Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CP Works Out for Seattle

Portis may or may not be washed up. Frankly, I think he would be a solid 3rd down back, but the question is whether he can accept that type of role. He can catch, he can block, and he can probably still give you 5-10 carries per game. His problem is his ego and his salary demands.

With Chester Taylor available, I'd probably go with him if I was looking for a vet. He is used to the role and has the same skill set. The fact that he has always been more of a "team" guy would tip me toward him over CP.

Chester Taylor Thoughts

Chester apparently misunderstood his standing with the Bears following his meeting with Lovie Smith earlier this week. After the meeting his agent sent out a note saying that Chester had been released. Not true.

The Bears are not jerking Chester around. I am sure they are shopping him to see if they can get a draft pick for him. If he is on the active roster at the start of the season then he is guaranteed $1.25M for the year. If the Bears choose to release him there is no way he will get that kind of guaranteed money.

It is still possible that Chester plays for the Bears - he is relatively cheap and knows the offense. If Marion Barber's calf problem is worse than we have been led to believe then he may still be in the Bears plans. That is not really likely, but it is a possibility that would not surprise me.

The best thing that can happen for Chester is that he gets traded and not released. He will earn more than if he has to sign a new contract. The Bears are doing exactly the right thing for both the team and Chester.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bachmann's Promises on Oil

She thinks she can get gas prices below $2/gallon. She incorrectly claimed that when President Obama took office gas was $1.83/gallon (WRONG!), and she believes that with a "Drill, Baby, Drill" policy we could get under $2/gallon. Silly, silly, silly.

She wants to drill everywhere including the Everglades if necessary. The joke is that any new oil drilling won't have any impact on prices for years. Under her own plan, the maximum benefit we would receive would be a 3 cent reduction in gas prices seven years from now.

Look, even if we allow Big Oil to drill everywhere it won't change our dependence on foreign oil or the price of gas. Our problem is we don't have enough refineries to convert oil into gas and there is no way that private corporations are going to spend the billions needed to produce another refinery so that they can lower the price of gas and cut their own profit margins. Oil is a commodity sold on the world market for the highest price. Unless we nationalize oil production and refining, we aren't going to get any change in gas prices (except up), because no private, for profit company is going to cut profits. I've said it many times. It is so patently obvious, but "Drill, Baby, Drill" zombies drone on with their silly chants without understanding basic capitalism or economic realities.

Bears Preseason

The Bears look like they are just about ready for the regular season. The offensive line was great against Tennessee. Gabe Carimi made a couple of rookie mistakes (false start and a blown pass protection that led to Cutler getting hit after delivering a pass), the O-line looks solid. It is bigger, stronger, younger, and much more athletic than it has been in years.

Forte was awesome rushing and receiving.

Cutler was very comfortable in the pocket and on a couple of rollouts.

The D looked good overall.

The concern areas are receiver - more specifically, Roy Williams - and special teams. Robbie Gould has not had a strong preseason. He missed a 29 yard field goal before hitting a 46 yarder. He has gone 5 of 9 this preseason (one miss was from 56 yards). It may be a result of having a new holder, but whatever it is he needs to improve. The coverage teams have looked suspect at times - not as much against Tenniessee. I expect that to be corrected when the guys who are not going to be on the team are taken off of coverage.

As for the receivers. Clearly the best receiver is Earl Bennett. He runs routes correctly and never drops a pass. Cutler clearly has confidence in him. Hester needs to get a couple of shots deep and some slants in the slot - but he is not a precise route runner. Knox has speed and runs fairly good routes. His problem is that he does not fight hard enough for balls. That may come with experience, but he needs to toughen up. Sanzenbacher is a Wes Welker type who runs good routes and seems to be popular with a lot of the players. I'd rather him be the fourth receiver than keep Roy Williams at this point. Williams has been horrible in the preseason. He has dropped balls left and right. The guy is a big target and he runs reasonable routes, but you cannot trust him with the ball. He may get cut - although I doubt it. His one year contract is not enough to keep him around. We'll see.

We're 2 weeks from having Atlanta come to town. I fully expect the Bears to win that game and start the season strong.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What is Wrong with the Republican Party

They actually want "Joe the Plumber" to run for Congress. Has the Party fallen that far that they actually want to run a guy who has not been able to hold down a real job for years and who regularly demonstrated complete ignorance? He must be a Tea Party favorite.

