizens. It’s our country, it’s our constitution. I don’t feel I have any particular right to put my gloss on your constitution. My job is simply to interpret it.”

In that process, the first place to look is the document itself. “And when I can’t find something in that document or in the tradition or history around that document, then I am getting on dangerous ground. Because that’s when you drift so much more towards your own policy preferences.”

It is the insertion of those policy preferences into the interpretive process that Mr. Thomas finds particularly illegitimate. “People can say you are an originalist, I just think that we should interpret the Constitution as it’s drafted, not as we would have drafted it.”

Mr. Thomas acknowledges that discerning a two-hundred-year-old document’s meaning is not always easy. Mistakes are possible, if not inevitable, as advocates of a malleable “living constitution,” subject to endless judicial revision, never tire of pointing out. “Of course it’s flawed” agrees Mr. Thomas, “but all interpretive models are flawed.”

Simply following your own preferences is both flawed and illegitimate, he says. “But if that is difficult, does that difficulty legitimate just simply watching your own preference?” By doing that “I haven’t cleared up the problem, I’ve simply trumped it with my personal preferences.”

Mr. Thomas has also been criticized for his supposed lack of respect for precedent. Even his fellow conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, was reported by a Thomas biographer to have claimed that Mr. Thomas just doesn’t believe in “stare decisis.” Latin for “let the decision stand,” stare decisis is an important aspect of the Anglo-American system of precedent — deciding new cases based on what the courts have done before and leaving long established rules in place.

Mr. Thomas, however, is less absolute here than his critics suggest. He understands the Supreme Court can’t simply erase decades, or even centuries, of precedent — “you can’t do it.”

At the same time, he views precedent with respect, not veneration. “You have people who will just constantly point out stare decisis, stare decisis, stare decisis . . . then it is one big ratchet. It is something that you wrestle with.” History would seem to vindicate Mr. Thomas and his insistence on “getting it right” — even if that does mean questioning precedent.

The perfect example is Brown v. Board of Education (1954), where the Supreme Court overruled the racist “separate but equal” rule of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which permitted legally enforced segregation and had been settled precedent for nearly 60 years.

It is the Plessy dissent of Justice John Marshall Harlan to which Mr. Thomas points for an example of a Justice putting his personal predilections aside to keep faith with the Constitution. Harlan was a Kentucky aristocrat and former slaveowner, although he was also a Unionist who fought for the North during the Civil War. A man of his time, he believed in white superiority, if not supremacy, and wrote in Plessy that the “white race” would continue to be dominant in the United States “in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power . . . for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty.”

“But,” Harlan continued, “in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among its citizens.”

That, for Mr. Thomas, is the “great ‘But,'” where Harlan’s intellectual honesty trumped his personal prejudice, causing Mr. Thomas to describe Harlan as his favorite justice and even a role model. For both of them, justice is truly blind to everything but the law.

More than anything else, this explains Mr. Thomas’s own understanding of his job — a determination to put “a firewall between my [PERSONAL\]view and the way that I interpret the Constitution,” and to vindicate his oath “that I will administer justice without respect to person, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all of the duties incumbent upon me as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”

This insistence by the Justice on judging based upon the law, and not on who the parties are, presents a stark contrast with today’s liberal orthodoxy. The liberal approach — which confuses law-driven judging with compassion-driven politics, enthused with a heavy distrust of the American political system’s fairness — was recently articulated by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who emphasized the need for judges with “heart” and “empathy” for the less fortunate, judges willing to favor the disempowered.

Born in rural Georgia in 1948, Mr. Thomas and his brother were mostly raised in Savannah by their maternal grandparents. His grandfather, Myers Anderson, believed in work, and that rights come with responsibilities. According to his book, Mr. Anderson told the seven-year-old Clarence that “the damn vacation is over” the morning he moved in.

Says Mr. Thomas: “Being willing to accept responsibility, that sort of dark side of freedom, first — before you accept all the benefits. Being ready to be responsible for yourself — you want to be independent. That was my grandfather.” Anderson also taught his grandson to arrive at his conclusions honestly and not “to be bullied away from opinions that I think are legitimate. You know, not being unreasonable, but not being bullied away.”

For a man who has been subjected to a great deal of vitriol, Mr. Thomas manifests remarkable serenity. He rejoices in life outside the Court, regaling us with stories about his travels throughout the U.S., his many encounters with ordinary Americans, and his love of sports — especially the Cornhuskers, the Dallas Cowboys and Nascar.

Mr. Thomas isn’t much bothered by his critics. “I can’t answer the cynics and the negative people. I can’t answer them because they can always be cynical about something.”

Mr. Thomas speaks movingly about the Court as an institution, and about his colleagues, both past and present. He sees them all, despite their differences, as honorable, each possessing a distinctive voice, and trying to do right as they see it. Our job, he concludes, is “to do it right. It’s no more than that. We can talk about methodology. It’s merely a methodology. It’s not a religion. It is in the approach to doing the job right. And at bottom what it comes to, is to choose to interpret this document as carefully and as accurately and as legitimately as I can, versus inflicting my personal opinion or imposing my personal opinion on the rest of the country.”

And why doesn’t he ask questions at oral argument, a question oft-posed by critics insinuating that he is intellectually lazy or worse? Mr. Thomas chuckles wryly and observes that oral advocacy was much more important in the Court’s early days. Today, cases are thoroughly briefed by the time they reach the Supreme Court, and there is just too little time to have a meaningful conversation with the lawyers. “This is my 17th term and I haven’t found it necessary to ask a bunch of questions. I would be doing it to satisfy other people, not to do my job. Most of the answers are in the briefs. This isn’t Perry Mason.”

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey served in the Justice Department under President George H.W. Bush.

See all of today’s editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.