Monday, August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck Rally

I'm not really sure what Glenn Beck wants in terms of substantive policy. But, this weekend he had his rally at the Lincoln Memorial. There are wildly different claims about how many people were there. My guess is it was about 100,000.

Here is a photo of the event. To be sure there were a lot of people. But we attended the concert/inauguration festivities on the Sunday before President Obama was inaugurated and I can tell you there were far more people. All of the space on the west side of the Washington Monument (the part that is sparsely populated in the Beck photos) was packed. There were probably 200,000 to 250,000 people at that concert.

Then for President Obama's Inauguration the number was way, way bigger. You can see the photo from the Capitol to the Washington Monument was packed. That space is twice as long as from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, and it is wider because most of the space on the other side (the side Beck spoke on) is covered by the Reflecting Pool.

People who know DC understand what I am talking about.

Economy Thoughts

There is a lot of hand-wringing and concern about the U.S. economy - as there should be. But the reality is that things are certainly stable and looking out over the near to medium term, things look like we are moving in the right direction.

I am not arguing that we are in the middle of a boom cycle, or that we are where we want to be. I am saying that things look like they are progressing nicely.

Let's start with unemployment and jobs - because that is what most people really care about. In 2008, the s**t really hit the fan and jobs were being shed at a horribly bad pace and unemployment started to rise rapidly.

Many people forget that the job losses really ramped up in 2008. In January 2009, when President Obama took office, the country lost nearly 800,000 jobs that month. A year earlier, the job losses started (10,000 jobs lost in January 2008) and each month they got worse. The Stimulus plan was passed in February 2009 and since then we have seen significant improvement in the jobs figures. The last two months have seen jobs losses, but they have been mostly tied to the temporary jobs that were created as part of the 2010 Census. Right now, we basically have 0 job growth. But, given that we started with losses of 700,000+ each month in late 2008 and early 2009, it is clear that we are in much better shape.

The Dow is now over 10,000, from a low of 6500 - and with this, we see that corporate profits and cash are back to pre-collapse levels. In fact, every year there is a summer slowdown in the economy and with companies hoarding cash, all we need is a spark to get those dollars flowing out again. I see no reason why this Christmas/Holiday season won't be the best its been in several years.

People who wanted change and a turnaround are getting it. I'd like to see it moving faster, but am realistic enough to recognize that moving a $13 trillion economy doesn't happen overnight. But it has now moved into a much better position a year and a half into President Obama's term in office.

Bears Thoughts

I've watched the three Bears preseason games on tape replay on NFL Network. There are things to worry about, but they should get ironed out.

First, the special teams have been absolutely horrible. Poor snaps on punts/kicks, missed field goals, missed tackles, poor returns, bad punts, etc. I have confidence that all of those will get worked out as the special teams players get locked in and the season starts.

Second, the offense has been anemic. There are some concerns about the O-line, but I am still fairly confident that that unit will be OK. Chris Williams struggled against the Raiders a couple of weeks ago, but he should be a great LT for the next decade. He showed great signs last year and I expect him to be OK. Working against Peppers during the pre-season should help. Louis (RG) and Omiyale (RT) are new starters and Garza moved from RG to LG. So, the unit is all new and needs some games to get it together. I like the line.

I believe the receiving corps will be solid, but you can see that timing is not there yet. There are some passes that Cutler is just off on or the receivers are a step behind. Hopefully that will get going.

The running game should be better and I like the pickup of Chester Taylor. Forte ripped off an 89 yard run against the Raiders and he looks much faster. Knee and ankle injuries really slowed him down last year, but he looks like a different guy. I think he is set for a big year.

The big question is whether Cutler can avoid the costly mistakes. We'll see.

The D has been much better, but unfortunately, they haven't played with their whole first unit because of dings this pre-season. Chris Harris at strong safety has been a solid tackler, but he has missed a couple of angles on passes and given up big plays. Safety play has been a concern for a couple of years and I hope to see improvement there. I think Peppers will have a huge year and I expect this to be a solid defensive unit.

The problem is the Packers look great right now. I'll make my predictions right before the season.

It's Been A While

I took the summer off from blogging and feel refreshed. A new puppy and a kitchen renovation took up most of the last two months, and now school is starting up again.

The kids started school today. I'm in my second week and love my schedule. I've got two fantasy drafts this week and the NFL season is nearly here. I love it.