Bears' Receivers

The Chicago media is all in a frenzy about Roy Williams and the Chicago receiving corps. My guess is that Roy will get cut if he doesn't pick it up soon. He is on a 1 year contract that isn't that expensive. We need a guy who will go up and get the ball - if Roy can do that then great. If not, I am very comfortable with Hester, Bennett, and Knox. I like our tight end situation much better. Davis and Spaeth are huge - they block and catch well. Then we've got Forte and Barber. Skill position players are not an issue for the Bears. It will be on the offensive line to open holes in the running game and pass block so we can make plays.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Food Stamps and Wealth in America

Because of the ongoing economic downturn, there are now 46 million Americans who receive food stamps. Obviously there are likely to be some cheats who should be prosecuted, but no doubt most of these folks need this government program to live. Sadly, many of these folks are the working poor. They work, but just cannot earn enough to feed their families.

The cost is now nearly $70 billion/year - unacceptable.

What I continue to find amazing is that there is no serious effort to close corporate loopholes or increase taxes on the wealthy in order to help this country. Think about this - If we divided the country into quarters based on wealth, we would have the following:

Top 25% - 87% of the nation's total wealth
Middle 50% - 13% of the nation's wealth.
Bottom 25% - 0% of the nation's wealth

Republicans want to cut programs for the bottom folks, not ask the wealthy to do anything, and then hope that we improve. If we don't look to the wealthy to sacrifice and help this country then we have no hope of ever solving our economic issues. We can never be a Super Power when the middle class is falling into the growing permanent under class.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bears Thoughts

Just finished watching the first half of the Bears-Giants game. Thought it was a very solid effort. The O-line looked great. Cutler got hit a couple of times - but nothing major. The one sack they gave up was Cutler not throwing the ball away when he was outside the tackle box.

Forte looked good on a 40 yard screen pass. Jay threw effectively. I'm not worried about the D. They were OK, nothing special. I didn't like that Devin Thomas got some good returns. I think that may be a product of trying out guys who are on the bubble on coverage teams. I expect the Bears to have great special teams as usual.

Right now, I think the Bears are going to be significantly better on offense. They are in the second year in the Martz system. Jay is in fantastic shape - he lost about 15 pounds - and he seems to be dedicated to being great. They have more experience at receiver - a very talented group. The addition of Marion Barber will be huge in goal line situations. But the biggest thing is that the O-line is bigger, younger and more nasty. They are going to dominate teams with their running game.

The Lions look better. The Vi-Queens should be solid. Both teams should be tough but both will likely be around .500. It will come down to the Packers and Bears. But the North may be the toughest division in football.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Republican Presidential Field

I have to say, as weak and vulnerable as President Obama may be right now the Republicans are making it much easier for him to get re-elected. The Tea Party and the Republicans in Congress have pushed Congress to all-time lows in approval ratings, but it is the presidential candidates the Republicans are fielding that are truly a joke.

Rick Perry seems to have vaulted to the top - but I doubt he will be the nominee. The guy is clearly not intellectual enough, but it is hard to take a guy who liked the idea of a Texas secession seriously. Questioning President Obama's patriotism and love for the country and calling Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke "treasonous", while calling for Texas independence is pretty idiotic.

Michelle Bachmann has gaffes every single day. It is clear she is not a serious candidate - she is another Palin or Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell.

Romney is totally unacceptable to the Republican base, but his insistance that "Corporations are people" will come back to haunt him if he is the nominee. The guy used to be a moderate, but he has tried to move to the right and it just seems so unnatural. It makes him look like a flake.

Newt Gingrich. Everyone has abandoned him and all he is left with is his wife who is very fond of expensive bling. This wouldn't be a problem except that Newt indulges her with his $500,000 Tiffany's line of credit. Not the image you want to project to a country that is economically struggling.

Herman Cain and Rick Santorum - Really?

Thad McCotter - Who?

Ron Paul is a truly traditional conservative and he has some backing from the Tea Party folks - but he is unacceptable to the Republican kingmakers. I find it amazing how they have marginalized this guy but he keeps gaining more of a following.

Frankly, I expect someone else to jump into the race. I cannot believe that any one of these folks will actually be the nominee.

Palin will get in because she will want to raise money - but she has no chance of getting the nomination. She just wants to try to stay relevant and collect more money from the dupes who support her.

I think the two people who are likely to jump in and get some serious consideration from the Republican establishment are Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Senator Marco Rubio (Florida). Ryan may feel threatened by losing his seat in Congress because of his radical economic proposals and the tide that is rising against Republican Governor Scott Walker. He may decide to bail on his seat and try his hand at a higher position. His views on Medicare and SS are likely to doom him. However, Marco Rubio is an interesting candidate. I don't know much about him, but he seems pleasant. As a Hispanic he could bring in new voters to the Republican ranks. As a southerner he could hold on to the base. He would be a wild card entrant who people may find interesting, but it is getting very late in the game to try to build a national campaign. If he doesn't decide by Labor Day, he probably won't get in.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

President Obama's Bus Tour

The President is in the Midwest on his campaign-style bus tour talking economic issues. I think it is a good thing, because he needs to get out of the White House and remember what he campaigned for and why people elected him. He has allowed Republicans - and in particular Tea Party folks - to dictate economic policies that are dangerously ignorant and out of touch with what we actually need to do.

There was an exchange w/a Tea Party leader in Iowa that I thought was great. The thing I like about it is that President Obama needs to be seen confronting these folks. He is at his best when he is communicating.

Not surprisingly, right wingers are asking why Obama is away from Washington. It is silly political criticism as usual. President Bush used to get out all the time, but he would only allow approved invited guests - not all Americans. That is another difference with this President.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mitt Romney- Corporations Are People!

This is why Mitt won't become President. The tea party folks who hate Wall Street must hate Mitt. He doesn't really fit the social conservatives either. Given these observations, it is highly unlikely he will get the Republican nomination.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Jon Stewart's Take on the Wall Street Beating

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Debt Reduction vs. Job Creation

Conservatives believe that if the government cuts debt and a new slew of tax cuts could lead to job creation. It is plain silly because there is no evidence to suggest that would actually happen. Just look at what happened with the FAA shutdown a couple of weeks ago. The government could not collect $200 million in taxes because of the shutdown. Did airlines cut their fares and pass along savings to customers? No. They pocketed the money as straight profit.

The point of capitalism is to make money and increasing shareholder value. It is not a social program. With the economy stalling, there is no incentive whatsoever to expand - why bother when consumer demand isn't there. American corporations are sitting on record cash reserves because of record profits. They won't spend that money until things are actually improving.

How will it improve? We need a huge stimulus effort to make things happen. We don't have any trouble servicing our debt or taking on more debt right now. We need to take advantage of that and use the money to invest in American infrastructure. This would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and get consumers spending again. If you believe we have trouble servicing our debt, then you are not paying attention. As the markets tanked, where did the money go? Gold and U.S. Treasury bonds. Our debt is fine right now - our economy is sick. Cutting government spending will only make things worse.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Rout is On

Not surprising - we're down 300+ right now. I expect the losses to hit about 550 on the Dow today.

There is just no energy or news that will turn around the negative sentiment. Congress is out and the President may feebly talk about some business tax credits, but that won't do anything. We need a huge spending bill by the government to shock the economy to life. Otherwise we are just going to continue to suffer through a negative drift.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Market Will Collapse Tomorrow

The foreign markets are getting hammered tonight as countries weigh the slowing economy and, more acutely, the S&P's credit downgrade.

The Tea Party got their way and sent the nation to the brink. Many of those idiots actually thought a default would be a good thing. If the ceiling had not been raised, the panic and uncertainty would have sent us into a global economic depression.

We didn't avoid damage - the brinksmanship is what drove the S&P downgrade and as a result we are going to end up seeing the dollar collapse and interest rates rise. I've already seen one report that we can expect interest on the national debt to cost about $100 billion more over the next year because of this downgrade. So over a 10 year period we can probably expect another trillion in government costs because of this mess. That wipes out the savings that was negotiated with the deal.

Our problem in this country was not the deficit/debt - those are longer term issues - but the slowing economy and the fundamental weakness. We need more government stimulus, not less. The private sector is not going to start spending because government deficits are lower. If we don't get some sense out of Washington, we are going to end up with Herbert Hoover-type policies that address deficit at a time when we need stimulus. Hoover was convinced - as the Tea Party is - that debt and deficits were a problem and in a slowing economy he cut back on spending. It sent the country further into the Great Depression abyss and created Hoovervilles (tent cities of homeless folks who could not make a living). It was FDR's stimulus/deficit spending that put people back to work.

Friday, August 05, 2011

S&P Downgrades U.S. Debt

For the first time in history, the U.S. lost its AAA credit rating by Standard and Poor's. We are now AA+.

S&P gave the reason for the downgrade:

“we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade. … Our opinion is that elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising U.S. public debt burden in a manner consistent with a ‘AAA’ rating.”

What it means is that there is likely to be higher interest rates in coming weeks/months.

Moody's and Fitch - the other two credit rating agencies - left the U.S. at AAA. On Monday, it is likely there will be major changes in the bond markets and the stock markets will be in a tizzy. I would not be surprised to see a large drop as people try to figure out what to do.

On the political front, there will be typical partisan sniping back and forth, but this downgrade is a result of the ridiculous "debate" that took place in the recent debt ceiling increase. Holding the debt ceiling hostage and failing to seriously address the structural imbalances in our debt are good reasons for the downgrade.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The President is in Trouble

President Obama will be overseeing a stagnant economy with enormous deficits and high unemployment if he does not put forward a serious plan right now. He has walked away from progressive stimulative policies and adopted Republican/Bush-era economic policies. It is an odd play that won't solve our issues and it unnecessarily slaps his base.

He needs to push forward with a robust construction/infrastructure jobs program right now to get people to work. To pay for it and to cut the deficit, he has to push for an immediate end to the Bush tax cuts and the elimination of corporate subsidies and tax loopholes (particularly for Big Oil). This would be enough to create a $100 billion/year jobs program.

I'd still say that he has a great shot at re-election because I think the Republican field is largely a joke. I would support Jon Huntsman because he is reasonable. The rest of them are either spineless (Romney and Pawlenty), crazy (Bachmann), delusional (Newt), or just plain irrelevant (the rest).

Philly is LOADED

The team to beat in the NFC is clearly going to be Philadelphia. With Vick and VY, they have two dynamic QBs. They have the receivers, a solid tight end, and they just signed Ronnie Brown. Their offensive line is suspect, but they have mobile QBs who can make up for it.

On D they got the best CB and D-lineman on the market. With their offense, they just need some competent D and I think they will have that.

Football is a funny thing. You need skill, luck staying healthy, and the ever elusive chemistry. I think the Eagles clearly have skill. I think they will have good chemistry. The question is will they stay healthy.

Keith Olbermann Special Comment August 1st, 2011

Colbert's Take on the Debt Deal

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Bears Moves

It has been a largely uneventful off-season for the Bears. No big, huge splashy free agents and no huge losses. Surprisingly Olin Kreutz turned down a one year $4M deal. There is no way he is going to make more than that. I would have liked to have seen him stay, but am not losing sleep about the loss.

Danieal Manning moved on to Houston and Rashied Davis left for Detroit - not huge losses. Greg Olsen was traded, but he wasn't super productive anyway.

I like the Roy Williams and Marion Barber pickups. We get a bigger receiver and a short yardage back that we really need. The offensive line will be better, but they need to settle on their lineup. First round pick Greg Carimi will start and Chris Spencer should end up as the starting center if he can stay healthy. If those two guys start and are effective it will be huge.

Here is a good piece on the Bears moves so far.

Upon Further Review and Reflection . . .

The debt ceiling increase was essential and I still think the Dems can win politically - if President Obama actually tries to frame the issues more clearly about the need for tax increases. If the super-Congress comes back with just spending cuts - especially to SS and Medicare - then it will be an outright win for Republicans.

What I truly lament is that there is a complete and utter failure on the part of our President to lead. He should have been fighting for tax increases and an increase in the debt ceiling much harder. He allows Tea Party Republicans to set the agenda. They are committed and he simply is not.

President Obama has no real leverage because he chooses not to use it. He caved on the Bush tax cuts in January and largely caved this time. Both times he says that he is ready to fight the bigger looming battles that will come down the road. The question is, "WHEN!?"

Monday, August 01, 2011

Deal Struck on Debt Ceiling

The debt ceiling is going to be raised. Looks like there is a deal that seems to make some sense. In two years there will be some significant cuts in government spending. By the end of the year we will likely see some tax increases and there will be some deficit reduction.

There will be a super committee of members of Congress who will look to cut the deficit further that will make recommendations for deficit reduction by the end of the year. If those are not passed, it will trigger significant across the board spending cuts that would be trouble for both Republicans and Democrats. So we will get a plan through Congress later this year.

People are mad at both the Dems and the Republicans, but I think the plan favors Democrats from a political standpoint. The Tea Party folks will be angry so the Republicans will have to deal with those folks. Dems may not like some of the spending cuts, but it is unlikely that there will be any effects on SS and Medicare recipients.

We'll see what the recommendations are later in the year.